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To Match a Dream: A Practical Guide to Canada's Constitution

"It’s tough to build a country to match a dream." — Pierre Elliott Trudeau
For some two hundred years, we have been debating constitutional questions. What powers belong properly with the federal government and which with the provinces? Is Quebec a distinct society and what, in legal terms, does that mean? In areas of joint jurisdiction, do federal powers take precedence over provincial, or the other way round? Do we have to care?
To Match a Dream
There’s not much doubt that Canadians do care. Outpourings of passion and rage were very much in evidence during the constitutional debates of the Mulroney era. But even as we put behind us these much-disputed public initiatives, especially Meech Lake and the Charlottetown Accord, it seems that the terms of these agreements may be conceded by the back door, through the mechanism of bilateral agreements and federal-provincial meetings. Coyne and Valpy argue that the consequences of such concessions do matter. We cannot afford to have taken away from us surreptitiously the victories that were won by democratic means.
In To Match a Dream, Deborah Coyne and Michael Valpy provide the background Canadians need in order to make sense of the arguments for and against the continuing devolution of powers to the provinces. In pithy, pointed language, they describe the development of Canada’s constitution, while, in effect, writing a fascinating, easy-to-digest thumbnail history of the country. In the process, they expose many of the myths that have been fostered by Quebec’s nationalist elite — the notion, for example, that Quebec has been the victim of a series of humiliations at the hands of Anglo oppressors. And they make the case for a reinvigorated central government, one that would act to preserve equity, accountability and a sense of purpose in every part of the country.
Written by Deborah Coyne and Michael Valpy. Published by McClelland & Stewart, 1998.
0-7710-2277-8 $19.99
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Last modified: March 16, 2000

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