31st Parliament, 4th Session

L039 - Mon 5 May 1980 / Lun 5 mai 1980

The House resumed at 8 p.m.


Resuming the debate on the constitutional resolution.

Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I consider it a distinct privilege to be able to participate in this very significant debate, particularly after the wonderful contribution made by the three leadoff speakers on a matter which is of such importance to the future and the welfare of our country.

One hundred and fifteen years ago, in the speech from the throne of January, 1865, the Union Parliament in the wake of the Charlottetown and Quebec conferences of the previous autumn was called upon, and I use this phrase right from the speech, “to create a new nationality.” That parliament proceeded to do just that as history has recorded in reporting the ensuing debates.

Now, as the successors of the first Fathers of Confederation of this tremendous nation of ours, we have our own roles in the period ahead of us. Our debates and our actions in the next few weeks will have to be seen not merely as an attempt to preserve that new nationality of 1865 but, even more important, to enhance it in the context of the realities of 1980.

The startling reality at the moment is that a sovereign, associated, indeed a separate Quebec, not only would take a province out of Confederation, but also it would mean the end of the Canadian nationality which we know and which we live and with which we are so proudly identified.

It is a nationality based on a very deep respect for differences. It is a nationality that takes on its own unique characteristic as the different parts come together. It takes on this new and meaningful characteristic which would not be seen as complete without all of those different parts. It is a nationality, in other words, founded on the very concept of diversity.

To be a Canadian is to have a connection, immediate or remote, to some other world culture, creed or language. To be a Canadian and to understand what it means to be a Canadian is to appreciate differences, to be part of diversity itself, to be a strong thread in a colourful and very exciting national fabric. Diversity is Canada. It is Canadianism. To be intolerant of a fellow Canadian because of differences of any kind is to reject Canada and our own Canadianism.

Perhaps it is because we are so different, because the regions and even the provinces are so unique and the distances of this country are so great, that many Canadians feel remote from and not fully participating in the management of the affairs of their own country.

The events in Quebec and the trends in the western provinces would confirm that there would appear to be dissatisfaction and frustration with respect to our Confederation. It would indicate that many Canadians feel the nature of the system Canadians have devised for living together does not adequately serve their needs at this time.

Ontario has a particular responsibility to co-operate with sister provinces in any necessary amendment of national arrangements that could improve inter-regional and inter-provincial understanding. After all, we do represent more than a third of the population of Canada.

I hope we are sensitive, as the member for York South (Mr. MacDonald) has urged us to be during the course of his debate, to different interests and that we do respond to different desires and aspirations. I hope we do comprehend the urgency of Canadian expectations, and we are not negative to needed national accommodations. As never before, the interests of the people of Canada are best guarded by guarding their interests in a united Canada.

I am sure we all agree, by virtue of the tone of the very resolution which is before this House during this week, that to support sovereignty-association would not be compatible with anyone’s commitment to Canada. It would not be compatible with my commitment to accommodate change within the one constraint of perpetuating the confederated nation which we all love.

I believe, and I am sure this belief is shared by all members of this assembly, that we should be prepared to amend as appropriate interprovincial and inter-regional arrangements, and by those new arrangements, of course, we cannot include a breakup of our very federation. No one, including myself can support the rejection by the rest of Canada of Quebec. That is not what the “new nationality” of 1865 was all about. But, in saying that, similarly we can not support the ending of that definition of nationality which a sovereign- associated or a separated Quebec would foreshadow.

The strength of Canada and the benefit of being a Canadian, we must constantly remind ourselves, is much more than a statistical, economic or commercial consideration. Let us make that point quite clear.

As the Minister of Energy for this province, I invite all Canadians, especially those resident in Quebec, to consider the implications of the current referendum debate as it relates to our energy future.

No nation today can plan its future in the absence of well-matured plans as to the supply, costs and sources of energy that will be required in its residences, commercial establishments, industries or transportation systems. Most Canadians rely upon other regions of Canada or other countries of the world for much of the energy we require to fuel our communities. In the case of our own province and our sister province of Quebec in particular, there is very little current evidence that would lead us to anticipate that this reliance will be greatly relieved.

In suite of the uncertainties of world crude oil supply, Canada is incredibly well positioned. While we are not currently self-sufficient in crude oil -- we produce about 1.4 million barrels a day of the 1.8 million barrels we now consume -- our vast resources make us the envy of the industrialized world. Moreover, we are self-sufficient in other principal forms of energy: natural gas, electricity and coal.

The people of Quebec and Ontario are well aware that energy supply security and competitive pricing increasingly are of benefit in terms of attracting jobs and income to our respective provinces. Indeed, compared to most industrial countries of the world, Canada is a resource-rich nation. We are blessed with coastal and inland fisheries, forests that stretch from Atlantic to Pacific, the hydrocarbons of the western provinces, the great potash mines of Saskatchewan, the wheat fields of the great plains region, the mines and industries of Ontario and Quebec and the rich resources of British Columbia. In addition to providing the jobs and income to those directly developing the resources or operating those particular industries, these resources have been of benefit to every resident of Canada, no matter where he or she lives.

These resources are the inheritance and entitlement of all Canadians. They are to be considered as part of the national endowment of each one of us. I, therefore, worry -- and I trust this worry is shared by all of us in this House -- about those who would urge our fellow citizens in another province to cut themselves off from those resources and to cut themselves off from that inheritance.

Just think about it for a moment in terms of energy alone. In its recent publication entitled An Energy Policy for Quebec, the government of Quebec stated: “Imported energy will for a long time to come continue to play a major though declining role in supplying Quebec’s energy needs.” In the ‘same document it noted: “Of Quebec’s total consumption of energy, 22 per cent is in electricity, 70 per cent in oil, six per cent in gas and two per cent in coal.”

8:10 p.m.

The total consumption of crude oil in Quebec is currently about 550,000 barrels a day. In its 1978 Canadian Oil Supply and Requirements report, the National Energy Board projected that this would increase to some 750,000 barrels a day by 1990. Keep in mind, in thinking in terms of those figures, that this assumes increased penetration by natural gas.

In that connection, interesting questions have been raised with respect to the position of a separated, sovereign Quebec in having a claim to natural gas from the other parts of Canada or to crude oil from the Alberta oil fields now travelling through the Sarnia-Montreal pipe line at the rate of some 315,000 barrels a day for the refineries of Quebec.

A sovereign Quebec will, therefore, import 550,000 barrels a day of crude oil from the markets of the world. Assuming it were consistently available at the current price of, say, $35 a barrel, the annual cost would be slightly in excess of $7 billion a year. By 1990, at 750,000 barrels a day and at an assumed price of $50 a barrel it would exceed $13 billion annually.

The government of Quebec’s An Energy Policy for Quebec records: “Our balance of payments, which was in equilibrium until 1973, has since shown a deficit in 1977.” In that particular year, nearly $2 billion was spent for the purchase of hydrocarbons at the Canadian price.

It would be quite inappropriate for me to advise Quebec as to how it might best plan its energy future. It is perfectly evident, however, that saying yes in the referendum and, in effect, saying no to the energy resources within our country will launch Quebec on the very uncertain and perilous energy seas that now are being so nervously navigated by the hydrocarbon-deficit nations of the world. It may not, therefore, be inappropriate for me to say that it would distress me very much if my friends in Quebec should opt for this alternative without being fully aware of the energy uncertainty that will inescapably ensue.

Let me be quick to remind myself and members of the House, as I have already indicated, that we are speaking to an issue which cannot possibly be addressed solely on the basis of economics, resource-sharing, money supply or the many other valid and important factual considerations. There is not one of us in this House who would not agree that emotion by its very nature easily defies clear expression by virtue of the inadequacy of vocabulary.

How do you effectively express your feelings in a debate as important as this? Belief in ourselves as peoples of a nation with our roots in our common history and soil and geography has to be seen as essential. Irrespective of where one lives in this tremendous country of ours, everyone can take a quiet and emphatic pride in the mellow softness of the Niagara Peninsula, the sky-probing mountain peaks and the forest pines of British Columbia, the deep blue of a prairie sky stretched across the green and gold of the prairie wheat fields and the glories of the autumn maples of Ontario and Quebec, not to overlook the sea-washed shores of our Maritime provinces.

It all represents our national home, a home far more extensive, no matter how important, than that little piece of geography where any one of us happens to reside. Perhaps, on reflection, this could be best expressed by sharing with the members of this House and through the media with the people living in Quebec the recent experience of a very special lady, known to me and living in Ontario. The lady in question is a Montreal-born Canadian, the daughter of a Montreal-born Canadian father and a Scottish-born mother. Her paternal grandparents are English and her maternal grandparents are Scottish. This lady is married to an Ontario-born Canadian. They, in turn, are the parents of three Ontario-born Canadian children who are fiercely proud of their citizenship and their roots.

Recent events in the province of her birth prompted this lady to reflect on the events of her childhood and adolescence lived in that province of Quebec, a province which she has continued to visit after her move to Ontario. These visits provided her with the opportunity, among others, to introduce her children to the people, the excitement, the customs, the glamour and the beauty of her home province, Quebec. To say this lady is proud of the province of her birth has to be seen as an understatement.

Following the announcement of the date for the referendum, it became evident that she wanted to do something to make this pride and her feelings known. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, what does an individual do under those circumstances? Can anyone say that one person can do anything that will make a difference? This lady, with her two daughters, travelled to Montreal this past weekend to learn firsthand something about the current campaign through conversations with friends and others with whom they would come in contact.

A visit to the committee rooms organized by the no forces in Quebec produced literature and campaign buttons and, with such buttons visibly displayed on their clothing, these three Ontarians went through the events of their weekend. Whether they were in a theatre lineup, eating at Dunn’s Famous Delicatessen Restaurant, walking along St. Catherine Street or waiting for their train, they were moved by the number of strangers who came up to them to tell them they liked the messages on their buttons and commended them for their willingness to display their feelings so openly and without shame. Obviously, this brought with it the opportunity to talk about Canada and to express what our nationality is all about. It was really a people-to-people exchange.

These three ladies returned home last night tired and concerned, although quite thrilled by the experience. After all, Montreal is one of the great cities of Canada and, indeed, of the world. You have to admit it is not a very exciting story. It won’t make the national news in the same way as the recent fist-fight at a referendum rally did. It won’t provide any quotable quotes such as those attributed to the Prime Minister of Canada and other political leaders in the next few weeks. But here is a lady who wanted to say to the people of Quebec: “Hey, all you people, I was born here too. I can’t vote right now because I don’t reside here any more, but think twice, think many times before you take away from me, before you take away from thousands of others who have moved away, as I have, the reality of our Canadian nationality, realized as a right because of our birth in the province of Quebec. Don’t rob me of this essential part of my Canadian heritage.”

So much for the efforts of Margaret Boston of Niagara-on-the-Lake, my wife, who with our daughters Beth and Mary-Jayne, quietly carried on that positive message and expressed their feelings during the last couple of days.

