(Ir)responsible Government, Deliberat(iv)e Democracy and the Evasion of Democratic Constitutionalism since Meech Lake
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The de-legitimation of elite representation and bargaining in constitutional politics since the mid-1980s has resulted in a more challenging environment both for the management of inter-cultural relations and the reform of our democratic institutions. Governments and citizens alike have increasingly looked away from ordinary legislative processes to referenda and citizens’ assemblies in order to achieve legitimate change but without the benefit of a coherent theory or practice of democratic constitutionalism that explains and justifies the respective roles of representative, deliberative and direct democracy. This paper argues that the way forward requires (1) a more purely deliberative model for initiating and formulating proposals for institutional change; and (2) a highly realistic model that recognizes the inescapability of power relations in deliberation on political matters. Both of these considerations point towards putting our elected representatives “back in the hot seat” of democratic deliberation.