First Ministers' conference

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First Minister's conference delegation, 1927

In Canada, a First Ministers' conference is a meeting of the provincial and territorial premiers and the Prime Minister. These events are held at the call of the prime minister and, since 1950, have typically been held annually. They are usually held in Ottawa.

Though known as "First Ministers' conferences" only since the 1960s, they ultimately trace their origin to the initial constitutional convention held in the mid-1860s at Charlottetown, PEI, then-capital of the British Province of Prince Edward Island. After confederation, two conferences of provincial premiers were held, in 1887 and 1902, in which the federal government was not represented.

Altogether, 76 First Ministers' conferences have been held since the first was convened by Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier in 1906, at the request of the provinces. Some important First Ministers' conferences were those leading up to the Meech Lake and Charlottetown Accords. The failed Charlottetown Accord contained a provision that would have made annual First Ministers' conferences obligatory.

The conferences are important for a number of reasons. A sizable portion of provincial funding (referred to as transfer payments) comes from the federal government, the conferences are an opportunity for the premiers to lobby for more money. Today it is common for the Premiers to meet beforehand to present a common front to the federal government. They are also important in that Canada's federal system leaves a fair amount of overlap between federal and provincial jurisdictions and most large initiatives require some provincial support.

The vast majority of the activity at a First Ministers' conference takes place behind closed doors. A public statement is issued after the conference.

Formerly, the government leaders of the territories were only occasionally invited to these conferences, depending on whether issues relevant to the north are being discussed. Today, these leaders normally attend the meetings. The national chief of the Assembly of First Nations may also be invited to attend when issues relevant to First Nations communities are on the agenda; the group has lobbied for greater inclusion.[1]

List of First Ministers' conferences to date[edit]

