John Allen Fraser (Speaker of the House of Commons)
The Hon. Member has the floor.
Subtopic: THE CONSTITUTION ACT, 1867 CONSTITUTION AMENDMENT, 1987
The Hon. Member has the floor.
Hon. Donald J. Johnston (Saint-Henri-Westmount):
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments of my hon. friend. I do seek the indulgence of Members if I run slightly over the time, but I do not expect to be much in excess.
The 1987 Constitutional Accord, which like others I refer to as Meech Lake, has been with us now for almost one year. Despite the conspiracy of silence, one might call it, established among our so-called political leaders and some of our aspiring political leaders, Canadians are slowly becoming aware of what is truly at stake in Meech Lake. The result of that awareness was predictable. The more Meech Lake is understood, the more it is being rejected by Canadians. Some Canadians see it only as a problem for themselves, and that is understandable. For example, the native peoples, women, representatives of the Yukon and the Territories, and so on, have pleaded their cases eloquently at every opportunity.
The proposed constitutional amendment is invasive in that it affects every aspect of our economic and social fabric, even our political geography. When we talk about Meech Lake, we are talking about the future of Canada, the Canada we have known for 121 years, the Canada we love and the Canada where we have prospered.
Mr. Speaker, my concerns about Meech Lake aren't restricted to a single issue: whether we are talking about the future of Anglophones in Quebec; whether we are discussing the sad plight of our Native people, the weakening of sexual equality, the restrictions that would apply to federal spending powers, the absurd suggestion regarding appointments to the Senate or the dangerous proposal for appointments to the
Supreme Court, my concerns rise from the proposed amendment as a whole.
Thanks to Meech Lake Canada is to be partitioned into two distinct societies based on language and territory: Quebec will be French, the rest of Canada English, albeit with each agreeing to preserve the existence of those whose tongue is alien to the particular society in which they find themselves.
Linguistic genocide, therefore, is not proposed, but neither is a bilingual nation where public services would be available in French or English from coast to coast.
Quebec will have a special status, authority to promote its distinct identity at home and abroad, with additional powers not available to other provinces. What authority remains to the federal Government to deal with the social and economic challenges of Canadians is also being removed.
Canada is to become an association of provincial fiefdoms with semi-annual meetings between First Ministers to coordinate national objectives and policies, and strip Ottawa of whatever other authority the provinces might cherish. Meech Lake is very clearly the beginning of that process.
At Ottawa's expense, the provinces acquire powers in immigration, social and economic areas, appointments to the Senate and the Supreme Court, and a veto for each over all major changes, including the creation of new provinces. To make those gains secure, there is an amending formula that puts Canada's evolution on a one-way street to more and more decentralization and the potential break up of the federation.
You might ask, Mr. Speaker: Why do so many accept Meech Lake? Well, most accept it looking through rose-coloured glasses, hoping that the various scenarios implicit in Meech Lake do not unfold. Having listened to the Prime Minister (Mr. Mulroney) and the Leaders of both opposition Parties here today, I believe that they are wearing the rosiest glasses of all. They rationalize away what concerns they may have on the ground that Quebec's moral adherence to the Constitution is worth the price. They hope the price is not too high, but they do not know. Some, even our Prime Minister as a matter of fact, admit that they do not know what the price is. What is the meaning of the distinct society clause? "Some day the Supreme Court of Canada will tell us", he says. Yes, indeed, the courts will one day tell us what we have done to Canada through Meech Lake, should it move forward. If we do not like it at that time, too bad. It will be too late to change directions.
Others, of course, embrace Meech Lake because they covet a further reduction of federal authority. If a form of sovereignty association with a unilingual French Quebec is necessary to achieve that reduction, well so be it. Quebec nationalists want it because they will finally have created the long dreamed of deux nations, and the extreme nationalists in Quebec see Meech Lake as a solid stepping-stone to Quebec's independence.
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When the Prime Minister, and the Leader of the NDP Party (Mr. Broadbent), say: "We now know the answer to the question: 'What does Quebec want?'" I would say we have a vague idea of what the current Quebec Government wants. The two are very different. We have heard all leaders, and we just heard the Member for Etobicoke-Lakeshore (Mr. Boyer) say that Quebec has said "Yes" to Canada and now Canada must say "Yes" to Quebec. In fact, the Prime Minister said very specifically Quebec-
"Quebec said yes twice". That is not true, Mr. Speaker. The people of Quebec said yes in 1980, but the Parti Quebecois Government said no to Canada.
