Several constitutional issues remain unresolved

Letter to the Editor by Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Your Canada, Your Constitution, August 4, 2012

Re: ‘Queues Of Indians’ Did Not Interest Thatcher, Aug. 3.

While it was great that Canada’s Constitution was patriated, and that the British government remained mostly neutral throughout that process, there remain several unresolved constitutional issues.

Recent surveys commissioned by Your Canada, Your Constitution (YCYC) have shown that two-thirds of Canadians want key, currently unwritten and vague rules (known as “constitutional conventions”) made clear by writing them down, with enforcement by appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. These rules regulate the powers of the prime minister and provincial premiers to call elections, open and shut down legislatures and declare a vote of confidence whenever they want.

This constitutional change, which politicians in most countries have made (including Britain, Australia and New Zealand) can be done without changing Canada’s written Constitution – all that is needed is for politicians from all parties at the federal level, and in each province, to agree to write down the rules for each of their governments and legislatures.

Another survey commissioned by YCYC found that two-thirds of Canadians want the governor-general, and the provincial lieutenant-governors, replaced by a new position that is elected, and that 52% of Canadians want Canada to become fully independent by retiring the British monarchy as Canada’s head of state.

Whether politicians across Canada will respond to this majority of Canadians who want further constitutional change in these key areas remains to be seen, but hopefully if they do, they will use an inclusive process that unites the country, and allows Canadians to have a vote on each issue separately.

This Letter to the Editor was published in the National Post.