Canada, House of Commons Debates, “British North America Act, 1867—Motion to Amend”, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess (20 November 1980)
By: Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Canada, House of Commons Debates, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, 1980 at 4909-4916.
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PRIVATE MEMBERS’ PUBLIC BILLS
BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT, 1867
MEASURE TO AMEND
Mr. David Kilgour (Edmonton-Strathcona): Mr. Speaker, with respect to what the hon. member has just said I would profoundly disagree with virtually all of it. I do not think it is unparliamentary to say it represents nothing but hypocricy from the first word he said to the last. As the Civil Liberties Association pointed out in the committee hearings, what the so-called rights in this charter of rights represent is a diminution in the rights of Canadians. For instance, the first section says:
—subject only to such reasonable limits as are generally accepted in a free and democratic society with a parliamentary system of government.
As you will be aware, Mr. Speaker, the Civil Liberties Association and a number of other groups have indicated, these words give the government the right to use the War Measures Act and provide other ways in it they can encroach on the freedom of Canadians and say there is a constitutional right to use such measures. Looking through these so-called rights and freedoms I suggest we will hear from all of the thoughtful people appearing before the committee that they represent a reduction rather than an entrenchment of any rights for Canadians. The section with respect to native rights is, perhaps, as hypocritical as any other in the charter. I will read it:
The guarantee in this charter of certain rights and freedoms shall not be construed as denying the existence of any other rights or freedoms that exist in Canada, including any rights or freedoms that pertain to the native peoples of Canada.
I suggest that “native peoples of Canada” is an afterthought. I ask the hon. member on the government side who just spoke: what single native person, native group or association has spoken in favour of section 24? I submit there is not a single native person in Canada who agrees with what I call the nonsense we have just heard from the parliamentary secretary. That ought to be a pretty good test of whether the native people in Canada have any conviction that the government is trying to protect their rights. One could give a litany of what members opposite have done over many years to try to reduce the rights of native people, rights under their treaties and under the Indian Act. Incidentally, I would agree with everything that has been said by the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de- Grâce (Mr. Allmand). I think he expressed sentiments, as did the hon. member from the eastern Arctic, which the vast majority of members in my party agree with.
The point government members do not understand is that many natives in this country believe they have a special relationship with the monarch, that is, the monarch of Great Britain. This was better said by the hon. member for Notre- Dame-de-Grâce than I have said it. The native people feel that this relationship is severed by this charter of rights and that they would be losing something. This has been made clear to every member in this House. The special relationship they value has been referred to many times; they talk about the honour of the Queen and say it should not be jeopardized by violating their treaty rights and other of their accumulated rights.
The subject of aboriginal title has been mentioned as well. I do not think the parliamentary secretary appreciates that the concept of aboriginal title has been recognized in civilized countries, including the United States, where aboriginal title has been bought out or terminated at a cost in compensation of some $4 billion. Members opposite do not even recognize aboriginal title despite their charter on the subject. I think it is time that members like the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce spoke individually to members of the Liberal caucus about this.