Treatises Proposing A Convention Agenda

2022 Pamphlet Arguing for an Alaskan Constitutional Convention

Canning, Don, If Not Now, When? Only a constitutional convention gives the people the tools to make real change, The Alaska State Constitutional Convention Clearinghouse, October 21 2022, 45 pages.

Pamphlet Summary: Don Canning argues that only a constitutional convention gives the people the tools to make real change. He focuses on structural change to Alaska’s state government rather than hot-button policy-like or political rights changes.

J.H. Snider Comment: The pamphlet format used here has a special place in American history, as it was the format used during America’s Revolutionary Era by citizens unhappy with British rule and seeking to replace rule by monarchy with rule by the people. Don Canning has written this pamphlet in the spirit of those forbears. To me, it has the ring of Tom Paine’s Common Sense, originally a 47-page pamphlet written in 1776, which helped inspire not only American independence but a wave of state constitutional conventions as the colonists tried to turn their colonial governments into independent states ruled by the people, not the British Crown.




2012 Book Arguing for an Alaskan Constitutional Convention

Havelock, John, Let’s Get it Right: Why We Need an Alaska Constitutional Convention, Alaska Legal Publishing Company, 2012.

Book Summary: An Alaska Consitutional Convention? Improvements are essential to make Alaska government work. A convention can do what the legislature cannot or will not. The Right fears a Left take over; the Left fears the same from the Right. Havelock, a former Attorney General and Director of Legal Studies for the University believes: the Center will hold.

J.H. Snider Comment: The book is written by an authority on both the law and Alaska. But for a book arguing for a constitutional convention, the author knows remarkably little about the history, democratic function, and politics of this institution. The book’s lasting influence will not be scholarly. Instead, it may be practical, which was its intent. Of special political importance may be its linking of a proposed state constitutional convention with the future of the Permanent Fund Dividend, an explosive issue in the Alaska legislature where the legislature’s interest and public opinion may conflict, thus potentially creating a politically salient reason for Alaskans to call a constitutional convention.