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Law Constitutional

Governing with the Charter

Legislative and Judicial Activism and Framers' Intent

by (author) James B. Kelly

UBC Press
Initial publish date
Nov 2011
Constitutional, Constitutions, General, General
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Nov 2011
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2006
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2005
    List Price

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In Governing with the Charter, James Kelly clearly demonstrates that our current democratic deficit is not the result of the Supreme Court’s judicial activism. On the contrary, an activist framers’ intent surrounds the Charter, and the Supreme Court has simply, and appropriately, responded to this new constitutional environment. While the Supreme Court is admittedly a political actor, it is not the sole interpreter of the Charter, as the court, the cabinet, and bureaucracy all respond to the document, which has ensured the proper functioning of constitutional supremacy in Canada. Kelly analyzes the parliamentary hearings on the Charter and also draws from interviews with public servants, senators, and members of parliament actively involved in appraising legislation to ensure that it is consistent with the Charter. He concludes that the principal institutional outcome of the Charter has been a marginalization of Parliament and that this is due to the Prime Minister’s decision on how to govern with the Charter.

About the author


  • Short-listed, Donner Prize, Donner Foundation

Contributor Notes

James B. Kelly is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Concordia University.

Editorial Reviews

Governing With the Charter offers a number of challenging insights into the new era of Canadian politics. The theory of multiple rights activism, the historical analysis of framers’ intent, the reconceptualization of judicial activism, and the normative implications for the future make this a most satisfying volume for the scholar of Canadian law, as well as for the general comparative courts researcher.

Law and Politics Book Review, vol. 16, no. 6

Other titles by James B. Kelly