Wednesday 14 August 1991

Coalition of Multicultural Groups

Doug Purvis

Guy Laforêt

Canadian Council on Social Development

Alliance for the Preservation of English in Canada



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

Marland, Margaret (Mississauga South PC) for Mr Eves

Clerk: Brown, Harold


Drummond, Alison, Research Officer, Legislative Research Service

Kaye, Philip, Research Officer, Legislative Research Service

The committee met at 1018 in room 151.

The Acting Chair: I would ask the committee to come to order. First, I would like to say good morning to all the people in Ontario who are tuning in to the parliamentary channel to see the deputation by the Coalition of Multicultural Groups. Second, I would just like to say hello and welcome to each of you who have come before us today to make this deputation.


The Acting Chair: I am wondering if you now would introduce yourselves for the record.

Dr Castrilli: Annamarie Castrilli, National Congress of Italian Canadians.

Mr Dotsikas: Peter Dotsikas, Hellenic Canadian Congress.

Mr Bernard: My name is Max Bernard. I am from the Canadian Jewish Congress.

Mr Folco: Alfredo Folco. I am from the National Congress of Italian Canadians.

The Acting Chair: Welcome to all of you here. As you know, you have an hour to make your presentation and also, I hope, to provide us some time for questions and answers.

Mr Bernard: I would like to introduce some of the other members of our delegation who are not sitting with us at the head table. Mr George Manios is president of the Hellenic Canadian Congress. Manlio d'Ambrosio is president of the Ontario region of the National Congress of Italian Canadians. Mr Jack Jedwab is the director of community relations for the Canadian Jewish Congress, Quebec Region.

The Hellenic Congress of Quebec is one of the three regional organizations which comprise the Hellenic Canadian Congress. Its mandate is to unify the different disparate Greek associations and communities concentrated in Quebec, while providing a voice for the Greek minority in the political life and social spectrum of the province of Quebec.

The National Congress of Italian Canadians, Quebec Region, has been and remains the main interlocutor with government officials dealing with the major preoccupations pertaining to the Italian community of Quebec.

The Canadian Jewish Congress, Quebec Region, is the official spokesbody for the Quebec Jewish community on all issues of public policy. Its primary objective is to protect the interests of the community and to this end it maintains ongoing contact at senior levels with government officials and representatives of the media and cultural communities. The Canadian Jewish Congress has historically been and remains at the forefront of efforts to protect and defend human rights.

These three regional congresses, the Hellenic Congress of Quebec, the National Congress of Italian Canadians, Quebec Region, and the Canadian Jewish Congress, Quebec Region, together represent over 400,000 persons in Quebec. Nationally those three organizations represent almost two million Canadians. As cultural communities that have made important contributions in Quebec and in Canada, we feel that we have a vital role to play in the constitutional debate, both within Quebec and in the rest of Canada.

Alors, en décembre 1990, le Congrès hellénique du Québec, le Congrès national des Italio-Canadiens, région du Québec, et le Congrès juif canadien, région du Québec, soumettaient des mémoires devant la commission Bélanger-Campeau, laquelle avait pour mandat de se pencher sur l'avenir constitutionnel du Québec. En renvoyant nos présentations respectives devant la commission Bélanger-Campeau, nous avons identifié certaines positions communes à nos trois communautés. Une série de réunions furent convoquées par les Congrès hellénique, italien et juif durant lesquels furent élaborées nos préoccupations communes.

Nous croyions qu'il était nécessaire d'apporter au débat constitutionnel une gamme plus complète de visions et d'opinions telles que représentées par nos communautés respectives. Nous nous sommes mis d'accord sur le fait qu'il était essentiel de dépolariser le débat, lequel gravitait généralement autour de concepts anglais-français.

Afin de gérer ce processus et de coordonner nos positions, alors que le débat évoluera au fil des mois, nous avons récemment créé un comité national de coordination qui prend l'initiative pour consulter et animer nos communautés et élaborer une position constitutionnelle détaillée. C'est ce groupe qui est devant vous aujourd'hui.

Our organizations and the constituencies they represent strongly endorse the following six major principles.

The Acting Chair: Before you get into the six principles, we did not, unfortunately, expect to have some French. Usually we have translation devices here for members of the committee, but we do not. Here they come. Perhaps we could just take one moment to put the devices into the hands of the members of the committee, then we will be prepared to respond to everything you are saying, instead of just parts.

Mr Bernard: I can do it in English. There is no problem with that, if that would be simpler.

The Acting Chair: The policy of the committee is to ensure that if you wish to use French, then we need to respond to that very strongly. Why do we not just take one minute and have the devices, or if you want to continue in English for a moment, we will get the devices out to the members of the committee, if that is acceptable to you.

Mr Bernard: Since the devices were not available to you while I was making that last presentation in French, I might just repeat that section in English, if that is acceptable.

The Acting Chair: Thank you.

Mr Bernard: What I said basically was that in December 1990 the Hellenic Congress of Quebec, the Quebec region of the National Congress of Italian Canadians, and the Canadian Jewish Congress, Quebec Region, each presented briefs before the Bélanger-Campeau commission, which was mandated to inquire into the political and constitutional future of Quebec. Upon reviewing our respective Bélanger-Campeau submissions we identified significant common ground among our three communities.

A series of meetings were then convened with the leadership of the Hellenic, Italian and Jewish communities during which we elaborated on our common concerns. Most importantly, we felt it was extremely necessary to bring to the constitutional debate a more complete cross-section of vision and opinion, as represented by our respective communities. We agreed it was essential to depolarize the debate which was essentially perceived exclusively in English-French terms. That is what I said earlier in French.

Perhaps before I get into the six points we agreed on, I should also repeat that the positions that had evolved and been identified by the Quebec delegations of our national congresses, being the common ground within the Bélanger-Campeau submissions we had made, have given rise now to the creation of a national steering committee which comprises the three national organizations that are here before you today.

That group is taking the initiative to go out into the country and travel all over. We are going to visit every single city of significance in Canada. I should take that word back; every major city in Canada; I apologize. We intend to consult and animate the discussion there within our respective cultural communities to find out from them what their views are on the constitutional future of Canada, and also to carry to them the message that we can bring to them from the various regions we represent; myself, for example, being from Quebec. Hopefully, at the end of that consultative process, we will have a much more detailed position on the constitutional initiatives which perhaps one day we can present to you, either in an oral or in a written presentation.

For now, the organizations and the constitutencies we represent, almost two million Canadians, strongly endorse the following six major principles: first, that Quebec should and must remain a part of Canada; second, that a concerted effort needs to be made to rationalize Canada's political institutions, and that there should be a reassessment of the way in which this nation is governed; third, all three organizations have repeatedly reiterated their support for the French fact, and understand the Quebec majority population's sensitivity around the language and cultural questions; fourth, that as cultural communities, we clearly have certain policy issues that require consideration such as the protection of communal institutions and infrastructures; fifth, we share common views on a number of social and cultural questions, in particular, we agree that Canada is and must remain a pluralistic society committed to interculturalism and the promotion of human rights; sixth, any new constitutional arrangement should secure the resolution of the long standing legitimate aspirations of our native people, including the fair and expeditious settlement of land claims.

I am going to switch to French, if that is acceptable.

Alors que d'importantes décisions concernant notre avenir sont à la veille d'être prises, nous pensons que tous les Québécois doivent comprendre toutes les ramifications de ces décisions. De même, nous pensons qu'il est important que les Canadiens vivant à l'extérieur du Québec soient plus renseignés quant à l'éventail d'opinions inhérentes au débat constitutionnel.

C'est pourquoi nous entendons poursuivre une campagne de consultation et de sensibilisation à travers l'est et l'ouest du Canada dans le but d'échanger des idées et des perspectives quant à l'avenir constitutionnel de notre pays. Nous pensons que ce genre de dialogue est essentiel afin de permettre aux Canadiens de toute origine de mieux comprendre les sensibilités existant au sein du Québec. Nous espérons sincèrement que nos efforts contribueront à maintenir l'unité nationale.

This submission to the select committee on Ontario in Confederation is obviously presented within the rubric of the constitutional coalition's position and action plan as we have described them to you. Again, we hope to be able to come before you at another time with a far more elaborate and detailed position. We thank you very much for your attention and we would be happy to answer questions.


The Acting Chair: Just in terms of form, is this the end of your presentation in total?

Mr Bernard: That is the end of our formal presentation.

The Acting Chair: My heavens. I am sorry; I expected something a little bit longer in terms of response.

Mr Bernard: I would be happy to accommodate you, if you would like.

The Acting Chair: My understanding is, and tell me if I am wrong, that we have one hour for this. Before we go on to questions, is there anything the panel would like to add to the presentation that has been made?

M. Folco : Il y a peut-être un élément d'information qu'il faut souligner. C'est que nous avons été présentées comme la coalition multiculturelle. En fait, c'est la coalition de trois groupes, de trois communautés culturelles bien spécifiques, qui sont la communauté hellénique, la communauté juive et la communauté italienne. Ce sont les organismes représentatifs de ces trois communautés qui ont formé une coalition en matière de constitution. Nous ne prétendons pas représenter d'autres groupes que ces trois communautés culturelles. Je crois que c'est important de le faire noter.

Mr Malkowski: Thank you for your presentation, short and sweet, this morning. I have two specific questions I would like to ask. First, if Quebec decides to leave, what kind of impact will that have on each of your cultural groups? Second, in relation to the Constitution, do you have any ideas on how we could protect each community's rights concerning its education or language? Could you advise us on any recommendations you have.

Mr Folco: I think our position is quite clearly one where we are hoping that Canada stays a united country.

Nous espérons que des accommodations pourront être faites pour assurer que l'ensemble des constituantes soit satisfait. Cependant, nous tenons aussi à dire que la situation au Québec aujourd'hui nous semble avoir évoluée. Les membres des communautés culturelles souhaitent le maintien de liens fédéraux aussi bien en matière économique qu'en matière politique. Cependant, nous avons de plus en plus l'impression, et j'avoue que c'est une impression, que les gens aujourd'hui ne craignent plus, n'ont plus peur. Les gens nous disent, «Nous souhaitons le maintien du Canada mais nous resterons quelle que soit l'issue du débat».

I think we have gone beyond the situation where people were saying, "We're leaving tomorrow morning if things don't go the way we want them to go." We believe very strongly that a vast majority of people within our cultural communities are hoping for a united Canada, but they will not leave the morning after if there is a crisis, if it does not work out that way.

En ce qui concerne les questions éducatives, évidemment nous avons des préoccupations aussi bien au niveau du maintien des langues d'origine, et je pense que ce sont des préoccupations connues. Il y a déjà eu des présentations faites par nos communautés en Ontario au niveau de l'importance de maintenir ces langues d'origine, dans le domaine du multiculturalisme proprement dit.

Nous sommes convaincus que le concept de multiculturalisme deviendra un concept opérant et un concept efficace dans la mesure où il s'appliquera à tous les Canadiens sans distinction. Nous croyons qu'il est faux de parler de multiculturalisme s'addressant uniquement aux membres des communautés culturelles. Il faudra en arriver à définir un concept qui s'appliquera à tous où les cultures nationales et la culture d'origine de chacun pourront être valorisées, mais sans créer la situation actuelle où on parle de culture minoritaire, de culture plus faible ou de culture plus valable. Nous croyons que tout le concept de multiculturalisme devrait être revu, révisé, mais ce serait peut-être prématuré ; ce ne serait peut-être pas l'occasion d'en discuter.

Mr Bernard: If I might just add one short word, I think Mr Malkowski's second question also concerned itself specifically with the protection of minority rights within Quebec. Speaking as a Quebec person now, changing hats for a moment, I can tell you the sense is that the protection of minority rights within Quebec is something that very clearly people have to be concerned about. That has to be worked on, that has to be promoted, that has to be emphasized. But that does not mean there is a fear that should Quebec decide to declare independence or become sovereign in some fashion, the situation vis-à-vis the minorities is going to become worse. I do not believe that fear exists within Quebec.

Clearly, to the extent that cultural or linguistic issues create situations where choices have to be made such that if you are promoting a culture and a language you are on occasion, as has been done in Quebec, let's face it, with Bill 101 and Bill 178, limiting and restricting in sometimes very drastic fashions the uses of other cultural and linguistic rights, then that is a very negative aspect we have to work on. I think that within Quebec that can be worked on quite successfully as time goes on. There is not a fear that the situation is going to become drastically worse should sovereignty occur.

Dr Castrilli: I would just like to add to what has been said in response to both the questions that have been posed, which are excellent ones. The first thing I notice is that this group represents an optimism, a guarded optimism but nevertheless an optimism. We would not be together at the national level if we thought we could not help Canada stay together. That is the first thing.

We also see very strongly a theme of partnership between groups within provinces. Before you here you have a very strong Ontario-Quebec contingent which has worked together for some time. Our own presentation -- that is, the presentation of the Ontario region of the National Congress of Italian Canadians -- before you last spring emphasized the spirit of partnership and the role of leadership that Ontario can play in partnership with Quebec in order to make sure Canada stays together. Those things are of importance. Now that is going to have to require some rethinking and some reform, and that is what our six points are about.

Clearly, current institutions cannot continue in the way they are if they are to accommodate the aspirations of minorities in Quebec and elsewhere. This is not a nation that has paid a great deal of attention to minorities in the past. We may be ahead of other democratic countries, but we have some very specific problems, and we can see them all across the country, as minorities are concerned about where they fit in the scheme of things.

This is an ample opportunity for us to review who we are as Canadians. I submit that we are essentially a nation of minorities that need to be accommodated and work in unison and I think this coalition would agree that we can do that. Hopefully, we can provide some useful suggestions for that in the future.


Mr Dotsikas: I agree that this is a group that represents a certain amount of, I should say a great deal of, optimism that the unthinkable will not happen and Quebec winds up going its own way. I hope Max is right that if in fact Quebec does decide to leave, communities within Quebec will have the protection they have come to enjoy as part of a larger family of Canada.

However, within our own community, within the Greek community across Canada, we have debated this at great length. There is also the worst-case scenario, which is the one that concerns me the most. Whenever nationalist sentiments are whipped up into a frenzy, we see what impact they have had in other parts of the world. While we have not seen some of the more extreme cases happening in Quebec right now, the passage of things like Bill 178 and the use of section 33 of the Charter of Rights to override a Supreme Court decision, talk -- probably not one of the more popular views in Quebec -- of perhaps busing various minorities to areas where there is a larger French community, things like that make someone like myself from Ontario, who perhaps has not learned to live with the nationalist fact in Quebec, concerned. Will there be respect for individual and minority rights in an independent Quebec?

We all know from historical experience that when national self-determination rears its head, minorities are the first to suffer. That is a concern we have to have. Nevertheless, that is the worst-case scenario. Hopefully, through committees like this right here and coalitions like our group before you, we will never find out.

Mrs Marland: I am proud to tell you that I am a life member of the Mississauga Hellenic Association and my name is Bouboulina. I am always amused by the number of Greek people who cannot tell me who Bouboulina is, although I could take you to my office down the hall and show you a portrait of her and the Greek flag hanging there, of which I am very proud.

It is interesting to me that you are representing the Greek, Jewish and Italian people, and I am wondering whether you invited other multicultural groups to be part of your coalition. That is my first question.

Mr Bernard: I can answer that one very quickly. The answer is no. The reason for that is that our coalition came together because of those briefs that had been presented to the Bélanger-Campeau commission in Quebec, because those three particular briefs seemed to have a lot of common ground. The effort involved in putting together a coalition and starting to work out some common positions is a fairly extensive one. We have had a lot of meetings and we have developed a terrific understanding and a great rapprochement, understanding each other in terms of our thinking on the constitutional issue. We simply have not physically had the time or the energy yet to integrate other groups. They are welcome. We do have some hope that they will agree with our positions. If they do not, we think it might be preferable if they formed their own associations or made their own representations.

Mrs Marland: I think it is wonderful that your three groups are together. I also was trying to copy down, because we do not have a copy yet of your presentation, your six points. I was really encouraged by the broad concept you are looking for in your six factors, your reference to the settlement of land claims for native people, for example. We had a group earlier this week which was talking about, how can we talk about bilingualism in a country like Canada when we have 56 native languages that are not part of bilingualism? It is interesting to hear you say that we are ahead of most other democratic countries in terms of treatment of our minorities. When we talk about the Constitution of Canada, when are we ever going to talk about how to enshrine in that Constitution who a Canadian is, what a Canadian should be? Is our entire country not made up of minority groups in different numbers, if you go back to our origins, and would we not be farther ahead to decide that we are not going to perpetrate this minority group or multicultural segregation, as I see it, and talk about Canadians under a Confederation and a Constitution for their country as a Canada recognizing the history and inherent makeup of our peoples?

Mr Bernard: There is not an inherent conflict in what you say. Very clearly, if we look at the United States as simply being a flagrant example that is right on our borders and everybody can understand at least some of what goes on there, the fact of the matter is that the way the Constitution of the United States is worded is by a declaration of who Americans are, what they are all about, what they are looking for, what their vision is of the world and the way they should live in it. That does a great deal to promote the ability of Americans to identify with the concept of being an American. The symbolism attached to it and the meaningful words that are contained in there are felt by quite a number of Americans to be very important to them.

