The Judges Reference and the Secession Reference at Twenty: Reassessing the Supreme Court of Canada's Unfinished Unwritten Constitutional Principles Project

  • (Alyn) James Johnson

Abstract

Upon the 20-year anniversary of the Reference re Remuneration of Judges of the Provincial Court of Prince Edward Island and the Reference re Secession of Quebec, the author reflects on the methodology utilized by the Supreme Court of Canada to reach dramatic conclusions on the basis of unwritten constitutional principles in these cases. An analysis of several decisions leading up to the Judges Reference and the Secession Reference establish a pattern of reasoning from the abstract to the concrete, from unwritten principle to unwritten rule. However, these decisions lack in methodological self-reflection as they utilize unwritten principles to reach particular outcomes without situating the analysis in a larger interpretive framework. The author seeks to clarify this uncertainty by suggesting a methodological framework entitled “reasoning from constitutional essentials.” This methodology can assist in understanding the analytical framework used by courts to identify and reach conclusions on the basis of unwritten constitutional principles.

Published
2019-07-17
How to Cite
Johnson, (Alyn) J. (2019). The Judges Reference and the Secession Reference at Twenty: Reassessing the Supreme Court of Canada’s Unfinished Unwritten Constitutional Principles Project. Alberta Law Review, 56(4), 1077. https://doi.org/10.29173/alr2545
Section
Articles