Tuesday 13 August 1991

Election of acting Chair

Peter Hogg

Peter Russell

Kenneth McRoberts

Association canadienne-française de l'Ontario

George Vegh



Chair: Silipo, Tony (Dovercourt NDP)

Vice-Chair: Bisson, Gilles (Cochrane South NDP)

Acting Chair: Drainville, Dennis (Victoria-Haliburton NDP)

Curling, Alvin (Scarborough North L)

Eves, Ernie L. (Parry Sound PC)

Gigantes, Evelyn (Ottawa Centre NDP)

Harnick, Charles (Willowdale PC)

Harrington, Margaret H. (Niagara Falls NDP)

Malkowski, Gary (York East NDP)

Mathyssen, Irene (Middlesex NDP)

Offer, Steven (Mississauga North L)

O'Neill, Yvonne (Ottawa-Rideau L)

Winninger, David (London South NDP)


Carter, Jenny (Peterborough NDP) for Ms Gigantes

Coppen, Shirley (Niagara South NDP) for Mr Winninger

Drainville, Dennis (Victoria-Haliburton NDP) for Mr Silipo

Mammoliti, George (Yorkview NDP) for Ms Mathyssen

Marland, Margaret (Mississauga South PC) for Mr Eves

Clerk: Brown, Harold


Murray, Paul, Research Officer, Legislative Research Service

Kaye, Philip, Research Officer, Legislative Research Service

The committee met at 1009 in room 151.

The Vice-Chair: The committee will come to order. Welcome to this our second day in the third week of our hearings. At this point I will vacate the chair in order to conduct the business of the committee. Will the clerk please take over?


Mrs Marland: Mr Clerk, I understand from the agreement that we had yesterday afternoon that my motion placing in nomination the name of Mr Gilles Bisson is the motion that is now before the Chair, the Chair being the clerk at this time.

First of all, I am sorry that if Mr Hogg is here he is going to have to wait while we go through this procedure; I would have preferred that the election of the acting Chair was on today's agenda. I notice this is now the second day it is not on the agenda, although we agreed yesterday that it would be the first item dealt with this morning. And I hope, in deference to Mr Hogg, that he has been advised that we have a little committee business to deal with.

I am assuming that since I tabled my motion yesterday to be the first item to be dealt with this morning that it is my motion that is now on the floor.

Clerk of the Committee: Yes, I will entertain your motion now.

Mrs Marland: Would you like me to re-place the motion?

Clerk of the Committee: I think that would probably be okay.

Mrs Marland moves the motion to place a nomination as acting Chair of the select committee on Ontario in Confederation in the name of Gilles Bisson, who is the Vice-Chair.

Mrs Marland: Speaking as someone who has not been privileged as a member of this committee for the duration that the committee has been in existence, but speaking as someone who has been in the Legislature six and a half years and knowing how standing committees of the Legislature work and how important the position of Chair is to the whole process, I think it is important in this case on this particular committee that we have someone who has the historical perspective of what the committee has been dealing with for over a year. Apparently the committee has been sitting since last February 4.

My position, Mr Clerk, in placing that name in nomination is that, first of all, Mr Bisson is a francophone from northern Ontario. He has been a member of the committee from the beginning, I understand, and I feel with his experience as Vice-Chairman he is the logical person to become the acting Chair, since we are at a point where the chairmanship has to change in any case. I was referring to the appointment of Mr Silipo to cabinet.

I think the fact that I have not been a member of this committee gives me a perspective of not being entrenched with any personalities. I do not know any of the involvements of personalities through the process of the five or six months the committee has been sitting, so I think I bring a fresh perspective in placing that nomination, and especially I am speaking as someone right now in this room who has at least two years' more experience than one other member and, in most cases, five years more experience in the Legislature than all other members of this committee, so it is with respect that I place the name of Gilles Bisson in nomination to become acting Chair.

My reference to experience is just explaining that the standing committee and select committee process is perhaps the most important aspect of the function of the Legislature. This is where the work is done. This is where we invite the public to make their opinions known on any legislation or issue before us, and I have great confidence in Mr Bisson because he has been a member of this committee since its inception and a logical progression has always been for vice-chairmen to become chairmen if for some reason during the term of that committee appointment there has to be a change. If Mr Bisson was not suitably equipped to become Chairman in the case of the absence of the Chairman, then I would wonder why he was appointed by his government party to the position of Vice-Chair. Obviously, he is capable of being Chair in the absence of the Chairman, so it is a logical progression, and I hope we will have support for my motion.

Mr Bisson: I would like to thank my nominator for the kinds words that were expressed in regard to the confidence that she put in me, but I would like to decline the nomination at this time. My responsibilities within the government as parliamentary assistant to two ministries and also an office, francophone affairs, as well as being chair of northern caucus and chair of deaf education, puts me in a position where I would not have the full time to dedicate to the work of this committee. I feel that I best can serve the work of this committee as Vice-Chair in assisting the Chair, and with that I would like to move the nomination of Mr Dennis Drainville as acting Chair of this committee.

Mrs Marland: I would like to speak to that nomination. Obviously, I have to accept Mr Bisson's declining my nomination, and I have no personal feeling one way or the other for the nomination of Mr Drainville, on a personal basis, but it is my understanding that Mr Drainville has not been sitting as a member of this committee, and I think what we are experiencing right now is some gamesmanship on the part of the government, and the gamesmanship I do not understand.

When it comes to writing the report, it stands to reason that the Chairman of this committee should be somebody with some tenure and experience on this committee. I am very surprised that Premier Rae would in fact want to appoint someone as Chairman of this committee, passing over someone who is a representative of northern Ontario and, as I said previously, is also a francophone. I think this committee could well have benefited from both those facts in Mr Bisson's appointment. I think that if it was not to be the Vice-Chair's succession to the Chair with the support of the Premier's office, then it would have been logical to have any one of the other members who have sat on this committee all along. I notice Mr Winninger is not here today, but I think he is a full-time member of this committee, is he not?

Clerk of the Committee: He is.

Mrs Marland: I am only just throwing that name out as a suggestion, but I think it is a totally absurd process to nominate someone to this committee, of all committees, to chair this most critical committee in the history of this province, someone who has not been sitting as a member of the committee and, for that matter, someone who, I guess as is the case with everybody, is fairly new to the process.

I understand that this is a committee to be chaired by a government member, and I have respect for that. On a personal, individual basis, I have respect for Mr Drainville. I am simply saying that I do not support the process that is going on here today, and I think that it is time that we got away from gamesmanship and appointments based on goodness knows what. I have no idea what is behind the appointment of somebody from outside of the committee to chair this committee, and I am very disappointed in this process.

I will not support the nomination because I do not support the process of appointing an outside member, and for those members of this committee that have not been involved in writing a report of a select committee to the Legislature, perhaps you do not recognize the significance of the role of Chairman in the writing of that report. It is not simply chairing and conducting further public hearings, and I say that to all of you with respect. That is the situation you are in. I am quite sure that you have been told who to vote for, and you have no choice in the matter, so I do not deal with this on a personal issue with any of the six government members who will be voting this morning. It is the Premier's office or whoever it is that has made the decision as to who will chair the select committee of Ontario in Confederation. It is an inappropriate chairmanship appointment, even as an acting Chair, I suggest.

Hon Mrs Coppen: For the information of the people in this room, the government committee members are going to vote freely on the Chair of this committee.

Mr Drainville's family settled in the province of Quebec in 1615. He himself was born in Quebec, is bilingual and has worked over the last couple of years with the francophone community and the native people. We, as a committee, feel very, very confident with Mr Drainville, and for someone who has been here from the opposition just a couple of days to make an evaluation, as Mrs Marland has, and talk about gamesmanship -- the last two days, Margaret, have been like a ping-pong game. If we are going to talk about games, I think the ball started at that side of the room.

We, as a whole committee, are very confident that Mr Drainville will carry this committee through --

Mrs Marland: I am sure you are.

Hon Mrs Coppen: -- and Mr Bisson, in nominating Mr Drainville, has just reaffirmed our feelings, and Mr Drainville will be the best Chair if, after we have our election -- if you will allow us, instead of going on with the ping-pong game. We are here to work this morning. We have witnesses here that we really want to listen to --

Mrs Marland: Yes, I agree.

Hon Mrs Coppen: -- not just the rhetoric of you and me talking for the last 20 minutes.

Ms Harrington: As an original member of this committee on February 4 when we began this journey across Ontario for the future of this nation, I would like to remind people of the prayer of the native peoples in Kenora, Ontario, with which we started this committee, and that we hold to that duty.

I would also like to thank Mrs Marland for her kind words with regard to Gilles Bisson. I remember that particular week in northern Ontario was a very emotional week, and Mr Bisson is a wonderful member of this committee.

I would also like to remark that it is the duty of all the members of this committee to be involved in writing the report for this committee, and I hope that each one of us will take that very seriously.

The job of chairing the committee is very important, and I certainly have confidence that Mr Drainville can do this very adequately. Thank you.

Clerk of the Committee: I have a nomination by Mr Bisson nominating Mr Drainville as acting Chair of the committee.

Mrs Marland: Can we have a recorded vote, Mr Chair?

Clerk of the Committee: There has been a request for a recorded vote.

The committee divided on Mr Bisson's motion, which was agreed to on the following vote:

Ayes -- 5

Bisson, Carter, Harrington, Malkowski, Mammoliti.

Nays -- 2

Curling, Marland.


The Acting Chair (Mr Drainville): Before we begin our day's proceedings, I just want to say that this is not the most auspicious of beginnings for a Chair of a committee. To that extent, I wish to apologize, first of all, to Mr Hogg for taking up his very good time. We will certainly give him the appropriate time to make his presentation.

In following in the footsteps of Tony Silipo and Gilles Bisson, it is my feeling that they have handled themselves in the chair very well. They have been able to maintain a non-partisan spirit which is absolutely essential to the committee as we look at some very substantive issues for the future of this country. I want to commit myself to that same path and to thank them for their leadership. I look forward to their help in giving me advice as I need it, and also the help of all the subcommittee members, Mr Harnick and Ms O'Neill, who have served this committee so well in the last number of months.


The Acting Chair: I ask Mr Peter Hogg to come forward. Welcome, sir. You have 30 minutes for your presentation. I hope you will allow some time for questions.

Dr Hogg: Thank you very much, Mr Chairman, and thank you, ladies and gentlemen. I am a professor of law at the Osgoode Hall Law School. I am on leave at the moment at the law firm of Blake Cassels & Graydon.

I sent to the clerk a few weeks ago a short form of curriculum vitae, so that should be in the files of the committee. I have another copy. I have also sent to the clerk a paper entitled Is the Constitution of Canada Ready for the 21st Century? That paper was prepared for a conference in June. It has also been used as one of the papers in the project on the constitutional process which Professor Monahan is engaged in for the government of Ontario.

In the letter which the clerk sent me, he asked me to concentrate on the division-of-powers issues. So I am going to pick a segment out of the paper, starting at page 11, and I will briefly make the points that appear in that segment. It is about eight or nine pages of the paper.

I am considering, first of all, the topic of special status for Quebec. The topic here is the question whether it is appropriate to grant to Quebec powers that are not shared by the other provinces. That is, of course, one possible way of reaching a constitutional accommodation and it has the advantage that Quebec undoubtedly wishes to exercise more powers than the other provinces wish to exercise.

To do that would involve granting what is usually called by constitutional lawyers "special status" for Quebec or, as it is sometimes described, an "asymmetrical federalism," federalism in which the powers are not symmetrically distributed.

I want to make two points about that. They are both in the paper. The first is that I think, as a political matter, special status is not an acceptable option, and I say that because of the history of the Meech Lake accord. Members of the committee will recall that the Meech Lake accord was rather carefully drafted to accommodate Quebec's five demands in ways that applied to all the provinces, so there was an unwillingness by the first ministers at the time of Meech Lake to grant a unique constitutional status to Quebec.

But the one point that, by its very nature, could not be generalized in that way was the "distinct society" clause. The "distinct society" clause, by definition, was particular to Quebec and not to the other provinces. Members of the committee will recall that it was the "distinct society" clause which became the focus of the most intense opposition to the accord.

My own view was that there was very little merit to the opposition; but it became clear to me that simply recognizing that the province was distinct was a controversial matter; and the idea that the recognition of Quebec as distinct could, indirectly, give it larger powers than the other provinces was even more controversial.

I think the lesson one has to draw from that is that there is a great deal of public opposition to the idea that the province of Quebec should have a special constitutional status.


My second point is that, as a legal matter, there are serious limits on the degree to which unique constitutional powers can be conferred upon a single province. The problem that special status for Quebec gives rise to is that the federal Parliament would have less authority in Quebec than in the other provinces. That obviously would be the consequence. Yet members of Parliament from Quebec would obviously continue to be full voting members of the Parliament. So you would have the peculiar situation of members of Parliament from Quebec voting on legislation which could not, because of Quebec's special status, apply in Quebec.

One obvious approach might be to say that the Quebec members should not vote on issues in which the legislation could not apply in Quebec. The problem with that is that the votes of members from Quebec might well be needed to preserve the government's majority and avoid its defeat. To adjust this problem would require a rather radical adjustment of the rules of responsible government.

This particular problem, of Quebec members of Parliament voting on issues which cannot be relevant to Quebec, does actually occur now because, for example, Quebec has opted out of the Canada pension plan. Quebec has its own pension plan, as you know, and therefore, when the federal Parliament enacts an amendment to the Canada pension plan the Quebec members of Parliament vote on legislation which cannot have any application in the province of Quebec.

To some degree, Quebec does now have a special status but it is not a status that is enshrined in the Constitution. It is a status which has been freely chosen by Quebec, exercising choices which are available to the other provinces as well.

For those two reasons, it would be my submission that it is not likely to be a profitable exercise to explore too seriously the idea of giving Quebec a set of distinctive powers which the other provinces would not have. If that is correct, then let me turn to the next heading in my paper, on page 14, which is "Decentralization".

If it is the case that special status for Quebec is not a desirable option, the only alternative, of course, is a general decentralization of powers. If the new powers that Quebec seeks were conferred on all provinces, then there would be no special status and none of the problems of asymmetrical federalism.

However, any significant decentralization of powers obviously carries with it a lot of problems. One problem, a purely political problem, is that a substantial decentralization of powers would probably not be publicly acceptable outside the province of Quebec.

The second problem is that the federal government must remain fiscally powerful enough to manage its debt, to manage the economy, to carry out what would be left of its legislative powers and, most important of all, to fund transfer programs to the poorer provinces.

A third point, related to the last one, is that any general decentralization of power will create problems for the smaller provinces, because the smaller provinces clearly would lack the capacity to carry out greatly increased responsibilities. They are already, with their existing responsibilities, heavily dependent on federal funding to maintain the standard of living of their residents. So there are certainly difficulties in the notion of a substantial, general decentralization of powers.

In the paper I have tried to suggest some of the areas where some decentralization might be possible. Let me just very briefly do it. I am alert to the clock and I do want to leave plenty of time for questions. Since you have it in writing, there is no point in my being particularly verbose about it.

The first point I deal with is powers over health, education and welfare. As you know, those powers are, under the existing Constitution, almost exclusively provincial. Nevertheless, there is, as you will know, a very heavy federal presence through the federal funding of national shared-cost programs. The achievement of true provincial autonomy over health, education and welfare really involves a restriction on the spending power of the federal government, because it is through the spending power of the federal government that the federal government is able to make the stipulations that it makes through the Canada Health Act and the Canada assistance plan. So it is very likely indeed that some form of restriction on the federal spending power will be critical to Quebec's acceptance of a new constitutional arrangement. That was of course one of the elements in the Meech Lake accord. Section 106A imposed restraints on federal spending in areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction.

A very serious problem about a general federal withdrawal from the fields of health, education and welfare is that if nothing were put in its place, it would mean the abandonment of national standards which, of course, now exist in the areas of health care and of welfare. They do not exist in the area of post-secondary education, although that area is also substantially funded by the federal government.


If it were thought that normal political influences would not suffice to maintain decent standards of health, education and welfare in every province, one of the ideas that has become current is the idea that the Constitution could include some guarantees of basic social and economic rights, so that although the provinces would be free of federal strings in designing their health, education and welfare programs, they would be backed by standards set out in the Constitution that would guarantee to the residents of all provinces certain minimum national standards in those fields.

I think that is a very interesting idea. I would caution the committee, however, against making standards of that kind judicially enforceable. I think it would be a mistake for standards of that kind to be enforced in the courts because I think the courts lack both the expertise and the political accountability to make decisions which would have profound effects on the spending priorities of provincial governments. But it seems to me that we could still put into the Constitution guarantees accompanied by mechanisms other than judicial enforcement in order to monitor the observance of the standards. For example, legislative or administrative structures could be set up to examine and report on the progress of governments in the achievement of the social and economic rights that would now, I am assuming, be in the Constitution and to make recommendations, probably not binding recommendations, but recommendations which would have, I assume, great moral and political force for corrective action by provinces that were held to be delinquent in observing the standards.

I go on in the paper and talk about a lot of other things. I talk about language, culture, the regulation of professions, trades and businesses, and family law. I will not pursue that -- that is in the paper -- but there are some other points there. I want to make one final point and then leave -- then I will stop. I will not leave until you tell me to leave, Mr Chairman.

The heading of "Delegation" at page 19 of my paper is a point that the committee ought to give some thought to. At the moment, the Constitution has been held to prohibit the provinces from delegating powers directly to the federal Parliament and, similarly, to prohibit the federal Parliament from delegating powers to the provinces. One of the things the Allaire report from Quebec suggested was that if there were an extensive delegation of powers to the provinces, those provinces that did not want to exercise such extensive new powers might wish to delegate them back to the federal government. That seems to me to be a very sensible idea. It has that suggestion of special status, but the ability to delegate would be an ability that would be conferred by the Constitution on all provinces. So putting into the Constitution a power which does not exist at the moment, a power to have these interjurisdictional delegations, would be another useful accompaniment to any kind of decentralization of powers.

I think it would be desirable for me to stop there. I would be very happy to receive questions.

