5 Amazing Examples of Constitutional Law Cases in Canada

5 Amazing Examples of Constitutional Law Cases in Canada 1

Governmental institutions make laws in a free and democratic society to regulate behavior and maintain peace. It has been described beautifully as science and law of justice.

But why are we speaking of laws and constitutions? Because this article will introduce you to some examples of constitutional law cases in Canada. 

The term “Law” represents different kinds of rules and principles. Law is those rules that regulate human conduct/behavior. Law means Justice, Morality, Reason, Order, and Righteousness from society’s viewpoint.

The Constitution establishes the basic principles of Canada’s democratic government when defining the powers of the three branches of government.

• The Executive

• The Legislative

• The Judiciary

Parliament is the legislative branch of the federal government. Parliament consists of the Queen (usually represented by the Governor-General). It has two components, the Monarch and the Senate. 

However, the Executive branch includes just the Monarch that is represented by the Governor-General, the Prime Minister, and the Cabinet. 

The Judiciary or the Judicial system is the collective judges of the courts of laws in Canada. 

Speaking of laws and courts next comes lawyers. What is the work of a lawyer?

A lawyer’s work can be divided into three categories. Firstly, representing a client as a defendant or as other parties in front of counsel, secondly carrying out legal search and thirdly giving advice or legal solution to the clients and maintaining a formal relationship with them. And lastly, they also present evidence in front of the Court and keep their grounds of argument.


law justice and examples of constitutional law cases

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Canadian Legal System

The Canadian legal system is based on an essential combination of common law and civil law. Common law is a right that is not written down as a law. Common law has evolved into a case-based rule system. This rule guides the judge in later decisions regarding similar cases.

Since the collapse of human civilization, humanity has had some rules, or it has ruled itself in society, so the law sets the standard for us to live if we want to be part of society. The law creates rules and regulations for society to give justice and freedom, protecting us from our government.

Constitutional law

Justice, Statue, Lady Justice

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The Constitution is a law that establishes, transfers, or restricts public institutions. Most of the great constitutions are written in modern times, but not always. Some important constitutions, such as the British Constitution, are not written.

The Constitution is a field of law that deals with interpreting and applying the powers, rights, and freedoms established by the officially adopted Constitution or the Charter.

This provision includes the powers of various government departments and the rights of citizens. The Constitution evolves as interpreted by courts and legislatures. Protection of human rights and civil liberties is a common element of the Constitution.

The Canadian Constitutional law is unique, with many constitutional law cases. The scriptures are included in several decrees but are partially written. It is not partially written and consists of usage, practices, customs, and conventions. And, in part, the common law rules developed by the courts.

How does the constitution work with other Canadian laws?

The Constitution is Canada’s highest law. All other laws must be compatible with the rules set forth therein. If not, it may not be valid. Therefore, the Canadian Charter is part of the Constitution and is an essential law in Canada.

However, the rights and freedoms of the Charter are not absolute. They can be restricted to protect other rights or the value of essential countries. For example, laws against hatred promotion and child pornography can limit freedom of expression.

Section 1 of the Charter states that “the rights of the Charter can be restricted by law as long as those restrictions are shown to be reasonable in a free and democratic society.”

Guide on how to be a lawyer in Canada?

To get a law degree in Canada, you need to complete the following steps :

Step 1 – Get a graduation pre-law degree

Step 2- Take LSAT

Step 3- Go to law school

Step 4- take bar council Exam

Examples of constitutional law cases:

These constitution cases provided below will provide a broad view of Canadian society and its justice system. Following are the cases:

Guarantees of charter rights and freedoms- section 1

This is the first of examples of Constitutional law cases 

Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedom guarantees the rights. It was adopted in 1982, and liberty is established only to the reasonable limit stipulated by law that is court determined and can be justified in a free country. The importance of this law is profound for the welfare of Canadian society.

It applies to all governments and can be challenged if not adhered to or someone violates it. But under certain circumstances, it may not come under it. There are many judgments regarding the same – federal government, provincial and territorial – and includes protection of the following provisions :

  • fundamental freedoms, democratic rights.
  • the authority to live and seek employment anywhere in Canada
  • legal rights (life, liberty, and personal security)
  • equality rights for all like public education
  • the official languages of Canada
  • minority language education rights
  • Canada’s multicultural heritage
  • Indigenous peoples’ religious rights

The values and principles which guide the Supreme Court in applying section 1 include the inherent dignity of the human person, commitment to social justice and equality, accommodation of broad beliefs, respect for community and cultural identity, and faith in social and political institutions, which enhance the participation of individuals and groups in society. This is what the Supreme Court concluded.

Examples of constitutional law cases –

1. R. v. Oakes, [1986] 1 SCR 103,

Case Name: Her Majesty the Queen v David Edwin Oakes

It is a case decided by the Supreme Court of Canada which instituted the famous Oakes test, a testing of the reasonable limitations clause (section 1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that lets in lifelike barriers on rights and freedoms via regulation if the problem is encouraged by a “pressing and big objective” and can be “demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”

Anyone whose right has been infringed or a violation can file court cases, and the trial will be held in Court.

Fundamental Freedom- section 2

This is another example of constitutional law cases

The provisions under the section of charter law are that everyone has the following fundamental rights i.e

freedom of conscience and religion
freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication
freedom of peaceful assembly
freedom of association.”

Under Section 2 of the Charter, that court-created, Canadians can follow the religion of their choice. In addition, freedom of thought, belief, and expression is guaranteed. The Charter protects the right of the press and other media to hear, as the media is an essential means of communicating ideas. The right to gather and act in peaceful groups is protected, as is the privilege to belong to trade unions and other associations.

