The House resumed at 8 p.m.
ESTIMATES, MINISTRY OF INTERGOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS (CONTINUED)
On Vote 1102B, intergovernmental affairs program:
Mr. Ruston: Mr. Chairman, I take it we are discussing the constitution and so forth, if I am correct. I must admit I do not have any prepared text to speak on the constitution and would not want to speak too long on it even if I did.
Mr. Mancini: Say you are in favour of the Queen then.
Mr. Ruston: Probably all of us at some time or other have our own ideas of what we think we want of our country. From the way we are going about changing the constitution now, I would think it is going to be a failure. I have my own personal feeling that it is not going to work out at the rate we are going.
We have the Prime Minister of Canada who wants -- and we can well appreciate the fact -- to have brought back to Canada the right to change the constitution. I think most of us would agree to that. The problem is that the political part of it is very difficult. With all the Premiers posturing for certain --
Mr. Haggerty: Senate appointments.
Mr. Ruston: No, I would not say that. I think they are posturing in a way to help their own survival in the political field, which I guess everyone does as a politician. My concern is that we have a tendency to see these 10 Premiers come and speak to the head of Canada, the Prime Minister, with each one having his own axe to grind. I am wondering, when we are doing this, if we are not in a way undermining the constitution that we have lived with for 110 years. That concerns me a great deal.
I am really concerned about what might happen if we were to pass on to each province many of the powers that some of them are asking for. I must admit that some of the eastern provinces are not asking for more power, but we do know that Saskatchewan is, and of course Alberta very much so.
Mr. Haggerty: Saskatchewan has problems.
Mr. Ruston: In the last two or three weeks Saskatchewan had a provincial election where the Premier actually ran the election on a campaign against the Supreme Court of Canada. My goodness, I don’t think that is good for anybody in Canada.
Mr. McClellan: It wasn’t very good for your party.
Mr. Ruston: If the Supreme Court makes a decision and the Premier happens to be in an election campaign at the time, he goes up and down the roads in Saskatchewan -- certainly it looks good, I suppose, to the people of Saskatchewan to say, “our Premier is standing up for us against those terrible fellows in Ottawa, or the Supreme Court.”
Mr. Warner: No one else would.
Mr. McClellan: It is a good thing somebody stands up for the people.
Mr. Ruston: But it is the Supreme Court. The NDP has a habit of having a few things to say once in a while -- interrupting and so forth -- but they haven’t got all that much to crow about really.
Mr. Warner: Saskatchewan?
Mr. Ruston: They do have one provincial premier.
Mr. McClellan: You don’t even exist in the west.
Mr. Ruston: We don’t have many more, but we Liberals are still in the driver’s seat in Canada, that is a little more than I can say for your fellow. He has 16 seats there in Ottawa and that is nothing to be very proud of, I wouldn’t think; 16 is nothing to crow about.
Mr. McClellan: You will be lucky to have 15.
Mr. Ruston: If I were the NDP I think I would keep quiet on that and not want to admit that we don’t have very many seats.
Mr. McClellan: You will be lucky to have 15 after the next federal election.
Mr. Ruston: Pardon me, Mr. Chairman, if I go astray a little bit, but I think they are crowing when they should be sitting in the corner and keeping quiet at a time like this.
Mr. Haggerty: It is typical of the NDP, just wanting to share the wealth.
Mr. Warner: The only thing protecting the Liberals out west are the game laws.
Mr. Ruston: I have always felt, and I still feel very strongly, that in order to have a strong Canada we have to have a central government with the capacity to see that all regions of Canada can survive and can be if not affluent at least have a minimum standard of living. We must never take that right away from the central government, because that would be the breakup of the whole country. We would have 10 provinces each running its own affairs and I don’t think we can stand for that.
The main thing I want to say is that the central government must maintain enough power -- taxing power and so forth -- to see that all of Canada can survive and have at least a decent standard of living.
I recall in my maiden speech in the Legislature in 1968 one of the concerns I had at the time was that New Brunswick, I think, and I am pretty sure Quebec, had a much higher unemployment rate than the rest of Canada. I said at that time that was not good because we can do all the manufacturing we want but if another province has a low standard of living and a low income then they cannot buy our goods. I think it is part of our duties and our responsibilities as Canadians to see that people in all parts of Canada have the necessities and a decent standard of living.
Sure we would like to see improvements made in the constitution and no doubt there are some powers the federal government has that the provinces could handle. Now we have such a mishmash at times, where the federal government comes in and says we will give a grant to that municipality but we have to give the money through the province. The province says the feds are terrible sending that money in here, give it to us and we will pass it along to the municipalities and we will take credit for it. That maybe isn’t the best thing for a strong Canada.
My seatmate mentioned -- or someone nearby -- that we believe in the monarchy, and certainly I don’t think anyone would be against that. That is a tradition we have had. Traditions have a tendency to stay with us for many years and I have a tendency to think they are kind of nice to have, that type of thing. However, no one knows what’s going to happen in the next 100 years. We know what’s happened in the last 110 years. We have come up with a pretty strong country and it will remain strong as long as the central government has the power to see that the people in all parts of Canada can afford a decent standard of living.
Mr. Chairman: The member for Scarborough-Ellesmere.
Mr. Gregory: Why don’t you resign?
Mr. Warner: It would disappoint a lot of people if I did.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: You stay where you are, right over there.
Mr. Warner: I appreciate the opportunity to add a few remarks to the debate. I must say at the outset that while I always share a common concern about the type of leadership we find on the government benches, the appointment of this particular minister to a very important position in the government of Ontario is a good one. I happen to believe this particular minister will do a good job. In the area of the constitution, he has the opportunity to apply some insight into problems in Canada and provide a vision beyond our provincial borders. Ontario can be guilty of a lot of things, but one of the things of which we traditionally have been guilty is having a narrow view, of being very parochial within the framework of Canada. If the government members wish to be completely honest about the situation, they would say that Ontario has gained the most out of Confederation. But not all of Ontario; it has been primarily the urban areas --
Mr. Hodgson: That is because you have had good government for 30 years.
Mr. McClellan: It is despite that.
Mr. Warner: -- in the golden horseshoe which have gained. Many parts of northern Ontario, and certainly eastern Ontario have suffered under Confederation, much the same as eastern Canada and the Prairies. There are quite a few issues which have been brought to the attention of the Prime Minister by the various Premiers at the conference, and whether it’s a question of resource taxation, a question of communication and the control over cable TV, or whether it’s representation by region, there are some very serious matters plaguing our constitution.
When our constitution was drafted, it answered some of the questions of Ontario and Quebec and two maritime provinces. But it didn’t address itself to the areas out west, and in a sense didn’t take into account some of the serious problems of the Maritimes. The minister may recall that his own federal leader, Mr. Clark, made some comments the other day that he felt the fisheries should be treated in the same way that oil and iron ore are treated in Ontario, that it is a natural resource coming under the same kind of treatment as other natural resources in Canada.
It’s a school of thought and it’s worth pursuing. What I would like to impart to the minister is my very deep concern that these are serious matters which affect the constitution of this country, affect the very makeup of this country, and whether or not we are going to be able to progress any further than we have is something which I don’t think should simply go forward from this province via one minister or through the cabinet alone.
The matter warrants the attention of all members of the assembly and I would hope the minister could ensure that we have a structured debate at some point in this House so that each party, and perhaps each member, has an opportunity to put forward his ideas on representation. For example, what do we do about the Senate? Should the Senate be more than a retirement home for those who are able to raise large sums of money for the Liberal Party? Could it be a constructive place?
Mr. Kerrio: That sure leaves you guys out.
Mr. Warner: The Senate perhaps could play a useful role in Canadian politics. It doesn’t now, but perhaps it could. On the other hand, maybe the answer to the question is to have a House of the Provinces where there is provincial representation. How do we answer the perennial question that comes up from the maritime provinces of their being under-represented in the federal House, and for that matter what about the voice of the west which was always lost on the question of freight rates? There is no question that the western provinces were on the losing end of the freight rates problem.
I would hope the minister would entertain, in a debate form, suggestions from all members of the assembly so that we could construct the kind of response that is needed in a very responsible way to help fashion a better constitution. The minister fully understands that this province has gained the most out of Confederation and that other provinces are struggling. Traditionally, unemployment rates are higher in the Maritimes than they are in Ontario.
The scene has shifted out west obviously, where now Saskatchewan in particular has a lower unemployment rate than Ontario, and where the people are benefiting from the resources instead of the multinationals. That is a legacy of failure that we have to contend with in this House, and not all of it is going to be answered by having a better constitution but we have to answer the problems of resources.
I guess members in this assembly, and certainly the public in Ontario, became concerned when the government of Alberta was reaping high benefits from their oil at the expense of us down here. That suddenly brought to the fore the question of resources. But the question of resources had been there for a long time and was never really answered; it was never really dealt with in a way which was agreeable to all 10 provinces.
We have had a struggle for some time on behalf of some of the smaller provinces for equal representation and for getting what they claim to be their just rewards; but only when a PQ government was elected in Quebec and began talking about the same things that other provinces have talked about for some time did the government here in Ontario become terribly interested, only then did the argument become more serious for government members, and for most Canadians I suppose.
Suddenly the issues which had been there for the best part of 100 years were focused in Quebec and focused in a very sharp way. I don’t suppose that the problem of communications, who has jurisdiction over cable TV, is something that has been resolved to the satisfaction of everyone, yet obviously it needs to be discussed.
I simply reiterate that when the minister has an opportunity to respond I would like to know if we will have the chance in this assembly to present constructive ideas. Secondly, in any submissions which he is going to make to a first ministers’ conference or any other government, will he pledge to table those documents in advance so that all members of the assembly will know what he is going to be presenting on behalf of the people of Ontario?
My colleague the member for Oshawa (Mr. Breaugh) made the point prior to the supper break that in many ways the constitutional issue is a non-partisan one. It is very much a political issue, but it is a non-partisan one. It would be our wish that the government would be willing to take advice from all members of the assembly, regardless of party, in trying to put together the absolutely best answers which Ontario has on the very serious question of the nature of our constitution.
I am not quite so complacent as the member for Essex North (Mr. Ruston) about the future of our country and of Confederation. Confederation is in danger, and it is not just Quebec that is crying out for some changes, some basic structural changes. There are other provinces, there are other people; to ignore those cries is serious.
There have been flaws in our constitution from the beginning, and after 111 years they haven’t been answered. We have the people in our country who can provide answers. It will sound very partisan in a way, I suppose, but I must admit quite freely that I have been encouraged by the foresight I have seen evidenced by the Premier of Saskatchewan.
Mr. Mancini: They’ll be mailing Hansard to Saskatchewan on all this.
Mr. Kerrio: Those guys spend more time in Saskatchewan than they do in Ontario.
Mr. Warner: It seems to me that Premier, above all other Premiers in this country, has spoken openly and often about the future of this country and constructive things that could be done to create a better country.
Mr. Ashe: Tell us about the Liberals in Saskatchewan.
Mr. Kerrio: We’re talking about the constitution.
Mr. Mancini: When’s your next trip to Europe?
