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The Challenges and Opportunities of an
Amending Formula

Overview of Amending Formula

- The rule for changing the constitution should be flexible enough to adapt to changing needs and circumstances but stable enough to provide protection against unpredictable change.
- All changes to the amending formula now require the unanimous agreement of the province and the federal government.

The Challenges and Opportunities of an Amending Formula

To formulate an acceptable amending formula, PM Pierre Trudeau and the ten provincial premiers met in 1980 to resolve the issues. Negotiations quickly reached an impasse. The provincial premiers wanted the agreement of all ten provinces to any constitutional change. Rene Levesque, the Premiere of Quebec wanted veto power over any changes unacceptable to Quebec, but other premiers did not believe Quebec should have special status. PM Trudeau did not want amendments to depend on all ten provinces agreement, so soon the opportunity for an agreement passed.

PM Trudeau would later announce that the federal government would act alone on matters concerning the constitution. Ontario and New Brunswick were the only provinces that supported this decision.

The Federal Minister of Justice would then introduce a resolution in Parliament for a Joint Address to her majesty the Queen. The resolution asked the British Parliament to pass legislation to allow
- the constitution to be patriated or brought to Canada
- an amending formula coming into effect, as requested by the Canadian government
- the strengthening of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms

This resolution was considered by the federal government the only way to meet the challenges of constitutional change. The succession of the resolution would mean that Canada would be in control of its future and its constitution.

Copyright 1998, Phil C. & Hussein B.