Canada, House of Commons Debates, Appendix: Statement of Principles for a New Constitution/Priorities for a New Canadian Constitution 32nd Parl, 1st Sess (10 June 1980)
Date: 1980-06-09 – 1980-06-10
By: Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Canada, House of Commons Debates, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, 1980 at 1977-1978.
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SUGGESTED AGENDA FOR THE MEETING OF FIRST MINISTERS ON THE CONSTITUTION
OTTAWA, JUNE 9, 1980
1. Review of developments since the Constitutional Conference of February, 1979.
2. Principles for a new Canadian Constitution.
3. The process for achieving a new constitution including: (a) the subjects to be given priority consideration; (b) the arrangements for federal-provincial meetings and other work over the coming months.
A STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES FOR A NEW CONSTITUTION
We, the people of Canada, proudly proclaim that we are and shall always be, with the help of God, a free and self-governing people.
Born of a meeting of the English and French presence on North American soil which had long been the home of our native peoples, and enriched by the contribution of millions of people from the four corners of the earth, we have chosen to create a life together which transcends the differences of blood relationships, language and religion, and willingly accept the experience of sharing our wealth and cultures, while respecting our diversity.
We have chosen to live together in one sovereign country, a true federation, conceived as a constitutional monarchy and founded on democratic principles.
Faithful to our history, and united by a common desire to give new life and strength to our federation, we are resolved to create together a new constitution which:
shall be conceived and adopted in Canada, shall reaffirm the official status of the French and English languages in Canada, and the diversity of cultures within Canadian society, shall enshrine our fundamental freedoms, our basic civil, human and language rights, including the right to be educated in one’s language, French or English, where numbers warrant, and the rights of our native peoples, and shall define the authority of Parliament and of the legislative assemblies of our several provinces.
We further declare that our Parliament and provincial legislatures, our various governments and their agencies shall have no other purpose than to strive for the happiness and fulfilment of each and ail of us.
PRIORITIES FOR NEW CANADIAN CONSTITUTION PROPOSED BY THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA ON JUNE 9, 1980
The time has come for the Government of Canada and the governments of the provinces to join together in the task of drafting a new Canadian Constitution.
As it enters upon that task, the Government of Canada is dedicated to a full review of ail constitutional measures now applying to our federation.
The whole task constitutes a great enterprise and will take time to achieve. Not aIl of it can be accomplished at once, nor can we wait until ail of it is done to demonstrate to the people of Canada that tangible progress is being made.
The Government of Canada believes, therefore, that intensive work should now begin on a list of items of particular priority to the people of Canada and to governments, with the understanding that some or all of these could well become the subject of early adoption as parts of the new Canadian Constitution.
The list of proposed items is this:
A statement of principles A charter of rights, including language rights A dedication to Sharing and/or to Equalization: the reduction of regional disparities The patriation of the constitution Resource ownership and interprovincial trade Offshore resources Fisheries Powers affecting the economy Communications, including broadcasting Family law A new Upper House, involving the provinces The Supreme Court, for the people and for governments
The government also proposes that the leadership of the native peoples continue to be involved in the discussion of constitutional changes which directly affect the native peoples, in the context of the joint work on the item “Canada’s Native Peoples and the Constitution”. In addition, governments would pay special heed to representations from them on the items in the package set out above.
CALENDAR FOR FUTURE MEETINGS OF FIRST MINISTERS AND MINISTERS ON THE CONSTITUTION PROPOSED BY THE GOVERN MENT OF CANADA
(a) June 17: An organizational meeting of ministers would be held in Ottawa or at some other convenient location. At that time a schedule for consideration of particular items during the summer months would be worked out and agreed upon.
(b) June 18 to July, 6: Governments would prepare for intensive discussions.
(c) July 7 to July 25*: Federal and provincial ministers and officials would remain in session (except for weekends) for three weeks, and provision would be made to continue for an additional week if necessary.
(d) July 26 to August 24: Break in negotiations to allow governments to consider or reconsider positions and to prepare for further intensive discussions. The provincial premiers meet in Winnipeg on August 21 and 22.
(e) August 25 to August 29*: Federal and provincial ministers and officials meet again.
(f) August 30 to September 7: Governments consider positions and prepare for first ministers conference.
(g) September 8 to 12: An open conference of first ministers in Ottawa to finalize agreements arising out of work under way, and to put in train a further work program.
* The dates could be altered provided the length of time devoted to discussion remained the same.