Canada, House of Commons Debates, “Resolution Respecting Constitution Act, 1981”, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess (12 March 1981)
By: Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Canada, House of Commons Debates, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, 1980 at 8174-8189, 8197-8211.
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RESOLUTION RESPECTING CONSTITUTION ACT, 1981
The House resumed debate on the motion of Mr. Chrétien, seconded by Mr. Roberts, for an Address to Her Majesty the Queen respecting the Constitution of Canada.
And on the amendment of Mr. Epp, seconded by Mr. Baker (Nepean-Carleton)—That the motion be amended in Schedule B of the proposed resolution by deleting Clause 46, and by making all necessary changes to the Schedule consequential thereto.
Mr. Gordon Gilchrist (Scarborough East): Mr. Speaker, when the House adjourned yesterday I had just made the point that Canadians have been listening to this constitutional debate with some reluctance, and I wanted to discuss some of the rights which would be lost in the course of the passing of a new Constitution in Canada.
One right in particular which Canadians hold dear and sacrosanct, the right to hold and enjoy property, will be lost. Imagine a government which professes to be that of a free and democratic country not protecting the right of its citizens to own a piece of land or a home. This is a country which has been an inspiration to citizens of the world. Estonians, Italians, Czechoslovakians, Japanese, Ukrainians, Germans, Chinese, citizens from all over the world have looked to Canada as a land to which they could come to join with the rest of us in working for and owning a home or a plot of land. In other words, a stake in Canada of their very own. They will have lost this right to enjoy property because it is just not in the Liberal charter and the present laws will not protect them. The present law will not afford protection because the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) has seen to it that any law inconsistent with the new charter will be inoperative and of no effect.
Since Magna Carta, the common law has guaranteed the right to own property, as do the present laws of Canada. But the new charter does not convey that right. Therefore, since the one is inconsistent with the other, the new charter will prevail and the present right of Canadians to own property will have been lost.
Another serious concern is for the rights of unborn babies. The Supreme Court of Ontario has ruled that a person becomes a person roughly at the time of birth. Entrenching such existing law in this defective charter would deny the rights of unborn children, whose rights even today are jeopardized by far too promiscuous abortion laws. I say correct the law, do not protect bad law.
There are other rights presently enjoyed by Canadians which will be lost also, but time does not permit a long dissertation of lost rights. Some of these rights are very important ones which are supposed to be better safeguarded by the deceptive Liberal charter but which will actually be lost to Canadians.
Let me mention just one more upcoming injustice which could work against any group of Canadians. I refer here to equalization. Much has been said about the need for equalization. We have equalization now. Equalization payments are the means by which Canadians have shared equitably in the wealth of Canada. They are calculated on the basis of revenues and incomes of provinces, figures which can be examined and evaluated by the provinces and from which agreement can be reached as to how much money the provinces will get from the federal government. Under the “divine right of Trudeau” charter, this right will be exclusively that of the federal government, which will be able to distribute provincial revenues at will without disclosing reasons. That should allow even more funds to be channelled to Quebec from the rest of Canada or to any other Liberal provinces.
If hon. members think that such a thing would not happen, that responsible government in Canada would not do such a thing, let us dispel that illusion right here. This very deceptive, undemocratic government is doing that by ripping off fellow Canadians in Alberta and Saskatchewan to provide cheap fuel and fulfil election promises to eastern Canadians. If paying fellow Canadians 40 per cent of the world price of oil just to buy votes, while disregarding the real cost to Canada in lost jobs and foreign oil purchases costing multibillions of dollars a year, is this government’s idea of equalization, it certainly is not mine.
What should this government be doing about our Constitution? For one thing, it should bring the Constitution home to Canada at once. None of us disagrees on that, Instead of trumped-up Brit-bashing, the government should simply petition Westminster to send the Constitution home. Instead of blaming the British for safeguarding the rights of the provincial and federal governments of Canada, a task which Canada asked Britain to do—someone back in 1931 was smart enough to think of that; they must have known what was coming—we should be applauding the British for taking their responsibility seriously, which they always do, and from which I suspect they would like to be released.
Second, the government should find an amending formula by which we can change our Constitution when the need arises. Obviously, the best suggestion to date is the formula we
call the Vancouver consensus because it gives every province the highest degree of equality, consistent with population. It does not give the power of veto to one province over another. In short, it does not create second-class status for all provinces other than Quebec and Ontario.
Furthermore, there is virtual agreement already among the provincial premiers for the Vancouver consensus. Any statesmanlike prime minister would not admit defeat now when agreement is so near. A truly worthy prime minister would drive hard to obtain provincial agreement in a process of nation building. In actual fact, the Prime Minister declared during the past election campaign that he would prefer to wait until Claude Ryan was elected premier of Quebec before resuming discussions on constitutional reform. Something has certainly rushed him forward. But as an architect and as a nation builder, we would not want to accuse our Prime Minister of that. Instead of being a house builder, he is a home wrecker.
For a few moments let us look at the real builders of Canada, including the Macdonalds, the Cartiers, the Browns and others. Let us look back on the events which brought together the founding provinces of this great country of ours. In the 20 years or so prior to confederation and following the Durham report, there existed a period of political instability. Canada came to the recognition that the world was changing and that she must become more self-reliant. In 1845, Great Britain had adopted a laissez-faire attitude and colonies were not being given the trade preferences they had had. Canada needed markets for her goods. In addition there was a growing desire to expand westward, not only for markets, but to cut off United States western expansion which would have turned northwest.
At the apex of this period of instability, George Brown, a Liberal of the day and a far different Liberal from those of today, made a deal which he considered to be in the best interests of Canada with Messrs. Macdonald and Cartier. He said he would support the Conservatives if they would attempt to combine with the maritime provinces of Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to form a federated state which would be big and strong enough to survive against United States expansion.
The result of the 1864 Charlottetown meeting and subsequent Quebec resolutions was the British North America Act, designed in Canada and created by a process of consent. It was a contract, not a conquest. Canada was not born out of revolution or bloodshed. That has not been the Canadian way. It was a contract by consent. The great genius of Canada has always been consent. Even today, in my view, if Quebec or Newfoundland wanted to leave Canada by legitimate means, no one would take up arms against them. We have always agreed. We must always agree. We must not impose; we must have consent.
In 1867 Canadians created this country, this Canada of ours. In I967 Canadians reaffirmed our confederation with the greatest public outpouring of emotion our country had ever seen. We believed in Canada, its beauty, its culture and its social values. A new Constitution was the furthest thing from our minds. Canadians from east and west only wanted to continue the building of a great nation and a great society entering its second century.
Many of us, in an attempt to aid further the improving bonds between Canadians and Quebecers, elected the present Prime Minister, a man we believed would provide the spiritual and emotional link that would further bond two diverse cultures. Many of us agonized through the Official Languages Act which followed and which time has shown has increased the two-language problem and exacerbated our differences. Many of us sat patiently by while Quebec continued to break out of its economic straitjacket with the help of massive federal funding through DREE programs, Hull and Mirabel, federal government multimillion dollar projects and overly large government purchasing programs from Quebec suppliers.
How has all of this paid off for the citizens of the other nine provinces? The solidly Quebec-based Liberal party, with the complicity of the other members who know which side their bread is buttered on, is continuing to create division in a country which should be coming together with a sense of unified purpose—the building of Canada, a unified people working toward a common goal. This Liberal government, not content that it has gained power on a mandate of deceptive energy pricing and control which has totally divided western Canada from the east, has now set about to divide province from province with a new Constitution.
This is not just the perception of one Canadian. If the Prime Minister would cease this haughty arrogance and pay attention to the views and legitimate aims of the provinces, perhaps we could forge a Constitution which would come from the people of Canada, not one imposed on them by a government which is reflecting the views of less than one quarter of Canadians. A majority of seats in this House is a far cry from a majority of the people of Canada. More people in the last election voted against this government than for it.
After all, it is the provinces which more closely represent the wishes, aspirations and hopes of their citizens. If the wishes of the people and the provinces which represent the diverse needs of Canadians are not represented, that is not diversity, that is simply reality and the reality of differing needs will continue even after a new Constitution has been imposed. In fact, the differences will be all the greater after an imposed Constitution than after a Constitution which has been created by the people through their provincial legislatures.
Canada has always had different economic and social conditions. In early times our maritime provinces, the cradle of confederation, also provided the jobs and livelihood of early Canadians. Later, many maritimers went west to Ontario for industrial and mining jobs, enriching the central part of Canada with their presence and their skills. Still later, many central Canadians moved west to seek opportunities provided there. Quebecers have found careers in all parts of Canada and, of course, many citizens from other lands have found
Canada to be a land rich in opportunity. They came from various backgrounds to seek various opportunities in various regions.
Did these citizens from other lands look at Canada and say, “No, I won’t go there; my rights won’t be protected by their laws”? Certainly not. They chose Canada because it provided not only opportunity but guaranteed their rights and their liberties under the finest written and unwritten combination of constitutional rights in the world.
I say to the Prime Minister through you, Mr. Speaker, “If your constitutional package, which Canadians say they do not want but which you say they do want, is a sound one, why not put it to the Canadian people in the form of a referendum?” In fact, this highly controversial package contains provision for a referendum as a “tie-breaking” mechanism for deadlocks between the provinces and the federal government, so why not use it? Why would the government not use the very device it is trying to impose on the democratic process in Canada today?
I will tell you, Mr. Speaker, why it should not be used, and why it must not be included in the proposed amending formula. First, it is totally one-sided. Only the federal government would have the right to call a referendum. In a situation where all ten provinces had agreed on an issue, but the federal government did not agree, one vote out of 11, the federal government, and only the federal government, could unfairly utilize the referendum to carry its way, The ten provinces would not have that right.
Second, a referendum can be written, perhaps I should say manipulated, in such a way as to virtually ensure the answer the writer wants. This is totally unfair to the provincial partners and is contrary to the principles of federation, not to mention the undermining of our democratic system of elected representation.
Earlier I said that Canada was built by and on consent— consent of the provinces to come together, to build together and to prosper together as a federation. Now that federation and that democratic process are to be cast aside by a government which does not reflect the wishes of the majority of Canadians, and even worse, which does not care that it does not reflect that majority.
Before democracy fails totally in Canada, I urge the Prime Minister to change his hard, unbending stance, to conduct himself and his office in the parliamentary and statesmanlike way of his predecessors, and try once more to find the magic of consent, the consent which is Canada. Bring the British North America Act home. Find an amending formula of consent. Take the time to devise a charter of basic rights and freedoms here in Canada, based on the intelligence, regional realities and good will of Canadians.
This is surely not too much to ask. It is surely not too great a task. It is the duty of government to find solutions no matter how difficult. The people expect this and would applaud it. If this government is not equal to the task, this most fundamental and important task of nation building, then it should give way to people who believe in Canada, all of Canada, and who can get agreement and consent among all the provinces, just as the original Conservative government of Macdonald and Cartier did, in I867. I am sure I reflect the hopes of all Canadians.
Hon. Warren Allmand (Notre-Dame-de-Grace-Lachine East): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to enter this debate to support this resolution. I do so with enthusiasm. I do so because I believe it is a major achievement in fulfilling several of my long-standing political goals, goals which originally led me to enter active politics more than 15 years ago. First is the protection of minority rights through entrenchment, including the protection of minority language rights; and, finally, the movement to greater political independence and unity in Canada through patriation, the amending formula and entrenched rights.
While the original resolution tabled last October generally contained these important goals, I believed at that time that it was lacking and defective on several matters, to the extent that I felt obliged to press for amendments and even to vote for them if they were to be presented in this House. This included matters relating to aboriginal rights, language rights and anti-discrimination rights, among others.
I am pleased to say, however, that through the committee process, through lobbying inside and outside this House and through the work of many people, considerable improvement has been made to the resolution. Many amendments were agreed to and I at this time wish to congratulate the government and the Minister of Justice (Mr. Chrétien), who I believe was extremely flexible, extremely objective and who took the time to listen to our arguments and, when the arguments were sound, make the amendments that were necessary.
In the short time available to me today, I can deal with only a few of the many issues and questions relating to this resolution. Consequently, I will restrict my comments, first, to the meaning of entrenchment; second, aboriginal rights; third, language rights; and fourth, the political and legal justification for the process.
First, why entrenchment? Some people that I have spoken to in my riding and across the country do not seem to understand why we need an entrenched charter of rights in the Constitution when we already have a federal Bill of Rights, a Human Rights Act and many provincial laws on human rights. In answer to that question, I should point out with great emphasis that the difference between an ordinary bill of rights, a bill of rights that is incorporated in an ordinary law at the federal or provincial level, cannot prevail over other ordinary legislation, whereas a bill of rights entrenched in the Constitution, as this one is, does prevail over all other legislation, either at the federal or provincial level. I want to read from Section 58(1) because of its importance:
The Constitution of Canada is the supreme law of Canada, and any law that is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution is, to the extent of the inconsistency, of no force or effect.
Therefore, a piece of legislation which is inconsistent with what is in the entrenched charter of rights or in the Constitution is ruled invalid.
The second important reason for having an entrenched bill of rights is that an entrenched bill of rights cannot be amended by the ordinary legislative process as other bills of rights can. In other words, it takes more than an ordinary bill with three readings in the House of Commons and the Senate or provincial legislatures to change rights that are entrenched. In order to remove these rights which will be entrenched in the Constitution we would require an amendment to the Constitution in accordance with the amending formula, which means we would need the agreement of the federal Parliament plus six of the provincial legislatures, including Quebec, Ontario, two western provinces and two Atlantic provinces.
Finally, we need an entrenched bill of rights because, despite our good record in Canada, there have been many bad examples of violation of human rights by individuals, by groups and even by governments. I cite again the example of the Japanese Canadians and their internment during the Second World War; the removal of French-language education rights in Ontario and Manitoba earlier in this century; the recent removal by Bills I01 and 22 of English-speaking rights in Quebec; the attempt by the Alberta government during the 1930s to control the press; and attempts by Premier Duplessis in Quebec to control Jehovah’s Witnesses and minority political parties. These are examples of which we are not proud but which could never have happened had we had the entrenched bill of rights to which I referred.
Second, I want to deal with the aboriginal rights sections in the constitutional proposal and the significance of those sections. They are Sections 25, 33, 35 and parts of the schedule. Of all these sections, Section 33 is the most important. The provisions of Section 33 represent the first time in Canadian history that any government has fully recognized and affirmed aboriginal rights. This recognition and affirmation is not being made in a mere policy statement, or in an ordinary piece of legislation; it is being made in the Constitution where, according to Section 58 which I just read, these rights will prevail over all other legislation, federal and provincial. This recognition and affirmation of aboriginal rights will prevail over the Indian Act, over mining acts, over hunting and fishing acts, over expropriation acts, over the Migratory Birds Convention Act and over the Northwest Territories Act. As it says in the section, any law that is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution is, to the extent of the inconsistency, of no force and effect.
Some people have asked what are aboriginal rights. Most of the 19 or 20 aboriginal groups which appeared before the Constitution committee did not want a detailed definition of aboriginal rights in the Constitution, although they wanted them protected, because they felt a detailed definition might limit and restrict them further down the road. They did not know what might happen further down the road.
I can tell the House that in a general way aboriginal rights are all those rights which our aboriginal peoples held prior to the arrival of the Europeans and which they never willingly gave up. These are the rights to those social structures which they had before the arrival of the Europeans; their laws, their customs, their forms of government, their economies, their languages, their lands and their waters, not just their rights to hunt, fish and gather. While those are important, aboriginal rights are not restricted to those things, and not just surface rights to certain lands. Again, that is important; aboriginal rights are not restricted to those things.
With the inclusion of Section 33 in the Constitution, governments will now have to negotiate with the various Indian bands and Inuit communities regarding the specific content of their aboriginal rights in different parts of the country. The Nishga will have the right to force the British Columbia government and the Canadian government to sit down and consider their claims. The Inuit in the northeast and eastern Arctic, the Micmacs in New Brunswick in respect of their fishing rights in the rivers and off the coast, and the Dene in the Northwest Territories will have that right.
In my opinion, if a provincial or federal government refuses to sit down and discuss these matters with an aboriginal group, or refuses to negotiate, that group could go to court and force them to negotiate under this section in the Constitution. If they did negotiate and there was no agreement reached between the aboriginal group and the governments concerned. again the aboriginal group would have the right to go to court, present their evidence and, by virtue of this Section 33, get recognition of their aboriginal rights in specific places throughout the country.
Some of our Indian groups in this country have doubted this process because of their experience with our courts in the past. They have pointed to the many judgments of courts to which they went in good faith but lost their cases when the courts turned them down. Consequently they have some doubts about a constitutional provision whereby they may have to go to court to have their rights decided by judges, even though they be judges of the Supreme Court of Canada.