The Acting Chair: Thank you very much, professor. I believe we have eight minutes at this point and we have four people on the list, so I would ask those who are asking questions to be as brief as possible.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Thank you so much, Professor Hogg. I want to thank you for all the contributions you have made to the constitutional discussion for a long time. I am getting a feeling that there is more pessimism than I want within the country. The last poll -- and I do not live my life by polls -- was not what I had hoped for.

Would you please comment on what seems to be getting some popularity, that there will be a separation and then a negotiation, and that is the only way in which many Québécois, in particular, and Canadians can deal with this -- that the separation has to take place, because until that happens there will not be what the Québécois see as an equal posture?

Dr Hogg: I think if it became clear that it was absolutely impossible to reach an accommodation -- and I do not share your pessimism. I believe that an accommodation will be achieved.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: It is not my pessimism; it is what I have been picking up.

Dr Hogg: I do not know what form it will take. I sort of have the opposite feeling, that somehow it is out there and it is going to happen. But if it did not, the desirable thing would be for the 11 governments to sit down and realistically attempt to negotiate what is then of course the only alternative: the separation of Quebec. That would be the best way to do it because it would occur in a consensual way and the many things that would have to be adjusted between the two new countries could be adjusted in an atmosphere of negotiation and discussion. That would undoubtedly be the best way to go.

Unfortunately, a breakdown in discussions might make it difficult for that kind of consensual arrangement to be made. In that event, I suppose the likelihood is that Quebec would unilaterally declare its independence, would turn around and say, "We now regard ourselves as independent," and would seek to negotiate with the rest of Canada from that standpoint.

Mr Malkowski: Thank you for your presentation. Reading through your paper, there was one area -- on page 47 you are talking about aboriginal people. Do you feel qualified to make recommendations on how to solve the requests that they have? If Quebec separates, do you have any opinions on what will happen to the natives who live in Quebec and their property rights and how those will be affected?

Dr Hogg: No, I do not know what the answer will be to that. Obviously the aboriginal people of Quebec will be a very important and powerful force in the province and a settlement will have to be reached with them. I am not sure what form that settlement would take, but it is difficult to see how the separation of Quebec could be successfully accomplished without, at the same time, achieving a settlement satisfactory to the aboriginal people of Quebec. I would assume that would be a necessary precondition of any kind of successful separation of the province of Quebec, but it is very difficult to speculate as to exactly what form that might take. As I say, I very much hope we will not ever reach that stage.

Mrs Marland: Dr Hogg, there has been a lot of discussion about the term "devolution of power." I have asked a number of people what the accurate interpretation of that term is and I have been advised that you would be one of the best people to ask that question of.

Dr Hogg: I do not think there is a precise definition. When we use the words "devolution of power," all we normally mean is a movement of power from the centre to the regions. For example, there has been talk about devolution of power in the United Kingdom, which has always meant moving power to Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland. All it means in the Canadian context is the movement of power from the federal Parliament, the central government, to the provincial legislatures.

Mrs Marland: Another brief question. Your suggestion about what the alternatives are if the federal government withdraws from health and education and welfare -- and you are looking to a legislative or administrative structure for enforcement, I think was the reference you made. Since the provision of those very basic human services on a national standard is so linked to a potential funding base of any individual province, even if the desire is there on the part of the province and even if we have a legislative and administrative structure for enforcing the desire, is the raw, horrible truth not the fact that we always will have the have and the have-not provinces, and so if you want to have a good health system or a good educational system, the population will gravitate to the wealthy, have provinces?


Dr Hogg: I think the raw, horrible truth certainly is that it will, for the foreseeable future, be impossible for the poorest provinces to maintain the same standards as the wealthy provinces without substantial transfers of federal money. That is one of the main reasons why I think that making one of these charters of rights, the social and economic rights, judicially enforceable is a silly idea, because it involves the co-ordination of several governments and very important spending priorities. If there was a monitoring structure which included representatives of the federal government as well as the provinces, then it might be possible to come up with sensible recommendations for improving the situation in a particular province that involved additional cash transfers from the federal government and that a delegate from the federal government had agreed to as part of this monitoring process. It seems to me it might be possible to form a group which was informed and authoritative on the political issues, as well as on the simple question of whether a particular set of standards had been complied with or not.

The Acting Chair: Thank you very much, Professor Hogg, for your presentation. I am sorry we do not have any more time, to the two people who were on the list for questions. It was an important presentation to be made before us.


The Acting Chair: I now ask Professor Peter Russell to come forward. Professor Russell, it is a great honour for me especially, after having known you for a number of years, to have you before the committee. You have been here before and you know many of the members. I believe we have 30 minutes for your presentation and questions.

Dr Russell: I was really pleased to come over here. I have been coming over here on my bicycle for over 30 years and today, for the first time, there was a bicycle rack at Queen's Park. The new government of Ontario is finally getting ready for the 21st century. It was a thrill to come this particular morning.

I did not come to talk about that issue. I came to discuss just three ideas with you. I did not answer all your questions, but rather thought that in the short time available, I would concentrate on just three ideas, which are set out in the short paper that is being circulated. Some of what I say will link very well with Professor Hogg and his more detailed presentation.

My first idea concerns Quebec. In this post-Meech round of constitutional politics, in English Canada it is not fashionable, indeed it is politically incorrect, to talk about accommodating Quebec. I understand those who oppose appeasing Quebec at any price. It is reasonable to oppose constitutional proposals which, however pleasing they may be to Quebec nationalists, would produce a highly decentralized federation that is not wanted by the majority of Canadians, but it is just as unreasonable to regard any proposals aimed at accommodating Quebec's concerns as beyond the pale.

If Canadians inside and outside of Quebec are to continue to share citizenship -- that is the way I would like members to think about it. This is the question before the country: Do we want to go on sharing citizenship, we the majority in Quebec and we the majority outside of Quebec? Do we want to go on being a single "we" with a common Constitution we all respect? If we are going to do that, then one majority cannot force its will on the other. No more can the majority of Quebec force its will on the rest of Canada than the rest of Canada can force its will on the majority of Quebec. That is very simply why an accommodation has to be found. This means that if the constitutional proposals your committee supports are to serve as a basis for the continuing unity of Canada, and I am for the continuing unity of Canada, they must have a ghost of a chance of being acceptable to the majority of Quebeckers.

In my view, to achieve that, to come up with proposals from Ontario that have a ghost of a chance of being acceptable to a majority in Quebec, that does not mean you must just take the Allaire report of the Quebec Liberal Party, the governing party and accept it holus-bolus. The Allaire report of the Quebec Liberal Party is a negotiating position. It is not Quebec's bottom line. You should understand that in the post-Meech round, Quebec's bargaining strategy is exactly the opposite to what it was in the Meech round. In Meech, Quebec began with its bottom line -- five conditions. It could not budge, not an inch, not a single inch, and the rest of the country could not take that. The rest of the country wanted to negotiate. This time they have gone the other way around. They have put the sun, the moon and the stars and everything in their opening position, knowing full well that they are going to back down from that, at least the government and the majority party in that province.

It is worth looking at the Allaire report, not with a view to, "Gee, do we have to take this whole bundle or leave it?" but rather, what is in there that appeals to you as a Canadian, what is in it that you think is acceptable not only to you but to a majority of Quebeckers in Quebec.

I suggest that if you do that, much of what is in Allaire can be accepted without wrecking the federation or giving Quebec, in effect, sovereignty-association. You should at least be willing to consider the powers Quebec needs to secure and develop its distinctive culture. Most Canadians I have talked to, whether they are in Quebec or outside of Quebec, want Quebec to be able to defend and support a distinctive culture. That is a common Canadian purpose, I hope, for most Canadians, including all members of this committee.

Here I point out that 21 of the 22 powers which Allaire proposes be under exclusive provincial jurisdiction are already either exclusive or shared fields of provincial jurisdiction. I repeat that: That great list of powers Allaire says they want to be under exclusive Quebec jurisdiction is already either exclusive provincial or concurrent provincial powers -- 21 of the 22.

Much of what Quebec is asking for is constitutional protection against the use of the federal spending power in fields of exclusive provincial jurisdiction. Professor Hogg has already touched fully on that point. It may very well be that only Quebec wants this protection. In that case, I hope you will be willing to extend the special status for Quebec that already exists in our Constitution, in a number of respects, and not insist on some new dogma of provincial equality, which would be a new dogma. It would be a very dogmatic idea to suddenly bring into the Constitution that every province must be identical. They have never been treated that way and it would be a great mistake to erect that as a dogma now.


Further, I urge you not to support the attack on the "notwithstanding" clause in the Charter of Rights. That clause is essential to Quebec's sense of cultural security. It is also a monument, in my view, to our Canadian capacity of combining the best of American and British constitutionalism. I am pleased that Premier Rae shares this view. I will leave with the clerk of your committee a copy of a full-length article I have recently published setting out the arguments for retaining the "notwithstanding" clause.

My second idea concerns Premier Rae's proposal that social and economic principles be added to the Charter of Rights, a proposal that my colleague Professor Hogg has already addressed. That proposal responds to the desire of a great many Canadians to strengthen the bonds of citizenship and nationhood. In Ontario and in English Canada generally, I suspect there is much more interest in constitutional changes of this kind rather than in decentralizing changes. If the constitutional aspirations of the English-speaking majority are to be served, there will have to be changes in this direction.

My problem with Mr Rae's proposal concerns means rather than ends. I think it would be a mistake to put social and economic rights in the charter. Why? Here my reasoning is the same as Professor Hogg's. Because to do so would be to hand over to an unaccountable, appointed judiciary the power to make a wide range of social and economic policy decisions. Judges and the process of litigation are the wrong instruments for making decisions about the appropriate levels of economic development and social policy across the country.

I suggest, to be constructive, that the place in the Constitution for incorporating Mr Rae's suggestion is section 36, the equalization section of the Constitution Act, 1982. Subsection 2, as you probably know, commits the federal government to maintaining "equalization payments to ensure that provincial governments have sufficient revenues to provide reasonably comparable levels of public service at reasonably comparable levels of taxation."

But you may not be aware that subsection 1 contains a commitment to the wellbeing of individual Canadians wherever they may reside. Here I quote from the Constitution itself. I am not making these words up; they are in subsection 36(1) of our Constitution. It commits both levels of government, provinces and the federal government to:

"(a) promoting equal opportunities for the wellbeing of Canadians;

"(b) furthering economic development to reduce disparity in opportunities; and

"(c) providing essential public services of reasonable quality to all Canadians."

These objectives, I suggest to you, might well be embellished and fleshed out along the lines of Mr Rae's proposal. But I think subsection 36(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982, rather than the charter, is the place for stating the economic and social objectives to the federation.

The problem with section 36, however, is that no institution of government is assigned responsibility for observance of its principles. To remedy this, may I suggest that a reformed elected federal Senate be given such a responsibility. As a body representing and directly responsible to all the country's regions, the Senate would be in a strong position to monitor carefully the fulfilment of national standards and propose remedial action to both levels of government.

Indeed, I would go further and ask you to consider two other matters of national concern which have been neglected and might well be brought under the surveillance of a revitalized Senate: the various barriers to having a true common market in Canada and major environmental problems that transcend provincial boundaries. A Senate which played a leading role in these areas -- equalization, the economic union and the environment -- a functional triple E Senate could be a much more exciting institution to contemporary Canadians than simply rebuilding a chamber of sober second thoughts. I should add that Allaire accepts the first two of these areas, equalization and economic union, as essential Canadian objectives.

My third and final idea concerns the constitutional process, and this is a topic on which I earlier submitted to this committee a lengthy written proposal entitled Towards a New Constitutional Process. It is somewhere in your files. I will not return to that proposal now except to connect it to the stage in the process we are now at.

My basic proposal was that the key instrument for negotiating a constitutional accord should be a meeting of delegations from provincial and federal legislatures, the northern territories and the aboriginal peoples. Even though such a step is not now contemplated in the federal government's game plan, I think there is still a good chance that we will stumble into such a meeting, constitutional conference or constituent assembly, whatever you want to call it.

Very soon a federal parliamentary committee will be shopping a federal constitutional proposal around the country. Once the cabinet in Ottawa has finished its paper, it will turn it over to a federal parliamentary committee which will go touring across the country. That committee of the federal Parliament will be meeting committees like your own in every jurisdiction, and also interacting with an aboriginal process that is under way now.

All of these encounters will be bilateral in nature, the federal committee and one jurisdiction at a time. I think it most unlikely that when all that is over next February, at the conclusion of all those bilateral meetings, the federal committee will be able to report back to the Parliament of Canada and the people of Canada that it has worked out a clear national consensus agreeable to all the constituent parts of the country. If it has, terrific. I do not think it will.

If a consensus has not been forged through those bilateral meetings, then the time will have come for multilateral negotiations and the choice of instruments will then be a first ministers' meeting or a broader meeting along the lines I have proposed. At this point, even Mr Mulroney and his colleagues may recognize that the broader meeting may be more congenial to the Canadian people and therefore more conducive to politically acceptable results.

In this case, if we have the broader meeting of legislative delegations, a number of you may well be involved in the crucial process of working out a constitutional compromise acceptable to the country's various majorities. While the size of delegations to such a conference will probably have to be fixed, I have taken the position that legislatures should be free to determine how they are represented within a given size at a constitutional conference, including whether their delegations should include non-elected persons.

However, for my own part, and without meaning to flatter you, I would prefer that my own province, Ontario, be represented by a good cross-section of yourselves, with all your faults, rather than those self-proclaimed paragons of virtue and representativeness, the unelected.


Mr Malkowski: Thank you for your very interesting presentation this morning. It is a very challenging discussion and from the proposals that are coming, I am sure we are going to refer to your paper a lot. I know that in Meech Lake there were a number of mistakes, so I would like to ask you a couple of specific questions.

How do we go on protecting the social and economic rights of Canadians in the charter then, or in the Constitution? You talked a little bit about that. Perhaps you could elaborate and also advise us how we develop a responsible system to ensure that people have their social and economic rights met. How do we go about this?

Dr Russell: The fundamental way of going about that is called democracy, electing governments that care about these matters and seeing that they deliver the right programs. I am very impatient with citizens today in democracies who want social and economic justice guaranteed in a piece of paper called a constitution. I do not believe in that kind of democracy.

I believe in a democracy where these issues are fought out and debated in elections, and those who want improvements in social-economic policies vote for governments that will deliver them. At the same time, I am not opposed to stating in a constitution some broad objectives of individual wellbeing and charging an institution, such as a national senate, to measure sharp deviations from those. But as to the actual delivery of social and economic programs, I think that should be done through the democratic process as well as debating the level and depth of those programs.

Mr Harnick: We have heard from a number of experts and you are all brilliant and I wish you would all agree. It would make our job a lot easier. We have heard from Professor Crispo and Professor Morton who believe in an asymmetrical federalism. Professor Hogg does not believe in that. I do not know if I am 100% certain in saying that you would agree with Professor Hogg, but when we look at the division of powers and the way that division of powers must ultimately be enumerated, is it possible to enumerate a division of powers that would give the province of Quebec the "distinct society" protection it desires without having a "distinct society" clause in the Constitution?

Dr Russell: Yes, I think it is. The approach I recommend in these matters is to avoid big abstract phrases like asymmetrical federalism or decentralization, and be tremendously practical and look at things one at a time and in a very tangible way.

For instance, on Quebec, I would look very tangibly at what kinds of security for their culture is important for them, and talk to them about it. You do not have to guess. You can read what they have written about it and, for heaven's sake, talk to some of their legislators about it, presumably those who want to go on as part of Canada, and figure out what they need.

They already have some special status in our Constitution. For instance, in 1982, those changes that Mr Trudeau's government is so rightly associated with gave Quebec special status in the area of the language of education as it applies to new Canadians. Quebec does not have a guarantee for new Canadians whose first language is English that pertains in other provinces. It seems to me we survived that. The reason Quebec was treated specially there was that it has a great fear about the change in its culture if new immigrants there are not put into the French school system. That is part of their security need.

I would look at it very practically.

In 1867, we built in a number of other special status clauses for Quebec, including protection for its special civil code. Section 94 gives special status to Quebec laws in the area of property and civil rights. They must always be under provincial jurisdiction whereas -- this is one area where other provinces can delegate or give power to Parliament. That again was done for practical reasons.

I would just caution against these big slogans. "Are you for asymmetrical federalism?" "Are you for decentralization?" Look at the problem and see if you can get a solution the different majorities of Canada can live with and accept, and not get too hung up on abstract, theoretical models, if that is any help.

Mr Curling: Both professors in the last four to five minutes have given us a lot of food for thought and direction. I was extremely impressed also with your presentation. In just about the third paragraph you said something that actually woke me up, about continued unity with Canada. When you spoke of Quebec, you say "must have a ghost of a chance of being acceptable" to the majority not only of Quebec but everyone else. In your paper you presented ways in which we can go about it, all those details about how we can do that. But the question came up, are we then blocked into trying to do something in such a time frame that it is impossible to assess all of that, to educate, to inform the constituency or the citizens of this country, in order to come up with a proper or as near as possible a proper Constitution? Do you think the time frame is too short?

Dr Russell: No, I do not. I think most of the issues that are going to end up on the table are ones that are pretty well known to the various Canadians who have now been involved in debating the Constitution. One thing to bear in mind, Mr Curling, is that we are now the Olympic gold medalists in having public discussions of constitutions. There is no other country in the world where so many of its citizens at all levels, its media and its elected politicians have debated and discussed their Constitution. We are not novices; we are getting to be real pros. We are not going to be doing a new Constitution. We are going to be dealing with a half-dozen problems or so: the spending power, the Senate, and so on in which we have a lot of experience.

I think if we are making progress and particularly next spring -- there are signs we are getting close -- we are working towards an accord where there is a ghost of a chance of satisfying the different majorities: the aboriginal majority, the Quebec majority, the rest of Canada -- as I call it -- majority. I do not think our politicians are incapable of exercising leadership. By that I mean I think they can say, and I refer here particularly to Mr Bourassa in Quebec who is the one Premier facing a deadline, that if real tangible progress is being made, he can turn to his electorate and say: "Hey, we're getting somewhere. We've got some problems but we're getting somewhere." I think he can get us into overtime if that is necessary. It will require skills of leadership but I think they are there.

