As the Métis Nation continues to make gains on its self-government agenda, there is an increasing need to strengthen our national government. Métis citizens, communities, leadership, and assemblies have consistently urged for the development of a stronger national government structure which meets the unique needs of the Métis Nation. As well, increasingly over the past few years, the limitations of the Métis National Council’s current corporate structure have frustrated the Métis Nation in acting and operating as an Aboriginal government. Based on all of these factors, the Métis National Council is moving forward on developing a Métis Nation Constitution.
What is a Constitution?
Constitutions have been described as “a mirror reflecting the national soul” because they recognize and protect the values of a nation (Cheffins & Tucker, The Constitutional Process in Canada). Some Constitutions assert and protect the cultural, linguistic and regional diversity of the nation in question. Others provide fundamental protections to civil liberties and rights. But ultimately, a constitution can be defined as the supreme law of a nation.
From a legal perspective, constitutional law is the law prescribing the exercise of power by the official bodies of a nation state. A Constitution explains which organs can exercise legislative power (making new laws), executive power (implementing the laws) and judicial power (adjudicating disputes), and what the limitations on those powers are (Peter Hogg, Constitutional Law). In a federal state, such as Canada, the allocation of governmental powers between federal and provincial authorities (also known as jurisdiction or responsibility) is also a subject matter within a Constitution.