Thursday 21 February 1991

John Johnson

Conseil Des Écoles Séparées Catholiques Romaines Du District De Haldimand-Norfolk

Peter Leibovitch

Six Nations Council

Pauline Johnson Collegiate

Norman Serro

Social Planning And Research Council Of St Catharines And Thorold

Norman Walpole

Eddy Wiseblatt

Joanna Bedard

Afternoon Sitting

Sheila Copps

Monarchist League Of Canada

Tom Christoff

George Sorger

United Disabled Consumers

L'association Canadienne-Française De L'ontario

Association Des Enseignantes Et Des Enseignants Franco-Ontariens

Barton Secondary School

École Secondaire Georges-P.-Vanier

Anthony Bratschitsch

Sam Shore

Danica Djukic

Evening Sitting

Conseil Des Directeurs Et Des Directrices Des Écoles Franco-Ontariennes Du Centre-Sud De L'ontario

Chris Cutler

Les Centres D'alphabétisation Du Sud De L'ontario

Roman March

Business Council For Fair Trade

Chinese Canadian Society Of Hamilton-Wentworth-Halton

Eileen Butson

Ron Vine

Susan Whyte

Fred Clarkson

Joseph Cassar

Ronald Bayne

Association Des Enseignantes Et Des Enseignants Franco-Ontariens

Helen Probert


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 NDP)
Malkowski. Gary (York East NDP)
Offer, Steven (Mississauga North L)
O'Neill, Yvonne (Ottawa Rideau L)
Wilson, Fred (Frontenac-Addington NDP)
Winninger, David (London South NDP)

Sutherland, Kimble (Oxford NDP) for Mr Bisson

Manikel, Tannis

Kaye, Philip, Research Officer, Legislative Research Office

The committee met at 1014 at the Woodland Cultural Centre, Brantford.

The Chair: Good morning. My name is Tony Silipo. I am the Chair of the select committee on Ontario in Confederation. I want to welcome on behalf of the committee all the people here with us this morning, "here" being the Woodland Cultural Centre in Brantford. We are happy to be in Brantford this morning as part of the series of hearings we have been holding across the province on Ontario in Confederation, trying to get the views of people from across the province on the future of the country and the future of our province within that country.

We have a number of speakers to hear from this morning. In addition to the printed list, we have a number of other people who have indicated an interest in speaking to us. In the usual fashion we have adopted as we go along, we are going to ask people to try to keep their comments to within 10 minutes if they are speaking as individuals and within 20 minutes if they are speaking for organizations or groups; that will allow us time to fit in as many of the speakers as we possibly can.

I am going to introduce the members of the committee, but before I do I want to turn to Reg Henry, who is one of the native elders. Of course, the centre is a cultural centre of the Six Nations; we are happy for that reason as well to be here. Reg Henry is going to say a few words by way of beginning.

Mr Henry: [Remarks in native language].

The Chair: Thank you very much.

This committee is, of course, an all-party committee made up of representatives from the three political parties which are represented at Queen's Park. I would like to introduce the members of the committee. From the NDP caucus, in addition to myself there is Gary Malkowski; Gilles Bisson, the Vice-Chair of the committee, will be joining us shortly; Marilyn Churley; Brad Ward joins us this morning, who is also the local member; and Ellen MacKinnon. From the Liberal caucus we have Charles Beer, Yvonne O'Neill, Steven Offer; from the Conservative caucus, Ted Arnott.

Mr B. Ward: Mr Chair, before we start proceedings, on behalf of the people of Brantford and the surrounding area I would like to welcome the committee to our fine community. We are very thankful that you allowed the people of Brantford and the surrounding area to express their opinions on Ontario's role in the future of Canada, very thankful that you selected Brantford as one of the many stops in your busy schedule.

The Chair: I would also like to ask Joanna Bedard from the Woodland Cultural Centre to say a few words to us.

Ms Bedard: I would like to say good morning to everybody and advise them that the centre is located on the territory of the Six Nations of the Grand. I would like you to feel very welcome here on Iroquoian first nations territory. We hope your meetings will be successful.

Mr Henry in his address offered thanksgiving for all the beautiful things the Creator has provided to our country and has asked the blessing of the Creator on our proceedings and that we will become of one mind and be able to speak in unity. On behalf of all of the nations that support this centre -- there are six of them -- I would like to bid you welcome. Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you very much.


The Chair: We will proceed now with our first speaker. I call John Johnson to come forward.

Mr Johnson: Mr Chairman and members of the committee, I appreciate greatly the opportunity of appearing before you. I realize that as an individual the time I have is very limited. I do have a script. It takes me 10 minutes.

This select committee is performing an invaluable service by enabling Canadians to take their first steps along the road to defining their own destiny.

My remarks and suggestions are divided into three general areas: the new Canadian Constitution, our political processes and the financing of government operations. At the outset, I must point out that I am a layman with no particular expertise in any of these areas. However, I have certain feelings and beliefs that come from a lifetime here in Ontario.

First, the new Canadian Constitution: In 1980-81, when the Constitution of Canada was repatriated and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms added, political and bureaucratic élites made the critical tradeoffs and decisions. The people of Canada were excluded from the process. Throughout the Meech Lake accord fiasco of 1990, citizens were kept even more in the dark while a dozen or so men met in secret to roll the dice on Canada's future.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines "constitution" as "a body of fundamental principles according to which a nation is constituted and governed." One advantage of the very public failure of the Meech Lake accord is that Canadians are now determined not to be excluded from the development of, and the opportunity to give final ratification to, the principles which govern and constitute this nation.


I have some suggestions:

1. That a national constitutional convention be convened for the sole purpose of drafting a new Canadian Constitution. The convention would consider the report of this select committee and the reports and briefs of other committees and commissions presently meeting across Canada. It would also study other materials it considers relevant to prepare a new Canadian Constitution.

This new Canadian Constitution would be made official by a direct referendum. A double simple majority would ensure that the needs and wishes of Canadians in all regions of the country had been addressed, that is, a simple majority vote of the electorate of Canada including approval by a simple majority vote of the electorate in at least two thirds of the provinces and territories.

Should the new Constitution not pass this test, it would be sent back to the national constitutional convention for revision. The people must always have the right and the power to say: "It's not good enough yet. Redraft it and resubmit it to us for our consideration."

2. That future amendments to the Constitution will not become law unless and until they have been approved by direct referendum with the double simple majority provision outlined before.

3. That a provision be enshrined in the Constitution whereby the people have the right to initiate amendments to their Constitution by referendum. This would protect Canadians from unwise decisions by judges and ensure that the will of the people is sovereign.

4. That if the Charter of Rights is maintained, the "notwithstanding" clause be deleted. This would prevent governments from skirting constitutional provisions protecting the rights of people.

5. That there be provisions in the Constitution which will ensure that all governments and all government agencies are subject to the rule of law, as are its citizens, and are not above it.

6. That the principles of a free and democratic society and the unrestricted freedom of Canadians to move, live and work anywhere in Canada are included in the Constitution.

7. That provisions be enshrined whereby there will be an elected Senate with equal representation from each of the provinces and territories and that its effectiveness will be ensured by a clear delineation of its powers and duties vis-à-vis the House of Commons.

8. That in the division of powers between the federal government and the provinces the federal government will exercise strong leadership in those areas that are truly national in scope -- such as defence, coast guard, external affairs, criminal justice, finance, environment, immigration, international trade and commerce, customs, transcontinental communications and energy -- and that the federal government will abandon its right to interfere in areas of provincial jurisdiction through the use of borrowing and spending powers.

9. That the provinces are responsible for everything for their residents except for the federal functions outlined above. Each province will have its own Constitution, Parliament, courts, medical systems, schools, welfare and other services, distinctiveness, culture and language or languages.

10. Ensure that each province is naturally distinct and allowed to develop in its own way with complete freedom of movement, languages and culture between provinces.

11. That there is enshrined the right and the process for the peoples of the Yukon and Northwest Territories to join the other provinces with full provincial powers when the people of each of those territories, individually, deem they are ready to do so and wish to do so.

12. That the rights and privileges of native peoples to self-government with powers and duties similar to those of the provinces if the native peoples so desire be enshrined.

The political process: Recent events at the federal level -- Meech Lake, Oka, the Senate "caper," and the railroading of the goods and services tax -- have brought the actions of politicians, political parties and the political process into disrepute.

The democratic ideal of government of the people, by the people and for the people has been torn from our grasp. We have become a part-time democracy. Although electors are permitted to cast their ballots, the resulting governments, sometimes formed with less than half of the popular vote, ride roughshod over the wishes of the electorate for the next four or five years. This arrogance stems from a lack of checks and balances in our system. The party leaders and the party whip ensure blind subservience by the members of their caucus to the party line.

Here are some suggestions:

1. Ensure that all new major legislative initiatives at both the provincial and federal levels are submitted to the appropriate peoples for referendum. Such matters as free trade, abortion, capital punishment, budgets, the GST and no-fault insurance would require a referendum. Failure to pass would mean the proposed legislation could not be enacted. It would not mean the defeat of the government.

2. Ensure that all votes in the Senate, the House of Commons and the provincial legislatures are free votes. In each case, the elected representative would vote in accordance with the wishes of his or her constituents.

Here I have a couple of notes:

1. The duty of the elected members to those who elect them supersedes their obligations to their political parties.

2. The defeat of a government measure does not automatically mean the defeat of the government. The defeat of a government motion would be followed by a motion of non-confidence, the passage of which would require either the resignation of the government or dissolution for an election.

3. Amend the oath of office sworn by members of Parliament such that they swear or affirm allegiance to their constituents as well as to the Queen.

4. Ensure there is provision for the recall of any representative who grossly neglects the directions of his or her constituents.

Finally, the financing of government operations: Premier Bob Rae, in his open letter at the beginning of the public discussion paper Changing for the Better, requests that each of us ask ourselves: What do we share as Ontarians and Canadians?

It is my opinion that one thing we share as Ontarians and Canadians is an unconscionable tax burden placed on us by all three levels of government, federal, provincial and municipal. Government spending in Canada at all three levels rose from $3 billion in 1947 to about $300 billion in 1990, a 100-fold increase. During the same period of time, the average industrial aggregate wage rose from about $3,000 to $22,000, a seven and a half-fold increase.

In 1947 tax freedom day was 31 March. In 1990 it was 7 July. With the imposition of the GST it is now closer to the middle of July.

The result of this orgy of government spending has not just been a calamitous decrease in Canadians' discretionary income; it has resulted in a huge, permanent and extremely costly government workforce.

In Switzerland, there are 50 citizens for each public servant. In Canada, there are just 10. The situation is even more alarming than these figures indicate. In Canada, for each government employee there are just four persons employed in the private sector.

United States Senator William Borah is reputed to have said, ``The marvel of all history is the patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments."

The unnecessary burden laid upon Canadian taxpayers by the federal government stems --

The Chair: Mr Johnson, if you would sum up, please. I am sorry. I did not want to cut you off in the middle of your sentence, but if you would just sum up at the end, that would be fine.


Mr Johnson: Sorry to overrun my time: just an indication -- I think you could see I was heading towards it -- that we are, in my opinion, very much overtaxed by all three levels of government, all three often working individually, seemingly without knowledge of what is happening at other levels.

I think that would be it. Thank you very much.

The Chair: Thank you very much for your presentation.

Interjection: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: Could I suggest that we not smoke in this auditorium during the hearings this morning?

The Chair: We will obviously respect the fact that we are not in our own building. If people could take what has been suggested as a request and perhaps try to accommodate that as best we can, I think it would be helpful for all of us.


The Chair: Tom Klicek from the Conseil des écoles séparées catholiques romaines du district de Haldimand-Norfolk.

M. Klicek : Nous désirons vous remercier d'être venus à Brantford afin de nous rencontrer et de nous entendre chez nous. Des mercis vont également à tous ceux qui nous ont communiqué l'existence de ce comité et qui ont facilité notre participation à cette audience publique. Enfin, veuillez transmettre à notre honorable premier ministre, Bob Rae, ainsi qu'à tous les députés ontariens des remerciements très sincères pour avoir mis sur pied ce comité spécial sur le rôle de l'Ontario au sein de la Confédération.

En ce moment, je représente la section de langue française du Conseil des écoles séparées catholiques romaines de Haldimand-Norfolk. À sa réunion du 11 février 1991, il a été proposé par moi-même, appuyé de Paul Serruys, que Denyse Loison vienne vous présenter ce modeste mémoire au nom de notre section de langue française. Mme Loison a mal à la gorge maintenant et elle m'a demande de vous présenter ce mémoire à sa place. Je suis très honoré de pouvoir faire ça.

La communauté francophone de notre région est peu nombreuse, mais elle est dynamique et vibrante. Nous sommes fiers de nos succès et nous avons à coeur d'offrir à nos jeunes catholiques franco-ontariens la meilleure éducation possible en langue française d'abord, puis la maîtrise de l'anglais, afin d'en faire des citoyens dignes de notre province et de notre pays bilingue. Nous aimerions vous entretenir longuement des efforts concertés de nos ancêtres afin d'obtenir les établissements scolaires et la gestion de ces mêmes établissements pour le plus grand bien de nos élèves catholiques de langue française. Nous aimerions aussi souligner l'apport non seulement de tous les Ontariens, mais aussi de tous les Canadiens qui nous respectent et qui nous assurent leur collaboration dans la poursuite de nos droits.

Malheureusement, nous ne sommes pas ici dans ce but aujourd'hui. Tout de même, si nous sommes ici aujourd'hui, si nous pouvons communiquer en français, c'est grâce au labeur acharné de nos ardents devanciers dont nous sommes, et nous le répétons, très fiers.

Le Canada est à une étape difficile mais déterminante face à son avenir. L'échec du Lac Meech, les disparités régionales et sociales, la crise d'Oka, le traitement réservé aux premières nations, l'aliénation de l'Ouest et le mouvement souverainiste au Québec remettent en question l'existence même de notre pays, le Canada.

Nous croyons que l'Ontario peut et doit jouer un rôle prépondérant, d'abord, dans le rapprochement des différentes régions du pays. En effet, basée sur sa puissance économique et sa force d'attraction industrielle, la province a moins de demandes fondamentales, de changements à formuler et peut ainsi jouer un rôle de médiateur dans le rapprochement des différentes communautés.

À cause de la présence du demi-million de francophones, de nombreux groupes multiculturels et d'une présence importante des premières nations, l'Ontario est donc bien placé pour signaler l'importance de maintenir des liens étroits et fructueux entre les différents éléments de sa communauté.

Quant à nous, nous reconnaissons les efforts que le gouvernement de l'Ontario et notre communauté ont investis pour que les francophones d'ici se sentent partie prenante et participante au dynamisme de notre province.

Nous demandons que ces efforts soient poursuivis et intensifiés en favorisant l'établissement de conseils scolaires catholiques de langue française ; en répondant dans les plus brefs délais aux demandes des collectifs du Nord et du Sud afin d'assurer la mise sur pied de collèges de langue française qui répondront aux besoins des diverses communautés francophones du Nord et du Sud ; en s'assurant que les étudiants de langue française pourront poursuivre leurs études universitaires dans les cours de leur choix en français tant en Ontario qu'ailleurs au pays, tel qu'il se produit présentement grâce aux ententes conclues avec le Québec en pharmacie et en art dentaire etc. Il faut prévoir le nombre de places requises par les besoins de notre population de langue française.

Il faudra prévoir un réseau universitaire de langue française géré par les Franco-Ontariens ; en déclarant que les communautés francophones, anglophones et autochtones ont égalité et statut en Ontario ; en déclarant l'Ontario bilingue -- il faudra prévoir le niveau de bilinguisme des candidats qui occuperont les postes déclarés bilingues. Toute commission qui s'intéresse à la population en général doit être représentative de la population franco-ontarienne et comprendre 5% de Franco-Ontariens. Il faut éviter de passer son temps à étudier la population franco-ontarienne, qui est surétudiée, et passer à l'action afin d'éviter que les francophones ontariens soient obligés de faire appel à la justice pour revendiquer leurs droits : en faisant la promotion de la dualité linguistique de la province ; en préconisant l'utilisation des manuels d'histoire du Canada qui présentent toute la réalité -- pas seulement ce qui l'affaire d'une communauté linguistique -- afin de renseigner objectivement notre jeunesse qui pourra ensuite porter un jugement réaliste sur les faits présentés. Il faudrait subventionner la rédaction de tels manuels adaptés aux divers niveaux de tous les cycles.

En réponse au document de consultation, Changement et renouveau, nous ajoutons les commentaires suivants.

Vis-à-vis du Canada ; tout amendement à la Loi constitutionnelle de 1982 doit enchâsser les principes suivants : droits religieux acquis, article 93(1) de la Loi constitutionnelle de 1867 ; articles 29 et 15 de la Charte canadienne des droits et libertés de 1982 ; par la suite des droits provinciaux qui nous ont été accordés après la lutte acharnée -- Loi 30, etc ; droits linguistiques -- maintien du bilinguisme institutionnel, article 23 de la Charte ; droits sociaux -- Loi de 1986 sur les services en français ; droits économiques -- financement équitable pour répondre à ces droits.

L'unité du pays ne doit pas devenir un ballon politique dont les divers partis se servent pour faire avancer leur ambition partisane.


Avant de rejeter d'emblée toutes les revendications du Québec, il faut les étudier à fond afin d'en découvrir les avantages et les inconvénients non seulement pour le Québec, mais pour chacune des autres provinces et pour l'ensemble du pays. Il y a sûrement des avantages d'assurer plus d'autonomie aux provinces dans certains domaines et en libérer le fédéral. Nous considérons que la récente décision au sujet d'émigration est un geste positif à l'égard du Québec qui n'enlève rien au reste du Canada mais qui aide réellement le Québec.

Si nous permettons que le Québec se sépare du Canada, qu'arrivera-t-il au reste du Canada ? Les Maritimes voudront-elles leur indépendance ? L'Ouest ? Et nous en Ontario, verrons-nous une division entre le Nord et le Sud ? Le Nord, trouvera-t-il avantageux de se joindre au Québec ? Jusqu'où ira l'effritement ? Quelle sera l'influence de cet effritement sur l'économie canadienne ? Pensons sérieusement aux avantages que les pays d'Europe recherchent en se regroupant sur le plan économique avant de nous lancer dans ce mouvement d'indépendance.

Vis-à-vis du Québec : pour bien comprendre la position indépendantiste du Québec, il faut se poser la bonne question et la voici : pourquoi les Québécois veulent-ils se séparer du reste de notre beau pays ?

Tentons d'y voir clair. Tout comme certains Québécois ne connaissent pas l'Ontario, y compris sa population francophone, plusieurs Ontariens de langue anglaise connaissent très mal le Québec. Il leur est donc très difficile, même impossible de s'apprécier mutuellement. Cette ignorance les empêche de connaître les services offerts aux deux minorités. Il y aurait avantage à ce que l'Ontario établisse un programme pour améliorer les relations Ontario-Québec, par exemple, pour que les Anglo-Québécois rencontrent les Anglo-Ontariens et que les Franco-Ontariens rencontrent les Québécois de la langue française. Ce geste pourrait être répété à l'échelle du pays.

Les médias peuvent jouer un grand rôle dans l'éducation populaire. Au lieu de monter en épingle les nombreux conflits, ils devraient être encouragés à bien renseigner les gens sur tout ce qui se fait et ce qui existe afin de rendre justice aux trois communautés nationales qui ont bâti le Canada, soit les communautés autochtones, francophone et anglophone.

Les groupes qui ont le souci de promouvoir la discorde entre ces communautés ne devraient pas recevoir de subventions gouvernementales. Tenant compte de sa situation minoritaire, le Québec se sent menacé linguistiquement, culturellement et économiquement à l'intérieur du Canada et surtout au sein de l'Amérique, et avec raison. Dans une démocratie, on est souvent porté à croire que tout doit être décidé par la majorité en fonction de la majorité. Toutefois, il ne faut pas oublier qu'une démocratie qui se respecte doit traiter équitablement ses minorités. En traitant équitablement ses minorités et en encourageant les autres provinces à faire de même, l'Ontario créera un climat de confiance chez tous ceux qui font partie des minorités y compris les Québécois.

Le Québec est reconnu comme étant dans les faits une société distincte. Cela n'enlève rien à l'Ontario que ce fait soit reconnu et que certains pouvoirs distincts soient rapatriés au Québec.

Vis-à-vis des premières nations : les premières nations constituent des sociétés distinctes et devraient jouir d'un degré d'autonomie leur permettant de gérer leur présent et déterminer leur avenir.

Conclusion : à ce moment critique de l'histoire de notre pays, notre gouvernement ontarien doit assumer un rôle de leadership dans la définition de notre pays. Il se doit de connaître les aspirations des trois communautés nationales qui ont bâti le Canada, soit les communautés autochtones, francophone et anglophone. Il doit valoriser l'apport des générations successives de néo-Canadiens au développement de l'une ou l'autre de ces trois communautés. Il doit reconnaître un statut égal à chacune des trois communautés nationales suite au rôle historique et honorable que chacune à joué. Il doit se rappeler le rôle prépondérant de la communauté francophone dans la découverte et le développement de l'Ontario, rôle qui remonte à plus de trois siècles. En assurant une égalité de chance à ses propres communautés, l'Ontario pourra donner le ton ou l'exemple au sein de la Confédération.


The Chair: Could I call next Peter Leibovitch.

Mr Leibovitch: First, I worked on this in the last 24 hours, including last night and this morning, and I have not had a chance to make copies. I could give copies to the committee within 48 hours. I will read from my brief and you can tell me when my time is up.

Brothers and sisters, I welcome this opportunity to share some thoughts with the select committee on Ontario in Confederation. I believe the initiative represented by your tour of hearings around the province is one of the most important steps taken by Ontario's new government, and I commend you for the work you are undertaking.

I come before you wearing many hats. I am an industrial worker, president of an important local union with the United Steelworkers of America, president of the Simcoe District Labour Council, a political activist for as far back as I can remember, an English-speaking native of Quebec of European parentage, and a desperately concerned citizen of a country I love very much.


In recent months, I and thousands of other steelworkers went through a lengthy and exhausting strike with a major employer in a deeply troubled industry. Given the well-known difficulties in Canadian steelmaking and the new looming disaster of a three-way free trade agreement embracing Mexico, union activists like myself have more than enough to keep us occupied on behalf of the members we are privileged to serve. But union activism in the final analysis is only a particularly intense form of citizenship. Our work for the wellbeing of those we represent in the workplace is never divorced from the larger community or from its troubles, and that is why I am here before you.

In many ways the union I belong to, the steelworkers, of which I am a proud member, is a microcosm of Canada, and participation in both the bargaining and policy development of my union has been an education about Canada. Like Canada, my union as an international union is bonded closely to its American section; like Canada, the internal administration of the steelworkers in Canada is very decentralized. Its day-to-day affairs are administered primarily through three regionally based districts, each headed by elected directors. The national director co-ordinates the union's technical services across all the districts, in a fashion analogous to federal equalization payments for the maintenance of standardized services. Like Canada, in other words, administrative authority is spread among different people at different levels; like Canada, this structure has allowed local and regional identities a great deal of scope.

Our Quebec membership, numbering currently over 50,000, or close to one third of our Canadian membership, has, not surprisingly, evolved a unique and feisty identity within the larger structure, and three of our four elected directors are francophone, no small tribute to the political strength of the French factor in the steelworkers union.

Let me make one last point about our union structure, this time an economic point. In spite of our name, only a minority of our total membership is employed in basic steelmaking. We have tens of thousands of miners, all sorts of workers in small manufacturing and an increasingly large portion of our membership in services, including over 12,000 security guards and workers in nursing homes, restaurants and hotels. The point I am highlighting is that our union, unlike any other in Canada, is deeply interconnected with all three economic sectors: primary resources, secondary manufacturing and tertiary services. We are not only a stuctural echo of Canada's form; we are very much an image of its economic content as well.

I have drawn this picture to put my remarks in context. Does the close parallel of the life of my union with that of Canada grant us any special insight into the state of the nation? Not particularly, I suppose, but it certainly has meant that the virtues of tolerance, respect for pluralism, for the other person's language and background, have had to become part of the practical modus operandi of the union, rather than simply abstractions we trot out for special occasions. We still have a very long way to go. We know that. I am sure there is plenty of more or less submerged intolerance in our ranks, but many of us, particularly in the Stelco chain, have had the experience of working closely at the bargaining table and on picket lines with our Quebec brothers and sisters. Many of us have worked with Québécois workers on resolutions and policy committees. We have seen the particular space carved out within the steelworkers by our Quebec members as something very positive and enriching to the union's life as a whole; in turn, our Quebec section has to date shown little interest in separating out of the union as a whole.

For these reasons and others, many of the elected leaders of the steelworkers in English Canada, myself included, were very supportive of the Meech Lake accord. As you know, that support gradually became a minority position within the labour movement and within much of the progressive community, not to mention in much of English Canada at large, although frequently for less than savoury reasons.

I share some of the same concerns often expressed by others about the accord's ambivalent impact on or simple neglect of issues of importance to women and aboriginal groups, about the apparent impact on federal operating powers and the questionable devolution to the provinces of decisions on judicial appointments. But let me be frank. I also really felt that much of the anti-Meech hysteria was misplaced at best and malicious at worst. I subscribe to the view which was articulated well by then opposition leader Bob Rae and by Richard Allen, that the Meech agreement had to be understood in historical context, that the 1987 round of constitutional talks had to be Quebec's round after the debacle of 1980, and that the Trudeau government had badly bungled its response to the 1980 referendum and reparations were therefore urgent and that Meech itself could never be regarded as a closed case; by that I mean that its flaws were themselves guarantees that constitutional debate would continue on into the future and politicians would have to respond to the political mobilizations around its bad points and omissions.

My own view was that opportunities to repair the flaws in the Meech Lake accord were far more likely to come around again in the short term than were any opportunities to repair the damage done if Quebec were excluded once again. It was a matter of making hard choices and assessing risks. I do not deny the passions and arguments on all sides. My own humble view of these events of last spring and summer is simply that Canada made one big, tragic collective mistake.

But Canada remains one of the most important experiments in different groups living together over a vast geographical expanse that one can imagine. With our relatively small population, relatively high standard of living, relatively rich resource base -- well, let's just say that if this country cannot work, prospects cannot be bright for anyone else.

But the Canadian federation of the 1990s and the 21st century is very hard to describe. Where we can go from here and what role Ontario can play in a new Canada are beyond my prescriptive powers. But it is important that we err on the side of generosity in dealing with Quebec, however appalled we might feel about the apparent extremism embodied in such things as the Allaire report or the more glassy-eyed expressions of insular nationalism. Generosity does not mean submission; it means active, intelligent engagement with the issues thrown up by Quebec's national aspirations. I believe Canadians were badly misled over the years by the Trudeau caricature of Quebec nationalism and its implications. It was always more complex and more subtle, even psychological, than was painted in the federalist-good-guys and nationalist-bad-guys picture of Trudeau.

Trudeau's particular vision of a federally integrated French Canada, underwritten by statutory bilingualism, was bound to make Quebec look ungrateful and insensitive once a different strain of nationalism gained ascendancy, a strain that looked more logically to Quebec's own physical space as its cultural ground than from sea to shining sea. By spending years arguing for and against Trudeau's particular vision, English Canada became ill equipped, and in some ways not even inclined, to engage intellectually and politically with the deeper reality emerging in Quebec, and we also simply lost a lot of valuable time.

But blaming Trudeau, while always fun and justified, is almost irrelevant if it were not for his occasional and unhelpful Nixon-like reappearances on the national stage. English Canada, like much of the western world and including the democratic labour movement, has long harboured a prudent and healthy scepticism of virulent forms of nationalism, a caution bred of bitter historical experiences. But too often even that cautious scepticism tends to paint all shades of nationalism with one colour, and that in turn can easily turn into the kind of anti-nationalism which shares the same traits of intolerance it claims to find in its opposite.

Let me put it differently. You cannot tell me that much of the anti-Quebec sentiment growing in English Canada has anything to do with holding principled, philosophical positions opposed to nationalism itself.

But when I turn my question back on myself, answers again seem elusive. Just how do we engage intelligently here in Ontario with the complexity and the momentum of Quebec's national drive without falling victim to caricatures, while at the same time maintaining our prudence while working the whole of Confederation together in some renovated form?

For ordinary Canadians like me, and perhaps especially for trade unionists, we can restart at the level of civil society. The phrase "civil society" has regained currency in the wake of the 1989 upheavals in eastern Europe. It refers to all those associations and activities of free individuals that exist autonomously, if not exactly independent of the state or other megastructures like multinational corporations. In our context, the term refers to labour unions, churches, volunteer organizations, political parties, single-issue movements and all manner of artistic and cultural activities.


My sense is that linkage between English Canada and Quebec at the level of civil society has suffered grievously because of the constitutional crisis. All sorts of linkages exist formally or on paper, but the kind of volunteeristic activism that civil society requires has been declining in Canada, not growing; and the constitutional crisis, as I said, has worsened matters if only because of its sheer, endless unpleasantness over what they interpret as Quebec's ingratitude for what Trudeau-style federalism attempted to accomplish. They find it difficult, almost impossible, to make the leap of empathy, that is, to try and view things from the Québécois side, from which the Trudeau vision always appeared as only one particular option for French-Canadian aspirations, not as the very glue of an all-accommodating Confederation.

For many of us in the labour movement, the sovereignism of our Quebec unions' brothers and sisters was puzzling, to say the least. We proudly linked arms with them in many a struggle against unfair employers or for expanded union rights and better working conditions, but these were all expressions of collective struggle for collective rights we could identify with: the right to full employment, a safe workplace or an adequate social insurance regime, all of which speak to the material and economic wellbeing of workers -- the very purpose of the labour movement, or so we assumed. It was always difficult, and still is, for English Canadian unionists to appreciate, let alone identify with, the power which the collective right of language and culture holds for ordinary Quebec workers.

The history of industrial relations in Quebec is a brutal microcosm of the more general history of a conquered nation in subordination to another. The memory of English-speaking bosses over French-speaking workforces has bequeathed a special passion and prickly militancy to the activism of Quebec labour, qualities that have often been envied by us in English Canada even while we were perplexed about their meaning. The historical memory is also what fuels the commitment of both of Quebec's otherwise rival labour federations to play a front-line role in a new sovereign Quebec. But it seems to me that this is where English-Canadian workers can play a role, where a particular and very important part of civil society can foster understanding and co-operation, and where a union like my own, implicated as it is in all sections of the economy, must try to find ways to build new alliances.

Let me back up. As I said earlier, Quebec nationalism is a complex phenomenon, not a simple one. For all the attention focused on language and culture, the nationalism pursued by the Quebec labour movement and by the progressive or social democratic wing of the Parti québécois has always coupled self-determination with the kinds of collective social rights and entitlements that are the raison d'être of labour everywhere. But throughout Canada, those rights and entitlements are under attack by the forces of corporate power, aided and abetted by a harrowing recession. What I am suggesting in one sense is very simple but not very simplistic. I am suggesting, at least as an example to other sectors in civil society, that the labour movement outside Quebec line up foursquare behind the progressive wing of Quebec nationalism. I do not mean playing a partisan role in accelerating a political division of Quebec from Canada; I mean redoubling our efforts to work together, to share information, to build working groups on everything from occupational health and safety to worker controlled investment funds; I mean making an extraordinary effort to focus on these policy areas around economic and material collective rights that contribute to humanizing our social life.

If we can somehow, by an act of will, stop fretting over what form Quebec sovereignty will take within an altered federation, if we can concentrate our energies instead on the content of our social life together, by aiding those who, whatever their views about the federal state, seek to build a regime of social justice in Quebec, we could be making the most important contribution of all. Ordinary citizens are unlikely to do any better than the legions of lawyers, constitutional experts, charismatic saviours and parochial provincial premiers have done so far in agreeing on the constitutional form Canada must take, but ordinary citizens cannot absent themselves from engaging in the struggle to fill out that form with a socially responsive content. That struggle will take different forms and address different priorities within the different sectors of civil society.

Labour naturally focuses on questions of workplace rights and economic wellbeing. Cultural groups, church organizations and all others will have to connect and reconnect in the areas of special concern, but I am convinced that this kind of reaching out by ordinary people through the vehicles of community volunteerism is profoundly necessary. Maybe, just possibly, we will help in small ways to forestall a traumatic rupture within our country. Maybe, just possibly, it will give the ordinary people of Quebec a new perspective on what might be possible with a renovated confederation. Maybe, just maybe, it will give some people some reason to buy back into the Canadian dream.

Lest I sound a bit too Utopian, let me end on a note of hard reality. The subpolitical links that I am suggesting as being vitally needed to restore co-operation within Confederation are dependent, of course, on a healthy civil society. But as I commented before, active volunteerism is not noticeably increasing in Canada, at least as far as I can see, and with labour, women's, cultural and other groups under siege by hostile employers, drastic funding cutbacks, a debilitating free trade agreement and the darker pathologies of a more violent society, little energy is sometimes left to even consider the rededication I suggest is necessary.

The problem is that Canada itself, after years of economic subservience to American capital, culminating in the systematic dismantling of much that we might call national, from rail services to the CBC, after years of missed opportunities to build a high value added independent economy with real mechanisms for worker involvement and participation, after years of subservience to someone else's foreign policy, the problem is that Canada itself sometimes seems like it has nothing left to buy into.

Little wonder people frequently bemoan the lack of a vigorous pan-Canadian nationalism. Well, I, for one, refuse to despair. This presentation itself is a small measure of the hope I feel that we can still build in the northern half of this continent a society that is equitable, sustainable, generous, tolerant and just. We simply need the will to do it.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Leibovitch. We have a bit of time if there are questions.

Mr Bisson: You said something at the very beginning which, quite frankly, I had never even thought about. I too come out of the steelworker organization. You talked about the structure by which regionalism in a sense is recognized, through the autonomy of the locals and then on to the districts and on to the international. I guess I am saying -- I am trying to find a way to say this -- that what is happening is that a lot of people are fighting against regionalism in the country, yet my own experience as a trade unionist tells me it works. How can we encourage the labour movement to work within society in order to get people to understand that possibly there is something to this?

Mr Leibovitch: I think our experience in the union and also the reality of the country is that Canada is actually a community of communities. Strikingly enough, you go from Newfoundland to Vancouver and you find many different kinds of cultural, economic and national feelings that are unique to those areas. The thing that keeps Canada together is the tolerance we have: Instead of forcing everybody into one melting pot as they have done in the States, we have allowed the regions and we have encouraged the regions to develop their own identity. That is what our strength is.

This is where I think Trudeau has done the greatest disservice to the country, trying to force a strong, centralized vision of a country which, in order to exist, needs that freedom to develop its own regional identities. The irony of it is that if you do not allow that to occur, then you have the reverse form, which Mulroney is doing, that by not allowing a healthy development of regions and keeping east-west communications alive, you are then allowing us to be open to that magnetic pull to the south. All the areas start getting pulled to the south and become more and more oriented towards the American economy, American culture and American ideology, which I think is very dangerous.

The Chair: I want to thank you for bringing that point forward.


The Chair: We will proceed next with John Peters from the Six Nations Council.

Mr Peters: Brothers and sisters, greetings. To all you Euro-Canadians, I say great welcome to our territory.

I am not going to spend any time on all this constant bickering between anglophone and saxophone, I mean francophone. On 2 and 3 February in this very room there was a large meeting; the title was Iroquois Nations. It is the second meeting of such. One took place between Christmas and New Year's Day down at Tyendinaga. It was certainly something new for us. It was a working relationship between the elected councils, the Indian Act councils, which I sat on, and the confederacy councils, the condoled chiefs and the true councils. Someone said that they were speaking of a marriage between the councils. I for one have no intention of getting in bed with anybody, but we must come forward with a working paper from the people.


What happened last summer at Kanesatake and Kahnawake -- I was supposed to be up in Ottawa today at 10:30 at the standing committee on a hearing. I was supposed to be a witness because I was in at Kanesatake, so I know what I am talking about, but I had some weekend guests and I asked them, "Why can't you speak for yourselves?"

On 11 July they appealed to us, not for men, not for guns, but for food; they had nothing to eat. I went down there armed with a legal document signed by Siddon, Bourassa and Ciaccia. It said, "Free access of food, clothing, medical supplies, Indian leaders, spiritual men." It took us 20 hours, 10 hours to get there and 10 hours to get in. The minute we went over the border into Quebec, they pulled us into a weigh station and impounded the trucks and the food. We took seven convoys down there. Each time we had one hell of a time to get in there, but each time we were successful.

