Constitutional Conference, External Relations (10-12 February 1969)

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Date: 1969-02-10
By: Secretariat of the Conference
Citation: Constitutional Conference, External Relations (Ottawa: 10-12 February 1969).
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The Constitutional Conference – February l969


l. It is not the Federal Government’s intention
to elaborate at this meeting on various proposals with
respect to the field of international relations, which
will be dealt with when formal discussion proceeds to
the question of external powers. Some indication of
the nature of federal proposals with respect to inter-
national conferences has already been given in the

paper on Federalism and International Conferences on

Education, which also contains an outline of federal
proposals on external aid. In addition, the paper on
Federalism and international Relations contains an out-
line of the general principles which will guide the
Canadian Government in putting forward proposals on matters
such as international agreements and other topics of pro-

vincial interest.

2. However, since tne question of international

relations has been raised at this meeting, I should

like to recall briefly the main elements of the Federal

Government’s stand, as expressed in these papers.

3. To put it as succinctly as possible, the
Government is convinced that in its dealings with other
states and with international organizations, Canada must
act as one country. At the same time, however, the
Government recognizes that these dealings should take
into account and reflect both the federal nature of the
Canadian Constitution and the interests of our two

founding linguistic communities.



4. The Government has repeatedly states its
position that in law as well as in practice only the
federal authorities can represent a federal state in
its relations with other states and with international
organizations. It has also been clearly stated that the
power to conclude international agreements rests exclu-

sively with the federal authorities.

5. The fact remains, however, that under the
constitution as interpreted by the Courts, the Parliament
of Canada is not empowered to enact legislation to im-
plement international agreements the subjects of which
are matters of provincial legislative competence. There
is the fact also that in recent years the range of inter-
national activities has expanded so as to encompass a
number of subjects falling at least partly within the

domestic jurisdiction of the provinces.

6. The Federal Government does not dispute the
legitimacy of the provinces’ aspirations to participate

at the international level in activities which, under

the constitution, come within the scope of their domestic
jurisdiction; indeed, it holds that the provinces are
justified in expecting to receive full cooperation from
the federal authorities in their endeavours outside
Canada, provided such endeavours are not utilized as
methods for the acquisition of an independent international
personality, distinct and separate from that of Canada.
The procedures which the Federal Government insists should
be respected in each particular case are not intended to
hinder, nor do they in fact hinder, the provinces in the
pursuit of their legitimate interests, but rather they

are designed to protect the integrity of Canada’s inter-

national personality.



7. With regard to agreements, the Federal Govern-
ment has no objection to the provinces entering into a
variety of arrangements with foreign states on subjects
coming within their legislative competence, so long as
the procedures followed respect federal congetence in
international relations. Such procedures exist and have
been used with success in the past. Under these proce-
dures, provinces may, for example, enter into informal
administrative arrangements with foreign jurisdictions,
involving, let us say, reciprocal recognition of legis-


8. The provinces may also enter into contracts of

a private or commercial nature.

9. The provinces may also benefit from more formal
arrangements with another country, provided that these
arrangements are subsumed under an international agreement
between the Canadian Government and the other country
concerned. Such an agreement may be designed to deal

with one project or arrangement or programme of cooperation,
for example as in the case of the Ad Hoc Covering Agreement
between France and Canada which authorized the France-
Quebec Education entente. Alternatively, Canada and the
other country concerned can sign a more general framework
agreement, such as that under which the France-Quebec
Cultural Entente was signed, which allows any interested
province to conclude arrangements with the other state

as authorized by the accord cadre.

10. The Federal Government is fully aware of the
fact that an increasing number of international organi-

zations and conferences discuss subjects which, under the



Canadian Constitution, come within the ambit of provincial
legislative competence. The Government recognizes the
legitimacy of the provinces’ desire to participate in

the formulation of the Canadian position and to be ade-
quately represented within the Canadian delegations to
such conferences. To achieve this, the Federal Government
has made it a regular practice to ensure that at such
conferences, first, the Canadian position takes into
account the views of the provinces and, second, the com-
position of the Canadian delegations takes proper

account of Canada’s federal structure.

ll. This is well illustrated by the practices

which have been followed in the past at various inter-
national conrcrences on education. when the Federal
Government receives an invitation for Canada to attend a
Commonwealth meeting on education, for instance, it
initiates consultations with the provinces and other
interested authorities in regard to both the composition
and the briefing of the Canadian delegation. in the past
this has enabled Provincial Ministers or senior officials
to play a substantial role in the work of Canadian
delegations, and we hope this practice can be expanded

in future.

l2. As another example, there is regular consul-
tation with regard to UNESCO meetings on matters related
to the provincial component of the Canadian delegation.
Provincial officials and Ministers are regularly attached

to the Canadian delegation as delegates, advisers or




l3. The Kinshasa Conference of Francophone

Education Ministers provides the most recent example
of the ability of Federal and Brovincial Governments
to innovate in this field in a manner which preserves

Canada’s identity while giving full recognition to
provincial interests. Canada was represented at that
Conference by delegates irom Ontario, New Brunswick
and Quebec under the distinguished co-chairmanship of
Premier Robichaud of New Brunswick, and the Ministre
d’Etat à l’Education du Quebec, the Hon. Jean-Marie
Morin. The provincial representatives were identified

by their province of origin, and spoke for their

provinces on technical matters relating to education,

while at the same time being clearly ider
Caladians. Federal advisers accompanied the Delegation.
To my mind, although these arrangements are only tempo-
rary and although they leave a number of problems
unsolved, they may point tue way toward reasonable

and practical solutions which will preserve the interests
of both orders of government in Canada while maintaining
the Canadian presence abroad. I hope they are a sign

of what we will be able to accomplish in the future.

14. I should add, lest there be any misunder-
standing, that the federal contribution to Canadian
delegations to eductional conferences is normally
confined to ussyes of foreign policy which may arise
on occasion, or to other matters of direct and obvious
interest to the central authority, for example,
administrative and protocol questions of Canada’s
contribution to the budget of the organization in




l5. In short, whether it be in dealings with
other countries or with international bodies, the
Federal Government has given proof of its willingness
to cooperate actively with tnc provincial governments
whenever and wherever cooperation is required for the

effective pursuit of the legitimate interests of the


16. Periodic consultations among officials in
Ottawa and the provincial capitals would make for an
easier and more productive exchange of ideas, and

heighten understanding of positions on all sides.

The Federal Government has, for its part, made a number

of specific proposals in respect of Canadian partici-
pation at international conferences on subjects of
interest and concern to the provinces, which may

be found in Chapter Vl of Federalism and International

Conferences on Education. we would welcome comments

and suggestions from others.

17. what is important is to expand and improve

the present framework for federal-provincial cooperation
abroad in those areas where the provinces have legitimate
interests and concerns. The Federal Government does
not intend to fix upon any one formula prior to a thorough
examination, in concert with provincial authorities, of
all the problems at hand. It is prepared to consider
any proposal provided it does not lead in the short run
or in the long run, to the destruction of Canadian unity.

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