Memorandum for R.G. Robertson – Re: Private discussion with the Premiers Re: “Patriation” of the Constitution

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Office of The
Prime Minister

Cabinet du
Premier Ministre

April 11, 1975.

MEMORANDUM FOR R.G. ROBERTSON

From: Mary E. Macdonald

RE: PRIVATE DISCUSSION WITH THE
PREMIERS RE “PATRIATION”
OF THE CONSTITUTION


The Prime Minister as commented as follows:

R.G.R

April 9th – Spoke to Premiers at dinner. There was a great deal of support. They all said they would receive you gladly, though some (Moores) said he was so supportive he did not even have to disccus it. Davis was interested in the timing as was Bourassa; suggested that just before Olympics might be a good time. Later, Bourassa said he would give it a lot of thought and was anxious to discuss with you. I made it quite clear that we would not be opening sec. 91-92. He said he understood and said he was more interested in “guarantees”. (Bill of Rights?)”

M.E.M.

c.c. Jack Austin


CONFIDENTIAL

PRIVATE DISCUSSION WITH THE PREMIERS RE “PATRIATION”
OF THE CONSTITUTION

You may wish to say something to the Premiers along the following lines:

a) To recall that at Victoria in 1971 there was complete agreement on the amending procedure.

– Mr. Bourassa‘s reasons for saying “Non” did not include any rejection or criticism of the procedure.

b) To point out that Canada is the only country in the world that is unable to amend its own constitution in all respects.

– It is a national indignity and the sole remnant of our colonial status.

c) To remind them that we have been trying for 50 years to get agreement on an amending procedure and to “patriate” the BNA Act.

– We did finally get agreement on the procedure at Victoria.

– It would be a historic achievement if you and the 10 Premiers could be the ones who completed the task of “patriation”.

d) You think it would be most unwise to re-open any discussion of the substance of the constitution at this time.

– There would be many points of disagreement.
– It would take months and years.
– It would divert a great deal of the time and effort of First Ministers at a time when there are many other very urgent matters.

e) Changes in the Constitution can be considered later and can be made under the new procedure.

– There will be no more problems about doing them then, as time permits and as circumstances require.

f) You would like to have Mr. Robertson visit each of them, on your behalf, in the next month or two to discuss your proposal and what it would involve and you would be writing to each to give fuller information in advance of his visit.

*For handwritten note in the original, please consult the PDF.

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