Monday 28 January 1991

Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs

Legislative Research Service

Subcommittee Report



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 1612 in room 151.

The Chair: If I can call the meeting to order, welcome back to the members of the committee. For the members of the public who are following us on the parliamentary channel, this is of course a meeting of the select committee on Ontario in Confederation. Essentially, today's meeting is to allow the committee to get a briefing on some of the issues we need to keep in mind, particularly in terms of some of the things that are happening elsewhere in the country on the whole constitutional front and discussions happening through the various commissions or committees across the country. We will be getting some of that from the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs in a moment.

As committee members know, tomorrow the discussion paper will be released by the government. At this point, it looks as if the meeting we had previously scheduled for the morning will have to be changed to the afternoon -- probably 4 or, as I have now heard, 4:30 might make more sense; we can sort that out later on -- to allow us to have a briefing on the discussion paper tomorrow once the document is public.

We will also be getting some information from our legislative research staff on some of the work that has happened on the constitutional issues within Ontario in the past, leading up to the present time. Obviously, there will be some internal business of the committee that we will have to sort out as well today.

I did also want to say in starting that all of us are conscious that as we begin this work, our work may be affected and indeed probably will be affected by the events going on in the Gulf. I think we are conscious of the fact that our own thoughts and people's thoughts out there are by and large on what is going on in the Gulf. We have discussed informally, of course, what we ought to do about that. I think our sense at this point is that we need to continue with our work, keeping very much in mind the mood other people are in and the effect that what is going on in the Gulf is having on everyone. Just be conscious of that as we continue and make it clear that this is something we are also concerned about as members of the committee.


The Chair: I think we can proceed. I will invite the Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Mr Obonsawin, and his staff to join us at the table. Perhaps you could introduce the members of your staff, and we will let you carry on.

Mr Obonsawin: As everyone is taking their seats, could I introduce, starting from my far left, Tone Careless. Mr Careless is the senior policy co-ordinator on constitutional policy with the Ministry of the Attorney General. Next to Mr Careless is Louise Barry. Louise is an intergovernmental affairs officer with the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs and has been following more closely within the ministry over the past few months the discussions of the Bélanger-Campeau commission in Quebec. Next to me is Peter Sadlier-Brown. Peter is the assistant deputy minister of our office of federal-provincial relations within the ministry. To my immediate right is Chris Bredt. Chris is the director of the constitutional policy division within the Ministry of the Attorney General.

What we would like to do for the committee today is go over relatively briefly what we think are some initial key elements to the discussion. With your permission, Mr Chairman, and with the permission of the committee members, we would like to offer our thoughts within the first, let's say, 15 or 20 minutes. Then, following that, we would certainly welcome any questions and clarification. If we are able to give the bulk of the presentation at the same time, it just ensures some sort of consistency and follow-through in our approach.

To do that, I would like to invite Mr Bredt, first, to give you basically an overview of what the Constitution is and what are some of the important elements of this document we call the Constitution, which is to a certain extent the source of a number of our discussions. I will then try very briefly to give you a sense of what are some of the other elements in the environment that are deemed to be appropriate or in contention at this time, and then finish by very briefly trying to give you an overview of what the other provinces and other jurisdictions are doing, a little of the environment against which this select committee will be consulting in the company of a number of other committees across this country.

Mr Bredt: I thought it would be helpful for this committee to give you a kind of Cook's tour of the Constitution, an overview, to give you a basic understanding of the four fundamental areas of the Constitution.

It is important to recognize that the Constitution of Canada is largely contained in two documents. They are the Constitution Act, 1867, which was passed at the time of Confederation, and the Constitution Act, 1982, which is the act that was enacted in 1982 following a series of negotiations.

In talking about the Constitution, I am going to focus on four fundamental areas: first, national institutions; second, the division of powers between federal and provincial governments; third, fundamental rights, including the Charter of Rights and Freedoms; and, fourth, processes of the Constitution, primarily the amending formula.

Turning first to national institutions, the national institutions include the executive, the legislative and the judicial branches of government and are defined by the first Constitution Act, that is, the Constitution Act of 1867. Part III of that act vests executive government in the Queen and creates the position of Governor General to act as the Queen's representative in Canada, and also creates the Privy Council as a body to advise on the government of Canada.

The legislative branch of government is defined in Part IV of the 1867 Constitution. It creates the Parliament of Canada, which consists of the Senate and the House of Commons. The Senate, as I am sure you are aware, is made up of 104 senators who are appointed by the Governor General in Council, with representation divided as follows: Quebec and Ontario each have 24 senators; Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia -- all the western provinces -- have six senators each; Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have 10 senators: Prince Edward Island has four; Newfoundland, six, and the Northwest Territories and the Yukon each have one senator.


The House of Commons has 295 members and they are elected. The seats in the House are generally allocated based on the principle of representation by population. This of course is subject to a number of special rules, including the rule that each province must have at least as many members of the House as they have in the Senate. In theory, the powers of the Senate and the House of Commons are equal, with the caveat that money bills must originate in the House of Commons. The only method for breaking a deadlock is the power of the Governor General to appoint additional senators. Of course, you will all be aware that this power is now the subject of some litigation.

The third part of the national institutions is the judiciary. That is defined in part VII of the Constitution Act, 1867. The federal government is given the power to appoint all superior court judges. The federal government is also given the power to create a general Court of Appeal for Canada and has done so by creating the Supreme Court of Canada. It is important to note that that Supreme Court of Canada is not entrenched in the Constitution. The federal government, simply by repealing the Supreme Court Act, could eliminate that body at present.

The second major area of the Constitution I want to talk to you about is that of the division of powers between the federal and the provincial governments. Canada is established as a federal system with provincial governments and a federal government, each with its own specific areas of jurisdiction. Sections 91 and 92 of the 1867 act set out the basic division of powers.

