Canada, Senate Debates, “Motion for an Address to Her Majesty the Queen—Debate Continued” (3 March 1981)

Document Information

Date: 1981-03-03
Citation: Canada, Senate Debates, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, 1981 at 1919-1929.
Other formats: Click here to view the original document (PDF).

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. D. G. Steuart: Honourable senators~—~
Senator Asselin: Here comes clause 44!
Senator Steuart: Honourable senators, if Senator Asselin
canjust get a grip on himself, I will deal with clause 44.
Senator Asselin: I hope so.
Senator Steuart: However, if he keeps on with his present
performance, I may move an amendment to put the clause
back in.
Senator Flynn: If you do, I will support it, I can assure you.
I promise you I will support it.
Senator Steuart: If I were as close to retirement as you are,
I would support it, too.
Senator Flynn: To judge by looks, you will be out of herein
no time.
Senator Frith: They are off and running!
Senator Steuart: Honourable senators, as I enter this
debate, I do so with a great deal of pride. We are actually
making history here. We are breaking new ground in an
attempt—-which I believe will be successful—to bring our
Constitution to Canada; to have, after all these years, an
amending formula which is practical and which will work; and
to see at least the beginnings of the entrenchment of a
comprehensive Bill of Rights.
Q (2040)
I lake a great deal of pride in this process. I would like to
congratulate the members of the Joint Committee on the
Constitution; they did an excellent job. I join with others in
congratulating the joint chairmen, Mr. Serge Joyal and Sena-
tor Hays. They are a credit to Parliament, and they deserve
the congratulations they have received, from every part of
Canada. It is interesting to note that over half the senators
took some part in the deliberations of the committee. I was
pleased to be allowed to play a small part in its deliberations.
As a result of that intervention, I took more interest in the
committee proceedings and, of course, learned a great deal.
Although the initiative did not come from this side of the
house, it was an excellent idea to put television in that
committee in order to bring its proceedings to the public. The
committee heard all kinds of briefs representing the views of
hundreds of thousands of Canadians. It listened and then
debated and amended that package. It accepted amendments
from the Conservatives, the NDP and the public in general,
and as a result it is a far better and more comprehensive
package. As a result of thousands of Canadians being able to
watch on television the committee at work, a great educational
process took place. A vast quantity of knowledge was amassed
as to what this country is all about and with regard to the
hopes and aspirations of the disadvantaged and minority
groups in every part of the country. Although all the groups
did not win their points, they were at least heard. Those who
did not succeed have at least laid the groundwork for when the
Constitution is patriatcd and there is in place a practical,
sensible and workable amending formula.
Members of the Senate and others who served on that
committee, particularly those who were full~time members, did
themselves proud. From this side of the house, Senator Austin
made a great contribution. When naming individuals, inevita~
bly somebody is missed, but I can think of names like Bob
Bockstael, Jake EDP, Senator Roblin, Senator Tremblay,
Svend Robinson, Lorne Nystrom and many others. In fact,
within a relatively short period of time the names of these
people almost became household words across Canada. This
can only help the image of the House of Commons, the Senate,

DEBATES March 3, I981
the democratic process and Parliament. These people did an
excellent job, and it is too bad that the spirit which prevailed
in that committee was not carried through and that it ended in
political partisanship which resulted in the final report not
receiving the full endorsement of the committee. However, the
work of the committee stands as a monument to the democrat-
ic process and to the serious work completed by members on
both sides of this chamber and members of the other place.
When I spoke during the debate on whether to send this
resolution to committee, I expressed some concerns about the
needs of Saskatchewan. Along with other members of this
chamber from Saskatchewan, I expressed concerns about the
problem of indirect taxation which has plagued and threatened
Saskatchewan for a long time and which at one point threat-
ened to cost the people of that province up to half a billion
dollars. I expressed the concerns of the people of that province
with regard to the ownership of their resources-~the feeling of
the people of the province of Saskatchewan, as enunciated by
my government and the NDP government of the province over
the past few years, about the control and sale of its resources
across Canada and outside the boundaries of this nation. In
this regard, I am sure that we were reflecting concerns held by
other provinces and by other regions. I expressed concern
about the referendum process with regard to the position taken
by the federal government and, to some extent, by the govern~
ment of the province of Saskatchewan. I expressed concern
about clause 44, the so-called “Senate reform clause,“ and I
questioned the entire proposition of entrenching a charter of
rights in the Constitution, because it would be a tremendous
departure from what we have had in the past.
Like a great many other people across this country, in this
chamber and in this Parliament, I still have some questions
about whether the entrenchment of rights is in fact the best
way to protect the rights and the freedoms of all Canadians.
However, I must say that I had most of my questions answered
in a positive way, whether it was through watching the’pro-
ceedings, taking part in the proceedings or reading the results
of the proceedings.
Senator Flynn: We suspected that.
Senator Steuart: I believe that hundreds of thousands of
Canadians also felt that by the time this committee reported,
most of their questions on the Constitution itself, the amending
formula and the Charter of Rights had been answered.
Senator Asselin: The polls do not show that.
Senator Steuart: I will not answer that.
First, I would like to deal with the question of so-called
“Senate reform” as envisioned in clause 70 and clause 44. The
inclusion of those clauses may have been with the intention
that Senate reform would take place at some time in the
future. Personally, I feel that these clauses could well have
been a time-bomb. While many would look upon the dissolu~
tion of, or doing away with, the Senate through Senate reform
as a positive change, it is not how I look at the situation. I was
happy to see clause 44 deleted.
[Senator Steuari.]
Although I believe in Senate reform, I am convinced that
the Senate is doing good work-—though I am equally con-
vinced that the Senate could do much better work. I feel that
we in this Senate and we in this Parliament have initiated and
will continue to initiate Senate reform. I believe that when the
time comes and we sit down as the Senate and the Parliament
of Canada, we will initiate better Senate reform than anything
which has been suggested so far by the provinces or the
regions. Fellow senators, if we do not bring in Senate reform
soon, then I believe that we deserve the criticism and the
condemnation which we have received. Howevcr, I am confi-
dent that we can initiate the spirit of reform and that we will
bring about reform.
