Canada, House of Commons Debates, “Request for Report on Negotiations with Quebec”, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess (9 November 1981)
By: Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Canada, House of Commons Debates, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, 1981 at 12633-12637.
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COMMONS DEBATES — November 9, 1981
REQUEST FOR REPORT ON NEGOTIATIONS WITH QUEBEC
Mr. Jacques Guilbault (Saint-Jacques): Madam Speaker, my question is directed to the Prime Minister and concerns the Constitution. Since the media mentioned today that Mr. Ryan, Leader of the Opposition in Quebec, sent a telex to the Prime Minister of Canada which, it seems, contained substantial suggestions on breaking the constitutional deadlock between Quebec and Ottawa, could the Prime Minister tell the House whether he intends to follow up any of Mr. Ryan’s suggestions, and could he also report to the House on the progress of negotiations which, I hope, are still continuing between the government of Quebec and the Government of Canada with a view to reaching an agreement that would be agreeable to all provinces, including Quebec?
Right Hon. P. E. Trudeau (Prime Minister): Madam Speaker, since Thursday when the conference was drawing to a close I have said on behalf of the Canadian government that we were prepared to seek accommodation on the three points with which the government of Quebec was in disagreement, and if solutions or compromise formulas could be found, we were prepared to look into these. To this day, and I checked earlier with the Minister of Justice, we have not had word from the government of Quebec. Actually, I think they wanted the conference to be a failure, and now they would not want it to succeed through the action of a compromise formula. Mr. Ryan has proposed such a formula which we will examine carefully I would first like to know what are the PQ government’s views on the subject and, if it is a valid formula, we might look into it.
TELEX FROM LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN QUEBEC NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
Right Hon. Joe Clark (Leader of the Opposition): Madam Speaker, I have a supplementary question for the Prime Minister in relation to the telex from Mr. Ryan, which I have not had an opportunity to see but which I understand has at least two elements. First, there are some specific suggestions regarding the three outstanding matters cited by the Prime Minister and Premier of Quebec to be at issue. Also, if I
understand correctly, there is a request by Mr. Ryan, the leader of the Liberal opposition party in the Quebec National Assembly, that the Government of Canada be prepared to negotiate with the government of Quebec to enable the participation and involvement of Quebec in a full constitutional settlement.
Does the Prime Minister intend to respond positively to that request by Mr. Ryan and to do everything possible to involve the province of Quebec in a full constitutional solution’!
Right Hon. P. E. Trudeau (Prime Minister): Madam Speaker, I honestly am not clear on what the Leader of the Opposition intends when he says insisting “on a full constitutional solution”.
There are three areas on which the government of the province of Quebec indicated that it disagreed. I have indicated that we are prepared to look for some accommodation in those three areas providing they do not result in a position which would break up the accord reached with the nine provincial governments last week, and providing they ensured fairness for all Canadians.
I am really repeating my previous answer to the member from Saint-Jacques, but if the Leader of the Opposition has some further supplementary I would be happy to entertain it.
INCLUSION OF QUEBEC IN CONSTITUTIONAL AGREEMENT
Right Hon. Joe Clark (Leader of the Opposition): Madam Speaker, naturally we would like to have the opportunity to see as soon as possible the resolution which the Government of Canada I understand is drafting as a result of the accord signed between the Prime Minister and nine of the premiers. What I am interested in is having an undertaking from the Prime Minister that he will vigorously and fully pursue an agreement with the province of Quebec and that he will not place any arti?cial obstacles in the—
Some hon. Members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Clark: —any artificial obstacles in the path of an agreement. Would the Prime Minister give his undertaking on that; and also an undertaking that he would be prepared to respect what I understand to be the spirit of the request of Mr. Ryan, that spirit being that all efforts be made to include the province of Quebec in a constitutional agreement signed by and supportable by the other premiers?
Right Hon. P. E. Trudeau (Prime Minister): Madam Speaker, I believe my previous answers and what I have been saying since Thursday noon should satisfy the Leader of the Opposition as to the spirit and the willingness we have had about including Quebec in a final solution. In so far as the first point about the federal government drafting an amendment to the resolution is concerned, I want the Leader of the Opposition to take note that it has been the joint work of the federal and provincial officials to try to put into legal texts the agreement that nine provinces and the federal government reached last Thursday and Friday.
As to his other point about not putting up artificial barriers, I do not know what the Leader of the Opposition would define as an artificial barrier. For instance, on education and linguistic rights for minorities what would he consider an artificial barrier—the federal government trying to ensure that English-speaking Canadians in Quebec have the same rights French-speaking Canadians in the other provinces now have? If we insisted on that, would that be an artificial barrier in the eyes of the Leader of the Opposition?
EQUALITY OF THE SEXES
Right Hon. Joe Clark (Leader of the Opposition): Madam Speaker, I suppose that so long as we have an implicit undertaking from the Prime Minister that he will respect the spirit sought by Mr. Ryan of an honest attempt to include the province of Quebec in this accord, we will have to wait to see the resolution which comes forward.