The federal government is given power over those matters generally of national concern, things like interprovincial trade and commerce, the postal service, national defence, currency and banking. patents and copyright, the criminal law. The federal government is also given a general power to make laws for the peace, order and good government in Canada in relation to all matters not exclusively assigned to the provinces.

Provinces, on the other hand, are given jurisdiction over matters viewed as being more of local or private concern, such as education, hospitals and medical services, the administration of justice and property and civil rights in the province. Agriculture and immigration are shared areas of jurisdiction, with the federal legislation being paramount. This reflects in part the fact that in 1867 immigration was linked to agriculture, as the latter was a primary occupation of most new settlers to Canada in 1867.

I turn now to the third major area in the Constitution, that is, the area of fundamental rights and primarily the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In the previous section, I described the powers allocated to each level of government. This section describes instead the rights and freedoms given to the people of Canada to protect them against either level of government. The charter is found in the 1982 Constitution Act. It is important to note that the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the charter give protection against government action, not against private action. For example, discrimination by government is caught by the charter but discrimination by private individuals or by companies is not. Private discrimination is, however, subject to such legislation as the Ontario Human Rights Code.

The rights and freedoms guaranteed by the charter include fundamental freedoms such as freedom of religion, of expression, of association; democratic rights such as the right to vote in or run for election to the House of Commons or a Legislative Assembly; mobility rights including the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada; legal rights including the right to life, liberty and the security of the person; the right not to be arbitrarily detained and the right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment; equality rights, the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability; and language and minority education rights. including the recognition of the English and French languages as the official languages of Canada.

The charter also contains a number of general provisions that make clear that it is to be interpreted in a manner consistent with the preservation and enhancement of the multicultural heritage of Canada and that the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the charter are guaranteed equally to men and to women.

There are two important limitations on the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the charter. The first is section 1 of the charter, which makes clear that the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the charter are subject to such reasonable limitations as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society. The second limitation is section 33 of the charter, which is also known as the "notwithstanding" clause. This clause permits governments to override the charter.

Finally, I should note that section 35 of the 1982 Constitution Act, which is not part of the charter and accordingly is not subject to section 1 or section 33, the "notwithstanding" clause I spoke about earlier, protects the aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal people of Canada.

I turn now to the final major area of the Constitution, and that is the amending formula -- or formulas, because contained in part V of the 1982 Constitution Act are four different procedures for amending the Constitution. Under section 41, unanimous consent of Parliament and of all provincial Legislatures is required for a limited range of fundamental matters, including those things affecting the Supreme Court and changes to the amending formula itself.

Under section 38 and section 42, consent of Parliament and at least seven provincial Legislatures representing at least 50% of the Canadian population is required for most other matters. This is known as the 7-50 formula and is subject to a three-year time limit. This means that a proposed amendment under this section must achieve the required 7-50 within three years of the resolution initiating the amendment.

Section 43 of the 1982 act provides that amendments that affect one or more but not all provinces require only the consent of Parliament and of the Legislatures of the provinces affected. Thus, in the Meech Lake discussions, New Brunswick sought to entrench its bilingual status. Because this affected only New Brunswick, only the consent of the federal Parliament and the legislature of New Brunswick was required.

Finally, I note that pursuant to sections 44 and 45, both Parliament and each provincial legislature may unilaterally make certain kinds of amendments to their own internal constitutions.

This, then, is just a quick overview of the Constitution, and at the end of this presentation if any of the members here have questions I would be happy to respond to them at that time.

Mr Obonsawin: I have been doing this for a year and a half and I still have questions on that part of the activity.

It is in one way the most frustrating because it tends to be wrapped up in a lot of the legalistic approaches to it, but on the other hand, when people start sitting down and talking about their values and talking about what are some of the things they want to change, they somehow always come back to the Constitution and how they are embodied in the Constitution and reflected in the Constitution.

What I would like to do now is simply give you a little bit of history, a very quick history of some of the major episodes in the constitutional debate within Canada. Both of your research people, Mr Murray and Mr Kaye, I am sure, will be able to fill in the gaps and give you a few more of the details and possibly will be, I think, focusing on the Ontario experience.


Just to try to give you, necessarily very briefly in 5 or 10 minutes, a sense of the history and what has brought us to this current situation, I suppose that our history could in fact be traced to a series of first ministers' conferences that in fact began in 1968. They began in 1968 basically to try to accomplish two issues, one to deal with Quebec's sense of dissatisfaction with, at that time, its constitutional fate, and at the same time, back in 1968, to deal with division of responsibilities, roles and responsibilities, between the federal government and the provinces. There were a number, as you know, of events which followed the tentative agreement of what was called the Victoria formula, which was an amending process that had been put together in Victoria back in 1971. There were then a number of other elections which culminated in the referendum in 1980 in Quebec. At that point in time, the arguments against the referendum had basically been that a no vote would be reflected in a renewed federalism at that time.

Consequently, in light of the referendum, in light of the federal government's desire to push forward a constitutional solution to the various questions that were outstanding, there was a constitutional conference in 1980 which was followed by another conference in 1981. That culminated in one of the documents that Chris Bredt spoke earlier about, the Constitution Act. It culminated in the Canada act of 1982, which included patriation of our Constitution back to the homeland and at the same time also made provisions for the Charter of Rights. However, at that time, for a number of reasons, Quebec refused to agree to the new constitutional framework, so their constitutional demands during that round had been left basically, from their perspective, unanswered.

