First Ministers’ Constitutional Conference- Third Working Session- Statement of Conclusions

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February 9, 1971
Page 1
Constitutional Conference
Third Working Session
Ottawa, February 8 and 9, l97l
1. In accordance with the conclusion of their working
session last September, the First Ministers gave priority to
the questions of an amending formula and an early patriation
of the Canadian Constitution. The Conference agreed that the
Government of Canada and the provinces should proceed as
quickly as possible to patriate the Constitution, with an
appropriate amending formula applicable entirely within
Canada, and with such other changes as can be agreed upon
quickly. This approach would permit a substantial degree of
progress to be made quickly, while work on other aspects of
constitutional revision continues. The First Ministers
considered that such action might incorporate the elements
set forth in the following paragraphs. However, the First
Ministers reserved their right to gurgher analyze all the
juridical and other implications.
Patriation of the Constitution
2, The Constitutional Conference agreed on a procedure
to be undertaken in Canada at a very early date in order to
bring home the Constitution and to transfer to the people of
Canada, through their elected representatives, the exclusive
power to amend and to enact constitutional provisions affecting
Canada. This procedure would involve:
(a) Agreement among the governments as to
changes and procedure.
(b) Approval of a resolution in the usual way, by
legislatures plus the two Houses of Parliament,
authorizing the issuance of a proclamation by
the Governor General to contain the amendment
formula and whatever changes are agreed upon.

February 9, 1971
Page 2
(c) Recommendation that the British Parliament
legislate to:
(1) recognize the legal validity of the
Canadian proclamation and its provisions;
(ii) provide that no future British law should
have application to Canada; and
(iii) make any consequential repeal or amendment
of British statutes affecting the Canadian
(d) Issuance of the proclamation by the Governor
General on a date to coincide with the effective
date of the British law.
The Amending Formula
3. The Constitutional Conference has considered the nature
of the formula which should be adopted to permit the Canadian
Constitution to be amended wholly within Canada. The First
Ministers agreed that the following formula was a feasible
General Procedure
All constitutional amendments in future,
except those covered in II and III, would
require a resolution of consent at the federal
level plus consent of the legislatures of a
majority of the provinces of Canada including:
(a) the legislature of any province now containing
at least 25% of the population of Canada, and of
any other province that hereafter contains 25%
of the population of Canada; and
(b) the legislatures of at least two provinces west
of Ontario providing that the consenting provinces
comprise 50% of the population of the provinces
west of Ontario and the legislatures of at least
two provinces east of Quebec.

February 9, 1971
Page 3
Federal and Provincial Constitutions
Sections 91(1) and 92(1) would be repealed and
replaced by a section giving the Parliament of Canada
and the legislatures of the provinces power to amend
their respective Constitutions except with regard to
the following matters when the general procedure set
out in I would apply:
(a)the functions of the Queen, Governor General and
Lieutenant Governors;
(b)need for annual sessions;
(c)maximum period between elections; (The above three would apply to the legislatures
as well as to Parliament; the following would
apply to Parliament only.)
(d)principle of proportionate and minimum representation
of members of Parliament from the provinces in the
House of Commons.
the number and residence qualification of Senators
representing each province, and the powers of the

Amendments of Concern to Canada plus One or More
but not All Provinces
Such changes would require a resolution of consent
at the federal level plus the consent of the legislatures
of the provinces concerned.

February 9 , 1971
Page 4
Fundamental Rights .
4- It was agreed to entrench in the Constitution the
following basic political rights:
(a) universal suffrage and free, democratic elections
at least every five years;
(b) freedom of thought, conscience and religion;
(c) freedom of opinion and expression; and
(d) freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
The exercise of these freedoms may be subject only
to such limitations as are prescribed by law and as are
reasonably justifiable in a democratic society in the interests
of national security, public safety, health or morals or the
fundamental rights and freedoms of others.
Language Rights
S. It was agreed that English and French should be
declared the official languages of Canada, with the following
provisions that would have equal application in all parts of
Canada and to both languages:
(a) Any person may use English or French:
(i) in the Debates of Parliament and, with reservations
expressed by some provinces, in the legislatures;
(ii) in any pleading or process in federal courts;
(iii) in communication with the federal administration.
(b) Federal statutes and instruments shall be in both
(c) The individual shall have the right to have English
or French as his main language of instruction in
publicly supported schools in areas where the
language of instruction of his choice is chosen by
a sufficient number of persons to justify the
‘provision of the necessary facilities. It was
recognized that some further consideration will
have to be given by various governments in order to

