Canada, Senate Debates, “Special Joint Committee—Extension of Reporting Date”, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess (5 February 1981)

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Date: 1981-02-05
By: Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Canada, Senate Debates, 32nd Parl, 1st Sess, 1981 at 1616-1617.
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SENATE DEBATES — February 5, 1981

[Page 1616]



Hon. Raymond J. Perrault (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I move, seconded by Senator Frith, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 45(1)(e):

That, notwithstanding any previous Order, the Special Joint Committee on the Constitution of Canada shall complete its work and make its final report no later than February 13, 1981; and

That a Message be sent to the House of Commons to acquaint that House accordingly.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Perrault: Honourable senators, by way of explanation, I point out that the motion before us is virtually identical to that which was passed in the other place yesterday. By agreement of the leaders of all three major parties, that motion was not debated. I would ask that the same agreement be made here, so that the committee will have adequate time to complete its important work.

The motion will permit the Special Joint Committee on the Constitution of Canada properly to complete the fine work it has been doing, by extending the deadline for making its final report to February 13. I think most honourable senators share the view that the work of this committee, to which members of the Senate have contributed so much, has proceeded in the highest traditions of parliamentary dedication and excellence. As I say, it is hoped that the motion will permit the Special Joint Committee on the Constitution of Canada properly to complete its work and make a final report by February 13.

Some honourable senators may want to know exactly where the committee is in terms of its clause-by-clause study of the resolution. The information provided to the Senate is that as of 12:30 this afternoon committee members were through section 50 of the resolution, and that leaves sections 51 to 59 to be dealt with.

This request for a time extension is reasonable in light of the circumstances, and it is to be hoped that the committee will finish its work post haste. I therefore urge all honourable senators to support this motion so that the committee may complete its work and report back to Parliament as soon as possible.

Hon. Allister Grosart: Honourable senators, the Leader of the Government in the Senate has suggested that there be agreement that this motion be concurred in without debate. He has, however, made a statement on it, which, technically, under our rules, might constitute debate. I am sure he will not object to a statement from this side in response to his remarks.

Senator Perrault: Not at all.

Hon. Duff Roblin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I thank my honourable seatmate for his intervention, because I am glad to speak briefly to the motion that is before us.

Perhaps I ought to begin with a reference to one of our colleagues, Senator Austin. When the question of the procedure of the committee, and the time it would take to do its work, was before the subcommittee on its activities, I was present on one occasion and made an impassioned plea for an extension of time. It was proposed on that occasion—at least, the idea was floated; perhaps “proposed” is too strong a term—that we should meet all day Saturday and all day Sunday and continue our work under considerable pressure and a considerable head of steam. I asked Senator Austin if he would use his undoubted talents to secure an extension of the committee’s time, and he has delivered the goods. I want to say that I much appreciate his intervention in this respect.

I should tell the house that at the same meeting of the committee the question of a debate on the motion that we have before us now came up, and although I may have exceeded my authority I was bold enough to say that there would be no extended comments on it from our side of the housc, and I think that will be the case today.

The Honourable Senator Grosart, who has a special competence in these matters, has drawn my attention to the fact that the words “complete” and “final”, referring to the work of the committee, are in the motion. Those words, I think, have appeared previously. So far as they go, of course, they are correct, but I think I should enter the caveat that there is provision, after we have received the complete and final report, for referring that report back to the committee, which would have to be specially revived for that particular purpose.

In order to make sure, therefore, that we have an understanding on that, Senator Grosart advised me to mention it, and I think that is a sound piece of advice.

Honourable senators, I am a member of the committee, and I appreciate the fact that we are being allowed more time in which to complete our work. We will proceed with all due despatch, and I am glad to support the motion.

Hon. Royce Frith (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, just for the record, regarding the procedural point that was added on behalf of Senator Grosart, I agree with his analysis, but I hope he will not think me picking virtually invisible nits when I say that technically the report

[Page 1617]

would not be referred back to the same committee because any such referral would require a reconstitution of the committee. However, that is simply to complete what I think is generally understood on both sides, namely, that the procedure described by Senator Grosart is quite right, and no doubt he meant that to be included as a corollary thereto.

Senator Grosart: Of course, it was my intention to agree that there would be no debate.

Senator Roblin: Of course, if we must deal with these points of minutiae, the word is “revived.” That is the word used in Beauchesne, so I think we would have to revive the same old dead body.

Motion agreed to.

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