Peter Lougheed & Allan Blakeney, 1978
What did the provinces want?
What did the provinces want?
All of the provinces had grievances, most of all in the West, Québec, and Newfoundland. The most significant from the West and Newfoundland were about control of natural resources, especially fossil fuels.
At the start of the 1980s, federal and provincial governments had been in a showdown for nearly a decade over natural resources, especially oil and gas and the profits they produced. This tension informed and coloured the constitutional negotiations and eventually led to a constitutional amendment - section 92A - which confirms provincial control of specific resources.
At the same time, Indigenous Indigenous is the collective term for the original peoples of North America and their descendants, and includes First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. See also: Aboriginal, which is found in the Constitution. The Government of Canada has officially changed “Aboriginal” to “Indigenous” in its ministries, legislation and documents. Canada has made it clear that the term “Indigenous” covers the legal definitions of “Aboriginal” and “Indian” for most constitutional purposes. Peoples were organizing and increasingly challenging provincial authority to make land and resource decisions. They wanted their Aboriginal Aboriginal is the collective term used in the Constitution to describe the original peoples of North America and their descendants and includes First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. See also: Indigenous. title, rights, and treaty rights The rights negotiated between Indigenous Peoples and the British Crown and/or the Canadian government. There are historic treaties, notably the 11 “numbered treaties” signed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and modern treaties, signed in the 1970s and beyond. Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution states, “Aboriginal and treaty rights are hereby recognized and affirmed,” but does not define those rights more specifically. to be recognized. And they wanted to be involved in land and resource decisions which had deep impacts on their land-based societies.
At relatively the same time, the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry, run by Justice Thomas Berger, was tasked with reporting on the social, environmental, and economic impacts of a proposed pipeline carrying natural gas from the Arctic through to Alberta.
The inquiry was the first to consider impacts of resource development before they occurred, and also the first to extensively consider the impact of resource development on Indigenous Indigenous is the collective term for the original peoples of North America and their descendants, and includes First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. See also: Aboriginal, which is found in the Constitution. The Government of Canada has officially changed “Aboriginal” to “Indigenous” in its ministries, legislation and documents. Canada has made it clear that the term “Indigenous” covers the legal definitions of “Aboriginal” and “Indian” for most constitutional purposes. Peoples and cultures.
Calgary Oil Workers Protest, 1974
An Economic Crisis
An Economic Crisis
By the 1970s, many provinces felt that the federal arrangement in the British North America Act was inadequate.
Cost-sharing programs between the provincial and federal governments, created as part of the welfare state after the Second World War, were becoming more expensive.
Centralized national economic policies weren’t working the way they used to, as the global economy became more integrated. And now Canadians were experiencing both economic stagnation and inflation, while world energy prices were skyrocketing under pressure from the Middle East-centered cartel of oil-producing states known as OPEC.
As a result, the provinces demanded more and more control over how they raised and spent their revenues.
Alberta in particular began to assert its independence, looking to take advantage of rising oil prices by encouraging foreign capital to develop its massive oil reserves. The federal government, which promoted a nationalist economic agenda, wanted Canadian companies to provide the capital and to develop the resources.
Wealth, jobs, investment, and corporate head offices began to move to Calgary. The Alberta government began to run large surpluses from oil royalties, putting away money in a Heritage Savings Trust Fund. Alberta also helped initiate a regular meeting between the four Western provinces.
Peter Lougheed, Pierre Trudeau, 1981
Peter Versus Pierre
Peter Versus Pierre
Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed thought the provinces needed more control over their economies and natural resources – in part to balance the political power in Ottawa wielded by the most populated provinces, Ontario and Québec. Pierre Trudeau, on the other hand, felt that provincially-centred resource practices damaged Canadian economic development as a whole.
Lougheed thought Trudeau’s understanding of the national good actually compromised the West because it represented the interests of central Canada. Why did the federal government want Alberta to sell its oil to the rest of Canada for less money than world price, but not expect the same for Ontario’s cars or Québec’s paper products? Why was there an export tax on western oil and gas, but not on eastern hydroelectric power? Lougheed also felt that central Canada didn't think the western provinces were strong or mature enough to handle the management of their own resources.