At the same time, with the acceptance of the Constitution Act of 1982, there was a section in there which provided for a process whereby the rights and the aspirations of the aboriginal people would also be addressed. They would be addressed, as specified, through a series of first ministers' conferences. The first meeting was held in March 1983. At that meeting there was a commitment made for three additional first ministers' conferences on aboriginal issues. The final meeting on aboriginal issues culminated in 1987, in what I think has been regarded as a failure. The rights of the aboriginal people within the Constitution had again remained unresolved.

Between the commitments of the first ministers in 1983 to address the commitments of the aboriginal people and the failure of the processes with Quebec, a number of events took place which you may want to remember. First of all, there was the election of the new government in Quebec in 1985. There was a meeting in 1985 of first ministers. At that point they agreed that they would meet annually, and in 1985 there was an agreement to have an annual meeting for five years, at which time that five-year agreement could be renewed. As you know, that five-year agreement ended in 1990, and the desire to have that series of meetings has not been renewed. At the same time, in 1986, at the second meeting, the premiers agreed under what was called, and what you will be hearing in the future referred to as, the Edmonton declaration of 1986. that the constitutional priority of the first ministers would be Quebec. There was not a refusal to deal with other issues, but it was agreed in 1986 at that Edmonton declaration that Quebec's constitutional issues would be dealt with first.

Following that Edmonton declaration, the Quebec government outlined five requests or five points that it then sold, explained, defined across the country. It led to a convening of first ministers at Meech Lake in 1987 and a final agreement at Meech Lake -- in Ottawa, actually -- on 3 June 1987, the document that we have known over the past few years as Meech Lake.

Initially, there seemed to be a sigh of relief that there had been some progress done on the constitutional floor. However, five elements quickly changed, if you wish, the environment of those debates.

There were, first of all, concerns that the changes to the amending formula under Meech Lake would make Senate reform difficult, if not impossible. The rights of the Canadian aboriginal people and multicultural groups were deemed to have been, by some, ignored. The rights of the north were ignored, not referred to, and certainly the notion of provincial status was deemed to be much more difficult to attain, if not even impossible. Fourth, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was deemed by some to be limited by the "distinct society" clause that was offered at that point in the Meech Lake document. Fifth, the rights of French-speaking minorities outside Quebec were deemed not to be protected. There were more issues, but those seemed to be the five that seemed to be recurrent and that became, really, the focus of the discussions from 1987 to 1990.

The Meech Lake accord was also a casualty of the reality of changing of premierships across the country. In Manitoba, New Brunswick and again in Newfoundland, there had been a change in the leadership, the premiership, of those provinces, so as you know, the premiers who had signed the agreement from those provinces were no longer there and the new premiers brought with them a number of the concerns that I have outlined below. So basically the Meech Lake accord failed to be ratified by its 23 June 1990 deadline, and what began as a constitutional agenda in the late 1960s continues to be unfinished.

There are a number of other pressures that I think you will be encountering over your travels and over your consultations here in Ontario and abroad that I just want to spend a few moments with you outlining. We can have an opportunity to discuss them further, or they will become much more evident as your consultations take place. There is certainly within the country a sense of regionalism that is growing. There are many reasons for that. I am sure the people in Ontario will give you a clearer sense as to what they are, but certainly the sense of isolation from, be it the Maritimes or the western provinces, a sense of domination by central Canada, the new trading relationships that have developed with the free trade agreement, have all caused an increase in the sense of regionalism that we now observe in this country.

The social forces of the country are very much different than those that were referred to by Chris Bredt earlier when he talked about why certain responsibilities were put in the Constitution. Immigration was linked to agriculture because that reflected the colour of the immigration, it reflected the environment of the immigration. Today, the social forces within our society are very much different. The changing demographics, the rising rates of immigration in this country, and more particularly in this province, mean that the situation just is not the same as it was back in 1987.

Another important element that we would want you to remember is the forces of globalization themselves. There is an increased interdependence on international markets and that calls into question the need for various programs to either support or counterbalance that interdependence, that international marketplace. The role of the federal government or the provincial government with respect to immigration, with respect to job training, with respect to support of the industry, the role of procurement. all those traditional, so to speak, programs and initiatives, are now being challenged because of the impact of globalization and Ontario's need to participate and to live within the new rules as they are being developed by free trade, by GATT negotiations, etc.

There is also more and more, because of the changing forces within our social fabric, an increased demand for greater protection of some of our minorities -- aboriginal minorities, the multicultural minorities, women's rights and others. I would not want to list them, because I would fear to forget one or two. Certainly the whole relationship between the collective rights and the individual rights is a topic of concern, and as Chris indicated earlier, has been a major topic of discussion and concern when changing the Constitution.


Just very briefly, I would like to go over with you some of the initiatives now that other provinces or other jurisdictions have undertaken. If I could beg your indulgence, I would just like to cover with you. very briefly, what seem to be some of the focuses of those other government initiatives, just so that you can either compare yours with theirs or be sensitive as to what they are looking at as opposed to what you are looking at so that you can prepare Ontario's response to somehow have some reality with what some other parts of the country are looking at. You can take notes or we can send you this material following our briefing today.

Starting from our western cousins, British Columbia has established a cabinet committee. You will also notice the various number of differences in the process itself and the membership of those processes themselves. Hence, British Columbia has developed a cabinet committee on Confederation, as it is called, and it is composed of seven cabinet ministers, including the Premier.

They basically have three areas of focus. The first one is to try to look at the practical realities of managing a federation as large as ours, with regions as diverse as ours.

The second focus is, they are looking at a restructuring of the federal system, how better to restructure the federal system, which in fact lessens the dominance of central Canada in national policymaking -- so you see right at the outset this concern -- and at the same time, which not only looks at how to lessen the dominance of central Canada but which also looks at reducing unnecessary duplication between the various levels of government, more particularly the federal and provincial levels. That is the second area of interest.

