Strong Sustainable Communities

Create an uncodified Ontario Constitution

The Constitution Act, 1996 is a provincial Act passed by the British Columbia legislature. The Act outlines the powers and rules governing the executive and legislative branches of the provincial government of British Columbia.

 

Unlike the Constitution of Canada, the British Columbia Constitution is a regular Act of the legislature and can be amended by a normal majority vote.

 

British Columbia is the only province of Canada to have such an act.

 

I believe that Ontario should likewise create a similar uncodified provincial constitution which will clearly define the structure, rights, obligations, and limitations of the provincial and municipal governments in this province. An Ontario Constitution could also expand upon the rights afforded by the Canadian Constitution to include things such as property rights as well as an Ontario Bill of Rights

- which would greatly expand upon the federal Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

 

While the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms has enjoyed a great deal of popularity, the document has also been subject to published criticisms from both sides of the political spectrum. One left-wing critic is Professor Michael Mandel, who wrote that in comparison to politicians, judges do not have to be as sensitive to the will of the electorate, nor do they have to make sure their decisions are easily understandable to the average Canadian citizen. This, in Mandel's view, limits democracy. Mandel has also asserted that the Charter makes Canada more like the United States, especially by serving corporate rights and individual rights rather than group rights and social rights. He has argued that there are several things that should be included in the Charter, such as a right to health care and a basic right to free education. Hence, the perceived Americanization of Canadian politics is seen as coming at the expense of values more important for Canadians. The union movement has been disappointed in the reluctance of the courts to use the Charter to support various forms of union activity, such as the "right to strike".

 

Right-wing critics Morton and Knopff have raised several concerns about the Charter, notably by alleging that the federal government has used it to limit provincial powers by allying with various rights claimants and interest groups. In their book The Charter Revolution & the Court Party, Morton and Knopff express their suspicions of this alliance in detail, accusing the Trudeau and Chr├ętien governments of funding litigious groups. For example, these governments used the Court Challenges Program to support minority language educational rights claims.

 

I believe that an uncodified Ontario Constitution could placate both right-wing and left-right critics of the Charter, by better and more specifically defining Ontarians' legal and constitutional rights and obligations.

 

The Charter, written in 1982, also leaves out any specific mention of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression - while mentioning gender, race, skin colour, ethnicity, religion, national origin, and disability. An Ontario Constitution would be a modern day update to these things.

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Idea No. 496