Canada, House of Commons Debates, “Establishment of Special Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons”, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess (15 October 1980)
By: Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Canada, House of Commons Debates, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, 1980 at 3690-3712.
Other formats: Click here to view the original document (PDF).
COMMONS DEBATES — October 15, 1980
ESTABLISHMENT OF SPECIAL JOINT COMMITTEE OF THE
SENATE AND HOUSE OF COMMONS
The House resumed consideration from Friday, October 10, 1980, of the motion of the Minister of Justice and Minister of State for Social Development (Mr. Chrétien):
That a Special Joint Committee of the Senate and of the House of Commons be appointed to consider and report upon the document entitled “Proposed Resolution for a Joint Address to Her Majesty the Queen respecting the Constitution of Canada” published by the government on October 2, 1980, and to recommend in their report whether or not such an address, with such amendments as the committee considers necessary, should be presented by both Houses of Parliament to Her Majesty the Queen;
That 15 Members of the House of Commons to be designated no later than three sitting days after the adoption of this motion be members on the part of this House of the Special Joint Committee;
That the committee have power to appoint from among its members such subcommittees as may be deemed advisable and necessary and to delegate to such subcommittees all or any of their powers except the power to report directly to the House;
That the committee have power to sit during sittings and adjournments of the House of Commons;
That the committee have power to send for persons, papers and records, and to examine witnesses and to print such papers and evidence from day to day as may be ordered by the committee;
That the committee submit their report not later than December 9, 1980; That the quorum of the committee be 12 members, whenever a vote, resolution or other decision is taken, so long as both Houses are represented and that the joint chairmen be authorized to hold meetings, to receive evidence and authorize the printing thereof, when six members are present so long as both Houses are represented; and
That a message be sent to the Senate requesting that House to unite with this House for the above purpose, and to select, if the Senate deems it to be advisable, members to act on the proposed Special Joint Committee.
Mr. Pat Nowlan (Annapolis Valley-Hants): Madam Speaker, as the record shows I was able to get the Speaker’s eye last Friday and begin my few remarks on a subject that is pretty fundamental and important and which obviously cuts to the very heart and soul of this country. I refer, of course, to the constitution.
Had I faced any problems in continuing my remarks they would have evaporated after the amazing exchange that occurred today between the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Clark) and the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau). In answer to a question from the Leader of the Opposition, the Prime Minister said, in effect, that the government will achieve its objective in going by the back door to England to amend the form of government that this country has known until now. We know that even going by the front door alterations affecting the Senate, could not be achieved in the Parliament of Canada, because of the Supreme Court. It is an amazing situation, Mr. Speaker. We may talk about trickery, sneakery or anything else, but when we are considering what the Prime Minister has called “the future and different form of government for Canada,” we find out-at least, we on this side have, because we grasped the implications of the resolution-that any fundamental change to our constitution is not going to be effected in this Parliament but rather will be done on the banks of the Thames in London.
As I said on Friday, Mr. Speaker, as a Canadian I resent the fact that Canada’s constitution is to be decided in England rather than in this capital of the country.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Nowlan: If there is a colonial, it is the Prime Minister, taking his teacup in hand and going to Buckingham Palace to have Great Britain decide what our rights are, what the equalization formula and the amending formula are under the terms of this 16-page resolution.
With all due respect to our senators, in my opinion, the other place is not the most fundamental part of government. I have always had a bias in this direction, one shared by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles), but if the Parliament of Canada could not change the form of the Senate using the front door, because it was held unconstitutional, why should we as Canadian legislators let the Prime Minister go through the back door in London in an effort to change the form of government which exists in Canada?
Some hon. Members: Shame!
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Nowlan: I know that my time is limited, Mr. Speaker, and that other members want to speak. I hope hon. members on both sides of the House representing this country from coast to coast will speak their thoughts on this resolution together with their thoughts about the future of this government.
In the question period, the Minister of Justice (Mr. Chrétien) repeated the canard about patriation. In a memorable speech when this debate began a week ago last Monday, the Leader of the Opposition said unequivocally that we in Her Majesty’s loyal opposition-and I believe also in the NDPsupport patriation now, and the amending formula-at least the Vancouver proposal. If those two points were accepted, this resolution could be reduced to one page instead of 16.
Make no mistake about it, Mr. Speaker; we support patriation. We do not want to hide behind the robes of the Queen. We want the people of Canada to find out what the future of the country is to be.
I am appalled at the report from the travelling duo, John and Mark, or Mark and John, the two apostles to London, the travelling horsemen. When they came back from London they said the parliament of Great Britain might take three or four days to debate this matter. Surely the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. MacGuigan) knows that in the most important debate in recent times, the one concerning the admission of Great Britain to the European Common Market, parliament took only two days to pass the motion. Under their rules, the majority of debates take only one day. The question is put the day it is called, even though it may arise early in the morning of the following day. To suggest there would be three or four days of debate on a resolution coming from Canada merely accentuates the colonial status that the Prime Minister said he was so interested in doing away with when he spoke on television on Thursday night. There would be no need for that if we had a one-page resolution calling for patriation now and on amending formula on the Victoria or Vancouver proposal.
Speaking for myself, I would not be afraid of taking the whole matter to the people if, after a certain length of time for consultation, the premiers and the federal government did not agree on another proposai. We should at least bring the constitution back, though, and have the fight here in the Canadian House of Commons. But there must be consultation with the premiers of the country.
I have pointed out that under our system the civil law and the common law have ridden tandem for 113 years. For the first time, as a result of this proposai, they meet head on. In civil law you have to point to a piece of paper to establish a right, but under the common law that governs nine provinces, you and I, Mr. Speaker, have every right under the sun, except those which are proscribed by law. I am not saying which is wrong or which is right, Mr. Speaker. I do not know whether Canadians realize that this resolution would change what bas been the common law for nine provinces into a civil code whereby neither this parliament nor the provincial legislatures but the courts, would interpret and legislate that which affects us all. That is a fundamental problem that should not be discussed further at this time, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. members opposite say we have to redeem a promise made to Quebec because of the vote there last May. Well, I am all for redeeming promises and honouring pledges, but it is very difficult to define what the pledge was. The Premier of Quebec, the leader of the opposition in Quebec, the New Democratic Party in Quebec and many columnists have said that this resolution does not redeem any pledge and that it may, in fact, even exacerbate the situation. Leaving that aside, Mr. Speaker, how can the Prime Minister redeem a pledge to one part of the country while ignoring the larger responsibility to the country as a whole?
The Prime Minister can play with words. We know he is very adept at dialectical debate and evading questions within the circumscription of the question period. He did not answer the question put to him. Section 42, which provides for an amending procedure by referendum, is not a deadlock-breaking procedure or mechanism. The majority of premiers, representing over 50 per cent of the people of this country, along with members of this loyal opposition, have said, as did our leader that same Thursday night on television, that section 42 is not a deadlock-breaking mechanism. It bas the potential to be a hammer-lock on the fundamental structure of this land, the federal system. That is why we cannot support the resolution as it is presently drafted.
In trying to come to some kind of rationale and in trying to move with the momentum that has been built up, albeit well organized over the summer, with the travelling ministers and the ads that we have heard about and talked about, as well as listening to the speakers, including the Prime Minister as he spoke here again today of “Fifty-three years of failure”, I suggest there may have been failure and undoubtedly there have been problems in 53 years of federal-provincial conferences. But this country called Canada has not failed for 53 years in spite of a constitutional problem. This country has grown and developed. I hate to admit it but obviously it has developed more so because of the majority government under the Liberal rule. I have to give credit where credit is due, because the Liberals have been in power, unfortunately, for too long. Is the Prime Minister trying to suggest that the 53 years of constitutional problems and failure have made a failure of this country, which has the broadest and best social programs in the world? Canada is a country from coast to coast which so far we have been proud. I say to hon. members that conferences have created problems, as undoubtedly they will again in the future. But 53 years of problems in federal-provincial conferences do not detract from what we have done in those 53 years in spite of those problems.
I ask hon. members to listen to a thought I had when trying to rationalize the present haste to do something. I shall not go back to the 1930s or to read from “The Third Reich” or read statements made by businessmen after the depression and the problems with the mark. Inflation escalated then because the economic problems became so intense and the businessmen, together with the Junkers, were saying “Let us get someone who will do something”. Someone came and did something. He did many things. But when there is too much haste one cannot repent in leisure if one is talking about the constitution. The quiet revolution which we all accept has really beer the catalyst initially for this momenturn of change. The quiet revolution in Quebec started in the 1950s. If it has taken from the 1950s to now-
An hon. Member: The 1960s.
Mr. Nowlan: Say the 1960s, that is even better. But surely if the quiet revolution in Quebec quite justifiably pinpointed problems in this federation that needed to be redressed, why is this government so hasty? In another part of the country, the west, there were other festering sores. But in the 1950s or the 1960s, which is 12 years or 22 years depending on whether you want to date it from Jean Lesage of maître chez nous or later, there has been a decade or more of festering sores in Quebec which have finally prompted some action for constitu-
tional review. I ask why are we not using the same standard for another fundamental part of the country, the west, so that it too can have a chance to get some redress for their grievances through consultation and conference rather than confrontation?
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Nowlan: You do not just go from the snare and the delusion of unanimity, and the fact that unanimity is next to impossible, to unilateral action. There is no need to go from one extreme to another. By the position of this party takes in favour of patriation on the basis of the Vancouver proposal, we are prepared to admit that unanimity is not the way in practice, even though it is the ideal. There should be no more canards or pretence from the other side that unanimity is a necessity and that because you do not have unanimity you have therefore to proceed with unilateral action.
Is it just because the present Prime Minister wears a halo putting him in communication with some extraterrestrial beings that he has the almighty, divine power to do unilaterally what a fellow called Mackenzie King did not do; what a fellow called St. Laurent did not do; what a fellow called Mr. Pearson did not do, or what that greatest tyrant of all, John Diefenbaker, did not do? Just imagine if Mr. Diefenbaker were sitting there today moving unilaterally against the aspirations of the emerging quiet revolution from Quebec. You would have seen all the columnists in those one-paper townsnot one-horse towns-writing very objective columns such as, “Mr. Diefenbaker, you are a tyrant; you are a despot, you are dictatorial.” The Prime Minister talks about the tyranny of unanimity. I suggest you cannot answer the tyranny of unanimity with dictatorial unilateral action which fundamentally runs across every constitutional convention that we have respected in this country for 113 years. There is not a member in this House who believes this country would ever have come together if John A. Macdonald had said: “Boys, come here because I am going to act unilaterally.” When you breach the convention of consensus, you are breaching the fundamental fabric of this land.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Nowlan: I have tried to understand how we could be in this position today, debating unilateral action as the answer to the falsehood of unanimity? We want patriation and we know that unanimity is not going to give it. We do not care. We want the Vancouver proposal at least.
In trying to figure this out, I suggest there is a flaw in our federalism today. Even Premier Blakeney, who I heard last night on television, suggested there is a flaw in our federalism. I commend this to those who do not get west of the Lakehead too often because we all want Canada to stay together in some form. But having been in the west and having practised law there for eight years, and having been west this summer, let me say the feeling I have grasped out there has scared me. This feeling is transmitted through moderates and transplants from the east who said this summer, “We do not care. Go your way.” They did not say it emotionally as they said it two years ago. They did not talk about French on cornflakes boxes. It is way beyond that. The flaw in this federalism has at least three parts. One is the federal-provincial procedure in evidence at the last two conferences, anyway. I suggest that historically, to counter the powerful federal presence, there has always been a strong counterbalance of one, if not both, of the two senior governments in this country. To counter the federal government, one needed at least Quebec, Ontario, or both, to present another point of view.
I am not going to go too far on this aspect, Mr. Speaker, but we know that today the government of Quebec, for its own reasons, is not really interested in being a counterbalance to the federal point of view. Unfortunately this was apparent in the last federal-provincial conference, and even in the one before. It was manifested on television screens. It was clear. It was apparent yesterday that the great province of Ontario, for its reasons, has not been a counterbalance to the strong federal presence. This has distorted part of the history of federal-provincial conferences. When you compound that imbalance with the second ingredient, which is in this chamber, never has there been more of an imbalance in the representation of different areas of the country. When you get an imbalance in federal-provincial conferences without the two senior governments historically being a counterbalance to the federal presence and then get a distorted House of Commons, the situation becomes even more difficult. As we all know, Conservatives were shut out of Quebec and thereby do not get the voice as directly as they should. On the other side of the coin, west of the Lakehead, there are those two lonely outposts with a mere two members on the government side, also unable to give a clear voice from the west.
