Published In

Constitutional Forum Constitutionnel

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2011

Subjects

Canada; Constitutional law; Diversity; Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; Section 7; Supervised injection site; Insite; Choice; Law and Geography; Right to the City

Abstract

The Insite case is a great study for students of constitutional law. The twinning of a claim of inter-jurisdictional immunity - in a somewhat novel application to provincial jurisdiction - to the assertion by some of Canada's most marginalized citizens of the fundamental freedoms of life, liberty, and security of the person delivers a compact and compelling recitation of basic features of Canada's constitutional landscape. The case is set in the landscape of the Vancouver's Downtown East-side (DTES) - a geography of spatial outcomes that reflects balances of economic and social power and displacement. This place has a specific demography and is shaped by particular sets of social conflict and cohesion. The "landscape" is inner city and urban, a material outlook that is among the poorest in North America, and a symbolic vista that signals the multiple blights of race, gender, culture, and class oppressions of 21st century capitalism. Thus, "landscape" signifies both "a physical environment and . . . a particular way of seeing a space."' It is both "site and sight." Both aspects are useful in thinking about the social geography that underlies the legal argument and about how rights to citizenship so often instantiate in property and space. The purpose of the author’s comment is to link the case's jurisprudential allure back to the local politics and activism out of which the legal argument sprang. What aperçus she offers about Insite focuses primarily on reflections that centre thinking about geography and its margins, space, politics, and law.

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