Canada, Senate Debates, “Motion to Authorize Committee to Study Certain Aspects of the Constitution—Debate Continued”, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess (4 June 1980)

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Date: 1980-06-04
By: Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Canada, Senate Debates, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, 1980 at 397-403.
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SENATE DEBATES — June 4, 1980

[Page 397]



The Senate resumed from Thurdsay, May 29, the debate on the motion of Senator Lamontagne to authorize the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs to consider and report upon certain constitutional provisions.


Hon. Jacques Flynn (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, the other night I expressed some concern about the wording of the motion, but I have not had the official reaction of the mover. I do not know whether he wants to express, once again, his objections to what I said, or whether he would have me continue my remarks, leaving it to me to answer his questions at the end of the debate. But, if he would rather explain his position further, I am quite willing to yield to him.

Senator Lamontagne: As you wish.

Senator Flynn: In other words, you have nothing to add to support your proposal as stated.

Senator Lamontagne: I do have a statement to make but I did not make it, obviously, when I moved the motion. But in the remarks I intend to make, I do not want to cover this aspect only but also another part of the motion under study. I am therefore prepared to speak immediately. If Senator Flynn wants to proceed right away, obviously it is his right.

Senator Flynn: No, that is not my problem. As I said the other night, my problem is that I would not object to the proposal if it were amended to allow consideration of all problems related to the constitutional revision. If Senator Lamontagne says, “No, I stand by the motion as submitted, ” then I will explain my point of view and propose an amendment. But if the senator is ready to accept amendments, there is no need for me to speak at this time. If he says he accepts nothing—

Senator Lamontagne: You might convince me!

Senator Flynn: Maybe. One never knows. I would be greatly surprised, in all sincerity, for until now, after so many years of working in the Senate with Senator Lamontagne, I have come to believe that he has never changed his mind after proposing something to the Senate, regardless of any attempts to make him listen to reason. At least it has been very rare and I cannot remember an incident where he changed his mind.

Senator Lamontagne: That is completely false. Moreover, Senator Tremblay can testify that I even acceded to his request to amend my motion.

Senator Flynn: That is another matter. I am speaking of times when the text was before the house; you never changed your mind then. That you may have tried in this case with Senator Tremblay, I know, and I commend you for that. But, that is the minimum you have ever done. You have just conceded ever so slightly in the hope that in doing so it would suffice.

Senator Lamontagne: I did exactly as I was asked.

Senator Tremblay: Is that a question of privilege?

Senator Flynn: You may rise; this is certainly a question of privilege.

Senator Tremblay: Very well, I am consulting my leader to find out what the proceedure should be. Having been directly involved by what Senator Lamontagne has just said, I would simply like to inform honourable senators that when Senator Lamontagne first gave me—and this, I greatly appreciated—

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his first draft resolution, there was mention of only one matter: the future of the Senate.

Personally, having an overall approach to the matter, I pointed out to him that I was under the impression, as a member of this august place, I would feel very uneasy about talking only about ourselves, in our way of approaching the constitutional issue. So I made the suggestion—and here you will allow me to quote textually as we are old friends—and I said “at least add something that has to do with the contents”—

Senator Asselin: This is a motion to save face.

Senator Tremblay: —and then I think I had raised the issue. That is where he introduced his second material for thought— the issue of rights. Is there another one? No, there are only two.

But, as far as I was concerned, it was a matter of saving face, as someone just said, and not appearing in the common perception as being concerned only with our own future but also as thinking about the future of the country.

Senator Flynn: Honourable senators, the imbroglio between Senator Lamontagne and Senator Tremblay having been cleared up, I come back to the motion that is before us. As I pointed out the other day, what the motion proposes is to refer to the Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs two subject matters, the first one being individual and collective rights and I suppose their entrenchment in the Constitution, although that is not said specifically. The second is the eventual role of the Senate, or a Senate, because the text is a little obscure on that. I would point out that we have been studying the role of the Senate for a long time. We examined it in the Joint Committee of the House of Commons and the Senate on Bill C-60 and there was a report on that.

‘Then there was the Senate Special Committee on the Con- stitution which made observations. There was also a Special Senate Committee, if I remember well, on the Senate.

So, as Senator Tremblay pointed out earlier, it seems to me in the circumstances and particularly with all the things that have happened since the tabling of Bill C-60, especially the referendum in Quebec, it seems to me the central problem is certainly not the Senate. As far as I am concerned, if to keep the country united, we had to abolish the Senate, I would be the first one to vote for that solution.

