Monday, June 23, 2008

Des Morton on the history of the constitution

June's Policy Options magazine offers a download of Desmond Morton's irony-laced reflections on Canadian constitutional history in a talk to constitutional law students. His thesis that confederation was something stage-managed by the British and mostly driven by the US Civil War seems to me a bit, ah,... evidence-challenged. The federalism-for-Rep-by-Pop deal between George Brown and George Etienne Cartier in the spring of 1864, made entirely for domestic reasons, was surely a more direct cause.

Not that the Brits were cool to confederation. But British historian Ged Martin in Britain and the Origin of Canadian Confederation a decade ago demonstrated that Britain had a rather limited role in creating confederation, despite its sympathetic interest in the process. Some reviewers, however, seemed to read the title and assume Martin had proved Britain was the origin.
Follow @CmedMoore