April 17, 2007

Charter Anniversary Missing Something Special

Hey Pierre, It’s Been a Generation

Pierre Trudeau was a great Prime Minister. He did many great things for Canada, one of which was repatriate the Canadian Constitution 25 years ago. Don't get me wrong. The Canadian Constitution is one of the most important documents in Canadian history.

It's sad that Stephen Harper needs to be asked 5 times before he can say he supports this great document.

Pierre Trudeau also said that change in the constitution would not be needed for a generation.

Some people wonder why Quebecers support the principles in the Charter but do not support the document itself.

Are Liberals against Tax Cuts for families? We just voted against them. Are we against the Eco-Fund for environmental programs? We just voted against those as well.

Are Quebecers against the rights in the Charter? Or against the freedoms it provides? Of course not. The fiasco that went down in Quebec City after the document was repatriated had nothing to do with what was in the Charter but what was not in it.

Back to what happened in Quebec, M. Remillard made Quebec’s “demands” clear: (demands is in quotations, because the term was lost in translation, demandes in French is not as forceful as the English term)

A veto for Quebec

Recognition of Quebec’s distinctiveness

Limit of the Federal Spending Power to prevent invasions of provincial jurisdiction.

Jean Chretien promised to not re-open the Constitution. He kept that promise. However, he did pass two resolutions in the house accomplishing the first two of those goals. Also, his intergovernmental affairs minister removed the strings from provincial transfers, but the finance minister did not restore transfers to previous levels.

Stephen Harper, taking the lead from Michael Ignatieff and the PLC(Q), upped distinct society to nation within Canada. Harper also restored transfers to the previous levels. (Also recommended by Bob Rae, Michael Ignatieff, and the PLC(Q))

Now that all the emotion from a generation ago has dissipated, I believe it wouldn’t be too difficult to stick all these things in their appropriate places and allow Quebec to say “Yes” to Canada once and for all.

That way, we can celebrate the Charter for what it represents everywhere in Canada, a document that protects the rights and freedoms of individuals everywhere. We need to celebrate that these values, Canadian values, define who we are as a people. We also need to do it as a united country. The longer we let the stalemate continue, the more we jeapordize that.

12 Commentaires:

Blogger KC a dit...

You haven't given anyone else outside of Quebec any reason to want to reopen the constitution. Sorry my friend but asking the rest of the country to put in the effort required to amend the constitution without addressing their grievances and perspectives on federalism is a non-starter.

4/17/2007 4:56 p.m.  
Blogger KC a dit...

In case you weren't aware... here is a brief laundry list:

"have provinces" (AB, Ontario) - What about limits on fiscal federalism? We pay too much. If social programs are provincial jurisdiction then paying for them should be too.

"have not provinces" - More equalization, less clawbacks during periods of growth, exclude resource revenue.

The West - Institutional reform. The east dominates and quirky rules (25% of seats in HOC to Quebec, no fewer House seats than Senate seats) means we are ignored. Senate reform.

The Territories - Guarantees of jurisdiction, and local autonomy, removal of the requirement of provincial consent to attaining provincehood.

Aboriginals - What about our nation? s. 35 doesnt go far enough.

"Canadianists" (my word) - Canada is the only nation in Canada (huge majorities in English Canada opposed the nation resolution). No special treatment for one province... no vetos.

Strong federalists across Canada - I like Ottawa having a say over social policy, no restrictions on the spending power.

Separatists - "we ain't signing nothin'".

There are so many differing perspectives and wants. Thinking that we can address all of them is naive. Thinking that we can have constitutional reform that only addresses Quebecs desires is naive and selfish.

4/17/2007 5:09 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous a dit...


Good point. However, you are mistaken when you say that Quebec is guaranteed 25% of seats in the House of Commons (currently, 24% of seats are allotted to Quebec). This was proposed in the Charlottetown Accord to compensate Quebec for the "equal" Senate reform. Thankfully, as we all know the Accord was rejected by a majority of Canadians in most provinces, including Quebec.

Anyway, I agree with your point. Many prominent politicians and commentators from Quebec see constitutional negotiations as an affair between Quebec and the federal government, or Quebec and the "rest of Canada". Many refuse to consider the views and demands of the other provinces, not to mention the Canadian people! This attitude makes any kind of agreement or compromise very difficult, if not impossible.

4/17/2007 5:48 p.m.  
Blogger KC a dit...

Thanks Ed. I stand corrected. Im still trying to figure out why BC and Alberta (combined population fo 7.5 million) have 64 seats between them while Quebec (population of 7.5 million) has 75.

