Canada, Senate Debates, “Motion for an Address to Her Majesty the Queen—Debate Continued” (25 February 1981)
By: Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Canada, Senate Debates, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, 1981 at 1848-1855.
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DEBATES February 25, I981
MOTION FOR AN ADDRESS TO HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN-
The Senate resumed from yesterday the debate on the
motion of Senator Perrault that an Address be presented to
Her Majesty the Queen respecting the Constitution of Canada.
Hon. Edgar Fournier: Honourable senators, once again I
feel it my duty at least to attempt to make a modest contribu-
tion to this long and complicated debate on patriation of the
Constitution. This will likely be my last effort in the Senate,
but it should not be thought of as my farewell notice.
Although I did not participate in the struggle and confusion
of the study itself, I nevertheless followed the events through
Hansard, the news media and the public in general. Without
hesitation, I would admit to some ignorance on the matter.
However, I have great rcspcct for all the members of the
Special Joint Committee on the Constitution who worked so
hard, day and night, with conviction and determination, in an
attempt to bring about a greater Canada. But I wonder what
they accomplished. What is Canada today, and what will
Canada be tomorrow’! What will patriation change, if
During my absence from the chamber over the past few
months, whenever my health and the weather permitted I
travelled through my province to feel out the attitude of the
people there towards the Constitution. At this point I must
endorse the remark of my friend, Senator Denis, when he said,
“Personally, I feel that Canadians have had enough of Consti-
tution talk.“ I would add the word “referendum”. In the eyes
of the public, these two words have resulted in confusion,
grievance and sometimes hatred. Today the people of New
Brunswick are confused, frustrated and very nervous. Few
understand just what is going on in Ottawa and why there is
all this fuss when there is so much else to be done.
As I was saying, the people of New Brunswick are frustrat-
ed, confused and even disgusted with what is going on in
Ottawa, when there is so much to be done, and so many
projects are being neglected or suspended.
Their main concern is the additional expenditures Canadi-
ans will have to pay for in order to satisfy the ambitions of
certain politicians and the ensuing abuses. For the vast majori-
ty, the Constitution is really of secondary importance. Actual-
ly, the Constitution itself is no great problem. The real prob-
lems are unemployment, the cost of living, the cost of gas and
heating oil, the cost of food and domestic products, and, to top
it off, the rise in interest rates and its disastrous effects.
Add to that repeated strikes in the public services in which
too often the citizens are held hostage; and the progress of
technology and automation which substitutes machines for
men and women.
In a word, inflation in all respects: that is what the people of
New Brunswick are concerned about today. And I sincerely
believe that their feelings are shared generally right across
I have classified the findings of my interviews into five
groups. First, there are the retired pcoplc whose dream of a
happy retirement is constantly being destroyed by in?ation;
then the professionals who are in agreement that our Constitu-
tion should be in Canada; and, third, the blue~collar workers
with steady employment who are in agreement that the Consti-
tution should be in Canada, but very few of whom could say
why or even know why.
The fourth category is the man on the street, our labour
force, the backbone of our society. The majority of these
people could not care less where the Constitution is kept. Their
main concern is the future of their children. They are frustrat-
ed by high interest rates, the increasing cost of heating fuel,
gasoline, food, clothing, and inflation as a whole, including the
devaluation of our dollar. Many of these people have had to
seek out secondary employment in order to make both ends
meet, but there is still the virus of income tax which takes the
better part of their revenue.
The fifth and final category deals with the people on wel-
fare, who are quite happy with the situation as it exists. I
found that the majority of these people were very confused
over such words as constitution, patriation, unilateral, bilater-
al, referendum and others.
The people of New Brunswick are worried about the extra
cost, which will run into the millions, and the time which will
be wasted, and they cannot understand why there is such a
rush when there are so many other things to be done. I have
been told by some people that it is time for Canada to stop
spending money to uphold the monarchy in England; that
Canada should have its freedom. Others are complaining
about the lack of freedom and of being slaves to the Common-
wealth. I might inform my friends from New Brunswick that
at no time has the monarchy ever interfered with Canadian
laws or administration, either federally or provincially. In my
opinion, Canadians have too much freedom, and this is why
everything seems to be out of control. l
Another group is of the opinion that patriation will cure all
the weaknesses of our society. I have news for them. As for
Canada today and Canada tomorrow, patriation of the Consti-
tution, in my personal opinion, will not change anything. The
cost of living will continue to rise at a frightening rate, and it
will not produce a bit of energy. The cost of heating oil and
gasoline will continue to rise. Patriation will not prevent the
price of food and domestic products increasing. It will not
reduce the interest rates which are strangling our society.