Mr. Warner: For the benefit of the member for Durham West (Mr. Ashe), it has been pointed out to our Liberal friends this evening that the only thing protecting the Liberals in Saskatchewan are the game laws.
Mr. Gaunt: That’s what Diefenbaker used to say.
Mr Kerrio: You can have Saskatchewan. You’d better worry about Ontario -- never mind Saskatchewan.
Mr. Warner: We require people with foresight about amending our constitution and helping to solve some of the basic problems which plague this country. I think some of those people occupy chairs on both sides of this House. I happen to believe that on occasion, when we can put aside some of the political biases, we can tackle the problem of the constitution in a very constructive way and get some very good ideas from the minister who has been newly appointed, from the new Minister of Labour (Mr. Elgie), from the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) and from most of the members for the 125 ridings in Ontario. But it’s not going to be done unless the minister obligates himself, first, to having a debate; second, to ensuring that the ideas that are put forward are going to be tested in the chamber; and, third, to provide us with copies in advance of whatever submissions are going to be made to the rest of the Premiers in Canada so that all of us can share in what I hope is a constructive exercise in creating a better Canada in the future and not simply ignoring the problems and thinking that somehow they’re going to go away, as I took from some of the remarks of the member for Essex North.
Mr. Mancini: Oh, what nonsense.
Mr. Warner: All is not right in Ottawa. We have got to apply ourselves to the task. In a way I think we have made a start by the appointment of this minister. It’s to be hoped that we can report progress in the weeks and months to come.
Mr. Mancini: Mr. Chairman, I’m pleased to be here this evening to make my contribution to the debate on the new Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs. If our friend the former Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) had resigned three years ago --
Mr. Hodgson: You might not have been here, Remo, if he had resigned.
Mr. Mancini: -- before the election of the Parti Quebecois in the province of Quebec, this ministry probably would not be called the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs; it would be called the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. That just shows how quickly things have changed in Canada over the past two or three years.
While all of us in the Legislature and all of us outside the Legislature knew there were many problems in our country just below the surface that were ready to burst out, nothing brought it home as quickly and as severely as the election of the government in Quebec. Now that has happened, I think most people feel the debate that it is causing is good for Canada.
I believe the debate that that government is causing throughout the country is good for Canada. I think it puts all the issues on the table for every region throughout our country.
I haven’t had the opportunity to travel in Canada as much as I would have liked, but I have been to different parts of the country. I did live in the Halifax area for a year and I saw at first hand some of the economic disparities which belie our country. I firmly believe that none of those economic disparities are going to be helped in any way whatsoever, nor are they going to be improved, by weakening the federal government. We’re not going to improve the situation in the province of New Brunswick if we beat down the federal government.
It doesn’t really matter which particular party would be in power at the time. If they are in a weak position they certainly cannot come to the province of Ontario, whose bureaucracy now is large and whose budget is $14.5 billion, and say to them they need more equalization grants and they need more from the province of Ontario to make Canada stronger.
We won’t be able to go to the province of Alberta and ask Mr. Lougheed for more from the province of Alberta to ease the economic disparity in our country. Anyone who would be so narrow as to feel that the Prime Minister cannot speak for the country, no matter which party he belongs to, is not really a true Canadian. We cannot have 11 premiers in this country and hope to survive.
One of the problems I feel has been created over a period of time, and any party that wants to be the government in Ottawa is possibly going to have to take a new approach to this matter. Many of the provincial governments for their own well-being, so that they can get re-elected and now that many of them can afford it, go into tremendous advertising programs. Just to give an example, on any little bit of roadwork the Ministry of Transportation and Communications does, as you drive down the highway you see a nice blue and white sign which says “Another highway project,” and then you see the names. I’m not being critical. I just want to give an example. You see this type of thing, “Another highway project” with the name of the minister and the name of the Premier on it.
We know why that’s done. They’re trying to build allegiance to that particular party. At the same time, while you’re doing that you’re building yourself support, whether you know it or not, for the time when you want to tackle the federal government. That’s what I was trying to relate to when I mentioned earlier that it’s very difficult for the federal government to deal with the provinces now that they have large bureaucracies and now that they have large budgets. But any short-term advantage the provinces believe they will receive from beating down the federal government will be just that, it’ll be short-term.
There is no way this country can prosper in five regions or in eight provinces, or in any other way that some people want to split it up or feel that it should be run. I feel very strongly about the delineation of powers between the federal government and the provinces. If there’s one thing I believe should be made clearer to the average taxpayer in our country it’s who is responsible for what.
I know it’s very difficult for the federal government to tax everyone and turn over all the money to the provinces without strings attached and say: “Go and do a job in housing; go do a job in natural resources; go do a job with the Ministry of the Environment.” I know they don’t get any political points for that and the provinces are the ones that line up to reap all the political benefits.
But I sense a strong feeling with the taxpayers that they want to know who is responsible for what. Maybe we need to change our tax system so that the provinces can collect more money on their own and take less from the federal government. Maybe that’s the type of system we need. But how does the average taxpayer know exactly where the political responsibility lies when 60 per cent of a project is provincial and 30 per cent is federal and 10 per cent is from the area municipality?
I know that many people want to use this type of system for political points, taking the points when things are going well and shifting the responsibility on the other two partners when things are not. But I want to urge our Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells) to do the best he can so that these types of complex ministries and different projects are the responsibility of one government. I’m really anxious to hear from our Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs as to what he thinks of this idea.
I’d like to see the province responsible for all of the parks in Ontario. I don’t think we need federal parks in Ontario. I think our government could afford all the parks that our people need. I don’t think we need the federal government doing a lot of these things in this province, but at the same time we do need them for some things and their areas of responsibility should be very clear.
I hope when the minister makes his remarks he’ll address himself to that. I hope before he goes up to Ottawa in future for these provincial-federal meetings he will let the House know in advance -- I know he can’t let us know all the things, but some of the things he’s concerned about and some of the things he’s going to raise on behalf of this province.
I don’t necessarily agree that the responsibility the federal government has in Ontario should be the same set of responsibilities they have in the eastern provinces, or Quebec or British Columbia. This provincial government knows what it can do well and we know what the federal government should be doing, but the situation might be different in Quebec or British Columbia. Their priorities may be different. So basically I would like to know from the minister how he feels about the clear delineation of powers and what he feels Ontario should have as its own and where he feels the federal government should have sole responsibility?
I guess we can’t talk about intergovernmental affairs and our Confederation without mentioning the monarchy. I really think it’s a non-issue. I don’t think the monarchy is going to be affected at all in the new constitution. I think some of the credit must go to the present Queen. She has been a very well-liked lady and I don’t think we could have asked for a better person in that position in this particular time.
Concerning the Senate -- I was just about to call it the House of Federation but I guess it hasn’t been changed yet -- I think the problem is not the way it’s chosen; we all know it’s chosen along political lines, but we also know the provinces make many appointments along political lines, so I really don’t think the problem is the way the appointments are made. I think the problem with the Senate is that they are not given enough high-profile jobs to do. We have some very capable people in the Senate and their talents can be used.
All we need to do is give them certain areas to study and ask them to report on these politically sensitive areas. This will give the Senate a higher profile and people in the country will be able to see that the Senate does do certain things. They do study certain areas which need to be studied and they do report to the members of Parliament in the House of Commons.
I don’t think it will mean a darn to change the name of the Senate to the House of Federation and allow the provinces to make a few more political appointments. Instead of just being able to appoint the chairman of the liquor licence board, or the chairman of the election expenses, they will be able to appoint some of their own party hacks to the Senate. I don’t think that is the answer.
Mr. Haggerty: Or the bagmen or something like that.
Mr. Mancini: I don’t think a change of name is the answer. Give these people a job to do or abolish the House altogether.
Mr. Haggerty: They tell me Goodman runs the show over there anyway.
Mr. Mancini: If we are going to give these people appointments and pay them out of the taxpayer’s purse, give them a job to do or just abolish it.
Mr. Warner: Put them to work.
Mr. Mancini: I am sure many of the lawyers in the Legislature will want to comment on the matters concerning the Supreme Court. There seem to be many provinces that think if they make appointments to the Supreme Court, their regional areas will be represented.
I am totally against the philosophy that if you appoint people from different regions to the Senate and the Supreme Court that somehow their areas will be represented. Let’s get back to the thinking that your member of Parliament represents your area. How can an appointed judge speak for the rank and file in an area? How can a person appointed to the Senate say he is going to give representation for eastern Canada if he is from eastern Canada, or for Ontario if he is from Ontario? This is the role of the member of Parliament and to try to tell people differently is fooling the public.
Those are just a few of my concerns and a few of my thoughts concerning all the talk on the constitution. I was pleased to have this opportunity. I hope our minister takes all the conciliatory skills he is purported to have to the federal-provincial meetings and hopefully the House will be kept well informed.
Mr. Roy: I am pleased to participate in the debate on this new ministry. I happened to be present the day after the minister was appointed, when he came to Ottawa and spoke very eloquently to the group involved with French-language education across Canada. I expressed to the minister at that time, and my expression to him was reflected subsequently in his speech to the members which was well received, that he has expressed views, opinions, policies and personal reflections which make him a minister who well represents the province and who can make a contribution. He has a perception of what this country is all about, not only Ontario but all of Canada. He can draw from his perceptions and express it in such a way that people outside the borders of Ontario can well understand. In these very difficult times, Ontario has a primary role to play in this whole debate on national unity, revision of the constitution and so on.
In my opening remarks, I must say that the establishment of this ministry makes sense. If it’s going to be called the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs -- I would have preferred to call it the Ministry of Federal-provincial Relations -- then we should break up the ministry on that level. I think that the breakup of this large ministry, which was originally the personal -- we have a French word for it called fief -- domain of Darcy McKeough, and the establishment of new ministries was not done in the most logical form. The government should have proceeded in doing this in a more cohesive and logical way. But, if I may say with a certain amount of kindness, it wouldn’t be the first time since I’ve been here since 1971 that the establishment of ministries, or the breakup of other ministries hasn’t gone forth in a logical fashion.
Because of the era we’re living in, because of the priorities we’re facing, because of the disputes and the friction presently existing in the country and because of the importance of the relations between not only provinces but the federal government and the provinces, and possibly even this province and other governments outside of the federal government in international affairs and so on, I think that job in itself would provide sufficient work and sufficient challenge for one minister without his being involved in municipal affairs.
If I may put it the other way, I think the municipal affairs question, the relationship with this province and municipalities across the province, is of sufficient importance and of sufficient priority, again because of the importance of the services in the type of community which is moving more and more into an urban society, warrants --
Mr. C. Taylor: You are here on Monday evening. That’s important.
Mr. Roy: Does someone have a question? Have you got a question again? Are you being paid by the hour or by the question?
Hon. Mr. Elgie: He’s not paid at all.
Mr. G. Taylor: I’m just here to do my work. I’m surprised to see you here on Monday evening.
