Constitution of Canada

Where can I find the Constitution of Canada?

Like many questions about Canada, there is no simple answer to this. To find all the parts of the Constitution of Canada you have to look in a number of statutes.

The original founding document was the British North America Act, proclaimed in 1867, which created the new country of Canada out of what are now the provinces of Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario. Then, each new province was added by its own act such as the Alberta Act (1905); the British Columbia Terms of Union (1871) and the Newfoundland Act (1949).

In 1982, the Constitution Act was passed to re-invent the Canadian federal system. This Act renamed the British North America Act the Constitution Act, 1867. All subsequent amendments to the British North America Act were also renamed, e.g., the Constitution Act, 1871. At the same time the Canada Act of 1982 was passed in the United Kingdom thus ending the legislative authority of the UK parliament over Canada. A very important part of the Canadian Constitution is the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, (see links below) which is contained in Part 1 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

Last Reviewed: August 2012

What areas of law is the Government of Canada responsible for?

The federal government has responsibility over numerous matters, including:

  • criminal law;
  • federal taxation;
  • navigation and shipping;
  • banking;
  • patents and copyright;
  • national defense;
  • foreign affairs;
  • fisheries;
  • divorce;
  • trade and commerce;
  • citizenship and Indian affairs.

As well, it provides services such as the postal system.

Last Reviewed: August 2012

What are the provinces’ areas of responsibility?

Some areas of provincial jurisdiction include:

  • taxation for provincial purposes;
  • the provincial courts and civil procedure in the courts;
  • natural resources;
  • education;
  • hospitals;
  • property laws;
  • solemnization of marriage;
  • the creation and regulation of municipalities, and employment standards laws, licensing, provincial prisons and many other matters touching on life in the province.

Last Reviewed: August 2012

What are the legal responsibilities of municipalities?

Municipalities are created in laws passed by the provincial government. Each province has some form of law to create and regulate its municipalities. This law is usually called the Municipal Government Act or some variation. Municipalities are given their power through this Act. The powers usually include

  • the setting and collection of property, school, and business taxes;
  • public transportation;
  • police, fire, and sanitation services;
  • roads and streets;
  • parks; and
  • the provision of water and power services, among other powers to make cities and towns run efficiently.

Last Reviewed: August 2012


See Also

For more information, see these other Canadian Legal FAQs.


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