(Telex) Statement from Premier Lougheed to Trudeau, Premiers, Clark, and Broadbent re Constitutional Resolution and Native Rights (20 November 1981)
By: Peter Lougheed, Government of Alberta
Citation: (Telex) Statement from Premier Lougheed to Pierre Trudeau, William Bennett, Howard Pawley, Richard Hatfield, John Buchanan, William Davis, James Lee, Allan Blakeney, Joe Clark, Ed Broadbent (20 November 1981) re Constitutional Resolution and Native Rights.
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NOVEMBER 20, 1981
The Right Honourable Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario
Honourable William Bennett, Premier of British Columbia, Victoria, British Columbia
Honourable Howard Pawley, Premier-Elect of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Honourable Richard Hatfield, Premier of Newfoundland, St. John’s, Newfoundland
Honourable John Buchanan, Premier of Nova Scotia, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Honourable William Davis, Premier of Ontario, Toronto, Ontario
Honourable James Lee, Premier of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Honourable Allan Blakeney Premier of Saskatchewan, Regina, Saskatchewan
STATEMENT BY PREMIER LOUGHEED
RE: CONSTITUTIONAL RESOLUTION AND NATIVE RIGHTS
Alberta would like to make a suggestion with regard to native rights in the proposed new Canadian constitution for your consideration. We do so with the purpose not to alter the important constitutional accord signed on November 5, 1981 in Ottawa by the Federal Government and nine Provinces, but to perhaps improve the constitutional resolution prior to proclamation. Thus, our proposal is subject to concurrence by all 10 governments that signed the November 5, 1981 accord.
The Indian people of Canada by virtue of their treaty rights are the primary responsibility of the federal government. The constitutional resolution now before Parliament Clearly protects and safeguards such treaty rights by virtue of sections 25 and 26.
First ministers will recall during our discussions in Ottawa on November 5, 1981 that the former section 34 was a cause of some concern to a number of premiers who were uncertain as to its full consequences and implications. It should be noted that the former section 34 did not form part of the federal government’s initial resolution introduced in parliament on October 2, 1981 but was added later as a result of representations by native organizations. My recollection of November 5th is that a number of premiers felt that more consideration was required as the provinces [text illegible] are the primary responsibility of the federal government. The constitutional resolution now before Parliament clearly protects and safeguards such treaty rights by virtue of sections 25 and 26.
First Ministers will recall during our discussions in Ottawa on November 5, 1981 that the former Section 34 was a cause of some certain to a number of premiers who were uncertain as to its full consequences and implications. It should be noted that the former Section 34 did not form part of the federal government’s initial resolution introduced in Parliament in October 2, 1980 but was added later as a result of representations by native organizations. My recollection of November 5th is that a number of Premiers felt that more consideration was required as the provinces had not been party to the discussion which led to the inclusion of the former section 34. My further recollection is that the ten Governments agreed that the matter could be resolved pursuant to what has now become section 36(2) in order to identify and define the Native rights being requested.
The provinces, such as Alberta, have a primary responsibility for the Metis peoples residing in our province who are clearly part of the aboriginal peoples of Canada. Since returning to Alberta after November 5th, we have had extensive discussions with the elected representatives of the Metis people of Alberta through their provincial association. They have convinced us that it would be desirable to include now and not later in the Canadian Constitution a positive declaration respecting the rights of the Metis people. We have discussed a possible provision for doing so which we believe is an improvement and clarification compared to the terminology of the former Section 34.
We therefore suggest a new section be added as follows:
1. The Aboriginal and treaty rights of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada, as those rights exist prior to the coming into force of this part, are affirmed.
2. The rights affirmed under subsection (1) include rights subsequently included in the constitution of Canada pursuant to section 36.
3. In this Act, Aboriginal peoples of Canada includes the Indian, Inuit and Metis peoples of Canada.
We trust you will consider such a section as an improvement over the former Section 34. We repeat though that the issue of native rights should not be used as a lever to further open up for the other provisions the constitutional accord signed on November 5, 1981.
Office of the Premier
CC The Right Honourable Joe Clark, Leader of the Official Opposition