Talk:Constitution Act, 1867

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On 31 July 2004, this page was nominated for deletion. As a result of the debate, it has been redirected to British North America Acts. See Wikipedia:Votes for deletion/Constitution Act, 1867 for a record of the discussion. Rossami 22:39, 11 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I'm going to have to strongly disagree on this vote. The Act is without question the most important Act in Canada, and it should be beyond debate whether it should stay or not. It is the Act from which the government derives all of its power to make law, which makes it no less important than the US constitution. As regards to the name of the article, it is hardly spliting hairs to call it Constitution Act, 1867 as that's its official name. With the patriation of the Constitution, the BNA Act effectively does not exist anymore, so it's incorrect to call the current Act anything other than the Constitution Act, 1867. -- PullUpYourSocks 22:06, 20 September 2005 (UTC)
I should further add that the two documents are not exactly the same. The Constitution Act, 1867 has had several amendments to it and so looks a bit different. -- PullUpYourSocks 22:57, 26 September 2005 (UTC)
Sorry, guys, but although I strongly agree with having an article under the title Constitution Act, 1867 (and it's unlikely anyone would VfD this, since the new version establishes notability and the last one didn't, and since the old version wasn't even deleted but merely turned into a redirect), I was bold and went ahead and merged British North America Act 1867 into this. I did this because having two articles on two different names of largely the same law, as well as articles on the British North America Acts, Canadian Confederation, and the History of the Constitution of Canada, was becoming too complex and too confusing. IMO, there's nothing wrong with having a little history in this article, just like he have a history in Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and history sections in our Charter sections 1, 15 and 28 articles. This article wasn't too big for it; it also describes a lot of what's still in the Constitution Act, 1867. CanadianCaesar 03:57, 30 September 2005 (UTC)


Preamble out of date:::

How could it *not* be out of date? It was written in the 1860s. --Ggbroad 21:55, 1 January 2007 (UTC)

See constitutional amendment and Amendments to the Constitution of Canada re: how to update and improve constitutions. CanadianCaesar Et tu, Brute? 22:07, 1 January 2007 (UTC)
K., but just wondering how one guy's opinion on the preamble is relevant to an encyclopedic article on what is probably the most important single constitutional document in Canadian history. --Ggbroad 22:31, 1 January 2007 (UTC)
Encyclopedic articles, being tertiary sources, often report academic analysis. CanadianCaesar Et tu, Brute? 22:34, 1 January 2007 (UTC)
It's unclear from the quotation what the author means by it being out of date. But I'm glad he was further quoted as noting the preamble is uninspired. I truly thought I was missing something! In search of an inspiring passage, I read a good portion of the Act, only to be left bereft of any moving words. Hoping to find a glorious section to use for patriotic effect, I've come away empty, and will have to look elsewhere. It's disappointing to discover our founding document is nothing but legaleeze. Where's the soaring rhetoric, the zeal, the grandiosity of founding a new nation? Yoho2001 (talk) 11:03, 6 February 2011 (UTC)

BNA is still valid legislation in the UK[edit]

I discovered recently that the "British North America Act 1867" is still technically in force under current UK legislation (under the original name, as opposed to the Constitution Act). Here is the text as it currently stands. A footnote has been added to the introduction, stating, "The Act is not necessarily in the form in which it is in force in Canada." When laws are repealed, the text is normally removed or edited in the Statute Law Database: look at the gaps in Magna Carta, for example. I don't understand why the BNA was not repealed in 1982, since none of its provisions are relevant within the UK's modern jurisdiction. Anyhow, perhaps this curiosity should be mentioned in the text? Mtford 22:40, 13 October 2007 (UTC)

It has to remain in force under UK law to clarify the UK's position with regards to Canada since it was once a British colony. (talk) 22:40, 19 January 2009 (UTC)

This is untrue; all that's necessary at most from the UK point of view is the relevant section of the Canada Act 1982. I suspect that the failure to repeal (so far) is simply conservatism on the part of the Law Commission when it comes to legislation of constitutional significance. (talk) 17:30, 26 October 2009 (UTC).

Manifest Destiny[edit]

I put a "citation needed" tag after the assertion that the BNA was a response to Manifest Destiny. This may well be the case, but it came more than 50 years after the last invasion attempt and at a time when the US was not in a position to invade. It therefore seems dubious enough to me to flagged. -Rrius (talk) 12:44, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

Poor writing irony[edit]

The segment: Political scientist Rand Dyck has criticized the preamble, saying it is "seriously out of date." Thus, he claims the Constitution Act, 1867 "lacks an inspirational introduction." is ironically not written well. How does being out of date "thusly" (i.e. intuitively) bring one into the idea of the next sentence that it therefore "lacks an inspirational introduction.". It is written in a poor way to express the ideas of the political scientist. Who was, ironically, critiquing the poor writing of the Act. (talk) 17:57, 20 November 2008 (UTC)

