The House resumed at 8 p.m.
SELECT COMMITTEE ON CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM (CONTINUED)
Resuming the adjourned consideration of the report of the select committee on constitutional reform.
Hon. Mr. Gregory: Mr. Speaker, to the best of my knowledge there has been no agreement between the parties about the distribution of time this evening. I have no strong feelings about it, but could we make au arrangement agreeable to the members of the opposition that we split the time three ways? I do not particularly feel strongly about limiting the time for an address, but could we have agreement to split the time three ways?
Mr. Speaker: Is there a consensus?
Hon. Mr. Gregory: Could we further table the request that the clerks keep the time? Thank you.
Mr. G. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, I am continuing the discussion from the last day when I had a very few minutes at the end of the evening on this. I would like to continue on in regard to this very important document, the report of the select committee on constitutional reform.
I guess, going back to the title of that document, I am heading into the subject of constitutional reform, because there are many theorists and I fall slightly into that category at times. Given today’s constitution and given today’s legislative ability, there might not need to be any precise political reform, as we know it, to the words of the constitution, but rather reform in the habits of carrying out the present constitution. However, that would not be in the perspective of what politicians would like to do, given what possibly we are reading about what the citizenry of this country would desire us to do or what is in the best interest of the country that we not do, but we do have to make some reforms in how we conduct the affairs of this country, both federally and provincially and together in those two jurisdictions.
Even in our present document and in the document put forward by the federal government, known as the constitutional resolution or the Canada Act, it is not perfection. It is not perfection in my eyes or to my knowledge as a citizen of Ontario. It is not perfection in my eyes as a lawyer. It is not perfection in my eyes and to my knowledge as a politician, nor is it perfection to me as a Canadian. But it is an attempt at a compromise and at a solution and, as politicians, we must be perceived to seek a solution. Indeed, past that perception, we must act and find a solution to our different perspectives as to how we conceive this country to be governed and how it should proceed to be governed in the future. It is desirable that we follow that.
That is the route we went in trying to accommodate some of the 12 different subjects we dealt with in this report. It is from that that we have taken a perspective of the economy, a perspective of history and a perspective of political views, because it is from all of those at the time that constitutions flow. It is not devoid and, as I spoke the last day, carried out in a vacuum. The constitution must come from all those: social conditions, economic conditions, political conditions and the history that is ongoing at that particular time.
One cannot impose a constitution on the country. If one so desired, we could look up the constitutional precedent books and pick out the best one and say: “Hey, that is very good for us. That is all we need.” That is not the way a constitution develops. We cannot even today, as the impression is given of taking place, have the federal government impose its will upon all of the people. I hope and am very desirous that the protagonists in this constitutional debate will not be that for long but will seek out some compromise. I hope our report has some added features to that constitutional debate where it will resolve possibly some of those differences.
Speaking of those differences on this present particular topic, from a very analytical point of view one could take our report and take the federal government position, and sit down and analyse them in a very critical and very severe nature. Overall, they are put forward as a possible solution, although there are deficiencies in both of them. From my own personal perspective, if I were looking at the federal government position, I guess the charter of rights and the referendum position would be the most controversial ones from my viewpoint of the present constitution because they will be invading areas that we have not gone into before. They will be invading in particular the charter of rights where it deals with the civil features and invading many of those jurisdictions that have been under the provinces previously.
Similarly in our own document, which we put forward as a committee document and a type of compromise and consensus, I personally might make some changes, but it has gone forward as a compromise. Those areas that would offend me most would be the civil rights areas, the referendum section and Senate reform. However, a great deal of compromise -- call it a majority position by whatever form -- has put this document together, and I think we can all support it and live with it.
As we look at this constitutional debate, the other areas that give me the greatest concern are those areas we are trying to take from other jurisdictions. I know when we try to improve upon our own situation, we take that little bit from each other jurisdiction and impose it on ours. I hope as we proceed forward, both at the federal level and at the provincial level, that we have not borrowed some of those things that will be directly contradictory to those traditional positions we have taken in our legal systems, our court systems and our parliamentary systems, and that those we have borrowed will not cause us too great a difficulty when we overlay those on to our present constitutional discussion, so that we will end up with some type of hybrid that will not give us any greater situation than we have at present and indeed may give us a worse one.
I would like to give some of the different perspectives that we achieved as we went across the country and relate how interesting it was as we went through each individual province. As we moved about, some of the perspectives that were given to us were not, as has been discussed in the media, all that sweet to our palate; indeed, some of them were very sour to our palate.
Some of those perspectives have changed today. As I recall, when we met the Nova Scotia people, there was a suggestion that their attitude was: “Why worry about the offshore ownership? Why not do a split of the income instead of the ownership rights?” That has been taken care of in the most recent federal budget, where they have split 75-25 on the resources. Again, there was some question about the ownership, but they are not worrying about that. The budget has given a potential split of the revenues from the offshore resources.
There was a strange statement from Mr. Hatfield when we went down to New Brunswick. His idea of equalization, “The equalization program is very good; we believe in it. We also believe in a very strong central government that would tax those other jurisdictions to equalize us so we could have some of that money. But let us decide how to implement those programs and not have it come down from Ottawa.” There again, they are supportive of equalization, as our document is, but they view it from a different perspective.
As I have mentioned, Nova Scotia’s perspective of gas and fishery resources was different even amongst their different members who were sitting around the table. They had a difference with other provinces as to how fishing rights had to be split. We tried to look at that. We learned a great deal. Coming from a province with very inland fisheries, we did not know a great deal about the fishery perspectives, but we did learn from that document,
When we met with the mandarins in Ottawa, as I mentioned last week, we learned how Ottawa’s viewpoint was the only viewpoint. When it gets to the committee, I hope the political level will soften that hard approach and there will be some compromise.
We also met with the Senate. Although we have discussed the Senate in our document, the Senate was very sure that it had a place, although not as we had described it -- the senators had some of our draft positions before them -- but a place only in the federal area. They did not think they could be of assistance to the provincial area except as being a method of communication -- not a house of the provinces, as has been discussed, or any other creature that was not traditionally in the federal government.
The Yukon, as we state in our report, is a very particular place; this became even more evident when we saw that they had two levels of government and when we saw how recently the white man -- I will use the term, although some may not like it -- had been there as compared to the native or Indian populations, who have been there for so long and for so many generations. Indeed, we appeared as interlopers upon their land in a different way from what they had been associated with and for different purposes. We were there layering the white man’s legislation into their way of life. This became much more vivid to us as we saw the magnitude of the land, how the people were using the land, and how the interloping white man had come upon the scene as recently as 75 years ago.
It became very evident in our discussions that the claims of the native people there had to be resolved in a different way before they could proceed, because they do have two parallel governments proceeding forward, that which was created by the federal government and that which the native people are still continuing in their traditional habits. That will have to be resolved, as we will have to resolve some of what I call the white man’s jurisdictional disputes. Again, those two disputes will have to be resolved in that particular area.
Alberta presented another perspective entirely. To describe it, one would have to say, “Let us look at the body language, the body English, that is being used.” One did not need the words. The perception from those politicians we met was that there was a position they had that was not to be moved from and, as I said, it was exuding from their bodies. Indeed, we did not meet with their politicians as politicians; they found another umbrella for us to meet under. We were not really meeting with their government. I think they were apprehensive as to what was going on with this committee. It was a new process to have another provincial committee meeting with them on an issue that was being spoken to at another level.
In Saskatchewan, we could see that their legislation had developed in a certain way. If we go back in their history, there was an intertwining of religion and politics. A lot of their statutes had a closer relationship to religion and politics and a total reliance upon the land and, more recently, its resources. If the land and its products were not successful, that government and their people were not successful. They felt that, as a result of what was taking place at the federal level, there was going to be an intrusion on what they could see was a way of life as embodied in their statutes. We and other jurisdictions possibly do not have so much of this.
In Newfoundland, we saw the insertion of a law, an economy, a newfound resource upon a traditional way of life -- a fishing way of life, an entrepreneurial, rugged, individualist way of life. Their life was so dependent upon those habits of nature and the abundance of their natural resources, more so than ours. In Ontario we have a manufacturing base, in some respects an artificially created one, while theirs in Newfoundland is based on historical patterns that still continue on. This quick and heavy intrusion of oil in all its magnitude, bringing on such drastic changes that we do not see in our economy, was taking place there.
How can we accommodate each one of these with legislation? It is a very difficult process indeed to draft a piece of legislation that would apply across each province and take care of each of their problems, their concerns, their way of life and their historical situations.
In Quebec I found they could see their present, their past and their future not so greatly dominated by these new economic powers as by a communications bombardment from the outside world. They had a total feeling of their own destiny and were trying to preserve those roots and the cohesive closeness that was not there in the other political jurisdictions we visited.
How do we resolve all this? It was not, at times, a game for politicians or historians; it was not a game that could be resolved by academics or theorists. At times in my jesting mind I thought the way to resolve this -- because they are all looking at what had gone on in the past -- was to have an accountant sit down and resolve it. Each thought they had not got the best deal they should have over the years and the precise economic facts did not coincide. There were certain prescribed lax memories on certain subjects and very good memories on others and yet historical myths that might have been put off. I thought at times that only a group of accountants could resolve this problem.
One problem we had that is ongoing with the present debate was the subject of communications, which is on page 23 of our report. On that subject, few members had any knowledge of the ramifications of the communications industry today, in the political area and in our own perspective of what we can see is taking place in this debate. I am sure, if we were to look back at the communications system that was in place in 1867, we would see how slow it was and how the constitutional debate and events preceding that took a considerable number of years. I am sure the time frame was conditional upon the mode and method of communications at that time, which were slow.
Today we have instantaneous communications. As we were trying to put together suggestions and writing the report, and possibly statutes, the events were probably outstripping what we could put in words. This is because of the mechanical and electronic advancements they have seen made with satellites, TVs, and computers.
Without giving them too big a plug, I looked at the Globe and Mail, which calls itself the national newspaper. Before when you read it in another jurisdiction, it bore very little resemblance to a national newspaper, and we had heard so often about central Ontario and how central Ontario regards itself as being in the number one position. It could not extend further than that. When you read the Globe and Mail in another jurisdiction and compared it to the local newspapers there was a vast difference.
Today, the Globe and Mail is now attempting to be, by the use of the satellites and the communications industry, a national newspaper. They fire the printed material through an electronic system and produce their paper elsewhere. The communications industry today, all of it, is advancing in technical aspects so much faster than we can even comprehend. As we were finishing printing, something new would take place.
The position of the Premier of this province, the positions of the Premiers of other provinces and the position of the Prime Minister, each and every one of those has been portrayed, exhibited, analysed, commented upon, stretched and divided. Every combination of ramifications of their speeches and their positions, how they have changed and how it can be perceived to be changed, has been presented to the individuals, those citizens we represent. All in all, it is a very difficult task that takes place in today’s modern communications.