Ms Carter: I would like to add my appreciation of what we have heard so far this morning, as Mr Curling said, the food for thought that we require. I was particularly interested by Mr Russell's mention of the environment in this context because I think we should all be aware that if we dream for Canada's future and set up frameworks but we do not solve some of our global and local environmental problems, that is what they are going to remain, dreams. We are going to be faced with all kinds of emergencies.

I understood you to say that you thought a reformed Senate might have a part to play in this field. It seems to me that most environmental issues are very much bound up with other things, for example, transport, housing, energy, farming, you name it. It is something that is involved in almost anything that a government, or for that matter individuals, can do. I wonder if you would enlarge on that a little.

Dr Russell: I am glad you raised it because it is the area of government policy that is of most immediate interest to me, that and the aboriginal question. But my number one point, and I think you would agree with it, Ms Carter, is that these environmental problems today cannot be divided up into provincial and federal jurisdictions. Just think of something as basic as waste management. To say that local governments have no responsibility in that area would be madness. But to say that the federal government, the government of a large nation like Canada should have no interest or concern with global warming and those massive problems that affect our whole planet would be ridiculous. I am suggesting that in a revitalized Senate it be given a function for environmental surveillance that particularly looks at those problems that transcend local boundaries. One obvious one is acid rain. It is clearly a problem no provincial jurisdiction can deal with adequately, and there are many others.


I might tell you just a little anecdote about Quebec. I went to the meeting of the Quebec Liberal Party as an observer when it debated the Allaire report. I remember particularly when it got to the proposal to amend Allaire on environment. Allaire says environment should be exclusively provincial. That is in the Allaire report. The amendment which came from several constituencies in Quebec was to make it a shared field of jurisdiction. I remember a young Liberal getting up to a microphone and speaking passionately for the amendment on the grounds I have just made. She was an environmentalist. She was also a Liberal.

I remember watching the Minister of the Environment in Quebec sitting on his hands a few seats away and never going to the microphone, and then having the question called and the amendment defeated. I went up to several of the young Liberals I knew as students and said, "My goodness, I could understand a lot of what went on here today, but why would you think you could deal with the environment entirely on a provincial basis?" They said, "Well, we had just decided, as a strategy in our caucus, that all motions dealing with powers would have to be defeated, that we'd have to just accept Allaire as it is," but they kind of winked.

I mention that because I do not think intelligent young Liberals in Quebec like that could really believe you could have a national government in a country like Canada that said, "We've got nothing to do with the environment." I do not think they mean that. I think that is clearly an example of a negotiating position, not a final one.

Mr Offer: Thank you for your presentation, Professor Russell. Generally we hear two types of presentations, one that deals with the devolution or transference of powers to the provincial government, and second, a whole other series of presentations which talk about specific aspects of the Constitution and how they should be changed. I put in that group aboriginal issues, socioeconomic -- Senate reform. On the issue of the devolution of powers, is it your opinion a constitutional amendment is necessary in order to potentially deal with that issue?

Dr Russell: No, I do not see a great interest outside of Quebec in the devolution of power. One thing that I think the Spicer committee and its feeling of the public pulse tells us is that outside of Quebec there is not a great interest in taking powers away from Ottawa and transferring them to the provinces. I do not see why we should do that if most Canadians do not want it. I do not know governmental leaders who particularly wanted it at either level. Why mess up our Constitution? Just because if we have to do something for Quebec, we have to do it for everybody else? That seems to make no sense whatsoever. I am very much of Mr Hogg's persuasion that we should find some ways of making the division a little more flexible.

He has given the example, and I repeat it to you, of the spending power. I think it would be an easy thing to write into the Constitution that provinces that want to control federal spending in their own areas of jurisdiction -- we are not asking for any new jurisdiction -- that want to be able to say when the federal spending power can encroach on their jurisdiction, should be able to say so. They should have that option. Quebec may be the only province to exercise that option, but one or two other provinces may want it.

Mr Offer: Mr Chair, do I have time for a short supplementary on that?

The Acting Chair: I am afraid we really cannot. We are a bit behind schedule and I think we need to ask for Mr McRoberts to come forward now. Thank you very much, Professor, for coming here. We are indebted to you again for the fine work you are doing.

Dr Russell: You are most welcome. I wish you success in your committee's endeavours.


The Acting Chair: I now ask Professor McRoberts to come forward and introduce yourself for the record.

Mr McRoberts: I am Professor McRoberts. I am in the political science department at York University and I am also now the director of a centre for research on Canadian studies at York University called the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies.

The Acting Chair: We have an hour, I believe, so we hope you will leave a good amount of time for questions.

Mr McRoberts: I understood I had half an hour, but I am quite prepared to take an hour.

The Acting Chair: I am sorry; my mistake. It is half an hour.

Mr McRoberts: I prepared a presentation which I presume will take about 15 minutes or so to read. I will do that and then of course answer the questions you wish to pose to me. I believe copies of these remarks have already been distributed to you.

In my invitation to appear before this committee, I was asked to address my remarks primarily to your questions dealing with "Roles of English and French Languages". While I fully intend to speak to these matters, I would also like to address some of the questions dealing with "Quebec's Future in Canada and the Roles of the Federal and Provincial Governments."

It seems to me that language policy and the Quebec question are indissolubly linked. After all, it was only with the rise of a new nationalism in Quebec in the 1960s that many English-speaking Canadians developed a concern about language rights in Canada. Recognition of the French language minority rights became viewed as a necessary response to Quebec nationalism. In fact, there developed a belief in some quarters that recognition of language rights could be a sufficient response to the Quebec question. Time clearly has shown that it cannot be. It seems to me that the present constitutional crisis can only be resolved through squarely addressing both sets of issues.

Moreover, it seems to me that the way in which we frame a language policy for Canada, including Ontario, cannot ignore developments in Quebec. Language policy cannot be properly understood solely in terms of the needs and rights of the linguistic minorities. The Quebec case requires that attention be paid to the needs and concerns of a linguistic majority.

The very designation of French as a majority language in Quebec is itself somewhat arbitrary. The fact remains that French is very much the minority language in Canada as a whole, let alone North America. This fact has imposed responsibilities upon the Quebec government to protect and promote French in Quebec, majority language as it may be. Seventeen years ago these responsibilities led the Quebec government of Robert Bourassa, a strongly committed federalist, to abandon formally official bilingualism through Bill 22. The oft-criticized Bill 101 of the Parti québécois government merely reinforced this already established new direction. It seems to me that these developments in Quebec constrain the kind of language regime which might be appropriate for Ontario.

I will now discuss each of these questions in turn.

First of all, with respect to "Roles of English and French Languages," it seems to me that the central problem with language policy in Canada is that we have tended to presume that the formula adopted at the federal level, official bilingualism, should also be the model for provincial governments, yet in only one province, New Brunswick, is the official language minority of the same demographic order as at the federal level.

In most provinces the minorities are relatively small. Even Ontario's French speakers, who in numerical terms constitute Canada's second largest official minority, represent about 4% of the provincial population. Elsewhere, the minorities are smaller, in proportions as well as in numbers. Under these conditions, movement to official bilingualism or linguistic equality in general is bound to produce strong opposition. The opposition is all the greater given the fact that Quebec, which has the largest number of minority language speakers and the second largest proportion, has moved away from official bilingualism.

For their part, supporters of official bilingualism in English Canada have often felt betrayed by Quebec. After fighting a decidedly uphill battle for linguistic equality in their own province, usually in the belief that Québécois were looking for precisely such a gesture, they find Quebec moving in the opposite direction. Yet whatever their concern about the fate of the francophone minorities, Quebec francophones have shown no weakening in their resolve to affirm the pre-eminence of French within Quebec. As they clearly demonstrated through their support of Bill 178, they are adamant in their defence of the integrity of Bill 101.

For these reasons, we need to treat language issues in a way which is more closely linked to political realism and the sociology of language. The provincial governments should provide support for francophone minorities where they are indeed viable -- clearly viability varies enormously from province to province -- and they should provide support which is meaningful to the needs of their particular francophone minority. At the same time, we need to recognize the legitimate concern of Quebec francophones to protect and promote French within Quebec.


With this in mind, I will now respond to each of the questions the committee has posed on language policy. First, any Canada clause should indeed recognize linguistic duality as a fundamental characteristic of the country, but this should be done in a way which recognizes the reality of language use in Canada. It seems to me that the duality clause of the Meech Lake accord would meet this objective, especially as it was originally formulated. You may recall it was a convoluted phrase, to be sure, but I think it did accord quite well with the pattern of language use in Canada. It referred to "the existence of a French-speaking Canada, centred in Quebec but also present elsewhere in Canada; and an English-speaking Canada, concentrated outside Quebec but also present in Quebec" which "constitutes a fundamental characteristic of Canada."

Second, with respect to protection of minorities, it seems to me the focus should be upon services and control of distinct institutions rather than upon formal equality within governmental institutions. On that basis, it is not clear to me that it is necessary that Ontario should be declared officially bilingual. In fact, to do so could be construed as an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of Bill 101, which clearly is an essential condition for continued support of the federal order in French Quebec.

By the same token, reciprocal intergovernmental agreements may provide a more effective basis for ensuring minority protection than constitutional entrenchment. Such agreements are likely to be more politically feasible. More important, they offer the flexibility needed to accommodate the wide interprovincial variations in the situations and needs of linguistic minorities. For instance, an interprovincial agreement among Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick not only would embrace 98% of Canada's official-language minorities; it would entail a much wider range of services than can be provided elsewhere.

The third question posed by the committee deals with provincial jurisdictions, "If the province of Quebec receives jurisdiction over all matters relevant to language and culture, should other provinces receive similar powers?" Strictly speaking, it is not clear how Quebec could be given "jurisdiction over all matters relevant to language and culture." Quebec could not exercise jurisdiction over language practices within federal institutions, nor over issues that must necessarily fall within federal jurisdiction, such as regulation of interprovincial trade and commerce.

However, Quebec could be given complete control over regulation of language within its own jurisdictions. In other words, it could be freed from its obligations under section 133 of the Constitution Act, 1867, and section 23 of the charter. A case could be made for eliminating section 133, since it pertains more to the global status of language in Quebec than to the specific situation of its linguistic minority. Eliminating section 23 is more problematic, since it does involve services to minorities. If section 133 is eliminated, so should Manitoba's requirements under the Manitoba Act, 1870. For its part, New Brunswick stands as a special case given the size of its official-language minority.

As for jurisdiction over culture, the primary issue would be federal support for cultural activities, as with the Canada Council, but federal agencies which are themselves involved in cultural productions, such as the National Film Board or the CBC, might also be involved. A case could in fact be made for devolving to Quebec some or all of the French-language components of these various federal institutions, but it seems to me there is no comparable argument for handing the English-language components over to the nine predominantly English-language provinces.

Finally, "In the event of separation of the province of Quebec, would the constitutional position of francophone minorities in the rest of Canada change?" Official bilingualism probably would be untenable at the federal level, although it might well persist for provincial purposes in New Brunswick, given the demographic structure of the province. The best approach to ensuring protection of linguistic minorities would, it seems to me, in the context of Quebec sovereignty, be reciprocal accords between a sovereign Quebec and the governments of the rest of Canada.

Turning now to the question of the role of the federal and provincial governments and Quebec's future in Canada, it seems to me that in the last analysis it is the Quebec question which triggered Canada's crisis of national unity in the first place. This happened in the early 1960s, well before the most recent wave of western Canadian alienation was politically manifest. From that point forward all Quebec governments, federalist as well as indépendantistes, with the clear support of francophone Québécois, have pursued two central constitutional objectives: recognition of Quebec specificity, and second, expansion of the powers of the Quebec government.

Yet two decades of discussion produced a constitutional revision which bears no serious response to these objectives. In the Constitution Act, 1982, there was no recognition of Quebec's distinctiveness except for the restriction on application to Quebec of part of section 23, and there was no expansion of the Quebec government's powers. In fact, through the charter, they were curtailed. Thus the Quebec government did not need to be indépendantistes to reject the 1982 accord. In terms of Quebec's established objectives, the 1982 revision was no less unsatisfactory than the Victoria charter of 1971 which the Quebec government of Robert Bourassa refused to sign.

The Meech Lake accord sought to rectify this problem in what I viewed as a quite modest and balanced fashion. Clearly, any resolution of the present crisis will entail changes that go at least this far; probably they will have to go much farther.

Some English Canadians appear to have rejected the accord out of opposition to any explicit recognition of Quebec's specificity, no matter how carefully hemmed in the "distinct society" clause may have been. Clearly this is not realistic.

A more compelling objection was that the accord might have seriously weakened federal-level institutions. While not valid in the case of the Meech Lake accord, it seems to me this is a legitimate concern as we try once again to devise an accommodation of Quebec. Opinion surveys show that most English Canadians do not want major devolution of powers to the provinces. For that matter, the primary vehicle of western Canadian grievance, the Reform Party, has insisted that its concern is not with decentralization but increased participation at the centre. In fact, there may well be support in English Canada for enhancement of the federal role in some areas such as education. On this basis, asymmetrical federalism clearly emerges as the only basis for accommodating both Québécois and English Canadian aspirations.

Turning now to your specific questions on Quebec and the federal-provincial roles, I will offer the following reflections.

First, regarding the division of powers, I have already indicated why I believe asymmetry to be the preferred formula. Within this formula, I would envisage the expansion of Quebec's jurisdictions in a number of areas where it has particular concerns not fully shared by the other provinces, most notably culture, communications, social policy and manpower and retraining.

Ideally, so as to preserve the integrity of the federal role in the rest of Canada, asymmetry would be achieved through an explicit allocation of powers to Quebec. If this should, however, prove to be politically impossible, as might well be the case given English Canadian insistence on equality among the provinces, then the powers should be made available to all provinces under the formula of concurrency with provincial paramountcy. However, so as to preclude provincial governments from exercising this paramountcy for frivolous reasons, it might be made subject to a device such as a popular referendum.

Second, formal recognition of Quebec's distinctiveness clearly is indispensable to any resolution of the present crisis. For most Quebec francophones, the "distinct society" clause of the Meech Lake accord stands as a benchmark by which proposals for constitutional revision will be evaluated. On this basis, the mere inclusion of a statement in an omnibus Canada clause which appears in the preamble may well be insufficient.

Finally, in the event that the Quebec question cannot be resolved within Canadian federalism, we all have an interest in moving as expeditiously as possible to a new relationship with Quebec. Presuming, as I fully do, that any movement of Quebec to sovereignty would be based upon the results of a properly conducted consultation of Quebec residents, it would be in the interests of the rest of Canada to accept the legitimacy of such a move. This was the implicit position of the Trudeau government at the time of the 1980 referendum and I understand this to be the import of the resolution on Quebec's self-determination adopted at last week's national convention of the Progressive Conservative Party.

By the same token, for purely pragmatic reasons, we should accept that Quebec's accession to sovereignty would be based upon the existing boundaries of the province of Quebec. While quite compelling moral and legal arguments can be mounted against such a position, the fact remains that to place in question Quebec's boundaries would be to open a debate which could escalate very rapidly and which has no evident basis for resolution. I believe that the clear interest of Canada without Quebec would be to focus negotiations on the quite complex matter of Quebec's political disengagement from the federal order, bearing in mind that both sides have an interest in the rapid resolution of the issues. At the same time, we should be seeking to undertake the types of reforms of federal-level institutions that clearly would be necessary, given the greatly enhanced weight that Ontario would assume in Canada without Quebec.

My own view is that Canada without Quebec has over recent years acquired a new coherence as a political entity, thanks in large part to such initiatives as the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. There is no reason why this entity should dissolve upon Quebec's departure, provided that measures are taken to ensure a proper expression of regional forces and federal-level institutions. In the last analysis, in this situation, it seems to me Ontario's interest would lie with maintaining the coherence of the rest of Canada and with making the concessions that might be necessary to secure this.

At this point, having read my prepared statement, I am available to answer any questions you wish to pose.


Mrs Y. O'Neill: This is a very detailed presentation. I am amazed that you tackled all the questions. Most presenters have not attempted to do that and you have done it in some depth.

You likely know that we met with Professor Réaume yesterday. In a nutshell, some of the things she said regarding protection for minorities did seem to be tied rather closely to services within communities, within provinces; social rights, however you want to describe it. She used our Bill 8 in application of that theory.

I am reading page 7 of your document and I would like you to try to tie in the comment I have just made with what you have said here regarding Quebec's powers. First of all, I think you have made a very good deduction, which most people will not write down, that there really has not been a serious response to all the concerns in the 20 years. Quebec has been coming to the table for 20 years and longer. The restrictions on the application of section 23 is where I guess I would like you to go, and then when you are talking about the curtailment of Quebec's powers through the Charter of Rights, Perhaps you could tie that in to what I have said. I am sure you are able to, after reading your brief.

Mr McRoberts: With respect to Bill 8, I think a couple of things in Bill 8 are especially useful. One is to promote bilingual services within the province, with services to be available in both languages. This in fact is a notion that the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism proposed back in the mid-1960s. The federal government incorporated this within the federal Official Languages Act, but was unable for various reasons to ever put it into effect. So I think this is an appropriate framework for legislation to deal with the question of services.

As I indicate, I think there is a final step that actually Ontario is quite close to making, which is to designate French and English as the official languages of the province. New Brunswick has done so. This is now reiterated within the charter. Within Bill 8 there is a statement that French and English are official languages with respect to the courts and education, so Ontario has in fact gone a long way down this road.

There still is the final step of declaring explicitly that both languages are official languages. My sense is it could produce fairly strong political reaction in Ontario. We have already seen this in light of the movement to declare municipalities English only, and it is not clear to me that there would be a major benefit in doing so.

I think the focus should be on services, which is the primary thrust of Bill 8, and beyond services I think the focus really should be on control by francophone communities of their own institutions, for schooling, health and social services.

