The Attorney General’s Forgotten Role as Legal Advisor to the Legislature: A Comment on Schmidt v Canada (Attorney General)
(2019) 52:1 UBC L Rev 201
26 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2019
Date Written: February 5, 2019
In Schmidt v Canada (Attorney General), the Federal Court of Appeal interpreted a series of provisions requiring the Minister of Justice to inform the House of Commons if government bills or proposed regulations are “inconsistent with” the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the Canadian Bill of Rights. The Federal Court of Appeal, like the Federal Court below, held that these provisions are triggered only where there is no credible argument for consistency. In doing so, both Courts relied, in part, on a separation of powers argument. They stated that the Minister of Justice and Attorney General is not a legal advisor to Parliament. However, this statement was a legal error: federal legislation provides that the Attorney General is, as a matter of law, a legal advisor to Parliament.
Keywords: Attorney General, Minister of Justice, Legal Ethics, Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
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