Public Law I
The Constitution and the Courts in Canada
Fall 2005
AS/POLS 3600 3.0 / GL/POLS 3135 3.0

Course Director:  Ian Greene

This course is being offered as a technology-enhanced learning course.  Lectures will be held Friday afternoons from 2:30 to 4:00 in Stedman D; they will be videoconferenced to Glendon College in Room 144 Glendon Hall.  Most tutorials will be conducted on WebCT at a time convenient to students; some will be held in person from 4:00 to 5:20.

All students in this course MUST register for a York WebCT account.  To activate your York WebCT Account, first activate your York email, and then go to this web page:

The course outline can be downloaded from the WebCT account, or you can click here: course outline.

Students will be divided into ten tutorial groups of about 15 students each.  Each group will prepare for a mock trial to be held toward the end of term.  Students will prepare written assignments associated with the mock trial (eg. students assigned to be judges will write judgments; students assigned as counsel will write factums [arguments]; students assigned as expert witnesses will write affidavits [reports].)  Each mock trial will be videotaped and webstreamed for all tutorial groups to view.

The final examination will be held as follows:

Fri, 9 Dec 2005




Half the exam (50%) will consist of objective questions (eg. fill-in-the-blanks, and matching questions), and the other half (50%) will consist of an essay question. 

On the final exam, students will be given at least five essay topics to choose from, and must write on only one of the topics.  Each topic will focus specifically on one part of the course (eg. court decisions involving POGG, or court decisions involving 92(13) vs. 91(2)), but they will be broad enough so that students can use knowledge from all parts of the course.   I recommend that to prepare for the essay, choose one broad subject area of the course (eg. POGG, Trade & Commerce/Property & Civil Rights, the Canadian court system, constitutional reform) and review all of the required and suggested readings, as well as your class notes, for that broad subject area.  Your essay will be graded on a) the extent to which you have demonstrated your knowledge and understanding of course materials, b) your ability to develop and logically pursue an argument relevant to the question, and c) the clarity of your essay.

About 2/3 of the objective questions will be taken from the part of the course after the mid-term exam.  A good way to study for the questions fromt the first part of the course (the third of the exam prior to the mid-term) is to review your mid-term exam.  The final exam questions won't be exactly the same, but if you know the right answer to the mid-term you're likely to know the right answer to a similar question on the final.  

The objective questions will be comprehensive.  They will cover every case that is on the course outline.  What you need to know about the cases is the name of the case, the impugned legislation, whether the impugned legislation was upheld or struck down (and why), and the significance of the case for our understanding of the impact of judicial review of the division of powers or of administrative law in Canada.  (It's useful to know the approximate date of the decision, or at least the order the cases were decided, because this will help you not to get cases mixed up on the exam.  For example, in some of the matching questions, a case might be referred to as an "early" JCPC decision, or a "recent" Supreme Court decision.  So, having an approximate knowledge of the date of the case will help you.  You won't be asked, however, in which years particular decisions were made.)   Many of the objective questions will deal with cases, but others will deal with other important facts from the study guide that you ought to know.

Strategy for final exam:  I recommend that as soon as you receive the exam, go to the essay section and choose the topic you are going to write on.   Think of an argument, and begin to jot down ideas you want included in your essay.  Then do the objective part of the exam, as quickly as you can.  If you can't remember an answer, leave it and come back to it later.  As you do the objective questions, additional ideas will come to you that you might want in your essay, so keep adding to your list.  (Your mind is capable of multi-tasking!)  When you've finished the objective questions, focus on your essay.  Are you still happy with your argument?  Then organize your ideas into a coherent structure.  As you write your paper, ensure that you leave yourself enough time to compose a strong conclusion.  Then go back to the objective questions and do any that you couldn't remember.  Then proof-read your essay.  Then hand it in and celebrate.

September 9 powerpoint notes

September 16 powerpoint notes

September 23 powerpoint notes

September 30 powerpoint notes

Ocober 7 powerpoint notes

October 21 powerpoint notes

October 28 powerpoint notes

November 4 powerpoint notes

November 11 powerpoint notes

November 18 powerpoint notes

November 25 powerpoint notes

December 2 powerpoint notes

Mid-term Exam Review

Final Exam Review

Court Visit Assignment

Course Outline, Fall, 2005

 Cases that will be covered in this course, some of which will be useful for preparation for mock trial:
1.    Peace, Order and Good Government I:  Russell v. The Queen, Local Prohibition Case, & Re Board of Commerce Act, Snider
2.    Peace, Order and Good Government II (Employment and Social Insurance Act Reference (1937), A.G. Ont. v. Canada Temperance Federation (1946), Johannesson v. West St. Paul (1952), Reference re Offshore Mineral Rights (1967), Ref re Anti-Inflation Act (1976), Queen v. Crown Zellerbach (1988)
3:  Property & Civil Rights vs. Trade and Commerce (Parsons, Proprietary Articles Trade Assoc. Ref., Natural Products Marketing Ref., Ontario Farm Products Marketing Act Ref., Chicken and Egg Reference, Labatt)
4.   Interdelegation, and the Treaty-Making and Implementation Powers
5.   Potash and Oldman River cases
6.   Other division of powers cases(R. v. Hydro-Québec, O’Hara v. B.C., CN v. Courtois, AGT v. Canada, Ont. Hydro v. Lab.

Supplementary Information:

The Canadian court structure

Constitution Acts, 1867 to 1982

Highlights of the Canadian constitution

Case Brief Examples, by Kris Crawford Dickinson (Parsons and Russell)

Canadian Judicial Council

How federally-appointed judges are selected

How provincially-appointed judges are selected in Ontario

Ethics Statement of Canadian Judicial Council