Abstract

Political theorists have long considered the question of how constitutional design can respond to the demands of minority nationalism. In this context, Canada has attained considerable prominence as a model, even though the notion of the model came to prominence during the Canadian constitutional crisis of the 1990s, when Quebec nearly seceded. In part, the much-touted Canadian exemplar may be viewed as an intervention by Canadian political theorists in domestic constitutional debates as a way of supporting national unity. However, the Canadian constitutional crisis also points to the limits of a legal approach to the accommodation of minority nationalism. On the one hand, most constitutions contain a process for constitutional amendment, which conceivably might bring about changes sufficient to satisfy the minority nation. On the other, the rules for constitutional amendment may encounter profound difficulties in constituting and regulating moments of constitutive constitutional politics, since it is precisely at those moments that the concept of the political community, which those rules reflect, is placed at issue by the minority nation.

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