I also supported most of the positions put forward by
Premier Blakeney on behalfof Saskatchewan.
For a moment I would like to review the results obtained by
members from all sides who worked on the committee and
through the amendments put forward by the NDI’. Many of
the amendments accepted by the joint committee will prove of
great benefit in the future, not only to the province of Sas~
katchewan but to all of the provinces.
The concern we felt for the ownership of our resources has
been laid to rest. Our concern over the control of the develop-
ment of our resources has been laid to rest. As a result of our
concern for the sale of our resources across Canada, we
wanted changes and we were granted those changes. As a
result of our concern, not to mention the con?ict both inside
and outside Saskatchewan over the years, with regard to
indirect taxation on resources, we were granted that right.
While we in Saskatchewan wanted control over the sale of our
resources outside Canada, Prcniier Blakeney lost this right
because of his actions or perhaps because of his lack of action.
I believe we received part of what we wanted with regard to
the referendum clause——which was some control for the prov»
inces. We wanted the right for the provinces to be able to
initiate a referendum in certain cases. While we did not receive
the right to initiate a referendum, we were given certain
controls within the process. In that case, Premier Blakeney got
half a loaf, but in most other programs he put forward he, in
fact, got cvcrything he asked for. There is no question in my
mind that the Minister of Justice, the Honourable lean
Chrétien, offered to meet the bottom line of Premier Blakeney
and Attorney General Roy Romanow for their support. He has
made no apologies for that, and I make no apologies for that.
We want support for this very important package from that
side of the house; we want support from every Canadian; and
we don‘t apologize for that. We are proud because we are
convinced that we are engaged in something which would be
better if we had support from every quarter. However, I am
afraid we will not get that support.
q tzosoi V
Senator Murray: It would be legitimate ifyou had.
Senator Roblint You are right.
Senator Steuart: Senator Roblin says, “You are right.” As
an ex-premier, he should know the impossibility of ever getting

March 3, I98] SENATE
unanimous support from the premiers for almost anything,
including the time of day.
Premier Blakeney had an opportunity to get what he wanted
for Saskatchewan, and he blew it because he put politics ahead
of principle. As an excuse, he used the fact that clause 44 had
been taken out of the package, and that the Senate had been
given more power. I am sure he knew he was wrong. He was
either confused himself or was attempting to confuse others.
Honourable senators, even on the question of human rights,
the Premier of Saskatchewan played petty politics–just as
many senators on that side of the house are playing petty
Senator Flynn: You would never do that; you are so pure!
Senator Steuart: Let me just tell you a short history of the
fight for human rights in the province of Saskatchewan. About
25 years ago Tommy Douglas, the leader of the CCI’ govern-
ment, brought in a Bill of Rights—one of the first to be
brought in by any province in this country. The CCF, under
Tommy Douglas, and later the NDP, under Woodrow Lloyd,
fought for the entrenchment of a Charter of Rights in the
Constitution of Canada. Until this last year or two, Premier
Blakcncy was a member of those political parties, and he never
raised his voice. I am convinced and confident that he support-
ed that position. But he changed, and I am afraid that his
convictions did not change; his politics changed.
Senator Flynn: What about you’?
Senator Steuart: What about me? You will get your chance
to make a speech. When I say something that I wanted, at
least I had the courage of my convictions. I am prepared to
back this Constitution. I have watched the Tories day after
day say, “If you only put this in, or that in, we will support it.”
We put “this” in and “that” in, and they never supported it.
Senator Flynn: Never.
Senator Steuart: The truth is, they will not support this
because it starts with the Liberal government and Pierre
Trudeau. That is the truth, and they are afraid to face it.
I am afraid that Premier Blakeney lost his reputation and
some of his mantle as a Canadian statesman, and I think that
is a shame. As most of the premiers did, he ended up bargain-
ing the human rights and freedoms of the people for the ability
to sell fish or oil. I think that is a shame and that the people of
Saskatchewan are the losers.
Senator Asselin: He was not for sale.
Senator Steuart: I too had doubts about the question of
rights. I am as aware as anyone else in this chamber of the fact
that the United States of America has a very strong Constitu-
tion, with a great many rights entrenched in it, and I am as
aware as anyone else that, from time to time, those rights,
especially of minorities, have not been upheld in spite of the
Constitution. I am as aware as anyone else that they probably
have the finest Bill of Rights in the U.S.S.R., yet they have no
rights; and that in Great Britain, where they do not have a
great many rights written down, they probably have more
rights and freedoms than any other country in the world.
I read the briefs, I watched the people, and I came to the
conclusion that a great many people—I am willing to say the
majority of people——in this country want an entrenched Bill of
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Senator Steuart: I watched those people come before the
committee representing the disadvantaged and the minorities,
and they asked for rights, Sometimes they asked for rights
they already had, but they wanted to see them entrenched
because they said they would feel safer and more confident. I
became convinced that if that was what was necessary to give
these people that kind of confidence in this country, then, in
spite of the troubles we may have—-and I think we will have
some troubles~it was worth it.
On top of that, I want to point out that in the proposed
Charter of Rights we are not just protecting rights and free-
doms that already exist; we are adding some new rights. I will
deal, specifically, with rights relative to our native peoples. For
the first time in the history of Canada we have recognized, and
will recognize, if this constitutional package passes, aboriginal
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Senator Steuart: Heretofore aboriginal rights have not been
recognized. Even the treaty rights of our Indian people have
not been maintained and lived up to from time to time. This
has been a fight of our Indian people; it has been a fight of the
Metis; and it has been a fight of the Inuit for years to get a
succession of federal governments to, first, make strong state-
ments, and then embed in legislation, and now in a Constitu-
tion, the fact that we recognize aboriginal rights. They have
got that.
Senator Murray: May I ask a question?
Senator Steuart: Yes.
Senator Murray: I should like to know whether the aborigi-
nal rights of which the honourable senator speaks will be able
to be changed without the consent of those people by the
federal government and the provinces.