The last time I went, they told me: "No one is going in. You cannot go in to Kanesatake unless you have a permanent address." Luckily I used to be a union leader, so I am used to getting slapped around. They had international observers from Europe and there was a tall, very nice-looking young blonde girl. I assumed she was from Sweden so I went and spoke to her. But she was from France. I asked her if she would interpret them for me. We went to the head man for the Quebec police and I told him, "I do not speak French," not fluently. I used to work for Montjoie, so I heard enough of it, but I told him: "In our language, this is what you say. [Remarks in native language] That is the right name for this place. Literally translated that means `where the council fire burns at Grand River.' Loosely translated, it means `headquarters.' This right here is the same as Ottawa for you boys."

All the Iroquois nations in North America, what we call Turtle Island, look not to myself, but to the condoled chiefs. I see a couple here today. This was headquarters, and I said: "Explain to this guy that this is our land and our people and I am going in. We are all going in." Much to my surprise, she explained it to him in French and he said, "Entrez, s'il vous plaît." So in we went. But then I stayed in there. I am not going to tell anybody about all the atrocities that went on in there, but I will tell you one thing: It is a good thing they did not privilege me to a gun, because some of the things I saw in there, I would have shot the sucker dead on the site, right there.

I have seen a young lady, a mother, bring a young Mohawk baby in a little cart up to the perimeter to see his father, and one of those soldiers urinated on that baby. I have seen that. If I had had a gun, I would have shot the sucker right on the site, but luckily you could not get at him. I am not going to go into all the atrocities. I am telling you that I was there and you can ask anybody. I put my name down. I filed a formal complaint that went back to the courts in Europe and I have to appear over there as a witness. I was to appear at 10:30 this morning in Ottawa, but this came at the same time, so Chief William went to Ottawa and I came here.

I will not dwell on that any longer on Kanesatake, but what is happening -- we had a meeting last night at the gym and we had a couple of federal revenuers there explaining the GST. They felt that they were treated very poorly and they were. So I attempted to explain to them: "What you are doing in reality is you are coming here tonight saying: `Here is how my great-grandfather ripped off your great-grandfather. I am going to rip you off in the same manner.' Do you agree?" What the Indian Act has done is disregarded totally all of our treaties, all of our privileges. We are the landlords here. We are not a visible minority. We are the landlords. This is our country which we agreed to share -- not for someone to become our political masters or us to become second-rate citizens, but to share.

Some of the condoled chiefs, I will not speak on the two-row wampum; that is their field, but what it states is there should be two vessels. The large vessel would be your ship, the small vessel would be ours and they run parallel. We do not tell you how to govern your people, nor do you tell us ours, but you have had your big feet in our canoe for so long now that we are getting pretty tired of rowing it like it is.

I will probably be cut off like the first gentlemen; them other guys talk as long as they want. When you leave here today, look at this grand building next door. There is quite a bit of media coverage on residential schools lately. There is the grandmother of them all right there, the Mohawk institute, better known as a mushhole. My wife spent eight years in that place and some of the atrocities that went on in that place would make you cry, but it still stands. A lot of people who were raised in there would wish to burn it down. There have been attempts to burn it down before.

Now I sit on elect councils, but I believe in the old way. I was the first councillor to ever refuse to pledge allegiance to the Queen. They used to send a bureaucrat down from Indian Affairs to swear us in. I refused to pledge allegiance to the Queen because it said right on the top and it was quite a legal-looking document. It had big red seals on it and your name printed on it and you signed beside that. For two years, you would serve the Queen. I made it very clear that it was not out of disrespect. I have met the Queen. I have sat with the Queen. She is a very charming lady. When she was here for the Mohawk chapel I was one of the honour guard that night. She is a very nice lady and it was no disrespect meant.

I was told, "You cannot sit on council if you do not pledge." I said, "I was elected by the people and I will serve the people and if the Queen comes and objects, then I will leave, but I am not leaving for some Palooka like you." Well, I am still there; he is gone now. I guess he offended his political master and he is gone.

What I want to say before we finish is what I touched on, how the Indian Act had total disregard for our treaties, our special privileges as the original people here, and now the GST has come along and they are saying to us, "Oh, we are going to give you a great break, all you" -- they call us "Indians." I am not from India. But they say, "We're going to give you a great break and we are going to stay consistent with the Indian Act and all purchases on reserves shall be exempt." Big hairy deal. You cannot buy a suit, a tie, a car, a stove, a bicycle -- a new one -- but I think they think we should go to the Salvation Army for our wardrobe. They are not going to deliver a jacket.

An old lady called me two weeks ago and almost made me cry. Her granddaughter got married in Hamilton. She went to buy a dress. Very limited income. She had to pay GST. She asked them to deliver it. They would not. She became angry and left. Consequently she did not go to her own granddaughter's wedding over the GST.

What I am saying is the Indian Act did the same thing to us, to our great-grandfathers when they said, "All the money you earn on reserve will be tax exempt." Big deal. Right now, for instance, 200 years later, we have 16,000 members at Six Nations, and of that there are not 300 who work on the reserve.

I have paid taxes all my life. I have paid in excess of $1,000 a week in tax. I am an iron worker. I have belonged to the iron workers for 37 years. I used to be a union representative, and that is the international union. We had to rely on the United States. When I first started here, it was 60 cents an hour and if you could not cut it they would tell you: "There are guys waiting at the gate. You better get hot. There are no coffee breaks around here."

What the GST has done now is said, "We will stay consistent with the Indian Act and we will rip you off the same way we ripped you off 200 years ago." But the thing is our great-grandfathers could not read or write English, so they had an excuse, but as representatives, what are we going to use for an excuse?

All we are looking is a legitimate means that we are exempt from GST. We are not exempt. We have tax-free status, not just on reserve. It says right in the thing, "surrendered lands." We never surrendered any of these lands. They ripped Joseph Brant off for them. We have a research department, one of the best in the world. He signed 999-year leases to set up a perpetual income for the Six Nations and they were all switched around as surrenders and then they passed the 1841 land agreement. I do not know who else has seen that, but what that says is any Indian lands in dispute shall fall under 1841 and shall be considered ceded.

Bingo, all of our lands were gone, but what it does say is "on reserve or surrendered lands." We never surrendered them, but they are gone and that is why I refuse to pay GST, especially here in Brantford or anyplace within the Grand River. The Haldimand deed says six miles on either side of the Grand from the mouth to the source. So it is ludicrous to pay GST here in Brantford. It is. But I guess that is enough time on that.

All I would like to say is there are some very wise leaders about, and there are some very unwise leaders about. I was labelled last summer a militant. First, I was labelled an alarmist, then a militant, then a warmonger by taking food. When we got down there one time, all they had to eat were about three jars of spaghetti sauce. No spaghetti; just sauce. Little kids had nothing to eat. Old people with diabetes were going into God damn comas because they could not get medicine. Everything was closed. There was no gas, was no food. They shut the hydro off, they shut the water off, they would not allow propane in there.

But in the paper you would see and on the media at night at suppertime you would see where large quantities of food went in from the Red Cross. You were allowed one handbag a person and they were allowing 10 persons. So that was 10 handbags for the whole of Kanesatake. But they did not tell that they had shut all the gas off and there was no way to cook it, such things as that.


As I said, today I wanted to go to Ottawa and truly intended to go, but Phil Monture, our research director, one of our counsellors, they are up there now. It started at 10:30. They asked if I would come here. One lady was in the House of Commons in Ottawa and she said, "I never heard anyone speak like you," she said. "I used to admire the old, tall, silent chiefs. I used to admire them so," and she even went like this. I said: "My dear, they're still home. They're sending ignorant suckers like me forth now to deal with, and they're going to put it on the table like it is."

I was accused of shooting from the hip because I have no notes. I was taught that we speak from here, your heart, and if you forget to bring that with you, you are in bad shape. Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Peters. I do not know if you would be willing to answer any questions if there are any.

Mr Peters: I would be only too happy.

Mr Offer: Thank you very much.

Mr Peters: I have sat with Steven in police negotiations.

Mr Offer: Yes, I know that.

The Chair: Oh, oh.

Mr Offer: There is no "oh, oh" about it. It was quite good actually, as a matter of fact.

Thank you for your presentation. Right now I guess there is a presentation going down in Ottawa and I guess you are well aware of some of the issues, of course, that they are going to be bringing forward.

There is something that has sort of been bothering me and I would like if you could give me your impression. Right now Quebec and the federal government are talking about a redistribution of powers. We do not know exactly what they are talking about, but there is something going on. I have heard, I think in some media reports, that maybe native affairs is on the table, that maybe they are going to be talking about responsibilities which are currently federal being looked after provincially and vice-versa.

Is this a concern by yourselves? Is this going to be something which is going to be raised? Is there some obligation on the part of provinces and the federal government -- I am putting aside self-government for a moment -- to at the very least inform and invite first nations in the event that these types of matters are on the table? I am just wondering if this is something which is of some concern or being discussed?

Mr Peters: Certainly. Who should be answering this is one of the condoled chiefs, because what has to be understood and what has to be -- and it has to be dealt with soon, because some of the leaders going around, because there is an election next July internationally for the position George Erasmus holds, are making some pretty heavy statements, protecting themselves by saying, "I shall not be held responsible for all the civil unrest and whatever," that undoubtedly will boil over again next summer, and I do not think it is going to be that late next summer.

If something is not done, and soon -- when I was in Kanesatake Mulroney made a speech and he said: "Boys, if you Mohawks will peacefully lay down your arms, we've now acquired the disputed lands. Lay down your arms. We'll negotiate immediately. We'll sign the title over tomorrow." But now they are saying, "No, use and benefit held as fee simple." We are not accepting it under use and benefit held fee simple. It is our land and it is coming back.

The scary part is a lot of these guys who say or profess to be great national leaders are actually politicians like you guys. What they are doing is saying, I guess, whatever they think will glean the most votes in the upcoming election, making statements like, "I warned you four years ago that the young people aren't going to sit idly by." It is not just the young people. I have been fighting all my life and I am going to continue to fight until I am done, and if it is tomorrow, I will be done. But the thing is, when you say, "Is there a concern?" what the federal government is doing -- I should not be saying this; it should be one of the condoled chiefs, but they negotiate nation to nation with the crown.

Thanks to the Sparrow case now they have reminded the federal government that you must honour the obligations of the crown. They put the club back in our hand. We do not have to grovel around on all fours any more. Legally we are back in a good bargaining position, but what must be understood, as the federal government keeps delegating everything to the provinces, we have no agreements, no treaties, anything with the provinces. So that is what causes all the trouble.

I read a thing in the back of Maclean's there, when I used to have time to read. It was under the cover and it said that Canada is inhabited by 20 million sheep and we do not even bleat. Any other country in the world would be in open revolt in the streets if things were going on that are going on here, but we do not even bleat. It is up to you boys if you want to bleat or not, but we are going to bleat; no two ways about it.

Hopefully there will be no need for any bloodshed or to become militant or, of all things, have to have AK-47s. Now we have to have antitank weapons. They announced right in the paper that the Quebec police were shopping for Leopard tanks and they were successful. They found them and they got them. That is in anticipation of running over us next spring or summer. So I guess they are already gearing up for next summer.

The things that are going on right today at Kahnawake, it is not done. Joseph Montour was the chief of police down there -- they call him the Peacekeeper -- for the last 20 years. I know this man. There is not a more honest man in the world and he was forced to kneel on his knees, him and one of his officers, and the Sûreté handcuffed him, took him and charged him for carrying weapons off-reserve.

We had a big Jay's Treaty conference in Cornwall and they were there. They were the security and everyone of them had a weapon. No one objected. They have gone to court numerous times and no one ever objected. But now because the Sûreté is in there and the RCMP, they are now trying to put the Kahnawake police out of business. They are saying, "You cannot." They charged him with carrying a firearm. This is true dictatorship, like the first gentleman spoke of. When any government can dictate that you have to speak French, or you as a Frenchman have to speak English, where does it say anything about our language? At Kahnawake, Mohawk is the first language and English is the second language.


I have fought long and hard -- not just me, a lot of people, especially this place right here -- to just get curriculum dollars, because our language is teetering on the brink of extinction. There is one of the true speakers right there, who opened this meeting, Reg Henry. He was no spring chicken, I will tell you, when he went back to school, because for him to teach or for us to access any money for curriculum books or whatever, he had to go to school to get a little certificate showing that he was fluent. Fluency to me and to us is this: not just teaching the language; you have to teach the language, the culture, the ceremonies, the tradition and, above all, have enough guts to teach it, because our teachers do not teach it. Right on our own reserve we have the most-populated. We have 56 of our own teachers. That is colonial teaching -- they are all Indian teachers. Quite some ago there was a body of people. They did not lobby; they became somewhat -- so apparent, I guess. It was changed that there shall be 20 minutes set aside twice a week for Indian language but it was never taught.

My grandmother spoke fluent Mohawk. She was 104 years old when she died and she was sitting there smoking a little clay pipe. She used to go every day and sit outside in the sun. It did not matter if it was the middle of January. She would go outside for 15 minutes, wrap up, 104 years old, and sit out in the sun and then come back in. I come from a large family and only one of my brothers can speak fluent Mohawk because he used to stay nights with grandma. My mother told her mother, "Don't teach these boys Mohawk because you'll just get them in trouble." They used to whip you at school for speaking Mohawk. If you were speaking Mohawk in the play yard, when you came back in the teacher would say: "Come on up here, John. You've been talking Mohawk again, eh?" and get out the strap and let you have it in front of everybody. There is a book out now that says, "You took my talk." You should read that some time.

I could go on all day on all the atrocities that have happened, but the thing of it is -- I said this at that meeting -- in 1924 they imposed this elect council on the Six Nations, which I am part of. I am there for one reason, to represent the people -- not all of the people, because a lot of our people are traditional. They are forbidden to vote. It is not a choice. It is the teaching that no way can they vote for Indian Act.

We have to start honouring one another, having some mutual respect, because next year -- it says, "In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue," so next year it will be 500 years, but beware. It makes reference to this, in our ancient teachings, of this time -- well, I am not going to tell you what it says, but I will say beware.

We have to be started. You guys, Mulroney, Bourassa, all of them, have to realize that we are not going to dry up and blow away. The thing with the land claims is they dare not pay one land claim. I have spent a lot of time with Joe Saunders, the head lawyer for the Assembly of First Nations, and he said, "John, the United States or Canada do not have enough money to pay you guys the interest they owe you, let alone the claims." If they settle one, the door is open. Then what happens? We are foolishly into a war now, we are into a recession, so we are going to have to wait until things heal up, then you can deal with us.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Peters. Just for the information of the members and the public, we do have a number of speakers still to hear from, so we will try our best to work our way through the list.


The Chair: Could I invite next the group of students from Pauline Johnson Collegiate -- James Thompson, Maurice Deblieck and Patrick Kelley. We need you to identify yourselves for the record, either as you speak or at the beginning, as you please.

Mr Thompson: My name is Jim Thompson. On behalf of the concerned youth of Ontario we would like to briefly address the matter of the future of Canada, for, as we are continually being reminded, we are the citizens of the future and as such we should take more part in the process of building our new country. It is for this reason that I feel honoured and privileged to partake in these crucial proceedings.

Mr Chairman, committee members and fellow citizens, we are here to discuss an extremely important issue, that of the future of my homeland, Canada. There is little time for political rhetoric or long speeches, so I will state my feelings frankly.

Canada as we now know it is falling apart. Without drastic changes, we as a country may find ourselves with no future to look forward to. My Canada's future is one of progress and prosperity. It is a future filled with peace, harmony, a place where others may come and feel welcome, welcome to live as they want to live. But, and this is the foundation of my Canada's future, it is a nation whose citizens are willing to give up a small part of themselves to ensure that their country remains unified and strong, citizens who are dedicated to ensuring that the freedoms of everyone, everybody in Canada, are preserved, not only their own culture but everybody's. It is a future where we throw away our racism and petty differences and work towards a common goal.

Therefore, it is a population dedicated to preserving Canada. Here we are addressing the question of loyalty. I do not wish to draw comparisons to our southerly neighbours, but I would like to point out that we can learn from them. America does not have the problems which we find ourselves presently in. They know who they are, where they are going and, most important, who their allegiance is to. They are Americans and they are proud of it.

Canada is a mosaic of people whose cultures are unique, but they combine these unique heritages to form what we call Canada. This is a noble idea in theory, but in practice I believe we have tried to apply it too precisely and too extensively, for in promoting individuality we have begun to lose the sight of our combined image. We have become radically separate peoples living within a common border, with nothing to unite us. I do not promote the total destruction of our mosaic policy, for this is the one fact that makes Canada unique. However, what I do propose is a dampening of this individuality, as it is progressively destroying us.

I feel the solution to our problems most definitely entails a change in thinking of all Canadians, but perhaps it will also entail a change in the geographical makeup of what is today Canada. As everyone knows, Quebec is threatening to separate. Already it feels itself a separate identity, just a small step away from independence. They have realized, perhaps before the rest of us, that the present Canada is not working and they have taken steps to counter this. I personally feel they have gone about this in exactly the wrong way. They have retreated inwards, addressing themselves, not the whole of Canada. As we are seeing, this leads to a split.

A successful Canada is everybody pulling together in the same direction under a unified government. Quebec is demanding powers which will separate it from the rest of Canada, namely, control over the environment, language and education. This is above and beyond those powers which they have already achieved. Decentralized government is not progress; it is a step backwards. While Europe and other areas in the world are moving forward towards unification, Canada is stepping back 200 years.

In short, I feel that Quebec must be strongly and completely united with the rest of the provinces in the future or it must go its own way, and quickly, before it causes further damage to what we know as Canada. The separation must be complete, with no strings whatsoever attached, as sovereignty-association implies. If Quebec does not feel it can stand on its own two feet, then why, I ask, is it moving forward towards separation at all? In terms of Canada, it must be all or nothing. We have no room in Canada for people who take the easy way out. We are a country defined by its dedication to working together, surpassing all obstacles. To accept separatists in even the most minor way, is to accept those who are destroying Canada and what it stands for.


However, the day Quebec separates will be a tragic day for Canada and one which I hope never comes. Presently, my Canada encompasses over six million square kilometres and 25 million of the world's best citizens. It includes the Yukon, Northwest Territories, British Columbia, Prince Edward Island and all those provinces in between. Each is important and essential to Canada, but not one more so than the others.

I would like my children to grow up in a Canada which is strong. If that future excludes parts of what is today Canada, then that is the starkness of reality. It is a harsh attitude, I realize, but it is what is needed, because only through complete unity and the loyalty of its citizens can Canada be truly free and prosperous.

On a more personal note, my mother and her parents came originally from Holland. Many traditions which my family follow are those of the Netherlands. However, I am not Dutch. I am not even Dutch Canadian. I am Canadian. My loyalties are to Canada and to Canada alone. That is the future of my Canada.

The Chair: Are there additional comments?

Mr Deblieck: Yes. My name is Maurice Deblieck. Canada's future at this time is extremely uncertain. Canada is a relatively young country and it is time that we, as a sovereign nation, began to mature. In order for Canada to grow up, we must for once end the English-French controversy that threatens to pull us apart. I believe it is time for English Canadians and French Canadians to place their respective cultures in the background and unite together as Canadians.

If we want to stay together, we must agree on this issue: We are not French or English; we are Canadians. We must be under the jurisdiction of one federal government rather than two. The reason for the lack of patriotism in this country, especially among young people, is because we see that our government cannot even make up its mind on many issues. How can we be proud of a country that is not sure of how it stands on any particular issue? For example, with the abortion bill our country refused to even take a stand. How can we, as young people, be patriotic to such a country? Many of my friends would not care whether we remain a nation or if we join the US as a state. If Canada wishes to survive into the 21st century, we must become one country united under one flag, rather than a collage of different cultures and governments. Thank you.

Mr Kelley: There are more problems for Canada than just the Quebec problem. There is the deficit. The GST has been proposed to remedy this situation. Contrary to popular belief, the GST will not destroy our country. European countries prosper with similar taxes, but they prosper because they manage money earned from this well, something which the Mulroney government is infamous for doing a very bad job of. Some of you may remember the excessive amount that was spent on counting the shrubs on Mr Mulroney's lawn. This is characteristic of the government.

Free trade also is the largest problem facing Canada. Canada is incapable of dealing with the economic juggernaut that is the Americans. Many businesses and industries in Canada have already began to crumble under their weight. The path the government has put us on with free trade and the GST is going in the opposite direction of the one Canada should be headed in. With free trade we have effectively lowered our defences against the Americans. Tariffs are the only good defence, but the debate against free trade is one I am sure you are all familiar with and one the provincial government is not going to be able to affect a great deal.

It is this hearing that I wish to salute, because you are here to hear Canadians, something which I am sure the federal government is not that much interested in. The provincial government, although not in control of trade, can have some effect on it and it is here that I beg you to do everything in your power to do the one thing that can save Canada, and that is to get rid of free trade and the Conservatives. Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you. We do have time for some questions, if there are any.

Mr Bisson: One of the things the country was based on is this whole question of the mosaic that you talked about. You alluded to the fact that what we need to do is come together as one people, that if we have a common identity somehow we will be able to solve some of our problems as a nation. I would like you to answer this question and maybe draw the parallel: that experiment has been tried in the United States yet they do not have the social fabric or programs we have here. I put to you that possibly what is making people afraid here in Canada is that we are losing our national institutions: CBC, Via Rail, all of those other programs that are affecting us, and maybe that is a reaction to what is happening now. Do you think that is part of the problem?

Mr Thompson: I think it might be. The term used in the United States is a melting pot; you are American first. I am not sure if you direct your question towards me, but I am not looking for a complete melting pot in Canada. What I am looking for is more of a balance between all Canadians where such things as language and culture do not have quite the impact they do now, because now, with the differences between French and English, we are finding there is a split; we have no way of getting across that.

Mr Bisson: Can I rephrase?

The Chair: No.

Mr Bisson: Okay.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I think you have some very good from-the-heart messages in there mixed very much with your head. I wonder if you could say a little bit about: Have you travelled in Quebec? Do you communicate with students in Quebec? Have you brought that to your school student council? We have heard this across the province, that we can begin these things in small ways. You, and certainly your exposure today to the whole province, can be very great multipliers. Can you say a little about why you feel the way you do? Is it a personal experience or are they goals and ideals?

Mr Thompson: No, it is not a personal experience, and I have absolutely nothing against Quebec as a people. I have travelled through Quebec, I have several penpals, I have taken part in an exchange with Quebec, and the people of Quebec are no different from what we, the English part of Canada, are. What is different is that they feel their language and their culture must be addressed so specifically that they are losing the identity of Canada. They are not working towards being Canadian; they are working towards being French, and that is what I oppose. That is why I am saying that I will feel extremely sorry if we do lose Quebec, but if that is the way they feel, maybe it is better for there to be a completely French country in North America. That way we will get away from a lot of the -- it is dividing Canada not only between English and French, but it is bringing up a lot of other issues.

The Chair: Thank you very much.



The Chair: Could I invite next Norman Serro.

Mr Serro: Members of the committee, Mr Chair, and the interpreters, it is true we now have a deaf MPP in Gary Malkowski and we all are bringing our concerns to him, and we bring our greetings. I know of many deaf natives in Ontario who live in the north and in all parts of the province. I met some when I was going to school. I feel the Ontario government must encourage deaf students to go to the deaf schools.

I would like to tell you about when I was a young boy, when I was in Caledon and I met a deaf man. I was very young, I was about 13, and we communicated by writing back and forth to each other. But what we needed to do was improve our literacy skills, and without those good literacy skills deaf people could not fill their potential upon graduation. A few years later my teacher told me I had to go to the Belleville School for the Deaf, but my mother was very upset when I went. She cried for a few days because I was being sent away to the provincial school, and she did not like the fact that we were going to be separated. Then my parents got me ready to go to school. They bought me clothes. We packed. Then I met the very same man I had met in Caledon previously. He recognized me and I recognized him, and he was a great influence and helped me.

I think the government should bring all deaf native people together and provide a school so they can preserve their own culture, so they can pass that on to future generations. I believe there are many deaf people in Ontario, but their parents are unable to teach them the deaf culture. A lot of parents see that deafness is equivalent to a mental handicap and it is not. The deaf people need to socialize with each other to be able to develop their pride in their own culture. There is a deaf man who came to my reserve east of here. He said he had never gone to school, that he did not learn to read or write. He did not have that opportunity because his parents had no money. I told him that I did have that opportunity, but I started too late. That man had lost the opportunity to develop his potential. I would ask that the committee and the MPPs as they travel to their different towns listen to the deaf people and that they become as equals with the rest of the community. Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Serro. There is one question.

Mr Malkowski: Would you just make mention of your descendancy?

Mr Serro: I am a descendant of Chief Joseph Brant.


The Chair: Could I call next Janice Wiggins from the Social Planning and Research Council of St Catharines and Thorold?

Ms Wiggins: Mr Chairman, members of the select committee, ladies and gentlemen, my name is Janice Wiggins, and on behalf of the Social Planning and Research Council of St Catharines and Thorold, I thank you for this opportunity to respond to the challenge of what lies ahead for our local communities, the province of Ontario and Canada as a whole in changing for the better.

An invitation to talk about a new Canada initiates dialogue about the type of country Canadians would like to have but also provides some thought-provoking examination about the needs and desires of everyday citizens in their local areas.

By working towards a common goal, the attainment of an appropriate quality of living for all is within reach in this country. The process to accomplish this is necessarily open to public participation and discussion. There are a great many issues which face Canada in the 1990s. Where do we envision ourselves in the next few years and further into the future? There is no one simple answer.

When we speak of views on the Constitution and Ontario's role in Confederation, there is a whole spectrum of goal-setting objectives and solutions to be considered. Given the nature of an organization such as the social planning council, most often the prevailing mandate is to plan for the wellbeing in indigenous communities.

With respect to the topic at hand, there are a number of intertwining variables in both the economic and social spheres. While our agency primary concern is the social arena, it would be remiss not to acknowledge the impact economic factors have upon social policy and indeed the wellbeing of citizens.

Recognizing that local communities are arranged throughout Ontario on an urban or rural basis, it is important to reiterate that particular arrangements affect local areas differently. For example, St Catharines is a medium-sized city with an industrial base and its neighbour Thorold is a smaller centre that relies upon industry as well. Within close proximity, our prime agricultural lands had helped to form the heart of Niagara's farming industry. The Niagara region as a whole comprises these two municipalities with an additional 10 others of various sizes. The relationship these geopolitical units have established at the regional level in turn affects relationships with the upper tiers of government.

Despite the seemingly diversified nature of municipalities as a whole, there is one vital feature, that is, the residents of these localities have common links, particularly in relation to shared objectives, shared values and beliefs in programs that are evident across the country.

It has been suggested that Canadians share many factors, both tangible and symbolic. Pan-Canadian symbols such as the universal health care system, parliamentary government and so on serve as reminders that there are links across the country. Canadians at local levels enjoy universal and accessible health care system, access to education, freedom of choice for residence and various other factors in the country through an ongoing relationship and association between the provincial and federal governments.

Essentially, Canadians have needs such as adequate income, employment, housing and adequate social programs. If intergovernmental relations were to change via constitutional reform or some other mechanism, it is vital that all Canadians maintain and improve some of the standards that have currently been achieved or have been set as goals.

Before examining the social side of Ontario in Confederation, it is important to emphasize, as mentioned earlier, economic considerations. In general, Canadians are looking for security in employment. Ontario, with a visible emphasis on a heavy industrial base, is reflected in St Catharines and Thorold. The largest employer in the area is the auto industry, which indicates that economic arrangements from outside forces greatly affect the local community.

Economic goals in Ontario seem to differ from those in the rest of the country, due in part to the political economy of each region and the initial form in which each was set up. It is certainly appropriate to identify the place Ontario has in its own economic sphere as well as that of the rest of the country.

The paper produced by the Ontario government postulates that new forces will enable the creation of a commonwealth for the 21st century. This involves a critical re-examination of social values. A common desire to continue the provision of services to those in our society who are disadvantaged or deemed less fortunate must remain in the forefront.

During the 1980s, circumstances arose that led to the development of food banks across the country. In St Catharines and Thorold there is also an organization fulfilling the same service. It now seems that no community is immune to conditions that create reliance on other forms of assistance besides the government. Apparently, the need for developing these organizations transcends the immediate situation and indicates there are serious systemic crises in Canada.

In the end, the ultimate responsibility of looking after the needs of the disadvantaged also becomes the question of jurisdictional responsibility. Levels of government, in seeking resolution of constitutional issues, should also consider the implication and effects on all segments of society. There needs to be an attempt to preserve what has been part of our heritage in this country, that is, a concern for our fellow citizens in all areas. What matters to Canadians in St Catharines and Thorold also matters to Canadians in Victoria and Dartmouth as well as points in between.


A potential realignment of governmental responsibility may result from the re-examination of social values and norms in addition to an objective vision of Canada in the future. For the time being, it becomes necessary to enunciate problems that could jeopardize the social wellbeing of Canadians and further deepen some of the real and perceived gaps in this country.

It is increasingly evident in observing the social policy area that there are homeless and hungry in the nation. Where the larger question remains is how much of a burden is placed on Ontario, for example, to provide for the substantial needs of those individuals. Local municipalities too are greatly affected by policies created at other tiers of government.

A prime example is the federal government's introduction of Bill C-69, legislation designed to reduce expenditures in transfer payments. Ontario in particular is directly and immediately affected by the changes. Eventually, the brunt of this change in transfer payments is transferred back to the municipalities, which must provide services for citizens. Municipalities can least afford to assume the fiscal costs. The effects are too far-reaching, as there tends to be an even greater drain upon the social service and voluntary sector. The generosity of Canadians through these sectors has been traditionally a very strong component of the social nature of our country. These sectors have been said to be filling the gaps which result when public policy is not accommodating to everyone.

Canadians need assurances of equitable income distribution. Cost-sharing arrangements such as the established programs financing, or EPF, between Ontario and Ottawa ensure the opportunity for Ontarians to have access to the same standards and quality of living that appear as a guiding principle in policy decision-making.

Overlapping jurisdictions create some measure of concern, as the federal government has increasingly pulled back from financial support in these areas. It emerges and expands during the process of examining the Constitution and Ontario's role in Confederation and accountability for specific and overlapping areas.

The province is responsible for the deliverance of social programs. Certainly, there must be guarantees that individuals in receipt of these services are treated in an equitable fashion. Adherence to a set of enforceable standards should become a clear-cut goal of the province. A recent example includes the Social Assistance Review Committee report, better known as SARC, which proposes to streamline social assistance. However, part of the reality is that crucial moneys have been withheld in the form of transfer payments and have been threatened to be further reduced. This may stall an essential provincial initiative. It is difficult to reconcile the withholding of funds without a consensual agreement. Local municipalities in effect lose their ability to complete their portion of the arrangements, as a downloading of obligations is not accompanied by a concurrent array of financial assistance.

The whole issue of Confederation, Ontario's role and the Canadian Constitution requires a great deal of thought and discussion. Links that some Canadians see may not be compatible with the ideas of other Canadians. That is why a public process is essential so that citizens and organizations may voice their concerns in addition to their visions. While our document in particular provides points with regard to the social arena from a local perspective, the brevity of the response may be attributed to the short amount of time for preparation.

In closing, it is necessary for a perspective to be placed on the whole situation. It is the desire of Canadians to have a set of standards and clearly delineated responsibilities between the upper tiers of government. What must be assured as we examine conditions for moving into the 21st century is a quality of life that is acceptable to all Canadians.

Thank you again for allotting this time to the Social Planning and Research Council of St Catharines and Thorold to outline issues in the interests of social and economic aspirations. We have dealt with the first portion of the mandate from the select committee, and we trust that other parties will provide succinct information regarding the form of Confederation necessary to accomplish a future vision.

Thank you very much.

Mr Beer: Thank you very much for your submission. I think you have underlined a couple of very key problems as we look at the changes we would want to bring about.

I recognize this will probably be more of a personal answer than necessarily one from your organization. With all of the difficulties now around the cutting back of federal funds and then the impact that has on the province in terms of its funding to the local level, do you see some change in the way we fund social and health programs, whereby the province perhaps ought to take over greater direct responsibility either through the transfer of tax points -- in other words, to have the ability to fund those -- or do you think it is still necessary that the federal government control those dollars so there can be national standards? It seems we are caught all the time in that kind of dichotomy. What is your sense of that?

Ms Wiggins: I agree with you. We are caught in that conundrum of where the dollars came from, where the services came from, and what cutbacks are necessary in relation to proportionate cutbacks in funding. I think it is very difficult to have a quick answer, a ready answer. With the transfer payments and the current arrangement, it would require a great deal more thought, rearranging the fiscal arrangements that have occurred. If another base can be developed from somewhere that the province can control the money and not rely upon transfer payments, and in turn provide for the municipalities, that could well be possible, but there is only so much money in the economy to go around. That was my main sense of the whole situation, that there is only X number of dollars out there and to ask the taxpayers for more and more is very difficult. But you also recognize that social programs are vital.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Ms Wiggins.


The Chair: Could I call next Norman Walpole.

Mr Walpole: Thank you, Mr Chairman, and committee. I appreciate this opportunity. I was unaware of the request for copies. I will look after that in the near future.

I am an area councillor from the city of Nanticoke and also president of the Norfolk NDP riding association. However, I am not speaking for either of those organizations. These viewpoints are solely my own.

I appreciate the fact that citizens are being asked for their views and that you are listening. I say this even though I believe that the best hope for a solution lies in a committee of constitutional experts studying alternatives, presenting the best options to our political leaders who could then demonstrate leadership to the nation on this issue.

We are a most blessed people, even though many of us do not realize it. Our country has an abundance of resources in great variety. We are potentially the finest nation on earth. We can thank Quebec for forcing us to face reality earlier. The issue is not much more Quebec than it is Alberta or New Brunswick. The issue is Canadianism, and the problem lies between the ears of Canadians. Canadians possess no consensus about what we want the future to bring. This lack of a sense of direction leaves us with a lack of confidence in ourselves. We do not know what options are available to us, nor do we understand the consequences of our decisions. We are a rudderless nation labouring in the shadow of our neighbour to the south.

To take a look at the history very briefly, people first came to Canada for furs, the beaver mainly. As time passed, land and other resources became a focus. After the revolutionary war, British immigrants looked to Canada for land because they wanted to be British loyalists and live under the monarchy. As time went on, living in a Commonwealth country became a priority for immigrants. Immigration from all corners of the globe has converted Canada into a more cosmopolitan nation where British influence is no longer a significant factor. Today, most citizens have a warm feeling about Canada, but we lack a clear consensus about why we exist as a separate entity.

I would like to talk briefly about some of the characteristics that many of us share. As a nation, we love our freedom and believe strongly in democratic government. We are a law-abiding people. We respect other people and usually are kind to them. We respect their property and have little desire to possess firearms. We respect the right of other countries to choose the kind of government they wish. We have been seen abroad as peacemakers and peacekeepers. We are largely a non-violent people. We believe in building social safety nets into our system to protect those who may be vulnerable to economic hardships or health problems.


Canadians are strongly influenced by our neighbours to the south. Unless we are wary and protect our distinctive nature, we will be in danger of amalgamation. We have almost forgotten our distinctiveness in language in such areas as the spelling of the words "colour," "labour," "centre," "light" and the fact that our last letter in the alphabet is pronounced zed.

We have arrived at a point where our teachers and the print media are part of the problem. The strongest cultural influence is television. Many of our children choose to watch programs from stations south of the border. As a result, they learn American spelling. They are more aware of the weather in Ashtabula than in Hamilton, Kitchener or London. They are more knowledgeable of American government processes than those in Canada and are more likely to know prominent Americans than to know prominent people in our own country. It bothers me that some Canadians see our sports, arts and entertainment as bush-league in comparison to those south of the border. I fear that we are losing our feeling of distinctiveness from Americans. If that should occur, political union cannot be far behind.

Canadians are reluctant nationalists. I recall being taken to the CNR station by my aunt in 1945 or 1946. I was a child of nine or 10 years. She furnished me with a flag to wave as the troops disembarked from the train. I felt too embarrassed to raise my arm high and wave the flag. I must confess that a residue of this feeling remains with me today and I suspect many Canadians feel likewise. Americans, on the other hand, are often rabid nationalists. Canadians could not possibly be rabid nationalists, nor may they want to be, but we would all benefit from being more demonstrative in our feelings of support for our country. We are lacking in cohesiveness as a nation. Our attitude needs to be, "All for one and one for all."

