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Foreign Law - Countries and Regions: Canada


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Canada is a constitutional monarchy, with the Queen of England as the official head of state, although Canada’s government is actually a parliamentary one.  Canada is a federation with ten provinces and three territories. The federal Parliament is bicameral, with House of Commons and Senate, and a Prime Minister as head of government. Division of powers between the federal and provincial governments is set out in the Constitution. There are a Supreme Court of Canada, a Federal Court and Tax Court, and provincial courts. The provincial courts hear federal and provincial law cases; the Federal Court has jurisdiction limited to claims against the federal government and certain specified subjects such as copyright and patents. Canada has a common law legal system, but Quebec uses civil law for provincial matters.  French and English are both official national languages.

Information about the Canada’s government and legal system can be found at:

Canadian Constitution

The Canadian Constitution consists of multiple documents: The Constitution Act 1867, The Constitution Act 1982, and amendments. The 1982 Act included the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Canadian Case Law

The Supreme Court of Canada provides a guide to the Canadian judicial system.

Print resources for Canada in the MacMillan Law Library are in ranges 372-375 in the Granger Hansell Room, but they are not current. The collection includes the Canada Supreme Court Reports, Federal Court Reports, and Dominion Law Reports (a commercial reporter which includes both provincial and federal cases).

Hein Online: Canada Supreme Court Reports in pdf (1876-most recent)

Lexis has Canadian resources including federal and provincial case reporters. From Lexis Advance, go to Research>>Find Laws by Country or Region.

Westlaw has Federal and Provincial caselaw, as well as caselaw searching by topic

vLex Global has reporters including the Supreme Court, Federal Court, and Federal Court of Appeal.

CANLii is a free source for searchable Canadian cases. Search document text, case name, citation, or docket, or browse by jurisdiction.

The Supreme Court of Canada has individual Supreme Court judgments beginning in 1876 on its website.  The site offers searching and browsing, including by subject.

Canadian Legislation

The Canada Gazette is Canada’s official publication for new statutes and regulations and other government notices. Print publication of the Canada Gazette was discontinued in April 2014, so the publication is now electronic only.  The Canada Gazette consists of:

  • Part I: Notices and proposed regulations
  • Part II: Official regulations
  • Part II: Acts of Parliament

There are Annual Statutes volumes published each year with Acts in chronological order. Canadian statutes are periodically consolidated in the print publication Revised Statutes of Canada, most recently in 1985. Acts and regulations are also made available in consolidated form online, with amendments and update. The consolidated versions on Canada’s Justice Laws website are considered official as of June 1, 2009.

The MacMillan Law Library’s collection in the Granger Hansell Room includes the Revised Statutes of Canada (1985 Consolidation), Statutes of Canada, Consolidated Regulations of Canada (1978), and the Canada Gazette Part II.  The library’s collection is not current, with most sets updated only until 2009.

In addtion:

  • The Department of Justice Laws Website has PDF versions of the Consolidated Acts and Consolidated Regulations. The site offers a basic and advanced search and list of frequently accessed acts.
  • The Canada Gazette is also available in PDF on the Canadian government’s Public Works and Government Services website.
  • The Parliament of Canada has recent bills, journals, and debates. Its LEGISinfo has a list of current bills with filters including by status, including Royal Assent Received, and bills from previous sessions beginning with 2001.
  • CANLii has Constitutional documents, the Consolidated Statutes, and Consolidated Regulations, as well as consolidated statutes and regulations for the provinces.
  • Lexis has Canadian resources including consolidated statutes and regulations for Canada and for some provinces. From Lexis Advance, go to Research>>Find Laws by Country or Region.
  • Westlaw has Federal and Provincial statutes and regulations.
  • vLex Global (subscription database) has the Canada Gazette beginning with 1998.
  • Hein Online has Canada’s Acts of the Parliament of Canada (1792 to current) in its Session Laws Library, and Revised Statutes (1985 with supplements to 1995).
  • NatLaw World (subscription database) has Canadian Acts to find by title search or text search.
  • The University of Toronto has a table of links to Canadian federal and provincial statutes, regulations, gazettes, and legislatures.

Other Research Guides

NYU GlobaLex: Researching Canadian Law

Duke Law Library: Canadian Legal Research

Georgetown Law Library: Canadian Legal Research

York University Osgoode Hall Law Library: Research Guides

University of Ottawa Law Library: Canadian Legislation and Case Law

Subject Guide