Canada, House of Commons Debates, “Resolution Respecting Constitution Act”, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess (20 February 1981)
By: Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Canada, House of Commons Debates, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, 1981 at 7518-7538.
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COMMONS DEBATES — February 20, 1981
RESOLUTION RESPECTING CONSTITUTION ACT, 1981
The House resumed debate on the motion of Mr. Chrétien, seconded by Mr. Roberts, for an Address to Her Majesty the Queen respecting the Constitution of Canada.
And on the amendment of Mr. Epp, seconded by Mr. Baker (Nepean-Carleton)—That the motion be amended in Schedule B of the proposed resolution by deleting Clause 46, and by making all necessary changes to the Schedule consequential thereto.
Mr. Benno Friesen (Surrey-White Rock-North Delta): Madam Speaker, last night at ten o’clock p.m. I was in mid-flight in my speech. I was making the point that if we are going to entrench rights in the Constitution, the very fact that we are entrenching them makes it imperative that we be careful what we entrench. I was trying to make the point that one of the ingredients which we are, perhaps unwittingly but nevertheless actually, entrenching is the principle of unfairness because of the kind of amending formula contained in this charter and what it does, for example, to the province of British Columbia, in that it makes us wait at least 140 years, and perhaps 200 years, before our province can find equality with two other provinces. That is an unfair principle, and you cannot entrench a charter of rights and expect it to last if it embodies a principle of unfairness.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Friesen: The second point I was trying to make is that we are entrenching in this charter an illusion that while the charter talks about entrenching human rights, citizens’ rights, the language of the charter really reverses that. When you look at the language of the charter and you see who is
speaking and to whom that speech is addressed, you find that we are not at all entrenching citizens’ rights because the language of the proposed charter says that the speaker is the government, and the government is saying that every citizen shall have the following rights. The government is the speaker. If the government is the speaker and citizens are the audience or the recipients, it means that the government has the real power and all the rights, except those which it enumerates or out of some gratuitous impulse extends to citizens. The government is presenting a proposed charter which purports to give rights to citizens. It is presenting an illusion; it is a fraud. It is not entrenching the rights of citizens; it is entrenching the power of the state.
Time does not permit me to develop the following point, but I should like to indicate that the charter is entrenching memories of rancour and dispute. Members on the government benches are trying to say that this is just another flag debate, that given ten or 15 years all ill-will will dissipate and people will be thankful for the government presenting its charter. I want members to know that this is not an ordinary flag debate. Parenthetically I would add that there are many thousands of people across Canada, particularly those who fought under the Red Ensign in two world wars, who still regard it as their flag, even though they have accepted the present one. All the rancour from that debate has not dissipated. But, the flag is a symbol; the Constitution is the fabric of our country. We are not talking about symbols here; we are talking about what will make our country function. When a level of dispute and division is stimulated by this proposal, both in its text and in its method, we cannot but expect that memory will stay for the entire life of the Constitution; it is entrenched in the Constitution.
I should like to refer to a story which appeared in this morning’s edition of The Citizen. This banner story gives an indication of the level of rancour and ill-will. The article by Mr. lain Hunter is entitled “Patriation dividing Canadians, PM admits”, and in part it refers to a statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) while he was in Vancouver. It reads:
The NDP, he said, were split between “those who like freedom and justice more and hate the Liberals less,” and “those who hate the Liberals more and like freedom and justice less.”
Ideologically I am poles apart from the NDP. Those who heard my remarks last night will know that I am poles apart from them and their position; but far be it for me ever to say that they are less patriotic in having taken that position. For the Prime Minister to go around the country making the statement reported in The Citizen results in that attitude being entrenched in the Constitution; it is now entrenched in the Constitution.
In the two minutes remaining I should like to refer to the wording of the Constitution. One of my colleagues said that there was a similarity in the wording of this proposed charter and the existing one in the Soviet Union. This is right, it is the same passive mood; it is the same enumeration of rights to citizens, while government holds all powers. The structure of the two charters is identical, the hon. member for Northumberland-Miramichi (Mr. Dionne) said that the Canadian and Russian are the same. I want all the constituents in Northumberland-Miramichi to know what their member holds as an ideal comparison to our country, and that he seems to believe this is an endorsement of our Constitution rather than an anathema to our country.
The constitutional proposal is opposed by four western provincial governments, by 70 per cent of the members of Parliament from those provinces, and by 67 per cent of the population of Canada. With such opposition we can hardly assume that the Prime Minister has a mandate for this charter of rights or the resolution. If judgment is reserved for those who tamper with weights and measures because it oppresses the poor, how much more judgment will be meted out on us in this chamber if we endorse the injustice of this proposition?
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Hon. John C. Munro (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development): Mr. Speaker, it was almost with a sense of humour that I listened to the remarks of the hon. member for Surrey-White Rock-North Delta (Mr. Friesen). To try to equate in the Canadian Parliament such a fundamental matter as the entrenchment of the charter of rights and freedoms with anything analogous to what goes on in the Soviet Union indicates such excessiveness as to be almost totally irrational. It is indicative of the desperate situation in which some members of the official opposition find themselves in opposing this resolution in the first place.
There is no doubt about it. I have talked with many of my fellow Canadians, and I believe that we should exhibit a sense of pride in the process of patriation. It is long overdue. If one puts any confidence in polls, I think the polls would indicate that the vast majority of Canadians are in favour of the entrenchment of a charter of rights and freedoms to ensure equity and justice for all of us in the country.
But in terms of my special responsibilities as Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, the hon. member would be wise to note the significance and impact of the charter of rights and freedoms upon the aboriginal peoples of this country. It is the greatest single advance in 100 years in terms of the protection of those rights. There are many citizens who are original peoples in all four western provinces. I dare to say that if you speak to those Canadians, those first Canadians, with respect to what they feel about the necessity for the enhancement of those rights now entrenched in this declaration of rights and freedoms, you will find quite a different response from the first citizens in western Canada. If there is any doubt perhaps the hon. member would wish to speak to some of those Indian leaders who have fought so long and hard to achieve the very objective which is now before us.
These rights and freedoms have a double significance, if you like, for all Canadians. They reinforce the desire for the
entrenchment of aboriginal and treaty rights in the Constitution. It now makes their position in Canada a secure one. I might say it no longer equivocates with respect to what those rights are. No longer are those rights ambiguous as far as the aboriginal peoples of this country are concerned. They now know that those rights are part of the fundamental laws of Canada. It symbolizes their uniqueness as Canadians. At last it does away with the paternalism that they have often felt relative to other Canadians and Canadian institutions. So it means a great deal to them.
Indeed, it is a critical milestone they have achieved. I am confident it will lead to a much better understanding of Canadians and Canada by the aboriginal peoples of this country. Those people do have a very unique type of concern for Canada which has not always been understood by Canadians. As I have said, they have been trying for 100 years to achieve this. They regard it as a special commitment by the Parliament of Canada with respect to the passage of this resolution. Analogous to this special type of commitment they have always had for Canada is their commitment to the preservation of our political integrity in this institution.
I would like to indicate a personal experience of mine with respect to this special type of commitment that the aboriginal peoples have for Canada. I travelled to northern Quebec before the referendum to speak to Charlie Watt, the head of the Inuit people in northern Quebec, and Billy Diamond, head of the Cree people there, to find out what their position was with respect to the referendum and, indeed, if it was warranted, to encourage their support for the no side. They did not need any encouragement from me. They were committed to voting no because of their deep sense of commitment to this country.
They are looking to this national institution, Parliament, to entrench the bargain which they fought so hard to attain. We must realize that there has always been a special relationship between a recognition of the culture of our aboriginal peoples and their commitment to this country. Because of what this Parliament has done and because of what the committee on the Constitution has done in terms of recommending this proposal to Parliament, the link between their culture and their commitment to this country has been strengthened. That is no mean achievement which they have attained.
I congratulate the committee for the work they have done. As the hon. member from the eastern Arctic said in his speech, which I read with considerable interest, he felt that now that these principles have been established in this resolution, Canada’s original peoples can work with the rest of us together to build a great country. He emphasized the aspect of togetherness in terms of achieving this objective. The Inuit, the Indian people and the Metis have a right to feel a great sense of satisfaction with respect to what has been achieved.
I think, too, that some special recognition should be given to the members of the committee on the Constitution, and they would be the first to agree. What the members of the committee have done is fundamentally change the relationship between Canada and the aboriginal peoples. They did it in a real sense of non-partisanship. The hon. member for Provencher (Mr. Epp), my predecessor, played a critical role. The hon. member from the eastern Arctic—
Mr. Knowles: Nunatsiaq.
Mr. Munro (Hamilton East): The hon. member for Nunatsiaq (Mr. Ittinuar) represented his people with skill and commitment. The Leader of the New Democratic Party, the hon. member for Oshawa (Mr. Broadbent), displayed his commitment to the enhancement of aboriginal rights throughout, and to the desperate desire of the original peoples of this country to attain this type of equality. The Minister of Justice (Mr. Chrétien) in all his work has shown a dedication to the same objective. My hon. friend, the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grace (Mr. Allmand), who has fought diligently and valiantly for months to achieve this objective, deserves the recognition of all of us in this House.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Munro (Hamilton East): The list goes on and on, including the hon. member for Lincoln (Mr. Mackasey), Senator Austin who, when this final entrenchment took place in the committee, had tears in his eyes, and others who were part of that constitutional committee, such a fundamental breakthrough was this provision.
Again, I do not think there would be a member in this House who would take away the justifiable credit which is due to the Inuit and Metis people themselves for this achievement. They have done extensive work. It is the beginning for them of a new period of accomplishment. Since 1971 they have had endless meetings. They have lobbied and researched time and time again. Sometimes the meetings were heated and sometimes there was confrontation. But gradually there was increased understanding and, I think, increased mutual respect. Many of us, including myself, have learned to listen a little better. Thus, we must give credit where credit is due, and that is to the aboriginal peoples of this country for what they have achieved.
Not so many months ago, in December, the Indian people came by the hundreds to Ottawa. The way in which they conducted themselves showed wisdom and sagacity which was, perhaps, the envy of many of us here in public life. They did not go in for confrontation but rather to win support through reason. It is indicative of the strength of their culture and the wisdom of their elders that they have been able to achieve this remarkable feat.
Some of the leaders are here with us, in the gallery, and I would like to recognize them. We have Sykes Powderface of the NIB and Saul Sanderson of the Saskatchewan Indian Association. We have Indian members of the minister’s office and staff. We have many who must feel a great sense of elation at the achievement of this unique feat. George Manuel, who used to be president of the NIB and is now head of the British Columbia Union of Chiefs, is here. It must be with some considerable satisfaction that they see Parliament has at last entrenched these rights. Charlie Watt of the Indian com-
munity and Mr. Daniels of the Metis deserve a great deal of credit. Their expectations cannot be disappointed now.
