ST. JOHN'S, NEWFOUNDLAND, JUNE 11 -- Newfoundland Premier Clyde Wells, the last provincial leader in Canada still opposed to an accord recognizing French-speaking Quebec as a distinct society, said today he would leave the pact's fate in the hands of his legislators.
Wells's announcement places the Meech Lake accord, named after the Quebec resort where it was hammered out three years ago, in serious jeopardy because its survival depends on the approval of all 10 provinces.
Canada's nine other premiers agreed in Ottawa last weekend to ratify the accord by its June 23rd deadline in order to mollify Quebec and contain its separatist movement, but Wells refused to be cowed by the threat that failure of the accord might lead to dissolution of the Confederation.
Although Wells has said he does not plan to influence the legislative vote, his displeasure with the accord is expected to sway most of his Liberal colleagues, who hold a 31 to 21 majority in the chamber.
The legislature's minority Conservatives pledged, meanwhile, to push for ratification of the Meech Lake accord. They enjoy the support of the province's business community, which worries that the federal government might strike back by withholding some of the 1.38 billion Canadian dollars it transfers yearly to Newfoundland.