Let me say to them that there will be a significant difference now. In the past many of the precedents the judges had to use in deciding cases were precedents decided in the earlier part of this century between provincial or federal governments and companies and in which the Indians and Inuit themselves were not at all involved. They did not have the chance to argue their cases and the courts, of course, must decide in accordance with the law and cannot make judgments on the basis of what they perceive to be justice.
With this section in the Constitution I assure our Indian and Inuit people that things will no longer be the same. Every court will have to take notice of that Section 33 and could never render the types of judgments rendered in the past. In judging every case they will have to take recognition of the fact that the Constitution recognizes and affirms the aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada.
I have referred so far in this section only to aboriginal rights. It also states that the treaty rights of our aboriginal peoples are recognized and affirmed. This is also important because it puts the matters in those treaties over and above all
ordinary legislation. That means that when a treaty comes into conflict with an ordinary provincial or federal law, the constitutional provision and what is contained in the treaty will prevail. That is extremely important because our Indian people have gone to court time and time again in the past when their treaties came into conflict with provincial hunting and fishing laws, mining laws, oil and gas laws as well as federal laws, and the judges have always ruled that the law in question takes precedence over the treaty. This was, by the way, contrary to the experience in the United States. With rights under treaties recognized and guaranteed in the Constitution, they will now take precedence over ordinary legislation.
While Sections 25, 33 and 35 in this proposal represent a great achievement, in my opinion, for the aboriginal peoples of this country, they are not all that is required. In my own private member’s bill, Bill C-212, I have presented several proposals for constitutional protection of Inuit, Indian and aboriginal rights.
One matter that is still left undone—this is not included but I think it should be—is an amending provision whereby we cannot remove these rights we are now putting in without the agreement of our Inuit, Indian and native people. That is very important. We are taking a big step. All political parties on the committee were in agreement with entrenching these rights, and it would be a sad day if, five or ten years from now, with a different composition in this House and with a different composition in provincial legislatures—although they are somewhat similar in provincial legislatures right now—the federal government got together with six provinces and removed those rights without the agreement of our aboriginal peoples.
I understand the national aboriginal associations are now formulating an amendment which would require that these rights could not be affected or removed without the agreement of the aboriginal peoples of Canada. I hope all parties, including the government, will be able to accept that amendment.
Next I want to deal with the language rights provisions in the Constitution. As an anglophone Quebecer, these are of special concern to me and my constituents. Section 133 of the BNA Act provides only minimal protection for language rights. It provides that Canadians can use English or French in the Parliament or courts of Canada, and in the legislature and courts of Quebec. That is all. Many of us believe that Section 93, which specifically protects minority religious education, implicitly protects minority language rights, but that has not yet been decided by the courts and remains unclear. I might say there is a case now before the courts in Quebec brought by the Quebec home and school association against the provisions of Bill 101 on that very issue, but it is not yet decided.
Consequently, with minimal protection for language rights in our present Constitution there is a strong need for the much broader protection the charter gives us. In addition to retaining Sections 133 and 93 of the BNA Act of 1867 and the provisions of the Manitoba Act of I870, the charter also entrenches the main provisions of the federal Official Languages Act and all the provisions of the New Brunswick Official Languages Act.
Some people may say that since we have a federal Official Languages Act and one in New Brunswick, why bother to entrench these rights. Well, Mr. Speaker, I repeat we must entrench them because we do not know what government will come along in four, five or ten years and what the composition of this Parliament might be. We might get a group of people who are hostile to language rights and who could easily amend the Official Languages Act, or New Brunswick could easily amend theirs. However, by entrenching this provision no majority of this House could take away those rights, and that is why it is important.
The charter also provides for minority language education in all provinces, and some of our citizens do not realize that. That provision, section 23, applies to all provinces, including Ontario, and provides that where the number of children is sufficient to warrant such schools, then minority language education shall be given to all citizens whose mother tongue is English or French. Those whose mother tongue is not English or French but were educated in English or French schools can have their children educated in the minority language school in their province. In other words, a person in Quebec whose mother tongue is English can have his children educated in an English school; if his mother tongue is Italian but he went to an English school, he can have his child educated in an English school; if his mother tongue was German and he never had a chance to go to a school in Quebec but he has an older child who went to an English school in Quebec, he can have all his children educated in that English school.
Now, this guarantee in section 23 is a minimum guarantee. It does not prevent the province from giving additional language rights in education to their citizens or landed immigrants. They can if they wish go beyond this minimum guarantee. I also want to point out that while this is a good provision, it does not provide full freedom of choice. For example, it does not guarantee the right of the French-speaking majority in Quebec to attend English schools.
The reason for that, while we are all sympathetic to that proposition, is that we feel that the French-speaking people of Quebec have the majority in the legislature, and if they wish to give themselves the right to attend English schools, they have the political power to do so. This charter guarantees rights to minority groups, not necessarily to majorities.
Some people of my province have asked whether this charter will invalidate parts of Bill 101. Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to say it will, and a panel of lawyers advising the Quebec government said just last week that this charter will invalidate sections in over 100 Quebec bills. Let us make clear, however, that this charter will also invalidate many discriminatory sections of provincial and federal laws across this country. In addition, its provisions, while they might knock down some sections of Bill 101, will guarantee rights to the French-speaking minority groups in the other provinces.
Finally, I would like to deal with the legal and political justification for the process we are undertaking. The official opposition and some provinces say they support patriation, an amending formula and entrenched rights, but are opposed to the resolution because they say we should not approach the British parliament without the necessary support of the provinces. I have not heard any consistency in the speeches given by the opposition as to what that necessary support should be. Do they mean unanimous agreement of all the provinces, do they mean a majority of the provinces, or a consensus among the provinces based on population?
Because we do not have the support of all the provincial governments at present does not mean we do not have legislative support in all provinces. If we look at those who will vote for the resolution in this House, judging from the speeches that have been given there is support for the resolution in all provinces of Canada. Nine members of the NDP from British Columbia support the resolution, three from Saskatchewan and five from Manitoba, along with two Liberals, I understand one Conservative from Alberta, and a wide-ranging number from Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces. In addition to the official support of the federal government, there are two provincial governments supporting the resolution, including Ontario, the largest province. I want to make it clear that this is not a unilateral act. With that kind of support you cannot call it unilateralism. It is at least a troika and at best a quartet, perhaps a four-party initiative. You may accuse us of not having a majority of the provinces but it certainly is not a unilateral act.
With respect to the legality of the resolution, I want to repeat what many others have said, that all that is required to amend the Canadian Constitution is a joint resolution of the House of Commons and Senate. It is true that on many occasions the federal government consulted with the provinces and tried to get their agreement, and that sometimes they did not proceed without that agreement; but this was never the law and never became the law through custom or precedent. That has recently been decided by the Manitoba Court of Appeal and it is now before the courts in Quebec and Newfoundland.
Since I867 there have been approximately 25 amendments to the BNA Act. In four of those amendments provincial consent was neither sought nor given. In three others the majority of provinces agreed but there was some significant provincial opposition. In two others there was a minority of provinces supporting the federal government. As far as I can see, in only three principal amendments were all the provinces behind the federal government, so the record is a very mixed one. It is clear, however, that the only legal requirement is a joint address of the Senate and House of Commons.
Now, the question remains whether a political, not a legal, requirement has developed over the years, or some kind of constitutional convention which demands the agreement of the federal government plus a number of provinces—and I say “plus a number” because it is so vague. If such a political requirement has developed, what is it? Is it that we must have unanimous agreement of all provinces? Must we have a majority or some kind of consensus? If the political requirement that might have developed is that we need the agreement of all provinces, I say that is unreasonable and wrong and should be discarded. Even if it is that we should have a majority of the provinces, it is wrong, unreasonable and should be discarded, because it would mean that a majority of the provinces from one part of the country could override the interests of another part of the country. For example, all the provinces east of Manitoba could get together and outvote, by their majority, the provinces of the west; or the provinces of the extremities could get together and pass an amendment against the wishes of Quebec. That is wrong.
Consequently, we have adopted an amending formula which appeared to be the best of all those proposed in recent years. One might say that what we are trying to do is revolutionary. It may not be a bloody revolution. It may not be a legal revolution. But, in a sense, it could be a political revolution. I say “in a sense” because it might be argued that we are going ahead with this resolution despite the fact that we do not have a consensus or agreement among all the provinces.
If that is the case, it does not bother me, Mr. Speaker. Revolutions, quiet and unquiet ones, have been necessary in the past to advance independence, national unity and the protection of human rights. It was necessary in the United States in the eighteenth century. It was necessary in the United Kingdom in the seventeenth century. It was necessary in France in the eighteenth century. History has judged many of these revolutions to be beneficial and necessary.
I will say, and I am willing to bet, that history will judge that the provisions of this resolution, even if they are deemed to be a revolution contrary to a developed custom, will have been beneficial and necessary for Canada and for the long-term good of the Canadian people. I believe that within a few years there will be unanimous agreement among our people that it was a good thing to do and it was important that it be done.
Mr. Mark Rose (Mission-Port Moody): Mr. Speaker, I, too, am proud to join with my colleagues and participate in this historic debate. I am also pleased and proud to support the joint resolution which is before us, although I must admit that I feel somewhat intimidated because of the immensity and complexity of the legal, political and social questions with which we are dealing.
I have never been much of a constitutional buff, Mr. Speaker. Constitutions are such difficult, abstract things that I doubt if debating them will ever become a national pastime. Despite efforts of the official opposition and the provinces to hype this matter up, I get as many letters complaining about poor postal service as I do about the so-called constitutional controversy. That is not to say that constitutional questions are unimportant. They are incredibly important.
My constitutional experiences, first here in this House, later in Room 200 and now back again in this chamber, have taught
me a number of valuable lessons, some of which I would like to talk about at this point. First, there exists a vast array of public groups who feel that their fundamental rights and freedoms have not always been protected by our present Constitution and that the Constitution needs to be amended in order to provide us with a charter of rights and freedoms. The groups ranged all the way from natives to Japanese Canadians, to the handicapped, women’s groups and civil libertarians, to name only a few. Many of these people, and more, demand an entrenched charter, and they are opposed to waiting for one any longer. The hooker, though, is that a constitutional amendment is required to add such a charter to our Constitution. Unhappily, as everyone knows by now, the provinces will not agree on an amending formula and they have not been able to agree for over 50 years.
So here is our constitutional Catch-22—no provincial agreement, no amending formula; no amending formula, no charter; no charter, no unified protection of rights allowed to Canadians right across our nation.
For those who complain about the proposed amending formula giving regions unwarranted veto powers, what we now have, and have had, is a practice through federal-provincial conferences which permits every province, large or small, to have a veto—and that has been our problem. I believe those in the Conservative Party who counsel us to bring the BNA Act home as is and add a charter later with the help of the provinces are either mischievous, naive or stupid. The most effective way to deny Canadians a charter for another 50 years is to take that advice.
The second point which can perhaps be dealt with in fewer words but which is no less important, is that from some of the items we have read and heard, such as “Canadians should not be asking the British to amend our Constitution” and “Let us build our Constitution here”, one would almost conclude that this whole debate is taking place thousands of miles away in far-off and mythical Albion. Before Christmas I asked myself, “Where am I?” I answered, “In Room 200.” Then I asked myself, “Where is Room 200?” I answered, “On Parliament Hill.” I said, “Well, where is Parliament Hill?” I answered, “In Canada.” “What are we doing here?”, I asked myself. I answered, “We are building a Constitution.” Now again today I pinch myself and ask myself, “Where am I?”
Some hon. Members: In the House of Commons.
Mr. Rose: Where is the House of Commons?
Some hon. Members: On Parliament Hill.
Mr. Rose: Where is Parliament Hill?
Some hon. Members: In Canada.
Mr. Rose: What are we doing here?
Some hon. Members: We are building a Constitution.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Rose: So we are all engaged here in the very important work of building a Constitution by Canadians in Canada. There is no doubt about that.
Let us hear what former prime minister John G. Diefenbaker had to say with regard to Britain’s role in constitutional amendments. I quote from Volume II of his book “One Canada”:
There are those who argue that the British North America Act and its amendments are a foreign piece of legislation. Nothing of the kind! All the terms of the BNA Act were determined in Canada by Canadian: atone or other of the two conferences held in Charlottetown and Quebec. This was a statute of the British Parliament in 1867 because it involved a union of the British North American colonies. Its subsequent amendments were all made in Canada by Canadians, then perfunctorily passed by the Parliament at Westminster; British statesmen would be pleased if they could rid themselves of this obsolete responsibility.
When we have completed our work here I say: Let us help the British rid themselves of this “obsolete responsibility” by going to Britain one last time. The British government will pass this package and send it home unaltered—and no alliance of fox-hunting Tory peers and their colonial sycophants are going to stop us.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Rose: Emerging from both the first point concerning the intransigence of the premiers and the second point about the fact that Canadian MPs have spent months working on our new Constitution is another important point. It is one which concerns the shift away from the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) and the provincial premiers as exclusive players in the constitutional drama to a widened stage including, for the first time since I have been active in politics, MPs and senators as crucial players.
As a member of Parliament I would like to say that I have grown both angry and impatient at watching endless federal-provincial conferences from the sidelines. Premiers have no cause, nor right, to claim that they, simply because they are premiers, represent the views of people or areas in some more superior, genuine or authoritative way than I or my colleagues do in the House of Commons.
I would like to quote the distinguished House leader of the opposition on this very point, as reported in “Parliamentary Government on the Subject of Proportional Representation as it Relates to Parliamentary Reform.” The hon. member for Nepean-Carleton (Mr. Baker) had this to say regarding the appropriateness of an MP to speak for the area he represents:
People pushing for proportional representation seem to be saying that an MP in an opposition party is not an appropriate spokesman for his province— whereas of course he is. I feel that we ought to put more emphasis on the abilities of MPs to speak for their areas, whether they sit on the government or the opposition side, and proportional representation simply does not address that problem.
The point here is not to debate the merits or disadvantages of proportional representation, but, more important, to debate the right and duty of an MP to appropriately represent a particular region. Therefore, I am pleased to have the support of the distinguished Conservative House leader when I assert that I, as the member for Mission—Port Moody, have not only
the right but the responsibility to work for the acceptance of the constitutional package before us, even though our “14-points-behind” Premier of opposes the move.
Similarly, the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles), who intends to vote in favour of the joint resolution, speaks as surely for Manitobans as docs the erstwhile Premier Lyon who is fighting patriation. Or let us take the case of the hon. member for Nepean-Carleton, who fights this resolution with every means known to rules experts, despite the fact that his fellow Conservative, Ontario Premier Bill Davis, supports the constitutional package enthusiastically.
Essentially, what I am saying is that as an MP I welcome the opportunity to make a contribution to constitution building. For too long I think the House of Commons has been ignored, while year after year the premiers have fiddled and failed. Of course a provincial consensus of a positive kind from a great number of premiers would have been preferable to what has been described as unilateral patriation. Does anyone listening actually believe that an agreement among ten premiers and the Prime Minister is possible on this question or on many others? I do not.
If we want our Constitution brought home, I believe we in the federal Parliament are taking the only course left open under current conditions. Some people disagree and say that what we are doing is not only immoral but illegal. Some provinces will go, and have gone, to court in order to prove it. Before the Quebec Court of Appeal at this very moment is an action to prevent patriation of the Constitution on the ground that the charter of rights “interferes with provincial powers.” Naturally I have no idea how the case will turn out, but it seems to me that it is the duty of a federal state to protect the rights of its citizens with a Charter of Rights and Freedoms, rights and freedoms which do not vary from province to province but apply equally in all parts of our federation.
I agree with the Minister of Justice (Mr. Chrétien) that is both inconceivable and unacceptable for native people, women or the handicapped to enjoy certain rights in one jurisdiction of our federation and be denied them in another. The charter must apply to all provinces and territories; it must protect all citizens in Canada. If the charter of rights is deemed an interference, then I think it is about time we interfered.
If we must wait for the provinces to bring in tough civil rights legislation, we will never get a charter because most provincial governments are so right-wing they spend most of their time talking about individual freedoms and have no time left to consider individual protections and rights. Most provincial rights codes are weak-kneed and toothless.
Mr. Friesen: Will the hon. member entertain a question? Is the British Columbia civil rights code toothless?
Mr. Rose: Mr. Speaker, I will entertain a question at the end of my speech.
