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The constitutional scholar Andrew Heard has established that Confederation did not legally change Canada's colonial status to anything approaching its later status of a Dominion.
At its inception in , Canada's colonial status was marked by political and legal subjugation to British Imperial supremacy in all aspects of government—legislative, judicial, and executive.
The Imperial Parliament at Westminster could legislate on any matter to do with Canada and could override any local legislation, the final court of appeal for Canadian litigation lay with the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London, the Governor General had a substantive role as a representative of the British government, and ultimate executive power was vested in the British Monarch —who was advised only by British ministers in its exercise.
Canada's independence came about as each of these sub-ordinations was eventually removed. Heard went on to document the sizeable body of legislation passed by the British Parliament in the latter part of the 19th century that upheld and expanded its Imperial supremacy to constrain that of its colonies, including the new Dominion government in Canada.
When the Dominion of Canada was created in , it was granted powers of self-government to deal with all internal matters, but Britain still retained overall legislative supremacy.
This Imperial supremacy could be exercised through several statutory measures. In the first place, the British North America Act of provided in Section 55 that the Governor General may reserve any legislation passed by the two Houses of Parliament for "the signification of Her Majesty's pleasure", which is determined according to Section 57 by the British Monarch in Council.
Secondly, Section 56 provides that the Governor General must forward to "one of Her Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State" in London a copy of any Federal legislation that has been assented to.
Then, within two years after the receipt of this copy, the British Monarch in Council could disallow an Act. Thirdly, at least four pieces of Imperial legislation constrained the Canadian legislatures.
The Colonial Laws Validity Act of provided that no colonial law could validly conflict with, amend, or repeal Imperial legislation that either explicitly, or by necessary implication, applied directly to that colony.
The Merchant Shipping Act of , as well as the Colonial Courts of Admiralty Act of required reservation of Dominion legislation on those topics for approval by the British Government.
Also, the Colonial Stock Act of provided for the disallowance of any Dominion legislation the British government felt would harm British stockholders of Dominion trustee securities.
Most importantly, however, the British Parliament could exercise the legal right of supremacy that it possessed over common law to pass any legislation on any matter affecting the colonies.
For decades, none of the Dominions were allowed to have its own embassies or consulates in foreign countries. All matters concerning international travel, commerce, etc.
For example, all transactions concerning visas and lost or stolen passports by citizens of the Dominions were carried out at British diplomatic offices.
It was not until the late s and early s that the Dominion governments were allowed to establish their own embassies, and the first two of these that were established by the Dominion governments in Ottawa and in Canberra were both established in Washington, D.
As Heard later explained, the British government seldom invoked its powers over Canadian legislation. British legislative powers over Canadian domestic policy were largely theoretical and their exercise was increasingly unacceptable in the s and s.
The rise to the status of a Dominion and then full independence for Canada and other possessions of the British Empire did not occur by the granting of titles or similar recognition by the British Parliament but by initiatives taken by the new governments of certain former British dependencies to assert their independence and to establish constitutional precedents.
What is remarkable about this whole process is that it was achieved with a minimum of legislative amendments.
Much of Canada's independence arose from the development of new political arrangements, many of which have been absorbed into judicial decisions interpreting the constitution—with or without explicit recognition.
Canada's passage from being an integral part of the British Empire to being an independent member of the Commonwealth richly illustrates the way in which fundamental constitutional rules have evolved through the interaction of constitutional convention, international law, and municipal statute and case law.
What was significant about the creation of the Canadian and Australian federations was not that they were instantly granted wide new powers by the Imperial centre at the time of their creation; but that they, because of their greater size and prestige, were better able to exercise their existing powers and lobby for new ones than the various colonies they incorporated could have done separately.
They provided a new model which politicians in New Zealand, Newfoundland, South Africa, Ireland, India, Malaysia could point to for their own relationship with Britain.
Ultimately, "[Canada's] example of a peaceful accession to independence with a Westminster system of government came to be followed by 50 countries with a combined population of more than 2-billion people.
Issues of colonial self-government spilled into foreign affairs with the Boer War — The self-governing colonies contributed significantly to British efforts to stem the insurrection, but ensured that they set the conditions for participation in these wars.
Colonial governments repeatedly acted to ensure that they determined the extent of their peoples' participation in imperial wars in the military build-up to the First World War.
