A Level Playing Field for Classical Liberalism: the Abolition of the Court Challenges Program Empowers a Diversity of Perspectives on Freedom and Equality

John Carpay

Abstract


In 1982, Canada abandoned its parliamen- tary democracy for an American model of con- stitutional democracy in which unelected, and hence unaccountable, judges exercise substan- tial legislative power. Before the Canadian Char- ter of Rights and Freedoms1 became the supreme law of the land, Canada’s Parliament and pro- vincial legislatures were essentially sovereign, limited only by the federal-provincial division of powers in sections 91 and 92 of the Constitu- tion Act, 1867.2 Activism and advocacy in the democratic political arena were the only ways to bring about policy change. But since 1982, Canadian judges — like their United States (U.S.) counterparts — play a very active role in shaping public policy on a wide range of issues, many of them complex and controversial.


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