Friday December 11, 2020 Smile of the Day: The Statute of Westminster

On this Day:

The Statute of Westminster 1931 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed on Dec. 11, 1931. It originally applied to Canada, Australia, the Irish Free State, New Zealand, Newfoundland (it wasn’t part of Canada at that time) and the Union of South Africa.

I admit it takes someone like a lawyer to appreciate this event as something notable.
Modified versions of this Statute are now domestic law within Australia and Canada; it has been repealed in New Zealand and implicitly in former Dominions that are no longer Commonwealth realms. The act, either immediately or upon ratification, effectively both established the legislative independence of the self-governing Dominions of the British Empire from the United Kingdom and bound them all to seek each other’s approval for changes to monarchical titles and the common line of succession. It thus became a statutory embodiment of the principles of equality and common allegiance to the Crown set out in the Balfour Declaration of 1926.

As the statute removed nearly all of the British parliament’s authority to legislate for the Dominions, it had the effect of making the Dominions largely sovereign nations in their own right. It was a crucial step in the development of the Dominions as separate states.

The Statute of Westminster’s relevance today is that it sets the basis for the relationship between the Commonwealth realms and the Crown. 

After the Statute was passed, the British parliament could no longer make laws for the Dominions, other than with the request and consent of the government of that Dominion. Before then, the Dominions had legally been self-governing colonies of the United Kingdom. However, the statute had the effect of making them sovereign nations once they adopted it.

In Canada, this Statute limited the legislative authority of the British parliament, effectively giving the country legal autonomy as a self-governing Dominion, though the British Parliament retained the power to amend Canada’s constitution at the request of the Parliament of Canada. That authority remained in effect until the Constitution Act, 1982, which transferred it to Canada, the final step to achieving full sovereignty.

The British North America Acts—the written elements (in 1931) of the Canadian constitution—were excluded from the application of the statute because of disagreements between the Canadian provinces and the federal government over how the British North America Acts could be otherwise amended. These disagreements were resolved only in time for the passage of the Canada Act 1982, thus completing the patriation of the Canadian constitution to Canada. At that time, the Canadian parliament also repealed sections 4 and 7(1) of the Statute of Westminster. The Statute of Westminster remains a part of the constitution of Canada by virtue of section 52(2)(b) of the Constitution Act, 1982 (per Wikipedia).

First, a Story:

“May you live as long as you want and not want for as long as you live.” That’s an Irish toast.

“Cinnamon, eggs, bread, and maple syrup.” That’s French Canadian toast.

Second, a Song:

Andrew Gunadie (better known as gunnarolla on YouTube; born February 7, 1986) is a Canadian internet personality, musician, and video producer. Collectively, his YouTube videos have surpassed 10 million views.

In 2013, he won the Digi Award for Online Personality of the Year.

Gunadie gained popularity on YouTube with the release of “Canadian, Please”, a song and music video that he co-produced with Julia Bentley, and released just before Canada Day in 2009.

In the video, the pair sing about all the reasons why one would want to be Canadian, while wearing traditional RCMP jackets. The video went viral soon after its release, and has surpassed 3 million views. On December 20, 2009, Gunadie and Bentley performed the song live at the Olympic Torch Relay in Niagara Falls, Ontario (per Wikipedia).  Here is Gunnarolla and Juilia Bentley performing “Canadian, Please”. I hope you enjoy this!


Thought for the Day:

“I love Canada. I am from Canada. I will bash the Canadian government but never Canada.” – Jason Priestley


Have a great day!

Dave & Colleen

© 2020 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky

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