Citizen’s Discussion Around The Constitution “Let’s Invent Our Social Contract Together”

The 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation has prompted a national dialogue on the nature of our country, its history, and the promise and challenges of the future. The College of the Royal Society of Canada will host a series of events all across Canada, from Halifax to Vancouver to discuss Canada’s Constitution and its relevance to the key issues of our country in 2017. Influenced by George Elliott Clarke, the Parliamentary Poet Laureate, this event will focus on “re-imagining the Constitution”, and reflect on the future of the Constitution of Canada.

As part of this event, the College organizes in Montreal a gathering under the theme “Inventing together our social contract: reimagining the Constitution beyond the people”. Young Montrealers are invited to reflect about the role Montreal and the province of Quebec are prompted to play in Canada in the next 150 years. They will discuss and submit clauses to be added to a “new version” of the Constitution, one that takes into account the perspectives of the current and future generations.

Participants will form seven panels, each discussing a particular challenge the Constitution faces today. Is it possible to imagine a constitution that could narrow the wealth gap between rich and poor? Following the example of Bolivia, could we confer fundamental rights to the Earth? How can the Constitution tackle discrimination against women, Indigenous people and other minorities? Members of the College of New Scholars will lead the panels. The purpose of this event is for Canadian youth to engage with the Constitution and its role in addressing the challenges of the 21st century.

On this occasion, Professor Pascale Fournier, and Professor Jean Leclair from Université de Montréal’s Faculty of law, are invited to provide opening remarks to present and contextualize the Canadian Constitution. Pursuant to her expertise, Professor Fournier will examine the relation between the Constitution, and more precisely the Canadian Charter of rights and freedoms, and religious and cultural minorities in Canada. Professor Leclair will address the evolution of the Constitution, and the way social and political movements and claims influence how we should interpret the Constitution’s text. This opening conference will set the table for the panel discussions bearing on the Constitution and its future as imagined by our youth.

This event will take place on October 28, 2017, from 16h to 18h at Écomusée du fier monde, a former public bathhouse converted into a museum dedicated to Montreal working-class and industrial history.

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