Canada, House of Commons Debates, “Resolution Respecting Constitution Act”, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess (17 February 1981)

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Date: 1981-02-17
By: Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Canada, House of Commons Debates, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, 1981 at 7340-7407.
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COMMONS DEBATES February 17, 1981



Hon. Jean Chrétien (Minister of Justice) moved:

THAT. WHEREAS in the past certain
amendments to the Constitution of Canada
have been made by the Parliament of the
United Kingdom at the request and with the
consent of Canada;

AND WHEREAS it is in accord with the
status of Canada as an independent state
that Canadians be able to amend their Con-
stitution in Canada in all respects;

AND WHEREAS it is also desirable to
provide in the Constitution of Canada for the
recognition of certain fundamental rights
and freedoms and to make other amend-
ments to that Constitution;

A respectful address be presented to Her
Majesty the Queen in the following words:

To the Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty:
Most Gracious Sovereign:

We, Your Majesty’s loyal subjects, the
House of Commons of
Canada in Parliament assembled, respectful-
ly approach Your Majesty, requesting that
you may graciously be pleased to cause to be
laid before the Parliament of the United
Kingdom a measure containing the recitals
and clauses hereinafter set forth:


An Act to give effect to a request by the
Senate and House of Commons of

Whereas Canada has requested and con-
sented to the enactment of an Act of the
Parliament of the United Kingdom to give
effect to the provisions hereinafter set forth
and the Senate and the House of Commons
of Canada in Parliament assembled have
submitted an address to Her Majesty
requesting that Her Majesty may graciously
be pleased to cause a Bill to be laid before
the Parliament of the United Kingdom for
that purpose.

Be it therefore enacted by the Queen’s
Most Excellent Majesty, by and with the
advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual
and Temporal, and Commons, in this present
Parliament assembled, and by the authority
of the same, as follows:

1. The Constitution Act, 1981 set out in
Schedule B to this Act is hereby enacted for
and shall have the force of law in Canada
and shall come into force as provided in that

2. No Act of the Parliament of the United
Kingdom passed after the Constitution Act,
1981 comes into force shall extend to
Canada as part of its law.

3. So far as it is not contained in Schedule
B, the French version of this Act is set out in
Schedule A to this Act and has the same
authority in Canada as the English version

4. This Act may be cited as the Canada





Guarantee of Rights and Freedoms

1. The Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms guarantees the rights and free-
doms set out in it subject only to such
reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be
demonstrably justified in a free and demo-
cratic society.

Fundamental Freedoms

2. Everyone has the following fundamen-
tal freedoms:

(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion
and expression, including freedom of the
press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association.

Democratic Rights

3. Every citizen of Canada has the right to
vote in an election of members of the House
of Commons or of a legislative assembly and
to be qualified for membership therein.

4. (1) No House of Commons and no
legislative assembly shall continue for longer
than five years from the date fixed for the
return of the writs at a general election of its

(2) Le mandat de la Chambre des commu- 25 Prftlonsalions

(2) In time of real or apprehended war,
invasion or insurrection, a House of Com-
mons may be continued by Parliament and a
legislative assembly may be continued by the
legislature beyond five years if such con-
tinuation is not opposed by the votes of more
than one-third of the members of the House
of Commons or the legislative assembly, as
the case may be.

5. There shall be a sitting of Parliament
and of each legislature at least once every
twelve months.

Mobility Rights

6. (1) Every citizen of Canada has the
right to enter, remain in and leave Canada.

(2) Every citizen of Canada and every
person who has the status of a permanent
resident of Canada has the right

(a) to move to and take up residence in
any province; and

(b) to pursue the gaining of a livelihood in
any province.

(3) The rights specified in subsection (2)
are subject to

(a) any laws or practices of general
application in force in a province other
than those that discriminate among per-
sons primarily on the basis of province of
present or previous residence; and

(b) any laws providing for reasonable resi-
dency requirements as a qualification for
the receipt of publicly provided social

Legal Rights

7. Everyone has the right to life, liberty
and security of the person and the right not
to be deprived thereof except in accordance
with the principles of fundamental justice.

8. Everyone has the right to be secure
against unreasonable search or seizure.

9. Everyone has the right not to be arbi-
trarily detained or imprisoned.

10. Everyone has the right on arrest or

(a) to be informed promptly of the rea-
sons therefor;

(b) to retain and instruct counsel without
delay and to be informed of that right; and

(c) to have the validity of the detention
determined by way of habeas corpus and
to be released if the detention is not

11. Any person charged with an offence
has the right

(a) to be informed without unreasonable
delay of the specific offence;

(b) to be tried within a reasonable time;

(c) not to be compelled to be a witness in
proceedings against that person in respect
of the offence;

(d) to be presumed innocent until proven
guilty according to law in a fair and public
hearing by an independent and impartial

(e) not to be denied reasonable bail with-
outjust cause;

(f) except in the case of an offence under
military law tried before a military tri-
burial, to the benefit of trial by jury where
the maximum punishment for the offence
is imprisonment for five years or a more
severe punishment;

(g) not to be found guilty on account of
any act or omission unless, at the time of
the act or omission, it constituted an
offence under Canadian or international
law or was criminal according to the gen-
eral principles of law recognized by the
community of nations;

(h) if finally acquitted of the offence, not
to be tried for it again and, if finally found
guilty and punished for the offence, not to
be tried or punished for it again; and

(1) if found guilty of the offence and if the
punishment for the offence has been varied
between the time of commission and the
time of sentencing, to the benefit of the
lesser punishment.

12. Everyone has the right not to be sub-
jected to any cruel and unusual treatment or

13. A witness who testifies in any proceed-
ings has the right not to have any incriminat-
ing evidence so given used to incriminate
that witness in any other proceedings, except
in a prosecution for perjury or for the giving
of contradictory evidence.

14. A party or witness in any proceedings
who does not understand or speak the lan-
guage in which the proceedings are conduct-
ed or who is deaf has the right to the assist-
ance of an interpreter.

Equality Rights

15. (1) Every individual is equal before
and under the law and has the right to the
equal protection and equal benefit of the law
without discrimination and, in particular,
without discrimination based on race, nation-
al or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age
or mental or physical disability.

(2) Subsection (1) does not preclude any
program or activity that has as its object
the amelioration of conditions of disadvan-
taged individuals or groups including those
that are disadvantaged because of race, na-
tional or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex,
age or mental or physical disability.

Official Languages of Canada

16. (1) English and French are the official
languages of Canada and have equality of
status and equal rights and privileges as to
their use in all institutions of the Parliament
and government of Canada.

(2) English and French are the official
languages of New Brunswick and have
equality of status and equal rights and privi-
leges as to their use in all institutions of the
legislature and government of New Bruns-

(3) Nothing in this Charter limits the
authority of Parliament or a legislature to
advance the equality of status or use of Eng-
lish and French.

17. (1) Everyone has the right to use Eng-
lish or French in any debates and other
proceedings of Parliament.

(2) Everyone has the right to use English
or French in any debates and other proceed-
ings of the legislature of New Brunswick.

18. (1) The statutes, records and journals
of Parliament shall be printed and published
in English and French and both language
versions are equally authoritative.

(2) The statutes, records and journals of
the legislature of New Brunswick shall be
printed and published in English and French
and both language versions are equally

19. (1) Either English or French may be
used by any person in, or in any pleading in
or process issuing from, any court established
by Parliament.

(2) Either English or French may be used
by any person in, or in any pleading in or
process issuing from, any court of New

20. (1) Any member of the public in
Canada has the right to communicate with,
and to receive available services from, any
head or central office of an institution of the
Parliament or government of Canada in Eng-
lish or French, and has the same right with
respect to any other office of any such insti-
tution where

(a) there is a significant demand for com-
munications with and services from that
office in such language; or

(b) due to the nature of the office, it is
reasonable that communications with and
services from that office be available in
both English and French.

(2) Any member of the public in New
Brunswick has the right to communicate
with, and to receive available services from,
any office of an institution of the legislature
or government of New Brunswick in English
or French.

21. Nothing in sections 16 to 20 abrogates
or derogates from any right, privilege or
obligation with respect to the English and
French languages, or either of them, that
exists or is continued by virtue of any other
provision of the Constitution of Canada.

22. Nothing in sections 16 to 20 abrogates
or derogates from any legal or customary
right or privilege acquired or enjoyed either
before or after the coming into force of this
Charter with respect to any language that is
not English or French.

Minority Language Educational Rights

23. (1) Citizens of Canada

(a) whose first language learned and still
understood is that of the English or French
linguistic minority population of the prov-
ince in which they reside, or

(b) who have received their primary
school instruction in Canada in English or
French and reside in a province where the
language in which they received that
instruction is the language of the English
or French linguistic minority population of
the Province,
have the right to have their children receive
primary and secondary school instruction in
that language in that province.

(2) Citizens of Canada of whom any child
has received or is receiving primary or
secondary school instruction in English or
French in Canada, have the right to have all
their children receive primary and secondary
school instruction in the same language.

(3) The right of citizens of Canada under
subsections (1) and (2) to have their children
receive primary and secondary school
instruction in the language of the English or
French linguistic minority population of a

(a) applies wherever in the province the
number of children of citizens who have
such a right is sufficient to warrant the
provision to them out of public funds of
minority language instruction; and

(b) includes, where the number of those
children so warrants, the right to have
them receive that instruction in minority
language educational facilities provided
out of public funds.


24. (1) Anyone whose rights or freedoms,
as guaranteed by this Charter, have been
infringed or denied may apply to a court of
competent jurisdiction to obtain such remedy
as the court considers appropriate and just in
the circumstances.

(2) Where. in proceedings under subsec-
tion (1), a court concludes that evidence was
obtained in a manner that infringed or
denied any rights or freedoms guaranteed by
this Charter, the evidence shall be excluded
if it is established that, having regard to all
the circumstances, the admission of it in the
proceedings would bring the administration
of justice into disrepute.


25. The guarantee in this Charter of cer-
tain rights and freedoms shall not be con-
strued so as to abrogate or derogate from any
aboriginal, treaty or other rights or freedoms
that pertain to the aboriginal peoples of
Canada including

(a) any rights or freedoms that have been
recognized by the Royal Proclamation of
October 7, 1763; and

(b) any rights or freedoms that may be
acquired by the aboriginal peoples of
Canada by way of land claims settlement.

26. The guarantee in this Charter of cer-
tain rights and freedoms shall not be con-
strued as denying the existence of any other
rights or freedoms that exist in Canada.

27. This Charter shall be interpreted in a
manner consistent with the preservation and
enhancement of the multicultural heritage of

28. Nothing in this Charter abrogates or
derogates from any rights or privileges guar-
antced by or under the Constitution of
Canada, in respect of denominational, sepa-
rate or dissentient schools.

29. A reference in this Charter to a prov-
ince or to the legislative assembly or legisla-
ture ofa province shall be deemed to include
a reference to the Yukon Territory and the
Northwest Territories, or to the appropriate
legislative authority thereof, as the case may

30. Nothing in this Charter extends the
legislative powers of any body or authority.

Application of Charter

31.(1) This Charter applies
(a) to the Parliament and government of
Canada and to all matters within the au-
thority of Parliament including all matters
relating to the Yukon Territory and
Northwest Territories; and

(b) to the legislature and government of
each province and to all matters within the
authority of the legislature of each

(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), sec-
tion 15 shall not have effect until three years
after this Act, except Part VI, comes into


32. This Part may be cited as the Canadi-
an Charter of Rights and Freedoms.



33. (1) The aboriginal and treaty rights of
the aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby
recognized and affirmed.

(2) In this Act “aboriginal peoples of
Canada” includes the Indian, Inuit and
Métis peoples of Canada.



34. (1) Without altering the legislative
authority of Parliament or of the provincial
legislatures, or the rights of any of them with
respect to the exercise of their legislative
authority, Parliament and the legislatures,
together with the government of Canada and
the provincial governments, are committed to

(a) promoting equal opportunities for the
well-being of Canadians;

(b) furthering economic development to
reduce disparity in opportunities; and

(c) providing essential public services of
reasonable quality to all Canadians.

(2) Parliament and the government of
Canada are committed to the principle of
making equalization payments to ensure that
provincial governments have sufficient reve-
nues to provide reasonably comparable levels
of public services at reasonably comparable
levels of taxation.



35. (1) Until Part VI comes into force, a
constitutional conference composed of the
Prime Minister of Canada and the first min-
isters of the provinces shall be convened by
the Prime Minister of Canada at least once
in every year.

(2) A conference convened under subsec-
tion (1) shall have included in its agenda an
item respecting constitutional matters that
directly affect the aboriginal peoples of
Canada, including the identification and
definition of the rights of those peoples to be
included in the Constitution of Canada, and
the Prime Minister of Canada shall invite
representatives of those peoples to participate
in the discussions on that item.

(3) The Prime Minister of Canada shall
invite elected representatives of the govern-
ments of the Yukon Territory and the North-
west Territories to participate in the discus-
sions on any item on the agenda of a
conference convened under subsection (1)
that, in the opinion of the Prime Minister,
directly affects the Yukon Territory and the
Northwest Territories.



36. Until Part VI comes into force, an
amendment to the Constitution of Canada
may be made by proclamation issued by the
Governor General under the Great Seal of
Canada where so authorized by resolutions
of the Senate and House of Commons and by
the legislative assembly or government of
each province.

37. Until Part VI comes into force, an
amendment to the Constitution of Canada in
relation to any provision that applies to one
or more, but not all, provinces may be made
by proclamation issued by the Governor
General under the Great Seal of Canada
where so authorized by resolutions of the
Senate and House of Commons and by the
legislative assembly or government of each
province to which the amendment applies.

38. (1) Notwithstanding section 40 an
amendment to the Constitution of Canada

(a) adding a province asa province named
in subsection 16(2), 17(2), 18(2), 19(2) or
20(2), or

(b) otherwise providing for any or all of
the rights guaranteed or obligations
imposed by any of those subsections to
have application in a province to the extent
and under the conditions stated in the

may be made by proclamation issued by the
Governor General under the Great Seal of
Canada where so authorized by resolutions
of the Senate and House of Commons and
the legislative assembly of the province to
which the amendment applies.

(2) The procedure for amendment pre-
scribed by subsection (1) may be initiated
only by the legislative assembly of the prov-
ince to which the amendment applies.

39. (1) The procedures for amendment
prescribed by sections 36 and 37 may be
initiated either by the Senate or House of
Commons or by the legislative assembly or
government of a province.

(2) A resolution made or other authoriza-
tion given for the purposes of this Part may
be revoked at any time before the issue of a
proclamation authorized by it.

40. Sections 36 and 37 do not apply to an
amendment to the Constitution of Canada
where there is another provision in the Con-
stitution for making the amendment, but the
procedure prescribed by section 36 shall be
used to amend the Canadian Charter of
Rights and Freedoms and any provision for
amending the Constitution, including this

41. Part VI shall come into force

(a) with or without amendment, on such
day as may be fixed by proclamation
issued pursuant to the procedure pre-
scribed by section 36, or

(b) on the day that is two years after the
day this Act, except Part VI, comes into 20

whichever is the earlier day but, if a referen-
dum is required to be held under subsection
42(3), Part VI shall come into force as pro-
vided in section 43,

42. (1) The legislative assemblies of seven
or more provinces that have, according to the
then latest general census, combined popula-
tions of at least eighty per cent of the popula-
tion of all the provinces may make a single
proposal to substitute for paragraph 45(1)(b)
such alternative as they consider appropriate.

(2) One copy of an alternative proposed
under subsection (1) may be deposited with
the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada by
each proposing province within two years
after this Act, except Part VI, comes into
force but, prior to the expiration of that
period, any province that has deposited a
copy may withdraw that copy.

(3) Where copies of an alternative have
been deposited as provided by subsection (2)
and, on the day that is two years after this
Act, except Part VI, comes into force, at
least seven copies remain deposited by prov-
inces that have, according to the then latest
general census, combined populations of at
least eighty per cent of the population of all
the provinces, the government of Canada
shall cause a referendum to be held within
two years after that day to determine

(a) paragraph 45(1)(b) or any alternative
thereto approved by resolutions of the
Senate and House of Commons and depos-
ited with the Chief Electoral Officer at
least ninety days prior to the day on which
the referendum is held, or

(b) the alternative proposed by the prov-
shall be adopted.

43. Where a referendum is held under
subsection 42(3), a proclamation under the referendum
referendum Great Seal of Canada shall be issued within
six months after the date of the referendum
bringing Part VI into force with such modifi-
cations, if any, as are necessary to incorpo-
rate the proposal approved by a majority of
the persons voting at the referendum and
with such other changes as are reasonably
consequential on the incorporation of that

44. (1) Every citizen of Canada has, sub-
ject only to such reasonable limits prescribed
by law as can be demonstrably justified in a
free and democratic society, the right to vote
in a referendum held under subsection 42(3).

(2) If a referendum is required to be held
under subsection 42(3), a Referendum Rules
Commission shall forthwith be established by
commission issued under the Great Seal of
Canada consisting of

(a) the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada,
who shall be chairman of the Commission;

(b) a person appointed by the Governor
General in Council; and

(c) a person appointed by the Governor
General in Council

(i) on the recommendation of the gov-
ernments of a majority of the provinces,

(ii) if the governments of a majority of
the provinces do not recommend a can-
didate within thirty days after the Chief
Electoral Officer of Canada requests
such a recommendation, on the recom-
mendation of the Chief Justice of
Canada from among persons recom-
mended by the governments of the prov-
inces within thirty days after the expira-
tion of the first mentioned thirty day
period or, if none are so recommended,
from among such persons as the Chief
Justice considers qualified.

(3) A Referendum Rules Commission
shall cause rules for the holding of a referen-
dum under subsection 42(3) approved by a
majority of the Commission to be laid before
Parliament within sixty days after the Com-
mission is established or, if Parliament is not
then sitting, on any of the first ten days next
thereafter that Parliament is sitting.

(4) Subject to subsection (1) and taking
into consideration any rules approved by a
Referendum Rules Commission in accord-
ance with subsection (3), Parliament may
enact laws respecting the rules applicable to
the holding of a referendum under subsection

(5) If Parliament does not enact laws
under subsection (4) respecting the rules ap-
plicable to the holding of a referendum
within sixty days after receipt of a recom-
mendation from a Referendum Rules Com-
mission, the rules recommended by the Com-
mission shall forthwith be brought into force
by proclamation issued by the Governor
General under the Great Seal of Canada.

(6) Any period when Parliament is proro-
gued or dissolved shall not be counted in
computing the sixty day period referred to in
subsection (5).

(7) Subject to subsection (1), rules made
under this section have the force of law and
prevail over other laws made under the Con-
stitution of Canada to the extent of any



45. (1) An amendment to the Constitution
of Canada may be made by proclamation
issued by the Governor General under the
Great Seal of Canada where so authorized

(a) resolutions of the Senate and House of
Commons; and

(b) resolutions of the legislative assem-
blies of at least a majority of the provinces
that includes

(i) every province that at any time
before the issue of the proclamation
had, according to any previous general
census, a population of at least twenty-
five per cent of the population of
(ii) two or more of the Atlantic prov-
inces, and
(iii) two or more of the Western prov-
inces that have in the aggregate, accord-
ing to the then latest general census, a
population of at least fifty per cent of
the population of all of the Western

(2) in this section,

“Atlantic provinces” means the provinces of
Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince
Edward Island and Newfoundland;

“Western provinces” means the provinces of
Manitoba, British Columbia, Saskatche-
wan and Alberta.

46. (1) An amendment to the Constitution
of Canada may be made by proclamation
issued. by the Governor General under the
Great Seal of Canada where so authorized
by a referendum held throughout Canada
under subsection (2) at which

(a) a majority of persons voting thereat,

(b) a majority of persons voting thereat in
each of the provinces, resolutions of the
legislative assemblies of which would be
sufficient, together with resolutions of the
Senate and House of Commons, to author-
ize the issue of a proclamation under sub-
section 45(1),

have approved the making of the amend-

(2) A referendum referred to in subsection
(1) shall be held where directed by procla-
mation issued by the Governor General
under the Great Seal of Canada, which proc-
lamation may be issued where

(a) an amendment to the Constitution of
Canada has been authorized under para-
graph 45(1)(a) by resolutions of the
Senate and House of Commons;

(b) the requirements of paragraph
45(1)(b) in respect of the proposed amend-
ment have not been satisfied within twelve
months after the passage of the resolutions
of the Senate and House of Commons; and

(c) the issue of the proclamation has been
authorized by the Governor General in

(3) A proclamation issued under subsec-
tion (2) in respect of a referendum shall
provide for the referendum to be held within
two years after the expiration of the twelve
month period referred to in paragraph (b) of
that subsection.

47. An amendment to the Constitution of
Canada in relation to any provision that
applies to one or more, but not all, provinces
may be made by proclamation issued by the
Governor General under the Great Seal of
Canada where so authorized by resolutions
of the Senate and House of Commons and of
the legislative assembly of each province to
which the amendment applies.

48. (1) Notwithstanding section 54, an
amendment to the Constitution of Canada

(a) adding a province as a province named
in subsection 16(2), 17(2), 18(2), 19(2) or
20(2), or

(b) otherwise providing for any or all of
the rights guaranteed or obligations
imposed by any of those subsections to
have application in a province to the extent
and under the conditions stated in the

may be made by proclamation issued by the
Governor General under the Great Seal of
Canada where so authorized by resolutions
of the Senate and House of Commons and
the legislative assembly of the province to
which the amendment applies.

(2) The procedure for amendment pre-
scribed by subsection (1) may be initiated
only by the legislative assembly of the prov-
ince to which the amendment applies.

49. (1) The procedures for amendment
prescribed by subsection 45(1) and section
47 may be initiated either by the Senate or
House of Commons or by the legislative
assembly of a province.

(2) A resolution made for the purposes of
this Part may be revoked at any time before
the issue ofa proclamation authorized by it.

50. (1) Every citizen of Canada has, sub-
ject only to such reasonable limits prescribed
by law as can be demonstrably justified in a
free and democratic society, the right to vote
in a referendum held under section 46.

(2) Where a referendum is to be held
under section 46, a Referendum Rules Com-
mission shall forthwith be established by
commission issued under the Great Seal of
Canada consisting of

(a) the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada,
who shall be chairman of the Commission;
(b) a person appointed by the Governor
General in Council; and
(c) a person appointed by the Governor
General in Council
(i) on the recommendation of the gov-
ernments of a majority of the provinces,
(ii) if the governments of a majority of
the provinces do not recommend a can-
didate within thirty days after the Chief
Electoral Officer of Canada requests
such a recommendation, on the recom-
mendation of the Chief Justice of
Canada from among persons recom-
mended by the governments of the prov-
inces within thirty days after the expira-
tion of the first mentioned thirty day
period or, if none are so recommended,
from among such persons as the Chief
Justice considers qualified.

(3) A Referendum Rules Commission
shall cause rules for the holding of a referen-
dum under section 46 approved by a majority
of the Commission to be laid before Parlia-
ment within sixty days after the Commission
is established or, if Parliament is not then
sitting, on any of the first ten days next
thereafter that Parliament is sitting.

