Unity, Diversity and Justice

a virtual exhibition from the Diefenbaker Center Canada



… our truly Canadian Constitution is important to every citizen, containing as it does many of the long-established provisions that form the foundations of our society and of the laws under which we construct our affairs. …

Most of the rights and freedoms we are enshrining in the Charter are not totally new and different. Indeed, Canadians have tended to take most of them for granted over the years. The difference is that now they will be guaranteed by our Constitution, and people will have the power to appeal to the courts….

(Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada)

The Canada Act, 1982 “patriated” or “brought home” from Britain the Canadian Constitution, which had previously been part of the British North America Act (BNA Act). The Canada Act enabled the Canadian government to make amendments to the Constitution without having to petition the British parliament for consent, as had been required by the BNA Act. Patriating the Constitution granted Canada full sovereignty through the power to oversee its own constitution.

In order to meet the requirements of the Official Languages Act, the Constitution Act, 1982 and the Canada Act were written in both English and French. They were the first pieces of British legislation to be printed in two languages since the medieval era.

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