Dalhousie Law Journal


Eugene Forsey


Macdonald's Constitution, Fathers of Confederation, Judicial Committee of the British Privy Council, Stepfathers of Confederation, new Constitution.


To-night I propose to sing the praises of the Canadian Constitution of 1867. I call it "Macdonald's Constitution" for two reasons. The first is that, though of course it was the work of all the Fathers of Confederation, Macdonald, incontestably, was the chief architect. The second is that what I am concerned to defend is the basic document Macdonald left us: Macdonald's Constitution as distinct from Haldane's; Macdonald's Constitution before it was defaced and ravaged by the Judicial Committee of the British Privy Council; before it was distorted by those wicked Stepfathers of Confederation. Does it need defence? Yes. Against what? Against the demands voiced, notably, by the recent Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Constitution, for a "new Constitution", "a fundamental recasting", "a Constitution rethought and reformulated in terms that are meaningful to Canadians now."' And why are we supposed to need this new Constitution? First, because the Constitution of 1867 (which, despite the Watsons and the Haldanes, remains the basis of our present Constitution) is not "distinctively Canadian";2 because it was "imposed by British overlords", 3 or "granted by a colonial power", 4 or because the Fathers were "thinking as colonials". 5