(4) Subject to subsection (1) and taking
into consideration any rules approved by a
Referendum Rules Commission in accord-
ance with subsection (3), Parliament may
enact laws respecting the rules applicable to
the holding of a referendum under
section 46.

(5) If Parliament does not enact laws
under subsection (4) respecting the rules ap-
plicable to the holding of a referendum
within sixty days after receipt of a recom-
mendation from a Referendum Rules Com-
mission, the rules recommended by the Com-
mission shall forthwith be brought into force
by proclamation issued by the Governor
General under the Great Seal of Canada.

(6) Any period when Parliament is proro-
gued or dissolved shall not be counted in
computing the sixty day period referred to in
subsection (5).

(7) Subject to subsection (1), rules made
under this section have the force of law and
prevail over other laws made under the Con-
stitution of Canada to the extent of any

51. (1) The procedures prescribed by sec-
tion 45, 46 or 47 do not apply to an amend-
ment to the Constitution of Canada where
there is another provision in the Constitution
for making the amendment, but the proce-
dures prescribed by section 45 or 46 shall,
nevertheless, be used to amend any provision
for amending the Constitution, including this

(2) The procedures prescribed by section
45 or 46 do not apply in respect of an
amendment referred to in section 47.

52. Subject to section 54, Parliament may
exclusively make laws amending the Consti-
tution of Canada in relation to the executive
government of Canada or the Senate or
House of Commons.

53. Subject to section 54, the legislature
of each province may exclusively make laws
amending the constitution of the province.

54. An amendment to the Constitution of
Canada in relation to the following matters
may be made only in accordance with a
procedure prescribed by section 45 or 46:


(a) the office of the Queen, the Governor
General and the Lieutenant Governor of a

(b) the Canadian Charter of Rights and

(c) the commitments relating to equaliza-
tion and regional disparities set out in
section 34;

(d) the powers of the Senate;

(e) the number of members by which a
province is entitled to be represented in the

(f) the method of selecting Senators and
the residence qualifications of Senators;

(g) the right of a province to a number of
members in the House of Commons not
less than the number of Senators repre-
senting the province; and

(h) the principles of proportionate
representation of the provinces in the
House of Commons prescribed by the
Constitution of Canada.

55. (1) Class 1 of section 91 and class 1 of
section 92 of the Constitution Act, 1867
(formerly named the British North America 40
Act, 1867), the British North America (No.
2) Act, 1949, referred to in item 22 of
Schedule I to this Act and Parts IV and V of
this Act are repealed.

(2) When Parts IV and V of this Act are
repealed, this section may be repealed and
this Act may be renumbered, consequential
upon the repeal of those Parts and this sec-
tion, by proclamation issued by the Governor
General under the Great Seal of Canada.



56. (1) The Constitution Act, 1867 (for-
merly named the British North America Act,
1867) is amended by adding thereto,
immediately after section 92 thereof, the fol-
lowing heading and section:

“Non-Renewable Natural Resources,
Forestry Resources and Electrical Energy

92A. (1) In each province, the legisla-
ture may exclusively make laws in relation

(a) exploration for non-renewable natu-
ral resources in the province;

(b) development, conservation and
management of non-renewable natural
resources and forestry resources in the
province, including laws in relation to
the rate of primary production there-
from; and

(c) development, conservation and man-
agement of sites and facilities in the
province for the generation and produc-
tion of electrical energy.

(2) In each province, the legislature may
make laws in relation to the export from
the province to another part of Canada of
the primary production from non-renew-
able natural resources and forestry
resources in the province and the produc-
tion from facilities in the province for the
generation of electrical energy, but such
laws may not authorize or provide for
discrimination in prices or in supplies
exported to another part of Canada.

(3) Nothing in subsection (2) derogates
from the authority of Parliament to enact
laws in relation to the matters referred to
in that subsection and, where such a law of
Parliament and a law of a province con-
flict, the law of Parliament prevails to the
extent of the conflict.

(4) In each province, the legislature may
make laws in relation to the raising of
money by any mode or system of taxation
in respect of
(a) non-renewable natural resources
and forestry resources in the province
and the primary production therefrom,
(b) sites and facilities in the province
for the generation of electrical energy
and the production therefrom,

whether or not such production is exported
in whole or in part from the province, but
such laws may not authorize or provide for
taxation that differentiates between pro-
duction exported to another part of
Canada and production not exported from
the province.

(5) The expression “primary produc-
tion has the meaning assigned by the
Sixth Schedule.

(6) Nothing in subsections (1) to (5)
derogates from any powers or rights that a
legislature or government of a province
had immediately before the coming into
force of this section.”

57. The said Act is further amended by
adding thereto the following Schedule:


Primary Production from Non-Renewable
Natural Resources and Forestry Resources

1. For the purposes of section 92A of this

(a) production from a
natural resource is primary production
therefrom if

(i) it is in the form in which it exists
upon its recovery or severance from its
natural state, or

(ii) it is a product resulting from proc-
essing or refining the resource, and is
not a manufactured product or a prod-
uct resulting from refining crude oil,
refining upgraded heavy crude oil, refin-
ing gases or liquids derived from coal or
refining a synthetic equivalent of crude
oil; and

(b) production from a forestry resource is
primary production therefrom if it consists
of sawlogs, poles, lumber, wood chips, saw-
dust or any other primary wood product,
or wood pulp, and is not a product manu-
factured from wood.”



58. (1) The Constitution of Canada is the
supreme law of Canada, and any law that is
inconsistent with the provisions of the Con-
stitution is, to the extent of the inconsistency,
of no force or effect.

(2) The Constitution of Canada includes
(a) the Canada Act;
(b) the Acts and orders referred to in 25
Schedule I; and
(c) any amendment to any Act or order
referred to in paragraph (a) or (b).

(3) Amendments to the Constitution of
Canada shall be made only in accordance
with the authority contained in the Constitu-
tion of Canada.

59. (1) The enactments referred to in
Column I of Schedule I are hereby repealed
or amended to the extent indicated in
Column II thereof and, unless repealed, shall
continue as law in Canada under the names
set out in Column III thereof.

(2) Every enactment, except the Canada
Act, that refers to an enactment referred to
in Schedule I by the name in Column I
thereof is hereby amended by substituting
for that name the corresponding name in
Column Ill thereof. and any British North
America Act not referred to in Schedule I
may be cited as the Constitution Act fol-
lowed by the year and number, if any, of its

60. A French version of the portions of the
Constitution of Canada referred to in
Schedule I shall be prepared by the Minister
of Justice of Canada as expeditiously as pos-
sible and, when any portion thereof sufficient
to warrant action being taken has been so
prepared, it shall be put forward for enact-
ment by proclamation issued by the Gover-
nor General under the Great Seal of Canada
pursuant to the procedure then applicable to
an amendment of the same provisions of the
Constitution of Canada.

61. Where any portion of the Constitution
of Canada has been or is enacted in English
and French or where a French version of any
portion of the Constitution is enacted pursu-
ant to section 60, the English and French
versions of that portion of the Constitution
are equally authoritative.

62. The English and French versions of
this Act are equally authoritative.

63. Subject to section 64, this Act shall
come into force on a day to be fixed by
proclamation issued by the Governor Gener-
al under the Great Seal of Canada.

64. Part VI shall come into force as pro-
vided in Part V.

65. This Schedule may be cited as the
Constitution Act, 1981, and the Constitution 35
Acts 1867 to 1975 (No. 2) and this Act may
be cited together as the Constitution Acts,
1867 to 1981.

to the


Column I
Act Affected

Column ll

Column III
New Name

1. British North America Act, 1867,
30-31 Vict., c. 3 (U.K.)

(1) Section 1 is repealed and
the following substituted therefor:
“1. This Act may be cited as
the Constitution Act, 1867.”
(2) Section 20 is repealed.

Constitution Act, 1867

2. An Act to amend and continue the
Act 32-33 Victoria chapter 3; and to
establish and provide for the Gov-
ernment of the Province of Manito-
ba, 1870, 33 Vict., c. 3 (Can)

(1) The long title is repealed
and the following substituted

“Manitoba Act, 1870.”
(2) Section 20 is repealed.

Manitoba Act, 1870

3. Order of Her Majesty in Council
admitting Rupert’s Land and the
North-Western Territory into the
union, dated the 23rd day of June,

Rupert’s Land and North-West-
ern Territory Order

4. Order of Her Majesty in Council
admitting British Columbia into the
Union, dated the 16th day of May,

British Columbia Terms of Union

5. British North America Act, 1871,
34-35 Vict., c, 28 (U.K.)

Section 1 is repealed and the
following substituted therefor:
“1. This Act may be cited as
the Constitution Act, 1871.”

Constitution Act, 1871

6. Order of Her Majesty in Council
admitting Prince Edward Island into
the Union, dated the 26th day of
June, 1873.

Prince Edward Island Terms of

7. Parliament of Canada Act, 1875,
38-39 Vict., c. 38 (U.K.)

Parliament of Canada, Act, 1875

8. Order of Her Majesty in Council
admitting all British possessions and
Territories in North America and
islands adjacent thereto into the
Union, dated the 31st day of July,

Adjacent Territories Order

9. British North America Act, 1886,
49-50 Vict., c. 35 (U.K.)

Section 3 is repealed and the Constitution Act, 1886
following substituted therefor:

“3. This Act may be cited as
the Constitution Act, 1886.”

Constitution Act, 1886

10. Canada (Ontario Boundary) Act,
1889, 52-53 Vict., c. 28 (U.K.)

Canada (Ontario Boundary) Act,

11. Canadian Speaker (Appointment of
Deputy) Act, 1895, 2nd Sess., 59
Vict., c. 3 (U.K.)

The Act is repealed.

12. The Alberta Act, 1905 4-5 Edw.
VII, c. 3 (Can.)

Alberta Act

13. The Saskatchewan Act, 1905, 4-5
Edw. VII, c. 42 (Can.)

Saskatchewan Act

14. British North America Act, 1907, 7
Edw. VII, c. 11 (U.K.)

Section 2 is repealed and the
following substituted therefor:
“2. This Act may be cited as
the Constitution Act, 1907.”

Constitution Act, 1907

15. British North America Act, 1915,
5-6 Geo. V, c. 45 (U.K.)

Section 3 is repealed and the
following substituted therefor:
“3. This Act may be cited as
the Constitution Act, 1915.”

Constitution Act, 1915

16. British North America Act, 1930,
20-21 Geo. V, c. 26 (U.K.)

Section 3 is repealed and the
following substituted therefor:
“3. This Act may be cited as
the Constitution Act, 1930.”

Constitution Act, 1930

17. Statute of Westminster, 1931, 22
Geo. V, c. 4 (U.K.)

In so far as they apply to
(a) section 4 is repealed; and
(b) subsection 7(1) is

Statute of Westminster, 1931

18. British North America Act, 1940,
3-4 Geo. VI, c. 36 (U.K.)

Section 2 is repealed and the
following substituted therefor:
“2. This Act may be cited as
the Constitution Act, 1940.”

Constitution Act, 1940

19. British North America Act, 1943,
6-7 Geo. VI, c. 30 (U.K.)

The Act is repealed.

20. British North America Act, 1946,
9-10 Geo. VI, c. 63 (U.K.)

The Act is repealed.

21. British North America Act, 1949,
12-13 Geo. VI,c. 22 (U.K.)

Section 3 is repealed and the
following substituted therefor:
“3. This Act may be cited as
the Newfoundland Act.”

Newfoundland Act

22. British North America (No. 2) Act,
1949,13 Geo. VI, c, 81 (U.K.)

The Act is repealed.
(effective when section 55 of
the Constitution Act, 1981 comes
into force)

23. British North America Act, 1951,
14-15 Geo. V1, c. 32 (U.K.)

The Act is repealed.

24. British North America Act, 1952, 1
Eliz. II, c. 15 (Can.)

The Act is repealed.

25. British North America Act, 1960, 9
Eliz. II, c. 2 (U.K.)

Section 2 is repealed and the
following substituted Qerefor:
“2. This Act may be cited as
the Constitution Act, 1960.”

Constitution Act, 1960

26. British North America Act, 1964,
12-13 Eliz. II, c. 73 (U.K.)

Section 2 is repealed and the
following substituted therefor:
“2. This Act may be cited as
the Constitution Act, 1964.”

Constitution Act, 1964

27. British North America Act, 1965,
14 Eliz. II, c. 4, Part I (Can.)

Section 2 is repealed and the
following substituted therefor:
“2. This Part may be cited as
the Constitution Act, 1965.”

Constitution Act, 1965

28. British North America Act, 1974,
23 Eliz. II, c. 13, Part I (Can.)

Section 3, as amended by
25-26 Eliz. II, c. 28, s. 38(1)
(Can.) is repealed and the follow-
ing substituted therefor:
“3. This Part may be cited as
the Constitution Act, 1974.”

Constitution Act, 1974

29. British North America Act, 1975.
23-24 Eliz. II, c. 28, Part I (Can.)

Section 3, as amended by
25-26 Eliz. II, c. 28, 5. 3I (Can.)
is repealed and the following sub-
stituted therefor:

“3. This Part may be cited as
the Constitution Act (No. 1),

Constitution Act (No. 1), 1975

30. British North America Act (No. 2),
1975, 23-24 Eliz. II, C. 53 (Can.)

Section 3 is repealed and the
following substituted therefor:
“3. This Act may be cited as
the Constitution Act (No. 2),

Constitution Act (No. 2), 1975


He said: Madam Speaker, on February 8, 1865, the Hon.
George Brown stood in the Parliament of Canada at the
beginning of the Confederation debates and said:

It is with no ordinary gratification I rise to address the House on this occasion.
I cannot help feeling that the struggle of half a lifetime for constitutional
reform—the agitations in the country, and the fierce contests in this chamber—
the strife and the discord and the abuse of many years—are all compensated by
the great scheme of reform which is now in your hands.

Today it is with very great pride that I rise to begin the
concluding stage of debate on another great scheme of consti-
tutional reform. Like George Brown over a century ago, I am
convinced that once the strife and the discord and the abuse
are all behind us, all Canadians will be compensated by the
reform which we are now debating.


Madam Speaker, four months ago, I spoke at length in the
House about the efforts that were made and were frustrated
on several occasions for one reason or another during the past
53 years to rcpatriate our Constitution. I then introduced in the
House a proposal to repatriatc our Constitution and entrench a
charter of rights and freedoms as well as the equalization
principle and the notion of sharing, with an amending formula
and mechanism designed to solve constitutional deadlocks.

I then proposed that the resolution be deferred to a joint
Commons and Senate committee. That resolution, Madam
Speaker, has been considerably altered in recent months and
much improved, thanks to the hard work of 132 members of
Parliament and 51 senators who have taken part since October
in the proceedings of that committee, and thanks also to
submissions made before that committee by some premiers, by
a large number of national organizations, by individuals,
thanks to submissions which were made to the committee in
writing, to hundreds and hundreds of reports which were
considered and to experts that were heard. And today, Madam
Speaker, we have before us a resolution which has been drawn
up in Canada by Canadians for the Canadians of today, and
especially for the Canadians of tomorrow.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Chrétien: I should like first to pay tribute to the
permanent committee members, especially to the co-chairmen,
Senator Hays, who with his experience and his sense of
humour has been a great help to the committee, and more
especially to the member for Hochelaga-Maisonncuve (Mr.
Joyal) who has chaired most of the sittings and performed an
impossible task with dignity, neutrality and ability, thus earn-
ing the admiration of committee members, and particularly of
all Canadians who followed those proceedings on television.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!


Mr. Chrétien: During this debate we will hear a great deal
about process, and I will speak to that issue later, but I want to
speak more about substance. Because long after the debate
over process is finished and forgotten, Canadians will take
pride in the results of the substance of our work.

If anything came out of the joint committee, it is that
Canadians want their common values and common aspirations
to be reflected in their Constitution. The Charter of Rights and
Freedoms, in my view, is a good reflection of the hopes and
dreams of Canadians.

I want to examine the charter both in terms of what it holds
out for tomorrow and also in terms of how it fits into the
stream of Canadian history. While our history is one in which
we can take pride, it is not without its stains. Some of these
were brought out very clearly during the hearing by the joint
committee of testimony from representatives of our native
people, of the National Association of Japanese-Canadians,
francophone groups outside of Quebec, of anglophone groups
in Quebec, of the National Black Coalition, of women’s
groups, of the handicapped.

Part of our task is to recognize the injustice of the past, to
say “never again shall rights be trampled upon”. Part of our
task is to ensure that the enormous evolution in our values is
reflected in our Constitution. That is what we are doing today.
We are building a modern Canada for tomorrow.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Chrétien: In the modern Canada of today with a vast
administrative apparatus spanning two levels of government,
we need a charter of rights to ensure that rights common to all
Canadians are protected from the actions of both levels of
government. Indeed, few have been as clear as the hon.
member for Provenchcr (Mr. Epp) who told the joint commit-
tee, and Iquotc:

It is the popular will that we have a Charter of Rights and Freedoms for the
Canadian people, embedded in the Constitution.

What does this charter of rights and freedoms do? First, it
protects fundamental freedoms common to all Canadians, such
as freedom of speech, of religion, of the press, freedom to vote
and to hold office.

Second, it guarantees the freedom of Canadians to establish
residence and seek a job anywhere in Canada without regard
to provincial borders. It establishes one Canadian citizenship
rather than ten provincial citizenships.

Third, the charter guarantees legal rights of Canadians. It
sets out protections against arbitrary arrest, against unreason-
able search and seizures. It enumerates the rights of an
accused to be defended by counsel, to have a fair trial, not to
be forced to testify against oneself. It ensures that where
evidence is obtained illegally it shall not be used where, by so
doing, the administration of justice would be brought into

Fourth, the charter enumerates equality rights. In this area,
the government is taking bold steps forward in order to ensure
the equality of women before and under the law. Indeed, when
I announced new wording for section 15 on January 12, Mrs.
Doris Anderson called it a major step forward. She said: “I
think the governments come a very long way toward meeting
the consensus of Canadians, including women.” We agree with
Mrs. Anderson that it is a major step forward.

Yesterday, in this House, the hon. member for Don Valley
East (Mr. Smith), assisted in his task by the hon. member for
Brandon-Souris (Mr. Dinsdale), tabled a moving report on the
handicapped. Today I take pride in presenting a constitutional
charter which specifically prohibits discrimination against the

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Chrétien: Fifth, the charter deals with language rights,
and I will speak to this in a few minutes.

Sixth, the charter makes specific reference to the multicul-
tural nature of our society. At the time of confederation our
forefathers established a new country based on two great
cultures, the English and the French. Over the last 114 years,
Canada has been enriched by the contribution of immigrants
from the four corners of the globe. And because Canada prides
itselfon not being a melting pot, we are establishing today that
the charter “shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with
the preservation and enhancement of the multicultural herit-
age of Canadians”. As far as the government is concerned, the
multicultural heritage of Canadians is such an essential fabric
of our nationhood that it must be reflected in our Constitution.

Seventh, the project of constitutional reform which we have
before us recognizes for the first time, and I am proud to say
so, the aboriginal and treaty rights of the Indian, Inuit and
Metis peoples of Canada. It is not possible to correct genera-
tions of injustice merely by adding words to a Constitution.
But it is possible to take a giant step toward a new beginning
so that, in the words of the hon. member for Nunatsiaq (Mr.
lttinuar), “together we will build a great nation.”

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Chrétien: Madam Speaker, I would like to tell the
House that in all the lists of rights that I have spoken about so
far, we have not changed in any way distribution of power in
Canada. The limits that we are imposing today are limits that
we are imposing on both levels of government. We think that
in a modern society like ours the rights of the citizen should be
protected in the Constitution so that the errors of the past—
there were not many, but there were a few—will not be
repeated, and I stress that point, Madam Speaker.


Madam Speaker, I should like to deal now with the lan-
guage issue and, in this regard, maybe I should direct my
remarks especially to my fellow Quebecers. On May 20 of last
year, we elected together to remain faithful to our Canadian
heritage and roots. During the referendum campaign, the
Prime Minister, other Quebec members and I indicated that if
Quebec were to remain part of Canada, we would have to
change Canada. I, for one, played a very active part in that
campaign, and in every speech I made I insisted that if the No
side won, we would carry out in-depth reforms. As I said then
and repeat now, we intend to patriate our Constitution, adopta
proper amending formula, enshrine both English and French
as the official languages of Canada, make sure that from now
on the rights of Canadians to deal with federal institutions and
courts are protected by the Constitution, and include the
Canadian legislation on official bilingualism in the Constitu-

I also indicated a while ago that we would provide franco-
phones outside Quebec with the constitutional right to set up
French schools in all Canadian provinces, and that the price to
pay for this right which has not been recognized for the past
114 years in Canada would be to grant anglophones in Quebec
the same education rights as those being granted to franco-
phones outside Quebec.

I also said that we shall enshrine in the Constitution the
notion of sharing because it is part of the fabric of Canada.
There have been good years and lean years, depending on the
occupation or the area in which one lived. What has made
Canada a great country is the fact that when times were hard,
the rich have always helped the poor. That is why we are still
here together today.

Madam Speaker, the reform we are proposing today follows
the trend set by great francophone leaders who were concerned
with the whole of Canada, men like Laurier, Henri Bourassa,
Andre Laurendeau and others. I am thinking of Laurier, the
first French Canadian to lead our country, the statesman who
always claimed that all of Canada was the country of French
Canadians. I am thinking of Henri Bourassa who had this to
say, and I quote:

Our very own nationalism is the Canadian nationalism based on two peoples,
on the distinctive traditions that duality implies. Our country, our land, is all of

When Henri Bourassa spoke of constitutional reform, he
insisted on the right of all minorities to be taught in their own
language everywhere in Canada. Fifty-five years ago today,
speaking to the Ontario premier, Bourassa said, and I quote
him in English:

We claim for ourselves the right. natural, historical and constitutional, to have
the French language taught to our children in all public schools attended by a
sufficient number of them in every province.


That is what Henri Bourassa said 55 years ago to the
Ontario premier.

Madam Speaker, that is exactly what we are doing at last in
Canada today. We believe it is important to maintain the
peoples mobility in the country because there are Franco-
phones in every province of Canada and because there are also
Anglophones who feel at home and comfortable in Quebec.
Here is what Henri Bourassa said about minorities outside
Quebec, and I quote:

It is not only the right but the strict duty of the province of Quebec to ensure the
conservation of French groups in other provinces, because their survival is the
guarantee of its own existence. Let us not forget it. If by an attitude of
despicable selfishness or in the torpor of a foolish apathy, we allow the other
French groups within confederation, those scattered shoots of the main stem, to
perish one after another, we shall be soon attacked on our own ground. We shall
suffer the punishment of cowards and egoists.