The red light is on; so I simply say, as the first victim of that light, may we all join together in recommitting ourselves to our Canadian nationality. All of us at 72 Johnson Street, Niagara-on-the-Lake, feel very deeply about this matter. There comes a time when we have to affirm our loyalties to Canada, recognizing that it is something above regional loyalty. We have to make it perfectly clear to the people of Quebec that they are an integral part of this concept of Canadian nationality, and that we are deeply concerned about their welfare. Our commitment to a united and vital Canada is clear.

Let us tell the people of Quebec that we believe in all these things. Let us also tell the people of Quebec that this commitment to Canada precludes any possibility of any kind of sovereignty-association, for that just would not be Canada.

8:20 p.m.

Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, we in the Liberal caucus will now proceed through a variety of areas which this debate will cover. I have the task to comment upon the opportunity which all Canadians have to bring a renewed federalism through the institutions available to us.

I believe we can learn from the experience of other federations, both successful and unsuccessful ones. We cannot simply copy the complex system of Switzerland or that of the United States and thereby hope to solve our problems. Those two systems are suited to the history, the culture and peoples of those nations, but in Canada we have special problems to resolve and we have a variety of characteristics which must be separately addressed.

The most particular point to remember, as we look around the world, is that Canada is a bilingual, multicultural federation governed by a parliamentary system. As a multicultural federation it differs from the United States and Australia since neither of those two nations is multicultural. Yet these three very large nations have some of the longest-lasting constitutional systems that exist. Switzerland is multicultural but it is not parliamentary. In some respects, Canada has more in common with some of the new Commonwealth nations, such as Nigeria, than some of the old dominions like Australia and New Zealand.

But how is this federalism to be defined in 1980? K. C. Wheare offered this definition of the US constitution of 1787: “By the federal principle, I mean the method of dividing powers so that the general and regional governments are each within a sphere co-ordinate and independent.”

But this leads to the view of dual federalism, while we are more practical now to see the need for an interdependent federalism. Within the federal system, dual federalism sees the federal and provincial governments as equal rivals. However, interdependent federalism views them primarily as equal partners.

Ronald L. Watts is the principal of Queen’s University. In the preparation of the Pepin-Robarts report he defined interdependent federalism as:

“The principle of political organization by which concurrent desires for territorial integration and diversity within a society are accommodated by the establishment of a single political system within which central and provincial government possess co-ordinate authority, such that neither level is legally or political subordinate to the other. Other forms of political systems may recognize or express elements of unity or diversity but make one level of government subordinate to the other.

“This statement modifies the traditional definition of federalism in three respects. First, political as well as legal relations between governments are relevant in determining co-ordinate status. Second, governments may be dependent on each other -- that is, interdependent -- so long as the dependence of one level of government on the other does not become so one-sided as to involve subordination. Third, the federal principle as stated may be expressed by a whole range of institutional arrangements suitable to different conditions and is not limited to one pure model.”

The definition is important, because Mr. Watts was to rely on it during the drafting of the Pepin-Robarts report. He wrote large sections of the report dealing with the federalist view, and many of the concepts he expressed have been picked up by Claude Ryan, the leader of the Quebec Liberal Party. The proposals for reform, which Mr. Ryan brings forward to a new Canadian federation, therefore follow in the continuous flow of ideas and materials from the Pepin-Robarts report and from those conferences and discussions which preceded that report.

We can see that the Canadian constitution of 1867 deviates somewhat from orthodox federalism, since some of its provisions clearly make the provincial government subordinate to the central government. In Canada, the central government has a number of overriding powers which give it the status of senior government. These include the emergency power, the declaratory power, the spending power, the powers of disallowance and reservation, and the power to appoint Lieutenants Governor.

The Pepin-Robarts commission said that both disallowance and reservation should be eliminated from the new Canadian constitution, and the proposals by Mr. Ryan do the same thing. We also agree with respect to the proposals of appointment of the Lieutenant Governor, and both agree that a central emergency power would have to remain in the constitution.

The residuary powers reside with states or provinces in most federations, rather than with the central government. Both the Pepin-Robarts approach and the Ryan proposals suggest that the provinces have this residuary power. Again, this is the kind of idea which must be thoroughly canvassed and discussed as we renew our federation.

All these changes would serve the same purpose in that they would eliminate any subordination of the provincial governments to the central government. In this approach, all these particular proposals are truly federal, and the changes as they develop would make the Canadian system more genuinely federal than it is now.

There can be no doubt that the Fathers of Confederation wanted a strong central government and that they deliberately designed the system where the central government had a dominant role. The Fathers of Confederation wanted to build a strong country, and they had just had the experience of the US Civil War to remind them of the dangers of excessive states rights.

But two points have to be made. First, Canadian federalism did not evolve as the Fathers of Confederation would have liked to see it. They wanted a basically unitary state, with the provinces having a minimum of power, and acting as little more than overgrown municipal governments. This did not happen, and we cannot try to tailor modern solutions to our problems based on the views and wishes expressed in 1867.

Second, there is no basis in fact for the theory that Canada was meant to he a confederacy, with provinces having a wide range of powers and the central government having only those powers that the provinces wanted to give it. While this theory has had some acceptance with certain people in Quebec, in my opinion it is not based on fact. Provincial rights have been strengthened over the years by several decisions of the judicial committee of the privy council.

The pendulum swung back to the federal government during the Second World War, but since then the provinces have all begun to reassess their traditional rights and to seek powers from Ottawa.

The period known as co-operative federalism saw the implementation of a number of joint federal-provincial programs such as medicare. Initially, the federal government remained more powerful than the provinces, and agreement to joint programs was forced, even if some of those programs upset the priorities of provincial governments.

However, the balances have shifted during the past 15 years. In recent years, very little progress has been made on a new division of constitutional powers between the central and provincial governments. Canadian federalism has been decentralized administratively by major changes in the fiscal and financial arrangements of the federation.

Since the early 1970s, we have seen the growth of executive federalism, the first ministers’ or the other ministers’ conferences producing the most recent agreements in the federal-provincial field. This executive federalism has had some positive effects, but it has also caused problems.

Ten years ago, the commission headed by Andre Laurendeau and Davidson Dunton warned that Canada had reached the greatest crisis in its history. In 1979, the Pepin-Robarts task force came to the same conclusion.

One problem is as old as the country itself, and that is the relationship between the two founding peoples, French-speaking and English-speaking Canadians. But there are other problems which have become just as serious. Regional discontent exists as well in western Canada and in the Maritimes.

8:30 p.m.

Ronald L. Watts, the principal of Queen’s University, to whom I have referred earlier, had analysed the types of strain that have operated in federations. He knows they all experience tensions, but it is to deal with those tensions that they have adopted a federal system. In addition, there is no single factor that can cause the disintegration of a federation.

The circumstances which led to the breakup of a federation vary, but in all cases political conflict has polarized so that eventually compromise seems impossible. There are various themes of strain, which include the evaporation of the original inducement of union as well as the original divergence of political demands. These tensions can be truly destructive if they are reinforced by variations in the ability of provinces to influence central politics.

There has been a constant problem in Canadian history. Since federation, Ontario has been perceived as the province which has the most influence on the central government and which derives the most benefits from the central government. It is not only the result of the fact that we in Ontario have the largest provincial population and that we have been the centre of industrial development in Canada. It is also a result of the fact that the national capital is in our province and that an unusually large proportion of the federal civil servants is made up of Ontarians.

The western provinces, with their smaller populations, have often felt powerless to influence major federal decisions. This feeling of alienation has grown in recent years as western economic power within the federation has increased.

Constitutionally, Canada is a federation, but its system of government was imported from a small, unitary state with powers centred on the executive, and there is no practical mechanism of regional brokerage.

The Senate was supposed to represent regional interests, but it has failed, because it is appointed by the federal government, rather than by the provinces whose interests it is supposed to define. Indeed, the representation within Ontario of members of the Senate has not in any way balanced the varied interests within our province.

The region of Waterloo alone has sufficient population to have a member of the Senate represent us. Those persons living to the west, along Lake Huron, should also make a claim for a senator. The population of London is large enough to demand that kind of representation. The areas of Brant and Haldimand and Norfolk should also make a claim in that regard. Therefore, in my part of western Ontario alone, where perhaps four or five senators should represent regional interests within the province, there is no one.

It is not always easy to remember the areas from which senators in Ontario come. But it is certainly easy to know where they don’t flourish. The regional brokerage which should take place within political parties, or in the federal cabinet, also has strains because of the representation of the two parties in parts of the country other than in their own home areas.

The Senate has failed to provide the balance of interests within the province and within the nation.

As well, the secondary institution has proven inadequate; that is, the federal-provincial ministers’ conferences. These conferences of Premiers or of particular cabinet ministers have emerged almost as an institution. However, they do not seem to be permanent, because they have no constitutional basis. They operate almost completely outside of the democratic system, and they put a premium on confrontation rather than on accommodation.

We recognize the need as well to move into the themes of official languages and the constitutional protection of language rights. We recognize that changes must occur in the structures and duties of the Supreme Court of Canada. We recognize that regional groupings of provinces or areas, with some interests in population, can bring better balance to the growth of our nation.

I need not repeat to the Ontario public the historic development of constitutional change in Canada. The point is only to remind our people, and the people of Quebec particularly, that we have an opportunity to work together to renew our federalism. In my view, the best guarantee of the traditions, language and culture in Quebec is to have that province remain fully in Canada.

Our fellow Canadians in the Maritimes and in western Canada also have desires and demands for change. Most of the proposals for changes show that a constitution will have to have guarantees of basic individual, political and language rights. In addition, a new division of powers designed to eliminate overlapping areas of jurisdiction must occur, and in that occurrence the powers of the province will increase. As well, a reform of the centre institutions to which I have referred will bring more provincial input into the decision-making process.

By working together, we can all plan to become first-class citizens wherever we live in Canada. My background is neither French nor English. The community I represent was first settled in the 1790s by large numbers of Pennsylvania German settlers and then those artisans and craftsmen who came directly from Germany. The community was called Berlin until 1916, when it became Kitchener.

Our community has grown to include groups from nearly every country of the world. We have kept some of our German heritage but only as a base from which to grow in Canada and to which to welcome our fellow Canadians and our many tourist visitors. We, who are neither French or English, call upon the two founding races, with the native peoples, to remember the strengths which our one third of the Canadian population brings to this country.

Last evening, many saw the program on the liberation of Amsterdam in 1945. I found it important to listen to Canadian servicemen tell of their experiences and doing so in both French and English. My involvement with the Canadian forces goes back for the past 24 years. I have served in many parts of Canada and have met and worked with many French-speaking officers and men.

My interests also happen to involve the Order of St. John and St. John Ambulance, an organization which spans the nation, and voluntary persons support those services in both languages, English and French. Another interest I have is in a particular group that the member for St. David and I share. That is the Order of St. Lazarus, the purposes of which are ecumenical, bilingual and committed to national unity.

We are all in Canada to build a better nation than now exists. As the motion before us says, “We support full negotiation of a new constitution to satisfy the diverse aspirations of all Canadians and to replace the ‘status quo’ which is clearly unacceptable.”

To the people of Quebec, who will cast their ballots on May 20, I can only say: “Work with us. Do not be deceived by the snare of sovereignty-association. Together we can go on to a greater future in a land which is more blessed by beauty, resources and the skills of our people than is any other on the face of the planet.”

