Canada, House of Commons Debates, “Provision Respecting Women’s Rights”, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess (6 November 1981)

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Date: 1981-11-06
By: Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Canada, House of Commons Debates, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, 1981 at 12594-12595.
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[Page 12594]



Miss Pauline Jewett (New Westminster-Coquitlam): Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the minister responsible for the status of women my question is for the Prime Minister. As the Prime Minister knows, Clause 28 of the constitutional resolution is a paramountcy clause outside the charter. I remind him that Clause 28 is the one saying

Notwithstanding anything in this Charter, the rights and freedoms referred to in it are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.

What I would like to ask the Prime Minister is if he can tell the House whether Clause 28 will continue to have paramountcy. That is, will it override any attempts made to deny equality to women?

Right Hon. P. E. Trudeau (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker, I can only answer that my impression is that the clause would continue. I have not been involved in the drafting which went on between provincial and federal officials yesterday afternoon and, I believe, during the night as well.

I cannot answer firmly but I want to tell the hon. member—and this applies also to the Standing Order 43 motion put by the member for Malahat-Cowichan-The Islands—is that we took the draft presented to us by the seven premiers. They had made a lot of deletions from our original draft which is before the House. One of those deletions was precisely the clause concerning aboriginal rights. They are the ones who deleted it. If there was any deletion of the clause that concerns the hon. member—

An hon. Member: You agreed to it.

Mr. Trudeau: I understand. I agreed to a lot of things that were not my first choice, yesterday. That must be understood. I was looking for a consensus, and I got a consensus.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Trudeau: When the member is finished shaking his fist he can realize that I sought a consensus on the basis of a series of deletions to our charter, the best charter in the world which I believe some of the members over there supported. I accepted a consensus put to me by seven premiers. There were some

[Page 12595]

deletions, and aboriginal rights was one of them. Maybe the other clause was another. I am not sure. I will have to check that, and that is why I say I will see what was done on the drafting overnight.

I cannot conceive how the member from Malahat-Cowichan- The Islands could come out with an untruth as enormous as the one he did when he said that Saskatchewan was supporting aboriginal rights and somehow we were not. It is Saskatchewan and the other six that put to us a draft without aboriginal rights. It is in the discussion that ensued that I said I found that difficult to accept. but if they were facing me with this draft could we at least have a federal-provincial conference agreed where we would try to see what the native people agreed to among themselves, assuming they can agree among themselves, and that is far from certain, but I said let us at least give them a chance to meet with us. That is how it happened.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

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