Patriation will not restore the value of the Canadian dollar,
create a single job or influence mortgage interest rates or
inflation. It will not put an end to the strikes in our society
where, in so many instances, people are taken as hostages.
The Canada of tomorrow will be the same as the Canada of
today. The ony addition will be the millions of dollars which
Canadians will have to pay to satisfy the ambitions of some
leaders of our society. Perhaps, if it is not already too late, the
Canadian people should take the time to explore the word
February 25, 1981 SENATE
“dictatorship” and the consequences thereof. Certainly,
Canada should be the master of its Constitution. After all,
what is a Constitution‘? A Constitution is simply the rule book
Hon. H. A. Olson (Minister of State for Economic Develop-
ment): Honourable senators, I rise to make a brief contribu-
tion to this historic debate, proud of being part of bringing
Canada to full maturity as a nation.
We have reached a turning point in our constitutional
history. lf the proposed Joint Address under discussion is
passed, we, like all sovereign nations, will have a Constitution
that is thoroughly Canadian and one that can be amended and
improved within our own country to keep pace with the
changing reality of our dynamic country.
We all realize the importance of the question before us.
Political partisanship, in my view, has no role in this discus-
sion. We ought to present the arguments in the spirit of true
Canadians, bound by the same interest and seeking a common
end. I do, therefore, commend Prime Minister Trudeau for his
personal sacrifices in endeavouring to bring our Constitution
Senator Flynn: That proves your point.
Senator Olson: Some complain that the federal government
is acting unilaterally and proceeding with this matter before a
thorough discussion has taken place. The allegations are, of
course, untrue. There is no more important matter than that
which all other law must be based upon. There is also no
matter that has been examined and debated more thoroughly.
it has been under actual consideration for at least 10 years–~
indeed, under intense examination for the past 10 months, in
addition to the many unsuccessful attempts going back at least
After the First Ministers’ Meeting in September, a debate in
the Senate and in the House of Commons, and three months of
hearings before a joint committee of the House of Commons
and the Senate, the matter is now placed in our hands.
Politicians have cautiously and, I suggest, thoroughly exam-
ined the proposed Joint Address to the Queen. Representations
from hundreds of groups across the country have been
received; amendments have been proposed, and some amend-
ments have been accepted.
There are three aspects to the proposed Joint Address before
us: first, there is patriation of the Constitution; second, the
provision for an amending formula; and third, a Charter of
Rights. I would like honourable senators to examine each of
these in turn, albeit very briefly.
The majority of Canadians demand the patriation of their
Constitution. For over 50 years, Canadians have sought ways
to bring their Constitution home, and since the passage of the
British North America Act in 1867 we have made consider-
able progress. We have always been able to amend the unwrit-
ten part of our Constitution, such as our system of cabinet
government within Canada. By bringing our Constitution
home with an amending formula, we will have created a
mechanism to permit a change when necessary. No longer will
we go abroad to amend our own Constitution.
Honourable senators, I am convinced that there can be no
patriation without an amending formula which provides for
something less than unanimous agreement among the ten
provinces and the federal government. Throughout our history
we have found it extremely difficult to reach unanimous
agreement on constitutional change among all eleven govern-
ments. Simple patriation would place Canadians in a constitu-
tional straitjacket. For 54 years we have sought an amending
formula. The attempts of 1927, 1931, 1935-36, 1961, 1964,
1971, 1975-76 and 1978-79 failed. This impasse cannot contin-
ue. For this reason‘, the government has proposed the amend-
ing formula agreed to by all eleven governments at Victoria in
Finally, in this Joint Address there is a provision for a
Charter of Rights. As a Canadian from western Canada, 1
have always upheld and respected the rights of individuals in
the state. Consequently, 1 strongly support the insertion ofa
Charter of Rights in this proposal. lt is with some pride that 1
come from western Canada which has always promoted such a
notion. The first Bill of Rights in Canada was passed by the
Saskatchewan legislature in 1947. The first act of the present
Premier of Alberta when he came to office was to pass a
similar bill in that province. Such actions should be applauded.
