Rights jurisprudence and the charter : evaluating the changing structure of Canadian federalism /
Lafferty, Daniel T.G.
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Abstract . Rights jiirisprudence in Canada dates back as far as Confederation in 1867. Between this date and 1982, the organizing principle of Confederation - federalism - has kept this jurisprudence solely within the supremacy of Parliament, subject to its confines and division of powers. After 1982, however, a new constitutional organizing principle was introduced, when Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau introduced the patriation initiative, touted as the "people's package". Individual rights and freedoms were now guaranteed by the Constitution. Citizens of Canada now had a direct link to the Constitution via the Charter and there were now two significantly different organizing principles within the constitutional order widch created an unstable coexistence. This instability has led to a clash between judicially enforced Charter rights and federalism. The Charter has since had both a nationalizing and centralizing effect on Canadian federalism. This thesis explores the relationship between rights and federalism in Canada fix)m Confederation to present day by comparing the jurisprudence of pre and post Charter Canada. An analysis of Supreme Court's (and its predecessor's, the JCPC) decisions shows the profound effect the Charter has had on Canadian federalism. The result has been an undermining of federalism in Canada, with Parliamentary Supremacy replaced by Constitutional supremacy, and ultimately. Judicial Supremacy. Moreover, rights discourse has largely replaced federalism discourse. Canadians have become very attached to their Charter, and are unwilling to allow any changes to the constitution that may affect their rights as political elites discovered the hard way after the collapse of the Meech and Charlottetown Accords. If federalism is to remain a relevant and viable organizing principle in the Constitution, then governments, especially at the provincial level, must find new and iimovative ways to assert their importance within the federation.