Number Prime Minister Name Location Date Topics
1 Sir Wilfrid Laurier Conference of the Representatives of the Government of Canada and the Various Provinces Ottawa October 8–13, 1906 Financial subsidies to the provinces
2 Sir Robert Borden, but Sir William Thomas White chaired the conference as Acting Prime Minister Conference between the Members of the Government of Canada and of the Various Provincial Governments Acting Ottawa November 19–22, 1918 Soldier and land settlement, transfer of natural resources
3 W.L. Mackenzie King Dominion-Provincial Conference Ottawa November 3–10, 1927 Various subjects listed under "Constitutional", "Financial" and "Social and Economic" titles
4 R.B. Bennett Dominion-Provincial Conference Ottawa April 7–8, 1931 Statute of Westminster
5 Dominion-Provincial Conference Ottawa April 8–9, 1932 Unemployment relief
6 Dominion-Provincial Conference Ottawa January 17–19, 1933 Various subjects including unemployment, old age pensions, company law and overlapping federal and provincial jurisdictions
7 Dominion-Provincial Conference Ottawa January 18–19, 1934 Various subjects including employment, financial position of provinces, company law, taxes on liquor, Pacific Great Eastern Railway Company, B.C. claim for equality of treatment
8 W.L. Mackenzie King Dominion-Provincial Conference Ottawa December 9–13, 1935 Various subjects including constitutional amendment, federal-provincial financial relations, taxation, social services
9 Dominion-Provincial Conference Ottawa January 14–15, 1941 Recommendations of Rowell-Sirois Commission (federal-provincial fiscal relations)
10 Dominion-Provincial Conference on Reconstruction Ottawa August 6–10, 1945 Postwar reconstruction and federal-provincial financial arrangements
11 Dominion-Provincial Conference on Reconstruction Ottawa April 29 – May 3, 1946 Financial arrangements, public investment, health, old age pensions, unemployment
12 Louis St. Laurent Constitutional Conference of Federal and Provincial Governments Ottawa January 10–12, 1950 Constitutional amendment
13 Constitutional Conference of Federal and Provincial Governments Quebec City September 25–28, 1950 Constitutional amendment
14 Conference of Federal and Provincial Governments Ottawa December 4–7, 1950 Tax agreements, old age security, provincial indirect sales tax
15 Federal-Provincial Conference 1955, Preliminary Meeting Ottawa April 26–27, 1955 Federal relief for unemployed persons, and preparation of next Conference
16 Federal-Provincial Conference Ottawa October 3–6, 1955 Fiscal relations, natural resources development, establishment of a federal-provincial Continuing Committee, health and welfare
17 Dominion-Provincial Conference Ottawa March 9, 1956 Federal-provincial fiscal arrangements
18 John George Diefenbaker Dominion-Provincial Conference Ottawa November 25–26, 1957 Hospital insurance, costs of assistance to persons in need, assistance to Atlantic provinces, fiscal matters
19 Dominion-Provincial Conference Ottawa July 25–27, 1960 Various tax matters including personal and corporate income taxes, equalization, indirect provincial sales tax, taxation of natural resources. Conditional grants and shared cost programs
20 Dominion-Provincial Conference Ottawa October 26–28, 1960 Federal-provincial fiscal arrangements
21 Federal-Provincial Conference Ottawa February 23–24, 1961 Federal-provincial fiscal arrangements
22 Lester B. Pearson Federal Provincial Conference Ottawa July 26–27, 1963 Municipal loan and development fund, Canada Pension Plan
23 Federal-Provincial Conference Ottawa November 26–29, 1963 Various subjects including state of the Canadian Economy, conditional grants and shared cost programs, fiscal relations, Canadian Pension Plan
24 Federal-Provincial Conference Quebec City March 31 – April 1, 1964 Shared cost programs and fiscal arrangements, Canada Pension Plan, taxation, fiscal relations, loans to university students
25 Federal-Provincial Conference Charlottetown August 31 – September 2, 1964 Constitutional amendment
26 Federal-Provincial Conference Ottawa October 14–15, 1964 Constitutional amendment, Tax Structure Committee, off-shore mineral rights
27 Federal-Provincial Conference Ottawa July 19–22, 1965 Various subjects including Social Security, Economic Development, Tax Structure Committee, Transportation and Inland Water Resources
28 Federal-Provincial Conference Ottawa October 24–28, 1966 Financing of higher education, federal-provincial fiscal arrangements
29 Federal-Provincial Conference on Housing and Urban Development Ottawa December 11–12, 1967 Housing and urban development
30 Constitutional Conference Ottawa February 5–7, 1968 Constitutional review, Recommendations of Royal Commission on Bilingualism & Biculturalism
31 Pierre Elliott Trudeau Constitutional Conference Ottawa February 10–12, 1969 Constitutional review
32 Constitutional Conference Ottawa June 11–12, 1969 Constitutional review
33 Constitutional Conference Ottawa December 8–10, 1969 Constitutional review
34 Federal-Provincial Conference Ottawa February 16–17, 1970 Economy, Western agriculture, pollution, Tax Structure Committee
35 Constitutional Conference Ottawa September 14–15, 1970 Constitutional review
36 Federal-Provincial Conference Ottawa September 16, 1970 Various subjects including Tax reform, agricultural, economic stabilization fund
37 Constitutional Conference Ottawa February 8–9, 1971 Constitutional review, unemployment and northern resources
38 Constitutional Conference Victoria June 14–16, 1971 Constitutional review ("Victoria Charter")
39 Federal-Provincial Conference Ottawa November 15–17, 1971 Economy, employment, fiscal arrangements, tri-level consultations
40 Federal-Provincial Conference Ottawa May 23–25, 1973 Various subjects including social security system, health programs, post-secondary education, regional economic development, economic situation, foreign land ownership
41 Federal-Provincial Conference of First Ministers on Energy Ottawa January 22–23, 1974 Various subjects including oil and gas policy, national energy policy and federal-provincial mechanisms for continuing consultation on energy
42 Federal-Provincial Conference of First Ministers on Energy Ottawa April 9–10, 1975 The state of the economy and oil and gas prices and other related items
