The Importance of Debating Major Social Issues in Parliament: The Example of Québec’s Act respecting end-of-life care

Vol 37 No 3The Importance of Debating Major Social Issues in Parliament: The Example of Québec’s Act respecting end-of-life care

In an age when parliaments are often criticized for being too partisan in nature, it is still possible for legislatures to serve as exceptional forums to conduct in-depth examination of major social issues and foster broad-based consensus. Using the process employed when considering Quebec’s recent Act respecting end-of-life care as an example, the author shows how important and contentious social matters can be debated and examined in a constructive way by legislators, along with extensive participation from civil society. He concludes by proposing that Canadian parliaments may want to investigate whether to follow the examples of Finland and France by creating special committees to review such issues.

Judicial Recounts: An Inside View

Judicial Recounts: An Inside View

Canada’s 41st general election was held on May 2, 2011. There were bitter disputes over the results in some ridings after certain candidates won their seats with razor­thin margins. To determine once and for all who won and who lost, judicial recounts were ordered in four ridings: Montmagny–L’Islet–Kamouraska–Rivière-du-Loup, Etobicoke Centre, Nipissing–Timiskaming, and Winnipeg Centre. This article looks at the history of judicial recounts, the process that was used to examine the ballots in Montmagny–L’Islet–Kamouraska–Rivière-du-Loup, and Mr. Justice Gilles Blanchet’s rulings on the disputed ballots.

Judicial recounts involve having a judge review the ballots to determine the election results in a riding. The process first appeared in federal electoral legislation in 18781 shortly following the introduction of the secret ballot.2

When Courts Decide Elections

When Courts Decide Elections

Investigations into voter irregularities in the 2011 federal election have led to some court challenges. While it is unusual for courts to overturn the result of an election and order a new one, it is even more rare for a judge to declare one candidate elected in place of another. However, this did occur in three cases discussed in this article.

In 1872, Quebec’s legislators made the courts responsible for ruling on the validity of Legislative Assembly elections. The Superior Court and subsequently the Magistrate’s Court, the Provincial Court and the Court of Quebec each had the task of deciding contested elections.1

The 100th Anniversary of the “La Vergne Law

The 100th Anniversary of the “La Vergne Law

The year 2010 marks the 100th anniversary of the adoption of the first language legislation in Quebec’s parliament. The process began in the House of Commons before moving to the Quebec legislature. In both cases the driving force behind the bill was Armand La Vergne.

The old British North America Act (now the Constitution Act, 1867) states that either the English or the French language may be used by any person in the debates and business of the Houses of the Parliament of Canada and of the Houses of the Legislature of Quebec and in any pleading or process before the courts of Canada and Quebec.