Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence of the Special Joint Committee of the Senate and of the House of Commons on the Constitution of Canada, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, No 23 (10 December 1980)
By: Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Canada, Parliament, Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence of the Special Joint Committee of the Senate and of the House of Commons on the Constitution of Canada, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, No 23 (10 December 1980).
Other formats: Click here to view the original document (PDF).
HOUSE OF COMMONS
Issue No. 23
Wednesday, December 10, 1980
Senator Harry Hays, P.C.
Serge Joyal, M.P.
Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence
of the Special Joint Committee of
the Senate and of
the House of Commons on the
Constitution of Canada
The document entitled “Proposed Resolution for a
Joint Address to Her Majesty the Queen
respecting the Constitution of Canada” published
by the Government on October 2, 1980
(See back cover)
First Session of the
Thirty-second Parliament, 1980
SPECIAL JOINT COMMITTEE OF
THE SENATE AND OF THE HOUSE
OF COMMONS ON THE CONSTITUTION
Senator Harry Hays, P.C.
Serge Joyal, M.P.
Representing the Senate:
Representing the House of Commons:
(South West Nova)
Joint Clerks of the Committee
Pursuant to S.O. 65(4)(b) of the House of Commons:
On Wednesday, December 10, 1980:
Mr. Tobin replaced Mr. Allmand;
Mr. Rae replaced Mr. Anguish;
Mr. Nystrom replaced Mr. Robinson (Burnaby);
Mr. Crombie replaced Mr. Hawkes;
Mr. Gimaiel replaced Mr. Tobin;
Mr. Hawkes replaced Mr. Fraser;
Mr. Robinson (Burnaby) replaced Mr. Rae;
Mr. Rossi replaced Mr. Irwin.
Pursuant to an order of the Senate adopted November 5, 1980:
On Wednesday, December 10, 1980:
Senator Goldenberg replaced Senator Lapointe;
Senator Petten replaced Senator Rousseau.
MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 10, 1980
The Special Joint Committee on the Constitution of Canada met this day at 3:41 o’clock p.m., the Joint Chairman, Mr. Joyal, presiding.
Members of the Committee present:
Representing the Senate: The Honourable Senators Asselin, Austin, Goldenberg, Hays, Lewis, Lucier, Petten, Rizzuto and Roblin.
Representing the House of Commons: Messrs. Beatty, Bockstael, Crombie, Corbin, Epp, Gimaiel, Hawkes, Irwin, Joyal, Lapierre. Mackasey, McGrath, Nystrom, Rae, Robinson (Burnaby), Rossi and Tobin.
Other Member present: Mr. Allmand.
In attendance: From the Parliamentary Centre: Mr. Peter Dobell, Director; From the Research Branch of the Library of Parliament: Messrs. John McDonough and Louis Massicotte, Researchers.
Witnesses: From the National Congress of Italian-Canadians (Quebec Region): Miss Rita Desantis, Spokesperson, Messrs. Antonio Sciascia, Legal Advisor and Giovanni Molina, President.
The Committee resumed consideration of its Order of Reference from the Senate dated November 3, 1980 and its Order of Reference from the House of Commons dated October 23, 1980, both relating to the document entitled “Proposed Resolution for a Joint Address of Her Majesty the Queen respecting the Constitution of Canada” published by the Government on October 2, 1980. (See Minutes of Proceedings, Thursday, November 6, 1980, Issue No. 1).
Messrs. Molina and Sciascia and Miss Desantis made statements and answered questions.
Senator Austin moved,
1. That the Committee receive applications for the appearance of witnesses until December 17, 1980, and receive briefs in writing until December 31, 1980;
2. That the Committee not sit in the period beginning December 20, 1980 and ending January 4, 1981 but shall sit on Friday, December 19, 1980 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and resume sittings on January 5, 1981 at 8:00 p.m.;
3. That the Committee complete its hearing of witnesses not later than January 9, 1981 except that leave may be given in special cases;
4. That the Committee consider the proposed Address to Her Majesty the Queen referred to this Committee on a clause by clause basis, including any proposed amendments thereto, commencing no later than January 12, 1981;
5. That the Committee complete its report to the Senate and the House of Commons no later than February 5, 1981.
6. That the Committee agree to receive a maximum of five individual witnesses, two to be selected by the Govern-
ment members of the Committee, two to be selected by the Official Opposition members of the Committee, and one to be selected by the New Democratic Party.
After debate, Mr. Epp moved,—That the motion be amended as follows:
(a) in paragraph 1 by deleting the words “December 17, 1980” and substituting the following words: “December 31, 1980.”
(b) by adding the following new paragraph after paragraph 2 “That the committee advertise in Canadian newspapers that dates for receipt of written briefs and applications for witnesses to appear before the Committee is December 31, 1980.”
(c) in paragraph 3 by deleting the words “January 9, 1981” and substituting the following words: “January 25, 1981”
(d) by deleting paragraph 6 and substituting the following paragraph: “That the Committee agree to receive individual witnesses, to be selected and scheduled by the Sub-committee.”
(e) in paragraph 4 by deleting the words “January 12, 1981” and substituting the following words: “January 26, 1981”.
By unanimous consent, on motion of Mr. Nystrom the motion was amended by deleting the words “in special cases” in paragraph 3 and substituting the following:
“to hear further witnesses during the clause by clause study of the document before the Committee, where their testimony may be of assistance to the Committee;”
Mr. Robinson (Burnaby) moved,—That the motion be amended by adding after paragraph I the following new paragraph:
That this Committee call upon the Minister of Justice to forward to the Committee by December 17 the results, insofar as they relate to constitutional questions, of the three opinion polls which he has so far not released,
After debate, by unanimous consent, the amendment of Mr. Robinson (Burnaby) was withdrawn.
After debate, the question being put on part (a) of the amendment of Mr. Epp, it was, by a show of hands. negatived: YEAS: 8; NAYS: 16.
The question being put on part (b) of the amendment of Mr. Epp, it was, by a show of hands, negatived: YEAS: 8; NAYS: 16.
The question being put on part (c) of the amendment of Mr. Epp, it was, by a show of hands, negatived: YEAS: 8; NAYS: 16.
The question being put on part (d) of the amendment of Mr. Epp, it was, by a show of hands, negatived: YEAS: 8; NAYS: 16.
The question being put on part (9) of the amendment of Mr. Epp, it was, by a show of hands, negatived: YEAS: 8; NAYS: 16.
Mr. Beatty moved,—That the motion be amended by deleting paragraph 5.
The question being put on the amendment, it was negatived on the following show of hands: YEAS: 8; NAYS: 14.
Mr. Robinson (Burnaby) proposed to move,—That the motion be amended by adding after the paragraph 1 the following new paragraph:
That the Committee advertise as soon as possible in Canadian newspapers that the deadline for receipt of written briefs is December 31, 1980 and the deadline for application for witnesses to appear is December 17, 1980.
The proposed amendment was ruled out of order, the question having already been decided.
By unanimous consent, it was agreed,—That the Committee advertise forthwith in Canadian newspapers that the date for application to appear before the Committee is December 17, 1980 and that the date to receive written submissions is December 31, 1980 with the understanding that the date of the postmark shall be deemed to be the date of receipt.
The question being put on the motion, as amended, it was agreed to on the following division:
The Honourable Senators
Campbell (Miss) (South West Nova)
The Honourable Senators
At 8:00 o’clock p.m., the Committee adjourned to the call of the Chair.
Joint Clerks of the Committee
(Recorded by Electronic Apparatus)
Wednesday, December 10, 1980
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Could we come to order, please.
Many I ask the honourable members of the Committee to please take their seats so that we may resume consideration of our order of reference with the representatives of the National Italian-Canadian Congress, represented here this afternoon by Miss Rita Desantis, Mr. Giovanni Molina, President, and Mr. Antonio Sciascia, Legal Adviser to the Congress.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal) continues in Italian.
I understand that you have an oral presentation to make to the members and that you will then be ready to answer any questions.
So, I would now invite Mr. Molina to open the discussion.
Mr. Giovanni Molina (President, National Italian-Canadian Congress): Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, the National Italian-Canadian Congress, Quebec region, is an organization made up of approximately 100 Italian Canadian associations with 10 parish representatives, six union representatives and 12 people who have been elected from the Italian-Canadian community.
We are, as we have always been, concerned by any legislation affecting the right of our citizens and that is why we have prepared a brief stating our position on the Proposed Resolution for constitutional reform.
I would now like to introduce Mr. Antonio Sciascia, Legal Adviser to the National Italian-Canadian Congress, Quebec region, and Miss Rita Desantis, who both assisted in drafting this brief. It will be their pleasure to answer any of your question.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Antonio Sciascia (Legal Adviser, National Italian-Canadian Congress): Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, first of all, I would like to apologize for any errors in the text of this brief.
As you are undoubtedly aware, our community has been aggrieved by a recent tragedy. So, for the past two weeks, we have been concentrating all our efforts on a fund raising campaign to assist victims of this disaster in Southern Italy.
So, having made those apologies, I would like to proceed in the following manner, if I may. I would like to read our brief, which is not very long, and then highlight the issues which we feel are the most important in the brief. Then, we would be ready to receive questions.
So, Mr. Chairman, with the permission of the Committee, I would ask Miss Desantis to read our brief to you.
Miss Rita Desantis (Spokesperson, National Italian-Canadian Congress): Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen. Nous sommes Québécois! We are Canadians! Ci siamo anche noi!
On May 20th, we chose to remain in a strong united Canada.
We are Canadians of Italian descent and since we are citizens whose roots are neither French nor British, allow us to join other Canadians who share this characteristic with us in reminding you that we make up 30 per cent of the total population of Canada. We are also here and willing to share on an equal basis in the responsibilities and duties of every Canadian.
Our interest in Canada is a special one for, historically, we were among the first to discover this land. Since 1880, the whole of Canada bears the stamp of our builders and workers, both men and women.
In the minds and hearts of those who chose Canada, the vision of this land was that of a country where regardless of cultural background, of origin, or of race, people could work together to create a new way of life. Canada was and is perceived to be a land of equal opportunity, a country where no dream is impossible.
Canada has evolved from the initial compact of 1867. The constitution of Canada should reflect all the elements in the Canadian mosaic. The constitution of Canada should not be an act of political or partisan compromise. It must be a statement of principles.
The document entitled The Canada Act is sterile, dispassionate; as if Canada were not worthy of an identity, not worth of accolades. We deplore the fact that a preamble was omitted from The Canada Act. Who are we, Canadians?
The preamble should have recognized the existence of two major linguistic communities neither of which is homogeneous; the preamble should have recognized the historic significance of the French and English communities; however, the preamble should also ave recognized a Canada rich in cultural diversity.
The document entitled The Canada Act is vague and imprecise: there is a “reasonable” or “unreasonable” limit to people’s rights. These limitations subject the Bill of Rights to interpretations and restrictions which may reduce the individual’s rights and freedoms. Furthermore, the proposed bill of rights fails to recognize the rights of native peoples to a separate and distinct identity, and it fails to make any mention of the rights of the minority groups to pursue their onw cultural activities. Lest we forget, no one cultural group forms the absolute majority in Canada.
If the Bill of Rights cannot state unequivocally that all Canadians are equal regardless of linguistic “appartenance”; that Canada ad mare usque ad mare belongs to all Canadians; that certain rights and freedoms are absolute; then we cannot support a document which appears to be drafted to please politicians and is not a bill of rights for all Canadian citizens.
Being Canadian is exciting and, indeed, the simple fact that so many people from around the world would like to have Canadian passports bears that out.
How sad that this document should be so dry that it could have been drafted by a computer. It lacks feeling. The preamble might have held a statement of fundamental principles so that very citizen might share the vision we have of the kind of country we want and appreciate our will to seize this opportunity of uniting all citizens with respect to basic concepts.
We are convinced federalists and we share the vision that the Prime Minister of Canada has repeatedly and publicly depicted in moving terms to all Canadian citizens.
We agree that man’s peace, dignity and power of self-expression must be protected before any changes be made to the separation of powers between governments. But the proposed Bill of Rights is a gesture only. in Canada, linguistic rights are fundamental to the fulfilment of the individual. Remember the words of Thomas Jefferson:
We have it in our power to begin… over again. ‘Tis not the concern of a day, a year, or an age; posterity are virtually involved in the contest, and will be more or less affected (for generations) by the proceedings now…
Jefferson has expressed it well: we must build not only for today but also for the future.
In this respect, Section 23 of the proposed resolution, as worded, presents a number of inconveniences which might be eliminated by adopting the following amendment proposed by Senator Rizzuto:
1. Citizens of Canada whose first language learned and still understood is that of the English or French linguistic minority of the province in which they reside have the right to have their children receive their primary and secondary school instruction in that minority language if they reside in an area of the province in which the number of children of such citizens is sufficient to warrant the provision out of public funds of minority language educational facilities in that area.
2. That all citizens of Canada who attended French or English schools at the primary and secondary levels in Canada have the right to have their children receive their instruction in the schools they themselves attended in all the areas of Canada in which the number of children of such citizens is sufficient to warrant the provision out of public funds of such educational facilities.
That all citizens of Canada have the right, when one of their children has received his/her instruction in French or in English, to have their other children receive their instruction, at the primary and secondary levels. in the English or French minority language, in any area of Canada where the number of children of citizens enjoying a right recognized in the present section is sufficient to justify the provision out of public funds of educational facilities in that language.
As now worded, Section 23 multiplies the number of different classes of citizens. Thus. members of the Italian community whose mother tongue is Italian would not enjoy the guarantees provided for in Section 23, even though they may be Canadian citizens of long standing and may have received their schooling in English.
Furthermore, it grants more extensive rights to immigrants whose mother tongue is one of the two official languages at the time they acquire their Canadian citizenship.
It is necessary to reconcile the protection of rights enjoyed by allophones having received their instruction at the primary and/or secondary levels in Canada, with the mother tongue criterion.
However, there can be no doubt that the ultimate, and quite logical, objective must be to, one day, have bilingualism for all Canadian citizens.
This objective can only be reached if two conditions are met: that the preamble to the constitution recognize as a fundamental element the reality and the development of the linguistic duality which exists in this country; and that the constitution allow and protect the development of the minority language which is for every Canadian a source of enrichment and a factor of national unity.
With these two provisions, there would then be a clear recognition of the equal status of both official languages by improving, and if necessary, by enforcing the teaching of these languages across the country, an opportunity for all young Canadians to express themselves correctly in both official languages at the end of their studies. We know that this is a high ideal, but then we strongly believe that in writing a constitution for a young country, we should set ideals for ourselves.
Indeed, what this means is that a large part of our problem would be eliminated if the French taught in English schools and the English taught in French schools were of a higher standard. It is, however, obvious that all provinces must cooperate if we are to reach this goal since education falls under their exclusive jurisdiction.
Given the current lack of co-operation and the political will to launch a much needed dialogue, regardless of political expediency, the perspective of an ideal in language of instruction remains out of reach.
We well understand that linguistic rights are not and cannot be, in the present phase of the evolution of Canadian society, guarateed solely to individuals but that their collective dimension must be considered in all fairness.
Freedom of choice can only be rejected by the majority of our Francophone fellow citizens from Quebec and their opposition is justifiable because the prerequisite of equality of status for both official languages does not as yet exist. A look to the near future gives no hope of radical change in this respect. We understand the feelings of our francophone fellow citizens and we share them.
We believe that the first step towards true equality of status for both official languages should be the extension of Section 133 of the British North America Act to Ontario and New Brunswick.
In conclusion, we believe, with respect to linguistic rights, that the mother tongue criterion is acceptable if measures are taken to protect the rights enjoyed by those allophones already residing in Canada whose language of instruction in Canada was English.
Furthermore, we believe that measures should be taken immediately to correct, within the next few years, the situation of both official languages so that the minority language can cease to fear for its survival.
Finally, because we are Quebeckers, we have chosen to assume the French dimension of Canadian society by being able to communicate in that language and by better integrating ourselves in Quebec and in Canada.
Because we are Canadians, we also want to be able to communicate with our other fellow citizens from coast to coast without being faced by linguistic, regulatory or other barriers.
We recommend that a preamble be included in the Canada Act in which would recognized the important historical contributions made to Canada by the English and French Canadians. However, the preamble should also recognize the wealth of cultural, economic and social experience contributed by the ethnic groups, and the Bill of Rights should assert their right to preserve their culture and heritage, and that section 23 of The Canada Act be amended by replacing it with what we have recommended.
Mr. Sciascia: Mr. Chairman, I would like to underline the basically three points in our brief.
First of all, let me start by saying that, on behalf of the Congress, that we in principle favour the patriation of the constitution, however with some reservations as mentioned in our brief. We feel that Section 23 as it stands is worse than Bill 101 in the Province of Quebec, actually, in effect. We feel that before patriating the constitution Section 23 ought to be amended to enlarge, at least, the Canadian citizens who will have access to the minority language education.
In fact, Section 23 actually ignores completely the rights of anglophones in the Province of Quebec. it simply protects the minority rights of the francophones and the anglophones.
If we examine the provisions of Bill 101, the parent who has received primary instruction in the English language, irregardless of his origins, has the right to send his children to that school. And if he has already a child enrolled in the English schools, irregardless of his origin, he also has the right to send his other children to that same school. Section 23 does not provide even for that.
We suggest further that our proposal enlarges a little more what Bill 101 has already given us by including secondary education rather than only primary education. As you well know, in Quebec primary education has been considered as the person who has received at least six years of elementary education, therefore this excludes thousands of people who, like me, came to this country at an age of 10, 11 years and started schooling here at grade three or four. Now, these people, even though they received English education, part of the elementary education and the secondary level and at the university level, these people are prohibited from sending their children to English schools. I think that the proposal will cover these people.
We also would like to mention that the Congress in the past has often taken a stand that, being an ethnic group and not being of British or French origin, we have always preferred that our children learn the two languages, and if we go back to our opposition to Bill 101, our main stand was that we wanted our children to learn the two languages. We wanted some guarantee that our children, if they attended French schools, they would come out of the schools also learning English, and these guarantees were never given to us. This is why today we underline again that our main objective is bilingualism and we ask that the constitution help our cause to underline the principle of bilingualism.
If we go back a little while there were two major studies that were made in the last 20 years, and I refer to… [Translation] the Parent Report whose recommendations can be summarized as follows. It was said that problems of cultural and school orientation for new Canadians towards either the French or the English culture began at the beginning of the century.
The solutions proposed in the Parent Report may be summarized thus: improve the teaching of English, gain an open attitude vis-a-vis our new Canadians, and make the distinction between the French culture, and the ethnic origin of them.
The Gendron Report also mentioned the attitudes of ethnic groups and summarized it as follows: they do not want to choose between the two cultures, and show a manifect attachment for bilingualism, they resent the frustration and the insecurity it brings about, and they prefer English schools for the following reasons: knowledge of English will allow them to work anywhere in North America, instruction is of higher quality in the English schools, and French Canadian schools have refused a child because he spoke a foreign language.
Mr. Chairman, we must stress that the position of our group is not extreme. We understand, and as we have said, we share the thoughts of the francophone community in Quebec.
On the other hand, we want to give our children the possibility of learning both languages.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Sciascia.
I will ask the hon. Senator Asselin to begin the questioning of our witness this afternoon.
Senator Asselin: Mr. Chairman, if I may, I would like to change the order of questioners this afternoon. Since Snator Rizzuto is present this afternoon, that he is an Italian from Montreal and that the witnesses come from Montreal, I should like your concurrence that he begin the questioning.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): I will have to ask for the consent of Mr. Bob Rae who is usually second on our list.
Mr. Rae: I am most happy to defer to Senator Rizzuto.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Rae.
Senator Rizzuto: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I thank you for this opportunity to ask the first question.
I shall address my first question to Mr. Sciascia. You ask that Section 133 of the BNA Act apply to New Brunswick and to Ontario.
Do you think that this will better protect the rights of Francophones in Ontario and in New Brunswick, and do you think that it is right that the Anglophone minority in Quebec should be in a better position to request its rights because the Francophones outside Quebec will be protected then, just as are the Anglophones in Quebec?
