Glendon conference to explore past, present and future of Canada’s Constitution

The Glendon School of Public & International Affairs is hosting a free public conference on the past, present and future state of the Canadian constitution, Sept. 29 and 30 at York University’s Glendon campus.

The Canada’s Constitutional & Governance Challenges After 150 Years conference has been organized in recognition of the 150th anniversary of Canada and will take place in The Centre of Excellence in Room A100.

Participants will hear from Canada’s leading thinkers on the Constitution and will have an opportunity to examine the development of the constitution in a changing Canadian Society and economy and the unique challenges to the nation presented by new information technology, global mobility and the urgent need to respond to global warming.

Jean-Marc Fournier

Jean-Marc Fournier, MNA for Saint-Laurent and the Ministre responsable des Relations canadiennes et de la Francophonie canadienne; Louis LeBel, retired justice of the Supreme Court of Canada; and Peter Russell, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Toronto will deliver the keynote speeches.

The conference proceedings will identify challenges facing Canada’s public government and suggest improvements within the organic life of the constitution that will enhance national capacity, confirm national self-determination and renew national commitment to stability, justice, respect and inclusion.

Louis Lebel

Organized around three key themes, the conference will explore Foundational Values & Constitutional Rights, Democratic Governance and Democratic Processes.

Under the theme of Foundational Values & Constitutional Rights, the conference sessions will identify and assess Canada’s constitutional values from both an historical perspective and the perspective of adaptation and reformation. Key questions that will be explored are: Which foundational values do Canadian governments need to be governed by in order to sustain confidence in the nation’s future and in its justice and stability? How can changing conditions and changing conceptions of national values be accommodated within the constitutional regime?

Peter Russell

In the second theme of Democratic Governance, sessions will identify and assess Canada’s constitutional values from both an historical perspective and the perspective of adaptation and reformation. Questions to be discussed are: Which foundational values do Canadian governments need to be governed by in order to sustain confidence in the nation’s future and in its justice and stability? How can changing conditions and changing conceptions of national values be accommodated within the constitutional regime?

Under the third theme of Democratic Processes, sessions will explore the conditions and processes that enable rigorous, intelligent, innovative, effective and socially responsive public policy to emerge without abdication of democratic governance to a specialist and expert community. They will also explore the role of civic society in shaping the national sense of policy needs and in raising critical perspectives on governments’ policy initiatives.

Each panel will include historical perspective and explore the links between the past, the present and the emerging state environment.

Panel discussions:

  • Foundational Values, moderated by Lorne Sossin, dean, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University
  • Indigenous communities, moderated by Willem Maas, professor, Glendon Campus, York University
  • Institutions, moderated by John Whyte, professor, University of Regina
  • Accountability, moderated by Lisa Philipps, interim vice-president academic & provost, York University
  • Federalism, moderated by Francis Garon, professor, Glendon Campus, York University
  • Elections, moderated by Gregory Tardi, executive director, Institute of Parliamentary and Political Law

Conference participants include scholars, practitioners, civil society representatives and students. All will engage in assessing the challenges facing the nation and will be tasked to suggest changes in processes, structures and foundational commitments that will improve Canada’s ability to continue as a successful nation and a good state.

For more information, visit the Canada’s Constitutional & Governance Challenges After 150 Years conference website.

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