The third area of interest for them is basically citizen participation, looking at effective and appropriate mechanisms to ensure their citizens' participation in this process.

We do not know at the current time how the committee intends to proceed. I am checking my notes here to see when they will be reporting. We have no sense as to when they will be reporting.

Moving eastward now, the government of Alberta has set up a task force of seven government members. Some of them are ministers. It is chaired by the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Mr Horsman, and it includes six other government members. Over the past few months they have conducted a number of what they call round tables. They have travelled across the province and they have discussed four issues.

The first one was an overview of federalism, so they had experts. They had Ron Watts and Peter Meekison, two experts, travel to -- I forget what community it was. It was a northern community. It was kind of a town hall, public meeting type of session. Both Mr Watts and Mr Meekison gave their sense of where federalism had been and where it was going. There was a discussion among the task force members, there were discussions from the floor and there was a document or report that was produced out of those discussions.

The second round table was on the dynamics of federalism. At that point, they looked at three areas in particular. They looked at aboriginal rights, and they had an Alberta aboriginal leader come to them and explain to them what aboriginal people in Alberta were looking for from federation. They had a university professor from one of the provincial universities talk about charter issues. That was the second area of interest.

The third area of interest was institutional reform. They had the executive director, I believe, of the Canada West Foundation talking about institutional reform from a western perspective. Again, there was a discussion document prepared. Your researchers will have those documents, or if not, we can make them available. They arrived last week in our offices.

The third round table was on restructuring federalism. I have not read that one yet so I do not know really what it was about. But certainly I am sure they were looking at ways and means and alternatives to the restructuring of the federation.

The fourth round table dealt with the amending process and the economics of federalism. Basically, again, they had the University of Calgary and University of Alberta professors giving their perspective as to what their thoughts were on the amending processes and on the economics of federalism. That is about the extent that I have of that information.

Those four round tables have been summarized in documents. They are now preparing - "they" meaning the task force -- a discussion document which will be circulated soon across the province for some sort of consultation process. They have not, at this current time to the best of our knowledge, identified what that process will look like or what format it will take.

Basically, that discussion document should be released within the next few weeks. There will then hence be this public consultation process in the spring, and though we are anticipating some sort of report to their Legislature before the summer, no formal announcement on their reporting deadline has been made, in one way, officially, it is up in the air.

The next western province, depending if you are a CFL fan or not, which has an activity going, is Manitoba. It has put together a seven-member, all-party constitutional task force. It is basically the same model that they used for the preparation of their constitutional position during Meech lake, so it is chaired by Professor Fox-Decent. It is then made up of a number of representatives from all the other parties. It is, again, a committee of seven made up of an all-party membership.

They are looking at six or seven specific issues. I will just go over them very briefly with you.

One is Senate reform. The second one is charter rights and implications on aboriginals and women's rights and the impact on multicultural heritage. The third area is the amending formula and amending processes for constitutional change. The fourth area they are looking at is division of powers. The fifth is, what are the overall constitutional priorities for Manitoba? The sixth area of interest for them will be to study the constitutional reform proposals from the other jurisdictions and to prepare an initial recommendation to the government of Manitoba on how Manitoba might react to those other provincial or federal proposals.

They are in a process now and they begin on 31 January, which is in the next few days, their public hearings. They will run until 9 February. They are scheduled to prepare an interim report by the end of March 1991, slightly after yours for the time being, and a final report to follow later. We are not quite sure what that means.

There is then the Bélanger-Campeau commission in Quebec. I am sure you have read a lot about it. but I just remind you that it is made up of 34 members: the Premier, the Leader of the Opposition, the leader of the Equality Party, MNAs from each party -- Liberal, Conservative and Bloc québécois MPPs -- so national Liberal, national Conservative and national Bloc québécois MPs. representatives of business, labour, arts, culture, anglophones, allophones and youth groups are members of the committee.

As you know, the committee's mandate is to examine and analyse the political and constitutional status of Quebec and to make recommendations on that. They have held already a number of public hearings across the province. They began in November and they went on until 18 January. A special forum for the youth was convened 22 January to 23 January.

The commission up until now has heard submissions from about 260 individuals or groups. They also invited 109 experts some time in November from various fields -- law, sociology, economics, political science, etc -- to submit their reaction to a series of questions. There were eight questions that they wished to have some input from the experts. Out of those 109 experts, 53 experts submitted answers, and of those 53, 27 of them were invited to appear before the committee. I think it is fair to say that a majority of the submissions before the commission has advocated some sort of sovereignty.


The final provincial jurisdiction to have announced an initiative is the province of New Brunswick. They have appointed a nine-person commission on Canadian federalism. It is basically composed of MLAs and of representatives from business, academic, native and francophone communities and it basically seem to have two areas of particular attention. One is to make recommendations on how the federation can be strengthened. The other is to examine the current state of the federation and to make recommendations on its renewal. So there is strengthening the federation and recommendations on renewal of the federation.

In addition, the commission has been asked and invited to reflect very specifically on New Brunswick's two official linguistic communities and aboriginal communities as important elements that will strengthen the province in the national federation.

We understand that the commission is now currently in the process of writing a discussion document which it hopes to release very soon. It will then be the focus of a series of discussion groups throughout the province.

An interim report is tentatively scheduled for December 1991, though in my discussions with my colleagues there is a sensitivity to the deadlines from all the other provinces and other jurisdictions and it will be the subject of ongoing discussions within their own task force, but as initially invited and announced by the Premier of that province last fall, they are tentatively scheduled right now to produce an interim by December 1991 with a final report scheduled for July 1992.

There are two or three other initiatives which I would just simply like to remind you of. It will probably simply remind you of the fact that you are not the only jurisdiction either in Ontario or in the country studying this area. There is the Spicer commission that you have all heard of, I am sure, with 12 members. They seem to have three objectives.