Mr. Sciascia: It seems to me that would be more normal. As we have stated in our brief, it is certainly the first step towards the bilingualism to apply Section 133 of the British North America Act in those provinces where there is already a fair number of Francophones, such as New Brunswick and Ontario.
In our mind, that is the first step towards bilingualism.
Miss Desantis: I would like to add something to that.
We are told that Canada is presently bilingual, but if we go across the country we realize that this is not the truth.
If we really want to say that Canada is bilingual we have to set up a program that effectively makes Canada bilingual.
Then in Ontario and in New Brunswick we already have conditions which would allow for the extension of Section 133 to those provinces and it seems but petty politics to refuse to allow Section 133 to be also applied to those provinces, otherwise the whole notion of bilingualism is just a lovely notion and not something that we really want to achieve for Canada.
Senator Rizzuto: I have a second question, Mr. Chairman.
Here is the question. You speak of effectively applying the principle of bilingualism in all 10 provinces of Canada, and to teach both languages in all schools.
In other words, you wish that the second language be taught in English schools as well as in French schools.
In your opinion, would this enhance understanding between the Francophones and Anglophones of Canada?
Mr. Sciascia: Mr. Chairman, I believe that indeed in Quebec, most. and if not 50 per cent. at least a good percentage of the schools in the Anglophone system, already teach French as a second language. There are all kinds of immersion courses. And we know very well that already our children in the English sector are leaving school if not perfectly bilingual at least having acquired a good grasp of the language. We think that being bilingual certainly fosters better communication between the two groups.
Senator Rizzuto: Do you think that the fact that people would be able to speak French as a second language would also facilitate the delivery of services. in Ontario, for instance. If French was taught in the English schools of Ontario, would it not be easier to offer services to Francophones? We know that either in New Brunswick or in Ontario, Francophones do not receive the public services they wish. Do you think that it would help the delivery of these services if the population were bilingual?
Mr. Sciascia: If students learn both languages in its schools, it would seem to me that the government of that province would be hard put to refuse to provide either information or services in both languages.
Senator Rizutto: That is all, Mr. Chairman.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Senator Rizutto.
Senator Asselin: Mr. Chairman, I must first congratulate the witnesses on their thoughtful and balanced brief. Unfortunately, I cannot do so in Italian as did our Chairman, but let me assure you that it is an excellent presentation.
However, I do want to underline one or two points in your presentation.
At the beginning, you stated that on May 20, Quebec had chosen to remain within a united and strong country.
In your mind, do you not feel that the results of the referendum was rather a rejection of the principle of negotiated sovereignty-association and economic union with Canada, rather than an expression of satisfaction with the present constitutional system?
Mr. Sciascia: Mr. Senator, in our minds, the result of the vote on May 20 was clearly and categorically a “no” for separation.
Miss Desantis: And a “yes” for Canada!
Senator Asselin: That is what you think.
Mr. Sciascia: Let us say rather the thought of our whole community.
Senator Asselin: In your mind, it was “no” to separation, but it was not a refusal to changes we are interested in making to the constitution.
Mr. Sciascia: That is quite right.
Senator Asselin: Then, if the result of the referendum was indeed to get changes to the constitution, do you interpret that result as favouring the constitutional changes that we are now considering, that is the unilateral patriation of the constitution? Did Quebeckers in fact voted for unilateral patriation of the constitution, or did they not rather vote for an agreement between Quebec and the provinces and the federal government on constitutional changes?
Mr. Sciascia: I cannot speak for the other Quebeckers in general, but for our community, the decision was not exactly to favour patriation of the constitution. At the time of the referendum, the principal question was separation, yes or no, but if I am interpreting the sentiments of my fellow citizens, it seems that the time had come to make some decision on the patriation of the constitution, and we support that.
Senator Asselin: You are in favour then of unilateral repatriation. Is that right?
Mr. Sciascia: Exactly.
Senator Asselin: You are aware that today a Gallup poll revealed that the majority of Quebeckers are against this process of patriation. Are you aware of that survey?
Mr. Sciascia: Yes.
Senator Asselin: So you are aware.
And yet despite that survey, you maintain your position that the provinces not participate in the patriation of the constitution, even if the proposed charter of rights encroaches upon the rights of the provinces?
Mr. Sciascia: As I understand the constitution, particularly the present resolution, the rights of the provinces are in no way affected. Provinces can always negotiate either an amending formula, or the division of power.
Repatriation will only bring the constitution back to Canada from another country, and enshrine within it civil rights and liberties.
I think that we can agree with that.
If the provinces want to play politics, we cannot support them. It is time that something was done.
Senator Asselin: When you say that the provinces can subsequently discuss their rights and jurisdictions, will you not agree with me if I say that Section 23 as proposed is an infringement on the exclusive rights of the provinces with respect to education, and therefore the teaching of a language. Yet you accept that, under the guise of unilateral repatriation, the federal government, without consulting the provinces, shall
infringe on a right which is exclusively a provincial jurisdiction, that is education and the teaching of a language.
Do you also support that point of view?
Mr. Sciascia: Well, Senator, I am not prepared to say whether the constitution as presented or as amended will infringe on the exclusive rights and jurisdictions of the provinces.
I prefer that the Supreme Court eventually judge that issue.
Senator Asselin: So you would agree, that before the federal government adopt this method of repatriation, and the enshrinement of the charter of rights, the Supreme Court make a judgement on its validity or legality?
Mr. Sciascia: Personally, I think the government has a right to act in this way. However, if the government feels that politically it would be better to get the opinion of the Supreme Court, that would be even better!
Senator Asselin: Would your conscience not be more tranquil if, as a Quebecker, you had any doubt as to the validity or the legality of this move by the federal government, if indeed the Supreme Court did make some form of decision before the unilateral repatriation and the enshrinement of the charter?
Mr. Sciascia: As I said, all the resolution does is to repatriate the constitution, and in fact there are no radical changes proposed which would affect the provinces.
So, except for a few objections, we think it is a good resolution.
We think it should go ahead, even without the intervention of the Supreme Court, since it is done without prejudice to the provinces, or they can always negotiate. We can no longer wait 50 more years to negotiate.
Senator Asselin: Obviously, you do not want to get into a judicial argument over this point. It is also obvious that I do not share your views, but of course you are entitled to your opinion.
When you say that Canada should be a bilingual country, I do not believe you mean that all anglophones should speak French, and that all francophones should speak English everywhere in Canada. That is not what you are asking?
Mr. Sciascia: I do believe however that we should institute bilingualism in those areas where there is a concentration of francophones and anglophones. I think that we should start in those provinces where there is already a fairly large language minority. It would be a start at least. But the ideal objective would be that some day every Canadian shall speak both languages. Yes, that should be the objective, the ideal,
Senator Asselin: When you speak of extending Section I33 to Ontario and New Brunswick, would you share the opinion of the Liberal leader in Quebec, Mr. Ryan, who said here
before the press club, that if Section 133 was not extended to Ontario and New Brunswick, that once the premier of his province, he would rescind the application of that Section 133 to Quebec. Would you share that view?
Mr. Sciascia: I do not think Mr. Ryan has that power.
Senator Asselin: He may not have the power, but Mr. Ryan has declared he would do so.
Mr. Sciascia: Legally speaking, I do not believe that Mr. Ryan can unilaterally change the constitution.
Senator Asselin: That is very interesting. Then, if Mr. Ryan, as the premier of a province could not take unilateral action, why can the federal government?
Mr. Sciascia: Senator, the federal government is in fact the government of the entire country. So there is a difference between the federal government and a province.
Senator Asselin: Let us deal with the text of Section 23 in your brief, which apparently was authored by Senator Rizzuto—although at one time it was said to have been drafted by the member for Sainte-Marie, which is a mood point-would you not think that the definition and changes as proposed for Section 23 would also create two classes of immigrants?
Mr. Sciascia: There would be some difference for the new immigrants coming to Quebec and the other provinces, They would attend public schools, depending on the province. But it would correct certain anomolies caused by other provincial law, and in our opinion, the amendment would ensure that those citizens who have been harmed by this law, would see their problems partially redressed. For instance, there are those problems of illegal immigrants. I think this amendment would go far in correcting this problem, because it would extend the application of the law, Instead of prescribing “the primary school”, as does Bill 101, the provision is extended to include “their primary and secondary school instruction”.
As it stands now, there is a great number of anglophones who might want to send their children to French schools in order to learn that language, who will be excluded if at any time they should decide to send their children to a school using their mother tongue. By adding the secondary school, you avoid this problem.
Miss Desantis: May I add something to that, please?
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Go ahead.
Miss Desantis: My parents were immigrants, and I was a little girl when we came to Canada. We made a choice to come to Canada. If we had decided to go to England or France, had we been so fortunate as already to have known either French of English at that time we would have had to learn the language of the country where we would have immigrated.
When someone is lucky enough to come to Canada from Australia or someone comes here from Italy, both people have made a choice to come to Canada and both people know that they are going either to Quebec or to Ontario, as the case may be. But they will accept the fact that they would be going to an English or a French school, I do not think it creates two categories of immigrants; otherwise immigrants to any country in the world would be of two categories: those who already know the language of the country they are going to, or those who do not.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): This is your last question, Senator Asselin.
Senator Asselin: Just one quick, final question.
Is it not true that the majority of Italians who emigrated to Canada and settled in Montreal tended to attend English language schools rather than French language schools before Bill 101 was passed, and why?
Mr. Sciascia: Exactly; I will give you the exact reference from the Gendron Report giving the reason why . . .
Senator Asselin: And I would like to add that you did, after all, settle in a province with a French speaking majority.
Mr. Sciascia: Yes, but I am about to give you the answer. The reason why Italians went to English language schools was not because they preferred English language schools but because they had no choice.
If you read the Gendron Report, you will see that French Canadian schools refused these children because they spoke a foreign language. That is mentioned on pages 100 and 102. That was the conclusion of the Gendron Commission. So if many Italian immigrants went to English language schools, it was because they were not accepted in the French language school system. You can disagree if you wish, but that is the conclusion drawn in the Gendron Report; I am not the one saying that.
Senator Asselin: It was because it was easier for Italians to earn a living in English than in French.
Mr. Sciascia: I know this from personal experience, Mr. Senator. When I arrived in Canada, I was not accepted in the French language school system. I had to go to an English language school.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Senator Asselin.
Mr. Bob Rae, followed by Signor Ron Irwin.
Mr. Rae: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would also like to congratulate you on the presentation you made today. I would also like to say that I agree entirely with your recommendation on the preamble, and I agree with your proposals on extending Section 133 to New Brunswick and Ontario. I would also like to ask you a few questions on a contradiction which I find within your document; please correct me if I am wrong.
You point out several times in your presentation that the constitution should not be an act of political or partisan compromise, but must be a statement of principles. You say that on page 2.
On page 3 you say certain rights and freedoms are absolute. At page 4, just before you quote Thomas Jefferson, you say that linguistic rights are fundamental to the fulfilment of the individual.
Then you put forward the recommendation from Senator Rizzuto which, if I may say so. is hardly a ringing declaration. I am not blaming you for this, because I think what you are doing here is what this exercise is all about.
It is all very well to say that certain rights and freedoms are absolute; but I would ask you to bear in mind that it seems to me that, in your document you yourself are admitting that linguistic rights are not absolute, but are subject to all kinds of definitions, limitations and restraints, and that instead of the two categories which we have in the present bill—and I agree with you that we create two classes and there are problems with the definition which we have to work on—you yourself create two different classes: you create a class of immigrant who came here before, and a class of immigrant who came here afterwards.
That may be all right. But having done that, I would suggest to you that what you are engaged in is just as unholy and messy a task as the one with which we are engaged, that is to say, the art of political compromise; and, if I may say so, I do not think there is anything particularly unworthy in that task.
I am not blaming you for it. I am saying to you: welcome to the club.
You are suggesting a compromise; the government has suggested a compromise; Bill 101 was a compromise: the Bourassa bill was a compromise.
I have not heard any of you say that the linguistic right to either French or English language education is one of the absolute rights. Apparently you are saying it is not an absolute right, and it is one which is limited by who your parents happen to be; your brother happens to be. all sorts of acts or changes of God which create two different classes of individual; my brother did not happen to go to an English school; my brother went to a French school.
Would that have been in the Declaration of Independence?
Mr. Sciascia: That is the reality in Quebec.
Mr. Rae: Then, we are all engaged in political compromise.
Mr. Sciasca: What we suggest is bilingualism.
Mr. Rae: You do not have that.
Mr. Sciascia: Yes, we do. If we have, in fact, bilingualism, and if we have the opportunity for our children to learn the two languages, then the new immigrant who comes to this country will also have that opportunity, that is, to learn the two languages.
Mr. Rae: I quite agree with the bilingualism principle even if my French is rather lousy. If we accept the principles put forward by Senator Asselin among others that provincial jurisdiction over education is quite absolute, we still have to recognize that we cannot write into the constitution too many different things about the bilingualism principle. If the federal government is not able to push bilingualism in the schools, then the bilingualism principle is just worthless and does not mean anything.
Miss Desantis: But this is where Senator Asselin’s suggestion can be taken into account. He says that the federal government and the provincial governments should work together.
Well, I go back to what I said when I made the presentation.
We seem to be spending so much time on Section 23. The reason why I, at least, am here, and the reason why I encouraged other people to write this document, is that most often when there was talk about the constitution, there was talk about English and French forever. There was no mention of anything else but English and French.
So, I said to the people who are here beside me and to other people, “Well, for heavens sake, I am a Canadian and I belong in that constitution.” The fear that certain people have of mentioning the fact that I am a Canadian I find incredible. It is unbelievable!
Now, I want my children to be able to understand Canada and to be able to be part of Canada. If I am a Quebecer I have to be able to speak French, but not only speak French, but to understand what French Canadians are. That means part of my education has to include French Canada. What is its history, its culture, traditions and religion.
But if I want to be a Canadian, I want to be able to communicate across the country, and I have to learn how to speak English; otherwise, once I cross that border, I cannot communicate with anyone.
But when we talk about the ideal of bilingualism, we are trying to say that across the country if we are going to have a vision of Canadians we all came here from other countries to try and build a country together regardless of our cultural background, and we decided that there were going to be two languages which we were going to use to communicate with each other, otherwise we are going to have 21 Tower of Babel as has been mentioned by other people, and then I think that the provinces and the federal government have to examine exactly what kind of Canada they want. That is when the provinces, if they really want to keep up Canada, where we all belong, are going to try and implement this kind of program with respect to education.
Mr. Rae: Yes, but what you are suggesting is that you would put general language in the constitution about the fact that bilingualism is a good objective and leave it up to the provinces as to whether or not they implement that objective?
Ms. Desantis: Well, we have to be realistic.
Mr. Rae: Yes, but if I could just add one other point before my time rapidly disappears.
Ms. Desantis: I am sorry.
Mr. Rae: There is one point and then one question.
The point is that I would ask you to reflect on the fact taht bilingualism is a reality in those communities, in those parts of Canada where people of different linguistic backgrounds have not only to learn something, education in the abstract, but they have to work and function in that language and let us face the reality, there are not too many cities and communities, if we look at the whole of Canada, where one needs or one has to speak French in order to carry on, so I would like you to just reflect on that fact for a moment.
The second question I have to ask you, where you refer to the importance of the dimension collective, collective dimension of linguistic rights. One of the things that is frequently mentioned in discussions in Ontario, and elsewhere in Canada, too, is the collective rights of new Canadians to what is called heritage language questions.
Has your group given any thought to this element since you quote Jefferson and others to say that linguistic freedom is essential for one’s individual identity? Do you have any reflection on whether or not it is possible or realistic for us to attempt to, in a federal way, to encourage or to protect what are called heritage language?
Ms. Desantis: If you include in a bill of rights the right that all the ethnic groups have to preserve their culture and their heritage, in one way you are also including that. In our recommendations and also the document itself, you mentioned . . .
Mr. Rae: I do not remember. Is it?
Ms. Desantis: Yes. So language is part of our culture.
Mr. Rae: Yes, I agree with that.
Ms. Desantis: And if it is part of the bill of rights then there is a protection to it.
Mr. Rae: And that is adequate in your view?
Ms. Desantis: Well, I think if the right to speak Italian is not going to be taken away from me, I mean if it is enshrined in the bill of rights, I would find that adequate, yes. I came to Canada not to recreate Italy.
Mr. Rae: No, I appreciate that.
Ms. Desantis: I came to Canada to be a Canadian, but at the same time to be able to maintain my culture, my tradition and my language.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Rae. Mr. Ron Irwin.
Mr. Irwin: (Speaks in Italian.)
Anyway, I am very pleased that you are the first multicultural group who have come before us who have recognized the English-French character of the nation and want to build on that character. and I am very pleased that you are forcefully putting Section 133 across.
Out of curiosity, why are you interested in 133 being imposed on Ontario? That really does not affect you living in Quebec?
Mr. Sciascia: Well, if we want to put into effect what we preach. which is bilingualism, then we have to start implementing that policy somewhere, and I think that if we treat the francophones in Ontario the same way that the anglophones are treated in Quebec, then I think what would be a good start.
Mr. Irwin: Splendid. Now, on the Rizzuto amendment, in simple terms. I understand as it affects. for instance, Senator Rizzuto, he is a Canadian Citizen, he has been here for many years, yet he is unable to send his children to an English school if he wants to. and that under his amendment, if there are sufficient numbers, he as a citizen would be able to do that; is that correct?
Mr. Sciascia: Not if Senator Rizutto has not received English education. Then he would not be able to send his children to English schools.
However, if one of his children were already enrolled in an English school. then he would be able to send his children to English schools.
Mr. Irwin: So you have narrowed it down. He first has to be a Canadian citizen ?
Mr. Sciascia: That is right.
Mr. Irwin: He has to have gone to an English school himself?
Mr. Sciascia: Or one of his children has to be enrolled in an English school for the other ones to be able to go to that school.
Mr. Irwin: So they can catch up, so they are all going to the same school?
Mr. Sciascia: That is right.
Mr. Irwin: So it is not very earth shattering what you are suggesting, I think it is very reasonable.
Mr. Sciascia: We must face reality. We come from the Province of Quebec, therefore, we have to be very reserved and I think that would satisfy the demands of the Italian community.
Mr. Irwin: How many Italian Canadians are there in Quebec?
Mr. Sciascia: We estimate anywhere from 250,000 to 300,000.
Mr. Irwin: Now, you have indicated that they started coming there around 1880.
Ms. Desantis: We came before 1880.
Mr. Irwin: Is that right?
Ms. Desantis: Oh, yes. I leave that to Tony.
Mr. Irwin: I would like to know a little bit of the history. I know the history of why they came to Ontario but I am not sure that the people of Ontario understand why the Italians immigrated to Quebec prior to 1900?
Mr. Sciascia: Well, if you wish we can give you some reference to that.
An hon. Member: Christopher Columbus.
Ms. Desantis: No, not Christopher Columbus, there are others.
Senator Tremblay: Giovanni Cabot.
Mr. Sciascia: In fact, a large part of the regiment Salière-Carignan which was brought here to defend New France was made up of Italian soldiers. [Text] Here we are talking about a heck of a long time ago.
Mr. Irwin: You know, there is some history that when Giovanni Cabot landed and he met the first Indians, they were calling codfish, bukaluk, which is Italian for codfish. So maybe the Italians got there even before that, they just did not want to tell them where the good fishing spots were.
Now, on the preamble, why is it important to you that we have a dressed up preamble? Now, we have had two versions, and I think it was the Ukrainian or the Polish Group that said it made no difference to them what was said in the preamble, it was what was in the body of the document that was important because that is where the rights were. You are indicating really nothing in the body of any substance, but you are very interested in the preamble other than language, away from language?
Miss Desantis: I am sorry but we also want something in the Bill of Rights which is very similar to what the Ukrainiens asked for, I believe. They wanted a section 15(3), that the right to your culture and your heritage be enshrined in the Bill of Rights but there is a necessity for a preamble because the preamble gives the tone to the rest of the document, it tells us what Canada is and what we aspire Canada to be.
