Good Government? Good Citizens?:Courts, Politics, and Markets in a Changing Canada


249 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7748-1164-1
DDC 306.2'0971






Reviewed by Joseph Garcea

Joseph Garcea is a professor of political Studies at the University of


The central objective of Good Government? Good Citizens? is to explain
the transformation that has occurred during the past two decades in the
roles of the courts, politics, and markets, and the relations not only
between those entities but also between citizens. In providing such an
explanation, the book focuses on developments during that era in four
key areas of governance (namely, First Peoples, cyberspace, education,
and aging), each of which is dealt with in a separate chapter.

The author expresses concern about two notable trends in the Canadian
polity. The first is the marked drift among Canadians toward the
American constitutional ethos of “life, liberty and the pursuit of
happiness” and away from the Canadian constitutional ethos of
“peace, order and good government,” that Bogart believes is
imperative in assuring “good citizens” the “good life” in this
country. The second trend is the subordination of representative
politics and pro-active governments to the courts and markets. Bogart
maintains that this has occurred because citizens perceive
representative politics and proactive governments as an impediment to
free markets and free citizens. His objective is to alter such
perceptions and to make the case that “[r]epresentative politics in
Canada needs rehabilitation.”

To that end, Bogart implores readers to reconsider such perceptions and
to reduce their reliance on courts and markets over representative
politics and proactive governments. In his words, “Good citizens
forging good government and relying on it should be a central goal of
Canadian society at the beginning of the new century.” In effect, he
is attempting to provide a corrective to contemporary libertarianism by
injecting it with a healthy dose of progressive conservatism.

This is one of the most insightful and interesting books written on
Canadian governance and citizenship in many years. Although Good
Government? Good Citizens? is well organized and well written, it is not
easy to read; it is a sophisticated book that demands—and
deserves—the reader’s careful attention.


Bogart, W.A., “Good Government? Good Citizens?:Courts, Politics, and Markets in a Changing Canada,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed February 21, 2024,