However, let me ask a specific supplementary question of the Prime Minister in relation to the resolution that is being drafted. Would the Prime Minister confirm that in the original accord, signed by himself and the nine premiers on Thursday, the opt-out or override provisions do not apply to the guarantee of equality of male and female persons which, the Prime Minister will recall, was set down deliberately in a separate section, Section 28, of the original resolution?
Right Hon. P. E. Trudeau (Prime Minister): Madam Speaker, I think this is the question asked by the hon. lady in the New Democratic Party the other day. I had a chance to look this up since then, as I said I would—
Mrs. Mitchell: Hon. lady?
Mr. Trudeau: If some can say “hon. gentleman”, is it prohibited to say “hon. lady”?
Mrs. Mitchell: Hon. member.
Mr. Trudeau: Madam Speaker, would you like me to call her something else?
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Trudeau: My understanding is that in the work done by the federal and provincial officials the “notwithstanding” clause would indeed apply to that particular section.
Mr. Rae: It shouldn’t.
Mr. Trudeau: The hon. member says it would not.
Mr. Rae: I am saying it shouldn’t.
Mr. Trudeau: Oh, well, we know that the Leader of the Opposition has always argued that we should have a charter made in Canada by Canadians. Now that we will have our own Constitution, now will be his chance to have a charter
made in Canada by Canadians, and over the next years he will be able to fight to put back in the charter what we had in the original charter which his party combated tooth and nail for the past year.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Trudeau: The Leader of the Opposition asks me if we will make an honest attempt to seek some kind of compromise. We have been trying since Thursday. We have indicated to the Parti Québécois, the Quebec government, that we are willing to hear some words from them particularly on the mobility clause, as we got from Premier Peckford, which would answer the problem the Parti Québécois has with the charter as it is now presently conceived. We have not heard from them.
I just want to reiterate to the Leader of the Opposition that we have a duty to protect minorities, and we are trying to find a way to convince the government of Quebec that it should share in that duty of protecting minorities. I recall for the Leader of the Opposition that I believe it was less than a couple of months ago that he was speaking in Montreal and undertook to communicate with the Premier of Quebec to make sure that the government of Quebec would see its way clear in some way to protect the English~speaking minorities in Quebec. I wonder if he has since then communicated with the premier and if it would not be useful now for him to communicate with the Premier of Quebec to indicate his concern for these minorities, as he said he would a couple of months ago.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Clark: Madam Speaker, I find it rather strange that the Prime Minister should be putting questions to me, but I will not follow his practice; I will answer the question. The answer to the question is yes, I have.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
DETAILS OF ACCORD
Right Hon. Joe Clark (Leader of the Opposition): Madam Speaker, the hon. member for Timmins-Chapleau is the only empty barrel with a mustache in the House.
Some hon. Members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Chénier: We want to keep you as leader, Joe.
Mr. Clark: Madam Speaker, there is a great deal of heckling from the Liberal side, perhaps to stop questions about the equality of male and female persons. However, let me come back to the specific communique of the accord tabled in the House of Commons by the Prime Minister which says that there was agreement on the entrenchmerit of the full charter of rights and freedoms now before Parliament, with the following changes:
(b) A “notwithstanding” clause covering sections dealing with Fundamental Freedoms, Legal Rights and Equality Rights.
The Prime Minister will recall that there was a deliberate effort made, when the original resolution was prepared, to put Section 28 in a separate section. That separate Section 28 is not referred to in the list of exceptions I have just quoted.
Is the Prime Minister telling us that the Government of Canada is now changing the accord which was signed by the Premiers? Are we going to have a resolution which has an opting-out or override clause applied to Section 28, when the accord did not have an opting-out or override clause applying to Section 28?
Right Hon. P. E. Trudeau (Prime Minister): No, Madam Speaker, I am not saying that. The Government of Canada did not want to take anything out of the resolution which was before the House; nothing. We wish the Leader of the Opposition had supported it when it was here the first time, but I did say that the officials of the federal and provincial governments did meet on Thursday and Friday, and my understanding of that meeting is that this particular section would be subject to the “notwithstanding” clause.
Mr. Clark: That changes the accord.
Mr. Trudeau: Let me make it clear that everything in the charter now we would want to keep. Anything taken out is taken out because of the accord.
Mr. Clark: No.
Mr. Trudeau: The Leader of the Opposition says “No”. I wish he would get hold of the nine premiers and get them to interpret the accord.
I can show a piece of paper too.
Miss MacDonald: Shame on you.
Mr. Trudeau: The lady from Kingston says “Shame”. She did not support the charter when it was here.
Some hon. Members: Right on!
Mr. Trudeau: She did not support it when it gave absolute equality to the sexes. Hon. members opposite did not support it when it gave recognition to aboriginal rights.