Mr. Breaugh: Monsieur le Président, je voudrais dire quelques mots à mes amis du Québec. Je parle français avec l’accent de M. Diefenbaker, mais j’espère qu’ils sauront me pardonner si je me fais mal comprendre. Je crois que les Québécois ne décideront pas de leur avenir et du mien à la légère.

Je comprends qu’ils tiennent avant tout à s’exprimer avec fierté et à satisfaire les besoins qui leur sont propres. Je crois qu’ils y parviendront mieux dans le contexte d’un nouveau Canada. Ce débat historique à l’Assemblée législative de l’Ontario devrait être le signe évident pour nos frères et soeurs du Québec, et de tout le Canada, que les Ontariens sont prêts à forger une nouvelle constitution et à bâtir un meilleur Canada.

Les Québécois ont sans doute perçu ce besoin avant nous. Sans doute peuvent-ils définir plus clairement leurs propres espoirs et aspirations s’il s’agit maintenant de négocier une nouvelle constitution et un nouveau Canada. En Ontario, on prend à nouveau conscience des immenses possibilités qui s’offrent ici à tous les Canadiens. On reconnaît les fautes passées et les grandes promesses de l’avenir.

En ce mois de mai, la population du Québec va exprimer son opinion par référendum comme j’exprime la mienne par ce discours. Ce sont là les premiers pas sur un chemin long et difficile. Que ces deux événements soient perçus comme des facteurs positifs lorsque nous poursuivrons le débat à d’autres tribunes.

Puisse-t-on voir que nos différences sont aussi nos points forts. Puissent nos besoins communs nous unir devant la tâche qui nous attend. Bâtissons une nouvelle constitution et un nouveau Canada et faisons-le ensemble.

8:40 p.m.

This country has much to be ashamed of. In our history of more than a century, we have still not resolved the rights of our native people or their claims. In our history, we still have not resolved the problem of two official languages. Francophones in this province are aware of federal legislation saying we have two official languages. They are also well aware in this province, as in others, that it is difficult on occasion to get those rights put into practice.

There are also a great many minority groups in our country these days that have listened to federal and provincial politicians talk about a policy of multiculturalism and are well aware there are difficulties in their own community in teaching their sons or daughters their own languages and traditions. We very often talk a good game, but we very often have problems putting those into practice.

For a social democrat like myself, the greatest single failure of this nation is to look at the wealth of the resources which this country has, to look at the kind of economic potential which this country could have and to realize the failure which is there; to realize that, after better than 100 years of operation, we still do not have control of our own resources and of our own economy.

One only has to go to an industrial place like Oshawa, where I come from, and look at the job opportunities which are there in normal times and the economic benefits which are here and compare those to the ones one finds in the outports of Newfoundland. There is a world of difference.

One could look to the western part of this country -- and the alienation is heavy in the air in the western part of this country -- and see the western Premiers say to the rest of the country they have finally begun to deal with this matter of resources, resource policies and oil prices. One even sees in some of the legislatures in the western part of the country members of those legislatures talking about some kind of union with the United States of America.

If one looks to the east, one will see in Quebec a severe threat of a new nation emerging different to the existing arrangements now in place. If one goes to the Maritimes, one will find people who are more interested in the Boston Red Sox than they are in either the Blue Jays or that ball team in Montreal.

I believe in a federal system of government. I have had the opportunity to go from one end of this nation to the other in my little camper. I have felt the feelings one sees in different parts of the country. I have felt the alienation of the west and the problems that are there and in other parts of this country. I don’t believe it could be governed by anything other than a federal system. It requires that.

I think the problem is that there are some difficulties in making the current federal system relevant to the people it is supposed to serve. In my view, any form of government that does not provide individual citizens with some rationale, some clear understanding that that particular organizational mode of government makes sense to them and makes some difference in their individual lives, is one that is found wanting, and that is precisely where I find us now.

In part, this has to do with our institutions and our electoral techniques. I find a great many people in my own area and across the country want to have a slightly altered form of electoral process. They are talking a great deal these days of some kind of proportional representation, which is an idea I support, not that it is without its sins but then, as a matter of fact, neither is the current system, which we call the first-past-the-post system. That means most of the members in the federal Parliament have the support of less than 50 per cent of their constituents.

Other countries in the world use the proportional representation formula in different ways, but essentially it means taking a percentage of the popular vote across the country and setting up a second body or integrating it and allocating the members that way.

It has been my feeling for some time, and it is shared by a number of my colleagues, that if the Canadian Senate ever did serve a useful purpose in the history of this country, it has outlived its usefulness.

A number of people who are investigating proposals for constitutional change now are suggesting some form of a second House. I do not support any kind of an upper tier to the House of Commons. I do support the concept of a parallel House. I think it would be quite possible to set it up with 100 members and have those members appointed by proportional representation.

I would see no difficulty in having those members interact with the House of Commons. For example, they could be present for question period; they could function as ministers; and they could function as party leaders. The only caveat I would put on this in personal terms is that I do not believe they should have a vote in the Commons. That is simply a compromise or a blend situation that I believe in, representing the two roles that members of parliaments have, first to represent a constituency and second to represent a political party or a school of political thought.

I also think part of our problem is that we have left the decisions and the writing of papers to a rather select and elite group of people. We have so far used primarily the mechanism of the first ministers’ conferences.

I think it a dangerous business to leave the future of this country to the Premiers, to the Prime Minister, to the bureaucrats, and to the academics. I believe we must find means of involving the citizens in having their say, in voicing opinions, in saying yes or no, in looking at options that might be available. I am not prepared to leave that to some small elite group of people who may design a very fine theoretical model but which may not have anything to do with the needs of our citizens.

I think it quite possible to put together a series of constitutional conventions which would bring together people from all walks of life. I suppose members of Parliament and people from legislatures across the country could participate in this process as well.

I believe the first ministers’ conferences are useful tools, but I believe those should be attended by all-party delegations. There is a whole level of government which now is the prime provider of services, that is, municipal government -- which is not even there. I think those things must be enlarged and embellished because, quite frankly, every one of us now admits the first ministers’ conferences are a kind of showpiece. If it were not accompanied by little lunches here and there and late dinners over there, and a couple of backroom meetings over here, no one could say what they want because, for example, there is considerable political risk for the Premier of Ontario to sit down at a table with the camera glaring and say exactly what he thinks.

I think those first ministers’ conferences ought to continue on a more regular basis, but there ought to ‘be more people there. There ought to be all-party delegations and at least the municipal governments in this country ought to be represented at them.

The constitutional conference convention idea sounds like a rather preposterous notion when one runs it by the first time, but we do that for trade unions, for business associations, for political parties and for professional associations. It strikes me this also warrants that gathering of a large percentage of the population and letting them meet. Even if it were only for five or six days a couple of times a year, over the next two or three years, one could build towards a consensus document.

I believe the final result of that particular exercise ought to be a referendum on the clear issues of a new constitution. It is not too practical to put it all on a ballot, but I think it would be possible to put the principles down and have the people of this country say, “Yes, that is what I would like to have,” or “No, that is not acceptable to me.”

It goes back to my original premise that the people of this country must see some value in a change in the constitution. They must also agree with whatever changes are made in institutions, in the delegation of responsibilities and in the delegation of powers. The current Prime Minister has said that by 1981 he would like to have a new constitution. I don’t believe anybody feels that is quite possible just now, but by the mid-1980s, before the next federal election, with a regular series of first ministers’ conferences expanded in their size and their role, and with a regular series of constitutional conventions, I believe we could work out a consensus document. I believe we could have a clear choice put before the people of Canada in which they could express their own opinions.

I imagine most members have followed the referendum activity in Quebec in the last few days. Undeniably, they have proven that some things which we in this House perhaps thought were very dry subjects indeed -- matters having to do with the future of our country, of our province, of our own personal family -- are matters which people can understand and which people have no difficulty at all in forming opinions upon.

8:50 p.m.

I have watched with great interest the referendum debate in Quebec. That debate takes place in the National Assembly and in the formal meetings that are held; it also takes place in church basements, in line-ups for buses and in bars and restaurants. Any place where people gather now they are talking about their future and what their choice will be, and I think it is quite possible and quite practical that could happen throughout Canada.

This country has great potential. My family came here not in a very distinguished way. My ancestors came from Ireland, not by choice, but simply to avoid a famine. When they left Ireland, in the mountains of Wicklow, they didn’t own the land they worked or the cottage they lived in; that belonged to an English landlord. They didn’t exactly come here first class, either; they got here in cattle boats. Many of them died of the plague on the way over, and more of them died and were buried on islands in the middle of the St. Lawrence when they got here.

Those who did survive walked from Kingston to what at that time was the farthest western parish, called Camden, and there they settled down amid the rocks, which looked very much like Wicklow.

In the wintertime the men went off to the shanty and cut logs, and in the spring they drove those logs down the Madawaska. For the remainder of the year they tried to keep their families alive on a farm. For the most part the women ran the farm, because the men were away somewhere else working. For many of us there has been a real change in that, although many of us have parents who came here under similar kinds of circumstances. Changes take place gradually.

I grew up in a small town in eastern Ontario called Napanee. In the middle of the summer things got a little dull in Napanee, but around about July 12 each year things really spruced up. There was a great parade, the pickup trucks came into town, there were guys with pipes and drums and there were flags and banners. It was quite exciting, more exciting than anything else we had to look at those days. The guy across the road from us used to ride this magnificent white horse, and he borrowed my brother’s shin pads every year so that he wouldn’t hurt his knees. That made me and my family part of this great parade as well.

In the middle of the afternoon they went to the fair grounds. I don’t understand why, but they forgot to invite the Catholics. It didn’t bother us, though. We knew the fair grounds well and we simply slipped into the back of the fair grounds and we listened to great speeches about the Papists. We didn’t know who the Papists were, but we sure found out what a bad lot they were.

As I got a little older and we started to go out with girls, I found out that in Napanee there were some girls whose parents said to them: “No, you can’t go out with Catholics. We’re sorry.” Neither the girls nor the boys in Napanee really understood that. But in those days if your parents said no, the answer was no. When I got a little older I found out there were some jobs I couldn’t apply for. Not only didn’t I understand that, but I didn’t like it either.

I don’t think my children are ever going to see that kind of prejudice in their lifetimes. I think those changes have occurred in Canada, substantive changes. My grandfather was illiterate; he couldn’t read or write a word of English or French. My father had for his time what was considered to be a normal education; he went to grade six. I was the first member of my family to get into post-secondary education. I think my children have options open to them which my grandparents and their children didn’t even think about.

There is the potential for change in this country which is not prevalent in the rest of the world and, although we have lots of faults and there are lots of things that are wrong about Canada, there are also lots of things which are very right about Canada.

One of the things that came to my attention as I read Maclean’s magazine and several other Canadian publications was that Canadians are supposed to have no culture. On Saturday afternoon, from the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, I watched a group of young people. I was watching, quite frankly, because there was a Dixieland band from Central High School in Oshawa that was participating in a competition. Not only did I see them win their little competition, which was nationwide, but I watched the remainder of the program as well, and I saw young people from across this country performing modern music in a variety of forms, technically very good. These young people don’t seem to understand that Canadians are not supposed to have a culture of their own.

