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Constitutional Pariah

Constitutional Pariah

Reference re Senate Reform and the Future of Parliament
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Royal Progress

Royal Progress

Canada's Monarchy in the Age of Disruption
edited by D. Michael Jackson
foreword by Margaret McCain
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Introduction: The Crown in a Time of Transition
D. Michael Jackson

Queen Elizabeth II is approaching a record-breaking seven decades as sovereign of Canada, the United Kingdom, and fourteen other Commonwealth realms. This book considers how the monarchy may evolve in Canada when her reign eventually comes to an end. Our contributors look at the historic relationship between the Indigenous Peoples and the Crown, the offices of the governor general and the lieutenant governors, the succession to the throne, and the likely shape of the reign of the next monarch. How will the venerable institution of constitutional monarchy adapt to changing circumstances in twenty-first-century Canada?

Royal Progress: Canada’s Monarchy in the Age of Disruption is a deliberately paradoxical title. Can progress and disruption coexist? Certainly the third decade of the twenty-first century may be termed an age of disruption. Yet a theme running through the essays in this book is the continuity of the monarchical institution — its sheer staying power and adaptability, which have earned it the sobriquets of “shapeshifting Crown” and “chameleon Crown.” The authors of some of the essays recognize republican objections to the British-based constitutional monarchy in Canada. They respond by emphasizing two cardinal points: (1) the Canadian monarchy is here to stay for the foreseeable future because it is entrenched in the Constitution; and (2) the Canadian version of the Crown, if properly understood, supported, and adapted, is a distinct asset to Canada’s political and social culture.

On this basis, the authors explore the positive roles the Canadian Crown can, does, and should fulfill, and changes that would facilitate the “progress” of the institution. These range from deepening and extending the link between the Crown and the Indigenous Peoples to thoroughly reforming the way viceregal representatives are chosen. Along the way, the authors offer specific proposals for strengthening the provincial dimension of the Crown, enhancing the relationship with the sovereign, and understanding the basic philosophy of constitutional monarchy. The final chapter, “Heritage and Innovation,” neatly sums up the thrust of the book.

The Indigenous Dimension
In part one, “The Crown and Indigenous Peoples,” four authors, two of them Indigenous, explore the meaning and potential of this centuries-old relationship. For them, it involves not just political and constitutional arrangements, but a profound, almost mystical, rapport with the sovereign, and with the principles and ideals she represents.

Respected Six Nations scholar Rick W. Hill Sr. and Nathan Tidridge, a perceptive observer of First Nations–Crown matters, hearken as far back as the seventeenth-century encounters of French and Dutch settlers with the First Nations in eastern North America. Negotiated through “wampum diplomacy,” peace agreements between Indigenous nations and European monarchs allowed “radically different cultures to be incorporated into the complex networks and relationships that already existed between the various Indigenous nations.” English, then British, settlers quickly picked up on the practice, which evolved into the rich and complex Crown-Indigenous rapport that continues to this day in Canada. For Hill and Tidridge, it is symbolized by the “Silver Covenant Chain of Peace,” representing mutual respect and self-rule. This covenant chain protocol, they say, is not simply a colourful relic of the past: it is equally relevant today as an instrument to foster reconciliation. Of this, the historic gathering of Canadian viceregal representatives with Indigenous leaders in 2019 at the Chapel Royal of Massey College, Toronto, was a poignant illustration.

The leader who gave the keynote address at this gathering, National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations, contributes the next chapter. He focuses on the history and intent of the treaties between the Crown and the First Nations. These constitute the “fundamental relationship, the foundation for this country called Canada. And that relationship was built on peaceful coexistence and mutual respect — to mutually share and benefit from these lands.” Bellegarde emphasizes the essential role of the sovereign in the treaty process. While elected politicians come and go, the Crown is always there to symbolize and embody the principles and ideals of Canada’s relationship with the Indigenous Peoples.

That relationship is not just one of governance or even peaceful coexistence, however. For Perry Bellegarde, the treaties are more than negotiated agreements: they are sacred covenants. “Our treaties are covenants with God, Creator, and all of creation.” As Canadians face major challenges such as climate change and biodiversity, the First Nations can contribute the wisdom and experience of their world view to their non-Indigenous partners, developing with them a holistic vision of environmental stewardship. The national chief concludes that as “the direct representatives of the Queen and therefore the holders of a sacred trust on behalf of the Crown,” the viceregal persons “are the caretakers and witnesses to this immutable relationship.”

