31st Parliament, 4th Session

L041 - Thu 6 May 1980 / Jeu 6 mai 1980

The House resumed at 8 p.m.


Resuming the debate on the constitutional resolution.

Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, when we adjourned the debate before the supper hour, I was concluding my remarks with regard to native rights and the negotiation of a new constitution. I would like to quote from a position taken by the National Indian Brotherhood and point out some of the major concerns that are raised by the protection of native rights in a new constitution.

“While Indians can constitute a distinct racial or national group within Canada, their unique legal status is seen not as a kind of racial discrimination, but rather as an essential protection of their cultural integrity. The entrenchment of the equal-before-the-law provisions of the Bills of Rights in a constitution could, therefore, threaten this situation by invalidating the Indian Act and the other sources of Indian rights on the grounds that such special legislation violates the equality-before-the-law principle of the Bill of Rights.”

Obviously if that contradiction is to be dealt with, it must be dealt with through direct negotiations with Indian and Inuit leaders chosen by their communities. As a social democrat, I accept the principle that the Bill of Rights should be entrenched within the constitution. At the same time, if we are to deal with the genuine concerns of the native people in that regard, we must be prepared to negotiate those matters directly with them.

To conclude my comments, I want to emphasize again that if we believe in the basic democratic principle of self-determination, then we must be prepared to accept whatever decision the Quebeckers make with regard to their future and to negotiate whatever accommodation we can within that context.

The same is true with regard to the rights of the native people in this country. I would hope that both groups’ aspirations can be accommodated within a restructured Canada in the negotiation of a new Canadian constitution. Whatever the results of the referendum and the subsequent negotiations, as an elected representative within Ontario, I pledge myself to be prepared to negotiate an agreement with the people of Quebec to deal with their concerns, and with other groups within Canada, including the native people who contributed to the development of this country, in such a way that their aspirations can be met through conciliation and goodwill.

It is not acceptable from my point of view for us in Ontario to attempt to coerce other members of this nation to agree with our views on what the future of this country should be. Our attempts must be genuine in dealing with their concerns as they see them and presenting to them our concerns as we see them in an open discussion and negotiation. If that is what the thrust of this debate is about, then I am pleased.

I support the resolution’s commitment to a renegotiation of a new national constitution. I reject, as the resolution states, the status quo in this country. I believe that the constitution must satisfy the diverse aspirations of all Canadians, but I cannot accept the position that we must go into these negotiations with any preconceived notions or ironclad positions. We must be open-minded and willing to deal with the positions as they are presented to all the nations within this country.

I hope the debate this week not only will attempt to tell Quebeckers that we are concerned about their desires for the future of their nation, but also will tell all the other groups within Canada and within this province that the negotiation of a new constitution will genuinely deal with their aspirations in such a way that the constitution will serve all the peoples of Canada.

Mr. Kennedy: Mr. Speaker, I feel and I hope that this debate, perhaps not this week, but in the final analysis, will have proved meaningful. I am optimistic.

At the outset I want to emphasize that I do not wish to see Quebec separate from Canada, as I fear this will lead to the breakup of our country. We now have 10 provinces -- 10 minus one equals nine, naturally -- but if Quebec left, I believe the laws of politics and economics would take precedence over the laws of arithmetic and, in fact, 10 minus one would equal zero. I hope and pray we never see that day.

We live in perilous times. This, in my view, is gradually being recognized by Canadians. It is not only a Quebec problem. The present federal government has only two members from western Canada. Here is further evidence of the gravity of the situation and particularly of the well-founded alienation of the west. The problem we face is not just Quebec, it exists Canada-wide. Many provinces are now demanding constitutional change. I firmly believe we can find within ourselves the understanding and goodwill to overcome the current crisis.

And now a word from personal experience. Thirteen years ago, I attended John Robarts’s Confederation of Tomorrow conference, as did some other members of this House. Ontario took the lead in English Canada in discussing constitutional change. I remember well the courteous, thoughtful and productive contribution made by the then Quebec premier, the late Daniel Johnson. Even then, Ontario showed it was not satisfied with the status quo. Subsequently, there was the Victoria conference and there were meetings in the interval,

The other point I wish to make at the outset is that no matter how he presents this issue, Rene Levesque is dedicated to separatism. He stands for the division and the ultimate destruction of our country. Mr. Levesque and his fellow separatists are willing to do almost anything to achieve their political goals. In particular, they have rewritten Canadian and Quebec history to prove two things: first, that Confederation is and has been a failure by hindering Quebec’s development at every turn, and second, that the separation of Quebec is inevitable.

I spent some time reading the separatists’ arguments and it’s just like shovelling fog. Their points consist of myths, distortions and half-truths. The time is right, because I do not believe it is too late, to take a stand, to challenge the many myths put forward by the separatists over the last decade and to indicate to them that certain basic fundamentals are not negotiable. In a recent article in the Globe and Mail, William Johnson wrote, “Myths, as a guide to public policy, are a respected tradition in Quebec’s political life.” So let’s take a look at some of these myths and see what the truth is.

Separatists claim that federalism is an inflexible, uncompromising system of government. To the contrary, there are many examples of how the federal system has modified itself to accommodate particular Quebec demands and aspirations. The distinct Canada and Quebec pension plans, the different approach to family allowance, opting-out provisions of major shared-cost programs are a few examples.

Nor is Confederation contributing to the assimilation of Quebeckers by English Canada. William Ormsby, writing in 1979, reminded us that Lord Durham was convinced that French Canada must eventually be assimilated. He was entirely mistaken. Ormsby stated that a rough working harmony between the French and the English began to evolve in the 1840s, and has continued. There is no evidence that this social transformation will result in assimilation. French Canadians are more determined than ever to preserve their separate cultural identity and I understand this.

In the early 1960s I attended a Canadian education conference in Quebec. I asked a leading academic from Laval University what exactly Quebec wants. His answer was simple: Quebec does not want to lose its identity. I argued that Quebec’s identity was still very much in place and would continue to be, long into the future. No Canadian, as far as I knew, wished to see that identity, which enriches our country, or the legitimate aspirations of Quebec diminished in any way.

8:10 p.m.

Another myth arises from the separatist view of Canadian history as one-sided and negative, a tragic succession of failures and setbacks for French Canadians and for Quebec. Although our past is not all sweetness and light, no one could deny that under Confederation we have all made great progress and achieved numerous successes. Separatists never mention the positive side of the Canadian story. They prefer to ignore the phenomenal growth of our economy, development of our social and educational institutions, freedoms and liberties, democratic system -- the list goes on.

Generations of Canadians have worked hard to make Canada a success story. To use a business analogy, we all have an equity in our country, no matter what language we speak or in which province we live. That is the essence of being Canadian -- to share our hard-won prosperity and together build the successes of the future.

I would like to discuss one last separatist myth. Of all the arguments used by Levesque and the separatists to buttress their case, none is more dangerous, nor more divisive, than the myth that the Confederation of 1867 was a compact between the two founding races. Nowhere in my reading of the British North America Act have I seen a reference to the founding races. According to my understanding of the act, it is a legal agreement between the provinces, including Quebec, not between founding peoples. In my opinion, this is as it should be. It underlines the wisdom of the Fathers of Confederation.

In this Legislature in 1971 I stated the provinces put Confederation together, so all the provinces and the federal government must agree on constitutional changes. There cannot be change through unilateral action by any one province if Canada as a nation is to survive. It would be profoundly wrong to design a constitution on a single principle, linguistic or cultural, as the only basis for the design of our political institutions.

I have not agreed very often with Pierre Elliott Trudeau, but in his book, Federalism and the French Canadians, he says: “A state that defined its functions essentially in terms of ethnic attributes would inevitably become chauvinistic and intolerant. The state, whether provincial, federal, or perhaps supernational, must seek the general welfare of all its citizens, regardless of sex, colour, race, religious beliefs or ethnic origins.” I might add in passing that many federalists fear that an independent Quebec might well become an intolerant and chauvinistic state.

For the constitution to be a workable document, we must not give special status, whether ethnic or regional, to any part of Canada. No matter how the separatists read our history, Quebec should receive no more, no less, than the other provinces.

Many members here have spoken about their own families. My uncle -- if I too may make a personal reference -- was a Premier of this province for a time. I know one of the things to which he was dedicated, in peace and in war, was this great country. I know there are other members who have great political backgrounds, such as the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon). We know that they too, if they were here, as they were when they were passing the stage in this great Ontario mosaic, this great Canadian scene, would be most supportive that our country should continue and thrive.

In conclusion, I am reminded of D’Arcy McGee’s words in his last public speech before his tragic murder when he was only aged 48 in 1868. This leading Father of Confederation spoke of the ability of Confederation to preserve the rights of all its citizens and provinces, and I quote:

“Our friends need have no fear but that Confederation will ever be administered with serene and even justice. Its single aim from the beginning has been to consolidate, with the utmost regard, the independent powers and privileges of each province. And I, sir, who have been and still am its warm and earnest advocate, speak here not as the representative of any race or of any province, but as thoroughly and emphatically a Canadian ready and bound to recognize the claims of my Canadian fellow citizens from the farthest east to the farthest west.”

The separation of Quebec is not inevitable. The spirit of tolerance and justice, as strongly proclaimed by D’Arcy McGee in 1868, still lives on. We must ensure that this spirit continues and preserves Canada so that, as a country, it does stretch from the farthest east to the farthest west.

Mr. Hall: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to join in this historic debate on Confederation. Along with many others, I was on active service with the Canadian Navy in the Second World War. I was stationed at St. Hyacinthe in the eastern townships of Quebec for eight months while training to become a telegraphist. I played on the base basketball team and, on occasion, enjoyed the hospitality of unilingual homes as we had games in various communities. We were treated well.

To those of us old enough to remember the war years -- a very real threat of a common enemy; at times it seemed that the allies could lose; the unity we all felt as Canadians in the service of our country -- and thinking of those who died in that cause, it seems of vital importance that Canada remain one country looking ahead to greater achievements.

