Reading about Canada's notwithstanding clause
June 21, 2019 7:10 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for recommendations on a good book on the Canadian constitution and/or the notwithstanding clause in particular.
posted by Chrysostom to Law & Government (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If you haven't read it already, the 1982 Constitution Act itself is a pretty good read. (For the weird shit, read the 1867 act.)

This government background paper might be a good starting point for further research.
posted by clawsoon at 7:48 PM on June 21, 2019

(If you really want to get into the Canadian constitution, the reasonable limits clause in the 1982 act has generated much more interesting jurisprudence. The notwithstanding clause is a hammer; the reasonable limits clause is a scalpel. However, I haven't read any books on it and I'm not a lawyer, so I don't know whether to recommend this one or this one or this one, or just direct you to the Department of Justice's own Charterpedia.)
posted by clawsoon at 8:14 PM on June 21, 2019

(The Night of the Long Knives is also an important part of the notwithstanding clause story.)
posted by clawsoon at 8:30 PM on June 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

I haven't read the Dodek book, but I've met him (in a professional capacity). Out of the three linked, I'd say his is the one that is written for more of a generalist audience. Books published by Irwin are meant for legal audiences (i.e. written by lawyers for lawyers) so they will assume a much higher knowledge base. The authors of the Irwin books have good reputations.

I think clawsoon is right in that the best place to start is with the Constitution Act itself and then with the government websites. After that, I'd probably just do a search of whatever database allows you to access major Canadian magazines (like Maclean's) and papers (the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star should give you a decent difference in perspectives with the Globe being more conservative and the Star being more liberal, although you can always throw others, such as the National Post into the mix). Whenever the notwithstanding clause comes up (and it comes up more frequently than you'd think), the media will do explainers and histories and overviews. Actually I'm sure the CBC website would also be a good starting point.
posted by sardonyx at 8:40 PM on June 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, I've requested the Dodek from the library, will report back.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:25 AM on June 23, 2019

Probably the best single book on the history of Canada's constitution is Peter Russell's Constitutional Odyssey.

If you really want depth send me a message and I can send you the reading list for the comprehensive PhD exam in Canadian politics at U of T.
posted by sindark at 11:44 AM on June 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: sindark, you mean this book?
posted by Chrysostom at 6:50 PM on June 23, 2019

Response by poster: Read the Dodek, which was fine, but very intro level.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:38 AM on July 19, 2019

Response by poster: Read Constitutional Odyssey, which was pretty much what I was looking for. I think I disagreed Russell in a number of places, but it was a detailed look at the Canadian constitutional process.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:32 PM on August 30, 2019

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