June 18, 1946

IND

Georges-Henri Héon

Independent Progressive Conservative

Mr. HEON:

It is therefore in this light, Mr. Speaker, that I would like to deal very briefly with the problem before this house. We are asked to ratify a measure involving two great and divergent principles. The first one, by establishing representation on the basis of population, would grant, at this time, eight new members to the province of Quebec. Although the cry of "rep by pop" was first raised in this country by someone who feared French-Canadian preponderance, and although this principle may again operate against us, we cannot deny the immediate advantage of the proposal.

Our province and our compatriots will never have too many representatives in this house, f we consider particularly the veiled, but jonstant and crafty hostility nursed against us by certain fanatical elements, _ which is apparent not only in the civil service and the various federal departments, but in the committees and boards and sometimes even in this house.

These eight new members coming from Quebec after the next federal election, if the resolution is passed, might well mediate on this thought expressed by the same Father Simard, whom I quoted a moment ago, on page 155 of his book:

Were you to ask me now what should be said and done in parliament, I would tell you: Come to Ottawa, please, not as foreigners or as children expecting a spanking. Be thoroughly versed in questions bearing on the common good of Canada. Hold to a uniform national creed and always place it above party slogans. In this respect, all vour forefathers have sinned, the Liberals in 1905 and the Conservatives in 1912. Make it understood that Canada is both French and English and that as far as you members of the French-Canadian group are concerned, you will never divide on the three following points: freedom for our faith, freedom for our culture, a happy relation between the central and provincial authorities.

I quote further:

You may discuss the means of implementing this threefold plan. In fact, you will cling to these things above all. Not by threatening to leave your house when your rival claims it for

[Mr. Heon.i

himself, but by establishing your rights of ownership and shouting back: "You shall not oust me from my home. If you want a fight, you will have it."

The second principle involved in the resolution bears on the procedure concerning amendments to the British North America Act which may be suggested from time to time.

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
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LIB

Maurice Lalonde

Liberal

Mr. LALONDE:

Will the hon. member permit a question? Is he in favour of the first measure? Did he say so in his speech? Perhaps I have misunderstood him.

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
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IND

Georges-Henri Héon

Independent Progressive Conservative

Mr. HEON:

Nobody can deny, as I said, that the province of Quebec is gaining an immediate advantage by having eight members added to its representation.

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
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LIB

Maurice Lalonde

Liberal

Mr. LALONDE:

You are in favour of that?

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
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IND

Georges-Henri Héon

Independent Progressive Conservative

Mr. HEON:

I am in favour of the additional representation, and I believe that I will be able to justify my attitude with a number of reservations.

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
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LIB

Maurice Lalonde

Liberal

Mr. LALONDE:

I beg my 'hon. friend's pardon for interrupting him. I had not grasped what he meant.

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
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IND

Georges-Henri Héon

Independent Progressive Conservative

Mr. HEON:

My hon. friend has a right to enlighten himself. I hope that I will be allowed to express forthwith my stand on this highly contentious matter, upon which even the most prominent jurists of England and of Canada are not in, agreement. In the first place, I find it absolutely ridiculous that a country such as ours should be forced humbly to pray an imperial and foreign parliament, which knows nothing or practically nothing of our political problems, to allow us to amend our own constitution. It is the weakest and the most inexcusable denial of an autonomy which exists in fact and which only an obsolete and uncalled for sentimentalism, or a dishonest concern for an immediate political advantage, prevent from freely expressing itself.

When shall we have the gumption to express our sovereignty and our autonomy by courageous and practical actions? When shall we cease to close our eyes upon the facts? Have not those tens of thousands of Canadians who made the supreme sacrifice during two world wars, in defence of freedom and of independence for the peoples of the world, gained for Canada the right to speak for herself?

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
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?

An hon. MEMBER:

Hear, hear.

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Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
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IND

Georges-Henri Héon

Independent Progressive Conservative

Mr. HEON:

I thank my hon. friends on the government side for approving my statement. We should have the courage of our convic-

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tions; we should take advantage of this opportunity to request the imperial parliament to waive its prerogative to approve the amendments to our constitution and to surrender to us the full and exclusive right in the matter. Let us be logical. If Canada is a free and self-governing nation, we must remove the purely artificial impediments to our freedom and autonomy.

