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CONSTN92.DOC = Canadian Constitutional Proposals 1992
The Canadian Constitution; 1992 by William W. Zuzak, Ph.D., P.Eng.
A. Reality of Canadian History
A.1 The various aboriginal peoples of North America have lived on this continent for thousands of years. Since the arrival of European imperialist-colonialists 500 years ago, their history has been one of exploitation, betrayal and genocide. It is undeniable that the establishment of the "white man's" society was predicated upon the complete destruction of the aboriginal societies. In Canada, the result of 125 years of "enlightened paternalism" has left native Canadians at the bottom of the social and economic "totem pole".
A.2 The French presence in Canada preceded the English by some 200 years. They established thriving colonial settlements along the St. Lawrence River and in the maritimes. Their commercial ventures in the fur trade penetrated deeply into the interior. However, the struggle for supremacy between French and English imperialism on the North American continent ended with the defeat of the French on the Plains of Abraham in 1759. For the next 200 years, the French habitants, mainly concentrated along the St. Lawrence River, turned inwards to preserve their language and religion from the ethnocidal forces of the encroaching English society. It was not until the Quiet Revolution of the 1960's that the Quebecois started building the dynamic society that is modern Quebec. Although the French were less successful in preserving their language and institutions outside Quebec, they have made enormous contributions to the development of all regions of Canada. Certainly, the French have been the most successful ethnic group in Canada.
A.3 To the English aristocracy, Canada ended up being a consolation prize of the North American colonial struggle. Hardly had the English imperialists established their dominance on the Plains of Abraham, when they were rudely turfed out by their own ungrateful brethren of what was to become the United States of America. Starting with the United Empire Loyalists, through the Act of Union, the BNA Act, the two World Wars and down to the privileged status of "British subjects" in the present day, the British Empire has been the most consistent symbol of the Canadian identity. Nevertheless, despite the obvious colonial attitudes of the ruling elite, or perhaps even because of them, a reasonably egalitarian society has developed since Canada's official inception in 1867. Canadians are obviously one of the more fortunate peoples on this planet.
A.4 After Confederation, immigration from the British Isles and Western Europe was insufficient to satisfy the manpower needs of a growing economy. Few people from these relatively prosperous areas were willing to tolerate the harsh conditions and low pay. The doors were reluctantly opened to less fortunate peoples from other areas of the world. Their reception in this country was just short of the genocide suffered by native Canadians. The Chinese, with little hope of being allowed to become Canadian citizens, were forced to pay a head tax for the privilege of being mercilessly exploited in building the transcontinental railway. To prevent Americanization of the Canadian West by American settlers flowing north in increasing numbers, starting in 1891, Ukrainians were brought in to homestead the prairies, in the face of shrill opposition by racial bigots. During World War I, their schools were closed and over 5000 of them were interned as enemy aliens. During World War II, the process was repeated with over 20,000 Japanese dispossessed and interned in labour camps. Italians were similarly persecuted and Germans carry the scars of being on the wrong side of both World Wars to the present day. In more recent times, blacks, Pakistanis and Sikhs have suffered the brunt of the abuse. And, of course, the existence of people of Islamic or faiths other than the dominant Christian-Judeo religion is simply ignored. Virtually all immigrant groups had to struggle to gain acceptance. All were expected to discard their "old world baggage" and accept the prevalent "English" world view. There can be little doubt that it is this element of Canadian society which has expended the most sweat and received the least material benefit for their efforts in building this nation.
A.5 At present, more than half the Canadian population can trace a portion of their roots to origins other than French or English. Sir Wilfred Laurier is credited with initiating the concept of "cultural mosaic" or "multiculturalism " for Canada. It is an admirable concept which is accepted in theory but too often the reality is assimilation and ethnocide. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that for the past several years there has been a concerted effort by the French-English elites to emasculate the concept of multiculturalism.[Top][Bottom]
B. The Provinces
B.1 Although at Confederation there were only 4 provinces, as of 1992 Canada consists of 10 provinces and 2 (presently 3) territories. Generally, their boundaries were drawn completely arbitrarily and do not represent natural physical or sociological divisions. Perhaps, it would be more natural to consider Canada consisting of 5 regions: Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, West and North. One could, at least, contemplate each region being organized as sovereign "self-sufficient" economic units, although this runs contrary to the "globalization" processes in fashion these days. This is the scenario supported by many Quebec sovereignists, who envision Quebec dominated by the "French", the "North" by the "aboriginals" and the rest of Canada by the "English" (or by the assimilated English-speaking multicultural element).
