Sunday, 15 February 2009

Canada's first Criminal Code: 1892

If Canada's first criminal code came into force in 1892, under what code was Slumach tried and convicted. Was the death by hanging the penalty for all culpable homicide without distinction? Was there an equivalent to "manslaughter"?
When the Provinces of Canada were confederated in 1867, the first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald was adamant that Canada would not suffer the disparate criminal law system inherited from England for long (at that time, each province had its own criminal law). Macdonald believed strongly in the need for a single, uniform regime of criminal law for the entire country. In fact, the Canadian constitution which he helped write, gave the federal government the explicit authority to codify the criminal law. An initial set of nine statutes was passed by the federal House of Commons in 1869 to at least consolidate the law for coinage offences, forgery, offences against the person, larceny, malicious injuries to property, perjury and procedure.

A complete Criminal Code was finally achieved in July, 1892, under the leadership of the Minister of Justice and soon-to-be prime minister Sir John Thompson. This was a major event in Canadian legal history. "Just think of it," wrote one judge to Prime Minister Thompson, "Canada in the van! The first to enact a complete codification. It is far and away the best measure of the kind ever submitted to any legislature."

1 comment:

Ericwipe287 said...

Nice post! It seems you have researched well on the Canadian law history.

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