Constitution Act, 1982

The Constitution Act, 1982 (French: Loi constitutionnelle de 1982) is a part of the Constitution of Canada.[lower-alpha 1] The Act was introduced as part of Canada's process of patriating the constitution, introducing several amendments to the British North America Act, 1867, including re-naming it the Constitution Act, 1867.[lower-alpha 2] In addition to patriating the Constitution, the Constitution Act, 1982 enacted the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; guaranteed rights of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada; provided for future constitutional conferences; and set out the procedures for amending the Constitution in the future.

This process was necessary because, after the Statute of Westminster, 1931, Canada decided to allow the British Parliament to temporarily retain the power to amend Canada's constitution, on request from the Parliament of Canada. In 1981, the Parliament of Canada requested that the Parliament of the United Kingdom remove that authority from the UK. The passing of the UK's Canada Act 1982 in March 1982 confirmed the Patriation of the Constitution and transferred to Canada the power of amending its own Constitution.[1]

On April 17, 1982, Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, as well as the Minister of Justice, Jean Chrétien, and André Ouellet, the Registrar General, signed the Proclamation which brought the Constitution Act, 1982 into force.[2][3] The proclamation confirmed that Canada had formally assumed authority over its constitution, the final step to full sovereignty.[lower-alpha 3][lower-alpha 4][1][3][4]

As of 2021, the Government of Quebec has never formally approved of the enactment of the act, though the Supreme Court concluded that Quebec's formal consent was never necessary[5] and 15 years after ratification the government of Quebec "passed a resolution authorizing an amendment."[6] Nonetheless, the lack of formal approval has remained a persistent political issue in Quebec. The Meech Lake and Charlottetown Accords were designed to secure approval from Quebec, but both efforts failed to do so.