Constitutional Act, 1791: Document

Selected text of the Constitutional Act, 1791:

an amendment of the Quebec Act designed to apply the British constitution as nearly as possible to colonial conditions without affecting the guaranteed rights of French Canadians. Note should be taken of the failure to define the role of the Executive Council and the ambiguity of the provisions for the Clergy Reserves. (What was meant by a "Protestant" clergy?) These flaws in the Act paved the way for much of the controversy that was to engulf the Canadas.

II. And whereas his Majesty has been pleased to signify, by his message to both Houses of Parliament, his Royal intention to divide his Province of Quebec into two separate Provinces, to be called the Province of Upper Canada and the Province of Lower Canada: Be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, that there shall be within each of the said Provinces respectively a Legislative Council and an Assembly, to be severally composed and constituted in the manner hereinafter described; and that in each of the said Provinces respectively, His Majesty, His Heirs, or Successors, shall have power during the continuance of this Act, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Council and Assembly of such Provinces respectively, to make laws for the peace, welfare and good Government thereof, ...

III. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that for the purpose of constituting such Legislative Council, as aforesaid, in each of the said Provinces respectively, it shall and may be lawful for his Majesty, his heirs, or successors, by an instrument under his or their sign manual, to authorize and direct the Governor or Lieutenant-Governor, or person administering the Government, in each of the said Provinces respectively, ... to summon to the said Legislative Council, to be established in each of the said Provinces respectively, a sufficient number of discreet and proper persons, being not fewer than seven, to the Legislative Council for the Province of Upper Canada, and no fewer than fifteen to the Legislative Council for the Province of Lower Canada; ...

V. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that every member of each of the said Legislative Councils shall hold his seat therein for the term of his life, ...

XIII. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that for the purpose of constituting such Assembly as aforesaid in each of the said Provinces respectively, it shall and may be lawful for his Majesty, his heirs or successors, by an instrument under his or their sign manual, to authorize and direct the Governor or Lieutenant-Governor, or person administering the Government in each of the said Provinces respectively, ... to summon and call together an Assembly in and for such Province.

XXVI. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that it shall and may be lawful for his Majesty, his heirs, or successors, to authorize the Governor or Lieutenant-Governor of each of the said Provinces respectively, or the person administering the Government therein, to fix the places and times of holding the first and every other session of the Legislative Council and Assembly of such Province, giving due and sufficient notice thereof, and to prorogue the same from time to time, and to dissolve the same by proclamation or otherwise, whenever he shall judge it necessary or expedient.

XXX. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that whenever any bill, which has been passed by the Legislative Council and by the House of Assembly in either of the said Provinces respectively, shall be presented for his Majesty's assent to the Governor or Lieutenant-Governor of such Province, or to the person administering his Majesty's Government therein, such Governor or Lieutenant-Governor, or person administering the Government shall, and he is hereby authorized and required to declare, according to his discretion, but subject nevertheless to the provisions contained in this Act, and to such instructions as may from time to time be given in that behalf by his Majesty, his heirs or successors, that he assents to such bill in his Majesty's name, or that he withholds his Majesty's assent from such bill, or that he reserves such bill for the signification of his Majesty's pleasure thereon.

XXXI. Provided always, and be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that whenever any bill which shall have been so presented for his Majesty's assent ... shall ... have been assented to in his Majesty's name, such Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, or person as aforesaid shall, and he is hereby required, by the first convenient opportunity to transmit to one of his Majesty's principal Secretaries of State, an authentic copy of such bill so assented to; and that it shall and may be lawful, at any time within two years after such bill shall have been so received by such Secretary of State for his Majesty, his heirs or successors, by his or their Order-in-Council to declare his or their disallowance of such bill, ...

XXXV. And whereas by the above mentioned [Quebec] Act passed in the fourteenth year of the reign of his present Majesty it was declared that the clergy of the Church of Rome in the Province of Quebec might hold, receive, and enjoy their accustomed dues and rights, with respect to such persons only as should profess the said religion; provided nevertheless that it should be lawful for his Majesty, his heirs or successors, to make such provision out of the rest of the said accustomed dues and rights for the encouragement of the Protestant religion and for the maintenance and support of a Protestant clergy within the said Province as he or they should from time to time think necessary and expedient: ... be it enacted by the authority aforesaid that the said declaration and provision contained in the said above mentioned Act, and also the said provision so made by his Majesty in consequence thereof by his instructions above recited, shall remain and continue to be of full force and effect in each of the said two Provinces of Upper Canada and Lower Canada respectively, except in so far as the said declaration or provisions respectively, or any part thereof, shall be expressly varied or repealed by any Act or Acts which may be passed by the Legislative Council and Assembly of the said Provinces respectively, and assented to by his Majesty, his heirs or successors, under the restriction hereinafter provided.

XXXVI. And whereas his Majesty has been graciously pleased, by message to both Houses of Parliament, to express his Royal desire to be enabled to make a permanent appropriation of and in the said Provinces for the support and maintenance of a Protestant clergy within the same, ... therefore, for the purpose of more effectually fulfilling his Majesty's gracious intentions as aforesaid, and of providing for the due execution of the same in all time to come, be it enacted by the authority aforesaid that it shall and may be lawful for his Majesty, his heirs or successors, to authorize the Governor, or Lieutenant-Governor of each of the said Provinces respectively, or the person administering the Government therein, to make from and out of the lands of the Crown within such Provinces such allotment and appropriation of lands for the support and maintenance of a Protestant clergy within the same as may bear a due proportion to the amount of such lands within the same as have at any time been granted by or under the authority of his Majesty: And that, whenever any grant of lands within either of the said Provinces shall hereafter be made by or under the authority of his Majesty, his heirs or successors, there shall at the same time be made, in respect of the same, a proportionable allotment and appropriation of lands for the above mentioned purpose, within the township or parish to which such lands so to be granted shall appertain or be annexed, or as nearly adjacent thereto as circumstances will admit; and that no such grant shall be valid or effectual unless the same shall contain a specification of the lands so allotted and appropriated, in respect of the lands to be thereby granted; and that such lands so allotted and appropriated shall be, as nearly as the circumstances and nature of the case will admit, of the like quality as the lands in respect of which the same are so allotted and appropriated, and shall be, as nearly as the same can be estimated at the time of making such grant, equal in value to the seventh part of the lands so granted.

XXXVII. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid that all and every the rents, profits, or emoluments, which may at any time arise from such lands so allotted and appropriated as aforesaid, shall be applicable solely to the maintenance and support of a Protestant clergy within the Province in which the same shall be situated, and to no other purpose whatever.

XXXVIII. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid that it shall and may be lawful for his Majesty, his heirs and successors, to authorize the Governor or Lieutenant-Governor of each of the said Provinces respectively, ... to constitute and erect within every township or parish which is now or hereafter may be formed, constituted or erected within such Province, one or more parsonage or rectory, or parsonages or rectories, according to the establishment of the Church of England; and from time to time by instrument under the great seal of such Province to endow every such parsonage or rectory with so much or such a part of the lands so allotted and appropriated as aforesaid, ...

XLIII. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that all lands which shall be hereafter granted within the said Province of Upper Canada shall be granted in free and common soccage, ...