Canada, House of Commons Debates, “Liberal Convention Winnipeg—Speech of Prime Minister—Economic Union & Conference in Nova Scotia—Reason Government Did Not Attend”, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess (7 July 1980)


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Date: 1980-07-17
By: Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Canada, House of Commons Debates, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, 1980 at 2587.
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COMMONS DEBATES — July 7, 1980

[Page 2587]

THE CONSTITUTION

LIBERAL CONVENTION, WINNIPEG—SPEECH OF PRIME MINISTER—ECONOMIC UNION

Mr. Edward Broadbent (Oshawa): Madam Speaker, I have a question for the Prime Minister. On the weekend, in Winnipeg, the Prime Minister said, with regard to the provinces, they are creating a “garrison mentality” in Canada and they are “creating fences to keep” Canadians “apart”.

Considering that right after the referendum, the vast majority of Canadian political leaders, including the premiers, indicated a co-operative attitude toward dealing quickly and seriously with constitutional reform, why is the Prime Minister now jeopardizing this very process by using such confrontationist language?

Right Hon. P. E. Trudeau (Prime Minister): Madam Speaker, I was not at that point talking about the constitutional discussions; I was talking about the importance of preserving in Canada a strong economic union. The Leader of the New Democratic Party is certainly aware that there are certain practices in Canada which would not even be permitted in the European Common Market, in terms of mobility of labour and of capital. I would think I would have the support ofat least his party on that subject.

Mr. Broadbent: Madam Speaker, the point at hand is not the substance of the matter of the negotiation—

Some hon. Members: Oh, oh!

Mr. Broadbent: There is the arrogant shrug once again, Madam Speaker. Why we have a problem with the majority of the premiers who represent all parties—

Madam Speaker: Order, please. I cannot allow a long preamble by the hon. member for Oshawa, no more than I can allow it by other hon. members.

Mr. Broadhent: Since we are agreed, along with the Prime Minister and many people in the country, to speedy change on the constitution, would the Prime Minister not agree that it is essential to obtain speedy change and to take an attitude toward the leaders of the provinces which is civilized, decent and assumes the same good will which he claims to provide for himself?

Mr. Trudeau: Madam Speaker, I would think that any member of this chamber would know that in the past several months and several years the rhetoric of many provincial politicians has been precisely of the kind for which the hon. member is reproaching this government. For months we have been witnessing the spectacle of provincial politicians saying that Ottawa was this or that Ottawa was that, that we were too centralized, that we were not giving enough powers to the provinces, and so on.

I said it in this chamber in the Speech from the Throne, and I repeat again, that the ease must be made for preserving the Canadian economic union strong.

Oral Questions

Mr. Waddell: With all the power in your hands.

Mr. Trudeau: I understand that on the substance the Leader of the New Democratic Party agrees with me. That is sufficient, and if he is offended at my rhetoric, then I apologize to him.

Mr. Broadbent: Madam Speaker, the point is—it is a serious point—not whether we happen to agree or disagree on rhetoric, but that a major first ministers’ conference will take place for four days. I would like to ask the Prime Minister, in that context, since fully 80 per cent of the premiers—that is, eight of the ten premiers—since the referendum have had nothing but positive remarks to make about this process, does the Prime Minister not think that it would be appropriate for him to rise to their level, instead of descending to the level of the one or two premiers who have had confrontationist things to say about the process?

Mr. Trudeau: Madam Speaker, I am always prepared to accept lessons in moderation from the Leader of the New Democratic Party and I accept the reproach.

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