On January 7, 2017, I had the honour of discussing and debating s.121 of the Constitution Act, 1867 with the prolific columnist and intellectual, John Robson, and Ian Blue Q.C., counsel for the defendant in the now famous case, R. v. Comeau. The debate was part of the Canadian Constitution Foundation’s Law & Freedom Conference, which took place between January 6-8, 2017. This was my third time attending the conference and I found the panels to be very engaging as usual.
I was in complete agreement with Mr. Blue and Mr. Robson that the Fathers of Confederation supported free trade between the provinces. However, I took the view, as outlined in an article for ARL published last autumn, that s.121 of of the Constitution Act, 1867 exists to emphasize Parliament’s exclusive power over interprovincial trade. As such, s.121 does not apply to Parliament, which is buttressed by the inclusion of the non obstante clause (“notwithstanding anything in this Act”) in the preamble to s.91.
You can watch the full video of our panel here. Many thanks to the CCF for the opportunity to take part in this great debate.