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Lecture 3

PSCI 2003 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: John Locke, Long Knives, Patriation

Political Science
Course Code
PSCI 2003
J Malloy

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The Constitutional Odyssey:
The search for Canada to rewrite its Constitution
The underlying rules of a political system
The United States has a defined, written constitution
The United Kingdom on the other hand, has no single written constitutional document
Theirs is totally unwritten
Canada, has a few written constitutional documents, but also a few unwritten
Canada is considered "party written"
Approaches to making a constitution:
Burke = Gradual and evolutionary, is flexible and reflects the views of a changing society
Locke = Fixed, a written agreement contract, very solid
Canada is a mixture between the two
Problem is that Canada never put in an amending formula into their documents
The British North America act was created by the British parliament and therefore can only be
amended by the same body
Gradual legal equality with Britain (1926 & 1931)
Still no Canadian amending formula
In 1964 there was debate over creating the CPP
Problem was pensions were always provincial laws
They wanted the CPP to be federal however
They made an amendment to the British North America act in order to fix it
This required the agreement of all the provinces
They had to go to Britain and ask them to amend the document
Australia created an amending formula in 1900
oParliament has to agree
oThere also has to be a national referendum
oThere is a double majority requirement
A majority of people
A majority of all states
oDuring that time they have had 44 proposed amendments
oOnly 6 or 7 have actually passed
Canada's Constitutional Odyssey:
oTemporary solution was total agreement by all provinces with the actual change being
made by Britain
oThat lasted 115 years
oMany discussions about amendment in the 60s and 70s
oQuebec referendum in 1980 led to "renewed federalism"
o1980 - 1981 negotiations
oMeetings behind closed doors
oAt one point, Trudeau tried to change the constitution alone
oThe courts disagreed
oKey agreement in November 1981 "The kitchen accord"
oReferred to as "Patriation"
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