Thursday 7 February 1991

Joe Fratesi


Ted Hallin

Lila Leach

Bob Palanuk

John Weglo

Ecoles séparées catholiques du district de Sault-Sainte-Marie


Sault Ste Marie Indian Friendship Centre

Alliance Sault-Canada

United Steelworkers of America

Centre francophone de Sault-Sainte-Marie

Evening sitting

Jerry Frost

Jim Hilsinger

Ron Yurick

Gail Broad

Charles Swift

Sault Ste Marie and District Labour Council

Business and Professional Women's Clubs of Ontario

Bernadette Morin-Strom

Louise Campbell

Lorraine Marttinen

Phillip Turmain

Albert Kangas

Louise Primeau



Chair: Silipo, Tony (Dovercourt NDP)
Bisson, Gilles (Cochrane South NDP)
Beer, Charles (York North L)
Churley, Marilyn (Riverdale NDP)
Eves, Ernie L. (Parry Sound PC)
Harnick, Charles (Willowdale PC)
Harrington, Margaret H. (Niagara Falls NI)P)
Malkowski, Gary (York East NDP)
Offer, Steven (Mississauga North L)
O'Neill, Yvonne (Ottawa Rideau L)
Wilson, Fred (Frontenac-Addington KDP)
Winninger, David (London South NDP)

Also taking part:
Martin, Tony (Sault Ste Marie NDP)

Manikel, Tannis


Kaye, Philip, Research Officer, Legislative Research Office
Drummond, Alison, Research Officer, Legislative Research Office

The committee met at 1325 in the Civic Centre, Sault Ste Marie.


The Chair: I call the meeting to order. This is the select committee on Ontario in Confederation in the council chamber in Sault Ste Marie. We are pleased to be here in Sault Ste Marie. This is the fourth day of our hearings across the province, and we have before us another full day, afternoon and evening hearings, in which we will hear from the public suggestions to us about the issues facing us in Confederation and the opinions and views that people of Ontario feel that we should take into account.

I invite the mayor of Sault Ste Marie, Mayor Joe Fratesi, to address the committee.

Mr Fratesi: Thank you, Mr Chairman. It is certainly my pleasure as the mayor to welcome this committee to Sault Ste Marie. I congratulate you, Mr Chairman and the committee members, not only on your interest but your involvement in what no doubt is an important task. I trust that the facilities and accommodations in our Civic Centre are commodious. Our local member tells me it is odd looking at me "out there." It is equally as odd for me to be standing here looking at you, Mr Chairman, sitting in a venue that I am accustomed to being a part of.

Over the last week or so, I have been contacted by several out-of-town media wondering if I intended to make a presentation before you today. My answer to them was simple: my views and the views of my city council are well known with respect to some things that this committee will deal with. Repeating them in this forum would be of no benefit to anyone, and I am certain that some media might wish to again focus only on that part of any presentation that I would make. I therefore decided that I would make no presentation to your committee today.

However, as I thought about my decision, it became apparent to me that even that simple decision might be misunderstood or misrepresented as my feeling that you folks were not welcome in Sault Ste Marie or that I, as the city's mayor, did not think your work was important or relevant. I would like to be perfectly clear on both points, if I may.

The city has been around for a long time and boasts of its friendliness and hospitality. We are all a warm and loving people here in Sault Ste Marie. We always have been and we always will be. We in this city are probably the best example of the diverse makeup of this great country of ours, with people from every ethnic background who form part of the very fibre of this community, and we are proud of that fact.

Everyone in this city is concerned about national unity. We believe that Canada must be bound together with a strong and a real glue and not simply held together with a weak thread or some imaginary adhesive. You can say what you want to about our neighbours to the south, but I as one Canadian got more than just a little bit envious when during the opening ceremonies of the recent Super Bowl football game, I saw proud Americans, all colours of skin, all ethnic backgrounds, all ages, all creeds, all walks of life, all states and regions, proudly waving their country's flag singing -- no, I guess, boasting -- their national anthem with emotion and with enthusiasm.

That is the kind of Canada I would long for. Canadians from all parts and all provinces, of all ethnic backgrounds and all walks of life, Canadians who wave our maple leaf and mean it when they talk about glowing hearts, true patriot love and standing on guard, people who will say proudly, "I'm a Canadian first and, indeed, foremost" and who then will probably talk about their cultural backgrounds and ancestry. There should be reason enough for all of us as Canadians to work together with open minds to find a solution to our constitutional problems while at the same time protecting our Canadian traditions and values.

There should be no preconditions, there should be no deadlines. There should only be a sincere desire to work together to find the magic. We are a nation. Our country still comes out on top, and our people enjoy equal rights and status and opportunities.

This is the task that lies ahead not just for those of us who lead but also for those of us as Canadians generally with a common sense that we will play a big part, just as big a part as anything else in the discussions which will follow.

Ontario, because of its size, because of its geography and because of its traditional involvement in the unity of this country does indeed have a key role to play in the important constitutional discussions in the months ahead. I would like to congratulate and thank Premier Rae on his initiative in these matters and especially for his recognition that the input of the people of this province is a necessary part of the process, as it indeed is the future of my province and my country as well as your province and your country that will be the subject of the discussions ahead. Your role as a committee is therefore most important at this time, as are the views of Ontarians. This process provides the opportunity for all points of view to be heard and considered, and I see that to be the format that has been adopted by this committee, with a small-l liberal process surrounding it.

On behalf of the people of Sault Ste Marie and its local government, I would like to pledge our co-operation and our assistance both to this committee and to the province in the task that lies ahead, and I would like to again ensure that your presence is felt in this community and that the people of this community get the opportunity to be heard but, most important, that you walk away from this community knowing that it is the same community that it has always been and the same community that it will always be. Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Mayor. I suppose I cannot resist saying that I perhaps would categorize this process as being somewhat new and perhaps democratic but I will accept the small-l liberal as being part of that as well. I also want to say the Chair here feels quite comfortable, but do not take that as anything other than the fact that the chair is itself comfortable.

Before proceeding to hear the speakers that we have this afternoon, I want to just introduce the members of the committee to the public here and to those who may be following us over the parliamentary network. This is an all-party committee, and from the New Democratic Party caucus we have Gary Malkowski; Gilles Bisson, who is also the vice-chair of the committee; Margaret Harrington; Marilyn Churley; Fred Wilson, and David Winninger. From the Liberal Party caucus we have Charles Beer, Yvonne O'Neill and Steven Offer. From the Conservative Party caucus we have Ernie Eves and Charles Harnick. Also joining us this evening is the local MPP for Sault Ste Marie, Tony Martin.

Just by way of explaining the process, we have slotted or scheduled people at intervals of 15 minutes for individuals and up to half an hour for organizations. On behalf of the committee, I would request that people remain even below that time frame if possible in your presentation to us because then that will allow us some time for some questions from the members of the committee. That, in our view, is also a useful part, so if we have the time we would like to do that as well.

We have managed to be able to add to the list some people who were not on our original list and we will call on them as we go through the afternoon. Before inviting the first speaker, I would just again pick up on one of the comments that the mayor made, which is that the input of the people of the province is important to us, and it will be crucial in the kinds of recommendations and suggestions that go forward from this committee. But also we see that the input needs to continue and those discussions need to continue and that this in fact is from our perspective the beginning of that discussion process aimed at helping us come up with some initial positions that will form our interim report and then allowing some further discussions between the end of March and the end of June, when we will have to then draw up our final report.


The Chair: I call the first speaker, Francis Guth.

Mr Guth: Mr Chairman and members of the committee, I thank you for the opportunity of making this presentation. My name is Francis Guth. I come here today as the president of an organization called CALM, and CALM stands for Citizens Addressing the Language Motion.

Not having had the opportunity to read the discussion paper of the Ontario government on this issue, I would like to simply share a vision of Canada that I would hope would receive some consideration, if not adoption, by the Ontario government in any future negotiations on Confederation.

In thinking about this and the focus I would take, I concluded that I could not do better than to begin by quoting a resolution approved unanimously last February by the senate of Algoma University College, where I am proud to say I work. The motion reads as follows:

"Moved that the senate of Algoma University College acknowledges and values the historic contributions of the first nations, and of the English and French founding nations, to our country and the region. We also recognize and celebrate the bilingual and multicultural dimension of our country and region."

It seems to me that this brief motion sums up the essential elements that define and distinguish our country. Let me comment on them briefly in turn.

1. The first nations: For much too long, we have shunted aside this constituency of our country. They were the first inhabitants of this land. They have and retain aboriginal rights. Their contributions are often ignored, but the first European fur traders and then settlers could not have survived without them. Their contribution during the war of 1812 to retain our identity and sovereignty as a country is not yet widely understood or acknowledged.

We are rightly concerned today in this country with environmental degradation. It is clear to me that our western scientific, technological civilization, with its inherently dominative and exploitative approach to nature, can learn much from our primal peoples about an ecologically sound and harmonious relationship to nature.

Ecologically speaking, Canada and the world are at a critical juncture as far as our common future is concerned. We will survive only if we develop and implement a working, sustainable equilibrium. This, I believe, could be greatly facilitated by bringing native values into the mainstream of our thinking and thereby creating a new and higher synthesis of the primal with the European.

It should go without saying that any future constitutional negotiations must have, front and centre, a preparedness to deal seriously with land claims and issues of self-government for the peoples of our first nations.

2. The English and French founding nations: Whether we like it or not, and regardless of the subsequent settling of Canada by people of many other national and ethnic origins -- and my father and mother were among those -- there are certainly historical facts about our country that cannot be denied or changed. Our Constitution and our laws have taken these into account.

When the British colonial powers took over the colonies in America from the French colonial powers -- and I would like to emphasize "colonial" here because it was a colonial war, not a civil war, between French Canadians and English Canadians. In any case, the British were left with a population of mainly French-speaking settlers of already several generations, with their own customs, religion, language and laws. Much to their credit, the British of those days were wise and tolerant and practical enough to allow this settled population to retain its culture, identity, religion, language and legal system.

These historical facts are the basis of much that is unique and distinctive in Canada, including its duality of language, its dual school systems and its duality of legal systems. Dual systems often cost more than single ones, but they also speak to fairness to an earlier, indigenous population and make for a richer, much more tolerant cultural mosaic, rather than the one-dimensional melting pot.

As a country, the fairer we treat our first nations and the now minority component of our two founding nations, the fairer and more tolerantly, I submit, we will treat the minorities of other nationalities that have come to this country subsequently. And, I submit, the converse will also be true. So it would not behoove other minorities to get on to the anti-French bandwagon.

3. The bilingual component: I have already touched on the historical basis of this component. I would just like to add a number of observations. Being able to speak several languages is something we should consider a privilege and a benefit, not a burden. I believe that the young people across this country were beginning to come to this realization. It is too bad that an extremist, nationalist government in Quebec and organizations like the Alliance for the Preservation of English in Canada and our local version, the Sault Ste Marie Association for the Preservation of English Language Rights, are intent on spoiling this potential benefit for our young people. For the sake of our youth, we should not let them get away with it.

The behind-the-scenes, extreme right wing, often American groups that are pushing the anti-bilingual bandwagon have a deeper hidden agenda -- that of dismantling the much more costly social programs in this country. Again, it would behoove organizations like APEC and SAPELR, made up mostly of older people, to realize that they are inadvertently supporting groups whose hidden agendas are directly against their own best interests.

While on this topic of bilingualism, I would like to say something about this community's infamous English-only resolution. We deplore the scapegoating of our francophone minority by a totally useless resolution that served only to create divisiveness, not only in our community but in the country as a whole during a time of constitutional crisis. We would only hope that the new Ontario government, as it readies itself for a new round of constitutional negotiations, will not be seen to be abandoning its 500,000 francophones while tolerating, and even rewarding, the political demagoguery that gave Sault Ste Marie its language motion and its national black eye.


4. The multicultural component: Some of us still believe that a vision of Canada must include the notion of a rich, diverse, multicultural mosaic rather than a one-dimensional melting pot. Canada should celebrate and support its multicultural heritage and Ontario should press for this in any negotiations for the future Canada.

We want to raise our voices against the clamour that is heard more and more today that Canada cannot afford to continue either bilingualism or multiculturalism. These, along with our tradition of tolerance, even if it is severely strained these days, and our more caring social networks are what make us distinctive and the envy of most other nations.

We realize and concede that this vision of Canada is not new and that it is unfortunately no longer widely held. It might even be considered as an elitist and centralist viewpoint. Nevertheless, the only alternative that has emerged seems to be that of a separate Quebec and an English Canada in disarray, the easy prey to being swallowed up by the United States. This, in our view, is not an acceptable alternative.

So is all this not perhaps already too late after all? "Is Quebec not already gone?" some would say. And then will English Canada not necessarily abandon most of the distinguishing components I have mentioned above and begin the inevitable slide towards becoming the next state in the union? Alas, I think this is a real possibility. To try to avert it, I would urge the Ontario government to do everything -- short of a decentralization that would dismantle the country anyway -- to keep Quebec in a future Canada that also includes the abovementioned components.

Ontario must play a leading balancing role, as it has in the past, in the tough negotiations ahead with all the other provinces and Ottawa. It must insist that Canada not be dismantled by piecemeal, bilateral bargaining between Ottawa and Quebec. Quebec must be made to realize what the true costs of separation would be. But the rest of Canada must also wake up to the real cost to itself of Quebec leaving.

We are decidedly not on the side of the clamour that cries, "Let Quebec go, and good riddance for the rest of Canada." We think that would instead be the end of Canada, and that would be a tragedy for us, our children and the world. Thank you very much, Mr Chairman.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Guth. There are a couple of questions. Mr Beer.

Mr Beer: Thank you for your presentation. I know that I have had the pleasure of meeting with a number of the members of CALM and know very much how you have tried to bridge francophone, anglophone, and indeed all of the individuals and groups that make up your community.

I wondered if you might comment a bit on how you see relationships in Sault Ste Marie a year later, what kind of work has been going on between anglophones and francophones, as well as the other issues that you raise. I know some of us had the pleasure of having lunch with a number of members of the francophone community today, and I sense that people are very intent and serious on coming together. I think it would be useful to hear from you what your thoughts are.

Mr Guth: That is a difficult question to answer shortly and briefly. I think to some extent there is very much the situation of the two solitudes, partly because the dominant group -- perhaps it is the dominant group; I am hoping it is not dominant any more -- has refused to engage in any kind of serious discussion on the issue and instead uses mainly stonewalling and sticking-your-head-in-the-sand -- or I guess in the snow here -- tactics, ignoring the real harms and the real divisiveness that has been caused in this community, and not only ignoring but denying against all the evidence. It seems to me, unless that changes, the community cannot come together the way it ought to and the way it has to in these economic times.

Mr Harnick: We, in some of the evidence that we have heard, have heard a recurring theme, and that is a desire that people have for each province to be treated equally. Do you believe that Quebec can be recognized as a distinct society and, at the same time, the other provinces be seen or felt as having achieved that equality?

Mr Guth: I guess the problem is how much you put into the meaning of "distinct society." I mean, the very fact that Quebec has a distinct culture, language, religion and legal system makes it distinct. I do not have any problem with that. I guess the problem people had with Meech Lake -- and I had some problems with Meech Lake, by the way -- was what you put, how much more you put into that definition of "distinct society" and what powers come along with that distinction. I think that is the issue, not simply the terminology "distinct society." Let's face it: Quebec is a distinct society; it is distinct from English-speaking Canada in the ways that I have mentioned.

Mr Harnick: Basically that is the fact.

Mr Guth: That is right.

Mr Harnick: Okay.

Mr Bisson: First of all, I want to thank you for your comments on how you see this nation and maybe where we have to go. I think you really hit the nail on the head to a certain extent in that I see you as a fervent nationalist, from the way you are presenting your argument, and I guess what is key here is that recognizing that Quebec is distinct and realizing what you are saying, your position is that we need to somehow not allow the stripping away of our federal powers because that somehow takes away, in your opinion, from what this is as a nation. What is the balance, in your eye? What needs to be done in order to meet some of the aspirations of Quebec in recognizing its distinctness, but at the same hand not diminishing the whole of the country. What insight can you give on that?

Mr Guth: I guess if I had some real new insights, I would be the Prime Minister's executive assistant or something, rather than a mere professor of philosophy. I do not know. In some ways I fear that the whole issue is already too late in the sense that it seems Quebec is intent on separation or at least sovereignty, and even the Liberal government in Quebec which is supposed to represent the sort of last stand of the federalists in Quebec has come out with a program that seems to be very destructive of the central government.

It seems to me that we have to face the facts about what is happening in Quebec and I guess our best bet is to for the rest of the country to quickly negotiate with Quebec and with the Liberal government, I guess, because that is probably now, after Meech Lake, the most modest starting point for negotiations that you are going to find from Quebec. You are not going to find even that brief a list, so to speak, of federal powers left if the Parti québécois has something to say about it.

I think we have to enter into very serious, tough negotiations with the understanding that this is their opening salvo and that they are going to have to back off from some of those claims. Hopefully, we can salvage enough of central powers for the central government to make it still a viable country, but exactly where the sawoff is I really do not know.

Mr Bisson: Just a very quick comment --

The Chair: No, I am sorry; I have to try to keep to the time lines.


The Chair: I call next Ted Hallin.

Mr Hallin: I think I should start with a little bit of background on myself. I was raised in Thunder Bay of one immigrant parent and another parent who -- both parents spoke Swedish when they were first born. Their operative language became English and I believe even with the census-taking, although they were still fluent in Swedish, they would mark that they were anglophone.

I was first exposed to French in grade 9 in the Thunder Bay system and I was pleased and honoured to be part of a country that had this bilingual tradition. I embraced it, possibly more than you can imagine. I married a woman from Quebec. My first two children are bilingual in French and English. My stepchildren now come from a francophone ancestry, part of the aboriginal native French-speaking people who were here when Britain took over the colony and it became the British colony of Quebec, which accidentally stretched as far as Thunder Bay, as far as I understand, including the Ohio Valley, where Detroit is now and so on.


My children then have part of both of the founding cultures within their ancestry, part of the franco culture and part of an anglo culture of immigrants. Immigrants came here in great numbers, first from the British colonies to the south and brought in the English culture en masse, so I believe that the basis of the anglophone masses here could be termed immigrants also.

We have forgotten about the first nations people here and I think it is very important that we recognize that they should be a part of our government. They are part of treaties that our government has. There has been, in our community, as you are aware, a recent backlash against francophones here. I submit that it has gone on for more than 100 years in that perhaps the majority of the people in this city come from a franco ancestry somewhere and have gradually become submerged in the anglo dominance here. Their ancestry is not reflected in the nature of their names. They have names that sound like they have come from another culture. They are unable to speak the French language. And the case in point, my stepchildren and my wife are unable to speak the French language.

Speaking of constitutional amendments, aside from that, I think it is important that we recognize that there has been a gradual devolution of awareness and a gradual evolving of the demand for more and more democracy in this country. I do not think we have had more democracy than we have had now, but people are demanding that the structure be changed so that they have more input. We have a federal government that was elected with about 43% of the popular vote in this country and has about 70% of the seats, and people are feeling that they are not being fairly represented by this type of system.

I would propose a departure from the solutions that have been suggested so far in that we combine our federal electoral system so that some of the seats -- in fact half of the seats would be allocated with respect to the proportional vote that a party gets in an election. Now where you have several thousands of people who are disfranchised in this country in that they voted for a particular party and do not have any representation at all.

If there were some mechanism where there could be percentage representation in the federal government by an amendment to the Constitution, I think it would give a little more satisfaction to people in their feeling of being properly represented. It would also create a situation where we would probably have minority governments for a long time, and minority governments, as you all probably realize, call for compromise, call for listening to the other side, call for a search for understanding.

I would suggest that the Ontario government is in a unique position right now to institute such a change, being elected with approximately the same percentage that the federal government was elected with. This provincial government was elected, I understand, with about 42% popular support, and again has about 70% of the seats in the Ontario Legislature. I would propose that if half of the ridings were merged with the other half of the ridings, so that instead of having 195 ridings in Ontario you would have approximately 100 ridings, the other 100 seats then would be made up by whatever system the political parties would decide within themselves as to who would represent them to make up the popular support percentage they would be allowed in the provincial legislature.

There might be some problems with the federal government in achieving such a system within Ontario, but it would start the ball rolling and it would get people thinking in this direction, that we need a better system of representation.

Another area that I hear discussion on is the Senate and we are told that the US system has a better system of representation because they have an elected Senate. Those same people who propose that seem to ignore that the US has about 10 times the population of Canada and has 100 senators. Canada now has 104 plus eight.

With the proposal for the Senate, if a person is suggesting reform to a system similar to the United States, then he should in the same breath be suggesting that with one tenth the population we have 10 senators to reflect the 100 senators that they have in the United States. I do not hear these proposals.

Our Constitution now currently has a provision that, I understand, with the next reform of the senatorial representation there will be 144 senators in Canada, depending on the census figures for Canada. It boggles my mind that we are going to have hundreds and hundreds of senators in this country and maybe a thousand members of Parliament if these continuing constitutional provisions are followed through with. There has to be some amendment.

There is also a proposal for the amending process. The amending process is 50% of the provinces representing 75% of the population or vice versa; I forget exactly how it goes. The US system is that once a constitutional amendment is passed by the federal houses, it requires ratification merely by two thirds of the state legislatures. As to the system we had with the Meech Lake accord, we all know it had so many difficulties that I am pleased to see this type of reform starting to begin.

There is also a suggestion that instead of having 10 provinces, possibly to include all of Canada within the governmental structure the governmental arrangement be renegotiated to have, perhaps, five regions: a northern region, a western region, an Ontario region, a Quebec region and an Atlantic region.

Within education within the province, I think it is important that the province move forward with a better history education system, with the problems that we have had in misunderstanding in this country. I have seen it from a personal perspective. With my learning a second language I have come to realize that even with the media, the news that we listen to is different in French. It is not just translation. It is that the ideas are different, the concepts are different than they are in English.

One basic misunderstanding is the idea of our nation as a whole. In French it is a federation; in English we call it a nation. In French a nation is one of the national peoples who originated this country, such as the francophone nation or the anglophone nation or the autochtone nation, the aboriginal nation.


In Ontario we have a Legislative Assembly. In Quebec we have a National Assembly. What is a nation? It is not clearly understood in anglophone Canada even yet that the Speaker in the National Assembly is le Président. It is these basic things which are misunderstood and it is very difficult for people to come together and to learn and understand.

There is a whole history of animosity and a lot of it has been brought over from Europe and from other countries in the world where killing has gone on and killing is going on today under the name of our nation. That is a tremendous and dramatic departure from the recent history of Canada, of being a peacemaker and people coming to Canada for sanctuary where they would not be terrorized by a government, where they would not be afraid for their life and limb from an action of the government.

A lot of people look to the American system. The American system has had a history of invasion and hegemony, occupying other countries, financing counterinsurgencies, financing terrorist groups. I do not know if everybody wants to emulate a government system that is tending in that direction. They also have a system of referendums, and with any type of political system, the majority of people are influenced by advertisements, and where do the advertisements come from? They come from the people with money.

The Chair: Mr. Hallin, perhaps you could sum up. You are getting to the end of the time.

Mr. Hallin: What I wanted to end up with is that we have hostility in this community and there is some hostility in other parts of this country, and we have to come together to resolve it, even if, as some people say, Quebec is not a part of this country. We still have to live with the fact that there are many francophones in Ontario. There always have been as long as Europeans have been here. There are many francophones in every other part of this country, and we have to recognize that. If Quebec separates as a separate country and becomes a unilingual nation, I do not know what -- even in English we cannot distinguish between the nation of Quebec today and a nation of Quebec in the future because our language is so deficient.

I would like to add that we have a culture of our own. We have great artists like Stompin' Tom. We have people in this country who can generate a feeling of togetherness, but we have to put forward a greater effort to be a part of that.

I would like to conclude with a revised portion of a song by Georges D'Or: "If you but knew how my heart aches in Sault Ste Marie, you would write to me much more than you do. In Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, you would tell of the joys of Montreal, Vancouver and Winnipeg and of St Johns and of the north. I want to hear from all your parts, my dear land, Canada."

