Parliamentary Privilege, The Canadian Constitution and the Courts. - Ottawa Law Review

Parliamentary Privilege, The Canadian Constitution and the Courts.

By Ottawa Law Review

  • Release Date: 2008-06-22
  • Genre: Law
  • Size: 341.12 KB

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The privileges and immunities of the Houses of Parliament are part of the law of the Constitution. Courts have struggled with the role and place of these privileges in the constitutional system, notably with respect to their relationship to other parts of the Constitution, including the provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This paper explores that relationship and clarifies the status of parliamentary privilege under the Constitution, having regard to the constitutional text, the principles underlying or informing the interpretation of the constitutional provisions, including the principle of the separation of powers, and the leading cases--notably the decisions of the Supreme Court in New Brunswick Broadcasting and Vaid. The parliamentary privilege is a necessary adjunct to the legislative and deliberative functions of the houses, and to the maintenance of the dignity and efficiency of those bodies. The paper concludes that parliamentary privilege is not, nor should it be, a substantive end in itself, and that the courts would do well to maintain that attitude in scrutinizing contested claims of privilege where the existence, scope or necessity of the asserted category of privilege is at issue, and where there are competing constitutional principles, rights and interests in the balance. Les privileges et immunites parlementaires font partie du droit constitutionnel. Les tribunaux judiciaires ont tente de preciser et de mieux encadrer le role que joue le privilege parlementaire au sein du systeme constitutionnel, notamment en ce qui concerne le lien avec d'autres elements de la Constitution, y compris les dispositions de la Charte canadienne des droits a libertes. Dans cet essai, nous examinerons ces rapports et nous jetterons un eclairage nouveau sur le statut du privilege parlementaire au regard de la Constitution, en tenant compte du texte de celle-ci, les principes sons-jacents qui appuient l'interpretation du texte, dont la doctrine de la separation des pouvoirs--ainsi que les arrets principaux, dont les decisions de la Cour supreme dans les affaires New Brunswick Broadcasting et Vaid. En guise de conclusion, nous soulignons que le privilege partementaire n'est pas--et ne devraitpas etre--une fin en soi, et que les tribunaux devraient adopter cette perspective en examinant toute contestation d'un pretendu privilege lorsque l'existence, la portee ou la necessite de celui-ci est en cause, et lorsqu'il y a des principes, droits et interets constitutionnels qui sont en concurrence.

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