The government does not have western representation in its caucus. I say this with all respect to the senators who try to be surrogates but who cannot be because they do not have to face the people at election time. Most of them are converts anyway, and therefore suspect-the Olsons and those other fellows.
Speaking of Senator Olson, the Minister of State for Economic Development, according to the Vancouver Sun for October i1, he said in Edmonton that he does not favour Prime Minister Trudeau’s constitutional amending formula. He said, “My personal preference is the Alberta proposai.” That is another whole thing which the Prime Minister will have to tackle. Perhaps at some time a prime minister might have said, “It is time to move unilaterally”. Perhaps in Mr. Diefenbaker’s day in 1958 when there were 208 members, 50 from Quebec on the government side, a prime minister not respectful of provincial jurisdiction might have said he had the troops with representation from all sides and could therefore move unilaterally. However, if there was ever a time when unilateral action should not take place, it is when this House of Commons is as distorted as it is now in representation.
This is compounded by what I said earlier, the phenomenon we see in this country of “one-paper towns.” In a one-paper
town you get one type of editorial policy. In a one-paper town the message does not get out. Here we have the other side of the coin, using television for manipulation through advertising. We all know that the television medium is the message. It is very good for propaganda, but it does not get the message out. When you get these ingredients, this flaw in federalism, you start to get false notions about what this country is all about.
The Prime Minister said over television that Thursday night, we should not have a checkerboard across this country. The hon. member for Provencher (Mr. Epp) commented that in terms of our history and social fabric, “checkerboard” is not a pejorative word. The reality is this: when you get outside of Ottawa, west of the Lakehead or into the deep east of Atlantic Canada, it is not a checkerboard but a mosaic of people from different countries who have made this country the way it is.
There is no way in which the Prime Minister can homogenize the Canadian personality from coast to coast to produce some superhuman or Canadianized individual. We are from very different regions. Different groups of new Canadians have formed the vitality of those regions. You do not get homogeny.
The whole insular thinking of Ottawa was shown by the Prime Minister on that Thursday night when he said we do not want a checkerboard and that is why these rights must apply to everybody.
Let us look at question of rights. There is a double standard here. I will not go too far down the road, because the subject does not involve me as much as many sincere members across the way who are from Quebec. However, there is a real paradox when you talk about rights. Some members across the way have made very impassioned speeches about freedom when it comes to rights, yet no freedom of choice for education. This leads to a double standard. I just throw the observation out.
In terms of the amending formula, my leader said there was a double standard. I say there is a triple standard. There is unilateral action today if you are the Prime Minister, unanimity if you are among the premiers for the next two years and a referendum for the people who are not part of those first two groups. There is a triple standard, so let us not talk too much about standards.
I know my time is moving very quickly. However, there are many things I would like to say in terms of the bill of rights. While the language of a bill of rights is something I can accept, I have real apprehension about the dangers of entrenchment. There is a snare and delusion along with entrenchment.
I have here the constitutions of the U.S.S.R., Cuba, Chile, the German Democratic Republic and East Germany. If I had the time to read the sections I have outlined, you would hear beautiful prose about the rights of people, equality, no eavesdropping, judicial systems that are perfect and so on. The most beautiful bills of rights are in these constitutions. However, there is the strange paradox that you more often see an entrenched bill of rights in the constitutions of totalitarian governments than in other parts of the world.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
An hon. Member: Just like Idi Amin.
Mr. Dionne (Northumberland-Miramichi): As in the U.S.
Mr. Nowlan: The hon. member refers to the United States. Did that bill of rights help the Japanese Americans any more than Japanese Canadians who did not have any? Not at all. Take our bill of rights, so called. Fifty-one years ago this month, women in this country finally received a constitutional status. When Nellie Murphy was appointed to the Senate, a woman was finally acknowledged to be a person and could therefore be appointed. Until that time there were no women in the Senate. They were not persons.
The Supreme Court of Canada refused to acknowledge that women were people and could be appointed to the Senate. It was the Privy Council of England which made the final decision. Now that right of appeal has been taken away. She was not a person and they made her a person.
Imagine if that situation had arisen with an entrenched bill of rights in 1929. The last real constitutional change was in 1927. We would be in the snare that is troubling the United States right now with their ERA amendment, trying to amend a constitution to make women people. Thank goodness we were able to make that appeal to England. But even without such recourse we could have done it by our own statute.
My time is very limited, so I will conclude even though there are many other things I would like to say. In terms of the bill of rights, what bothers me most is that another level of government is being established which will interpret the rights. I do not have time to review the rights. Capital punishment will be affected as will the rights of unions. Will there be boys and girls mixed basketball teams, because there is no discrimination between the sexes? Will retirement still be compulsory in many cases at certain ages? Will the Senate go on in perpetuity? There are many questions which arise.
What is important is that you cannot revise the constitution unless you reform this House of Commons. It would take a long time to convince me to go for entrenchment because under our system at the moment, we do not have the other ingredient that comes with entrenchment, a legislative sanction or review of judges. Do we want to go the American way and elect our judges? Will judges at least come before some committee of this House for questioning? Unless we start to hammer this out, we will see a real mutation take place.
The Secretary of State is not here, but other ministers heard him say at the federal-provincial conference that those who are against rights must be in favour of the pressure lobby. Do you want to litigate rights or do you want to exercise pressure and talk to your member of Parliament? The minister said at the federal-provincial conference that the option when talking about rights is to litigate or to lobby. My answer to that is, if you litigate you have to pay a lawyer. When you lobby, the legislature has a chance to vote on the problem you want changed.
How many members opposite appreciate that the Habeas Corpus Act of 1670, the Bill of Rights Act of 1689-
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Blaker): Order!
Mr. Nowlan: In conclusion, you do not build for the future by breaking faith with the past and by unilateral action. Yet that is what is being done.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Hon. Allan J. MacEachen (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance): Madam Speaker, it is an honour for me to take part in this debate and particularly to have the opportunity to follow the hon. member for Annapolis Valley- Hants (Mr. Nowlan). Maybe later in my comments I will touch upon a number of the points which he made in his spirited intervention.
I have attempted to follow the debate from the beginning. It is an interesting debate. For the most part, it has been a serious attempt by members of the House of Commons to deal with a fundamentally important matter. I hope the conclusion or the outcome of this debate will permit us to begin in a concrete way the process of constitutional renewal which we promised the people of Quebec in the course of the referendum and which, in my view, is in accordance with the deep wishes of the Canadian people.
Before discussing the motion put forward by the Minister of Justice and Minister of State for Social Development (Mr. Chrétien) I would like to express to him my appreciation for the difficult work he did in the course of the summer. I know he is disappointed that it did not have the same result as the previous campaign in which he participated, but I am confident that the constitutional discussions held this summer will eventually bear fruit.
I want to disagree with the cast and approach of the hon. member for Annapolis Valley-Hants. I disagree with him that Parliament in the present circumstances should not be asked to act on this very important resolution. In fact, I believe Parliament has a duty to act and it has a duty to act now in order to bring home the constitution, in order to entrench in the constitution fundamental rights and freedoms of Canadians, in order to entrench in the constitution the principle of equalization, sharing, and aiso to set in motion a procedure whereby a definitive amending formula can be developed, and that, too, entrenched in the new patriated constitution.
Even the hon. member for Annapolis Valley-Hants agreed that it is necessary to patriate the Constitution of Canada. It is simply not normal for constitutional acts of this country to be the laws of a foreign parliament. That abnormal situation is obviously humiliating for Canada and it is embarrassing for the United Kingdom. We are all convinced that this final remnant of colonialism should disappear from the Canadian political scene. All political parties in the House of Commons and all provincial governments agree with this aspect of the resolution.
There is obviously no disagreement on the principle at stake; there may be disagreement on the procedure. In fact, there has been an interesting shift in the debate, not only in the House of Commons but among the provincial premiers, away from substance to process. That to me is a very important development.
It is necessary also to settle on an amending formula. Every state must have some way of changing its fundamental law, and it is obvious that this requirement is even more important in a federal state where the constituent parts, the provinces and the federal government, must be involved in the constitutional changes which affect all of us.
Canadians want constitutional change; they want constitutional renewal and they cannot have that without an amending formula. That is why in my view it is necessary for Parliament to act as well on an amending formula.
It is necessary also to entrench fundamental rights and freedoms.
An hon. Member: Why?
Mr. MacEachen: One hon. member asks why. It is my view that the Canadian people, perhaps for deep reasons of their own, maybe deeper than we all can understand, want to have their fundamental rights and freedoms protected and guaranteed by the constitution. I firmly believe that this is the wish of the Canadian people, and I believe it is the duty of Parliament to respond to that wish of the Canadian people.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. MacEachen: The resolution moved by the Minister of Justice provides for a Canadian charter of rights and freedoms binding upon Parliament, all provincial legislatures and all governments. Of course, the Minister of Justice in his introductory speech outlined in some detail the substance of that charter of rights and freedoms. He said:
Some have told us that provincial legislatures are better able than courts to protect the rights and freedoms of Canadians. If rights and freedoms were to be dependent upon individual governments, there would be no such thing as rights and freedoms common to all Canadians. I believe that Canadians wherever they live in Canada should have common rights and freedoms.
That statement was made by the Minister of Justice, and I agree with the effort contained in the resolution to provide rights and freedoms that are commonly applicable to all Canadians in every part of this country.
I know there is a case to be made for parliamentary sovereignty-there is no doubt about that. I have often made the case, but I have not been as schizophrenic as members of the opposition have been on this question of parliamentary sovereignty and the rights of Parliament.
Today Parliament has been given an opportunity to deal with this great challenge and opportunity facing the future of Canada. The Parliament of Canada; the members of Parliament representing all the people of Canada, have been asked to deal with this question, yet members somehow shrink away from that opportunity and that challenge. I cannot understand
this. I cannot understand why we ought to fall into the trap suggested by persons like Premier Lévesque, that somehow the elected representatives of the people of Canada are “Ottawa guys”. He repeated that last night. I do not happen to be an “Ottawa guy”. I happen to be a representative of the people of an important part of Canada in the province of Nova Scotia, and I regard every other member of Parliament, not as an “Ottawa guy”, but as a person who has been given a mandate by his electors to come to the Parliament of Canada and to deliberate in the Parliament of Canada, and it happens, by accident and not by the intrinsic nature of our mandate, that the location of these deliberations is Ottawa. Let us have no more talk about “Ottawa guys”. Why shrink from the opportunity to deal with this important matter in the Parliament of Canada?
I believe, if I may say so, Mr. Speaker, that it is also necessary to entrench in the constitution the principle of equalization. The idea of sharing is one of the most significant features of Canada and of Canadian federalism. I hope we will do everything in our power to nourish the concept of sharing, the concept of equalization which is now proposed in this resolution. Successive governments have given support to this principle and it has led to an array of federal policies and programs which now form part of our national consensus.
For example, if I may use just one or two statistics to show the significance of this concept, at present, fiscal equalization, which has been a separate and distinct program since 1957-58, will require during the current year total disbursements in excess of $3.3 billion, and payments to the provinces from the federal treasury in 1980-81 will amount to $12.5 billion.
Because I think it is important, I will mention also that a theme very frequently emphasized by members of Parliament and many others during the Quebec referendum was the theme of sharing. It is also worth noting that it was the concept which received the widest consensus among the provincial governments.
I want to assure the hon. member for Yorkton-Melville (Mr. Nystrom), who expressed some concern about the wording on equalization in the resolution, that the wording conforms with a proposal, as I understand it, which was made by the province of British Columbia and which could very well have had the support of some other provinces, contrary to his impression that we have brought forward a formulation of equalization which was rejected by nine provinces of Canada.
We are firmly committed to the principle of equalization. We do not need this in order to make direct payments to individuals, as the hon. member for Yorkton-Melville implied. We do not need it, indeed, to continue the program of equalization. But we do believe it is important to enshrine this concept in a constitution of Canada so that sharing will be an important ingredient or element in the future of our national life.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. MacEachen: In my opinion it is necessary for Parliament to act, for the reasons I have mentioned, to make these forward steps in the way of entrenchment of human rights, in the way of seeking an amending formula and in the way of embedding the concept of equalization in the constitution. It is necessary for Parliament to act if these things are going to be done, but I believe I can carry the argument further and say that it is urgent for Parliament to act because Parliament is the only institution in the country which is capable of and responsible for maintaining and upholding Canadian sovereignty.
