Discussions with Premiers re: “Patriation of Constitution – Prince Edward Island – Premier Campbell
DISCUSSIONS WITH PREMIERS RE “PATRIATION” OF CONSTITUTION
P.E.I. — Premier Campbell — July 2nd, 1975
Meeting with Premier Campbell — 3:45 — 6:30 p.m.
Only Frank Carter and self present.
Presentation — Reminded Mr. Campbell of discussion at Prime
Minister’s dinner on April 9 and letter of April
19. Told him of visits in chronological order
and of positions taken.
Discussion — Premier Campbell said he had three points to make:
1. He had no objection whatever to the patriation proposal
on the basis of the amending formula of Victoria. If the “Western
provinces” could agree to drop the “majority of the population”
principle, that was up to them.
2. He agreed with Premier Regan that, if some “constitutional
guarantees” were to go in for Quebec, than had to be something on
the regional disparity problem. However, he felt the Victoria
formulation was inadequate as it really created no clear and
enforceable obligation on the federal government. He thought
there should be a specific commitment to ensure a level of
services for citizensin all parts of the country at a reasonable
level of cost. In reply to a question from me, he said that
the present arrangements (equalization + other income transfers
+ shared cost programs) would probably meet the obligation he
had in mind. His point was that there was no requirement
imposed on future government to maintain such programs.
3. There should not be any conferences or any commitments
to proceed unless and until it was clear that Premier Bourassa
would reall go ahead. He asked when I had seen him (I said
about May 28) and commented that some 10 days ago in St. Andrew’s
Mr. Bourassa had stressed the problems of the present timing
(strikes, social unrest, Olympics, etc.) and had said he didn’t
need another problem now. I expressed surprise and referred to
Mr. Bourassa’s comment: “If we can’t do it when Pierre is in
Ottawa and I am here, I do not know when we can do it.”
I asked Mr. Campbell about some specific points:
a) The Supreme Court: Mr. Campbell would prefer to
have the provision (Victoria) included
b) Constitutional Guarantees: He had sympathy with Mr.
Bourassa’s point and saw no objection in principle to
guarantees. He would want to look at the text.
We had a good deal of discussion on the question of “going
ahead”. I told Mr. Campbell that I thought he could be sure the
Prime Minister would want to be confident of Quebec’s intentions
before going far. I said it was by no means sure any conference
would be required. The exercise could possibly be handled
solely by bilateral discussions.
The matter was left that both Mr. Campbell and we would
think about something more specific than Victoria for regional
(or provincial) services.