Instead of shopping for made-in-Canada items in our search for quality, we often consider price only. We need to purchase the items our neighbours produce, but with consideration for quality as well. It is a sad commentary on our attitude when some of us will pay a higher price for an inferior import. I am convinced that one of our institutions, the Consumers' Association of Canada, actually accentuates this trend to imports over domestic products.

Our nation is in great need of political leadership which possesses a sense of vision. I heard a reporter state once that he never felt more proudly Canadian than after having listened to a John Diefenbaker speech to high school students. While Lester Pearson was Prime Minister, Canadians saw our nation as world peacemakers and peacekeepers. I sat and listened to Tommy Douglas and wished that Canada could have experienced leadership which was so caring and possessed such a clear sense of vision for our nation.

Leadership which focuses on the Constitution or privatization or re-election or passing a particular piece of legislation at all costs is too narrow for our nation. It fails to provide the nation with a balanced leadership or a clear sense of direction. It also grovels in patronage appointments, which breed suspicion. The media proceeds to tar everyone with the same brush, and faith in politicians and the political process sinks to a critically low ebb.

I would like to speak briefly to the solution as I see it. Canada needs a strong central government in possession of all the powers necessary to lead the nation. Granting increasing powers to provinces is self-destructive appeasement. That is not to say that reorganization of responsibilities from time to time is not appropriate. However, a situation which leaves a Prime Minister and a federal government almost powerless and at the mercy of premiers and provincial governments is a recipe for disaster and disintegration. The final result would be additional states joining our neighbours to the south.

When I erect a flag on my front lawn, there is no chance that it will be a provincial flag. I am a Canadian; I am only incidentally an Ontarian. Quebec needs to be clear with us regarding its needs. If cultural security is a primary concern, we must be sensitive to this need and bend over backwards in order to accommodate those needs and allay their fears. I doubt that handing over numerous additional powers would be the solution. Goodwill and sensitivity are more likely to solve the problem, and that same goodwill and sensitivity must be granted to the first nations of this country as well. If Quebec decides it needs sovereignty, we had better reluctantly prepare for a bloodless divorce. I believe, however, that a separate Quebec would be more vulnerable to cultural demise than it would be inside an empathetic union of Canadian provinces.

If Quebec must leave, we must plan for a strong Canada with the remaining provinces and territories. The key to a strong country is strong leadership. Any of the three major parties is capable of providing what is needed. Voters must search out a sense of vision and a four- or five-year plan of action. Voters cannot allow parties to get away with a platform which is intended for campaign alone. Failure to provide leadership and accomplish stated goals should be grounds for electoral defeat. The media need to provide balanced coverage. Good deeds need fair exposure. Errors need to be pinned on the guilty and not overexposed to the point where the whole process falls into disrepute.

Cultural diversity needs to be portrayed as a strength. Multiculturalism and bilingualism are valid policies, but they will fall apart unless there are active steps taken to maintain their health. A strong program of education in our own cultural identity is necessary for a national sense of purpose. We need to see ourselves as different and being worthy of pride. Radio, television and print media may be required to carry vignettes that focus on historical events, national accomplishments, individual accomplishments, team achievements, institutions -- whether they be hockey, the CFL, Grey Cup, winter carnival or whatever. I know one radio station runs stories on particular Canadians under the title of Successful Canadians. I know another one in Hamilton does something similar.

The Chair: Mr Walpole, if you would sum up, please.

Mr Walpole: Okay. I would like to see a commission that would be responsible for preparing those.

In conclusion, our choices are rather simple. We can believe in ourselves and support each other. In so doing, we will be a strong and independent nation. If we do not, Quebec may be the first to leave, but others will follow. The eventual result will be a North America made up of six Latin American countries, Mexico, the United States with about 60 states, and a beleaguered Quebec suffering economically at least as much as Newfoundland does now. Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you, sir.



The Chair: Could I invite next Eddy Wiseblatt.

Mr Wiseblatt: Good morning, everyone. Mr Chair and honourable committee, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to speak to you. My name is Eddy Wiseblatt, and I am from central Ontario. After I speak to you, I would be happy to meet with you and answer any of your questions.

I work for Canada Post, and I have been there for the past 10 years. Currently, I am having difficulties with the post office; it began about a year ago. The Workers' Compensation Board turned me down, the reason being that we had miscommunication. I saw a posting at the post office with a phone number to contact the WCB, but it was for people who could hear; underneath that phone number there was a telecommunications device for the deaf telephone number. I called every day for 15 weeks, five days a week. I did that for three months, until finally I managed to get through to them. Then I had to make an appointment and I had to wait another month, so from the time I began to the time I finally got in there, it was four months later.

When I did go into WCB and tried to communicate with them, I had an interpreter with me. The interview was completed and the process went on. Approximately a year from the time I was hurt until I finally got a response; it was a year later. I was turned down. I do not understand why.

I had already spoken to some people who could hear, who had also been on workers' compensation, and guess what? There was a real big difference between them and myself, who is deaf. Someone who is hearing was able to get through right away, make an appointment immediately over the phone, and a month later had a response from WCB, whereas I had to wait approximately a year from start to finish.

My next point: Two weeks ago, for example, I wanted to contact the people at Canada pension plan because I needed information. It seems that for people who can hear it is easy to get the information, but not for people who are deaf. For example, I went into this CPP office, and the sign said you must make an appointment and it provided a phone number, so I went home and phoned. I called them through the Bell relay service because they did not have a TDD line. I could not get through; it took me a number of weeks. Finally I went into the office in person and explained, "I am deaf," etc, and the woman who was behind the front counter who worked at CPP said, "I have a private phone number, but we're not allowed to give you that private number." I explained my frustration and they said, "You have to phone and make an appointment." I said: "I told you I can't get through to you. I have been trying, and it isn't working." I said: "I have my number for you. Perhaps if you called a family member who wasn't deaf, someone like my mother who could speak to you."

So guess what happened the next day? The woman from CPP and my mother spoke immediately. The woman gave my mother the private phone number. I could not believe that. Why would that happen? Why would she not give it to me because I am deaf? I feel like a second-class citizen. She should have been ashamed of herself.

As I have worked for the post office for some time now, I have taken many courses to upgrade myself -- for example, to become a supervisor, to become a manager, to get into management. At the post office, in my spare time, I took courses. I have passed every single course, every single one I have taken -- many of them. The reason is that possibly I would want to be promoted to a supervisory position, but I am telling this committee that here in Ontario there are absolutely no deaf supervisors who work for Canada Post. Even though there are 60,000 employees who work for Canada Post, not one deaf individual has a supervisory position in Ontario.

What is wrong with Ontario? What is wrong with this province? At one time there was a supervisory position. I had taken many tests over the past five years and passed them all, and then a vacancy came up and I applied for the post. I spoke to the person who was responsible for running the competition. The way they behaved was almost like they felt sorry for me, like "you poor thing." They said to me that I had to do the tests again. What I am asking you people is what is wrong with Ontario? It is because I am deaf that I have been discriminated against.

Perhaps you may want to know why I want to be a supervisor. In the past, prior to working for Canada Post I had my own business. I owned a restaurant; I was an entrepreneur. I had the experience. I have good speech. I am deaf, that is all. I am able to speak to people. I could speak to people, I could act as a supervisor and speak to them one to one. But it always seems to be people who can hear. People look at me as if I have a deficit but there is nothing wrong with me.

We do have one deaf supervisor in Canada, in British Columbia. This individual is not born deaf, but a deafened person. They became deaf at the age of 12. I am a true culturally deaf person, and the person in BC is not.

I have a beautiful deaf family. I have a deaf wife who works for family services counselling in Milton. I have sons. One is 21 and he is deaf, and he is attending a deaf university in the United States. A second son is also deaf, who attends a school for the deaf in Milton. We are all deaf. We are a wonderful family.

All of my life, even with my restaurant experience, etc, I am able to listen to people -- people who are deaf, who have difficulties, who maybe go to the Canadian Hearing Society or to church or whatever and have given up on these agencies or people come to me. I have an open door policy at my home. I am always welcoming those individuals who are having difficulties, and I listen to them.

Now you, the MPPs for Ontario, have this committee and have been meeting for almost a month. You have heard from deaf individuals across the province on a variety of issues, but I want to tell you that you are missing something. I have listened to individuals and I keep hearing this term Ombudsman. I think what that means is someone who listens well. Someone who is hungry for something or is getting frustrated or whatever would go to an Ombudsman. I am talking about problems with the school system, the educational system, the Canadian Hearing Society. I think what you need to do is hire a provincial human rights worker, someone who is deaf and French, someone who can work with human rights, who can work here in the province. There is a person by the name of Judy Rebick. She does a lot of work, but she has basically taught breaking down barriers to people. Here in Ontario we need a deaf person to do the same kind of thing, someone to stand behind us and provide services for us.

Truly, in my heart, I have gone to northern Ontario and experienced what goes on there, and I fully support the aboriginal people there. What I suggest to you, I beg of you, is please hire a deaf native person who can act as a human rights social worker, whatever, because in my experience, and I am 46 years of age, I have met two individuals who left and then came back and there were three deaf natives who had committed suicide and one person died. That is an awful lot of money for Ontario. I do not understand it.

In terms of deaf education, the system itself --


The Chair: Mr Wiseblatt, if you could sum up please, we are at the end of the time.

Mr Wiseblatt: All right then. I am just on my last page here, if I may.

I ask of you, as I have said before, that for the deaf educational system, I feel we must hire deaf social workers, deaf psychologists, deaf counsellors; everyone should be deaf. The purpose of that is that I am informing you the committee that we the deaf Ontarians are very happy to have an MPP such as Gary Malkowski. Why I have said all of these things is because it would benefit you, as hearing individuals, and deaf people. It is true deaf people should be hired because they are the only ones who really understand what deafness is all about. They can communicate. They understand the difficulties that people have experienced at school and they can truly relate.

I do thank the committee for allowing me this opportunity.


The Chair: The final speaker is Joanna Bedard.

Ms Bedard: Elders, chiefs, Mr Chairman and committee members, I am speaking from a few notes I made this morning, but I have not had any time other than this morning to prepare, and unfortunately I am not like John Peters who can just get up and speak to any group on any subject from his heart.

Mr Peters: The gift of the gab, it is called.

Ms Bedard: I think in first nations' society the men have the gift of the gab and not the women.

First nations have been involved in the formation of the society of this country from the time when humanity emerged from the mists of time. It is our story that the first nations have occupied this territory from the dawn of time and this has not been refuted by science. In fact recent scientific archaeologists have located evidence that perhaps a tiny forebear of humanity was at one time extant on this continent. The Bering Strait theory is only that, developed first to accommodate biblical notions and then to affirm the notion of a citizenry of immigrants.

First nations are not immigrants but are the children of the Creator, serving and surviving at the beneficence of Mother Earth on Turtle Island. Therefore, first nations must be considered a founding nation with a distinct place in North American and Canadian society.

The 53 different cultural and linguistic groups which exist in Canada are unique to this country. Through a policy of assimilation and repression, many of those cultures and languages are on the verge of extinction. Once we in Canada abandon this precious heritage, it cannot be retrieved or revitalized elsewhere. Therefore, recognizing that obligations to first nations lie within the federal jurisdiction, but also recognizing the great influence which the province of Ontario has within Confederation, we ask your Premier, Mr Rae, to work within the sphere of his influence to ensure that the human and political rights of first nations are protected and affirmed by the Constitution.

Political self-government systems as ancient as any in existence today were in practice within this territory. While currently suppressed, they can emerge within a pluralistic society such as Canada. These governments are consensual in nature, provide for the emergence and identification of the individual from within the definition of the collective nation, respect the environment, recognize the interdependency of all created things, and respect an equality of privacy among the human and the non-human. They integrate the recognition of spirituality within the individual and society, regard education as a cradle-to-grave enterprise, celebrate and respect elders, and welcome the young as our greatest resource and commitment to the future.

First nations best function within their own self-government and within the Constitution and resourced by a share of the great wealth of this nation which they have shared with settler governments and newer immigrants. The Constitution must ensure the rightful place of first nations within the Canadian polity. As well, it must recognize and support first nations' languages and cultures. It must address the damage done by forced assimilation practices in the past.

The healthy, active and developing practice of self-government within first nations will address the issue of justice and human rights as opposed to the imposition of a foreign, legalistic, legal system where the rule of law is manipulated and interpreted by and for the powerful.

If we as peoples are committed to peace in the world and the recognition of human rights, it is necessary to hold and practise these goals in this country and in this Constitution by which it is governed.

First nations have been speaking to settler governments for the past 500 years. They have spoken of the importance of the environment, of the economy, of the needs of women and children, of the needs of the elderly, of the needs for people living within spirituality and of mutual respect.

The most important treaty among the nations is one which John Peters mentioned this morning, the two-row wampum. It is written in the ancient language of the Ongwehongweh people. It is beaded, it is a belt, it shows two rows of purple beads separated by three rows of white beads, and it says, "We will progress as nations along the same river, each in our own canoe, respecting in friendship the rights of each other."

Perhaps Canada should take a lesson from the first nations and develop its own two-row wampum. Let us progress together in peace, respect and friendship, each in our own canoe. Let us sail down the river of time together.

I would also ask on behalf of our brothers and sisters, the Cree and the Inuit in Quebec, if Mr Rae, your Premier, would find the information for us on the 1912 agreement which gave the administrative powers to Quebec for the northern portion of that province, that northern portion which Mr Bourassa is damming up so his people in the south can benefit from these resources and leave our Cree brothers and sisters with nothing, which will extinguish their whole way of life. If Quebec wants to separate and the Cree want to stay within the Canadian polity, what are Mr Rae and Mr Mulroney going to do about that?

The first nations of this country love their land. The people regard Turtle Island as their mother, the very earth of which they are made, flesh of their flesh and blood of their blood. If others do not so regard this land, then let them give it back. I challenge you, in the words of one of your own poets from one of the founding nations:

Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,

Who never to himself hath said,

This is my own, my native land!

The Chair: Thank you very much, Ms Bedard. I think it is a fitting end to the presentations this morning. Yes, we can take a couple of quick questions.

Ms Churley: Thank you very much for your presentation. I was very moved, as I think we all were, by your last statement. I wanted to know if you had any specific suggestions on how -- you mentioned that Mr Rae and our government might try to intervene in some way in the James Bay project. I wanted to know if you had any specific suggestions on how we might work together to deal with that situation. I guess my bias is showing. I agree with you and I think it needs to be stopped. I just do not know at this point, because it is in Quebec territory, how to deal with that.

Ms Bedard: If we look on this as our country and if we look at any action taken, it is interdependent. In other words, if he changes the whole of Mother Earth in his area, it is going to affect us. It is going to affect James Bay. It is going to affect the rivers in our portion of the country. It is going to affect us all. If our brothers and sisters in northern Quebec are left with no means of existence, they say, "Well, let them have welfare," and then five years down the road they are going to say, "Look at all those Indians up there living on welfare." It never stops. Every time there is any resource anywhere in this country that is on Indian territory, as soon as the non-native population wants to make money from it, it does not matter; they take it.

But the repercussions for everybody living in this country is the same. When the resources are abused, we all pay for it. And why are we doing it? We are not even doing it for ourselves. We are doing it for another country. We are doing it for Americans. We are not even doing it for the people there; we are doing it for the multinationals.

The Chair: Thank you, Ms Bedard.

Ms Bedard: Before you close, Mr Chairman, it is our custom that nobody leaves this territory or this centre without a little gift. It is the culture of the Ongwehongweh people to share, and so on behalf of our centre and the nations we represent, we would like to make a small presentation to you.

The Chair: Thank you very much. We have appreciated the hospitality here and your comments.

On that note, we will end our stay here in Brantford. We proceed this afternoon as a committee to Hamilton where we will conclude our hearings for this week. We invite those people here and those that are watching over the parliamentary channel to continue to follow our proceedings if you are so interested. Thank you very much. We are recessed.

The committee recessed at 1244.


The committee resumed at 1517 at McMaster University, Hamilton.

The Chair: If I can call the meeting to order, my name is Tony Silipo, Chair of the select committee on Ontario in Confederation. We are pleased as a committee to be here in Hamilton this afternoon for an afternoon and evening of hearings, this being the final stop for us this week and this being the third week of a four-week cycle of meetings in various parts of the province to get a sense from the people of the province, through individuals and organizations, of the kinds of views that people have about the future of the country and the province's role in the new Confederation.

We have heard to date a number of interesting and fascinating viewpoints, and no doubt we will hear from the speakers this afternoon and this evening a number of additional comments that will be useful to all of us in proceeding with the many issues that we have before us.

As we have done in a number of other locations, in addition to the printed list of speakers we have a number of other people we would like to try to accommodate. I will ask that speakers try to keep their comments to 10 minutes if they are individuals and to 20 minutes if they are representing organizations. If you could allow some flexibility within that for time for questions for the committee members, we find that that is also a useful exchange for us.


The Chair: I will call our first speaker, Sheila Copps.

Ms Copps: Thank you, Mr Chairman, for the privilege of being here. As one who obviously has an elected as well as a non-elected interest in the survival of our country, I am really glad that the Ontario legislative committee has chosen to hear from us, because you may know that the Spicer commission wants to hear from individual Canadians and members of French political parties but not from any of the established political parties, which include the NDP, Liberals and Conservatives. So this is my one kick at the can.

I felt it was important for me to speak here in Hamilton because I do think that we are facing a very important choice and your committee is going to play a crucial role. The constitutional clock is ticking and we have two choices. We can either sleepwalk our way to separation or we can seek a national consensus to rebuild Canada. Ontario, your legislative committee and our province have a key role to play in that consensus. Your work will largely determine whether, as Ontarians, we can help kickstart a failing federalism. Make no mistake about it: the time is short. To reshape our future, I think we must all understand Canada's past.

Le Canada est constitué de quatre composants. Au début il était habité par divers peuples autochtones. Aujourd'hui, il compte environ un demi-million de citoyens partagés entre plusieurs nations. Ayant vécu sur ces terres depuis plusieurs dizaines de milliers d'années, ils ont acquis une profonde connaissance de notre riche nature et ont appris à la fois à en vivre et à la respecter. Malheureusement, au cours de ces derniers siècles, les nouveaux arrivants, nous compris, ont parfois oublié de les inclure en bâtissant le Canada.

La première vague d'immigrants est venue de France principalement au cours de la décennie de 1680. En vertu d'une décision politique du cardinal de Richelieu, tous les colons français devaient être catholiques. Au moment de la conquête en 1760, ils étaient 60 000 habitants. Tous les six millions de Canadiens français vivent aujourd'hui comme descendants de ceux-ci. Il est donc facile à comprendre pourquoi le peuple français du Canada est si homogène et «tricoté serré». Le fait qu'il a survécu et qu'il a bâti une société originale et forte est une preuve de sa vitalité.

The second wave of immigrants was of British origin. It started with the coming of the Loyalists, already North Americans for a few generations but loyal to the British crown. They were soon to be followed by other people coming from the British islands, like my foreparents from Ireland, mainly during the 19th century. Their descendants now count for about nine million Canadians. Because of the conquest, the country belonged to them. They settled primarily in the Maritimes, southwestern Quebec and Ontario, and built the infrastructure and the industry of central and eastern Canada.

In spite of an uneasy relationship with French Canadians, they founded, together with French Canadians, the Dominion of Canada in 1867. The Confederation was a collective decision by the two founding peoples, French and English, to build a country together. It was designed as a federation, not a unitary state, to allow the French to have control of a government. As for the French, Confederation, and indeed Canada as we know it, has always been a pact between the two founding peoples.

The third wave of immigrants, and one about which we are particularly proud in Hamilton, started after the birth of Canada at the end of the 19th century and is still going strong today. Coming first from all European countries and now from all over the world, they want to live in and contribute to one of the most blessed lands on earth. Accounting now for nine million Canadians, they have literally opened, settled and built the west, as well as enriched our metropolitan cities.

Because of this extraordinary gathering of different and intertwined groups of people, Canada has a chance to be a microcosm of humanity. Each of these groups -- aboriginal peoples, francophones, anglophones, multicultural groups -- enriches our country by bringing its specific skills and experiences. Some of these characteristics are the aboriginal peoples contributing ancient wisdom rooted in a unique environment. This knowledge is particularly relevant in the environmental crisis we face today.

Les Français apportent leur sens aigu de la nature de l'identité canadienne. Grâce à leur double expérience comme Nord-Américains mais résistant à l'assimilation continentale, grâce à leurs racines profondes et parce qu'ils ont eu à vivre à la fine pointe de l'histoire et l'évolution politique du pays, ils savent très clairement ce que ça signifie d'être Canadiens. Ils n'ont pas de problème d'identité de cette fameuse angoisse canadienne répandue chez nous, les Canadiens anglais.

The British contribute their sense of stability. Having built our political institutions, the British parliamentary system is the basis of our democracy. They have shaped the nature of our political life. Having brought the capital and expertise, they have shaped economic and financial infrastructures.

Canadians from other origins bring variety and richness that help our modern country in this global village to face the challenge of living as a single human community on a small planet. Canada is one of the few countries in the world where we find people who have direct personal relationships with every other country on earth. Because it was founded on a pact between the French and the English, Canada is blessed by being the home of two important original languages. Montreal is probably the only city in the world that has a comprehensive school system from primary grades to post-secondary studies in English and French.

Évidemment, une telle diversité crée des problèmes et on en vit actuellement. Les consensus sont déjà difficiles dans les sociétés homogènes comme les états-nations de l'Europe. Au Canada, parfois nos différences semblent insurmontables à cause de la barrière linguistique, des barrières entre régions, de la barrière entre les autochtones et les autres, des barrières entre les Canadiens de vieille souche et les nouveaux arrivants et ainsi de suite. L'ordre semble s'écrouler. Le Québec actuellement se sent rejeté par le reste du Canada. L'Ouest aussi se sent aliéné par la mainmise du Canada central sur le système fédéral. Les autochtones sont aigris parce qu'ils ont été ignorés. Les Maritimes se sentent isolées à cause de leur éloignement et de leur faiblesse économique.

Our system, designed in the 19th century, no longer seems to be able to answer 21st-century needs. The present structures and institutions are not adapted to deal with the new realities. Federalism is a complex system designed to deal with complex situations. When the situation changes, so must the specifics of our federal system. In Chinese, the ideogram for crisis means danger and opportunity. Perhaps we can use this constitutional crisis as an opportunity to build a new deal for Canada. We must focus on a new deal for all of Canada because as long as the Constitution is looked upon as merely a Quebec problem, the issue of national unity will not be resolved.

One of the mistakes of Meech was that it dealt exclusively with Quebec's demands. Other Canadians felt left out of the process and thus thought, rightly or wrongly, that it was unfair. This time let us take the opportunity to renegotiate a new deal for Canada. In 1864 the Fathers (only) of Confederation faced an almost impossible task, yet they succeeded in providing the frame to build an extraordinary country that has lasted for 123 years. Why can we not now, you sitting around this table and other Canadians, succeed in providing a new framework for 123 more years in Canada? Why can you not be the fathers and mothers of a new confederation?

More than any other country in the world, Canada is the creation of the strong will of our people. Our country was created in spite of geographic obstacles, our mixture of different peoples within common institutions and our proximity to a powerful and at times overbearing neighbour. The great majority of Canadians, and I believe Quebeckers, do not want to destroy Canada, but they need to reshape it. Quebeckers are putting their ideas on the table in a very articulate and comprehensive manner, and we across the rest of the country are only now waking up to the scope of the possible changes.

We may not like the specifics of some of the Quebec proposals. Then we must make counterproposals. Why not take this danger opportunity to look at other areas of dissatisfaction? What about regional alienation and aboriginal claims? What about Senate reform? Dialogue leads to creative thinking. We need to overcome our differences and realize what we have in common. History and geography have brought us together on the northern part of America. This is our home on earth and we must find a formula to rewrite the Canadian equation. The role of Ontario is critical in rewriting this equation.

Historically the names Robarts, Davis and Peterson have been at the centre of all constitutional discussions over the last 30 years. This is a role that Premier Bob Rae must not relinquish. He must add his name to those nation-builders from our province who have understood that our role in Confederation must surpass self-interest. That is not to say that Ontario's desire for a united Canada is totally selfless. The notion put forth by some that the Ontario economy will remain strong in a fractured Canada does not stand up to scrutiny. The value of trade between Ontario and Quebec is near $20 billion. This represents 400,00 jobs.

Beyond its value, its quantity, our economic ties with Quebec are also important qualitatively. Businesses are closely integrated and each market has an intimate knowledge of the other. Our partnership provides more secure markets than most other economic relationships. To those who say, "Let Quebec go, its price is too high," I say the price for separation is much higher for all of us. To those who say the breakup of this country is just a matter of time, I say no, we can reignite the political will to reach out now and save this country. To those who would sleepwalk us to separation by ignoring the constitutional crisis and focusing only on our economic problems, I say a strong economy and a strong Constitution go hand in hand. We cannot have a healthy Ontario without a whole Canada and we cannot have a complete Canada unless we undergo a fundamental restructuring of the way we share power in this country.


Le Québec a besoin de croire qu'il est autant désiré que les autres parties du Canada. Paradoxalement, le sentiment d'aliénation et d'éloignement de la force politique du centre du Canada qu'éprouvent les Québécois est partagé par d'autres Canadiens dans l'Ouest et dans les Maritimes.

Quebec is not the only province that feels left out of the Canadian equation. Travel to the Maritimes, travel to the west and hear Canadians who feel that they are left out of the new constitutional deal. Quebec wants to believe it is wanted and it is needed in the same way as other Canadians. Ironically its sense of alienation and distance from the centre of Canadian political force is shared by many other parts of the country.

Quebec is clearly a distinct society within Canada. This fact must be recognized in the Constitution if any sense of Quebeckers belonging to our country is to be restored. But the constitutional crisis is not only a Quebec problem. It is a crisis of empowerment for all Canadians. This is about allowing all the people, not just a privileged few, to have a say in the decisions that shape their lives. Like Quebeckers, other Canadians too want to be masters in their own house. When all the layers of politics are peeled away and many of us around this table have spent many years peeling political layers, elements of Quebec's constitutional proposals deal with the very issue of power to the people.

In the debate over division of powers that undoubtedly must ensue, let's examine what can best be delivered by each government. It makes sense that provinces have responsibility for manpower training because the closer you are to the needs of the population, the better you can understand regional and local manpower needs. On that other hand, it makes sense that the federal government has some jurisdiction in environmental matters because pollution ignores provincial boundaries. What we throw into Lake Ontario here in Hamilton eventually finds its way into the St Lawrence waterway, and we are inextricably linked.

On the other hand, it is only natural that Quebec controls the linguistic and cultural policies that affect its capacity to remain a francophone partner in the Canadian family. Instead of allowing the constitutional debate to tear this country apart, we should be focusing on the elements that can and should bring us together: interprovincial movement of goods, services and people from sea to sea to sea. Your committee can focus on strengthening elements that deal with interprovincial relations. Is it not about time that we practise free trade among Ontario, Quebec and the rest of Canada? Listen to Allaire on that point. Does it not seem absurd that beer brewed in New Brunswick can be purchased in Florida but cannot be bought in Ontario? These are economic challenges that, if resolved, will make us stronger, not weaker.

D'où vient cette idée qu'en donnant plus de pouvoir au Québec nous nous affaiblissons ? Pourquoi croyons-nous qu'en donnant l'autodétermination aux autochtones, le reste d'entre nous perdons ? Est-ce que renforcer les régions affaiblit vraiment le tout ? Dans une famille, plus ses membres sont forts et autonomes, plus la cellule familiale est renforcée et enrichie. Dans un mariage, lorsqu'un époux appuie son conjoint, lui donne de l'amour, cet époux gagne, il ne perd pas et le couple s'en trouve renforcé. Une équation semblable gouverne les communautés humaines.

A new contract, a new constitution, in which each partner feels at home can only lead to a stronger Canada. It is important to keep the dialogue open. It will be painful, it will demand courage, yet it must be fruitful. The diversity of our country is an important asset that will help us to face the reality of years to come. The only chance for Canada to be at the leading edge of nations in the global village of the 21st century is to be open to the world. I hope my daughter speaks not only English and French but Italian and all the other languages that have helped enrich our culture and opened us to the world of the 21st century.

The main task of your committee is to find a way to translate this diversity into a creative working relationship and to allow each of our citizens to feel that they are a part of this great country. Ontario is in a unique position. As a major partner in Confederation, we have a real stake in a united Canada. As the closest geographic and economic neighbour, we are the oldest friend of Quebec. We have also been a bridge between east and west. In this new context Ontario must play a key role in defining and shaping a new deal for Canada.

I hope that your committee will fully understand the urgency of thought and action. We owe it to future generations of Canadians. I wish you Godspeed in your deliberations and I would be very happy to answer any questions.

The Chair: Thank you, Ms Copps. Certainly we understand the urgency as well as the importance of the work that is before us and some of the things you have mentioned. We are running a bit behind, but I will allow one or two quick questions.

Mr Malkowski: Thank you very much for your presentation. Actually, before I ask my question, I would like to state that it touched me very much, because I am originally from Hamilton and I grew up in your riding, so I feel quite honoured being able to ask you the first question.

With regard to the Constitution, you seem to be emphasizing the importance of the recognition of native, francophone, anglophone and multiculturalism. However, there is no mention of disability rights nor women's rights. With Meech Lake, this was disregarded as well. Could you comment on the absence of these?

My second question is with regard to the Allaire report. What do you feel this committee should consider out of those 22 recommendations that might be vital to us for our consideration?

Ms Copps: I will start with the second question first. I think the checklist or shopping list of responsibilities that has been outlined in Allaire is not really the sum and substance of the essence of the report. I think the essence of the report we should be looking at is the element dealing with the economic integration of all of the parts of Canada, in particular Ontario and Quebec. I think it is one area where we share the views of Quebec, that we need to break down provincial barriers and we have to open Canada up so that Canadians can live and work in the language of their choice from sea to sea to sea.

With respect to your first question, I believe the instruments, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Ontario Human Rights Code, which I was privileged to be involved in the reworking of in 1982, do serve as a tool to protect as much as possible the interests of particular groups and individuals. I see great strength in the Canadian Human Rights Act in defining, for example, the recourse from discrimination that can be sought by women and in particular by handicapped persons.

I did not specifically deal with women or handicapped persons as a representative of a particular perspective, because I was looking at demographic groups. When I did the analysis of the peoples who have brought us together, I was looking more at the issue of geographic country of origin than gender or physical or mental handicap. But I do believe there are tools in place -- both need strengthening at the provincial and national level -- that can also be utilized, in part as a result of the Constitution and in part as a tool of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

To sort of get into the remaking of the Meech argument, I made a reference in my brief to the fact that I felt one of the reasons that Meech failed is because it was an attempt to redress the grievances of the absence of Quebec in the Canadian Constitution but it did not deal with a number of other grievances. Clearly those other grievances have to be explored in a new constitutional round if all Canadians are going to get some kind of a consensus and come to a conclusion.


Mr Offer: Thank you, Sheila, for your presentation. It might be interesting for you to know that as we have travelled through the province, a great many people share the passion of Canada and the great desire to try to find an accommodation so that this country remains united.

Right now there is potentially some ongoing negotiation between Quebec and the federal government. You have spoken in your presentation about the role of Ontario. On one hand you have spoken about the role Ontario should play, yet on the other hand we sense potential ongoing negotiations between the federal government and one province. How do you see those two coming together? How do the other provinces take a part in this type of ongoing discussion?

Ms Copps: First you have to consider the fact that six months ago Quebec was not talking to anybody and now it is talking to the federal government on some specific issues. The immigration agreement that was signed is one. There are going to be other areas of preliminary discussion. Obviously, when push comes to shove and the final new deal is struck for Canada -- if there is to be a new deal struck for Canada -- that is going to have to be struck by more than one province and the federal government. There will have to be major constitutional consensus. That is one of the reasons that right now the federal parliamentary committee is looking at the issue of the amending formula, because of course one of the reasons for the difficulty in getting any kind of consensus on Meech was the fact that when you need unanimity as a precondition for amendment, that makes it very difficult.

The second point that I made -- God forbid that I should come to the committee and say I want to be nonpartisan, but I do say that, because I think it is important in this debate that we not wear our party hats. I understand the political dilemma the Premier faces, that at the moment the focus of attention of many thousands of Ontarians is on jobs. That, combined with the difficulties that former Premier Peterson faced in terms of the perception that his constitutional position cost him dearly, there could be a tendency to want to move away from questions of the Constitution in our province. I think it is important that the Premier get the support of all Ontarians to make the links between the economy and the Constitution and also to ensure that Ontario can play a role in bringing this country together, because I think we have historically done that in the past. That is why I mentioned Robarts, and you can go back to Pepin-Robarts and you can look at the work of Mr Davis and Mr Trudeau in the early Constitution. I was sitting in the opposition in Ontario at the time and at times we sort of gritted our teeth about this rather unholy alliance, but when you are talking about the future of your country I think it is important that you throw off your party mantles and you try and do what you can to keep it together.

I think a lot of people would like to ignore the economic arguments for Ontario to have a strong constitutional position. I do not think we can ignore them. I think they are there, they are very real, and those people in my own community, and I dare say probably a few in this room, who say, "To heck with Quebec, let them go," are making a big mistake, because if they do go the price will be paid by all of us.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Ms Copps.


The Chair: Could I call next John Aimers from the Monarchist League of Canada.

Mr Aimers: Thank you, Mr Chairman. I am accompanied today by Garry Toffoli, who is the chairman of our Toronto branch.

I am delighted to have the opportunity of addressing the committee today in order to briefly outline the views and concerns of the Monarchist League of Canada, spelled out in more detail in the brief submitted to you.

The league is Canada's only organization whose sole purpose is to explain the role and benefits of constitutional monarchy to Canadians and to correct misinformation and misunderstanding about the crown in Canada on the part of the press, politicians or the public. We have about 16,000 members across the Dominion, 40% of that figure living here in Ontario.

Contrary to the image sometimes foisted on monarchists, we are a young organization, representative of the Canadian identity, diverse in our backgrounds and politics, bilingual and multicultural in our approach. We are proud of the crown as a thoroughly Canadian institution, and our whole approach to our work is in a Canadian context. We are not sentimental wavers of the Union Jack or romantic absolutists and we specifically repudiate those individuals and organizations who sometimes wrap themselves in the cloak of loyalty to the monarchy as a cover for bigotry based on language, race or religion.

Canadians today suffer from political fatigue and from the clamorous demands of a host of special-interest groups. Who addresses the needs of the country as a whole? One key element, we believe, that should not be overlooked in the discussion is the monarchy, which incarnates the particular values of society in a subjective way quite apart from its objective value in a constitutional sense.

One is only to have experienced the galvanizing effect on a voluntary association of an impending royal visit, for instance, to see this principle at work, helping to construct society and to unify the country in a manner that has nothing to do with the provision of government services.

Proper understanding of one's past can sustain one in the present and provide direction for the future. One of the current trends that has added unnecessary heat and intolerance to our debates across Canada is the assumption that our differences can be resolved by repudiating our historic institutions, and as such repudiations are a sign of national maturity. This notion rewrites history to present Canada as the victim of successive imperialisms -- French, English and American -- labels its opponents as suffering from colonial hangups, and suggests this remedy, that true Canadians demand the eradication of our military traditions, royal associations with voluntary societies and any evidence of monarchy in public life, leaving as little as possible in the history books.

In this context, French Canadians are represented as the people suffering from the ills of an 18th-century conquest and Quebec's position as analogous to that of other nations struggling for liberation from an imperial power. Our brief dismembers these fallacies in some detail, pointing out to you another view of Canadian history, less revolutionary but more realistic, and reminding us how much of the evolution of so-called English political institutions owes to French culture and government.

In drawing attention to Canada's monarchical heritage, we are not saying anything about the domination of one ethnic group by another. Indeed, we would deprecate any attempt to do so. What we are speaking about is the institutionalization by our society of civilizing values that create the public environment for not only the administration of government but of all public activities. Those who persist in referring pejoratively to the Queen as the Queen of England are either ignorant of the Canadian Constitution and Canadian history or are consciously making a misleading statement.

The Queen has many crowns and many capitals. She is not resident in Canada, but is the Governor General resident in Newfoundland or the American President in New York? Sharing the Queen with kindred societies in a high-tech, easily communicated world, in a diverse Commonwealth, is one way by which Canadians can demonstrate their ability to get along with other societies and show the world that we see ourselves as part of a larger family.

