April 29, 1988

PC

Barbara Jane (Bobbie) Sparrow

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Sparrow:

No, it is not.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS-MOTIONS CONSTITUTION ACT, 1982 SUGGESTED AMENDMENT TO INCLUDE PROPERTY RIGHTS
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NDP

Pauline Jewett

New Democratic Party

Ms. Jewett:

It amends the Constitution Act in order to do certain things without saying how it should be amended. It only says that it is to be amended in order to give some protection to the right to enjoy property and that the federal Government and the provinces will work it out in some fashion. That is all it says.

The original motion by the Hon. Member for Kitchener was very explicit on how this House should amend the Constitution Act, 1982, namely, by adding within Section 7 of the Charter the words "enjoyment of property". I find it very strange that the Conservative Party should now be welshing on that very specific proposal.

I can only conclude that the Conservative Party has been listening to the arguments put forward by the New Democratic Party during the course of the previous four hours of debate on this matter and has concluded that the motion originally proposed by the Hon. Member for Kitchener-and the

April 29, 1988

Property Rights

amendment that was proposed in earlier Parliaments, is very inadvisable; that it could indeed lead to very perverse results and might circumscribe the rights of all citizens, including other property owners. It might also make difficult the enjoyment of all freedoms guaranteed in the Charter. The matter needs a good deal more discussion and debate and, ideally, the matter needs to be dropped.

Those who advocate amending the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to guarantee the right to enjoy property are, in my view, being either mischievious or naive. When they make this proposal they make it sound as though it was the most simple of adjustments, a statement of the obvious that would be opposed only by someone who wants to deprive people of what is rightfully theirs. That is the subtle implication. Yet, as many associations have pointed out including the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, entrenching property rights or the rights to the enjoyment of property can have very perverse results.

The Hon. Member for Ottawa-Carleton is under the impression that property means land and land only. That is ridiculous. Property in this modern day and age means a great deal more than land, the most important of which is intellectual property. That in itself indicates that property rights are a far less clear-cut concept than other rights already entrenched in the Constitution.

For example, when we speak of the right not to be imprisoned without due process of law or the right to freedom of expression, we know at least in a general sense what is intended. But, what actually is the right to enjoy property? That right needs to be so hedged with restrictions in order to protect the rights of others, and of society as a whole that it is far, far from absolute.

What then would it mean to enshrine in our Constitution as a fundamental and more or less absolute right the enjoyment of property? If it meant only that the right to enjoy property existed to the extent that society through its laws chooses not to limit it-and that in effect is the situation today-then the constitutional guarantee would be virtually meaningless. If it meant more than that, then the still insufficiently explored consequence could be a dismantling of some or even all of the laws that exist to protect us all.

That is why we have suspected for some time that what the promoters of the property amendment really want is a legal opportunity to challenge a vast body of legislation which exists today and which subjects property ownership to a wider community interest, including that of other property owners.

Urban property speculators, for instance, are thirsting to use a property rights clause to short circuit zoning by-laws and community organizations, those organizations having the gall to prevent landowners from doing whatever they please with their property. They do not want to see the freedom-putting freedom in quotes-to build a fast food stand in a quiet neighbourhood abridged. They do not want to have any

limitations on their intention, perhaps, to turn the back 40 into a highly profitable dump for PCBs. If property rights are constitutionally entrenched, how long would it take for a lawyer to draft a brief denouncing rent controls as unconscionable and illegal government meddling?

In its current form the enjoyment of property-and what was a proposed amendment and which now has been somehow taken off the table by the Conservatives-could easily be used to throw into question zoning by-laws, restrictions on land use, rent controls, environmental laws, restrictions on foreign ownership, the right of Governments to expropriate property in the public interest, and who knows what else. It is understandable why most provincial Governments, many of them Conservative-and it is the provinces which have a large voice in property and civil rights under Section 92 of the Constitution-have hitherto said, including the former Premier of Alberta, that the placing of the enjoyment of property in the Constitution should be avoided and must be opposed. That is of course what this Party intends to do.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS-MOTIONS CONSTITUTION ACT, 1982 SUGGESTED AMENDMENT TO INCLUDE PROPERTY RIGHTS
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PC

John Henry Reimer

Progressive Conservative

Mr. John Reimer (Kitchener):

Mr. Speaker, in wrapping up the debate, I point out that this is the fifth hour that has been provided under the rules in Private Members' Hour on a votable motion. I want to say that we have had a good debate. Some 31 people have spoken on the motion. Some 21 have spoken in favour of it, while 10 have spoken against it.

