Interjurisdictional immunity

In Canadian Constitutional law, interjurisdictional immunity is the legal doctrine that prevents a law from being applied to matters outside of the constitutional jurisdiction of the enacting head of power. For example, where a provincial law is found to intrude into a matter in the jurisdiction of the federal government the law will be interpreted through the “reading down” doctrine to exclude that matter. The immunity doctrine is invoked when it is found that the legislation “affects a vital or essential part” of a matter outside the government’s jurisdiction.

Though there remains some debate, it has generally been accepted that the doctrine applies to both the federal and provincial governments equally. Nevertheless, virtually all of the case law concerns situations where provincial laws encroach on federal matters.


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