We seem to lack that in Canada. Surely in revising a Constitution and making a new Constitution, somebody could just talk about what Canadians are all about, what the morality is, what the fundamental issues are that make us Canadians that we identify and that we value, what the value is of being a Canadian. I think that could be the first part of the Constitution and probably the most important part.

Together with that is to develop a Canadian identity. The Canadian identity has a lot of social and cultural components to it, but it also has some very clear pragmatic elements to it, such as, for example, economic components. How do we want to spend our budget? What do we want to do with the money? How do we want to deal with issues like medicare and so forth? Those are issues that define us as Canadians and perhaps distinguish us from every other country in the world. Once we have dealt with some of these pragmatic issues and some of these great issues of principle and agreed on them, then I think we will have something with which we can readily identify as Canadians. That is part one.

Part two is, does that necessarily then exclude the concept of my being a Jew in Canada, or Mr Folco being an Italian or somebody else being a Sikh? I think the answer to that is absolutely not. We value our traditions. We value the particular racial, ethnic, religious or cultural groups we belong to and there is absolutely no reason why we should stop doing that simply because we also, and importantly, value being a Canadian and can identify with the concept of being a Canadian. Those are not concepts that are in opposition, and I think it is really drastically important that we start thinking in those terms and start concretely applying those terms.

Mrs Marland: Do you think we should continue our hyphenation of whatever our country of origin is, plus Canada, or do you think we should start calling ourselves Canadians?

Mr Bernard: I do not have a problem with doing both. I have no problem in certain contexts, when it is appropriate, to say I am a Canadian, and I have no problem in other contexts, where it is appropriate, to say I am Greek or I am Jewish.

Mrs Marland: No, I am talking about Anglo Canadian, Greek Canadian, Chinese Canadian, Afro Canadian. I am talking about that kind of thing.

Dr Castrilli: But with respect, we do that already. I think that is the thing to bear in mind. We say French Canadian; we also say Canadian. We say English Canadian; we also say Canadian. What you are really asking is, should other ethnic groups be allowed to use their particular ethnicity as a --

Mrs Marland: No, I am asking should any ethnic group -- Anglo; any -- is it necessary for us to have two identifiers or can we just be Canadians?


Dr Castrilli: You will not be able to abolish it. I think the reality is that all of us in Canada subscribe to an ethnic origin of one sort or another, whether we are loyalists from eastern Canada, whether we are French Canadians, habitants, whether we are Italian Canadian. We simply do it. It is a fact of life. Perhaps that is what we are as Canadians. I would argue, and indeed it has been successfully argued, that it is that multicultural aspect that makes us Canadians. You cannot eradicate it. You will not be able to eradicate it by an act of Parliament. You will not be able to eradicate it simply because there were some fringe groups that say we must all be Canadians.

What does that mean? I would bet that when you go back to the very groups that say we should not be hyphenated Canadians, they cling to certain traditions that are uniquely their own and that are also uniquely Canadian by the fact that they live in this country and practise those practices and share them with others. That is one of the fundamental riches of Canada.

I have just recently come back from Israel, which is a country that is about as multicultural as you can get at this point. They have people from Ethiopia, people from Russia, people from everywhere in the world. They are hungry for them to come and welcome them and cherish their practices, and they live together in a great deal of harmony. I think we could learn a lot from that model. I think many of us already practise that, and that is what I would like to see front and centre in the Constitution.

Mr Dotsikas: If I could just add to that, I think to a great extent it is something that is imposed upon us, more so than something we wish to have. I feel that my Greek culture is a private thing and that my last name -- unfortunately, automatically, as soon as I mention it, someone will question my commitment to Canada just by the mere mention of a last name that is not Anglo-Saxon or French. When the Orangemen parade down University Avenue, nobody questions their loyalty to Canada, yet when the Greeks parade on March 25 to celebrate the independence of Greece, their commitment to Canada is questioned.

I think we are all Canadians at this table first and our commitment is to this country more than anywhere else. I just believe that this perception that multiculturalism somehow questions our commitment to Canada is a problem created by the politicians rather than by the members of the various cultural groups. It is a culture; it is not a commitment to a foreign country.

When you see, for example, Japanese Canadians who want to have redress for the way they were treated during the Second World War having to deal with the Minister of State for Multiculturalism and Citizenship rather than the Minister of Justice, to me that is an indication that the Anglo and French fact in Canada has decided that all the ministries will deal with the Anglo-French problems and we are going to have one ministry of multiculturalism, or in the case of Ontario the Ministry of Citizenship, and that is where the ethnics will go. I think it is a problem from above rather than one from below.

I know from our personal experiences within the Greek community that on numerous occasions we have had gatherings that had absolutely nothing to do with our culture, but perhaps with enhancing trade and finding a link between Ontario and Europe to develop trade and bringing in members from the Greek community to see how we could co-ordinate efforts from Ontario, perhaps using Greece as a base for a foothold within the European Community to develop trade. On something like trade, instead of sending the minister of trade to us, who do we get but the minister of citizenship and culture. I hope I am not taking too much time, but I think it is also a problem from above down.

Mrs Marland: Good point.

M. Folco : La question qu'a posée Mme Marland est une question que nous considérons fondamentale. D'ailleurs, une des raisons pour lesquelles ces trois groupes sont ensemble, c'est aussi parce qu'ils sont préoccupés par la définition de ce qu'est un Canadien.

Cependant, nous percevons cette problématique d'une façon un peu particulière. C'est peut-être aussi teinté par le fait que certains d'entre nous sont du Québec. De plus en plus, il nous apparaît que c'est une problématique qui est à trois paliers, à trois niveaux très différents et qu'elle ne se résume pas uniquement à des questions linguistiques ou à des questions culturelles. Il est évident que, actuellement à travers le Canada, il y a des gens venus d'ailleurs, ou nés au Québec ou en Ontario ou en Alberta, mais d'une autre origine qui parlent l'anglais ou le français.

Au Québec, vous avez des personnes d'origine italienne qui parlent le français comme langue de communication et vous avez des personnes d'origine italienne qui parlent l'anglais comme langue de communication usuelle. Quand on parle de francophones et d'anglophones dans ce pays, on parle de plus en plus de francophones ou d'anglophones qui ne sont pas nécessairement de souche française ou de souche anglo-saxonne. Ils utilisent une langue véhiculaire, une langue de communication. Nous croyons que, aujourd'hui, on ne peut plus diviser le Canada en Canada anglais et en Canada français puisque en fait le Canada anglais en Ontario est formé de personnes qui utisent l'anglais quotidiennement et dont la culture d'origine n'est certainement pas une culture anglo-saxonne. Donc, déjà il y a un premier niveau de dualité.

Pour revenir à la question du bilinguisme, qui a été mentionnée tout à l'heure, le bilinguisme n'est pas lié au multiculturalisme ou au respect des valeurs des communautés culturelles, des cultures d'origine, puisque ce sont les deux langues véhiculaires utilisées par l'ensemble des Canadiens, soit le français et l'anglais. Je pense que c'est une réalité qu'il faut accepter. Invoquer les 332 langues parlées au Canada n'est qu'une façon, je pense, de ne pas vouloir reconnaître la réalité linguistique de ce pays. On peut venir de la Jamaïque et parler anglais ; au Québec il y a des gens qui viennent de la Jamaïque et qui parlent français. C'est un fait acquis aujourd'hui.

Le deuxième palier qui nous semble extrêmement important c'est qu'un Canadien, pour nous, est une personne qui adhère et qui reconnaît un certain nombre de principes fondamentaux qui font consensus dans ce pays. Il y a l'idéal démocratique et la question du rôle, du positionnement des femmes dans notre société qui font consensus. De plus en plus, la question des autochtones fait consensus. Il y a certaines valeurs sociales et culturelles, notre attachement à un système où les droits fondamentaux sont respectés, qui fait consensus. Le fait que les personnes, quel que soit leur degré de richesse ou de pauvreté, peuvent recevoir des services de santé fait consensus. Pour nous, être Canadien c'est s'identifier aux valeurs que cette nation s'est données depuis des centaines d'années.

Il y a cependant un troisième niveau : nos cultures d'origine, et dans ces cultures d'origine il y a certaines valeurs qui sont spécifiques. Ça peut être le concept de famille qui est particulier, ça peut être l'attachement aux cultures d'origine que peut-être certains d'entre nous ne connaissent que par ouï-dire. Je ne suis pas un Italien. Je suis d'origine italienne, mais il y a un attachement à des valeurs privées et à des valeurs socioculturelles qui, je crois, forment un tout qui est positif pour le Canada.

Notre culture canadienne est une culture en évolution. Il y a 50 ans, elle ne se nourrissait qu'à quelques souches. Aujourd'hui, il y a des auteurs d'origine italienne qui écrivent en anglais et il y a des auteurs d'origine juive qui écrivent en anglais et qui ont apporté leurs propres éléments culturels et qui ont renforcé la culture du consensus. Mais toutes ces choses ne sont pas contradictoires. Là où il y a erreur c'est quand on fait du multiculturalisme quelque chose qui s'adresse à une population qu'on identifie en disant qu'elle est d'une certaine pauvreté culturelle, d'une certaine marginalité. Ce n'est pas une question de respect des droits : ce n'est pas une question de canadianité. Nous sommes tous des Canadiens.

Si notre coalition s'est formée, c'est que nous croyions que le Canada sans le Québec et le Québec sans le Canada ne pouvait pas avoir cette richesse et ce dynamisme économique, culturel et social que nous pourrions avoir en vivant tous ensemble.


Mrs Y. O'Neill: Thank you so much. That was very helpful. I would just like to say that the role of an MPP has many challenges. It also has a lot of privileges. One of the privileges I have had because of the kind of riding I live in is being welcomed into the minority communities. The Hellenic community centre is in my riding. I might say that when I opened it the Minister of Tourism and Recreation was there to open it with me. That was in the previous government of this province. I hope that tradition is being maintained.

I have sung O Canada much more in the multicultural communities in Ottawa-Carleton than I have in whatever you want to call the other communities. But it always seems the Canadian flag is flying with whatever country I happen to be sharing a festival with. I know that all the cultures are much more than festivals; however, I am going to open the Greek festival in Ottawa tomorrow and I am happy to do that. I celebrate Greek Independence Day with a great deal of fondness. Certainly democracy is very much a part of that celebration.

That all being said, I want to say one other thing to you that is of a general nature before I ask a question. I am really pleased that you have expressed yourself as clearly as you have because when we had our hearings in the winter -- and we did extensive hearings, as you know, over 600 -- some people came before us talking about English Canada and French Canada. I questioned some of them, because I really do not think there is such a thing as English Canada. The only province that is bilingual legally in this country is put in with the English provinces, so that in itself is a very obvious contradiction, plus all of the other real contradictions that the term English Canada brings forward.

I think your explanation really has been helpful of what being a Canadian means. I listened to your six points and it was very difficult to pick them up as you read them. Although I have heard you say things that may lead me to getting a positive answer, do you then want to work towards the Canada clause concept? Is that one of your fundamental platforms as it will finally evolve, do you feel?

Mr Dotsikas: I think that in recognizing that it is a pluralistic society, which is our point 5, and also adding to what Max said about the American example of who we are as Canadians, a Canada clause would be one way of expressing what Canadians are, recognizing that there are two founding languages, that there are a first peoples who were here long before anybody came here. In that respect it includes the various groups that have come in. Perhaps a way of getting around this is to say there is an anglophone Canada and a francophone Canada as opposed to an English and a French Canada. For someone in Ontario, I consider myself an anglophone and I struggle with French every now and then. You can recognize that there are two languages, but many people who speak those languages from many cultures. A Canada clause hopefully would say who we are as Canadians and perhaps that would address your concerns, as well as how we get around this hyphenation. How do we recognize the multi part without watering down Canada? A Canada clause may just do the trick.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Could you just briefly tell me a little bit about what your plans are in eastern Canada and Quebec? You said you were going to visit major cities. Could you just give us a little idea of the kind of contacts you have made and what your time lines are for your work?

Mr Bernard: Yes. This fall we have basically booked -- right now -- trips that are going to take us right across the country. We are going to be going to all the western cities, all the way out to Vancouver, all the major ones, Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg and so on; I am not going to name them all.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I am trying to find out what you have in the east. I am more familiar with the communities in the western provinces. Do you have large groupings of people who actually would form a coalition in the eastern provinces?

Mr Bernard: Yes, but the objective of these particular travels we are going to do is to meet with our respective community members. So we do have them right across the country.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: You do? In the east as well?

Mr Bernard: In the east as well, definitely. That is part two of our trip, which is going to happen immediately afterwards. We are going to be going to St John's and Prince Edward Island and so on and we are going to Halifax, all the major cities in.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Then you will meet with people in Quebec as well?

Mr Bernard: The Quebec representatives of the delegation are going to be going outside of Montreal. There is a definite concentration of anglophones and Greek, Italian and Jewish people within the community of greater Montreal. Clearly we have identified the fact that outside of Montreal there is a lack of exchange: intercultural exchange, information exchange, just dialogue. To promote that we are going to be going within the province, to other regions of Quebec, to promote this exchange and just talk about our constitutional options and what it means to be a Canadian and the kinds of questions we have been discussing with you here today: what it means to be a Quebecker, what it means to be a Montrealer and what it means to be from St-Jean-de-Brébeuf. They are very different kinds of things, clearly.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Bonne chance.

Mr Bernard: Thank you very much; we need it.

M. Winninger : Je voudrais examiner le deuxième principe que vous avez articulé ce matin.

Mr Bernard: Let me give you the anecdote, then answer you very seriously. The anecdote is that I was once told that whatever the proposal is we put forward, dittoed or otherwise, we should put forward the most stringent and strident proposal possible, because we have to leave it to everybody else to then compromise it and water it down. So clearly that is going to happen, but 125 years of history have gone by since our particular political institutions were created. Times have changed and they are not necessarily serving the population in the way they should at the present time. The federal Parliament has just gone through a revision of its parliamentary rules. There is nothing wrong with doing that.

We may not, as individuals, agree with certain changes but the fact of the matter is that change at a time when things need changing is good. As a coalition we endorse the concept that at this particular time in Canada's history change is required. That is very clear. What the particular nature of that change should be in terms of the Senate or in terms of other political institutions -- also you have to expand the thinking to include programs, not just a Parliament. You have to think about medicare, for example, or ministries or whether or not the Charter of Rights is going to continue to have precedence so that you are emphasizing certain fundamental rights. Are you going to emphasize individual rights? Are you going to emphasize collective rights? Those are all part of what we mean by revising our political institutions -- how we as Canadians are governed.

The concept we are putting forward is a little bit like zero budgeting in accounting. Let's not come to the table with all the prejudices and the baggage we bring with us in terms of having had these things, but let's rather come to the table with an open mind and see what we can do in terms of putting together a political system that works in the interests of all Canadians rather than working against the interests of some Canadians and in favour of others.

Mr Folco: Let me add something quite short. We believe that the changes cannot be cosmetic. They will have to be serious changes but we have already had le rapport Allaire in Quebec, le rapport Bélanger-Campeau, the Beaudoin-Edwards and the Spicer. I am sure this committee will present a brilliant report that will help all of us in better understanding the different constitutional options. The federal government will be presenting, in September or October, its own position on this issue. What is quite clear is that we as a group do not have the pretension of being capable of choosing where each and every item selected in le rapport Allaire and in Bélanger-Campeau should go. Should it be provincial or federal? Should it be decentralized at the municipal level?

What we do know is that there is a need for substantial non-cosmetic change. What we do know is that there are a lot of groups right now that are doing some serious work. For example, you might be presenting the options that could be acceptable in Quebec, in western Canada, in the Maritimes, or whatever. What we are saying is that we are going to be looking very closely at everything that will be presented in the next few months because we know there are deadlines. The deadlines are coming soon, and the deadlines in Quebec are coming quite soon.

I want to stress the fact that this is not a cosmetic crisis in Quebec; it is a real crisis. We will, I hope, be able, as three groups that have formed a coalition, to have something more concrete in the next few months. We will be presenting that within our communities, but I think the situation is still evolving right now.


Mr Bernard: I just wanted to add something very briefly, and that is the role of Ontario in this particular issue; the reform of the political institutions. It is absolutely crucial.

Ontario is in an extremely favoured position in order to be able to work towards the kinds of reform that we are talking about and that we feel are essential in order to maintain national unity. The economic base is here, the cultural representation is here, the political influence is here. Let's not kid ourselves. You represent a large group of the population so you have the demographic mass, and there is no question that Ontario's views are going to be very central and very importantly considered. Your role as a committee obviously is central to the whole issue of national unity, which is why we are very happy to be before you today.

Dr Castrilli: One final point I would like to make in response to the question is that the political institutions in this country, in this province, in other provinces, cannot continue to ghettoize and alienate Canadians, and that is the system upon which our institutions have been based. We have had some reference before as to the division of responsibilities. Some Canadians have access to all ministries and all ministries respond to them. A majority of Canadians are hived off to smaller ministries like multiculturalism, like citizenship. That is something that has to be rethought. It is something that we do not find acceptable, and it is something Ontario can take a very strong leadership role in, given the very diverse population of Ontario.

