Canada’s Constitution Act (Great Events from History: North American Series)
Article abstract: Canada assumes control over its own constitution, ushering in an era of intense debate over the division of powers between the federal and provincial governments and a confrontation between advocates of Quebec’s sovereignty and Canadian nationalists.
Summary of Event
In 1841, English-speaking Upper Canada and French-speaking Lower Canada were joined in a political union, but by the 1860’s, these two culturally distinct groups encountered difficulties in cooperation. A new constitution, the British North America Act of 1867, brought together French-speaking Quebec and English-speaking Ontario, along with the previously self-governing British colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, into a confederation called Canada. This confederation established a decentralized political system, with much of the power retained by the individual provinces.
Following World War II, Canada emerged on the world scene as a significant international power, but its constitution, the basic set of laws by which it was governed, was still in the hands of Great Britain. The patriation of the constitution—that is, Canada’s assuming full control over its content and amendment—became a national issue.
Quebec’s Liberal premier, Jean Lesage, proposed discussions on patriation and an amending formula at a federal-provincial conference held in Ottawa in July, 1960. Lesage...
(The entire section is 1456 words.)
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