I am thinking also of André Laurendeau and his struggle to
recommend true bilingualism at the federal level. The Official
Languages Act is his legacy. Today, Madam Speaker, we are
making it a constitutional guarantee, and because such
progressive advances have been made in Canada, what would
have triggered a revolution 15 years ago now goes almost

Madam Speaker, that is what we are offering Canadians at
this point in our history: a new foundation on which to build a
more united, a more generous and a greater country. But to
achieve this, we must patriate the Canadian Constitution.
Why patriate it? As we all know, Canada is now a sovereign
and independent country, but it is still lacking something very
important. We cannot amend our own Constitution in Canada.
It was in 1867 that British colonies joined together to form our
country Canada which gradually achieved its independence.
This was done by the Balfour declarations of 1926 and the
Statute of Westminster of 1931 which virtually recognized
Canada’s independence. The government of the day, under
Prime Minister Bennett, asked that the Constitution remain in
Britain until such time as an amending formula could be
worked out. According to the historians and the government of
the time, it should have been a matter of six months or at most
one to two years.

Since then, Madam Speaker, six prime ministers and II
constitutional conferences have tried to solve the problem.
Among those prime ministers, there were some Liberals and
some Progressive Conservatives. In the short time that I have
been in public life there have been many near misses. In 1963,
just as I was getting ready to enter politics, Mr. Fulton, the
Minister of Justice under Mr. Diefenbaker, was working on a
solution. Subsequently, one of our good friends, the late Guy
Favreau, spent a considerable amount of time trying to achieve
consensus with the Fulton-Favreau formula and at one point
he thought he had found the answer, but again it escaped him.

The House may recall the fiery period between 1968 and
1971 when all governments attended the Toronto conference
convened by Messrs. Robarts and Johnson which continued
thereafter because Ottawa and the provincial governments had
to reach agreement, which is what was achieved in 1971. For
the first time in Canada’s history there was agreement. Unfor-
tunately it did not last. A few days later, for reasons altogether
foreign to the amendment formula, Quebec withdrew its

And in 1975 the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) made a
renewed attempt at repatriation, and repatriation alone. That
did not lead anywhere so we introduced Bill C-60 in 1978
which again ended in failure. This time we began in 1980 and
we are now in 1981. Fifty years of efforts, Madam Speaker, 50
years of failure. That is why we are committed at this time to
settle an anachronistic situation wherein we have to go through
the British parliament if we want to amend our own Constitu-
tion. We must set aside the rule of unanimity and break out of
that vicious circle; and the only way to do that is to act as we
are doing now, although it may not be the easiest way, Madam


As I said in French, it is not the easiest way, but it is the
only way. It is the only way because we tried under the best
circumstances last summer right after the referendum. Hon.
members will remember the good wishes of this House of
Commons before and after the referendum when I went to the
provinces telling them that we wanted to have some changes in
Canada. All of them said, “Yes, yes, yes,” but in September
there was no agreement. The hon. member for Provencher tells
me in good faith to try again, but I am telling this House that
that is just wishful thinking.

Mr. Clark: Thats not true.

Mr. Chrétien: I will come to that point later on when I talk
about the many amending formulas proposed by the

I am telling this House that the amending formula we are
proposing at this time is the best one, and I will tell the House
why. First, we are patriating. We are making the Canadian
Constitution a Canadian document. After that we will not
impose an amending formula. There will be the rule of
unanimity for two years. During those two years the Prime
Minister of Canada and the first mi isters will have to meet
twice to try to find an amending formula. If for whatever
reason seven provinces representing 80 per cent of the popula-
tion—and we have agreed that will be the amending for-
mula—do not agree, the matter will be put to a referendum,
and the people of Canada will settle it once and for all. I think
that is the only way to get out of that problem.

At the moment it looks as though there is not a great chance
of agreement among the provinces. There was a meeting in
Montreal last week. Not all ten premiers attended. Only six of
them did, and they could not agree on an amending formula.
They were not even able to agree on whether or not to go to
London. If there is not agreement, we will have the Victoria
formula. It is not a perfect formula, but it is the only one
which received the approval of ll first ministers in 1971. In
their wisdom they all agreed at that time. So there must be
something good about it.

According to the Victoria formula, first, the provinces will
have a legal say in the amending process. That is the last time
we are going to London. Now we can go unilaterally. When
the patriation process is over, under any of the amending
formulas which have been proposed, as well as under the one
we are proposing now, the provinces will have a say in the
amending process.

Second, the Victoria formula gave the regions a say in the
amending process. The rule is an easy one; it is the rule of 25
per cent. Any province which has to date 25 per cent of the
population has a right to agree or disagree on any new
amendment. Any province which some day will have 25 per
cent of the population will acquire the same rights. In terms of
the regions, as was agreed by the western premiers in 197l, if
two provinces representing 50 per cent of the population of
western Canada agree, the Constitution can be amended.

The situation is somewhat different in the maritimes. We
wanted to apply a similar rule to the one which applied in the
western provinces under the terms of the Victoria formula, but
after listening to the first ministers of the maritime provinces,
we accepted what we called the Henderson amendment
according to which two out of the four maritime provinces will
have to give their consent. This is the amending formula.
Under the amending formula there is sufficient regional pro-
tection to ensure that nothing is imposed on the maritimes or
on the western provinces unless. in the case of the western
provinces, two provinces representing 50 per cent of the popu-
lation agree with it. The rule is different for the maritimes, but
that is the way they want it. So it would be impossible for
central Canada to impose its views on the rest of Canada in
constitutional matters.

Why do we need in Canada an amending formula that has
some flexibility? The answer is very simple, that what we are
doing today is the start of the process, not the end. Much
reform has to be undertaken in Canada in future in terms of
constitutional powers. For example, take the upper chamber,
the Senate. The senators themselves prepared a report a few
months ago in which they proposed some reforms of the upper
House. In my meeting with the ministers last summer, one
item took up a lot of time when we were trying to find a
formula for reforming the upper House which would result in
more adequate regional representation. This was not resolved.
but some agreement will have to be reached on it.

We will have to constitutionalize the Supreme Court. There
was much discussion of this issue and we came very close to a
conclusion this summer. That will have to be done some day.
The problem of family law will have to be clarified. The
re-examination of the division of powers in Canada will have
to be tackled. Some powers could be delegated to the provinces
and, in the best interests of Canada, some powers could be
transferred to the national government. It is very important
also that we strengthen our economic union in Canada.

In short, Madam Speaker, what we are proposing to the
people of Canada, through their elected representatives from
all across the country in this chamber, is very simple. It
consists of the patriation of the Canadian Constitution at long
last, and the entrenchment in the Constitution of a charter of
rights and liberties, a dream which has been referred to in this
House so eloquently and so many times by the former member
for Prince Albert. It contains the entrenchment of native rights
in the constitution, equalization payments, the notion of shar-
ing, the recognition of the ownership of the resources by the
provinces in a very clear test, coupled with the power given to
the provinces to tax the resources and to pass laws in interpro-
vincial trade, within, of course, federal parameters. Also, as I
said earlier, it includes an amending formula which will permit
the many changes which will be brought about in the future.

I should like to tell you, Madam Speaker, that when you
look at the distribution of powers, as mentioned in the motion
before us, the only changes you will find are in favour of the
provinces in matters of resource ownership, indirect taxation
and interprovincial trade. It will be the first time that, under
the law, the provinces will have to be consulted and will have
to agree to any change in the Constitution. We are imposing
on the national government a new obligation to grant to those
provinces which are less fortunate equalization payments and
other schemes to ensure the sharing of Canada’s wealth in the

In my judgment, our scheme is not that complicated, and I
think that the Canadian people are strongly in favour of it. Of
course, the Canadian people do not like the unilateral obliga-
tion which we have to accept, but when you are the govern-
ment you have to take your responsibilities.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Chrétien: There was very little quarrel in the committee
regarding these matters. Everyone from across Canada who
came to testify before the committee said that we needed a
better charter, that we have to inscribe into the charter new
protection for certain rights and other such proposals. We have
not been able to satisfy all the demands but this is a good
beginning. It will clearly establish that what is important in
Canada is that we are all equal. We can be different in our
society and be equal at the same time.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Chrétien: What was the reaction of the opposition? I
think it is a very amusing situation and at the same time not
very amusing. I have seen the work of the members of the
opposition in the committee and I have to tell you, Madam
Speaker, that when there was no disagreement or protest on
the substance, opposition members made some very good
contributions, and I thank them for that. They worked very
hard, especially the hon. member for Provencher.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Chrétien: But—

Mr. Crombie: But what?

Mr. Chrétien: I will come to the hon. member soon.

Some hon. Members: Oh, oh!

Mr. Chrétien: From the start they all said they were in
favour of patriation. That was a great step forward, Some
months or a year ago there was no accord on patriation, and it
was the hon. member for Edmonton East (Mr. Yurko),
seconded by the hon. member for Provencher, who put forward
a motion, which was approved in this House at the time of the
referendum, that we should patriate the Constitution.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Chrétien: All hon. members are in favour of a charter
of rights. That is very important. I quoted the very eloquent
words of the hon. member for Provencher, and we are all in
agreement. Hon. members are in favour of enshrining native
rights in the Constitution. They want to enshrine equalization
payments. All that we have done is for the good, but it is not
complete and we should do more. But they say the process is
wrong. What are they proposing? They have two or three
amending formulas but the process is always the same.

According to their formula, the entrenchment of the rights
of the natives, of the rights of women, of the handicapped, and
so on, will be subject to the approval of the provinces. The
Premier of Manitoba, the province of the hon. member for
Provencher, said, not only in Canada but in London, that he
will never accept any section of the charter of rights in
Canada. How can they be in favour of a charter of rights and
an amending formula which will ensure that there will never
be a charter of rights that will apply to all Canadians; that we
have different classes of Canadians in Canada; that in some
provinces there will be some natives who will have aboriginal
rights and other natives who will not have them; that women in
some provinces will have some rights and other women will not
have the same rights in other provinces; that the handicapped
will have some protection in some provinces and will not have
the same protection in other provinces? That is the ambiguity
of the opposition.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Chrétien: I understand their embarrassment; they have
to face their responsibilities and the reality. They were all
there that Friday morning when we agreed to entrench in the
Constitution the protection of aboriginal rights. It was one of
the high moments in my political life, when I saw the unanimi-
ty in that committee and some members were crying because
there was a commitment on that day that the injustices of the
past were at last to be corrected.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Chrétien: Suddenly there is an amending formula from
Mr. Tremblay which nobody understands as yet. There was,
for four months, an amending formula; they might have
another one four months later; from the eighth to the twelfth
month there was a third possibility. And if there was no
agreement, it was “unanimity”; again going back to Mr. Lyon
to get approval to cntrench any rights in Canada. it was not

Today they come with a new amending formula; they had a
new release yesterday. Now it will be an amending formula
with no more unanimity; it is something new. This can be
studied at another time, but I think the hon. member for
Lincoln (Mr. Mackasey) will probably deal with that, with
great pleasure, tonight, or the Minister of State for Science
and Technology and the Minister of the Environment (Mr.
Roberts) will deal with that tomorrow. But the new amending
formula is something different this week; now it is seven
provinces and 50 per cent of the population. But have they
consulted Mr. Lougheed about it? Have they consulted Mr.
Lyon about it who said in London that it is unanimity or
nothing? What about Mr. Levesque, their new friend?

An hon. Member: Or Claude Ryan?

Mr. Chrétien: What about Roch La Salle? I hope he will
come and explain it in this House.


Madam Speaker, you cannot have both ways. One cannot
claim to be in favour of a charter of rightsal can guess what
is going to happen soon in the House; hon. members will stand
each in turn and move preposterous amendments to the chart-
er of rights and then the next day they will vote against it. I
find that situation ridiculous. What we are doing here is not a
charade. If we want to have a charter of rights it must apply to
all Canadians.


l want to tell the opposition that what we are doing here is
not a charade. As I said in French, l expect them to come
forward with new amendments, all sorts of great amendments,
as was the case with the hon. member for Kingston and the
Islands (Miss MacDonald) yesterday concerning women’s
rights. But the fact of the matter is that the rights of women
will never be protected in the Constitution if there is not
unanimity; if there is not unanimity, according to the so-called
Vancouver formula provinces will opt out of the protection of
the rights of Canadians.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Chrétien: What I am telling you, Madam Speaker, is
that it is not the kind of Canada I want. I have worked on that.

I think that our projects are the best we can produce today.
They are not perfect. As I said so many times in the commit-
tee, perfection is the enemy of good. But these are good
projects, projects which will realize the hopes of a lot of


I must say, Madam Speaker, it is time we took our respon-
sibilities in this House. This problem has been around for 53
years, 54 now. Of course. some professors will have more than
one pet subject to expatiate upon in coming generations, and I
refer to Mr. Dion, but I feel enough has been said about it. To
me, this is a unique opportunity. Last spring we decided we
would make major changes. Some will ask who is speaking for
whom. I must say, Madam Speaker, that there are 282
Members of Parliament in this House who were elected by all
Canadians in the last election. The House has transformed us
all. How come? Because when we come to the Parliament of
Canada, we take a different view from the one we had before.
I am proud to admit that I have been transformed by the 18
years I have been a Member of Parliament, because I got to
know my country. I have been through the whole country from
St. John’s, Newfoundland, to Victoria and from Windsor to
the North Pole, in my ministerial capacity. There are not
many parts of Canada I have not visited. I learned to know my
country. This is a country with a fantastic future. And this is
also a country that has to attune its institutions to today’s
needs. This country has become adult. This is a country which
must bring home its Constitution. This is a country which,
because of its diversity, must guarantee the helpless in our
society equal rights and safeguards the like of which are not
commonly found in other democratic countries.


Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Chrétien: Madam Speaker, this is an historical occa-
sion. We have the occasion, after the traumatic experience of
the spring, to build for our children and the children of our
children a better Canada—a Canada which will recognize the
diversity and equality which should be in our society, a
Canada which will protect the weakest in society, a Canada
which will have forever two official languages in the Canadian
Constitution, a Canada which will be an example to the world.
This is a generous land; now we have the occasion to make it
even a better country.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Hon. Jake Epp (Provencher): Madam Speaker. four months
ago I rose in the House and commented on a proposed
resolution concerning the Constitution and the motion which
established the parliamentary committee to study that resolu-
tion. At that time I expressed very grave reservations over the
course of action the government was adopting and over the
contents of that resolution. Other members of the official
opposition and I entered the entire constitutional debate from
the perspective that, despite our profound opposition to the
process, we would approach the work of the committee in a
positive spirit of co-operation and with the determination that
the process should be open to more Canadians.

I would like to take this opportunity, Madam Speaker, to
thank the co-chairman of the committee for the work he did,
namely, the hon. member for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve (Mr.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Epp: I know it is not generally the tradition of this
House to do that, but I want to say to all members that I
believe he dispatched his duties not only with the care his
office required, but also with a fairness we all appreciated.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Epp: If I might, Madam Speaker, I would like to make
reference to a few other hon. members. One is the Parliamen-
tary Secretary to the Minister of Justice (Mr. Irwin) with
whom I have had very deep divisions. While those divisions
remain, I appreciate that although the divisions were there in
the committee they did not become. nor have they remained, in
the area of personal animosity, which I feel has no place in the
parliamentary system.

I also enjoyed the loquaciousness and the homilies of the
hon. member for Lincoln (Mr. Mackasey). While at times
they were a little lengthy, I believe they were always in the
interests not only of protecting his party’s position but also his
vision of this country.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Epp: There are two other members I want to mention.
One is the member for Nunatsiaq (Mr. Ittinuar). Although he
holds partisan positions other than my own, I developed an
appreciation of his vision of Canada’s north when I was
minister of Indian affairs and northern development. He was
able to express his vision in the committee.

I would also like to mention the hon. member for Yorkton-
Melville (Mr. Nystrom). I am sure that times were difficult
for him from day to day. I know he presented his case with the
sincerity which the occasion demanded.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Epp: That being the case, Madam Speaker, what do we
have before us at the present time? I want immediately to lay
out before you and all members of the House that we regard
this debate as a serious one. We will treat it in that manner.
We also will expect, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) said
on October 2, that every member who wishes to participate on
this side of the House will have that opportunity at this stage.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Epp: Additionally, we will act in a very straightforward
manner. As well, we will move a minimum of amendments
regarding the matter which is now before us.

Having said that, our divisions and our differences with the
government run deep, revealing differing views on the nature
of Canada. We are today in one of those periods of profound
difference between the major parties in this House, between
the Liberal Party of the Prime Minister and our own party.
Our concern that the proceedings of the committee be tele-
vised and that the deadline of the committee be extended
beyond December 9 was a means to allow more Canadians to
be heard. It reflected both our desire to ensure that Canadians
would be heard and also that they would be involved. We are
proud and pleased that our determination forced the govern»
ment’s hand on both issues.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Epp: Our amendments in the committee reflected our
positive spirit of co-operation. We offered a number of sub-
stantial changcs to the charter of rights, some of which were
adopted to help create a document which we believe would
better reflect the fundamental nature of our nation and pro-
vide the best possible guarantee of the rights of all Canadians.

We offered a number of other amendments as well, all of
which were rejected. Together these amendments would have
provided Canadians with an alternative to the government’s
unilateral and divisive course of action. Thus. four months
later we find ourselves before this House, again commenting
on a resolution which is certainly better than the one proposed
in October; but despite the tremendous work of the committee,
those aspects of the proposed resolution threaten the very
nature of the Canadian federation. Those parts of the resolu-
tion have not been changed. In its most controversial aspects it
is the very same resolution. As a result, our principal objec-
tions to the resolution remain unchanged.

From the outset the prime focus of our objections has been
on the unilateral and divisive nature of the governments
action. On October 6 I feared that the government’s determi-
nation to act alone and to ask Westminster to make substantial
changes to our Constitution would create an atmosphere of
distrust, of disunity and open confrontation. I believe then, as I
believe today, that this is a step which would block the future
progress of constitutional reform. While the Minister of Jusv
tiee (Mr. Chrétien) says there will be other steps, I do not
believe that those steps are possible and that they will result in
positive action, in light of the atmosphere which has been

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Epp: This resolution is creating an atmosphere which
will disrupt any possibility of genuine reform taking place in
the coming years. The government’s proposal is based on a
false promise. That premise is this: the approach is based,
fundamentally, on the view that the federal system no longer
works and that progress cannot come from consensus. That is
the basic premise upon which the government has launched
this proposal—that consensus does not work and that negotia-
tion will not result in success. The premise is that, ultimately,
the negotiations will fail. On that premise the government
justifies acting arbitrarily and unilaterally, and in face of the
opposition not only of the provinces but also of the people of

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Epp: With all respect to the Minister of Justice, it is
important to note again that today the provinces, the partners
in this federation, are continually created as straw men. One
can then go ahead and knock them down. That is not the way
to build a consensus. It is not the way to build a federation.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Epp: As well, the government insists on incorporating a
referendum proposal which would give the central government
unilateral power to change our Constitution without any refer-
ence to either the elected legislatures or the elected govern-
ments of any province. That is what is proposed.

On that false premise the government is asking another
country, Great Britain, to vote on basic Canadian rights and
freedoms. It is a blatant surrender of Canadian sovereignty
which the Liberals seek to justify on grounds that we could
never reach agreement on these important questions in
Canada. That is the false premise upon which the government
is proceeding.

We are told over and over again that Canadian federalism is
a 54-year record of failure. The Prime Minister loves to tout
this 54-year deal. It was 53 years when we started; it is now
54. The record shows that since 1927 this matter has come up
in federal-provincial relations on 48 different dates. That is
less than a day for every year. The Prime Minister continues to
insist that it has been a record of failure. The interesting point
is that, of those 54 years, he sat as chairman for 13 of them.

In fact, the Canadian federal system about which I have
spoken, when run by reasonable governments—and I stress
“reasonable governments”—has produced agreements on hos-
pital insuranec, medicare, the Canadian Pension Plan and
equalization. In fact, that process could go on to the point
where every agreement between the provinces and the federal
government could be reached one way—by agreement,
negotiation and consensus. That success story is suddenly to be
put in the waste can and we will now be moving unilaterally.
The genius, Madam Speaker, of Canadian federalism is that it
does work; that is the genius of it. When reasonable govern
ments and reasonable leaders allow it to work, it works.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Epp: The system fails only when its leaders let that
system down; it works when its leaders make it work.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Epp: And so we reject the Liberal idea that after 114
years of our Canadian partnership, suddenly that partnership
should be abandoned and our federal system should be
replaced by a form of unitary state. Our federal traditions
grew out of the nature of this country. There is no other
system that could thrive here. no other system that can suit our
diversity. That nature has not changed. Suddenly, to tear it up,
to tear up federal traditions, would be a risk.

To tear up those federal traditions that are at risk now,
Madam Speaker, is threatening to tear up our own country,
especially the region from which I come. The events of the past
four months have confirmed that the Prime Minister will
replace the tyranny of unanimity, as it has been called, with
the chaos of unilateralism. That is his solution. He says, “You
do not like tyranny, so we will give you chaos.”

The political atmosphere in Canada now is highly charged
and Canadians have witnessed wrangling and outright con-
frontation between the federal and provincial governments.
We are now in legal battles, and the disturbances among
Canadians in different regions of the country is something all
of us in the House should be aware and take note of.

In my responsibilities within my party I have received
numerous letters, telegrams, telephone calls from Canadians in
all walks of life and from all parts of the nation. Many of the
people sending those messages do not really know much about
the substance of what the government is doing, and that is not
a deprecating statement, Madam Speaker. But what they
convey is that they are deeply concerned by the unnecessary
hostility and division which is being created in our country.
That is the message that they are giving to us.

As well, Madam Speaker, this is not another flag debate, as
the members of the government like to say it is. Charters of
rights, amending formulae, referenda are more than just sym-
bols; they are the practical rules, the practical tools, by which
our nation will be governed in the future. All laws, and in
particular fundamental constitutional laws, are not worth the
paper they are written on unless they reflect and represent a
true consensus. The government, in its determination to
impose this resolution, has forgotten that laws and lawmakers
must never just command, but rather in a democracy they
must command respect for themselves and also for what they
are doing.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Epp: Throughout the constitutional debate our party
has attempted to strike the compromises which are necessary
to put an end to division and hostility within Canada, hostility
which is now spreading between Canada and the United
Kingdom. It has poisoned the atmosphere which the govern-
ment has now created, and as a result we have attempted,
sincerely, Madam Speaker, to offer alternative solutions to the
government’s unilateral action.

For example, we have encouraged the holding of another
first ministers’ conference on patriation and the amending
formula; we have proposed a way in which the final details of
an amending formula, which already commands substantial
support, the Vancouver consensus, could be finalized here in
Canada. We have also adopted a position which would invite
and encourage the provinces to change their position and adopt
a charter of rights.

Our alternatives would have ensured that Canada’s Consti-
tution would be amended here in Canada, and that all substan-
tial changes would command respect from Canadians from sea
to sea and to Canada’s northern sea.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Epp: Madam Speaker, the government has rejected
every one of these proposals, every one of those compromises,
every one of those thoughts, because they are determined to
act in the face of opposition not only from the opposition
party, but also from a number of the provinces and, most
importantly, in face of the opposition of the majority of

So, Madam Speaker, the unilateral action, the divisiveness
of the government’s proposition, remains unchanged and for
that reason we oppose it.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Epp: As I have said, Madam Speaker, the Conservative
party has offered Canadians a positive alternative, a way out
of the needless conflict, strife and division which is being
created in Canada and between Canada and Great Britain. I
emphasize that we have a positive alternative, and I emphasize
the difference in approach between the so-called constructive
approach of the New Democratic Party and ourselves.

