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Conservatives won't hold formal event to mark Constitution's 30th birthday

The Queen signs Canada's constitutional proclamation in Ottawa on April 17, 1982 as Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau looks on.

RON POLING/Ron Poling/The Canadian Press

The Harper government says it will mark the 30th anniversary of the patriation of the Constitution – by issuing a couple of news releases.

Heritage Minister James Moore said Thursday he will commemorate the Constitution's birthday next week by releasing a statement. Mr. Moore said the Justice Department, which is in charge of the tribute, will do the same.

"We will mark it," Mr. Moore said after making a funding announcement in Montreal.

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The government's recognition of the anniversary, however, doesn't include plans to hold a formal event, the Prime Minister's Office said Thursday.

The Tory approach differs greatly from Liberal Party plans to celebrate with a rally in Toronto that will feature former prime minister Jean Chrétien.

The Constitution was patriated on April 17, 1982 following a long campaign by then-Liberal prime minister Pierre Trudeau. It is the backbone of Canada's governing system and its framework for legal rights.

The Conservatives have recently made big investments to commemorate other anniversaries of historical significance, including the bicentennial of the War of 1812.

The bicentennial is seen as the start of a five-year run to Canada's 150th birthday in 2017. The Queen's Diamond Jubilee, the 60th anniversary of her reign, will also be celebrated this year.

The Harper government has placed emphasis on Canadian heritage symbols, such as the monarchy, the North and the military.

Mr. Moore was asked Thursday where he thinks the Constitution ranks in terms of importance compared to the War of 1812.

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"[They're]all important in their own ways," he said. "Look, I'm someone who certainly believes in the Charter and the idea of having a Constitution that protects the citizen from the state.

"I mean, I'm conservative, I believe in that construct and that concept and I think it's a fine one, and we'll be outlining that in a statement that will be released in and about that date."

Mr. Moore also noted that his upcoming statement will follow a recent House of Commons acknowledgment of the Constitution's importance by Conservative MP Michael Chong.

A spokeswoman for Justice Minister Rob Nicholson did not immediately respond Thursday to requests for information.

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