B.2 Those that would maintain the status quo, point out that this is rather a simplistic scenario. The demographic distribution of the population is not clear-cut at all. Almost half the population lives in the greater metropolitan areas of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. The jurisdiction of the aboriginals still logically extends to about 85% of Canada's land area including a very large part of Quebec and other provinces. The various ethnic groups including the French and the English are scattered across the breadth of the land and have interconnections across the various regions.
Secondly, our artificially created provinces have all existed at least 87 years. They have developed provincial bureaucracies and institutions which command the loyalty of their citizens. Much of their economies are, of necessity, provincially rather than nationally or internationally based. Redrawing provincial boundaries at this stage is certain to engender violent opposition at the provincial level.
B.3 Finally, provincial governments run their provinces like private fiefdoms from the colonial era. The outlying regions of each province complain that political power resides in the heavily populated metropolitan centers and that their needs are ignored by the provincial bureaucracies. Checks and balances are completely lacking on the provincial level.[Top][Bottom]
C. The Constitutional Process
C.1 My views on the necessity of involving the Canadian people directly in the constitution-making process and removing politicians from direct involvement in the process have been outlined in letters to Messrs. Schreyer, Trudeau and Romanow dated November 10, 1980 and to Mr. Wells dated June 3, 1990 (see Addenda A and B). Sadly, politicians insist on orchestrating the whole process.
The machinations used to repatriate the Constitution in 1982, the attempt to ram through the Meech Lake Accord in 1990 and the present attempts to hammer out "acceptable" constitutional amendments can, at best, be considered illegitimate. At worst, they are deliberate Machiavellian orchestrations of events to condition the Canadian people to accept the proposals of the ruling political elites and to circumvent consideration of the real problems.
C.2 After a long period of inaction following the Meech Lake fiasco, Keith Spicer and his cohorts criss-crossed the country extolling the virtues of bilingualism with its annual expenditures approaching one billion dollars and decrying the "waste" associated with the multicultural budget of several million dollars. The Economic Council of Canada, in examining the economic and social impacts of immigration, recommends "further diversion of funds from support of ethnic activities" so as to "fight prejudice at all levels". The Beaudoin-Dobbie conferences all studiously avoided the topic of multiculturalism and language rights of ethnic minorities.
C.3 Over the past several years an Orwellian transformation in English language usage has occurred. "Minority language rights" really means language rights for the English-French majority. When one decries discrimination against "visible minorities", does that imply that discrimination against "invisible minorities" is acceptable? "Founding nations" only refers to English and French. Only the French have a "distinct society". The era of double-speak and double-think is upon us.[Top][Bottom]
D. Quebec Sovereignty
D.1 The issue of Quebec sovereignty is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it is heartening to see the Quebecois shed their introversion and develop a modern dynamic society vigorously interacting with other regions of Canada and the world. The French-language news media, the artistic community, academic and industrial institutions and private corporations have all contributed positively to Quebec society. The Quebecois entered Confederation peacefully in 1867 with certain specified rights and borders and should be free to leave peacefully if it is in their interests to do so.
D.2 On the other hand, there are elements of intolerance and racism creeping into Quebec society. The infamous "English Sign Law", Bill 178, is obviously blatantly racist and the invocation of the "Notwithstanding clause" to circumvent a Supreme Court judgement as to its illegality has done severe damage to the image of Quebec sovereignty. The idea of young Quebec nationalists scouring the countryside in search of English signs to denounce brings to mind the actions of Lenin's Kommsomol Red Shirts in the former Soviet Union or Hitler's Brown Shirts in pre-war Germany. Blind unreasoning hatred of anything "anglais" is not a solid foundation on which to build a tolerant peaceful society with hopes of incorporating all the diverse elements comprising Quebec. A sovereign or separate Quebec must still respect basic human rights of all its citizens.
D.3 As noted previously, effective checks and balances on the provincial level are completely lacking. The present federal- provincial structure provides a form of checks and balances on the provinces. There is a danger that in a sovereign Quebec, its citizens would be simply exchanging their political masters -- replacing a rather sympathetic bilingual elite in Ottawa with a dictatorial French-speaking elite in Quebec City which may be even less responsive to their needs. Certainly, the record of recent provincial governments in Quebec is not reassuring in this regard.
D.4 The option of Quebec sovereignty was legitimized with Rene Levesque's 1980 Referendum. In my opinion, Quebecois society will never give up this option. Nor should they be expected to do so. Canadians outside Quebec should not make the mistake of trying to "bribe" Quebec into staying in confederation. Any solution to the present constitutional crisis must be acceptable to all sides concerned.[Top][Bottom]
E. Proposed Amendments in Beaudoin-Dobbie Report
E.1 The Beaudoin-Dobbie report proposes 3 Preambles (p23, p126, p128) and 2 Canada Clauses (p24, p129) for inclusion in the Canadian Constitution. The reference to aboriginal rights and responsibilities is excellent and long overdue in Canadian society. Unfortunately, the rest of the content leaves much to be desired.
