Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


The creation and mandate of the Canadian Department of Justice mirrored a congruence of law and politics which, in itself, was a realistic product of Canada's colonial history. Compelled by a desire to reach the most beneficial conclusion to any given conflict or problem, the department employed a pragmatic approach in its responsibilities as legal advisors to the government. This flexibility was necessary not only because of the complexities and idiosyncracies of Canadian political life, but also in working out the vagaries of the British North America Act of 1867. Based upon the official correspondence and documents of the Department of Justice and private papers of leading public figures, this thesis contends the department actively protected the government's agenda during the tumultuous first decade of Confederation. While these methods enjoyed considerable success during the Confederation era, the attempts at governing the law contained fatal flaws which surfaced in the constitutional battles of the post-1878 era.



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