As a result of the accord last week we have had to take certain things out, not because we wanted to take them out but because we were asked to take thcm out as the price of an agreement. I will not be saddled now with any weakness of the charter, which the party opposite refused to support and is now crying about because it does not appear in its entirety. They wanted a charter made in Canada. Let them sit down to work now and start making a charter in Canada. That means agreeing with the provinces that they should protect these people.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Jim Fulton (Skeena): Madam Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister of Justice. Section 91(24) makes it clear that the jurisdiction over aboriginal and treaty rights is an exclusive federal power. It is my understanding that the September ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada only limited the federal government’s ability to affect provincial jurisdiction directly. We all recognize the importance of last Thursday’s consensus. However, I would like the minister to confirm to this House that it is, first, within the powers of this House to re-entrench Section 34 fully, which this party will support and, second, that this action would not conflict with the September ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada.
Hon. Jean Chrétien (Minister of Justice): Madam Speaker, we were very pleased to entrench these rights in the Constitution at the committee stage. As the Prime Minister indicated a few minutes ago, we agreed to a proposition that came from the provinces. It was a document presented to the conference by Premier Peckford. The aboriginal rights were not protected in that proposition. We asked whether it was a mistake that they were not there. The answer was no, they knew, that the provinces did not want to opt to entrench aboriginal rights both at the federal and provincial levels.
We remembered that the National Indian Brotherhood and the Metis had announced through the Indian association strong opposition to the way it was entrenched. Some of them were already campaigning in London trying to block our “demarches”. What the Prime Minister did, when he realized it was being requested by the provinces not to be entrenched, was to reaffirm our commitment to entrench. He suggested to the provinces holding a constitutional conference on aboriginal rights so that the Indians, Inuit, Metis, provincial and federal governments could get together to find a solution that would be acceptable to everyone.
REQUEST THAT RIGHTS BE RESTORIED IN CONSTITUTION
Mr. Jim Fulton (Skeena): Madam Speaker, the important point for the House and the Minister of Justice to get hold of is that none of the major groups in Canada oppose Section 34 as it stands. They want something more. They wanted a consent clause included. This party is clearly on record that we want Section 34 put back in, fully entrenched. It is my understanding that that is supported by all members of this House. Section 91(24) of the British North America Act makes it abundantly clear that it is a sole federal jurisdiction. It can be put back in. The Supreme Court of Canada agrees with that. Will the Minister of Justice rise in his place and tell the native people of Canada, 1.3 million Canadians, that Section 34 will be put back in fully, as all members of this House think it should be?
Hon. Jean Chrétien (Minister of Justice): I said, Madam Speaker, that we want to ensure that these rights are entrenched in the Constitution at all levels. We will do whatever is necessary to find words with which everyone can agree. Everyone knows we took the initiative of putting that in the Constitution. We wanted it to be in the Constitution for all time. The Prime Minister asked the provinces to agree to a conference so that this would be entrenched in such a way that the native people, the provinces and the federal government, will be completely satisfied, and these people will be protected.
DISCUSSIONS BETWEEN PRIME MINISTER AND REPRESENTATIVES OF NATIVE PEOPLE
Hon. Warren Allmand (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce-Lachine East): Madam Speaker, I have a supplementary question for the Prime Minister. There have been reports that the Prime Minister would meet today with the Inuit and Indian leaders to discuss the constitutional accord of November 5 which dropped Section 34 entrenching aboriginal and treaty rights. Will the Prime Minister confirm whether such a meeting has already taken place? If so, what were the results? Has the Prime Minister agreed at least to entrench those aboriginal and treaty rights for all matters under federal jurisdiction?
Right Hon. P. E. Trudeau (Prime Minister):Madam Speaker, I did meet with certain Inuit leaders in the presence and with the assistance of the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. We examined these questions. I expressed the federal point of view much as the Minister of Justice just did in his last answer. We were anxious to find a formula which would not only involve a recognition by the federal government of the existence of aboriginal rights, but a process which would hopefully lead the provinces to recognize those aboriginal rights.
The aboriginal people themselves know that their life, except in the case of the Territories, is lived out within the provinces and that they have many rights and programs which should apply to them at the provincial level. Once again, as the minister just said, we would prefer a solution which would not have the federal government go it alone and then perhaps leave the problem on the back burner forever, but try to involve the provinces as well as the federal government and the native peoples themselves in a solution which all could accept, as the minister just indicated.
STATUS OF NON-NATIVE RESIDENTS OF YUKON AND NORTHWEST TERRITORIES
Hon. Erik Nielsen (Yukon): Madam Speaker, I have a supplementary question for the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister has mentioned the people of the two Territories quite apart from the native peoples in those parts of Canada. In view of the existence of paragraph (5) of the accord where special arrangements have been made to hear the views and concerns of the aboriginal peoples of Canada, can the Prime Minister explain why all of those thousands of Canadian citizens who are non-native living in Yukon and Northwest Territories have been left out in the cold with respect of this accord?
Right Hon. P. E. Trudeau (Prime Minister): Madam Speaker, unless I understand the Constitution differently from
the hon. member, those Territories are still part of Canada and still come under the jurisdiction of the federal government. In that sense the hon. member may be out in the cold with his party on this subject, but we do not think the native people or the northern people are.