Canada's provincial leaders broke a deadlock over Senate reform Wednesday, opening the way to agreement with Quebec on constitutional amendments to keep the country united.
The 10 premiers agreed to turn the appointed upper house into an elected body in which all provinces would have an equal number of seats. Equal representation met demands by western and Atlantic provinces for a bigger say in running the country.
In return, Quebec will get more power in the House of Commons and a constitutional guarantee of 25 percent of combined seats of both houses.
Negotiations continued yesterday on federal powers to be shifted to the provinces and on self-government for native peoples. Any agreement will be approved by provincial legislatures and a national vote.
The provinces have agreed in principle on decentralizing powers in areas such as mining, forestry, tourism, housing, culture, and urban affairs.