Peter H. Russell

in The Oxford Handbook of Canadian Politics

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780195335354
Published online September 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks


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Canada is one of the oldest constitutional democracies in the world. Its founding Constitution, the British North America Act (BNA Act) was enacted by the British Parliament in 1867. While the name, status, and method of amending the Constitution have changed and additions have been made to the Canadian Constitution, the substantive provisions of the original Constitution have changed very little since 1867. Although there has been little change to the founding Constitution, it does not mean that Canada's constitutional system has been frozen in time. This article discusses the evolution, patriation, and developments of the Canadian Constitution. The evolution of the Canadian Constitution has been have been affected not by formal constitutional amendments, but rather by less-formal instruments of constitutional change. These changes include “unwritten” constitutional conventions, changes in political practice, judicial decisions interpreting the constitutional text, and ordinary legislation establishing institutions and regulating governmental practice. These informal changes produced an independent and continental federation Canada that its founding fathers would barely recognize.

Keywords: Canada; Constitution; BNA Act; Canadian Constitution; patriation; developments; constitutional amendment; constitutional conventions

Article.  8805 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Comparative Politics ; Politics and Law

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