OUR CANADIAN REPUBLIC — HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
Aboriginal peoples of Canada
In the middle of the 18th century Jean Jacques Rousseau declared : “L’homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers.” (“Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.”) Rousseau believed that the way ahead, toward what our Canadian Constitution Act, 1982 now calls the “free and democratic society,” had to include recovering something of the original freedom into which humanity was born.
Students of the subject today tell us that Rousseau’s conception of this original freedom was “undoubtedly inspired” by the authors of the Jesuit Relations, who made the lives of various 17th century aboriginal peoples of Canada known to readers in early modern France and beyond.
In the later 20th century the same sources inspired Bruce Trigger’s landmark study, The Children of Aataentisic : A History of the Huron People to 1660. And as Trigger explained, the Huron people of early modern Canada put “great stress” on the “ideal of independence” and “an egalitarian view of man.” (And woman: “Huron culture showed equal concern for the individual dignity of women and children … Their general equality with men was noted by the French.”)
The Canadian republican vision of the early 21st century begins with what sections 25 and 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 call ”the aboriginal peoples of Canada” — which “includes the Indian, Inuit, and Metis peoples of Canada.” Canada is an aboriginal word. And as Harold Innis explained in his classic study of 1930, The Fur Trade in Canada: An Introduction to Canadian Economic History, “the Indian and his culture were fundamental to the growth of Canadian institutions.”
French and Indian fur trade
The history of the British monarchy in Canada began in 1497, when the Italian mariner Giovanni Cabotto landed somewhere on the north Atlantic coast of North America (probably in modern Newfoundland), on behalf of Henry Tudor, who had only a dozen years before successfully pressed by force of arms an otherwise dubious claim to be crowned King of England.
Yet over the next two and a half centuries few people from England (or Ireland, Scotland, Wales, or the Isle of Man) came to settle in what is now the Canadian territory. Canada is an aboriginal word, but the first people who called themselves Canadians (or les Canadiens) were the French-speaking settlers of the lower St. Lawrence valley — in the southern part of the present province of Quebec. At first “Canadian” was a word used by these settlers to describe their aboriginal neighbours. By the end of the 17th century they were using “Canadien” to describe themselves — as a French-speaking community distinct from the residents of France.
It is sometimes urged that 17th and 18th century Canadians were subjects of the Kings of France — and that modern Canada has been intimately linked with European monarchical institutions since its beginnings. The key enterprise of early modern French Canada, however, was the first Canadian resource economy of the fur trade. While headquartered among the French settlements in the valley of the St. Lawrence River, the fur trade supply centres quickly moved west, into what are now Ontario and (by the middle of the 18th century) the Prairie provinces of Western Canada.
Even in the St. Lawrence valley French settlers were much influenced by “the Indians with whom they were in constant contact.” In its more westerly heartland the early Canadian fur trade was a multiracial “French and Indian” collaboration — where the aboriginal peoples of Canada were powerful partners, and mixed-race “Métis” communities put down deep roots.
The 19th century New England historian Francis Parkman liked to stress the “Canadian Absolutism” of the old French monarchy in the St. Lawrence valley. But Parkman also noted that: “Against absolute authority there was a counter influence, rudely and wildly antagonistic. Canada was at the very portal of the great interior wilderness. The St. Lawrence and the Lakes were the highway to that domain of savage freedom” in the west, where early Canadians intermittently traveled and worked.
The egalitarian freedom of the multiracial fur trade wilderness also had an impact among the more settled “habitants” back east. W.J. Eccles, the 20th century English Canadian historian of France in North America, remarked on “the very independent attitude of the habitants,” and “the Canadians’ notorious reluctance to recognize and submit to” arbitrary authority. This tradition forms another historical inspiration for the Canadian republican vision of the 21st century.
British North America
By the Peace of Paris in February 1763 most of the colonial empire in America officially presided over by the King of France was finally transferred to the King of Great Britain.
This may have made sense to European monarchs and diplomats, but it baffled the aboriginal partners in the French and Indian fur trade. The early actions of British officials in the Canadian western wilderness also suggested that they did not appreciate the collaborative nature of the Aboriginal-European fur trade partnership in Canada. Starting in May 1763 Pontiac, War Chief of the Ottawa, masterminded a fierce shock-and-awe rebellion against the old fur trade outposts in the Great Lakes region only recently taken over by British forces.
This finally led to the Royal Proclamation of October 7, 1763, issued by a 25-year-old George III in the third year of his reign. As explained by today’s Canadian Encyclopedia, this Proclamation “established the constitutional framework for the negotiation of Indian treaties with the aboriginal inhabitants of large sections of Canada. As such, it has been labelled an ‘Indian Magna Carta’ or an ‘Indian Bill of Rights.’”
In what is now the United States George III’s Royal Proclamation of October 7, 1763 stood up for the Aboriginal-European fur trade partnership in the North American wilderness, against the interests of the westward-advancing Anglo-American mass settlement frontier. And it became a first step on the subsequent swift journey to the outbreak of the American War of Independence or Revolutionary War, at Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775.
1. North West Company and new migrations
The most northerly regions of British North America remained aloof from the American War of Independence (1776–1783). Anglo-American and other merchants with transatlantic interests in the northern resource economy moved north. In the midst of the war the old French and Indian fur trade enterprise based in Montreal was reorganized as the North West Company.
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries the North West Company took the first resource economy of the fur trade in Canada all the way from the Atlantic to the Arctic to the Pacific oceans. In the words of the economic historian Harold Innis, it was “the first organization to operate on a continental scale in North America.” It was also the “forerunner” of the Canadian political confederation of 1867 — “and it was built on the work of the French voyageur, the contributions of the Indian … and the organizing ability of Anglo-American merchants.”
In effect, after the 1783 Peace of Versailles, which ended the American War of Independence, most of the old British North America became the new United States. And a new British North America ironically arose in the old French and Indian Canada. Especially in what are now Ontario and Quebec late 18th and early 19th century migrations from the new United States added to an English-speaking population that had already begun to take root in what is now Atlantic Canada.
By the 1820s migrations from the United Kingdom had stiffened this trend, especially in what is now Ontario and points west. As explained in the 1920s by the British historian George Macaulay Trevelyan, the “second quarter of the nineteenth century” was “the period in the settlement of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand which decided that those lands should be peopled mainly from Britain and should become parts of a free British Commonwealth of Nations.”
2. Canadian rebellions 1837–38
At first, the political framework that British imperial officials arranged for the new northern British North America which arose after the American War of Independence looked to the past.