Senator Lamontagne: I would like here to rise on a question of privilege. I believe Senator Flynn is reducing quite considerably the scope of the motion because I see a third aspect to it that I intend to explain in my remarks and which is to try and find an alternative to the Senate, to have the provinces control certain extraordinary powers of the federal government. It was mentioned a bit earlier, namely when would those powers be exercised in provincial jurisdictions. It is a third aspect which I think is more important than the other two.

Senator Asselin: Just say so in your motion.

Senator Flynn: Yes, of course, that can always be because of the text that is rather vague—provisions that could deal with the role of an eventual Senate. I quite agree it is not limited to the present Senate; it is not a defence. That is why I suggested to Senator Lamontagne that he elaborate on his proposal before I spoke. It does not matter. My first objection is that, regardless of whether it is a matter of saving the Senate as it is, or slightly changed, or replaced by another formula about which Senator Lamontagne could tell us, the problem now is not there.

As far as Quebec is concerned, and I believe that no one will disagree, the basic problem of constitutional reform concerns the division of powers and jurisdiction. I believe that there would not be a serious constitutional crisis in Canada at the present time if Quebec did not consider that the Constitution must be reviewed so as to meet certain aspirations expressed by successive provincial governments in the last 35 or 40 years. What is important is the issue of jurisdiction.

I do not want to take a position at this time as to whether the present division of jurisdiction is right or not. What I am saying is that the main problem with which we must deal is the division of powers. You simply have to consider the present debate; as long as we have not settled that problem, the matter of the Senate, the matter of the Supreme Court, the matter of institutions, all that will have no importance and nothing will be solved. The major defect of Bill C-60 was that it did nothing about the major controversy, that is the division of jurisdiction. Indeed, very few people are overly concerned about the matter of the Senate, even though I believe that, in principle, this question is very important and that something must be done about it. However, the type of institution that we need as a second legislative, consultative or collective house must depend on the matter of jurisdiction and the way that this jurisdiction will be used.

We had an example of this earlier in the intervention of Senator Tremblay, which should give us food for thought. There is not only the fact that the Constitution must state that such and such a thing comes under the jurisdiction of the provinces or the federal government. There is also the manner in which each level of government uses its jurisdiction. Perhaps the major defects or the major problems that we now face result from the fact that the central government has used its jurisdiction sometimes clearly, sometimes vaguely and sometimes obscurely. This is the problem with which we must deal. I do not see why we should tell a committee of the Senate not to deal with the major problem, the problem of the division of powers, and to deal only with two problems, that of collective and individual rights and that of the future of the Senate not, about which other committees have already made recommendations. The Joint Committee and the Special Committee of the Senate have already given their opinion on these matters. We would be telling the committee not to deal with the real problem to be solved.

For this reason, I believe that the committee must be able to discuss the division of powers and I therefore suggest that the motion be amended in this way:

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That the second, third, fourth and fifth lines of the first paragraph of Senator Lamontagne’s motion be stricken and replaced with the following:

“be authorized to consider and report upon the matter of constitutional reform with special attention being given to the question of the division of powers between the federal and provincial governments and to constitutional provisions regarding individual and collective rights.”


The wording in English would be as follows:

That the second, third, fourth and fifth lines of the first paragraph of Senator Lamontagne’s motion be stricken and replaced with the following:

be authorized to consider and report upon the matter of constitutional reform with special attention being given to the question of the division of powers between the federal and provincial governments and to constitutional provisions regarding individual and collective rights.


Honourable senators, may I add that this would in no way preclude, for example, that the committee appoint a subcommittee that would take the work of the special Senate committee on the Constitution, and give us an updated report on the work accomplished by that committee on that particular subject.

The idea is that in my view we must deal with the main issue without neglecting the others, but that we must take a stand before the Canadian public as addressing ourselves to really important rather than minor issues, because in my view the question of the Senate is a minor issue. Once the division of owers is settled, we will then be in a position to see what type of institution should crown the whole.

Hon. Maurice Lamontagne: Honourable senators—

The Hon. the Speaker: I shall first put the motion before the house, and Senator Lamontagne can then comment on it.

