Department of Justice, Central Registry : legal opinions and material of precedential value

Available reels: 139

Document Record

Canada. Dept. of Justice.
Department of Justice, Central Registry : legal opinions and material of precedential value
RG 13
Law and justice
Document source
Library and Archives Canada / Bibliothèque et Archives Canada
At the time of Confederation, the province of Canada had two Crown Law Departments, one for Canada West (now Ontario) and one for Canada East (now Quebec). At Confederation, the Crown Law Department, Canada West began to act as the new Department of Justice, reporting to Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald (1815 -1891), who was also Minister of Justice and Attorney General. The Department of Justice came into being officially in May 1868, when the Department of Justice Act was passed by Parliament. The Act formally recognized the informal structure that was already in place. The Act also laid out the distinct roles of the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General: the Minister was a partisan political adviser to the Crown, while the Attorney General provided legal services. However, the Minister of Justice has traditionally also been the Attorney General. The department's responsibilities encompass all matters concerned with the administration of justice in Canada (excluding the jurisdiction of the provinces or territories); it also provides legal advice to the governor general, the drafting of legislation, contracts and other legal documents, and ensuring that the administration of public affairs is in accordance with law.
This collection consists of central registry files containing legal opinions prepared by the Department of Justice. These files typically resulted from an inquiry received by the Department of Justice on a wide variety of subjects from another department or agency of the federal government. A legal opinion on the matter was prepared by the Department of Justice and a reply sent to the department or agency from which the inquiry was received. These volumes contain also files that were retained by the Department of Justice because they contained "material of precedential value". Some examples of the subjects contained in these files are matters related to military service, certification of unions under the Trade Union Act, disallowance of provincial legislation by the federal government, division of powers cases, immigration, and issues arising from the purchase of goods and services by the federal government. For the years 1904 to 1934, there are some Civil Litigation Registry Files and Property Registry Files containing legal opinions on various matters. These "letter files" are distinguished by the file numbering system, which features the letter A, B, C or D followed by a sequential number. Also present in this collection are a number of "Judges Files", especially for those judges who were the subject of allegations of misconduct, and some files on matters related to extradition and attempted extradition by the Canadian government.