However, if rights and freedoms are dependent upon govern-
ments of individual provinces, there will be no rights and
freedoms common to all Canadians. I believe that Canadians,
wherever they may live in Canada, should have common rights
The charter brings fundamental freedoms such as freedom
of speech and religion. Most important, it establishes one
Canadian citizenship by guaranteeing the freedom to live and
to seek employment anywhere in this country.
The charter also includes language rights and recognizes the
multicultural nature of our society. We, in western Canada,
are proud of the long history of Eng1ish- and French-speaking
Canadians working together to build that part of our country.
From 1670, when the British Crown granted a charter to the
Hudson’s Bay Company over Rupert’s Land, English-speaking
Canadians have joined their French-speaking compatriots in
helping to explore and develop the region. Indeed, the very
idea of a bilingual country is not foreign to the west. From
1877 to 1892, the Northwest Territories, which then included
the present provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta, were
The Honourable Leader of the Opposition sits and laughs
and makes funny noises, although he promised a few days ago
that he would not. 1 take this debate very seriously.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Senator Olson: What l am saying is not particularly new
because it has been said before but, to set this matter in
perspective, l will rcview some of the events that have hap-
pened in the past when we have had matters of great impor-
tance before the Parliament of Can_ada.
1850 SENATE DEBATES February 25. 1981
Over the past 114 years Canada has been enriched by the
arrival of many immigrants of various ethnic origins. The
multicultural heritage of Canada is such an essential part of
the fabric of our nationhood that it must be re?ected in our
Constitution and it is. Finally, this proposal recognizes, for the
first time, the aboriginal rights ofthc Indian, the Inuit and the
Metis peoples of Canada. Together, we will build a great
In examining the Charter of Rights, I think of the speech
made by Sir Wilfrid Lauricr in Edmonton, the capital of my
native province, on September 1, 1905. The very day Alberta
entered Confederation as a province, the then Prime Minister
Let me say to one and all, above all to those newly our
fellow-countrymen, that the Dominion of Canada is in one
respect like the Kingdom of Heaven, those who come at
the eleventh hour will receive the same treatment as those
who have been in the field for a long time.
We want to share with them our lands, our laws, our
civilization. Let them be [Canadians], let them takc their
share in the lifc of this country, whether it be municipal,
provincial or national. Let them be electors as well as
citizens. We do not want nor wish that any individual
should forget the land of his origin. Let them look to the
land of their ancestors, but let them look also to the land
of their children. Let them become Canadians… and
give their heart, their soul, their energy and all their
power to Canada—
Honourable senators, l am proud to stand on thc side of
history. Today, we are witnessing the same type of debate as
has gone on several times in our past. Every time there is an
occasion to build and strengthen Canada‘s nationhood, there
are those who resist. Two great issues come to mind immedi-
ately in this respect: the debate over the establishment of a
distinctive Canadian flag, and the debate over Canadian
The question of the flag goes back to I925. It was the year l
was born. Al that time, again in 1945-46, and finally in 1964,
essentially the same arguments were made. Those opposed
never find the timing right. There are always more pressing
matters that should be discussed. For example, on June 17,
1925, the Mm‘! and Empire printed the following letter:
Sir,—With regard to the proposal of changing the
Canadian flag, we of the rising generation who expect to
control the destiny of our country in some not far distant
day, wish to enter a protest»–a most emphatic protest.
Surely the Government in such times as these, with strikes
and unemployment threatened on all sides, could turn
their hands to something of greater national importance.
Although timing is often an excuse, the real reasons for
opposition always surface. In 1925, Mackenzie King’s attempt
to give Canada a distinctive flag was opposed by those favour~
ing the Union Jack–—-the flag of another country.
‘ Charles D. Stabbing wrote a letter on June 18, 1925, to the
Mail and Empire, in which he sounded a typical note:
THE UNION JACK FOREVER. The Union Jack was, still
is, and always will be our flag. It was the ?ag that many
brave fellows died for, and is the flag that all veterans in
Canada are living for. It is not certain at this moment
whether Mr. King is under the influence of the United
States in his desire for a change of flag.
Such opposition caused Mackenzie King to drop his idea of
giving Canada its own ?ag until 1945. At that time, former
Prime Minister John Dicfenbaker led an attack against the
idea. He said;
There is no subject on which one could speak that gives
greater opportunities for exalted expression of sentiments
than the flag . . . One hundred and fifty years ago on my
father’s side my ancestors came to this country in order to
seek freedom under the Union Jack. My maternal ances-
tors came to the Red River as Selkirk settlers. They came
to this country which had as its emblem the Union Jack.
