DONALD E. NUECHTERLEIN'S Oct. 12 Outlook article predicting the breakup of Canada by 1982 was based on a number of misinterpretations and misconceptions.
The article made much of the "unsuccessful constitutional conference" held last month in Ottawa, saying that as a result of it, "Canada now faces fragmentation on two fronts: from a resentful Quebec . . . and from oil-rich Alberta and its neighbors."
True, the conference leaders -- Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and the premiers of Canada's 10 proviences -- did not reach agreement on how to bring the Canadian constitution back from Britain and on how to amend it. But the conference was only the opening phase of a well planned scenario. On nationwide television, it showed the 10 provincial premiers, all of them political opponents of Trudeau's Liberal Party, as agreed politicians who put their own powers and positions above the interests of a united Canada. The only exception was Ontario's Bill Davis, a Conservative, later joined by another Conservative, Richard Hatfield of New Brunswick.
This set the stage for Trudeau to announce that the federal parliament would go it alone in bringing home the constitution, in proposing a formula to amend it and adding to it a general statement of human rights, including language rights.
Ed Broadbent, leader of the New Democratic Party, has announced that he would support Trudeau's proposals if they include confirmation of the provinces' existing rights to natural resources, including oil and gas. Trudeau has now agreed to this, which should ensure the support of the 27 New Democratic members of parliament from Western Canada, where Trudeau's Liberals are barely represented. It should also ensure the support of Premier Allan Blakeney of Saskatchewan, a New Democrat, and of Dave Barrett, leader of the New Democratic opposition and favorite for prime minister in British Columbia.
In other words, it seems that Trudeau will have more than enough support to get his constitutional amendments approved by the Canadian parliament and then by Britain.
In his article, Nuechterlein speculates that because of the "breakup" of the constitutional conference, Quebec's separatist premier, Rene Levesque, will be reelected next spring. But Levesque has decided not to call an election this fall, as would have been customary after four years in office, presumably becasue he did ot think he could win it. Perhaps he will be able to project further that Quebec voters would then reverse last spring's decisive 60-40 defeat of Levesque's separatist referendum.
In Western Canada, Nuechterlein foresees a separate nation made up of Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and possibly Manitoba. Anything is possible of course, but it is hard to imagine Alberta's premier, right-wing Conservative Peter Lougheed, allied with such social democrats as Saskatchewan's Blakeney and Britsh Columbia's Barrett. They would make stange bedfellows.
My own intuitions, guesses, expectations, and, yes, hopes for Canada are quite different from Nuechterlein's. I believe most of my fellow countrymen are proud to be Canadians who want Canada to remain united. I believe it will remain united.