Special Joint Committee on the Constitution

Home > Archives > Special Joint Committee on the Constitution

| Copyright Dominique Clément / Clément Consulting

The Special Joint Committee on the Constitution (1980-81) was mandated to solicit feedback from Canadians about the government’s proposal to patriate the Constitution and entrench a Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The committee heard from over nine hundred individuals and organizations, many of whom had a direct impact on the final drafting of the constitutional proposal. For a collection of briefs presented to the committee.

In the wake of the 1980 Quebec referendum on sovereignty-association, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau committed his government to patriating the British North America Act and entrenching basic human rights in the Canadian Constitution. But what sounded good in theory was difficult to implement in practice. In Parliament and across the country, Canadians were divided over the contents and scope of a bill of rights.

Ottawa decided to create a special joint committee of the House of Commons and the Senate in 1980 to hear submissions from the public on amendments to the Constitution. The committee had twenty-five members (ten from the Senate and fifteen from the House of Commons). Fifteen were Liberals, eight were Progressive Conservatives, and two were New Democrats. The result was one of the most impressive examples of democratic consultation in Canadian history. What began as a thirty-day session of hearings turned into a three-month consultation in which 914 individuals and groups submitted briefs, and 214 groups made an oral presentation before the committee. Many of these submissions had a direct impact on the Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Minutes of the committee’s public hearings are available in most university libraries (chaired by Senator Harry Hays and MP Serge Joyal). However, the 914 briefs submitted to the committee are available only at Library and Archives Canada. Below is a collection of digitized briefs presented to the committee (in some cases, the document includes a description of the organization itself). A complete listing of all briefs to the committee from organizations will soon be available on this site.


The Library and Archives Canada collection for the special joint committee includes a useful statistical summary. It lists the various presentations given by associations (thematically organized in categories such as ethnic, human rights, feminist, race, business, and more), the number of sittings attended by individual MPs and senators, and the issues raised by the presenters: Statistics on the Special Joint Committee on the Constitution.

Index of all the presentations before the Special Joint Committee on the Constitution.


The following is a comprehensive list of submissions from organizations based on the committee’s archival record. Click here for a list of individuals’ names that also appear in the archival record for submitting briefs.



Advisory Council on the Status of Women

Affiliation of Multicultural Societies of B.C.

Afro-Asian Foundation of Canada

Alberta Chamber of Commerce

Alberta Committee of Action Groups of the Disabled

Alberta Lesbian and Gay Rights

Alberta Liberal Party

Alberta New Democratic Party

Alberta Public Policy Committee

Alberta Status of Women Action Committee

Alberta Women for Constitutional Change

Algonquin Council

Alliance for Life

Alliance for the Preservation of English in Canada

Alliance of German-Speaking Organizations of Ottawa

Anglican Church of Canada

Anglican Church of Canada – Diocese of Huron

A.P.I, de l’Ecole St, Bernard

Anishinabek Nations

Assemblee Nationale du Quebec

Associated Disabled Persons of B.C.

Association canadienne des compagnies d’assurance-vie inc.

Association canadienne des paraplegiques

Association canadienne du Barreau, Section de Terre-Neuve

Association Canadienne-Française de l’Alberta

Association Canadienne-Française de l’Ontario

Association canadienne pour le droit a l’avortement

Association canadienne d’education de langue française

Association des Commissaires de Langue Fran^aise du Canada

Association de l’lmmeuble du Quebec

Association canadienne pour les deficients mentaux

Association canadienne Slovene

Association Culturelle Franco-Canadienne de la Saskatchewan

Association des canadiens unis pour la separation de 1’eglise et de l’etat

Association des droits de la personne de la Saskatchewan

Association des femmes progressistes conservatrices de Cornwall et de la region

Association des Fermieres de l’Ontario

Association des Indiens de l’Alberta

Association des Juristes d’Expression FranÇaise de l’Ontario

Association du Labrador Quebecois

Association Française des Conseils Scolaires de l’Ontario

Association nationale de la femme et du droit

Association nationale de la femme et le droit

Association nationale des Japonais d’origine canadienne

Association of Canadian Clubs

Association of Catholic Parents – English Section

Association of Gay Social Service Workers

Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians

Association progressiste-conservatrice federale du Quebec

Association of Metis and Non-Status Indians of Saskatchewan

Athabaska Chipewan Band 201

Assomption de Notre-Dame de Oshawa

Atkinson College Council

Atlantic Provinces Chamber of Commerce

Atlantic Provinces Economic Council



Baltic Federation in Canada

Bible Holiness Movement

Blueberry Band

Board of Education for the City of Toronto

Borough of Etobicoke, Community Health Dept.

