Osgoode Hall Law Journal

Document Type

Special Issue Article


Much of the literature on the Charter has focused on the manner in which the courts have interpreted the document. This essay examines the Charter from another perspective-its impact on the policy process within government. Drawing on a series of papers prepared by senior government officials at both the federal and provincial levels, the authors argue that the Charter has permanently changed the way in which governments formulate and implement public policy in Canada. Virtually all policy proposals making their way to the Cabinet table must be examined to ensure that they conform to the requirements of the Charter. This has forced governments to put in place new procedures and structures to undertake this review. It has also changed the balance of power within government, significantly enhancing the role and authority of the Attorney General. The authors describe these important structural changes and assess the degree to which they make a difference to policy outcomes.