If the resolution were not approved and if the entrenchment of these rights were to be omitted, as members of the official opposition indicate, then the aim of entrenchment of aboriginal rights would become just a token in the negotiating process and all this achievement would be lost. It would be intolerable to the original peoples of this country.
That is why, as Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, having talked to them about their absolute determination to achieve this objective, it was very disappointing last night to learn of the position of Premier Blakeney. The vast majority of the federal members of the NDP have led in the entrenchment of these rights, and it seems strange for Premier Blakeney, in light of the significant native population in his province and what has been achieved in terms of that entrenchment, not to support the resolution at this stage. It seems to me a remarkable letdown for this jealously guarded right they now wish to see preserved.
One must recognize at the same time that they are the first citizens of his province, and as premier he has extolled the necessity for the entrenchment of these rights. So I can say with considerable confidence, as Sol Sanderson, president of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians, has said, that if they say they do not have support in western Canada for entrenchment of these rights, they do not speak for the Indians of Saskatchewan and neither does Premier Blakeney; rather it is the federal Members of Parliament who have fought so long and hard behind the Indian people to gain this entrenchment.
Can we now talk about some of the general provisions rather than the special provisions respecting aboriginal rights. We know these rights for all Canadians will include basic democratic rights, fundamental legal equity, the elimination of discrimination based on race, religion and sex. But they have a special significance for the aboriginal people in our cities; these anti-discriminatory provisions will mean that they will have protection against discrimination in the cities and job markets everywhere.
Their equity in our legal system will be guaranteed; Indian women will be protected against discrimination both as Indians and as women. The discriminatory provisions of the Indian Act, intolerable to Indians, as they are to other Canadians, will be eliminated and the government and Indians will have time to work together to find new membership provisions that will be just, equitable and appropriate to the Indians’ cultural interests.
Furthermore, let me talk about the special rights achieved for our aboriginal people. Aboriginal and treaty rights are now recognized and affirmed in a special part of the Constitution Act devoted solely to this subject. The inclusion of these provisions was the occasion of the most spontaneous expressions of satisfaction in the committee that any parliamentarian can recall. I believe members of that committee felt they had arrived, together with the aboriginal people, at a turning point in the status of native peoples in this country. I agree it is a turning point, perhaps a new starting point.
Second, the aboriginal and treaty rights and freedoms established by the Royal Proclamation of 1763, as well as land claims settlements, are protected by the rights and facedowns accorded by the charter. This is a unique protection based on a unique heritage.
Third, the Constitution Act will ensure that constitutional questions of interest to aboriginal peoples, together with the question of which rights should be included, will be discussed by their representatives with first ministers. This guarantee symbolizes, indeed formalizes, the commitment of the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) to the aboriginal peoples in October 1980, that in the next phase of constitutional negotiations issues such as an elaboration and definition of what those aboriginal rights are will be discussed. Internal native self-government, representation in political institutions and the responsibilities of federal, provincial and territorial governments for the provision of services will all be discussed, and with good will we can define precisely what we mean when we entrench these fundamental rights.
An hon. Member: Where is the good will coming from?
Mr. Munro (Hamilton East): I would like to indicate that as far as the Leader of the New Democratic Party is concerned, I understand that during the course of this debate he will be proposing the inclusion of a provision affirming aboriginal and treaty rights in Section 54 of the Constitution Act. The government will support this amendment. This is a significant acknowledgement of the importance of aboriginal and treaty rights in Canada. The result of such amendment will be the entrenchment of aboriginal and treaty rights in the same manner and degree as other fundamental provisions of the Constitution, including the office of the Queen. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms and aboriginal and treaty rights will be subject to change only through the general amending formula that applies to all other key provisions.
There is, then, added symbolism in this amendment which I believe will not be lost on the aboriginal peoples. They have always regarded the Queen as the symbolic protector of their rights and freedoms. The role of the Queen is not changed by the resolution, and protecting aboriginal and treaty rights in the same clause as the Queen’s office demonstrates the significance of the proposed amendment.
In addition, the government acknowledges a need for other processes to discuss and respond particularly to the special needs of Indians. Therefore the government is prepared to discuss with them in coming months ways of formalizing discussions between ministers and Indians that will promote the long-term development of a more responsive and effective relationship with the federal government. I am personally prepared to take a leadership role in the establishment of that process. So let us not underestimate the importance of this charter of rights and the Constitution Act. This act establishes once and for all the basic principle that aboriginal and treaty rights are recognized and affirmed.
This basic fact will apply to all governments at the next stage of constitutional renewal in the discussion on the refinement and elaboration of these principles, and this is extremely important. This fundamental law of the nation will bind the federal and provincial governments to respect and support these aboriginal rights. To do otherwise would be to perpetuate and, indeed, permit potential inequity and arbitrary actions in our relations with our native peoples. To endorse a concept such as the Vancouver formula with its checkerboard effect would mean some provinces would have these rights and some very possibly would not.
And so, Madam Speaker, the government acknowledges the great need for approval of this charter and this Constitution Act. I, along with others, am prepared to renew my commitment to the native peoples as to their involvement in a very real way in the future process. I cannot emphasize that enough. Regardless of the outcome of the discussions on the Constitution. I believe, because of the provisions of the proposed charter, no government or individual will again be able to put aside or disregard the rights of Canada’s original peoples.
For this reason, among many others, I believe sincerely that this House must, and indeed should, approve this resolution. If we were not to do so at this time we would be breaking faith with Canada’s Indians, Inuit and Metis, who came together with representatives of this House and the Senate to develop the words that have been included in the resolution now before us for consideration.
May I again indicate to members on all sides, despite the rhetoric we have heard expressed in recent days, my appreciation of the non-partisan support they have afforded and the very real effort they have extended. There should be a great sense of pride in what has been achieved. Surely if the native peoples, the original peoples, the aboriginal peoples of this country, have anything to say about it, we will no longer denigrate the charter and what it means to Canadians, more especially the first citizens of this country.
Mr. Walter McLean (Waterloo): Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to take part in this historic debate. I wish to join with others in the House in expressing appreciation to the committee, to those members from all parties who gave leadership at committee stage, bringing us to this stage of discussion.
I am one who could identify with the minister as he spoke of our native and aboriginal people and the importance of ensuring their rights. I am interested that as he speaks on behalf of the government and in his portfolio, he does not speak about Indian women and does not address the representations made to the government and to him by the conference which was held in Ottawa last weekend.
Mr. Munro (Hamilton East): I did.
Mr. McLean: At that conference the leaders of women’s movements across Canada questioned whether we were approaching the charter in the right way. They affirmed the importance, as did the minister, of the charter and came down squarely on the side of the charter, but they said, “Do it right.” They said—and many of them are brilliant lawyers—”We believe that the charter as it now stands will entrench discrimination against Indian women.” While sharing the minister’s commitment to human rights, I would point out to him that I hold a commitment that when we act in this symbolic and real way, then our charter should do what we and all Canadians want.
In my opening comments, Mr. Speaker, I should like to reflect for a moment on comments made in 1948 by Canada’s first Canadian-born Governor General, Vincent Massey, when he spoke about his dream for Canada. I should like to share with this House, and through this House with my riding of Waterloo which I have the honour to represent, indeed with all people across Canada, my concerns about what is happening to my Canada as we move too quickly to do something that we all want.
Speaking about his love for the nation that we all love and which we wish to serve in this Parliament and through this action, Massey said:
I believe in Canada, with pride in her past, belief in her present and faith in her future;
I believe in the quality of Canadian life, and in the character of Canadian institutions;
—I believe that Canada is one, and that if our minds dwell on those things which its parts have in common, we can find the unity of the whole;
I believe that with sound work, the spirit of a team, and an awareness of ourselves, we can look forward to achievements beyond our imagining.
That imagery and devotion that Massey expressed is not present in the component parts of our country. Increasingly the spirit of a team, the spirit of a partnership, is being threatened by proposals put forward by the government to change the nature of, and fundamentally remove from, component parts in the Canadian experience, rights which have been ours and are ours constitutionally.
Canada is a federation which has developed through a spirit of co-operation and consensus. throughout its history. What we now have before us is a constitutional proposal which undermines this historic reality. We find in this unilateral action, the intention to move outside Canada to take decisions about the rights of all Canadians. We find something which does not lead to a sense of team spirit or a sense of partnership.
I am more and more tempted to think of the analogy of a marriage breakdown or divorce, or a family relationship in which one of the partners decides to rule the roost. Without the necessary accommodations we seem headed toward divorce. In order for people to hear each other it is sometimes wise to have counselling, but this takes time. Today I plead with the government to give us the time we need in order to do this thing properly. Let us bring the Constitution home. Let us agree on the amending formula and then together, within an agreed time frame, let us look at the package of rights and reach agreement in this House. We want to be supportive but the process is wrong in terms of nation-building and in terms of human dynamics.
We must look at the manifestations of this action across the country and hear what the groups are saying. Let us not be led to believe that it is merely a matter of the provinces versus the nation; let us hear the people through their groups and institutions as they speak to us as Members of Parliament.
Let us remember that as a nation we have lived by consensus and that we have agreements. The quality of life that we celebrate is the result of consensus. The provinces have been a part of important agreements which allow our country to operate. We can think of the Old Age Pension Act in 1927, the depression years and the series of annual relief acts, the hospital insurance plan, the Canada Assistance Plan, medical insurance, unemployment insurance and the Canada Pension Plan, In each case the federal government and the provinces reached consensus and found ways to accommodate their differences.
I serve one of the most unique and rewarding ridings in the country, the new riding of Waterloo which takes in Kitchener-Waterloo. I have had the opportunity to live and work in Prince Edward Island and Atlantic Canada and to serve as a civil servant in Manitoba. I have worked in Saskatchewan and I was raised in British Columbia. As I look at this country from coast to coast, I see the resources and the differences and I celebrate them. I crave a process which will allow us to hear one another more fittingly and more fully.
In my own riding I see the need for consensus in order to accommodate the great and exciting diversity of the area. The Pennsylvania Dutch Mennonites settled the region. They were followed by German craftsmen whose heritage is kept alive by the German clubs and the annual celebrations of Oktoberfest. The 1971 census showed that 32 per cent of the population of Waterloo is of German origin, as is 27 per cent of the population of Kitchener. In recent years this area has led the country in receiving the boat people. Across the community, in the universities and in the workplace we find the Germanic and Asian groups coming together with a diversity of peoples and interests which range from the farming communities to small business to the electronics industry, the rubber workers and the insurance industries. They have different agendas, yet find the forums to hear each other in order to build a community with pride, one for another. The process of finding consensus in moving ahead, in terms of our seeking a national constitution, is wrong.
The complexities are many. But we must take the time, as we do in our communities, to understand the issues and to listen to them. As this debate goes on, and through the televising of the committee hearings, people realize the confrontational style of “Here is the package; you must do it”. This attitude is bringing more resentment than unanimity. From the government benches we hear the argument raised from time to time that this country is difficult to govern. Someone has said it cannot be governed. I believe that Canada can be governed. I believe that our pluses far outweigh our minuses. Canada has today, which it did not have in the past, an excellent network of communications and of transport. We can meet each other. We can talk to each other, often via electronics. We can communicate.