I want to be part of Canada, and I am sorry, but sometimes I get the impression that I have to fight real hard to make somebody believe that I am part of Canada, and I do not think I have to beg to acquire a right to participate in the history of Canada.
The preamble to the constitution can say that Canada is a bilingual country, that we want to make bilingualism effective across the country and that Canada is no longer the Canada it was in 1867 because since 1867 people have come to this country from all corners of the earth and they have decided that they are going to come here and to work together, and 30 percent of the population presently is not english or French. We want that to be recognized.
Mr. Irwin: I quite agree with you. I sometimes believe me should have hired a writer or poet to do some of the drafting rather than the lawyers but I wanted to hear you say that.
Mr. Epp: Hear, hear.
Miss Desantis: I think we make that comment. [Translation] We say that a computer could have written this document.
There is an emotion to being a Canadian. I think some of you must be looking at me and saying: well, she is a real Italian, very passionate, very emotional. Well, I am very proud that my parents decided to come to Canada, I am very proud to be Canadian and I want other Canadians to share that same pride that I have.
Mr. Irwin: I think I will leave it on that high note, Mr. Chairman. Thank you very much.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Irwin.
The hon. Senator Tremblay.
Senator Tremblay: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
A passage from your brief, madam, gentlemen, strikes me particularly, where you say on page 7, in the first paragraph:
Because we are Quebeckers . . .
And of course I am quoting,
. . . we choose to make ours the French dimension of our society by being able to communicate in French and by better integrating ourselves in the community of Quebec and in the Canadian society.
I was indeed struck by this passage because I could not help feeling that this little paragraph answered a question I had asked when in 1974 or in 1975—Senator Rizzuto, you will remember it since we were both you and I present—when it was my privilege to welcome, in the name of the Quebec government, a distinguished visitor from Italy, the Minister Granelle, when I addressed the members of the Italian group that had been invited to join us, francophones of Quebec, to welcome this visitor, I had taken the liberty of saying and this was shortly after the adoption of Bill 22, and heaven knows that at the time Bill 22 was controversial, I took the liberty of saying that the Italian community of Quebec was being offered the possibility to associate itself with the future of Quebec according to the way the whole of Quebec was designing this future.
I am under the impression that you have just answered this question and I thank you. I seem to have perceived not only in your brief, but also in the comments that Mrs. Desantis made with such warmth that you really want to become a part of Quebec society and yet maintain an opening towards Canadian society.
I do hope that translates your deepest thoughts; it is so, I can see by your attitude that I have not too poorly interpreted your deepest feelings. I would like to emphasize that I very much appreciated since I am the Quebecker who invited you a few years ago, and others before we have done it also, that I took the liberty of doing it that time, to participate fully in the definition of Quebec’s future.
Having thus prefaced my remarks, I would like to answer perhaps what Mr. Rae said a while ago when he placed you before the problem of mobility and the problem of learning English elsewhere than in Quebec, since I perceived, so I thought, in your attitude that you felt that roots were more important. You cannot be mobile if you have no roots anywhere. Fewer mobility is but an abstraction.
Having said this, I would like to get to more precise points, I would like you to tell me clearly how you went about drawing up the concrete suggestions you have presented.
First of all, it must be noted that you do not choose between the criterion of the mother tongue and that of primary education. You add one to the other. You have not wanted to choose between one or the other. Some present the problem as one of choice between one criterion or another, but you add them together. You present two recommendations.
When you take the mother tongue as a criterion, you speak of “the province in which they reside”. I am quoting from the third line of the last page of your brief. When you use the criterion of “primary and second level”, you refer to Canada.
My first question; by doing this, by using the criterion of primary and secondary levels in Canada, you are departing from Bill 101 where it is said, “in Quebec”. Your aim is to replace the expression “Quebec” by the expression “Canada” when you do this. This is very clear in your mind. You are , saying yes.
Now, this being the case, is the criterion of the mother tongue quite as necessary? I would like you to tell me why you have kept Recommendation No. I in your brief if Recommendation No. 2 is accepted?
Mr. Sciascia: The first paragraph refers to the French-speaking minority or the English-speaking minority. This recommendation is aimed at solving the problem of the English community in Quebec and might also solve the problem of French-speaking minority in other provinces.
We are speaking in paragraph one of the problem of the two founding races, if you want to call them that, but also of two minorities, the English and the French minorities.
In the second paragraph, we are speaking of Canadian citizens. It is obvious that this has nothing to do with French Canadians or Anglophones. We are speaking of any Canadian citizen, Italian, Greek, Portuguese, who went to French of English schools; such a citizen would be entitled to send his children to the same school he attended.
Senator Tremblay: This does not mean he could not register his children in the other school also. It would be his choice.
Mr. Sciascia: It would be his choice.
The third paragraph is an addition to the second where it is said “all citizens of Canada”. Here again, we are not speaking of the Francophones or Anglophones, we are speaking of all citizens who already have a child registered in school, French or English; thus their other children could be registered at the same school. Why, we have lived through this in Quebec, and even the Quebec government at the time accepted that families not be divided.
Senator Tremblay: Fine.
Mr. Sciascia: That is precisely why we have added this third paragraph.
Senator Tremblay: I notice in the answer you have just given me that your intention in maintaining the criterion of the first language learned and still understood is to take into account the French minorities outside Quebec and the English minority in Quebec.
Mr. Sciascia: That is right.
Senator Tremblay: I think, Mr. Chairman, that one must underline the concern of one minority group towards other minority groups and I would like to thank our witnesses for the answers they have given me.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you very much, Senator Tremblay.
The honourable Bryce Mackasey.
Mr. Mackasey: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I just wanted to say that anybody who has heard Miss Desantis in full flight at the Paul Sauvé Arena prior to the referendum would have no doubts at all that she is very much a Canadian and a Quebecker.
I think I share her view that you can be both a Canadian and a Quebecker, I think this is very much the feeling of the Italians in the Province of Quebec, or Canadians of Italian origin who reside in Quebec, that they have no problem in being very strong Canadians at the same time as strong Quebeckers, and I do share with Mrs. Desantis some concern that at times we feel reluctant or inhibited in speaking out even with emotion or passion, even in this place, that we are Canadians. I find myself sometimes unintentionally apologizing for suggesting that I am a Canadian and have been for a long time resident of Quebec, now in Ontario, but very much a Canadian.
I just want to say before I ask you a question or two that there is emerging in this country a Canadian culture, a Canadian identity, a Canadian nationality which is not as apparent as it will be in five or ten years, but I have often thought when I go out West, for instance, that the youngsters coming out of university in the West, perhaps the first generation in the west where their ties to the future in Canada are greater than their ties to their family or country of origin, such that we will be, if we have time to survive, will be a great Canadian culture reflecting everybody’s culture, not just the English and the French but the Irish and Italian as well. I happen to think that the nucleus of that movement to unhyphenated Canadianism, if you like, will come from the West, because they, Mrs. Desantis quite appropriately reminded us, selected this country, it was not an accident of birth that you are here.
When we get into Section 23 is it at the best an agonizing approach to I think a broader principle that I wish we could endorse and that is the right of all Canadians to be educated in either of the two official languages in this country, that would be beautiful, and you were right when you say this is a political compromise but this is what the country is all about, compromise. Put a little water in our wine, comme on dit en français si vous voulez.
What really Section 23 is doing Mrs. Desantis, really reflecting what at one time or another in our history, recent history I may add, of provincial premiers have agreed to. Section 23 is in essence a reflection of the agreement reached by the ten premiers in New Brunswick and repeated in Montreal in I think 1978 and 1979, and whether you quarrel or not with the philosophy behind the charter, it is at the best or the worst an attempt by the government, by the Committee, by Parliament is a better way of putting it, to break the log jam, the impasse, make it possible for us to reach in the next decade a type of idealistic, practical, visionary document that you and I feel should include a preamble, should have a preamble. Our problem is that the Government is not to impose on the provinces certain features if you like, conditions if you like, before the people of that province are rightly or wrongly willing to accept that change, and it is I think one of the reasons why you get in some parts of the country a willingness of people to learn the other official language, be it French of English, in the west we will say French. In a greater degree than to which they are prepared, however, to accept the legal indoctrination of it, and I know that I am not asking you a question, so coming back to Section 23: is it not conceivable that the provinces, reflecting the problem of. say, the Italian community or any other community, can broaden the scope of Section 23? There is nothing in this constitution which restricts the provinces to so fashion their educational system to do more than reflect this minimum. Do you agree?
Mr. Sciascia: Yes, we agree with that.
But, on the other hand, we cannot leave it to the exclusive discretion of one province to decide important matters such as linguistic rights. We have seen what has happened in the past in that field. That is why we are, at this point, precisely suggesting that some guidelines be given in this constitution.
We do underline bilingualism; that we do give the opportunity to our children or at least have the possibility to learn the two languages.
We understand it might have been what the premiers agreed upon as it now stands—Section 23; but we cannot agree with something which is even worse than what we already have.
Mr. Mackasey: I do not want you to think that I do not want to take into consideration your amendment, Senator Rizzuto’s amendment or any other amendment.
But I am simply saying that you have recognized, in your own brief, that freedom of choice is not acceptable at this point in Quebec’s history. If you are not going to have freedom of choice. then there must be some formula which restricts it. It is not some token freedom of choice. It is that elusive formula which has evaded Mr. Levesque, Mr. Bourassa and Mr. Bertrand, and will evade future premiers, because the utopian ideal should be freedom of choice.
But you have raised a question that children going to English speaking schools now do come out fairly bilingual. Is that also true of the French education at the moment?
Mr. Sciascia: No, it is not.
It is not true of the French sector of education. Our children do not come out of that sector bilingual.
I think this is a point we have already made when we submitted our brief to Bill 101. We underlined the point that we felt the French educational system did not offer any guarantees that our children would come out of school bilingual; while, on the other hand, the English system does provide—and it is even obligatory by law that the students coming out of the system must speak French.
Mr. Mackasey: I have one more observation and one more question. In other words, it is possible that in 10 or 20 years time the English Canadian will come out of his school bilingual, but people coming out of the French system, including the French speaking Canadians will come out unilingual, so that they will suffer the economic consequences accordingly.
The only question I would like to ask you is this. You use the words [Translation] Citizens of Canada whose first language learned . . .
You do not speak at all of permanents residents, immigrants who are not yet Canadian citizens. You seem to forget them completely in your brief.
Am I right about that?
Mr. Sciascia: That is exact. It now takes three years to become a Canadian citizen.
Mr. Mackasey: It used to be five, new it is three.
Mr. Sciascia: Yes.
Mr. Mackasey: What you would recommend for these would be citizens or immigrants who have arrived here, using whatever terminology you like—permanent residents, as we sometimes refer to them? What do you recommend for them?
Mr. Sciascia: Well, I believe as matters stand now, they are subject to the provincial legislation on linguistic educational rights. But as they become Canadian citizens, then these provisions would apply to them.
Mr. Mackasey: Thank you very much.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Mackasey.
Mr. Lapierre: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Madam, gentlemen, I would like to tell you that the generosity, understanding, and feeling of tolerance contained in your brief greatly impressed me. Like Senator Tremblay, I was pleasantly surprised by the paragraph on page 10 in which you say unequivocally that you wish to participate fully in the French dimension of life in Quebec. This is truly most refreshing after having heard many minority groups, and I do not like that expression, from other provinces. Your high-mindedness does not exist everywhere.
I would like to look at the contents of your brief, particularly as regards the preamble. I think that my colleague Mr. Mackasey explained very clearly our present situation and the difficulties we are encountering in our attempts to write a preamble into the new constitution. Like him, I hoped we would have one, but I do not think it would be very realistic to include one for the time being. This does not, however, prevent us from doing so in future with all the generosity, passion, and emotion, which you have shown.
I would like to deal specifically with Section 23 and the provisions suggested by Senator Rizutto. Of course, our colleague Carlo Rossi worked very hard as well to convince our colleagues and all the members of the Committee of the wisdom of this amendment, and I would even be prepared to say that they were most successful as far as I was concerned. Your presentation today has provided us with additional arguments to help us understand that amendment and, I hope, to accept it. The philosophy of protecting vested rights is very wise. I also recognize Senator Rizutto’s high-mindedness in wishing to unify families. I do not think any member of this Committee would want to accept a section with a potentially disunifying effect; I feel that this amendment fits into our objectives very well.
The part I have trouble grasping is related to bilingualism. You know, there are always people who think that we want to force French or English “down their throats”, as they say. In fact, federal policy never really intended to make Canada a country where every citizen would be bilingual, but rather a country whose institutions would be bilingual.
The statements and vision of the Prime Minister were under discussion. I do not think we ever went that far. It may be a dream or an ideal, but I do not think at the present time that there has ever been any question of creating a country where every citizen would be bilingual, although I do find your suggestions fairly interesting.
Several groups have asked us to entrench the multicultural character of Canada, but I would like to have your suggestions since Section 22 mentions that multicultural character, although I would say, it is in a negative way.
Have you had the time to consider Section 22 of Section 15 and to prepare an amendment? I do not know in what paragraph you want to have that multicultural character entrenched, but did you prepare a text towards that end?
Mr. Sciascia: No. As I said at the beginning, and I apologize once again, we have been totally involved for the last two weeks in collecting funds for the tragedy in Southern Italy; believe me, it was sufficiently hard to prepare the document we presented to you today, but we felt it was important.
As for your question, the answer is no; we have not prepared anything specific on that issue. We did not have time to consider the problem.
Mr. Lapierre: In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, I would like to repeat once again that we are very proud to be compatriots of these witnesses, and that their presentation today is of great value.
The Joint Chairman (Senator Hays): Thank you very much, Mr. Lapierre.
It is my privilege and honour to thank the National Congress of Italian Canadians, the Quebec region, this afternoon.
To you, Miss Desantis, and Mr. Molina, we are honoured that you are here.
I my city of Calgary—we would not have a city of your people did not built it. I happen to have lived there all my life. They built the city. They are now friends of ours and they are intermarried and are all great Canadians, and you have proven that his afternoon.
We thank you very, very much for your brief.
Miss Desantis: Thank you.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Order, please.
May I ask the honourable members of the Committee to get back to their seats so that we can proceed.
Yesterday afternoon, at the beginning of the meeting, we agreed to reserve this time period to debate about the progress of our hearings at this stage.
I understand there have been discussions within the agenda and procedures committee as well as among the representatives of the different parties and I would now like to call on the honourable Senator Austin to summarize our hearings.
Senator Roblin: A point of order, Mr. Joint Chairman before proceeding.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): A point of order, Senator Roblin.
Senator Roblin: I am concerned because so far I have not received any information as to what we will be doing for the rest of this week. I wonder whether it is possible to give this Committee some guidance in that direction.
While on that subject, may I say how remarkable I find it that we are unable to be provided with an agenda to govern our procedure in a more orderly manner.
Somebody has just handed me something, so I will have a look at this.
But I would like to record my concern that we do not seem to have our agenda organized in a more logical way than we have been doing at the present time. It has been a fact of life all during the course of the hearings and I have reached a point where I am ready complain about it.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Senator Roblin. I have been handed the future agenda with respect to our work tomorrow. As you will see on the copy which has
been handed to you, for next week. So part of your criticism and; remarks have been answered.
I have tried to get information earlier this week about the schedule of our work for tomorrow and Friday.
You will notice on your document the date of December 10, 4 o’clock. It is the last one that was handed to me. But I take notice of your point.
Senator Roblin: Thank you, Mr. Joint Chairman, for your consideration, because I feel you are providing excellent leadership to this Committee; but it seems to me that if members are to prepare themselves for the work they have to do, then they should know who is coming so that at least they would have the opportunity of glancing through the briefs before they actually hear it from the witnesses themselves.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): You are absolutely right, and I think with the information contained in this document every member will be in a position to prepare himself and come to the Committee with as much information as is necessary to be effective in our debate.
Thank you very much.
The honourable Senator Austin.
Senator Austin: Thank you, Mr. Joint Chairman.
The committee asks the steering committee to deal with the question of the calendar and questions relative to witnesses.
The steering committee has met. It met yesterday. Subsequent to our meeting yesterday, the Traffic Committee of Messrs. Epp, Nystrom and myself have met.
The procedure which I would suggest to be followed should be that we deal, first of all, with the question of the calendar; then having disposed of that, I would put a motion with respect to individual witnesses.
If I may, I would then proceed to move a resolution from this side. I want to make it clear it is not an agreed motion of the Traffic Committee, but only a motion which I am putting from this side for debate by the Committee. I have copies of the motion here. If the clerk would please circulate the copies to the other side of the table, then that would be before honourable members.
Mr. Epp: A point of procedure before Senator Austin begins.
Senator Austin will recall that we did discuss in the Traffic Committee the matter of expert witnesses. He was kind enough to show us a draft copy of a resolution which he was considering, and I think that is the correct word.
If that is the same one, then I would suggest to him, if it is acceptable to him, that when has done the calendar if he would also then move the motion on expert witnesses, because in terms of presentation, it would probably be best if he were to take the whole thing as one package, if that is acceptable,
Senator Austin: Yes, it certainly is. The motion is as follows—I believe copies are being circulated to the Committee: I move that the Committee receive applications for the appear-
ance of witnesses until December 17, 1980, and receive briefs in writing until December 31, 1980;
That the Committee not sit in the period beginning December 20, 1980 and ending January 4, 1981 but shall sit on Friday December 19, 1980 from 9:30 am. to 11 o’clock and from 2 o’clock to 4 o’clock and resume sittings on January 5, 1981 at 8 o’clock.
That the Committee complete its hearing of witnesses not later than January 9, 1981 except that leave may be given in special cases;
That the Committee consider the proposed Addresse to Her Majesty the Queen referred to this Committee on a clause-by-clause basis, indluding any proposed amendments thereto, commencing no latter than January 12, 1981;
That the Committee complete its report to the Senate and the House of Commons no later that February 5, 1981;
That the Committee agree to receive a maximum of five individual witnesses, two to be selected by the government members of the Committee, two to be selected by the Official Opposition members of the Committee, and one to be selected by the New Democratic Party.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): This is an addition, and I understand copies will be provided to honourable members of this Committee.
Senator Austin: It is very short and will be photocopied and circulated.
Mr. Nystrom: On a point of order, Mr. Joint Chairman.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Nystrom, on a point of order.
Mr. Nystrom: Mr. Joint Chairman, just on a point of order, I think something may be over-looked by Senator Austin. It is that if we are going to agree to come back here on January 5, and if the House is not in session, we also agreed that the Traffic Committee would sit irregular hours during that week; in other words, we will sit at 9.30 in the morning to 12.30 pm.; the understanding was 2:30 to 5:30, and from 8 o’clock to 10 o’clock on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and of course, Monday evening.
I cannot remember what we agreed to on the Friday. My recollection may not be that accurate; but it seems to me that we had agreed to different hours if the House was not in session; that was only, of course, to hear more witnesses.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Nystrom.
Senator Austin: On the question raised by Mr. Nystrom, we discussed two versions of our sittings during that week; but I am amenable to using our regular hours for that week, which have been established now, or, indeed, Mr. Nystrom, enhancing our sitting hours on the Monday and the Friday if that should be your suggestion.
Mr. Nystrom: Mr. Chairman, to comment on the motion before you, I would say that its purpose is designed to expidite the business of the Committee. I would hope that in terms of
paragraph 1, the fact that we are willing to receive application for the appearances of witnesses until December 17 and to receive briefs in writting until December 31, can act as an operating instruction to our staff and also would be giving some publicity through the media, so that if there are people who would come forward, if they could come forward, they will be aware and we will include them as if they had come forward under the previous advertising.
With respect to the hearing of witnesses, it is suggested that we hear witnesses until and including January 9. There may be special cases—and what I have in mind in this circumstance, relates, of course, to the interests of provincial Premiers in coming later than January 9. We would want to receive them at any time they wish to come forward. There may be other special circumstances—witnesses that are of probity and relevance that we might want to hear and we can consider that leave at that particular time.
