November 1, 1976 (30th Parliament, 2nd Session)


William Heward Grafftey

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Grafftey:

The minister said that he consulted the provincial authorities. Has he ever heard of property and civil rights? With regard to some of the disclosure provisions, some of the unwarranted interest rate provisions, I really wonder if some of the officials or some of the members of the government have studied constitutional law at all. We on this side of the House hope that the pitfall has been avoided.
I listened with great interest to the question put by the hon. member for Edmonton West. I am concerned about some of the constitutional provisions in the bill, certainly in the province of Quebec, which would involve property and civil rights. In other provinces there are other considerations. I ask the minister whether he has read the Saskatchewan brief on this whole matter. Frankly, from reading the bill and some of the provisions in it I doubt whether there has been real consultation with the provincial authorities vis-a-vis the constitutionality of it.
November 1, 1976

Maybe I am not up to date with respect to some of my legal principles, but I always thought that no matter what we said here in the House of Commons, it was a long-standing principle of law that it was incumbent on the plaintiff to prove his case. The minister will surely have to prove his case to us both in the House and in committee. No doubt the law is fraught with exceptions to the general rule, but I rather doubt that this is one of them.
I see all kinds of difficulties from a practical as well as from a legalistic point of view about asking the defendant to prove his case, as now seems to be proposed. 1 always thought it was a principle of law that innocence was presumed until the contrary was proved. Some of the thinking behind this provision is certainly foreign to me. I note the minister has expressed the hope that there will not be much litigation as a result of this bill. But where litigation does arise, it will come before courts under provincial jurisdiction whose judges will have the last say as to who is going to prove what, how and where. Seriously, I wonder to what extent the provinces have been consulted in relation to this bill. When we get into committee, and later on in the debate, the minister will certainly be called upon to allay our fears on this point.
The hon. gentleman has already stated that the first purpose of the bill is to protect Canadian borrowers-

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