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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Constance Backhouse recipient of 2013 Governor General's Persons Case Award

Celebrated Canadian legal historian Constance Backhouse is one of five recipients of the Governor General's award in commemoration of the "Persons Case" for 2013.  For our non-Canadian readers, the Persons Case, more formally known as Edwards v. Canada (Attorney General) declared that the term 'person' in the British North America Act (then the Constitution of Canada) included women. Since 1979 the Governor General has made this award yearly to five women who have contributed to the legal and social advancement of Canadian women in honour of the famous five who were the applicants in the case, a constitutional reference to the Supreme Court of Canada (which found against them) and then appellants to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, then the final court of appeal for Canada, where they were successful in October of 1929. For those interested, the case, the famous five, and the enunciation of the principle of the 'living tree' by Lord Sankey, whereby the constitution is to be interpreted as a growing document (the opposite of U.S. 'originalism') are the subject of the book The Persons Case: The Origins and Legacy of the Fight for Legal Personhood (Toronto: The Osgoode Society and University of Toronto Press, 2007), by Robert J. Sharpe and Patricia McMahon.

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