Canada, House of Commons Debates, Question Period—The Constitution, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess (16 November 1981)

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Date: 1981-11-16
By: Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Canada, House of Commons Debates, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, 1981 at 12777, 12779, 12783-12784.
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[Page 12777]



Mr. Edward Broadbent (Oshawa): Madam Speaker, my question is addressed to the minister responsible for the status of women. The minister knows that following certain answers given by the Prime Minister with respect to Clause 28 in the old constitutional resolution, the precise meaning and significance of that clause are unclear. She also knows that there have been discussions taking place, as I understand it, between the federal and provincial officials in recent days. I wonder if she is now in a position to outline to the House the precise meaning of that clause.

Hon. Judy Erola (Minister of State (Mines)): Madam Speaker, I will be happy to answer the question. The precise meaning of the clause as we sec it, is that Section 15, where the nonobstante applies, refers to the specific definition of sexual discrimination for a very specific act. In Clause 28 the broad principle is stated, one in which the women of Canada are very much interested and are very positive about. They wish this to remain within the charter, of course. I should like Oral Questions to advise hon. members that we are optimistic at this stage and hope that Clause 28 in the general section will remain intact. We may know by the end of the day.


Mr. Edward Broadbent (Oshawa): Madam Speaker, as I understand the minister’s answer, the position of the federal government is to maintain the force of Clause 28 as it now is. She has indicated, though, that there is not yet agreement on that, I assume, by all those provinces that have participated in the accord. Since it has been suggested that we may well have a resolution before the House on Thursday of this week, may I ask the minister if she is prepared to assure the House that we will know ahead of that time what the precise meaning of Clause 28 is in terms of an accord that has been reached between the federal government and the provinces?

Hon. Judy Erola (Minister of State (Mines)): Yes, Madam Speaker, I can assure the hon. member that hopefully by this evening we will have the precise meaning and the terms of the agreement with the premiers.


Miss Pauline Jewett (New Westminster-Coquitlam): Madam Speaker, my question is also for the minister responsible for the status of women. I am very pleased indeed, as I am sure all members of the House are, by the answer the minister has given that Clause 28, the equality clause, will remain intact, just as it is now.

If I may, I should like to congratulate the minister on opening her office to the representatives of millions of Canadian women who are extremely concerned that Clause 28 be kept intact.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Miss Jewett: We are very glad to join in the applause.

Article 2(a) of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women requires state parties to “undertake to embody the principle of equality of men and women in their national constitutions”. My first question was to have been whether the federal government still supports this convention and I take it the answer is yes. May I ask the minister whether it has been brought to the attention of the provinces that a serious violation of this convention would be brought about if Clause 28 were eliminated, overridden, or changed in any way?

Hon. Judy Erola (Minister of State (Mines)): Yes, Madam Speaker, that has been a very forceful part of the argument presented to the premiers.

[Page 12779]



Mr. Dave Nickerson (Western Arctic): Madam Speaker, in the absence of the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister, maybe I should address my question to the acting prime minister, who might be familiar with the the Prime Minister’s schedule. As he will be aware, the entire legislative assembly of the Northwest Territories has come to Ottawa with the specific purpose of meeting with the Prime Minister concerning the Constitution. The Assembly has legitimate fears that the present colonial status in the north will be entrenched as a result of the proposal. I wonder if we could be advised whether a meeting has been put together yet, and at what time and place this meeting might take place.

Hon. John C. Munro (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development): Madam Speaker, I reply to the hon. member by telling him that, yes, they did meet with me about 1.30, just prior to the question period.

Mr. Nielsen: His high ambitions know no bounds.

Mr. Munro (Hamilton East): They will be meeting with me again around six o’clock tonight, for about an hour. Hopefully, I will have something further to report after that.

Mr. Nickerson: My, how things change! Before asking a supplementary question of the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, I would like to extend to him my heartfelt condolences over certain things which happened in his constituency of Hamilton East over the weekend.

Mr. Jarvis: The Tiger Cats! An hon. Member: So long, Tigers!

Mr. Nickerson: Perhaps he could try to answer the question as to whether or not a meeting with the Prime Minister could be arranged.


Mr. Dave Nickerson (Western Arctic): I would also like to ask the minister the following question. When a new proposal is again put before this Parliament, can the minister ensure that the concept will be retained that creation of new provinces out of existing territories, not affecting existing provincial boundaries, lies solely within federal jurisdiction?

Hon. John C. Munro (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development): Madam Speaker, as the hon. member well knows, the accord agreed to between the provinces quite clearly indicates otherwise. That is the Vancouver formula without the compensation aspect to it. It does involve the provinces in consent of the nature the hon. member just identified. That is a situation with which we are faced. I am hearing the concerns of the northerners with respect to it, but I am assuming at this stage that any change in that respect would involve some amendment to the accord. I am not at all sure that we or many hon. members of the House would be prepared to contemplate that at this stage.

[Page 12783]



Mr. Jesse P. Flis (Parkdale-High Park): Madam Speaker, in the absence of the Minister of Justice my question is for the Acting Prime Minister. One of my constituents, Captain Ross Stevenson, the Air Canada pilot who obtained an injunction against Air Canada to allow him to work past the mandatory retirement age of 60, is presently awaiting the December 17 appeal hearing by Air Canada and the Canadian Airline Pilots Association. Would the Acting Prime Minister tell this House, in view of the accord signed on November 5 to patriate the Constitution with a Charter of Rights and Freedoms, whether Section 15 of the charter specifically concerning mandatory retirement will come into effect immediately after the Constitution is patriated, or will there be a waiting period, and could he further tell this House whether or not Captain Stevenson will be allowed to work for Air Canada past the age of 60?

Hon. Jean-Luc Pepin (Minister of Transport): Madam Speaker, I remember looking at this case previously. I have not looked at it recently, but, if my memory serves me well, there was a difference in the retirement ages in the different airlines. This matter is the subject of agreement between the employers and the employees. The aspect of the question having to do with the Constitution escapes me for the moment, but I will look into it and speak with the hon. member on the point.

[Page 12784]




Mr. André Maltais (Manicouagan): Madam Speaker, in the absence of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice, my question is directed to the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources. Considering statements made by the Prime Minister of Canada this weekend, when he said that be was prepared to reopen negotiations witb Quebec on a number of pre-conditions which he had defined, and considering the fact that the Premier of the PQ government bas apparently decided to drop the association formula, does the Government of Canada intend to await Quebec’s official reply before starting negotiations with that government with a view to reaching an agreement? Second, is it still possible to recognize the PQ government as a valid or representative government—

Madam Speaker: Order, please. I am sorry, but constitutional matters are not the responsibility of the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources.

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