A celebration of the Constitution of Canada from Sea to Sea – stretching from the Atlantic, to the Arctic, to the Pacific
The year 2017 marks a significant moment in the History of Canada. 150 years ago, Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia united to create the Canadian Confederation, called the Dominion of Canada. Or rather, what we’ve come to call Confederation. Canada is actually a federation, but the term Confederation caught on in the 19th century and it stuck.
On account of the British North America Act that became law July 1st 1867, these British colonies would be recognized as an independent nation. In the years that followed, the other provinces and territories joined the Dominion, making todays Canada A Mari Usque Ad Mare (“from sea to sea”).
Notes for an address by The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, PC, QC, MP
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
To the 2017 Lord Speaker’s Lecture Series
Palace of Westminster, House of Lords – Queen’s Robing Room, London, United Kingdom
July 4, 2017
“As a former British colony, Canada’s history as a nation is intimately intertwined with yours. Our country is celebrating two historical milestones this year, both of which the UK played an important role in. The first is Confederation – the birth of “Canada” as a country – which happened in 1867, 150 years ago, with your Parliament’s passing of the British North America Act.
The second is Repatriation – which happened only 35 years ago, when our Constitution, through the leadership of the first Prime Minister Trudeau, was brought home from the UK. With repatriation came our adoption of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms – a rights-protecting constitutional document that underpins Canada’s modern legal system – as well as an express affirmation within our Constitution of the rights of Indigenous peoples.
Many of the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Charter are formulated in language that reflects the wording in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including:
- the fundamental freedoms of expression, association, religion and conscience, and peaceful assembly;
- the rights to life, liberty, and security of the person;
- criminal justice rights; and
- equality rights.
Other aspects of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms signal the special emphasis that we – as a country – place on the recognition of rights:
- our official language rights;
- our minority language educational rights; and
- our commitment to multiculturalism.
I like to think of myself as an ambassador for the Charter. With a statutory duty to ensure that all laws and policies, and all litigation decisions of the government, uphold the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
Canada’s 150th birthday
Canada’s progress from a loose association of provinces governed by London to a nation that extends A Mari Usque Ad Mare — or more properly, “from sea to sea to sea” — has served as an inspiration to movements for democratic reform throughout the world.
Throughout 2017, communities across the country will be celebrating the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Federation. From arts and culture festivals, to fireworks, exhibitions and sporting events, the country will come together to toast the nation’s sesquicentennial birthday, and show our national spirit and pride!
Call it Canada 150 or simply 2017, this year is an occasion to reflect back and look forward; 2017 marks 150 years since a turning point in history, but the future is ever open.