43 Federal-Provincial Conference of First Ministers Ottawa June 14–15, 1976 Federal-provincial fiscal arrangements including shared-cost programs, revenue guarantee and equalization
44 Federal-Provincial Conference of First Ministers Ottawa December 13–14, 1976 Fiscal arrangements and state of the economy
45 Federal-Provincial Conference of First Ministers on the Economy Ottawa February 13–15, 1978 Various subjects including economic outlook and objectives, general economic policies, regional aspects of economic development, and sectoral policies
46 Federal-Provincial Conference of First Ministers on the Constitution Ottawa October 30, 31 and November 1, 1978 Charter of rights, distribution of powers, institutions, process of constitutional review (creation of the Continuing Committee of Ministers on the Constitution or "CCMC") and duplication of services
47 Federal-Provincial Conference of First Ministers on the Economy Ottawa November 27–29, 1978 Various subjects including economic overview, labour market and employment issues, and economic coordination
48 Federal-Provincial Conference of First Ministers on the Constitution Ottawa February 5–6, 1979 Various subjects including consideration of questions raised at the Constitutional Conference (October 30 – November 1, 1978) and future constitutional work program
49 Joe Clark Federal-Provincial Conference of First Ministers on Energy Ottawa November 12, 1979 Oil supply, pricing and use, energy pricing and development, conservation and self-sufficiency
50 Pierre Elliott Trudeau Federal-Provincial Conference of First Ministers on the Constitution Ottawa September 8–13, 1980 Various subjects including trade, communications, Upper House, Supreme Court, family law, fisheries, offshore resources, equalization, charter of rights, patriation and amending formula and powers over the economy
51 Federal-Provincial Conference of First Ministers on the Constitution Ottawa November 2–5, 1981 Consensus on patriation, constitutional amendment formula and charter of rights
52 Federal-Provincial Conference of First Ministers on the Economy Ottawa February 2–5, 1982 Economic management and development
53 Federal-Provincial Conference of First Ministers on Aboriginal Constitutional Matters Ottawa March 15–16, 1983 Various subjects including charter of rights, amending formula revisions and self-government
54 Federal-Provincial Conference of First Ministers on Aboriginal Constitutional Matters Ottawa March 8–9, 1984 Equality rights, treaties and treaty rights, land and resources and self-government
55 Brian Mulroney First Ministers' Conference on the Economy Regina February 14–15, 1985 Investment, training and retraining, international trade and regional economic development ("Regina Accord" establishing "Annual Conference of First Ministers")
56 First Ministers' Conference on Aboriginal Constitutional Matters Ottawa April 2–3, 1985 Aboriginal constitutional matters including self-government and sexual equality rights
57 Annual Conference of First Ministers Halifax November 28–29, 1985 Federal-provincial relations, economic and fiscal situation, trade, agriculture, fisheries and economic and social development
58 Annual Conference of First Ministers Vancouver November 20–21, 1986 State of the Federation and the economy, economic development and economic equality for women
59 First Ministers' Conference on Aboriginal Constitutional Matters Ottawa March 26–27, 1987 Constitutional amendment on aboriginal self-government and treaties and treaty issues
60 First Ministers' Conference on the Constitution Ottawa June 3, 1987 Signing of the 1987 Constitutional Accord
61 Annual Conference of First Ministers Toronto November 26–27, 1987 Economic development
62 Annual Conference of First Ministers Ottawa November 9–10, 1989 Federal-Provincial priorities, environment/sustainable development and Meech Lake Accord
63 First Ministers' Conference on the Constitution Ottawa June 3–10, 1990 1987 Constitutional Accord (Meech Lake)
64 First Ministers' Meeting on the Economy Ottawa December 19, 1991 Coordinated approach to economic recovery
65 First Ministers' Meeting on the Economy Ottawa February 10, 1992 Pre-budget discussion of common economic recovery
66 First Ministers' Meeting on the Economy Toronto March 24–25, 1992 Various subjects including social programs, training, infrastructure, interprovincial trade barriers, international trade, agriculture, fisheries, tax coordination
67 First Ministers' Meeting on the Constitution Ottawa August 18, 1992
68 First Ministers' Meeting on the Constitution Charlottetown August 27–28, 1992 Final Consensus Report on the Constitution, Final Political Accords and Draft Legal Text based on the Charlottetown Accord
69 Jean Chrétien First Ministers' Meeting – Economy Ottawa December 21, 1993 Economic renewal and fiscal responsibility, job creation and competitive economy and program coordination
70 First Ministers' Meeting – Trade Ottawa July 18, 1994 Internal trade
71 First Ministers' Meeting Ottawa June 20–21, 1996 Canadian economy, renewal of the federation, Section 49, Constitution Act 1982, jobs and growth and social dimensions
72 First Ministers' Meeting Ottawa December 11–12, 1997 Various subjects including social policy renewal, health and youth employment
73 First Ministers' Meeting Ottawa February 4, 1999 Social Union Framework Agreement
74 First Ministers' Meeting Ottawa September 10–11, 2000 Health care, childhood development
75 First Ministers' Meeting Ottawa February 4–5, 2003 Health care
76 Paul Martin First Ministers' Meeting Ottawa January 30, 2004 Health care, public health, Canada-U.S. relations, emergency management
77 Stephen Harper First Ministers' Meeting Ottawa November 10, 2008 Economy[2]
78 First Ministers' Meeting Ottawa January 16, 2009 Economy[3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Support For The Assembly Of First Nations To Be Invited As An Equal Partner At The First Ministers' Conference On The Economy. Assembly of First Nations, December 9, 2008.
  2. ^ "Canada's first ministers to rally as economy stumbles". CTV.ca. Retrieved 2008-10-28. 
  3. ^ "Prime Minister and Premiers agree on action for the economy". Prime Minister of Canada.gc.ca. Government of Canada. 16 January 2009. Retrieved 1 May 2014.