Mr. Roy: I really feel municipal affairs is something that warrants and merits the full-time work of one minister. I would have hoped that the division would have been on that basis. I’m told, and maybe the minister can correct me, that even in the field of economics, of federal-provincial exchanges of funds and moneys, that the secretariat in charge of establishing the equations and the formula is still with the Treasurer of the province and is not with this minister.
I really see some difficulty on the part of this minister in discussing federal-provincial relations when he doesn’t know what bucks are involved with one program or another program. I see a lack of logic and cohesion in the division that’s been made of the ministry.
I say to the minister and through the minister to the Premier, if he can accept our advice, which is something he’s very seldom done, and I say very kindly he should have accepted our advice to set up a ministry of municipal affairs. I suspect he’s thinking along that line anyway. I suspect that that may be the hook that’s going to keep the member for Ottawa West (Mr. Bennett) around here. Surely to God when he made his speech and said he wasn’t running for mayor of Ottawa, there was more involved than just the Planning Act. That’s what he said to us. I didn’t believe that for a minute. He is a much better bargainer than that.
I want to say to the minister and to the Premier that because of the importance of a revision on the constitution, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs should give his full-time attention to federal-provincial relations, to interprovincial relations and then to relations possibly with other countries. I think there is sufficient there.
If you can keep a minister busy as Provincial Secretary for Social Development, or in Resources Development, or Correctional Services for that matter -- all you are looking after is a number of buildings -- if you can keep ministers busy doing that, surely we can keep this minister busy taking care of the aspects that I mentioned, apart from the fact that it would make it a lot easier. You see, the critics in the Liberal Party are set up on this cohesive and logical basis, and it makes it difficult for us, because by colleagues --
Mr. G. Taylor: You’ve got no versatility, is that what you’re admitting?
Mr. Roy: Mr. Chairman, the member who just spoke certainly has versatility. He moved from one bench to the next and kept asking the same questions.
Mr. Pope: At least he is here.
Mr. G. Taylor: I figured if I repeated it enough you’d understand the answer as well.
Mr. Roy: Mr. Chairman, I do say in seriousness that I think my suggestions are more logical than the present division and the present setup that is made for -- as he calls it -- the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs.
Having said this, I want to talk about some of the aspects which I think will certainly be a priority with this ministry, and which are certainly something that we on this side of the House are concerned about. I think some of my colleagues have mentioned this in their comments.
I attended the opening day of the federal-provincial conference last week and I must say, I don’t know if the minister had anything to do with letting me in the place, they didn’t want to let me in without the proper badge and all of this, even although the meeting was taking place in my riding. Talk about the abuse you get when you are a nobody. I sound like Rodney Dangerfield.
Anyway, I would say to the minister, if he was involved, I appreciated going in. I watched the debate, if you could call it that, that took place on Monday; on the following two days I did not attend. I must say, after three days of this, if you are a Canadian and you really believe in this country, you have to be somewhat disappointed with the results of that conference.
I look, Mr. Chairman, and I consider that in this country, celebrating its 111th year, not only do we not have our constitution here, but we haven’t even agreed to a formula to amend the constitution. It really makes me wonder after all these years if we’re all part of the same country that we can’t even agree on something as basic and as fundamental as that.
I don’t want to sound unduly pessimistic but I look at what goes on in the world and I see, for instance, in Spain, where the Franco regime ended something like two or three years ago, this week or next month they will be voting on a new constitution -- in Spain. God knows they have got internal problems in Spain and a lot of division, but there they have it in a matter of two or three years.
I see situations where the Israelis and the Arabs are in the process of signing a peace agreement after fighting -- you know something about this, Mr. Chairman -- for thousands of years. If they can sit down and agree to something, surely to God here in Canada we might come to some conclusion after 111 years.
I say with a certain amount of cynicism that I was not unduly enthralled by the performance of the Premiers at this conference. I say with all candour that there is a feeling that the Prime Minister is somewhat of a lame duck. There is a feeling on the part of the Premiers that they are certainly not going to give him a hand or to give him too many aces to go and fight the next election. But surely to God there must be a realization that this procrastination, that this narrow parochialism that is involved with, “I think Alberta should get this,” and when I hear Sterling Lyon and his comments I really wonder at the lack of perception.
The only guy who is happy and smiling about all this is Levesque. The very next day I happened to watch Levesque on Quebec television -- they have TV in their chamber now, by the way, and they have gone first-class there as well. They don’t have cameras up in the gallery, as we have here; the picture is in focus and in living colour.
The very next day, in the National Assembly Levesque was the first one to point out that we were again at another conference after all these years and we can’t agree on anything. He said nobody can agree on anything. “That is what I am talking about. When I talk about independence, I am talking about a stale process which keeps repeating itself,” he said in a way that only Levesque can put it forth.
In fact, we play right into his hands. Having made these comments -- and I am not unduly critical of the role played by the province of Ontario because, in fairness, Ontario’s approach may be the most magnanimous of all the provinces, apart from Prince Edward Island -- and they don’t matter all that much, I say with great deference to my fellow Canadians in that province.
Mr. Johnson: Shame.
Mr. Roy: Ontario’s approach was one of magnanimity, and I think the Premier was trying to play the role played by the former Premier, John Robarts, at conferences. After all, he has the experience, he is going grey now and the whole bit. I won’t say he is trying to play the role of the paternal godfather, but he is trying to play the role of one who has seen these before; and surely he has, because he has attended many of the federal-provincial conferences.
Ontario’s role, by and large, was a positive one at the conference. I am not particularly satisfied with Ontario’s role in other fields, but at the conference itself, if you compare the aggressive approach taken -- I can’t get over Premier Lyon; I am pleased that the socialists were kicked out of Manitoba, but the Manitobans surely don’t deserve a fellow like Sterling Lyon. No matter that they voted socialist for a number of years, they surely don’t deserve someone like that. I can say that with no qualms.
Mr. Swart: Just kicked out, not routed like the Liberals were in Saskatchewan.
Mr. Roy: I want to say to my colleague who is talking about Saskatchewan that one of his colleagues was talking about the role played by the Premier of Saskatchewan. He was right: The Premier of Saskatchewan has intelligence, he has candour and he has experience. He is somewhat cocky now after this latest election -- and thank God for the Supreme Court of Canada; it gave him his issue on a silver platter, and that helped him through the election.
Mr. Swart: That and the Liberals got him in.
Mr. Roy: What surprised me about the Premier of a so-called social democratic party -- and possibly my friend has an answer for this -- was why the Premier of Saskatchewan would reject entrenching civil rights into the constitution. Can my friend understand that? A Premier who believes in social democracy and who spent last weekend making speeches to the national social democratic movement around the world --
Hon. Mr. Wells: Encouraging revolutionaries.
Mr. Roy: -- he refused to entrench civil rights in the constitution. I can’t understand that.
My friend is going to have to talk to his colleague, because surely one who believes in civil rights -- and, God knows, the social democrats have been saying that here regularly, and we have heard them say that on many occasions on other platforms --
Mr. Swart: Saskatchewan was the first to have them.
Mr. Roy: I was really disappointed, and I wish my friend would take it up with his colleague. I would really like to know why he would not agree to entrench these rights within the constitution.
Mr. Epp: Albert, five minutes with Mel and he’ll change his mind; he’ll be with you.
Mr. Roy: I hope so. I really hope so. I would go with him to Saskatchewan, because people from Saskatchewan by and large are somewhat perceptive and open-minded. My friend knows that.
Mr. Swart: That’s for sure.
Mr. Roy: It surprised me somewhat.
Mr. Swart: They’re objective too.
Mr. Roy: Getting back to the conference itself, as a Canadian I must express some disappointment. As I said before, I appreciate that Trudeau has got problems and I appreciate there have been times when he has made this question of national unity a pretty good issue. I appreciate that the Premiers of other provinces, especially those of stripes that are not Liberal, which is most of them, aren’t going to do him any favours for the impending election --
Mr. Swart: That’s not a stripe, that’s a spear.
Mr. Roy: -- but some things are more important than who wins or loses the next federal election, some things are more important than who wins or loses the next provincial election, in whatever province. I hear, for instance, the Premier of Alberta keeps hunting all over the place for an issue before he wants to call an election on royalties. There are only about three or four seats he doesn’t have in that province. I guess he wants them.
Mr. Eakins: First royalty, now royalties.
Mr. Roy: The sad part is they are playing into the hands of Levesque. Those who think it doesn’t matter a damn what happens on the constitution for the purposes of a referendum are sorely misled. Just last night I was watching Fisher on a program called Insight. It’s on CTV in Ottawa at 11:30. He had on three newspaper people from Quebec and they were talking about exactly that. I think Trudeau was trying to get that point across, if people think it doesn’t matter what we do with the constitution for the purposes of a referendum, they are sorely mistaken.
I perceive a sort of reactionary approach on the part of certain Premiers. You get Premiers who say, “We want our rights in relation to royalties, mineral rights and so on, and then we will bargain for civil rights and for linguistic rights.” It makes one sad to think things that are basically fundamental for the survival of this country should be bargained off -- who has rights in relation to transportation or who has the right to the potash or to the oil in Alberta.
Mr. Wildman: Potash is in Saskatchewan.
Mr. Roy: It’s of concern to me and I would hope that because of Ontario’s proximity and because of the special perception the minister has about this problem, that somehow in the conferences continuing to take place, this point will be brought home to his colleagues in other provinces.
I am not prepared to say that the other Premiers speak for English Canada. Ontario has an important role to play. I thought the Premier may have been just too magnanimous. He should have taken a sterner position with his colleagues from western Canada because Ontario does speak for English Canada, and I don’t think we can let Lyons, or Lougheed or the new Premier of Nova Scotia say that they speak for English Canada. We have something to say here and it’s time the Premier of Ontario took a more aggressive approach.
I was watching Lougheed on Question Period on CTV on Sunday afternoon and he was coming along with his usual cry about transportation rates, and if they have got oil in the ground it is a depleting resource and they want to get world prices, and they don’t want the feds to be interfering with the price of oil, and they want to be able to impose the royalties that they want, and so on. Something that is not brought forward and emphasized enough is that some concessions have to be made by some of the rich provinces like Alberta. He said, “We have nothing against equalization payments from one province to the next as long as we get our mitts on the royalties of oil and gas in the province.”
Ontario has a short lesson in history to give to the Premier of Alberta. When Alberta couldn’t sell its oil and gas, it received protected markets, and we in eastern Canada and at least in Ontario were the ones to give it these markets at the time Alberta couldn’t sell it and couldn’t get it out of the ground. They seem to have a short memory for some of these aspects in some of the ether provinces.
When we are discussing the future of the country, when we are discussing some of the things that we believe Canada should be or what we subscribe to, it is important that we shouldn’t always get caught up with the somewhat reactionary and aggressive approach taken by some of the western Premiers at this time.
Another thing which has concerned me, and I would like to get the minister’s view on it, is that my colleagues in the House are aware that the Parti Quebecois tried to get elected in two elections on the platform of independence and did not succeed. Claude Morin came into the picture and said, “Look, we’ve got to be smart about this. What we are going to do is first of all attain power and then proceed in steps to independence.” At the last election, in 1976, they said, “Elect us. We are going to be good government and we are going to have a referendum on independence.”