« Si tu savais notre angoisse à Sault Sainte-Marie, tu m'écrirais bien plus souvent à ma Sault Sainte-Marie. » Merci.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Hallin. I would call next Andy Lavoie from the United Steelworkers of America. He may not be here yet because we are a little bit ahead.


The Chair: I will ask then Lila Leach.

Ms Leach: Thank you very much. I got this thing together very quickly this morning, because I read yesterday's Toronto Star and it really worried me. It frightened me. It begins by telling us that Prime Minister Brian Mulroney will promise Canadians next week that the federal government will not stand idly by as a national unity battle rages but will produce its own plan before the end of the year for restructuring the country. Please folks, let's pull together. You know what he can do to us.

Canadians need leadership. They need leadership they can all depend on and respect. Politicians have to be accountable for their actions. Therefore, this forum should have been reversed. Politicians, at least those who have the courage of their convictions, should answer some questions as well. We have a right to know why we are subjected to segregation, why we cannot be just Canadian. How our money is spent -- perhaps a bit of cost accounting would go a long way.

Our greatest problem is racial discrimination. We can never hope to achieve nationhood so long as we are forced to recognize the two founding races as top dogs, ignore the first nations, and relegate the rest into a conglomeration of multicults, each tribe encouraged to cling tenaciously to its past, remain in the ghetto, avoid integration. In order to achieve these clearcut divisions you have to outlaw mixed marriages. We will never understand each other if we refuse to speak a common language. You cannot legislate, demand or buy respect.

This preoccupation with power, the struggle for special status, has made us the laughingstock of the world. We are not stable emotionally or economically. Even Canadians no longer invest in Canada. Would you invest in a company so consumed by a petty power struggle that it was going under?

Perhaps it is time for a bit of tough love. There is a song that goes: "God bless little children while they're still too young to hate." In Canada, you have to get them very young, because by the time they are pushed through our high-priced segregation system they know how to hate.

Even a program on channel 8, sponsored by TVOntario, featured a robot asking children to identify themselves by nationality. They were born in Canada, so they were Canadian. But they were told: "Yes, but your mother and your father were born in Italy, so you are Italian-Canadian," or German-Canadian or whatever. Why the hyphenation?

Thank you very much.

Mr Bisson: I understand some of the things. The only thing I have as a comment is that you made a comment at the beginning that one of the problems we have in this country is that because we do not all speak a common language we do not understand each other. I feel, being a bilingual citizen of this country, that I am better able to understand your viewpoint because I understand something of your culture. I beg to differ with you on that point. That is all.

Ms Leach: Well, you are special. We do not all understand each other, I am afraid.

Mr Bisson: But what I am purporting is that by understanding each other's views and walking a mile in the other person's shoes, maybe then we can better understand and maybe from there we can build.

Ms Leach: But must we all be bilingual?

Mr Bisson: We are not going to get into the debate. What I am saying is that we understand each other by walking in each other's shoes every now and then and exchanging ideas. Sitting there and saying if we all speak just the one language we will be better able to understand each other -- I just say I do not agree. I feel that understanding two languages or three or four opens a lot more.


Ms Leach: It certainly does, but we also have to remember that ethnic people -- I am one of them; I was born in Canada but I am still regarded a multicult -- are encouraged to cling to their own language. If they cling to their own language, they cannot understand you and they cannot understand me. We have to look at everybody, not just the English and French.

Mr Bisson:I agree.

The Chair: That is really what I think Mr Bisson was also addressing, because again, as somebody who could add a third element to that -- I guess I would categorize myself as one of the multicults, to use your term. We certainly are in a situation where retaining the traditions and aspects and roots of one's culture and language does not necessarily have to impinge on the sense of Canadianism that can be within each of us.

Ms Leach: That is right, absolutely.

The Chair: Okay, good. Thank you.


The Chair: I call next Bob Palanuk.

Mr Palanuk: I do not have a properly prepared speech as such to address to you today. I just have a few points. I am not accustomed to speaking in front of people, but because of the situation we have today I thought I would like to make a few comments.

I would like to ask a question of the committee. How many of the committee here are from north of Parry Sound? One.

The Chair: I guess there are two. There are two, with Mr Bisson.

Mr Palanuk: You are from Parry Sound?

Mr Bisson: I am from Timmins.

Mr Palanuk: Okay, two. How many here are of native descent? One. French? Or aboriginal?

Mr Bisson: Aboriginal and French.

Mr Palanuk: Aboriginal and French. Okay, one.

Politicians recently, especially in the last year to two years, address everyone as francophone and anglophone. I am third-generation Ukrainian descent. I am a Canadian, Canadian first. I speak Ukrainian. I eat Ukrainian food. So that is maintained. But let's not divide ourselves. We are all Canadians.

The next thing I would like to mention is Canadian symbolism. We have the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, we have some beautiful ships, we have Petrocan, and we have Air Canada. What does our federal government do? Keep in mind that everybody who comes here knows this is a Christian country. We do not say you cannot practise your own religion. You can practise your own religion, but do not change our symbolism. Turbans on the RCMP. This is what unites us -- the flag, things like this. That big ship we were supposed to build to break ice up in the polar region got cancelled. We are going to privatize Petro-Canada. Without natural resources, what is our destiny?

Everybody hated Pierre Trudeau. He was arrogant, yes, but he was leading us in the right direction.

Air Canada has been privatized and it has gone down the drain. It used to be the show air industry to the world. What is it now? Like another American economy run?

Religion in our schools and all public places: that is ours. We are a Christian society. You come here, you become a Canadian. Do not try and change us from Canadian to whatever. My people came here, they became Canadians. They talk Canadian, they dress Canadian, yet the culture is very different.

A suggestion: make it illegal, federally and provincially, that a political party can put forth as part of its agenda separation or derogatory policy to destroy Canada as we know it today. Who goes to sleep with a fuse-burning stick of dynamite? Would you like to go to bed like that? That is what you do when you let parties like this come from Quebec and say, "Okay, we're going to just attach a tugboat and pull Quebec away from Canada." That is not realistic. If you want to have a strong country, you do not leave it weak in certain areas; you make it strong.

I suggest also that investigation be made at Laval University and McGill University and our old, rich politicians in Quebec, serious investigation. If you go back in history, you will see that these families have been pro-separation right down to the 1920s, and they are carrying on there right now. Their names are the top names in politics in Quebec.

I have done business with Russia, Germany, Romania, France, Britain, Scotland, Finland, Sweden; you name the country, I have done business with it. Business is done in English. The industrial language for business is English. Everyone here knows that. I know it; I have done it. Even the captains on the Russian ships telexed me in English to tell me that my product was coming across the Atlantic during the Cuban crisis. That is the language of the industrial free world. It should stop that Quebec penalizes English-speaking persons. That should stop immediately.

I would like to thank you for the short time you allowed me to address you. That is all I have to say.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Palanuk. I guess I would be remiss if I did not point out that while you certainly have the right to believe this is a Christian society, we also need to keep remembering that there are many people in this country and in this province who are of other faiths, and I think that their beliefs are really quite valid.

Mr Palanuk: I pointed that out, that everyone is allowed to practise their own religion, but we are a Christian society. People know that before they come here.

The Chair: I guess some people would disagree with that.

Mr Palanuk: If you want to maintain your own religion, maintain your own religion, go ahead.

The Chair: All right. Thank you, sir.


The Chair: I call John Weglo.

Mr Weglo: Mr Chairman, committee members, ladies and gentlemen and fellow Canadians, I am a Canadian who believes in a strong federal government. I believe in the family of Canadian provinces from sea to sea. You should note that I call myself a Canadian, not a Newfoundlander, Albertan or Quebecker. I just happen to live in Ontario.

The strength of our Canadian federation has always been based upon the stronger, well-to-do provinces sharing with the less-fortunate provinces; sharing, not "What's in it for me?" but sharing. That is why I do not object to the federal equalization payments, the regional and industrial development grants or the farm subsidy programs which result in net federal costs for the provinces of Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, with Ontario contributing nearly $7.7 billion, or $824 per person, with its 36% of the Canadian population, and Alberta contributing nearly $4 billion, or $1,700 per person, with its 9% of the population.


On the other side, we have provinces which receive net federal benefits. These include $2 billion to Quebec, or $301 per person for its 26% of the population. The other provinces all receive close to or more than Quebec, from $1.9 billion to $3.4 billion, despite having much smaller populations, resulting in net benefits ranging from $2,000 per person to $3,900 per person.

Let us not get caught up in the rhetoric that Quebec got half of the $5.5-billion equalization payments -- it has 60% of the provinces qualifying for equalization; or that Quebec got 38%, or $347 million, of the regional development and industrial grants with only 26% of the Canadian population, because Ontario got 22.5%, or $208 million; or that 85% of the $1 billion in special payments to grain farmers went to the west. Although people can use these numbers to promote any cause they like, it all comes down to sharing in order to strengthen the federation we call Canada.

My main concern is that we now have a member of our family who, like a teenager, wants more independence to grow and develop, to control its own destiny, which may result in the destruction of our family. I both admire and fear Premier Robert Bourassa. He is the most complete and shrewd political personage in Canada and has an all-consuming fanaticism for power. He has been completely machiavellian in his manipulation of the issues, the federal government, Brian Mulroney, the press, the opposition, the Parti québécois and the people of Quebec. He has created broad support for his position within the province by outmanoeuvring the Parti québécois and courting the population with inflammatory statements like, "A rejection of Meech is a rejection of Quebec," and that any opposition to Quebec is really due to intolerance or bigotry.

The fact is that I am angry. I am angry at the politicians and all three political parties for putting their own personal or party interests before that of our country. During the Meech Lake crisis, not one federal party was standing up for Canada. Instead they were playing petty politics, trying to catch the New Democratic Party in a compromise position so they could win a by-election in Quebec.

Brian Mulroney did nothing to support the wishes of Canadian people and the federalist cause. Instead, he accepted Quebec's demands and tried to coerce and blackmail the rest of Canada into accepting its demands without question. Premier David Peterson did little to help to mediate the crisis, and instead caved in at the end and was prepared to give up some of his Ontario Senate seats to bring everyone on side. No one spoke out for Canada.

I am also disgusted with the news media, which for once could not forgo chasing sensationalism and radical viewpoints, all in the name of reporting, or maybe more realistically, the big dollar. True, there was some good informative reporting of events and issues, but the net effect has been a polarization of the Canadian population.

The problem is that, with all this grand posturing and inflationary rhetoric and biased viewpoints, the average citizen in Quebec or Ontario only heard what the politicians wanted us to hear or what the news reported, not what was in the other person's heart.

At the time, we had no idea what we were fostering. Quebec's view of Canada is one of intolerance and bigotry due to the multimedia reviews of a few English Canadians wiping their feet on the Quebec flag, and the concept of the rejection of Meech is a rejection of Quebec.

English Canada sees Quebec's Meech attitude as "take it or we will separate," not only as a recurring theme in constitutional talks but personally insulting and reeking of blackmail. The effect of this tit-for-tat verbal exchange is that the average citizen really believes that the French do not like the English and vice versa. The bottom line is that Canada is in real danger of breaking up due to the polarization of public views and the politicians and the news media, which are still adding fuel to the fire.

What does Quebec want? I truly believe that Quebec will do anything to preserve its language and its culture. I would propose that throughout Canada, but especially in Quebec, we are dealing with the "me" generation. What is in it for me? And I want it now.

The main concern for Quebec is the assimilation by the English in North America and, potentially even more devastating, its declining birthrate. Therefore, they not only want to control their language and culture but their society as a whole. To do so they want much more provincial power than the rest of Canada wants, and they need specific control over their own language and culture, ie, distinct society, immigration, constitutional veto to protect their distinctness as well as legal, Supreme Court and economic opting out concerns.

What was Canada expecting? The problem is, however, that the rest of Canada is still working on a bicultural and bilingual theme that was instigated by Pierre Trudeau and promoted by René Lévesque's separatist movement in 1985. We would become a bilingual nation, a nation of two solitudes, yet still one.

Can a bilingual, bicultural nation really work? Perhaps if we had more time as our children go through French education in the schools and then their children, but under the pressure cooker of Meech Lake and the present constitutional ultimatum, it looks like too much, too soon. In any case, it looks like the rules have changed because while Quebec currently provides English services, it does not officially recognize or promote English services and in fact is much more likely to restrict English use in the future.

Ontario, with Bill 8 and the possible expansion of Bill 8, is now in a difficult situation, with the French groups not only wanting their education and culture protected in the province but also wanting it paid for. Some of it has gone as far as not wanting educational interaction with French immersion students of English background for the fear of contamination of the language and culture.

Bob Rae, as Leader of the Opposition during the passing of Bill 8, urged the Premier to take the next step beyond today's step which would include and recognize French as an official language for Ontario's 4.6% French population and guarantee those rights in the Constitution. So again I ask the question: Can a bilingual, bicultural nation work? To be fair to ourselves I think we really need to consider that question.

Culturally, Quebec is leaps and bounds ahead of Ontario and the other provinces in evaluating its role in Canada. If we do not speak up now, we will not be heard, and if you do not ask for something, you will not receive it. In other countries that have bilingual cultures, such as Belgium, Switzerland and South Africa, the findings generally indicate that the two cultures do not blend. Therefore, there is always conflict over the control of language at the workplace and especially in the schools. The solution to date tends to be one of autocratically establishing areas or provinces for competing languages or cultures yet keeping them linked economically.

Therefore, it would be my strong recommendation that we do not guarantee official French-language recognition or services within the province of Ontario. Instead adopt the policy of unofficial services similar to that of Quebec and a continued development of our children with French education until we know where Canada is going.

How should Ontario deal with the Constitution and Quebec's constitutional ultimatum? First, it should be made clear that Ontario will not be pushed into any constitutional change by arbitrary deadlines. I think that the citizens of Ontario would expect our government, yourselves, not to rush into any changes and to keep coming back to the population.


Second, Ontario should be presenting a strong federalist voice coupled with a hard-line negotiating position. Bourassa's recent constitutional ultimatum is nothing short of the dismantling of the federal government with Quebec getting sovereignty-association with a continued flow of federal funds from the other provinces and no debt load. He really insults our intelligence by pretending that this would be just a revised form of Canadian federation.

Just as Quebec has shown that it is serious by reviewing separation, Ontario must start to review how we would rebuild Canada without Quebec. Again, to be fair to ourselves, we really need to consider that question, so we do not get caught flat-footed.

Given Bourassa's outlandish demands, Ontario also must come from such a strong negotiating position. Hopefully, that is what they are, negotiating positions and not inflexible demands. If they are inflexible demands, we have nothing to lose, as agreeing to them would essentially result in the breakup of Canada as we know it now anyway.

To the politicians and the media, I would hope that you start to heal this rift rather than adding fuel to the fire. It is time that the politicians used their mailing privileges to inform the population rather than just sending out junk mail. In the case of the media, it is time to do objective reporting and stop chasing the sensationalism of fringe groups. To that extent I would highly recommend the reading of a 26 April Ottawa Citizen special report called "The Meech Lake Crisis," presenting both sides of the view, and similarly, a Sault Ste Marie Star and Le Droit newspaper, 10 March issue, on "Bilingualism on a Tightrope."

In conclusion, despite all this tough rhetoric, we should also extend an olive branch. All the Quebec people really want to know is that they are welcomed in Canada, not rejected, and that they can continue to control their language, education and immigration.

Perhaps there is still time to salvage our country, but it will require extraordinary leadership. Since we have no federal leadership, within this context I would say to Bob Rae that he has just accepted the most difficult job in Canada. Yet I think him capable of it and I wish him luck.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Weglo. There is time for one question if you wait.

Mr Winninger: You spent a considerable amount of time earlier in your presentation, Mr Weglo, discussing equalization and subsidy payments. As you know, one of the components of the Meech Lake solution provided that the federal government would compensate provinces that opt out of shared costs. I wonder if you accept that solution and, if not, whether you have any alternatives to suggest.

Mr Weglo: I have read a lot on Meech Lake and I do not pretend to understand it all. I cannot really offer any advice on that situation.

Mr Winninger: That is fair. Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Weglo. I just say two things in concluding. If you would before you leave ensure -- I am just looking over to our research people to see -- that we have the references to the two newspaper articles that you referred, I think they would be useful for the committee members. Second, I just want to pick up on one of the points that you made about your wish that we continue to consult with the people of Ontario each step of the way. Certainly our intention is to ensure that that happens.

I gather that the next presenters may not yet be here. They were scheduled a little bit later, but I will check just in case. Ed Thomas and Brian Cleary, are they in the room? No.


M. le Président : Jacques Cayouette, de la section de langue française du Conseil des écoles séparées catholiqucs du district de Sault-Sainte-Marie.

M. Cayouette : En commençant, Monsieur le Président, je voudrais souhaiter une bienvenue chaleureuse à tous les membres du comité spécial. Bienvenue ici à Sault-Sainte-Marie.

Ma présentation se veut brève afin d'accentuer certains éléments qui me sont chers, certains éléments qui contribuent à définir ce pays, cette province, cette réalité qui est la nôtre.

Le Canada est à se questionner. Les liens qui forment cette Confédération sont à définir davantage. Il est à noter que l'on ne doit pas entreprendre ces démarches dans le but de rechercher une redéfinition, mais plutôt celles-ci doivent être considérées comme une étape d'importance dans le processus de réflexion nécessaire à concrétiser les principes de base qui nous unissent. Cette réflexion porte donc sur une détermination plus précise, plus vivante de la définition même du Canada et du peuple canadien. Cette réflexion doit nécessairement aussi prendre en consideration les antécédents, puisque comme dans toute circonstance du genre, le futur est inévitablement composé du présent et du passé. Il s'agit ici de formuler à partir de tous ces ingrédients une vision pour le futur, une vision d'un Canada qui se veut fort, une vision du peuple canadien qui se veut fier.

Pour ce faire, il est important que cette vision, cette direction soit établie à partir d'une fondation solide renforcée de la pierre angulaire qui est déjà en place. Au-delà de cette certitude, le défi à relever avec confiance est de dialoguer ouvertement afin de trouver un équilibre en ce qu'il faut à tout prix conserver, ce qui peut ou doit être modifié et ce qui peut ou doit être mis à part.

Ce processus n'est pas étranger au gouvernement néodémocrate de l'Ontario qui, l'automne dernier, a dû faire face et a dû répondre de façon pondérée à une réalité politique, économique et sociale qui lui avait été présentée par la population ontarienne. Cet appui a sans doute servi de toile de fond à la rédaction du discours du trône du 20 novembre dernier, puisque les principes qui s'y retrouvent sont généralement rassurants, à savoir que, afin d'avancer, afin d'apporter n'importe quelle amélioration, il faut reconnaître la réalité telle qu'elle existe et que le point de départ est nécessairement tiré de cette réalité.

Bien que plusieurs extraits de ce document puissent très bien servir de ressources de base à la présente discussion, je n'en toucherai qu'à un seul paragraphe, paragraphe qui se doit d'être mentionné par entre ces murs, et je cite : «Par ailleurs, nous reconnaissons l'importance de la vaste population franco-ontarienne qui apporte une énorme contribution à la vie de la province et nous sommes déterminés à travailler en étroite collaboration avec la communauté francophone de l'Ontario afin de préserver ces droits.

Et c'est justement à ce sujet, au sujet de ces droits, de conserver ces droits acquis que, au nom des membres de la section de langue française du Conseil des écoles séparées catholiques du district de Sault-Sainte-Marie, je voudrais élaborer. Je me dois de vous dire, et ceci très clairement et sans équivoque, que les francophones catholiques ont des droits, comme peuple fondateur, qui doivent être à la base de toute discussion constitutionnelle, que toute considération d'amendement à la Loi constitutionnelle de 1982 doit absolument enchâsser au strict minimum les principes fondamentaux que l'on retrouve dans la Charte canadienne des droits et libertés, et plus particulièrement les droits religieux et les droits linguistiques. À ceux-ci viennent s'ajouter les droits sociaux et les droits économiques qui s'y rattachent.

Pour ce qui est de droits religieux, il faut comprendre et se rendre à l'évidence que ces droits acquis font partie intégrante de l'historique de ce pays. Ceci a été reconnu par l'article 93(1) de la Loi constitutionnelle de 1867. Ceci a été reconfirmé avec confiance de cause en l'incluant dans la Charte et par d'autres lois depuis, la dernière étant le parachèvement visé par la Loi 30.

Reconnaître l'historique du fait religieux au Canada, l'historique de l'acquisition des droits religieux en ce pays est aussi reconnaître par le fait même le fondement du fait français an Canada, le parallèle de l'acquisition des droits linguistiques et, par conséquent, l'importance de ceux-ci tels qu'on les retrouve dans la Charte.

Ce lien qui existe entre les droits religieux et les droits linguistiques est l'essence même de la réalité et de la fièrté franco-ontariennes. C'est pourquoi il est primordial non seulement de conserver mais de valoriser l'éducation catholique de langue française. Le jugement Marchand et la Cour d'appel de 1984, la Loi 75 de 1986 et le jugement Mahé de 1990 sont tous des exemples de pas positifs de la volonté politique qui existent, qui ont comme but, espérons-le, de finalement commencer à répondre aux aspirations des francophones, ce qui n'équivaut vraiment qu'à leur accorder ce qui leur est dû et ceci depuis déjà trop longtemps.

Dans le domaine des droits sociaux, la première affirmation officielle de ces droits a vu le jour par le dépôt de la Loi de 1986 sur les services en français. Afin d'alléger certaines craintes exprimées de part et d'autre vis-à-vis soit son interprétation ou son application, il incombe au gouvernement de redoubler d'ardeur face à l'intempérie, fort de la conviction du bien-fondé de cette Loi, de la nécessité d'un certain rétablissement de justice sociale et de tout autre sentiment similaire qui a sans doute joué dans la formulation du texte et de son préambule, puisque c'est ce qui s'en degage.


Cette conviction est toutefois ombrée de façon sérieuse non pas par une réaction quelconque à ce qui était légiférée, mais plutôt par la possibilité d'interférence à la notion première qui apporterait l'entérinement en loi de certains propos qui ont été avancés dans le rapport du Comité d'étude provinciale-municipale sur les services sociaux à cette possibilité que de preserver les droits acquis dans certains cas ne pourrait plus être garanti. En ce qui a trait aux débats entourant l'unité nationale, il est important de comprendre la position des Franco-Ontariens. Quoi qu'il advienne de la question constitutionnelle de la nouvelle entente qui se formule progressivement entre le Canada et le Québec -- et ici, permettez-moi une parenthèse pour dire que je partage l'enthousiasme exprimé par M. Rémillard cette semaine suite à l'entente fédérale-provinciale qui a été conclue -- quel que soit le dignement de ce chapitre dans l'histoire du Canada, il est important de reconnaître que les droits acquis doivent être protégés, et dans un deuxième temps que les Franco-Ontariens soient reconnus à part entière pour ce que nous sommes. Nous ne sommes pas des exiles, nous sommes chez nous ici en Ontario pour y rester, ce qui veut dire que les termes tels que «francophones hors Québec» et «Ontarois», à part leur sens decrriptif qui est aride, bien que techniquement correct, s'attaquent au coeur même de la francophonie en Ontario.

Pour ce qui est de revendication autochtone, il devrait être incontestable que toute entente formelle conclue avec les premières nations, soit avant ou après la Confédération, ait la force d'un article constitutionnel. Il est grand temps de reconnaître les possibilités que renferme ce vaste et magnifique pays, ces possibilités que, semble-t-il, les autres nations du monde entrevoient plus clairement que nous ne l'avons collectivement fait à date, de reconnaître que nous sommes depuis toujours à ce seuil et que la clé à la portée de la main est le respect mutuel dans le plein sens des mots.

Je termine avec le préambule à la Charte, un énoncé court mais à point. Puisse-t-il guider vos délibérations.

«Attendu que le Canada est fondé sur les principes qui reconnaissent la suprématie de Dieu et la primauté du droit.» Merci.

M. Beer : Il y a une chose, peut-être, c'est plutôt un commentaire que j`aimerais faire parce que vous êtes la deuxième ou troisième personne à souligner le rapport provincial-municipal sur les services sociaux : j'aimerais souligner que mon prédécesseur comme ministre des services sociaux, M. Sweeney, et moi-même et, je pense, le nouveau gouvernement, tout le monde a dit clairement que dans le cas où l'on transfère l'administration de certains services sociaux de la province aux municipalités, on va assurer que les francophones vont continuer de recevoir ces services dans les régions désignées en français. Je pense que s'il y a des inquiétudes là-dessus, il y a assez de commentaires faits dans la Chambre ou dans le Hansard des débats pour souligner qu'on va continuer de fournir des services en langue française.

