First Ministers’ Meeting on the Constitution, Meech Lake communiqué (30 April 1987)

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Date: 1987-04-30
By: Secretariat of the Conference
Citation: First Ministers’ Meeting on the Constitution, Meech Lake communiqué (Meech Lake: 30 April 1987).
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April 30, 1987
Meech Lake communigué
At their meeting today at Meech Lake, the
Prime Minister and the ten Premiers agreed to ask
officials to transform into a constitutional text the
agreement in principle found in the attached document.
First Ministers also agreed to hold a
constitutional conference within weeks to approve a
formal text intended to allow Quebec to resume its
place as a full participant-in Canada’s constitutional
development. V

The Constitution of Canada shall be interpreted in
a manner consistent with
a) the recognition that the existence of
French—speaking Canada, centred in but not
limited to Quebec, and English—speaking
Canada, concentrated outside Quebec but also
present in Quebec, constitutes a fundamental
characteristic of Canada; and ‘
b) the recognition that Quebec constitutes
within Canada a distinct society.
Parliament and the provincial legislatures, in the
exercise of their respective powers, are committed
to preserving the fundamental characteristic of
Canada referred to in paragraph (1)(a).
The role of the legislature and Government of
Quebec to preserve and promote the distinct
identity of Quebec referred to in paragraph (l)(b)
is affirmed. _

Provide under the Constitution that the Government
of Canada shall negotiate an immigration agreement
appropriate to the needs and circumstances of a
province that so requests and that, once
concluded, the agreement may be entrenched at the
request of the province:
such agreements must recognize the federal
government’s power to set national standards and
objectives relating to immigration, such as the
ability to determine general categories of
immigrants, to establish overall levels of
immigration and prescribe categories of
inadmissible persons;
under the foregoing provisions, conclude in the
first instance an agreement with Quebec that
° incorporate the principles of the
Cullen—Couture agreement on the selection
abroad and in Canada of independent
immigrants, visitors for medical treatment,
students and temporary workers, and on the
selection of refugees abroad and economic
criteria for family reunification and
assisted relatives;
° guarantee that Quebec will receive a number
of immigrants, including refugees, within the
annual total established by the federal
government for all of Canada proportionate to
its share of the population of Canada, with
the right to exceed that figure by 5% for
demographic reasons; and
° provide an undertaking by Canada to withdraw
services (except citizenship services) for
the reception and integration (including
linguistic and cultural) of all foreign
nationals wishing to settle in Quebec where
services are to be provided by Quebec with
such withdrawal to be accompanied by
reasonable compensation;
nothing in the foregoing should be construed as
preventing the negotiation of similar agreements
with other provinces.

Entrench the Supreme Court and the requirement
that at least three of the nine justices appointed
be from the civil bar; I‘
provide that, where there is a vacancy on the
Supreme Court, the federal government shall
appoint a person from a list of candidates ‘
proposed by the provinces and who is acceptable to
the federal government. . _

— Stipulate that Canada must provide reasonable
compensation to any province that does not
‘ participate in a future national shared-cost
program in an area of exclusive provincial
jurisdiction if that province undertakes its own
initiative or programs compatible with national

Maintain the current general amending formula set
out in section 38, which requires the consent of
Parliament and at least two—thirds of the
provinces representing at least fifty percent of
the population;
guarantee reasonable compensation in all cases
where a province opts out of an amendment
transferring provincial jurisdiction to
Parliament: .
because opting out of constitutional amendments to
matters set out in section 42 of the Constitution
Act, 1982 is not possible, require the consent of
Parliament and all the provinces for such .

Require that a First Ministers‘ Conference on the
Ccnltitution be held not less than once per year
and that the first be held within twelve months of
proclamation of this amendment but not later than
the and of 1988; _
ontrench in the Constitution the following items
on the agenda: _
1) Senate reform including;
— the functions and role of the Senate;
– the powers of the Senate; ‘
— the method of selection of Senators;
– the distribution of Senate seats;
2) fisheries roles and responsibilities; and
3) other agreed upon matters;
entrench in the Constitution the annual First
Ministers‘_Conference on the Economy now held
under the terms of the February 1985 Memorandum of
until constitutional amendments regarding the
Senate are accomplished the federal government
shall appoint persons from lists of candidates
provided by provinces where vacancies occur and
who are acceptable to the federal government.

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