The main motion reads as follows:

It is moved by the Honourable Senator Lamontagne, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Frith:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs be authorized to consider and report upon constitutional provisions regarding individual and collective rights and upon the future role and composition of the Canadian Senate and alternative constitutional arrangements compatible with true federalism;

That the membership of the Committee be increased to thirty members and that Rule 67(1)(j) be suspended in relation to membership of the Committee;

That the Committee be empowered to engage the services of such counsel and technical, clerical and other personnel as may be necessary for the purposes of its examination and consideration of such legislation and other matters as may be referred to it; and

That the Committee have power to sit during adjournments of the Senate.

In amendment, it is moved by the Honourable Senator Flynn, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Tremblay:

That the second, third, fourth and fifth lines of the first paragraph of Senator Lamontagne’s motion be stricken and replaced with the following:

be authorized to consider and report upon the matter of constitutional reform with special attention being given to the question of the division of powers between the federal and provincial governments and to constitutional provisions regarding individual and collective rights.


If honourable senators wish, I shall read the amendment in English.

Some Hon. Senators: Yes.

The Hon. the Speaker: The English version of the motion in amendment is as follows:

That the second, third, fourth and fifth lines of the first paragraph of Senator Lamontagne’s motion be stricken and replaced with the following:

be authorized to consider and report upon the matter of constitutional reform with special attention being given to the question of the division of powers between the federal and provincial governments and to constitutional provisions regarding individual and collective rights.

Hon. David A. Croll: Honourable senators, if it is the intention to deal with this rather important amendment today, perhaps we should have a copy in our hands so that we may study it.

Hon. John Morrow Godfrey: Honourable senators, I should like to note one technical matter: The second line of the amendment begins with the word, “Affairs,” and is not repeated in the motion that Senator Flynn read out. I think he has omitted one word.

Senator Flynn: Perhaps you will have a problem with the English version. I accept the correction to the English version concerning the word “Affairs.”


Senator Lamontagne: Honourable senators, if I understand correctly the procedure which will be followed, should my motion be approved, the Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs would form a subcommittee to carry out its mandate described in the motion.

Senator Flynn: No. I said the committee might form sub-committees but there is no mention of subcommittees in the motion.

Senator Lamontagne: No, I am not talking about your proposal but rather about the proposal in general. I am saying that if I understand correctly the procedure which would be followed, should my motion be approved by the Senate—

Senator Flynn: We are on the amendment.

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Senator Lamontagne: Well I can speak not only to the amendment but also to the motion.

Senator Flynn: To the amendment.

Senator Robichaud: He can speak to his motion.

Senator Lamontagne: I can at least say a few words.

Senator Langlois: When speaking on the amendment, you may speak on the motion.

Senator Lamontagne: Let me make my point at least; I can say what I want to say to get to the amendment. Therefore I am saying that the Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs would form a subcommittee to carry out its mandate described in the motion. The subcommittee, once it would have completed its work, would give its findings to the committee, which would report to the Senate through its chairman, Honourable Senator Goldenberg.

This procedure seems totally acceptable in view of the restricted nature of the mandate, and now I am speaking of the amendment. This mandate in the motion is viewed as a preliminary step to be followed by a more extensive study of Canadian federalism. This mandate is restricted to matters on which we have received the advice of a great number of experts and which have been the subject of many discussions by many parliamentary committees. We therefore only have to reconsider the documents already in existence and, especially, to reach precise conclusions in the light of current circumstances.

I therefore see this subcommittee or this procedure which could be followed not as an ordinary agency, not as an ordinary committee supposed to study and discuss matters by way of public meetings, but over and above all as a small study group which is to prepare a report as soon as possible. This sub-committee or this working group should not in my view hold public meetings and to help it in its work, it should avail itself of the research services already in existence. The small nature of this group would not exclude active participation on the part of other senators who could give their views by speaking or writing to the subcommittee. With respect to this participation, I hope, moreover, that the Senate will soon be able to organize a general debate on constitutional reform and renewed federalism.

Furthermore, I am not convinced that the proposed procedure I have just described for this preliminary step would be the right one should the Senate decide to make a more detailed study of other aspects of Canadian federalism which have not been so deeply studied until now. In this case, and this is where I agree with the opinion of Senator Tremblay as he expressed it a few days ago, it would seem preferable to create a special committee which could devote all its time to this task which would obviously be longer and more complex. This is one of the reasons why I am opposed to extend the mandate included in my motion and to ask, at this time anyway, the Committee of Legal and Constitutional Affairs to undertake a general study of all aspects of renewed federalism.

Those, then, are the reasons why I am opposed to the amendment, but I obviously reserve the right to discuss the main motion once we have determined the future or the relevancy of this amendment.


