Talk:John A. Macdonald

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Canada is a federation[edit]

An issue has come up about the use of the term "federation". It's true that the term "confederation" is used to describe both the process by which the country was formed ("Confederation occurred on July 1, 1867.") and the addition of new provinces ("Saskatchewan joined Confederation on September 1, 1905."). However, that is a very limited use of the term, and a bit of a historical accident. Professor Peter Hogg, one of Canada's leading constitutional scholars, points out that the Canadian usage of "confederation" in this since does not match political science and constitutional law definitions of a "confederation"; it is simply Canadian usage, and is not used to describe the central government.

Canada certainly is a federation. That is the common term used to describe the central government, and the allocation of powers between the federal government and the provincial governments. See for example, the federal government's own web-pages, summarizing the constitutional structure of the country:

Canada has three levels of government:
provincial or territorial
municipal (city)
Federal government
The Prime Minister heads the federal government based in Ottawa. It deals with national and international matters, such as: [followed by list of enumerated federal powers].

As well, the first volume of Hogg's two volume text on Canadian constitutional law is dedicated entirely to the principles of federalism and the allocation of responsibility between the federal and provincial governments. Chapter 5 is dedicated entirely to "Federalism", while chapter 15 is entitled "Judicial Review on Federal Grounds". The next twenty or so chapters all deal with federal provincial allocation of powers. In his chapter on federalism he states: "It is fair to conclude that the unitary elements of the Canadian Constitution are quite unimportant in relation to the federal elements, and that the Canadian Constitution is federal under any reasonable definition of that term." [my emphasis]

See also Eugene Forsey's booklet, How Canadians Govern Themselves, originally commissioned by the federal government. It is now in its 9th edition and provided online, and free charge in hard copy, by the Library of Parliament. Forsey was one of the leading constitutional authorities by the time of his death. Chapter 2 of the book is simply entitled "A Federal State", and begins: "A federal state is one that brings together a number of different political communities with a common government for common purposes, and separate 'state' or 'provincial' or 'cantonal' governments for the particular purposes of each community. The United States of America, Canada, Australia and Switzerland are all federal states. Federalism combines unity with diversity." [my emphasis]

In conclusion, I would say that Canada is a federation; it has a federal government; and it is incorrect to deny that. Mr Serjeant Buzfuz (talk) 15:02, 11 May 2019 (UTC)

Why use the term at all? What was wrong with Dominion, the term that was changed?--Wehwalt (talk) 15:13, 11 May 2019 (UTC)
Sure, but that's a different issue from denying that Canada is a federation.
The reason is that the use of the term "Dominion" is archaic, and does not reflect modern usage. There is in fact an entire wiki page devoted to the issue of the Name of Canada :). If we're working on an encyclopedia that is meant for general usage, using the modern term to refer to the country is a preferable approach. It avoids confusion and links to modern usage. Mr Serjeant Buzfuz (talk) 15:29, 11 May 2019 (UTC)
I've avoided the term entirely.--Wehwalt (talk) 15:36, 11 May 2019 (UTC)
"Dominion" is/was the countries TITLE denoting an independent Commonwealth realm ..nothing to do with the type of government per say. --Moxy 🍁 15:38, 11 May 2019 (UTC)
I would disagree. It was a comment on the type of government: a semi-autonomous (not independent) country under British control. That's why the term has fallen into disuse, in Canada and all other Commonwealth countries, because of its colonial meaning. It's also why in the final British statute dealing with Canada, the term "Dominion of Canada" was not used. Just "Canada". More recent legislation overrides older legislation. Mr Serjeant Buzfuz (talk) 15:48, 11 May 2019 (UTC)
Perhaps I was not clear here.. I agree with what you're saying. Dominion is not the scholarly term used in describing Canada's type of government... it was a term of Art with a much broader meaning than just government type. My point was that current scholarly terminology used is to refer to Canada as a federation and not a Confederation or Dominion.--Moxy 🍁 20:10, 11 May 2019 (UTC)

The Province of Canada was split into Quebec and Ontario[edit]

An issue has arisen about the creation of Ontario and Quebec in 1867. It is not the case that Canada East and Canada West were turned into Quebec and Ontario. Rather, the old Province of Canada entered into union with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and in the process was split into Quebec and Ontario. The relevant sections are sections 3, 4, 5 and 6 of the Constitution Act, 1867. There is no mention of Canada East or Canada West in the Constitution Act, 1867, nor in the predecessor legislation, the Union Act, 1840. They were simply administrative regions in the Province of Canada, without their own legislatures. All local laws were passed by the Parliament of the Province of Canada. The reference in this article therefore should be to Quebec and Ontario being formed from the old Province of Canada. Mr Serjeant Buzfuz (talk) 15:22, 11 May 2019 (UTC)

Correct Province of Canada was created by the Act of Union 1840 ..replaced the separation of the old Upper and Lower Canada or newly named East-West Jim Lightbody (1 December 2005). City Politics, Canada. University of Toronto Press. pp. 138–. ISBN 978-1-4426-0851-1..--Moxy 🍁 15:29, 11 May 2019 (UTC)


I cannot find any reliable source supporting the claim that John A. was a KCMG. Many sources cite KCB in 1867, which later (in 1884 according to the Dictionary of Canadian Biography) was upgraded to GCB, but no mention to St. Michael and St. George. He is also not in the list of Canadian members of the order (where you can find Tupper and Abbot but the only Macdonald is Donald Alexander). Can anybody shed a light on this issue? --Deinocheirus (talk) 00:24, 9 December 2019 (UTC)

It was added by an IP years ago.[1] I've removed it. DrKay (talk) 09:11, 14 December 2019 (UTC)