Canada, House of Commons Debates, “Proposed Resolution—Representation of Native Groups Before Joint Committee”, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess (28 October 1980)

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Date: 1980-10-28
By: Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Canada, House of Commons Debates, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, 1980 at 4157-4158.
Other formats: Click here to view the original document (PDF).

COMMONS DEBATES — October 28, 1980

[Page 4157]



Mr. F. Oberle (Prince George-Peace River): Madam Speaker, my question as well is for the Prime Minister and it is with regard to the exchange of correspondence between him and the NDP which resulted in the unconditional surrender by the NDP of any principles or commitments they ever had—

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Oberle:—with respect to human rights, the rights of minorities in our country, and particularly the very special rights which native people have in our society. I should like to ask the Prime Minister whether it was entirely the letter of the NDP that was the basis of support on which the Prime Minister acted, not only to circumvent Parliament but to circumvent any meaningful further discussions with the prov-

[Page 4158]

inces and with the native people, the aboriginal people of our country, before this action was taken in Britain, or is he now prepared, in recognition of the response which has been received in the House and from the native people throughout the country, to reopen the discussions and in particular provide access for these minority groups to the committee in a meaningful way?

Right Hon. P.E. Trudeau (Prime Minister): Madam Speaker, it is not my role to defend the NDP, I am sure they can defend their own actions.

Some hon. Members: Oh, oh!

An hon. Member: They are in your caucus; why don’t you defend them?

Mr. Trudeau: I may have defended them many, many years ago, Madam Speaker, and I would have been prepared to defend them again had they accepted my offer to join this party when we formed the government.

Some hon. Members: Oh, oh!

An hon. Member: The cat is out of the bag.

An hon. Member: They are an extension.

An hon. Member: You seduced them.

Madam Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Trudeau: It still seems difficult to understand how they can be accused of having surrendered their principles when what they asked for was exactly what the western premiers were asking for—

Some hon. Members: No.

An hon. Member: False.

An hon. Member: They got nothing.

Mr. Trudeau: I am not saying they did not ask for more. We know that the premiers are insatiable and that they asked for a great deal more. But I am suggesting that what was asked for by the NDP was action in the field of indirect taxation of resources and interprovincial trade on resources, which is certainly not going against the principles of anyone in the House; therefore, I do not see how it can be a surrending of principles.

As for the entrenchment of the rights of native people, here again I fail to understand the logic of the party opposite. Because what we are doing is bringing back the constitution in the hope that then we will be able to deal with amendments relating to the native people and to many other subjects. I point out to the Tory party that that is exactly what they were doing last week when they proposed to this House.

Some hon. Members: Oh, oh!

An hon. Member: Sit down.

Madam Speaker: Order, please. Even the Chair is confused as to whether the question is still being answered or new questions are being asked. I ask hon. members to try to discipline themselves. I think today I cannot go on numbers. I will have to go on time and immediately recognize, in the normal order, members from the NDP and allow the rest of the time to the Conservatives. This question period has to be disciplined to some extent. Does the hon. member for Prince George-Peace River have a supplementary question? Will he make it short, please.

Mr. Oberle: Madam Speaker, clearly we have two types of rights which need to be protected in the constitution, the rights as the Prime Minister perceives them—

Some hon. Members: Question.

Madam Speaker: Order, please. Will the hon. member put his question immediately without a preamble, please.

Mr. Oberle: Does the Prime Minister depend on the leader of the NDP to write a letter to Her Majesty the Queen and the British parliament to convince them that they should patriate a package, which is clearly a wanton denial of the basic rights of many people in this country, except for those rights which the Prime Minister wishes to entrench for his own purpose?

Mr. Trudeau: Madam Speaker, put very simply, the Conservative party last week moved that this House adopt—

Mr. Oberle: Bring the constitution home and let us deal with it here.

Madam Speaker: Order, please.

Some hon. Members: Oh, oh!

An. hon. Member: Patriate the constitution.

An hon. Member: Why don’t you sit down; you cannot answer the question.

Some hon. Members: Order.

Madam Speaker: Order, please. It is the Speaker who maintains order in this House. The Right Hon. Prime Minister will continue to answer the question, and I hope he will have peace so he can answer it.

Mr. Trudeau: Madam Speaker, very simply, the Tory party last week proposed a motion and voted affirmatively on that motion to patriate the constitution with an amending formula. There was nothing in that resolution, as was pointed out by the hon. member for Ottawa Centre in the debate, to protect the native people—nothing. The idea was to get the constitution here and then put something in to protect the native people. That is exactly what we want to do, to get it here and then put something in to protect the native people.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

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