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Constitutional & Charter of Rights

Constitutional & Charter of Rights
Constitutional & Charter of Rights
Expertise / Practices / Litigation & Dispute Resolution / Constitutional & Charter of Rights

Canada's constitution is unique in that it is comprised of common law rules developed by courts, written statutes and unwritten rules based on custom, usage and practices. When issues of legislative constitutionality or validity of government action arise, businesses in federally regulated industries need counsel knowledgeable about all these aspects of the law and their application.

Blakes has one of the premier constitutional law practices in Canada. Banking, finance, energy, oil and gas, communications, telecommunications, aviation, insurance companies and First Nations, among others, all rely on our lawyers for authoritative advice on Charter of Rights and Freedoms, aboriginal rights and federalism issues. Working closely with our pre-eminent Media & Defamation and Freedom of Information practices, we also represent Canada's major newspapers, publishers and broadcasters on constitutional law challenges.

Because of our extensive experience and record of success, we have been retained in many leading constitutional cases, appearing before the Supreme Court of Canada on a wide range of constitutional issues. These have included freedom of expression, access to information, application of provincial legislation to federally regulated companies, discrimination and equality rights, tax, and aboriginal rights. Our litigators have also represented clients before the Supreme Court of Canada in cases addressing the constitutionality of the Trade-Marks Act, parliamentary privilege, judicial independence, investigative powers, and health and environmental matters.

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Recent Experience
  • The interveners in Rio Tinto Alcan Inc. v. Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, where the Supreme Court addressed the Crown’s duty to consult with Aboriginal Peoples under the Constitution.

  • The respondents in Grant v. Torstar Corp., where the Supreme Court recognized the defence of responsible journalism against a claim of defamation.

  • The interveners in R. v. Kapp, which outlined the modern test for ameliorative programs under the equality rights provisions of the charter.

  • The appellants in Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd. v. Canada, a case that examined whether mandatory publications bans violate freedom of expression under the charter.

  • The respondent in British Columbia (Attorney General) v. Lafarge Canada Inc. and the appellants in Canada Western Bank v. Alberta, where the Supreme Court refined the paramountcy and interjurisdictional immunity doctrines relating to the applicability of provincial legislation to federally regulated companies.

  • The interveners in Ontario (Public Safety and Security) v. Criminal Lawyers’ Association on the issue of whether freedom of expression guarantees access to government documents.

  • The Toronto Transit Commission in a Charter of Rights and Freedoms challenge to its drug and alcohol testing policy. 

  • The Toronto Star in a constitutional challenge to the application of the Freedom of Information Act to administrative tribunals, and that, instead, the open courts principle should apply to facilitate better public access.​