E.2 First of all, the pompous sophistry of the language is simply not acceptable. One does not use terminology such as "the four winds of the earth", "the four corners of the world", or "convinced of the nobility of our experiment".
E.3 Far worse is the blatant racism and ethnocide implied in the references to the French, English and "others". The result is to define the French and English as first class citizens and the "multicultural" element as second class citizens unworthy of being allowed to protect and promote their diverse languages and cultures.
Consider the phrase: "The special responsibility of Quebec to preserve or promote its distinct society". One should not use the name of one province without referring to all of them. Secondly, it is the responsibility of the inhabitants of Quebec and not the government of Quebec to promote their distinct cultural heritage. This phrase should be generalized to read: "The responsibility of the inhabitants of each province to develop and promote the distinct character of their cultural heritage", or "The responsibility of the members of each ethnic group to develop and promote their cultural heritage".
Next, consider the phrase: "a profound commitment to the vitality and development of official language minority communities", or "that fosters the vitality and development of the language and culture of the French-speaking and English- speaking minority communities". These are not minority languages at all! It is absurd that the dominant languages in Canada are afforded protection in the constitution! The corollary is that all other languages are not protected and are therefore slated for extinction. This is constitutionalized ethnocide! This phrase must be reworded to read: "a profound commitment to the vitality and development of the languages and cultures of all ethnic communities".
E.4 It is reasonable and desirable for the federal government and its institutions (where feasible) to operate and provide services in French and English. But not because people of French and English ethnicity are accorded special status. It is not reasonable to attempt to dictate to provincial or local governments the languages in which they and their institutions must operate. And it is completely unacceptable for the constitution to dictate to private citizens and corporations the languages in which they are to converse and operate.[Top][Bottom]
F. The House of Commons and the Senate
F.1 The 1867 BNA Act transposed the political institutions of the British Empire directly onto Canadian soil. Unfortunately, neither the House of Commons nor the Senate reflect the present needs of Canadian society. Both are badly in need of reform.
The public perception of our elected members, their performance in Parliament and/or in Cabinet is extremely negative and with good reason. Scandal, corruption, nepotism, elitism, dishonesty, secrecy, etc. have become the trademarks of our parliamentary system. Public disdain for the Senate is even worse.
It is highly ironic that the element having the least confidence of Canadians (i.e. the politicians) has placed itself in charge of the constitutional process. It is equivalent to placing drug addicts in charge of eliminating the drug trafficking in our society. It is no accident that crucial questions such as secrecy in government, appropriate disclosure and accountability, checks and balances, etc. have not been placed on the constitutional agenda. The politicians are not about to limit their own political power!
Nevertheless, it is my position that fundamental changes to the House of Commons (such as proportional representation) should be postponed for 8 to 12 years to allow the new House of Regional Representation (i.e. the so-called Triple-E Senate) to become operational and entrenched. The present round of constitutional talks should concentrate on defining the composition, responsibilities and powers of an equal, elected and effective Senate.
Rather than electing an equal number of senators from each province or on the basis of population, it is far more logical that senators be elected on the basis of unit land area. (I suggest the mathematical formula 0.2*A0.3333, where A is the area in square miles of the province or territory .) This would allow the more sparsely populated areas in each province and Canada as a whole to be more fairly represented. The unfortunate reality is that present political power, residing in the highly populated metropolitan areas, holds "imperialistic" views toward the underpopulated "colonial" hinterland. It is crucial that power be more evenly distributed across all regions of Canada.
Secondly, equality of gender in our political institutions has been a professed but unattained goal for many years. An equal Senate with 50% female members is a perfect opportunity to implement this desirable goal
Based on the above criteria, seats in the Triple-E Senate
would be distributed as follows:
Prince Edward Island.........(4)
North West Territories......(22)
Thus there would be 140 senators from 70 constituencies, each represented by one female and one male.
The Governor-General of Canada would act as the nominal head of the Senate at the federal level and the various Lieutenant- Governors at the provincial level.
It is recommended that senators be elected for fixed four year terms for a maximum of two consecutive terms. Staggering of elections every two years may be desirable.
Senators would preferably run as independents with no connections to a political party. Certainly, any organizational connection of senators to existing political parties on the provincial or federal level would be prohibited by law. It is to be hoped that the corrupting influence of the established political organizations will be avoided.
