Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Repatriate This!

Since moving to Canada, I have always been confused by the whole Repatriation of the Constitution.  Since I come from a country that revolted from Britain, I never really got the idea of what it meant to somehow gain control of one's constitution any other way. 

The big time irony here is that Jean Chretien, who was widely known for being inarticulate:

neatly explains the politics, process, and implications of Canada's constitutional hijinks here.

Constitutional machinations are always confusing, providing ample room to folks to spin the perceptions in a variety of ways.  The majority of Quebec folks (much more than 50% plus one!) supported repatriation thirty years ago, but the nationalist discourse has turned the event into a betrayal--the night of the long knives.  As Chretien argues quite well, the Charter of Rights and all that came with out has been mighty, mighty good for Quebec.  Indeed, in many ones, it makes secession much less necessary or attractive, which, I guess, is a good reason to trash it and spin myths about the events of the time. 

I love how Chretien spins in this interview the Charter into being pro-gay marriage, showing the Quebeckers that the Charter is good protection against the vagaries of Conservative governance without even saying that directly.  He also takes credit for a law that makes amendments very, very difficult:
“To try to do anything with the Constitution without the consent of either Ontario, Quebec or B.C., you will have to change the law. [I] wish good luck to the prime minister who will go to Parliament and will say, ‘I want to take away the veto rights from Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.’ He will have a hell of a problem, don't you think so?”
 I only experienced the last year of Chretien's time as Prime Minister.  It must have been a great show.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The amendment procedure is a little more complex than "QC has a veto." QC (and every other province) does have a veto, but only on some matters. The general amending formula doesn't give QC a veto.