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Sometimes laws made by a parliament or a legislature may contradict the supreme law of a country, its constitution. A constitutional democratic government gets its authority and power to make law from its constitution. Laws made exceeding the jurisdiction given to that government without the authority of the constitution may be meaningless if a Court in that country makes that determination. When a law is unconstitutional the Courts may say that the law is meaningless or that it should be "read down" so as not to be beyond the jurisdiction of the government. Courts have a duty to construe and apply laws to specific fact situations. Sometime they have to construe a particular law as meaning nothing and sometimes they have to construe the law as meaning something different from the letter of the law passed by Parliament.
A law is ultra vires if it is beyond the jurisdiction of the legislature.
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Laws in Canada must be made in the context of the Constitution of Canada. That includes the various Constitution Acts (eg. the British North America Act of 1867 and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms). Magna Carta is part of our constitution too: "with a Constitution similar in Principle to that of the United Kingdom".
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