TORONTO, JUNE 22 -- A set of constitutional amendments designed to keep Quebec in Canada's confederation by giving it status as a "distinct society" died tonight when the provincial legislatures of Manitoba and Newfoundland adjourned without ratifying it before Saturday's deadline.

Quebec's political leaders immediately said they will reassess the province's relationship with the rest of Canada, raising the specter of separation that could lead to a breakup of the 123-year-old Canadian confederation.

Quebec's premier, Robert Bourassa, expressing "profound disappointment," declared in the province's National Assembly in Quebec City that "English Canada must clearly understand, whatever is said and whatever is done, that Quebec is a distinct society capable of ensuring its own development and its own destiny."

The thinly veiled warning that the predominantly French-speaking province may seek some form of sovereignty was quickly seized by the militantly separatist leader of the Parti Quebecois, Jacques Parizeau, who invited Bourassa to form an alliance to seek a new political arrangement for Quebec.

Parizeau's party, under the late separatist leader Rene Levesque, led a secession referendum in Quebec in 1980 that was defeated by a 60 to 40 percent margin.

However, recent polls have shown that 60 percent of Quebec's population would favor "sovereignty association" -- a euphemism for political independence from Canada -- if the amendments adopted at a constitutional conference at Meech Lake, Quebec, three years ago failed to survive the ratification process.

"This evening, we are in a situation where, after all kind of pretexts, Canada is saying to Quebec, 'No,' " Parizeau said.

Prime Minister Brian Mulroney had said ratification of the Meech Lake accord, which required approval by all 10 provinces, was necessary for the continued unity of Canada. Mulroney had no immediate reaction to the moves by Manitoba and Newfoundland to let Saturday's ratification deadline pass without taking a vote in their legislatures. His office said, however, that Mulroney would make a nationally televised address Saturday.

Mulroney's minister for federal-provincial relations said Newfoundland's decision to adjourn its legislature without voting on ratification "has dashed the one remaining hope of the Meech Lake accord to succeed."

Leaders of the opposition parties in Parliament accused Mulroney of employing "brinksmanship" in an effort to press Newfoundland and Manitoba into approving the accord and suggested that Mulroney resign.

Audrey McLaughlin, leader of the New Democratic Party, said, "When he goes on television tomorrow, he should consider his own future."

Jean Chretien, the front-runner in a leadership race of the opposition Liberal Party, recalled that Mulroney had boasted in a newspaper interview that he timed the constitutional negotiations to force the provincial premiers to "roll the dice" close to the ratification deadline. Chretien said, "Everytime Brian Mulroney rolls the dice, Canada pays the price."

Speaking at a Liberal Party national convention in Calgary, Alberta, Chretien declared, "Prime Minister, I know you are watching tonight. You have brought Canada to the brink of disaster. Prime Minister, Canada will never, ever forgive you."

Earlier, in a desperation move to save the amendments, Mulroney's government had said it would ask Canada's Supreme Court to rule on whether the ratification deadline could be extended. Previously, the government, citing the opinions of constitutional experts, had claimed the deadline was inviolable and for political and legal reasons could not be stretched.

The government's attempt to keep the constitutional accord alive would have required not only a favorable Supreme Court ruling, but approval by the Quebec legislature, which also repeatedly said the deadline could not be extended.

Quebec's minister for intergovernmental affairs, Gil Remilliard, tonight said that nothing had happened that would change a statement he made Thursday in which he said, "As far as we are concerned, our books will be closed {Saturday} and after that we will have to think about something else."

The Manitoba legislature adjourned after legislator Elijah Harper, a Cree Indian tribal leader, refused to agree to an extension of a house debate into the weekend. Harper said his use of a procedure to block further debate and the beginning of required public hearings was a protest of the constitution's omission of Indian rights.

Newfoundland's Premier Clyde Wells, in a speech to his legislature, said he was outraged over Mulroney's attempt to use the Supreme Court as a means of extending Saturday's deadline for ratification of the Meech Lake accord.

The premier said that during the Ottawa constitutional conference earlier this month he repeatedly asked Mulroney for an extension so that Newfoundland could hold a public referendum on the amendments, but the prime minister had said an extension was unconstitutional.

As the Manitoba legislature adjourned today, Sen. Lowell Murray, Mulroney's minister for federal-provincial relations, said that the adjournment by the Manitoba legislature without ratifying the accord was "regrettable but not necessarily fatal."

Former Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau said it was time to bury the Meech Lake accord.