All of us would agree, for example, that Parliament must act to protect the territorial sovereignty of Canada from military threat. All of us would agree that the Parliament of Canada should act to protect the economic sovereignty of Canada from encroachment by foreign powers. I suggest that this function of the Parliament of Canada is not a symbolic function. It is not just a mirage that I am seeing when I talk about the important role of the Parliament of Canada. Witness the efforts of the Parliament of Canada at the United Nations Law of the Sea Conference to secure for Canada better protection for our fisheries and sovereign rights over the natural resources of the continental shelf. A single legislature or combination of legislatures or a single provincial government or a combination of them could not achieve what was achieved by Canada in extending the jurisdiction over the living resources of the sea 200 miles offshore. That was accomplished by the Parliament of Canada and the Government of Canada acting in a way which could not be emulated by any other institution in this country.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. MacEachen: I ask, why should the Parliament of Canada not be asked now to act to secure Canada’s constitutional sovereignty? Parliament is the only institution in the country which represents all Canadians and also the only one which can request constitutional action from Westminster. Hon. members opposite who believe in the rights of Parliament ought to be rather pleased that they have been called upon by the government at this time in our history to reinforce the place of Parliament in our national life.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. McDermid: Thank you, your holiness. That is very nice of you.
Mr. MacEachen: The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Clark) bas said that a constitution cannot be imposed arbitrarily on this nation by one individual or government. No one could disagree with that. The constitution cannot be imposed by the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) or by the ministry. Action on the constitution can be taken only by the Parliament of Canada, Canadians themselves acting through their elected representatives in Parliament. I find it very strange that at this stage in our history when Parliament, which is the only institution in the country which can act this way, is being, in a
sense, put off course by comments and debating points by members of the opposition.
Indeed, the Leader of the Opposition went so far as to say that to do what we are now proposing to do would weaken the federal system. I find that to be a curious and impossible argument. I think it would be Parliament’s failure to act which would more undermine our federal system at this point in time.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. MacEachen: I believe that if the Parliament of Canada, our most important national institution and the only institution capable of acting for all the people of Canada, failed to act, our system of government would lose some of its credibility in the minds of the Canadian people, many of whom are watching what is going on and asking when we are going to make some progress.
I agree with the comments which have been made by the constitutional committee of the Canadian Bar Association, which stated that the entrenchment of a bill of rights and freedoms would strengthen our sense of Canadian unity. The committee said that a clear statement in the constitution of the fundamental values of Canada, the fundamental values which Canadians share, should have an important unifying effect.
The Premier of Ontario returned to the same theme at the first ministers’ conference recently, and I think it is worth repeating what the Premier of Ontario said at that time when commenting upon the effect of entrenching a charter of rights. He said, and I quote:
It is in this way, we believe, our democracy will be rooted in the consciousness of every Canadian and, we think, strengthened as a result.
I agree with that, because if there is, in the consciousness of every Canadian, the unshakable conviction that his rights and freedoms are beyond tampering, are protected and beyond touch, then that certainty increases the appreciation of the citizen and the loyalty of that citizen to the country.
I believe we have now in the Parliament of Canada a unique opportunity to establish in the constitution the values we all share, namely, the rights and freedoms that should be and have been an intrinsic part of our way of life. I go on to say that instead of weakening the federal system, what we are doing, in the way of mobility rights, for example, will strengthen the economic union which in my view is also an indispensable part of our existence. I would add that the entrenching of language minority rights, instead of weakening the federal system, will strengthen it by giving Canadians the right to send their children to school in their own official language where there are sufficient numbers of the minority language to justify a school. I do not think that our federal system is strong if our language minorities are not protected in our constitution. How can anyone argue that such a step is going to weaken Canadian federalism? It deals with a problem that has long been unattended and I will return to that in a moment as well.
Do not tell me, Mr. Speaker, that this proposal will weaken our federal system. The proposed resolution will reinforce federalism as well by strengthening the constitutional position of the provinces. We have heard many unhappy, sorrowful statements, as if the provinces were threatened by this resolution. They are not threatened. The contrary is the case. Their constitutional position is strengthened. For example, until we change the constitution, the joint resolution of the House of Commons and the Senate is the only requirement for constitution change. Under the resolution, provinces will be necessary participants in the procedure for constitutional amendment, and under the constitution act of 1980, provinces would have the right to initiate amendments. No final amending formula would be adopted without the provinces being consulted, and this will become a legal obligation and will no longer be based on the validity of whatever conventions may exist.
The unanimity rule for amending the constitution which will prevail for two years will also give the provinces a rather strong position. I admit readily, willingly, and without a trace of apology that the resolution provides for national referendums. I would make just two observations on that much overbruised concept-bruised by the opposition. First, the proposed procedure would not be in force for two years after enactment, so that there would be ample time during this period to reach unanimous agreement, if possible, on an alternate amending formula. Second, our proposal simply reflects the government’s view that, in the end, sovereignty rests with the people of Canada.
Some hon. Members: Oh, oh!
Mr. MacEachen: I am ready to take my stand anywhere in this country in saying to the people that if governments, federal or provincial, fail after a serious and determined effort, I would be prepared to give the resolution of that deadlock or failure to the people of Canada.
An hon. Member: It does not say that.
Mr. MacEachen: That is a very strong Liberal position to be taken at this present time.
An hon. Member: Phony!
Mr. MacEachen: I believe also that the resolution will bring major benefits to the people of Canada. Last August I was invited to address the final event in the three hundred and seventy-fifth anniversary celebrations of the settling of the Acadians in Nova Scotia. Three hundred and seventy-five years ago the Acadians came to my province and to other parts of the maritimes. There we were in a thriving Acadian community, Cheticamp, in the northern part of Inverness County, celebrating what I thought was a marvellous anniversary because here was a culture still living, a language still spoken, and all the attributes of life, vigour and confidence. They had survived just barely-I could say more about that-over the years and they have had to survive in all those years within a basically standardized Anglophone educational system. That is what happened.
I do not want to rehearse history, but I am delighted that this particular resolution will provide to the Acadians in my constituency in the counties of Inverness, Richmond and Antigonish, the opportunity, if the parents so wish, for children to be educated in the French language. They will have legal recourse if this venture, this enterprise, succeeds, a right which has never existed in the past. I find it very difficuit as a representative of those Acadians not to be deeply touched at the opportunity I shall have when this motion comes to the vote to stand in this House on their behalf and, I hope, by this act of Parliament vindicate their patience and their confident expectation that ultimately justice would be done.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. MacEachen: Mr. Speaker, I want to say a word about another matter which, while of great interest to Canada as a whole, is of particular interest to the Atlantic provinces, namely, the resource question. The NDP has indicated its support for the motion depending on what we do on resources.
An hon. Member: Not all of them.
Mr. MacEachen: I say to my old friend and my young friend, the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles), that the NDP have never stopped trading-the party is still trading, and here they are again. That is all right, someone else is dealing with that particular aspect of the discussions, but I want to say a word about the question of offshore resources. During the constitutional talks this summer and during this parliamentary debate it has often been suggested that offshore resources should be treated like onshore resources. What this contention simply ignores is that offshore resources are different. Through international negotiations Canada acquired for all Canadians, not only for the residents of the coastal provinces, sovereign rights over the continental shelf for the purpose of exploring it and exploiting its natural resources. I emphasize the fact that Canada’s boundaries, Canada’s territory, has not been extended, although there are certain persons and groups who believe Canada’s boundaries and territory have been extended and that therefore it gives us an opportunity to extend the boundaries of the provinces. There can be no question of extending the boundaries of the provinces since the boundaries of the country as a whole have not been extended. But we have sovereign rights over the continental shelf for the purpose of exploring it and exploiting its natural resources.
It is interesting to observe that at the same time several provinces are arguing that they should have complete control over offshore resources, the international community has accepted the principle of sharing the wealth of the high seas among all countries, not only among coastal states. While all the premiers in Canada would apparently reject the notion that our offshore is part of the heritage of all Canadians the concept of the common heritage of mankind has been accepted internationally, as far as the international seabed is concerned.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. MacEachen: What an irony! It is a fact, and it is ironic as well. But I will not pursue that line except to say that given the economic situation in Atlantic Canada and the importance of offshore mineral resource development for the residents of that region and despite our legal position, the federal government nonetheless made what I consider to have been a very reasonable offer to the coastal provinces at the first ministers’ conference. During the constitutional discussions the federal government proposed that until they become affluent coastal provinces receive the same kinds of revenues from offshore resources as are derived by provinces with onshore resources. After that point the revenues would be shared with all Canadians.
The Prime Minister did say during the first ministers’ conference-and I think it is worth repeating-the following on this point: the federal government believes that when a province grows wealthy enough to stand on its own feet it should then begin to share its wealth with the rest of the country. That is the vision of Canada we are offering to Canadians, one in which we all grow strong by helping each other. And that is another proposition I would be prepared to stand on in any part of Canada, including my own province of Nova Scotia.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. MacEachen: I do not wish to say anything further, except I would not like the occasion created by the failure to agree at the constitutional conference to be used to foster alienation in the province of Nova Scotia on the question of the offshore because there is no basis for building the feeling of alienation which seems to be embarked upon at the present time in my province. The fact of the matter is, I have before me some statements from the Premier of Nova Scotia and, later, from a member of the delegation, saying that the province of Nova Scotia recognizes that the federal government has an important role in the offshore, that intensive negotiations have taken place between the Government of Canada and Nova Scotia, that there is a wide area of agreement and that the province and the Government of Canada were close to an agreement and that, indeed, the expectation was expressed that an agreement would be reached. I want to say, Mr. Speaker, through you to the House of Commons and elsewhere, speaking about the situation in Nova Scotia, that the reasonable offer made by the Government of Canada at the first ministers’ conference was such that it almost resulted in an agreement with the province of Nova Scotia and I have no doubt that if all the other elements had fallen into place there would have been a clear, firm agreement between my province and the Government of Canada. We ought to build on that situation into the future, in Nova Scotia rather than embark upon a fruitless and unproductive effort to create alienation and build up resentment against the Government of Canada where there is no basis for such resentment to exist.
I see I am drawing close to the end of the time allotted to me for my remarks. Before concluding I would like to thank
members of the House for giving me close attention and for listening to what I have said in this debate. I hope other members will have an opportunity either now or in committee, or later on when the report comes from the committee, to express their opinion on this all-important subject. What we are doing is asking the Parliament of Canada to act on this resolution because it is the only institution in Canada that is capable of acting. We are asking the Parliament of Canada to act because it was not possible to reach an agreement with the provinces at the first ministers’ conference. Yesterday, at the conference of provincial premiers in Toronto, it was evident that even the ten premiers could not agree among themselves. Is disagreement and inaction to be the permanent formula in the constitutional field? We say no. We say we have tried. Disagreement is continuing and it is now time to move. May I say in conclusion, maybe as a footnote to irony, that I could hardly believe my ears and eyes this morning when I heard and read that the premiers of the provinces were going to the courts, that they were taking what ought to be a political debate and political battle for the minds and support of the Canadian people to the courts for settlement. That from a group who argued for a whole day during the first ministers’ conference that it was inappropriate to entrust the fundamental rights and freedoms of Canadians to the courts.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Hon. David Crombie (Rosedale): Mr. Speaker, I too would like to make the point that I welcome the opportunity to be able to speak on this matter. As one who was able to spend some time throughout the summer and, indeed, over the last month or two on the matter of the constitution, I do not mind saying that it has been a most difficult subject with which to deal from our side of the fence. There are some good reasons for this situation.
First of all, most of my constituents are concerned about jobs, inflation, budgets, pensions and medicare. Those are the things which bother them on a daily basis and which will bother them in the near future. They realize this and they want to know why we are not dealing with these matters. Second, much of what they understood of the constitutional debate came to them through discussions either by the federal government or through debates between the federal government and the provincial premiers. Much of what would engage their attention in those discussions did not seem to bring them directly into considerations as to what issues are at stake.
The third reason for the situation is that the people were faced with what I can only call the $6 million man, the Minister of State for Multiculturalism (Mr. Fleming), who was able to take the constitutional matters before this country and reduce them into the most simplistic terms possible, the kinds of terms which would sell pancakes, cornflakes or any other commodity.