With that comment, Mr. Chairman, I would suggest that the motion be considered by the Committee.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Senator Austin. The honourable Jake Epp.
Mr. Epp: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Just to inform Committee members as to the procedure that I intend to take, I will be first of all giving my thoughts on the proposition before us and I will be moving amendments, and just to facilitate the work of the Committee and the Committee members can prepare themselves, those amendments will be distributed at that time and they will be in terms of form along the lines of the proposal made by Senator Austin to facilitate the work of the Committee.
Mr. Chairman, I think it has become evident that it is important that this Committee organize its work. It has been stumbling along, I would suggest, for at least one week, in terms of witnesses that have been called, even after the extension of the date. They have been given very short notice, and including the list that we see before us today for the next two days as well as into next week, that this Committee has a problem in terms of organizing its work and we are concerned about that.
One of the problems has been that the government, first of all, was not going to give any extension of the date. People had then been given the information that they would not be able to appear before the Committee, and then when they were asked to appear after the extension, confusion took place with many of the witnesses who in fact had said they wanted to appear in the first place.
Now, what has been the situation in this Committee? Mr. Chairman, in every case we have had to make a very strong presentation to change the government members’ minds. In every case the initial answer was: no; and it was a loud and universal no. They were reversed on television and radio broadcasting by the House and by the public pressure that developed. They were reversed on the question of December 9, when editorial comment and publicity was such that the December 9 deadline not only was arbitrary but was the height
of irresponsibility on the part of the government and its members to even suggest it, much less to maintain it.
Then again when resolutions were put before this Committee, members again said no. They repeated those nos time after time. and what has happened is that they were reversed again.
So in each and every case the initial reaction was negative and so we face that juncture today again on a question of witnesses and specifically expert witnesses.
However, even before that comes to the fore, Mr. Chairman, in this Committee, why was the Committee’s time extended in the first place? It was finally extended, as I said earlier, because of public pressure and because of the Official Opposition and only because of the Official Opposition putting forward a very strong case. So it was extended to February 6. and so the question for Committee members is: how best do we use the time between now and February 6? Let no one have any other question in mind but this one, that the time was extended for one primary purpose, and that purpose was to allow Canadians to be heard on their own constitution. That was the purpose and had that purpose not been there and had we not had literally a raft of Canadians who had presented written briefs and who had put their names forward to be heard before this Committee, I have no illusions that the date would not have been extended. In other words, the date would not have been extended at all, at least not to February 6, if all that the Committee was facing was clause by clause study and the writing of its report.
So let me repeat, Mr. Chairman. It was the pressure of Canadians who felt they had the right to be heard on their constitution that extended the date of this Committee. Therefore, if that is the case, Mr. Chairman, then it should now be our responsibility as Committee members to make every effort to accommodate those Canadians, and when I take a look, with all respect, at Senator Austin’s motion, and I am not trying to be personal, but I am looking specifically at the motion, the motion again does not give Canadians that opportunity. In fact, it seems to constrict as much as is possible, as much as is politically possible any attempt to hear Canadians.
Now, what has happened? The dates that we have before us, if you take a look at them, Mr. Chairman, put a very strong limit on any Canadians that can be heard. There is some time, and I concede that, for Canadians but it is not nearly sufficient.
The life of the Committee was extended by roughly two months, from December 9 to February 6. Committee members will remember that we had a deadline which we did not agree to but which was imposed on us by the Liberal members, that November 25, that date, would be the closing date for witnesses applying to be heard as well as the end of the period where written briefs would be accepted. That was November 25, therefore if we extend the deadline of the Committee by roughly two months, by House order, then I would suggest to honourable members opposite that we should also extend the
period where witnesses can be heard by the same amount of time, namely two months, and I will be proposing later, Mr. Chairman, that we extend the period of time where witnesses can be heard to January 25, and I will do that in the form of an amendment at that period of time. The position that Senator Austin has put forward would give Canadians approximately a three-week extension and yet the Committee’s life has been extended by two months and I do not think that we should deprive Canadians of those five weeks of hearings which they would have had proportionately had we stuck with the December 9 date.
Secondly, Mr. Chairman, is the question that is the central one in this Committee today and that is the question of expert witnesses. One has to ask the question: why have expert witnesses suddenly become persona non grata in front of a Parliamentary Joint Committee? To my knowledge, my experience on the Hill, that has not happened before, where a committee has pointedly said: we do not want to hear expert witnesses, that is witnesses with an acknowledged expertise on the subject before the committee.
Now, I will concede that the Senator has in his motion at least opened the door and allowed the big toe to enter and he says there will be some expert witnesses, and I will get to that in a minute, but I want to say to him immediately that his proposal is not acceptable to this side of the House.
Now, the only reason, I conclude, that the Liberals do not want to hear expert witnesses is that they do not want to hear their testimony, they do not want to hear what they have to say. Now, what has happened? It has been interesting, Mr. Chairman, that since Thursday night, October 2, when the Prime Minister made his television address, and I think most of us would have conceded that night his plan seemed eminently sensible to most Canadians and that it enjoyed wide popularity. From that period on the Prime Minister has always insisted that the only opposition he has received has been, first of all, from the Premiers and the provinces, and he has painted the Premiers as almost being less than Canadian, as wanting to Balkanize the country, and words to that effect, and, Mr. Chairman, if I wanted to I could give you some other phrases that have been used to describe the Premiers who saw their responsibility as being one where we have a federal system, where we have two orders of government, and each have their responsibility. So I do not believe that those comments of the Prime Minister, that the opposition was coming from the Premiers and the provinces, that in any way that served the unity of Canada.
However, that was one area of opposition which he said he had and that he had the larger national vision and the Premiers had the narrow, provincial, parochial view. Not so.
Secondly, his opposition, he said, came from the Official Opposition, and that it only came from the Official Opposition and he has made a fair amount of mileage, I guess one could say, in saying that he had widespread support in the House as well because of the support of the New Democratic Party for the plan, and that because the New Democratic Party enjoys support in Western Canada, and specifically in the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, that he was
able to move forward because of that support in the House; but he kept on saying at all times, Mr. Chairman, that that opposition was secondary. It was secondary because he had the people with him, and that the people of Canada supported his view of the country and supported his proposition and supported the process.
Well, Mr. Chairman, let us look at that support, because that has been the one line of defence the Prime Minister and his supporters have been using. Well, I guess I could read from almost every daily newspaper in Canada today but I will confine myself to the Montreal Gazette. There are other papers whose political leanings have been such that either the article I will read has been varied, or, in other cases, put forward in the full light of day and I will let the members of the Committee judge which those papers are. However, in an article appearing in the Montreal Gazette, it is entitled Majority Opposes Constitution Plans. The Gallup poll, a poll which I understand the Minister of Justice today has put a little less weight on than he has been in the habit of doing earlier, but this poll has some interesting facts and what it is, Mr. Chairman, is this, that the Prime Minister who said that he had the people supporting him, that support has gone now, too, and what they oppose is the method, the unilateral method.
There is agreement, Mr. Chairman, across Canada on the question of patriation and I hope there is agreement that whatever amending formula will be accepted, that the amending formula will entrench the principle that the provinces are equal partners and therefore Canadians, living in whatever province, are equal partners of the federation, but that is where I would suggest, Mr. Chairman, the approach already breaks down as far as the Prime Minister is concerned.
Now, the question that Gallup asked is the following, and I quote:
As you may know, the federal government and the provincial governments have disagreed on an amending formula for patriating the Canadian constitution. The federal government has announced that it will move unilaterally on its own to bring the constitution to Canada with an amending formula. Over-all would you say you approve or disapprove of the federal government acting on its own and without the unanimous approval of all the provinces to bring the amended constitution home?
That was the question placed before Canadians. Mr. Chairman, what were the results?
Well, first of all when one takes a look at the regions, in the Atlantic Region l8 per cent of Canadians approved of the Prime Ministers method; 58 per cent disapprove; 23 per cent had a qualified answer or did not know or did not answer.
In the Province of Quebec, where we have 74 silent Quebec Liberal MPs, what is the story there? Well, 28 per cent approved; 55 per cent disapproved; 17 per cent qualified or did not know.
In the Province of Ontario was the highest rating for the Prime Minister’s package, 35 per cent approval rating; 52 per cent disapproved. 52 per cent, Mr. Chairman, disapproved.
An hon. Member: Hear that, Mr. Mackasey?
Mr. Epp: Thirteen per cent, a very low figure did not know, or felt they were not qualified to answer. On the prairies, we keep on hearing the Minister of Unemployment and Immigration saying, “Do not listen to the Premiers. Do not listen to the members. Listen to me because I know what the prairies are saying.” Well, what are the prairies saying? Well, 18 per cent approved. Eighteen per cent. Seventy-two per cent disapproved; four to one disapprove. Ten per cent felt either they were not qualified or did not know.
British Columbia, where the NDP hold 12 seats, 21 per cent said the approved on the program of the Prime Minister supported by the New Democratic Party, 21 per cent. Sixty-one per cent said they disapproved; 18 per cent again not qualified or did not know. What of the importance of the regional breakdowns, Mr. Chairman? It is not a phenomenon in Western Canada. It is not a phenomenon in Atlantic Canada, It is a phenomenon in every region of the country, that the majority of Canadians disapprove of the Prime Minister’s package and what they feel the package is doing is further dividing Canadians. That is what it is doing.
The national figures: 27 per cent across the country approve of the Prime Minister’s package; 58 per cent disapprove and again 15 per cent did not know or were not qualified in their minds to question.
Now, Mr. Chairman, where is the Prime Minister’s comment that the people are with him? There are other polls, Mr. Chairman, that I could cite but I think the point has been made. In each case—by the way, Mr. Chairman, maybe this is a good point to raise it—there are three polls that the Minister of Justice is still holding back.
An hon. Member: He does not agree with the polls.
Mr. Epp: Three polls which were paid by the Canadian people, three polls on this question, the very question this Committee is to address.
An hon. Member: Which the Liberals voted to suppress.
Mr. Epp: Where are the polls? Or is the information similar, Mr. Chairman? And that is that the information had been gathered in the last I0 days, that they would have seen the slide as well moving in the direction that the Gallup new reports. Mr. Chairman, you do not have to ask the question, “Why are they afraid?” The answer is rather obvious why they are afraid.
An hon. Member: Michael Kirby was right.
Mr. Epp: Yes, Michael Kirby was right; they should not have used closure.
Mr. McGrath: Get it out of the Committee quick.
Mr. Epp: Now, what is the situation that we have in this Committee? When one reads the reference that gave birth to this Committee, here is the reference:
That a Special Joint Committee of the Senate and the House of Commons be appointed
To do what?
to consider and report upon the document entitled Proposed Resolution for a Joint Address to Her Majesty the Queen respecting the Constitution of Canada published by the government October 2, 1980 and to recommend in their report whether or not such an address with such amendments as the Committee considers necessary should be presented by both Houses of Parliament to Her Majesty the Queen.
There is the reference. The operative words:
to recommend in their report whether or not such an address with such amendments as the Committee considers necessary should be presented
Now, we get, Mr. Chairman, the Catch 22 situation. The minute we ask for expert witnesses, we are told, “That is a legal question,” and that this Committee cannot answer that question. In fact, Mr. Irwin likes to use the words, that we are sub judice, that somehow this Committee…
Mr. Irwin: On a point of order. ..
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Irwin.
Mr. Irwin: The only latin words I know are nilla bona, Mr. Chairman. I never heard of sub judice.
Mr. Epp: I am glad I woke Mr. Irwin up. Welcome to the crowd.
Mr. McGrath: That is in keeping with most of his interventions.
Mr. Epp: So, what I am saying, Mr. Chairman, is this very Committee, by an Order of the House, by an Order of the Senate, is to answer that question. We now hear being said, “This Committee cannot answer that. That is a legal question. That is before the courts. We cannot answer that.” Well, if that is the case, Mr. Chairman, then the question has to be asked and answered, “What is the Committee doing here?” Because surely, on December 4, when the Manitoba Court of Appeal began its hearings, at that moment, the Committee should have suspended its hearings here and waited until such a time as a legal ruling was given. If that is not possible, and I do not suggest it is possible or that Liberal members would agree to that, then let us not use the argument that it is a legal question and that the Committee cannot fulfil its terms of reference. Or we should go back to the House and to the Senate and ask for a changed reference. I want to say that to members. We cannot answer that question in our own minds and I suggest they cannot either answer that question without the legal advice that we seek.
The provinces of the country, Mr. Chairman, who are appearing before the Manitoba Court of Appeal have found
the best legal advice that they could. But not only the provinces, the Government of Canada intervened and they brought forward the best legal advice that they could find. Not only that, there are departments right now studying just certain sections of the proposed resolution with all kinds of legal help.
Mr. McGrath: The British parliamentary Committee has expert witnesses.
Mr. Epp: The British parliamentary Committee has expert witnesses but, no, this Committee, we have to control what is being said. What has happened in Canada that we suddenly have to control what is being said by Canadians?
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear.
Mr. Epp: What has happened, that a parliamentary Committee will deign upon itself that before a witness appears, we want to know what that witness will say, so we can get a balanced view. Some for, some against, but we have to make sure we have a balanced view. If Canadians want to speak on their constitution, let them speak, unfettered.
Well, Mr. Chairman, what else can one say about expert witnesses? Bill C-60, the other attempt by the Prime Minister to have constitutional change over the heads of the provinces, the Supreme Court ruled was not possible in its December 1979 ruling. Eleven expert witnesses were called before that Committee and at that time, government members either thought expert witnesses would help them or they felt from the spirit of parliamentary government, freedom of information, expert witnesses should be heard. Suddenly something has changed Well, I always like to go to good references, Mr. Chairman, because I always think that strengthens my case. I would like to read from the Committee Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence of the Special Joint Committee of the Senate and the House of Commons on the Constitution of Canada, Issue number 12, page 12:90, the honourable Bryce Mackasey. I want to say to Mr. Mackasey I always like to go to the top.
At that time, Mr. Chairman, we were…
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Epp, I will tell you something. You provoked the lion because he is in a cage, but I will open the door later on.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Chairman, we have found that the only way we can get the lion to move is to pull his tail.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Go on, Mr. Epp.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Chairman, at that time, we were discussing the expert witnesses. I was asking for expert witnesses and Mr. Mackasey said the following:
I might surprise my good friend Mr. Epp by saying that I do believe that it is important and imperative that we hear
some witnesses that can discuss the appropriateness of the procedure we are following. I pick my words carefully because I am aware of the fact that the constitutionality of what we are doing in this Committee is already before the courts, and I do not think that Mr. Epp would suggest that we instruct learned judges, including those that are retired, Mr. Clyne, as to what is appropriate and what is not appropriate.
Nevertheless, having said that, I do think we would want to include in the witnesses appearing here some witnesses that have that particular expertise, not necessarily to discuss the constitutionality, but at least to point out the error of our ways as they see it, so I have no objection, speaking for this party, to give due weight and consideration to Mr. Epp’s observation that so far the witnesses, excellent as they have been, all of whom have agreed on entrenchment and virtually all of whom have agreed on the method we are using; nevertheless, I think, Mr. Chairman, there should be some so-called experts.
Now, Mr. Chairman, I know Mr. Mackasey and others could say, “Well, 5 fulfills that bill,” but I think in all seriousness neither Mr. Mackasey or Senator Austin would agree that that in fact fulfills the bill in any way, shape or form, because when one takes a look at the list, I do not intend to read this whole list, Mr. Chairman, I know you, I would be exercising your patience to the fullest and I do not intend to do that,
But I do want to say that we have a list before us, a long list of expert witnesses, of Canadians who are recognized in their field, of Canadians who have expertise in international law, in constitutional law, years of experience. It is not for me to judge whether they will support our viewpoint or not. It is not for me to determine which words they should express or which words they should not express, nor, Mr. Chairman, would I suggest is it for the Committee and so there are names, I can repeat them. I do not intend to, today. I had made a list, considering doing that. I will not. You will recall I had a motion at one time where I had 14 names. Canadians of impeccable standards and expertise, I do not think I was criticised for the 14 individuals but rather the subject matter of the expert witnesses.
That being the case, Mr. Chairman, if this Committee is to be taken seriously by Canadians, if Canadians are to be heard, if Canadians are to have the opportunity to see in the full light of day what the pros and cons of the Prime Minister’s approach are and if the Committee is to report on its terms of reference on whether or not the Parliament of Canada and the Senate of Canada should proceed then I think certain changes have to be made in the proposal put forward by Senator Austin.
I would ask that these amendments be circulated and before you do that, Mr. Chairman, I regret that they are not in both official languages. They had to be redrafted to some degree
because of the new motion that the Senator put before us. If there are any changes from the old copy that I worked at and the new copy, I would ask for the indulgence of the Committee, but I will take the Committee through these amendments at this time.
Mr. Chairman, I will be working off the copy of Senator Austin.
Paragraph 1, delete the words “December 17, 1980” and replace them with the words “December 31, 1980.” The effect of that would be that witnesses would have an opportunity to apply to appear before this Committee to the end of December 31, the end of this year, the same date that has been agreed to to accept written briefs. I do not think that the date of December 17 is adequate. That is only one week from today. It is on that basis that I move December 31.
Secondly, a new paragraph 2, and my amendment would read: that the Committee advertise in Canadian newspapers that dates for receipt of written briefs and applications for witnesses to appear before the Committee is December 31, 1980. Mr. Chairman, in the Committee we discussed not only the reopening of the date but that Canadians should be informed, At that time it was suggested that Canadians could be informed through the good offices of the press, and while many of us have great confidence in the Canadian press and the press representatives here, I still think the Committee should do it officially.
Then the old paragraph number 2, no changes.
Old paragraph number 3, change the date “January 9, 1981” to “January 25, 1981.” Again the reason being, as I said earlier, that the Committee extended its life by roughly two months and therefore I believe we should extend the period of time that witnesses can be heard by the same amount of time.
Then a new paragraph 5, this would be the new numbering, and this then takes us to expert witnesses, and I have tried to be as charitable as I can, and so my amendment reads: that the Committee agree to receive individual witnesses, to be selected and scheduled by the Subcommittee, If you take a look at Senator Austin’s motion, what I have done in effect is remove the numerical conditions that Senator Austin had in his motion.
Lastly, Mr. Joint Chairman, the old paragraph 4, the date of January 12, 1981 be deleted and changed to January 26, 1981, which is a Monday.
Mr. Joint Chairman, these are my amendments. I have given you the reasons why I believe the Committee would function better. I believe Canadians would have an opportunity to be heard. I believe as Committee members we would have an opportunity to have evidence which we would need to complete our work and to report adequately to the House and to the Senate.
Thank you, Mr. Joint Chairman.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Epp.
Before recognizing the honourable Bryce Mackasey, I think it would be in order to recognize Mr. Nystrom so that we have a tour around the table so as to give us an idea as to the position of each party.
Mr. Nystrom: Thank you very much, Mr. Joint Chairman.
I wanted to make a number of comments. I will try to be fairly brief.
I want to refrain from commenting on a number of things which were stated by Mr. Epp. Like Mr. Epp, I am a strong believer in co-operative federalism. There are a number of things I have said in the past, publicly, and I would like to say again in the future about the importance of the two orders of government working together in a co-operative spirit in this country. I believe that is very important.
I believe, looking at the resolution to save time, that we will have a chance to discuss that when discussing the preamble to the resolution. I notice, for example, on the first page we are talking and I quote:
Whereas in the past certain amendments to the Constitution of Canada have been made by the Parliament of the United Kingdom at the request and with the consent of Canada;
I am sure when we discuss that kind of wording in the preamble, we will be discussing whether or not we are sticking to that precedent.
We will also be discussing on page 8 of the resolution before us, whether or not in Section 29(1)(b), the charter of rights should unilaterally apply I quote:
(b) to the legislature and government of each province and to all matters within the authority of the legislature of each province.
We will also be discussing, Mr. Joint Chairman, the amending formula in Section 41 and Section 42.
I will resist the temptation to dwell at length about what I think is very important, co-operative federalism in this country at this time, on the understanding that we will be dealing with that a little bit later.
