Dennis Baker (University of Guelph) sends this quotation from Donald Savoie's Power: Where Is It? (MQUP, 2010), pages 72-3. As Baker says: "It's enough to make your blood boil."

"[In the Secession Reference], the court ruled that Quebec did not have such a right and based its decision on four fundamental rights: federalism, democracy, constitutionalism, and the rule of law.  Canada's written constitution dates back to 1867, and one would be hard pressed to see these principles in it, certainly in pre-Charter days. The Canadian Senate, it will be recalled, was established as a check on democracy and federalism, both of which were only reluctantly embraced. As Adam Tomkins writes, it may be more accurate to say that Canada in 1867 was based on principles of "elitism, racism, sexism and imperialism than on the four good things that the Supreme Court identified." Baker comments: "Nice to see Canada's public policy guru trash our constitutional heritage, eh? That Adam Tomkins bit is a little troubling too – from his Public Law text apparently."

Thanks Dennis. It's discouraging, yes. Savoie's is the prevailing opinion. But we will overturn it.

Look on the bright side: There is more than enough work for you, me, and a dozen others, including an army of graduate students. (I hope you have graduate students.) Canadian "federalism, democracy, constitutionalism, and the rule of law" are fields of academic inquiry begging for attention. There is a new paradigm. Retrieval of original documents is far from complete.

Note to readers: Dennis Baker is the author of the astonishing book, Not Quite Supreme, The Courts and Coordinate Constitutional Interpretation (MQUP, 2010).

Posted by Janet Ajzenstat

[From The Idea file]

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