Government of Canada

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The fundamental text of the Canadian Constitution was the British North America (BNA) Act, 1867, by which the Canadian federation was established, uniting what were then British colonies. The Act was a statute of the United Kingdom Parliament, and as such could only be changed in London. After Confederation Canada gradually assumed more autonomy over its own affairs until its independent status (and that of the other self-governing dominions) was recognized in the Balfour Report of 1926. Beginning in 1927, discussions were held about patriating Canada's Constitution -- transferring amending authority from the British Parliament to Canada - but governments couldn't agree on constitutional amending procedures. Consequently, when Canada officially ceased to be a British colony with passage of the Statute of Westminster in 1931, authority to amend the Constitution remained with the British Parliament. In 1949 the Canadian Parliament was given a limited amending power in areas that did not concern provincial jurisdiction. Despite many discussions and several formal conferences, agreement on a comprehensive set of amending procedures proved elusive for more than 30 years. In November 1981, after intensive negotiations at a First Ministers' conference, the federal government and all the provincial governments except the Parti Québécois government of Quebec, agreed on a package of constitutional amendments. The agreement did not alter the fundamental distribution of powers but included a comprehensive amending formula, a Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, entrenchment of the principle of equalization payments to the poorer provinces, and a strengthening of the provinces' control over natural resources. Despite support for the agreement by a large majority of Quebec representatives in the federal Parliament, the Quebec National Assembly rejected it on the grounds that the Charter limited the Assembly's legislative powers without its consent. The Quebec government objected to two clauses in the Charter: the provision for minority language education rights, which conflicted with restrictions on English schooling in the province's French language charter; and the mobility clause guaranteeing Canadians freedom to live and work anywhere in Canada, which could affect the province's ability to set labour policies favouring the employment of Quebecers. The Quebec government also objected to the amending formula, which offered financial compensation to provinces that opted out of constitutional amendments only on educational and other cultural matters. The Constitution was patriated on April 17, 1982, without the consent of the Quebec legislature, but the Supreme Court of Canada subsequently ruled that the patriation process had respected Canada's laws and conventions, and that the Constitution, including the Constitution Act, 1982, was in force throughout Canada.

From the guide to the Canada: Repatriation of the Canadian Constitution, 1980-1982, (Institute of Commonwealth Studies)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Canada: Repatriation of the Canadian Constitution, 1980-1982 Institute of Commonwealth Studies
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
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associatedWith Bennett, William Richards, b 1932 person
associatedWith British Columbia, Canada, Government corporateBody
associatedWith Buchanan, John M, b 1931 person
associatedWith Canada, Government corporateBody
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associatedWith Canadian Civil Liberties Association corporateBody
associatedWith Edmonton Chamber of Commerce corporateBody
associatedWith Government of Alberta person
associatedWith Government of British Columbia person
associatedWith Government of Manitoba person
associatedWith Government of New Brunswick person
associatedWith Government of Newfoundland person
associatedWith Government of Ontario person
associatedWith Government of Prince Edward Island person
associatedWith Government of Quebec person
associatedWith Government of Saskatchewan person
associatedWith Government of the Northwest Territories person
associatedWith Government of Yukon person
associatedWith Hatfield, Richard Bennett, fl 1970-1987 person
associatedWith Manitoba, Canada, Government corporateBody
associatedWith New Brunswick, Canada, Government corporateBody
associatedWith Newfoundland, Canada, Government corporateBody
associatedWith Northwest Territories, Canada, Government corporateBody
associatedWith Ontario, Canada, Government corporateBody
associatedWith Prince Edward Island, Canada, Government corporateBody
associatedWith Progressive Conservative Party, Canada corporateBody
associatedWith Quebec, Canada, Government corporateBody
associatedWith Saskatchewan, Canada, Government corporateBody
associatedWith Trudeau, Pierre Elliott, 1919-2000 person
associatedWith Yukon, Canada, Government corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
British Columbia
Northwest Territories
Nova Scotia
Prince Edward Island
New Brunswick
Central government


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SNAC ID: 21498620