With respect to Quebec, I would insist -- I think it is a fairly common argument -- that the demands which the Quebec government, with widespread support in Quebec, has articulated since the early 1960s, focusing upon the status of Quebec within Canada, focusing upon the powers of the Quebec government, have not received a direct response. There was no enhancement of jurisdictions in the Constitution Act, 1982, at least in a way that responded to Quebec's concerns. There is the provision with respect to section 23, which Professor Russell already alluded to, by which the aspect of the protection of minority-language education having to do with the children of immigrants in the case of Quebec is dependent upon approval of this by a resolution of the Quebec National Assembly.

Leaving that aside, there is little else that is specific to Quebec. The fact remains that the provisions having to do with mobility in the charter could be seen as curtailing the powers of the Quebec government. Quebec as a government did not gain anything in the Constitution Act, 1982, and I think it was quite clear on the part of those who were responsible for designing the federal proposal that in fact Quebec should gain nothing.

The argument, of course, was that there was a response to the concerns of Quebec francophones in terms of language rights in particular and reinforcement of the position of the francophone minorities in other provinces, but I would insist that this clearly was not sufficient. It is not surprising then that the Quebec government did not sign the accord, just as in the end it was not surprising that the Bourassa government did not sign the Victoria charter in 1971, claiming that it did not respond to Quebec's concerns for enhancement of provincial jurisdiction.

Repeatedly the issue has been raised in constitutional discussions, responding to what Quebec has been explicitly calling for, namely an enhancement of provincial jurisdiction. Each time, for whatever reason, we have avoided doing so and the problem remains. The Meech Lake accord, I would still argue, was a quite limited response to Quebec's concerns. There was, to be sure, the "distinct society" clause, which at least dealt with this contention that there should be some recognition of Quebec's distinctiveness. There was a reinforcement of what already existed by way of provincial participation in immigration and there was protection with respect to the use of the federal spending power to which Professor Russell alluded. It becomes quite disconcerting if for the rest of Canada this should be unsatisfactory, because I find it hard to imagine a kind of response to Quebec which does not deal with the question of the division of powers.

Ms Carter: I am just wondering how much detailed thought has gone into this problem of asymmetry, because it seems to me that if that could be accommodated in some democratic way, then that might be the way out of the problem, since most of Canada obviously does not want the greater provincial independence. As to the demand that might put on us, would they require a greater adjustment in the Constitution than might be feasible? The kind of thing that comes to my mind is if we had some kind of compromise where there was almost a two-tier government, the top level including Quebec and then a level that was just the other provinces, as it were, so that we did not get our majorities mixed up on the different issues, or some way in which consensus could function on different issues.

Mr McRoberts: Yes. We do in fact have a great deal of asymmetry already within Canadian federalism. If we look at the pattern of federal-provincial agreements, there is a whole host of agreements the federal government has with some provinces that do not involve other provinces. The federal government maintains provincial police, the RCMP, in eight provinces, excluding Ontario and Quebec. So at that level, in terms of executive federalism, federal-provincial agreements, there is an enormous amount of asymmetry.

What might be involved here is a question of the actual exercise of legislative powers in a way that would exclude the other level of government. The formula -- I think the appropriate one -- would be one which is often referred to as concurrence with provincial paramountcy by which jurisdictions would be assigned to both levels of government, with the provision that a provincial government could seek to exercise exclusive jurisdiction within it.

The difficulties that have often been raised with respect to the institutions of the federal government would be -- this was the classic position of Pierre Trudeau when it came to any kind of distinct status for Quebec -- what happens in the House of Commons when a bill is put before the House which does not apply to all the provinces, which applies only to the provinces that have not in this case assumed exclusive jurisdiction in an area? His contention was that the situation would be totally untenable. Would members of Parliament from the provinces not participating in such an agreement, not affected by the bill, vote or not?

In point of fact, we have had a situation repeatedly in which a bill was put before the Canadian House of Commons which did not apply to one province, namely Quebec. We have the precedent going back to 1964 by which Quebec has its contributory pension scheme, the Quebec pension plan. The federal government, in conjunction with the other provinces, maintains the Canada pension plan in the rest of Canada. Bills have had to go forward dealing with the Canada pension plan, not applying to Quebec. Quebec MPs have voted on these bills. In fact, the Canada pension plan has been administered by two different MPs from Quebec, Marc Lalonde and Monique Bégin, and there does not appear to have been a major concern about this.

It is probable that if this kind of asymmetry were quite limited, the kind of institutional difficulties that have been cited would not be insurmountable. There may be a point at which it becomes so extensive and it is so often that bills are put before the House that have to do with some provinces and not others, with all the provinces but Quebec, that the situation would become difficult.

Those may be the grounds upon which we would want to move to a system that has been proposed at various points over the last 20 years, by which there would be a legislative body dealing only with the rest of Canada and not with Quebec. We would have a kind of bifurcated federalism in which there would be a common government dealing with the country as a whole and a second government dealing only with Canada without Quebec, which would have extensive jurisdictions, all of which in the case of Quebec would be exercised by the Quebec National Assembly. But we have not reached the point yet, certainly in our limited application of asymmetry, where there appears to have been a serious institutional difficulty.


Mr Offer: In the discussions I think it is clear that as we deal with a number of issues, there is a certain importance to symbolism: what it means, how it feels. In your opinion, is there any proposal which would contain the phrase "distinct society" acceptable to the provinces outside Quebec? On the other hand, is there any proposal which does not include that phrase acceptable to the province of Quebec?

Mr McRoberts: The problem is that we had the Meech Lake accord and the Meech Lake accord had this phrase "distinct society." Quebec francophones are very much aware of this. They are also very much aware, and I think correctly believe, that it was this provision in the Meech Lake accord that led to its widespread opposition in English Canada. I think this is borne out in surveys, that this particular provision, "distinct society," is the one that caused the greatest amount of distress in English Canada.

The fact of the matter is that the "distinct society" clause was very carefully hedged in. There was a preceding clause referring to linguistic duality in Canada. There was a subsequent clause stating the "distinct society" clause should not have an impact upon the division of powers, securing powers for provinces or the federal government that they would not otherwise have. One could explain these various provisions to English Canadians, but they really did not seem to have any impact, because, as you point out, symbolism is very important. So it seems that it was this phrase "distinct society" which caused the difficulty.

I have difficulty imagining that there could be a basis for resolution of the constitutional crisis, a package coming from the federal government with the support of all the other provincial governments but Quebec, which does not have the phrase "distinct society" in it which is somehow acceptable to Quebec. I think this becomes sort of the benchmark by which people in Quebec are going to assess what is done. There is a continuing sense of humiliation, a sense that they went in in a fairly straightforward fashion in negotiating the Meech Lake accord, outlining five minimal positions. There was an agreement to these positions on the part of all the provincial governments and then there was a backtracking. I think it is going to be very hard for francophones in Quebec to forget this and to accept that this damage, as it were, could be repaired by a new accord which does have this famous phrase.

It may be that English Canada is going to have to come to terms with the phrase. I think, and this is quite evident, that what is going to be needed is some sort of package which at the same time does address the concerns of English Canada, and in particular addresses the concerns having to with federal level institutions and reform of the Senate. It may be that in that context, when "distinct society" is linked to an effective reform of the Senate as opposed to the promise of maybe this will happen, there will be more receptivity in English Canada to the whole package.

Mr Bisson: I would like to just carry on with the line of questioning Mr Offer was putting forward in regard to symbolism, because it seems to me, by virtue of being involved in this committee and reading the Constitution and dealing with the whole issue, that I am now coming to the realization that many of the aspirations that Quebec is talking about are already afforded to it under the present mechanisms that we either have through the practice by which we do government in Canada or through the Constitution as it stands now, and that the major problem is basically trying to get formal recognition for that under either a Canada clause or whatever mechanism that might be, and the actual fact is that there is resistance outside Quebec for the formal recognition.

I guess what I am getting at is two things. Really, I guess the difficulty we have is, what do we do as a nation in order to reconcile or to bring together the people on both sides of this issue?

I found it interesting that at the beginning of your presentation you talked about the aspirations of western Canada in regard to how they see the possible solutions, how they see their regionalism, problems in regard to the federal government. You are advocating that what they are asking for is more representation at the centre. I would tend to, not strongly disagree, but I interpret that a little bit differently. I guess what I am asking you is, what advice can you give to me and to the rest of the committee as to what we can do to try to get people to understand that really the solution to this thing, if we all want to work at it honestly, could be arrived at, because a lot of the mechanisms are already there?

Mr McRoberts: Yes, and intellectually it is not that hard to spell out what would be the basis for a constitutional resolution; it is just much more difficult to see how it can be secured.

I think the symbolism is important. Maybe the key would be to avoid trying to resolve everything within a single formula, which I think it is fair to say was the approach that was adopted in 1982. It was within the Trudeau vision by which one has a charter which establishes language rights and on that basis one can ignore other questions, especially the Quebec question. I think this time around, clearly we are going to have to address several different sets of issues, and it makes for a much more complex package that cannot be reduced to a single formula, but it is the one that may well be satisfactory.

The Acting Chair: Mr McRoberts, we want to thank you very much for your very full presentation to the committee, and at this point we will recess, to resume at 2 o'clock this afternoon.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Mr Chairman, before we recess, could you please explain why the presentation at 2 o'clock is to last one hour? Is that correct?

The Acting Chair: No, one and a half hours.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: That is very unusual.

The Acting Chair: Yes. This is the information I have received, Mrs O'Neill.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Was that a request by the presenters?

Mr Bisson: It was asked on the part of the presenters to allow more time because of their length of their submission. As well, there was some discussion in regard to the length of that presentation on the part of the subcommittee, I do believe, and it was agreed to do so.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I could have missed that. Okay.

The Acting Chair: I believe also Mr Vegh afterwards will be a half-hour presentation, so we will rise at 4 o'clock, if we get started on time. This committee is now recessed, to resume at 2 o'clock this afternoon.

The committee recessed at 1158.


The committee resumed at 1406.


Le Président suppléant (M. Drainville) : Monsieur Tanguay, voulez-vous faire la présentation de vos collègues, s'il vous plaît ?

M. Tanguay : Ça me fera plaisir, Monsieur le Président. Mais si vous me le permettez, au tout début de notre présentation, l'Association canadienne-française de l'Ontario aimerait prendre cette occasion pour vous féliciter de votre ascension, si on peut ainsi dire, au poste de Président de ce comité spécial sur le rôle de l'Ontario au sein de la Confédération. Je crois que nous sommes un des premiers groupes à vous rencontrer officiellement.

L'ACFO, l'Association canadienne-française de l'Ontario, prend l'occasion de vous souhaiter bon voyage et bon travail dans le reste du mandat du comité.

Le Président suppléant : Merci.

M. Tanguay : J'aimerais prendre cette occasion, avant de commencer, et comme vous le disiez tout à l'heure, de présenter l'équipe qui m'accompagne aujourd'hui, parce que l'Association canadienne-française de l'Ontario, quoique ce soit sa deuxième occasion de venir échanger avec votre comité, croit qu'il est d'une importance capitale à notre présence collective. Une fois que j'aurai présenté mes collègues, vous comprendrez pourquoi.

J'aimerais commencer par Mme Georgette Sauvé, qui est la vice-présidente de l'Association canadienne-française de l'Ontario, mais qui joue un rôle tout à fait spécial : elle représente toutes les ACFO régionales. Comme vous le savez, lors de votre premier voyage à travers la province, vous avez réalisé que l'ACFO était présente un peu partout.

En deuxième lieu, j'aimerais vous présenter M. Paul Lachance de Windsor. Il est vice-président, lui aussi, de l'Association canadienne-française de l'Ontario, mais il représente les 21 associations affiliées à l'ACFO, comme vous avez pu le constater aussi.

En plus, l'Association canadienne-française de l'Ontario, reconnaissant l'impact national que les recommandations de votre comité pourront avoir à un moment donné, est allée demander de l'aide d'aviseurs constitutionnels très compétents tout au long de l'évolution du dossier qu'elle pilote à ce moment-ci au sujet de la position des francophones de l'Ontario dans toute la dimension de cette redéfinition du Canada. Remarquez bien qu'on retrouve cette compétence dans la jeunesse. J'aimerais vous les présenter à ce moment-ci.

À ma gauche vous avez M. Gilles Levasseur, un jeune avocat qui se passionne par toute la dimension de notre constitution. À ma droite, j'ai le plaisir d'être accompagné de M. Yves LeBouthillier, qui lui aussi est un jeune avocat dynamique, constitutionnaliste, j'ose dire, à plein temps, et de ces personnes qui nous avisent, qui nous permettent de vraiment faire une réflexion appronfondie du problème qui est en avant de nous autres.

Je m'en voudrais de ne pas mentionner, à l'arrière-plan, notre directeur général, M. Fernand Gilbert qui, comme vous le savez, a un travail de coordonnateur qui permet à la communauté franco-ontarienne de se rencontrer, de se réunir et de se réaliser. Alors, le rôle de directeur général que M. Fernand Gilbert a à jouer est quand même très important.

Mme Suzanne Meunier, de son côté, qui est à l'arrière-plan, est agente de la recherche et de liaison à l'Association. Elle permet de faire la synthèse de toutes nos pensées et elle appuie, en fonction du travail, ce que nous sommes en train de faire.

En dernier lieu, j'aimerais faire mention que M. Yves Rouleau, qui est notre agent en communications, nous accompagne aussi. Ceci est pour les présentations. Je vous remercie.

Le Président suppléant : Merci, Monsieur Tanguay. Comme vous le savez, le comité vous a accordé une heure et demie pour présenter votre exposé. Il serait utile que vous réserviez une période de temps considérable pour les questions et les réponses, s'il vous plaît.

M. Tanguay : Avec plaisir.

À l'heure où l'avenir du Canada semble en péril, les Franco-Ontariennes et Franco-Ontariens, de concert avec leurs concitoyens canadiens, ont saisi l'occasion de jouer un rôle prépondérant dans la définition de leur place au sein de l'Ontario et du Canada. Reconnaissant l'importance de saisir l'exceptionnelle opportunité qui s'offre à la nation toute entière, l'ACFO, en étroite collaboration avec ses organismes membres, a vivement encouragé cette réflexion profonde au sein de la communauté franco-ontarienne.

Au cours de la dernière année, quelque 10 000 Franco-Ontariennes et Franco-Ontariens ont repondu de façon significative à cette invitation. En effet, leur implication s'est affirmée par une participation active à sept colloques tenus à l'échelle provinciale, en plus d'avoir répondu massivement à un questionnaire. Cette consultation s'est terminée par un Sommet de la francophonie ontarienne. Par ailleurs, quelque 165 mémoires ont été soumis à ce comité lors de sa tournée provinciale en février dernier. Mentionnons qu'un groupe de travail oeuvre présentement à la rédaction du rapport de cette réflexion, qui sera disponible dès cet automne.

La communauté franco-ontarienne lance un message clair : le Canada doit être profondément redéfini, et cette redéfinition doit faire en sorte que les différentes composantes du Canada puissent s'épanouir pleinement. De plus, les Franco-Ontariennes et les Franco-Ontariens tiennent à s'inscrire dans cette redéfinition et à cerner le rôle important que peut jouer l'Ontario pendant cette période cruciale.

Les membres de la communauté franco-ontarienne se définissent d'abord comme des Ontariennes et des Ontariens francophones. Ils ne sont ni des assimilés potentiels ni des Québécois égarés ni des Canadiens errants. L'Ontario est leur province, et là, depuis plus de 350 ans, elles et ils y sont pour rester.

La communauté franco-ontarienne a toujours considéré l'éducation comme le secteur clé de son développement. Par ailleurs, elle est d'avis que le taux élevé d'analphabétisme qui l'afflige prévaudra tant et aussi longtemps qu'elle ne détiendra pas, entre autres, la gestion pleine et entière de ses institutions d'enseignement.

La communauté est aussi d'avis qu'elle doit faire la promotion de la dualité linguistique canadienne et se doter de divers instruments afin de jouer de plain-pied son rôle dans toutes les sphères d'activité de la société. La reconnaissance officielle du français en Ontario, la création d'un réseau provincial de collèges d'arts appliqués et de technologie de langue française, la création d'une université de langue française et l'établissement par le gouvernement de l'Ontario d'un organisme indépendant chargé de veiller à l'application de la Loi de 1986 sur les services en français sont, entre autres, les leviers que la communauté juge essentiels à son épanouissement.

En général, les Franco-Ontariennes et les Franco-Ontariens souhaitent voir l'Ontario jouer un rôle de chef de file et de médiateur dans l'actuelle crise constitutionnelle. À cet égard, l'ACFO a développé une approche à deux volets : l'un est centré sur le Canada, l'autre sur la promotion de la francophonie en Ontario.

L'Association canadienne-française de l'Ontario réfléchit présentement aux modalités d'une restructuration fondamentale du système politique canadien. Le système fédéral actuel n'étant pas le reflet exact de ce en quoi consiste véritablement le Canada, l'ACFO croit qu'il doit y avoir un renouvellement du projet de société canadien.


Cinq principes fondamentaux doivent guider, dans un premier temps, les Canadiennes et les Canadiens dans le renouvellement de la constitution du pays :

1. Écarter le principe de l'uniformité au profit de la reconnaissance mutuelle qui amènera la création d'une véritable fédération canadienne.

2. Reconnaître constitutionnellement les trois communautés nationales qui ont bâti le Canada, soit les Premières nations et les communautés francophone et anglophone, et affirmer que ce rôle historique et honorable qu'elles ont joué leur confère un statut égal.

3. Reconnaître constitutionnellement le droit à l'égalité des chances des communautés nationales et le devoir des gouvernements de la promouvoir.

4. Reconnaître l'apport des générations successives de néo-Canadiennes et néo-Canadiens au développement de l'une ou l'autre des communautés susmentionnées.

5. Reconnaître et promouvoir la présence d'une représentation des communautés francophone et acadienne et des Premières nations aux négociations constitutionnelles.

Dans un deuxième temps, l'Association souhaite que l'actuelle réflexion permette de : consolider et renforcer les dispositions actuelles de la Charte canadienne des droits et libertés, particulièrement en ce qui a trait aux droits de la communauté francophone à l'éducation en français ; et amender l'article 23 de la Charte canadienne des droits et libertés, de sorte que le critère de la justification par le nombre ne s'y retrouve plus ; souhaite que les francophones puissent exercer leur droit à l'éducation en français, peu importe leur lieu d'origine ; et que le droit à la gestion complète dans le domaine scolaire soit garanti aux communautés de langue officielle.