Mr Offer: My first question has been, in large measure, responded to by that last comment. When we speak about ministries of culture and multiculturalism, there is a purpose and a reason and generally very good work is done. Are they becoming almost a barrier to the full expression of the multicultural interest by almost being convenient funnels to address all interests of the multicultural community, even though many of those interests should really be addressed in other areas of responsibility? I would like to get your reaction to that particular comment.

I have a second question. Because you are representatives of different groups, but all within the Quebec region --

Mr Bernard: No.

Mr Offer: Okay. Could you please tell me, because I see in your brief it says "of Quebec," "Quebec region" and "Quebec region."

Mr Bernard: Amend the first page. I think we dealt with that at the very beginning. It is the Hellenic Canadian Congress, the National Congress of Italian Canadians and the Canadian Jewish Congress. There was a typo on the first page.

Mr Offer: I would like, notwithstanding, to ask for your comments, second, on this: In Quebec "distinct society," "special status," a phrase such as that, is of crucial importance, and I am wondering whether you might comment on whether any proposal for constitutional change which does not contain a phrase of that nature would be acceptable to Quebec, and second, whether any change within the Constitution that does contain that phrase would be acceptable to many regions outside Quebec.

Mr Bernard: First of all, I think we are going to reserve comment on that question on the "distinct society." Let me just explain to you why very briefly. The fact of the matter is that there is an awful lot of discussion going on right now as to whether using language such as "distinct society" or "self-determination," or whatever language you want, is a cosmetic issue or a substantive issue.

What we are trying to do is to say to you as representatives and to everybody we talk to in the country: "Listen, we are not here to comment on cosmetics. We are here to comment on substance." As far as substance is concerned, we have some very definite views. Quebec should be part of Canada. Political institutions, and that includes Quebec's political institutions, need to be reformed. Whether that results in some kind of balance weighted this way or that way is something we will comment on and you will comment on and we will have occasion to talk about, but that is the substance we are really concerned about.

Whether having a phrase or not having a phrase is going to fly in Quebec or is not going to fly outside Quebec is a separate issue and we are not going to comment on that, because to us that is far less important than the substance. If the substance could be addressed and there could be some understanding right across the country on what we together want to see as Canadians, whether we happen to live in Quebec, Manitoba, Ontario or Halifax, then I think it is going to become far less important whether there is a particular phrase that describes a part of the country, be it Quebec or any other part. It is going to become an issue and it will get resolved, but we suggest it take a second-level priority.

That is how I would like to answer the question. I am sorry I interrupted you.

Dr Castrilli: No, I wanted to respond to the first point, not the second point. I will defer until such time as the second point is dealt with.

Mr Dotsikas: Perhaps I could just add about the second point that clearly in our submission in point 3, where we express our concern and our sensitivity towards the French factor in Quebec, whatever language is necessary, whether substantive, cosmetic or however it works out, our concern is that both within Quebec and outside Quebec -- I am from Ontario -- when it is all said and done, the French fact in Quebec feels confident with the way its particular language needs and cultural needs have been dealt with. However that is done is going to be something that evolves with the process, but it is important that Quebeckers feel confident about their language and their culture, and however that is done is to be seen.


Dr Castrilli: I think you have probably gathered there is unanimity on that issue with respect to our coalition. I wanted to address the first point, which I think is an important one.

I have already said we do not like ghettos. Many of us oppose the creation of a department of multiculturalism at the federal level because we see it as a means of ghettoizing, as I have said. There is a tendency when one thinks of multiculturalism to think of immigration issues. There is a tendency to think of multiculturals as something less than full citizens. I submit to you that is erroneous. I do not know how you can say that to individuals of Italian origin who have been here 150 years, and there are ample examples of that. They are told the department of multiculturalism will look after their needs, for instance, like the Japanese Canadians involved in the issue of redress for wrongs committed during the Second World War or like Canadian citizens of Italian origin whose major crime was that they had a name most people could not pronounce. It had nothing to do with political activities. No one was ever charged.

As was pointed out, the minister handling that is not the Minister of Justice, responsible for justice issues across this country, but the Minister of State for Multiculturalism and Citizenship. That borders on the offensive and it bespeaks the kind of attitudes there are in this country. That is no longer acceptable; it simply is not. There is no rationale, for instance, for second-language programs within multiculturalism. Those properly belong to immigration or to education. It does not belong to multiculturalism. Multiculturalism means Canadian citizens. It is directed to Canadian citizens who have different cultural origins and that includes all of us, not just the non-French and non-English. To the extent institutions perpetuate that concept, they will become increasingly irrelevant.

Mr Dotsikas: Perhaps I could just add to the first point really quickly.

The Acting Chair: Actually, we have gone overtime, if you would be very brief.

Mr Dotsikas: Yes, I will be very brief. I mentioned earlier my previous views on the whole question of multiculturalism and how the political process has treated these groups who see themselves as Canadians. I did not appear within a vacuum. I have a family; my family has a family and they happen to come from a particular part of the world. As a matter of fact, I was born in Greece. I came here when I was very young. I celebrate my cultural background. My commitment to Canada has been proven in the past and it is the only country I feel I have allegiance to. However, in my dealings with politicians of all political stripes, both federally and provincially, I am seen as an ethnic and I am treated as an ethnic. That concerns me because it is not my doing, it is somebody else's doing.

Just a quick point. I will very briefly tell you something I told Max the first time I met him. I think you can learn a lot from our group in the fact that we have come together. I said to Max, our three different cultures are very old. Over the past 2,000 years they have come into contact with each other in other parts of the world, not under the most pleasant of circumstances, yet we find ourselves in the New World and we have managed to overcome those differences. If we can do that, then I think all Canadians should be able to overcome their differences. The fact that we are here together should be, hopefully, an inspiration for everybody else to find a solution to the mess we are in right now.

The Acting Chair: I want to thank you for coming before the committee today. It is very helpful indeed to have representatives from Quebec and from Ontario speaking about this very important issue. We will certainly take note of the comments you have made to the committee, and we hope that when you go back to your respective groups, if you have other documents you can send to us on positions you are taking, or even questions you have for this committee, please forward them to the committee through the clerk as soon as you possibly can. Thank you very much.


The Acting Chair: I would like to call at this point Professor Doug Purvis to come before the committee. Good morning, Professor Purvis. Before we begin this part of the hearings, could you introduce yourself and indicate what university you are from and some of your background for the record.

Dr Purvis: Thank you, Mr Chairman. My name is Doug Purvis. I am in the economics department and the school of policy studies at Queen's University, and currently director of the John Deutsch Institute for the Study of Economic Policy at the university.

The Acting Chair: It is good to have you with us. You have 30 minutes and hopefully you will leave some time at the end so that we can question you.

Dr Purvis: What I would like to do is make some preliminary remarks for about half that period, then invite questions for the second half. I would like to thank you for the opportunity to appear before you and present some views on what is clearly a most compelling issue, not only for Ontarians but for all Canadians.

I appear before you in perhaps a slightly unusual position for an economist in that I think, basically, a large part of my message is a good-news message. Economists are usually condemned as being the disciples of the dismal science. I say it is a good-news message in the following sense: Virtually all participants in the constitutional discussion agreed that preserving and enhancing the Canadian economic union is essential to ensuring prosperity. I want to reinforce that message before you today, but I also want to warn you that with that commitment to the economic union comes considerable other baggage, if you like, or commitment or obligations that I do not think all participants who have sworn their allegiance to the economic union have fully recognized. I wanted to use a little bit of my time today to try and identify what that baggage is.

As my preamble or my subtheme, what I would put before you is that I believe a strengthened economic union can be and, indeed, I think must be the cornerstone to securing national unity.

The other side of the coin from the good news of preserving the economic union and the benefits that flow from that, I believe, is that the sovereignty or the two-successor-state scenario being considered by some participants in the debate to my mind entails significant economic costs to both of the successor states encapsulated in that view of one possibility. I do not want to use my time here to articulate in great depth what those costs would be, but it is pretty easy to pinpoint in both Quebec and the rest of Canada key sectors that would be certainly made vulnerable by a loss of the political union between the two states. In Quebec, textiles and dairy are the obvious sectors that would be vulnerable. In Ontario, I think the automobile sector would be somewhat at a risk.

But it is broader than just identifying particular sectors that would lose some of their protected market status. The ability to continue with or negotiate new international treaties would be very much at risk for both states. The political instability and uncertainty that would be attached to even the most optimistic view of how one would negotiate a political split would clearly put at risk our ability not only to attract foreign investment but in fact to retain the significant elements of foreign investment key to both parts of the country.

I think this notion of our situation of Canada in the new international world encapsulated by the phrase "globalization" that we all hear so much about is an important dimension of the debate in terms of the economics of the situation.

The silver lining to that black cloud is that I think the eventual acceptance of that analysis -- and I feel very confident that that analysis is, in fact, the correct one, that the economic costs of the two-successor-state possibility are really, truly significant -- will provide strong incentives to both sides to negotiate hard and strong to secure a resolution to our constitutional impasse. So even in that bad news one has to actually focus on the silver lining aspect of it.

The other preliminary remark I would like to put on the table is that at this juncture Canada desperately needs constitutional renewal to ensure that our economy can adjust to the new realities of the world community in order to provide Canadians with the kind of prosperity and freedom we have come to take for granted over the last quarter of a century.

This catchphrase "globalization" gets bandied around a lot, and the implications of it are far from clear for many aspects of economic policies. It is not exactly clear how we should be responding, and I think that tells us we have to be flexible in our approach to the impact of globalization. But the basic dramatic revolution in technology, in organization of industry, in the increased role of communications and information technology, in the way businesses are organized, in the way service has now become an increased part of world trade, all of that, will have changes for the role of government and changes for the way wealth is created in our economy. I hope it does not do too much injustice to a very difficult and complex topic to accept the analysis that wealth will be created in a way that is much more based on knowledge than it is on exploitation of resources. This is the kind of wealth creation that Canada has enjoyed for the last 50 years. It is not going to be the way wealth is fundamentally created in the world in the next 20 years.


I think one implication of this is that Canada's economic prosperity is going to hinge very much on the willingness and the opportunity for individuals and firms to invest in knowledge, to acquire new techniques, to absorb innovations from the rest of the world, as well as to generate and diffuse them ourselves within our own economy, and the incentives to do that are very much enhanced by the breadth of the market in which those firms and individuals perceive they will be able to sell the benefits of the investment and knowledge they undertake.

An individual who thinks that he is going to be confined -- I will give an example that is relative to me -- to eastern Ontario for the rest of his life is going to be much less disposed to making the sacrifices to invest in new skills than he would be if he felt secure in the knowledge that he could take those skills and move throughout the Canadian economic union if economic opportunities in one region change relative to those in another region. If the market for electrical engineers in eastern Ontario dries up, he can still take those skills and go off to northern British Columbia and sell them. Then the incentives to him are clearly much stronger to actually undertake the costs and the sacrifices to acquire those skills. One of the messages from me on this increased emphasis on knowledge is that mobility rights of individuals and citizens are key to the preservation and enhancement of the economic union, and I think that reinforcing those mobility rights is one dimension of constitutional renewal that we could be undertaking and discussing at this time, even in the absence of Quebec's particular aspirations.

Another factor that I think calls for us to be undertaking constitutional renewal at this time is a fact that basically escapes a lot of public discussion, and that is that in the last 25 years, Canada has undergone quite massive decentralization. The role of the provinces in the economic affairs of our nation has increased dramatically, relative to the role of the federal government. Part of that is testimony, I think, to the flexibility of Canadian federalism. Canadian federalism has been enviable in the international scale in its ability to respond to different pressures. We have a very flexible federalism and we have all sorts of creative federalism in Canada, ways we have found to accommodate pressures in the various parts of the system, but it is also sort of an ad hoc patchwork that we have had as a result of this 25 years of decentralization.

I think there comes a time when enough ad hoc change has occurred, when you have to stop and take stock and essentially undertake constitutional renewal to ensure that the incentives, the powers and the obligations of our various governing institutions actually more closely reflect the responsibilities that they have assumed over these 25 years. So an important part of constitutional renewal is institutional reform to reflect not only change in the world economy and change that we anticipate within Canada in the next 20 years, but in fact to accommodate some of the de facto change that has occurred over the last 25 years as we have undertaken a quite massive decentralization of both revenue gathering and expenditure by the provincial governments relative to the federal government.

From this perspective, it is important to recognize that Quebec's aspirations may to a large extent be driving the timing of our constitutional discussions, but they are not the only factor driving the agenda, and we should actually be looking upon these constitutional discussions not as a crisis in which we are responding to the aspirations of one group within the Canadian federation but as an opportunity to build a Canada that will be more able to provide prosperity and freedom in the next 25 years.

With that preliminary remark, let me return then to the role of the economic union, and if you will forgive me, I will give a two-minute lecture. I do lecture at the university as part of my profession, so I will profess for two minutes here, if I may, on economic integration.

I think it can be very strongly established that the benefits of economic integration increase with the degree of integration that is undertaken, yet for a variety of reasons regions choose different levels of integration between themselves. Over the last four or five years, we in Canada have been engrossed in a debate, first of all, about anticipating the benefits from, and now in retrospect trying to gauge the benefits from, a form of economic integration with the United States. The free trade agreement is one form of economic integration, and I would essentially put it at one end of a spectrum of economic integration. It is the loosest form of economic integration that you can formalize. It allows the free trade of manufactured goods and produced services across an international boundary, subject of course to important domestic-content provisions, but it really entails no more than that. It broadened the market for the production of goods and services but very little more than that.

There is a whole spectrum of economic integration. At the other end, the closest form of economic integration is what I would refer to as an economic unit. An economic unit expands upon the free trade agreement to include mobility of factors of production and -- I think importantly from the point of view of our current discussions -- guaranteed mobility of certain citizenship rights, and it is those certain citizenship rights that provide the really binding form of economic integration that I think has been reflected in an economic union.

So there is a spectrum. At one end there is the free trade agreement that involves only a very loose form of economic integration. There is a middle ground which might be thought of as a common market -- the European common market was for many years sort of an intermediate form of economic integration -- and then at the other extreme of the spectrum is an economic union which is the tightest form of economic integration. I think it is pretty clearly established that the economic benefits that flow from the integration increase with the degree of intergration. Economic benefits are highest with an economic union and minimal with the free trade agreement.

The second half of the message, though, is that the degree of political integration that is required to sustain the economic integration also increases with the degree of economic integration. A free trade agreement involves virtually no political integration at all. An economic union, on the other hand, requires considerable political integration. Policies have to be harmonized and the governments of the various regions have to recognize their common obligation to preserve the citizenship rights that are spread throughout the economic union, so there is this tradeoff, if you like, between the economic integration and the degree of political integration that is acceptable.

The message of that, at the simplest level, is that you cannot independently choose how much economic integration you want on the one hand, and how much political integration you want on the other hand. To a very large extent the degree that you pick on one of those choices dictates how much integration you have on the other choice, and that is an element that I think has been missing to a large extent in the Quebec nationalist debate. There has not been an explicit, honest recognition of that link. It is what makes the concept of sovereignty association such a vague and ill-specified concept, because it seems to choose independently the economic association and the political sovereignty and the squaring of that circle has never been made explicit. That certainly plagues the debate, because very often participants in the debate who use that term have in mind very different choices on one or both of the sovereignty association forks, and the debate is not resolved because this link between the two is not explicitly recognized.

It is useful to think about the European experience in this regard. Basically what we have observed over the last 20 years is a growth in the degree of economic integration that is being achieved and being aspired to in Europe. It started with essentially free trade areas and moved towards a common market. Now there is a move towards -- in the aphorism "Europe 1992" -- the single market for Europe, which entails a very tight form of economic integration in trying to strike down barriers within the European market in much the same way that some economists would like to see Canada try to do within the Canadian market.


As that process has proceeded, the recognition of the need for political integration has surprised many of the participants in the debate. The drive for economic integration carries with it a much greater degree of required political integration than I think people who started the process 10 years ago had envisaged, so there has been through this process, as economic integration proceeds, a growth in the role and the authority of the supranational institution, the European Council.

Indeed, it is sort of enlightening to recognize that in the European context, much of the debate is conducted in terms of the explicit recognition of nation-states ceding sovereignty to the European Council. This is the term used in much of the debate in Europe. They are ceding sovereignty to the European Council in return for the prescribed economic benefits that they anticipate from 1992, so I think that link between the economic integration and political integration is very important.

Let me turn more specifically to the questions you posed in your background document and identify the two dimensions of the securing of this prosperity and freedom that I referred to that I think are important for us to bear in mind in the constitutional discussions.

First, we have to do more to enhance the common market dimension of the economic union. We have to have better mobility rights for Canadians and we have to try actively to reduce and, where possible, remove the barriers and impediments to trade that exist, primarily between provinces but not always simply between provinces. The interprovincial barriers to trade are the key ways of enhancing the common market.

The second is that we have to improve the co-ordination and harmonization of economic policies in Canada. This need for improved co-ordination is driven partly by this globalization phenomena, but it is also driven by recognizing how much more important the provinces are in economic policy terms now than they were 25 years ago and that when you have 11 governments actively involved in economic policy, the need for co-ordination, the need for harmonization, is much more pressing. This co-ordination is with regard to structural policies, the various issues that come up in manpower, training, education, all sorts of structural policies; it is also very important for stabilization policies.

