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September 07, 1980 - Image 7

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1980-09-07

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

FEW CITIZENS EXPECT SUCCESS

Canada to write

charter

Associated Press News Analysis
Eleven men, led by Prime Minister
Pierre Elliott Trudeau, sit down before
television cameras in the Canadian
capital tomorrow to launch into a week-
long argument that could remake or
break-literally-that troubled coun-
:try.
Their task, to be attempted in several
hours of daily talks in Ottawa televised
by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., is
:to give Canada its first truly
homegrown constitution.
FEW OF THEIR citizens expect the
.would-be constitution
writers-Trudeau and the government
:chiefs of Canada's 10 provinces-to
come up with a finished product. But
-hatever the result, the conference is
sure to set off fireworks because it will
deal with emotional issues of language,
money and power.
One of the provincial premiers,
Richard Hatfield of New Brunswick,
-bristles that if Trudeau does what he is
*:threatening to do, it would mean "the
end of Canada as I know it."
What the canny prime minister is
threatening is to go it alone and take the
first steps toward establishing a new
constitution himself, if the 11 reach no
basic agreements. Such a move could
either stir a new separatist mood in
French-dominated Quebec and even in
the Canadian west, or could lift Canada'
over the difficult first hump of con-
titutional reform.
CANADA DOES NOT have a neat
national charter like the U.S. Con-
stitution. Rather, it was confederated
on the basis of an act of the British
Parliament, the British North America
Act of 1867. The BNAA was lacking or
vague on a number of issues. It had no
bill of rights; it did not even lay out a
formula for future constitutional
amendments.
When the weakness of the BNAA was
coupled with regional disparities within
the huge country, and with the basic
fact that Canada is made up of two
peoples, English and French, the result

was a loose federation of often-squab-
bling provinces.
Today in French Quebec, for exam-
ple, an English-speaking couple moving
in from another province loses its right
to have its children educated in
English. In Newfoundland, two Nova
Scotian oil workers were recently fired
because the provincial government
decided their jobs should be filled by
Newfoundlanders. In Prince Edward

for success in an otherwise fruitless
series stretching back to 1927. It was
prompted by last May's Quebec
referendum, in which voters rejected
the provincial government's call to
move toward secession. Trudeau and
other "federalists" promised
Quebecers constitutional reform if they
stayed within the confederation.
After a summer of negotiations by
lower-level officials on 12 basic con-

An English-speaking couple moving to French
Quebec from another-province loses their right to
have their children educated in English.

of the BNAA, which would then become
the core of a new Canada-based con-
stitution.
Provincial leaders fear that if the
federal government first has the
document "repatriaed," it will decide
to stall on other issues or will push
through its own constitutional changes.
But Justice Minister Jean Chretien,
the Federal point man in the
preliminary talks, said it would "take
100 years" to reach agreement on all
items.
Trudeau says that if major
agreements are not reached this week,
he nontheless will ask Parliament to
have the BNAA brought home by the
end of this year, complete with an
amending formula and a bill of rights.
But even the idea of a bill of rights is
controversial in Canada.
If language rights are "enshrined" in
a constitution, Quebec's cherished law
suppressing the spread of English in
that province would become uncon-
stitutional overnight.
Montreal's French-language La
Presse newSpaper, summing up the
outlook for the constitutional talks,
warns that a "cold war" looms between
Canadians.
Read and Use
Leai
Dy
Class ifieds!

The Michigan Daily-Sunday, September 7, 1980-Page 7
'My Bodyguard' is sensitive
and gripping. It's 'Rocky,'
'Breaking Away,' and more.s
It's brillant alyn Beck Syndicated Columnist
BCMY
MON-TUE-THUR-FRI AT 7:15-9:40
SAT-SUN-WED 1:45-4:30-7:15-9:40 P.M.

... ...

Island, the government restricts the
right of Canadians from other provin-
ces to buy land.
THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
became the target of much of the anger.
Quebecers saw it as the symbol of
English-Canadian domination. People
in outlying provinces viewed it as the
agent of the richer central provinces of
Ontario and Quebec, which drained off
their natural resources. -
There is a "strong and growing
animosity between central Canada-in
other words, the Montreal-Ottawa-
Toronto axis-and the periphery," says
John Crosbie, a leader of the
Progressive Conservative Party, the
Major opposition to Trudeau's Liberals.
, Provinces are demanding con-
solidation of their powers. The federal
government wants a more national
outlook.
THIS WEEK'S CONSTITUTIONAL
conference may have the best chance

stitutional items, the federal side
claims agreement or near-agreement
on only three: giving the provinces
greater say in appointing Supreme
Court judges; putting the Canadian
program of "equalization," which
spreads the wealth more evenly among
"have" and "have-not" provinces, into
the constitution, and transferring con-
trol of divorce and other family-law
matters to the provinces.
The remaining unresolved issues
range from whether the federal or
provincial governments should control
offshore resources, telecom-
munications and fisheries, to whether
the punchless Canadian Senate should
be strengthened and restructured to
represent the provincial governments
in Ottawa.
MOST OF THE provinces say they
want all of the issues resolved before
the Canadian Parliament asks its coun-
terpart in London to relinquish control

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