Canada, House of Commons Debates, “Patriation—Communication with the United Kingdom Government”, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess (3 November 1980)


Document Information

Date: 1980-11-03
By: Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Canada, House of Commons Debates, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, 1980 at 4343-4344.
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COMMONS DEBATES — November 3, 1980

[Page 4343]

THE CONSTITUTION

PATRIATION-COMMUNICATING WITH UNITED KINGDOM GOVERNMENT

Right Hon. Joe Clark (Leader of the Opposition): Madam Speaker, my question is For the government House leader. He will know that last Friday, in response to a question posed by my colleague, the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands. the minister’s parliamentary secretary indicated that a call had been received by the minister last week from the Lord Privy Seal of the government of Great Britain. I wonder if the minister can confirm that such a call was received and that it was from the Lord Privy Seal. Can he also tell us the date on which that call was received and the conversation occurred?

Hon. Yvon Pittard (President of the Privy Council): Madam Speaker, I received a phone call last Monday between eleven o’clock and 12.30 or so from the government House leader in London. I looked at the answer given by my parliamentary secretary to the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands last Friday afternoon and I found the answer to be accurate.

Mr. Clark: Well, it was accurate, except that the parliamentary secretary and the minister were speaking of the wrong minister in Great Britain. As the government House leader now knows, it was not the Lord Privy Seal, who is Sir Ian Gilmour. However, I am sure they will get it straight as to which was the minister in Great Britain to whom he spoke.

Let me ask the government House leader if he can tell the House of Commons both the purpose of the call from his

[Page 4344]

opposite number in Great Britain and the information that was conveyed by his opposite number in Great Britain to the government house leader.

[Translation]

Mr. Pinard: Madam Speaker, the British House leader inquired about parliamentary procedure and the progress made by the constitutional question in this House. I gave him a factual report. Such was the nature of my conversation with tny British counterpart.

[English]

Mr. Clark: Did the representative of the British government, who obviously had some reason for initiating that call, indicate that there was any change in the attitude of the British government toward receiving recommendations of the Canadian House of Commons in Great Britain, and did he suggest that there might be sortie difficulty on the British side in receiving a recommendation which, while it was approved by a majority in Parliament. was nonetheless the subject of controversy in this country?

[Translation]

Mr. Pinard: Madam Speaker, I can confirm to my colleague opposite that as a result of my conversation with the Right Hon. Norman St. John-Stevas. I was pleased to note that nothing justified It change in our policy. in our attitude or in our constitutional action here in Canada. Indeed, I have found no difference at all, except for a five or six hour time difference during our conversation.

[English]

Mr. Clark: Madam Speaker, may I direct a question to the Secretary of State for External Affairs and simply ask him if, at the time when he replied to my question last Thursday in this House, he was fully and in detail aware of the conversation between his House leader and the House leader of the British government?

Hon. Mark MacGuigan (Secretary of State for External Affairs): Madam Speaker, I was so aware.

PATRIATION-INQUIRY RESPECTING QUICK PASSAGE BY UNITED KINGDOM PARLIAMENT

Hon. Jake Epp (Pmvencher): Madam Speaker, my question is also directed to the government House leader. The government and the House leader have asserted that quick passage of any Canadian request to the British parliament would take place. Does the government still hold that view in light of the statements now made by Norman St. John-Stevas, the government leader in the British House of Commons, when he was quoted as saying: “We want an address agreed in Canada.” Does the government still hold to its original view?

[Translation]

Hon. Yvon Pinard (President of the Privy Council): Madam Speaker, if my counterpart said what the hon. member claims he has said, I am unaware of it, and it is certainly not what he told me during our telephone conversation. The allegation made by my colleague opposite and my conversation with Sir St. John-Stevas are completely and clearly contradictory.

[English]

PATRIATION-POSITION OF UNITED KINGDOM GOVERNMENT

Hon. Jake Epp (Proveneher): Madam Speaker, my question is directed to the Right Hon. Prime Minister. It is based on the statement made by the Minister of Transport when participating in the debate to set up a joint committee to study the constitutional proposals that the result of following convention has been that we have not been able to patriatc the constitution over the last 53 years, as the Prime Minister is so fond of saying.

In view of the fact his minister said that it was time new to end convention in Canada and to patriate without general agreement, does the Prime Minister hold the view that the British, on the other hand, once receiving the joint address, should still follow convention‘?

Right Hon. P.E. Trudeau (Prime Minister): Madam Speaker, I would not want to comment upon the excellent speech made by the minister. It seems to me the question can be answered without reference to the speech. I think the natural thing to do would be for the British government and parliament not to meddle in any way in Canadian internal affairs.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

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