Petro Canada, former federally-run Crown corporation
NEP: Last Straw for the West
NEP: Last Straw for the West
The global rise in the price of oil in the 1970s created the Alberta oil boom. However, this increasing price of energy harmed central Canada’s manufacturing base.
With the prices of oil and gas at record highs in October 1980, the federal Liberals tabled their new policy, the National Energy Program (NEP), which was meant to ensure Canadian energy self-sufficiency.
The NEP set special lower “Made in Canada” prices for fuel within the country, expanding the federally-run Crown energy corporation Petro-Canada, and other measures. By increasing its revenue from oil and gas, the federal government could reinvest in the rusting industry of Ontario. But the NEP coincided with a sudden global drop in oil prices, which severely stifled the West’s oil and gas production and chased away investors. The West blamed the decline in its revenues on the NEP, which it saw as a huge federal cash and power grab.
THE CONSTITUTIONAL FRONT
The NEP was announced only weeks after Trudeau’s resolution to unilaterally patriate the Constitution in October 1980. Many felt that both were further attempts by the federal government to bully the provinces.
The fact that both were backed by Ontario made matters worse. In line with his province’s interests, especially in manufacturing, Ontario Premier Bill Davis supported Trudeau in his push for a greater national economic union, a common market, and a Canada-first energy policy.
Lougheed wanted to know what impact the renewed Constitution would have on the West’s natural resource base. For the most part, he was strongly supported by the other Western provinces.
Ed Broadbent, 1981
The NDP Intervenes
The NDP Intervenes
At the national level, the New Democratic Party leader Ed Broadbent was willing to support Trudeau’s constitutional initiative.
He also tried to satisfy his Western caucus (26 of the NDP Formed to succeed the CCF in 1961, the New Democratic Party is the main left-wing, social-democratic federal and provincial party in Canada. It has never formed a federal government, but has won office many times at the provincial level, particularly in western Canada, but also in Ontario and Nova Scotia. ’s 32 MPs Member of Parliament (federal). ) by making his support of Trudeau’s patriation The process of bringing the British North America Act, 1867 – the Constitution of Canada – under full domestic control, rather than having it remain as an act of the British Parliament. After decades of effort, patriation was completed with the 1982 passage of the Canada Act in Britain and the Constitution Act in Canada. It includes a means of amending the Constitution in Canada. The new Constitution was not endorsed by the government of Québec. resolution conditional on an amendment to expand provincial ownership and control of natural resources, and create a shared jurisdiction on interprovincial trade. Broadbent negotiated this deal with Trudeau in the late months of 1980.
SASKATCHEWAN, STILL UNHAPPY
Saskatchewan Premier Allan Blakeney, a New Democrat, was upset with federal NDP Formed to succeed the CCF in 1961, the New Democratic Party is the main left-wing, social-democratic federal and provincial party in Canada. It has never formed a federal government, but has won office many times at the provincial level, particularly in western Canada, but also in Ontario and Nova Scotia. leader Ed Broadbent for presuming to negotiate resource control on Saskatchewan’s behalf. He wanted to increase provincial control over international exports, since most of Saskatchewan’s exports, especially potash, were shipped to the United States.
Blakeney also had objections to a Charter of Rights and Freedoms The Charter sets out the rights and freedoms that are officially guaranteed by the Canadian Constitution, “subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.” It is Part 1, sections 1-34 of the Constitution Act, 1982. . He believed courts would be too conservative The Conservative Party of Canada, formed in 2003 through the amalgamation of the Progressive Conservative Party and the Canadian Alliance (formerly the Reform Party of Canada). It is a generally right-wing party associated with provincial parties which have several different names. on social justice issues, but even there, he was partly motivated by natural resources. He did not want courts to prevent local governments from making important regulatory interventions, and he feared corporations would use Charter cases to undermine provincial control.
