Canada, Senate Debates, “Minister’s Alleged Statement on Amending Formula”, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess (16 October 1980)

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Date: 1980-10-16
By: Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Canada, Senate Debates, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, 1980 at 883.
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SENATE DEBATES — October 16, 1980

[Page 883]



Hon. Jacques Flynn (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I have a question for the Minister of State for Economic Development. My question is not directly related to his ministerial responsibilities.

I read with interest that the minister told a group of Liberal students at the University of Alberta that he disagrees with Prime Minister Trudeau’s constitutional amending formula, and agrees with the amending formula supported by Mr. Clark, the Leader of the Opposition, which I think is called the Vancouver formula as compared to the Victoria Charter.

I am wondering whether it is the intention of the minister to fight for this change in the resolution, and whether he is going to proceed with that fight so as to have the resolution amended in the other place before it is referred to committee, or perhaps while it is in committee, or when it is reported back to this chamber. I would like to know when he proposes to fight for his convictions.

Hon. H.A. Olson (Minister of State for Economic Development): Honourable senators, I also have the news report in question in front of me, and I want to say to the Leader of the Opposition immediately and categorically that I did not say some of the things I am reported to have said. I did not say, for example, that I disagree with the Prime Minister, and I did not say a number of other things that are in there. But I did say—and perhaps the Leader of the Opposition wants to make a big thing of this—that my own personal preference—

Senator Flynn: I could hardly make a big thing out of any statement of yours.

Senator Olson:—my own personal preference would be for a formula under which no province has a veto. I suppose you could then argue on the basis of the logic that things equal to the same things are equal to each other. All this comes down to the fact that the Victoria Charter formula is a formula under which two provinces would have a veto, whereas I would prefer a formula under which no province has a veto.

The Leader of the Opposition will know, from two experiences in cabinet, that when a cabinet makes a decision, the ministers support that decision even though they may have some slightly different personal preferences. But I can tell him today, without any reservations, that I intend to support the position taken collectively by the cabinet.

Senator Flynn: A supplementary question. Has the minister decided to renounce his principles and not attempt to have the cabinet change its mind?

Senator Perrault: Oh, come on!

Senator Flynn: Come on what?

Senator Perrault: Renunciation?

Senator Olson: I do not believe I have anything to add to the rather full explanation that I have to the Leader of the Opposition a couple of minutes ago.

Senator Perrault: Hear, hear.

Senator Flynn: I didn’t expect you would, but I did want to hear you say so.

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