I should like to refer again to the belief of the late Mr. John Diefenbaker in a charter of rights. Mr. Diefenbaker said:
A bill of rights for Canada is the only way in which to stop the march on the part of the government toward arbitrary power. and to curb the arrogance of men “clad in a little brief authority”—
Some say that it is unnecessary and our unwritten constitutional rights protect us. They have not in the past. They cannot unless you and I have a right to the protection of law in the courts of the land. There are others who claim that the Parliament of Canada cannot pass laws to preserve the constitutional freedom of Canadians. If that be true, then Canadian citizenship is a provincial variable. There will be nine kinds of Canadians in Canada whose freedoms will be based on the home address of each of us. If that contention be true, Canadian unity is a meaningless term.
We Canadians have much to be proud of. We suffer from serious shortcomings when it comes to respecting individual rights, and we have done in the past. Of course we are far superior to the repressive regimes in many parts of the world, including South America, Eastern Europe and the Far East.
We must remember that most Canadians applauded the deportation of the Japanese in 1941, even though at that time we were dispersing Canadian-born citizens who were charged with no crime. Most of us stayed silent while Jehovah’s Witnesses were being hassled throughout Quebec under the Duplessis regime. As one of the 16 who voted against approval of the government’s invocation of the War Measures Act in 1970, I received hundreds of letters following that vote condemning me for opposing a measure which, with the stroke of a pen, removed all civil rights not just of Montrealers but of Canadians right across the country.
Again some argue that when a crisis inflames passions no charter of rights, no matter how perfect, would have protected, for example, the west coast Japanese or prevented invocation of the War Measures Act of I970. They would say that the panicky state of public opinion at the time would have overriden any written entrenchment of rights and freedoms. Perhaps this was so. However, along with the present entrenched rights comes an avenue of appeal and remedies available to those abused, if only after the fact.
Section 24(1) guarantees against infringement of individual rights and freedoms and offers the protection of the courts if such infringement occurs. This recourse to the courts is new and an important forward step.
Unfortunately, when the Japanese dispersal occurred in World War II, 20,000 of these people were stripped of their land and property. There existed no section 24 which would have guaranteed these Canadians of Japanese ancestry access to the courts to recover their stolen wealth and property. Back then, they had no recourse but to accept the thefts and try to forget them.
Similarly, the 500 or so Quebecers incarcerated in the October, 1970, round-up and who were never charged or convicted had no legal remedy against arbitrary arrest and imprisonment. We have it now in this charter.
When a long-time author and vice-president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, June Callwood, recently was
asked in Maclean’s “How do you feel our rights have been abused?”, she replied:
In its whole history, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association has only won one case-and it’s being appealed. I maintain that the attitude or our Supreme Court puts us slightly to the right of Vlad the Impaler. Just in the past few years, they’ve eroded our right to be silent when arrested, upheld a municipality’s right to forbid demonstrations that might lead to “tumult” and allowed illegally obtained evidence to be used against people. Their attitude generates a nourishing environment for the intimidation of writers, broadcasters, all kinds of journalism. It’s very reactionary and it’s nourished by acceptance at the bottom. We always talk about our traditional freedom of speech. But actually, through our history, anybody who demonstrates convictions about freedom of speech that are contrary to the established views is usually put in prison. So our tradition is really repression of speech.
It is clear, then, that many people who are concerned about civil liberties desperately want an entrenched charter of rights and freedoms, as it is equally clear that many of the provinces see such a federal charter as an infringement on provincial powers.
There may be a strong parallel between the drive for greater provincial rights here in Canada and the historical states’ rights movement in the United States. United States author and historian Henry Steele Commager had this to say in a recent Los Angeles Times article:
“States’ Rights” is both an anachronism and a conceptual illusion. States do not have rights; people have rights. In the United States people have all rights. In the exercise of those rights they have allocated to the national government whatever powers are essential to the conduct of the great affairs of the union, and to the general welfare and happiness of the people-
It was the states that repudiated and nullified the requirements of the 14th and 15th amendments and of many civil rights acts, and the national government that-eventually–enforced those. In the realm of civil liberties, it is the states, not the nation, that have been the most consistent offenders; it is the national government, chiefly through the federal courts, but substantially through a series of civil rights acts, that has expanded them. It would be asking a great deal to ask blacks to accept the argument that the states have been the guardians of their freedom and the national government the enemy.
Henry Commager went on to argue that it was the U.S. national government and not the states that proclaimed and protected women on matters ranging from universal suffrage to equal rights. Incidentally, that amendment, known as the ERA, has not gone through yet because of the opposition of many of the states. Commager went on to say:
So too with labour legislation from the Clayton Anti-trust Act to the Wagner Labour Act. It was the Congress which banned child labour and instituted medicare for the poor. Congress too established conservation and environmental ground rules. Through President Teddy Roosevelt to Franklin Delano it was the federal government which established national parks, limited strip mining and the reckless exploitation of fossil fuels-not the states.
While I know there is not complete congruity between the experiences of Canada and the U.S. in this issue of civil rights and protection of those rights, the parallel is certainly not a weak one. Ask an oriental citizen in Canada or the native peoples if a statement in the BNA Act would have been helpful in their achieving the right to vote much sooner than when it was finally accorded to these minorities as recently as the fifties and sixties. Ask Franco-Manitobans if a statement of linguistic rights would not have made some difference to their culture’s survival in the long years between Laurier and Trudeau. We know the charter is far from perfect, but due to the diligence of committee members on all sides of the House it is a vast improvement from the first time we saw this charter.
Of course, some one of my political persuasion regrets the silence of the charter on certain matters. We would like to have seen statements about economic rights, such as the right to a job, a decent house, health, clean air or a clean environment. These rights are not included.
Having said that, I for one am not prepared to deny native Canadians of aboriginal background their rights as described in this charter, women their equal legal rights or the average citizen protection against arbitrary search and seizure, simply because my own personal pet interest is not part of this charter of rights. Without the inclusion of the charter of rights, it makes little difference to me whether we bring the BNA Act home this year or a hundred years from now. Maybe equalization or some such matter is important, but I think the charter of rights is vital.
I would like to deal with the amending formula for a moment. As we know, within the resolution the principle of unanimity applies for two years, within which time the first ministers will have the opportunity to find another formula. I wish them luck! Failing that, and after the prescribed time, the Victoria amending formula will come into force. In effect, this amending formula would require a resolution of support at the federal level and of the legislature of any province which, at the time of enactment of this formula, has 25 per cent of the nation’s population within its borders. Further, the formula requires support for the resolution from two of the four Atlantic provinces and two western provinces whose populations total 50 per cent or more.
I would like this provision changed so that the 50 per cent of the population required by the western provinces is dropped. Does that surprise hon. members? This change would permit any two of the four western provinces to have veto power.
I am aware-and I am sure the hon. member for Crowfoot (Mr. Malone) will be pleased to hear this-that the present formula protects my province of British Columbia. But I think it is blatantly unfair to the three prairie provinces that a two-province, 50 per cent rule should apply in western Canada, while a simpler and easier two-province veto provision applies in Atlantic Canada without reference to population.
The Victoria formula is important because it will give Canada a reasonable amending mechanism and the freedom to abandon the hobbling unanimity rule which has so frustrated Canadians for years and prevented them from having their own Constitution. I believe a formula requiring a simple two-western province veto is fair to all regions of the country, particularly in light of the formula’s flexibility, which provides veto power in future to any province which attains 25 per cent of the nation’s population.
The so-called Vancouver consensus supported by the official opposition is unacceptable to me because it permits a province to opt out if it does not agree with some constitutional
amendment. Ultimately, we would not have a country at all but a checkerboard of jurisdictions, each with what would amount to its own constitution, which would make a mockery of the mobility rights and other rights which have been guaranteed in this charter. I am sure that if he were alive, the Right Hon. John George Diefenbaker would agree with me on this point.
Mr. Keeper: One Canada, not a two thirds Canada.
Mr. Rose: There are some who say, “What is all the rush? Why risk all this conflict and controversy? Why not take a little more time? Let’s polish up the package into one more acceptable to more people.”
To answer the last statement first, I believe that if we worked ten years more, we would never create a blue print for Canada that was perfect nor one which would avoid all criticism. Our country is too diverse for that to happen.
As a New Democrat I find the perpetuation of the powers of the Senate so intensely unpalatable that for that reason alone I am tempted to vote against the whole bundle. I will leave that to other members of my party because I am quite sure we will not hear much about Senate reform from either the Liberals or the Conservatives. I will leave it to others in my party to rage over the continued power and presence of that unelected Upper House made up largely of retired Liberal and Tory bagmen and political rejects. But I would like the House to know that the continuing presence of an archaic and unchanged Senate resting sheltered and snug in our brand new Constitution is, to me and many other people, both odious and unacceptable.
Mr. Blaikie: It is an affirmative action program for disabled Liberals. Mr. Rose: In spite of the government cop-out which deleted Clause 44, which would have weakened the powers of the Senate, I feel that the gains obtained by my own leader in granting extended powers to the provinces in resource management and indirect taxation, plus improvements in the charter of rights for women, natives, the handicapped and for multiculturalism, do more than enough to justify my support for the package.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Rose: But what is this rush to patriate, anyway? Following on the heels of the Quebec referendum of May 20 last a follow through was promised on the commitments made by several political leaders and parties. They promised to renew our Constitution as a means of dealing with the particular needs of the province of Quebec. Beyond that, we are all aware of the strong expressions of deeply felt alienation by the people of western Canada toward the federal government, so that there is now at least a willingness, in some cases at least and in some provinces-and involving many people-to discuss our Constitution and to expect that there will be significant movement on this matter of constitutional change.
Should we falter and return to the interminable and boring rounds of federal-provincial conferences, whatever momentum has been built up among the people of Canada could well be lost. So the time is now. I disagree with those who strongly advocate that this is not the time. This is the time to act decisively with respect to the patriation of our Constitution. The mere transfer of a document from one country to another is not sufficient. We must show the people of Canada that we are prepared to change decision-making processes in order to correct these sources of alienation. I insist that nothing can be achieved by further foot-dragging or delay.
I have dealt with the features of the constitutional debate which are important to me. Admittedly, much more could be said, but I have commented on initiatives I support, such as the charter of rights and freedoms, MP participation in constitution building and added provincial resource protection. I admit I have said nothing about equalization or language rights and very little about legal rights. I have been sharply critical of perpetuating the Senate prerogatives, and in addition I have made suggestions about improving the amending formula to make it more fair and just to western provinces.
Symbols are very important to any nation. We have our own flag. We have our own national anthem. Soon, if we are statesmen instead of mere politicians, I think we will be able to boast of our own Constitution. A few members are still sitting among us who furiously and sincerely fought the new flag both inside and outside the House of Commons. Who today, however, would stand up and say we should rip up the Maple Leaf and unfurl the good old Red Ensign? Who are they? They are darned few.
The same is true with respect to the Constitution. Once we get it home and it becomes part of us, which politician will stand up during the next federal election campaign and say, “Vote for me and I will send our Constitution back to England”?
I recognize that there are some who oppose bitterly what we are doing here. That is inevitable. These things are never easy. Still, passions do cool eventually, and although it is trite but true, time is a great healer. Surely the glue holding Canada together is strong enough to resist our disintegration merely because the federal Parliament, in desperation, seized the initiative to bring our Constitution home.
The Tories are fond of repeating ad nauseam a Gallup poll published some weeks ago which reported that 64 per cent of Canadians opposed unilateral patriation. They use this as an argument for rejection of the package. I know that I have quoted the late John Diefenbaker a number of times but he said that polls were “only for dogs.”
I think very few people are aware of what the former, fighting United States president, Harry Truman, had to say about using polls as a basis for political decision-making. In 1954 Mr. Truman is reported to have said:
I wonder how far Moses would have gone if he’d taken a poll in Egypt? What would Jesus Christ have preached if he’d taken a poll in Israel? Where would the
Reformation have gone if Martin Luther had taken a poll? It isn’t polls or public opinion of the moment that counts. It is right and wrong and leadership-men with fortitude, honesty and a belief in the right that makes epochs in the history of the world.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Rose: I think Mr. Truman was right and I conclude by saying that I believe the Prime Minister and the leader of my party are right about this matter. The constitutional question comes down to leadership. My leader and members of my party on the committee and members of the official opposition worked bard. They did a great job. I feel that I, my colleagues and my party have done a great many things for Canadians in the past. This lime we are going to help win a new Constitution for them.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Corbin): The hon. member for Surrey-White Rock-North Delta (Mr. Friesen) on a point of order.
Mr. Friesen: Mr. Speaker, since the hon. member for Mission- Port Moody (Mr. Rose) was generous enough to allow a minute or two at the end of his speech for a question, I wonder if hie would entertain it now?
Mr. Rose: Yes.
Mr. Friesen: In his speech he said that most provincial governments are so right-wing that they do not have time for bills of rights in their legislatures and that those bills are usually toothless. I wonder if he would give that description to the one in British Columbia.
Mr. Rose: Mr. Speaker, I do not think that is precisely what I said. I did not say they did not have bills of rights but I said that some of them are weak-kneed and toothless. I also said that most provincial governments are right-wing. If the codes are not toothless, surely the enforcement is toothless.
While I am on my feet, I wonder if I could ask a question since my time has not run out. It is very important that we finish debate on the amendment before us. There are other amendments to be dealt with dealing with native and civil rights, amending formulas and a number of other things.
I wonder where the hon. member for Provencher (Mr. Epp) is? When is he going to come back from his holiday in South Africa, where he is probably studying native rights? He should get back here and let us put an end to his part of the debate.
Mr. Louis Duclos (Parliamentary Secretary to Secretary of State for External Affairs): Mr. Speaker, I wanted t0 take part in Ibis debate because I share the general feeling of the members of Ibis House concerning the undeniable importance this proposed resolution bolds for the future of Canada. Mr. Speaker, this constituîionaily significant action of patriating our Constitution sbould not be taken in isolation, but be part of the constitutional reform that a great many Canadians 50 dearly wisb and 10 whicb the supporters of a renewed federalism, including the Prime Minister of Canada (Mr. Trudeau), committed thernselves in the referendum debate last spring in Quebec.
Having said this I must add, 1 arn extremely disappointed that tbe constitutional changes wbicb a No aI the referendum was supposed to bring about bave been reduced to the bare minimum; ail we are lefI witb is a resolution proposai which furîher resîricts the legislative powers of the Quebec’s National Assembly. I wonder wbal would have been Quebec’s answer iast May 20 if il had been known renewed federalism would result in essentiaily îwo reforrns: First, unilateral paîriation, wbicb is unacceptable 10 a majority of the provinces and 10 ail political parties in Quebec; second, a charter of righîs which, in its iinguistic provisions, wouid significantiy reduce Quebec jurisdiclion over the language of instruction and compel the Quebec government to amend Bill 101, and Ibis in exchange for the rigbt entrencbed in the Constitution for francophones outside Quebec to be educaîed in French witbin scbool systems that lbey wiIl not control, and only where numbers justîfy il.
We would be jusîified in believing, Mr. Speaker, that under these conditions, many of us who, on May 20, trusted the federal authorities 10 renew Canadian federalism would raîher have given the Quebec government a mandate to negotiale sovereignty- association, or aI least would flot have foughî SO vigorously for the No. If I may, I would like 10 recail wbat the chairman of the No cornmittee in the county of Charlevoix, notary Paul-Érnile Tremblay, wrote in Ibis regard in the newspaper Le Devoir on March 2, and 1 quole:
If!1 had known what was to follow, I would neyer have accepted the presidency of the “No’ committee in Charlevoix.
To Ibis, some wiil probably reply that once the Constitution bas been patriated, constitutionai reform can be undertaken immediately and that agreernent will be much easier 10 achieve as neither unanimity nor the agreernent of the British parliament wilI be required to amend our Constitution. In facî, Mr. Speaker. Ibis is an oversimplificalion because the procedure proposed in the resolution rnay make a permanent amending formula impossible until 1986. If this resolution is enacted on July 1, 1981, Ibere would firsî of ail be a period of two years during which the rule of unanimity would continue 10 apply.
