Hon. Brian Tobin (Minister of Industry, Lib.)
WHEREAS section 43 of the Constitution Act, 1982 provides that an amendment to the Constitution of Canada may be made by proclamation issued by the Governor General under the Great Seal of Canada where so authorized by resolutions of the Senate and House of Commons and of the legislative assembly of each province to which the amendment applies;
NOW THEREFORE the House of Commons resolves that an amendment to the Constitution of Canada be authorized to be made by proclamation issued by Her Excellency the Governor General under the Great Seal of Canada in accordance with the schedule hereto.
AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION OF CANADA
The Terms of Union of Newfoundland with Canada set out in the Schedule to the Newfoundland Act are amended by striking out the words “Province of Newfoundland” wherever they occur and substituting the words “Province of Newfoundland and Labrador”.
Paragraph (g) of Term 33 of the Schedule to the Act is amended by striking out the word “Newfoundland” and substituting the words “the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador”.
Term 38 of the Schedule to the Act is amended by striking out the words “Newfoundland veterans” wherever they occur and substituting the words “Newfoundland and Labrador veterans”.
Term 42 of the Schedule to the Act is amended by striking out the words “Newfoundland merchant seamen” and “Newfoundland merchant seaman” wherever they occur and substituting the words “Newfoundland and Labrador merchant seamen” and “Newfoundland and Labrador merchant seaman”, respectively.
Subsection (2) of Term 46 of the Schedule to the Act is amended by adding immediately after the word “Newfoundland” where it first occurs the words “and Labrador”.
This Amendment may be cited as the Constitution Amendment, [year of proclamation] (Newfoundland and Labrador).
Mr. Speaker, today I am pleased to be joined by my colleague, the member for Labrador, and to note as well the presence in the gallery of the House of Commons of the minister of intergovernmental affairs of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Hon. Tom Lush, for what I believe is an important and historic resolution.
Today I have the pleasure of introducing a resolution to authorize a bilateral amendment to term 1 of the terms of union of Newfoundland with Canada. The amendment would change the name of the province to Newfoundland and Labrador.
Newfoundland became part of Canada on March 31, 1949, with the Newfoundland Act which ratified the terms of union between Newfoundland and Canada.
The government of Newfoundland and Labrador has taken many steps over time, beginning with the passage of the Labrador Act in 1964, to recognize the reality that Labrador is a vital part of the province. The Labrador Act provided for the official recognition of Labrador in the provincial coat of arms, on government stationery and in government publications.
While this was an important measure, the name of the province provided for in the terms of union with Canada remains the province of Newfoundland. That name does not reflect by itself the fundamental reality of my home province, which includes both Newfoundland and Labrador.
Indeed, it is a unique province in the sense that so much a part of the history, the reality, the culture, the songs and the tradition of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador is separated by the Atlantic Ocean and the Strait of Belle Isle.
Many of our citizens, small in number but so dynamic, have never fully felt their contribution and their presence reflected fully in the governance of my home province or in its official name.
In April 1992 the Newfoundland house of assembly unanimously adopted a resolution calling on the provincial government to take the necessary steps to change the name of the province to Newfoundland and Labrador.
The Newfoundland and Labrador throne speech of March 20, 1996, called upon the provincial government to take the necessary action to change the name of the province.
I was very honoured as the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador on April 29, 1999, to rise in the Newfoundland house of assembly and to seek and receive the unanimous adoption of a resolution authorizing the Governor General to issue a proclamation to amend term 1 of the terms of union to reflect the new name of the province to that of Newfoundland and Labrador.
The government then asked the Government of Canada to take appropriate measures at the federal level to effect a constitutional amendment. Our role and our responsibility now, as parliamentarians, is to consider the proposed amendment at the national level and to decide whether to approve it.
It is the longstanding practice of the Government of Canada to take positive action in response to provincial requests for bilateral amendments to the constitution.
Once proclaimed, this will be the seventh bilateral amendment to the constitution to have successfully completed the amending formula. This shows that progress on modernizing and improving the Canadian federation can be made, and that our constitution continues to evolve in a range of areas.
As I have indicated on several occasions, the Government of Canada supports the amendment which provides a tangible way for us to formally recognize the contribution of Labrador and of Labradorians.
Changing the name of the province is an importance symbolic recognition of Labrador's status as a full and vital part of Canada's easternmost province, with its own unique geography, history and culture. It is about respect for Labrador and its inhabitants as essential contributors to my home province and to its rich and diverse cultural heritage.
The proposed constitutional amendment will also reflect Labradorians' understandable desire that this reality be reflected officially in the province's name.
What is at issue here is not a border, but a symbolic gesture for Newfoundland and Labrador citizens.
Section 43 of the Constitution Act, 1982 provides for an amendment to Canada's constitution in relation to any provision that applies to one or more but not all provinces. Such an amendment can be made by proclamation issued by the Governor General under the great seal of Canada where authorized by resolutions of the Senate, the House of Commons and the legislative assembly of each province to which the amendment applies.
I am joined today by the member for Labrador, and I believe by all members on both sides from the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, in asking the House to give consideration to this request.
In deferring to the member for Labrador, with whom I want to split my time, I would ask the House to give the member time to finish his remarks. I also want to note that we have consulted with members of the opposition. I specifically want to note that we have consulted with members of the Bloc Quebecois. Indeed, I have consulted with the government of Quebec on behalf of the Government of Canada, as has the government of Newfoundland and Labrador.
In anticipation, I would like to thank all members from all parties but notably colleagues from Quebec on both sides of the House for the spirit in which this resolution request is being received and I anticipate and hope the manner in which it shall be voted. This is an important day for all citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador but no more important for any than those of Labrador.
I will now cede my place to the member for Labrador who has worked very hard on the resolution.
Topic: Government Orders
Subtopic: Constitution of Canada