Canadian provinces split over federal reform deal
Friday 17 July 1992
The proposals had been developed through months of intense negotiation, but several of the most senior federal cabinet ministers attacked both Mr Clark and the proposed deal during a day-long meeting on Wednesday.
A special session of Parliament that was supposed to begin on Wednesday to discuss the deal was cancelled while Brian Mulroney, the Prime Minister, who was noticeably reticent about the compromises struck by Mr Clark, tried to find a new consensus.
Among the most contentious issues are proposals to turn the appointed Senate, or upper house, into an elected body with powers to block or delay federal legislation, and a scheme to give Canadian native peoples a measure of self-government.
Quebec's Premier, Robert Bourassa, has been boycotting the talks, arguing that it is up to the rest of the country to make Quebec an offer to replace the Meech Lake constitutional accord which failed to be ratified two years ago.
Failing an acceptable offer from the English-speaking part of the country, Mr Bourassa intends to hold a referendum in Quebec next October on the question of sovereignty or independence for Quebec. But he is now indicating his willingness to meet informally with other premiers and the federal government to modify the tentative agreement.
Last month, Mr Clark emerged from meetings with provincial premiers with an apparent agreement that would give all provinces equal representation in a new elected Senate, regardless of size. This had been demanded by several of the smaller provinces, such as Alberta and Newfoundland, as their price for agreeing to a wider constitutional package including the recognition of a special status for Quebec. The package would also restore a number of other conditions that would have applied to Quebec had the Meech Lake accord been ratified.
But giving a tiny province like Prince Edward Island with 100,000 residents the same representation in the Senate as Ontario with 9 million people would mean a massive reduction in the relative influence of the most populous central provinces, especially Ontario and Quebec.
Because of Quebec's hesitant response to the Clark deal, and Mr Mulroney's commitment that no amendments will go forward without Quebec's approval, the situation is now in flux.
Meanwhile, several federal ministers said proposals to shift powers and responsibilities to the provincial level of government (as demanded by Quebec) would so weaken the federal government's ability to manage the economy that it would become ineffective.
Ironically, the only group that appeared pleased with the tentative deal were representatives of indigenous Indians and Inuit, who effectively scuttled the Meech Lake Accord two years ago.
Matt Smith is set to join cast of Jane Austen classic - with a twist
Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas
- 2 Scottish independence: Learn from Quebec's mistakes and beware of promises. Vote Yes.
- 3 'Necrophilia-obsessed' girl among double murder accused in three-way sex case
- 4 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 5 Revealed after 75 years of secrecy: 'Fifi' the glamorous WW2 special agent who tested British spies' resolve
Thailand beach murders: Thai PM suggests 'attractive' female tourists cannot expect to be safe wearing bikinis
Scottish independence: Final opinion polls show undecided voters could swing result either way
Isis release 'Flames of War' video warning Obama of attacks troops could face in Iraq
Jennifer Lawrence 'naked sex video' will be leaked next, threatens 4Chan celebrity photo hacker
Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
£15000 - £16000 per annum: Randstad Education Group: To work as part of the Le...
£100 - £110 per day + Travel scheme plus free professional trainnig: Randstad ...
£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Are you a qualified secondary...
£100 - £110 per day + Travel Scheme plus free professional training: Randstad ...