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History of Canadian Justice System

Over the past four centuries, the Canadian justice system has undergone various changes. Some of these changes have been positive to the people in this country while others have had detrimental results. Profoundly, the French and British legal systems influence the Canadian justice system. Mostly, this is grounded from the fact that many explorers and colonizers from these two European nations visited Canada in 16th and 17th Centuries. Since that time, lots of changes have been done in the Canadian justice system up to date. Ideally, the system embraces the use of both civic and common law. The common law was adopted after the battle of Quebec in 1759 (Cook and Roesch 217). According to the common law jurisdictions, judges are free to provide judgments based on the past traditions. In view of this, a common law does not follow any set of written legislation. One good thing with the adoption of the common law is that it embraces the changing circumstances which are worthwhile for an evolving society. On the other hand, the civil law makes the use of broad statements when giving out a ruling. In Canada, this design is used in Quebec, and it was adopted from French code. Since society is ever evolving, the same resolve has been applied in Canada to make amendments in laws that were founded in the 17th century. In the meantime, there have been changes in technology among much more other societal matters which needed handling by the use of new rules. As a result, this has brought up changes in the Canadian justice system. In view of this, this paper seeks to describe the Canadian legal system by considering the changes that have taken place since 17th century and effects to the people.
In the course of the past four centuries, various organizations have been formed with a motive to support justice in Canada. One of them is the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) that was established in the 19th century (Dauvergne 43). Ideally, this was the largest organization formed by women which was non-denominational. Majorly, they wanted to discourage the use of drugs such as alcohol in the society. According to their conviction, the usage of these drugs was a root of moral decay. Indeed, this was responsible for anti-social behaviors such as robbery and sexual immoralities. It would also lead to unemployment, domestic violence and consequently poverty. In view of this, WCTU launched a vigorous campaign against the use of alcohol beverages and advocated the government to illegalize it. Most of the members of this organization came from middle-class families, and they believed when alcohol is prohibited, this would give them an opportunity to fight poverty in the society. They also called for work ethic which embraced thrift, sobriety, and commitment to duty. Their resolve was worked upon by the relevant government agencies and this led to creation of laws to help tame the condition. Many young individuals had gotten lost in the irresponsible usage of drugs which had made the keep languishing in poverty. Lastly, they advocated for prison reforms which was essential to the old day society. Some of these reforms are still working in the modern day society which has been a source of transformation in the present society. Indeed, some like rehabilitation of offenders have helped to transform the current society.
Then again, under the values of the Actuarial view of crime “opportunities” principle, this outlined the procedures to be pursued to establish the adversity of criminal activity before an offender is disciplined. Indeed, one of the element lacking in the justice system of the country at the time was how to classify an offense. There was no defined measure which brought unfairness in the moments of administering punishments to the offenders. In this regard, corrections to the assessment of an offender were made necessary to help facilitate fairness and proper punishment to the criminals. The design had to be efficient in its classification work to help bring out the right results (Kalajdzic, Cashman and Longmoore 125). In the present Canada, some of the changes established in the past are still applicable which has helped in the rehabilitation of the offenders. Indeed, the purpose of the criminal justice system should not be aimed at punishing the offenders but rehabilitating them to make them good people after undergoing the established process. Nevertheless, the correction system developed is not entirely polished, and further changes need to be done to make it more efficient in the future.
Moreover, there is Jean-Pierre Goyer prison abolition, who worked in the Trudeau’s administration as a solicitor general. In particular, he was an architect of the prison reforms in Canada. In his perspective, he worked out changes that would see better handling of people who were imprisoned. The administration would consider whether an offender was in prison for the first time or he/she has been brought into custody for various other occasions. He was concerned that the cost of keeping people in custody was quite high and something was to be done to help lower this bill. In due course, the supported a more liberal mode of handling those who were caught offending. More so, those who were in prisons were supposed to be treated well than it was the tradition. In the 1970s, he advocated for better clothing to those who were in prison (Fattah 54). Moreover, conjugal visits were also allowed to those who were in prisons. Working alongside schooling was also made possible by the prisoners. The resolve was good especially from the liberal point of view.
Further, the establishment of the Young Offenders Act Arthur Maloney Larry Pennell came into effect in the year 1984. In this case, the handling of criminal offenses done by an adult was made different from the one committed by young people. In due course, this led to the formation of Young Offenders Act. The design helped to come up with a methodology which could be used to punish the young offenders. It was later modified to accommodate the societal changing circumstances. In this respect, youths were not supposed to be handled as criminals but misguided children (Zehr 65). They would then be regarded as people who were in need of aid and encouragement to grow confident. The law enforcers would then act to give the required guidance to the misdirected children. Ideally, the application of this law was aimed at mitigating the strictness of the legislation to help save children who had offended. Due to the application of this clause, the children were denied some rights made available to the adults such as the right to appeal. Mostly, they were only subjected to moral counseling. Therefore, there was lots of unfairness in the way cases related to children were addressed. The Young Offenders Act has since then started recognizing some of the essential elements of the youth. They help bring justice to the teens and highly stress the importance of protection for the young ones.