The two are not the same. What the population said and what the Government said are two entirely different things.
In 1980 the Quebec Government said "No" to Canada, and we are not hearing from the Quebec people except through the Quebec Government which replaced the Pequiste Government of Mr. Levesque.
What does this adherence mean? We hear that it will allow Canada to move forward with constitutional evolution, that Quebec will now come to the negotiating table on a regular basis, that this is the Quebec round that has been finished. We have heard all of this, Mr. Speaker. Where do we see any of this in Meech Lake? As a matter of fact, when I look at Mr. Bourassa's comments in the National Assembly, I hear him say, or I read that he has said that Quebec has not lost anything through Meech Lake, that there has been no step backward.
In fact, the Liberal Party, and I quote: "recognizes Quebec's right to determine its internal constitution and to express freely its desire to either maintain or terminate its membership in the Canadian federation". That was a resolution passed by the Liberal Party in 1980, and it has in no way been changed or affected by Meech Lake.
I am not so sure that the attributes of this adherence that are being given to Quebec's signature by Members in the House, and by the Leaders of the Parties, are really those that Mr. Bourassa gives. I see no guarantee that the Quebec Government in future will come to the table, if it does not suit its purpose.
Where are the defenders of Canada in this debate? [Translation]
Today, Mr. Speaker, I am here as one of Canada's elected representatives, and I am ashamed, because our elected politicians have done a disservice to the 25 million Canadians they are supposed to represent. Mr. Speaker, this is a sad moment in our history. It is a sad time for our political system,
Constitution Amendment, 1987
and I think it is even sadder for those in whom their constituents have placed their trust.
Mr. Speaker, this constitutional debate, the most important one of our time, and its effects that will determine the very nature of our federation, of our national, political and economic institutions, and even the future of our country, this debate will go down in history without any expression of dissent from the Opposition parties in this House.
What have some of our political Leaders said about the Meech Lake Accord? In recent weeks, and I will come to some of the comments made today, I heard Premier Bourassa ask: "Who has found a serious flaw in Meech Lake?" The answer to that is: "Who has not?" We can begin with 80 per cent of the lawyers polled by the Canadian Bar Association who responded with various degrees of concern about Meech Lake. The list of flaws and critics is virtually inexhaustible. Only our so-called political Leaders have chosen to duck the issue.
The Prime Minister stood in this House again this morning claiming that no one had found an egregious error. That is simply nonsense and the Canadian people know it. Mr. Lucien Bouchard, who supported the separatist aspirations of Rene Levesque and the Parti Quebecois, is now an unelected Minister of the Government. He is reported in the May 18 edition of Le Devoir as saying:
"What we must tell English Canada is that Quebec's aspirations can no longer be kept out. There is a very simple solution-the Meech Lake Accord."
What aspirations is he talking about? Something like the sovereignty-association that he fought for in 1980. It is quite obvious, as my colleague from Davenport (Mr. Caccia) has just said, that the Accord could provide a way to attain it. And like the Meech Lake Accord, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Bouchard divides the country into two language groups, French Canada in Quebec and English Canada elsewhere.
And my colleague, the Hon. Member for Laval-des-Rapides (Mr. Garneau), who is in the House this afternoon, talks in the same way. In an interview in La Presse on May 18, he accuses us, that is Jean Chretien, Pierre Trudeau and myself, whom he considers the old guard, of completely misunderstanding the Meech Lake Accord:
"I said that I was going to Ottawa to defend Quebec's interests, not to defend Ottawa's interests in Quebec."
My friend from Laval-des-Rapides also seems to divide Canada into two territorial linguistic communities. Here we find a fundamentally different view of Canada and even of the role of Members of Parliament. Mr. Bouchard and my friend from Laval-des-Rapides are no doubt sincere in their belief
June 14, 1988
Constitution Amendment, 1987
that they are here to defend the interests of Quebec. However, by that they clearly mean the interests of the Quebec Government. Clearly they have no better mandate to speak on behalf of the people of Quebec than I do. Or, would they say an Anglophone MP cannot speak for people of Quebec? If so, would they say that the Hon. Member for Ottawa-Vanier (Mr. Gauthier), a Francophone, cannot speak for people of Ontario? Or, the Hon. Member for St. Boniface (Mr. Duguay), also a Francophone, cannot speak for Manitobans? I do not think they mean that. Therefore, when my friend from Laval-des-Rapides refers to Quebec, I believe he refers to the provincial Government of Quebec and sees this House as a kind of brokerage house for provincial interests which he believes he has a mandate to defend.
