30th Anniversary of the Patriation of the Canadian Constitution

17 04 2012

Today is the 30th anniversary of the “patriation” of the Canadian constitution from Britain, which meant that the British parliament would no longer have to rubber-stamp amendments to it. More significantly, a written bill of rights, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, was inserted into Canada’s constitution at that time. Historian Matt Hayday has a blog post marking the anniversary.

Tonight, the Canadian TV channel TVO will broadcast an interview with former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien about patriation.  This is how they are promoting the show:

“Could Canada have unilaterally declared independence in 1982 if Britain refused pass the new Canadian Constitution? Former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien says: yes.”

I’m not an expert in recent  Canadian political history. However, this strikes me as a really a stupid question, as there is no way that Britain would have refused to pass the required legislation had it been requested by Canada’s federal government, with or without the consent of some or all of the provincial governments. It was a pure formality.