Continuing Committee of Ministers of the Constitution, Economic Union in the Canadian Federation: A Positive Approach (22-25 July 1980)
By: Saskatchewan, Ray Romanow
Citation: Continuing Committee of Ministers of the Constitution, Economic Union in the Canadian Federation: A Positive Approach, Doc 830-83/005 (Vancouver: 22-25 July 1980).
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ECONOMIC UNION IN THE CANADIAN FEDERATION:
A POSITIVE APPROACH
The Honourable Roy Romanow
on behalf of
The Government of Saskatchewan
Continuing Committee of Ministers of the Constitution
July 23, 1980
Last week I stated, with some vigour, our
opposition to the Government of Canada’s proposed amendments
on powers over the economy. I proposed that they be set _
aside. Mr. Chretien and some other ministers did not agree.
We have made little progress since toward a resolution of
we are, I think it’s fair to say, at an impasse.
My conviction that the Canadian government‘s
is not the appropriate way to protect the economic
a federal state remains unshaken. As I said last
would place unacceptable limitations on the
of a province to pursue its legitimate role in
the provincial economy. And it would add to those
limitations the uncertainty of placing in the hands of the
Courts critical economic decisions.
All that I have said before.
But I have also said, in my role as co—chairman,
that I believe we have reached a critical point in our
deliberations ~— that the course ahead will be very rocky
indeed if we don’t achieve some movement this week.
In the interests of arriving at an accommodation,
we need to take the initiative —— to make a major move.
Mr. Chretien has said that what he wants is a
commitment to economic union in Canada. We are prepared to
give him that commitment —— and to enshrine it in the
I now table a draft of a possible constitutional
provision which Saskatchewan can support. With it I table
a background paper.
The spirit of our proposal is, we feel, grounded
in the reality of the federal state which is Canada. It
does not depend on the negative instrument of constitutional
prohibitions. It depends rather on the positive, co—operative
commitment of responsible governments, each sovereign in
certain areas —~ each with a contribution to make to our
economic union. It depends on the time—tested success of
the Canadian experience: co—operative federalism and
Our proposal, as you will see from the draft, is
brief and direct. It would entrench in the Constitution a
clear commitment on the part of all governments to maintain
and perfect the Canadian economic union. The commitment
extends to an on—going review and assessment of the per~
formance of the union and a resolution of problems.
I would note that the approach we have taken
here closely parallels the approach taken with respect to
the equalization issue. That proposal has won wide accept-
ance around this table.
I hope this proposal will also win acceptance.
Mr. Chretien has said he is not wedded to his specific
proposals and has called for alternative suggestions. We
are responding. We believe this proposed compromise meets
his adamant demand for including a commitment to economic
union. We believe it also goes some distance toward
meeting the concerns of many provincial governments —
including ours —— that the implications of the Government
of Canada proposal are unacceptable.
with this step I ask that the Government of
Canada now remove its insistence that powers over the
_ A _
economy be linked to the issue of resources. I also ask for
a serious commitment by the federal government to return to
the “best efforts” draft on resources. We are committed to
Canada, as I believe are the vast majority of Canadians, in
every province and territory. Let us as governments get on
with the job of demonstrating that commitment.