The living values of monarchy, as opposed to its political and constitutional benefits, essential to Canadian unity, rest essentially on the recognition of the worth of others. Many other values flow from this paramount one: piety, tolerance, amity, manners, decency, the family. Recognition of others therefore lies at the heart of monarchical sovereignty, in contrast to the wearying assertion and reassertion of the self, of me and my demands and my needs that is characteristic of popular sovereignty. If understood properly, monarchy short-circuits the lack of care for the general good on the one hand and hate propaganda on the other by shrinking the heads of egoists. The Queen's picture on our walls and stamps and coins is, in another sense, the best headshrinker, reminding popular leaders that they are not the state but its temporary custodians. It is best that power be separated from the externals of glory. This is one of the services monarchy has to offer democracy.

The monarchist perspective of Canada provides specific concepts in addressing our present difficulties. These we have suggested in our brief under headings political, social and symbolic. One point anchors them all, that Canada should remain an evolutionary society, recognizing the partnership of the ages. Quick, revolutionary fixes will not save Canada but destroy its very character. The most successful societies adapt old institutions and principles to new requirements, just as our parliamentary monarchy has adapted successfully to feudal, Renaissance, mercantile, agricultural, industrial and now post-industrial societies successively.

So we believe our political institutions are sound and should be maintained essentially in their present form, with changes in the form of modifications to meet some new expressions of old and true concepts.


Key to all our expectations and a matter of particular concern, I would imagine, to any provincial committee studying the Constitution, is education. As a teacher, I am grieved in travelling around the province and the country to find an incredible amount of ignorance on the part of high-school students and those who have recently graduated from high school about the facts behind our form of government. One thing that our American cousins have certainly been able to do successfully, and a factor that surely lies behind their national cohesiveness, is to inculcate in their children a thorough knowledge of the American system of government, a deep respect for its founding fathers and a profound reverence for its national symbols, the flag, allegiance. It is to the discredit of our education system, hugely funded and built, that we have failed to train teachers to teach children a similar deep-rooted and near-universal pride in our land and its institutions and symbolism.

That such sharing of values does not eliminate dissent and free thinking is patently evident. That is does knit together a fabric less inclined to unravel in times of stress is equally obvious. "Get you the sons your fathers got," the British poet A. E. Housman wrote on the occasion of Victoria's golden jubilee, "and God will save the Queen." As a monarchist, if there is one thing I would do to save our country it would be just that: to create, teach and maintain from grade 1 through the end of high school a program of national history and symbolism and identity that would be unabashedly proud, unashamedly traditional and uncompromisingly Canadian.

Also, we believe the sovereignty of the Queen and Parliament must be maintained by ensuring that the seeds of judicial autocracy do not flower. Accordingly, we must preserve the "notwithstanding" clause in respect to charter rights. The flexibility that is the genius of monarchy, to adapt to varying needs and circumstances, could be employed by giving consideration of mechanisms by which our transnational communities, French-speaking, aboriginal, for instance, which exist coast to coast and are not limited to reserves or a single province, could be given a voice or governmental structure other than that through a central or provincial government. Similarly, we ask whether federal or provincial constituencies might well be redefined to allow a more accurate reflection of modern communities as seen by the people who belong to them.

The monarchy not only gives prestige to the central government but also to the provincial governments. A Governor General can only be a figure of the central government. The Queen, however, transcends and encompasses both central and provincial governments, giving each equal authority and prestige in their fields of jurisdiction. Indeed, in Regina in 1978, all 10 premiers in supporting the role of the sovereign, stated, "Provinces agree that the system of democratic, parliamentary government requires an ultimate authority to ensure its responsible nature and to safeguard against abuses of power." That ultimate power must not be an instrument of the federal cabinet.

We believe that the Queen, and not her Dominion representative, the Governor General, should appoint provincial Lieutenant Governors directly on provincial advice. To enhance the prestige and neutrality of these vice-regal appointments, such advice should be made in the form of shortlists so that the incumbents are clearly Her Majesty's own choice. Generous use of the crown, the royal sceptre and other symbols reflecting our pride in the monarchy should be made -- in Ontario, for instance, the trillium surmounted by a crown when the coat of arms is not used. Provinces should have the right, hitherto denied, to have provincial honours officially sanctioned by the Queen. We go on to make other specific recommendations in the brief submitted to you.

In conclusion, the league stresses that Canada is difficult to define as a country because it is the product of history rather than of academic fantasies or the ideology of social engineers. Such a country requires flexibility for its institutions and this flexibility is best found in a monarchy and through a largely unwritten Constitution. Attempts to provide new or fully written constitutions are counterproductive, as proven both in 1982 and in the Meech Lake proposals, for the proposed definitions of Canada become roadblocks to achieving the goodwill behind the concepts.

With improved education and a vigorous use of the monarchy as a proud boast of a rejuvenated Canadian identity, the monarchical principles and institutions of this country remain flexible enough to accommodate the legitimate aspirations of all Canadians, as individuals and as communities, within the sovereignty of the Queen of Canada. As Her Majesty said in 1982, worth remembering today, "The strength of Canada's Constitution lies not in the words it contains, but in the foundation upon which it rests; the desire of the people of Canada that their country remain strong and united."

Thank you very much, Mr Chair.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Aimers.

Mr Winninger: I was interested in your comments about the written versus the unwritten Constitution. I gather you know that our written Constitution Act of 1982 has been described by one commentator as a living tree, something organic and capable of growth and change. So I would ask you, does it matter whether a Constitution is written or not, provided it is sufficiently flexible that it can meet the changing needs of society?

Mr Aimers: Our preference would always be for the traditions of an unwritten Constitution, because the minute you start trying to spell out every possibility that might arise, every scenario that could develop, I think you simply prove the fallibility of words and of the human imagination. There is always something that one cannot provide for. The genius of an unwritten Constitution has been, I think, in its complete flexibility. I am not convinced that any words that you or I or anyone in Canada could agree on could ever match that flexibility.

Mr Winninger: Thank you for your views.

Mr Beer: I wonder if you might just go into a little bit more detail about the views you have expressed on the "notwithstanding" clause. That has been the source of a lot of discussion and debate, and I think the point that you made is one that certainly the present Premier made in a debate in our own Legislature. Do you have some thoughts on how you would see handling the "notwithstanding" clause? At the present time I think it is after five years that it has to be re-enacted. Would you leave it the way it is in the charter, or do you have other ways of perhaps dealing with some of the problems where people see it as being simply a political tool?

Mr Aimers: Mr Toffoli will address that.

Mr Toffoli: I think at one point the five-year period was put in, which I think reflects what the "notwithstanding" clause was intended to do -- that is, to provide immediate relief if a judicial decision might be technically correct, or at least the interpretation of the law which results in perhaps an absurd or a socially damaging decision. For instance, the Supreme Court of the United States in the 19th century ruled that blacks were not people, and similarly in our country, at one time the Supreme Court ruled that women were not persons in law. So judicial decisions can be as bad as what they were intended to correct.

The five-year period was put in to represent the period of the life of a Parliament or a legislature, so within five years there has to be a general election at either the provincial level or the federal. Therefore, a new Parliament is now sitting to decide whether to continue with this decision. It was also to provide time for a constitutional amendment to be put through, and we know how long that can take, and perhaps unsuccessfully. So that was the purpose of the five-year period, and I think therefore the five year is a sensible arrangement for why it was chosen, not because of length of a Parliament.

We have suggested, though, that to get around the appearance, and perhaps the reality, of a government's arbitrarily exercising the "notwithstanding" clause simply to impose a view on which the courts have given good reason why it should not go through, the judicial standing committees on justice of legislatures and Parliament should review decisions by the Supreme Court that overturn legislation. That is, if there is a piece of legislation and the Supreme Court says that it is unconstitutional or violates the charter, if it was automatically referred to the standing committees of the particular legislature that passed it, then there would be hearings and the arguments could be put forward why this law may be technically incorrect but it is socially valid; or if it is not socially valid, then that would come out and it would put the decision by the government whether to use a "notwithstanding" clause on the basis of a more rational perhaps and public decision-making process. That is one suggestion we make.

Mr Offer: I will be short. Just in passing on the "notwithstanding" clause, I always thought that the underlying principle was the question of who was, in the end result, to have paramountcy, that being the courts or the Legislature. But that we could talk about for days.

Mr Toffoli: You are correct in your view of the Legislature, but the legislatures can do that collectively through an amendment to the Constitution. This is to provide the transition, but the Legislature still had the final say up until that point, yes.


Mr Offer: That was not my question, Mr Chair. It was just a passing comment. You spoke earlier about the most successful political institutions being those that can adapt to change, and I am wondering, if that be your position, then what would follow necessarily is that you would not be opposed to a rejigging of responsibilities provincially and federally as long as the framework for the institution remained intact.

Mr Aimers: That is correct, sir, absolutely. That is the genius of monarchy to us.

The Chair: Thank you very much for your presentation.

Mr Aimers: Thank you.


The Chair: Could I call next Tom Christoff.

Mr Christoff: Good afternoon, Mr Chairman and all committee members. My name is Tom Christoff and I am appearing here today as a concerned citizen of Canada. My thanks to the committee for giving me this opportunity.

The people of Canada are now being told that our country is not working and that we need a new Canada. My belief is that if this country is not working, it is only the opinions of powerful and influential groups in this country that have brought us to this sorry state of affairs. No one can deny that the events of the past few years by our federal government have not borne this out. The crisis created with Quebec is only another one in its hidden agenda.

When I decided to participate in this discussion about Canada, many, many thoughts passed through my mind as to what I considered was wrong with my country. All the discussions I have heard in the past year have centred on the Constitution and how it does not seem to provide for the people. What people? Is it the ordinary man who is concerned about his rights and place in the country? No, it is not. The Constitution already provides him with those rights or the means to achieve them, as in the matter of our aboriginal people. My educated guess is that it is the people who did not get what they wanted in the patriation of our Constitution; namely, a veto over any constitutional change, entrenched rights of the French language exclusively in Quebec and a special status requirement to be able to opt out of any federal initiative with compensation whenever it wishes to do so.

Your discussion paper, which I have just received this past Monday, presents to anyone wishing to participate in this discussion a lot of questions to be answered. Your time allotment would certainly not permit this. I would like to think, and hope, that this provincial government would look at these discussions as only the first step towards many more in the near future to allow more people their chance to speak out for Canada. We do not need the urgency as dictated by Quebec's ultimatum or even by our own federal government. I will explain this last statement, requiring no urgency, simply by briefly describing Canada's constitutional history to date.

Constitutional wrangling has occurred for the past 300 years in Canada, beginning with the royal proclamation in 1763. After the Seven Years' war ended with the Treaty of Paris, British rule was proclaimed for the whole northern Atlantic seaboard, excluding the islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon. The royal proclamation extended English laws and institutions to Quebec. It was not until 1949 that the French language was introduced as a language of debate in the Canadian legislature. English was still recognized as the official language of the country.

An interesting quotation made by the then governor general, Lord Durham, in 1938 as his assessment of the French situation was "two nations warring in the bosom of a single state." It reflected the relationship between two cultural and linguistic communities in Lower Canada, Upper Canada being predominately English. Can anyone here see a similarity at present? This also resulted in armed rebellion by groups called Parti patriots in 1837. Because they were poorly organized, the revolt was put down quickly and the separatist option was then quiet for a long time.

In 1867, the British North America Act was passed, which provided us with our Constitution and recognized the use of the English and French languages in debates in Parliament and in the Legislative Assembly of Quebec. It also applied to all records in both houses. Further wrangling between the nationalists' attitudes in Quebec continued throughout even the 20th century, beginning with the conscription crisis in 1917. A form of bilingual and bicultural country was now being put forth, versus a nationalist view of an independent traditional French Canadian nation. The 1960s saw the creation of the Royal Commission on Biculturalism and Bilingualism. A variety of proposals were forwarded for the restructuring, renewing and even dismantling of the Canadian federal system. Many Quebec nationalists were even advocating a special status for Quebec, and even an associate-state status.

This followed with the passing of the Official Languages Act in 1969. It declared English and French as Canada's official languages and extended a lot of government services in both languages to all citizens. Quebec followed this with the passing of Bill 22, recognizing French as the official language in Quebec and restricting enrolment in English schools. It apparently was not restrictive enough, so it followed it with the passing of Bill 101, known as the charter of the French language. This made French the only official language in Quebec and enforced enrolment in French schools for all immigrants.

The 1980s saw the referendum crisis in Quebec and the patriation of the Constitution in 1982. This new Constitution Act brings the British North America Act home from Britain and included a Charter of Rights and Freedoms and procedures to make our own amendments now in Canada. The British Parliament on 18 April 1982 renounced its legislative role in Canada. Quebec disagreed with the amending formula, indicating it was not consulted and did not sign the Constitution Act. In reality, Quebec was outmanoeuvred in its politicking.

Prior to the passing of the Constitution Act of 1982, the Supreme Court handed its decision, meaning "constitutional convention plus constitutional law equals the total Constitution of the country." This decision, of course, led to the Constitution Act being approved without requiring Quebec's consent. Quebec then quickly passed its Bill 62 on 5 April 1982. This bill exempted Quebec from sections 2 and 7-15 of the Charter of Rights. These sections apply to the individual's mobility and equality rights in Canada. They also submitted to the Supreme Court of Canada their right of veto over any constitutional changes. It lost its right for veto with the ruling in December 1982 and it finally rescinded Bill 62 on 17 April 1987.

It is interesting to note that this bill was only rescinded some 13 days prior to the Meech Lake constitutional meeting on 30 April 1987. I might also add that Quebec, while not admitting to being part of the Constitution of Canada, invoked the "notwithstanding" clause in December 1988 in response to the Supreme Court's ruling on its Bill 101. We all should know what followed: the Meech Lake accord, which systematically began to tear this country apart, another crisis situation in Canada, which has been happening for the past hundreds of years.

We are now left with another mess created by the present federal government. With the Meech Lake failure, Quebec's nationalist views were again formed, saying that Quebec is once again rejected by Canada. We all know who persisted with this view during the three years Meech Lake was supposedly debated on; as much of a debate, I might say, as is presently allowed in the federal government, or Parliament. The Prime Minister would not allow a single word to be added or changed. He said that rejecting the accord meant rejecting Quebec. Do you blame the Quebec nationalists for taking up his viewpoint? There is an old saying here that I will repeat that has some significance. It is, "If you say something often enough and long enough, people will begin to believe it as true."

So all of a sudden now the future of Canada is at stake. It is divided and requires change. The Prime Minister proposes a new Canada. What does he mean? He says he will consult the people. Forming committees and commissions will allow ordinary people to present their views on Canada. After all their views are known, Parliament will analyse them and propose a renewed Canada. This is from a Prime Minister who has spent more money than any other government on polls, only to disapprove of their findings in most cases.

What is Ontario's role in this crisis? I would say it should be similar to the role of all the other provinces; that is, to consider a Canada where all its citizens enjoy the same individual rights no matter where in Canada they reside. The Charter of Rights on equality already provides for this. It only has to be enforced by all the provinces. The free movement of goods and services should be allowed between provinces but should also include the movement of labour. This will certainly take a strong central government and leader to be able to settle the differences that do exist between the provinces. This is one section of the charter that should be strengthened to allow more freedom and mobility. Too bad we did not enter a free trade agreement between ourselves before opening up all our borders to the United States. Together with equality and mobility rights, shared government programs like medicare, social services, unemployment insurance all round out the values, I believe, in what is a Canadian. Increasing duplicity costs between the federal and provincial governments in these matters leave us in the mess we are now presently in.

The roles of the federal and the provincial governments should be redefined so that there is a logical downward responsibility to the provinces. A strong federal government should provide the basic standards required for that particular responsibility, with the provinces administering that responsibility to the standards that are set so that they will apply in all the provinces of Canada.

There is no doubt in my mind that since 1867 some of the powers of the federal and provincial governments will have to be remodelled. Its form, however, should be as outlined in 1867; that is, powers affecting citizens in all the provinces be retained by the federal government so as to provide standardization across the country. For example, two powers I consider should be standardized would be in education and in environment. Provincial or regional powers should not conflict with federal powers and vice versa.

I have very briefly discussed a few of your points and I would be remiss if I did not have something to say about bilingualism. Since it became law in 1969, all government services were opened up to a bilingual person. In some provinces this was seen as an imposition, and with good reason. With only 25% of Canada's population being French, there will definitely be areas in Canada where services in both languages are not required. I do not believe Trudeau expected bilingualism to work instantly but looked at it happening gradually over a period of time. The added costs to some municipalities will also result in bilingualism taking a much longer time to occur unless more federal funds are being made available.


The problem with bilingualism starts with Quebec's language laws. There, bilingualism is not wanted. Their requirement for availability of government services in both languages only exists where 50% is not French. Ontario's law states that services be available in both languages where numbers indicate, and this percentage is 5%. This does not appear to me to be equality in figures. It is also the feeling of some people that bilingualism conflicts with multiculturalism, the fear being assimilation. A Canada with two official languages, as provided for in our Constitution, will work, given the time. We do not have to react with the present thinking of some; we just have to be patient for a longer time, when the present younger generation will decide this issue for us.

My greatest concern of this committee and all the other government committees is of reacting to Quebec's demands with suggestions for Canada's survival falling on deaf ears again, our man at the top once again rolling the dice and further dividing this country of ours. We are supposed to be living in a democracy. A federal government with a majority relying on its power to rule from members' advocating more power for themselves does not make a government for all of the people and by all of the people.

The Chair: Mr Christoff, if you could sum up, we are beyond the time.

Mr Christoff: I am at the last paragraph.

There is now talk by the federal government and other parties of utilizing referenda for implementing constitutional changes. If we do go in this direction, there is one section I would like to add to our Constitution. It will read, "Ability to govern: A referendum to govern be required whenever 50% of the country's population, as declared by petitions to Parliament, states the present government is unable to govern and must seek re-election." This may seem unwieldy, but we have nothing presently to get rid of a majority government that does not listen to the people. A partisan government does not speak for the people that elects it. Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you, sir. We will move on to the next speaker, but let me just say, Mr Christoff, because you made this point a couple of times at least in your presentation, that as a committee we understand the need for much more discussion to happen and to try to provide that opportunity to the citizens of the province. Although we recognize the urgency of the situation before us, we also do recognize that reality as well and we will be looking for ways to ensure that that happens.

Mr Christoff: Thank you.


The Chair: Could I call next George Sorger.

Mr Sorger: First of all, thank you very much for allowing me to speak here. I am not speaking as an expert, just as a concerned citizen.

There are two constitutional changes that I am suggesting that are, in my mind, very important, and our last speaker, I am glad, made reference to them.

The first is that we need a mechanism to get rid of prime ministers who get out of hand. The fact that we have a majority government and that we say we can elect another government is not enough, because between elections a majority government like this one can act in a very despotic manner. So I think it is imperative, and in my whole experience here in Canada I have never felt it more than now, that we have to have a mechanism to get rid of prime ministers who get out of line.

The second recommendation I would like to make is that we need some constitutional mechanism to find out what people feel on major issues. Once again a majority government, which acts because it has a majority, can be despotic, can go ahead and do things that most people did not anticipate when they elected it. This government, for example, was elected on a mandate that had nothing to do with the war in the Gulf, yet they dragged us into the war in the Gulf, on a mandate that had nothing to do with the Oka crisis, which could have been prevented, yet they dragged us into the Oka crisis.

This is a government that botched completely Meech Lake, which has got very severe consequences for Canada, and did not consult with the public on any of these things. So we need I think a way for the public to be heard, and not to have a government that is formally democratic and in fact not. Those are the two constitutional changes I would like to see.

There is something in addition to this, a view I have of Canada. I am not quite sure, since I am not a lawyer, how you would go about implementing ways to see that it would be carried out. The Prime Minister's view of Canada is something that is approximating more and more the United States and I feel that Canada has completely different values from the United States.

I feel that in this country we value fairness, that we value the trustworthiness of authority and the rule of law, that we value teamwork, and that we also value our reputation in the world as a peacemaker. The United States has a very different view of the world and of itself. It views itself as a country of free competition where winning is very important, where it is admissible to have extremely rich winners and poor people who fall through the cracks. They view themselves as a country with a manifest destiny to tell the world exactly what to do and how, and that this is best for it.

I think we should have constitutional guarantees that no government takes us outside of what most Canadians feel Canada should be. If we are going to become more and more like the United States, then this is not something that should be done behind closed doors by a few people making trade agreements and other agreements, or by the Prime Minister agreeing to courses of action that pull us into, essentially, a whirlpool.

I think we need to have a way of guaranteeing what makes us Canadian. In that vein I think that if we are to be attractive not only to Quebec but to other regions of Canada, we have to get rid of something that is endemic in our system and that is that we are very top heavy, that there is a large concentration of economic power in the hands of a few individuals in this country, and that provinces and areas of the country feel marginalized because these powerful individuals tend to be localized in certain areas.

I think that, for example, the voice of the Inuit in this country should be worth much more than a contract with some North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally. I think that the voice of the Mohawk nation should be indisputably more important than somebody's project for a golf course. I think we should be preserving our environment, our education, our ethnic mix, our multicultural nature and that should take priority, including our social services for those people who are disadvantaged.

This should take priority over what is called economic growth because growth per se means nothing. Growth has to be ordered and has to be distributed to everybody if it is going to be any good. We are not concerned with that. Our government is not concerned with that, at least it does not seem to be. It seems to be willing to penalize the poor and the working people and to make the rich richer. Sure, that is growth, but it is not the kind of growth that I think most Canadians want.


In essence then, I believe our economic plan should have the aim of empowering as many Canadians as possible to control their destiny through collective bargaining and reason. This means to make a concerted effort to avoid too much concentration of power in the hands of a few and certainly in the hands of non-nationals, and that is a criticism of all our governments, not just this one.

We need to plan an economy that is sustainable; that is, that it does not do irreparable damage to the environment or use up all of a finite resource unless that resource can be replaced with something at least as good. We need an economy where our culture and values are able to flourish, a fair and caring economy, one where the difference between rich and poor is not allowed to be explosive, and where everyone belongs and is cared for when things go wrong.

We need to develop relations of mutual respect with other nations so that they can trade with us with confidence and trust. These relations are the only stable ones. For example, what we are doing in Iraq is definitely completely contrary to that. This means not joining in exploitive ventures or aggression or supporting regimes that are well known for their contempt for human rights, which is something that we do.

If this sounds Utopian, we should look at some of the successful economies, Japan and Sweden, where both stressed giving all their citizens a stake in the economy, not just a few rich ones. In foreign relations, the experience of China, Norman Bethune and the dividends that gave us, I think, should have taught us that good will has very long lasting rewards.

If we had a society like that, I do not think we would have a problem with keeping Quebec in it, and I do not think we would have a problem with the west or anywhere else, because everybody would want to belong because they felt empowered in the society. What has been happening, especially since Mulroney came to power, is that many of us feel less and less empowered, more and more bitter and more and more angry, especially since the war.

Mr Bisson: You will have to pardon my voice. I am just getting over a cold and having difficulty.

You said something that I think strikes a chord. I know that for myself, sitting and listening to the deliberations and presentations of a number of people, we are really in a unique position. We are able to hear things and different points of view, different ideas. You said something that I think can be understated. If I understood you correctly, what you are saying is that you as a Canadian feel as if what makes Canada whole and what makes Canada what it is today is somehow being attacked on the economic front and on the social front, that we are basically losing the autonomy of our own economy, that we are losing the autonomy of our social policies, etc. Are you saying that you think what is possibly happening today within some of the problems we are having vis-à-vis our Constitution, some of the ill feelings towards Quebec is somehow a reaction to that?

Mr Sorger: Yes, I believe not only the feelings towards Quebec, but more so the feelings of Quebec towards central Canada and the feelings of the west towards central Canada and the feelings of the Atlantic provinces towards central Canada, that central Canada is concerned with a few rich people getting a lot richer --

Mr Bisson: Okay.

Mr Sorger: -- and that that is at the expense of the average guy all over Canada.

Mr Bisson: You also said something that a lot of other people have been saying, and I am trying to come to terms with it. The question is the question of referendum. I understand what is being said, because what you are saying is right. I think people are feeling frustrated and feel as if they have lost some sense of empowerment --

Mr Sorger: Yes.

Mr Bisson: -- that we have normally had in our society, to be able to every now and then give our politicians good heck and get them to listen to us in order to carry out the will of the people. People are now searching for a mechanism to make that work.

Correct me if I am wrong and give me some direction. The fear I have is that the referendum route, although it sounds very enticing, I have a little bit of difficulty with because I look at what happened in the United States just last fall. There were the elections, where a number of referendums were held across the United States on the question of the environment. I do not think anybody will disagree that in this day and age in the 1990s, the environment supposedly is a number one issue to all North Americans, not just Canadians, but all North Americans generally and probably most people in the world.

As far as I know -- I may be a little bit out, but I think it is a fairly good assumption -- every referendum that was put forward in order to try to put together direction to give the state legislatures power to be able to deal with trying to clean up our environment was lost, because those who have the money, unfortunately, were those who are polluting and they managed to put enough information out there that people were scared at what the consequences of legislation would be, and therefore not the right thing happened.

Is there not a danger with referendums, that that is what could happen in the end, that he or she who has the most money and the best-organized campaign will win the referendum, even though it is not for the good of the majority?

Mr Sorger: Okay. Actually, I did not think I would get into this, but I believe that what you have touched on is a very important point. It is true not only on referendums on the environment; it is true on any issue that is contentious, for example, right now, the war. We are getting a whole lot of smokescreen and propaganda and nonsense, and we are not getting the truth, and that is because there is not democratization of information.

I believe that before a referendum occurs, it is not enough for somebody to do what the Mulroney government did, for example, put out a page in all of the papers giving the "version" of reality or for talking heads to give us the version of reality. We should have a way of ensuring that popular views, as well as the views of the powerful, are expressed. The government should make it its business to ensure that these views come out and are published in a way that is accessible to the people so that when the referendum comes, after looking at that, after looking at more than one view -- the government has to protect the minority views in this sense -- then the public will be in a position to make a decision.

I would go even further. I would like to see a complete democratization of the media as a whole. Right now the media are in the hands of the government and the élites, and I think that that is not correct, that is not good. We need to have a way of expressing public views, dissenting views, in such a way that everybody can see them. Since that is an economic difficulty at the present time, I think the government should make sure that occurs before major decisions --

Mr Bisson: So it is equal access to information --

The Chair: Sorry; we are going to have to stop there.


The Chair: Could I call next Ruth Selby from the United Disabled Consumers.

Ms Selby: Thank you for the opportunity to speak today. I have been watching these proceedings on TV, and not wishing to take anything away from the native people and French language rights, it would seem to me that there are other forgotten peoples in Canada. I am speaking of women, the disabled and the working poor, to name but three. These people must not be ignored, as we are significant in number. I shall confine my remarks to the disabled, as this topic alone is really too broad an issue to cover adequately.

It is hard to know where to begin to try to cover all the unmet needs of disabled persons. For example, transportation, housing, attendant care, attendant care in the workplace, employment, education, income maintenance, recreation, leisure activities, sports, medical services, life with meaning and dignity and quality of life.

How do we achieve justice for persons with disabilities? Service agencies need to be responsible to the disabled, to the very people they serve. Agencies and services need to be restructured and reorganized. They need to be held responsible to the people they serve. Persons with disabilities need to have more responsibility in self-government to make the decisions where the money comes from and where it is spent. We need real responsibility and power, not just to be consulted on a volunteer basis. We need self-determination. It is time to outgrow the protectionist policies of the past.

We have the technology available, especially computer and medical, as well as bioengineering technology, to enable the disabled to have access to an independent lifestyle with dignity, equal access to jobs, information and education in many fields, but it takes people of vision to put it to productive use in our society.


Disabled persons are persons of value who are able and want to contribute to Canada. We must be allowed the freedom and independence needed to integrate and fulfil our lives before Canada can begin to secure our rightful place in an international economy. We need a simplified model. What we have now is too complex and it allows too many people to slip through the cracks.

Legislated poverty: Raise social assistance rates to at least the poverty line. The Ontario government sets both the minimum wage and social assistance rates. The province has failed to take the nationally set poverty lines into account when they have established these income programs. Many people receive amounts that are less than one half of the poverty line. Basic justice demands that this end immediately. I do not mind being poor so much, but if you doubled my social assistance cheque I would still be below the poverty line. Now that is being poor.

On my 25th birthday my grandmother jokingly remarked, "Only 40 years to go and you will get the old age pension." Being young, I was not impressed with her sense of humour. After all, what difference would it make if I exchanged my family benefits cheque with the old age pension cheque, I thought. I would not be any richer. Little did I know, but if I were to turn 65 today I would be entitled to several hundred dollars more a month than I currently receive on family benefits, the guaranteed annual income system for the disabled. I do not want to wait another 20-plus more years to receive this. I need it now.

I think it is the federal government's rightful place to set standards like the poverty line, but what good is it if the provinces ignore it? Is the federal government doing this just for the sake of making noise? Perhaps they should pack more punch, more power. There is no point in going through the motions unless there is some authority to force the provinces to follow these guidelines. We must carefully balance the power between the federal and provincial levels. On the one hand, we have the wealth and power, and on the other hand, autonomy and responsibility to the people served.

Yes, there have been many advances, concessions made to the needs of disabled persons, but compared to other peoples we are a forgotten people. We have virtually been left out, especially of the 20th century. We need to self-govern the services and agencies that are set up to help us.

No one really knows our needs and abilities like we do. We have been disfranchised. We have the right to self-government. Disabled persons do not have power or control over their own lives. Disabled persons have finally been recognized as having rights, but that has not done all that much toward relieving the problems.

There is much legislation on individual issues covering much of what is needed by the disabled community, but we now need to mould it into a whole unit that will cover all the needs of all the people. I believe that can best be done by disabled persons themselves as they can best understand the failures of the present system and what can be done to improve the situation and prevent people from falling through the cracks.

We want freedom to make choices about our lives and work. All that divides us is an accident or serious illness and it could be any of us. We are the same people. We are concerned about jobs, income security and quality services. In the new global economy we can no longer afford to ignore such a large number of persons willing to work who need the opportunity, education and jobs to help Canada move into the 21st century.

I just want to make a few comments on changes I have seen over the years in people's attitudes. When I was a child, a teenager, if I was out on the street or somewhere in public people would stare at me. They would grab their kids and yank them out of the way because they thought they might catch something from me. I do not see too much difference today, although they now think I am going to run the kids down with my electric wheelchair so they yank them out of the way and run, hide and stare, pat me on the head and make a sickly sweet smile and, you know, just do not treat me like a real person.

However, today, the last few years, I have seen a difference in the children and teenagers. They do not stare at me and ask what is the matter with me. They come up and they talk to me. They ask me what my name is, where I live, what do I do, and the teenagers just talk to me like an ordinary person. I see this as a major improvement and I think it is very important.

The reason for this, I believe, is that there has been some integration in the public schools, the high schools. The disabled children have been going to school with the regular kids so they have been meeting on a day-to-day basis, learning about each other's lives. They are not strangers any more and so they accept us as people now, whereas the older people, the adults, still do not.

We need to be in the community, living, working, playing with our neighbours, with real people, where they can get to know us as real people. This way they will find out I am a real person just like they are. The only difference between me and them is I sit down a lot.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Ms Selby. There is time for a few questions and there are a couple of people wishing to ask questions. Ms Churley, you can lead.

Ms Churley: Thank you very much for your presentation. I think I would like to say, first of all, that it is disabled people like yourself and other hardworking people who have advanced the cause of your rights and I think that you should take some credit for that. I do not believe that you would have the rights you have now and the kinds of advancements that you are talking about were it not for people like yourselves fighting for those rights and making people see that you are ordinary, normal people.

Having said that, as you know, during Meech there were three sets of people -- aboriginal people, women and disabled -- who were on the other side of the barricades, so to speak, in Ottawa in the final days, feeling left out and ignored. I am just wondering if you are feeling some of the same thing. While people get together and talk about amending formulas and throw all these words out, do you think in fact there is a fear that once again real people, ordinary people, people who have particular needs, are going to be left out once again and, if so, what do you think we should do about it?

Ms Selby: I think hearings like this are very important. I guess I was disappointed in watching the events on television that I did not see very many disabled groups or people represented here. It seemed that everybody was giving everybody else a speech, just a repetition of basically two speeches, two subjects. I watched, hoping to find some other people discussing not more important issues, just other equally important issues. I think as we are going to have Canada emerge as a 20th-century country, we are going to have to recognize all people as being of value. Just consulting with us, having us to input when decisions are being made or before they are made, I think is critical.

Ms Churley: You did see a lot of deaf people, though. I think that having Gary sitting with us at the table is helping that community, so I think the next step is to get other disabled people elected to parliaments as well.

Mr Arnott: You mentioned earlier in your brief about transportation problems for disabled people. I know we have made efforts in the past, and often they have been misguided efforts, to enhance transportation networks for disabled people, and transportation issues are very, very important for disabled people if they are to be integrated into the community. Could you describe how some of our transportation things could be expanded to meet your needs better?


Ms Selby: Well, I came here today on DARTS, the Disabled and Aged Regional Transit System, although, by the time I found out when and where I was to come, I called DARTS and they told me that they could not take me, that they were all filled up for today. I went over their heads to somebody else and managed to get a ride, but it was just a last-minute thing. I have learned how to manipulate the system, but a lot of people have not. They do not know and they just live with it. There is a shortage of rides. There is also a lack of flexibility. You have to plan your life at least a week ahead of time.

My friends do not understand that. They say, "Come on, let's go to a show," or something. I cannot. I need a week's notice. They say: "How can you live like that? I could never plan my life like that. I just go when I feel like it." Everything, even a doctor's appointment, you are supposed to get sick a week ahead of time so you can plan your visit to the doctor, which is a little bit difficult. You cannot go out of town unless you are rich. If you charter a bus to go somewhere, it is around $300, $200 a trip both ways, so you do want to be on the wealthy side for that. There are these new Granada coach buses. It only runs from I think it is London or Kitchener to Buffalo and several stops in between. It is very nice, but most of the people I know say: "I would rather it went to Toronto. That is where I want to go and there is no way to get there."

We are very, very limited in what we can do. I cannot even go to Brampton, which is my home, to visit my friends, because it is so complicated. I just do not have the energy most of the time and enough time in advance to arrange co-ordinating from one service to another, arranging dropoff and pickup times and making sure they pick me up and take me on and not leave me sitting at the dropoff point. It just makes our lives so complex that we do not do anywhere near as much as we could.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Ms Selby.


M. le Président : I invite next Patricia Picknell de l'Association canadienne-française de l'Ontario.

Mme Picknell : Merci, Monsieur le Président. L'Association canadienne-française de l'Ontario est heureuse de vous voir ici dans notre ville de l'acier. Me Ryan Paquette, qui m'accompagne, saura nous représenter, nous les quelque 9 000 francophones de la région de Hamilton-Wentworth et nous endossons ses propos.

Cependant, je suis ici car je ne peux pas laisser passer sous silence une anomalie, je dirais même une injustice. Le mandat du comité spécial est clair et je cite : «Que soit créé un comité spécial sur l'Ontario au sein de La Confédération, chargé de procéder à un examen et de présenter un rapport sur les questions suivantes : les aspirations et les intérêts sociaux et économiques de tous les résidents de l'Ontario au sein de la Confédération ; la forme de Confédération qui est la plus apte à satisfaire les aspirations sociales et économiques des résidents de l'Ontario».

Vous nous avez lancé une invitation à parler d'un nouveau Canada, et me voici. Les gens se rendent en grand nombre sur place pour les audiences. Plusieurs autres suivent les discussions à la télé. Je suis une de ceux-là mais après quelques heures il est facile de constater que la place publique semble réservée aux citoyens de langue anglaise. Nous, les citoyens francophones de cette province, nous les Franco-Ontariens qui avons choisi de vivre en Ontario, nous les francophones hors Québec, nous le peuple qui risque d'être le plus pénalisé dans tout ce débat n'avons même pas l'occasion de suivre nos interventions en direct dans notre langue, le français.

Le réseau parlementaire de l'Ontario, ONT.PARL, nous force à écouter une traduction souvent boiteuse lorsque nos propres chefs de file s'adressent à vous en français. Vous nous offrez la possibilité de visionner en reprise les audiences en français au risque de couper mon sommeil car les audiences sont présentées à minuit à la chaîne française. Si je veux m'asseoir devant mon téléviseur à minuit, à une heure du matin, deux heures, trois, quatre heures -- je pourrais me voir cette nuit à la télé.

Monsieur le Président, à titre de citoyenne à part entière je vous pose la question suivante : lorsque nous discutons de la Confédération canadienne qui reconnaît nos droits linguistiques, sommes-nous vraiment servis dans la même mesure que nos compatriotes de langue anglaise ? Laissez-nous au moins écouter à des heures raisonnables nos chefs de file et nos concitoyens de langue française dans notre langue. S'il vous plaît, cessez la traduction, laissez passer la voix des francophones. Merci.