In terms of cultural development we have gone from having token individuals who are extremely good and well to having a wide variety of people who don’t accept the old myth that Canadians can’t be good at a number of things.

In every sports arena you go into, every hockey rink, every playing field, every swimming pool, you will find young Canadians who do not accept what their mothers and fathers accept. They are challenging the world, and they are succeeding. Last summer I had the opportunity to visit one of my favourite parts of Canada, Cape Breton, and I found something that was near and dear to my heart. There is a Gaelic college there. I am Irish, and we have pretty well lost our language here and even in Ireland. I found a Gaelic college, sponsored and operated by Scots from Cape Breton. Throughout Cape Breton I found people who had retained their culture and their language and were developing new and very good art forms.

Canada has potential in almost any field one could name. In the resource sector, if we ever got our act together, if we ever planned our economy and made it a truly Canadian economy, we would have job potential. If we ever set our minds to it, as other countries in the world have done, and planned that economy, if we were able to clarify between the public and the private sector who is best equipped to do what, if we could do those things, this nation would offer to the individual citizen a chance to do something that few countries in the world can do.

The people of this nation, perhaps because it is sometimes a little harsh and perhaps because it is not always an easy place to live, tend to thrive on adversity. I do not like to use those words because they have connotations which in other situations I am not very happy with. But the plain fact of life for many people who live in this country, in the northern part of the province and even in the middle of our large cities, is that they have the opportunity to break out of what in other countries of the world would be considered to be almost a caste system.

Part of our tragedy is very simply that we have never allowed them to do that, and part of our great potential is very simply that the potential is still there. An act of will could make the government of Ontario, the government of Canada and the constitution of Canada relevant to its own citizens. It could change the lives and the futures of each and every person whom we represent in this House and whom other parliamentarians represent all across the country.

In other words, the challenge is clearly there. The mechanisms are clearly there. The potential is dearly there. The challenge is for the people of Canada, for the members of this Legislature, for the members of our federal Parliament, to see if we can finally put together that matching game between the potential of a great nation and the ability of its people and its politicians to design a system that works, is rational and is sensitive to the needs of its people.

Mr. Belanger: Monsieur le Président, c’est pour moi un honneur, un grand privilège, et un grand plaisir, de parler aujourd’hui sur ce sujet qui est d’une si extrême importance. L’avenir de notre pays est une chose qui nous concerne tous. Non seulement en tant que citoyens d’un grand pays, mais en tant qu’individus et que parents. Je veux que mes enfants éprouvent le même sentiment et la même fierté que moi, quand je dis “Je suis Canadien”. Je veux qu’ils puissent être fiers de leur pays -- un pays qui s’étend entre les deux puissants océans et les mers glacées du Nord. Un pays assez grand pour présenter les reliefs les plus divers. Un pays dont les habitants et les traditions sont si variés qu’on pourrait le qualifier de monde en miniature.

C’est là le Canada que je connais. C’est là le Canada que je veux léguer à mes enfants. J’aimerais maintenant partager quelques idées avec vous sur le présent et l’avenir de notre pays. Je suis Franco-Ontarien.

Cela signifie que je suis un Canadien francophone qui vit dans une province dont la langue dominante est l’anglais. J’ai également passé la plus grande partie de ma vie dans l’est de l’Ontario, dans la région des comtés de Prescott-Russell et de Carleton.

Les Franco-Ontariens comme moi sont nombreux dans ces comtés. En fait, plus de 80% des habitants de ma circonscription ont le français pour langue maternelle.

Prescott-Russell compte parmi les plus vieux établissements de l’Ontario.

Son histoire est celle de la province et il partage les traditions qui ont façonné notre pays tout entier.

9 p.m.

Ce sont d’abord l’explorateur français Champlain, puis les coureurs des bois qui ont été les premiers à pénétrer dans les forêts qui couvraient autrefois notre pays. Ils ont été suivis par les colons écossais et irlandais, les Curran, les Hammonds et les Maloch, qui brulèrent les forêts, procédèrent à l’arpentage, labourèrent la terre et l’ensemencèrent, et se joignirent aux pionniers français qui les avaient précédés dans les collectivités telles Clarence Creek, Lefaivre, Bourget, St. Bernardin et Vankleek, Alfred l’Orignal, pour n’en nommer que quelques-unes.

Ma circonscription est aussi une communauté agricole, dont la croissance et le développement sont le résultat des efforts conjoints des colons francophones et anglophones. Et pour nous rappeler davantage encore que ce coin du pays a été développé au début par les efforts des deux peuples, elle est flanquée d’un côté par la rivière des Outaouais -- l’ancienne route des explorateurs et des voyageurs -- voie naturelle vers l’intérieur du pays et un pont entre la province de l’Ontario et la province du Québec.

Monsieur le Président, je ne suis pas un spécialiste des questions constitutionnelles, et je n’ai pas non plus étudié pendant des années l’histoire du Canada. Je ne puis que laisser parler mon coeur. Je ne puis qu’exposer le point de vue unique que j’ai acquis en grandissant dans ce coin de l’est de l’Ontario. Je ne puis que m’exprimer en mon nom et en celui des habitants de Prescott-Russell que je représente,

Dans le passé, les relations entre les deux populations de part et d’autre de la rivière des Outaouais, n’étaient peut-être pas des plus chaleureuses, mais elles étaient cordiales. Chaque collectivité restait autonome, mais les affaires se traitaient librement par dessus la rivière et nous pouvions toujours compter sur nos voisins en cas de besoin. Il arrivait que des Québécois épousent des jeunes filles de notre région, surtout la région de Hawkesbury. Ils ont vite découvert qu’ils pouvaient être heureux dans une province comme l’Ontario, ou une province anglophone. Le français est couramment utilisé dans Prescott-Russell, dans les cours de justice et la politique locale. Les Canadiens francophones peuvent se sentir chez eux dans ma circonscription.

Malheureusement, ces bons rapports entre les deux collectivités de part et d’autre de la rivière des Outaouais n’ont pas duré. Au lieu de rester un pont favorisant le commerce et l’amitié, la rivière est aujourd’hui une barrière entre les deux provinces. Les bonnes relations d’antan ne sont plus.

Monsieur le Président, il n’est plus possible aujourd’hui aux hommes d’affaires de Prescott-Russell de se joindre à des entreprises au Québec. Il semble que notre aide et nos connaissances ne soient plus appréciées.

En tant que Canadien, je trouve cette situation affligeante. Je ne crois pas qu’il faille restreindre le libre flot des affaires dans notre pays. Je crois que les frontières de nos provinces doivent être libres et ouvertes à tous les Canadiens. Que chaque province doit partager avec tous ce qu’elle a à offrir et qu’aucune province du Canada n’est indépendante des autres et uniquement responsable d’elle-même.

Nous sommes tous voisins dans ce pays et les actions de chacun se répercutent sur les autres.

C’est pourquoi, Monsieur le Président, les discussions actuelles sur la séparation, la séparation partielle et le régionalisme accru, sont pour moi inconcevables. Comment peut-on penser à faire éclater un pays qui fonctionne de façon aussi harmonieuse? Comment peut-on détruire, penser à détruire le produit de plus de 110 ans de dur travail de la part de ceux qui nous ont précédés?

En vérité, comment peut-on être assez insensible pour travailler à la chute d’un pays aussi fort que le nôtre, dont le succès est indéniable?

Notre pays n’est pas le résultat d’un peuplement unique; il ne s’est pas non plus développé dans le vide. Le Canada est un héritage partagé. C’est quelque chose qui appartient à chacun de nous, et à quoi chacun de nous appartient.

Personnellement, je sens très fortement que je fais partie de cet héritage commun. L’arbre généalogique de ma famille remonte très loin en arrière et couvre l’histoire canadienne dans sa totalité jusqu’au milieu du 17e siècle, époque où mes premiers ancêtres se sont installés dans la région de Beauport au Québec.

Depuis ce temps-là, la famille a crû et s’est multipliée. On en trouve des rejetons dans tout le Canada, occupés à des emplois divers. Nous faisons toujours partie du patrimoine vivant de ce pays.

Nombreuses sont les familles qui, comme la mienne, se sont employées ensemble à façonner l’existence enviable dont nous sommes tous les héritiers aujourd’hui. Les Canadiens ont à leur porte tout ce qu’il faut pour aspirer à une existence encore meilleure. Il se peut que nous vivions dans des pièces séparées, mais nous avons tous investi dans cette maison. Voulons-nous ou pouvons-nous sans remords voir éclater le toit commun?

Est-ce que les choses qui semblent nous diviser exigent que soient rompus les liens qui, depuis tant d’années, nous unissent en un seul pays?

Sommes-nous réellement à bout de ressources? Qui dit chirurgie ne dit pas nécessairement amputation.

Je me souviens avoir fêté la Saint-Jean-Baptiste quand j’étais enfant, non seulement dans la province du Québec, mais aussi dans les régions de l’Ontario. Ii n’était pas rare à cette occasion de voir anglophones et francophones, la main dans la main, prendre une part active aux célébrations.

Ce témoignage de fraternité entre hommes et femmes de cultures différentes est quelque chose dont je ne me lasse pas d’être le témoin. Et j’y trouve un grand réconfort. Et cela renforce ma conviction qu’il nous est absolument nécessaire de rester ensemble dans un pays uni.

Monsieur le Président, sans doute il nous faut agir pour sauver le Canada. Mais je ne suis pas d’accord avec ceux qui disent que la seule façon de résoudre nos problèmes est d’avoir recours à des mesures extrêmes et dramatiques. Il nous faut négocier. Il faut discuter sérieusement pour pouvoir nous comprendre parfaitement les uns et les autres.

Je crois que des discussions sensées, sensibles et bien documentées, feront beaucoup plus pour résoudre les problèmes que des accusations violentes, des menaces et des injures.

Je me félicite que le gouvernement de l’Ontario ait choisi la voie de négociation, plutôt que celle des représailles, pour tenter de réduire les tensions actuelles au sein de la Confédération. Aussi, je crois que le fédéralisme renouvelé est la seule mesure envisageable face aux extrémistes qui préconisent l’irrémédiable.

Nous entendons beaucoup parler de fédéralisme renouvelé, Monsieur le Président, et le sens de l’expression risque de varier suivant la personne qui l’emploie. Quand je parle de fédéralisme renouvelé, j’entends une redistribution des pouvoirs au sein de la Confédération, avec peut-être un accroissement des responsabilités confiées aux provinces, particulièrement en ce qui concerne les affaires sociales et communautaires.

9:10 p.m.

Par certains côtés, la souveraineté-association ressemble plutôt à un projet visant à la redistribution des responsabilités. Toutefois, à mon avis, il est un peu trop exigeant. En outre, aucune province ne peut agir seule; personne ne peut prendre position une fois pour toutes et refuser de bouger. Les négociations doivent se poursuivre et toutes les possibilités doivent être explorées.

Monsieur le Président, il me faut parler franchement sur le sujet car nous n’avons déjà que trop attendu. Le moment d’agir est arrivé et ce pays a besoin d’une direction solide pour faire face aux questions fondamentales qui nous divisent et redécouvrir toutes les bonnes choses qui nous unissent et font de nous tous des Canadiens.