After a joint committee of Parliament sat from November
27 until December 4, 1945, and from March 29 to July 12.
1946, after 14 public sessions, after 2,695 designs were con-
sidered and after 42,168 written submissions were received,
Mackenzie King had enough of flags and let the matter drop.
Senator Grosart: High time, too.
Senator Olson: In 1964, former Prime Minister Lester B.
Pearson took up the matter again. This time Mr. Diefenbaker
led the opposition again. He said:
If the government had calculated a means whereby
division could succccd in this nation, they could not have
gone about it in a more effective manner.
There were other equally ill-considered comments by
Canadians throughout the country, and I refer in particular to
one dated May 20, 1964, from Montreal, and I quote:
As citizen and churchman I earnestly deplore the
design of the projected new flag as pagan and a flat
rejection of Canada’s Christian heritage.
Senator Flynn: Try to be relevant.
The glory of the Union Jack is the union of three Chris-
tian Crosses. How unworthy, how unfeeling to replace so
inspiring a symbol with one reminiscent of a hockey team
or an Indian tribe.
How can the Canadian government expect priests and
clergy to bless a national flag which utterly ignores our
holy heritage? _
Senator Flynn: What has that to do with the debate‘?
Senator Olson: The same lamentable story that occurred
during the ?ag debate took place in April, 1946, during
discussion of the Canadian Citizenship Bill. Senator Croll has
drawn that to our attention a number of times. At that time,
Mr. Kidd, M.P. for Kingston City, claimed there was no
urgency in the matter. He said that the whole question of
Canadian citizenship should be postponed, as it had been in
February 25. I981 SENATE DEBATBS I851
Senator Flynn: Bring back conscription! Come on!
Senator Olson: Mr. Church, M.P. for Broadview, went
further. He claimed that the Citizenship Bill:
~invaded thejurisdietion of the provinces. I suggest there
should be a reference to the Supreme Court of Canada
under the Supreme Court Act to find out whether Parlia-
ment has power to enact a measure of this kind of
citizenship. I believe that it has not, and that it is ultra
vires of the dominion.
Furthermore, he added, that it was:
—one of the most unfortunate measures ever brought
before the House of Commons and will create more
disunity in Canada than we have seen since Confedera~
Honourable senators, he continued:
I believe that this bill is going to lead to a lot of
disunity in this country. It is based on the statute of
Westminster, which changed the status, autonomy and
sovereignty of this dominion. This bill is based on that
Senator Flynn: Oh, come on!
Senator Olson: In exasperation, he asked:
Who is asking for this bill? We do not know. If the
government put the bill through they will live to regret it.
It may satisfy some people in the country, but I would
point out that we all owe allegiance to one sovereign and
one empire. British citizenship is the greatest thing in the
Senator Flynn: Do you contest that’?
Senator Olson: Honourable senators, there is something else
that l hold higher than that, and that is Canadian citizenship.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Senator Flynn: Try to be relevant. You are entirely
Senator Olson: Although these cries of woe were uttered as
recently as 1946, they sound strange in our ears and in the ears
of all Canadians who are proud that they can call themselves
Canadians, and who are able to do so legally. That is impor~
tant to me.
Senator Flynn: What has that to do with the present
Senator Olson: By virtue of the law I am now able to call
Senator Flynn: Nobody disputes that.
Senator Olson: By virtue of the law that Mr. Kidd and Mr.
Church so vehemently denounced in 1946. It is the old Tory
line, and I do not want to get into this partisanship e
Senator Flynn: Obviously.
Senator Olson: –»but he is asking me to do it.
Honourable senators, that is—-
Senator Flynn: Cheap and dirty!
Senator Olson: ~that is some of the history of–I hope you
Senator Flynn: Cheap and dirty!
Senator Olson: I hope you realize that is being recorded.
Senator Flynn: If that is the kind of speech you want to
make, you will have to put up with my protests. lfyou want to
lower the debate to that level, we’re willing to accommodate
Senator Olson: You are not keeping your promise. You said
you were not going to interrupt.
Senator Flynn: You are worse than you have ever been.
Senator Olson: No. If the honourable senator wants to make
my speeches for me, he may as well read them, too.
Senator Flynn: Nobody would make that kind of speech
Senator Frith: I would.