Indeed, Mr. Speaker, we should face the facts; it would be much easier for our Frenchspeaking compatriots, in view of their mentality, to give their approval to an amendment to the British North America Act, emanating from the House of Commons of Canada and her provincial legislatures, where they have their own representatives, rather than from an imperial parliament where they have no representatives. I have said so on numerous occasions and. I shall repeat it again: we should not have to ask anyone's permission; we are our own masters and the sooner we assert ourselves, the sooner we shall establish in law a situation which exists in fact and which the other nations, especially those to whom we tender a helping hand, are eager to recognize, even if only to flatter our national pride and because they are desperately in need of our assistance. Everything depends, in this respect, upon our own will, since we hold the upper hand, but our claims must be submitted with intelligence, courtesy and honesty.

Therefore the house must once more request a government which is not ours to amend our constitution. Some hon. members have referred to the procedure to be followed; several have reversed the stand which they had taken in 1943. Thus we have seen certain people who, in 1943, were in favour of amending the constitution without consulting the provinces, wdthout securing their consent, and who now claim that the consent of the provinces should first be obtained.

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
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LIB

Maurice Lalonde

Liberal

Mr. LALONDE:

Who are they?

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
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IND

Georges-Henri Héon

Independent Progressive Conservative

Mr. HEON:

If my hon. friend will see me after I have concluded my remarks I shall give him this information freely. Others who, in 1943, claimed! that the consent of the provinces was required, no longer voice such views this year. It is therefore a problem which everyone must solve according to his own conscience and convictions. Invectives and reproaches which may be east at one another for purely political reasons and to vent one's spleen against the premier of the province of Quebec, will not help to solve it. I am one of those who believe that we must respect, without necessarily endorsing the political convictions of the provincial and party leaders.

Coming as I do from Quebec, I have made an earnest effort in the last two weeks to ascertain the views of my constituents in respect of the proposed measure, and they appear to be as follows:

It is true that Quebec would have eight more members; however, if the constitution is thus tampered with, what guarantee have we that eventually we shall not be the losers? And if we do not protest against the method of amending our magna charta, even though such an amendment would result in an immediate and apparent advantage, how shall we later on sincerely andi seriously protest against a proposed amendment which would be detrimental to our interests?

This is then a matter of the utmost importance, which deserves the most careful consideration before a definite and final stand is taken. Personally, therefore-and I now express my own convictions, as I consulted no one and need not consult anybody-I endorse the opinion expressed by Lord Watson, Lord Haldane and Lord Sankey in the aeronautics case, by Lord Atkin in the minimum wage case, by Professor Barriedale Keith, and especially by the writer I now wish to quote. In 1939, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation asked professors of constitutional law in our Canadian universities to express over the air their legal opinion of the changes that should be made to the constitution. In the course of these talks, the province of New Brunswick was called upon to express its views, and this was done by Mr. Alfred G. Bailey, professor of British North American history at the university of New Brunswick. He was asked, at the same time-and this is important-to voice the official opinion of the New Brunswick government of which, I understand, the Hon. Mr. Dysart was then leader.

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
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?

An hon. MEMBER:

That's right; hear, hear.

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
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IND

Georges-Henri Héon

Independent Progressive Conservative

Mr. HEON:

I shall merely quote excerpts, for I do not wish to take up too much of the time of the house.

(Text):

The nature of the constitution, as one based on the principles of compact and consent, was formally recognized by the parliament of Canada in 1907. The Subsidy Act of that year, by which the allowances to the provinces provided in the British North America Act were to be substantially increased, was based upon the principle of consultation with the provinces. In confirmation of this principle it was acknowledged that the act of 1867 gave effect to a treaty, and that no amendment to disturb the terms of that treaty could be effected without the consent of the parties that were bound by it. The most recent recognition of the compact principle was that given by the lords of the judicial committee of the privy council, in

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rendering judgment on certain legislation of the parliament of Canada, on January 28th, 1937. In this judgment reference was made to "the interprovincial compact to which tile British North America Act gives effect".

