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Lecture 13

Political Science 2230E Lecture 13 Jan 15.docx

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Western University
Political Science
Political Science 2230E
Gaile Mc Gregor

2230 Lecture 13 Jan 15 THE CONSTITUTION • The road to sovereignty • Components of the Constitution • Amending the Constitution • Patriation • Mega-Constitutional politics Meech Lake Accord Charlottetown Accord Post-Charlottetown Sovereignty – supreme or independent power or authority in government BNA Act/Constitution Act 1867 - Divided powers between federal and prov gov’t that were being exercised by the colonies in Canada - Did not lead to sovereignty - Only Britain could amend this Boer War (1899-1902) - Wilfred Laurier (PM) only sent volunteers to the war because the French didn’t have strong ties with Britain WWI (1914-1918) - Similar divisions between English and French Canada for support for the war - Robert Borden implemented conscription – very few of those went overseas - Some say Borden was a conservative and this is why the conservative party was so weak in Quebec - Battle of Vimy Ridge – often sighted as the birth of Canada (All Canadian battle where they took the ridge) Imperial Conference (1926) – Balfour declaration - Heads of state of Britain and colonies got together to discuss the empire and form a partnership - In 1926 colonies became equal partners with Britain – Balfour declaration - See a shift from colonies being subordinate to Britain to being equal Statute of Westminster (1931) - When the colonies could become independent - Granted them full equal freedom to become sovereign - Could choose to remain subordinate in some areas if they desired - Very important step to understanding Canadian sovereignty - Canada did not choose to become sovereign in all areas - The power to amend or change the constitution remained with Britain WWII (1939-1945) - Britain declared war on Germany on Sept. 3 - Canada did on Sept. 10 - Waited 7 days so everyone knew that Canada had the power - Conscription Crisis - 1940 election in Canada - William Lyon Mackenzie King promised he would not implement conscription - They get to the point in the war where they are losing a lot of people and not getting enough people enlisting and decided to reopen the debate on conscription - Asked the gov’t if they could take by their promise not to implement conscription - English Canada voted for this and French Canada voted against this - Conscription was implemented Supreme Court Power (1949) - Canada reclaimed supreme court power in 1949 from Britain - JCPC tended to rule in favour with the federal gov’t in battles with the provinces Suez Crisis (1956) - Suez Canal in Egypt - Very important in 1956 - Run by British and French private company - Britain and France attacked, along with Israel - Soviets said they were gonna start a nuclear war - This is a time where Canada was not on the British side and just acted as a mediator Constitution Act (1982) - severed all but ceremonial ties to Britain Constitution – Provides the rules of the game on how everybody interacts with everybody else and lays out the rules for three relationships; lays out the roles and responsibilities for each type of government; sets out the rights and obligations of citizens and of gov’t and protects them • The body of understandings defining the basic institutions of government and the relations between them, plus the relationships between governments in the federal system, and between the citizens and those governments” (Cairns, 1988). • Three relationships: 1) Among branches of government 2) Between levels of government 3) Between state and people • Not a single piece of paper - made up of many components. Written and unwritten components Entrenched and nonentrenched - Unwritten parts are traditions and people act according to these rules (important parts of the constitution)  Entrenched – require a constitutional amendment (very difficult because you need the support of the federal gov’t , governor general and a lot of provinces)  Nonentrenched – ordinary statutes and laws considered important enough to be a part of the constitution ex. Act that created the supreme court of Canada; Bill of rights – came before the Charter in the 1960s Components of the Canadian Constitution • BNA Act/Constitution Act, 1867 • Formal amendments to the Constitution Act, 1867 • British statutes and orders in council i.e. Statute of Westminster (1931) judicial or senate appointments are orders in council • Organic Canadian statutes i.e. Supreme Court Act (1875), Bill of Rights (1960), Nunavut Act (1999) - Two central components are 1) BNA Act; 2) Constitution Act 1982 - We inherited the constitution of Britain - At this point Canada can not amend its own Constitution, only Britain can do
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