Let us take a look at the contribution of the New Democrat-
ic Party just for a minute, Madam Speaker. The Leader of the
New Democratic Party (Mr. Broadbent) is going around the
country claiming victory for the constructive approach of his

An hon. Member: Shame, shame!

An hon. Member: Because he is right.

Mr. Epp: He is claiming personal responsibility for nearly
every amendment which was made to the charter and to the

An hon. Member: You are against it.

Mr. Epp: That has struck another chord. Madam Speaker,
the very claim the NDP make, that they were the ones to
propose, is a direct insult to the many interest groups which
were able to persuade the government and the members on the
committee to introduce the favourable amendments.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Epp: The fact is that out of the 43 amendments the
New Democratic Party proposed in committee, the majority
report that they supported and voted for claims that they only
received two amendments; and they claim that they were the
architects of two amendments.

What is the record, Madam Speaker? In October the New
Democratic Party members told us that they had grave con-
cerns over the amending formula. They offered four changes to
the amending formula. All of them were rejected. In October
the NDP members told us they had grave concerns over the
minority education provision. That amendment was rejected.

An hon. Member: The most concerned party of Canada.

Mr. Epp: In October again they told us there were serious
flaws in the legal rights. Fourteen proposed changes were all

Again, in the same month, they expressed fears that the
charter did not provide adequate protection for women and
natives. They moved six additional amendments; all were

An hon. Member: By the Tories.

Mr. Epp: Madam Speaker, I find it somewhat humorous
that the member from New Westminster says we rejected
them; l did not know we had a majority in the committee. I
always thought, Madam Speaker, it was the NDP-Liberal
coalition that had the majority. I must say, Madam Speaker,
that if that is the manner in which he taught political science,
we are in trouble.

An hon. Member: if that is the best you can do, Jake. try

Mr. Epp: What, then, Madam Speaker, was the constructive
approach of the NDP? I want to say there were constructive
measures that they took. For one, they did move on the matter
of indirect taxation respecting resources. It is interesting to
note when the Leader of the New Democratic Party says there
will be hundreds of millions of dollars accruing to the prov-
inces that that position is not concurred in by the federal-pro-
vincial relations minister of the province of Saskatchewan. In
fact, at the caucus of the New Democratic Party he was asked
that very question. He was asked how much money would
accrue to the province of Saskatchewan which could not be
obtained either through direct taxation or through the royalty

Mr. Broadbent: Tell us about Alberta, Jake.

Mr. Epp: He cupped his two fingers and said “this much”,
which is zero. That is what the NDP got.

There were other “positive” approaches which the New
Democratic Party took. For example, it was through its efforts
that fundamental property rights for Canadians were not
included in the charter. It was the New Democratic Party that
moved that the word “information” should be replaced by the
word “communication” in the charter; it got that too. Obvious-
ly the price of New Democratic Party support for this resolu-
tion which undermines and disrupts the nation was very low.

What about the government’s proposal? First of all, let us
take a look at the amending formula. The Minister of Justice
said there would be a two-year interim period—if we actually
look at the clause it is approximately a period of two years—
and after that period of time there would be the unanimity
factor. What happens after that? Our Constitution will then
be changed by a formula discussed in Victoria ten years ago.
We rejected the Victoria formula on October 6, 1980. The
reasons we gave then are the same reasons we reject it today.

The Victoria formula represents an outdated consensus
which no longer corresponds to the reality of the Canada of
the 1980s. I believe there is a better consensus on which to
build. I believe the Vancouver consensus is a better consensus
and a more up-to-date one. Quebec had already rejected large
parts of the Victoria agreement in 1971, but as early as 1974
various provinces went on record and stated very clearly that
they could not accept the Victoria amending formula. That
was seven years ago. The government is still trundling it
forward as a consensus project. It has never been the case.
That is a political argument, I grant that. But aside from that,
there are certain criteria which an amending formula must
meet. If it does not meet those criteria, it is not worth
entrenching in the charter.

What are those questions and how does the Victoria formula
measure up? The first question one must ask about an amend-
ing formula, that basic change to any constitution or federal
state, is this: Is the proposed amending formula fair? I reject
the Victoria amending formula because it does not recognize
the equality of the provinces. It is not fair. It provides a
perpetual veto to certain provinces regardless of population
while creating different classes of provinces in the Atlantic
region and again different classes of provinces in western
Canada. Discrimination on the basis of population already
exists in the House of Commons and in the Senate. I accept
that. But do we have to use the power of the veto, which the
majority will now enjoy, at all steps of an amending formula in
the federal state? The same population discrimination should
not be involved in the provincial requirement.

If we think about most other federal states, including our
neighbour to the south, such a double discrimination does not
exist. In amending the constitution of the United States, the
requirements are: population only in the House of Representa-
tives, a two-thirds majority in the Senate and 75 per cent
support of state legislatures. What happens is that North
Dakota, the state immediately to the south of where I live, is
treated as an equal partner with California in the American
federation. At no time can the residents of North Dakota
argue that they are less American than the people who live in

On the test of fairness, the Victoria formula fails. The
Victoria formula must also be rejected because it is no longer
acceptable to the majority of the provinces, not only because it
discriminates between the provinces, but because it creates
difficulties in the fields of resource jurisdiction so critical to
the western and the Atlantic provinces.

Second, does the formula work? What the government
proposes is that Canadians accept an amending formula which
no longer corresponds to the Canada in which we live. It takes
no account of the tremendous population growth in western
Canada and the potential for growth in the Atlantic region. It
also contains no provision as to how this regionally-based
formula will be adopted in the future when some of the people
living north of sixty in the Yukon and Northwest Territories in
their wisdom decide to become full partners in the Canadian
confederation. The Minister of Justice did not answer that
question. What happens with regional imbalance when the
other areas of Canada want to join our federation? Based
solely on the Canada of 1970, the time the Victoria formula
was created, it does not reflect the Canada of 1980. I suggest it
is even short of the potential of what this country could be by
1990 and on.

Since this resolution was proposed in October, the govern-
ment has made a change in the permanent amending formula.
The Minister of Justice made that point as well. We supported
this change to drop the population requirement in the Atlantic
provinces to deal Prince Edward Island back into confedera-
tion. The earlier proposition had dealt that province out; the
government now dealt the province back in. I do not think the
government should take any credit for dealing Prince Edward
Island back in after having first dealt them out, but they like
to take that credit as well. That being the case, there is no
accounting for population in the Atlantic region, which is fine.

What is the situation in the west? If we are to be equitable,
the 50 per cent population requirement, it could be argued,
should not apply to the west either. Such an action, for
example, would strengthen the position of Saskatchewan and
Manitoba, but it would deny any additional responsibility to
British Columbia and Alberta which they might have or
should enjoy because of increased numbers, if you are going to
stay in the numbers game, as the Victoria formula does. No
matter how you manipulate the formula, the fact remains that
you cannot bring equity to a formula that is based on inequity.

I ask the second question: Does the formula work? Let us
examine whether the Victoria formula would have worked if it
had been in place. The Victoria formula requires the consent
of the province of Quebec, the consent of the province of
Ontario, the consent of any two provinces in Atlantic Canada
and the consent of two provinces in western Canada enjoying
at least 50 per cent of the population in that region. We talk
about protecting rights and protecting Canadians. At the time
medicare was proposed, the province of Quebec rejected it.
When the Canada Pension Plan was proposed, the province of
Quebec rejected it. Had the Victoria formula been in existence
at those times, neither of those programs, which Canadians
wanted, would be presently a fact of life in Canada. Those
social benefits that Canadians have enjoyed over the years
would be seriously jeopardized, if they had existed at all.
Therefore, our objection to Victoria remains and the reasons
we have given are obvious.

What about the interim amending formula? The minister
spoke, for example, of the two-year period of an interim
amending formula whereby the rule of unanimity would apply.

Then, of course, the Damocles sword would come down on all
of us and we would have Victoria. Last October I was skepti-
cal of the government’s provision of an interim amending
formula. It was suggested then, and continues to be argued,
that this two-year period would allow the federal government
and the provinces to agree to a permanent amending formula.

The hon. member for Lincoln made one of his favourite
arguments in committee. I say to him with the respect he
knows I have for him that this provision can only be viewed as
the two-year illusion. The proponents of the two-year illusion
ignore a number of facts. They ignore the poisoned atmosphere
in which federal-provincial discussions will take place over
those two years. That will be there. No one can or will deny
that. Moreover, they believe that the federal government will
bargain in good faith even though the amending formula,
which it always indicated it wants, will come into effect if
those discussions break down. Therefore it is a Catch-22
situation. No matter what happens, the feds win. That is the
kind of deal they talk about during those two years. There is
no hope for agreement as long as the federal government holds
every trump card.

The question can then be asked whether the committee has
been able to alter this situation in any way. The answer is
clearly no. I expressed the concern earlier that just to get a
provincial alternative on the ballot, it would take eight prov-
inces with 80 per cent of the population to agree. That
population figure ensured an automatic veto for both central
Canadian provinces.

I must admit one change that took place. Canadians will be
pleased to know that the government responded to these
concerns by reducing the number of provinces required from
eight to seven while maintaining the 80 per cent population
factor. Therefore, the veto remains. Despite the work of the
committee and the various amendments that were moved, the
two-year interim amending formula remains what it always
was, a two-year illusion.

What about the referendum proposal? I find it rather
humorous. The Minister of Justice and I have had many
exchanges. He talks about the number of formulae we have. I
do not know whether the pot has the right to call the kettle
black, but I could talk for some time about his own amending

What about his referendum proposal, which is another
amending formula? Alongside its outdated amending formula
which I have already talked about, the original resolution
contained a radical new proposal to have constitutional amend-
ments accepted or rejected by refercnda. Many members of
my party and the New Democratic Party as well were con-
cerned with the potentially dangerous effects of a referendum
permanently entrenched in the Constitution. Questions were
put to the Prime Minister in the early days asking whether this
will be used once only as a deadlock-breaking device, which in
sincerity a number of those members thought its purpose was.
We found out in committee that is not its purpose. The
purpose is to have it as a permanent amending formula and to
keep it in the proposal so that at any time the federal govern-
ment, whenever it chooses to declare deadlock, can trigger the
referendum proposal.

I have serious concerns about that proposal. Why? In
particular, any government of the day might get a hollow
victory which might be won in a referendum, given the tremen»
dous powers at the disposal of any federal government and the
powers of persuasion in the media, for example; or given the
charismatic role of a political leader of the expenditure of
public moneys without accountability until the deed is done.
All those things can be used in a referendum

I remain deeply concerned that the government has chosen
to retain a permanently entrenched referendum in its Constitu-
tion. While claiming they are trying to build a united Canada,
members of the Liberal Party and New Democratic Party, if
the New Democrats vote for this provision, are including a
divisive mechanism for changing the Constitution which would
pit provinces against the federal government, regions against
regions and Canadians against Canadians. They are support-
ing, New Democrats included, a referendum proposal which
could turn constitutional change into a perpetual win-lose
situation and will certainly create continued confrontation
between tlte various governments in Canada. All Canada want
a Constitution which unites us. Let us not put into the
Constitution that which divides.

Where do I go for the best evidence? On October 7, 1980,
the hon. member for Yorkton-Melville had this to say about
the proposal. I quote him from page 3344 of Hansard. Refer-
ring to the referendum, he said:

I think that has very dire consequences because it means the government can
control the tinting of the question, which is very important. One can put his
finger to the wind and take public opinion polls. If the timing is right, there is a
referendum . . . What would happen if there were a tremendous energy crisis, a
conflict in the Middle East and a tremendous increase in the price of energy, if
there were a national referendum to have more control of resources going to the
federal government? That may even carry in two of the western provinces
representing 50 per cent of Canadians. For example, it could isolate the
provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta which have the oil. It is dangerous to
have the power which exists in sections 42 and 46 of the resolution.

The numbers obviously have been changed in the new
resolution but the statement, I think, remains what it was.

What about a second authority? When the Premier of
Saskatchewan, Mr. Blakency, appeared before the committee
on Friday, December 19, 1980, he said in part:

As now drafted, a referendum could be used to bypass provincial legislatures
entirely. There is no requirement that the provincial legislatures be consulted or
in any way involved in future constitutional changes before a referendum is
called. Thus, there could be a situation of an extensive and well-publicized
debate in the federal Parliament, little or no debate in provincial legislatures, a
well-orchestrated appeal to the public and then a referendum, that I call the
“instant referendum”. This clearly undermines tltc position of democratically
elected provincial legislatures.

The instant referendum, as I say, has all the charm of instant mashed
potatoes, and it must be changed.

An hon. Member: You must be choking on the NDP federal

Mr. Epp: I was. In order to keep the record straight, I want
to refer to the position that the Premier of Saskatchewan took.
There was a change made regarding the instant referendum:
they could not trigger it until 12 months had expired after the
declaration of deadlock. For clarity and a straightforward
approach, I want to put on the record that that change took
place after those comments. But the basic argument against
referendum remained the same.

Those people who support the referendum proposal argue
that the people should be consulted and should be trusted. It
should be clear by now that our party is not afraid to allow
Canadians to participate in the making of their Constitution.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Epp: We have done all we could, and we will continue
in this process, to open up any means whereby government will
be opened up and Canadians will be included.

If the people should be trusted, as we say they should be,
why, for example, is there no inclusion in the resolution of a
citizen-initiated referendum procedure? Or has that thought
never crossed the minds of the government? Should the public
not have the right to initiate a referendum? Or, for that
matter, should the provinces not have the right to initiate a
referendum? Why only the federal government?

Both of the authors of the 1978 discussion paper on consti-
tutional amendment, published by this very government, and
the authors of the infamous Kirby memo—and I have to say
something here, Madam Speaker, just as an aside to the
members of the committee. I understand that we have been
wrongfully blaming Mr. Kirby all these long months, and I
want to apologize to him publicly. I understand Mr. Kirby
only saw the document; it was Mr. Eddie Goldenberg who
wrote it.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Epp: But that memorandum sought to provide this
government with advice suggesting that should either the
federal government or any number of provincial governments
block a constitutional amendment, 3 per cent of their clcctor-
ate should be able to initiate a referendum to challenge the
decision. This was their own advice. As the Kirby memo
explained, this would support the view that sovereignty resides
with the people. Follow your own advice.

There is no citizen-initiative in the resolution. It is the view
of the federal government that the people should be consulted
only when it wants to and on which terms. Despite the minor
changes introduced since October, the federal government
retains ultimate control of the use of referenda for constitu-
tional change. It is not the people we do not trust; it is this

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Epp: For the same reason, it is curious that this same
federal government which wants to entrench referenda into the
constitution refuses to hold a referendum on this resolution.

One must ask why. Let us go to the Minister of Justice. ln
answering questions on the CTV “Question Period” program
this last weekend, he explained to Canadians why they would
not be consulted on the very fundamental change being pro-
posed by the government. He explained that constitutional
amendments such as the charter of rights are very complex
issues for the people to understand. He recognized that a
referendum might not concentrate on the substance of an
amendment, but might involve other issues.

An hon. Member: Oh, my God!

An hon. Member: Oh, my Pierre!

Mr. Epp: Above all, he warned of the divisive nature of
referenda, I quote him:

You know, the Optimist Club in my riding in Grand’Mere had split in two
during the referendum… and so there is no more Optimist Club in

That is the reason the minister does not want to take this
proposal to the Canadian people. How can he then turn around
and tell the people, the good burgers of Grand’Mere and the
people of Canada, that he is going to entrench a permanent
referendum mechanism in the Constitution? It need be said no
more better, I would think, than in the editorial in today’s The
Globe and Mail. I quote but one sentence:

A federal cabinet which can ask the question it wants, under the rules it wants,
can be pretty certain of getting the answers it wants.

That is what they want.

An hon. Member: That is why they are afraid to go to the
people with it now.

Mr. Epp: On October 6, I singled out four main objections
to the proposed resolution, namely, the unilateral nature of the
project, the phony interim amending formula, the outdated
permanent amending formula and the referendum mechanism,
as wrong, and they remain wrong.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Epp: Because we believe that the government’s
approach was unilateral and divisive, our party offered a series
of amendments to the committee which would have offered
Canadians what we believe is a real and positive alternative.
We suggested that the resolution should be split into a patria-
tion package which would be sent to Westminster, and a
Canadian package which would be approved by Parliament
and referred to the provinces and their legislatures once the
amending formula was in place.

What about the patriation package? That package would
have provided for the immediate patriation of Canada’s Con-
stitution so that Canadians could settle their constitutional
problems here in Canada without involving a foreign

Before I get to that point, I want one point clearly under-
stood in the House during this debate. lt was not the British
government, the British Parliament or the British people that
insisted on keeping the Constitution in Britain in 1931. it was
done at Canada’s request. Let us have no argument here that
for some reason the British people have a colonial mentality
toward the resolution. That is the reason, our party believes,
that the British Parliament has no business making important
constitutional decisions for Canadians.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Epp: We also believe just as strongly that the Canadian
Parliament has no business asking the British to make those
decisions. Worth while constitutional progress does not lie in
abandoning federalism, nor does it lie—and I say this especial-
ly to the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. MacGui-
gan)—in attacking other countries. That is also something
which has been in the arsenal of the Prime Minister.

There is only one acceptable role for Britain to play, and
that is to accede to only one acceptable request. Let Britain
send our Constitution home immediately with an amending
formula acceptable to Canadians, and let every other question
about our Constitution be decided in Canada by Canadians.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Epp: What has happened in the last two weeks? In the
last two weeks we have seen a serious deterioration in Anglo-
Canadian relations. We have seen forced and trumped up
charges by the Secretary of State for External Affairs against
the British High Commissioner. The minister then had to
come back into the House humiliated. All of us were humiliat-
ed by the action he took, in partnership with the hon. member
for Oshawa. We have seen documents over the last two weeks.
Where is the truth? There is a lack of truth. The Prime
Minister says it is a lack of candour. Where I come from it is
the truth. What about the inevitable collision between the
British Parliament and the Canadian Parliament, or is the
possibility of collision the very ace the Prime Minister wants to

What Britain has to do is repeal section 7(1) of the Statute
of Westminster. That is their responsibility; the rest is ours.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Epp: We believe the patriation package should also
include a means by which Canadians could adopt and approve
an amending formula in Canada which reflects a truly Canadi-
an consensus as it exists today, not in 1971. The Vancouver
formula found agreement in principle—and l am glad the
Prime Minister is back—and I believe the Vancouver consen-
sus could have been developed further and could have brought
about consensus, if the Prime Minister had wanted it to. But
he did not want that. The Vancouver formula fulfils the
criteria I spoke of earlier. it respects the equality of the
provinces in the Canadian federation.

No province retains a veto over constitutional changes. It is
flexible, yet it provides significant safeguards for the rights
and powers which the Fathers of Confederation felt were
essential to the nature of the country, and especially the
provinces. It is simple enough to be adaptable, whether it be to
further demographic shifts in Canada or to the introduction of
new northern partners in confederation. It does not freeze a
concept of the nation in time, as does the Victoria formula.
The Victoria consensus can reflect the Canada of the 1980s
only if the aspects I described earlier are removed. I believe
the Vancouver consensus is a formula on which we can build
for the future.

What about the legitimate concerns raised by the Prime
Minister and others about the so-called opting out provisions?
I have been very candid about this, and I know the minister
was candid about Victoria today. I share that same approach
about public life. I have been candid in the committee, and I
know there is a need to refine the Vancouver consensus. That
is why we say, let us have one more go at it with the premiers.

The Prime Minister is concerned about the so-called check»
erboard effect. We do not live in a unitary state. We live in a
federal state. We should recognize differences and use those
differences to build one common country. In a federal state
with 11 governments and two territorial governments, the only
way to avoid the so-called checkerboard effect is to demand
unanimity on all counts. That is the only way to avoid the
checherboard effect. That is not the Prime Minister’s formula,
that is not the formula of the hon. member for Oshawa and it
is not our formula. So no matter how the Prime Minister
wants to use it, there will be to some greater or lesser degree a
certain checkerboard effect regarding any formula the Prime
Minister wants to adopt.

I therefore believe that if we are to succeed in this venture
and if we are to protect the powers which were given in 1867,
it is important to recognize and maintain the unique regional
identities and traditions. In Canada unity has never meant
uniformity. All of us have been proud that in order to find
national unity, we have to find that national unity in our
diversity. I believe the Vancouver consensus protects that
diversity and yet gives us the foundation to build a great

What about the Canadian package and the charter? The
Minister of Justice and members of the New Democratic
Party say that if we delay, Canadians will not have the charter
and their rights will not be protected. There are two aspects to
this, and other members of our party will speak to them.
Should we have a charter or not? I personally favour a charter.
We have always enjoyed rights under the British parliamen-
tary system, so it is not that by some stroke of lightning,
because of the action of the Prime Minister, I will suddenly
have all the rights he gives me. It is not that I did not have
them before. Yet that is what he is saying. So I say that the
very premise on which he starts is wrong. Our party—and I
want to say this on the public record, because we have not said
it in the House, although we have said it in committee-
supports a charter of rights.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Broadbent: But not yet.

Mr. Epp: They can do whatever they want. If they feel
embarrassed, that is fine. The point I want to make is that, in
order for the charter to find agreement among Canadians, it
must be more than words, noble though they may be. It must
enjoy consensus and legitimacy. This charter does not enjoy

Canadians want a charter of rights. I said that earlier. but
what they want is a charter which is carefully considered and
approved by Canadians in Canada. I am not for a moment
convinced, as I said earlier, that the power of public opinion
cannot in fact bring about those changes. I am not yet ready to
give up on that sort of federalism.

Is the charter complete? I agree with the Minister of Justice
that there were many amendments which improved the chart-
er, I had the honour to move a number of them. In fact, if we
were working at all on any deal, I must admit we were much
more successful than was the New Democratic Party—

Mr. Broadbent: Because you moved them first.

Mr. Epp: —because all we have to look at is the majority
report, which we rejected and they approved.

What does this charter do? Where does it start from? This
charter starts from the premise that the government will grant
us rights. That is where the charter starts from and that is
where the charter is wrong. My rights, our rights in this
House, the rights of Canadians, are not granted by any

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Epp: It is for that reason that we moved an amendment,
not only because the Right Hon. John Diefenbaker, the then
leader of this party and the prime minister of this country, had
that entrenched in the Canadian Bill of Rights, but because
the philosophy underlying the charter was right. What it did
was to say that every human being created in the image of
God has certain inalienable rights.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Epp: Once you accept that principle, whether you live
under the Canadian parliamentary system or under the Ameri-
can republican system, or in Poland where people are strug-
gling for their rights today, or in the U.S.S.R. where many of
our people came from, you still have rights, even though the
government abrogates them or does not allow people to enjoy
them. But you know inside that you have those rights because
you are a human being.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Epp: It was for that reason that we moved the following

Affirming that the Canadian nation is founded upon principles that acknowl-
edge the supremacy of God, the dignity and worth of the human person and the
position of the family in a society of free individuals and free institutions.

