'A carnival of crime on our border': International Law, Imperial Power, and Extradition in Canada, 1865-1883

Title'A carnival of crime on our border': International Law, Imperial Power, and Extradition in Canada, 1865-1883
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsMiller, B
JournalCanadian Historical Review
Volume90
Pagination639-669
ISBN Number0008-3755
KeywordsAsylum, Canadian history, extradition, History, imperial relations, imperialism, International aspects, International cooperation, International law, Law reform, Laws, Legal reform, Political aspects, regulations and rules, Right of, Social aspects
Abstract

This paper traces the development of Canadian extradition law from the formation of a pro-extradition consensus in the 1860s to the passage of a new Canadian statute in 1877, to that act's final ratification by Britain in 1883. This process of law reform illustrates Britain's continuing legal power in Canada. Throughout the 1870s and 1880s imperial authorities suppressed, delayed, and rewrote dominion extradition law, bringing it back into line with Britain's shifting policy. But the legal ideas that Britain exported to the colonies in this period were not particularly British at all. Rather, what arrived in Canada in the 1870s was an emerging branch of international law heavily influenced by Europe - one that balanced extensive international co-operation against crime with individual civil liberties protections and safeguards for political asylum-seekers. Its origins were in post-revolutionary France, and as it spread to Britain and then the colonies it frustrated Canadian attempts to design a new extradition policy. As a result, this article illustrates the interplay between international law and imperial power in nineteenth-century Canada.