3. Reconnaître constitutionnellement à la communauté francophone le droit à une éducation postsecondaire et à la gestion complète des institutions qui en découlent.

4. Reconnaître constitutionnellement à la communauté francophone le droit à des services dans sa langue maternelle, que ce soit à la garderie ou dans les programmes d'alphabétisation et de formation professionnelle, et le droit à la gestion complète des institutions qui en découlent.

5. Reconnaître constitutionnellement la dualité linguistique comme une caractéristique fondamentale du Canada qui doit être protégée et promue par les instances législatives et exécutives des deux principaux ordres de gouvernement et des corporations publiques qui en sont issues.

6. Faire en sorte que les politiques reliées à la dualité linguistique tiennent compte des droits, des intérêts et des besoins de la communauté autochtone.

7. Reconnaître que les communautés nationales doivent participer à des ententes tripartites et gérer les structures politiques et administratives des services propres à leur épanouissement. De telles structures doivent être assurées d'un financement équitable.

8. Reconnaître que les communautés nationales doivent pouvoir conclure des ententes avec leurs différents gouvernements lorsque celles-ci leur sont expressément destinées. Elles doivent aussi participer à la mise en oeuvre de telles ententes conjointement avec le gouvernement en cause.

9. Reconnaître que le statut égal de la communauté francophone doit nécessairement se refléter dans l'organisation des pouvoirs, tant aux paliers fédéral et provincial que municipal.

En ce qui a trait au Québec, l'ACFO croit qu'il doit exister une reconnaissance distincte de la société québécoise. Le Québec est la seule entité politique en Amérique où un gouvernement provincial est élu par une majorité de francophones qui peut ainsi s'épanouir totalement en français. Bien que l'ACFO reconnaisse le besoin pressant d'un réaménagement du système politique canadien, elle souhaite que l'intégrité du Canada soit préservée en tenant compte du caractère distinct du Québec. Par ailleurs, les communautés de langue officielle doivent être protégées et promues, devenant ainsi des opportunités de développement pour le Canada tout entier.

Le fédéralisme constitue la dimension la plus fondamentale de la constitution canadienne, et celle dont on parle ordinairement le plus. Toutefois, la réalité est que le Canada n'est pas une vraie fédération, ce qui cause des frictions au Quebec et dans l'Ouest canadien. Les reflexions de l'ACFO sont de nature à rééquilibrer le fonctionnement du système politique canadien. Il ne s'agit pas de subordonner le fédéral aux provinces, mais plutôt de permettre à ces dernières de participer au développement et au fonctionnement des politiques économiques, fiscales et monétaires du fédéral et de se protéger contre l'incursion de ce dernier dans les champs de compétence exclusives aux provinces.

Cependant, ces changements sont subordonnés aux éléments suivants de la constitution : la primauté de la Charte canadienne des droits et libertés ; le rôle du gouvernement fédéral de faire la promotion de la dualité linguistique ; et son pouvoir général d'intervenir dans le fonctionnement de l'économie canadienne afin de garantir à toutes les Canadiennes et à tous les Canadiens un minimum de bien-être économique et social.

Trois grands changements pourraient être opérés en matière économique :

1. La création d'un organisme, dont les modalités restent à déterminer, pour regrouper les deux paliers de gouvernement afin d'établir un processus de consultation concernant l'élaboration, la rédaction et, dans une certaine mesure, la mise en oeuvre des politiques économiques du gouvernement fédéral .

2. Une réorganisation de la Banque du Canada afin de favoriser une participation plus active des régions dans la prise de décisions des politiques monétaires de la Banque du Canada .

3. Une modification de l'article 121 de la Loi constitutionnelle de 1867, afin qu'il garantisse une plus grande mobilité économique des biens, des capitaux, des services et des individus au Canada.

Pour ce qui est des atteintes au principe d'un véritable fédéralisme, nous croyons que le pouvoir déclaratoire serait défini dans la constitution autrement qu'il l'est aujourd'hui et limité à des objets précis. Deuxièmement, le pouvoir résiduaire, dorénavant, ne serait plus spécifiquement attribué au fédéral ou au provincial, mais serait l'objet d'une attribution par un comité mixte de politiciennes et de politiciens des deux ordres de gouvernement et dirigé par un juge d'une cour supérieure. Troisièmement, on suggère l'abolition pure et simple des pouvoirs de désaveu et de réserve. Nous suggérons aussi la clarification de la théorie de l'intérêt national et de la dimension nationale.

En ce qui a trait aux institutions étatiques, ces institutions doivent être redéfinies en fonction des cinq principes fondamentaux. Ces institutions sont le pouvoir judiciaire, les institutions parlementaires et le sénat.

L'Association canadienne-française de l'Ontario examine attentivement les éléments suivants :

1. La création d'un comité mixte national composé des deux ordres de gouvernement et des différents barreaux canadiens afin de sélectionner les juges des cours supérieures, de comtés, de districts et d'archives.

2. La constitutionnalisation de la composition de la Cour suprême du Canada, dont trois juges provenant du Barreau du Québec et une représentation minimum de quatre femmes.

3. La création d'une cour constitutionnelle entendant exclusivement des causes portant sur le partage des pouvoirs ou lorsqu'une décision de nature constitutionnelle risque d'avoir des répercussions majeures sur une ou plusieurs provinces.

4. L'enchâssement constitutionnel de la liberté de vote du député et des limites d'une motion de confiance.

5. L'abolition de la convention constitutionnelle portant sur le secret du budget, permettant ainsi un véritable processus de consultation prébudgétaire.

6. Le pouvoir de taxer indirectement les biens et services qui relèvent de la compétence exclusive des provinces de sorte qu'il soit accordé aux provinces.

7. La transformation du sénat en une chambre de la fédération qui s'occuperait des affaires canadiennes se rapportant aux valeurs fondamentales du pays, aux régions, et au partage des pouvoirs. La chambre de la fédération serait élue, efficace et égalitaire, suivant une division régionale. De plus, la nouvelle chambre prévoirait une composition qui ferait en sorte de garantir une représentation des trois communautés nationales au sein de chacune des régions, sans partisannerie politique nécessitant, entre autres, une double majorité des groupes linguistiques dans les domaines affectant l'usage du français et de l'anglais.


Par ailleurs, l'ACFO croit qu'il est nécessaire de bonifier la Charte canadienne des droits et libertés. Cette bonification doit permettre une plus grande protection des Canadiennes et des Canadiens et garantir plus aisément les droits et les libertés dont nous jouissons actuellement.

Enfin, pour discuter de ces changements et rédiger une nouvelle constitution canadienne, l'ACFO pense que le meilleur mécanisme pour y arriver demeure la tenue d'une assemblée constituante, en raison de sa grande flexibilité et de sa capacité d'adaptation aux besoins particuliers de ses participantes et participants.

En ce qui a trait à la promotion de la francophonie en Ontario, l'Association canadienne-francaise de l'Ontario recommande au gouvernement de l'Ontario :

1. D'octroyer des garanties à la communauté franco-ontarienne quant à sa participation aux négociations constitutionnelles amorcées et futures, tel que discuté lors de la rencontre avec le premier ministre de l'Ontario le 22 juillet dernier ;

2. de s'engager à renforcer les droits linguistiques de la communauté en adhérant aux articles 16 à 20 de la Charte canadienne des droits et libertés. À cet égard, souvenons-nous des déclarations faites par le premier ministre Rae en 1981 lorsqu'il siégeait à la Chambre des communes et à l'occasion de la campagne électorale de 1990 ;

3. de désigner l'ensemble du territoire ontarien pour l'application de la Loi de 1986 sur les services en francais ;

4. de s'engager à établir des conseils scolaires de langue française partout en province ;

5. de s'engager à fournir à la communauté francophone des services égaux dans sa langue maternelle à la garderie, au postsecondaire ainsi que dans le cadre de programmes d'alphabétisation et de formation professionnelle ;

6. de proposer et de défendre le concept d'un élargissement des droits de la personne et des minorités, particulièrement les droits des communautés de langue officielle ;

7. de promouvoir la reconnaissance de la société distincte du Québec dans un cadre fédéral renouvelé ; et

8. de promouvoir l'adoption d'un processus permanent de modification à la constitution .

Voilà, mesdames et messieurs, l'état de la réflexion de l'Association canadienne-française de l'Ontario concernant son document Un Canada à redéfinir, la francophonie ontarienne à l'heure des choix. Avant la fin du mois de septembre, vous recevrez le texte détaillé des quelques idées émises devant vous aujourd'hui. Permettez-moi, en terminant, de vous rappeler les éléments centraux, en plus des principes fondamentaux de la réflexion de la communauté franco-ontarienne :

Selon nous, des modifications majeures doivent être apportées à l'économie, aux éléments qui portent atteinte au principe d'un véritable fédéralisme et, enfin, aux institutions étatiques. Monsieur le Président, membres du comité, merci de votre oreille attentive.

Le Président suppléant : Merci, Monsieur Tanguay. On va commencer avec les questions.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I really have lost the number of the questions I have this afternoon. This is an extremely detailed brief. You have done an awful lot of thinking since you were here in the winter, I can see. I know everyone must have the number of questions I have, so I would like to confine myself to two or three things.

Maybe I will have to wait until September to get your paper, but I would like to know what your thinking is on your guaranteed presence at the constitutional table, particularly as we are talking about a provincial context. In conjunction with that, I would like to know what you mean by "permanent mechanism." Perhaps you could try to help us by confining that as much as possible to the provincial scene, as I say. Then I have one other small question, from your paper, on the aboriginals.

M. Tanguay : Premièrement, vous m'avez questionné en fonction de ce que nous voulons dire par «notre présence à la table constitutionnelle». En deuxième lieu, vous nous avez demandé -- rappelez-moi -- ce qu'on veut dire par «le processus». Pourriez-vous préciser ?

Mrs Y. O'Neill: A permanent process. I think that is at the very last part. I guess "permanent mechanism" is the actual term you have used.

M. Tanguay : Et la troisième ?

Mrs Y. O'Neill: If you want all three at the same time, I would like you just to comment on number 5, page 4. You were talking about the linguistic duality and at the same time taking into account the interests and needs of the first nations. I would like to know what your background thinking is on that point as well, if I may.

M. Tanguay : Excusez, si je prends deux petites secondes. C'est qu'à un moment donné, j'aurai peut-être à demander à une personne ou une autre qui est avec moi à la table de compléter mes pensées, etc.

Pour ce qui est de la présence de l'Ontario français à la table constitutionnelle, nous avons eu l'occasion d'en discuter très brièvement avec M. Rae lors de notre rencontre du 22. Ce que nous voulons, et ce que M. Rae nous a affirmé à ce moment-là, c'était une participation active. En d'autres mots, lorsque le premier ministre de l'Ontario aura à refléter une position ontarienne à la table fédérale, quelle que soit la composition de la table fédérale, nous considérons que, pour pouvoir parler pour l'Ontario dans son ensemble, le gouvernement de l'Ontario devra tenir compte de la voix franco-ontarienne et refléter cette voix franco-ontarienne. Nous attendons à ce moment-ci des communications avec le bureau du premier ministre afin de peut-être établir un mécanisme plus précis par lequel l'Ontario français pourrait participer de façon plus positive et plus active à toute cette dimension de la table constitutionnelle.

Pour ce qui est de votre deuxième point, en fonction du processus permanent de modification de la constitution canadienne, je crois que vous faites référence à la présentation que nous avons eu l'occasion de faire devant la commission Beaudoin-Edwards. Je demanderais peut-être à M. Gilles Levasseur ou à M. Yves LeBouthillier s'ils veulent compléter à ce moment-là.

M. Levasseur : Ce qui arrive, c'est que l'ACFO a présenté un mécanisme de modification de la constitution qui reconnaît au départ quatre veto régionaux et, comme tel, les régions sont représentées. Ce qui arrive, c'est qu'il y a toujours un processus permanent qui est engagé par les politiciens pour pouvoir revoir la constitution.

Dans le rapport présenté à la commission Beaudoin-Edwards était mentionné une démarche qui s'inscrivait dans un temps limite, un an au maximum. Les périodes étaient très définies. Ce qui arrivait, c'est qu'il y avait des mécanismes qui permettaient de toujours engendrer ce processus-là à quelques étapes possibles de l'amendement constitutionnel. Alors, il y avait des dates précises et il y avait un mécanisme d'élaboré.

Il est important de comprendre que l'ACFO croit qu'il faut y avoir un mécanisme qui soit engendré par les politiciens, mais qui peut aussi être demandé par les individus eux-mêmes à travers les politiciens. C'était ça qu'on avait en tête. Pour bien le comprendre, il faudrait avoir la Charte, la feuille, pour bien saisir ce mécanisme-là. Comme tel, il y avait un mécanisme de veto régional avec une formule permanente d'établie qui corrigeait un peu ce qui était le problème actuellement de la formule d'amendement.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: No doubt you are going to have quite a bit in writing in your September document on that.

M. Levasseur : Oui, évidemment, et c'est parce que si je l'expliquais maintenant, ça prendrait au moins dix ou quinze minutes pour l'expliquer comme il faut et on mélangerait tout le processus.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: No, we have a lot of people on the waiting list, I am sure.

M. LeBouthillier : Madame O'Neill, je crois que l'ACFO pourra vous faire parvenir une copie du document qui a été présenté à la commission Beaudoin-Edwards, avec le diagramme et tout.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I have that one. Fernand gave one to me, thank you. Now the last question, on the aboriginals.

M. Tanguay : Votre dernière question était double, à savoir ce qu'on entend par la «dualité linguistique» dans le contexte canadien vis-à-vis des autochtones .


Mrs Y. O'Neill: No, just one. I just wanted you to comment on the fifth point you made on page 4.

M. Tanguay : J'ai un texte tout à fait spécial qui est différent du vôtre.

Une des valeurs fondamentales que nous défendons, c'est la reconnaissance des trois communautés nationales, à savoir les autochtones, les francophones et les anglophones. Nous savons très bien que dans le contexte canadien actuel, nous reconnaissons la dualité linguistique, à travers la Charte canadienne des droits et libertés. Mais d'autre part, une nouvelle dimension qui est en train de se synthétiser dans la réalité canadienne, c'est la vraie reconnaissance de la communauté autochtone.

Je crois que, comme communauté franco-ontarienne, il est trop tôt, à ce moment-ci, pour dire des autochtones certaines choses en fonction de la dualité linguistique ou en fonction de leur langue. Il revient à cette communauté nationale autochtone la responsabilité de clarifier, sur le plan linguistique ou tout autre, de nous dire à nous, Canadiens, quelle sera la place ou quelle sera l'importance de cette dimension linguistique qu'ils veulent qu'on reconnaisse.

C'est pour cette raison que, dans le moment, l'ACFO présente trois communautés nationales reconnaissant la dualité linguistique actuelle de notre pays mais, en même temps, en gardant cette porte ouverte à cette nouvelle dimension autochtone qui va sûrement, dans les prochains mois et les prochaines années, se concrétiser davantage. Ce n'est pas à nous de dire aux autochtones, mais bien aux autochtones de nous le dire.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I think the aboriginals would be very happy with your statements.

M. Bisson : J'ai une liste d'environ 20 questions que j'ai écrites, mais je ne pense pas qu'on va avoir le temps de passer à travers le tout. Il y a une couple de points que vous avez faits que j'aimerais aborder. Si n'importe qui représentant l'ACFO aujourd'hui avait quelque chose à dire... À la page 7, sur les institutions étatiques, vous avez parlé de la création d'une cour constitutionnelle. Pourriez-vous expliquer un peu plus ce que ça veut dire, et est-ce que ça veut dire ce que moi je pense que ça veut dire ?

M. Levasseur : Est-ce qu'il est possible que vous nous définissiez un peu ce que vous entendez pour qu'on puisse vous répondre ?

M. Bisson : La manière de laquelle vous avez fait la proposition, c'est qu'une partie du processus serait de créer une cour constitutionnelle qui serait responsable d'étudier les questions quand ça en vient aux divisions des pouvoirs.

M. Levasseur : Oui.

M. Bisson : Pourriez-vous expliquer ça un peu plus?

M. Levasseur : Ce qui arrive, c'est que depuis l'enchâssement d'une charte des droits, les tribunaux canadiens sont engorgés. Surtout à la Cour suprême il y a un engorgement. Bon, on a prévu un mécanisme de composition de la Cour suprême : trois juges qui viennent du Barreau du Québec et un minimum de quatre femmes. On veut quand même une représentation de ces groupes-là dans les décisions constitutionnelles parce que ça touche le Québec et les autres sociétés.

Alors, dans toute matière qui porte sur la Charte des droits ou sur le partage des pouvoirs, les articles 91 et 92, ou qui aurait un impact beaucoup plus large qui toucherait à l'ensemble du droit constitutionnel, le droit étatique, la cause serait référée à la cour constitutionnelle qui, elle, serait spécialisée dans la possibilité d'étudier ces causes-là et de prendre une décision sur ces thèmes. C'est spécialiser la cour pour vraiment dire, «Nous, on est experts dans cela et on a un rôle à jouer et on va décider en fonction des principes qu'on a établis».

M. Bisson : Une des affaires qu'on a entendues fait affaire avec une couple de présentations des experts. Je vais revenir un peu à la Charte des droits parce que je pense que ça tombe un peu dans le même plat. Un des problèmes qu'on a, c'est que sous la Charte des droits, l'interprétation de la question de la Charte des droits est souvent faite par ceux qui ont la possibilité de revendiquer leurs droits devant la Cour suprême. Jusqu'à un certain point, la Charte nous ôte des droits. Ce qui revient à la question que, quoiqu'il arrive avec ce que vous êtes en train de représenter là, jusqu'à un certain point ça ôte la capacité des politiciens, eux et elles, d'être capables de définir ce dont le pays a besoin selon la manière dont on se développe en tant que pays.

J'essaie de dire que dans le passé, les 120 ans qu'on est ici, les gouvernements fédéral et provinciaux ont réagi de manière à être capables de répondre autant aux besoins de la population. Un des problèmes avec une charte des droits et un peu avec cette question-là, c'est qu'on tombe, jusqu'à un certain point, dans les mains des avocats et des cours.

