If you Google it, you will find ‘Fear of Change’ is called metathesiophobia. So, let’s just call it fear of change. The prime minister made it very clear, in his battle of wits with Ontario premier Doug Ford the other day, that he was not about to start trying to change the constitution.
The prime minister was criticizing the Ontario premier’s use of the constitution’s ‘Not Withstanding’ clause to temporarily deny Ontario’s CUPE education employees their right to strike. The premier doubted that the prime minister would want to sit down with the premiers to change that clause.
And he was right. Justin Trudeau agreed that he was not about to try to change Canada’s constitution. I believe that. He told me 12 years ago that he had no interest in changing the constitution. He seems consistent.
I think that kid got his mother’s brains and his father’s nose.
Premier Ford was quoted as saying that the ‘Not Withstanding’ clause was just a “constitutional tool” available to provincial governments. What he does not seem to know is that there is another clause in the constitution that talks about ‘disallowance and reservation.’ It is the clause in our constitution that allows the lieutenant governors or the federal government to delay or disallow a provincial law.
Some scholars think that the clause for disallowance and reservation has fallen into disuse because it has not been used since 1943. Since the clause was still there after the changes of 1982, I would suggest it is just as valid today as the name ‘Canada’ that was used in the 1867 constitution.
And it is only the fear our federal government—and the need for votes in Quebec—that keeps our federal government from using the disallowance and reservation clause to forestall the Quebec legislature’s bigotry and attempted suppression of the English language in that province.
And when the amusing new premier of Alberta tries to pass a sovereignty act in that province, that says it can cherry pick the federal laws it will obey, they will want to have disallowance and reservation ready.
Copyright 2022 © Peter Lowry
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