I have found it much easier in the past few weeks to deal with the constitution because the people in the riding of Rosedale, and I would venture to say in the city of Toronto and metropolitan Toronto, with whom I have been in touch, are finally beginning to understand that there is more to the proposal than meets the eye. It is not merely the desire on the part of everyone to bring home the constitution. Every Canadian would like that to happen. But that is not what we are doing; that is only what they were told we are doing.
Once one gets that clear, and into the constitution itself, they realize an old truth, which is that constitutions are indeed very important to them. Changes to constitutions change the relationship between people, between governments and between people and governments. Unless those changes are rooted in principles upon which we agree, then we will not have either social or economic stability in this country. Until we have social and economic stability through the constitution we will not be able to deal adequately with problems related to inflation, jobs, pensions, medicare and all those things which affect people directly.
During discussions with my constituents and other people in Toronto, we have an interesting time because we try to remember much of the history which we were taught so that we can understand the proposals that are before us and what might be good for the country in the future. Constitutional proposals can get very complicated, but the principles behind those proposals and, indeed, behind the Constitution of Canada, are not complicated. There are five fundamental principles which animate and organize the Canadian constitution. I would like to deal with those five principles because I want to measure the proposals from the government against them.
The first principle is that of national union. I emphasize this because very often we forget that the first purpose in 1867 was to organize a national union. Indeed, the wording in the British North America Act is never “confederation” but “union”. There is no doubt that when the British North America Act was organized from 1864 to 1867, the fathers knew, or felt at any rate, that they were creating a new nationality. Let me offer a few short quotes to show what people in those days felt they were doing when it came to national union. D’Arcy McGee said:
I hope to see the day … when there will be no other term to our patriotism, but the common name of Canadian, without the prefix of either French or British.
The great object and the great question was whether there could not be any means devised by which the great national fragments comprised in each of the British American provinces could be brought together and made into a great nation.
A new nationality meant something that had not existed before, something obviously different from the old status of a British colony. Colonel Gray of Prince Edward Island said that it needs no prophet to foretell that the day would come when we would take our place among the nations of the world.
The library in our Parliament abounds with quotations to explain that we were not only dealing with the regions and the provinces. Indeed, as someone from the other side of the House said, “We are more than the sum of our parts”. This country is more than the sum of its parts and the first principle was national unity.
I emphasize that it was a national union organized by Canadians. One of the things which bothered me about the advertising of my old friend, the Minister of State for Multiculturalism, was the assumption that somehow the confederation and constitution under which we have lived all these years was made by somebody other than Canadians. It not only offends me because it is wrong, but because it is not helpful. Most people do not understand their own history and if that history is distorted, then it hurts the chance of people understanding what the changes will mean to them.
In fact, there were only two changes to the constitution suggested by the British Parliament at the time. One dealt with the Senate and the other dealt with the name of Canada. The Fathers of Confederation wanted to call it the kingdom of Canada and the British felt that this would upset the Americans so they settled on “dominion”.
The second principle is, in a sense, almost the reverse of the first because it dealt with an entirely different reality of Canada. Not only were we building a new nationality, but we were also making sure that the old allegiances were maintained and nurtured. That is why in section 92 of the British North America Act all the exclusive powers of the provinces are listed. The second principle is security of provincial powers. It is important that we recognize why the Fathers of Confederation went to that trouble. The regions and provinces in Canada have their own particular role to play. It is the sense of identity which is brought to the people living in those regions. I remember reading an essay some years ago by Northrop Frye who was looking at the mandate for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation at the time. The CBC is charged with the responsibility of maintaining programs in order to further the unity and identity of Canada. Frye pointed out that for the most part unity and identity in Canada are different things, that unity, obviously, means central but identity is most often local.
Indeed, when it comes to the arts, culture, writing music, writing poetry or expression, there is something “vegetable” about it as Frye said. It needs a local environment in which to grow. That does not only apply to Canada. There are no “American writers”; there are writers from New England, writers from the south, writers from Manhattan and southern California. If one goes to Britian, the writers are either from South Wales or from some other section. Imagination about the kind of culture in which we live is rooted in the locality. Attention to the difference between these two principles is fundamental.
The third principle deals with parliamentary government. The preamble says we intend to organize in Canada a constitution similar in principle to that of the United Kingdom. People in those days knew what they meant when they said “united kingdom”. If one looks at a book called “The Constitutions of Nations”-which, by the way, I picked up at the Cabbagetown library, one does not find Canada in there.
Under the heading “Constitutions of Nations”, in the reference to the United Kingdom we find: Magna Carta, 1215; The Petition of Right, 1627; Bill of Rights, 1688; The Act of Settlement, 1700; Acts of Union, 1707; Parliament Act, 1911; Supreme Court of Judicature Act, 1925; and Statute of Westminster, 1931.
A number of others are also mentioned. When people at that time talked about the third principle, that being the parliamentary system or parliamentary government, they knew they were talking about self-government, free institutions and the Crown. That is what it meant to them.
Most important of all, what it meant to them concerned the common law. The best definition of what it meant to them that I know of is given by Dicey. He said that with the British, and indeed, with the British parliamentary system, the law of the constitution, the rules which in foreign countries naturally become part of the constitutional code, are not the source, but are the consequence of rights of individuals as defined and enforced by the courts.
What Dicey was saying-and it is very imporant-is that in the common law the constitution is not the source of rights; the constitution, in fact, is a consequence of those rights already existing. That means they cannot be taken away. We do not have to be beholden to a federal government to give us rights.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Crombie: The source of those rights is more than 1,000 years old; the source of those rights is something that can be recorded in a constitution. It galls me, Mr. Speaker, to hear people say that somehow a government is giving rights to the people. Governments do not do that; rights belong to people and they can either be protected or not protected. That is the significant difference.
The fourth principle bas to do with the protection of rights. A moment ago I spoke of the way the common law was dealt with and the role it played in the parliamentary system. There has been a lot of discussion about whether it is better to have entrenched rights or common law rights. Personally I favour common law rights. Someone once said the choice is between judges and politicians, but someone wiser asked: which judge, which politician? There are some politicians that I would trust and others that I would not. I think it is important to recognize that in Canada we did not settle solely for the British system of common law, nor did we adopt only the civil code in the tradition of what was then the province of Quebec. In the old Canadian way, we used both.
The fourth principle, the principle of the protection of rights is done in two ways in this country, Mr. Speaker. First of all, it is done through the common law. The rights of Canadians in the common law are also entrenched, if you like, in the constitution-in the British North America Act itself.
I am not a lawyer, Mr. Speaker, but I would refer you to the Supreme Court Reports 1938 where a case involving the courts in Alberta is reported. In a statement, Chief Justice Duff gives
credence to the argument that so long as the word “parliament” is used in the constitution, there you have the bill of rights-the bill of rights that is 1,000 years old.
The argument that somehow there is a split between entrenchment and common law is an artificial one. First of all, we find in the British North America Act the ancient rights arising throughout the centuries of common law. Second, when we wanted to deal with rights which were peculiar to the Canadian experience, we spelled them out in specific sections. We entrenched those as well.
Let me give some examples. Section 133 writes into the constitution language rights with respect to the French and English. Section 92(12) and section 93 deal with religious rights. Section 92(13) deals with property and civil rights. The civil code in Quebec is protected through exclusion by section 94. Democratic rights are also found in the British North America Act as is representation by population which is guaranteed by section 51. An independent judiciary is guaranteed by section 99. An annual session of parliament is guaranteed by section 20.
I cite those elements because it bothers me that somehow we have tried to divide ourselves on the question of whether we support the common law or support the courts, and entrenchment of rights into the constitution. The tradition of this country is that we do both and both are clearly important to us. The reason is that the principle of the protection of rights is always rooted in two important considerations: the first is equity and the second is security.
In the British North America Act we find the ancient language of the Quebec Act of 1774. At that time people talked about property and civil rights. That act is now 206 years of age but it guarantees freedom of religion, legal rights and property and civil rights. The same language was used in 1867 as was used in 1774. I emphasize those historical facts, Mr. Speaker, because they are a cut above the argument that what we are doing is making the constitution ours and making it work with some silly slogan.
The fifth and final principle is the principle of consent and consensus. Those who read the literature regarding the confederation debates and the whole process of confederation are struck by the fact that it was a process of people trying to organize something together in terms of the relationships between governments. They started off with more than 130 resolutions, reduced that number to 106 and then to 72. Finally, it was put into law. In the whole process, from Quebec to Charlottetown to London, they tried to find out not what divided them, but what they could agree on. That is very important because they were not only agreeing on the resolutions that went into the British North America Act; they were creating a unique political style and a unique political tradition, that is, the Canadian tradition.
We are the only country in the whole of North and South America, that did not experience a violent break with its past. We are the only country in North and South America in which there was no revolution to create a constitution under which we could live together. The tools of the Canadian constitution were not guns, not lines drawn on a map, not division; the tools were toleration, civility and compromise. That gave us consensus, Mr. Speaker.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Crombie: The fundamental operating principle of this country is exactly that.
There have been many changes since 1867 but those five principles are bedrock. They are: first, the principle of national union; second, the principle of security of provincial powers; third, the principle of the parliamentary system; fourth, the principle of the protection of rights, and fifth, the principle of consent and consensus.
No constitutional change should pass this House that does not accord with those principles.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Crombie: I challenge anyone in this House, or indeed anyone who is interested in constitutional change, to say that those principles are not the principles that govern this country. They are the principles that govern this country. Let us measure them against the resolution from the government. First, let us get the question of patriation out of the road. There is no one in this country-other people have said itwho does not want to have the constitution brought back home. If hon. members would take a look at the book called “Constitutions of Nations,” I borrowed from the Cabbagetown library, they will see that Canada does not appear in it. All kinds of other countries are mentioned. Here is Cyprus, for instance. But nothing on Canada. There is not a Canadian alive who does not want the constitution back home. The government in its resolution bas capitalized on that feeling. What it has done is to give the impression that all it is about is bringing the constitution back home. But that is not what the government is about. Mr. Speaker, the people of Rosedale riding, and, increasingly, the people of Toronto are beginning to catch on to the game. They know there are far more serious things happening than simply bringing the constitution back home.
First, this resolution offends the second principle of the protection of the security of provincial powers. If one looks at the amending formula-and by the way, there are a number of options to choose from; there is one which provides an opportunity for every province to agree. If the government really wants to patriate the constitution, it can, and it knows it. But one would almost swear the proposal that has been used was designed to create division and discord. I tell hon. members to look at it. First, as I say, it offends the principle of the security of provincial powers because it is imposed. That is not the spirit of 1867. It is not agreed to by anybody, except one. It is imposed. That is the first reason we do not like the amending formula.
Second, it creates two classes of provinces in this country. Not one any more, but two. Most of all it affects the west. For
years the west has assumed that central Canada had treated them as second-class citizens and as second-class provinces. The formula here, the 25 per cent rule so called, means that no matter how much the west grows, no matter how much the province of British Columbia grows-I use British Columbia as an example-and how much Ontario or Quebec does not grow, British Columbia or the west will still not be able to stand four square with the two central Canadian provinces. That is the fact of the matter.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Crombie: There is no other way one can describe it. I can tell you that in Toronto there is not one person I know who says you ought to have an amending formula which says there are two kinds of provinces. There is one kind of province.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Crombie: To add insult to injury, to then argue that if you cannot get your way you are going to go behind governments to create a referendum means an even bigger problem. What we are saying to the west by this resolution is that not only will it be imposed, not only will the west be second class no matter how much it grows in population, but third, that if they do not like what we do we will conduct a referendum on our terms with our money-probably the Minister of State for Multiculturalism will be funding the advertising.
With respect to the principle governing security of the powers of the provinces we have the equalization formula. It is astounding to hear the Minister of Finance (Mr. MacEachen) talk as though he invented it. In fact, the equalization principle in this country was something on which we all agreed. Certainly the province I come from had an opportunity to give for years. I might add there are a lot of other provinces, I will come to them in a moment, which would like an opportunity to give rather than to receive. The hon. member for Yorkton-Melville (Mr. Nystrom) touched on the matter of equalization. A principle which was meant to bring provinces together is now being used by the government in this resolution as a club to divide them. That is the irony in all of this. I know when it comes to the Premier of Saskatchewan with whom I gather the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) is having discussions, that the Premier of Saskatchewan will not be bought off by any concession affecting natural resources only however great a concern they are to Saskatchewan and, indeed, every other province. The Premier of Saskatchewan and all other premiers from the west know they cannot accept a bargain and trade natural resources for second-class citizenship.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Crombie: The second principle this offends is the principie of the protection of rights. I am sorry the Minister of State for Multiculturalism is not here because I had an opportunity last week to read in the Toronto Star and other newspapers his reasons for supporting entrenched rights. He said in this House:
The end of such democracies as Chile and Greece began, as in Hitler’s Germany, with violations of human rights no worse than we have known here in Canada.