It tried to avoid the perceived “problems” of early representative or popular political institutions in what became the new United States with aggressively oligarchical and even quasi-aristocratic colonial governments. And this blended nicely with old memories of Francis Parkman’s “Canadian Absolutism” in the earlier French regime, and new memories of aspiring United Empire Loyalist elites seeking refuge from the new “republican” and “democratic” United States (in some respects at least, as long as you weren’t a Native or African American).
The hyperbolic conservatism of the early British North American regime in the old French and Indian Canada only encouraged countervailing popular reform movements in both French-speaking and English-speaking regions. Continued oligarchical repression and the Financial Panic of 1837 led the most radical branches of these reform movements into the Canadian rebellions of 1837–38.
The rebellions failed in their immediate objectives, but they persuaded imperial officials to begin a movement towards more popular and representative institutions of so-called “responsible government” that culminated only a decade later, in 1848. Historians have called the 1837–38 rebellions the “Birth of Canadian Democracy” and the “Emergence of Joint-Stock Democracy” and “Deliberative Democracy” in the most northern parts of North America. They form another historical inspiration for the Canadian republican vision today.
3. 1867 Confederation
Responsible government in 1848, in the British North American Maritime Provinces (present-day Atlantic Canada. including French-speaking Acadia) and the so-called United Province of Canada (present-day Ontario and Quebec) paved the way for the 1867 Canadian Confederation of which the North West Company of the late 18th and early 19th centuries had been the “forerunner.”
The continuing westward fur trade expansion of the Hudson’s Bay Company, with which the old Anglo-American/French and Indian North West Company had merged in 1822, the establishment of the Red River Colony in present-day Manitoba in 1812, and the establishment of the crown colonies of Vancouver Island in 1848 and British Columbia in 1858, ensured that what is now Western Canada would become the youngest part of the 1867 Canadian confederation by 1871.
The 1867 confederation under legislation of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, originally known as the British North America Act (a name changed to the Constitution Act, 1867 by legislation of the Parliament of Canada known as the Constitution Act, 1982), also owed quite a lot to the American Civil War (1861–1865), and the subsequent cancellation of the Reciprocity Treaty of 1854 (the first Canada-US free trade agreement, as it were) by the US Congress in 1866.
In some respects the 1867 confederation revisited the aggressively oligarchical and even quasi-aristocratic spirit of the original imperial institutions for the new more northerly British North America that arose after the American War of Independence. The conservative George-Etienne Cartier, French Canadian partner of the conservative English Canadian John A. Macdonald, who was so influential in defining what is now called the Constitution Act, 1867, urged that “in this country we must have a distinct form of government in which the monarchical spirit will be found.” The Liberal (or “Grit”) father of Confederation, George Brown, complained in a letter to his wife that: “Some will say our constitution is dreadfully Tory — and so it is — but [he finally emphasized] we have the power in our hands … to change it as we like. Hurrah!”
4. Red River and North West rebellions
In other respects, the Constitution Act, 1867 only began the story which finally ends with the Canadian republican vision of the early 21st century. In the 1990s the legal scholar Brian Slattery would write about “the long process of decolonization that Canada has undergone since 1867.” The new Canada of 1867 was no more (and no less) than “the first self-governing dominion” of the British empire. Canada today is, in practice if still not quite in theory, an altogether independent and internationally recognized “free and democratic” member state of the United Nations.
Macdonald and Cartier’s (and then just John A. Macdonald’s) long Tory start-up of the 1867 confederation (1867–1873, 1878–1891, and under the aegis of a political party officially known as “Liberal Conservative”) was similarly succeeded by Wilfrid Laurier’s Reform or”Grit” or “Parti rouge” Liberal regime in Ottawa (1896–1911). The French Canadian Wilfrid Laurier’s government laid the groundwork for the federal Liberal Party that would become the so-called “natural governing party of Canada” in the 20th century (starting with the long leadership of William Lyon Mackenzie King, grandson of the leader of the 1837 rebellion in old Upper Canada, or what is now known as Ontario — and his French Canadian partner, Ernest Lapointe).
Moreover, even the hyperbolic conservative start-up of the 1867 confederation was punctuated by two big later 19th century protests, against both the somewhat revived aggressively oligarchical and even quasi-aristocratic spirit — and the presumed anglophone and anglophile cultural domination — of the new British North America (or BNA) Act. The first of these was the Red River rebellion of 1869.The second was the North West rebellion of 1885.
Both these rebellions involved the fate of the mixed race Aboriginal-European Métis peoples, created by the first Canadian resource economy of the fur trade, after the fur trade had lost its economic edge (and was succeeded by lumbering, wheat, mining, and ultimately even manufacturing, and then oil and gas!). Both the Red River and North West rebellions also leaned on the leadership of the once controversial Louis Riel, who was “hanged for treason” by John A. Macdonald’s Canadian federal government, on November 16, 1885. Much more recently, in March 2013, Canada’s Métis were “celebrating a Supreme Court ruling that found the federal government failed to follow through on a promise it made to the Métis people over 140 years ago.” And some see Louis Riel as another historical inspiration for the Canadian republican vision today.
“Canada : An Actual Democracy”
Canada : An Actual Democracy is the title of a short volume published in1921, reproducing the section on Canada in the British aristocrat Viscount James Bryce’s “great and indispensable” study of the same year, Modern Democracies.
According to Bryce, the “study of popular government in Canada derives a peculiar interest from the fact that while the economic and social conditions of the country are generally similar to those of the United States, the political institutions have been framed upon English models … in Canada, better perhaps than in any other country, the working of the English system can be judged in its application to the facts of a new and swiftly growing country, thoroughly democratic in its ideas and its institutions …”
Canadian sacrifices among the troops of the British empire in the First World War (1914–1918) helped consolidate the growth of popular government over the previous decades, and accelerated Brian Slattery’s “long process of decolonization that Canada has undergone since 1867.”
Extension of the right to vote in Canadian federal elections to women in 1918 lent some additional credence to Viscount Bryce’s claims about “thoroughly democratic in its ideas and its institutions.” Various provincial and federal exclusions of various racial and religious minorities, however, would thwart a fully democratic electoral franchise until after the Second World War (1939–1945). Aboriginal peoples living on reserves only won the right to vote in 1960.
1. Mackenzie King’s nation building
The first federal election of William Lyon Mackenzie King’s Liberal Party in 1921 marked the rise of the somewhat more rapidly decolonizing and at least increasingly actual Canadian democracy, led by the grandson of the leader of the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837. King’s Liberals had won all 65 of the 65 seats in Quebec. But King still had only a minority government, dependent on support from a new Progressive Party, with more than half its seats in Western Canada.