The assertiveness of the self-governing colonies was recognised in the Colonial Conference of , which implicitly introduced the idea of the Dominion as a self-governing colony by referring to Canada and Australia as Dominions.
It also retired the name "Colonial Conference" and mandated that meetings take place regularly to consult Dominions in running the foreign affairs of the empire.
The Colony of New Zealand, which chose not to take part in Australian federation, became the Dominion of New Zealand on 26 September ; Newfoundland became a Dominion on the same day.
The Union of South Africa was referred to as a Dominion upon its creation in The initiatives and contributions of British colonies to the British war effort in the First World War were recognised by Britain with the creation of the Imperial War Cabinet in , which gave them a say in the running of the war.
Dominion status as self-governing states, as opposed to symbolic titles granted various British colonies, waited until , when the self-governing Dominions signed the Treaty of Versailles independently of the British government and became individual members of the League of Nations.
This ended the purely colonial status of the Dominions. The First World War ended the purely colonial period in the history of the Dominions.
Their military contribution to the Allied war effort gave them claim to equal recognition with other small states and a voice in the formation of policy.
This claim was recognised within the Empire by the creation of the Imperial War Cabinet in , and within the community of nations by Dominion signatures to the Treaty of Versailles and by separate Dominion representation in the League of Nations.
In this way the "self-governing Dominions", as they were called, emerged as junior members of the international community.
Their status defied exact analysis by both international and constitutional lawyers, but it was clear that they were no longer regarded simply as colonies of Britain.
Dominion status was never popular in the Irish Free State where people saw it as a face-saving measure for a British government unable to countenance a republic in what had previously been the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Successive Irish governments undermined the constitutional links with Britain until they were severed completely in In Ireland adopted, almost simultaneously, both a new constitution that included powers for a president of Ireland and a law confirming a role for the king in external relations.
The Balfour Declaration of , and the subsequent Statute of Westminster , , restricted Britain's ability to pass or affect laws outside of its own jurisdiction.
Significantly, Britain initiated the change to complete sovereignty for the Dominions. The First World War left Britain saddled with enormous debts, and the Great Depression had further reduced Britain's ability to pay for defence of its empire.
In spite of popular opinions of empires, the larger Dominions were reluctant to leave the protection of the then-superpower. For example, many Canadians felt that being part of the British Empire was the only thing that had prevented them from being absorbed into the United States.
Until , Newfoundland was referred to as a colony of the United Kingdom, as for example, in the reference to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council to delineate the Quebec-Labrador boundary.
Full autonomy was granted by the United Kingdom parliament with the Statute of Westminster in December However, the government of Newfoundland "requested the United Kingdom not to have sections 2 to 6[—]confirming Dominion status[—]apply automatically to it[,] until the Newfoundland Legislature first approved the Statute, approval which the Legislature subsequently never gave".
In any event, Newfoundland's letters patent of suspended self-government and instituted a " Commission of Government ", which continued until Newfoundland became a province of Canada in It is the view of some constitutional lawyers [ citation needed ] that—although Newfoundland chose not to exercise all of the functions of a Dominion like Canada—its status as a Dominion was "suspended" in , rather than "revoked" or "abolished".
Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Irish Free State, Newfoundland and South Africa prior to becoming a republic and leaving the Commonwealth in , with their large populations of European descent, were sometimes collectively referred to as the "White Dominions".
Continues as a realm and member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The title of Dominion was retained with the constitution's patriation in but has fallen into general disuse.
The Constitution of Australia had been drafted in Australia and approved by popular consent. Thus Australia is one of the few countries established by a popular vote.
In , the Australian prime minister, James Scullin , reinforced the right of the overseas Dominions to appoint native-born governors-general, when he advised King George V to appoint Sir Isaac Isaacs as his representative in Australia, against the wishes of the opposition and officials in London.
The governments of the States called colonies before remained under the Commonwealth but retained links to the UK until the passage of the Australia Act The term Dominion is employed in the Constitution Act, originally the British North America Act, , and describes the resulting political union.
According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, , "The word came to be applied to the federal government and Parliament, and under the Constitution Act, , 'Dominion' remains Canada's official title.
Usage of the phrase Dominion of Canada was employed as the country's name after , predating the general use of the term Dominion as applied to the other autonomous regions of the British Empire after The phrase Dominion of Canada does not appear in the act nor in the Constitution Act, , but does appear in the Constitution Act, , other contemporaneous texts, and subsequent bills.