Senator Steuart: Bide your time; I will deal with that right
now. I have had delegations come to see me, as I presume is
the case with other honourable senators. I am as aware as, or
perhaps even more aware than, the honourable senator that
over the years the Indian people in this nation have signed
treaties with the Queen, with the Crown, and then with
Canada in the name of the Crown. They have never had to
deal with the provinces. Their treaty rights were with the
federal government and, by and large, they have not wanted to
deal with the provinces. Some provinces, in their treatment of
native peoples, have been outstandingly good; unfortunately,
some provinces have been outstandingly bad. Therefore, the
native peoples, and especially the Indian people, want some
guarantee, when it comes to dealing with their treaties and
aboriginal rights, that without their permission these rights
cannot be handed over, by agreement between the provinces

DEBATES March 3, 1981
and the federal government, to the jurisdiction of the
That poses difficulties. The largest question that comes to
my mind is: Who speaks for the Indian people? That is a
problem they are wrestling with right now. I hope they are
able to solve it, and I hope that right now some amendments
are being considered. I am confident that they are. I hope
some way can be found to give this guarantee to the native
peoples. If it is not found in the Constitution at this stage, then
I hope that when the Constitution is patriated we shall have an
amending formula in place so that, if they do not win two-
thirds or four-fifths of their fight today, they will continue to
press, to push and to fight. I hope it will not fall on deafears. I
hope they get what they want, but I realize it is extremely
Senator Tremblayz I have a question about clause 35(2),
which deals with aboriginal rights. I understand from that
clause that the aboriginal peoples will be invited to a federal-
provincial conference, the purpose of which would be “the
identification and definition of the rights of thosc people to be
included in the Constitution”. I should like to have your
understanding of that clause in terms of any gain to the
aboriginal peoples.
Senator Steuart: I understand your question. I am not a
constitutional lawyer, but I am confident that the intention of
the amendments brought in at the committee hearings were, in
fact, to put aboriginal rights in the Constitution. The question
of clarifying what those rights are and the question of whether
they will, in fact, be given a veto over something that happens
in the future, is still open for debate and consideration.
Let me tell Senator Tremblay that I have been dealing with
the native peoples for a long time, and if he wants to split
hairs——and he loves to split hairs—-I tell him that the native
peoples, by and large, and especially the Metis and the Inuit
peoples, are delighted that, at long last, they are beginning to
get recognition of their aboriginal and treaty rights. I say that
it is a step forward, and if he does not think it is, let him deal
with the native peoples.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Senator Steuart: If you don‘t mind, Senator Tremblay,
perhaps you would make your intervention later on. In the
meantime, I will finish my speech.
I tell Senator Tremblay and I tell you, honourable senators,
that I have met as many, if not more, native people in the last
six months or six years than I am sure he has.
Senator Olson: More.
Senator Steuart: I can tell him that all the leaders of the
native people I met say this was a good step, and they want
more like it. I hope they get more. But it was a giant step
forward. He can shake his head all he wants. If he does .not
recognize that, then I am afraid there is not much hope that he
will recognize much else.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
[Senator Steurt]
Senator Steuart: When this charter comes back here»-
obviously, it will not come back here by any will, hope or
vision from the other side of the house—and it is the law of
this country, it will, honourable senators, give new hope and
new opportunity to minorities and disadvantaged people from
one end of this country to the other. It gives the lie to
statements that, in fact, it will spread disharmony and disuni-
ty. It will, in fact, in spite of the best or worst efforts of some
honourable senators opposite, and others, bring the people of
this country closer together and make this country more
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Senator Steuart: The minority people—
Senator Flynn: If you say so.
Senator Steuart: –of this country, especially the native
peoples and the handicapped, must be disappointed by the lack
of action of the Tories. Let me tell you they must be extremely
disappointed by the lack of action by some members of the
NDP-and I emphasize “some”.
Senator Asselin: Are you speaking on behalf of the hand-
icapped people?
Senator Steuart: Some of the NDP in Saskatchewan have
talked for years, fought for years, and given lip service for
years to the rights of the minorities, the little people and the
disadvantaged. When the time came to put up or shut up-——t0
put their money where their mouths are and stand up and be
counted-~–I am afraid they again put petty politics ahead of
their principles and they backed off.
They said what you people said for years about rights and
about worrying about minorities. That was either a fake, or
you have lost your nerve, or you are putting politics first. You
cannot have it both ways.
Honourable senators, that is what this debate is all about. It
is an attempt to balance the good with the bad. It is an
attempt to find out what is valuable, weigh it in the balance,
and if you find that there is far more value, as I do, in this
Constitution package than there arc serious questions, then
support it. That is our job.
You know, it is interesting to note that as you go around this
country and talk to members of Parliament from all sides of
the house, people outside these chambers, and people any-
where in the country, you cannot find anyone who does not
want the Constitution in Canada.
Senator Flynn: Of course.
Senator Steuart: They all want the Constitution in Cana-
da—even the Leader of the Opposition.
Senator Flynn: You are beside the point.
Senator Steuart: He has finally made an intervention I can
understand. He said “Of course” very clearly. Thank you very
much. Everyone wants thc Constitution in Canada.
Senator Flynn: Sure.

March 3, I981 SENATE
Senator Steuart: Tell me who will stand up and say they do
not want a practical amending formula in Canada~
Senator Flynn: Sure.
Senator Steuart: A formula for amendment by Canadians. I
say that is practical, and wonderful work.
Senator Flynn: Sure.
Senator Steuart: Again, even with the Leader of the Opposi-
tion, we are making great headway. Two more “sures”, and he
is on our side.
Senator Flynn: Your mind is completely blocked.
Senator Steuart: Honourable senators, who can stand up
and say they do not want the rights of the minorities protect-
ed? We are all for freedom of speech, freedom of religion and
freedom of assembly. Who is against discrimination? Well, I
think there are a lot of people who are against discrimination.
Senator Flynn: Who is against motherhood‘?