As an example of that, I would argue that this province has been the odd man out or the odd person out -- excuse my slippage there -- with regard to the basic stance of macroeconomic policies in this country over the last four or five years. While the thrust of the Bank of Canada's monetary policy and the fiscal policies of both the federal government and most of the other provinces has been towards long-term fiscal prudence, concern about deficits, a medium-term plan to control inflation in the country, Ontario has been basically out of step with those policies, and Ontario is so big that its being out of step has meant that we have had a fundamental working at cross-purposes of important government policies in the economy. The goals of the national government, the control of deficits and debt and disinflation have been compromised by this; the goals of the Ontario government have been compromised by this because these policies have been basically in conflict. An increased role for co-ordination and harmonization would have helped us avoid that situation.

My own perspective is that I think the Ontario government has actually been following undesirable policies, but even if you did not accept that analysis and you wanted to defend the particular policies of the Ontario government over the last four years, you would recognize that those policies have been less effective because of the lack of harmonization with the other policies being conducted in the economy. So one could imagine something like the way the G-7 countries have tried to develop processes to co-ordinate and harmonize their policies better at the international scale. Canada should be starting to think about the institutions, frameworks, procedures and traditions that try to facilitate the co-ordination and harmonization of policies among various levels of government.

I would submit to you that both of these lessons, the enhancement of the common market and the improvement of policy co-ordination and harmonization in the Canadian economic union, give rise to a fairly important role for the central government. This is not centralization or decentralization in terms of where the taxation powers reside, where the spending powers reside. It has to do with the role of a central government as a facilitator, the arbiter, of these needs to make the common market work better and to support the co-ordination and harmonization of economic policies. With that, I will invite questions.

The Acting Chair: We have a little over eight minutes for questions. We will begin with Mr Curling.

Mr Curling: Professor, I am not one to challenge your economic theory at all. I am not an economist. I am just a politician.

Mr Bisson: You say that with a great deal of pride.

Mr Curling: Very much so, and I say that as a politician because I feel quite qualified in interacting with people, hearing their desires and their aspirations. While I hear you, I hear a lot of theory that you put in place for how the economy may work and how we have to face this globalization and dealing with the marketplace, which is the world. You said something that catches my attention. You said "the ceding of sovereignty." I read that as giving up power. In this very diverse, multicultural province, there are few who have that power. Do you not see that in that reordering, that redistribution of power, understanding its people first has to take place, because when the general says, "Charge," who is in charge? The other people are not running the other way, but they are following him because they feel a part of it. How would you respond to the fact that has to be taken care of first?

Dr Purvis: The other part of the European debate that maybe I should introduce at this stage is what is called the principle of subsidiarity. Understand, Europe is coming from a very different starting position towards the creation of what is essentially going to be a federal state. They are starting from the position of independent nation-states building supranational institutions to co-ordinate, gradually ceding sovereignty, to use that term, to that supranational institution, recognizing that some powers have to be with the supranational institution which we would call the federal government. But they started from a position where that federal government had no powers.

That ceding of sovereignty is conditioned by this principle of subsidiarity -- sorry for the jargon, but it is their jargon, not mine -- which says that essentially all powers should be retained at the lower level of government except those for which there is a compelling reason to have it at the federal level. In doing that, they are recognizing, I think, precisely the forces that you are identifying, the ability of smaller units of government to associate more closely and match the diversity of preferences and desires of its citizens, which is a principle that has to be recognized in that allocation of powers. So they very strictly adhere to this principle of subsidiarity, and I think that Canada would too in the allocation of powers.

We are starting from a different position where the federal government already has a lot of powers. Much of the debate talks about taking a lot of those powers away from the federal government and giving them to the provinces. I guess my ceding sovereignty line was simply meant to warn against overdoing that. If you overdo that and leave a shell as a federal government, I do not think the economic union would survive, and if the economic union does not survive the political union will not either.

Certain fundamental powers have to be at the central government level to provide a bonding of the regions. There also have to be powers at the lower levels of government to recognize the diversity of the regions. I think Canada's federalism has been remarkably flexible and effective at striking a balance over time between those two competing sets of pressures.


Mr Winninger: I agree with you that moving towards economic unity is certainly a positive direction to take. At one stage during your presentation you suggested that Ontario was out of step with Ottawa and the rest of Canada. I prefer to see it as the rest of Canada being out of step with Ontario. The policies of fiscal restraint that the federal government has undertaken really have not done anything substantial to bring down the national debt. They have done nothing to assist the economy in adjusting to the ravages of free trade and the GST. People have undergone considerable privation and hardship, and jobs have haemorrhaged to the US.

In addition to eliminating the interprovincial barriers to trade which still exist, is it not more important that we adopt a more co-operative style of economic management where government and labour and the business community work more co-operatively together? We hear this mentioned again and again, but it seems to me that the style in many provinces of Canada and at the federal level is more adversarial, whereas the communities you describe in Europe -- the European economic community, some of the most competitive and prosperous countries: Germany, Austria, Sweden and also Japan, if you want to go in that direction -- certainly have enhanced protection for their workers, and yet still maintain a considerable economic and competitive edge.

I wonder if you have had an opportunity to study our situation vis-à-vis these other high-producing countries.

Dr Purvis: Of course, the question opens up a whole range of issues, and I guess we could keep the committee here for the rest of the day debating them. I think the point I would like to make in response to it is that regardless of your orientation in terms of the political economy debate, I would accept your view that too much of our policies have been forged in an atmosphere of adversarial confrontation rather than co-operation and harmonization; and hence I would like to see procedures and institutions put in place that encourage co-operation and more open discussion, more mutual recognition of each other's aspirations and problems.

I pose that at the federal-provincial level. I would certainly see room for expanding that to, say, the German tripartite notion of bringing business and labour to the table on many economic issues. There is no reason why that could not be done either in parallel with or in conjunction with conferences, procedures, institutions, that try to enhance the federal-provincial dimension of it.

One would think in particular that the provincial governments would often bring to the table the views of labour in their own particular part of the country, because one of the characteristics of the Canadian economy and of this economic union that we talk about is that very often different regions of the country are undergoing quite different economic experience. The big changes in the relative prices of resources to manufactured goods, for example, cause booms to be occurring in the west while Ontario is mired in recession; or as was the case a couple of years ago, the reverse -- Ontario in a boom and the west in recession.

This disparate economic experience is part of the diversity that could be reconciled through this process of better co-operation and better harmonization. It is a motherhood statement. We would like to have been doing better on this for the last 20 years. Federal-provincial relations have always been a rather contentious part of the Canadian economic dialogue.

The point I would like to leave you with is that it is absolutely fundamental at this point that we quit throwing up our hands and saying nothing can be done about this, but actually to address this as a fundamental issue, both because of the increased pressures on us from globalization and because we just have to recognize how much more important the provinces are in our economic affairs than they were when Mr Trudeau started talking to them even 20 years ago.

The Acting Chair: Thank you, Professor Purvis, for your presentation to the committee. We appreciate it very much.


The Acting Chair: I would ask for Professor Laforêt to come forward, please.

J'aimerais souhaiter la bienvenue au Professeur Laforêt, qui se présente pour la première fois devant ce comité de l'Assemblée. I believe, Professor Laforêt, that you are willing to give your presentation in English. It is certainly up to you, whichever is preferable to you. I would ask you first of all to introduce yourself and say where you are from. I believe you know that you have been given a half-hour, and I hope there is some time to pose some questions.

Dr Laforêt: Merci, Monsieur le Président, de votre invitation. Indeed, I am a professor of political science at Université Laval in Quebec City. Although it is the first time that I have the opportunity to speak in front of you, I have had during this present year the opportunity to present briefs to Bélanger-Campeau, to the Spicer commission and to Beaudoin-Edwards, so in that sense there is real grey hair in terms of constitutional debates. Whether there is wisdom or not I will leave to your interpretation.

There are two preliminary remarks that I want to make. The first one would be about conveying a sense of urgency. As we now speak, there will be a referendum on sovereignty in Quebec in 440 days. Every time you are coming here, every time you are meeting here, the clock is ticking, the clock continues to tick, and we are getting closer to that debate. Some will feel that this is a threat; I think this is a perception, but I think it is a real political fact that you have to factor into your reflections.

There is a second clock which is ticking, and I think it makes the whole thing even more urgent, and it is that every single day that passes it becomes more difficult to solve the constitutional puzzle and the constitutional crisis. As I will explain later, there is something at work in Canada in the functioning of our political system, of our political culture, that makes it more difficult every day to solve the crisis. I think if I am successful in conveying this to you today the sense of urgency and the fact that as time goes by it is even more difficult to solve the issue, I will have been successful.

The second remark: Many people have influenced my thinking on these issues over the years, but one of them, and I think that in this I share that fact with your Premier, Mr Rae, is that I have been a student of Charles Taylor in political science at McGill University, and a number of ideas that will come forward in my presentation, quite frankly, I owe to him. I think he has been throughout the years one of the most important thinkers reflecting upon our dilemmas and our crises, and you would be extremely wise in looking at some of his writings over that. I will try to convey a number of his ideas in my presentation.

Preliminary remarks being set aside, there are two things that I want to do. As a Québébois I would like to foster a greater sense of understanding of what is Quebec's position. I think as Ontarians you have to have a greater understanding of what is the Quebec position -- my understanding, anyway -- and I will try to do that. Second, I want to convey a message about the relationship between Quebec and Ontario that will continue no matter what the solutions or the absence of solutions will be in the next couple of years.

Fostering, first of all, a greater sense of understanding. Yesterday in Le Devoir, Premier Bourassa, after his meeting with Premier Johnston of British Columbia, said that for him the priority right now is to try to act in view of the fact that Quebec considers that the 1982 constitutional reform is unacceptable. I think it is fundamental for everybody to understand why the Premier of Quebec and why Bélanger-Campeau believe that the Constitution Act, 1982, which many of you consider as one of the greatest gifts to Canadian politics in the 20th century, is unacceptable for Quebec.


I think it is unacceptable for a number of reasons, but there are two I want to outline to you. First I want to touch upon the fact that you consider yourselves, and are, parliamentarians. I am sure you are aware of the importance of what you are doing, what it means to be a member of a provincial Parliament and to be part of the legislative power of a society. The British political philosopher, John Locke, writing in the late 17th century, called the legislative branch of government, the legislative power, more or the less the heart and soul of a society, of a political community. What you are doing, really, is in the political lifeline of a society, of a political community. The legislative branch of government in a liberal democracy is of crucial importance, and I think most or all of you are quite aware of that.

In 1982, the Constitution of Canada was modified substantially without the consent of your peers in the legislative branch of Quebec's government. Your peers in Quebec saw substantive parts of their power being diminished, being taken away without their consent, without the consent of their government and without the consent of the people who had elected them. This is a fundamental factor to the current crisis that we have.

Obviously, many people are saying -- the former Prime Minister of Canada, Mr Trudeau, the first of them -- that it was enough to have substantial consent on the part of those who represented Quebec in the federal government, and he has a point. We live in a federal regime, in a federation, and in such a regime, where sovereignty is shared, where we have collaboration between various levels of power, undeniably legitimacy stands with the provincial representatives and with their representatives at the federal level. However, that does not mean that the representatives of the federal government can take away powers from their peers at the provincial level without their consent. Actually, the truth, I believe, in our kind of regime, is exactly the contrary. At the heart of federalism is that the provinces cannot, without the consent of the federal government and the representatives at the federal level, diminish the consent of the federal government, and the federal representatives cannot diminish provincial powers.

In the 1981-82 round, the powers of Quebec were substantially diminished on issues of crucial importance in Quebec, such as language and culture, without the consent of the members of the National Assembly, the government, and the people of Quebec. That is one of the most fundamental facts that lies behind the current crisis.

The second one, I think, goes to the heart of the reform itself of the Constitution of 1982, and that is the Charter of Rights. The Charter of Rights must be seen not only as a liberal and democratic document, but also as a nationalist document. The Charter of Rights embodies one of the major intentions of former Prime Minister Trudeau, which was to try to foster and devise and create a new national spirit in Canada that would bind Canadians from sea to sea into a new, unified political community. The charter is not only liberal, it is a nationalist document.

At the heart of the charter, one of the major aims, I would argue, is to negate the status of Quebec as a distinct society, an autonomous political community, a people or nation. That is one of the major aims of the charter. The charter is incompatible in its present form with the notion of Quebec as a distinct society, a nation, a people or an autonomous political community. This, by the way, is not just a Quebec intellectual or nationalist like myself telling you this. Academic political scientists like Peter Russell, whom you heard yesterday, Alan Cairns and most of their peers in the community of Canadian political scientists have argued in their scholarship over the years that this document is nationalist. It is centralizing, homogenizing and in spirit against the idea that Quebec is a distinct society, a nation and a people.

To prove that, let me refer to one of Mr Taylor's contributions in a book entitled Options for a New Canada, edited by Ron Watts and Doug Brown, published this year. I am referring to page 71, where Professor Taylor writes, "Quebec saw that the move to give the charter precedence imposed a form of liberal society that is alien and to which Quebec could never accommodate itself without surrendering its identity. In this context, the protestations by charter patriots that they were not against Quebec rang hollow," wrote one of the most pre-eminent political philosophers in Canada this year.

My point is, one, that 1982 is unacceptable because it took powers away from Quebec without its consent; and two, because in one of its major aims there was something unsympathetic and antagonistic to the most cherished perceptions of themselves by Québécois. So this is the first of the most important points I wanted to tell you today.

Let's move from that part of the analysis, interpretation of the past, to an attempt to devise what is likely ahead for Quebec, for Ontario and for Canada.

Elsewhere, Professor Taylor has written, "What we face in Canada is an absence of consensus on national identity, on national spirit, on national community. There is no such thing as a consensus on these issues in Canada," he wrote in the mid-1980s. Whether you like it or not, Quebec sees itself as a distinct society, nation, people and autonomous political community. One consequence of the failure of the Meech Lake accord, of the denial of recognition that Quebec is a distinct society, is that the Québécois want such a recognition even more right now than they did three, five or 10 years ago. They want it even more, so in a sense it is even more difficult now to solve the crisis than it was before Meech Lake was passed in 1987.

The Québécois will not accept, I believe, a reform which is not prepared to state openly, not in a preamble or footnote, at the heart of the political system, in the body of the Constitution, the acknowledgement that Quebec is a nation, a people, an autonomous political community and a distinct society. This recognition will have to be symbolic and it will have to substantive.

Can it be done, and what would such a reform look like? I am doubtful, as you will see in a moment, about the possibility of this being done but just to give you an indication of what would be required, let me state a number of points. I will just outline them. I will be able to answer some of your questions, if you are interested, into any of these issues.

There will have to be two charters of rights. Quebec will not accept the preponderance of a Canadian Charter of Rights as it stands right now. I think there have to be two. The notion that there is a common vision of the public good, a consensus on a notion of the common good shared by the Québécois and Canadians, will not carry through. There has to be an acceptance that there are two understandings of the common good in the Canadian liberal democracy, one that is shared by -- and I insist on the expression -- English-speaking Canadians, and the other that is shared, I believe, by a majority of Québécois.

I would argue that you need two charters. You need substantial devolution economically, as Professor Purvis argued a moment ago, but also, on issues such as language, culture, education and immigration, you need a recognition, I believe, at the heart of the system, that Canada is not a normal nation or nation-state and will never be. Canada has to see itself as a multinational federation or Confederation where a Canadian nation, a Québécois nation and aboriginal nations co-exist. Building' what Mrs Marland, I believe, was talking about earlier this morning, a vision of unhyphenated Canadianism -- I do not think there is such a thing as one Canadian nation. I doubt extremely that this will be possible considering current conditions in Quebec.

In the last instance, what would be required -- and I may hurt some feelings -- is nothing less than more or less changing the name of the country. To make a reform that will buy the hearts of Québécois into the system would need, I think, something like calling the country, openly to the world, Canada-Quebec. What I am telling you, the perceptions I see in Quebec and the substantial characteristics of the changes that are required are two charters of rights and substantial devolutions. Recognizing the fact that Canada is a multinational federation goes to the fact that in the last instance, as a consequence of all that, what you really need to do is to recognize openly that you have two autonomous political communities that unite in a political system. In acknowledging this, you change the name of the country and call it Canada-Quebec.


That, by the way, is absolutely not incompatible with various ways of reorganizing, centralization or decentralization between the current federal government and the English-speaking provinces. This is not incompatible with recognizing the rights, privileges and extremely substantial contributions of the aboriginal peoples in Canada. But I think that no matter what, these are the kinds of changes that will be required if, in the next few years, there is still to be a union between Canada and Quebec.

In just two or three minutes, if you allow me, I will try to explain why I am extremely doubtful about the possibility of doing that. I think those who wrote and signed the report of the Bélanger-Campeau commission were extremely wise when they talked about the current dominant political culture in Canada, when they talked about what I alluded to earlier, the importance of 1982, the importance of the political culture fostered by the institutions of 1982 and, paramount among them, the Charter of Rights.