Now they have gone a step further. The steps towards independence are getting longer. There is a realization that Quebeckers are not prepared to make that one jump in such a sudden move, that there is still great attachment to this country, and that there is a lot of uneasiness about the altruistic promises of the Parti Quebecois. Now the latest we have heard is that the referendum apparently is going to be based, not on independence but on what they call “sovereignty association.” But basically it is going to be on association rather than sovereignty.
If I recall what Levesque said, he said, “What happens if you can’t negotiate? Does that mean we separate? No, it sounds as though we are going to have another referendum on sovereignty.” So, basically, their position is changing. They are coming back toward the centre.
What has concerned me of late, and I would like to hear the Premier of the province or this minister speak out on it, is that I heard the other day that Joe Clark made a statement -- the leader, the Prime Minister-to-be, if we are to listen to the pollsters and to Maureen and others. My God, just to look at his posture at the federal-provincial conference was something to behold -- the Prime Minister-to-be. There he was seated -- all the plebeians, all the vassals were seated in other places around this conference, but Joe somehow had managed to make it on to some sort of pedestal; he had a bird’s-eye view. He was sitting there with Flora MacDonald.
And the droning that went on at this conference. Some Premiers are eloquent, but by and large it is not something that is going to keep you glued to your chair for three hours. But Joe sat there, because the cameras were there, the photographers were there, for three hours he put up with this. He would smile, he would react when the cameras were on -- the whole bit. I thought to myself, “Boy, he must want the job pretty badly to be able to take this for three hours.”
But his comment that he would be prepared to negotiate with the government of Quebec if they wanted a referendum, doesn’t that somewhat pull the rug from under the position taken by Ontario? Has anybody heard Ontario reject that particular commitment?
I thought the Premier said at some time -- and I heard this quite some time ago and I hope the position hasn’t changed -- that the province of Ontario is not prepared to negotiate. If Quebec goes its way to independence, Ontario is not prepared to negotiate what Levesque calls “sovereignty association” or whatever. In other words, Quebec cannot take Ontario for granted on negotiations for economic associations with Ontario.
To me that sounds much different from what Joe Clark was talking about, the leader of the official opposition in Ottawa. I want to say to the minister -- and I think it should be made very clear -- that no encouragement should be given to the Parti Quebecois to proceed with their option. Certainly no encouragement should be given by the leader of the official opposition in Ottawa.
Mr. Bradley: The Kingston manifesto.
Mr. Roy: I think it’s important that Ontario and the Premier make their position clear, that we don’t agree with the stand taken by the leader of the official opposition in Ottawa, no matter who he or she may be. They should make it very clear that the Parti Quebecois is not going to get any encourage- merit from this province.
That brings me to my next point: the Parti Quebecois, having made its decision to fight the referendum on sovereignty association -- for all intents and purposes apparently the decision has been made -- it should be made very clear that Ontario is always prepared to negotiate with its sister provinces, but not with a party whose main objective is independence. We should make that very clear.
I think we should make it very clear that sure, we’re prepared to negotiate. For instance, we’d be prepared to negotiate with people like Claude Ryan, who has a different perception of what Canada is about, but whose option and whose philosophy resides in federalism, in association with the rest of the country. That’s his option. That type of people would need encouragement at the time of referendum.
Whatever Ontario does, it’s always the most important. I think Quebeckers don’t care too much what is said in British Columbia or what is said in Manitoba or even what is said in Newfoundland. But they do care what is said in Ontario because this is where Confederation started. This is where the original association took place. This is where the exchanges have taken place for all these years. We’re sister provinces, so what Ontario does and the leadership Ontario gives is important.
I would encourage this minister to take the initiative and make that point very clear -- that we in Ontario are not prepared to negotiate with the party whose philosophy is based on independence. We’re prepared to negotiate with a party and with a government in Quebec who still believe in the country as a whole.
It comes back to my point that interprovincial relations should be a full-time occupation of one minister. I say this because of the friction we’re seeing in the Ottawa area. We’re talking about a bill -- we’ll be discussing it further tomorrow -- which is retaliation for what Quebec does, a bill which is to all of us here something that we feel very uncertain about, a bill which establishes barriers to a country which should have no barriers. But we’re forced into it.
I think this will require imagination and leadership on the part of this ministry so that we somehow work our way into reducing barriers and not creating them. In other words, in putting out the fires instead of stimulating the fires. I think this will require the full-time occupation of a minister.
I read tonight in the press where apparently the Quebec Federation of Labour is saying, “Let’s get down and negotiate. We can’t afford to see this Ontario legislation come forward.” Well, we’re making our point. If the Quebec Federation of Labour starts reacting in that fashion, somehow they’re going to get to the Parti Quebecois. I think we are moving in the right direction.
I really think we’re going to get more of this type of friction, because it plays into the option of independence again. The more friction there is, the more English-speaking Canada gets annoyed about something and the more it rejects something or the greater the polarization of the country, the more Rene Levesque goes back to Quebec and says, “We should be on our own; we should be operating ourselves.”
I say this minister will certainly receive the full encouragement of this party if leadership is taken in this field. I say to him that he’ll get our full support. One of the things that is of great concern to me is that the role to be played by the Premier of this province in this whole debate is extremely important. I’m not satisfied that the Premier of Ontario has taken or has played the role that should be played in these very difficult times. I say this sometimes more out of sadness than anger.
One of the things that’s going to be important and is important for the Premier of Ontario is that he have credibility in the province of Quebec -- something that John Robarts had. There are times when I wonder. His decision on Bill 89, for instance, is not something that is going to give him credibility in that province. I say to you very candidly -- and it makes me sad that it’s that way -- that no matter how many steps we’ve taken here or how much progress we’ve made, that is forgotten when a negative step is taken, as happened with Bill 89.
I think it’s important that what we do in Ontario is not limited only to the borders of Ontario. There are times when it has national implications. It certainly has implications for our sister province of Quebec. The Premier should keep this in mind. His credibility as leader of the government of Ontario is very important.
I say this because in his comments at the opening of the federal-provincial conference he talked about entrenching linguistic rights in the constitution. But then he went on to say at one point that he felt certain rights should be within the scope of provincial jurisdiction. If he feels that way, let him accept his responsibility in Ontario.
I don’t make these comments without knowing as well that your deputy minister is Mr. Stevenson, who’s sitting in front of you. He’s got a background in this. And you, having been Minister of Education, have worked in that field as well. I say to you I think you’re well respected in the Franco-Ontarian community, but I think there are times when your respect and your credibility are undermined by the actions of your leader. I say this very sincerely. But I think we can continue and, if you have the Franco-Ontarian community on your side, they can be great allies in the debate when we’re talking about what Canada could and should be.
In closing, I say that the minister has a difficult task ahead. It’s a tremendous challenge in these times. Should he proceed with vigour and the perception that he’s demonstrated in the past, he’ll get our full support on this side.
Mr. Wildman: I rise to speak in this debate because I see this ministry and the creation of this ministry as a very important step by this government in the constitutional debate that is now being carried on in this country. We support the creation of this ministry simply because we feel that in the constitutional crisis that Canada faces today Ontario should be playing a major role and a leading role in the development of a new consensus for this country.
If we think in political terms, we face a very serious situation today in that if we look at the Canadian political scene there is no one national party in this country. That’s a very serious situation, no matter what our partisan strife is in this House, in terms of the future of this nation.
If we look at the various political parties and at their support across the country, the Liberal Party’s support is largely centred in Quebec. The Conservative Party has its support largely in English Canada. The NDP, on the national scene of course --
Mr. Kerrio: As a national group they haven’t got any support at all.
Mr. Wildman: -- is largely a third party. It has its support in English Canada and is seen as an English-Canadian party in this country as well, although largely a western Canadian party albeit that may be changing in the Maritimes. However, I enter this debate as a serious member of this House who has got some serious concerns about the future of this country, and not in a partisan way at all.
I think the reason we have this situation of a number of political parties in this country that cannot gain support across the country, that cannot gain support among the various ethnic groups in this country -- whether they be francophone or anglophone, whether they be regional groups such as northerners, southerners, westerners, maritimers, Quebeckers and so on -- is because no one party in this country has been able to speak to the regional concerns, the ethnic concerns of all of the citizens of our country.
This is a tremendously dangerous situation for us and for the future of this country of Canada. I don’t pretend to have any solutions, but I think it is imperative that the Ontario government recognize its leading role as a spokesman for the English community in this country in a responsible role in debating the constitutional issues that face it.
Frankly, I’m happy to see this minister given this particular function. I think I’ve expressed that in correspondence with the minister, that I look to him to be able to exercise some influence in this government to deal with the very pressing issues we face for the future of this country.
I agree with and I did support, as did our party, the stance of this minister when he was Minister of Education in the Essex county situation. I was disturbed to see certain members of the House, because of regional issues and regional problems, not support the stance taken by the minister and the Ministry of Education at the time of the dispute over the French-language school for that area. But frankly I’m not surprised that certain members did not support that stance, not because of any cynical political position but simply because of the fact they were speaking to the concerns of their own constituents; very sincere and deeply felt concerns about the future of their own areas, their concept of the country and where they thought the provincial government should be going in serving those concerns.
I think we face today a very serious situation in that we face not just an ethnic dispute between English and French Canadians but a problem where various regions of this country just do not have the same kind of concept of the country at all that other regions have. We can even talk about Ontario, just in terms of this province, and we can see the differences, the deep regional disputes and regional concerns we have that divide us rather than unite us.
Perhaps one of the reasons for this political division is the fact that no party, or one political group, has been able to speak to the concerns of the various regions of this province much less of the country. We have a situation now where we have, even in Ontario, no one party with real support throughout the province. We have a situation where the New Democratic Party and the Conservative Party are very strong in northern Ontario; the New Democratic Party and the Conservative Party are strong in Metro; the New Democrats do not have very much strength in southwestern Ontario, other than Windsor --
Mr. Kerrio: Not in the peninsula either.
Mr. Wildman: -- the Liberals are very strong in southwestern Ontario; the New Democrats have some seats and the Conservatives have seats in eastern Ontario.
Mr. Riddell: The farmers know how to vote.
Mr. Wildman: The fact of the matter is, if we can’t even speak to the concerns of the whole of this province, how do we expect to speak to the concerns of this whole country? And we haven’t been able to do it -- not one of us -- in this House.
My friends may react and say, “Farmers know how to vote,” “Northern Ontario can get a $10 licence fee,” or whatever. But if we want to be honest with one another in this House, not one of the parties has been able to speak to the concerns of all the citizens of this province. On the national scene, that is certainly true; and the recent federal by-elections have further underscored that problem.
If we are going to be responsible in this national debate, we have to express our sincere desire for the survival of this country. If that involves some kind of altruistic desire to serve the needs of others -- I suppose even more than our own needs -- then we are going to have to be able to make that kind of commitment.