Senator Steuart: Sometimes when I look at the other side l
have an odd question about motherhood.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Senator Steuart: What do our opponents say when they
cower in their seats, heckle and throw out gibes and are afraid
to stand up and be counted when we are making history in this
country. What do they say? They say, “We like what you are
doing, but we don’t like the way you are doing it.”
Senator Flynn: That is the point.
Senator Steuart: That has been the cry of the timid and the
backward ever since we tackled this subject halfa century ago.
I give some of you and some of them credit for being against
this on principle. I give some of the NDP the same credit, and
I even give credit to some Liberals who arc against it. How-
ever, again, they like the results, but they cannot stand the
Senator Macdonald, speaking for the Conservatives last
night, had a whole list of things to mention, just as they all
have had. He said, “Why do you not have God in the
Constitution’! Why do you have this and that in the Constitu-
tion?” The Prime Minister said—and I will say it-—“If we put
it in, will you support it?” Oh no, you will not support it. You
won‘t support it, no matter what we put in or take out. Why
don’t you tell the truth? You are talking rubbish, and if you
arc honest, you will know it.
Senator Asselin: Your party voted against that in the
Senator Steuart: No, no.
Senator Asselin: Yes, they did. I was there.
Senator Steuart: No, no.
Senator Asselin: I was there. Oh, yes.
Senator Perrault: The Conservative premiers voted against
Senator Steuart: The only party that votes against things
that happen to their own party is on that side of the house, not
on this side of the house.
Senator Asselin: Look at the minutes.
Senator Steuart: If you do not like the method, I challenge
you then. Give us a better method. Give us an alternative. Give
us one that will work. That is the key word.
Some Hon. Senators: I-Iear, hear.
Senator Steuart: Yesterday evening Senator Thompson
described in great detail how every Prime Minister-—King,
Bennett, St. Laurent, Diefenbaker~tried to bring the Consti-
tution home with an amending formula, and failed. They
failed, but they made great efforts. Prime Minister Trudeau
tried and he tried and he tried. He tried harder than anyone
else, and again he failed. But he did not quit. That was the
difference between him and the others. He didn’t quit. He
persevered. He didn’t quit and he won‘t quit. That is the
I tell you a good part of the opposition that comes from the
Tories is not due to any distaste they have for the method; it is
because they can’t stand the idea that this man won‘t quit and
he is going to succeed. They are more concerned about his
success than they are about the procedure.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Senator Flynn: Adoration!
Senator Steuart: There are some opponents, particularly
some of the premiers, who are opposed to this for no other
reason than politics. Let us take a look at them. Bennett is in
trouble. Loughecd woulcln’t be in trouble if he let them count
the votes with the lights out for five hours all by themselves.
He is not in trouble. Blakeney thinks he is in trouble, but I
don’t think he is—I wish he was. Sterling Lyon is in trouble.
Senator Roblin: Don’t count him out yet.
Senator Steuart: What is the formula in Canada if you are
in trouble politically in the provinces’! The formula is to bash
the federal government.
Senator Flynn: That’s what you did.
Senator Doody: Bash the Brits.
Senator Steuart: Don’t worry about the unity of the nation.
Don’t worry about what is good for the country. Just get a real
battle going with Ottawa. It is really interesting. I notice in the
Globe and Mail the headline “Hees splits with Clark.” I will
read from an article in the Globe and Mai! of this morning:
—-a second Conservative MP dramatically broke with Mr.
Clark’s constitutional position by stating the matter
should be settled by a free vote–
I would be interested to see if they have a free vote. Mr. Hees
said, “We don‘t have to give a free vote; our members always
vote their conscience.”
Senator Treniblay: You don’t need freedom, but discipline.
Senator Steuart: Just listen to what Mr. Hees said:

I924 SENATE DEBATES March 3, I981
“I‘ve given up completely on the provinces,” veteran
Tory MP George Hees said in an interview after a short
statement in the House. “They’re just horse-traders for oil
and fish. The people of Canada are represented perfectly
in this Parliament. This is where it all comes together.”
Conservative baekbeneher William Yurko (Edmonton
East) has already announced he plans to break with his
party and support the constitutional resolution now before
I tell you the Tories better end this Constitution debate
quickly, or we will have them all on our side.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Senator Smith: So far you are down a few.
Senator Steuart: There is even one Tory out in Alberta that
came on our side. What a courageous man. He should get the
Canada Medal. “Of course,” he said, “I am for it one day,“
and two seconds later they booted him out. That is how
democracy works in Tory Alberta. However, it was refreshing.
We can now claim we have got representation even out of
Senator Tremblay: We want a free vote.
Senator Steuart: I do not say the provincial governments do
not have that right or responsibility to speak for their prov-
inces. But, unfortunately, taking on the federal government,
bashing the federal government, in season and out, has lately
become a Canadian sickness, and I think it’s a national
Q (2:10)
Senator Smith: It’s the other way around.
Senator Steuart: I will tell you something: The proposed
Constitution that is now before us is aimed at unifying the
country; but, unfortunately, not all of the proponents but far
too many of them, especially in western Canada, are using this
to spread disunity.
Some Hon. Senators: Shame.
Senator Steuart: I don’t point the finger at anyone, but they
are guilty and they are out in western Canada. This Constitu-
tion is not aimed at one part of Canada or another; it is not
aimed at one section or one set of individuals—~—
Senator Flynn: It is aimed at Quebec.
Senator Steuart: If the honourable senator does not like the
Constitution, if he is against it, of course, that is his privilege;
but I do not think it is your privilege, at least as a good
Canadian, to say that this is another something brought up by
the Liberal government to spread disunity. That, in fact, is not
true. This Constitution is the fairest and most equitable for~
mula that has yet been devised, and if honourable senators
opposite know a better one, a fairer and more equitable one,
even at this late hour, let them bring it forward. Look at the
premiers——the gang of six.
An Hon. Senator: It is eight now; read the newspapers.
[Senator Steuart.]
Senator Steuart: No, no, not unless they announced it at 6
o‘elock. The last word I had from my friend Allan Blakeney
was that they were still wavering. If there are eight, then there
are eight without him. He isn‘t in it, let me tell you frankly.