M. Cayouette : Ce que vous dites est rassurant, mais vous comprendrez les aspirations qu'ont les francophones à préserver ces droits acquis, et je crois qu'il est tout aussi important, si telle est la volonté politique lorsque ceci serait mis en place, de reconnaître ce principe fondamental et aussi de le reconnaîre non dans un énoncé général, mais de façon à ce que l'application de cet énoné ne pourrait être interprétée.

M. Beer : Je suis d'accord.

M. Cayouette : Merci, monsieur.

The Chair: I would like to go through the remainder of the list, realizing that we are a little ahead of schedule, but in case some of the other presenters are here. Are any of the people from the Indian Friendship Centre here? Carolyn Harrington, Claudctte McLeod? No? Okay. Lisette Lapointe and Gail Broad? Are you Lisette Lapointe?

Ms Lapointe: Yes.


Mme Lapointe : Monsieur le Président, membres du comité, mesdames et messieurs, je désire tout d'abord remercier les membres du comité spécial sur la place que doit occuper l'Ontario dans la Confédération d'avoir pris l'initiative de faire le tour de la province pour consulter les électrices et électeurs et de me fournir ainsi l'occasion d'exprimer mon opinion sur le rôle que doit jouer notre province au sein de la Confédération canadienne. Je considère ce sujet très important pour l'avenir de notre pays, le Canada. La Confédération d'un pays détermine les droits de ses citoyennes ct citoyens et contient et érige toutes les lois les concernant. C'est pourquoi je suis heureuse de pouvoir exprimer mes attentes vis-à-vis du mandat que lui incombe la défense de sa population sur une même égalité, peu importent sa langue, sa culture et le reste.

En tant que Canadienne française d'origine québécoise, je suis heureuse d'avoir l'occasion de présenter mon point de vue sur la place que doit occuper l'Ontario dans la Confédération canadienne, même s'il me fut très difficile de prendre la décision de me rendre à Sault-Sainte-Marie pour les raisons que vous connaissez. Résidente de cette région depuis plus de 21 ans, j'ai participé aux développements économiques et sociaux de ma région et de ma province. Je veux ici confirmer que je vais continuer, étant coordonnatrice d'un centre d'alphabétisation pour adultes francophones. Je considère important que les francophones de cette province puissent exprimer leur opinion sur un sujet qui pour moi est d'une importance primordiale pour l'avenir du Canada.

La communauté francophone de la région de Wawa-Dubreuilville est dynamique, vibrante et déterminée à protéger sa langue, sa culture française. Le centre d'alphabétisation Porte-Ouverte est un acquis dans ce sens. Je sais que nous sommes dotés de quelques institutions francophones scolaires, telles que l'école primaire Saint-Joseph, et l'école secondaire Carrefour Superieur-Nord, qui n'est que dans sa sixième année d'existence, ainsi que le Centre francophone chez nous et le Cercle le rouet. Plusieurs agences de services sociaux visent à offrir leurs services en français, telles que l'aide à l'enfance, le service d'aide sociale et l'Unité de la santé Algoma. Certaines de ces agences disent desservir la communauté ; par contre, le personnel embauché pour ce faire a souvent bien de la difficulté à s'exprimer en français.

L'hôpital semble être intéressé à vouloir mettre sur pied un programme de services en français pour desservir la population francophone de la région que je représente. Laissez-moi vous dire que c'est un souhait général de la part de la communauté francophone.

Le Canada est à une étape délicate et déterminante face à son avenir. Depuis moins d'un an beaucoup d'événements peu attendus sont survenus dans ce pays qui se disait si paisible. Rappelons-nous l'échec du Lac Meech, qui a déçu une grande majorité de la population canadienne, la crise d'Oka, qui a suscité différentes opinions parmi les habitants de notre pays, la reprise des idées souverainistes au Québec dû au fait que ce peuple se sent rejeté du reste du pays, le sentiment d'aliénation de l'Ouest canadien, le traitement réservé aux autochtones ; tous ces faits remettent en question l'existence même de notre pays, le Canada. Je crois que l'Ontario peut et doit jouer un rôle supérieur dans les décisions prises sur l'unité des différentes régions du pays.


L'Ontario est une province reconnue pour sa puissance économique et sa force d'attraction industrielle ; elle a donc moins de demandes fondamentales de changements à formuler et peut ainsi jouer un rôle de médiateur. Dans le rapprochement de différentes communautés, considérant la présence d'un demi-million de francophones, de nombreux groupes culturels et des communautés autochtones, je crois que ceci justifie que l'Ontario est bien située pour signaler l'importance de maintenir des liens étroits et productifs entre les différents éléments de sa communauté. Dans la définition de l'unité du pays, l'Ontario doit occuper une place importante et se doit de négocier avec le gouvernement fédéral des lois justes et équitables pour toutes les différentes provinces de notre pays, le Canada.

L'Ontario devrait tenir compte des diversités linguistiques et de l'économie locale et régionale qui les composent, de la culture de chaque peuple formant les différentes populations provinciales à travers le Canada. Je reconnais les quelques efforts que le gouvernement de l'Ontario a investis pour que les francophones de ma région se sentent partie prenantes et participants au dynamisme de l'Ontario, soit l'obtention dans notre région d'une école secondaire française et le support du programme d' alphabétisation francophone.

Mais je crois qu'il reste beaucoup à faire en ce sens et en voici quelques exemples.

Je demande que ces efforts soient poursuivis et intensifiés en désignant notre région selon la Loi sur les services en français. Cette loi, présentement, ne s'applique qu'au gouvernement, car les agences de services sociaux, les services de santé et nos gouvernements municipaux demeurent libres de demander la désignation. On dit que les services en français coûtent cher au peuple canadien. Messieurs les députés et ministres, faites en sorte que ces services soient appliqués le plus tôt possible et le gouvernement économisera plusieurs millions.

Le gouvernement de l'Ontario, par l'entremise de la direction de l'alphabétisation, a démontré des économies substantielles de l'amélioration des communications et en milieu de travail. Nous sommes persuadés, à Porte-Ouverte, que la même logique s'applique à la fin ; une étude des services en français s'impose de ce fait. Faisant la promotion de la dualité linguistique dans la province, nous savons tous que cette dualité existe réellement dans notre pays. La culture et la mentalité des peuples ne sont pas les mêmes pour tous. Pour ce qui est de la culture française, chaque francophone de cette province doit s'occuper de la conserver et de la donner en héritage à ses enfants. Mais pour cela, nous avons besoin de l'aide de votre gouvernement. La communauté francophone est l'un des peuples fondateurs de ce pays qui, dès le début du 17e siècle, étaient présents par l'arrivée de Samuel de Champlain à Québec en 1608. Aujourd'hui, je suis fière d'être Canadienne, mais j'espère pouvoir un jour être fière d'être Franco-ontanienne.

Financer adéquatement les programmes d'éducation de base et les programmes d'alphabétisation populaires francophones de l'Ontario : on sait que le taux d'analphabétisme chez les Franco-Ontariens se situe entre 38% et 42%. Le gouvernement de l'Ontario est conscient du fait que les institutions francophones au niveau secondaire n'existent que depuis quelques années, et qu'au niveau post-secondaire et universitaire, nous, Franco-Ontariens, ne jouissons pas d'un système enviable au Canada.

Comparés aux anglophones du Québec qui possèdent leurs écoles primaires et secondaires, leurs universités et la gérance de leurs systèmes scolaires ainsi que leurs hôpitaux, nous, Franco-Ontaniens, faisons piètre figure en comparaison avec eux. Si le taux d'analphabétisme est si élevé chez les francophones ontariens, la faute en revient directement au système de l'éducation de l'Ontario qui, par ses politiques d'assimilation, n'a pas su dans le passé répondre aux besoins d'éducation dans notre langue maternelle. Le rôle de l'Ontanio dans ce cas-ci est de faire inscrire dans la constitution canadienne le droit à l'égalité d'éducation des francophones à partir du primaire jusqu'au niveau universitaire, en lui fournissant les institutions françaises et surtout la gérance de celles-ci.

Supportant les médias d'informations francophones, par exemple, les postes de télévision diffusant l'information locale et régionale, les journaux francophones de nos regions : les coupures actuelles à la Société Radio-Canada ne favorisent aucunement le développement de la minorité francophone. Par la fermeture de la station de télévision de Toronto, nous sommes privés de la seule source provinciale d'informations que nous avions en français dans notre région. Il nous sera très difficile dans l'avenir d'être bien informés. La seule source d'informations françaises que nous avons est la station de radio CBON de Sudbury. Il s'avère déjà difficile pour cette station de radio de couvrir tout le Nord de l'Ontario. Peut-on leur en demander davantage ?

En mettant sur pied des programmes français destinés aux femmes, comme les garderies, aide aux femmes battues et intégration du marché du travail, programmes d'études secondaires et post-secondaires en français pour adultes, ne serait-ce pas là la façon de démontrer au reste du pays votre intérêt envers votre minorité francophone ?

En répondant au document de consultation, je désire souligner les commentaires suivants vis-à-vis du Québec. Nous savons tous que le Québec a un caractère différent des autres provinces du pays. Le temps est maintenant venu pour l'Ontario de reconnaître ce fait, ce qui ne lui enlève en rien dans les droits qu'elle possède au sein du gouvernement du Canada. Le Québec est la seule province dont la population est en majorité francophone. On dit que le Québec désire la séparation du reste du Canada. Est-ce que la majorité anglophone ne s'est jamais attardée à se demander si elle n'était pas la cause de cette demande de séparation ?

Se sentant un peuple différent, les résidentes et résidents de cette province n'ont pas la certitude d'être chez eux à travers tout le Canada, et je crois que c'est la même impression pour bien des Franco-Ontaniens. Quelle est la définition d'un Franco-Ontarien dans la constitution canadienne, et comment ses droits sont-ils définis, avec ou sans le Québec ; s'il vous plaît, donnez l'example au reste du pays. Inscrivez les droits des Franco-Ontariens dans la constitution.

Nous sommes conscients tous et chacun que nous vivons un moment critique de l'histoire du pays. Les Ontariens et Ontaniennes, et davantage le gouvernement qui les représente, doivent jouer un rôle clé dans la définition du Canada. Je garde l'espoir qu'un Canada est encore possible avec la bonne volonté de tous les peuples qui le forment et qui sont fiers d'être des Canadiens et Canadiennes de ce grand pays qu'est le nôtre. Merci.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: May I speak for a moment to you? I thank you very much for coming today. You speak with passion and a great deal of feeling and, I sense, hopefulness. I do not know what your connection with the educational system is, but you did mention it several times. I do not know whether you are a teacher, trustee, parent. Maybe you would like to tell us that. You seem to feel that you have made that transition to the French educational system or with the French section of your school board rather well. Could you tell us a little about why you think that bridge has been built with such a strong foundation, or some of the things that were important when that French school and its governance structures were established? I think it may help us to build bridges in other places if you could tell us why that has been a success.

Ms Lapointe: I do not understand your question because --

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I thought you might have had a translation. Sorry.


Le Président : Il doit y avoir un traducteur. Ms O'Neill, perhaps you could just summarize your question again so it could be translated.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: You spoke often of education throughout your presentation. You did that with some sense of hopefulness. You seem to have had a successful experience over the last five years -- I think you said six -- that you had been working with the establishment of the French school in the Wawa area. I wonder if you can say a little about why you think that was a success. Maybe that would help us build some bridges if you could tell us some reason. You do speak with passion and hopefulness.

Mme Lapointe : Une réussite, je ne sais pas si c'est vraiment une réussite. Disons que pour les commissions scolaires et tout on demanderait la gérance au moins des conseils scolaires, de nos propres écoles et tout. Si je vais exprimer mes sentiments si profondément, c'est peut-être que mes enfants sont partis pour l'école secondaire, l'université et tout, et même j'ai un fils qui, pour prendre ses cours en français, est obligé de se rendre à l'Université Laval à Québec parce que dans le système d'éducation en Ontario, il ne peut pas prendre son instruction en français.

M. Bisson : Premièrement, j'aimerais vous féliciter pour le courage d'être venue par l'avance. Vous avez exprimé un peu vos sentiments. Vous avez mentionné dans votre présentation un point que j'ai trouvé intéressant et je pense que c'est quelque chose qui est un peu central à la question. Vous avez dit dans votre présentation qu'une partie du problème, c'est que ni un bord ni l'autre vis-à-vis de la question francophone-anglophone comprend quand ça touche l'histoire de la question elle-même. Le francophone au Québec ressent ce qu'il ressent par expérience, c'est quelque chose qu'il a vécu pour toute sa vie; c'est la même affaire avec les anglophones. Ma question est, comment essayer de faire comprendre au monde que chacun a son idée, sa question, cbacun ressent ce qu'il ressent pour une raison ? Mais ça ne veut pas dire qu'on ne peut pas s'entendre. C'est quoi le véhicule que l'on peut utiliser pour ça ?

Mme Lapointe : C'est sûr que si les deux peuples voudraient s'entendre, ils pourraient avoir possibilité d'entendre, mais je pense que les anglophones devraient au moins donner peut-être plus de droits aux francophones. Puis si on compare ce qu'il y a au Québec comme je disais tout à l'heure, ils ont leurs universités, ils ont tout, tandis qu'ici nous on n'a pas ces choses-là. C'est sûr et certain que le Québec dans le Canada devrait avoir un statut distinct auprès de la Confédération, pour conserver sa langue et sa culture, qu'il se mette une petite heure, et en minorité, et ça lui fera au moins des droits spécifiques pour pouvoir continuer à être un peuple autonome et conserver sa culture française.

M. Winninger : Nous avons écouté des gens qui veulent dire que là où la population franco-ontarienne est très, très minuscule, il ne faut pas offrir les mêmes services en français qu'en anglais. Avez-vous quelque chose à dire à ce sujet ?

Mme Lapointe : Bien, la population est peut-être minoritaire, c'est sûr, mais je ne pense pas que le gouvernement, vient le temps de remplir les formules d'impôts ou quoi que ce soit, diminue les impôts parce que les francophones n'ont pas leurs services. On paie le même nombre d'impôts sur notre travail et tout. Je pense que la communauté francophone contribue quand même beaucoup au développement économique de la province ici dans le Nord de l'Ontario aussi parce que les francophones sont en grande majorité dans le Nord de l'Ontario.

The Chair: I would just like to ask if any of the people I called out earlier are present in the room now. No? I will just go through again: Andy Lavoie, Ed Thomas, Brian Cleary, Carolyn Harrington, Claudette Chevrier-McLeod, Gayle Ouellette, Terry-Lynn Coulis, Gail Broad. What about Denise Martel? No? Okay. Those were scheduled for a little later, most of them were. I am going to suggest to the committee that we break for about 15 minutes and then resume when the other presenters will have arrived.


The Chair: Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I apologize to the people here for not raising that earlier. I was going to announce that after the break. As you say, all of the simultaneous translation devices are being used now. For people who require translation either into English or French, I guess French is possible by following in the room next to us. There are a few others we have here that some of us do not need. We could make those available as well. That service is available, as you indicated.

Okay, we will break for 15 minutes.

The committee recessed at 1507.


The Chair: I call the meeting back to order. We are resuming our hearings from the Civic Centre council chamber in Sault Ste Marie.


The Chair: The next group I would like to invite to speak to us is from the Indian Friendship Centre. There are four individuals. I will ask them to introduce themselves before they begin.

Ms Chevrier-McLeod: I am Claudette Chevier-McLeod, the criminal court worker for the Sault Ste Marie Indian Friendship Centre. With me is Carolyn Harrington, the community development worker. We have a student placement from the family court worker program; her name is Gayle Ouellette. Terry-Lynn Coulis is our referral worker.

I am going to do an introduction and then they will address some specific things that are of concern of our community.

The status of the first nations within Confederation as it stands is ensured with the federal government through treaties and the Constitution. There is no defined relationship between the provinces and the first nations for off-reserve natives. Urban natives are dependent on the whims of whichever government is in power at the time for representation and for services.

While the Ontario government has been implementing programs that address native needs since the 1960s, these programs have been of a Band-Aid nature in response to crisis situations. Some examples that come to mind are the high dropout rate of native students, the recidivism of native people in jail, inadequate housing, inadequate health care for natives, especially when it comes to our elders, and there are many more other areas. We need major surgery.

We need long-term commitment to native programming. There have been native components to programming in the ministries and what we consider tokenism, when a native person is put into a position just to -- what is the word? -- pacify our needs. The ministry needs to hire more native consultants. The moneys have not been available for native organizations to develop appropriate programs to service our membership.

The moneys allotted for salaries are much below what a comparable job in the government would be paid. With pay equity, we are asking: Where is our pay equity, if pay equity is supposed to be put into play? Were do the moneys come from, if you are requesting that people get pay equity? Some of the people in the friendship centre are being paid below any other agency that does a comparable job. We feel the time has come for the provincial government to take a stand and develop a mandate of its own pertaining to urban natives of this province.

Members of our staff would like to address some of the more pressing matters that are of concern to our community at this time, and then we will answer any questions the committee may have for us.

Ms C. Harrington: My role at the Indian Friendship Centre is community worker, and I also do much of the education work. I am speaking not only for the friendship centre at this time but also for a committee we have in Sault Ste Marie that involves membership from the bands and all the local urban native organizations. We work very strongly together as an educational unit, and we direct our concerns to the Ministry of Education.

The province has stated a commitment and an interest in the preservation of native languages, yet within the ministry there is no personnel responsible for the native-as-a-second-language program. We need someone in the ministry to be responsible for curriculum development, for resource development and for classroom teacher development, and we would ask that the ministry place a native language consultant at the regional ministry office for the Ojibway language program.

A second concern is that the native language in the school remains only an option at the secondary school level, that native students who have taken Ojibway language through elementary school are still compelled to take French as a compulsory subject, unless they have the personal exemption of their principal from taking French. We ask that the ministry make Ojibway a compulsory subject in lieu of French for native students. We have been asking that for several years now. I remember we first asked Keith Lickers from the ministry in 1985. We ask yearly, and they say it has to be done at a political level, so we are asking you now. We would like you to start addressing it.

A third area is the native dropout rate. It has been acknowledged as shockingly high across the province, especially the north. Last year there was a principals' conference on this issue, but we have not seen anything come out of that. We were hoping that perhaps, as a starter, there would be native student counsellors placed in the schools for our native students.

Ms Ouellette: I am Gayle Ouellette. I am a student placement from Sault College at the Indian Friendship Centre. One of the concerns I have, just since I have been at the friendship centre since January, is the lack of a place to send our native youth. We had a teenager just recently; she did not fit into any of the guidelines that Cara House or the Women in Crises Centre have, so we had no place to send her. Fortunately, one of our native elders took her in overnight.

Also, this city could use an open-custody facility for the natives run by native people, who have a better understanding of the cultural differences and who can teach the cultural ways to our youth.

I just wanted to mention, for Marlene Antoniow, our health promotion practitioner, her concern is the lack of funding from the Ministry of Health. All the funding she receives is from special projects. I think we all feel that the funding should be long-term. Thank you.

Ms Coulis: I am Terry-Lynn Coulis, the referral worker at the Indian Friendship Centre. One of my concerns is, what do we do with our elders if they do not fit into the perfect criteria that are asked by a home for the aged? I feel that because facilities are government-funded, they should not have the right to refuse anyone, and they do. If you do not fit into their perfect mould they refuse you, and those people end up in chronic care units at hospitals, which becomes more of a burden. This city really needs a facility for people who do not fit into that mould.

Another concern I have is that this city really needs a place for family crisis. Rather than just women or men, there needs to be some sort of facility to put a whole family that is in crisis, whether it be accommodation, fire or whatever. We find often that there may be a whole family that is in a crisis situation and has nowhere to go; often we can find a place for the mother and the children but the father is usually left sleeping in the car or wherever because there just does not seem to be anywhere they can go as an actual family. That is all.

Mr Offer: First, let me thank you for coming to the committee to tell us of the Indian Friendship Centre and tell us some of the concerns you have. Some of the issues you have raised are ones which certainly we are going to have to deal with as we go through our hearings, especially the whole question of the preservation of language, in this case the Ojibway language. That issue has been brought forward to us on a number of occasions now, and I believe that is something we are going to have to deal with as we go through this committee.

There are a number of Indian friendship centres throughout the province, and I am wondering if you could share with us whether there is any dialogue or co-operation between individual Indian friendship centres, sharing some of the concerns, sharing some of the needs. If there is, how are they brought forward?

The second point I want to raise by way of question -- because probably the Chairman will cut me off after the first question so I thought I would just flow right into it -- could you share with us in a very fundamental way some of the difficulties you are facing in the centre, some of the difficulties that people are bringing forward as they come to the centre? I know you have brought forward some of the issues which are of concern to you, but is there something of a fundamental underlying nature that might be and should be very helpful to us?

Ms C. Harrington: I am the old lady, so they are letting me go first. I will speak to the first part and the rest can speak to the second.

We have a very strong federation, the Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres. I will speak in its praise first, and then I will say a few negative things about it. They do bring us together quite often for workshops, individual programs and co-ordinated programs where we all go down; for instance, we are going next week to Toronto. We have an opportunity to exchange ideas with each other and to sort of get the word from the top as well. Yes, there are a lot of back-and-forth discussions, and we do get to know our peers in the other friendship centres. We are widely scattered so it is hard to get together other than that. They funnel us twice or three times a year through Toronto.

The negative is that very often policies are set between the Ontario federation, which is in Toronto, and yourselves without consulting the people who are actually in the field; and because they do not have specific people in education, say -- that is my particular interest -- within the Ontario federation, they will just pick someone from staff to go on that committee, and we are back in Sault Ste Marie saying: "Hey, we're the ones who know the conditions. We know the concerns. We know the individuals. Why are we not being brought into these talks?" I know there are money constraints and you cannot bring us all down and talk to us all, but if you can fund something like this, perhaps you could send one person up to talk to us, the people who actually work in the field. So there is the good and bad of it.


Ms Coulis: Usually when people have concerns I am the person they send them to. One of the biggest concerns, and I get many, many phone calls, is the interpretation of tax exempt and especially how the GST is applying to that. I get many calls saying, "This store has refused me." There seem to be many interpretations of how it is to apply. There was nothing really cut and dried or clearly set out, and that seems to be one of the biggest concerns right now. I cannot think of anything else right off the bat.

We get a lot of requests for emergency housing or emergency money and it is something that we do not have in our centre. It would be something that we would like to see, some sort of fund to draw from. Sometimes somebody only needs maybe $10. It is quite a process to have to refer them to city welfare and often they are denied for one reason or another. Sometimes, you know, a lot of times these people are not asking for you to give it to them but to loan it to them. If we do, by some chance, have some petty cash and lend it, often we get it back. In fact, I would say more often we get it back. The person will come back.

The thing about welfare is that often if they are going to talk to you, they want you to have a place of residence for them to be able to come to your place of residence. But if you do not have any money, getting a place of residence is almost impossible, and it is kind of putting the cart before the horse. That is something we run into often.

Ms Chevrier-McLeod: One of the concerns that I as a criminal court worker deal with that comes to mind is the fact that there is not any native liaison. The city of Sault Ste Marie's jail depends strictly on volunteers and there is no funding available. It is my understanding that there is a process going on right now to try to secure funds for a native liaison worker but as yet nothing has happened in that regard at all.

Mr Martin: I have listened very intently to what you had to say this afternoon and certainly see all that you have to say as symptoms of a system that is radically and fundamentally wrong in terms of your ability as people to reach your potential and participate fully in our community. My own experience with native people over the last years that I have lived in the north has been one of real awe, because I think you have so much to teach us in terms of community and how you live as a community and some of the values that you hold so near and dear.

I watch you struggle with that and I know that as native people you live very much on the energy provided by dreams that you have. You are great dreamers, and I think at this time in our history as Canadians, we need to be challenged by dreams, by visions of ways that we might be together. I thought for a minute I might invite you to, if you can -- I know it is not that easy in this kind of a forum to share in that way -- maybe challenge us a little bit and give us a little bit of your understanding of what Canada could be like in the best of all possible worlds for you as native people, so that we might also roll a little bit on the energy that that will give to us as a committee as we struggle with where we are going as a country?

