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Halifax, Institute for Research on Public Policy, c1983.
Distributed by Institute for Research on Public Policy, Box 3670, Halifax South, NS, B3J 3K6.
399pp, 289pp, paper, $10.95.
ISBN 0-920380-73-5.

Reviewed by Robert Nicholas Bérard.

Volume 12 Number 5
1984 September

These two volumes are comprised of papers generated by the Constitutional Change Project, begun in 1978 at York University's Osgoode Hall Law School. Specialists in law and public policy from across the nation were invited to examine existing proposals for constitutional change and to suggest new directions for constitutional discussion.

Although the patriation of Canada's constitution in 1982 seems to have dampened what interest there was among the public on constitutional matters, the editors of these volumes believe that few of the most important issues facing the country were really solved by that act. Substantial lack of agreement remains over how power and responsibility should be divided between the federal and provincial governments. Quebec has not been reconciled to the constitutional settlement, the potential nature of which was cynically misrepresented by federalist forces during the 1980 referendum campaign, and which was clearly imposed upon an unhappy Quebec by its neighbours. There remains a lengthy unfinished agenda for constitutional change that will again demand public attention.

The sixteen essays examine topics as broad and diverse as the administration of justice, the role of the Supreme Court of Canada, the rights of linguistic minorities, aboriginal peoples, and citizens at large, the control over natural resources and environmental protection, income distribution among provinces and regions and the provision of social services, and Canada's external relations. The Constitutional Change Project posited four major constitutional options: some realignment of existing federal-provincial relationships, asymmetrical federalism or special status for one or more provinces or regions, a sovereign Quebec, and Quebec sovereignty in association with Canada. Each of the essays attempts to address these possibilities.

While there is little doubt that the authors are not sympathetic to the options for Quebec sovereignty, the issues are discussed in a reasoned manner, free of the emotional predictions of either glorious achievements or catastrophic collapse that so marred the political debate on the constitution. Particularly impressive were Denis Stairs's essay on foreign policy, in which it was argued that constraints on Canada's external relations would continue to apply without regard to the shape of the nation's internal organization, and Nicole Duple" s careful study of Article 96 of the British North America Act, which provides for a federal presence in provincial courts. Professor Donald Smiley examines Canada's interesting, if problematic, historical alternative to traditional inter-governmental federal relations, the notion of intrastate federalism, in which the nation's regional character is thought to be best reflected in its central institutions, such as the cabinet, civil service, and Supreme Court. The whole collection is a solid, if unexciting, contribution to a subject whose whole collection is a solid, if unexciting, contribution to a subject whose time is past but is soon to come again.

Robert Nicholas Berard, Dept. of Education, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS.
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