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§ 26. “The People … shall be United.”

The formative words in this clause are more forcible, striking, and significant than those of the corresponding parts of the Constitutions of the United States and of Canada; they indicate the fundamental principle of the whole plan of government, which is neither a loose confederacy nor a complete unification, but a union of the people considered as citizens of various communities whose individuality remains unimpaired, except to the extent to which they make transfers to the Commonwealth. In the Constitution of the United States a union of the people of the States is referred to in the preamble, and there only, in the form of a recital that the people have ordained and established the Constitution in order to form a more perfect union. In the body of the Constitution it is nowhere stated that the people of the States are or shall be united. This was one of the ambiguities of the American instrument which helped to give rise to the doctrine of nullification and secession, and, at last, to the Civil War. (See § 6, “Nullification and Secession.”)

In the Canadian Constitution nothing is said about the union of the people; it is provided that on the day appointed in the Queen's proclamation “the provinces … shall form and be one Dominion;” the people are ignored; the corporate entities of the union alone are specified as its component parts. The individual human units, the vital forces, the population of the provinces, are not even remotely alluded to. The vagueness of one and the deficiency of the other Constitution have not been allowed to disfigure the design of the Constitution of the Commonwealth. The union of the people of the colonies is doubly asserted and assured; first in the preamble, where it is recited that “the people have agreed to unite,” and secondly in this clause, in which it is emphatically stated with mandatory force that on the day appointed they “shall be united.”

WESTERN AUSTRALIA.—The condition necessary for the establishment of Western Australia as an Original State—that the Queen should be “satisfied that the people of Western Australia have agreed thereto”—was fulfilled by the affirmative vote in that colony on the Constitution, followed by addresses to the Queen passed by both Houses of the West Australian Parliament. (See Historical Introduction, p. 250, supra.)

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