Ms Chevrier-McLeod: Again we will call on Carolyn.

Ms C. Harrington: When in doubt. Here we came prepared to be very, very negative.

We did not come prepared to be pleasant. This will get me starting to think pleasantly. I would like to, first of all, thank Tony. He is talking about the value of community. Tony, our new MPP, has moved into our neighbourhood with his offices, and I think that is a very, very strong statement. We thank you, Tony, very much for that.

Okay, positive, Carolyn, think positive. I think we are seeing -- we are not just dreaming -- we are starting to see the actual things that we can be. Speaking for education, we are seeing people now not just staying in elementary school, staying in secondary school; we are working now on how to keep people staying in university so that they go on and become what they can be at that point.

Things are starting to happen. We are getting housing programs, and all these things that we have been working at at the bottom levels are starting to take effect. Maybe now that we are not having to worry about what we are going to eat and where we are going to sleep, we can start dreaming about where we would actually like to go with this when we are equal with other people. That is the most positive thing I can think of to say.

Ms Ouellette: I really feel that the schools should be allowed to have a cultural class for their native youths, because that is where it has to start. Our young people have to be taught about the old ways. I know for me it has just been in the past couple of years that I have been able to come back into touch with my own culture. I feel it is a beautiful culture and I really feel that I have grown a lot from it. It is really nice to be able to work with the Indian Friendship Centre and come in touch a lot more with the native people and the elders.

I am finding that still a lot of times people are thinking that just because our culture is different, it is bad. We have to change these attitudes, you know. We have a lot to share with people, and I think native people are really open to sharing these things with other people. If people would just keep more of an open mind -- you are more than welcome to attend our social ceremonies. We have a lot of powwows and stuff and you are more than welcome. That is where it starts.

Ms C. Harrington: Just one of the components of being a criminal court worker is to educate our community, and by doing this, we put on four workshops per year. Recently, we had a workshop at the Indian Friendship Centre and we had grades 6, 7 and 8 invited. I would like to share with the committee the fact that we did some really serious teaching about -- it was called Justice: It's Not Just Us Any More. It is not the law against us as being native people, taking responsibility.

Some of the comments were very, very positive, And I think one of the components of the workshop itself was the fact that we had treated those children as equals. We did the traditional handshake ceremony where we in turn greet one another. I guess you would have to participate in one to really know what I was talking about, but some of the children were non-native and they really felt they learned a lot because they got to be themselves. They were not in a strict classroom environment with the teacher at the front dictating what they should know.

That is one of the things that we as a people can add to the non-native culture and community, for the general population to realize that we are a unique people and we do have a lot of things that we would like to share and continue to share.

Mr Eves: I wanted to clarify something I thought I heard, that you do not have a native court liason officer. Is that what you said?

Ms Chevrier-McLeod: Right, at the district jail here. We do not. We have one presently working as a volunteer. She is a student like Gayle, in the same native community worker program, and she is trying to put forward a proposal for funding, I guess more or less to secure herself a job when she graduates, but it is a good start.

Right now they are depending on volunteering. There is a process of offering tobacco, in order to get an elder to come into the jail, that a lot of the non-native people do not understand. You cannot just say, "Hey, Mr So-and-so, can you come down to the jail?" You have to offer them tobacco first. So there is kind of like a traditional way of going about it that a lot of people are not aware of.


Mr Eves: That is a very worthwhile need and one that I think all members of the committee would be very well advised to pursue.

Speaking of sharing cultures and imparting native culture not only to your own youth, I know that the Indian Friendship Centre in my own riding of Parry Sound is a very active one indeed. Speaking on a positive note, I know that it has helped me a great deal in my role in the last 10 years as a member of the provincial Legislature to become quite involved in a process which they call -- and maybe you have the same process -- native awareness days. A week out of every year or perhaps more, they take this period of time not only to make their own youth aware of your culture and your heritage, but also, just as important, to have a sharing of cultures between the native and non-native communities. I think we could all learn something from that.

Ms Chevrier-McLeod: Yes, sharing is a very important part of our culture. One of the main components is sharing.

The Chair: Thank you very much. I am sorry, we are going to have move on. We do have a couple of other presenters. Thank you.


M. le Président : Je voudrais appeler Max Iland.

M. Iland : Monsieur le Président, membres du comité, mesdames, mesdemoiselles, messieurs, au nom de l'Alliance Sault-Canada, un organisme fondé par les francophones de Sault-Sainte-Marie, afin de révoquer la résolution unilinguisme anglais passée par le conseil municipal de la ville, permettez-moi de vous souhaiter la bienvenue, ceci dans une ville qui, regrettablement, par l'entreprise de son conseil municipal, a fortement contribué au déchirement qui étreint notre pays.

Nous sommes une association qui s'est créée par un cri du coeur, une réaction à l'odieux du geste qui s'est perpétré ici. La présence francophone à Sault-Sainte-Marie remonte à l'époque de la découverte et de l'exploration du Canada. Les premiers Européens qui ont pagayé le long de la rive sur laquelle la ville est située étaient francophones. Leurs voix et leurs chants ont résonné dans la région. C'est d'eux que nous vient le nom de la ville.

Depuis cette époque et jusqu'à récemment la ville n'a cessé d'être un milieu où la francophonie et ses membres se sont épanouis. En ce faisant, nous avons établi des écoles, des paroisses et de nombreuses organisations d'ordre social et religieux. Ces écoles, ces paroisses et ces organisations ont fortement contribué au bien-être de chacun, anglophone et francophone. C'est un historique que nous voulons maintenir dans le présent et dans l'avenir, historique qui nous permet de regarder un passé dont nous sommes à juste titre fiers, et un avenir dans lequel nous voulons maintenir cette fierté et notre contribution entièrement positive.

Aujourd'hui autour de nous, de près ou de loin, nous voyons un pays magnifique, à tout point de vue, en proie à des angoisses et à une crise d'identité, une crise d'identité que la province de Québec n'a pas vécue. Au contraire, cette crise est le reflet d'un manque de leadership venant du gouvernement fédéral, qui représentait cet échec par l'échec du lac Meech, par l'aliénation des provinces de l'Ouest, par le soulèvement des autochtones, par le mouvement souverainiste du Québec. Tous ces faits jouent un rôle; ils sont le miroir d'un peuple en désarroi, sans guides ou lignes de conduite. C'est l'heure où ceux qui ont le potentiel, le désir, qui sentent le devoir d'agir doivent se lever hautement et participer dans la pleine mesure de leur capacité à des actions qui maintiendront la Confédération canadienne intacte.

Nous sommes convaincus que la province de l'Ontario, la plus peuplée, la plus riche, incorporant sur son territoire la capitale fédérale, Ottawa, et la ville canadienne la plus grande, possédant la puissance industrielle la plus forte touchant aux frontières de deux provinces avec la plus grande population francophone hors Québec, cette province, ayant reconnu ces concepts qui enrichissent, c'est-à-dire ceux des deux peuples fondateurs du multiculturalisme, des droits des autochtones, cette province, par ses antécédents, se doit d'agir dans le sens le plus large, le plus complet et le plus entier, ceci afin de s'assurer et de faire en sorte que les fissures s'agrandissant journellement ne mènent à une brèche que nul ne pourra colmater, et que ce vaisseau sur lequel nous naviguons ne disparaisse à jamais.

Dans la Confédération canadienne, la province de l'Ontario est celle qui s'est trouvée la meilleure niche, ceci peut-être à cause de sa situation géographique qui la place au centre du pays, mais également à cause de la diversité de sa culture faite de nombreux immigrants d'origines différentes, des deux peuples fondateurs, des autochtones qui eux aussi ont un rôle d'envergure à jouer. Tout déchirement, tout changement constitutionnel autre que ceux faits à l'unisson nous touchent directement et nous toucheront en proportion directe. La présence d'un demi-million de francophones en Ontario indique combien est important l'avenir de la province pour les Franco-Ontariens. Dans un sens plus direct, la survie des Franco-Ontariens est un autre avis incontestablement liée à un Canada uni, reconnaissant la richesse que représente la diversité de notre peuple tout entier, que l'on parle des autochtones, des « ethnics » ou des peuples fondateurs. Ceci forme ce qui est ce qu'on a appris à nommer la mosaïque culturelle canadienne.

Il y en a parmi nous qui voudraient diminuer et éventuellement éliminer l'importance de cette mosaïque; nous n'y croyons pas. Le gouvernement ontarien a dans le passé supporté cette mosaïque. Nous en sommes heureux. À l'avenir nous désirons voir cet appui s'affermir afin que l'épanouissement des Franco-Ontariens aille de pair avec celui des autres segments de notre société. Nous demandons la promotion de la dualité linguistique dans la province et ceci en dépit de certains; nous demandons la reconnaissance des droits inaliénables des Franco-Ontariens.


Notre réaction au document de consultation, Changement et renouveau, est la suivante : la province de Québec a toujours été une société distincte. Aujourd'hui, sa culture est riche et féconde. Les arts et les lettres sont florissants. Cette société, introduisant une diversité nouvelle, enrichit énormément la nôtre, les francophones hors Québec ainsi que les anglophones. Nous espérons que dans un Canada uni, nos gouvernements sauront trouver le mot juste afin de permettre au Québec de continuer de fleurir dans une Confédération saine et vigoureuse. Les aborigènes eux aussi constituent une société distincte. Nous souhaitons voir ce peuple des premiers Canadiens éclore à une vie et à une meilleure aisance. De par leur origine, ils ont des droits. Les ignorer, ces droits, ne fera que nous diminuer. Les reconnaître et leur permettre de se développer ne peut que nous enrichir. Nous préférons de loin voir parmi nous une société autochtone féconde et active, fière de sa culture et de ses origines ancestrales, à celle d'une société autochtone atrophiée et qui, indirectement, aura le même effet sur la nôtre.

Pour terminer, Monsieur le Président, je désire parler d'une chose qui nous tient à coeur : la dignité humaine. Comme je l'ai dit au début de mon mémoire, les Franco-Ontariens de la ville, de la province et du Canada ont été bafoués par la résolution unilingue de la ville. Cette même ville, en proie à des difficultés économiques considérables, près de la faillite, aujourd'hui le conseil municipal de cette ville a demandé au gouvernement son appui financier, un appui qui nous permettrait de sortir de ce marasme.

La souffrance humaine qui découle de cette situation est énorme; adultes et enfants souffrent énormément. La misère et la dignité sont parfois inconcevables, mais ça existe. Et c'est pourquoi nous supportons intensément toute intervention gouvernementale possible. Que ce soit de manière financière ou autre, nous la supportons. Toutefois, tout comme dans l'industrie privée, où l'individu en difficultés financières va voir son banquier afin que celui-ci puisse l'aider à remettre ses affaires en bon état, nous demandons, comme le banquier qui insisterait que d'abord toutes les fuites de capital soient bloquées, que toutes dépenses soient examinées et éliminées si elles ne sont pas absolument indispensables, que toute situation qui empêche les rentrées de fonds soit nullifiée, nous demandons que le gouvernement provincial lui aussi agisse de la même manière et qu'il demande que la ville élimine toute législation municipale qui empêche les activités économiques de la ville de s'épanouir. La première de celles-ci serait la résolution unilingue anglaise adoptée dans cette même salle le 29 janvier 1990, non pas par la majorité à la suite d'un vote en bonne et due forme, mais par une minorité agissant avec une pétition guidée par un maire et un conseil en grande partie démagogues. Tous autres gestes verront les données publiques auxquelles la francophonie contribue versées à des gens qui d'une main nous giflent et qui nous tendent l'autre afin que nous réparions le dommage que leur action envers nous a causé.

C'est pour nous une pensée intolérable. Il serait simple d'un geste de mettre les choses au clair et ce geste, c'est simplement la révocation de la résolution. Je pourrais terminer ici, avec votre permission, Monsieur le Président, mais je voudrais ajouter quelques mots. Nous sommes tous, dans une certaine mesure, ce que nos expériences dans la vie ont fait de nous. Ce que nous voyons ici, nous le voyons tous en partant de notre point de vue, c'est-à-dire celui des gens qui ont vécu dans un pays et une société en général démocratique et qui ont été traités tels quels.

J'aimerais vous faire un petit texte très court qui vous expliquera mieux que je ne peux le faire mes sentiments. Bien que le texte à l'origine ne soit pas écrit en anglais, je le possède en anglais, et comme je ne suis pas absolument certain de ma traduction en français, si vous le permettez, je vais l'utiliser en anglais.

"First they arrested the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did nothing. Then they came for the Social Democrats, but I was not a Social Democrat so I did nothing. Then they arrested the trade unionists and I did nothing because I was not one. And then they came for the Jews and the Catholics, but I was neither a Jew non a Catholic and I did nothing. At last they came and arrested me. There was no one left to do anything about it."

The author, ladies and gentlemen, is Rev Martin Niemöller. Martin Niemöller is a survivor of Nazi prison camps.

Suggérer que la même situation peut se produire ici, to suggest that the same thing could happen here is of course not what I want to say. I do not believe it could happen here. But I suggest very strongly, mais je suggère très fortement, that the same sentiments that have brought about those events, que les mêmes sentiments qui ont amenés cette situation, exist among those who are behind that resolution, existent derrière ceux qui ont poussé cette résolution.

As I said earlier, we are all the result of our experiences, et je ne parle pas légèrement parce que, mesdames, mesdemoiselles, messieurs, j'ai vécu ces événements. Je les ai vus avant qu'ils ne prennent lieu. J'ai passé à travers ces événements et j'en ai vu la suite. Et quand j'ai fini, ceux qui m'entouraient au début n'étaient plus présents. J'ai un fils dans cet auditoire, je n'ai pas l'intention que lui doive revoir ne serait-ce que l'ombrage de ces sentiments. Je crois qu'il est impératif que chacun de vous, que chacun de nous qui que nous soyons, que le gouvernement à Toronto, fassiez de sorte que ces sentiments soient coupés au pied de l'herbe aussitôt que possible et aussi courts que possible. Ils n'ont pas de place dans le Canada que j'imagine pour moi, pour mes enfants surtout, pour la société qui nous entoure. C'est tout ce que j'ai à dire. Je vous remercie.


M. le Président : Merci, Monsieur Iland. Il y a quelques questions, je crois.

Mr Offer: Sir, you spoke both eloquently and passionately about those issues which concern you and I trust concern so many people. Underlying all of what you have said is a value of what you carry for this province.

My question to you, and I ask for your perspective, is, is it possible that the values and the hopes and the aspirations of those of us in Ontario are not different from those in Quebec, but rather that the difference lies in many cases in that maybe those in Ontario have an assurance or a higher degree of hope that they can be achieved with a stronger federal government, while those in Quebec feel that just cannot be the case?

Mr Iland: Yes, I would think that the aspirations are the same. I also believe that Meech Lake was extremely detrimental to the vision Quebec has of the rest of Canada.

When someone is thrown outside of the house because he is different, because his culture, his language, his religion, whatever, is different, he obviously does not feel welcome any more in that house, and once you do not feel welcome, you just want no part of it. I think that is what has occurred.

I think a very important aspect of it, in my view at least, in my modest opinion, is that English Canada does not understand Quebec. I am not suggesting that there are not people in Quebec who are racist -- I do not want to take the defence of those -- but I think that if you examine the overall situation and the actions of Quebec, its actions, which to many anglophones outside Quebec may have appeared critical in the sense that it was a rejection of English Canada, were not so. It was instead a retrenchment or a defence of what Quebec should be to them, and that is a French province with its culture, with its identity, with its language.

I am obviously an immigrant, and I have seen changes. I recall when I first landed in Montreal, I had a job, a summer job. I worked with students, and I remember how some of them told me, "The fact that we are bilingual makes us less likely to obtain a job than if we were unilingual English." These are people that since have become lawyers and have gone on to professions.

At that time I could not seize fully what that meant because I just got off the boat maybe a month before. Then I saw how the language deteriorated. It deteriorated because everything around Quebec is English, everything technical is English, movies in many cases are English, and so on. The influence of the English world on little Quebec is such that they have to push back. That is what it is. They have to push back in order to remain French.

I could give you many situations, sentences, where someone goes into Quebec and speaks in French. The gas attendant would come and he would use a sentence asking, "Do you want me to fill your car with gas?" The sentence used to be half French and half English. The French realized that they were losing their language and that they had to do something to maintain a clear distinction between French and English. So they worked appropriately and their actions were seen as a rejection of English Canada.

I repeat this, I am not suggesting that there are not people in Quebec who are racist. I suspect there are. There are some in every society. None of them are entirely pure. But if I may quote a young man from Three Rivers who came to this city this summer -- I was in an exchange 15 years ago and I had that young man in my group -- I asked him, "Aren't you concerned about coming to Sault Ste Marie?" He said, "No. For every racist that I find here, I will find one in Quebec."

So we are not that different. But my point is that when you look at the gestures that Quebec has made over the years, they were not as much a rejection of Canada as they were a defence of their own language and culture. Their gestures were misinterpreted by many English Canadians. Maybe some of them who themselves were racist used that in order to say, "See how they do?" Of course, propaganda works that way.

The Chair: Thank you very much. We are going to end with Mr Iland at this point.

We have two other presenters. I gather both presentations will be brief and then we probably can break for the afternoon session at that point.


The Chair: I call first Bob Richards from the United Steelworkers of America.

Mr Richards: My name is Bob Richards and I am a steelworker. I would like to thank this committee for allowing me to make this presentation. I have listed a few points that I believe would make for a better Canada.

First and foremost, I believe we need to change the federal government. Brian Mulroney and his Progressive Conservative government have achieved an all-time low in popularity. This government will not listen to the people who elected it. The Mulnoney government should resign and call an election before the country is destroyed beyond repair.

Next, I think we should discontinue the free trade agreement with the United States. Ever since the free trade agreement was signed with the United States several thousand jobs in Canada have been lost. Many companies have closed their operations and moved to the US. Canadians have yet to benefit from this agreement.

Discontinue free trade talks with Mexico. If we sign a free trade agreement with Mexico, more Canadian jobs will be lost. Trying to compete with a Third World country will lower the standard of living of Canadian workers. This is nothing more than the federal government's attempt at union busting.

I feel we should lower the Bank of Canada interest rate. The interest rates in this country are too high. Working people cannot afford decent housing. Industries and businesses are closing. Meanwhile, the banks are reporting record profits and the rich become richer. The lower interest rates would allow the Canadian dollar to fall. This would let Canadian manufacturers become more competitive in world markets.

Revise Unemployment Insurance Commission legislation. The UIC rules are unfair to working people. We need to change the disqualification rules, lower the waiting period and increase the benefit period. Unemployment insurance is an insurance against loss of wages. Any person who becomes unemployed should be eligible to collect benefits.

The next point is to revise income tax rules. The majority of the taxes paid in this country are being paid by working people. Many large corporations pay little or no income tax. This must change. No more free rides for the wealthy. They must pay their fair share.

I feel we should reduce the tuition for colleges and universities. The cost of educating our young people is getting very expensive. The high cost of a post-secondary education discriminates against the children of working people. The more affluent families have no problem paying high tuition fees. Therefore, the wealthy become educated and become more prosperous.


Another point is to increase the minimum wage. The minimum wage across this country is unacceptable. In Ontario, the minimum wage is under $12,000 annually. How can a family survive on this income? It must be increased to above the poverty level.

We must protect our universal health care programs. We must ensure that all Canadians are entitled to first-class medical services. The doctor's fee or the cost of an operation should not prevent any Canadian from receiving topnotch health care.

We must protect our senior citizens. Our senior citizens built this country. We must not forget them in their later years. These people deserve our respect and our assistance. The Canada pension plan and the old age pension must meet the financial requirements of our seniors.

I feel we should drop the goods and services tax. Canadian families now find that they have to pay 7% tax on many basic needs. Over-the-counter drugs, personal hygiene products, car repairs, legal fees, books, even postage stamps and many other necessities of life are taxed by the federal government. During this recession, many people have lost their jobs. How does the government expect these people to pay the extra costs of basic needs?

My final point: I feel that we should institute a wealth tax. To help the more affluent people pay their fair share of taxes the government should tax them on the value of their assets. This has been done successfully in other countries and I feel it would work well in Canada.

This concludes my presentation. I hope some of these ideas can be used by this committee.

Mr Bisson: I take it that as a worker you are basically feeling the effects maybe of some of the policies of governments and, overall, the ills of our economy. I get the sense from what you are saying that part of what the problem is here in regard to how people are feeling about the country is not only cultural but very deeply economical, and where we are going. I am wondering if the sense that I get from you is that you are really not sure where we are going as far as our national policies are concerned when it comes to social programs, our economy and all of those issues.

Mr Richards: One thing I want to stress, and I think I did here, is that we have to maintain our services. We cannot lower our standards as far as taking care of our senior citizens and things like this. But there are a lot of things that we have to address and we have to increase.

Services are not high enough right now. Colleges are too high. People cannot afford college now and a lot of working people especially just cannot afford to send their children to college. These are things that are going to have to be looked at. Otherwise, we are going to have a much bigger spread between the working class and the more affluent people of this country.

Mr Bisson: I think something that we hear a lot sometimes on the street, and we have not heard it so much at some of these presentations, is the sense that I get that people have some fears of what the future holds and some of that is tnansponding over into other issues. I am just wondering if that is what you are trying to convey to a certain extent.

Mr Richards: That is correct. Yes, I would have to agree with that.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Thank you very much for your presentation. It was concise. We certainly know what you are thinking on a lot of issues.

I am interested in what you said about the GST. You seemed to see all of the areas in which it is touching our lives and I am glad you brought that to our attention.

I found your last statement on taxation interesting and I would like you to say a little bit more about it if you would. When you are talking about the taxation of assets, I wondered what assets you are talking about and whether you offer any suggestions regarding exemptions or thresholds or any of these other things. I wondered if you had talked about those with your co-workers.

Mr Richards: This is something that has been discussed, not at length but it is an idea. I did not come up with this idea. I have talked to other people about it. I feel that the value of a person's assets, which would include his cash, his property, any businesses he owns, the value of that could be taxed. This is done in other countries. I am not exactly sure which countries now, but I know it is done and I think it is something that should be looked at in this country. It might help lessen the burden of tax on working people and, like I said, allow other people to pay their share of taxes.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Well, sir, you must be aware that certainly our residences are taxed, and many people complain to us about that a lot. Certainly the businesses are taxed, whether it be corporate business or business tax, utility tax on commercial assessment tax. So I am just wondering what new ideas -- if you are thinking about, what should I say?, higher levels of when people would enter this taxation bracket, because we do have a lot of taxes now on our assets, every single one of us as Ontanians.

Mr Richards: On the municipal level?

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Municipal level, right, and certainly that is because there are a lot of partnerships, particularly with provincial government programs and certainly then with federal government programs. So I just wondered what new idea you would have. Some people are saying that, as you know, we work until the middle of July before we get anything for ourselves, and that goes for each person who is a worker. The kind of tax you are talking about would seem to me to involve a lot of labour workers as well, and that is why I was kind of surprised when you expounded now what you meant by it. Like personal property and things, most of us try to attain that.

Mr Richards: My suggestion would be this would only apply to certain levels.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: That is what I wondered, if you had thought about that.

Mr Richards: Right. It certainly would not apply to people who are just struggling to get by on a day-to-day basis. This would apply to, say, people who own a lot of material things, businesses, the wealthy people. This is a wealth tax. This is what I am looking at here.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Okay. Thank you.

Mr Richards: I have a copy of this I would like to leave with the Chair.

The Chair: Sure. Please leave it with the clerk. Thank you very much.


The Chair: I call Denise Martel.

Mme Martel: Bonjour, tout le monde. J'aimerais vous remercier premièrement d'avoir donné aux gens du people cette occasion de faire des présentations et de vous rencontrer. J'aimerais vous accueillir aussi à notre ville de Sault-Sainte-Marie. En même temps, j'aimerais exprimer le désir du Centre francophone. Je viens en tant que représentante du Centre francophone de Sault-Sainte-Marie.