The first is to develop a consensus on shared values within the country, looking at what are the common interests. The second is to solicit views on bilingualism, regionalism, multiculturalism, aboriginal peoples' place in the federation and external pressures on Canada in the future. That is basically a summary of the type of questions that they have been circulating and asking people. The third is to get Canadians in all walks of life to talk to each other, to discuss this matter among themselves.

The commission's work has been divided into what we call four phases. Are these ours or theirs?

Mr Sadlier-Brown: Theirs.

Mr Obonsawin: Theirs, okay, great.

The first phase is -- using some of the words; this is reminiscent of some of the things we might say -- the briefing sessions to try to get a sense of how Canadians want to express their opinions. They have been going around to opinion leaders and to various focus groups and trying to get a sense of how to solicit that input. The second phase is called the ventilation phase, which will allow Canadians to let off steam. That is why I was wondering if those were our words or their words. The third phase is the dialogue phase, which is there to encourage Canadians to try to find some sort of approach, some sort of constructive solution to the unity question. The fourth phase is called the focus phase, which tries to really deduce trends and which will culminate in the completion of their report.

In addition to that federal initiative, there is another one, potentially a more technical one, I suppose, which is a special joint Senate and House of Commons committee on the amending formula. It was announced in early December and basically has one focus, that is, to look at how to improve the process of amending the Constitution. It is also to report, as I may have omitted to indicate earlier, at the same time as the Spicer committee, which is again on 1 July 1991.

The committee is headed by Jim Edwards, an MPP from Edmonton, and Senator Gerald Beaudoin as co-chairs. They have not, to the best of our knowledge, finalized their process and have not given a sense of how they plan to entail. We only received very recently a list of their members, and even that I notice is still incomplete, but we certainly have it if people would like to know who the members are. It is very long.

In the private sector there are also a number of other initiatives happening. The editor of the Financial Post, Mr Godfrey, has made it public for some time that he feels there needs to be a non-governmental dialogue in this nature. I do not really want to scoop him or give you a sense as to what he would like to announce, but simply to say that during the spring and summer one can expect the Financial Post to be certainly involved in the debate.

We understand that there may be some supplements which would cover subjects such as aboriginals, regional development, collective versus individual rights, international competitiveness, and where do we go from here? Those at the current time seem to be the areas of interest for that activity, and it is being led by a non-profit organization which is trying now to raise the funding to be able to do that. There is seemingly some interest from at least one national television channel, one national television chain, to have some national discussions around those supplements that would be printed in the Financial Post.

There is also the Business Council on National Issues, the BCNI, as it is known for short. They have held a number of workshops or symposiums lately to try to get the business community focusing in on the issues. They had a symposium on 16 January where 13 papers from major academics and practitioners from across the country were presented, again outlining for the business people what were some of the choices, what were some of the issues. It is our understanding that they plan on trying to come together some time in February or March with a position which would potentially represent BCNI's official position and with which they would be attempting to influence the other forums that are doing what you are doing across the country.

We know that the Canadian Association for Business Economics, the C. D. Howe Institute and I am sure a number of other institutes are getting together under various processes and forums to talk about the issue and to be active in soliciting their views to this select committee and to the other committees that are travelling across the country.

The Chair: Thank you very much for that overview. Are there any questions on the part of the committee members?

Mrs V. O'Neill: You did not mention another group that seemed to have sprung forward last week, and I just wondered if they have actually got any status. I am talking about the networking group at the University of Ottawa that seemed to have a very interesting project. I do not even know what the membership is, but could you say a little bit about that?

Mr Obonsawin: I only read that when I was in Quebec City, Gordon Robertson's group, and I know that a discussion of that came out of one of the sessions that was held in McGill last fall. There simply was a bit of a frustration from a lot of the people who were working on all those areas. They really did not know who was doing what, what the terms of reference were for everyone, who was going to be finishing first, second and third. At that point in time, hence about eight months ago, the idea was to simply have a central information repository, a place -

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Data gathering.

Mr Obonsawin: That is right, a place that would have a bit of a pulse as to what was happening nationally. I do not know if that is what Mr Robertson has taken up and is going with. Peter, do you know?

Mr Sadlier-Brown: No.

Mrs V. O'Neill: He is talking about volunteers, it seems, and this seems like a monumental job for volunteers. Could you get us an update on what is going on up there? I would appreciate that.

Mr Obonsawin: We will.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I have one other question. In the Alberta situation, are we still sticking with government members only?

Mr Obonsawin: To the best of my knowledge, they are.

Mrs V. O'Neill: Even in their public consultation?

Mr Obonsawin: The task force members are government only. As to the people who attend, that is open.


Mr Beer: I wonder if you might just set out for us as well -- I believe the Quebec Liberal Party will be submitting its report, given that it is the government that is going to have some fairly heavy play -- if you would, for our benefit and also for those viewing, tell us what their time lines are.

Second, in the process that Chris was speaking to around the amending formula, could you tell us a little bit more about how section 43 would work in terms of the federal government coming to an understanding with a province? I know that immigration powers have been discussed and came out of Meech, that this would be perhaps one place where in effect there could be an agreement. What kinds of agreements have been reached under that that we might look at as examples and what sense do you have as to how seriously the federal government is looking at that route as one way to at least get around some problems of trying to get unanimity or even 7-50?

Mr Obonsawin: I will deal with the first one right away, just with maybe key dates in the province of Quebec. There was, as you know, the Parti québécois conference this weekend, at which point they developed a series of approaches as to how they would deal with their election and a referendum which they are calling for.

We understand that tomorrow the Liberal Party of Quebec will be issuing what is termed in the business to be the Allaire report, which is the recommendation from its constitutional committee to the Liberal Party.

