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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A new $2.3 billion expansion of Alberta’s natural gas transportation system was approved by Ottawa on Tuesday. It will add 344 km of new pipeline to an existing 24,500-km system. The new line will stretch from west of Red Deer to Grande Prairie. (Flickr photo)
Red Deer-area to benefit from $2.3 billion gas pipeline expansion project

Project will add 344 km of new pipeline between RMH and Grande Prairie

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer urged Red Deerians to take more pandemic precautions to stem the rising number of local cases of COVID-19. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
Red Deer Mayor urges citizens to take more pandemic precautions

Active cases are rising at a ‘concerning’ rate

Turning the off-season Ross Street Patio into a vibrant, welcoming place for diners is the new goal of adjacent business owners, who plan to add some heaters and musical entertainment this winter. (Advocate file photo).
Ross Street Patio will keep running in downtown Red Deer this winter

City approves a pilot project during the pandemic

Classes will not resume as normal in January at RDC, but through a blend of online and in-person formats. (Advocate file photo).
RDC to offer a blend of online, in-person classes in January

In-person learning will be upped to 40 per cent

Bojan Pajic, 17, was reported missing. (Photo contributed)
17-year-old Red Deer reported missing

Red Deer RCMP seek public’s assistance

Student taking a math test. (Pixabay photo)
David Marsden: Students need more testing, not less

Testing has been central to Alberta’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s… Continue reading

Red Deer AAA Bantam Rebels forwards Riley Yzerman helps teammate William Jamieson, right, celebrate his goal against the Leduc U15 AAA Oil Kings at Servus Arena Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
U15AAA Rebels dominate to open AEHL season

U18AAA Optimist Chiefs also grab first win of 2020-21 season

Arizona Cardinals’ Kyler Murray celebrates running the ball for a touchdown in the second half of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas, Monday, Oct. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
Murray has happy homecoming, Cards cruise past Cowboys 38-10

‘Monday Night Football’ debut for Murray

Gillian Robertson celebrates her win over Sarah Frota during UFC 240, in Edmonton, Saturday, July 27, 2019. Robertson used her superior grappling skills to dominate Brazil's Poliano Botelho en route to a unanimous decision win Saturday night on a UFC Fight Night card. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian Gillian (The Savage) Robertson dominates in UFC decision win in Abu Dhabi

Canadian Gillian (The Savage) Robertson dominates in UFC decision win in Abu Dhabi

Most Read