The Democratic Resilience of the Canadian Constitution

We advance three categories of institutional explanations for the resilience of Canadian constitutional democracy. First, we show that Canada’s choice to chart its own unique course in the debate pitting presidentialism and parliamentarism has borne the fruits of democracy. Second, we demonstrate that Canada’s robust “democracy branch” has been both a source and driver of its democratic resilience. Third, we illustrate how the Supreme Court of Canada has managed to issue highly political and quite controversial decisions without becoming perceived as a partisan institution—making it an overtly political but not politicized institution. The upshot of our inquiry is that constitutional design—and not political culture alone—has been critical in reinforcing the democratic resilience of the Canadian Constitution. We conclude with some long-term challenges that we view as significant, despite Canada’s relatively enviable position among the countries of the world in our day.