I say to you and to him that if we in this House adopt that attitude, who in this Chamber is going to speak for Canada? Who is going to defend the national vision? I would add that I have enormous respect for my friend from Laval-des-Rapides, whose sincerity, dedication and integrity are beyond reproach. That is a healthy and welcome contrast to what I sometimes see elsewhere in this Chamber.
I did not come to Ottawa to defend the interests of the Quebec Government. Premier Bourassa does a good job of that. We here are elected to a national Parliament and we must never forget it. Our duty is to defend the national interest. In doing so, we must be accountable to those who elected us but not to provincial Governments. While we defend and promote the interests of our communities and our regions, we must do so within a national context.
Meech Lake is very much in keeping with the other view, namely that the federal Government and this Parliament are simply delegates of the provinces, like the manager of a condominium project with the responsibility delegated by the owners to take care of the common property, cut the grass, remove the snow, and clean the lobby and hallways. That is not my vision of Canada. It was not the vision of the vieille garde and all those who preceded them, from Sir John A. Macdonald to Pierre Elliott Trudeau. I want to say, judging by the volume of mail I have received and the reception I have received across this country on many speaking engagements, that this vision of the old guard is strong, healthy and growing every day.
During the past year I have addressed the subject of Meech Lake on many occasions in all the provinces of Canada with the exception, regrettably, of Newfoundland. That experience tells me that Canadians believe in one nation, one society, and when informed they overwhelmingly reject Meech Lake.
I respect the fact that some sincerely believe that the federal Government should be, as it were, a condominium manager and Canada should be divided into two nations, one French speaking and one English speaking. I profoundly disagree and I will fight to defend my vision of the country. I do respect those views, but I do not respect those, and we heard from the three Leaders in this House today, who would have us believe
that Meech Lake is not changing the nature of our federation. Some even pretended, for goodness' sake, that it promotes national bilingualism even in the Province of Quebec. I refer to the earlier speeches of the Minister of Justice (Mr. Hnaty-shyn), my friend from York Centre, and the Hon. Member for New Westminster-Coquitlam (Ms. Jewett), and the speeches again given today by the Prime Minister and the Leaders of both opposition Parties. If I may say so, those speeches are replete with naivety, inaccuracies, and even legal stupidities.
How conceited can you get?
I am glad to see my friend from New Westminster-Coquitlam here today. She said:
If Meech Lake were already in effect, it is our firm belief that that limiting
action of the Saskatchewan Government would have been declared contrary to
the Constitution as amended by Meech Lake.
Really? That seems to be the view supported by the Leaders today.
We think it is the right view.
As far as Saskatchewan is concerned, Meech Lake was in effect morally, it being the second province following Quebec to accept it. However, if one reads Meech Lake, which most people apparently have not, it clearly states that provincial legislatures have a role to "preserve the existence of French-speaking Canadians elsewhere in Canada". There is nothing in there referring to the preservation of rights, notwithstanding the fact that the Prime Minister said that today and the Leaders of both opposition Parties said the same thing. One final nail in the coffin of that argument is that Section 2(4) of Meech Lake is absolutely clear: No power with respect to language that belonged to a legislature prior to Meech Lake is affected by Meech Lake.
The Supreme Court of Canada told Saskatchewan it had the power to do what it did, but it would seem the Prime Minister and the spokespersons for the opposition Parties are offering us legal opinions that even a layman would reject reading the text of the Meech Lake Accord itself.
Finally, I ask them this question. If Meech Lake is intended to protect existing rights, then French-speaking Canadians elsewhere in Canada would have more rights in Saskatchewan or in Ontario than they would in British Columbia. Mr. Vander Zalm presumably feels that he would be discharging his role to "preserve the existence of French-speaking Canadians" without adding any rights to his statute books. Why should not Mr. Peterson and Mr. Devine be entitled to discharge their roles at the same level as Mr. Vander Zalm? Some day the courts will answer these questions, but please do not then turn and say that we were not warned about the disastrous consequences of Meech Lake on the linguistic rights of Canadians from coast to coast.