I wonder, though, whether this particular provincial government -- despite what I think is a genuine concern for francophone rights in this province -- is willing to be honest and forthright and to come out and say publicly that it is willing to guarantee the rights of francophone citizens in this province; to make it known to the rest of the country, not only Quebec, but also to the western provinces and the maritime provinces, many of whom have been recalcitrant in this matter; and to be able to show that we are going to serve the citizens of this province, whether they be anglophone or francophone, equally.
I don’t think this government has that kind of commitment. If the minister can make that kind of commitment, to publicly commit his government -- no matter what the political costs in certain areas of the province -- because it is a commitment that must be made, then I certainly will support the minister in that effort.
But if he wants somehow to bring about the realization of francophone rights in this province through the backdoor, to bring about those rights without admitting publicly that those are the rights to which the government is committed, then, frankly, I think, that is a lily-livered approach and not one that I feel deserves respect.
Certain members of the NDP caucus, along with our leader and myself, travelled to Quebec for a short visit last spring.
Mr. Bradley: Socialist buddies.
Mr. Wildman: We met with members of all three political parties in Quebec City. We also met with representatives of the university community. Then we met in Montreal with members of the various ethnic minorities -- the anglophone minority, the Italian minority, the Greek minority, the Polish minority -- as well as with teachers’ groups, labour groups and small business groups -- in the province.
The thing I found rather disconcerting in that visit was the fact the anglophones, who were frankly very pro-Trudeau and his approach to the problems of this country -- as a matter of fact, they were the only pro-Trudeau group that we met in Quebec -- told us that, even with the problems of the PQ government and the problems they were facing with a PQ government in Quebec, they had more language and education rights than the francophone minority had in Ontario.
I think it speaks to something in this province when the members of the anglophone minority in a province that has a separatist government can say that they have more rights in terms of language and education than the francophone minority in a province that is committed to the continuance of Confederation and the unity of this country. And they were hardly supporters of the PQ. I mean, they were very worried about their own future, the future of those rights, but what they were saying was that if this province and this government did not commit itself to the preservation of francophone rights publicly, in legislative terms, that it would be very difficult for them to preserve their own rights in Quebec.
They were very disappointed in the position taken by the Premier at the time of the debate on the private member’s bill on francophone rights, because they saw themselves as isolated in the Quebec community and without allies in the rest of English Canada, unless English Canada was able to take the same kind of position that they took -- that is, that the rights of the minority should be protected and protected legislatively. If we are unable or unwilling to take that position in this province, then we face a very grave situation for the future of the country.
I don’t pretend to have any easy answer, but it seems to me that we must state very clearly that we believe that this country, in order to survive, must respect the rights of all of the people who have made this country grow and to allow them to grow.
The thing I found very interesting on my trip to Quebec, when we met with one Union Nationale member, I believe he was, who was an anglophone from Montreal riding, is that he told me that less than 15 per cent of his riding were francophone. As a matter of fact percentage-wise there were more francophones in my provincial riding than there were in his. He basically took the position -- seemed to take the position -- that the PQ was everything that was the opposite of what was needed to preserve this country, and yet he had nothing positive to offer. When I argued with him and said, “Look, surely the francophones in your riding deserve more than the kind of abuse that you are heaping on them,” I had very little I could say about what was being done in my province for the francophone minority in my riding.
Sure, we have French schools in my riding, but we don’t have much else. I’ll give you an example. There’s a small town in my riding called Dubreuilville. Dubreuilville is basically a piece of Quebec in northern Ontario. It’s a unilingual town: very few people in that town speak English. They have a French school, a French church and so on. Most of the people who work there are bush workers or mill workers, but if it comes to the situation of one of them having a serious accident, whether it be with a chainsaw or whatever, and he’s taken out to the hospital in Wawa, or even worse, if he’s taken to the hospital in Sault Ste. Marie in a more serious situation for more specialized treatment, it’s almost impossible for that person to find someone who can treat him in his own language. There are very few doctors who can speak French in Sault Ste. Marie, and very few nurses. As a matter of fact, if he were an Italian-speaking person he would have a better chance in getting someone who could speak in his mother tongue in Sault Ste. Marie than if he were a francophone.
The situation is even more serious when you talk about other types of treatment in the health field -- for instance, psychological problems or psychiatric problems. It’s almost impossible for a person who speaks only French to be treated in his own language in northern Ontario. He has to go to Ottawa, or maybe Sudbury. He certainly won’t get it in Sault Ste. Marie.
I have a situation in that same town of a retarded child who needs specialized treatment and education. Unless she can get it in that town she is going to have to go at least to Sudbury and probably to Ottawa if not Montreal to receive it. That means either being separated from her family at a very young age or not receiving the kind of treatment she deserves and needs.
I know the problems we face in terms of numbers and so on. I don’t pretend to say we should provide all the services necessary no matter what the numbers are who need them. But if we have a community that is francophone, where hardly anyone speaks English, we should be doing all that is necessary to provide the services those people require.
That particular community used to have a nurse. The nurse left the town. To give them their due, the Ministry of Health attempted to find another bilingual nurse. It took over two years to get another bilingual nurse into that community. There is a nurse there now who has been there since August. She is providing a service, apparently doing an excellent job and likes the community. But unless we can do better than waiting one and a half to two years for these services, what are we going to say to Quebec?
When I said to people in Quebec, “There are a lot of francophones in my riding and you are abandoning them if you separate, you are forgetting about them,” what did they say? The Pequistes, the separatists, said “Well, if you want to live in French, live in Quebec. You’re doomed in Ontario. You’re going to be assimilated because nobody in Ontario has any real desire to provide the services that are going to enable you to preserve your language and your culture. So if you choose to live in Ontario, you choose to be English. If you choose to live in Quebec, then you have a chance of preserving your culture.” As long as Pequistes can say that to Quebeckers, we are going to have a very difficult time dealing with the constitutional crisis we face today.
I wonder what this government is doing to try and deal with those problems, so that this minister can go to constitutional conferences and say, “Look, we’ve got a commitment in Ontario, we’re interested in preserving this country. Now, Quebec, you better live up to the same kind of commitment.” If all you have is hollow promises of what might happen as long as you don’t run into too much bigotry in Ontario, you’re playing into the hands of the PQ.
Mr. Mancini: All the Tory backbenchers are getting ready for question period.
Mr. Wildman: I wonder whether this government is really interested in grasping the opportunity it has to be a leader for the future of this province and this country. I wonder whether that is the role of the minister. If it is, I support him; if it isn’t, we face a very grave situation which may lead to the ultimate destruction of this country.
I don’t think it is enough to say we need further decentralization. I don’t think it is enough to say, “Let each province live on its own and do whatever it wants.” What is needed is a commitment from each province, from each provincial minister responsible for these matters, to the future of this country and to the protection of the rights of the founding peoples in that minister’s own province. I would hope this minister can make that commitment today because all of us in this House desire that this province play a leading role in the preservation of Confederation.
Mr. Nixon: I was thinking that the minister must be getting a little weary of this, no matter how excellent it is, and we all agree this debate has been excellent. If he would care to comment on what has already been said, certainly I would be glad to yield the floor. I notice the chairman looking his way. Does the minister want to take a shot at some of these things then?
Hon. Mr. Wells: No, go ahead.
Mr. Nixon: I just want to speak briefly. I was quite impressed with the minister’s comments on the federal-provincial aspects of his new responsibility. I was a bit concerned from my own point of view that he indicated the main accomplishment at the federal-provincial conference last week was that there was a commitment by various first ministers that a reform of the constitution -- really a re-establishment of discussions on the constitution -- was in itself an important accomplishment. I believe that is so, and yet you yourself know and certainly your advisers know of the many hours of work that have gone into the constitutional discussions and what many hoped was definite movement towards the establishment of reform constitution.
When I first became leader of the Liberal Party back in 1967, one of my first responsibilities was to attend John Robarts’ Confederation of Tomorrow conference. You may recall it was held in the top of the then brand new Toronto-Dominion Centre. Actually I thought at the time, being much more cynical then perhaps than I am now, that there was a certain substantial dollop of politics in it since it was election year and the head of the federal government didn’t seem to be taking the initiative of doing what everybody subconsciously expected would be done, bringing the Premiers all together in some great setting and saying “Let’s remake our great nation.” That came a bit later. I personally felt as a Canadian first and as a Liberal second that the government of Canada had messed up their timing just a trifle there.
The fact that the initiative was taken here in Ontario was something that we are all proud of. It made a great impression across Canada and, as my colleague from Ottawa East said, it really established John Robarts very much as a Canadian politician who was quite prepared to move more than halfway in discussions with his political colleagues from Quebec.
This is one of the aspects of our history that I feel has not been sufficiently appreciated. Actually, I don’t think it has been appreciated by the present government of Ontario, the lengthy tradition of co-operation between Ontario and Quebec, sometimes to some observers against the central authority, but probably and mostly to objective observers more or less representing the provinces as a whole trying to balance the preponderance of authority and, let us say, the initiative for change that had been coming from Ottawa.
This goes back a good long time, certainly back to Baldwin and Lafontaine, who are pictured in our halls here. I won’t talk about them in too much detail, but even Hepburn and Duplessis had a tremendous influence on the proposed changes in constitution that had been the result of the report of the Rowell-Sirois royal commission which intended to dramatically change the distribution of powers in the late 1930s and early 1940s.
I just wanted to re-emphasize to you, Mr. Chairman, and anybody else who is interested, the role that Robarts had played at that time. Just as an aside, Mr. Robarts, always being a very thoughtful person, had the new Leader of the Opposition sitting in quite a prominent place where I and people from our party had a good chance, if not to participate, at least to observe. There were two seats empty beside me for the first day or two and they were finally filled by a couple of guys from out west, a fellow by the name of Lougheed who had just become leader of the Conservative Party there and another chap, Getty, who had come all the way from out west at Mr. Robarts’ invitation.
I got to know them a bit during the week. I remember thinking here was the new leader of the Conservative Party out there and, boy, he had a long row to hoe. However, there he is and in his own way probably at least as divisive when it comes to Canadian unity as any other Premier is in this nation. It concerns me deeply when I hear the attitude he is taking.
A comment he made, just before the federal-provincial conference, stuck out in my mind. He said: “The Prime Minister of Canada does not speak for Canada. All of the Premiers speak for Canada.” That attitude and that concept of Confederation as some kind of a compact certainly does not appeal to me.
We are jealous of the rights of provinces as they are set out in the British North America Act and prepared, I suppose, to discuss certain changes, but I was interested to note that the proposed agenda for the next conference, one that had come from the Prime Minister of Canada, contained at least seven or eight items, all of which seemed to be, at least from one point of view, provincial items -- the rights of the provinces to levy indirect taxes, for example. I don’t know who has been pushing for that particularly. We seem to have quite a spectrum and array of taxes that we have available to our treasury, but it seemed to me each of the items that the minister mentioned had to do with things that the provinces wanted and which would in fact reduce the central authority.
I am not so sure that this is the mood of Canada. It may be the mood of the provincial Premiers. It may be the mood of some people who see right now a lessening of the political clout of the government of Canada. People in this particular small and select group here think that that authority can and will be reasserted, but there’s no doubt in my mind that some of the inadequacies and the results of the conference last week and particularly the strength of the western position -- I suppose since nobody will know what I said anyway I could use the word “arrogance” in reference to the western position -- was based on their perception of the weakening of the political authority of the Prime Minister.
