Widespread Ignorance About the History of the Canadian Constitution :Cui Bono?

14 12 2011

The passage of the Statute of Westminster on 11 December 1931 was an important milestone in Canadian political history, as it marked the effective end of Canada’s subordination to Britain. Indeed, it was a turning point in the history of the British Empire as a whole, for it dramatically limited the authority of the British parliament over Canada and the other “white Dominions”. Every American schoolchild knows that the Fourth of July 1776 marked the independence of the United States. Perhaps because the process by which Canada, Australia, and the other Dominions became independent was more gradual, few of the dates associated with the equivalent process are remembered in those countries.

I wasn’t expecting a lot of fanfare about the 80th anniversary of the Statute of Westminster. I am, however, shocked and saddened by precisely how little attention was paid to the anniversary. It is striking the 80th anniversary of the Statute passed largely unnoticed both in Britain and the former Dominions. A Google News search reveals only four stories about the anniversary of the Statute, all from Canadian newspapers and blogs. The office of the Canadian Prime Minister emailed out a brief statement on the anniversary, but I’m certain that it will be ignored, as are most of the press releases politicians issue on anniversaries. I’m surprised that Historica and the other Canadian history organizations didn’t use this anniversary as a teachable moment to educate Canadians about the history of their constitution.

The shocking ignorance of their own history that Canadians sometimes display is quite appalling. We also need to ask who might benefit from keeping Canadians ignorant of the history of their written and unwritten constitution. Cui bono?

You can read more about the Statute here.


Here are the four items that showed up in my Google News search.


Royal Canadian Navy on the West Coast To Fly Union Jack on Sunday For Anniversary

Ottawa Citizen (blog) – ‎Dec 10, 2011‎

ESQUIMALT, BC – Canada’s development as an independent nation is marked Sunday, when Royal Canadian Navy ships alongside, fly the Royal Union Flag from the masthead from sunrise to sunset. Dec. 11 is the Statute of Westminster Day, the 80th anniversary 

Navy ships to fly British flag – for one day only

Victoria Times Colonist – ‎Dec 10, 2011‎

The Union Jack flag will fly from Royal Canadian Navy ships and some federal buildings Sunday to mark Statute of Westminster Day. The anniversary refers to an important event in Canadian history – on Dec. 11, 1931, the British parliament passed 

Happy 80th Birthday, Statute of Westminster

Globe and Mail – ‎Dec 9, 2011‎

On Sunday, Canada will observe the 80th anniversary of the Statute of Westminster by flying the Union Jack once again, alongside the Maple Leaf, on many Government of Canada buildings. It is a modest gesture for a significant anniversary. 

Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued the following statement to mark the 80th 

Eesti elu – ‎Dec 11, 2011‎

“Today we mark the 80th anniversary of the Statute of Westminster, one of the most important documents in our country’s history. “The Statute removed the United Kingdom ‘s ability to make laws for Canada , effectively enshrining Canada ‘s equal status 



One response

1 08 2013
Kathleen Moore


A coup d’état in the planning stage. Actually, well past the planning stage. They’re talking strategy and how to get away with it. Use the people as the front; use the sitting government and its institutions as the front. Diplomatic initiatives, in particular to France and USA to stabilize international opinion.

In the end, Mrs. Windsor helped them out and gave them her front. In contrast, of course, to her declining to be the queen of the “new” constitution of Southern Rhodesia in 1965. This time, Madam accepted! But, this time, it wasn’t a colony.

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