Federal-Provincial Conference of First Ministers, Peter Lougheed to Prime Minister Trudeau, October 14, 1976 (30 October-1 November 1978)

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Date: 1976-10-30
By: Peter Lougheed
Citation: Federal-Provincial Conference of First Ministers, Peter Lougheed to Prime Minister Trudeau, October 14, 1976, Doc 800-8/013 (Ottawa: 30 October-1 November 1978).
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DOCUMENT 800-8/013


Premier Lougheed to Prime Minister Trudeau
October 14, 1976

October 30-November 1, 1978


My dear Prime Minister,

Further to my letter of September 2, 1976 and my telex of October 3, 1976, I wish to inform you
of the outcome of the deliberations by the ten Canadian Premiers on the issues raised by you in your
letter of March 31, 1976 relative to patriation of the Constitution from Westminster to Canada.

Your letter of March 31, 1976 outlined three possible options and served as a framework for our
deliberations. The provinces agreed in May 1976 to proceed with an examination of all three
options. You will recall that your option 3 includes patriation, an amending formula and a number of
other substantive changes to the British North America Act which were contained in the draft
proclamation appended to your letter ofMarch 31, 1976. You will also recall that when the premiers
had private discussions on this matter at your residence during the evening of June 14, 1976, you
indicated that you would be prepared to accept any proposal which had been unanimously agreed to
by the provinces.

At the same time, you indicated that you hoped we could consider the matter over the summer
and report to you early in the fall as to the outcome of our deliberations and discussions.

As Chairman of the Annual Conference of Premiers, I would like to now deal with the matters
as they were outlined in your letter of March 31, 1976.


All provinces agreed with the objective of patriation. They also agreed that patriation should
not be undertaken without a consensus being developed on an expansion of the role of the provinces
and/or jurisdiction in the following areas: culture, communications, Supreme Court of Canada,
spending power. Senate representation and regional disparities. Later in the letter I will endeavour to
give you some idea of our discussions on the above matters.

Amending Formula

Considerable time was spent on this important subject and the unanimous agreement of the
provinces was not secured on a specific formula. Eight provinces agreed to the amending formula as
drafted in Victoria in 1971 and as proposed by you in your draft proclamation. British Columbia
wishes to have the Victoria Formula modified to re?ect its view that British Columbia should be
treated as a distinct entity with its own separate veto. In this sense it would be in the same position as
Ontario and Quebec. Alberta held to the view that a constitutional amending formula should not
permit an amendment that would take away rights, proprietary interests and jurisdiction from any
province without the concurrence of that province. In this regard, Alberta was refen’ing to matters
arising under Sections 92, 93 and 109 of the British North America Act.

Matters Unanimously Agreed To

A number of matters were dealt with and unanimously agreed to. Specific texts were consi-
dered and given approval, subject to revision by draftsmen.

a) A greater degree of provincial involvement in immigration.

b)A confirmation of the language rights of English and French generally along the lines
discussed in Victoria in 1971.

c) A strengthening of jurisdiction of provincial governments of taxation in the areas of primary
production from lands, mines, minerals and forests.

d) A provision that the declaratory powers of the federal government to declare a particular work
for the general advantage of Canada would only be exercised when the province affected

e) That a conference cotnpuscd of the eleven First Ministers of Canada should be held at least
once a year as a constitutional requirement.

f) That the creation of new provinces should be subject to any amending formula consensus.

As already mentioned under the remarks on patriation, the provinces were of the view that
while patriation was desirable it should be accompanied by the expansion of provincialjurisdiction
and involvement in certain areas. The Premiers believed that discussions on these matters should be
held with the federal government because they involve the federal government to a significant

a) Culture — You will recall that culture was referred to in Parts IV and VI of the draft
proclamation. The interprovincial discussions on culture focused on the addition of a new
concurrent power to be included in the Constitution. This power would refer to arts, literature
and cultural heritage and would be subject to provincial paramountcy. On this matter, there
was a high degree of consensus on the principle and considerable progress was made with
respect to a solution. There was also, however, firm opinion from one province that the
provinces and the federal government should have concurrent jurisdictional powers in the

b) Communications — In the draft proclamation, communications was referred to in Part VI.
Discussions on this subject related to a greater provincial control in communications,
particularly in the area of cable television.

c) Supreme Court of Canada — In general, discussions on this topic developed from those
articles found in Part II of the draft proclamation. The provinces unanimously agreed to a
greater role for the provinces in the appointment of Supreme Court judges than provided for
in the draft proclamation. In addition, a number of other modifications were suggested to the
provisions found in the draft proclamation.

d) Spending Power — Discussion on this matter focused on the necessity and desirablity of
having a consensus mechanism which must be applied before the federal government could
exercise its spending power in areas of provincial jurisdiction.

e) Senate Representation — Discussion on this subject related to British Columbia’s proposal
that Senate representation for that province be increased.

f) Regional Disparities and Equalization — In the draft proclamation, Regional Disparities
was referred to in Part V. The discussions on this topic focused on the expansion and
strengthening of this section to include a reference to equalization. There was unanimous
agreement on the clause contained in the draft proclamation and a high degree of consensus
on incorporating clauses in the Constitution providing for equalization.

Other matters were discussed. but it was felt by the Premiers that their deliberations had been of
a preliminary and exploratory nature. As such, in any future meeting it is possible that individual

provinces may present additional suggestions for considerutmn.

The Premiers were of the view that significant progress on this complex matter had occurred. It
was felt that further progress would require discussions between the provinces and the federal
government. It was concluded by the Premiers that the next step should be for you to meet with the
Premiers and develop the discussions reflected in this letter. The Premiers felt that it would now be
appropriate for them to accept your invitation for further discussions in the near future, at a mutually
agreeable time.

Given the importance of this subject and the reference to it in your Throne Speech of October
12, 1976, the other Premiers may wish to join with me in tabling this letter before our respective
provincial legislatures or otherwise making this letter public on October 20, 1976. If you have any
objection could you please advise tne fonhwith.

Peter Lougheed

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