04/24/2013 05:31 EDT | Updated 06/24/2013 05:12 EDT

Constitution: Quebec sends Ottawa a request for access to documents

QUEBEC - The Quebec government has sent Ottawa an official request to get access to Constitution-related documents from more than 30 years ago.

The move comes after the release of a book that raises new questions about the events that led to the 1982 adoption of the current Constitution, featuring the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Quebec Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Alexandre Cloutier says the access request has been sent to the Privy Council and the Justice and Foreign Affairs departments.

The province's national assembly unanimously adopted a motion last week calling on Ottawa to shine the spotlight on any possible Supreme Court role in the patriation of the Constitution.

A new book by a historian says the Supreme Court chief justice improperly tipped off the Canadian and British governments on the discussions between magistrates.

Frederic Bastien suggested in his book that then-chief justice Bora Laskin and another Supreme Court justice violated the principle of separation of executive and judicial powers in the early 1980s.

Bastien based that account on documents he got from Britain, as the Canadian government was less forthcoming in the release of its old material.

Quebec, which was then led by sovereigntist premier Rene Levesque, was the only province that did not endorse the 1982 Constitution.

Quebec politicians, and not just Pequistes, have frequently cast the new Constitution as a historic affront and they note that Charter-related court battles led to significant weakening of the province's language laws.

The most ardent of those critics, notably the governing Parti Quebecois, have jumped on the revelations in Bastien's book and called into question the legitimacy of Canada's Constitution.

The Supreme Court has said it will investigate the 1981 events but provincial parties, along with the federal NDP, have pushed the federal government for more information.