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JSTOR: Viewing Subject: History

As the basic rulebook for Canadian politics, the Constitution governs several key political relations in Canadian society. First, it establishes basic principles and rules that govern the relationship between citizens and the state. In this context the state is understood as encompassing all branches (executive, legislative, and judicial) and levels (federal, provincial, territorial, and local) of government. The Constitution empowers the state (or parts of it) to deliberate, enact, and implement laws that will govern the life of citizens. At the same time, the Constitution also recognizes important citizen rights that limit how the state may exercise this power and authority.

This article is part of a series on the politics and government of Canada: Government

Counsel for the applicant contended that by its nature the duty to facilitate public involvement in the law-making process requires that it be enforced there and then. Its delay is its denial. The argument does not take sufficient account of the role of Parliament and the President in the law-making process. As pointed out earlier, the President has a constitutional duty to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution. The role of the President in the law-making process is to guard against unconstitutional legislation. To this end, the President is given the power to challenge the constitutionality of the bill. The President represents thepeople in this process. The members of the National Assembly perform a similar task and have a similar obligation. Thus duringthe entire process, the rights of the public are protected. The public can always exercise their rights once the legislativeprocess is completed. If Parliament and the President allow an unconstitutional law to pass through, they run the risk of havingthe law set aside and the law-making process commence afresh at great cost. The rights of the public are therefore delayed whilethe political process is underway. They are not taken away.

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What is ultimately important is that the legislature has taken steps to afford the public a reasonable opportunity to participate effectively in the law-making process. Thus construed, there are at least two aspects of the duty to facilitate public involvement. The first is the duty to provide meaningful opportunities for public participation in the law-making process. The second isthe duty to take measures to ensure that people have the ability to take advantage of the opportunities provided. In this sense, public involvement may be seen as “a continuum that ranges from providing information and building awareness, to partneringin decision-making.” This construction of the duty to facilitate public involvement is not only consistent with our participatory democracy, butit is consistent with the international law right to political participation. As pointed out, that right not only guaranteesthe positive right to participate in the public affairs, but it simultaneously imposes a duty on the State to facilitate public participation in the conduct of public affairs by ensuring that this right can be realised. It will be convenient here to consider each of these aspects, beginning with the broader duty to take steps to ensure that people have the capacity to participate.

The international law right to political participation reflects a shared notion that a nation’s sovereign authority is onethat belongs to its citizens, who “themselves should participate in government – though their participation may vary in degree.” This notion is expressed in the preamble of the Constitution, which states that the Constitution lays “the foundations fora democratic and open society in which government is based on the will of the people.” It is also expressed in constitutional provisions that require national and provincial legislatures to facilitate public involvement in their processes. Through these provisions, the people of South Africa reserved for themselves part of the sovereign legislative authority that they otherwise delegated to the representative bodies they created.

Political Science and Government

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South Africa is a democratic state founded on certain values. The only value which provides information about the participatoryand representative elements of our democracy and public involvement is the value set out in section 1(d). Four ingredients ofdemocracy are mentioned: universal adult suffrage, a national common voters’ roll, regular elections and a multi-party systemof democratic government. The object of all these elements of democracy is to ensure accountability, responsiveness and openness. The first three elements emphasise a participatory aspect of democracy. They imply that every person should have the rightto vote in elections held regularly and to be registered on a national voters’ roll precisely for the purpose of being ableto exercise that right. The multi-party democracy aspect is the first pointer to the representative nature of the democracycontemplated in our Constitution. It implies that our democracy requires citizens to vote for members of a political party whowould represent them.

And this is so regardless of the nature of the obligation. It can make no difference logically or otherwise whether the obligationimposed upon Parliament is readily ascertainable or whether Parliament must in the first instance determine its reach. The Constitution imposes an obligation on Parliament to pass legislation in relation to certain matters. Although the content of the legislationis within Parliament’s discretion the obligation to pass that law is readily ascertainable. In these circumstances it is myview that, this Court will be the only Court with jurisdiction to order that Parliament must fulfil that obligation or to declarethat Parliament has not fulfilled the obligation to pass the legislation. If, however, legislation is passed by Parliament to comply with the relevant provision, even though Parliament must make the first determination in relation to what the contentof that legislation should be, this will not be the only court with jurisdiction in a claim for invalidity of the law concernedbased on content inconsistency. The only material distinction is whether the case is about the invalidity of law or conductor whether it is about the fulfilment of an obligation that is not necessarily concerned with the invalidity of law or conduct. Only this Court can make an order either declaring that Parliament has not fulfilled a constitutional obligation or orderingParliament to fulfil that obligation. The sensitive political area is the finding that Parliament has not fulfilled an obligationimposed upon it by the Constitution. Invalidity of law or conduct is not as sensitive.

The articles under this heading deal with international relations as a field of study
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Souls of Black Folk :: W E B Du Bois . org

by Sujit Choudhry (Cambridge University Press) The migration of constitutional ideas across jurisdictions is rapidly emerging as one of the central features of contemporary constitutional practice. The increasing use of comparative jurisprudence in interpreting constitutions is one example of this. In this book, leading figures in the study of comparative constitutionalism and comparative constitutional politics from North America, Europe and Australia discuss the dynamic processes whereby constitutional systems influence each other. They explore basic methodological questions which have thus far received little attention, and examine the complex relationship between national and supranational constitutionalism - an issue of considerable contemporary interest in Europe. The migration of constitutional ideas is discussed from a variety of methodological perspectives - comparative law, comparative politics, and cultural studies of law - and contributors draw on case-studies from a wide variety of jurisdictions: Australia, Hungary, India, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada.

How To Promote National Unity Among The Nation

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University of California Press on JSTOR

Generally speaking, a constitution is a system or code that establishes the rules and principles by which an organization is governed. Many different types of organizations have constitutions, ranging from companies, to voluntary organizations, to political parties. The Canadian Constitution is an example of a particular type of constitution, usually referred to as a governmental or national constitution. In this context, the Canadian Constitution establishes the rules and principles that govern the operation of government and political life in Canada. It represents, in essence, the basic “rulebook” of Canadian politics, setting out the nation’s fundamental political principles, the powers and duties of government, and the rights and privileges of citizens.

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