Whether it’s the gang of six or the gang of eight, it is still just
as tacky and as seedy. Every time I think of them getting down
there and cavorting with the Premier of Quebec, a man
dedicated to tearing this country apart —- —
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Senator Steuart: —I wonder what kind of Canadians they
are. I say this—
Senator Flynn: What about Mr. Ryan and the Union
Nationale? All the parties in Quebec are opposed.
Senator Steuart: You don’t see him cavorting with the
premiers. They would just put him out of office. He may
disagree with the package-
Senator Flynn: He disagrees entirely.
Senator Steuart: What about Prime Minister Trudeau? All
the Liberals got elected there. They won the last election. The
last election in Quebec was a federal election.
Some Hon. Senators: I-Iear, hear.
Senator Steuart: I say that Prime Minister Trudeau speaks
for Quebec.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Senator Flynn: You never sought a mandate in the last
Senator Steuart: I tell you~
Senator Flynn: You never sought a mandate in the last
Senator Steuart: I am saying that I tell you—
Some I-Ion. Senators: Order, order.
Senator Riley: Honourable scnators~
Senator Flynn: When a senator rises-
Some Hon. Senators: Order, order.
Senator Flynn: I said your party never sought a mandate in
the last election.
Senator Riley: Resume your seat.
Senator Steuart: Honourable senators, I am aware that the
Premier of Quebec takes a stand against the Constitution——
Senator Tremblay: May I ask a question’!
Some Hon. Senators: No.
Senator Steuart: Not at this moment. Let me finish ?rst.
Senator Tremblay: Have you observed»—~
Senator Steuart: Try to contain yourself for a moment. If
you wait until I have finished, I will gladly answer your

March 3, I981 SENATE
Now, there may be someone who speaks for Quebec, but I
tell you there is no question about who does not speak for
Quebec, and that is the Tories.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Senator Roblin: Who speaks for western Canada?
Senator Steuart: If the premiers have a better idea, a better
way than that put forward, why don’t they come up with it’!
They say, “Come back to the table”. They cannot even agree
among themselves when they are over here, knowing that it is
going to go to London, trying desperately to stop it, going to
this court and that court. Why don‘t they come up with a
better plan? Because they couldn’t agree even on a death-bed
repentance-—-and you know it, if you are honest. They have not
had a new idea about the Constitution of this country. They
are bankrupt of new ideas, and that‘s a fact. We are engaged
in building this country»-~
Senator Flynn: Everyone is wrong but you.
Senator Steuart: —we are engaged in moulding the future
of this country; we are engaged in laying out a new framework
to make a greater, better and a more unified Canada. You
people are missing the opportunity to take part. I tell you that
history will say that you did the wrong thing—and if you are
honest, you will admit it. You are not part of the solution; you
are a great deal of the problem.
All of us wish—-there is not anyone who does not wish that
we could develop this constitutional package with unanimity.
Of course, we wish that. All of us wish that all the questions of
all Canadians were answered. I will tell you something: I am
convinced that most Canadians support the proposed constitu-
tional package now and will continue to support it, and that
support will grow just as it did for the ?ag and for medicare.
Every time the Liberal government has broken new ground,
the Tories have run into their shells and said, “No, no, it won‘t
work; it will split the country; it‘s terrible, it‘s a disaster; it’s
the end of the world”; and five years later they are getting up
and waving the ?ag, or they are saying, “Well, really we
weren’t against medicare, and really we weren’t against old
age pensions.” You have been on the wrong side of every issue
since Confederation almost.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Senator Steuart: History will prove that what we are doing
is sound; history will judge that what we are doing is right. I
say this is the time for courage, for positive thinking—
Senator Flynn: You did not invent medicare.
Senator Steuart: I intend to support it, and I urge every
member of this chamber to do the same.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Senator Flynn: Will the honourable senator permit a ques-
tion? Did he indicate that he is going to move an amendment
with regard to human rights?
Senator Steuart: I said that the way you were acting I was
almost going to move an amendment to bring back clause 44;
but you have cleaned up your act a little at the end.
Senator Asselin: Go ahead.
Senator Flynn: That would dampen the enthusiasm of your
colleagues, who very much like noise in order to–~-
Senator Tremblay: May I ask a question? I think I had
permission from the honourable senator a moment ago to ask
one or two questions. My first is a question of fact.
Senator Smith: He won‘t know any.
Senator Tremblay: Indeed, they are both questions of fact.
Did the honourable senator say in his speech that the provinces
can take the initiative of the referendum provided for in clause
Some Hon. Senators: No, no.
Senator Tremblay: I think the honourable senator said that.
Senator Asselin: He said “yes” during his speech.
Senator Steuart: I may have lapsed into Irish, and so the
honourable senator may have misunderstood me. I didn’t say
it, but I will check the text. I am sure I didn’t say it; but if I
did say it, I didn’t mean it.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Senator Steuart: But, anyway, I am right and you are
Senator Tremblay: I was not sure that I had understood the
honourable senator correctly. However, the record will show
what he said.
My second question is as follows: Is it a fact that the
honourable senator received the loudest applause on his side
when he attacked the legitimate Government of Quebec?
Senator Steuart: The answer is no, absolutely no. If you
listen, I will tell you. I got the loudest applause from this side
when I said I was not sure all the time who represented the
people of Quebec; the one thing I was sure of was that you
Tories didn’t.
Senator Asselin: My good friend Senator Steuart seems to
– be very brave and courageous tonight. He made a fairly good
speech. He said at the beginning that he was ready to put
forward, to table, an amendment in order to bring back clause
Some Hon. Senators: No, no.
Senator Asselin: You said that at the beginning of your
speech. Are you ready to do it, if you are so brave and
Senator Steuart: I am very brave and very courageous, but I
am not crazy. Ijust said that when I see the way senators like
you behave I wonder sometimes if we should have taken it out,
and think that perhaps we should put it back. No, I never
suggested bringing it back; you may rest assured that I will not
bring it back.
Hon. Nathan Nurgitz: Will the honourable senator entertain
one last question?

DEBATES March 3, 1981
Senator Frith: Is that a promise?
