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Christopher Dummitt: What’s so evil about the Notwithstanding Clause?
The Churchill Society

Christopher Dummitt: What’s so evil about the Notwithstanding Clause?

The Notwithstanding Clause is perhaps the most obscure part of Canada’s constitutional history that everyone loves to hate.  Ever since 1982 critics have attacked Section 33 as an unfortunate compromise that negates the Charter’s great promise of human rights.  When the Quebec government invoked Section 33 to allow them to pass otherwise unconstitutional language laws, many in the rest of Canada were irate.  Ever since, each time a government invokes or threatens to invoke the Notwithstanding Clause, the same criticisms re-emerge.  In this talk historian Christopher Dummitt explains the origins of the clause, including how pivotal it was to ensuring repatriation, and places it within the long and vital history of responsible and parliamentary government in Canada. Christopher Dummitt is Professor of Canadian history at Trent University and host of the podcast 1867 & All That. His book Unbuttoned: A History of Mackenzie King’s Secret Life was shortlisted for several major awards including the best book on Canadian politics from the Writers Trust in 2017.  He writes on history, politics and culture in venues like the Literary Review of Canada, the National Post, The Hub, and Quillette. He is currently conducting research on the state of academic freedom and viewpoint diversity in Canada and researching a book on the final decade of the life of former prime minister Mackenzie King. The Churchill Society for the Advancement of Parliamentary Democracy is a non-partisan, charitable organization that honours the life of Sir Winston Churchill by facilitating education, discussion and debate about Canada’s parliamentary democracy.  The Yorkminster Park Speakers Series offers continuing education lectures by outstanding speakers on topics of general interest.
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