Nous avons l'intention d'élaborer une soumission beaucoup plus longue, plus élaborée que celle que je vais vous présenter ce soir. Ce que je vais vous présenter ce soir sera très bref. Ce sont les idées principales, seulement.

M. le Président : Excusez-nous un moment, i] y a un problème avec la traduction. It must be the particular device that you have. We will have to carry on and do our best.

Mme Martel : Le Centre francophone a l'intention d'élaborer une soumission par écrit que nous enverrons selon ce que l'invitation a exprimé dans l'annonce publicitaire. Alors, ce que je vais vous présenter ce soir est quand même très bref. Ce sont des idées principales. Mais nous croyons qu'il était quand même important que vous sachiez que les Franco-Ontariens de cette communauté ont une vision d'un Canada uni.

Comme Franco-Ontariens, nous avons un désir très fort de conserver l'unité de ce pays. Nous nous identifions comme Canadiens, comme un des peuples fondateurs du Canada. Nous voulons conserver cette identité non seulement pour nous mais aussi pour nos enfants, pour nos petits-enfants.

Nous reconnaissons que le Québec soit une société distincte avec des besoins différents dans le tissu de notre pays. Nous, Franco-Ontariens, ressentons plusieurs de ces besoins. Cependant, le Canada ne pourra pas survivre avec un gouvernement affaibli tel que suggéré par le Québec. Donc, il faudrait y avoir des compromis des deux côtés.

Le gouvernement fédéral, les gouvernements provinciaux de chacune de nos provinces, les gouvernements même au niveau municipal devront jouer un rôle important de leadership en organisant des programmes pour aider à sensibiliser les anglophones à nos besoins, et vice versa au Québec. Nous demandons aux Québécois de faire des efforts afin d'arriver à comprendre le Canada anglais.


Le gouvernement de l'Ontario aurait un rôle à jouer aussi au niveau du système d'éducation, c'est-à-dire que l'on doit s'assurer de bien faire connâitre notre tradition, notre histoire, les rôles de chacun des peuples fondateurs dans le partnership quon a fondé en 1867.

L'un n'aurait pas réussi sans l'autre. Il est. important que tous le reconnaissent. Il faut aussi que les gens partout dans le pays soient rendus plus conscients des résultats concrets et pratiques d'un Canada divisé. Qu'est-ce que ça va vouloir dire, un Canada divisé ? Quel sera notre réalité si le Canada est divisé ? Est-ce que économiquement et politiquement le Canada restera viable ou est-ce que nous serons plutôt mangés par notre voisin au sud ? Si c'est le cas, est-ce que nous voulons demeurer dans leur « melting pot »? Est-ce que nous voudrons accepter leurs programmes sociaux ? Pensez-y un peu.

Pensez aux programmes de bien-être social, à leurs services de santé, à leur aide aux moins fortunés, à leur système d'éducation, à leur système judiciaire avec officiers élus. Nous connaissons une réalité très différente comme Canadiens. Avant de décider qu'on veut laisser aller le Québec, qu'on veut un Canada divisé, il faut se rendre compte de ce qui nous restera après cette division. Il est important que ces problèmes soient apportés au public pour que le public y pense, pour que le public réalise profondément quelles seront les répercussions d'un Canada divisé.

Je crois que le Canada anglais a du travail à faire, c'est-à-dire qu'ils auront à convaincre le Québec que le Québec est voulu, que le Québec est membre d'une famille, qu'on veut qu'il reste, qu'il nous aide à sauvegarder la fédération.

Nous, les Franco-Ontariens, demandons au peuple en général de sauvegarder notre fédération. J'espère que le gouvernement de lOntario assumera un rôle de leadership à bâtir un nouveau Canada.

M. Beer: Merci pour votre présentation, et on est content que le Centre francophone plus tard va aussi déposer un mémoire à ce sujet, mais je pense que vous avez quand même touché aux points importants. Je me demande si, comme membre du conseil exécutif du Centre francophone, vous pensez qu'il y a maintenant dans cette ville des gens anglophones et francophones qui travaillent ensemble pour essayer de mieux unir les gens de cette ville et si peut-être on est sur le chemin de voir une sorte de nouvelle amitié, ou de toute façon de souligner l'amitié entre francophones et anglophones. Quel est votre point de vue un an après ces relations ?

Mme Martel : Il y a certainement des gens de la communauté, des francophones et des anglophones, qui travaillent ensemble, qui communiquent pour faire des efforts de rebâtir ici dans la communauté les amitiés et les liens qui ont existé depuis longtemps. Il y a certainement parmi les anglophones des gens qui nous appuient. Comme francophones nous ressentons aussi qu'il y a beaucoup d'anglophones qui ont été sensibilisés à nos besoins comme francophones qui nous appuient qui, maintenant qu'ils sont sensibilisés, maintenant qu'ils connaissent beaucoup plus nos problèmes, dédoublent d'efforts pour nous faire de la place, pour nous accommoder. Par contre, il ne faut pas le nier, il y a des anglophones qui ne reconnaissent pas nos besoins, qui ne reconnaissent pas nos droits. Mais il y a un noyau qui travaille pour nous.

J'aimerais bien voir le leadership de cette unification entre les deux groupes, anglophones et francophones de la ville, venir du conseil municipal. Jusqu'ici nous ne l'avons pas vu.

M. Bisson : C'est un point qui est intéressant. Vous dites dans votre discours que l'important est que le restant du Canada reconnaisse que le Québec est différent sur certains points. Mais en d'autres mots, vous dites qu'il est important que l'on a besoin d'un gouvernement qui est très centraliste, très fort au fédéral pour être capable de garder le pays ensemble. Je comprends qu'il il faut 1e dire, mais à quel point, quoi qu'on dise au Québec, parce que le Québec a des demandes comme celles-là ? À a quel point nous, le restant du Canada, s'en va-t-on envers ces demandes, puis à quel point eux ont-ils besoin de venir vers nous là-dessus ? Avez-vous des idées là-dessus ? Je pense que c'est ça ce que le monde se demande.

Mme Martel : Bien, je pense qu'il est nécessaire de connaître les besoins du Québec qui ont un rapport direct avec sa survivance, et puis nous comme francophones en Ontario ou hors du Québec de reconnaître nos besoins pour survivre. Par exemple, la négociation de l'entente qui vient d'être signée par rapport à l'immigration, je crois que c'est un point important qui va aider à faire survivre la culture des Québécois et certainement il y a d'autres domaines qui sont directement liés à la survivance de la culture comme telle.

Mais je suis certaine qu'il y a beaucoup de domaines et je ne connais pas les 21 ou 22 points qui ont été demandés dans les recommandations du rapport Allaire, mais j'ai l'impression, disons, qu'il ne serait pas nécessaire de faire des compromis sur les 22 points, parce que si chaque province aurait le droit de mener .ses affaires, de se gérer à ce point, nous n'aurions plus un Canada. C'est un Canada divisé, c'est un Canada affaibli. Alors, si on peut faire des négociations, si on peut examiner chacun de ces points individuellement pour voir jusqu'à quel point ces demandes affectent la survivance de la langue, des traditions, de la culture des francophones au Canada, je crois à ce moment-là qu'on va être capable d'arriver à un compromis de quelque sorte, mais il faudrait prendre les points individuellement.

Mr Martin: I find the whole question very challenging, and I would say that probably Sault Ste Marie very much reflects the challenge that is out there in Canada. I do not think we are really all that much different. We have this resolution that has gotten in the way of some discussion happening. I really appreciate the conciliatory tone of your presentation. You are talking about compromise, and discussion and finding common ground.

I heard a presenter earlier this afternoon talking about how destructive ultimatums and deadlines are in trying to come to some resolution of a challenge as big as the one in front of us as Canadians today, and that certainly faces us here in Sault Ste Marie. We only have to look to the newspapers every day to realize what ultimatums and deadlines bring us to -- the Gulf, for example. When we set deadlines and make ultimatums and are not willing to negotiate, we end up throwing bombs at each other and ultimately everybody gets hurt.

I heard Max, and I have to be honest here. The challenge, to me particularly, because I am a local politician and my style may be different than some others -- "The resolution must be rescinded before we can do anything else" sounds like an ultimatum. "Meech Lake: either you accept it or you're saying goodbye to Quebec." That kind of attitude does not, I think, bring us to a place where we can do what you are calling us to do. Would you like to expand on that a little?

Ms Martel: I am not sure just what you are looking for.

Mr Martin: Is there room for us at this point in our history, both as people who live in Sault Ste Marie and as Canadians, to find that common ground where we can talk without setting ultimatums and deadlines?

Ms Martel: I think there is room, I really do. I believe that. I think there is a possibility. I think that what happened in Sault Ste Marie -- unfortunately, there was not open discussion before the resolution was passed. There was no opportunity to clear up misinterpretations, apprehensions, false information. That opportunity was not there.

In establishing this commission, the Spicer commission, the federal government and the provincial government have afforded the opportunity for people to dialogue, to speak to each other, to communicate their needs. We have to be able to talk to each other and we have to be willing to listen to each other. If we get ourselves stuck in a place where we cannot see, we are so concerned with our own needs, and where we are that we cannot hear each other, then we are going to have difficulty coming to somewhere in the middle where we can compromise.

But I really believe we can do it and this sort of forum is going to enable us to do that, it is going to help us get there. This is perhaps the leadership position I alluded to earlier as far as municipal council is concerned. It would be wonderful if our municipal council, as leaders of this community, would initiate that sort of dialogue between the anglophoncs and the francophones. It is by speaking to each other, it is by communicating with each other that we learn what each other's needs are. Once we understand the other person's position, we are much more willing to make a compromise and say: "Okay, well, now I understand your position, we'll give a little. Let's see if we can find something that will accommodate both of us." But there has to be that dialogue and there has to be that willingness to listen.

Mr Bisson: It really heartens me that in the four days we have gone through to hear what some of the people have been saying is the common sense. There is a thread going through this whole thing, and I really feel positive, because people are basically saying the same things but in a different way. It is almost as if people are walking along a parallel path, unwilling to look at the other side. I hope at the end of this process that we can get people to join at the other end. It really excites me to hear everything we have heard in the past four days and what you just said. I believe there is hope. There has to be.

Ms Martel: I sincerely believe that if we all think positively, if we all believe we can, then we can.

The Chair: Good, and we will all keep trying to find those points where those roads can meet. Thank you very much.

We will recess at this point and come back at 7 o'clock for the evening session.

The committee recessed at 1724.

The committee resumed at 1911 in the Civic Centre, Sault Ste Marie.

The Chair: Good evening and welcome to those of you who are here in the hall. We are continuing our hearings as the select committee on Ontario in Confederation this evening from Sault Ste Marie in the council chambers. We heard from a number of people this afternoon and have a number of speakers to hear from this evening.

I would like to ask the people who are going to be talking to us this evening, because we have a number of people we have had to add to the list as well, in order to give as many people as possible an opportunity to speak, we would appreciate it very much if the presentations could be kept to a maximum of 10 minutes for individuals and a maximum of 20 minutes for groups. If you would allow us some time within that as well for some questions from the members of the committee, we certainly would appreciate that as well. We realize that that might cause a few problems and apologize for those. We are trying to give as many people as possible an opportunity to speak to us.

While we certainly anticipate that in these kinds of hearings we will hear a number of things that are obviously on people's minds that may or may not have to do with our mandate, we would like to ask that people try to maintain their comments to the issues that we need to discuss. If there are problems that you want to bring to our attention around other issues that really are not within our mandate, while we will not cut you off, we really would appreciate it if you could keep the comments to the context of the question of the Constitution issues, realizing that that is a very broad spectrum and not attempting in any way to limit the discussion on those issues.


The Chair: I would like to proceed at this point and call Jerry Frost to come forward.

Mr Frost: I want to talk about several issues. I do not think there are enough interpreters in the Sault. I wanted to go to college to become a mechanic which was a two-year course and I was not able to get an interpreter. I finally had to bring somebody in from the United States, but the sign language in the United States was different from here.

During this meeting today I have seen a lot of people fighting over language, but with deaf people I think it is important that we keep the langne des signes quebécois as well. I do not think we should discriminate against French deaf people. I have met a lot of French deaf people who use LSQ. When I was in the Belleville school for the deaf, I was not even given the option of learning French or French sign language because the government made decisions on what I could learn, and now I do not have the opportunity for education.

When I went to school in Belleville or Milton, for example -- I think that now they should have American sign language in the school so that the deaf people can learn in ASL. When I was small, when I was a kid, all they did was try to use the oral method, which is speaking and the teacher would repeat the same thing 5 or 10 times -- for example, say over and over again the word "mother." That is not education. We did not get any education. I have real complaints about the educational system in that way. In fact I feel that I was not educated. I certainly do not have adequate education at all.

I used to live up in Thunder Bay and I remember when I lived up there, and I am sure it is the same in the Sault, I went to apply for car insurance. When I went to one of the companies and filled an application saying that I wanted insurance, I of course indicated that I was deaf. As soon as I did that, they said the price of insurance would be extremely high, much higher than anybody with hearing.

I should be treated as an equal citizen. I drive just as well as somebody who has hearing and there is no reason why I should have to pay higher insurance rates just because I am deaf. I only need my car so that I can get back and forth to work, just like anybody else. I am not going to be driving carelessly just because I am deaf.

In the Sault, Thunder Bay, wherever I have gone, having spoken to other hearing people, for example, I have found that compared to deaf people, a lot of hearing people have not known a whole lot about mechanics, which I know a lot about. I see people tend to educate hearing people much more than deaf people. Hearing people are given favouritism on the job. It is discrimination.

I am a mechanic and I have gone to school trying to learn to become a mechanic. It is a field I am interested in, but it is really difficult because a lot of the time they use things such as videotape or printed material in English. They feel that deaf people are not going to be able to become mechanics because they cannot hear. What is important is that we can see. We have got eyes. We can see the world visually. I do not care whether I cannot hear spoken language. I can still do the job, and that is what is important.

If you go to a movie theatre, you may all go to the show, but we do not. There are no captions in the movie theatres. Why should I go there? It is not accessible to me. Now with the time of recession I certainly cannot afford that.

That is all I really wanted to say. Thank you very much.

Mr Malkowski: You said that you wanted to see the recognition of the rights using a sign language interpreter. Does that mean in the courts or in programs? Where would you like to see ASL and LSQ?

Mr Frost: Definitely, for example, if you have to go to court. I think that if the police come up to somebody who is deaf and start talking to somebody who is deaf, they are not going to understand what is being said. I feel they discriminate against deaf people. They do not care what I have to say and they do not listen to what I am saying because I am deaf. If there is a car accident, they listen to what the hearing person said happened, not to me, because they cannot talk to me.

I have seen the police officers write down a report and pass it to me. I do not understand the English words, so I guess that the hearing guy must have said the truth and I agree to it. Then I find out that I have been charged. There was no interpreter involved. Nobody was there to present the information in my own language. That is not right. Hearing people use English language that I do not always understand. I am not very good in English so sometimes I do not understand the written word.


The Chair: I call next Jim Hilsinger.

Mr Hilsinger: Good evening. I am a resident of Sault Ste Marie and a firm believer in the attitude that crisis creates opportunity. I would like to think that eventually Sault Ste Marie could become a positive force towards a gentler, more sensitive Canada, especially since we have a historical location at the centre point of Canada. I do not have any answers at this time. I have only observations that could produce some insight.

We tend to blame the media for our current problems. Instead, in Canada, I would like to point fingers at some of the politicians. It seems that in the drive to create revised constitutions, new symbols of unity, new images of a bilingual Canada, politicians across the country try to force square pegs into round holes. Rather than allowing the French fact to blossom and mature through younger generations growing up with more worldly visions and adopting the joys of French culture and language, we make older people uncomfortable and insecure.


Assertive action towards a bilingual Canada was definitely necessary to a point in the past, but when people perceive that their jobs and futures are at risk, because they do not speak French, they get nervous. We may have pushed too fast and too far. When people perceive excessive costs of translated documents or French services, while being badgered for higher taxes, they react with understandable concern.

These are simple, honest reactions to a system which is force-feeding a populace unwilling to change anything in their lives too quickly. We cannot convince a large part of the people in this country during the life of one government. It is going to take generations. Excessiveness and intolerance are condoned by politicians from all regions of Canada, responding to political opportunism, not the limits and values of average people.

The failure of the Meech Lake accord is an example of a political condition which was aligned with a political agenda, a politician's agenda, instead of a public's ability to accommodate change. The Meech Lake accord contained its own seeds of destruction. It is fortunate it did not become constitutional law, because it would have been another artificial level of existence for all Canadians.

It happened at a time when the North American economy was and still is undergoing a major restructuring and, while many people in Canada like to use French people or English people or bilingualism or Bill 178 or Bill 8 as scapegoats, the bottom line to their proposals and concerns is economics. People and their ideas are driven by the dollar, by jobs, by quality of life, and the Meech Lake accord did not bolster these relationships for many Canadians. On this plane of understanding, there are many regional, north-south economic relationships which are much more rational than force-feeding an east-west economic relationship in Canada.

Even though Quebec has contributed its share to the divisiveness in Canada, Quebec has perhaps advanced an agenda for everyone, more than most Canadians realize. it is attempting to regionalize its economics and control for its own future. It is trying to do what many corporations prefer, to shift control to the level of responsibility. If the west, the east, Ontario, the midwest and the territories were to do the same, perhaps a more natural relationship of control of destiny, of control of economics and a freedom to pursue one's destiny would result.

Regionalization, demassification, globalization of society is occurring with rapidity in various dimensions. The ways we are governed have not changed for hundreds of years. We see globalization of economies and world order at the same time as we see a struggle by societies to protect their legacy of history and culture, at the same time as we try to make government more responsive.

A revised Constitution must cast aside some symbols of the past for opportunities of the future. It would be reasonable to expect a Constitution to solve our future needs, including less government and bureaucracy, rather than support outdated historical fixations. The main contribution other parts of Canada can make to Quebec and vice versa would be to interpret the job ahead, not as a threat to our future but as a future to be deliberated to everyone's benefit.

Regionalization, if it occurs, should apply equally to all those who wish. We should all be buying in, not buying out, which brings me back to politicians and the way they overstate and negatively pursue their political agendas, and I might include some federal bureaucrats. If we, as individual citizens of Canada, understand that we have more pliable and tolerant views and attitudes that can successfully define a constructive Canadian relationship, we must be offered the forums, like this one, and the encouragement to seek one another for dialogue.

The politicians must abandon brinkmanship to the preference of real people talking about and discovering opportunities, both through their similarities and their differences. Economics will ultimately influence people's decisions, but most Canadians have a humane intelligence. Genuine heart-to-heart dialogue can help to define new dimensions for Canada.

Ms Churley: Thank you for your presentation. You mentioned several things but I think I am only allowed one question, so I will focus on what you said. Earlier on, I believe you said that governments are moving too fast on this issue and that we should just let the natural process happen.

I guess it has been my experience that people who are in positions of power and privilege do not give it up very easily. I speak about that from a feminist viewpoint as well, and you could bring it to native rights and deaf rights and all of what you call special-interest rights. But I believe, above all, as I think we all do, in equality. I think that you said that too, but we differ. I believe that governments do have a role to play because I have seen and we have seen through history that, yes, economics determine a lot of our actions. I think in a lot of cases that is unfortunate, if you took at the environment, for instance, and many other issues.

So I differ with you and I just want to know how you react to that. I believe that governments have to regulate and, yes, infringe on people's privileges and powers sometimes, because I do not believe unfortunately that it happens fast enough naturally. Yes, I believe that we have to dialogue and hear as many opinions as possible, but if we are to be fair and reach equality, how are we ever, even going to do it unless we regulate to a certain extent?

Mr Hilsinger: I think it matters a lot what you define as equality and I think that I am going to revert to my first statement. I do not have any answers. I am probably one of the most proactive people that you will ever find and I get myself into a lot of trouble because of it. On the other hand, I struggle like you do, because I think things are right and there are certain values and principles that I apply to the things that I consider important. I think an awful lot about things before I say them.

It is a hard time. It is a difficult position to know when to not push too hard and further or when to back off or when you have maybe achieved the balance and people have to catch up. I do not really have the answer. I just try to apply sensitivity to it. I find that quite often the political agendas, because of a sort of leftist urging, will run ahead of what ordinary people really think is important or can be achieved.

Furthermore, they are prompted by a certain degree of brinkmanship, getting ahead of the other person, and no groups seem to come together and negotiate what is a fair condition for a group of people in Canada, in a province, in a federation. Consequently, the snowball gets bigger and bigger, rather than measuring up to what most people really need in their lives.

The Chair: Thank you very much, sir. We will have to move on.



The Chair: I call next Ron Yunick. Go ahead, sir.

Mr Yurick: My name is Ron Yurick and I am from Chapleau, which is a small town halfway between here and Gilles's home base.

I do not speak for any particular group but from conversations I have had with many people I think I am not alone in some of the things that I will be saying.

I read in your book the statement that many Canadians have a strong sense of regional identity. Well, I was born in Ontario, raised here and educated here all the way through to graduate school. Almost all of my employment has been here and I have spent almost all of my 40 years in this province. Yet if I were to fly a flag, I would not fly the flag of Ontario; I would fly the flag of Canada.

Indeed I would find it easier to go to some other province and feel citizenship there, feel some community with those people than I feel now for the province, or have ever felt for the province of Ontario.

Let me explain that a bit. I grew up in the Thunder Bay area. I saw the grain from the west going to market, the iron ore going to steel mills, the other minerals taken from the ground and shipped away, the products of forests and paper mills all leaving our territory. And I saw the return:

In return I saw manufactured goods coming back to us.

I felt some kinship and sorrow for the prairie farmers, for other people who live out of the centre of mainstream Canada, because they were buying the combines that were overpriced because of tariff barriers that protected Canadian industry, and as those industries grew stronger, more and more power accrued to the centre of Canada.

Northern Ontario has a history of resource extraction towns, many of them depleted -- Geraldton, Cobalt, countless other mining towns and bush camps and sawmills that have sprung up all over the place, cut for a few years, milled for a few years, and just died with people being rooted out of the ground, out of their communities. Little economic opportunity is found here. There are few jobs, and perhaps most hurtful to many of us is that a lot of our children have to leave for the urbanized south in order to get a future.

Meanwhile in the south in Ontario, the mainstream of Ontario, you use the minerals, the petroleum, the wood fibre that comes in from the rest of Canada and you mill it and process it, and now when you cannot use it any further you want to ship it back to us in the form of garbage.

Indeed one of these presentations in my own home town referred to my area of the province as "a remote location suitable for the dumping of the garbage of the Metropolitan Toronto area."

I have personally often been envious of Manitoba, as somebody who grew up in northwestern Ontario, because it had something I did not and that was a provincial boundary and a provincial Legislature that said no to some of the things that were affecting all of us in the more remote regions of Canada.

We can extend this to a broad Canadian perspective as question 7 in your booklet does. The power of central Canada is probably too great. If we want to have a NATO low-level testing range, that is fine. We will not fly over Listowel or Metro or anywhere around Peterborough; we will send it out to Labrador and we will disturb the Inuit and the caribou and it does not matter anyway because they probably should not shoot those little critters.

We cut out mail service. There is a great rush to lower the federal deficit, so one of the things that has been tackled is mail service, but it is not done where perhaps it could best be done. It is done in the small towns of Saskatchewan and the fishing ports in Nova Scotia. God forbid the day they take door-to-door delivery out of Rosedale and put a super mailbox at the end of the street.

We also, with the great power in central Canada, still tolerate Third World conditions for our native people in many parts of this country. So I submit to you that the central part of Canada is too strong and maybe something that could be done, and I hope your committee will act on this, is to look at some way of perhaps weakening that power.

I would like to expand a bit on an idea that comes from Clyde Wells. He talked in an interview with the Charlottetown newspaper around Christmas of perhaps having some provision to break up primarily the two central provinces, but you might add British Columbia to this as well, so that their strong accumulated political power is somehow dispersed into many smaller provinces or some number of smaller provinces.

