Re Oriental Orders in Council Validation Act

Re Oriental Orders in Council Validation Act

Re Oriental Orders in Council Validation Act, BC, [1922] 65 DLR 577
This reference case deals with matters that were also dealt with in Re the Japanese Treaty Act (56 D.L.R. 69 ) yet with a deeper discussion of issues surrounding race, nationality, and the legality of legislating based on these social distinctions. The decision was held that the ‘legislature of British Columbia had not the authority to enact […] legislation [1921, 11 Geo V, c 49]’ that discriminated against hiring Japanese and Chinese descended workers on Crown lands. The rulings of each of the justices depended upon the role of the 1911 treaty made between England and Japan (applying to Canada) in relation to persons of Japanese descent in Canada, on understandings of so-called racial distinctions between people of Chinese descent and Japanese descent, and of the difference between race versus nationality and how to understand this difference in a legal context. The original reference questions asked were if the British Columbia legislature had the authority to enact such a statute, and if ‘said Act be in the opinion of the court ultra vires in part then in what particulars is it ultra vires’ (295-296)? The court eventually decided that the answer to the first question was no, therefore no answer would be needed for the second question (though Justice Idington dissented and Justice Brodeur dissented in part).



Re Oriental Orders in Council Validation Act


Researcher: Monique F. Ulysses
Researcher: Lauren Chalaturnyk
Metadata author: Connell Parish
Metadata author: Gordon Lyall
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Source: Supreme Court of Canada. Dominion Law Reports. 1922.


Readers of these historical materials will encounter derogatory references to Japanese Canadians and euphemisms used to obscure the intent and impacts of the internment and dispossession. While these are important realities of the history, the Landscapes of Injustice Research Collective urges users to carefully consider their own terminological choices in writing and speaking about this topic today as we confront past injustice. See our statement on terminology, and related sources here.