Moreover, it is not irrelevant to recall that the Statute of Westminster, which gave legal effept to the national status of the dominions did not increase the legislative field of the parliament of Canada at the expense of the provinces, nor did it apply to the repeal, amendment or alteration of the British North America Act, 1867 to 1930, or any order, rule or regulation made thereunder.

(Translation):

And it concludes as follows:

(Text):

In addition, it is regarded as noteworthy that the compact principle of confederation has been generally recognized in connection with the rights of racial minorities within the dominion. Few persons, perhaps no one, would have had the temerity to suggest that an amendment to the constitution which would affect the rights of a racial minority should be carried through without the consent of that minority. On the basis of the facts that have been presented it is maintained here in New Brunswick, that Canada is a confederation as prpposed at the London conference, not a federation as proposed at Quebec. This status, it is held, determines the fact that the union is based on a compact, the terms of which cannot be amended without the consent of the contracting parties; or in other words, that Canada derives its being an authority from the provinces with imperial sanction, and that this authority is a matter of agreement between the provinces. Finally, it is deemed (by the government of New Brunswick) of vital interest to demand a strict adherence to the letter and spirit of the constitution as thus conceived.

(Translation):

That is not an opinion from the province of Quebec and it is not Mr. Duplessis who speaks. Here is the opinion of an Englishspeaking province which cannot be accused of political motives and which apparently thinks along the same line as some of our Quebec fellow citizens.

Other opinions which I shall not quote may be added to that of Professor Bailey, but if we read the speeches of Hon. Honore Mercier, Sir Lomer Gouin, Hon. Alexandre Taschereau, and Hon. Maurice Duplessis, the present prime minister of the province of Quebec, we find that our constitution is a contract which may not be changed without the consent of the signatories.

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Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
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LIB

Maurice Lalonde

Liberal

Mr. LALONDE:

Will my hon. friend allow me a question?

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
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IND

Georges-Henri Héon

Independent Progressive Conservative

Mr. HEON:

Yes, sir, with great pleasure.

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
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LIB

Maurice Lalonde

Liberal

Mr. LALONDE:

Is it my hon. friend's opinion that it is impossible for parliament to propose or to accept amendments to our constitution without having previously consulted the provinces? In other words, is it

absolutely forbidden to the dominion parliament to amend the British North America Act for any reason? Are there no cases when the federal power could amend our constitution without consulting the provinces?

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
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IND

Georges-Henri Héon

Independent Progressive Conservative

Mr. HEON:

If my hon. friend will only

allow me to finish my speech, I think I shall cover this point in my next few remarks. I now make a distinction between legal and administrative matters which may affect our racial group.

I feel quite free to express am opinion I have always held. I don't have to pipe a different tune. I am not asking the members of this house to share this view, but it is one I have always held and which I shall continue to uphold.

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LIB

Maurice Lalonde

Liberal

Mr. LALONDE:

An opinion which we

respect.

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
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IND

Georges-Henri Héon

Independent Progressive Conservative

Mr. HEON:

Thank you, sir. By referring

indeed to the principles I set out in the 1938 by-election in Argenteuil, to the speeches I made at the Conservative party convention in Ottawa in 1938, in Winnipeg before the board of trade, in Toronto on two occasions, in Montreal at the Monument National, at Victoriaville, at Carillon and on two occasions in this house in 1939, it will be seen that my views have remained unchanged. Not later than last year, during the last election, I upheld this proposition before the electors. There is logic, therefore, in my attitude toward the measure now before us, and I am not revising my opinions. Let my constituents be my judges.

The stand taken by the province of Quebec, through its present government, on the procedure for amending our constitution is also mine, and I have no hesitation in joining them on this point; I believe that in amending our constitution, we would be creating an extremely dangerous precedent, for the following reasons. And by the way, I wish to point this out to my hon. friend from Labelle (Mr. Lalonde), who is listening to me.

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Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
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LIB

Maurice Lalonde

Liberal

Mr. LALONDE:

I am listening very

carefully.

Topic:   REDISTRIBUTION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT TO BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT AS TO RULES FOR READJUSTMENT OF REPRESENTATION
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June 18, 1946