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The Oxford Handbook of the Canadian Constitution edited by Oliver, Peter; Macklem, Patrick; Des Rosiers, Nathalie (19th October 2017)

Part VI Constitutional Theory, B Constitutional Pluralism, Ch.43 Canadian Constitutional Culture: A Genealogical Account

David Schneiderman

From: The Oxford Handbook of the Canadian Constitution

Edited By: Peter Oliver, Patrick Macklem, Nathalie Des Rosiers

How might one explain Canadian constitutional practices that have produced outcomes that are, within limits, heterogeneous and pluralistic? The chapter inquires into this question by tapping into constitutional culture, referring to dominant understandings of the fundamental norms that guide relations between citizens and states and between institutions of the state. Contemporary constitutional culture, it is argued, is partly the product of choices made in the past by Imperial and early Canadian authorities. Taking a genealogical approach to Canadian constitutional culture, the chapter examines three episodes in Canada’s constitutional past that help to frame discussions about the constitutional present. Each illustrates the difficulty of governing those who are different; of aspiring to homogeneity while necessitating some heterogeneity in practice. They are representative samples of the waves of accommodation and assimilation that have been recurring features in Canada’s constitutional story and illustrative of the basic elements that make up Canadian constitutional culture.

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