Senator Nurgitz: Senator Steuart was very clear that the
Tories were not speaking for Quebec. Could he tell us what
Liberals speak for the province of Saskatchewan?
Senator Steuart: D. G. Steuart.
Senator Nurgitz: I trust, honourable senator, that you speak
Senator Steuart: I did not say they agreed with me. I said I
speak for them.
Hon. Yvette Rousseau: Honourable senators, due to circum-
stances, I have had the privilege of attending, as a more or less
permanent member, many sittings of the Joint Committee on
the Constitution. I shall not spend too much time dealing with
the excellent work of this committee and the marvelous experi-
ence this was for me. I considered it my duty to become
involved in its proceedings, for thc same reason that I wanted
to speak today. As is the case with my intervention today, my
presence at the committee sittings was motivated by the
conviction that I was serving the cause of the constitutional
dcbate. I voluntarily limited myself to listening to what was
being said. I considered this much better to ensure my own
objectivity. I wanted to make sure first of all that the solution
put forward to solve the constitutional problems of Canada
was not only in agreement with my own deepest beliefs, but
also to the advantage of Canadians. This objective having been
reached, I set myself to the task of summarizing my views on
the main points.
Before outlining them, honourable senators, I would like to
pay tribute to the two co-chairmen of thc committee, Honour-
able Senator Hays and Mr. Serge Joyal, for having done such
a good job as the foremost representatives of the Senate and
the House of Commons respectively. I also wish to congratu-
late all the Committee members and the participants for the
high quality of their contributions. They have helped me better
understand Canada and consolidate my own beliefs.
If I may, I would also like to draw your attention to the fact
that, as a woman, I am somewhat at a disadvantage in this
debate. Very fcw women have had the privilege of sitting in
this house in the last II4 years. In fact, I am only the
eighteenth woman to be appointed to the Senate and one of the
nine to be able today to join with all of you for this historic
debate. In short, few women have acquired much experience in
Parliament, with respect to constitutional matters, of course.
Moreover, previous to the positive contribution of women to
the referendum campaign in Quebec and this constitutional
debate, very few women have had the chance to voice their
interest and express their views. –
The submissions of the Canadian Advisory Council on the
Status of Women and other women’s groups have shown that
women do have relevant opinions, that these organizations
have a role to play in this type of debate and that they should
be taken into account. Besides, subsequent developments at thc
Advisory Council even if they will require thc restoration of its
credibility and its ability to act and to provide leadership, have
[Senator Nurgitz]
shown that women felt that they were in an unfavourable
situation, that they wished to have their own forum and take
an active part in the debate.
I appeal to you, of course, not as a former president of that
council, but as a senator. Even in that capacity and in spite of
my involvement in the Quebec referendum campaign and in
the committee meetings, my approach to the constitutional
debate is that of a greenhorn. I like to believe that my speech
is primarily the personal testimony of a Canadian from
Quebec expressing a vision of Canada essentially oriented
towards thc future and the solution to our constitutional
dilemma. I want to state my views and to explain the conse-
quence and meaning of my support.
I, for one, intend to support the resolution even if some
arguments have led me to make some reservations on the
applicability and constitutionality of some of the provisions. I
therefore listened carefully to the arguments put forward by
various groups, provincial representatives and members of the
committee. I still feel that we should proceed with this
Basically, I think that the time has come for us to bring
Canada’s anachronistic constitutional situation to an end and
that we should all join in thc effort to provide Canada with its
own Constitution. Our country’s honour, that of its people and
political institutions, especially on the federal level, are at
Above all, this updating of our Constitution should provide
us with the opportunity to rethink our federation and realize
thc urgency and necessity to find a new balance between a
provincial neo-federalism and a centralist neo~fedcralism, in
order to achieve our potential and meet the aspirations of our
fellow Canadians, our ethnic groups, our nations and cultures.
I have found, on the basis of a number of polls, that a
proportion of Canadians are not apparently in favour of unilat-
eral action. When trying to interpret the results of thcsc polls,
we must keep in mind that their main purpose is to assess
public opinion. They are very useful only as a means to take
the pulse of the people and not as a means to know its will.
I (2l3l)) _
If we wanted to run a country on the basis of poll results, we
would have to develop more adequate questionnaires. For the
moment, since polls are not alternative to thc democratic
voting process, no one can be sure that a majority is opposing
Parliamcnt’s move because many interviewed people only
answered questions without considering alternatives, unlike
voters when they have to make choices.
Nor am I surprised to see that some provinces and political
parties are opposed to it. Obviously, in the shorter term, they
are thc ones bcnefitting from the situation. What they seem to
object to the most is the unilateral procedure which they see as
a distortion of a certain perception they have of our federal
system. Carried to extremes, it would mean we have a system
of ten principalities of a sort which could only be ruled by
unanimous decisions.

March 3, I981 SENATE
I do not think it would be wise to view the present and
future federal system of our country and of our democracy on
the basis of absolute unanimity among the provinces. That
notion would lead to a provincial neo-federalism which might
be the everlasting source of stagnation of our system and quite
possibly the dismcmberment of our country.
In my opinion, that notion derives from an incomplete
interpretation of the evolution of our system towards the quest
for a consensus, and a tendentious appreciation of the impllCa~
tions of the principle of unanimity for the operation of our
It is important to assess the basis of the principle of
unanimity. its necessity and its implications for Canada,
among other things the possibility of seeing the country back-
ing up deeper into a constitutional deadlock and progressing
towards provincial federalism.
I leave it to those among you who have that historic
knowledge of Canada and of its constitutional process to set
the facts straight in the course of this debate. The people will
be particularly interested to note that the process of constitu-
tional evolution towards the need to achieve a federal-provin»
cial consensus has reached today’s extent only over the last 30
years, that is since our federal system has been increasingly
oriented towards decentralization and enhanced economic
opportunities for the provinces. For the time being, I will limit
myself to my judgment on the current situation and especially
on the federal balance sought for the future.