References to the Dominion of Canada in later acts, such as the Statute of Westminster , do not clarify the point because all nouns were formally capitalised in British legislative style.
Indeed, in the original text of the Constitution Act, , "One" and "Name" were also capitalised. Frank Scott theorised that Canada's status as a Dominion ended when Canadian parliament declared war on Germany on 9 September , separately and distinctly from the United Kingdom's declaration of war six days earlier.
The last major change was renaming the national holiday from Dominion Day to Canada Day in Official bilingualism laws also contributed to the disuse of Dominion , as it has no acceptable equivalent in French.
While the term may be found in older official documents, and the Dominion Carillonneur still tolls at Parliament Hill , it is now hardly used to distinguish the federal government from the provinces or historically Canada before and after Nonetheless, the federal government continues to produce publications and educational materials that specify the currency of these official titles.
Notable Canadian corporations and organizations not affiliated with government that have used Dominion as a part of their name have included:.
Ceylon , which, as a Crown colony, was originally promised "fully responsible status within the British Commonwealth of Nations", was formally granted independence as a Dominion in British India acquired a partially representative government in , and the first Parliament was introduced in Further powers were eventually devolved, following the —32 Round Table Conferences India , to the locally elected legislatures, via the Government of India Act The Cripps Mission of proposed the further devolution of powers, within Dominion status, to the political leadership of British India.
Cripps's plan was rejected and full independence was sought. However, provision was made in the Act for the Parliament of Northern Ireland to opt out of inclusion in the Irish Free State, which—as had been widely expected at the time—it duly did one day after the creation of the new state, on 7 December Following a plebiscite of the people of the Free State held on 1 July , a new constitution came into force on 29 December of that year, establishing a successor state with the name of "Ireland" which ceased to participate in Commonwealth conferences and events.
Nevertheless, the United Kingdom and other member states of the Commonwealth continued to regard Ireland as a Dominion owing to the unusual role accorded to the British Monarch under the Irish External Relations Act of Ultimately, however, Ireland's Oireachtas passed the Republic of Ireland Act , which came into force on 18 April and unequivocally ended Ireland's links with the British Monarch and the Commonwealth.
The colony of Newfoundland enjoyed responsible government from to Following the recommendations of a Royal Commission, parliamentary government was suspended in due to severe financial difficulties resulting from the depression and a series of riots against the Dominion government in New Zealand adopted the Statute of Westminster in  and in the same year legislation passed in London gave New Zealand full powers to amend its own constitution.
In , the New Zealand parliament passed the Constitution Act , which repealed the Constitution Act of and the last constitutional links with the United Kingdom, formally ending its Dominion status.
The provinces had their own legislatures. In , the Union of South Africa adopted a new constitution, became a republic, left the Commonwealth and re-joined following end of Apartheid rule in , and became the present-day Republic of South Africa.
Southern Rhodesia renamed Zimbabwe in was a special case in the British Empire. Although it was never a Dominion, it was treated as a Dominion in many respects.
Southern Rhodesia was formed in out of territories of the British South Africa Company and established as a self-governing colony with substantial autonomy on the model of the Dominions.
The imperial authorities in London retained direct powers over foreign affairs, constitutional alterations, native administration and bills regarding mining revenues, railways and the governor's salary.
Southern Rhodesia was not one of the territories that were mentioned in the Statute of Westminster although relations with Southern Rhodesia were administered in London through the Dominion Office , not the Colonial Office.
When the Dominions were first treated as foreign countries by London for the purposes of diplomatic immunity in , Southern Rhodesia was included in the list of territories concerned.
This semi-Dominion status continued in Southern Rhodesia between and , when it joined Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland in the Central African Federation , with the latter two territories continuing to be British protectorates.
When Northern Rhodesia was given independence in it adopted the new name of Zambia, prompting Southern Rhodesia to shorten its name to Rhodesia , but Britain did not recognise this latter change.
Rhodesia unilaterally declared independence from Britain in as a result of the British government's insistence on no independence before majority rule NIBMAR.
London regarded this declaration as illegal, and applied sanctions and expelled Rhodesia from the sterling area.
