Lesson Plan: For Teachers: The Importance of a Constitution
Ask: How effective is television in communicating information about important political issues? Do you ever watch political news programs? How could political news programs or talk shows be made more effective and informative to the public? Record student responses for later reference.
Outline the Opportunity
Direct students to the topic Charting the Future: Canada's New Constitution on the CBC Digital Archives website. Working in small groups, students will browse the topic to find out why the patriation of the Constitution was such an important step in Canada's progress toward full independence and sovereignty. Groups should use the following questions (also available on the download sheet The Importance of a Constitution) to focus their inquiry:
How long did the patriation of the Constitution take?
What obstacles were there to patriation?
What caused the disagreements on
constitutional issues from 1968 to 1982
between the federal and provincial governments?
How did the Quebec referendum of 1980 affect patriation?
What is the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?
Why is the Charter an important part of the Constitution?
Why is April 17, 1982, an important date in Canadian history?
Why did Quebec refuse to sign the Constitution?
How can the Canadian constitution be amended (changed)?
Why do most Canadians today think
the Constitution and
Charter of Rights are good for the country?
Using the information they have gathered, groups will create a script for a political talk show about the Constitution. Students should use their ideas from Before Exploring to make their talk show informative and effective.
Revisit and Reflect
Invite groups to present their talk show. Discuss the importance of the Constitution and the Charter and how effective students felt each political broadcast was in conveying that importance.
Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and Queen Elizabeth II made the following statements on the occasion of the signing of the constitution on April 17, 1982. Write the statements on the board. Students can respond orally or in their journals.
"The constitution of Canada has
finally come home."
"Today I have proclaimed this new
constitution, one that is truly Canadian at last. There could be no better
moment for me as Queen of Canada to declare again my unbounded confidence in
the future of this wonderful country."
-Queen Elizabeth II