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Date: October 01, 2004

How Does A People Say "Yes"

Conference on consent addresses cultural differences and legal, constitutional issues.

“I am Canadian” was a popular refrain a few years ago, but does being Canadian imply consenting to an unalienable link with beavers, beer and hockey? And does voting for the winning party in an election imply consent for all of its subsequent actions? Scholars in law, philosophy and other areas will wrestle with the cultural differences and constitutional implications of consent during the upcoming inaugural conference of the UVic-based Consortium on Democratic Constitutionalism (Demcon) from Oct. 1 to 3 at the UVic campus.
“What does it mean for a government to obtain the ‘consent of the people’ to make sweeping changes?” questions UVic law professor Jeremy Webber, chair of the conference organizing committee and a Canada Research Chair in law and society. “Who gives consent and how? Are there things that have to happen first—preconditions to consent—that are more important than the mere fact of saying yes or no?”
Several of the sessions at “Consent as the Foundation for Political Community” examine the issue of consent and treaty negotiations. UVic and visiting aboriginal and non-aboriginal scholars will discuss what it means to give consent, how one works toward consent, and how one deals with change that has occurred little by little, often without any precise moment of consent.
“There has to be a process of trust-building and mutually agreed upon norms before consent can truly be given,” says Webber, “and that requires constructive engagement over a period of time.”
Demcon, an interdisciplinary and international group of legal, political and social theorists, hopes the results of its annual conferences and research will have an impact on future national and international political decision-making. For more information about Demcon and the upcoming conference visit www.law.uvic.ca/demcon/index.htm

Media contacts:
Prof. Jeremy Webber (Law) at (250) 721-8154 or jwebber@law.uvic.ca
Patty Pitts (UVic Communications) at (250) 721-7656 or ppitts@uvic.ca

UVic media releases and other resources for journalists are available on the World Wide Web at http://communications.uvic.ca/media

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