January 30, 1968

LABOUR AND EMPLOYMENT


First report of standing committee on labour and employment-Mr. Faulkner. [Editor's note: Text of foregoing report appears in today's Votes and Proceedings.]


CANADIAN CONSTITUTION

STATEMENT ON ARRANGEMENTS FOR FORTHCOMING CONFERENCE

LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Right Hon. L. B. Pearson (Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a short statement about arrangements in contemplation of the forthcoming constitutional conference which opens next Monday.

The agenda of the conference was included with my letter of January 16 to the provincial premiers, copies of which were tabled in the House of Commons on January 25 and included in Hansard of that day. In my letter I suggested to the premiers that "we agree to make public the opening sessions of the first day when the various governments ordinarily present their initial statements". I also suggested that consideration could be given to having the closing session public. Arrangements are accordingly being made to permit full coverage by television, radio and press for these sessions.

So far as admission to the conference room itself is concerned, the main problem is space. The conference will be held in room 200 of the west block. After providing for the various delegations and their staffs, for television and radio facilities, and for the translation and secretarial facilities that are necessary, there will, I am afraid, be very little space in the actual chamber itself for members of parliament, for representatives of the press or for others. It has seemed to the government to be best to divide what space there is equally between representatives of the information media and members of the different political parties represented in the House of Commons. I wrote yesterday to the leaders of the various parties indicating that there would be, of course, accommodation for the leaders themselves, and giving an allocation of seats on a

party basis roughly in proportion to representation in the house. It will be for each party to determine to what members the seats should be allocated.

For other members of parliament who may be in a position to be present and for the press we will have closed circuit television in a number of rooms in the west block. In addition there will be the normal television and radio facilities.

As I said yesterday, it will be for the conference to decide when and to what extent it may be desirable to hold executive sessions. Several of the premiers have expressed the view that executive sessions may be necessary for the purpose of negotiation and full and frank discussion leading to agreement. Such private sessions have, of course, been the almost invariable pattern, for federal-provincial conferences in the past, but I think a substantial departure from past practice is desirable because of the special nature and importance of the matters to be discussed.

As members are aware, the Minister of Justice is visiting the provincial capitals to have advance discussions with the premiers and their advisers in order to ensure that the meeting beginning February 5 will be as productive as possible. The government will also be publishing, and will table in the House of Commons later this week, a document on its proposal for the establishment of a Canadian charter of human rights. The recommendations of the royal commission on bilingualism and biculturalism have of course been public for some weeks and they will be on the agenda. I shall be making an opening statement to the conference, which I expect will be accompanied by additional material that will be made public-that is, the additional material -before the conference opens.

It is the hope of the government, as I am sure it is the hope of all members of the house, that we may see real progress at the conference itself and at meetings to follow, in the achievement of more satisfactory arrangements within the confederation of today and in the review of our constitution to ensure as effective provision as possible for the confederation of the future.

January 30, 1968

Canadian Constitution [DOT] (2:40 p.m.)

Topic:   CANADIAN CONSTITUTION
Subtopic:   STATEMENT ON ARRANGEMENTS FOR FORTHCOMING CONFERENCE
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PC

Robert Lorne Stanfield (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Robert L. Stanfield (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the right hon. Prime Minister for his statement and the information he has given about the arrangements relating to the conference, in particular the arrangements made for representatives of parties in the house to attend as observers, as well as arrangements for other members of the house to follow the proceedings on closed circuit television.

The conference is, of course, one of tremendous importance. I would think it is certainly the most important federal-provincial conference to be held in my time in politics. It will certainly be the fervent wish of all members of the house, and indeed of all people in the country, that substantial progress be made.

The Prime Minister referred to a charter of human rights to be tabled in the house. We shall not attempt to make any comment on that until we see the proposed charter. If I may express a particular hope, however, it would be that it will be possible for the conference to make initial, substantial progress. I think we all recognize that the problems are of such an order that it would not be practical to expect a complete solution to be achieved in two or three days or even several times two or three days, but I hope the accomplishments in those two or three days will be substantial. I also hope that at the conference arrangements will be made for continuing not only discussion but working parties, so the country can proceed with actual work on these very important matters.