If one could only go back to the pace of 1861, one might resolve this problem we have. The dilemma we are in might be resolved with a slower and better pace. We might come out with some better solutions than what we have today where we have a combination of three or four areas -- the Parliament of Britain, the Parliament of Canada and the different legislation -- discussing the same problem all at once. Some are leading, some are following and some are going off in different directions. We cannot all stay together and sing from the same hymn book. At times, it would be interesting if we could sing the same hymn from that hymn book, but that is a difficult task.
I hope that what we have done here will assist in some way, and I am sure it will, the debate that is ongoing at present. If it assists our Premier and those people who will be attending the conferences in the future in Ottawa and the present debate that is ongoing about that constitution, it will be worthwhile. If it assists that constitutional debate in any little way, any small way, any small denomination, and resolves some of the problems we have, if it does only that in such a small way, I think this committee and the members of this committee will have aided with that very difficult task.
I would hope that the committee, as it has set for itself even greater tasks, might be an ongoing situation. If they resolve the first little bit, and since we are unfolding and developing, we will presently need this ongoing discussion and ongoing reform to accommodate our people in this and other provinces to present themselves fully in the future as they see what they want and as their desires come up.
I end my discussion on this topic at this time and I compliment all the individuals, including our chairman, who assisted in putting this document together. It was not an easy task at times. We all had different positions, some of them more or less down the centre of the spectrum and some on the outside edges of that spectrum of thoughts and extremes both politically and constitutionally speaking. We covered a lot of territory in the geographic land. We covered a lot of territory in the legal perspective of constitutional debate. I think from it we have added to that constitutional debate in a very positive way and in a way we can say to ourselves, “We did our job, and we met our task at this particular time.”
Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure to have the opportunity to participate in this debate tonight, particularly after having had the very considerable pleasure of participating in the committee over a three-month period. It was a pleasure because of the depth of personal learning that took place. It was a pleasure because of the quality of the people with whom I had the privilege to work.
I particularly want to pay attention to our chairman. I think the simplest way to describe him is as a man of grace. That term is often used to describe a lady, and I want to be very careful when I use it towards our chairman. What I mean to indicate is the very graceful, fair and just way that he deliberated over and headed the discussions, here in this House and as we moved across the country from place to place and from province to province. I was also extremely impressed by the openness and the nonpartisan position that our chairman took on every single issue without any exception. For that, I want to say thank you to our chairman.
I also want to say thank you to a most excellent staff, to Smirle Forsyth and Franco Carrozza for shepherding us around from time to time and having to make innumerable phone calls. I think even they have lost track of the number of phone calls that had to be made from one end of this country to the other and the number of requests we made of them.
I wish to thank Linda Grayson for so many things. There was one thing in particular which we came to recognize; it was her inimitable style of writing. There were a number of times when, quite frankly, we were stuck in terms of how to express something. Linda found a way out of it.
I also want to thank Kathleen Hall and Mary Beth Currie for their most excellent research efforts, for the way they could in a matter of hours, not days, pull together material that we needed so very much in order to take the next step. They never once let us down. As a matter of fact, it was more often we who let them down by not being able to communicate in plain, sensible English exactly what it was that we wanted.
I notice that our reporter, Pat Girouard, is with us tonight. I was just remarking a little while ago it is full circle. She joined us most of the way and frequently after the important discussions her plain, good common sense often gave us a little bit of direction when she would come up to one or the other of us and say, “Let us think that one over again.” It was very pleasant to have Pat with us in many ways, but I particularly appreciated that common sense. I hope I have not forgotten anyone because I certainly would not want to. We had an excellent staff.
As someone who had been involved in the educational system of this province for quite a number of years, quite frankly I thought I knew a great deal more about the constitutional background of this country than what I discovered I knew. That is what I meant a few minutes ago when I indicated it was a very personal learning experience. I wish to thank my colleagues on the committee and in the Legislature for providing me with that opportunity.
I was also one who frequently questioned the value of members of this Legislature travelling outside the confines of this building and outside the confines of the province. I often questioned the value of that. After having had the opportunity to serve on this committee and recognizing the particular nature of this committee, I must say, it was a most invaluable experience. Our travelling was not that much. I think it totalled about two or two and a half weeks out of almost three months.
I came to recognize the difference between just reading what others had written in terms of their position and then having the opportunity to meet them face to face to say to them, “What did you mean by that?” or to have the opportunity to say to them, “This is what we meant” when we said or wrote something or whatever the case may be. So often it happened that we learned we had misinterpreted or misunderstood what the other had intended.
For a committee trying to deal with a problem like this one, it is absolutely vital to get out and meet face to face other Canadians both inside and outside the legislatures across this country and have the opportunity to speak to them person to person about these issues. I certainly came back from our travels a much wiser man than when I left.
My colleagues who have spoken before have indicated the different way in which we were received across this country. I had the same experience. For example, I know before we started out there was some intimation that there were places across Canada that did not hold the province and residents of Ontario in the highest regard. I am not saying they disliked us in a hostile sense. What very much came across was that we were the focal point or flashpoint for a great deal of their hostility in terms of their place in this country. As my colleagues have pointed out before, we felt it most strongly when we got to Alberta. We felt it again in Newfoundland and a touch less when we got to Quebec. I do not want to appear to use unduly strong language but, quite frankly, I was shaken as an Ontarian and as a Canadian at the depth of the feeling. Initially, I must admit I took it very personally and I was somewhat offended by it. But the more contact I had, the more I began at least to understand why they felt the way they did. I cannot say I agree. I think in a number of cases we from Ontario are being unfairly used as the focal point for the hostility of a lot of other peoples across this country. I do not know what we can do about that, but that is the sense I have.
But having had the experience of actually meeting these people face to face, at least I came away with a clear understanding of why they felt the way they did. If I can share with you, Mr. Speaker, a little story that was told to us in the Yukon, perhaps it might highlight it. We were told of their concern about not having the status of a province and of the way in which they felt they were being used by the rest of the country.
One member of their assembly said to us: “When a mine is developed in our territory, what happens? First of all, they bring all the skilled workers in from Vancouver. Then they ship all the minerals to Japan. All the profits go to Bay Street in Toronto, the taxes go to Ottawa and we are left with a hole in the ground. On top of that, to add insult to injury, sometimes they make us fill up the hole.”
When we first heard it, some of us chuckled a little bit under our breath because it had a comical side to it. As we thought about it more, we began to appreciate the message that was behind that. I think it was a very effective way of pointing out to us from Ontario: “Hey, we have some feelings out here. We are not prepared to sit back and allow that to continue.” It was important for us to have that experience.
There has been a great deal of discussion about the relevancy of our committee. I want to say, as one member of this committee, I am proud to have my name on this report. It is not, as my colleagues from all sides of the House have indicated, a perfect document. It is an exercise in consensus building.
I, along with a number of my colleagues, did not agree with every statement in here. I did not agree with all the recommendations we finally printed in this book. But it was an effort at building a consensus, and we were successful. We were successful in getting a consensus except for one point -- in my judgement anyway.
I think this is a model we can offer quite freely and quite openly, and with a certain sense of pride, to our fellow Canadians. When a group of people with different political philosophies, from different economic backgrounds representing a broad range of people across this province, from the north and south, can come to this kind of consensus, then it is possible for others to do it. It is in that sense that I am quite proud of what we accomplished.
It was inevitable, almost from the start, that we were not going to come up with all the answers. We were not even going to come up with most of the answers. But I think we learned to ask the right questions, and that was a valuable learning experience in itself. There are in this Legislature now 16 more people who have a deeper sense of understanding of what the important questions are and have made at least a beginning in finding the answers to those questions.
I indicated a few minutes ago there was only one area where in my judgement we really did not get a consensus. That is in looking at the bilingual or dual nature of this country. Unfortunately, that was the one issue, right up until the very last day, on which they could not seem to arrive at a consensus.
That was unfortunate because over and over again in our deliberations, the inherent and unique duality of this country came up. When we were talking about the Senate and what the Senate should be able to do for the country, the duality of the country was a point of view. When we talked about the Supreme Court, we made reference to the duality of the country. When we talked about communications, we spoke of the duality of this country. When we talked about family law, we recognized the duality of this country. Over and over again, when we talked about the amending formula and about the whole concept or the whole principle of patriation, we recognized the duality of this country.
I am more impressed than ever with the essential, unique and significant duality of this country. However we end up with a constitutional document, it must be one that recognizes that.
I was, quite frankly, disappointed that we could not agree in this document on a reference to the bilingual nature of Ontario. If duality means anything, it means a recognition that we have a significant population in this province representing the French-speaking Canadians of our country. My understanding is that there are more French-speaking Canadians in Ontario -- outside of Quebec -- than there are in all the other provinces put together. If that is not exactly right, it is fairly close to it.
So it is absolutely essential, if we are going to have the dual nature of the country accepted and enshrined in our constitutional agreement, that we have to show some leadership and some guidance and, yes, some vision in this province.
I know the political ramification of that. I know the political difficulties in the province.
I don’t underestimate for a moment the political difficulties that many of my colleagues in this Legislature would have when they have to go back to their own ridings. As a matter of fact, I come from a riding myself where less than two percent of the population is French-speaking. I recognize that problem. I recognize a number of my colleagues will have it. But nevertheless, it is one of those examples in leadership that the members of this Legislature are simply going to have to face up to. It is unfortunate that that was one of the areas that we could not come to consensus on.
There were a couple of others that I personally disagreed with my colleagues on and I would like to refer to them briefly. I believe that we should have a much stronger statement in our document about the free movement of people, goods and services across this country. It seems to me that if Canada as a country, a unity, has any meaning whatsoever, if the concept of being a Canadian citizen has any meaning whatsoever, surely it means that any Canadian has the right to go any place in this country, to work any place in this country, to invest any place in this country, to start a business any place in this country, to compete any place in this country.
If we are going to start putting up barriers, for whatever reason, then I think we diminish the concept of the unity of Canada. I believe we diminish the concept of Canadianism and the concept of Canadian citizenship, at least as I understand it. That was one of the areas where my colleagues and I did not completely agree and where I think in our document we have a statement that is too soft. As time goes on perhaps we can firm that one up.
Another area was with respect to offshore resources. The majority of the members of our committee came to the conclusion that offshore resources should be treated in exactly the same way as onshore resources. In particular we were speaking to the claim of Newfoundland that they would have full control of the offshore resources under the seabed out to 200 miles, which would be the international limit, and I believe out to almost 450 miles, which would be the limit of the continental shelf.