Agreed. As written, it fails to explain why the author thinks it's out of date, and how that's connected to the sadly uninspired prose of the preamble. See discussion above on Preamble, for more. Yoho2001 (talk) 11:05, 6 February 2011 (UTC)

Citation of the Act[edit]

I reverted the changes to the citation recently made by Hebggd, who added the reference to the British North America Act as a separate citation to the British statute volume, and moved the reference to the Revised Statutes of Canada to follow the Constitution Act. The reason for this is that since this is a page dealing with the Act as part of the Constitution of Canada, in my opinion the only name that should be cited is the "Constitution Act, 1867". That is the name of the Act as provided by the Schedule to the Constitution Act, 1982. As well, the reference to the British statute volume is still the official cite for the Act; the citation to the Appendix to the RSC is simply a parallel citation, and is optional. Thus, the normal way to cite the Act in Canada is : Constitution Act, 1867, 30 & 31 Victoria, c. 3 (U.K.), R.S.C. 1985, App. II, No. 11. Mr Serjeant Buzfuz (talk) 15:42, 22 January 2012 (UTC)

I have to disagree with Mr Sergeant Buzfuz on his reversion of my change. He states "the British statute volume is still the official cite for the Act" and this is correct. But if one were to then check the citation in the British statutes, one would not find any reference to the "Constitution Act, 1867" -- just "The British North America Act, 1867". The purpose of a cite is to enable someone to look it up. The cite as changed by Mr Sergeant Buzfuz would be confusing to anyone who was not familiar with the name change and tried to look up the British statute in the U.K. Therefore, in my opinion, whenever the BNA Act is referred to with the British cite, the British name should be used. I think an appropriate reference in Canada when wishing to include a cite is "Constitution Act, 1867 (The British North America Act, 1867, 30 & 31 Victoria, c. 3 (U.K.))" or "Constitution Act, 1867, R.S.C. 1985, App. II, No. 11". The renaming of the BNA Act "only in Canada" (pity!) -- the Schedule only applies in Canada -- was an unusual thing for the drafters (Justice Canada lawyers) to do. Hebbgd (talk) 15:00, 16 March 2012 (UTC)

• obviously a point on which we can disagree, but I think it is preferable to follow the citation style used by the federal Department of Justice on their website: "THE CONSTITUTION ACT, 1867, 30 & 31 Victoria, c. 3. (U.K.)". Do you have a style guide or citation manual which supports your proposed method of citation? Mr Serjeant Buzfuz (talk) 19:19, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
  • May I suggest the suggested citation in the McGill Guide (which is generally followed for Wikipedia articles on Canadian legal topics)? From the section on Constitutional Statutes: "Constitution Act, 1867 (U.K.), 30 & 31 Vict., c. 3, reprinted in R.S.C. 1985, App. II, No. 5." Hebbgd's objection (that there is no UK statute under that name) was taken into account in the McGill Guide. From the Guide's commentary: "Many constitutional statues were enacted under different names than those used today. Consult the Schedule to the Constitution Act, 1982 to determine the new title for the statute, and use the new title. If necessary for the argument, provide the old title in parentheses at the end of the citation." Singularity42 (talk) 15:19, 19 March 2012 (UTC)

UK Statute Law Database[edit]

I have added a link to the original as enacted in the UK Statute Law Database. It is UK legislation and it is standard practice on the English Wikipedia to link to the Law Database for UK legislation. Second, it gives alternative annotations which are in my opinion superior to the "Justice Laws Website" ( because not only do they go into more detail but it provides actual hyperlinks to the amending statutes (although many are so old it does not contain the text, but even then it contains inbound links to the missing legislation, which is still nice.) I have linked to the original so as to avoid post-1982 amendment issues as even the amended version in the UK Statute Law Database does not include these; but readers will still be able to find pre-1982 amendments from the revised version link on that page. The UK Statute Database also allows other niceties, like allowing single page viewing and RDF/XML data

curl -L -H "Accept: application/rdf+xml"

Int21h (talk) 18:42, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

Inaccurate addition to the start[edit]

I believe that the following at the start of the article is not correct: "In actuality, the Act stands above the 1982 repatriation attempt, which cannot stand in place of the Act, as the province of Quebec declined to support the 1982 Constitution proposal. Two further attempts were made to return to Canada a constitution, in 1989, and 1992. Both efforts failed. Therefore, without regard to the name given to the Constitution, the BNA Act stands as law, and is so acknowledged by the present Federal Government." This is because the patriation "attempt" and "proposal" in 1982 was, as far as I can find, successful and legal. This is also because, despite the fact Quebec did not approve of the "attempt" at patriation, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled, in the Quebec Veto Reference that Quebec could not veto a Constitutional amendment, and that it never had the power, under statute or convention, to exercise such a veto, and that the Constitution Act 1982 bound Quebec as it did all the other provinces. The BNA Act has, ever since 1982, been the Constitution Act 1982 lawfully, and not a "law", but a part of the Canadian constitution. (talk) 07:52, 8 June 2015 (UTC)