In most of the conferences which the Prime Minister has chaired, he has been in the position -- I wouldn’t say to lord it over the others; far from it, because there’s always a clutch of Premiers who have recently come from an election and been successful. In recent years that has not been this province, thank God. I just wanted also to indicate in the view of the minister that it is a good thing that at least there is a commitment that changes in Confederation are considered to be important and therefore we can move forward.
The greatest steps forward were made without doubt in 1971. Following Mr. Robarts’ conference here, there were a number of federal-provincial conferences chaired by Mr. Pearson, and I think one or two by Mr. Trudeau, before the Victoria conference, but they built up to what was as close to real achievement as we may get for a good long time. In those days the first ministers usually took the leaders of the other parties in the Legislatures along to these conferences, so I had a chance to go to Victoria. Although many of the sessions were closed, I felt very much closely associated with the discussions and the draft constitutional changes that came out of there. I thought they were excellent and it was a great disappointment to me when Mr. Bourassa, who had been a part of the negotiations in Victoria, went back to Quebec City and found that be was not supported by his government.
I suppose this is a little bit of history but it concerned me deeply that Ontario was not in a position to support Quebec more strongly in those days. I think if Ontario had taken a stronger initiative at that time and come out and said, “Okay, as the principal spokesman of the anglophone provinces, we in Ontario can see our way clear to supporting Quebec in her request” -- or demand, I suppose if you want to put it in those words -- “for a far greater say -- more influence in the establishment of the cultural and linguistic and educational aspects of the provinces.”
For example, in those days they wanted far more control of the communications facilities. This was fought by a number of provinces and in those days, when the Ontario Educational Communications Authority was still somewhat in its infancy, Ontario did not take a strong stand. Now we have got our own broadcasting authority here. In fact the government seems to worry about that almost as much as they do about some of their other responsibilities.
The government of Quebec wanted far more responsibility for the expenditure and control of the various social programs -- old age security and the various pensions for the various classes of needy people. Once again Ontario did not step in and say, “Yes, there should be block transfers of funds and let that province” -- and as a matter of fact, any other province including Ontario -- “administer these if the provinces concerned want to do so.” We could have done that; and I felt it was really a tragedy that we were not in a position to provide more support for the Quebec position at the time, which historically should have been our role.
Just as an aside, I felt that the Ontario delegation was a very effective one in Victoria. As you know, the host was Premier Bennett the elder, who was very strict about alcoholic beverages in every respect. He treated the whole delegation to a ferryboat ride; after one of the long, gruelling sessions we all trooped down to the harbour and got on this great big boat -- the Queen of Vancouver or something like that. We immediately rushed on looking for the lemonade or whatever there would be for a hot summer day, and there just wasn’t really anything but iced water.
It got rather desperate after a while until one of the leading civil servants from Ontario -- not on the staff immediately before the minister but probably not too far from here -- brought out a very elaborate briefcase, a very impressive bag indeed, and opened it up. We found it was a fully-equipped bar. It was almost like the story of the little boy with the loaves and fishes. I believe several hundred people were looked after from that portable suitcase. It is just one of the miracles the government has been able to pull off when they needed it.
Mr. Warner: Standard issue.
Mr. Nixon: I frankly would hope that the outline of the Victoria agreement could once again form the basis of Ontario’s position in the continuing discussion. I even felt at that time that the amending formula was one which was eminently supportable on all sides. It did not give the veto to one of the smaller provinces. There is always a problem here, when you move away from what Premier Lougheed has said. He said, “I believe that all the provinces are equal when it comes to these circumstances.”
Frankly, I can’t support that. While I have the greatest respect for all of the other provinces and the people there, I cannot see the province of Prince Edward Island -- as the extreme situation -- having a veto over the decision made by all of the other provinces for constitutional amendment. The formula that was arrived at and agreed to by all provinces in Victoria is one that I believe would still be effective.
The basic change -- I suppose there are two of them since those days -- a very important one, of course, is the election of a separatist government in Quebec. Their attitude seems to be changing a little bit. They are attempting in their political statements and decisions to influence the public opinion both there and to some extent, I suppose, elsewhere in Canada, in support of their proposed referendum, which is at least a year away.
But, really, the results of that referendum don’t seem to be as important now as they once were. You have the feeling that even if they were to carry a referendum on sovereignty association -- and God forbid that they would carry it -- and George Gallup too -- I still think the government of Quebec would consider the referendum, even if it were carried, a mandate simply to negotiate many of the rights which were part of the so-called Victoria charter. If they went all the way to separate from Canada it would be a terrible thing, and I just cannot believe there will ever be a vote in that province which would support that alternative.
But it could be that the Pequiste government will not survive the next election, and we will find that Premier Ministre Ryan will have just about as tough a position with the other Premiers and the Prime Minister, short of threatening to leave the country. We will always have to negotiate with the provinces with special requirements, and it always seems to me that Ontario has got to lead the other side. It is not our position simply to support Ottawa, and I know this minister is not in a position to do that. It is not something that he wants to do.
I didn’t feel that Ontario took any stands at the conference the week before last, or whenever it was, that were very dramatic. I think the minister was very comfortable in the position of trying to keep things reasonable and moderate and just being there to indicate that the province of Ontario is participating in these ongoing discussions.
The other thing that has changed since 1971 is the economic status of the western provinces. The attitude from Alberta, and perhaps to a lesser extent from Saskatchewan, is certainly different from what it was in 1971. I think their main concern is that they keep and reinforce the control of the natural resources they have.
We might as well face it that, for reasons that we can’t understand, they really resent the role that Ontario has played. They don’t resent Quebec so much. As a matter of fact, they may feel a certain hidden kindred spirit with Quebec because the villains, as far as Edmonton is concerned, I suppose are first in Ottawa and then in Toronto. There’s really not much we can do about that. We’re very much cast in the same role as the Ugly Americans, who couldn’t understand, with all their largess, with all their sensitivity and friendliness, with all their generosity, that everybody else in the world hated them. It’s just part of the psychology, I guess, of that kind of politics.
Among the people out west, although they are generous hosts and willing to talk politics at any time, the basic idea is one of ongoing and deep-seated resentment of everything that Toronto and Ontario have stood for. I don’t know what we’re going to be able to do about that. We can continue to be our generous, sensitive selves, always reminding them, I suppose, that we are the major market for their oil and that we are the source of their $6-billion fund out there. All of these things, I suppose, simply increase the resentment, but that’s a fact.
I would say that Alberta, as the spokesman for this newer attitude in western Canada, is going to be just as much of a problem with the possibilities of constitutional reform as the province of Quebec.
I feel, of course, that these matters are of great importance. I’m not at all confident that we’re going to get very far in the next few months with constitutional reform. Quebec states definitely that it is not interested in patriation of the constitution, I guess for obvious reasons. They don’t want a convenient way to change the constitution; I believe they are quite satisfied at least with the powers that the province has in that regard at the present time. We missed the best opportunity in 1971, and it may very well be that it will be a good many years before a better opportunity comes along.
Mr. Swart: Mr. Chairman, I rise to speak on this very briefly. I think most of the points have been covered in this debate, probably many of them two, three or four times. There’s just one point that I want to emphasize. However, I would like to say, as many others have said, that I feel the minister who has been chosen to play this particular part is a good choice.
I was thinking that perhaps another person, like the Minister of Labour, would have been a good man too. They both have something of the same disposition and are kind of likeable people. The only reason that he might be preferable is that he hasn’t been here long enough to be corrupted by the others over on the other side of the House --
Hon. Mr. Elgie: I was wondering how you were going to get around to that.
Mr. Swart: -- and perhaps hasn’t been whipped into line as often as the present minister.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: It will happen.
Mr. Swart: But I think the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs has the personality that fits him for the job.
An hon. member: If there’s anything worse than a Tory, it’s a likeable Tory.
Mr. Swart: I want to say that I agree with my colleague from Algoma that we are facing a somewhat dangerous situation in this nation. In fact, with the new stance of the Premier of Quebec, I think it becomes somewhat more dangerous than it was before. If that party and the Premier had continued to push for a straight vote on separation, the vote would have been defeated. A great majority of people in Quebec would have voted against it, and I think perhaps the present Premier would have been defeated too, fairly quickly. But when he’s putting a vote which, as I understand it, is really to authorize him to negotiate sovereignty association -- whatever that may be -- a lot more people there would probably vote for it.
It doesn’t sound quite so tough but I think we should recognize that his goal is still the same. It’s not really a change in objective, it’s simply a change in tactic. It’s going to be more difficult, perhaps, for the people in this nation who are concerned to keep it as one nation, to persuade the people in Quebec that they should vote against this kind of a resolution, this kind of a question.
It’s been stated, and I just repeat, that it’s going to require real leadership, and perhaps setting aside some of the political advantages that all of us in political parties like to get on issues; this perhaps is a bit too important. I think all the Premiers of this nation, including Ontario, are going to have to do some giving and perhaps not always be looking over their shoulder to see how many votes are there or how many votes are in opposition. The prize is too great to let it be decided solely by partisan political decisions.
I want to say, as sincerely as I can, that I would support this government, or any government, that took real leadership even though at times it may be against public opinion. At times there might be the opportunity to make some political gain on it, none of us -- and I commit myself -- will endeavour to make that political gain.
I think I must mention, because the member for Ottawa East made some comment about the Premier of Saskatchewan speaking against a clause to enshrine civil rights and human rights in the federal constitution, what I think most here will know, and that is that it was a Premier of Saskatchewan, not the same person but that government, that first put through civil rights and human rights legislation. It may be that he was a little sceptical about the validity of --
Ms. Nixon: That was an act of the Legislature.
Mr. Swart: -- about the validity --
Mr. Wildman: Right, and he’s a great Canadian.
Mr. Swart: He may have thought this was something of a façade when the people who were proposing it, saying we should have these civil rights enshrined, were governments that had sent workers back to work for the transit commission within 24 hours after they had decided to strike or had said they would pass legislation for the postal workers before they even went out. There may be some conflict there and he may have seen through what the real intent of the legislation was.
Mr. Wildman: Or the War Measures Act.
Mr. Swart: Yes, or the War Measures Act. The point I wanted to mention and emphasize -- and I don’t think it has been mentioned, certainly hasn’t been emphasized -- is that one of the major factors that will keep this nation together, and conversely the divisive factor, will be employment and unemployment.
When you have massive unemployment, as we have in this nation now, you pit one part of the country against another part of the country, you build up bitterness, you build up bitterness between the haves and the have-nots. It will, as much as anything else, help to destroy this nation if it is going to be destroyed.
I just want to say to this House that in a nation with all of the natural resources we have, with the skills and the industrious nature of our citizens, we can have full employment if we’re prepared to organize our economy to bring about that full employment. There is no justification or reason in this world why Canada should be in the economic position it is at the present time except that lack of organization.
