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28Nov
2008

Smut, Smoking and Skinny Dipping: Avoiding "Criminal" Bylaws

Certain matters, such as pornography, nudity and drugs, have inspired municipalities to adopt bylaws that resemble criminal law. Such bylaws may be beyond the municipalities' powers, because under Canada's Constitution the power to legislate criminal law lies exclusively with the federal government (Constitution Act, 1867 (U.K.), 30 & 31 Vict. c. 3, reprinted in R.S.C. 1985, App. II, No.5, s. 91(27)). Since the provinces do not have the power to legislate criminal law they cannot pass that power on to local governments. Consequently, the criminal law is uniform across Canada and it would be unconstitutional for a municipality to use bylaws to impose local criminal law.

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