Quite frankly, that was one of the areas in which I disagreed with my colleagues. I do not believe that should be the case. I believe the offshore resources should belong to the entire country. I believe the province that is closest to the resources should have a significant proportion of those. I do not doubt that whatsoever. But I do not agree with our finding in the report that they should be solely the property of one province. They should not be solely owned; they should not be -- except for a few exemptions we had in our report -- the sole jurisdiction of one province. But, once again, in the sense of consensus, we wrote a report that was the best effort at which we could get consensus.
I want to speak very briefly about the decisions that have been made by our federal government. Those of us who supported this constitutional reform report would pretty well have to go along with them. We say very clearly in our report that we believe patriation should take place. We say very clearly in our report that there should be an amending formula, preferably one that is similar to the Victoria charter. We say very clearly in our report that there should be a charter of rights, including linguistic rights. We say very clearly in our report that the provincial governments should have a stronger say in resource ownership. All of those things are what the federal government of this country is incorporating in the message that I hope will be sent to Britain.
It is very difficult for me, as one member of the committee, to see on the one hand how we can subscribe to this report and at the same time not subscribe essentially to what is taking place in our country at the present time.
The reference to the Senate in our report I think is important because there were two problems we tried to address. The first one was the need for the provincial governments to have a greater input, a greater sense of participation, at the central level. On the basis of our recommendations as to how the Senate should be formed, that would happen. The second major problem we attempted to address was the possibility of having some proportional representation in place at the central government level. We know from time to time how federal elections very much distort the popular vote across this country when compared with the actual number of seats obtained by various political parties in the House of Commons.
Therefore, when we spoke of the Senate and the restructuring of the Senate, we spoke to that as well. I want to draw particular attention to that, because it was in this kind of a spirit, this spirit of truly trying to discover what were the real questions, the issues and the problems and then trying to find some way in which we could at least begin to speak to them, that we formed our report.
I want to point out that we have the issue of the native people in this country in a separate part of our report. I want to make it very clear to anyone who might read the report and misunderstand that we did not make it a separate part of the report because we wanted to segregate the native people from the mainstream of the population of Canada. We made it a separate part because we wanted to be absolutely sure that the particular concerns and needs of our native people were highlighted in a specific way.
As one member of the committee, I want to point out -- how shall I say it? -- the depth of concern, the depth almost of shame that I felt, as one Canadian, as I came into contact more and more with the problems faced by our native people -- shame perhaps when I look at the easy, hypocritical way that we as Canadians point our finger at other countries. We point our finger at certain European, African and Asiatic countries and say, “Isn’t it terrible that they teach some of their people in this particular way?” It is certainly obvious to me, and I think to the majority of the members of our committee, that the way in which the native people of Canada have been treated by both the federal government and the various provincial governments is nothing we can be very proud of. We wanted to highlight in a most particular and most specific way that we recognize those concerns, and we made just a very small beginning in recommending how those concerns should be addressed.
As we went on, I think many of us in the committee began to discover things about ourselves. I, for one, discovered that I am very much a centralist; I have a sense of this country which is much greater than the combination of just its parts. I discovered that I am very much a nationalist and that I want desperately -- and I use that word deliberately -- my country to be fully and completely in control of its own destiny. Quite frankly, I am one Canadian who is not prepared any longer to see the constitution of our country, the contractual arrangement under which our people live together, in the hands of another government.
There has been some speculation recently along these lines: “What is all the rush? Why all of a sudden? Why overnight? Why in a few weeks do we have to solve this constitutional problem?” One of the things I discovered that I had not been as aware of is that this discussion, this debate and this attempt at reconciliation have been going on for more than 50 years. It goes right back to 1927 in this country. On 10 different occasions the federal and provincial governments of this country have attempted to negotiate a settlement. On each and every one of those occasions, for different reasons and from different parts of the country, inevitably the negotiations failed.
I think one of the things we realized as we travelled across the country was that the negotiations inevitably are going to fail; that each part of this country has a sense of its own importance and an unwillingness to give up certain things. Therefore, we have simply come to the point where we have to say, “Enough is enough; let’s get on with the job.” It is my very strong sense of nationalism -- I hope a good sense of nationalism rather than a misplaced one -- that leads me to want to bring it home, to patriate our constitution.
Finally, may I say that I discovered and I have tried to transmit to some of my constituents the sense that our constitution is not a dry document sitting up on a shelf somewhere gathering dust. It is very much the contract by which people in Canada live together and agree to live together. It is very much a document that affects our daily lives with respect to family law, with respect to communications, with respect to mobility rights and with respect to our courts. All of these things inherently affect us on an almost daily basis. If there is one thing that the members of this Legislature can transmit to their constituents around this province, it is the vital human daily importance of that constitutional document.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Mr. Speaker, the constitution for me was a dry document. The process we went through often was very dry, but the emotion I built by the end of it left me full of anger and with a sense of melancholy about the process we have been going through and our country is going through.
I wanted to start my remarks tonight by reading from a poem by Dennis Lee called Civil Elegies. It was written in 1968 prophesying the end of Canada if we do not take action. It speaks mostly about our colonial mentality, but many parts of it, I think, speak to the growth I went through in the process we have gone through this summer:
To be our own men
In dread to live the land
Our own harsh country beloved
the prairie, the foothills
And for me it is linked by rapids
by stream-fed lake
Threading north to the terminal vistas
of black spruce in a bitter cherished land
It is a farm after farm in the waste
of the continental outcrop
For me it is shield.
I was born in the shield area. I lived most of my lifetime in the foothills of the shield. There is something about that kind of country that gives one, I think, a sense of the spiritual that Dennis Lee speaks about a great deal in his poem.
I have never understood why, as a nation, we have not been able to grasp our identity. We are northern, we are vast, we are separated and regional, we are landed immigrants and invaders in a lot of ways and we are a country with an historic cultural quality. That has always been a very intrinsic part of my being and it has been strongly linked with the land that I grew up in.
I sense that one of the things Dennis Lee is speaking about is how we as a nation have sold out our nationhood, our resources and our guts to achieve a standard of living, and in so doing somehow missed nationhood and somehow maintained ourselves as colonials. Now that we are at this crisis in our history, I have a terrible feeling that we will not have the political courage or the integrity of leadership to keep our country intact.
Therefore, I speak tonight reading an elegy. It is a premature elegy, I admit, but I have a great sense of anger that our leaders in this country have not taken their duty seriously. I hope the members of the committee will forgive me for not going through the collegial listing of all the members, how well they have done, our splendid chairman and the other staff people who supported us so well. Suffice it to say that sometimes a few good gestures between asphalt and the sky come about, and I think we tried. We had a few good gestures. The last part of a line from the same poem is, “They might have been adequate once.” I have a sense they are not adequate now at all, and I regret that very much.
I think we failed because we were overtaken by time, because we were a reluctant child of this Legislature. We were born far too late. We have not lived our own life. We have been an adjunct to the lives of the 11 men who, in many ways, control this country. Finally, in my view, we were only an appendage, just a limb, and we did not have a mind of our own. That came up in two of the most vital areas that we should have made major decisions on and failed to.
In my view, those 11 men, as the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) said the other day, were too parochial; their minds have been set on elections, on polls, on elusive majorities, and they have not understood what their job was. They failed us desperately. Even now, as we are reading our report into this Legislature, we have been bypassed by time again and we are finding unilateral action being taken at the federal level. I do not disagree with parts of it, but I just feel it is going too far and I feel it is destroying the Confederation nature of our country. I am very disturbed by it.
I believe our comments on patriation which can be found in that document were right. It should not have been brought back with a whole pile of trimmings. It should have been brought back with patriation and an amending formula if we could do it; if not, then with everything else preserved. Adding to that package -- and all our federal people are involved in this process -- is going to cause incredible problems for the Parliament of Britain on a constitutional basis. We have all received letters indicating what is going on there.
I think our amending formula showed some creativity. I disagree with the member for Kitchener-Wilmot; I think our economic union statement was an acceptance of the reality of Canada and was very useful in the debate across the country. All our meetings reflected a desire to achieve consensus, to find a meeting place for the divergent ideas on our nation and our aspirations for its future. I wish the same thing could be said for the leaders of this country, but I do not believe it can be.
If we have failed in our mandate -- that mandate did not accept the status quo, and I believe we have failed in that; I believe we failed also in trying to take into account the aspirations of all Canadians -- I believe we have to place part of the blame not on ourselves but on the other agenda that was going on and a great deal of the blame on the Premier of this province (Mr. Davis).
In my view the two most serious areas of failure by our committee were the matters of natural resources and language rights. They are the two areas in which Ontario could have moved and done something useful, but we did not manage to do that. I place a lot of the blame for our not getting around to doing anything major on resources on the spectre of our Premier sitting in our committee during the last few weeks of our deliberations.
I have an image of the Premier standing in this House in the last couple of days, wagging his finger at the leaders of the opposition parties, saying we want world price. Somebody raised an issue that we all talked about in that committee, that Ontario has to realize there has to be some movement there. That was all that was suggested. Instead of responding to that in a statesmanlike fashion, our Premier started to play politics with the two opposition parties. That is not what we should be getting at this point.
That was hanging over our heads in the last two weeks. It was hanging over the heads of the member for Armourdale (Mr. McCaffrey) and anybody else who wanted to look at this thing realistically. That was unfair. That is why we had an amendment to our position on resources added in the very last minutes of our deliberations. After we had said that “long-term guarantees of supply are critical to Ontario and require acceptance of higher prices,” all of a sudden we had this thing tacked on which moves us right away from it: “The rate of price increase, however, must be tied to an appropriate agreement on the fair distribution of energy revenues in a fashion that respect both producers’ rights and the broad economic interests of all Canadians.” That just watered the whole damned thing down; there was no movement at all. I think I know where that comes from. I do not think it was just from the feelings of the member for York West (Mr. Leluk); it was from a pressure that was on us all.
I want to speak more specifically about the language rights issue, because it is in that area that I am most angry with our Premier. I wish he were here tonight. I do not know why he is not here tonight or why this House is not filled, because there should be a passionate debate. It should not be just a coming back in again with a little report that may be shelved forever or allow us to do another 100 years of work as the company law committee has done. That is not what we are about. This is our country we are talking about, and the Premier should be here and the benches on both sides should be filled.
When I saw what the Premier was trying to do the other day in his estimates, I was furious. He started to try to play off section 133 on which all members of the committee spent so much time and hard debate in trying to hammer out a consensus in good faith. He started playing politics, trying to play off the member for Riverdale (Mr. Renwick) against the member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Cassidy), saying, “The member for Riverdale is not in favour of it and the member for Ottawa Centre is.”
It struck me what was going on. He was going back to 1979, to the separate schools issue, trying to touch a chord of dissension in this province at a time when we do not need that. That is no role for a Premier of this province.
Those old racial feuds we have had in this province over the last century should be squashed; they should not be added to. The Premier of Ontario is the first Premier, the senior Premier in this country, and to try to make those kinds of distinctions -- specious at best -- is unworthy of the leader of this province.
