A Time For Action


"Seemed to me quite united for the whole length of my sojourn . . ."

Report of Jean Talon on the present state of Canada, 1667

"Canada is a vast Country of different elevations, capable, with its different Climates and degrees of exposure to the Sun, of yielding all the crops of olde France, without a single exception. Having, like France, warmth in the South, cold in the North, and a temperate zone midway between these two extremes.

"There are in many places naturall Meadows where grasses grow in great plenty, and of such good quality as to provide ample nourishment for all kinds of animals.

"Colde and dreadfull though the Winters be, the Climate is neverthelesse so healthfull that people are seldome sick and live a very long time, and the land, which is very uneven because of the Mountains and Valleys, is covered with a thick growth of trees which form one large Forest and which, to my mind, stifles fine, rich harvests.

"The fertility of the soyl is showne to us by the plentifull harvests which are produced each year from the cleared and cultivated land, all the more so as the fields are sown only from the end of April to the 15th of May, and yield their harvests at the end of August or the beginning of September. Thus all things necessary to life can be expected in abundant measure from this one Country if it is cleared and cultivated.

"The whole Country, variously watered by the St. Lawrence River and by other fine Rivers which empty into it, affords communication by means of these same Rivers with severall Indian nations rich in furs, particularly those which live in the North.

"Concerning the nations in the South, which we can reach by journeying up Lake Ontario, if the portages with which we are as yet unfamiliar are not too difficult, which, however, would not be without remedy, if these nations prove not to have the same plentifull supply of furs, they may have commodities of even greater value.

"It was on the first of these expeditions that Monsieur de Courcelles and I sent Seigneur de la Salle, who has a great eagernesse for these enterprises, while on another occasion I instructed Seigneur de St. Lusson to push toward the West for as long as he could find means of subsistence.

"When travelling from Newfoundland to Cape Breton Island, I was obliged to anchor off the St. Pierre Islands to take in water in quite a beautiful Bay with a capacity for fifty vessels. There I found thirteen fishermen, all of whom were French, and four local habitants, among whom was one Englishman who spoke our language perfectly.

"What I discovered with my own eyes, as much on the voyage I made last Winter as on my visit to the advance posts last Spring, has strongly confirmed me in the hope that New France will be able to supplye the Mother Country with a great deal of wood suitable for the construction of its vessels. In addition to ribs and planking, all appearances ensure extreamly good masts, since there is fir, spruce and red pine from which to make planks of such length and thicknesse as one would desire for a vessel's deck, bridge, cabins, beams and bow.

"I am not bolde enough to promise that the search for Mineralls will prove successful. But I am quite convinced that there is copper, iron and lead in Canada; this Country is so vast that it is difficult to come down on the exact place where they Iye buried. Neverthelesse, I perceive that every year new knowledge is gayned as application is given to this search.

"I work as much as I can to unite the isolated settlements and bring them closer together, and I strongly believe that in the future settlers should be part of a community, hamlet, village or town; to showe that this is an easy matter, I undertook to establish three villages in the neighbourhood of Quebec, which are already well advanced; I intend two more for the families which you purpose to send this year, and for whom the instruction which I have received directs me to prepare forty dwellings.

"Canada has come out of the inaction in which I found it on my return, and all its habitants thus far, including the women and maidens, have an open door to work so that, owing to the succour which the King graciously gave to families, and other bounties which He bestowed, the monies invested in the harvesting and cutting o f wood as well as the rest of the enterprises launched by His Majesty, everyone is stirring, and no one dare put his hand out to beg any more, unlesse it be a childe too feeble or a man too olde, maimed or sick with an incurable illnesse.

"The young people of Canada devote themselves, indeed throw themselves, into the study of the arts and sciences and the learning of trades, especially the seafaring ones, to such a degree that if this inclination is fostered a little, there is ground for hoping that this Country will become a nursery of navigators, fishermen, sailors and artisans, all having a naturall disposition to these occupations.

"The People are a medley, being composed of severall elements, and although the habitants come from different provinces of France, the temperaments of which do not always accord, they seemed to me quite united for the whole length of my sojourn."

Excerpts from the correspondence of the Intendant Talon, 1665-1673

Table of Contents


"Seemed to me quite united for the whole length of my sojourn . . ."

Chapter I -- A Time for Commitment


The Canadian challenge

Renewing ourselves

Chapter II -- Affirmation of the Canadian Identity

The Canadian model

Values we must share

Values we are free to choose

Learning to live with our differences

The means of discovery

Chapter III -- The Principles of Renewal

Pre-eminence of citizens and of their freedoms

Full respect of native rights

Full development of the two linguistic majorities

Enhancement of the mosaic of cultures

Self-development of regions

Fostering economic integration

Promoting national solidarity

Interdependence of the two orders of government

Strengthening Canada as a united country to serve all Canadians

Chapter IV -- Renewing the Practice of Federalism

The early years


Federalism in practice

The federal government's perspective

Proposals for action

Chapter V -- A New Constitution for Canada

Deficiencies of the Constitution

Working toward constitutional change

Major premises guiding renewal

The process and timing of change


Chapter I

A Time for Commitment

Something moves as it has never moved before in this land, moves dumbly in the deepest runnels of a collective mind, yet by sure direction toward a known goal. Sometimes by thought, more often by intuition, the Canadian people make the final discovery. They are discovering themselves.

Bruce Hutchison


With this document the government launches a new and intensive effort towards the renewal of the Canadian Federation.

Canada has recently entered a period of reappraisal. Canadians feel that the time has come to reconsider what we are and to determine what we want to become. From the Atlantic to the Pacific, we have been discussing our history and our future. This document deals with these two aspects of Canadian reality.

We made a country out of a continent. It has been a great adventure. We built it with our own hands--a country stretching from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island, from Point Pelee to the northernmost reaches of the Arctic Islands. It took scarcely longer than the span of a man's life to do it. Many Canadians still remember the era of new settlements, the clearing of the land, the great beginnings, the time when there were only five million of us, when our major cities--there were a dozen or so-- had populations of barely more than 20 thousand, when the railway and a handful of newspapers were the only means of linking region with region.

We came from everywhere. Some of our ancestors crossed the Bering Strait, others left the distant shores of Europe, Asia and Africa, still others came from the neighbouring lands of North America. Our first immigrants came from every province of France and Britain: later ones came from every corner of the world.

In order to adapt to the new continent, discover its spirit and learn to survive in its environment, our ancestors had to borrow the ways and customs of our native peoples--a first instance of the cultural interaction which was to recur every time a new ethnic group landed here. Haphazardly brought together along trails, roads and portages, our families mingled their labours, sufferings and joys, joined their traditions and buttressed their courage, so that this country could develop socially, politically and economically.

We claimed an immense, almost unfathomable land in which "the soul-- or the personality--seems to have indefinite room to expand," said the poet Rupert Brooke. A land which could encompass the 33 countries on the European continent, including the Soviet Union as far as the Urals. A country so enormous that the inhabitants of its various regions often visit neighbouring foreign cities--Seattle, Minneapolis, Detroit, New York or Boston, for example--long before the metropolises of other regions. A land so vast that many of us will never perceive its sweep, from north to south and east to west, except through the sometimes magnified and sometimes muted projections of the mass media.

If every part of the country looked like the next, whoever had seen one would have seen the others. But from the rocky coves of Newfoundland, to the gardens of the Niagara Peninsula, the flatlands of Saskatchewan, the rolling hills of the Laurentians and the peaks of the Rockies, where is the resemblance? We are all molded differently by our physical environment.

Molded differently, but in the same way as well. Gilles Vigneault's wintry land is not his alone; it is the pays of all Canadians. Indians and Inuit are not the only ones enraptured by the boreal magic of our northlands. The strange sense of boundless horizons does not rouse only Westerners, no r does the relentless d rift of eternal glaciers move only the people of our mountains. In this country what the eye cannot see, the spirit must capture.

Such is the adventure of Canada. It has no analogy and no precedent. It has been difficult, but it has not ceased to challenge and exalt us. If it is to continue to do so, its form and manifestations must be renewed. History is beckoning us. It is exhorting us to apply ourselves to Canada's renewal with the same determination and selflessness that were shown by those who originally built this country. The time for commitment has come again.

The Canadian challenge

How many times has it been said that this country could not work? The dissonant voices of communities strung like beads between two oceans, each affirming its will to survive and its regional identity, could easily have led to another Babel.

The Intendant Talon, the first of our statesmen to appreciate the immensity of the task begun in New France, was already concerned about unity three centuries ago. "/ work as much as I can", he wrote to Colbert, "to unite the isolated settlements and bring them closer together"; he noted that their temperaments were not always in accord; and he was relieved that "they seemed to me quite united for the whole length of my sojourn."

Since then, unity has continually been a preoccupation of all governments of Canada. We were long obsessed by the prejudices and antagonisms which our forebears brought with them from the "old" countries and which were intensified by the quarrels we drifted into here. A number of us still bear the scars of these quarrels, for some wounds cut very deeply. For example, the West, which we took almost a century to settle and develop, has often despaired and perhaps still despairs of catching up with the East, "where everything started." Many areas of Quebec, Ontario and especially the Atlantic, have similarly felt neglected and still feel neglected.

Nevertheless, the country was built. In this vast land, people gradually discovered that their distinctive qualities could usefully complement one another, that their aspirations could be reconciled, and that some of their basic values could be shared. Our collective will to live together was founded on this discovery. It has been the basis of a political balance between our various regions which is still fragile and must be secured.

Another delicate balance must be established more firmly--that between our French-speaking and English-speaking communities. For many years, the presence of a strongly-rooted French-speaking community, in a country where the majority felt itself to be essentially British, was perceived as a source of complications and difficulties with which one would still have to bear for some time. Now, it has become clear that this community is anything but temporary: it has survived, it has developed, it has established itself permanently within the Canadian fold .

