Federal Q.C.s as Anniversary Presents

Eighty-one years and ten days ago the Statute of Westminster 1931 was signed into law, UK legislation that came close to giving the Dominions, including Canada, complete independence. What was reserved to Britain was, by section 7, the power to amend the British North America Act, something that didn’t arrive on these shores until the repatriation of the constitution in 1982.

Avowedly to celebrate this demi-glorious moment, the federal government recently bestowed the designation of Queen’s Counsel on seven (to honour s.7?) lawyers in the public service. This, despite the fact that the federal government stopped designating Queen’s Counsel in 1993.

It seems odd that the government would choose to resurrect an archaic distinction after two decades of well-deserved rest below ground. Incidentally, it would also seem that this business of according precedence to some over others has promoted contention since near its beginning in Canada: see, for instance, Lenoir v. Ritchie, (1879), 3 S.C.R. 575.


  1. Any self-respecting member of the bar with even a smidgen of democratic spirit would turn down the silk.