Senator Flynn: I don’t doubt that for one moment. I had
forgotten about you.
Senator Frith: And some others.
Senator Olson: What I have repeated to you today is some
of the history of important debates that have taken place in
Honourable senators, what shall history say about the
debate on the proposed Canada Act of I980‘? Are we to rise to
the occasion and make our children proud of us‘? This measure
is advantageous to all Canadians.
Senator Flynn: Ask Mr. Ryan.
Senator Olson: As George Brown——~
Senator Flynn: Ask Mr. Ryan about that.
Senator Olson: As George Brown, a Father of Confedera-
tion, while arguing for the British North America Act itself.
Let us approach this measure as a sharp critic deals with
abstract questions, striving to point out blemishes . . . but
let us approach it as men having but one consideration
before us—the establishment of the futurc peace and
prosperity of our country.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Senator Flynn: Ask any political party in Quebec about
that. Surely you don‘t think that the senators from Quebec
re?ect truly the feelings of our people when they show
unqualified support for this resolution.
Senator Olson: Honourable senators, I leave the subject to
your judgment in the belief that the decision you render will be
worthy of the Parliament of Canada.
I want to conclude my remarks by expressing my apprecia-
tion to Senator Hays, the co~chairman of the committee, and,
DEBATES February ZS, I98]
indeed. to all othcr senators for the valuable contribution they
made to this important resolution.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Senator Flynn: That is the most despicable speech I have
ever heard in this place. Absolutely shameful!
Hon. Richard J. Stanbury: Honourable senators, to calm
things down a little, I will begin by congratulating Senator
Hays and the other members of the committee who really
worked very hard and did a very comprehensive and conscien-
tious job. I know that all of us extend to them our congratula-
tions. Congratulations are also in order for Senator Austin for
his lucid explanation of the resolution and the process through
which it passed in the committee.
Senator Tremblay displayed the erudition to which we have
become accustomed. In many cases, my only response, in the
time available, can be that I disagree with him. I must say that
I disagree also with Senator Cook on his basic point concern-
ing the Charter of Human Rights. I am more saddened by his
scolding of the Prime Minister. I was in England two weeks
ago and found no such interpretation being put upon the
comments of our Prime Minister or of our Secretary of State
for External Affairs on matters which are obviously seen as
being of sincere concern to all Canadians.
lheard the speeches of Senator Fournier and Senator Olson
as sincere expressions by two distinguished Canadians.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Senator Flynn: Sincere? So far as Senator Olson is con-
cerned, I disagree.
Senator Stanbury: I accept as being completely sincere the
remarks of Senator Fournier, and I would expect similar
courtesy for the frankly expressed opinions of people on the
other side of the house.
Honourable senators, I was honoured to chair the Special-
Senate Committee on the Constitution during the Thirtieth
and Thirty-first Parliaments. During this Parliament I chaired
the Subcommittee on Senate Reform, which was a part of
Senator Lamontagne’s Subcommittee of the Standing Com-
mittee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. In the Special
Senate Committee on the Constitution we studied and made
recommendations concerning the subject matter of Bill C-60,
and that was one of the parliamentary processes which helped
to evolve the principles contained in the present resolution.
Senator Lamontagne’s committee continued that process of
evolution, and its work on a Charter of Human Rights has
been re?ected in several ways in the present resolution. That
process has now been going on through the Thirtieth, Thirty-
first and now the Thirty-second Parliament; it has been going
on for several years, and for anyone to suggest that it has been
hurried is little short of ludicrous.
There are many aspects of the work of those committees
which have not yet come to fruition. The present resolution is
extremely limited in scope. It deals only with the patriation of
the Constitution, the adoption of an amending formula, and
the enactment of a Charter of Human Rights. Those are
important elements in giving the Canadian people an opportu-
nity to deal with their constitutional problems, but they are not
the problems themselves and mark only the bare beginnings of
the work which has yet to be done.
By now we all agree that we have serious problems in our
interprovincial, federal-provincial and inter-regional relation-
ships in Canada. The product of those problems is regional
alienation, The national policy of Sir John A. Macdonald,
reflected in the B.N.A. Act of 1867, is long since obsolete.
That realization has become more and more pronounced over
the last 50 years. From time to time during that period we
have made many efforts of varying seriousness to restructure
our system in a way that will meet the needs of a modern
It has also become obvious that cosmetic surgery is not
enough, that we need structural change. We need a reform of
Parliament, of both houses, to better represent the competing
vested interests and regional needs of the country.
