British North America Act


British North America Act
   The constitution of the Dominion; the Act by which the scattered colonies of British North America were united in one Confederation. Drafted at the Quebec Conference, 1864; discussed and passed in the form of resolutions, in the Legislature of Canada, 1865; put in final shape at the Westminster Conference, 1866; passed by the Imperial Parliament, and proclaimed, 1867. The essential feature of this Act, and that which distinguishes it most clearly from the Constitution of the United States, is the provision that all matters not specifically assigned to the provinces belong to the Dominion, the reverse being the case under the United States Constitution. Broadly speaking, the Act gives the Dominion exclusive jurisdiction over the regulation of trade and commerce, the postal service, customs and inland revenue, military and naval service, navigation and shipping, currency and coinage, banking, weights and measures, patents and copyrights, naturalization, Indians. To the provinces it gives exclusive jurisdiction over direct taxation, management and sale of public lands, timber, provincial prisons, hospitals, asylums, etc., municipal institutions, administration of justice, education.
   Index: Md Conference in London--Macdonald's letter to Tilley, 125-126; the sixty-nine resolutions passed, 126; draft bill drawn up--completed bill submitted to House, and received royal assent, March 29, 1867, 127; royal proclamation fixes July 1 as date upon which it should come into force, 127; opposition develops in Maritime Provinces, 129; provides for Intercolonial Railway, 151; and acquisition of North-West Territories, 156; question of legislative union, 245; federal system introduced by, 250; provincial rights under, 253; the franchise, 258. C Delegation sent to London to see it through Parliament, 67; proposal to amend it in the interests of the New Brunswick Roman Catholics, 77, 82; strained relations of Macdonald and Cartier over terms of, 102-103. H Passed by Imperial Parliament, 192; opposed by Joseph Howe, 192; its repeal sought by Nova Scotia Anti-Confederates, 204. T Quietly received in New Brunswick, 127.
   Bib.: Bourinot, Constitution of Canada; Houston, Constitutional Documents; Doutre, Constitution of Canada; Munro, Constitution of Canada; Ashley, Constitutional History of Canada; Gooch, Manual of the Constitution of Canada; Howland, The New Empire; Confederation Debates, 1865; Pope, Confederation Documents.

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