Governmental Power and COVID-19: The Limits of Judicial Review

Forthcoming, Flood et al eds., The Law, Policy and Ethics of COVID-19 (University of Ottawa Press, 2020)

Ottawa Faculty of Law Working Paper No. 2020-29

9 Pages Posted: 26 May 2020 Last revised: 5 Nov 2020

See all articles by Paul Daly

Paul Daly

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section

Date Written: May 25, 2020

Abstract

The goal of this Chapter is to explain why those hoping for a high level of judicial engagement with the forms of power being used to combat the cultural, economic, medical, social and other fallout from the current pandemic are likely to be disappointed. In Part I, I explain the different forms of power being used in Canada, at the federal and provincial levels, to respond to the pandemic: imperium (general norms with the force of law), dominium (government contracting and distribution of resources) and suasion (information provided to the citizenry). I go on in Part II to explain why judges are unlikely to enforce public law principles, such as reasonableness, procedural fairness and compliance with the Constitution of Canada, including the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, on the uses of these different forms of power. As to imperium, any judicial engagement is likely to be at the margins and as to dominium and suasion there is a long tradition of judges refusing to extend the judicial review jurisdiction to encompass contractual decisions and the provision of non-binding guidance. Those concerned about the difficulty of holding Canadian governments to account in these trying times would be better advised to look to improving the channels of political accountability than trying to navigate those of legal accountability

Suggested Citation

Daly, Paul, Governmental Power and COVID-19: The Limits of Judicial Review (May 25, 2020). Forthcoming, Flood et al eds., The Law, Policy and Ethics of COVID-19 (University of Ottawa Press, 2020), Ottawa Faculty of Law Working Paper No. 2020-29, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3610339 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3610339

Paul Daly (Contact Author)

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, K1N 6N5
Canada

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