There have been many suggestions for abolition or reform of
the Senate, as if that by itself would be enough to repair the
lopsided parliamentary representation of people and interests
on Parliament Hill. I believe most people now realize that the
future demands that the House of Commons be differently
constituted as well as a new look being taken at the makeup
and powers of the Senate.
How is significant parliamentary reform to be accomplished
except by changes in the Constitution, and how, in the present
circumstances, can those changes be accomplished‘?
Although we naturally begin by differing on what we are
looking for in a realignment of the division of powers between
federal and provincial governments, there seems to be very
little disagreement with the suggestion that there does need to
be a re-examination of the powers exercised by each levcl of
government, a redefinition and a rationalization of those
powers, I dream of our governments coming to the table in a
reasoned way to settle those questions in the manner best able
to serve the interests of the Canadian people.
I confess that sometimes those dreams, based on observation
of past experience, turn into nightmares; but how else are we
going to be able to resolve those problems except by constitu-
tional changc, and how, under the present circumstances, can
those changes be accomplished‘?
If the restructuring of Parliament and the redefinition of
governmental powers are troublesome areas, which must be
addressed to alleviate our national agony, then surely the
experience of settling fiscal arrangements will be horrendous.
All we have to do is to recite some of the statistics. Federal
transfers to the provinces, for which the provinces make no
accounting whatever, now constitute 25 per cent of the federal
budget. Only 33 per cent of the tax dollar is now spent by the
federal government. Sixty-six per cent is spent by the prov-
inces. The per capita income from all resources in Prince
Edward Island in 1978-79 was $3; the per capita income from
resources in Alberta was $l,874.
February 25, l98l SENATE
There are fantastic differences in ?nancial resources avail-
able to provincial governments in Canada‘s l0 provinces, and a
growing resistance among the “have” provinces to the concept
of a sharing coininunity. Before we reaclt agreement in that
difficult area there will be many financial and emotional
crises, but they will only be laid to rest when at least the
principles of sharing can be written into the Constitution. How
can that be done under the present circumstances’?
I have just identified three of the problems which must be
tackled by way of amendment to the Constitution. It may not
be possible to accomplish the necessary changes, no matter
what we do, but at least we know that they cannot be
accomplished unless the Constitution is here, in our own
hands, and unless it comes here in :1 manner which allows it to
be amended by a process which is reasonably within the reach
of our governments.
The first two elements of the resolution are aimed directly at
accomplishing those two objectives. All national political par-
ties agree on those objectives. The only difference is that the
Conservative Party wants an amending formula which would
give each province the right to opt out. lt is such an impracti-
cal proposal that it is hardly worthy of attack. There would not
then be any commonality and therefore no real community in
their vaunted community of communities. But even here the
government has left room for compromise ifa more acceptable
formula can be found during the next two years.
Now the question is, should we just do that much? Should
we do nothing about the entrenchment of a Charter of Human
Rights in our Constitution until it is in Canada with an
amending formula, with or without the right of the provinces
to opt out? To me the answer is very clear. We are going to be
entering into a period of great strain–~~the restructuring of
Parliament, the redivision of governmental powers, changes in
fiscal at-rangements—-which will require real changes in our
Constitution. All of this can be argued at length by the experts
and the politicians, without great danger to the daily lives of
individual citizens, provided that the individual Canadian is
protected by a basic system of entrenched rights which are the
same for him as they are for his fellow citizen in each of the
other provinces; otherwise the play of emotions, the struggles
for power, and the tug-of-war over vast sums of money, may
well bring about an encroachment on those rights.
The protection of an entrenched Charter of Human Rights
is the absolute minimum which can be accepted by the ordi-
nary citizen before he lets loose the hopefully constructive, but
potentially destructive, forces of the constitutional equivalent
of civil war. Anything less can only exacerbate the regional
alienation which the whole process was intended to cure. We
simply cannot for long have a country in which its citizens
have different basic human rights, depending upon where they
live in that country, and the individual rights of the citizen
must never be held hostage to the street~fighting among
governments over which of them will wield what powers and
dispense what resources.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
a tiszoi ,
Senator Stanbury: The New Democratic Party and the
Liberal Party, most of their parliamentary supporters, and
some parliamentary supporters and provincial premiers of the
Conservative Party, are in agreement that these three elements
of the resolution before us are an essential prelude to the
difficult process of constitutional reform which lies ahead of
How, then, should it be accomplished’? Ideally, it should be
done by negotiation. There is a terrible libel abroad, mouthed
by many politicians and slavishly repeated by many in the
media, to the effect that the federal government has been
in?exible, that the provincial governments have been pliable~-
Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh.