M. Levasseur : Oui, d'accord. Alors, c'est vrai qu'il y a une «judiciarisation» de l'État ici parce que ce sont les tribunaux, en fin de compte, qui vont décider quels sont les droits et libertés dont on jouit et comment on peut définir ces droits-là. C'est vrai que le politicien est soumis à cette règle de la Cour suprême. Mais ce qu'il faut comprendre -- ce n'est peut-être pas dans ce document-ci, mais dans le document que l'ACFO va vous présenter au mois de septembre -- c'est qu'il y a quand même une obligation des politiciens fédéraux et provinciaux de se consulter pour la nomination des juges à la Cour suprême.

Il est vrai qu'il y a toujours quelqu'un qui va décider, en fin de compte, ce qui est constitutionnel, ce qui ne l'est pas et quels sont les droits et libertés. De la même manière, ils vont aussi choisir les membres de cette composition de la Cour suprême, et dans cette composition-là ils vont devoir tenir compte des intérêts des Canadiens. C'est vrai qu'il existe une délégation de la souveraineté du Parlement vers la souveraineté du système judiciaire. Mais c'est comme le processus américain. À un moment donné, il faut être capable de protéger les droits. La meilleure façon, aux États-Unis, c'était à travers une Charte des droits appliquée par les tribunaux, a bill of rights.

Mais vous allez me dire qu'en bout de ligne, il y a toujours l'article 33, la clause «nonobstant». L'ACFO n'a pas pris position encore sur cet article-là, mais un politicien peut toujours se rabattre là-dessus comme mécanisme. Mais il y a certains droits que l'ACFO considère auxquels on ne peut pas toucher, par exemple, tout ce qui concerne les articles 16 à 23.

Si on n'avait pas eu les articles 16 à 23 dans une charte des droits et que ce n'étaient pas les tribunaux qui les avaient défendus, le Canadien français n'aurait pas eu un début de gestion scolaire ; le Canadien anglais n'aurait pas eu cette gestion qu'il a eue au Québec. Il y a eu des problèmes comme tels et il y a eu un problème de faire reconnaître ces droits-là.

Alors, la Charte des droits, peut-être qu'elle attaque la souveraineté du Parlement, mais d'un autre côté, elle permet aux Canadiens d'avoir une plus grande liberté de jouir des droits, et surtout de se faire reconnaître des éléments qui n'ont pas existé pendant 120 ans.

Pourquoi est-ce que ça a pris 120 ans pour se faire reconnaître des droits dans le domaine criminel, dans le domaine scolaire et dans le domaine des langues officielles ? Pourquoi est-ce que les politiciens ne l'ont pas fait avant ? Il a fallu avoir un mécanisme pour avoir ces droits-là. Il y a une conséquence : nous avons perdu un peu de notre souveraineté, mais tous les Canadiens sont contents d'avoir eu cette liberté-là.

M. Bisson : Pendant les discussions que nous avons eues avec certaines personnes qui ont fait des présentations, leur vue est que jusqu'à un certain point ce n'est pas la revendication des droits personnels qui est avancée à travers la Charte des droits, mais plutôt la revendication selon les certains points.

Si on regarde certains cas qui ont été devant la Cour suprême, soit provinciale ou fédérale, faisant affaire avec beaucoup de questions comme celle du fameux Sunday shopping -- différentes questions dont le monde a parlé -- ils sont allés renvendiquer leurs droits comme entreprises selon la Charte des droits, ce qui a ôté les droits des individus. C'est la question que je me pose. Mais on va partir de là.

Vous avez aussi touché à la question du sénat, et vous avez pris la position que l'ACFO est en faveur de la création d'un sénat où on a l'élection des sénateurs selon la représentation des provinces. Vous ne voyez pas ça, jusqu'à un certain point, comme deux niveaux de gouvernement qui peuvent se nuire l'un l'autre, et que le gouvernement fédéral peut décider d'adopter telle et telle loi concernant telle et telle question et que la politique est telle dans le sénat, que ça peut bloquer un peu?

M. Levasseur : Ce qu'il faut comprendre, c'est que l'ACFO veut qu'on fasse une chambre de la fédération qui va être une chambre de conscience des Canadiens à long terme et qu'à un moment donné la chambre de la fédération va s'occuper des valeurs fondamentales du pays. Il n'y a pas de partisannerie politique, il n'y a pas d'activité politique, il n'y pas de ligne de conduite ni ligne de vote de parti.


M. Bisson : Ce n'est pas possible.

M. Levasseur : C'est une proposition qu'on a avancée. L'idée de base est que le candidat va se présenter suivant des opinions ou des idées qu'il a, mais sans être rattaché à un parti politique. Ce qui arrive c'est que le sénat représente aussi les régions. Par conséquent, le sénat s'occupe de choses qui sont vraiment à long terme pour les Canadiens ou qui touchent aux valeurs. C'est vrai que c'est une deuxième chambre, c'est vrai qu'elle peut avoir le droit de veto sur les valeurs canadiennes comme telles, mais d'un autre côté, la Chambre des communes s'occupe vraiment du fonctionnement de l'économie, des activités sociales et du budget.

Le sénat n'a pas le pouvoir de présenter un projet à caractère financier. Par conséquent, le sénat va être une chambre de délibération et d'investigation, mais aussi une chambre législative, ce qui va faire en sorte que le sénat va s'occuper des tendances qui sont vraiment des préoccupations des Canadiens, avec une composante régionale. Cela va lui permettre d'identifier certains problèmes, d'en suggérer au gouvernement, mais aussi de présenter des projets de loi pour corriger la situation.

Un exemple de cela peut être des problèmes qui touchent la pauvreté. Un autre problème peut être celui de violence conjugale. Un autre peut porter sur des questions d'éthique : la stérilisation des malades mentaux ou des choses comme ça. Il faut qu'il y ait une chambre qui puisse étudier ces problèmes-là, parce qu'à la Chambre des communes, ils sont embourbés.

À un moment donné, il faut réfléchir à cela. Le candidat au sénat va être élu pour une période de dix ans, renouvelable à tous les cinq ans. Donc, si vous avez un sénat qui commence en 1990, la moitié en est renouvelé en 1995, ce qui fait en sorte que le sénat comme tel a une vocation de conscience qui s'occupe des Canadiens et n'interfère pas dans la direction générale de l'économie et de la gestion du pays. Il a plutôt une vocation de beaucoup plus longue durée, beaucoup plus réfléchie qui aide les Canadiens à se trouver et à essayer d'enquêter sur des problèmes.

M. Bisson : La crainte que j'ai, en écoutant beaucoup de personnes qui ont fait des présentations devant notre comité et des discussions que j'ai eues avec mes amis dans mon comté et avec d'autres personnes, c'est qu'il y a l'attitude que le fédéralisme ici au Canada, et jusqu'à un certain point nos provinces, n'a pas vraiment répondu à nos besoins comme citoyens de nos provinces et de notre pays.

Ça fait 126 ans qu'on est ici, nous, les Canadiens en tant que nation. Ens 126 ans on a fait beaucoup d'affaires avec notre système politique qu'on avait. Ça ne veut pas dire qu'il est parfait ; comme n'importe quoi, on a besoin de changer de chaussures de temps en temps et de faire des ajustements. Il y a un peu le sens qu'il faut tout changer pour être capable de l'arranger.

Moi, j'ai besoin de me poser des questions et reprendre et regarder. On commence à parler de changements fondamentaux de notre système de gouvernement ici au Canada. On parle de tous les bords du pays de la question de la réforme du sénat, de la liberté des députés et de la revendication des droits plus éloignés, à travers la Charte des droits et autres places. Ce qui me fait peur c'est qu'avec le système, aussi imparfait soit-il, on était capable d'avancer le bien-être de la société jusqu'à un certain point.

La peur que j'ai, c'est qu'on flanche un changement dans le système au point où il est très difficile, comme pays, d'en venir à penser à certaines questions et à trouver des réponses, parce qu'on va être rattaché, jusqu'à un certain point, si on met tout dans la constitution, si on s'en va dans un système qu'on avait envisagé dans le futur.

M. Tanguay : Monsieur Bisson, si vous le permettez, juste une parenthèse ici. Je crois que le rôle de l'ACFO en ce moment -- Puisque le Canada est en train de se questionner sur lui-même, ça ne veut pas dire que tout le système canadien va être bouleversé. Mais d'autre part nous, en tant que Canadiens et en tant que Franco-Ontariens et Franco-Ontariennes, devons au moins nous poser la question. Peut-être que le changement que l'ensemble de notre pays apportera à la fin de nos délibérations sera moins grand que toutes les recommandations que vous pouvez entendre.

Je peux comprendre votre inquiétude des fois -- pas simplement la vôtre, Monsieur Bisson, comme membre du comité, mais aussi celle de tous les autres commissions et comités à travers le Canada. Ça rentre, ça sort, ça n'arrête pas, les recettes qu'on pourrait apporter pour régler, si on peut l'appeler ainsi, le mal canadien. Mais d'autre part, une fois qu'on aura fait notre réflexion canadienne, on réalisera peut-être, ou on choisira peut-être, que la plupart des institutions que nous avons présentement respectent bien, et il y aura peut-être moins de changements que certains d'entre nous n'anticipent. Mais d'autre part, l'ACFO et tous ses membres reconnaissent qu'il est important que la communauté y réfléchisse et apporte à sa province ses réflexions.

M. LeBouthillier : Monsieur Bisson, vous avez parlé de la Charte, et j'aimerais parler un peu plus des droits linguistiques dans la Charte juste pour voir peut-être l'importance que l'inclusion des droits linguistiques dans cette charte-là a eue.

Si on regarde l'article 23, par exemple, c'est-à-dire les droits à l'éducation des minorités linguistiques, vous savez que, par la suite, il y a eu des poursuites dans presque toutes les provinces pour faire changer un statu quo qui était déplorable. Lors de ces poursuites-là, et suite à des succès, certains élus ont invoqué la clause «nonobstant», ignorant en fait que les droits linguistiques ne pouvaient être touchés par cette clause. C'est là qu'on a vu l'importance d'avoir, dans certains domaines, des clauses telles que la clause «nonobstant».

C'est pour ça, peut-être -- pour faire le lien avec Mme O'Neill tout à l'heure, quand elle parlait de la formule d'amendement permanente -- une des choses que l'ACFO aussi a recommandées, que certains sujets restent sujets à la règle d'unanimité, entre autres les droits linguistiques et d'autres valeurs fondamentales à la société canadienne et que, seulement lorsqu'on voudra promouvoir davantage ces valeurs-là, on devra avoir une formule flexible. Alors, nous essayons d'être consistants dans notre approche.

Je crois qu'il faut faire attention avant d'être trop pessimiste envers cette Charte qui, je crois, à plusieurs égards, a permis aux Canadiens d'apprendre davantage sur leurs droits. Si certains groupes plus privilégiés ont eu accès à la cour, quand même il y a beaucoup d'autres groupes qui sont allés devant les tribunaux avec le programme de contestation judiciaire, tous les groupes à l'égalité. Par les fonds accordés par les gouvernements, entre autres le fédéral, ces groupes ont pu se présenter devant les tribunaux.

En terminant, vous savez peut-être que la Cour suprême du Canada maintenant a dit, par exemple, que l'article 15 devrait permettre aux groupes qui ont été défavorisés dans le passé de se présenter devant les tribunaux. Je crois que c'est un acquis aussi important. Alors, le constat : il y a peut-être des côtés négatifs, mais je crois aussi qu'il y a beaucoup d'aspects positifs.

M. Bisson : Ce n'est pas pour être pessimiste au total que je soulève la question, mais c'est quelque chose à laquelle on a besoin de réfléchir parce que, jusqu'à un certain point, ça nous amène vers un système plus américain que canadien. Mais je laisse la question parce que c'est un débat qu'on pourrait faire.


Mr Harnick: I have reviewed your five fundamental principles on page 3, and they cause me some concern in that they are really in direct contradiction to what many witnesses have told us. We heard last week from Roberta Jamieson, the Ombudsman, who essentially talked about the idea of the francophone and anglophone populations in this country decreasing and the fact that we can no longer look at a Constitution that refers, as you describe it, to national communities, or three national communities. That is a term she found limiting and that did not recognize the fabric of Canadian life as it really exists today.

To go one step further, your third item speaks of recognizing constitutionally the right of the national communities to equal opportunity and the responsibility of governments to promote such. Yet number 4 recognizes the contribution of successive generations of new Canadians, but does not provide them with an opportunity for equal opportunity. I find that the notion of developing a Constitution based on the concept of founding nations is no longer in vogue other than with members of the founding nations. Quite frankly, I do not think this is a concept that is going to fly if we believe in a multicultural society. I wonder if you could comment on that, and specifically on the way you see your organization if we totally avoid the concept of founding nations and look at it in terms of equality among all racial groups and languages.

M. Tanguay : Pour commencer, nous, de l'Association canadienne-française de l'Ontario, ne croyons pas que les concepts qu'on avance ici soient contradictoires avec la réalité canadienne actuelle, dans le sens que, si nous regardons autour de nous, qu'on soit en Colombie-Britannique, aux Territoires du Nord-Ouest ou en Ontario, on reconnaît qu'on est une nation formée d'individus provenant de toutes sortes de communautés. J'y inclus, comme vous le disiez tout à l'heure, la dimension multiculturelle.

D'autre part, nous remarquons que, depuis le début de ces mouvements migratoires qu'a connus le Canada dès ses débuts, pour ne pas parler des années 40, 50 et d'aujourd'hui, il y a eu définitivement une transformation dans la texture canadienne. Mais, d'autre part, nous avons remarqué que notre réalité canadienne a toujours fait en sorte que ces néo-Canadiens se sont toujours identifiés en gardant leurs richesses culturelles et se sont toujours intégrés, si vous voulez, dans la réalité linguistique francophone ou anglophone au Canada.

C'est sur ce principe de base que notre présentation est faite à ce moment-ci. Ceci n'empêche que nous reconnaissons, comme nous le mentionnions à un moment donné, qu'il serait important dans la redéfinition de notre constitution de regarder de très près l'article 27 de la Charte, qui parle du maintien et de la valorisation du patrimoine multiculturel et canadien.

Comme nous vous l'avons mentionné au début, nous sommes en période de réflexion. Nous vous apportons l'état de notre réflexion à ce moment-ci, et nous considérons que les cinq principes fondamentaux énoncés ne vont pas à l'encontre de la réalité canadienne.

M. LeBouthillier : J'aimerais ajouter que je crois bien que Mme Jamieson se référait à l'origine des gens et à la composition du Canada à l'heure actuelle. Mais je ne crois pas qu'on puisse dire qu'au Canada, maintenant, il y a une chute de la communauté linguistique anglophone et francophone. Je ne crois pas que les numéros aient beaucoup changé à cet égard-là.

Vous dites aussi «l'égalité parmi toutes les langues». Je crois que l'ACFO est tout à fait d'accord qu'il ne devrait y avoir aucune discrimination d'une personne en vertu de sa langue. Je ne connais pas beaucoup de pays à travers le monde qui donnent égalité à toutes les langues, dans le sens que toutes les langues devraient être très connues de tous les individus et qu'on devrait promouvoir toutes les langues.

Nous disons qu'il y a une réalité historique au Canada qui fait que les deux langues les plus parlées par l'ensemble de la communauté sont le français et l'anglais. Nous sommes très favorables aussi à des mécanismes pour les langues autochtones. On aimerait préserver les 50 et plus langues autochtones parce que c'est une richesse pour le Canada. Mais il y a une réalité et il y a quand même deux groupes linguistiques. Vous dites «founding nations». Nous parlons ici de communautés linguistiques.

M. Tanguay : Communautés nationales.

M. LeBouthillier : Communautés nationales. Et si les jugements les plus récents de la Cour suprême du Canada parlent encore de bilinguisme, et devraient peut-être parler plus de multiculturalisme, ce sont encore des termes qui sont évoqués et qui, il me semble, peuvent s'intégrer dans cette notion que nous développons ici. Alors nous voyons, par exemple, le multiculturalisme comme s'intégrant et comme étant une partie très importante des communautés linguistiques francophone et anglophone. C'est certain que dans le passé, on n'a pas assez poussé cette notion : comment les groupes multiculturels peuvent-ils contribuer ? Il y a eu trop de division. Nous, les francophones de l'Ontario, sommes prêts ; nous sommes très enthousiastes à participer dans cette démarche. Mais on croit quand même qu'il faut reconnaître certaines communautés linguistiques puisque c'est la réalité statistique historique.

Mr Offer: I have a question about one aspect of your presentation which I was not able to readily see. On the bottom of page 5 you talk about provincial participation in the development and implementation of economic, fiscal and monetary policies of the federal government.

As you will know, at this point there is discussion principally between the federal government and the province of Quebec which talks about not an increased provincial participation in federal decisions, but rather about a devolution of power from the federal to the provincial area. That is an area of discussion which is going on throughout the country. I am wondering if you might share with us whether you are in principle in favour of a devolution of power from the federal government to the provincial governments.

M. Tanguay : Je vais commencer, et mes confrères ou ma consoeur compléteront. Si je peux partir de l'idée qui est énoncée dans notre présentation, c'est qu'il y a certaines valeurs fondamentales au Canada qui devraient demeurer, à tout prix, des responsabilités fédérales.

Mais d'autre part, dans notre réflexion, comme tous les membres du comité ici et comme tous les Canadiens, nous avons été quand même touchés par différents rapports de commissions, pour ne pas mentionner le rapport Allaire, qui demandent quand même une certaine dévolution. Je ne suis pas là pour porter jugement sur le nombre de demandes de dévolution de pouvoir central qui existent dans le rapport Allaire mais, d'autre part, on entend la même chose, les mêmes commentaires, peut-être d'une façon différente, de l'Ouest canadien.

