Economic Citizenship and Deliberative Democracy: An Inquiry into Constitutional Limitations on Economic Regulation
47 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2009 Last revised: 27 Jul 2010
Date Written: 1995
The 1982 repatriation of the Canadian Constitution, and the adoption of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, dramatically changed the political and legal landscape of this country. In subsequent years, there has been pressure on the provincial and federal governments to amend the constitution to reflect a variety of diverse interests. Among the proposals for constitutional amendments is the need, perceived by some, to entrench economic rights in the Constitution. In this article, David Schneiderman undertakes a critical examination of the proposal to entrench the right of persons and firms to move freely across provincial boundaries free from government measures that amount to trade barriers and restrictions. He argues that questions of economic policy should be decided by democratically elected governments with input from various interest groups. He cautions against placing further restrictions on the capacity of federal and provincial governments to pursue fiscal and economic policies in the public interest. Schneiderman sees in interest group politics the fulfillment of the democratic ideal that allows citizens to reach a consensus about what is in their own best interest. In his view, economic questions are to be kept out of the constitutional realm in order to maximize the possibilities of political discourse.
Keywords: Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canada, Constitution, constitutional amendments, economic rights
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