Preface to the first edition

AuthorHamish Stewart
to the First Edition
Some years ago, at the end of a class on the Motor Vehicle Reference,1 a
student asked me, “What are the principles of fund amental justice?” In
response, I quoted Lamer J’s holding that t hese principles are the “basic
tenets of our legal system” that lie “in the inherent domain of the judi-
ciary as g uardians of the justice system”2 and defended his justif‌ication
for judicial review under the Charter.3 The student was not in the least
satisf‌ied. “Yes, I understand all that,” he continued, “but what are the
principles of fundamental ju stice?” What he wanted was not only a
general description of the principles, or a methodology for determi ning
what they were, but a specif‌ication of the precise legal norm s that the
Supreme Court of Canada had identif‌ied as worthy of constitutional
status under section 7. This book is a belated attempt to answer the
student’s question. I discuss the place of sect ion 7 in the constitutional
order (Chapter 1) and I give an account of the Court’s method for decid-
ing whether a particula r legal principle is so fundamental that it merits
recognition under section 7 (Chapter 2). I go on to state, as clearly and
positively as the caselaw permits, the conditions under which section 7
will apply to a legal dispute (Chapter 3), the legal norms that have been
recognized, or rejected, as pri nciples of fundamental justice under sec-
tion 7 (Chapters 4 and 5), and the very limited circumstances in which
1 Reference re Motor Vehicle Act, [1985] 2 SCR 486.
2 Ibid at 503.
3 Ibid at 495–500.

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