It is very likely that our federal system has been decentral-
ized to such an extent that it is altogether tricky to maintain a
balanced decentralization of the forces. In a system such as
ours, the lack of progress and co~operation as well as the
ever~diverging views on the priorities and the operation of the
country are indications that we are at the limit of decentraliza-
tion and that the sharing of powers has been too hazy for us to
maintain a functional federalism.
The citizens must understand the stakes of the theses and
the forces, both federal and provincial, to appreciate properly
that the actualization project advocates a balanced solution
aimed at preventing a severe dismemberment of the country.
Too many federal actions are invariably seen and qualified
as interventions in fields of provincial jurisdiction, not to
indicate the development of a new provincial federalism that
could easily lead to that tearing apart. In addition, it seems to
me that throughout the ’5Os and the ’60s, more progress was
accomplished than in the last decade in which there were more
confrontations and an increase in political tensions. In short,
the fact that the federal-provincial conferences accomplish less
confirms that tendency.
In addition to making a realistic assessment of the implica-
tions for Parliament and the federation, let us also have a
realistic picture of provincial forces and balances.
Canada is made up of ten provinces and one central govern-
ment set up in a federal system which is certainly the best
framework for governing a country. The federation would fare
better if the provincial forces were more balanced, and the role
of the central government would be that much simpler. You
are aware of how tremendously different things are, as a result
of the disparities between the provinces which have always
required arrangements or interventions to allow our federation
to function.
I cannot see, in the years to come, any elements that would
lead me to believe that the relative balance between those
forces will change. Quite the contrary: the imbalances will
increase and the current push for provincial powers and decen-
tralization will surely grow.
Even if a consensus was reached today, it could be so
superficial and weak that the country would be at exactly the
same point as without a consensus. The state of intcrprovincial
relations, the balance of power among the provinces as well as
their overall political make-up could make us seriously ques-
tion their consensus and see it as a marriage of reason with
political overtones. It would be difficult to assess the scope and
basis of any provincial consensus.
At this time, we need more than a consensus, we need a
strong desire to succeed for Canada. While assessing this
proposal, let us consider realistically the federal political forces
as well as those of our institutions. Honourable senators, you
are well aware of the political events of the last I5 years and of
their consequences.
Personally, I do not think that we can afford to wait, as we
did in the past, that new forces capable of leading to a
negotiated solution appear on the federal and provincial scene,
because provincial neo-federalism is already in the making.
The options open to us and the time remaining are also
limited, when we consider that the Parliament’s privilege is
confined to sending a resolution to another Parliament asking
it to enact this proposal. Honourable senators, you are well
aware of the extent of political authority and you realize that
even if we decide to wait any longer, we will have to go
through the same exercise over again. Parliament will always
have to use its options and powers to their maximum allowable
limit to put an end to a constitutional anachronism which tears
away at unity and limits the action that our Canadian federa-
tion can take, because we do not have absolute control over its
development. The Kershaw report makes that aspect of our
constitutional situation perfectly clear. Although it is offen-
sive, we must nonetheless find satisfaction in the fact that it
was written, because it allows Canadians to look at themselves
as in a mirror and to measure the limitations of their
The possibility of seeing the resolution blocked would exac-
erbate the frustrations in some areas of the country because it
would mean powerlessness and reinforce one of the causes of
Quebec nationalism which stems partly from the ambiguity of
our constitutional status. Despite the minority status of Que-
becers in the country and a strong, lasting and undoubtedly
irreversible nationalistic movement among them, a majority of
them opted for Canada and the resulting ties under the Statute
of Westminster. Let there be no mistake: that choice was far
from a confirmation that they want to retain an ambiguous

DEBATES March 3, l98l
status and as deep a relationship as the majority of Canadians
with the motherland. They want most of all a country to call
their very own, a balanced federalism and control over their
Jean Lesage’s brillant slogan “Masters in our own house”
during the “quiet revolution” could mean here in Canada as
well as here in Quebec, as indicated by the support of federal-
ist forces to his cause in I960 and, twenty years later, by the
choice made through the referendum.
Furthermore, it was the implicit wish of many during the
constitutional discussions held since I949. Then, many people
hoped it would be the last time Canada would have to go to
London. Those expectations were disappointed. With the op-
portunity we now have, I do not think it would be advisable for
Canadians, present and future, to leave only memories and
hopes on the record. I have no doubt that the deceived hopes
explain in part the strength of the nationalist movement in
Quebec and the frustration felt in other regions, because they
meant powerlessness and left political and sociological
The situation will remain the same in Quebec and in other
provinces, or even worse, if we fail to take action on the
commitments made explicitly or implicitly during the Quebec
referendum. It is worthwhile to remember during our debates
the meaning of the referendum results.
The percentage of No votes included most of the angio-
phones and also a large segment of the Quebecers whose ethnic
origin is other than French Canadian. So the No vote won by a
slim majority. Our satisfaction since thenight of the referen-
dum should not make us forget that our margin of political
action is not wide enough to allow any delay in renewing our
It would have been preferable if the tremendous thrust of
constitutional conferences had resulted in a consensus. They
have only shown the deep differences of opinions about the
future of our country and its institutions, and these were also
held by other provinces than Quebec. The intentions were good
but in retrospect, it seems that too much was expected from
such conferences. It is now up to Parliament to act and to put
the constitutional process on another track.
Some have suggested that this resolution be referred to the
Supreme Court. I do not think this is a proper solution. I share
the view that this constitutional change should not result from
a judicial interpretation but rather from a political move.
A reference to the Supreme Court would add to our consti-
tutional problem. I may bc mistaken, but I understand that in
1867 at the time of the BNA Act, the Supreme Court of
Canada did not exist. It was created by the federal Parliament
in l875, under section l0l. Consequently the Supreme Court
is a Canadian-made court over which our Parliament, theoreti-
cally at least, has jurisdiction. Since the Supreme Court does
not yield its existence from the Constitution, it would be
advisable, for the credibility of the resolution, of Parliament
and the court itself, not to refer this constitutional change to it,
it would be different if we had, as is the case in France, a
[Senator Rousseau]
constitutional court established by the constitution, with speci-
fied powers in this regard.
