Canada, House of Commons Debates, “Proposed Resolution—Status of Yukon and Northwest Territories”, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess (23 October 1980)

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Date: 1980-10-23
By: Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Canada, House of Commons Debates, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, 1980 at 3970-3971.
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COMMONS DEBATES — October 23, 1980

[Page 3970]



Mr. Dave Nickerson (Western Arctic): Madam Speaker, I have a question for the Prime Minister. At all the first ministers’ meetings called to discuss the constitution, the northern territories of Yukon and Northwest Territories have been refused the right to speak for themselves. Now, through the hideous use of closure, the government insists that I also be presented from being heard on northern constitutional issues. It seems the government just does not want to hear anybody from that part of the country.

Who does the Prime Minister insist on entrenching and enshrining in the constitution—and believe me, this is what is going to happen under clause 29(1)(a)—the continued colonial status of the Yukon and Northwest Territories, thereby dashing the hope that they ever will achieve provincial status?

Right Hon. P.E. Trudeau (Prime Minister): Madam Speaker, it seems to me that there is some confusion in the question of the hon. member. There is no change in the status of the Yukon or Northwest Territories provided for in the resolution before the House. The situation after patriation will be exactly the same as it is before patriation. the territories will have the same powers, no more, no less.

As for hearing spokesmen from the area, the House will remember that I raised this very point with the premiers at my meeting in early June, and it was agreed—I would rather say felt very strongly—by the premiers that there should be no enlargement at this time of the forum composed of the ten premiers and the federal Prime Minister. This was a collective decision.

In so far as hearing voices from that part of the country, I urge the hon. member to get in contact with his whip. We on this side would be very happy to hear him speak, and I hope the members of the hon. member’s part will find a place for him on the roll.

Mr. Clark: In place of one of yours?



Hon. Roch La Salle (Joliette): Madam Speaker, I wish to direct a question to the Prime Minister. I should like to refer to the speech he made yesterday in Quebec City. In view of the fact that individuals and groups have stated their objections—the Prime Minister is surely aware of it—not to the principle but to the procedure of procedure of patriation, and considering the unanimity in the National Assembly, I should like to know how the Prime Minister can suggest and declare publicly that he has the support of Quebeckers, as he said yesterday before the chamber of commerce?

Right Hon. P.E. Trudeau (Prime Minister): Madam Speaker, it seems to me that the hon. member is anticipating somewhat when he refers to unanimity in the National Assembly. I think his leader indicated that he hoped to obtain that unanimity. However, I do not know whether he will get it.

As for the views of Quebeckers, Madam Speaker, I would acknowledge that it is not a monolith—we saw that during the referendum. But we do know that a decisive majority of Quebeckers are hoping for a renewed constitution within federalism.

Now, the hon. member knows full well that the only way to renew federalism is to make sure that we have a constitution with an amending formula in which the provinces collectively will have a right of veto.

[Page 3971]


Hon. Roch La Salle (Joliette): On a supplementary, Madam Speaker. The Right Hon. Prime Minister mentioned my leader in Quebec. I suspect he meant the Quebec premier. Contrary to the Prime Minister of Canada, I respect my Quebec premier, and every other premier, including that of Prince Edward Island.

The Prime Minister spoke of the results of the referendum. He seems to have forgotten that Mr. Ryan no longer stands by his side on the method he wants to use to patriate the constitution. In view of the circumstances, will the Prime Minister at least make sure that the Quebec Liberal party leader is invited before the parliamentary committee to explain his opposition, not to the principle of patriation—no more than I oppose it, for that matter—but to the method the Prime Minister is now using?

Right Hon. P.E. Trudeau (Prime Minister): Madam Speaker, if the committee so wishes, I encourage it strongly to hear the representations of Mr. Ryan. Several premiers have indicated their wish to appear. As the Liberals are few in that group, I should be very happy to see a Liberal go before that committee to show that the Liberal party has very respectable and responsible men in its ranks. It will be up to the committee to decide. As for the method alluded to by the hon. member, it seems to me explanations in that regard have been lengthy enough; specifically, the methods formerly used only produced 53 years of drifting; moreover, Quebeckers, no more than other Canadians, seem to be willing to see their political men commit themselves once again for as long a period without solving the problem.

Mr. La Salle: Not by any means!

Mr. Trudeau: Not by any means, Madam Speaker! May I be allowed to recall the words of Péguy who said, speaking of the elders, but applying them as well to political men like the hon. member opposite: “Their hands are clean because they have no hands. When one wants to accomplish something, of course, one has to put one’s hand to the plough.”



Mr. Don Blenkarn (Mississauga South): Madam Speaker, my question is also addressed to the Prime Minister. The Bank Act has now been before this House for three Parliaments. It has gone through five separate revisions, including the one produced by the committee. It has had full debate. There have been extensive committee hearings both in this Parliament and in the previous Parliaments before the Senate and before the House. Is it the view of the Prime Minister that the banks are entitled to full representation and discussion but not the constitution of this country?

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Right Hon. P.E. Trudeau (Prime Minister): Madam Speaker, I missed the beginning of the question because there was an exchange across the aisle of the House. Let me repreat to the hon. member, who seems to have referred to the period of time the Bank Act has been discussed, that we have been discussing for 53 years the question of patriating the constitution.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Bleakarn: The Prime Minister will know that we have not been discussing his resolution for 53 years.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Bleakarn: Will the Prime Minister, in the interests of full discussion and representation, give to the special committee the same amount of debating time that this Parliament has already given to the Bank Act?

Mr. Trudeau: Madam Speaker, this matter is so important and the question of timing is so important—

Some hon. Members: Why?

Mr. Hawkes: Why, why, why?

An. hon. Member: Easy.

Madam Speaker: Order. Order please.

Mr. Clark: Why was it not important yesterday?

Mr. Trudeau:—that the—

Madam Speaker: Order, please.

An hon. Member: Sit down, Pierre.

Madam Speaker: Order, please. The Right Hon. Prime Minister.

Some hon. Members: Oh, oh!

Madam Speaker: The hon. member for Mission-Port Moody.

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