Autonomy, Subsidiarity, Solidarity: Foundations of Cooperative Federalism


  • Hugo Cyr



What does the constitutional principle of federalism entail? Instead of a detailed set of specific rules, the principle of federalism relies on a series of principles that distinguish federations from other political forms. The author proposes that three such principles stand out from within our constitutional instruments and jurisprudence: autonomy, subsidiarity and federal solidarity. The combination of these three interrelated constitutional principles forms the normative structure that gives Canadian federalism its internal logic. And it is the author's contention that this internal logic is one of cooperative federalism. It is these principles that must guide the judiciary when it fulfills its special duty as “guardian of the Constitution”, and as such, as guardian of the principle of federalism.