I repeat what I said when I started, that I regard this as a conference of the greatest importance and I wish the Prime Minister, his colleagues and the provincial premiers the utmost success in their deliberations.

Topic:   CANADIAN CONSTITUTION
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NDP

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

New Democratic Party

Mr. T. C. Douglas (Burnaby-Coquitlam):

Mr. Speaker, we are appreciative of the arrangements the Prime Minister has made so the various parties in this house can have representatives as observers at the proposed constitutional conference. I think this is a very useful move if the members of the house are to be properly informed so that later we can discuss intelligently the whole question of constitutional change in this country.

I would like to ask the Prime Minister whether he would give some thought to making it clear to the provincial premiers that if they in turn would like to include in their

delegations representatives from the opposition parties in the legislatures, they would be entitled to do so. I happen to know that in one or two instances premiers have indicated a willingness to do so, provided this were acceptable to the federal government. I think the more people we can involve in this dialogue that will go on for the next few months in Canada, the better the chance that we will get some mutual understanding of the problems.

I would also like to ask the Prime Minister whether he would give some thought to the possibility of the observers being allowed to sit through the closed sessions of the conference. I know this is not customary when federal-provincial conferences are discussing financial matters and agreements, but in view of the fact that at this exploratory conference matters will be discussed which will ultimately have to be debated in parliament and in all the provincial legislatures, it seems to me there would be a better opportunity for an understanding in depth of the problems that confront this country if the observers were allowed to attend throughout the entire conference. I recognize, of course, that the Prime Minister himself could not make this decision and that the premiers in attendance would also have to agree, but I would like to proffer it to the Prime Minister as a suggestion.

Finally I would urge again, as we have done so often in the past, that following this conference the Prime Minister give serious consideration to the setting up of a parliamentary committee to discuss the constitutional changes which may be necessary in this country to ensure that our constitution is in keeping with the times in which we live. The parliamentary committees which have been in operation during the past few years on a number of topics have demonstrated the extent to which it is possible in this house to achieve a consensus on many controversial subjects. I think a parliamentary committee might do the same thing with respect to constitutional changes.

I should like to say also that we consider this constitutional conference to be one of the most important gatherings in our time. We hope it will be a success, and certainly anything we can do to contribute to a better understanding and to better co-operation among all parts of Canada will be done to the fullest extent possible.

Topic:   CANADIAN CONSTITUTION
Subtopic:   STATEMENT ON ARRANGEMENTS FOR FORTHCOMING CONFERENCE
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?

Mr. C.-A. Gauthier@Roberval

Mr. Speaker, we have listened to the statement made

January 30, 1968

by the Prime Minister and, for the time being, we are satisfied, though we will attend the conference as observers only, since I understand that representatives from every party will be invited.

I consider this conference as one of the most important ones up to now. We are entering in a negotiation era which will concern all the provinces and the whole country. I think that this conference greatly interests all the parties in the house.

We bitterly regret that our parliamentary system does not allow representatives of the opposition to participate actively in the negotiations instead of attending the conference only as observers. Having been elected by the people, I feel that we are all equal and that we have the same responsibilities. I have always deplored the fact that, in such a case as this, we attend simply as observers while the party in power negotiates the agreements. To my mind, this is a defect in our parliamentary system.

I should like to ask the right hon. Prime Minister and, indirectly, the premiers of all provinces, to look into the possibility of inviting us to the negotiating table in this most important circumstance for the whole of the country.

We will consider it a pleasure and a duty to appoint a representative of our party as an observer to follow the progress of this conference which, I hope, will suggest a constitution more beneficial to all provinces and more likely to contribute further to unite Canada from coast to coast.

[DOT] (2:50 p.m.)

