The Unbroken Supremacy of the Canadian Constitution

  • Brian Bird Doctor of Civil Law Candidate, McGill University


This article revives the awareness of the heritage and inheritance of section 52(1) of theĀ Constitution Act, 1982. It exposes the pre-1982 legal basis for constitutional judicial review in Canada and the mechanics of the transition in 1982 to an express supremacy clause. This article also challenges two popular notions in Canadian constitutional law today. The first is that the addition of section 52(1) in 1982 transformed Canada from a state governed by parliamentary supremacy into a state governed by constitutional supremacy. The second is that the Canadian judiciary became the guardian of the Canadian Constitution in 1982. Contrary to conventional wisdom, 1982 was, with respect to the supremacy of the Canadian Constitution, a moment of continuity rather than a break with the past.