Politics and the Constitution: Introducing the Charter of
Rights and Freedoms
January-08-13 10:18 AM
Even though there are reasons to do something, not everything is lawful. For
example, the idea of murder, even if it is self-defence, is "illegal."
Does the Charter matter?
- Countries with a constitution specify specific rules. They are supposed to reflect
- Rights only seem to matter when they are being threatened.
- Constitutions can be perfect in the abstract, but very messy in the ground.
○ As a result, interpretation and analysis results in seeing values not apply to
the ground level in terms of interpretation.
○ They are purposefully made unclear.
- What is Constitutionalism?
○ A set of binding norms and principles of political power in a sovereign
○ Non-state entities can have constitutions.
○ Canadian Constitution outlines powers of federalism, monarchical
○ Restricts powers of citizens and governments have power to certain
Example: feds have powers to sign treaties while provinces cannot
Further example: education is a provincial area.
○ Two prominent Canadian constitutional scholars (R.I. Cheffins and R.N.
Tucker) argued: "A constitution is more than a mechanical set of ground
rules. It is a mirror reflecting the national soul. It reflects those values the
country regards as important, and shows how these values will be
○ When one reads the Constitution, it is more than a simply a dispute.
It's a group of judges' interpretation.
Decisions will also be reflective of dominant political, economic, social
positions of the time.
○ We already know that Canada's legal system has been shaped by its past.
○ Responsible government: Parliament is supreme! No legal or individual
body can overrule it.
The law acts politically?!
- Rule of Law
○ It's pretty clear that not all laws mean the same thing to