Canada, House of Commons Debates, “Resolution Respecting Constitution Act”, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess (16 March 1981)
By: Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Canada, House of Commons Debates, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, 1981 at 8272-8308.
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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. Terry Sargeant (Selkirk-Interlake): Mr. Speaker, in my comments on Friday, when I made the bulk of my contribution to this debate, I mentioned that I was not totally happy with the package before us. It does not provide the kind of base upon which to build the Canada I would like to see. I also mentioned that I am not entirely happy with the process we have followed. I do not speak necessarily of unilateral action. I have been a bit unhappy with the lack of honesty of many of the people involved in this process of Constitution-making. I also pointed out that there are some things in this package which I consider to be of great importance. For those reasons I said that, although I was not entirely happy, I was prepared to support this document, and I will be proud of it when it becomes part of Canadian law.
In my concluding remarks on Friday, I referred specifically to the equalization clause and resource management clause in the Constitution. I pointed out that I consider these to be of great importance to the future of Canada.
I now want to return to my comments and say that the one thing in this document that is most important for me personally is the inclusion of the charter of rights. I have long believed that an entrenched charter of rights was very important for Canada. I have long been a champion of human rights for Canadians and, indeed, for all people of the world.
I have long been horrified by many of the violations of human rights committed throughout the history of Canada. One of the most famous has been quoted often in the last few months, namely the treatment of Japanese Canadians throughout our history, not only during the Second World War, Japanese Canadians lived in this country for three generations before being given the vote.
There have been other violations of human rights, such as the padlock laws of Quebec, the attempt to muzzle the press in Alberta, the many instances of unjustified strikes breaking throughout Canada, the IWA in Newfoundland, the Weyburn strike of the late thirties, the Winnipeg strike of 1919 and the Fleck strike in Centralia a year or so ago. Then, of course, there was the famous instance of the War Measures Act of 1970 when some 450 Quebecers were held without just cause, and the shameful abuse of that act’s terms carried on by the then mayor of Vancouver, Tom Campbell, who used the act to rid the city of unemployed young people whom he simply disliked.
I ask myself over the years: This is happening in my country, my Canada? I just cannot believe it, It is for this reason that I believe we must entrench human rights. These rights must be protected by the law and courts of this country; it is not something that can be left to the legislatures of Canada. I need only refer to the padlock laws and instances involving the press. As my colleague, the hon. member for Burnaby (Mr. Robinson), said in his speech in this debate:
The time has come to recognize that Canadians all over the land have fundamental rights and freedoms which no government can arbitrarily take away.
I might point out, as others in my caucus have done, that the CCF and NDP have long been champions of human rights. Indeed, in the Regina Manifesto of 1933, the twelfth and thirteenth policy proposals called for freedom and social jus-
tice. It was the CCF government under Tommy Douglas which in 1947 legislated the first bill of rights in Saskatchewan. Over the years the Canadian Labour Congress, and such outstanding Canadian democratic socialists as the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) and F. R. Scott, have fought for human rights in this country.
It is my firm belief, Mr. Speaker, that a charter of rights must be entrenched now, before patriation, If not, I think it likely that we would never get such a charter. Why do I say this? Because, frankly and with all due respect, I do not trust some of our premiers. I need only to refer to the Premier of my province, Sterling Lyon. As I said on Friday, as a Manitoban I am somewhat ashamed of his stance on this package. His tnain and often only point of contention with the package has been the entrenched bill of rights. One is sometimes led to believe that the soon to be former Premier of Manitoba does not believe that Canadians are entitled to the enjoyment of fundamental rights. Mr. Lyon has been described by a leading Canadian journalist as “the reincarnation of a seventeenth century village reeve.”
An hon. Member: That is an insult to the reeves.
Mr. Sargeant: At no time has this been truer than in his approach to the charter. My hon. friend from Burnaby said in his speech on February 23, 1981, as reported at page 7596 of Hansard:
We know where the premiers stand. We know where Sterling Lyon, the Premier of Manitoba, stands on the charter of rights. He said that we have not:
“…had the experience of significant rights, entrenched in the Constitution. inhibiting the development of new rights, such as the rights of handicapped people, or the right to privacy”.
In other words, we should not be putting the rights of the handicapped in the Constitution because we have no experience with them. Mr. Lyon says it is not the Canadian way to give Canadians fundamental rights and that:
“Manitoba’s position was broadly supported by a majority of the provinces”.
He says that entrenchment of rights is contrary to traditional and successful parliamentary government and that:
“There is no historical justification for the entrenchment of a charter of rights—”.
I would like to repeat the question asked that day by the hon. member for Burnaby.
What evidence does he have that Premier Lyon is prepared to change his mind today?
—prepared to allow the hopes and aspirations of the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who are handicapped, and the aboriginal peoples, women’s groups and others to depend on the whims of Premier Lyon of Manitoba? I say no. I say we should move on this charter today, and move with pride.
I recognize and welcome some of the very important changes that have guaranteed basic rights for handicapped persons, for multicultural groups and my French-speaking brothers and sisters across this land, and for women. Some of these rights were granted immediately, without a fight; others had to be fought for. Some, such as women’s rights, could with some slight changes be greatly strengthened, but the issue upon which my support turned was the matter of native rights. Given my continued discomfort at supporting a Liberal document, I would have found it almost impossible to support had native rights not been entrenched.
I lived and worked with native Canadians for many years in a community in northern Manitoba. In my constituency there are 11 Indian reserves and many more Métis communities. I have seen first hand, too often, the disgraceful living conditions to which we whites, newcomers to this land, have relegated our natives. Once again, I do not find the native rights amendment to be ideal; it could be much stronger. Indeed, I hope to see accepted an amendment put forward by this party that will strengthen the native and aboriginal rights clause.
As well, I was somewhat displeased with the process followed here. I was at the dinner of the First Nation’s Conference here in Ottawa last spring. I heard the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) promise the Indian people a full role in the development of our Constitution. I then saw him completely renege on this promise and I would like to know why.
I was displeased with a second aspect of the struggle for entrenchment of these rights. As I said earlier, I question the intellectual honesty of most of the participants in this whole constitution process. Why was the inclusion of native and aboriginal rights not automatic? Should the need for such a guarantee not have been self-evident and not merely granted to secure my vote and those of my colleagues? Is this Constitution writing or political gamesmanship?
Let me tell the House that nevertheless I was one very pleased and proud person when I learned we had finally won the battle to have these rights entrenched. I share the belief of my caucus colleagues and native groups across the country that if we did not get these rights guaranteed now we would have lost the fight forever. We simply could not have relied on the provinces to add these rights at a later date; to have lost these rights would have been to betray the trust of the native and aboriginal peoples of Canada. I believe this victory of including these rights to be of profound historical importance, that it will become the single most important clause in this package, and for that reason alone the package is worth-supporting. After 114 years as a nation we are finally admitting that the people who inhabited this land for thousands of years before we came do have some rights. As my friend, the hon. member for Nunatsiaq (Mr. Ittinuar), said on February 18 in this House, as reported at page 7448 of Hansard:
The recognition and affirmation of aboriginal rights at the constitutional level provides protection against the erosion of these rights. It means that federal government lawyers can never again argue against the existence of aboriginal rights, as they did in court—
But—and unfortunately, there always seem to be “but’s” to Liberal proposals—these rights, now constitutionally guaranteed, must be lived up to. The government must not think that now that they have entrenched these rights they can go back to their old ways of dealing with our native peoples. Indians, Inuit and Métis are going to expect and demand drastic changes. Many of these changes will be attitudinal and constitutional, many merely technical, but they must be brought about and brought about now.
In his speech my friend the hon. member for Cowichan-Malahat-The islands (Mr. Manly), my party’s native affairs critic, issued challenges to the government to prove by action how serious it is about the recognition of these rights. I want to add a warning to that challenge. There are 32 New Democrats in this corner of the House and thousands more across the land who are going to be hounding the government constantly to ensure that this guarantee of rights is turned into meaningful action and does not become merely words on paper.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: I regret to interrupt the hon, member but the time allotted to him has expired.
Mr. Bernard Loiselle (Verchères): Mr, Speaker, the speeches delivered in the House by hon. members surely attest to the historical significance of the majority report of the Special Joint Committee of the Senate and the House of Commons on the Constitution of Canada.
Mr. Speaker, this debate is all about our country, its independence and the political shape it will take. It is all about the future of Canadians and the protection of individual citizens in our society. Of course we do have immediate economic, social and cultural needs which Parliament should be tackling. The government is busy governing, whereas Parliament affects the course of the nation’s ship by steering to port or to starboard. Right now, Mr. Speaker, the House is looking after a review of the orders for the captain and his crew.
When the Dominion of Canada was created by the proclamation of the British North America Act in 1867, the deciding vote was prompted by the desire to attain security, well-being and prosperity. The charter served us well over a century which was highlighted by unprecedented festivities centred in Montreal during the centennial year. Nonetheless, throughout the second half of that century Canadians were increasingly concerned as they felt the need to improve the political structure of the young federation and to strengthen the essential foundation of an independent federative country.
The Right Hon. Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) took the opportunity to enter politics to help the Canadian nation grow and to serve Canadians. With utmost patience this statesman, regardless of what may be said, worked in the national political system for 12-odd years to plan, refine, negotiate, coax, adjust, push and yield so as to reach an agreement on the subject of a Constitution, of an amending formula and of a charter of rights and freedoms, for our Prime Minister considered that the first step in politics is to seek the support of the majority of our people.
Mr. Speaker, as a member fulfilling in this House a national commitment toward all Canadians, I am proud to be able to offer my support and, in addition, as spokesman for the riding of Vercheres, to voice my approval for the task which the Prime Minister began anew and which was changed and modified during the negotiations with the provinces, the opposition parties and the people that appeared before the joint committee of the House and the Senate. Far from procrastinating still more, Mr. Speaker, time has come for us to get down to brass tacks and to assume our responsibilities. We must decide what we want, yet leaving ourselves enough elbow room to make constitutional changes in the future. Time has come for us to give clear orders to the current and future leaders of the national ship, a precise direction and course as well as political parameters tailored to contemporary realities in a shrunken and politically unstable world. I have in mind the problems of the major political forces, the so-called North-South difficulties, the religious upheavals, the disparities between economically strong and weak regions. In that context we would be better advised to stop promising to do something later. We must act now to reinforce the vested rights of every Canadian which are protected by a strong political regime in an independent, well balanced and just country.
A host of historic reasons require that we act now. During these debates we have heard many times that for 54 years we have been seeking the perfect solution acceptable to one and all, Alas, there is no perfection in this world, certainly not in the political actualities where we must assume and discharge the responsibility to act according to the best criteria available. However, so that we will act more confidently this time, I would like to make a brief survey of the reasons for our failures in past constitutional discussions. The problem stems originally from the constitutional fault which the Fathers of Confederation did not detect in the 1867 British North America pact. The impasse in the Canadian federalism of which we must break out today is the result of its historic evolution based on that text, indeed half a century of discussions among specialists and politicians is implied in this debate. Mr. Speaker, to highlight the reason for the federal pact and not a strict piece of legislation of 1867, I take as witness a respected authority of those days, the Hon. J. Brown, who on February 28, 1865, said in the debate leading to confederation, and I quote:
There is another reason why the union cannot be legislative: it would have been impossible to have it adopted. It was simply a matter of either accepting a federal union or ending negotiations. Not only were our friends from Lower Canada against it, but so were the delegates from the maritime provinces as well, We had no choice, it was going to be a federal union or nothing at all.
The long-awaited birth of our country was not easy and, Canadians being traditionally cautious, we decided to Canadianize our constitution in the 1931 Statute of Westminster. Although we had the ideal opportunity to take charge of our own affairs, our political prudence made us miss out on an appropriate amending formula. Under the provisions of that legislation the British parliament kept very limited powers: it could legislate on behalf of Canada, but our country remained free to accept that legislation.
It could amend the Canadian Constitution but only at Canada’s request and Canada would thereafter have full and complete authority to legislate in matters of international scope. Britain agreed to the requests made by Canada at the Imperial conferences of 1926 and 1930, and Canada thereby became a free and independent nation in control of its destiny. That is clearly stated in the Balfour report where it defines the Commonwealth with respect to Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. They are, it says, independent and equal communities within the British empire. They are in no way subjugated to one another. Unfortunately, since we missed out on the amending formula, we were still not completely free from London. That is why a third attempt was made at the 1935 federal-provincial conference. It was recommended that a task force be set up to consider the best way of amending the Constitution. Despite 11 sittings, the task force did not come up with an adequate amending formula. Pursuant to a request made in 1949 by the Canadian Parliament to the British parliament, the British North America act was amended to allow the Canadian Parliament to amend the act in matters not coming under the jurisdiction of the provinces. In that case, Ottawa acted unilaterally without provincial consent.
The following year, under the government of Louis St. Laurent, a federal-provincial conference was called to come up with an amending formula of concern to provincial as well as federal governments. No agreement came out of that conference either and especially, no important decision was reached in order to overcome this obstacle, the main reason being that the different parties were still concerned about their vested rights. A royal commission of inquiry was then set up and the Tremblay report, published in 1956, stated the provinces’ opposition to the central government. A mere four years later, another attempt was made at patriation starting with the federal-provincial conference of July 1960, This time it was not a Liberal government which failed but the government of John Diefenbaker, with its Fulton formula. That amendment and patriation formula did receive almost total support from the various parties once again without the consensus required by the existing political rules.
After this sixth national attempt by justice ministers, the possibility of ever reaching full consensus was being seriously questioned. Responding to public opinion at that time, the Diefenbaker government managed to have the Canadian Bill of Rights passed unanimously. But Mr. Diefenbaker, faced with the political fact that the provinces could not reach agreement, did not enshrine the bill in the Constitution. At that time, Jean Lesage was Premier of Quebec and to help advance the constitutional debate he called for an interprovincial conference in Quebec City. Yet, by 1962, the Diefenbaker minority government abandoned the proposed legislation for lack of consensus. Two years later, the federal and provincial officials had gone further than ever before in reaching an agreement on an amending formula. On August 3, 1964, in Jasper, the provincial attorneys general reached an agreement and on October 14, recommended that the first ministers accept the new Fulton-Favreau formula which was afterwards approved by nine provinces. In its throne speech of January 21, 1965, the Lesage government announced its intention of recommending to the National Assembly approval of the Fulton-Favreau formula. We were on the verge of a solution. We were about to enter the promised land, but with the foundation of the RIN, separatism became institutionalized in Quebec. Under the pressure exerted, among others, by Jacques-Yvan Morin, Lesage, a year after stating that he would make the Fulton-Favreau go through, refused to consider it any longer.
A year later, in a supposed last ditch attempt, and riding the crest of the centennial celebrations, the Premier of Ontario, John Robarts, called for an interprovincial conference in Toronto. It became obvious that Quebec had quickly relinquished any national approach. Daniel Johnson demanded control of his province’s relations with certain countries or international agencies, and he demanded also that residual powers be provincial and that the federal government’s disowning and declaratory powers be repealed. The constitutional pendulum had just swung to the other side. I should perhaps also remind hon. members that 1967 was the year when a French president visited Canada and did not behave quite like the other heads of state who came to mark our centennial. And in spite of his popular and public statement which was, to say the least, controversial, during that same year, the courts added a dash of seasoning to the sauce by ruling that the federal government had exclusive jurisdiction over offshore mineral resources on the Pacific coast, on the basis of the national application of residuary powers and international implications.
