Dear Premier Charest,
I would like to congratulate you and your fellow provincial and territorial leaders for taking a bold step forward and injecting new energy into the cooperative management of the Canadian federation.
As you know, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives has fought tirelessly over the years to build a better Canada, from the trenches of the Meech Lake and Charlottetown accords to the referendum battlefields of Québec and the subsequent birth of the Calgary Declaration.
Last week’s agreement in principle to create a new Council of the Federation shows just how much of a difference Québec can make when it has a leader who understands that the best way to serve the interests of Quebeckers is to work diligently for progress within the Canadian federation.
I realize that at this stage, much flesh remains to be added to the bare bones of the Council that were agreed in Charlottetown, but I am convinced that you and your colleagues have begun a new chapter in the history of our country.
Most of the great challenges facing Canada in the early 21st century involve issues that lie wholly or at least in part within provincial jurisdiction. From health care and education to the future of our cities and the regulation of our capital markets, the decisions that provincial governments make have a profound impact on the lives of all Canadians.
This gives provincial governments an unprecedented opportunity to shape Canada’s future, but at the same time imposes a mighty responsibility to demonstrate that Canada is indeed greater than the sum of its parts.
In meeting this responsibility, it is obviously vital to develop ways for provincial and territorial governments to work together more effectively, and the creation of the new Council answers a need that has been expressed in various ways over the years in many parts of Canada.
On behalf of the members of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, let me say that we will be delighted to work closely with all provincial and territorial leaders in breathing new life into the Canadian federation. In particular, of course, we look forward to welcoming you to our Autumn Members’ Dinner in Montréal on September 29.
President and Chief Executive