Now, to talk about the specific motion that Senator Austin has put before us today, I would like to say that we, in our party, put considerable pressure on the government, with the Canadian people, with public opinion, to extend the Committee deadline by two months. We moved an amendment to extend it to February 10. After a while, in their wisdom, the government members opposite decided to cave in to this very reasonable request made by the opposition parties.
We did that for two reasons. Mr. Epp has suggested one of the reasons. The first reason, as Mr. Epp has said, is that Canadians have a right to be heard. I believe it is very important that Canadians have the right to be heard. After all, it is not a politicians constitution; it is not a constitution of 11 men, the Premiers and the Prime Minister; it is a constitution of the people of Canada.
I believe the people of Canada should be involved as much as possible in building our constitution, one for the people of this country.
But the second point I would like to emphasise—and it has not been made by Mr. Epp—is not only do the people of Canada have the right to be heard, but I would suggest to you, Mr. Joint Chairman, that the people of Canada have the right to be listened to.
Now, I believe that we need at least three weeks in this Committee to listen to the people of Canada—and they have told us many things; to listen to the people of Canada by studying this resolution article by article. We have over 50 different sections in this resolution.
Now, I think we owe it to our witnesses out of courtesy, to study the advice they have given to us, to try to make some changes in the resolution, to try to build a consensus, so that we can come out of this with a constitution which is good for all Canada, one which would stand the test of time, that will heal Canadians and bring them together. I do not know if that is possible, but I want to test the government across the way; I want to test their mettle; I want to test Mr. Mackasey; I want to test Senator Austin; 1 want to test the Prime Minister—to see whether or not they are serious about making really serious changes in the resolution that is before us so that we can have a consensus which is agreed to by the provinces, by the federal government and by the people of this country. For that we need time, time not just to hear witnesses, but to listen to them so that we can study the resolution clause by clause, so that we can put a series of amendments—and we have a lot of amendments in this party that we would like to move, and it is going to take a lot of time.
Mr. Joint Chairman, there are no magical answers to some of these sections such as Section 23 on linguistic rights and education.
I have a hunch that there are about 25 views around this table as to the best way of approaching that particular question. It is not going to be easy, and we need that time.
We owe it to our witnesses to listen to them and to put a lot of time into very serious study.
The document before us is very flawed, and for that reason we need time to study it, to build a consensus, to write a report that we are going to send back to the House of Commons.
I would like to comment also on one or two other aspects of the resolution which is before us. I think we are going to be sitting at reasonable times in terms of the Christmas break. I think we, in all three parties, agreed to that. I think we, in all three parties. agreed to the fact that we should be receiving written briefs until December 31.
There is, Mr. Joint Chairman, some disagreement on the last date for notification of witnesses wishing to appear before this Committee.
I want to say that I would suggest that, on behalf of all parties, the date be December 20. Mr. Austin is suggesting December 17. I think that is a fair compromise. I will not quibble over three or four days.
The other point I want to make is that we have to take a serious look at the whole question of expert witnesses.
Now, I have moved a motion in this Committee a few weeks ago, following a motion made by Mr. Epp, when he referred to the fact that he had listed 14 people that he wanted to bring before the Committee as experts.
I had moved a motion that we should not list I4 names, but that we call at least 10 people before this Committee.
Now, Mr. Mackasey at that time objected, but he did not object, as Mr. Epp said, to witnesses; he thought we should have witnesses appear before the committee.
We took his advice. I deleted all reference to a number, and suggested that we simply call expert witnesses before the Committee; and that motion was supported by all members of the Conservative Party.
So I think, Mr. Joint Chairman, that we, again, have a pretty fair compromise. The government could have called our bluff at that time or could have taken us to task at that time and could have said, “Well, you have moved a motion for expert witnesses, and you are talking in the plural and that could be two or three, goodness knows how many.”
We now have a motion on the floor that we should hear at least five. One of the concerns when it comes to expert witnesses is that there has to be a balance. All of us have points we would like to pursue. I think there is a balance here, We are looking at two being selected by the government party, two by the Official Opposition and one by our party.
In principle, as I have said two weeks ago, I would like to hear more expert witnesses. I think most of us on this Committee would like to hear more witnesses. I would like also to persuade the government to hear more. This is a motion they have made. It is better than what they could have presented, and for that reason we would support it, because we must not forget we have a February 6 deadline, in view of the importance we place in our party to moving amendments, studying amendments, studying the resolution clause by clause.
I would like to move one small amendment, which I hope members will take seriously, and it concerns the third paragraph of the resolution presented by Mr. Austin. He said:
That the Committee complete its hearing of witnesses not later than January 9, 1981 except that leave may be given in special cases;
To hear other witnesses after that date.
What I wanted to do was to give a bit more direction to the steering committee as to really what we want. I would change the wording to the following—and I have passed around a few copies of the amendment:
That the Committee complete its hearing of witnesses not later than January 9, except that leave may be given to hear further witnesses during the clause by clause study of the document before the Committee, where their testimony may be of assistance to the Committee.
Now, the reason for that, Mr. Joint Chairman, is that once we get into a clause-by-clause study, we are going to have a series of amendments moved, and I suspect moved also by the Minister of Justice, Mr. Chrétien, when he comes back; and we may want, in the middle of January. or the end of January, or the beginning of February, to call back certain witnesses or groups or experts to comment on the implications of some of those amendments as well as on their merits. That has been done in the past in various committees in the history of the parliamentary system. I see you nodding to that, Mr. Chairman; and I would just like to move that amendment so that our hands are not tied, as they may be with the wording as presented by Senator Austin. We consider that to be very important.
Maybe Senator Austin would accept that wording, and it would certainly save some time of the Committee.
Senator Austin: Mr. Joint Chairman, in response to the amendment moved by Mr. Nystrom, I find it acceptable and would ask leave that it be included as part of paragraph 3 of my original motion in place of the words:
except that leave may be given in special cases
From my point of view, there is no difference in substance between the two clauses.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Epp.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Joint Chairman, just on that point, as a party who feel that expert witnesses should be called, that is acceptable to us on condition that that inclusion does not in any way preempt the amendments that I put forward.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): We have unanimous consent. The third paragraph of Mr. Austin’s amendment is therefore amended.
I have asked our services to circulate to each member of the Committee a copy of the amendment, I should say subamendment, put forward by Mr. Nystrom, so that all the hon. members will be able to include it in their propositions.
Some hon. Members: Agreed.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Carried.
You have completed your opening remarks, Mr. Nystrom?
Mr. Nystrom: I may want to comment later on the specific amendment moved by Mr. Epp, when I will adopt a paragraph by paragraph approach.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Yes.
The honourable Bryce Mackasey.
Mr. Mackasey: Thank you, Mr. Joint Chairman.
First of all, I would like to express my approval at the method by which we are dealing with motions of this substance and importance to the future of the Committee.
My approval comes only because we are not holding up witnesses, as we have done on previous occasions. We have demonstrated that we can hear both witnesses and discuss in substance various motions and amendments, which is really the point I was trying to make from the very beginning.
I am rather intrigued by Mr. Epp. He fascinates me. He reminds me of many good parliamentarians who, perhaps, over-react and seek out every opportunity to score political points.
I understood the purpose of this procedural debate was to discuss a specific motion dealing with the allocation of time. But what we have had from Mr. Epp was a very wide ranging debate involving the merits of our Prime Minister, his package, which is the word used by Mr. Epp, and an in depth study of the Gallup poll and what it means.
I wished that Mr. Epp, for the sake of his own party, had made that kind of in depth study of the Gallup poll last fall, because they might still be in government. But I will admit that he has learned a lot from the Gallup polls.
Now, Mr. Epp has suggested that perhaps we are afraid of the results of the Gallup poll. Perhaps we are.
But we would not be much of a government or have much principle or integrity if everything we did had to have popular support.
I can go back as far as the flag debate when we had much less support.
I think what the Gallup poll reflects is a wish, really, of the people of Canada that, somehow, what we are doing reflects negotiations with the provinces.
But our position is very simple. We have tried to achieve that for over half a century. What is significant to me, Mr. Joint Chairman, is that virtually every witness who has appeared here has agreed with the substance, if not the procedure. That is important. When I say witnesses, I am
including witnesses like Canada West; Premier Hatfield: I will not bore the Committee; they all know who they are; the Canadian Chamber of Commerce; the Civil Rights groups; the native people: everybody who has been here said: “For goodness’ sake, we need the constitution back. We need an amending formula, and we need at least the basis of a decent bill of rights.” I am sure that with that kind of approval, from people who have reservations about how we are doing—well, the Prime Minister has reservations: he would prefer to achieve what we are achieving as a result of negotiations with the Premiers. It is no fault of the Prime Minister that we have been unable to reach that consensus.
The question then arises: do we just wistfully forget it or pursue what we are doing? It is quite possible that in three or four years from now this government may fall on what we are doing; but we have the courage to proceed with it. That is important to us as Liberals.
Now, Mr. Epp was good enough to read into the record the following which appears at page 12:90 of Issue 12.
MR. MACKASEY: I might surprise my good fried Mr. Epp by saying that I do believe that it is important and imperative that we hear some witnesses
Not 10 witnesses, not 14 witnesses, but some witnesses; and it continues:
that can discuss the appropriateness of the procedure we are following. I pick my words carefully because I am aware of the fact that the constitutionality of what we are doing in this Committee is already before the courts, and I do not. think that Mr. Epp would suggest that we instruct learned judges, including those that are retired, Mr. Clyne, as to what is appropriate and what is not appropriate.
I could go on and on. Mr. Epp did not quote the next section:
So I would just suggest, Mr. Chairman, that perhaps Mr. Epp might like to withdraw the motion and we will gladly agree to turn the list of witnesses that he has suggested, all of whom are eminent in their field, over to the steering committee, and I think Mr. Epp is a member of that steering committee, and let us see what the steering committee can do with the proposal of Mr. Epp, rather than make it a full-blown debate in front of the Committee.
Well, Mr. Epp proposed to make it a full-blown debate in front of the Committee, and we went on for an hour and a half, and it went to a vote, a vote not on the principle of hearing witnesses, but a vote reflecting our displeasure at discussing in the plenary hearing, to the disadvantage of our witnesses, what was best properly discussed in the steering committee. If, as a result of that, it comes back to us, then fine; we are prepared to deal with it.
Now, Mr. Chairman, I know I am taking time but it is important and we have some time. The inference has been that we have not made good use of our time and that we cannot find tomorrow’s witnesses or the witnesses after or who is coming Saturday or Sunday, and I appologize for whoever is responsible for that. I am sure he has it now, but I did ask the morning, because I am concerned about time and whether we are getting a proper cross section of witnesses, and I ask that primarily because there is some repetition creeping in in the arguments advanced and I was wondering if perhaps there was some category of witnesses that we had not heard, and sometimes there are of course, you cannot anticipate.
However, on the list of witnesses who asked to appear, all the governments of Canada who have asked to appear have appeared. That is significant. Premier Hatfield, Premier Angus MacLean, the Government of the Northwest Territories, the Government of the Yukon, and not on the list here but Nova Scotia.
When you get to the next group of witnesses who want to appear, the municipal governments, we have had here the most representative group of the municipalities represented by our mutual friend the Mayor from Etobicoke.
Mr. McGrath: And they complained they did not have time to consult.
Mr. Mackasey: Well, now, I did not interrupt Mr. EPP. I am just making a point. Yes, they complained, a lot of witnesses complained, but the important thing is they were here and that is the point that I am really making. Whether they had enough time or not, I suppose some will always say they did not have enough time.
What other great national organizations were here? Well, I mentioned the Chamber of Commerce, the Canada West Foundation. There are others and more coming.
We go down to the opposition parties, there is only two groups other than Liberals and Conservatives; the Social Credit and Union Nationale, I do not know whether they have applied. The Atlantic Chamber of Commerce has been invited and will be here, the B.C. Federation of Labour wants to come and I gather will be coming. Minority groups from Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, have all requested or been here. The aboriginal groups from the Métis to the status Indians have all been present, and now we are going to hear not one or two but hopefully five experts on the subject, plus dozens and dozens of more witnesses in the weeks ahead, according to the suggestion made by Senator Austin.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, finally on this point, I am surprised and pleased, and all members of this Committee should be pleased regardless of what party, since the attendance has been pretty faithful, we have met no less than 40 times since November 6. We have sat 22 days, 96 and a half hours, 161 witnesses. That I think is pretty significant. Some of them may be four of five, I did not say groups. I think that is a very significant record and I do not think any of us should be ashamed of the efficiency with which we have used our time. I think it is an amazing record and I take no credit for that. However, I certainly think it is due to all members of the steering committee and the buck-up stuff.
Now, I am not one of those who suggest that we wasted our time and that no will waste the rest our time. Now, insofar as reverses from this party on past votes, Mr. Epp thinks this is important, to use this motion to ramble on about all the ills of the government, the program of the Prime Minister, but did not mention the Gallup Poll at all.
I only want to say to conclude, Mr. Chairman, that I welcome the opportunity and I welcome the latitude that Mr. Epp has provided or that you provided Mr. Epp, but I would say that the real poll is not the Gallup Poll, it is the election. In three or four years from now, if we come down with the type of document and resolution which Mr. Nystrom has indicated lie, for his party, wants to see, and I share his view and I was impressed by his view, the most perfect document we can possibly produce, then I think we will have met the mandate that we were chosen for and it is an honour to be on this Committee. Insofar as amendments are concerned, we will accept amendments, the government is prepared to accept amendments, substantial amendments, reflecting however, the fact that we are not trying to create a charter that imposes on the provinces more than it has to.
So, Mr. Chairman, when the time comes I will be very happy to vote for the motion proposed by Senator Austin.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you Mr. Mackasey. The Honourable James McGrath.
Mr. McGrath: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, one of the things that impresses me about this Committee, and it has been a Committee that has been conscious of its responsibilities, Mr. Mackasey quite rightly referred to a high level of attendance, the fact is it has been a very hard working Committee, the support staff, the Hansard reporters, the Committees Branch, the Parliamentary Press Gallery. It has been a hard grind, Mr. Chairman, and one cannot help but ask the question: why the haste? Why is it
necessary to proceed with such indecent haste? That is the question that I would like to have resolved in my mind.
We have had witness after witness come before us, telling us that they did not have sufficient time to prepare. Indeed, Mr. Mackasey referred to the Canadian Federation of Municipalities. Well, I recall that witness when they were before us saying they did not have time to consult their membership, they did not have time to convene a meeting of their executive, and I would consider that one of the most important witnesses we could hear. Yet the municipal governments of this country, through their elected executive, their national executive, were not given sufficient time to prepare an adequate presentation to this Committee. I just wonder why.
Mr. Chairman, Mr. Mackasey referred to the debate that took place in this Committee on whether or not we should hear expert witnesses. I have great respect for him as a parliamentarian but he stretched it a little bit far in terms of his own credibility when he tried to suggest, Mr. Chairman, that they were not voting on whether or not we should hear expert witnesses, they were voting on their disapproval over the procedure that we were following by discussing this matter on the floor.
Well, Mr. Chairman, for purposes of the record it might be well worth repeating the words of that motion. The motion was moved by Mr. Epp that the following witnesses, in addition to others who might be suggested to appear at a later date, be scheduled to appear before this Committee, then he went on to name a number of prominent constitutional experts, and after debate Mr. Nystrom moved that this Committee instruct the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure prepare a list of IO constitutional experts to appear as witnesses before this Committee and then, I am reading from the Minutes, by unanimous consent the motion of Mr. Epp was allowed to be withdrawn and then again by unanimous consent the motion of Mr. Nystrom was amended by deleting the words “at least. 10”, and we voted on expert witnesses.
Mr. Chairman, a new element has been brought into it which rather disturbs me and that is that we will be given the opportunity, according to this motion, to propose two witnesses, propose individuals. The government will be given the opportunity to propose, two, and the NDP will be given an opportunity to propose one. This suggests, of course, that we will pick two witnesses to give evidence in support of our side, the government will pick two witnesses to give evidence in support of their side, and if the NDP is consistent they will pick a witness who will come down on both sides.
Mr. Chairman, quite frankly this is something that has never happened before in my experience in parliamentary Committee. We decide on witnesses, we do not decide whether they are going to support or oppose the proposition before the Committee. We decide on witnesses who will bring arguments to bear on our determination of the question before us. It seems to me that this is the kind of discussion, and here I agree with Mr. Mackasey, as to who should be called as individual witnesses that should properly take place before the steering committee.
Mr. Chairman, Mr. Epp referred to the proceedings before the Manitoba Court of Appeal, and it is interesting that these questions are being posed by six of the 10 provinces.
The Select Committee of the British Parliament at Westminster is currently holding hearings and they are hearing expert witnesses on the British constitutional practice with respect to dealing with amendments referred by joint resolution to the British North America Act. It seems to me that all we are asking is that, given the fact that we have heard from various groups, some of them having had to appear here in great haste, indeed, I recall one witness saying that he was given less than 24 hours’ notice, their organization was given less than 24 hours’ notice to prepare to make a presentation to a Joint Committee of the Parliament of Canada on a resolution containing 59 clauses with major changes in the constitution of this country, and they were given less than 24 hours to prepare. Surely that kind of thing has no place in the Canadian way of doing things. I certainly has no place in our parliamentary practice, and I get back to my original question: why are we forced as a Committee to sit day and night, five days a week, in through the Christmas recess and why are we obliging witnesses to come here without adequate time to prepare on a question as important as the constitution of Canada?
Government members have not addressed themselves to that question and it is a question that hangs over this Committee and it is a question that is being addressed by the editorial writers and the newspapers of this country: why are we rushing into this?
Well, I suppose one could argue that the original reason was set out in the famous, or infamous, Kirby memorandum of August 30 in which the advice was given to the Government that they should proceed to get this thing out of the House, in and out of committee, as quickly as possible in anticipation of the provinces taking it before the courts and before the courts have had a chance to rule. That I suppose is the real reason as to why the indecent haste.
Mr. Chairman, I have learned to have great respect for the members of this Committee, my honourable friends opposite, some of whom I have known for many years as parliamentarians, and I say to them I believe that they are being badly served by the government that they are forced to defend in this Committee because we had to drag them kicking and screaming to a situation where they were forced to vote against televising the proceedings of this Committee. Finally that question had to be resolved by the House itself, and by the Senate.
The same applied to the question of whether or not the Committee should travel outside of Ottawa, and of course the question as to whether or not the time of the Committee should be extended. That was voted against by the majority of this Committee, by the government members, and they had to swallow themselves again only to have the government bring a measure before the House to extend the time of the Committee. We entered the caveat at that time that we may need
additional time, if we find that that is necessary after we get into clause by clause, indeed we may not have time for clause by clause study given the time frame now before us. We have 59 clauses to this proposed bill in the joint resolution, we may very well have to ask for additional time.
Mr. Chairman, I would hope in the spirit of co-operation, given the widespread concern in the country as exemplified by the latest Gallup poll, as exemplified by the provinces submitting briefs to the British Parliamentary committee, as exemplified by the findings of the British parliamentary committee itself in which expert witnesses only today were reported as having advised the British parliamentary committee that in their opinion, and these were two eminent scholars from Cambridge University, that what the Government of Canada was proposing was in fact illegal and unconstitutional.
Given all these facts, Mr. Chairman, surely we should not rush into this thing and the very sensible, reasonable proposal put forward by my colleague, Mr. Epp, should be the very least that this Committee should support.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. McGrath. Mr. Robinson.
Mr. Robinson: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I would like to comment on the proposal that has been submitted by Senator Austin and also on some of the comments that have been made by members of the Committee so far.
First of all, with respect to the proposal as it is worded by Senator Austin, I believe that my colleague, Mr. Nystrom, has indicated that in its broad terms we are prepared to accept the proposal, as I say in its broad terms. We did propose an amendment and certainly members of this Committee will be aware that the resolution as forwarded in its final form, as presented by Senator Austin, certainly reflects a good deal of negotiation and give and take on the part of hopefully all parties in this Committee, although clearly it has not been satisfactory for members of the Conservative party.
