Opinion

Canadian universities should mandate courses on the Canadian constitution

A course on the Canadian constitution would show students Canada is among the greatest countries in the world, and people should readily accept this statement based on this country's achievements.

Jonathan Bradley Montreal, QC
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The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, has announced it will require students to take a course on the American constitution, and Canadian universities should undertake a similar initiative.

The Citadel will require students to complete a course on the American constitution starting in the 2020-2021 academic year.

Glenn Walters, president of the Citadel, announced his decision on July 1, but he has spent the past month preparing for it to be launched.

The university is launching this course because they are concerned about young people being uninformed about the American constitution.

This comes around the same time South Carolina's state legislature has been debating the REACH Act. If passed, the REACH Act would require students in public high schools to take a course on the American constitution and mandate university courses on the subject statewide.

Canadian universities offer courses in silly topics such as fat studies and Marxism, but those about the Canadian constitution are scarce. Canadian universities should do what the Citadel is doing by mandating a course about the Canadian constitution, because it would be useful.

The course should teach students about the British North America Act, Canada’s first constitution. The BNA Act was a piece of legislation passed by the British parliament that made Canada a new self-governing federation on July 1, 1867.

Learning about the BNA Act would show students that Canada has a unique distribution of powers for each level of government. Students would learn to appreciate the delegation of powers, because it enabled provinces to experiment. They would be less inclined to support a bloated federal government that is given too much power.

This course would let students recognize the BNA Act caused Canada to mature into the well-governed country it is now. Provincial authority permitted terrible ideas to fail and great ones to be further adopted.

Another concept that should be taught is Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, an important part of the updated constitution. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms received approval with the Canada Act on April 17, 1982.

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms furthered Canada’s independence from Britain. It is important to learn about it so students understand how free Canada is.

Students who learn about this document would become aware of their rights and freedoms. They would recognize when rights and freedoms are being violated. It would prevent them from being ignorant, and they would be compelled to create change if rights and freedoms were being restricted.

A mandatory course about the Canadian constitution needs to cover the Fathers of Confederation. The course should prioritize Sir John A. Macdonald, the first prime minister of Canada, but it should not forget other Fathers of Confederation such as George Brown and Sir George-Etienne Cartier.

I find it concerning that a poll done by Ipsos Reid in 2015 found 25 that percent of Canadians did not know Macdonald was the first prime minister of Canada. Students who are taught about the Fathers of Confederation may come to view them as heroic. The Fathers of Confederation made mistakes, but students might accept that Canadian history should be learned from rather than erased.

Students would come to value Canadian history. They would realize the journey Canada has made as a country is admirable, because it has become better over time.

Certain Canadian universities in the last few years have developed a reputation for disregarding fundamental freedoms. I am troubled students are being taught to despise the fundamental freedoms Canada was founded on, as it could cause this country to break down.

A course on the Canadian constitution would show students Canada is among the greatest countries in the world, and people should readily accept this statement based on this country's achievements. Canada ranked 13th on the 2019 Human Development Index, placed ninth on the 2019 World Happiness Report, and created several prominent inventions such as the telephone, insulin, and the zipper.

I wake up every morning grateful to live in Canada. People should love Canada, and a mandatory course about the Canadian constitution would remind students that doing so would be wise.

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