One of the most obvious areas is northern Ontario, but you could also look at what is called the Toronto-centred region, which is still different from southwestern Ontario, and in Quebec, perhaps the south shore, the Montreal urban area or Nouveau-Quebec in the north. There is no reason why these alignments would have to stay within existing provincial boundaries. Perhaps some part of northeastern Ontario, the Highway 11 corridor up from Hearst to Kirkland, would fit in with the Abitibi region of Quebec. I think in that way the power of the country will be spread around so that things would be seen to be more fair from the more remote regions, and I think that would do a better job than something like a triple E Senate.

As an anglophone, I hear other anglophones often shooting or taking potshots at French people, but they do not say Jean-Pierre there or Guy over here, they say: "Quebec. Damn Quebec. Quebec is doing this, Quebec is doing that." They forget about the French people who are part of the rest of the fabric of the country. New Brunswick and northeastern Ontario are two very large examples, but always we are nine provinces ganging up on Quebec and I think I personally feel some sorrow about that.

I would like to see some provisions -- I do not know how you put this into a Constitution -- but some sort of provisions and programs to promote tolerance and understanding between the founding linguistic groups: English, French and the many native dialects.

Like many Canadians, I was offended by the Quebec sign law, but I was equally offended by the Brockville flag-trampling incident and even more offended by some of the resolutions passed in Ontario municipalities that in essence said, "We don't want any French." The ignorance of the statement, "Let them go to Quebec," or even worse, "Put them on the boat to France," is not tolerable in a country.

As somebody who has not been part of the centre, whether you call that southern Ontario, southern Quebec or the English mainstream of Canada, I have also felt some kinship with people from other linguistic groups who have or look to the head of the government in this country as a monarchy. We still have the Queen of England as the chief political Pooh-Bah in this country.

I myself am of half British stock, but I am a third-generation Canadian and I am deeply offended by the fact that the head of state of Canada is determined or governed by a rule that the first-born male in some foreign, rich family happens to be our head of state and that, for example, there are Union Jacks on several provincial flags. Some people may fear cutting of our apron strings with Britain and suggest that then we would have to ride on the American coattails, but I think it is time that we stood up and said, "No, we are Canadian and we are going to do it alone."

Lastly and very briefly, I would ask that there be some recognition in Ontario's efforts at restructuring the Constitution to try to protect the thing that keeps us alive, the very foundation of our existence. That is the ecosystem. I know that ecosystems cannot come to the negotiating table and talk to us, that trees do not speak, that spores and fish have no voice, but something has got to be done to keep that going because it is going to be here after we are gone. It is the peak of arrogance to think that we can write a Constitution for our country to say that whatever goes on within the boundaries of Canada should be just for the benefit of our species. How dare we do that? How dare we?

In summation, the points, to highlight them, are that there might be a way of making Canada more equal by dividing up the power of the central provinces to make them into smaller provinces with full powers in Confederation; we need tolerance for and promotion of the other languages and an understanding of the aspirations of all of those Canadians in those groups; we might accept that it is time we as a nation grew up and slid out from underneath the British monarchy; let's really try to do something to protect the environment.

I challenge you to look for creative solutions and to look creatively at enacting change. Nothing is impossible. The ideas of people like myself and oilier people who are going to speak to your committee can only be stopped by the committee's failure to look at those ideas in balance and to try to achieve their fulfilment.



The Chair: I call Gail Broad.

Ms Broad: I struggled a great deal in trying to prepare what I wanted to say tonight. I, too, growing up in northern Ontario and having chosen to live here as an adult, feel much of what the previous speaker said in terms of being left out of Canada or our voices not being heard.

I add to that the fact that I am a woman and that I also work in an area where most of my time is spent dealing with people who are living at or far below, frequently, the poverty line. I decided I would start it off with the first question and I never got beyond it, "What are the values we share as Canadians?" I am not sure what all of us as Canadians share, but I would like to share with you the values that I have for Canada and what I would like to see in a country that I would be happy living in.

First of all, I would like to start living in harmony with the first nations people of this land. They have never been recognized as having the authority to determine their own selves and their own direction, and I think it is time we began doing that. And it is not us granting them the power; it is us recognizing their power to control their own destinies.

Second, I would like to see a safe place for women to live, a place where we can be safe in our homes, in our streets, in our cities. I would like to see us being able to raise our children with a decent standard of living. I would like to see a country which is respectful of our differences, where we value each other because of who we are and because of the differences that we have from one another, rather than trying to channel us all into being the same people and prototypes of ourselves and of our ancestors. I would like to live in a country where decent, affordable housing is a right for everyone, where poverty, homelessness and hunger are eliminated and where each person is free to choose and follow his or her own spiritual path.

In fact I find it ironic that many of the same things that I dream of for Canada I was taught as a child and they were the reasons that our European ancestors immigrated to North America 300 or 400 years ago and the reason that many people continue to choose to immigrate here with expectations that I think sometimes we are unable to meet.

So what stands between the dream of Canada and the reality that we face right now? I think primarily it is our own fear. It is our fear of having to share our privileges, of having to listen to one another, of having to work out compromises, of our having to give up something -- very often, I think, an intangible something that in reality is not giving up at all but is in fact expanding ourselves.

How do we know what values we share if we do not listen to one another? I think one of the things that this committee has been doing that I heartily praise and am very pleased to see is the effort that is being made to contact groups in the community that usually do not have a voice and that are not present at forums such as this to speak on their own behalf.

There is only, I guess, one other comment that I would like to make, and that is that so far, to date in the development of Canada, we have not listened to one another. We have a wonderful thing called technology. Many of us have it in our offices. We have fax machines and we have telephone systems where we can conference call and talk to people all over the country and all over the world at relatively low cost. That needs to be offered to the people we do not usually listen to, the people we do not think we need to listen to because we already know their needs. We do not know their needs.

There are many things that the aboriginal people of this country have been able to teach us, although we have not listened too well, and one of them is that you have to walk a mile in my shoes to understand me. I think it is time that we started to walk that mile in one another's shoes so that we can listen and understand from each other and learn.

The Chair: If you will just wait, there is at least one question.

Mr Beer: Just in a sense a commentary on both this brief comment from this speaker and the one just before. I think as members of committees, we appreciate when representatives of groups come and make presentations, but one of the things that we really wanted to get, not only this week but in the weeks to come, was individuals who were coming and speaking about their hopes, their aspirations, not only to those who are here with us today in this room but to those watching.

I think that as we listened to both of you and as we have listened to other individuals, you are teaching us a great deal. I hope other Canadians, Ontarians, who are wondering, "Should I come before this committee? Do my views mean anything?" know that they do. We are very appreciative that you both took the time to prepare the very thoughtful comments you have put in front of us. We are wrestling with so many of those same issues. There are not clear answers, but what you have said to us helps.


The Chair: I call Charles Swift.

Mr Swift: Thank you, Mr Chairman, I paid heed to your opening remarks about requesting that we stick to your mandate and the subject at hand. Unfortunately I had made a call that was prompted by a newspaper ad in the Sault Ste Marie Star. I made three calls, actually, requesting such a guideline and to this date I have not received it. I have not had the opportunity to listen to any previous telecasts of the meetings. I have no knowledge of what you will entertain and what you will not. But judging from what I have heard from prior speakers, I would imagine my comments will be as acceptable as the others were.

The Chair: Okay.

Mr Swift: I hope you will bear with me if I stray off slightly, sir.

I come before you as a private citizen, although when I am not busy being a private citizen, I have two hobbies I think I should mention to you upfront so that there is no hint of deception on my part, my first hobby being that I am the president of the local riding association of the Reform Party of Canada and that I am also an alderman for the city of Sault Ste Marie. As a matter of fact these chambers are familiar to me, except not from this perspective. I usually sit where Yvonne O'Neill is sitting, and Yvonne, I must say you are lending a lot more class to that seat than it usually gets on Monday nights, so thank you very much. I will certainly treasure that.

From my 13 years as alderman, I have gained an appreciation for what the average person is thinking about how he is being governed, and I can tell you, ladies and gentlemen of the committee, it is not pretty. To say that the average Canadian is frustrated about how he is being governed would be just about as big an understatement as saying that Saddam Hussein likes setting off firecrackers.

The ex-Premier of Ontario observed at the last election that the voters were in a cranky mood. You bet they were, and with very good reason they were. They were sitting on a sharp spike, and every time they squirmed to get away from it, they would just cause themselves more pain. We have become a desperate people, and in desperation we have elected an NDP government. I say that without malice. It is something that Ontario voters had never done before, and I think it would reflect their desperation in trying something new to get away from what they were accustomed to with the old.

The question is, what would make a usually gentle and kind society become so cynical? I think the answer is that just about everything, everything that touches us or everything we come in touch with, is slipping away. I think the one at the head of the list is the economy. Our federal government is going into debt at the speed of a runaway train to the point where almost 50 cents of every tax dollar raised goes to service an almost $400-billion debt. The provincial government is only a modest $2 billion in debt this year, and I must hasten to say that that is not the fault of the present government. However, I would hope they would not try to spend our way out of the poorhouse.


It has got to the point where both senior levels of government have spent all the country's cash, they have loaded the plastic credit cards and are presently writing cheques on our grandchildren's bank accounts that future generations are going to have to honour.

To make matters worse, both government levels have discovered a new taxation tool called offloading. I think it is a new kind of board game they have invented, where they get to enact new laws and then offload the costs of the new regulations to the lower level of government. The trouble is, the property tax, which is seen as being the most regressive and the most unfair tax of all, is being raised more and more to fund activities not related to the enjoyment and to the upkeep of one's property.

I firmly believe that rising taxation and the soaring deficit are the root cause of most of the discontent in this country, and I fear that a major tax revolt is not an impossibility in Canada.

But we do have other frustrations. Consider the justice system, the environment, government accountability, language, culture and heritage, native rights and government credibility. There is a good one: government credibility right now is lower than Algoma Steel's credit rating. The trouble is that Algoma Steel has a chance of improving, but it does not look like our governments have that chance unless we can get back to the basics.

First of all, I think in philosophical terms, we must define what a Canadian is and how we can go about being one. Right now, I believe the government is trying so hard to be everything to everybody that we are ending up being nothing to anybody, to the detriment of all of us. I think we have to prioritize our needs. Canadians, after all, are not necessarily the chosen people of this earth. I think our expectations are way too high, and they must be moderated.

Our deficit tells us that we cannot sustain all the wonderful things we have taken for granted in this country. How do we sort out those things we think we need or want and what we collectively are willing to pay for? I can think of only one way to do that, and that is to let the people decide, through public debate and, at times, when absolutely necessary, through referenda. In other words, put government back in the hands of the people.

If one remembers the Meech Lake debate -- and what red-blooded Canadian could ever forget that epitome of everything that is wrong with our present government? -- we had a crap-shooting, power-politicking, egotistical Prime Minister meeting in private with 10 premiers. Out of the 11 of them, only two were willing to take the proposal back to their people for discussion, and look at how those two were treated. Premier Wells, if you can believe news reports of the occasion, threatened to duke it out in chambers with the Premier of Alberta, and the then Premier of Ontario tried to bribe him with six senators.

Everybody remembers the name Elijah Harper. He was credited with singlehandedly defeating the accord. While not trying to trivialize Elijah's heroics, do not forget it was the process of the Manitoba Constitution that required public meetings being held and everybody wishing to be heard being heard prior to an important piece of legislation being passed. At that time, certain people wanted to shortcut that provision, and it was here that Elijah cut them off at the pass, and praise be to Elijah for that. The point is that the Manitoba government was willing to consult its people. Newfoundland was willing to do the same, even though not bound by law to do so. I want the same privilege for Ontario: consultation with the people, not dictatorship by a government.

Mr Chairman, I would ask you, if you would be good enough, to tell Premier Bob that I appreciate the opportunity for myself and others to address you and, through you, him. Let him know that I will be listening to see if he is paying attention to what is being said.

In closing, I would like to paraphrase a remark made by a local candidate in the last federal election that became a slogan, in effect, when he said, "We in Sault Ste Marie are more interested in guts than Guccis." It is to be hoped that our provincial elected government shares that preference. Thank you very much.

Mr Harnick: You have raised an issue that no other witness has yet raised. I probably did not get your exact words, but what you implied was that governments cannot continue giving people everything they are now giving them. When you make that statement, are you talking about limiting or putting some kind of controls on the universality concept we have come to know in our social programs? Is that something you would be advocating?

Mr Swift: I am suggesting that we are spending more than we are taking in, at a faster rate, and if I were to do that in the supermarket when I go shopping with my cheque, I would be thrown out on my ear fairly quickly. I am not advocating anything other than that we are in a mess, we have spent our way into a mess, and we have to get ourselves out. We collectively have to decide what we want to fund, and we have to do that through the consultation process.

It is up to the people to decide what they are going to select for their shopping basket. If we think bilingualism is the highest thing on our priority list, then by all means, let's fund bilingualism. If we think health care is the highest thing on our priority list, let's fund health care. If we want education to be our number one, or a combination of any of those -- but let's arrive at that in a consultive manner, not by decree or not by what is expedient for a group of people in one part of our province to push and advocate and to bully if they have to. This is a consultive process, I hope, and your success or failure will be a judge of what will happen in the future, I believe.

I certainly hope that my appearance here has not gone to waste or been a futile effort. A lot of other reports are gathering dust on shelves. If we are going to move into a place where I think we must be, back to the people and allow consultation -- I am not suggesting that every piece of legislation has to first pass through the gamut of public debate; that is not the way. But surely each community has leaders it has respect for, and these kinds of things that bother us and big moral questions that come to the fore can be debated by local leaders, by people perceived to be leaders, not necessarily the elected ones but the people who have faith in the local people, where from that grassroots up, a consensus can be gained.

If we want to keep on going in debt, I guess we have a right to spend our grandchildren's money if we feel we must. I do not believe we can, but if that is what the upshot of the whole thing is, then we will continue to do that. But surely to God, there is enough collective intelligence that we can choose and choose wisely those things we can afford. I am a practising pauper. I have been poor all my life, and I know how to choose and to stay within my budget. I have to do that. I think collectively we have to do that, and if we do not, we do so at our peril.

When we start bickering, all the things you hear now about language questions, about native rights, about the regional problems, basically the root cause is the finances, and we just have not been collectively involved in how to go about fixing up that problem.


Ms Harrington: I want to assure you that our government is interested in guts, not Guccis. I believe we were elected to listen to the people and also to share power, not concentrate the power, as it has been for many years. What we have heard tonight and the previous days as well is that those who have not been included in power should be included; for instance, women, the native community.

I would also like to tell you that just in the past few months, since taking office in Ontario, I believe our government has found that not just this province but this country is in a state of drift and that there is a lack of leadership. So I would like to tell you that besides trying to share power and bring people into the stream and empower them, we also are trying to provide leadership, because there is that vacuum.

Mr Swift: May I respond to that?

Ms Harrington: I did have one question for you.

The Chair: I am going to have to ask both the members of the committee and the respondents to be brief, please.

Ms Harrington: I would like to ask you, because we are near the north and native people and there is a picture in your chambers of native people, how do you see the role of natives in our Canada?

Mr Swift: I would expect that any document that was signed on behalf of the Canadian government with the native people should and must be dealt with on its merits and done expeditiously.

Also, responding to your comments about groups you think you should hear from being women and others, you are hyphenating Canadians. You, in your way, are hyphenating Canadians, and we are all guilty of that. We are saying, "I'm English-Canadian, French-Canadian, Italian-Canadian," and you are saying "woman-Canadian" and "native-Canadian." You are hyphenating it, and I think the power has to come from all the people, not from a woman Canadian, not from a native Canadian, but from Canadians. We must individually, regardless of what group we represent or what disadvantaged group we believe we represent, have an equal voice.

Once the native claims are all dealt with -- I heard the previous Liberal Minister of Municipal Affairs, John Sweeney, a man who was well respected by a lot of municipal politicians, tell us at an Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference last year that what he saw that had been done to the native people made him cry. He certainly felt it in his heart and that feeling came across. But once all of that is settled, I believe, the native people should take their rightful place as Canadians. If we are going to have a country together, we should share it equally, and we should all share the burdens as well as the benefits of being a Canadian. I think those kinds of issues will have to be addressed. If we signed some documents which they have relied on and unfortunately have not been kept, I think that is a travesty and I think it should be dealt with with all due dispatch. That is my feeling on that.

The Chair: I will allow one last, very brief question and very brief answer.

Mr Bisson: I want to get back to the question of economics. One of the things you were saying, and I agree to a certain extent, is that we need to do a good job of managing our economy, making sure we do not spend ourselves into the grave. I agree with you. But I have a bit of a problem understanding one part. If what you are saying was advocated and was acted on, towards the consumer even, can anybody in this country afford to go out and buy a house just with cash? There are times where it is a good thing, where you need to go and get money in order to finance the things you need to do, such as a home. I am wondering at what point you are drawing that line, because what you seem to be advocating is that we run on a principle within the economy as individuals, as home owners and whatever, and as a government, that we never, never borrow any money. But the reality is that there is nobody in this audience who can live without going to the bank to say, "I want to buy my home," or to buy a car or whatever it might be. How do you see the government being different?

Mr Swift: Well, when you have put yourself in debt to the point where 50 cents of every one of your dollars is going to service --

Mr Bisson: Hang on. That is not what I am saying.

The Chair: Go ahead, sir.

Mr Swift: I thought I was answering that, Mr Chairman.

The Chair: I was not interrupting you. I was asking Mr Bisson to let you answer the question.

Mr Swift: He reminds me of one of the aldermen we have sitting next to me on Monday, a very difficult --

The Chair: They have been pretty co-operative until now. It may be the schedule that is getting to them.

Mr Swift: The point is that I live in a three-bedroom bungalow -- my children refer to it as a crackerbox -- and I do so because that is what I can afford and that is what I could manage as a debt load. We have gone beyond what we as a country can manage as a debt load, and perhaps we have overbought in terms of -- in my case, a house -- services.

May I also say, Sault Ste Marie city council consciously said we will not raise the municipal tax this year. I am sure you are aware of what is going on in this community, even before all this befell us. We made a determination that we were not going to raise it. Some of the things we pride ourselves on doing, such as snow removal, we have cut that back. We in Sault Ste Marie have expected high levels of snow removal, and we have had it over the years. We are cutting back on that. We are cutting back on every service that is possible, and the people by and large, after consultation with them, and it has always been with their consultation, have agreed with us that tax reduction or holding the line is impossible. They say, "But if you can do it, God bless you." Generally we have met with acceptance, and I think that is what our governments have to do -- say: "Let's get a grip on it here. The damn thing is running away with us."

The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Swift.


The Chair: I call next Sharon Graham, president of the Sault Ste Marie and District Labour Council.

Ms Graham: First, as I look around the room, it is so great to see so many women sitting in these seats for a change.

In order to keep things brief, I am going to cut out a few things from my presentation. You all have copies. I hope you will look at the comments and review them.

As Canadians, we share many resources and programs envied worldwide. Over the past few years we have entered into areas of dispute and debate which are tearing this nation apart. If we do not pull back and regroup and revisit our vision of the future with positive, workable solutions, we can sink to depths that are frightening and more devastating.

We feel that with the pending talks about free trade with Mexico, a bit of our recent history has to be shared with you. Since I have been active in the labour council since 1983, I have had the opportunity to chair three events regarding free trade.

The first forum, "What is Free Trade?" comprised a broad-based list of 10 presenters: 4 against free trade, 3 for free trade, and 3 undecided. We thought this was a learning process for all of us and consciously endeavoured to have varied viewpoints on the subject in order to present an objective evening with food for thought for all. We had gone to a town hall meeting held by our sitting member of Parliament at that time, Jim Kelleher, who had just received the appointment as international trade minister. When he finally agreed to attend, he was very direct in his instructions to me that he would not debate the issue and would have no comments on it. We agreed to that and just wanted him there to listen to what everyone had to say. He agreed to say a few words only and acknowledge the speakers for their participation. He would not discuss free trade. The morning of the event, he cancelled.

The next year we ran a forum on alternatives to free trade. This was hot and heavy, both sides of the issue lining up and committed to their philosophy on the issue, many proponents of the deal annoyed with labour and accusing labour and like-minded groups and individuals of using scare tactics about this golden opportunity for Canada.

The third event we sponsored was having the president of the Canadian Labour Congress, Shirley Carr, come to Sault Ste Marie to talk to us about free trade. Mostly those against free trade came out to that event. When we tried to line her up on a local talk show, we were told that she would be a welcome guest as long as she did not discuss free trade. A month earlier that same year, International Women's Day, March 8, was dedicated to the topic of the impact of free trade on women. The particular reporter felt that we were doing too many things on free trade and it was no longer newsworthy.


The responsibility of the media is a sticky item for anyone to challenge, but this we must, both print and electronic media. I know you cannot legislate integrity, but we hope the Ontario Press Council hopefully closely reviews some of the practices. On the national level, the CBC cutbacks are a loss to our country and as well to many jobs.

Now back to the free trade issue. Some businesses accused us of being irresponsible with our statements about what we saw in conjunction with the Pro-Canada Network as the downsides to free trade. We were dubbed by some as bearers of doom and gloom. These attitudes were frustrating at the time and have proved to be a costly mistake for Canada. Millions of our tax dollars were spent on trying to sell us on accepting free trade by many methods, all costing us, the taxpayers, dollars. A coalition of interest groups big on heart and time commitments to the issue but short on dollars got involved with the Pro-Canada Network in trying to defeat this devastating piece of legislation.

Another member of the federal government visited our city during election time. John Crosbie, the then Minister for International Trade, was speaking at a meeting of Progressive Conservative supporters and interested bystanders, of which I was one. I was appalled at the arrogance of this man to laugh and joke about not having read the agreement. That is why he hires other people, said he. All of your presenters across this province have had to put in some time and in some cases lots of reading to voluntarily come forward and present to your committee. Students in school have had to read reams of material in preparation for assignments in pursuit of a good mark. This man is being paid our tax dollars and does not make the time or effort to properly acquaint himself with a piece of legislation which has many repercussions to all of Canada. And then some politicians wonder why the Canadian public is disenchanted with the lot.

The next goody presented and force-fed to Canadians was the GST. Many of the same interest groups with broader-based coalitions worked against this tax, but to no avail. We were served up many of the same selling tactics utilized during the federal government's implementation of free trade, little notes and promises of rebates to seniors and those on any type of government assistance -- time, materials and distribution of this propaganda paid by, you guessed it, all the taxpayers again.

During this period of time, Mr Kelleher moves on from free trade -- from trade minister to Solicitor General to being defeated by Steve Butland locally, to senator. In this capacity he is now replacing Pat Carney on a committee because she did not respond to an issue the way her leader wished her to. After Mr Kelleher's appointment to the newly created opening of senator -- eight positions put in place to stack the Senate for passage of the GST of lots of our dollars -- Mr Butland and the labour council requested a meeting with Mr Kelleher to discuss with him the views of people of northern Ontario, whom he said he represented. Well, he did not turn up at this meeting either, but he did send his regrets through a letter. To me, it is very clear that Mr Kelleher has definitely forgotten the people who at one time delivered for him and he now delivers exclusively to the wishes of Brian Mulroney.

The latest opinion polls say that people are not really affected by the GST. There really has not been a shopping cycle or long enough time to test this. Ask people six months from now and we are certain that Canadians will surely have been affected by the GST.

We doom-and-gloomers also stated a few years back that the financial policies, or lack of them, of our government of the day would diminish the middle class and make the rich get rich and the poor get poor.

Statistics Canada just released its latest findings, which confirm what many have been saying for some time. With the fragmenting of the middle class, people are hanging on, trying not to fall into the lower-income bracket and others are taking risks and endeavouring to jump up into the upper-income bracket. Labour does not take pride in saying, "I told you so." We only ask that we all listen to each other and that we work together for common goals for all of us.

With this current state of affairs, our society is eating away at our moral fibre and we are exposing the less pleasant side of our characters. It is fast becoming survival of the fittest. But where is it etched in stone that it has to be so? There are so many issues irritating Canadians right now, making some of us irrational and unwilling to compromise. There seems to be a divide-and-conquer happening within Canada. Who is it, or what force is racing Canada into this sad state of affairs?

This latest move into free trade talks with Mexico can only spell more trouble for our ailing economy. To have supposedly responsible Canadians tell us that our recession is not due to free trade but to a high interest rate and plant closures, well, we ask you: Who is setting the high interest rates and what about these plant closures? Plant closures for ever or just a move across the border opening up under the same or different names? We urge all citizens of Canada to watch these talks closely and to listen to what you are not being told rather than what you are being bombarded with, misinformation that you are paying for through your tax dollars. If it is such a good deal, why does it have to be sold to us?