Mr Beer: Could I just interrupt briefly? Your understanding is that will be tomorrow, not next week, but tomorrow?

Mr Obonsawin: That is right.

Mrs V. O'Neill: So they have speeded it up.

Mr Obonsawin: It has never been clear in our minds when it was. So it would be tomorrow. I just want you to realize what it is. It is their constitutional committee's recommendation to their party. Their party will then get together on 8, 9 and 10 March, and at the conference the recommendations of the Allaire report will be put before the membership and the membership will then vote for what the Liberal Party stand will be. To go any further, one simply gets into speculation. The government will then have to decide what it wishes to do.

The other key date is 28 March, which is the Bélanger-Campeau committee report.

Now for the easy one.

Mr Bredt: This one is not as easy as one would think.

Mr Beer: You made it sound so easy, I thought.

Mr Bredt: It is difficult to give the members of this committee a definitive interpretation of section 43 because it has never been used before. The only time that it was thought to be used was during the Meech process when New Brunswick came forward with its proposal to entrench its language legislation. The thought was that that could be simply done bilaterally by the federal government and by the province.

I think it is important, when you look at the actual wording of section 43, that there are two alternative approaches that might be taken to it. The first approach is that it would apply only to provisions that are currently in existence that are unique to one or more provinces, and there are a number of provisions like that. For example, section 133 of the Constitution applies only to Quebec; certain provisions of the charter apply only to New' Brunswick. So this first and more narrow interpretation would say that section 43 is limited to provisions already in existence, or similar provisions, to change them simply bilaterally or trilaterally, depending upon the number of provinces that are involved.

An alternative interpretation and a broader interpretation would be that it could be used for any bilateral amendment. The reason for the ambiguity is because the language of section 43 itself is somewhat ambiguous. It says, "An amendment to the Constitution of Canada in relation to any provision that applies to one or more but not all provinces," and then suggests things like boundaries or amendments to provisions dealing with the French and English languages.

This second, broader interpretation could be applied to an area like, for example, immigration. Immigration is currently a provision that applies equally to all provinces under section 95. There is concurrent jurisdiction between the federal government and the provincial government with the federal government's legislation being paramount, so that currently to the extent there is a conflict between federal legislation and provincial initiatives, the federal legislation would prevail over the provincial legislation.

Under a broader interpretation then, an amendment could be made to the provision to create special provisions with respect to one province or the other. Because there has not been any interpretation, it is unclear whether the narrower interpretation is applicable or the broader one, although it is our view that the narrower interpretation is more likely to be accepted by the courts.

Mr Beer: Just a short supplementary from your last statement then. One of the suggestions has been that, on the so-called area of language, culture, communications and immigration, would this be a vehicle by which the federal government could, if it wanted, come to an understanding with Quebec on the powers in those areas? Is it your sense that that would probably not be likely?

Mr Bredt: I think the fairest answer is that you would have to look at it on a case-by-case approach. With respect to language, for example, section 133 clearly applies only to Quebec. So an amendment to that provision could be agreed to bilaterally between the federal government and the provincial government, because that is a particular provision currently in existence that applies specially to one province.

As you move to other areas, immigration being an alternative example, then you would have to get into this legal question as to the broader interpretation versus the more narrow interpretation.

Mr Malkowski: You talked a little bit about the provinces in Canada and the Constitution. I am wondering about the national committee that is looking after native affairs. Are there any plans to consult and bring native people more into the picture? Could you clarify that'?

Mr Obonsawin: To the best of my knowledge, the short answer is no. My reading of the situation is that there has been a bit of confusion about the role of the so-called Spicer commission with respect to the native issue. The Prime Minister has asked Mr Spicer to have special consideration for the aboriginal questions and certainly that is part of the general terms of reference. But at one point in time Mr Spicer had been asked to develop a different and a dedicated process for dealing with aboriginal issues and that does not seem to be happening.

I suppose the other area of action by the federal government is that it has deemed to deal with a number of aboriginal issues, in its mind, through enhancing a number of its programs. Ministries like Health and Welfare Canada and Indian Affairs have been asked to do some fast-tracking and to do more intense negotiations, certainly on the notion of land claims. The Minister of Indian Affairs has received support from cabinet to hasten the discussions of the land claims.

But again, just to summarize, as far as the consultation process is concerned, it is integrated with the Spicer commission and does not appear at this point in time to be getting a special dedicated process attached to it.

Mr Malkowski: Could you then just update us with some information about what movement is going to be happening and what is going to be happening with our own standing committee, if we are going to be hearing anything from aboriginals?

The Chair: That is obviously something that we will have to take a look at. I think, as you know, we are trying to ensure that through our outreach people we do make contact with people in the various constituencies, and certainly particularly among those would be the native communities. Mrs O'Neill?

Mrs V. O'Neill: Mr Beer asked the question I was going to ask.


Ms Churley: You mentioned five major issues that were part of the problem with Meech. I realize there were more, but you did not mention women's rights. My understanding is that there were a number of women's groups across the country with some real concerns, and I am wondering if you could address that briefly and give us a little bit of background around those particular issues.

Mr Obonsawin: First of all. I apologize for not mentioning it. They are certainly in my notes, and as I was reading too quickly I omitted it, but that was certainly an area of interest. Could I ask you to comment a little bit about the interest on women's issues, especially with respect to some of the constitutional articles that were being referred to in that discussion?

Mr Bredt: Sure. I think the prime area of concern centred on the impact of the "distinct society" clause. The "distinct society" clause gave the Quebec government the power to preserve and promote Quebec's distinct nature. The last part of the Meech Lake accord made clear that aboriginal rights and multicultural rights would not be affected by the "distinct society" clause. I think the concern among the women's groups was that, because of the absence of a reference to the provision in the charter protecting equality for both men and women in that last clause, women s rights might be adversely affected by the "distinct society" clause.