I had the opportunity to serve Canada while living abroad in Nigeria for some five years. I think of the difficulties that young nation had in nation building. I think of the major cleavages and the strong feelings among tribal groups and among major religious groups. Initially, that nation’s historic pattern was to try a unitary system. That was unsuccessful. But then the nation’s builders listened to all parts of the country. A constituent assembly was formed which enabled the diverse sections of the country to be heard. As people began to talk again after the tragic civil war, they began to find structures which would accommodate their diversity. We now find a modern day Nigeria moving ahead. It is made up of 19 States. Its system of government had gained and is gaining strength through the recognition of its diversity.
On the matter of rights, we come to a question of philosophy which is important for Canadians to address, both in terms of personal worth and in terms of the focus by which they approach life in our nation.
Let me suggest that the discussion around whether or not our charter will include a reference to God is one which goes to the nub of the issue in terms of the point where we begin. Do we begin with inalienable rights or do we begin with rights which are somehow granted by the government?
In committee, representatives of the Progressive Conservative Party suggested in a motion that a preamble be added to the charter of rights. It was rejected by the committee. However, the preamble would-have affirmed that the Canadian nation is founded on principles which acknowledge the supremacy of God, the dignity and worth of the human person and the position of the family in a society of free individuals and institutions. Individuals and institutions remain free only when freedom is founded upon respect for moral and spiritual values and the rule of law.
As the record will show, this motion in committee was opposed by the hon. member for Burnaby (Mr. Robinson). The argument was that many people do not believe in God; therefore, the reference should not be included, that any such inclusion would diminish their rights as a consequence. There was some discussion that this ought to be in the preamble instead of Clause I of the charter, and if so, it could be approved by the provinces. We should remind ourselves that our Judeo-Christian roots have had a reference to God as part of the building process of this nation and its values. Immigrants coming to Canada came for the freedom to express their concepts of God as they saw fit, so the Mennonites, the Hutterites and the Soviet Jews came.
God and the motivation of that belief has played an important part in the building of our nation. Take, for example, hospitals, agricultural development and transport. These roots come from the premise that God gives life and gives rights. and governments perform under God. God grants rights, not governments. Governments are there to see that rights are maintained. The charter we agree upon is to serve that func-
tion. It seems to me very arrogant to leave out a reference to God.
For those who say our society is changing, let us look at our multicultural mosaic today. Let us be reminded that those who come from the Islamic, Buddhist, Confucian or other religious backgrounds bring with them a concept of God which is not strange to their culture. Surely as we look at our roots and try to imbed our determination to protect rights, we need to go back. We need to go more slowly to see that the premise on which we build is still maintained in the charter, in its preamble, or wherever.
When we resume in the time remaining I wish to continue discussion about our rights. I want to reflect upon a most significant meeting, held here in the nation’s capital last week when over 1,000 women were present. I want to reflect on the charter proposal and to reflect upon whether or not it will serve their interests I want to reflect upon the proposals put to the government by the women of this nation. I want to reflect upon the growing concern of other groups across this country, including questions which have been raised in the media this day by the Canadian Council for Social Development, and as other groups begin to say “Slow down, do it right, do what you want to do.”
If I may, Mr. Speaker, I will call it one o’clock.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Blaker): As suggested by the hon. member for Waterloo (Mr. McLean), we will call it one o’clock.
It being one o’clock, I do now leave the chair until two o’clock this afternoon.
At 12.58 p.m. the House took recess.
The House resumed at 2 p.m.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: When the House rose at one o’clock the hon. member for Waterloo (Mr. McLean) had the floor.
Mr. McLean: Mr. Speaker, before the lunch break, I was suggesting to the House that there is a need to recognize our Canadian tradition of dealing by consensus rather than unilateral action. We have a rich diversity which needs to be respected in all of its variations in the process of developing our charter. It is argued that Canada is difficult to govern under our federal system, that we need this unilateral action in order to become a changed nation. That flies in the face of modern technology, communication and transportation. Compared to other parts of the world, this nation is much more governable and these are not the problems they are painted.
I was also suggesting that the very essence of the proposals put forward is that they put the supremacy of government over and against the supremacy of the individual and the inalienable rights we have, and that the omission on the part of the government of any reference to God is symbolic of that shift toward the tendency of the government to decide rights rather than rights being given as a gift to us as part of our humanity.
I stated also that I wished to talk about the importance of the charter. We on all sides of the House should begin to realize that there is concern with respect to seeing that human rights are protected. At the moment the government has before it well-thought-out and articulated proposals which are the result of the conference held by the ad hoe committee of Canadian women here in Ottawa on February 14 and 15. We will be waiting to hear how the government will respond to the proposals and amendments recommended for inclusion.
Today another council, the Council on Social Development, said publicly that the charter of rights could be used to deny access to social services. This is another group which should be heard, and the concerns which are raised should be addressed in order that we can have a sense of unity with respect to the proposals before us.
In the context of this debate and as we deal with human rights, I want to say that our charter and package on human rights must do what we want it to do. The outcome of the committee meeting of women this past weekend was a clear signal from women that the entrenchment of human rights is something they want and affirm; but it should be done properly and the proposals now before the House and the nation are not good enough.
It is interesting that today in the question period the Minister of Justice (Mr. Chrétien) confirmed that very few additional proposals will be included. He seemed to indicate that the government intends to ram through its proposals regardless of the opinions of large sections of our nation and regardless of the opinions of the provincial governments.
Women have sent representatives to Parliament Hill to speak to every member of Parliament, despite the discouragement of the Minister of Justice. Over 1,000 were here for two days, and they want their views known. They are concerned that the Constitution committee did not travel and that women who do not have the financial base men across the nation have are handicapped and disadvantaged again in the matter of their ability to travel, to speak and to articulate their concerns.
The committee heard four or five representations or groups and received other submissions, but many of the 1,500 or more women’s groups across the nation are only beginning to be aware of the implications of what is before us, as is the nation as a whole.
It is very interesting to me as one who was able to attend that meeting for two days, along with my colleagues, the hon. member for Vancouver Centre (Miss Carney), the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands (Miss MacDonald) and the hon. member for New Westminster-Coquitlam (Miss
Jewett), that there was not one person from the Liberal government benches who was there throughout the meeting, and there were no women from the Liberal Party.
The proposals in the charter before this House and this nation were prepared by a cabinet of which one woman is a member. They were prepared by a bureaucracy which is headed by men in almost every ease. It is small wonder that the women present were very concerned as to whether their concerns will be met.
Mr. Corbin: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The hon. member who presently has the floor noted the absence of women members from the Liberal side at the weekend meeting of women from across Canada. I point out to the hon. member that this party was represented, not by one but by many members in the constitutional committee, and they listened to the requests of women from across Canada. The party opposite was not represented by one.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Waterloo has the floor. This appears to be an exchange.
Mr. McLean: The conference raised the question whether the transitory majority will impose its will. Will it not hear the concerns of 51 per cent of the Canadian population? Women have not yet ruled out whether they, along with other concerned groups, will find themselves having to lobby overseas. The importance of this meeting cannot be underestimated because it was a reminder that no longer can decisions be made in Canada without women being part of them.
When questioned clearly as to whether the provisions as they now stand in the human rights charter are acceptable, a panel of women lawyers thoughtfully commented that there are no guarantees that women will be any better off than they are now. The words in the charter are too ambiguous. You either have equality or you do not. It is hard to have a little bit of equality. Those women lawyers went on to suggest that there are other dangers, such as the danger of entrenching discrimination on the basis of culture, and that these concerns need to be addressed. It is small wonder the conference found itself anxious about the time-frame and the limited opportunity.
Women are also unsure where the government stands. A headline in the Ottawa Citizen on Thursday, February 19, reads: “Women unsure where Axworthy stands”. The former president of the Advisory Council on the Status of Women, Doris Anderson, took exception to the comments of the Minister of Justice in his opening remarks in this debate. She objected on Wednesday to the minister’s quoting her as saying that the changes are a major step forward. According to the Ottawa Citizen.
Anderson said at a news conference that the government has come a long way toward meeting the needs of women in its proposed charter of rights, but that doesn’t mean it has come far enough “to make it absolutely clear that Canadian women have equality in this country . . . changes should be made”
Changes are recommended in the thoughtful brief which is presently before the government and the minister for consideration. The resolution of that conference was that it endorsed in principle the concept of an entrenched charter of rights as per the recommendations made on February 14, 1981, and that unless the charter reflects the amendments suggested, it should not be included in the submission to the British government in order to provide time to incorporate these amendments.
I know that the House and the women of Canada will be waiting for the minister responsible for the status of women to comment on this thoughtful submission which has been given to him.
In their resolution the women went on to say that, failing the full adoption of these amendments, incorporation of a charter of rights should be accomplished by a constituent assembly, the membership of which should be 50 per cent women. They went on in their review of the charter to say, for example, that there should be an amendment to Clause I of the charter so that it will include a statement of purpose providing that the rights and freedoms under the charter are guaranteed equally to women, and with no limitation. What they are saying is “Do it right.”
They go on in another thoughtful recommendation, which is before the government, to suggest that Clause 7 be amended to include the right to equality of economic opportunity. Why are women so concerned about economic opportunity? Economic opportunity has not been incorporated in this document, and that reflects the reality of the discrimination. ln a pamphlet published by the Advisory Council on the Status of Women the following facts are outlined:
51 per cent of working-age Canadians are women.
47.8 per cent of all women are working or looking for Work, compared to 37.1 per cent in 1968.
33.9 per cent of the labour force are women: an increase of more than 6 per cent in the last 10 years.
1,635,000 Women have joined the labour force since 1968, compared to 1,296,000 men.
They go on to write about employment discrimination in these terms:
For every dollar a man earns, a woman earns only 60 cents—
Women have to work more than eight days to earn the same money that men do in five days.
And so the litany goes on. They remind us that:
4.9 per cent of working women are in managerial-administrative positions. 62.7 per cent of all women working for pay are in clerical, sales or service jobs: 36.9 per cent in clerical, 9.4 per cent in sales, and 16.4 per cent in service.
The discrimination is known and the facts are becoming more and more part of our thinking, but the process of meeting these concerns and the time required in order to see that these injustices are addressed in our Constitution, as in so many other areas, have not been provided. I want to suggest that not only has the women’s conference focused on injustice, on deep concern and a rising awareness—small wonder that the minister was not anxious that that meeting should be held in terms of its comments on the proposal that the women are determined to move quickly with as much understanding as possible at the grass roots level across the country—but at the conclusion of the conference the women said that the process of
creating our Constitution was too hasty and that it does not adequately reflect the needs of women. Their resolution stated that the Women’s Conference on the Constitution insists on a full and fair debate in Parliament on the constitutional package before it, and opposes any closure of debate.