Senator Smith: Don‘t be silly.
Senator Stanbury: -—and that ifonly the federal government
and Mr. Trudeau would go away everything would be resolved
happily in a trice and we would live on forever in good humour
and good health. We know that that is simply not true. Mr.
Trudeau has met with the provincial premiers more often than
any Prime’Minister in Canadian history. Hc has proposed
areas of discussion in which it seemed most likely that the
governments could come to agreement. He has clearly stated
the kind of concessions the federal government felt it could
make. Neither the federal government and the provincial
governments nor the provincial governments by themselves
have been able to come to agreement, not because of Mr.
Trudeau’s intransigence but because in each case one or two
premiers have had special deals that they wanted to impose as
a condition of their acceptance.
Senator Flynn: Like Premier Davis!
Senator Stanbury: Another libel abroad is that_making a
start on constitutional reform is a particular obsession of Mr.
Senator Smith: Of course it is!
Senator Stanbury: Certainly, he has identified it as one of
the most urgent problems that Canada has. l can hardly
imagine that there are responsible and knowledgeable Canadi-
ans who do not now agree with him entirely. l am grateful for
his foresight and leadership, but also for his painstaking efforts
at negotiating, even if negotiation has failed.
lf negotiation is unproductive and the need is becoming
more urgent, then how should a responsible government react?
it should find a way of using its legitimate powers to patriate
the Constitution. I appreciate that there are those who argue
that these are not legitimate actions of the federal government,
but I am satisfied to have that decision made by the Supreme
Court of Canada.
Senator Donahue: Trudeau is not.
Senator Stanbury: So I believe that any responsible govern-
ment should patriate the Constitution if it legally can.‘ it
should ask for patriation on the basis of the only amending
DEBATES February 25, l98l
formula which has at some point found acceptance among the
parties involved, and it should ensure, through the entrench-
ment of a Charter of Human Rights, that a Canadian is a
Canadian is a Canadian wherever he or she may live in
Canada. The government is simply proposing to do what is
necessary to build a practical foundation for future reform. It
is entitled by law, and obliged by the circumstances and its
duty, so to do.
Like most honourable senators I find that there are a
number of improvements I would like to see in the constitu~
tional package. For example, I regret that the provincial
governments rejected the preamble which had been proposed
by the federal government last June. It would have put the
beginnings of our constitutional reform in a context which
most of us feel would dignify it with the sentiments and
principles which have long guided this country and by which
we have tried to live.
The preamble which the Prime Minister proposed to the
provincial premiers, and which unfortunately was rejected by
them, reads as follows:
A Statement of Principles For
A New Constitution
We, the people of Canada, proudly proclaim that we are
and shall always be, with the help of God, a free and
Born of a meeting of the English and French presence on
North American soil which had long been the home of
our native peoples, and enriched by the contribution of
millions of people from the four corners of the earth, we
have chosen to create a life together which transcends
the differences of blood relationships, language and
religion, and willingly accept the experience of sharing
our wealth and cultures, while respecting our diversity,
We have chosen to live together in one sovereign country,
a true federation, conceived as a constitutional
monarchy and founded on democratic principles.
Faithful to our history, and united by at common desire to
give new life and strength to our federation, we are
resolved to create together a new Constitution which:
shall be conceived and adopted in Canada,
shall reaffirm the official status of the French and
English languages in Canada, and the diversity of
cultures within Canadian society,
shall enshrine our fundamental freedoms, our basic
civil, human and language rights, including the right
to be educated in one’s own language, French or
English, where numbers warrant, and the rights of
our native peoples, and
shall define the authority of Parliament and of the
Legislative Assemblies of our several Provinces.
We further declare that our Parliament and provincial
legislatures, our various governments and their agencies
shall have no other purpose than to strive for the
happiness and fulfillment of each and all of us.
If that preamble had been includcdwand perhaps we should
still include it by way of amendment-Wit would be clear that“
Senator Flynn: Could I put a question? You say this
preamble is not in the resolution because of the opposition of
Senator Perrault: The Conservative premiers, yes.