That is terrific, Mr. Speaker. I want all hon. members to think about that; Hitler’s Germany is no worse than we have known here in Canada. This is an argument for having entrenched rights, by the way. I happened to look up the constitution of Chile and the constitution of Greece. They both have entrenched rights, and so did Nazi Germany.
An hon. Member: And so does Russia.
Mr. Crombie: That is bad enough, but I thought “that is part of the politics of it all.” Then the minister made a speech in Toronto. He said this:
We need an entrenched bill of rights because we have had attacks on East Asians in Toronto, and in one western province alone we have had recently four crosses burned on the lawns of West Indians and Asians who have come to Canada. We need it so all Canadians in this country will know that we all weigh the same on the moral scale.
The evening this was reported I watched on television the reactions of a number of people following the slaying of six citizens in the city of Buffalo. I listened to Jesse Jackson talking about the problems of black people there. Not once did he mention that entrenched rights would help them. He talked about a great number of other things that would help them. If the Minister of State for Multiculturalism is really interested in racism in Toronto, he might want to find out what Jesse Jackson had to say. To use racism as an argument for entrenched rights is sick. It is sick, Mr. Speaker.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Crombie: Those of us who have dealt with the problem for a long time, like the hon. member for Spadina (Mr. Stollery)-I know how he must feel-
Mr. Stollery: I rise on a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Would the hon. member permit a question?
Mr. Crombie: I would be happy to answer at the end of my remarks.
In dealing with the principle of the protection of rights, one has also to look at language rights. It seems to me language rights are part of the whole dialogue between French Canada and English Canada and what the referendum in Quebec was all about. So I wonder whether or not we still have a long way to go in paying the debt for the confederation bargain. It seems to me that some of the ancient inequities have not been dealt with. I am impressed by the fact that not only does Premier Lévesque have no interest in saving federalismindeed he has an interest in making sure it does not work-but Claude Ryan, the leader of the Liberal party in the province of Quebec, who fought very hard to make sure that federalism worked, is also opposed. That is another worry.
With regard to native peoples, if you read sections 24, 15 and 6 together and you happen to be an Indian in this country,
you are bound to feel great concern. What of the future of land claims under sections 24, 15 and 6? Are there any rights left for non-status Indians and Métis? How does the mobility clause apply if you move off the reservation?
Before the United Nations today there is a case charging Canada with a human rights violation revising from the Indian Act. If one reads it, one can argue that the Indian Act is not amendable in relation to those sections. Therefore, Indian women in this country will be condemned forever to be secondclass citizens. That is why native people are opposed to it. It is no secret.
New Canadians are supposedly a concern for the Minister of State for Multiculturalism. We are now going to have two classes of immigrants. That’s for sure. Nobody denies this, not even the government. By the way, new Canadians, ethnic and cultural groups in this country, are not fooled. Maybe they were for a little while. However, they came from countries where talk about rights is high and delivery of rights is low. They do not need to be told it is good for them. They know better.
The third and final principle which this resolution offends is perhaps the most serious of all, the principle of consent and consensus. This country works, not because of its constitution or its laws, but because it is stable. There is a stability about this country which we have enjoyed for years. Each generation has enjoyed that old-fashioned concept of stability. Maybe it is not too sexy and does not fit into the advertising very well, but stability is what most people are looking for so that they can get on with their own lives. We jeopardize that stability at our own risk.
When a resolution comes before the House which offends the ancient principle of the protection of provincial powers, the protection of rights and the principle of consent and consensus, there is no course open to Her Majesty’s loyal opposition but to oppose it.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Crombie: Patriate the constitution. We hope the government will patriate the constitution according to the Vancouver formula. Everyone agrees with that. Bring it home, we will pass it in one day. When it comes to rights and how we are ultimately going to amend the formula, that is for Canadians to decide. Canadians decided on the last constitution. I do not know why the government wants to let the Brits do it 100 years later.
I will read one last citation. In 1964, a recognized expert of the time wrote this. I will read it fairly slowly because it is important.
Federalism is by its very essence a compromise and a pact. it is a compromise in the sense that when national consensus on al things is not desirable or cannot readily obtain, the area of consensus is reduced in order that consensus on some things be reached. It is a pact or quasi-treaty, in the sense that the terms of that compromise cannot be changed unilaterally. This is not to say that the terms are fixed forever; but only that in changing them, every effort must be made not to destroy the consensus on which the federated nation rests.
The author was then a professor in Montreal, Pierre Elliott Trudeau. I prefer the Pierre Elliott Trudeau of 1964 because between the Pierre Elliott Trudeau of 1964 who could write and understand those words and the Pierre Elliott Trudeau of 1980 lies a long journey of the corruption of power. That is why we oppose.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Stollery: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member who just spoke said that he would accept a question from me. It refers to the point he was making about racial problems in Buffalo. Does the hon. member agree that it was in fact the United States supreme court’s interpretation of the United States constitution which allowed black school children, backed by the United States attorney general and the national guard, to desegregate schools in Arkansas and Alabama in spite of opposition by elected state politicians?
Mr. Crombie: Quite so, Mr. Speaker, I am not quite sure what the hon. member would like to prove by the point. It is historically correct. I might add that those schools were constructed during the time the bill of rights was still in force.
Hon. Yvon Pinard (President of the Privy Council): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part this evening in the debate on the motion to defer that very important resolution to a joint committee of the House of Commons and the Senate. I am all the more at ease to support the constitutional endeavour of the government since on July 5, 1977, as recorded in Hansard on page 7350, I delivered a speech in the House during a debate on national unity well before the referendum and I clearly suggested then that we should act unilaterally to patriate the constitution and I quote:
We will have to accompany the unilateral patriation with a temporary amending formula providing for unanimous consent to change sections of the constitution which cannot be changed now in Canada without the unanimous consent of the provinces, while waiting to find more flexible and comprehensive means to amend our constitution;
And further on, I added:
This federal declaration of principles-
-which I thought should be attached to our unilateral procedure of patriation-
-accompanying the unilateral patriation of our constitution, would thus clarify the intention of Parliament and the Canadian Senate concerning the rights of French-speaking people, minorities, individual freedom and regional disparities in Canada.
This clear and official declaration, accompanying the great symbolic affirmation of our constitution patriation, would influence and induce those attitude changes I have already mentioned and which are so desirable, even necessary for Canada’s survival.
Mr. Speaker, in light of the fact that we have been through two federal elections and one referendum in the province of Quebec and that more than two and a half years have passed
since then, you will understand why I claim today that it is even more urgent and more necessary that we proceed the way we do. I have not changed my mind. On the contrary, I believe it is urgent, very urgent for the protection of our national unity that we proceed as soon as possible, and that we take our responsibilities as the Government of Canada and I hope that following this debate in Parliament, that is in the House of Commons and in the Senate, Canadians can at last take their constitution home and put in it what they want and need.
Mr. Speaker, I wish to make my remarks today in as simple a tone as possible. I am aware of the fact that our institution has evolved as far as procedure is concerned and I hope it will keep doing so; its most recent leap forward was the recognition of the right to broadcast our debates.
And I am aware that when we rise in this place it is sometimes difficult to convince some of our friends on the other side and it is indeed very difficult and very impersonal to try and rally people who have already made up their minds and do not want to change. However, we must also be aware, indeed it is our role and duty that when we speak in this House we address all Canadians. Since the live broadcasting of debates, Parliament is now closer to Canadians and I want to take this opportunity to try to answer once again as simply as I can two questions that people ask themselves, at least those people I have met here in Ottawa since the beginning of this debate, in my riding of Drummondville, in Montreal and elsewhere where I had the opportunity to go recently.
Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that the average Canadian who goes about his daily chores, who goes to work, who watches the world series on his TV and is concerned by economic rather than constitutional matters, it is understandable indeed that the large majority of Canadians are not experts in constitutional matters; even, as a lawyer, as a member of this House, as a minister, I do not claim to be an expert on constitutional law. However, there are facts which are ever so present to us, facts we know so intimately as parliamentarians and which it is our duty to recall and explain to the whole population. It has happened and it still happens too often, unfortunately, that in major debates a short part, a section or a chapter is taken out of a whole and interpreted subjectively, even though in good faith, and often misinterpreted. There is the danger in taking out a part from a whole context. Often the debate dwells only on some parts of a legislation of a project or a whole measure put before Parliament. It is at that point that it gets boring for the public and that it gets incomprehensible for the average citizen because all too often we are inclined to take for granted that people know all about what is untold and that we can go and deal directly with a given point and comment on it. So here is what I am going to do. I will simply answer the two following questions. The first I was asked was what exactly is the Canadian government trying to do? And, second, why are we trying to do it now? Those are two very straightforward and very simple questions which the immense majority of Canadians is wondering about.
To respond to the first question dealing essentially with the very nature of our constitutional process, both in substance and form, what does the federal government mean to do? My reply is this: It means essentially to do four things. First, patriate the constitution. Canada is the only independent country in the world which must seek permission from the parliament of another country, namely, the British Parliament in London, England, to amend its own constitution, which is an aberration, an anomaly, which has already lasted too long, and it is time to take the necessary steps, out of sheer pride and dignity, to bring home the constitution, which must lead all of us is long overdue.
The purpose of patriation is therefore to bring home our constitution, so that we may discuss and amend it in Canada without having to deal with the government of a foreign country. That is the first thing to do. So, everyone here agrees. Everyone says it is great, it is perfect-one cannot be against good, or God-patriation is an excellent thing, everyone is in favour of it. Yet, how strange, when everyone agrees with it, that everyone should find all sorts of excuses often procedural rather than fundamental, to obstruct that most important initiative.
The second of the four points is that of enshrining the charter of rights, but I shall come back to that later. The third point is that of including in the constitution a clause enshrining the principle of equalization and the fight against regional disparities. Finally, the fourth point is that of finding, sometime in the future, a mechanism to enable us to amend the constitution without, in every case and to the end of time, having to obtain that infamous unanimity which, as we have seen, is impossible to achieve in as diversified a country as ours.
So, patriation, I have already said so, is an act of dignity. It takes self-respect to say, Listen, after 113 years and especially after 53 years of sterile attempts, which have led to nothing but dead ends and confrontations which often do more damage than good to the unity of the country and our mutual respect, it is high time we acted and got our constitution. This is a great North American country, in 1980, and we are quite capable of amending our constitution on our own, without requiring another country’s permission to do so.
The second point is that of enshrining a charter of rights. Mr. Speaker, seven categories of rights and freedoms are to be included in our constitution. And I dare any constitutional expert, any lawyer who specializes in common law. Nuances were being made a while ago to justify the obstruction to our constitutional initiative; it was said that distinctions must be made; that Canada has lawyers who deal only in common laws; that there are lawyers in Canada who deal only in civil law and that, contrary to civil law, common law does not necessarily have its code with articles. Those legalistic
nuances, those legal fine points, have no place here in the discussion of the constitution of a country.
Mr. Speaker, we want to include in the constitution a charter of rights to guarantee and protect the fundamental freedoms and rights of Canadians. What are those rights? There are seven categories of rights. The first category comprises the fundamental freedoms, and I want to enumerate them because, as I said a moment ago, what ordinary people think about that, what they read in the papers is the word constitution, the word patriation, and also the word unilateral and the term charter of rights, but we will tell them what those rights are. The first category of fundamental freedoms we want to see enshrined in the Constitution of Canada are quite simply the freedom of conscience and religion, the freedom of thought, the freedom of opinion, the freedom of the press, the freedom of information, the freedom of association and the freedom to hold pacific meetings. What is wrong with the fundamental freedoms of Canadian citizens being protected forever by the Canadian Constitution?
People are asking themselves the question and they are told that this is what we want to do. We want it to be protected so that legislatures will not be able to tamper with it depending on the government of the day. It must be entrenched in a definite manner into a constitution which cannot be amended without the consent of a majority of provinces, as I will explain later, and that of the federal government.
