The Constitution

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1. Why is it difficult for Indigenous peoples to achieve self-government in Canada?

*Answer: Discuss the Royal Proclamation Act, the Indian Act, and the concept of nation-to-nation; discuss the significance of the constitution and the Charter and their challenges toward establishing indigenous self-government, including the Charlottetown Accord; and discuss the challenges associated with federal and provincial distribution of powers in managing indigenous affairs.

2. How much influence do the courts have in deciding on constitutional affairs?

*Answer: Discuss the significance of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the role of the Supreme Court; discuss the differences between the Bill of Rights and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms; and discuss parliamentary supremacy, judicial review, Oakes Test, Reasonable Limits Clause and the Notwithstanding Clause.

3. What were some of the key obstacles that prevented the federal and provincial governments from patriating the constitution until 1982?

*Answer: Discuss the lack of a domestic amending formula, the push to entrench the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the rise of Quebec nationalism.

4. What were the primary issues at stake during the negotiations surrounding the Meech Lake and Charlottetown Accords, and how were first ministers able to achieve consensus?

*Answer: Discuss the common and different components of each accord.  Explain how various governments added different elements, and how the scope of public engagement increased over time.

5. How restrictive is the Charter of Rights and Freedoms when it comes to preventing governments from impacting Canadians’ lives?

*Answer: Discuss Section 1 of the Charter (reasonable limits clause); discuss the Notwithstanding Clause (Section 33) and the challenges associated with that clause when it comes to restricting rights; discuss the Oakes Test (a test used by the courts to assess the benefits of a law); and discuss how the above restrictions can interfere with the specific rights and freedoms outlined in the Charter.

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