Citizens, Media and Constitutional Rights

The Supreme Court of Canada and Parliament must work together to develop a model for effectively implementing legislation that is constitutionally viable


The goal of this project was to assess the impact that reporting has on public opinion and citizens’ knowledge of their basic rights and the legal process. Project investigators recognized that misinformation, and incomplete, over-dramatized media reporting can skew public opinion relative to federal public policy debates. Annually, the Supreme Court rules on 90-100 cases, yet only a handful of these decisions receive extensive media coverage. This study examined the characteristics of court cases deemed worthy of extensive reporting, and chronicled the emergence of the Supreme Court as an increasingly powerful national institution and as a source for news making. The project resulted in a book length analysis intended to educate judges, journalists and citizens about the nature of media reporting, and to propose means of better informing citizens about public policy related rulings.

Grant Outputs

Media and Political Identity: Canada and Quebec in the Era of Globalization –

This report examines the difficulty of living in a culturally diverse country, with not only multiple national cultures, but two national languages. It points to the cultural and physical proximity of the United States, which makes it even harder to produce attention-grabbing media that can draw Quebec and pan-Canadian audiences in to media-reported federal debates.

Wrestling with Rights: Judges, Parliament and the Making of Social Policy –

This book examines how the Charter of Rights and Freedoms has affected policy making. It suggests that the federal government has not, as some have argued, passively allowed the courts to dictate charter obligations. Instead, parliament has established mechanisms within the federal bureaucracy to assess the rights implications of policy, and has reacted to judicial nullification of legislation with alternate readings of Charter provisions. The book proposes that the federal government would benefit from establishing a parliamentary committee that could review the constitutionality of proposed legislation, thus initiating an ongoing conversation with the courts.

Grant Details

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