The second category of rights we want to have entrenched in the constitution deals with the democratic rights that we are all aware of but that are seldom mentioned although they are fundamental. I am talking of the sacred right of citizens to vote in Canada and to be elected. Anybody in Canada who meets the normal few criteria set in a democratic society has the right to be a candidate, to become the elected member of his riding and to be its representative in the Parliament of Canada. It is one of the great advantages of our system and there is absolutely nothing wrong, indeed it is desirable that this kind of right be well entrenched in the Canadian constitution.
These democratic rights also include the duration of a Parliament. People will now have the assurance, written in the Canadian constitution, that elections will be held at least every five years and that Parliament will have to sit at least once a year. The other category of rights to be included in the constitution concerns the freedom to move to and settle in any area. It is quite essential that every Canadian, in whatever province, have the right and the freedom to enter and leave any province when he wishes and that every Canadian from whatever area and whatever province be entitled to earn his living in any province without being penalized and without being the victim of any discrimination. This is another category of rights which we want to see entrenched in the constitution and which protect Canadian citizens without penalizing the provincial governments.
The legal guarantees, the right to life, the right to freedom and to security, the right to protection against abusive searches, against unjustified detention and imprisonment, the presumption of being non-guilty, the right to have the assistance of a lawyer and to be tried within a reasonable time are all basic rights which should be entrenched in the constitution we want to patriate.
The other category of rights mentioned in the resolution concerns non-discrimination. We want everyone to be equal before the law, to have equal protection regardless of sex, colour, age or religion. This is a fundamental and current concern. As recently as last evening on the news, we heard about an obvious case of sexual discrimination. This case concerned a husband who was deprived of his right to deduct a pension that he paid to his children for income tax purposes even though this right is recognized in the case of the wife. Because he was a man, he could not benefit from this tax privilege. This is why our Human Rights Commissioner, Mr. Gordon Fairweather, has said that he himself is in favour of entrenching these rights and freedoms within the Canadian Constitution. I am happy to see that Mr. Fairweather has expressed his opinion publicly on this matter because he has a lot of credibility in this field in his capacity of chairman of the Human Rights Commission. Last evening, on the news, he stated his position very clearly and publicly when referring to the case I have mentioned. I think it is essential that the fundamental rights and freedoms of all Canadians be entrenched in the constitution. Indeed the Commissioner of Official Languages, Mr. Max Yalden, also said the same thing.
Mr. Speaker, another category of the most fundamental rights which will be entrenched in the constitution concerns the official languages of Canada, and for the first time in the history of this country, I am surprised and disappointed that so few Quebeckers recognize this fact, Mr. Speaker. For the first time in our history, instead of having a simple bill or a simple federal legislation, the status of the French and English languages will be defined in the Constitution of Canada as being both official languages equally recognized everywhere in Canada. This is fundamental. People seem to forget too often that Canadians have the right to communicate with their federal institutions in their own language when their numbers warrant. That is essential. It is now guaranteed under legislation, but it will be much more secure, no one will be able to change it, it will be compulsory and all Canadian legislatures will have to comply for the greatest advantage of all Canadian citizens. Both the French and English languages will have a status of strict equality everywhere in Canada and that must be emphasized because it will be part of our project, of our constitutional initiative.
The other one, the seventh category of rights that we want to enshrine in our constitution is very important, and would ensure the right to education in the language of the minority. Mr. Speaker, I participated in the campaign with my colleagues and some members on the other side of this House, were saying to the people in the last referendum in Quebec: If you vote no to sovereignty-association, we are going to renew federalism and particularly we guarantee that we shall do our utmost to protect minorities outside Quebec. I am one of those who, in Quebec, criticized Mr. Lévesque and his supporters for choosing a selfish option, an option which completely ignored one million Francophones outside Quebec and the kinds of territorial withdrawal be proposed and still supports, even if his project is delayed for four or five years for electoral purposes, seemed unfair to me and I found really inhuman to abandon and ignore, when you are the premier of a province, almost one million French-speaking Canadians who deserve more from a government that pretends to protect the French language in the province of Quebec.
Yet, today, in this constitutional process, Mr. Speaker, we are protecting Francophone minorities outside Quebec as we are also protecting Anglophone minorities in Quebec for educational purposes. Canadian citizens will be entitled to send their children to the school of their choice everywhere in Canada and this is essential. And the basic purpose of section 23 of our project which is before the House is strictly to protect minorities who already have Canadian citizenship. This is essential.
Mr. Speaker, when we summarize what I just mentioned in the second stage of our process, that is to say the inclusion of a charter of rights while patriating our constitution, we realize that those seven categories of rights are essentially basic rights, and freedoms. Of course, the titles of the document say so, but it is important to repeat it because it bas not been mentioned very often in this debate. We hear more about procedural matters. We hear more about referendum, committee, delay in committee, respect or non-respect for Parliament, legal action, but the ordinary citizen deserves and has a right to know that our proposai involves directly his freedom, his dignity and his basic rights.
And that is why I did go to the trouble and took the time to insist on them, to detail them and to extract them from the proposed resolution we are discussing here today. The third essential element in our constitutional procedure is the insertion of a section to entrench the equalization principle, and God knows that as a member I am supporting the fight against regional disparities. I come myself from a region which had a low rate of economic growth before the creation of the Department of Regional Economic Expansion, and I am proud to say that since 1969, about 4,000 new jobs have been created in my region alone, in my federal constituency of Drummond, thanks to the application of a principle in which this government deeply believes and wants to enshrine in the Canadian Constitution, the principle of the fight against regional disparities and the principle of equal opportunities for all, across Canada.
In my constituency, and I know from experience, for 10 years the Canadian government, in applying this principle, has been involved in 140 projects, has made it possible to create almost 4,000 jobs, has given grants for $25 million and has consolidated thousands of jobs, and that is less than what bas been done in many other regions in Canada where the Department of Regional Economic Expansion also worked and participated in different projects. In an area where 45 per cent of the industrial work force used to depend on the textile industry, I can say today that through the application of this principle we have succeeded in varying our industry so that the textile workers who have very important jobs and deserve the protection we are giving them through our excellent policies, now represent no more than 8 per cent of the work force in the Drummond constituency, because thousands of other jobs have been created and all kinds of businesses have appeared.
It is precisely this kind of principle which will enable those regions with a low economic growth rate, those which are less advantaged than others in Canada, to develop; it is precisely this kind of principle that we want to see enshrined in the constitution, Mr. Speaker. This is the very essence of Canada, the equitable distribution of wealth in this country, and this is the third stage of our constitutional proposai. But who and in the name of what principle would oppose the entrenchment of fundamental rights and freedoms but also the principle of the fight against regional disparities and for equal opportunities for all in Canada? This is what we are doing, Mr. Speaker, and this is what the people must know.
The fourth stage, the fourth step of our undertaking in this matter is to find a nechanism which will enable us in future to avoid the kind of meetings which require unanimity to bring about some change, I mean the amending formula. We must find a mechanism, a process, a way so that we may in future, whenever a large majority of partners, of provinces and the Canadian government deem it reasonable, amend the constitution without going to London, because by that time it will have been patriated, our constitution will be back here, but it will not require unanimity, which, as I said earlier, ends up in a dead end in most cases, as the experience of the past 53 years has shown.
What we have in the way of a mechanism in that proposai is quite simple. For a maximum of two years, we have the unanimity rule. We say: Agreed, let us not go too far, let us force nothing upon the provinces during a two-year period. Once we have our own constitution in Canada, there will be no change without the unanimous consent of the provinces and the federal government. This is what is said in our proposal. But in two years time, however, we will negotiate. There is even a section in the proposai, Mr. Speaker, under which we
must at least once a year, during that two-year period, hold a constitutional conference to discuss the matter and try to come to an agreement, especially on the final amending formula. And, therefore, to suggest that we do not want to consult the provinces any more, that we will have no more constitutional conferences is turning the facts upside down. In the proposal there is a specific section under which we must hold a constitutional conference at least once a year during the unanimityrule period, the two-year period. And if during that two-year period the provinces and the Canadian government agree on some mechanism, some amending formula, good! This will solve the problem for the future, and everyone will be happy.
If there is no consensus, then the provinces will have the privilege and the right to propose their own amending formula, provided that it is supported by 80 per cent of the provinces, that is eight provinces, representing 80 per cent of the Canadian people. Of course the formula has to be serious and it must get sufficient provincial support to justify a referendum. We, the Canadian government, will oppose that formula since we will not have agreed to it. We will then propose the Victoria formula, the last one on which provinces were all agreed in 1971 with the federal government. This is the formula we support, that is the provinces that will have received support from 25 per cent of the people before proclamation day. Therefore, for all practical purposes, if on the one hand, Quebec, Ontario and two western provinces representing 50 per cent of the people, and two maritime provinces representing 50 per cent of the people on the other are in agreement with the Canadian government, the change can be made. Such is the Victoria formula. This is what we propose and if in two years there has been no agreement, it will be our formula. We reserve the right to change it and put it on the table in opposition to that put on the table by 80 per cent of the provinces supported by 80 per cent of the people. And we shall go to the people. We shall not decide by ourselves, we are going to ask the people who are sovereign to choose the best amending formula for the future, to prevent constitutional deadlocks and to enable us to progress and to make amendments. This is what is provided for by the mechanism; it is not complicated. We are going to have a referendum if there is no agreement and if eight provinces agree on a formula, we shall propose our own formula and the people will decide. This is how it should work. Ultimately, if ever the provinces do not agree to submit an amending formula, then the Victoria formula I have just described will apply. Moreover, there is section 42 providing that if we really cannot get the consent we require to amend the constitution under the Victoria formula, the people will always be the judge in the last resort, to break the deadlock. This is what the right hon. Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) said today while answering the questions of the official opposition. This is the purpose of section 42 which enables the Government of Canada to hold a referendum on a matter requiring an amendment to the constitution. This is essentially the intent of this piece of legislation, to break a constitutional deadlock where we would be unable to come to an agreement to amend the constitution within the limits of the amending formula which will apply at that time.
Mr. Speaker, those are the four basic changes we want to make on the constitutional level. Now I ask: does any one of those changes, any one of those aspects take away a right enjoyed by any Canadian province to give it to the Canadian government, the federal government? Absolutely not. What we are trying to do, Mr. Speaker, is simply to make the legislatures and ourselves, the federal government, respect the Canadian people, respect basic rights in Canada and respect the rights of Canadians as individuals. That is what we are trying to do.
The way in which we have chosen to do this is not very complicated: we are going through Parliament, because it is the only legitimate, legal and recognized way we can proceed after the deadlock and the lack of agreement which resulted from the last constitutional conference. What is wrong with using the most noble institution in the country where the democratically elected representatives of the entire Canadian people, from all regions of the country sit? What is wrong, Mr. Speaker, with using this institution to implement our constitutional proposal?
Hon. members from all political affiliations and representing all regions from coast to coast, are entirely free to take part in this debate, to suggest amendments at the committee stage and to argue their points in a constructive way, so that this resolution be adopted with reasonable delay. And Parliament, in my opinion, is the perfect instrument to carry out this noble task. There are three stages.
Once again, to enlighten the ordinary guy who wonders what we are doing, what is the issue we are debating, I will say that it is a motion calling for a reference to a committee of the resolution I was referring to. And this committee will sit until December 9. At the committee stage, there are a few fairly technical aspects to be considered. There are several clauses. It is not a committee which will travel to every part of Canada, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Clark) would like it to. It is not a committee which would travel to Jerusalem or anywhere else. It is a committee which will sit in Ottawa. It will look into the technical aspects of this project and call for witnesses to appear, but its main responsibility will be to finalize the text of our constitutional project over a limited period of time not exceeding six months and not for an extended period as the Leader of the Official Opposition would have it, pending a judgment on some premiers’ appeal to the courts.
We would like the committee to report not later than December 9. The date coincides with the end of supply proceedings. It is a matter of parliamentary procedure so that in a third phase-it can be noted how generous we are to Parliament providing as we do three opportunities for debate. We could very well have introduced a mere resolution and held a
single debate in the House, or again we could have refused to refer the matter to committee and disallow the third debate to which I have just referred and which will again enable members to voice their views and to consider the report already tabled by the committee. Finally, it will allow Parliament to approve our procedure which is to address a petition to the Queen and the British parliament asking them to return our constitution and allow us to enshrine the charter of human rights of which I spoke as well as the principle of a struggle against regional disparities and an amending mechanism for the future.
