Constitutions in transition
Constitutions in transition

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Constitutions in transition

4.2.2 The Canada Act 1982

So, as you saw in the previous section, in response to the initial invitation to the UK Parliament to consider a ‘patriation’ Bill, the Supreme Court of Canada was engaged to consider the issue of the manner in which the Bill was introduced. Eight of ten provinces referred the question of the constitutionality of the actions of Trudeau’s government in a case known as the Patriation Reference [1981] 1 SCR 753.

In its extensive judgment, the Supreme Court of Canada decided that there was no legal restriction on the introduction of such a Bill to the UK, but convention dictated that the federal government sought the accord of the provinces before such a Bill was introduced to the UK Parliament. As mentioned earlier, Trudeau opted, wisely, to heed the Court’s advice on convention; he was, however, not required to as the Court had no jurisdiction to consider such matters.

In 1982, after much political wrangling, the Canada Act was finally passed, conferring on Canada full power to amend the constitution.

The Canada Act 1982, principally, does four things:

  • gives Canada power to amend its own constitution
  • changes the name of the BNA 1867 to the Constitution Act 1867
  • makes several amendments and repeals to the constitution
  • provides for certain rights and freedoms.
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