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Federal Liberals want “a debate” on the notwithstanding clause

Photo: Sean Kilpatrick La Presse canadienne Selon Pablo Rodriguez, plusieurs députés libéraux fédéraux voient d’un bon oeil l’idée de modifier la Constitution canadienne pour baliser la disposition de dérogation.

Justin Trudeau's Quebec lieutenant says his troops welcome the idea of ​​modifying the Canadian Constitution to guide the use of the notwithstanding provision. “There are many members of the caucus who share this point of view, like many Canadians,” said Pablo Rodriguez on Wednesday morning.

He was commenting on the remarks of the former Minister of Justice David Lametti, who had said in his farewell speech to Parliament the day before that a constitutional change would be “necessary” to prevent the use prevention of the notwithstanding provision of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The former law professor at McGill University, who was excluded from Trudeau's cabinet in the summer, had mentioned the constitutional question in a passage where he asked not to make Anglo-Quebecers scapegoats for the defense of the French. The Quebec government precisely used the override provision to protect its Act respecting the official and common language of Quebec, French (nicknamed “Bill 96”) from legal challenges.

The Premier of Ontario, Doug Ford, has also used this provision recently, notably in 2022 to prevent the judicial blocking of a special law forcing the return to work of the province's teachers.

“This is a debate that must take place: is it possible to use this clause at the beginning [of the legislative process] rather than at the end [after a decision of the court], as was intended by those who created it ?” said Pablo Rodriguez, also Federal Minister of Transport. However, he clarified that federal government ministers “do not spend [their] meetings on this”.

Several members of the Liberal caucus refused Wednesday to comment on their former colleague Lametti's suggestion, relaying the question to his replacement at Justice, Arif Virani. The latter's office instead referred the question to that of the Prime Minister since it is a constitutional question.

The Constitution, a Pandora's box ?

«If we open the Constitution, we will have fun “, declared the leader of the Bloc Québécois, Yves-François Blanchet. Because reopening the Constitution would, according to him, generate a much broader debate than just recourse to the notwithstanding provision of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a fact which annoys the Liberals.

Many other articles of the supreme law of Canada would then have to be reconsidered. “There will be quite a few subjects [to change], including, moreover, the monarchy and the oath [to the king], which could be in the same boat,” he mentioned as examples.

The New Democratic Party, for its part, has no appetite for such constitutional mixing, according to its Quebec MP, Alexandre Boulerice. “For the moment, we trust the current justice system, […] it’s a very complex issue. »

At the very end of the day, the office of the Prime Minister of Canada responded to: Devoir having nothing to add to Minister Rodriguez's explanations .

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116