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Meech Lake Accord, Constitution Acts of 1867 and 1982, Federalism, Constitutional Amendment, Constitutional Revision


Since the failure to ratify the Meech Lake Accord in June 1990, the constitutional future of Canada has been the topic of increasingly urgent debate. So far, a consensus has emerged on two things. First, federalism as it is enshrined in the Constitution Acts of 1867 and 1982 no longer meets the needs and aspirations of the majority. Second, the means used in the past to achieve major constitutional revision are no longer acceptable to the majority of Canadians. Put simply, constitutional revision is essential if Canada is to survive and the means of achieving this revision must be more open and more consultative in nature than in the past.

We have not yet reached a consensus on issues of constitutional substance or form, including the form public input should take in the future. But one thing is clear: if an agreement is reached on changes to the Constitution, the issues of how these changes can be achieved under the existing amending process and how future amendments can be accomplished will have to be addressed. Attention will also have to be given to the formal amending procedure involving the rules for ratification and the informal procedure involving how proposals for amendment are formulated and initiated. To that end, the federal and provincial governments have been studying these various aspects of the amending process from initiation to ratification, past, present, and future. This report contributes to that undertaking.