Tonight, in the time available, I want to focus on the question of minority language rights in Quebec and Ontario. As members are aware, my riding of Lincoln lies in the Niagara Peninsula. In Lincoln our culture has been enhanced by the presence of people of many ethnic backgrounds including Ukrainian, Dutch, Polish, Italian, Greek, Czechoslovakian, Yugoslavian, German and others whom I have probably forgotten. Since the building of the Welland Canal there has been a vital French-speaking population living and working in the peninsula. The city of Welland has had, and continues to have, a strong French-speaking presence and has French-language elementary and secondary schools.

8:20 p.m.

For this reason, I believe we who live in the peninsula have a sensitivity and an awareness about language questions that is perhaps more immediate than in other parts of southern Ontario. It is important for us to see what progress we are making in the provision of French-language services in Ontario in relation to the situation of English-speaking Canadians in Quebec.

The linguistic duality of Canada is an indisputable historical fact, going back to the founding of our country by the British North America Act of 1867. Article 133 in the act states that either English or French may be used in the Parliament of Canada and in the Quebec National Assembly. This directive is valid also in any court of Canada established under that act. French and English must be used in the writing of parliamentary legislation, records and journals.

The linguistic duality of Canada has historically been interpreted as bilingualism in Quebec. Services not covered by article 133 were established over the years in both French and English, not as a result of any constitutional obligation, but rather for reasons of historical custom and daily practice. These stipulations in the British North America Act and over 100 years of daily practice have ensured that there has always been a much broader range of English-language services available in Quebec than there has been of French-language services in Ontario. What we have tried to do here in Ontario since the late 1960s is essentially to make up for lost time.

Given this difference in the historical situation of the two provinces, I believe it is inevitable that different approaches have been taken, and will be taken, to provide minority-language services. I believe that the majority of citizens in Ontario and Quebec share the belief that respect and opportunity for both major language groups is a basic principle of Canadian society. In my view, each province should develop a minority-language program which meets its own needs.

Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick can all respect the common principle regarding linguistic duality but develop minority-language policies and programs that may be quite different, one from the other, in their implementation. In recent years there has been a clear thrust in this Legislature that French-language government services should be expanded in accordance with need and population distribution. Common sense is required as well as the clear goal of ensuring the provision of required services.

It is important for us in Ontario to understand what has been the reason for Quebec’s desire, over the past decade, to strengthen and reinforce the role and place of the French language in Quebec society. Historically in Quebec, English had been the language of business and of economic dominance. Many French-speaking Quebeckers felt they had to be bilingual, and even assimilate into the English culture, to have a hope of success and promotion in business, although English Quebeckers could quite successfully remain unilingual.

French Quebeckers feared bilingualism was fast becoming an agent of assimilation that automatically would bring about the demise of the French language, culture and identity. Quebec language legislation in the 1970s was therefore designed to give government support to the resurgence and the ongoing vigour of the French language.

Nevertheless, we must recognize that while Quebeckers of all political parties agree on the need to protect the French language, the English living in Quebec still have a very wide range of English-language rights and services. They have their own school system, including universities. Judicial services are in English as well as in French. A good range of radio and television programming, as well as newspapers, theatres and cinemas, exists in English. Government agencies provide English-language services. English may be used in the National Assembly and statutes and bills are prepared in both English and French. Many centres have a complete range of English social and health services. This is important indeed.

The major difference that faces most English Quebeckers today from the reality of 20 years ago is that there is a need to speak French and become bilingual if they are to participate fully in Quebec’s society. This surely is the same reality that French-speaking Ontarians face when living and working in Ontario. They can and should be able to receive their education in French, but they know they will also need a solid grounding in English so they too will be able to participate fully in Ontario’s society.

What then is the message we can take from the present minority-language situation in Ontario and Quebec? I believe it is a hopeful one and one which can result in ensuring that both the majority and minority language groups in our two great provinces are able to develop fully.

In Ontario we must continue in our efforts to ensure French-language minority rights and provide services in the French language. It is time to end all feelings of doubt and distrust and instead create and foster feelings of goodwill. We must prove to our francophone fellow citizens that English Ontarians are not indifferent, that we do not intend to stand idly by and slowly assimilate them into our culture. Let us continue to draft legislation that will guarantee French-language minority rights in Ontario as proof of our good faith and commitment.

To Canadians in Quebec I say: “We recognize what you have done to protect English minority-language rights over the past century. The respect and tolerance you have generally demonstrated serves as a model for us. We ask you, however, to recognize the efforts that we have been making to improve the provision of French-language services in our province. We do not say our record is perfect, because it is not, but real progress has been made. Any objective comparison of minority-language rights in Ontario and Quebec will reflect a substantial lessening of the gap, and in 1980 it is no time to throw it all away, to render that progress of no avail.”

The day must soon come when neither the Franco-Ontarian nor Anglo-Quebecker community feels that in any way its members are second-class citizens. We must enshrine minority rights in a new constitution. Our positive answer to the challenge of minority language rights will no longer create an ongoing antagonism and war of words, but rather a stronger linking, an inseparable bonding together of minority and majority in all parts of the country.

Finally, in preparing for this debate on Confederation, I came across some observations by a young English-speaking Ontario university student visiting more than 33 years ago. I have to ask myself, first of all, where all those years went. As a student in 1947, I put forward the following views on English-French relations. I quote in part:

“National unity can be achieved but not by any plan of assimilation, for the French Canadian will oppose any method which results in the disappearance of the French culture. It would be far better to preserve this rich culture, thus making Canada all the more wealthy. Canadian history did not begin in 1759, and future history books would aid in the understanding of the two races if more of the French regime, with its exploration and missionary endeavour, its seigneurs and pioneer settlements, were included in these texts.

“As it stands now, the French are more bilingual than the English. The English have unlimited facilities for study at their door and they would certainly be the gainers if they could interest themselves in their second national language, which is also a widely used international mode of speech. French study should begin in the primary classes while the imitative faculties of a child are still strong. Closer contact to Quebec, through summer schools, exchange of teachers and extension lectures, could be arranged.

8:30 p.m.

“It can safely be said that stronger national unity will greatly enhance Canada’s future. Violence can never be the answer, and so we must conclude that the solution lies in sincerity, tolerance and heightened interest in each of the two races, one by the other. For Canadian unity it is not necessary to have only one language, one religion, one ethnic group, but only a conscious effort by all to understand and appreciate the diverse cultures in our society.”

On reflection, I find that many of the suggestions made years ago have come into being and are well accepted. The other solutions are still appropriate today and I urge every Canadian to consider them.

Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, I rise to support this resolution as a Canadian representing the Toronto riding of Riverdale for the New Democratic Party in this assembly.

If I have a theme it is in the closing sentences of an essay written some years ago by the late Harold Innes, entitled An Introduction to an Economic History of Ontario from Outpost to Empire: “The strength of Ontario may emphasize the weakness of the federation. An empire has its obligations as well as its opportunities.”

To me, this resolution means a commitment to a new constitution for Canada. It means a commitment to negotiate a new constitution, whatever the outcome of the referendum on May 20.

I specifically, but gently, want to disengage myself from the comments made by the House leader and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells) in his opening remarks on behalf of the government and I want to end in this regard with a plea. If I understood the leading speaker for the Liberal Party, the critic for the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs and federal-provincial relations, the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy), correctly, I want to disengage myself from his remarks as well and ask him to join with us in our understanding of this resolution.

The Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs said yesterday: “They,” meaning the people of Quebec, “have a very important decision to make on May 20. I would like to say to them it is a small but important semantic anomaly, but those who vote yes in the referendum will negate the thrust for constitutional change, while those who vote no will all but guarantee its success. In other words, there is no better way of ensuring the certain preservation of the status quo in this country for years to come than a yes vote in the referendum.” I disengage myself from that comment.

The member for Ottawa East, speaking to the same matter, said: “Will Ontario say yes? Will Ontario say that yes will be clearly interpreted by the Parti Quebecois as being yes for independence? It is for that reason, as the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs has said, a yes would create and establish a status quo. It is for that reason that unanimously we reject the status quo and reject sovereignty-association at the same time -- and it is unanimously.”

To the extent that the member for Ottawa East was accepting that a yes vote would negate the impetus to constitutional change, I disengage myself from him as well. I ask them to consider that this assembly come together on the fundamental meaning of this resolution.

I have no illusions about the gravity of the problem faced by Canada and the challenge that is posed to it. I refer to the white paper that was introduced some time ago by the government of Quebec and I quote from that document:

“The government of Quebec has reached the conclusion that our development as a people requires the transformation of today’s federalism into an association in which Quebec, as part of an economic and monetary union, would have all the powers of a sovereign country just like Canada. This new deal between equals is the only path leading from our past through the demands of the present towards a future which belongs to us.”

I have no illusions about the seriousness of the challenge that is posed by that statement and by the white paper. But I say to my colleagues in the government party and in the Liberal Party, let us remember that the vote on May 20 will be a substantial yes vote and a substantial no vote. We are not engaged in mathematics about it or a discernment of what interpretation may be placed upon that vote in years to come.

I particularly draw the attention of the member for Ottawa East to the letter in the Globe & Mail Saturday by Scott Griffin, cochairman of the policy committee of the federal Liberal Party, Ontario. In it he indicates that the result of the referendum will be unrelated to Quebec’s independence or Quebec’s commitment to a federated Canada. I think that is wrong. It will be directly related to Quebec’s independence or Quebec’s commitment to a federated Canada.

In part, and I accept this, it will also be an entirely different answer about a negotiating stance for Quebec in the upcoming federal constitutional negotiations. A no vote wins the sympathy and indebtedness of the rest of Canada. A yes vote would force Canada to take Quebec’s demand seriously and to woo her back with a renewed and attractive constitutional proposal. So let us not try to interpret the result of the referendum; let us not engage in that kind of interpretation. Let us say clearly and distinctly and unanimously from this assembly that the meaning of this resolution is a commitment to negotiate a new constitution whatever the result of the referendum may be on May 20.

