Law Midterm Cases
Citizens Insurance v. Parsons
Citizens Insurance v. Parsons was an 1881 decision, which established the test to determine governmental jurisdiction. The constitutional issue in this case concerned the validity of the Ontario Fire Insurance Policy Act. Parsons owned a hardware store in Orangeville, which was destroyed by fire one evening. Insured by Citizens Insurance, Parsons asked the company to cover him for his loss. Citizens Insurance refused to pay out on the basis that Parsons failed to comply with the conditions that had been written into the insurance contract. Parsons argued that the conditions failed to comply with provisions in the Ontario Fire Insurance Policy Act. Citizens Insurance argued that the Ontario law is invalid, as it imposes a contract with insurance companies – an aspect of trade and commerce that falls to the jurisdiction of the federal government. Parsons, however, argued that this was an issue of civil and property rights. This case went to trial, and eventually went to the JCPC, who acknowledged that there was a contradiction between S. 91(2) and S. 93(13). The JCPC then decided that although there was a possibility for overlap, there should be some way of determining which level of government has jurisdiction over what subject matter. This lead to the creation of the Parson’s Test. In the Parsons Test, you must consider if the dispute falls within one of the jurisdictions in Section 92 of the provinces. If the answer is no, then the jurisdiction automatically falls to the federal government. If the answer is yes, does it also fall under the power of Section 91? If the answer is no, then it is a provincial area of jurisdiction. However, if the answer is yes to both questions, then the courts must reconcile the constitution in some way as to figure out which level of government has responsibility for jurisdiction. s. 91(2), dealing with trade and commerce, is limited to the following areas: 1) International Trade
2) Interprovincial Trade
3) Regulation of Trade affecting whole Dominion
Provincial legislatures have the jurisdiction to regulate contracts of a particular business or trade as long as it is within the province.
Re: Board of Commerce and Combines and Fair Prices Act
Re: Board of Commerce (1919) and Combines and Fair Prices Act (1919) was a 1922 decision, in which the Emergency Powers doctrine was first created under the POGG power. The federal legislation reviewed in this case was introduced after WWI to break up business combines and monopolies and to prevent the hoarding of basic necessities. Although the legislation was prompted by profiteering in scarce commodities that had developed after the war, it was cast in the form of permanent legislation. The JCPC viewed legislation limiting the commercial liberty of entrepreneurs as essentially an interference with the property and civil rights of the inhabitants of the provinces, and hence subject to exclusive provincial jurisdiction. The context in which the legislation was enacted did not amount to the highly exceptional circumstances that could transform such a subject into a matter of national concern, thus bringing it under the POGG power. This reasoning amounted to the Emergency Doctrine, where only under special circumstances such as war or famine could a matter normally within section 92 become of such national importance s to be brought under the Dominion’s general power. In this instance, the JCPC could find no evidence to indicate that such a standard of necessity had been reached.
Ontario v. Canada Temperance Federation
Ontario v. Canada Temperance Federation was a 1946 decision by the JCPC, which brought back the National Concern doctrine under POGG powers. The JCPC revisited the issue dealt with in Russell v. The Queen, which examined whether the Canada Temperance Act was valid. While the JCPC upheld the ruling in Russell, they also suggested that POGG could be invoked in matters of...
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