David Suzuki, the broadcaster and environmental activist, wants to see protection for the environment enshrined in the Canadian constitution.
There are two responses to that, practical and ethical.
On the practical side, amending the constitution has never been an easy task. Remember Meech Lake? (Kids, ask your parents and be prepared for them to immediately look tired and/or angry.) Could we get every province to accept some kind of environmental amendment to the Charter of Rights? What would that look like? Who would have the power to decide on matters of environmental protection, from the scale of oil sands development all the way down to building codes near salmon streams?
As a practical matter, it seems like an almost insurmountable obstacle.
But as a goal, is it worthwhile?
We set out rights and protections in our constitutions that we consider too important to leave to the tides of political fortune. It is all too easy to imagine a government that would wish to limit the rights to free speech to protect itself from criticism, the right to free worship to appease one religion, the right to free association to stamp out opponents.
We know that we have to protect those rights.
Do Canadians not have a right to clean air and clean water? Do we not have a right to uncontaminated soil for growing food? Do we have no right to enjoy the natural beauty of our country, including its biodiversity, from bears and elk down to insects and lichens?
If we believe that those rights should be enjoyed by all, and that they should never be taken away, then by all means, let us press for a change to the constitution.