Nous, à l'Association canadienne-française de l'Ontario, nous considérons comme des Ontariens à part entière et nous avons réfléchi sur la question suivante : comment, tout en gardant l'intégrité d'un gouvernement central fort, peut-on suggérer à notre province des possibilités d'un dialogue sérieux, d'un accroissement de responsabilités, qu'elles soient d'ordre fiscal, monétaire ou économique ? Ici, j'ai tout simplement tenté de vous faire valoir l'origine de notre réflexion.

À ce moment-ci, je demanderais peut-être à un de mes confrères d'ajouter pour clarifier.

M. Levasseur : L'ACFO a essayé de marquer ici à la page 5 le fait que le fédéral possède les pouvoirs économiques définis dans l'article 91, et ces pouvoirs-là sont énormes. On regarde, par exemple, dans le domaine des cours monétaires, le monnayage, le poids et mesure. Vous avez le recensement, les statistiques et la taxation directe et indirecte.

L'ACFO essaie de dire que, à un moment donné, le fédéral doit jouer son rôle d'agent économique mais que, dans ce rôle, il doit y avoir un mécanisme de consultations avec les provinces où les provinces vont pouvoir participer à la négociation et à l'élaboration des politiques économiques, fiscales et monétaires du fédéral.

Le fédéral garde sa juridiction, mais il doit consulter les provinces comme les provinces doivent consulter le fédéral. Alors, ce n'est pas comme si un gouvernement décide d'aller de son côté en matière économique et de faire quelque chose sans tenir compte des intérêts des régions. Et pourquoi? C'est parce qu'à un moment donné, il faut essayer d'harmoniser un peu les politiques économiques et budgétaires au Canada.

Vous parlez de dévolution. Quand vous dites «dévolution» et qu'il y a des gouvernements qui seraient intéressés à transférer un pouvoir fédéral aux provinces, c'est possible dans certains cas. Mais dans bien d'autres cas il faut qu'il y ait une modification constitutionnelle qui prévoit cette délégation administrative. Quand ce pouvoir est donné à Ottawa, il ne peut pas être administré dans sa pleine totalité à une province parce que le fédéral ne peut pas déléguer un pouvoir constitutionnel à une province. Il faut qu'on prévoie cette décentralisation. Une dévolution, c'est juste donner le pouvoir à quelqu'un, et on le reprend quand on veut. Dans la constitution, il est très difficile actuellement de faire ce mécanisme-là. Il faut absolument arriver à dire qu'on va donner le pouvoir aux provinces et que ce sont les provinces qui vont l'exercer. Il peut y avoir un élément de permanence, donc, qui peut impliquer que le fédéral perd ce pouvoir-là.

L'ACFO vous dit que nous, on n'est pas prêts à discuter de 91 et de 92 et de ce transfert d'Ottawa vers les provinces. Ce que l'ACFO dit, c'est qu'il doit y avoir un mécanisme de consultation de l'usage de ces pouvoirs-là pour tenir compte des intérêts des provinces. Avec les présentations des propositions du fédéral et des autres intervenants, l'ACFO va pouvoir prendre une position plus claire. Mais cette consulation-là se fait tant au niveau économique qu'avec la Banque du Canada pour tenir compte des régions.


M. Tanguay : Peut-être pour compléter, Monsieur LeBouthillier.

M. LeBouthillier : Juste une petite précision, Monsieur Offer : s'il y a un nouveau partage des pouvoirs, une modification constitutionnelle, s'il y a des propositions dans cette direction-là, il faut bien voir que tous les groupes francophones à l'extérieur du Québec, au Canada, vont regarder ça de très près. Par exemple, si vous allez transférer l'immigration, disons à la province de l'Ontario, actuellement, avec le fédéral, avec l'article 20 de la Charte, il y a des garanties constitutionnelles de services dans sa langue.

Alors on peut se demander, si jamais il y a des transferts, quelles sont les garanties des Franco-Ontariens aussi longtemps que l'Ontario n'accepte pas d'adhérer à l'article 20 tel qu'il existe présentement ou dans une forme modifiée . C'est une question qu'il faut se poser sérieusement. Comme mon collègue l'indiquait, l'ACFO ne s'est pas prononcée sur le bien-fondé d'un nouveau partage des pouvoirs, pouvoir par pouvoir. Mais je peux vous assurer que cette dimension linguistique est très près de nous. C'est pour ça que ça fait un peu peur, tout nouveau partage des pouvoirs sans que, du même coup, les gouvernements provinciaux qui reçoivent ces pouvoirs-là n'adhèrent pas, par exemple, aux droits linguistiques inclus dans la Charte.

Mr Offer: It appears that you are almost reserving your final response to see exactly what comes out and what types of guarantees you will see and be confident with. Where I seem to be at this point is that the province of Quebec is saying it requires greater provincial powers in order to maintain and enhance its aspirations and what it can become.

I am hearing from your association that you are more confident in those types of powers remaining with the federal government, so this will enhance the purposes which your association is involved in and for which it has been fighting for so many years. I am wondering what you say to this committee that is left at the end of the day with all of these submissions.

M. Tanguay : Peut-être que je pourrais commencer en vous rappelant que ce n'est pas la première présentation que l'on fait. On est passé à la commission Bélanger-Campeau ; nous sommes allés rencontrer les gens du comité Beaudoin-Edwards ; nous sommes venus ici deux fois, etc. Nous n'avons qu'un message en fonction du Canada redéfini. C'est un gouvernement central fort mais qui respecte quand même les différences qui peuvent exister, que ce soit dans l'Ouest canadien, ou les besoins de Terre-Neuve ou la nouvelle dimension que prendra, par exemple, les Territoires du Nord-Ouest ou le Yukon. C'est dans cette perspective.

Mais à un moment donné, quand les intervenants et intervenantes seront à la table de négociations, il y aura sûrement des échanges de faits. Maintenant, que ce soit une grande dévolution ou une dévolution moindre des pouvoirs, dépendant de ce qui se passera à ce moment-là ou de la clarté des propositions, je crois que ce n'est pas à nous, comme association, de déterminer chacun des pouvoirs qui pourraient être discutés.

Mais d'autre part, nous avons tenté de lancer le débat par rapport à la communauté franco-ontarienne et d'impliquer la communauté franco-ontarienne comme Ontariens à part entière. On n'a pas tout simplement à parler de la langue, de la langue et de la langue. Les Franco-Ontariens et les Franco-Ontariennes, dans tous les domaines d'activités, peuvent agir et agissent de façon très positive.

M. Levasseur : Il y a quatre choses qu'on voulait juste reprendre avec vous en rapport avec votre question. Un, l'ACFO n'a pas pris de position précise encore sur les articles 91 et 92, mais ça n'empêche pas l'ACFO de prendre position du moment où elles vont être connues, les recommandations, comme vous l'avez présenté vous-même.

Deux, dans toute forme de décentralisation -- d'accord, vous utilisez «dévolution» ; j'utilise le mot «décentralisation» parce que c'est le pouvoir qui est délégué, qui est transmis constitutionnellement -- l'ACFO veut avoir une garantie que, si ce pouvoir-là est délégué à une province, par exemple la province de l'Ontario, il y ait une garantie juridique qui soit reconnue en Ontario pour que le Canadien français qui vit en Ontario ait des services en français. On l'a au fédéral ; on veut l'avoir aussi au niveau provincial. C'est important pour nous parce qu'on a peur qu'à un moment donné, ce pouvoir soit transféré sans qu'on puisse avoir une protection.

Trois, comme il a été mentionné, et c'était le premier élément de notre présentation lorsqu'on parlait des objectifs, on n'est pas pour une uniformité mais plutôt pour une acceptation des particularités des régions. Au moment venu, les politiciens vont décider ce qui est dans l'intérêt des régions. Par conséquent, l'ACFO n'est pas pour arriver et dire ce qui est bon pour les Maritimes et ce qui est bon pour l'Ouest, mais elle peut dire ce qui est bon pour l'Ontario et pour les Canadiens français qui vivent en Ontario, les Ontarois ou les Franco-Ontariens.

La dernière chose est que dans tout processus de négociation, lorsqu'il y a une définition qui porte sur un pouvoir ou cette transmission a un autre ordre de gouvernement, il y a toujours un compromis qui se fait. Ce compromis se fait toujours à la dernière minute et cette négociation se fait entre intéressés. C'est pour ça que, pour le cas de l'Ontario, l'ACFO veut un siège à la table de négociations pour la province de l'Ontario. On veut être assis à côté du gars qui est autochtone et à côté des gars qui sont multiculturels de sorte que, quand ça va arriver à la dernière minute, cette négociation et ce compromis, nous, on va être capables de vous dire, «On n'est pas d'accord». On ne veut pas être en arrière, derrière les rideaux et qu'on nous présente le document et qu'on nous dise, «Donnez-nous un feedback». On veut être assis là à côté du gars et être capable de dire, «Nous, on vote non ou on vote oui». C'est pour ça qu'on n'est pas prêt à toujours faire un shopping list pour répondre au rapport Allaire.

Mme Carter : Oui, on a déjà discuté du partage des pouvoirs entre les provinces et le gouvernement fédéral, mais je voudrais une explication du numéro 2 à la page 7, où on parle de multiplier les niveaux de gouvernements, si vous voulez, en créant un comité. Pourquoi est-ce qu'on parle de donner ce pouvoir politique à un juge ? On dit que ce comité serait dirigé par un juge.


M. Levasseur : Le pouvoir résiduaire appartient actuellement au fédéral sauf l'article 92(16), qui permet un pouvoir résiduaire dans les affaires locales. Le problème c'est que l'État canadien est un des seuls États où tous les pouvoirs qui ne sont spécifiquement donnés aux provinces arrivent au fédéral. Aux États-Unis ça va aux États. L'affaire est qu'on ne peut pas réécrire l'histoire. Mais on peut construire sur l'avenir. Un exemple de ça, c'est l'énergie solaire. Par exemple, dans 92A il n'y a pas une mention que les provinces peuvent taxer indirectement l'énergie solaire. Ce n'est pas une énergie non renouvelable ; elle est renouvelable. Par conséquent, ce pouvoir-là tomberait dans les mains du fédéral. Pour essayer d'équilibrer les situations on s'est dit, pourquoi ne pas essayer de laisser aux politiciens le mandat de discuter et de se partager ce pouvoir-là ?

Pourquoi un juge d'une cour supérieure ? C'est parce qu'à un moment donné il faut y avoir un arbitre, une personne qui établit des règles qui soit impartiale et qui puisse dire, «Voilà». À un moment donné il faut avoir un ordre, une séance, une discussion et des règles. Ça ne veut pas dire que le juge prenne position et qu'il vote ; c'est juste une façon d'avoir un mécanisme qui puisse refléter cette impartialité et arriver à un résultat précis. Le problème est que si on se met à négocier et à négocier, en bout de ligne le pouvoir va retomber au fédéral. L'article 92 ne s'applique pas, donc ça tombe sous l'article 91 et c'est Ottawa qui gagne tout le temps.

En ayant un juge on force la discussion, on force le partage et on laisse aux politiciens le choix de gérer. Mais s'il n'y a pas d'entente, il faut que quelqu'un prenne une décision. Ça va faire l'enjeu, encore une fois, d'une Cour suprême, ce qui revient au propos de M. Bisson qu'on judiciarise encore la constitution. Mais il faut qu'il y ait un arbitre et l'arbitre, selon nous, c'est la Cour suprême.

M. LeBouthillier : On s'était dit que si on prenait une règle trop rigide -- certains groupes disent que le pouvoir résiduaire devrait maintenant être donné aux provinces ou rester au fédéral -- on a essayé de trouver un milieu à tout ça. C'est tout simplement pour souligner que le Groupe des 22 recommande aussi, «Nous proposons d'abolir» la disposition actuelle du pouvoir résiduaire «et de laisser au processus politique et aux tribunaux le soin d'effectuer le partage en fonction des rôles attribués aux deux ordres de gouvernement».

Il y a d'autres groupes aussi qui ont préconisé, disons, le même genre de mesures que nous. Tout ce qu'on a fait c'est spécifier que c'était un juge d'une cour supérieure. Évidemment, il pourrait s'agir d'une cour d'appel ou de la Cour suprême.

Mme Carter : Les numéros 3 et 4 ne sont pas très clairs non plus.

M. Levasseur : Lorsqu'on parle de ce chapitre-là, on vous dit ici «les atteintes aux principes d'un véritable fédéralisme». Notre présentation vous dit qu'il faut redéfinir la fédération canadienne. On veut avoir une vraie fédération. Elle existe peut-être dans son fonctionnement au jour le jour, mais dans l'écrit constitutionnel, dans le document de 1867, on n'avait pas une fédération. Il y a des principes qui permettent au fédéral d'empêcher la province d'exercer sa juridiction.

Quand on dit «fédération», on veut dire un ordre souverain divisé entre deux composantes distinctes partageant exclusivement leurs champs de compétence dans une formule harmonisée. Donc, vous avez la province et le fédéral. Quand on a créé la constitution de 1867, Ottawa pouvait empiéter sur les provinces. Il avait le pouvoir de dépenser, le pouvoir résiduaire, les pouvoirs de désaveu et de réserve. Dans la constitution le fédéral peut désavouer une loi. On appelle ça «disallowance». Il peut déclarer nul une loi provinciale, ou le lieutenant-gouverneur peut demander au souverain ou à son représentant de réserver une loi pour un temps que lui décide au bon plaisir de sa pensée. Par conséquent, la province ne jouit pas de son exclusivité. C'est toujours Ottawa qui vient.

Alors nous, on se dit que ça fait longtemps que ça n'a pas été utilisé. Pourquoi ne pas juste l'abolir plutôt que se casser la tête à le définir ? Ça n'a pas été utilisé. C'est un empiètement sur les provinces ; abolissons-le.

Quant au numéro 4, il s'agit des définitions jurisprudentielles. Elles ne sont pas écrites dans la constitution. La dimension nationale et la théorie de l'intérêt national, ce sont des théories qui ont été développées par les tribunaux, dont l'arrêt Hodge, par exemple, en 1896, l'arrêt Russell et tout ça, ce qui fait en sorte que le fédéral peut arriver et déclarer que ceci est de la compétence du fédéral et enlever un pouvoir qui appartenait aux provinces et le transférer à suivre à Ottawa. Alors, ces pouvoirs-là sont utilisés à différents degrés mais on ne sait pas comment ils sont utilisés parce que ce sont les tribunaux qui les ont créés.

L'ACFO dit qu'à un moment donné, pour vraiment faire une fédération, pour vraiment respecter cette exclusivité des provinces, on doit essayer de définir ce principe pour qu'il n'y ait pas un empiètement. On n'empêche pas le fédéral de tenir compte d'une priorité nationale, mais on veut que ce soit défini pour qu'on puisse savoir qu'à un moment donné, s'il y a une crise et que ce n'est pas le pouvoir d'urgence qui s'applique, si on applique ces théories-là on sait ce que ça veut dire. On ne veut pas que les provinces se sentent démunies face à un pouvoir qui permet à Ottawa de tout faire sans que les provinces puissent réagir.

M. Tanguay : M. LeBouthillier aimerait compléter.

M. LeBouthillier : J'ai sous les yeux un article de Bruce Ryder dans la Revue de droit de McGill -- c'est un professeur à Osgoode Hall -- et en ce qui a trait aux pouvoirs de désaveu et de réserve, bien que là il inclue aussi le pouvoir déclaratoire. Il dit ceci tout simplement : «The disallowance and declaratory powers have fallen into disuse and their exercise by a contemporary federal government would provoke enormous political consequences.»

Je crois que la dernière fois que ces pouvoirs-là ont été invoqués était en 1962, par un lieutenant-gouverneur, si je ne m'abuse, de la Colombie-Britannique, et l'autre en 1942. Autrement dit, je crois qu'on ferait juste confirmer un peu ce qui est déjà la pratique et ça clarifierait les choses.

M. Tanguay : Premièrement, on remercie de nouveau le comité d'avoir prêté cette oreille. Je suis sûr que le message qu'on vous transmet au nom de toute la communauté franco-ontarienne aujourd'hui a évolué depuis notre première rencontre. Nous allons continuer de faire notre travail.

Nous nous considérons toujours des Ontariens à part entière et j'espère que vous pouvez apprécier, après notre entretien d'aujourd'hui, qu'on a eu à peine le temps d'effleurer les sujets qui nous sont communs. Nous espérons, et nous allons tout faire pour que, à l'avenir, on puisse s'insérer de façon encore plus active. Au nom de mes collègues, je vous remercie.

Le président suppléant : Au nom du comité, j'aimerais vous remercier d'avoir présenté un rapport aussi complet et également de votre obligeance à répondre aux questions des députés de ce comité.



The Acting Chair: Mr George Vegh is to make a presentation now before the committee. Mr Vegh, welcome. Introduce yourself for the record. Are you representing yourself, sir, or an organization?

Mr Vegh: I am representing myself. Actually, I am a stand-in. You had asked Neil Finkelstein, an associate of mine, to make a presentation and Mr Finkelstein asked me to say some words.

The Acting Chair: As we begin, you have 30 minutes of time. We hope you leave a little bit of that time available for questions and answers.

Mr Vegh: I will. I have been asked to address the questions relating to the Charter of Rights today. I would like to focus my discussion on the issue of entrenching the social charter. I provided you with an outline of the four points that have to be considered, but before going through them I would like to tell you what these points are aimed at.

My basic proposition is that social rights and individual rights are fundamentally different, and that because of this difference they should not be implemented or enforced in the same manner. In particular, social rights should not be enforced through the litigation process or by judicial remedies. New institutions with different remedial powers are required for the effective enforcement and implementation of social rights.

Let me deal with these points in more detail. The first matter on the outline I provided to you is a need for the constitutionalization of social rights. I think the need arises out of two conflicting factors. The first is that there are limitations on the federal government's ability to continue being the agency for enforcing national standards. I think that has seen the reduction of transfer payments. There seems to be a general desire of decentralizing the federation. There is also the federal deficit, which prevents the government from funding existing programs and initiating new programs.

The other conflicting factor is a belief in national standards among many Canadians. Proposals have been put forward to deal with these few conflicting factors. In the Meech Lake proposal and in the Group of 22 report, I think there is a recommendation that social programs be implemented by the provinces but national standards be maintained. The idea of a social charter, I think, is to entrench those ideas of national standards into the Constitution so that the criteria are set in a more fundamental way than being determined by the federal government of the day.

