Extract from transcript of the Prime Minister’s Press Conference- Constitutional Review

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Extract from transcript of the
Prlme Minister’s Press Conference

– August 7 1975


Extract from transcript of the
Prime Minister’s Press Conference

– Au ust 7 1975


Q: Monsieur le Premier ministre, M. Bourassa indiquait
il y a quelques semaines son intention de rouvrir le dossier cons-
titutionel. De votre côté est-ce que vous seriez prêt à faire la
même chose. Quand et sur quelle base reprendriez-vous les pour-
parlers sur la Constitution?

R: Eh bien, comme je l’ai déjà indiqué à la suite de
la Conférence de Victoria je ne veux pas prendre l’initiative de
rouvrir ce dossier s’il ne semble pas y avoir possibilité de faire
un progrès substantiel et réel et ça, ça dépend des participants à
la Conférence. Il y a eu des discussions privées entre certains
fonctionnaires fédéraux et des fonctionnaires provinciaux. Il
est vrai que nous explorons la possibilité de rouvrir le dossier
mais il n’est véritablement pas ouvert et ne sera pas ouvert tant
que je ne serai pas convaincu que nous pouvons faire un progrès
substantiel. Je pense que la façon de réaliser ce progrès sera
de discuter uniquement du problème du rapatriement et du problème
de l’amendement constitutionnel. Mais si nous nous mettons à discuter
de la division des pouvoirs entre les deux niveaux de gouvernement
nous allons recommencer la comédie des 50 dernières années où
toutes sortes de gouvernements successifs tant fédéraux-que pro-
vinciaux ont essayé de rapatrier la Constitution et on n’a jamais
réussi à le faire. Comme je l’ai dit dès le mois dloçtobre dernier
je trouve scandaleux qu’un pays indépendant comme le Canada soit
encore obligé d’aller en Angleterre pour amender sa constitution
et je suis convaincu que le peuple canadien veut en finir de cette
comédie mais je suispquant à moi décidé d’en finir.

Q: Mr. Prime Minister, in recent months there has been
increasing speculation, particularly among some of the provincial
governments, that we probably will be into a new round of consti-
tutional negotiations in the near future. Are you anxious to see
those talks reopen, and would you be receptive to a proposal from
the provinces for the reopening?

A: Well, as I was answering earlier, I am receptive to
the idea of reopening. I made quite clear, however, after the
failure in Victoria that I didn’t see any purpose in reopening the
constitutional debate until private talks — bilateral and multilateral
had led me to believe that we can be successful this time. Such
private talks are in fact going on at the official level, exploratior
of what would be possible. Our point of view is that the only way
is bringing the constitution back to Canada and amending it in Canada
and having what every other independent state in the world has,
its own constitution and its right to amend that constitution in
its own country. But this is the thing we must solve and we won’t
solve it if we begin to get back into arguments about the division
of powers, which has been the stumbling block for many years in
constitutional debates. We agreed in Victoria on a formula of
amendment, and a formula of repatriation, subject to other things.
These other things didn’t happen, so the thing collapsed. Now
my view would be that we should bring the BNA Act back, we should
give ourselves the right to amend it, and then once it is in Canada
we should go on to try to discuss the division of powers. I can’t
believe any Canadian citizen from any province thinks, for instance,
that the division of power has more chances of being altered when
the constitution is in Britain than when it’s in Canada. If there
is to be a change in the division of powers it will have to be
discussed and agreed upon in Canada, and therefore there is no
real right or reason or need to have that constitution in the United
Kingdom. And you know, I’m prepared to put this case to the Canadiam
people quite clearly and I can’t imagine anyone, except those who
don’t believe in Canada, who see any interest in having our
constitution sit in some,other country, and who will use all kinds
of pretexts to keep it there.

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