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Sir John A. Macdonald

From the Red River Settlement to Manitoba (1812–70)

Sir Wilfrid Laurier

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The Charlottetown and Quebec Conferences of 1864

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Constitutional Battles over Provincial Rights
 

The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London, which, until 1949, was the ultimate authority for certain legal appeals originating in Canada, made a number of rulings in the years after confederation that allowed for greater provincial autonomy. One of its key decisions concerned the Citizens’ Insurance case, in which the Privy Council expanded the provinces’ jurisdiction over property and civil rights. Among the opponents of this ruling was John Wellington GWYNNE, a strong centralist whom Sir John A. MACDONALD had appointed to the Supreme Court in 1879:

“[In] 1889 Gwynne had called the Privy Council ‘the dispensers of the Prerogative ... of dispensing with the BNA Act’; ‘Old as I am,’ he told Gowan, ‘I fully expect that both you and I shall be present as mourners at the funeral of Confederation cruelly murdered in the house of its friends.’”


For more on the legal battles over the division of federal and provincial powers, consult the biographies listed below.


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