Those who wrote and signed Bélanger-Campeau, including almost all Parti québécois members and all Liberal members including the Premier of Quebec, talked about the fact that right now at the heart of the system -- in the French edition these are pages 38 and 39 -- is a triple spirit of equality at work in the political culture of Canada: equality of individual rights, unity of the society in which people live -- and this is their first kind of equality; second, equality of cultural origins in Canada, incompatible with the notion of linguistic duality; and third, equality of provinces. These three equalities, equality of the provinces, equality of cultural origins and equality of individual rights, are the three things that are fostered by the Charter and are extremely hard to reconcile with a vision that Quebec is a distinct society, that it should have original powers different from those of, say, BC, Ontario or the other provinces. This political culture of those three equalities is becoming, every day that goes by, more entrenched in your province and in the other English-speaking provinces. I believe those who wrote Bélanger-Campeau were quite aware of the trend of these institutions and of this going on.

I think those who wrote the Spicer commission made the same point, in the English edition on page 53, when they talked about their dealings with ordinary Canadians: "For most participants outside Quebec, Quebec's continued presence and consideration cannot be bought at the price of damaging or destroying those things they value most about the country, and in particular must not be bought by sacrificing individual or provincial equality."

Mr Trudeau, in a sense, was quite successful in transforming the political identity, the political culture, of each and every one of us and even more so, outside of Quebec, of English-speaking Canadians. Now, more than 10 years ago, individual citizens across the country have more or less internalized this vision of equality: equality of individual rights, equality of cultural origins and provincial equality. It is more entrenched than 10 years ago and more incompatible with the vision of Quebec as a nation, a distinct society or an autonomous political community.

Because of all these things, there are grounds to be sceptical about the successful resolution of the current crisis between Quebec and Canada. This is why I want to move to the brief and last part of my presentation, a kind of message that somebody like myself, coming from Quebec, would like to carry across to representatives of the legislative power in our neighbouring province, Ontario.

There is no joy in seeing the agony of deep diversity and complex federalism in Canada. If you go to Montreal or Quebec City, when you look at the person on the street, you do not see any joy in the degradation of our political system, in the fact that Canada is traversing such a remarkable, multidimensional crisis. There is no joy in the fact that we live in tremendous conditions of political uncertainty. There is, and I believe that this is also shared by many Canadians, a great sense of vulnerability that one can feel in Quebec.

You and I share life in the shadow of an empire. The most important country in the history of humankind, politically, militarily, culturally and economically, is our only neighbour, for good and for bad, in the Americas. We share that, and in our vision of Canadian culture and Canadian identity and our vision of Quebec culture and Quebec identity we share that sense of vulnerability in the neighbourhood of such an empire. No matter what, even if the Canadian political system collapses, we will remain geographical partners and also partners in sharing that sense of vulnerability in the face of the American empire.

I think that these two things and many others are a substantial basis for the redefinition of the partnership between Quebec and Ontario that will be done, I am absolutely convinced, within renewed federalism or within a totally new political system. Conceiving the form of such a new Ontario-Quebec partnership, in view of the chances of failure of the current trend, is, I would humbly suggest, a highly urgent task for leaders in both societies, and particularly for you. Thank you very much.

The Acting Chair: Thank you, Professor. Those are stirring challenges, I think, to the committee to respond to. We will begin with M. Bisson.

M. Bisson : Monsieur Laforêt, vous avez pris l'opportunité de nous parler ici en anglais, alors je vais faire la même affaire pour commencer.

You talk about something that I guess is already a fait accompli to a certain extent in regard to the charter. There needs to be a recognition that there are two charters within Canada, and when you speak of that, do you say that you profess that there be two charters within the same Constitution, being at the federal level, or are you talking about a separation, such as what we have now?

Dr Laforêt: What I am saying is that, for instance, in the case of a renewed federation, it would have to be inscribed at the heart of the Canadian federal or confederal Constitution, as it would be inscribed in the constitution of Quebec, that there are two charters of rights and that the Charter of Rights that would have weight and legal validity in Ontario would have no legal validity whatsoever on the territory of Quebec. Individual rights and collective rights, because in the current charter there are both, would be defined by federal Parliament and the provincial parliaments of the English-speaking provinces for what we currently call ROC, or rest of Canada, and Quebec would devise and constitutionally entrench its own Charter of Rights.

This can be done. I am not saying this is what I am advocating, but I am telling you that this can be done within the fabric of one single country. Canada, or what I call Canada-Quebec, could still be one country in the United Nations and have two charters.

What you are talking about is part of what I call the drive to normalcy that is animating the Canadian political system. The drive to normalcy is that we have one representation in the United Nations and we should have one Charter of Rights, one Canadian identity. What I am telling you is that two charters of rights would be in line with our tradition of recognizing deep diversity and would not be incompatible with one single political system.


Mr Bisson: The crux of this thing, very quickly, is that I do not think anybody in this country would disagree with the fact that Quebec is a distinct society within the rest of Canada. Probably the same could be applied to different regions of our country as being very distinct among themselves, to the rest of what makes this country Canada as what we call it. But the real crux of the problem is, how do you get the various people in this country to sit down and to recognize that?

My thinking is that, in looking at this thing for the amount of time that we have, people, yes, recognize that Quebec is different, but they are afraid of what that difference means, and the message we often see within Ontario or any other place outside Quebec is sometimes somewhat different from what the Quebec people are saying on the streets through the representations we see in the media.

As politicians, and you as a citizen and we as citizens inside this country, how do we reconcile what that means and try to put that somehow down on paper so that we can move on and keep on with the building of this country? I profess that the biggest damage that could be done to this country is that if it comes down to the point of a referendum where Quebec decides, "I'm going my way," it will be the demise of what we call Canada, and that is not something I think anybody wants to see.

Dr Laforêt: I think, in trying to briefly answer your question, this is the hour of necessity. There is that expression that, through Bélanger-Campeau and through a referendum in the fall of 1992, Quebec is putting a knife at the throat of English-speaking Canada. Let me turn this around.

Since April 17, 1982, Quebec has had a knife at its throat, a Constitution which has legal validity in Quebec but that has not been accepted by either the government, the National Assembly, or the people of Quebec. That Constitution remains as valid now as it was almost 10 years ago and it is corroding the capacity of Quebec to act as an autonomous society. Quebec is behaving, I believe, the way it is because it feels the power of this new political culture, devised by the charter, aimed at its identity, aimed at its vision of itself as a distinct society and as a national community.

Speaking about what I consider the majority of citizens of Quebec would buy if they had a preferred choice, I think most people would tell you that they would buy what I call a federal or confederal binational restructuring in a partnership, Canada-Quebec. That would be their first choice and it would go through in a referendum.

However, if they are denied this, the new game that is being played post-Meech Lake is that cosmetics, just working on the status quo, will not do. If they are made an offer that does not recognize them as a distinct society and an autonomous political community and nation, then they will opt for independence, with its risks. Most people are quite aware of the risks, but they are also aware of the consequences of the current deterioration of the Canadian political system and what it means for Quebec. The real new ball game being played post-Meech Lake is that you cannot have a reform that will sell in Quebec if you are not prepared to state openly, symbolically and substantially that you see Quebec as an autonomous political community, nation and distinct society. If you cannot do that, I am afraid you will not be able to sell an offer in Quebec within the next 15 months.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I think I am hearing what you are saying. I want to begin by saying I was quite uplifted yesterday in the reports I read from the French and English media in Quebec that the meeting between the two premiers was considered at least communicatively successful, that they really did seem to hear each other. I think that is a very big step, considering the gulf that at least in public was between them, so that was uplifting to me. As you know, we are going to be speaking, hopefully, with either themselves or their representatives in the very near future.

I am very pleased you have brought us the perspective you have, because I do not think we have had somebody like yourself, with your background, before the committee. I do speak, actually, to some members of the National Assembly, and I also have quite a few contacts in the Outaouais. They are not bringing the very same message. The Outaouais is different, has different concerns, and certainly maybe the thinking is pressed by other forces. I am not saying that what you are saying is not spoken there, but it is not said in the same way. At least, I have not heard the people speaking that way.

You began by speaking about the 440 days. Actually, that rings an awful note for me, because I think 440 days was how long we had the Iranian hostage-taking. That rings very much to me. I watched that issue very long and that is not a happy number for me.

Solving the issue was the way you began -- if we do not solve the issue and the clock is ticking on the solving of the issue. You certainly did bring more than a challenge to me. Although I have read it, I have not heard somebody say "Canada-Quebec." The two-charter concept, of course, is not new.

I want to ask you what you mean by solving the issue. I guess the only reference points I have at the moment -- are you talking about Allaire and that kind of solution? Are you talking about asymmetric, or are you really talking what the rest of us can understand as separation?

Dr Laforêt: I go to the heart of the matter. I think this is what one has to do in the circumstances in which we are. I am not an economic expert. I am certainly not an expert on what would be the appropriate levels of devolution regarding rationalization of the federation. I am not talking about that. I think what I can give you is to provide information concerning the political theory and the symbolism behind the current crisis and the relationship between Quebec and Canada.

On these issues, what I believe I am telling you is that Quebec has always seen itself as a distinct society, an autonomous political community. This is a constant. Meech Lake was one imperfect attempt to give some space -- not all the space, but some space -- for this idea in the Canadian Constitution.

The failure of Meech carries a number of consequences. One of them is that now this vision of themselves that the Québécois have and for which they wanted recognition has been denied, I would argue they want it even more than before. Psychologically, you can understand that very much in personal relationships. I think now they are prepared to take more risks than before to get that recognition.

My message is that I think they are ready, if the recognition in question is not provided squarely and openly within the next year and a half, to get it internationally. So it will have to come either way.

I am not foreclosing a Canadian solution, if you want, or a solution that would come within the next year and a half and that would more or less transform substantially out there the Canadian federation and more or less keep the political system, but what I am telling you is that if it has to happen, if Canada has to remain one single political unit with one representation in the United Nations, this has to be done. That kind of recognition of Quebec has got to be given and put at the heart of the political institutions within the next year and a half or my understanding is that the majority of Québécois are now ready to take more risks to obtain such recognition internationally. I guess that is the heart of the message I am trying to carry out.


Mrs Y. O'Neill: This came before our committee last week by way of a university professor. Do you feel there is a possibility of violence to attain that?

Dr Laforêt: Look around you in the world. There are about 160 independent states. I think the experience of historical observation of how these states and how the populations involved behaved throughout the centuries is that there is not one single state that runs no risk of internal political violence. Internal political violence is always a possibility. It is always there. In some states the risks are higher. If you look at federations in the late 20th century, if you look at the Soviet federation and the Yugoslavia federation, then undeniably the risks there are much higher than they are in a federation such as Canada.

If you will allow me to say something else, generally speaking, for the extreme majority of citizens, there is no such thing as hatred between Québécois and English-speaking Canadians. The generation of people to which I belong has, on the whole, much better personal experiences with Canada, with English-speaking Canadians, than generations before. Our generation did not experience the kind of alienation, for instance, that the parti pris generation experienced in the Montreal of the late 1950s and early 1960s, which was more or less, outside, an English-speaking city and the extreme majority was French. There have been a number of transformations of political life in Canada which makes it so that there is no such thing as the kind of deeply felt personal alienation that one could sense, say, 25 or 30 years ago.

To give you one example, I taught for two years at the University of Calgary and some of my best experiences are with my colleagues in western Canada. I would argue that there is no such thing -- and this is unscientific -- as hatred. However, that being said, this does not mean things could not turn bad and sour. They could. It is because things can turn sour, even in a rather civilized country such as Canada, that lines of communication must, at all costs, remain open and that people must try to consider all plausible and rational alternatives.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: One final short one: Do you feel that symbolism is really significant in this round?

Dr Laforêt: I think it is of paramount significance that a new deal that would try to solve only the division of powers between the federal and the provincial governments, that would try to devolve this and that over there and to give two or three administrative arrangements will be, in the long run, largely unsuccessful. The keys to solving the current crisis are both symbolic and substantive.

The Acting Chair: I am aware that we are over time at this point. I am also aware that Professor Laforêt has come all the way from Quebec City to be with us, so I am just wondering. There has been no question from the Conservative party. Is that fine, Mr Harnick? Then, Mr Winninger, you have a brief question?

Mr Winninger: Yes, I will be very brief. Professor Laforêt, I certainly found your presentation very captivating indeed. In fact, to my recollection, it is the first Quebec perspective that has been presented here, other than perhaps the delegation of Julius Grey at Cornwall, which presented quite a different point of view.

I have always been sympathetic towards Quebec's aspirations towards language and cultural sovereignty. At the same time, given the climate, I have developed a very strong concern about how the native issue in Quebec will be resolved. I say that because at the same time Quebec is moving towards devolution of powers and greater sovereignty, it seems there is also a collateral movement afoot to somehow curtail the rights of our first nations. When I hear Premier Bourassa say that the first nations will not stop seven million Quebeckers from getting what they want -- ie, more hydroelectric power to either utilize or sell -- it worries me because I see a fundamental contradiction. Quebec is asking for more sovereignty but at the same time it seems to have difficulty acknowledging the sovereignty of our first nations, which certainly laid claim to this land far before the French and English. Perhaps you can enlighten me.

Dr Laforêt: Yes, I will try. First of all, I think you are wrong. This is not the first Quebec viewpoint you have heard. I say this half-jokingly but with some serious motives. You had a very legitimate, very refreshing and, for me, very rejoicing Quebec viewpoint this morning coming from the Italian, Jewish and Greek representatives of these multicultural communities. Although they and I are not in full agreement on all points, it would be impossible for me to say these were not legitimate spokespersons of substantive parts of Quebec making a presentation. This being said, let me move to the native question.

I have travelled in all of the Canadian provinces. I have been in Kenora, in Calgary, in Winnipeg and in most parts of these towns on evenings such as Friday nights and Saturday nights. I have been to the north of your province and to the northwest as well. I say very bluntly, as a Québécois, that I have as well my concerns with regard to the ability of the Canadian political system to take care of the alienation of the native populations and to address the very important grievances they have. So the first part, in a sense, of my response is a negative one, or one that sidesteps the issue. I am telling you that people who should be ashamed of the way they have and do treat the aboriginal peoples are present in all parts of Canada. Quebec is no different -- no better but no worse. Let me insist on the "no worse."

If you take care of the facts, and you look at the percentage of people who are in the jails of Canadian provinces, the province where the percentage of natives is at the lowest is Quebec. If you look at economic indicators, you will see that the degree of deprivation, of marginalization, of the natives is less important in Quebec than in any other province where there are comparable populations. Quebec is also the only province -- maybe Ontario has just done it and I know there is some movement on the Ontario front, but the second Lévesque government recognized openly in the laws of Quebec that these were nations. We recognized them as nations. The Canadian Constitution does not. To my recollection, no provincial government recognizes them as nations. Quebec is the only one that recognizes them as nations. So I think that when you look at facts, Quebec, on the whole, should be ashamed of a number of things but not as much as what you intended to carry across.

On the issue of hydro power, and I will conclude with this one, this is undeniably an extremely complex one. I am not going to try to defend all the political positions and the viewpoints of either the Premier or the government of Quebec. But I am going to say this: The native populations of northern Quebec, the Cree and the Inuit in particular, are desperately trying to find a way to reconcile tradition and modernity. It is not easy and it will not be easy. Trying to forcefully buy them off with $250 million in order to have a hydroelectric project will not work. I think those who advise the Premier of Quebec and his ministers, when they suggest just utilitarian solutions, when they try to bulldoze the Cree and the Inuit in northern Quebec, are making tremendous mistakes.

On the other hand, I also know, and the native leaders are aware of this, that natives play a very important strategic role in the current constitutional crisis. They are quite aware of the sense of guilt and the way in which it can be used by those who want to stall the new deal between Quebec and Canada. I think this strategic utilization of the native issue by those who want to prevent a deal with Quebec must be named for what it is -- a political plot. I think the natives are aware of that. They are no fools and they are quite aware that some people are using them from the Quebec side, trying to hurt them from the Quebec side, but it is the same thing on the Canadian side. It is realist politics that are being played out there and I think the natives are aware of that. I will stop there.

Mr Winninger: Just so I am not entirely on a negative note, I do acknowledge that the Quebec Charter of Rights is highly regarded and has many protections that our federal Charter of Rights lacks. I hope there will be some protection for individual and collective rights in that charter if Quebec does devolve further than it has to date.

The Acting Chair: Thank you for coming before the committee. Your challenging remarks are going to cause a great deal of debate, I am sure, as we look at the material you have put before us. Thank you for coming so far to be before us this day.

The subcommittee is now going to go and meet in committee room 1, where we will have a lunch meeting. The committee will adjourn until 2 o'clock this afternoon.

The committee recessed at 1241.


The committee resumed at 1413.

The Acting Chair: I would like to call the committee to order. First on the agenda we have the Canadian Council on Social Development. I would ask for the deputants to come forward and sit at the table. I cannot say how happy I am as Chair to have the Canadian Council on Social Development before us. I have spent a number of years working in conjunction with many of the members of that organization and it is a great privilege to have them here today. I wonder if you could please give us your names and tell us a bit about the organization you come from.


Mr Johnston: I will certainly do that. Thank you to the committee members, for the invitation to be here today. My name is Patrick Johnston. I am executive director of the Canadian Council on Social Development. With me today is Dick Weiler, a policy associate with the council. Dick has done much of our work in the social justice area and has been the lead person on our social rights strategy, about which he will speak a little later.