M. Paquette : J'aimerais tout d'abord vous féliciter, ainsi que les membres de votre comité, d'avoir accepte la lourde responsabilité d'étudier le rôle de l'Ontario dans la Confédération. Je veux également vous souhaiter un bon séjour dans notre ville de Hamilton. Aujourd'hui je me présente à titre personnel, en tant qu'avocat franco-ontarien qui pratique le droit à Hamilton depuis plus de 30 ans et dont les origines ancestrales au Canada retournent à 1651, dont les cinq dernières générations en Ontario.

En suivant vos séances à la télévision, j'ai reconnu de la part de certains des intervenants des propos tellement de bigots, tellement racistes, tellement ignorants de notre histoire canadienne que j'ai décidé de me présenter devant vous pour éclaircir la situation. Le fait est que la quasi-totalité de nos concitoyens anglophones ne partage pas ces opinions mesquines. Bien au contraire, en Ontario, malgré l'impression que pourraient laisser ces quelques racistes et bigots, un Franco-Ontarien peut très bien vivre en français tout en étant respecté de ses concitoyens anglophones. La Loi 8 répond aujourd'hui à la quasi-totalité de nos besoins et il ne reste qu'un pas à franchir pour que notre province soit déclarée officiellement bilingue. Je vous exhorterais à considérer d'en faire la demande dans vos recommandations.

Pour ce qui est de la séparation du Québec, personnellement et malgré le déluge d'opinions au contraire, j'en doute sincèrement. Rappelons-nous le dernier référendum. Le peuple québécois est à mon avis fondamentalement canadien. Le compte final des votes du prochain référendum, s'il y en a un, sera certainement plus serré que lors du dernier référendum mais encore, à mon avis le peuple québécois choisira un Canada renouvelé. Et pour ceux qui veulent absolument voir disparaître le bilinguisme au Canada, laissez-moi vous dire que le bilinguisme ne disparaîtra pas nécessairement, même si le Québec se séparait ; et si le Québec se séparait, combien de temps pensez-vous qu'il faudrait pour que le Québec et l'Ontario s'unissent sous une forme ou l'autre et retournent à la situation d'avant 1867 ?


Il est tout à fait dommage que ce comité spécial sur la place de l'Ontario dans la Confédération soit né d'une crise, ou du moins pour prévenir une crise. L'échec du Lac Meech, la disparité régionale et sociale, la crise d'Oka, le traitement réservé aux autochtones, l'aliénation de l'Ouest, le mouvement souverainiste au Québec, ces crises doivent-elles nécessairement remettre en question l'existence même du Canada  ? Sommes-nous vraiment dans une crise existentialiste, ou sommes-nous tout simplement fourvoyés en oubliant notre histoire, nos origines et nos traditions et en subissant les conséquences normales d'un tel oubli ?

Il existe dans l'histoire du Canada des faits historiques indéniables. Premièrement, deux peuples sont venus partager l'espace social au Canada avec les peuples autochtones, l'un d'expression française et l'autre d'expression anglaise. Ces deux peuples sont les peuples fondateurs avec les autochtones, et ces groupes constituent trois communautés nationales qui jouissent de l'égalité du statut de leurs langues.

Deuxièmement, le Québec dans les faits a toujours été et demeure une société distincte. Il faudrait être aveugle ou n'avoir jamais visité le Québec pour ne pas le voir, et pourtant plusieurs en nient le fait.

Un autre point historique : le multiculturalisme. Au Canada toutes les cultures sont égales. Aucune culture prédomine. C'est un fait que dans l'évolution de notre pays nous avons choisi d'en faire un endroit où il fait mieux vivre, et cela non seulement pour ceux qui y sont nés mais aussi pour ceux qui ont choisi d'y élire domicile en adoptant, avec un bilinguisme officiel, une politique multiculturelle. Le Canada veut faire opposition à l'américanisation progressive par une mosaïque multiculturelle. Le Canada veut prévenir le «melting pot» où tous se sont amalgamés. Il faut cependant bien comprendre l'évolution. Le bilinguisme au Canada doit servir de pierre angulaire au multiculturalisme. Il ne faudrait pas que majoritairement les néo-Canadiens de récente et même de longue date refusent tout simplement la dualité linguistique au Canada. Ils refusent surtout la réalité française de cette dualité. Le Canada peut être bilingue, mais son bilinguisme sera fait de l'anglais et de leur langue à eux. Ce n'est pas là le bilinguisme officiel du Canada.

Une dernière réalité historique : les autochtones furent les premiers habitants du pays et conséquemment ils sont chez eux au Canada. La communauté franco-ontarienne à laquelle j'appartiens partage et endosse les aspirations de ses frères autochtones. Elle accepte le principe de leur autodétermination, tant du point de vue gouvernemental qu'éducationnel. Cette autodétermination ne devrait en aucune façon modifier l'unité nationale. Les communautés autochtones constituent des sociétés distinctes et devraient jouir d'un degré d'autonomie leur permettant de gérer leur présent et déterminer leur avenir.

Monsieur le Président, il ne faudrait jamais oublier ces faits historiques et permettre à chacun de les interpréter à sa façon. Mes remarques peuvent vous paraître simplistes, mais pensez-y et évitons la confusion ; enseignons et proclamons clairement l'histoire et les structures de notre pays. Il ne faut pas accommoder notre histoire ou l'interprétation de nos lois pour plaire à un groupe ou à un autre. Dans une société multiculturelle, la tentation de le faire est grande.

J'accepte et j'admets qu'une nation évolue. L'histoire, elle, ne change jamais. La Loi constitutionnelle de notre pays proclame l'égalité juridique de la langue française et la langue anglaise au niveau fédéral et le droit à l'instruction dans la langue de la minorité est enchâssé dans la constitution canadienne. L'histoire du Canada n'a pas commencé en 1991. La plus grande garantie de l'unité et de la cohésion du Canada, c'est d'assurer la sauvegarde et le développement des droits linguistiques sur tout son territoire.

Monsieur le Président, membres du comité spécial, je vous remercie de votre attention et vous souhaite bonne chance et bon courage dans la rédaction de votre rapport final.

M. le Président : Merci, Monsieur Paquette et Madame Picknell. Vous avez soulevé la question de la traduction et je voulais simplement dire que nous sommes conscients de ce problème. Il y a les deux aspects. Il y a d'un côté le fait que la retransmission du réseau parlementaire se fait dans les deux langues, en français et en anglais ; il y a les deux transmissions. La situation est que par la suite c'est aux compagnies de câble de décider laquelle des deux elles vont retransmettre.

Évidemment, dans la plupart des régions de la province, particulièrement dans le sud de la province elles se décident pour la version anglaise. Quant à la chaîne française, ce n'est pas à nous de lui dire quand elle doit ou peut, oui ou non, retransmettre nos réunions. Nous savons qu'il y a là un problème. Je ne sais pas si on peut trouver des solutions immédiates mais on va essayer.

Mme Picknell : Vu que lundi prochain vous vous trouverez à Ottawa et que sûrement plusieurs de nos chefs de file seront à Ottawa, possiblement il y aura des personnes que nous allons reconnaître. Certainement il y a des personnes que nous voulons écouter. Est-ce qu'il ne serait pas possible, pour la dernière semaine, de laisser tomber la traduction pour que nous, francophones, puissions suivre ce que nos francophones ont à dire ? Est-ce que c'est trop à demander à la majorité anglophone qui quand même peut écouter la journée longue ?

M. le Président : Je comprends votre position, madame, et il y a évidemment d'autres situations qu'on doit aussi prendre en considération, mais on va se pencher là-dessus. On va voir si on peut trouver une solution.

Mme Picknell : Merci.

M. le Président : M. Beer avait une question pour vous.

M. Beer : Une chose qui serait aussi à souligner avec ce comité spécial est que c'est la première fois qu'on a un comité roulant, avec la télévision et tout ça. Sans doute à la fin de nos séances il y aura beaucoup de choses que nous allons proposer pour peut-être améliorer ce qu'on fait, mais je pense qu'on comprend très bien ce que vous venez de dire et nous devons trouver une solution.

Je sais que vous deux avez travaillé dans ce domaine très longtemps même si vous êtes très jeunes, mais je reconnais surtout le travail que vous avez fait. Si on peut trouver, en effet, une solution à ce problème qui existe actuellement et que le Québec reste à l'intérieur d'un Canada renouvelé ou quoi que ce soit, avec ce qui se passe depuis les dix, peut-être quinze derniers ans, est-ce que vous êtes optimistes pour l'épanouissement du fait français ici en Ontario ? Je pense que très souvent les gens parlent des francophones de notre province comme étant une sorte de bras du Québec, au lieu de voir qu'il y a une communauté de francophones ici en Ontario qui existe depuis le commencement et que cette communauté veut rester en Ontario et au Canada. Quelles sont vos opinions maintenant sur l'avenir du fait français en Ontario ?

M. Paquette : C'est le point que je voulais faire. Je voulais détruire complètement l'opinion ou l'impression qui pourrait être laissée par certains individus qui, étroits d'esprit, on pourrait dire des extrémistes, laissent l'impression que nous en Ontario souffrons énormément. Nous ne souffrons pas. Nous avons établi la gamme quasi-totale de nos besoins.

La Loi 8, une loi relativement récente, nous aide énormément. Nous sommes établis chez nous. Nous sommes chez nous. Mes parents, mes aïeux y sont depuis plus de 200 ans. Nous sommes chez nous ; nous nous sentons chez nous. Nous n'avons pas de problèmes majeurs. Nous avons travaillé avec une certaine ardeur pour établir et gagner les gains politiques que nous avons gagnés. Mais c'est avec une harmonie, une entente. Il n'existe pas ce grand dilemme, ce grand combat. C'est insultant même de parler de survivance ; on peut parler d'épanouissement si vous voulez. Est-ce que ça répond à votre question ?

M. Beer : Oui, merci.



M. le Président : J'appelle maintenant Rosaire Provencher et Henri Bigras.

M. Provencher : L'Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens et la direction de l'école secondaire Georges-P.-Vanier remercient la commission Silipo de leur donner l'occasion de répondre au questionnaire du gouvernement sur la place de l'Ontario dans la Confédération. L'AIEFO, unité secondaire de Hamilton, regroupe les enseignants et enseignantes qui oeuvrent dans les classes de langue française de l'école secondaire Georges-P.-Vanier de Hamilton.

Le Canada est à un moment décisif et déterminant de son histoire. Nous félicitons le gouvernement de l'Ontario d'avoir pris l'initiative de consulter d'une façon démocratique ses citoyens et citoyennes avant de prendre des décisions de grande envergure.

L'avenir d'un Canada tel que nous l'avons connu est en jeu. Nous observons dans ce pays, depuis quelques années, des événements déconcertants sur la scène politique, socioéconomique et culturelle, tant au niveau national qu'au niveau provincial : l'échec du Lac Meech, les disparités régionales et sociales, la crise d'Oka, le traitement réservé aux autochtones, l'aliénation de l'Ouest. Il y a aussi le chômage, la surtaxation de la population, l'augmentation incessante des sans-abri et des banques de nourriture ainsi que le mouvement souverainiste au Québec. Tout ceci remet en question l'existence du Canada.

Mesdames et messieurs les commissaires, en tant qu'enseignants et enseignantes oeuvrant avec les jeunes, nous avons raison de nous inquiéter. Pour cette raison nous aimerions vous faire part des conclusions que nous avons tirées lors de nos discussions avec nos membres, avec nos jeunes et avec d'autres organismes francophones de notre communauté. Nous croyons que l'Ontario peut et doit jouer un rôle prépondérant dans deux domaines : premièrement, dans le rapprochement des différentes régions du pays. En effet, sa réputation de grande puissance économique et son attraction industrielle font que l'Ontario a moins de revendications fondamentales à formuler et peut ainsi jouer un rôle de médiateur ; deuxièmement, dans le rapprochement des différentes communautés. Avec un demi-million de francophones, de nombreux groupes multiculturels et de nombreuses communautés autochtones, l'Ontario est bien placé pour signaler l'importance de maintenir des liens étroits et fructueux entre les différents éléments de sa communauté.

Nous aimerions que notre gouvernement joue un rôle de leadership et soit un modèle dans la création d'un Canada plus démocratique : premièrement, en déclarant que les communautés francophone, anglophone et autochtones ont égalité de statut en Ontario ; deuxièmement, en déclarant un Ontario bilingue et en faisant la promotion de la dualité linguistique autant dans sa propre province que dans le Canada entier ; troisièmement, en oeuvrant au plan économique à la création d'une économie plus indépendante de notre puissant voisin du sud, en développant une technologie canadienne. Dans ce but, nous suggérons que le gouvernement ontarien investisse davantage dans le domaine de l'éducation, en particulier que le gouvernement redresse les torts faits à nos jeunes francophones par l'absence de collèges communautaires de langue française, en créant des collèges tels que décrits par la firme ACORD.

Nous vous invitons ici à revoir les grandes études sur les problèmes auxquels font face les jeunes francophones tels que présentés dans le rapport Churchill et le rapport de la commission Bourdeau sur les services collégiaux en français dans les centres du sud-ouest de l'Ontario. Nous espérons grandement que leurs recommandations soient mises en oeuvre -- notre quatrième recommandation -- en créant un conseil scolaire homogène de langue française.

En réponse au document de consultation, Changement et renouveau, je vais laisser M. Bigras faire quelques commentaires.

M. Bigras : Nous les enseignantes et les enseignants croyons que les communautés autochtones constituent des sociétés distinctes et on devrait tout faire aux niveaux économique et politique pour aider les autochtones, surtout la jeunesse parce qu'on oeuvre avec les jeunes. Vis-à-vis du Québec, nous acceptons volontiers que le Québec est une société distincte qui est reconnue et acceptée par le reste du Canada.

Le fait que certains pouvoirs distincts seront à l'avenir rapatriés au Québec ne lésera pas les droits des citoyens de l'Ontario. Au contraire, nous estimons que l'unité du peuple canadien avec le Québec se solidifierait si on répondait avec sincérité et efficacité aux besoins particuliers perçus et vécus des Québécois. Vis-à-vis du multiculturalisme on dit oui, c'est très important, mais pas juste faire semblant. Pour vraiment que tout le monde ait un emploi, que tout le monde travaille -- c'est lorsque ça va mal au niveau économique que le racisme sort, qu'on blâme les groupes ethniques qu'ils soient francophones, Italiens, Juifs etc. Donc, vraiment au niveau économique on vise le plein emploi.

En conclusion, et je pense ici que c'est très important, nous signalons que les Franco-Ontariennes et les Franco-Ontariens, en dépit de tout changement au niveau national, sont ici pour rester et pour s'épanouir. On est des Ontariens ; on va rester ici. Il n'y a personne qui va nous mettre dehors. Notre contribution est et sera toujours historique. Nous souhaitons qu'en retour nos droits soient ancrés et protégés de façon authentiquement légale et constitutionnelle. À ce moment critique de l'histoire de notre pays, l'Ontario doit jouer un rôle de leadership dans la définition d'un nouveau Canada juste et démocratique. Là-dessus on vous remercie de nous avoir donné la parole.



The Chair: We are going to hear next from two groups of students, the first from Barton Secondary School. There is Jim Ruddle, principal of the school, and some students who are here.

Mr Ruddle: Mr Chairman, we have three student speakers, Gillian Sewell, Erica Lowartz and Cung Nguyen.

The Chair: We are going to have to ask you to use one of the microphones.

Mr Nguyen: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Cung, and along with me today are Erica and Gillian. We are here from Barton Secondary School to represent Barton and to express our concern for the future of Canada.

Politically, there is no doubt that federalism should be what Canada is heading towards. However, national unity cannot be repaired by simply trying to appease the nationalists in Quebec. It is true that the political structure of Canada and the distribution of power need to be reformed, but Quebec's demand for transfer of powers from the federal government to the provincial government is not the answer.

If the powers of the federal government are limited, Ottawa will become nothing more than just the central bank of the country and its national borders. If each province held more power than the federal government, it would mean political chaos in Canada because every time Ottawa passed legislation, it would need the approval of all 10 provinces to become law. With 10 different governments, I am sure that there will always be one government or two or even three that are going to disagree and therefore veto the legislation. If this happens with every single legislation, the needs of Canadians will not be addressed and will not be dealt with properly.

With 10 different governments, Canada becomes like a mini-commonwealth. Instead of being one country, we are 10 countries under one small empire. There would be no room for nationhood then. Instead of having a national Olympic team, we will probably have 10 different ones. The CBC would not exist any more because it has been the instrument that has kept Canadians united from sea to sea since it was first instituted.

Canada needs a strong central government to govern and direct Canada. We need a strong central government to lead us into the future. What is more, a strong central government will make our negotiating position at the international level stronger.

Being the world leader of peacekeeping, we have a lot of influence on many other nations, as indicated by our involvement with the United Nations. I think that if we show some compassion and understanding towards one another, our constitutional differences can be solved. As one country, Canada can overcome any obstacles and any challenges that get in our way, as we have done collectively for 124 years.

Canada has been a refuge for many different cultural groups. As a result, we have become known to the world as a mosaic culture, a country where different groups and different people are encouraged to preserve their way of life. Why are we not preserving this haven then? It is something that we should be proud of as a Canadian identity.

In 1978 my parents had the choice of going to the United States or Canada. Back then I did not know why they chose Canada, but I know now and I am glad they made the right decision. I have been in Canada for two thirds of my life. I am a Canadian citizen and Canada is my homeland. I think I speak for many people when I say that if Quebec leaves, I will feel a personal loss.

Ms Lowartz: We are all Canadians and Canadians have a unique identity, different from all others. Our economy is also unique. We have a small population but an extremely powerful economy. We are second only to Japan in economic growth in the world between 1984 to 1989. We belong to the Group of Seven leading industrialized Countries.

During the period of 1984 to 1989, we were the top country in job creation and had the second highest per capita income. Canadian households had an average income of $50,000 in 1989. Canada is drastically improving. We should ask ourselves: Why ruin Canada now by letting Quebec leave? If Quebec leaves, will we belong to the group of 77, along with Guatemala, rather than being in the Group of Seven?

Personally, I am proud to be a Canadian. Our economy is very well off. Like my two friends here, I was born in Canada, and I have known no other than being Canadian. I would feel very lost if -- it would be like losing a part of my background, losing a part of my history.

As Prime Minister Brian Mulroney said last week, "Canadians today are concerned with the economy, but in the end economic prosperity depends on national unity." There is a strong connection between the economy and the Constitution. Canada will work if we adopt economic policies that will cause people to work with one another and give themselves some central goals.

During 1989 Ontario exported $16 billion of goods to Quebec. The trade between these two provinces supplied 200,000 people with jobs. If Quebec separates, will these 200,000 people, with spouses and children who need to be fed, lose their jobs?

Canada receives a lot of income from tourism. There would be many problems going to Quebec to visit relatives or friends or just for vacation. Some people would not want to go through the hassle of getting a passport, currency changed and border troubles. This will cause Quebec to lose money in travel and tourism. Also, Quebec's neighbours, Ontario and New Brunswick, would lose money in the same field.

Who would pay for use of the St Lawrence River, Quebec or Canada? The St Lawrence Seaway is in Quebec's boundaries but Canada built it. Would either of us want to go through the hassle of paying to use it? We both need it to import goods from outside our continent. Also, would we have tariffs on goods coming across the border and are we willing to pay them?

Quebec depends on the rest of Canada and Canada depends on the rest of Quebec. Should we be willing to give up Quebec? Should Quebec be willing to give Canada up? These are questions we should examine before we lose something unique, special and valuable.

Ms Sewell: To start, I would like to borrow a few words from a famous 20th-century politician: "Only in winter can you tell which trees are truly green. Only when the winds of adversity blow can you tell whether an individual or a country has courage and steadfastness."

We as Canadians are starting to come upon troubled times. The fact that one of our provinces may separate appals and saddens me. It is only in a time of despair and uncertainty that the true colours of a person or a country are revealed. The cowardly answer to this problem presently facing us would be to say, "Let them go."

I speak from experience when I say it is much easier to work out our differences now than later. I was not born a Canadian. I was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and my mother and father chose Canada as a place to live, raise a young family and start a new life. Most natural Canadians do not know how lucky they are to live in a country that protects people's rights, freedoms and cultural differences.

Canada is known to be a cultural mosaic that has pieced together many different cultures and religions into one happy country. Many people choose to come to this great land knowing their differences will be accepted, respected and even protected. I think it is this attitude that makes Canadians especially unique, each of us in our own way, yet each of us Canadian. My own feelings are that I will always have strong ties to Ireland and that I will always be British, but first and foremost I am Canadian. I chose to become a Canadian citizen and am very proud to say so.

What will happen to Canada if Quebec separates? Will attitudes on both sides of a new border harden if there are no incentives to co-exist? Canadians would experience a backlash towards minorities across all of Canada. This would include the English-speaking people in Quebec, the more than one million French-speaking people outside of Quebec, as well as disabled and the aboriginal people.

Because I have experienced this type of cultural trouble before, I speak truly from the heart when I say I do not want Quebec to separate. I am not saying that if they do we will see any of the bloodshed the people of Northern Ireland have, but I do not want to experience the division of a great country or the growing pains associated with a new one.

There may be problems with our country's Constitution and policies, especially on the subject of minority rights, but I hope they can be worked out and Canada can remain Canada, because without Quebec it just would not be the same.

A recent Maclean's poll has shown that most Canadians do not want Quebec to leave but they cannot find a way to tell Quebeckers not to do so. It does not need to be complicated. It just needs to be done. To all my fellow Canadians, I ask you to join together now, because the loss of even one member of our family would be a tragedy.

Uni le Canada prospérera, séparé il s'écroulera.

United, Canada will stand, and only divided will we fall.

The Chair: Thank you very much for your presentation. There are a couple of questions.


Mr Bisson: It is always heartening to know that our younger generation is going to maybe do a better job than we have done, from the deliberations we have heard from young people coming before us. With a little emotion, what you are saying is -- let me preface it this way: there is a certain amount of fixation vis-à-vis some of the problems we are having in our country regarding the Constitution and everything in relation to Quebec, and we need to recognize that there are other parts in Canada that also have problems and want to address certain questions. The western provinces are also saying they want to have certain provisions within the Constitution that would protect their rights as westerners, and have an equal voice. We talk about a triple E Senate. There is a number of issues that need to be addressed.

First of all, part of the problem is that we tend to fixate on the bad things happening right now, to the point where we are building resistance, that nobody is going to want to talk to each other if we keep going in this direction; recognizing there are some problems, yes, there are people who have pretty strong views on both sides, but if we keep the rhetoric going, maybe we are not going to be able to solve those problems.

The second thing is that when you spoke initially -- I did not catch your name, the gentleman on the left.

Mr Nguyen: Cung.

Mr Bisson: Tim?

Mr Nguyen: Cung.

Mr Bisson: I worked underground for many years, so I can hardly hear it.

The other thing is that you said we cannot be in a position of giving any provinces special powers. The reality is that there are provinces out there asking for exactly that to happen. Not only Quebec -- other people are saying we need to have provisions within our Constitution that redefine some of the existing powers we have now and make them clearer so provinces could better control the regionalism and the reality of regionalism in each area. The question I am asking is: How far do we go? Recognizing you need to have a strong central government, but on the other hand you need to have a government that is closer to the people with regard to regional differences, to be able to deal adequately with the problems, how far do we go?

Mr Nguyen: In 1864, the Fathers of Confederation gathered in Charlottetown to discuss a unified Canada. Back then, there were three different regions of Canada: Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes. We were having a political stalemate because nobody, no government or no party, could get enough of a majority to govern the country, and every time one party wanted to pass legislation the others disagreed, and we had to go through the elections. If it did not work before, I do not know why it would work again.

In answer to your question of how far we would go to providing regional representation, I think one of the answers is that the Senate should be an elected body and it should be representative regionally, evenly.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Thank you so much for coming. You really have brought a very different perspective. I do not think we have had quite the mix, and certainly we want as many young people as possible.

I am wondering -- a very short question, first -- have you used the discussion paper we have at Barton? Did you use it at all?

Interjection: I do not know.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I hope you will take a look at it. I think you will find it interesting, and I certainly feel it has a lot of meat in it that you could deal with.

You have spoken with a great deal of compassion yourselves, certainly with understanding. You have asked the real questions. I have not heard yet a practicality. I am wondering if you could say something about what either you think you could do to engender more compassion and understanding or what you think this committee could do, or a little of both.

Mr Nguyen: I am not exactly sure, but I have the view that our crisis is being caused right now by everybody saying each group has a certain right. Why do those people not ask: What about Canada's right? What about Canada as a nation? Forget that each group has to be recognized as distinct or special. Why do they not just put their feelings aside, or that one view they have, and unite together under the same flag and try to save Canada?

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Would the girls have a comment?

Ms Lowartz: I believe there should be total equality, that there should be no division of any minorities. Personally, I want to go into the police force, and right now I know they are only letting in certain minorities because they say there are too many white males in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. I believe anything like that should not be allowed. A person should be judged on their ability; not their outsides, but really their insides.

Ms Sewell: As far as the cultural groups and the groups that are "special" are concerned, I think most people realize they are special. It is an issue that needs to be addressed. Quebec, I think, is just bringing forth the issue in front of everyone else, but I think they speak for a lot of groups when they come forward and say, "We want these rights." I think they do deserve them.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Thank you for your insights.

The Chair: Thank you very much for your presentation.


M. le Président : The second group of students is from l'école secondaire Georges-P.-Vanier. Je voudrais inviter Annie Lefebvre, Patrick Perron et Philippe Kotacka à nous adresser La parole.

M. Kotacka : Bonjour. Je m'appelle Philippe Kotacka. Je représente la minorité allophone et ceux qui ne sont pas d'origine française ou québécoise de mon école secondaire Georges-P.-Vanier.

Je voudrais en premier remercier ce comité de me donner l'occasion de leur adresser la parole. Je sais que je parle pour beaucoup d'autres lorsque je dis que ce genre de forum est un exemple de la démocratie en pleine vigueur. En gros, je suis ici pour partager avec vous une simple expérience personnelle qui enfin pourrait peut-être servir d'exemple pour bien d'autres.

I have been raised in neither a French nor English household, but a Czech one. My parents, who do not speak French, decided to immerse me in the French education system and culture. Today, I am very thankful of their decision.

I began my school experience in a French immersion program. I had not always been so fond of being different, and this was very hard for me. These feelings stem from various factors which involved how I was treated. At times, certain people resented me for the reasons that I went to a different school as well as not being able to speak proper English. Sometimes, I wished I could be just like everyone else and forget about French altogether. Yet, with perseverance and the realization that others were in the same situation as I, I was sure some good would come of it.

Depuis mon entrée dans une école totalement française, mes vues personnelles ont change. J'ai aperçu que la situation et l'atmosphère étaient totalement différentes. Maintenant, j'ai rencontré un nouveau problème : celui d'être accepté par les francophones. Je voulais tellement maîtriser la langue française pour faire partie de leur grande famille, mais encore, il m'ont perçu comme un étranger. Avec le temps et la tolérance des deux côtés, on s'est mutuellement acceptés.

Now attending Georges-P-Vanier secondary school, I find all these problems rarely recur. My fellow students, who are mostly of francophone origin, have totally accepted me, as well as me accepting them. We have learned to laugh together at the subtle differences of our unique cultures. We have learned to work together to help each other, if necessary. We always try to set aside our ideological differences and our cultural barriers in order to maintain good relations and an almost family-like atmosphere.

J'ai appris aujourd'hui que si les francophones ont pu m'accepter, m'adopter totalement dans leur famille scolaire avec grande tolérance de mon français anglicisé, nous pouvons apprendre à tolérer d'autres cultures. De mon expérience personnelle, j`ai la conviction que les gens de notre pays peuvent vivre en harmonie. Merci.

Mlle Lefebvre : Permettez-moi de me présenter, je m'appelle Annie Lefebvre. Je suis étudiante à l'école secondaire Georges-P.-Vanier et je représente le cycle senior. Je suis présentement en onzième année.

J'aimerais pour débuter remercier le gouvernement néo-démocrate et la commission Silipo de m'avoir donné la chance d'être ici parmi vous aujourd'hui, et aussi d'avoir pris en considération la voix et l'opinion des gens de cette province et surtout d'avoir reconnu les minorités linguistiques dont le français. Ceci est une preuve de la démocratie en marche en Ontario.

En plus, je voudrais souligner le but de ma présence aujourd'hui. Je ne suis pas venue ici pour faire la morale ni pour débiter des statistiques innombrables, mais seulement pour parler de tout mon coeur au sujet du futur de ma province, et de mon pays qui pour tant d'années a veillé sur mon bien-être et ma sûreté.

Étant francophone originaire du Québec, je n'ai pas eu vraiment de complications en ce qui était de ma carrière scolaire, et je pouvais m'exprimer dans ma langue maternelle, qui était le français, à l'école Notre-Dame aussi bien qu'en anglais lorsqu'il s'agissait de sortir de la maison. J'ai cru que m'exprimer en français aurait été plus facile lorsque la Loi 8 fut mise en vigueur, donnant aux francophones les services en français dont ils avaient besoin. Mais hélas, cette Loi n'obligeait pas toutes les villes de devenir bilingues ou même d'appliquer cette Loi dans leur municipalité.

Donc, à ce moment, certaines villes du Nord se sont déclarées unilingues anglophones, ce qui rendait l'idéal de tout francophone encore moins accessible. Pourtant, le Canada a été fondé par deux langues et l'assimilation des francophones fut imminente autant en 1800 qu'aujourd'hui. Nous voulons seulement nous faire une place dans ce pays car nous la méritons. Nos ancêtres normands se sont forcés et ont travaillé autant que les Anglais pour se bâtir une vie et se bâtir un pays dont ils seraient fiers. Si seulement nous pouvions nous unir pour parler d'une seule voix constituée de deux ou plusieurs langues, nous pourrions accomplir tellement de merveilleuses choses. Car, comme le proverbe le dit, c'est en nombre qu'on peut acquérir le pouvoir dont nous avons tous besoin pour faire honneur à notre réputation d'être un pays où la paix et l'honneur règnent.

Nous vivons dans an pays où règne la démocratie et où vivent les gens les plus extraordinaires du monde. Le fait qu'un grand nombre de personnes peuvent s'exprimer en deux langues ou plus est un avantage. Je ne veux forcer personne de parler ma langue mais nous devrions être fiers que les francophones hors Québec peuvent garder une place ici et vivre en harmonie avec le reste des citoyens.

I would like to thank the government here, and I would like to live and grow within an environment that recognizes that I am a French-speaking citizen and that I, as well as any other citizen, have unalterable rights. As I have stated before, the right to express in my mother tongue is unalterable. Bilingualism and multiculturalism should go hand in hand. After all, we are in a country which has been greatly appreciated and renowned for its recognition of different citizens coming from varying backgrounds.

M. Perron : Bonjour. Laissez-moi me présenter, je m'appelle Patrick Perron. Je suis un Franco-Ontarien. Je suis ici aujourd'hui pour représenter ma classe de français an niveau du cours préuniversitaire de l'Ontario. Nous aimerions remercier le gouvernement de l'Ontario et tous ceux qui ont fait un effort pour rendre ces paroles possibles.

Laissez-moi vous décrire ce qu'est un Franco-Ontarien. Un Franco-Ontarien est un citoyen de l'Ontario dont la langue maternelle est le français. Dans notre région, c'est-à-dire dans le sud de l'Ontario, un Franco-Ontarien parle aussi l'anglais mais dans le nord et l'est, dans les régions d'Ottawa et Sudbury, il est possible qu'il parle seulement le français. C'est donc pourquoi je vais faire ce discours en français et en anglais.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce myself. My name is Patrick Perron. I am a Franco-Ontarian. I am here today to represent my French class of the OAC level. We would like to thank the Ontario government and all the people who made the effort to make this forum possible. Before I begin, I would like to outline what a Franco-Ontarian is. A Franco-Ontarian is a citizen of Ontario whose mother tongue is French. In the southern peninsula, a Franco-Ontarian will also speak English. In the north and in the east, a Franco-Ontarian may also speak French.

La francophonie est en danger. Las Franco-Ontariens représentent seulement 5% de la population ontarienne. La Loi 8 qui fut introduite par David Peterson en 1986, permettant aux francophones d'avoir les mêmes droits provinciaux que les anglophones, malheureusement cette Loi n'oblige pas les communautés d'adopter le bilinguisme. A La fin de l'année 1989 et au début de l'année 1990, plusieurs villes ontariennes se proclamèrent anglaises seulement. Au mois de décembre de l'année passée le poste de télévision de Radio-Canada fut éliminé a Toronto. A cause de cette décision, nous ne pouvons plus maintenant regarder les nouvelles de La région, nous sommes obliges de regarder celles d'Ottawa. A cause des défauts dans La Loi 8 et des coupures de La Société Radio-Canada, nous sommes en train de perdre nos liens d'information avec la culture française. Nous sommes en train de nous faire assimilés. We are being assimilated.

Anglophone, francophone, c'est quoi La différence ? Nous sommes tons des Canadiens ; il est illogique pour notre pays de se battre. Nous avons déjà ouvert nos portes a des millions d'immigrants. Notre pays est bâti sur le multiculturalisme. Si tons les gens de notre beau pays parlaient les deux langues, il n'y aurait pas de tensions et les problèmes seraient vite oubliés. L'année prochaine le Québec propose de se séparer du Canada. Nous comme Franco-Ontariens devons nous poser les questions suivantes que va-t-il nous arriver après La séparation du Québec ? Est-ce que le français au Canada va devenir une minorité, pas une langue officielle ? Nous ne voulons pas que le Québec se sépare, nous voulons rester un pays, pas deux. Nous voulons garder nos droits. Nous n'avions pas les demandes du Québec pour rester dans le pays. La Québec est déjà une société distincte, un simple coup d'oeil vous le dira. Si les demandes du Québec sont exécutées, toutes les autres provinces vont ensuite les exiger a leur tour.

Our economy is in danger. There are many things we can change that will improve Canadian standards. We would like to know why there are not enough jobs. Instead of paying people welfare, why do we not give them an education? After all, it is a lack of organization in the system that brought them there. We must break down the trade barriers in between the provinces. We must invest in our own technologies instead of our neighbour's technologies.

We also feel that bilingualism should play a bigger part in the job market. It would bring harmony between the two groups. Due to the free trade agreement between the United States and Canada we are losing more and more jobs. Companies move to the United States or merge with larger American companies. Now Mexico is in a separate free trade deal with the US. What will happen to us as Canadians?

Nous ne devons pas oublier les autochtones. Ce n'est pas les Français ni les Anglais qui ont fondé ce pays, c'est les autochtones. L'affaire de Confédération les a poussés dans de petites réserves, leur a enlevé leurs droits et leur culture, leur mode de vie. Nous croyons que les autochtones devraient avoir leur propre gouvernement. Ils ne sont pas des enfants. Ce n'est pas juste qu'ils soient obligés de s'assimiler. Après tout, c'est leur terre aussi.

In Ontario our grandparents and our parents had to fight so that we could get French schools. As it stands now, we have two bilingual universities, four bilingual colleges and one French college. In Hamilton there is nothing to satisfy our thirst for knowledge -- in French, that is. It recently came to my attention that a French college was to be built in Mississauga, but due to the lack of funding the project was scrapped or put aside. Is that what education means to you?

What we want out of Ontario is simple. We want a just province and a just country. We want rights given to our natives. We want our own French culture and means of communication. We want a green Ontario. We want a province with great economic strength, both worldwide and nationwide. We are the future of this country and these are our rights and this is what we ask of you.

Ce que nous voulons est très simple. Nous voulons un pays égal. Nous voulons un pays juste envers les autochtones et les autres cultures. Nous voulons une culture française et des liens d'information en français. Nous voulons une province qui est forte dans l'économie mondiale et fédérale. Nous voulons une province qui s'occupe de l'environnement. Nous sommes le futur de ce pays et voici ce que nous vous demandons. Merci beaucoup. Thank you very much.

M. le Président : Merci. Are there questions? Une question ? Monsieur Beer.

M. Beer : Merci beaucoup. Vous êtes ici a Hamilton et dans cette région les francophones sont certainement entourés d'anglophones et la culture est vraiment, pour la plupart, de langue anglaise. Je pense qu'une question qui pourrait être intéressante pour tout le monde est : comment voyez-vous l'avenir du fait français dans cette région ? Est-ce que vous avez l'intention de rester ou envisagez-vous d'aller a Ottawa on a Sudbury pour suivre des cours an niveau postsecondaire ? Quels sont vos points de vue sur L'épanouissement du fait français dans cette région?