Mr. Speaker, I speak, even though unheard, to the people of Quebec who are descended from the citizens of New France. I extend to them and to their government full faith and credit and respect. I accept what was said in a few verses that were published in one of the earliest numbers of the first French-Canadian opposition newspaper, Le Canadien, in 1806.

8:40 p.m.

They were titled Les moissonneurs:

Faucille en main, au champ de la fortune

On voit courir l’Anglois, le Canadien

Tous deux actifs et d’une ardeur commune

Pour acquérir ce qu’on nomme du bien.

Mais en avant l’Anglois ayant sa place

Heureux faucheur, il peut seul moissonner

L’autre humblement le suivant à la trace

Travaille autant et ne fait que glaner.

For those who have perhaps not been able to understand my French, a rough and free translation would be: “The harvesters, sickle in hand in fortune’s field we see them race, the Englishman and the Canadien, active both and with a common zeal to acquire what we call wealth. As the Englishman’s place is out in front, he alone, lucky reaper, can harvest. The other, humbly following in his footsteps, works just as much, yet does no more than glean.”

I accept that, Mr. Speaker, and I accept as well that for the native peoples of Canada -- extending as I do to them full faith and credit and my respect -- what for the Europeans was the gradual growth of settlement, economic expansion and material success, was for the native peoples a slow contraction of their country, social disintegration, a growing subjugation and the erosion of hope. I pause to ask the assembly: Is that what is happening to the Inuit today, as happened to the native peoples and the Metis in the past?

Time does not permit me to speak greatly about Canada, but when people say to me, “What is Canada?” I say, “Of course, it is my birthplace.” I say, “Yes, of course, it was the place to which my grandparents came for all the reasons that people emigrated to Canada during the last century.” I say, “Yes, of course, it is my country, but more than anything else to me it is a story. It is a narrative, an epic. Some day that narrative and that epic will be written. Its end is not yet. Its end will not be in my time or in the time of any of us here, but in the unfolding of that story.”

When people say to me, “What is Canada to you?’ I simply say, “It is a story. It is a story that I live by. It is a story that contains all of the romance and the charm and the despairs and the hopes and the fears and the triumphs and the disasters that form part of all of us.” If somebody presses me a little bit further and says, “But what do you mean?” I say, “Canada is a storybook country.” That is the way it is for me and that is the way it will be.

I want to move to the rhetoric -- to which I will respond -- in Quebec-Canada: A New Deal; in A Task Force on Canadian Unity, A Future Together; in A New Canadian Federation, the Constitutional Committee of the Quebec Liberal Party; and in The Time for Action Toward the Renewal of the Canadian Federation. To the extent that I respond to the rhetoric in each of those reports about Canada and about its future, I am equally tired with the tedium of the minutiae of constitutional debate among the lawyers, the political scientists and the bureaucrats. The logic of the lawyers, the logic of the political scientists and the logic of the bureaucrats is not the wisdom of politics. I ask each of the members of this assembly to consider my proposal, which is that a constitutional convention be mandated to write a new constitution and report back to the Parliament of Canada, the National Assembly of Quebec and the legislative assemblies of each of the other nine provinces for consideration and debate, in the belief that through that process a new constitution for Canada will come about.

I further propose that the select committee envisaged in our resolution be instructed to consider and report back with dispatch on this proposal and on the composition, method of selection and other details of the appointment of the Ontario delegation to that convention representing the many diversities of our full, diverse and widely different province.

I reject the British North America Act. It is no longer capable of dealing with the tensions and problems of the confederation; it is no longer possible, because we do not have the necessary modalities, for it to solve the constant tensions and frictions between this province and Alberta, let alone this province and Quebec.

I ask the members to reject it for another reason. The patchwork process of constitutional amendment which came to a halt in 1971 was a dead end. The last 10 years of no response at all by this province to constitutional change of any significance means the obstacle in the roadway in 1971 will never be dissolved and we must take a new path. I welcome the difficult challenge issued by Quebec that its people think about their future in Canada, think about their future as an independent country, because that poses for us the essential and dynamic requirement that we respond, in turn, in relation to the resolution before us.

That’s a hall of many mirrors, and when one walks through that hall, one can see many reflections of the reality of the challenge facing Canada at this time. I have read these four basic documents and other documents that have come before us, as have many of the members. They are interesting, they are helpful, but none of them persuades me as a Canadian where the country should be in the years to come.

Through a constitutional convention widely represented by delegations from each of the provinces and territories and from the federal Parliament, we can have the kind of consultation among the people of Canada that will, over the course of time, produce for us that new constitution.

I’m not satisfied to leave the fashioning of a new constitution in the hands of the first ministers of the country. That also is a dead end for any number of reasons. Their general preoccupation and responsibility is for the wide administration of all the provinces and of the federal government, whereas in our resolution we have said a new constitution will be our highest priority. I am seriously concerned with the mind-set of the leaders of the governments in this country about various constitutional matters. I am particularly concerned about the mind-set of the Premier of this province (Mr. Davis) and of the Prime Minister of Canada. I, for one, am not interested in humiliating my fellow citizens.

I, for one, am not interested in confronting them and saying to them that if they vote yes, we will maybe not even negotiate with them. That perhaps is what is coming through from the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.

8:50 p.m.

In the time available, I come to a close with quotations from two poems, back to back, by Pauline Johnson. She was born in the last century and died early in this century. She wrote two poems: CPR Westbound No. 1 and CPR Eastbound No. 2. I quote only the first verses of each:

I swing to the sunset land;

The world of prairie, the world of plain,

The world of promise and hope and gain,

The world of gold and the world of grain

And the world of the willing hand.

And in CPR Eastbound No. 2:

I swing to the land of morn;

The grey old east with its grey old seas,

The land of leisure, the land of ease,

The land of flowers and fruits and trees

And the place where we were born.

I come back to what Mr. Innes said, that the strength of Ontario may be the weakness of the confederation. We have our obligations as well as our opportunities. We have our obligations to the east and to the west, but more particularly, we have our obligations to the people of Quebec. I have faith that we will discharge them.

Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have this opportunity to participate in this very important debate, a debate which, I believe, will not only affect the people of Ontario but all Canadians.

I am one who is very proud of my Canadian heritage. I may just be a farm boy from Halton, but I am very proud that I was born in Halton county, my parents were born in Halton county, my grandparents were born in Halton county. Before that, we were of English and Irish ancestry. Some of my ancestors travelled to Halton as United Empire Loyalists a great many years ago.

Mr. Speaker, I haven’t mentioned this since I made my maiden speech in this House about 12 or 13 years ago. You were here at that time and you may remember. I mentioned that my middle name, one which I don’t use very often, is Wilfred. I got that name from my father, whose name was Wilfred Oliver Snow and who was born in 1892. Those of you who are political historians may remember or be able to figure out where he got those two names. He was named after two great Canadians, one English and one French -- two great politicians.

My father’s family was of a different political faith than I happen to be, but dad got his names from Sir Wilfrid Laurier and Sir Oliver Mowat. I am very proud to carry one of those names with me yet. I didn’t see fit to pass one of those names on to my son, but maybe I should have.

With your permission, Mr. Speaker, I would like briefly to outline the critical role that transportation has played as a vital link binding this country together for almost 113 years. Those links, coupled with broad highways of water made up of the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes, have provided all Canadians with a natural east-west transportation corridor for the movement of people and goods that is quite unequalled anywhere in the world, a natural corridor that from our colonial days pointed to the essential need for a federated union of both the Upper and the Lower Canadas.

Despite current and recurrent political differences, such natural and man-made bonds have fostered national unity in the face of vast differences, low population densities and the so-called north-south geographical patterns of North America. No reasonable man or woman can doubt that they constitute the prime support in Canada’s role as a trading nation, thus contributing to the creation of wealth, which in turn permits the achievement of broader social and cultural goals, be they provincial or federal.

Those man-made links, however, were not built by the federal government alone, nor by any provincial government. No, it was done with the co-ordination, planning and financial backing of all regions of Canada, whose citizens often sacrificed provincial and local needs to benefit our national goals. It is fair to say that we have all gained from such a joint achievement -- the Prairies, the Maritimes, Ontario and Quebec.

Quebec is positioned at the centre of the system, a natural hub from which Canadian goods and people move easterly and westerly. Proof of this is amply demonstrated by the location of the head offices of so many important transportation concerns in la belle province, including Canadian National, Canadian Pacific, Air Canada and Bell Canada, all situated in Montreal.

I should not have to enumerate the benefits, but for those who doubt that statement, let them take CN for an example, Mr. Speaker. Canadian National’s interests include trucking companies, hotels, real estate, telecommunications, marine facilities and a railway subsidiary in the United States.

Then there is the St. Lawrence Seaway, that combination of the majestic St. Lawrence and the man-made locks connecting it to the Great Lakes system. With the completion of the latter in the 1950s, Quebec’s river ports boomed, until today they account for about one half of the total marine traffic. A strong, prosperous economy has developed along Quebec’s north shore.

This seaway, which serves the vast industrial heartland of Ontario and provides the vital water link to the Atlantic Ocean for prairie grains, is the father and mother of Quebec’s shipbuilding industry, helping to create a demand for the construction of new lakers and coastal shipping worth tens of millions of dollars.

These advantages, both natural and man-made, give Montreal and the province of Quebec unlimited opportunities for growth and expansion in the transportation sector within a strong and united Canada. Therefore, it comes as a surprise to me that the current Quebec government persists in depicting the province as a self-contained entity. I would ask the question: Are these the true sentiments of the people in general?

Only by looking westward to the Rockies and eastward to the Maritimes can Quebeckers restate the old ideas of New France, of a culture on the St. Lawrence River. Today, the opportunity to be in the forefront of economic and transportation development is as fresh and real as it must have been to their forefathers. Ontario will also benefit when Quebec or any other province heightens its economic role because the fiscal facts are that good transportation facilities benefit all people served in the system.

9 p.m.

The Windsor-Quebec City corridor, for example, benefits the economies of both provinces, but its continued viability will depend to a high degree upon co-operation, especially with respect to the possible development of an improved freight and passenger rail service. Modernizing such facilities would improve the productivity and efficiency of the total system. The major objective would be a high-speed passenger service on an exclusive-track basis. The benefits would be obvious and would result in the immediate creation of thousands of jobs and large new industries, not to mention the creation of 1,200 jobs for the next five years.