Monsieur le Président, il nous faut une direction plus nette de la part du gouvernement fédéral. II nous faut plus que des mots, plus que d’aimables platitudes, plus que de la rhétorique. Il nous faut des plans d’action concrets. Il nous faut une charte constitutionnelle revitalisée et remise à jour.

Il s’est trouvé des gens pour dire que la séparation du Québec ne signifierait guère qu’une révision de nos cartes de géographie, une ligne noire supplémentaire marquant les frontières du Québec.

Je pense qu’il est dangereux de prendre à la légère l’impact que le retrait du Québec du Canada aurait sur tous les Canadiens. Dans la situation actuelle, je ne pense pas qu’il soit possible de compter ou de mesurer toutes les conséquences qu’un tel changement de nos structures nationales aurait sur nos vies quotidiennes.

Beaucoup d’entre nous sont d’avis qu’une telle action de la part des Québécois aurait pour résultat de fermer les portes et les esprits et de raidir les attitudes. Cela jetterait une ombre sur les projets faits jusqu’ici dans les relations entre nos deux peuples fondateurs.

Je veux voir se rétablir les liens cordiaux que reliaient autrefois les deux berges de la rivière des Outaouais, qui unissaient Prescott-Russell et le rivage québécois. Il serait tragique pour nos populations et pour notre pays de voir s’établir des postes de douane et des bureaux d’immigration de part et d’autre de la rivière. Cela signifierait que rien de ce que nous entendons maintenant par les termes Canada et Canadien n’aurait le même sens.

Et la rivière des Outaouais, depuis si longtemps occasion de commerce, d’exploration et d’amitié, deviendrait source de crainte et de soupçon. La tradition, l’héroïsme et l’amitié associés à ses eaux perdraient tout leur sons si on laissait la séparation et le régionalisme suivre leurs cours logique jusqu’à sa triste conclusion.

Monsieur le Président, on ne cite pas souvent Lomer Gouin parmi les premiers ministres du Québec. Toutefois, en terminant je désire le citer sur l’un des messages délivrés il y a déjà 75 ans. Et je cite: “Quand je contemple notre immense territoire, quand j’admire nos vieilles provinces avec tous leurs riches souvenirs historiques, quand je vois ce à quoi hier a donné naissance, des prairies aux forêts sauvages riches d’avenir, je suis fier de porter le nom de Canadien, fier de mon pays, le Canada”.

Mr. Epp: Mr. Speaker, this debate is a curious event. One hundred and twenty-four MPPs, the elected representatives of some 8.5 million Ontarians, will, over the next four days, discuss the future of Canada.

Although the debate is clearly occasioned by the forthcoming Quebec referendum, it will likely have little effect on how that referendum will turn out. We in Ontario may be powerless to affect that vote. Yet we will be deeply affected by what happens there.

The idea of sovereignty-association is a painful one for us, because we know it means separation. To accept Mr. Levesque’s idea of sovereignty-association would be to accept the end of a united Canada and to look instead to something like united kingdoms of Canada. I hope and pray it does not come to this.

I believe the grievances and problems of Quebec can be dealt with in a united Canada. I believe that our federal government is capable of readjustment. Along with my colleagues in this House, I am ready to begin that process of renewing federalism.

I support the resolution. I hope Quebec votes no. If Quebec were to secede, half of Canada’s cultural memory would be wiped out, and I feel this would be tragic.

Mr. Levesque’s proposal for sovereignty- association has had one benefit. It is forcing Canadians to consider fundamental questions about the future of this nation. There is a consensus in this country that our present constitution needs to be changed. There seems to be widespread agreement that the existing system is over centralized and over complex. The challenge to this House presented by the separation movement in Quebec is to find ways of improving our federal structure of government so that all regions will feel they benefit from a united Canada.

As a former mayor looking at the possibility of reforming Canada’s constitution, and as my party’s municipal affairs critic, I wish to focus on the municipal perspective: the role of municipal government and some of the options for change.

Local government in Canada is often lavished with praise. it is portrayed as the level of government closest to the people, the level that offers the greatest opportunity for access to participation in decision-making, the level that is most responsive to the need of citizens and most efficient in developing services and delivering services.

Every member of this House undoubtedly has made speeches arguing that local government must be kept strong because it is so democratic, efficient and effective. But the gap between the rhetoric and the reality is gigantic. The reality is that local governments are creatures of the provinces, legally subordinate to the provincial government by the British North America Act. Municipalities have neither the money nor the power to deal with urban problems. They are tied to a regressive, inelastic revenue Source, and their dependence on transfers from the senior levels of government is increasing, not decreasing.

Shared-cost programs continue to distort priorities and add red tape to an already over complicated intergovernmental system and process. They have no ability to control the spending of school boards, to whom they are required to hand over half of the revenues they collect. They cannot set spending priorities for other local boards which receive direct grants from the province, such as children’s aid societies and public health boards.

Their powers are set out in municipal acts, which often run on for hundreds of pages and spell out precisely what they can do and, by omission, what they cannot do. The slightest change, even to change from using iron to aluminium wastebaskets, must be authorized by amending the Municipal Act. Virtually every citizen -- even in some areas the putting up of a stop sign -- must be approved by the provincial government.

A recent example, Bill 45, illustrated how preposterous the situation is. A special act of the Legislature had to be passed so that the city of Toronto could make a grant to the heirs of Tom Longboat, who won the Boston Marathon back in 1907. Nor can municipalities subdelegate; that is, assign even the most minor decisions to local officials, as do the federal and provincial governments.

9:20 p.m.

There is no need to belabour the point. The inability of the property tax to finance present urban expenditure responsibilities is a fact of which we are all aware. Similarly, the fact that municipal governments as creatures of the province can only exercise the powers and discharge responsibilities delegated to them by a provincial government is a basic restraint with which we are all familiar.

The question as we look ahead to a renewed federalism for Canada is, do we think the situation should change, or do we want to keep municipalities as creatures of the provinces, caretaker governments with little freedom of action and financially dependent on transfers from above? Personally, I feel the outlook for local autonomy is bleak unless we, as provincial politicians, decide to champion municipalities and work to change the situation.

If one looks at the events of the past 10 years, one can only arrive at a pessimistic conclusion. In the last 10 years, we have witnessed the rise and fall of a movement to strengthen municipal government in this country.

All honourable members will recall the efforts of the tri-level movement to win increased status and independence for local government as a level of government in its own right. Municipalities entered into the tri-level conferences back in the early 1970s with high hopes. They hoped for more consultation in intergovernmental process. They hoped for a better revenue deal.

At the first tri-level conference held here in Toronto in 1972, municipalities felt pleased to secure a place at the conference table. The following year in Edmonton, the agreement to set up the task force on public finance was seen as a genuine step towards the real goal of discussing revenue sharing. Then in April 1976, the report of the task force, known as the Deutsch report, was released, and the figures seemed to prove that local governments were greatly underfinanced, as they had claimed for years.

By August 1976, the movement was dead and the long-promised third tri-level conference was never held. Do members know why that conference was never held? It was because the provincial ministers decided not to attend a third national tri-level conference. So much for the years of effort to establish and entrench the process of tri-level consultation.

In our own province, a regional government program launched as part of the Design for Development was filled with rhetoric about strengthening local government in Ontario. While there have been a few minor gains in terms of increased responsibilities delegated to municipal governments by the province, most notably the power to approve plans of subdivisions delegated to certain regional governments, municipal governments have not been strengthened. They are not playing a more meaningful role in regulating their own affairs.

The failure to strengthen municipal autonomy is clearest if one looks at the history of municipal finance. The story of the Edmonton commitment is a sad story. We have had a decade of rhetoric. We had a commitment, back in October 1973, where there seemed to be some hope, and we have seen this commitment eroded through revisions and reinterpretations. Where are municipalities now? Right back where they started from, still talking about the possibility of developing a new mechanism for transfer payments to replace the Edmonton commitment.

It is not only past events that lead me to question the prospects for the future. Although we, as provincial politicians, talk about flexibility and the need for each community to be able to respond to local needs, we also feel a responsibility to provide for equal treatment for people all over this province and to provide for equality of opportunity, which means there must be limits to local autonomy. It is this concern about equality of opportunity which undoubtedly contributes to an ambivalence about local autonomy. I hope this debate forces us to confront this ambivalence we feel

If we are going to give municipalities a new deal within a renewed federalism, we are going to have to face up to this ambivalence. The pressures will be pushing in the opposite direction. For instance, we know we are going to have more old people in society and so we are going to have to spend more on social services for the elderly and for health care.

The property tax, a relatively inelastic source of taxation, will become increasingly less able to pay for the kinds of services that people need. Since the health-care system is a provincial responsibility, we can see that the province will become more, not less, important as a service provider.

If we believe in all the values we attribute to local government, and if we believe our own rhetoric about the need for increased status for local government, it is we who will have to make the decision to loosen the reins with which we now control local government actions.

The present constitution was created in a pre-urban context. I believe that modern municipal governments require a new financial basis and perhaps even a new constitutional framework. As part of constitutional reform, I believe we have to consider the possibility of redefining existing relationships and responsibilities.

Former Premier John Robarts once called Ontario the golden hinge of Confederation. While some might interpret that to mean Ontario has dominated the nation by virtue of its size, position and economic power, others interpret it to mean Ontario has benefited most, politically and economically, from a united Canada. I prefer to think of us as the golden hinge in an unselfish and positive sense, that of opening the door to a united Canada, strengthened by a renewed federalism.

To fulfil this role, we in Ontario must take the lead in developing a new climate of cooperation between all governments, municipal as well as federal and provincial, as part of a new vision of Canada.

Ms. Bryden: Mr. Speaker, one of the speakers on the other side likened this debate rather ostentatiously to the work of the Fathers of Confederation. If his perception is valid, perhaps he should have described it as the work of the fathers and the mothers of Confederation.

I am participating in this debate because I am a Canadian who thinks that it is vitally important to keep our country together. Decisions of this sort are more often made with the heart than with the head. Cold economic facts are brushed aside or end up in a limbo of conflicting estimates and assumptions, but if we want to keep our country together, we have to indicate a deeper understanding of Quebec’s heart than we have in the past.

We have to recognize that Quebecois are Canadians like us who have helped to build this country for more than 300 years. While a majority of them speak a different language and have a different cultural tradition, they are Canadians and have helped to make Canada the country we are proud of.

We have always recognized regional and cultural diversity in this country. We must not be afraid of diversity or insist that our society be monolithic in either language or its governmental arrangements within the federation. At the same time, we all want a strong Canadian identity, a strong Canada that can deal with the very serious economic and social problems facing this country today. It must also be a Canada that can deal adequately with growing international problems.

9:30 p.m.

We have to realize that any cultural group has an abiding desire to maintain its cultural heritage.

Where there is a very large cultural group, it expects to express its identity in a society that is largely operated and developed by its own members. I hope we can accommodate that expectation of the Quebecois within Canada.

