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Sunshine Cases of a Little Constitution

Ed Morgan

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

December 14, 2008

This paper revisits some of Canada's early constitutional history, taking as a starting point the view that constitutional evolution is the country's great national project. It also revisits some of Canada's literary history, taking as its starting point the view that the development of Canadian literature has been an ongoing process of national self-contemplation. At its most foundational level, this paper explores the disjointed nature of both projects, comparing the Privy Council's leading constitutional cases from the turn-of-the-twentieth-century with the writings of the same era's leading Canadian literary figure, Stephen Leacock. It observes that constitutional jurisprudence has historically been characterized more by its fractured quality than its rational synthesis, and that literary output has been characterized more by its incompleteness and diversity than by any stylistic or thematic unity. In short, it asks whether we can ever really know Mariposa - i.e. whether Canadians are capable of a coherent national discourse, or whether they are, as Robertson Davies put it, "just too divided in attitudes and feelings and climates and everything else to have a single outlook that would work in a [constitution/novel] of the whole country."

Number of Pages in PDF File: 45

Keywords: Canada, constitution, law and literature, Leacock

JEL Classification: K19

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Date posted: December 15, 2008 ; Last revised: October 28, 2009

Suggested Citation

Morgan, Ed, Sunshine Cases of a Little Constitution (December 14, 2008). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1316052 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1316052

Contact Information

Ed Morgan (Contact Author)
University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )
78 and 84 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5

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