Multiculturalism and the Canadian Constitution
Have beens ignificant shifts in political values have taken place
Image formerly of “a political community that was highly deferential to elite
Charter = symbol for the death of deference
o Opened up new avenues for a qualitatively different form of political
participation – rely less on rugged political arithmetic of majoritanism
Sense of empowerment that came from 1982 Constitution and people’s
attachment to it as a statement of fundamental human values
Charter responded to and nurtured an emergent rights agenda.
After 1982, Canadians were able to conceive their Constitution as a culturally
significant document instead of a somewhat esoteric guide to the allocation
of governmental authority.
Egregious errors – bad errors in relation to the Meech lake Accord
o “Meech Lake was a seamless web that could not be changed”
Aboriginals saw Meech lake as deeply offensive to their desire to become
In working with the Charlottetown Accord, it was realized that serious
citizen engagement had become a mandatory part of constitutional renewal.
Governments failed to understand that with new actors in our national
political discourse, their old familiar ways had to either obtain democratic
legitimacy in the eyes of these actors, or change into something that could
Intergovernmental relations are largely a “closed shop” of bureaucrats and
Lesson of Meech Lake: the “junior governments” (territorial govt’s,
Aboriginal organizations) have a valid claim to be at the intergovernmental
table – they are representative bodies of polities with either a substantial
degree of self-government today.
The world of constitution making and of intergovernmental decision making
generally is a more democratic and pluralist world than prior to 1982.
o If this is ignored, the legitimacy of intergovernmental relations and
federal governance will die too.
Ex. Fates of Meech Lake and Charlottetown