Constitution of Canada

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The Constitution of Canada (La Constitution du Canada in French) is the supreme law in Canada; the country's constitution is an amalgamation of codified acts and uncodified traditions and conventions. It outlines Canada's system of government, as well as the civil rights of all Canadian citizens and those in Canada. Interpretation of the Constitution is called Canadian constitutional law.

The composition of the Constitution of Canada is defined in subsection 52(2) of the Constitution Act, 1982 as consisting of the Canada Act 1982 (including the Constitution Act, 1982), all acts and orders referred to in the schedule (including the Constitution Act, 1867, formerly the British North America Act), and any amendments to these documents.[1] The Supreme Court of Canada held that the list is not exhaustive and includes unwritten components as well.[2]

Contents

History of the Constitution

The first semblance of a Constitution for Canada was the Royal Proclamation of 1763. The Act renamed the northeasterly portion of the former French Province of New France. The newly British “Province of Quebec” was roughly coextensive with the lower third of contemporary Quebec. The Proclamation, which established an appointed colonial government, was the “de facto” constitution of Quebec until 1774, when the British Parliament passed the Quebec Act, which expanded the province’s boundaries to the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, which was one of the grievances listed in the United States Declaration of Independence. Significantly, the Quebec Act also replaced the French criminal law presumption of ‘guilty until proven innocent’ with the English criminal law presumption of ‘innocent until proven guilty’; but the French code or civil law system was retained for non-criminal matters.

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