But French-speaking Canadians remember the advantages they did not have, hopes that were not realized and the respect that they were denied. They are determined to see that the inequalities of the past are not repeated in the country at large, and especially not in Quebec, where they are concentrated. Human societies all too easily lapse into indifference: too often, they tend to extend respect only to the strong. French-speaking Canadians have too often learned that promises come to be respected when those who receive them can demand that they be honoured.

The same lesson has been learned by Canadians of other ethnic backgrounds who have settled here over the last hundred years. It has often taken a long time, and considerable effort, and extraordinary patience, to put an end to the vexations and the discrimination that have made so many Canadians who are not of British or French descent feel like second-class citizens in a country to which they have given their undivided loyalty. Even more bitter was the experience of Canada's native peoples, and even more pressing the need to recognize fully their dignity and their right to equal opportunity--a right they have yet to enjoy.

For the benefit of generations to come, therefore, we must strengthen the still delicate balance between regions, language communities, and ethnic and native groups, so that it will never again be compromised. This task challenges our hearts and minds, as it will test our wisdom.

Renewing ourselves

This test must begin with a form of exorcism. Too many outdated myths and old hang-ups persist in various parts of the country. They are like millstones around our necks; we must break the chains that bind us to them. Let us forget once and for all about the Plains of Abraham: the vanquished and vanquishers are dead. Let us "decolonize" Quebec in our own minds: Quebec is in full renaissance. Let us recognize the vitality of the Atlantic Provinces and dispel the pernicious notion that they are no longer capable of the major role they played in building this country. Let us see Ontario for what it is: a province open to all and developing to everyone's benefit, not a bastion of selfishness. Let us celebrate the success of the Western Provinces in growing out of their dependence on the East. Our national mythology must come to reflect the realities of contemporary Canada.

This watershed in Canadian history gives us a unique opportunity to reshape our national destiny and to reshape it as we see fit. To this destiny, our whole country, all our regions and all our people must be committed. To accomplish it, we require a political framework: this will be considered in the following chapters. We require much more--a new openness of spirit, a new dedication stirring and moving in the hearts of Canadians.

For in the final analysis, it is the collective will of all Canadians which will ensure this country's survival. This collective will can assert itself only if the Canadian people become fully aware of their identity and understand what it means to be part of Canada, as suggested in Chapter ll.

To achieve this understanding, Canadians need to unleash their curiosity and discover the other regions and communities of this country--just as the early settlers did. The beautiful passage by Bruce Hutchison which opens this chapter is prophetic, since it dates from 1957. Following in the footsteps of Cabot, Cartier, Mackenzie and Fraser, we must make the final discovery. It is for each of us to do this in our own way, in the circumstances of our particular lives. This document is addressed to all Canadians equally: it does not seek to give pleasure to the clear conscience of some or to arouse any sense of guilt in others.

Over the course of their history, Canadians have developed their own identity, their own conception of government and society and their own world perspective. The principles of the renewal proposed by the government must be based on this identity, this conception and this perspective. These principles are set out in the third chapter of this document.

In conformity with those principles, the government pledges in the following chapters to improve the operation of our federal system and to renew our Constitution. In this vital task, the government will seek the cooperation of provincial governments. A time-table for the various stages of the process has been worked out. We are determined not to allow undue delay in this undertaking, which in our view is crucial for the country.

The renewal proposed by the government is worthy of our aspirations. It will require the efforts of both levels of government and all citizens. Canada is well able to undertake this renewal, which will significantly enhance the economic, social, political and cultural well-being of all Canadians.

We shall complete it as swiftly as possible, so that we may soon devote our energies and resources to the innumerable other tasks which require our attention.

Chapter II - Affirmation of the Canadian Identity

Our country is as young as the first days of creation. Life here is still to be discovered and named: this dim face and this silent heart of ours, all of these landscapes from before the coming of man, waiting to be inhabited and possessed by us, and that indistinct word uttered in the night, all of this calls forth the day and the light.

Anne Hébert

The renewal of the Federation does not by any means require some basic change in the character of the Canadian people. In order to bring it about, we need only be ourselves--but more consistently and more faithfully than in the past.

In a word, the current crisis of confidence is a crisis of our maturing. It will make us an adult nation, more sure and more aware of what we are and of what we can become. By no means must we renounce our national personality, our regional characteristics or our distinctive cultural traits, whoever we are or wherever we live in Canada. On the contrary, we must assert the Canadian identity, establish once and for all what this identity consists of, and express it more vigorously through our actions, both individual and collective.

We have been obsessed with this search for identity for a long time. "The future of Canada, I believe, depends very largely upon the cultivation of a national spirit", proclaimed the parliamentarian Edward Blake, scarcely six years after Confederation; "we must find some common ground on which to unite, some common aspiration to be shared, and I think it can be found alone in the cultivation of that national spirit to which I have referred." But for a long time the linguistic duality and regional diversity of Canada have been perceived as almost insurmountable obstacles to the creation of "a peculiar national temperament and bent of mind", in the words used by Archibald Lampman in the 1880s. Well before Hugh McLennan explored the idea of two solitudes, Pierre Chauveau deplored the fact that we Canadians, "English and French, climb by a double flight of stairs toward the destinies reserved for us on this continent, without knowing each other, without meeting each other, and without ever seeing each other, except on the landing of politics. In social and literary terms, we are far more foreign to each other than the English and French of Europe." And Henri Bourassa warned that in Canada "there is Ontario patriotism, Quebec patriotism, or Western patriotism, each based on the hope that it may swallow up the others, but there is no Canadian patriotism, and we can have no Canadian nation when we have no Canadian patriotism."

In many respects, Blake, Lampman, Chauveau and Bourassa were right. More than ever, the survival of the country depends on the national spirit of Canadians. The renewal of the Canadian Federation must reflect a distinctly Canadian conception of the state and of society. We have built a lot of passageways between the two staircases on which our two linguistic communities are climbing "toward their destinies", and many more remain to be built.

But there was a basic flaw in the concept of national identity held by these early Canadians: they sought to cast Canada's identity into the inevitably more homogeneous mold of European nationalities. This was impossible, even at a time when the French and British were the only groups coexisting with native peoples within the Federation. Millions of people from other ethnic groups had to settle here for us to realize that Canada was irrevocably destined to be the country of diversity.

This is the first and perhaps the most important lesson which we must draw from our history. For to affirm Canada's identity we must first take stock of the nation's roots.

"A nation is a group of persons who have undertaken great projects together in the past and who hope to accomplish great things together in the future", said historian Frank Underhill, paraphrasing Michelet. The history of our first 110 years is full of great accomplishments; we have had so much to do that we have rarely taken the time to embroider these accomplishments into our national mythology or to tell each other how great they were.

Of course, Canada is still a young country. But this is no impediment to the crystallization of the Canadian identity, since this identity is based on traditions that are much older than the country. Well before 1967 we commemorated the centenary of the first colonies in the West, of the first landings on the Pacific coast and of the founding of Vancouver. The first Loyalists, drawn northward by a deep attachment to British values, began arriving in Ontario and the Maritimes two centuries ago.

We are celebrating this year the 370th anniversary of the founding of Quebec City, the capital of New France, which even as a colony was continental in scale. This same land became the focal point of a long period of survival, followed by a remarkable renaissance. The first French settlement in Acadia occurred even before the founding of Quebec, almost contemporaneously with the first influx of Scottish Highlanders into Nova Scotia, but much later than the winterings of several nationalities in Newfoundland .

In all parts of the country these immigrants encountered native populations rooted in this continent for thousands of years, without adequately recognizing the part they were to play in the establishment of the country.

The Canadian model

These successive migrations transplanted in Canadian soil the values of great civilizations. We therefore share with the societies from which we originally came or with which we interact, such as the United States, universal values, and others which are more particular. But the synthesis which we have made of these values is highly original: with the passage of time and the required adaptation to distinctive realities, these values have acquired specific Canadian characteristics.

These values motivate our behaviour as individuals and determine our personality as a country. They govern the relationships among the different groups in Canada and determine the character of our social institutions. They define the form of our government and prescribe the rules governing our political institutions. They shape our aspirations, forge our ideals and provide direction for our future. In short, these values determine what we may legitimately call, without undue pride but also without false modesty, the Canadian model. This synthesis of Canadian values is not fixed or unchangeable and hopefully will never be so. Canada is not a closed or rigid society -- quite the contrary, the dynamism which it draws from its openness and diversity, as well as its continuing development and progress, bring a perpetual process of renewal to the Canadian People.

There are times when our value system changes almost imperceptibly as a result of the trimming, pruning and grafting spontaneously practised on it by Canadians. But there are other times when the Canadian model must be updated in a more explicit way, through conscious and persistent efforts. We have now entered such a period of deliberate reappraisal, comparable in many ways to the troubled times in the last century which preceded Confederation.

Values we must share

The renewal of the Federation requires first of all that we become aware of the values which we need to share, regardless of the community to which we belong or the region where we live.

This country, which Jean Talon already called Canada three centuries ago, has molded us and has made us much more alike than we generally think. With our tendency to emphasize our distinctive characteristics as members of one linguistic community or another, or inhabitants of one region or another, we must often be reminded by foreigners how much we have in common. We are all too prone to reduce culture to language or ethnic origin and, consequently, to underestimate the cultural values which we share.