June 14, 1988
Finally I turn to some of the remarkable comments of the Minister of Justice speaking on behalf of the Government, Mr. Speaker. He assures us that the territorial division of Canada into a distinct society of Quebec on the one hand and the other distinct society in the rest of Canada is not to be feared by minorities in Quebec. He said:
When we say that Quebec constitutes a distinct society within Canada, it is
understood that all residents of Quebec are an integral part of that society ...
Those Quebecers from a multicultural community are part of it. Quebec's
English-speaking community is an integral part of the Quebec's distinct
That is an interesting comment. Is that what Premier Bourassa meant when he said in the National Assembly:
For the first time in 120 years of history, the Constitution will recognize Quebec as a distinct society. The Constitution will provide Quebec with the means to preserve and promote its distinct identity and will give a constitutional basis for the French fact in Quebec.
Is the Minister of Justice really telling us that the Quebec Government sees itself as having a role to preserve and promote the English presence in Quebec? If so, how does he view the current policies which forbid the use of English on commercial signs, which limit access to English schooling, which insist on French dubbed films before general film distribution and so on? Does he see all this as changing after Meech Lake when Quebec will set about to promote all elements of its distinct society including the English component? If he does, then the Minister of Justice-
I hesitate to interrupt the Hon. Member but the Hon. Member for Saint-Denis (Mr. Prud'homme) is rising on a point of order.
Mr. Speaker, I have a point of order. I would like you to remind us of the rule of the debate. I have no objection to listening further to the Hon. Member, but are Members allowed 30 minutes or 20 minutes for their speeches? I think the time of the Hon. Member expired some time ago. We have four Members who want to speak. If the Hon. Member has a few more minutes, then that is okay with me, but he needs permission.
The Hon. Member raised a legitimate point of order. As Hon. Members know the Party Leaders had unlimited time. All other Members are speaking for 20 minutes followed by a 10 minute question and comment period. The Hon. Member has spoken for about 21 or 22 minutes at the moment. I am in the hands of the House. I will let him continue for a few minutes if it is the wish of the House.
Constitution Amendment, 1987
I thank you and my hon. colleagues for the courtesy, Mr. Speaker.
I was pointing out what had taken place in the Province of Quebec and that the Minister of Justice seems to believe that there is an obligation to promote the English component of Quebec society. In light of what we have seen, if he believes that, I would add that he must still believe in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy.
Professor Lederman in the Financial Post on August 31, 1987, an authority quoted with approval in this House by the Government, had it right when he wrote of "the distinct society of French-speaking Canadians in Quebec". That is what Meech Lake is all about. It is about a French Quebec in an English Canada. There are 800,000 English-speaking people in Quebec who are not part of that distinct society. Make no mistake about it, Mr. Speaker. Meech Lake is opting for the Belgian solution, which our Commissioner of Official Languages in his recent report has described as a recipe for national suicide. Only days ago as we know Mr. Remillard made the Quebec Government's view absolutely clear. Meech Lake is to support a French Quebec not a bilingual Quebec. For once I found myself in entire agreement with Mr. Remillard because that is what Meech Lake is telling us.
The message is coming through to Canadians despite efforts to suppress debate even in this House. What is that message Canadians are receiving? If you believe in one Canada, you must reject Meech Lake. That is part of the message.
And if you believe that this country should keep a national vision that is greater than the sum of the provincial visions, that is, that Canada is greater than the sum of its provincial parts, you must reject the Meech Lake Accord.
If you believe that the individual minority rights of Canadians, be they linguistic rights or sexual equality rights, should be protected against the collective rights of a distinct society, then you must reject Meech Lake. If you believe that Canada requires national programs meeting national standards or criteria in research, education, training, income maintenance and health and that the federal spending power should be used for such purposes in the future, I should say as it has so successfully done in the past
You are totally off.
You are totally off.
-then you must reject Meech Lake. If you believe the Constitution of this country should be a flexible instrument reflecting changing economic and social conditions as our country evolves with a constitutional amending formula to allow that to take place, then you must reject Meech Lake.
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Constitution Amendment, 1987
And if you believe, Mr. Speaker, that the 11 First Ministers should not have the power to change behind closed doors our fundamental law, namely the Constitution, you must reject the Meech Lake Accord. And if you believe that the judges of the Supreme Court should not be appointed from among candidates submitted by the provincial governments, you must reject the Meech Lake Accord.
If you believe that the Senate should be reformed to reflect the original intentions of the Fathers of Confederation, namely, to protect the regions against an overbearing central authority, you must reject Meech Lake.
