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Structure of Canadian Law
The resources on this page can help you to learn about how laws are made and how the legal system functions. Some provide a historical context for the governance of Canada.
See also: CPLEA resource Accessing Justice: Candian Legal System.
CPLEA Suggested Resources
Not sure where to begin finding answers to your questions. Get started with our suggested resources. See additional resources below for more information.
Canada's parliamentary system is open and democratic. It offers the opportunity for people to give their input and it is designed to make sure proposals for laws are carefully considered. Canada's Parliament consists of three parts: the King, the Senate and the House of Commons. They work together to make the laws for our country. This guide provides an overview of the following topics: The Canadian Parliament, Who's Who in the House, A Working Day in the Commons Chamber, Parliamentary Highlights, Making Canada's Laws,The Role of a Member of Parliament, and Being Part of Parliament.
This short online resource from Courthouse Libraries BC explains how a Bill becomes an Act, or Statute, in Canada.
This resource is made available throught LawCentral Schools. Part 1 of this power point with audio gives an overview of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms since its beginning. It discusses what the Charter is and is not and explains in detail the meaning using examples in the specific sections of the Charter. Part 2 talks about Section 8, search and seizure. It delves more deeply into all the tests the courts do to determine if there really is a Charter infringement. There are some review questions at the end of the presentation.
The federal and provincial and territorial governments are all responsible for the judicial system in Canada. Only the federal government can appoint and pay judges of the superior, or upper-level, courts in the provinces. Parliament can also establish a general court of appeal and other courts. It has created the Supreme Court of Canada, the Federal Court and the Federal Court of Appeal, as well as the Tax Court. This Justice Canada webpage provides an outline of Canada's court system.
Created by the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta and made available on LawCentral Schools, the first part of this narrated powerpoint focused on Canadian law presents information on how the legal structure of Canada is organized, the history of our laws and an explanation of the Rule of Law. The second part discusses legislation including who makes it, how it is made and how it is enforced. It discusses the 3 levels of government that make laws, with the laws being made according to each government's responsibilities. The last part of the presentation focuses on Common Law and what it is, how it is made and how it is enforced.