Most democratic nations have Newspaper columnists that become nationally known and read by large sections of the population. We have our share in Canada. Many of them reside in Ontario because the Capital, Ottawa, is there or in Toronto , the largest city. And the two ‘ National ‘ Newspapers are headquartered there: The National Post and the The Globe and Mail .
One such columnist is Andrew Coyne. He presently works for the National Post . He has worked for many other news outlets including the Globe and Mail and Macleans magazine, the only national newsmagazine in the country.
These columnists , because they live and work in Central Canada, often express views that have a centrist bias , and often a Federal bias.
In the early 1980’s the Country became engaged in Constitutional talks that after many months involving eleven Governments resulted in major changes and additions to the Constitution Act of 1867 , resulting in The Constitution Act 1982. I was one of the participants . There were many new provisions . One provision was what is called a Notwithstanding clause. One Province , Saskatchewan , has decided to use this Provision . Mr. Coyne objects and in a recent column expresses his view . Sadly , in so doing , he denigrates the 1982 process, invoking the myth by many of his ilk, that the process was a few crazy hours one night.
I have sent the National Post the following letter:
‘In your paper today , Andrew Coyne takes on the Notwithstanding Clause of the Constitution. His silly arguments and discussion disguise the actual months and months of talks among the eleven governments.
Describing the 1982 Constitution ‘ as a grubby late night deal’ is a myth perpetrated by people who were not a part of the many months of talks. Mr. Coyne conveniently forgets that Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau attempted a unilateral action to change our constitution without the requisite involvement of the Provinces . The Supreme Court of Canada rejected this action. The PM was then forced back to the negotiating table and many months of talks. That’s a far cry from a ‘ grubby late night deal.’ Mr. Coyne needs to read my book of 2012 ‘ Some Day the Sun Will Shine and Have Not Will Be No More ‘ in which there is information detailed on the Constitution talks by someone who was there.
Mr. Coyne’ s reference to a referendum on the Charter also disguises the fact that it would have been impossible to gain support for such a proposition . In any case , believing that a referendum on just the Charter was any kind of viable proposition at the time also disguises the fact that the other changes made at the time to the Constitution would have had to be included.
But the talk of a referendum on the Constitution at all was a non starter at the time. Most of us did not ascribe to a referendum process as a means to amending our constitution. Given that I am only one of two of the so called ‘gang of eight’ that is still around , I must insist on the record being corrected.
Hon . A. Brian Peckford P. C. ‘