In constitutional theory, the referendum is an instrument that allows for the expression of the popular will in government decisions and through which people are asked to vote directly on an issue or policy. Over the last decades, the referendum has been the instrument used by minority groups to claim their independence supported by popular will. This paper examines trends in constitutional jurisprudence on the issue of independence referendums. The birth of this constitutional trend can be found in the 1998 decision by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Reference Re Secession of Quebec. The principles developed therein have been further explored in two recent cases, issued by the Italian Constitutional), and by the Spanish Constitutional Tribunal in the latest decision of the Catalonia saga (Judgment no. 114/2017).
The Canadian constitution is to some extent characterised by its focus on equality, and in particular gender equality. This development of women’s rights in Canada and the greater engagement of women as political actors is often presented as a steady linear process, moving forwards from post-enlightenment modernity. This article seeks to disturb this ‘discourse of the continuous,’ by using an analysis of the pre-confederation history of suffrage in Canada to both refute a simplistic linear view of women’s rights development and to argue for recognition of the Indigenous contribution to the history of women’s rights in Canada.
The gain of franchise and suffrage movements in Canada in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century are, rightly, the focus of considerable study (Pauker 2015), This article takes an alternative perspective. Instead, it examines the exercise of earlier franchises in pre-confederation Canada. In particular it analyses why franchise was exercised more widely in Lower Canada and relates this to the context of the removal of franchises from women prior to confederation.
The paper focuses on Canadian Provinces’ role in migrant selection. After an asymmetric approach, that benefited only Quebec, the federal government granted devolutionary powers in migrant selection to the other Provinces as well, moving towards de facto asymmetry. This process has proved to be successful over the years, but recently the federal government has reacted, recentralizing some aspects of immigration policy. This does not apply to Quebec.
This policy change may suggest that, although immigration federalism may be grounded on reasons other than the need to accommodate linguistic or ethnic claims, it remains the case that the former are “weaker” than the latter, and are more subject to pressure from the central government.
This is also confirmed by looking at the mechanisms through which intergovernmental agreements have been translated into law. Unlike the Quebec case, immigration’s devolution in relation to the other Provinces has occurred through administrative delegation of powers from the federal government. This permits the federal government to exercise some form of political pressure in order to realign the Provinces’ discretionary choices.
Canada is and will for the foreseeable future be a peaceful and prosperous liberal democracy whose Constitution Act, 1867, now 150 years old as of 2017, has become a model for the modern world. The Constitution of Canada has exerted considerable influence on other countries, particularly since the coming into force of its Constitution Act, 1982, which included the celebrated Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Just as Canada drew from foreign and international experiences in drafting its Charter, the world has learned a great deal from Canada, not only as to rights protections but also as to the separation of powers, the judicial function, and the structure of government.
In light of these impressive achievements, an international symposium on the Canadian Constitution was held in Pisa at the Scuola Sant’Anna under the auspices of the Sant’Anna Legal Studies project and with the support of the DIRPOLIS (Law, Politics and Development) Institute at the Scuola Sant’Anna, the Canadian Embassy in Italy, and the International Association of Constitutional Law. This special issue collects some of the papers presented on that occasion.
Constitutional scholarship in Canada since Confederation has been characterized by two primary narratives. The dualist narrative, which characterized constitutional scholarship between the late-nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries, focussed on the parallel developments of provincial and federal constitutions. The monist narrative, which has become the dominant model of interpretation since the mid-twentieth century, focusses on the federal constitution as a singular foundation of constitutionalism in Canada. As a result of the shift from dualism to monism, provincial constitutions have become largely ignored in Canada and subsumed by the “mega-constitutional” politics of the federal constitution. This paper examines provincial constitutions to highlight the significant reorientation of constitutional scholarship in Canada over the past 150 years, which has become primarily focussed on post-Confederation constitutional history and written constitutionalism.
Since it was passed, the Clarity Act has been at the core of any secessionist debate in Canada and abroad. Although contested at home, the Clarity Act has earned worldwide prestige as the democratic standard that must be observed when a secessionist debate arises. In the last fifteen years Spain has experienced successive debates about the need to establish a mechanism of popular consultation to address secessionist claims in the Basque Country and Catalonia. Most political actors in favour of such consultations have expressed their will to import the Canadian Clarity Act as a tool to settle disputes on how to conduct a referendum. However, this deification of the Canadian example is, for the most part, based on a misreading of the Secession Reference, only taking into account certain passages while ignoring others. The emphasis tends to be made on the quantitative clear majority test, disregarding other factors. Hence, the aim of this paper is to study the causes of this deification of the Clarity Act in Spain, and its influence on the treatment of secessionist claims that the country is currently experiencing.
After a discussion of the impact of the principle of equality, entrenched in the Charters approved in Canada since the 1867 British North American Act, this essay then focuses on the related Supreme Court’s adjudications. A brief analysis of the case-law concerning gender equality is followed by the discussion of cases of Aboriginal and Muslim women with the aim of assessing whether intersectionality represents for these groups of women a source of double discrimination. Brief concluding remarks discuss the challenges deriving from the different options for accommodating the principle of equality with cultural rights.
The development of the new National Security Strategy (NSS) of the Republic of Croatia, begun in November 2016, takes place in a radically different security environment compared to the first (and current) Croatian NSS published in 2002. This paper aims to provide incentives for potential adaptations to the approach and methodology used in Croatia’s NSS development, particularly in relation to hybrid warfare. Assuming that the hybrid adversary tends heavily to exploit the vulnerabilities of the targeted state and society, the paper addresses some of Croatia’s widely recognized weaknesses that should be taken into consideration in a threat assessment. As a conclusion, the paper proposes some recommendations, including the concept of societal resilience, related to ways to counter hybrid threats.
In this article I will examine the powers and activities of NATO-led Kosovo forces (KFOR) and their impact on human rights protection in Kosovo. Through this examination, I seek to answer the following questions: which KFOR actions affected the human rights of Kosovars? Does KFOR carry out responsibilities and abide by the obligations normally imposed upon nation-states? And is there a solution available when the alleged violator is KFOR? KFOR is responsible for carrying out military tasks and for ‘shouldering’ UNMIK and local security forces in some civilian peace-building tasks. In the course of the exercise of its mandate, there were alleged complaints of human rights violations by KFOR. The legal implications of these alleged complaints against KFOR (in)actions will also be discussed.