by John T. Saywell, Emeritus Professor of History, York University. Published with University of Toronto Press, 2002.
For those who believe that the history of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council’s decisions on the Canadian constitution is an oft-told story, this book will be a revelation indeed. One of Canada’s outstanding scholars, Professor Saywell draws on previously unknown sources and new evidence to write a book which offers a remarkable re-interpretation of Canadian constitutional history. Focussing on the always controversial relation between national and provincial governments, it adds an engaging human dimension as it illuminates the remarkable vagaries of law lords and judges. Critical of the jurisprudence of the Judicial Committee, which he argues virtually eliminated some of the essential legislative powers of the federal government and destroyed its capacity to act on the economic and social problems of the twentieth century, Saywell credits the Supreme Court with restoring the balance in the federation and strengthening the national government. Above all Saywell’s analysis demonstrates that then as well as now, judges did not hesitate to “make law” – whatever the consequences. Comprehensive, ambitious and detailed, The Law Makers will be the definitive work on the evolution of the law of Canadian federalism.