M. Perron : Pour l'éducation, j'ai l'intention d'aller a Sudbury, mais pour vivre, après l'université j'ai l'intention de revenir vivre ici. Si le Québec se sépare, comme francophone je pense qu'on n'a pas grand espoir, on est une minorité et ça va être tout.

Mlle Lefebvre : Grâce a L'input des écoles d'immersion, je crois qu'on va rester tout de même une minorité mais il va toujours y avoir quelques petits francophones qui vont essayer de dire leurs opinions et qui vont essayer de mettre leurs deux cents dans la conversation.

Mr Kotacka: Twelve cents.

M. le Président : Autres questions ? Mrs Witmer.

Mrs Witmer: Thank you very much. I appreciated your presentation. You talked about multiculturalism and bilingualism going hand in hand, I think, in your final statement. How do you see that going hand in hand?

Ms Lefebvre: I come from a different background and any Jewish person who comes here from a different background, and a Czechoslovakian coming from a different background, will bring his different language and try to integrate it within his country. So I think that if bilingualism is instated in the country, other languages will also try to bring up their own businesses, their own industries and we will all be able to grow from that, if we can all learn how to live with different cultures and different languages.

Mrs Witmer: But are you not saying, though, the expectation is that those people would also learn French and English?

Ms Lefebvre: Yes.

Mrs Witmer: So they would actually know three languages.

Ms Lefebvre: Yes. That would be even better.

Mrs Witmer: I think that is an important point. So what you are looking at is bilingualism, plus the third language that they have brought with them to this country.

Ms Lefebvre: Yes. That would be an advantage to us, I think.

Mrs Witmer: Because when you talk about bilingualism, then, you are not talking about their native language and French or their native language and English; you are talking about English and French.

Ms Lefebvre: Basically, yes.

Mrs Witmer: Okay.

Ms Lefebvre: But if other countries come, they will learn from us and in turn we will learn from them, so maybe later on we will become -- is that a word, polylingual? More than two.

The Chair: Multilingual.

Ms Lefebvre: Okay, multilingual. I think that we would just be kicking butt. Sorry.

Mr Bisson: There we go -- input. I think Five Alive said that. Obviously I never made it as a comedian, so they threw me into politics. And that is questionable at this point.

Okay, to the young man on the left, just to share with you, what you expressed in regard to sort of the transition that you make in, you know, your first language going into a second language, I think I need to say that it is not something unique that you felt. My first language being French, it is also something that I had to go through when I went through learning my second language, which is English.

The question is that what you are basically saying is that you feel as if you have been enriched by it. What can you say to people out there who are so resistant to the whole question of bilingualism, the whole question of learning a second language? What can you say to them to encourage them or to try to get them to understand?

Mr Kotacka: I think that before people start re-establishing this country politically we should really try to understand one another on a cultural level. I have been able to do it and my friends here have accepted me and they are francophone, so I think it is very possible. It is not always easy, of course. I have mentioned, of course, in the beginning it was not easy and I did not like it, but you kind of have to rough it out, and it works out in the end.

Mr Bisson: No scars in the end? Show you have no scars.

The Chair: Thank you very much. Merci.


The Chair: Can I call next Anthony Bratschitsch, and I apologize for the mispronunciation.

Mr Bratschitsch: The dissolution of Canada is not and will not be imminent if we examine our basic values, define each region's needs and establish a national agenda to ensure the survival of our Canadian heritage. In other words, we are now called upon to do the same things that our fathers of Confederation were required to do in the 1860s, and because they did their job well examining values, defining regional needs and establishing a national agenda, Confederation has worked extremely well.

However, it appears today that our heritage is threatened while the federal government vacillates in trying to re-establish its credibility to all the regions of Canada. Therefore, the province of Ontario has a historical obligation today to assume a leadership role in the reinforcing of the understanding of the mutual benefits of Confederation, as it did over 120 years ago when there was no federal government as we know it today.

The threat to Confederation comes from different factions within Quebec and is based on some real concerns and on some misconceptions. To ensure survival, Canadians must address those real concerns, which for the most part pertain to the propagation of the French Canadian identity. It is easy to identify, prove and justify that the French Canadian identity was, is and will be necessary to ensure the survival of Canadian Confederation.

As effectively, we must identify and disprove those misconceptions that are now attempting to tear Confederation apart.

First, Ontario must prepare a message to Quebec and to the other members of Confederation solidifying its views of Quebec's status. As it was at the time of Confederation, Quebec society today is fairly homogeneous, and of course it wants to remain so. Today about 85% of Quebeckers are of French origin. They are descendants of an enduring breed of people who first colonized Canada. They explored it, they mapped it, they settled upon it, they made treaties, fought battles and paid their heritage with their courage, sweat and blood. These people established an enduring identity that survived when their ties with France were cut off in 1759, and this enduring identity still prevails throughout all parts of Canada. This identity is an important part of Canada's composition. It is a strength and not a weakness and it is in Canada's best interests to honour and respect its French Canadian presence.

While many Canadians outside of Quebec believe that the French Canadian culture is such a strong and vibrant society, that in itself assures it of its survival. It is not unreasonable for Quebec to request certain definitions and guarantees to be written into a Constitution. This expectation is not only reasonable, but it is a continuation of the spirit of Confederation, an old promise that is still as important today as it was yesterday.

Ontario's task is to ensure that Quebec understands our sincerity. Only then can we work together to dispel the following dangerous misconceptions. There are many commissions, reports, polls and other forms of sentiments within Quebec that allude towards the dissolution of Confederation. Many Quebec fingers are being pointed towards antifrancophone hotbeds that exist in this nation, but anyone can build a case to prove any point. Assurances are being given that Quebec can survive and even prosper as a sovereign state, but this is not true, for both Quebec and the rest of Canada would suffer dearly.

Perhaps more than anything else, the Allaire report embodies the most dangerous and misleading concepts that threaten our heritage. This report calls for the deconfederation of Canada and it bases its findings on the wrong premises. Ontario must counter the Allaire report with its own statement that examines our basic values, defines regional needs and re-establishes our Canadian heritage. Ontario must disprove the basis of the Allaire report and in view of misleading information, it must show the people of Quebec the real value of the economic folly that would envelop their society should they decide to deconfederate.

The Allaire report represents a sentiment in Quebec that Confederation was originally a partnership between two nations, not an agreement among individual provinces, which is a general conception held outside of Quebec. It espouses a view that Quebeckers are vulnerable to a federal government where they are not justifiably represented. The Allaire report dictates a take-it-or-leave-it demand, with deconfederation of Canada as the only alternative.

When the British North America Act was passed in 1867, a league of four colonies was confederated into the Dominion of Canada for political and economic reasons, mainly to define and accept an understanding of goals and differences, to promote east-west trade within those provinces and to counter American influences.

In 1871, it was determined that 92% of Canada's population was directly related to either British or French origins. British Columbia had entered Confederation that year, Manitoba did so the previous year and Prince Edward Island was about to do so two years hence. Meanwhile, the Americans were also well entrenched in their expansion programs, frantically incorporating new states and territories through a dual nature process that eventually led to morbid consequences. In a bid to maintain or improve their influence, the north and the south wrestled with each other to designate the status of each new state as either abolitionist or slave state.


On the other hand, Canada had no need and it had no jurisdiction to designate each new province as either anglophone or francophone. Acceptance into Confederation provided each province with more autonomy than any new state would obtain by joining the United States. Our country was established on a principle of mutual acceptance of the British and French cultures and our uprisings of 1831 and the Red River rebellion pale in comparison to the American Civil War and the Indian conflicts.

As Canada grew, it changed. In 1986, our census showed that only 58% of all Canadians were of British or French origin. Yet Quebec's enduring identity remained fairly homogeneous. Our Fathers of Confederation examined and understood the values of the day. They had provided for the heritage that we currently enjoy. The Allaire report does not give credit to our forefathers and certainly does not provide any insight to the future.

Of the 55 Quebec members of the federal government's party caucus, 13 of them are cabinet ministers, filling over one third of the 38 cabinet positions. Another 24 Quebec caucus members carry influential status as chairpersons or vice-chairpersons of powerful committees, or are parliamentary secretaries. It would appear that the federal government has endeavoured to represent Quebec's interests and concerns in our national legislature.

Ontario must inform the people of Quebec of the consequences of deconfederation. Common sense dictates that sovereignty association is not viable. Divorcees do not share the same bank account. Likewise, the remaining provinces of Canada and Quebec would have separate currencies, separate debts and separate credit ratings. While both disaffected parties would suffer, the people of Quebec would probably encounter more of a serious economic setback.

In Quebec consumer debt, business debt and provincial debt total almost $150 billion, not including the $90-billion portion of its national debt. At face value, this would make a Quebecker the most indebted person in the world. Even worse, deconfederation would leave Quebec only with its own currency, which would probably not have the market value of the present Canadian dollar. As it is, Canada is already in bad financial shape. Deconfederation would hurt all Canadians and it appears that it would put Quebec, and maybe the rest of Canada, into an abysmal financial condition.

The effects of the Allaire report and other commissions, polls, etc, only serve to further alienate Quebeckers from other Canadians and to accelerate the forces that strain the bonds of Confederation.

I can personify this effect into an experience I had as a young schoolchild in a predominantly French Canadian school in Quebec. I had French Canadian friends until one day during wintertime when our principal decided to separate the English-speaking and French-speaking students by having a mountain of snow piled across the middle of the schoolyard.

Instead of achieving his intended objective, the mountain became a symbol of superiority and a lot of fun. After one day's battle in determining "king of the mountain" between the English and French factions, the mountain was cleared away. However, even as a young child, I implicitly understood that the line was drawn.

The Allaire report's misconceptions on one hand and anti-French hostilities on the other hand only serve to build mountains of misunderstandings between Quebeckers and other Canadians. Constitutional amendments have been proposed before, ie, the 1979 Pepin-Robarts Task Force on Canadian Unity, Pierre Trudeau's proposed amending formula and even the Meech Lake accord. But while a specific, suitable solution is required, it is difficult to find one without a meaningful dialogue, and especially at the other end of the Allaire report's take-it-or-leave-it shotgun approach.

Therefore, it falls upon Ontario to assume leadership during this crisis on behalf of all Canadians. As at the time of Confederation, Ontario must once again demonstrate the willingness and spirit to co-operate with and to respect French Canada's enduring identity. Some people have made sure that the lines are drawn. Now it is up to some of us to rise to the challenge and to overcome these threats to our heritage.

The Chair: Thank you very much. We will move on. We have a number of additional speakers. I think we will probably be able to take one more speaker, and then we will break at that point. What we can do is to ask the remaining people on the list who have asked to speak if they are able to come back at an evening session. We will do our best to add them to that list.


The Chair: I call next Sam Shore.

Mr Shore: Gracias, Mr Chairman. The only reason I wanted to come here today is I feel that there is nobody here speaking for the English people of the province. I was quite disturbed the other night when I saw the program coming from I believe it was Sudbury. There was a gentleman there who had been a tailgunner on a bomber during the war and he said he could no longer get a service in English in his town. That disturbed me very much.

Mr Bisson is shaking his head now. Have you checked into it to see if that is true or not?

Mr Bisson: Sir, I live in that area. It is quite the contrary --

Mr Shore: How about the young fellow who is --

The Chair: Sir, make your presentation, please.

Mr Shore: Thank you very much. There was another young fellow who wanted to get a job cutting grass in North Bay and he said that the grass did not speak French or English and he could not get the job because he did not speak French.

Anyway, I am Sam Shore. I was born and raised near Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, the oldest of about 10 children. My people came from Ireland in 1820 and my grandfather built the Rideau Canal. It has become one of the worst places in Canada, as far as westerners are concerned, because all the ills of Canada they believe come from Ottawa.

I left home at the age of 16 and got very little education. We did not have the opportunities out there. I have ridden the freight trains across Canada and many a time I knocked on the door in the province of Quebec for a meal when I was down and out and I was never turned away in Quebec. I did not know that Quebeckers were any different from anyone else in Canada.

I joined the army during the war. I served five years plus in the army, four and a half of it overseas. We had French Canadians with us and they were my friends and they were just as good men as any we had in the army. Unfortunately, only 2.25% of the army overseas were French Canadians. I understand now that in the Department of Veteran Affairs, and I stand to be corrected on this, 40% of the people working there are French Canadians.

Be that as it may, I get a disability pension and last year, I believe it was, the government took $350 housekeeping money from all disability veterans. I am fortunate. I manage my money much better than the government managed my money and I do not really need it, but there are others who do. At the same time as they voted for this, and they said this money was taken off us to pay down the debt, the parliamentarians voted themselves $6,000, to my knowledge, tax-free, and this hurts a lot.

I hear a lot of people talking about Quebec separation and worrying about the business we do with Quebec. Well, I would say 50% of the business done with Quebec is between governments, and Lord knows they will find a way to do business no matter what happens. The other business -- Quebeckers are not stupid. They are some of the most astute businessmen in the world and they will find a way to make a living and they have more people within, closer than Thunder Bay. If you would look at a map, it goes right down to the state of Kentucky and they have got all those people to deal with. That is why they wanted free trade, and I wish them well.


If you take a map of Canada and wheel it right down the west coast, you will find it where it reaches all the way down to Chile and Peru, and the cheapest mode of transport is water. Conversely, from the Newfoundland side it reaches right down to Argentina, and the cheapest mode of transport is water. So do not worry about Quebec as far as trade is concerned. We do not have free trade among provinces right now.

I understand it costs $7 billion a year for French immersion. I am not against French, but I think it should be user-pay for these schools. There is no English immersion. I have travelled around the world. I was in Spain and Portugal in December, and they stopped teaching French in the schools there five years ago. English is the second language. Anybody in Quebec or the world generally who cannot speak English is a deprived person. Anybody in Quebec who cannot speak English is a doubly deprived person. I would like them to learn to speak English. Of course if we are all bilingual, we only need one language anyway.

Another thing is the difference between a million and a billion. If I gave one of you $1,000 a day for three years, that is approximately $1 million. Did anybody ever stop to think of how long it takes to give a billion dollars out at $1,000 a day? Three thousand years, and that is the difference between a million and a billion. Most people do not even think of it. Governments throw a billion around like it is chickenfeed, and I worked too hard in my life to take that from my government.

The other thing is flags and bigots. There are some members of this committee I do not recognize. I wish you had your political affiliations on there. It would make it easier for me. They came across to many people I have spoken to as a group of bigots, and I said, "Well, I am going to go and ask why nobody ever protects anything of the English." Nobody ever says a word. You never did question it. I do not expect you to question me because you do not agree with what I am saying. You only question -- and your questions are usually longer than what the people who spoke said -- and you never get to what you were going to say in the first place, which I am having trouble doing right now.

But the flags. I heard you, Mrs O'Neill, the other day about the flags over in Quebec, and you saw a Canadian flag there. They are on federal buildings. I believe a picture of one of my great-uncles hangs in the archives that moved over there. He unfortunately fought in the Riel rebellion, which I am not too proud of, because our Indian people, but that is another story.


Mr Shore: Yes, okay, Mr Bisson, you are the comedian. The only thing that really brought me out was the fact that nobody seemed to be speaking for any English people. I know you people have taken a lot of abuse and I do not like to see it. I would like to think you are on our side, everybody's side.

The other thing is Bill 8. Bill 8 threw the Liberals out and put the NDP in. Believe me, if you do not water this thing down, you are going to have highway signs in Ontario in French and English. But believe me, if you go to France, the stop signs there say "Stop." The only place in the world is Quebec. If you think it is going to make the roads or highways safer to have French on there as well, go to Quebec. They do not have anything but French on there. Is it that dangerous to drive in Quebec? I do not know.

Anyway, I thank you all for listening to me. I have said my piece.

[Remarks in Spanish]

The Chair: Thank you. I think there are --

Mr Shore: Any questions?

The Chair: Yes, there are a couple of questions. Very briefly, Mr Bisson.

Mr Shore: Good.

Mr Bisson: Mr Shore, I understand your frustration quite honestly and I sympathize. I am not mad and I hold no malice. The only thing is that you made the comment a little while ago that nobody has an opportunity to ask questions. Understand where I am coming from also, as a francophone. I am a little bit raw to this issue, because I have people sitting here sometimes who speak on the issue and obviously I have some emotions on it. Some of the things that have been said and you repeated, I have difficulty with. You talked about the Second World War as if francophones made no contribution to the war.

Mr Shore: Oh, they did.

Mr Bisson: Well, we should admit --

Mr Shore: They made 2.25%.

Mr Bisson: There was more than 2.3%, but the point is that all of my family, my father, my uncles, all served in the war, and some were decorated. I served in the armed forces myself so I really --

Mr Shore: They were the best there was.

Mr Bisson: But I do not want to get into personal things. I understand what you are saying. The difficulty is that somewhere within the building of this nation, we understood from the beginning that we were going to follow a certain premise. That premise was going to be that we were going to recognize that there was two cultures that came here at one time and started to build a nation. Somehow we forgot the native people and now we have got to straighten out that mess.

What I have a hard time understanding is, and this is the question I am asking you, "Why is it that there is such a hard time from some people within the anglophone community and francophone community, quite honestly, to try to come to grips with what the history of this country is all about?" I am a francophone. I have no difficulty understanding where you are coming from and I feel quite comfortable within the anglophone majority society here. I fervently believe that most anglophones have a lot of respect and are quite understanding. But some people really have a hard time with it. Tell me what it is and why it is so difficult to accept.

Mr Shore: Mr Bisson, I was raised out west and I was fortunate. We were very far from schools and we were very far from churches, so my mind has not been cluttered with education or religion, which I am thankful for. But that does not mean I have not learned. I will tell you out there I did not hear one person all my life ever run down a Frenchman, a Norwegian or anybody else. Our local reeve was a Mr Deschambeau and one of the finest you would ever meet.

It was not until this Trudeau era came along that this has started, and the English-speaking peoples feel the pressure going on all the time. Signs and cornflakes, as they say, do not bother me at all. It is just the fact that I think the Anglo-Saxon community feels under pressure, and I am only speaking as an individual, always remember that. But I grew up with no malice. We had Ukrainians. My father used to say: "Don't you ever laugh at them. You don't have to speak English to be intelligent. When they grow up, they will speak your language and their own and they will be twice as smart as you are."

Mr Bisson: But the thing is that I, as a francophone, also feel those same pressures that you do.

Mr Shore: I believe you do. As a matter of fact --

Mr Bisson: The thing is that there is a lot in common between us.

Mr Shore: I agree. As a matter of fact, my best man lives in St Boniface, Marcel Pelletier, and it was not until after the war I said, "Marcel, how come you did not get to be an officer in the army?" I said, "You had the educational qualification." He said, "Well, I was French in an English outfit," and he joined from an outfit from Toronto. Consequently, he felt it, and it was not until then that I felt that he had been discriminated against and he was not given his just dues. But I believe in the English community there is not the feeling against the French that there used to be in my age group.

Mr Bisson: Oh, I agree.

The Chair: Mr Shore, you made a comment towards the end, saying, "Why can't we all be on everybody's side?" and I think that is what we are trying to do, quite frankly. I think that we realize that there are some very deep feelings, some very strong perceptions among our English Canadians about some of the language issues.

There are equally strong feelings among the Franco-Ontarians and among people of all language backgrounds, and I think that hopefully in part what we can do is to begin to face some of those perceptions and those realities and bring them out and deal with them, try to deal with the anger that is there and try to see if in fact there is a way in which we can at least coexist with each other but hopefully even go beyond that and really be able to interact with each other and accept the strengths that we have to offer to each other with all of our varied backgrounds.

Mr Shore: I was fortunate during the war to be in Italy for a couple of years and I learned to speak a bit of Italian. I do not know if you speak the language or not.

The Chair: I do.

Mr Shore: And I say that no matter how many languages you learn, none of them does you any harm, but you must have English in this world.

The Chair: But surely that is something that we all agree with, sir.

Mr Shore: My wife and I were in Sydney, Australia, and we had to bail out French Canadians who could not speak English. It hurt my being to think that they, on this continent, were deprived people. They did not speak English. Get some English immersion in. Thank you all very, very much for your time.

The Chair: Thank you, sir. We will end the session then at that point. We will come back as close to 7 as we can, please, folks, so we can resume. Thank you.


Ms Djukic: I have something to say. I think basically --

The Chair: I am sorry, madam. We are --

Ms Djukic: I think that basically everything that has been said here is what once John F. Kennedy said.

The Chair: Just a second. What is your name, madam?

Ms Djukic: My name is Danica Djukic and I was a grade 12 graduate and am ready to be a college student. I feel that the one thing that is most important to us is what once John F. Kennedy said: It is not what our country can do for us, but what we as citizens can do for our country. Everything that was said here today about multiculturalism I believe.

To give you an example of racism and prejudice that I have encountered in my lifetime, I was working -- I highly want to become a teacher's assistant or a teacher eventually, either a child youth worker or a teacher -- for a Catholic school board in a nursery school. I will not name the school. I will just leave it out.

But what I am trying to say is that because of my background, being Yugoslavian -- I have British in me, my mother tongue is anglophone -- but I have grown up in a Serbian setting because my father is Serbian. Because of that I have noticed -- I do not know if you guys are aware of it -- that everything that has happened to you guys, the French and the anglophones being at war with each other, is the same as with us, the Croats and Serbians. I think that this is ludicrous. We all have to join in together as one.

Whether it be anglophones or francophones, we each have to identify and reshape our values so as to meet and become one. Whether we are anglophones or not, like they said, in one country we need signs or something. Like the gentleman said here, when he went to France, there were only French signs. I think that we need to settle our differences, set aside our prejudices and think together.

The Chair: Thank you very much. We will recess at this point.

The committee recessed at 1814.


The committee resumed at 1919.

The Chair: Perhaps I can call the meeting to order, please. My name is Tony Silipo. I am the Chair of the select committee on Ontario in Confederation, and on behalf of the committee I would like to welcome those people who are here with us this evening and those people who are following our proceedings over the parliamentary channel. We are in Hamilton at McMaster University, and this is the last day of hearings for us this week in the third week of a four-week schedule that has us at different places across the province hearing the views of the people of Ontario -- individuals and organizations -- on the future of Canada and the Canadian Confederation.

I would like to just take a minute to introduce the members of the committee. This is a committee which is made up of the three political parties that are represented at Queen's Park. From the NDP caucus in addition to myself we have Gary Malkowski, Gilles Bisson who is also the Vice-Chair of the committee, Marilyn Churley, Ellen MacKinnon and David Winninger; from the Liberal caucus, we have Charles Beer, Yvonne O'Neill and Steven Offer, and from the Conservative caucus we have Ted Arnott and Elizabeth Witmer.

We heard this afternoon from a number of speakers here in Hamilton. We have an equally long list this evening. We will have to do as we did earlier today, which is to ask those people who are presenting on the original printed list to try to keep their comments, please, down to below 10 minutes if you are presenting as an individual and to certainly within 20 minutes if you are an organization. That will allow us the opportunity to add some of the other people who want to also speak to us and do the best that we can to accommodate as many people as we can. We are prepared this evening, as we have been on other occasions, to extend the time, and we will do our best to accommodate everyone.


The Chair: Perhaps we can proceed then by calling the first presenter, Renée Lapointe du Conseil des directeurs et des directrices des écoles franco-ontariennes du Centre-sud de l'Ontario.

Mme Lapointe : Bonsoir, je m'appelle Renée Lapointe et je suis directrice d'écoles élémentaires pour le Conseil des écoles séparées de Hamilton-Wentworth. J'aimerais également vous présenter mon collègue Pierre Boutin, qui est directeur de programmes pour le Conseil des écoles séparées de Dufferin et Peel.

Au nom du Conseil, je tiens à remercier très sincèrement le gouvernement de l'Ontario, et plus précisément les membres du comité spécial sur la place de l'Ontario dans la Confédération, pour cette occasion qui nous est donnée de présenter nos idées, nos aspirations et nos recommandations ayant trait à la place et au rôle des Ontariens et des Ontariennes au sein de la collectivité canadienne.

Le Conseil regroupe les directions de 44 écoles élémentaires et de 10 écoles secondaires des régions de Simcoe, Durham, Toronto, Dufferin, Peel, Halton, Wellington, Waterloo, Hamilton, Wentworth, Welland, Niagara, Brant, Haldimand et Norfolk.

Les étudiants et les étudiantes qui se trouvent présentement dans nos écoles sont âgés de 4 à 18 ans. Ils et elles sont incontestablement les fondements de cette réalité croissante qu'est la francophonie du sud de l'Ontario. C'est donc au nom de ces jeunes Franco-Ontariens et Franco-Ontariennes que notre conseil de direction d'écoles fait aujourd'hui cette présentation.

L'avenir du Canada. Nous sommes tous très conscients et conscientes de la situation précaire du Canada d'aujourd'hui. L'échec du Lac Meech, les disparités régionales et sociales, le traitement réservé aux autochtones, l'aliénation de l'Ouest et le mouvement souverainiste du Québec remettent en question l'existence même du Canada.

Le conseil, au nom de qui je fais cette présentation, est d'avis que l'Ontario, en raison de ses forces économiques et industrielles, peut jouer un rôle prépondérant dans le rapprochement des différentes régions du pays. Nous sommes aussi convaincus que l'Ontario possède assurément tous les éléments nécessaires pour concrétiser à l'échelle nationale le rapprochement qui devrait exister entre les différentes communautés. La présence d'un demi-million de francophones, de nombreux groupes multiculturels, des communautés autochtones bien établies fournissent effectivement à l'Ontario les composantes nécessaires pour un projet de société solide fondé sur le respect collectif des différences culturelles et linguistiques qui pourrait servir de modèle au pays tout entier.

Quel devrait être l'avenir du Québec au sein de la Confédération ? Nul ne saurait nier que le Québec, en raison de son histoire et de sa réalité actuelle, est de fait une société distincte. Nous sommes d'avis qu'aucune des provinces canadiennes n'est perdante en reconnaissant au Québec ce statut de société distincte. Ainsi, la reconnaissance officielle du caractère distinct du Québec est conforme à notre conception du Canada et de la Confédération.

Quelle place devrait-on conférer aux autochtones dans la collectivité canadienne ? Le traitement accordé aux autochtones par nous les Canadiens à travers des siècles d'injustices à l'égard de ce peuple fondateur demeure une honte nationale. Même si toutes les mesures correctives ne sauraient effacer cette tache noire de l'histoire du Canada, il est d'importance capitale que les communautés autochtones soient reconnues comme des sociétés distinctes. Le canada tout entier se doit de mettre en place des mécanismes qui permettront à ces mêmes communautés l'autonomie à laquelle elles ont droit afin de gérer leur présent et de déterminer leur avenir.

Je voudrais maintenant définir de façon plus précise une des composantes de ce projet de société, soit la place des Franco-Ontariens et des Franco-Ontariennes au sein de notre province.

L'histoire nous rappelle constamment la très grande contribution des francophones dans l'établissement des différentes régions de l'Ontario. Nul ne saurait nier l'apport des francophones en tant que peuple fondateur dans les régions de Windsor, de Penetang et du nord de l'Ontario.

Ce statut incontestable des francophones de l'Ontario en tant que peuple fondateur devrait se traduire par un ensemble de politiques et de gestes concrets qui serviraient à redresser les torts qui ont été faits aux Franco-Ontariens et aux Franco-Ontariennes et à leur donner la place qui leur revient au sein de la collectivité ontarienne en leur permettant de s'épanouir pleinement sur tous les plans.

Le plan linguistique. La Loi de 1986 sur les services en français, plus communément connue comme la Loi 8, donne aux francophones dans les régions désignées le droit à des services dans leur langue. Cette loi demeure inadéquate puisqu'elle ne répond que partiellement aux besoins des francophones et crée par le fait même deux classes de francophones : ceux et celles qui ont droit aux services d'une part, et ceux et celles qui n'y ont pas droit d'autre part. Il est aussi très évident que trop souvent cette Loi ne se traduit pas toujours par des gestes concrets dans le quotidien. Voici un exemple qui touche plus précisément au mandat même de ce comité spécial : alors que tous les Ontariens sont invités à soumettre leurs opinions et leurs recommandations face à l'avenir de l'Ontario au sein de la Confédération, le poste de télédiffusion parlementaire, ONT.PARL, plutôt que de diffuser les présentations dans la langue dans laquelle elles sont présentées, présente une traduction anglaise de toutes les présentations qui ne sont pas faites en anglais. C'est donc dire que la voix des francophones se voit bloquée et qu'on leur nie le droit de participer aux audiences du comité en tant que téléspectateurs. Ce geste, aussi banal puisse-t-il sembler, amène les francophones à se poser la question, à savoir, le gouvernement de l'Ontario est-il vraiment intéressé à entendre la voix des Franco-Ontariens et des Franco-Ontariennes ?


Il devient de plus en plus évident que la question de la langue ou plutôt de la dualité linguistique doit se régler avant même que l'on pense aux autres composantes de ce projet de société. Comme l'affirmait Gilles Bisson, député de Cochrane-Sud et vice-président de ce même comité, dans une entrevue avec l'Express de Toronto tout récemment : «Ça fait plus de 120 ans que l'on s'obstine sur la question linguistique. Si on veut se développer comme pays, il nous faut mettre cette affaire derrière nous une fois pour toutes et reconnaître que notre pays a été bâti par deux nations, française, anglaise et par les autochtones. Il faut être capable de reconnaître nos différences». Vous avez parfaitement raison, Monsieur Bisson. La reconnaissance officielle des droits linguistiques est incontestablement à la base de la francophonie ontarienne.

Notre Conseil est d'avis que si l'Ontario veut se définir par rapport à l'ensemble du Canada, il est primordial d'accorder au français un statut de langue officielle.

L'éducation. L'éducation, aux paliers élémentaire et secondaire, est sans contredit le domaine où les francophones de l'Ontario ont manqué les plus grands pas. Du Règlement 17 à la Loi 75, tout un monde s'est écoulé.

Nous reconnaissons et nous apprécions la volonté du gouvernement de l'Ontario d'améliorer la qualité de l'éducation à ces mêmes paliers par les démarches en cours visant l'éventuelle création de conseils scolaires homogènes.

Si les francophones sont assez bien desservis en ce qui a trait à l'éducation aux paliers élémentaire et secondaire, il n'en est sûrement pas de même pour ce qui a trait a l'éducation postsecondaire. L'inexistence d'institutions postsecondaires francophones, sauf pour la Cité collégiale, qui a ouvert ses portes tout récemment à Ottawa, oblige les francophones à se rendre dans des institutions anglophones ou soi-disant bilingues ou encore à décrocher. Le taux très élevé d'analphabètes chez les francophones de l'Ontario, et leur niveau inférieur sur le plan socio-économique, sont des résultats très concrets de cette carence. Il est intéressant de noter que notre province voisine, le Québec, possède depuis plusieurs années déjà un réseau de collèges et d'universités bien établis, soit huit collèges et trois universités, pour répondre aux besoins éducationnels de sa minorité anglophone.

L'accès à l'éducation postsecondaire en français est à la base de la survie et de l'épanouissement des Franco-Ontariens et des Franco-Ontariennes. Le Conseil de l'éducation franco-ontarienne, dans son plan directeur, affirme :

«L'étudiant qui arrive au postsecondaire est au stade de l'affirmation de soi. C'est la période privilégiée où il teste les valeurs acquises, se donne une orientation de vie et se choisit un devenir».

L'éducation collégiale et universitaire permettra aux Franco-Ontariens et aux Franco-Ontariennes de développer leur leadership, d'affirmer leur engagement face à leurs valeurs et d'acquérir la formation qui leur est nécessaire afin d'être concurrentiels sur le marché du travail. Le Conseil de l'éducation franco-ontarienne, dans le rapport précité, affirme de plus : «Pour la minorité, l'école constitue un lieu privilégié et est le seul milieu à accorder une place prépondérante à la langue, élément indispensable à la création de sentiment d'appartenance et d'une identité culturelle. L'école doit être considérée comme faisant partie d'un ensemble intégré à un projet global d'éducation permanente. Même si l'article 23 de la Loi constitutionnelle de 1982 ne traite que de l'éducation aux paliers élémentaire et secondaire, la suite logique de l'engagement pris par le gouvernement de l'Ontario est d'offrir cet enseignement au niveau postsecondaire».

Il est donc nécessaire et urgent que le gouvernement de l'Ontario s'engage à mettre sur pied des institutions collégiales et universitaires qui permettront aux Franco-Ontariens et aux Franco-Ontariennes de devenir des citoyens et des citoyennes à part entière.

Services sociaux et communautaires et services de santé. Il est devenu évident que le système d'éducation à lui seul ne peut suffire à combler les besoins des francophones, et que ces derniers se doivent d'être soutenus par un système d'appuis communautaires qui tienne compte de leur réalité.

Afin de pouvoir se réaliser pleinement, les francophones de l'Ontario doivent pouvoir avoir accès à des services sociaux et communautaires et des services de santé dans leur propre communauté. La Loi 8, en théorie, donne à certains francophones dans les régions désignées droit à ces services. Il demeure cependant que dans la pratique, ces services ne se réalisent pas toujours de façon concrète. Les structures des ministères, Santé et Services sociaux et communautaires, sont telles que la prestation de services est remise aux niveaux régional et/ou municipal. Les gestionnaires à ces niveaux, de même que les agences de transfert, ne sont pas toujours convaincus de la nécessité d'offrir des services en français. Ainsi, les francophones sont trop souvent soumis à la volonté ou encore au manque de volonté de ces mêmes instances. Cette réalité place les francophones dans des situations de revendications continuelles. Il en résulte donc que des groupes de bénévoles doivent dépenser des énergies incroyables à justifier et à négocier la prestation de services qui sont foncièrement des droits acquis.

Le domaine des garderies pour jeunes francophones fait état de l'inégalité flagrante qui existe par rapport à la prestation de services. C'est un fait reconnu que la garderie joue un rôle des plus importants en tant que milieu linguistique et culturel pour un nombre croissant d'enfants d'âge préscolaire. Pour les francophones, il s'agit de prévenir l'assimilation précoce de ces jeunes et de faciliter leur insertion dans le milieu scolaire.

Ainsi donc, notre conseil estime que le gouvernement de l'Ontario doit élaborer et mettre en oeuvre des modèles de prestations de services qui garantiront aux francophones ces services auxquels ils ont droit dans les domaines de la santé et des services sociaux et communautaires.

Répondre aux besoins d'une minorité n'est sûrement pas chose facile. Cependant, nous sommes convaincus que l'Ontario possède les ressources humaines et matérielles nécessaires pour élaborer et concrétiser ce projet de société qui nous permettra le plein épanouissement de tous les citoyens et les citoyennes.

En guise de conclusion, je voudrais tout simplement citer le Conseil de l'éducation franco-ontarienne qui, dans l'énoncé suivant, exprime très bien ce qui à notre avis se doivent d'être les fondements de ce nouveau Canada que nous tentons de définir :

«Le milieu dans lequel se développe tout être humain est le reflet d'une civilisation donnée dans laquelle l'acquis matériel, moral et spirituel d'un milieu historique déterminé est accepté et vécu par une collectivité. Celle-ci se compose d'individus dynamiques qui, durant toute une vie, se façonnent, par choix, évolution et mutation, des nouvelles attitudes face à cet acquis. La somme de ces attitudes constitue alors une culture dynamique, teintés des acquis de la civilisation qui la forme et façonnée à l'image des individus qui la composent».

Les Ontariens et les Ontariennes doivent exprimer clairement leur volonté de participer à un tel projet de société.

M. le Président : Merci. Il nous reste du temps pour quelques questions.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I am going to make a statement before I ask my question. I would like you to know a little bit about my background. La Cité is in my riding, I did work on Bill 109 for many years and had the great honour of actually introducing it in Ottawa-Carleton as part of my duties as parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Education.

You did mention, as has been mentioned earlier today, about the translation, that the francophone cannot hear the francophone presentation as it is being given in French. That is a small thorn in your side, maybe bigger than I realize. I do feel that there has to be a way around that. We have come a little way.

May I say that I have tried to learn French. I have studied for six years in school and university. It did not work and I have tried since I have been at Queen's Park. I do not seem to be a linguist; I am not saying I am finished trying. I do have a daughter who is very bilingual, actually, in France at the moment studying.