Can there be a Canadian, for example, whose outlook has not been deeply marked by the stretches of seemingly infinite space--the high seas of our maritime regions, the boundless horizons of our prairies, the endless unfoldings of the St. Lawrence Valley, the limitless reaches of our Great Lakes? We all feel the call of the north, "a window which opens out on the infinite, on the potential, on the future", the French academician André Siegfried noted some 40 years ago. We all have similar perceptions of nature and of the relationship between man and his environment; for the brute force of nature is more evident and man's dominion over nature more precarious in this country than elsewhere. Canadian art and literature bear abundant witness to these cultural traits, whichever language they may be expressed in, whatever may be their region of origin.

We also share a great number of social and economic values. Our spirit is North American. We all believe in the pre-eminence and fundamental freedoms of the individual citizen, in equal opportunity for all, in democratic values and respect for the rule of law. Canadians also believe in the dynamics of individual enterprise, in the effective use of government institutions to serve our collective development, and in the sharing of the country's wealth and income among individuals and regions. New and constant efforts are needed to achieve a better integration of these values in Canadian society, and the renewal of the Federation provides an opportunity to make further progress in this direction. We may be of different minds as to the means to be used, but we have no difficulty in agreeing on overall goals since a national consensus truly exists in these areas.

However, other values must also be enshrined in our national consensus. They concern language equality, cultural diversity, the dignity of our native peoples and the self-development of our various regions. The current crisis demands that we make the efforts necessary to entrench these values and to accept their practical consequences.

Basically, all that is required of us in this connection is to accept that what we ask for ourselves be extended to others. We all assert our right to speak the official language which is ours by birth or by choice, and to deal with government institutions in that language. We all insist on our right to preserve our cultural heritage and to seek the assistance of governments in doing so. We all wish to see our regions develop in their own way, and expect to be able to choose, with those among our fellow Canadians who are closest to us, the lifestyle which we prefer.

The renewal of the Federation must lead to the recognition by each of us that all other Canadians have, in these areas, aspirations similar to our own. In the name of the diversity which we call upon to justify our own enjoyment of individual and collective freedoms, we must accept that these freedoms be extended to all other Canadians and that they be given the means to exercise these liberties.

We must go a little further: not only to accept that other Canadians and their communities are different from our own and want to stay that way; but also to respect them for what they are. There can be no place in a renewed Canada for arrogant, domineering or contemptuous attitudes toward this or that community. Friendship, solidarity and respect among our different communities are essential values of the Canadian identity. Dedication to these values will enable us to achieve much more than the mere survival to which our more pessimistic thinkers would limit us; we will be able to grow, to develop, to fulfill our great potential.

Values we are free to choose

Once these values have been well integrated into the national consensus, we will at last be able to devote ourselves, serenely and without compunction, to the cultivation of Canadian diversity. Each community, for its own betterment and to some extent for the good of others, will be able to develop its language and its culture and its regional characteristics, whatever these may be. In all other respects we will be able to choose the values that shape our attitudes, our aspirations and our lifestyles, and to resist in all good conscience pressures from those who would impose on us, in the name of unity, a sterile and pointless uniformity.

For although some Canadians have until now been satisfied with too narrow a national consensus, one which excluded values essential to the unity, stability and prosperity of the Federation, others have attempted to extend the consensus too far. Canadian identity is not a steam roller, and one of the key goals of our federal system of government is precisely to preserve and promote diversity. Uniformity would make Canada totally uninteresting, and eventually deprive the country of its raison d'être. Northrop Frye, the well-known Canadian critic, has perhaps expressed the essential difference between uniformity and unity better than anyone:

Uniformity, where everyone "belongs", uses the same clichés, thinks alike and behaves alike, produces a society which seems comfortable at first but is totally lacking in human dignity. Real unity tolerates dissent and rejoices in variety of outlook and tradition, recognizes that it is man's destiny to unite and not divide, and understands that creating proletariats and scapegoats and second-class citizens is a mean and contemptible activity. Unity, so understood, is the extra dimension that raises the sense of belonging into genuine human life.

Learning to live with our differences

Why do we tend to complain about the distinctive character of other Canadians, while clinging so fiercely to our own? Why is it often difficult for us to accept that the institutions and symbols of the Federation should respect and celebrate the distinctive characteristics of other Canadians, while insisting that ours be respected and celebrated?

The admission made by an Inuit from Povungnituk to the visiting ethnologist applies to us all. "And so ignorant are we", he said, "in spite of all our shamans, that we fear everything unfamiliar. We fear what we see about us and we fear all the invisible things that are likewise about us, all that we have heard of in our forefathers' stories and myths. "

In many respects, Canada is a country which is still unaware of itself; it is therefore in many respects a country still afraid of itself.

In spite of all our "shamans"--our politicians, our intellectuals, our journalists--we are all too often unaware of what we have in common; so we fear that we may be too different to remain united as a country.

There can be no doubt that we are different; but we don't quite know to what extent and in what ways. Thus we fear the imaginary harm which the distinctive features of other Canadians might cause us, but we find it hard to believe that our own differences might similarly frighten them; for we are very comfortable with what makes us different and have good reason to consider ourselves harmless.

Our forefathers have left us many stories and myths concerning aspects of regions and communities other than our own. But we are still too often unaware that things have changed and that these myths are false.

How can we dispel these outdated myths? How can we become aware of all the values and experiences we have in common? How can we establish the Canadian identity while learning to live with our differences?

The means of discovery

To this end we have means incomparably more powerful and more efficient than those which were available to earlier generations of Canadians. These include the airplane, the railways, the automobile, our education system, newspapers and periodicals, books, radios, television and films-- in fact, everything that conveys human beings, their thoughts, their impressions and their hopes. It took La Vérendrye months to reach the Rockies; nowadays, a Montrealer can travel to Calgary in a few hours. It used to take months for news to travel from Halifax to Winnipeg; today, events can be relayed by radio or television in a few seconds. Books were until recently a luxury item which only the rich could afford; but mass publication has made them accessible to everyone. Not long ago, pictures could only be the work of artists, hanging in the homes of the rich, or else locked in the minds of the few who had the opportunity to travel; in our age television, photography and the cinema have brought an incredible wealth of images into every home. Our grandparents proudly remember the day when they heard a John A. Macdonald or a Wilfrid Laurier; today, radio and recording techniques enable us to replay at will the speeches of our politicians, to better understand and appraise them.

We therefore have all the means required to clarify the indistinct word heard by the poet Anne Hébert, and to bring forth the day and the light she glimpsed. But no government will ever be able to establish and develop the Canadian identity by way of legislation. Governments can help, support and facilitate the discoveries of Canadians; but this important dimension of the Federation's renewal can only be accomplished by the Canadian people.

In a democracy, it is up to the people to decide where they will travel and what they will read, watch or listen to. Thus, it is up to Canadians to discover the similarities which bind us together and the differences from which spring our diversity and which we can agree to preserve together.

Chapter III - The Principles of Renewal

The strength of Canada and the rationale for Canada is founded upon each of the regions complementing one another and balancing the weaknesses and strengths. These conditions change over time and sacrifices are involved but the commitment to one country is essential if the benefits of Confederation are to endure over time and through all circumstances.

Brandon Declaration of the Premiers of the Western Provinces

A fundamental renewal of the Federation is needed to resolve the crisis threatening the stability, unity and prosperity of the country.

The great debate on national unity has clearly indicated that most Canadians understand the need for renewal of the Federation and are determined to carry it out. "In every generation, Canadians have had to rework the miracle of their political existence", said Arthur Lower. The country best exhibits this resilience in time of crisis, so that even now it is springing back.

If it is to be successful, the renewal must be built on fundamental principles reflecting the basic realities of a diverse, complex and changing society. Drawing on our collective reflection, the government has defined the following principles and proposes that they guide the renewal of the Federation.

Pre-eminence of citizens and of their freedoms

The renewal of the Federation must confirm the preeminence of citizens over institutions, guarantee their rights and freedoms, and ensure that these rights and freedoms are inalienable.

The renewal of the practice of federalism, of its institutions, and of the Constitution must all be determined by the spirit and will of Canadians themselves.

No law of any Parliament can of itself develop understanding and friendship among Canada's communities or reinforce their solidarity. The people themselves must give life and form to the Canadian identity through their individual and joint actions.

Canadians will progress more rapidly in this direction if their governments recognize the pre-eminence of their rights and freedoms by entrenching them in the Constitution. Perhaps it is not essential to do this in a unitary state where one supreme Parliament, representing all the interests of the citizenry, can provide an ultimate guarantee for the rights of citizens. It is different in a federal system where different orders of government, representing different interests of the same citizenry, can have opposing views. Hence, in a federal system, the Constitution through its protection of rights and freedoms must serve the ultimate basis of national unity.

Canada is no exception. The supremacy of the Constitution necessarily follows from this first principle to the extent that the Constitution records the rules of democratic life, protects fundamental rights and liberties, provides for the distribution of powers and guarantees the independence of the judiciary.

Full respect of native rights

The renewal of the Federation must fully respect the legitimate rights of the native peoples, recognize their rightful place in the Canadian mosaic as the first inhabitants of the country, and give them the means of enjoying full equality of opportunity.

Justice demands full respect for the dignity and rights of native peoples.

In the past, we have not duly recognized the contribution of the country's first inhabitants, the Indian and Inuit peoples, to Canada's development. The settlement and development of lands which they were the first to occupy have often been carried out at their expense. More than any other group in Canada, the native peoples have suffered indignities and have not had the respect of their fellow citizens. Programs of support have often produced a state of dependence that eroded self-reliance.

For years, the Indians and Inuit have been demanding recognition of particular rights and of their proper place within Canadian society. They realize that they should be able to preserve their culture and their way of life in accordance with the same principle of diversity that the other Canadian communities invoke.

The renewal of the Federation must foster cooperation among Indians, Inuit and other Canadians in order that the descendants of those who first occupied this country might make their contribution, with equal rights and opportunities, to the strengthening of national unity, so that they too are recognized as founders of the future Canada.

