Dalhousie Law Journal


Constitutional Experiment, Canadian, staggering array, foci, tumultuous struggles, identity, community, citizens, governments.


Amidst the staggering array of possible foci for an essay on the Canadian constitutional experiment I have chosen to stress the recent tumultuous struggles for identity and community which have engaged citizens and governments. My perspective is primarily from the bottom up, not because the recent constitutional exercise shows the Canadian peoples as masters of their fate, which it does not, but because who we are and to whom we relate as fellow citizens are important subjects in themselves. Further, the contemporary democratic state cannot function successfully in a vacuum. Its weight and its pressure are such, and its purposes are so intrusive of society, that what we now have is a state-society fusion in which a positive symbiosis between the two is a functional necessity. Otherwise the state will fall into disrepute and disrepair as it faces an indifferent populace. State purposes now require so much popular support and participation if they are to succeed that we have no alternative but to move in the direction of a more participant citizenry, which shares on a day to day basis in the task of governing itself. Thus the community towards which we work is a political community which simultaneously links us with each other and reduces the distance and the differentiation between the governors and the governed.