But I would like to say to you how important it is for the anglophone community of Ontario to hear your message. You have given a message that is very different. We have not had a group of principals from any school system come before us till this point tonight. A lot of the francophone presenters have given very strong, poignant messages. Many people in Ontario have not had the opportunity to have this for the 18 years that I have had. I feel that my understanding has come through interpretation and so I hope that you will see that although there is a downside, this is a very crucial moment for people to understand what you are saying and to understand that you are saying the same thing for francophone children in Ontario as anglophones say for their children. So I just say that to you.


My question to you is that I asked teachers, I think it was in Sudbury, "Would you be using the document that we have in your schools, the document that we are using as a basis for our discussions, Changing for the Better?" Have you used this within the school?

Ms Lapointe: Indeed I can speak for myself. We have received it at school. I have tried to make the older students aware of the mandate of the select committee, and the teachers of course are all aware of the existence of the committee and the reasons for its existence.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I hope you will pursue this because I do think that every student should be given an opportunity to know that it exists and I am sure that many of your teachers, particularly your history teachers and your political science teachers, would find it -- so I would encourage you to offer it in your schools.

Mme Lapointe : Absolument. Merci, j'apprécie votre commentaire.

M. le Président : Au nom du comité je voudrais expliquer, comme je l'ai fait cet après-midi, que la question de la traduction est quelque chose sur laquelle on va se pencher pour voir s'il y a d'autres solutions. Mais en ce moment, la situation est que le réseau parlementaire diffuse dans les deux langues, en français et en anglais. C'est donc aux compagnies de cablodistribution de choisir la langue dans laquelle elles vont diffuser au public. C'est là le problème. Peut-être y a-t-il d'autres choses que nous pouvons faire. On va examiner ça et j'espère qu'on va trouver une autre solution.

Mme Lapointe : On est patient, Monsieur Silipo. Merci.


The Chair: Could I call next Chris Cutler.

M. Cutler : Monsieur le Président et membres du comité spécial sur le rôle de l'Ontario au sein de la Confédération, je vous remercie ce soir pour l'occasion de vous parler, surtout des grandes questions sur l'avenir de ce pays et sur la province de l'Ontario.

Malheureusement, on m'avait expliqué que j'avais 15 minutes ce soir pour ma présentation, alors je ferai de mon mieux pour le faire en 10 minutes.

I would like to begin once again by simply thanking the committee for the opportunity this evening to join in the public discussion being held at this exciting juncture in the history of Ontario and Canada, and exciting it is; exciting indeed because in the midst of conflicting views and visions, in the midst of doubts and despair, lie hope and opportunity, hope for a better Canada in which to live and an opportunity for countless citizens of every race, creed, colour, language and generation to forge together a future that better represents and reflects the hopes and aspirations of all who live in this great land, exciting because I am not yet prepared to lend my voice to the rising chorus of voices on all sides who see only failure and inevitable divorce ahead.

One can only be saddened to hear the likes of great Canadians such as Stephen Lewis and Oscar Peterson in recent statements surrender to the spirit of inevitability. Great nations are not built on the inevitability of failure, but by forging a consensus of common aspirations and expectations for the nation. For all too long, Canadians and indeed Ontarians have defined themselves not so much by who and what we are as by who and what we are not.

We are Canadians because we no longer are British or French or Chinese or Ukrainian. We are Canadians because we are not quite Americans, because by accident of birth or fate or immigration we find ourselves north of the United States. Seemingly we are Canadians because we have not yet mastered the art of the sitcom, as we have been told of late, because Mary Richards of the Mary Tyler Moore Show hails from Minneapolis-St Paul and not Winnipeg or Thunder Bay.

We are Canadians because somehow we are told we lack the drive and ambition of our neighbours to the south. Growing up like many young Canadians within easy reach of television signals emanating from the United States, much of that definition was formed through the 22-inch screen of a black-and-white Cyclops that dominated the living room of our home, as it did the homes of many who sheltered the first television generation of this nation, a medium that showed us more of the streets of LA and New York, Chicago and Boston than it did of the streets of Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal, a world view that was shaped from an earliest age by Captain Kangaroo and Sesame Street until Walter Cronkite's trademark, "And that's the way it is," became indeed the way it was for countless Canadians and many like myself who grew up knowing more about fires burning in North Tonawanda than what was going on in the east end of Hamilton.

Having had the opportunity to live in Europe for several years, I came away with a new definition, a new identity or perhaps a new sense of national self-image, a view of Canada shaped not by the void of what we are not, so much as by what we really and truly are.

When President George Bush spoke of a kinder, gentler nation, he spoke, I believe, in many ways of an ideal that collectively we as Canadians have already attained, a road that we have covered together in advance of our neighbours to the south. If we could only see ourselves as many in the world view us. Some cynics in Canada have described us as the self-proclaimed Boy Scouts to the world. Others would describe us perhaps more realistically as sensible, sober, good citizens of the international community, prepared to carry our full load.

I recall being amazed at how many Europeans, particularly in France where I lived, claimed to have fought on the battlefields of two world wars side by side with Canadian troops, so many that in order to accept that fact, I was forced to upwardly raise the numbers of Canadian troops I had always understood had served during those two particular conflicts. At the end of my sojourn in Europe, I returned to Canada convinced that I was privileged to live in the freest, most generous and opportunity-laden land on the face of the earth, as chauvinistic and un-Canadian as that might seem in its open expression.

I am here this evening due in some part to a sense of alienation that has been mine since the months leading up to the passage and signing of the Canada Act of 1982, which transferred to the Canadian Parliament the power to amend our Constitution, commonly referred to as the patriation of our Constitution, and the subsequent passage of the Constitution Act of 1982, which includes of course the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which for the first time entrenched our individual rights and freedoms including freedom of religion, assembly, association and the press as rights, among them legal, democratic, equality, language and mobility. It is certainly a pleasure to be able to sit here and exercise one of those rights this evening.

But what troubled me most as a young Canadian at that particular time was the sense of frustration and inability to grapple with the issues of the day and perhaps make myself known or express them, to in fact have a voice or a say in the kind of Canada in which I was to live and raise a family, to work and to give my time, my energy, my heart and my soul, afraid that the Canada I would live in would have been shaped simply by a few individuals, all male, all another generation and all with another definition of a Canada perhaps not shared by many across the country.

I recall my frustration as I realized that the direction of Canada was being determined by possibly three individuals. I am thinking of the time of Jean Chrétien, Roy Romanow and Roy McMurtry, who hammered out the kitchen deal that closed the issue of the 1982 Constitution Act and the Canada Act.

Casting about for thoughts to share with you this evening, I do not represent any particular group. I do not particularly represent any political stream or any particular thoughts other than my own this evening. But in casting about, I think inevitably I turned my attention to history. In his book, The National Dream, Pierre Berton quotes Alexander Mackenzie, the Liberal leader and second Prime Minister of Canada, in the debates on the national railway in the 1870s, in which he described the national dream of a railway from coast to coast as an act of insane recklessness. I think that there are those outside of this country who would suggest that the process of dismemberment upon which many have embarked at this time across the country is an equally insane act of recklessness. If indeed it were to be an insane dream to dream of a united Canada, then I would rather dream that dream than not dream at all.


Some 120 years ago, sentiments similar to the ones we read today were being expressed. I quote the Globe, from 1870, "Canada, except by a mere play on words, is not a nation." William Canniff wrote in 1875 that after Confederation there was "a hope that the petty warfare faction would be entirely submerged in a common Canadian sentiment, but this hope was short-lived." Goldwin Smith, an Oxford professor who resided at the Grange during the 1870s wrote, "The province, the sect, Orangism, Fenianism, Free Masonry, Odd Fellowship are more to the ordinary Canadian than Canada."

Perhaps one of the most disturbing developments in the wake of the failure of the Meech Lake accord has been the widening of the just-let-them-go attitude outside Quebec. Since you are asking what Ontario's role should be in the future of this Confederation and the Dominion of Canada, I would simply plead that our role be one of reconciliation, of outreach, of the extended hand, that we rise above our own history, and that we serve as examples of the hopes that all Canadians have for a united Canada.

I oft-times think that the failure of this nation to remain together as we enter the 1990s would be a failure that would be felt around the world. The inability of the peoples of this great nation to reconcile themselves to each other, to the realities of this nation, would be a failure that would be seen by other warring peoples engaged in religious and linguistic conflict throughout the world.

We have the opportunity to forge in this country a nation in circumstances that have brought failure in other parts of the world. Sri Lanka and Northern Ireland are two instances that come to mind.

Another development that has been particularly troubling for me has been the equation or definition of Canada as some kind of balance sheet, as some kind of profit-and-loss statement. I think it is unfortunate that the partners of Confederation have chosen to evaluate their place within Confederation on the basis of what they put into it and what they get out of it.

It is difficult to pack that 15 minutes into 10. Perhaps I might in conclusion simply state that regardless of the fate of this country, or the fate of this province, whether Quebec leaves Canada or not, whether the western provinces choose or choose not to drift into the United States or the Maritimes are able to make a go of it on their own, these are all academic questions to me personally. Should Canada ever cease to be as a political entity, the fact of being a Canadian would never cease to be.

The Chair: Thank you, sir.


The Chair: Could I call next Sylvie Lemay, Raymond Morin and Roger Robillard des Centres d'alphabétisation du sud de l'Ontario.

While they are coming up, could I also point out that Don Abel, MPP for Wentworth North, has also joined us.

M. Morin : Membres de la commission Silipo, mesdames, messieurs, bonsoir. Nous aimerions vous remercier pour l'occasion de nous présenter et de vous exprimer ici nos désirs. Notre délégation représente les centres d'alphabétisation du sud de l'Ontario, c'est-à-dire, le centre de la péninsule du Niagara, l'ABC communautaire ; le centre Alpha-Huronie de Penetang, Alphana de Windsor, Alpha-Toronto et Alpha-Hamilton.

Je suis accompagné ce soir de Roger Robillard, président du Centre de l'ABC communautaire de Niagara et de Sylvie Lemay, coordonnatrice d'Alpha-Hamilton et ancienne animatrice bénévole en alphabétisation. Je suis Raymond Morin, membre du comité Alpha-Hamilton, enseignant au niveau intermédiaire à l'école Notre-Dame de Hamilton.

Ensemble, nous allons vous communiquer la situation des analphabètes franco-ontariens et des centres d'alphabétisation populaires en exposant les faits saillants. M. Robillard vous présentera les faits vécus et entendus par des apprenants en alphabétisation.

M. Robillard : J'aimerais commencer avec une petite histoire. Marie-Christine est l'aînée d'une grande famille de huit enfants. À sept ans elle commence à aller à la petite école. Elle aime beaucoup ça et réussit assez bien. Quelques années plus tard elle doit quitter l'école pour aider à la maison. La famille est pauvre, il y a beaucoup de travail à faire. Éventuellement, Marie-Christine se marie et quitte le foyer paternel pour demeurer avec son mari. Son mari prend bien soin d'elle. Malheureusement, après 35 ans de mariage, son mari meurt. Marie se retrouve seule. Elle est incapable de lire sa facture. Elle ne sait qui payer. Elle ne sait même pas comment écrire un chèque. Elle se retrouve perdue.

Ou encore une autre histoire. Jean a quinze ans. Il a étudié en neuvième année et ne réussit pas, se décourage et quitte l'école pour aller travailler. Il est accepté a l'usine. Il travaille l'acier ; c'est un travail dur mais Jean est fort. Un peu plus tard Jean se marie. Il a des enfants. On lui offre une promotion à l'ouvrage avec plus de responsabilité. Jean refuse en bredouillant. Comment expliquer au foreman qu'il ne lit pas assez bien pour être capable de lire les directives pour le corps ? Quand même, Jean continue à travailler fort. Un jour sa petite deuxième lui demande : «Papa, lis-moi une histoire». Jean est frustré. Il est incapable d'accepter d'autres responsabilités à l'ouvrage ; il n'est même pas capable de lire une histoire d'enfants à sa petite fille. Que faire ?

Ces histoires que je vous raconte sont des collectes d'expérience dont on a témoigné des apprenants dans les ateliers d'alphabétisation. Nous les partageons avec vous pour que vous puissiez comprendre un peu le contexte des analphabètes.

En Ontario, d'après le southern literacy report, le taux d'analphabétisme complet et fonctionnel chez les anglophones serait de 23%. Pour les francophones, le taux s'élève à 29%. Il y a même des statistiques récentes de Statistique Canada qui indiqueraient que le taux canadien d'analphabétisme complet et fonctionnel serait aussi haut que 38%. En plus, la majorité des études indique que les Franco-Ontariens ont un taux d'analphabétisme plus élevé que la moyenne.

Pourquoi un taux si élevé chez les Franco-Ontariens ? Les raisons en sont variées. Le taux d'analphabétisme est relié à l'histoire sociale, économique et politique de la minorité franco-ontarienne, surtout en ce qui a trait aux droits linguistiques et scolaires. Les Franco-Ontariens font la majeure partie des couches ouvrières et agricoles et sont économiquement faibles. Ces conditions, en conjonction avec le Règlement 17, qui pendant longtemps interdisait l'enseignement en français et le monopole de l'anglais dans les écoles secondaires jusqu'en 1968, ont eu l'effet de maintenir les Franco-Ontariens dans une condition d'analphabétisme. Cet analphabétisme a laissé les Franco-Ontariens dans une condition d'analphabétisme. Cet analphabétisme est un des éléments qui a laissé les Franco-Ontariens dans la marginalité sociale, culturelle, politique, économique et linguistique.

Cet analphabétisme est dangereux. Le fléau de l'analphabétisme affecte toute notre société. Ici au Canada on estime que l'analphabétisme coûte environ 10,7 milliards de dollars par année. Nous, comme société, dépensons des sommes incroyables d'argent à cause de l'analphabétisme. Je cite comme exemples les coûts de l'assurance sociale et de l'assurance-chômage. Un certain pourcentage de la population ne peut se trouver un emploi car elle est incapable de lire ou écrire. Il y a aussi le coût de nombreux accidents au travail causés par l'analphabétisme. Si on est incapable de suivre les instructions de sécurité ou les instructions pour bien opérer une machinerie, il y a danger d'accident.

Alors, l'alphabétisation nous coûte énormément cher. Elle coûte au gouvernement et à l'industrie des millions et des millions de dollars. En plus, comment évaluer le coût au plan social ? La frustration et le mécontentement de l'individu qui ne sait pas lire ni écrire ou qui, en d'autres mots, ne peut pas fonctionner à 100% dans notre société doivent être énormément grands.

Il y aussi d'autres coûts. Les analphabètes sont moins susceptibles de fournir un vote éclairé ou seulement de faire valoir leurs devoirs comme citoyens. D'après le southern literacy report, les analphabètes sont aussi moins susceptibles de participer à des clubs et à des organismes, ce qui affaiblit une société, notre culture franco-ontarienne aussi bien que la culture canadienne. Ce ne sont que des exemples de ce que nous coûte l'analphabétisme.

Les centres d`alphabétisation populaire francophone aident les Franco-Ontariens analphabètes à exploiter leur potentiel au niveau du code écrit, de la lecture et du calcul. Notre philosophie de base est celle de l'Éducation populaire. C'est-à-dire, à travers les ateliers d'alphabétisation, nous espérons permettre aux analphabètes apprenants de notre communauté à y prendre leur place.

L'alphabétisation populaire permet aux analphabètes de se prendre en main et de développer des mécanismes pour poursuivre leurs aspirations de travail, leurs aspirations personnelles et leurs rêves les plus chers. Alors, Marie-Christine, qui avait perdu son mari, est capable d'apprendre à survivre et de s'intégrer dans la communauté. Jean est finalement capable d'accéder au poste avec plus de responsabilités et aussi de lire une histoire à ses enfants.

Sylvie Lemay vous tracera maintenant l'historique des centres Alpha en Ontario.


Mlle Lemay : Depuis le début de notre histoire canadienne, les Canadiens français ont travaillé à la formation du pays. Avec les Anglais et les autochtones, nous avons défriché et cultivé la terre, nous avons peuplé le pays, découvert ses richesses et bâti le Canada. Ceci pour dire que les Canadiens français sont une des communautés historiques fondatrices du Canada et que ces liens historiques nous méritent une place au sein de ses lois et de sa constitution.

Cependant, malgré que le Canada se dit officiellement bilingue, malgré l'existence de la Loi ontarienne sur les services en français, nous percevons qu'il a existé et qu'il existe encore des manques à l'égard de la communauté franco-ontarienne. Les lois qui garantissent les services en français ne sont presque que du tape-à-l'oeil, surtout lorsqu'on prend en considération tous les gestes antifrancophones de la part de nos gouvernements durant les 100 derniers ans.

Il faut quand même dire que malgré toutes les interdictions et les proclamations contre les Franco-Ontariens qui ont été présentées par divers nivaux de gouvernement durant le dernier siècle, les Franco-Ontariens se sont obstinés à continuer à vivre leur langue et de faire valoir leurs droits. Tout ceci pour venir dire que les Franco-Ontariens ont le droit de s'affirmer et de vivre leur culture, de vivre leur langue et de garder leur identité de Franco-Ontariens.

Maintenant, avec la séparation possible du Québec, il y a plusieurs rumeurs que cela sera la fin de la francophonie hors Québec. Nous sommes très conscients qu'il y a des groupes qui font pression auprès du gouvernement pour éliminer les services en français. Nous sommes ici pour vous dire que nous avons notre place ici en Ontario. Il faut que je vous dise que ma famille se trouve ici au Canada depuis 1646. Nous sommes en Ontario depuis 1870 ; cela fait six générations. Pour moi et pour tous les Franco-Ontariens, ici c'est mon chez-moi, c'est notre chez-nous. Nous voulons y rester et nous voulons continuer à y vivre en français comme l'ont fait nos ancêtres.

Cependant, nous ne voulons pas vivre les mêmes conditions d'injustice qu'ils ont vécues. Nous voulons vivre en Ontario à part entière et jouir des mêmes droits que nos confrères anglophones. Aujourd'hui, nous soulignons les manques au niveau de l'éducation et plus spécifiquement en alphabétisation. Les structures déjà existantes sont un début.

Cependant, nous croyons que ces structures ont besoin d'être renforcées et garanties. Lorsqu'il s'agit d'éducation, la minorité francophone ne devrait pas être menacée par les coupures et les changements de gouvernement ou de politiques. Il est nécessaire de faire respecter nos droits et, dans ce cas particulier, notre droit à l'éducation dans notre langue maternelle, c'est-à-dire en français. Ceci inclut le droit de s'alphabétiser et de s'éduquer en français. Pour garantir ces droits, nous avons besoin de meilleurs mécanismes de soutien de la part des gouvernements ontarien et fédéral. Nous avons besoin de nous ancrer de façon politique et constitutionnelle au sein de la Confédération et de la province. Peu importe ce qui se passe au Québec, nous sommes une partie intégral de l'Ontario.

M. Robillard : Encore une fois, messieurs, mesdames, membres du comité, merci de votre attention.


The Chair: Could I call next Dr Roman March?

Mr March: Mr Chairman, members of the committee, I want to thank you for coming to McMaster. The last time I appeared before a legislative committee I had to travel to Toronto, so I am rather overwhelmed to see the entire committee here.

Anyway, I am a professor here at McMaster University in the department of political science. I am a specialist in the history and politics of Canada, western and eastern Europe and the United States of America. I have taught a senior level course on Quebec's political, social and constitutional politics for the past 20 years. I am delighted to see one of my former pupils sitting over here.

I would like to first give a brief overview of, or introduction to, the brief. First I am going to present the present constitutional crisis in historical perspective. Second, I will draw some conclusions about the history of the constitutional crisis which we face, and finally I will address questions 1 to 8, not 3 to 8 as listed on page 3 of the Ontario government's public discussion paper, Changing for the Better. I presume that is what we are here for. For the historical perspective, it will only be a page and a half.

Once again, the northern half of the North American continent is facing a crisis over the legitimacy of its geographic boundaries, political structures and institutions and the division of legislative powers. I say "once again" because the present crisis of legitimacy is only one of a long list of many such crises which have confronted previous political regimes. Many of the former crises were deeply violent, especially during the series of wars between the European imperial powers as they struggled for possession of the Americas, and these struggles were among themselves and with the aboriginal inhabitants.

Let me list a few of the more significant crises that have occurred since the conquest of Nouveau France in 1760. There was a royal proclamation of 1763 which still is part of the constitutional regime of Canada, and which recognized certain of the Indian tribes as sovereign nations. Then there was the Quebec Act of 1774 which entrenched linguistic and religious freedoms for the French colonialists wherever they resided under the protection of the British flag. Aboriginal sovereignty and the rights of the French language have never been extinguished, although they have been subjected to attacks over the centuries right up to the present day.

The Constitutional Act of 1791 granted to the refugees who poured into British North America after the American Revolution the right to elect their own Legislature. This right to vote was also extended to French Canadians and Catholics at the time when such rights were denied to Catholic citizens in the United Kingdom itself. When this regime failed to meet the demands of those who wanted responsible government, the rebellions of 1837 occurred in Upper and Lower Canada. The Act of Union of 1840 attempted to assimilate French Canadians into an English and Protestant culture. That union, too, failed and was replaced by the British North America Act of 1867. That constitutional regime of 1867 in turn was shaken to its foundation by the two rebellions in the Canadian northwest, both led by Louis Riel in 1869 and 1885.

Conscription crises in the First World War and the Second World War, the imposition of the War Measures Act in Quebec in 1970, the Quebec referendum on sovereignty-association in 1980, the Constitution Act of 1982 which gave us the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as the amending formula which led to the collapse of Meech Lake accord and now the Allaire report of 28 January 1991, have all shaken successive political regimes.

What conclusions? Let's stop shaking, to put it mildly. I just pause to note that some people say Canadian history is dull. I have never found it dull. I have been astounded by it.

What should this long catalogue of constitutional crises teach us? What it tells me is that we should not be overwhelmed by the seeming enormity and intractability of the current constitutional crisis. Amen.

I will now turn to the specific questions raised by the document that has been circulated. By the way, I thank the committee and the members of the Legislature for responding to my request and sending me hundreds of copies of it, and I have circulated them to any person who walks around with two hands held out. Anyway, we will leave it at that.

Questions for discussion, page 3 of the document:

1. What are the values we share as Canadians? I am going to suggest that these are best expressed for non-francophones in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. There is serious debate in Quebec whether the charter provisions regarding language rights should apply to Quebec or should be entrenched in the Quebec Constitution. Again, I refer you to the Allaire report.


2. How can we secure our future in the international economy? I will pass on this one, except to ask whether we must lock our economy into an American-dominated trading bloc in order to go to economic war with the European Community and Japan.

3. What roles should the federal and provincial governments play? Now we are into the heart of the matter. The federal government should maintain control over fiscal and monetary policy, but it must develop formal institutions where provincial and/or regional voices can be heard and counted. One could look to the United States of America and the Federal Republic of Germany, especially to the role of the Bundesrat, or the federal house, as models for central government/provincial decision-making.

The federal government will have to return to the provinces control over post-secondary education, health and welfare, manpower, unemployment insurance and cultural matters, as was the case in 1867. This is, will be, the heart of the question of the transfer of powers. In doing so, this would meet some of Quebec's concerns as expressed in the Allaire report, and, as well, these things will likely be recommended by the Bélanger-Campeau commission, which will be reporting in a week or two, 28 March presumably.

4. How do we achieve justice for Canada's aboriginal peoples? Again, I would say we should return to the concept of sovereignty envisaged in the royal proclamation of 1763. I would suggest that we look at the definitive study of this matter by Professor Bruce Clark, who is an expert, probably the pre-eminent expert in this area, and the book is Native Liberty, Crown Sovereignty: The Existing Aboriginal Right of Self-Government in Canada. Professors love long titles. It will never be a popular seller, but it should be read and looked at by all those concerned about this matter.

Serious consideration must be given to the argument made by the Cree of northern Quebec about their right to secede from Quebec should Quebec make a unilateral declaration of independence under a government led by the Parti québécois or as the result of a Quebec referendum on sovereignty or total independence. My question is this: can the government of Canada take back the territory given to Quebec in 1912, or does Ontario take the position that all provincial boundaries are inviolable? That is to muddy the waters a bit.

The Vice-Chair: You have about a minute left.

Mr March: Okay.

The Vice-Chair: There is a question if you want to take a question.

Mr March: Sure. Well, you have the written brief. I do suggest that anybody who tries to predict what is going to happen in the next year or two -- excuse my language in the brief, but it says, "is a fool," so please do not ask me that.

Ms Churley: I perhaps should not have made you stop for what I am about to say, but it is more of a quick statement. We have to be very clear on our history, and on page 2 where it says, "This right to vote was also extended to French Canadians and Catholics," I hasten to add, to French Canadian and Catholic men. To some people, that is a petty point.

Mr March: Mea culpa.

Ms Churley: To me, it is very important that we include and remember those kinds of things when we talk about our history. Thank you.

Mr March: Okay.

The Vice-Chair: We are unfortunately out of time.

Mr March: Okay. Yes, I understand.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much.


The Vice-Chair: We would like to recognize, first of all, for the members of the committee and those who are watching, Dave Christopherson, the member from Hamilton Centre, who has just joined us. We would like next to call the Business Council for Fair Trade, Jim Conrad.

Mr Conrad: Thank you, Mr Chairman and members of the select committee. With me tonight I have a student from one of the local high schools in Etobicoke.

As you can see from the written submission that has been distributed to you, our submission covers many points. My time plan is to briefly cover the points that are in the brief but to focus on the question and the issue and the discussion of including economic rights in the Canadian Constitution.

This brief, in short, is a proposal for a new vision for Canada. It covers the points that Canada must be sovereign and independent, that it must be united, that human dignity must be preserved, that Canadians desire peace. Just to pause there for a moment, those two phrases are drawn word for word from the Japanese Constitution and the German Constitution, and you will see the heavy influence that there is in this brief on the constitutions of those two countries, which obviously I have great respect for and highly recommend to this committee for detailed study.

Canadians want a distinct Canadian culture. We are a spiritual people. We touch on the importance of ownership, which is a theme that I will return to.

Much has been made of the fundamental importance to Canadians of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which we endorse, but when you study other constitutions of the world and also study the United Nations charter, you realize that, as good as our present charter is, it is most inadequate to what I call the new vision for Canada.

First is to clearly state our belief that Canadians are a distinctive people. To support that contention, the submission identifies 11 major characteristics of the Canadian identity which make us distinctive, which are, just to list, our conservatism; our sense of collectivism; statism; élitism; we are a freedom-loving people; we are economic schizophrenics; we have unhappiness of a tolerance of economic dependence; we are a prudent people; we are service-oriented; we are non-violent and peaceful, and we are tolerant and compromising. I submit that these characteristics are what make us a distinctive people.


In the German Constitution, the first 20 articles cannot be amended -- period. I submit to you that part of what should be in the new vision for Canada is basic rights which cannot be amended, that are put beyond the reach of Parliament. There are some omissions to our present charter and I touch on those briefly -- the questions of marriage and family, the home, the rights of children. These are obviously fruitful areas for further discussion.

Much of the present discussion in the media focuses on the Allaire report and the Bélanger-Campeau commission and we want to dismiss that very quickly. The question is being raised, "What federal powers need to be conceded to Quebec in order to keep Quebec in Canada?" We reject both these proposals and the premise of the question.

We must not negotiate on the basis of Quebec's proposals. Rather, Canadians coast to coast should develop a consensus on a new vision for Canada, based on the premise of a strong central government. We want, we must have, a sovereign country. If Quebec joins us, there will be rejoicing. If not, then they will go their own way, regretfully.

A particular focus of the discussion is linguistic rights, and we propose that whether the new Canada includes Quebec or not, Canada continue its policy of official bilingualism. The new federal Parliament without Quebec should continue to have English and French with equal status. This is the one distinctive characteristic of Canada. It is fundamental that both French-speaking and English Canadians see all of Canada as their homeland, from sea to sea to sea. In this new Canada, Ontario as well as New Brunswick would be officially bilingual.

There is nothing radical about this. India has 18 official languages. Linguistic minorities are protected in the UN charter. The Constitution of Austria, for example, gives the Slovene and Croat minorities in that predominantly German society the right to use their languages in public on government signs and on businesses. And does an anglophone from Quebec? I can only view the suppression of English by Quebec as not only contrary to the United Nations covenants on civil and political rights but as evidence of an immature society lacking in self-confidence.

There is a series of proposals to strengthen the federal government. The models once again are the constitutions of Germany and Japan. These countries are not only self-evidently extremely strong world economic powers but have social welfare programs generally as good as or better than Canada. As a strong economy, you can afford the necessary social programs.

You can read down the list. Federal law shall override provincial law. Education in both the principles and standards in both Germany and Japan is a national responsibility. The formation and the role of political parties is entrenched in the Constitution. Immigration should be an exclusive federal responsibility, as there is only one basis for Canadian citizenship. There should be established a federal constitutional court to interpret the Constitution. Both the Japanese and German constitutions allow for impeachment of public officials who violate the provisions of the constitutions.

Of particular concern is the increasing degradation of the environment, and I submit that the right to a clean and healthy environment should be put beyond the reach of Parliament to amend, as with other fundamental rights. Once you put the environment as a federal responsibility, then the federal government must by definition have exclusive jurisdiction over air, water and soil.

We express concern about the duplication of federal and provincial governments and in our view it is the provincial governments that are going to have to cut back so that taxation of Canadians can decrease.

On the question of aboriginal rights, in order to bring dignity to the aboriginal peoples it is simply -- the German Constitution once again is the model, where there are communes guaranteed the right to self-government and with the right of taxation and the right to run their own educational system. In order to bring dignity to the aboriginal peoples, the federal and provincial governments simply have to delegate powers to the aboriginal peoples and then cut back on the entrenched bureaucracies in those two governments.

Proposals for Senate reform are to be elected, representative and equal. We do not support the concept of a Senate that has equal representation, say, from Prince Edward Island and Alberta.

We outline the fatal flaw of Meech, which is basically -- and you can knock on any door across the country and hear the same theme -- aren't all Canadians equal?

In the few minutes that are left, I want to focus on economic rights, which is the unfinished agenda in our Constitution. If you go back, you will find that the Honourable Pierre Elliott Trudeau, as Minister of Justice, wrote that "the guarantee of economic rights placed in a charter beyond the reach of amendment by Parliament is desirable. However, it is advisable not to attempt inclusion of economic rights at this time." Given that it took 15 years to get a reasonable set of individual, political, linguistic, mobility, legal rights in the Constitution, I guess he was tactically correct.

But at what cost to Canadian citizens have we ignored proposals for economic rights? What value is freedom of expression if you do not have a job? Once again, it is instructive to understand that both Germany and Japan, each an economic powerhouse, have entrenched economic rights and freedoms. We could do worse than adopt a successful model.

These are some of the economic rights that we are proposing for a new vision of Canada: the right and the obligation to work; protection against unemployment; right to form and join trade unions; right to social security; right to rest and leisure; right to an adequate standard of living; right to education; right to ownership of homes and businesses; right to share in profits.

It has been the experience of the United Nations that inclusion of economic rights lags behind the inclusion of individual and legal and political rights in constitutions. Why is this? I go into a historical perspective here on Japan. You can do the same sort of historical perspective on Germany.


In Japan in the 1930s economic power concentrated in the hands of a few families called the Zaibatsu. When Japan was developing its war machine, it was easy to control the financial and economic and industrial resources of that country to focus it on waging war.

The US occupation forces knew this, and in 1947 the US occupation forces imposed stronger antitrust laws on Japan than the United States itself had. These prohibited restraints of trade, unfair business practices, price discriminations, mergers and acquisitions -- the whole long list of antitrust activity -- but the intention and the result and what was achieved was to break up the Zaibatsu into a competitive economy that I submit was an absolutely crucial precondition to the Japanese postwar economic miracle.

Exactly the same thing happened in Germany. Both Germany and Japan have stronger -- much stronger -- antitrust laws than Canada. Germany has constitutional provisions to prevent the abuse of economic power.

Obviously the communist command system does not work. I submit to you that the free-enterprise system, although it is better than the communist system, also has flaws because it allows and leads to concentrations of economic power due to the inherent greed in individuals. What we need to do is talk about what we call fair enterprise, fair competition, fair trade, so that we can deal with these concentrations of economic power which, if allowed to continue to grow in Canada, and there is some evidence that it has already happened, will lead to a loss of our political freedom.

Now, we get economic rights in the Constitution. What in fact will be the practical result of this? I suggest to you that one immediate result of doing that would be abrogation of the Canada-US free trade agreement because it would violate constitutional provisions for economic justice and economic freedom, and of course abolishing the free trade agreement would be lower interest rates, a lower value for the Canadian dollar and a return to prosperity.

The new vision for Canada -- and I am just wrapping up -- would emphasize fair enterprise, participation in ownership and profit, family and community values and co-ordination of Canadian society by a supportive government. The cri de coeur of Canadians is for a constituent assembly to put all this relatively sterile discussion of -- behind us and to develop a new vision for Canada that will lead to a prosperous and healthy country for the 21st century.

I thank you for the opportunity to appear before this committee, Mr Chairman.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Conrad, for certainly one of the most extensive presentations that we have had. A great deal of preparation has obviously gone into this brief. We appreciate that very much. There is some time for questions. Mr Winninger.

Mr Winninger: Yes. Thank you too for that very well researched and comprehensive brief. I am sure it will be of great value to us. I just wanted to zero in on one of your recommendations on page 4, which was for a federal constitutional court separate from the courts of ministry and justice.

You may have heard the criticism of the power that is conferred on our judges under the charter. Some think it is far too wide. Some have criticized the judges themselves for tending to be upper-class, Anglo-Saxon, élitist judges interpreting human rights and freedoms, rather than the Parliament having more control over that. I am just wondering what kind of safeguards you might build into your model for a federal constitutional court that might meet some of those criticisms that are levelled at our judges as they exist now, because it would seem to me you might be creating an even more élitist court which would just interpret the Constitution.

Mr Conrad: I understand the comments and my answer would be no, I do not think so, because first you get the Constitution and the judges' role as learned individuals would be to interpret the Constitution that has been given to them by the people of Canada. If a judge was élitist and there is unhappiness, article 64 of the Constitution of Japan is perhaps the best answer: "The Diet" -- which is the Parliament - "shall set up an impeachment court from among the members of both houses for the purpose of trying those judges against whom removal proceedings have been instituted." So you set up a way of basically impeaching judges in accordance with the Constitution.

Mr Winninger: Thank you for your comments.

Mr Offer: Jim, thank you for your presentation. As has been said, it is a comprehensive document which is going to take some time to read through, and I am certain all members of the committee will in fact do that. When you talk about your new vision for Canada, I am struck by that which appears on page 3, which talks about the negotiation between the federal government and Quebec. You have stated that we must not negotiate on the basis of Quebec's proposals, and then it goes on to talk about all of the new things in terms of your new vision.

My question is, before we get to that aspect of the new vision, is there any basis in your presentation that contemplates negotiation with the province of Quebec? Is there anything that you see as the basis for the federal government talking to Quebec on some of these things that the province needs and desires? I ask this because I heard someone state that the best way that one can guarantee a change from the status quo is to state that we insist on the status quo, and I am just wondering if there is in your presentation any ground, any way that the federal government can talk to Quebec.

Mr Conrad: Yes, we are proposing a negotiation here. It was President Kennedy who said we must not fear to negotiate. We are saying to develop our own negotiating position, our own new vision for Canada so that we are sure we have a country with or without Quebec, then go to Quebec and say: "Here is our vision for Canada. We have all these wonderful things in terms of charter and economic freedoms, economic justice." Invite them to come in. As you know, I am not only not a fan of Meech Lake, I am not a fan of Jeffrey Simpson who keeps pushing the -- this is not a status quo. This is a long way, this is a radical reform. I am saying to basically wipe the table clean, find out what in fact makes up Canada, the distinctive characteristics in the Constitution and the identity and symbols that we want. Then, when we are comfortable, negotiate with Quebec.

Who speaks for Quebec? Je suis un Québécois, je parle anglais. I have got family, I have got friends, I have got businessmen in Quebec. Do you think those businessmen in Quebec who oppose the free trade deal, who oppose Meech Lake, could ever get on the CBC to articulate these views? The media only put forward the myth that all businessmen from Quebec support the trade deal and support Meech Lake. It is not true. Ce n'est pas vrai. The few politicians who get all the media coverage do not speak for the anglophones of Quebec who elected the Equality Party to the National Assembly; they do not speak for all the Greeks up and down Park Avenue; they do not speak for the Jewish community in Montreal. Who do they speak for?

