Canada, House of Commons Debates, “Reported Statement of the Prime Minister Respecting Parliamentary and Presidential Systems of Government”, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess (10 October 1980)

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Date: 1980-10-10
By: Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Canada, House of Commons Debates, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, 1980 at 3582-3583.
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COMMONS DEBATES — October 10, 1980

[Page 3582]



Mr. J. P. Nowlan (Annapolis Valley-Hants): Madam Speaker, my question is directed to the Right Hon. Prime Minister. Yesterday there was quite a discussion in the House about the art of communication, and I should like the right hon. gentleman to communicate to the House, and thus to the country, if the presidential style of government is still personal preference over the parliamentary form of government we have at present? This is what he told students at the university of Montreal in a most frank and relaxed question and answer period three days after he resigned when he said:

—but if I’d said it before resigning people would say, “Oh, now he wants to be President Trudeau,”—

Then he said:

There‘s no question of that any more.

Right Hon. P. E. Trudeau (Prime Minister): Yes, Madarn Speaker, I can con?rm that there IS no question of that now.

Mr. Nowlan: I have a supplementary question, Madan Speaker. I will just read from the articles which appeared in several papers on November 24, the day after this very frank discussion the present Prime Minister had. He told the students:

—that a presidential system of government like that of France might be best for Canada.

“I can say that now, but if I‘d said it before resigning people would say, ‘Oh, now he wants to be President Trudeau'”—

“There‘s no question of that any more.”

[Page 3583]

My supplementary question is in a serious vein. We are debating a resolution which gives to a constitution the very heart and soul of the country. In the last election campaign there was no mandate from the Canadian people because the Prime Minister, the then leader of the opposition, was most silent on constitutions or patriation in 1980. This is the people’s constitution, not the constitution of the Prime Minister or the premiers.

Since it could fundamentally change the form of government, would the Prime Minister be prepared depending on the form of the resolution finally reported out of the House, to use the referendum procedure in the bill as a dry run to the Canadian people before he goes to London?

Mr. Trudeau: Madam Speaker, I find it somewhat paradoxical that the hon. member and his party seem to be against the referendum procedure in the proposed section 42 which, after all, is a deadlock breaking mechanism on the one hand-

Mr. Clark: No, it is not.

Mr. Trudeau:—and on the other hand—

Mr. Nielsen: It is a hammerlock mechanism.

Mr. Trudeau:—they are now advocating, or this member in particular is advocating, a referendum which obviously is something that—

Mr. Crosbie: Thank you, Mr. President.

An hon. Member: He was not advocating that. He was asking you.

Mr. Trudeau: No, he was advocating that. My answer is that I wish they would get their act together, as usual.

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