The full development of the two linguistic majorities

The renewal of the Federation must guarantee the linguistic equality of its two major communities, the English-speaking and the French-speaking, and assure that Canadian institutions exist to help each group to prosper.

We must recognize clearly that there are in Canada, two major linguistic groups which are concentrated in different parts of the country. Each has the feeling that it forms a majority and consequently, seeks for its members equal status and equal rights.

The French language community forms the majority in that part of the land which extends from northern Ontario, encompasses the whole of Quebec, and stretches east to the outer reaches of Acadia. The English-speaking community forms the majority in the most eastern regions of the country and within that expanse of our territory extending from southern Ontario all the way to the Pacific coast.

We can say, therefore, that French-speaking Canada forms a bridge between the English-speaking population of the Atlantic provinces and that of the five most westerly provinces. Within the geographic area of each language community there are significant minorities of the other-- English-speakers or French-speakers.

Neither of the two linguistic communities could impose its will upon the other or try to subordinate the other without causing the Federation to fall apart. This political reality requires that all Canadians, regardless of their official language, develop mutual respect and understanding and an open and friendly attitude toward each other.

This reality certainly does not mean that most citizens have to become bilingual. However, it does mean that the equality of our two official languages must be recognized and guaranteed, and that the practical implications of this equality must be accepted. It means that the establishment of language equality within federal institutions must be completed and that, wherever numbers justify, provincial services must be administered to minorities in their official language. It should finally lead the institutions of the private sector to recognize that it is useful and even necessary in many parts of the country to operate in both official languages.

The enhancement of the mosaic of cultures

The renewal of the Federation must lead to respect for cultural diversity and fortheright of every citizen, regardless of ethnic origin, to equal opportunity. Every cultural community should be able to re/y on the goodwill of governments in preserving its own cultural heritage and in discovering and appreciating those of other communities.

For more than a century, people of other ethnic origins have come to Canada and settled beside those of British and French ancestry. A large number of them have joined the English-speaking majority and others the French-speaking majority, without in the process losing their individuality.

With the sheer weight of their numbers, it is natural that the French and British cultures occupy a major place in Canada. But there is no question of having only one or two official cultures; Canadian society must promote cultural diversity, clearly and explicitly.

This diversity will only be protected if we ensure that Canadians of all ethnic origins have equal opportunities and full protection against discrimination.

Our French and British traditions have not been weakened by the multicultural character of our society. On the contrary, by good fortune this increasing diversity has helped to reduce the old rivalry between them. They have also been invaluably enriched and revitalized in all fields--from the arts and sciences to economics and politics. Our two principal cultures will in no way be diminished by the determination of new communities to preserve their own cultural heritage.

We must therefore do more to develop and enhance all the elements of the Canadian mosaic. We must also significantly increase exchanges between our cultures, so that every Canadian has the chance to discover, appreciate and respect the heritage of his fellow-citizens.

The self-development of regions

The renewal of the Federation must, in all fields, promote the self-development of regions by avoiding excessive centralization.

Canada has always been, and still is today, a country of regions. Our geography dictates this and the people demand it. The federal structure of our system of government has made it possible for regional identities to develop and determine the nature and operations of social institutions to a much greater extent than in most countries having reached a comparable stage of development.

However, we have not always been able to resist, even in the private sector, certain tendencies toward excessively centralizing methods of economic or social organization. In the public sector, wars and the depression led to the temporary ascendancy of the federal authority which, however, was later reversed, often in favour of provincial authority. For these and other reasons, our Federation is more decentralized today than it was a century ago.

The renewal of the Federation, while strengthening its unity, must therefore enhance the self-development of its regions. This can be achieved through a more functional distribution of powers between the federal government and the provincial governments. A renewed commitment to reduce regional disparities is also required if all regions, and not only the more affluent, are to have the ability to develop in their own way and preserve their particular lifestyles and cultural traditions.

Fostering economic integration

The renewal of the Federation must lead to closer economic integration between the regions of the country and make it possible for all to share its benefits more equally.

The Federation gives its regions privileged access to a national market of over 23 million people. Access to the national market has thus enabled and still enables each region of Canada to raise the productivity of its industries, the profitability of its firms, the financial base of its public sector and the income of its residents.

But the integration of the Canadian economy remains to be completed and perfected. The free circulation of goods, services, capital and workers is not always adequately assured. The two levels of government have not yet succeeded in reconciling to their mutual satisfaction the imperatives of national economic integration and of regional self-development. It will be necessary to take these matters into consideration when the division of legislative powers is under review.

In addition, all of the regions have not benefitted equally from access to the national market because of differences in location, size, scale, resource endowments, infrastructure and economic organization, which may place a region at an advantage or disadvantage. Federal and provincial policies designed to correct these imbalances have not always proved as effective as they could be, and must be revised.

Promoting national solidarity

The renewal of the Federation must extend and strengthen solidarity between citizens of all regions and communities.

An old proverb says that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The same is true of human societies, particularly ours. Competition between regions can be invigorating; but it must be tempered with stronger and more extensive bonds of national solidarity.

The freedom and self-development of individual citizens, regions or communities can only be realized to their fullest extent with the occasional support of others. This basic truth, which the Premiers of our Western provinces so eloquently called to our attention in their 1977 Brandon Declaration, is a further raison díêtre of the Canadian Federation.

Our history is full of instances where national solidarity has been crucial and economically beneficial for all regions in turn. Confederation, by accelerating economic development in Quebec, stemmed the tide of French-speaking emigration to the United States. Quebec, by supporting financially, through the federal tax system, the construction of our transcontinental railways, made possible the settlement and development of the West.

Ontario, until recently, bore most of the burden of inter-provincial equalization and thus financially assisted the improvement of public services in the less affluent provinces; but Ontario was in a position to do this because other regions had earlier consented to tariff protection in order to stimulate the growth of manufacturing industries.

We are all aware that British Columbia and Alberta carried part of the cost of equalization as soon as their economies became buoyant enough for them to do so. Thus, all the citizens of Canada have enjoyed a more equal access to social benefits and public services, the cost of which is nevertheless borne to a greater extent by the taxpayers of the more prosperous regions through the federal tax system.

We are also aware that the oil-producing provinces of the West have agreed to spread the increase in the price of domestic oil over several years, so as to minimize disruption of other regional economies. They agreed all the more readily to this since earlier policies, again based on national solidarity, spurred the exploitation of their oil resources .

Solidarity is therefore essential for the unity of the country and must be strengthened. It must also be extended to areas other than the economy and public finance, such as language and culture.

Interdependence of the two orders of government

The renewal of the Federation must establish clearly the authority and role of the federal and provincial orders of government, recognizing their interdependence and sharing of internal sovereignty, with each order equally subject to the Constitution.

The Canadian Federation is by definition based on two orders of government which must be equally subject to the Constitution and share internal sovereignty. Although Canada has acquired a higher and broader allegiance, most of the provinces existed as political entities before joining Confederation and all have developed strong provincial identities. Each is free to determine its own political development provided it does not weaken Canadian unity.

The courts, through their interpretation of the Constitution, and the people, by expressing their will through the democratic process, have set limits to the centralizing tendencies of certain provisions of our constitution and have preserved the autonomy of the provinces. They have likewise conferred on the federal authority most of the powers necessary for the government of the Federation as a whole.

Such is the spirit of Canadian federalism. Some of the provisions of our Constitution are at variance with it and must be modified. In addition, the division of powers between the two authorities must be clarified and made more functional. Some of our government practices restrict the internal sovereignty of the two orders of government and must be revised.

Although sovereign in their respective spheres, the federal and provincial governments of the Federation are interdependent and must act in concert with each other. The interests of all the citizens and communities, more than any constitutional provision, make this cooperation at all times imperative.

Strengthening Canada as a united country to serve all Canadians

The renewal of the Federation must produce a Canada that has the strong support of all Canadians and to which their loyalties can and will be firmly attached. A Canada strong in such support and loyalty will be best able to serve the interests of Canadians.

Canada is far more than the sum of its parts. Whether it is in negotiations with respect to foreign trade, offshore territorial limits, fishing zones or defence, or in influence in international affairs generally, the unity of a Canada speaking for all Canadians is an inestimable advantage.

In the forum of nations Canada must speak and act as one: its international sovereignty is indivisible. This international sovereignty is therefore vested in the federal authority. Provincial authorities may make use of this sovereignty, but within the framework of the Federation.

Internally a united Canada, acting as a single community, can provide the structure and financing of programs that reduce the hazards of life for all Canadians-- programs such as unemployment insurance, family allowances, old age pensions, equalization payments, regional development assistance and oil subsidies, to mention only the most important. Political unity also makes the strength of all parts of Canada available for support in times of need. It provides all cultural communities, and particularly our French-speaking community, with an environment highly favourable to development and innovation, together with a broader sphere in which to fulfil and express themselves. Within that broader framework, concerted effort can also be devoted to scientific research, technological development, environmental protection and other programs to meet the needs of an advanced society.

For such purposes and for all the common action that a great community makes possible, the regions and groups that make up Canada must be united. Their unity requires a political framework and appropriate institutions. This framework is the Federation and these institutions the ones which make up the federal authority. The Constitution must define this framework and these institutions.

The unity of Canada must transcend the identification Canadians have with provinces, regions and linguistic or other differences. But for Canada to be deserving of the transcendant loyalty that such unity involves, there must be a sense that it does serve, as a country, the vital needs of all its citizens and communities. Each must feel that Canada, and the federal Parliament and government acting on his or her behalf, are the best guarantors of the security, progress and fulfilment that derive from the common action of free citizens in a democratic country. It is toward such a Canada-- united and strong --and such a sense on the part of all Canadians that our efforts must be directed in the renewal of our Federation

Chapter IV - Renewing the Practice of Federalism

...Undoubtedly, there is no simple rule for the myriad of relationships necessary among three levels of government in a country as varied and vast as Canada. We feel, however, that something can be done to make intergovernmental relations more meaningful, more direct, more efficient and more relevant to all Canadians...