Topic:   CANADIAN CONSTITUTION
Subtopic:   STATEMENT ON ARRANGEMENTS FOR FORTHCOMING CONFERENCE
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SC

Alexander Bell Patterson

Social Credit

Mr. A. B. Patterson (Fraser Valley):

Mr. Speaker, we would like to thank the Prime Minister for the outline he has given us today with respect to the forthcoming federal-provincial conference. I think it is logical to give the members of this house the opportunity of attending the conference, at least as observers, because in recent months some criticism has been voiced over the fact that we seemed to be moving in the direction of government by federal-provincial conference. I believe this move will assist in dispelling the fears in this direction.

The Prime Minister has indicated something of the agenda for the conference. I was rather perturbed to read in the newspapers the other day a statement to the effect that an outline of the government's proposals to be advanced at the conference was presented to

Inquiries of the Ministry the Quebec Liberal convention. I thought this was rather improper, if such was the case, and perhaps there should be some clarification of this point.

I am sure we all desire the further development of our confederation. Without question there will be a wide divergence of opinion as to how this objective is to be achieved. As has been stated, this conference will be more or less of an exploratory nature and it will take a great deal more discussion and many more conferences to work out a program that will be adequate for the needs of Canada and contribute to the development of this great nation.

Topic:   CANADIAN CONSTITUTION
Subtopic:   STATEMENT ON ARRANGEMENTS FOR FORTHCOMING CONFERENCE
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INQUIRY AS TO ARRANGEMENTS RESPECTING EXPORTS TO U.S.


On the orders of the day:


PC

Robert Lorne Stanfield (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Robert L. Stanfield (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to direct a question to the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources and ask whether undisclosed commitments have been made by the minister or by the government of Canada regarding the export of our oil to the United States.

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LIB

Jean-Luc Pepin (Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Hon. Jean-Luc Pepin (Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources):

I too have seen the article which appeared in this morning's Globe and Mail and which contains a certain number of innuendos. One of these innuendos is that there is something tricky about the fact that the figures related to this arrangement have not been revealed. I have no objection to saying that some communications have taken place between the two governments on certain levels of oil export in order to avoid difficulties later. We do not want to have export controls; consequently we have to accept certain restraints in connection with this matter.

I want to say also that the recent exchange is part of the continuing process of negotiation on oil matters between the two countries. There is nothing new in this method. The process has been followed by the present government in the past as well as by previous governments. Let the record speak. The record has spoken eloquently in the past and I am sure it will speak eloquently in the future.

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PC

Robert Lorne Stanfield (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Stanfield:

Does the minister propose to disclose what are these levels to which he has alluded?

January 30, 1SS8

Inquiries of the Ministry

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LIB

Jean-Luc Pepin (Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. Pepin:

No. In my announcement of the 23rd, I think it was, I did refer to a framework of the agreement. This phrase was deliberately chosen. The framework of the agreement is something extremely complex. It includes all sorts of things like the good will of both countries in oil matters; our desire to avoid export controls; our desire not to lose what is referred to as "overland exemptions"; our interest in building the loop-

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LIB

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order, please.

Topic:   INQUIRY AS TO ARRANGEMENTS RESPECTING EXPORTS TO U.S.
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PC

Robert Lorne Stanfield (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Stanfield:

In the next few days, Mr. Speaker, will the minister make a statement on motions or on some appropriate occasion outlining the present objectives of this government with regard to oil policy, so the house and the country will be brought up to date on these objectives?

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LIB

Jean-Luc Pepin (Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. Pepin:

Mr. Speaker, a month or so ago we had a full two day debate on these matters. I spoke for 45 minutes on the subject, and I shall be delighted to send my hon. friend copies of my speech.

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PC

Robert Lorne Stanfield (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Stanfield:

Mr. Speaker, do I understand my hon. friend to indicate that he will not be making such a statement as I requested?

Topic:   INQUIRY AS TO ARRANGEMENTS RESPECTING EXPORTS TO U.S.
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LIB

Jean-Luc Pepin (Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. Pepin:

At the time, Mr. Speaker, I said-perhaps it was not very political or partisan on my part-that the policy introduced in 1961 by some hon. members now on the other side of the house was still a valid one, but I said we were improving upon it every day.

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January 30, 1968