Such projects demand Quebec’s participation, which, in turn, suggests that any government in that province must think in terms of the building blocks that made this a united Canada. Those building blocks of Confederation are already in place -- in the 401 between Toronto and Montreal, that concrete and asphalt artery which comprises the most heavily travelled route in Canada, in the mutual acceptance of driver licensing standards, in reciprocity for commercial motor vehicles and in the co-operation in transportation law enforcement. Should Quebeckers turn away and convert those building blocks into a wall, such a free exchange is hindered, to say the least. As desirable as it might be to maintain these close links and co-operative efforts, the challenge to do so would be monumental in the boiling wake of the breakup of Confederation.

As transportation links provided the steel and concrete spines which brought this great country together in the 19th and 20th centuries, so too will communication links provide the basic infrastructure of the 21st century. This area will require co-operation and co-ordination if Canada is to participate in the exciting developments associated with microelectronics and in the information revolution.

One example I can think of quickly is the development of complementary industrial policies in the communications sector. All governments, both provincial and federal, recognize the potential contribution of the telecommunications industry to the Canadian economy. Working together in this key area of technological importance, both provincial and federal governments will be far more effective than if anyone tried to act alone, each within its own sphere of jurisdiction. This is not to say that a renewal of our federation in the area of communications is not necessary. It has been, and continues to be, one of the items formally on the agenda for the constitutional conference and for constitutional change.

Since 1973, the Ontario government has taken the position there should be a realignment of authority in the communications sector in order to achieve a more appropriate balance of roles and responsibilities between the federal and provincial governments. As the technological, economic and social ramifications of the new information society began to emerge, Ontario became increasingly aware of the importance of communications in facilitating the flow of information for business and residential users. Ontario is no less aware of the cultural and educational importance of communications.

In the course of the past few years, I have become convinced that the centralization of authority over communications and the tendency of the federal government to seek total control in these areas is inconsistent with the basic nature of our diverse country.

As the flow of information between homes and between businesses takes on an even greater role in our society, it is essential that a balance be struck between federal and provincial responsibilities, a balance that reflects the regional needs of our country as well as its federal nature. Because communications can be of such vital importance to a country as vast as Canada, it follows that communication links can serve as a unifying force.

Because communications can also serve as a powerful instrument for the development and expression of regional perspectives and cultural expression, it follows that the federal government should do those things which truly are national and the provincial government should do those things that are of regional concern. Therefore, Ontario views a transfer of authority to the provinces as not only a key element in the realignment of jurisdiction in the area of communications, but as the key element in strengthening Confederation.

I am not alone when I ask for such a resolution, for the first ministers reached a similar consensus at their meeting in 1979. Since that time, cable communications has been on the short list for consideration of the continuing committee of ministers on the constitution. I can only expect these discussions will resume at full speed following the referendum.

In this regard I am heartened by the recent speech by my federal counterpart, the Minister of Communications, Francis Fox, in which he expressed his support for shared jurisdiction in communications. In my view, his approach represents a major departure from the traditional federal position, and offers significant potential to break the logjam in this area.

I am confident we can bring these negotiations to a successful conclusion within the existing federal framework in the near future. I, like my provincial counterparts, firmly believe that provincial regulation could well be more responsive to the needs and concerns of both the industry and consumers.

We are also convinced that no matter what kind of constitutional realignment the future brings, provincially regulated cable systems can only strengthen the bonds that tie this country together. Any discussions of constitutional realignment should include the telephone carrier sector. Most provinces in Canada regulate the major telephone system in their territory. However, in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, the primary telephone carrier, in our case Bell Canada, is federally regulated.

This item is on the constitutional list for consideration in phase two of the discussions. Here again, Ontario will be an active participant in looking for effective ways of achieving constitutional change, for the same reasons I have already expressed.

In summary, I would like to confirm my commitment to achieve constitutional change as soon as possible in the area of cable television, to investigate ways of achieving a realignment of authority in the area of common carriers, and to continue to work with my colleagues and all other governments to achieve the many goals and objectives that we as Canadians hold not only in common but in trust for future generations of Canadians.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, like all of us here I want to express my sincere hope and conviction that our fellow Canadians in Quebec will vote for continued and renewed federalism. I realize my words will have little or no effect on that goal, but I feel compelled, as a citizen of Canada and a member of this Legislature, to express my views in support of the resolution that rejects sovereignty-association as proposed by the Parti Quebecois and balances that with a firm commitment to a reform of our Canadian Confederation.

9:10 p.m.

I have been very much impressed with the quality of the speeches that have been put forward in this chamber up until this time. The approaches have been varied but in each instance sincere and in my opinion useful and very interesting -- even that of the Minister of Transportation and Communications, who has just resumed his seat.

Many of the French-speaking families in Quebec can trace their ancestry back to the earliest settlements, even to Champlain himself. The community on the banks of the St. Lawrence was well established and thriving with a prosperous commercial development based on fur trading, fishing and farming long before my ancestors ever came to North America.

Still, our family has lived and farmed in Ontario for 200 years. When they came to this country it was as refugees from the United States. They had fought on the losing side of the revolutionary war and suffered many hardships both during the revolution and in the trek away from their homes, their farms and their belongings, into what they at that time referred to as British North America.

My family finally arrived in Canada by crossing the Niagara River in the 1780s. In those days this part of the world, now known as Ontario, was officially called Quebec. Its governing law was the Quebec Act, passed by the Parliament in London, England, in 1774. That law wisely assured the rights of the French-speaking people in law, religion and language and was the basis upon which the French-speaking community of Canadians has grown in size and influence and respect in Canada and the world.

Students of history have often said that the Quebec Act was based on the fear of the colonial authorities in London, England, that the Doctrine of Manifest Destiny in the United States, following the revolution, would simply gobble up all of this part of British North America. The claim at that time was that the Quebec Act was passed to indicate that they wanted the French-speaking loyalty.

Whatever its motivation, it was a piece of broad-minded and effective legislation in its day. But under these circumstances, the refugees from the United States, calling themselves United Empire Loyalists -- I was interested to hear in the various speeches that a number of members are descended from those people -- found themselves in a marvellously fertile land. It had practically no population and was governed from the settlement on the St. Lawrence, where the large majority of people were French-speaking and used to the French legal tradition.

These new English settlers immediately petitioned for a division of the colony into two parts, roughly along the Ottawa River. Their petition was granted and Quebec was divided into Upper Canada and Lower Canada in 1791. Each side had its own Lieutenant Governor, its own assembly and council, and over all presided a single Governor General. From the very earliest times the French- and English-speaking communities in Lower and Upper Canada had many political, commercial, legal and personal connections that bound the two provinces right from the start.

The point of my brief address this evening is to emphasize my feeling that the people in what now make up Quebec and Ontario have, from those very early beginnings, cooperated through necessity and through good sense in the establishment of a working political arrangement that evolved through Confederation and now is at this special testing time. In my opinion it can continue to evolve into perhaps a new nation, a new jurisdiction with these shared responsibilities.

But I am talking about the problems well before Confederation. Not the least of these ties that bound what is now Quebec and Ontario and go so far back in Canadian history was the shared problem of political development under the direction of the Parliament and the government across the Atlantic in London, England. Among other things, the powers of the governors were very large and only a few of the upper class of commercial, military and religious leaders had the right to advise the governor. The farmers and small businessmen, particularly, felt excluded from the real power of government in both provinces, since the governors tended to favour a few families and a few backgrounds almost to the point of developing a colonial aristocracy in Upper and Lower Canada.

In this province, of course, that aristocracy was called the Family Compact, and the member for Carleton East (Ms. Gigantes), who is paying such close attention to my remarks, indicated in her view the Family Compact still exists. I was interested in her contribution to the debate because I do not believe those people who were under the heel of the Family Compact in those days have much to be ashamed about. Perhaps they did not mount a very effective rebellion -- I will refer to that briefly in a moment -- but they did achieve their aim of establishing responsible government here in what is now Ontario, and their counterparts in Quebec did the same.

The British governors, while they still exist and we honour them, certainly, had their power stripped away and given to those people who could command the confidence of the elected assembly. That is responsible government. We fought for that in Ontario as it was fought for in Quebec, when they were Upper and Lower Canada, and we did so co-operatively, with the same aim and goal, and we were successful together.

The dissatisfaction in both provinces rallied around this cry for responsible government. It meant the governor would be required to take his advice from an executive council drawn from the elected assembly and having the confidence of the assembly, instead of ruling autocratically only with the advice of those appointed favourites whom the governor from time to time preferred.

In their effort to take more control of their own political destiny, the people not only rallied around the cause of responsible government, but rallied around the leadership of Louis Joseph Papineau in Lower Canada and William Lyon Mackenzie in Upper Canada. During those days, there was real co-operation between these two dissident political groups, with communication and friendship strengthening between the reform forces in Upper and Lower Canada. Those were difficult days indeed.

Mackenzie, who was a member of this House in one of its previous conditions, found that the people opposed to him burst into his office -- he was editor of a small local newspaper, the Colonial Advocate -- and they took his printing presses out and threw them in the bay. We might even be able to find them down there yet. He was on three occasions expelled from the Legislature by orders of the executive council, and on three occasions was re-elected because he spoke for those people who were not satisfied with the government of the day.

Papineau experienced similar situations in Lower Canada, but they shared the same goal, and there is ample evidence in the history books and the correspondence of the day of their close association, striving towards the goal that was shared in both provinces.

These matters came to a head in both provinces in 1837 with rebellion. The one in Upper Canada was, according to some people, almost a joke. It was put down quite easily. There were two deaths, it is admitted. The story of the march of the farmers led by William Lyon Mackenzie down Yonge Street is worth reading any time you want to delve into the interesting past of our province. The rebellion in Quebec was more serious, more bloody and, in fact, also unsuccessful in the short term. However, the reformers in both areas won their goal of responsible government, and the Parliament and government in London, England, allowed this to come about after the reforms of 1841 in which the two provinces were united as the colony of Canada.