Hon. Daniel A. Lang: Honourable senators, may I speak briefly to the amendment? I am appalled by the nature of this amendment, which is almost infantile in its conception. The words referred to deal with the question of the division of powers between the federal and provincial governments.

Honourable senators, the Rowell-Sirois Commission spent some eight years dealing with that problem, and now the Leader of the Opposition is suggesting that that same problem should be given to a subcommittee of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. It is absolutely ludicrous.

Senator Flynn: I rise on a point of order. I did not say a subcommittee. I said to the committee.

Senator Lang: Well, even to the committee.

Senator Flynn: If you want to say the committee is unable to do that, that is fine with me.

Senator Lang: The main motion deals with a subcommittee.

Senator Flynn: It does not.

Senator Lang: As I understand your amendment, you are trying to impose on a subcommittee—

Senator Flynn: No.

Senator Smith (Colchester): What subcommittee?

Senator Flynn: I never mentioned a subcommittee. Can’t you read?

Senator Lang: I hope you have a little more knowledge than I assume from what you are saying about the way affairs are run in this chamber as far as committees are concerned. The motion is Senator Lamontagne’s motion and relates to his speech here on May 13.

Senator Flynn: He never mentioned a subcommittee.

Senator Smith (Colchester): Where do you find subcommittee?

Senator Lang: In his speech of May 13.

Senator Flynn: You are completely lost. There was no mention in the motion or in the amendment about a subcommittee.

Senator Lang: I don’t think it matters, honourable senators, whether it is a subcommittee or a whole committee.

Senator Flynn: Well, if it doesn’t matter, what are you talking about?

Senator Lang: What I am saying is that this is a very serious been treated with political frivolity by the opposition, and I resent it.

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I know exactly what Senator Lamontagne is trying to do in his main motion, and that is to confine our inquiry to the areas where we may be able to bring some degree of expertise into the discussion. That is all. We are not trying to change the future of Canada. We are trying to produce a vehicle that can give advice to those who have the power in the final analysis to make revisions to our Constitution, and to give them expert advice in areas wherein we have some expertise.

Now, once that thing is enlarged to include the division of powers between the provinces and the federal government, we are opening the whole thing into an area that would encompass something that the Rowell-Sirois Commission was involved in for over eight years. I do not think that is the purpose of the main motion, and I think the amendment to the motion is not an amendment but in effect defeats the main motion. That is my submission.

Hon. G. I. Smith: Honourable senators, if anybody wants to begin to engage in name calling around here, I enter the list because while I do not ordinarily engage in name calling I can do so just as vigorously, just as loudly and just as foolishly as the honourable senator who has just indulged in it.

I think if he wants, as I am sure he does—and I give him credit without reservation for being deeply concerned with this matter and wanting to find a proper and reasonable solution— if he wants this matter to be considered calmly and quietly, then I think he has set his foot on the wrong path entirely. All he has succeeded in doing, in my humble opinion, is to be so provocative that it is difficult to remain courteous in dealing with his personal assault upon the Leader of the Opposition.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Senator Smith (Colchester): I know the honourable gentleman very well, and I don’t think he meant to have that effect at all, but just in case he did I think it is necessary to point that out to him.

Really it is a little careless of someone engaging in debate to accuse another person of not being able to read when he’s not able to read himself; when he inserts from his imagination the word “subcommittee” in a motion which is clearly written out before us and contains no such word, and then has the extraordinary disregard for print to say, “Well, it doesn’t matter anyway.” I suppose one can say that, aside from its provocative value or the opposite, what he said doesn’t matter anyway. So he may have correctly described his intervention.

The scales having been relatively equally balanced in noise, perhaps I might be permitted to say a word or two on the merits, which I think we could usefully consider for a few moments. Here I realize that I am perhaps trespassing on the ground of my colleague Senator Tremblay, and I offer him my apologies for so doing, and say that I will not do very much of it. I hope I do not in any way interfere with what he intended to say.

It seems clear to me that we could—I won’t use a careless word—deal all we want to with the subject matter of the motion and we would not be contributing very much towards the solution of the overall problem. Surely, judging from what we have heard for years, judging from what I have heard first-hand from the representatives of every province in Canada over a long period of years, judging from what I have heard in this house, and judging from what I have heard in the considerations and deliberations of the joint committee on Bill C-60, nearly two years ago now, the central issue is: Who has the power to do what, and with what attitude do the provinces on the one hand and the federal government on the other approach the exercise of those powers.

