Comparisons between constitutional law in the United States of America and Canada are often striking. Both countries have federal constitutions. But powers are divided differently in them. While in the US Constitution (1787) specific powers are granted to the federal Congress and President and residual powers reserved for the states, under the Canadian Constitution1 the federal Parliament has a general legislative power and the Provinces have competence to legislate only on specified matters. Fundamental rights were introduced into the US Constitution by a series of Amendments, initially in 1791, and subsequently in 1865-70 following the Civil War. Similar rights were only introduced recently into Canadian law by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982) which forms part of the Constitution. Canadian courts frequently refer to US decisions when interpreting Charter provisions concerning, for example, freedom of expression and the right to a fair trial, but they also emphasise that they are concerned to develop distinctive Canadian constitutional principles.