No pressing need to reopen Constitution, I have better things to do: Trudeau

Justin Trudeau says there is no pressing problem facing the country that can only be resolved by opening the Constitution -- a laborious, time-consuming road the new prime minister has no intention of going down.

OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau says there is no pressing problem facing the country that can only be resolved by opening the Constitution — a laborious, time-consuming road the new prime minister has no intention of going down.

That includes the fact that Quebec has never formally signed onto the Constitution, which was patriated in 1982 with a charter of rights by Trudeau’s father, Pierre, over the objections of the province’s then-separatist government.

“What I ask now to anyone who offers to open the Constitution, or says we should open the Constitution, is: what concrete problem are we trying to solve that is unsolvable without opening the Constitution?” Trudeau said during a 75-minute sit-down with the Ottawa bureau of The Canadian Press.

Unless there is an intractable problem that can only be remedied by constitutional amendment, constitutional wrangling “as we’ve seen in the past (is) a laborious effort that would consume a lot of the dialogue between the federal government and the provinces,” he said.

“I’d rather be talking about climate change and energy issues and job creation and training and health care and all these things that will make a concrete difference in people’s lives.”

Trudeau scoffed at a suggestion that Quebec’s continued refusal to sign the Constitution is a major problem.

“Which articulates itself how?” he asked rhetorically.

Some Quebecers will always complain that Quebec is excluded from the Constitution, Trudeau acknowledged. But the Constitution does in fact apply to the province and nothing in it has limited Quebec’s ability to deliver health care or education or take action on the issues that matter most to Quebecers, he said.

As well, he said Quebecers are among those who value the charter of rights most highly.

Moreover, Trudeau asserted that the Oct. 19 federal election showed, for the first time in three decades, that Quebecers want to re-engage and play a role in the governance of the country.

“More than half the MPs elected in Quebec are from the governing party. That is an indication that Quebecers are not excluded from government or feeling excluded from Canada.”

Trudeau’s late father spent copious amounts of time haggling with the provinces over constitutional change throughout his 15 years as prime minister. But that was aimed at addressing “a very specific problem” that could not be rectified in any other way, Trudeau said, noting that “we couldn’t amend or address our Constitution without going to ask permission from the British parliament.”

“It was unnatural for a modern democracy not to have control over its own constitution.”

As well, he said his father wanted to create a binding charter to protect Canadians’ fundamental rights and freedoms.

There are no similar constitutional issues in play today that are needed to improve the country or make a difference in the lives of Canadians, Trudeau maintained.

Some provincial and federal politicians have argued that the Constitution should be opened to abolish or reform the Senate. But Trudeau has opted instead for reforms that can be implemented without changing the Constitution.

His government is in the process of creating an arm’s-length advisory board to recommend non-partisan nominees for appointment to the Senate. The process is aimed at reducing partisanship in the upper house in a bid to restore it to its intended purpose as an independent chamber of sober second thought.

Just Posted

Festival of Trees volunteers honoured at breakfast

This year’s Festival of Trees was able to provide the Red Deer… Continue reading

Two Red Deer filmmakers are finalists in web-series contest

Angel Peterson and Jason Steele are each creating pilot episodes with $20,000 prize

Sexual predator preyed on his own young daughter and niece

Eckville man sexually assaulted numerous children as young as two for nearly a decade

Scheer’s resignation tips party into internal war over school tuition payments

OTTAWA — Signs began to emerge Friday that the coming race to… Continue reading

Man who tried to kill Edmonton police officer, pedestrians sentenced to 28 years

EDMONTON — A man convicted of attacking an Edmonton police officer and… Continue reading

Drug bust: Red Deer RCMP seize drugs, cash, vehicles

Criminals are getting creative. Red Deer RCMP have seized cash and vehicles… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Thursday Join us at the Senior Center Downtown House (5414 43 St.… Continue reading

Regina police say male driver dies at scene after collision with large truck

REGINA — Police in Regina are investigating a fatal crash in the… Continue reading

From fourth place, Singh says he’d rather push Liberals than work with Tories

OTTAWA — The New Democratic Party is sitting in fourth place after… Continue reading

No winning ticket for Friday night’s $31 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $31 million jackpot… Continue reading

Vancouver homeless camp brings community, safety, home, says resident

VANCOUVER — Standing out in the rain on a path between tents… Continue reading

Advocate says Winnipeg must tackle poverty, addictions to end violent crime

WINNIPEG — A recent spike in violent crime in Manitoba’s capital has… Continue reading

Grizzly bears move north in High Arctic as climate change expands range

Some unlikely neighbours are moving in around the northernmost communities of the… Continue reading

Lawyers for QuadrigaCX clients request exhumation of late founder’s remains

HALIFAX — Lawyers for clients who lost millions in the bankruptcy of… Continue reading

Most Read