Affirming also that individuals and institutions remain free only when free-
dom is founded upon respect for moral and spiritual values and the rule of law,

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and
freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as
can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Epp: That proposal was rejected by the Liberal mem-
bers, and no matter how often they say that we are delaying
the entrenchment of the charter, the point is that their charter
is based on a false premise. If the minister says that he wants
to finish the work of the Right Hon. John Diefenbaker, let me
tell him that what he has now done is to gut and destroy his

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Epp: The charter which the right hon. gentleman
recognized was based on the very principle which we have just
stated. Governments cannot be supreme; it is the people in a
democracy who must be supreme.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Epp: What about our other roots? Can a nation grow
and develop if it forgets about its roots? For example, if we
want to forget about this amendment, why was this country
the Dominion of Canada? Why did the Fathers of Confedera-
tion go back to Psalm 72, verse 8, “He shall have dominion
also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the
earth?” Why was the dominion and the country to be vested in
the supreme God and not in government? What the charter
does is to remove these roots.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Epp: If hon. members want to laugh about God, go
ahead, that is their choice.

What about property rights? Property rights, as I said, were
agreed to by a minister of the Crown, by the Solicitor General
of Canada (Mr. Kaplan). He gave the solemn commitment, in
place of the Minister of Justice. that property rights would be
included. It was because of the NDP and the deals that were
made that Canadians will not have that amendment in the

Mr. Chrétien: What about Prince Edward Island?

Mr. Epp: I am glad the minister asked that question because
we have been dealing with Prince Edward Island. Prince
Edward Island does not want it in the fundamental section.
They have never been against the private ownership of prop-
erty; what they want is some protection of the shore line. I ask
the minister not to confuse the Prince Edward Island position.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

An hon. Member: Red herring.

Mr. Epp: What about property rights? Every person who
has understood the common law has said that a man’s home is
his castle. Why not entrench it? What about the immigrants
who came to this country for one thing—the right to own land
because they could not enjoy it in their own country or because
it had been taken away from them? So if anyone says that
they are completing Mr. Diefenbaker’s work, let them say that
no more.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Epp: I will try to conclude, Madam Speaker, if you will
give me a few minutes more.

What is the situation that we face today? I should like to
speak provincially for a little while. I am concerned, for
instance, when I look at the history of my part of the country.
There were various parties which developed as protest parties.
The New Democratic Party, which was known as the CCF, is
one of them. Today, the west feels strong, and at least some of
the protesters in the region believe that the region could find
greater strength outside Canada. I believe that separatism runs
against the very basic nature of the people of western Canada.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Epp: Western Canadians do not want to dismantle, they
want to build. They are attracted by the opportunities in
Canada, and they will not exchange the excitement for some
thing smaller and more narrow, as some of their leaders, or
proposed leaders, think they might. What I do not want to see
in this resolution is that the horizon of any region of the
country will be narrowed or that the other options can, in fact,
become options. I say to the Prime Minister, let him not make
the option of rejecting the country a viable option to anyone

There are various other amendments and proposals on the
national institutions and the Supreme Court which should be
made. I do not have time to enumerate them all today, and I
thank the House for the indulgence it has shown me so far.
But what about our parliamentary approach in the immediate
future? In the committee which studied the resolution mem-
bers of our party offered a series of amendments which, we
believe, represented a reasonable alternative.

Mr. Knowles: I rise on a point of order, Madam Speaker. I
wonder if the House would be willing to dispense with the
private members’ hour today, and let the hon. member for
Provencher (Mr. Epp) complete his speech and the hon.
member for Oshawa (Mr. Broadbent) make his speech as well.

Madam Speaker: Is there unanimous agreement to that

Some hon. Members: Agreed.

Madam Speaker: It is so agreed.

Mr. Epp: Madam Speaker, as I said earlier, members of our
party in the committee offered a series of amendments which
we believed were reasonable alternatives to the destructive
actions of the government. In this debate in Parliament, our
party will continue to offer compromise solutions to the dilem-
ma which we feel is facing our country.

Our amendments to the resolution will also seek to eliminate
those provisions of the resolution which we find most objec-
tionable. As the official opposition and the only opposition, we
will continue to defend the interests of the federation and of
the nation. We will both propose and oppose.

But I do not believe that there is any provision in this
constitutional proposal which is more objectionable than the
permanent enshrinement of a referendum to change Canada’s
Constitution. This is not just any referendum, it is not asking
the people; it is a referendum which could be held in order to
break a so-called deadlock, a deadlock wholly determined by
the federal government. It is a referendum which will still be
controlled by the federal government. It is a referendum which
would be used to bypass the peoples elected representatives in
provincial legislatures. It is a referendum which could be used
by a majority to override the rights of minorities, the very
essence which this proposal purports to protect.

Referenda have been used in extraordinary times and cir-
cumstances in the history of our nation. In all cases they have
created serious divisions within our country. As I said earlier,
even the Minister of Justice recognizes that referenda are open
to abuse and create needless strife within communities.

Canadians do not want a constitution which contains a
provision that will pit government against government, region
against region, Canadian against Canadian. Therefore, as a
unifying gesture to all Canadians we ask that the government
abandon its provision for rcferenda in the resolution. If the
government is truly flexbile, I urge it to accept the following
amendment which would drop this divisive provision from the
resolution. I move, seconded by the hon. member for Nepean-
Carleton (Mr. Baker):

That the motion be amended in Schedule B of the proposed resolution by
deleting Clause 46. and by making all necessary changes to the Schedule
consequential thereto.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Epp: I will close with the following remarks. I reiterate
that all of us feel we are as Canadian as any other member in
this House. All of us love our country. Each and every one of
us has had experiences which have made our love for the
country what it is today. If that feeling for the country, if that
love for the nation, is to continue, we must respect the very
fundamental rules by which we live—our Constitution. It is
important that we respect federalism and not change it unilat-
erally. The Canadian system works and it is time for the
Canadian government to respect it.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Madam Speaker: I have the amendment of the hon. member
for Provencher (Mr. Epp). I am sure the House would want
me to give it very careful consideration. I will take its receiva-
bility under advisement.




The House resumed debate on the motion of Mr. Chrétien,
seconded by Mr. Roberts, for an Address to Her Majesty the
Queen respecting the Constitution of Canada.

Mr. Edward Broadhent (Oshawa): Madam Speaker, we are
now in the final stages of an historic debate which began not
four weeks or four months or even four years ago; we are in
the midst of a debate which goes back at least as far as the last

In the past decade there have been studies and proposals on
the Constitution by our political parties, by the legal profes-
sion, by an earlier joint House-Senate committee and by a
royal commission, to name just a few groups. It has been the
subject matter of numerous first ministers’ meetings. These
reports, these studies and these meetings did not take place in
an historical vacuum. They were undertaken because social,
economic, cultural and regional change in our country during
the past dozen years made them necessary.

Indeed, the Quebec referendum was last year, but what led
to it reaches far back into the history of our land. Talk of
western alienation has only recently become fashionable, but I
recall making a speech on that subject more than ten years ago
and, in fairness, members of other parties have spoken on that
important issue of western grievances more than ten years ago.
Finally, all the provinces, not just in recent months but for
many years, have brought to first ministers’ meetings constitu-
tional grievances which they have wanted resolved.

What does one conclude from this? After years of studies,
conferences and proposals coming from the private sector, the
public sector, the federal government and provincial govern-
ments, our conclusion is clear: now is the time in Canadian
history to act; we have waited long enough.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Broadbent: Let me emphasize in underlining this con-
clusion three current and pressing reasons. First, the old,
pervasive provincial and federal wrangling which takes place
at first ministers’ meetings, in my judgment, is divisive. It is
something for which I do not lay the blame on individual
premiers, whether they are in the Conservative Party, the
Liberal Party or my party. Nor do I blame the prime minister,
whoever he may be or has been for the past decade. I blame
the decision-making framework of those conferences which has
required the unanimity principle to be changed. Year after
year we have seen premiers coming to Ottawa, not in the mood
to make agreements because they knew unanimity was virtual-
ly impossible, but rather, being politicians—and that is their
responsibility—to speak for their regional grievances and con-
cerns. Instead of a premier of Newfoundland coming to
Ottawa and saying that Newfoundland would like a particular
settlement, we have a premier of Newfoundlandal am not
talking about the current premier; I mean this as a generaliza-
tion—who talks only about the grievances of Newfoundland-
ers. Or we have premiers from western Canada who come to
Ottawa to talk only about the grievances of western Canadi-
ans, and so on down the line. So year after year we have seen
in our first ministers’ conferences Canadians who at home I
think are men of good will—indeed, I know they are men of
goodwill. I hope that one day there will be a woman among

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Broadbent: What I am saying is that these conferences
should show Canadians, on television, what a rich, magnificent
and diverse land we have. They could show our leaders coming
together to reach decisions. Instead, what happens is that they
come together to bash Ottawa. I stress that it is not a
conscious, deliberate plot. It is built into a structure which
does not enable decisions to be taken because the unanimity
principle has been at work. That must change, since these
methods are destructive. These kinds of conferences on nation-
al unity are not constructive.

The second reason I suggest on behalf of my colleagues that
at this poignant moment in our history we need to make a
decision is, of course, related to the Quebec referendum.
Politicians’ memories tend to be very short. I give credit to
members opposite for what they did in the province of Quebec.
They did what had to be done. I say in passing that they
helped to create the problem. I must also say that they helped
persuade Qucbecers to vote for the right side in that referen-
dum. It was an historic moment of serious consequence for the
unity of this country.

After the referendum took place there were a number of
people who spoke in this House. I quote one of them from
Hansard for May 21, 1980, at page 1265:

We need a new constitution. I welcome the commitment made by the Prime
Minister and the Minister of Justice which was reaffirmed here today. It is a
commitment, which I share, to a new constitution for Canada. We need a
constitution that is located here in our country, a constitution that can be
amended here in our country, a constitution that guarantees certain fundamental
rights, and a constitution that articulates a sharing of powers that is appropriate
to a diverse federal country. We now have a climate where that can be achieved.

The person who said that is the Right Hon. Leader of the
Official Opposition (Mr. Clark). I submit we have that kind of
proposal before us now.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Broadbent: The suggestion was made to the people of
Quebec during the referendum by those of us who live outside
Quebec—and I want to stress that as well—that if they voted
for Canada, which we all knew the vote was about. then early
action would be taken. Premiers from different provinces said
that, as did all party leaders in this House, I think we have an
obligation to live up to that commitment to take early action.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Broadbent: The third point I would like to underline, in
terms of its immediacy, concerns western Canada. During the
past half dozen years particularly, but also a bit further
beyond that, western Canadians have been expressing an
exuberant optimism. I do not think it is distorted to say that
everywhere in western Canada one now senses a greater degree
of optimism about the future and about personal prospects
than is the case in central Canada or Atlantic Canada. The
reasons are obvious. They are quite analogous to what has
gone on in world history. We are a part of the world, in broad
historical terms, which is growing economically. People sense
there is a vitality here, which creates a greater degree of
optimism. I know that is true in western Canada where the
growth has been greater. Western Canadians had a tough time
during the depression as compared with the rest of Canadians.
We must remember that. But they now have a sense that the
future is in their hands, and those of us who live elsewhere in
Canada should be pleased with thatreality and should be
supportive of it.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Broadbent: We need a constitutional change now which
moves toward partly resolving some conflicts and concerns
which western Canadians have had. But, secondly, we need
constitutional change which provides a decision-making frame-
work which can meet the grievances of western Canadians as
well as others.

I have outlined three reasons. One has culminated this year
in the perpetual wrangling of first ministers, which must be
terminated. The second reason is the need to meet our collec-
tive commitment to Quebecers on the referendum. The third is
the need to resolve the grievances of western Canadians. These
reasons lead my members in this party to the conclusion that
decisive action is required now.

In short, we in Parliament must make a very difficult
decision. And we have made it—at least some of us have. That
decision is to act without the co-operation of the majority of
the provinces. Indeed, to be quite honest, it is to act in the face
of the opposition of most provincial governments. That must
give us pause as national politicians. We know we have the
legal authority to do so; I do not think there is any doubt about
that at all. But is it morally legitimate? Is it politically
appropriate? Is it desirable that unilateral action be taken at
this time? I would like to address and answer those questions.

The critic for the Conservative Party spoke ably from a
perspective which I do not share. He outlined his case ably and
he raised this point. He said that by acting now, without the
co-operation of the provinces, would be divisive. I want to deal
with that issue in two senses, both in the short run and in the
long run. It is certainly divisive in the short run among the
premiers. There is no doubt about it; Sterling Lyon does not
like it one bit, nor does Mr. Peckford. I could go down the line
and cite a whole number of premiers. There is no one who will
challenge that. Indeed, I will add to the list because I am sure
he will soon make it known publicly. The premier of Saskatch-
ewan will be opposing unilateral action. Thus, it cuts across all
party lines in our land. We must deal with that. The premiers
are unhappy. Of course, in one sense that is divisive.

What about the people of Canada? Are they unhappy? Is
this action divisive now? In the short run I would say the
answer to that, regrettably, must be yes. Part of the reason for
the divisiveness among the people of Canada, as opposed to the
politicians of Canada, surely has to be the performance of the
Government of Canada in the whole process before Christmas.
I say this bluntly to the government side.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Broadbent: The initial refusal to have radio and televi-
sion coverage of the committee, the refusal to extend the
deadline for Canadians to appear before the committee and
the bringing in of closure early in the debate, created tension
and unhappiness in the country. That is a banal truism. I say
at this time that there were almost 100 groups who wished to
present their testimony before the committee. It was the
people who basically liked the charter of rights and those who
wanted change, who were unhappy with the process before
Christmas. I think it was a reflection on the efficacy of
Parliament that both opposition parties made that clear. They
fought that kind of process. Also, part of parliamentary effica-
cy is to show that this process can work and reflect the genuine
needs of this country.

Belatedly, I give credit to the government; it came to its
senses and it did respond. It could have remained intolerant. It
could have remained even more rigid to its deadlines. It could
have kept out radio and television. But after pressure was put
on from this side, it yielded. I think the yielding was sensible,
but regrettably it did promote dissension and divisiveness in
the country from which we are still somewhat recoiling.

However, I want to go beyond the short run, and before
doing so I want to say this, because in a debate of historic
significance it certainly behooves us to look back in historyjust
occasionally; and by that I mean beyond last week’s headlines
or even last year’s referendum.

There has not been, Madam Speaker, significant constitu-
tional change anywhere in the world at any time, beneficial
change, that has not been divisive. That is the reality of
politics, particularly in a democratic age. The United States,
to achieve independence, had to have a war of independence.
We now look back to 1867 with rather romantic eyes and at
what was achieved by some distinguished leaders who put
aside partisan differences.

Those who know the history of the period well know indeed
a lot of divisiveness remained in Atlantic Canada, remained in
Quebec, remained in parts of what was then Upper and Lower
Canada. So at the very birth of our nation, although our
forefathers came together to create a Canada, that action was
certainly divisive, too; at the time it was divisive. Just a few
years ago, Newfoundland voted to come into confederation-
how short historical memories are. If I recall correctly, there
were two votes and the population of Newfoundland was
almost evenly divided. So that, too, was historic action that I
think we are all happy about. Those of us who do not come
from Newfoundland welcome Newfoundland as a sister prov-
ince, and a vast majority of Newfoundlanders are proud today
to be Canadians.

So I am saying, Madam Speaker, that the divisive argu-
ment, to a considerable extent, is a bogus argument. It would
be nice to have significant historic change where we all sat
down and said: Aren’t we wonderful fellows? A community of
communities. There would be no differences. We will just sit
there and, even though we come from different cultures, even
though we come from different regions, even though we come
from different economic groups, we will sit down and agree
overnight. Well, historyjust ain’t like that, Madam Speaker. It
is a little more uncomfortable.

So if we are going to act decisively in history—and that is
what we are doing now—we have to be prepared as parties, as
politicians, to take a little divisiveness, even if it means, as it
does for most of us, divisiveness within our own parties too, if
it is good for Canada in the long run.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Broadbent: The serious question, Madam Speaker,
about divisiveness then is not in the short run but in the long
run. To assess whether this package is divisive in the long run,
one has to look at it in terms of its substance; one has to look
at the essence of what we are being asked to deal with and say,
as our founding fathers did more than a hundred years ago: Is
that going not only to please our children but our grandchil-
dren and our great grandchildren? Is it going to keep the
people in Atlantic Canada, in central Canada and in the west
happy or make them happier or more content with their
existence as Canadians? That is the serious question that has
to be asked.

Therefore, we have to look at the substance of the proposal.
During three months of committee hearings I as one Canadian
was proud to see other Canadians who were not politicians,
who were not in many cases active in any parties, come before
a committee and speak for the women of Canada. They spoke
for the multicultural dimension of Canada, for our disabled,
for the rich, for the poor. There was a very good cross-section
of the people of our land who made a remarkable contribution
in a remarkable period of our history in that committee; and
high among these I want to include, of course, the original
inhabitants of our land, the aboriginal peoples themselves. I
will come back to them in a minute.

So I ask this question, Madam Speaker, particularly of the
people of Canada today. Put aside the notion that this is a
Liberal proposal, or that it is a Liberal-NDP proposal, or that
it is opposed by the Conservatives and therefore others must
oppose it. I ask the people of Canada to think of the substance
of what we are dealing with and to forget its political

I also ask, particularly after the months of work that was
done by members of all parties in that committee and by the
citizens of Canada: What are the results? Can any MP who
puts aside that partisan difference now seriously doubt the
viability of this charter of rights? After the improvements that
have been made, can any person who takes human liberty as a
fundamental value oppose what is probably the best charter of
rights in the world? I say that and I mean it. I say no. With
this charter we will be entrenching not only individual rights
but also group rights, a process so essential in a federal state as
diverse as ours.

To those who say a charter of rights is unnecessary—and
there are in this land a number who say that—I say do not
think of American history, do not think of the Soviet Union,
do not think of Europe, do not think of anywhere else, just
think of Canada. Think of our own history; think of how
Japanese Canadians were treated during World War II; think
of the padlock law in Quebec and of the anti-free press
legislation that was once passed in Alberta. Think of the
smashing of the IWA which was trying to get established in
Newfoundland; think of the denial of schools to francophone
kids where they happen to be a minority; think of all Canadi-
ans who are not of British or French ancestry and think about
the number of years that they had to grow up in our country
called in very pejorative terms “bohunks” or “wops” because
they did not happen to be francophone or anglophone. This is
Canada I am talking about.

Think of the discrimination which has persisted and persists
today against women in our land; think of the denial of
equality to our disabled; and, Madam Speaker, most important
for all of us in this Parliament and elsewhere whose ancestors
came from other continents, think of our aboriginal peoples
and the abominable way they have been treated throughout
our history.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Broadbent: Well, Madam Speaker, my party says now
is the time to redress some of these injustices; now is the time
to provide equality and freedom within the Constitution; now
is the time to entrench a Canadian charter of rights in a
Canadian Constitution.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Broadbent: Madam Speaker, the point has been made
that such a charter curtails the legislative power of federal and
provincial governments. Well, we in this party have said since
the Regina manifesto back in 1933 that this is, of course, true
and it is, of course, desirable. That is one of the central
purposes of a charter of rights. And if it had existed around 30
or 40 years ago, a number of the injustices that I have just
listed would probably not have taken place.

However, in making this point about the limitations on both
federal and provincial jurisdictions that results from a charter
of rights, I want to stress the findings of our legal experts,
those who know that the effect of bills of rights in other
countries is not the curtailment of legislative authority; the
most beneficial effect that charters of rights or bills of rights
have had in other lands is the protection of individuals in the
administration and enforcement of laws. That is the prime
benefit from a charter of rights, and we must always keep that
in mind.

Although many Canadians citizens and Members of Parlia-
ment from other parties have made substantial contributions
to the improvement of the charter, I want to pay special
tribute to some members of my party who made what I regard
as an outstanding contribution. I want to do so because some
of them are not happy with the over all effects. There is a
small minority of well meaning conscientious members of
Parliament in my party who are not in agreement with the
very substantial majority. Some of them made outstanding
contributions to this process, nonetheless, in good conscience,
fulfilling a very difficult role as human beings.

I want to say that the hon. member for Yorkton-Melville
(Mr. Nystrom) and the hon. for Burnaby (Mr. Robinson) who
worked hard on that committee did an outstanding job not
only for our party, but for Parliament.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Broadbent: The hon. member for Nunatsiaq (Mr.
Ittinuar), the hon. member for Cowichan-Malahat-The Islands
(Mr. Manly), the hon. member for Skeena (Mr. Fulton) and
the hon. member for Vancouver-Kingsway (Mr. Waddell) will
deserve, when history is written about this period, much credit
for the progress we made in entrenching aboriginal and treaty
rights in the Constitution.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Broadbent: I congratulate the hon. member for New
Westminster-Coquitlam (Miss Jewett) for achieving remark-
able progress in ensuring the charter provides equality for
Canadian women not only before but under the law.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Broadbent: I compliment also the hon. member for
Beaches (Mr. Young) who, along with members in other
parties, worked hard to ensure that those with physical
disabilities are recognized in our Constitution. I want to
express appreciation to the hon. member for Dauphin (Mr.
Lewycky) who joined with others in fighting for recognition of
our multi-cultural heritage in this constitutional document.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!


Mr. Broadbent: Madam Speaker, I want to emphasize that
this charter is of utmost significance to the francophones of
this country. It acknowledges at last the duality of Canada
concerning federal institutions and access to education in
either language.

There is no need to say here that the anglophone minority in
Quebec has always enjoyed fair and equitable treatment from
the majority of the people in that province. And at last with
this charter we are beginning to recognize that our franco-
phone minorities outside Quebec have the same rights. I must
insist that this charter does not take any power away from the
provinces which want to pass legislation on linguistic matters.
It is perfectly normal that Quebec should want to be the main
centre of French culture in Canada. The fact that Quebec is
now as French as Ontario in English demonstrates the cultural
vitality of Quebecers. When the Quebec government enacted
Bill 101, we endorsed the aims of that legislation because it
was the answer to the need felt by Quebecers to assert
themselves, not only in cultural endeavours but in all spheres
of activity as well.

The proposed constitutional resolution does not negate the
spirit of that statute. We do not want a uniform Canada. The
aspirations of Quebecers are compatible with Canadian feder-
alism. What makes this country exciting and rich on the
cultural and human level is precisely the contribution of those
two great civilizations which, in spite of everything. have
managed to live side by side and in harmony throughout our
brief history.

