June 14, 1988 (33rd Parliament, 2nd Session)


Donald James Johnston

Independent Liberal

Mr. Johnston:

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

June 14, 1988
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.

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