On the other band, if seven provinces representing 80 per cent of the population could agree on an amending formula afîer these lwo years, the federai governmenl would have 10 boid a referendum within the next Iwo years asking the people 10 choose between the provinces and the federal government’s proposais. Finaily, under Section 43 of the resolution, six additional montbs migbt elapse before the amending formula approved by a majorily of voters is put mbt effect. We would be deluding ourselves, Mr. Speaker, if we expeet to be in a position 10 address the constitutionai reform before 1984,
assuming that no referendum is held to cboose an amending formula, or before 1986, if such a referendum is held. Mr. Speaker, if the Victoria formula under Section 45 of the resolution becomes the chosen procedure, it may seem a good idea at first to postpone any truc constitutional rcform by a few years so that it may be carried out accordingly by a seemingly more flexible approacb than the rule of unanimnity which has prcvailed until now. In other words, is it not truc that it would be casier to amend the Constitution witb the agreement of only six, seven or eight provinces and the federal government, as advocated under the Victoria formula, instcad of having to seek unanimity in keeping witb the constitutional practice followed since 1931 ? It would seem that the need for unanimity is more restricting, but how does that stand up in light of the facts? As things are now the constitutional debate rests basically on a relationship between political forces of which none can invoke the Constitution to stop the constitutional rcform process. But if we do entrench an amending formula such as the Victoria formula, then the veto of the four regional blocs-Quebec, Ontario, western Canada and thc maritimes-will have been lawfully and formally recognized. * (1630) It is therefore not surprising, Mr. Speaker, that thosc provinces, with Quebec in the lead, which want to negotiate widcr legislative powers in the course of the constitutional review are reluctant to accept new rules for the game which would give Ontario, for instance, a province which would find it advantageous to maintain the constitutional status quo, a power of veto with the full force of the law. Mr. Speaker, it is amazing to witness the self-confidence shown by some people who proclaim the uncontested and incontestable lcgality of the action of the central govcrnment in this matter. Yet they ought to know that the current constitutional debate raises many questions to which constîtutional experts give conflicting answers and that, therefore, nothing can be stated witb certainty by anyone whatsoever. Thus it is foolhardy, to say the Icast, to dlaim that the rule of unanimity is a red berring and that in the current state of our constitutional law the Canadian Parliament can unilaterally and in any circumstances amcnd our Constitution on the strcngth of thc fact that in the past the British Parliament bas always acceptcd the requests of the Canadian Parliament when it came to constitutional amendments, without even taking into account the objections raised now and then by the provinces. Incidentally, Mr. Speaker, I would say that the real red herring is rather to make people believe, after it bas been asserted that the federal Parliament bas the unlimited power to amend alone the constitution, that the provinces wilI be in a better position after patriation since they will then have the formai right to object to any constitutional change. How can anyonc take such an argument seriousiy, Mr. Speaker, when we know that a veto will be granted to the provinces only aftcr the federal regime has been revamped, and that only in accordance wîth tbe views of the central government? Let us go back to the question of the rule of unanimity. First, one bas to know that if the provinces were indeed ignored in many instances, it is because severai of those constitutional amcndments did not change in any way the basicaliy federative elements of the 1867 Constitution. However, in its opinion of 1980 on tbe Senate, the Supreme Court of Canada pointed out, and 1 quote: The 1940, 1951, 1960 and 1964 amendments concerning unemployment insurance, old age pensions, the mandatory retirement of judges. and the old age supplementary benefits were ail made with the unanimous consent of the provinces. Indced, in the samne opinion the Supreme Court refers to a passage of the white paper on the amendment of the Constitution which the federal govcrnment itsclf made public in 1965. It goes like this, and I quote: The Canadian Parlisment will flot request an amendment directly affecting federal-provincial relationships without prior consultation and agreement with the provinces. Now, then, no one can deny that the proposed resolution before the House substantially changes the rights, powers and privileges of the provinces, in short it changes the cssentially federative elements of our Constitution. Indced, not only does the proposed resolution contain a charter of rights and freedoms which considerably rcstricts the legislative powers of the provinces, particulariy in the field of education with respect to Quebcc, but it also includes constitutionai amendment formulas which would dictate new rules of the gante as regards federal-provincial relations, more particularly because of the fact that, under Section 46, the central government reserves the exclusive right to consuit the people of Canada in a referendum should the two levels of governimcnt find thcmselves in a constitutional deadlock. That being said, Mr. Speaker, I for one refuse to go as far as to argue that the rule of unanimity is truly a principie of law to which the Supreme Court wili refer when requested to rule on the constitutionality of this proposed resolution. But the spirit which promptcd the 1980 advice concerning the Senate allows ail kinds of expectations in this regard. On the other hand, we must keep in mind that Section 91.1 of the B.N.A. Act specifically provides that the Government of Canada cannot unilaterally bring about constitutional amendments affecting provincial rights and powers, their jurisdiction in matters; of education, the use of the French and English languages and the duration of the Pariament of Canada. If, under Section 9 1. 1, these matters have been removed from. the federal jurisdiction with respect to constitutionai amendments, it is precisely because the federal Parliament was not to be allowed to unilaterally ask the British Parliament to amend the provisions of the British North America Act concerning these matters. And yet, this proposai ciearly affects the legisiative powers of the provinces and especially their jurisdiction in matters relating to the language of education.
Mr. Speaker, if only one or two provinces were opposing this proposal, we could at least argue over the legitimacy of the federal government’s action. However, it is a fact that eight out of the ten provinces, representing a majority of Canadians, have publicly expressed their opposition to the federal proposal, and six of them are even protesting before the courts the constitutional legality of this resolution. Therefore, it is unfortunate that the government should resort to such an arbitrary process, especially in view of the fact, Mr. Speaker, that they cannot plead an election mandate, since the constitutional issue was noticeably overlooked during the last federal campaign, nor the referendum debate in Quebec, during which the issue of a unilateral patriation or the entrenchment of a charter of rights and freedoms was never mentioned, but rather a renewal of federalism designed to bring about a sharing of constitutional powers that would be more beneficial to Quebec. Mr. Speaker, what should we conclude from all of this if not that this proposed resolution is both politically illegitimate and constitutionally very questionable? It is politically illegitimate because eight out of the ten provinces of Canada are opposed to it and the federal government was never given any specific mandate to that purpose, and constitutionally very questionable from a legal point of view, because it is contrary to the rule of unanimity which could be required to amend the sharing of the legislative powers or any other federating element of the Constitution of 1867, and especially because it goes against Section 91.1 of the British North American Act, which does not permit the federal Parliament, as stated in the opinion which the Supreme Court of Canada gave in 1980 concerning our Senate, and I quote: -to amend in any way the provisions of Sections 91 and 92 concerning the distribution of legislative powers between the Canadian Parliament and the provincial legislatures. Mr. Speaker, the proposed resolution being clearly questionable, to say the least, from a legal point of view, and its constitutionality running the very serious risk of being rejected by the Canadian courts, it is easily understood why the government will not only petition the British Parliament to transfer to the Canadian authorities the power to amend the Constitution, but will also insist that this foreign Parliament amend this same Constitution by entrenching into it a charter of rights and freedoms in spite of the opposition of a large majority of provinces. If it is true that it is legally necessary to forward an address to the British Parliament to obtain the patriation of our Constitution, it is not so in the case of the charter of rights and freedoms which does not need to be adopted by the parliament in London and which could simply be enacted as a Canadian statute. What benefit is there in having the Charter of Rights and Freedoms included in the resolution which we will ask the British Parliament to adopt by way of a bill? What we should know, Mr. Speaker, is that in this way the government is actually asking the parliament of Westminster to legalize something which could be illegal from the start and which could have been declared unconstitutional by our Canadian courts had the government not resorted to such an exceptional measure as having a bill passed by the British parliament. e (1640) In other words, Mr. Speaker, in acting as it does, the federal government is placing itself beyond the reach of Canadian court intervention and can, strictly speaking, plead unquestionable legality, since an act of the parliament in London, passed pursuant to the Statute of Westminster, could hardly be challenged in our courts. Appearing on January 8 last before the Special Joint Committee on the Constitution of Canada, the distinguished constitutional expert from Laval University, Mr. Gil Rémillard, whose opinion has indeed been used by some in support of the federal government view, summing up the matter of the legality of the proposed resolution, stated, and I quote: In conclusion, it therefore seems to us that the Trudeau resolution could be declared illegal by our courts. That illegality could, however, become legal through the legislative intervention of the British parliament. And he added this, which is of great interest, and I quote him once more: However, the federative elements of that British act could be denied application to the provinces if the latter were to reject them. Mr. Speaker, what is one to conclude from all that, if not that our political leaders, in their search for solutions to the problems of our society, tend to favour unduly and almost exclusively the legal aspect of things, with the ensuing danger of misleading us and locking us up in a perpetual deadlock? For in all probability, if the federal government persists in proceeding as it has until now by invoking, and rightly so, Mr. Speaker, the strict legality of the process, we will see for many years to come a federal-provincial legal guerrilla to which the governments will have to devote the better part of their energy at the expense of the solution of the social and economic problems of the Canadian people. It is inevitable, of course, that the provinces should in turn also resort to legalism to oppose the application of that British act in its federative elements, and that they should also be, legally speaking, on firm ground, according to Professor Rémillard. Our political leaders would do well to ponder over this thought of the Soviet dissident Solzhenitsyn who in 1978 wrote in his book “The Decline of Courage,” and I quote: A society that is set on the rule of law without aiming at something higher makes little use of the highest faculties of man. The rule of law in itsclf is too cold and too forma] an instrument to exercise a beneficial influence on society. When life is wholly permeated with legal decision, an atmosphere of moral mediocrity is then created which stifles the best inspirations of man. And in the face of the trying times ahead of us legal crutches will be of no avail to make people stand upright. Mr. Speaker, it is a rather subtle move on the part of the present government to change the nature of our federal system
through enshrining a charter of rights and freedoms. It then becomes possible to cast aspersion on avowed opponents of the proposed resolution by inferring they are opposed to giving a better protection to human rights and freedoms. We feel it is highly desirable that the basic freedoms listed in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights be constitutionally guaranteed all over the world. Yet let us not overrate the importance of the passing by the Canadian Parliament of a charter of rights and freedoms and make it at any cost an absolute prerequisite for the future happiness of our people, even if it means tampering with the basic principles of Canadian federation. The fact remains that in a federative system one level of government cannot compel the other to surrender part of its sovereignty even if it is to hand it over to the judiciary. Yet in many respects it is precisely what is being achieved by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms included in this proposed resolution. If the federal Parliament wants to hand over part of its own legislative powers to the courts, it certainly is its privilege but it is intolerable that it should try to force the provinces to cede part of their constitutional jurisdiction to the courts and more particularly to the Supreme Court of Canada whose judges are appointed exclusively by the federal government. Does it mean, Mr. Speaker, that our country is condemned, because of its federal system, to never be able to entrench in its Constitution certain basic rights and freedoms which are in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? I do not believe so, Mr. Speaker. And I should like to submit to the House some ideas how to go about patriating the Constitution, giving ourselves an amending formula and also a charter of rights and freedoms, while alleviating considerably the seriousness and the extent of the confrontations now taking place across Canada. Mr. Speaker, the debate which has been raging since the introduction of this draft resolution in Parliament has seriously endangered Canadian unity, but it has also given rise to a show of solidarity among the provinces which was unheard of up to now in the history of federal-provincial relations. The solidarity of this interprovincial united front is particularly comforting for Quebec which, after being for so long the sole province to claim its rights from the federal government, may now view the future of the constitutional reform with optimism, a reform which is now in the nature of things and which will have to be started seriously under the pressure of the provinces. Therefore, I think that because of the new power struggle in federal-provincial relations, Quebec and its allies in other provinces can now consent to the patriation of the Constitution without jeopardizing the pursuit of the constitutional reform. It is possible that for purely partisan reasons, the Parti Québécois government will maintain its traditional position on this matter, but there is good reason for supposing that the new Liberal government that Quebecers will give themselves in a few weeks might consent to such a patriation. In the The Constitution circumstances, Mr. Speaker, the constitutional crisis we are going through could be resolved if the proposed resolution contained only the following items: 1. The immediate patriation of the Constitution. 2. The maintenance of the unanimity rule for the amending formula for 12 months following patriation. 3. A national referendum to be held subsequently in order to allow Canadians to choose between the so-called Victoria formula and an eventual formula agreed to by seven provinces comprising at least 80 per cent of the total population of Canada. Failing an agreement on this matter among the provinces within 12 months following patriation, the Victoria formula would automatically become the amending formula. 4. In case of a constitutional deadlock, a national referendum to be called either by the federal government or by seven provinces comprising more than 50 per cent of the total population of Canada, regional vetos being granted in such a referendum, as specified in Clause 46 of the present proposed resolution. And what about the charter of rights and freedoms? It would simply be the subject of a federal-provincial conference which would deal exclusively with this matter and would be called after the stumbling block of patriation of the Constitution had been removed and the sovereign people had chosen, if need be, an amending formula in a national referendum. And should this conference still fail to produce an agreement, then the federal government would be justified in calling on the Canadian people in a national referendum to be held under the rules specified in clause 46 of the proposed resolution, which grants regional vetos to the Atlantic provinces, Quebec, Ontario and the western provinces. So here are, Mr. Speaker, the different stages of my proposal: 1. A federal-provincial conference in June, 1981, to deal only with the patriation of the Constitution. 2. The patriation of the Constitution in the fall of 1981, with the maintenance of the unanimity rule for the following 12 months. 3. A national referendum to choose an amending formula to be held in the fall of 1982. 4. A federal-provincial conference on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to be held early in 1983. 5. A national referendum, if need be, failing an agreement at federal-provincial conferences, to be held on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the fall of 1983. Some will certainly say, Mr. Speaker, that since the past foreshadows the future, no agreement with the provinces will emerge from yet another federal-provincial conference on patriation of the Constitution. Yet, Mr. Speaker, one should
not minimize the positive psychological effect the victory of Mr. Claude Ryan’s party in the next provincial election to be held very soon in Quebec will have on federal-provincial relations. As I said earlier, a Liberal government in Quebec might well agree to a simple patriation with the unanimity rule as a provisional amending formula and I think that a very small minority of provinces would object to patriation achieved under such conditions. With such a support from most provinces, if not from all of them, the federal government could then legitimately proceed with a simple patriation of the Constitution, and the British parliament would be only too happy to grant this request. Mr. Speaker, I would also like to point out to the House the interesting suggestion put forward by a man who cannot be suspected of any hostility towards the federal government since he is the former clerk of the Privy Council and secretary of the cabinet, Mr. Gordon Robertson, who also has been a close adviser to the Prime Minister in constitutional matters. In a paper delivered before the Forum on Management of the Government Process, on February 10 last, Mr. Robertson, who admitted that he was drawing his inspiration from a former minister of transport, Mr. Jack Pickersgill, suggested that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms should only be binding on the provinces which would have specifically endorsed it by an act of their respective legislatures before the end of the four-year period following the passage of the resolution by the British Parliament or which would have implicitly accepted it by failing to denounce it by way of a resolution passed during the third or fourth year of that four-year period. If really, as it was stated by the Minister of Justice and Minister of State for Social Development (Mr. Chrétien), on January last, before the Special Joint Committee on the Constitution, 90 per cent of all Canadians are favourable to the entrenching of a charter of rights and freedoms in our Constitution, it should be expected that given nearly unanimous public opinion, no provincial legislature would dare denounce the charter. In addition, as stated by Mr. Robertson, and I quote: e (1650) [English] Such a provision in the proposed amendment would remove the objection that the Parliament of Canada is seeking indirectly to impose its wilI on the legislatures of the provinces through the British Parliament because our Parliament could not do it directly in Canada. [Translation] Mr. Speaker, if either of the alternatives I have just described were followed to entrench a charter of rights and freedoms, and if the federal government agreed to share with the provinces the right to initiate a national referendum, the present constitutional upheaval would come to an end and the stated objectives could be achieved within a reasonable period of time. Mr. Speaker, I would now like to address the House as a Quebecer and tell the government that in my view these compromises would only be acceptable to the majority of Quebecers if the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which would be submitted for their approval through a national referendum and which, if the Robertson solution were followed, would automatically be submitted for the approval of their National Assembly, were of much more limited scope and did not challenge the language policy which Quebec adopted in 1974. That clearly means that language of instruction must remain under provincial authority and that therefore Section 23 of the proposed resolution must be repealed. Since it is mainly because of Section 23, that I object to the proposed resolution I would like to make it clear why, in my view, it would be against the interests of Quebec to entrench minority language educational rights in the Constitution. Mr. Speaker, just as I would like to see some amendments made by the National Assembly to Bill 101 in order, for example, to allow children of Canadian citizens from other provinces to attend English schools in Quebec, I think it is essential for the National Assembly to maintain the authority it was granted in 1867 to legislate freely in the field of language of instruction. In other words, even though I would like Quebec to be generous toward its English-speaking minority, I still think it is essential for the National Assembly to be able to legislate at any time in order to maintain a balance between its two language groups. In short, Mr. Speaker, the whole issue of language of instruction, which is so closely tied to the very existence and well-being of the French culture in Quebec, must continue to come under the exclusive authority of the only legislative body with a French-speaking majority in Canada, that is to say the Quebec National Assembly. By entrenching in the Constitution minority language educational rights, as in Section 23, the government is restricting considerably the freedom of action of Quebec with respect to language of instruction. It amounts in fact to hamstringing it if the present economic conditions in Quebec were to change due to unexpected developments and if Quebec became, in ten or 20 years, an important centre of attraction for North-American workers or people from other Commonwealth countries who, of course, would be English speaking, much the same as has happened in Alberta in recent years. Indeed, nobody can foresee what the future has in store for Quebec economically speaking, as nobody had forescen the energy crisis and the ensuing dramatic economic boom in Alberta. With its ground full of natural resources, it is not excluded that Quebec could somewhat become the Alberta of the year 2000. Mr. Speaker, it would be unwise, to say the least, to entrench in our Constitution the minority language educational rights to which those new anglophone Quebecers could legally lay claim once they become Canadian citizens in order to compel the Quebec government to allow their children in English schools. That is not to say, Mr. Speaker, that such a
situation is bound to occur, but there is the risk of the balance between francophones and anglophones being changed to the detriment of the francophone majority, a risk I refuse to take and which is all the more serious that no increase in the natural population growth in Quebec is expected in the coming years. Mr. Speaker, after considering carefully all the migratory movements to Quebec between 1969 and 1978, it is fair to say that the entrenchment in the Constitution of the minority language educational rights will open the doors of English schools to 75 per cent of the new Quebecers in the next few years. It is important to emphasize also that Section 23 would even be at variance with the language policy of the Quebec Liberal party which, according to the latest news, is about to advocate access to English schools only to children of parents who attended English primary schools anywhere in Canada, which would exclude children of all the future anglophone immigrants. If only, Mr. Speaker, this threat to the future of Frenchspeaking Quebec would improve considerably the lot of the francophone minorities in other provinces, the pill would be easier to swallow. Unfortunately, on the one hand, the government goes out of its way to give constitutional guarantees to Quebec anglophones who already have three universities, six CEGEPs, 410 primary and secondary schools financed by Quebec taxpayers and managed by 31 school boards under full control of the English minority, and on the other hand, it is very different when it comes to francophone minorities outside of Quebec who will not be able, under these constitutional proposals, to set up their own school boards and will most probably have to accept French classes in English schools, and only where numbers warrant it. Incidentally, this restriction will have little effect on Quebec anglophones since they are heavily concentrated in the Montreal area. It is a restriction which will have little effect on the English-speaking people in Quebec because of their large number in the Montreal area. But it will be a different thing for the French-speaking minorities in English Canada where in six provinces more than 45 per cent of people of French origin now declare English as their mother tongue and where francophones are very often scattered throughout the territory. Obviously, Mr. Speaker, this is asking Quebec to pay too high a price for their French-speaking brothers in other provinces to enjoy such limited rights. Besides, I understand why the government is reluctant, even though it wishes strongly to do so, to subject Ontario to the provisions of Section 133 of the Constitution; what I cannot readily understand, however, is the fact that it does not show as much restraint toward Quebec which is as dead against Section 23 of the proposed resolution as Ontario is against being subject to Section 133 of the Constitution. Yet, that would only be fair and logical considering that in Quebec the judiciary and parliamentary institutions have been subject to Business of the House bilingualism as provided for in Section 133, since 1867. Mr. Speaker, I am as happy to praise the openmindedness and generosity of Premier Hatfield of New Brunswick over institutional bilingualism, as I am sad when I see that Premier Davis of Ontario who after having courted Quebecers during the referendum campaign, has chosen to be narrow-minded which is no credit to his fellow citizens, a majority of whom, according to the latest polls, would favour enforcement of Section 133 in their province. We can only hope that the Leader of the Official Opposition (Mr. Clark) will try to convince his big brother in Ontario to take a more favourable stance concerning the rights of Franco-Ontarians. I even challenge the Leader of the Official Opposition to show by some concrete action that equality before the law of francophones and anglophones is dear to his heart, as he has so often stated, and to bring forward an amendment binding Ontario to Section 133. I am convinced that he would gain stature in the eyes of Quebecers, and that the party to which I belong would be pleased to support such an amendment.
