The division of powers

In Canada, we rely on a comprehensive judicial system. In fact, there are three branches of government : the legislative branch, the executive branch and the judicial branch.

What does the legislative branch do?

Three branches work together to govern Canada: the executive, legislative and judicial branches. The executive branch (also called the Government) is the decision-making branch, made up of the Monarch (represented by the Governor General), the Prime Minister, and the Cabinet. The Legislative Branch comprises the House of Commons and the Senate. The Judicial Branch is represented by the courts.

What is the role of the executive branch?

As its name suggests, the executive branch applies the laws enacted by the legislative branch of each level of government. Examples include the issuance of permits or the establishment of labour standards.

What is the role of the judicial branch?

Disputes can arise when two parties disagree on the application of a regulation or law. The courts would be called upon and the parties would have to rely on a judge's decision.

However, there are many other ways to resolve a dispute without having recourse to the courts.

Structure of courts in Canada
The Canadian judicial system includes courts operating at both the provincial and federal levels, each with a well-defined mission.

On the provincial side, there are:

  • Provincial and territorial courts
  • Provincial or territorial superior courts
  • Superior Courts

Federal Court structure includes : 

  • The Federal Court
  • The Supreme Court of Canada
  • The Tax court of Canada

Depending on the type of litigation involved, the parties will be referred to one or another of these courts.

Administrative tribunals also exist at both the provincial and federal levels. They are not part of the judicial system as such, but play an important role in resolving administrative conflicts.