At the same time, Mr. Speaker, an eighth attempt was made, namely, the constitutional review process of 1967-71. The right hon. Prime Minister was in some ways the major architect of this process. After six meetings of the premiers, 26 meetings of ministers and numerous meetings of federal and provincial officials, this process finally led to the Victoria charter. Meetings became the order of the day. They were nearly a separate industry. The Canadian government and eight provincial governments agreed to this charter on June 16, 1971. But it was with some reluctance I must say, since I followed those events closely at the time, that the Quebec government, after an animated debate in the National Assembly under the government of Robert Bourassa, rejected the Victoria charter, giving as its official reason that section 94A was too vague. The province wanted extended powers in the fields of communications, immigration and external relations, and paramountcy in the field of social policy. In view of the position taken by the Quebec government, the newly
elected government in Saskatchewan decided not to take a stand on this issue.
With the best will in the world, in a climate of nationalism resulting from the Centennial celebrations and in spite of much patience and technical ability, the unanimous agreement required by the purists slipped away from the politicians, first because of the claims made by one province, and then because of the inexperience of a newly elected provincial government. However, no one wanted to give up, and a ninth attempt was made at the federal-provincial conference of 1975 where the Prime Minister of Canada suggested a more limited approach than that used in the 1971 process. The Right Hon. Prime Minister suggested that an attempt be made first of all to agree on an amending formula and certain guarantees for linguistic rights. The premiers discussed this proposal at two meetings, and on October 14, 1976, they informed the federal government that they could not agree to patriate the Constitution without a more extended constitutional reform involving transfers of federal jurisdictions to the provinces.
A tenth attempt was made at the federal-provincial conference of first ministers in October 1978, following the introduction in the Canadian Parliament of Bill C-60. The standing committee of ministers was then established by the premiers. Three meetings were held and the ministers involved reported to their premier. There was still no agreement. Last June, and this was after the referendum and in a climate of urgency, the premiers instructed their ministers to proceed to a complete review of the Constitution and to discuss 12 points, including patriation and the amending formula. Once again last summer, Mr. Speaker, it was impossible to reach a consensus. All these facts, Mr. Speaker, are well known to historians and Members of Parliament. I wanted to have them put on record once again to remind the House, the media and the Canadian people that the efforts made by the Liberal government come within well-known, well-tried and well-analysed historical, political and constitutional parameters both on the federal and on the provincial side. Mr. Speaker, last September, following the failure of the negotiations held during the summer barely a few months after the Quebec referendum which shook the entire country, we were forced once again to recognize that we had failed and had reached a deadlock.
Our 11 first ministers were unable to reach an agreement in spite ofa climate of urgency. If the premiers had shown a firm determination to find a solution when the negotiations opened in June, they quickly reverted to their former tactics and strategies of haggling over the price of their support. They surely were aware ofthe yearning of Canadians for the last step toward total sovereignty which patriation represents, but they allowed their own respective regional interests to outweigh Canada’s national interests.
By doing so, they played into the hands of separatist Rene Levesque, this new self-appointed champion of federalism In September, therefore, we were compelled to face this deadlock as well as the need for urgent action, for it is clear that in the eighties and the decades thereafter, a major political action will be needed to stand the enormous pressure resulting from the economic concentration of national and multinational corporations, the expansion of communication medias and the realization of the global village.
The world energy crisis, a very good example of things to come, has made us realize the need to consolidate the sovereign power of the Canadian state on the one hand, and to protect the fundamental rights of the individuals within a strong and independent state on the other. More than ever before there is need to co-ordinate our actions. The present calls for it, the past demonstrates it and reason requires it. Mr. Speaker, it was in that context that we, the federal members of the House of Commons, decided last September on a new course of action. Sure enough, the decision was not an easy one to make and there were indeed very few options. Either we would move into a twelfth round with these partners of ours who cannot even agree among themselves, as was confirmed by Premier Blakeney when he appeared before the Joint Committee in December, 1980, or we would proceed unilaterally.
Mr. Speaker, the constitutional history we have lived over the past half century clearly demonstrates that a consensus among our 11 first ministers is something that is impossible. This concept was but a dream and we must now recognize it as such. A great many Canadian politicians and journalists have already reached that conclusion. As a matter of fact, Charles Lynch had this to say last February—he is probably a non-Conservative Alberta-born Canadian, therefore an enemy of the Progressive Conservative Party: “Everybody agrees on the need to patriate the Canadian Constitution, but not on the Way to do so. In my opinion, the only person who can manage that and get away with it is certainly Pierre Trudeau. On the strength of a fourth mandate, with all the advantages of his wisdom and experience, he is taking a chance no prime minister before him has ever dared to take and none after him will ever dare to take. if we do not patriate the Canadian Constitution now, we will never do it.”
Mr. Speaker, unilateral action being the only alternative to this dead end, we needed only to answer these two very simple questions: First, do we have the right to take unilateral action, and second, if we do have this right, what should be the nature of our action? Looking into the first question, we suddenly realized—with astonishment, I must confess—that the federal government now has the necessary power to amend the Canadian Constitution in every respect without the consent of the provinces. There is nothing to it, really: as long as our Constitution remains in London, all the federal government needs to do is to have a resolution requesting this or that amendment passed by a majority of the House and the Senate. Once the resolution has reached London, the British government has no choice, on the basis of the law, tradition and custom, but to comply with the wishes of both these Houses.
That is the situation which caused Viscount Bennett to make the following statement while adressing the House of Lords in Westminster in 1946:
Of all the dominions, only Canada may with a majority vote of its parties amend its constitution. They cannot do so directly, but certainly they can do so indirectly, as we have agreed to pass all the legislation they would care to pass.
This power of the federal government to amend unilaterally our constitutional rules was also recognized by a number of provincial premiers and especially during the federal-provincial conference of 1950. At the conference, the Premier of New Brunswick, Mr. McNair, expressed the following opinion unequivocally: “In the final analysis, the provinces are not sure of having their say with regard to constitutional amendment, even when these are closely related to their interests. Consequently, this is the situation in which the provinces now find themselves, according to me, at this stage in our constitutional reform. First, with regard to constitutional change, the Parliament of Canada is in fact the judge, and the only judge, in the matter of knowing whether or not the rights and privileges of the provinces will be affected. Second, as a consequence, the sole protector the provinces have today against the arbitrary invasion of their rights, powers and jurisdictions is the Parliament of Canada itself.”
Finally, Mr. Speaker, as I do not want to use up too much of the time allotted me for my speech dealing with the legality of the unilateral move of the federal government, I refer you to the excellent accounts given by my colleague from Hochelaga-Maisonneuve (Mr. Joyal) and Senator Lamontagne in the Senate: they will convince you of its legality and will make you understand that the unilateral decision of the federal government is in fact legal. So, Mr. Speaker, though unilateral action may be undesirable politically, its legality is demonstrated, and that approach seems to us to be the only one possible to break the deadlock. We must then reflect upon the substance of such action. ln that regard, I feel today, as l did last September, first, that patriation cannot take place without an amending formula being provided; to do otherwise would be to enshrine the deadlock, the status quo. Second, that a charter of rights and freedoms should be entrenched in our new Constitution provided, however, the provisions of such at charter have at some time or other in our history, our discussions in Canada, met with the approval of a majority of Canadians.
Let us examine together, Mr. Speaker, what this resolution provides with regard to the amending formula. Basically, one could say it falls under three headings. First, the rule of unanimity continues to apply for the next two years; second, if seven provinces representing 80 per cent of the population agree during those two years on any other amending formula, one of two things can happen: the government either accepts that formula of the provinces or it turns it down, in which case the people of Canada, front whom every government in this country holds its authority and legitimacy, will have to choose either the formula of the provinces or that of the federal government. Third, if the provinces fail to come up with an amending formula in that two-year period, the so-called Victoria formula will then become the official amending formula of Canada.
Those then are the possible scenarios but, underlying them all, and this is of prime importance, is the fact that henceforth the federal government will no longer be able to change the Constitution unilaterally. Mr. Speaker, those who would cry rape can see at least that in so doing, the federal government gives up a power, a prerogative, a privilege that no province endowed with it would agree to renounce on its own initiative. What we are dealing with here is not federal intervention in provincial jurisdiction but the official recognition of the role of the provinces in the constitutional process; some centralization indeed, Mr. Speaker!
Finally, like my colleague the hon. member for Rosemont (Mr. Lachance), I admit the Victoria formula may have its weaknesses, but I dare hope we can come up with a better one in the next two years. Otherwise, how could l, as a francophone, a Quebecer, oppose the Victoria formula which gives Quebec the right of veto forever? It would mean that henceforth no constitutional change can be made in Canada without Quebec agreeing to it. What more could one want? I admit readily that the right of veto granted Quebec may annoy or, to say the least, intrigue or worry hon. members from the other provinces. Might I remind them, however, that, at least with regard to linguistic and cultural rights, it is imperative that Quebec have that right of veto; without it the social and political order in this country would be potentially threatened. Mr. Speaker, that right of veto is a major gain for Quebec and all francophones in this country.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, there is the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. What may one think of it? First, that it is imperfect? Second, incomplete? Third, unfinished? But I think it is at least a step in the right direction.
What is to be found in that Machiavellian proposal? In section 1, we have a statement of the rights and freedoms. The following sections deal with fundamental freedoms, democratic rights, mobility rights, legal rights, equality rights, the official languages of Canada, minority language educational rights, rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada, and finally, with the principle of equalization and regional disparities. This package also deals with a referendum, a constitutional deadlock-breaking mechanism, with an opting in formula for the provinces who would like to implement institutional bilingualism, and finally a greater recognition of provincial rights on natural resources.
Mr. Speaker, who is really opposed to that in Canada? This charter takes powers away, but not from the provinces for the benefit of the federal government. That charter takes away powers both from the federal government and the provinces to give them to the citizens. Any man, any woman in this country
will feel secure knowing that no government, regardless of the political or economic situation at any time, will be able to invade his or her private life. One only has to remember the padlock law in Quebec or the law against western Asiatics to appreciate that such things did not only happen on other continents but that they are the least glorious pages in our history.
Mr. Speaker, since time does not allow me to deal with every single provision of the charter, I shall only discuss those provisions concerning educational rights, institutional bilingualism, and refer briefly to mobility rights.
Section 23 which gives francophone minorities outside Quebec the right to have their children educated in French is, in my opinion, the most essential requirement to promote the French fact in Canada. I deeply regret that it was not possible to include institutional bilingualism in this charter and I regret even more the attitude of Bill Davis on this matter. Any Ontario premier is duty bound and has the clear obligation to grant the French-speaking people of his province this elementary right which is institutional bilingualism, namely, the use of both official languages in the provincial legislatures and in the provincial courts. It is a shame to see Mr. Davis wavering on this issue. And to those who ask why we do not force Ontario, my answer is, first, that we strongly feel inclined to do so, but if we were to force bilingualism on Ontario, I suggest that under this same principle, all the other provinces should be treated equally. Yet it is an illusion to believe that even technically every one of them would be able to comply with such an obligation.
What is even sadder for a francophone is to recall the debates held on bilingualism in Canada since 1969, especially in this House, and on the promotion of the French language. One must exercise some measure of pragmatism because one can easily understand that a twofold intervention in education and institutional bilingualism would jeopardize the very implementation of Section 23. But this is, in my opinion, an essential and basic requirement of our French-speaking countrymen in other provinces.
However, I cannot help but remind my Progressive Conservative friends that it is also their duty, their responsibility to help foster a proper climate and prepare the minds so that from now on, generously and openly, we may proceed with all the necessary reforms for the promotion of French throughout Canada. I suggest that the first step on their part would be to publicly and strongly denounce the racist remarks made recently in this House by some of their colleagues.
Finally Mr. Speaker, I want to denounce with the same vigour the Quebec separatists who claim that the implementation of Section 23 will restore in Quebec the same situation that existed before the enactment of Bill 22. Such a statement not only smells of demagogy but is utterly false. However, it shows so shamefully how little confidence those separatists have in the francophone Quebecers. Mr. Speaker, the French fact in Quebec is no longer at the survival stage, it is an established fact, a reality which day in and day out is confirmed and reaffirmed: we need only look at the number of francophone Quebecers in top management and in command of the major economic tools both in Quebec and in Canada to be reassured about our state of health.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, with regard to the provisions dealing with mobility rights, I do hope that we will bring about an improvement quickly, and move further on because there are already too many economic obstacles within Canada. As the hon. member for Rosemont pointed out, despite our federal framework, economic integration in Canada is in many respects still falling short of whatever economic integration there is within the Common Market. Mr. Speaker, this is the result of decisions reflecting too short a vision, an outdated regionalism, and a lack of knowledge and confidence in this country. There is also reflected some kind of suspicion on the part of one province toward all the others. To go on in that direction and to give in to an intensification of such decisions in the future would jeopardize our collective and individual well-being.
In summary, Mr. Speaker, after due analysis, I am convinced that this charter, even though it is not perfect, will be a very significant asset for all Canadians and will beget the envy of the whole world which has been concernedly monitoring the efforts we have made in this field for half a century. This is not the first crisis Canada has had to undergo. This time, our country intends to take a step further toward its full independence. One only has to recall the debates that preceded the passing of the Canadian citizenship bill. Also to be recalled is the storm which brewed—stirred by John Diefenbaker’s own personality-when Canadians most legitimately decided to adopt a symbol of their own, namely a Canadian flag. Now, they want a Constitution of their own and they want it here, in Canada, so that they will never again have to ask a foreign country, however friendly, to amend the laws that govern us. By this process, we are completing the work that began more than half a century ago and we are doing it in a modern way, in the same spirit that guided our forefathers and founders and in circumstances as conflicting as the ones which then prevailed.
Mr. Speaker, we must eagerly support this resolution because the desire of the Canadian people is clear. An absolute consensus is an impossible thing to achieve and it is historically urgent to take conclusive action. It is our duty as Canadians to do so.
To conclude my remarks, I shall quote from a speech made in 1935 by the hon. member for Trois-Rivieres—a region which is dear to the heart of our Minister of Justice (Mr. Chrétien)—when the Statute of Westminster was passed. This is what he said:
This is the final step in our great march toward progress, civilization, freedom and world status.
And this is to be done, Mr. Speaker, without haste or violence. This is a wonderful example of the primacy of patience over impulsiveness, of pragmatism over theories, of evolution over revolutions. Tltis is what the people from Verchères think.
Mr. Harvie Andre (Calgary Centre): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Verchères (Mr. Loiselle), who has just finished speaking, called in the latter part of his speech upon members of this party to denounce members on this side who had supposedly made racist remarks in terms of the French fact. I remind the hon. member, who should know, that a few years ago the denunciations of members opposite were being directed at the then member for Crowfoot. Jack Horner was epitomized as the red-neck, anti-French, Conservative westerner. Yet that did not prevent the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau), this hypocritical Prime Minister of that hypocritical party, from buying him off. It did not prevent the hon. member for Verchères from being Mr. Horner’s parliamentary secretary when he was the minister of industry, trade and commerce.
Mr. Loiselle: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Verchères on a point of order.
Mr. Loiselle: I wish to remind this member from Alberta that l was proud and honored to act as parliamentary secretary to Mr. Jack Horner, but I remind him as well that before Mr. Horner crossed the aisle, I had read his speech and he, at least, had not indulged in racist remarks.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Calgary Centre hits the floor.
Mr. Andre: The hon. member opposite had his 40 minutes. I just wanted to remind him of the hypocrisy of the statement he made earlier accusing members on this side of the House of being racist or bigots. He should look at members of his own party and the ministers he has served.
I for one will never forget, during the election of 1974, the ads in French, in Quebec, which read “Qui?” M. Trudeau ou Mr. Stanfield?” That was blatant racism in the ads run by that party, and for you to stand up now and lecture this side of the House is more than I am prepared to endure.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member is aware that his remarks should be addressed to the Chair.
