Review Essay of Judicial Power and the Charter: Canada and the Paradox of Liberal Constitutionalism, 2d ed. by C.P. Manfredi (2003) 1 International Journal of Constitutional Law 379-90.


Canada is in the midst of a national debate over judicial activism under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In recent years, the discourse of activism has been taken up by the right. There is a litany of charges here—that under the cloak of judicial review, the Supreme Court of Canada is foisting a particular political agenda upon the Canadian public, a mixture of gay rights and feminism. For students of comparative constitutionalism, the rise of the right-wing critique of Charter adjudication is instructive. Just as the Charter has shaped the drafting of bills of rights in several jurisdictions, so too can the Canadian experience provide important lessons on the politics of judicial review that will likely emerge in those jurisdictions as well. The second edition of McGill University political scientist Christopher Manfredi’s Judicial Power and the Charter is therefore worth reading, not only for its discussion of Canadian developments, but also for the light it sheds on the comparative politics of judicial review.