While it may occupy our time and stimulate our intellectual abilities, to the extent we have them, I think all this will do is lead us to concern ourselves very deeply with the other matters. The powers and how they are exercised surely burn deep into the mind and heart of every Canadian who has given very much attention to this problem; they are the things that really matter, the things that have to be settled. When those things are settled, it seems to me that the other things, although they may still be the subject of considerable debate, will fall into place, not naturally perhaps, but in a way that is consistent with what has been decided upon the division and the use of powers.

In order that I may not trespass any more on what my colleague intended to say, I will leave the matter there. I just emphasize that it seems to me that, having gone through the exercise for a number of months—I have forgotten now how many—in the joint committee two years ago in considering Bill C-60, I think we would all be employing our time to much greater advantage in considering the essence of the problem, which is the division and the use of powers.


Hon. Louis J. Robichaud: Honourable senators, I find it very difficult to agree in this debate with a former colleague, and a former provincial premier, who once again has been very eloquent, but one question bothers me, that is that we should only be concerned with good judgment at the present time in view of the circumstances. Of course, I do not question the honourable senator’s judgment in general, but only in the present circumstances.


I must say, as a former provincial premier, following in this debate another former provincial premier, I noted another former provincial premier, Senator Manning from Alberta, and how very serious he was while listening to this debate this afternoon. I was also watching another former provincial premier, Senator Roblin from Manitoba.

In my estimation, the proposed amendment to Senator Lamontagne’s motion is an effort to take away the role of the provincial premiers on the matter of powers—le partage des competences. I don’t like the Leader of the Opposition laughing at this.

Senator Flynn: I am not laughing at this. I am laughing at you.

Senator Robichaud: This is wholly a matter of provincial competence to discuss with the federal authority the division of

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powers. They will start discussing it on June 9, and they will continue to discuss it. It has been discussed for years, and it is very difficult to come to a conclusion, as we all know. It is not by name calling or saying, “This area wants too much vis-à-vis the other” that we are going to resolve the situation. I believe that the Senate is competent to do a variety of things, but it is not at the moment competent to solve problems that are under the jurisdiction of provincial governments and of the federal authority. Both sides are making efforts to solve that problem.

We have a problem at the moment, and it is the one that is obvious in Senator Lamontagne’s motion. For us to have a comprehensive discussion of the division of powers between federal and provincial governments—and I say this in all sincerity—is to me almost nonsensical. As I said earlier, we would be assuming the role of the provincial and federal authority combined, and it would take us years to come to a solution. Why not let them find a solution to that problem? It is their role. We here have another role, which we discharge in our committees. The committee proposed by Senator Lamontagne can play a role, not only for survival.


In addition, I am sorry to have to disagree partly with my good friend, Senator Tremblay, when he said a while ago that perhaps if we concern ourselves only with the survival of the Senate, it is that we concern ourselves only with our own future. I do not believe this to be the case. The future of everyone here is the future of all Canadians because we protect regional interests throughout Canada, despite the fact that some may turn away at the present time, as I am aware, and in fact, as suggested by Senator Lamontagne, the committee should perpetuate the institution of the Senate, perhaps with minor amendments, but nothing major, as was suggested by some, and we should try to guarantee that the problem of power sharing in Canada will be solved. I hope that you will forgive me if this appears to be a partisan speech because I did not want to make one, but this is a dream which resembles that described by the former Minister of Finance on December 13 of last year.

Hon. Duff Roblin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I suppose it is trite to say that I really did not expect to take part in this debate this afternoon, but I have been so encouraged by what I have heard from my honourable friend opposite who has just spoken, and by what I have heard from the honourable senator who sits at the end of this row, that I felt I really must say a word or two.

I recall that on previous occasions the Leader of the Government took considerable interest in presenting to this chamber the idea that we should have a resolution before us to discuss the Constitution. I do not know whether all senators recall that fact, but on several occasions the Leader of the Government wound up some of his answers on questions having to do with natural resources and other matters by suggesting to us that we should initiate a debate on the Constitution and the reforms to the Constitution which are being mooted in the country today.

I thought that was a reasonable proposal, and it came as somewhat of a disappointment to see that the gentleman who had apparently been put up to give effect to that thought on the part of the Leader of the Government, the Honourable Senator Lamontagne, brought forward a resolution which I really have to say is quite inadequate in terms of the problem we face and in terms of the challenge given to us by the Leader of the Government. It is quite inadequate in my view, because while I see that mention is made of individual and collective rights—and I do not underestimate that aspect of our discussion—I see that it seems to zero in on the Senate.