February 9, 1971
Page 5
determine appropriate administrative arrangements
to implement the provision, what constitutes a
“sufficient number”, and what should be the percentage
of instruction in the main language. Quebec lodged
a general reservation with respect to this sub-paragraph
pending an examination of all its implications.
(d) Parliament or a legislature may accord further
recognition to the two languages.
Supreme Court
6. It was agreed that the existence and the independence
of the Supreme Court of Canada should be entrenched in the
Constitution, which should also provide for its basic structure.
Its jurisdiction would continue to be that of a court of final
appeal for the country. It was also agreed that, while the
Federal Government should retain the power of appointment to
the court, the Constitution should recognize the importance of
provincial participation in the process of selection of suitable
candidates for appointment. It was also concluded that study
should be given to the means of assuring the availability on
the court of civil law judges to hear civil law appeals. It
was agreed, in addition, that there should be discussion of
the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to hear appeals in
matters of strictly provincial law.

February 9, l97l
Page 6
Regional Disparities
7. Recalling their conclusion on the subject of regional
disparities at the working session in September, the First
Ministers agreed that the Constitution should include a recog~
nition of the importance of equality of opportunity for all
Canadians. It was therefore concluded that the reduction of
regional disparities should be referred to both in a new
preamble and in the body of the Constitution.
(a) The preamble should state that one objective of
Confederation is the social, economic, and cultural
development, and the general welfare and equality of
opportunity for all citizens in whatever region they
may live; ‘
(b) In the body of the Constitution there should be a
statement of obligation on all governments, federal
and provincial
(i) to promote equality of opportunity and well-being
for all individuals;
(ii) to ensure, as nearly as possible, that essential
public services of reasonable quality will be
available to individual citizens.
(iii) to promote economic development which will
reduce disparities in the social and economic
opportunities of individual Canadians in whatever
region they may live.
This obligation would not be enforceable by the Courts
and would not have the effect of altering the distribution of
legislative powers.

February 9, 1971
Page 7
Mechanisms of Federal-Provincial Relations
8. It was agreed that the revised Constitution should
contain a provision, probably in the preamble, recognizing the
important role of intergovernmental consultation and cooperation
in the effective working of Canadian federalism. ‘Also, in order
to provide for the basic mechanisms of federal-provincial con-
sultation,there should be a specific provision that the Government
of Canada shall at least once a year consult with provincial
governments about the desirability of holding a Conference of
First Ministers.
Modernization of the Constitution
9. Finally, the First Ministers agreed that work will
be undertaken between now and the next meeting of the
Constitutional Conference in June to propose specific altera-
tions in the Constitution such as a new preamble and the
deletion of spent and irrelevant provisions. Specific
proposals in this respect will be brought forward for considera-
tion by the Conference in June.
Next Step
10- It was recognized that the next steps would
include further bilateral discussions leading up to the
next meeting of First Ministers, and in additi°n as required.
the on-going coordinating work of the Continuing Committee of

February 9, 1971
Page 8
Social Policy
l. The Conference heard the views of the Government
of Quebec on social policy in general and income security
in particular. Quebec emphasized a broad conception of
social policy and the importance of fitting income security
measures into a global integrated policy with the objective
of meeting effectively the problem of poverty. The u
Conference expressed its sympathy for this basic social
objective. Quebec emphasized the fact that the existing
distribution of legislative powers cannot be maintained if
it impedes the realization of that objective. In addition,
Quebec considers that the question of social policy is a
fundamental element of the constitutional revision as a whole.
2. The federal government, for its part, expressed its
desire to coordinate its income security measures with the
social policies of the provinces, in order that each provincial
government as well as the federal government may best realize
its social objectives. There is and should continue to be room
for different social policies in different provinces.
3. In regard to the Quebec proposals in particular, the
federal government noted that what was suggested in regard to
family allowances was very similar to the proposed federal
Family Income Security Plan. The Quebec statement also indi-
cated that the Old Age Security Pension and Guaranteed Income
Supplement would fit into its plans. Similar improvements in
the Quebec and Canada Pension Plans have also been proposed.