The social rights entrenched in the Constitution: I think it is important to remember the fundamental conceptual distinction between individual rights and social rights. Individual rights are traditionally conceptualized as protecting the ability of people to carry out activities without interference from the government. For instance, when one makes a claim that the right to freedom of expression has been infringed, the claim is basically that they want to say or do something and the government is stopping them. The remedy for that is quite simple: They go to the court and ask it to stop the government from interfering with them. The judicial remedy is to strike down legislation.

The claim for a social right is entirely different. For instance, if people make a claim that their right to accessible health care or to day care for their children is being violated, they are not claiming that the government is preventing them from doing something. The proper implementation of this right requires positive action on the government and on private institutions in terms of hospitals and universities, and it requires funding from the taxpayers. Essentially, it requires more social co-ordination to implement a social right than it does an individual right.

As well as the limited remedies available to the judiciary in enforcing rights, we also have to consider how the litigation process works. The court is not capable of making findings and facts which are not on the record before it. My experience is as a constitutional litigator. I can tell you from that experience that perhaps the most important strategical consideration is bolstering the record in favour of your case and discrediting the other side's case. A lot of strategic manipulation goes on to creating a judicial record. The record you end up with is not the type of record you would require in order to make the difficult balancing that is necessary in determining a national social policy.

An issue related to the institutional constraints of the courts is their lack of expertise in the area of social policy. There is simply no reason to prefer the legal profession, whether through lawyers presenting their cases or judges deciding cases, as creators of social policy. Again, when you compare it to individual rights, the judiciary has at least had some traditional expertise and experience in preventing governments or government agencies from going outside their authority. They have had that expertise prior to the charter. They have never been called upon to restructure social policy, and I do not think there is any reason to call upon them to do so now.

From this brief look at the limitations of judicial enforcement of social rights, it seems to me at least that if social rights are to be put into the Constitution, a different institution would be necessary to enforce them. There are three basic questions with regard to this institution, and I have listed them in part 4 of the outline. These questions relate to the composition, the mandate and the powers of this new institution. I will just make a brief point on each of them.

With regard to the composition, because this institution will be dealing with a number of matters that are in both federal and provincial jurisdiction, I think there should be representation from both levels of government and perhaps from municipal governments as well, as their responsibilities for welfare may also be involved. I think it is also important that this institution be seen as non-partisan. In this regard, appointments may be made in consultation with non-governmental institutions which are interested in these issues and which will be affected by having social rights entrenched, such as community organizations, business, labour. After these appointments are made, I think the members should be free of continuing government supervision for the period of their appointment to ensure the appearance of independence.

As for the mandate of this institution, I think it should be to review legislation and administration of social policy with reference to the principles put forth in the Constitution, such as accessibility, efficiency, and the dignity accorded to the recipients of these programs. A review should consist of consultation with experts and, more important, with those who are directly affected by the programs, such as those who rely on the programs and, again, others such as business, labour and community groups who are intimately involved in the funding and implementation of these programs -- the implementation, at least -- in the workplace.

The ultimate question is, what power should be given to this institution? As I said earlier with regard to judicial enforcement, I think a solely negative power to strike down laws is entirely inconsistent with the idea of social rights. I also do not think this institution should be entitled to legislate. At the same time, an institution which is only entitled to make reports on governmental policies and practices faces the possibility of being irrelevant, and that its reports could just be ignored. I think the power given to this body should be the capacity to table bills in the Legislature. The government should be left to vote down the bill or amend it as it sees fit, but I think the act of tabling a bill focuses legislative attention and energy on the problems identified by this institution. The proposed bill would have a certain amount of credibility, and because of the institution's expertise and experience, the bill could be expected to have some appreciation for the complexities involved in delivering social policies.

There are a myriad of possibilities on how this bill could be put forward. I am not pretending to have all the answers or to suggest that this is a simple process. One possibility is that this institution report from time to time on various policies and practices and make recommendations. When it comes across a particularly egregious practice, it may make its report to the Legislature or legislatures involved and effectively say that the current system is intolerable, and that if the Legislature does not make some steps to reform it within a reasonable time, the institution will do it for them.

Of course, legislatures will be reluctant to allow this institution to have such powers. One way to deal with this reluctance may be to allow legislatures to opt into this. It could be a more gradual approach as others see how it works. An important thing to remember is that the power to table legislation, though it is unique and it enters into the realm of the Legislature, is still much less intrusive than the judicial power striking down legislation. It is also more effective.

Those are the points I wanted to get across. I would be happy to answer any questions on anything I have raised, or anything else with respect to the charter or to the division of powers, I suppose.

Mr Harnick: Mr Vegh, is there any other country you are aware of that has a social charter that is enforceable by an independent body other than a court?

Mr Vegh: Not that I am aware of. From what I am aware, there are no western democratic countries that actually have an enforceable social charter. My understanding is that India has a principle stated in its Constitution, an unenforceable principle, that certain social standards will be maintained. The Canadian Constitution of course has a commitment in principle of the provinces and the federal government to equitable services across the country, to reasonable access. Of course, that has not been enforced in Canada, and it probably could not be enforced because it is stated very vaguely. I do not think the courts really see it as enforceable. Second, I think the courts would be very reluctant to, say, get into the details of the Canada Health Act and scrap the Canada Health Act if it is found to be inconsistent with that section.

Mr Harnick: I agree with you that a court is not the place that should be developing social policy; it should be done by a government. The problem that I have, and I cannot conceive of a situation -- I suppose if I thought long enough, I could think of something. There must be a time when a situation arises where you have to be able to obtain a fast remedy. The idea of a committee of some sort being set up to report, recommend, and table a bill if it has to is all well and good, but where do you go if you have to seek a fast remedy?

Mr Vegh: I do not know. I do not know if you would go to the courts either, because the courts cannot really provide fast remedies either.

Mr Harnick: Except that they can provide injunctive relief, and there can be something done temporarily until the matter is judicially determined. But even at that, I wonder if there is any fast relief that you can conceive would be necessary so that the system can be somewhat flexible.

Mr Vegh: My answer would probably be no. I think the questions involved when you talk about, say, entrenching a right to health care -- I cannot really see how you would be able to go to court or some sort of institution like that and say, "We need an answer by tomorrow or else my right to accessible health care is threatened." There are of course some social rights present in the charter. For instance, you saw the right to equality in the delivery of social programs. So you do stay within the judicial process in a way, and to the extent that there is an immediate harm that could be caused to you, you would still have the possibility of going to the court. I do not really see the social charter as dealing with things of immediate harm, but more fundamental policies.

Mr Harnick: Is this committee really something perhaps that a Senate could do? Are these duties that a Senate could conceivably look after?

Mr Vegh: The Group of 22 makes a recommendation that the Senate be, in a sense, reconstituted to be responsible for national social programs, or to oversee national social programs. I think there are problems with that. I think the Senate has its own problems and its own purposes, and I think that if Senate reform is what is being sought, it should be gone for directly. Also, the Senate is a federal legislative body, so it is restricted to the jurisdiction of the federal government. Those types of limitations are on the Senate, and I do not really think the Senate would be the body to implement social rights anyway. There is no real expertise in the Senate. I do not think the Senate is particularly qualified to do this.

Mr Bisson: My questioning, actually, is along the same lines as Mr Harnick's, and I think you have answered pretty well what I wanted to know. But one thing you had said at the beginning -- you either were advocating for a limitation on the right of the federal government to invoke national standards or you have seen that as a problem coming up. I was not quite clear.

Mr Vegh: Perhaps I did not express myself clearly. I think the federal government is no longer in a position to really implement and enforce national standards. I do not think that there is anything theoretically the matter with it if it were to do that. It does not seem to be capable, or perhaps willing, to really play a role in national social standards any longer.

Mr Bisson: What would be the role of the federal government, then, if it does not have the ability to create national standards?

Mr Vegh: I suppose it depends on how ambitious this institution is to get. I think there would still be a role for the federal government that does things other than deal with national standards of social policy.

Mr Bisson: I guess what I am leading to, and as a politician a little bit nervously, is that at least in a system by which we have elected people who are responsible for putting together policies around social programs, we answer to somebody. If I, as a politician, go ahead and do things that my constituents are not happy with, they have the right -- hopefully they will not -- to turf me out in four years. That is one of the strengths within the system.

I see what you are getting at, and on the one hand I tend to agree with you. You cannot put everything in the hands of the judiciary because you get into the problems of not everybody having equal access. The other problem you get is limits on what you can do as a government, I think 10 or 15 years down the road, with the interpretation of the charter as it goes on. On the other hand, by having that committee, we are again taking it out of the realm of public domain to a certain extent.

It is the first time that I have heard it. It is an interesting proposal.

Mr Vegh: It is not entirely taken out of the realm of the public domain. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the legislatures whether they want to pass this bill, and it can of course be amended. The regular legislative process is not really disrupted except that a bill is tabled. So the Legislature does remain responsible. Perhaps it sets priorities a bit.

Mr Bisson: Have you bounced this off any of your colleagues? It is an interesting proposal.

Mr Vegh: It sort of came as a collaborative result of the frustration of not wanting to put together an idea where you have judicial enforcement, or even a judicial type of enforcement, because of the problem, as you said, of legislative responsibility. You do not want a body to have ultimate responsibility. At the same time, you do not want it to be a glorified law reform commission. I guess it is sort of a halfway house between two problems.

Mr Curling: Whenever I hear discussions about putting social policies, social rights into the Constitution -- and I try to listen very carefully beyond the symbolism that is there. You put it there because of the symbolism. Many people are being deprived of their basic rights -- -

[Failure of sound system]

The Acting Chair: Mr Curling, could you hold on? We are having technical difficulties.

Mr Curling: Now that we are alive and kicking and the line is going -- I am sure that you heard me. I was just saying that we are looking beyond the symbolism of putting social policies in the Constitution. Many people have been waiting for hundreds of years just to be treated equally, not to be discriminated against, just to get their basic rights to education and affordable housing. People feel that if you put it into the Constitution, it should be done.

What I am hearing you say is that this body itself could maybe effect this process and bring justice to bear. Considering the fact that there are institutions available right now that are supposed to do so, with a great backlog -- you can even go as high as the courts, which are so badly backlogged, and human rights and workers' compensation itself. Do you not see that creating another institution and directing all of those rights to be dealt with under its jurisdiction, the backlog that will be created? It seems to me so far that the easiest process to deal with that, as Mr Bisson said -- and you can respond to this -- is that every four years, if the individual party does not deliver on the promises, then you make those changes accordingly. Are you saying this would be a much more efficient process of dealing with it?


Mr Vegh: Well, you have made a few points.

First, on the issue of backlog, I do not really see this as working like a human rights commission or like a court in the sense that it is complaint-driven. I do not think an individual takes his grievance to this committee. Although they will hear grievances of individuals, I think it is more process-driven, more long-term-driven. Of course, it is human and it will go at its own pace.

On the question of the effectiveness of changing governments every four years, I guess that is the ultimate question, that whenever we want anything to be put into the Constitution we should turn to our elected representatives. I think a common problem in the legislatures and in the courts is that in order to drive their priorities, there is a currency of wealth and power which is needed. It is very fine to say, "We'll boot the scoundrels out after four years and bring in a new government," but once that government is in power it has its own priorities it has to consider, it has its own constituency it has to deal with. This does, I think, help to focus legislative concern on a few issues that I do not think the democratic process and the once-every-four-year voting really addresses.

Mr Curling: You say it is complaint-driven. It will eventually come to that, actually, in the Constitution, that my rights have been denied and therefore the body I go to would have to deal with the complaint I have. Most of the people who are directed to these institutions are people who do not have the kind of money to fight in courts. Even the delay of a year or two -- take, for instance, the case of AIDS today. The delay in order to deal with their case is a matter of life and death, and some people feel they are waiting for them to die and then it will resolve itself. I am saying it will come back down to the complaint level. No matter how you look at it in the sort of academic or holistic manner, the individual is being deprived of it. Where does that individual go and address it and get it resolved?

Mr Vegh: Again, I do not really see this as something to which the individual will go. It is not a court and it is not a human rights commission. It would not really be there for that purpose. It is difficult because we speak of the term "rights" loosely and we say the individual's rights under the Constitution are infringed and the individual wants to do something about that. That is why I am stressing the difference between social rights and, really, individual rights. I do not really think this is individually driven.

The Acting Chair: We just have a few more minutes, if there are any other questions by members of the committee. Mr Bisson?

Mr Bisson: No, actually I think it was answered by Mr Curling. As you were going on, it seemed to me that what you are advocating is an interesting proposal in the sense that it allows a mechanism by which to be able to have some protection in regard to those things that we find near and dear to us within this nation.

I am just wondering, does it somehow put us in a position where the legislative assemblies or the House of Commons would say, "I don't have any responsibility any more in that particular area." That is the bailiwick of this committee or whatever we would call it. Therefore, I become administrative as a government and they become almost our social conscience. Maybe that is where I am unclear a little bit. Exactly how far does that committee go?

Mr Vegh: I suppose it is a question of how far the governments want to go. The possibility of saying, "This is really a matter for this committee and not for the government," I suppose, is present when anything is in the Constitution. You see that same problem with the division of powers, where they could say this is a matter of provincial concern or federal concern. It could be shirked off that way. Or when an issue of individual rights is before the courts, you could say, "Oh, this is a judicial matter and not to be dealt with by the Legislature." I suppose that is a problem no matter how you put an idea of social rights into the Constitution.

I think the focus of this institution on the Legislature in terms of reviewing legislative power and issuing reports -- it will not always end up, of course, with the recommendation that certain legislation be tabled, but issuing reports criticizing what the Legislature is doing has the advantage of a purely reporting body in shaming the Legislature, to use a term, to bring attention to particular problems. So it does force the Legislature to act.

The Acting Chair: Mr Vegh, I want to thank you very much on behalf of the committee for the comments that you have made. Do you have any last words?

Mr Vegh: I have nothing to add. Thank you.

The Acting Chair: Thank you very much. I would like to remind the committee members that we are going to have a subcommittee meeting tomorrow. We will be meeting at 12 noon for lunch in this room, I believe, for the subcommittee. I just want to say that the committee will adjourn now to reconvene at 10 o'clock tomorrow.

Mr Curling: Just one thing before you adjourn. I want to make a proposal. I just wondered if we could get the Premier to come in and talk to us on the self-government document that he signed with the first nations people. I think it will be quite relevant to us to understand it a bit more. I wondered if I could put a request in to have the Premier some day, because this is the committee that is looking into all of this, and in the meantime things are being done there. I would like to know if I could put that request in.

The Acting Chair: Would it be appropriate for the subcommittee to talk about that and have that on the top of the agenda tomorrow?

Mr Curling: Whatever process it takes.

The Acting Chair: Yes? How is that with you, Charles?

Mr Harnick: Sure.

Mr Bisson: Just as a reminder to the committee, and it might be something the subcommittee would want to entertain, the mandate and terms of the committee are to basically seek the views of the people of the province in order to bring information to the Premier and to those people who will be responsible for putting forward whatever the position of the province is. Maybe the suggestion would be that we do it in the subcommittee, but just remember our terms of reference as being basically seeking opinion on the part of the people and allowing it to them.

Mr Curling: I am recognizing that. All I was trying to say was that I know the Premier is working pretty hard in this area, and while we bring people of the first nations in here, it would give us a better understanding of where he is going in the meantime, so that we could even listen more attentively.

Mr Harnick: From the point of view of enlightening us, it would certainly help us in terms of the dialogue we are having and we propose having in the future with some of the native leaders we are going to be speaking with.

The other aspect to this is that the Premier had indicated that he would be providing us with a great many of the materials that are being worked on by the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs, in terms of some of the studies it has engaged in, some of the economic impact studies, perhaps, of Quebec separation and other areas that it is working on. To date, although I made a motion several months ago, we have not seen any of that documentation produced. I think it would be helpful to obtain that information, certainly in light of the study we have been doing and the witnesses we have heard last week and this week.

The Acting Chair: Taking your point, I think we should raise this at the subcommittee meeting and look into it. I think it is a perfectly legitimate cause to look at. Why do we not do that tomorrow at noon, if that is all right as far as that issue is concerned?

Do you have another issue, Mrs Marland?

Mrs Marland: Yes. I will wait till you finish with that issue.

Mr Bisson: It seems to me that one of the things that happened is that the request was made through the motion, I guess, about a month or two ago. The ministry came back and basically told us that there were no numbers and specifics in regard to the question that was asked.

Mr Harnick: I made a series of motions. They indicated they would provide us with whatever they could, recognizing of course that there was some information they had that was not complete, some that was sensitive, that they did not wish to make public, but that the studies they were doing, and they indicated they were doing many, for the most part would be made available to us. I believe that is something the Premier indicated in some of his remarks would happen. It would be helpful, certainly in light of the information we obtained even today from some of the experts, because I would like to see what work the ministry is doing in the same areas.

The Acting Chair: We will raise those two issues tomorrow at the subcommittee meeting. Now, other issues. Mrs Marland.

Mrs Marland: Mr Chairman, actually, unless you have the answers, I have two questions to the clerk. One is, is the agenda for tomorrow, as far as you know, the same as the one that we had circulated at the beginning of the week? The one that I have says 10 o'clock, coalition of multicultural groups for one hour and then 11 o'clock, Doug Purvis, and 11:30, Guy Laforêt. In the afternoon there are only two presenters?

The Acting Chair: That is right.

Mrs Marland: The Canadian Council on Social Development and the Alliance for the Preservation of English in Canada at 2:30?

The Acting Chair: My understanding is that is tomorrow's agenda.

Mrs Marland: That is still the same?

The Acting Chair: Yes.

Mrs Marland: The other question I had was, did the clerk have sub slips today for Margaret Harrington and Shirley Coppen?

The Acting Chair: Yes. Those came in before the meeting began.

Mrs Marland: This morning?

The Acting Chair: Yes.

Mrs Marland: All right. Thank you. The reason I am asking that was that obviously when there is a significant vote and we are voting, we have to be members of the committee.

The Acting Chair: Yes, I understand that.

The committee adjourned at 1602.