Canada, Senate Debates, “Proposed Resolution for a Joint Address—Statements by Prime Minister of Canada and Leader of Quebec Liberal Party”, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess (4 December 1980)

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Date: 1980-12-04
By: Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Canada, Senate Debates, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, 1980 at 1367-1368.
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SENATE DEBATES — December 4, 1980

[Page 1367]



Hon. Jacques Flynn (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, yesterday before the Press Club of Ottawa the Leader of the Quebec Liberal Party had something to say about the federal government’s proposals on the Constitution. He very clearly opposes the proposal as it is now before the Joint Committee on the Constitution. Since it is quite obvious that all of Quebec’s political parties are opposed to the present proposals, I was wondering if the Leader of the Government could tell us whether the federal government is willing to examine the objections made by Mr. Ryan, which resemble in great part those made by the present Quebec government and the other party in the National Assembly, namely, the Union Nationale, and change its stand.

Hon. Raymond J. Perrault (Leader of the Government): I know Mr. Ryan’s views will be given every consideration.

Senator Flynn: I am not asking about examination by the joint committee. I am asking about an examination by the government itself, because it could shorten the work of the joint committee if the government were to agree with the compromise suggested by Mr. Ryan. Possibly some senators from the Province of Quebec might even support Mr. Ryan’s position.

Senator Perrault: From the outset, government spokesmen have stated emphatically on several occasions that we are prepared to consider proposals for amendments to the constitutional proposals presently under study. I reiterate that government position. It is a position of flexibility. There is a government determination to make certain that the constitutional proposals are sound, and, if they can be improved, they will be improved.

Senator Flynn: I am glad to hear the Leader of the Government make that statement, but because of the stand taken by the Prime Minister in Montreal last Sunday, in which he appeared unwilling to accept modifications along the lines suggested by Mr. Ryan, I must ask the Leader of the Government if he is telling us that the Prime Minister has changed his attitude since last Sunday.

Senator Perrault: The Prime Minister has a very open mind on this subject. I can only suggest to honourable senators that they must await the events of the next few days to determine the degree of flexibility that this government may be prepared to demonstrate.

Senator Flynn: The next few days? Did I hear the honourable senator say we must await the events of the next fcw days?

Senator Perrault: Well, the universe will unfold.

Senator Roblin: But not necessarily the way it should.


Hon. Martial Asselin: I have a supplementary. Is the Leader of the Government telling us that in the next few days the government will announce that changes will be made to the proposals now being considered by the joint committee of the Senate and the House of Commons?


Senator Perrault: I am in no position to announce that any changes will be made, but on the basis of the expressed view of the Prime Minister that he and the government he leads are prepared to consider certain changes and amendments if these are advanced on a well-reasoned, logical and legal basis, there are reasonable expectations that there could be changes in the constitutional proposals before the committee’s report is received by us for ultimate and final disposition.


Senator Asselin: In view of the position taken yesterday by the leader of the Quebec Liberal Party, Mr. Ryan, against certain aspects of the proposals now under consideration by the joint committee of the Senate and the House of Commons, will the Right Honourable Prime Minister of Canada change the stand he took last Sunday in Montreal to the effect that all those who are opposed to these proposals in Quebec support the separatist movement led by the Quebec government? Is the Right Honourable Prime Minister willing to change his stand since Mr. Ryan has decided to oppose the constitutional resolution of the Right Honourable Mr. Trudeau, as he stated yesterday before the Press Club?


Senator Perrault: Honourable senators, the remarks allegedly made by the Right Honourable the Prime Minister have been taken out of context—taken out of context as badly as the so-called “hysteria” speech made in Regina. In its complete context it was a very eloquent appeal to the people of the entire nation to support soundly based constitutional reform proposals. The Prime Minister is well able to speak for himself in respect to constitutional matters.

It would be presumptuous of me to suggest to this chamber what members of the committee may feel about certain suggestions proposed by the leader of the Liberal Party in Quebec. Members of that committee will evaluate the proposals made by Mr. Ryan and by other provincial leaders, provincial premiers and others, and when they prepare their report we will have an opportunity to discuss and debate their proposals and suggestions in due time which, as the result of

[Page 1368]

the agreement achieved yesterday, will be sometime after February 6.

Senator Flynn: I was suggesting to the Leader of the Government that it would save a lot of the joint committee’s time if the Prime Minister himself and the government were to state right away their reaction to Mr. Ryan’s position and proposals.

Senator Perrault: I am certain that the Right Honourable the Prime Minister will study Senator Flynn’s suggestions.

Senator Flynn: I am sure he will not study my suggestions. I have expressed them before, and I have seen no reaction up until now. I am speaking of Mr. Ryan’s proposals and position.

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