Memorandum from R.G. Robertson [Prime Minister’s Speech in the debate on the Address: section on constitutional repatriation] to Mr. Kirby (16 September 1974)

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Date: 1974-09-16
By: R.G. Robertson
Citation: Memorandum from R.G. Robertson to Mr. Kirby (16 September 1974).
Other formats: Click here to view the original document (PDF).


September 16th, 1974.

c.c.: Mr. Austin
Mr. Nixon
Mr. Hudon
Mr. Smith


Prime Minister’s Speech
in the debate on the
Address: section on
constitutional repatriation

Attached are two copies of a first crack at a section for the Prime Minister’s speech on the subject of “constitutional repatriation” which I undertook to draft.

In order to get a running start at the section, I gave some thought to the way conceivably the Prime Minister’s speech might open and lead into the general connecting theme that we discussed on Friday. That is also herewith – it simply precedes the section on constitutional repatriation while indicating a gap into which would be fitted something on “the proper role of government” which Gordon Smith is preparing. There are undoubtedly a dozen ways of introducing the speech and you may have at least eleven that are better than this. However, for what it is worth, here it is.

This section on constitutional repatriation does not go at all into anything but the problem of. the procedure of amendment. That of course is the crux of the problem of “repatriation”. When we discuss this matter with the Prime Minister, it will be desirable to consider whether he would want to say anything at all on other aspects of the constitutional question. I have in mind particularly the matter of constitutional guarantees for fundamental rights. These are, of course, particularly connected with the basic theme of “the individual”. It would be logical and consistent to say something about it but, on the other hand, the Prime Minister may think that it would be tactically wisest not to get into any matters of

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substance. If the federal government begins to talk “substance” in its proposals on the constitution, it can be expected that the provinces — and especially Quebec — will do the same and there will be no chance of achieving the prime objective of repatriation. In any event, the draft herewith may provide a starting point for discussion.


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