The house resumed at 8 p.m.
RESOLUTION RESPECTING CONSTITUTION ACT, 1981
The House resumed debate on the motion of Mr. Chrétien, seconded by Mr. Roberts, for an Address to Her Majesty the Queen respecting the Constitution of Canada.
And on the amendment of Mr. Epp, seconded by Mr. Baker (Nepean-Carleton),—That the motion be amended in Schedule B of the proposed resolution by deleting Clause 46, and by making all necessary changes to the Schedule consequential thereto.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Corbin): Order, please. When the debate was interrupted at five o’clock, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Secretary of State for External Affairs had the floor.
Mr. Louis Duclos (Parliamentary Secretary to Secretary of State for External Affairs): Mr. Speaker, in the few minutes I have left I would like to speak briefly to the issue of resorting to a national referendum. I have already indicated that I agree with the idea of seeking the opinion of the sovereign people in the case of a constitutional deadlock. I believe, however, that it would be contrary to the very nature of federalism if the federal government alone had the right to consult the sovereign people to break out of a constitutional deadlock which might develop between Ottawa and the provinces. The fact that one of the two levels of government unilaterally would assume the right and the twofold privilege of deciding when a national referendum will be held, and of drafting as it sees fit the question to be put to the people, can only create such an imbalance between the two levels of government that the spirit of Canadian federalism will be basically altered to the benefit of the federal government.
I would like at this point to make a distinction between the referendum held in Quebec and the referendum possibilities legislated by the Alberta government, and the referendum process provided in this proposed resolution, because the Quebec referendum, for instance, was only for consultation purposes, that is it did not bind anyone either constitutionally or legally, and only had a certain moral value. This is why I believe that Section 46 of the proposed resolution should be amended to allow the provinces, providing that seven of them representing more than 50 per cent of their total population agree to it, to initiate a popular vote across Canada in order to break a constitutional deadlock.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to complete my remarks by quoting, without comments, from a statement on the constitutional issue published last January 29 by the Assembly of Quebec bishops:
We do not see how social peace can be built on a Constitution which has not been agreed to by the contracting parties and the major partners of public authority. The possibility of achieving this peace would be even more remote in Canada since, according to the spirit of confederation and our legal tradition, any substantial amendment to the Constitution requires the agreement of Quebec for reasons which are deeply rooted in the basic duality of our country.
Mr. Speaker, because in its fundamental aspects this proposed resolution represents a step backward for Quebec, which expected a very different aftermath to the referendum, as clearly evidenced by the unanimous opposition to this proposed resolution of all provincial political parties in Quebec, whether
federalist or independentist, I shall unfortunately have to oppose it in the forthcoming vote.
Mr. Speaker, when I reflect deeply on the implications of this proposed resolution for the future of Quebec and of Canadian federalism, I cannot help thinking that the constitutional status quo before the referendum was not so bad after all.
Hon. Don Mazankowski (Vegreville): Mr. Speaker, at the outset I want to commend the hon. member for Montmorency, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Duclos) for his very fine and eloquent speech. I was most impressed with his frankness, sincerity, the depth of his feeling and indeed the courage with which he placed on the record his genuine feeling about this constitutional package.
He identified a number of serious flaws. I must say it was most refreshing for a man of his stature to stand in this House of Commons, and I am sure it was not easy for him, and speak with such deep feeling.
I want to say as well that I found his approach very reasonable. I think it is fair to say that many of us on this side share some of the feelings he expressed in his comments today. He not only pointed out some of the deficiencies and inadequacies in the resolution before us, but coupled it with a number of constructive suggestions which I hope his leader and members of his caucus will seriously consider. In many respects some of the reservations he has expressed here tonight are reservations which we in this party share.
I suspect there are a number of Canadians and, indeed, some members of this House who are torn sometimes between a compelling obligation on the one hand to get involved in this debate and an obvious reservation on the other over the fact that there is a perception that this constitutional debate has gone on too long. Many Canadians are undoubtedly becoming weary and bored with what appears to be an endless constitutional debate. I am sure there are a number of Canadians who are saying: whatever it is, let us get it over with, let us pass it and go on to some of the more important issues before us such as the economy, energy, jobs, transportation and agricultural matters.
I suspect it is fair to say, in talking to people in my constituency and across the land, that the Constitution is not all that appealing, at least to the vast majority of Canadians, nor is it considered a priority item.
Regardless of whether it is boring and somewhat incomprehensible to many Canadians and whether or not it should be of major priority, we have this resolution before us with which we have to deal. We have a responsibility and an obligation as members of this House to attempt to explain the contents of this resolution to Canadians. Our duty on this side is, of course, to draw attention to some of the weaknesses and try to warn about imminent dangers as a result of the passage of this package.
I must say—and I am sure you will share this view—there have been some excellent speeches. This has been an excellent debate. There has been a tremendous amount of work put into the speeches made in this House of Commons, and it is important that we consider them.
The importance of this measure has to be considered in the context that it will form the basic ground rules by which our country is to be governed economically, politically, culturally and socially. It also should be borne in mind that constitutions do not operate by themselves; they require people and institutions in order to work. Therefore, it requires a maximum amount of participation in the formulation of this basic structure, in addition to an eminent amount of good will, understanding and a solid commitment of the vast majority of Canadians, if the proposal is to work and provide that structural framework wherein our country can move ahead and function in a climate of harmony and fulfilment.
What I find most unfortunate and, indeed, disappointing is that this particular proposal is dividing our country as never before. The divisive and embittered environment within which this debate is being carried out is a result of the confrontationist tactics of this government. This has been brought about by the sleazy strategy outlined in that infamous leak of a cabinet document prior to the introduction of the resolution. This has been caused by lack of candour, and I refer here specifically to the exchange in this House about the government’s relationship with representatives of the British government. This unfortunate situation is the result of unilateralism, to which the hon. member who just resumed his seat referred as well, and the result of ignoring the wishes of the provinces.
Thrown in with this proposal is a very discriminatory energy program which is the most destructive policy ever perpetrated on an industry in this country. This government—and this as well has been alluded to by the parliamentary secretary—did not receive a mandate for constitutional reform at the last election, just as it did not receive a mandate to take over the pricing of oil. That is a provincial responsibility and, indeed, it has been worked out in the past through federal and provincial co-operation. Nor did this government have a mandate to confiscate or nationalize, as is proposed, and as is being done, under the National Energy Program.
One finds it passing strange that a resolution, ostensibly designed to renew our federation, should be greeted with such concern. A resolution, if it was going to renew our federation and provide that new impetus for renewed nation building, should be received with joy, enthusiasm, excitement and great expectation. It should be a cause for celebration. It should be a mechanism which is seen and perceived as one that will unite rather than divide us.
I submit, as I did earlier, that this proposal is dividing our nation. That division, I submit, will continue if the proposal is passed and it will cause irreparable harm to our country. This proposal is challenged by more than half of our federation. Some eight provinces are now opposed, with more than two
thirds of Canadians in opposition to it. It is rejected by a total region, that region wherein there are no elected representatives in this government, the western region. It is met with apprehension and deep concern. There is concern about the federal structure being under attack, concern about resources, concern about a possibly unitary state, concern about property ownership and a concern that the traditions and roots on which this country was built are being subverted or ignored.
Yes, this measure, in my view, does violate the spirit of federalism and the integrity of the provincial domain. What is most sad is that, in the process, our nation, instead of being drawn together, is being driven apart.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) and his Liberal caucus, together with what is left of his left-wing rump, may very well, in crass political terms, win this issue. They will ram it through, and legally they may even win. However, will Canada and Canadians be winners in the process? It will be some victory when you consider that, in addition to the provinces and growing numbers of Canadians, as the parliamentary secretary pointed out, all political parties in Quebec are opposed. The New Democratic Parties in the provinces of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Alberta and Quebec have publicly spoken against the action.
We have a number of senators in the other place who are speaking out, including Jean Paul Deschatelets, Andrew Thompson, Eric Cook, and John Godfrey of Ontario who said he would hold his nose and vote for the package, notwithstanding the fact he has some very serious reservations. Maxwell Cohen, one of the Liberal government’s expert witnesses before the committee, opposes the constitutional proposal. Gordon Robertson also is in opposition, and I could go on and on. This would be some victory.
One wonders, with a victory of this nature, how Canadians would respond in the final analysis to this constitutional package. Will there be a positive attitude? Will they feel comfortable with it? Will they feel a part of it, or will it perpetuate further bitterness and distrust? Attitude, in my view, is one of the most important elements that cannot be defined in words or in law. There must be a genuine sense that this law, which is not an ordinary one, will be respected and upheld voluntarily in spirit and, indeed, in fact. That can only happen if there is an attitude on the part of Canadians that this Constitution is a real, living, dynamic reflection of the Canadian way of life as interpreted through the individual eyes of Canadians.
There must be a sense of attachment, a sense of fulfilment and a sense of communion. There must be the assurance that one can preserve ones individuality within the oneness of a nation.
There are a number of other elements which are part and parcel of this resolution which are not defined in words, There must be trust, and trust must be fostered by actions, and by words. In order for unity to prevail, there must be trust and respect for the truth.
No community can survive, Mr. Speaker, unless there is a basic trust amongst its citizens, It is true of governments as it is of leaders, of business and indeed of the world of politics. The community must build on a foundation of trust so that co-operation and a sense of partnership can develop and indeed flourish, and that is the way it is in nation building, especially in our type of federation.
When we look at what has happened in this constitutional renewal process, we find that time and again we have witnessed the federal government and its spokesmen being less than candid. We have seen this government renege on its commitments, we have seen it withdraw and subvert; certainly their actions hardly create the climate of trust and confidence.
There is a deep feeling of mistrust in our nation today, a feeling that somehow someone is being had and is going to be had. There is anxiety where there should be confidence, goodwill and optimism, and when we look at the root of that problem, Mr. Speaker, we find it in the fact that this government is pushing through its constitutional reform proposals on the same platform of deception as it did in the last election campaign, as it is doing now with its imposition of the misleading fact of the National Energy Program which is confiscatery, which talks about Canadianization but in effect is nationalizing, pitting region against region, Canadian against Canadian, and singling out and attacking one industry in one particular region.
I repeat, this government has no mandate to do that. It did not receive one in the last election and does not have one now because it does not enjoy majority public support. Canadians are becoming increasingly suspicious and have serious doubts about this package.
The process, combined with other deliberate attacks upon the region of Canada from which I come, has caused bitterness and deep division, and I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that this will escalate with the passage of this resolution.
Now, the hon. member for Provencher (Mr. Epp), our spokesman on this resolution, has outlined in fairly succinct terms the reservations that we as a party hold with respect to this measure. There are three fundamental objections with which I want to deal briefly. One is the amending formula, and as the hon. member for Provencher indicated, as far as we are concerned, the Victoria formula represents an outdated mechanism, which no longer corresponds to the reality of Canada and is rejected by the vast majority of provinces. It is unfair because it creates different classes of provinces. Quebec and Ontario have, and always will have, veto power, and with the amendments which were passed in the committee stage it looks as if we have different classes of provinces in western Canada and the Atlantic region, and I cannot accept the principle of inequality in the status of provinces.
I cannot accept that western provinces, my province, will be treated as a second or third-class province in Canada, while other provinces have a perpetual veto. We have political alienation, an unhealthy mood in western Canada right now,
and this proposal will further exacerbate that issue and will create a double form of discrimination. We can only suspect there will be further alienation and bitterness as a result.
The reasons that we in western Canada are opposed to the amending formula are summed up quite succinctly on page 11 of the submission of the Premier of Saskatchewan, and I would like to put it on the record. It reads:
The proposed amending formula is the most unacceptable part of the federal resolution, the part which does most serious violence to the basic principles of federalism. Saskatchewan cannot endorse the resolution unless major changes are made in the amending formula.
In a federal state, the procedure for amending the Constitution is the most important part of the fundamental law. And the amending formula proposed in the resolution is so weighted in favour of the central government, so biased against the interests of the provinces, that it threatens to destroy the balance that is crucial to the maintenance of Canada as we now know it.
I think that sums it up fairly well.
Dealing with the interim amending formula, I can only agree that it is nothing more than an illusion, as has been alluded to by the hon. member for Provencher. This party offered an alternative amending mechanism. It may not be perfect, but I believe it is an approach which more accurately reflects the reality of Canada and at the same time sustains the fundamental federalist structure. I believe it can provide a basis for a strong central government without limiting the cultural and regional characteristics of Canada and, above all, it will respect the equality of the provinces.
The referendum proposal is something to which I object as well. To me, the binding referendum is a radical departure from the principle of parliamentary democracy. This particular feature of the package has the potential of being the most divisive clement in this resolution. We were told it was only going to be used as a deadlock-breaking mechanism, but the reality is that the federal government could trigger it at any time, and, in effect, it becomes a form of amending formula. It is a device which could circumvent provincial authority and thereby significantly alter our federal system. And we know what can be done in terms of manipulating public opinion, manipulating the rules and the question and, what is most important, and as has been alluded to by other speakers as well, only the federal government has the right to initiate a referendum. If you can manipulate the question and the kind of advertising for which this government is so famous, you can certainly receive the kind of answer they would naturally want.