Many Quebecois, we know, consider the May 20 referendum as part of a negotiating exercise to obtain this kind of recognition and accommodation. They may support it for this reason. Others regard it as a step towards a specific kind of separation. Regardless of the outcome of the referendum, I believe all Canadians must be prepared to enter into discussions on the reshaping of our country after the referendum. But the agenda for these discussions must be much broader than constitutional reform.

I do concede that we need constitutional reform. We do need to find a more satisfactory way to amend our constitution. We do need to eliminate obsolete items like the disallowance power which has fallen into disuse. We may need to give the provinces additional powers in some fields, such as the treaty-making area, where matters under provincial jurisdiction are involved.

Before we start to tinker with the division of powers in the constitution or to move towards greater decentralization, we have to look at the nature of most of the current disputes between Ottawa and the provinces. In the case of Quebec, its historical distrust of central power has been an all-encompassing determination to protect and foster the distinctive culture of a largely homogeneous French community surrounded by a vast anglophone continental expanse.

For the anglophone provinces, the disputes have almost always been political and have boiled down usually to the question of money. It is not additional powers they have sought so much as the means to carry out their current responsibilities and the opportunity to do it in their own way. Because of this distinction, perhaps we should be looking at a more flexible constitution which will accommodate both these kinds of disputes and put an end to them.

Possibly we should be considering a division of powers which would allow a province to assume additional fields without financial penalty. This could be along the lines of the opting-out formula adopted in the Pearson era. The option would be available to any province which wanted to assume the burdens of administering additional fields. It could not, therefore, be regarded as special status.

Quebec, I grant, would be most likely to take up the option because of its desire to mould its society to its distinctive pattern. But it is not inconceivable that other provinces would also opt out in certain fields if the benefit seemed greater than the administrative headache. I would hope that the need for concerted action and the desire to achieve equalization of development among the regions would act as a deterrent to widespread decentralization.

However, as I stated earlier, I do not believe that the agenda for the post-referendum discussions should be limited to constitutional reform. We must recognize that tinkering with the constitution will not solve most of the very serious problems facing this country today. For example, I think the question of full employment should have a high priority on the agenda of the post-referendum discussions. It won’t be solved by constitutional change, but it needs a strong commitment by all governments in all parts of Canada to devise programs to achieve it.

The question of national energy policy also cannot be dealt with by constitutional change alone. Together we need to set our goals for conservation, for development of renewable energy sources, for equitable pricing and for ultimate energy self-sufficiency.

Protection of the environment is another area where we need joint federal, provincial, territorial and local government action. I hope the post-referendum agenda will include this area of concern.

The development of our communications and electronics industries also needs concerted action. They are the lifeblood of our economy.

The redirection of our health-care system to a preventive approach will require the innovative redesign of medicate, in which all governments should share.

These are some of the vital questions that must be on the post-referendum agenda. If we can reach consensus for action on these matters, we will be a lot closer to achieving a basis for Canadian unity and a reason for Quebec to stay in the federation.

But first we must make it clear to the Quebecois that we are approaching these discussions with an open heart. We must indicate that we recognize and understand their aspirations for cultural identity and for some different constitutional and fiscal arrangements within federation. We must demonstrate that we want them to continue to work with all Canadians in building a better Canada.

One way we can demonstrate that desire is to give legislated status to French-language rights in Ontario, and we can do it by moving faster in providing educational and other services in the French language in Ontario. In the foot-dragging on Penetanguishene, as my colleague painted out this afternoon, we demonstrated the exact opposite.

Monsieur le Président, j’ai l’intention de voter pour cette résolution dans l’espoir qu’elle donnera aux Québécois un peu confiance en notre désir de nous asseoir avec eux et d’apporter des réformes constitutionnelles et des changements qu’il faut vraiment faire au statu quo qui est qualifié dans la résolution de “absolument inacceptable”. Je crois que c’est là le chemin vers l’unité canadienne.

Mr. Ramsay: Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to have the opportunity to participate in this, the most important debate this province and this country has had in its brief existence. As the member for Sault Ste. Marie for a little more than a year, I feel fortunate to have started what I hope will be my long political career at this crucial time in our nation’s history.

I would like to add my voice to those of my provincial colleagues, both of my party, of this House and across Canada, in calling for constitutional reform and the full participation of the people of Quebec, and indeed of all provinces, in the negotiations.

9:40 p.m.

I believe the constitution of this country or of any country must reflect the growth and maturing of a nation in order to truly protect the rights and privileges of its people. The time has obviously come for the Canadian constitution to be amended and clarified on these points so as to reflect a Canadian society approaching the 21st century. I sincerely hope the people of Quebec will choose on May 20 with an overwhelming no vote to join the remaining nine provinces and the federal government in hammering out a new basis on which this country can prosper for the next 113 years.

Each Canadian citizen has a unique compassion and love towards his or her home town, province and country. These different feelings are just part of the complete mosaic that is Canada. This personal affinity to our particular region is reflected in the wide variety of attitudes that Canadians hold towards the recent development in Quebec. The most common feelings, however, lie between the extremes: confusion and uncertainty about what is happening to our country and what is needed to keep it together.

The fact that Quebec’s and western Canada’s separation is being discussed or even considered by many Canadians as a practical alternative to the present situation indicates that immediate action is vital if Canada is going to remain a united country. Quebec is not alone in the commitment to change. Among the many constitutional proposals being considered are those from British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Virtually all provinces have put forward their ideas for change. Each proposal reflects what each region regards as Canada’s current weaknesses and drawbacks. The common factor is that every province rejects the status quo of the present constitutional arrangements, but that change must occur within the framework of Confederation.

Ontario is willing to work with Quebec to change the constitution. I believe the federal system has proved flexible enough to accommodate such change. The people of Ontario believe the aspirations of Quebeckers to attain every legitimate social, cultural and economic goal can be realized within Confederation. In the words of two federal members in a constitutional review report, there are other nations in Canada, such as the Eskimos and the Indians. It is not the existence of the Quebec nation which should be questioned, but the principle that every nation must necessarily be independent.

The people of Quebec must realize that political relationships are not based solely on linguistic and cultural differences. The social and economic interests of the province must be taken into consideration. The economic and resource interests, such as the current debate over energy or offshore fishing rights, are prime examples of the many significant differences among the 10 provinces that must be set out in the new constitution.

The main issue for the people of Ontario during constitutional reform is the continued existence of a united Canada. Many features of Canadian life, to which I attach strong value, would be lost. As stated in the report of the Task Force on Canadian Unity, Canadians would be denied the enriching experience derived from the often-creative interplay between two linguistic and cultural orientations among a diversity of regions and provinces. Our multicultural foundation is the primary force that has preserved the unique national community across the northern half of this continent. Canadians should view diversity as a source of strength. This nation is much more than simply French- and English-speaking Canada.

I believe the future we hope to share together must include all Canadians and provide equality of opportunity for all. Sovereignty-association has been rejected overwhelmingly by this government, by members of all three political stripes and by every province outside Quebec. The words of our Premier in a speech two weeks ago bear repeating: “Sovereignty-association is simply the polite term for the breakup of Confederation and has no associates in Canada.”

The people of Ontario wish to see the country remain united, but it is obvious that a great deal of change is necessary before Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and the rest of Canada feel satisfied. I strongly believe that simply altering a legal document or governmental procedures is only the first step to unifying this country once again. The key to future harmony within Canada, I feel, is through the knowledge and flexibility of Canadians in all parts of this country, not in just one small corner or region of it, as is so often the case.

Canadians have a great deal to offer each other. It is up to each individual to explore and benefit from this country’s social and cultural diversity. A yes vote will only create the closing of minds and a hardening of attitudes in Canada which will result in a setback for the unifying forces of this country.

Finally, I believe we need to repeat to the people of Quebec that Ontarians will not calmly accept the fragmentation of their country and then willingly sit down and work out economic arrangements with the government which caused the split. We, as Ontarians, are fully prepared to discuss the broadening and increased sensitivity of our constitution to allow for personal culture, economic and political development. This can only be accomplished by Canadians and among Canadians.

Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to take part in this evening’s debate. As a Canadian, not a hyphenated Canadian, but of Polish-Ukrainian parents, I have been fortunate enough to have learned to speak or to understand at least seven different languages. Even though my grammar may be atrocious, my ability to communicate is there. I know the importance of communication.

My dad left his native Poland as a teenager just about the turn of the century. My mother left that part of Europe now known as the Ukraine as a frightened young girl in her teens. Each could have selected other countries in this wide world but preferred this land, this Canada, as a land with a future. Each chose Montreal as the place to start a new life. The two met in Canada, got married and started to raise a family.

My dad worked for seven and a half cents an hour unloading 150-pound bags of sugar from the freighters docked in Montreal. Yes, seven and a half cents an hour, with a minimum work day of 10 hours 75 cents for a 10-hour day’s work. Most often he could work as long as he wished or was physically able to. My mother did housework.

It wasn’t too long before there were two new Canadians as a result of that union. My parents were very pleased with their adopted land. Both had to learn a new language of communication. It wasn’t easy, bet they did learn.

Along came Henry Ford and the advent of the automobile. Detroit seemed to be the new Valhalla; so it was off to Detroit, a new land, the United States of America, and a new language to learn. This did not deter this young family.

After a short stay in Detroit, where my second brother was born, the family moved back to Canada and settled for good in Windsor, Ontario. This last move meant new customs, new ideas and new values. They adapted themselves in short order and it wasn’t too long before the family had grown to seven, four boys and one girl. Windsor, Ontario, Canada, was to be their final move.

Mv dad became a small businessman as the family grew. I was fortunately able to graduate from Assumption College, a portion of the University of Western Ontario, and then attend the College of Education, specializing in physical education. I was fortunate that, because of my size during my high school days, the only athletic activity in which size did not matter was gymnastics. I was attracted to it. During most of my teadhing career I coached gymnastics. In my estimation I was successful in this field. I was the gymnastic chairman of Canada with the Amateur Athletic Union of Canada and can take some small measure of pride in having pioneered in the sport of gymnastics, in my estimation the most glamorous of all the physical activities.

9:50 p.m.

My involvement in athletic activities, plus the determination of the athletes, both male and female, with whom I was associated, led to a most rewarding and successful career for both the athletes and myself. These athletes have won Pan American, US national and innumerable Canadian championships. I have taken them personally as Canada’s coach to the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia, the 1958 World Games in Moscow, to the 1959 Pan American Games in Chicago, where Canada was the silver medallist team in both men’s and women’s competitions.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that for the first time in Canada’s AAU history, a gymnast was selected as the most outstanding amateur athlete of the year. In 1954, Edward Gagnier of Windsor was so selected. In the years 1954, 1955 and 1956 Miss Ernestine Russell, now Weaver, was the Velma Springstead trophy recipient as Canada’s most outstanding amateur athlete. This young lady has been selected as the women’s gymnastic coach for the 1980 US Olympic Games team, but we are all aware that the US teams will not be competing in the Olympic Games this year. I make these comments, not from a sense of self-adulation, but simply to show the opportunities in our Canada for those who are willing to work hard.