British Columbia Association for Mentally Retarded

British Columbia Chamber of Commerce

British Columbia Civil Liberties Association

British Columbia Federation of Labour

British Columbia Human Rights Symposium

British Columbia Medical Association

British Columbia Provincial Council of Carpenters

British Columbia Real Estate Association

Brooks & District Chamber of Commerce

Bureau des Ecoles Protestantes du Grand Montreal

Burrard Indian Band

Business Council on National Issues



Calgary Action Group of the Disabled

Calgary Chamber of Commerce

Calgary Civil Liberties Association

Calgary Coalition

Calgary Public Library

Campaign Life

Camrose R.C. Separate School District No, 60

Canada West Foundation

Canadian Abortion Rights Action League

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police

Canadian Association of Crown Counsel

Canadian Association of Lesbians and Gay Men

Canadian Association for Adult Education

Canadian Association for the Mentally Retarded

Canadian Association for the Prevention of Crime

Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work

Canadian Association of Social Workers

Canadian Bar Association

Canadian Bar Association – Newfoundland Branch

Canadian Bar Association – Ontario

Canadian Bar Association – Southern Alberta Civil Liberties Subsection

Canadian Bureau of the North American Jewish Students Network

Canadian Catholic School Trustees Association

Canadian Cattle Consultants Ltd.

Canadian Chamber of Commerce

Canadian Citizens Constitution Committee

Canadian Citizenship Federation

Canadian Civil Liberties Association

Canadian Committee for the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Canadian Committee on Learning Opportunities for Women

Canadian Conference on Arts

Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

Canadian Conference on Religion and World Peace

Canadian Congress For Learning Opportunities for Women (with the Canadian Association for Adult Education)

Canadian Connection

Canadian Consultative Council on Multiculturalism

Canadian Co-ordinating Council on Deafness

Canadian Copyright Institute

Canadian Congress for Learning Opportunities for Women

Canadian Council of the Blind

Canadian Council on Children and Youth

Canadian Council of Christians and Jews

Canadian Council for Exceptional Children

Canadian Council on Social Development

Canadian Crafts Council

Canadian Federation of Business and Professional Women

Canadian Federation of Civil Liberties and Human Rights Association

Canadian Federation of University Women

Canadian Folk Arts Council

Canadian Forestry Association

Canadian Health Coalition

Canadian Holocaust Remembrance Association

Canadian Home Economics Association

Canadian Human Rights Commission

Canadian Human Rights Foundation

Canadian Jewish Congress

Canadian Labour Congress

Canadian League of Rights

Canadian Life Insurance Association

Canadian Mental Health Association

Canadian National Institute for the Blind

Canadian Organization of Small Business

Canadian Paraplegic Association

Canadian Parents for French

Canadian Polish Congress

Canadian Protestant League

Canadian Real Estate Association

Canadian Slovak League

Canadian Society for Professional Engineers

Canadian Srbobran

Canadian Teachers Federation

Canadian Unity Information

Canadians for Canada

Canadians for One Canada

Canadians for Responsible Government

Canadians in Defense of Labour Rights

Canadians United for Separation of Church and State

Cape Breton Right to Life

Cardinal Leger Secondary School

Catholic Womens League of Canada

Catholic Womens League of Canada, St. Boniface Parish

Centre for Continuing Education, Mount St. Vincent University

Cheslatta Band

Chevaliers de Colomb

Childs, Fred and Family

Chinese Benevolent Association of Vancouver – see

Chinese-Canadian National Council for Equality – see

Christian Brothers Provincialate

Canadian Christian Citizens

Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC)

Christian Reformed Church of Williamsburg

Christian Science Federal Representative for Canada

Chumir, Sheldon M. – see Calgary Civil Liberties Association

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Citizens Advisory Council of the West Island of Montreal