A special stress of tension was added to the French-English relationship in those days because the unification of the two provinces was a futile and ill-advised effort to submerge the French community in the growing tide of British immigration. The strength and tenacity of the people, the politicians and the clergy of Quebec enabled them to withstand this additional pressure, resulting in the nation as it is today with two founding races, two founding languages and a bilingual tradition that can be a strength and an advantage, particularly for our young people.

I was deeply impressed by the speech made by my colleague the member for Lincoln (Mr. Hall). He was quoting one of his own term papers or essays from the days when he attended the University of Toronto, in which his phrases, much more eloquently than mine, indicated the same view, that bilingualism in this nation, far from being divisive, far from being a problem, political and otherwise, should be and can be and, I believe, must be in the future, a definite advantage -- although perhaps not to those of us who are old dogs, who never took advantage of the education system for learning French in Ontario as so many young people are taking advantage of it now. In the future, surely bilingualism can set us apart from those people in the rest of the world who have a less interesting background and fewer advantages as far as culture and language are concerned.

9:20 p.m.

During those days of special stress back in the 1840s, the government of a newly created province of Canada had what amounted to and soon was seen to be historically an insurmountable political problem, but it also set an example of personal co-operation between the two founding races that must still be important to us today and certainly impresses me deeply.

Probably the best example was the political careers of two great performers, Louis Hippolyte Lafontaine and Robert Baldwin, who were the co-leaders of the one great reform administration of this period. The politics in those days were about as tough and vicious as anything we have ever experienced and yet the loyalty of the politicians to their cause and to each other continues to amaze readers of history.

The capital of Canada, in order to accommodate the diverse language and ethnic background, moved from place to place during these years. At one time it was in Kingston, in Canada West, and moved at different times to Montreal, to Quebec City and even to Toronto. It’s an amazing thing when one considers that the elected members from both the English- and French-speaking communities would have to travel great distances to conduct the business of the province without the benefit of simultaneous translation or any kind of reasonable transportation, and they suffered the hardships of being away from their homes and families, their businesses, farms and professions for long periods of time.

We can only imagine the close personal connections that were established, and the co-operation that resulted in the achievement of substantial accomplishments in this experiment in bilingual and bi-cultural government in this part of the world.

In one instance, the electors of Terrebonne in Canada East rejected Lafontaine, who was defeated in the election. I should add parenthetically that I think some English-speaking goons attended the poll and pounded the electors over the head with sticks, interrupting the election, to the point where the great Lafontaine was defeated.

His partner in government, Baldwin, who had been elected in two constituencies, as was the custom in those days, invited his colleague and co-Premier to come up into Canada West, and got him the nomination in one of the York constituencies. It wasn’t York South, I think it was called York 3 or York 4, but perhaps it is the very constituency or the territory where the present member for York South (Mr. MacDonald) lives. He was elected by the good burghers, the good farmers, from that part of what is now Ontario and returned to Parliament under those circumstances.

I am pleased that the portraits of these two great reform leaders, who should be political examples to us all in more ways than one, hang directly outside this chamber, one on either side of the entrance. They are a fitting reminder to all of us of the benefits in the art of public administration and the development of responsible government which must be credited to these great Canadians.

The point is obvious; I simply say it again: This was personal and political co-operation between the leaders of what is now Ontario and what is now Quebec in the grand tradition from the earliest of times.

After Confederation, the political leaders of Quebec and Ontario traditionally have kept close counsel and personal friendship as an effective balance to federal power. I was pleased to note that the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells), in his remarks earlier in this debate, described the role of Oliver Mowat -- the namesake of the father of the present Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow) -- the Liberal Premier of Ontario, during the years when federal and provincial powers were being delineated by the courts.

We are committed to a strong central government and believe this is going to be an essential part of the debate that follows the referendum when we are attempting, I hope successfully, to renew Confederation. As far as I am concerned, there would be a personal commitment to maintain the strength of the central government, but the powers of the provinces must still be recognized and maintained.

Political co-operation has been the hallmark of the relationship between political leaders of Quebec and Ontario since Confederation. In the 1930s, even Premiers Duplessis and Hepburn had a close personal alliance which stopped the attempt by Prime Minister King to remake Confederation by removing from the provinces most of their basic taxation rights and replacing them with block grants payable from the federal government. We should discuss that more fully.

I was interested to hear the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Grossman) refer to the Rowell-Sirois royal commission. Newton Rowell was one of our predecessors as leader of the provincial Liberal Party. His offspring have gone on to become extremely influential Tories in the city of Toronto, but that is another thing. This royal commission, established during the hungry ‘30s, made an elaborate series of recommendations that would have transformed the taxation base of Confederation.

Whatever we may think as individuals of the position taken then by Premiers Duplessis and Hepburn, they rejected it out of hand, marching out of the railway committee room in Ottawa during the final hearing so that the efforts undertaken by Prime Minister King came to naught. Frankly, I happen to believe the decision taken by the two provincial leaders, for whatever purposes, was correct.

I simply want to emphasize the point that it was this balancing of the federal power brought about by the co-operation of Ontario and Quebec which in my view has maintained the viability of Confederation then and should be maintaining it now.

As recently as 1971 in Victoria, the Premiers and the Prime Minister of Canada got very close to an agreement on the redistribution of powers and reforming the bases of federal representation and the Supreme Court. For the member for Carleton East to indicate Ontario has never had a commitment to the reform of the constitution really means she does not understand the significance of that conference.

Perhaps I would join her in criticizing the leader of the government of Ontario in those days. He happens still to be the leader of this province. I believe we could have achieved the kind of constitutional reform in 1971 that would have made all of the problems we are now experiencing unnecessary if there had been stronger leadership from Ontario. We were very close to an agreement. As a matter of fact, all of the Premiers had accepted the new distribution of power. It was not over until the Premier Ministre of Quebec went back to Quebec and found his cabinet would not go along with him.

My recollection is that the real problem was based on our unwillingness to support Quebec in its view that it had to have provincial control over social and welfare programs and at least some jurisdiction over communications, the very matter the Minister of Transportation and Communications was referring to only a few minutes ago. This could have been accomplished a decade ago if Ontario had taken a stronger, more positive and supportive position of leadership.

That opportunity was missed 10 years ago, but we now have a new chance for reform. All provinces are now committed once again to a rejection of the status quo and a full commitment to a reformed Confederation that will be a fair basis for a continued Canada, a Canada which will, we trust, include Quebec as a cornerstone of the nation.

9:30 p.m.

Mr. Isaacs: As you are aware, Mr. Speaker, I frequently rise and express pleasure to be able to participate in the ongoing debate in this House. In respect of this particular debate, probably the most important debate that has gone on for the past 25 years and possibly for the past 113 years, my feeling transcends that of pleasure to a feeling of duty. My only negative comment about this debate is that it should have occurred months and possibly years ago.

I believe discussion and negotiation are the fundamentals to a democratic society. Discussion, negotiation, open lines of communication can lead to resolution of all disagreements, disputes or differences of opinion between sane and rational people. The people involved in our present national debate, those involved on both sides of this issue in Quebec and the people involved in the debate outside Quebec, are all sane and rational. The aspect I deplore is the lack of sane and rational debate that has taken place in the past in this House.

I accept the right of the people of Quebec to decide their own future. I believe all people have the right to discuss, to communicate among themselves and to take decisions among themselves. The answer from the May 20 referendum in Quebec will be an important process in the evolution of this country and of this continent. We must talk to the people of Quebec, whatever the result on May 20, but the result on May 20 is an important step in the ongoing constitutional work. The approach taken in the discussions that follow the May 20 referendum result will very clearly depend on the result of the referendum.

In 1862, Thomas D’Arcy McGee, a member of the then Legislature, called for, and I quote: “That catholicity of spirit which embraces all creeds and all races so that we might be enriched by known and unknown resources and become a great new northern nation.”

I am, I believe, the newest of the new Canadians in this Legislature. I arrived in Canada in September 1969 and from that day I have found this country and this province to be challenging, exciting and full of opportunity in the way that Thomas D’Arcy McGee intended, not just for myself and for my wife, but for all the people of Ontario and Canada. But there is always room for improvement, there is always room for change, and that change can only come about as the result of an expression of free choice upon all the people of Canada.

I hope very sincerely that the people of Quebec choose renewed federalism rather than modified separation as their basis for negotiation, but whatever they choose, we should be ready to sit down, to talk, to negotiate and to find workable solutions, because workable solutions there will be. Those workable solutions, while they may be something arrived at by negotiation, will be something that can be made to be satisfactory for us and for those who are voting on May 20.

A fundamental question in any review of constitutional matters is the handling of individual and collective rights. This country has no Magna Carta, we have no civil code to define the freedoms we all enjoy. Unlike our neighbours to the south we have no constitution, no amendments to guarantee the rights and responsibilities of our citizens. I believe some of the problems we now face arise from that lack of clear definition of the rights of all of us as individuals, the rights of all of us collectively and the responsibilities we all have to our society, to our province, to our country.

Our present Canadian Bill of Rights was passed by the Canadian Parliament in August 1960, but that Bill of Rights is hopelessly inadequate. Its scope is limited, in terms of both the rights and freedoms that it protects and the ways that certain legislation transcends the Bill of Rights. We are all aware of unfortunate events, of unhappy events, of clouds on our past horizons. Many of those clouds would not have been there had we had in place a guarantee of the constitutional freedoms of Canadian peoples.

Indeed, even our own federal government admits the Bill of Rights has been ineffective in protecting human, individual and collective rights. In most cases where the Bill of Rights was involved, our courts have held that it does not apply and that other legislation has supremacy. That situation is completely unacceptable to me.

Even the Ryan beige paper -- which is seen as being one side in the present debate, though I will submit in a moment that there is far more than one side -- while it proposes a charter of rights and liberties, leaves much to be desired. The beige paper takes up less than four pages on the matter of a charter, a charter that we desperately need to define and guarantee the rights and responsibilities of all citizens, all communities, all organizations and all gatherings of the people of Canada.

