The Anniversary of the Statute of Westminster is observed on December 11 every year. Although it is a holiday, Canadians still go to work, and it is pretty much an ordinary day for them. It is a nod to Canadian independence. The “Union Jack,” where logistics allow, is flown along with the Maple Leaf on federal buildings, airports, military bases from dawn to dusk to mark this day. It commemorates a British law that was passed on 11 December 1931. It was Canada’s final achievement of independence from Britain. The Statute of Westminster gave Canada and the other Commonwealth Dominions legal equality with Britain. These countries now had full legal freedom — except in areas which they chose. The Statute also defined the powers of Canada’s Parliament and those of the other Dominions. The day is mostly celebrated in Canada.
History of Anniversary of the Statute of Westminster
Before 1931, the British government had much influence over legislation passed by the Commonwealth Dominions (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the Irish Free State, and Newfoundland). Things began to change after the First World War — after the sacrifices of Canada and other Dominions on the battlefield stirred feelings of nationhood and desires for complete autonomy.
Canada began to assert its independence in foreign policy in the early 1920s. In 1922, Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King denied help to British occupation forces in Turkey without first getting the approval of his Parliament. Later on, in 1923, Canada signed a fisheries’ treaty with the United States without seeking permission from Britain. In 1926, Canada established an embassy in Washington, DC, and Vincent Massey was named its first Canadian minister. This made him Canada’s first-ever diplomatic envoy posted to a foreign capital.
The Imperial Conference of 1926 was a more formal step. It gave legal backbone to the Balfour Report from earlier that year. The report had announced that Britain and its Dominions were constitutionally “equal in status.” The work of changing the Commonwealth’s complex legal system continued at the 1929 Conference on the Operation of Dominion Legislation. The Imperial Conference of 1930 further confirmed the need for the Dominions to have greater autonomy of their legislature. On 11 December 1931, the Statute of Westminster was passed by the British Parliament. This was done at the request and with the consent of the Dominions. This statute ratified the Dominions’ legislative independence. Although it had been granted the right to self-government in 1867, Canada did not enjoy full legal autonomy until the Statute was passed on December 11, 1931.
Anniversary of the Statute of Westminster timeline
Portugal and Spain pioneer European exploration of the globe, leading to the discovery of continents such as the Americas.
Britain becomes the dominant power in the Indian subcontinent after defeating the Mughal in the Battle of Plassey.
The war results in Britain losing some of its oldest and most populous colonies in North America.
The Suez Crisis confirms Britain's decline as a global power, because the Egyptian president nationalizes the Canal, owned by the Suez Canal Company, and formerly controlled by French and British interests.
Anniversary of the Statute of Westminster FAQs
Who is the current sovereign under the Statute of Westminster?
Today, the Statute of Westminster’s restrictive clause is still valid, so the current sovereign is Queen Elizabeth II. Her acting advisors are known as federal ministers of the Crown.
Which is more important: the Statute of Westminster or confederation?
The Statute of Westminster is arguably a more momentous occasion in Canada’s journey to sovereignty than to a confederation.
When did New Zealand adopt the Statute of Westminster?
The Parliament of New Zealand adopted the Statute of Westminster in November 1947.
How To Observe Anniversary of the Statute of Westminster
Explore from your armchair
We have only given you brief information on the statute. Observe the anniversary by reading in detail about the statute — and things relating to it.
Study your country’s history
Britain had successfully colonized some of the biggest nations in the world. On this day, read about your country’s past — colonial or not — and try to understand how colonialism continues to affect the world today.
Play a game such as balderdash
There are games that have categories including really strange laws from around the world, which would be fun with friends and family. While you are all laughing, remember that most laws had reasons, and have fun discussing that.
5 Facts About Canada That Will Blow Your Mind
Canadians eat the most donuts in the world
There are only 30 million people in Canada, but over 1 billion donuts are eaten annually.
Bigfoot is legally protected in Canada
It is illegal to kill a Sasquatch in British Columbia.
Smelling bad is illegal in Canada
Anyone smelling offensive in a public place could face two years in jail.
The money is vision-impaired friendly
Canadian banknotes have braille writing on them for the blind.
Canada has two national sports
Ice hockey and lacrosse are the national sports of Canada.
Why We Love the Anniversary of the Statute of Westminster
It’s a part of history
The Statute of Westminster played an important role in the history of Canada and other former dominions. The anniversary acknowledges this crucial day in history.
This day encourages us to explore our history
It’s easy to forget history when we are caught up in the hustle-bustle of our daily lives. The Anniversary of the Statute of Westminster encourages us to take a look at our history and find out more about our country’s past.
A day to learn and chat about laws
Celebrate the Anniversary of the Statute of Westminster as a day to learn about the rules, acts, and laws that are applicable in your country.
Anniversary of the Statute of Westminster dates