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Canada Act 1982
The Canada Act 1982 is an Act of Parliament passed by the British Parliament that severed virtually all remaining constitutional and legislative ties between the United Kingdom and Canada. It contains the text of the Constitution Act, 1982 of Canada in Schedule B.
Canada's road to political self government came with the British North America Act 1867 (called in Canada the "Constitution Act, 1867"). This act created the modern state of Canada by combining the Province of Canada (now Ontario and Quebec), Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick into a dominion within the British Empire. From this Canada adopted a Westminster style government with a Parliament. A Governor General fulfilled the constitutional duties of the British Sovereign on Canadian soil.
Despite this, the United Kingdom still had the power to legislate for Canada. The Statute of Westminster 1931 removed this power of the British Parliament for Canada, as well as the other British Dominions (Australia, the Irish Free State, New Zealand, South Africa, and Newfoundland). Also, the British North America Act 1949 was passed by the British parliament, giving the Canadian Parliament significant constitutional amending powers. However, an Act of the British Parliament was still required to make some amendments in the Canadian constitution. This delay in repatriating the Canadian constitution was due in large part to the lack of agreement over a mechanism for amending the constitution that would be acceptable to all of the provinces, particularly Quebec.
Enactment of the Act
The Canada Act was the last request of the Canadian government to amend the country's constitution. Pierre Trudeau had hoped originally that the federal Parliament could unilaterally change the constitution, but the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in the Patriation Reference that a substantial level of consent from the provinces was needed according to constitutional conventions (though not in law). Trudeau succeeded in convincing nine provinces out of ten by adding the Notwithstanding Clause to limit the application of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, an integral part of the act. Thus, even though Quebec refused to ratify the constitution, it was imposed in respect of conventions through the Canada Act, 1982, according to the Quebec Veto Reference . Subsequently, further constitutional amendments intended to allow Quebec to accept officially the new constitution were proposed, but all negotiations failed (see Meech Lake Accord and Charlottetown Accord). Through section 2 of the Canada Act 1982, the United Kingdom revoked its claim to the right to issue further amendments to the Canadian constitution.
The Canada Act 1982 was signed into law by Her Majesty Elizabeth II Queen of Canada on a rainy April 17, 1982 on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Queen Elizabeth remains Queen and Head of State of Canada to this day. Her constitutional powers over Canada were not affected by the Act, which some critics say still gives Britain some political power, however superficial or unused, over the government of Canada. However, most agree that beyond membership in the Commonwealth of Nations Canada has full sovereignty over its realm and the Queen's role is separate of her role as the British monarch.
Proclamation by the Queen of Canada
Whilst the Canada Act 1982 received the Royal Assent on March 29, 1982 in London, it was not until the Queen came to Canada that the Constitution Act, 1982, its Canadian equivalent, was proclaimed by Letters patent as a statutory instrument by the Queen on her visit to Canada.
- PROCLAMATION of April 17, 1982,
- proclaiming in force the CONSTITUTION ACT, 1982 (SI/82-97)
- JEAN CHRÉTIEN
- Attorney General of Canada
- ELIZABETH THE SECOND, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom, Canada and Her other Realms and Territories QUEEN, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.
- To All to Whom these Presents shall come or whom the same may in anyway concern, Greeting:
- A Proclamation
- Whereas in the past certain amendments to the Constitution of Canada have been made by the Parliament of the United Kingdom at the request and with the consent of Canada;
- And Whereas it is in accord with the status of Canada as an independent state that Canadians be able to amend their Constitution in Canada in all respects;
- And Whereas it is desirable to provide in the Constitution of Canada for the recognition of certain fundamental rights and freedoms and to make other amendments to the Constitution;
- And Whereas the Parliament of the United Kingdom has, at the request and with the consent of Canada, enacted the Canada Act, which provides for the patriation and amendment of the Constitution of Canada;
- And Whereas section 58 of the Constitution Act, 1982, set out in Schedule B to the Canada Act, provides that the Constitution Act, 1982 shall, subject to section 59 thereof, come into force on a day to be fixed by proclamation issued under the Great Seal of Canada.
- Now Know You that We, by and with the advice Our Privy Council for Canada, do by this Our Proclamation, declare that the Constitution Act, 1982 shall, subject to section 59 thereof, come into force on the seventeenth day of April in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Nine Hundred and Eighty-two.
- Of All Which Our Loving Subjects and all other whom these Presents may concern are hereby required to take notice and to govern themselves accordingly.
- In Testimony Whereof We have caused these Our Letters to be made Patent and the Great Seal of Canada to be hereunto affixed.
- At Our City of Ottawa, this seventeenth day of April in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Nine Hundred and Eighty-two and in the Thirty-first Year of Our Reign. By Her Majesty's Command
- ANDRÉ OUELLET
- Registrar General of Canada
- PIERRE TRUDEAU
- Prime Minister of Canada
- GOD SAVE THE QUEEN
An Act to give effect to a request by the Senate and House of Commons of Canada
Whereas Canada has requested and consented to the enactment of an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom to give effect to the provisions hereinafter set forth and the Senate and the House of Commons of Canada in Parliament assembled have submitted an address to Her Majesty requesting that Her Majesty may graciously be pleased to cause a Bill to be laid before the Parliament of the United Kingdom for that Purpose.
Be it therefore enacted by the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
1. The Constitution Act, 1982 set out in schedule B to this Act is hereby enacted for and shall have the force of law in Canada and shall come unto force as provided in that Act.
2. No Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed after the Constitution Act, 1982 comes into force shall extend to Canada as part of its law.
3. So far as it is not contained in Schedule B, the French version of this Act is set out in Schedule A to this Act and has the same authority in Canada as the English version thereof.
4. This Act may be cited as the Canada Act 1982.
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