The Ryan charter uses the definite only in terms of the entrenchment of legal rights -- the right of equality before the law, the right to public impartial hearings, rights of citizens following arrest, and the rights to protection from unreasonable seizure and search. Those are important rights, but they are not the most important, the most fundamental rights of human beings in our society.

In all other respects, the Ryan charter uses less definite language. Of the seven provisions proposed in the Ryan beige paper for a charter of rights and liberties, one route that I have already described relates to legal rights, four relate to the very important area of language rights, one relates to freedom of movement throughout the country, and one, only one of seven, relates to our fundamental rights as members of a free and democratic society. Even the Ryan beige paper is not going far enough in its presentation of a proposal to protect civil liberties, to protect us all, and to define our responsibilities to each other.

In December 1968, the United Nations General Assembly approved the international covenant on civil and political rights and an optional protocol. Ten years later, when that came into effect, Canada acceded to the covenant and its optional protocol. But to this date, we do not see legislation in place which assures all Canadians that the United Nations covenant will be implemented in this country and is available to protect our citizens. That’s just not good enough. We need much stronger action, we have needed much stronger action, and we will continue to need much stronger action to protect the rights of all Canadians if all parts of this country wish to remain in the Canadian jurisdiction.

9:40 p.m.

It is that fundamental issue of civil rights, of our rights and responsibilities as individuals, that is so important to so many groups within Canada, and that is so important in the debate that is at present going on, because so many of the concerns the people of Quebec have about the activities of the federal government and about the activities of the other provincial governments can be traced to a lack of definition of the role, the rights and the responsibilities of the people of Quebec and of the people of all parts of Canada.

Earlier today, the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Norton) made remarks that gave me, at least, the impression that he felt that all members of this Legislature and indeed all citizens of Ontario should be speaking with one single voice. I want to suggest that that is not reasonable. It is not reasonable to suggest that this issue rises above politics, which is the statement the minister made.

The situation we find ourselves in now is politics. It is a situation that arose because of a lack of political activity in areas that are so important to so many people in this country. It is very important that we address those needs now and that we indicate to the people of Quebec, before and after the referendum, that we will be willing to make the changes now that are so desperately needed in our Canadian constitution.

Mr. Speaker, as I believe you are aware, I have agreed to share the time allowed to me with another member of this caucus, in order that that member will also be able to participate in the debate. I am therefore going to wind up my remarks, but I want to wind them up with the single thought that if we give the impression that we refuse to talk in any one of the many circumstances that could arise in the months and years that lie ahead until this matter is finally resolved -- and I hope it will be finally resolved -- we are implying that our reluctance will impose itself in a mirror-like fashion on those on the other side, who will use it against us in their quest for things which may or may not be desirable from the point of view of the people they represent and from the point of view of all of us in this country.

If there is one thing that is important, it is that we get the message across that we are always open to suggestion, we are always willing to talk and we are always willing to negotiate from the position that we hold on behalf of the people of Ontario. Lines of communication are desperately important. Lines of communication must be kept open.

Mr. Villeneuve: Mr. Speaker, I am very grateful to have the opportunity to take part in this debate, since, as I see it, there is a threat hanging over all of us: the breakup of our country. It is our country, and when it hits home it is very serious. Contrary to the opinion of Mr. Levesque’s followers, a breakup would be a tragedy.

Since Confederation, 113 years ago, there have been periods in history when certain events have taken place that have caused divisions in thinking in this great country of ours. From the time of the execution of Louis Riel and the conscription issue in the First World War there have been wounds in the minds of French Canadians in Quebec that have been exploited to the fullest by some politicians and have all but annihilated the Conservative Party in that province. Democracy continued to function and the people turned to another party whose belief is that the flowering of French civilization in North America can only occur in the context of an independent nation or state.

Unfortunately, this is placed in the minds of the younger element who do not read much about the history of this nation. There has been a breakaway faction in French-speaking Quebec for many years; it has not been because of the recent Penetanguishene publicity. While one hesitates to generalize, I think it is true to say that French Canadians have a long memory for history.

Many people are well aware there was once a French empire in North America. In the 17th and 18th centuries, it stretched from Hudson Bay to New Orleans and from the Maritimes to the Prairies. It is this vision, the revitalization of the new-world French civilization, that spurs Parti Quebecois supporters. Yet how well I remember only 13 years ago when the English, the French and everybody else in Canada joined hands to celebrate our first 100 years of partnership as a country. At Expo 67 we celebrated our partnership by inviting the entire world to a marvellous party. Visitors from many lands came to see our immense, mysterious country, 100 years young and stretching across an entire continent.

I joined with many other Canadians in feeling a strong rush of patriotic pride and emotion at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal. Most people probably remember the moment when those two youngsters ran into the Olympic stadium carrying the torches to light the Olympic flame. One was from this great province of Ontario, the other was a Quebecois. Again we were linking our energies together. We showed the whole world an example of the benefits of peace and fraternity.

The separatists in our wonderful country are saying, “Forget it.” They claim that in spite of what anyone may have observed to the contrary, Confederation remains imposed on them by force, not by choice. They claim Confederation threatens the survival of the French community as a distinct cultural entity. Let us not forget that the majority of people in Quebec do not hold that position, even today.

While I agree with the Premier (Mr. Davis) that May 20 is potentially the gravest day in Canadian history since the outbreak of hostilities in 1939, it is nevertheless the result of a minority viewpoint that has managed to get itself entrenched in power in the government of Quebec. Most reasonable people of goodwill, on the contrary, believe the hope for the future lies in working towards unity, solidarity, peace and understanding. Many people, and I am among them, believe the history of this country, far from being one of unjust exploitation, is by and large the story of people working quietly and peacefully to find links and overcome the tensions caused by national and racial differences.

9:50 p.m.

Monsieur le Président, je suis sûr que je ne suis pas le seul dans cette Assemblée à le trouver difficile de m’exprimer sur ce sujet -- la désintégration possible d’un pays, mon pays, la terre qui m’a vu naitre, la terre où mes ancêtres se sont installés il y a plus que trois siècles, la terre où j’ai vu grandir et mûrir mes enfants dans la paix et l’abondance.

Monsieur le Président, les séparatistes répondront que les Français du Canada vivent dans un état d’humiliation à cause de leur statut minoritaire. Dans une ancienne colonie britannique, ils prétendront qu’aux yeux du monde ils n’attendront jamais la maturité en tant que collectivité tant qu’ils n’auront pas réussi leur statut d’état.

Je crois plutôt que la maturité se manifeste par une capacité de s’entendre avec les autres peuples, de vivre en paix avec eux.

Les pères de la Confédération ont bien vu les avantages de la possibilité d’une coexistence paisible de divers peuples. Des hommes comme Louis Lafontaine, Joseph Hull, Georges Cartier et John Macdonald sont assis autour de la table de négociation pour arriver en paix, et pour la première fois dans l’histoire, aux compromis politiques nécessaires pour résoudre le problème difficile et frustrant d’arracher une colonie de la mère-patrie.

Sans provoquer une violente révolution, nos pères ont réussi à élaborer des nouvelles structures. Ils ont légué au 20e siècle le Commonwealth, l’une des quelques organisations internationales qui a réussi à fonctionner dans un monde libre.

Les pères de la Confédération savaient très bien qu’en Europe de nombreux groupes luttaient pour créer des états nationalistes, fondés sur une notion de race. Ils savaient qu’ils mettaient maintenant sur pied quelque chose de nouveau. Ils ont cherché un terme approprié pour décrire ce nouvel état. Certains ont vu dans le terme “Canadien” une nouvelle nationalité. Sir Georges Cartier parlait d’une qualité politique.

Our Confederation was based on a new nationality which sprang, not from racial or cultural inheritance, but from allegiance to virtues that go beyond barriers. My ancestry landed in Canada over 310 years ago and for some 160 years my family has lived in Upper Canada, which is now Ontario.

I do not know whether it was a moccasin route at that time, but my great-great-grandfather moved into Glengarry and he married a MacDonnell. His first language was Gaelic and French, long before he could speak English. My grandfather could speak better Gaelic than he could French or English. My father could speak Gaelic, French and English.

Unfortunately, it is a forgotten art in the county of Glengarry today, but nevertheless, these people who did not have the opportunities that we have today had something about them which enabled them to get along and live together in harmony. Today, with our better standard of education and when everything should be in favour of understanding, it seems we are drifting apart.

The idea that our country was founded on belief in toleration and with dialogue is something that could reconcile social, cultural and religious plurality with political unity. Perhaps it was the spirit behind that dialogue that ensured that we could become a country with no history of violence. To my mind separatism, no matter what claims it may make in the direction of liberating the creative energy of a supposedly oppressed people, speaks of unhappy things. It is a negative prognosis for human history. Separatism says that even though by and large we have lived in peace, that is not good enough, we must go for more.

The Bible tells us, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Many men and women who will act as peacemakers are going to be needed. Surely, no matter how many generations it may take us to get there, as a species the ideal situation for humanity is to live in a world where people live in co-operation, in brotherhood, with bonds akin to those of a family linking them together. Surely, we in Canada have in fact made a giant step towards achieving that. I find it very sad that some of my own countrymen disregard this achievement.

Mr. Ruston: Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour for me to participate in the Confederation debate taking place in this chamber. Let me begin by saying that I am proud to be a Canadian. That is a phrase we have already heard often this week, but it bears repeating. As Canadians I include all of us who worked and fought to establish our identity in this vast and sometimes harsh land. I include those who were born in this country and those who chose this country as a place to raise their children and develop their lives. I include the unemployed men and women struggling to maintain an existence as well as successful businessmen running from project to project. Most of all, though, I think of the average working man or woman in our country, for it is this group to which I belong and it is to this group I wish to make my appeal.

We have had, from some of those who have been speaking in the last two days, a very interesting debate. After listening to what the previous speaker just said, I guess our family could be considered newcomers to this country. I think my great-grandfather moved into Essex County in 1880. He came across the Detroit River to what is now Amherstburg. We settled in the county and ever since have engineered, built and grown with the county. From being lumber mill operators -- I happen to have a grandfather who built one of the first threshing machines used in south western Ontario -- we have grown with the growth of Canada in Essex county.