We don’t need an alley fighter. We need a statesman and we need him desperately at this point. His whole action throughout this whole debate from the national scene has been one of smiling, self-sufficient, happy Ontario that does not want to move from the status quo. He has not accepted the mandate that we all accepted in that resolution here. Now he is coming back, knowing there is an election in the next little while, and he is going to try to use those two issues as politics in this province for his purposes to get re-elected. I say that is shameful.
We struggled with section 133. I am proud of the part I had in getting us to some sort of consensus that would actually have it written into our report so that members could see what the heck 133 said and that could also open up the matter of looking at it again in the future because it is foolhardy for us to abandon it.
Mr. Leluk: We said we are going to look at it.
Mr. R. F. Johnston: Yes. I am glad we did that and I am pleased we got it in, but it was a great fight to get it in. The member won’t deny that. People didn’t want the wording in.
I believe very firmly in the regionalism and the duality of this country. I believe it is part of the strength of this country and it must be maintained. If French-Canadians have to look at Quebec as the only place where they can really be at home, where they can really be chez eux, we are in big trouble because they are going to choose an independent Quebec and our country’s days are numbered.
It is up to Manitoba, New Brunswick and Ontario to take action to provide all the rights of citizenship to our French citizens in our provinces. It is our failure to respond to that challenge that will hasten the demise of this country. Ontario has a very special role to play in this because, as the member for Kitchener-Wilmot mentioned, we have the largest single number of French-speaking people in this continent outside of Quebec, and we have a long-standing history of having mistreated them, which we have only recently started to undo. At this crucial time in our history, it was the time for action, and we have missed that.
I commend to anybody in this assembly this document, The Canadian Constitution and the Rights of Francophones. If one wants to read the history of Canada from the French view, it is vitally important. In 1912, we passed an Education Act in this province which basically stopped the teaching of French and we didn’t rescind that properly until 1968. When that was brought up, it went to the federal House, much as our problems now are trying to be dealt with in the federal House. There is a danger, in my view, that section 133 will be dealt with in the federal House.
Ernest Lapointe tried to bring in a bill, which I will read, because the parallels between that time, which was a time of war, and our time, which is a time of national peril, are very obvious.
The resolution read: “The House, especially in these times of sacrifice and universal anxiety, where all our efforts should be united to bring armed victory, fully acknowledging the principle of provincial rights and the necessity for each child to receive a complete English education, with all due respect ask the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to see to it that the privilege extended to children of French origin not be interfered with as far as their education in their mother tongue is concerned.”
After three days of debate it was defeated. There was a mild bit of action taken in 1927 in this province, but not until 1968 was it actually really dealt with. In the last 12 years there has been a lot done. I commend the government on the things that have been done in terms of the schools, the courts and government services, but it has all been done with a kind of reluctance, a back-door attitude and with a lack of pride in the accomplishment. That seems to me to be a lack of willingness to talk about the founding premise underneath which we are going to give those rights. It must be that the government believes in those rights.
Giving rights to one group does not take them away from another. Allowing a French child to learn French is not shoving French down an English child’s throat. This government should be proud to stand up and say that. For some reason, it wants to back away from that sort of thing.
The failures of this government are so symbolic. They reflect a fear of backlash and a lack of faith in the underlying principles. They are basically Quisling in nature. Take two things that have happened recently. “Ontario Place opens Ontario North Now -- a wonderful new exhibition.” The Ontario northland was opened by francophones essentially and there is not one word of French in that pavilion. If one believes in French rights one does not give me the reasons the Premier gave me for not putting French into that pavilion -- the lack of time, lack of space and lack of money. It goes there automatically if one has respect for what that culture has done within this community.
Let us look at what they have done with the French language advisory committees. The member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy), the member for Hamilton Mountain (Mr. Charlton) and myself raised the question about a full enumeration. If one is going to give to French-speaking people of this province the right to elect to these committees, one has to allow them to identify their voters and give them full enumeration. Instead, what we got is a runaround for a year and a half then a half measure. In the city of Toronto it produced 1,500 names of people who are going to be able to vote for their representatives on the FLACs.
That is a major insult. It is not enough that the Premier does not get up and answer the question directly, but he evades the question whether or not he is going to make sure that next year the question is put on as, “Are you French-speaking on the enumeration list?” This is what was asked for and it is simple, “Etes-vous d’expression française?” That is all that needs to be put on, that and a following question, “Do you want to be an elector contributor?”
That is what should have been done in the first place. He would not even commit himself to that, knowing what a fiasco had been perpetrated. How does that speak to the French-speaking people of Ontario? It tells them they are second class. It is just that straightforward. If one accepts the principle that they should be elected to those boards then surely one has to give them their full electoral rights.
I want to deal with what the Premier is going to try to ram down our throats over here -- that is that somehow we want institutionalized bilingualism and he does not. I want to talk about the distinction between ourselves and himself. I want to go through section 133 because I have only a couple of minutes before I concede my time. These are the things he says we are being so outrageous about:
“Either English or French language may be used by any person in the debates of our House.” We can already do that. I myself, just being a student of French, did that symbolically as we opened our debate last spring. We have been able to do that. We have that now. It is not a change in section 133. “Both of those languages shall be used in respect of records and journals of the House.” As I understand it we are already in the process of doing that and those will be sent out on request. We are already part way there.
Nobody was arguing with the nature of needing to phase it in. Everybody in the committee understood that might be necessary over a number of years. The same thing goes for the statutes to be printed and published in both languages. It is my understanding that since 1978 that is being done here. It is a slow process. We all understand it is a slow process, but it is being done. Why does the premier want to dissociate himself from section 133?
The only other matter in section 133 has to do with the courts. In the last number of years we have made great progress in the courts. Since 1969 it is possible to have criminal actions dealt with in the courts. I think I have a list of 10 different designated court areas in this province which are now available for provincial family court, for offences under the provincial court, for small claims. These are in Algoma, Cochrane, Essex, Niagara South, Nipissing, Ottawa-Carleton, Prescott-Russell, Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry, Sudbury and Timiskaming. We are already moving in that direction. The only kinds of things we do not have at the moment are things to do with the preliminary inquiries, bail hearings, special remedies -- whatever that is, I am not really clear on that, but my lawyer friends can explain that to me -- and some of the other higher courts.
We are at a crisis point in our history, and the Premier of this province wants to claim we are shoving institutional bilingualism down the throats of Ontarians because we want to go a tiny half measure farther than he has already gone. What better time is there to take some action? This is the time to move. This is the time to make the statements. This is the time to come out of the closet. He is not going to run into opposition over here if he comes forward. He will run into praise. He is not going to run into opposition from the French-speaking people in this province; he will run into praise.
I am worried that he is going to start using that bogyman around the province on us. When he is in a French-speaking community in the north he is going to talk about all the services they are doing, but when he is in southwestern Ontario they are going to get some of that separation, that division of our community. That is no role for the Premier to be taking in this province. We are almost of one mind as to where we should be going. He should just come up front with it. There is no reason not to.
I got a letter today -- one of those letters we all get, because I know the chairman was talking about the phone call he got -- from woman who said to me: “Trudeau is trying to shove French down our throats. Soon you will not be able to go to court and speak in English.” That is what is in her letter. I am not going to pander back to that in a partisan way and attack Mr. Trudeau. I am going to reply that is not the fact and lay out what the facts are. It is not going to gain me a vote. You are darn right it is not going to gain me a vote, but it is my duty to do it. If we really believe in this country, then one has to stand up to that sort of thing and not in a backhanded kind of way.
I am speaking with more of the anger than the melancholy, but I do not believe our federal and provincial heads have responded to the challenge that was put before them. I am terribly afraid of what is going to happen with all the unilateral action that is happening federally and how that conflicts with our traditions in this country. I am worried about the future, but I have what Dennis Lee called “a bloody-minded reverence for my country” and a long will to be in this country and to have this country stay Canada. I will keep yelling and shouting, as I have been tonight, until we darn well get our country to face up to what it should be and accept itself for the great place it is. Hopefully our leaders will come along too.
Mr. Leluk: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to join in this debate.
Mr. Lawlor: The member has been on his feet all day.
Mr. Leluk: The member for Lakeshore noticed. It is a great day, maybe my last. One never knows.
Mr. Speaker, at the outset I would like to commend the committee chairman, the member for Humber, on an excellent job that he did with his committee over the summer months. Also, I would like to express my personal appreciation to the committee staff, Dr. Linda Grayson, senior research officer and our researchers, Kathleen Hall and Mary Beth Currie, Smirle Forsyth, our clerk and his assistant, Franco Carrozza for their valuable assistance.
I believe despite all the esoteric knowledge of the professional constitutional mandarins, the real solution to our problems of national unity ultimately lies in the goodwill of Canadians right across this great land of ours. Perhaps because we members spend so much time in the political fish-bowl we are a bit jaded when it comes to the expression of deep-felt cherished emotions like love of country.
But most Canadians that I know, in their own reserved and almost quiet way, feel strongly about Canada. They are profoundly optimistic about the potential of their country and rightly proud of its past achievements. At the same time, however, they are confused by the present constitutional impasse and more than a little resentful of the posturing and politicking that accompanies federal-provincial squabbles. They simply do not understand why the politicians seem intent on frittering away their birthright.
Politicians believe that Canadians could find it within themselves to solve most of our problems, and certainly the ordinary citizen often seems more willing to work positively to deal with our national dilemma than some of our national or provincial leaders.
I can sympathize with this attitude. Before I was appointed to sit on the constitutional reform committee I, too, was somewhat baffled by the complexities and had impatience with the apparent pettiness of much of the constitutional debate. Having been a member of the committee, I am now a little wiser, I hope. I now have a better feeling for the strains and divisions within Canada.
Mr. Lawlor: The member even looks wiser.
Mr. Leluk: I thank the member for Lakeshore.
Travelling across Canada this summer, I saw for myself the deep-rooted feelings that have arisen in every region. I heard for myself the anger and bitterness as some Canadians accused other Canadians of selfishness.
At the same time, however, the meetings we had with other provincial legislators opened a line of communications that had never really been used before to help dispel regional frustrations. I believe our meetings helped to clarify our thoughts and broaden our understanding of constitutional issues and may even have helped to encourage a positive attitude towards Ontario among other jurisdictions.
I believe personal contact and ongoing discussions among legislators are essential if a consensus on constitutional reform is to be achieved. I think there should be more of these meetings between provincial legislators in the future.
By now in this debate, everyone knows that some of the very strong differences of opinion that are dividing Canadians also appeared in our committee. This was only to be expected, and I suppose a good argument around strongly held principles can be a therapeutic exercise. But just as we all know that continued constitutional haggling will do nothing to reinforce Canadian unity, so too all of us on the committee knew that we should strive to reach some sort of consensus in our report. I want to stress that this is what we have done. Our report is the best consensus that we as a committee could reach at this particular time. There are no dissenting reports, and this is the greatest value of our report as far as I am concerned.
