Canada, House of Commons Debates, “Quebec Representations Respecting Constitutional Resolution”, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess (19 March 1981)

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Date: 1981-03-19
By: Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Canada, House of Commons Debates, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, 1981 at 8407.
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COMMONS DEBATES — March 19, 1981

[Page 8407]



Right Hon. Joe Clark (Leader of the Opposition): Madam Speaker, I have a question for the Prime Minister. He will recall that Mr. Claude Ryan, leader of the Liberal party in Quebec, speaking shortly after the announcement of the election date in Quebec and talking about the Constitution said that the first thing a provincial Liberal government would do, the day after the election, would be to communicate with the Liberal government and its head to invite them to resume reasonable negotiations and discussions on the Constitution.

Is it the position of the Government of Canada that any government elected in Quebec on April 13 would have the right to make representations on the federal government‘s constitutional package before the resolution was passed by Parliament and sent to Britain?

Right Hon. P. E. Trudeau (Prime Minister): Madam Speaker, not only every government but every leader of the opposition in this country at every provincial level has found himself quite free to make representations. I believe it is known that several leaders of the opposition did directly or indirectly make representations before the standing committee. Nothing will be changed in that sense by the date of the provincial election, any more than anything will be changed tonight by the election of the new government of Ontario, whatever it is.

Representations have been going on. As was pointed out by one of our hon. members before orders of the day were called, members of this House have made many representations. During the last part of the constitutional debate some 170 speeches have been delivered. This procedure will go on as long as this House does not decide that is time to bring the matter to a vote.

Mr. Clark: Madam Speaker, as the Prime Minister knows, whatever he might wish, one thing which might change in the province of Quebec after the election of April 13 is that there might be a new government which might be headed by Mr. Ryan.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Lambert: Then you will be in for it.

Mr. Clark: Mr. Ryan has made it very clear that he would want to have the opportunity, as the head of a new government, to discuss the constitutional package in Canada rather than be faced with a decision which had been taken by this Parliament to send Canadian business to Britain.

Is it the position of the Government of Canada that any government which would be elected in the province of Quebec on April 13 should have the right to make representations, as a government, to the Government of Canada, and to the Parliament of Canada regarding the joint resolution now before this House of Commons, and that it should not be denied that right by having this government act in a way which would send Canada’s business to Britain before the people of Quebec have a right to make a decision on April 13?

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Trudeau: Madam Speaker, we are happy that the Leader of the Opposition recognizes that the next government of Quebec will likely be a Liberal government.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Trudeau: I am surprised to hear that concession so early in the election campaign—

An hon. Member: Answer the question.

Mr. Trudeau: —particularly since his former seatmate, the former member for Joliette, is now leading the Union Nationale Party.

Some hon. Members: Oh, oh!

Mr. Trudeau: I do not think the question can be answered as an absolute. If the Leader of the Opposition is arguing that all future governments to be elected in any province of Canada would have to be heard before the resolution goes to London, the answer is obviously no. If he is arguing that that should be done only for the Quebec election, then I wonder why he is discriminating against all of the other provinces.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!


Right Hon. Joe Clark (Leader of the Opposition): Madam Speaker, we all know that Quebec is in rather a special situation in this case because, of the elected members of that province who are sitting in this House, only one has had the courage to speak for his province against his party on the constitutional question.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

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