Of course, there were some difficult moments, but the
common experiment of French-and English-speaking Canadi-
ans is unique and has proved to be mutually enriching. Obvi-
ously, the French fact in Canada transcends the borders of
Quebec. Over one million francophones living in the Atlantic
provinces, in Ontario and in western Canada have been impa-
tiently waiting for their Parliament to confirm their basic
rights. This proposed resolution meets these century-old expec-
tations. Let us not deceive them. If we let this opportunity go
by today, it may be too late tomorrow. Canada belongs to all
Canadians wherever they are and whatever language they


If I may make a personal observation on that point, I will
tell hon. members that I am married to a Franco-Ontarian and
I have a daughter who attends a francophone school here in
the city of Ottawa. But I was disturbed to discover that the
first publicly financed, as opposed to ecclesiastical, franco-
phone school was cstablished in the city of Ottawa just last
year. It shows, Madam Speaker, that we have just begun the
battle, but with this charter of rights, at long last we anglo-
phones are beginning to smarten up and do for francophones
all over Canada what anglophones have had for themselves in
the province of Quebec throughout history.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Broadbent: I want to say also that in addition to this
central duality of this country, which my party has long
accepted and cherished, the proposal in the constitutional
resolution on equalization is a matter of great concern to social
democrats. The disparities that exist between regions and
which have resulted in unequal opportunities in life must
always be fought against. It must remain a concern until the
end of time. If a child grows up in one of the outports of
Newfoundland without the same opportunities in life as a child
who grows up in downtown Toronto or Vancouver, as long as
these disparities exist which make it impossible for a young
man or woman to achieve full fruition in the development of
his or her talents, we must do everything we can to overcome
those inequalities. We are happy about the provision for
equalization which resides in this resolution and it merits

I turn now to the amending formula. As noted, it is basically
one which was agreed to a number of years ago by all the
provinces but one and the federal government. In our judg-
ment it is a practical formula which gives each of our four
major regions a veto on constitutional change. A notable
improvement in the proposed amending process was to make
clear that a referendum cannot be used except as a deadlock
breaking mechanism. As a result of improvements which were
made to the resolution at committee stage, a referendum on
constitutional change can take place only after it has been
thoroughly discussed for some period of time at the first
ministers’ level. That is the way co-operative federalism should

We stress in our party, unlike the Conservative party, that a
referendum is not a bad idea for constitutional change. We do
not like referenda for normal responsibilities of Members of
Parliament. We have long argued that when tough issues are
faced in terms of normal legislation it is our responsibility to
face them, whether they deal with abortion or capital punish-
ment. They are things which Members of Parliament should
debate, debate honestly and for which they should be prepared
to stand up and be counted. Like other federal states, for
example, Australia and Switzerland, we can see the utility
from time to time of perhaps going to the people directly on
matters which affect the framework within which other deci-
sions are made, namely the Constitution. It is a pretty basic
democratic idea. Our party supports a referendum as a dead-
lock breaking mechanism.

I want to come to another element in the package which
leads us to the conclusion that what we have is substantively
solid, correct and will wear well over the years, and that is the
issue of resource control.

When I first met with the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) on
the day the Leader of the Opposition met with him last fall, we
went over matters in the proposal and talked about equaliza-
tion, language rights and a general charter. The Primer Minis-
ter had done his research with his staff. He knew the NDP
position and principle on these things. It was not long after
that my party in general supported the principles embodied in
the resolution.

During that first meeting and subsequently, I said there was
something missing which had to be dealt with at this time in
our history; that is the resource question. It was not put in
there as some attempt to buy off one province. The matter of
resources and resource control is something which now affects
Atlantic Canada, something that has historically affected the
province of Quebec but in particular concerns western Canadi-
ans. We are all well aware of that.

It was my view and that of my party that if we were going to
make serious constitutional change, we should deal not only
with grievances as they emerged historically, with good reason,
from the province of Quebec, but also deal with possible
serious grievances in western Canada. The issue which stood
out above all others in that area was the control of resources.

I suggested on behalf of my colleagues to the Prime Minis-
ter that if reasonableness was shown in the amending process
at the committee stage, on the charter and other aspects of the
proposals, and if they added three key elements regarding
resources, we would be prepared to accept this package as
being good for Canada at this time. Contrary to what the
Conservative Party has been saying, and if there is anything
that has disturbed me in a partisan sense in this debate—

Madam Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member’s time
has expired. I must interrupt him, unless the House gives its
unanimous consent to allow him to continue his speech.

Some hon. Members: Agreed.

Mr. Hnatyshyn: Don’t make it partisan.

Mr. Broadbent: I will pretend that objection did not occur
because I intend to get partisan for a minute. Something that
has disturbed me is the failure of the Conservative Party to
recognize for western Canadians the relevance of these
resource concessions. There were Supreme Court decisions,
and I will not go into them in detail, which caused concern
among western governments. Alberta was very much among
them. They wanted change.

I give credit to the government because we insisted on the
change and they went along with it. What has not been so
widely recognized is that the government did show flexibility.
The Prime Minister knows very well that in the summer when
they discussed change in respect of resource control going to
the provinces, the federal government said it would have to
reintroduce new broad powers over the economy. We were told
that if we were going to have one, we were going to get the
other. We did not agree to that. Demonstrating the flexibility
required in constitutional building, the government did not
reinstate or reinsert the broad powers. That was very wise.

What we have obtained in terms of addressing a provincial
concern of particular relevance to the west is that the prov-
inces now have ownership of their non-renewable natural
resources clarified in the Constitution. They can participate in
interprovincial trade with federal paramountcy. For the first
time they can levy indirect taxes on those resources. I say to
the Conservative members that this means in revenue potential
for the province of Alberta in excess of an additional $600
million. Even for Alberta, that ain’t hay. It counts for

We wanted this resource change because those who grew up
in central Canada in particular, and received their livelihood
on the basis of industry protected by tariffs and other arrange-
ments, know full well that western Canadians had a certain
grievance about that. We know full well they wanted to use
their resource potential to provide themselves with wealth for
the future as the industrial structure provided did for us in the
past. Although the resource amendment we obtained from the
government does not go all the way, three out of four demands
are not bad. Those three concessions are going to be very good
for western Canada.

Having said all these good things about this proposal I want
to express some reservations we will be debating in this final
stage of the process. First, we deeply oppose the Conservative
and Liberal position to remove the limited degree of reform
which was in the original package of the Senate. We think the
Senate, to put it euphemistically, has outlived its existence.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Broadbent: It has outlived its legitimacy for some time.
I see some embarrassed looks on Liberal faces.

Mr. Lalonde: We need it for Stanley.

Mr. Broadbent: We objected to the Conservative and Liber-
al vote on that. We will have something to say about that later.
Similarly, we would like to see coastal provinces have control
of their offshore resources just as provinces have control of
inshore resources. We would like to see limited participation,
with federal paramountcy, in international trade. These are
legitimate goals. We regret the government did not see fit to
accept them.

We would also like to see the western provinces put on the
same basis as the Atlantic provinces in the amending formula.
If two provinces are all that are required in Atlantic Canada to
fulfil part of the veto requirement, then we should have simply
two provinces in western Canada, and not two provinces with
more than 50 per cent of the population.

Among all these concerns there is one that is fundamental. I
discussed this earlier today with the Minister of Justice (Mr.
Chrétien). It concerns the entrenchment of aboriginal and
treaty rights. I am pleased to report to the House that, as a
result of those discussions, the government has agreed to
accept an amendment which will be moved to Clause 54. It will
ensure that aboriginal and treaty rights of our native people
will be as firmly entrenched in the Constitution as all other
rights for all other Canadians. That must be done.

I want to finish my comments on the details of this proposal
by saying that if the government ensures a fair and full debate
and adds nothing objectionable, my caucus will proudly vote
for a motion that at long last will provide us with a Canadian
bill of rights in a Canadian constitution that can in the future
be amended exclusively here by Canadians.

I conclude with one additional observation. We live in one of
the most difficult nations in the world to govern, one of the
most regionally and culturally diverse in existence, but we are
rich in natural resources and human potential. We must now
use this new Constitution we are acquiring as the beginning
step of a new spirit of nation building which will lead to the
creation of one of the most just and exciting nations on the
face of the earth. We know we can do that.

Madam Speaker: I have now had time to examine the
motion presented by the hon. member for Provencher (Mr.
Epp), and I can say that it is in order. Therefore, the amend-
ment moved by Mr. Epp, seconded by Mr. Baker (Nepean-
Carleton), is that the motion be amended as follows:

That the motion be amended in Schedule B of the proposed resolution by
deleting Clause 46. and by making all necessary changes to the Schedule
consequential thereto.

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?

Mr. Mackasey: May I call it six o’clock, Madam Speaker?

Madam Speaker: Is it agreed that we call it six o’clock?

Some hon. Members: Agreed.

Madam Speaker: It being six o’cIock I do now leave the
chair until 8 p.m.

At six o’cIock the House took recess.

The House resumed at 8 p.m.

Hon. Bryce Mackasey (Lincoln): Mr. Speaker, earlier in
the debate the hon. member for Provencher (Mr. Epp) was
kind enough to mention me in his opening remarks as well, of
course, the co-chairman and the Minister of Justice (Mr.
Chrétien). I appreciated that gesture because in the many
months during which we were locked up together in committee
we both realized we shared the same concern and appreciation
for the House of Commons and its institutions, and we realized
that one can debate without being personal; one can make his
point without heckling and interfering, and I think quite
unexpectedly that type of atmosphere dominated more often
than not the many meetings we held on the Constitution.

The hon. member even mentioned that at times I was rather

Mr. Knowles: Oh, no.

Mr. Mackasey: —which is a polite word for long-winded. I
felt sorry today when I checked the record to find that the hon.
member for Provencher—he is agreeing with me—surpassed
me in time in the last ten days. I only wish I had known he was
creeping up. I might have prc-empted a little of his time.

This is one of those great debates; it is an opportunity for
members of the House of Commons, and I can recall a few
since 1962. No matter how people criticize the House of
Commons and no matter how imperfect the procedure tends to
appear, I have found that given half a chance, the House of
Commons usually meets the challenge placed before it. I
mention this because I think—and I will develop the theme—
that we have two ways to go before this debate is over. We can
procrastinate further, or we can accept the challenge and go on
to greater things in this country. I do not pretend to know for
which parliamentarians will opt. I think it is too early to say.

Over 100 members of this House of Commons participated
to some degree or another in the committee hearings. That is a
remarkable number of members. Some participated.for only
fleeting moments. Others participated for days and weeks on
end replacing sick members or members unavoidably absent.
Over half the members of the Senate participated in the
deliberations of the committee.

Over 914 individuals expressed their opinions to that com-
mittee through letters, telegrams or participation. No less than
294 groups made their views known either directly or indirect-
ly to that committee.

What I am saying is that nobody can suggest fora moment
that the resolution before this House was made anywhere else
but in Canada, by Canadians and for Canadians.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Mackasey: It is wrong to suggest that we are asking
Great Britain to amend our Constitution. We are asking Great
Britain to respect the amendments which the House of Com-
mons and the Senate—the Parliament of Canada—have felt to
be in the best interests of this country. That is a very impor-
tant distinction.

I would say that perhaps unintentionally the committee of
which I, the hon. member for Provencher and others here were
members has probably opened a new avenue of communication
for Canadians from all walks of life. In retrospect I feel the
insistence of other parties that we televise the proceedings was

I think it provided an opportunity, for the first time in
Canadian history, to countless hundreds of thousands of
Canadians, of watching, not simply members of a committee
at work, but their neighbours, their friend, their representative,
and thus participate directly in the constitutional processes.
What a change, Mr. Speaker, from what had been the custom
and the tradition over the last two decades when backbenchers
were ruled out of the constitutional process, when they had no
input. Backbenohcrs were as curious as other Canadians as to
what the provincial premiers, the federal government or its
representatives would decide on their behalf.

It seems to me that the success of the committee’s work, its
ability to bring forward a good document has reflected, not
simply in two amendments by the NDP, seven amendments by
the Conservatives and 28 or 48 amendments by the govern-
ment—those statistics are unimportant—but more important
is that 25 members of the House and of the Senate of all
political parties were able to produce a document, a bill of
rights which, as the Leader of the NDP Mr. Broadbent
indicated tonight, is one of the finest of its kind anywhere in
the world.

Why is that document a good document, Mr, Speaker? It is
a good document because of the sincerity and the eloquence of
those who appeared before that committee. It is no secret that
many members shed a tear when they listened to Canadians of
Japanese origin telling us quietly and in a dignified manner
about the type of discrimination they suffered in the war. They
did it, not in a reproachful tone but in a sad tone of voice,
suggesting in a moderate way that they hoped this blot on our
history would never be repeated.

Then came the very deeply proud Canadians of Ukrainian
origin who reminded us rather forcefully, with dignity and
integrity, that they accepted the bilingual nature of Canada
but this is a multicultural country now, a pluralistic society,
and they wanted their culture, their language and their tradi-
tions respected and reflected in the Constitution.

I could go on, Mr. Speaker, to talk about other groups, and
I will do so about a few of them, about the quiet dignity of no
less than 16 groups of aboriginal people who came before that
committee and, with their earthy wisdom, dedication and
determination, insisted, but did not plead, that we enshrine in
the bill of rights some recognition that aboriginal rights exist»
ed. They did not ask us to define them, they left that up to the
courts or, better still, for negotiation. But what was important
to these very proud Indian and Eskimo people and Metis was
that we at this level recognize once and for all that aboriginal
people have rights still to be defined and injustices still to be

Women’s rights, the rights of the disabled, our fundamental
freedom, our legal rights all presently enshrined in that docu-
ment, for the most part were not enshrined when we began the
process last October or November. Now they are enshrined
because Canadians, for the first time, had a direct input into
this Parliament and said to their elected and their non-elected
representatives, “We want a charter of human rights now, not
in five years, in ten years or in 20 years, but now.” I suggest,
Mr. Speaker. that if we adopt the proposal of the Conservative
Party, we will prolong indefinitely the passage of a bill of
rights for Canadians. Those of us who sat on that committee—
I am certainly talking for the Liberals and, I gather, for the
NDP—do not want to be part of any procrastination in the
enshrinement of the bill of rights at this time.

What do my good friends opposite propose? Let us look at
the minority report which they presented to the Canadian
people some days ago. It is a good document, a precise
document and an accurate document in that it reflects the
views of the Conservative Party. What does it propose? It says
something that would please all of us if read not too carefully.
It says that the Constitution should be patriated, and it will be,
Mr. Speaker. It recognizes if that is to be a meaningful
gesture, there must be an amending formula. It goes further to
suggest that the overwhelming number of people and groups
who appeared before us wanted a bill of rights containing legal
protection against overzealous legislators, overzealous law
enforcement officers or insensitive bureaucrats.

Hon. members opposite recognize the need for an amending
formula for a bill of rights to be patriated. What is the
formula? Having said that we must have one before we bring
the Constitution home, they suggest it must include, prefer-
ably, a charter that is known as the Vancouver charter. One of
the dilemmas we have with the Conservative position is that
really they want their cake and they want to eat it too. They
want to amend the Constitution, they want an amending
formula, they want a bill of rights, but not too soon, some time
in the future when the climate is better, when the premiers will
agree, and if they do not agree then there would be no
amending formula, no patriation and no bill of rights.

Where is the evidence that there is any dramatic shift in the
attitude of the premiers? All of us who have followed this
debate for many years will recognize the need for a bill of
rights. I still remember with horror the dying days of the last
provincial-federal conference when one premier tried to trade
mobility rights for mineral rights, and another premier tried to
trade fishing rights for minority rights. This has not been the
exception; it has been the practice for some 50 years, We have
discussed the need for a bill of rights not for 50 years, but
certainly for a couple of decades. Yet Conservative members
would suggest that public opinion would force the premiers to
change their hardened attitude.

Today we heard how the big bad Liberal Party opposed the
cntrenchment of the recognition of the deity, God, that some-
how we all got together, we non-religious members, and hud-
dled and decided that we did not want to see the word “God”
enshrined in the Constitution. We heard also that we did not
recognize supremacy, the essential worth ofa human person or
the special importance of the family in our society. That
declaration was included in the prezunble inst fall. It was
placed there by the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau), by the
Minister of Justice and Minister of State for Social Develop-
ment; by the Liberal l’ni’ty. Who decided that they did not
want a preamble which included these declarations? it was the
ten provincial premiers of this country.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Mackasey: No one in this House has any monopoly on
virtue or religion. l find it rather strange that these arguments
are brought into the House of Commons. Perhaps it is because
they must divert attention from a bad argument or a weak

Now, why bring in the Vancouver formula? Why are so
many of us adamantly opposed to the Vancouver formula? We
are concerned and we will continue to be concerned about
people. We do not want a formula which would make it
possible for Canadians in one province to have different rights
than Canadians in other provinces. The Victoria charter we
suggest recognizes four distinct regions in Canada; the Atlan-
tic, Quebec, Ontario and the west. We recognize the unique-
ness of British Columbia and the western region. By saying we
would need the support of two provinces and 50 per cent of the
population, that automatically means, certainly in the foresee-
able future, the inclusion of British Columbia. The Prime
Minister said that that formula is not etched in stone. It is one
that could be changed or altered in the next two years or at the
next federal-provincial conference which, under the proposed
resolution, must be held once a year.

What is obnoxious to us about the Vancouver formula? I
will let Quebec members tell the House what is wrong with it
later on in this debate. For instance, it fails to recognize the
unique position of that province. Quebec is rightly concerned
with its language and culture because it is the home of the
majority of French-speaking Canadians, Canadians who worry
that unless they can exercise some unusual prerogative in the
form ofa veto, things could take place in an amended Constitu-
tion which would make it difficult for that province to retain
its language, its culture and its control over the educational
process. I do not intend to belabour that or elaborate beyond
what i have said. I will leave that to other hon. members.

The most insidious provision of the Vancouver formula is
that it permits the provinces of the country to opt out of any
change they do not like. If you, Mr. Speaker, were one of the
spokesman for the aboriginal groups appearing before the
committee. how would you feel if you saw Parliament endors-
ing a formula which permitted one province to recognize
aboriginal rights but the next province to deny aboriginal
rights? How would one feel as a francophone from Ontario,
Manitoba, Saskatchewan or Quebec, who wanted to transfer
to another province and did not have the assurance when he or
she moved to that other province that their children could be
educated in that minority language? How would they feel
about constitutional change which permits one province to
recognize minority rights but denies the same rights to minori-
ties in another province?

How about the disabled? The plight of the disabled has not
been recognized with great warmth by all provinces. The
minister told me that one day. Provinces recognize that if this
desirable recognition of the rights of the disabled goes into
effect, many provinces will have to insist that the building code
reflects basic changes to make the lives of disabled people a
little easier. They will have to toughen up their labour laws to
bring an end to the discrimination which has been practised
for too long against disabled people. What kind of a Canada is
the opposition proposing when some provinces can recognize
the particular problems of the disabled and other provinces are
not required to? That is essentially what they are proposing
when they propose the Vancouver formula. it does not surprise
me; at least they have been consistent in their opposition.
Anything that they may feel is undesirable the provinces could
object to.

What about the rights of tradesmen such as clcctricians,
carpenters and construction workers living in a country in
which mobility rights are recognized in some provinces but not
in others? What I am describing, if I was describing it to a
stranger, is not one country, but ten countries, maybe four of
five regions, ten associate states, ten sovereign nations or ten
nation states. That is not the Canada we in this place want;
that is not the Canada that Canadians want.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Mackasey: That is the kind of Canada we would have if
the amending formula permitted certain provinces that did not
like the changes to opt out.

What about women’s rights? Once again we find a variation
from one province to another. What about legal rights, which
is perhaps the most important item in a charter of human
rights? There would be no uniformity. Some provinces would
respect the charter and some would opt out because certain
elements in those provinces might feel that one is guilty until
proven innocent. That is the kind of balkanization this party
does not want to see.

Hon. members opposite might say they do not want a
unitary state. Of course we do not either. The Fathers of
Confederation selected very wisely when they decided to opt
for the federal system. This country is great because it is not
bland, uniform or over-centralized. in 1867 the Fathers of
Confederation would never have agreed to any other form of
government. Somebody in the House must remind hon. mem
bers opposite, the public, the intellectuals and the provincial
premiers that federalism is a two-way street. We should not be
ashamed to suggest that Canadians want a strong federal
government as part of our federal system.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Mackasey: When you listen to some of the premiers
you would think we were a community of communities, or ten
provinces bound together very loosely, almost as a nuisance
factor, perhaps to look after the army, the military and a few
other services. That is not what the Fathers of Confederation
expected, nor is it to be the legacy of Pierre Elliot Trudeau.

I said earlier, Mr. Speaker—and I am conscious of the time,
it will be a long debate—that we have two choices before us. I
can see the same mood coming over this House as the one that
came over the committee. I saw a committee evolve from a
group of individuals, some of whom wanted no part of patria-
tion. They certainly wanted no bill of rights. I will not mention
names, since they are sincere people. They are people of
conviction who believe in the British system, the unwritten
code. I saw the evolution, and in many ways. I understood a
little better the opposition to the extension of certain language
rights which, as an English Quebecer, I always took for
granted. I did not approve of that opposition but I understood,
just as members opposite, and perhaps some members on our
own side understood, that if we were to have a bill of rights it
should be a good one.

I am suggesting that in the next three weeks or a month we
may be able to come to some accommodation in this House.
We may be able to put aside the tendency of the Conservatives
to procrastinate, to delay to another day the passage of a bill
of rights, the concern which reflects the fear of anything that
may be temporarily unpopular with the people. Perhaps it is
the concern for the views of six or seven Conservative
premiers, although this does not include Bill Davis. Whatever
their logic for proposing a formula which would postpone the
passage of the bill of rights, I think they may realize that if we
patriate the Constitution, include the Victoria Charter and a
bill of rights and if we dump that whole package on the table
at the next federal-provincial conference and the premiers
realize they have nothing to fear from that bill of rights, or
from that particular formula which could be amended and
improved or changed to some degree in the next year, they
may very well be taking a type of progressive, bold initiative
which would unlock the future of this country for the new

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Mackasey: In the few minutes I have left, Mr. Speaker,
I would like to say that our challenge is not to simply bring
back the Constitution but to unlock the future, to make certain
that the students of the future coming out of our universities
are not saddled with the same constitutional dilemma, the
same impasse, the same procrastination that has characterized
federal-provincial relations in the last two or three generations
in this country.

As someone has already mentioned, we have a great coun«
try. I think it was the hon. member for Provencher who said so
eloquently today that we have the greatest country in the
world. It could be greater because we are rich in resources.
The richest resources we have are not natural resources or
minerals but human resources. Thanks to medicare we have
the healthiest work force in the world. Thanks to our educa-
tional programs, both federal and provincial, we have the best
educated work force in the world, We have had the freest
people in the world until some of these provincial barriers
crept in, interfering with mobility and the flow of capital.

Out there we have hundreds of thousands of young Canadi-
ans who want to get on with the job of nation-building and
who want to see the constitutional issue behind us, not in front
of us, That is the message which comes through loud and clear
to all members when they return home.

What is the message of the business community? They say,
“For goodness sake, Bryce, get the constitutional problem off
the table and let us get on with other issues. Let us get on with
unemployment problems and with the issue of inflation. Let us
resolve the energy problem.” This is what people are saying.
We have the power in this House in the next few weeks to do
precisely that, to bring back the Constitution with a decent
amending formula and a bill of rights.

