Accueil » 14-3 ( 1959) » Les structures fédérales et la législation sociale

Les structures fédérales et la législation sociale

R.H. Mankiewicz


L'histoire de la jurisprudence constitutionnelle canadienne, comparée à celle des Etats-Unis, illustre la faiblesse des lois et des structures juridiques aux prises avec la réalité historique et sociale. Sous l'apparence d'une lutte entre deux conceptions du régime fédéral, il y eut un conflit plus fondamental entre les partisans de deux idéologies: les individualistes et les collectivistes.


Federal Structures and Social Legislation

This paper is an extract from the report presented by the author at the Second International Congress of Social Law held at Brussels (June, 1958). It summarizes the techniques which enable the Supreme Court of United States to admit finally the constitutionality and almost nation-wide application of federal labour legislation. However, the main part of the paper analyses the decisions by which Canadian federal legislation in the social field has been declared unconstitutional by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London, which was, until 1949, the actual Supreme Court of Canada. Examination of the relevant clauses of the Canadian Constitution, viz. the British North America Act, reveals that the judicial review of the constitutionality of Canadian labour legislation could have followed the methods of the United States judges and thus come to uphold such legislation. However, the Privy Council was presented from doing this by a series of "autonomist", "pro-Provincial" precedents which they has established as early as in the last twenty years of the 19th century. Referring in particular to J. Mallory's "Social Credit and the Federal Power in Canada", the conclusion is suggested that the "decentralizing" decisions of the London judges are but another aspect of the contemporary struggle between the principles of free enterprise and State interference.

In the second part the report studies the indirect methods which permit the enactment of federal social legislation in certain specific cases, namely the use of the Penal Code for the establishment of some fundamental workers' rights and the costly grants in aid to encourage uniform and nation-wide provincial social security schemes.