Agreed. The impugned addition is a bit silly and has no basis in law. I will remove it. (talk) 01:26, 13 June 2015 (UTC)


a) why is this article not called by the actual name (the British North America Act) and b) why is there nothing about the history surrounding its enactment? john k (talk) 14:38, 28 November 2017 (UTC)

Pls read the lead and follow the see also links for more info.--Moxy (talk) 15:34, 28 November 2017 (UTC)
a) I am dubious of using the retroactive renaming of a law still commonly called by its original name in historical works. b) nothing about history in the lead. External links don't substitute for information in wikipedia. john k (talk) 16:27, 6 December 2017 (UTC)
The official name of the act is the "Constitution Act, 1867", as cited in Note #2 of the Constitution of Canada. While it is still widely refereed to as the "British North America Act", this is not its legal name. Mediatech492 (talk) 00:49, 7 December 2017 (UTC)
The article British North America Acts suggests that "Constitution Act" is a retroactive name, adopted in Canada some time long after the act's original adoption by the British Parliament. I am not certain why the Canadian parliament, in the 20th century, has the authority to rename acts of the British parliament passed in 1867. john k (talk) 04:29, 9 December 2017 (UTC)
The BNA Act, 1867 was re-named by the Constitution Act, 1982, s 52 and Schedule. The Constitution Act, 1982 was enacted by the British Parliament, as part of the Canada Act 1982. Mr Serjeant Buzfuz (talk) 04:58, 9 December 2017 (UTC)
Okay. So for purposes of current law, it is the Constitution Act. I'm still dubious of the idea that a 100+ year old law's retroactive renaming should take precedence. At any rate, my main point was much more about the question of how there is no history than the title. john k (talk) 19:44, 9 December 2017 (UTC)
Understood. However, in all Canadian court cases since 1982, the term Constitution Act, 1867 is used, and therefore that is the term used in wiki articles on those cases. It would not be helpful if the old name were used for this article, with wikilinks to it from the articles on those cases using the new name. Consistency in use is important for the readers of wikipedia who may not have a strong legal or historical background. See: Reference re Securities Act and Reference re Assisted Human Reproduction. Mr Serjeant Buzfuz (talk) 22:46, 9 December 2017 (UTC)
There are of course other articles that will use "British North America Act" to refer to the law, so that doesn't seem dispositive. Anyway, don't really care about the title that much. The lack of any history section (or any obvious link to another article that covers the history) remains troubling. Not only is the broader historical context completely absent, we don't even get any legislative history, down to not even providing any actual dates for the enactment. I see that some of this is covered in Canadian Confederation, so I'll add a prominent link. john k (talk) 08:43, 13 December 2017 (UTC)

Canadian citation practice[edit]

@Helmfr00: Just spent several minutes restoring Canadian citation style to statutes of the Canadian Constitution and Canadian cases after series of changes were made. Please familiarize yourself with Canadian citation practices before making major changes. Good starting point is the Schedule to the Constitution Act, 1982, with the formal names of all the constitutional statutes; could also check out the McGill Guide to Canadian Legal Citation. Our Constitution is Canadian, not British, so British statute citation practices don't apply. Mr Serjeant Buzfuz (talk) 06:37, 20 October 2018 (UTC)

@Helmfr00: I just realized that we went through this same process back in January, 2018:,_1867&diff=next&oldid=821529895 . Please don't make any further changes without discussing here on the Talk page. thanks! Mr Serjeant Buzfuz (talk) 15:11, 20 October 2018 (UTC)

Unnecessary italics[edit]

Why do the words Act and Charter keep appearing in italics? We don't do this in other articles. Let's take them out. Richard75 (talk) 11:47, 23 May 2020 (UTC)

Canadian practice is that "Charter" is generally italicised, when speaking of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to highlight that it is the constitutional document being cited. Based on WP:MOS/Legal, which encourages the use of citation practices based on the country in question, I would suggest we keep Charter italicised. (Doing a quick search, I see that the article is not consistent in its italicisation; I would suggest italicising Charter throughout.) With respect to "Act", stylistic practices differ in Canada. Sometimes, when wanting to highlight that the same Act is being discussed throughout a judgment or article, references to the main Act are italicised, instead of citing the Act by its full title each time. Others, however, instead use an acronym to refer to the main Act. Given that this article really only talks about one Act, I think that it's sufficient to capitalise it, but not italicise it. I wold also take out the parenthetical "the Act" in the lead sentence. This isn't a law review article, which is where that practice comes from. I think it's pretty obvious that a reference to the Act in the article is referring to the Constitition Act, 1867. Would be interested to hear others' viewpoints. Mr Serjeant Buzfuz (talk) 17:38, 23 May 2020 (UTC)