Mackenzie King first unsuccessfully raised the prospect of an independent Canadian flag in 1925. More urgently, in 1926 his conflict over dissolution of the Canadian House of Commons with Governor General Lord Byng — a British aristocrat still appointed by the British government at this point — led to a federal election. King conducted this election “rhetorically as a campaign for Canadian independence from Britain … King also painted the matter as one relating to democracy, insisting that the Governor General …had no right to refuse his prime minister’s advice.”
In the 1926 election, “the Liberals were returned to power with King as prime minister” (and a majority government). King’s government “sought … to redefine the role of the governor general … The change was agreed to at the Imperial Conference of 1926 and came to be official as a result of the Balfour Declaration of 1926 and Statute of Westminster 1931.”
In its broadest effect the Statute of Westminster was a declaration of political autonomy for Canada and the (by this point) five other self-governing dominions of the British empire (Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the Irish Free State, and Newfoundland). As the Balfour Declaration had put the matter, the dominions of the empire were “autonomous and equal in stature with each other and with England.” A new imperial association called the British Commonwealth of Nations was created. It included the United Kingdom and the self-governing dominions. The members of the Commonwealth were “in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united in a common allegiance to the Crown.”
2. Second World War and first Canadian Citizenship Act 1947
As another mark of its rising status, the Canadian federal government made its own declaration of war in the late summer of 1939. As later explained by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC): “On Sept. 10, 1939, a special session of Parliament approves Prime Minister Mackenzie King’s request that Canada join the war in Europe. The decision, seen by most Canadians as inevitable, comes exactly one week after England and France declare war on Nazi Germany. It is the first time that Canadians make their own declaration of war as a sovereign nation.”
Canadian actions in the Second World War (1939–1945) once again accelerated Brian Slattery’s “long process of decolonization that Canada has undergone since 1867.” (As explained by Veterans Affairs Canada today : “At the end of the Second World War, Canada had the third-largest navy in the world with 95,000 men and women in uniform, and 434 commissioned vessels including cruisers, destroyers, frigates, corvettes and auxiliaries.”)
As explained by Citizenship and Immigration Canada : “The vast majority of Canadians believed that the war had truly confirmed Canada as a sovereign nation and they wanted the rest of the world to recognize the country’s recently won status. For that to happen … the remaining emblems of colonialism had to be removed and the symbols of independent nationhood substituted … one significant symbol of independent nationhood — Canadian citizenship — would find legal recognition in 1947, two years after the war. Up until that point, Canadian nationals had been legally defined as British subjects, both in Canada and abroad.
“The Canadian Citizenship Act, which was enacted on 27 June 1946 and came into force on 1 January 1947, provided for the conferring of a common Canadian citizenship on all Canadians, whether or not they had been born in Canada. Canadian citizenship, however, was deemed a privilege to be granted only to those considered qualified … With the enactment of this revolutionary piece of legislation Canada became the first Commonwealth country to create its own class of citizenship separate from that of Great Britain. Henceforth Canadian citizenship could be acquired by immigrants who had been naturalized in Canada, non–Canadian British subjects who had lived in Canada for five or more years, and non–Canadian women who had married Canadian citizens and who had come to live in Canada.”
3. Canadianization of Governor General, Supreme Court, and Newfoundland
The year 1947 also saw a parallel development in the position of the Governor General of Canada — which Prime Minister Mackenzie King had begun to redefine in 1926. (And remember that William Lyon Mackenzie King remains Canada’s longest-serving prime minister even today — in office 1921–1926, 1926–1930, 1935–1948.) Effective October 1, 1947, “George the Sixth, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas King, Defender of the Faith” issued new “Letters Patent Constituting the Office of Governor General of Canada.”
This document effectively turned over all the powers of the British monarch in Canada to the Governor General of Canada. George VI explained : “We do hereby authorize and empower Our Governor General, with the advice of Our Privy Council for Canada or of any members thereof or individually, as the case requires, to exercise all powers and authorities lawfully belonging to Us in respect of Canada, and for greater certainty but not so as to restrict the generality of the foregoing to do and execute, in the manner aforesaid, all things that may belong to his office and to the trust We have reposed in him according to the several powers and authorities granted or appointed him by virtue of the Constitution Acts, 1867 to 1940 and the powers and authorities hereinafter conferred in these Letters Patent and in such Commission as may be issued to him under Our Great Seal of Canada and under such laws as are or may hereinafter be in force in Canada.”
By this point, the Canadian prime minister and government, rather than the British prime minister and government, was effectively appointing successive British aristocrats as governors general of Canada. In 1952, however, Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent (Mackenzie King’s successor) appointed Vincent Massey (scion of the Massey-Harris agricultural machinery fortune) as Canada’s first Canadian governor general. Massey was, in the words of the Winnipeg wit Larry Zolf, “the first governor general who was not a British aristocrat, and the last who looked like he was.” Canadian prime ministers would subsequently appoint only Canadian citizens as “Governor General and Commander in Chief of Canada.”
A short time before, two broadly related developments had further strengthened the independent nationhood of Canada. After two successive referendums in 1948, on March 31, 1949, Newfoundland (which had earlier been its own self-governing dominion in the new British Commonwealth of Nations) officially became Canada’s 10th province. Some six months later, in the fall of 1949, an act of the Parliament of Canada abolished all Canadian appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the United Kingdom. The “Supreme Court of Canada became the last court of appeal for all cases originating in Canada.” The same legislation increased the number of Supreme Court justices to nine — three of whom “must by law be from Quebec.”
4. New maple leaf flag
William Lyon Mackenzie King had made another failed attempt to create an independent Canadian flag, to replace the old British red ensign of the colonial era, in 1946. Success in this nation building task at last would be left to Lester Pearson, who succeeded first Louis St. Laurent, and then John Diefenbaker from Saskatchewan, as prime minister of Canada.
Back in 1940, Lester Pearson had been a mere junior Canadian diplomat working in London, England, at a time when the surrender of France in the Second World War was making many observers wonder whether Great Britain would soon feel compelled to do the same. Charles Ritchie, a fellow junior Canadian diplomat in London, had written in his diary : “Mike Pearson says, ‘If this country [ie the United Kingdom] makes peace I hope Canada will become a republic and that would be the end of this business of our duty to the Empire.”