I want to say that the spirit of the amendment and the amendment to the amendment that was put today is simply that the spirit of the motion continue. We want to entrench property rights but this will change the procedure. It will now go through the First Ministers as opposed to going directly to the Senate and the provinces.

That is being done because of a commitment made during the Meech Lake process at which all the Premiers and the Prime Minister (Mr. Mulroney) agreed together that what they would do is try to complete the Meech Lake process first and then deal with such matters as Senate reform, property rights, and changes to the Constitution. That is what we have done.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS-MOTIONS CONSTITUTION ACT, 1982 SUGGESTED AMENDMENT TO INCLUDE PROPERTY RIGHTS
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NDP

Pauline Jewett

New Democratic Party

Ms. Jewett:

Why did you not do it long ago?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS-MOTIONS CONSTITUTION ACT, 1982 SUGGESTED AMENDMENT TO INCLUDE PROPERTY RIGHTS
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PC

John Henry Reimer

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Reimer:

That is what we have attempted to do today. We have concluded this debate. I call upon my colleagues in the House to vote in favour of the amended motion.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS-MOTIONS CONSTITUTION ACT, 1982 SUGGESTED AMENDMENT TO INCLUDE PROPERTY RIGHTS
Permalink
?

Some Hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS-MOTIONS CONSTITUTION ACT, 1982 SUGGESTED AMENDMENT TO INCLUDE PROPERTY RIGHTS
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PC

Marcel Danis (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

The question is on the amendment standing in the name of the Hon. Member for Ottawa- Carleton (Mr. Turner). Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS-MOTIONS CONSTITUTION ACT, 1982 SUGGESTED AMENDMENT TO INCLUDE PROPERTY RIGHTS
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?

Some Hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS-MOTIONS CONSTITUTION ACT, 1982 SUGGESTED AMENDMENT TO INCLUDE PROPERTY RIGHTS
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?

Some Hon. Members:

No.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS-MOTIONS CONSTITUTION ACT, 1982 SUGGESTED AMENDMENT TO INCLUDE PROPERTY RIGHTS
Permalink
PC

Marcel Danis (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

All those in favour will please say yea.

April 29, 1988

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS-MOTIONS CONSTITUTION ACT, 1982 SUGGESTED AMENDMENT TO INCLUDE PROPERTY RIGHTS
Permalink
?

Some Hon. Members:

Yea.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS-MOTIONS CONSTITUTION ACT, 1982 SUGGESTED AMENDMENT TO INCLUDE PROPERTY RIGHTS
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PC

Marcel Danis (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

All those opposed will please say nay.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS-MOTIONS CONSTITUTION ACT, 1982 SUGGESTED AMENDMENT TO INCLUDE PROPERTY RIGHTS
Permalink
?

Some Hon. Members:

Nay.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS-MOTIONS CONSTITUTION ACT, 1982 SUGGESTED AMENDMENT TO INCLUDE PROPERTY RIGHTS
Permalink
PC

Marcel Danis (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five Members having risen:

Property Rights

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS-MOTIONS CONSTITUTION ACT, 1982 SUGGESTED AMENDMENT TO INCLUDE PROPERTY RIGHTS
Permalink
PC

Marcel Danis (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Pursuant to Standing Order 13(5), the recorded division stands deferred until 6 p.m. on Monday, May 2, 1988.

It being 3 p.m., this House stands adjourned until Monday next at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 3(1).

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS-MOTIONS CONSTITUTION ACT, 1982 SUGGESTED AMENDMENT TO INCLUDE PROPERTY RIGHTS
Permalink

The House adjourned at 2.58 p.m.



Monday, May 2, 1988



Prayers


April 29, 1988