The Democratic Resilience of the Canadian Constitution
Constitutional Democracy in Crisis? (Mark Graber, Sanford Levinson and Mark Tushnet, eds., Oxford University Press 2018, Forthcoming)
19 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2017 Last revised: 27 Jan 2018
Date Written: December 18, 2017
In this Chapter prepared for the Oxford volume on “Constitutional Democracy in Crisis?” edited by Mark Graber, Sanford Levinson and Mark Tushnet, we advance three categories of institutional explanations for the resilience of Canadian constitutional democracy in the face of the increasingly global phenomenon of democratic decline. First, we show that Canada’s choice to chart its own unique course in the debate pitting presidentialism and parliamentarism has borne the fruits of democracy. Second, we demonstrate that Canada’s robust “democracy branch” has been both a source and driver of its democratic resilience. Third, we illustrate how the Supreme Court of Canada has managed to issue highly political and quite controversial decisions without becoming perceived as a partisan institution — making it an overtly political but not politicized institution. The upshot of our inquiry is that constitutional design — and not political culture alone — has been critical in reinforcing the democratic resilience of the Canadian Constitution. We conclude with some long-term challenges that we view as significant, despite Canada’s relatively enviable position among the countries of the world in our day.
Keywords: Constitutional Democracy, Separation of Powers, Democratic Decline, Presidentialism, Parliamentarism, Democratic Resilience, Democracy Branch, Fourth Branch, Supreme Court of Canada, Constitution of Canada, Electoral Management Bodies, Elections Canada, Constitutional Design, Independent Agencies
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