We are beginning to see a new form of closure. We find fewer government members speaking, shorter speeches by members on the government side, a tendency to say, “We will let opposition members talk it out as quickly as they can and we will try to get it through before the nation understands what is happening to the fundamental nature of the nation”; and we will have a package to boot, if they have their way, which does not do what we want.
Mr. Baker (Nepean-Carleton): You are hitting home.
Mr. McLean: Let me suggest, Mr. Speaker, about the process of indecent haste, that in the arguments which I have heard in my 44 years as a Canadian, through my schooling years, through eight post-secondary years and at university, I do not recall any discussions in the classrooms and in the coffee shops about the nature of our country. I have to say that the discussion which is now taking place is going in the right direction and is healthy, but to attempt to terminate the debate at the point when people are becoming informed and are discussing the nature of the nation is beyond belief.
How do we learn, Mr. Speaker? We learn not just because somebody publishes an article or a speech is made. We learn through the conversations that have gone on, through the networks we have, through the groups and organizations where we test our values, we look at what we believe in, at what we think is important and where we rehearse our history. This process takes time. If you take, as an example, the women’s network in Canada, you find that in many cases it is just beginning to develop. It takes time for them to begin to address what these things which are alleged to protect their rights are and whether in fact they will do so. When the time comes for a charter to be written which we can all support, I want to see the Constitution brought home with an amending formula. I want to vote for it, and, at a later period, after there has been time for consensus-building, after there has been time for consultation and recognition of our diversity, I want to join in supporting human rights, as does every member of the House.
A process which is wrong illegitimizes the entire Constitution and it creates, as we have seen, ill-will and suspicion throughout the nation. As my colleague, the hon. member for Rosedale (Mr. Crombie), said, every time the government decides that the means justify the end, ordinary people are hurt, and in this process ordinary people are being hurt as they feel disillusioned in their country and disaffected.
If the hon. member who shakes his head would spend more time in the various regions of this country, he would know about that suspicion. He might say that it makes it worse to talk about it, but that is not so. As one who has roots in the west as well as in central Canada, I grew up knowing and always being aware of what it costs to be from western Canada as compared to being from other parts of the nation. Perhaps it has taken 54 years to discuss this from time to time, but let us by all means carry on the discussion in an organized and systematic way, not with indecent haste. So far there has been little chance for our 22 million people to be involved and to give expression to their concern.
The process is leading to hostility. It is alleged that we are too concerned with the process. We are concerned with the process because the process brings a fundamental change to the nation and to its conceptions upon which we wish to build our sense of justice and our rights. There is a saying that justice not only must be done but must be seen to be done. In the process which takes place across the nation at this point, whether it involves women, whether it involves councils on social welfare, or whether it involves other groups which have appeared before the committee, people have not yet recognized the validity of what we are doing in this place.
At the beginning of my comments I spoke about Vincent Massey’s dream for Canada, his belief that one Canada is possible if our minds would only dwell on those things that we have in common. He said he believes that with sound work, a team spirit and an awareness of ourselves we can look forward to achievements beyond our imagining. I suggest that at the moment the spirit of the team is missing in the nation. The spirit of the team is built when we communicate, when we share our beliefs, our convictions, our history, our background and our hopes for the future. The spirit of the team is not built when the captain of the team says, “You run this way and that and do what you are told; I do not mind what you think.”
I have alluded earlier in my remarks to a marriage breakdown. A marriage can be saved if there is wisdom to listen, to conciliate and to begin to recognize the yearnings. There is a great love of our nation across this land; there is a great resource of human spirit. At present, the rights we want to be preserved will not be preserved. We are hearing increasingly often from those we wish to serve, and therefore I support the amendment that we bring the charter home, as we want to do on all sides of this House.
We should come to an agreement on an amending formula and deal with the whole process within a certain time-frame. We should not push aside the reaching of a consensus on the right package. Mr. Speaker, I thank the House for giving me the opportunity to make this intervention.
Mr. David Berger (Laurier): Mr. Speaker, on February 8 last, the New York Times published an international economic survey. I looked through it, as is my custom, to see if there was an article there on Canada, and sure enough, on the last page, appropriately positioned, was an article entitled “Canada, Poor Prospects and Fragile Unity”. Datelined Calgary, the article began:
It was the start of an evening of car races here not long ago when the track announcer asked the spectators to rise for the recorded playing of the national anthem, “O Canada.”
Not five seconds into the solemn song there was a jarring scratching sound as the record needle was lifted. “You all know the rest”, the announcer said. dispensing with the national formality. “Now, on with the races.”
We can contrast that with referendum night in a constituency in east end Montreal in which I worked. It was a seat held by a PQ member of the National Assembly. We managed to win by 1,000 votes—52 per cent to 48 per cent. A number of speeches were made, and then they asked me to say a few words. I had the feeling that quite enough had been said and said, “I only want to hear one thing; I would like to hear our national anthem”. One can imagine a hot committee room packed with 200 people. They belted out “O Canada” louder and with more feeling than I can ever remember.
During the referendum we discovered two things. We discovered our flag and we rediscovered our national anthem. The contrast between the referendum night and the Calgary race track could not better illustrate the necessity to reform our Constitution without delay. It is clear that we are at an impasse. It is most evident in the disagreement about the amending formula. Members of the official opposition cannot accept that Ontario or Quebec have vetoes, ignoring their populations which still make up over 60 per cent of Canada, ignoring the vital reasons of Quebec for retaining such a power. They also ignored the formula that met with the approval of all provinces in 1971.
Members of the official opposition also find the referendum proposal equally offensive. They invariably choose to ignore that in order to pass a referendum would require a double majority—a majority throughout Canada as well as a majority in all regions of the country. They choose to conjure up visions of the most outrageous circumstances one could imagine—expropriation of resources and the change of provincial boundaries—which they know would never secure the required majorities in any event. They ignore the fact that referenda have produced very conservative results in a number of federal states where they are in use, including Australia. In that country 16 constitutional referenda have been hold since 1900, some dealing with several subjects. Of the 36 proposals put to the people, only eight have obtained the required majority.
The official opposition likes to pretend that the federal government could tilt a referendum in its favour with a heavy advertising campaign. However, I believe that this demonstrates a lack of credit in the inherent wisdom of the Canadian people. They choose to forget that in spite of a heavy propaganda campaign conducted in every conceivable manner over three and a half years and a question designed to meet with the maximum approval, the Parti Québécois lost the historic referendum last May.
I suppose the strongest objection raised by hon. members opposite is to the unilateral nature of our action. This is where the differences between our parties are most fundamental. There is no recognition by the official opposition that the national government may have any overriding responsibilities.
I think this is well illustrated in an exchange which took place in the committee on January 8 between the hon. member for Wellington-Dufferin-Simcoe (Mr. Beatty) and Professor Maxwell Cohen who was appearing as an expert witness. The exchange revealed that in a reference case the federal government can go directly to the Supreme Court, whereas provincial governments must initiate their cases in courts of appeal. This offended the hon. member’s view of the “necessary symmetry and balance” between the two levels of government. In his response, Professor Cohen stated:
It would be a pity not to see a very positive side to the federal Parliament and federal parties. After all is said and done they are part of the national system.
He put a series of questions to the hon. member:
Are you not unhappy with the over-use of the theory of equality of the two levels of government because in fact are they really equal? Do you conceive of the provinces? Yes, they have jurisdiction, they have exclusive rights in a particular area but are we really talking about equality in the ideological, over-all, political, historical sense? Do you not want to retain the sense of there being an overriding Canadian national identity and interest?
We in this party believe there is an overriding Canadian national identity and interest. The federal NDP feels the same; members of the Official Opposition do not. We in this party believe that we have responsibilities which must be exercised now, for the good of the country as a whole.
How did we ever reach that conclusion, Mr. Speaker? Some members of the official opposition and certain newspapermen would have us believe that our actions are dictated by what they think is the personal obsession of our leader. Not only is that an insult to our leader but it is an insult as well to my intelligence and to the intelligence of all members of our party.
I would like to say to our critics that the members of this party share a vision of Canada which reflects that of the great majority of Canadians. Each one of us has his or her own reasons to arrive at that conclusion and to share that vision of Canada. We have all followed our own line of reasoning.
I would like to explain today some of the reasons why I took this position. First of all, I grew up here in the city of Ottawa and although I was raised in an anglophone environment I number among those Canadians who are of neither French nor English origin. When I studied Canadian history I had no prejudices or preconceived ideas, but I have always felt sympathy for the underdogs. I recall a certain sadness when I read about the defeat of Montcalm on the Plains of Abraham. Over the past eleven years I have had the privilege of living in Quebec and I like to think that I understand the aspirations of French Canadians. How many times I sat at a lunch table and heard about the ups and downs of French Canadians trying to go into business 30 years ago!
Mr. Speaker, let us imagine the difficulties, the hesitations and the doubts experienced by any young man going into business. And on top of that francophone businessmen had to express their hopes and their dreams before bank managers who did not speak a word of French. That explains the popularity of the PQ slogan d’égal à égal during the referendum campaign, even among those who voted no. As they
renewed faith in Canada, their Canada, the people who voted no expressed a feeling which underpins human dignity—the wish to be treated as equal, the will to lead a productive life in which their opportunities are as good as those of other Canadians.
The time has come to keep our promises. Since 1963 when Lester Pearson commissioned a report on bilingualism the constitutional debate has widened, Those who were born in 1963 are now 18 years old. Many of them attend university or join the labour force, They are a full generation behind us, however, today still, certain Canadians fight for their fundamental rights.
I heard the hon. member opposite who preceded me speak about the fact that it takes time to come to a consensus about what our rights are. But I would ask him: how long does one wait when people in the country are deprived of rights which ensure their basic human dignity? We may disagree about the method but I think that we can unite around the charter. I have no doubt but that the vast majority of Canadians uphold the rights set out in the charter. I believe it is a noble statement and a noble expression of our commonly shared values and can become a powerful force for unity.
Professor John Humphrey, president of the Canadian Human Rights Foundation, gave me the following definition of a bill of rights. He said:
A bill of rights is, or should be, the concrete legal embodiment of the national consensus as to what minimum rights belong to individual men and women in their quality as human beings, that is, because they are human beings and for no other reason. That is why they are called “human” rights. And because there can be no human dignity without them they should be the same for all Canadians in all parts of the country wherever they live.
Surely, the rights that allow us to live in dignity go right to the heart of our existence as a nation. Surely, this is what the groups who appeared before the committee on the Constitution meant when they said that the same basic rights and freedoms should apply uniformly to all Canadians, whether in British Columbia or Newfoundland. It seems to me this is the exercise we have been engaged in over the past several months. We are defining those basic minimum rights which we feel should exist from coast to coast and without which this country cannot survive. We have heard the submissions of groups and individuals representing millions of Canadians. We have considered the representations of the provinces and we are doing it from our perspective as parliamentarians who represent every corner of our country. It is an exercise which cannot be done from the perspective of a provincial capital and which surely cannot be done from Westminster.
