Happy Canada Day!

Today is a good day to reflect on some of Canada’s legal milestones.

– The Supreme Court of Canada was established in 1875;

– In 1892 Canada’s Criminal Code was enacted;

– In 1917 the bill called “War Tax Upon Income” came into law as a temporary taxation law. Many predicted it would become permanent and today it’s called the Income Tax Act ;

– Women gain the right to vote in 1918;

– In 1921 Agnes McPhail becomes the first female in the House of Commons;

– In 1929 Canada’s final court of appeal, Britain’s Privy Council, declared that “women are persons” overturning the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision that they were not;

– The Communist Party of Canada is outlawed in 1940;

– The Supreme Court of Canada replaces Britain’s Privy Council as Canada’s highest Court of Appeal in 1949;

– Homosexuality is decriminalized in 1968, the same year that Canada has its first federal Divorce Act;

– In 1969 abortion is legalized where the health of the mother is in jeopardy;

– In 1973 Canada acknowledges that aboriginal ownership of land existed prior to the colonization of Canada;

– Canada’s death penalty is struck down in 1976;

– In 1989 common law spouse Mrs. Pettkus is entitled to a portion of her common law husband’s property through the legal concept of unjust enrichment. She has no claim to property under the family property statues as the couple never married;

– In 1982 the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is established;

– The Supreme Court of Canada in 1993 rules that the prohibition on assisted suicide does not violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and upholds the law against the wilful taking of another’s life;

– In 1994 and again at his retrial in 1997, Robert Latimer is found guilty of second degree murder in the death of his disabled daughter. His “mercy killing” defence is not accepted by the Courts;

– A common law spouse in Nova Scotia argues before the Supreme Court of Canada that she should be treated like a married spouse for the purpose of the division of family assets. In 2002 the Court rejects her claim;

– In 2004 Canada recognizes and legalizes same-sex marriage;

– The British Columbia Court of Appeal celebrates its 100th birthday in 2010!

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