Final Report of the Special Joint Committee of the Senate and of the House of Commons on the Constitution of Canada, 1972

Federalism can be an inefficient, confusing and demanding way to govern a country, but it does not have to be so. This is fortunate since, as far as Canada is concerned, federalism is the only system of government which can ensure that the needs and interests of citizens are well served.

The early years

In 1867, the Fathers of Confederation might have established a unitary state with a single, central government responsible for all matters. Alternatively, they might have established a confederation, with sovereign member units joining together for certain confederal purposes. However, the political, cultural and economic circumstances of the time dictated that neither of these avenues be chosen. Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick would never have accepted a unitary state. The early failure of the United States' attempt at a confederation precluded that option.

Instead, what was given shape was a state in which each citizen would be directly represented in a single Parliament as well as in one or other of the provincial legislatures, and in which both "orders of government", the federal and the provincial, would function within distinct and fairly well-defined areas of authority. This new country would have a federal rather than a unitary form of government, in order to permit people in the different provinces to retain control themselves over matters of particular importance or concern to them. Citizens would be better served, if they, rather than a more or less distant central authority, could decide about such questions. At the same time, the federal form was chosen, rather than a loose confederation which could provide neither the stability that was sought nor a lasting guarantee of shared benefits.

The responsibilities of the federal and provincial governments, as set out in the British North America Act, were intended to ensure that provincial governments would be able to control matters of local interest, while the federal government would have the capacity to deal with matters of concern to the country as a whole.

It is true that in 1867, and for many years thereafter, the responsibilities of the provincial governments were rather unimportant in the context of the times. Health services, education, highways and municipal institutions may have been the areas of potential government activity that were closest to the local community, but they were in general at a rudimentary stage of development. Furthermore, the key sources of revenue at the time, the customs duty and indirect taxes, were denied to the provinces. The federal Cabinet for its part, was not in the least reluctant to use its powers under the Constitution to disallow provincial legislation or to prevent its passage into law by ordering Lieutenant Governors to "reserve" their signatures on provincial Bills. These powers were used 149 times during the first 40 years after 1867, only 32 times since.

Two developments, one peculiar to Canada and one global, helped to shape the Federation as we know it today and brought Canada's governments together as partners, whether they liked it or not. First were the many judicial decisions, particularly towards the end of the 19th century, which gave larger meaning and substance to the power of provincial legislatures under Section 92 of the BNA Act and thus reduced the scope of the authority of Parliament. The other phenomenon was, of course, the growth of government--everywhere--beginning during World War I and accelerating in the '40s and '50s.

In those early decades, however, government activity and intervention were limited. Governments in Canada were not interdependent and did not regard themselves as such. They had little business to do with one another: there were no shared-cost programs; no income tax collection agreements (because there was no income tax); no Trans-Canada Highway Program (because there were no automobiles); and, of course, no controversies over airport sites!


Evidently, things have changed. A detailed recital of the relevant developments would fill volumes. Perhaps the essential point today is that all governments in Canada regard themselves not only as being affected by the actions of the other governments but as being dependent in some significant way on one or several of those governments: for advice, for technical assistance, for financial aid, for access to markets or to resources, for the administration of programs, for information. The importance of this interdependence needs no underlining. The increased involvement of governments in Canada in the lives and activities of citizens has made the federal system more complicated, but it has also greatly extended its potential benefits.

The increase in the interaction of the federal and provincial governments is not widely known. Almost 40 years elapsed from Confederation, in 1867, until the first conference of federal and provincial First Ministers was held, in 1906. In sharp contrast, in just the last 10 years (1968-1978), there have been 20 such meetings. Federal and provincial Ministers and senior officials come together at formal meetings an average of 500 times a year. There are federal and provincial programs concerned with all manner of things, from the gathering of Irish moss in the Atlantic provinces to highway safety, sewage treatment, and medical care (in all provinces). This year, the federal contribution, alone, towards federal-provincial activities, will approach $14 billion out of a total federal budget of $48.5 billion, taking into account the shared-cost programs and direct federal transfers to provincial governments.

Thus federalism in Canada is big business. Like many major enterprises, it is sometimes inefficient and results in some duplication of effort. It is not always clear where responsibility lies for a given activity or situation. Yet, everyone resident in Canada is affected every day in one way or another by our federal-provincial system. Whether, for example, a company is seeking a permit to drill for gas off Labrador, or an individual is going to the doctor, applying for legal aid, drinking a glass of water, buying a case of beer or, indeed, buying almost anything, the impact of (and on) the federal-provincial system is felt. Both orders of government, as everyone knows, impose a tax on most things one buys. These taxes go to finance, for example, our health insurance and social assistance programs, both of which came into being as a result of interaction between Canada's governments and both of which are managed by and are under provincial jurisdiction. The provincial and federal governments jointly establish water purification standards and carry out all manner of other useful activities together.

With little change in the terms of the Constitution, but with much talk, accommodation and compromise among our governments, Canadian federalism has done more than merely survive and become somewhat more complex. It has provided individual Canadians in every province with a high standard of government service. It has helped to reduce disparities between provinces and regions, and between people of different income groups.

Federalism in practice

Canadian federalism can be viewed from many perspectives. It can be seen, and is seen, as having cultural, linguistic, economic, political, and other dimensions. It is something of a drawback that what is essentially an arrangement for the sharing of legislative authority between governments is viewed in so many different ways. Federalism is credited or blamed often enough for situations which it may have had little or no part in creating; on other occasions, its value is not appreciated. It may not be recognized, for example, that the system is working well when a government whose programs are affected by another government's legislation, complains about that legislation and brings about the removal of a harmful or wasteful provision.

The experience of recent years, probably of the past 15 or 20 years, suggests that where a government gives an opportunity to the other governments to comment on proposed legislation, policy or programs and where it pays attention to their comments--without necessarily accepting them fully--the action that government eventually takes is likely to prove more effective than it would have been otherwise. Where this opportunity is not presented, difficulties of one kind or another are more likely to arise. These can take the form of additional cost, or of duplication of services or regulation.

In a sense, governments in Canada have a special advantage over governments in unitary states--to the benefit of the citizen. When a government acts or plans to act here, there are often 10 other governments ready to praise or criticize; 10 other entities in the same business as the first--the business of governing. Governments do not, it should be admitted, always regard this as a benefit. They quite often prefer to respond quickly to what is perceived as a public demand, or to deal without delay with a situation that seems to require their intervention. Nevertheless, they do a great deal of consulting, and the results have, on the whole, made government better.

Federalism is a system that marries a substantial measure of provincial autonomy with a high degree of sharing: sharing advice and experience between governments; sharing the cultural and linguistic riches and values of the communities and regions of the country; and sharing the economic wealth and opportunities among provinces. Sharing of economic wealth tends to be stressed more than the others, perhaps because it is the most readily quantifiable. This has its disadvantages; it tends to leave the impression that one region is always receiving and another giving, as though financial flows were the life blood of the federation. No doubt economic and financial sharing is vital. However, were there no sharing of experience and views among governments and politicians -- and, even more fundamentally, no interaction between our cultures and languages--federalism would be a much less beneficial arrangement.

Calculating the costs and benefits of a complex intergovernmental system has its place. not least because the numbers involved indicate the use to which taxpayers' dollars are put, and the taxpayer is more than entitled to a regular accounting. But dollars and cents are not the end of it. If we do not see federalism in Canada as the governing of and for the people by 11 governments, each of which functions within its jurisdiction with responsibility and in response to the requirements of its electors, and as 11 governments which often have to work together for the benefit of citizens, then we are missing the fundamental point.

It would be rash to say that governments in Canada have never lost sight of this point. Party contest, political ambition and vested interest have undoubtedly detracted, on occasion, from a clear focus on the most effective result for the citizen as the basic criterion of governmental action. But most often difficulties between governments have occurred because there have been sincerely-held, contradictory views about whose jurisdiction an activity was in, or what would be the best way to provide the service in question, or whether the program proposed was likely to meet the needs it was intended to serve. Moreover, differences and difficulties have the excitement of gladiatorial combat and receive much attention from the media. The reality is that the differences have been much less extensive than the areas of agreement.

Federalism is so much a part of Canada that it has been taken for granted rather more, perhaps, than has been good for a true appreciation of it. Federalism in Canada will never be free of disagreement. If it were, our Federation would be in the final stages of disintegration. For it has been said that a crucial benefit of federalism is the unlikelihood that the governments of the constituent parts and the central government will all decide at the same time to do the same foolish thing to people.

In the last decade or so, many changes have been made in the practice and operations of Canadian federalism, from the Canada and Quebec Pension Plans (1966), to new arrangements for equalization payments (1967), the funding of family allowances (1973), and Established Program Financing (1977) for health and education shared-cost programs. These and the hundreds of other federal-provincial activities and programs, which have been dealt with at federal-provincial conferences and meetings and which involve billions of taxpayers' dollars, testify to the considerable adaptability of the system.

There are, of course, limits to the capacity to adapt without changing structures. It is probable that, by reason of certain structural features of our Federation, intergovernmental relations and negotiations have assumed a larger role in Canada than may be necessary or wise. Other federations appear to rely less on this means of achieving a balance between the central government and the state or provincial governments.

A more active and authoritative expression of regional views in a second chamber of our federal Parliament, untrammeled by party discipline and the need to maintain "confidence" in a government, might produce more effective adjustment of policies and programs, with less reliance on federal-provincial negotiations. Provincial participation in appointments to the ultimate tribunal ruling on problems of jurisdiction might reduce the tendency to substitute political contest for judicial interpretation. Some changes of structure are clearly desirable, many of which involve constitutional change. These are dealt with in the next Chapter.