I would like to deal with some of the individual elements, if I may, Mr. Chairman, of the proposal put before us to make clear why it is that we believe the proposal is not, in its present wording, and subject to certain understandings, an unreasonable proposal.
First of all, we have a suggestion that the Committee receive applications for the appearance of witnesses until December 17 of this year. Now, as members of this Committee will know, there has been an extension of two months for the life of the Committee and many of the groups, indeed I would suspect most of the groups that seriously were interested in appearing before this Committee will by now have already made their applications to do so. We are suggesting that there should be
an additional period of one week, that this period should, and hopefully the public and those groups that are interested will be notified as soon as possible, tomorrow hopefully, that this extension has been granted, but I suggest that the date of December 17, in light of the fact that many groups, most groups I suspect, have already been well aware of the fact that there is an extension and will have requested the right to appear, that that particular date is not unreasonable and that the proposal to extend that to December 31, of this year is unnecessary.
I understand the concern of the Conservative Party that we should be as open as possible and certainly we in this party support that concern and indicated our very grave reservations with the procedure that this Committee was subjected to for some time. We indicated our concerns about the process, about the closure that was invoked in the House of Commons, about the flip flop on televisiong proceedings, the concern about some of the elements of expert witnesses, but in fairness I believe that this proposal for December 17th is a reasonable proposal and the proposal, to receive briefs in writing until December 31, 1980 once again is in accord with the spirit this Committee is attempting to work in now,
There is a suggestion, I do not think there is any serious debate about the next provision on the sitting times of the Committee. My friend Mr. Nystrom indicated that perhaps in the week that we get back we may want to extend the hours. I suggest that rather than take a firm position on that now, that we leave that open and permit the Clerk in consultation with Mr. Dobell to determine whether indeed it is necessary to have additional sitting hours. We assume at this point that it will not be because the House will not be sitting, presumably, that we leave ourselves sufficient flexibility to permit that, and with that understanding I think that that clause also is acceptable.
The next clause is obviously one that has given rise to the most concern on the part of the Conservative Party, that the Committee complete its hearing of witnesses not later than January 9, 1981, except leave may be given in special cases. Well, that has been amended as Mr. Nystrom has indicated, to make it very clear that there has to be some objective criteria here, that leave may be given to hear further witnesses during the clause-by-clause study before the Committee where their testimony may be of assistance to the Committee. We felt that to just leave it in special cases was too vague and there has to be some criteria there, that we may very well want to hear from some of the witnesses who have already appeared before us. we may want to give them an opportunity to respond to some of the amendments that the government is prepared to table. We may wish to ask Mr. Fairweather back, Mr. Tarnopolsky. Some of the other experts who have expressed very serious concerns about the provisions, Max Yalden and a number of others, about the provisions in the Charter as it is presently worded. Indeed I would hope that that would be the understanding of the Committee that we would give those persons an opportunity to come back and say exactly what they thought about the government’s response to their concerns, and I noted that Mr. Austin was nodding in agreement
with my understanding that that was one of the purposes of this proposal.
With that understanding and with that amendment the January 9 date is not unreasonable. Now, the position that is taken by the Conservative Party on this is that the life of the Committee has been extended by two months and therefore by some form of logic which escapes me we should also be hearing witnesses for a further two months.
Mr. Chairman, I do not follow that argument with respect to my friend Mr. Epp who has proposed it. One of the serious concerns that was raised by members on this side of the Committee in proposing an extension to February 6 was that there simply was not adequate time for clause by clause study. This Committee needed more time to reflect upon the concerns. There are some very serious and grave concerns that have been expressed by the many groups and individuals that have appeared before us so far.
For the Conservative Party to come along now and say that two weeks is adequate, that all we need is two weeks to consider some 50 clauses, to take seriously the concerns of these Canadian groups surely does not make any sense whatsoever and calls into some question the extent to which they plan to participate in this clause-by-clause study of the bill. Perhaps if one looks, Mr. Chairman, perhaps if one looks at the recent history of the process and some of the substance that has been discussed, the reasons for that become a little clearer.
Of course when it comes to clause-by-clause study we are going to have to start taking positions in this Committee on the substance.
The Conservative Party has quite properly raised very serious concerns about process, and we share those concerns, but where they have been silent or where they have been conflicting is on the question of substance. We do not know where they stand. We hear one member of the Committee, one member of the Conservative Party saying they support an entrenched bill of rights. A couple of hours later we have another member of the Conservative Party saying no, no, we do not support a Charter of Rights. We hear one member of the Committee saying yes, we share the concern about the handicapped and then we hear the Leader of the Conservative Party, Joe Clark, suggesting that what we need is an entrenchment of the Diefenbaker Bill of Rights which says nothing about the handicapped, which says nothing of substance about women, which says nothing of substance about native people in this country,
So, Mr. Chairman, it is not surprising that the Conservative members of this Committee would want to devote as little time as possible to an examination of the merits of this because of course they have not even decided themselves where they stand on these fundamental questions.
We in this Party, Mr. Chairman, have very serious concerns about many of the aspects of the resolution, but we intend to approach this in a constructive and positive manner. We intend to propose serious amendments to recognize the concerns about the Charter of Rights, to recognize concerns
expressed by women’s groups, to recognize the concerns expressed on behalf of native people, on the Treaty and aboriginal rights.
We do not know where to this day the Conservative Party stands on that question, Mr. Chairman, and we wait with interest their response.
So I suggest, Mr. Chairman, that the time that is allocated to clause by clause study of this proposal is a reflection of the seriousness with which the Parties take this process and I invite my friends in the Conservative Party to tell us why it is that they believe we can give this proposed resolution the serious comprehensive study it deserves in a period of some ten days.
If we really care, if we have really been listening to the groups that have appeared before us and indeed to the groups and experts that intend to come before us, surely to goodness they deserve the right to have their representations considered seriously and not railroaded through in a two week period.
So, Mr. Chairman, we support the suggestion that four weeks is not an unreasonable time within which this Committee should be considering amendments, within which this Committee can examine very carefully just how serious the government is about accepting reasonable amendments because of course we in this Party have indicated our concern about process. Some of those concerns have been dealt with. But we are also fundamentally concerned about the substance.
We will watch with interest the response of this government to substantive concerns about the Charter, about the rights of native people, about the rights of women, about the referendum proposals and a number of others and at the end of that process we will make a decision; but we intend, Mr. Chairman, to take that process seriously.
Mr. Chairman, we support the proposal for a January 9 deadline for the hearing of witnesses and a month long period to seriously consider the merits of this important document which in many respects is going to shape the future of this country for many years to come. We deserve, Mr. Chairman, more than two weeks to consider seriously the clause by clause study of a document which is this significant and a document, frankly, Mr. Chairman, which is this flawed. It will take more time to remedy many of those defects.
Mr. Chairman, on that point I believe that the proposal is not an unreasonable one. As I say, I understand the concern of my Conservative friends in terms of substance but I believe that we have to take substance seriously and we have to take substance seriously and we have to start laying out exactly where we stand on these important questions.
The final paragraph of course refers to the February 5 deadline. That has been agreed. The other concern that I would like to raise at the point, and I would like to raise it if I may Mr. Chairman in the form of an amendment is this, that we have a right as a Committee to an examination of any documentation or material which may assist us to come up
with the best possible package for there is certain information, certain material which has be withheld from this Committee. That information is the result of three opinion polls financed by the taxpayers of Canada, three public opinion polls which contain information directly relevant to the terms of reference of this Committee.
In view of that, Mr. Chairman, and in view of some statements that were made by my friends on the other side in the Liberal Party I would like to move the following amendment, I believe it could be moved to the first paragraph of this proposal.
Mr. Mackasey: Would you suggest a separate motion. It is rather lengthy, that is the only reason.
Mr. Robinson: Mr. Mackasey has suggested perhaps a separate motion. If he is prepared to second that, I would certainly be pleased to do that, Mr. Chairman. with the support of my friend Mr. Mackasey, the motion is as follows.
Mr. Mackasey: I could second it and still vote against it, so let us hear it.
An hon. Member: It would not be the first time.
An hon. Member: That sounds like Bryce.
Mr. Mackasey: I have done that many times, many, many times.
An hon. Member: In fact you have moved a motion and then voted against it.
Mr. Robinson: Mr. Chairman, my amendment would be as follows. It could very well be a separate paragraph.
I move that this Committee call upon the Minister of Justice to forward to the Committee by December 17 the results in so far as they relate to constitutional questions of the three opinion polls which the Minister has so far not released.
Now, Mr. Chairman, in reviewing the minutes of the meeting of November 12 almost a moonth ago at which this subject was canvassed, it is very clear that the motion that was put forward by myself at that time that these opinion polls be released, that that motion was rejected, but it was rejected on the clear understanding that the Minister would indeed forward to the Committee these opinion polls; and I am pleased to see Mr. Mackasey nodding in agreement.
One need only look at page 44 of the minutes of that day, Mr. Chairman, and I would like to quote from the Minister of Justice, Mr. Chrétien. He says:
So, I would like to see which questions are related strictly to the Constitution, which of the questions in the three polls have already been considered by the committee and which questions are related to questions other than the Constitution.
These are the relevant words, Mr. Chairman:
So, I have no objection in making public questions relevant to the Constitution in those two or three polls as soon as possible. However, sorting through the questions to determine those related to the committee’s work requires a certain time.
So there was an undertaking there that the results of these polls in so far as they relate to the work of this Committee would be released as soon as possible.
Senator Austin in his intervention said as follows:
Throughout this procedural debate I have understood the Minister to be prepared to produce the information requested
On the basis of his undertaking, Senator Austin voted against the motion proposed but understanding very clearly that the Minister had given what Senator Austin referred to as an undertaking to produce the relevant portions of the polls.
Senator Lamontagne stated:
The Minister has just told us that he does not have this information at hand but as soon as he can obtain it he will table it with the Committee.
Once again a very clear understanding that we would have this information placed before the Committee.
Finally, if I may quote an expert from the other side, Mr. Mackasey, who indicated:
I have no objection as an individual to production of the papers. I hope the Minister produces them.
Perhaps the government may produce Mr. Mackasey as one of their two individual experts, Mr. Chairman.
So clearly there is an understanding there, there was an understanding that the Minister would examine the portions of the polls which related to the constitution and forward them to the Committee. Mr. Chairman, that was almost a month ago and I suggest, Mr. Chairman, that this motion is a reasonable motion; the Minister has had a month; we are giving him another week, and then on the basis of the undertaking he gave us at that time, an undertaking that was understood by my friends on the other side and was cited in fact by at least two of them as their reasons for opposing the motion at that time, I would hope this motion would receive the unanimous consent of all members of the Committee.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Robinson. The honourable Perrin Beatty.
Mr. Beatty: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, as you are receiving a number of proposed amendments at the same time and I gather allowing debate on them all simultaneously perhaps I could move a further amendment to the motion proposed by Senator Austin namely that clause 5 of Senator Austin’s motion be struck. As you will be aware, clause 5 reads as follows:
That the Committee complete its report to the Senate and the House of Commons no later than February 5, 1981.
Mr. Chairman, at the present time we are operating under amended terms of reference which have been passed in the House of Commons requiring the Committee to report by February 6. Senator Austin’s motion in this regard, this particular paragraph, is at best redundant in that it is putting a constraint on the Committee already put on the Committee by
the House of Commons. It is at worst an attempt to further tie the hands of this Committee, should we decide that it is necessary to report to the House of Commons that we should have an extension of time. I hope that is not Senator Austin’s intention to in any way restrict the ability of the Committee to make further reports to the House of Commons. If it is not, then no justification has been given to the Committee for the need for paragraph 5, and it stands redundant and should be struck, and I would so move.
Mr. Chairman, I have listened to Mr. Robinson with a great deal of interest because he is one of the most articulate and one of the most intelligent members of Parliament on any side of the House. I think any of us should listen to any intervention that he makes with a great deal of interest and a great deal of sincerety.
When I listened to him, however, I was very struck by some of his comments. He attacked the Conservative Party, Mr. Chairman, and he complained that on some issues we have not spoken with one voice. He said that he was anxious to see what our position was on some of these issues.
Mr. Chairman, I was there as you were in the House of Commons on second reading and there was a split indeed in one of the opposition caucuses on the question of whether or not this matter should even be sent to Committee. Indeed one of the caucuses did speak with two voices and it was not clear to the Canadian people who in fact was expressing the opinion of that caucus, and it was the New Democratic Party.
Who was the person who split with the rest of his colleagues? It was their justice critic, Mr. Robinson, who today complains about Conservative members saying as they look at elements of this package, he complains that we have expressed a variation of points of view on various elements.
Mr. Chairman, Mr. Robinson may be indicating that he intends now to ensure that the NDP speaks with one voice and certainly what we are finding now is that the NDP is speaking with one voice with the government. Mr. Broadbent, when we dealt with the question of the extension of time, and Mr. Trudeau said that he felt that if Mr. Broadbent agreed to the extension of time that he should bind himself and bind his Party, that they would not ask that more Canadians have a chance to be heard, and the deadline be extended again, Mr. Broadbent got up in the House of Commons immediately to say when we make a deal we keep our agreement. Indeed they have and indeed they are.
They agreed, Mr. Chairman, to impose closure now on the people of Canada. On second reading, the New Democrats voted against closure in the House of Commons but they are voting now, by their support for this resolution, to impose closure on the people of Canada.
I would say to the members of the NDP, ask your constituents whether they support the proposal that there should be 12 more sitting days and 12 more sitting days alone in which witnesses will be heard, because it is your constituents that you are complicit with the Liberals in silencing. Those are the people who will not be allowed to be heard.
Mr. Chairman, I would invite the members of the NDP to take a look at the Gallup poll which was referred to earlier this afternoon. In Mr. Nystrom’s area, the prairies, by a margin of four to one, his constituents have expressed their opposition to what Mr. Trudeau is doing. In British Columbia, Mr. Robinson’s area, by a margin of three to one, his constituents have expressed their opposition to what Mr. Trudeau is doing. Mr. Robinson was extremely articulate today, as he always is, almost as persuasive and articulate as he was before when you probably saw him in a clip on the national news. He said if there is to be a railroad he is getting off the train. Well, he has climbed off the train and on to the Liberal band wagon. This is the position which the NDP are taking. It is ready, aye ready, the time has come now to gag Canadians, is their approach.
Mr. Mackasey said, quite properly, that there have been 22 days of hearings to date and then he had an interesting statistic that he gave, 161 witnesses, which certainly gave those of us who have been here some cause to check our addition. It turned out that what in fact he had done was where the Minister of Justice brought along with him four or five different officials, he counted them all as witnesses.
Mr. Mackasey: On a point of order, they are all equally important.
Mr. Beatty: They are all equally important indeed.
Where the Civil Liberties Association brought along, one, two, three people, he counted them all.
Mr. Mackasey: Which one would you eliminate?
Mr. Beatty: Mr. Chairman, Mr. Mackasey is anxious to get the floor in order to pull his fat back out of the fire but I am amazed, Mr. Chairman. that when the honourable Jean Chrétien appeared as the witness on behalf of the government of Canada he did not count the 24 million Canadians he was supposed to be representing at the time or when the Premier of Nova Scotia or the Premier of New Brunswick or the Premier of Prince Edward Island came I was surprised he did not count all of the constituents as well.
In fact, how many delegations, Mr. Chairman, have we received? In 22 sitting days of this Committee we have received 48 delegations. The Liberals are proposing, with the support of the NDP that we have 12 more sitting days.
Now assume that we make much better progress than we have made to date, that we can hear witnesses at twice the rate that we have heard to date, that we do not have the Minister of Justice back to appear again so he would not be taking time from someone else, assume that is the case. How many witnesses would we have heard in all, how many delegations. The answer is about 100 and yet, Mr. Chairman, I have just added up the number of people who have already asked to appear and at the present count 424 Canadian individuals or groups are asking to be heard by this Committee and the government proposes that we should extend the time. At least they proposed that we extend the time, I will give them credit for that,
although in a very ungenerous way they proposed that we should extend the time.
They proposed, Mr. Chairman, that the date for receiving applications to be heard, this was Senator Austin’s proposal, that the Committee receive applications for the appearances of witnesses until December 17, 1980, one week today. I invite Senator Austin to get somebody in British Columbia or Vancouver to put a letter in the mail and let him tell me how long it takes to get from Vancouver or from the interior of British Columbia to this Committee. How long is he in fact giving in this generous gesture to Canadians who have not had a chance to put in their submission to be heard yet, to actually get it here.
Yet the NDP says that it is unreasonable to extend it to December 31 for Canadians to contact this Committee asking to be heard. What they are doing, Mr. Chairman, is imposing closure on the people of Canada again.
With the help of the NDP the Liberals are gagging the people of Canada.
Mr. Chairman, even if we were able to hear witnesses at twice the rate that we have heard them today with only 12 more sitting days of this Committee to hear witnesses, even if no more people were able to get in under the wire that Senator Austin is putting there, even if there was no one else who asked to appear, we would be hearing fewer than 25 per cent of the people who have asked to come before this Committee. I say with the most fundamental law of the country, with the constitution of the people of Canada, the people have a right to be heard and then when the NDP and the Liberals decide to impose closure on the people of Canada on the most fundamental law of the land they are doing a serious disservice to their constituents and to the people that all of us are being called upon to serve.
Mr. Chairman, in looking at this material, it is interesting with this motion, because when we deal with the question of whether or not expert witnesses should be heard, Mr. Chairman, it is our constitution, the constitution of the people of Canada, and yet what the Liberals are proposing with the support of the NDP is that a maximum of five expert witnesses be called upon to give testimony before the Committee to tell us whether or not what the government is doing is legal and proper. Already five or six times that many experts have written to the Committee indicating their interest in appearing and yet these people will not have a chance to be heard.
Mr. Nystrom says that what Senator Austin would allow, and I wrote down his words, that Senator Austin would allow at least five people to be heard. Well I suggest to Mr. Nystrom he should read Senator Austin’s motion which is a maximum of five individual witnesses, not at least, a maximum.
Why, Mr. Chairman, on the constitution belonging to the people of Canada, why should the British Parliament, why should the British Committee have recourse to greater expert advice hearing more individual witnesses giving expert testimony than the people of Canada are entitled to have in this
Committee. Where it the logic? Where does it make any sense? How can the government justify that?
Mr. Robinson, when he spoke, said that he challenged us on our side to explain how it was that we could give the consideration that was necessary to approving such a complex resolution that was so flawed in so many ways, if we are to extend the amount of time that witnesses could have to be heard. I say to him, if your leader, Mr. Robinson, had not committed you in the House of Commons on nation wide TV to gagging the people of Canada, if he had not taken the position that you would not come back to the House’ of Commons to ask for an extension because Canadians had not had a right to be heard, this would not be a problem. The central issue here, surely Mr. Chairman, is whether there is a need for this arbitrary deadline.
The government House Leader, Mr. Pinard, said in the House of Commons that he had no arbitrary deadline, that there was no need. If that is the case, why did the Leader of the NDP, Mr. Broadbent, bind his members in advance that they would not come back to the House of Commons asking for an extension so that the Committee could discharge its responsibilities.
If Mr. Robinson and other members of the NDP feel injured by the complexity of the resolution then it is because they have shot themselves in their foot, it is because they have done that injury to themselves, Mr. Chairman, because without that arbitrary deadline, without tieing the hands of the Committee, without saying that it is impossible for us to give this resolution the consideration that it deserves, we would not be put in the position of having to gag 75 per cent of the people who have asked to come before the Committee and of denying Canadians the right to have expert testimony before this Committee.
Mr. Chairman, Mr. Mackasey earlier said that the majority of the people who have come before the Committee have supported the elements of the package. It is not surprising, Mr. Chairman. What the Liberals have done is to veto expert testimony from people who are qualified to say whether or not what the government is doing is legal and constitutional and proper. They have vetoed them today and they are proposing in a generous way that five be heard, two to put their case, two to put our case and one to put the case of the NDP as soon as the NDP decide which side of the issue they are on. Then they will say well, the experts have been heard, and yet the vast preponderance of the testimony has been sympathetic to what the government is doing.
