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Edmund Burke, John Whyte and Themes in Canadian Constitutional Culture

By David Schneiderman

Abstract

John Whyte, the author observes, is committed to the idea that there are moral foundations to Canada\u27s constitutional order and that these foundations are derived from liberal principles. This paper compares Whyte\u27s liberal and organicist constitutionalism to that of the eighteenth century British political thinker, Edmund Burke. Three themes are predominant in Whyte\u27s work: those of liberty and security, unity and diversity, and constitutional change. Drawing out these themes in both Whyte\u27s and Burke\u27s constitutional thought, the author argues that Whyte has a sound historical basis for deriving Canadian constitutional practices from liberal principles ordinarily associated with Burke. The author concludes by asking this question: if Canadian constitutionalism can be reduced to liberalism, what distinguishes Canada from the United States, and more critically, what will prevent Canada from being absorbed into a larger North American political unit

Topics: constitutional law – philosophy; Burke, Edmund, 1729-1797; liberalism, Constitutional Law, Legal History
Publisher: Scholarship @ GEORGETOWN LAW
Year: 2006
OAI identifier: oai:scholarship.law.georgetown.edu:facpub-1202
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