For many years now all Canadians have debated and discussed just what it means to be a Canadian. Strongly influenced by our neighbours to the south, we have tended to lose sight of the means by which this country was formed and the understanding that was to be the source of our unity. It has been stated that Confederation was brought about to safeguard the permanence and to promote the expansion of two national cultures. The British North America Act of 1867 dealt with this reality by dividing powers between the federal government and the provincial governments. The provinces were given jurisdiction over cultural matters as well as in education, but both these areas were accepted as vital to maintain Quebec’s destiny for the French culture. Also, Quebec was allowed to use a civil code of law rather than the English common law that the rest of the country used.

10 p.m.

All these provisions resulted from an agreed-upon and accepted cultural duality in Canada. Compromises had to be made so that both cultures could develop and grow. However, time has shown us that the British North America Act did not settle all our conflicts. Federal government involvement in areas previously deemed to be provincial affected the independence of the province, thus seeming to threaten the French-Canadian culture and identity.

It is important to note that Quebec was not the only province that objected to deeper federal involvement, but as a result of its cultural concerns was for some time the loudest in its protests. However, it is really only within the last 20 years that problems have developed which the present constitution cannot adequately settle. Conflicts over energy pricing and policy, concerns about shared-cost programs and the perennial question of areas of jurisdiction have put us in a position in which a renewed federalism is legitimately sought.

To be fair, the federal government has not been totally insensitive to the changing needs of the provinces. Both the white paper published in 1978, entitled A Time for Action Towards the Renewal of the Canadian Federation, and the 1979 Task Force on Canadian Unity report made recommendations which were designed to renew our federation by eliminating hostilities between regions and cultures, and forging a constitution more attuned to today’s needs. Both reports stated that a bill of rights and liberties should be entrenched into the constitution. I believe this is clearly needed, in order to guarantee the right to freedom and liberty as well as to protect the vulnerability of minority groups.

Both reports stated that the Senate should he abolished and suggested that the division of powers between the federal and provincial governments should be clarified to state clearly the powers of the provinces and the central government. Both reports were the topic of much discussion. What made them particularly relevant and vitally important to all Canadians was the fact that Quebec, for the first time in its history, was governed by a party whose aim was the separation of Quebec from the rest of Canada. On November 15, 1976, when the Parti Quebecois was elected, we had reached a stage in our history when we could no longer delay dealing with the inadequacies of our present constitution.

Now, less than four years later, a critical point has been reached in this process. The people of Quebec are being asked to decide whether they wish to take a giant step along the road to separation. Indeed, when Premier Levesque speaks of negotiating sovereignty-association we know what he really means, separation. Certainly this is a decision that will affect all Canadians.

As a former customs officer on the Canadian border with the United States, I would hope we will never have to have someone working as an immigration and customs officer on the border between Ontario and Quebec.

The case for a renewed federalism has been strongly made. Therefore, we will regard a no vote as a signal to begin the process of renewing Canadian federalism, a process that we are eager to undertake with Quebec, the other provinces and the federal government.

Claude Ryan, the leader of the Liberal Party in Quebec and the head of the no committee, has also presented a proposal to the people of Quebec and the rest of Canada. Though not in total agreement with the federal papers presented, he starts from the premise that a renewed federalism is needed in this country. The no committee agrees on the need for a bill of rights entrenched in the constitution.

It agrees on a need for a redefinition of the Senate structure, aiming for greater provincial involvement. It agrees on a need for a clarification of the division of powers between the federal and provincial governments. Most important of all, it has provided a basis for discussion with the rest of the country with federalism as the core.

As stated in Ryan’s proposal, the Canadian federal framework provides Quebec with two major advantages: the chance to develop freely in accordance with its own nature, and at the same time participate, without renouncing its own identity, in the benefits and challenges of a larger and much richer society.

I believe that comment states the case well. However, it also applies to those of us residing outside Quebec. By understanding and accepting the duality of our country as it was originally intended, we gain immeasurably by our contact with Quebec and all its residents. We remain a country in which the freedom to develop as a people is maintained -- a freedom, may I say, that applies to all of us.

The sovereignty-association plan proposed by the Parti Quebecois is a cruel hoax that attempts to disguise the true meaning of the Parti Quebecois program. It is important, therefore, for those of us participating in the Confederation debate this week that we stand up and be counted.

I am a Canadian who feels that Quebec is as vital to this country as Ontario or British Columbia or the Maritimes. I agree that a renewed federalism is a crucial element in the continued development of Canada. I believe we can and indeed must do this together. Today, the cameras are rolling as history is being recorded, but when the lights go down and the referendum is over, the issue will still not be settled. We must be prepared to deal with the realities of Canada in the years ahead.

I am prepared, as an average man, as a member of the Ontario Legislature, to continue to remain involved in the cause of federalism. I know that I speak for the people I represent in Essex North when I say that it matters to me what happens to this country. If this message in any small way affects the outcome of the referendum later this month, I will feel extremely proud. I believe that to care is to be involved. Therefore, I am not afraid to say today that I care.

Mr. Swart: I must start my comments, Mr. Speaker, by saying that I, like everyone else in this House, desperately want to keep this nation intact. I cherish the Canadian uniqueness of the two founding and continuing cultures, augmented over the years by cultures of so many other immigrant groups.

The area I represent probably far exceeds the average in Ontario in the percentage of its identifiable French community and the mosaic of its ethnic groups, but there can hardly be a village, town, city or rural area where the citizens do not recognize and experience the tremendous cultural, linguistic and economic richness provided by this composition of diverse national origins in this province.

In the face of the current crisis, it’s also well to remember the natural wealth of this nation. Though this wealth has not reached its potential because of economic mismanagement, this still is a nation that has more resources per capita than any other in the world, bar none.

With economic planning and with fair sharing, together we can have the highest standard of living in the world! that is the future together. But if we divide, we in Ontario and the people in Quebec and in all the rest of Canada will suffer dramatic economic, cultural and social consequences. What I have said is trite, but it is true.

10:10 p.m.

There are three or four somewhat disconnected observations I want to make quickly before dealing with the main issue I am going to cover. First, even with the best of intentions on all sides, there is no way Quebec can separate without extreme bitterness and hostility being created. Trying to reach agreement on division of assets and liabilities by itself could produce a massive confrontation. For instance, how is the national debt of some $70 billion going to be divided? How would one divide the equity in Canadian National Railways or in Air Canada or a thousand other things? I would admit that a new constitution, a revised constitution, is going to be really difficult to bring about, but it would not be nearly so difficult as the problems involved in separating Quebec from this nation.

If Quebec separates it is unlikely the nine other provinces will continue as one nation. The geographical division between the maritime provinces and the rest of Canada would be too large an obstacle to overcome. There is the real possibility some or all of the remaining provinces would become part of the United States.

I want to say, as many others have said, this first referendum is the key to what happens with Quebec. It is simply wishful thinking by Ontarians or Quebeckers to interpret a yes vote as just authority for the Levesque government to negotiate a better deal for his province. Levesque’s intent is to separate, and a yes vote is the first major step on the way. From then on, his hands will be on the controls.

If the federal government and the other provinces refuse to negotiate sovereignty-association, as our resolution here states we will -- and I support that resolution if sovereignty-association is interpreted as separation -- he will be able to say to the Quebecois, “We can’t get anything unless we separate. You will have to vote yes on the second referendum too.” Even if there is some form of negotiation, as I hope there will be, the first yes vote will be the base for impossible demands by the current Quebec Premier. Refusal to meet them will again be portrayed by Levesque as the need for the second yes vote. From the first yes vote on, the scenario will not only favour him; he will plan and control it.

I suspect our debate this week will not have any great impact on the May 20 vote in Quebec. I share with the member for York South (Mr. MacDonald) and the member for Wentworth (Mr. Isaacs) the feeling we should have been doing this, taking part in these sorts of debates, two or three years ago and last year as well as now. But it is an effort we must make at the present time, even though it should have been done before, and make as effectively as possible.

While not telling the Quebecois how to vote, we must make sure they know we want them as full partners in this nation, that we are willing to make the changes so that they can achieve their legitimate culture and linguistic aims within this nation, and that we will assure they can function and feel at home from Bonavista to Vancouver Island.

There is a real need for those of us who may be of Anglo-Saxon extraction to expand our sensitivity and recognition of the meaning and the value to the French and to the ethnic groups as well, of their language, their culture, their traditions. Revisions to the constitution must provide the framework and the obligation to maintain and strengthen those qualities.

Needless to say, the all-party select committee set up by the resolution before us is going to have a tremendously important and time-consuming task, perhaps more so than any other committee of this Legislature during this century. I would anticipate and urge that among its many responsibilities the committee must visit and consult with every geographic section and cultural group in the province. It must create a highly anticipatory process, for it won’t just be the federal constitution under review. By the very nature of things, we will be adjusting the provincial jurisdictions, the policies and the attitudes of people in our society as well.

There is not one of us in this Legislature, I am sure, who doesn’t feel our first obligation is to Canada, to keep it intact. This supersedes, although it is complementary to, our provincial and constituent responsibilities.

We realize we are all going to be hurt if Canada breaks up, but if Quebec should secede there is one group that is going to be hurt more than any other. Those are the francophones in this nation outside of Quebec. For the sake of the 500,000 in Ontario and the 1.5 million or so in Canada, our efforts in keeping Canada united must not be anything less than successful.

Canadians are as tolerant towards one another, I suggest, as the people in any other nation, but it is inevitable that some of the bitterness against a Quebec that separates would spill over to the France-Canadians in the rest of Canada. My guess is there will be no violence, but the warmth that currently exists will be cooled substantially. However, it will not be from animosity that francophones will suffer most in the rest of Canada; it will simply be because they have lost their clout.