The federal government's perspective

In the light of the preceding sections and of the principles set out in Chapter lll of this paper, the federal government believes it would be useful to give its own perspective on the purposes and objectives of federalism in Canada

The federal and provincial orders of government are distinguished from one another by the different purposes they have to serve. They are also distinguished by the different means and instruments that are available to them under the Constitution. They nevertheless share a common purpose, each acting within its own jurisdiction, of serving taxpayers and other citizens.

The division of authority between the two orders of government should permit the fulfilment by each government of its responsibilities in as clear and accountable away as possible. As a result of the growth of government and of the demands made on government in recent years, responsibilities and jurisdictions have come increasingly to overlap. This has made it more difficult for citizens, and indeed for governments, to know which government is responsible for dealing with a particular problem or area of public concern.

The federal government believes that governments will need to work together to clarify their responsibilities so that, in turn, they will be able to plan and act to meet those responsibilities, and so that their electorates will be better able to judge how well their elected representatives are serving the public interest. Where the complexity of the situation is such as to render complete clarification impossible, the two orders of government will need to have mechanisms which will allow effective consultation between them. This consultation would be intended to resolve issues as they arise and to effect the greatest possible degree of harmonization between federal and provincial activities.

The federal government believes that to achieve the common purpose of serving taxpayers, and other citizens, governments in Canada should be working together toward the following objectives:

(1) to bring about a less contentious federal-provincial relationship;

(2) to make the process of consultation more expeditious and less demanding of time and other resources:

(3) to ensure the greatest degree of freedom of action for each government to fulfil its constitutional responsibilities, including access to necessary financial resources through its own taxation or equalization payments;

(4) to permit greater accountability of each government to its legislature, and to its electorate;

(5) to enable the intergovernmental process to be better understood by taxpayers, by citizens and by those engaged in it;

(6) to eliminate wasteful duplication of legislation, regulation, policies, programs or services, and generally to make the effective provision of services by governments less costly

Proposals for action

The federal government commits itself to working with the provincial governments toward the achievement of these objectives. In particular, the federal government proposes:

A. As part of a major effort to improve intergovernmental understanding:

(1) to take deliberate steps to ensure that, for its part, the federal government takes fully into account the constitutional responsibilities and priorities of provincial governments, by consulting the provinces when preparing a legislative proposal, formulating a policy, or designing a program that is in an area of shared jurisdiction or that could have a significant effect--financial or other--on an area of provincial responsibility or an activity within that area;

In practice, it will not be possible in every relevant instance to consult the provinces in a manner that they would regard as adequate. There will be circumstances, for example, when legislation or programs will have to be developed quickly and put in place before such consultation could occur. It is the government's intention that such instances should be kept to the absolute minimum. This statement of intent should be regarded as a standard against which the federal government's action can be judged by the governments of the provinces and by the public. The meaning of the term "significant effect" will be established with practice and experience over time.

(2) to request that the provinces, in the same spirit, consult the federal government when preparing legislative proposals, formulating policies, or designing programs that are in areas of shared jurisdiction or could have a significant effect-- financial or other-- on an area of federal responsibility or an activity within that area;

(3) to offer to develop with the provinces ways to make the federal-provincial consultative process more expeditious and more effective.

B. As part of a major effort to eliminate wasteful duplication and to enhance the capacity of governments to work together:

(1) to clarify with the provinces existing responsibilities, on a sector-by-sector basis and to the extent possible, so that governments, legislators, public servants and, most important of all, the public will have a much clearer knowledge of where responsibilities lie;

(2) to study jointly with the provinces, as a matter of high priority, ways in which wasteful duplication of activities between the two orders of government can be eliminated or avoided, including the possibility, in appropriate cases, of providing programs or services through jointly-sponsored agencies.

Several provincial governments have already indicated a strong interest in reducing duplication of services and programs, and have suggested that they would be willing to work with the federal government to deal with the problem. The government envisages this most important undertaking as being managed jointly by the federal and provincial governments, under arrangements which they would work out together.

The government considers that these arrangements should provide for participation in the undertaking by people from the private sector. Some of them would have expert knowledge on how to eliminate waste and duplication; others might be representative of those affected by government programs, particularly where competing government services seem to exist. It also considers that those who will be studying sectors of government activity should arrange to hold public hearings, and that full reports on all the findings that emerge from the study should be made public once they have been communicated to First Ministers.

The Government of Canada believes that the federal system, with its capacity for adaptability and renewal, is the only system which can guarantee to Canadians the benefits of belonging to the larger entity which is Canada, while fostering the different vocations of the provinces and regions. The system does not operate, however, in an automatic fashion. The present state of federalism in Canada requires careful tending, or some of its benefits will not be realized

The objectives and proposals for action which have been set out in this Chapter constitute both a pledge and an invitation. The federal government pledges to work toward these objectives and for the improvements in the system which are envisaged in the proposals for action. It pledges, moreover, its full cooperation with the governments of the provinces. It extends to them an invitation to work with the federal government in seeking to bring the science and practice of governing in Canada to the highest point that can be achieved, in the interest of taxpayers and other citizens.

Chapter V - A New Constitution for Canada

"... The present Constitution needs a fundamental recasting. It needs to be rethought and reformulated in terms that are meaningful to Canadians now. For this reason we call for a new Constitution: one that is a new whole, even though it may utilize some of the same parts... But we insist on a new perspective which will embrace all the constituent parts in a whole that is at the same time distinctively Canadian and functionally contemporary... The views expressed to us by very many Canadians in ail parts of the country, as well as our own analysis of ideas and events, have convinced us that Canada needs a new Constitution now. . ."

Final Report of the Special Joint Committee of the Senate and of the House of Commons on the Constitution of Canada, 1972.

As we have seen, the renewal of the Canadian Federation requires that all of us, as Canadians, vigorously reaffirm our desire to live together, our adhesion to the values on which the very existence of our country is based, and our acceptance of the objectives and principles which, more so in the future than in the past, must inspire the efforts of every one of us and lend dignity to the actions of our governments. This renewal also calls for measures to be taken by the federal and provincial governments without delay to improve the functioning of Canadian federalism and to reduce the tensions and friction between governments. All of this makes the need for constitutional renewal imperative.

Our Constitution is not the abstract document that some imagine it to be. It is the cornerstone of Canada's federal and provincial governments and it defines the powers and responsibilities of both. It enlightens Canadians and enables them to exercise their democratic rights, by indicating which order of government they must turn to, in seeking the public services they need, and to which order they must pay taxes to defray the cost of those services. It also prescribes how the people in the various parts of the country are represented in the federal Parliament and its institutions.

In short, the Constitution describes the system of government that Canadians freely chose to watch over their destiny and that of their country. It is therefore the legal foundation for national unity. Consequently, when we decide, for the purpose of consolidating Canadian unity, to renew our system of government, we must also renew our Constitution.

Many Canadians, for example, are no longer satisfied with the representation of their region in Parliament or with the division of powers between their governments. But in order to establish a better system of representation and a better division of powers we must amend the Constitution. In general, the new spirit which must motivate Canadians today, the reinforcement of the common bonds which unite us, and the wider political consensus we need to forge--all of these must be reflected in a new Constitution.

The government has resolved to provide Canada with a new Constitution by the end of 1981.

To do this it will use all of the powers at its disposal and, in doing so, will consult the governments of the provinces.

It urges the provinces to cooperate with it in order to renew the constitutional provisions which cannot be amended without their cooperation.

Deficiencies of the Constitution

It is certainly no insult to the Fathers of Confederation to say that after 110 years of use, the system of government they established in 1867 for the original four provinces no longer corresponds in many respects with the needs of Canada today. Our constitutional framework has generally served us well. It has allowed the Federation to expand and to take its full place in North America by the admission or formation of six more provinces. It has promoted the demographic and economic growth, and the social and cultural development, of all of Canada's regions. This development has not occurred at the same rate everywhere, and regional disparities have arisen. But the Constitution of 1867 has enabled us to contain these disparities and to alleviate the more serious inequalities created by them, until more permanent solutions can be found.

We must not, however, be complacent in taking stock of the deficiencies of the present Constitution; we must evaluate the seriousness of its flaws and determine what are the most urgent changes. We have more than enough catalogues to choose from, since in Canada constitutional analysis and review is a highly developed science and a widely practised art. The Joint Report of the Senate and the House of Commons, which was cited at the beginning of this chapter, heads a long list of documents which have, in the course of recent years, explored the inadequacies and deficiencies of our Constitution.

In the government's view, the process of renewal must remedy the following deficiencies in our constitutional legislation:

(1) Our written Constitution is made up in large part of Acts of the British Parliament which we have not yet succeeded in patriating and modernizing, Acts which consequently still bear the imprint of a colonial period that has long since passed.

(2) The provisions of our Constitution are scattered throughout a large number of different statutes, many of which, including a number of the most important ones, are practically unknown to the Canadian public. This is the case with what is called the Statute of Westminster, which almost 50 years ago invested Canada with full international sovereignty and formally sanctioned Canada's accession to independence, except for the amendment of certain provisions in its Constitution.

(3) The present Constitution contains no preamble or statement of principles. Its spirit is not described and its nature and objectives are not specified, making it more difficult to understand and interpret. Its language is obscure and anachronistic, its style plodding and uninspiring. It also contains antiquated provisions, and others which are no longer compatible with the true spirit of Canadian federalism.

(4) For these reasons our constitutional enactments are of little educative value. They contain little to inspire the pride, solidarity, magnanimity and serious commitment required for the pursuit of a national ideal. This has hampered the development of a Canadian identity and patriotism.

