Federal-Provincial Conference of First Ministers on the Constitution, Verbatim Transcript [Including Agreement on Constitution] (2-5 November 1981)

Document Information

Date: 1981-11-02
By: Secretariat of the Conference
Citation: Federal-Provincial Conference of First Ministers on the Constitution, Verbatim Transcript (unverified and unofficial) (Ottawa: 2-5 November 1981).
Other formats: Click here to view the original document (PDF).

*Verbatim Transcript coming soon.






First Ministers’ Agreement on the Constitution

November 5, 1981


November 2-5, 1981

November 5, 1981

In an effort to reach an acceptable consensus on the constitutional issue which meets the concerns of the federal government and a substantial number of provincial governments, the undersigned governments have agreed to the following:

(1) Patriation

(2) Amending Formula:

– Acceptance of the April Accord Amending Formula with the deletion of Section 3 which provides for fiscal compensation to a province which opts out of a constitutional amendment. 

– The Delegation of Legislative Authority from the April Accord is deleted.

(3) Charter of Rights and Freedoms:

– The entrenchment of the full Charter of Rights and Freedoms now before Parliament with the following changes:

(a) With respect to Mobility Rights the inclusion of the right of a province to undertake affirmative action programs for socially and economically disadvantaged individuals as long as a province’s employment rate was below the National average.

(b) A “notwithstanding” clause covering sections dealing with Fundamental Freedoms, Legal Rights and Equality Rights. Each “notwithstanding” provision would require reenactment not less frequently than once every five years.

(c) We have agreed that the provisions of Section 23 in respect of Minority Language Education Rights will apply to our provinces.

(4) The provisions of the Act now before Parliament relating to Equalization and Regional Disparities, and Non Renewable Natural Resources, Forestry Resources and Electrical Energy would be included.

(5) A constitutional conference as provided for in clause 36 of the Resolution, including in its agenda an item respecting constitutional matters that directly affect the Aboriginal peoples of Canada, including the identification and definition of the rights of those peoples to be included in the Constitution of Canada, shall be provided for in the Resolution. The Prime Minister of Canada shall invite representatives of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada to participate in the discussion of that time.

Dated at Ottawa this 5th day of November, 1981.


Pierre Elliott Trudeau
Prime Minister of Canada


William G. Davis, Premier

Nova Scotia

John M. Buchanan, Premier

New Brunswick

Richard B. Hatfield, Premier


Sterling R. Lyon, Premier

British Columbia

William R. Bennett, Premier

Prince Edward Island

Angus MacLean, Premier


Allan E. Blakeney, Premier


Peter Lougheed, Premier


Brian A. Peckford, Premier

Fact Sheet

The notwithstanding or override clause as applied to the Charter of Rights & Freedoms

A notwithstanding clause is one which enables a legislative body (federal and provincial) to enact expressly that a particular provision of an Act will be valid, notwithstanding the fact that it conflicts with a specific provision of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The notwithstanding principle has been recognized and is contained in a number of bills of rights, including the Canadian Bill of Rights (1960), the Alberta Bill of Rights (1972), The Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1975), the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code (1979), and Ontario’s Bill 7 to Amend its Human Rights Code (1981). 

How it would be applied

Any enactment overriding any specific provisions of the Charter would contain a clause expressly declaring that a specific provision of the proposed enactment shall operate, notwithstanding a specific provision of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Any notwithstanding enactment would have to be reviewed and renewed every five years by the enacting legislature if it were to remain in force. 


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