Federal Constitutionalism and Aboriginal Difference
The author outlines a new legal approach, which he labels federal constitutionalism, to the question of aboriginal difference in Canada. This approach has the potential to open up more fruitful avenues for the resolution of aboriginal law issues than either the “frozen rights” approach currently adopted by the Supreme Court of Canada or the treaty federalism approach, which posits that treaties should be used to resolve all differences between aboriginals and non-aboriginals. The author outlines the difficulties inherent in both the frozen rights and treaty federalism approaches. Federal constitutionalism, in contrast, draws its vitality from an organic understanding of Canada’s constitutional experience. It would allow aboriginal peoples to be seen as federal actors who have historically shaped the Canadian federation. Federal constitutionalism is a multi-faceted approach that would permit aboriginal questions to be addressed using the federal principle, thereby allowing the legal focus to move away from section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. Aboriginal peoples would be able to exercise the rights of sovereignty over their own internal affairs, while individual aboriginals could participate directly in federal and provincial governments without having to proceed through the intermediary of aboriginal representatives. Federal constitutionalism would allow aboriginal peoples a guaranteed sphere of autonomy, while permitting recognition of their historical interdependence with non-aboriginal peoples.
Publisher(s)Queen Law Journal
LECLAIR Jean, " Federal Constitutionalism and Aboriginal Difference ", vol. 31, (2006) Queen Law Journal 521-535.