A new Canada without Quebec, if one exists, won’t be a bilingual nation. The francophone services which have been provided outside of Quebec, often belatedly and reluctantly, have come about largely for four reasons. First, there has been recognition of constitutional implications, perhaps even constitutional law. Second, there have been pressures from Quebec, mostly indirect; third, relating to the minority anglophone population in Quebec with similar needs of the francophones here and, fourth, political voting clout in the respective provinces.

If Quebec goes, all but the fourth leverage disappears. Because of the fewer numbers of francophones and the greater numbers of the ethnic groups in many provinces, such as the Italians in Ontario, which are at least now equal to the French population, the clout will not be sufficient to maintain present French services let alone produce new ones. Surely the French fact in a Canada without Quebec will be nonexistence.

This has been recognized by the francophones outside of Quebec. A Canadian Press story from Gravelbourg, Saskatchewan, carried in the St. Catharines Standard, April 26, 1980, says this in part:

“Gravelbourg, Sask. (CP) -- This community, sometimes called the French capital of Saskatchewan, is only beginning to wake up to the May 20 referendum in Quebec now the polls suggest a yes vote could result.” I skip some passages here and go on:

“While that would be only a mandate to negotiate, Mayor Dauphinais, a lawyer, agreed many English-Canadians would see it as a vote for separatism. ‘Without a large French population in Canada, Gravelbourg will find it hard to maintain its character. About 70 per cent of the estimated 1,500 residents consider French their mother tongue,’ he said.

“Real Forest, director of College Matthieu, a local resident French high school, said:

“‘We are a part of a substantial minority. If Quebec ever separates, we will become a very insignificant minority.’

“A group of Forest’s students were split in what they hoped to see come out of the referendum. While some wanted a yes vote to lead to a revamped Confederation, others feared it would lead to Quebec separating and their community being lost in the shuffle. But there was general agreement that other Canadians need to be more aware how much language means to those who speak French.”

That story and that fear can be repeated in almost every French community in nine provinces of this nation. It has been a long uphill fight to get even minimal francophone services in all of these provinces, except New Brunswick, which has by and large provided equality.

With Quebec separation the life support devices for the francophones will quickly or gradually, but inevitably, be shut off. Let me make it clear that this is not my wish nor the wish of this party, but it is unfortunately a realistic assessment and a realistic assessment by the francophones in the rest of this nation.

10:20 p.m.

I want to enumerate some of these crucial public services now in place, and use Welland as an example. The Unemployment Insurance Commission and Canada Manpower Centre provide a full service in French. So does Canada Post. There is a French library. The local sales tax office is bilingual in both written and oral service. Many hospital services are provided in French. Certain workers in the family benefits section of the Ministry of Community and Social Services are French-speaking, as well in the children’s aid society. In addition, the city of Welland provides many municipal services in French.

Most critical to the perpetuation of the French community, of course, are the French schools. Between the public and the separate school boards there are six standard elementary schools, one senior and one secondary French school. Some of these schools service something more than the Welland area; even more important, they service more than the traditional francophone community. Children from any national background are accepted into the system, provided they have the minimum facility in French.

About a year ago, I was invited to attend a protest meeting because the school board proposed to cut off French immersion in kindergarten. It wasn’t a French school, and hardly a parent there was French. In fact, the parents were English with a large smattering of Italian, Hungarian and other ethnic backgrounds. There were about 100 of them present. Parent after parent rose to say they had been hesitant at first about their children being enrolled in the immersion French course, but after visiting the school classes and seeing their children so interested and adaptable and, yes, even so fluent at five years of age, they were enthusiastic about continuing the course and the school board lacked down.

The goal of those parents was that their children go to one of the French elementary schools after kindergarten or continue the immersion course there so they would become fully bilingual adults. I say to the people of this province today, are we prepared to see these programs go by the board? Don’t we realize we have a fuller and more meaningful society because of the French presence?

I believe we, as legislators of this province, have an obligation to the francophone community in Ontario to continue and to enhance these services. We have an obligation to the francophone constituents and the other constituents in our ridings who realize the worth of bilingualism and multiculturalism as a dimension of our community.

Finally, the most effective way we can accomplish this and maintain this is though the kind of resolution we are going to pass here on Friday, and all other sorts of efforts to make a workable constitution and persuade Quebec to continue to be part of this nation.

On motion by Mr. G. Taylor, the debate was adjourned.

Mr. Speaker: Under standing order 28, the member for Wentworth (Mr. Isaacs) has expressed his dissatisfaction with the answer to a question asked earlier of the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Parrott). I will hear the honourable member for up to five minutes.


Mr. Isaacs: Mr. Speaker, I asked that this matter be debated on adjournment today because I believe the Minister of the Environment was missing the impact of the supplementary question that I posed to him this afternoon because of some confusion that had been put into his mind by the question that was originally asked by the member for Hamilton West, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. S. Smith).

I believe the original question contained some misinterpretation of the situation as it at present exists, which could do nothing but get the Minister of the Environment on the wrong track. When I posed my supplementary question to him, I think he was still somewhat confused by the situation in which he found himself. I hope he will now have had the opportunity to review the supplementary I put to him, and will answer that supplementary in the direct way in which I hoped I would get an answer.

I want to add to that supplementary to ensure that the minister is up to date on the information I requested of him. I’m not sure whether he realized at the time he was answering that the solidification plant at the Upper Ottawa Street landfill site is now being reopened by the regional municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth. That action has been taken very recently and is in response to a situation which exists in the city of Hamilton, where, according to the minister’s own figures, something close to half a million gallons of liquid industrial waste are being produced every month.

In January 1980 a total of 411,000 gallons of liquid industrial waste was generated in the area of the city of Hamilton. In December 1979 the figure was 546,000 gallons. The solidification plant was operating under a permit from the Ministry of the Environment that the minister described this afternoon. That permit was the topic of many press releases that came from the office of the Leader of the Opposition, including one that appeared on April 30 1980 consisting of 26 pages of review of past history, and wrapping up with a call for a judicial inquiry, a call which that honourable member has made on a number of occasions. In my view, while it was something that could be undertaken, it is not something that would go anywhere to solving the very serious problems that exist for the people who live in the immediate vicinity of the Upper Ottawa Street landfill site.

But there have been millions of gallons of liquid industrial waste going into that site over the past years. The Minister of the Environment, through his ministry, was responsible for closing down the magic box in December 1978. That problem is now fortunately behind us, though I do believe it is absolutely essential that we put mechanisms in place to ensure that it can never happen again.

I asked in my supplementary question that we put mechanisms in place to ensure that the public can find out at any time what it is that is going into that landfill site. We have seen the hundreds of thousands of gallons of various chemicals going into that site, and we have found in recent months that there may have been other similar problems at the Upper Ottawa Street site, but we really don’t have access to information about them.

In summing up, I want to quote very quickly from a letter from the president of Frontenac Chemical Waste Service Limited, dated April 18, 1980, with regard to the reopening of the solidification process. In it, the president said: “The mixing tank currently on the site” -- currently being in April 1980 -- “will be replaced with a new one. The old one is leaking.” That’s the kind of problem we have at Upper Ottawa Street.

Mr. Speaker: The honourable member’s time has expired.

Mr. Isaacs: That’s the kind of problem I hope the minister can respond to.

Hon. Mr. Parrott: I’ll try to be direct in response. I think we could do it better in estimates, and they’re soon upon us. Surely the member accepts that the region does operate the site. Agreed? I’d like a little dialogue, but just a nod of the head would suffice.

Having agreed that they run the site, a good deal of the information would come from them. Second, I can tell the member that any operation of that solidification process will be on a very short-term basis. If there is any doubt in the member’s mind that this might go on he can forget it.

10:30 p.m.

As soon as the other solidification processes are in place we will close that site down. It might reopen on another occasion after it has gone through a full environmental assessment, but not before. We are insisting that any treatment facilities in this province that will receive a certificate of approval must receive that only after a full environmental assessment. We are closing down the past operations. They do have a certificate there for the landfill site that expires at the end of June. They have a new site about to come on stream.

There might be, of necessity, an extension on a short-term basis again -- I am talking about a very short term -- of that landfill site. If the region, in its wisdom, choose to have the solidification process go on past the June 30 date, I suspect our ministry would not object. But I want it unconditionally understood that solidification project at the Upper Ottawa Street landfill site has a very limited life.

I hope that confirms and assures the member that the solidification process at the Upper Ottawa Street landfill site has a very limited life. Is the member relatively satisfied with that aspect of it, that he knows it has a limited life, it is very short term?

Mr. Isaacs: That is a start.

Hon. Mr. Parrott: If the member wants information about the amount of material going into that site for solidification purposes, I think he should get that from the region.

We will have a waybill system that will be able to track the waste, but by the time the member gets that information back I believe the site will have closed. If we were talking about a two- or three-year operation then I could understand what the member is saying and at least agree with him. But we are not. It will be finished, completed, done. I do not think in that short term he will really have too many concerns, nor do the residents of that area have any concerns.

Mr. Isaacs: But there is waste from outside the region going in there now.

Hon. Mr. Parrott: That is something the region can choose to control. The region has that power and if it wishes to enforce it, God bless. I will not object.

I would conclude simply by saying that eventually we are going to need facilities to treat our liquid waste. We are going to have to have support from all sides of the House, because if we do not then I guess it will be time for me to start asking some questions rather than always trying to answer them. The really important question that must be asked is this: Do the members want the environment of this province, as great as it is right now -- I do not mean the member personally, and I do not mean his party personally -- destroyed because we have not accepted treatment facilities? That is the question that is going to have to be asked of all of us in the very near future. I hope the members will support solidification processes through the full environmental assessment hearings. The members should come and hear and then make up their minds.

Mr. Speaker: Before we leave, the following members have indicated they would like to participate in the debate tomorrow:

Mr. G. Taylor, Mr. F. S. Miller, Mr. Riddell, Mr. Bounsall, Mr. McMurtry, Mr. Sweeney, Mr. Martel, Mr. Sterling, Mr. McGuigan, Mr. Samis, Mr. Brunelle, Mr. Eakins, Mr. Warner, Miss Stephenson and Mr. Mancini.

The House adjourned at 10:34 p.m.