Expanding our Constitutional Horizons: A Comprehensive Study of Quasi-Constitutionality in Canada
A number of laws in Canada which uphold rights are referred to as quasi-constitutional by the courts in recognition of their special importance. Quasi-constitutional statutes are enacted through the regular legislative process, although they are being interpreted and applied in a fashion which has become remarkably similar to constitutional law, and are therefore having an important affect over other legislation. Quasi-constitutionality has surprisingly received limited scholarly attention, and very few serious attempts at explaining its significance have been made. This dissertation undertakes a comprehensive study of quasi-constitutionality which considers its theoretical basis, its interpretation and legal significance, as well as its similarities to comparable forms of law in other Commonwealth jurisdictions. Part I examines the theoretical basis of quasi-constitutionality and its relationship to the Constitution. As a statutory and common law form of fundamental law, quasi-constitutionality is shown to signify an association with the Canadian Constitution and the foundational principles that underpin it. Part II proceeds to consider the special rules of interpretation applied to quasi-constitutional legislation, the basis of this interpretative approach, and the connection between the interpretation of similar provisions in quasi-constitutional legislation and the Constitution. As a statutory form of fundamental law, quasi-constitutional legislation is given a broad, liberal and purposive interpretation which significantly expands the rights which they protect. The theoretical basis of this approach is found in both the fundamental nature of the rights upheld by quasi-constitutional legislation as well as legislative intent. Part III explores how quasi-constitutional statutes affect the interpretation of regular legislation and how they are used for the purposes of judicial review. Quasi-constitutional legislation has a significant influence over regular statutes in the interpretative exercise, which in some instances results in conflicting statutes being declared inoperable. The basis of this form of judicial review is demonstrated to be rooted in statutory interpretation, and as such it provides an interesting model of rights protection and judicial review that is not conflated to constitutional and judicial supremacy.
URI for this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/1974/15308
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