Appropriately, the third chapter in this part of the book is written by a former viceregal representative. Judith Guichon has spent much of her life close to the land: “I am at the core a farmer and an environmentalist.” Perry Bellegarde’s notion of the treaties as sacred covenants with the natural world therefore strikes a strong chord, and she notes that this view is shared by the Prince of Wales, heir to the throne. During her time as lieutenant governor of British Columbia, Guichon gave high priority to the provincial Crown’s interaction with the First Nations, which, she affirms, needs to be characterized by “respect, relationships, and responsibility.” She concurs with the authors of the preceding essays that the monarchy is key to the treaty relationship.

Indeed, Judith Guichon sees a parallel between monarchy and Indigenous culture: “Monarchs have a role somewhat like hereditary chiefs and elders in the First Nations communities. The monarch in our constitutional monarchy represents sober second thought and wisdom, not the next political cycle but rather enduring truths and the historical evolution of our nation through generations.”

Reviewing and Reinvigorating the Viceregal Offices
The provincial manifestation of the Crown comes to the fore in the opening chapter of part two, “The Evolving Viceregal Offices.” Fortuitously, its author is Andrew Heard, a prominent political scientist from Judith Guichon’s home province, who has written about her use of the reserve power to refuse dissolution of the legislature in British Columbia in 2017. This was in itself an illustration that viceregal powers are by no means obsolete: the lieutenant governors continue to fulfill the role of “guardians of the constitution, who may at times refuse to act on unconstitutional advice from their first ministers and cabinets.”

The path of Canadian lieutenant governors toward the status of full representatives of the monarch, provincial equivalents of the governor general, has been long and circuitous and, in Heard’s view, is still incomplete. At the time of Confederation the lieutenant governors were deemed not to be representatives of the Queen but merely federal officers appointed by and reporting officially to the governor general, but in reality reporting to the prime minister. Now they have come to embody a coordinate provincial Crown. But only to a point: Heard enumerates a number of instances, both symbolic and constitutional, where the lieutenant governors remain subordinate to the governor general. He offers some intriguing suggestions of how these anomalies could be overcome.

Regardless of their nominal status, the lieutenant governors are key figures in their jurisdictions, and not only in constitutional matters. “Viceregal officers are supposed to personify the provincial society and polity as figures who are above politics and who can appeal to all in their community,” says Heard. 3 He calls for a more effective way of selecting lieutenant governors, who must be politically neutral while in office. For better or worse, the appointment is entirely in the hands for the federal prime minister. When Conservative Stephen Harper occupied that position, he established a committee to advise on viceregal appointments. Despite its positive track record, his Liberal successor, Justin Trudeau, scrapped the process. For Andrew Heard, this reversion to political, sometimes overtly partisan, appointments, is regrettable.

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La Constitution canadienne


Le très honorable Richard Wagner, juge en chef de la Cour suprême du Canada

Qu ’ est-ce qu ’ une constitution — À quoi une constitution sert-elle — Et qu ’ a de particulier la Constitution canadienne — Voilà des questions essentielles, auxquelles cet ouvrage unique des professeurs Yan Campagnolo et Adam Dodek se propose de répondre.

On parle souvent d ’ une constitution comme d ’ un objet. Parfois, il s ’ agit d ’ un texte fondateur, ou d ’ un groupe de textes. Ce que l ’ on a en revanche toujours à l ’ esprit, c ’ est un ensemble structuré de règles et de principes fondamentaux, destinés à régir l ’ exercice des pouvoirs constitutionnels dans l ’ ensemble du pays et à aménager la relation entre l ’ État et ses citoyens. Au Canada, c ’ est naturellement vers la Loi constitutionnelle de 1982 et les règles auxquelles elle réfère que l ’ on se tourne.

Considérée sous cet angle légaliste, la constitution-objet opère comme loi suprême d ’ un État. Elle encadre l ’ exercice des pouvoirs exécutif, législatif et judiciaire et, le cas échéant, attribue à chaque ordre de gouvernement, fédéral et provincial, sa sphère de compétence propre. Parce qu ’ un pouvoir gouvernemental ne saurait être exercé légalement que s ’ il est conforme à la constitution étatique, cette dernière se trouve à consacrer le principe de la primauté du droit, marque non équivoque de civilisation.

