Memorandum from R.G. Robertson [“Patriation” of the Constitution: position of Quebec] to Mr. Hurley (15 October 1975)

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Date: 1975-10-15
By: R.G. Robertson
Citation: Memorandum from R.G. Robertson to Mr. Hurley (15 October 1975).
Other formats: Click here to view the original document (PDF).


October 15, 1975.

c.c.: Mr. Carter
Mrs. Reed


“Patriation” of the Constitution:
position of Quebec

I had a further telephone call from
Julien Chouinard today to bring me up-to-date on
some further reactions and developments there.

As you know, Mr. Bourassa had announced
some weeks ago that the special meeting of the
provincial Cabinet on October 8 and 9 would, among
other things, discuss the “patriation” of the
constitution. Apparently it did so and Mr. Bourassa
spoke to Chouinard on Sunday evening, October 12,
about the reactions there. Apparently, the Cabinet
was “pas très enthousiaste” about the “patriation”
exercise because of the troublesome debate they
thought it would cause with the difficulties concern-
ing Bill 22 and other things of that kind. There
was apparently also a generally held view (“opinion
prévalue”) – but not any specific decision –
that it would be important to try, if at all possible,
to resolve the problem on “communications” before
anything developed on “patriation”.

In the light of this situation,
Mr. Bourassa expressed himself to Chouinard as being
“uh peu moins enthousiaste” about the plan on the
basis of our draft proclamation but he went on to
say that “il ne renonce pas” the idea of proceeding
with it. He raised specifically the question whether
it would not be possible to try to work out some
sort of an agreement on “communications” that would
demonstrate that there is reality about the idea
in our paragraph 6.

Mr. Bourassa apparently raised again
the question of including the “spending power”
in the package. I got the clear impression that
Chouinard is fully aware of all the arguments there


are against this as set forth in page 3 of my
memorandum of October 10 to the Prime Minister.

I told Chouinard that I thought it
was pretty doubtful whether an agreement could be
worked out on “communications” that would be satis-
factory from the point of view Mr. Bourassa has in
mind. Ambitions have become so great at the
provincial end that almost anything that is likely
to be acceptable to the federal government will
seem to be inadequate there. I said that I would,
however, have the matter looked at forthwith to see
if there seemed to be anything that might be proposed.

Mr. Chouinard does not apparently
have a copy of the formulation that we discussed
during the Constitutional Review on the spending
power nor does he have the record of positions
taken and the final disposition. Would you please
search out the essential material and put it in a
form that I can send to Mr. Chouinard with a very
short covering letter.

Would you please also consider the
question referred to above about some kind of
agreement about “communications”.


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