Mr. Harper, meet the provincial premiers.

“You need a crisis to get movement on that.” This was the advice we got the other day when discussing our blogs on constitutional reform.  This person thought it was amusing when we said that we hoped to see something develop on constitutional reform within the next six years.  There is no question but that the movement toward constitutional reform in Canada is best described as glacial.  Even Mr. Harper’s attempt at limiting the terms of Senators has hit a stone wall with Canada’s provincial premiers.

Harper thought he could work around the premiers by the permissive wording of his legislation as opposed to changing those areas within provincial jurisdiction.  For example, instead of specifying how senators would be selected, his legislation allows the provinces to use whatever method they wish. In effect, provinces wishing to hold an election could recommend the winner(s) of an election and the Prime Minister would appoint the person(s).

But that ruse fails as soon as you get to Prince Edward Island.  The Islanders are extremely protective of their four seats in the House of Commons that are tied to their four seats in the Senate.  They will take the federal government to the Supreme Court if necessary to maintain the provincial prerogatives and Harper can hardly stuff the Court with supporters the same way he has already stuffed the Senate.

It will probably be a challenge to Quebec sovereignty that will trigger the next constitutional crisis.  That area is quiet at the moment but it always has the seeds of a potential flare-up.  The lack of support for Harper in Quebec is one factor that can trigger discord, the lack of identification with their constituents of most of the NDP’s Quebec caucus is another and the frustration of the younger federal Liberal Party support is the third.  We are assured that into that tinder, the necessary spark will fly.

What our country will need in that crisis will be the leveller heads in the rest of the provinces to accept the idea of a constitutional conference made up of people selected for that purpose.  Two or three persons from each federal electoral district can be elected to meet and discuss the constitutional needs of our country.  They will buy the time for the country to come to grips with the crisis that has been created and then a national referendum can affirm or undo what the constitutional conference has concluded.


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