Constitutional Veggie Burgers

My lecture on the Alberta Sovereignty Act and the Saskatchewan First Bill

Last month I had the honour and the pleasure of delivering a lecture at the Centre for Constitutional and Political Studies (CEPC) in Madrid, which they entitled “The Canadian Constitution under Pressure: The Alberta Sovereignty in a United Canada Act of 2022”. In addition to the Alberta statute, I also spoke about the Saskatchewan First bill. This event (as well as a seminar I gave at the University of Barcelona) was supported by the Canadian embassy in Spain, so for my Canadian readers: it’s your tax dollars at work! I am grateful to the embassy, and also to the Fundación Canada, which also supported my trip and made the necessary connections that made the event happen.

I should say, despite my gratitude to my kind hosts, that the title of my talk was one they chose, not I, and that I wasn’t entirely happy about it. I doubt that, for all the bluster, these laws really put the Canadian constitution “under pressure”. They are pernicious, as Mark Mancini, Maxime St-Hilaire, and I have argued elsewhere about the Alberta Sovereignty Act, especially insofar as they seek to undermine the respect necessary in every federation for judicial determination of the metes and bounds of the jurisdictions of the two orders of government. But it will take more than these ultimately mostly toothless laws to really put the constitution under pressure.

Hence my own working title, as I thought about what I would say (I didn’t have prepared remarks; I prefer speaking without notes), was “Constitutional Veggie Burgers”. That’s what I think these laws mostly are: fake, tasteless, and meant to virtue-signal. Sorry, vegetarians, not sorry. Anyway, the CEPC has now made a video of my talk available, so you can judge for yourself whether I have made my case (my remarks start at about 7:15):

Author: Leonid Sirota

Law nerd. I teach public law at the University of Reading, in the United Kingdom. I studied law at McGill, clerked at the Federal Court of Canada, and did graduate work at the NYU School of Law. I then taught in New Zealand before taking up my current position at Reading.

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