Mr. Andre: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As I commence my remarks at this stage of this historical debate, let me join those others who have complimented the joint committee on the work it performed and the manner in which it operated. In particular, I want to compliment the hon. member for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve (Mr. Joyal) for the excellent way in which he co-chaired the committee. Later in my remarks I will have less complimentary things to say about that member’s position on this immoral, if not illegal, constitutional proposal which the Prime Minister is attempting to jam down the throats of Canadians.
Mr. Sargeant: The referendum.
Mr. Andre: I hear the hon. member for Selkirk-Interlake (Mr. Sargeant) interrupting. I wonder if there is any limit to the hypocrisy of the New Democratic Party. The member stood up this afternoon and in his remarks said that he was voting for this proposal because of the charter of rights. Why? Because he does not trust the premiers, he says. He does not trust the premiers! Apparently he does not trust the Premier of Saskatchewan.
Mr. Sargeant: I said “some of them”.
Mr. Andre: What he is saying, Mr. Speaker, is that he does not trust the people of Manitoba. If he is so right and the Premier of Manitoba is so wrong, and if he is so confident, then let the people of Manitoba decide.
Miss Jewett: They will be deciding.
Mr. Andre: I would like to remind the hon. member of the position taken by the government of Saskatchewan and the New Democratic Premier of Saskatchewan. The premier said:
Many of you will know that I have opposed in principle the constitutional entrenchment of the charter of rights.
The hypocrisy of the New Democrats exceeds only the stupidity of the Liberals—some of them.
Miss Jewett: Talk about your own hypocrisy for a while.
Mr. Andre: This is the first opportunity I have had, Mr. Speaker, to speak in this debate. This is not by choice. Last October when the Prime Minister first introduced this abomination, debate was cut off prematurely and ruthlessly by closure—a brutal silencing of the minority parties in this House by the majority party, all in the name of expediting a constitutional proposal which purports, among other things, to protect minorities.
Within hours of an exchange of letters, which placed the Leader of the New Democratic Party (Mr. Broadbent) securely in the Prime Minister’s pocket, the Prime Minister brought down the guillotine to cut off debate lest Canadians became too fully aware of what he was proposing. It is worth reminding the House of the smug and jubilant attitude of the New Democratic Party’s leader after he received the Prime Minister’s letter, He crowed to the press that he had secured from the Prime Minister a commitment on an amendment that would assuage the concerns of the western provinces about resource ownership and, thus, make the package acceptable to the west, and in particular to the province of Saskatchewan. How stupid that statement from the member for Oshawa looks today when Roy Romanow, the attorney general for Saskatch-
ewan, is now in London saying that nothing could be further from the truth.
The Liberals deserve the anger and bitterness directed at them for the use of closure. The NDP deserve the contempt and jeers directed at them for making it possible for the Prime Minister to use closure. One wonders how long it will take the NDP to learn they cannot keep getting in bed with the Liberals and continue to claim to be virtuous.
The NDP paid dearly for the pact that David Lewis made with the Liberals in 1972 to 1974. They shall pay dearly again for the pact the hon. member for Oshawa has made. The people of the west who voted NDP at the last election did not do so in order that their interests would be sold out by a misguided NDP leadership. The behaviour of the New Democratic Party since October 2, last year, is perplexing in some ways. The charitable explanation is that on October 2, with the very short notice that all opposition parties were given—unlike my leader, who immediately saw the danger and folly of the Prime Minister’s proposals—the Leader of the New Democratic Party erroneously decided that the constitutional proposals would be popular and therefore he would support them. It soon became evident that he was mistaken, and he attempted to become the champion of western discontent by negotiating with the Prime Minister on resource control. This earned him only contempt; first, for negotiating with the Prime Minister and, second, for settling next to nothing, whereas he could have bargained for much more.
Having gone this far and gained nothing but more problems, his choice was to drop support for the Prime Minister’s package or convince an increasingly restless caucus that the least damaging posture would be to stick to the original position of supporting the Prime Minister. He chose the latter, mistakenly believing that there would be less damage to his party sticking to his guns rather than doing the right thing for the country. Four of his members said no, and in the weeks ahead many more of his members will wish they had said no.
The last charitable explanation of the NDP behaviour is that the Prime Minister and the Leader of the New Democratic Party have a private deal, and that the New Democratic Party leader will be looked after at a later date. When Patrick Watson, on national television, asked the hon. member for Oshawa whether or not this was true, the NDP leader said no; but the look on his face was rather like that of a small child with crumbs on his chin when asked by his mother whether he had been into the cookie jar.
Whatever the explanation for the behaviour of the NDP, next to Canada itself they are the big losers in this constitutional debate; and the longer the debate, the more the pain. Thus we have the unseemly behaviour of the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) openly co-operative with the government House leader in attempts to limit and curtail the debate. This is very unseemly behaviour for one who purports to be the great defender of the role and rights of Parliament.
NDP support and chicanery notwithstanding, the fact is that the Prime Minister has no mandate and no moral justification for what he is doing. In the election of last year, the Prime Minister was mute on the constitutional question, as he was mute on most other questions. Never did he tell Canadians that if he were elected he would impose this abomination on the country. The sad fact that Canadians are now only beginning to realize is that on February 18, 1980, Canada elected the least responsible and most powerful Prime Minister the country has ever had.
There are essentially no countervailing forces or balances or, checks on prime ministerial power. Having once retired, the Prime Minister has little concern for his prospects of re-election, and thus the check that that concern would have placed on his exercise of power is gone. He has never really been a Liberal Party partisan and is in no way tempered by the fact that he is destroying the Liberal Party’s prospects in western Canada for at least a generation; and thus, that check on his exercise of power is also gone.
Virtually his first act as Prime Minister in 1969 was to change the House rules—by closure, incidentally—to make it impossible for the opposition to hold him to account for his actions; therefore that check on his power is also gone. Then after 12 years of culling he removed from his caucus any and all members who had enough personal political strength to stand up and oppose this mad scheme.
An hon. Member: Name them.
Mr. Andre: With a few notable exceptions—and if it pleases them, look in the mirror and they will be the exceptions—the Liberal caucus today consists of a mediocre group of sheep drooling, if not slobbering, in anticipation of perquisites the Prime Minister can give his blindly loyal supporters.
That is the sad state of democracy in Canada today. Opposed by eight provinces, opposed by the official opposition, opposed by the vast majority of what might be referred to as the cognoscenti of Canada, and opposed by the majority of Canadians, the Prime Minister nevertheless blasts ahead describing the wounds and divisions he leaves as exhilarating.
The only explanation given for this perverse, if not mad, behaviour is the claim that he made a promise to the people of Quebec during the referendum. The thing I find amazing is how many of his sheeplike followers keep repeating the justification in spite of the fact that every political party in Quebec—including the Liberal Party and its leader, the chairman of the No forces—virtually every newspaper and, according to Gallup, the majority of the population opposes this package. In essence, they are saying to Quebecers, “We made a promise and now we are going to keep it, even if we have to jam this Constitution down your throats.”
Mr. Speaker, as the member for Montmorency-Orleans (Mr. Duclos) stated in his excellent address to this House on March 12, had the people of Quebec known at the time what the Prime Minister had in mind, they might well have voted Yes in far greater numbers than was the case. But the fact is that no such promise was made by the Prime Minister during
the referendum campaign. As pointed out by Ian MacDonald in a column in the Montreal Gazette, the Prime Minister mentioned constitutional reform only six days before the end of the referendum campaign, after the victory of the No forces was assured. As Ian MacDonald stated in his column:
He seized on the event as a pretext achieving his obsessive goal of patriation and a bill of rights. As one Trudeau aide later put it, “He sees the referendum not as an end in itself, but as a means to an end.” In a sense, what Trudeau is in the process of doing now is keeping the promise he made to himself, not to Quebec on behalf of the country.
There is absolutely no way that a fair-minded person can conclude anything but that the Prime Minister has no mandate whatsoever for what he is doing. The process he has embarked on is absolutely illegitimate, if not illegal. The legality of what the Prime Minister is attempting to do is certainly a moot question. The Manitoba Appeal Court produced a split decision. The Quebec and Newfoundland courts are still to be heard from, and so is the Supreme Court of Canada. Newspapers and magazines are literally filled with essays and articles by experts on constitutional law who question the legality of this procedure.
Under these circumstances, reasonable behaviour by a reasonable person would be to await final adjudication as to the legality before proceeding, but as we know from that infamous leaked Privy Council document of last summer, the government feels there is a strategic advantage to blasting ahead prior to the courts being allowed to make a decision. This is shameful behaviour at any time, Mr. Speaker, but in regard to a constitution the legality and legitimacy of which should be beyond question, this behaviour is, as the Hon. Robert Stanfield described it recently, essentially a coup d’état.
One thing that can be said with certainty is that even if this procedure is legal, then it is legal only because of a loophole in the law. Mr. Justice O’Sullivan, one of the dissenting judges in the Manitoba case, said that, if this procedure is legal:
The Attorney General of Canada ends up in the proposition that a political party, if it forms the majority of both Houses of the Canadian Parliament, has the power to amend the Constitution of our country as it pleases.
Only in totalitarian states—such as, most recently, Chile, and before that Cuba and the Soviet Union—do you have circumstances where the party in power, by itself, writes the constitution of a country. Nowhere in the democratic world is there an example of one party with a transient majority having written and imposed a constitution that lasts when faced with the kind of overwhelming opposition this constitutional proposal faces.
Furthermore, in regard to constitutional change the real question is not the legality of the procedure but the legitimacy of the procedure, legitimacy being that unspoken consensus which allows governments to rule without having to resort to fear or force. This constitutional proposal lacks that legitimacy. It lacks that broad-based consensus which is absolutely vital if the Constitution is to work and to inspire respect and adherence without the threat of force.
Using his transient majority of 144 trained seals, as one reporter called them, to have the British force this package on Canadians will not give us a true Constitution; it will only create division and, I fear, could cause irreparable harm.
The Prime Minister, as my leader once observed in this House, has only the Criminal Code as his moral code. In other words, if it is legal, it is moral. One would have hoped that the Leader of our Government had a higher standard. The renowned Soviet dissident, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, in his 1978 book called “The Decline of Courage”, wrote:
The rule of law in itself is too cold and too formal an instrument lo exercise a beneficial influence on society. When life is wholly permeated with legal decision, an atmosphere of moral mediocrity is then created which stifles the best inspirations of man and in the face of the trying time ahead of us legal criteria will be of no avail to make people stand upright.
The Minister of Justice (Mr. Chretien) laughs. I suggest that the writings of Solzhenitsyn would make excellent reading for him, and they are in printed form.
Some hon. Members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Chrétien: You should read your speech before coming into the House.
Mr. Andre: If the Minister of Justice is like his leader, probably he prefers the writings of Fidel to those of Solzhenitsyn.
Some hon. Members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Andre: The only way the Constitution can gain the acceptance, the respect, or, in other words, the legitimacy it must have to work is if that Constitution is made here in Canada by Canadians employing a process acceptable to a clear consensus of the Canadian population. There is no need for the Prime Minister to proceed in the way he is. He could, if he put his responsibilities and supposed love of his country ahead of his pride, accept the suggestion made by my leader and the constitutional spokesman from my party, the hon. member for Provencher (Mr. Epp)—
Mr. Chrétien: Where is he now?
Mr. Kempling: That is a low blow.
Mr. Andre: —and at this time simply ask the British to patriate the Constitution with the Vancouver amending formula, and let us make all future amendments here in Canada by Canadians.
Mr. Nowlan: You have been sick a couple of times. That is really low of you.
An hon. Member: Remember, you were in hospital.
Mr. Chrétien: I was not in South Africa.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for Calgary Centre (Mr. Andre) has the floor.
Mr. Andre: The Minister of Justice is simply hurting in recognition that he is not half the man the hon. member for Provencher is—
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Chrétien: I don’t go to South Africa.
Mr. Andre: —when it comes to integrity and honesty, qualities which most Canadians hold in high esteem.
Mr. Chrétien: I don’t go to South Africa.
Mr. Andre: No one who has any understanding of the Canada of today could possibly believe that constitutional change made in Britain, by the British, on our behalf could be conceived by the majority of Canadians as being anything else but illegitimate. A made-in-Britain constitution will never be accepted by Canadians.
Several speakers on behalf of the government position have taken a very critical view of the so-called Vancouver amending formula, claiming that it would impose or lead to a checkerboard or patchwork crazy-quilt pattern in Canada. As my colleague the hon. member for Rosedale (Mr. Crombie) pointed out in his speech of February 18, 1981, that observation is simply nonsensical. As the member for Rosedale indicated in his speech, we already have a patchwork or a checkerboard system in Canada. In 1867 the British North America Act established a checkerboard pattern. Section 92 of the BNA Act laid out provincial powers and provided that the provinces could do with them as they saw fit. In other words, the provinces could create a checkerboard pattern, and that has been the pattern in Canada for 114 years. Section 133 imposed conditions on Quebec by which other provinces were not affected. This proposal is a patchwork. We have been a checkerboard or patchwork quilt since confederation. Far from weakening Canada, this has contributed to uniting the country and making it strong.
Perhaps the most maddening aspect of this non-thinking criticism of the Vancouver formula is the fundamental dishonesty of the government’s position, since the very proposal that it is now attempting to force upon the country will itself create a checkerboard. Whereas heretofore, at least since 1930, every province in Canada was equal, under the Victoria formula proposed by the government there will be perhaps as many as four classes of provinces, certainly three. This is a concept wholly unacceptable to those lower-class provinces and clearly unacceptable to the vast majority of fair-minded Canadians.
It is the contention of the Prime Minister’s apologists that a provision allowing provinces to opt out of constitutional amendments unacceptable to a province will somehow, through this patchwork or crazy-quilt pattern which might result, end up in Canada being a lesser country. In proposing that position, these apologists show an abysmal ignorance both of the nature of Canada and of the nature of federal democratic countries around the world.
Is Switzerland any less a united federal state because it has five official languages and because the cantons or provinces are autonomous to the point that citizenship itself is actually granted by the canton and not by the central government? Is West Germany any less a united federal state because the border guards are members of the lander or provincial police forces rather than officers of the central government? Is the United States any less united as a result of the patchwork which results from each state having a different criminal code?
Is it not just possible that this patchwork in virtually every other federal democratic state on this planet is the very characteristic that creates unity in those federal countries as opposed to disunity? Even unitary states, such as the United Kingdom, have a wide variety of different regional or local governments and laws. The Isle of Man, which has been part of the United Kingdom for centuries, has its own separate parliament totally different from Westminster and totally different in character from the parliament of Northern Ireland and the parliaments of Scotland and Wales. The civil code in Scotland is different from that in England. Evidence from around the world overwhelmingly points to the fact that a patchwork or a crazy-quilt pattern, to use the governments phrase, is not only common but may be essential to the maintenance of a unified country.
Indeed, Mr. Speaker, in comparing Canada to other federal states in the democratic world, the distinguishing feature about Canada is not that there is a crazy-quilt or checkerboard pattern but that there is very little or comparatively little difference across the country. The most serious difference and the difference which I think contributes most to the disunity of the country is that Canada alone among the federal states lacks any provincial or regional representation in the central government. Canada alone is attempting to maintain a national or federal government that is unitary in nature.
That is the real tragedy of what the Prime Minister is doing. The over-all thrust of the constitutional proposal is to make our government even more unitary in nature than it already is, whereas the crying need is for constitutional amendments that will recognize the federal nature of the country. It is interesting and sad to note that the one member of the cabinet who recognizes this fact through his chairmanship of the task force on national unity, the Minister of Transport (Mr. Pepin), has been utterly excluded from any participation in the current debate.
The Prime Minister simply does not know this country. He views Canada as Peter Newman, the editor of Maclearfs, once observed, as basically consisting of Upper Canada, Lower Canada and outer Canada. He views Canada as a family formed by the marriage of Upper and Lower Canada, with the remaining provinces being the progeny or children of the marriage. To him we are all a family, but the parents must remain dominant and the children subservient or second class. What the Prime Minister does not recognize is that that model
does not and will not fit Canada. lt will never be accepted by outer Canadians. Canadians in my province and in the other western provinces are saying, “Please let us be first-class Canadians; let us count to the same extent as other Canadians.”
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Andre: That is what is wrong with the government’s proposed Victoria formula. lt would encase in a Constitution, in perpetuity, a second-class status, if not a third-class status, for my province and for other provinces that make up outer Canada. I plead with the members of the government to stop and consider what they might be doing. To paraphrase Sir John A. Macdonald, if you treat people with respect, they will set free people generally do; call them a faction and they will become factious. Impose this totally unacceptable amending formula on Canadians and you will weaken forever their commitment to Canada.
I this of the personal disappointments to me in this constitutional debate has been the attitude and position taken by members of the government party who represent francophone constituencies. On many occasions since I have been a member I have heard francophone members pleading in this House, not in asubservient way but in a plaintive way, for an understanding of the fears and aspirations of Canada’s French-speaking citizens. Many times I have heard members saying, in essence, that what they wanted was changes in Canada’s federation that would give French-speaking Canadians the dignity, the opportunity and the respect due a first-class citizen.
I remember in particular the hon. member for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve not too many years ago arguing on behalf of French-speaking air traffic controllers that they be allowed to use their language and that French-speaking Canadians be allowed to fly aeroplanes and communicate with the ground in their language, because as Canadians they felt that they had a right to the same privileges, the same courtesies, the same status, as English-speaking Canadians.
One would like to think that people who have gone through that kind of personal experience would therefore be sensitive to and aware of, similar calls for respect and equality from other Canadians. Yet today, with western Canadians in the thousands turning out to West-Fed and other meetings making basically the same plea, for understanding and for first-class status, these members turn a deaf ear. It is particularly disappointing that the hon. member for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve should adopt that attitude since I was led to believe he was more sensitive and more principled. It is sad to see members opposite, who have gone through what at times must have been a humiliating experience trying to get first-class status for their constituents and other French-speaking Canadians, turn around and be so damned insensitive to similar concerns for first-class status from other Canadians, be they from the west or the Atlantic region.
Perhaps I am being naive in assuming that fair play or sensitivity to the aspirations of fellow Canadians matter a whit. Perhaps all that matters is power, and since fate or the unfolding universe has given the Prime Minister the power he now possesses, that he will use that power to impose his model of Canada on the nation no matter that that model does not fit.
Even more disturbing to fair-minded Canadians than the Victoria formula is the provision for constitutional amendment by so-called referendum. The use of referenda is provided for in the constitutions of a number of democratic federal states, such as Switzerland and the United States. In both of these countries the axiom is that sovereign power rests ultimately with the people, and because of this the initiation of a referendum is built into their federalisms. In both of these federal states referenda can be initiated by either the state or the people and the results are binding.
As George Woodcock points out in a November, 1980, article in Saturday Night magazine:
This is quite different from our (Canadian) politicians’ gambits which are really plebiscites such as Lévesque’s referendum on sovereignty-association or Trudeau’s proposed vote on the Constitution, devised merely to gain endorsement from what the leaders have devised. (Hitler was an expert on this kind of popular vote.)
As Mr. Woodcock has accurately observed, this referendum proposal is nothing more or less than a tool whereby the Prime Minister could impose constitutional change upon the country. With the right of initiation resting with government, with the ability to state the question and to set the rules, the cards are clearly overwhelmingly stacked in favour of the federal government, or, in other words, the Prime Minister. What George Woodcock points out is more closely analogous to the procedures in Hitler’s Germany than to the referendum procedures in truly democratic federal states.
Some hon. Members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Andre: If members opposite find George Woodcock’s words unacceptable, I might refer them to an article by Michael Valpy in the October 8 Vancouver Sun where he examined the use of referenda similar to this in other countries. He stated:
In France in 1958, against a backdrop of political stalemate and unstable government, a referendum gave Charles de Gaulle the powers of a near-dictator.
Is it a coincidence that in late November, 1979, after announcing his retirement, the Prime Minister should give a speech to the University of Montreal saying that his preference for Canada is a presidential system based on the French model? Is that just a coincidence? Mr. Valpy continued:
In Germany in 1934, against a backdrop of Nazi-fostered fear, severe economic disorder, and street fighting between political extremists, a referendum gave Adolf Hitler unchecked executive power.
In Canada in 1944, against a backdrop of sincere and principled political division between Canadians over overseas war service, a referendum—backed in English Canada, rejected in French Canada—gave a timid central government the courage to impose conscription. It also left a legacy of hate and bigotry that might have been avoided by a political act of leadership that sidestepped spelling out the nations naked differences—
Backed by Marlin Goldfurb and millions of advertising dollars, it would give Ottawa an incredible whiphand.
A government that was truly democratic and that understood the federal nature of this country would not put forward referenda procedures of this sort, the type used by Hitler and de Gaulle. If it was interested in referenda, it would put forward the sort employed by other democracies, such as Switzerland and the United States. I might also point out to the House that, while not using the same dramatic analogies as Mr. Valpy or Mr. Woodcock, Mr. Gordon Robertson, former clerk of the privy council and an adviser to the Prime Minister on the Constitution, has made the same observation about Section 42 of the proposed Constitution.
I have not in my remarks directed much attention to the proposed charter of rights, not because I do not believe it is important but rather because many other speakers on our side, and in particular the hon. member for Provencher, have made excellent and perceptive observations in regard to it. I would only say that, along with the vast majority in the House, I believe the addition of the charter of rights to the Canadian Constitution would be a positive step. But along with the vast majority of fair-minded Canadians, I also strongly believe that it is absolutely immoral to have the British impose this charter of rights. A charter of rights should be examined here in Canada by Canadians, and it should only be after the very closest of examination and only after very, very extensive public debate here in Canada that a charter should be put into the Constitution. This proposed charter is at the moment very imperfect in many ways, and we would be doing the country a great disservice if we locked in this imperfect charter.
In committee the members of the New Democratic Party moved 43 amendments. They found 43 things wrong with this charter of rights. Two of the amendments were passed, which means they still find 41 things wrong. Why are they so quick to vote for this charter which to their minds is so imperfect?
It seems so fundamental that it is almost trite to say this, but it must be said because of its omission from the charter of rights. A charter, to mean anything, must contain an acknowledgement of the supremacy of God in order to demonstrate that rights do not come from man or from some leader; rights are ours because we are human beings created in the image of God. For the government not to accept that particular amendment is, to me, a glaring and unacceptable omission.
A charter of rights without property rights is absurd. Property rights are absolutely fundamental to human rights. My family background is not dissimilar to that of a lot of western Canadians. My grandparents came to this country from eastern Europe prior to the turn of the last century. Then, as now, the state owned and controlled all land and property, and by that simple expedient controlled all rights; individuals had none. My grandparents came to this country because of the opportunity to own land, to have the economic freedom that comes from that, because all other rights are meaningless without economic rights. Without property rights, economic rights can never be assured. How anybody could propose a charter of rights without property rights is beyond me. The socialists obviously do not believe in property rights because they do not believe in that kind of freedom.
Let us have a charter of rights, Mr. Speaker, but one made in Canada by Canadians, including the acknowledgement of the supremacy of God and property rights. It is hard to pick up a magazine or newspaper that does not have an observation by someone whose opinion should be respected, pointing out some imperfection in these rights. How can we so quickly and glibly jam through this clearly imperfect proposal and hustle it off to Britain to have it imposed on us by the British? This charter, Mr. Speaker, was basically designed on the back of an envelope by various special interest groups who came before the committee and bargained for support with the minister.
I conclude by saying that I am extremely concerned about the impact of this proposal on my part of Canada. The people in western Canada want to be first-class Canadians but they feel they are being forced into a second-class status in perpetuity by the headlong push of this government. Unless stopped, this government and their sheep will be doing irreparable damage to this country.
Mr. Doug Frith (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Health and Welfare): Mr. Speaker, I, too, welcome this opportunity to add my comments on the constitutional proposals before the House. Before I get into the main part of my speech, I want to comment on some of the remarks made by the hon. member for Calgary Centre (Mr. Andre) during his 40-minute discussion of constitutional reform.
Not only members of the opposition but constituents of mine want to understand why we are, in 1981, about to embark on this path of constitutional reform. I have been here only one year and some days, but I think it is safe to say that for all of us the results of the referendum last May 20 were gratifying, regardless of party affiliation. When someone says to me, as did the hon. member for Calgary Centre, that according to a Gallup poll 64 per cent of Canadians are against unilateral patriation, you could put the same question, if you worded it in the way Gallup did, to the members on this side of the House and probably have 64 per cent of us say that we do not want to move in a unilateral way. But that is not the simple issue involved here.
Last June, when the Minister of Justice (Mr. Chrétien) began the summer trial with his provincial counterparts in preparation for the September conference, we all wished in our hearts that the conference would work. It would have been much better had the Minister of Justice and the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) been able to arrive at a package for constitutional reform by consensus, but that is not the way it was to be. As was evident in the September conference, there was a breakdown and that left the government in the position of having to decide how best to go about constitutional reform and how best to achieve support for this package.
I think it is fair to say that the joint committee proposal before us represents to the best of our ability as parliamentari-
ans a charter of rights, a statement of belief in the need for patriation with an amending formula, one that is as acceptable as it can be to a majority of Canadians. The government has gone completely out of its way to accommodate everybody in the sense that there were 12 items under discussion at the September conference. The government made a conscious decision to go with the least number of proposals that would antagonize the least number of Canadians.
That is the proposal we gave to the joint committee in October of last year, and to have the hon. member for Calgary Centre say at this late stage in the debate that we are attempting to jam down the throats of Canadians a Constitution that nobody else wants I think belies the fact that a great deal of work was done by the joint committee, by all members of this this House for five long months. I commend them for their work in that committee, and I think, quite frankly, we have before us proposals that will go a long way toward addressing the problems that have existed here in Canada since 1867.
That brings me, Mr. Speaker, to the main point of my address. I want to come back to this theme throughout, and that is that we are about to embark upon a path that began in 1867 and along which there is still unfinished business to attend to. I would like to point out that when this House passes the joint resolution and presents it to Westminster, it does not mean that the process has ended. It is the beginnning of a new constitutional process; there is still unfinished business to attend to in this nation.
The year 1867 saw the birth of a new nation, a northern nationality, and as history recorded 50 years later war gave us an identity. Nova Seotians and Albertans, the soldiers of 1914, came home in 1919 as Canadians. In 1931, through the passage of the Statute of Westminster, we secured tangible autonomy in that no statute or law of Canada could be ruled invalid simply because it was repugnant to the law of the United Kingdom, save and except with regard to the BNA Act. I repeat, save and except the BNA Act. That is why I say to you, Mr, Speaker, and to this House that there is unfinished business to attend to.
I call to the attention of all members the words of one of Montreal’s great men of letters, F. R. Scott, who said:
We have a rendez-vous with the BNA Act. It’s going to come some day.
Well, it is now 1981 and this is the prophesied day. We have at this time reflected on and debated at length our constitutional future. We must now act to bring the Constitution home, secure in the knowledge that our children and their children will enjoy their country in the future, safe in the fact that no other nation or state has the power or legislative authority to change our fundamental laws.
That is what is ultimately meant by the term “responsible self-government”, and it is long overdue, too long unfinished. Never before have we had so clearly the opportunity, albeit moved by its own passions and standards, to advance the civic culture of Canada, to unveil to the world what the ideals of Canadian society stand for, but most importantly, to decide for ourselves what it means to be Canadian.
If the process to date has been difficult—and perhaps it will become more difficult yet—that is as it should be. All great social reform requires it. This government believes that it must now, in 1981, move on constitutional reform, not because some constituent assembly has ordained it, not because some community of communities commands it and not because some premiers have made deals, but because Canadians will always feel inadequate and unsure of their identity until someone determines for their well-being a definition of what it means to be a Canadian.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Frith: We will act because this government knows that Canadians have that capacity. We have been disabled far too long, For ourselves and for Canada let us decide to throw away the crutch and stand on guard for our country, able at last, but by no means least, to amend our own Constitution.
Detractors of all varieties would have us believe that Canada is about to be rent apart by actions of this government to patriate our Constitution and by refusing, as the Hon. Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Clark) has suggested, to take into account the larger interests of Canada. I do not know anything of these larger interests to which the right hon. member refers. If there is some kind of other directed national interest, then we in the government believe, even at this late stage, that the right hon. member is again afforded another opportunity to share his views with his fellow Canadians. We look forward to the right hon. member’s positive recommendations, not to thwart constitutional evolution in this country, but to participate affirmatively in its making. We recognize the right to oppose, Constructive criticisms are the energizing force in this debate. We are thankful to the hon. member for Edmonton East (Mr. Yurko) who, I am sure, shares the conviction, which transcends politics, that we must all get on with the job.
The age of technology presents us with the reality that we are all participators in the cult of innovation. This technological imperative alone dictates that our fundamental law must change. Because of this debate and the constitutional process the law itself is being changed. Great new institutions are being founded privately, and whole new networks of existing contractual relations are being renewed in a thousand ways.
The legislative reform this government is proposing is embedded in these broader, voluntary and private formal and informal modifications of Canadian society which our new Constitution will serve to consolidate and provide a new framework for Canada for ever new departures. In short, we have the opportunity to enjoy the change that constitutional reform can bring.
Mr. Speaker, if some members do not feel it advisable to have a Constitution which may be amended in Canada, then we must recognize that our cultural policy is threatened. I personally consider Canada to be a nation-state made up of
various cultural and language groups, and which expects to find in the Constitution a definition of the rights and powers of individuals and of political institutions. If that aim is overshadowed by other considerations, it means that we do not have the collective will to assume our responsibilities and control our destiny. I, for one, Mr. Speaker, believe that after 54 years of unsuccessful attempts, it is high time we patriated our Constitution.
Not all constitutional benchmarks in democratic history are the product of seemingly endless negotiations. This begs the question so adroitly raised by the Prime Minister: If Parliament’s decisions must be negotiated, how can they be decisions? Do they not simply become negotiating positions?
Some benchmarks are accomplished by deliberate action supported by the greatest number of people of good will. The BNA Act was the result of such an affirmation. Its concluding chapter can be as well. The opportunity cost of such unfinished business is too great. I for one do not wish to be associated any longer with Canada’s constitutional predicament—our inability to amend, on our own recognizance, our basic laws. That fate leaves an aversionary taste. Not to respond at this juncture in our history to the imperative before us suggests a profound cynicism about our own competence. It attracts and invites mastheads in our national and local papers which predisposes or forces some members of this House to talk of political warfare.
I believe, as do a great many Canadians, that nothing could be further from the truth. The only reason for discord is that we simply have not been able to agree on a method to be written into our documentary Constitution which allows full expression to the term “sovereignty of Canada”. In short, we shall not be fully sovereign or fulfilled as Canadians until the parliament of the United Kingdom is no longer the only recourse for amending the Constitution.
I have heard this often from speakers who have spoken before me in this debate. The hon. member for Calgary Centre spoke about the need for some further perfection of the charter of rights which is presently before this House. This is the same member who six months ago stood up in this House and said that Canadians simply wanted their Constitution patriated. He was totally against having an amending formula. Now I hear discussions about what kind of an amending formula it should be. Now I hear from hon. members opposite that we have not gone far enough in certain areas of the charter of rights.
Mr. Blenkarn: Weren’t you here on October 22?
Mr. Chénier: Don’t worry about him.
Mr. Frith: I am not worried about the hon. member for Mississauga South (Mr. Blenkarn). Now I hear from other hon. members on the benches opposite that certain rights in the charter of rights do not go far enough. There has been quite a change in the last six months.
The hon. member for Calgary Centre also said that there are certain inalienable rights every Canadian should enjoy. Yet his own party says that the charter of rights should have an opting out formula. He properly pointed out that under the existing BNA Act there has been some checkerboard effect in this country. We have allowed the provinces to opt out with respect to certain taxation powers. We have always had that flexibility in our Constitution, but can we afford to allow provinces to opt out with respect to the inalienable rights of our citizens? Either there will be basic rights enjoyed by every citizen in this country regardless of his place of residence, or we no longer will have a nation by anyone’s definition. If there are to be basic rights, they belong to all Canadians, and provinces should not be allowed to opt out of the principles expressed in the charter of rights.
While we all recognize that words are sometimes inadequate vehicles to convey ideas and that intensity of feeling rather than substance is the order of the day, I believe we have dwelt too much upon the process of constitutional reform and have not addressed ourselves enough to the content of constitutional reform.
I do not wish to dwell at length on the issue of the amending formula, save to say that without one which is fair and equitable, both rigid and flexible, and cognizant of our federal character, our definition of a truly federal state falls short of the mark. All constitutional authorities agree that the provincial legislatures have the right to amend their constitution as it affects them, save with regard to the offices of lieutenant governors. Yet Canada’s national legislature cannot do so at its own discretion without the consent of the parliament of Great Britain. Thus, Canada is relegated to being the only free nation in the world which is not at liberty to change its Constitution without the consent of another sovereign state. For any province, court of appeal or person to suggest that this government’s proposed Canada Act, Constitution Act and the patriation instruments are in themselves unconstitutional is inappropriate, in that such a view or judgment serves only to suborn the right of this central government to act.
I need not remind the House that those who argue for unanimity on the issue of patriation of the Constitution do not and cannot guarantee the perfection of what will be achieved. I suggest that even if all ll governments were to concur in the method of patriation at this time, there is no guarantee that a perfect instrument will be obtained. This is why our resolution calls for an amending formula and a method to find one to assure that our system of government will be based on a set of laws and not on the whims of men. No member of this House has higher authority than that which is transferred by the electorate.
The puppet on the provincial shoestring approach of the official opposition, which argues for opting out and against a national referendum for breaking a deadlock should no amending protocol be found, is, to me, lamentable. The important and, indeed, crucial test of the legitimacy of this government’s actions will be determined by what we do with the Constitution when we get it back. If an amending formula is not achieved, the federal government reserves the exclusive right
to take the issue of a formula to the people in the form of a national referendum.
I, for one, must believe that the wit, the intelligence and the desire of the premiers and the Prime Minister to build an amending formula worthy of the status of Canada can be accomplished within two years. That is the challenge before us. It seems only logical that if we, as legislators here and in the provinces, cannot resolve this impasse at the end of 24 months of concerted effort, recourse to the population at large is the only solution. I cannot see how some hon. members in the opposition benches can argue that a referendum will thwart the democratic process. At the very least, the opportunity for the people of Canada to decide is not only the opportunity to renew the social contract but to exercise the highest privilege democracy affords.
Mr. Baker (Nepean-Carleton): We have never argued against that.
Mr. Frith: The hon. member for Calgary Centre said just now that a referendum would tear this country apart.
Mr. Baker (Nepean-Carleton): You misunderstood his remark.
Mr. Frith: You are misunderstanding mine.
I would remind the Right Hon. Leader of the Opposition nnd his colleagues that when politicians fail to break an impasse, it is best to go to the people, because then we have recourse to our biggest resource, what prime minister Sir Robert Borden once referred to as “the commonplace quality of common sense.” It therefore strikes me that any legislation must absolutely exercise and preserve a balance between complexity and conscience. I believe that principle is clearly contained in this government’s constitutional proposals.
The federal government holds relentlessly to the conviction that there are certain basic rights inherent in and crucial to Canadian citizenship and Canadians’ way of life. That is why we maintain that these rights must be entrenched in the Constitution as a charter of rights. Because of the virtue of these rights, the positive and negative notions of freedoms— freedom to and freedom from—would be standardized and universally applied, and once entrenched would make Canada a free, model society for the rest of the world to emulate. That in why we argue for constitutional provisions to prohibit provincial or federal government interference, as this is necessary to guarantee the privacy of individual rights.
I too, like Gordon Fairweather, our Human Rights Commissioner, am anxious for an entrenched bill of rights. While it is certain that some rights require more protection, it is not this aspect which l personally find exciting. An entrenched charter of rights and freedoms is much more-it is a testament to the human spirit, a guide on how to live and grow in our humanity. All manners of excellence that we accept for our guidance, and all obligations to which we grant jurisdiction over us, can be defined by our respect for human greatness. As a statement of objects of our respect, a charter of rights and freedoms allows us to pass on continuously a rich inheritance for the as yet unborn Canadians for all time. In essence, such a charter codifics a standard of conduct between all men. A charter of rights is a statement of universal intent. The proposed charter will serve to make Canadians understood as a people and as a nation which realizes that the freedom of the subjective person to do as he pleases is overruled by the freedom of the responsible person to act as he or she must.
Even the most intimate rights of the individual Canadian cannot be enforced against the state without the corresponding judicial protection that entrenching in the Constitution would provide. It is the view of this government that the Constitution is the best place in which to provide for the protection of our freedoms. The members of this government concur with the thinking that civilization in part is measured by the willingness of those who have power to yield it up to third parties for adjudication.
The charter will accomplish much for us, but it will also tell us how others see and understand Canadians. In short, it will do much to reinforce our sense of national identity. I know one myth that it will dispel forever: never again will confederation be called the graveyard of minorities.
I return to my theme of unfinished business. I believe there are compelling reasons why we must move forward quickly at this stage of debate. I refer to a rather generally held belief, one held too long, that the present federal Constitution has much to do with the intractable problems of regional economic development and disparities. Surely all members of the House must realize that there is no alternative to our market system which can support our economic interests without threatening our personal freedom as individual Canadians. What is required is action by this government to establish and maintain an economic environment in which the market can best perform its essential function. Financial aggression on the part of one province which argues against mobility rights does nothing but serve to further institutionalize disparities in another province perhaps less fortunate in its natural endowments. The demand for greater provincial autonomy at this time only inhibits the development of a national economic strategy.
We are not proposing to put something over on the provinces. A statement made recently by my colleague, the Minister of Justice, offers instruction. He said:
We do not want to restrict the ability of the provincial governments to deal with social, cultural and economic issues within their jurisdiction; but we want to ensure that the required laws, regulations and practices do not discriminate against Canadians from other provinces. Such discrimination goes against the principle of economic union and creates internal barriers which go against a fundamental principle of nationhood.
By entrenching such a value in the Constitution, we are not proposing change for the sake of change, nor imposing a value that is academic. Rather, we are saying to the average Canadian that she or he has a basic constitutional right to economic security wherever it may be obtained in this country.
The constitutional reform proposal before the House essentially addresses the question of sharing our wealth to make
Canada work as it can, for it is vital that all Canadians enjoy a national standard of material well-being. To that end, Mr. Speaker, Part I, Section 6 of the Constitution Act provides every citizen of Canada with three basic economic rights. These are, first, the right to enter, remain in, and leave Canada; second, that every citizen and every permanent resident of Canada have the right to move from province to province and to take up residence; and third, the right of every Canadian to seek gainful employment without hindrance. These rights cannot be conditional or discriminatory in relation to a person’s previous province of residence. Anything less means that a Canadian citizen would have his basic citizenship right embargoed by the unilateral action ofa province.
In the recent past we have seen examples of construction workers not being allowed to work in a province where work was to be found. The first premier of Newfoundland believed in the concept of mobility rights, but the present leadership in Newfoundland does not support it.
Entrenching mobility rights and ensuring the free flow of capital does nothing to ruin federalism, as some members of the opposition have argued. Rather, it actualizes the concept. Ill-conceived and poorly erected barriers do not make good neighbours. Instead, discriminatory practices only serve the creed of those who would beggar thy neighbour. Now more than ever before, Canada must strive to be a country without internal barriers if we are to ensure the prosperity of Canadians and sustain our economic growth.
Mobility rights are principally the cement that holds our economic union together. This is why, Mr. Speaker, the Pepin-Robarts report concluded that reform of the Constitution and of Canada’s political institutions would be justified, even if the single purpose was to improve the ability of the Canadian public and private sectors to address themselves to the economic policy requirements of the future. Surely it is obvious, Mr. Speaker, that bargaining and negotiation with regard to these matters are rife with difficulties and significant costs.
This government believes that ample time has been provided to work out these issues, yet we have not been able to do so because of lack of agreement and the existence of more than one view of Canada, So in this session of Parliament in the spring of 1981, we have come to a constitutional crossroads. At this moment of history it is true that the Canadian caravan has travelled a long road to nationhood. Perhaps the will of this Parliament will provide us finally with a sovereign, constitutional democracy and, as some of us have longed for and hoped for, with a constitutional regime that can at last help us to cope with our problems and allow us to get on with our national life.
I thought Bruce Hutchinson said it best when he said:
After a hundred years of joint experience we are in a peril from no one but ourselves . . . and we hold in our keeping a trust much larger than we know.
The House resumed at 8 p.m.
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.
Hon. Marcel Lambert (Edmonton West): Mr. Speaker, this afternoon my colleague the hon. member for Calgary Centre (Mr. Andre) developed a theme which I should like to underscore once again, especially for the benefit of hon. members opposite, especially those from what is known as central Canada, and even more specifically those from the province of Quebec. I have been sitting in this House for a very long time now, one could say that I have heard a real litany of appeals from the representatives of the various ridings in Quebec asking other regions of the country to lend a sympathetic ear to their claims as francophone members from Quebec. Matters of culture, matters of language, they asked for our sympathy and they got it, not only that of the Members of Parliament but also that of the people, the country generally. Still, at this time, it seems to me I must point out the extraordinary deafness of a good number of my hon. colleagues concerning the claims of the people of Alberta. We are, above everyone all, the target of government policy here advocated. But, oh no! the hon. members from Quebec tell us, this is for the good of the country, when in fact an attempt is being made to
exploit the whole energy situation for the benefit of central Canada.
That lies ill in the mouths of members from central Canada and the people of central Canada, who last year for purely selfish motives would not accept a certain policy with regard to petroleum products. They insisted they should consume, consume and consume, all based on a subsidy, at ridiculous prices. But no one would suggest that any product from any province in central Canada should be sold at a very favourable price- at 40 per cent of its market value—to the people of the producing provinces. I refer to the iron ore of Ontario, the gold of Quebec and all the riches and natural resources of central Canada. It has suddenly come about that energy petroleum shall be a common resource. I am asking for comprehension and understanding, not an insistence on this foolhardy policy. All those members opposite who are interjecting have to go out and see the results of this policy of public brigandage, this national energy policy, which has been inflicted on the country by the present administration.
An hon. Member: That is not what we are debating.
Mr. Lambert: I invite the hon. member to rise to his feet and make his speech. I am talking about comprehension. There are devices within this package which, if used by unscrupulous leaders, can rob—and I use that Anglo-Saxon term deliberately—the people in the producing provinces of their resources. No one else dares do it. It is done under the guise of “for the benefit of Canada as a whole.” This is what we want those people, the very ones who reacted to my words, to understand.
I have seen stories appear in the press as a result of interviews with Members of Parliament from central Canada in which they said that the western provinces owe this as a matter of tribute to central Canada. That is why there is this ferocious opposition to the proposals contained in this resolution. There are no two ways about it, Mr. Speaker, The people in my part of the country understand them to be tied together because that is the way the design has been drawn.
I do not want tonight, Mr. Speaker, to go into the contents of this resolution. Rather, I should like to develop a scenario leading up to this resolution. As was pointed out time and time again, the governing party had nothing to say about the Constitution in its last election platform. It is only as a result of the intervention of the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) in the referendum campaign and during the winter election campaign that the issue was brought out. There was no indication when the referendum campaign would come, what would be the nature of the question, or what would be the nature of the debate in the province of Quebec, but there was this intervention. As the rest of the country also understood it, the people of Quebec expressed their concern about their place in the national framework and about the fact that the constitutional powers as they existed, particularly as to language and culture and a few other matters, were not adequate to meet the aspirations of the people of Quebec.
We heard the Prime Minister saying something will be done about it; suddenly that becomes an undertaking on behalf of the whole country. What that something was, was never spelled out. It was developed during the summer as a result of the ideas of one man and his advisers, not the Members of Parliament—they made no contribution to it at all. That participation in the Quebec referendum seems to have given the Prime Minister and many of his supporting members in the House the idea that they won the referendum campaign. Yet there was a hard working captain of the No forces who was the leader of the Liberal party in the province of Quebec. He worked the trenches far more than the others, but he was dismissed because of his idea, and we know—
—and the hon. members from Quebec know that the beige paper of Mr. Ryan and the Quebec Liberal party does not agree with the principles of this resolution. In the matter of the Constitution and its amendment, the beige paper and the Quebec Liberal party are completely ignored. So, who speaks for Quebec? The Right Hon. Prime Minister and his members? The Liberal members? The newspapers are against, public opinion is against, the Quebec government is against, the Quebec Liberal party is against, but here in the House with a majority of the hon. members coming from central Canada, an attempt is being made at imposing amendments to the Constitution, changes in powers.
One must understand, Mr. Speaker, it is not only the question of the patriation of the Constitution with an amending formula that is at issue. There has to be a charter of rights. Who devised the charter of rights; the people who are affected by those rights, the people whose rights they are? They are the last ones to be considered. Mr. Speaker, that is contrary to the legal principles which govern the fashioning and the definition of the Constitution which, according to my understanding of the law, is that body of laws coming from a people that are given to a government for the better governing of that people.
There has to be consent to that rule of conduct. Is there consent to this? That is the last thing that seems to worry the Prime Minister and the supporters of this resolution. Eight of the provinces whose powers are affected are against this unilateral patriation with the amending formula as devised and with the charter of rights. How does this in any way square with the definition of a constitution? On the contrary, in the minds of the Prime Minister and his advisers this law shall be imposed upon the people. There have been repeated speeches and statements by the Minister of Justice (Mr. Chrétien), the Prime Minister and supporting members that the people will have to accept this; that this will win and be imposed upon the people. It is a complete denial of the rights of man as a composite of society in this country. It is one of the great tragedies of today.
This whole matter started off on the wrong foot, For a long time I have been an opponent of the idea of first ministers’ conferences which come to conclusions and binding agreements without the sanctions of the legislatures beforehand. These depend upon personalities and are subject to the stress and of the relationship of 11 men. The present premiers and the Prime Minister are not the first persons to have held these views. These first ministers’ conferences make a nonsense of this body, of provincial legislatures and of people who may have opposing views.
There were negotiations during the summer culminating in the September conference. I can readily understand why some of the premiers could not agree. It was because they knew the people behind them in their provinces did not share their views. They did not represent the constitutional views of their people. The premiers of provinces leading minority administrations—even those who hold narrow majorities, including the Prime Minister—do not have the majority of the views of the people backing them. There was not a constitutional debate in the House to see what ideas would come forward, so that they would be adequately presented to the Leader of the Government. Several provincial premiers from time to time have had resolutions debated in their houses before coming to federal-provincial conferences. It would have been better if all premiers had followed such a step prior to the September conference. My comments include the Prime Minister. The Constitution represents or governs all people; all people from various walks of life are entitled to be heard.
Certainly in my book there should have been a constituent assembly. I know some members of the press ridiculed this idea, but it is an honest and proper one.
Mr. Collenette: Parliament is a constituent assembly.
Mr. Lambert: In so far as the people of Canada are concerned, this Parliament does not represent their views regarding a Constitution for this country.
Mr. Collenette: You are insulting yourself.
Mr. Lambert: There is no way that the hon. member opposite represents the supporters on the provincial side of this federation in his province. There are separate powers in a federation. We are not a unitary state. Some members opposite behave as though they are swashbucklers, that everything will fall in behind them, that the provincial houses do not matter, that the provincial houses do not have any real powers, that they are only hangers-on or something to handle the periphery; but that is not so. Under the British North America Act provinces have exclusive powers.
Mr. Chénier: We have not touched them.
Mr. Lambert: I hear the hon. member. The federal government has shoved its nose for years into the field of education. The federal government deliberately grabs. I call it public brigandage, especially with regard to petroleum products.
Mr. Blais: Read the resolution.
Mr. Chénier: You are mixed up.
Mr. Lambert: Hon. members opposite are starting to sense that something is wrong.
Mr. Chénier: We are trying to help you.
Mr. Lambert: I know the superior intellect of the hon. member is hard at work on this subject. He thinks he has come up with the blueprint. All he is prepared to say is, “Ready, aye ready; how high can Ijump; how many times shall I vote?”
Mr. Chénier: At least I have read the resolution.
Mr. Lambert: In this country, as in all countries, there are many other people aside from parliamentarians who have a contribution to make to the writing of the Constitution. That should have been the plan. it is easy for the first ministers to meet and to devise a plan for the calling of a constituent assembly representing academic and third parties. For instance, in my province one party has a huge majority, the federal government party has zilch to contribute in so far as the legislature is concerned, and the third party has ohe man. The third party in my province is the NDP. Its leader has dissociated himself from his national leader. He will not go along with the present proposed arrangements. Also the government of Saskatchewan has dissociated itself. This indicates that there is a diversity of views and that there is no way, in so far as a Constitution is concerned, that they will paint the country the same bland colour with the same broad brush. That is precisely what we were told this afternoon we should do; it should apply to all people across the country in the same way and that there should not be any recognition of any regional diversity. In other words, we were told we should not recognize there is a diversity with regard to language and culture in the province of Quebec. This should apply right across the board. The Atlantic provinces should be handled in the same way as the prairie provinces. Newfoundland, the newest recruit to the Canadian family of provinces, should be squeezed, moulded, pressed and ejected just like any other sausage. That is not Canada. It is only those people who want to bury their heads in the sand in central Canada who will insist upon this.
The government thinks what is good for central Canada, what is good for Quebec and Ontario, shall be good for the rest of the country. That is why we are getting this strong feeling. I must warn hon. members across the floor that the feeling is far more serious than they would believe. They may think I am just crying the blues but, Mr. Speaker, my public life has given me, I hope, some knowledge. As a bilingual Canadian from western Canada, understanding as I do, in part, the feelings of my colleagues in Quebec, I find it extraordinary that there is not that same exchange or that same comprehension of the problems and the aspirations of western Canada.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Lambert: I thoroughly reject any suggestion by the Prime Minister to anyone who is not prepared to go along with this type of patriation in the Constitution, regardless of how it is done that, the end will always justify the means, but so say the Liberals. That is commandment number one in their lexicon. The public want a Constitution in Canada, as long as it is a Constitution made in Canada, and that should satisfy them. That is not so. We found in the referendum campaign an example of the end justifying the means.
As you know, members of this house have the privileges of distributing householder mailings at public expense. Just prior to the calling of the referendum campaign there was issued from the facilities in this House a householder mailing limited to the province of Quebec. A uniform householder mailing, in the name of a person other than the one who represented the constituency, was circulated. The three commissioners who were selected by the Prime Minister, before Madam Speaker was elected, authorized and approved the nature of the document. It did not conform to the guidelines for printing documents in this House. In addition to that, it was not printed by the facilities of this House but was farmed out to some outside contractor without any submissions. By the time the Post Office costs had been calculated into the total cost it was estimated that this mailing cost something over $600,000. The cost to the House was buried in the supplementary estimates over which the guillotine fell. I queried it but the guillotine fell when I was absent from the country. I raised the question earlier with respect to this matter but the answers have not been forthcoming. But, Mr. Speaker, they will.
What I mean is that certain Quebec members can get together in a common effort toward the Quebec referendum campaign. This does not excuse letting that job out to a favourite Montreal printer without any submissions. Five semitrailer trucks pulled in behind the Confederation Building and bundles of printed matter were distributed through this institution.
Mr. Collenette: When will you talk about the Constitution?
Mr. Lambert: I am talking about the ends justifying the means. It is the same with this Constitution. The Prime Minister says the British government must accept the resolution regardless of its nature. He says it has been done in the past, in some eases. Never has it been done with the opposition of the provinces, as he is to do it now.
I would like to point out to hon. members, some of whom have perhaps never taken their law, that under the common law the theory of a trust has been developed. They do not know what trusts are in civil law. For them, they do not exist. But the trustee has an obligation toward all parties and all beneficiaries under a trust. When the Statute of Westminster was amended, at the request of the federal government and the provinces, the question of the amendments affecting the powers was deliberately left within the Statute of Westminster. They could not agree on the amending formula. The government trots out this 54 years of trial; that is a lot of malarkey. There have only been a few attempts at reaching agreement on an amending formula. There has not been a constant struggle. That struggle is in the imaginations of a few people. Now, because there is a document before us, and the other place, which has an amending formula that is unfair to some provinces does not matter. The provinces’ rights and consent to the administration of this trust shall be overridden at the behest of one of the parties to the trust. Since when is that legal? It never has been.
Mr. Collenette: The Manitoba Court of Appeal says so.
Mr. Lambert: It never has been legal and the British certainly will not think it is. The British do not think it right and they are the ones who will have to act. The idea that the British will have to hold their noses as they vote in favour of it, again, is an exemplification of the end justifying the means. The end is merely the patriation of a Constitution in order to have it in Canada regardless of how it protects the rights of the people. I find this to be totally incomprehensible. As far as one can ascertain, a substantial majority of people are against the unilateral patriation with the charter as devised. Eight out of ten provincial administrations say it is wrong. The majority of newspapers in this country, regardless—
An hon. Member: Where do they stand in the polls?
An hon. Member: That means we are right.
Mr. Lambert: It is only those who have closed minds who would dare disregard the opinions of others. Might is right in the eyes of the hon. member. There is another saying that there is nothing so tyrannical as a temporary majority. The epitome of that saying is the tyranny of this situation at the present time; the desire, yes, the insistence upon going to Westminster before the Supreme Court of Canada shall have ruled on the question.
Just imagine the sort of a result that would be; for the Prime Minister of Canada to request the government at Westminster to pass this resolution to amend Canada’s Constitution, on the unilateral request of the Parliament of Canada, containing amendments which the Supreme Court of Canada—not the Privy Council—would rule were beyond the powers of the Parliament of Canada. What sort of a horse’s neck situation would that be? I am only using the polite end of the horse.
Again, the end would justify the means, disregarding that in this House the majority of the support for the resolution is not wide; nor is it in the other place. That should give hon. members pause.
I will admit some hon. members are opposed to the resolution for differing reasons, but that is only part and parcel of the whole situation. For instance, we cannot accept a charter of rights which denies the right to property, and the lawful use of that property. That is fundamental to all of us.
My colleague, the hon. member for Calgary Centre (Mr. Andre) talked about his grandparents coming to this country before the turn of the century so they might own property.
This is the dream of all men. I can go up and down the rows on this side and on that side of the House, and I will see post-generations of people who did the same thing, who came from Europe because they could own land in Canada, Have tiny of the members from the metro area ever inquired of their ltalian friends why they came to this country? Having dealt with Italian immigrants for decades, I know their dream was to own property, which they could not own in their own country. Economic conditions would not prevent them from owning property. Let us look at those countries that are being collectivized. Let us look at all those tens of thousands of people who have come to us from China. People have come from all parts of the world.
Like many of the hon. members on the other side, my first male ancestor came to this country in the mid-seventeenth century. These people were peasants from France who could not own land. At that time the system did not permit the ordinary man to own land, so they came out to colonize. They were given grants of land. The first record of my male ancestor is the notarial act granting him land in Lotbiniere county in the province of Quebec in 1670.
On my mother’s side, prior to 1910, my grandfather, who was a tradesman, a machinist, and later a hardware man, came to this country to take a homestead. He did so because he could own land. Will we deny to our fellow Canadians, through the Constitution, that they shall have a right of property?
Mr. Baker (Nepean-Carleton): Never!
Mr. Lambert: That is a denial, of the most fundamental nature, of a principle injustice in that charter of rights.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Douglas Roche (Edmonton South): Mr, Speaker, some eight years ago, during one of my first speeches in the House of Commons, I said, “It is time for Canada to hear the voice of the new west. We want justice for ourselves, just as we are ready to do our part to obtain justice for all.” I called for “a new harvest of national unity in which the rights of all Canadians would be protected and fostered.” Today, in this historic debate, I return to my central theme of justice for all Canadians; and, even more, faithfulness to the integrity of Canada itself.
I have not come here today to be partisan or to indulge in personal attacks on anyone. I appeal to members opposite, who have the same love of country which has brought me here, to listen to a voice from the new west. I speak to you as one who was born in Montreal, grew up in Ottawa, sat in the galleries of this House for hours upon hours as a student, lived in the United States, and travelled the world, and now proudly claims Alberta as my home, a province where all my children have been educated in the French language and are fully bilingual.
Let me start by saying what I stand for on behalf of my constituents in Edmonton South. I want a Canadian Constitution that is made in Canada. I want our Constitution, the British North America Act, brought home from Britain, and any and all changes in it made here in Canada by Canadians. I want reforms that strengthen Canadian federalism not destroy it.
What will the proposed resolution do if passed? Instead of a new Constitution made in Canada, we would have one made in Britain. Instead of changes being made by Canadians, we would have the fundamental federalist nature of Canada radically altered by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Instead of reforms which would strengthen Canadian federalism, we would institutionalize and perpetuate a second-class citizenship for the province of Alberta.
I cannot believe that members who take their responsibilities seriously to the history and to the future of Canada would ever pass such a resolution. Members must understand the gravity of what lies before us, For the federal government to unilaterally force Westminster to violate the federal basis of the Canadian union would lead to the breakup of Canada.
This is not a flag debate revolving around the emotions evoked by symbolism. This is a constitutional debate which will change the balance of power under which all Canadians are governed.
We must keep our eyes squarely on this issue.
The resolution before us does violence to the basic tenets of a federal state in which the rights and responsibilities of the federal and provincial levels of government have just claim to equal recognition and respect. The resolution does violence to this principle because it proposes an amending formula which would give two provinces, Ontario and Quebec, a permanent veto over any constitutional change. This would clearly make the Canadians I represent second-class citizens in their own country. Note well, Ontario and Quebec would always have a veto, no matter what population shifts occur in Canada. Alberta and the other provinces would not have a veto as individual provinces unless they comprise 25 per cent of the population. Right now Alberta has 8 per cent of the population of Canada, We are rightly concerned that under this resolution a future amendment could take away Alberta’s rights to its natural resources. The resolution does even more violence because it would give the federal government unilateral power to use a referendum to make constitutional changes without any reference whatever to the elected provincial governments and legislatures.
To serve some unspecified goal, the federal government has torn up its own white paper on the Constitution written in 1965, which reads:
The Canadian Parliament will not request an amendment directly affecting federal-provincial relationships without prior consultation and agreement with the provinces.
The reason the Progressive Conservative Party is fighting this resolution with all its strength is because we recognize that it would end completely the partnership of Canadian federalism, That is why my party overwhelmingly supports the
amendment introduced by the hon. member for Provencher (Mr. Epp) to delete the referendum section from this resolution.
My colleagues and I did not come to Parliament to rip apart the very fabric which has made our country great. It is impossible for successful constitutional revision to emerge out of a process which is unilaterally forced and inherently divisive. That is the essence of the message we must go on repeating. Of all those who are fighting this attack on the Canadian system, one man has stood out as a champion of a united Canada, namely, the Leader of the Official Opposition (Mr. Clark)—
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Roche: —who instinctively recognized the grave dangers in the resolution when it was unfolded by the Prime Minister before the Canadian people on television last fall, and who immediately opposed it at a time when public opinion appeared to favour the Prime Minister. It is the Leader of the Opposition who deserves the credit for awakening our country to a full realization of what this resolution contains.
Let us look for a moment at the record of opposition throughout Canada and Westminster to this proposal. Sixty-four per cent of Canadians, with a majority in every region, disapprove of the federal government’s unilateral action. Only 22 per cent approve. Eight of the ten provinces are against this action. Six provinces have taken the government to court. Both Quebec Premier Rene Levesque and Liberal leader, Claude Ryan, are totally opposed to this proposal as are the major editorialists in that province, despite the Prime Minister’s claim that his resolution is a positive response to the Quebec referendum.
The provincial NDP has publicly opposed this resolution in Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec. Four New Democratic Members of Parliament have broken with their leader on this issue. So far, three Liberal senators have spoken against the proposal in the Senate. Last Thursday, in the House, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Duclos) gave a very important and moving address recording his opposition. Maxwell Cohen, one of the Liberal government’s expert witnesses before the constitutional committee, and Gordon Robertson, former secretary to the cabinet for federal-provincial relations, have both opposed the referendum provision.
The inter-party committee of the British House of Commons, headed by Sir Anthony Kershaw, has raised serious questions about the ability of Westminster to properly respond to a constitutional demand by Canada which lacks the kind of provincial government support but would henceforth be written into an amending formula.
In addition to this diverse and widespread opposition, we are just beginning to hear from the courts. Although the Manitoba Court of Appeal rendered a split decision in the governrnent’s favour, I believe the opinion of Mr. Justice O’Sullivan will turn out to have wide support from among the judiciary elsewhere. Mr. Justice O’Sullivan said:
Each province has entered confederation on the understanding that our country is a federal stale, a federal union. its fundamental terms cannot he changed without unanimous agreement, because such a change in a fundamenlnl term would change the very nature ofthe federal union.
Mr. Justice O’Sullivan went on to say:
This does not mean that every amendment which affects dominion-provincinl relationships requires unanimous consent, but only those amendments which affect fundamental terms of the union.
Surely it stands to reason that constitutional change, as Senator Manning, the distinguished former premier of Alberta, has argued:
—should not be the first but the last step in any constructive process tn implement such changes as are not only desirable but acceptable to the people and governments concerned.
Senator Manning concludes:
A successful revision of the Constitution of this or any other democratic country will not be the reward of those prepared to tear the country apart to gain their own ends, but of those who by wise, patient, constructive leadership have first guided the nation into an era of mutual trust, willing co-operation, and national goodwill.
Trust, co-operation and good will are desperately needed on all sides if we are to hold this country together. In my home province of Alberta the seeds of frustration and alienation, so long in the ground, have become a shoot of separatism.
No one can deny the anger that prevades my province as a result of the government’s constitutional and energy policies which manifestly discriminate against us. You can be sure that every responsible politician in Alberta at both the federal and provincial levels is trying to stamp out separatism, but separatism will grow unless the constitutional and energy questions, which are clearly interrelated in Alberta, are resolved with a sense ofjustice for all.
The new west has economic strength and it will never stand for second-class citizenship or policies which take unfair advantage of our resources just to build the political popularity of the government in heavily populated central Canada. In Alberta, we are not asking for special treatment, we are asking for fair treatment. When the fires of separatism were burning brightly in Quebec, the federal government went out of its way to develop policies designed to show the people of Quebec why they should stay in Canada. Now when some Albertans feel provoked enough to consider separatism, the federal government seems bent on policies that encourage the separation argument. I call on the federal government to show in Alberta today the same concern for national unity that it demonstrated in Quebec.
In the 1970s, the people of Alberta came to understand, and be sensitive to, the problems of Quebec. Before the Quebec referendum there was an outpouring of support in Alberta for a better deal for the people of Quebec in a renewed federalism. In my own constituency, I held a national unity rally—in order to send a message to Quebec—that was one of the most successful political events I have ever held.
Out west, we care about people throughout our country because we intuitively understand it is the combined strength
of all the regions, each with its own characteristics and integrity, that gives Canada its over-all strength. Out west we do not regard the provinces as appendages of our federation, we regard them as integral. Just as we in Alberta expanded our view of Quebec, now l ask particularly the Quebec members of Parliament to enlarge their view of the true new west, the real Alberta of hopes and fears and dreams that l and my colleagues represent. When the Minister of Justice (Mr. Chrétien) goes out west, stumping for this resolution, he says he is telling Canada. But we do not need to be “sold” Canada. We want to play a stronger part in Canada, not pushed off into a corner.
We listened in Alberta when the question was asked, “What does Quebec want?” Now we ask for Parliament’s response when the new question is asked: “What does Alberta want?”
Alberta wants a strong central government, balanced by strong provincial governments. We believe provincial governments provide an important “check and balance” in Canada’s federal system. ln 1978 Alberta released a position paper on the Constitution, “Harmony in Diversity”, which made 29 recommendations for constitutional change. We support the proposed amending formula known as the “Vancouver consensus”, because under its terms all provinces would have equal constitutional and legal status.
I said a moment ago that in Alberta the constitutional and energy issues are interrelated. In fact, an Edmonton Journal-Calgary Herald poll published over the week end shows that 68 per cent of Albertans disapprove of the federal government’s unilateral move on the Constitution and 79 per cent disapprove of the government’s energy policies. Just as the constitutional resolution would make Ottawa more dominant, the National Energy Program reflects a desire to further centralize authority in Ottawa. The present energy policy is an unprecedented attack on provincially-owned resources.
Members from central Canada must understand that resources, as Premier Lougheed puts it, “are the passport to the west.” We do not have the potential in manufacturing that central Canada does. We are a long way from markets. We have high transportation costs. We are not on tide water. The only way we can have jobs at home is to have a strong resource industry and then work to process that industry.
Let me pause to note that one of the greatest political leaders in the entire history of Canada is Peter Lougheed. The reason he is so firmly supported by Albertans is that, in strongly defending the rights and aspirations of our province, people recognize the Lougheed way is the only way to a strong and truly united Canada from sea to sea. I might add, the fact that Alberta is the only province of the ten where the government’s share of the economy has shrunk in the past decade, has not hurt him.
It is said that the Alberta heritage savings trust fund is making us inordinately rich. But this fund, which is built from a rapidly depleting oil reserve. represents just eight weeks of federal government spending. It is said that Alberta must share the benefits of our resources with our fellow Canadians, which is a not too subtle way of saying we are selfish. But Alberta has already contributed $35 billion to our fellow Canadians since 1973 by selling our oil at less than we could have received in the marketplace. We are not asking to be canonizcd for this contribution, but is it right that we should be portrayed as self-serving when we want to develop our resources in order to make Canada self-sufficient in energy and thus continue to make a major contribution to the national Canadian interest?
Alberta is prepared to charge only 75 per cent of the U.S. price for our oil, and for natural gas 85 per cent of the price of oil. In Quebec, the price of natural gas would be as low as 65 per cent of the price of oil. This would be a four-year contribution of $24,000 per Albertan. Moreover, Alberta is committed to $7 billion for an all-out effort to develop the Alberta oil sands.
What are Alberta’s conditions? First, no punitive taxation of the industry, and, second, respect for provincial ownership by having no export tax or wellhead tax which would invade provincial jurisdiction. lnstead, the National Energy Program proposes a lower price for natural gas, an oil price that will be less in real terms than the already low 40 per cent of actual value, and taxes which can be described in no other way than as a federal royalty on a provincial resource. As a result of a taxing regime which has created chaos in the conventional industry so vital to the economies of the producing provinces, there is now taking place an alarming exodus from Canada of drilling rigs, the result of which will be 140,000 lost Canadian jobs in not only the energy industry, but steel, housing and other principal industries in central Canada.
When the people of Alberta see energy production halted because of wrong-headed federal government policies, when they see jobs lost not only in the west but in central Canada as a result of these policies, when they see a deadlock in negotiations, when they see us blithely spending $5.2 billion a year to buy offshore oil from countries such as Mexico and Saudi Arabia at world prices without the money coming back to benefit Canada, when they see a federal government determined to force constitutional changes which will further reduce provincial strength; in short, when Albertans see our part of Canada weakened and impeded in trying to play our role in strengthening the whole of Canada, this fuels the fires of anger, and if this situation continues it will force a breakup of our union.
I say to my colleagues: It is time for the members of Parliament from Quebec to look seriously at what is happening in the new west. lt is time for the Liberal Party to take stock of the present,situation and to contemplate the future of that historic party which has given our country Laurier, St. Laurent and Pearson. It is time for the business community of central Canada to raise its voice of protest and be heard in the corridors of power in Ottawa. This debate can truly save our country. Or, if one listens, it can be but a footnote in the historians’ analysis of the Canada that was.
I have tried to make it clear that the amending formula and the divisive referendum are at the heart of my opposition to this resolution. There is, however, one other matter that deeply disturbs me and that is the form of the charter of rights. I cannot ignore in this, my major contribution to the debate, what is wrong in the charter.
First of all, the right of the provinces to give their assent to human rights provisions that fall within their jurisdiction has flowed from the nature of our federation. Surely even the most superficial reading of our history makes that clear. The federal government itself underscored the point in the 1970 Foreign Policy Review when it recognized that not even United Nations conventions on human rights could be ratified by this country until those provisions that fall within provincial jurisdiction had been supported by the provinces. The convention on racial discrimination and the convention on civil and political rights were specifically mentioned. The review even urged the development of effective procedures to consult with the provinces on a “more extensive and meaningful scale.”
Ten years ago the government upheld provincial consultation as the route to eutrenching human rights; today it acts unilaterally. Throughout our history, Section 92 of the BNA Act has protected provincial sovereignty in such fields as education; today the government would violate those rights by forcing Westminster to pass a new charter of rights that the provinces do not accept. Hardly an auspicious beginning to the so-called new era of rights.
In looking at the charter we again see before us the heart of the matter. The federal government is determined to force Westminster to violate the trusteeship of our federation which Ottawa and the provinces asked Britain to hold in the first place. What might otherwise be declared illegal by our courts will become legal through the legislative intervention of the British parliament. And the federal government dares to assert that something good will come out of this immoral, illegitimate process.
This charter is even more reprehensible.
Mr. Irwin: Which sections are you against?
Mr. Roche: It would have us believe that rights are conferred on people by their governments. This is quite the reverse of reality. In fact, human rights are inherent in human beings.
An hon. Member: And that is how it is drafted if you read it properly.
Mr. Roche: Everyonc’s civil, political, economic and social development rights are protected, not given, by governments. Whether a charter exists or not, every person, everywhere, has the right to life, to bodily integrity, to food, shelter, medical care and employment. Every person has the right to freedom in searching for truth, the right to a basic education and to be informed truthfully about public events. Everyone has the right to a just and sufficient wage, the right to private property with its accompanying social duties, the right to—
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Blaker): The hon. Minister for the Department of Supply and Services (Mr. Blais) on a point of order.
Mr. Blais: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. If the hon. gentleman would simply pay attention to the text of the resolution he would see that the rights are declaratory; the drafting is declaratory. Human rights are not granted, it is a process of recognition of the human rights that the hon. gentleman cherishes and I wish he would make that particular distinction.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Roche: To continue, everyone has the right to membership in the human family, the right to physical security and to live in peace.
These rights exist because they are implanted in every human being by God, the Creator of life. How ironical that not only docs the charter ignore this, it even ignores the pre-eminence of God.
Some hon. Members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Roche: The preamble in the Diefenbaker Bill of Rights declared that every human being created in the image of God has certain inalienable rights. Who dared to erase that preamble?
The Progressive Conservative Party moved an amendment in committee:
Affirming that the Canadian nation is founded upon principles that 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 free institutions.
Affirming also that individuals and institutions remain free only when freedom is founded upon respect for moral and spiritual values and the rule of law—
This amendment was rejected by the government. I wonder why? In rejecting a recognition of the supremacy of God the government has offended countless Canadians who want the spiritual values we inherited to be passed on to our children. This is not a Godless society; woe to the government that tries to make us one.
Moreover, we look in vain in this charter for a recognition of the special place of the family in our society, the right to the enjoyment of property, to protection from unreasonable interference with privacy, and to access to information.
As to the language provisions of the charter, I point out to members that in Alberta we already have a system of education which provides a tax supported full education program in the French language from kindergarten to college. No one had to force Alberta to do this. It has come about because there is in our province support for minorities and a desire to be fair to all. Those who argue that the implementation of rights is best left in the hands of legislators, sensitive to changing public needs, rather than the fixed view of courts, can find in Alberta much substance for their view.
I come now to the very difficult question of abortion as it will be affected by the charter. The government has said that the charter will not affect the abortion situation. I submit that
that view is entirely wrong. In fact, one of the results of this charter, little discussed as yet, will be the entrenchment of abortion.
We should not be fooled by the opening words of section 7: “Everyone has the right to life. . .” The courts have ruled that a fetus must be born to assert rights. The legal opinion submitted to all Members of Parliament by Stephens, French and McKeown, emphasizes that this charter gives rights only to persons who have been born.
Medical evidence today that a fetus is indeed human is overwhelming. I believe the unborn child has the right to life and, of course, that the mother has her right to life. When these rights come into conflict, as they do in rare medical cases, then one right must give way to another. Hence, our law permits abortion when the life or health of the mother is in danger. This law is grossly abused. It is impossible to believe that the 65,000 abortions annually in Canada are caused by medical problems. Many people want the present law tightened, but that is a matter for debate by itself. We leave that alone for now.
What I am stating here is that if the present charter is passed confirming that a fetus has no rights, then the age of abortion on demand will have arrived. I do not think hon. members want this to happen. The government could eliminate any ambiguity by specifying in Section 7 that the right to life begins at conception, and such action would not interfere with a mother’s legitimate right to abortion. I say very seriously that it would be a sacrilegc if, in the name of human rights, this charter denies the right to life of the unborn.
To sum up, I support, as our party has all along, the patriation of our Constitution with the Vancouver amending formula. That would be a positive, constructive action for the government to take and would end this debate instantly. In such an atmosphere of renewed good will, politicians at all levels would be under great pressure to agree on a charter of rights made in Canada which would be acceptable to the widest number of people, Then we would be able to get on with the pressing work of Parliament; the solving of our increasing economic, energy and social problems. We would then be able to turn our attention to the world outside Canada, which is in great conflict. The economic, social and political problems of the world are alarming, and Canada is not playing its full role because so much of the time and energy of government and Parliament is taken up by our internal preoecupations.
Let the federal and provincial governments get back to the bargaining table. That is what Canadians want. Failing that, I must continue to oppose the unilateral and divisive action of the federal government.
In my speech eight years ago, to which I referred, at the opening of my remarks I said of the new west:
We have no time for narrow fixations or old battles. We want to spend our energies solving the economic and social problems facing us. In the west we have brains, energy and goodwill, and we will not be deflected from our task.
To all hon. members I say, let us get on with the job of helping all Canadians achieve their levels of greatness.
Mr. Lyle S. Kristiansen (Kootenay West): Mr. Speaker, in discussing the motion and amendment before us I would like to begin by saying that I support the motion and reject the amendment currently before the House.
I would like to make the observation that there was a mood among the Canadian people across the country which reached its peak, I believe, during the last two winter campaigns. I ask hon. members to reflect on that mood. The mood was sparked by months and months of high profile squabbling prior to both the 1979 and 1980 elections. As I read it, and as many others, including many in the media, read it, the mood of the people at that time was: for God’s sake, stop being so partisan; stop beating each other over the head; stop reducing political debate to negative commercials with slow-motion hockey, card tricks and shell games; stop making politics a joke; stop being negative; stop being critical; and start cooperating together to solve some of the country’s problems. They were saying basically: If the idea is good, support it; if the idea is bad, reject it; try to improve things, regardless of labels and regardless of party.
I told the people in the constituency of Kootenay West, and NDP candidates right across Canada told the people of this country, that if elected—and a number of us were—we as Members of Parliament and as New Democrats would strive to be constructive, not negative, and to judge policies presented by whatever government should be in office on their merits regardless of the source. We further pledged that we would work together with all members of all parties in an attempt to come to grips with all the problems, structural, social and economic, which face us as a people and as a nation.
I am proud to say that the NDP as a party and, in all humility, I believe I as an individual member, have done just that during this debate, during the House consideration of the entire constitutional resolution and all of the proceedings which preceded the presentation of the resolution. We have kept our word, and we will continue to keep faith with those who sent us here in the spirit of the commitments we made at that time. That is why the NDP and I support this motion.
What does the motion do? We are bringing our Constitution home. Everyone knows that. Everyone apparently agrees on that, although one would have to wonder, with some of the discussion which takes place.
Second, we are providing an amending formula which can work. It has a builtain mechanism for providing a more broadly acceptable formula over the next two years with a deadline and a fair deadlock-breaking mechanism. There is no arbitrary action there. Some of my colleagues, those to my right in particular, have been saying that we ought to have another go-around with the premiers. That is in the package; it is in the resolution. There will be another go-around, and perhaps several. That is built into that two-year period. There is simply a deadline for reaching an agreement.
If I may say so, all of my experience, all the experience of millions of other Canadians in the Canadian labour force who are members of Canadian trade unions and the experience of thousands of others throughout industry, has been that when you are bargaining about sharing money, power and authority every year, as those people do, negotiations without deadlines cannot and will never bear fruit; they never, never do. Agreements just do not happen that way. This may work in some armchair academic debating society, but it does not happen that way in real life. When real power, real authority, real dollars and real interests are at stake, that is simply the way it is. Frankly, I am rather dismayed when members of this House show such little knowledge of the realities of political life and power-sharing that they cling to such kindergarten level dreams as unanimous agreement on formulae for nation-building.
I would like to get back to what the motion is about and to what we are doing.
Mr. Blenkarn: That is a good idea.
Mr. Kristiansen: The third point is that we are establishing a charter of rights with new clarifications and judicial protection for women, for the disabled and for such national minorities as those who, in the experience of many members of this House and certainly thousands outside, had the experience of being in internment camps during the Second World War. Many of these people are still resident in my constituency. We are finally providing such people with protection.
There is not a written law anywhere in the world which can stop fools from behaving like damned fools. If governments insist on acting arbitrarily, as ours did in this country with citizens of Japanese descent, and if we should again go through another aberration of the misuse of power and authority, as happened in 1970 with the War Measures Act in the province of Quebec—and the hindsight around here is tremendous—then nothing will stop the initial brunt of that kind of brute force. But there can be redress, and, to the extent it is possible for a judicial and legal system to provide protection for people, that is what this charter attempts to do.
This is not a perfect document. I do not think any of us are so enamoured of ourselves that we think we are capable of perfection, but we strive for it and that is what life is all about. According to Gordon Fairweather, a former leading member of the Conservative Party, now head of the Human Rights Commission—a man for whom I have the highest personal regard and with whom I have worked on matters of race relations—this charter is one of the best charters in the world, if not the best. This has been stated now by hundreds of other organizations which have contributed to the building of this charter.
People say that the charter is not being written in Canada. My God, I cannot think of any other single piece of legislation during my 25 years of active political life in which I have seen so many people involved in the drafting, We have had some 300 contributions from organizations, each of which has involved thousands more Canadians, and in some cases hundreds of thousands more Canadians, who have had meaningful and direct input into the drafting of that charter. For some people to suggest that we should cast that aside simply boggles the mind.
There is also the matter of the entrenchment of the important recognition of aboriginal and treaty rights for the first time in this land in a Canadian document. To those who say there should be unanimous agreement among the provinces on this, let me say that the way I read Canadian history and political life, I doubt that the provinces would ever agree to the entrenchment of those rights. We will certainly not castigate people of other parties necessarily. There have been provincial jurisdictions and provincial governments in this land composed basically of people of my own political persuasion, and our record in the past in that regard is not the best. But provincial governments and provincial legislatures guard some of those rights very carefully, and for us to suggest that we can have our cake and eat it too, that we can provide rights and still have unanimous agreement within the next few months, is really kidding somebody. Certainly the people who advocate that idea are, I suggest, only kidding themselves.
In the matter of the charter of rights, it has been argued by some that it is not couched in soulful terms, that it is not a beautifully written document. They ask why we cannot have something more similar to the Diefenbaker Bill of Rights, something as profoundly worded as the American Bill of Rights or the Declaration of Independence or like some other historic documents which have been written in flowery language.
Mr. Blenkarn: Something we can be proud of.
Mr. Kristiansen: Those people who make that criticism suggest that, at the same time, it is not written in sufficiently tight language. I suggest if you want a document which will stand up technically and properly in law, you have to forgive the fact sometimes that it does not use the most beautiful wording in the world. The two things do not necessarily go together.
Mr. Blenkarn: You cannot even be proud of this document.
Mr. Kristiansen: Is the hon. member saying he cannot he proud of it because it does not do the job or because it does not read well? One necessitates the other.
Mr. Blenkarn: It does not read well, and we cannot be proud of it.
Mr. Kristiansen: If the gentleman would prefer to have a document that reads well but provides no protection, that of course is his option, and it may very well be the option that has been taken by the Conservative Party during the entire debate.
There are others in the land who have said they reject the document because the process itself has been divisive. That is why they reject the proposition which, some of them admit, is
good in substance. I am afraid I do not have much sympathy with that kind of argument. Some of these people remind me of those happy warriors who, as soon as enemy reinforcements come to the scene of battle, leave the flanks or the rear of their allies unguarded because, suddenly, the process has become divisive.
If we look back on Canadian history, we see that the battle for hospital insurance in the province of Saskatchewan was not exactly peaceful, that the fight to protect farmland in British Columbia was not all peaches and cream, and that the fight for medicare in the province of Saskatchewan was no piece of cake. In fact, anyone who looks at history, either in this country or anywhere around the world, would have to say that the struggle for social progress, human rights and societal change is, by definition, divisive, and if people cannot stand the heat, they had better get out of the kitchen. It is as simple as that. I find it almost inconceivable that serious people who really want change cannot, for some reason, accept the fact that once in a while the process becomes divisive.
There are others in this land who say their big problem is that now the Senate can veto constitutional reform. That is another red herring which has been thrown into the debate on the Constitution. These people mistakenly believe that it is something new. Constitutional change in this country, even when it has been rooted in the BNA Act, has always necessitated Senate agreement, and there has always been a Senate veto.
A colleague of mine, who is not here this evening, the hon. member for Humboldt-Lake Centre (Mr. Althouse), was recently asked to sum up the argument of those who insist that we have now lost the chance we once had for Senate reform. My colleague, in his rather folksy but usually rather accurate manner, responded by saying: “I think the argument goes something like this,” and it is not one with which he agreed: “If you get the pig into the shute on the way to the pen and it gets away on you, it is harder to get it back in the second time around.” That, to me, is a rather specious argument for rejecting a process and a resolution which, in substance, offers much of that for which progressive-thinking Canadians have been fighting for years and years.
I would say again that the argument that somehow we are making the provinces weaker by this process amazes me. What is happening is that we have a federal government using its unilateral power, which is recognized politically, and now recognized legally, to ensure that we will never have federal unilateral power again. It is reduced to as simple an argument as that. How this action can be imagined by anyone of good faith and good will to be creating some kind of centralist state with dictatorial powers in Ottawa simply boggles the mind, not only mine but that of hundred of thousands of Canadians across the country.
In addition to using its unilateral power to ensure that it will never again have that power, there is also provision within the motion before us not only to recognize certain rights of resource ownership, resource management and indirect taxation and to reconfirm rights which provinces, prior to the court battles of the mid-1970s, thought they had, but there are additional powers of indirect taxation such as would provide, for instance, almost $600 million, at a minimum, to the province of Alberta alone. Those are new powers to the provinces; plus confirmations of previous powers that were taken away.
Again, there is no strengthening at the centre, but central authority and power is being used in order to ensure that the process of constitutional change is the one which has been demanded for years and years in this country. This process was promised during the referendum campaign in the province of Quebec in May of 1980, not only by many politicians and others, but by the leaders of all three federal political parties. At that time we promised that substantive changes would be made and that we would embark upon that course of action soon. It is the keeping of a commitment; it is the beginning of the road. It will provide what was pledged to the people of that province at that time. That is one of the reasons there is some sense of urgency.
I should like to comment for a moment on some rights which do not appear in the charter. There are those in the country who have suggested they cannot support the charter because it does not include the long list of so-called new social and economic rights which many people believe should be embedded in some form in Canadian statutes or hopefully in a Canadian Constitution. For instance, there is the right to collective bargaining; the right to withdraw onc’s labour which was granted as “No man shall be forced to build bridges” as far back as Magna Carta. It is not as important to spell out in any charter the collective rights of groups in society which have some power, albeit a negative power, and to protect their basic rights, as it is to protect individuals who have no clout or muscle of their own.
As I have always understood it, the first purpose of law is to give protection to those who are defenccless and do not have the means to protect themselves. As a Canadian worker and as a trade unionist, I have been able, together with my peers, to exercise a certain negative power to protect my fundamental collective rights. People who do not have the benefit of such organization are unable to do so. But there is another reason why some of us are not even eager to have them recognized within the Constitution.
For instance, the collective right to organize, to bargain and to withold labour was not first established by law. It was established because thousands of working men and women in Canada and elsewhere throughout the world collectively claimed it and exercised it. When government gave legal recognition to that right, it was limited thereby. There were many more severe limitations imposed than existed prior to its legal recognition. Certainly there are penalties and dangers inherent in defining and legally recognizing the rights of people who have some clout to defend themselves. When we weighs the two issues in balance it docs not make many of us
unhappy that those rights have been left out. Our experience with law has not always been a loving relationship.
In the time remaining I should like to say a few words about a few other subjects which have been raised. This has been a very emotional debate in some areas around the country. Oft times contributions were very far from accurate, not only in the argumentative sense but in the factual sense as well. I must say I was puzzled by some of the comments a few moments ago by, I believe, the member who immediately preceded me, that somehow abortion was being ruled out totally by the Constitution. It was not long ago that a former member of the House—
Mr. Baker (Nepean-Carleton): Ruled in.
Mr. Kristiansen: Fine, I stand corrected, I appear to have misstated something. But, the argument was that abortion was made legal by this Constitution and that it was now impossible to make political decisions in Canada to reverse that.
Mr. Baker (Nepean-Carleton): That is correct.
Mr. Kristiansen: That was simply an opinion, not a ruling. Not long ago a former member of the House, the previous member for Kootenay West, visited my constituency and said the exact opposite. He said that because of the wording of this Constitution, it might now be possible—and it might be ruled by the courts in the future—that “the right to life” would become a fact of life, and the advocates of that campaign would have their way. People cannot have it both ways. This is simply one small example of the duplicity which has characterized so much of this debate around the country. I hesitate to use the word “duplicity”, but I cannot think of another one. The hon. member for Vancouver Centre (Miss Carney) was in my constituency not long ago stating very clearly in the press, before reporters and audiences, in order to discredit some of those who supported this resolution and this process, that this party and its members had supported closure in the House of Commons.
Mr. Blenkarn: You did.
Mr. Kristiansen: That is a lie; that statement is a lie. If that mcmber or any other member wishes to raise that point, so be it. She was here a moment ago, but she seems to have left; perhaps she is behind the curtains.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Blaker): Order, please. Perhaps I did not fully understand the hon. member, but was he attributing to another hon. member of this House the statement that that hon. member had lied?
Mr. Kristiansen: Shall I stand, Sir, and reply?
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Blaker): I ask the hon. member to assist the Chair. I will put it in the form of a statement rather than a question. If the hon. member was indicating that another hon. member had lied, then it is the obligation of the Chair, pursuant to the rules of debate, to ask the hon. member to withdraw that statement. But, I am not sure I understood the hon. member perfectly; accordingly, I ask him to clarify his position.
Mr. Kristiansen: Sir, you may not have understood me perfectly. I said that it was reported in the press in my constituency and by people who attended a meeting addressed by the hon. member for Vancouver Centre that she said the members of this party in the House of Commons during the process of this debate had voted for closure. What I said is that that statement, if made, was a lie. I did not call the hon. member a liar. She may still choose to raise that question in her own way.
Mr. Knowles: The statement was incorrect.
Mr. Kristiansen: It was grossly incorrect.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Blaker): Order, please. I want to deal with that particular manner of debate. Whatever may be said from time to time of those who occupy the chair, there is one matter which presents a problem particular to me as one individual who occupies that position. I do not think what our standing rules prohibit directly ought to be permitted to be understood or accepted indirectly. I am not sure whether the hon. member is in fact attempting to attribute the characteristic of lying to another hon. member. But I do not intend to enter a splitting of hairs with any hon. member in this place. While I occupy the chair, if any hon. member directly or indirectly attributes that characteristic to another hon. member I will ask the hon. member who makes the accusation, directly or indirectly, to withdraw. I want to be clear about that so that any hon. member, notjust from the far corner but from every side of the House, understands me perfectly. The next hon. member who goes against what I have just said will be called to order by me and I will proceed, as I ought to, in the most rigorous sense. There are enough characteristics of debate which can give it heat and quality without resorting to that type of thing. I am not suggesting the hon. member has moved to one side or the other, I just want to take this occasion to make it clear that this officer of the chair will not have it, whether directly or indirectly.
Mr. Kristiansen: Mr. Speaker, to make it clear, I did not suggest that the hon. member was a liar or had lied. I did not do this by inference. I did not say that and it was not my intention. But the statement which was reported in the press was untrue. The public and hon. members of this House can draw their own conclusions. At some point the hon. member may wish to clarify her statement. This is simply one issue which has caused some problems for many Canadian citizens who have been trying to follow the debate and who have been trying to make up their minds on the basis of fact.
I had the privilege one night last week to listen to the hon. member for Edmonton East (Mr. Yurko). I would like to briefly quote some of his words. They are found at page 8107 of Hansard. He said:
However, I am distressed over accusations in the debate in regard to the inclusion of a reference to God in the Constitution. My belief in God is secure; it does not need to be enshrined in secular documents. lt is now enshrined in the greatest of all constitutions—the Good Book. I wholeheartedly accept its inclusion in the Diefenbaker Bill of Rights and I would be delighted to see God enshrined the preamble to the Constitution. What distresses me is the postulate that somehow we on this side are somehow more godly than members on the other side of the House, or that they are more godly than we, or that one person here in his or her judgment is somehow more godly than someone else in the House. Time will bring forth a constitutional preamble and God will be in it. If He so wills it to be.
I would recommend to some hon. members to my right the reading of that passage again and again, morning, noon and night. They would do well to learn a little humility from one of their colleagues, whom I certainly admire for his intestinal fortitude.
Another question which has been raised during the process of this debate, at least since a certain amendment was proposed by the government, and then withdrawn by it, has been the question relating to property rights. A number of people have been running back and forth across the country suggesting we were about to take cveryone’s toothbrush away, seize their homes or steal their rolls of toilet tissue since we did not include a section on property rights in the charter within this Constitutioin. The opposition to the inclusion of property rights is rather widespread, not only among us evil socialists, as some would say, but among many Conservatives and provincial governments from one end of the country to the other. I therefore find that argument more than a little hypocritical.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Kristiansen: I find it more than a little hypocritical for those selfsame advocates of unanimity and provincial rights to suggest at the same time that we should be putting property rights within the charter in the Constitution. That would do more to take away from provincial powers and authority than almost anything else which could be included in this document.
What would we say to people in the West Kootenays, the Okanagan, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan or British Columbia who believe they must do something to stop foreign ownership of lakeshore land and of waterfront land on both our coasts? What would we say to those who want to do something about preserving farmland and forest land in Canada? It is a direct infringement of provincial rights. Again, I would suggest that some of my friends to my right would do well to consult with some of their provincial colleagues to get their act in order before harping on that issue much longer.
It is not only my experience but the experience of many working people in this country and throughout the world that human rights are a relatively new invention on this planet. It is only recently that human rights have been protected by the state in almost any country. It is very recent in terms of human history. Property rights are so entrenched in the common law that they are in no danger. If we are ever to see a society which human rights receive equitable treatment before the law with rights of property, then I suggest it is not a bad idea to entrcnch many individual human rights within this charter while leaving property rights to the protection of the common law. Those rights have certainly been well protected throughout the history of this country.
The section on multiculturalism provides some new protection here as well. Recently in the state of Texas an employee was fired for speaking to a fellow employee in a language other than English. The Supreme Court of the United States rejected the appeal. Some might ask why? It is because of the right of an employer, under property and management rights, to tell his employees what language they can speak, not to customers but to each other. It just may be that with the language we have and have not put into this charter of rights, plus the section on multiculturalism, we may in fact be able to prohibit that kind of unacceptable action against minority language groups in this country.
If people think that kind of action does not take place in real life in the industrial world, then they know nothing of labour relations, and they know nothing of life on the floor of an industrial plant in many of our far-flung, single resource communities. Actions are taken in those places every day by employers which academics, lawyers and doctors simply would not either appreciate or believe. These actions are accepted because property and management rights are sacred. Very often individual human beings have nothing to go on except the collective strength of their fellows. Often the laws in place in this country make these people powerless. They are only able to act illegally in order to defend the basic human rights which should be granted to every individual throughout this land.
I simply say in conclusion that I and my party are proud to support the resolution before us. Many parts of this resolution have been amongst our party’s policies dating back to our predecessor party, the CCF, and to its founding convention in 1933. Certainly the call for a charter of rights in the Constitution was included then. That is one of the reasons we felt honour-bound to accept in principle the proposal before us. We have attempted to take a constructive attitude toward it.
I would finally conclude with a very short piece of prose— perhaps poetry-which I wrote when I was about the age of 17, which I entitled, “My Only Demands”. We are talking about rights. Some of us prefer to use other words. It is:
Give me the right and the opportunity to love; but also, and equally as important, give me the right and the opportunity to challenge and to vanquish all that wou|d destroy that which I do love.
That is why I am here. There are many thousands of Canadians who share similar sentiments. We are proud to take our place in this debate on an historical challenge and an historic occasion for Canada. We only hope the partriation of our Constitution and the divisive role which has been necessitated by the kind of debate which is giving birth to it will perhaps set a new era in place across this country, so that Canada may find itself able to take some of the other, sometimes uncomfortable decisions that must be made if we are not only to patriate our Constitution but to repatriate our econo-
my, and to take some of those crunch decisions necessary if we are to build a better country and fulfil the faith Canadians have on so many occasions shown; a faith not only in this country, but also a faith in those they continue to send to this place.