Senator Flynn: Why didn’t you put it in just the same’? You
did not have the approval of the provinces for other aspects of
Senator Stanbury: I am simply indicating my own desire to
have such a preamble in the resolution.
Senator Flynn: Why do you say we have not got it because
of the provinces?
Senator Stanbury: Because the provinces rejected it.
Senator Flynn: Yes, but you did not care how the provinces
felt about other matters. Why this one’?
Senator Stanbury: if that preamble had been includcdm -and
perhaps we sltould still include it by way of amendmcnteeeit
would be clear that we celebrate the status of a constitutional
monarchy under the fatherhood of God, according to our
native peoples their aboriginal rights, and declaring ourselves
to be committed lo the linguistic rights of our two founding
peoples and to the preservation of the cultural heritage of our
citizens from a multitude of cthnic origins.
I would like to sec more explicit women’s rights. I would like
to see more reference to economic rights. I would like to see a
number of other things. But I am satisfied that the joint
committee did the best they could to accommodate the various
representations which were made to them. l am also satisfied
that because the process of constitutional change will always
be difficult in Canada, and because the priorities of constitu~
tional reform will now have to shift to the reform of Parlia-
ment, the division of powers and the fiscal arrangements, it
will be many, many years before there will be another opportu~
nity to get an entrenched Charter of Human Rights in
If we fail to grasp this opportunity, I believe that another
generation will pass before the occasion again arises. As a
matter of fact, if this effort at patriation and adoption of an
amending formula fails, I wonder which prime minister, of
which party, will have the personal and political fortitude to
It is time to move on. This resolution is the basis and the
necessary foundation for our other constitutional reforms.
The pallid alternative offered by the Conservatives lets the
provinces opt out of constitutional change, provides no
entrenched codified common rights for Canadians, now or
ever, and ensures that there will be no common standards in
many matters of national concern. We are at a constitutional
impasse. I believe that the government has found perhaps the
only available means of breaching that impasse and giving
February 25. l98l SENATE
Canadians the opportunity to prove to themselves and to the
world that they are capable of fashioning their own society to
their own liking.
Senator Smith: The worid is watching!
Senator Stanbury: The task cannot begin until the impasse
has been broken.
Honourable senators, by joining our colleagues in the other
place in passing this resolution, we remove the road block and
demonstrate our faith in the wisdom and judgment of our
Hon. Robert Muir: Honourable senators, I wonder if my
honourable colleague, Senator Stanbury, would permit a ques-
tion. It is a very sincere question, with no partisanship about it
at all. I know Senator Stanbury’s background, and the work he
has done with regard to the church, the Deity, and so on. He
quoted from the preamble that was previously presented. In
the course of that preamble reference is made to the Deity.
Would the honourable senator kindly advise me why, in the
recent Constitution hearings, the Liberal members of that
committee, along with the New Democratic Party, said,
“Away with the Deity, and away with references to the Deity.
We will have nothing to do with the Deity”? I just wonder if
he would explain that to me—and I say this sincerely——in the
light of his important background in church work, and things
of that nature.
Senator Stanbury: I am sure that individuals in every party
have their own points of view. What I was giving you was the
proposal ofa preamble given by the Government of Canada to
the provincial premiers. Perhaps I should correct something
which may have been misleading because of lack of informa-
tion. My understanding of what happened was that the
premiers said, “We do not want to talk about the preamble
until we have the whole Constitution put together.“ I was
Wrong in saying it was a rejection, but it was not accepted at
that time as the preamble for the Constitution. If it had been,
it would have referred to these matters which I regard as
Senator Flynn: Well, of course, the correction Senator Stan-
bury is now making was suggested to him by Senator Frith-
that is obvious-»and I know the discipline on the other side.
However, my question is: Why don’t you impose that on the
provinces? Seven provinces opposed, for instance, the insertion
of a Charter of Rights at this time, yet you imposed it on
them. Senator Pcrrault has said that the Conservative govern-
ment did not want it.
Senator Perranltz At that time.
Senator Flynn: The Prime Minister played politics with
Ontario and with New Brunswick-
Senator Roblin: And with Saskatchewan.
Senator Flynn: —and with Saskatchewan, but without suc-
cess. My question is: Why do you impose eertain things on
certain provinces and not on others‘?
Senator Roblin: There is no answer.
On motion of Senator Macdonald, for Senator Macquarric,
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