(5) There is a serious deficiency in the present Constitution, namely the lack of any declaration of the basic rights and freedoms of Canadians. Equally serious is the inadequacy of the language rights guaranteed by the Constitution, which has jeopardized the progress of the French-speaking people of Canada, led them to withdraw in spirit into Quebec and added strength to the separatist movement in that province.

(6) The division of legislative powers and areas of jurisdiction between the federal Parliament and the provincial legislatures in the British North America Act of 1867 is neither as precise, as functional nor as explicit as might be wished.

(7) There is only limited capacity, in the Upper Chamber of Parliament, for the expression of regional and provincial concerns. The members of the Canadian Senate are appointed under the Constitution by the Government of Canada and no provision is made to ensure that a wide spectrum of views is brought to bear on the development of national policies.

(8) The status of the Supreme Court is not set forth in the Constitution. It is defined only by an ordinary Act of Parliament by which the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court is left exclusively in the hands of the federal Executive. This legal status and this appointment procedure are called publicly into question from time to time, thereby detracting from the court's standing as the ultimate interpreter of the Constitution and supreme arbiter when constitutional differences arise between the two orders of government.

(9) The procedure for the amendment of the Constitution is not adequately defined in our constitutional enactments and still requires, for certain matters, the intervention of the British Parliament.

The new Constitution of Canada must be a modern document which will overcome the inadequacies and deficiencies of our Present Constitution.

It must define the form of government and the political structures chosen freely by all Canadians.

It must command the respect of all Canadians and provide them with an enlightened basis for patriotism.

It must reaffirm the independence and full sovereignty of Canada.

Working toward constitutional change

The Constitution of Canada has its most important expression in the British North America Act which was passed by the Parliament of Great Britain in 1867. There have been few amendments over the years. The Act stands today but little changed from the way it was conceived and written over a century ago. But it has become clear that the Act is not the kind of constitutional document which can serve as a source of inspiration to us all. And, after a century, it is no longer an effective guide to our federal and provincial governments in this modern and complicated world. An essential part of the renewal of the Canadian Federation must be the renewal of our Constitution.

During the past 10 years and more, the government has sought to bring about constitutional changes. The Constitutional Conferences from 1968 to 1971 were a major investment of time and energy by all concerned in an effort to reach agreement. The government put forward a series of White Papers on various aspects of the Constitution, including the principal publication, "The Constitution and the People of Canada." This work led to the development of the Victoria Charter in 1971 which would have provided important protection for the rights and freedoms of Canadians, a more secure basis for our Supreme Court, a means of amending our Constitution here in Canada rather than in Great Britain, and various other improvements. The Charter was rejected by the government of Quebec which, while agreeing basically with the changes proposed, felt strongly that further changes were necessary.

In 1975, the Prime Minister of Canada invited the provincial Premiers to take part in a further attempt to bring control over the British North America Act from Great Britain to Canada, and to agree on a new system for amending the Act, once it was brought home. The Premiers responded in October,1976, by suggesting that additional questions be added for discussion, and a further set of federal proposals was sent to them in January, 1977. Even as those proposals were being sent, however, it had become clear that events in Quebec were making the task of constitutional renewal more important and more urgent than ever.

During the early months of 1977, the government reached the conclusion that its best course was to encourage the growing debate among Canadians about national unity, and that the premature disclosure of its own proposals could have the effect of choking off discussion. It watched, therefore, with wholehearted interest the birth and development of many organizations across Canada devoted to renewal, and to the ideas for constitutional change which were beginning to be expressed at the meetings and study sessions which these groups arranged. The government itself established the Pepin-Robarts Task Force on Canadian Unity which has been listening for many months to people from across the country and receiving a wide variety of proposals for constitutional changes.

The government has felt, however, that it could not stand idle for too long and make no new contribution to the great debate now engaged on the future of Canada. Many individual Canadians feel, rightly, that they have a responsibility to contribute to the search for a new national understanding. So also, the government believes that each government in Canada, provincial or federal, has a responsibility to make its contribution to the ongoing debate, from which we all hope to distil the essential wisdom which will guide us in the renewal of our Federation. That is why the government announced in the Speech from the Throne, last October, that constitutional proposals would be brought forward at this session of Parliament, and has been developing these past months the principles on which these should be based.

The government sets only two conditions for the renewal of the Constitution.

The first is that Canada continue to be a genuine Federation, that is, a state in which the Constitution establishes a federal Parliament with real powers which apply to all parts of the country, and provincial legislatures with equally real powers within their respective territories.

The second is that a Charter of basic rights and freedoms be included in the new Constitution and that it apply equally to both orders of government.

Major premises guiding renewal

The third chapter of this document sets out the principles which the government believes must be given full weight in the renewal of the Federation. These same principles must also become the foundation for any renewal of the Constitution if that new document is to be a reflection of Canadian aspirations.

The renewed Constitution should contain a Statement of Aims which would reflect the understanding of what Canada means to all of us -- native peoples, members of our two great linguistic communities, and people of many lands and cultures who have chosen to make Canada their home. The government will be putting forward a Statement in the hope that it may assist the search, by the people and by governments, for those ideal words which will best express what is in our hearts

If the principles referred to above hold true, then it is also essential that the new Constitution provide protection for the fundamental rights and freedoms of the citizen, including language rights. The government will be putting forward its proposals for a Charter of rights and Freedoms. The Charter would embrace not only the major political and legal rights and freedoms, many of which have already been recognized in various federal and provincial statutes, but would establish new rights for Canadian citizens to live and work wherever they wish in Canada, and would provide new protection for minority language rights. The government has expressed on many occasions its profound conviction that the citizens of Canada, whether they speak English or French, should be able, in those situations where numbers warrant, to receive basic government services and schooling for their children in their language. The Charter would be intended to provide a permanent constitutional guarantee that fair and reasonable treatment will always prevail.

The government recognizes that the inclusion of such a Charter of Rights and Freedoms in a new Constitution would leave it thereafter with less power to influence the life of the citizen. It is fully prepared to see its power limited and would propose to act itself to impose such a limitation. It hopes that it will be joined in this action by the governments of the provinces for the sake of all the people of Canada.

By those same principles it is essential that the distribution of legislative powers under any renewal of the Constitution, be so arranged as to ensure the most effective functioning of the federal and provincial governments in the service of the people. There are powers which must be exercised effectively by the Government of Canada, if the full benefits of the Federation are to be enjoyed by everyone. Others must be exercised by provincial governments, if the people of each province are to have the greatest opportunity to pursue their particular aspirations and lifestyles.

By any comparison with other federations, Canada would appear to be one of the most decentralized. A solution to Canadian problems will not be found, therefore, in any massive shift of powers from the federal government to the provinces. The solution is more likely to be found in a judicious combination of changes. The experience of the last 110 years has shown that the federal Parliament has some powers which are not essential to ensure the development and proper working of the Federation as a whole, or which the provincial legislatures could use in a way that is better suited to the diversity of regional needs and aspirations. Conversely, the provincial legislatures have some powers which they cannot exercise effectively.

In other cases, legislative areas which are of prime importance today, but are not covered by the sections of the British North America Act of 1867 bearing on the division of powers, have had to be dealt with by the courts, because no provision existed whereby governments could determine how best these legislative areas could be allocated.

Related to this process by which powers are attributed, but in a special way, is the strong movement toward urbanization of Canada's population. A largely rural country has become heavily urban: several cities now exceed the populations of a number of provinces. Those changes have been met only partially by adjustments in practice, which have in turn created their own problems. This new reality will require attention. It may be one of several areas where legal interpretations have placed too much restriction on the powers of one order of government in order to prevent the loss of powers of the other.

Lastly, some powers of the federal Parliament, such as the spending power, have a very broad scope and could be more carefully delineated in order to better ensure the internal sovereignty of the two orders of government.

We have been able to adapt, but often with considerable difficulty, to these various deficiencies of our constitutional enactments. Having undertaken to draw up a new Constitution, we must modernize and make more effective the division of powers. It would be vain, however, to seek to divide these powers into watertight compartments. The complexity of government functions is such, nowadays, that even in the case of those compartments considered the most "exclusive" to one order of government or the other, both have had to act in concert and will have to do so even more in future.

It is, however, possible to clarify the division of powers, so that citizens will know better which order of government is responsible for what, without imprisoning either order in a constitutional straitjacket. And given this possibility, governments will have to strive to eliminate needless overlapping and duplication. Certain exchanges of powers between governments could be considered, in order to allow each order of government to legislate more coherently in certain sectors. The government is also prepared to examine with the provinces the extension of concurrent jurisdictions and the recognition that one order of government or the other has primary jurisdiction in specific areas.

In any case, we will have to attach much greater importance than was required, in the circumstances of the Fathers of Confederation in 1867, to how the respective powers of the two orders of government should fit together. It is not only the framework of the division of powers that must be examined and adapted to the needs of the hour, but also the joints and hinges that ensure the interlocking of federal and provincial powers. The quality of this interlocking will have a great influence on the effectiveness of government activity and the degree of harmony in federal-provincial relations.

The federal government is prepared to examine these matters with the provincial governments, in depth and before the people of Canada, so that the best possible solutions can be worked out to serve the interests of the citizen.

There are features of our present Constitution, including the "unwritten" part of it, which the government feels should be studied. At present, there are a number of important principles and institutions of our system of government that are touched on only very indirectly, or not at all, in our written Constitution. Some of these are fundamental to the operation of the Canadian Federation. Some have a functional, others a symbolic significance. It seems appropriate that our new Constitution should have something to say about such principles and institutions, so as to fully reflect our shared aspirations. The government will therefore be putting forward proposals regarding constitutional provisions for certain institutions of the executive of our central government.

