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What's the Difference Between a Province and a Territory?

Canada has a constitution - the Constitution Act of 1982.  The constitution talks about all sorts of things, like what our official languages are and what our individual rights are.  The constitution works together with our system of laws to make up the rules of the country.

The constitution also indicates what provinces are a part of Canada and what the powers of those provinces are.  For example, provinces have jurisdiction over education and the environment.

Territories on the other hand are created by Federal Law.

That means the territories have a bit less power than the provinces.  They still have representation in the federal government, but don't have provincial governments.

The biggest difference is that the provinces get to vote on changes to the constitution but the territories do not.

1982 -- Are you sure!?

That's right!  Up until 1982, Canada didn't have a Constitution.  Instead, we had something called the British North America Act.  This Act functioned the same way as the Constitution does, but reflected our continuing close ties to Great Britain.  Up until 1982, most changes to the British North America Act had to be passed by the parliament of Great Britain.

In 1982, under Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, the Constitution Act was passed.  This act did two main things:  it added a Charter of Rights and Freedoms and it made the process of changing the constitution something that Canadians could do on their own.

Canada's Constitutional Documents 
(including the British North America Act)

This is a bit detailed -- younger students will likely find it goes a bit over their head.  I've tried to simplify things as much as possible.

Note:  Up until 1982, everything was known as the British North America Act.  The 1982 Constitution retroactively changed the names of everything.

 

Click here for the Government's official website about the constitution.

 




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