The PLEA: Canada's Legal System: An Introduction

The PLEA: Canada's Legal System: An Introduction

Who Rules Us?

Canada is a Monarchy. This means we have a Queen as the head of state. Queen Elizabeth II, who lives in Britain, is the Queen of Canada.

However, the Queen does not make the laws in Canada. Instead, we elect governments to make our laws. These laws tell us how we should behave towards each other. Governments must also obey the laws.

Each level of government is responsible for different areas of law. This includes the federal government of Canada, the provincial government of Saskatchewan, and the municipal government of the community where you live.

For example, the Government of Canada makes laws to control crime across the country. The Government of Saskatchewan makes laws about driving on provincial highways. The City of Regina makes laws about the size of the house you can build in the city.

Canada’s laws involve us every day. People in Canada must:

obey the laws even if they do not agree with them

respect the rights of other people, even if they believe different things

Consider: Changing Laws

All Canadians must obey the law. However, people in Canada are free to work towards changing laws they do not agree with. A good example of this is the story of Mike Nemeth, a citizen of Saskatoon.

Nemeth was a longboarder (longboards are a type of skateboard.) He did not agree with a city law that fined people $15 for skateboarding and longboarding in the city’s downtown.

Nemeth believed that skateboarding and longboarding were legitimate forms of transportation. So he began an online petition that asked the city to recognize these forms of transportation. His petition was well-thought-out: It outlined four specific reasons why longboards should be allowed downtown.

Nemeth presented his petition to City Council. They considered it, and then changed the law. Skateboarders and longboarders are now allowed to use downtown trails and cycling lanes for transportation-related purposes.

  1. Canada has been described as a country of “peace, order, and good government.”
    1. What is peace? Why is peace necessary to create fair laws?
    2. What is order? Why is order necessary to create fair laws?
    3. What is good government? Why is good government necessary to create fair laws?
  2. How does the process that led to Saskatoon changing its skateboarding laws reflect peace, order, and good government?
  3. Why is it vital that people have a voice in the law-making process?

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