Patriation was the political process that led to full Canadian sovereignty, culminating with the Constitution Act, 1982. That Act was necessary because under the Statute of Westminster 1931, with Canada's agreement at the time, the British parliament had retained the power to amend Canada's Constitution Acts (Statute of Westminster sec. 7(1)), and to enact more generally for Canada at the request and with the consent of the Dominion (sec. 4). That authority was removed from the UK by the passing of the Canada Act 1982 on March 29, 1982, by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, as requested by the Parliament of Canada.

Patriation was subsequently confirmed by Canada's Constitution Act, 1982 which was signed by then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and by Elizabeth II, as Queen of Canada, on April 17, 1982, on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa. Queen Elizabeth's constitutional powers over Canada were not affected by the act. Canada has complete sovereignty as an independent country, however, and the Queen's role as monarch of Canada is distinct from her role as the British monarch or the monarch of any of the other Commonwealth realms.

The patriation process saw the provinces granted influence in constitutional matters and resulted in the constitution being amendable by Canada only and according to the its amending formula, with no role for the United Kingdom. Hence, patriation is associated with the establishment of full sovereignty.

The word patriation was coined in Canada as a back-formation from repatriation (returning to one's country). Prior to 1982, power to amend the Canadian constitution was held by the Parliament of the United Kingdom (subject in some respects to request and consent from Canada); hence some have felt that the term patriation was more suitable than the term repatriation (returning something). The term was first used in 1966 by Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson in response to a question in parliament: "We intend to do everything we can to have the constitution of Canada repatriated, or patriated."

From 1867, the Constitution of Canada was primarily contained in the British North America Act, 1867, and other British North America Acts, which were passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Several Canadian prime ministers, starting with William Lyon Mackenzie King in 1927, had made attempts to domesticize the amending formula, but could not obtain agreement with the provincial governments as to how such a formula would work. Thus, even after the Statute of Westminster granted Canada and other Commonwealth nations full legislative independence in 1931, Canada requested that the British North America Act, 1867, be excluded from the laws that were now within Canada's complete control to amend; until 1949, the constitution could only be changed by a further act at Westminster. The British North America (No.2) Act, 1949, granted the Parliament of Canada limited power to amend the constitution in many areas of its own jurisdiction, without involvement of the United Kingdom. The constitution was amended in this manner five times: in 1952, 1965, 1974, and twice in 1975.

Negotiations continued sporadically between federal and provincial governments on the development of a new amending formula in which the United Kingdom would have no part. In the 1960s, efforts by the governments of Prime Ministers John Diefenbaker and Lester Pearson, including the Confederation of Tomorrow conference in Canada's centennial year, culminated in the Fulton–Favreau formula, but without Quebec's endorsement, the patriation attempt failed.

This page was last edited on 27 April 2018, at 13:32.
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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