Financial remuneration would be set at three times the national average income of Canadians plus expenses for communications, travel and support staff. Strict residency rules and full financial disclosure would be required by law.
In order for the power of the Senate to be sufficient to act as an effective check/balance on both the federal and provincial governments, they must be able to examine and ratify, reject or amend all legislation presented by all levels of government. The Senators of each province would be responsible for ensuring that their province's policies and legislation are compatible with overall provincial and national policies. Override of a defeated bill would be by means of a referendum in the constituencies of the senators opposing the bill.
Open access to federal and provincial government documents and information would be required. Hopefully, this would eliminate much of the secrecy which is now prevalent within governmental institutions and bureaucracies and which is such a threat to the functioning of free democratic societies.
It is to be hoped that in its new role the Senate will be able to act as a liaison amongst the various governments - - tempering political and economic rivalries and promoting co- operation inter-provincially as well as federally.[Top][Bottom]
G. Proposed Structure of Canadian Constitution
I envision the following sections to be included in the new Canadian Constitution:
G.1 Canadian Land Area and Flag
This section would define the physical boundaries and flag
- e.g. On the North American continent from the 49th parallel and Great Lakes to the Arctic; from Atlantic to Pacific Oceans.
- Further legal definitions could be included in an addendum.
G.2 Canadian Provinces and Territories
This section would define the 10 provinces and 3
- e.g. Names, areas, flags, populations, etc.
-Further information could be included in appropriate addenda.
G.3 The Canadian People
(c) English, Welsh, Scottish, Irish
(d) Other ethnic groups
This section would describe the historical settlement of the
Canadian territory (see section A above).
- Since many Canadians of Welsh, Scottish and Irish ancestry resent their cultures being suppressed and their nations being forcefully incorporated into the British Empire, it is recommended that these ethnic groups be listed separately from the English.
- It would be appropriate to list details of the various ethnic groups in Canada in separate addenda.
G.4 Canadian Society
In lieu of the Preamble and Canada Clause as proposed in the
Beaudoin-Dobbie Report, I would suggest the following concepts be
(a) Founding nations and distinct societies
- The aboriginal peoples and all immigrant groups have contributed to the development of Canada in the past, are doing so in the present and will continue to do so in the future. They are all founding nations and all have distinct societies.
- All languages spoken in Canada by all ethnic groups are recognized as being Canadian languages.
- All ethnic groups have a responsibility to develop and promote their languages and cultures.
- The aboriginal languages are accorded official status.
- French and English are designated as the working languages of the federal government and its institutions.
- Each province and territory is responsible for designating the working language(s) of its government and institutions.
G.5 Canadian Charter of Rights, Freedoms and Responsibilities
(b) Collective and/or social
- In my opinion, the Charter in its present form is not appropriate for inclusion in the constitution.
- Individual rights should be clearly defined as paramount over collective rights and should be in a separate section.
- Inclusion of "collective" and/or "social" rights in the Charter is difficult to justify and is dangerous to democratic principles.
- It is appropriate that final adjudication of individual rights be placed in the hands of the Supreme Court of Canada; however, it would be extremely dangerous to do so for collective and social rights. It is simply too easy to corrupt 9 individuals on such matters.
- It would be appropriate to also include individual (and, perhaps, collective) responsibilities that Canadians carry with respect to their rights and freedoms.
G.6 Federal Political Institutions
(a) House of Commons
(c) Supreme Court of Canada
- My views on the House of Commons and the new Triple_E Senate have been outlined in section F above.
- All Canadians, and especially women, should insist that half the Senators be female. Failure to do so would be completely irresponsible.
- Although it may be advisable to constitutionalize the Supreme Court of Canada, it would be unwise to place the Supreme Court on an equal footing with the House of Commons and Senate except as to interpretation of individual human rights.
G.7 Provincial Political Institutions
(a) Provincial legislatures
(c) Municipalities and cities
- As noted in section F above, the new Triple-E Senate would be involved in provincial legislation as well as federal legislation.
- It is not clear if, and in what manner, municipal and city governments should be included in the constitution.
G.8 Division of Powers, etc.
- The bulk of the details (such as defined in the old BNA Act) would be included here.
G.9 Amendment of the Canadian Constitution
(a) Via constituent assemblies and referenda
(b) Updated regularly every 20 or 30 years
(c) 9 of 13 provinces/territories + 50% of population
- It is crucial that future constitutional amendments be removed from the control of politicians. By definition, in a free and democratic society a constitution must be formulated by the people via appropriately composed constituent assemblies and ratified via referendum.
