Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


This thesis explains the constitutional foundations for the conflict of laws in Canada. It locates these constitutional foundations in the text of key constitutional documents and in the history and the traditions of the courts in Canada. It compares the features of the Canadian Constitution that provide the foundation for the conflict of laws with comparable features in the constitutions of other federal and regional systems, particularly of the Constitutions of the United States and of Australia. This comparison highlights the distinctive Canadian approach to judicial authority-one that is the product of an asymmetrical system of government in which the source of political authority is the Constitution Act and in which the source of judicial authority is the continuing local tradition of private law adjudication. The distinctive Canadian approach to judicial authority provides the foundation for federal arrangements that have obviated the need for explicit mechanisms for coordinating legal systems. It has fostered a distinctive view of court jurisdiction and of the means for determining both whether a particular court has jurisdiction to decide a matter and whether the court should exercise that jurisdiction. It has provided the foundation for a unified court system within the Canadian federation-one in which there is a strong commitment to the shared responsibility of Canadian courts to promote access to justice, to prevent forum shopping, and to resolve multiplicities of proceedings so as to secure the same respect for the administration of justice between jurisdictions as exists within jurisdictions. This approach to judicial authority has also encouraged Canadian courts to draw on their inherent jurisdiction to permit the vindication of the rights of members of the Canadian public through civil litigation, notwithstanding the lack of direct application of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and in spite of the apparent jurisdictional impediments.