21 Const. F. 1 (2012-2013)

handle is hein.journals/consfo21 and id is 1 raw text is: Reflections on the
Kitchen Accord'
Roy J. Romanow, PC OC QC.*
It is, indeed, an honour to be a part of the Pa-
triation Negotiations Conference, sponsored by
the Centre for Constitutional Studies, explor-
ing the method and substance of Canada's most
significant constitutional development since
Confederation.
I want to say a word about why this confer-
ence matters. Canada's search to understand its
dynamics and its values was an important step
in national self-awareness. To my mind, patria-
tion reflects both a point of constitutional ma-
turity and a point of sophisticated intergovern-
mental process.
A nation lives, in significant part, by the
ways in which it understands its constitution's
purposes and principles. We most certainly
do not make a mistake when we take time to
get beneath and beyond the constitution's par-
ticularistic and often contingent provisions,
and look for the meaning that it has for its own
political community - the sense of nation that
propels its makers into agreement. I believe
that it is by understanding the context in which
our Constitution was made that we can come
to understand how that Constitution bears on
our present context - in the place and time in
which, and at which, we now stand. When we
honour our past, we enrich our present.
So, why was this constitutional reform so
important? And, what did those who participat-
ed in the processes by which it was formed, be-
lieve to be its value to our national development?
No one should put ahead, in the ranking
of importance, the value to Canada of patria-
tion - the putting in place of a domestic con-
stitution that stood for Canada's fully realized

and formalized capacity of self-determination.
It is what sovereign nations place the greatest
stock in, and, since the 1926 Balfour Declara-
tion by Great Britain, full patriation had been
Canada's aim and its hope. This project was in-
terrupted by depression, war, social reconstruc-
tion, the demands of the modern activist state
and, finally, by the great difficulty of finding a
national consensus. In all these years, Canada
both yearned for this sign of its sovereignty and
experienced the near impossibility of obtaining
the necessary national agreement to achieve it.
At the end, we did not, in fact, find the full
national agreement that we wanted. Without
unanimity there will, forever, be an element
of failure in the history of our nation building
- a serious chink in the edifice of a self-deter-
mining nation. However, it is a chink that, in
my view, is better than the endless scenarios of
divisiveness and conflict that confronted us on
the afternoon of November 4, 1981, if no agree-
ment, whatsoever, had been reached. Total fail-
ure would have stood as Canada's deep failure
as a nation - and as its shame.
I recognize that this is a highly contentious
assessment, but I maintain that one cannot un-
derstand the dynamics of November, 1981 with-
out grasping the strength of the imperative on
Canada to find in itself the capacity to set its
own destiny.
The deals made were certainly imperfect
and the process by which they were made was
sometimes unfair. Still, the full realization of
our nationhood in the 1981-82 constitutional
reforms was an achievement whose national
value is beyond measure.

Constitutional Forum constitutionnel

1

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