Mr. Speaker, when Montreal was selected as the 1976 Olympic Games, you have no idea how thrilled I was. I was excited because not only could Canada show the world that it has grown up, but also the world could see two cultures living side by side in peace and harmony. As a former Olympic coach, I was prepared well in advance so that all members of my family and their spouses were able to take in this chance of a lifetime in seeing Olympic competition.

My associations with the good people of Quebec are many. My parents came from Europe to Montreal. My brother and sister were born in Quebec. My athletes have competed against Quebec athletes. I have coached Quebec athletes in the Pan American Games. My whole family has sampled the hospitality and friendship of the Quebeckers on other occasions besides the Olympic Games.

Maybe that is why my appeal to those now in Quebec is so passionate, so strong and so necessary. I have worked with them. I have trained with them. I shared the joy of competition, felt the sorrow of losing with them. But sharing these experiences together has given me a deep sense of emotionalism which transcends any possible differences I could have felt with them.

In addressing this debate today I am reminded of another equally historic session in this Legislature which took place 13 years ago, and that was our Confederation of Tomorrow debate. I was proud to have taken part in that exchange on behalf of my province and my country. It is an honour to be here once again to contribute to another event so significant to our nation’s wellbeing.

Back on May 23, 1967, in my comments to the Confederation of Tomorrow conference, I spoke as one of the few members in this honourable House not of either French or Britith ancestry. Today I cannot make that statement. All of us know of the dramatic changes in ethnic representation of this chamber over these few years.

I also spoke of the combined efforts of so many people and so many different groups in the economic, social and political climate of Canada. In fact, no one group of people can lay claim to the thought that they alone were responsible for the greatness of our country. According to the 1971 census, we find that along with the French and English it has been the combined efforts of the Irish, the Scottish, the Austrians, the Belgians, the Cxechs, the Slovaks, the Germans, the Danish, the Finnish, the Greeks, the Hungarians, the Icelanders, the Netherlanders, the Italians, the Jewish, the Lithuanians, the Russians, the Polish, the Romanians, the Norwegians, the Swedish, the Ukrainians, the Yugoslavs, the Chinese, the Japanese, the Caribbean people, the native Indians and the Eskimos who have made this country great.

These peoples, with many more whose origins I have not mentioned, have come together to work, to build and to live in peace in this country.

At this time I would like to mention some of the unique contributions of these various groups to our nation. Can we forget Austria’s contribution to Canada of Dr. Hans Selye; Dr. Douglas Jung, the first Canadian of Chinese origin to become an MP in 1957; and Stephen B. Roman, of Slovak origin, one of the most successful businessmen.

Can we forget the first Dane to set foot on Canadian soil was Captain Jens Munck, who landed on the west coast of Hudson Bay (now Churchill, Manitoba) in 1619, while trying to find the northwest passage to China; Cornelius Krieghoff, one of Canada’s first important painters, who depicted life among the Indians and Quebec farmers; and the contributions to our educational system of the Dutch Egerton Ryerson? We can thank the Finnish in 1829 for the construction of the Welland Canal. Back in 1715, 312 Germans founded a settlement in Nova Scotia now known as Lunenberg. At the time, Halifax, the first major British settlement, was only one year old.

Few of these people ever thought of their accomplishments as being a German contribution, a Dutch contribution or a French contribution. They regarded themselves as Canadians, playing their part in the life of their nation. That’s what has made this the most powerful nation of the world in terms of tolerance, understanding and cultural sensitivity.

We have every reason to believe that the thousands, maybe millions, of people, who have come to our country in recent years, will follow in earnest the examples of those who preceded them.

Our nation is growing stronger every day, and will continue to do so as long as the opportunity is here to be a first-class citizen of Canada, whatever your place of origin.

Ahout one third of our total population is composed of people whose origins, in an ethnic sense, are neither French nor English. This has fostered the development of multiculturalism as an official policy of our federal government. It is based upon the idea that, nationally, we have two official languages but no official culture. It recognizes the diversity of cultures, traditions, and backgrounds of those people who have come to Canada from every part of the world. Therefore, it is a way of enriching the lives of all Canadians by making them aware of, and giving them access to, the contributions and cultural heritage of Canadians of origins other than their own.

More important, our multicultural policy is a pledge that Canada does not belong today, nor will it in the future, to people of one or two groups. Rather, it is a confirmation that every person is important to Canada as a human being in terms of present contribution, future potential and self- respect.

Our multiculturalism also serves as a mark of our identity, of distinctiveness for Canada in the world community, setting us apart from the United States with its melting-pot approach. While we share with our closest neighbour our economic and social organizations and a major language, we advance the concept of pluralistic culture. Here our similarity with the United States ends.

We are a free society -- free and individual in culture in collective terms. Freedom, in the multicultural context, means that when we, or our predecessors, emigrated to Canada, we were allowed to retain our cultural background, our values, our traditions, our heritage. We didn’t have to leave them at the border, because mnlticulturalism and the nature of our society rest in the freedom of our people. By having the right to retain our own backgrounds, our own cultures and our own values, we have the right to be ourselves. That is the element that gives Canadians so much pride.

10 p.m.

We who want to preserve forever our own backgrounds and traditions surely can understand the deep desire of Canadians of French background who might feel threatened with the possible loss of their language, their culture and their traditions. If we understand that, as I’m sure we do, let’s share that understanding. In doing so, we will realize that this is the problem we are faced with, this is really what it is all about; Canadians learning to understand Canadians of whatever background.

Legislation will not create good relationships between groups of people, but as fellow citizens we can create conditions of understanding, of mutual respect and perhaps of love. The Prime Minister once said that he never found so much understanding of the Quebec problem as amongst new Canadians. They understand why a quarter of our population wants to preserve its language and culture. Minority groups use their knowledge of suffering and deprivation in some instances to come together in building a new and different society, where that hard knowledge gained makes life better in the future, a future that is beyond language and above politics. That future is now upon us.

The real challenge to all Canadians is surely to decide how open and generous will be our relationships, how willing are we to make accommodations to one another. While I strongly support the right of every ethnic group to retain the facets of its unique identity that it regards as important, I also feel there is an equal obligation for each such group to understand the culture and contribution of other groups which make up our diverse population. I strongly believe that all our ethnic groups do possess this respect.

Canada, as a country of minorities, has the advantage of being a nation of tolerance, understanding and cultural sensitivity. I have already mentioned these attributes, but they are important. They are not easy to come by in an intolerant world, a world of majority-dominated countries. Yet these valuable characteristics have largely been responsible for making Canada the most respected nation in the world.

We are not just one breed or one family. Rather, we have drawn our wealth, intelligence, culture and knowledge from all over the world. Our strength from our diversity does not go unnoticed. What it means for us at home is that we are capable of more human progress and understanding than most constitutional reformers would ever have thought possible. The strength is here for constitutional reform to come to grips with the present reality. The strength is here for a vision of Canada that will relate to all Canadians. Our strength, in this multicultural respect, has been made possible by our two official languages. Having two official languages provided a basis for the concept of multiculturalism, because it established a tradition of the acceptance of diversity, without which Canada’s policy would be one of a melting pot rather than a multicultural one.

If Canada were ever to be divided into two countries -- one English-speaking, the other French-speaking -- muiticulturalism probably would not survive. In this respect, I look upon multiculturalism itself as a force for national unity. It helps to confirm that we all belong and can feel at home in Canada, as our country, whatever our origin.

It is through not accepting but welcoming our diversity that we will ensure our unity. That is because in the end our greatest asset in this country is that all of us, regardless of our origin, are admirably, energetically and uncompromisingly Canadians. Since time immemorial, this great country of ours has been renowned the world over for its unique natural resources, the grandeur of its mountains and timberlands, the beauty of its shining waters, the richness of its rolling prairies and its mineral wealth.

It is only comparatively recently that we have taken our place among the great nations of the world. Today we are indeed a part of the much-discussed global village, not only because we are playing an increasingly important role on the international stage, but also because, with expanded immigration, the world in effect has come to us.

Essentially, a country is its people. At one time, our Canadian population was for the most part, Anglo-Saxon and French-Canadian. This is no longer the case. By our very way of life we bring to the world at large a hopeful message, a message of tolerance, understanding and the joy of diversity. This message today is more important than ever before, not only for the rest of the world, but also for ourselves here in Canada.

For generations Canadians have had a dream -- a dream of one nation from sea to sea. Events of the past have brought home to us the fact that this dream might well be in danger of being destroyed. Ultimately, I believe we shall emerge from the present crisis more unified than ever. Given goodwill, patience, and understanding on all sides this is the only possible outcome.

As a people, we are singularly blessed. Our country has natural beauty beyond compare. Our resources, though not limitless, are enormous. Our cities are among the finest urban centres in the world. Our small towns and villages preserve the traditional values which we all hold dear. We live in a truly democratic society. The opportunities in this country are almost boundless for anyone who is prepared to work hard and give of his best.

While many Canadians may experience hardship, we have never known oppression. Most of us have time for relaxation as well as for creative work, for conversation and study, for love and friendship. We are free to enjoy the arts and the beauties of nature. Whatever our walk of life, whatever our national background, there is opportunity to find solitude and communion, for dreams as well as doubts, for poetry and philosophy, for song and dance, and for worship. We have time to live, time to count our blessings, and enough time to dwell upon eternity. Although our problems cannot be ignored, we have much to be thankful for. As to the rest, surely it is up to you and me.

While we may well have difficult times ahead of us, I have no doubt that we shall meet this challenge as we have met others: with courage, with determination, with integrity and with compassion. I appeal to my Quebec friends. Come, join with me to fulfil that dream. The dream of one Canada from sea to sea will, I know, survive and flourish. I am confident that each of us will do our share and fulfil our responsibilities to see that we achieve that end, that the true north, strong and free -- Canada -- continues to be united, strong and free. Long live Canada.

Mr. R. F. Johnston: Mr. Speaker, I will speak tonight on the role of municipalities in the new constitution of Canada. I fear it is a subject that is being overlooked in the debate nationally, and yet it will have a major impact on Canadians, 90 per cent of whom will be living in major urban areas within the next 30 years. I was pleased to see that the member for Waterloo North (Mr. Epp) discussed this issue earlier.

First, I would like to speak directly about the debate itself, the wording of the resolution and the importance of Quebec to me, in personal terms, and to the development of our own cultural identity as Ontarians.

Monsieur le Président, je tiens d’abord à vous remercier de cette occasion que j’ai, de participer à ce débat historique et d’exprimer mes idées en français. Je tiens à souligner l’importance de la présence de la télévision et à préciser que cet événement multiculturel fait un précédent de marque dans la réalité traditionnellement anglophone de l’Ontario.

Il reflète aussi le besoin indiscutable de changement constitutionnel pour l’Ontario, qui ne peut plus se contenter du statu quo. Nous avons trop tardé pour organiser ce débat. Il aurait dû avoir lieu au plus tard l’année dernière. Nous sommes maintenant dans le contexte du référendum, ce qui affaiblit et limite notre débat en l’éloignant de nos problèmes ontariens.

Ce débat n’a lieu qu’à cause du référendum du Québec. On voit la parallèle avec la résolution du problème de Penetang et le voyage au Québec de M. Davis, premier ministre.

