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  1. Constitution

  2. what is constitution? • a body of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is acknowledged to be governed.

  3. Canadian constitution • 1931 • At the request of the Dominions, the British Parliament passed the Statute of Westminster • giving legal recognition to Canada's independence while reserving the British Parliament's power to amend the Canadian Constitution

  4. 1968 first discussions • A first round of constitutional discussions was held in February 1968 • initiative of Prime Minister Pearson, to examine the recommendations of the Bilingualism and Biculturalism Commission, • the question of a Charter of Rights • regional disparities • a general review of the Constitution

  5. 1968 continued • "Victoria formula“ • consent would be required from all provinces having or having had in the past at least 25% of Canada's total population • two of the Atlantic provinces • two of the western provinces with at least 50% of the total population of the western provinces • The First Ministers also agreed to incorporate language rights into the Constitution

  6. The existence and independence of the Supreme Court would be guaranteed by the Constitution • would define the Court's fundamental structure and recognize the importance of provincial participation in the process of selecting the justices • Provisions added to define the federal and provincial government's responsibilities

  7. Le quebec? • June 23 the Premier of Quebec rejected the Victoria Charter

  8. Trudeau <3 • The ProcessThe Prime Minister met with the premiers of the ten provinces in Ottawa in 1981, when negotiations took place regarding:a) the terms of the Constitution, b) the method of ratification, and c) the inclusion of a Charter of Rights and Freedoms. • Conflicts arose over: a) the Role of Quebec in Confederation;b) the division of powers between the provinces and the federal government;c) the potential of the Charter to limit actions of provinces on matters such as culture and language.

  9. Canada act 1982 • Statute of Westminster 1931 in relation to Canada • British parliament had a general power to pass laws extending to Canada at its own request • Trudeau • Canada act of 1982 changes that • Obviously everyone agrees to this but…. • Charter of Rights and Freedoms are added on • But with the “Notwithstanding Formula” which allowed provincial or federal governments to override the Charter

  10. What else happens? • Constitutional amendments NOW required the approval of the House of Commons, the Senate, and at least seven provinces whose combined populations were at least 50% of the population of the country as a whole. This meant that provinces with large populations, such as Ontario or Quebec, could prevent the ratification of proposed amendments, whereas a small province, such as Prince Edward Island or Saskatchewan, could not prevent the ratification of an amendment. • Is this fair?

  11. 1987-1990: Meech Lake • Quebec had not agreed to accept the Constitution Act in 1982, it was felt to be necessary to modify the Constitution to satisfy the concerns of Quebec • In 1987, a meeting of provincial premiers and the Prime Minister (this time Brian Mulroney) was held at the Prime Minister’s country home on MeechLake • There, an agreement was drafted which would then be ratified

  12. Quebec’s demands • Recognition of Quebec as a “distinct society”; • More power for provinces to:Nominate members of the Senate and the Supreme Court • Able to opt out of federal social programs New partnership with federal government on immigration

  13. Meech lake fails • Aboriginal Canadians were offered no special status or constitutional rights, despite arguably being an even more “distinct society” than Quebec • Women’s groups feared that Charter Rights would be weakened by increased provincial autonomy • The Yukon and Northwest Territories complained that the new amending formula would make it impossible for them ever to achieve provincial status; • Federalists such as Trudeau warned that the transfer of powers to the provinces would result in an erosion of common rights and standards across the country

  14. Clyde Wells • Newfoundland, Premier Clyde Wells refused to ratify it equality for all provinces and all people had to prevail, or there would be “destruction of the nation in a relatively short period of time”

  15. Elijah Harper • Cree Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), Elijah Harper, refused to allow debate and ratification to proceed • on the basis that the Accord did not address the concerns of Aboriginal Canadians, and that, if ratified, it would be difficult to make changes to the constitution later to address those concerns.