In-class and public education materials will give Canadians the opportunity to let key politicians know what kind of government they want by drafting their own constitution – including the 14 million Canadians who have never been consulted about the Constitution
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
TORONTO – Today, in the lead up to the 146th birthday of Canada, the national educational charity Your Canada, Your Constitution announced that it will undertake a multi-year New Canadian Constitution educational exploration process leading up to Canada’s 150th birthday on July 1, 2017. The process will give Canadians the opportunity to learn all about Canada’s Constitution and to draft their own version of a new constitution, and to send it and a message to political party leaders and other key politicians across the country about the Canada and Canadian government they want.
The New Canadian Constitution process will include distributing educational materials about the facts and figures of Canada’s Constitution to teachers across the country to use in civics, political science, history and law classes, along with public education and consultation initiatives to involve Canadians in a national discussion of key constitutional issues, especially issues that are unresolved and that the public views as areas of concern.
“Canada will be 150 years old in 2017, and what better national public discussion and educational exploration to have over the next few years than about Canada’s Constitution, which contains the key rules for how our governments and our country work, and about what Canadians want to see in a new constitution,” said Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Your Canada, Your Constitution (YCYC).
Just over 20 years ago, more than 14.5 million Canadians did something they had never done before – they voted in a referendum on changes to Canada’s Constitution proposed in what was known as the Charlottetown Accord. While that set of changes was rejected by a majority of Canadians, some of the changes have been implemented in other ways since 1992, and surveys show large numbers of Canadians still want other democratic changes to the structure and operation of governments in Canada.
Of the total population of 34 million Canadians, about 9 million are age 15-34, and they have never taken part in a public discussion of Canada’s Constitution as they were not old enough to have voted in the 1992 Charlottetown Accord referendum nor the 1995 Quebec referendum. Another 5 million have immigrated to Canada in the past 20 years. As a result, about 14 million Canadians (41% of the total population) have never been asked by governments about what they think of Canada’s Constitution.
“Many recent surveys show that a large majority of Canadians think Canada’s constitutional Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a world-leading document, but that there are many other fundamental problems with Canada’s Constitution and governments, and that they want changes to make a new constitution,” said Conacher.
The results of surveys commissioned by YCYC over the past year include the following:
- a February 2013 survey found a majority of Canadians (55%) want to change to a Canadian head of state, while only 34% want to continue with a member of the British royal family as Canada’s head of state;
- a December 2012 survey found a very large majority 84% want restrictions on key powers of the Prime Minister and provincial premiers with clear written rules that can be enforced;
- a May 2012 survey found 67% want a new, elected person to replace the Governor General and lieutenant governors, and;
- a May 2013 survey found a large majority of Canadians (71%) want legal restrictions on party leader powers to give more freedom and power to politicians in each party.
The results of other surveys about constitutional issues in the past couple of years include the following:
- a survey in February 2013 by Ipsos Reid of just over 1,000 Canadians found that 78% want the Senate reformed or abolished;
- a survey in July 2012 of 1,000 Canadians last year by Angus Reid Inc. found that 72% of Canadians want elected senators, and 71% want a referendum on the Senate;
- a survey commissioned by the International Association of Quebec Studies and conducted by Léger Marketing in March 2012 of 2,039 Canadians found that 71% of people in Quebec (and just under 50% in the rest of Canada) believe the Quebec government should propose changes to Canada’s Constitution, as more than 40% think it is important that the Quebec government did not patriate Canada’s Constitution in 1982, and;
- a survey in May 2011 of just over 1,000 Canadians conducted by Harris-Decima for Canadian Press found that 58% were open to constitutional changes to change the country’s electoral system, and the same percentage were open to changes to convince Quebec to ratify the Constitution.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Your Canada, Your Constitution (YCYC)
Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Toronto Faculty of Law
What do you think about Canada’s Constitution? You can see key info and send a letter letting key politicians across Canada know what you think HERE.