A quarter century later, in the mid 1960s, Canada had still not become a republic. But Lester Pearson had become prime minister of Canada. His earlier experience as Louis St. Laurent’s External Affairs minister, when he won a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in resolving the Suez Crisis of 1956, had convinced Pearson that Canada at least needed a distinctive flag, which emphasized its difference from its earlier imperial master in the United Kingdom.” And then: “In 1958, an extensive poll was taken of the attitudes that adult Canadians held toward the flag. Of those who expressed opinions, over 80% wanted a national flag entirely different from that of any other nation, and 60% wanted their flag to bear the maple leaf.”
Lester Pearson first became prime minister of Canada in April 1963. As explained by a careful enough Wikipedia article : ”Although the flag debate had been going on for a long time prior, it officially began on June 15, 1964, when Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson proposed his plans for a new flag in the House of Commons. It lasted more than six months…The debate over the proposed new Canadian flag was ended by closure on December 15, 1964. It resulted in the adoption of the ‘Maple Leaf flag’ as the Canadian national flag. The flag was inaugurated on February 15, 1965 and since 1996, February 15 has been commemorated as Flag Day.”
5. More new migrations in the global village and the Canadian Citizenship Act 1977
In the new Canadian confederation’s first census of 1871 some 61% of the population had so-called British “origins,” 31% French origins, and the remaining 8% various Other origins (including German, Dutch, Aboriginal, and African).
Starting in the early 20th century, the relative importance of the Other category began to grow, in increasingly more diverse migrations from many different parts of what Marshall McLuhan from Alberta christened as the global village in the early 1960s. (“The new electronic interdependence recreates the world in the image of a global village,” The Gutenberg Galaxy, 1962.)
By the census of 1971 the so-called British origins share of the cross-Canada population had shrunk to 44.6%. French origins were 28.7%. Aboriginal peoples were another 1.5%. And the top10 origins among the “Other” quarter (25.2%) included (from high to low) German, Italian, Ukrainian, Scandinavian, Polish, Jewish, Asian, Hungarian, Greek, and Yugoslavian.
According to the Wkipedia article on Canada’s 15th prime minister : “On October 8, 1971, Pierre Trudeau introduced the Multiculturalism Policy in the House of Commons. It was the first of its kind in the world, and was then emulated in several provinces … and other countries most notably Australia, which has had a similar history and immigration pattern. Beyond the specifics of the policy itself, this action signalled an openness to the world and coincided with a more open immigration policy that had been brought in by Trudeau’s predecessor Lester B. Pearson.”
In a similar spirit (and as explained by the mapleleafweb.com site) : “In 1977, Canada passed a second Citizenship Act … the 1977 legislation better reflected changing attitudes toward immigration, while recognizing that Canadian society benefited from having a diverse, multicultural population. Major features of the legislation included … allowing Canadians to maintain dual/multiple citizenship … removing any traces of special treatment for British subjects … reducing the period of time that permanent residents needed to reside in Canada before being able to apply for Canadian citizenship … reducing the age at which individuals could apply for Canadian citizenship … establishing that, for qualified applicants, Canadian citizenship was a right and not a privilege … clearly stating that individuals who acquired Canadian citizenship enjoyed the same rights and obligations as natural-born citizens … limiting the circumstances under which an individual would lose his/her Canadian citizenship.”
In effect, during the late 20th and early 21st centuries, Canada went back to the future of its earliest modern history — when the more westerly heartland of the first resource economy of the early Canadian fur trade was a multiracial collaboration, and mixed-race Métis communities put down deep roots. In the census of 2006 respondents were able to report either “single” or “multiple” origins. Some 59% reported single origins, and 41% reported multiple origins. The top 10 single origins were Canadian (31% of all single origins — in a category that had only started to be officially recognized in the 1990s), British, French, Chinese, East Indian, Italian, German, North American Indian, Irish, and Filipino.
6. From empire to independence — the new Commonwealth (and the sovereigntist movement in Quebec)
In many respects changes inside Canada during the late 20th and early 21st centuries reflected changes outside the country, in an increasingly “globalized” international community.
Politically, probably the most important of these changes, from Canada’s standpoint, was the dramatic decolonization of the British empire after the Second World War — and its ultimate transformation into a Commonwealth of Nations without any British prefix. (And with its demographic and perhaps even cultural centre increasingly rooted in the world’s largest parliamentary or any other kind of democracy, in the Republic of India.)
This trend began with the independence of the old “jewel in the crown,” the Indian Raj (or more exactly its transformation into the modern national states of India and Pakistan) in 1947 — not entirely accidentally the same year that the first Canadian Citizenship Act took effect. Both the new India and the new Pakistan eventually became republics — but not right away.
As well enough explained by two relevant Wikipedia articles on the subject, the “Dominion of India … was a predecessor to modern-day India and an independent state that existed between 15 August 1947 and 26 January 1950 … it was transformed into the Republic of India by promulgation of the Constitution of India on 26 January 1950.
Similarly : “The Dominion of Pakistan … was an independent federal Dominion in South Asia that was established in 1947 on the Partition of India into two sovereign countries …” It “included modern-day Pakistan and Bangladesh,” and “was intended to be a homeland for the Muslims of the Indian sub-continent. It became the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in 1956; the eastern part of the country became the independent People’s Republic of Bangladesh in 1971.”
A parallel transformation had taken place in the old British dominion of the Irish Free State, between 1937 when the so-called state of Eire was established with a new (and elected) “office of President of Ireland … in place of the Governor-General of the Irish Free State,” and 1949, when a full-blown and unambiguously republican Republic of Ireland was created at last.
The new Republic of Ireland chose not to remain in a rapidly changing heir of the old British empire known as the Commonwealth of Nations. But the new Republic of India that would take effect in January 1950 wanted to stay in the new Commonwealth. In 1949 “a Conference of [old] Commonwealth Prime Ministers accepted the Republic of India …” And as the English constitutional lawyer Stanley Alexander de Smith explained in the 1960s: “Once the principle of republican membership of the Commonwealth had been conceded, the time had arrived for pronouncing obsequies over the doctrine of common allegiance” to the British Crown.
A second wave of decolonization in the old British empire began in 1957, with the independence of Ghana in Africa and Malaya in Southeast Asia. Over the next several years other parts of the fading empire in Africa, Asia, and the North or Central American West Indies rather dramatically followed suit. Only a few decades after the Second World War, the age of European imperialism, in any formal sense, was coming to an almost sudden end with almost surprising speed..