The process is another issue to which I object and much has been said about it. I cannot accept unilateral action, It just does not work in this country and is not in keeping with the Canadian tradition. Asking Westminster to invoke changes without the consent of the provinces is certainly most unfair. We are asking Britain to do what we cannot do legally in this country.
There are other deficiencies and omissions. A lot has been said about the perfection of this package, there has been a lot of fanfare, but what I find, Mr. Speaker, is that when you sort out the rhetoric, you find that this resolution is deficient in many ways. What I find most unfortunate is that, throughout the process, some glaring inequities, which have been with us for many, many years, have been overlooked. They are inequities which have caused division in this country, which have caused alienation, and which have been ignored in the past and are being ignored in this measure as well. In many cases, those irritants are being exacerbated.
I give you as an example, Mr. Speaker, the matter of removing the equality of status of the provinces. The west is now, in effect, a minority. This measure will simply exacerbate that situation. Having total disregard for the provinces, in terms of its unilateralism is another measure. But what has been totally disregarded and ignored is the political inequality which exists in this country, inequality which shuts out one half of the country from the political process. To me, that is the number one issue in this country.
If it is language and cultural inequality which have caused the problems in Quebec, I say to you, Mr. Speaker, it is political inequality that is causing problems in western Canada today. That is what is at the root of the energy problem. It is at the root of western alienation. It is at the root and core of western separatism. Those irritants and those issues have not been addressed by this government, nor have they have been addressed in this resolution.
The west is dissatisfied because it is being ignored in the decision-making process. It is being left out. The west is a very dynamic and growing region, but it considers itself impotent because it does not have the political clout. That is why we have splinter groups and separatist movements springing up in the west. Unless there is some redress to this political inequality which will fester and continue to mount, it could be very detrimental to this country. We need electoral reform, be it Senate reform, be it proportional representation, or be it some other method. That balancing mechanism which was to be provided in the Senate has deteriorated to the extent where it is no longer useful.
I quote from page 41, of the Task Force on Canadian unity, which outlines the thought behind the Senate. It reads:
The role of the Senate and the method of selection of its members were extensively debated at the time of confederation. The method adopted was meant to counterbalance the principle of “representation by population” applied in the House of Commons. The Senate was intended to act as a house of “sober second thought” in reconsidering the legislation of the more “radically democratic” lower house, to protect the interests of private property (hence, the property requirements for membership), and to reflect provincial and regional interests.
The task force goes on:
Because of the method and the practice of appointment of its members which give the Senate at least the appearance of an institution rewarding friends of the government of the day, its credibility as a body representing regional interests and its general effectiveness have been undermined.
So we do not have that mechanism to provide for regional balance. The political inequality must be redressed. This is indispensable before the country can function harmoniously. All regions of Canada must be able to participate effectively in the decision-making process of our national government. If this is not done, tensions will build, divisions will grow and our federation will crumble.
As a westerner I can tell you very confidently, Mr. Speaker, that we as westerners want to build and not dismantle. But we as westerners must have an effective voice in the decision-making process. We must have a voice in plotting the direction and course of this nation.
I turn now to another major deficiency in this resolution, which is the failure of it and of the government to address the continuing erosion of our economic unity—this economic union called Canada.
I believe that in order for our country to be strong, the Canadian common market must be strong. Since we have been so preoccupied with issues that divide us, we overlook the fact that many of the factors which can unite us can also provide economic stability and growth and foster interdependence and opportunity.
We must not overlook the tremendous potential of our economic partnership in this country. The balkanization of our economy by provincial governments aided and abetted by federal policies—which are sometimes inward looking policies and sometimes very selfish—do not augur well for our national economic future. What is most unfortunate, given the kind of climate, the poisoned environment in which we find ourselves now, is that I do not hold out a great deal of optimism for that to improve. That is so because this government does not consult and co-operate. It employs the tactic of confrontation. And the situation is not improving; it is deteriorating. I must say that in the past 13 years, this Prime Minister has failed to address that very fundamental problem.
To emphasize the importance of the point I want to make, I would like to quote from a document entitled, “Interprovincial Economic Co-operation Towards the Development of a Canadian Common Market” issued by the minister of industry and tourism for the province of Ontario, the Hon. Larry Grossman. At page 6 it states:
If we are to succeed in our quest for a strengthened nation and a renewed Canada, then we must in fact begin by making a commitment and a conscious decision not only to rework constitutional arrangements but to build solid economic relations among the regions of Canada.
We need a new set of economic and political relationships that can accommodate our existing strengths across this country—in the maritimes, in Quebec, in Ontario, and in the west—in such a way that we reinforce each other in a genuine partnership that creates a stronger and more united whole.
But the problem has been that in recent years the traditional economic links between the Canadian provinces have been eroding.
And it is that erosion of economic links that could, if not reversed. threaten our very survival as a nation.
I say to you, Mr. Speaker, that if this nation is to survive, it must do so not only as a viable political unit but as a viable economic unit.
For my part, there are far too many impediments and far too many restrictions to the free movement of goods and services, labour and capital, in this country. We must start removing the barriers rather than constructing new ones. The same study cites another fact which I would find amusing if it were not true. It is stated at page 6 that:
In fact, Canada’s ambassador to the European Economic Community has stated “that there are now fewer barriers to trade among the countries of Europe than among the provinces of Canada.”
What has been done in the last 13 years? There has been a build-up of barriers and impediments, not a removal of them. There has not been co-operation; there has not been a working together. All the fault does not lie with the provinces. It is stated in the same study:
However, the “barriers to trade”, issue is really only symptomatic of a broader and perhaps more important problem: that is, the lack of co-ordinated regional economic development strategies.
In fact, it is the development of competitive rather than complementary regional economic development strategies that is threatening the very economic framework that is necessary to sustain us as a nation.
Barriers are not only frustrating, they are costly. They retard progress and create tension. The province have tended to internalize the economic benefits of their provincial economies. In so doing, they have borne a cost in terms of greater economic integration and specialization. As a result of this specialization, our import level of manufactured products is the highest of any nation in the world. Why? Because we have fragmented our own domestic market. We have failed to look at the whole, and have simply addressed the parts. We have adopted a tunnel vision approach. We have failed to recognize our own market potential. If we do not do something about this, our manufacturing sector will continue to flounder and we will fail to achieve a vibrant economy. There are many, many impediments: provincial procurement policies, the equivalent of many non-tariff barriers, the lack of uniform provincial standards, and liquor buying practices. In my province of Alberta there has been a beer strike for almost a year. Whom did it benefit? It benefited the Americans; there has been a real market for American beer. Also there are licensing and certification practices, barriers to capital and labour mobility, competition and land purchase policies, hiring practices, marketing boards, restrictions on the mobility of professionals, fiscal and non-fiscal measures, and so on. We forget that we are not only political partners; we are economic partners.
Transportation is a subject which is very near and dear to me. I should like to refer to Part Ill of the National Transportation Act which was passed in I967. It was to provide a framework for extra provincial trucking in Part III. It has never been passed or implemented. The federal government regulates rail, air and marine transportation through a system of regulations, and provides the mechanism for policing and enforcing. In the area of motor vehicle movement, there are ten different sets of regulations; there is no uniformity. It frustrates the orderly movement of interprovincial trade, It is costly and creates dead heading. At this time when we are looking at improving our energy efficiency, it is wasteful and, above all, it mitigates against establishing an integrated multimodal national transportation system.
These impediments, restrictions and unco-ordinated approaches mean lost opportunities for Canada and for Canadi-
ans. Surely it is time to talk about regional co-operation in Canada. At page 9, the study concludes as follows:
We have a clear choice: We can, at this critical time in our history as a nation, continue to balkanize our country’s economy, or we can develop a unified Canadian Common Market, with combined interests, shared objectives, and mutually beneficial goals.
We can use our differing strengths as a basis for building a strong Canadian whole. Or we can restructure the individual units, failing in the end to ensure a firm foundation upon which we can develop and strengthen as a nation.
This is the kind of impetus I would like to see not only in the resolution but, indeed, in action through federal-provincial co-operation. I have had some experience in this area; I know it can be done, but it depends upon the attitude of the federal government. Rather than confronting, if the government used a policy of consulting and co-operating, many of these issues would be overcome. The government has been an absolute failure over the last I3 years. It has further perpetuated the barriers and impediments to the free interprovincial movement of goods and services.
I should like to speak briefly about the charter of rights. Again, there are deficiencies There has been much misleading rhetoric by members on the other side. If we listened to them, we would be led to believe that all of a sudden Canadians will receive a host of new freedoms and rights. That is nonsense. Quite the opposite is true. I submit that the charter will probably limit our freedoms. It will place a new emphasis on the courts, without any changes in the selection process, without any modification of the checks and balances. It will be the judiciary rather than the legislatures who will have the final say.
Mr. MacKay: Who has more compassion?
Mr. Mazankowski: Yes, who has more compassion? We have heard a lot said about multiculturalism. I welcome the incorporation of the spirit of multiculturalism in the Constitution, but when it comes to implementing the spirit of multiculturalism and adjudicating which institution is best qualified or has the most compassion to see that it is instituted in a human fashion, certainly it is not the courts. I would suggest that Parliament is more appropriate.
I should like to deal with the areas of property rights. I am appalled by the hypocrisy of the Liberal Party and the blatancy of the NDP. If ever there was a fundamental right and freedom near and dear to me and the people I represent, property rights are one of the most profound that westerners and all Canadians want preserved.
An hon. Member: What about P.E.I.?
Mr. Mazankowski: We have talked about P.E.I. I think there is a way around that. The right to own and enjoy property is very basic and fundamental. That right is denied as a condition of NDP support. The NDP members do not want it because they say it will impede the governments ability to expropriate, confiscate or nationalize. The right to own land, be it farmland, recreational or family residence, is enshrined in the constitutions of many western nations. It is protected by law and by custom. The right is as fundamental as the well-being of the society, a right we all know and share. It is as fundamental as freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom of assembly and freedom of the press. Many of our ancestors in western Canada were lured there by the thrill of owning their own land.
Finally, any charter which does not recognize the supremacy of God, the dignity and worth of the human person, or the pre-eminence of a family as a unit, is absolutely deficient. This is the foundation upon which our society was built, upon which our society rests. I could speak about this matter for quite a while, but it has been referred to by most Members of Parliament. Every day we open our proceedings here with a prayer and we swear our oath of allegiance on the Bible. At the end of each throne speech delivered at the opening of a session of Parliament, we ask Divine Providence for guidance in our deliberations. One wonders, when the supremacy of God is omitted, whether this package can be taken seriously. Obviously there must be some reason for the omission. Perhaps it was a condition of the NDP support. It looks as if this package were a package of convenience. When one looks at the dissenting views and the way in which the government has accommodated some and rejected others, one must question the seriousness and whether in fact this is a resolution of convenience.
If we choose to exclude the reference to the supremacy of God, where are we and where are we going? This hypocrisy is further evidenced in the government’s refusal to entrench the right to life and to stop the legalized slaughter of the unborn. What could be more fundamental in a charter than the preservation of life itself? I see those as major deficiencies.
In conclusion, I reiterate that the government was not given a mandate to impose a unilateral constitutional package on this nation. It was not given a mandate to impose the degree of state intervention and domination that we see in selected areas of the economy.
It is this deceit, dishonesty and total lack of political integrity which are causing very serious problems and divisions in the country. I submit that the passage of this resolution will exacerbate, not ameliorate, those divisions and that bitterness.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Bill Domm (Peterborough): Mr. Speaker, on the occasion of this crucial debate on the future of our country, I would first like to pay tribute to all those hon. members and senators who devoted their time and their very best efforts to the work of the joint committee. I congratulate too the co-chairmen of the committee for their judicious and sober guidance. Most of all, I recognize and congratulate the many Canadians who travelled to Ottawa, many at their own expense, to exercise their right to be heard. This was perhaps the noblest act, for they are the Canadians participating directly in drawing the blueprint for the survival of Canada.
Just in the past month, the Prime Minister of Canada (Mr. Trudeau) said:
The kind of opposition we bring against ourselves I find exhilarating.
He said this in the Liberal wilderness of British Columbia. This is perfectly in keeping with a man who would subscribe, in this day and age, to the manifesto of Machiavelli rather than to the supreme majesty of God. Nothing characterizes the spirit with which the Prime Minister entered into his latest attempt to change Canada through constitutional reform than that guiding epigram of the Italian manipulator. I quote from his epigram:
There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than the introduction of a new order of things.
The Prime Minister is fond of quoting classical dictums from sources as diverse as Shakespeare and Plato. Indeed, he values them not just rhetorically, but as matters of guiding principle. We saw this in his attitude at the first ministers’ conference last summer. His being so keen a student of Machiavelli, I recommend this quotation to the Prime Minister and ask him to take heed:
Many have imagined republics but he who abandons what is done for what ought to be done, will bring about his own ruin.
By the way, Machiavelli also remarked, with admirable relevance for today, that:
when neither their property nor their honour is touched, the majority of men live content.
I suggest that the Prime Minister’s greatest exhilaration—if, indeed, he is exhilarated by opposition—will come when the people of this country turf him and his party of sheep out of office for having impinged upon both their property, by failing to protect it, and their honour, by imposing closure on their elected representatives in this House. I might add that they are tarnishing the honour of all Canadians, as my friend, the hon. member for St. John’s East (Mr. McGrath), said, by: shaming and embarrassing them all by having the Parliament of the United Kingdom reject a joint resolution of the Parliament of Canada.
The Prime Minister is the first to take the unprecedented steps. He is the first to move unilaterally on matters of Constitution. Why does he speak in such horrified tones? Why does he speak in veiled and threatening language when the possibility of the British parliament using unprecedented steps is raised?
We are playing under the rules of the Prime Minister. It is he who has dictated the length of the game and the object of its goals. He has appointed the referee and the place where it is to be played. Why does he squawk now and say that he will take his ball home if people who are not on his team realize that his game is rigged from start to finish?
Since 1979 members of the Liberal Party of Canada have enjoyed absolutely no power at the provincial level in the country. In 1980, they were brought back, led by the invisible man, a non-leader, on false promises and big carrots. They have absolutely no representation west of Winnipeg, and representation there, for a start, has, rightly, alienated 51 per cent of the population of Canada. More than half of their members are from the province of Quebec.
It is absolutely ludicrous that the Prime Minister even presumes to speak for Canada on a matter such as this, on the matter of our futures and on the matter of the futures of every single person in Canada now and who will arrive in the future. Does it have to be reiterated that fully eight of our provinces, two of them original partners in confederation, vehemently oppose both the matter and the manner of his initiative—or, should I say, his ambition? In the face of this, in Vancouver he said that he has managed, to use his words, to split both parties on this side of the House. He has the unmitigated gall to say such a thing when he alone is responsible for perhaps the biggest split and the gravest divisions which have confronted our country for generations.
How is it that the Canadian people, at least as far west as Winnipeg, allow themselves to suffer what has been termed, in philosophical studies by Lacan and others, as “charismatic abuse”? Why do they allow this same abuse to be brought down upon them to the extent that their Prime Minister, their political leader at home and abroad, feels that he can afford to provoke a confrontation between Canada and Britain for internal political gain which threatens to poison relations between our two countries for years and decades to come?
Is this the image they want abroad. the “tough-guy” Trudeau sneering behind his cloak of innuendo, misstatements and false report? His Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. MacGuigan) is the laughing stock of the diplomatic world, when the Department of External Affairs was the hero of the world a mere 14 months ago. His representative at the court of St. James consider themselves latter-day gumshoes—the James Bonds of the north—and make ridiculous suggestions and equally ridiculous recommendations as their strategy for the coming fray.
Good Lord, I daresay that Canada’s image abroad has taken such a beating that the prestige gained from the great diplomatic triumphs of the fifties and the sixties have undoubtedly been lessened. This crew, this band of cowed and deluded people across the floor, presumes to carve out a new constitutional image of Canada, new rules of life and new rules of behaviour. It has the audacity to point to alleged splits in the opposition—especially with regard to members of the left— thereby demonstrating again its collective vanity and arrogance. At least in the socialist party there is some attempt to provide for sincere dissent in the ranks. At least in their position one can see some co-relation between party philosophy and party action.
What of the sheep opposite? What, in their constitutional manifesto, is markedly and specifically Liberal as opposed to Conservative or socialist? What separates them from other policies such as the National Energy Program, which confirmed them to be socialists in sheep’s clothing?