Citizens Association to Save the Environment

Citizens for More Time Committee

Club Jeunes de Coeur

Coalition for the Protection of Human Life

Coalition of Provincial Organizations of the Handicapped

Codling, Doug – Pastor

Cohen, Maxell

Coldwater Indian Reserve

Committee for Justice and Liberty Foundation

Committee for Racial Equality

Community Business and Professional Association,Vancouver, B.C,

Concerned Canadians

Concerned Citizens of Toronto

Congress of Black Women of Canada

Congregation des Filles de Jesus

Congregation of our Lady of the Missions

Congress of Linguists

Congres National des Italo-Canadiens

Conseil Attikamek-Montagnais

Conseil des Ecoles Catholiques de Prescott-Russell

Conseil du Patronat du Quebec

Conseil Francophone de Planification Scolaire d’Ottawa-Carleton

Conseil Inter-Professionel du Quebec

Conseil de la Langue Française du Quebec

Conseil scolaire d’Ottawa

Conseil de Vie Française

Conservative Council of Ontario

Coordinator for the Handicapped 

Council for Canadian Unity

Council for Exceptional Children, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Council for Exceptional Children, Quebec, Chapter 475

Council for Yukon Indians

Council of Christian Reformed Churches in Canada

Council of Muslim Communities of Canada

Council of National Ethnocultual Organizations of Canada

Council of Quebec Minorities

Council of the Quatsino Band

Council of the Skookumchuck Band

Cousins, Fred T.

Couvent Notre-Dame des Missions

Cowichan Band Council

Czechoslovack National Association of Canada



Denominational Education Committies of Newfoundland

Dignity Canada

Dignity Edmonton for the Canadian Region of Dignity

Dignity Ottawa Dignité

Direction Jeunesse

Divertissements Emprise Inc.

Les Dominicaines de la Trinite

Dominion of Canada English Speaking Association

Dominion of Canada Party

Dufferin-Peel Roman Catholic School Board

Dunbarton-Fairport United Church



Ecole Sainte-Therese

Egerton Baptist Church

Eglise la Mission Chretienne Evangelique

Emergency Committee for the Defense of Religious Rights

Employers Council of British Columbia

English Speaking Catholic Council of Montreal



Family Life Bureau

Fane of the Psilocybin Mushroom Association

Federated Anti-poverty Groups of B.C.

Federated Women’s Institutes of Canada

Federation canadienne des enseignants, Ottawa, Ont.

Federation of Canadian Municipalities / Federation canadienne des municipalities

Federation of Catholic Parent-Teacher Associations of Ontario

Federation of Chinese Canadian Professionals

Federation des Femmes Canadiennes-Françaises

Federation des Francophones Hors Quebec

Federation of Saskatchewan Indians

Filles de Marie de l’Assomption

Finnish-Canadian Cultural Federation

Fraternite nationale des Indiens

Freedom of Choice Party

French Language Advisory Committee of the Ottawa Board of Education

Freres du Sacre-Coeur



Gambit Games

Gay Alliance for Equality 

Gay Fathers of Toronto

Gays of Ottawa

German Canadian Club of Red Deer

German-Canadian Committee on the Constitution

Gitksan-Carrier Tribal Council

Gouvernement de la Colombie-Britannique

Gouvernment des Territoires du Nord-Ouest

Gouvernement du Nouveau-Brunswick

Gouvernement du Quebec

Government of Alberta

Government of Alberta (resolution)

Government of British Columbia

Government of Manitoba

Government of New Brunswick

Government of Northwest Territories

Government of Nova Scotia

Government of Prince Edward Island

Government of Saskatchewan

Government of the Yukon Territory

Gralnoski, Joseph

Grand Council Treaty No. 9

Grand Orange Lodge of Canada

Greater St John Real Estate

Group for Survival



Hagwilget Band Council

Halifax Office of the Ombudsman

Halifax Dartmouth Real Estate Board

HALT – see Human Action to Limit Taxes

Hamilton Physicians for Life

Human Action to Limit Taxes

Human Rights Institute of Canada



Indian Association of Alberta

Indian Constitution Express

Indian Rights for Indian Women

Indo-Canadian Society of Alberta


International Council of Sikhs

International Ombudsman Institute

Inuit Committee on National Issues



Knights of Columbus, Moncton, N.B.

Knights of Columbus, Alexandria, Ont.

Knights of Columbus, Bowmanville, Ont.

Knights of Columbus, Andy Pappu

Knights of Columbus, Cornwall, Ont.

Knights of Columbus, Markham, Ont.

