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Constitutional Forum. Volume 13, Number 1 (2003), p. 16-24.


Viewer discretion is advised. I am going to offer you a perspective on the constitution which is stranger even than the Trudeau vision which twenty years ago sparked his epic battles with Merv Leitch and Peter Lougheed over the National Energy Policy, the Charter, and repatriation of the Constitution. And worse yet, though I worry about the Constitution, I do not know much about it; I do not often write about it, and as I will demonstrate in a moment, I am not even sure what it is. I did, however, read something recently in a book on modern European history which seemed to capture my own sentiments almost exactly — an observation attributed to a peasant in Salonika, then under Turkish rule, in 1908: “Constitution is such a wonderful thing,” said this peasant, “that he who does not know what it is, is a donkey.” I identify with the donkey, not the peasant.

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