Mr. Chairman, I object very strongly to subclause 2 of clause 6 being in this legislation at all. This is the subclause that requires the agreement of six provinces. I register my objection on two counts. In the first place I object to it from the point of view of law, if I can get into that field without running certain risks. It does seem to me that this is a case of giving to certain other jurisdictions the power of veto over legislation of this sovereign parliament.
By virtue of the British North America Act, when a bill has been passed by the House of Commons and the Senate and has received royal assent it is the law of the land. Yet by virtue of clause 6, subclause 2, we give to provincial legislatures the power, by failing to act, to veto this legislation and keep it from coming into force. As I said earlier, I concede the right of the government to say it will not bring in legislation until certain conditions have been met, but I object very strongly to conditions of this kind being written into a statute of the parliament of Canada.
We can pass this bill in the House of Commons, as I hope we will today. It can be passed in the other place and can be given royal assent before parliament is prorogued. It can even be proclaimed under the provisions of a later clause in the bill. Yet it can remain on the statute books of the Dominion of Canada without ever coming into actual effect because of the right of veto written right into this clause.
The other count on which I object to subclause 2 of clause 6 is that I think it is a ridiculously unreasonable requirement to continue to insist that there be at least six provinces agreeing to the legislation before it comes into effect. As I have pointed out
now on several occasions, the five provinces which have agreed contain within their boundaries 56.3 per cent of the entire population of Canada, and when I say "entire population of Canada" I draw attention to the fact that that percentage is based on the population of the ten provinces together with the population of the Yukon and the Northwest Territories.
As I have already pointed out, if the province of Prince Edward Island were to reach agreement with the federal government on this matter, technically the government's formula would be met. We would then have six provinces. But what would be the change in the population percentage? It would go up from 56.3 per cent to 56.9 per cent.
Subtopic: AUTHORIZATION OF PAYMENTS FROM CONSOLIDATED REVENUE FUND