While attending an Ontario Federation of Labour one-day conference on job loss and privatization and contracting out less than two weeks ago, the Globe and Mail ran a story which was read out at the conference by Leo Gerard, district 6 director of the Steelworkers. The story read, "Stelco now admits that free trade is not good for the steel industry." There was quite a reaction from the 1,500 delegates in attendance. Locally, Algoma has now said it has lost faith in it.

The governments have saturated us with advertising. It is just like McDonald's; whether we like it or not, we are going to try it. This style of government is not leadership. It is brainwashing and a total waste of our revenues, which could be better spent elsewhere.

This morning I watched Canada AM while Pamela Wallen interviewed the political pundits from the Liberals, Conservatives and New Democrats. It was clear that the three parties are not in agreement about Mexican free trade talks, war involvement or the GST poll results.

If it sounds like I am being sceptical, it is because I am and I do not make any apologies for this. The words "trust" and "politician" can hardly be said in the same breath any more, and it is the politicians whom we traditionally have looked to for leadership and guidance. Collectively, we now appear to be hesitant and cynical and looking for the hidden agenda. We see you, the new government in Ontario, as having the greatest opportunity of turning this around. You have started off by being straight and up front and we urge you to continue to do so. Perhaps by the end of your first term in office you will be able to turn this attitude of general malaise shared by many Canadians around to a positive viewpoint.

When all around you is falling apart, a survival mode lashes out. Unfortunately, you the politicians, deserved or not, are and will be more so in the future bearing the wrath of our misfortunes.

One of the ways you can alleviate some of this building distrust and negativity is by being up front with us about all things. We do not begrudge you a decent wage. You work hard and deserve it. What we do find hard to accept is some of the enhancements, most recently by the federal government, to wages and benefits, while we the workers in Canada paying your salaries are urged not to ask for decent increases. "Don't shop across the border and tighten your belts."

We all want better pensions. Most work 20 to 30 years to reach this goal and in a lot of cases receive pensions hovering around the poverty line. Granted, you have to get elected to your jobs, but you only have to have it for six years and then you have a healthy hedge of financial security in your retirement years. Politicians are running at younger ages and we the taxpayers are helping with your future. We hope you will be more attentive to our needs.

All Canadians should have the right to an adequate standard of living, food, clothing and housing. The federal government has cut back funding to social programs and policies put in place while it still collects our tax dollars for same. Their leadership has caused many social problems affecting programs. We want them to govern by the whole for the whole. The federal government continues to fragment our mosaic. We do not want government run by reaction to polls or popular opinion; we want better and more peaceful lives.

This country is the Heinz 57 of the world, rich in heritage and many cultures. If you visit Miami and other southern locations, many signs are in Spanish. Downtown Toronto has sections with signs in Chinese and others in Italian, etc. Winnipeg has signs in French. Highway signs in northern Ontario are in French. It would appear that this signage came about based on need. How has this been accomplished? Were there problems getting this accomplished?

We do not pretend to have an answer to the language issue. While we have a policy in place through the Canadian Labour Congress which states that we are a bilingual organization, our membership is divided on this issue locally. The only observation I have about Quebec pulling away from Canada is to reiterate a well-used phrase among our union environments: "United we stand, divided we fall." We wish them well in their deliberations. As the government of Ontario, we hope you will continue to have open lines of communications with Quebec. Whatever the outcome, we cannot achieve anything if we do not talk and we do not listen.

Areas I would personally like to mention involve the move to getting people more involved in volunteering. The ads on the radio about encouraging people to volunteer with the little voice saying, "This is your conscience speaking," have me concerned. Many areas of volunteerism and fund-raising to keep programs and services and research afloat should really fall under the funding of governments.

The concerns we have discussed and those of all your other presenters must realistically involve millions of dollars. We hope through continued dialogue with the people of Ontario that you will appropriate the tax dollars and transfer payments fairly, responsibly and plentifully.

In an effort to reclaim transfer payments rightfully belonging to provincial governments from the federal government, we in labour councils across this province are in the planning stages of recruiting the mayors and reeves of our communities and labour council presidents to go to Ottawa, hopefully led by our Premier, to lobby the federal government about transfer payments. If this is successful in Ontario, then we will propose that labour councils and other groups across the rest of Canada do the same.


Health care in the future is of concern to all of us whether we consciously think about it or not. Movement seems to be afoot to more ambulatory care. As this trend escalates, bed closures, job losses, quality of care and many other important factors all have to be considered. While we are also practising more and more preventive care, the results cannot really be evaluated for approximately another 20 years. If giving up good junk food -- I mean, adopting better eating habits -- practising safe sex, stopping smoking, curtailing alcohol, abstaining from drug use, etc, turns out not to be all that we had hoped, our health care will be severely taxed at that point in time.

Right now we have problems with long waiting lists for attention. Some Canadians race across the border to apparent greener pastures and find it costs a great deal more or that the CAT scan they had was done on a first-generation machine and is unusable. Rehab facilities on a for-profit basis seem so attractive and appealing to our urgent needs on the other side of the border. We in Ontario want our health care facilities to be enhanced, not set aside because of the cost.

We anticipate that you wanted questions in the discussion paper answered. I know we have been taught not to answer a question with a question, but when we do not have a lot of answers, we turn to our next level of experience and knowledge, etc, and right now, folks, that is you. We can only add these concerns on to the mounds of other concerns you have building up daily.

We wish you well in your analysis of all your collected data and trust that you will come to some form of resolve late in March which will give us in Ontario some light at the end of the tunnel.

But the task does not stop there. We must dialogue with Canadians all across the country. All Canadians in whatever region they live, ethnic background or income bracket are all equals and all deserve to have a voice in the future of our nation.

The Chair: Thank you very much. I think there are a couple of questions. Mrs O'Neill to start.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Ms Graham, I do want to congratulate you because I do see here, first of all, a woman taking a very strong leadership role, a leadership role in the economy and understanding the economy and a desire to know what is going on and how free trade affects women, and certainly some of that has not been very happy news we have been seeing. I am most disturbed, as you must be, that Mr Crosbie is the person who has been chosen to go to Mexico to sit at the table on our behalf.

That all being said -- and you are going to keep monitoring the GST, and I hope you will do that -- I think it is also admirable that you are demanding an accounting of your politicians and of your media.

I must, however, remind you that this is an all-party committee. There was a great deal of competition among us, although we cannot do much about it, but many of us wanted to serve on this committee, and those of who are here, no matter which party, are very, very happy to be here because it is giving us an uninterrupted opportunity to hear people like you. I do feel that politicians of all parties are interested in trying to develop good leadership roles in their own community and certainly in trying to help those who come before them.

I hope you will appreciate that. That is not just limited to one party, and all individuals who serve as politicians -- and many people do serve as politicians, and I am using that word by choice. I think it is important to realize that.

I just wanted to say one thing to you that you said about MPPs, provincial politicians, about pensions. Our pensions are not the same as the feds.

Ms Graham: Okay.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I do not know whether they ever will be, but they are not now and they certainly are a much more graduated kind of buying into the actual full benefit, so I thought you would like to know that.

Thank you again. I found your brief very informative and I intend to read it in its entirety.

The Chair: Do you want to comment at all to that?

Ms Graham: No. I have a brother-in-law who is an MLA for another party so I do admit that all parties have good points and bad points. I was not aware of the provincial one, so I stand corrected for not doing my homework on that.

Mr F. Wilson: Unfortunately, we do not have enough time to go into the detail I would like to go into on this brief you put before us, but I would like to talk to you in your position as president of the Sault Ste Marie District Labour Council and therefore the voice of labour in Sault Ste Marie. I was going to ask what role you saw organized labour taking in our consultative process here since you represent one of the voices that have very seldom been asked for and, when asked for, is very seldom heeded.

But you did mention in your brief a project that sort of caught my ear. It seemed to involve people I may know. Therefore, I wonder if you would expand on that. That is the one you were referring to about your assault on Ottawa -- being facetious I know -- that program.

Ms Graham: This may be a bit premature. This just was discussed at our meeting two weeks ago in Toronto. On a quarterly basis, some of you may or may not be aware, presidents of labour councils get together in Toronto through the Ontario Federation of Labour and the Canadian Labour Congress and discuss common issues in their areas and how to deal with some of them. This was actually the Windsor Labour Council that came up with this idea. I hope we have the blessing of the mayor of Windsor. He volunteered to contact all the other mayors in other communities to get together and go to Ottawa and talk about our transfer payments. That is one step.

Mr F. Wilson: That is a unique, I would think, project you have in mind. It is probably the first time I have heard that kind of a combination. Is that the kind of activity you think there should be, across a number of organizations like yours or other citizens' organization, that kind of grass-roots, direct participation?

Ms Graham: Well, lots of times you do not get access to talk to politicians. I think if you have a Premier like Bob Rae who is open to meeting with all groups of people -- one of the things he mentioned was walking into an auto workers' building where he had been going for years and a man's eyes welling up and that man saying, "This is the first time we have ever had a Premier in here" -- so it is a different attitude already, starting with this Premier and treating everybody as equal.

We think if we go to the federal government and it sees that there is a good cross-section of people -- now labour councils are only the start; that is not to say that there cannot be other interest groups that come along once this is set out. I must say they were really interested to see if I could get our local mayor to come there because then we would be guaranteed media coverage, they thought.

The Chair: Thank you very much.


The Chair: I will go next to Sharon Selkirk from the Business and Professional Women's Clubs of Ontario.

Ms Selkirk: Good evening. Due to our time constraints, I will try and keep my remarks short. When we were called and asked to present at this committee, we were told to give our views and concerns, not to worry too much about the actual questions as long as we felt they fitted into the category.

The Chair: That is absolutely fine.

Ms Selkirk: I am here representing the Business and Professional Women's Clubs of Ontario and the Sault Ste Marie Business and Professional Women's Club.

While we are going to try to address these issues on a provincial basis, we emphasize that we feel that a preplanning, co-operative effort must be made by all provinces to arrive at an effective implementation strategy on all these issues that we will present. The competition that presently exists between the provinces to arrive at similar objectives must be eliminated and replaced by a combined, co-operative effort by all provinces and territories within Canada to work towards common goals and solutions.

The information that our issues are based on was presented at annual conferences of our provincial organization and at biennial conventions of our national organization. Over the years, the Sault Ste Marie club has been directly involved, through the submission of resolutions, at both the provincial and national levels.

The Business and Professional Women's Clubs, for you who do not know, is a non-sectarian, non-partisan organization. Although Sharon Graham is a member of our organization, it is very much of one party. Our primary concern is the education, employment and economic status of women employed outside the home, and we try to address these issues on a provincial-national base and actually internationally through our various federations.

I will get down to the issues of concern. One of the major issues of concern within our organization is violence against women. During our national convention in Penticton in July 1990, violence against women was selected as our service project for the years 1990-92. We wanted to create an awareness across Canada and we are in the process of planning seminars and conferences to cover this.


We are also part of a group of women's groups within Ontario and Canada pressing the federal government to establish a royal commission on violence against women. From what I hear, this is probably going to take place, and we as business and professional women will be helping to host a national conference in this area.

We would urge the government to increase funding in both new and existing emergency shelters for battered women and their children to ensure their ongoing existence. Recently, it was announced that funds would be cut in this area.

We would ask the government to establish an adequate network of transition shelters and services for women throughout the province and the country, and to increase the availability of subsidized housing to women and their children leaving such shelters.

We also feel that pornography has a strong impact on the attitude towards women. It was announced this week by the Ontario Film Review Board that it has relinquished many of its responsibilities for censorship. Ontario's adult population now has access to explicit sex films. There are a few exceptions, but that leaves you and me -- Joe Public -- responsible for identifying offensive materials and enforcing the removal of such.

While we recognize that legislation surrounding pornography comes under federal jurisdiction in most cases, we would urge that the government identify and establish a public educational program to raise the consciousness and awareness of the average Ontario resident about the form current pornography is taking, including not only videotapes but computer games, which I am sure many of you have seen and which are quite accessible to our children and to our homes. In this program, we would like emphasized the destructive impact of attitudes towards women, men and children through derogatory implications and symbols as well as the negative values it perpetrates in our society. This campaign could be something like our seatbelt campaign or the don't drink and drive campaign.

Sexual harassment in the workplace is another form of violence against women. We would like the government to ensure that employers institute programs of awareness and education regarding sexual harassment in working establishments; enforce the Human Rights Code of Ontario and the Employment Standards Act with respect to sexual harassment in a timely fashion and with appropriate penalties, and declare sexual harassment a hazard in the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Support and custody orders: We need to stress the importance that there be co-operation between provinces. It has to be nationwide. It will not work unless it is nationwide. We offer our support to the government for its recent introduction of proposed legislation extending the enforcement of support and custody payments. Further, we would urge the government to amend the act respecting enforcement of support and custody orders to include enforcement orders for court costs and payments pursuant to property transfers. In addition to recipients of the family benefits allowance, we would ask the government to publicize the Support and Custody Orders Enforcement Act to those who do not receive family allowance or have not been in need of it.

Child care is one of our major problems at this point. We need to come to some agreement between the provinces and we need a feeling of unity. Many European countries have great child care facilities that we might pattern ourselves on. We as working women are the major users of this service, and over the years we have continued to voice our concerns on the lack of quality, affordable child care.

We would ask the government to give priority and set adequate goals in the next three-year plan for 1991-93:

To provide funding for the expansion of licensed, quality, affordable child care services to catch up to the level of the need for accessible day care services, especially to meet the needs of parents who are shift workers, those who are receiving social assistance while attending educational institutions, those who live in rural areas and parents who need care for infants;

To create a controlled, comprehensive day care program funded by the private sector, the user, according to the ability to pay, and the government. We expect a user fee. We would ask the government for incentives for industry to create on-site day care facilities and tax relief to these users for the amount of the day care.

We would ask for stricter government controls on the training and certification of the staff and facilities. We want a uniform set of rules and training set up for these child care centres, where we put our children.

Illiteracy: We recognize that illiteracy is a major problem in our society today. BPWC would urge the government to undertake an advertising program similar to the US program. We see that every day on our TVs about illiteracy in the US, but we see very little in Canada. Where we may do the most benefit is possibly on TV during the 6/49 -- people love to buy all these tickets -- radio campaigns and using school videos; there are a number of illiterate children within our school systems.

Constitutional reform: In considering future amendments to the Canadian Constitution, we would urge the government to put procedures in place to ensure that any change in the Canadian Constitution Act affirm the rights and freedom of women, visible minorities, aboriginal people, persons with disabilities and francophone minorities outside of Quebec, and to ensure these changes are consistent with the preservation and enhancement of the multicultural heritage of Canada. We would ask the government to develop a democratic amending process for Constitutional reform, with full prior public debate of all issues under the Constitution and full participation by all those involved, all the women's groups and minorities I listed prior.

To give a full female perspective, BPWC would ask the government for appointments of concerned women to government boards and committees which address issues of major concern to all women. Some of these areas would include:

Free trade: Appoint women to free trade discussions who will present and ensure that the concerns of the business and professional women relating to free trade will be tabled and addressed during important economic decision-making processes.

Judges: While we commend Ontario on its leadership role in the appointment of more women to the bench, we would ask the government to revise the appointment process to increase the total number of women appointed to the bench both at the provincial and federal levels.

Disabled and handicapped persons: The appointment of disabled and physically handicapped adults to government boards or commissions which deal with matters directly affecting the lives of these individuals.

Free trade: We are concerned with probable job losses as the direct result of free trade. We would urge the government to ensure that prospective job loss caused by the arrangements of such labour-intensive industries as clothing, textiles and electrical product manufacturing, which employ a large portion of females, is countered with ready access to alternative employment opportunities and retraining programs, with opportunities for relocation and adjustment assistance programs fostering adjustment to new working conditions, and by ensuring strict adherence to the 10-year phase-in provision in these industries. We would ask the government to provide some training programs and ensure employment opportunities in the areas of predicted job growth -- job relocation and retraining -- such as in the service sector, which is predicted to have a large growth.


We commended the government last year for the provision of funding educational programs to train women in non-traditional occupations, including apprenticeships. We have some apprenticeship training going in the city right now. However, we feel that further action is needed in the area of education for non-traditional occupations.

We have made repeated requests to the government: to sponsor campaigns to encourage females in school to choose mathematics and science courses and other occupational paths which have in the past been considered nontraditional for females; to continue to sensitize and train school counsellors and educators on these issues; to make funding available to school boards, colleges and universities to compile statistics and conduct research to identify any barriers which might be discouraging females from continuing to study math and science and choosing nontraditional occupations, and to develop an action plan for removing such barriers.

We would also ask them to co-operate with businesses in retraining programs and upgrading of present employees, and to provide additional financial incentives to employers who are providing on-the-job training for women in non-traditional occupations.

Across the province and Canada, the trend to downsize many of our major businesses and industries has escalated. We are rapidly becoming a nation of specialized, small industries and businesses. In recent years, the number of women entrepreneurs opening small businesses has outnumbered their male counterparts. In light of these revealing facts, BPWC would ask the government to continue to develop and endorse programs which will encourage women to participate in the start-up of small businesses, specifically, financial counselling, marketing strategy information, loans, grants and consultative support; encourage financial institutes to make credit available to women on the same basis as to men to start their businesses; develop adequate social support systems for women, including maternal health care and provision of child care during working hours; develop economic strategies which provide incentive to women to begin their own business ventures.

Bilingualism: We are a national organization, and on the national level we are a bilingual organization. We try to operate on a bilingual basis as much as possible due to the fact that we have clubs in regions of Quebec and New Brunswick where French is the primary language, but over the years we have found this mode of operation prohibitive without the assistance of government funding. We will be able to continue to operate as such only as long as government funding is made available. Next May we will be having a provincial conference. We were asked to make it a bilingual conference at our last conference, but unless we can receive full funding we will not be able to hold a bilingual conference in the city.

I thank you for your time. That is it.

Ms Churley: In the interest of allowing my other colleagues to ask you questions, I will be quick. This is very comprehensive, and thank you very much.

I just wanted to know if you talked to your Quebec counterparts during the Meech accord, some of the women who were involved or, should I say, not involved at that time. I know there was a lot of controversy around women being left out. I just would like to know if you have had any communication around that.

Ms Selkirk: Not really. We have very low representation from Quebec when we go to our national conferences. They are an outspoken group and they want to have their representation, but as far as the Meech Lake accord is concerned, there was little discussed because our conference was right when it was dying, right at that time, and very little was said on that issue.

Ms Churley: One other quick question. You mentioned a national conference on violence against women. When is that, or do you have a date yet?

Ms Selkirk: That is just in the planning stage. I heard November as the date, probably in Toronto.

Ms Churlcy: Perhaps you could let us know. Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you very much.


The Chair: I call next Bernadette Morin-Strom.

Ms Morin-Strom: Thank you for the opportunity to speak about a new Canada. Your public discussion paper raises many important questions about where we are headed as a province and as a nation. I certainly am concerned about our economy, fully supportive of the right to native self-government, and want to see real equality for women and minorities. However, I do not have the expertise nor the time today to address these issues.

My objective today is solely to give you some insight as a Franco-Ontarian living in Sault Ste Marie. I believe our experience must be heeded when addressing your discussion-paper question: What are the roles of the English and French languages in Canada?

Je suis ici aujourd'hui pour vous parler du Canada, de l'Ontario et de Sault-Sainte-Marie. Sault-Sainte-Marie est ma ville natale, ma mère est née ici et mon père est venu ici du Quebec il y a 50 ans. J'étais fière de ma ville, de ma province et de mon pays. Je me sentais chez moi ici, je me sentais appréciée et valorisée. Il y avait toujours des gens qui souffraient de la francophobie, mais ces gens devenaient vraiment une minorité. Les écoles d'immersion débordaient, et il me semblait que ma génération avait enfin reconnu la dualité du Canada. J'étais à l'aise dans ma ville, dans ma province et dans mons pays.

Le 29 janvier 1990 tout cela a changé. En se déclarant unilingue anglaise, ma ville natale rejetait la vision de la dualité du Canada et offrait à sa place une vision unilingue. Cette ancienne vision du Canada sous le masque de multiculturalisme est une vision d'assimilation qui voit notre pays comme la société américaine, une sorte de « melting pot », une vision où ma province deviendrait, à mon avis, l'état de l'Ontario aux États-Unis.

Il faut absolument démasquer cette résolution qui en fait était le résultat d'une pétition préparée par l'Association pour la préservation de la langue anglaise, un groupe qui a comme but la destruction du français dans notre pays. Aujourd'hui, la population qui a un héritage français à Sault-Sainte-Marie est à 9 % mais seulement 4 % peuvent encore parler la langue française. Même parmi ceux qui peuvent parler le français, 89 % n'utilisent pas le français dans leur vie quotidienne. L'assimilation est presque complète ici, une situation très, très différente des autres communautés comme Sudbury, Timmins et North Bay.

Nous sommes une minorité menacée qui poursuivions nos droits linguistiques quand nous avons été visées par le Conseil de ville. Nous avons souffert une insulte, enfin toute la francophonie du Canada a subi cette insulte qui n'était pas digne de cette ville. L'affronterie à la nature même du Canada demeure encore ici, une année plus tard, comme symbole de l'intolérance et de l'ignorance.

Ce que le mouvement anti-français voulait, c'était d'envoyer un message d'intolérance au Québec afin qu'il se separe. Beaucoup de gens de Sault-Sainte-Marie ont été dupés et maintenant dans l'histoire du Canada nous serons renommés, pas à cause de notre générosité mais à cause de notre intolérance envers un peuple qui fait partie de notre famille canadienne.

I hope your committee will recognize the bitter experiences of Franco-Ontarians here in the Sault since our community declared itself English only, one year ago. I believe our experiences are an indication of what more than a half-million Franco-Ontarians will face across Ontario if Quebec leaves Canada and Ontario becomes part of a new English-speaking country.

In my opinion, Sault Ste Marie has given political legitimacy to the vilest forms of cultural and linguistic repressions at the street level. Francophones are harassed for speaking French in restaurants, while shopping, or at work, with comments like: "We speak white only here. Don't you know it's an English community?" Bigotry continues to be displayed daily on the radio phone-in talk programs and francophones have become the scapegoats for all of society's ills. If there are not enough beds in the hospital, it is because we have bilingualism. If the streets are not shovelled, it is because we have bilingualism. Everything is related back to bilingualism.


As a teacher, I know that more and more children are being told that French classes do not matter. Despite Bill 8's applicability to our district, government agencies appear to be intimidated away from posting positions requiring French fluency in Sault Ste Marie.

There has been a decline, not an enhancement, of French-language services in our area. A number of unqualified teachers have had to be hired this year because qualified francophones will not move here. The français program has degenerated from the program I was in 30 years ago into what is effectively a French immersion program culturally inappropriate to meeting the needs of Franco-Ontarians. The will to maintain a Franco-Ontarian culture is dying in Sault Ste Marie, as surely as it will die across Ontario if our province becomes part of a new English-only country.

The reaction of francophones to their repression in the Sault has manifested itself in a number of ways. There has been political mobilization of hundreds of ordinary folk to attend rallies, write letters and march monthly on city hall. While the support of many anglophones has been noteworthy, the lack of response from most business, labour and community leaders after more than a year of fighting has left many francophones with the feeling that Sault Ste Marie is no longer their home.

As a result, many francophones are withdrawing from broader community involvement. Even in these desperate economic times with difficulties at Algoma Steel and with numerous small businesses closing, many francophones have resorted to personal boycotts of Sault Ste Marie, spending their consumer dollar whenever possible in Sault, Michigan, or elsewhere in Ontario.

Most difficult of all is to be forced to choose between your language and culture and your home town. A decision to move one's home, to uplift your family and start over again elsewhere is never an easy one to be taken lightly. I know that in the teaching profession alone, more than a dozen families have already decided to leave the Sault. A consensus is developing that the French language and a local French culture that goes back 350 years is now doomed in Sault Ste Marie. Perhaps the city's name will be changed to St Mary's Falls.