Senator Austin and Mr. Mackasey were probably here last night, and I remember them putting questions to the BC, Civil Liberties Association asking them to take a position on this issue of unilateralism, just as I asked them to take a position on the question of whether or not the courts should be allowed to rule on the legality and the propriety of this resolution before asking Westminster to make these amendments.
They will remember the answers given by these people as well as by the Canadian Bar Association, which was that they
were not competent to give advice: they were representing an organization, and that they did not have a mandate from their constituents to look at the question of propriety and legality.
Mr. Chairman, who does? The answer is the individual expert witness that we would like to have appear before this Committee. They have that competence. People like Senator Eugene Forsey, who sat on the C-60 committee and who has asked to be heard by this Committee. He has the competence.
Mr. Mackasey: Is he on your list of 14?
Mr. Beatty: Mr. Mackasey would like to be on again. But, Mr. Mackasey, I say to you that I would be delighted—Senator Forsey has written since that time—with your support to add his name to the witnesses we want to hear. But I would like to know whether or not the Liberals will allow Doctor Forsey to be heard, or Mr. Elmer Dridger, the former Deputy Minister of Justice of Canada who has cast serious doubts on the legality of what the government is doing and whether or not Westminster can make changes for Canadians.
Surely, Mr. Joint Chairman, we have a responsibility to hear these distinguished individuals and to ensure that we act in a way that is both proper and appropriate when looking at the matter.
A final point I would like to make—and I apologize for taking up the time of the Committee—is that I was very struck by another comment Mr. Mackasey made in response to the public opinion polls which today show that, by a majority of two to one, Canadians are opposed to what the Prime Minister is trying to do to this country. He said—and I quote him:
We would not be much of a party or government if everything we did had to have popular support.
Well, I am not suggesting for one moment-and nobody on this side is—that everything that this government does is going to be popular.
But what I am saying is that when you are dealing with the most fundamental law of the country, that the constitution of the people of Canada belongs not to Mr. Trudeau, not to members of this Committee, not to the NDP-Liberal alliance, but to the people of Canada, and they have a right to be heard on their constitution and to have their majority views reflected by this Committee and by the Parliament of Canada, and when closure is invoked upon them, when artificial, arbitrary deadlines are imposed, which have never been justified to this Committee, nor to Parliament nor to the Canadian people, then the government is striking a blow against democracy in Canada itself-something, Mr. Joint Chairman, which none of us as members of Parliament and Senators, should be party to; and this is what is so sad, watching the members of the NDP ally themselves with the Liberal party as they gag Canadians.
Mr. Chairman, what my colleague, Mr. Epp has proposed is simply, first of all, that we allow Canadians the right to be
heard. Secondly, that we do our job as we are asked to do by the House of Commons and the Senate, to give. adequate scrutiny to this resolution to see whether or not it should go forward, whether it is legal and proper.
Is that too much to ask?
What we have before us, Mr. Joint Chairman, is a resolution that is possibly illegal, to change our constitution. It is probably unconstitutional. It is unquestionably divisive. Canadians deserve much more than they have received from the Liberal-NDP alliance to date, and I hope before the vote is taken on these amendments, that the members of the NDP and of the Liberal party will recognize their duty to Canadians and will vote to see that this Committee does its duty.
Thank you, Mr. Joint Chairman.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Beatty.
The honourable Senator Austin.
Mr. Epp: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): A point of order, Mr. Epp.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Chairman, if you are recognizing Senator Austin, are you closing the debate?
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): No, not at all; at this point I understand that I am in a position to recognize anyone, and I will alternate between the parties.
I have the names of Senator Tremblay and Mr. Hawkes, and after Mr. Austin, I will come back to Mr. Tremblay.
Mr. Epp: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, as long as the debate is not being closed.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): It is not my intention to close the debate.
Mr. Mackasey: We will be here until midnight.
Senator Austin: Thank you, Mr. Joint Chairman, One thing which must be clear to anyone here or who is watching is that no one is being gagged in their opportunity to make contributions this evening. At the political hour, I am sure we will go on for quite a while. I hope that, in dealing with the matter, we can focus on what is before us. What is before us is a question of the Committee’s procedure in terms of the discharge of the directions of the House and of the Senate to make a report no later than February 6.
In that respect there has, indeed, been very hard negotiations amongst the members of the traffic committee, in order to come to some proper conclusion as to how this Committee should operate.
I want to confirm what has been said by members of the New Democratic party, that there was particularly hard discussion which has led to the question of a clause-by-clause study, and also with respect to the question of witnesses.
I am pleased to note that, as a result of the comments we have heard before this Committee this evening, that the NDP are agreeable to the precedural suggestions I have laid this evening.
I would like to comment on something Mr. McGrath said with respect to expert witnesses. He laughed a bit at the fact that my motion provided that two of the five individual witnesses referred to would be selected by the government members, two by the Conservative members and one by the New Democratic Party.
Ordinarily, I would like to proceed with the convention that the Traffic Committee receive the direction of this Joint Committee and settle a list of expert witnesses.
But I am trying to anticipate. quite frankly, on the basis of this suggestion, the quarrels that would take place in the Traffic Committee—quarrels which are easy to predict, taking the course of conduct of this discussion as it has run on procedural matters since this Joint Committee first began to sit.
I hope this particular, albeit somewhat unusual method, would avoid those quarrels and allow the question of expert witnesses to be settled expeditiously, so that they can be scheduled at an early time.
I want to say to Senator Roblin who made comments about the scheduling of this Committee, that it has not been easy to gain concurrence at all times as to who shall appear before us.
I have no intention of hanging out the laundry of the Traffic Committee beyond that particular comment.
Now, with respect to the suggestion made by Mr. Beatty as to an amendment to the fifth paragraph of the motion I presented, relating to the matter that the Committee complete its report to the Senate and the House of Commons no later than February 5, 1981, I would like to say the suggestion is certainly not acceptable. I see it in the light, as he quite candidly admitted, of the policy of the Conservative party, which is to try to extend the work of the Committee for some unlimited period of time, certainly a period of time the termination of which I am not aware.
As Mr. Beatty well knows, the question of the tenure of this particular Committee is not a matter for this Committee, but is one for the House of Commons and the Senate to decide, and if he wishes to make his arguments on the duration of the existence of this Committee, he knows that they should be made there.
With respect to the comment made by Mr. Robinson, relating to the question of the Minister bringing forward relevant material from polls, that is to say relevant to the work of this particular Committee, my own view continues to be that the Minister should be allowed to make his response in accordance with a statement he made here.
I believe the Minister will be prepared to provide that particular material, I am told, prior to the Christmas session. If that is the case—as I understand it has been represented to be—then I would hope Mr. Robinson would withdraw his resolution at this stage and to await that event subseqently taking place, and, if it does not take place, then the motion that Mr. Robinson has put here should certainly be put again.
Mr. Robinson: On a point of order.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): A point of order, Mr. Robinson.
Mr. Robinson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
With respect to the comment made on the matter of opinion polls by Senator Austin, I did not quite understand Senator Austin to indicate who it was that represented to him that these opinion polls would, indeed, be released before the Christmas break. I think that is a rather significant question.
If it is the Minister or a representative of the Minister who has indicated that and we will receive these before this Committee rises for Christmas, certainly I would be prepared to accept that undertaking.
Senator Austin: I am perfectly prepared to say I have been given that advice from a representative of the Minister, and it is on the basis of that representation from the Minister’s assistant that I made the suggestion, Mr. Robinson.
Mr. Robinson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Robinson.
You may continue, Senator Austin.
Senator Austin: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The question of the main motion, the receipt of applications for the appearance of witnesses, I made a statement earlier, and I would like to adhere to it, because I have heard no arguments to indicate that this Committee should extend the time for receiving applications for the appearances of witnesses beyond December 17, although I am prepared to say, without qualification that, if there is a very special case made we are not closed to hearing that, for some reason of inadvertence or me other very special reason, which I cannot now contemplate, that someone ought to be heard.
With respect to the qestion of clause by clause, let me say that I very, very strongly concur, and in fact I advanced the argument in the Traffic Committee myself, that this Committee must proceed very deliberately and very carefully on clause by clause, first of all, to hear the Minister, to receive his amendments, and then to consider the document in front of us and the amendments very closely.
I like the phraseology used both by Mr. Nystrom and Mr. Robinson, that we must prove to Canadians who have come here and have been heard, that we are also prepared to listen to what they have had to say, and if we cannot concur—and I am adding this myself—if we cannot concur after hearing and listening, then we should at least offer reasons in this Committee why we cannot accept certain amendments which have been proposed to us.
So I believe we very much need to have that particular period of time in order to deal with the substantive questions which are before us.
Mr. Joint Chairman, there was a great deal of political rhetoric which, I believe, was not relevant to the procedural questions before us. I do not wish to be taken as having
accepted, by my silence, any of the rhetoric I have not responded to.
Thank you very much.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Senator Austin.
The honourable Senator Tremblay.
L’honorable sénateur Tremblay.
Senator Tremblay: Mr. Chairman, I hope that what I am about to say will not be referred to as political rhetoric. I am going to speak to specifics.
Earlier, Mr. Mackasey took a certain amount of pleasure in reading a list of witnesses which had appeared before us; in particular, he mentioned those witnesses who came from Quebec. I imagine that when he read this list, Mr. Mackasey noticed that the three groups we heard, and I would like to say in passing that I was pleased to hear those three groups, the positive action, the SBJM, and les Italo-Québécois cannot be considered representative of the entire Quebec population. Is that not correct, Mr. Mackasey?
This leads me to point out a fact I have observed, I do not claim it as intentional, but I cannot help noticing that so far no group which could be considered closer to the majority than the three we heard have appeard before us, and I think I am correct in saying that no such group has even been invited to appear.
Mr. Chairman, I think that that leaves an extremely serious hole in our testimony. Without getting into details, I would just like to have Mr. Mackasey and Senator Austin’s assurance that in the few days remaining to hear witnesses, even supposing the period is extended as our motion suggests, that a significant portion of the groups from Quebec who asked to be heard will in fact be invited to come and voice their opinions before the committee. Can they give me that assurance? And if they can, I will set aside the issue of groups from Quebec. Could you give me an answer right away? I am prepared to discuss the matter.
Some hon. Members: Inaudible.
Senator Tremblay: Have you made a note of that question?
Secondly, about the experts, the individual witnesses. So far, I have been talking about groups, I do not think that the way in which Senator Austin’s motion restricts the traffic committee corresponds in any way to the whole concept of expert witnesses. Selecting witnesses according to inter-party horse trading seems to me to be a contradiction of the very idea of expert witnesses.
In any case, I could have quoted a long list of experts who have already asked to appear as witnesses; for instance, Leon Dion, Gilles Rémillard, Robert Decary, Professor Leiderman,
Professor MacQuinney, and others. They are already on our list.
But setting aside this particular list, I would like to raise a point touching on the question of expert witnesses. It is something that I think we have all noticed in the testimony of many of those who appeared before us, especially in the testimony of those who touched on Section 23 of the proposed resolution. It is something that was often mentioned, and in almost every case, between the lines of the proposals or the comments made by a witness, we could read the presence of Quebec’s Bill 101.
I have heard many things which I have not always made a note of; I have heard things which really surprised me because they were in fact misconceptions about the actual implementation of Bill 101.
So once again, I will speak to our colleagues across the table. It seems to me that on that issue, on the concrete meaning of the implementation of Bill 101 in Quebec, as a committee, it is our duty to hear as an expert witness le Conseil de la Langue française who under the administration of the Quebec government has the responsibility of implementing Bill 101. In that way, we will be able to ask any questions we have in mind and at least be able to obtain concrete and objective information before pondering and evaluating the interpretations we have heard from other witnesses.
This is something I would like to insist on. I think this is in some ways a matter of professional conscience for our committee.
Also, as a matter of professional conscience, a point which has worried me a great deal is how we are going to deal properly with those who have come to express their opinions to us. If the information we have received is correct, we have received a total of about 450 or 500 written briefs or documents. Is that number more or less right?
I am quite concerned with the way in which we are going to deal with the testimony we have already received, how we are going to analyze it to help us when we get into the clause by clause study of the proposed resolution. I have not yet heard any satisfactory suggestion on that from the subcommittee on agenda and procedure. I have not yet heard how we are going to deal with that. There again, time is a problem, because unless I am mistaken, the services available to us have so far only managed to make an incomplete analysis of the briefs we have heard, the briefs of witnesses who appeared before us in person. How much time will our support staff from the library or elsewhere need to allow us to say in all honesty that we did consider or were informed of what these 400 or 500 witnesses had to say.
Without making a detailed study of every aspect of our proposal, it seems to me that given what others have already said, and given the elements I have just mentioned, we are
going to need more time to hear those who we absolutely must hear and also to do the technical work which will be necessary to take into account both the concrete testimony we have received in the form of written briefs and also, as Mr. Robinson pointed out earlier, to make our own decisions, through our own discussions, on what our final recommendations will be. In passing, and in conclusion, Mr. Robinson was concerned that Mr. Epp’s proposal only allowed us two weeks to conclude our work and to draw conclusions from our deliberations.
I hope that Mr. Robinson did not mean to say that his personal study of the proposals would not begin until we had finished hearing our witnesses. On our side, we started studying the issues ages ago. But he should not worry; when the time comes, we will be prepared to say what we, as a party, want.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Tremblay.
Mr. Hawkes: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It is a pleasure to follow Senator Tremblay.
I have sat in most of the 100 hours of meetings of this Committee and it is the first time that I have tried to interject myself into a procedural debate and I hope I succeed in keeping it non political and yet expressing, I think, the kinds of feelings I felt some of the time when I sat in the audience or in the back row as well as some of the times I sat at the table.
It seems to me that we are engaged in a very serious task and that in reality we are facing two problems simultaneously in the debate we are having about the motions and amendments address themselves to both of those problems. I think we have a problem as legislators and I would like to read just part of one paragraph of the brief submitted to us by Professor Scott frm McGill University Law Faculty, and I just happen to have that with me today because I am developing the habit of trying to bring to the hearings several briefs that we will not hear or probably not hear so that I can begin to discover what is in the written submissions that have come before us.
However, I think this partial paragraph speaks perhaps most clearly to those who are removed from the hurly burly of the House of Commons and to those who sit in our second chamber, that chamber of sober second thought, and I think it sets out clearly at least one man’s version of the responsibility which this committee is facing on the legislative side. This partial paragraph reads as follows:
The Committee and the Senate and the House of Commons of Canada must, however, bear in mind that every word, indeed every punctuation mark in that proposed resolution will undergo repeated and lengthy process in the courts of this country and this for a time extending indefinitely into the future, Enormous amounts of time and energies of the legal professions in all their branches will be devoted to its scrutiny.
Profound consequences may turn on the meaning of any single word. Amendments are likely to be difficult, in some cases impossible, in a practical sense, to obtain. I therefore urge the Committee and, through, it, both Houses of Parliament to ensure that the parliamentary examination of this instrument procedes not merely without haste but on the contrary with the most meticulous care and with the greatest deliberation.
That is the partial paragraph and I think it speaks eloquently and succinctly to that sense of legislative responsibility which is borne by the members of this committee and in that context, if I can use some more vernacular phrases, but I think in that context any deadline of any kind must be perceived as an enemy and not a friend.
Time targets are acceptable and desirable to keep us on stream and keep us moving forward, but deadlines in that context, one requiring meticulous care, are I think our enemies. February 6 sits there and deadlines, if we write them in stone here this afternoon, will sit there as well in that kind of damaging fashion.
I want to move to the political side, and if I can address my remarks to perhaps just one member of this Committee, Mr. Lapierre. He and I arrived in the Parliament of Canada in the same election, just in May of 1979, and as luck would have it we were positioned in the Confederation Building across the hall from each other, and on that occasion we were the minority government, I was a new member on the government side and he was a new member on the opposition side. Our roles are now reversed and we have been through our second election.
However, I think as new people to the Parliament of Canada you have a special affinity for those that come in your class and in your generation, and I can remember well some of the occasions on which we met in the hall or snuck across the hall into each others office late at night, and I can remember him trying to tell me something about my lack of understanding about the people of the Province of Quebec, and one of the issues which we discussed more than once was our unwillingness as a government to enter fully and completely into the debate that was about to take place in Quebec in terms of the referendum. I remember in the House of Commons ministers on our side standing up and making statements like: that is a debate for Quebeckers, we really should not put large amounts of federal money into advertising; and I remember Mr. Lapierre saying to me that that is wrong, you are the government now and you really should spend that money, you should help us fight the forces of separatism. That is the way that you do it in the Province of Quebec, at least that is the way that he was convinced about.
I want to in this committee at this time say to Mr. Lapierre, and perhaps some of the other members opposite, that in my subsequent analysis of what happened, that 60-40 vote was composed of a couple of mentalities, I think the 40 percent vote you could probably split in half and half of those people voted in the belief that the federal system cannot work, never will be able to work, but the other half of that vote voted in the
belief that the federal system was not working and maybe there was a better system. As Mr. Epp was reading out today’s report from the Gallup, what those numbers represent to me today is Canadians saying to the Government of the day that the process is unCanadian, that federalism is not unilateral determination, federalism is not the process that we are engaged in, and that is the beginning of the separatism concept when people believe federalism is not working, That is how it begins.
In my region of the country that feeling is four to one today, that as we move forward on this constitution, federalism and this process is not working and what I fight on a daily basis in my riding is that tendency to move to the next step, to the belief that it cannot work, because if we move to the next step, with that proportion of people, to the belief that federalism cannot work, then truly we have behaved in a fashion in the Parliament of Canada which separates Canada from Canadians.
That is the thing that exists in my region, and the double barrelled process of separating us from our belief in our economic growth potential is not as damaging and does not lend itself to the separatist cause nearly as much as the process of that separation, the unilateral imposition of economic factors, the unilateral imposition of substantial change in the constitution of Canada without due process. Each day, each hour provides credibility to those who preach the doctrine that federalism cannot work, and it is in that context, Mr. Chairman, that I appeal to the members opposite to carefully consider the amendments proposed from this side because the common characteristic they share is an extension of process, an extension of the possibility that federalism can work, and it provides us with the ammunition that we need to be persuasive with the people of our region that federalism can work, federalism will work, and it is in that context that I urge support for the amendments that are moved on this side.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Hawkes. The Honourable Mr. Mackasey.
Mr. Mackasey: A few words, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Tremblay asked me to answer, and rather than interrupt his train of thought I thought I would wait, and I gather what Senator Tremblay was referring to was the fact that I had pointed out quite proudly on behalf of all of us the number of groups that have appeared before us and the number of witnesses, and Senator Tremblay then asked the question whether the groups who arrived from Quebec are representative of Quebec. Am I right in that? C’est bien ça?
Senator Tremblay: I made the following remark to the effect that the groups we received here to date cannot be perceived as being representative of the totality of Quebec.
Mr. Mackasey: I quite agree.
And what Senator Tremblay has pointed out is that the groups who have arrived here from Quebec are not necessarily representative of the majority of the people of Quebec, and
that is true. They are Canadians, as such they are not second class citizens in this country, they are English speaking Canadians who happen to reside in the Province of Quebec, exercising their democratic privilege of requesting to be present. Now, I think, I hope the inference on Senator Tremblay . . .
Senator Tremblay: On a point of privilege. Do you mind, Mr. Mackasey?
I tried to put it as delicately as possible without saying outright that groups in question were minority groups. You are converting my, shall we say, generously-phrased remarks in a way which I do not accept and that is why I have just raised my point of privilege.
Mr. Mackasey: We have no problem on that. There are minorities, but they are also Canadians who happen to be a minority. We all are. I think the important point that Senator Tremblay was stressing, and which I agree with the Senator, that if there are any groups from the Province of Quebec representing the majority who want to be heard and who have not been heard, then I would be as upset as Senator Tremblay may or may not be, but I must point out to the Committee that the witnesses are chosen by what we call the bus squad, or the traffic group or whatever, and there I presume all parties have an input in determining which groups come from where.
