Canadian Labor Laws and the Treaty

By Bryce M. Stewart | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
DOMINION AND PROVINCIAL POWERS IN LABOR LEGISLATION

"Untried in war, Canada stood high among the nations in the organization of her armies. I pray that in the organization of peace activities her effort will not be less worthy nor less outstanding," (From Sir Robert Borden's message to the National Industrial Conference, September 15, 1919.)

THE division of authority between the Dominion and the provinces in matters affecting labor has been the subject of much discussion. According to the British North America Act, Canada's written constitution, passed by the Imperial Parliament in 1867, the Dominion Parliament is empowered "to make Laws for the Peace, Order, and Good Government of Canada, in relation to all Matters not coming within the Classes of Subjects by this Act assigned exclusively to the Legislatures of the Provinces." While this introductory clause of Section 91 gives the Dominion this general authority, certain definite powers are also specified -- the regulation of trade and commerce, the raising of money by any mode or system of taxation, navigation and shipping, seacoast and inland fisheries, naturalization and aliens, the criminal law, except the constitution of courts of criminal jurisdiction and "such Classes of Subjects as are expressly excepted in the Enumeration of the Classes of Subjects by this Act assigned exclusively to the Legislatures of the Provinces." A final clause indicates that any matter within these specified Dominion powers shall not be considered of a local or private nature and within the subjects assigned exclusively to the provinces.

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