Canadian Unity, Task Force on

Canadian Unity, Task Force on, established 1977 by the federal government in response to the election of a sovereignty-oriented Québec government. It was co-chaired by Jean-Luc PEPIN, former federal Liberal minister, and John ROBARTS, former Conservative premier of Ontario. Its purpose was to gather opinions about the problems of unity in the country, to publicize efforts being made to solve those problems and to advise the government on how to strengthen national unity.

In its report (1979) it recommended that language rights be left to provincial jurisdiction rather than being entrenched in the CONSTITUTION (contrary to federal Liberal government strategy from 1969-79); that federal power be reduced (except in the area of economic management); that changes be made in the federal election system to introduce some proportional representation; that the Senate be replaced with a Council of the Federation appointed by provincial governments; and that the provinces be given power to rule on federal appointments to the Supreme Court of Canada and certain major regulatory bodies. The Québec delegation alone invoked these recommendations during the 1980 constitutional discussions.

The report stirred much discussion and its recommendations were given serious attention before the constitutional developments. However, the accord reached between the federal government and the other 9 provinces (1981) revealed how little influence the task force had ultimately had.