CBC Digital Archives CBC butterfly logo

CBC Archives has a new look: Please go to cbc.ca/archives to access the new site.

The page you are looking at will not be updated.

Lesson Plan:


For Teachers: Debating Patriation’s Impact

Type: Assignment
Subjects: History, Social Studies, Political Science
Grades: Grades 11-12
Duration: 2 to 3 lessons
Purpose: To analyze the impact of the Constitution and Charter of Rights on Canadian society and government
Summary: Students will debate whether the patriation of the Constitution and the enactment of the Charter of Rights have improved Canadian society and achieved the goals of those who supported the processes.

Before Exploring

Brainstorm with students specific examples of court cases, political developments, etc., that demonstrate how the Constitution and the Charter have affected Canadian government and society over the last 20 years. Ask: Has the Constitution made Canada a better country? Why or why not?

Outline the Opportunity

Direct students to the topic Charting the Future: Canada's New Constitution on the CBC Digital Archives website. Students will browse the topic and note what the proponents of patriation viewed as the main goals, objectives, and benefits of this process. Students should review the clip titled "The Constitution and Charter re-evaluated", which re-evaluates the Constitution and the Charter and how they have affected Canadian government, law, and society. Students should also note any remaining "unfinished business" of constitutional reform that neither the Meech Lake (1987-'90) nor the Charlottetown accords (1992) was able to resolve, and why.

Organize a debate on the question of whether the patriation of the constitution and the enactment of the Charter of Rights have improved Canadian society and government and achieved the goals of those who supported the processes. Teams should support their arguments with specific examples and clearly explain each example.

Revisit and Reflect

After the debate, list specific examples of the changes in Canadian society that the patriation of the Constitution with the Charter of Rights brought about. Hold an in-class vote on the following question: Have the changes that the Constitution and the Charter introduced into Canada been positive or negative?

Extension

Students can prepare a brief written or oral summary of an important legal case in which the Charter affected the Supreme Court's decision, such as the Vriend or Morgentaler cases. Students should include a response to the following statement by political scientist Alan Cairns in their report:

"[The Charter] has transformed the psyche of Canadians. This document is not just an external arrangement of rules by which we live, this is an attempt to transform who we are and who we actually feel and think we are. On the whole I think it has had that effect."

Download PDF