It is, of course, a rather bizarre state of affairs when the future of Canada and the reform of its Constitution crystalizes into what happens in the Senate. We have been told, for goodness knows how long, what an unessential fifth wheel this body is in our Canadian constitutional and institutional arrangements. Perhaps it is more important than some of the critics have been inclined to say. Nevertheless, for us as senators in our first effort in this Parliament to deal with constitutional reform, to place the interest of the Senate, and how we may structure our own future, at the head of the agenda, may strike some as being a little inappropriate. I, for one, must say that I would have some embarrassment in explaining why we have limited ourselves in that way, if someone took the trouble to consult me about it.

I appreciate that that is not the motive of the mover of the resolution. I want to stress that. I understand what he is driving at, yet I must say that it will be widely interpreted as being a little on the self-serving side. In these circumstances, and in these days, that would be unfortunate.

The argument presented by two of the speakers who have taken part in this debate is that the division of powers is none of our business. This is a body that is supposed to protect regional interests, to have the responsibility for reconciling federal and provincial interests, to speak for regions and provinces. This was the special role given to the Senate by the Fathers of Confederation, and anyone who reads the record will see beyond peradventure of a doubt that that was the reason this body was formed. So I find it astonishing that we should now be told that for us to meddle in this question of division of powers is certainly not only beyond our scope of duty but, indeed, beyond our competence. I, for one, find that a hard argument to swallow, because the question of the division of powers is one of the great issues that is before us.

I will not disguise the fact that in my view the institutions of the federal government are important as well, but it is beyond question of a doubt that the great question that will be broached by the provinces when they meet is that of the division of powers.

To suggest that we, part of the Parliament of Canada, should be content to submit the issue to ten men who have no electoral mandate—though, indeed, they have a constitutional responsibility—without any effort or feeling on our part that

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we have a responsibility to discharge in connection with it, beggars the imagination. I find that impossible, and it seems to me that if we really wish to set our foot upon the road of constitutional reform in this country we must not only look to federal-provincial conferences of first ministers, we must look beyond that, because there are other political interests and other democratic interests that must be considered in connection with our Constitution, and I suggest that this body is one of them. I suggest that the House of Commons is one of them. I suggest that the members of House of Commons and the Senate, together as the Parliament of Canada, have something they ought to be saying and thinking about in connection with this central issue of our political affairs in these days.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Senator Roblin: To take the view that it is outside of our authority or legitimate interest, and that we should leave it in the hands in which it appears to have fallen—temporarily I trust—is to me an abrogation of our responsibilities.

Now, what about our competence? Have we any competence to deal with it? We have the responsibility. We have the right. There is no question in my mind about that. Have we got the competence? Well, that is a matter of judgment. I don’t know whether we have the competence that would attract the confidence of all Canadians, but it seems to me that if we conducted ourselves in a judicious manner, if we approached the matter with no preconceived notions, if we put behind ourselves whatever political affiliations or prejudices we might have, it is not beyond the bounds of imagination to suppose that we could develop some idea and some plan or policy that might be useful. Not that we should assume in this unelected body—this is an unelected body, unfortunately- that we have the right to tell other members of the Confederation—or indeed the other part of our Parliament—what they should do. I do not claim that right at all, but I suggest that we may have a duty to submit our best advice.

When I look around this chamber I see men of some political experience, not only in the legislative life of our nation but men who have political experience in the broader sense of that term in dealing with the general public interest. I see men who have experience, men who have some authority, men who have a background of knowledge that is not easily equaled in a body of a similar size. I suggest to you that if we do not have the full confidence of our nation—because I don’t think we can claim that for the Senate—we have sufficient public legitimacy to render it within the realm of our duty, of our responsibility, of our right and of our capacity and competence, to deal with wider measures than those submitted to us in the original resolution that stands before us.

I say to members of this house that we would do ourselves a service if we were to broaden our outlook on this matter. I don’t think it need be a matter of debate. I think that upon reflection members will recognize that the resolution has merit and that the amendment has merit, and that if we marry the two together, as we would in the normal parliamentary process, we may have a plan of action that would be of use to the country and reflect some credit on this house.

On motion of Senator Tremblay, debate adjourned.

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