Knights of Columbus, North Bay, Ont.

Knights of Columbus, Kapuskasing, Ont.

Knights of Columbus, Renfrew, Ont.

Knights of Columbus, Mount Forest, Ont.

Knights of Columbus, Arnprior, Ont.

Knights of Columbus, Oakville, Ont.

Knights of Columbus, Penetanguishene, Ont.

Knights of Columbus, Brock-Brant Chapter

Knights of Columbus, Longlac, Ont.

Knights of Columbus, Sacred Heart Council 4120

Kootenay Indian Area Council



Lac la Biche Chamber of Commerce

Laichkwitach State Tribes, Campbell River, B.C.


Law Union of British Columbia

League for Human Rights of Canadian B’nai Brith

Liberal Party of Canada

Lloydminster Real Estate Board Association

Local Council of Women

London and Middlesex County Roman Catholic Separate School Board

Long, E.P.M,

Lower Nicola Band

Lowville United Church



Main Street Baptist Church

Manitoba Association for Rights and Liberties

Manitoba Law Union

Manitoba Metis Federation

Manitoba Office of the Ombudsman

Manitoba Parents for Ukrainian Education Inc.

Media Club of Canada

Mennonite Central Committee (Canada)

Metis Association of Alberta

Metis and Non Status Indian Constitutional Review Commission

Metropolitan Separate School Board

Mining Association of Canada

Minority Rights Group

Mohawks of Kahnawake 

Multicultural Association of Fredericton Inc.

Multilingual Association of Regina Inc.

Naches – Montreal’s Gay Jewish Group



National Action Committee on the Status of Women

National Anti-poverty Organization

National Association of Canadians of Origins in India

National Association of Japanese Canadians

National Association of Women and The Law

National Black Coalition of Canada

National Chapter of Canada I.O.D.E. – Provincial Chapter of New Brunswick I.O.D.E.

National Citizens’ Coalition

National Committee for Language Equality

National Council of Jewish Women of Canada

National Council of Women of Canada

National Farmers Union

National Firearms Association – New Brunswick Branch

National Indian Brotherhood

National Pensioners and Senior Citizens Federation

Native Brotherhood of British Columbia

Native Council of Canada

Native Peoples Resource Centre

Native Rights Coalition

Native Women’s Association of Canada

Nemiah Valley Band

New Brunswick Association for the Advancement of Coloured People

New Brunswick Development Institute

New Brunswick Human Rights Commission

New Brunswick Real Estate Association

New Brunswick Right to Life Association

Nishga Tribal Council

Nooaitch Indian Reserve

North American Jewish Students Network

North Shore Liberal Women

North Shore Women’s Centre

Northern Indian Brotherhood

Nova Scotia Real Estate Association

Nuu-Cha-Nulth Tribal Council



Okanagan Women’s Coalition

Okanagan North Progressive Conservative Association

Ontario Committee on the Status of Women

Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops

Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association

Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters

Ontario Human Rights Commission

Ontario Progressive Conservative Association of Women

Ontario Real Estate Association

Ontario Separate School Trustees’ Association

Ontario Welfare Council

Operation Dismantle

Organization Marxiste-Leniniste du Canada

Organization for Carribean Canadian Initiatives

Oromocto, Town of

Ottawa Coalition for Constitutional Process

Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre

Our Lady of the Airways



Pacific Vocational Institute

Parent Finders Incorporated

Pas Indian Band

Pavilion Indian Band

Peel Sharpshooters

Penticton Indian Band

People’ Law School Society – Vancouver

Peterborough Libertarian Association

Peterborough Presbyterian United Church – Women


Petitions for Peace

Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada

Polish Friends of Indians

Port Coquitlam Area, Women’s Centre

Port Simpson Band Council

Positive Action Committee

Presbytery of Newfoundland

Progressive Conservative Association of B.C.

Progressive Conservative Association of Okanagen

Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan

Progressive Conservative Women’s Association of North Bay

Pro-Life Supporters

Protestant School Board of Greater Montreal

Provincial Association of Catholic Teachers of Quebec

Provincial Progressive Conservative Association of Calgary

Public Interest Advocacy Centre



Quatsino Band – see Council of the Quatsino Band

Quebec Committee for Language Regions

Quebec Federation of Home and School Associations

Quebecers’ Labrador Association

  1. Angus Alberta Limited – see Angus J.F.



Realty Owners of Canada

Recluses Missionnaires

Redemptorist Fathers

Regional Economic Development Council

Regional Municipality of Sudbury

Le Regroupement pour les Droits Politiques du Quebec

Religious Freedom Conference of Christian Minorities

Religious Information Centre

Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), St. John’s Worship Group 

Renaissance Family Institute

Renaissance Internationale

Right to Life Association – Kitchener, Ont.