We have not brought with us a formal submission at this point, although we do have and will table with the clerk what we are calling notes for our presentation this afternoon, the reason being primarily that I assumed the position of executive director only on August 1 and I have been out of Ottawa on the road for about the last five days, so I am still getting up to speed a bit on the council, and this dossier in particular. That is one of the reasons.

The other reason is that we are also in the process, as I think are a lot of organizations, of developing our position with respect to some of the constitutional issues, and quite frankly we are waiting to see in particular what is in the federal government's document, because we really believe that will give us something specific and concrete. We are keeping a number of issues in front of us. We are looking at the development of a number of issues, but we have not yet developed a specific position, which again is part of the reason we have not submitted a formal presentation today. We have in the past tabled with you, though, some of the information we have developed on social rights strategy.

Just briefly, the Canadian Council on Social Development was founded in 1920. It is one of the oldest Canadian voluntary organizations. It was founded by Charlotte Whitton, actually, before she went on to involvement in municipal politics. It was started as the Canadian Council on Child Welfare. Over the course of the last 70 some years, it has expanded its focus to provide an independent, non-governmental focus, and critique to some extent, on a whole range of social policy issues, primarily issues that fall within the jurisdiction of the federal government. In addition to child welfare, we now look at a range of issues which includes income security, child care, employment policy, some law and social development issues, housing and on and on.

It is a non-profit organization based in Ottawa. It consists of a large board of governors and volunteers from across the country who provide us with input from a range of groups and sectors they are involved with. We also have an organization membership of close to 2,000 now, which consists of individuals and organizations, mostly social service and social policy organizations across the country that use us to some extent to try to get some understanding of what is going on in the federal arena that may impact on the work they are doing at a grass-roots level. That is a bit about the council.

More specifically in terms of the issue we would like to speak to today, the invitation asked us in particular to talk about social and economic rights, and we will do that, but we want to broaden our focus. In terms of the work it has done, the council has had an ongoing involvement in constitutional issues. In fact, I think as far back as 1941 we made a submission to the Rowell-Sirois commission, the Royal Commission on Dominion-Provincial Relations at the time, and since then we have kept abreast of a range of constitutional issues, because of course issues in the Constitution and surrounding the constitutional debate are not simply dry, arcane discussions that do not have any impact on the lives of Canadians. They have a very real impact on the lives of Canadians. They have a very real impact, perhaps even more so, on the lives of vulnerable Canadians, which is why we have always tried to keep abreast of constitutional issues.

In 1980 we made a submission to the special joint committee at the time, and we were one of the only organizations, if not the only organization at that time, 11 years ago, that was talking about social and economic rights and using that opportunity, the repatriation of the Constitution, to think about the possibility, the merits of entrenching social and economic rights in the Constitution. There was not nearly as much interest in that possibility in 1980 as there is today, so we are pleased at the advance, although obviously unhappy it has taken so long.

More recently, however, the council has developed what we call a social rights strategy and I would like to ask Dick Weiler now if he could speak briefly about the social rights strategy.

Mr Weiler: As Patrick has indicated, we have, as an organization, a long-term commitment in the area of social and economic rights, calling on the United Nations law that we believe we are somewhat committed to, through history, in many areas of social and economic rights. We have tried to fold that into our thinking and our policymaking activity over the course of the years.

After the charter and the reality of the litigation process that took place in Canada, and some other experiences, the council decided a few years ago that we should embark on a long-term social rights strategy. That strategy essentially is composed of a charter of rights which we have taken directly from the international bill and reworded and fixed a bit. It is a generic statement dealing with standard of living, social security, health, education and employment. It is a very simple document. We took that and developed this position. We also argued that we should start looking at particular social policy issues, ie, child poverty, and draw on international law in that context for the purpose of enhancing the debate and the understanding, if you will, of those particular policy issues.

What we were trying to do and what we continue to try to do is encourage our voluntary sector colleagues to use these perspectives as new windows on the policymaking process. We have conveyed this interest to many of the national and regional and community organizations. We are hoping not only to go ahead with the charter, but to have these produced in poster form to do a number of things: to teach people where and how international law comes from, and what it means, for example, to think of progressivity, which is not necessarily something we determine in court but something that gives one a sense of direction and is very much at the heart of international law, as many of us understand the international law and our commitments therein.


The reasons for our embarking on this strategy were numerous. A few perhaps would be helpful here.

We were concerned that the policymaking process, at least at the national level, was getting very testy. While the courts were dealing with certain cases, governments were tending to pull back and draw back on social commitments that we believed had been committed to by the country and by provincial governments through many of the international statements that many of you know about. We were concerned about that.

We were concerned about the fact that the voluntary sector was increasingly being almost scapegoated at the national level for raising problems and raising concerns of poverty and so on, and we thought that by opening up something like a charter, we would in effect be encouraging all the players in the country, private and public sectors, to recognize that we had made such commitments to a reasonable standard of living, to housing and so on, and thereby change the dynamic in the environment and in policymaking over the course of this decade. That was another reason.

We were concerned because we noted that in the United Nations system, in monitoring countries, states that have agreed to certain international laws, being monitored by the voluntary sector was an increasing trend, and therefore we felt that as a Canadian organization in the voluntary sector, we should encourage more and more of that form of participation. As many of you know, the UN system is beginning, for example, to question the very way in which we account for our adherence to such matters as an adequate standard of living.

There has been some questioning of our income security programs. Recently, when the UN committee has looked at the level of poverty and the level of income security, that kind of questioning has gone on. We felt that as a voluntary organization we should become more actively involved in that.

Finally, there is the European experience, wherein you have a social-rights-driven agenda, as they move towards the harmonization of their economic policies, hoping, as I understand it, to achieve as high a quality of living as they can. This seemed to be a process that was very foreign to what we are experiencing in Canada, some of us perhaps feeling that our social agenda has been delayed or stopped or slowed down, given the reality of the follow-up on the subsidy notions and such matters under the free trade agreement. So we were of the view that something that would bring a consciousness of social rights to the policymaking process in Canada would be helpful.

I close by mentioning that when we developed this -- this was a couple of years back -- we did not see this as a position paper, a charter that we were suggesting be entrenched in the new Constitution. At that time, this was not being discussed, so we saw it as a non-litigious document, something that would just enhance the nature of the argument and support for arguments in the area of social reform. It is for that reason, as Patrick has indicated, that we are now revisiting this whole process as we look at the constitutional reform experience.

Mr Johnston: I know your time is limited this afternoon, so we want to keep our comments fairly brief and leave time for questioning. In a sense I suppose I am going to wrap up by leaving you with two or three main messages. This will expand a bit on what we call our notes, and again we will table them with the clerk, wherein we follow the lead of your interim report and we pose a number of questions, because we do believe it is important that we are all comfortable with the answers to a good number of those questions before we proceed too quickly. Let me just leave you with two or three main points guiding the continuing work that the Canadian Council on Social Development will be doing.

The first is that with regard to those groups like ours, this body or any others that have an interest in social and economic rights, we certainly are going to and we would urge others to continue to give definition to the concept of social and economic rights, but they must be social and economic rights that are meaningful and have effect. It may very well be that the council will decide and that this committee may recommend the entrenchment in the Constitution of some statement of social and economic rights or a social charter. We do not know, and this may be the time to do that, but the point we would like to leave with you is that we have to be careful we do not become lulled into feeling that any statement of social and economic rights will be a panacea.

There is still a range of other very complex, difficult, thorny issues that need to be addressed that will affect social policy and social programs and will affect the beneficiaries of those programs. We have to be careful that we do not believe that simply by a statement about social and economic rights, all is well necessarily.

Some tough questions have to be answered. For example, are we at a point in our evolution where we can define, where we can actually measure and enforce something like the right to adequate income and the right to employment? This is a developmental stage and we have to be careful we are not simply endorsing and embracing what ultimately may become nothing more than a hollow principle.

Second, another important question I think we, and you certainly as legislators, have to answer is, to what extent are we, or you, comfortable with the judiciary deciding what constitutes a social and economic right? To what extent are you, as legislators, comfortable with turning over that responsibility to a group of non-elected officials? Those are two of a number of very difficult questions we still need to answer, especially those of us who are advocating the development of social and economic rights.

As some of you may know, I was senior policy adviser to the Social Assistance Review Committee, SARC, and in the course of our work we tried to gather whatever statements of principles may have existed about social assistance programs and income security programs. What we found to our surprise was that there were a number of very good, eloquent statements of principles about the right to an adequate standard of living and decency, but the statement of a principle did not necessarily mean that principle was achieved in reality. That is the one caution. As an organization supportive of social and economic rights, we have to be careful we not embrace a concept that has no meaning other than nice words on paper.

The second point I leave you with is that we also have to keep sight of the fact that there is a whole host of other pieces to this puzzle in addition to social and economic rights. The issue in the debate that perhaps may be the most difficult for our organization and a number of others revolves around the whole issue of what sometimes is called "disentanglement" or "restructuring," but those are all buzzwords for decentralization from the federal to provincial governments.

It is almost a bit trendy now to support the idea of decentralization. I think, though, we should be very careful. I happened to sit down a week or two ago with one of the Group of 22 -- you may recall they submitted a report, a group of eminent Canadians -- who really did talk about wholesale decentralization. I probed this person in particular in terms of some of their thinking behind their call for a fairly wholesale decentralization for health care, social services and income security programs from the federal to the provincial governments. I frankly was quite worried that I did not get the sense from this person that they had done a whole lot of very serious thinking about how, in practice, this was going to work. What theoretically may have looked nice on paper, I was not convinced they had thought through in terms of what the practical implications would be.

It is almost trendy to criticize the involvement of the federal government, but I think we must be very careful we do not throw the baby out with the bathwater. There may very well be opportunities. There have been in our history examples where the role of the federal government has been a very positive one. There are certainly examples where it has been a negative one, but let's make sure we distinguish and do not, to repeat myself, throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Another issue that is fundamentally important concerns fiscal arrangements, the agreements between the federal and provincial governments about how the money is spent and how the money is raised. Ultimately it may be that decisions made about the revenue generation capacity of one level of government relative to another will have far more effect, or as much effect, on the outcome, on the impact on the social infrastructure, on social services and social programs and health care programs, than any change to the Constitution.

We are especially concerned right now because this is a very complex issue that many Canadians and Ontarians do not know much about, but it is fundamentally important. We understand there are discussions between the federal and provincial ministers of finance and treasurers going on, and have been for some time, behind closed doors. There is very little access for the public to those discussions to have any sense of what it is that is being proposed. I guess I would just ask you, or hope this committee might ask, if you know where your Treasurer is and what your Treasurer is up to and what he is talking about with his fellow treasurers.


Finally, we think, too, that we should not ignore the possibility of some other changes, revisions, to constitutional provisions outside the charter. I was struck in particular by a submission I believe you have heard already from the Committee of Persons with Disabilities on the Constitution, who made a proposal for an addition to section 36 of the Constitution with respect to equalization. It would in effect, as I read their submission, try and give meaning and effect to that section of the Constitution that really does say some good things about the commitment of the Parliament and legislatures of Canada to providing essential public services, and for the Parliament of Canada to ensure the provinces have access to revenue that would provide for a reasonably comparable level of public services at a reasonably comparable level of taxation.

There is much in there that perhaps we can use. I am not a lawyer, but that issue is generally considered not to be justiciable or to be enforceable in law, but that is not to say we cannot try and give it that force or impact.

I would like to close now by leaving you with basically three or four conclusions. First off is that the council will certainly, and we encourage others to, continue to promote discussion about social and economic rights. There is much merit in the international agreements to which Canada is a signatory, which define a range of social and economic rights, but that the task is not simply to endorse or support them. The task is to give them meaning, to give them effect so they can be enforceable, so that they will be meaningful and will have effect.

The second thing is that we should not neglect some of the other pieces of the constitutional issue: decentralization and the fiscal arrangements, which in effect is a kind of decentralization. A number of the other issues have to be addressed as well as the issue of social and economic rights.

Third, we will certainly be wary, and we encourage other people, especially groups that are supportive of social and economic rights, to be wary of any proposal that may come from the federal government or any other source that essentially involves a tradeoff. We will be wary of any proposal that promotes or talks about decentralization of health care, social services or income security in return for entrenching something called the social charter or social and economic rights, unless we are convinced that the statement, the definition, of rights has meaning and effect.

Finally, we will certainly, and encourage this committee and others to, look at any proposals that come forth and support them if they will really mean an improvement in the range of human services, in social and health care services, and in the delivery and the level of those services available for the people for whom they are intended. At the very least, we do not want the status quo or at least the ultimate resolution of these issues to be any worse than the situation is at present.

The Acting Chair: Thank you for your very fine presentation. We have three questioners and I believe we have about 10 minutes.

Mr Harnick: We have had a number of witnesses now who have talked about a social charter. One of the elements of making a social charter meaningful appears to be the ability to enforce it. The consensus seems to be, and I think quite rightly, that it is not something that should find its way into the courts, that social policy is not a matter for courts to determine. We have been given a couple of models of enforcement that are loose mechanisms of enforcement, models that would essentially embarrass a government into doing what should be done or what is recommended, or it is not going to get elected next time. Have you in the course of your work developed any models, or do you see taking existing political institutions and modifying them as your mechanism of enforcement of the social charter?

Mr Johnston: With many of our colleagues -- at this point some 43 national volunteer organizations -- we have explored the whole question of the governmental institutions or non-government institutions dealing with this very matter. The general experience to date has been that if these proposals were developed through the Senate, reformed council of regions or whatever mechanism we know of, that would be fine. I think there is a general sense government should have some role in that area with respect to the national concerns. But there is also strong support for an idea -- and it is not formulated in final terms -- whereby the voluntary organizations would perhaps come together in a way that would allow them to take collective responsibility for not just the watchdog role, which is an important one, but also the general public educational role.

The feeling is that this responsibility should not be solely in the hands of government or the judiciary, but that the voluntary sector, of which we are part, should be much more actively involved in explaining what it is we are committed to and how well we are doing, whether it be poverty rates and how well we are doing with income security or whatever, that we all do bits and pieces of that as part of our traditional mandate.

There is a sense that we could collectively do a much better job in that field, and thereby do something many of us feel is lacking in this whole process, and that is empower -- a word some of us use too often -- the public in this process so there would be an ability for the public to watch how well we are doing, say, with respect to dealing with child poverty, a notion that many national organizations, as you know, have taken up as a cause and are arguing, "We're going to get rid of child poverty by the year 2000."

The follow-up to that is, how well will we do in making sure the public know how well we are doing as we move on? It is that kind of example that illustrates a more fundamental commitment that I think is developing among many of our colleagues. We hope to play a facilitator role in encouraging continued discussion in that regard to see what type of collaborative arrangements might be developed in a non-government context.

Mr Harnick: In the course of your study, have you looked at any jurisdictions that have any social charter with an enforcement model attached to it?

Mr Johnston: Again, I am fairly new to this dossier and some I am still learning as I go, but I have a sense that in many cases Canada would be in the vanguard of advancing and developing the whole notion of a social charter of social and economic rights. There has been a lot of discussion in Europe, as you know, about a European social charter, but it is my understanding that still is at a very initial stage of development. One of the issues they are debating there is the extent to which their definition, their charter, is enforceable.

We are starting to see the emergence in international law in isolated cases, of some examples where the UN resolution on social, economic and cultural rights has started to be interpreted in individual countries and used as the basis for a decision by the judiciary in those countries, but it is being done on a somewhat ad hoc basis in individual countries. I have had some discussions with two law professors at the University of Toronto who may have appeared already before the committee, Craig Scott and Patrick Macklen, who have done some varied work on that issue and are more cognizant, certainly, than I am. So there is some, but as I say I think we would be in the vanguard.


Mrs Y. O'Neill: As usual, Patrick, you have asked more than you have answered. I think that is part of your style.

Mr Johnston: That is right.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Good. I just want to pose one question to you, really. You did name guaranteed income, guaranteed employment, and then you mentioned also child poverty. I see the challenges in implementation, enforcement, whatever you want to call it. I only have one small experience with guaranteed employment and that was when I visited East Germany. The quality of life in some of those jobs was much less than desirable. Of course, there are a whole lot of repercussions to this all right now, even to the point of mental health in the new Germany.

I wonder if you could expand on the list of things you feel would need to be included in a charter.

Mr Johnston: I think as a council -- I will ask maybe Dick to pick up on this as well -- we have tended to use as our guide the UN and international statements and definitions, and certainly the UN covenant on social, economic and cultural rights that details a number of what we would classify as social and economic as opposed to civil and political rights.

Frankly, I think that in an exercise we as a country or as a province would have to go through, we would have to look at the extent to which we would want to start -- if we felt the route to go was to move in the direction of incorporating a statement in the Constitution, whether it is in a preamble or in the text, about social and economic rights, we would have to try to make some judgements about how feasible it would be to try and encompass and incorporate all the defined social and economic rights as they are articulated in the international documents, or whether we might decide that it is better to try to identify two or three specific social and economic rights and incorporate them and build on them. I guess the question, and it is a strategic question is, is it better to try for half a loaf than the whole loaf if you think the alternative might be no loaf at all? Maybe Dick can speak a bit more about some of the specific statements of rights.

