In Norway, 1814 is known by many as "The Year of Miracles" because of the huge national and political changes that suddenly and rapidly took place that year. 1814 is the starting point for modern Norwegian democracy. It had both a national and a democratic element: independence for the state of Norway and liberty for Norwegian citizens
The senators themselves could also aid in this democratization process by self-imposing term limits. Once again, this would come to pass over time as a matter of convention, not legislation. The senators would legally be appointed to age 75, but as a more democratic culture took hold, they would face pressure to step down after X number of years.
Canada is blessed with some of the last vestiges of pristine nature on Earth -- unbroken forests, coastlines and prairies, thousands of rivers, streams and lakes, open skies, abundant fresh air. We are also defined by our Constitution. Our Constitution's Charter of Rights and Freedoms gives us freedom of expression, equal protection from discrimination and the right to life, liberty and security of the person. But it doesn't mention the environment. How can we fully enjoy our freedoms without the right to live in a healthy environment?
The infamous Cold Lake oil spills, discovered on four well pads operated by Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., spilled a total of at least 1.8 million litres of oil into surrounding forest and wetlands. Several fissures in the ground seeped oil into the area for months as the company and energy regulator tried to understand the cause of the release.
Our constitutional amendment rules are so terrible, so poorly-written and caked with complex regulations designed to eliminate any hope of ever achieving any meaningful improvement to anything, we barely even know how to read some of them. And we're not talking about 18th century legalese here -- this stuff was written all of 30 years ago.
The divisive PQ secularism initiative in fact provides our national leadership with a valuable opportunity to invite Quebecers to engage with all other Canadians in a broader debate -- one that brings us together to confront the challenges of the 21st century and build a country that matches our highest aspirations for the future.
As Canada turns 146, many recent surveys show that most Canadians are hankering for a new constitution. So is Canada's Constitution a completed document? Some commentators have claimed since 1995 that Canadians are tired of constitutional talks, and while this was likely true back then there is no evidence that the fatigue continues. As Canada moves toward its 150th birthday in 2017, what more appropriate national discussion could take place than about the document that founded both our country and our governments, and about the changes Canadians want in a new constitution?
Canadians caught a glimpse of what "could be" in the 1992 Charlottetown Accord; the closest we have come to real Senate reform since Confederation.The prime minister who wrought this was Brian Mulroney. But even he was surprised. I know, because I was the one who informed him an elected Senate might just happen.
As opposed to viewing the Charter as a hindrance to its legislative agenda, the government should embrace the Charter -- as have lawyers, judges, academics, and even the majority of Canadians according to public opinion polls. We should be promoting and protecting those values the document enshrines.
Despite all the problems, it's about time Quebec signed the Constitution. Quebeckers in the early '90s were tired of the constitutional discussion, and clearly expressed their opposition to it at the ballot box. Yet two decades have passed and a new generation of leaders have entered the political discussion.
The utilitarian belief that individual rights to speak freely are somehow less important than the right of others to not be offended is ludicrous in so many ways. For the top court of the country to support it brings many questions of its legitimacy and effectiveness in protecting the fundamental freedoms that we supposedly enjoy.
Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms gives us freedom of expression, equal protection from discrimination and the right to life, liberty and security of the person. But one fundamental right is notably absent -- to live in an environment conducive to health and well-being, with clean air, water and soil and biological diversity.
I love the very philosophy that guides our society: peace, order and good government. Our constitution is wise to mention these principles as foundations of our way of life. Although the American motto of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" explicitly mentions freedom, it is in fact the Canadian incantation that provides for real liberty.
The House of Commons may have passed Bill C-11, but the constitutional concerns with the copyright bill and its digital lock rules will likely linger for years. Many experts believe that the government's decision to adopt one of the most restrictive digital lock approaches in the world. And guess what? It's vulnerable to constitutional challenge.