I would like to say a word or two about the rights which we have included in the charter. There are rights which are called “fundamental”, as if to suggest that the other rights are any less fundamental. I reject any such distinction. I believe that all the rights set out in the charter are fundamental human rights of equal value, without which there can be no human dignity, in the words of Professor Humphrey.
Having said that, it is probably difficult for many Canadians to conceive of a Canada where we could not enjoy the basic rights set out in Section 2 of the charter, the so-called fundamental rights. Those who were born after World War II, like me, have enjoyed greater liberty than any other generation in history. At times we may take our freedoms of thought, religion, expression, assembly and association for granted. However, the committee was reminded of occasions in Canadian history in which such rights were infringed. To prevent such abuses and to remind ourselves of the importance of such freedoms, they should be entrenched in the Constitution today.
Other rights in the charter, though equally fundamental, are more difficult to secure in practice.
Since coming to Parliament, Mr. Speaker, I have realized that every Canadian needs to have a charter of rights entrenched in the Constitution. Like any other member of Parliament, I have had the opportunity, through meetings with my constituents, to realize the problems faced by those whose rights are not respected, who cannot find a job become they are considered too old or because they are handicaped or simply because they are women.
As Gordon Fairweather, the president of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, said before the constitutional committee, the purpose of the charter of rights and freedoms is to protect the weak from the strong and those who are powerless from the powerful. Mr. Fairweather also said that in his three years of experience with the commission, because it has been in existence for only three years, he has come to realize that many Canadians are completely powerless.
Mr. Speaker, human dignity for the people in my riding of Laurier, is the right not to be told at age 40 or 50: you are too old to work. Human dignity for a textile worker is the right to not be paid under the minimum wage just because that worker is a woman. Human dignity for a handicapped person is the right to work and to lead a productive life. And as I said in my maiden speech in October, 1979, human dignity is the right for all Canadians to work anywhere in Canada.
While doing door to door campaigning in my riding I met many construction workers who used to work in Ontario when there was a slowdown in the building industry in Quebec. This freedom of manpower movement is vital, I think, and I find it unfortunate that it ceased because of the building war between Quebec and Ontario. When I say that this issue seems vital to me, I am sure it seems much more vital to those people who find themselves without any means of livelihood because of economic barriers erected during the last few years.
An entrenched charter of rights will allow the courts to play a much more important role in the protection of human rights in Canada. Any student of constitutional law can tell you that
the courts have treated the Canadian Bill of Rights as what it is—ordinary legislation—and have interpreted it as not to invalidate conflicting legislation.
A result of this interpretation is that a Canadian, Sandra Lovelace, has been forced to seek remedies outside Canada by going to the United Nations Human Rights Committee. It is a scandal that she should not be able to find justice and equality within Canada. Imagine, Mr. Speaker, how Canada will look in the eyes of the world community if a judgment is rendered by the United Nations Human Rights Committee declaring that the particular provision in the Indian Act discriminates against Indian women.
One of the main criticisms of the constitutionally entrenched charter is that Parliament and not the courts should be the final arbiters in matters relating to human rights. ln the British tradition this function belongs to Parliament. However, every Member of Parliament knows that on a day to day basis courts can best protect an aggrieved individual. Parliament has little time to concern itself with the personal problems of the man or woman at the corner of Peel and St. Catherines, or Portage and Main for that matter. It is true that at the allotted time a Member of Parliament can put a question to the government in power, which may result in an investigation, or even in new legislation. But what guarantee do you have that you will be able to catch a minister’s attention or that he will listen to you? An individual acting alone has very little clout, and even less if he happens to belong to a minority. He has a much better chance of bringing his case before the courts, and if he has a good case he will obtain a remedy, a remedy which may not only benefit him but all others in the same situation.
Entrenching a charter of rights does not mean that Parliament can then sit back and do nothing. The committee was reminded of this by Dr. Noel Kinsella, chairman of the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission. I will loosely paraphrase what Mr. Kinsella said. He said that the courts are but one institution for the protection of human rights and that there are many others. The other two major institutions are the legislatures and Parliament, and also the people through public opinion and the voluntary sector. He said that we in Canada, in terms of the enhancement of human rights, must not come to the conclusion that a bill of rights in the Constitution is the final guarantee of human rights, since the great advancements in race relations in the United Kingdom have been made following upon the race relations act, in the United States following upon the civil rights act, and in Europe following upon the European convention.
The courts, the public, the press, Parliament, the legislatures—each and every one of us has a vital role to play if we are to continue to enhance human rights in modern Canadian society and to meet the needs of a modern Canada. That is the message we heard in the committee and that is why I urge this House to adopt the resolution.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Lloyd R. Crouse (South Shore): Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak on the government’s resolution respecting the Constitution of Canada. I do so because I consider it my duty and responsibility to speak out on behalf of the more than 68,000 people that I represent in my riding, who have consistently returned me to this House for 24 years through ten federal elections.
An hon. Member: You cannot last forever!
Mr. Crouse: Don’t you bank on it, my friend. I have pretty good staying power!
Since this proposal was first introduced October 15, 1980, I have received hundreds of letters from my constituents expressing their fears, anxieties and concerns for the future of Canada. I share their opinion that our Constitution should be a unifying document, one which brings joy and pride to the hearts of all Canadians. Unfortunately, this has not been the case, and many of us now realize that some of the unwise decisions made by this government in its constitutional proposals may well create a backlash which could inflict mortal wounds from which our confederation may never recover.
If Canada is strong enough to endure the blows already dealt to our national unity, we still could be confronted with constitutional provisions which, unless amended, will be permanent causes of regional alienation and dissent. We are all well aware, Mr. Speaker, of the long series of efforts to reach agreement on constitutional reform. On at least two occasions agreement was reached, but when the time came for ratification someone always lacked the energy or initiative or political will required to take the final step.
The long series of efforts and failures reached their climax at the last meeting of first ministers. However, I am not all that certain that meeting ever had a chance to succeed. I say that because of the unrealistic time constraints and objectives laid down at that time by the Right Hon. Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau). Both the pre-conference committee and the conference itself tried to reach agreement on much too broad a spectrum of reform, thereby opening up too many areas of disagreement. It is my opinion that if the committee and first ministers had concentrated on reaching agreement on an amending formula and patriation, I am confident it could have been reached. The way would then have been open for immediate patriation and impetus given to resolving the issues in an atmosphere of co-operation and good will.
I believe the time constraints placed on the committee and the conference were unrealistic. Negotiations of this type are, of necessity, slow and laborious; they require much patience, time and perseverance; they simply cannot be hurried. You cannot expect to plant an acorn today and sit under the shade of the oak tree tomorrow, and this seems to be one of the Prime Minsiter’s problems. With the Prime Minister insisting on unrealistic deadlines, the prospects for success are practically nil.
Another cause of failure was his almost total rejection of the viewpoints and concerns of the ten provincial premiers. In his philosophical approach to what he regards as Canadian nation-
hood, he held that Canada is more than the sum total of its provinces, that the federal government, rather than being a partner with the provincial governments, is a power above and apart, representing national interests which transcend those of the ten provincial governments combined.
While attaching great importance to his so-called people’s package, including the charter of rights, the Prime Minister was unresponsive to the equally important concerns of the provincial premiers in matters which affect not merely their regional interests but the well-being of the nation as a whole. The Prime Minister’s attitude is a viewpoint that I cannot accept.
The provincial governments, Mr. Speaker, exercise on behalf of the people of those provinces the powers given to them by our present Constitution. Practically every part of this country today is adversely affected by unresolved jurisdictional disputes involving the ownership and management of natural resources, including offshore mineral rights. When the premier of my province states that he does not believe the natural resources of Nova Scotia should be wrestled from the grasp of Nova Scotians, he is only saying what the people of that province want him to say and, by virtue of the Constitution, have the right to expect him to say on their behalf. This is what he must do. lf he did not take that stand he would be false to his duty and negligent in the responsibilities imposed upon him by those who elected him.
As one of the first Canadian provinces to have its own flag, Nova Scotians hold their traditions high. We are a proud people, proud of our heritage and proud of the fact that our forebears came to Nova Scotia from many lands across the sea; from Scotland, Ireland, England, France, Germany, Norway, Switzerland and Sweden, to name but a few. Some of my forebears came from the Rhenish Palatinate and some from Hanover in 1753, before Germany existed. All of these people came for one reason or another, to escape religious persecution, to establish new homes on their own lands where they could sink their roots and seek a new way of life free from harassment and persecution.
As Nova Scotians, we believe that the rights accruing to us before confederation are still ours. In fact, the British North America Act states that whatever the provinces had before confederation, such as mineral rights, they were to retain after confederation. This is spelled out in Section 109 of the BNA Act.
The first seed of ownership was planted in 1605 by the commission given to De Monts, that gallant and adventurous French explorer. It was further strengthened by the Royal Charter of 1621 given to Sir William Alexander. Then there were the treaties of Utrecht and Paris in 1713 and 1763. Our claims were expanded by the commissions of Cornwallis and other governors, as well as by the creation of the legislative assembly in 1758 and legislation passed by the government of Nova Scotia between 1758 and 1867.
From these facts it should be noted that our claims as Nova Scotians to our province and our mineral rights go back over many centuries, and I say to you, sir, that we are not about to give them up because of a unilateral decision made to gratify” the ego of one man. Our claims to offshore mineral rights are now threatened by this government, and I cite this example to indicate that the solution to our problems does not necessarily require constitutional amendments; what is required is a recognition that often the national and regional interests of the country are inseparably related.
The provincial governments must, therefore, be treated as equal partners of the federal government in the policy-making process through which solutions to these problems must be found. However, when the provincial governments made it clear that any amendments to the Constitution should guarantee their rights to the ownership of natural resources and that the priority of provincial economic policy should be reaffirmed and entrenched, the Prime Minister responded that he was not prepared to bargain, in his words, freedom for fish or fundamental rights for oil. Is it any wonder that under these circumstances the first ministers’ conference ended in failure.
The proper thing to do at that point, in my opinion, would have been to temporarily set aside all issues other than patriation and agreement on an amending formula which even then, in all probability, could have been reached. However, this course of action did not suit the Right Hon. Prime Minister who, instead, decided to embark upon a course of unilateral action to both repatriate and amend the Constitution despite warnings from most of Canada’s premiers that such action would have dire consequences for confederation.
Patriation per se is not a matter of disagreement among the Canadian people. Practically all are agreed that our Constitution should be our own statute, passed by our own Parliament and enshrined in this Parliament. I agree with that. It is equally true to say that patriation of our Constitution is not a matter of widespread public concern even after this Liberal government spent millions of dollars on television advertising to tell Canadians that life would be uncertain if the British North America Act did not return to Canada.
Mr. Ouellet: That is not true. We did not spend millions of dollars on that. That is totally untrue.
Mr. Crouse: The hon. gentleman says that is totally untrue. He is in cabinet so he would have the figures. When he makes a speech he can put the true figure on the record. Perhaps I have understated the amount and, if so, he can set the record straight.