The Rhodesian government continued to profess its loyalty to the Sovereign, despite being in a state of rebellion against Her Majesty's Government in London, until , when it adopted a republican constitution following a referendum the previous year.
The country achieved independence deemed legal by the international community in April , when Britain granted independence under the name Zimbabwe.
Several of Britain's newly independent colonies were dominions during the period from the late s to the early s.
Their gradualist constitutions, featuring a Westminster-style parliamentary government and the British monarch as head of state, were typically replaced by republican constitutions in less than a generation:.
Though several colonies, such as Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago, maintained their formal allegiance to the British monarch, they soon revised their status to become republics.
Britain also attempted to establish a Dominion model in decolonizing Africa, but it, too, was unsuccessful. Ghana, the first former colony declared a Dominion in , soon demanded recognition as a republic.
Other African nations followed a similar pattern throughout the s: Nigeria, Tanganyika, Uganda, Kenya, and Malawi.
In fact, only Gambia, Sierra Leone, and Mauritius retained their Dominion status for more than three years. The Federation of Nigeria was established as a dominion in , but became the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Malta was a dominion from to Initially, the Foreign Office of the United Kingdom conducted the foreign relations of the Dominions.
A Dominions section was created within the Colonial Office for this purpose in Canada set up its own Department of External Affairs in June , but diplomatic relations with other governments continued to operate through the governors-general, Dominion High Commissioners in London first appointed by Canada in ; Australia followed only in , and British legations abroad.
Britain deemed her declaration of war against Germany in August to extend to all territories of the Empire without the need for consultation, occasioning some displeasure in Canadian official circles and contributing to a brief anti-British insurrection by Afrikaner militants in South Africa later that year.
Although the Dominions had had no formal voice in declaring war, each became a separate signatory of the June peace Treaty of Versailles , which had been negotiated by a British-led united Empire delegation.
In September , Dominion reluctance to support British military action against Turkey influenced Britain's decision to seek a compromise settlement.
Diplomatic autonomy soon followed, with the U. The Dominions Section of the Colonial Office was upgraded in June to a separate Dominions Office; however, initially, this office was held by the same person that held the office of Secretary of State for the Colonies.
The principle of Dominion equality with Britain and independence in foreign relations was formally recognised by the Balfour Declaration , adopted at the Imperial Conference of November Canada's first permanent diplomatic mission to a foreign country opened in Washington, D.
In , Canada obtained the appointment of a British high commissioner in Ottawa , separating the administrative and diplomatic functions of the governor-general and ending the latter's anomalous role as the representative of the British government in relations between the two countries.
The Dominions Office was given a separate secretary of state in June , though this was entirely for domestic political reasons given the need to relieve the burden on one ill minister whilst moving another away from unemployment policy.
The Balfour Declaration was enshrined in the Statute of Westminster when it was adopted by the British Parliament and subsequently ratified by the Dominion legislatures.
Britain's declaration of hostilities against Nazi Germany on 3 September tested the issue. Most took the view that the declaration did not commit the Dominions.
Ireland chose to remain neutral. At the other extreme, the conservative Australian government of the day, led by Robert Menzies , took the view that, since Australia had not adopted the Statute of Westminster, it was legally bound by the UK declaration of war—which had also been the view at the outbreak of the First World War—though this was contentious within Australia.
Between these two extremes, New Zealand declared that as Britain was or would be at war, so it was too. This was, however, a matter of political choice rather than legal necessity.
Canada issued its own declaration of war after a recall of Parliament, as did South Africa after a delay of several days South Africa on 6 September, Canada on 10 September.
Ireland , which had negotiated the removal of British forces from its territory the year before, remained neutral. There were soon signs of growing independence from the other Dominions: Australia opened a diplomatic mission in the US in , as did New Zealand in , and Canada's mission in Washington gained embassy status in Initially, the Dominions conducted their own trade policy, some limited foreign relations and had autonomous armed forces , although the British government claimed and exercised the exclusive power to declare wars.
However, after the passage of the Statute of Westminster the language of dependency on the Crown of the United Kingdom ceased, where the Crown itself was no longer referred to as the Crown of any place in particular but simply as "the Crown".
Arthur Berriedale Keith , in Speeches and Documents on the British Dominions —, stated that "the Dominions are sovereign international States in the sense that the King in respect of each of His Dominions Newfoundland excepted is such a State in the eyes of international law".