- In order to respond to changing realities, the constitution would be updated at regular intervals. Special sessions could be called more often, if and as required.
- The amending formula most acceptable to Canadians appears to be the 7 of 10 provinces (or 9 of 13 provinces and territories) plus 50 percent of the population. In lieu of a veto, provision would be made for a province or territory to be able to opt out of the particular item or out of confederation. (By definition, a province or territory voluntarily entering into confederation should be able to withdraw peacefully, if it is in its interest to do so.)
H. Philosophical Interlude
H.1 The rise and fall of various civilizations over the past several millennia was often associated with the success or failure of the civilization to adapt to technological innovations. Race, language, religion and ideology may be the intellectual cements which bind nations together, but it is the successful integration of new technologies into its infrastructure which is the measure of the comparative success of any individual nation. Economics is by far the most important criterion in the survival of any nation as an independent entity.
H.2 Although there has been tremendous growth in scientific knowledge, leading to undreamed of technological innovations, the corresponding growth on the humanities side has been far slower. The human species has failed to come to grips with the implications and ramifications of the technological revolution. Of most acute relevance is the fact that more humans survive birth and that they live much longer than in the past. There are already five billion people on the planet, which, according to any reasonable criterion, is about an order of magnitude greater than desirable. The consequent environmental devastation is unsustainable. Irreversible environmental damage is quickly making this planet uninhabitable for many plant and animal species, including, perhaps, the human one.
H.3 In the distant past, human actions had a negligible impact on the overall ecology of the planet. Consequently, we were never forced to develop a sensitivity to such matters. This is no longer the case. Like it or not, we have become caretakers of the planet earth. It is crucial that the nations adjust their civilizations to become ecologically conscious.
H.4 Consider the following concepts which are relevant to the
individual vs collective decentralization vs centralization capitalism vs communism anarchy vs world government provincial vs federal morality vs immorality love vs hate
Any successful society must compromise between the two extremes suggested by these concepts. It is not easy to choose wisely between these extremes. For example, the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia were obviously far too centralized and are now in the process of decentralization. On the other hand, the members of the European Economic Community have decided to give up some individuality and to integrate their economies. This is also the tendency in North America as evidenced by the Free Trade Agreement.
Extreme individualism is likely to lead to anarchy, whereas extreme collectivism toward totalitarian world government. (Indeed, the "new world order" espoused by George Bush has a high probability of evolving into just such a tyranny.) The optimum balance between individualism and collectivism is often a matter of personal choice.
H.5 The question of provincial vs federal powers appears to be the central key issue of Quebec's constitutional demands. In a normal confederation, composed of initially independent provinces, it would be the provinces who would define federal powers and be responsible for any constitutional changes to these powers. However, as pointed out earlier, Canada is not a normal confederation. In the name of the British Empire, it was created from the top down rather than from the bottom up. This has resulted in a centralized outlook amongst most of Canada's political and economic elite. To them, Quebec's demands for decentralization are anathema.
H.6 Philosophically, Quebec's demand for decentralization is easy to justify. Human beings are happiest and healthiest when they are able to make decisions concerning their lives. Decision- making should be decentralized to as low a level as feasible. History has shown that centralized societies tend to become autocratic and ossified. They can seldom adapt quickly to changing economic or social realities.
H.7 On the other hand, it is unlikely that individual provincial economies could compete successfully in world markets (as well as against each other). This is why it is so essential that provincial economies be co-ordinated (preferably under the supervision of a Triple-E Senate) into an overall national strategy. It is absurd that the federal government often attempts to implement economic or social programs without the full participation and support of the provinces. Or that provincial governments vie with each other, often at the expense of the taxpayer and/or the environment, to attract foreign investment projects of dubious desirability or need.
H.8 And finally there is the question of morality and love. No society based on immorality and hatred can possibly survive as a free and democratic nation. Unless Canadians approach the constitutional crisis with a positive attitude of goodwill towards fellow Canadians , all the written rules, regulations, rights and freedoms will be of no avail. In my estimation, it is these two ingredients which are most lacking in the present constitutional debate.[Top][Bottom]
Dr. Zuzak is currently doing research on controlled thermonuclear fusion on the Tokamak de Varennes for the Centre canadien de fusion magnetique. He has maintained an abiding interest in Canada's constitutional question for many years. Copies of this brochure may be obtained by contacting him at
604 des Fauvettes Ste. Julie, Quebec J3E 1G1 Res: (514)649-3338 Off: (514)652-8697 Fax: (514)652-8625 Email: email@example.com**********************************************************************
CONSTN92.DOC = Canadian Constitutional Proposals 1992
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