Unlike the first ministers this past September, we were able to produce a quality document, which everyone signed, within a constrained time frame of some 11 weeks.
At the same time, all of us on the committee believe that our work is not really finished and that we have just begun a continuing process. As I mentioned before, I think the committee can be seen as a previously unused line of communication between Canadians. I feel it is important that this Legislature allow the committee to finish what it has begun, and that is an examination of many other constitutional subjects of equal and, in some cases, greater concern that require further study. These we have documented on page 34 of the report.
Some of my colleagues on the committee have already spoken at length on the report. The chairman, I thought, gave an excellent speech last Thursday evening in this assembly and covered the major topics in the report. I do not intend to be repetitive and would like to limit my discussions to the two issues of language rights and natural resources and trade.
A far as I am concerned, this province has every right to be proud of the French-language services it provides. Since 1974, we have guaranteed French-language education rights where numbers warrant, through the Education Act. This means that today more than 100,000 students are receiving their education in French. Since December 31, 1979, anyone charged under the Criminal Code of Canada has the right to be heard by a French-speaking judge and, where appropriate, jury. This is something our Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) has long prodded the federal government to do. Members will recall that we amended the Juries Act and the Judicature Act in May 1978 to make these changes possible.
In other words, this government is steadily providing more and more French-language services in this province. We have achieved this without bitterness and huge expense of a federal-style official bilingualism policy. I might add at this point that the Prime Minister of Canada seems to have accepted the validity of the Ontario government’s opposition to the official bilingualism policy when he adopted the “where numbers warrant” clause in section 23 of his charter of rights and freedoms.
Mr. Roy: Your comparisons are totally wrong.
Mr. Leluk: That is my friend’s opinion. Thus Mr. Trudeau’s resolution and our committee report are almost identical in their handling of the minority language education rights issue.
Our report states that the committee was unable to reach a consensus on the question which deals with the possibility of applying to Ontario obligations already incumbent upon Quebec and Manitoba by virtue of section 133 of the British North America Act or section 23 of the Manitoba At.
I want so say at this point that although there was no consensus, all members of our committee indicated that they wished to study this matter further before making a recommendation.
We have very little idea at this time of what the ramifications of official bilingualism might be in terms of cost and logistics. Certainly we have the horrible example of the implementation of the federal bilingualism policy to deter us from dashing in where the Prime Minister of Canada now fears to tread.
Mr. Roy: You don’t know what you are talking about.
Mr. Leluk: Sure I do. I also support minority language rights for other ethnic groups and our native peoples. The report leaves the provincial governments free to determine the timing, the degree and the method of implementing these rights. As do other committee members, I believe that we must seek to enhance the ability of each ethnic group in this province to enjoy and safeguard its heritage for succeeding generations.
I was very disappointed that the Prime Minister of Canada’s constitutional package did not address itself to this matter and did not provide for an entrenchment of cultural rights in the Canadian charter of rights and freedoms as it did for minority language education rights. When he appeared before our committee former Premier John Robarts said, “We must recognize the historic duality and the present diversity in Canada.” We are a multicultural society and the Prime Minister of Canada has failed to recognize this fact.
At the same time, I support Ontario’s current heritage language programs and our English as a second language program. Members will know that the province supports some 44 different languages in our heritage language programs with over 75,000 students. These are programs which this government has introduced without being prodded into action by any sort of constitutional requirement. That is how it should be. We in this Legislature are entirely capable of deciding what heritage language or English as a second language programs the government should deliver.
I would like to turn to the other aspect of the committee’s work that aroused the most controversy, and that is the question of natural resources and trade. It is fascinating to note how the natural resources question revolving particularly around energy pricing has now moved to the centre of the national stage. While our committee was formed just before the Quebec referendum with the threat of sovereignty-association dominating the headlines, now the price of oil and discussions of western alienation shake our national fabric.
At this point, as an aside, I would ask members to remember that last May everyone was talking about Quebec and sovereignty-association. Let us not forget that fact. Let us not forget also that in the referendum period Canadians from all across this land, and I include many in this Legislature, asked Quebeckers to choose Canada. We asked them to bear with Confederation just a little longer because the changes they so ardently desired would soon be coming.
Well, choose Canada they resoundingly did and we now have the responsibility to meet Quebec’s request for change. We must come through with the goods. For that reason alone, Mr. Trudeau’s proposals for constitutional reform deserve very serious consideration. I believe it would be a national disaster if the aspirations of Quebec were lost in the natural resources shuffle. Let us not forget that on May 19, the day before the referendum, none of us knew if our Canada would last much longer.
By now, all of us know that the previously separate questions of national unity, constitutional reform, natural resources, energy pricing and the federal budget are all part of the same larger question. It is the most difficult question of all.
What is our fundamental view of Canada? Is it a collection of 10 provinces loosely connected and each dedicated to developing itself in its own way? Or is it Canada as a nation, something greater than its 10 provincial components? From the very way I phrase the questions, members will know my answer.
My ancestors came to Canada, not Ontario. Canada was their hope and their future, not just one province. As I said a few minutes ago, I firmly believe this is how most Canadians feel about their country. Therefore, I stand four-square behind the Premier on the energy pricing question. So do all parties in this Legislature and, I suspect, most members of our committee.
It is evident, as our report states on page 20, that “the settlement of the pricing question and the subsequent issue of revenue sharing are crucial to the resolution of the constitutional question with respect to natural resources.” It is on this point that the constitution, oil and the federal budget tie together. Again, our report notes that we need a pricing agreement that gives the producing provinces a fair return for their resources. It also respects the broad economic interests of all Canadians.
I do not reject any and all price increases. I also agree with the committee’s report when it calls for provinces to own their natural resources. I have no argument there. But the essence of shared nationhood is that one group of Canadians should not get rich at the expense of another group of Canadians; and now that the price of energy is rising so fast, with no end in sight, this is exactly what I fear is happening.
Sharing wealth between the regions of Canada is one of the foundations of Confederation. We in this province have always shared the benefits of our industries, natural resources and farms with other Canadians. Equalization payments made with money largely contributed by Ontarians now run into literally billions of dollars. Very simply, we have shared. For years we paid higher oil prices to give western Canada an assured market for its oil and gas. We paid willingly.
The people of Canada gave, and still give, extremely generous incentives to western oil and gas producers under the federal Income Tax Act. In other words, we are still sharing. We have always tried to give other Canadians some of the benefit of our wealth. I ask that people in other regions of the country recognize this fact. Certainly in the past the people of Alberta and other western provinces have always believed in the principle of sharing wealth with their fellow Canadians. I ask that they continue to see this principle for the vital test of nationhood that it has always been.
I support the Premier’s position, because I believe that he speaks for the principle of sharing. So too does the federal government’s new national energy program. I am sure the people of Alberta themselves will also pass the test of shared nationhood with flying colours.
Our report ends with a note entitled The Task Ahead. I will end these remarks on the same note. The constitutional committee has worked long and hard and well. As I said a few minutes ago, it has applied inspired common sense to Canada’s constitutional debate. On the two trenchant issues of language rights and natural resources and trade, we need to do still more work. I think it is obvious that the only reason we got any sort of consensus on those two issues in the report is that we did not reach any final conclusions.
I will conclude by pointing out one last area of agreement between my opinion and the committee’s report: The work of the select committee on constitutional reform should be continued.
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to be able to participate in this debate. I too want to pay tribute to our staff. I do not want to single out any person in particular, but I suppose I alone owe a unique vote of thanks to Franco Carrozza in particular, who pushed me around the west in a wheelchair.
That is not, however, in any way to denigrate the services of our clerk. And, of course, Linda Grayson was to me magnificent. How she ever brought order out of some of the confused debates in our committee I do not know, but she never lost her cool. She was always there. She was working overtime to try to keep abreast with us in our deliberations. She was really always ahead of us, but we did not know that, I do not think. To Mary Beth Currie and Kathleen Hall, I also wish to express my appreciation.
I would like to look to a couple of points which may have been overlooked, but were not overlooked certainly in the splendid introduction to this debate given by our very fine chairman of committee. I think one of the principles that perhaps we ought to look at for a moment in time is what we have referred to colloquially in the committee as the common market principle, which is really to be found in the Powers over the Economy section which appears at page 18 of this report. I think we should all understand in great depth what the committee has had to say about this common market principle because I think both the Premier of this province and the federal package have addressed it in a somewhat different way from the approach of the committee.
There is no doubt in my mind that there was not a single member of the committee who did not subscribe to the belief that it is a right of the citizenship of every citizen of this country to be able to move freely across the country to live, to work or for whatever purposes. After a good deal of debate, we came to the conclusion that these particular rights ought not to be entrenched, but ought to be rights which are dealt with in a consultative type of relationship. I will tell members why.
We looked to the people of Newfoundland. We spoke with their very fine Minister of Mines and Energy. He pointed out to us that there were areas in Newfoundland where they had 100 per cent unemployment. It seemed to us there ought to be some flexibility built into the system whereby Newfoundland could over a period, perhaps a short period of time, give some preferences to those of its own people, its provincial people, in order that they might improve their economic status. Every province does this in some form or another, even the great province of Ontario.
When one is letting contracts, one might receive a lower tender from Quebec, but we are prepared to give an edge to our companies in Ontario. I think we should all keep that in mind as we look at the problems of the other provinces.
In the northern part of Saskatchewan they have a commitment to improving the lot of their people, particularly the native people. I do not think any of us would intend that they should not have the right to address themselves to those peculiar problems over a short term.
We decided in our committee that rather than entrenching the rights, we should allow that degree of flexibility for discussion between the federal and provincial levels to try to address local problems.
One of the things I must speak to is the subject of language rights and the principle of section 133 of the British North America Act. I Want the Premier to thoroughly understand that there was not a person on our committee who would have agreed to, or would have supported, the imposition by the federal government of that section on Ontario. However, it did seem to many of us that we -- in a very honest and emotional period of our time in this House -- made a pledge to the people of Quebec that we were not going to stay with the status quo. We were going to pay our tribute to those in Quebec who voted to remain in Canada. We must remember that they voted to remain in Canada with the very real sense of a commitment to change.
Some of the members who have spoken believe that what we have now is what the people of Quebec were seeking. I do not believe that is true. The people in Quebec were not overwhelmingly joyous at the thought of patriation or repatriation; they had other concerns. What those of us on the committee wanted to say was: “Let us move forward from our present position with pride and frankness. Let us answer those people in Quebec who have said to us as we met with them, how do you expect us to know what you are doing for the French in Ontario when you do not want the English in Ontario to know what you are doing?”
