Quasi-Constitutional Legislation and Constitutional Pervasiveness

In this presentation I suggest that the study of quasi-constitutional legislation provides a fruitful new way into the discussion of how the Constitution influences ordinary law. When it comes to statutes, there is a natural tendency to focus on constitutional compliance to the exclusion of questions about how else the Constitution might influence statute law. But of course, the Constitution does influence legislation in myriad ways. In the Supreme Court of Canada’s jurisprudence on the application of the Charter to administrative decision-making and to the common law, for example, the Supreme Court has explained that the “spirit” or “values” of the Charter shape the development of these areas of law. In the same way, the spirit and values of the Constitution shape legislation. I argue that quasi-constitutional legislation is best understood as a manifestation of the pervasiveness of constitutional norms and values in our legal system, and that this pervasiveness is salutary.