|About the Book|
The enactment of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982 was celebrated as the harbinger of a new dawn in Canadian democratic politics. In this book, Allan Hutchinson contends that it was and continues to be a serious mistake. In his centralMoreThe enactment of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982 was celebrated as the harbinger of a new dawn in Canadian democratic politics. In this book, Allan Hutchinson contends that it was and continues to be a serious mistake. In his central argument he shows that, far from enhancing civic life, the Charter has attenuated both its practice and potential. He extends his argument to rights litigation in general, showing how rights-talk actually betrays the cause of democracy. Although primarily focusing on Canadian cases and writings, Hutchinson raises concerns that stretch well beyond Canadas boundaries. He condemns the assumptions and institutions associated with liberalism generally and shows how even critics of constitutional decision-making remain within flawed liberal premises. The books coup de grace lies in its analysis of some leading decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada, revealing the extent to which the Court has tendentiously interpreted many supposedly fundamental rights and freedoms. Thus exposing the constitutional enactment of rights as an elaborate legal mechanism that lulls citizens into political quietism, Hutchinson champions a style of politics that engages the virtues of democratic dialogue over the vices of rights-talk. With this work Hutchinson has created a powerfully deconstructive expose of the unfulfilled promise of the Charter, offering constructive suggestions for a change of democratic focus. This is a persuasive and vital critique, whose influence will reach beyond law schools into the heart of contemporary political debate.