Now, for instance, Mr. Chairman, I asked this, was there a request by the Province of Quebec as there was, say, from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick to appear here and who were here, and whether a request from anybody representing the Province of Quebec to appear, and if so, and we refused, I would be very upset.
Now, I have gone over the list and I have found that there had been some requests from the Society St. Jean Baptiste of Quebec and if so, why not recognize them, why not invite them? Well, I know but Senator Tremblay is probably unaware that you have. I am just raising the question, I just want to make the point that if there are French speaking groups from Quebec who want to appear and who are more representative than Senator Tremblay seems to think positive action which he mentioned, the group that were here this afternoon, were not representative of the majority but are Quebeckers, and I have got to come back to that point. If however there are people that in Senator Tremblay’s mind are more representative of Quebec, whatever that means, then for goodness sake I would suggest that you ask Senator Tremblay to pick the groups out and if one or two of them happens to be members of the Society St. Jean Baptiste, by all means have them, because I still have a card, I joined that organization 44 years ago and renewed my membership every year and I would be awfully happy to be here when they appear.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Merci, monsieur Mackasey. Mr. Nystrom has requested to speak in conclusion.
Mr. Nystrom: I will be very brief and I wanted to say two things. The first thing, I think Senator Tremblay is still here?
Senator Tremblay: Listening.
Mr. Nystrom: I would like to tell Mr. Tremblay that I agree with him.
I do believe that we need more French speaking witnesses from the Province of Quebec before this committee. I have made that representation two or three times to date to the traffic committee and I totally agree with Mr. Tremblay and I insist that the Liberal party do the same thing.
In our list of groups who want to come before this committee, we have many francophone groups from Quebec and I will mention five or six.
For example, we have the New Democratic Party of Quebec, Mr. Jean-Denis Lavigne, we have the l’Union Nationale from Quebec, their leader Mr. Michel Lemoignan. We also have five members from the National Assembly of the Province of Quebec. There is also the Group for Political Rights in the Quebec as well as another group called the Economic Expansion Council and we also have, on page 14, the Société nationale des Québecois des Cantons as well as the Société St-Jean-Baptiste from Montreal and the Société St-Jean Baptiste from the Mauricie.
I just want to say, Mr. Chairman, that those are only a few of the groups in Quebec and I want to reinstate my position again that we should be hearing a number of these groups because there have been some imbalances before this Committee and one of the imbalances has been the lack of an adequate number of groups from francophone Quebec. It is very, very important I think that we have that proper balance. I just want to make that point very, very clear.
The only other point I wanted to make was that Mr. Beatty was talking about a maximum of only five expert witnesses coming before the Committee. I want to say that the motion that has been put before us today that we support includes the five expert witnesses but we have also moved an amendment that was accepted by Senator Austin and Mr. Epp which says that we will also have a chance to hear further witnesses after January 9 when their testimony may be of assistance to this Committee; so we are leaving that door open, and that is an amendment that has been agreed to by Mr. Epp and by Mr. Austin.
I also wanted to make the point, Mr. Chairman, that a lot of people here seem to have forgotten, it was made in part by Mr. Hawkes, that in addition to all of the people that are requesting to appear before the Committee, there are also a number of people who have submitted written briefs. We, for one group, have made a point of reading and studying those briefs and that is an important way as well to make representations before this Committee.
I do not know what the Conservative Party wants to do. They mentioned that we have over 400 groups or individuals who want to appear. Do they want us to hear every single one of those? I have not heard what their idea is or what their suggestion is. If we were to have, say, 2,000 groups, would they want to hear every one of those 2,000 groups? I am not sure of that, Mr. Chairman; or would they arbitrarily draw the line at 1,000 groups.
We have made it very clear what we want. We want to hear as many groups and individuals as possible up until January 9 when we start looking at this resolution article by article because we believe that out of fairness to our witnesses that we should now listen to them, we should now respond to them. Otherwise the fact that we have brought them here has been a farce and we intend to take that two-pronged approach, not only to have them here to hear their point of view, but to really listen to them and respond to them and try to make this a piece of legislation that will be a consensus building thing for all of Canada.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Nystrom.
As there are no more speakers on my list I understand that honourable members would be ready for the question to be put.
If I can have the agreement of Mr. Epp, I would suggest that we proceed with the vote on a paragraph by paragraph basis, if you agree to that. It will make our vote proceeding easier, I think.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Chairman, that is acceptable to me.
Mr. Robinson: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Robinson on a point of order.
Mr. Robinson: Just on a point of order, just for clarification, I would like to indicate that I am prepared to withdraw the amendment that I moved to the motion, on the understanding that the Minister of Justice will be tabling the information requested before this Committee rises on December 19.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Agreed. There seems to be unanimous consent to the effect that Mr. Robinson can withdraw his motion.
So the amendment we have before us read as follows:
That the Committee receive applications for the appearance of witnesses until December 17, 1980 and receive briefs in writing until December 31, 1980.
The suggestion is that the motion be amended in paragraph 1 by deleting the words “December 17, 1980” and substituting the following words; “December 31, 1980.”
All those in favour of the amendment please—Mr. Epp.
Mr. Epp: A point of order.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Epp.
Mr. Epp: It would be my recommendation that we not have a recorded vote on every paragraph or every amendment that I have made but that we have a recorded after we have disposed of all the amendments and are looking at the main motion.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Agreed. Do the honourable members agree?
The motion is lost.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): We will therefore get back to the main motion. All those in favour of the amendment as read?
All those in favour of the motion?
Mr. Epp: Mr. Chairman, I am sorry, maybe I was not clear on procedure. I thought that you would proceed . . .
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): If I may complete the vote. and then you can raise the point of order.
Mr. Epp: I am sorry.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): All those opposed to the motion?
The motion is passed.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Epp on a point of order.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Chairman, the reason that I wanted to be recognized before the vote was taken, it was my understanding that the whole motion stands in the name of the government and so I do not think we have to go through it paragraph by paragraph as far as a government motion is concerned. it was my idea that you would take every amendment, that that would be on division, and then one vote on the total package. I thought I had made that clear and that is why I was confused with the method you were adopting.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): So it is agreed, I consider that we have voted on the first paragraph and I will continue as you suggested for the following paragraphs. Is that agreeable?
So that the motion be amended by adding the following new paragraph after paragraph 2,
That the Committee advertise in Canadian newspapers the date for receipt of written briefs and applications for witnesses to appear before the Committee is December 31, 1980.
All those in favour of this amendment please raise their hands?
The motion is lost.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): The next amendment is to the effect that the motion be amended in paragraph 3 by deleting the words “January 9, 1981” . . .
Mr. Robinson: a point of order.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Robinson on a point of order.
Mr. Robinson: Mr. Chairman, I do not believe it was the intention of the Committee to negate any possibility of advertising. I would think, hopefully, an amendment would be in order and I would like to propose an amendment as follows . . .
Some hon. Members: No, no.
Mr. Robinson: An amendment is in order.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Robinson, I think that at this point we are in the voting process and if you have anything to add to the motion as it will be voted by the
honourable members I might recognize you after, but at this point I think we should proceed with the vote.
Mr. Robinson: I will move it at the end, Mr. Chairman, thank you.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you. The next amendment that should be considered is the effect that the motion be amended in paragraph 3 by deleting the words “January 9, 1981″ and substituting the following words” January 25, 1981.”
All those in favour of the amendment, please raise their hands.
The motion is lost.
The next amendment that should be considered reads to the effect that the motion be amended by deleting paragraph 6 and substituting the following paragraph:
That the Committee agree to receive individual witnesses to be selected and scheduled by the Subcommittee.
All those in favour of the amendment, please raise their hands?
The motion is lost.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): The next amendment that we should consider reads to the effect that the motion be amended in paragraph 4 by deleting the words “January 12, 1981” and substituting the following words “January 26, 198l”.
All those in favour of the amendment please raise their hands?
The motion is lost.
The Joint Chairman (M. Joyal): So we are now coming back to the proposition of. . .
Mr. Beatty: Mr. Chairman, on a point of order, I moved at the beginning of my remarks that clause 5 be struck and deleted.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): The next amendment that is proposed by the honourable . . .
Senator Austin: No, I said, Mr. Chairman, to be very clear, l said that Mr. Beatty’s proposal was not acceptable to this side.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): So I then suggest that we proceed with the vote.
The amendment to the motion reads that paragraph 5 of the motion be deleted.
All those in favour of the amendment please raise their hands? All those opposed to the motion?
Some hon. Members: Ah, ah!
Mr. McGrath: Let the record show the NDP abstains.
The motion is lost.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): So we are going back. . . Mr. Robinson.
Mr. Robinson: Mr. Chairman, if I may I would like to propose an amendment to the motion, if I can just find it here. It would be a new paragraph 2.
That the Committee advertise as soon as possible in Canadian newspapers that the deadline for receipt of written briefs is December 31, 1980 and the deadline for applications for witnesses to appear before the Committee is December 17, 1980.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): The honourable Jake Epp.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Chairman, I believe the vote having been taken on the amendment that I had proposed earlier, that that vote has been decided on, namely on the written briefs December 31, so that part of the motion is clearly out of order, Therefore, in view of the fact that it was part of that motion, the entire motion is out of order.
An hon. Member: The NDP voted it down.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Robinson.
Mr. Robinson: Mr. Chairman, with respect to my friends, Mr. Epp, I do not believe that that is the case. We want to make very clear that the principle of advertising, that Canadians be aware that they have the right to submit briefs and to appear before this Committee is clearly understood. What was voted against was the date of December 31 and this motion would make it clear that we should inform Canadians that they have the right to appear and that they have the right to submit written briefs.
I suggest, Mr. Chairman, the motion is entirely in order.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Before I recognize the honourable James McGrath, if Mr. Robinson can hand a copy of his motion to our Clerk so I can have a close look at it and give an opinion on it.
An hon. Member: If you need an expert witness, we can supply one.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Robinson, I think after having read carefully your motion I recognize that the honourable James McGrath was right because part of your motion has been already voted on by this Committee, and I will read to you the point of your motion and the point of the amendment that we have voted down which are similar.
The date to receive briefs is December 31 and this Committee has voted down the advertisement in favour for reception of brief December 31 and you are requesting in your motion that receipt of written briefs be December 31 and be advertised in the paper.
So we have already voted down part of your motion and as written I cannot accept it.
Mr. Robinson: Mr. Chairman, if the Conservative Party does not wish to advertise the new deadline date as agreed upon by this Committee for the receipt of written briefs, that is their decision.
An Hon. Member: You voted against it.
Mr. Robinson: If they do not wish to advertise the new date, that is their decision. However certainly I would suggest that it
would be entirely in order to at the very least advertise a new date for the receipt of applications for witnesses to appear before this Committee and if the Conservative Party will not accept, as I say, the right of Canadians to be informed of the deadline for submission of briefs, that is their decision, but I would at the very least urge you, Mr. Chairman, to accept an amendment that would advertise the date for submission of applications to appear before the Committee as being December 17.
Mr. McGrath: Mr. Chairman, I would submit that you have ruled and our position is that we have no intention of getting the NDP off the limb that they are out on.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Nystrom?
Mr. Nystrom: Since you have ruled that motion out of order, and to get around Mr. McGrath’s point, because I am sure he wants to let the people know, I move that this Committee advertise in Canadian newspapers that the date for applications for witnesses to appear before the Committee is December 17. We have not, Mr. Chairman, made a decision on that. The reason that we voted against the motion of Mr. Epp is that technically, in my opinion, the motion was out of order anyway because on the first amendment we made a decision that the deadline for application to appear be December 17, Mr. Chairman. Then Mr. Epp had a motion before us that we advertise the deadline be December 31. That is terribly inconsistent. It is like being both progressive and conservative and I cannot really understand that.
We say on one hand. in one moment, that the deadline is December 17 and a few moments later we vote that the deadline to advertise is December 31. It is inconsistent and there is no way that anyone in his right mind could vote yes for such a crazy motion.
Therefore I want to put before this Committee that we now advertise that the date for people to apply to be heard is December 17.
Now, if the Conservatives do not want to advertise that people have the right to come before this Committee then it is to their own people and the people of Canada that they have to answer and respond, but we want to make it very clear that we should advertise like we did back in November, the deadline was November 24 or 25, that the new deadline is December 17, we have already made our decision four or five weeks ago. I think we should make a similar decision now.
I am waiting and I am anticipating with great interest the response of the Conservative Party on this and I am sure Senator Austin will be very generous and very consistent and vote the same way as you did back in November.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Nystrom. Honourable Jake Epp.
Mr. Epp: Very briefly, Mr. Chairman, I await a ruling from you whether or not that motion is in order. While I look at my second amendment, at that time we moved that the Committee advertise in the Canadian newspapers and that the receipt both for written briefs and for witnesses be December 31.
I believe the Committee has ruled on it, but I say this to you. Mr. Chairman, as you as the Chair and the clerks of the Committee find that motion in order though we prefer the December 31 date. the December 17 date at least gives us advertising and we will support it on that basis.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Mr. Mackasey.
Mr. Mackasey: I think Senator Austin should speak first.
Senator Austin: I very much appreciate what Mr. Epp has just said and it seems to me that there is a logical inconsistency to be solved. If Mr. Epp agrees that there ought to be advertising as to the date of December 17 for the appearance of witnesses, I am sure he does not want to be left in the position where he would not want the ad to include that this Committee would receive briefs and writing unil December 31, 1980 and therefore, it being in the power of this Committee, if we can agree unanimously to reverse what we may have done and done inadvertenly, perhaps it can be agreed unanimously that we advertise forthwith that we will continue to receive applications for the appearances of witnesses until December 17 and that we will continue to receive briefs in writing until December 31, 1980. This side will support that particular motion.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Chairman, should you find that motion in order, I do not mind giving the Liberals again an opportunity to extricate themselves out of the mire that they put themselves into. That will be acceptable to us.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you Senator Austin. Thank you, Mr. Epp.
Mr. Beatty, please.
Mr. Nystrom: Mr. Chairman, in the spirit of Christmas, I see that we have now rescued the Conservative Party. We pulled them out of the fire, despite Mr. McGrath’s intervention on a point of order to try to stop this reasonable and sensible approach of my colleague, Mr. Robinson.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Nystrom. [Translation] Order please.
Mr. Beatty: Mr. Chairman, it is hard to follow this comic routine from Mr. Nystrom. Mr. Epp has indicated that we would support an amended motion, with unanimous consent, but I just want to put on the record so that the Canadian public and members of the Committee are aware of what exaclty we are voting on here, the NDP have voted not to extend the date for receipt for applications to be heard from December 17 to December 31. What they have said is that that deadline will be imposed one week from today, on December 17.
Mr. Chairman, the motion that was accepted by the Committee reads that the Committee receive applications, in other words, those applications have to be in the hands of the Committee one week today.
Senator Austin: On the contrary, On communications to us, if there is a post mark bearing the date December 17, that is constructive receipt.
Mr. Beatty: Mr. Chairman, Senator Austin may very well want to take a look at the wording of the motion which he put which says that the Committee receive applications for the appearance of witnesses until December 17, 1980. It does not say post-marked prior to, it says receive until. What Senator Austin has done to the people of British Columbia is that the wording of this, and I would be glad t have a ruling from you on that, the wording on the resolution as moved by Senator Austin is that if a letter is in the mail and has not been received by the Committee by December 17, 1980, one week today, those people are out of luck.
Let me complete my remarks, Senator Austin, because again if you want uanimous consent to get you off the hook on which you have put yourself I am prepared t give it, but the motion is very clear that if it is in the mail and has not arrived one week today then the Liberals and NDP have voted that these people not be heard.
Mr. Chairman, if that is the case it is a fair question to ask that with advertising what sort of lead time is necessary to advertise this extension for one week today.
So what the Liberals and NDP have done in their generosity is to give maybe one or two days notice to people to get submissions to Ottawa and certainly, Mr. Chairman, the advice of members on this side of the Committee would be that the only effective way is to telex or telephone the Committee to ensure that people are not denied that right to be heard.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Thank you, Mr. Beatty.
Senator Austin: On one clear point that was raised by Mr. Beatty and attributed to me, I want to make it clear that if Mr. Beatty sends me his good wishes I am prepared to receive his good wishes. I may get them by telephone or telex or I may receive them by mail but I will receive them, and it is a matter of law that any document that bears a post-mark on a certain day is constructively to be received as of the post-marked day. I may be a little bit mislead by my own legal training but I wanted to make very clear that that was the implied assumption of my comment.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Honourable Jake Epp.
Mr. Epp: I have a question of Senator Austin. In view of the fact that he has now agreed to the January 9 date and wants to advertise up to December 17, if a request is received after January 9 does he intend to hear that request.
Senator Austin: We would take it into account as if it were received up to and including December 17, Mr. Epp. I said we will take it into account as if it were received up until December 17.
Mr. Epp: What does that mean?
Senator Austin: That means that if that testimony is in the opinion of this Committee likely to be of assistance to the Committee we will certainly be prepared to receive it.
Mr. Epp: Who will make that decision?
Senator Austin: I presume the steering committee and then this Committee in the usual way.
Mr. Epp: Do I have your assurance that you will look at that openly rather than in the manner in which you have been looking . . .
Senator Austin: Do not impute motives to me of a negative kind.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Order, please.
Mr. Robinson: Mr. Chairman, I wonder if I might attempt to clarify what I understand has been given unanimous consent to. Do I understand that the Committee is now prepared to give unanimous consent to the proposition that the Committee should advertise forthwith in Canadian newspapers the deadline that we have agreed upon for the receipt of written briefs, which is December 31, and the deadline for receipt of application for witnesses to appear which is December 17, and that the Committee understands very clearly that the date of post-mark is to be deemed the date of receipt.
Some hon. Members: Agreed, agreed.
Mr. Beatty: Mr. Chairman, is that the ruling you have made on the question of receipt—Senator Austin referred to the question of sending before December 17 but the motion which he moved says received, and I would like a ruling from you on that.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Yes, according to my own legal ruling in the written law which is the French Civil Code in Quebec, it has always been upheld that the date that the letter or parcel is in the mail box is the date of reception and according to common law I understand that the procedure is the same, so it is very clear on my side that even though a letter informing us that a group or individual citizens want to appear, even though we should receive that letter by December 20 or December 23, if the stamp on the envelope is December 17, I would consider that we have received that letter in proper time.
With the same proviso as was recognized by Senator Austin that if a witness or a group inform us on January 9, I think it would be a matter given over to consideration by the honourable members of this Committee. If the honourable members of this Committee are of the opinion that such a witness would be an important assistance or of assistance and it would be agreeable to the honourable members to hear them. That is the way I understand it. That is the way that I read the consensus here around the table.
Mr. McGrath: That is agreeable.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): So, if the honourable members of the Committee agree, I would like to complete now the vote on the motion as amended.
I understand that a recorded vote has been requested.
The members have agreed to have a registered vote on the motion as amended. May I then request the Joint Clerks to. . .
Motion carried: yeas 16, nays 8.
Senator Austin: Mr. Chairman, would you now put the motion which I referred to that the Committee agree to receive a maximum of five individual witnesses, two to be selected by
the government members of the Committee, two to be selected by the Official Opposition members of the Committee, and one to be selected by the New Democratic Party?
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Well, I understand that it is part of your original motion. That is the way I received your motion.
Senator Austin: I see. Fine. I am glad to have that verified. Thank you.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): Fine.
Honourable Jake Epp.
Mr. Epp: Before you call the motion.
An hon. Member: There is no motion.
Mr. Epp: Fine. It has been disposed of.
The Joint Chairman (Mr. Joyal): I understand that there are no more interventions. I declare the meeting adjourned to tomorrow morning at 10.30 when we will receive the representatives of the Media Club of Canada.
The meeting is adjourned.
From the National Congress of Italian-Canadians (Quebec Region):
Miss Rita Desantis, Spokesperson;
Mr. Giovanni Molina, President;
Mr. Antonio Sciascia, Legal Advisor.