Master of Studies in Law


Studies in Law


Kate Glover Berger


This major research paper looks at how Canadian Supreme Court justices view their role in adjudicating reference questions. Comparing the texts of 21 Supreme Court advisory opinions across two eras of the Court (Chief Justice Laskin: 1973-1984 and Chief Justice McLachlin: 2000-2017), the study examines the use of four narratives – the Guardian of the Constitution, Umpire of Federalism, Institutional and Public Will – to determine how the Court positions its role vis-à-vis the constitutional order and the other branches of government. I use a mixed-method approach that incorporates an empirically oriented content analysis of each decision, complemented by four in-depth case studies of archetypal narrative displays. While evidence of all four narratives exists across both eras of the Court, two – the Guardian of the Constitution and the Umpire of Federalism – dominate both sets of judicial writings.