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Topic – The Constitution Act, 1982

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The Constitution Act, 1982

What do governments and clubs have in common? They both need a set of basic rules for how the organization is supposed to work. In Canada, we have a constitution. This is a special document that contains all the rules and powers of the government.

Just like the citizens of Canada, the government must obey the laws. If the government passes laws that do not agree with the constitution, the laws are called unconstitutional. Then it is the job of the Supreme Court of Canada to decide if laws agree with the constitution. If the Supreme Court decides the law is unconstitutional, the law is not allowed to come into effect.

British North America Act

Before 1982, Canada’s constitution was the British North America Act. The BNA Act was a special document created in 1867 when Canada was formed. All the details of how the government was organized were outlined in this important document. Canadians did not have the power to change the British North America Act without asking permission of the British government.

The Constitution Act, 1982

In 1982, under the government of Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Canada developed a new constitution. It was signed and made official on April 17, 1982, by Canada’s Queen Elizabeth ІІ. The Constitution Act, 1982, gave Canadians the right to make changes to our government without the permission of the British Government.

Inside the Constitution Act, 1982, there is an important section called the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or “the Charter” for short. The Charter lists certain fundamental rights for Canadians that cannot be interfered with or taken away by the government.


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