Canada, House of Commons Debates, “Opportunity to Amend Constitutional Resolution with Regards to Status of Women and Native Rights”, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess (1 April 1981)

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Date: 1981-04-01
By: Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Canada, House of Commons Debates, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, 1981 at 8844-8845.
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COMMONS DEBATES — April 1, 1981

[Page 8844]



Mr. Edward Broadbent (Oshawa): Madam Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister. Yesterday he made it clear that the constitutional resolution would be kept in Canada until the Supreme Court of Canada—

Miss MacDonald: No, he didn’t.

Mr. Baker (Nepean-Carleton): Too bad, Ed.

Some hon. Members: Oh, oh!

Mr. Broadbent: —made a ruling on its legality.

Mr. Nowlan: You weren’t here.

Mr. Broadbent: He also said that two proposed amendments from the New Democratic Party, one affecting the equality of women and one affecting native rights, ought to be included in that final resolution. In that he added to the commitment previously made by the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and the Minister of Justice.

In order to ensure that these important amendments, to which the government has committed itself, are included in the final resolution, I ask the Prime Minister what steps is the government prepared to take in the House, given the procedural delays which have occurred, to ensure that they are in fact included?

Right Hon. P. E. Trudeau (Prime Minister): Madam Speaker, I am somewhat puzzled by the question asked by the Leader of the New Democratic Party, There is before the House now a proposal for allocation of time, which would permit us within a reasonable period—a few days—to dispose of the amendment of the hon. member for Provencher and to move the amendment concerning native rights, and hopefully an amendment concerning equality of the sexes, since it appears that all sides of the House would like to sec those included.

There is a motion before the House now. The hon. member is asking me what steps we are prepared to take. At three o’clock we would like to get on with this motion and deal with it, Madam Speaker. That is the only answer I can give to the Leader of the New Democratic Party. But, in order to do that, we have to have the official opposition cease its attempts to hijack Parliament.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Broadbent: Madam Speaker, given the commitments which the government has made on these two important amendments, and given the House is in fact being blocked from proceeding with these measures, an action which members of my party agree is taking place—

Mr. Hnatyshyn: Isn’t that something?

[Page 8845]

Mr. Broadbent:—is the Prime Minister saying there are no options open to the government other than sitting back and witnessing the blockage of Parliament?

Mr. Hnatyshyn: You are a great kidder, Ed.

Some hon. Members: Oh, oh!

Mr. Trudeau: Madam Speaker, it seems to me that when Parliament has ceased to work, and not through a filibuster, because as I understand it a filibuster is on a specific question, but has ceased to work period—

Mr. Andre: Call an election.

Mr. Trudeau: —we are in a situation of absolute disorder where the Parliament of Canada cannot work. It seems to me that the question should not be addressed to me, but to all members of this House. Is there some way in which disorder can be replaced by order?

Some hon. Members: Yes.

Mr. Clark: Adjourn the debate.

Mr. Trudeau: If that is the case, and the Leader of the Opposition nods in assent, I put it to you, Madam Speaker, perhaps you should call orders of the day forthwith and then we will get out of this hijacking process.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Broadbent: Good idea.

Some hon. Members: Oh, oh!

Mr. Broadbent: Madam Speaker, that is certainly something which this party would strongly support.

An hon. Member: Try again, Ed,


Mr. Edward Broadbent (Oshawa): Madam Speaker, my last supplementary question is for the government House leader. Is the government House leader aware of any other rules in the rule book—

Some hon. Members: Oh, oh!

An hon. Member: Ask Stanley,

Mr. Broadbent: —that would enable the government to take action to ensure there is a vote on the amendment which the Conservatives have had before the House for six weeks, stopping all other amendments from being brought forward? Is the government House leader aware of that? Is he prepared to take any steps to ensure that we obtain the amendments for our native people and for women, which the government itself has promised?

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!


Hon. Yvon Pinard (President of the Privy Council): Madam Speaker, the way the Standing Orders are drafted, an opposition party which is unsatisfied with a measure may, of course, resort to what is commonly known as a filibuster in parliamentary language. To put it another way, once the proposition has been introduced, that we have reached orders of the day and that it is debated, some hon. members prevent the question from being put, but by participating in the debate and constructively seeking to improve the measure.

However, there is a rule under which the government is allowed to propose changes to the existing Standing Orders with a view to ending a debate which, in this instance, has lasted for nearly six months. Under an even more drastic rule, we would be able to end it in less than 24 hours. Those are provisions contained in our Standing Orders and they can be used legitimately by the government. But there is a situation which is not covered in the Standing Orders, which does not belong to parliamentary practice and which is altogether improper and disrespectful to our institution and the Canadian people, and that is pure and simple disorder or any protracted filibuster which prevents the government from reaching the orders of the day and proceeding with the study of a given item. That is not what is commonly referred to as a filibuster, of which I spoke a moment ago. That is strictly a question of order or disorder, as the Right Hon. Prime Minister so aptly pointed out. In an even more popular language, it could be described as hijacking Parliament. Under the circumstances, Madam Speaker, when it amounts to a question of order or disorder you know full well that it is up to the occupant of the Chair to assume his or her responsibilities, as you have done so well until now and as we are confident you will continue to do.

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