These freedoms are set out in the Charter to access Canadian citizens to freely develop, express, gather, and discuss ideas and communicate them well to others, directly affecting them. These activities are the primary form of personal freedom. These processes are also crucial for a democratic country like Canada. In a democracy, people can discuss public policy issues, criticize governments, and solve social problems.

Canadian courts have depicted section 2(b) very broadly:

The Supreme Court held has adopted the following three-part legislative scheme for analyzing section 2(b)

i) Does the endeavor in query have expressive content, thereby bringing it inside area 2(b) protection?

ii) Does the technique or area of this expression get rid of that protection?

iii) If the expression is protected by section 2(b), does the government action in question infringe that protection, either in purpose or effect? 

 Examples of constitutional law cases –

2. [1990] 3 S.C.R. 870

Case Name: Donald Clarke Andrews and Robert Wayne Smith v. Her Majesty the Queen

This case is a decision of the Supreme Court of Canada reflecting upon section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms concerning the “freedom of expression.”

The case was against Donald Andrews and Robert Smith who were accused of promoting hatred via controversial statements published in their bi-monthly magazine. They were charged according to 319(2) of the Criminal Code

The concern raised before the Supreme court was that whether or not 319(2) of the Criminal Code violated laws under section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and if it did, was it defensible under Section 1. 

For this, the court upheld that it did violate the laws of the Charter but under Section 1, it was justifiable. 

Democratic rights- section 3-5

This paragraph provides other examples of Constitutional law cases 

Democratic laws and acts of provincial citizen law are presented in section 3. The maximum duration of legislative bodies’ local law is given in section 4, and the annual sitting of legislative bodies is shown in section 5.

Section 3 of the act process:

Every citizen of Canada has the right to vote in an election of members of the House of Commons or of a legislative assembly and qualify for membership therein.”

The Supreme Court puts a limitation on this act that people above 18 years can only vote, other than that if you are a Canadian citizen above 18 and are stopped from voting, you can challenge this in front of the Court and the judgment will be made by the judges in the proceedings.

Examples of law cases –

3. 2003] 1 S.C.R. 912

The above link is the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada’s selection on the proper way to participate in a federal election under part 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Court struck down a provision requiring a political celebration to nominate 50 candidates earlier than receiving positive benefits.

Section 4 of the act process that – Maximum period of legislative bodies is for 5 years.

(i) No House of Commons and no legislative assembly shall continue for longer than five years from the date modified for the return of the writs at a general election of its members.

Continuation in exceptional circumstances:

(ii) No house of commoners and no legislative assembly should continue for more than five years. In the time of actual or apprehended war, invasion, or insurrection, a House of Commons may additionally be ensured and continued by Parliament. The legislature may continue a legislative assembly beyond five years if such continuation is not opposed by the votes of more than one-third of the members of the House of Commons or the legislative assembly, as the case may be.

 Examples of constitutional law cases –

4. Prior to 1982, section 91(1) 

Constitution Act, 1867, as enacted by the British North America Act (No. 2) of 1949, determined the duration of the House of Commons in the same way as section 4 of the Charter.

Section 5 of the active process: Every twelve months, there has to be a gathering/meeting of the Parliament and each of the legislatures, at least once. 

Another basic democratic principle that the Supreme Court found is that a government must explain its actions to the people. Section 5 of the Charter clarifies that Parliament and the legislative assemblies must hold a session at least once a year. This ensures that elected contributors and the public are likely to query authorities’ moves in many instances and have a rational connection.

Women’s right to liberty and security- section 6

This is one of the last examples of constitutional law cases 

Gender, Equality, Female, Women, Woman

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Examples of constitutional law cases –

5. R. v. Morgentaler, [1988] 1 SCR 30, R v Morgentaler,

Case Name: Dr. Henry Morgentaler, Dr. Leslie Frank Smoling, and Dr. Robert Scott v Her Majesty The Queen

Doctors Morgenthaler, Smolling, and Scott run clinics in Toronto to perform abortions for women who do not have the accredited or approved hospital certificate required by the criminal law. Doctors have been charged with intentional abortion in violation of the Criminal Code.

This case was a Supreme Court of Canada decision that stated that the abortion clause under the Criminal Code was unconstitutional. Under section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it was considered a violation of women’s rights to security of security person.

Since that ruling, Canada has abolished the criminal law that regulates abortion.

Unconstitutional laws

Unconstitutional laws are an act that gives no rights. On the contrary, it violates a person’s liberty. The judge and their judicial review decide whether a law is unconstitutional or not by giving judgments.

Depending on the type of legislation, a statute may be declared unconstitutional by any court or only by special constitutional Supreme Courts with powers to rule on the validity of an act or a law.

Here is an example of the following act:

Some of the best examples of the Supreme Court decisions that declared U.S. laws unconstitutional include:

1. Roe v. Wade (1973).

Case Name: Jane Roe, et al. v. Henry Wade, District Attorney of Dallas County

This was a ground-breaking decision of the Supreme Court (U.S.). It proclaimed that the Constitution of the United States is to protect a pregnant women’s right to choose whether or not to go for an abortion without any government interference and restrictions. 

2. Brown v. Board of Education (1954)

Case Name: Oliver Brown, et al. v. Board of Education of Topeka, et al.

In this case, the U.S Supreme Court made another ground-breaking decision, where it stated that the state laws concerning racial segregation in all the public schools are unconstitutional. 

So, these were some examples of constitutional law cases and unconstitutional laws cases in Canada. 

I hope you it interesting enough. 

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