Anybody who has been following the trail of the dollar’s devaluation knows where the world puts us in relationship to Japan, in relationship to West Germany -- and, yes, even in relationship to England -- where in two years our dollar has dropped something like 47 per cent compared to those currencies, or even away below the United States, and the United States currency has dropped dramatically throughout the world.
There is one reason for it. It is not because we don’t have the natural resources. It is not because we don’t have the skills. It is not because we don’t have the technical knowhow in this nation and in the one across the border, it is just simply that we haven’t organized our economy. The rest of the world doesn’t have confidence in this nation to organize that economy and that’s why we’re in the situation that we’re in.
This is a real part of the overall issue of keeping Canada together. I just say to this government and the government of this nation that if we are really intent on keeping this nation as one we’d better start a new route towards prosperity, because if unemployment continues and gets worse, we are going to reap the whirlwind when the vote comes in in Quebec. The people in the west and particularly the people in the east are dissatisfied and many of the people are in Ontario. And when they have those kinds of feelings, that’s the time when the people will have much less concern about keeping this nation together.
So I just repeat, Mr. Chairman, that a major factor in this whole issue of whether we keep one nation is whether we are going to organize our society to have full employment. I say it’s no longer just a case of having jobs for everyone, as important as that is. It’s also very much a case of having the kind of Canada that people want to keep together.
Mr. McGuigan: Mr. Chairman, I rise to speak in this debate. I’d like to begin by congratulating the new Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs on his appointment and express the hope we have in his ability and in his past record as a minister of this government that he will work for the good of Ontario and for the good of Canada.
I’d like to address myself particularly to the agricultural aspect of this debate. It hasn’t been touched on at the moment, but to begin on the specific fear that I have, I’m a bit more pessimistic than a good many people that I’ve talked to who say, “Quebec and Levesque are just putting up a bit of a smoke screen. They want to use this to gain certain powers and there’s no real problem so don’t worry about it.”
I do worry about it, Mr. Chairman. I’m gravely worried about it because I believe that once you start down this road of nationalism, once you unleash those forces of emotion, sort of dogs of war -- like arrows, once unleashed they cannot be recalled. I rather think that the forces that Mr. Levesque is playing with in Quebec will get out of even his rather moderate hands. I have to admit that the man is a moderate in the overall picture, but I’m afraid the people behind him are not moderates and that the forces he has unleashed will threaten Canada.
I see the scenario as this. He will put forth a very modest and very moderate referendum question on the matter of sovereignty association, which might possibly pass, especially with the interest of the young people in Quebec. But behind the scenes, and we see and hear it already, they are telling the farmers in Quebec, “We are going to be self-sufficient in Quebec,” which is an absolutely impossible dream when you look at the soil resources and the weather resources of Quebec. They are nowhere near self-sufficient, nor can they become sell-sufficient, but they are telling that story.
I can see obstacles being put once the referendum passes. They will say, “We will have this association with Canada, provided you do certain things.” And these will amount to tariffs and barriers to free trade such as we presently have with the movement of workers and machines. The rest of Canada will certainly reject that for emotional and economic reasons and Quebec will say, “I told you so. There is no possibility of staying in Canada. We will move out.”
I am not afraid to address myself to what that will mean to Ontario, as other speakers have mentioned. The member for Algoma said that Ontario had the most to lose in this scenario. Look at the agricultural products Ontario sends to Quebec to make up for the fact that they can’t grow nearly enough of their own feed grains in that province. We are now in a position in Ontario of being self-sufficient in the production of corn, so we have to look for markets beyond our own provincial borders. The natural market, of course, is Quebec.
As long as we are able to send that product to Quebec, and as long as Quebec is part of the Canadian Confederation, Ontario enjoys the advantage of an eight cents a bushel duty on corn. As soon as Quebec opts out, if that sad day ever comes, they will buy corn directly from the United States minus that eight cents duty. Eight cents a bushel doesn’t sound like a great deal of money, but take eight cents right off the top of each of the 150 million bushels we grow here in Ontario and it amounts to about $8 an acre on our average yields today.
You can carry that same scenario across for soya beans. We are not self-sufficient at the moment in Ontario, but as we advance in our growing areas with our crop, we are going to be self-sufficient and we are going to want that Quebec market.
The same applies to many of the fruits and vegetables grown in the warm part of southwestern Ontario which are impossible to grow in Quebec. Quebec grows the cold-climate vegetables such as carrots and root crops that thrive very well in that colder climate. But when you come to commodities like tomatoes, tobacco, fruits and a great many others, especially greenhouse crops, the natural market for those is in Quebec.
Go to industry, which is also important in my riding of Kent-Elgin. We have many small parts plants. I think the figure is something like 10 per cent of the manufactured products in Ontario go to Quebec.
So in a province that has so much at stake, I ask the question, who is really speaking for Ontario? It is not enough that our Premier goes to Ottawa and says that he isn’t willing to debate who is the most humble, himself or the Prime Minister, or that he acts as the great conciliator in this debate. We need a leader. We want somebody to speak for Canada, to carry that message for Canada, and not fall into this trap that --
Hon. Mr. Elgie: You have one. He is right over here.
Mr. Hodgson: You forget that you are a Liberal.
Mr. Bradley: Are you still playing that old tune?
Mr. Eakins: There is the problem right there. You put your finger on the problem. You are the problem.
Hon. Mr. Elgie: We have met the enemy and he is us. Thank you, Pogo.
Mr. Eakins: If you had the courage that the minister has, you’d be all right. He’s one of the few people in your cabinet who speaks out.
Mr. Hodgson: We need a speaker for Canada. Elect Joe Clark and you’ll have one.
Mr. Chairman: Order. The member for Kent-Elgin has the floor.
Mr. McGuigan: Mr. Chairman, I would like to enlarge the picture a little bit to look at Canada in total and say, in the agricultural sense, how good a deal the rest of the west has had over the years. At the moment they are telling us they have suffered under terrible freight rates and they have suffered by not being able to sell their wheat at various times. But let’s look at the record.
Back in 1905, I think it was, they set the Crowsnest Pass rate, and that rate has persisted to this day. That’s very uneconomic as far as moving grain is concerned, but nevertheless the railways continue to move grain at those Crowsnest Pass rates. The railways have not been able to build tracks because of the uneconomic grain movement. The government of Canada has subsidized the railways to the tune of millions and millions of dollars. In recent years the government of Canada has built, I believe, 6,000 jumbo grain cars because the railways could not build boxcars to replace those that were becoming obsolescent. The Canadian government built those 6,000 jumbo grain cars -- I believe that’s the figure -- all at the taxpayers’ expense, and mostly at the expense of the Ontario taxpayers, because I believe something like 50 per cent of the taxes are generated here in Ontario.
If we look back at how we have sold grain from western Canada -- and I can’t give the exact date when the Canadian Wheat Board came into effect, but it was immediately following the Second World War -- we set up a system of orderly marketing of grain in which the government of Canada played a very vital role, and it fell apart in the late 1960s. Canada was part of the international Grains Agreement at that time; we agreed, along with United States, Australia and some of the importing countries, to maintain grain prices at reasonable levels, both for the exporter and for the importer. The United States broke the agreement in the late 1960s. It wasn’t Canada’s fault that happened.
I think it was about 1971 when the grain stocks were building up to such levels in the west that the Canadian government implemented the LIFT program -- Lower Inventories For Tomorrow -- in which I think they paid some $60 million to the western farmers not to grow grain. The intent was certainly altruistic and economic, but the timing was disastrous because it was only a year or so later that there was such a shortage of grain in Russia that, for the first time in the history of that country, the Russians changed their food policy. They have had many droughts in Russia, and will continue to have many droughts, because it’s a very unpredictable area as to the amount of rainfall where they grow their grain.
In previous shortages of grain, they simply cut back on their livestock -- they ate the livestock -- which solved two problems; it provides food for the people and it ends the need for grains. But, for the first time in their history, they made the decision that they were going to feed proteins to their people and they would import the grains; since that time we have had buoyant grain markets.
But in spite of the disastrous timing of the LIFT program, look at what happened in Canadian markets versus United States markets. When the Russians decided to go into the market, I believe they went to the five main commercial grain brokerage companies in the United States and said secretly to each one, “We want within a certain period of time” -- just a few days -- “to buy so many million bushels of grain.” Each one of these companies went into the market not realizing the other was in it and they bought up practically all the stocks of grain in the United States at a maximum of $1.65 a bushel.
The Canadian Wheat Board, operating as the sole agent for the sales of grain from western Canada, sat back and watched this whole affair. I know when the price of grain came up to $5 a bushel they sold the grain. We should be telling those western people about some of the advantages they have, and that it isn’t all a one-sided affair.
Another law came along with the Canadian Wheat Board -- when that was established we no longer imported any wheat or feed grains from the United States. It only comes in by a matter of permit. That is a protection for all those western growers. Ontario does not enjoy any such protection because we have the grain brought down here on subsidized rails and subsidized cars, and with grain equalization payments. At the same time we see corn from the United States, with only an eight-cent-a-bushel tariff, brought in by boats and landed into our lake ports here at very minimum costs. So Ontario has borne a lot of the costs of maintaining those people in the west.
When I was a youngster and very much involved in listening to the family talk, which was agriculture -- and I came from a politically active family -- the great item of concern at that time was finding markets. We seemed to be up against barriers at all places where we could sell our agricultural and our Canadian products. Today we seem to have a sort of reverse of that. People in Canada are saying, “Well, it’s our oil, and we’re going to put an artificial price on it, and we won’t sell it to you.” This is what the Albertans are doing.
In Saskatchewan they are saying, “It’s our potash.” That great inland sea that created that layer of potash under practically the whole province of Saskatchewan, they’re saying, “That’s ours. We’re not going to share it with you unless you pay artificial prices. Quebec is saying about hydro, “That’s ours. We don’t want to pay any taxes ourselves. We want to live on the royalties that we’re going to get from all these various products.” Maritimers are not in much of a position to do that, other than to say about prospective offshore oil, “That’s ours.”
Mr. Mackenzie: Inco says it for us.
Mr. McGuigan: I happen to believe that those Douglas firs in British Columbia --
Mr. Gregory: They can’t catch lobster in Saskatchewan -- I’ll tell you that.
Mr. McGuigan: They’ve got lots of grasshoppers there. There’s a man who has invented a machine to catch them now.
Mr. Mackenzie: The only endangered species out there is the Liberals.
Mr. Roy: They will rise to live another day.
Mr. McGuigan: Despite all the comments from the minister I don’t see what Liberal, Conservative, or NDP has to do with the matter under discussion. We’re really talking about the future of Canada. We’re not talking party politics.
Mr. Wildman: I don’t think they can manage the resources in this province the way they have in Saskatchewan.
Mr. Warner: That’s right. You must have a course in Ontario.
Mr. Bradley: They belong to all of Canada, we know that.
Mr. Wildman: You mean they belong to the US.
Mr. McGuigan: You fellows over there are trying to make out you’re the great internationalists. You go to the international conference with your confreres from around the world. You’re the great internationalists, but you don’t want to share.
Mr. Roy: That’s right.