As to the Charter of Rights, I would have liked it to be even
more detailed. This would only have been possible with the
participation of the provinces. The Charter is a definite step in
thc right direction. However, it is easy to entertain reservations
concerning language rights, because clause 23, while strenght-
ening considerably minority rights, might be the source of
linguistic tensions and possible interference according to our
distribution of powers. To guarantee the rights of minorities to
education in their own language, I would have preferred two
separate clauses, including one for Quebec, to better take into
account different situations and jurisdictions.
Moreover, complete progress will be achieved only when
Ontario does take action under section 133 to improve institu-
tional bilingualism within the province. Indeed, it is not
enough to offer bilingual services if the province as such
refuses at the same time to legitimize bilingualism It is more
than desirable for Ontario to take part in the country‘s efforts
to promote bilingualism as a step towards unity.
In the ease of Quebec, many people consider section 23 as
being a serious step backwards compared with the principles
previously advocated. I do not believe this to be true. Our tnain
concern must not be for minority rights, but for the way they
are respected. This is why I hope that we shall be wise enough
to respect provincial jurisdictions, especially where education
is concerned. This is one risk for Quebec which could be
0 (M40)
Even though some people might question this, Quebccers
should not think that the francophone character of their
society would be changed by the new charter, because its
evolution is irreversible and our modern society allows not only
for assimilation, but also for effective promotion of the lan-
guage. It will probably be necessary to set a new linguistic
balance. If this is done wisely, it can be as profitable as the one
which has prevailed in the last ten years and allow the French
language in Quebec to enjoy its acquired maturity, even
though thc minorities will have also acquired specific rights.
As other than linguistic factors have contributed to this evolu-
tion, it is doubtful that the new minority rights can effect a
reversal of the present trend. It is up to the Quebecers to see to
The extent of the linguistic rights could have been different
if the Quebec government and the main opposition party in the
province had committed themselves, if they had explained
their future policies concerning rights and languages and taken
appropriate political action, In this way, they would have
established that they had no other priorities and were not
relying only on the intepretation of the courts. The efforts in
the field of communication and politics were not necessarily
As to the third part of the proposed resolution, the amend-
ing formula, I entirely agree with it. Indeed, it is inconceivable
that the Constitution could be brought back and put under

March 3, 1981 SENATE
Canada’s control without an amending formula. Many people
have questioned seine aspects of the proposed formula. It is
valid and functional even when we consider the problems
arising from the use of the referendum and the use of the
present formula in our parliamentary system.
My experience with political institutions and democratic
process have always led me to believe that the only real source
of power for parliament stems from the sovereignty of the
people. The major enforcement mechanisms have always been
representation by means of elections or direct consultation as
with a referendum. Any amending formula based on direct
consultation, recognizes the sovereignty of the citizenry. That
is consistent with thc democratic spirit of our country while it
is a major change in our representation system and parliamen-
tary decision-making process.
The amending formula will improve our federal system by
granting a veto right to the provinces on a regional basis, by
taking from the federal government the right to unilateral
amendment and transferring it to the people, and by allowing
any one of the two founding races to exist politically and, in
the long term, by granting a veto right to the Province of
I would hope that the provinces will come up with an
amending formula that can produce a consensus, inter-provin-
cially, capable of solving the basic problems. But even then, a
referendum process will no doubt be required, because we
must retain in our Constitution a means to ensure not only
that deadlocks will be broken, but also that a balance will be
reached between the legal and the political aspects and be~
tween the central government and the provinces.
Because there was no such mechanism, Canada took a long
time to become a truly sovereign nation. This was a drawback,
and the unification within a workable federalism has but
partly been achieved. Future generations must be freed from
the hindrance of rigid structures and insufficiently rapid
Fifty years ago, and even 25 years ago, we could afford to
take the time needed to reach a consensus. Things are quite
different now, and will be much more so in the forthcoming
decades. We should not forget that under the technological
and political forces at play in our society the process of change
has accelerated tremendously, and clearly this is beyond our
We must therefore provide the nation with institutions that
will allow for quick changes and evolution, if this country is
not to be perceived as Voltaire perceived it. lt is to accommo-
date the future rather than the past that we must change the
decision-making process in our democracy, using a referendum
procedure that leaves no doubt and gives citizens the suprema-
cy over Parliament and other levels of government.
Let me conclude by being more specific about the need for
adequate institutions in this country because it is not good
enough, although it is essential, to have a mechanism for
breaking deadlocks and for solving con?icts, both with respect
to national and federal issues.
It is more and more likely that the realization of the
opportunities and possibilities of this country will require some
changes. Many political personalities at all levels will have
different views or will support other theories. But if you think
about the impact of tehnological developments, in the com-
munications field for instance, you will better understand the
need for considering some changes. In particular, it will surely
be necessary to establish a more specific distribution of responw
siblities, so as to prevent overlapping and to allow a more
direct provincial participation in some national institutions, in
order to better achieve a more functional federalism which was
not possible through federal-provincial consultations and
Priority will probably be given to matters concerning the
Senate, provincial representation in the Supreme Court and
the feasibility of representation by population. lt would be
rather speculative to try to imagine what the other issues
should be, but people will realize without any difficulty that
the actualization of the 1981 Constitution should only be one
step. It will not be very difficult to figure out the character of
the relations between the provincial governments and the
courts, if their attempt falls through completely. lt will be just
as easy to enunciate the implications for those who want a
balanced federalism, in the opposite case.
For these reasons. I am sure that many Canadians, and
many Quebecers, do hope that this constitutional debate will
allow for other changes.
I have no doubt that following this debate we will have given
the future generations a permanent solution to our constitu~
tional problem, and to the Canadians of today, the pride to say
“Long live Canada” on the lst of July, 1981, for they will then
be in possession of the missing element that will give the word
Canada the meaning of country. For the Quebeckers, these
words could be as sweet as saying “Long live Quebec” and
they will not be questioning their motto “Jo me souviens”.
I (Z150)
On motion of Senator Doody, debate adjourned.
The Senate adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m.

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