Archive | 40 years ago the Canadian Constitution was repatriated


Archives | 40 years ago, the Canadian Constitution was repatriated

April 17, 1982 was ratified a new Constitution of Canada by Queen Elizabeth II.

On April 17, 1982, Queen Elizabeth II signed the document that repatriated the Constitution of Canada to the country. This new Basic Law significantly changed the legal and political landscape in Canada, as reports from our archives recall.

“At 11:35 a.m. this morning, exactly on the hour and minute scheduled in the program, Queen Elizabeth II signed, followed by Prime Minister Trudeau, Minister of Justice Jean Chrétien and Registrar General André Ouellet, the text proclamation of the new Constitution. »

— Rodrigue Bérubé, April 17, 1982

Report by parliamentary correspondent Rodrigue Bérubé on the signing ceremony of Canada's new constitution, attended by Queen Elizabeth II.

On this day of the proclamation of a new Canadian Constitution, Le Téléjournal, co-hosted by Louise Arcand and Bernard Derome, moved to the capital to attend this historic event.

Parliamentary correspondent in Ottawa, Rodrigue Bérubé, describes in his account the proceedings of the proclamation ceremony which takes place in front of the crowd gathered on Parliament Hill.

Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, signed the proclamation, immediately imitated by Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau and several other federal officials.

In his speech, Prime Minister Trudeau stressed the importance of this event by affirming in particular, by way of conclusion, that Canada is becoming politically adult.

In their respective speeches, Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Trudeau note and regret the absence of the province of Quebec in the new Canadian constitutional structure.

The federal Prime Minister however says not to doubt, after having lived through the May 1980 referendum in Quebec and the rejection of the sovereignist option, the attachment of Quebecers to Canada.

This proclamation is the culmination of a long historical process.

As early as the 1920s, Canadian parliamentarians tried to repatriate the Basic Law of Canada.

In June 1971, common ground was a hair's breadth away at the Victoria Constitutional Conference.

However, Quebec Prime Minister Robert Bourassa was forced to refuse the compromise adopted during this meeting.

Then, on November 5, 1981, what is commonly called  the night of long knives.

The federal government and nine Canadian provinces then concluded a constitutional agreement without Quebec.

It was this agreement that enabled Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau to ask the United Kingdom to repatriated the Canadian Constitution from the Parliament of London.

Excerpt from an analysis of Canada's new constitution by journalist and host Jean Larin.

In this excerpt from the program Tel quel of March 28, 1982 hosted by Jean Larin, we discover two characteristics that the new Canadian Constitution would have.

The first characteristic is that its adoption process was undemocratic.

At the November 5, 1981 meeting, a majority of provincial premiers opposed Pierre Elliott Trudeau's suggestion that Canadians be presented with the idea of ​​constitutional reform — including the adoption of a Canadian Charter of Rights and freedoms — by means of a referendum.

In the end, concludes Jean Larin, Canadian politicians in 1981 cared no more about public opinion than did those in the 19th century when they passed the British North America Act, Canada's first Constitution. , during the Charlottetown Conference.

The second feature of the 1982 Constitution is that it would fundamentally alter the dynamic between the founding peoples of Canada.

That, at least, is the opinion expressed by John Harney, former Canadian NDP MP and professor of history in Toronto.

The repatriated Constitution would not recognize the Canadian duality between the peoples that make up French Canada and English Canada, which had existed since the Quebec Constitutional Act of 1774, says Mr. Harney.

Quebec, he adds, is not part of it.

The 1982 Constitution is ultimately only an agreement between the governments of nine provinces and the federal government, concludes John Harney.

The absence of the province of Quebec in the Canadian Constitution of 1982 is a very important characteristic of this Constitution.

The government of Quebec, then led by Premier René Lévesque and by the Parti Québécois, have categorically rejected the document and oppose it tooth and nail.

Report by journalist Daniel L'Heureux on the demonstration organized by the Parti Québécois to denounce the adoption of the new Canadian constitution.

Supporters of Quebec sovereignty, gathered within the Parti Québécois, organized major opposition demonstrations, as journalist Daniel L'Heureux reminded us in the Téléjournal of April 17, 1982, hosted by Bernard Derome.

In Montreal, an exceptional event, the entire cabinet of Prime Minister René Lévesque took part in the Quebec march.

Several thousand Parti Québécois supporters strolled near Jeanne-Mance Park to denounce the new Constitution.

This Constitution, says an indignant René Lévesque, “was made without us, against us, behind our backs, and does not belong to us”.

The call of the leader of the Parti Québécois for the independence of Quebec delights the crowd of supporters

We also hear in the words of the Minister of Agriculture of Quebec, Jean Garon, the premises of the creation of a sovereignist party which would fight on the federal political scene.

This idea will be concretized in 1990 during the founding of the Bloc Québécois by Lucien Bouchard.

As for the province of Quebec, it has still not agreed to sign the 1982 Constitution, 40 years after its patriation.

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