Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Statute of Westminster

It is the 80th anniversary of the Statute of Westminster. Today Canada and the other Dominions achieved independence with no violence and in a spirit of unity and friendship.

Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on the 80th anniversary of the Statute of Westminster

December 11, 2011
Ottawa, Ontario

Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued the following statement to mark the 80th anniversary of the Statute of Westminster:
“Today we mark the 80th anniversary of the Statute of Westminster, one of the most important documents in our country’s history.

"The Statute removed the United Kingdom's ability to make laws for Canada, effectively enshrining Canada's equal status as a nation.

“This important milestone reminds us foremost of how Canadians who came before us earned our country’s independence through bravery and merit, particularly in World War I.

“On this day I encourage all Canadians to explore this remarkable document which remains a pillar of our peaceful and prosperous democracy.”

80th Anniversary of the Statute of Westminster, 1931

Today is the 80th anniversary of the Statute of Westminster, 1931, the Act of the United Kingdom Parliament that established legislative equality between the UK and all of the self-governing dominions within the British Empire. Although Canadians (1867), Australians (1788) and New Zealanders (1840) claim different years of foundation and choose to celebrate their national "Dominion/Canada Day", "Australia Day" and "Waitangi Day" birthdays on the anniversary of this foundation date (Canada - 1 July, enactment of the British North America Act, a.k.a. the Constitution Act, 1867; New Zealand - 6 February, signing of the Treaty of Waitangi; and Australia - 26 January, the proclamation of British sovereignty upon the landing of the British First Fleet in Sydney Cove) the more accurate "Independence Day" for these nations is today, 11th December (although it should be noted that, whilst the Statute automatically applied to Canada, South Africa and the Irish Free State, it had to be ratified separately by the parliaments of Australia, New Zealand and Newfoundland).

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