If we were to do that we would show French-speaking
Canadians we appreciated their gesture last year when they
opted for Canada when faced with the choice of looking
inward or looking outward, despite their grievances, real or
imagined, that they were wise to opt for Canada. This was the
result of the work of members of this House, particularly the
Minister of Justice and the Prime Minister to whom we should
be thankful.

Think of the contribution the Atlantic provinces could make
if we unlocked the future. They are a proud people, independ-
ent minded, who have exported their human resources to
central Canada for far too long. Think of the contribution the
native peoples can make if we can only recognize their rights
and put the Constitution behind us, bringing them into the
mainstream of thinking, as they were before. Think of the
people of the west. They seem many times to me to be
forgotten, maligned, misunderstood and misrepresented. When
I travelled in the west in 1978, to Vancouver, Edmonton,
Calgary and Winnipeg, speaking on this very subject, not
always in the largest cities, I realized that perhaps the first
generation of unhyphenated Canadians would come from the
west, not from Quebec, the Atlantic provinces or from
Ontario. They are Canadians who can trace their roots back
for one, two and three generations or more, Canadians who
look puzzled at our dilemma. The westerners want to partici-
pate in nation-building, and they want to do it from the west.
They do not want to have to constantly come to Ottawa,
Toronto or Montreal to participate. We need to get rid of the
stereotype image we have of the west, as simply that of the
granary, of the empire.

Mr. Hnatyshyn: What is this stereotype?

Mr. Maekasey: It is of an immeasurably rich people, but its
contribution goes well beyond that, Those of us who spent any
time in British Columbia know of the contribution that prov-
ince makes in the field of architecture. It is way ahead of that
of other countries and other provinces. Universities in the west
are at the forefront of research; cancer research and in the
use of the cobalt bomb. There is research going on with respect
to optic fibres in the west. The west has much to contribute.

When you ask me what the west wants I say they want to
participate as equals, as Canadiafs.

We in this House of Commo s have a unique challenge to
put the constitutional problem behind us. We have the chal-
lenge to bring the Constitution home, including in it a bill of
rights fashioned by Canadians, for Canadians and in Canada,
Then let us marshal the forces out there, Canadians of all
walks of life; the aboriginal people, an independent people; the
warm people of Cape Breton, the Atlantic provinces; the
potential and joie de vfvre of French Canada, now that they
have turned once more to this great nation, and the untapped
potential of the westerners. This is what makes this country;
this is the challenge that the House of Commons has to face. I
am not sure if we are worthy of it. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Hon. J. Robert Howie (York-Sunbury): Mr. Speaker, the
Constitution is a country’s statement of fundamental principles
that determines how it shall be governed. What we refer to
now as our Constitution is a British law enhanced and encum-
bered with formal amendments, court decisions, orders in
council and unwritten convention. The British North America
Act is the heart of our Constitution, enacted by the British
Parliament in 1867 after extensive preparatory work by
Canadians. It distributes powers between the federal and
provincial governments.

Since a good part of our Constitution is already here in the
form of court decisions and unwritten convention, this really
means transferring the power of amendment to the British
North America Act from Britain to the Canadian federal and
provincial governments. At the moment the British North
America Act can only be amended by the British Parliament.
After it is patriated, however, there must be some method of
amending it when necessary, and this poses the problem. All
parties agree there must be an amending formula but they
cannot agree on the formula.

Personally, I feel the Constitution should be patriated
unchanged except for the amending formula, and that amend-
ments should be made in Canada and agreed to by at least
seven provinces representing more than 50 per cent of our

I pose the question: if seven provinces and 50 per cent of our
people do not favour change, should it be made? Is there a
mandate for change?

The constitutional proposals of the government are skilfully
conceived, designed and executed. Constitutional proposals
attract great interest in the Atlantic provinces. Who of us have
not noted from our boyhood days the agitation in these prov-
inces by the sea for fairer treatment at the hands of Ottawa?
We recall the delegations which from time to time have
appeared before the central authorities, and constant represen-
tations of provincial governments and other groups protesting
alleged discrimination against our provinces because of tariff,
trade and transportation policies and practices of Ottawa. At
this very moment I am protesting the: severe cutbacks in
Canadian National Express services, Services which were sup-
posed to be a quid pro quo for the reduction of rail services not
so long ago. I am also protesting the neglected development of
oil shales which have the potential to supply Canada with 15
billion barrels of oil.

On several occasions in this very session of Parliament I
have pointed to the long-term savings that an enlightened
investment in regional development could produce for both the
Atlantic provinces and the central government. That is why
any constitutional amendment which can provide the Atlantic
provinces with the assistance that is now denied us, and which
we feel is due to us in consequence of our participation in
confederation, would merit careful consideration. National
policies of restraint, restricted credit and high interest rates hit
adversely against the Atlantic provinces. We must have a
claim for redress against such policies.

Actuated by that thought I have considered the arrange-
ments and understandings in effect in 1867 when my province,
then prosperous and thriving, entered confederation. I have the
view, which many others have shared, that confederation was
the result of an agreement among the original provinces which
comprised certain definite understandings as to trade and
transportation arrangements which were to be developed to the
advantage of my province, and if the federal authorities could
be prevailed upon to carry out the original plan, the grievances
about which our people have complained would tend to

If the confederation of the colonies of British North Ameri-
ca was not the result of an agreement between the original
provinces which entered into it, then to what was it due?
Surely no one suggests it was thrust upon them by the Imperi-
al Parliament.

Our Constitution is really the crystalization into law by an
imperial statute of an agreement made by the provinces after
full consultation and discussion. Probably one of the most
learned and eloquent dissertations on the Constitution was
made in this House a very long time ago, on February 18,
1925, by the then minister of justice, the Hon. Ernest
Lapointe. He said, and his words are reported in Hansard at
page 297 of that year in column two:

There were many obstacles in the way of achieving confederation. Everybody
who knows something of the history of Canada knows what some at least of
those obstacles were. The country was on the verge of civil strife. During the two
years which preceded the Quebec resolutions, not less than four cabinets
succeeded each other at the head of the affairs of Canada. The provinces got
together; they tried to effect an understanding and they effcclcd one.

In the language of Sir John A. Macdonald, the very pact of confederation bears
on its face all the marks of a compromise.

I draw to your attention, Mr. Speaker, these words of Sir
John A. Macdonald to a pact of confederation which are
quoted by the hon. Mr. Lapointe. These words are contrary to
many of the propositions and positions being advanced and
taken today by the government.

Mr. Lapointe continued at page 297:

The provinces relinquished some of the powers which were theirs and they
retained for themselves other powers. The powers which they relinquished, they
relinquished subject to conditions which were put into confederation, some of
those conditions being more or less important, others essential, and without such
conditions confederation would not have taken place. They tried to combine
federal strength with local freedom of action. Everything that was private,
domestic, home rule. the provinces kept to themselves, and they saw to it that
their powers in that regard should never be interfered with. lt is to be noted that
in the British North America Act, they have the right to amend those provisions
which concern their own constitution, except as regards the office of the

Not so in the case of any of the provisions concerning the federal Parliament;
and there were reasons for that. If confederation was a pact, an agreement, is it
possible for one of the parties to the agreement, or rather for the body which
resulted from the agreement, to amend, to alter the conditions of that pact
without consulting and without securing the consent of the parties to the original

You will again observe, Mr. Speaker, the use of the word
“pact” and “agreement”. Mr. Lapointe made it very clear that
the Constitution cannot be altered without the consultation
and the consent of the parties to the agreement.

Mr. Lapointe continued at page 297 as follows:

As regards the United States as well as Australia, New Zealand and South
Africa, they all agreed at the time of the enactment of the statute creating their
constitution that they would have the right to alter it. They possess that right
because it was made one of the conditions of the statute constituting them a
state. Not so with Canada, because there were special conditions and difficulties
in the way. I ask my hon. friend this question. Confederation was achieved and
the new parliament was opened in 1867.

Does he believe that two years afterwards, in 1869, for instance, this parliament
could have fairly and reasonably amended the British North America Act or
have asked the Imperial parliament to amend it without the consent of the four
original provinces? Could he fairly say that that could have been done two years
after the opening of this parliament? If it could not be done at that time, could it
be done 25 years afterwards, or even 50 years afterwards, witltout the consent of
the contracting parties in the pact of confederation.

I would commend a full rcading of this learned address to
all members of the House. The hon. Mr. Lapointe goes on to
indicate that the other provinces, which joined the first four
and came later into a joint confederation, have the same
status, powers and rights as the original four provinces, and
they should be consulted just as much as any other province if
any substantial changes are asked regarding the British North
America Act.

The learned gentleman concluded his remarks with the
admonition that we cannot ask for power to alter the Constitu-
tion without the consent of the provinces, for it is their
Constitution as well as ours.

In 1906 to 1907 Sir Wilfrid Laurier speaking in this House,
as reported in Hansard, said:

In Parliament here we can do as we please; we are in the majority; but are the
members of this House prepared to say that ifany province finds itself aggrieved
by the terms of confederation, which have been accepted by all the provinces,
they will ask the British parliament to alter the Constitution iii the way desired
by that particular province?

Such a course might be followed by very serious consequences. Confederation is
a compact, made originally by four provinces, but adhered to by all the nine
provinces who have entered it, and I submit to thejudgment of this House and to
the best consideration of its members, that this compact should not be lightly
altered. It should be altered only for adequate cause, and after the provinces
themselves have had an opportunity to pass judgment on same.

In what surely must have been one of the landmark
addresses ever made in this House, the hon. Mr. Lapointe
took support from the remarks made by the Right Hon.
Arthur Meighen, Sir George Etienne Cartier, Hon. George
Brown, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir
Robert Borden. In their words which he quoted, he held that the
British North America Act is a covenant, is of a nature of a
treaty, the provinces of which were essential for the acceptance
of the whole scheme. and he was forced to the conclusion that
we do not have the right to ask to alter it without the consent
of those who are parties to the agreement.

One of the greatest constitutional scholars to whom I have
been exposed was the late Chief Justice of New Brunswick, the
Hon. John B. McNair. In his illustrious career Mr. McNair
served not only as chief justice but also as lieutenant-governor
and indeed he was premier of New Brunswick for 17 years.

An hon. Member: He was a Liberal.

Mr. Howie: Yes, a Liberal.

I would like to share with you Mr. McNair’s thoughts on
the important question of constitutional amendment. I am
quoting from the synoptic of the proceedings of the legislative
assembly of New Brunswick on March 17, 1939, as reported at
page 223:

Democracy had its roots in a very small state that existed in Greece many
centuries ago, where all freemen were entitled to meet in the public forum to
transact the public business. That was the democratic system in its purest form.

In these days of great population, with wide expanses of territory to be governed.
that method of administering public affairs is impracticable. British genius,
however, long since developed a system under which the people send to the
legislative halls persons of their own choosing to represent their interests and do
their business for them.

It is desirable to keep government, the administration of the affairs of the people,
as close to the people as is possible. No doubt it would be easier for those elected
to office to rule from afar off where, protected by an army of bureaucrats, they
would hear little of the individual problems and needs of their constituents. That
is the way totalitarian rulers carry on—from behind a screen. But is not close
contact with the people the very essence of our democratic representative system
of government?

Life might be easier without it for those who are administering public affairs.
But is it well for them to be out of touch with the leaders of thought who are
found all over—in the municipal councils. on the farms, in the factories, in divers
places in every community?

In support of the doctrine of centralization it has been suggested here that
sweeping changes are essential in the distribution of legislative powers between
the Dominion and the provinces. as now found in the Constitution. Might I
suggest this question for hon. members to consider—what authority does the
Dominion Parliament not now possess that is necessary for the solution of the
problems of our day?

I have expressed my view that the Constitution should be
patriated with an amending formula. There is merit in both
the Vancouver consensus and the Victoria charter, and there
are drawbacks to both formulas as far as smaller provinces
such as the maritimes are concerned. My personal preference
is for the Vancouver consensus because each province is treat-
ed equally and given one vote, seven often provinces must vote
in favour of the changes and they must represent more than 50
per cent of our population.

The Victoria charter, on the other hand, takes a regional
approach and has much to commend it from the point of view
of smaller provinces like the maritimes. It does, however, give
both Quebec and Ontario a veto power, but this would be
reflected, by their larger populations, to a great extent in the
Vancouver consensus as well. Where both amending formulas
have much to commend them, I would tilt in favour of the
Vancouver consensus because it appears to have a wider
acceptance among the provincial partners to Confederation.

One thing the lengthy committee discussion has done is to
acquaint more Canadians with the problems which face our
constitutional deliberations. I believe it has created a new
climate where one more attempt at winning agreement with
the provinces on the amending formula is justified and desir-
able. After all, as Sir John A. Macdonald pointed out, the
nation has been built on compromise and our federal and
provincial governments have repeatedly demonstrated the abil-
ity to come up with a great compromise when it is required. In
terms of an amending formula, I believe that compromise is
required now.

Unilateral patriation is a move that would completely
change the constitutional relationships between the federal
government and the provinces as established in 1867.

A cautious and prudential position is well taken. Present
necessary amendments to the British North America Act can
be quickly procured in the usual way; by imperial statute and
pursuant to an address by the federal Parliament with the
concurrence of the provinces. To reduce the BNA Act to the
category of a federal statute would be a retrograde move,
contrary to the spirit of Canadian confederation, replete with
possibilities of constitutional confusion and future trouble.

It is simply astounding that the government proposes a trend
against which statemen of all parties have been protesting
vehemently for decades. Revision of the British North Ameri-
ca Act may seem to be essential in certain respects but in no
respect will the work of amendment lack difficulty, and it is
right, of course, that constitutional changes should not be
regarded lightly or made an easy matter. The provinces,
especially Quebec, will be wary of alterations. They will be
jealous to maintain their rights and tenacious in clinging to the
powers given them by the British North America Act.

There is every reason why we should go slowly with amend-
ments to the British North America Act, especially with
regard to the transfer of the powers to amend the act from
Westminster to Ottawa.

We are told that we are living in a new age under conditions
which the Fathers of Confederation never contemplated; the
old arrangements must be modified; there must be a fresh
alignment of powers.

No one will deny that some adjustments may be necessary,
but the suggestion that social reconstruction is possible only
through federal legislation and control carries little conviction.
In theory that message might create greater uniformity; but in
practice uniformity has not resulted from the exercise by the
federal government of its privileges and its powers. Our forefa-
thers in 1867 rejected the arguments in support of uniformity
when they refused to enter a legislative union. The grounds for
such rejection are just as strong today. Each province has its
own special conditions, its own special problems and its own
special interests.

There is no question but that some adjustments may be
necessary or advisable in the division of legislative powers
made in 1867 and in the financial arrangements now existing
between the federal government and the provinces. But as to
the real move now afoot to give to the Parliament of Canada
the power to enact a substantial constitutional amendment to
the British North America Act and impose a new charter on
the provinces, I view the entire proposal with great misgivings.

It is my fear that such a scheme would entirely destroy our
federal fabric. The division of legislative and executive powers,
which is the pith and substance of the federal system of
government, must depend for its maintenance and stability
upon a paramount law; in our case upon the supremacy of the
British North America Act.

Legislatures hold their present powers because each prov-
ince is an autonomous self-governing province under the BNA
Act, sovereign within the sphere defined for it in the act and
independent of the Canadian Parliament to that extent.

It has been suggested by critics that the course taken by the
provinces is the course of obstruction. Why should they not
oppose? A province has every reason to mistrust a greater
exercise of power by Ottawa. The high hopes held out in 1867
have not been realized; the fine promises then made have not
been honoured. Take for example the trade of Ontario and
Quebec and the regions beyond. It was to flow through New
Brunswick and make of the seaports of the maritime provinces
great emporiums of the world. But it continues to find chan-
nels through a foreign country or over artificial water routes,
maintained at our expense and closed by nature for a great
part of the year.

Our domestic products, which were to find markets in
Ontario and Montreal, are turned back by a manipulative
freight rate structure. Even the inter-colonial railway, the
substantial quid pro quo for New Brunswick’s entry into
confederation, has had its value largely destroyed. Within a
few short months the modern day quid pro quo, the CN
Express, the remnant of the CPR valley line through New
Brunswick, will be closing its doors to the capital city of the
province, isolating it from contact by rail with the rest of the
country. It is the bounden duty of this government to see that
these wrongs are remedied and that the trust imposed in the
central government is observed and fulfilled.

In speaking of Canada, the Hon. Mr. Lapointe said, “It is
the child of the provinces, it is not their father.” The great
caveat which I enter at this time is that a nation’s constitution
is not just another statute, it is the foundation of all the laws,
federal and provincial, which are enacted in the name of the
Crown. The Constitution is not just a set of goals and objec-
tives. It is the bedrock of our rule of law and it permeates
every statute and regulation enacted within Canada. It will
require vast changes and significant adjustments. Why shoutcl
not this package in its new form be submitted to the prov-
inces? What rights are contained in the new proposed Constitu-
tion that arc not now enjoyed by Canadians? Admittedly they
will be in a more permanent form enshrined in a new constitu-
tion, but could they not wait to be put through the amending
process here in Canada after the Constitution is patriated with
an amending formula? That is the route I prefer because it
maintains the checks and balances which are the hallmark of
our federal provincial system; it honours the pact of confedera-
tion and it meets the dictum spelled out by some of the
greatest parliamentarians of our age.

I have no objection to the enshrinement of the equalization
principle or to many of the excellent human and civil rights
which are proposed for the charter to be included in the British
North America Act. My great concern is for the process by
which this is being accomplished and I have spelled out my
objections. I have asked that the proposal be put before the
provinces again and I have given my reasons why that course
of action should be taken.

On the substance of the proposal, I have one final caveat to
file. The proposed constitution’s bill of rights has been steadily
expanded while in committee. The bill was to include a few
guarantees such as the right to an education in either official
language where numbers made this possible. Since then pro«
posed additions to the charter have multiplied like fruit flies.
Various groups have pushed for the inclusion of specific guars
antecs to protect different people who make up our population.
Many of these are justified. The committee majority decided
not to include mention of the deity in a preamble and the
question of property rights was discarded. Is the resultant
constitution—the resultant charter of rights—the best charter
of rights that can be given to Canadians?

I would really like to see a cooling off period, a reference to
the provinces and ti second look at the charter before it is
enacted. After all, if seven of ten provinces representing 50 per
cent of our population will not vote for it, should we really
enact it? That is the challenge I want to leave with the

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Doug Neil (Moose Jaw): Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the
opportunity of taking part in this debate. As you know, in the
previous debate held last fall I was denied that right despite
the fact the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) of our country
indicated to the country and the members of this House on
October 22 that each and every one of us could have the
opportunity of participating in the debate.

Within the last few days there have been rumblings in the
press and the media about the possibility of closure once again
in this debate. I hope that is not true. We are at a critical time
in our history and the resolution is so important that we must
have a full and complete debate which allows the expression of
opinion by all of us in this House. That is what democracy is
all about.

As I rise to take part in this debate, I do so with a certain
degree of sadness in my heart, sadness because this debate is
so unnecessary. It is a debate which has come about because of
the ideological theories of one man, the Prime Minister of
Canada, an individual who, in my opinion, does not understand
or, more likely, does not want to understand, the true nature of
Canadian federalism which singles Canada out as being
unique in the world. He does not understand the importance
that Canadians for more than 100 years have placed upon
consultation, negotiation and co-operation between the part-
ners in confederation.

I can see two Canadas, the Canada of the present day and
the Canada which existed only two or three decades ago. The
Canada of yesterday existed before the decay set in, a cancer-
ous growth which began to grow and spread and now is
attacking the very heart of this great country.

The Canada of yesterday is a Canada which struggled
through the thirties, the depression years, and then suddenly
found itself faced with an even greater struggle, the Second
World War. That war was started by a nation whose ambition
was to conquer the world. The survival of western European
and the North American continent and our democratic way of
life was in jeopardy. Hundreds of thousands of proud Canadi-
ans, both men and women, volunteered to serve their country;
many paid the supreme sacrifice. There are others, of course,
but they were relatively few in number, who because of their
ideological beliefs were not prepared to serve their country.
We came out of that war respected as a nation, a proud nation,
rich in resources, both human and natural.

We elected the Right Hon. Louis St. Laurent, and later on
the Right Hon. J. G. Diefenbaker, as prime ministers of our
country: two gentlemen that, in my opinion, personified
Canada. People across the country from all walks of life and
different ethnic backgrounds, regardless of their political
affiliation, were able to say with pride, “He is my prime
minister. He is the leader of my country.” When they visited
abroad, they displayed dignity, integrity, and statesmanship so
befitting our country.

No Prime Minister since, who has held office for any
lengthy period of time, has had this statesmanlike quality
necessary to instil in Canadians that same feeling of oneness,
of belonging and being part of that great multitude of people
of all races and creeds that make up this great country of ours.
Lacking that leadership, we have drifted over the years, ignor-
ing the direction in which we were headed.

But there was one man who knew, the man at the helm, the
man who is still the Prime Minister of our country, a man who
said this:

I am satisfied, but I suppose one has to he in the wheelhouse to see what shifts
are taking place. I know that we have spun the wheel and I know that the rudder
is beginning to press against the waves at sea—but perhaps the observer who is
on the deck and smoking his pipe, or drinking his tea, sees the horizon much in
the same direction and doesn’t realize it, but perhaps he will find himself
disembarking at a different island than the one he thought he was sailing for.

Having spun the wheel, the Prime Minister has brought us
to the Canada of today: a country divided by language, by
region, and over energy: a country where the vast majority of
Canadians no longer are filled with pride for their flag, their
country or their national anthem.

As a Membenof Parliament for eight and a half years I have
had the privilege of visiting a number of countries in various
parts of the world as a delegate with parliamentary associa-
tions. I am always filled with emotion when, in the opening
ceremonies, the host country raises its flag and its national
anthem is played. As in the Canada of yesterday, the people
snap to attention. They stick their chests out, and with pride
they join in singing their national anthem. During the singing,
my thoughts returned to the Canada of today. I had visions of
some of our official functions such as football games or hockey
games where our national anthem is played. One can observe
people wearing hats, standing with hands in their pockets or
chatting with neighbours. That is the Canada of today, with a
Prime Minister at the helm whose personal ambition is to
change the face of Canada even more.

For 113 years, we have had a constitution, the British North
America Act. It has served us well. It is a constitution that was
made in Canada by Canadians. It is a British statute, however,
and because of this amendments have to be made in

We had the opportunity in 1931 to break those ties, as did
South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, The Irish Free State
and Newfoundland. They seized the opportunity. We did not.
It is not Britain, as suggested by the Prime Minister, which
has prevented patriation, but we ourselves as Canadians,
because Canada could never agree on an amending formula.

So the tie with Britain remained with the unanimous con-
sent of the ten governments. Over the years, various attempts
have been made to find an acceptable formula, without suc-
cess. Basically, I suppose, this is because of the regional nature
of our country and the fear that one region or one province
could take advantage of another region or province.