Most important is that the 19th century marked a positive turning point in the Canadian criminal justice system. In the course of this century, social philosophers started arguing for the use of more rational approach in dealing with the offenders. In this line of view, the criminal punishment offered to the offenders was supposed to be reformed. Before this time, the system used to apply cruel punishment to people in public to scare them from committing offenses. Ideally, this was grounded from the fact that crimes typically occur when expected pleasure outweigh the penalty’s pain (Kalajdzic, Cashman and Longmoore 113). Primarily, all these were the principles of the Classical Theory which had to be abandoned when Positivist Theory proved to be much better. Positivist theory entails an innovative way of understanding the causes of a criminal behavior. The incorporation of this design in the Canadian constitution led to the termination of inhumane human handling. As a result, this has led to the construction of Canadian law based on the positivist criminal justice ticket-of-leave Alfred Lavell
Interestingly, the Montreal and Quebec urban police Royal Irish Constabulary J.J. Kelso proved vital in the Canadian legal system. In this line of view, the Royal Irish Constabulary was a significant force in Canadian system having formerly demonstrated its workability in Ireland. Ideally, it was an essential element to the peace in the country as this as its primary duty. In the course of finding stability and peace, they would suppress any uprising in the area under their control. However, their roles in Canada expanded as they were tasked with the responsibility of making fishery laws. Then again, there were M’Naghten rules Chilcotin War Matthew Baillie Begbie, in which Matthew Begbie was a magistrate who was supposed to administer justice at various centers. In 1864, he had presided over cases which warranted death penalties according to the law (Kalajdzic, Cashman and Longmoore 132). Since this was the law of the time, he sentenced five prisoners to the death penalty in which they were hanged. Begbie attended to his studies in Britain and later on at the age of 39 years, he was sent to British Columbia to administer services. He was made a prominent member of the executive council whereby he prepared legislations.
Additionally, there is Dignity Roman-canon law Samuel de Champlain, who was a colonial administrator in Canada and helped in the transformation the criminal justice system of the country. Moreover, He played a critical role in establishing a New France from 1603 to 1635. In the present Canada, under the Jury packing George Dowey royal prerogative of mercy, one has the freedom to apply for the separate storage of his/her criminal records (Dauvergne 76). The resolve helps to bring sanity in the matters relating to the criminal activities. Finally, there is Brown Commission Auburn system altercation trial, which embraces the use of reforms that were made applicable in 1967. However, one of the adverse shortcomings is that this Crime Commission Report that was released in this year was filled with lots of failures. In the 1970s, there was increased imprisonment, and this led to an overpopulation of the Canadian prisons. In the years before the 1970s, the justice system used to make the use of indeterminate sentencing which was then transformed into determinate sentencing. In the later period, offenders were supposed to be sentenced for the maximum duration for each category of crime which was then made minimal for each category. Ideally, this was a good decision given that prisons were highly populated with offenders. On the same note, this would create space to accommodate more offenders for rehabilitation purposes. Many offenders could be left on streets because there was no space for them in the period before the late 1970s (Dauvergne 65). Indeed, this implied increased number of confinements and reduced length of sentencing. Nevertheless, the reform had a disadvantage in the fact that the population in the prisons kept growing even in the later stages of the 1990s. It was indeed a challenge to the criminal justice system of the country. Presently, the number of confinements in the country surpass two million with 1 in every 37 of every Canadian having spent behind bars in a life time. But the most important thing is the abolition of the physical punishment and replacing it with rehabilitation measures.
To conclude, the history of the Canadian justice system is great. Over the past four centuries, a lot of changes have taken place, and this has helped to reshape the situation of criminal activities in Canada. Rehabilitation of offenders other than giving physical punishment has been the most notable change over the period. Moreover, the justice system of the country makes the use of both common and civic law. According to the common law jurisdictions, magistrates and judges have the freedom to make verdicts grounded on the situation at hand. They can also make a reference from the past similar cases. One good thing with this is that it accommodates the changing societal elements. On the other hand, the civil law makes the use of comprehensive statements when giving out a ruling. In this line of view, only a particular section in Canada known as Quebec which makes the use of civil law. Notably, the design makes use of the French code in its workability. However, the society is ever dynamic and certain elements of the justice system have had to be changed over the course of the last four decades. Ideally, this has been aimed at accommodating the prevailing circumstances of the time under consideration. For instance, changes in technology has forced law makers to keep amending laws so that they can fit the present state of condition. The modern society has engaged in the great use of advanced technology on which cyber-crimes have become prevalent. In view of this, certain laws ought to be established to help prosecute offenders of the cyber-crimes. The effect has been observed in the changes impacted in the Canadian justice system over the course of this time to accommodate the prevailing condition. Nevertheless, the use of both civic and common law has remained at the heart of Canada’s justice system. Ideally, the two designs have been effective since they were first introduced in Canadian system.

Works Cited

Cook, Alana N., and Ronald Roesch. “Tough on crime” reforms: What psychology has to say about the recent and proposed justice policy in Canada?” Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne 53.3 (2012): 217. Print.
Dauvergne, Mia. “Adult correctional statistics in Canada, 2010/2011.” Juristat: Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics (2012): 1B. Print.
Fattah, Ezzat A., Ed. From crime policy to victim policy: Reorienting the justice system. Springer, 2016. Print.
Kalajdzic, Jasminka, Peter Cashman, and Alana Longmoore. “Justice for Profit: A Comparative Analysis of Australian, Canadian and US Third Party Litigation Funding.” American Journal of Comparative Law 61.1 (2013): 93-148. Print.
Zehr, Howard. The little book of restorative justice: revised and updated. Skyhorse Publishing, Inc., 2015. Print.


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