Canada, House of Commons Debates, “The Constitution”, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess (29 April 1980)

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Date: 1980-04-29
By: Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Canada, House of Commons Debates, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, 1980 at 510.
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Mr. Lorne Nystrom (Yorkton-Melville): Madam Speaker, my question is also for the Prime Minister: it is on the constitution as it pertains to the aboriginal people of this country.

I should like to ask the Prime Minister if he is prepared to negotiate with Canada’s aboriginal people the entrenchment of certain collective rights for them in any new Canadian constitution.

Right Hon. P. E. Trudeau (Prime Minister): Madam Speaker, the question is too general for me to do it justice in this particular forum. If the hon. member would indicate what he means by collective rights, we might have a little discussion about them.

Mr. Nystrom: A supplementary question, Madam Speaker: Is the Prime Minister willing to negotiate with these people the entrenchment in our constitution of certain collective rights? Those rights could be defined in future negotiations between the Indian people of this country and the federal government and perhaps the provinces.

In principle, is the Prime Minister in agreement with the entrenchment of certain collective rights for the Indian nations of this country in a new Canadian constitution?

Mr. Trudeau: Madam Speaker, I apologize to the hon. member, but I repeat: if he is asking me a theoretical question without indicating what he has in mind–

Mr. Nystrom: Will you negotiate?

Some hon. Members: Oh, oh!

Mr. Trudeau: There seems to be a bit of worry over there. The position I have always taken on these discussions-but I realize it is perhaps not the forum to do it-is that there are very few collective rights which cannot be protected by reducing them to individual rights. I should like to know more from the hon. member about what he has in mind.

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