Mais une constitution a ceci de particulier qu ’ elle ne se réduit pas à un objet statique, ni même à une simple loi, aussi suprême soit-elle. Elle opère aussi comme puissant symbole des valeurs les plus chères d ’ une société. Riche de sens, parfois multiples, une constitution-symbole qui fonctionne comme il se doit aura nécessairement un effet profondément normatif, agissant comme gage de la sécurité juridique et, corollairement, de la paix sociale. Cet effet, en quelque sorte magique, découle en partie des images qu ’ évoque toute constitution. Au Canada, ces images sont puisées à même l ’ art et la nature. En clair, on conçoit la Constitution canadienne à la fois comme un ouvrage architectural, possédant son style distinctif, et comme un arbre vivant, destiné à croître et à s ’ adapter à son environnement.

Portail d ’ entrée de l ’ édifice constitutionnel canadien, le préambule du texte fondateur du pays, la Loi constitutionnelle de 1867, témoigne de l ’ appartenance de la Constitution du Canada à l ’ architecture constitutionnelle du Royaume-Uni. Les emprunts à la tradition du Parlement de Westminster sont importants, notamment lorsque l ’ on évoque son système démocratique d ’ édiction des lois — un Parlement bicaméral chapeauté par un gouverneur général, représentant officiel du souverain au Canada. L ’ ouvrage constitutionnel canadien est toutefois loin d ’ être une simple copie de l ’ original britannique — ses architectes, les pères fondateurs du Canada, ont posé des bases qui s ’ alignaient avec la réalité multiculturelle de la société de l ’ époque. C ’ est bien une fédération qui a été mise sur pied lors de l ’ union des quatre provinces originales — un système qui partage les pouvoirs législatifs entre un gouvernement central et plusieurs gouvernements provinciaux. Et une place importante y a été ménagée pour les minorités, au moyen de garanties, dès la Confédération, de droits linguistiques, religieux et scolaires.

Même si les meilleurs ouvrages architecturaux sont conçus pour résister au passage du temps, ils ne sont pas statiques. L ’ édifice constitutionnel canadien a fait l ’ objet de rénovations structurelles. D ’ abord, depuis l ’ abolition, en 1949, des appels au Comité judiciaire du Conseil privé de Londres, la Cour suprême du Canada, de par sa situation au sommet du système judiciaire canadien en tant qu ’ instance de dernier ressort, constitue désormais la clé de voûte du système judiciaire du Canada. Gardienne ultime et indépendante de la Constitution, et elle-même jouissant d ’ un statut constitutionnel, elle assure, au fil des arrêts, le développement d ’ un système juridique cohérent et unifié. Ensuite, dans la foulée du rapatriement de 1982, le Canada coupe les dernières attaches qui le relient au Parlement britannique, par la mise en oeuvre de la Loi constitutionnelle de 1982, laquelle permet désormais au constituant de modifier la Constitution de son propre chef, sans avoir à transiger avec la mère patrie. Le rapatriement est aussi l ’ occasion de l ’ adoption de la Charte canadienne des droits de la personne, et de la reconnaissance formelle des droits des peuples autochtones, jusque-là absents de la configuration constitutionnelle canadienne.

Malgré sa force explicative séduisante, la métaphore de la constitution-architecture présente des limites lorsqu ’ il s ’ agit de comprendre comment une constitution peut parfois s ’ adapter aux réalités nouvelles. Par l ’ adoption de la Loi constitutionnelle de 1982, le Canada est passé d ’ un système de démocratie parlementaire à un système de démocratie constitutionnelle. Ce changement structurel a obligé les tribunaux à jouer un rôle de premier plan dans la délimitation de certaines normes constitutionnelles, notamment des droits fondamentaux aux contours flous. D ’ où l ’ importance de l ’ un des principes cardinaux de l ’ interprétation constitutionnelle : notre Constitution est conçue comme un arbre vivant qui s ’ épanouit à l ’ intérieur de ses limites naturelles. Grâce à une interprétation progressiste, elle peut s ’ adapter et répondre aux réalités de la vie moderne. De la même façon que l ’ édifice constitutionnel est l ’ objet de rénovations, l ’ arbre croît et ses racines s ’ enfoncent plus profondément dans un terreau fertile.