Ms Churley: I have one other question. unrelated. What is the Canada West Foundation? Perhaps I should know this, but I am just curious because it was mentioned as part of the Alberta -

Mr Obonsawin: You can tell by the smiles on our faces that we are not quite sure what it is except that it is a foundation that is certainly very interested in promoting western values and the western point of view within a number of political discussions.

Ms Churley: So it is primarily a political advocacy --

Mr Obonsawin: I do not think it is a registered political party. It would probably be incorporated under an organizational -- what would you call those, charitable organizations? That is a good question, actually. I do not think we have ever investigated the actual standing of the party. Tony, do you know?

Dr Careless: Yes, I just have a bit of information. The Canada West Foundation goes back quite some number of years. It goes back to about 1981. It is a group that I think started at the University of Calgary. It is an academically based group that then was supported by a number of people in the private sector and remained that way, basically a private sector group. They do not take a position that supports one party or another, but if you are asking where there is a political expression of their interests, I think their greatest impact probably has been, number one, that the Reform Party of the west, although it calls itself the Reform Party of Canada, would have picked up many of the ideas. In particular, the idea they are most interested in, that Canada West would have done most of the research on, is the issue of Senate reform. The phrase "triple E," elected, equal and effective, was an idea that in some fashion sprang out of the Canada West Foundation research.

Some of the work that has been done by the government of Alberta, when it brought forward a number of its proposals in the last round of constitutional discussions, would equally have been affected by the research that had been done by the Canada West Foundation.

Mr Beer: One of the things that is very different in a sense in this committee, from our work three years ago, is that at that time there was a specific document we were looking at, and groups and individuals could respond to that, as could we as members of the committee. Here we have a broader mandate and in point of fact some of it is in a sense dealing with, I suppose, elements that are not constitutional in any legal sense, but rather we are trying to get a sense of where Ontarians are and how we feel and think about our country.

None the less, with the focus in this case particularly on Ontario and what our place is in Confederation, and looking at what is going on in the other provinces, not just Quebec but certainly in the western provinces, I am wondering, in terms of the sort of research, the kind of information we are going to need, I suppose, around different scenarios and what are the consequences of some of those scenarios for the province economically, socially, culturally -- in a number of areas -- are there some major research projects we could tap into that you are aware of that are ongoing through any of the major universities or business organizations or indeed that perhaps the province or the federal government may be undertaking?

At some point down the line, I would think we need to a have a better sense of what some of the different scenarios are going to mean for this province, because some of those are extreme, whether coming out of Quebec or out of different parts of the west. I think this becomes much more important in a sense for this committee than perhaps it was previously. You may have some of the answers to that, but I think it would be very helpful to the committee if there were other things that you needed to go away and look up.

What are the things that are ongoing and what are the things that we should perhaps be trying to focus on as we go through, not just in our February trip but really the longer route through to the end of June?

Mr Obonsawin: Tone, have you got any -- Tone is always plugged into that area.

Dr Careless: I might help with the first half of the question and not perhaps say too much about the second half.

The deputy minister mentioned in his presentation that there are two large private sector organizations that in Ontario have had conferences or symposia. One is the C. D. Howe Institute located in Toronto and the other one is the Business Council on National Issues and they recently held symposia in Toronto.

The input into those two symposia is very extensive. Primarily at this point it has come from the academic community and therefore the groups who have been active previously, the interest groups we have been talking about, have not explicitly been asked to make an input. But if I might suggest, either an examination of the work they have already done or a consultation with their research directors I think would give you a very good overview of the work that has been covered.

I know that the Business Council on National Issues, for example, under the work of Ron Watts that we mentioned, has a number of pieces of material that are now publicly available for consideration. I know also that the C. D. Howe Institute is intending to bring out in the next month or so the result of its symposia. I think an examination of the table of contents would give a sense of the breadth with which the academic community has approached this particular issue this time around.

The Chair: I would just add to that, Mr Beer, that just on one of those two pieces, I in fact spoke with Mr Watts early this afternoon and he did comment exactly about the series of papers that was presented at the conference, I guess it was just in the middle of January, through the Business Council on National Issues. Those papers are on their way to my office and I will distribute them to the members of this committee. I was going to raise that later on, but your question was right on that point.

Mr Beer: Can I just ask one last part on this? The Bélanger-Campeau commission has prepared a number of papers. It seems to me there were some on the economic side. Are there some there that are in the public domain and would be useful for us to look at?

Ms Barry: I think perhaps I will answer that question. The commission invited 27 experts to make oral presentations to it, and in fact we do have copies of several of these submissions and many of them are economic. So perhaps what we can do is make those available to you.

Mr Beer: Was there documentation behind those submissions? I am looking as well for perhaps where somebody made a submission but where in fact there is some pretty extensive research that has been done on that particular issue. Is that available?

Ms Barry: As far as I know, what the experts were asked to do was to respond to eight written questions. A lot of those questions did not really get into the economics in great depth, but what we can do is take a look at what we have, and in addition to that we can contact the commission and see what else we can get for you.


Mr Obonsawin: I think in a general sense what you might want to do, Mr Chairman, is simply get your research staff together with some of our people. The University of Toronto, the University of Saskatchewan, there are a number of universities and other forums that are in the process of organizing events and preparing papers. So we would keep you abreast as to what is happening and give you copies of what is out there in the public domain.

Mr Beer: I think we do not want to reinvent the wheel.

Mr Obonsawin: That is right.

Mr Beer: The tendency is to get everybody doing what perhaps has already been done and let's take advantage of that.

Mr Obonsawin: Yes.

