Macquarie University
01whole.pdf (844.13 kB)

Reducing constitutional hyper-rigidity by means of digital technologies: a case study on e-consultations in Canada

Download (844.13 kB)
posted on 2024-04-17, 23:49 authored by Amy Jade Buckley

This thesis considers the possibility of using e-consultations as a digital mechanism for democratic participation as part of a reformative proposal to reduce constitutional hyper-rigidity. Hyper-rigidity arises when the procedure for formal amendment within a constitution is so demanding that the constitution is extremely difficult or even impossible to amend. Historically, the protection and maintenance of constitutional stability has often been cited as the reason why such stringent amendment requirements have been necessary. Scholars and politicians often assume that the only way to deal with hyper-rigidity is by means of judicial interpretation. However, in an age in which the use of digital technologies for strengthening democracy has become increasingly prevalent, this thesis examines the suitability for e-consultations to be adjusted to a constitutional level to contribute to a proposal for reducing structural constitutional hyper-rigidity.

After examining the case study of e-consultations in Canada, this thesis suggests a new two-part reformative proposal; namely, a reduction in the onerous requirements for formal constitutional amendments that make a constitution hyper-rigid, accompanied by the inclusion of an e-consultation process. Reducing the structural elements of a constitutional amendment mechanism alone could negatively impact constitutional stability. Introducing an e-consultation process alone would only serve to increase the already stringent requirements for formal amendments that make a constitution hyper-rigid. By doing both, structural hyper-rigidity would be reduced whilst constitutional stability would be preserved.

To ground this claim, Part I explores constitutional hyper-rigidity as a problem that subverts the popular sovereignty and participation, and the separation of powers principles of democratic constitutionalism. Part II explores whether digital technologies, in theory, can achieve the goals of deliberative democracy and are therefore consistent with democratic constitutionalism. Arising out of this theoretical backdrop, Part III undertakes a case study on Canada’s non-constitutional e-consultations to assess whether this is also true in practice. Part IV explores the possibility of adjusting e-consultations to a constitutional level, as a mechanism through which constitutional amendment rules can be more compliant with democratic constitutionalism, and outlines a reformative proposal.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- Chapter one: democratic constitutionalism -- Chapter two: constitutional hyper-rigidity, hyper-flexibility, and stability -- Chapter three: constitutional hyper-rigidity in Canada -- Chapter four: the disadvantages of digital democracy concerning democratic constitutionalism -- Chapter six: the advantages of digital democracy -- Chapter seven: is digital democracy better or worse for deliberative democracy? -- Chapter eight: the rise and development of Canada’s e-consultations -- Chapter nine: case study #1, -- Chapter ten: case study #2, the harmful content online e-consultation -- Chapter eleven: case study #3, the ‘Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy’ -- Chapter twelve: the lesson learnt from Canadian e-consultations -- Chapter thirteen: adjusting e-consultations to a constitutional level -- Chapter fourteen: the reformative proposal -- Conclusion -- Bibliography

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis masters research


Master of Philosophy

Department, Centre or School

Macquarie Law School

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Carlos Bernal-Pulido

Additional Supervisor 1

Andrea Dolcetti


Copyright: The Author Copyright disclaimer:






115 pages

Former Identifiers

AMIS ID: 322218

Usage metrics

    Macquarie University Theses


    Ref. manager