Mr. St. Laurent:
January 28, 1935. A committee was set up. It heard witnesses, and on the 19th of June brought in a report making no specific recommendation as to amending procedure, but recommending that a dominion-provincial conference be held to consider the adoption of a recognized yet flexible method of amending the constitution. It further recommended that the minority rights agreed upon and guaranteed by the provisions of the British North America Act should not be interfered with.
The dominion conference was held in 1935, from December 9 to December 13. The conference appointed a subcommittee on constitutional questions to discuss the revision of the British North America Act and to try to reach agreement on future action with respect to social legislation. The subcommittee
submitted a report, and a continuing committee on constitutional questions was set up, which met on January 28, 1936, and constituted a subcommittee which worked on the matter from January 30 until February 11, 1936. This subcommittee prepared a report in which it recommended that in respect of matters concerning the central government only, amendments might be made by passing an act of parliament; that, in respect of matters concerning the central government and one or more but not all the provinces, the amendment might be made by an act of parliament and the assent of the legislative assemblies of each of the provinces affected; that, in respect of a large number of matters concerning the central authority and all the provinces, the amendment might be made by an act of parliament and the assent of the legislative assemblies in two-thirds of the provinces representing at least fifty-five per cent of the population of Canada; but that there be a certain number of "entrenched clauses" which could not be dealt with except by an act of parliament and the assent of the legislative assemblies of all the provinces.
General agreement could not be obtained and the matter was dropped. It received some discussion in 1940 when a proposal to amend the British North America Act was brought forward, and again in 1943, 1946, and 1949, but without any definite results being achieved.
In considering one of these amendments in the British House of Commons Mr. A. P. Herbert was reported as follows:
The necessity for action was clear to everyone. But the view was very general that nothing could be done.
As a matter of fact nothing has been done about that procedure for the eighty-two years which have elapsed since the proclamation of the act on July 1, 1867.
Subtopic: AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION
Sub-subtopic: ADDRESS TO HIS MAJESTY THE KING