This is the only thing we are doing. The procedure is relatively simple. I find it unfortunate that, basically, the major objections raised in most cases by hon. members opposite are objections about the procedure or questions of form.
It seems to me that if the substance is of such importance at the present time and if it can be accepted by the great majority of the people, as they have suggested, it should certainly be possible to discuss the procedural points and come to an agreement so that we may, within a reasonable time, meet the objectives which are aimed at in this process, Mr. Speaker. I would now like to reply to the second question which has been asked of us, which is why we are doing this. We have been asked: All this is very well, but why are you doing this and why are some people objecting? I shall tell you why. There are three reasons. The first is that during the referendum, not so long ago, a considerable number of us travelled through Quebec and elsewhere in the country to tell the people that what we wanted basically was to ask the people to object to sovereignty-association because, for our part, we were offering a guarantee of constitutional renewal. Who will be the most pleased if this project is cancelled and if we are not determined to take our reponsibility seriously as a government? Whose interests will it serve if we do nothing in Ottawa? It is important for the members from other areas of the country to be aware of the answer. This would please and suit the Parti Québécois since it will mean one more step towards independence for Quebec. This would be the end result because in the mind of Mr. Lévesque, nothing can work in the federal system. We are unable to come to any agreement. The renewal of federalism is unthinkable.
Those who talk about renewed federalism are dreamers. This is what he tells the people of Quebec and some members of this House would like us to prove him right. They would like to prevent us from taking certain initiatives which would not penalize the provinces to the advantage of the Canadian government, but which would simply guarantee certain basic rights and freedoms for Canadian citizens. You would like to object to that for procedural reasons, and at the same time play into the hands of Quebec separatists, who blame us for being powerless, for being incapable of getting out of the constitutional deadlock and making a start for changes that really correspond to the aspirations of Quebeckers and Canadians as a whole! This is what you are now doing with your opposition.
Therefore, Mr. Speaker, we are consistent. We fulfill a commitment. We promised Quebeckers and Canadians that we would get out of the constitutional deadlock then we promised a renewed federalism. This is what we are doing, Mr. Speaker, and believe me we have no intention of letting go! We mean business. We are going to see this through. But there is something else. It is not only a question of principle, it is a question of believing in one’s country, loving it and trying to bring it to change in a way that does not meet the aspirations of one political party, the Parti Québécois, whose aim is independence. Because we here, in Canada, also said that time had come for an in-depth renewal of our federal system. What we are doing here is only a first step. Do not cry yet, this is nothing as compared to changes that will be coming later on when finally our constitution is in Canada, when we are able to make federalism go forward with an amending formula.
Mr. Speaker, this is only a first step, not the final goal. To those who are scared because they think we are going too far, I say this is only one step, it is not breaking the deadlock. The advantage in our attempt, Mr. Speaker, is that it will allow federalism to change, it will alleviate tensions in the future when our constitution is here, when it is human, modern and includes a mechanism for amendment, when circumstances change, without leading to the kind of confrontation we have been going through and without having to ask everyone else.
That is the second reason and that is the second advantage of our constitutional initiative. First we are being true to our word, second because we are federalists, because we believe in Canada, because we want to unite it even more so, and I have just stated it is a step toward an evolutionary process, a healthy constitutional evolution. And, Mr. Speaker, the third thing that is most important, is that ever since I have been in politics much has been said about the constitution and I have been a member of Parliament for the past six years.
I know that the economy is a fundamental issue. Canada holds an important position in the world. It is a large country which deserves to be further developed. It seems to me that if we respected each other enough and showed it through our actions, if we could once and for all make the first step toward the resolution of this constitutional conflict, we would clear the way for the discussion of other issues that are equally important such as inflation, unemployment, energy and the economy in general. Besides, that is to some extent the reason why we have proceeded in this manner. Mr. Speaker, we felt it was sensible to refer this resolution to the committee for a certain period in order to allow Parliament to consider a budget, to deal with energy and national development. To those who would deny us as a government the right to act in this matter, I say that we have a mandate to govern the country. We do it in a democratic way by consulting Parliament, but our man-
date is in no way limited to economic and energy matters. We also have a mandate to act in the area of the constitution, on behalf of the people of this country, Mr. Speaker. Our action is perfectly justified and perfectly legal. To show respect for the people you represent, you should at least have the decency to let them know in their own language what you are doing and why, and in all humility I submit this is what I have been trying to do in this speech.
I am sorry if I took a little too long; I do not usually make full use of my 40-minute speaking time but I had to do it at a certain point in this debate, Mr. Speaker. I wanted to take part once again in this debate on the constitution to give this overview because I am deeply convinced that our approach is sober, balanced, realistic and timely, and that it is respectful of the rights of all Canadians. Mr. Speaker, the Canadian people that we are representing in this House is a generous, dignified and free people. This is why we are acting the way we are.
Mr. Baker (Nepean-Carleton): Mr. Speaker, the President of the Privy Council (Mr. Pinard) has referred to Mr. Lévesque’s problem with regard to the Constitution of Canada. I can understand Mr. Lévesque’s objection: he is a separatist. But there is also a problem with Mr. Ryan. Mr. Ryan has voiced his own objections against this proposal. Why is he against it? Is the Government of Canada on speaking terms with Mr. Ryan? Why has the position held by the Government of Canada met with Mr. Ryan’s disapproval?
Mr. Pinard: Mr. Speaker, I shall answer that question. Mr. Ryan has said, and that is important, that he agrees fully with the substance of the proposal, or the meat of it. A bill of rights entrenched in the constitution, he agrees with that; essentially, he agrees with patriation; and Mr. Ryan is in favour of reducing regional disparities. Yes, I have read all that. I know what Mr. Ryan has said. He fully agrees with our basic decision to act, and I respect his opinion. He does not agree with the timing. I feel we should patriate the constitution after agreements have been reached. But we have been saying that for 53 years now. I am glad that Mr. Ryan is on our side as far as the substance is concerned. As to the form this should take, we may have differing views, but I still respect his opinion. I am happy about one thing though and that is the two years for the amending formula, and my colleague will have to agree with me that the heart of this process, of this proposed reform, is the amending formula. I am convinced that within a few months, with Mr. Ryan in Quebec, we will be able to negotiate a final amending formula. This will not be done with Mr. Lévesque. Mr. Ryan will have a say in the matter. Within the two years of unanimity provided by the bill, Mr. Ryan will manage to get elected and will be negotiating with us, along with the other premiers, in search of the right amending formula. If my colleague is afraid that Mr. Ryan will not take part in the constitutional debate, in the establishment of an amending formula, I am more certain and less skeptical than he is. I have more confidence in Mr. Ryan’s chances of winning the next provincial election.
Mr. Knowles: Mr. Speaker, I make an appeal to the House. There were certain understandings about the division of time this afternoon under which the hon. member for Winnipeg- Birds Hill (Mr. Blaikie) would have been able to make his speech before we rise. That time schedule has gone awry somewhat. I wonder if the House would be courteous enough to let the hon. member for Winnipeg-Birds Hill finish his speech this afternoon, even if it takes us to five or ten minutes after six.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ethier): Is that agreed to by all members?
Some hon. Members: Agreed.
Mr. Irwin: Mr. Speaker, a section of the constitution was misquoted by the hon. member for Rosedale (Mr. Crombie). The point is important enough that it should be clarified, and I rise on a point of order on the matter.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ethier): Order, please. What the hon. member is raising does not constitute a point of order. If he wishes to correct a statement made by the previous speaker, it can be done perhaps through other channels, but certainly not by way of a point of order.
Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg-Birds Hill): Mr. Speaker, may I begin this afternoon by saying how grateful I am to Providence for finding myself an active participant in a debate which is, no doubt, part of a constitutional watershed in Canadian history. For better or for worse the Canadian Parliament is being asked to act unilaterally on several fronts in order to break what is perceived to be a constitutional stalemate of long standing.
Today I will try to reflect on what we are being asked to do as a Parliament, and I use the word “reflect” deliberately. This is not an election campaign. It is a debate about the very nature and future of our country, and I encourage all hon. members to see it in that light. I particularly encourage government members to see the debate in this light because I have noticed over the past few days since we began the debate on the constitution a certain partisanship and an arrogant lack of respect for views critical of the government’s proposals. I think this is to be deplored in debates of such national significance.
Whether we be New Democrats, Conservatives or Liberals, we must all assume that the others come here with a respectable modicum of love for this country, however various the ideologies and interpretations of tradition we bring to the articulation of this love for Canada. This variety about which I am speaking is Canadian and, therefore, this variety is worthy of being listened to, if we wish to have a real debate and not our usual shouting match.
No government, not even a freshly-elected majority government, can build a country, renew federalism, or change the constitution if it acts as though this proposai is just one among the many proposais it has rammed through over the years.
In this context I feel I must mention the difficulty that is involved in the constitutional debate because of the attitude of the government toward Canadian nationalism and Canadian unity over the years. There is a difficulty in talking about Canada which bas come upon us because of the political strategies and attitudes of the Liberal party. I want to mention this difficulty because I feel it weakens our ability to do what me may indeed, be called upon by history to do at this particular point.
The other day I wore a maple leaf pin, one of a number which I had received when I went to a conference of the interparliamentary union. I had some left over, so I had put one on my lapel. In the course of one morning two people came up to me and asked me why I was wearing a Liberal pin, because I was wearing a maple leaf. Liberals may take some fleeting satisfaction in this coincidence of images, but the problem was indicated by my friend from Broadview-Greenwood the other day when he spoke about how he will never be able to see Canadian geese in the same light again, that he will always see them as Liberals in disguise.
That was a humorous way of bringing up a very serious matter, namely that the national symbols and language of Canada have been co-opted by the Liberal party. It is a very successful political strategy, but it means that when we have come to this particular historical moment, a time when we need to talk seriously and in depth about what it means to be a Canadian, every kind of symbol and language that is available has the stench of the Liberal party about it. That is part of the problem. The constitutional advertising is merely the latest example of this particular phenomenon.
For my part this afternoon, I will speak to these proposais from within the general framework of acceptance in principle outlined by the Leader of the New Democratic Party (Mr. Broadbent) which is, of course, qualified by our demand that an amendment on resource ownership and control be accepted in order to make this proposai the balanced and undivisive proposai that it must be if it is to be the kind of proposai that builds up, rather than tears down, our country. I will speak also from my own self-understanding as a second-generation Canadian whose father and grandfather served in the two world wars for the sake of a Canada which they believed was worthy of such service, a Canada which I am determined to maintain in such a worthy state and, indeed, increase it if I can do so.
Similarly, I will also speak out of my self-understanding as one who grew up in a part of Winnipeg, Manitoba where almost everyone had grandparents who came from another country. As children in elementary public school, we learned that our country was not one of two founding peoples or one of three, but a Canada of many peoples, of Ukrainian Canadians, Polish Canadians, German Canadians, Italian Canadians, Dutch Canadians, Scottish Canadians, Irish Canadians and so on, who over time, as we grew up, have come to call themselves just Canadians. This is a Canada which is different from the Canada of southern Ontario, the maritimes and even that of large metropolitan centres like Toronto where, indeed, there are many immigrant peoples, but who have had a different experience from the pioneer experience of immigrants in the west.
In any case, we in the New Democratic Party are favourably disposed to the government’s proposais mainly because they reflect long-standing positions of the New Democratic Party itself. It is only natural for members of a political party to feel supportive in principle of ideas for which their party has always stood. Let me proceed item by item.
Our party has long been in favour of patriating the constitution. The hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) tells us that 20 years ago he introduced a private member’s bill to this effect. As the party which, in my view, is the only truly nationalist party in this country, we could not oppose the patriation of our constitution, the bringing home of our constitution to Canadian soil.
We do regret that it has to be done unilaterally, but so be it. We are prepared to accept that this has become a constitutional as well as a symbolic necessity. Our deepest regret as New Democrats is that the Liberal government shows so little interest in giving Canadians control over their own lives both constitutionally and economically. We will not rest until this kind of comprehensive Canadian self-determination is a reality. One form of decolonization deserves another. However, there is one thing I do urge in this respect. I have noticed a tendency on the part of the government, and members of the Progressive Conservative Party have rightly pointed it out, to talk as though all we are doing is patriating the constitution. This may serve well as another Liberal strategy, but it is fundamentally dishonest. The proposai is much larger than that, and all of us should be entitled to debate it without having to listen to rhetoric about how the Liberals only want to bring the constitution home. Where I come from, many Canadians are not only sick and tired of this, they are infuriated at being self-righteously lectured on Canadianism by the Liberal party and its leader, the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau). We do not answer to him or to anyone else in the Liberal party for our identity as Canadians. We deeply resent what I cited earlier as the tragic co-opting of Canadian national symbols.
