'Unity Think-Tank' lets people air views on constitutional fray
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For people fed up with politicians wheeling and dealing with the country's future, one group at yesterday's Canada Day festivities had just the solution.
About 25 volunteers staffed a special "Unity Think-Tank" featuring booths and displays at Dorchester Square yesterday, across from where parade festivities were winding up.
"People are frustrated," said Philip McMaster, who started organizing the event three weeks ago.
"They write letters to their members of Parliament and nothing happens."
"That's why we set this thing up. It was done with Scotch tape and bailing wire."
"That's what's fun about this. It's real people with real ideas. They're not perfect,- they may not be politically correct but we want them to get involved."
McMaster's group held a series of meetings in which people were invited to set up booths promoting their ideas on how to improve national unity.
John Kirkpatrick, a volunteer, promoted a system where a lottery would choose ordinary Canadians who would get to revamp the country's constitution.
The benefit of such a system, he said, is that the people involved would have a willingness to participate because they - would enter their names in the lottery.
Also, it would build a constitution by consensus rather than confrontation, Kirkpatrick said.
At another booth, Trudy McMartin of the Toronto-based Proud to be a Canadian Committee was busy pushing the idea of creating pledges to Canada for children to use in school.
Participation forms will be passed out to about 7.000 schools, where students will be asked to devise a pledge of their own. They will be submitted to the committee, which will try to have the best ones implemented into the curriculums of schools across Canada.
"Schools are prohibiting this type of thing these days, so we're trying to put something back," she said.
Nearby, the national women's group It's Our Country, Let's Talk was busy handing out information brochures on its program.
Since the pro-unity group was launched in Montreal last year, more than 1,000 Quebecers have signed up, member Ines Herten-Greaven said.
"The idea is to bypass the politicians and the press and to get women involved with Canada," she said.
"Everybody's really fed up. Nobody knows what is happening."