There is a further institution of our federal system in need of major change. The Canadian Senate does not now serve the need of the Federation for a House where the full range and depth of our regional problems, and the effect of national policies on those problems, can be discussed with independence and authority. The House of Commons cannot fully serve this function, as party discipline under the Parliamentary system requires that a national viewpoint be adopted. The Senate, appointed as it now is entirely by the federal government, has not been able to provide that recognized forum for the achievement of genuine understanding of the sometimes conflicting natures of our national and regional objectives--and for the search for solutions.

The government believes that to meet these needs a new legislative body, the House of the Federation, should be provided for in our Constitution as a replacement for the Senate. Essential features of the new House would be the recognition of a role for the provinces in the selection of its members, and provision for proportionately greater representation to the eastern and western parts of the country, with substantial adjustment to ensure adequate representation for western Canada which, until now, has not received a share commensurate with its growing importance.

Our Supreme Court is now based on a law passed by Parliament which could be changed at any time. The Court, as a pillar of our whole system, should be provided for in the Constitution, and not depend for its essential position on the actions of any Parliament or legislature. As it is called upon to judge the powers under the Constitution of both the federal and provincial governments, it would seem only appropriate that the latter should have a voice when appointments to the Court are made by the Government of Canada.

To complete the renewal of our Constitution, two further things will be required: an Amending Procedure, and the Patriation of the Constitution. It is essential that agreement be reached at an early point on a procedure for changing those parts of our Constitution that cannot now be amended by either the Parliament of Canada or the legislatures of the provinces. We will have to go to London for action by the British Parliament to make many of the changes that will emerge from the work of renewal. This is demeaning for an independent country, but a legal necessity since we have never remedied the omission in the legislation of 1867 to provide a complete method of amending the British North America Act in Canada. A method by which all types of amendments could be made in Canada was agreed upon at the Victoria Conference in 1971 but the Charter that emerged was not, in the end, accepted by Quebec or by Saskatchewan. It is now imperative that we find a means by which all change in our Constitution can in future be made in Canada.

Patriation of the Constitution will be the result of the final action by the Parliament of Great Britain in respect of Canada. That action will be to terminate the British Parliament's power to legislate with respect to our Constitution -- a power, unwanted by Britain, which has endured solely because of our own failure to agree on a complete method of amendment. When we have reached such agreement we can, at last, encompass the total transfer of our Constitution to this country. After more than a century as a nation, we shall have "patriated" our Constitution. We shall have reached the end of more than 50 years of effort to achieve this goal.

From these many considerations, the government has concluded that the new Constitution should meet these fundamental requirements:

The new Constitution of Canada should outline the basic principles and objectives of the Federation and establish all of its essential institutions.

It should contain a charter of fundamental rights and freedoms and a statement of language rights.

It should confirm the internal sovereignty of the two orders of government and divide the legislative powers and jurisdictions between them in as precise and functional a manner as possible.

It should make new provisions for certain institutions of the executive of our central government.

It should ensure more effective regional representation within federal institutions, particularly through the establishment of a new House of the Federation.

It should enhance the status of the Supreme Court and ensure provincial participation in the choice of judges.

It should define the process for constitutional amendment.

It should be brought home to Canada.

The process and timing of change

These, then, are some of the major areas of change which the government believes must now be examined-- by governments and the people. A question of no small importance is how best to proceed with this task, in a way that will be most likely to lead to a successful conclusion. Canadians and their governments have been talking about constitutional reform for a half century or more, and much energy has been devoted to the subject, without success. The process which is begun now must be capable of inspiring confidence that success is possible within a reasonable period of time.

In examining ways of meeting this objective, the government has been mindful of the considerable latitude which is given to Parliament by the present Constitution to make changes in those parts which pertain to our central institutions of government, including the Senate and the Supreme Court. It is also quite possible for Parliament to include, along with such changes, provisions in a renewed Constitution which would set out a Statement of Aims and a Charter of Rights and Freedoms to which Parliament would subscribe, and which would be applicable to all activities of Parliament and the federal government thereafter. Provision could be made for provincial governments to join in supporting the Aims and the Charter, at once or when they saw fit.

The government believes that these matters. on which there is full capacity for Parliament to act, should constitute Phase I of constitutional renewal. The government pledges itself to consult with the provincial governments respecting all aspects of Phase 1, and to seek to work out proposals for action by Parliament which would have maximum support from the governments of the provinces. The government pledges itself to seek passage of such constitutional legislation before July 1,1979. It is expected that the questions of an amending formula and of patriation would be considered during these consultations. If agreement could be reached, these matters could then be dealt with as soon as possible, rather than await Phase ll.

A Constitutional Conference is already contemplated for the autumn, and there should be ample opportunity, between now and then, for public consideration to be given to the kinds of proposals which the federal government will be bringing forward. Between that Conference and the goal of legislation by July 1, 1979, there should be sufficient time for further federal-provincial discussions, public debate and full consideration in Parliament.

Phase II of constitutional renewal would cover all those sections of the Constitution on which the federal government and the provinces must discuss together what should be done. The review of the way in which legislative powers are assigned to the federal and provincial governments would be the major part of that work. The task is large and difficult, covering as it does the long lists of activities in which governments at every level are engaged. It will involve an examination of what is done now, of what problems exist, and of how to apportion the tasks to governments so that our federal system may function better and the people be better served.

Previous constitutional work has hardly touched in recent years upon the distribution of legislative powers, but we have had sufficient experience to know that a great deal of effort will be involved. If that effort is put forward by governments with determination, we believe it should be possible to work out proposals for change so that a new and complete Canadian Constitution could be brought into being by July 1, 1981. We will celebrate that year the 50th anniversary of Canada's accession, through the Statute of Westminster, to full independence and international sovereignty. It would be singularly appropriate if we could celebrate that anniversary with the proclamation of our new Constitution. The Government of Canada, for its part, is prepared to devote all the energy that will be needed for the task, and pledges its willingness to work with the governments of the provinces until the renewal of the Constitution and of our Federation is complete.

The process of constitutional renewal should encourage full discussion among the people of Canada, in Parliament and the legislatures, and among governments, so that all can make their contribution.

Given the need for renewal, the process should be designed to achieve within a reasonable period of time the changes which are desired.

Phase I of the process should cover those substantial matters upon which Parliament can legislate on its own authority; this phase should be completed and legislation passed by July 1, 1979.

Phase II of the process should cover those matters which require joint action by federal and provincial authorities; the goal should be to complete that phase and to have a new constitutional document for Canada by July 1, 1981.

The government will soon be informing Parliament and all Canadians of the details of its proposals for change under Phase I of constitutional renewal. There is no expectation that these proposals would be passed by Parliament without change. Indeed, the government would not be seeking passage of legislation at this session of Parliament. Rather, it would be introducing legislation so as to provide a basis for thorough discussion in Parliament, with provincial governments and among the public. The final version of the proposals on Phase 1, which would result from this process of debate and consultation, should provide an important and urgent first step towards constitutional renewal.


". . . But I have fought the battle of Confederation, the battle of union, the battle of the Dominion of Canada. l throw myself upon this House; I throw myself upon this country; I throw myself upon posterity; and I believe that --I know that, notwithstanding the many failings in my life, l shall have the voice of this country, and this House, rallying around me."

John A. Macdonald

"If there is anything to which I have devoted my political life, it is to try to promote unity, harmony and amity between the diverse elements of this country. My friends can desert me they can remove their confidence from me, they can withdraw the trust they have placed in my hands; but never shall I deviate from that line of policy."

Wilfrid Laurier

In the few lines above, Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir Wilfrid Laurier, each in his way, told something of the constant strain of the search for unity, and of their deep resolve to continue the search. They, and countless others, gave themselves to the task so that we today are able to enjoy the benefits of Canada.

Nothing worth having in this life comes easily. The creation and development of Canada has been no exception. So many people of differing cultures and languages and local traditions, living on a land which beggars the imagination by its extent and its variety! So many tendencies, all so reasonable, to go our different ways! Yet, so much to be gained by building one "house" for all, with many "mansions" to serve our special differences! So much to be gained by understanding and respecting each other's ways, while sharing each other's burdens, in this Canada of ours!

It is clear that we have not yet found that ideal balance that will make it possible for all Canadians to enjoy full pride and satisfaction in belonging and contributing to the larger whole, while continuing to enjoy the fulfilment which comes from their belonging to the French or the English-speaking communities, or to particular groups, provinces or regions of Canada. We are, however, now engaged in the search for that balance, in the search for renewal, more intensively than in all our history. Canadians can be confident that their search will be successful.

In this paper, the government has suggested a number of principles for renewal which it believes may serve as helpful guideposts in the search. It has suggested ways in which we can affirm our Canadian identity. It has proposed a full re-examination of the practical workings of the federal system, so that misunderstanding and friction between governments and regions can be reduced, so that unnecessary duplication and cost in government can be eliminated, and so that the citizens can be better served. It has proposed a timing for the renewal of the Constitution and a process by which it can be achieved with no undue delay.

From the discussion now engaged, the government is convinced, will come a new national spirit among Canadians to work for the creation of a richer life together. Governments in Canada will be inspired by that same spirit to cooperate with each other for the common good. Symbolic of that spirit and serving as an inspiration and guide to future generations will be the new Constitution for Canada, which can be brought into being within a few short years by the goodwill and dedication of the people, and of the governments they elect.

That is why the government will pursue with the utmost resolution the process of renewal which it is undertaking today.

That is why it urges all the provinces to cooperate in this renewal

That is why it urges all Canadians to support the efforts of their governments in consolidating national unity and thus ensure the stability and prosperity of our Canadian Federation.

Last HTML revision: 15 October, 2000

William F. Maton