Right to Life Association – Toronto and Area

Right to Life Association – Yarmouth, N.S.

Royal Commonwealth Society



St. Andrew’s College in Winnipeg

St. Clare School

St. George’s Society of Toronto

St. Mary’s Band

St. Thimothy’s Presbytarian Church

Sarnia Indian Reserve

Saskatchewan Advisory Council

Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission

Saskatchewan Real Estate Association

Saskatoon Catholic Schools

Saskatoon Real Estate Board

Saulteau Indian Band #542

School Sisters of Notre Dame

Scowlitz Indian Band

Secor Inc.

Senior Citizens Central Council of Calgary

Shackan Indian Bands

Sister of our Lady of the Missions

Sisters of St Joseph High School

Sisters of St-Joseph of Sault Ste Marie

Sisters of Ste Martha

Slovenian Canadian Association

Skookumchuck Indian Band

Social Credit Party of Alberta

Social Credit Party of Canada

Social Planning and Review Council of B.C.

Societe des Acadiens du Nouveau-Brunswick

Societe Franco-Manitobaine

Societe Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Quebec

Society for Education Action Research and Counselling on Homosexuality

Soeurs de l’Assomption de la Sainte Vierge

Soeurs de la Charite d’Ottawa

Soeurs Grises de Montreal

Soeurs de Notre-Dame du Perpetuel Secours

Soeurs de la Presentation de Marie

Soeurs des Saints Noms de Jesus & Marie

Soeurs du Sauveur

South Central Tribal Council

South Okanagan Civil Liberties Society

Southwestern Ontario Campaign for Life

Spallumscheen Band



Teme-Augama Anishnabai Tribe

The Thunder Bay Multicultural Association

Toosey Band

Toronto and Montreal Committees to Defend Quebec’s Right to Self-Determination

Toronto Elizabeth Fry Society

Toronto Working Group for Native Concerns

Treaty No. 7 Tribes of Alberta

Treaty No. 8 in Northern Alberta



Ukranian Canadian Committee

Ukranian Greek Orthodox Church

Union Culturelle des Franco-Ontariennes

Union Nationale – Quebec

Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs

Union of British Columbian Municipalities

Union of New Brunswick Indians

Union of Nova Scotia Indians

Union of Ontario Indians

Union Populaire

United Churches of Canada

United Hungarian Fund

United Native Nations

University of Manitoba

University Women’s Club – Barrie, Ont.

University Women’s Club – North York

University Women’s Club – White Rock

Upper Nicola Indian Band

Ursuline Sisters



Vancouver Community Legal Assistance Society

Vancouver Multicultural Society

Vancouver Quadra Progressive Conservative Association 

Vancouver Status of Women

Vasa Order of America, Grand Lodge, Edmonton, Alta

Vernon Committee for More Time

Ville de Saint-Nicolas

Voice for Life

Voice of Women



Western Canadian Conference of the Milwright Unions

Western Federation Society

West Fed Association of Alberta

Women for Political Action

Women’s Action Committee for Human Rights

Women’s Habitat of Etobicoke

Women’s Research Centre



Young Women’s Christian Association

Yukon Advisory Council


The readings lists available on this site deal with a range of topics from human rights to biographies and specific events.

Human Rights Activism

Human Rights Activism

Documents relating to Canadian human rights and civil liberties...
Human Rights Law

Human Rights Law

Landmark court cases in Canada’s human rights history, including early hu...
October Crisis

October Crisis

Documents regarding the federal government’s use of the War M...


Documents relating to the defection of Igor Gouzenko, the RCMP...
Statutes and Declarations

Statutes and Declarations

Major federal and provincial human rights statutes and international...
Jewish Labour Committee

Jewish Labour Committee

Few social movement organizations can equal the impact of the...
Special Joint Committee on the Constitution

Special Joint Committee on the Constitution

The Special Joint Committee on the Constitution (1980-81) was...