If you believe in that, in a federation like ours the provinces should exercise the same powers and that no one province should have a special legal status which entitles it to exercise important powers not available to other provinces, you must reject Meech Lake.
So, Mr. Speaker, if you see our country as one with two official languages and bilingual institutions in every province, in every region, with sufficient protection for linguistic minorities, you must reject the Meech Lake Accord.
For those who look at this Accord and see where it can take the country, I say to those who voted no in the Quebec Referendum in 1980 that you must also reject Meech Lake.
So, Mr. Speaker, I have tabled amendments, which are found in the Order Paper, seconded by the Hon. Member for Laurier (Mr. Berger), which are designed to satisfy the Quebec Government's five demands for moral adherence to the Canadian Constitution. They are virtually identical to those adopted by the Liberal Party at its 1986 November policy convention and were supported overwhelmingly by Liberals from all regions of this country. I say to my fellow Liberal Members in this House and the caucus, regrettably of which I am no longer a member, that if they do not support the amendments brought forward which reflect the mandate given to us by the Liberal Party of Canada, they are turning their backs on the Liberal Party and rejecting not only the Liberal vision of this country of Canada, which we have held through most of the century, but the specific mandate given by the Party at the November 1986 policy convention.
In order to save time, and I appreciate the generosity that Members have extended to me, I will not go through all of these amendments but I hope Members will look at them because they incorporate the Victoria formula, for example for the appointment of Supreme Court Justices. They invoke the Victoria formula suggested by the Liberal Party for constitutional amendments. They put in a preamble which recognizes the distinctive character of Quebec as the principal but not the exclusive source of French language and culture in Canada.
They cover all of those points that were subject to the Liberal resolution of November, 1986.
In conclusion, let me say that these amendments are important because the Meech Lake Accord is not acceptable to Canadians in its present form. Those in this Chamber who think this will pass through all the provincial legislatures, I say that they are dreaming in colour. The answer is not simply to reject what we have, it is to come forward with something that will be acceptable to the Province of Quebec and which will be acceptable to Liberals from coast to coast.
I say to those in this House who argue as they have time and time again that it is necessary to proceed with Meech Lake despite its obvious flaws and that it is necessary to adopt it without amendment, remember the wisdom of William Pitt who said in the British House of Commons nearly 200 years ago:
Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom; it is the
argument of tyrants, it is the creed of slaves.
Canadians are not slaves, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Alex Kindy (Calgary East):
Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the Hon. Member for Saint-Henri-Westmount (Mr. Johnston) for his excellent speech. I think that he has shown the House that his vision of Canada is shared by many Quebecers and most Canadians.
I would like to ask the Hon. Member a somewhat precise question about the distinct society clause. How does he feel about the distinct society clause not being in the preamble but in an operational clause, therefore giving clear instructions to the courts that they should interpret every other part of the Constitution relative to that clause? It would be interesting to know if the distinct society clause overrides the Charter or overrides anything that is in the Constitution so that that may be interpreted in favour of a distinct society for Quebec. I wonder if we should refer that clause to the Supreme Court of Canada for interpretation before we vote on this important issue.
Second, I wonder if the unanimity clause prevents amendments to the Constitution as far as the Senate is concerned. As the Hon. Member well knows, western Canadians believe that we should have an equal, effective and elected Senate. Will having the unanimity clause in the Accord prevent us from changing the second House in this Parliament?
We have seen what can happen. Last year we were called back to deal with emergency legislation on refugees. The Senate has been holding back that legislation for the last year. Those who are not elected, not responsible to constituents, are holding back our legislation. Will the Meech Lake unanimity clause prevent us from changing the Senate? These are some of the concerns I have, and I am also concerned as to whether
June 14, 1988
or not the distinct society clause overrides the Charter of Rights.
Mr. Speaker, I have been asked a legal question and I have my own legal opinions, but I do agree that it would be very useful to refer the distinct society clause and a number of other clauses to the Supreme Court of Canada for determination so that Members of the House would vote with the full knowledge of what may be involved. In June of 1987,1 in fact wrote to the Prime Minister suggesting specifically that, and I wrote as well to all of the premiers because the provinces also have the right to refer matters to their respective courts of appeal for interpretation, as in fact the provinces did back in 1981 during the patriation exercise. I think there is a very serious question as to what the implication of the distinct society clause is, not only on the Charter but also on power transfers.