The French language and our French culture are not relics in Canada. They will be fought for and maintained in Quebec, if nowhere else. I sincerely hope that Franco-Ontarians will demonstrate the same will to survive. The experience of francophones here in the Sault has helped me understand some of what Quebeckers feel when they are talked down to by Canada's English-speaking majority. Today I sympathize with and support the aspirations of Quebeckers to a degree I never had previously. This does not necessarily mean that I agree with separatism, but I do understand what it is like to be constantly hit with these analogies of French Canadians being compared to the AIDS virus or when cities in Ontario start saying that they want to be unilingual and they do not want the French factor here.

I think that what happened in Sault Ste Marie or across Canada and especially in Quebec, the reaction they had to Sault Ste Marie being a French community with a French name -- they always knew that Alberta and the west never really understood them, but they never thought that their neighbour Ontario did not understand them either. When we began declaring ourselves unilingual, I think Quebeckers said: "Who in Canada wants us? Who values us? Who appreciates us?" When people stand back and say, "Quebec is going to separate," who has pushed Quebec away? I think that is a central issue that has not been dealt with.

L'Ontario doit garantir les droits linguistiques et culturels aux Franco-Ontariens, autrement, dans un nouveau pays anglophone, plus de la moitié de un million de Franco-Ontariens auront à choisir entre leur ville et leur héritage français, un choix déjà subi par beaucoup de Franco-Ontariens du Sault.

As a first step in good faith, Ontario should follow the lead of New Brunswick and immediately move to declare Ontario officially bilingual. This action, while largely symbolic in nature today, would clearly indicate the resolve of Ontario to maintain the French language and culture as a fundamental element of our province now and in the future.

In conclusion, I would like to quote and fully support Premier Bob Rae's concluding speech from the debate on Bill 8:

"It is our view and it is my personal view that Ontario can do an immense amount for national unity by taking that next step beyond the step we have taken today, a step that would include and recognize French as an official language in this province and one that would guarantee those rights in the Constitution."

And Bob Rae went on to say:

« Ça va prendre encore un peu d'effort de la part de tous ceux parmi nous qui pensent qu'il est vraiment temps d'enchâsser ces droits dans la Constitution. » Fin de la citation.

Monsieur le Président, je vous remercie de votre patience.

M. le Président : Je crois que je parle au nom du comité en vous remerciant pour être venue ici et pour nous parler de l'expérience que vous avez vécue à Sault-Ste-Marie. I think that -- I hope at least and I think on this I speak for the members of the committee -- our presence in this council chamber as a legislative committee functioning fully in English and French is an indication of our support for the kinds of directions that we need to move in here and across the province.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Ms Karl Morin-Strom, thank you so much and thank you for delivering in both French and English. I really do see that there is suffering in your brief. I think it is more than generous that you would share that with us, that you would tell us what you really know is happening here. The depth of it I did not appreciate until you spoke.

There is one section I would like to ask you about. Because of my limitations, I would like to ask you what you mean by the French education -- I presume you are speaking about francophone students -- is like French immersion now. Could you say a little bit more about that and why that is like that?

Ms Morin-Strom: I am a French immersion teacher, so what I do is I teach children who are basically from anglophone backgrounds. A francophone school does not operate that way. A francophone school would operate in the sense that the children coming to you in kindergarten already have a fluency in the language.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I am pretty familiar with this in that I was helpful in the Bill 109 stuff, but could you tell me why there must be that kind of environment here?

Ms Morin-Strom: What is happening in the school board -- the public school board I know more about because I teach in the public school board -- but what I am thinking about is that they have lost many French first-language teachers in the separate school board, and what is happening now is that the classes are being taught by teachers who are not qualified as French teachers, who perhaps are fluent in the language but who are not qualified, or the other way around, qualified but not fluent in the language.

I am not sure what the status is now, but because the French first-language schools have lost so many children, the enrolment is declining and declining to the point where I guess everything will come true. People will turn around and say, "We can't have a school because there are only two children here or 10 children," where at one time there were 50, but they are all leaving because the quality of education that they need is just not here.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I hope that will not happen.

Ms Morin-Strom: I hope so too, but I do not know.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Thank you very much for your very, very passionate plea.

Mr Beer: I just have a very brief comment. May I, as the former minister responsible for francophone affairs and particularly here in this place, thank you and so many of the people in Sault Ste Marie who tried to find a way through the crisis that emerged last year. I know that there were many, many dedicated people who really do see a city in which francophone and anglophone can live happily together. As you know, a number of us here around the table served with your husband, Karl, and I hope you will take our best wishes to him for his courage in the positions that he has taken. We wish you both the very best in the future.


The Chair: I call next Louise Campbell.

Ms Campbell: Mr Chairman and committee members, thank you for listening to me this evening. Madame Morn-Strom and I teach at the same school, we are both immersion teachers, and we gave each other moral support. She said, "You speak 15 minutes and I'll speak 15 minutes," so I am here too. I am glad I came. I am impressed with the quality of the presentations that I have seen on behalf of Sault Ste Marie this evening and I am also impressed with your involvement. I have a very deep sense that you are not hobby politicians.

The whole idea of looking at a new Canada and the role that Ontario will play in it leaves me personally disheartened. To me, Ontario has always been a province on the leading edge of trends in the country and in the world. The linguistic, economic and social tensions we live with now are symptomatic of either some form of adolescent crisis or a true parting of the ways in this country, and for this I am deeply sorry. The issues are many and very complex and even though I hardly feel qualified to voice my vision, I feel the need to express my deep sense of discouragement and betrayal.


I have always lived in Ontario but not always in the north. Educationally I am a product of the bilingual school system, a school system that before the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism and the Official Languages Act, provided a second-class educational opportunity for French-speaking citizens, especially those in the north.

My language has always been important to me. My maternal grandmother encouraged, cajoled and begged that we maintain this, one of our gifts of birth. My paternal grandmother told us stories of her postmaster father making every effort to render service in French to the people he served and in so doing becoming bilingual, and the generation that followed him continued in that trend. My language made me different and I learned to live with the difference and be proud of the difference. I am not unaccustomed to negative attitudes. I have worked through, over, under and around them all of my professional career.

I believe my spirit to overcome was undergirded by a belief that my province and my country were following the high road on this issue as well as many other issues. Today that faith has been shaken. My trust in a system that will openly and fairly listen to the grievances of its constituents does not exist. I have spent a year reeling from the betrayal that has been perpetrated on a minority group. What makes it even sadder is that it was aimed at a minority within the minority.

Hatred and mistrust are not as accurate as smart weapons. They destroy more than their target. The fear and misinformation that has been spread around has fired a populace that was frustrated and confused about more than just the language issue in this country. It has always been my experience that if you want to detract from the real concerns, throw out the French-English red herring, sit back and watch them fight. We have many freedoms in this country and, as far as circulating a petition and whipping up a frenzy of francophobia is concerned, that is also within the realm of individual rights.

Requesting a cultural centre and better education for francophone citizens within this community is also the right of groups and individuals. These exercises are, in my opinion, healthy. They produce stress but they also generate growth. Just as this is, good discussion is difficult but it is important and it is needed. If the old Canada has to fall away, so be it but the new Canada must protect its greatest asset, and that is its people. No one should ever wake up to a government that uses them to send a message to another level of government, as we were used in Sault Ste Marie.

People danced for joy in their kitchens for the victory that they had won. Cheers of, "We've got them now" were heard at victory meetings. The pain I felt was ignored by people who, given a death in my family or a serious illness, would have at least offered a kind word. I have been told, "Give it up, ignore it." Yet every day I pour out to hungry young minds the essence of me that makes me so special in my French immersion class.

I have never lived in Quebec and I feel like an abandoned child in a custody nightmare. I am told, "Go back to where you came from," but I have always lived here. "Stop ramming French down our throats." But you know, ladies and gentlemen, I have been humbled by the efforts I have seen as I have taught adults and children who have made the greatest effort to try to learn a second language and bridge the gaps that lie between us. "Get on with the future," but if I ignore my past, I have no future. "Bilingualism costs too much. It is an impossible goal." But when I was born, no one would have believed we would some day walk on the moon.

I have never accepted and I cannot accept this attitude. If there is to be a new Canada, then I hope that it will cherish, protect and encourage one of its rights of birth that makes it so special and that is its francophone entity.

The Chair: There are a few questions and I would like to ask the members, again, to be very, very brief, because we are running beyond the time and we still have a few people we want to try to hear from.

Ms Harrington: I would just like to say that I believe those of us on the committee who have been here tonight and for the last four days are humbled by what we have heard of your struggle in this city. I just want to say that what we have learned, I believe, is how fragile a thing language is, through the native culture that we have interacted with in the last few days and of course the French language.

I thank you for your courage for coming and I also think that the very second presenter in Kenora on Monday said that the French language and culture are part of the very fabric of Canada. I think that is what we are hearing again.

Ms Campbell: It distinguishes us from the United States. Otherwise we are just another state.

Mr Offer: By way of comment, I note that you started your presentation by indicating a deep sense of discouragement and a faith that is shaken and you ended it by almost a hope that a new Canada, whatever that be, is characterized by one that is tolerant and cherishes so many of those values that we have heard so far today and in the previous days and, I trust, in the future.

I can only say, certainly on my behalf and I am sure on behalf of all the members of the committee, thank you for coming and sharing with us, first, that which is so important to you, that which causes such despair, and ending on a note that is one of optimism, not without challenge. Hopefully this committee in its endeavours will find values such as you have spoken of today, which are values not of difference, but rather of unity and of sameness, and for that maybe we will all be better off.

Mr Bisson: Just a very short question: One of the things I think we sense from the committee, and I think people who are watching, is a deep sense of hurt. I think that hurt is shared among a number of people, not only the francophone community but other people as well, because I believe that the view purported sometimes is not the majority view. But sometimes what happens is that adversity brings out the best in people and gives us the will, allows us to appreciate sometimes what we can possibly lose or where we are going.

I guess what I am asking is, do you think that there is enough goodwill out there to go ahead and to really honestly look at some of the questions that trouble us on language, economics and all of that?

Ms Campbell: Yes, I believe there is. I really believe there is even in this community. As far as I am concerned, Sault Ste Marie did not deserve this kind of a reputation.

Mr Bisson: I agree.

Ms Campbell: We are a wonderful city.

Mr Bisson: I agree.

Ms Campbell: We have a picture of Terry Fox here and I was in the Sault when Terry Fox came and followed him, because my husband at that time was a broadcaster and the whole city came out to welcome Terry Fox. That is Sault Ste Marie. We are a generous and beautiful community and we do not deserve this. We have been threatened by our local government that if we do not stop our demonstrations, it will be put to a referendum. If that is the only way this black mark can be taken away from our community, I say, "Well then, so be it." That discourages me and disheartens me, because I think this community deserves more than to have a municipal election run on this issue. We are facing some tremendous issues in Sault Ste Marie -


Mr Bisson: There needs to be a lot of dialogue on this issue before it can come to a referendum.

Ms Campbell: Oh, absolutely. The francophobia is true. When you have people who constantly say, "Well, I have nothing against you people," it gives me the shivers and little red flags pop up all over the place. I am not a fool. I am not a dreamer. I do not believe for a minute that all the parents who have their children in immersion programs are there because they want -- they are trying to give their children an advantage in life and if that is what we give them, then fine.

But then I also pick up Newsweek magazine, which is an American publication, and I see how the United States is struggling now to catch up with us as far as second languages are concerned. They realize that if they are going to be fit for the year 2000, they have to put some effort into second-language programs, and here we are saying, "Stop that." We are ahead of them and yet we are taking steps backwards. And why? Because of fear.

I am not any different than you are. As a matter of fact there is one good thing that has come out of this for me and that is, finally, a deep understanding of what assimilation is. I am assimilated. The French community sends me correspondence in English and the English community corresponds to me in French, because nobody knows what I am. But I know what assimilation is now. I know what it is. I did not before. So there has been some good from that perspective.


The Chair: I call next Lorraine Marttinen.

Ms Marttinen: Hi. I am the president of the deaf club here in the Sault. Unfortunately we closed that club three years ago, because we could not get adequate membership.

Hearing people, I feel, should know more about deaf people. They should be able to break into the deaf world, but because hearing people have fears and inhibitions, they are afraid to talk to us. They are afraid that maybe they will do something that we will perceive as making fun of us, or that they will offend us, so they do not approach us.

We also need them to understand our needs because many hearing people take sign language classes at the colleges, but they never socialize with us, never talk to us. I do not know if they have taken the courses just for fun, but they never get out and find out what we are really like. Why bother learning sign language if you do not speak to us? Why do you not come out and see us? You are always welcome to approach us at any time. Any events we have, you are welcome to join. We would encourage hearing membership in anything that we do.

I feel the issue of interpreting is extremely important. I asked for an interpreter at a union meeting and was refused that because there is none in the city and they would have had to bring somebody in, and they said the cost was too much. They would have to fly them into the Sault, put them up in a hotel and pay for meals. So, sorry, I could not get one. I think the Sault needs interpreters. We have to have that kind of access. It is tremendously frustrating for me. They say, oh, they will try to find some woman who will type out what is going on and I can try to read the English on a TV monitor. That is not the same.

The regular news on our local station, on channel 11, does not have captioning. Many of the programs have captioning and I think that is great, and then as soon as the local TV news comes on, the captioning disappears and I have no idea what is going on in my own city.

We have sent petitions down to Toronto and have heard nothing back from them. We want to see our own local news have captions and also programs such as Crimestopppers. I feel embarrassed sometimes. I found out that somebody had actually broken in nearby and l would not even know anything about it. I might have seen something, but I cannot even access those programs. We buy TV sets and they do not have captioning in them. We have to have additional outlay of cash to buy that. The new Maclean company that is here in the Sault now I certainly hope will recognize our needs, recognize the problem and help us out in this issue.

Ms Churley: You are the first deaf woman who has spoken to us and although I have nothing against deaf men, of course -- I have a very good friend sitting here and we are very proud to have Gary with us, because he has certainly brought an awareness to not just the NDP but the whole Legislature, and some of us are even learning a little sign language.

I just wanted to ask you, because I always ask these kinds of questions, if in the deaf community there are particular problems that affect you in a different way from men, being a deaf woman, and if there are special needs you have as a deaf woman?

Ms Marttinen: No, I do not think I really have any special problems just because of that. I would not say so.

Ms Churley: Okay. One last thing: I think that the next thing as we are moving to get more women into politics is that perhaps some day we would like to see a deaf woman in politics as well. I thank you for presenting. Maybe it will be you.

Ms Marttinen: Who, me? I do not know. I do not think so. I am a little too nervous for that, but thank you.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: We are all getting tired, but I think if Ms Churley goes back, we did have a deaf woman last night -- a native deaf woman, a single parent, if you remember.

Ms Churley: You are quite correct. Thank you for reminding me of that. We are tired. You are the second deaf woman who has presented.

The Chair: But the first in Sault Ste Marie. Thank you very much.

Ms Marttinen: I hope that I do have this dream now.

The Chair: The time is drawing beyond the possible. We have three other people who had added their names to the list. I know one of them, at least I gather, gave us a brief. What I would like to do is give those three individuals an opportunity to have up to four or five minutes each, if that will suffice, because we are under strict times with our plane out of here, and I apologize for that but we do not have much choice about that, and we will certainly be happy to take any additional comments in writing that people may want to send us after that. I think that is the best we can do, quite frankly, and with that in mind I then offer the opportunity to Phillip Turmain to come forward if he wishes to.


Mr Turmain: Sorry to hold you up. I did not expect to get to read.

It seems logical to state that today's society, and all the problems which plague it, are the products of our historical developments, and since we must begin somewhere to make timely relationships we will use 1867, our year of Confederation.

As a country we commenced back then to establish laws. They were written as they were needed. Let us make the very generous allowance here that all of the laws that were written were of at least some value. In any case, the individual effects of those laws, compounded by the factor of their interrelational effects, means that what we have today is a thick legal soup. It has become so laden with improvements to our social fabric that it can barely be stirred and is almost without taste.

Every debate exists today because one or more historical events is a constituent part of the soup. The only way a problem can be properly analysed and possibly solved is to consider its age and the according complexity that time has wrought. For every deficiency that our former legislators allowed, there is another dimension to the problem as it exists now, and I am here to say that nobody ever learned how to dismantle soup. Let us just forget that method.

What is all this analogy designed to say, you might ask. Let us examine a couple of examples here. Free trade: To the critics who would kill this legislation, consider this: It took 123 years to create the morass of trading restrictions, penalties, subsidies and other complications and to screw things up so badly. At least give credit to the Conservatives for having the courage to bear the sins of all previous governments in their valiant attempt to repair the past and to step into the new world markets which are exploding all about us. Just as Rome was not built in one day, neither could it be torn down in one day.

English-French: Hot potatoes do not break when they are dropped. This is a hot light bulb, an idea which is delicate but sound and certainly deserving. However the legislation reads, it guaranteed from the beginning that we are a bicultural society and that French rights are equal to English rights. Now all of a sudden, 123 years later, we are being told that today's working society is going to be forced to bear the entire financial burden of fixing our past neglect now.

Hold it, please. I am of French Canadian descent and I am proud of my heritage, but let's be reasonable. Allow us at least a generation of slow implementation. The cost belongs to many, most of whom are deceased. Do not dump all of it on today's society; it just is not fair.


The proponents of Meech Lake and the critics of the Sault Ste Marie city council decision to declare Sault Ste Marie officially English should have the broad shoulders to admit that there is a huge difference between racism and what actually prompted the Sault council's decision. Remember, je suis français, je parle français comme un résident du Québec. Je ne sais pas tous les mots et les phrases.

I am a French Canadian. Practical is practical and needless expense is exactly that, especially when it falls on us, the people of today. Let us plan and work towards a future target date, for example 2025 when these things have been paid for over time, just as they became a problem over time.

The Chair: Thank you very much, sir. I do not know what happened to the lights. Maybe someone is trying to tell us something.


The Chair: The second person I would like to call is Albert Kangas.

Mr Kangas: I would like to say thank you for allowing us people to say a few words.

Dear Canada, both of my parents were immigrants from Europe. I am a Canadian first. This is what this country is all about. I believe in one captain on a ship and that is a strong federal system.

Our school system should encourage a strong Canada, not what appears to be a system that is afraid of nationalism, of pride in our country. This is what holds a nation together in times of crisis. Other countries ask, "What is a Canadian?" It is about time we became Canadians or used our free trade policy to become Americans.

We seem to promote multiculturalism. That, I believe, is just a smokescreen to promote bilingualism. This type of approach is what is dividing the country. If any group of people wishes to promote its own cultural programs, it does so on its own. This should not be funded by any government. We are a unilingual country that at no time could afford these financial burdens.

The only reason we have bilingualism is to keep Quebec in Confederation. The financial cost is too high and there is no rate of return on this investment. I am not promoting English-only in Quebec. I am stating that the rest of Canada cannot afford the inefficiencies of a bilingual system. With the state of the world economies and tough business competition in the years ahead, we have to have accountability of all governments.

Canadians cannot necessarily afford programs that the governments say are good for us. We, as a nation, are educated and are able to think for ourselves what we can afford or not. Since the taxpayers of this country have no say in how our money is spent, we need referenda to voice our wishes. It is obvious that we cannot speak through our MPs since they have to vote on party lines.

In this new world order that all nations are talking about, I believe we can have a united Canada if people show forgiveness, love and think of a country, Canada, as a whole, not just their little corner of the world.


The Chair: I call next and last Louise Primeau.

Ms Primeau: Thank you. I realize I am last so I will speak as quickly as I can, but as effectively as I can. I also had notice from the labour council on Tuesday night and I had chosen not to speak, but as I sat in the audience, I was somewhat excited about the topic this evening and the quality of the speakers.

What I would like to do is tell you a little bit about why I am coming forward. I am a parent. I am a grandparent. I am a social worker and an activist, and it is not on any one front but on all fronts that I would like to speak to you about some of my concerns. The list I have is so extensive and I realize how exhausted you are. Some speakers have made some reference to it, but I would like to add my name to those concerns.

I am ultimately concerned about the state of the economy that we are in locally, provincially and on a national level. I am concerned about the recession and the high unemployment, particularly in Sault Ste Marie, and the devastation that is causing to our community and to our families. I am ultimately concerned about where our funding is going, where our money is being prioritized to.

I would like to touch a little bit on the war in the Persian Gulf and I want to say that on 15 January of this year I was immobilized and paralysed as I could not escape the devastation of the news on the media about what was happening. I am troubled that Canada is a party to the war. I am saddened by the fact that our troops are over there. That is not to say that I do not take the position that we support the troops, but I really do feel very strongly that we should support the troops and bring them home.

I feel that Canada has always been a peaceful nation, has always tried to resolve matters in a very equitable way. I believe that the measures we took were not long-term enough and that this has repercussions throughout the land. I cannot understand how we can discuss finding funding for a war when we are in such a position that we are talking about cutbacks on all levels of government -- municipal, provincial and federal.

I feel that our main concern has to be the people in our land. I feel it is very regretful that it is oil that has brought this issue to bear. I do not believe -- I wish someone could convince me otherwise -- that our real concerns are the people over there. I wish that was the case. I wish we could say that we cared about freedom for all, but quite frankly I am convinced that what has motivated us is a product that we want to control in our economy, and as such we have got involved in a war that I am not sure will be resolved in any way that is going to be helpful to anyone. I wish Canada -- through my MPP and MP -- would send that message to our governments.

I would just like to touch bases and tell you that I feel there is somewhat of a paradox in terms of aboriginal rights in Canada. I feel very strongly that the government ought to resolve this quickly, effectively and equitably. I feel very betrayed, in a sense, that Canada feels that we have got to go to the rescue of another nation because of invasion, particularly one that we feel is land-related, and we are not able to settle this matter effectively and quickly in Canada. I would like to encourage us to get involved and do so.

Free trade: I am ultimately concerned about free trade. I am concerned about the extensive loss of jobs, and again, I cannot even begin to say, on all levels.

I am concerned about the language issue in Sault Ste Marie. I would like to reiterate what the previous speakers have said. I also feel very strongly that what has happened in Sault Ste Marie was very unnecessary and very painful for many people, and I would like to see at some point that we can come to terms with that and somewhere, in some way resolve the matter so that we can get on with some other issues. That does not mean to say that we just ignore it and sweep it under the carpet. It is a very big issue.

I would like to talk a little bit about the GST and the unrest about that. The average Canadian, I guess in all corners of our nation, is ultimately concerned about taxation and the excessiveness of it.

I would just like to add deregulation to my list of my concerns. Ultimately I am concerned about deregulation. Every time I step on an aircraft I do not know if I am coming home. I have never to date had one uneventful incident in terms of a flight in or out of Sault Ste Marie, as recently as Monday. As recently as last Friday, when I got on an aircraft in British Columbia and we were streaming down the runway at maximum speed, zap, the aircraft stopped. I thought, "Well, gee, I thought they would have been a little alerted to the fact that we would have had our runway," but it was another mechanical failure. Deregulation is at the top of my list.

Privatization: I really would like the government to get back involved in terms of ownership. Needless to say, I am concerned about some of the systems in the province. I am concerned about our educational system. My children attend French education in Sault Ste Marie. I am concerned because I have two special needs children. Language is at the forefront of my concerns, but second to that not only is the language an issue, but the resources in that system is an issue. They cannot accommodate the needs of my children and that is something I wish I will have an opportunity to bring forward in future.

I leave you with that. I have talked as fast as I can. That is not my exhaustive list. I am glad I am the last speaker and I thank you for listening.

Ms Harrington: I just want to quickly comment that from the excellent speakers we have heard tonight, I would encourage all of you, especially the women, to run for city council this year.

The Chair: That comes from a former city councillor.

Ms Primeau: That is the plan.

The Chair: Just in closing I thank all of you who came here this evening to make presentations and those who came earlier today. We obviously heard a number of very useful comments to us. Particularly overarching all of those, I think, was a challenge to all of us to find new solutions both as politicians, but also as members of the public and the population of Ontario. It is our intent to continue that process to the best of our ability, both within our committee and also to find ways to continue the discussion with people across the province.

Our hearings continue next week, starting on Monday in Timmins and proceeding to Sudbury, North Bay and Orillia and Collingwood. You can follow our proceedings through the parliamentary channel if you are interested. Good evening.

The committee adjourned at 2132.