Mr Weiler: Out of the international bills, we drew statements -- we have reorganized them a bit -- that we felt provided, if you will, a generic framework of social rights as we understand them in the country, dealing with the statement on standard of living, which has been identified; social security, which is defined in a fairly generalized way in the international world; health services; education; and employment -- this is employment with respect to the right to work and reasonable conditions of work, not guaranteed employment quite the way East Germany has dealt with that right, as I understand it. Then couch that with the range of human rights protections that are, again, provided for in the international bill.

That is the generic framework we pulled out. There are many areas for very specific interests, be they child care or whatever, that are reflected in other pieces of international law, but as Patrick has said, we felt that even in a non-litigious environment, it is important to get the framework out and then build on it.

A challenge we have been looking at is the reality that if you were to entrench either a few or a half or the full loaf of bread into the Constitution, you run into a bit of a question and a concern. We at the council, as some of you perhaps know, have run the court challenges program through its first five years, and it went very well. One of the realities that occurs, though, is that if you look at the social priorities in a country against the kinds of issues that you can bring before the court, if the court becomes the body that determines how these rights are to be played out, you can run into a situation where there is some inconsistency betwixt what one might select to be the social priorities of the time and those that are getting attention through the courts, not just because of the way the legal process works. That is just one more area where we have to think through carefully what it would be we would start with.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Have you paid attention to that in your paper?

Mr Weiler: There is a mention of it, but we will be developing that in much more considerable detail as we move along.

The Acting Chair: Mr Bisson, we are actually into overtime, so if you could be brief, I would appreciate it.

Mr Bisson: That could be difficult. It is a long answer, but I will make it as short a question as possible. When you talk about the question of protection of rights, you sort of reflected as to, "Are we better off to try to protect those rights by utilizing the courts through something like the charter, which is the case now, or would we be better off the way it was before with regard to legislators, who at one point are answerable to the people back home, putting forward that agenda?"

There are all kinds of examples we could draw on by which a charter was utilized to actually take away rights from individuals. We look at the recent court decision with regard to the advertising of cigarettes, the decision that was done in regard to election finances, the regulations. Just give some thought to that and share it with me if you can, because it is something I am trying to come to terms with as a member of this committee. What kind of mechanisms are possible to try to strike a balance between that? There is a very strong argument why you need to have a charter, yet it does infringe on the rights of individuals in many cases, if people have the money to challenge it.

Mr Johnston: You have asked a short question that begs a very long and detailed answer, but I will try to respond briefly.

We would not want to suggest that the experience with the Canadian Charter of Rights has been a negative one by any means. We believe there have been many positive outcomes to the charter, but I think it is fair to say that there have been some not-so-positive outcomes to the charter as well.

Frankly, I am speaking in a sense personally here. I believe that legislators, in conjunction with the public, should go as far as they can to define and articulate what a social or an economic or any right that might be entrenched in the Constitution is, so that there is as little room as possible for the judiciary to interpret what that means. In theory, that makes a lot of sense. In practice, I know it is much more difficult. I think that if legislators were simply to endorse a very general statement talking about social and economic rights that gave no direction at all to the judiciary, it would be almost an abdication of responsibility that could, depending on who was sitting on the bench at any point in time, have very positive results, or could have disastrous results. In that case it might almost be better not to talk about the further entrenchment of rights in the Constitution. Again, that is a personal position, but I think it is one that a number of other people are struggling with as well.

Mr Weiler: I support that. I would say that would be the case of many who have been very much involved with the charter, as I am sure you are aware through the litigation experience of the last number of years, and who are still very committed to that process.

But now when we take the full range of social and economic rights, much of the social glue of our society would be dealt with in a manner similar to what we have gone through with the elements of the existing charter. I think a lot of our colleagues are concerned about the need to have much more parity, as you are indicating; it is difficult to have that. The courts do find ways to use discretion and find new ways of interpreting the law. That is reality, and it is sometimes very good. As you probably know, some people are now trying, through section 7, to find a way of recognizing the security of the person, that in fact that should in part relate to the economic rights of an individual. Some would find that a very positive move. But the creative use of the court can be very unpredictable.

The Acting Chair: Mr Weiler, Mr Johnston, I thank you very much for coming before the committee. I also might take this opportunity on behalf of the committee to congratulate you, Mr Johnston, on taking over the role as executive director. I look forward to hearing more from the CCSD in the future.



The Acting Chair: I would ask the Alliance for the Preservation of English in Canada to please come forward. Good afternoon, gentlemen. On behalf of the committee, I want to thank you for coming to Queen's Park to make your presentation today. I would ask you before we begin to give an introduction and say who you are representing.

Mr Leitch: My name is Mr Ron Leitch. I am the national president of the Alliance for the Preservation of English in Canada. With me today is Mr Bill Bolt, who is the national vice-president of the organization.

I would like first of all to thank you for the opportunity of appearing before the committee today and making a presentation on these constitutional matters. You have asked us in our presentation to stress the language issue, and this we have done. But there are also some very fundamental issues in connection with the democratic process in consideration of the building of Canada as a nation on which we feel compelled to comment.

The Acting Chair: Could I ask, Mr Leitch, if you have a copy of your address?

Mr Leitch: I have some copies here. I am not reading from it because of time constraints. I am trying to summarize as I go along, but what I am saying is in my brief, which is available to the members.

The Acting Chair: Thank you for that. You know, of course, that you will be given half an hour. We hope you will leave some time in that period so that we may ask questions.

Mr Leitch: My instructions were 45 minutes, of which some would be presentation and some would be questions. That is what it says in my invitation to appear.

The Acting Chair: Does it? Okay. Please proceed.

Mr Leitch: Perhaps I might just as briefly as I can give you a little background on this organization. It was formed in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1977 under the Societies Act of that province and subsequently got a letters patent of incorporation from the federal government in 1987. The organization has been in continuous operation since that time. In September of this year we will be completing 14 years of service to the English-speaking people of this country. In all that time, APEC has never asked for or received a government grant of any description. This organization has been sustained in all that period of time by the donations of its members.

The membership now is around 42,000, from every province of Canada and the territories. It is made up of people from practically every ethnic background in this country. Many of our members are multilingual -- certainly many of them are bilingual -- and the membership comes from practically all walks of life.

The organization was formed with one issue in mind, and that was official bilingualism. We are opposed to government grants, to governments creating an artificial need for the use of the French language. We are opposed to enforced bilingualism. We are opposed to the discrimination that flows from the implementation of those government policies, which we find not only discriminatory but divisive and destructive.

In Canada, where we have some 50 or more ethnic groups, we are really a multicultural society. As such, language for government is not a matter of culture; it is a matter of communication. The government must speak in one language to all people. When we use the words "official languages," we mean the language of government and its institutions.

APEC has always supported the right of every individual in this country to the language of his or her choice in matters of business, social, fraternal and religious activities. Governments interfere at their peril with the private and personal language rights of the individual. This is why we have taken a very strong stand against Bill 101 and Bill 178 of the province of Quebec, because they interfere with the rights of individuals to choice of language in their private lives.

APEC is not a special-interest group. Special-interest groups are "gimme" groups, "Give me money, give me recognition, give me special status" or give me anything else that one may think of. APEC members have never, ever asked for anything for themselves. Members are individuals who are concerned citizens, whose main interest is people, democracy and country. We love our country and we want it to exist as a country from coast to coast and sea to sea. We want to enjoy the democratic freedoms that history and tradition have given to us. Canada is rich and noble in its history and traditions. We have many national institutions, of which parliamentary democracy and the jury system are just two, and although they have their British origins, they have a distinctive Canadian flavour.

An attempt has developed over the last few decades to deny our historical roots and traditions. Politicians, I might say, have led the parade of those who would deny Canada's roots. They appear to act at times as if there was no past on which to build, no history, no tradition; everything begins here, today.

APEC is concerned about democracy, because sometimes we feel that politicians give the impression that democracy is a devolution and not an evolution. It devolves on the people from the top. True democracy can be summed up in the words, "We, the people." It is an evolution from the grass roots up to the government. True democracy can only come when we have effective control of government by the people.

APEC is concerned about people, because people make up the nation. The basic building blocks of nations are individuals, not groups. Canada grew and developed as a nation as a result of individual efforts. To attain national unity, there must be a harmonious relationship between individuals making up the nation. To develop this harmonious relationship --

Mrs Marland: Excuse me, I am sorry to interrupt you, Mr Leitch, but it would be helpful for me -- I notice you are reading.

Mr Leitch: No, I am not really.

Mrs Marland: Is it possible to have your brief? It would be helpful to me.

Mr Leitch: I thought perhaps the clerk would have distributed it.

Mrs Marland: I have it. Thank you. You are making some very profound statements and it would be easier for me to read it.

The Vice-Chair: At this point the clerk will distribute copies of the brief.

Mrs Marland: Thank you. I apologize for interrupting.

The Vice-Chair: I have just been advised by the clerk that there are not enough of them, so he will make some copies and bring them in to the committee. You can carry on with your presentation.

Mr Leitch: To develop this harmonious relationship, the Constitution must treat all individuals equally. There must be an equality of status and rights for individuals. It is individuals, not groups, to whom the Constitution must speak.

What is a constitution? When one hears such statements as "distinct society," "special status," "women's rights," "aboriginal rights" being necessary to constitutional change, it is quite obvious that little thought has been given to the nature of the document itself.

The Oxford dictionary speaks of it as the fundamental principles on which people consent to be governed. It will therefore contain the framework to which all laws must conform and to which all policies of government must adhere.

One of the first principles of a constitution is that it is a people's document. As a people's document, it is the people who must decide what its content will be.

A second fundamental principle is the equality of status and rights for all people, and special status for none. When we talk about people in this sense, we are talking about individuals, not the collectivity of groups. As a people document, no person would consent to a Constitution which makes him a second-class citizen. Special status for any person or group necessarily creates second-class citizens.


The year 1982 was a watershed for fundamental political change in Canada. From 1867 up to 1982, the people of Canada enjoyed a personal freedom second to none in the world. Parliament was always supreme, but subject to the elected representatives' control, they in turn being subject to the control of the people. The role of the Supreme Court of Canada was one of interpreting laws which were passed. If we did not like what the court said, we as people had the right to press Parliament for remedial legislation.

All this changed in 1982. The personal freedom of the individual was restricted to those freedoms set out in the charter, and even then subject to the limitations that governments may impose. The Supreme Court of Canada reigns supreme over Parliament. Parliament no longer has the right to enact remedial legislation which is in the best interests of the individual. You only need to look at the decision with respect to tobacco advertising to understand what I am trying to say there.

If we look carefully at Canada's constitutional problems, many of them stem from the passing of the Constitution Act in 1982. It was legally enacted. It is binding in all provinces, including Quebec. Many people think our constitutional problems were created because Quebec was left out, but that is not true. It constitutes a political red herring which can be characterized as a lie. It is true that this kind of thinking led to the Meech Lake accord and to the humiliation the Canadian people suffered at the hands of their politicians when it failed.

Canada's constitutional problems occurred because there was no consultation with the people. Fundamental change was made in our constitutional direction without a mandate from the people.

Are we a democracy or are we not? Is it sufficient for a political party to pay lipservice to the words "democratic process"? For years now, the democratic process has ended at the ballot box for Canadians. The overdevelopment of the party system has meant the people have no control over their representative once he or she is elected.

It is a fundamental principle of parliamentary democracy that no Parliament should pass important legislation, leave alone constitutional change, on which the people have not given a mandate. Mandates are given at election time, where new policies must be specifically outlined. Mandates are not given through opinion polls.

In our opinion, the Constitution Act, 1982, should be repealed so that true and effective freedom can be restored to all individuals and to eliminate the collective rights of a few, which is repugnant to a constitutional document of the people.

With respect to a Canada clause, we do not see any need for a Canada clause. If we adhere to the fundamental principles of equality of status and rights for all people, the Canada clause in the preamble dealing with specific groups of people would be an unacceptable appendage. It is a contradiction to the fundamental principle.

The Charter of Rights is included in the Constitution Act, 1982, and so when we call for its repeal, we also call for the repeal of the Charter of Rights. We prefer the greater freedoms we had under our Constitution of 1867. Under that system, while Parliament could take away people's freedoms by legislation, it is not something politicians would do lightly since they must face the electorate in a few years' time. Freedom, once removed, can be restored by a subsequent Parliament.

Today, once the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled limiting individual freedom or limiting the right of Parliament to legislate, there is no appeal. That decision remains for all time unless we abolish the Charter of Rights.

We say the same thing about a charter of economic and social rights. These matters are always in a state of flux. Needs may change from group to group and place to place. There is a continuing need for review and adjustment. All these matters are better dealt with by legislation from time to time as necessary. Flexibility of action is what is required, not constitutional rigidity. I think to some extent your previous speaker indicated to you that this was a concern of his, or theirs.

Federal and provincial governments: We do not have an expertise on the matter of division of powers, and we are therefore not making any recommendations in that respect, but before these powers can be dealt with, people must decide what kind of Constitution they want, what kind of federation they want.

APEC's viewpoint is that Canada is one nation and one people from sea to sea. Canada is one geographic mass from sea to sea to sea, without the right of secession of any of its parts. For Canada to be a nation there must be a strong central government.

Section 91 of the British North America Act says, "It shall be lawful for the Queen, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons, to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Canada." That is the power a country requires to make it a nation. This is the power that should be given to the government of Canada.

The late Dr Eugene Forsey said, "Over and over again the `Canadian' Fathers of Confederation, French, English, Irish, Scotch, declared emphatically that they were creating a new nation." The same statements were made in the debates by John A. Macdonald and by George Etienne Cartier, that there was one nation. In fact, Mr Cartier says, "Now, when we were united together, if union were obtained, we would form a political nationality with which neither the national origin, or the religion of any individual, would interfere."

It is the deviation from these principles and vision that has caused Canada's constitutional problems.

The relationship between provinces and the Dominion should be symmetrical. There must be equality of status between provinces. In no other way can we maintain Canada as a nation.

There are some things which we feel are absolutely essential to nationhood. One of these is the matter of communications. Communications cannot be broken down. We cannot have 10 communication centres or jurisdictions, but only one. We can only have one immigration policy. Therefore, these should be national.

Because of the disparity in population and income from area to area and region to region, there are probably some social and economic matters which are better handled by a national government to ensure equality of status for all individuals wherever they may reside.


This organization has never at any time advocated the secession of Quebec, the notion of a separate Quebec. It is absolutely essential, however, if Canada is to remain a nation, that the people of Quebec must accept the fundamental principle of equality of status and rights for all people in the Constitution and that Canada itself is a distinct nation or society, whatever you want to call it, and that the people of Quebec are only part of that distinctiveness.

If the people of Quebec -- and I say "people," not "politicians," because at this moment we have only heard from politicians, not the people -- cannot accept the fundamental principle of equality of status and rights of individuals, then they will have to separate. Canada will never be free of its constitutional problems if Quebec refuses to agree that the same fundamental principles must apply to all people wherever they live in Canada.

There are some consequences which will flow of course from any decision by Quebec. The first and foremost is that the government of Canada should not allow Quebec to keep its present boundaries. I do not intend to go into this in any detail, but attached to the back of the brief is a document called Partition, which I draw your attention to, in which you will see what I am talking about when we say that the boundaries of Quebec cannot remain as they are today. I think Canadians would generally agree that if in fact there is no other solution, Quebec should be allowed to secede. I do not think they would accept the boundaries as they presently stand. In addition, there are other things which the government should make perfectly clear to Quebec: Sovereignty-association is unacceptable, there will be no common currency, no economic union and Quebec will be treated as a foreign nation with respect to all future relations between itself and Canada.

I have dealt at some length with the question of language, which begins on page 12 of the brief. What I am trying to summarize here for you is to look at Canada and ask ourselves, what is the language of Canada? Surely the primary language of Canada is English. Canada is an English-speaking country with a French-speaking region. Canada is not a bilingual country. "Official bilingualism" is a statement or phrase that was coined by government. Both the Official Languages Act and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms indicate that Canada is officially bilingual only for the purposes of the federal government and its institutions. That does not make Canada an officially bilingual country. If it were so, how is it possible for Quebec to declare itself unilingually French? The Official Languages Act, when first enacted, proved to be a discriminatory and destructive piece of legislation and very divisive for this country. In fact, I think if you look at the Spicer report, you will see that this is what Mr Spicer found all over this country, that it was social engineering.

The truth of the matter is that in the history of Canada there is no such thing as linguistic duality. English was the language of what are now the maritime provinces. At a very early period in our history, before the events on the Plains of Abraham in 1759, that area was looking for self-government. History shows us that whenever a country or geographic area becomes subject to the control of a foreign power, the language of that foreign power becomes the language of government and its institutions. How else can you account for the French language being the language of so many countries in Africa and the West Indies? In none of these geographic areas was French an indigenous language. The English language should spread in the same way. The development of French colonialism shows that this was part of the policy of the government, as I have set out in some detail in my brief.