Today the great majority of the 54 new Commonwealth of Nations independent member states are republics. And, while Queen Elizabeth II has been the symbolic Head of the Commonwealth since 1953, the doctrine of “common allegiance” to the British monarchy or Crown survives only among the United Kingdom itself and the 15 so-called “Commonwealth realms,” who still share the British monarch as an official head of state (Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, St. Christopher and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu.)
Finally, the increasingly rapid pace of decolonization in the British and other European empires after the Second World War had some impact on Canada’s majority-French-speaking province of Quebec. For some in Quebec, the decolonization of the British empire and the creation of new independent states in such places as India, Ghana, Kenya, and Malaysia, raised the question of independence for Quebec as well. By 1968 — the same year that Pierre Trudeau became Prime Minister of Canada — René Lévesque had engineered the birth of the Parti Québécois, which formed its first provincial government of Quebec only eight years later, in 1976. Two referendums were held, in 1980 and 1995, on an option that is probably better described as “sovereignty association” than outright independence. Neither was successful (though the second in 1995 came very close to a bare majority for some kind of more “sovereigntist” Quebec).
7. Constitution Act, 1982
What some still wrongly see as “Pierre Trudeau’s” Constitution Act, 1982 was, in the first place, a response to the first (failed) Quebec sovereignty (or “sovereignty association”) referendum of 1980. Symbolically, it “patriated” Canada’s Constitution from the United Kingdom. More practically, it at last created an independent amending formula for a Canadian Constitution that federal and provincial governments in Canada had been unable to agree on since the Balfour Declaration of 1926. But its deepest long-term significance is provocatively discussed in the University of Guelph political scientist Frederick Vaughan’s related book of 2003, The Canadian Federal Experiment : From Defiant Monarchy to Reluctant Republic.
Vaughan explains how the Constitution Act, 1982, with its Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, “was the instrument that, with one stroke, severed Canadians from their ancestral monarchical foundations. With the Charter, Canada began a new life as a nation, a republican nation. The Charter is based upon republican principles. It is the closest Canadians have ever come to a document that affirms the rights of the people.”
The Constitution Act, 1982 can also be viewed as a penultimate event in what the legal and constitutional scholar Brian Slattery has called “the long process of decolonization that Canada has undergone since 1867.” And, as the failed Meech Lake and Charlottetown accords of the late 1980s and early 1990s showed, the Act of 1982 did leave some dangling loose ends. It implied rather than explicitly created Frederick Vaughan’s reluctant republic of the 21st century — the logical successor to the still colonial 19th century’s defiant monarchy.
Some would say that Prime Minister Harper’s Conservative minority and majority governments since 2006 have changed course again, and at least begun to restore the defiant monarchy to a vital place in modern Canadian political culture. Yet Canada is a country of vast ironies, whose history recurrently displays more than its share of cunning passages. And Frederick Vaughan has more convincingly stressed the deepest long-term trend.
Mr. Harper’s last-ditch neo-monarchist manoeuvring notwithstanding, as Vaughan has also explained, fundamentally “the Canadian regime has turned its back on monarchy,” and the “direction cannot be reversed. The transformation to republican government has taken hold in the public mind and has been institutionalized by the new Charter mandate entrusted to the Supreme Court. Yet institutional reforms are urgently required to accommodate the constitutional alterations. In other words, the solution to the problems that have emerged with the advent of republican government is not monarchical institutions, as Eugene Forsey would have recommended, but more or better republican institutions.”
Vaughan’s views here are broadly supported by four different opinion polls over the past year:
* “A total of 67% of Canadians would support a new elected position to replace the Governor General and lieutenant governors. [A proposal with similarities to current practice in the Republic of Ireland, which retains the same “Westminster” or British-style system of parliamentary democracy as Canada.] Regionally, there is support across all provinces with the highest support in Alberta and Atlantic Canada.” (Harris/Decima for Your Canada / Your Constitution, June 2012.)
* “Canadians, it seems, love their universal health care … The monarchy? Not so much … A new national poll commissioned by the Montreal-based Association for Canadian Studies examined the pride Canadians place in a list of more than a dozen symbols, achievements and attributes.” Universal health care placed at the top of the list. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms finished fourth. The monarchy was at the bottom. (Leger Marketing for Association for Canadian Studies, November 2012.)
* The Environics Institute published the results of a very similar survey of Canadian symbols, as part of its Focus Canada 2012 report. Once again “Health Care system” finished first. In this case “Charter of Rights and Freedoms” was second. And once again “The Queen” was at the bottom. As one journalist also stressed : “The order of symbols on the list hadn’t changed in the previous decade.” (Research House for Environics Institute, November–December 2012.)
* “55% of Canadians want change to Canadian head of state instead of continuing with any member of the British royal family. [A proposal with similarities to current practice in the Republic of India, which retains the same “Westminster” or British-style system of parliamentary democracy as Canada, and remains in the Commonwealth of Nations.] … Only 34% want royal family member to continue to be Canada’s head of state as federal Conservatives have proposed in questionably unconstitutional Bill C-53 … 79% of people in Quebec want this change [to Canadian head of state], as do more than 60% of people younger than age 34.” (Harris/Decima for Your Canada / Your Constitution, February 2013.)
8. Revisiting the Constitution Act, 1982 to end the “long process of decolonization that Canada has undergone since 1867” … at last
Probably the most egregious of the Constitution Act, 1982’s dangling loose ends has involved Quebec’s failure to formally join the federal government and the nine other provincial governments in explicitly “signing on.”
Strictly speaking, this has not affected the narrow legality of the document. At the time the provincial government of Quebec was in the hands of René Lévesque and the sovereigntist Parti Québécois — and was not likely to sign anything in which Quebec was involved in the future of Canada, more or less like everyone else.
Moreover, in the previous 1980 federal election, Pierre Trudeau’s governing Liberal party in Ottawa had won more than two-thirds of the Quebec popular vote, and 74 of the province’s 75 federal seats. And as Prime Minister Jean Chrétien (1993–2003) underlined more than once, the government of Quebec subsequently acknowledged the legitimate force of the Constitution Act, 1982 by using its provisions (and especially the so-called “Notwithstanding Clause,” which Quebec has used more than any other Canadian government).
At the same time, the “night of the long knives” in the autumn of 1981, when the other nine provinces finally made the deal with Pierre Trudeau’s federal government that ultimately led to the Constitution Act, 1982, without even trying to get René Lévesque’s Quebec government involved, remains a dangerous thorn in the side of both Canada and Quebec. In the spring of 2013 historian Frédéric Bastien’s new book, La bataille de Londres has prompted the National Assembly in Quebec to adopt “a unanimous resolution calling on Ottawa to release all documents relating to the 1982 patriation of the Constitution from Britain.”