I am sure that a classic and quite recent definition of political Liberalism would be instructive at this juncture in order to inform members opposite what it is they purport to be. Liberalism in politics, said Wayne Lyman Morse:
—can be defined in terms of objectives. A major objective is the protection of the economic weak within the framework of a private property economy. The Liberal… emphasizing the civil and property rights of the individual. insists that the individual must remain so supreme as to make the state his servant.
Indeed, just as the hon. member for Provencher (Mr. Epp) reminded the House last week, governments cannot be supreme. It is the people in a democracy who must be supreme. This is a principle which I and my colleagues on this side of the House, at least, heartily endorse.
Would any socialist Liberal opposite care to subscribe at this moment to that classic definition of Liberalism? Would the Prime Minister? At least the hon. member for York Centre (Mr. Kaplan), through a momentary aberration or “fit”, no doubt, subscribed for a short time to the right to own property before being brought to heel by his master’s voice and reversed his previous decision and voted against the right to own property.
Next to freedom from religious persecution, I doubt that any right has more respect in Canada than the right of the individual to own property. Many Canadians can say that is why they came to Canada. These Liberals, however—and I use the term loosely—did not allow the right to own property in their charter. Are they who control the state truly servants of the people, as their particular philosophy maintains, or at least should maintain? The three principles of federalism are: diversity, rights and consensus. What did the Prime Minister and his partisans make of these three principles? For diversity they substitute sameness; for rights they substitute prejudice and discrimination by omission, and for consensus they substitute confrontation and unilateral action.
I remind hon. members opposite of what the hon. member for Provencher so rightly stated, and I quote his words: “Governments cannot be supreme; it is the people in a democracy who must be supreme.”
Professor Peter Russell of the University of Toronto said, and said very plainly, “I believe that this country is built on an understanding that the fundamental terms of our federation, particularly the powers of the respected levels of government, will not be altered by unilateral action—”
He added that “—there is a very strong, arguable case that, unless the statute of Westminster is amended there is a legal bar on the British parliament to go ahead without provincial consent for a resolution of this kind.”
Professor Russell also pointed to the use of the word “dominion” in the constitutional arrangements between our two countries and noted, “Dominion might mean more than the dominion parliament.”
This brings to mind the timely reminder to the House made by the hon. member for Provencher that the Fathers of Confederation themselves preferred, as a guiding passage, the spirit of divine majesty paramount in this country. “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea.”
In his futile attempt to justify the government’s attempt to change the nature of confederation according to its own wishes, the hon. member for Hochelega-Maisonneuve (Mr. loyal) stated in his speech: “The level of government that is actually losing the most power in this process is the federal Parliament.”
On the contrary, as Professor Russell pointed out, if this proposal should go through, “—it would seem … to… put the provincial legislators in a subordinate position in the Canadian constitutional structure.” He also pointed out to the Canadian people as the co-chairman of the committee hoped he would, that if that proposal went through, “—it would mean that the British Parliament can reduce the powers of the provinces without their consent, which is not happening to the federal Parliament.” Professor Russell concluded that this course of action will “—rearrange our federal system into a system of a hierarchy of power rather than a division of powers between sovereign legislative bodies.”
I hope that I have impressed upon the House the clear fact that, try as the government might, to legitimize its proposed resolution by selective quotations from the past, in fact it is a bogus process and one that will simply reorganize the division of powers between the bilateral levels of government in this country without the consent of one side of that division.
Patriation, an amending formula and a charter of rights: these are the three elements in the resolution. The government wanders through a hall of mirrors in its priorities as it favours a charter of rights above the other two elements in the package that express contradiction to the polled will of the people whose primary concern is to patriate their Constitution. Let us discuss this step by step.
As we have repeated endlessly, Her Majesty’s loyal opposition, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Clark) stated on October 2, is entirely in favour of the principle that “the Constitution should be brought home to Canada without delay.” We in the opposition and the people of Canada have absolutely no difficulty with this admirable aim, and the Prime Minister should be gracious enough to stop trying to suggest that somehow we are against this, because we are not.
Resistance to the government’s proposal began to build when we encountered the amending formula which it has attached to patriation.
First and foremost, if the entire package came to the country under the very formula being proposed, the Victoria formula, it certainly would not pass. What is more, it would not pass at either stage—the consent of the provinces stage where Ontario, Quebec, two Atlantic provinces and two western provinces have to approve, or the referendum stage where it is put to the people.
This fact, above all, must condemn the resolution as it stands before this House; that under its own terms it would never be approved by the Canadian people. Resistance reaches a crescendo, however, when we come to the third element of the package, the charter of rights.
As the joint committee heard, and as the people of Canada should hear, for it bears any amount of repeating:
—the process of entrenching rights in the Constitution is about as serious a constitutional act as a nation can ever undertake for it means in theory that certain powers are to be withdrawn from the representatives elected from time to time by the people, and it establishes a new set of limitations on what elected legislatures can do for the people.
In that sense, it involves nothing more nor less than a change in the social contract between the governed and the government and it entrusts the judiciary with the task of interpreting the terms of that contract.
You will remember, Mr. Speaker, that I mentioned earlier the hon. member for Rosedale’s (Mr. Crombie) three guiding principles of Confederation: diversity, rights and consensus. To these may be added three more from one of our leading constitutional authorities: that the process of constitutional change should be considered, that it should be popular, and that it should be unifying.
This brings us to the point where we can crystallize the essential difference between the government’s proposal and the Conservative alternative. That crystallization is the matter of process, for it is here that we differ fundamentally; it is here that the government has departed from the will of the country; is here that it has affronted the rights and dignity of the provincial legislatures, and it is here that it threatens to provoke a bitter feud with the Parliament of Great Britain, perhaps our dearest and most amicable friend in the world.
Let us examine this point of process as it applies to both the amendment formula and the charter of rights. Under the proposed formula, any province attaining “a population of at least 25 per cent of the population of Canada” according to any census, past or present, would be forever armed with the power of veto over proposed amendments. The reasons for this clause, as it applies to Ontario and Quebec, are very clear. It implies that for a very long time to come, all the other provinces will be relegated to a second-class status, without having, singly, the power of veto.
However, it seems to have escaped the attention of this government and, indeed, of the entire country, that this veto power could be extended to a third province in the future by virtue of this entrenched requirement.
Could not Alberta or British Columbia, for example, be viewed as major contenders to become the third province in Canada to attain 25 per cent of the total population and thus acquire the power of veto over all parts, all regions, of the country, if it was in their interest to do so?
Let no member mistake my remarks that somehow they constitute an anti-provincial or an anti-western position; rather, they are meant to indicate a position of national democracy based on broad consensus and not on regional prejudice.
As an expert witness to the committee pointed out, the Victoria formula gives any province that acquires 25 per cent of the population the power of veto. In this regard, he said, “You must remember when you are talking about constitutions that you are not talking about a law for today or tomorrow or this decade. We are talking about a law for centuries ahead.”
This is a point of view that I could heartily endorse. I encourage all members to realize that what we are debating will be conceivably a matter of importance for centuries, not just for the last year or two of the Prime Minister’s tenure.
This describes just one example of the shortcomings of the amending formula. Another no less important weakness deals with the area of native and aboriginal rights, so hard fought for in the committee and over the years. It is instructive to look behind the highly publicized recognition of aboriginal rights which have been given recently.
In Section 35(2) of the present proposal, in Part IV which deals with constitutional conferences, provision is made to include in the agenda of the conference the following:
—an item respecting constitutional matters that directly affect the aboriginal peoples of Canada,—
Section 35(2) further on reads:
—and the Prime Minister of Canada shall invite representatives of those peoples to participate in the discussions on that item.
Who will the Prime Minister appoint to represent these people? Which representatives of the native people will the Prime Minister invite to attend? Who will decide the item on the agenda?
In the aftermath of all the delirious self-congratulation in the committee on the recognition of aboriginal rights, what has been the more sobre upshot of it all? What do the native peoples themselves say to the doubletalk of the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (Mr. Munro), the member for Hamilton East, who said that failure to entrench the charter of rights “would be an intolerable disappointment to the native people—” if aboriginal rights were not entrenched?
What are the native people saying to the Leader of the New Democratic Party (Mr. Broadbent) who said in his speech that “no one in Canada, no government or individual will again be able to disregard the rights of Canada’s original people.” In a word, they are saying “nonsense.” These rights may be entrenched, but how will they be interpreted? They will be interpreted by the courts, by government appointed judges to the Supreme Court. They are the ones who will interpret difficulties or confrontation over aboriginal rights. That is the “government” and the “individuals” mentioned by the Leader of the New Democratic Party who, in the future, will decide native rights.
Del Riley, the President of the National Indian Brotherhood which consists of ten provincial and two territorial groups and represents 300,000 Indians, said he will resign over constitutional amendments that ultimately provide for the courts to define aboriginal rights. Indian provincial groups in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec have threatened to withdraw from the National Indian Brotherhood unless these constitutional amendments are dropped. And I know that Indian groups in my own riding in Ontario, represented by the Union of Ontario Indians, are opposed to the government’s constitutional amendments.
This is clear to the Indians and the native peoples of Canada. They know what the government is trying to do. They will not be fooled again. The native people realize that what these constitutional amendments really mean is that the government is seeking a cowardly and ignoble way out of fulfilling its responsibilities directly to the native peoples, as it is required to do by the BNA Act, and trying instead to devolve that power to the Supreme Court, an appointed, not an elected body, Where is the democratic representation in that move?
So much for the minister’s intolerable disappointment. He either does not understand the implications of the charter of rights or he is in collusion with this infamous attempt to rob the Indians of their ancient rights.
I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that indeed this proposal does not guarantee the continued participation of the native people of Canada in their own constitutional destiny; that it does not guarantee their rights, as alluded to in Section 33; and that it does not guarantee that fair and representative native counsel will be sought during the two-year interim period between passage of the act and the coming into force of Part VI of the act.
Briefly put, the amending provisions of this act do not accommodate, beyond the two-year interim period, any future participation, of the native peoples of Canada in any further constitutional change that may affect them, their treaty rights, or their aboriginal rights; none at all.
Furthermore, under Section 132 of the BNA Act and the natural resource transfer agreements, it is clear that Indian rights are the responsibility of the federal government, and the federal government alone. While there is provision in the amending formula for at least a measure of provincial participation in future constitutional change, there is absolutely none for aboriginal peoples. Clearly this gives rise to an obvious constitutional contradiction. It will be quite possible that in the future the provinces will be part of a decision-making process which might change the Constitution as it relates to native and aboriginal rights. Indian and native rights are exclusively and always have been the responsibility of the federal government.
As I mentioned before, these are the shortcomings in the amending formula before us. As if they were not bad enough, the greatest resistance to the package must be when it comes to the third part, the charter of rights. Resistance, the voice of reason, must be heard with respect to this part in two distinct ways: first, as a matter of principle, and second, as a matter of substance.
The Minister of Justice (Mr. Chrétien) has asked with passion how can we, the members of the opposition, “stand each in turn and move preposterous amendments to the charter of rights and then the next day . , . vote against it.”
I am very happy to endorse the hon, member for Provencher’s reply to this. He said that “—in order for the charter to find agreement among Canadians, it must be more than words—it must enjoy consensus and legitimacy—and—what Canadians want is a charter which is carefully considered and approved by Canadians in Canada!” And that is why I can approach the charter from two points of view, the point of principle and the point of substance.
Now, as far as the principle of a charter of rights is concerned, I agree entirely with the hon. member for Rosedale who said that one of the things “our forefathers learned about rights was their rights lay in the common law, that they did not need to have their rights listed; that the only listing came when those rights were reduced, that if they can write it down then they can take it away.”
I also agree entirely with Professor Russell of the University of Toronto, who said in January that “I am not one that sees a need for a great deal of change, we have one of the oldest Constitutions in the world (dating back to I215) and I think we have done pretty well by it—.” As Professor Russell said later, “I have not heard any strong, good, clear reasons why the entrenchment of rights has to take place now and through the British Parliament.”
I consider this to be very sound reasoning, notwithstanding the tedious and, at times, hysterical screams from across the floor about the need in Canada for a charter of rights. What members opposite constantly fail to point out in the midst of their high-blown speeches on equality and so on, is that it is not so much that these rights are new and will be newly protected on the passage of this charter, as that the process of interpreting these rights will be new. Make no mistake that in the aftermath of the passage of this bill, if it occurs, and for literally centuries afterwards, the Supreme Court of Canada will judge the validity and extent of these rights and will stamp their interpretation on them for all time. These rulings will be binding.
Now this means essentially that the function of interpreting human, civil and democratic freedoms in this country is to be taken out of the hands of the 282 elected representatives to the House of Commons and put in the hands of the government-appointed judges to the Supreme Court of Canada, This is the devolution, or should I say the centralization of power that we are talking about, and the people of Canada should make sure they are fully aware of this before this bill goes through.
What we are doing is Americanizing our judiciary and imposing upon the Supreme Court a political burden of great weight, one that they have never had before. Who knows how, in future decades, the Supreme Court will interpret these marvellous and noble rights that everyone is going on about?
As was said in committee, this charter does not guarantee rights or freedoms, what it does is guarantee a change, a very significant change, in the way in which decisions are made about rights and freedoms.
Can members on both sides of this House be assured that Canadians want to Americanize their system of government? Are they being given that clear choice? The Prime Minister, quite simply, is taking away from Parliament the power and the process of democratically discussing fundamental principles of freedom and is putting that power into the hands of a few, a very few, members of the judicial branch of govern-
ment, members who will be appointed by the government in power. I want to inform the people of Canada that their rights and freedoms presently protected and advanced by Parliament will in future be manipulated and interpreted for them by the imaginations of lawyers, as one expert witness said, and the size of an individual’s bank account, for that shall be their only recourse.
This is the clear and simple fact of the case, and it is futile for members on the other side to try to attach some sort of anti-motherhood, anti-rights and freedoms bias on the voices of opposition here. They know that we speak the truth and the situation will be a I have described it. For the benefit of these true detractors of freedom opposite, I would like to acquaint them with the words of the eminent twentieth century philosopher, Hand, who addressed this question in 1942 in a far more eloquent and pertinent way than I have heard any hon. member opposite do. He said that a society so driven that the spirit of moderation is gone, no court can save; that a society where that spirit of moderation flourishes, no court need save; that a society which evades its responsibility by thrusting upon the courts the nurture of that spirit of moderation, in the end will perish.
The Progressive Conservatives want our Constitution brought home and we want it brought home immediately. Last October 2, that was made very clear in this House when the motion was moved by our leader. That motion was voted against by members of the government. The Progressive Conservative Party wants a fair and workable amending formula, arrived at by consensus. The Progressive Conservative party wants the rights and freedoms of Canadians guaranteed in our Constitution.
Our members on the constitutional committee worked effectively to improve the draft charter of rights and freedoms. Thanks to PC initiatives, significant improvements were made in provisions dealing with the handicapped, the deaf, the denominational schools, and the territorial representation at future constitutional conferences.
We would like to see more improvements, too, We believe our Constitution should acknowledge the ultimate supremacy of God, it should guarantee the right of individual Canadians to own property, and it should be strengthened to ensure the true equality of men and women. We want the best possible charter of rights and freedoms for Canadians. But we insist that our rights be approved in Canada, not finalized by the colonial act of another country.
We have proposed that kind of formula—the Vancouver consensus—which as late as last September was accepted in principle by all of the provinces. The Vancouver formula would require that any constitutional changes involving both levels of governement be approved by the federal government, plus at least seven provinces representing at least 50 per cent of the Canadian population. It would protect essential provincial interests involving the rights and powers of their legislatures and the ownership and control of their property and natural resources, all areas in which the provinces have been guaranteed protection since confederation began in 1867.
The Vancouver formula would allow constitutional changes to be approved by Ottawa plus a reasonable provincial majority. It would treat all provinces as equals. The Liberals want a very different kind of amending formula. Under their proposal, two provinces, Quebec and Ontario, would have a permanent veto over any constitutional change, regardless of whether or not they had at that time 25 percent of the population. There would be a different set of rules for Atlantic provinces, and still another set of rules for provinces in western Canada. Provinces would cease to be equals; instead, we would have first, second and even third-class members of the confederation.
The Prime Minister also wants to give Ottawa unilateral power to use a referendum to make constitutional changes without any reference whatsoever to the elected provincial governments and legislatures. That would end completely the partners of Canadian federalism.
There is no doubt in my mind that what this country is moving toward is a new type of government, Perhaps you can call it socialism, perhaps you can call it a republic, but the most important and most dangerous aspect of this move to a new form of government is that it is changing what we have grown to know, understand and appreciate as a group of equal partners coming together freely and willingly. It is changing it into a strong, central, unitary government and it is not going to be accepted by the majority of the people of Canada.
