The Empire, Canada and the Provinces, 1949
Publication
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 19 Jan 1950, p. 170-182
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The Empire, Canada and the Provinces, 1949


The role of public opinion in determining the personnel, and to a large extent, the policies of government. The importance of public opinion with respect to the major issues of the day. The major issue of the relationship of the federal and provincial governments to one another, towards our constitution, and towards its amendment. The background of facts and law of this issue. The creation of the Dominion of Canada. The British North American Act. The powers of government in Canada divided into two parts. Assignation of responsibilities to the national and provincial governments. Limitations of taxing powers to the provinces. The unlimited power of taxation of the Federal Government. Inaccurate statements often heard with regard to this taxation issue. Taxation powers of municipalities. Fiscal problems arising because of this 1867 division of legislative functions and taxing powers. The related problem of how the Federal Government and ten Provincial Governments of Canada are to work out together a method whereby we in Canada can amend our constitution so that it will be in accord with the facts of life in the era in which it has to operate. Examples of national benefits which may depend upon our ability to devise a workable method of amending our constitution. A discussion of methods of amendment. First, some fundamental points about the Canadian constitution, the division of powers, and the British North American Act of 1867. The lack of provision for amendment and how that came to be. How in the past amendments to our constitutions were achieved. Consultation with the Provinces. The role of the Imperial Parliament at Westminster. The Colonial Laws Validity Act. The Balfour Declaration. The Imperial Statute of Westminster in 1931 giving legislative effect to the Balfour Declaration. The exception of this Statute of Westminster with regard to the repeal, amendment or alteration of the British North America Act. The anomalous and embarrassing situation in which the British Parliament is called upon to rubber-stamp with legislation, the joint Address of the Canadian Parliament requesting amendments to our Canadian Constitution. Canada falling short of exercising full nationhood and sovereignty. Removing the last two impediments to our full sovereignty. The current situation regarding amendments. Historic minority rights. The Dominion-Provincial Conference at Ottawa held January 10th. An invitation to the provincial Premiers to send a delegation to the Conference to ascertain whether an agreement could be reached upon the method by without our constitution could be amended within Canada as regards matters of joint federal and provincial concern. The three tests which the method of amendment should meet. Measure of agreement reached at the Conference. Other agreements concerning the process of amendment, the delegation of powers, the appointment of a continuing Sub-Committee of all of the Attorneys-General of the various Provinces under the speaker as Chairman. Work of the Sub-Committee. The task of the Sub-Committee to endeavour to reconcile any conflict of opinion that there might be.