A recent article in the Globe and Mail suggests that: “These days, it’s politically taboo to mention the Constitution outside Quebec. Even within the province, there’s no burning desire to take up the fight. The new federal Liberal leader, Justin Trudeau, dismisses it all as ‘old squabbles.’ Mr. Bastien’s book, already in its third printing, suggests otherwise. Quebeckers profoundly believe a wrong was committed in 1982.”
The need to right this wrong, so to speak, lay at the bottom of the failed efforts of Brian Mulroney’s Conservative government in the Meech Lake and Charlottetown accords of the late 1980s and early 1990s. The continuing need to address a still unresolved Quebec issue in Canada’s present constitutional arrangements lay at the bottom of the Canadian House of Commons’ late November 2006 resolution “That this House recognize that the Québécois form a nation within a united Canada … Que cette Chambre reconnaisse que les Québécoises et les Québécois forment une nation au sein d’un Canada uni.”
Both Canada and Quebec have a strong survival interest in spelling out just what this recognition means in both practical and constitutionally entrenched terms. This ultimately must mean “re-opening the Constitution” and finally succeeding at the job the Meech Lake and Charlottetown accords of the late 1980s and early 1990s failed to do, in the not all that distant future. And this will also provide the ultimate opportunity for Frederick Vaughan’s reluctant republic to come out of the closet, put a final end to Brian Slattery “long process of decolonization that Canada has undergone since 1867,” and strengthen and entrench the Canadian future, in an increasingly challenging global village, for the 21st century and beyond.
In the spring of the year 2013 it is no doubt clear enough that the time for all this is not quite ripe yet. Over the past few years conventions of both the federal Liberal and New Democratic parties have at least half seriously (and briefly) pondered Canadian republican policy resolutions. Despite Mr. Harper’s present policies, there are now significant republican currents in his own Conservative party as well. (And something similar can be said about Elizabeth May and the federal Green Party.) Since the mid 1990s the British monarchy in Canada has failed to show any enduring majority support in Canadian opinion polls. But there is still not quite the kind of overwhelming popular majority for a parliamentary democratic Canadian republic that will no doubt be required to win in the end. Much work still lies ahead for those of us who do strongly believe already that this kind of Canadian republic, rooted in a long history that goes all the way back to the aboriginal peoples of Canada some 500 years ago, is the best framework for a strong Canadian future, that will endure for many, many “free and democratic” generations ahead. .
DRAFT : APRIL 24, 2013 [c. 7000 words].
NOTES ON SOURCES [Incomplete in this draft].
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Du Contrat Social ou Principes du droit politique (Paris : Éditions Garnier Frères, 1762, 1962), 236.
Stelio Cro, The Noble Savage: Allegory of Freedom (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1990), 8. “Rousseau was undobutedly inspired by the American chroniclers, especially the Jesuit Relations and Charlevoix’s Histoire de la Nouvelle France …” http://bit.ly/12bARCX
ENNOBLING `SAVAGES’ … Native America in European natural_rights philosophy … European philosophy has been profoundly influenced since 1492 by the values of people found in the Americas, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific … Jack Forbes had contended that
[w]ith the writings of Rousseau, [and] Voltaire . . . we might suggest that the traditional folk democracy of parts of Europe became viable again when merged with the actual knowledge that there were functioning democratic/communalistic societies in the world.  … This reawakening of the idea of freedom and modern democratic ideals was born in “Native American wigwams because it was only in America” that Europeans from 1500 to 1776 knew of societies that were “truly free.” Forbes asserts this even though he recognizes that American Indian intellectual influences are always denied as a “cardinal act of faith in European superiority.”
Harvest of Souls: The Jesuit Missions and Colonialism in North America, 1632 … By Carole Blackburn … several authors have remarked on the importance of the Jesuits’ Relations in providing the raw material for the noble savage of Rousseau and others … http://bit.ly/ZMU1Lh
A Nipissing came as near as possible to Rousseau’s perfect and “ideal man.” He was untainted by civilization, did what he liked, and was moved only by natural impulses …
Bruce Trigger, The Children of Ataentsic …
Bruce Trigger, The Huron …
The name of Canada has been in use since the earliest European settlement in Canada, with the name originating from a First Nations word kanata (or canada) for “settlement”, “village”, or “land”. Today, Canada is pronounced /’kæn?d?/ in English, [kanad?] in Canadian French and [kanada] in European French. In Inuktitut, one of the official languages of the territory of Nunavut, the First Nations word (pronounced [kanata]) is used, with the Inuktitut syllabics ???.
Origin of the Name _ Canada
From 1535 to the 1690s, the French word Canadien had referred to the Aboriginal people the French had encountered in the St. Lawrence River valley at Stadacona and Hochelaga. At the end of the 17th century, Canadien became an ethnonym distinguishing the inhabitants of Canada from those of France.
Brian Slattery, THE ORGANIC CONSTITUTION: ABORIGINAL PEOPLES AND THE
EVOLUTION OF CANADA. Osgoode Hall Law Journal, v 34, n 1 , 1996.
“The important point is that Aboriginal nations were active participants in the lengthy processes that eventually gave rise to the federation of Canada … the constitutional law relating to Aboriginal peoples is grounded in ancient practices generated by interaction between Aboriginal nations and British and French officials in eastern North America during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries … Over the years, this … law … was whittled away by statute, and was often ignored by governmental officials and forgotten by the general public. However, it remains the essential historical background against which the modern position of Aboriginal peoples must be understood … it is also a central element in the panoply of aboriginal rights recognized in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 … All this has still broader implications for Canada today as well. It “suggests that Aboriginal peoples should be viewed as active participants in generating the basic norms that govern us — not as people on the fringes … but as contributors to the evolution of our Constitution and most fundamental laws.” And it “represents a further stage in the long process of decolonization that Canada has undergone since 1867.”
James Bryce, Canada : An Actual Democracy (Toronto : Macmillan of Canada, 1921), 1.
James Bryce’s “great and indispensable” study…
Canadian deaths in First World War
World War I casualties … From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia … Canada 7.2 64,976 2,000 66,976 0.92% 149,732 … United States 92.0 116,708 757 117,465 0.13% 205,6
Number of casualties in the First World War, 1914 to 1918, and the Second World War, 1939 to 1945 … 56,638
First World War Facts … Total deaths: 60, 383 (includes killed in action, died of wounds and died of disease)
Casualties of World War 1 … 67,000 [The figures are cited from The Longman Companion to the First World War (Colin Nicholson, Longman 2001, pg. 248); they have been rounded to the nearest thousand.]
