The Michigan Daily-Sunday, September 14, 1980-Page 5
Canadian constitution talks end i
OTTAWA (AP)-A week of negotiations
among Canada's national and provincial
ders to establish a new constitution ended in
lure yesterday. The next move is up to
Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, who
has threatened to take the first steps toward
constitutional reform without the provinces'
Trudeau and the premiers of the 1Q provinces
could not overcome deep divisions on federal-
provincial power-sharing in areas ranging
from fisheries and natural resources to basic
human rights and language guarantees in this
The prime minister seeks a constitution
giving the federal government unquestioned
supremacy over the provinces, but provincial
leaders are demanding decentralization.
THE FAILURE OF the conferen-
ce-Canada's 13th futile effort in 53 years to
reform the constitution-could haye long-range
repercussions in mostly French-speaking
Quebec. Quebec voters last May rejected a
separatist referendum proposal, but the
"federalist" victory stemmed largely from
Trudeau's promises of a new constitution with
greater provincial autonomy.
. After four days of nationally televised
discussions here, the 11 leaders went into
private sessions Friday in a last-ditch effort to
salvage the talks. Yesterday they were back
on television to make their final, gloomy
Quebec's separatist premier, Rene
Levesque, was one of the harshest, describing
the talks as a "total failure" for which an in-
flexible Trudeau was "most responsible."
MANITOBA PREMIER Sterling Lyon urged
the prime minister to agree to another con-
ference early next year. "A modest package of
agreements was within our grasp," he said.
But Trudeau sounded determined to take ac-
He said some of the premiers had been
waiting for him "to make a deathbed repentan-
ce" and grant new concessions to the provic-
nes' demands for additional powers.
"I'M IN NO hurry to die," he said. "I will be
recommending shortly a course of action for
Canada's current constitution is the British
North America Act of 1867, which established
the Canadian confederation and set up its
government, and which technically remains
under the control of the British Parliament.
Trudeau has threatened to act alone and
have the Canadian Parliament ask Britain to
"patriate" the document. The Ottawa gover-
nment would then put a charter of human and
language rights into it, as well as a new amen-
ding formula-the BNAA can be changed only
by the British Parliament. It would become
Canada's first truly Canadian constitution.
But custom, Canadian leaders have always
sought unanimous provincial backing on con-
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