La fertilité du terreau canadien ne fait aucun doute. Aujourd ’ hui, on reconnaît l ’ arbre constitutionnel canadien à ses fruits, notamment : une pratique du fédéralisme qui cherche à remplacer la confrontation par la coopération ; une conception robuste et évolutive des droits fondamentaux qui a mené à la reconnaissance de protections accrues pour les membres les plus vulnérables de la société ; et une interprétation des droits des peuples autochtones axée sur le besoin urgent de réconciliation. Les architectes de la Constitution canadienne ont jeté les bases d ’ une oeuvre dont les Canadiens et les Canadiennes de tous horizons, quels que soient leur héritage culturel, leur communauté ou leur langue, peuvent être fiers. Chacun reconnaît dans la Constitution les valeurs qui transcendent ses intérêts individuels, qui l ’ unissent aux autres, et qui assurent le bien-vivre ensemble. D ’ une certaine manière, la Constitution opère la transformation des intérêts individuels en valeurs collectives, les projetant dans un médium différent, proprement juridique.

Constater que les métaphores se situent au coeur de notre compréhension de la Constitution révèle toute l ’ importance de ce symbole de notre identité collective. Dans le présent ouvrage, les professeurs Campagnolo et Dodek offrent des clés de lecture de l ’ oeuvre constitutionnelle canadienne, toujours inachevée, sans cesse réinterprétée. De cette manière, ils contribuent à la perpétuer dans le temps. Chacun, en tant que citoyen, se doit d ’ y porter attention.

Le très honorable Richard Wagner, C.P.

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Law's Indigenous Ethics



This is a book about Indigenous rights and their relationship to Indigenous peoples’ own laws in Canada. Its primary objective is to improve this relationship. Using Anishinaabe (i.e., Chippewa or Ojibwe) examples, I examine how Indigenous peoples law could help create healthier Indigenous–government relationships. The Anishinaabe legal lens is focused on the Seven Grandmother/Grandfather Teachings: love, truth, bravery, humility, wisdom, honesty, and respect. Thus, this is also a book about legal ethics. The first two chapters view treaties between Indigenous peoples and governments through an Anishinaabe lens of love and truth. The next two chapters examine the question of Aboriginal title through the ideas of bravery and humility. The following two chapters consider Indigenous law and legal education from the perspectives of wisdom and honesty. The final chapter explores collective responsibilities related to harms caused in Indian residential schools, in the light of Anishinaabe ideas of respect.


This is also a work of legal theory that reflects upon the practices, processes, and principles that help form and re-form Indigenous rights in Canada. Along the way, it advances ideas related to agency, self-determination, entanglement, syncretism, pluralism, nuance, power, and anti-essentialism. Since this is a work of jurisprudence, I hope that readers who may not work in my field will nevertheless draw insights from its pages. At the same time, I do not locate my work in any one specific school of legal theory (see my book on Freedom and Indigenous Constitutionalism for an explanation). Nevertheless, the present book is structured to address ideas connected to legal theory more generally throughout the text.


At the same time, this book also discusses “black-letter” law and is shaped by my work as a law professor. Thus it is focused on legal doctrine as it relates to Aboriginal rights. This is a constitutional field of law that operates under section 35 of Canada’s Constitution Act, 1982, which states, “The existing Aboriginal and treaty rights of the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed.” Each chapter attempts to advance doctrinal concepts connected to the Supreme Court of Canada’s jurisprudence in the area. It tries to advance the field of constitutional law in Canada more generally and to revitalize Aboriginal and treaty rights more particularly.


This book also seeks to make policy contributions to enhance legal education. As a result of its comparative elements, my hope is that people who do not teach in my field will nevertheless find more general insights related to legal education in this work. In fact, I also hope this book contains some helpful ideas about Indigenous post-secondary education more generally.


Law’s Indigenous Ethics is also squarely within the field of Indigenous Studies. The literature I cite, the methodologies I deploy, and many of my animating ideas are rooted in the scholarship of this field. Indigenous language, values, philosophies, and world views motivate this work. Specifically, my writing takes its context and content from Anishinaabe concerns and sensitivities. To forward these visions I relate many stories from my own community in the following chapters. I strive to give prominence to the voices of Anishinaabe elders, tricksters, monsters, caretakers, heroes, animals, and other cultural figures throughout.


Finally, this book is inherently interdisciplinary and highlights societal processes as they involve Indigenous peoples and other citizens. I hope anthropologists, political scientists, geographers, sociologists, historians, philosophers, and others will be drawn into conversations related to the issues discussed herein.


I begin by recounting a familiar Anishinaabe story, recast in my own words. Anishinaabe people tell stories to open spaces for instruction and inquiry. Basil Johnston, the elder who told me his own version of the following story, wrote, “Like our words, our stories have several meanings.” In his book The Gift of the Stars, Basil explained the invitational nature of his stories for adding our own interpretations and enhancing our own growth. He said this methodology is embedded in the earth’s own approach to teaching, which we should strive to emulate.

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