What we are saying is let us stretch our minds and our spirits for once in our lives and let us meet the challenges of this time in Canada. Let us not slink around corners with what we will do about the francophones in Ontario. Let us stand proudly in our places stating this is what this government has done and we are prepared to move forward.
I want it understood the incorporation of section 133 is not the institutionalizing of bilingualism in Ontario. If it were, the government has come part way, as has been pointed out by others. We can speak both languages in this House, those of us who have the capability. We can, legally, speak either language. Has that been institutionalizing bilingualism? Certainly not.
The steps we have taken, slow as they may have been, are welcomed by all of us on this side of the House. There is no criticism, except that we say let us keep the promises of our debate and let us move forward frankly. I do not think that is asking too much at this point in time.
I am sad that in an experience of many weeks, which I found to be really uplifting as each member honestly brought to the table a depth of concern and a sense of purpose that transcended all party lines, I think what I found almost tragic was that it was on this issue that we struck the party line.
We tried, in speaking with people across this province, to listen as well as to talk. I have to tell you, Mr. Speaker, meeting with the select committee in Halifax was an experience. We went there to discuss with them the fishery question. It was a learning process, at least for this member, knowing very little, really, about the ramifications of the fishery question. I like to think that if we had select committees right across this country we might really come closer to a consensus than we can under the procedures which preceded our committee.
Mention has been made of the task ahead. I would like to speak of just one item. The doctrine of concurrency is one which bothered us a great deal, and we tried to limit the application of that kind of a doctrine to those areas which were rather readily or easily handled. I would like to speak, of course, of the offshore resources. There, it is true, as my colleague has said, we came to the conclusion, on the matter of ownership, that of course there was no way that we could eliminate the federal government -- nor did Newfoundland, in any event, want to eliminate the federal government -- from a role when it came to responsibility for the environment, defence and international treaties. But we tried very hard to limit that type of concurrency to those rather easily recognized roles between the two levels of government.
We want to study it further. We think it is complex. We have not begun to scratch the surface of the burden ahead. We dealt simply with those matters that were occupying the first ministers for the period of their discussions, dialogue or whatever one wants to call it.
In closing, I would like to express my concern for the attitudes of people right across this province. Others have spoken of them. I would say the Yukon welcomed us with open arms. I had the very real feeling that it was not because we were all that popular as Ontarians, but rather that we were the first who ever burst into that silent sea talking about the constitution.
I will not go into my reaction to our reception in Alberta, save and except to say this: When I travel in Canada, I am not a Commonwealth parliamentarian; I am a Canadian.
Mr. Di Santo: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to enter this debate tonight. Like the other members, I would like to pay tribute to our chairman for his patience and his open mind. Even though the committee operated in a fairly nonpartisan way, there were moments when agreement was difficult to reach, but the chairman, with his wisdom, brought us together to the conclusions that are now before this Legislature.
I also want to thank all the staff for their excellent job, not only in providing for us the facilities and services that were required even in exceptional cases, such as when the member for St. George was forced to travel in a wheelchair with the committee, but also for providing us day after day with documents, papers and information that greatly helped our committee to come to grips with part of the fundamental problems that can be called the question of the constitution of Canada.
We have been debating only part of the complex question which we hope will bring about the elaboration and approval of a new constitution for this country. Historically, a constitution is the result of exceptional events in the lives of nations; for example, the French Revolution, the American Revolution and events such as the Second World War, which brought new constitutions to many European countries.
In Canada we are fortunate in a way because we are not only living a dramatic moment in the life of the nation but in a way we are living at a crucial time in this Confederation. It is up to all Canadians, from coast to coast, to come to an agreement and to give ourselves a basic and fundamental law which would govern the lives of all Canadians. For that reason, the method that was chosen was perhaps pragmatic but inadequate to the task. The press and media keep emphasizing the point that most Canadians are not interested in the process that has been initiated. Perhaps they are not interested because there is no public participation.
I thought that in an ideal world it would have been exciting if we could have constituent assemblies all over Canada in the small towns, cities and provinces that would start a process of ideas that could be compared all over the country and brought to that final document that should be the constitution of Canada. I think the role of our committee was important for one reason.
Apart from the delegation from the provinces and the federal government plus the Prime Minister -- who were sitting around the table in Ottawa during the summer -- at least we ourselves had an opportunity to get acquainted with the complexity of the problems that we have to solve if we want to have a new constitution. At the same time, as my colleagues have been saying, we had an opportunity to go through the country and compare for ourselves the different realities that constitute Canada. We found realities that I never suspected; and perhaps that is my shortcoming.
When we went to the Yukon, I was really shocked when we found two solitudes so diverse and separated that I could not believe they existed in the same place. We spoke with the official representatives of the government of Canada, the assembly of the Yukon. We did not even suspect that there was almost a provisional government which was operating there. We saw the Indians operating as a provisional government of the Yukon. I suspect many other people did not suspect that reality.
We have been confronted with the realities and frustrations that are difficult to imagine when one lives in Ontario, the most industrialized province in Canada. We were confronted by the frustration of provinces where Canadian citizens feel they are less equal than other Canadians because of the preponderance of the presence of Ontario. Ontario’s economic might is such that they feel excluded from the wealth of Canada and that was a lesson for us.
It was not only hostility towards Ontario, the province that displayed in the past and displays now a preponderant role in the economic life of Canada; to a certain extent it was an expression of frustration of Canadian citizens who wanted to be equal to other Canadian citizens or equal partners in this Confederation.
It wasn’t only the matter of economic questions which occupied us -- right now it is centring on the question of natural resources. Perhaps natural resources are so important and crucial because of the incredible importance of the oil, gas and energy resources in the modern economy of Canada.
But I think when we have a new constitution, we cannot base it only on the ownership of natural resources, onshore or offshore. We must address ourselves to a problem which is more universal. If we want to have a constitution which reflects the rights and the duties and the obligations of all Canadians, we should have a document that reflects the economic independence, political independence and cultural independence of Canada. We can have a nation that is free and democratic and progressive, and reflects the needs and rights of all citizens only if we address thoroughly the question of its independence.
I do not think that with the patriation of the constitution we solve the problems this country is faced with. We don’t solve the problems of unemployment nor of the foreign domination of this country. When we have 75 per cent of our oil industry dominated by foreign multinational corporations, when we have 60 per cent of our manufacturing sector dominated by foreign interests, I don’t think we can really say we are an independent nation.
The same applies to the cultural sector. This is one of the reasons I took part in the work of the committee. I feel very strongly about the cultural setup of the Canadian Confederation.
My concerns and the concerns of the committee are reflected in the report we are debating. One of my concerns from the beginning was that we have been continually discussing Canada in terms of its duality, while now the reality is that it is no longer a situation of duality. Historically, I recognize the French and the English were the founding groups of this nation, but in 1980 we have a society where more than 30 per cent of the population is neither English nor French. I think that unless we produce a constitution in Canada that reflects the reality of Canadians, we will exclude from the structure we are giving the country a sizeable part of our population.
That is one of the reasons I was concerned with the preamble proposed by the federal government when it said Canada is constituted of French and English groups and with other ethnic groups which co-operated in the country’s development. I do not think that does justice to the millions of people who are neither English nor French but who have long been settled in Canada, some of them 100 years ago, and who feel themselves an integral part of this country. They don’t feel themselves an appendage of the French and the English groups, and their loyalty to this country is equal to the founding English and French groups.
For that reason, after a lengthy debate our committee accepted that principle, recognizing the duality and diversity of Canada. Unless we do that, we perpetuate a situation in which a sizeable group of Canadians will feel like second-class citizens.
Members may remember that when we had the debate on the motion that generated the select committee on constitutional reform, we in the New Democratic Party spoke different languages, not in a partisan way but because we wanted to express the reality I am talking about. We spoke in Italian, Ukrainian, Portuguese and Polish, not because we wanted those languages to become official languages of Canada -- that was far from our minds -- but for us that was a symbolic gesture to tell Canadians that we are here and we are part of the process. We want to be here and we want to be recognized like other Canadians.
For that reason, I was puzzled by the agreement made by Quebec which provides that anglophone Canadians who move to Quebec can have their children instructed in English or French, while immigrants who go to Quebec must have their children instructed in French. I think that in the long range that is a mistake that will cost Quebec society dearly. Unless a majority recognizes and is generous with minorities, it may create reaction in the long range.
We know that majorities do not need protection of their rights because they are part of the structure in which they operate. It is always the minorities that need protection. For that reason, we have been fighting for many years for the protection of the French minorities in Ontario and in other parts of Canada. For the same reason, we are fighting for the protection of the minority rights of the ethnic groups in Canada.
If we think that multiculturalism is a reality in Canada, then we have to accept the idea that it has to operate in a viable way in our society. We do not accept the idea of the melting pot because we know what happened in the United States. We know that the assimilation process does not work, because after two or three generations there is a resurgence of the cultures of the groups that supposedly had to be absorbed and a resurgence of the social problems connected with cultures that are not always positive.
For that reason, we had a lengthy debate in the committee which brought us to the recognition of the rights of the minorities, especially in education. In fact, the committee recommends that minority educational rights be recognized as a right because the tendency of this government, whether with the French or with the ethnic minority, is to sneak some services by the back door. When they have the statutes translated in French, it is always a service. When the opposition parties ask for the same thing, then it is the imposition of bilingualism.
The same happens with the ethnic groups. After strong pressure, especially from the New Democratic Party -- and I am not saying that in a partisan way, but in a historical context -- in 1975, finally, the government accepted the idea of instructing the children of immigrants in their mother tongues, but did so in the Progressive Conservative way of the government of Ontario by creating the heritage language program, which is halfway between giving instruction to the children in their language and denying instruction. In fact, it is not even part of the regular curriculum. That is not enough.
There are other provinces of Canada, such as Alberta, which is also a Progressive Conservative province, where instruction in minority languages is in place and has been in place for many years. There are now Ukrainian schools in which the children are taught in Ukrainian from elementary to secondary school. There are no problems in that province; there are no gaps between the Ukrainian minority and the other groups in that province. Actually, the program has been recognized positively by the government and has been extended to the other minority groups.
In Ontario, the committee, in accepting the notion of rights in connection with teaching in minority languages, went halfway, because it seemed it was too much to accept instruction in a language other than French or English; in fact we accepted the idea that it should be on a transitional basis.
I feel that is not enough, and when the committee convenes I think we should devote more time to this very important aspect, because it is not only a matter of pride for the ethnic groups to have their children taught in their mother tongues; there is a more fundamental approach that we have to take because it involves social problems.
Many people do not realize the realities in many ethnic families where the children speak English and the parents do not speak English. There is not only a generation gap; there is a cultural gap because there is a linguistic gap. The children cannot communicate with their parents, and the social consequences are incredible.
