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January 2, 2013
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v2.1 Reference

Canada's Constitutional Revolution

From 1960 to 1982 Barry L. Strayer was instrumental in the design of The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the patriation of Canada's Constitution. Here Dr. Strayer shares his experiences as a key legal advisor with a clear, personal voice that yields an insightful contribution to Canadian history and political memoir. He discusses the personal philosophies of Pierre Trudeau and F.R. Scott in addition to his meticulous accounts of the events and people involved in Canada's constitutional reform, and the consequences of that reform, which reveal that it was truly a revolution. This is an accessible primary source for experts and non-specialists interested in constitutional history studies, political history of patriation and The Charter, interpretation of The Charter, and the nature of judicial review.

About the Author

The Honourable Barry L. Strayer is a retired Judge of the Federal Court, both Trial Division and Court of Appeal and a former Chief Justice, Court Martial Appeal Court. An expert on constitutional law and reform, he lives in Ottawa.


"The Hon. Barry L. Strayer was instrumental in designing Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the 1982 repatriation of the Constitution. In Canada's Constitutional Revolution, the retired federal court judge recalls his involvement as a legal adviser during the period of constitutional reform from 1960 to '82." Quill & Quire"[On April 27, 1982, Queen Elizabeth signed the Constitution Act on Parliament Hill.] For nearly 15 years [Barry Strayer] had toiled mightily in the labyrinthine structures of federal constitutional planning and in the chambers of federal-provincial negotiations to get to just this moment. In Ottawa that day Canada's sovereignty was formalized; it gained untrammelled authority over its own constitution and it declared its subscription to human rights. Strayer was crucial to the federal government's constitutional endeavours, from policy consulting with the prime minister to reassuring parliamentarians, to preparing court cases, to organizing strategic planning and the writing of constitutional drafts. He was at the very centre of Canada's modern constitutional moment." John D. Whyte, Literary Review of Canada, May 2013"...a cogent, thorough, and diverting narrative of his time as a top-level constitutional advisor to the Lester B. Pearson and Pierre Trudeau Liberal governments.... In broad terms, the book is a meditation on the intellectual and political complexity of the transition, in a federal system, from a regime of legislative supremacy to one of constitutional supremacy..... The tone of the book is principally serious and scholarly, and provides a detailed and technical first-hand analysis of the development of the Charter and the Canada Act 1982."—Tom O'Hara, Saskatchewan Law Review"Barry L. Strayer's book about the formation of Canada's present constitutional order, and his own role in it, joins a short and distinctive shelf of similarly erudite yet also entertaining legal memoirs.... What could easily have been an unrelievedly ponderous exposition of constitutional law and history is leavened by Strayer's disarmingly informal and witty recollections of the leading personalities in Canadian politics from the 1950s to the 1980s.... Canada's constitutional revolution has worked overwhelmingly positive changes for that country, advancing the dignity and stature of a great nation and providing a globally relevant model for protecting human rights and individual freedom. For that and other reasons, Judge Strayer can look back with pride on his life's work." [Full review at]—Bryan H. Wildenthal, H-Net Reviews
University of Alberta Press

9780888646491 : canadas-constitutional-revolution-strayer
Paperback / softback
360 Pages
$38.99 USD

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