Mr. Speaker, on April 15, during question period, I asked the government about the political involvement of Supreme Court justices in the 1982 patriation of the Constitution, which historian Frédéric Bastien addresses in his book entitled La bataille de Londres.
I would remind the House that Ottawa referred to a Supreme Court ruling in order to force a constitution on Quebec that it still refuses to sign to this day.
Mr. Bastien lays out evidence that former Supreme Court chief justice Bora Laskin provided the governments of Canada and Great Britain with privileged information about the court's deliberations on the legality of the patriation of the Constitution. The fact that the chief justice at the time was providing privileged information not only to the Government of Canada but also to the Government of Great Britain about the Supreme Court's deliberations raises a serious issue about the fundamental principles of separation of powers.
This is such a serious move that it undermines the legitimacy of the Supreme Court's ruling and, accordingly, the legitimacy of forcing the Constitution on Quebec. This is not merely a breach of elementary rules, it is a violation of the principles forming the very basis of our democratic institutions.
In our opinion, the Prime Minister must show some statesmanship, launch an independent public inquiry and commit to releasing all the unredacted documents that can shed light on these events.
Despite repeated requests from the Bloc Québécois, all members from the National Assembly of Quebec and the people of Quebec, most of whom are calling for this inquiry, it is still impossible to find out more about the circumstances surrounding this pivotal time in Canadian and Quebec history.
In light of the allegations surrounding this saga, the only thing that is clear is that the Conservative government, with the complicity of other federalist parties, continue to refuse this legitimate request by Quebec.
Under pressure, the Supreme Court did a cursory verification of its own documents, but did not find anything, it said, to confirm the point made by historian Frédéric Bastien.
Not surprisingly, any entity investigating itself in such circumstances tries to avoid the controversy that this type of revelation provokes.
The perception the Government of Quebec and Quebeckers have of the highest court in the land is heavily laced with scepticism. No less that 39% of the people polled during a recent survey said that the Supreme Court is not neutral and independent. The government must take note and act accordingly by taking its responsibilities and allowing this dark time in Quebec's history to be clarified as quickly as possible.
When will this government take the opinion of Quebeckers into account and stop encouraging the culture of secrecy and absolute confusion surrounding a significant and defining event for Canada?
The 1982 repatriation of the Canadian Constitution is a defining event in our political history. Although it may not be of interest to the Prime Minister and the Conservative government, this event is very significant. The rules of the game were changed without the consent of Quebec, which, ever since, has been trapped by a framework that was created without an acknowledgement of its refusal to be a party to repatriation. This is the position of Quebec's federalist and sovereignist parties alike, which, regardless of their political allegiance, have always refused to add Quebec's signature.
Unfortunately, my presence here proves that the crux of the matter remains unresolved. Given the facts brought to light, I believe that a national inquiry is vital to a proper understanding of the events surrounding the 1982 repatriation of the Constitution. It is clear from recent developments that Quebeckers are asking for frank and honest answers. As long as this government represents all Canadians, it must respond to this legitimate demand for an independent inquiry with full access to the documents.