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McGill Law Journal/Revue de Droit de McGill. Volume 49, Number 1 (2004), p. 3-19.


In this lecture, Professor Arthurs argues that we are currently in need of "constitutional courage"-the courage to say "no" to ambitious projects of constitutional reform and constitutional litigation as a way to solve our pressing social and political problems. Professor Arthurs first lays out why our current obsession with the constitution is problematic. He insists that we do not even know what the supposed "supreme law of Canada" actually is, what it says, or even what it does. Moreover, instead of transforming society, the current "cult of constitutionalism" has only served to transform legal practice and scholarship. ei then surmises on the potential causes of our constitutionalism: the preponderant influence of American political and legal culture in Canada; the patchy and uncertain nature of our own constitution; frustration with parliamentary politics; the neo-liberal agenda; and perhaps even postrWodemisn. Lastly, he examines the role constitutionalism has played in the expansion of the judiciary power. Professor Arthurs concludes that it is time we said "no" to the constitution. Only by summoning up our constitutional courage will we be able to turn away from the distractions of constitutionalism and toward the more pressing and practical problems of the day.

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