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The History Of Canada Series: The Last Act: Pierre Trudeau, the Gang of Eight, and the Fight for Canada Hardcover – Apr 5 2011


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The History Of Canada Series: The Last Act: Pierre Trudeau, the Gang of Eight, and the Fight for Canada + The History of Canada Series: The Destiny of Canada: MACDONALD LAURIER AND THE ELECTION OF 1891 + The History of Canada Series: Death or Victory
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: ALLEN LANE; 1st Edition edition (April 5 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670066621
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670066629
  • Product Dimensions: 3 x 15.3 x 22.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 612 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #18,789 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By John F. Brinckman on June 24 2011
This is an excellent account of the complex even byzantine negotiations that brought Canada an amending formula for the constitution with the Constitution Act of 1982, which contains the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Many Canadians found the process boring, but Ron Graham brings the whole thing to life with his insights into the colourful personalities of the participants. The book is an excellent guide to this important series of events in Canadian history.

Other than the essential starting point that the patriation of the constitution from the Parliament of Great Britain to Canada was desirable and necessary, Graham does not take sides. The book is not about political philosophy and the nuances of a federal system. This is perhaps a wise course on his part.

The most important consequence of the new Constitution Act is that 'interpretation' - to be distinguised from 'amendment' - of the constitution is now made by the Supreme Court of Canada. Formerly the constitution was interpreted by the British Privy Council, which because it was removed from the Canadian scene could afford to be objective. It generally found in favour of the provinces. In fact interpretation of the constitution is everything; there will be few attempts to amend it. Trudeau, as a centralist, was determined to reduce the role of the provinces, and by taking the power to interpret it from the Privy Council and turning it over to the Supreme Court, all of whose members are appointed by the Prime Minster, he succeeded.

Graham touches only lightly on what modern political scientists call the 'compact theory' of federalism - which was in fact the Privy Council's interpretation. But it was not just a theory, it was our constitution.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rodge TOP 50 REVIEWER on Oct. 27 2012
This book is a gift to anyone interested in Canadian history. Bias is inevitable of course (Graham is largely supportive of Trudeau), but he is fair minded and clear in presenting the perspectives of the premiers. The negotiations detailed here were complex to say the least, but at the end of it, for better or worse, Canada had its own constitution. Some myths are put to rest here, most notably what really went on during the "night of the long knives". Regardless of your perspective on the action, you will finish more knowledgeable about a key event in Canadian history.
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