Mr. McGuigan: You want to keep it all for the NDPers out in Saskatchewan.
Mr. Wildman: We don’t want to share it with the capitalists, we just want to share it with the people of the provinces.
Mr. M. Davidson: All of the people of the provinces.
Mr. Bradley: All of the people of Canada.
Mr. Warner: Tell us about the American forest in Ontario.
Mr. McGuigan: I happen to believe that those BC fir frees belong a little bit to me and to my family and to future generations to come. They are towering things to look at, of great stature. They are something like yourself; they are kind of tall and silver-haired, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. M. Davidson: Are you owned by MacMillan Bloedel too?
Mr. McGuigan: I hope you are just as solid. I think perhaps you have your feet on the ground as those firs have. I think you have your feet planted. I hope to goodness you have your head a little bit in the clouds and that you can dream for Canada and not be spoiled by all the greedy elements we are hearing in this country saying: “Gimme this and gimme that. It is mine.”
I happen to think that the short-grass country and the long-grass country in Alberta that feeds those magnificent livestock belongs to my heirs --
Mr. Bradley: Along with the oil under it.
Mr. McGuigan: -- and the oil in Alberta and the coal and the potash and the minerals of the great shield of Ontario and even the hydro from the nuclear hydro plants. As you know, we don’t quite agree about whether or not we should be having those plants, but we have got them. I happen to think those belong to the people of Canada, and so do the waterfalls in Quebec and the great forests of Quebec and the forests and fisheries of the Maritimes and the Annapolis valley in Nova Scotia and the red soil of Prince Edward Island. It doesn’t count for very much, Albert Roy, but it is great potato ground.
So I just want to mention my concern as it affects the economy and as it affects agriculture and as it affects the future of this country. I don’t think it has got a damned thing to do with politics.
Mr. Bradley: Good speech.
Mr. Chairman: The member for Renfrew North.
Mr. Gregory: Oh, here we go.
Mr. Eakins: Just settle back.
Mr. Roy: This is another reflection of our interest in federal-provincial relations.
Mr. Bradley: I move we sit until 11 o’clock.
Mr. Conway: It was indicated to me that there were others, some of whom were not present here this evening, who had quite a keen interest in keeping this debate going. If for no other reason than providing what I hope will be a reasonably informal filibuster until 10:30, I wanted to make a few comments about the debate as it has developed here this evening.
Mr. Warner: The first part of the evening was interesting.
Mr. Conway: I found some of the comments made by some of the members both interesting and timely. I beg the minister’s indulgence for my comments, which I hope will be brief and to some degree pertinent.
I find it interesting yet again to hear in this particular estimates debate that the Quebec question basically is dominating a debate of this assembly. To a degree, I think it should. I have watched with considerable interest in the past number of months, particularly since 1976 at about this time of the year in that particular year, the developing interest the Legislature had demonstrated in the national question. It has produced a spate of lengthy and sometimes interesting debate and at times some very interesting action.
My friend from Algoma drew to the attention of the House, as he properly should, the initiative undertaken by his leader and, I believe, five or six caucus colleagues in March of this past year when that delegation headed into Quebec for a period of days to meet with a number of officials and the like. As a matter of pure coincidence, I happened to be in the regular visitors’ gallery that afternoon when this very distinguished delegation of persons I happened to know was led into the special visitors’ gallery.
I will never forget what I saw that day and my memory, imperfect as it is, can well remember my friend from Carleton East (Ms. Gigantes), seated between the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) and the member for Wentworth (Mr. Deans), leaning over this brass railing right above the opposition looking across at the Pequiste government. My friend, the member for Ottawa East, drew attention to a debate last night on a regional Ottawa television station that that particular debate that day in the Quebec assembly with the NDP was not so much directed as to whether that governmental horde were separatists but I am sure the debate was whether or not they were -- what we have all been trying to find out -- social democrats. It was indeed intriguing to watch --
Mr. Warner: They don’t know that themselves.
Mr. Conway: Well, they don’t know that themselves, but it was interesting last night, I thought, on that television interview in Ottawa that the one unanswered question for these Quebec journalists was whether or not the Levesque government was one of social democracy. I wanted to point out very briefly, my comments are offered by way of general impressions from a specific and prejudiced point of view -- the point of view of someone who is living now and has lived almost all his life in the Ottawa valley, which is in this regard an interface and to some degree a frontier. I am a unilingual Ontarian with no expertise either in the intricacies of constitutional law or indeed of interprovincial politics. I am also speaking from the point of view of someone who is 27 years of age and someone who will probably be around, if the law of averages obtains, to see developments in this country that will probably not be shared by the average member in this assembly who is unfortunately much older than 27.
Mr. Wildman: The minister is at least 29.
Mr. Conway: I want to make those comments first in a preparatory kind of way and to indicate that what I have to say are general impressions. The first and foremost of those impressions is that the Canada that grew out of the Confederation period is dead in my mind. It’s certainly no longer viable, it’s no longer alive and to that degree it’s no longer a debatable topic. That’s my particularly personal view and I want to do what my friend from Grey-Bruce (Mr. Sargent) always says in a preparatory kind of way -- make the comment that these are views of a private member. But I despair tremendously as I look at the status quo today. I am convinced in my own private mind that that great creation of 1867 is dead and has probably been dead for some years. Those of us who delude ourselves into thinking that it is somehow salvageable, I think delude ourselves, and I know there are many who would very strongly and sharply disagree with me.
I want to say that I don’t find the failure of that Confederation and that particular attempt particularly alarming because I look at it as my friend from Brant-Oxford-Norfolk looks at it perhaps, in somewhat of a more historical context.
There is a view, Mr. Chairman, for many to look at Confederation and at 1867 as some kind of genesis before which there was a vast expanse of abyss, that all of a sudden there was a divine fiat almost, that created this great prosperous and benevolent domain called Canada, that was created by this act of Parliament, this act of men called Confederation.
I want to point out a fact that is often forgotten -- and I am sure the minister has and I know Mr. Stevenson has, been over this ground many times before -- that Confederation was not genesis. It was the fifth constitutional effort by people living in this part of the world to govern themselves. It was brought about, not out of any great sense of creativity in the first order but rather because the preceding arrangements had failed abysmally. Confederation was the acknowledgement of constitutional failure in almost the most abject terms that the country had ever known and the creative statesmen of the day, recognizing this state of affairs, reordered their priorities, reordered their politics and created a decidedly different Canada constitutionally in 1867 than had been attempted 26 years before.
So when I talk about the failure of Confederation, I talk of it in those terms. I don’t see the failure in that particular respect as being unnecessarily alarming, but I do think it has failed or it certainly has lived its useful career and from my point of view the time has passed for us to take a serious look at reordering our political and constitutional arrangements.
Now why is the failure -- and I might ask this question and it may not appear as being very important to others, but it is to me and me alone perhaps -- I might ask why the failure of this particular constitutional arrangement is perhaps more serious for Ontario than it is for other parts of the federation.
I think it is very serious for Ontario -- the failure is very serious -- because this particular Confederation -- for which and about which all of us have made many speeches; and some of you, much older than I, have made far greater and far more heroic defences than I probably will ever be expected to make -- this Confederation was a constitutional creation largely of Ontario’s making. It was the creation of something that took into consideration the economic, it was an act of economic expansion. It recognized the tremendous growth and development of this particular jurisdiction at that particular time.
Perhaps more importantly, and this is something that is often forgotten, while Confederation was an acknowledgement of Ontario’s express expansionism economically, it was an act of separation for this province in the socio-cultural field. That is not to be forgotten, that 111 years ago --
Mr. Chairman: I am sorry to interrupt the honourable member, but if he has any further remarks to make, this might be the proper time to take an intermission. Do you have further comments? We could call on you on Friday morning.
Mr. Conway: Is it going to go on Friday morning?
Mr. Chairman: Definitely.
Mr. Ashe: You are usually in your riding on Friday, we appreciate that.
Mr. Wildman: He was making a good point.
Mr. Conway: I would like to just finish that point, it will take a minute.
Mr. Chairman: It is 10:30 of the clock, if the committee is agreed --
Mr. Wildman: Give him a minute, one minute.
Mr. Conway: I just wanted to round that point off.
Mr. Ashe: We all want to round points off.
Mr. Hodgson: We waste a lot of time around here; do it quickly.
Mr. Conway: It is a particular problem, I suppose, for Liberals in the Ontario Grit tradition. Culturally, 111 years ago, we were the separatists. We were the ones who basically had had enough of what the previous constitutional arrangements had to offer. George Brown led the majority Ontario opinion, which had an awful lot to do with being tired of what was called in the great journal of the day, the Globe, French domination. Confederation was an explicit political act to deal with that particular and growing concern in this province.
It is a historical point that is widely supported by the evidence. I am not here to lecture members, who probably know it as well as I. But today, when we strike out at a new breed of separatists within this British North American political tradition, I think it is important. So long as we sit around a table at various constitutional conferences, in Ottawa, Victoria and elsewhere, to deal with the separatist threat, we must remember that, because that is one of the two fundamental points that Confederation sought to deal with 111 years ago.
I will adjourn the debate, and look forward to --
Mr. Chairman: It is not necessary. These are the estimates, not a debate.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Just before we close the debate for tonight, I just want, because I may forget next Friday, to say that while I appreciate the point my friend is making, I would like to be dissociated, as one member of this House, from saying that the Confederation that was forged in 1867 failed and is dead today because I don’t believe it in my heart at all. I think that restructuring and rebuilding this country and its constitution is being done on a base which began 111 years ago, a base that was begun well.
I say that because today, November 6, exactly November 6, 1867, was the day that the first session of the first Parliament of Canada met. I still think that that tradition is one that has forged for us what we have here today. I just don’t agree with the point my friend is putting forward that Confederation, as it was forged, is dead. It can be revitalized.
Mr. Conway: Mr. Chairman, I just wanted to --
Mr. Chairman: Order, order.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Wells, the committee of supply reported certain resolutions.
RULES OF THE HOUSE
Mr. Warner: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point which I think is both one of privilege and one of order. I’m a member of the standing general government committee. As such, I received a notice that on Wednesday morning we shall be dealing with a series of bills including Bill Pr46.
While the standing orders, particularly standing order 62, require that the Clerk of the House shall post in the building five days’ notice of the date on which a private bill is to be considered, I cannot find anything in the standing orders which requires the bills to be printed. It is my understanding that one particular bill, Pr46, has not yet been printed.
In an effort to be diligent as a member of the assembly I’d like to examine bills prior to the committee sitting to ascertain whether or not there are particular items that should be dealt with. Obviously I’m unable to do this in the case of Bill Pr46. I seek your guidance to the, perhaps, inadequacy of the rules, in which case maybe the matter could be referred to the procedural affairs committee.
Secondly, I would appreciate any advice for me, as a member of this committee, as to how I’m supposed to deal with Bill Pr46 in advance of the committee sitting date, which is this Wednesday at 10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker: Your concern is noted. I don’t know whether it’s a point of order or a point of privilege, but I will look into it and report back to you tomorrow.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Wells, the House adjourned at 10:38 p.m.