There are families where there is no communication at all. Especially in those groups, such as the European groups, where the role of the family in society is an important one, the parents not only do not have control over their children but do not even know what they are doing in the school system. When they become dropouts, and in some unfortunate cases when they become juvenile delinquents, the parents do not know why, and ask themselves why it happened, because they did not have the possibility of following the progress of their children in the schools.
We have other examples in other parts of the world. In the United States, where this approach has been taken, especially in Massachusetts and in Florida where there are large Spanish-speaking minorities, the results are amazing. They have legislation in Massachusetts, which is the most liberal in the world, to allow what they call a two-way education through which minority groups -- and I found it ironic that Italians were not considered a minority group but were considered part of the majority -- can choose for their children whatever language of instruction they want.
I think we have to take that route because we have, especially in Ontario, large minorities. We have thousands and thousands in the city of Toronto. Fifty per cent of the population is made up of immigrants, and I think the role of the constitution of this country should be one that allows those people, half the population of Toronto, to feel not only at home but also part of the process of this nation.
Unless we allow that large minority -- and it is very large throughout Canada -- to become part of the process, we will have ghettos; we will have people who are not participating in and contributing to the building of the new Canada. If we think that the Canada of which all of us are a part will be based on the ignoring of large sectors of our population, we are making a mistake.
On the basis of the historical duality of Canada, we can introduce, especially from a cultural point of view, not only the riches of cultures that are part of a civilization that goes back thousands of years but also values that are universal; when they are brought into Canada, they will help Canada to become a richer country, culturally. When we have every Canadian participating in the life of Canada, then we will have a better Canada; at that point it will be even easier to solve our problems, because there will be more understanding and more tolerance. I think that has to be the goal we should propose for ourselves.
In closing, the work of the committee was interesting not only for the members of the committee but also for the Legislature of Ontario, because we are debating issues with which we were not acquainted before. I think we should have more committees; we should have committees throughout Canada. As I said at the outset, it would be exciting if we could involve all Canadians in constitutional assemblies or in other forums and have them participate in the debate. Only if we do that can we understand each other and the problems and come to an agreement.
I hope there is also more understanding on the part of the press, which is always quick to criticize us. At some point they also should say, “Mea culpa.” In fact, it would not be a bad idea if they could sit and listen to this debate, because perhaps they would have some ideas that could be classified and they could contribute by divulging ideas that perhaps are not always clear to them and that on some occasions are easy to discard.
The work of the committee should continue.
Mr. McCaffrey: Mr. Speaker, at the outset, I would like to make reference to the relevance of tonight’s debate, the relevance of the committee’s work and the importance for me, as a private member of this assembly, behind that assignment, being a member of the committee on constitutional reform that sat this summer. The events of the summer and the timetable before the Prime Minister and the Premiers which followed the referendum in the spring of 1980 made it a unique opportunity for us as members of this assembly to serve our colleagues here and others as we got on with our work. I do think our committee’s work was timely and relevant -- I use that word again -- as is the discussion tonight.
I will say there was some concern about relevancy in my mind and perhaps in the minds of others when we began our deliberations in July in the basement of this building when the attention of the media was quite properly on the ministers who were racing across the country trying to finalize the agenda. I guess each of us wondered privately how relevant our work might be. It is a tribute to the chairman of the committee, the people on the committee and the staff of the committee that for my own part I had no difficulty at all with that question of relevance after some few days of our work.
I was disappointed that there was not more attention paid to our work. I guess that is just a function of spending a goodly part of my time as a private member of this House, in the basement of this building on various committees. I was disappointed because I felt we were learning and making progress. Each of us, in a public way, was growing in our understanding of Canada and the problems of the country and I was disappointed that people did not pay a little more attention to our work.
I was especially disappointed when I reflected on the fact that all of us as taxpaying citizens have grown to accept the fact that senior civil servants and bureaucrats, be they from the provincial capitals or the national capital, do meet with one another regularly. They certainly did so at an accelerated rate over the summer and had an opportunity to visit other parts of the country more often than most of us do. When the senior civil servants -- I do not say that in any kind of disparaging way -- or the bureaucrats do that, we see it as a part of their normal work and responsibility.
However, when politicians, particularly provincial politicians, set out to learn some things about our own country, it was perceived as a junket. I had some difficulty with that and I still do. It was not a junket. It was, in my three and a half years’ experience here, the most intelligent, effective use of tax dollars that I have ever seen.
I may just touch on a couple of the impressions that as a private member I got over the three and a half months we met. If time permits I would like to get into one or two specific areas.
Midway through our exercise, an impression began to grow within me and still stays with me that as a nation we have come dangerously close to losing something, to losing our sense of this country and, even worse, to losing our ability to deal with one another in the various regions of this country. I was worried and nervous about that and I remain so. I think we have come dangerously close in Canada to losing an opportunity which is unique in the free world.
We are the second largest nation in the world, rich with people, rich with a commitment to freedom and rich obviously in our resources. In the context of the other nations of this world, with 25 million people, we are at the infancy stage of our development but if we do not rapidly learn a little bit more about one another and come to grips with these problems before us, I think we run a serious risk of losing an opportunity that is unique to us.
Another impression that very quickly hit home to me -- notwithstanding all the comments made, and made by me as well, in the debate we had here prior to the Quebec referendum -- was our commitment which is on the record about our rush to change the status quo. As we went from day to day in our committee, I really felt we were looking for an agenda asking, “Where are we going next? Where should we attack this? How can we as Ontario politicians learn a little more and what are we going to do with it?” We did not have an immediate agenda that I think an analogous group would have had in other provinces of the country.
For example, I cannot conceive of the Newfoundland assembly setting up a select committee composed of 15 private members who wouldn’t, within the first two hours of their meeting, know pretty well what they wanted to do and where they wanted to be in three or four months.
We stumbled around a little bit and I think that told me, in a peculiar kind of way, there was no real urgency to do a whole lot of changing. There was urgency to reach out, to try to come to grips with this region or appease that region or learn more about all the country. But there was no immediate thing that we, as Ontario politicians representing a variety of backgrounds and three different parties, wanted to get on with.
Another impression that stayed with me -- and I don’t say this at all in any kind of a partisan way -- is that the federal Liberal ruling party has failed dismally -- in its obligation to the regions at least. It wasn’t simply, in my judgement, a question of arrogance. When one talks to people in western Canada about Ottawa, about the government, it wasn’t just arrogance, it wasn’t just aloofness, it was ignorance. This is not to be confused with stupidity, because the federal Liberal Party, God knows, is not stupid. There is not a person in this assembly who has not marvelled at their political skills in this region of Canada. They are a marvel. I only remain disappointed that they haven’t carried those skills to the other regions of Canada, particularly the west.
An impression that hit me midway through our exercise and stays with me and grows inside me is the great risk that all of us, as politicians, face when we play regional political games, I will call them for the moment. I refer to appealing to regional discontent.
I say that as someone who was born in South Porcupine, Ontario, and I have long roots in South Porcupine. As a child I had an image of Hogtown, as Toronto was called, and that was almost the fun side of the regional business that goes on within our province and within our country. It didn’t have an evil side. I suspect that my friend the member for Cochrane South (Mr. Pope), who is the MPP for that great community, may even on occasion have said a few things about Toronto to people in South Porcupine and Timmins that he thought would be well received. I do not know that, but I would not be surprised if he did that from time to time.
Further, the business of running against Ottawa is something that has been practised on this side of the House certainly for some 37 years. We take it, I think, with a grain of salt, understanding the context in which those kinds of comments are normally made -- regional political games.
Within Ontario, the regional political games have an aspect that concerns me somewhat when they have other dangerous characteristics. Pandering to those harsh elements in the community is one of the illustrations of it. If it means pandering to that element in all of our constituencies that would like to have their anger against the Anglo establishment articulated, I think that has a dangerous aspect. The old Orange Lodge type mentality is something that I have felt and seen and don’t tolerate because it is dangerous.
Outside Ontario, the business of running against Ottawa again is part of the game. That is normal yet it has a dangerous side. Running against Ottawa can mean running against the eastern establishment, and that is fine. Not being a part of it, it is easy for me to say that. But when these differences are nurtured, and when politicians in Canada, all politicians, feed on those differences, they run serious risks to themselves, the dignity of their profession, the intelligence of their constituents.
I think the regional political game in Canada has been raised to a level of high art at a time when we can least afford it. If I may make an observation in that area with regard to the United States, I suspect that almost all politicians in the US do run against Washington. Candidates for the presidency have regularly run against Washington. The other night was one recent example of it. I think, though, there is a fundamental difference between the regional politics and the way the game is played in the United States and the way it has been played in this country.
Mr. Peterson: That is easy for you to say.
Mr. McCaffrey: It is easy for me to say. The difference is one that deals with the essential umbrella under which the people of the United States always feel comfortable. They identify as almost a first response with the nation. Most people down there can articulate their concept of the United States. I do not mean just the melting pot, but that is a part of it. Most school children down there can, and regularly do, quote from the US constitution. They have a view of themselves and a view of their country and have an umbrella under which they can afford to play those regional games. I do not think we have such an umbrella. When we play those political games, we do run the risk of pulling this nation apart. We do not have sufficient bonds in common that permit us to do that.
Ours is a nation that had at its conception a concept of duality. I will come back to that. On that concept of duality we have articulated a multicultural community commitment, a sense of multiculturalism based on this essential duality. I am not sure we have spent enough time, particularly the politicians, in talking about those factors that unite us. If we require more symbols, then I think that should be one of our obligations. Those are some of the impressions that I learned over the summer that stay with me.
Can I make an observation or two about Alberta in the few minutes remaining? I am using Alberta as an example of the west and as an example of the resource problem before the Premiers and the Prime Minister and before our committee over the summer. Grievances have been nurtured. They are real and legitimate grievances, such as tariffs, the eastern banks and freight rates. They are very real and legitimate but old grievances, though nurtured nonetheless.
By the time we get into the early 1970s in Alberta, when oil takes a different direction in terms of what it means to Alberta because of that explosion in oil prices, there is a coming together of a lot of very powerful forces over those old grievances. I think Premier Lougheed himself is one of those important forces that came together there when oil prices began to explode, giving incredible strength to the government of the day. I do not think that one gets 74 out of 79 seats in an election without having some pretty fundamental forces at work in the society.
We had a meeting in our last visit out there a couple of weeks ago with 10 or 12 members of the legislative assembly in the same room with the presidents of two Canadian oil companies and the president of the Alberta Federation of Labour. It was interesting to observe that the political government arm and the corporate and labour sides were, by and large, at common cause. That is worth emphasizing. There was a sense of nationalism there. In almost every instance through that morning’s agenda they had common cause. There is great frustration out there and it is not a new frustration.