CBC phoned me the other day and gasoline prices are 47 cents a litre in Toronto and 69 cents a litre in Montreal. I said, "Will a sovereign Quebec mean lower gasoline prices?" and the answer is no. They are proposing an increase of 5 cents a litre in the taxation in Montreal. This debate is not about rights; it is about taxation powers, and the Quebec government is way over spending. That is the root of the problem, and the answer to your question, Steve, is yes, we negotiate from our own well-thought-out position of strength.

The Chair: Okay, thank you very much. We will move on to the next presenter. Thanks very much again.



The Chair: Could I check and see if Wally Mark is here from the Chinese Canadian Society of Hamilton-Wentworth-Halton?

Mr Mark: Thank you, Mr Chairman, for extending an invitation to the Chinese Canadian Society of Hamilton-Wentworth-Halton to share its views on Ontario's role in Confederation. Before I begin, let me state for the public record that our association appreciates being granted this opportunity to speak for the public record on a subject that has all too often been contextualized as an English and French debate.

This, in my mind, is far too simplistic. The issue of Canada remaining as a strong and united country has less to do with the preservation of language and culture of any one ethnic group, Chinese included, than it does with the advancement and preservation of fundamental principles embodied in our Constitution. For it is our Constitution and our Charter of Rights in particular, which define the values and aspirations of Canadians as a collection of individuals with varied religious, ethnic and linguistic backgrounds.

This being said, I will not be commenting tonight on the merits of transferring certain powers from the federal government to the provinces or the current language laws in Quebec. To do so would only obfuscate the essence of the current challenges now facing our country. For at the centre at the current debate is tolerance and vision, something which Canadians should be proud their country has offered millions of people from a wide range of cultural and linguistic backgrounds. It is precisely tolerance and vision that I am afraid are sadly missing in the current round of constitutional manoeuvring.

As a representative of the Chinese community, I can tell you that for hundreds of thousands of Chinese Canadians, Canada has and will remain a beacon of tolerance, justice and opportunity. In the United States they call it liberty and freedom and dramatically wrap symbols around their country's past. The Statue of Liberty and the Liberty Bell are popular Americana aimed at reminding their citizens of their collective values and aspirations. Why are we Canadians not more proud of the fact that two cultures, English and French originally, and numerous other ethnic groups built prosperity out of forests, of trees, of ice, snow, rivers and rock. We did this and we did it together, with tolerance for our obvious differences and by working together in the face of adversity.

The lesson here is that many Chinese immigrants who settled in Canada looked to this great country's past as a way of understanding their future. In doing so personally, I have always been struck by what a magnificent country this is. A history enormously rich with examples of co-operation, strength and resolve among different ethnic groups to build something great.

Now with the current debate and threats of Quebec's separation, I can tell you that the Chinese community is saddened but most of all confused as to how a country as great as Canada could even contemplate dissolution. In reading and listening to federal politicians, the musings of scholars and other so-called informed experts, it strikes me that a great emphasis has been placed on defining the Canadian identity based on our accommodation of all ethnic groups. To me, this is neither a sound nor a responsible way of defining what it is to be Canadian, for this approach draws attention to our differences.

Certainly it is logical and correct to argue that tolerance and respect of other cultures is a hallmark of Canadian culture but it is not by itself an accurate definition of what it is to be a Canadian. Rather, it is merely a symptom of what Canada, as a civilized and sophisticated country, has become, and make no mistake about it, Canada is sophisticated and civilized. Just ask any one of the tens of thousands of immigrants who view Canada as the promised land after spending years in a refugee camp.

Now we are confronted today with the possibility that the promised land for thousands will be dissolved, will be divided up into small political units. And to what end? Maybe it is human nature that we are constantly trying to improve what we have, and I do not doubt for a moment that this too is what those in Quebec are seeking. I also know that the motivation to make Canada better, more united and stronger is a dream that the Chinese community shares, living proof of an enlightened and sophisticated society and a proud tradition of a country forged from reason and intellect, not from revolution.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Thank you so much for bringing your perspective. I do not think that we have heard from the Chinese community by themselves. We have had members of the Chinese community present, but not representing the community as you have. Have you used the document, Changing For the Better, within the community? Have you discussed that issue?

Mr Mark: We have actually been discussing and reviewing over some time now what we are looking for. Are you referring to the specific document that is --

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Yes. I just wondered.

Mr Mark: Yes.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Could you tell me if you have any recommendations you think this committee could make? You have brought the problem as you see it. Have you any recommendations for the committee? Do you see any actions the committee could take that you feel would be helpful to the things you have presented to us?

Mr Mark: Could you be more specific in which points?

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I guess I am asking you to be more specific.

Mr Mark: One of the questions has been the multicultural mosaic. Personally I find that Canada, while having a very, very enlightened policy, tends to promote differences and that divides the country. Somewhere such as the United States, with their great melting pot, has a very simplistic approach, but practically it works because it tends to bind along common grounds rather than divide among their differences.


Mr Offer: Just picking up from that last comment, are you in your presentation stating that we in our deliberations should look at the multicultural fabric of the country with a view to reassessing its worth or use in this country and taking a look at the United States as an example with its melting pot?

Mr Mark: As I understand it, the multicultural policy is an experiment anyhow and maybe it is time to reassess it and see where we can bolster it and where we can change it. Has it even been reviewed?

Mr Offer: Just a quick follow-up. In the event that Quebec would leave and you have spoken about the real -- it is hard to put in words how one feels about a unified country, but do you feel that that would impact on the multicultural fabric of the country? Would we be losing something, not just a province, but something more of a spirit?

Mr Mark: That is not something that I have given a lot of thought to multiculturally, but people tend to choose Canada; Canada does not choose its people. When you choose a country, hopefully you want to be good citizens within that country. I do not think people really give a lot of thought to Quebec separating when they land here. I take it the divisiveness impacts on them after they have been here for some time and it is somewhat confusing but it also is self-perpetuating. If you have unity, it perpetuates unity. If you have division, it perpetuates division. As I said, I am not really well versed as to how a separation of Quebec would affect us multiculturally. I am not sure that is a key issue either.

Mrs Witmer: Mr Mark, I would like to continue. You talk about the Canadian identity and the fact that we are spending a tremendous amount of time discussing our differences. You are not the first person that I have heard that from recently. There are many other ethnic groups in my own community that are saying the same thing. What do you feel we should be highlighting that makes us unique and makes us strong and would bring us together?

Mr Mark: Canada, historically speaking, is a relatively young country, and I believe that we are going through growing pains just like most countries have. Why do we not just find common ground and basically go with that? Everybody is different but when you stress the differences, it brings them to the forefront. While they are there, you may want to shuffle them back a little bit more.

Mrs Witmer: So I hear you saying then we should be concentrating on how we are the same, what makes us great.

Mr Mark: Well, a country is what you make of it. If you want to make it a divisive country you can, but on the other hand, if you want to unite it along common grounds, you can. Look at any wars. Enemies are united to fight a common enemy. Why can we not unite along common lines?

The Chair: I guess the trick for all of us is to come with a common set of things that in fact we agree on that do unite us, and of course we heard a lot of discussion about the diversity being one of those things that in fact does unite us but that is --

Mr Mark: How about the common good of the country?

The Chair: Yes. Okay, thank you, Mr Mark.

We have at this point a number of other speakers and given the time, I am going to suggest that we can actually give all of those people an opportunity to speak to us. If, however, we agree that we can basically give each of the individuals about five minutes' time, that way we will be able to give everyone that is on the list an opportunity to speak with us.


The Chair: I call first then Eileen Butson.

Ms Butson: Thank you. This province, indeed the whole country and we all are being directed towards a future undefined and unsought by the vast majority of people. Until 1981, Canada had a growing, adjusting, adapting society. The nation had an effective government within a framework of continuity and stability. Canadians had freedom and confidence. Now Parliament has lost the power it used to have and change is being confused with progress.

There are many areas of concern. We have a loss of democracy, we have overpowerful politicians, we have health service problems, educational problems, language problems, environmental problems, economic problems, employment problems, problems with the justice system, problems with loss of individual rights, loss of our fair society and loss of our heritage. All these areas of concern are intertwined and one affects the other. You cannot put them all in little packages. Any constitutional changes should have the expressed consent of all the people governed and sensitive changes should only be made after referenda. It is not legitimate for a government to order our lives for us.

Political power: All political parties should be limited by statute and tradition. Legislation should limit government spending and taxing. Health service insurance should be funded. There should be funds behind it, not the way it works now. Bills are just paid from our tax revenue. Why should we be forced to use only the state medical care system? Canada is the only western nation to outlaw private care. It is an outrage that the state forbids you to use your own resources to save your own life. By making it illegal for doctors to provide service privately, the state has usurped an entire profession and the freedoms of millions of patients. There should be no Bill 147 which will allow medical police to inspect all health facilities and records without a warrant.

Much of the demand for overservicing is patient-driven. When some people believe a service is free, the demand usually exceeds the supply. Most of health care money is spent on people who suffer from lifestyle diseases. Any socialized system designed to pay for consequences of carelessness and irresponsibility is unfair to those who are careful and responsible. There should be a small user fee for health service.

Education: The problem of illiteracy is in all our communities. It is serious. The school system needs to provide sufficient intellectual nourishment. Attempts must be made to exercise, train and discipline the mind. Most parents want their children to emerge from school with a mind, a sense of the past and a moral code. We need more history returned to the schools. The children need to know about the political origins and there is a need for an inculcation of spiritual and moral values.

As far as the language has been concerned, official bilingualism has been imposed upon us. There is a difference between people having a right to think, write and publish in the language of their choice and the policy of forcing people to use a language against their will. Canada has been added to the watch list of Amnesty International because of the repression in Quebec. The official bilingual act should be repealed, certainly for Ontario. It is an unnecessary expense in this province. What official bilingualism is really about is power, and there is gross over-representation of French-speaking people in too many of the key government positions.

Then we go on to the environment. The population itself is the environmental steamroller. We have lots of space but we do not have the resources to accommodate our present population at our current level of consumption. Population growth requires continuously high resource inputs. We should only be taking the really needy people, the refugees. We do not need more people. Switzerland and Japan have had a zero population growth for years and they have been doing very well economically. Local governments must stop dumping raw sewage and road salt into our lakes and rivers. There should be a restoration of the common tort law so that citizens can stop anyone else from polluting their property.

Economically, we need to make progress by creating finished products instead of importing. We need to start our own enterprises instead of relying on foreign investors. We should stop selling our assets to subsidize a standard of living that cannot be sustained by what we produce. Welfare benefits, special grants and subsidies push us into decline. We should only help the really, truly needy people. The non-producers in our society are making all kinds of claims and the money from the producers is dwindling. Our children are going to have to pay for our present excesses.

People are being paid not to become Canadians. We are funding all these multicultural groups, totally at variance with long-established Canadian values and practice. The government should stop using our tax money to expand vote-getting social programs.


The Chair: Ms Butson, if you would sum up, please.

Ms Butson: Well, I wanted to put something about Quebec because I think that is very important. There are a couple of points that people raised.

The entrenchment of rights: We had all kinds of rights before we had the Charter of Rights; in fact, we had more, because under our Charter of Rights we only have the rights that are spelled out to us, whereas under British law, everybody was free and equal and had all kinds of rights unless they were specifically disallowed by some special law.

With regard to Quebec, okay, can it separate? Some people might ask, does a part of the country have a right to say just, "We are going to start another country"? If they do, then someone has to speak up for us and arrange this thing, and it is not Brian Mulroney, because he is too biased towards Quebec. Quebec, if there is a separation, should not have all of Quebec; it should have what was New France, because all northern Quebec, Rupert's Land and those areas were ceded to Canada, not Quebec, by the Hudson's Bay Co.

This also affects our environment. Ontario should speak out that northern Quebec should not be part of a new, independent Quebec because it should be prevented from flooding all northern Quebec for this big hydroelectric project.

Somebody talked about wiping the table clean and starting again. All I can say is, the powers that be do not seem to have any respect for Canada's Constitution or heritage. Canada's image was fascinating and compelling from the Elizabethan explorers to Canada's magnificent contribution in two world wars. Institutions have served our country well and could do even better, if given the chance, by wiping the table clean. You are going to have a heck of a job to put it all together again. Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you, Ms Butson.


The Chair: We are going to call next Ron Vine. [Remarks in Ojibway]

Mr Vine: As I stand here before you tonight, I think first of the great privilege to meet before this distinguished committee, which in this year, regardless of this or any other tribunal in this province or any federal jurisdiction, the future of Canada will be greatly revised. As I have followed the proceedings here as in Quebec, we are hearing many points of view, some of which have not changed in the past two centuries.

Harriet Taylor once said: "It is indeed easier to discern the errors and blemishes of things than their good. It should be remembered by the critically minded that the habit of noting deficiencies before we observe beauties does really, for themselves, lessen the amount of the latter." How true this is, and how many more beauties we have in the Canadas than we have deficiencies. Yes, it is true that we have not yet reached the ideal stage which many of us would wish to have reached by now, but it is also true that we are unique, not only for the natural beauty which many of us have experienced from our travels from the Atlantic to the Pacific, but in the warmth, generosity and good spirit the Canadians show towards each other, to visitors from all walks of life and from all over the world.

In all of my travels throughout this great country, through all of the provinces, I have seen not only a love for each other and a great caring vision but also a great need for a culture where each individual can find his or her maximum potential. This -- in one, two or 10 Canadas -- will not change. As a federalist, I would of course be saddened by a breakup of Confederation. As one who lived in and fought the first referendum in Quebec, I would be saddened to think that we have not moved an inch since that time towards alleviating the fears of French Canadians of the loss of language and culture, or alleviating the fears of others of a strong French Canada within Confederation. This is indeed sad.

I will tell you firsthand that Quebec is a marvellous and wonderful place with people unlike any I have ever met. I am grateful and humble by all I have learned about these people, their history and their culture.

J'ai accepté la réalité d'un Québec français et j'aime ce Québec. Il est le seul juste champ de l'Amérique qui parle français, de même que le portugais pour le Brésil et l'espagnol pour la plupart des pays d'Amérique. La constitution du Canada a besoin d'accepter cette vision.

The vision of a Canada is what I wish to use my remaining time today to talk to you about. The first part of this vision is an enhanced Charter of Rights and Freedoms that leaves no one unprotected. This is fundamental. Our Constitution should be strong, and should be upheld with the great and masterful words of those documents, the American Constitution, la charte des droits humains, the Magna Carta and the other great liberal doctrines of history which are sought to ameliorate the freedom of mankind.

We in Ontario should be proud of our Human Rights Code, which, like that of Quebec and many other provinces, guarantees certain rights and freedoms. I assure you that a strong preamble to the Constitution, followed by an enhanced Charter of Rights and Freedoms, may not get acceptance by all of the people, but it will by these who understand and truly cherish liberty. Let us no longer compromise on this. Let us develop a new charter and a new Constitution which accepts a vision for a country unlike any mankind has known, and if we fail, we fail knowing that we have tried what is right and just, and we shall have no shame. But to compromise rights and liberties behind closed doors and in an élitist framework would be shameful, for it is wrong, for it accepts the notion that we could be any other than our best.

Ontario can lead by example, by increasing those rights further for own citizens, by taking a leading role in negotiations with other governments in Canada, by not falling prey to anger, resentment or petty feuds of the minority. And Ontario should see that the next round of negotiations, perhaps our last, should have decision-makers from all backgrounds, not just a group of 11 men, all white or near, representing an abnormal skewing of our population and privilege. This time, have participation in the decision-making process from all groups, for we will not lose power by sharing and believing in ourselves, but instead we will be truly empowered.

But vision has another part to it, the part of dreams, and do not let the dreams die. When faced with polls showing anger and resentment towards each other, we must dream. We must constitutionally commit ourselves to promote and protect an understanding for an appreciation of each other within our multicultural society and mosaic. We must dream of a time when all Canadians will feel this is their country and they control their own destinies. This will come about either within the dream of Confederation or by the breakup of it, but it will come about.

Voyez-vous ensemble ; pensez le Canada et la jeunesse.

When I started my speech tonight, I opened with a greeting in Ojibway. The first nations have a philosophy which says that we have not inherited the land from our ancestors but we have borrowed it from our children. Let us dream together of a future Canada, as wonderful, as free and dynamic as that we have been fortunate enough to strive for. Let us try to build a new country based on only two principles, those of rights and freedom and those of dreams. Stand tall, walk proud Canada. You are beautiful. Thank you. Merci.

[Remarks in Ojibway]

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Vine.


The Chair: Could I call next Susan Whyte. Is Susan Whyte here?

Ms Whyte: Where do I go? I feel very nervous. Anyway, Gary knows how nervous I am feeling. My name is Susan Whyte. I live in St Catharines. I have two daughters and both are deaf. I was born deaf. I was born into a family that is all hearing, and when I was growing up we did not use sign language. When I was going to school, I went to the Belleville school for the deaf. I am very nervous. When I finished school, I went home but I did not have the opportunity to be exposed to my own culture or my own language.

Can you imagine the other cultures that are in Canada and how they would suffer if people were not allowed to be exposed to them within their own family unit? You would see the disappearance of the cultures.

I would like to see American sign language recognized as an official language because it is an important part of our culture and it allows deaf people to reach their potential and does not limit them. Really, I would like to see ASL officially recognized because people who come from other countries are still able to partake in their own culture. They still learn another language but they have that opportunity. If we have that opportunity to use our own language, then we can enjoy our own culture and I feel that it is important to respect all cultures.

I think that is all I would like to say. Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you very much.


The Chair: Could I call next Fred Clarkson.

Mr Clarkson: I guess I do not need to use the mike. My name is Fred Clarkson and I come from Hamilton. I have grown up here. I attended the Belleville school for the deaf for about 11 years, and at that time sign language was not used so we had to try and obtain our education through lip-reading.

It was when I got out of school and started meeting other deaf people that I was able to communicate because we used American sign language, whereas in school it was limited to a visual form of English and lip-reading. But most of my education was from other deaf people who used the language and were members of the culture that I was a member of and used the language I used.

My children are not deaf, but they are fluent in ASL as well as the culture and I find that vital. That is all I wanted to say.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Clarkson.



The Chair: Could I call next Joseph Cassar.

Mr Cassar: Good evening, Mr Chairman and members of the committee. I thank you for giving me the opportunity to express my views about the problem facing Canada, which is true democracy. Unless we practise it truthfully and sincerely, we will never solve our problems.

My name is Joseph Cassar. I am of Maltese origin, but first and foremost I am a proud Canadian. I came to this wonderful country as an immigrant 43 years ago, in 1948, after the second great war. After a few months in Canada, one day the headlines of the front page of the daily newspaper read "Newfoundland to Secede from Great Britain and Join Canada." Joey Smallwood, Premier at that time, had foreseen the future greatness of this country called Canada. Unfortunately, nowadays we have some forces destined to break this great country.

I watch, listen and read the comments of the participants of this hearing, and so far I have not heard one comment of the fundamental issue, that is, how to run this country with unity and true democracy, where every person has the same opportunity, rights and benefits.

This country is composed of people of many different cultures, and it seems to me that we all want to be known by the country of origin, that is, German Canadian, French Canadian, English Canadian, Polish Canadian. The time has come to take a bold step towards one culture, Canadian, no matter where our ancestors came from and what role was played in the making of this country.

We have a country made up of 10 provincial governments, a federal government, thousands of city councils and regional governments. If we look at the history of elections we find that hardly ever has a government been elected by a majority of votes. A case in point was the last election in Ontario, where 37% of votes elected a majority government, which in my opinion is unfair. This is not true democracy. Do not get me wrong: I am an NDP, but what is fair is fair.

Now let us look at the many conferences between the federal and provincial governments. When has any meeting ended up with full agreements? Never. Why? Because the Prime Minister and the premiers look after their own governments' interest. Therefore, we have here 11 different directions and never a straight line. What we should have is one true democratic country and one government. My idea -- this will shock you -- of running this country is as follows.

First, abolish all lieutenant governors. Second, abolish all provincial governments. Third, abolish all city councils and regional governments. Now let's start making this country.

First, divide each province into 10 regions, each region to be governed by 20 councillors and the chairman. Elect two councillors from each region.

Second, elect the federal Parliament consisting of 300 members, three members from each region, 30 from each province. This way, each province has the same number of members of Parliament no matter how large or small; they have the same voice.

Third, forming of the federal cabinet: Besides the normal department, create a minister and deputy minister for each province, the deputy minister to reside in the province he represents.

Fourth, elect a senator from each region, 100 in all. All senators would be elected as independents. A Senate is important as a watchdog of the government not to exceed its mandate.

In my opinion, this is the fairest and most effective way to run the country. I call to all politicians to put aside their personal ambitions and to work to make this country the greatest, where every person has the same rights, privileges and benefits, no matter what creed or colour and no matter in what part of the country they reside.

On 4 July 1968, William Gold of the Hamilton Spectator wrote:

"Election Justice and Myth.

"Is Canada a true democracy? No. Does parliamentary membership reflect the people's wishes? No. Does one man, one vote work here? No. The propositions have not been true for 100 years. Last week's election redemonstrated their invalidity beyond question. In the cold light of electoral tidiness the Trudeau government is a grotesque distortion of voter preference. So far, Canada has accepted the distortion in the belief that it at least produces a stable government, but on the heels of an election fought on grounds of national unity that argument sounds hollow. The fact is that our voting system favours sectional differences and works against national consensus."

Then he gave a few examples. I will quote one.

"In 1966 Quebec Liberals won 47% of the vote and 51 seats in the election. The Union National won only 41% of the votes, but elected 55 seats, and Daniel Johnson is still Premier today in outright travesty of election justice."

Mr Chairman, what this hearing is trying to do is rearrange the furniture in the house that is built on a shaky foundation and is about to be destroyed. Let us first rebuild a solid foundation and then rearrange the furniture.

Thank you, Mr Chairman and members for your attention.

The Chair: Thank you very much, sir.

Mr Winninger: On a point of clarification, Mr Chairman --

The Chair: No, we are going to carry on, Mr Winninger. Nice try, though.

Mr Winninger: I just wondered if there would be a grandfather clause, so that some of us elected people could serve out our terms before you abolish us.

Ms Churley: What about a grandmother clause?

The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Cassar.


The Chair: Ronald Bayne.

Mr Bayne: Thank you very much, Mr Chairman. I will try to keep myself within the five minutes.

When so much has been said already, one is hesitant to contribute more verbiage, yet our country seems on the brink of breaking up, and if that matters, now is the time to speak.

So much negative opinion has been expressed in the media by people who apparently are frustrated and angry that one despairs of reversing a slide into greater divisiveness, divisiveness that will relieve the anger only because it will end in isolation and silence.

I have no knowledge or experience in politics or economics. I am a physician. My thought in being here is to bring forward some basic questions that I feel should come before discussing politics and economics. For me, the political structure and the economic arrangements are ways of achieving what we want to do. The first question therefore is: What do we want?

Note that this question is extremely challenging. In how many countries in the world is it possible for the citizens to ask this fundamental question? It is only possible in a free society, but also a society that is afraid to ask the question. Note also that the question has to be followed by a rational corollary: What is possible?

So let me speak to these two questions. What we want cannot be answered by a referendum. The question is too complex. What we want depends on shared vision, perspective, aspirations, opportunities and benefits, and what it would cost us in terms of conciliation, compromise, and economic sacrifices. The question requires consensus if the country is to hold together, but such a consensus is not something to be achieved at some point in time and then survives. It must continually change and evolve as a people and their nation evolve. This process, then, depends on a dynamic relationship, with dialogue, dispute, discussion and acceptance of differences.

I was born in Sherbrooke, Quebec, a city that was mainly anglophone when I was born there and has become mainly francophone since then. We were required to learn French from grade 2. We were required to study French, but we resisted learning it. We were in the anglophone community, we felt threatened by the growing francophone population, yet we despised them because of their different values. It was only when I graduated in medicine from McGill that it struck me that I was forcing patients, sick people, mothers with sick children, to struggle to express their concerns in, for them, an unfamiliar tongue.

Même si j`ai appris depuis à parler assez couramment, on peut voir que mon accent est mauvais et que je fais plusieurs erreurs.


But I will continue in English. I have acquired a respect for the language and, more important, for the different and perfectly valid values of the French Canadian population. Tolerance and respect for other cultures is important in civilized society, and not only the French Canadian culture. Its importance for the individual is that it allows for growth of understanding of other cultures and values, and self-development. We should be glad to have cultural diversity.

Since moving to Ontario, I have witnessed the increasing acrimony between anglophones and francophones in Canada. I have tried to think of a model for this relationship, and I believe it useful to compare it to a marriage on the point of divorce. Marriages between people are of all sorts, and the analogy should not be carried too far. But is it not true that people enter on marriage with hopes and aspirations and the belief that together they can create something greater than themselves, a relationship in which each will grow in understanding and maturity, and a relationship that will be a support in adversity, and a relationship that will be creative and contribute to society?

It is not easy to achieve, and many marriages are now dissolving. The key factor that may initiate disillusion is when the hopes and aspirations begin to fail. Then one hears statements about the rights of the individuals, the unacceptable differences between them, and the cry of: "What does she want? What does she expect?" Have we not heard the same remarks expressed about Quebec, remarks such as: "Why should Quebec be different? What about our rights? What does Quebec want?" And, now that separation seems likely: "Well, let her go. I can do without her."

The argument may be made that this analogy is inappropriate, because the relationship between cultural or language groups must be rationally based on charters, rights, economics and political process. I believe Canada was not created through logical thought. It is geographically, economically and militarily incongruous, quite ridiculous as a nation in the traditional sense. It is only comprehensible as a social and political entity because its people have been united in their hopes and aspirations, in their values and principles. If we do not hold these values and principles any longer, then of course we will dissolve and vanish.

The question that should be asked of these who say, "Let Quebec go," is: What will this contribute to Canada? How will separation enhance or reinforce our values and principles? The fact that Canadians constantly bicker, question our identity, question our role in the world, is in a perverse way a sign of the strength of our convictions. Like a successfully married couple, we should be able to argue about the really important things without fear of violence and with the intent of finding a useful resolution.

This is what has established Canada's reputation in the world and in the United Nations. We are not feared by others, because we are militarily inconsequential but also because we do not insist we have the answers for the world's problems. All we can do is help others by example to openly discuss and resolve their differences.

To summarize this part of my presentation, Canadians, including, I hope, people of Quebec, must ask ourselves: What do we want Canada to be? The possibility is still there to be internally discordant but tolerant, self-deprecating but respected in the world, multiculturally divided but united in a deeper understanding of human needs.

As to the question, "What is possible?" one could say anything, provided that one is prepared to bear the cost. In terms of economics we have the disadvantage of being a small economy in a small market much influenced by the United States. To maintain a degree of independence probably has a price in terms of a lower standard of living and higher commodity costs.

Geographically it is difficult to communicate and maintain a sense of identity. No national features, except the Great Lakes, separate us from the rest of North America. There is a cost to maintaining links by road, rail, air and telecommunications. Militarily we have a cost advantage, because this country is too vast for us to defend effectively. So we only need to maintain a police force and an army sufficient for a people that live harmoniously together --

The Chair: If you could sum up, Mr Bayne.

Mr Bayne: -- and we have no desire to conquer anyone. Why should we continue even if this is possible?

May I just continue? Here I can only reiterate that Canada has stood for peace, freedom, non-aggression and tolerance, and has played an important role on the world stage. Is this something we should continue to aspire to? But you will ask, "These are fine sentiments, but how can you make them realistic and practical?" My answer is twofold.

First, Canadians need to be given or to reiterate a vision for Canada. We have heard something about that already. Leadership is necessary and can only come from persons of integrity who are respected because they exemplify the standards and principles Canadians value.

Second, Canadians need to assure each other that they want to be together. To help each other grow in understanding and tolerance, Canadians must be willing to ask themselves, first of all, not "What are my rights?" but "What are my responsibilities? How can I contribute to making this country a good place to live, an example to the world?" Thank you.


The Chair: Marielle Arnold.

Mme Arnold : Il me fait plaisir, au nom de l'Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens de l'unité régionale de Hamilton-Wentworth, élémentaire séparée catholique, de remercier sincèrement le gouvernement de l'Ontario, et plus particulièrement le comité spécial sur le rôle de l'Ontario au sein de la Confédération, qui permet aux citoyennes et aux citoyens de notre province de se prononcer sur l'avenir de leur pays.

Nous jugeons primordial le rôle de notre association dans le processus démocratique de redéfinition de la constitution canadienne. Voici pourquoi nous tenons à vous présenter notre vision de ce nouveau Canada avec nos idées, nos préoccupations et certaines suggestions qui, nous osons l'espérer, s'avéreront des éléments essentiels pour aider à bâtir un Canada fort et unique en son genre.

L'AEEFO regroupe quelque 6200 membres qui oeuvrent en province. Notre unité régionale élémentaire séparée catholique comprend 54 membres qui oeuvrent dans les deux écoles de langue française de la ville de Hamilton, soit l'école Monseigneur-de-Laval et l'école Notre-Dame.

Parmi les buts de notre association, il y a en deux qui résument et qui identifient clairement notre mandat. Permettez-moi de les énoncer. Tout d'abord, nous voulons protéger individuellement et collectivement nos membres pour assurer le respect de tous leurs droits. En deuxième lieu, nous désirons promouvoir une meilleure éducation des francophones en Ontario. Le mandat est clair et précis mais les nombreux enjeux politiques et économiques nuisent souvent à sa mise en oeuvre.

Notre pays est rendu à une étape déterminante face à son avenir. Nul n'est indifférant aux problèmes des dernières décennies. En plus de l'échec du Lac Meech, de la crise des autochtones, de l'aliénation de l'Ouest et du mouvement indépendantiste au Québec, il y a le danger constant de perdre notre identité franco-ontarienne face à l'omniprésence américaine.

Cette période de crise remet donc en question plus que jamais l'unité du pays. Plusieurs de ces problèmes touchent à un point névralgique, celui de la reconnaissance et du respect des droits des francophones. Pourtant, nous les enseignantes et les enseignants croyons fermement que l'Ontario est la province idéale, celle qui peut jouer un rôle de premier plan dans la réalisation du projet Canada. Comment pouvons-nous en arriver à une telle conclusion ? Notre province est riche et prospère grâce à ses richesses naturelles et à ses ressources humaines. Elle doit donc donner le ton à l'évolution rapide de la société canadienne.

À cause de la présence du demi-million de francophones, de la majorité anglophone, de la communauté autochtone et des nombreux groupes ethniques qui viennent nous enrichir de leur culture, leur langue, leur religion et leur vision du monde, l'Ontario possède tous les éléments essentiels à la réussite de l'unité nationale. Il s'agit de trouver la formule juste et équitable, celle qui va reconnaître et respecter toutes les citoyennes et tous les citoyens sans exception.

Pourtant, la réalité n'en est pas ainsi. Plusieurs francophones se sentent souvent aliénés dans leur propre province. Même si notre constitution reconnaît le français et l'anglais comme langues officielles, les francophones doivent constamment revendiquer leurs droits au niveau fédéral. En province, il y a eu une amélioration, pour ne pas dire une évolution, depuis le Règlement 17 qui interdisait l'enseignement du français dans les écoles de l'Ontario.

Avec l'avènement de la Loi 8, certains et certaines, et je répète certains et certaines francophones peuvent être desservis dans leur langue maternelle. La communauté se voit dorénavant divisée : ceux et celles qui ont le droit de recevoir les services en français, et les autres, qui malheureusement ne vivent pas dans une des régions désignées. En tant que regroupement francophone qui a le mandat de promouvoir une meilleure éducation pour les siens, nous percevons ce défi comme étant énorme mais encore possible à relever.

À ce moment-ci, abordons le dossier de l'éducation en précisant quelques points. Les Franco-Ontariennes et les Franco-Ontariens sont assez bien desservis en ce qui concerne les écoles primaires et secondaires. Hélas, les services s'arrêtent trop souvent à ces deux paliers. L'éducation postsecondaire est presque inexistante pour un ou une francophone qui veut poursuivre ses études en français. Il existe la Cité collégiale, qui a ouvert ses portes à Ottawa depuis quelques années mais c'est minime et largement insuffisant.


L'Ontario doit créer un réseau collégial et universitaire pour répondre aux besoins des francophones. Les universités dites bilingues sont trop souvent des milieux d'assimilation. Notre association a présenté en juin 1990 un mémoire à la Commission sur les services collégiaux en français dans le centre et le sud-ouest de l'Ontario. Il s'agit de s'y référer pour se rendre compte que le besoin est pressant.

L'AEEFO croit que la création de conseils scolaires homogènes de langue française à l'échelle provinciale est nécessaire. Ainsi, les Franco-Ontariennes et les Franco-Ontariens auraient la responsabilité de s'autogérer et de répondre à leurs besoins spécifiques. L'apprentissage commencerait dès le début dans la langue maternelle et le processus continuerait logiquement, pour ainsi dire. Le but ultime est de passer des paliers élémentaire, secondaire et postsecondaire pour en arriver au marché du travail. C'est l'essence même du système éducatif, de permettre à nos jeunes de se diriger avec assurance vers un avenir prometteur et prospère.

Voici ce que nous suggérons au gouvernement de l'Ontario pour amener les francophones à se sentir citoyennes et citoyens à part entière : déclarer que les communautés francophone, anglophone et autochtones ont égalité de statut en Ontario ; déclarer l'Ontario bilingue ; faire la promotion de la dualité linguistique dans la province ; mettre sur pied des institutions postsecondaires francophones et/ou créer un conseil scolaire homogène de langue française au niveau de la province. Il ne faut aucunement négliger les services juridiques, sociaux et communautaires, ceux de la santé et les services municipaux qui pourront émerger après une reconnaissance officielle en bonne et due forme de nos droits linguistiques.

À ce moment critique de l'histoire du Canada, le peuple ontarien et son gouvernement se doivent de prendre un rôle de leadership et de définir clairement les besoins et les intérêts de tous et de toutes. Il doit y avoir une volonté commune, celle de rester ensemble et de s'engager à faire sa juste part dans la concrétisation du projet Canada. C'est pour cette raison que notre association a cru bon de vous faire part de nos préoccupations en ce qui à trait à l'éducation en province, et aussi vous suggérer cinq moyens d'y parvenir.


The Chair: Our final speaker this evening is Helen Probert.

Ms Probert: Thank you, Mr Chairman. I speak for myself and my friends and my family. I have worked with native people since 1967. I do not presume to speak for them but I know many of their problems. I believe that, in spite of Oka and the publicity they have had lately, very few people know the conditions, especially in the northern areas, that native people live under. However this turns out, something should be done across the provinces to adjust to this problem.

I love Canada, all of it. I love it from Atlantic to Pacific to Arctic. I am a Canadian first and an Ontarian second. I do not understand why so many people are something else first and Canadian second. Maybe that is our problem, or part of it. Canada is enriched by the Quebec culture. We are enriched by the native culture, the English culture and all of the cultures that have been added since from all of the various places in the world. Instead of narrowing down to English only, French only, etc, we should rejoice in variety. More voices should be raised to this effort and to keep emphasizing that this is a very positive thing in our life. The distinctiveness of the French fact in Quebec is a fact, and I do not know why there is such an issue being made of it. Also, natives peoples, the first founding nation, are a distinctive people, and I do not see why we cannot admit that without this fractionization of the country.

I believe in a strong central government with flexibility to arrange equivalent but maybe slightly varied adjustments between areas. They do not all have to exactly be the same. They should balance out. I believe in a Charter of Rights. I believe in no trade or job barriers between provinces. Some things should be under the central government such as trade, monetary policy and the environment -- especially the environment -- health and defence.

I think there should be a Senate, a body of sober second thought, but not a body for party games. I have not made up my mind whether it should be elected or appointed in some fashion, but there should be a balance across the country. The way the various governments, especially the federal government, mismanaged Meech and the way the press reported the various happenings and the way Quebec misread Meech's rejection have tragically resulted in our drifting apart, stumbling towards breakup.

I am appalled at the dearth of strong voices speaking out for Canada. Most of the things you hear in the press are that such and such is wrong, something else is wrong, somebody else is finding this fault and somebody else is finding that fault. I think what we need are strong leaders in Quebec and across Canada and in the press, presenting the positive values and possibilities for Canada as a whole entity, rather than a broken-up and fractured group of separate countries. Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you very much, madam. On that note we conclude our hearings here in Hamilton. We want to thank all of the speakers here this evening and this afternoon. This also concludes for us the third week of hearings, and it has been a fascinating process for us so far. No doubt the remaining week, which has us beginning in Ottawa on Monday, will be equally challenging for us. We want to thank again people that came and invite people to continue to follow our proceedings over the parliamentary network. As I say, we begin again on Monday. Thank you very much. Good evening.

The committee adjourned at 2136.