S’il y a des députés qui pensent que notre débat peut influer sur l’issue du référendum au Québec, ils se trompent. Ce référendum est l’aboutissement d’une crise de conscience culturelle et d’une pensée politique en pleine évolution. Nous autres Ontariens, nous sommes encore des novices dans cette discussion sur notre avenir dans la fédération canadienne. Nous faisons un pas en avant avec ce débat, mais nous n’avons rien à dire aux Québécois. Sauf que nous pouvons et nous voulons changer.

10:10 p.m.

Pour cette raison, j’approuve totalement la première partie de notre résolution qui dit que “nous nous engageons, en priorité de première instance, à appuyer la négociation complète d’une nouvelle constitution pouvant satisfaire les diverses aspirations de tous les Canadiens et pour remplacer le statu quo qui est clairement inacceptable”. Tout en acceptant la résolution entière, je déplore l’existence d’une phrase négative à propos de la souveraineté-association. L’inclusion de la phrase “nous affirmons notre opposition à la négociation de la souveraineté-association” n’est pas nécessaire, tout à fait superflue et sujette à de fausses interprétations dans un sens négatif, comme si l’Ontario refusait d’entamer des pourparlers.

Or, je veux que l’Ontario reste sur un terrain d’entente, la négociation avec tous les membres assis autour de cette table, même s’il n’est pas d’accord avec les aspirations de certains, pour négocier notre position sur l’avenir du Canada.

Je veux seulement que nous soulevions aussi le même genre de révision sur la part de l’Ontario dans la Confédération que le Québec a entreprise durant ces vingt dernières années. Mais nous avons été les “fat cats” de la Confédération trop longtemps, et nous ne voulons pas nous poser des questions sur la manière dont nous avons drainé nos ressources culturelles et économiques.

Maintenant que le mouvement de forces économiques de l’ouest a commencé, et que l’aspect déficitaire des succursales étrangères est exposé à la vie de tous, alors maintenant nous sommes désireux de nous éloigner du statu quo. Cependant, nous maintenons toujours notre arrogance et montrons notre mauvaise volonté en incluant cette référence gratuite à la position potentielle de notre province.

Ici, je voudrais dire quelques mots sur le Québec et de mon expérience personnelle. Pour moi, l’importance du Québec est primordiale dans notre mosaïque canadienne, si cosmopolite. Il représente la force de tous les Canadiens-Français en dehors du Québec, et nous oblige à nous pencher sur les problèmes et les droits des minorités en Ontario et au Canada. Nous prenons enfin conscience que nous avons besoin d’eux, et que la loi est donnant donnant dans le contexte économique actuel de notre fédération. Nous devons nous défaire de la nature impérialiste de notre culture anglaise, perpétuée par l’Ontario malgré son évolution, et que nous répandons sans plus nous en rendre compte.

Le Québec est une partie intégrante de mon pays et de mon être au point de vue spirituel, en tant que Canadien d’abord et qu’Ontarien en particulier. Monsieur le Président, je suis né à Pembroke, au bord de la rivière Ottawa qui sépare le Québec de l’Ontario. Des men plus jeune âge, j’ai appris à comprendre jusqu’où allait cette séparation. Mes premiers amis étaient français et nous jouions heureux ensemble. Mais des l’âge de l’école, j’ai dû apprendre le vocabulaire péjoratif, qualifiant les catholiques et les Canadiens-Français, les distinctions sociales, et à séparer mon loyalisme.

Nous partageons une même rivière dans une région magnifique mais nos différences culturelles étaient amplifiées et caricaturées par la bigoterie. Rétrospectivement, je comprends plus complètement les inégalités et la répression psychologique de mes amis qui ne se permettent pas les mêmes projets d’ambition que je cultivais en tant que membre de la communauté anglophone.

Dans les années soixante, étudiant l’histoire canadienne à l’université, j’ai pris conscience de la base historique de la domination anglophone et du contexte économique et politique du Québec. J’ai participé à des débats intellectuels sur l’épanouissement du Québec pendant la révolution tranquille. Et je suis allé vivre à Québec. J’ai participé à la marche sur McGill, avec l’appui des Québécois dans la rue remplissant ma tête et l’aura d’une volonté politique croissante tout autour de moi. Dans les boîtes à chanson, dans les bistros à minuit, et dans les graffiti sur les murs des bastions commerciaux de domination anglaise.

C’est au Québec, Monsieur le Président, que mes croyances sociales-démocrates se sont enfin confirmées et que ma maturité politique a commencé.

Monsieur le Président, je veux croire qu’il n’est pas trop tard pour montrer notre bonne volonté politique de mûrir en tant que nation pouvant accommoder le Québec et qu’il représente au sein de notre fédération. Il faut essayer de faire preuve d’une ouverture d’esprit et d’un dynamisme que nous n’avons pas encore accompli, et franchement nous manquons de temps.

Others of my colleagues will speak to the kinds of decisions on human rights, economic nationalism, education and social services which must be addressed by this province in a constitutional framework if we are to have any hope of securing a renewed federalism that is acceptable to Quebec and other provinces.

I would like to raise a subject which no doubt frightens half to death all the provincial Premiers and most of the provincial rightists assembled here tonight. I want to talk about the possibility of entrenching within the constitution certain rights for the major urban municipalities. I am suggesting, as a minimum, that the mayors of Ontario’s major cities be involved at some point in our select committees agenda and/or that six or seven mayors of the major urban areas of Canada be given a major and distinct role in any further federal-provincial meetings on the constitution.

In 1871, there was only one city in Ontario with a population of 50,000 or more. Its population represented 3.5 per cent of the total population of Ontario. In 1971, there were 26 such cities and they represented 58 per cent of the province’s population. In the British North America Act, under section 92, the provinces were given financial and structural control over municipalities. It can be argued that made sense, given the agricultural base of the economy and the slow-growing manufacturing sector at that time. But since that time municipalities have continued to be the administrative wings of the provincial governments, delivering provincial services efficiently at local levels. They are constraining bodies and intermediaries with no political clout, operating under the philosophy that father knows best, and daddy is the provincial cabinet in their various provinces.

Even the creation of Metropolitan Toronto in 1954 was only an imposition on the urban setting of the county system established under the Baldwin act of 1849. We have recently learned from the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs that he wishes to keep it that way and will not provide electoral reform to open the way for accountable democratic government at the municipal level, even for a municipal government that has a population larger than seven provinces in the country. I would argue that it may be time to establish a legislative party and cabinet role for our major cities, but I don’t want to go on with too much blasphemy in the House.

I am not arguing for the balkanization of the country by extending major rights to the 4,500 municipalities across the nation, but one should consider that within 20 years, maybe by the time we participate and rewrite our constitution, 73 per cent of our population will reside in our 12 major urban areas. Of those urban centres, five of them exist in Ontario. Not only that, but 30 per cent of the nation’s people will live in Montreal and Toronto. Is it not fair to suggest we might take another look at providing for that reality in a revised constitution?

10:20 p.m.

Lionel Feldman has written that in some ways the cities today are in the same position vis-à-vis the provinces as the provinces were vis-à-vis the federal government after the Second World War. They are just stretching their wings. The only difference is they have no constitutional guarantees. However, one can argue that the democratic political base of the provinces was what won us our extensive powers, and not constitutional rulings.

One can look at the city of Toronto’s housing thrusts and the recent energy initiatives it took as examples of the city finally achieving policy consensus and flexing its democratic muscle. However, the regional government structure is acting as a wet blanket of provincial control to curtail such developments, and as long as that is the case we can probably rest safely in our provincial beds.

In 1969, the Federation of Mayors and Municipalities began the tri-level conferences, which in 1972 caused Des Newman, then the mayor of Whitby, to say to Le Droit: “ ... Il a laissé entendre que des amendements à la constitution canadienne seraient peut-être souhaitables, afin de tenir compte du nouveau rôle des municipalités”.

I didn’t give that to the translation people in advance, but it is just stating that he felt at that time people were coming to believe that amendments to the constitution might be possible giving entrenching rights for the municipalities.

However, by 1976, the process of tri-level consultation was abandoned by senior levels of government in fear of the ramifications of things like the Edmonton commitment on financing. The Ministry of State for Urban Affairs threatened the federal power structure and the provinces enough that it was abandoned.

I personally believe direct interaction between the cities and the federal government is not a bad thing, and we shouldn’t quake in our boots about it. Lionel Feldman said: “At present, it can be said that Canada’s urban governments are not quite mature enough in an institutional sense to take part effectively in the intergovernmental process. They still emphasize the delivery of services at the expense of a political approach. They are still seen as only a training ground for people with ambitions for higher office, and they lack a rational policy-making process.”

It is the provincial governments which have kept the municipal electoral system from evolving into a meaningful accountable government from a fragmented administrative wing. Both John Stuart Mill and de Tocqueville wrote about the importance of maintaining democracy through the base of local government. If that is the case, our democracy is in trouble because the turnout at municipal elections ranges between 25 and 50 per cent. With meaningful power, with consistent policy review and accountability, they would become more involving.

Some futurists would agree there is no need for the provincial tier, as a matter of fact, if the cities are developed, but I am more self-serving than to accept that stance.

It is ironic that it was ex-Premier Robarts who understood the need for large metropolitan municipalities to control their destinies in terms of land-use planning, energy conservation, urban transit and city-oriented social services, when he said: “Metro Toronto will be much better equipped to face the challenqes of the future if they are given the same kind of flexibility and discretion in policy making and implementation as the senior levels of government.” He wanted to provide general powers to legislate with respect to local affairs, and he wanted to take away the provincial powers over the special-purposes bodies which perpetuate the system of patronage in this province and others.

Now is the time, as we begin to enter into the process of constitutional review here, for us to change the basically hierarchical nature of our intergovernmental process, which leaves municipalities with de facto and de jure subordinate status, and to involve the mayors of our major cities in our efforts.

In conclusion, I would like to quote from a letter recently received from Mayor Harris of Scarborough, who indicates, I think, the important role that the municipalities can play in the federal debate.

“Present and future unity debates ultimately concerned with constitutional changes within the Canadian political, economic and social framework should pay special attention to the universal interest and mandate of municipal governments in all parts of this country. Our strengths as municipal representatives vis-à-vis the senior levels of government have always been based upon commonly held and expressed interests and needs and, generally, recognition of the municipal task.” This, I think, is the important line for us: “Certainly I can state without hesitation that, failing all other avenues of national accord, local politicians from across Canada will always find a shared purpose.”

I encourage the members of this House to open themselves to the involvement of the municipal tier in our constitutional discussions.

On motion by Mr. Turner, the debate was adjourned.

Mr. Speaker: The acting government House leader has a brief statement.

Hon. Mr. Gregory: Mr. Speaker, prior to the adjournment of the House, I have been asked to announce the names of the speakers for tomorrow. They are Mr. Turner, Mrs. Campbell, Mr. M. N. Davison, Mr. Grossman, Mr. Conway. Ms. Gigantes, Mr. Norton, Mr. Stong, Mr. Foulds, Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Hall, Mr. Wildman, Mr. Snow, Mr. Nixon, Mr. Renwick, Mr. Villeneuve, Mr. Ruston, Mr. Isaacs and Mr. G. Taylor.

The House adjourned at 10:26 p.m.