Bijuralism and Harmonization: Genesis

A Word From The Minister

The launch in 1997 of the first collection of studies, The Harmonization of Federal Legislation with Quebec Civil Law and Canadian Bijuralism, aroused keen interest in the legal community across Canada and even beyond our borders. That first publication, written by university professors and other experts in civil law, laid the groundwork for an in-depth reflection on the special nature of Canadian bijuralism and the relationship between civil law and federal legislation.

Since then, within the Department of Justice, some excellent studies have resulted from the harmonization of federal legislation with Quebec civil law. The purpose of this publication is to share some of these studies. It is divided into nine booklets dealing with the background of the harmonization initiative and various aspects of the harmonization initiative. Also included is a text that presents a portrait of a legal harmonizer. Other publications will be added as the harmonization program progresses in order to ensure that knowledge related to legal harmonization is continually shared.

I would like to thank my officials at the Department of Justice who strive to ensure each day that all Canadians have access to legislation that respects the traditions of common law and civil law. In January 2001, the Department of Justice launched its five-year Strategic Plan (2001-2005), which identifies the extension of the Harmonization program to the drafting of all federal legislation as a key part of our commitment to serving Canadians by making the justice system relevant and accessible. The Government of Canada's commitment is reflected in Bill S-4, A First Act to harmonize federal law with the civil law of the Province of Quebec.

Bill S-4 is a totally unique effort and concretely acknowledges the existence of the two great legal systems of our nation in a way that has not been done before in Canada or indeed anywhere in the world. It also supports Canada's leading role in an increasingly globalized world.

I sincerely hope that this work will be welcomed enthusiastically and that it will serve to highlight what we are : a bijural nation that is proud of the harmonious coexistence of common law and civil law.

A. Anne McLellan
Minister of Justice Canada

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