We have heard Members of the House say that there is a non-derogation clause, we cannot change Section 91 and Section 92. However, some of the most important powers in our Constitution, their distribution and application, including communications and much of trade and commerce and the application of the peace, order and good Government clause, have been brought about through the interpretation of the Constitution. As Professor Beaudouin, a proponent of this particular Accord, said-
"It is an interpretation rule that has changed the Canadian federation."
This interpretation clause then is very significant.
With respect to the Senate, that is not a legal question, that is a question of political dynamics. I ask Members of this House who are practising politicians if they know any politician who would voluntarily give up the right to appoint 24 Senators to the Senate of Canada in return for an equal, effective and elected Senate in order to satisfy the concerns of western Canadians. I might say that in the amendments I have put forward, that kind of Senate is put right on the agenda of the First Ministers. The Triple E Senate should be addressed by the First Ministers as soon as possible. In the meantime, no change should be made because if the change which is provided for in Meech Lake is made, then I do not think, and I think the Hon. Member from Calgary shares my view, that we will ever see Senate reform in our lifetimes.
Madam Speaker, I would like to make a short comment on the Hon. Member's speech and on some of the points of view he put forward. First, I would observe that we have had in Canada a long history of the implementation of the kind of philosophy he advocates, namely that of an extremely strong central Government, the heavy hand of Ottawa coming down on the provinces. We have to ask where that got us, and that is only in recent history.
Constitution Amendment, 1987
If this philosophy is the one that keeps our country together, how is it that in 1980 at the time of the referendum, 40 per cent of the people of Quebec and almost 50 per cent of the French-speaking people of Quebec voted to leave confederation as we know it? If that is the philosophy of success as far as keeping our country together goes, how is it that in 1980, we faced a major constitutional crisis, perhaps the most significant crisis in this century?
The Hon. Member spoke of constitutional documents, their perfections and their imperfections. How can a Member speak with such criticism of Meech Lake when in 1982 there was a constitutional agreement reached which left out the Province of Quebec? The National Assembly of Quebec rejected the document. The Government of Quebec was not a signatory to the 1982 constitutional Accord, notwithstanding the fact that the change which was reflected in that document was the change which was promised to the people of Quebec in 1980, change which was an effort to respond to the legitimate aspirations of the people of Quebec.
In the 1987 Meech Lake Accord, there is a series of constitutional changes that date well back into the history of the Liberal Government which was ruling this country in 1968. Changes to the Supreme Court of Canada, the Senate, the shared-cost programs, references to distinct society, the duality provisions and the role of the provinces, all of these have a history that predates this Government. What was new in 1987 was that for the first time, these elements were brought together and an Accord was reached. That is what eluded Canada before this.
The question for us all to consider is not who will speak for Canada, because there is a far more basic question than that, and that is, will there be a Canada. In my view, there will be a stronger, more prosperous Canada because Meech Lake is the glue that will keep us together.
Madam Speaker, I think it is quite appropriate to have a debate in this country on centralization or decentralization or whether we should have two nations in order to keep the country together. I have no problem with having that kind of debate, but let us have that debate, because that is what we are talking about. I do not happen to share that view, but let us not pretend that Meech Lake is anything other than a stepping stone to deux nations and to a highly decentralized federation with an amending formula which does not permit the flexibility that we have known historically.
The Hon. Member for Cape Breton Highlands-Canso (Mr. O'Neil) asks what has this done for us. It has brought us to being one of the seventh largest industrialized countries in the world with one of the highest standards of living known to man. I think Canada has been a great success, though certainly there could be improvements.
The Hon. Member referred to the 1982 patriation exercise. It was former Prime Minister Trudeau who pointed out in the Senate that in fact, of elected Members from Quebec, whether
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Message from the Senate
in the National Assembly or in this House, comparing the two of them, 109 voted in favour and only 74 against it. The entire Parti Quebecois and only four others in Quebec voted against it. We remember that in this House overwhelming support was given to the patriation exercise in the Charter by Members who represented every single region of Quebec, just as the Hon. Member represents Cape Breton Highlands-Canso.
It is simply pure folklore to say that there were not elected Members from Quebec speaking in favour of the patriation exercise. Did anyone really expect a pequiste Premier of Quebec, Rene Levesque, whose life was dedicated to taking Quebec out of Canada, to sign a constitutional document which would basically bind Quebec to Canada? I think that is somewhat unrealistic.