Browse "Politics & Law"

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Canada’s Cold War Purge of LGBTQ from Public Service

Between the 1950s and the 1990s, the Canadian government responded to national security concerns generated by Cold War tensions with the Soviet Union by spying on, exposing and removing suspected LGBTQ individuals from the federal public service and the Canadian Armed Forces. They were cast as social and political subversives and seen as targets for blackmail by communist regimes seeking classified information. These characterizations were justified by arguments that people who engaged in same-sex relations suffered from a “character weakness” and had something to hide because their sexuality was considered a taboo and, under certain circumstances, was illegal. As a result, the RCMP investigated large numbers of people. Many of them were fired, demoted or forced to resign — even if they had no access to security information. These measures were kept out of public view to prevent scandal and to keep counter-espionage operations under wraps. In 2017, the federal government issued an official apology for its discriminatory actions and policies, along with a $145-million compensation package.

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Canada’s Cold War Purge of LGBTQ from the Military

For much of its history, the Canadian military had a policy of punishing or purging LGBTQ members among their ranks. During the Cold War, the military increased its efforts to identify and remove suspected LGBTQ servicemen and women due to expressed concerns about blackmail and national security. In 1992, a court challenge led to the reversal of these discriminatory practices. The federal government officially apologized in 2017.

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Canada's Opioid Crisis

Overdoses from a class of painkiller drugs called opioids are claiming the lives of thousands of Canadians from all walks of life. The death count is the result of an escalating public health crisis: an epidemic of opioid addiction. The crisis is made deadlier by an influx of illicit fentanyl and chemically similar drugs, but it can be traced to the medical over-prescribing of opioids, including oxycodone, fentanyl and morphine.

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Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Programs

Temporary foreign worker programs are regulated by the federal government and allow employers to hire foreign nationals on a temporary basis to fill gaps in their workforces. Each province and territory also has its own set of policies that affect the administration of the programs. Canada depends on thousands of migrant workers every year to bolster its economy and to support its agricultural, homecare, and other lower-wage sectors. In 2014, there were 567,077 migrant workers employed in Canada, with migrant farm workers making up 12 per cent of Canada’s agricultural workforce. A growing labour shortage is projected to increase, with a study by the Conference Board of Canada projecting 113,800 unfilled jobs by 2025.

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Canada-Third World Relations

The decolonization of the European empires after WWII produced many "new nations" and revealed how little economic and social development the colonial system had permitted its wards. The problem of the "Third World" and its "underdevelopment" was thus placed firmly on the global agenda.

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Canada–United States Safe Third Country Agreement

The Canada‒United States Safe Third Country Agreement (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. Several challenges have been raised to the agreement, particularly since July 2017 due to concerns about human rights protections in the US after the election of President Donald Trump and his executive orders on immigration.  In July of 2020, a Canadian federal court judge ruled that the STCA is in violation of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and therefore unconstitutional.

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Canada-US Auto Pact

The Automotive Products Trade Agreement of 1965, better known as the Canada-US Auto Pact, led to the integration of the Canadian and US auto industries in a shared North American market. While it brought great benefits to Canada, it was eventually found to be contrary to international trade rules and was cancelled in 2001. By then it had accomplished its biggest goal — an integrated North American industry with a much stronger Canadian presence.

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Canadian Alliance

The Canadian Alliance party was created from the remains of the former Reform Party of Canada at a convention in Ottawa in January of 2000 in an attempt to merge conservative opposition to the Liberal Party.

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Canadian Arctic Sovereignty

Arctic sovereignty is a key part of Canada’s history and future — 40 per cent of the country’s landmass is in its three northern territories, and the country has 162,000 kilometers km of Arctic coastline. Sovereignty over the area has become a national priority for Canadian governments in the 21st century, thanks to growing international interest in the Arctic due to resource development, climate change, control of the Northwest Passage and access to transportation routes. Said Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2008: “The geopolitical importance of the Arctic and Canada’s interests in it have never been greater.”

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Canadian Bill of Rights

The Canadian Bill of Rights was the country’s first federal law to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms. It was considered groundbreaking when it was enacted by the government of John Diefenbaker in 1960. But it proved too limited and ineffective, mainly because it applies only to federal statutes and not provincial ones. Many judges regarded it as a mere interpretive aid. The bill was cited in 35 cases between 1960 and 1982; thirty were rejected by the courts. Though it is still in effect, the Bill of Rights was superseded by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982.

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Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or simply the Charter, is the most visible and recognized part of Canada’s Constitution. The Charter guarantees the rights of individuals by enshrining those rights, and certain limits on them, in the highest law of the land. Since its enactment in 1982, the Charter has created a social and legal revolution in Canada. It has expanded the rights of minorities and criminal defendants, transformed the nature and cost of criminal investigations and prosecutions, and subjected the will of Parliament and the legislatures to judicial scrutiny — an ongoing source of controversy.

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Canadian Citizenship

Canadian citizenship was first created in 1947 by the Canadian Citizenship Act. Today's version of the law says both Canadian-born and naturalized citizens are equally entitled to the rights of a citizen, and subject to the duties of a citizen. In 2014, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act brought about the first significant amendments to the Citizenship Act since 1977. However, these changes were repealed or amended by legislation passed in 2017.