Mr. J. R. Ellis (Prince Edward-Hastings): Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) is fond of pointing out that the debate on the Constitution has been going on for almost 50 years. He has said that the consent of the provinces has been sought for 53 years and that for 53 years we have failed. Before I finish my remarks this evening, I intend to point out the fallacy of these statements together with a number of others.
To take part in this historic debate on the twelfth day of March in the year of our Lord I981 is, of course, a privilege, a privilege that must be extended to every Member of Parliament, It may be difficult to place a different perspective or perhaps a perspective more meaningful to the area I represent in light of all those things that have already been said by those who have already spoken. However, to not enter into the debate and by my silence perhaps indicate, even directly, a support of the government action which is not there would be unthinkable.
I did not personally sit on the committee that undertook an extraordinarily heavy workload for some 14 weeks. Some might say because of that the voice of Prince Edward-Hastings was not properly heard on the committee and in the debate, and that my brief intervention here will not be sufficient. I suggest that I was well represented on the committee, as were the people of Prince Edward-Hastings.
I say with all the emphasis I can muster that on February 4 when the hon. member for Provencher (Mr. Epp) introduced an amendment to write into the Constitution that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth of Canada is indeed the Queen of Canada
that my interests were being fully represented and properly expressed, as were the wishes of the majority of the people of Prince Edward-Hastings. That was not so when one of the Liberal members of the committee, Mr. Lapierre, stated that within two years we would be rid of the monarchy.
I believe in the rights we enjoy through the parliamentary system, the rights we enjoy through the common law, and the rights which are protected by the Crown. I believe it is important in our Constitution that we guarantee the role and the status of the monarchy, and I for one want to retain that heritage rather than have the republican system being forced upon us.
I was well represented on the committee, and so were the people of Prince Edward-Hastings, when the Hon. Perrin Beatty introduced, with great clarity and detail, an amendment having to do with the right to own property. The family farm, the family business and the family home represent some of the most fundamental elements of Canadian society. Yet, anyone who has ever dreamed of owning his home, farm or business will be disturbed by the fact that, while the Diefenbaker Bill of Rights included the right to enjoy property, the charter of rights proposed by this government in the Constitution is mute on the subject. I believe the right to own property is a fundamental right, a right which should be enjoyed by all Canadians, yet the government opposite with its majority voted down that right.
It is interesting to note that the particular amendment was supported by many organizations from all across Canada, including the Canadian Organization of Small Businesses, the Canadian Bar Association and many others, yet it was turned down. It is indeed frightening that a socialist Prime Minister, supported as he is by a supposedly socialist opposition, purposely wants to omit this right from his charter of rights.
Once again I was well represented on the committee, as were the beliefs of the people of Prince Edward-Hastings when the hon. member for Rosedale (Mr. Crombie) introduced an amendment having to do with the position of the family—and that is the belief of the people of Prince Edward-Hastings— affirming that the Canadian nation is founded upon principles, and acknowledging the supremacy of God, the dignity and worth of the human person and the position of the family in a society of free individuals and free institutions; affirming also that those individuals and institutions remain free only when freedom is founded upon respect for moral and spiritual values under the rule of law.
While perhaps not as many people think about it as often, I know my interests and, therefore, the interests of the people of Prince Edward-Hastings, were being well served when the hon. member for St. John’s East (Mr. McGrath) spoke on the clause dealing with the freedom of information. We all know the extent of government in Canada, the growth of the bureaucracy and the threat it imposes on the individual in terms of an individual’s right to know what the government knows about him. With the computerization of information and the use of the SIN by the government and by institutions, wrong information and, in some cases, information no longer relevant, can plague a person for the rest of his or her life. Surely under these circumstances they should be entitled to know exactly what is in the file, and they should have that right under freedom of information.
To deal with a more technical aspect of the process, Senator Duff Roblin, on February 2, spoke eloquently on why the so-called Vancouver formula should be used rather than that proposed by the government. Senator Roblin is no stranger to Prince Edward-Hastings, having spoken there on a number of occasions, as indeed have all the other members of that committee.
Basically, what Mr. Roblin was proposing was that the provinces be consulted and given a far more equal chance to create the changes necessary in our Constitution rather than having the federal government do it alone.
So without being present at the committee hearings and without taking an active part in the committee itself, I am content that my interests and those of the people whom I represent were well cared for by that committee. It is indeed unfortunate that each of those rights I have just quoted were turned down by the Liberal majority.
It is my considered opinion that over the almost 114 years of our confederation, we have had very little to be concerned about by way of freedom. It seems to me we are more endangered now by the implementation of the Prime Minister’s charter of rights than we ever were before. Not to have these various rights written down has never bothered me. I knew they were there. To write down only some of them indicates that the rest are not available to me, and that concerns me very much.
Why is it so necessary to force a charter of rights through the British parliament at Westminster? Why must we rely on another Parliament to do what we should be doing here at home? Before I answer that, I want to make a point which is particularly important to the people in my area.
The Prime Minister repeatedly and emphatically refers to Great Britain, the United Kingdom, as a foreign country. As one whose parents were born in that foreign country, I resent that allegation very deeply. I resent it more for the way in which it is said than the words themselves. I am confident the hon. member for Grey-Simcoe (Mr. Mitges) does not consider Greece a foreign country. I am confident the hon. member for Prince George-Peace River (Mr. Oberle) does not think of Germany as a foreign country, at least not in that context. These are the countries in which their parents were born. These are friendly nations, along with many others, which are the birthplaces of many Canadians. This does not make them foreign in the context the Prime Minister uses those words.
As a matter of fact, my father who came to this country in 1913 and voted in every election from the time he was old enough, now, of course, requires a citizenship in order to vote. He, like many others who thought of themselves as British
subjects, now must have that piece of paper before they can vote.
It is very obvious to me, and apparently a large number of Canadians, that it is not necessary to involve our friends at Westminster. We could and should do the job ourselves. The Prime Minister made it very clear in his statement of October 2, in his Regina speech of October 29, and at many other times and places, that he cannot achieve an agreement with the premiers of the provinces of Canada. I wonder perhaps if it is not possible that the fault is not all with the premiers. Let me review for a moment just who those ten men are.
The Premier of Quebec, a dynamic and controversial public figure in modern Quebec, was a war correspondent in battle torn Europe. The Hon. Rene Levesque was one of the first western journalists to enter a concentration camp after the war. In political life he was, in part, responsible for Quebec Hydro, but he left the Liberal Party to become the leader of the Parti Québécois and a separatist government. He has no support for his actions in this House, but one wonders about the strain imposed by a former colleague on him, the present Prime Minister, perhaps causing such actions. It is interesting to note that another colleague, the Liberal leader of the opposition in Quebec disagrees just as fervently with the Prime Minister.
Premier William Bennett of British Columbia knows the world of family business, having operated his own furniture and retail appliance store in the interior of the province for many years. Could it be that the reason they cannot agree is that the Prime Minister has absolutely no knowledge of the working of private business and, frankly, has never had any interest in it?
The controversial Mr. Peter Lougheed, premier of the province of Alberta, has played football and climbed mountains and done those athletic things that the Prime Minister seems to revel in. In addition, he has a Master of Business Administration degree. Would that our present Prime Minister had any knowledge of administering a business! Perhaps we would not be in the trouble we are in today if he did.
Premier Allan Blakeney is an interesting comparison, a highly intelligent individual, as is the Prime Minister, a Rhodes Scholar and one who has socialized or nationalized, industry, whichever you prefer, in the province of Saskatchewan, just as the Prime Minister intends to nationalize the oil industry and perhaps others in Canada.
An hon. Member: What about PWA?
Mr. Ellis: Surely they should have much in common, yet Premier Blakeney cannot abide the plans of the Prime Minister. Not only has he withdrawn his support for the proposal but so have the federal Members of Parliament from this province.
Premier William Davis, one of the oldest in terms of length of service to his province, has agreed to support the package after receiving certain concessions from the Prime Minister.
Mr. Beatty: Order, order. Show some courtesy.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for Prince Edward-Hastings (Mr. Ellis) has the floor.
Mr. Ellis: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Their heckling does not bother me. It shows, as it did to others in this House, the respect they have for the Constitution.
I was saying, Mr. Speaker, that Premier Davis is philosophically opposed to many of the policies of the Prime Minister. Let me make the point here that Mr. Davis has spoken out strongly about entrenching the monarchy and those rights of which I spoke a moment ago. His support is therefore very important to the Prime Minister.
Mr. Hatfield, another Conservative premier, has also agreed to support the Prime Minister’s package. Again philosophically opposed to the Prime Minister in many areas, he has seen fit to support his proposals without some of the concessions gained by Mr. Davis.
Premier Brian Peckford of Newfoundland, a former school teacher, some would say a brash young man, who sincerely and with tremendous spirit fights for the people of Newfoundland, wants for them a better way of life and sees the offshore oil as a way of achieving it. It seems to me that a common sense application of provincial rights, as has been proposed by the Right Hon. Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Clark), would make an ally of this man.
Premier John Buchanan of the province of Nova Scotia is a lawyer and the son of a coal company employee in Sydney. He worked in the blast furnaces of the Sydney Steel Corporation before entering university, and obviously knows what it is like to work, and work hard, for a living. Could one suppose that this is the reason why he and the Prime Minister disagree so strongly on this matter?
Premier Sterling Lyon, who grew up in the rural province of Manitoba, took over that province after the socialists had virtually bankrupted it, He found absolute chaos, and only by the toughest of legislation was he able to start turning the province around. Perhaps it is because he is so tough and so very Canadian that he is the leader of those who oppose the Prime Minister in his Constitution attempts.
Last, but certainly not least, our very, very good friend the Hon. Angus MacLean, Premier of the province of Prince Edward Island. There is so much that one can say about this quiet Canadian who has done so much for his province, both in the federal House and as premier. Perhaps when you understand that he was shot down as a bomber pilot over Germany during the Second World War, that he escaped from imprisonment and walked the length of Europe to escape from the Nazis and return to fight again, when you compare that with the picture of the present Prime Minister driving around Montreal on a motorcycle with his black leather jacket and his helmet with a swastika on it, perhaps you have some idea of the deep philosophical difference—
An hon. Member: I thought you had class.
Mr. Ellis: Of these two men, I leave you to judge who would carry the admiration of the majority of Canadians.
So that when the Prime Minister says it is not possible for him to achieve an agreement with the premiers of Canada to go to Westminster, as he should with their unanimous support for this package, maybe, just maybe, it is not the fault of the ten premiers. Maybe, just maybe, it is the fault of an arrogant Prime Minister who will not listen, who does not understand and cares little for the fabric of life of most Canadians, the same Prime Minister who for a number of years got away with arguing against wage and price controls and then put them into effect, who argued against an increase in gasoline prices and home oil costs and then implemented higher prices, who talked about free enterprise and now nationalizes the Canadian oil industry, Is it any wonder that a growing number of Canadians, some 64 per cent at last count and probably much higher now, want nothing to do with the Prime Minister and his package?
His Excellency, Jules Leger, in a speech to the Prime Minister at the time of his appointment as Governor General, finished with these words of Paul the Apostle:
Who makes you, my friend, so important? What do you possess that was not given you? If then you really received it all as a gift, why take the credit to yourself?
How different, when on June 17, 1864, in order to gain co-operation for his dream of a new nation, John A. Macdonald went the extra mile and called on George Brown in his St. Louis Hotel to bring about the broad coalition that ultimately became the federation we call Canada. It was not the first time he had bent, had compromised and, through discussion and negotiation, brought about an agreement between opposing views. How different the persuasion by logic and reason to the confrontation tactics of our present administration.
His Grace, Archbishop Ted Scott appearing before the committee said:
Governments have jurisdiction but they do not have rights in the same sense that people do—they are called to be servants of the people.
And I would quote, Mr. Speaker, the editor of the Trentonian, a small newspaper published three times a week in a town just adjacent to mine where my hon. friend, the hon, member for Northumberland (Mr. Hees) has his constituency, and distributed in my riding, who said this:
Thus the problem which is the major one in what is now happening is one that has affected everything the Trudeau government has done since it first came to power. It tries to do essentially right things by wrong methods. In a true democracy, which is what we are supposed to be, the method is as important as the end in view. Trudeau’s present course of action reveals an attitude on his part which we have seen all too often, which being spelled out, means that he seems to think the end justified the means. That is had philosophy.
Finally, the last of my quotations, Mr. Speaker, is from my good friend, Phil Dodds, the sage and conscience of Cherry Valley. Writing in the Picton Gazette he said:
The change will not mean a great deal to the majority of Canadians; it will not provide jobs and help the million unemployed; it will not reduce the crushing burden of debt; it will not reduce inflation, or in any general way make for a better life. One thing it is sure to do is to cause further disunity in a country that can only really progress if there is unity and co-operation.
Certainly there is need, and I think an expressed desire by many, perhaps the majority of Canadians, to have their own Constitution in Canada. I feel that way. Certainly it is time that it was done. But the reason for doing it should not be to satisfy one man’s ego. It should be done by Canadians, for Canadians, with the help of all Canadians.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Ellis: Our party has offered an easy out for the Prime Minister, and that is to split the bill, bring back the Constitution with an amending formula that, while not entirely agreed upon, is very nearly so. It seems to me that the best thing the Prime Minister could do for his country would be to step down, retire and allow someone else who has the best interests of this country at heart to a far greater degree, rather than personal egotism. I am confident that those ten men, whose various backgrounds I described a few moments ago, would come together with someone of the right calibre and move ahead to make this a better Canada.
Hon. Erik Nielsen (Yukon): Mr. Speaker, at seven minutes to ten I am not about to embark on the substance of my remarks. But tonight I want to put in the right perspective what I will say tomorrow.
When I first came here, which is longer ago than I want to reflect upon, we in Yukon felt neglected. There was a sitting Liberal member at the time who had been here for eight years. We have had a member since 1903, which is before many of the provinces became provinces. We thought that perhaps a solution to assist in our economic ills, our lack of development and our lack of progress—since the Marshall Aid Plan was still in force at that time—was to declare war on the state of Alaska, lose it, and then apply for Marshall aid. This gives you some idea of the view which we in the north held with respect to the manner in which southern Canadians viewed themselves—their mentality reached to the sixtieth parallel and no further.
The other event that I wish to draw to the attention of hon. members, in order to put things in proper perspective for tomorrow, is with respect to a great deal of reading I did before I came here, To my shock and dismay I found that of the three districts in the Northwest Territories, the Mackenzie, Keewatin, and Franklin districts, there is only one which was represented in Parliament, namely, the Mackenzie District. The hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles), who is entering the chamber now, was not here at the time I introduced my private bill. But I am sure he is aware of the fact that the Franklin and Keewatin districts of the Northwest Territories were not represented in Parliament. The Mackenzie District was. The member for Nunatsiaq (Mr. Ittinuar) now represents that area; but in 1957 there was no representation there.
At that time, I introduced a private member’s bill which would have given the franchise, the vote, to those Canadians
who live in that part of Canada. There was some resistance to that bill. I wondered why and I made inquiries. When the answer to the question came forward from the Privy Council Office as to why there should be resistance to a measure which would give the franchise to these Canadians in these two districts of the Northwest Territories, the answer was that they were mainly Eskimos in that part of the country and they would be extremely susceptible to the views of the Anglican church, which dominated those two areas of Canada. Therefore, they said it would be too dangerous to give these people the franchise. That was the answer given to me. Of course, it was an answer which I rejected out of hand, which every fair-minded Canadian would reject. Eventually the measure was passed the same year it was introduced. Hence, we now have sitting in this place the hon. member for Nunatsiaq.
Those two illustrations might give hon. members some idea of the sense of isolation that we in the two northern territories have felt for a long time. It is what I often call the “southern mentality” or the “southern Canadian syndrome.” So often in this debate, I have heard expressions like “federal-provincial”, “across Canada” and “from sea to sea.” There has been nothing said that takes the mental vision of Canada beyond the sixtieth parallel which, after all, composes some 40 per cent of our country in land and water mass. That is very difficult to understand for Canadians who have lived in the north. The only place I have heard the expression “from sea to sea to sea” has been on this side. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Clark) said it in his remarks, as did the hon. member for Provencher (Mr. Epp), and as did others from our party who have participated in this debate. They have mentioned the three seas of Canada. They have used the phrase “throughout Canada” instead of “across Canada.”
At this time of one minute to ten o’clock I want to leave that thought with you, Mr. Speaker, before embarking tomorrow on the substance of my remarks as to how I feel about the fact that we in the north have been left out of these constitutional considerations and how, in all justice, we should fit into these constitutional considerations.
May I call it ten o’clock, Mr. Speaker?
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!