The Politics of the Charter: The Illusive Promise of Constitutional Rights

by Andrew Petter

© 2010

Andrew Petter is a leading constitutional scholar who served from 1991 to 2001 as a British Columbia MLA and cabinet minister, including Attorney General. In The Politics of the Charter, Petter assembles a set of his original essays written over three decades to provide a coherent critique of the political nature, impact, and legitimacy of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Showing how Charter rights have been shaped by the institutional character of the courts and by the ideological demands of liberal legalism, the essays contend that the Charter has diverted progressive political energies and facilitated the rise of neo-conservatism in Canada.

Drawing upon his constitutional expertise and political experience, Petter evaluates the Charter in practical, legal, and philosophical terms. These essays, along with a new introduction and conclusion, map out Petter's political philosophy and review the entirety of the Charter record. The Politics of the Charter is vividly written, free of legal jargon, accessible to a broad readership, and will provoke renewed discussion about how best to achieve a more compassionate and egalitarian Canadian society.

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 256 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.7in x 9.0in
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  • PUBLISHED JAN 2010

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    Regular Price: $39.95

    ISBN 9780802095992
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    ISBN 9780802098986
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Quick Overview

The Politics of the Charter is vividly written, free of legal jargon, accessible to a broad readership, and will provoke renewed discussion about how best to achieve a more compassionate and egalitarian Canadian society.

The Politics of the Charter: The Illusive Promise of Constitutional Rights

by Andrew Petter

© 2010

Andrew Petter is a leading constitutional scholar who served from 1991 to 2001 as a British Columbia MLA and cabinet minister, including Attorney General. In The Politics of the Charter, Petter assembles a set of his original essays written over three decades to provide a coherent critique of the political nature, impact, and legitimacy of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Showing how Charter rights have been shaped by the institutional character of the courts and by the ideological demands of liberal legalism, the essays contend that the Charter has diverted progressive political energies and facilitated the rise of neo-conservatism in Canada.

Drawing upon his constitutional expertise and political experience, Petter evaluates the Charter in practical, legal, and philosophical terms. These essays, along with a new introduction and conclusion, map out Petter's political philosophy and review the entirety of the Charter record. The Politics of the Charter is vividly written, free of legal jargon, accessible to a broad readership, and will provoke renewed discussion about how best to achieve a more compassionate and egalitarian Canadian society.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 256 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.7in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    This is a great read and an important book. For anyone interested in judicial politics, the tension between judicial review and democracy, the nature of rights or democratic theory, and how these issues have played out in the 25 years since Canada patriated its constitution, Petter's book is a must read.
    Marc Rush, Law & Politics Book Review, vol 20:10:10

    The Politics of the Charter is an important contribution to the ongoing debate about the role of rights litigation in policy-making. It reminds us that legalization of politics remains a hindrance to policy innovation, deliberative democracy, and good governance. Furthermore, it demonstrates that Petter remains one of Canada’s finest legal contrarians and one of its best legal minds.’
    Dennis Baker: Canadian Public Policy’ vol 37:01:2011

    'In The Politics of the Charter, Andrew Petter's well-argued and thought-provoking analysis of the changing role of Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms in Canadian law forces readers to re-examine their assumptions about the benefits or shortcomings of the Charter. As a coherent body of work, the essays in this collection represent one of the most compelling and well-reasoned critiques of the Charter yet in print.'


    Janet Hiebert, Department of Political Science, Queen's University

    'Reminiscent of F.R. Scott's Essays on the Constitution and Charles Taylor's Reconciling the Solitudes, this book collects three decades of Andrew Petter's writings on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. A collection of great value, The Politics of the Charter thoughtfully engages with evolving Charter interpretations to offer coherent commentary on what this document means for the Canadian constitutional order. It will be of significant interest to scholars and a terrific resource for students of political science and law.'
    Roderick A. Macdonald, F.R. Scott Professor of Constitutional and Public Law, McGill University, and author of Lessons of Everyday Law

    'Andrew Petter's scholarly brilliance, passion for democracy, and insider insight into politics and government combine to create a powerful and timely contribution to our understanding of rights and democracy. Elegantly written and rigorously argued, The Politics of the Charter is as much a reminder of democracy's promise as it is a scathing critique of rights. Laying bare the limits of Charter rights and litigation, Petter shows us that democracy, when truly in the hands of the people, is the best way to protect rights, meet needs, and help people fulfil their aspirations. The Politics of the Charter is a must read not only for those interested in rights and the Charter but for anyone concerned about the future and possibilities of democracy.'
    Joel Bakan, Professor of Law, University of British Columbia, and author of The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power and Just Words: Constitutional Rights and Social Wrongs
  • Author Information

    Andrew Petter is a professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Victoria.

  • Table of contents

    CONTENTS

     

    Acknowledgements.................................................................................................4
    Introduction.................................................................................................7
    Chapter 1:The Politics of the Charter........................................................26
    Chapter2:Charter Legitimacy on Trial: The Resistible Rise of
    Substantive Due Process...........................................................
    71
    Chapter 3:Private Rights/Public Wrongs: The Liberal Lie of the
    Charter....................................................................................
    109
    Chapter 4:Canada's Charter Flight: Soaring Backwards into the
    Future.......................................................................................
    140
    Chapter 5:Rights in Conflict: The Dilemma of Charter Legitimacy..............164
    Chapter 6:Rip Van Winkle in Charterland................................................190
    Chapter 7:Look Who's Talking Now: Dialogue Theory and the Return
    to Democracy...........................................................................
    209
    Chapter 8:Wealthcare: The Politics of the Charter Revisited......................233
    Chapter 9:Taking Dialogue Theory Much Too Seriously (Or Perhaps
    Charter Dialogue Isn't Such a Good Thing After All).................
    265
    Chapter 10:Legalise This: The Chartering of Canadian Politics....................293
    Conclusion.................................................................................................321


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