The case of Re: Resolution to Amend the Constitution occurred in response to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau proposal of the the Constitution Act, 1981. The changes outlined within the Constitution Act included introducing a new formula for constitutional amendments, the introduction a Charter of Rights, and a fiscal equalization principle. Not all provinces however agreed with the proposed Constitution Act, particularly the provinces of Quebec, Manitoba, and Newfoundland.
Initially, these three provinces addressed their concerns with the Constitution Act within their respective provincial appeal courts. The cases were brought to the Supreme Court following their appearance before the provincial appeal courts. For the purpose of the Supreme Court the questions from the three provinces were combined into three main questions that were: will the changes to the constitution impact provincial powers or responsibilities, does the federal government legally require agreement from provinces in order to amend the constitution, and does the federal government need consent from the provinces according to constitutional conventions to amend the constitution. All nine of the Supreme Court justices decided unanimously that the constitutional amendments that were proposed would impact the powers of the provinces.
The judges then determined that the informing the constitutional amendments proposed without convent from the provinces was legal, with 2 dissenting judges. Finally, the court ruled that there was a constitutional convention to receive agreement with the provinces for constitutional amendments, but this was not the role of courts to enforce. 2. Who were the major actors within the case?Both the provincial and federal governments were involved in the court case as the case questioned how Canadian federalism would be modified if the constitution was amended.
This being said however, it was the provincial governments who played the main role within the case as they brought the questions forward about the federal government. 3. What impacts did the case have? The Supreme court case had an impact on the Constitution Act, 1981 because prime minister Trudeau stated that if the amendment was considered unconstitutional by the supreme court that he would not proceed with the Constitution Act. As the Supreme Court decided that the amendments proposed by the federal government were legally acceptable this allowed Trudeau to go forward with the Constitution Act, with both Manitoba and Newfoundland agreeing to sign the charter. 4. Any confusion with the case?I was confused at first in understanding why the cases from Manitoba, Newfoundland, and Quebec were all brought to the supreme court together, as they all had slightly different reference questions. Upon seeing how the Supreme court blended the questions this confusion was alleviated for me.
5. Discussion QuestionDo you agree with the reasoning the justices presented for allowing a decision for constitutional conventions?