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Seminar: The Battle of London: Trudeau, Thatcher and the Fight for Canada’s Constitution, 1980-82 (UCL, London)

December 8, 2014 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

Dr Frédéric Bastien (Dawson College, Montreal) – After the narrow defeat of the Quebec referendum in 1980, Pierre Elliott Trudeau turned his sights on repatriating the Constitution in an effort to make Canada fully independent from Britain. This involved converting the British North America Act of 1867 into a Canadian Constitution and transferring sovereignty from London to Ottawa. But René Lévesque, the Premier of Quebec, thought that the prerogatives of the province would be threatened if the Constitution was repatriated and he mounted a charm offensive to influence key British MPs against the change. Canada’s native leaders also entered the fray, concerned that the rights of the indigenous peoples of Canada would be threatened. Meanwhile, the British Labour Party saw an opportunity to embarrass Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. As a result, the maverick Trudeau and the uncompromising Thatcher entered into an unlikely marriage of convenience in order to repatriate the Canadian Constitution.

Frédéric Bastien is a professor at Dawson College in Montreal. He received his PhD in history and international politics from the prestigious Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. He has published extensively, including two books on the relationship between Quebec and France since the presidency of Charles De Gaulle (1999 and 2006).His seminar presentation is based on his recently published book, The Battle of London: Trudeau, Thatcher and the Fight for Canada’s Constitution (Dundurn Press, 2014). This is an English translation of the original in French, La Bataille de Londres, published in 2013, which attracted some controversy in Canada because of its argument that the then Chief Justice of the Ottawa Supreme Court, Bora Laskin, had become involved in the political discussions surrounding the repatriation of the Canadian Constitution.

Refreshments at 17:30, presentation starts at 18:00. Attendance is free of charge but registration is required.


December 8, 2014
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Event Category:


UCL Institute of the Americas
+44 (0)20 7679 2000
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UCL-Institute of the Americas
51 Gordon Square
London, WC1H 0PN United Kingdom
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+44 (0)20 7679 2000
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