I was saying the people are not as much concerned as we would have liked them to be. I say that to you and to the government, sir, because of the facts made known as a result of a recent Gallup poll taken among Canadians in which they answered that they regarded different matters as having urgency. Patriation would seem to have a very low priority. Canadians seem to believe that the really serious and urgent problems are inflation, unemployment, energy, balance of payments and budget deficits. I say to the government,
through you, sir, it is high time it took some action on these urgent economic problems.
Unfortunately, these problems do not seem to concern the Right Hon. Prime Minister. In my view, today he is a man on a mission, on a crusade to change if not the world, then at least Canada, in order to assist in reflecting his ideological and philosophical preferences, with never a thought for the wishes of the Canadian people. This man is on the last lap of his political career. Whether that lap takes one year or another election does not make any difference. He sees what he thinks is best for Canada and, with the single-mindedness of the true believer, is determined against all odds to achieve it. Call it what you like, disguise it as you will, what he seeks for Canada today resembles a socialist dictatorship in my view. If you do not like that term we can call it a centralized paternalistic system, where free choice is limited and where state control is excessive. He proposes that the collective should replace individualism, all in the name of the common good of the average citizen. I say to this House, that the common man’s individual liberties will be the casualties.
As the Right Hon. Prime Minister points out in all his writings, his background and leanings do not favour British parliamentary democracy nor a constitutional democracy. He knows better than the average Canadian that if he succeeds in getting human rights and language rights entrenched in the Constitution in the manner he proposes, parliamentary democracy in this country is dead, as will be the monarchy.
Inevitably, Canada will become a republic with a presidential system under the Prime Minister’s plan. Make no mistake, the constitutional proposal is entirely that of the Prime Minister, no one else, and he is pushing this proposal with all the force at his command.
What do we see from this side of the House? We see an uncritical group of Liberals blindly following the Pied Piper who blows the flute and leads them over the cliff to their destruction. Occasionally one will surface like Moby Dick and blow his spume into the air, then disappear below the surface, never to be seen again until he somehow reappears in his place to vote as his master dictates.
The over-all effect of this action and this resolution will be that the federal government will intrude ever deeper into our daily lives. There may be some who will claim I am being too critical of the Right Hon. Prime Minister, but I am merely stating truths as he has publicly recorded them. In fact, when Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Pelletier joined the Liberal Party in 1965, after taking a leave of absence from the NDP, they issued a prepared statement which said in part:
The undersigned are still following the same goals—they are continuing to adhere to the same political ideologies that they have for a long time set forth in “Cité Libre.” We don’t repudiate any of our convictions. We have only resolved to pursue elsewhere and in other ways the intellectual and social struggle which has always claimed us.
When he was justice minister he was taunted with some of his former writings and he responded by saying “everything I wrote I stand by”. Three years later—and this is one of the benefits of being in this House for a long time because one can remember these things—while defending a political decision he said, “I acted on the information I have been accumulating since I was three years old”.
This leads me to ask what information, what ideas have formed the basis for the right hon. gentleman’s actions. He has pinpointed three main sources for his ideas. In 1971 the Prime Minister said:
In my youth the people who influenced me the most were the Christian existentialists like Mounier. In his last key editorial before his death Emmanuel Mounier wrote in his review “Esprit”, “The proletariat must be allowed to continue the positive work of the communist party while eliminating all the poisons which are mixed therein. Such is one of our principal tasks for tomorrow.”
In 1966 Mr. Trudeau stated that he found Professor Harold Laski of the London School of Economics “the most stimulating and powerful influence” he had encountered. Laski’s single most important book, “A Grammar of Politics”, which the Prime Minister studied, laid out these central principles:
The necessarily federal character of society; the incompatibility of the sovereign state with that economic world order so painfully struggling to be born (communism); the antithesis between individual property rights in the essential means of production and the fulfilment of the democratic idea; the thesis that liberty is n concept devoid of real meaning except in the Context of equality, there cannot, in n word, be democracy unless there is socialism.
In 1976 Prime Minister Trudeau said:
In terms of economics, you know, I spent two years studying with Schumpeter and two years studying with Leontief, and if you want to know who is formenting my economic thinking you’d do better to think in terms of Leontief and Schumpeter.
I found that Schumpeter was Prime Minister Trudeau’s Harvard professor. As his major work the professor wrote “Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy” in which he said:
I have tried to show that a socialist form of society will inevitably emerge from an equally inevitable decomposition of capitalist society.
So it may reasonably be said that the Prime Minister’s ideas drawn from the writings of Schumpeter, Laski and Mounier have remained basically the same for the past 30 years.
Let us now look at some of the Prime Minister’s writings and compare them with his more recent statements and actions to see how they affect Canadians and will affect Canadians in the immediate future. In 1961 he said:
I should like to see socialists feeling free to espouse whatever political trends or to use whatever constitutional tools happen to fit each particular problem at each particular time.
Is that not exactly what the Prime Minister is doing today, using whatever tools suit him and suit this particular problem? What did Mr. Trudeau say in 1961 before he was Prime Minister.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Gatineau (Mr. Cousineau) on a point of order.
Mr. Cousineau: Mr. Speaker, last week I pointed out to the House that the hon. member was sinning against Citation 319 of Beauchesne’s fifth edition. I realize now it was no accident. He did so deliberately in a well-orchestrated way of mentioning the name of our Prime Minister.
Mr. Speaker, I believe he chooses to ignore the practice of this House.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The hon. member has called attention to the rules of the House whereby we should refer to hon. members by their constituencies, members of cabinet by their departments and the Prime Minister as the Prime Minister and not by their personal names.
Mr. Crouse: Mr. Speaker, this is not the first time the hon. member has taken the opportunity to do this. I should suggest to him if he wants to make a speech, he should rise and do so.
Mr. Blais: It is a legitimate point of order, and the Speaker has ruled on it.
Mr. Crouse: When I was quoting, I was quoting what Mr. Trudeau said in 1961. He was not then the Prime Minister nor a member of this House.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: I invite the hon. member to observe the custom of referring to people who are currently members of the House or members of the cabinet according to the custom, as I understand it, which usually prevails in this House.
Mr. Crouse: I will follow the custom, Mr. Speaker, as recommended by you.
An hon. Member: Don’t brag about it.
Mr. Crouse: the hon. gentleman likes to interrupt. He does not seem to know what the debate is all about. I cannot recall him making much of a contribution. If he will bear with me while I read into the record the writings of the Right Hon. Prime Minister, maybe he will learn a little bit about the man who is blindly leading him over the cliff to his own destruction. I will go on with what the Right Hon. Prime Minister said in 1961 when he was not prime minister.
Mr. Baker (Nepean-Carleton): When he was Mr. Trudeau.
Mr. Crouse: Yes, when he was Mr. Trudeau.
Some hon. Members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Crouse: In 1961, the present Prime Minister said: The nationalization of the instruments of production is now being considered less as an end than as a means, and one that might in many cases be replaced by more flexible processes of economic control and redistribution. The erroneous. liberal idea of property helped to emancipate the bourgeosie but is now hampering the march toward economic democracy.
In 1975, on national television, the Prime Minister stated:
We haven’t been able to make it work, the free market system—the government is going to have to take a larger role in running institutions. It means there is going to be not less authority in our lives but perhaps more.
Mr. Pepin: Quote your own books.
Mr. Crouse: I am quoting the Prime Minister’s own writings and I am quoting from his speeches. If the truth hurts, sir, you better stand up and defend your own group. Do not try to interrupt when I am trying to put the truth to what the Right Hon. Prime Minister has said to the Canadian people.
An hon. Member: You will have a heart attack.
Mr. Crouse: I won’t have a heart attack. I am enjoying every minute of it.
In 1976 the Right Hon. Prime Minister said—
Some hon. Members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Crouse: I must be hitting hard core pains over there. Listen to them squawk. Never before have I heard such grunting and growling out of those who are being led over the cliff. Never before when I have made a speech has this happened. Somewhere I must be hitting the truth.
Mr. Simmons: You are warping it.
Mr. Crouse: In 1976 the Prime Minister stated:
We haven’t been able to make even a modified free market system work in Canada to prevent the kinds of problems we are now experiencing.
There are many more quotes, Mr. Speaker. Perhaps you could keep a little order and keep the rabble over there down a little bit. I do not interrupt, sir, when they are making their speeches and I ask them to have the courtesy not to interrupt me.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Simmons: Is there a doctor in the House?
Mr. Crouse: There are many more quotes of the Prime Minister I could place on the record, but surely I have given this House enough to make all members realize the Prime Minister is a leader who is as arrogant as he is intelligent. Since he considers the free market system is no longer working, he and his henchmen have already started on their process of industrial nationalization with the purchase of Petrofina, We hear such things as: “never mind the price. Canadians will pay whatever we feel they can handle,” and “let the taxpayers pay.” The government has no worry over the large-scale loans to automobile companies. If they are not repaid, I expect this government will take over Chrysler so that Canadians can have their own cars. They may not be called Chryslers, they may simply be called Canadians, with a six under the hood, a four on the floor, with the government in your pocket, you will be driving along with your tongue in your cheek wondering what will come next.
Some hon. Members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Crouse: The Italian government owns Fiat.
Mr. Blackburn: They are doing a good job with Fiat.
Mr. Crouse: The Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce (Mr. Gray) has us on the road toward owning Chrysler.
I say to all Canadians that unless they want to give up all their freedoms and be subservient to one-party rule in Ottawa, wake up before it is too late. That is what I am saying to that group over there. I have them awake now, at least I have their attention. They have been asleep, they say, for the last 16 years. It is time they woke up.
Some hon. Members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Crouse: On a Friday afternoon, we can all have a little fun.
I just stated the Prime Minister’s views on property ownership. Having heard his views, hon. members now know why the Right Hon. Prime Minister does not intend to have the right to own property included in his constitution. During discussions at committee stage, the Progressive Conservatives moved an amendment to the resolution requesting that property rights be included in the charter of rights.
Property rights were agreed to by the Solicitor General (Mr. Kaplan) who gave a solemn commitment to the committee, in the absence of the Minister of Justice (Mr. Chrétien). However, this commitment did not meet with the approval of the Prime Minister or the other socialists in the House who travel under the NDP banner. As a result of the deals made behind the scenes, the government broke its promise to protect this important right that millions of Canadians feel and firmly believe should be included in the Constitution. Every person who understands common law has looked upon his home as his castle. I ask the government through you, sir, why not entrench property rights in the Constitution? Thousands of immigrants, including my ancestors, came to this country for one thing, namely, the right to own land and to be free, because they could no longer do so in their own country, or because their land had been taken from them.
The charter proposed includes a series of rights, many of which fall under provincial jurisdiction. Many of the rights included in Mr. Diefenbaker’s Bill of Rights are also included in the Prime Minister’s, but one important right is missing; that is, the right to own property, property which cannot be taken from you except by lawful means following a fair hearing.
