Interview – Legal Expert – John Whyte – Brief

The Charter Project team filmed and edited interviews with legal experts and others who can offer unique historical perspectives on The Charter, its inception, and how it affects the everyday lives of Canadians. This is the brief excerpt from our interview with John Whyte, a Constitutional advisor in the Government of Saskatchewan during the years leading up to the patriation of the Constitution.



John Whyte was educated at University of Toronto, Queen’s University and Harvard Law School. He taught law at the Queen’s University Faculty of Law from 1969 to 1997 and served for five years as Dean of Law. He held the position of Visiting Scholar at Yale Law School and at the University of Melbourne Faculty of Law and served as Visiting Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School at York University and at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law.

His research and publications have focused on constitutional law; he has published more than one hundred works – books, edited collections, articles and notes, including two leading Canadian constitutional law course books.

He served as the Province of Saskatchewan’s Director of Constitutional Law from 1979 to 1982 and as the Saskatchewan Deputy Attorney General and Deputy Minister of Justice from 1997 to 2002. He has appeared in the Supreme Court of Canada in a number a number of constitutional cases including the Patriation Reference and the Secession Reference.

He was also a Senior Policy Fellow at the Saskatchewan Institute of Public Policy. There, his research was directed to developing effective justice structures for Aboriginal peoples and exploring statecraft strategies for accommodating minority communities within states. Also at the University, Whyte held the Ariel F. Sallows Chair in Human Rights, the first endowed chair of human rights in any college of law in Canada.


Other legal expert interviewees include:

  • The Honourable Justice Ian Binnie (former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada)
  • The Honourable Justice Frank Iacobucci (former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada)
  • The Honourable Roy McMurtry (Former Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Appeal, and key participant in the drafting of The Charter)
  • R. Douglas Elliott (counsel at the Supreme Court of Canada on the Reference Re Same Sex Marriage decision)
  • Senator Jerry Grafstein (advisor to Prime Minister Trudeau when The Charter was drafted)
  • Jean Teillet (Aboriginal rights litigator)
  • André Marin (Ombudsman of Ontario)
  • Patrick Ducharme (Criminal Lawyer, Ducharme Fox LLP)
  • Jill D. Makepeace (Criminal Lawyer, Greenspan Humphrey Lavine Barristers)
  • Windsor Law Professors: Bill Bogart, Bruce Elman, Emir Crowne, David Tanovich, Laverne Jacobs, and Jasminka Kalajdzic.



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