In the R. v. Van der Peet case (1996), the Supreme Court of Canada defined and restricted what constitutes Indigenous rights, as previously defined by the R. v. Sparrow case (1990). Criticized for narrowing the scope of Indigenous rights, the Van der Peet test — a set of criteria established by the court to prove Indigenous rights — stipulates that the Indigenous custom, practice or tradition in question must be integral to the distinctive culture of the Aboriginal group claiming the right and originate from before contact with the Europeans.
The term “Lost Canadians” refers to people who either lost the Canadian citizenship they had at birth, or didn’t qualify for citizenship that would normally have been theirs by right in Canada. This was the result of various haphazard and discriminatory laws and attitudes surrounding Canadian citizenship since Confederation. Much progress has been made reforming the law in the 21st century, however, some Lost Canadians still remained without citizenship as of 2017.3
Family law is critical to most Canadians as it governs relationships between spouses, and between parents and their children. In family law, marriage and divorce fall under federal jurisdiction but most other issues, including adoption and matrimonial property disputes, fall under provincial laws that vary widely. Traditional family structures have changed significantly over time, with increasing numbers of same-sex and common law relationships, and growing divorce rates. This has led to intense debates over the future of family law, court challenges and provincial reviews of legislation.
Organized Crime is defined in the Criminal Code of Canada as a group of three or more people whose purpose is the commission of one or more serious offences that would "likely result in the direct or indirect receipt of a material benefit, including a financial benefit, by the group." But perhaps a more succinct definition was given by a former United States mob boss who described it as "just a bunch of people getting together to take all the money they can from all the suckers they can."
Everett George Klippert was the only Canadian ever declared a dangerous sexual offender and sentenced to what amounted to life in prison, for no other reason than he was homosexual. Outrage over that sentence, upheld by the Supreme Court in 1967, led to the decriminalization of homosexual acts two years later. In 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau indicated he would recommend a pardon for Klippert and consider pardoning all men who were charged, convicted and punished simply because they were gay.
The Canada‒United States Safe Third Country Agreement (hereafter the STCA) sets out the rules of refugee/asylum claims between Canada and the United States. This agreement stipulates that a refugee must claim asylum in the first country in which they arrive, either Canada or the US, and precludes their entry into the neighbouring country unless they qualify for an exemption. A number of challenges have been raised to the agreement, particularly since July 2017 — as a result of concerns about human rights protections in the US after the election of President Donald Trump, and particularly his executive orders on immigration.
On 19 December 2015, Dennis Oland was convicted of second-degree murder in the bludgeoning death of his father, Richard (Dick) Oland. A year later the conviction was overturned on appeal, and a new trial ordered. The initial, 65-day trial was the longest in New Brunswick history. It also drew national attention due to its brutal nature and revelations about the storied Oland family, founders of the Moosehead brewing empire.
A common-law union occurs when two people live together in a conjugal relationship, generally for at least a year (or more depending on the province in which they reside). Common-law couples in Canada have many of the same legal, parental and financial rights and obligations as married couples.
Alikomiak (also spelled Alekámiaq) and Tatimagana, Inuit hunters from the central Arctic, were the first Inuit to be condemned and executed for murder under Canadian law on 1 February 1924. The trials of Alikomiak and Tatimagana have been described as demonstrations of federal authority over the Inuit as well as of Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic.
The Autonomy Bills were the 1905 laws that created the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta out of the North-West Territories (1870–1905). Despite strong support for provincehood, frustrations were evident. The Bills’ most fiercely contested elements revolved around boundaries, the federal government’s ongoing control over public lands and resources and the educational clauses in the Bills.
The Naval Service Act, passed by the Liberal government of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, established the Royal Canadian Navy on 4 May 1910. Before the Act passed, Canada did not have a navy of its own and relied on the British Royal Navy. This new defence initiative was a direct response to the naval arms race between Britain and Germany in the years before the First World War and the 1909 panic in Britain over expansion of the German navy. The Act was built on earlier, distinctively Canadian approaches to defence and its key provisions remained in force until 1950. The Naval Service Act was bitterly opposed by French Canadian nationalists, led by Henri Bourassa, who feared deeper involvement in imperial affairs.
The North-West Territories Act, passed by the Liberal government of Alexander Mackenzie in April 1875, was an attempt to improve government administration and direct the development of the North-West Territories. Established in 1870, the North-West Territories was the first Canadian territory. It covered a vast area, stretching from Labrador to the Rocky Mountains and from the forty-ninth parallel to the Arctic Ocean.
The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was enacted by the United States Congress on 18 September 1850. It extended the reach of the institution of slavery into the free Northern states, stating that refugees from enslavement living there could be returned to enslavement in the South once captured. The Act led thousands of freedom-seekers to take refuge in Canada. It was repealed 28 June 1864.
The RCMP is Canada’s national police force – providing an array of services from municipal policing, to national security intelligence gathering, to the legendary Musical Ride. Despite a series of scandals in recent decades, the RCMP remains one of Canada's most iconic national institutions.1
The Manitoba Act of 1870 provided for the admission of Manitoba as Canada's fifth province. It marked the legal resolution of the struggle for self-determination between people of the Red River Colony and the federal government, that began with the purchase of Rupert’s Land by Canada. The Act contained protections for the region’s Métis. However, these protections were not fully realized, resulting in many Métis leaving the province for the North-West Territories.
Marijuana has been prohibited in Canada for nearly a century, but the federal government has introduced legislation to make it legal by 2018 – a change supported by a majority of Canadians, despite concerns about the drug's addictiveness, especially among young people. Legalizing marijuana requires changes to international treaties, Canadian laws, and social practices.
In Canada, political and law-making power is shared by the provincial and federal levels of government, as set out in the constitution. Section 93 of the Constitution Act, 1867 gives the provincial governments the exclusive jurisdiction to make laws governing education.