This kept Saskatchewan in the anti-Trudeau Gang of Eight The eight provincial premiers who opposed Pierre Trudeau’s plan for patriation of the Canadian Constitution in 1980-81, both politically and in court actions — that is, all of the provinces except for Ontario and New Brunswick. Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan were the last to join what was originally a “gang of six.” for the November 1981 constitutional conference, and created a huge rift between the federal and Saskatchewan wings of the NDP Formed to succeed the CCF in 1961, the New Democratic Party is the main left-wing, social-democratic federal and provincial party in Canada. It has never formed a federal government, but has won office many times at the provincial level, particularly in western Canada, but also in Ontario and Nova Scotia. .
Brian Peckford, 1981
Premier Brian Peckford of Newfoundland had been fighting the federal government for control of the emerging offshore oil industry. He hoped it would help Newfoundland emerge from its economic dependence on federal transfer payments and the fishery. While no breakthrough was made during the patriation talks, Peckford laid the groundwork for future developments, including the 1985 Atlantic Accord, and Newfoundland’s 21st century transition from a “have not” to a “have” province.
Peckford also lobbied the federal government for provincial control of Newfoundland fisheries, since Ottawa The capital city of Canada, where the federal Parliament buildings, the House of Commons and the Senate are located. For this reason, “Ottawa” is sometimes used as a synonym for the federal government, as in a phrase such as, “Ottawa refused any further negotiations.” determined fish quotas and distributed fishing trawler licenses. Peckford wanted to reserve the majority of cod stocks for domestic fishers, not international fishery giants, but he was unable to gain enough support from his fellow premiers for this initiative. In the end, he agreed to the constitutional accord despite losing his battle about fisheries.
92A: The Compromise
92A: The Compromise
In the two months leading up to the patriation conference of November 1981, Trudeau signed energy agreements with Alberta, B.C., and Saskatchewan.
This created a more positive atmosphere for negotiation and compromise — although Lougheed was thrown off guard when Trudeau had the two of them photographed toasting the new agreement with a flute of champagne.
Lougheed was thrown off guard when Trudeau had the two of them photographed toasting the new agreement with a flute of champagne.
Section 92A on “Non-Renewable Natural Resources, Forestry Resources and Electrical Energy”, was an amendment included in the federal resolution and the Constitutional Accord signed in November 1981. It was the first constitutional amendment since 1867 that added to the provinces’ legislative authority.
The provinces won confirmation of exclusive legislative authority over the exploration, development, conservation, and management of non-renewable resources.
What they relinquished was jurisdiction over international resource trade, more power over interprovincial trade, and limits on the federal government’s power to control public infrastructure projects that it declared were in the national interest.
In the end, they also agreed to include section 35 in the agreement, which constrains government actions that infringe existing Aboriginal Aboriginal is the collective term used in the Constitution to describe the original peoples of North America and their descendants and includes First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. See also: Indigenous. and treaty rights.
92A AND THE AMENDING FORMULA
By the time of the November 1981 patriation The process of bringing the British North America Act, 1867 – the Constitution of Canada – under full domestic control, rather than having it remain as an act of the British Parliament. After decades of effort, patriation was completed with the 1982 passage of the Canada Act in Britain and the Constitution Act in Canada. It includes a means of amending the Constitution in Canada. The new Constitution was not endorsed by the government of Québec. conference, the wording of section 92A was largely settled. It wasn’t a focus. But the constitutional amending formula certainly was. Premier Lougheed didn’t support the 50 per cent provision in the Victoria formula This amending formula model was proposed as part of the failed Victoria Charter constitutional package in 1971, and remained part of negotiations for the following decade. It required that constitutional changes be approved by the federal government and a majority of the provinces, including at least two in Western Canada and two in Atlantic Canada. It also granted vetoes to the two largest provinces, Ontario and Québec. that gave a de facto veto to Ontario and Québec over amendments to the Constitution.
He feared the province could be robbed of power and resources in the name of central Canada’s vision of the national good. In 1979 he proposed a formula that treated all provinces equally – no vetoes.
In the final agreement, Lougheed’s formula was accepted with the important addition that provinces could opt out of constitutional amendments, if they didn’t approve of the change. This was a success!