The fact that amendments have to be made in Westminster
has really caused no problems for Canada. Many amendments
have been made over the years based on requests, after consen-
sus between the provincial and federal governments. There was
never any undue delay. However, there has always been a
desire or consensus on the part of all Canadians to have our
Constitution brought back to Canada. That desire or consen-
sus is stronger today than it has ever been.

I am’ sure that had the first ministers’ conference ‘last fall
been called to reach an agreement on patriation and an
amending formula only, such agreement could have been
arrived at, but the Prime Minister was not prepared to limit
the discussion to these two items. He insisted on including a
so-called “people’s package”, a charter of rights to be
entrenched by the British parliament.

This caused concern amongst the premiers because they felt,
and rightly so, that some of the package could intrude into
provincial rights. in many cases, they doubted the value of the
bill of rights. They felt our British parliamentary system was
such that the protection of the citizens of Canada was better
under that system than under the entrenchment.

I would like to comment for a moment on the charter. I
listened with interest this afternoon to the Minister of Justice
(Mr. Chrétien). He said, “Never again will our rights be
trampled upon.” He was attempting to give the impression
that once entrenched, those entrenched rights are inviolate.

A short time ago, I took the opportunity of asking the
parliamentary library to supply me with a copy of the constitu-
tion of the U.S.S.R. I would like to quote a few brief

Art. 125. in conformity with the interests of the working people, and in order
to strengthen the socialist system, the citizens of the U.S.S.R. are guaranteed by

(a) freedom of speech:

(b) freedom of the press:

(c) freedom of assembly, including the holding of mass meetings;

(d) freedom of street processions and demonstrations.

Article 126 reads in part:

In conformity with the interests of the working people, and in order to develop
the initiative and political activity of the masses of the people, citizens of the
U.S.S.R. are guaranteed the right to unite in mass organizations, trade unions,
co-operative societies, youth organizations, sport and defence organizations,
cultural, technical and scientific societies—

Article 127 reads:

Citizens of the U.S.S.R. are guaranteed inviolability of the person. No person
shall be placed under arrest except by decision of at court of law or with the
sanction of a procurator.

The final article I would like to read is Article 128, and it
says this:

The inviolability of the homes of citizens and privacy of correspondence are
protected by law.

One can conclude that writing basic rights and freedoms
into a constitution is not in itself a guarantee to the individual
citizen that he will enjoy these rights and freedoms. The only
real guarantee is a democratic system of government in which
the right of an individual to exercise his or her franchise freely
is guaranteed and in which every two, three, four or five years
citizens have the option of replacing the government.

The rights and freedoms in the governments charter of
rights, and many more, have been enjoyed by us as Canadians
under the British parliamentary system since we became a
country 113 years ago, and they are not written down. They
are not entrenched. These rights we have enjoyed during our
lifetimes and the lifetimes of our forefathers have their roots in
the Magna Carta, which goes back to the year 1215.

Under the system that exists today in Canada, each of us
now has the right to own property. As the hon. member for
Provencher (Mr. Epp) said this afternoon, many people emi-
grated to Canada attracted by that right to own homes or
farms. Early in the century the railroads of Canada and the
government advertised extensively in Europe encouraging
people to come to Canada and to take up homesteads, land of
their own. Now the government, because of pressures exerted
by the New Democratic Party, has refused to include in the
charter the right to own land. I wonder why. is it because the
NDP sees it as an obstacle to its plans to try to bring in
socialism? Why would the Prime Minister not turn his back on
such representations from the NDP? Would that perhaps spoil
his plans as well?

Mr. Althouse: Maybe it is a provincial right.

Mr. Epp: Let’s get into that one for a moment.

Mr. Neil: I hope when my friend to my left goes back to
Saskatchewan he is able to explain that to his constituents.

As my colleague, the hon. member for Provencher, so
eloquently put it this afternoon, members of the Liberal Party
refused to acknowledge the supremacy of God. They did so by
turning down the amendment of our party based on the
Diefenbaker bill of rights. Why was it turned down? Was it
because the late hon. gentleman from Prince Albert had
drafted it, or has our country reached such a state that the
Prime Minister and members on the government side of the
House refuse to acknowledge that all power comes from God?

On the positive side, I would like to say I agree with the
government’s indication that it will protect mobility rights, and
I will give the reason. A short time ago a constituent visited
me at my office back home and told me he was leaving the
Armed Forces very shortly. He had travelled to another prov-
ince. I will not name the other province, but when he got there
he looked around and decided that was the place where he
would like to retire. He thought perhaps he should find a job
before he tore up his roots in Moose Jaw, so he went to the
local Manpower office. Everyone knows that Manpower offices
are run by the Government of Canada. Do hon. members know
what he was told? As soon as Manpower found out he was not
a resident of that province, he was told that Manpower was
sorry but Manpower could not take his name and register him
for employment. Is that mobility? The government is preach-
ing mobility, but is certainly not practising mobility.

On the eve of the conference of first ministers a leaked
government document left the impression that the government
hoped the conference would fail. As one who watched the
complete proceedings on television, I was impressed with the
premiers’ sincere attempts within a limited time to reach a
consensus. I am satisfied that given more time, with a Prime
Minister who sincerely wished for an agreement, we would not
be involved in this debate today.

TherI’rimc Minister has attempted to stress the urgency of
patriation, but what is the urgency? There is no matter
pending in Canada at the moment which requires immediate
changes in our Constitution. The Prime Minister said this was
a promise to Quebec during the referendum campaign and
that Quebec is expecting it. It is interesting to note that there
is not one political party in the province of Quebec, including
the I.ibera| Party under Mr. Claude Ryan, which supports the
steps being taken by the government on the Constitution. So
what is the urgency? I suggest that the Prime Minister has
spun the wheel too far, the boat is capsizing and he is making
a last vain attempt to make his mark in history. He really does
not care if in doing so he does irreparable damage to our

As I said in my opening remarks, the Prime Minister does
not understand the true nature of federalism or the importance
Canadians for more than 100 years have placed upon consulta-
tion, negotiation and co-operation between the partners in
confederation. Would it not make sense for the Prime Minister
to call a halt to his unilateral action and invite the provincial
first ministers to a conference to deal specifically with an
address to Her Majesty requesting patriation of the Constitu-
tion with an amending formula and leave the other issues to be
dealt with by Canadians in Canada? This would give Canadi-
ans and the provinces an opportunity to take time to consider
the matter of a charter of rights. I know that suggestion will
fall upon the deaf ears of the Prime Minister and Leader of
the New Democratic Party (Mr. Broadbent), the leader who
has been so anxious right from the start to ally himself as
closely as possible with the Prime Minister. The reason, of
course, may be that the philosophies of the two are not that far
apart, and at times both of them may have had their hands on
the rudder.

What is the future of our country if this resolution passes?
Are we headed for a unitary state? This afternoon the hon.
member for Provencher discussed the amending formula and
the referendum clauses in some detail. I watched the look of
amazement on some of the faces of the backbenchers on the
government side of the House and I honestly do not believe
that, until it was explained to them by the hon. member for
Provencher, they fully realized the unfairness of the resolution
and the problems it can create in our country. Quebec and
Ontario will have a permanent veto while the other eight
provinces will have none, and unless a province can join with
another province in its region, they will have no clout at all.

What about my own province of Saskatchewan? What
about Alberta or British Columbia? It means that the other
provinces in Canada could gang up and take control of our
resources, or, under the referendum process, the federal gov-
ernment could do the same thing, on its own.

I am sure further discussions and negotiations with the
provincial ministers would lead to a solution of our problems,
but I gather from the remarks of the Minister of Justice that
such a step will not be taken. Therefore, I appeal to the
backbenchers on the government side of the House, and to the
more reasonable members of the New Democratic Party who
have indicated they will probably be voting against the govern-
ment, to give serious consideration to what they are doing by
supporting the Prime Minister in his unilateral action.

Parliament is in the course of dealing with a matter which
could change the course of Canadian history, and I think
members on the other side and members of the NDP should
consider that on such an important issue they are not answer-
able to the Prime Minister, not answerable to the Leader of
the NDP, but they are answerable to all the people of Canada
and, above all, they are answerable to themselves and to their
conscience. I urge each and every one of the backbenchers on
the government side and the NDP members to think the
situation over. They must live with their conscience as long as
they live. The decision they make with respect to this vote is
vital for our country. Let them examine their conscience well
and, I beg them, vote to defeat this resolution.

Mr. Robert Wenman (Fraser Valley West): Mr. Speaker, it
is my opinion that in the process of this debate, Parliament
stands abused. The Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) of our
country chose to introduce this important resolution at a press
conference rather than in Parliament. That might perhaps
have been excused if television had not been available in the
House but, since the same media was available here, the same
exposure and the same ability to communicate with the people
of this country was available. One can only presume that his
failure to present that motion in the House of Commons was
an example of his arrogance, contempt and an abuse of this

The rights of the people of Fraser Valley West have been
abused in this House of Commons by the closure motion. I
stand here tonight with half of my rights gone. The debate has
gone full circle. It started in the House of Commons, went on
to committee, and now my input comes after the fact. The
input of the people of Fraser Valley West has been denied.

Mrs. Mitchell: Do they like your behaviour?

Mr. Wenman: I am certain that the people of Fraser Valley
West and, I hope, people who stand for parliamentary democ-
racy, as I thought the hon. member did, recognize this kind of
abuse. I would have expected the hon. member stand with me
on closure, not against me.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member’s
remarks should be addressed to the Chair.

Mr. Wenman: I am sorry, Mr. Speaker. The rights of the
people of Fraser Valley West were abused by that closure. My
privilege and responsibility as their Member of Parliament
have been impinged in the same way. The offending closure
motion, as we sit tonight, has not been withdrawn despite
representations to the minister responsible. The President of
the Privy Council (Mr. Pinard), said in this House of Com-
mons that this is an unconscionable rule which should be
re-examined. To my knowledge, it has not been re-examined, it
has not been withdrawn, and another potential motion hangs
like an axe over this Parliament, hangs like an axe over this

I cannot understand why, when the Prime Minister and the
government House leader see the seriousness of this, members
of the House of Commons do not rise against this closure rule
and have it struck from the records. Party after party, prime
minister after prime minister, have stated that it should be
struck from the record. I should like to quote Sir Wilfrid
Laurier when he spoke the first time this motion was to be

Mr. Collenette: By a Tory government.

Mr. Wenman: I do not care whether it is a Tory govern-
ment, a Liberal government, an NDP government or any kind
of a government. This rule is an inequitable rule, and you
know that too. Stand up for democracy in the House and listen
to your former prime minister, listen to the echo of Liberal-

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, please. Remarks should be
directed to the Chair.

Mr. Wenman: Mr. Speaker, I am speaking directly to you,
sir. This is what the Liberal prime minister of Canada said:

Let me repeat to my right honourable friend: As you sow, so shall you reap; as
you are fair, so shall you meet with fairness; as you are unjust, so shall you meet
with injustice . . .

In the words of Shakespeare “this even handed justice commends the ingredi-
ents of our poisoned chalice to our own lips”.

The poison that he offers to us today will come to his own lips at some future
day. We are in the minority; we can be gagged, we can be prevented from
expressing our opinions; they can trample upon our rights. But, sir, the day of
reckoning will come!

Those are the words of a great prime minister, a Liberal
prime minister. Those are Laurier’s words. Laurier’s words are
as true today as the day they were uttered in April of 1913.
They are as true today as we watch our current Prime
Minister’s universe unravel in a poisonous and less than
candid, way.

In the future, history may well show its repetition of the
results of the April 9, 19I3 resolution. With the implementa-
tion of the obnoxious and infamous closure of October 23,
1980, history may well repeat itself. Like that initial debate in
1913, it may in fact mark the pivotal point for the ultimate
defeat of intent and purpose, not only of this resolution but
also of the government itself. Hopefully this closure motion
will not be the pivotal point for the final severance of this
nation as well.

Laurier went on in his speech at that time to say:

But, sir, I also have the honour to belong to the great Liberal Party of Canada. I
have occupied a position of some importance in it: nay, I may say that for 20
years and more I have been entrusted with its chief command. During the l5
years I was in office it sometimes happened that friends came to inc and told me
that l was not doing justice to mysclfor to the party, but that I should impose
closure. as had been done in many other Parliaments. Sir, I am a Liberal of the
old school: I have been brought up in the school of Fox and of the old leaders of
the Liberal minority in Parliament of such a valuable weapon as it would be
deprived of by the introduction of closure. Perhaps I was wrong; perhaps I was
too generous. Nay, l was not: I would rather stand here today, having refused.
after the 15 years of my administration, lo impose closure, and having decided to
abide by the old rules.

Mr. Knowles: I would rather stand here in opposition than
be over there “by the power of the gag”.

Mr. Wenman: I know the hon. member stands for the
principle of democracy and against closure. I thank him for
that comment.

Mr. Knowles: Would the hon. member entertain one ques-
tion now that we have referred to each other? What did
Diefenbaker do during the five or six years he was in office?

Mr. Wenman: I have already covered that aspect. I said that
if it had been the New Democratic Party in Saskatchewan,
Alberta or British Columbia, if it had been the Conservative
Party of 1980, if it had been the Liberal Party of 1981, the
Lihcral Party of 1913 or whatever date it happened to be, it
does not make it right. You, a man of principle, understand
that only too well. Of course I make that comment through
Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Knowles: We both understand it.

Mr. Wenman: If freedom is the absence of coersion, then
closure marks the desecration of freedom. Surely freedom is
the essential philosophic principle of our Parliament and our
democracy. The most obnoxious form of closure is therefore
undemocratic and should be removed from our procedures
before it is further allowed to erode the fundamental values
and traditions of our Parliament.

In our Parliament freedom of speech—the obligation, the
privilege, the platform, the rightwis far more important than
the substance or process of this speech, of any other speech to
be given, of any other bill or of any other resolution which may
be placed here. The irony of the resolution we are debating
today is that it purports to guarantee the process it has already
taken away. The process has tarnished and subverted its own
most basic freedom of speech.

The Prime Minister of Canada who claims to stand for
justice and equity knows that the closure motion is wrong. He
knows he has wronged both his own principles in invoking it,
as well as this Parliament. He stands in a position to correct it,
and I call upon him to do so.

I have had the best of all Canada has to offer. This nation
has been good to me. I have received the best of education, the
best of spiritual values, material plenty and opportunity
unbounded. This country has been good to me. I have also had
the opportunity to put words together in an educated and
parliamentary way. But last week when I talked with a person
in my riding, he said, “You know, one thing you are doing is
starting to sound like them. When you get up and speak on the
Constitution, why do you not just tell it the way we feel it?
Why do you not just get up and say these kinds of things?”

I said in the early part of my speech I would use some of his
words. These were the things he told me to say. I think that
sometimes the majority of the people out there, the great
democracy out there, somehow speaks with a clarity that we,
the mechanics of the Constitution, confederation and
re-confederation, do not have. Sometimes we really cannot see
the forest for the trees.

The people I represent see the issue of the Constitution so
simply. They say to me, “Why do you not just bring the
Constitution home as quickly as possible, with as little change
as possible, and then make whatever changes are desirable and
as many as possible here in Canada?” This sounds simple. It is
simple patriation with a majority amending formula, with no
special status for any partner in confederation, with fairness,
justicc, equality, but above all let us get on with the business of
the House and the country of solving pressing economic and
social problems. They do not understand why the government
cannot hear and see this simple message. The consensus is
clear. It is clear, whether it is among the women of Canada,
the provinces of Canada or the parliaments speaking in
unanimity. The consensus is already obvious. My constituents
cannot understand why we do not just do it, or why we did not
do it when we had the unanimous resolution of the House.
Quite frankly I agree with them. I do not understand why we
did not, or and why we cannot. The consensus is clear.

My constituent also said that there was a sense in the west
that somehow the centre is fiddling around with the Constitu-
tion while thc west burns. There is a sense that the east and
the centre mistake western tolerance for western ignorance.
The west is tired of being tolerant, the west is tired of being
laughed at with blue-eyed Arab jokes. The people are tired of
being put down as red-necked yahoos. Westerners feel that the
west has turned a blind eye to this kind of centralist bigotry,
but that does not mean the west is blind. The west has had
enough of one-way equalization.

A westerner’s salary might be 5 per cent higher than salaries
anywhere else in Canada, but it costs 100 per cent more to buy
a house in western Canada. That 5 per cent more does not
make up for it. It costs more than 5 per cent more to buy a car
in western Canada than it does here in Ottawa or in central
Canada. It costs more to pay for a telephone in the west. The
cost of living in the west is very, very high. The west does not
mind paying under these equalization formulas, but they do
get tired. The people in the west want the centre to wake up
and recognize the facts before they say, and they are seeming
to say it in the telephone calls from my constituents, “Take
your subsidies, take your tariffs and quota barriers, take your
unfair freight rates, take your smug constitutional veto, take
your eastern credit institutions, take your weighted electoral
system home, If you want us to be a continuing part of this
great federation, we want to be a part of it on a fair and equal
basis.” We do not want to play with your loaded dice. We do
not want to play with your stacked deck. We want a new deal
from a straight deck in the west.

Mr. Paproski: We want to get in on the poker game.

Mr. Wenman: You are darned right we do, with a straight
deck. We will play poker but let us not have stacked cards.
The response must be that ifyou want to play the game with a
straight deck then you must say what you really want. We
want the potential of the west recognized. We want you to help
us build upon that potential. We want you to recognize that
the future of and for the cast lies in the building of the west,
not the exploitation of the west. We want you to see that the
west is but a gateway to the great markets in the world of the
Pacific Rim. That is the first step. It is British Columbia,
Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba which hold great poten-
tial, not the far east. The near west of the Pacific Rim holds
even greater potential since we were excluded from the tradi-
tional markets in Europe. Why can you not see that potential
and build with us? That is what we want, and we want it in a
very positive way. We in the west want one strong, united
Canada. I have no doubt about that, even in light of separatist
groups which come to me in anger. When you get right down
to it, when you get past the argument, they still want one
strong, united Canada. Our country holds forth great promise.
We believe Canada is a federation of equal individuals and
equal partners who can build on that promise. We in the west
are proud Canadians. We love Canada. Do not force us out.
Help us build together for our mutual benefit, for it can be

There are so many of these concerns I want to bring to your
attention. I would like to be more specific about them rather
than just talking about them in the rhetorical form. Rhetoric is
fine, but we want to be seen, heard, to be understood and to be
a part of. Westerners see this constitutional package, unfortu-
nately, as yet another attempt to make the citizens of the west
second class.

Tariffs have caused the longest standing grievance on the
part of all. Tariffs were originally instituted in 1879 to protect
and promote Canadian manufacturing which, at that time, was
located almost entirely in central Canada. In view of the
potential competition from the much larger American industry
to the south, such a policy was justified in its place and in its

As the west opened up and settled, tariffs meant only one
thing to westerners. They meant westerners had to pay higher
costs for manufactured goods. Input costs for industry were
also higher in the west than in the east. Tariffs meant that
western industrial development was, in fact, hampered. The
reality of these tariffs was that western Canadians paid higher
prices for goods than other Canadians. Because Ontario and
Quebec had more industry, central Canada enjoyed a dispro-
portionate share of the tariff benefits. Canadians outside
Ontario and Quebec pay for central Canada’s higher wage bill
without gaining proportionate benefits. This is not an opinion,
it is fact.

The figures on the relative level of tariff benefits are reveal-
ing. In 1977 British Columbia had 10.8 per cent of Canada’s
non-agricultural employment. At the same time British
Columbia had only 8.5 per cent of Canada’s manufacturing
employment, a sector with the highest nominal tariff protec-
tion at 8.49 per cent. The discrepancy in respect of the prairies
is even greater. While having 16 per cent of Canada’s non-
agricultural employment this region has only 8.2 per cent of
the country’s manufacturing employment.

On the other hand, Ontario and Quebec between them have
66 per cent of Canada’s non-agricultural employment. How-
ever, they have 78.4 per cent of all manufacturing employ-
ment. It is clear that if high tariffs were to benefit all
provinces equally Ontario and Quebec should only have 66 per
cent of the manufacturing employment. Obviously, that is not
the case.

Moreover, BC. and the prairies have a greater than propor-
tionate share of primary industrial employment which receives
only nominal tariff protection. That tariff protection is only
1.12 percent. Ontario and Quebec have a less than proportion-
ate share of this low tariff sector. In effect, B.C. and the
prairies are paying as much as Ontario and Quebec for tariff
protection yet they are not receiving even proportionately as
much protection as are the two central Canadian provinces.
This means there is an unrecognized transfer of payment from
the west and from the Atlantic provinces to Ontario and
Quebec. This is what I mean when I say “two-way equaliza-
tion”. If you equalize on income tax you must equalize on the
other factors as well. This is just one example.

I have been very specific, Mr. Speaker, in order to show you
some of the obvious injustices. It may be something to which
we have turned a blind eye and said nothing about it. Now
that we are talking about equalization we must weigh all these
factors. These factors were not weighed in the committee
which heard briefs. They were not weighed there, at least from
what I heard. I do not think they will be weighed because the
provinces have not yet had an input, have given that point of
view. Somehow the regions in this great country are not heard,
understood or felt. But we will start talking about these
specific items. We will bring them to you. Will you do
something about it now? Either you respond to what I have
just said or you call me wrong and correct my statistics. Do
something about it one way or the other. Do not ignore us
again. We are tired of being ignored. We want to be heard,
We want to be felt. There is representation in this House from
western Canada. I am standing here representing western
Canada. It does not take a Liberal on the side opposite, a
member of the NDP, or a Conservative to represent the west.
It does not matter who does it. We are elected representatives.
We are here to be heard. We have a message to give to you.
You must hear it. You must listen because this is something
specific. Let us see what you can do about it.

This is just one example of how western Canadians have
been doing more than their share to assist in Canadian eco-
nomic development. I do not think it is healthy for anyone to
suggest they are doing anything else. I do not think the west is
asking too much when it says it deserves an equal say on how
the Constitution will be amended, nor do I believe it is helpful
to threaten western premiers with scorn every time they object
to proposals which could hinder their future social and eco-
nomic development. We have that feeling.

The last time I stood in debate in this House I quoted
Premier Lougheed, I quoted Premier Blakeney, and I quoted
Premier Bennett. I was hooted down for quoting them, and I
wonder why. That is something we in the west do not under-
stand. We will not put up with it any more. To be sure, the
federal government has provided great assistance to the de-
velopment of the west. I want to recognize that, but at the
same time they have acted in too many cases to hinder, to
retard and to throw sand in the gears.

The case of freight rates is a clear example of what I am
saying. Again, I want to be specific so that I give you not just
rhetoric. The substantial benefits from confederation should
not all flow from west to ea or from east to west. Yet
westerners must pay higher prices for consumer goods from
central Canada because of expensive rail charges. I find it
absolutely amazing that I can move the same furniture and
goods from Ottawa to Vancouver on the same van line more
cheaply than I can move them from Vancouver to here. There
is something wrong there.

An hon. Member: It is further from Vancouver to Ottawa.

Mr. Wenman: That is the kind of answer we receive, that it
is further.

I would call it ten o’clock, Mr. Speaker.

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