What the Supreme Court of Canada Says

Here are several quotes that the Supreme Court of Canada has used to describe the law that it upholds in Canada. To see a full discussion about the relevance of these quotes to the section 3 Charter rights of ISS members in Canada please click here.

“The consent of the governed is a value that is basic to our understanding of a free and democratic society.”

“Democracy is a fundamental value in our constitutional law and political culture.”

“A functioning democracy requires a continuous process of discussion.”

“It is, of course, true that democracy expresses the sovereign will of the people.”

“To be accorded legitimacy, democratic institutions must rest, ultimately, on a legal foundation.  That is, they must allow for the participation of, and accountability to, the people, through public institutions created under the Constitution.”

“Democracy is not simply concerned with the process of government.  On the contrary, as suggested in Switzman v. Elbling, supra, at p. 306, democracy is fundamentally connected to substantive goals, most importantly, the promotion of self-government.  Democracy accommodates cultural and group identities: Reference re Provincial Electoral Boundaries, at p. 188.  Put another way, a sovereign people exercises its right to self-government through the democratic process.”

“It is suggested that as the notion of popular sovereignty underlies the legitimacy of our existing constitutional arrangements, so the same popular sovereignty that originally led to the present Constitution must (it is argued) also permit ‘the people’ in their exercise of popular sovereignty to secede by majority vote alone.  However, closer analysis reveals that this argument is unsound, because it misunderstands the meaning of popular sovereignty and the essence of a constitutional democracy.”

“Constitutionalism facilitates — indeed, makes possible — a democratic political system by creating an orderly framework within which people may make political decisions.  Viewed correctly, constitutionalism and the rule of law are not in conflict with democracy; rather, they are essential to it.  Without that relationship, the political will upon which democratic decisions are taken would itself be undermined.”

“We emphasize that the protection of minority rights is itself an independent principle underlying our constitutional order.”

“‘[T]he Canadian tradition’, the majority of this Court held in Reference re Provincial Electoral Boundaries (Sask.), [1991] 2 S.C.R. 158, at p. 186, is ‘one of evolutionary democracy moving in uneven steps toward the goal of universal suffrage and more effective representation’. Since Confederation, efforts to extend the franchise to those unjustly excluded from participation in our political system — such as women, minorities, and aboriginal peoples — have continued, with some success, to the present day.”