February 9, 1971
Page 9
4. Already decisions have been made to modify certain
features of the proposals for amending the Unemployment
Insurance Act on the basis of the information and arguments
advanced by Quebec Ministers. Only in the case of the General
Social Allowance Plan does there appear to be the necessity
for further time and study to ascertain what is practicable
during the near future.
5. The Conference was informed that bilateral discussions
had already been planned between provincial and federal ministers
and officials on these matters and their possible constitutional
implications, and a further meeting of the Ministers of Welfare
on income security was scheduled several months from now. The
First Ministers asked that this work be accelerated and that
the Ministers of Welfare report to the meeting of the First
Ministers in June.

February 9, 1971
Page 10
Canadian Interprovincial Marketing
6. Reference was made to current problems being
encountered in connection with interprovincial marketing
of certain agricultural products. The view was expressed
that the problem had still not been solved, since the last
discussion in September, and some provinces suggested that
the Federal Government should exercise existing constitutional
powers to deal with the matter. A further suggestion by some
provinces was that provincial marketing boards should retract
certain regulations that affect the freedom of movement of
goods, but another view was that this could not be done unless
other action were taken to replace such regulations and avoid
harm to local agricultural industries. In this connection, it
was suggested that the Farm Products Marketing Agencies Bill,
now before Parliament could facilitate a satisfactory resolution
of the problem.
7. It was also observed that the question of inter-
provincial trade was a fundamental constitutional question
which should be examined at a later meeting of the Conference.

February 9, 1971
Page ll
Environmental Manqement_- Pollution
B, The Constitutional Conference examined proposals
for constitutional changes in jurisdiction related to the
control of pollution.
9. In particular, the First Ministers considered a federal
proposal that there should be a new concurrent power for Parliament
and the provincial legislatures to make laws in relation to
the control of pollution of air and water. Under this
proposal, if there were a conflict between a federal law made
under this power and a provincial law made under it, the
federal law would prevail when it applies to control pollu-
tion which has, or if permitted would have, significant
international or,interprovincial effects, but in other circum-
stances the provincial law would prevail over the federal law.
l0. Some First Ministers expressed interest in this
proposal. Another view, however, was that new provisions
could better be considered after there has been more experience
in dealing with pollution; in the meantime, it would be prefer-
able to rely on improved arrangements for coordination and
cooperation between governments based upon existing constitutional
provisions. A further view was that areas of exclusive federal
and provincial jurisdiction would be preferable to the general
concurrency which has been proposed.
ll. It was agreed that the implications of various consti-
tutional approaches should be given further study.

February 9, l97l
Page 12
12. The Conference received a report from the
Continuing Committee of Officials on Paramountcy as
Applied to Public Retirement Insurance, and accepted the
recommendations regarding additional study.
Next Meeting
13. The Constitutional Conference confirmed that it
would meet next on June 14-l6 in Victoria and that the
meeting would be public, at least in part.

February 9, 1971
Page 13
l. The First Ministers discussed the unemployment
situation across Canada, and expressed their concern for the
problems being encountered by many Canadians this winter.
Several First Ministers urged the Government of Canada to
take additional action to alleviate the problem.
2. The Minister of Finance of Canada outlined the
policies of the Government of Canada to combat unemployment,
and stated that present indicators point to increasing
economic growth and declining unemployment as the year
progresses. He stressed that over-reaction would aggravate
the problem by causing a resurgence of the inflationary spiral
3. It was generally agreed that the federal and
provincial governments should consult together concerning
any possible additional steps which might be taken to
alleviate the present situation.

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