We can look back in the last few months and see examples of it when the Premier of Alberta says that an export tax on the province’s natural gas would be a declaration of war. That is pretty strong rhetoric. There are countless examples of that from the early 1970s on. That was not a new threat or a new message. We felt the frustration and anger as a committee out there.
I began, subsequently, to learn a little more about it. I think it helped me to understand some of the rhetoric and why they passed a piece of legislation giving them the authority to hold a referendum. It helped me to understand last week’s announcement to cut back production. The frustration had so accelerated that the dominant theme must have been, “How the hell do we get Ottawa’s attention?”
Sir, it being 10:30 p.m., do I move the adjournment of the debate?
Mr. Speaker: Conclude your remarks.
Mr. McCaffrey: I shall conclude at this point.
Mr. Speaker: It is the understanding of the chair that the House had agreed that 10:30 p.m. would conclude the consideration of the report as recommended by the select committee on constitutional reform.
Mr. Renwick: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, the latest information which I have, which may be yours, is that this debate will continue on the evening of November 20 -- the Thursday after next.
Mr. Speaker: That was not my understanding. The member for Armourdale should then move adjournment of the debate.
On motion by Mr. McCaffrey, the debate was adjourned.
INVESTMENT COMPANIES’ FAILURE
Mr. Speaker: Under standing order 28, a motion to adjourn the House is deemed to have been made. The honourable member for Hamilton Centre has up to five minutes to explain his displeasure with an answer previously given by the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations.
Mr. M. N. Davison: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I did not request this special debate simply because of my personal dissatisfaction with the answer of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations to my questions on Re-Mor Investment Management Corporation on Tuesday afternoon. The fact is I am dissatisfied with a great deal of what the minister does personally.
I requested this debate on behalf of the Re-Mor victims, victims of the minister’s negligence; people who are dissatisfied with the minister’s response to the questions I and other people have raised in this House about this matter. They are not only dissatisfied, they are angry. They are angry that this minister registered Re-Mor, which led to the ripoff taking place.
Frankly, they are dismayed that the minister has constantly tried to blame the feds, exclusively, for the whole problem because of their involvement with Astra. The fact remains that if Ontario had not registered Re-Mor, through the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, the ripoff could not have taken place. Therefore this matter cannot be blamed totally on the federal government. These people are hurt because this minister and the government he represents lack the basic decency even to enumerate their reasons for not admitting their liability in this clear case of negligence.
Back in 1978, Mr. Carlo Montemurro -- a shady character at best and no friend of mine -- was running Astra Trust and something CNM Financial Consultants, which also held a mortgage broker’s licence from this ministry. On November 22, 1978, the Ontario Securities Commission, within the area of this minister’s responsibility, placed a cease- trading order on that company because of its activities.
On February 8, 1979, the Supreme Court of Ontario appointed a receiver for that company. That eventually ended up in a $3.8 million fraud charge against Mr. Montemurro and his colleagues for their activities. Yet on February 21, only two weeks later, through the Mortgage Brokers Act, this minister issued yet another licence to Carlo Montemurro so he could continue to steal from people in Ontario; and that is at the heart of this matter.
Section 5 of the Mortgage Brokers Act, for which the minister is supposed to be responsible, states an applicant is entitled to registration except where, having regard to his financial position, the applicant cannot be reasonably expected to be financially responsible in the conduct of his business, or the past conduct of the applicant affords reasonable grounds for belief that he will not carry on business in accordance with the law and with integrity and honesty.
I will tell the minister something: Mr. Carlo Montemurro is anything but honest and is anything but a person who would carry on his business in accordance with the law and with integrity; and the government knew that at the time.
It is clear to me that the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations contravened the Mortgage Brokers Act, section 5, when it registered Montemurro. It is wrong that the ministry would simply dump on the feds rather than try to help the people who have suffered through its negligence. The minister’s negligence has led to over 320 people being ripped off to the tune of $6 million, and the victims have had to go so far as to sue the government to try to get their money back. That is a shameful state of affairs.
On October 10 when I raised this matter and asked the minister to admit his liability, he answered with one word: “No” -- a simple no.
On November 4 when I again raised this matter and asked him at least to have the decency to enumerate his reasons for not accepting his liability under section 5 of the act, what was his response? “I answered that on October 10.” He certainly did. Then he alleged that he was not liable in any way whatsoever. He simply refuses to deal with this matter.
I charge, Mr. Speaker, that the minister has been rude, that the minister has been cowardly, and that the minister has been lacking in decency, not to the member for Hamilton Centre but to the Re-Mor victims -- honest, decent, hard-working people in this province who have been ripped off because of the clumsy negligence of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, the member for Hamilton Centre on November 4 asked in part, “Would he take this opportunity to explain to the people who have been ripped off because of his negligence why, in fact, the ministry is not liable under section 5 of the Mortgage Brokers Act.”
The ripoff to which the member refers was occasioned by the fact that people thought they could put their faith in the name of Astra Trust. The registration of Re-Mor did not cause the unfortunate events to take place. The ripoff was executed in the Astra Trust offices by people in Astra Trust offices purporting to have investment opportunities in Astra Trust ventures and, I dare say, through a sin of commission or omission, causing the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation to be dangled as a selling feature.
For the member’s information, section 5 of the Mortgage Brokers Act does not create liability. The section deals with the registration of mortgage brokers. It simply lays out for the registrar the factors to consider on an application for registration. It is to be noted that under the provisions of section 5, registration is not a privilege but a right. The section specifically states that an applicant is entitled to registration except in certain limited circumstances.
Under the provisions of the act, the registrar cannot on his own refuse to grant the registration. There is an onus on the registrar to prove that an applicant is not entitled to registration.
Under the provisions of section 5, the registrar would have had to establish before the Commercial Registration Appeal Tribunal that having regard to the financial position of the applicant it could not reasonably be expected to be financially responsible in the conduct of its business. In the alternative the registrar would have had to establish to the satisfaction of the CRAT that the past conduct of the applicant’s officers or directors afforded reasonable grounds for believing that its business would not be carried on in accordance with law and integrity and honesty.
In the situation under consideration, it would appear that the registrar, on the basis of the information available to him at the time of the application, did not believe he had evidence upon which he could establish to the satisfaction of the CRAT that the applicant was disentitled to registration.
As this matter is now before the courts, I do not wish to discuss the merits of the registrar’s action. I would like to stress, however, that I have faith in my officials and I have had no evidence presented to me which would cause me to question that faith.
Mr. Speaker: This concludes that item. Under the same standing order, the member for Welland-Thorold has expressed his dissatisfaction with the answer to a question given by the honourable Minister of the Environment. I will hear the member for Welland-Thorold for up to five minutes.
LIQUID INDUSTRIAL WASTE
Mr. Swart: Mr. Speaker, I requested this debate tonight because the Minister of the Environment gave a simple, “Tests were made,” to my question this afternoon about the Ford Motor Company sludge which was taken into Walker Brothers quarry. I had asked how tests could have been made on the more than one million gallons of chromium sludge trucked to Walker’s between September and December of last year when the ministry didn’t even know it was being trucked there at that time.
It is now eight hours since I asked that question and I presume the minister will explain his reply -- the number of tests which were taken by his ministry, how they were taken, the results of those tests and that he will table them in the House for all of us to see. Failure to do so will further destroy what little credibility he has left on the Walker issue. It is important to know whether the contents of the Walker dump are hazardous.
On October 21, I initially asked the minister to do a thorough examination and investigation to see how badly he had been hoodwinked by Walker Brothers in permitting chemical and other liquid wastes to be placed in the dump site. The day following the W5 revelations I wrote an open letter to the minister demanding among other things the investigation of all of the contents of the site and for him to remove any which were hazardous. The following day during the question period I asked him for a 24-hour-a-day surveillance of the site. That same evening the council of Thorold passed a resolution to send a telegram to the Premier (Mr. Davis) asking for basically the same thing.
The minister ridiculed the request for the 24-hour surveillance, saying, “The member is asking to have someone at every site in the province.” Of course I made no such request. I only asked it for the Walker Brothers site and with good reason. On this dump site the minister implies that he himself had been misled by the owner. In his letter of October 16 to Walker Brothers Quarries, the minister indicated that Mr. Walker at first indicated that he knew of no drums being buried and then he finally remembered that several had been. The minister indicated that they were only going to take 300,000 gallons of sludge when they had taken over 1.5 million gallons. He also intimated that there was ease of unauthorized entry which would have to be corrected.
Now the minister has been made aware of hundreds of drums buried in the dump about which Mr. Grant Mills, his environmental director of the west-central region says, and I quote from the newspaper, “I have no idea of what is in those drums.” When asked if it could be chlorinated hydrocarbons or PCBs, he said, “They could contain anything.”
Does the minister not want to find out the truth now? After all, this is one of the two companies he selected to look after future disposal of all southern Ontario’s chemical wastes. Does he not want to find out their degree of trustworthiness or otherwise? Does he not think that he should ensure that no incriminating evidence is removed? I say to him, unless he is deliberately leaving that loophole, he will apply the surveillance and do it at once.
That ministry has given no commitment to checking that sludge or anything else in the dump. Does the minister know that when Mr. Edenson, the tipster about the drums being buried, pointed out the location yesterday to his ministry officials and to Walkers and the press who were there, Mr. Mills said, “Should a dig for the drums take place, the ministry would probably go as far as checking the contents of one representative drum.” Mr. Majtenyi, the minister’s peninsula engineer, said that the search for the tankers and the drums may be curtailed by ministry officials in Toronto.
I say to the minister, this is an irresponsible attitude towards the welfare of the citizens of Thorold, the Niagara Peninsula and all Ontario. The 24-hour surveillance must be done at Walker Brothers. All the contents of the quarry must be examined and because of the incriminating evidence already available, the solidification process must not be located at the Walker Brothers site.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member has chosen to rise on a question of dissatisfaction with the way a particular question was answered.
Interestingly enough, he spent almost all of his time dealing with a question that was raised on another occasion and answered on another occasion, and he spent very little of his time, if any, except the first sentence or two, on the question on which he raised the issue.
I found that a surprising turn of events. His remarks were not really directed to the question with which he expressed dissatisfaction. On that basis I think I will make no further comments.
Mr. M. N. Davison: That is irresponsible.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Order.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: I am not suggesting that you should, Mr. Speaker, but I think if the record is checked it will be found that the question the member addressed himself to was raised either two or three days ago and the question on which he raised the issue was asked in the House today.
I can say that much of what the member has rehashed is not relative to the question he raised today. I would say to him in a spirit of attempting to have him understand more about the question at issue, if he would like to see our lab, we would be more than pleased to go with him and explain the tests and the procedures that we do take in that particular --
Mr. Swart: I don’t want procedures. I want results of the tests within three months.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: If he would like to spend some time with my staff, we would make them available to him. He might learn a great deal.
The House adjourned at 10:44 p.m.