Canada At War … 66,665
Military Casualties of World War One … 56,500
A History of the Vote in Canada
The Evolution of the Federal Franchise
Prime Minister Mackenzie KING’s attempts to adopt a national flag in 1925 and again in 1946 failed, and eventually, in 1964, Prime Minister Lester B. PEARSON assigned the task of evolving a suitable design to an all_party, 15_member special committee.
Much was made of the “Byng–King Thing” during the election campaign, which King conducted rhetorically as a campaign for Canadian independence from Britain, even though it was King who demanded that Byng consult London. King also painted the matter as one relating to democracy, insisting that the Governor General had had no right to refuse his prime minister’s advice, while Meighen denounced King’s actions as “a shameless attempt to hang onto power and avoid imminent defeat by the people’s elected representatives.” However, the Liberals were returned to power with King as prime minister. Once in power, King’s government sought at an imperial conference to redefine the role of the governor general as a personal representative of the sovereign in his Canadian council and not of the British government, the king in his British council. The change was agreed to at the Imperial Conference of 1926 and came to be official as a result of the Balfour Declaration of 1926 and Statute of Westminster 1931.
Balfour Declaration 1926
Text of the Balfour Declaration 1926 (also signed by a rep of India, btw)
On Sept. 10, 1939, a special session of Parliament approves Prime Minister Mackenzie King’s request that Canada join the war in Europe. The decision, seen by most Canadians as inevitable, comes exactly one week after England and France declare war on Nazi Germany. It is the first time that Canadians make their own declaration of war as a sovereign nation.
At the end of the Second World War, Canada had the third_largest navy in the world with 95,000 men and women in uniform, and 434 commissioned vessels including cruisers, destroyers, frigates, corvettes and auxiliaries. It was an incredible growth that symbolizes the great contributions that Canadians made in the cause of peace and freedom during history’s largest war.
As explained by Citizenship and Immigration Canada : “The vast majority of Canadians believed that the war had truly confirmed Canada as a sovereign nation and they wanted the rest of the world to recognize the country’s recently won status. For that to happen … the remaining emblems of colonialism had to be removed and the symbols of independent nationhood substituted … one significant symbol of independent nationhood—Canadian citizenship—would find legal recognition in 1947, two years after the war. Up until that point, Canadian nationals had been legally defined as British subjects, both in Canada and abroad.
1947 Letters Patent
The Tenth Province: Newfoundland joins Canada, 1949. Melvin Baker. (c)1987.
The Supreme Court of Canada has been the highest court for all legal issues of federal and provincial jurisdiction since 1949, when appeals to the JUDICIAL COMMITTEE OF THE PRIVY COUNCIL of the UK were abolished.
IN 1949 a very important change was made in the Canadian constitution. An act of the Dominion Parliament’ abolished, after a bitter and protracted political struggle,2 all remaining rights of future appeals from Canadian courts to His Majesty in Council and constituted the Supreme Court of Canada the ultimate appellate tribunal for all cases, both civil and criminal.
1949: A Supreme Court; Act II … On Tuesday, September 20, 1949, when the Minister of Justice introduced his legislative measure, debate quickly turned into an intensive partisan constitutional debate, the Conservatives expressing their traditional defense of provincial jurisdictions … The bill called for the federal government to select the judges of the Supreme Court and eliminating recourse to an “unbiased” British Court. Time had come to sever this lingering umbilical cord.
When the Supreme Court of Canada was established in 1875, Justice Minister Edward Blake tried to abolish appeals to the JCPC. This was resisted by the Lord Chancellor, Lord Cairns, and ultimately the effort failed on the grounds that the clause abolishing appeals was inoperative. Canada was, however, allowed to decide what kinds of cases could be appealed. It banned criminal appeals to the JCPC in 1888 … In 1926 criminal appeals were again allowed as the JCPC ruled that the Canadian law which prevented those appeals conflicted with the JCPC’s jurisdiction in Canada. This was again reversed in 1933 after the Statute of Westminster gave Canada equality with Britain … In 1947 the JCPC ruled that the Parliament of Canada could abolish civil appeals to the JCPC. This was done in 1949, at which time the Supreme Court of Canada became the last court of appeal for all cases originating in Canada.
The Constitution Act, 1867, allowed the new federal Parliament to create its own court of appeal. This was used by Parliament to create the Supreme Court of Canada. However, decisions of the new court still could be appealed to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council for final judgment. This did not end until 1933 for criminal appeals, and 1949 for civil appeals … This court originally had six justices. In addition to Chief Justice Richards, five associate or puisne justices sat. In 1927, the number of Supreme Court justices increased to seven and, in 1949, the court reached its present total of nine members. Of the nine, three must by law be from Quebec. Tradition dictates that three others are from Ontario, two are from the West, and one is from Atlantic Canada.
PEACEKEEPING AND PEACEMAKING: THE SUEZ CRISIS … the birth of “traditional peacekeeping” and Canada’s emerging identity
In 1958, an extensive poll was taken of the attitudes that adult Canadians held toward the flag. Of those who expressed opinions, over 80% wanted a national flag entirely different from that of any other nation, and 60% wanted their flag to bear the maple leaf.
The Great Canadian Flag Debate (or Great Flag Debate) took place in 1963 and 1964 when a new design for the national flag of Canada was chosen. Although the flag debate had been going on for a long time prior, it officially began on June 15, 1964, when Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson proposed his plans for a new flag in the House of Commons. It lasted more than six months, bitterly dividing the people in the process. The debate over the proposed new Canadian flag was ended by closure on December 15, 1964. It resulted in the adoption of the “Maple Leaf flag” as the Canadian national flag. The flag was inaugurated on February 15, 1965 and since 1996, February 15 has been commemorated as Flag Day.
“The new electronic interdependence recreates the world in the image of a global village,” 1962.
The new electronic interdependence recreates the world in the image of a global village. (p. 36)
‘Fifty Years in the Global Village’: Remembering Marshall McLuhan on His 100th Birthday
William F. Baker August 4, 2011
Historical Statistics of Canada
Pierre Trudeau … From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The 1977 Citizenship Act … The Liberal government introduces new legislation, which better reflects the makeup of Canadian society … In 1977, Canada passed a second Citizenship Act.
