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Omnibus Bill: Pierre Trudeau’s vision becomes a reality

The Story

Eighteen months after first being introduced, the Omnibus Bill passes the House of Commons despite fierce opposition. In this clip from CBC Radio, John Turner describes the spirited filibuster and the deliberation surrounding the bill as one of the great debates in recent years. "When you have issues that run so profoundly into the very essence of private conscience and private morality," says Turner "then the House of Commons had to become more of a theatre than a workshop." But the fight isn't over yet as the bill, having been passed by the House, must now go to the Senate for final approval. However, the justice minister isn't worried. "I can only hope that the Senate will give the bill its best judgement," a confident Turner tells reporters, adding that he wants to review the Criminal Code on an annual basis in order to "bring it more into accord with the times."

Medium: Radio
Program: The World At Six
Broadcast Date: May 14, 1969
Guest: John Turner
Host: John O'Leary
Interviewer: Ron Collister
Duration: 2:56
Photo: National Archives of Canada (PA-117107)

Did You know?

• Aside from the Liberals and the New Democrats, 12 members of the Progressive Conservatives -- including party leader Robert Stanfield -- voted for the Omnibus Bill. The bill passed by a vote of 149-55 in the House of Commons.

• The bill did not allow women complete freedom with regards to abortion. Section 287 of the Criminal Code still held that anyone who used drugs, instruments, or manipulation of any kind with the intention of procuring a miscarriage would be guilty of endangering or killing a fetus and could go to prison for life.


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