Dalhousie Law Journal


procedural law, courts, Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, legislation, statutes


At the heart of procedural law lie questions concerning the role of courts in a liberal democratic state. What is the essence of their function? What is the proper relationship between the judiciary and other governmental institutions? What is the well-spring for values with which courts can make law? The questions are perennials and will be asked so long as there is interest in the workings and malfunctions of all aspects of government. Courts, like all institutions of government, are continually being assessed on their own terms and in relation to other branches. In Canada this examination has received a new impetus. The recently proclaimed Charter of Rights and Freedoms1 adorns the courts with new status. They have now been given an explicit role in determining the ambit of government power. Their review of legislation and legislative actions is no longer limited, as it previously was, to refereeing between levels of government in this federal state. The courts can now invalidate statutes and strike at governmental actions based on invasion of certain proclaimed fundamental rights and freedoms. They stand now as a bulwark between citizen and state.