Canada, House of Commons Debates, “Emergency Measures”, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess (29 March 1982)

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Date: 1982-03-29
By: Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Canada, House of Commons Debates, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, 1982 at 15896-15897.
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Mr. Svend J. Robinson (Burnaby): Madam Speaker, my supplementary question is directed to the Prime Minister. When the Prime Minister invoked the War Measures Act in 1970, he trampled on and overrode the fundamental rights protected by the Canadian Bill of Rights.

Some hon. Members: It was Parliament.

Mr. Robinson (Burnaby): He now proclaims that the Charter of Rights will protect Canadians from abuses under the emergency planning order which, among other things, will allow him to impose sweeping censorship and to commandeer all media for an unlimited period of time.

Is the Prime Minister prepared to assure the House that under no circumstances will his government make use of the “notwithstanding” clause in the Charter of Rights to deny, during times of emergency, the fundamental rights of all Canadians, or is the Charter of Rights to become as useless during times of emergency as was the Canadian Bill of Rights when the Prime Minister said, “Just watch me”, in 1970?

Some hon. Members: Oh, oh!

Right Hon. P. E. Trudeau (Prime Minister): Madam Speaker, I would first point out to the hon. member that the War Measures Act was adopted in 1970 with the concurrence of hon. members on both sides of this House.

Mr. Clark: With information withheld.

Mr. Trudeau: Second, the “notwithstanding” clause was brought into the Charter, as the hon. member knows, at the insistence of the provinces. The federal government had a Charter which did not have a “notwithstanding” clause. I am sorry that the hon. member, personally, if my recollection is correct, did not support it. However, I do know that one of the leading forces in introducing a “notwithstanding” clause was Premier Blakeney of Saskatchewan. I would hope that that hon. member would use his influence to get Premier Blakeney, along with other premiers, to revert to the original bill that we had.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

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