This chapter considers the meaning, scope, and application of three constitutional principles of surpassing importance in Canada. The rule of law is foundational to Canada’s constitutional framework and may properly be characterized as the first principle of Canadian constitutional law. It is linked to, and in some respects, forms the underpinning for other fundamental principles, including constitutionalism, federalism, democracy, and parliamentary sovereignty. As the latter principles are the focus of chapters by other commentators in this Handbook, this chapter will examine the rule of law primarily in relation to the separation of powers and judicial independence. The principle of judicial independence is also essential to the functioning and structure of the Constitution, given the role the courts are called upon to play in policing the constitutional limits of legislative power and administrative action. The separation of powers is still an emerging principle in Canada, but also increasingly viewed as fundamental.
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