Instructor(s): Grant Huscroft

Note: The add/drop date for this course is Monday, January 8 at 10:00 PM.

Course Location: Please see the "Intensive Course Schedule" under Schedules and Timetables (

Note: Attendance at intensive courses is mandatory for the duration of the course.

The study of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms typically focuses on the courts and their decisions. However, much can also be learned by considering the role of the legislative and executive branches of government and the approaches to constitutional interpretation these actors may adopt. What makes any particular approach to interpreting the Charter legitimate? What do we mean by the concept of legitimacy? Are the legislative and executive branches of government entitled to form and act on their own views on the requirements of the Charter, or does judicial supremacy in interpreting the Charter imply judicial exclusivity? What is the relationship between constitutional interpretation and constitutional change?

This seminar will consider these and other questions in interpreting the Charter. It will address various interpretive approaches, including living constitutionalism and originalism, and will analyze the concept of proportionality and its impact on Charter interpretation. Throughout, we will discuss leading issues in constitutional law using Canadian and international examples, and consider some of the key issues in constitutional theory.

Students will be evaluated based on a final paper on an agreed topic of 2,500 to 3,000 words. Papers must be delivered to the Records Office by 4:00 p.m. on February 5, 2024.
Academic year
2023 - 2024

At a Glance

Second Term



20 JD


Monday, January 8, 2024: 9:30 am – 12:00 pm
Tuesday, January 9, 2024: 9:30 am – 12:00 pm
Wednesday, January 10, 2024: 9:30 am – 12:00 pm
Thursday, January 11, 2024: 9:30 am – 12:00 pm
Friday, January 12, 2024: 9:30 am – 11:30 am