After then, those countries that were previously referred to as "Dominions" became Commonwealth realms where the sovereign reigns no longer as the British monarch, but as monarch of each nation in its own right, and are considered equal to the UK and one another.
The Second World War , which fatally undermined Britain's already weakened commercial and financial leadership, further loosened the political ties between Britain and the Dominions.
Australian Prime Minister John Curtin 's unprecedented action February in successfully countermanding an order from British Prime Minister Winston Churchill that Australian troops be diverted to defend British-held Burma the 7th Division was then en route from the Middle East to Australia to defend against an expected Japanese invasion demonstrated that Dominion governments might no longer subordinate their own national interests to British strategic perspectives.
To ensure that Australia had full legal power to act independently, particularly in relation to foreign affairs, defence industry and military operations, and to validate its past independent action in these areas, Australia formally adopted the Statute of Westminster in October  and backdated the adoption to the start of the war in September The last country officially made a Dominion was Ceylon in The term "Dominion" fell out of general use thereafter.
Ireland ceased to be a member of the Commonwealth on 18 April , upon the coming into force of the Republic of Ireland Act This formally signalled the end of the former dependencies' common constitutional connection to the British Crown.
India also adopted a republican constitution in January Unlike many dependencies that became republics, Ireland never re-joined the Commonwealth, which agreed to accept the British monarch as head of that association of independent states.
The independence of the separate realms was emphasised after the accession of Queen Elizabeth II in , when she was proclaimed not just as Queen of the United Kingdom , but also Queen of Canada , Queen of Australia , Queen of New Zealand , Queen of South Africa , and of all her other "realms and territories" etc.
This also reflected the change from Dominion to realm ; in the proclamation of Queen Elizabeth II 's new titles in , the phrase "of her other Realms and Territories" replaced "Dominion" with another mediaeval French word with the same connotation, "realm" from royaume.
Thus, recently, when referring to one of those sixteen countries within the Commonwealth of Nations that share the same monarch, the phrase Commonwealth realm has come into common usage instead of Dominion to differentiate the Commonwealth nations that continue to share the monarch as head of state Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Jamaica, etc.
The term "Dominion" is still found in the Canadian constitution where it appears numerous times, but it is largely a vestige of the past, as the Canadian government does not actively use it see Canada section.
The term "realm" does not appear in the Canadian constitution. The generic language of Dominion did not cease in relation to the Sovereign.
It was, and is, used to describe territories in which the monarch exercises sovereignty. Many distinctive characteristics that once pertained only to Dominions are now shared by other states in the Commonwealth, whether republics , independent realms, associated states or territories.
The practice of appointing a High Commissioner instead of a diplomatic representative such as an ambassador for communication between the government of a Dominion and the British government in London continues in respect of Commonwealth realms and republics as sovereign states.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Self-governing part of the British Empire. This article is about the Dominions of the British Empire.
For other uses, see Dominion disambiguation. Monarchy vs. Authoritarian vs. Global vs. Unitary state Empire Principality. Client state. Confederation Devolution Federation Superstate Supranational union.
International relations. Small power Regional power Middle power Great power Superpower. This section needs additional citations for verification.
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Main articles: Responsible government and Self-governing colony. The accession proclamation of referred to "realms", and the Royal Style and Titles Acts of changed references to "dominions" in the monarch's titles in the various Dominions to "realms", after which the term dominion generally fell into disuse, and the countries sharing the same monarch as the United Kingdom came to be referred to as realms with the possible exception of Canada ; see also Name of Canada.
In —, the Dominion was referred to as "Eire" by the British government. See also Names of the Irish state. This section does not cite any sources.
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January Learn how and when to remove this template message. Archived 29 September at the Wayback Machine. Keep scrolling for more More Definitions for dominion dominion.
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Synonyms for dominion Synonyms ascendance also ascendence , ascendancy also ascendency , dominance , domination , hegemony , imperium , predominance , predominancy , preeminence , reign , sovereignty also sovranty , supremacy Visit the Thesaurus for More.
Choose the Right Synonym for dominion power , authority , jurisdiction , control , command , sway , dominion mean the right to govern or rule or determine.
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First Known Use of dominion 14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1. History and Etymology for dominion Middle English dominioun , from Middle French dominion , modification of Latin dominium , from dominus — see dominical.