The Magna Carta in Canada

As Canadians, we celebrate the Magna Carta as a powerful symbol of freedom, justice and human rights. As legal practitioners, we experience the Magna Carta as a document that, 800 years later, continues to inform core aspects of Canadian case law.

Osler was proud to sponsor the Magna Carta Canada 2015 Tour, our country’s first opportunity to host the historic Magna Carta and Charter of the Forest documents. Based on three themes – history, legacy and justice today – the exhibit showcased the original documents in a powerful, interpretive and bilingual exhibit.

The History of the Magna Carta

The Magna Carta of 1215 marks the first instance of a king consenting to a list of terms drafted by his subjects. After imposing unfair military and financial obligations on his barons, King John of England was met with rebellion. In January 1215, a group of barons demanded a guarantee for fair treatment from the King, but when their request was not met, the men armed themselves and captured London.

With the threat of civil war looming, the King began negotiations with the barons, and on June 15, 1215 the Articles of the Barons was agreed upon and sealed by the King. The final document – the Magna Carta – was completed on June 19, 1215, providing the foundation of English common law. Magna Carta Canada details the powerful history and significance of this document in greater detail.

The ideas of the Magna Carta remain as relevant today as they were in 1215 as we strive to create new norms in regards to equality, human rights, environmental protection and the supremacy of the rule of law.