What are the implications of this act upon the average Canadian? It does not mean that our homes, businesses or farms will necessarily be taken away from us, but it does mean they will go without protection under the new Constitution. Yet, I say to you, sir, with all the sincerity at my command that property ownership is the fundamental basis for freedom in any democracy, and that is the point.
The loss of guaranteed property rights strikes fear in the hearts of many Canadians. Fear, like hate and love is a very positive moving force. It was fear that caused many seamen to refuse to sail with Columbus. It was not that they feared the sea because I presume they were good seamen. It was not that they feared the ships; although they were small, they were seaworthy, but they feared setting sail with a captain who refused to tell them where they were going, the length of the voyage, its cost or their ultimate destination.
An hon. Member: What a trip.
Mr. Crouse: Yes, and what a trip you fellows are going on. If only you could wake up and realize what a trip you are taking.
I say to the government, through you, Mr. Speaker, and to government supporters, this is similar to the situation we have in Canada today. The Right Hon. Prime Minister’s policies have already changed the composition and the direction of Canada. Look at how our traditions have been violated, undermined, ridiculed and obliterated. We will never be the same, and only one man, the Prime Minister, has done it. He is still doing it. This constitutional package, which is taking up so much time of this House and of the country, is really only the tip of his iceberg. In my opinion, our present Prime Minister is the most determined prime minister Canada has ever had. He is also the most unprincipled in his efforts to achieve the ends he sees as desirable.
Having read much of his writings, it is obvious he has borrowed and copied many of his ideas from Machiavelli, Marx, Richelieu and Lenin.
Some hon. Members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Crouse: Hon. members over there are laughing. I hope some of these men on the other side can read. If they can read, they would note that what I have said was quoted from their own leader and I have cited the books he said he found most interesting and desirable.
It is obvious he has borrowed much of his beliefs from the men I have mentioned. He embodies a doctrinaire elitism which seeks to bring the people to a certain level of understanding or acceptance which he thinks is best. He is a zealot, perhaps even a fanatic and terribly dangerous, just as any fanatic is dangerous.
This is unfortunate for Canada at this time for he has a belief, a single-minded conviction that he and only he is right. Let us face it, the only ones who can now stop the Prime Minister in his madness are in the Liberal Party and that party is now, unfortunately, composed on people who only obey orders, even if those orders will ultimately destroy this nation.
The government in placing this resolution before this House insists in incorporating in it a referendum proposal which would give the central government unilateral power to change our Constitution without any reference to the elected representatives or elected governments of any province.
This is the proposal, and on that premise this government, after denying our provincial governments their right to prior consultation, has the unmitigated gall to ask Great Britain to vote on Canadian basic rights and freedoms. I say this is an insult to every provincial government and to every Canadian. It is a surrender of Canadian sovereignty by the present government which seeks to justify its actions on the grounds that we could never reach agreement on these important questions in Canada. To strengthen their argument, we are
told by many speakers that Canadian federalism is a 54-year record of failure. I do not accept that allegation.
Prior to the advent of this present Liberal government in 1968, Canada and Canadians were not doing all that badly. We have not been debating the Constitution for 54 years. The record will show that since 1927 this matter has come up in federal-provincial discussions on 48 different dates, which is something like one day per year. This should indicate to everyone concerned that there is something difficult within the problem and, therefore, it is not something to be solved by some fancy words or by one man’s desire to impose his views on the whole country.
The Canadian federal system run by reasonable governments has produced agreements on many topics, namely medicare, the Canada Pension Plan, equalization payments and hospital insurance, to name but a few. All of these agreements were reached through a process of negotiation and consensus but now this will no longer happen and, in future, changes will be made unilaterally by one government in Ottawa.
By tearing up our federal traditions, we risk tearing apart our entire country. I say to this government, through you, sir, that charters of rights, amending formulae and referenda are not symbols but are the practical tools by which our nation will be governed in the future. All laws and especially fundamental constitutional laws are not worth the paper they are written on unless they represent a consensus arrived at by discussion and debate. You cannot force this bill down the throats of Canadians unilaterally without creating anarchy and rebellion. We are close to that now with eight provincial premiers, as of this morning, raising as loudly as they can their objections to this legislation, this resolution, this proposal.
Some hon. Members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The hon. member for South Shore has the floor.
Mr. Ouellet: He is abusing it.
Mr. Crouse: I never knew the truth could hurt so much. I do not believe there is any provision in this constitutional proposal which is more objectionable than the permanent enshrinement of a referendum to change Canada’s Constitution. This is not just any referendum. It is a power to be given to the federal government to break a so-called deadlock, a deadlock that would be solely and totally determined by the federal government. It is a referendum which could be used to bypass the people’s elected representatives and the provincial legislatures. It is a referendum which could be used by a majority to override the rights of minorities, the very people which the proposal purports to protect.
For reasons I have mentioned, I intend to vote against this resolution. I believe if it is passed by a majority vote that it will be the beginning of the end of our nation as we presently know and love it. I hope I will always be able to say I am a Canadian, a free Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship God in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong and free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.
Some hon. Members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Crouse: It seems my right to do just that is being questioned here this afternoon. It is the thin edge of the wedge when you cannot make a speech freely expressing your own views, opposing that which you believe wrong without the herd’s uncontrolled yapping, trying to prevent me from putting forth those views in which I strongly believe. That is the very essence of my speech. Already our rights are being eroded. Those words I stated are the final words in the Bill of Rights as established by the Right Hon. John Diefenbaker. I say in closing that they are as true today as they were when they were first passed by the Parliament of Canada.
Hon. Steven E. Paproski (Edmonton North): Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the hon. member for South Shore (Mr. Crouse) on a wonderful speech. We on this side appreciate what he has to say. I also want to comment on speeches made in this House by the hon. member for Surrey-White Rock (Mr. Friesen) and the hon. member for Waterloo (Mr. McLean).
I congratulate all my colleagues on both sides of the House who sat on the constitutional committee. They did an admirable job and are to be commended. In particular, I congratulate my colleague for Provencher (Mr. Epp) who led the official opposition in the Constitution committee. He did a tremendous job.
The people of Canada are facing the most serious constitutional crisis since confederation. As the Right Hon. Leader of the Official Opposition (Mr. Clark) has often stated, the crisis has come about as a result of years of negligence and indifference on the part of the Liberal party.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) has adopted an intransigent attitude on the question of constitutional change. All of the provinces have been made to feel they are simply fifth wheels on Ottawa’s chariot. The provinces are realistic in demanding consultation in order to determine the shape and style of a new Canada.
Canada’s future must be decided by the provinces and the federal government in council together. Let me say this, the future of Canada will not and cannot be decided by one man, Pierre Trudeau—
Some hon. Members: Order.
Mr. Paproski: —to suit his own private view of confederation. Canada’s BNA Act was put together in 1867 by the provinces sitting around a table.
Mr. Blais: It was put together by Sir John A. Macdonald, if you want to know.
Mr. Paproski: If it must be rewritten at this late date; let it be done in the same way as the original act was framed.
Mr. Knowles: The minister and I know, we were there.
Mr. Paproski: I know Stanley Knowles was there. All you have to do is look at the pictures and you can see him.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The hon. member should be referred to as the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre.
Mr. Blais: Well, Steve, at least you are funny.
Mr. Paproski: I do not intend to be funny. I think this is a very serious and pertinent topic, and I do not consider it to be funny. The minister says I am trying to be amusing. It is Friday afternoon; I think we can inject a little bit of humour, but this is a serious matter and I wish he would take my remarks as a serious speech.
I personally feel that the Constitution should be patriated unchanged, except for an amending formula and that amendments should be made in Canada by agreement
with the provinces. I say with some confidence that the provinces would all be ready to settle for less power if they could be assured of more consideration by and consultation with the federal government. Let me say that one more time. I say with some confidence that the provinces would all be ready to settle for less power if they could be assured of more consideration by and consultation with the federal government.
Mr. Rossi: You know they will never agree to that.
Mr. Paproski: You would be surprised.
The requirements on what a workable constitution for a federal state must do for its people are indeed stiff. First of all, any constitution, and particularly a federal one like ours, is the general directing plan for the common life of its people. It is the supervisor of the life of the society. But the people who share in a federal system take different views of life and opportunity. Those views are ingrained in them by history, experience, occupation and inherited attitudes. Our greatest mistake in a federal system is to be unhappy because we cannot live in close unity like a loving family. If we were like that, we would not be struggling to live under a federal system. I believe this struggle arises largely out of excessive centralization of power in Ottawa. The malfunctioning of the party system in Canada is one of the results of this excessive centralization.
The policies of the Liberal Party have produced an acute polarization of votes in this country. There was originally—and this is still unresolved—a conflict between the Francophone and Anglophone communities.
A conflict due to a large extent to the personality of the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau). And I quote in this regard journalist Jacques Poisson who wrote in the newspaper Le Devoir dated February 9:
—Mr. Trudeau is, at one and the same time and to various degrees, the spoilt brat, the constitutional despot . . . the poisoner of the Canadian political climate.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Paproski: My colleague, the hon. member for Laurier (Mr. Berger) read something about Canada in the New York Times of February 8. I appreciated the hon. member’s remarks, but why did he not read the article in Le Devoir of February 9? I do not wish to comment on some of the beautiful adjectives Monsieur Poisson used with respect to our Prime Minister, but let me just read a few things.
All told, Mr. Trudeau’s public personality embraces, in varying degrees, a tyrannical brat, constitutional despot… crazed manipulator of human marionettes, demon of paradox—
I do not even know some of these words.
—export . . . intimidator, master of contempt, poisoner of Canada’s political climate, a narcissist searching for a cosmic mirror in which to reflect his ego.
Constitution, c’est MOI; democracy, c’est MOI; reason, c’est MOI; common sense, c’est MOI.
Mr. Simmons: Who wrote that?
Mr. Paproski: This is a great article by Jacques Poisson in Le Devoir on February 9. I noticed that Pravda has also endorsed the Prime Minister and what he is doing here in Canada. With friends like that, who needs enemies?
Today there is an emerging conflict between east and west. Canada is a land of diversity. Our Constitution must therefore contain enough flexibility in its terms to enable us to come to compromises that will let us flourish in our diversity.
My father brought his family here from Poland and the Ukraine in 1929. Veen priyeekhav do Kanadi: that means “He came to Canada”. My father did not come just to one town, he did not come just to one province. He came to Canada.
Mr. Simmons: Hear, hear! Come on over, Steve.
Mr. Paproski: He came to the Canada as seen through the eyes of our Fathers of Confederation which, despite those strained economic times, still offered freedom, opportunity and prosperity.
In this debate on the Constitution what we are really doing is acknowledging the uncomforting reality that the vision and hopes of men like my father and of generations before him may never more prevail in Canada.
The Liberal government has presented a resolution which contains a Canadian charter of rights and freedoms which makes no reference to the affirmation that “the Canadian nation is founded upon principles that acknowledge the supremacy of God” as it is stated in the Canadian Bill of Rights of 1960 brought in by the Progressive Conservative government of that day. The opportunity and prosperity which is sought by all those coming to Canadian shores, in addition to cherished freedom, is also being undermined by this government.
