Memorandum from R.G. Robertson [“Patriation” of the B.N.A. Act] to Mr. Carter (3 February 1975)
By: R.G. Robertson
Citation: Memorandum from R.G. Robertson to Mr. Carter (3 February 1975).
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February 3rd, 1975.
c.c.: Mr. Bryce
MEMORANDUM FOR MR. CARTER
“Patriation” of the B.N.A. Act
Since we last spoke of the problem that is presented by the Prime Minister’s desire to take another run at the question of patriating the B.N.A. Act, I have been giving some thought to possible tactical approaches. A conceivable one would be to make clear that, if an amending procedure cannot be worked out, the federal government is prepared to “patriate” the Constitution without one. A number of the arguments against any such course of action are all too obvious. On the other hand, it might be a means, if it is at all feasible, by which one could make clear that the provinces would not necessarily have everything their own way if they simply stone- wall and refuse to agree on any procedure. It may seem worse for them – or for some of them – to have the Constitution completely frozen or else in federal hands than to accept some reasonable amending procedure such as the one that was included in the Victoria Charter.
As a first step in considering this possible line, I have sent the attached memorandum to Barbara Reed. She may come back and say that there are legal problems of such an order that this course would simply not be feasible. Barring that possibility, I would be interested in any views you may have as to the political and tactical considerations that you see involved in this idea.