Ethnic origins, 2006 counts, for Canada, provinces and territories – 20% sample data
Dominion of India … From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia … The Dominion of India (Hindi: ?????? ????????, Bharata Adhirajya), also known as the Union of India, was a predecessor to modern-day India and an independent state that existed between 15 August 1947 and 26 January 1950. Although it was transformed into the Republic of India by promulgation of the Constitution of India on 26 January 1950, the term Union of India (or simply the Union) is still used by the Indian judicial system to refer to the Indian government (also known as the central government, as opposed to the governments of the individual states in India).
Dominion of Pakistan … From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia … The Dominion of Pakistan (Bengali: ????????? ????????; Urdu: ?????? ????????), usually called Pakistan; was an independent federal Dominion in South Asia that was established in 1947 on the Partition of India into two sovereign countries (the other being the Dominion of India). The Dominion, which included modern-day Pakistan and Bangladesh, was intended to be a homeland for the Muslims of the Indian sub-continent. It became the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in 1956; the eastern part of the country became the independent People’s Republic of Bangladesh in 1971.
What if 2011 India was a British dominion?
Dominion … From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
India: our sister dominion … India is the world’s largest democracy and its second most populous, but for decades its image was mainly that of a poor nation with a rich history. Shaken by periodic religious strife and still largely a rural and agricultural country, India has nevertheless emerged in the new millennium as an increasingly important global player. From its colonial origins to the bright lights of Bollywood, CBC Digital Archives presents a collection of clips about India past and present.
A somewhat similar transformation had taken place in the old British dominion of the Irish Free State between 1937 when the so-called state of Eire was established with a new (and elected) “office of President of Ireland … in place of the Governor-General of the Irish Free State”) and 1949, when a full-blown Republic of Ireland was finally created.
The London Declaration was a declaration issued by the governments of the Commonwealth of Nations on the issue of India’s continued membership of the Commonwealth. It was made in London on 28 April 1949, and marked the birth of the modern Commonwealth. The declaration had two main provisions. First, it allowed the Commonwealth to admit and retain members that were not Commonwealth realms, including both republics and indigenous monarchies. Second, it renamed the organisation from the ‘British Commonwealth’ to the ‘Commonwealth of Nations’, reflecting the first change.
A total of 67% of Canadians would support a new elected position to replace the Governor General and lieutenant governors. Regionally, there is support across all provinces with the highest support in Alberta and Atlantic Canada:
Poll points to pride in medicare, lagging support for monarchy … Bruce Cheadle, The Canadian Press Sun Nov 25 2012 18:20:00 … A new national poll commissioned by the Montreal_based Association for Canadian Studies examined the pride Canadians place in a list of more than a dozen symbols, achievements and attributes … The online survey of 2,207 respondents by Leger Marketing found universal health care was almost universally loved, with 94 per cent calling it an important source of collective pride — including 74 per cent who called it “very important” … At the other end of the spectrum, just 39 per cent of respondents felt the monarchy was a source of personal or collective pride, while 59 per cent were royally unimpressed. In fact, 32 per cent of respondents found the monarchy “not at all important” — the most popular singular response.
Dear Stephen Harper: Most Canadians Don’t Give A Crap About The Monarchy And The War of 1812 … but we love Public Health Care!!!
The primary source is: Focus Canada 2012, p. 20 … The Focus Canada 2012 survey was conducted for the Institute by Research House, and was based on telephone interviews with a representative sample of 1,500 Canadians (aged 18 and over) between November 15 and December 5, 2012
Earlier this year, the Environics Institute issued another in a series of Focus Canada studies that have tracked Canadian attitudes for 30 years. Asked to identify Canada’s most important symbol, respondents chose a long list, with health care at the top and the monarchy at the bottom. The order of symbols on the list hadn’t changed in the previous decade.
Feb. 27 2013 … The Harperites are keen on symbols of importance to their core and, they hope, by extension to other Canadians. No such luck. They are gaga about the British monarchy. Yet when asked about the importance of national symbols, Canadians ranked monarchy last, a pitiful 17 per cent – way behind the second-least-important symbol.
55% of Canadians want change to Canadian head of state instead of continuing with any member of the British royal family … Only 34% want royal family member to continue to be Canada’s head of state as federal Conservatives have proposed in questionably unconstitutional Bill C-53 … 79% of people in Quebec want this change, as do more than 60% of people younger than age 34 and 55% of people age 35-64 — 48% of people outside Quebec want this change (39% in B.C.), while only 39% want to continue with royal family member (53% in B.C.)
NOTWITHSTANDING CLAUSE: “To date s. 33 has been hardly used. It was first used in June 1982, a few months after the Charter was adopted; the Quebec National Assembly enacted the Act respecting the Constitution Act, 1982 (S. Q. 1982, c. 21). This act repealed all Quebec legislation and re-enacted it with notwithstanding declarations. The Quebec National Assembly also included a notwithstanding declaration in every law that was passed in the following three years. This use of the ‘notwithstanding clause’ was not actually aimed at protecting a specific piece of legislation from the Charter, but was an act of political protest against the fact that the Charter was entrenched in the Constitution without the consent of the Government of Quebec. Following the election of a Liberal Government in Quebec in December 1985, this practice stopped. … In addition to this omnibus invocation of s. 33, it was used fifteen other times in Quebec, once in Saskatchewan, and once in Alberta; the other provincial legislatures, as well as Parliament, have never used the ‘notwithstanding clause’. The subject matter of the fifteen acts in Quebec which invoked the use of s. 33 were back-to-work legislation, pension plans, education, agricultural operations, the language used on signage and same-sex marriage … Most uses of the ‘notwithstanding clause’ did not create any controversy. However, controversy did arise in Quebec 1988 when Premier Robert Bourassa’s government used s. 33 to re-enact legislation which required that all outdoor public signs in Quebec be in French. This use of the ‘notwithstanding clause’ provoked outcry in English Quebec and English Canada. In response to Quebec’s actions, the province of Manitoba withdrew its support from the then pending Meech Lake Agreement (see Meech Lake Accord); an action, many believe, marked the beginning of that accord’s failure.”
KONRAD YAKABUSKI … A divided Quebec unites for a (constitutional) fight … These days, it’s politically taboo to mention the Constitution outside Quebec. Even within the province, there’s no burning desire to take up the fight. The new federal Liberal leader, Justin Trudeau, dismisses it all as “old squabbles” … Mr. Bastien’s book, already in its third printing, suggests otherwise. Quebeckers profoundly believe a wrong was committed in 1982. It would add insult to injury if we failed to correct the historical record.
Québécois nation motion … From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia