Canada, House of Commons Debates, “Statement by Premier of Newfoundland Respecting Federal Proposals”, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess (21 October 1980)


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Date: 1980-10-21
By: Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Canada, House of Commons Debates, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, 1980 at 3874-3875.
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COMMONS DEBATES — October 21, 1980

[Page 3874]

THE CONSTITUTION

STATEMENTS BY PREMIER OF NEWFOUNDLAND RESPECTING FEDERAL PROPOSALS

Mr. George Baker (Gander-Twilingate): Madam Speaker, my question is directed to the Prime Minister. Last night the Premier of Newfoundland made some extreme statements, claiming that measures proposed by this government could result in Newfoundland losing control over Labrador and its right to a denominational system of education. Could the Prime Minister assure the House that such is not the case?

An hon. Member: Isn‘t it in the Supreme Court?

Right Hon. P. E. Trudeau (Prime Minister): Madam Speaker, members of the opposition are asking about the Supreme Court. I would point out that the statements are clearly untrue, based not on an interpretation of the courts but on what our resolution itself says. When there are other methods of amending the constitution, we do not propose to use the amending provision; we propose to use the one which is preserved in our resolution by section 53 and item 4 of the schedule. In other words, we cannot change the boundaries of a province without the consent of that province.

An hon. Member: A referendum?

Mr. Trudeau: That is stated clearly in our resolution, if only Premier Peckford took the time to read it.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Madam Speaker: The hon. member for Joliette.

Mr. Trudeau: Madam Speaker—

[Page 3875]

Madam Speaker: Pardon. The Right Hon. Prime Minister had not finished with his answer, I am sorry. I will give him the floor.

Mr. Trudeau: Madam Speaker, the opposition often asks questions in two parts so I do not see why they would object to a question in two parts by a member on this side.

Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr. Trudeau: On this question of denominational schools, Mr. Peckford again failed to read the resolution. When we talk of freedom of religion, we are not following the type of protection given in the United States which forbids the establishment of religions. Therefore, far from abolishing the right of denominational schools to continue to exist, our proposed resolution, on the contrary, guarantees the existence of that freedom of religion. It is also guaranteed by section 93 of the British North America Act which is continued by the present resolution. So again, on this item Premier Peckford is completely off base.

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