What happened in Canada is or should be abundantly clear to anyone who examines the history without bias. After the defeat of the French on the Plains of Abraham in 1759 and the end of the Seven Years' War in Europe and the ceding by France of all its territories in what is now Canada, a fundamental change took place in the position of language in this country. There are no historical documents of any description from 1759 up until 1840 in which you will find the word "language" even used. That includes the Quebec Act of 1774. The Act of Union made English the official language of the United Canadas, Lower Canada and Upper Canada, when they were joined together as a province called Canada. English became the language not only of the province of Canada but, because of the legislation that took place at that time, English is the official language of Canada today because in fact it was the official language and there has never been any legislation passed which changes that position.

We are not endeavouring to indicate that there were no language difficulties during this period of time. Of course there were. There have always been language difficulties. The first major enactment with respect to language is in the British North America Act, 1867, which we now call the Constitution Act, 1867. Out of 147 sections in that act, only one section deals with language. I have set that section out in detail in my brief, but in essence what it says is this: Only the members of Parliament and the members in the Legislature of Quebec have the right or may use, have permission to use the French language in the debates. Then it goes on to say that certain records should be kept in both languages and that those are the languages of the Supreme Court of Canada and the courts of Quebec. There is nothing in here which says the civil service should be bilingual, nothing at all, not even the Quebec civil service. It is a permissive section. It is a section of limitation which says exactly where and when the French language can be used.

It has been claimed that the words "printed and published" include the word "enactment." There is nothing to show that laws need be enacted in the French language, but some people try to extend the use of the words "printed and published" to mean they have to be enacted. I challenge anyone to show me a dictionary which says that the word "enactment" is part of the definition of "printed and published."


The Acting Chair: Mr Leitch, if I just might interject for a moment, our agreement was for 30 minutes of presentation and 15 minutes for questions. I want to indicate to you that the 30 minutes is through at this point.

Mr Leitch: How much time, Mr Chairman?

The Acting Chair: The 30 minutes for the presentation are through. Take a couple of minutes, by all means, to wrap up, but we do need some time for questions.

Mr Leitch: There is much more on the question of language than that, but I would like to say only that in calling for the repeal of the Constitution Act, 1982, we are also calling for the repeal of that part of the act which applies to official bilingualism.

I ask you to note that Quebec English language rights have been practically destroyed by Bills 101 and 178 and the matter is going before the United Nations.

On Senate reform we have nothing to say other than that, in our opinion, it should be an elected Senate.

With regard to Supreme Court of Canada appointments, we think we have had some absolutely outstanding judges on the Supreme Court and we do not think it is necessary to change it.

On the process of public participation, we would ask the members to give consideration to the right of recall of a member where he votes in the Legislative Assembly or the Parliament in a manner which is contrary to the wishes of the majority of his constituents. Not only that, the people should be able to bring an initiative to the government and the government should be required to place that initiative before the people.

On the process of constitutional reform, we support a constituent assembly and we have set out in some detail what we consider to be the fundamentals with respect to a constituent assembly in any constitutional reform. We think that after there is a constituent assembly the matter should go before the people in the form of a referendum and that referendum of the people should be decided in accordance with the amending formula which would be in the Constitution.

If I might just be permitted to state what that amending formula is, from our point of view, first of all it is as a result of a referendum and the way in which to interpret the voting is a majority affirmative vote in favour of amendment in the total votes cast in the whole of Canada, provided there is a majority affirmative vote in a majority of the provinces, with the two territories being given the status of a province. In this way, the voting of the people as a whole can be given effect to and yet at the same time, when east and west feel the centre controls things, we are giving them some control over the constitutional amendments by saying it is not sufficient just to have an overall majority, but that majority must be in a majority of the provinces.

I would ask you to read the conclusions I have drawn here. Building a nation is not merely a question of putting aside differences. Building a nation is having a vision and establishing the basic principles to be used in attaining that vision. Building a nation is getting down to bedrock and building a structure utilizing the true building blocks of the nation, the individuals.

The Acting Chair: We have 11 minutes for questions.

Mr Curling: I know many of my colleagues would like to ask some questions so I will come directly to the question itself: Do you see language as a tool to imprison the thoughts and expressions of those people who do not speak English?

Mr Leitch: I think this country should do everything it can to facilitate the learning of the English language so that it does not become a problem to those people who come to our country. There are very few French-speaking people, if your question is directed in that regard, who do not speak the English language in this country. There may be a large block of them in the province of Quebec, but that does not exist in the rest of Canada.

Mr Curling: First nations people, aboriginal people do not speak English. You said one should accommodate that in teaching them English, not to encourage their language at all. Let me just make a quick comment on that. When you want to commit genocide against any people, you wipe out their religion, you take away their land, and one of the most effective ways is to take away their language. So would you say of those aboriginal people who do not speak English, that basically they had better learn English or they themselves will be the object of genocide, a wiped-out nation?

Mr Leitch: I do not agree with that. I think that if language is important to any individual he will retain it himself, he and the group and his people. They live together as a group. The vast majority of Indians today speak the English language. They do not constitute a problem in language in this country. The people who constitute the problem in language in this country are the French-speaking people who want to live in isolation, who want to be separate and distinct. They want to have a special status for themselves. That is not what this country is all about.

In a multicultural country there can be only one language which is the language of government. But the right of every individual to retain his language is a right that I will fight for as much as the right to have English as the language of government, so I do not accept your statements as being part of this organization's policies or way of thinking.

Mr Bisson: There are a number of questions I would like to get into. I would like to follow up on what Mr Curling was saying. If I understood you correctly, you were saying that the English language is not a problem with the native people because they all speak English, but the problem is with the French. Am I correct in assuming that basically is what you said?

Mr Leitch: I think most of our language problems today centre around the French-speaking people.

Mr Bisson: I was reading through your brief. On page 14 there is something very interesting. It talks about education in the French language, and according to some work that was done by your organization, I guess, the following was extrapolated: "When French was the language of instruction in education the result was that it became the language of the land and not just of government. The French Grande Encyclopédie in 1886 outlined the French strategy: `The best way to conquer the natives was not by overwhelming them with arms but by teaching them French. Innumerable French leaders have since candidly acknowledged the contribution of cultural programs to France's foreign policy.'"

Is not what you are advocating exactly the same as what you are arguing against in your own brief? Is there not a contradiction here?

Mr Leitch: I do not think so.

Mr Bisson: I see it as a contradiction.

Mr Leitch: The language is in fact established. The English language is the established language of this country. I say right in my brief that the English language spread in the same fashion. I know it spread in that fashion. That is the way languages change, and that is the way the country developed, but I cannot be faulted for what happened in 1759.


Mr Bisson: Unfortunately, you know, this is a little bit personal for me. Obviously, if you have not noticed, my name is Bisson. The thing is that I understand quite well the fears on the part of some of the people within this country to either the question of the French or the English language. I live in both of those communities quite well, being fluently bilingual. This is not to say that some of the things you advocate in your brief or that your group talks about are not based on some reality. There are some things out there that people have a problem with.

The problem I have is that what you are advocating is, to a certain extent -- I hate to use analogies, but it is the analogy of the father staying at home and saying: "Listen, you're going to do everything the way I tell you to. Don't ask me why because I'm Dad and you must listen to me, and I don't want you to express yourself. I don't want you to sit crooked. I want you to do exactly as I say and do as I do, but don't do as I say," or whatever the saying is.

I have a bit of a problem with that because it does not allow for the full development of the family, for the members of that family to develop according to their own capability, their own needs, their own wants. Surely, if we have learned something in this country, and if we could look at the experiences of other countries of what brought them to strife, racially or culturally or linguistically, it has been the suppression of those rights or the suppression of those feelings, nationalist feelings, within a country that has led to strife.

The one thing I have always prided myself on is that when my forefathers lost the battle on the Plains of Abraham, the good old King of England at the time said: "Listen, I don't want another Ireland on my hands, and I'll allow the French people to be able to develop within their own culture and within their own language, recognizing that they have a part to play in this nation. After all, they were there." There has always been an attempt on the part of the mainstream of our society to allow that to happen in a way that makes some sense.

What I have a hard time with in your brief is that you started off by saying you do not believe in the equality of women. You do not believe in the equality of the French language for the French people in this country. You do not believe in the equality of other minorities. There has to be room in this country for more than just one people, because there is a multitude of people.

Respond to me the best you can, because really I have a hard time. I understand where you are coming from because some of what you are saying is legitimate. People are nervous because of the economy. It is perceived as discrimination, or reverse discrimination, as it is called, and it is something we have to come to terms with, but surely we need to have room to be able to have this discussion among ourselves, to get this behind us.

Mr Leitch: I do not understand where you got this interpretation that we are against --

Mr Bisson: From your brief.

Mr Leitch: -- women's rights. I am not against women's rights. All I am saying is that they should not be in the Constitution. At the church I go to, starting this Sunday our rector is going to be a woman priest, and I am joyful that women priests are there.

Mr Bisson: But what you said at the beginning of your presentation was that women's rights --

Mr Leitch: That is not what the brief says. That is your interpretation of it. We do not stand in the way of the French-speaking people preserving their language if that is their wish, but they should do it at their own expense. We are not asking for any cultural setups for ourselves. What the French-speaking people are doing is asking the government to give them all of these things, and I say that is wrong.

Mr Bisson: I am not going to get into the debate with you, because obviously we have entrenched positions on both sides.

Mr Leitch: I am sure, but your interpretation of my brief is a very biased interpretation.

Mr Bisson: The ability you have, sir, is that you are able to protect your culture or whatever by virtue of your majority. That is the difference. In this province, I cannot protect my culture and my language by virtue of a majority. I need to have special provisions within the law to do so, and I would remind you that francophones and other people also pay taxes in this province in order to try to get some of the services we require as citizens. With that, I will give the word to somebody else.

Mr Leitch: What about the Greeks? Why are you not providing the kind of service you are providing for the French for all these other people?

Mr Bisson: Maybe we should.

Mr Leitch: German schools and that, you know.

The Acting Chair: Order, please.

Mr Leitch: It does not make sense.

The Acting Chair: The discussion has not been going through the Chair for the last few minutes. I would ask Mrs Marland to please ask her questions.

Mrs Marland: I must just say at the outset, Mr Leitch, that I have been in politics for 18 years and I am well aware of the process when different levels of government invite the public to come before them and give their opinions. I have never heard a presentation by your organization before, but frankly I view this brief as akin to hate literature. I am very concerned about some of the statements in this brief. I noticed that you very carefully skipped over, on page 13, halfway down, where you say, "We know now that not only do politicians exhibit the propensity to lie to the public, but the bureaucratic élite who put their plans into action are also liars."

Mr Leitch: I have given you an example of it.

Mrs Marland: Excuse me; I have not finished.

Mr Leitch: You interrupted me.

Mrs Marland: I beg your pardon?

Mr Leitch: I said you interrupted me some time ago.

Mrs Marland: I only interrupted you once and it was to get a printout of what it was you were saying. I feel personally, as someone elected by the public, that I am sitting here this afternoon feeling very bruised and battered. I feel that if your organization wants to be revisionist historians that is fine, but I do not feel that you can come to us and say to us as elected representatives of the public, "This is what we want but we must ignore the rest." That is not even being fair to politicians.

What I would suggest to you is that the reason we need special status for different groups with different interests and backgrounds is because their status has not existed officially. I am very upset by some of the statements you have in here, because frankly I think when you say you are willing to fight for different groups to retain their language, that is not what you are saying in your brief. You refer to the Official Languages Act as an example of "social engineering." I think those were the words you used. How can you describe the Official Languages Act of this country as social engineering and then talk about Canada being a nation from sea to sea?

There is not one of us sitting in this room who does not agree with you. Yes, we think this should be a nation from sea to sea, but I do not understand from your perspective how you can see that happening.

Your criticism of politicians: The truth of the matter is that politicians are elected. The public does have control over politicians at the polls. You even refer to the fact that they have to face re-election. You say that mandates are not given through opinion polls. I do not think realistically that any government acts or thinks it has a mandate through an opinion poll.

What I would like to know is how you feel your advocacy for English only is any better than the people whom you criticize who want some French. It is very difficult for me to understand where you are coming from.

Also, could you please explain -- you paint every politician and even the bureaucrats as liars -- what alternative do you have for a democratically elected government, provincially and federally? You say citizens have had no input on this subject. As far as I know, Bélanger-Campeau and Allaire and the Spicer reports were all from the public. They were not politicians. Perhaps if you could elaborate I might better understand what it is you are saying in your brief and what it is you just said in your final comments.

Mr Leitch: First of all, you said the Official Languages Act was not social engineering, but in my brief I quote, on the same page 13, Richard Gwyn, who was the writer of the book The Northern Magus, the biography of Trudeau. He says, "Bilingualism, in truth, was nothing less than a social revolution."


Mrs Marland: That is one opinion.

Mr Leitch: That is his opinion and it is my opinion too, and the opinions of millions of other people outside this room. It is their opinion that it was social engineering.

Mr Bolt: We can give you dozens of examples of the effect of this any time.

Mr Leitch: He lied about it. Richard Gwyn says right in there that Trudeau lied. "Massive change was about to happen.... Trudeau knew this all along.... He fibbed about it as a necessary means to an end.... White lies like this are acceptable tools of every politician's trade." That is what Mr Gwyn had to say about politicians and Pierre Elliott Trudeau in particular.

Mrs Marland: Politicians for the most part across all party lines only try to do the best job they possibly can. They are elected to serve the people they represent. If they do not do that job, if they do not represent the views of the people who elect them, they do not get re-elected. That is the wonderful part of living in a country like Canada, where we live in freedom. We have a democratic system of electing our representatives and I do not know what it is you are suggesting we do as an alternative. Do we have a coalition government at every level and rule by plebiscite on every issue?

Mr Leitch: No, I do not think we are advocating that at all, but what we are trying to tell you is that the overdevelopment of the party system in this country has left the people without any control over their elected representatives once they go to Queen's Park or the Parliament buildings or anywhere else. We do not have that kind of control any more, because you are under the control of your party.

Mrs Marland: Mr Leitch, I am under the control of the people who elect me. When you go to the ballot box you can decide whether or not you want to re-elect me. What I am asking you is, you are making these damning statements about a process for which I do not hear that you have an alternative. Also, you are making very strong statements for your cause. When you really look at what it is you are saying, you are as far out at one side as people are perhaps as far out at the other side, the very people whom you criticize. How can you turn back the history book?

Mr Leitch: I am not trying to turn back the history book. What I am trying to say is that if history means anything to us at all, you build on it. I am not trying to turn back the history book. If you want to look at just the question of language in this matter, which apparently you are, let me point out to you that in my brief I say to you that in fact at the time of Confederation the French-speaking people in this province were less than 1.85% of the population. At least one third of the French-speaking people in this province today are immigrants. They are not people who were native to this province at all.

Mrs Marland: You are talking about Ontario.

Mr Leitch: I am talking about Ontario.

Mrs Marland: I am talking about Canada as a nation. When I say to you, how can you turn back the history book, you are saying that Quebec should not have a special status.

Mr Leitch: That is right. I believe that.

Mrs Marland: But how can you change what is a fact? How can you change the history that has evolved as our country? How can you say realistically that we are going to have only English? You are saying the same thing that you criticize Quebec for in Bill 101, are you not?

Mr Leitch: There is a question of special status for Quebec. You look at it. It is a special, distinct society in a sense. What I am saying to you is that you cannot put that into the Constitution because there are other regions in Canada that are just as distinct as the French-speaking people. The thing that makes Quebec distinct at all is the fact that it has a language different from the rest of the country. It is the language that is distinct; it is not the society. In fact what we have here is a country of various regions. Much of it is very distinct. Are we going to put the distinctiveness of every region into the Constitution? When that was suggested at the recent conference they said: "Oh, no, we can't do that. We must only honour the French as distinct. We must only give them the right to self-determination. We can't give all the provinces the right to self-determination." That's what the recent PC conference says.

The Acting Chair: I am afraid we have gone way over our time at this point. It is up to the committee members if we are going to allow ourselves a few more minutes to go on. I am in the hands of the committee on this score. At this point, we are over by approximately 12 minutes from the time allotted.

Mr Malkowski: Mr Chair, I think we will close the debate.

The Acting Chair: Okay, since we would not have unanimous consent, I think we should probably close the debate. Thank you, Mr Leitch and Mr Bolt, for that. I appreciate your coming to Toronto for this and I would ask you, if you have any further materials you would like to get to the committee, to please send those materials along.

Mr Bisson: If you would just allow me a couple of minutes before leaving, I want to say something sincerely. I apologized a little while ago for getting somewhat excited. I think you can understand why. It is an issue we both feel strongly about, but I really do believe there needs to be a bigger and a better attempt at communication so that we can start understanding that as Canadians what all of us want is to keep this nation together. I think we need to enter into a process of trying to communicate each other's positions so that we can better understand, because the reality is --

The Acting Chair: Mr Bisson, you have actually put me in a difficult position with some members of the committee for doing that. I apologize. I thought what you had to say was one sentence and it was not, so I can only say that we need to adjourn the committee at this point. Thank you again very much for coming before the committee.

We will adjourn the committee meeting today. We will be meeting tomorrow morning at 9:30. Please note the different time, committee members, 9:30 tomorrow morning here for the next session of the committee.

The committee adjourned at 1547.