4/17/2007 5:58 p.m.  
Blogger leftdog a dit...

At Pierre Trudeau's funeral, Justin told a story of how once when he was young, he was with Trudeau in the House of Commons cafeteria. Joe Clark was sitting a few tables away. Justin related that he said something very UNKIND and very RUDE about Joe to his father - but Pierre reprimanded him and told him that Mr. Clark is doing the best at what he believes in and does not deserve derogatory words.

It is too bad, that in politics - more people did not have the kind of class that Pierre Trudeau had. I am a card carrying New Democrat and my grandfather was a card carrying CCF'er who lived through the dustbowl in Saskathcewan.

Everyone, from all parties, can still learn from the kind of class the PET showed. Closer to home then you might even know.

4/17/2007 6:25 p.m.  
Blogger UWHabs a dit...

I think people are still worried that to open the constitution to put in those few things which have already sort of been addressed in the house will lead to others wanting more stuff, and in the and, as it's happened in Meech and Charlottetown, some Quebecois will be pissed off.

There will be a time when we will be able to open up the constitution question again, and where we will be able to fully include people, and where whoever doesn't get what they want won't feel fully left out, but I think we're not quite there yet. Soon, maybe, but not quite yet.

4/17/2007 8:44 p.m.  
Blogger JimTan a dit...

KC said

"There are so many differing perspectives and wants. Thinking that we can address all of them is naive. Thinking that we can have constitutional reform that only addresses Quebecs desires is naive and selfish.

I agree very much.

4/18/2007 2:54 a.m.  
Blogger Antonio a dit...

I said what QUebec wanted.

Frankly, it's not that I dont care about the other provinces, its that I do not really know their situations.

I would prefer we get this Quebec thing out of the way before we pursue further negotiations, but thats just me.

4/18/2007 8:49 a.m.  
Blogger KC a dit...

I would prefer we get this Quebec thing out of the way before we pursue further negotiations, but thats just me.

You're right about one thing... it is just you. I suspect very few else in this country are going to say "hey forget my needs, lets deal with your needs. And then when we've done that I'll have lost the only bargaining power I have, but hey... I'm sure you'll agree to my demands at a later date." Ya right.

If there is one thing I've never understood about your political arguments Antonio its what makes addressing Quebec's constitutional desires more pressing, legitimate and self-evidently justified than anyone elses. You've never given a satisfying explanation.

4/18/2007 9:41 a.m.  
Blogger KC a dit...

Frankly, it's not that I dont care about the other provinces, its that I do not really know their situations.

Maybe you should make yourself aware. Then you might understand why I and others find your willingness to ignore them so puzzling.

4/18/2007 9:43 a.m.  
Blogger Antonio a dit...

to be honest Kyle

I would rather see further negotiations take place with Quebec part of the Constitutional framework, even if it would only be symbolic.

I do not wanna see future negotiations fail as a result of something else.

There are some in this province who know that if Quebec does not get in the next time, there will be a third referendum, and depending which side of the bed mario Dumont gets out of that day, there is a very high chance of losing.

After the 1995 close call, Jean Chretien promised to address the constitutional needs of Quebec. He tried to do so outside the constitution without actually opening it.

Mario Dumont has used that line of attack successfully in Quebec because it does resonate. There is a large part of the Quebec population that wants to see this over with.

Once Quebec signs, a failed round of negotiations will no longer mean an imminent referendum, and they wont be so fractious as Mr. Mulroney so dubiously claimed.

Anywya, time to write a paper on how the JCPC toyed around with our Constitution...YAY!

4/18/2007 10:00 a.m.  
Blogger KC a dit...

No Antonio. A constitutional amendment that ONLY addresses Quebec's needs is SIMILARILY doomed to fail and that will carry just as many consequences as a package deal.

Maybe instead of dealing with Quebec's needs first we can deal with the west's desire for institutional reform or whatever and then they will have no need to block a subsequent attempt at amending.

Im sorry Antonio but the only reason you have really put forth to justify dealing with Quebec's constitutional desires first is because you think we should... and that doesnt cut it. We both know that if the ROC cedes to all of Quebec's demands it leaves no incentive for Quebec to give a little when it comes to the demands of others. Its a nonstarter.

Also you can continue with the "Quebec is not in the constitution" nonsense if you want but you and I know that that is not the case. Quebec agreed to the 1867 Constitution, and the process for amending the same didnt't provide for a provincial veto. Thus adding to the constitution in 1982 did not put Quebec "outside" the constitution.

4/18/2007 3:19 p.m.  

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