The amendment presented by my colleague, the hon. member for Wellington-Dufferin-Simcoe (Mr. Beatty) reiterated a right which had been given to Canadians by the
aforementioned bill of rights, and that was “the right of the individual to enjoyment of property and the right not to be deprived thereof except by due process of law”. This right now is being threatened.
The vision of a country which offered opportunity to pursue goals and aspirations in freedom has for many years attracted peoples from different lands to our country. Canada is people, and it is this very distinctive characteristic of our different peoples within Canada that distinguishes us from our southern neighbour and other anglophone countries in the world.
It is this embracing of the diversities of English-speaking Canada and the distinctiveness of French-speaking Canada that truly reflects the Canadian identity. It is the multicultural character of our country, profound in history and rich in traditions, which must be fostered and protected if we are truly to respect individual and collective freedoms.
I must say that I telephoned the Minister of State for Multiculturalism (Mr. Fleming) this afternoon—or my office did-to say I would be speaking. I hoped the minister would be in the House. I know he is busy, but as a former minister of multiculturalism I wanted him to hear some of the things I have to say this afternoon.
Mr. Blais: Your heart is in the right place.
Mr. Paproski: The Liberal government has done nothing to promote a sincere and significant contribution to the development of multiculturalism in Canada. The so-called permanent policy on multiculturalism and its present minister are a shame. Just what is Canada without the recognition of its diverse cultural origins or without the official acknowledgement that over one-third of our population is neither of French nor English origin?
Multiculturalism goes beyond the entertainment novelty of song and dance. It is a history, a language and a way of life contributing to the Canadian social environment. It is certainly not something to be drummed out at election time or when the government needs to improve its public relations image.
The present minister in the Liberal government is a perfect example of what I have just said. That is why I said I telephoned his office. I wanted him to be aware of what I am saying to him today. One wonders about his priorities. Is he really promoting the multicultural nature of this country or is he concentrating on selling the Liberal government?
An hon. Member: The former.
Mr. Paproski: He is the minister of propaganda, the Goebbels of the Liberal Party.
The Progressive Conservative Party of Canada recognizes the multicultural reality of the Canadian society and is committed to developing this premise. We should not simply accept or tolerate Canada’s multicultural nature. We must celebrate it as a formidable guarantee of our uniqueness as a nation and our continued diversity and freedom as a people. In keeping with this premise, the cabinet of the Leader of the Opposition has reflected this diversity of backgrounds— and I must mention in this context the Hnatyshyns, the Mazankowskis and the Paproskis, that great Irish team! No other cabinet in all of Canada’s 112 or 113 years of history has had such a wide representation of talent and expertise. This cabinet was moving toward the enhancement of the multicultural program by proposing an upgrading of the status of this program within the structure of the Department of the Secretary of State.
In keeping with this commitment, the Leader of the Official Opposition last year established a new program within his office and appointed Michel Lamoureux as his special assistant for multiculturalism; he not only speaks French but also Italian, Spanish and other languages, and before I am finished it will include Ukrainian and Polish. Most Canadians, however, are really unaware of a multiculturalism policy in Canada, and those who are aware of such a policy perceive it only in the context of allowing immigrants to maintain their customs and folk traditions.
In one united and independent Canada, Canadians should enjoy effective equality in political and socioeconomic rights, irrespective of their ethnic origin, religion or mother tongue. All ethnocultural communities, from the Anglo-Celtic and French to the smallest ones, contribute to the Canadian cultural mosaic, and their cultural activities should be given moral and material support by the state in proportion to the groups’ willingness to survive.
Section 27 in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in this constitutional resolution refers to multicultural heritage. The section reads as follows:
27. This charter shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with the preservation and enhancement of the multicultural heritage of Canadians.
These three lines are an insult to the non-English and non-French citizens of our country. This section is one of interpretation, not one of recognition that over one-third of Canada’s population is neither of English nor of French descent.
I do hope that the Prime Minister of Canada and the Minister of State for Multiculturalism will seriously reconsider section 27 of the resolution and will enshrine in the Canadian Constitution the recognition that is due to the members of Canada’s ethnocultural communities.
Hon. members opposite may think this is not a serious matter, and I hope the President of the Privy Council (Mr. Pinard) is not laughing at what I have had to say today. I have a lot of respect for francophones across this country as well as for anglophones, and I would like to see the same respect accorded to one third of our people who are neither Anglophone nor Francophone. I hope we will keep this in mind and consider it very seriously.
Hon. Alvin Hamilton (Qu’Appelle-Moose Mountain): Mr. Speaker, I realize that at this time of the day my remarks will have to be split into two parts, so I will take the opportunity in my opening remarks to comment in a general way on some of
the highlights of this debate which has taken place so far. I have deliberately, as I did in the second reading debate, watched each of the speakers, listened carefully to what they have said and tried to put it into perspective.
I think the highlight of this debate, which is equivalent to the third reading of an Ordinary bill, took place outside the House when the young hon. member for Yorkton-Melville (Mr. Nystrom) who, having been named the spokesman of his party on constitutional matters and having led the debate on behalf of his party in committee with distinction, moderation and sincerity on national television which covered that committee, went before the television cameras this week, along with three other members of his party, and told the people of Canada that he and the others could not vote for this resolution. It was a difficult thing for those four men to do. I respect that type of courage, not only because it was demonstrated by a member of a party which is different from my own but because it represents to me something that is very important.
This demonstrates that in every party there must always be someone who, on a tremendously important issue like this, will put the principles of his country first before party loyalty. I include in these remarks the hon. member for Edmonton East (Mr. Yurko) in our party who, after a great deal of struggle and strain within himself and after talking it over with the caucus, announced that he will vote for the resolution, and he gave his reasons publicly. To my knowledge, not one Conservative member denied him that right. Now we see four members of the NDP saying publicly something which was said by the leader of our party on October 2. I will quote the hon. member for Yorkton-Melville from the press release of his statement, a very simple statement, which reads as follows:
Since I feel so strongly that this resolution ignores federalism—ignores the Canadian way—and will further divide the country, I have informed my leader, Mr. Broadbent, and my caucus that I will oppose this resolution when it comes to a vote in the House of Commons.
An hon. Member: Surprise, surprise.
Mr. Hamilton (Qu’Appelle-Moose Mountain): I have heard members of the House attack the party for being divided, and I heard a Conservative member, who disagreed very strongly with the NDP, come to their defence yesterday. The hon. member for Yorkton-Melville went on to say in his statement:
—my basic opposition rests on the wrongness of the process.
This is the heart and soul of this entire debate. One cannot build a foundation or a house, let alone a constitution of a nation, unless there is purity of thought and purpose. One can build what only looks like a foundation or a house, but it is not a house unless it receives the time, care and attention it deserves.
I would think Canadians are now somewhat more proud of Parliament than they were two or three weeks ago. They have heard a member of this party declare his sincere convictions which were different from those of the rest of us; he is one among a hundred. Also they have heard four members of the NDP stand up and declare their sincere convictions. They know they can put more trust in a party which allows independence of mind on fundamental principles than they can when there is solid voting.
Among the 150 Liberals who sit opposite, I am sure there must be some who are concerned that they are destroying, by their stand in this House, the sincere position of Mr. Claude Ryan, the leader of the Liberal party in Quebec. Also they are destroying—and perhaps they want to—the position of the head of the government of Quebec, the Honourable René Levesque. These men are Canadians. The latter honestly confessed that he does not like the Anglos, particularly if they live in the city of Montreal or in London, England, but that he does not have anything against the rest of us.
An hon. Member: Who says?
Mr. Hamilton (Qu’Appelle-Moose Mountain): In 1961 he stood up in Ottawa as a member of the Lesage government, when he accepted the presidency of the Canadian Council of Resource Ministers, and stated that the only way the federal system would be saved was by co-operation.
An hon. Member: He was a Liberal then.
Mr. Hamilton (Qu’Appelle-Moose Mountain): Yes, he was a Liberal then.
An hon. Member: Today he is a separatist.
Mr. Hamilton (Qu’Appelle-Moose Mountain): He believed that there was good in Canada, if we worked together and co-operated.
An hon. Member: What is he today?
Mr. Hamilton (Qu’Appelle-Moose Mountain): If one asks him today why he left the Liberal Party—
An hon. Member: It was because he was a separatist.
Mr. Hamilton (Qu’Appelle-Moose Mountain): —he will say publicly and honestly, as he has done many times, that when he became a minister in the Lesage government he had no trouble getting co-operation from the government of the day from 1960 to 1963, but that he was faced with a new type of co-operative federalism in 1963.
During the Diefenbaker period more agreements were signed by the federal government with the provincial governments than at any other time in the history of confederation. These agreements dealt with matters mostly under provincial jurisdiction, but in the interests of developing a stronger Canada agreements were made with the provinces to carry these things forward.
We have heard in this debate that we would never have had a hospitalization plan or a medicare plan under this type of resolution. But in a constitution, in respect of which one thinks of working together, with sovereign rights held by provinces in certain fields and others held by the federal government, but both agreeing in advance that they will never break apart, one
could always get agreement if there was a willingness to co-operate.
I was personally able to make agreements with Premier Duplessis. Surely he was a nationalist. My colleague at that time, the minister of labour, Mike Starr, made agreements with Duplessis concerning education, roads, forestry and power. If we could make agreements with strong nationalists in the province of Quebec who were yielding to no one in their awareness of their distinct culture, then why can other governments not do it?
Unfortunately in 1963 we inherited a prime minister who thought co-operative federalism meant calling the provinces in, sitting them down ten across the desk, listening to the civil servants behind them, and telling those provinces what they were to do. Unfortunately, for this late prime minister, he was up against six or seven of the toughest provincial premiers. It was like murderer’s row across from him. There was Stanfield, Smallwood, Lesage, Robarts, Duff Roblin, Manning and Bennett. Who would want to take on those ten fellows and try to tell them what they were going to do? Everyone knows that Premier Lesage ran prime minister Pearson off the field of battle in no time. Pearson had to sacrifice his own ministry to bring peace between the federal government and the provinces.
In the last number of years the Canadian way of doing things by consensus has been steadily destroyed. Today we are debating a way of life in Canada. It has been put best by the hon. member for Rosedale (Mr. Crombie) when he said that it was really a question of consensus or confrontation. The same comment was made by the hon. member for Provencher (Mr. Epp) and other people. The Canadian way and the only way a federal system will work is when everyone is treated as an equal, regardless of which level of government is concerned, until it comes time to pay, and then there is a little bit of argument. This issue of consensus versus confrontation as a technique was used successfully by governments of all political stripes for over 100 years, but within the last ten years they have experienced failure.
May I call it four o’clock?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: It being four o’clock, the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members’ business as listed on today’s Order Paper, namely, public bills, notices of motions and private bills.