Dalhousie Law Journal


J. N. Lyon


Canadian Bill of Rights, judicial power of interpretation, English law, civil liberties, Magna Carta, English Bill of Rights, Supreme Court of Canada, human rights jurisprudence.


When the Parliament of Canada enacted the Canadian Bill of Rights' in 1960 it injected fresh authority into the judicial power of interpretation of federal laws. The process of interpretation of the Bill ofRights itself has been difficult for a judiciary trained to accept law as given and to take for granted the great creative periods and personalities of English law without regard to the fact that much if not most of the civil liberties tradition in English (and therefore Canadian) law was triggered by declaratory statutes like Magna Carta and the English Bill ofRights. The decade and a half of existence of the Canadian Bill of Rights has seen the important questions of interpretation go before the Supreme Court of Canada. A survey of where we have come along the path of a Canadian human rights jurisprudence, the reasons for the direction taken, and the possibilities for the future may be useful at this time.