By approaching the issue from a variety of perspectives � those of colonial administrators, fur company employees, Native peoples, women, men, entrepreneurs, judges, magistrates, and the police, among others � the authors find evidence of a conscious effort to apply broad, non-regional experiences to seemingly familiar, local issues. The ways in which prairie peoples perceived themselves and their relationships to a wider world were directly framed by notions of law and legal remedy shaped by the course and themes of prairie history. Legal history is not just about black letter law. It is also deeply concerned with the ways in which people affect and are affected by the law in their daily lives. By examining how central and important the law has been to individuals, communities, and societies in the Canadian Prairies, this book makes an original contribution.
The seven chapters in this volume, together with a major book review essay and critical reviews of sixteen major works in the area, reinforce the series as a major forum for exploring new directions in criminal justice research as it relates to issues and problems of class, gender, and race in their historical, criminological, legal, and social aspects. The chapters explore common themes and issues that emerge from the study of class and gender through policing and criminal prosecutions in the local community to growing attempts of the new nation state to gain control of the prosecutorial system.
Trevor Dean and Lee Beier examine prosecutorial energy in local communities of 15th and 16th century Europe, and see instruments of peace (agreement) and war (prosecution and conviction) as worthy institutions of social control. Andrea Knox studies the prosecution of Irish women, finding that they were prominent as perpetrators of crime as well as victims. Antony Simpson shows how sexual indiscretions developed the law of blackmail in the 18th century, influencing subtle changes in gender roles. David Englander's study of Henry Mayhew reinterprets the role of class in the criminal prosecutions of the 19th century, while Arvind Verma and Philippa Levine extend the roles of class and gender that had been developed in the criminal justice system into the imperial colonies of south-east and east Asia in the 19th and early 20th centuries. An important resource for scholars, students, and researchers involved with legal, political, social, and women's history, criminal justice studies, sociology and criminology, and criminal law.
Jonathan Swainger considers the growth and development of the ostensibly apolitical Department of Justice in the eleven years after the union of 1867. Drawing on legal records and other archival documents, he details the complex interactions between law and politics, exploring how expectations both inside and outside the legal system created an environment in which the department acted as an advisor to the government. He concludes by considering the post-1878 legacy of the department's approach to governance, wherein any problem, legal or otherwise, was made amenable to politicized solutions. Unfortunately for the department and the federal government, this left them ill-prepared for the constitutional battles to come.
One crucial task was to establish responsibilities within the federal government, rather than just duplicate offices which had existed prior to union. Others were the establishment of national or quasi- national institutions such as the Supreme Court (1875) and the North-West Mounted Police (1873), the redrafting of the Governor-General's instructions (which was done between 1875 and 1877), and centralization of the penitentiary system (completed by 1875).
The Department benefited from a deeply rooted expectation that law was both apolitical and necessary. This ideology functioned in a variety of ways: it gave the Department considerable latitude for setting policy and solving problems, but rationalized the appearance of politicized legal decisions. It also legitimized Department officials' claim that it was especially suited to review all legislation, advise on the royal prerogative of mercy, administer national penitentiaries, and appoint judges to the bench. Ultimately, the fictional notion of law as apolitical and necessary placed the Department of Justice squarely in the midst of the completion of Confederation.
The Canadian Department of Justice and the Completion of Confederation will be of particular interest to students and scholars of Canadian legal and political history.
Knafla's introduction outlines the issues and themes that are contained in the essays and the reviews. As in the other volumes in this series, a comprehensive index identifies all subjects, names, and places in the volume. This is an important resource for scholars, students, and other researchers involved with criminal justice issues and European history.