Our party has long been in favour of a charter of rights and freedoms, a position reiterated recently by the federal council of the New Democratic Party. This is our issue. Alone in this House we have a proud record of defending human rights and freedoms when others were willing to turn a blind eye for fear of disagreeing with a determined government or a fearful, aggressive majority, whether it was our criticism of the treatment of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War or our opposition to the paranoid detention of hundreds of innocent Canadians under the auspices of the War Measures Act
by the same Prime Minister who now beseeches us about freedoms and rights. Talk about bargaining freedom against fish, Mr. Speaker-in 1970, freedom was sold down the river for nothing but sheer political opportunism.
Freedom of information is consistently violated by this government for no other reason than its own self-interest. Freedom from lawlessness, on the part of the police is still being sold out, through the refusal of this government to respond appropriately to the information revealed by the McDonald commission.
We in the New Democratic Party know what it is like-and many of the older members of the party know better than I do-to have ourselves and our views regarded as subversive just because we dare to take a different view of society than that held by the powers that be, although how the non-violent pursuit of justice and equality can be viewed as subversive in a democracy has always been a mystery to me.
And so we support the charter of rights and freedoms, Mr. Speaker, but not naively and not innocently. It is a starting point. But let us not kid ourselves that a charter of rights will safeguard freedom in the absence of a freedom-loving and freedom vigilant political consciousness on the part of the Canadian people.
This charter does not rule out the War Measures Act. Indeed, it may be the case that no democracy can rule out some kind of emergency powers, however inappropriate the present act may be. More important, the charter of rights does not of itself rule out the tyranny of the majority in any form.
Even the courts are expressions of the political consensus of their day. This is the insight, which ought to be respected, of those who criticize the charter of rights and freedoms by noting that freedoms are ultimately protected by political and not legal realities. Nevertheless, Mr. Speaker, attached as I am personally to the truth of this insight, it is precisely because they will continue to be true anyway that I can support a charter of rights. Common law and parliamentary supremacy may have been sufficient for a time when there was much uniformity of values and homogeneity of peoples, but there may indeed be wisdom in a charter of rights for a country characterized by a pluralism of peoples and values. In the end, however, there will be no substitute for keeping the love of freedom so alive that the powerful dare not move against bothersome minorities or individuals.
This is not to say, upon reflection, that at the very least we should not also be aware, if only for the sake of knowing what we are doing, that perhaps entrenchment of human rights as such may not be the best way to establish a charter of rights. I have read some persuasive arguments distributed by a professor at Carleton University about a preference for a bill of rights with “priority status” as opposed to “entrenchment”, etc., so that elected representatives would still have the final say.
Entrenchment without fundamental changes in our judiciary, in its self-understanding and in its accountability, could be a serious mistake but only time will tell, because it appears that the government is committed with a certain amount of passion to this concept. Let us hope that in the future we will have the freedom to adjust accordingly, if we need to, the Supreme Court and other affected areas.
Our party has long been in favour of language rights for French-speaking Canadians, so we support the entrenchment of minority language education rights. French-speaking Canadians outside Quebec must be able to educate their children in French, even as English-speaking people in Quebec must have the right to educate their children in English in Quebec. It seems to me this is only fair. When it is put this way, many of the objections to French language guarantees disappear.
But we must remember also, the Canada of which I spoke earlier, the communities of Ukrainian, Polish, German, Italian, Dutch and British descent. Perhaps it is because history is not taught well in our schools that the status of French Canada and the historical status of the French language in Canada is so misunderstood, for instance, in western Canada. But surely it is also because the so-called duality of Canada is not part of the lived Canadian experience of so many western Canadians. They sometimes feel that French is being entrenched in such a way as to make their mother tongue second class. The difference between the historical status of French Canada and of the French language, and these people’s own linguistic and cultural instincts is often obscured because they have not “lived” the Canada of two founding peoples, or however we may choose to describe it. These people are not anti-French, although their legitimate anxiety is sometimes co-opted by those who are. Indeed, in my riding French immersion education is popular. There is a French immersion school just a block and a half from where I live.
Yet there is still much to be done by way of communication and explanation of this proposai, not just to gain acceptance of the proposai itself but in order that a real fact of Canadian life be recognized, and recognized in order that Canada can be strengthened and not just preserved. People must be encouraged to appreciate the needs and values of those whose reality they cannot immediately share. In this sense, the failure of this in Canada would be a bad sign for the future of the world. If we cannot live together here under relatively favourable conditions then there is little hope that the empathic imagination needed for international justice and development will ever materialize.
Our party has always been in favour of equalization. Greater equality of the human condition is a socialist principle and equalization between richer and poorer provinces is absolutely necessary if Canada is to be able to maintain such things as universality and portability in health care. Just a month ago, the health services review conducted by former Justice Emmett Hall recommended cost-sharing with poorer provinces to fulfil what remains of the original vision of a comprehensive health care system in Canada in order that there be equality of health care and that meaningful national standards be maintained.
We believe in a strong central government, but not in principle; we believe in it because it will be absolutely necessary in the years ahead to patriate our economy and to develop the industrial strategy necessary for saving the Canadian economy from de-industrialization and stagnation. A strong role for the federal government will be required in fields such as health care in order to guarantee quality of life to Canadians in poorer provinces. The importance of the federal government’s role in the redistribution of wealth must be emphasized, while admitting that until now the job that the federal government has done in this area is poor indeed. In fact, the poor are still poor and the rich are richer.
As I say, Mr. Speaker, we are in favour of equalization in ways that even the government is not. But we are concerned that equalization, as spelled out in the proposal, is too vague. It does not guarantee that equalization will be between governments as opposed to pay-outs to people or corporations in areas deemed to be in need. The hon. member for Yorkton-Melville (Mr. Nystrom) elaborated on this point just the other day. This party will be offering appropriate amendments in an attempt to improve this part of the proposal when the committee finally meets.
We are in favour of an amending formula. I think all hon. members would agree that it would be quite useless to bring the constitution home without being able to do anything with it when we get it here. We do, however, have some very serious concerns about section 42 where it appears that too much power is being given to the federal government to resolve future constitutional stalemates. Surely it is pessimistic to write in such scenarios, and as I cannot imagine that the details of this section are crucial to the government’s vision of the future, we therefore, expect openness to amendments in this area. Unilateral action may be necessary once, but to write in the ability of a future Parliament to act similarly, albeit accompanied by a referendum the terms of which need to be improved, seems unnecessary. This weakens the claim that this is just a package for the people and does not alter federal-provincial relations.
And so we find ourselves in favour, in principle, of the major thrusts of the government’s proposals. We will no doubt be suggesting improvements in detail through amendments suggested by our representatives on the joint committee. The government not only should but needs to be open to such amendments if it is truly interested in nation-building.
In this context I wish to reinforce what my leader has already said about our demand that an amendment reinforcing and clarifying provincial ownership and control of resources be accepted in order for us to be able to support the entire constitutional package. This is because we believe that in order for this constitutional watershed to be a positive one and not a negative one, the felt priorities of western Canada must be addressed. It is true there are many other things left to work on, from the Supreme Court to the Senate to family law to communications, and so on. This, we hope to God, is not the final constitutional word. There is plenty of work to be done after patriation. Much remains to be done, for instance, in terms of guaranteeing the rights of women, of native people and of the handicapped. We will be offering amendments in these areas as well and we trust the government will be open to these very important areas of concern. Perhaps some changes might even be made before the constitution is patriated. But if this is to be a constructive word in our constitutional history and not a destructive word, then the government must move on the critical issue of reinforcing and clarifying provincial ownership and control of resources, something, as I understand it, it already agreed to once before on the opening day of the most recent constitutional conference.
The government makes much of the claim that action must be taken if the promises made to Quebeckers in the referendum campaign are to be fulfilled. But many of those who went to Quebec to argue for the No vote said that they, too, wished constitutional change. To make only those changes which are perceived by the government to fulfil its promises to Quebec is to betray the understanding which many Canadians had when they encouraged their fellow Canadians in Quebec to hang in there and work for change together. Our amendment pertaining to resource ownership will significantly redress this imbalance and we trust the government will accept it.
Mention of the referendum campaign in Quebec brings me to my final point, which is the claim that this proposal is the answer, that this proposal is the needed response to the crisis posed by the substantial support for sovereignty association shown in Quebec. I want to suggest that the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) is far too selfconfident about the ability of his vision, however noble, to fulfil the aspirations of those who voted Yes in the referendum, or indeed to fulfil the aspirations of those who voted No. His is a classically Liberal view of reality-and I use “liberal” in the small “” sense-with individual French Canadians making their way in the context of equality of opportunity and official bilingualism anywhere in Canada. This is his vision. He has had it for some time and it appears it will be fulfilled before he retires. It is a goal which, I admit, rights old wrongs. If it is accepted by the Canadian people it will strengthen federalism and the distinctiveness of Canada on the North American continent. But it is a vision that does not answer new questions or new problems.
All over the world-and here I can speak about Quebec as a non-Quebecker, because what I am talking about is not just happening in Quebec-people are asking themselves what they can do together as a group, as a people, as a community. Many people are weary of the world in which we are all just individuals. This new sense of community, or the desire for it, seems to be beyond the ken of the Prime Minister and indeed beyond the ken of the Liberal party. All group thinking is mere tribalism and regression. Nationalism is bad, it is just another ghost of Duplessis. For a man with a reputation as an intellectual, the Prime Minister displays an amazing lack of insight in this issue. It’s as though he stopped thinking about 20 years ago.
Many people want a more human and therefore often a more decentralized and community-oriented reality. They want to feel they have more control over their collective lives than modern society has been able to give them so far. Thus there were many Anglophones in Quebec whom I know personally, who voted Yes in the referendum. Why did they vote Yes in the referendum? They voted Yes thinking that maybe, on its own, Quebec would be a place where they could stave off the growing intrusion of alienation, remote control and dehumanization that modern society seems to bring with it. This is the real meaning of many people’s new fascination with such things, as their cultural identity, because culture is something which humans have as a group. Individuals are too often reduced only to the consumption of images marketed by the mass media. Culture is not just food and dancing or even language. It is something that is fully alive only to the extent that the people who desire it have control over the images which dominate their lives. In this respect, Quebec and the movement in Quebec toward sovereignty-association was a sign of hope for Canada. It was a chance to grow. It was a chance that maybe in the aspirations of Quebec the rest of us in English Canada could get a sense of what we needed to do as a people, that we needed to stand up and stop the erosion of our identity and culture, to stop the way in which we are being swallowed up by the North American reality, so that the lament of Canadian thinkers such as George Grant might be premature instead of prophetic.
The constitutional package does not address these concerns. I predict, therefore, it will not be the solution or the answer to sovereignty-association that it is claimed to be.
In closing, Mr. Speaker, I think it is important to remind ourselves, if we take seriously for a moment the prayers uttered so rapidly and meaninglessly at the beginning of our sessions each day, that the biblical prophets and other wise men and women over the years, including Christ himself, contended with the authorities not about internal constitutional matters, but about whether justice was being done, whether the neighbour was being looked after, even the least of them. We are commanded to seek first the Kingdom of God and its justice, and we are promised that if we do so, everything else will fall into place.
Perhaps in the absence of a commitment to full employment, to adequate pensions, to needed child care programs, to the settlement of land claims, to health care as a right, to a clean environment and work place, to international peace and development-indeed in the absence of a concrete commitment to justice in general-we have no right, no right whatsoever, to expect that this proposal or any other like it will be the answer to our problems.
Mr. Munro (Esquimalt-Saanich): May I call it six o’clock, Mr. Speaker?
Mr. Collenette: Do I understand, Mr. Speaker, that it is now six o’clock, or has the hon. member for Esquimalt-Saanich (Mr. Munro) called it six o’clock?
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ethier): The Chair recognized that it was six o’clock and therefore cannot recognize another member from the floor.
It being six o’clock, the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 2(1).
At 6:09 p.m., the House adjourned, without question put, pursuant to Standing Order.
Leave a Reply