Mr Harnick: Are you in a position to provide us with a detailed summary of the objectives of each of the other commissions and some of the questions that they have been asking?

Mr Obonsawin: Certainly I can give you what I outlined today in writing, and then we can certainly have the people who have been monitoring some of these more closely give you a broader sense of what the discussion has been.

Mr Harnick: We see the 14 questions that the Spicer commission is concerned with. What I would like to see is what the thrust of some of the provincial commissions is.

Mr Obonsawin: I think this is why maybe we should be working with some of your research people. The Alberta situation produced four reports which basically are a summary of the discussion that evening. We could give you that, or we could work with your own counsels to provide summaries of that. Why do we not make an agreement that we will get some of that going?

Mr Harnick: Could some of that be available to us before we start seeing witnesses?

Mr Obonsawin: Okay.

The Chair: I think on each of those we will have to have our people talk with you, as you said. Mr Obonsawin, sift out what would be of use to us and put that in some kind of summary form for the members of the committee.

Mrs V. O'Neill: I hope they will be executive summaries.

The Chair: Yes.

Mrs V. O'Neill: I want to verify, the Spicer people have abandoned their questions, correct? What are they doing with all those kits they threw around?

Mr Obonsawin: I read that in the paper too. Do you have an update on that, Peter?

Mrs V. O'Neill: They found them too confining and people were not speaking to them. Does anybody know the status of what is happening to those?

Mr Sadlier-Brown: My understanding is that they are in the process of revising the questions to make them more accessible than they were. I think they were designed largely for the purpose of compilation and other sort of commission-oriented objectives rather than making easy questions for the public to deal with. They have had some difficulty with them.

Mrs V. O'Neill: Kind observation. l would like to ask you about the Business Council on National Issues. This has been a concern of mine for a long time, like five years. In the discussions right from 1982, I guess, if I want to go back that far, we very seldom heard real business people speaking to this issue at all -- I am very pleased, I did not know the Financial Post was going to put out supplements -- and now you say that the Business Council on National Issues will take part. I think you reported the papers presented were mostly from academic people, whom I respect highly.

I wanted to ask you if you know anything about who attended. I guess what I am worried about, and I have certainly not kept it as any secret that I am concerned, and even within my own community, is that the Kiwanis, the chamber of commerce, the board of trade -- let's face it, the community that I come from is in very close proximity to economic interdependence of our two provinces.

I guess I am asking you if any of these kinds of people attend to listen to these papers, or do you know that? I just wonder if you can help me to allay some of my fears. This country was founded on economic ties, and I know you mentioned the free trade agreement as being one of the difficulties that now seem to be changing the focus of our discussions. Do you understand my concern? Maybe you can help me through it a little.

Mr Obonsawin: Certainly there was a good representation of business people. Tone has been kind of following these other activities and he may be able to give us better details of that.

Dr Careless: Yes. I hope I have not misled you here.

The symposium that I referred to was one in which the entire council -- I think there must be 150 members in some capacity on that council -- asked academics to prepare for a couple of months on a number of topics. Although I was not in attendance at the meeting, what I read in the newspaper was that the council then, after hearing this presentation for two days, struck task forces of its own members in order to go back and come forward with a series of recommendations to their council. So it seemed to me that the academics were asked to --

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I am sorry. I do not know the makeup of this council. They are actually members of the business community in leadership roles in their own communities?

Dr Careless: That is right, CEOs. That is correct.

Mrs V. O'Neill: That is a little bit of a comfort.

Mr Obonsawin: What we could do is just give you an indication of who the memberships of the BCNI are and we might even talk to the organizers of BCNI just to see to what extent we could release some of that information.

Mrs V. O'Neill: I do hope that we will get members of the business community coming forward.

Mr Obonsawin: Certainly it is our understanding that BCNI is very quickly at work in February so that it will be able to put forth its position that it hopes to have before forums such as this.

Mr Winninger: Given the bewildering array of committees like our own studying the future of Confederation across Canada, and even the absence of any firm dates for first ministers' conferences, how do you see the machinery evolving to resolve what will probably be many diverse viewpoints on the future of Confederation, both from the provincial committees and nationally?

Mr Obonsawin: How long do I have?

Mr Winninger: I know it smacks of crystal-ball gazing, but I am just wondering how our Intergovernmental Affairs ministry is going to come to grips with this situation of many committees operating simultaneously.

Mrs V. O'Neill: One day at a time.

Mr Obonsawin: One day at a time. Actually, that is truly the answer. The question you are asking is the $64,000 question: I guess it is the $64-million question now. The current difficulty we have with Quebec's position of not wanting at the current time to engage in multilateral discussions, the fact that the first ministers have not agreed to a future first ministers' conference and the fact that the various jurisdictions are busily working at the constitutional issues and also some of their own other priorities all make this a very difficult point to crystal-ball with.

Chris has a point to make, but before I turn it over to him, obviously at the current time -- and I do not know what is going to change -- certainly with the déclenchement of whatever happens in Quebec, I think that will probably start as a focus of the discussion and then it becomes a question of the process.

There are a number of reports that are going to be presented, one of them, as we talked about earlier, the Beaudoin report looking at processes of amendment. Maybe they will come up with something that people are interested in. Maybe this committee may come up with an idea or two on future processes and how to get people around the table: maybe another jurisdiction will. But it is just not enough to define what the various interests and problems are. One also has to be very sensitive to how it is all going to come together.

There is another answer here which may be even better.

Mr Bredt: I doubt that, but I will just toss in a few bons mots. I think, in terms of helping this committee come to grips with that issue, because that is going to be one of the critical issues that the country is going to have to grapple with, first, there has been a federal discussion paper that has been looking at the amending formula wherein they have discussed at least some of these issues; and second, some of the papers that we have agreed to provide to you look at the process issue and look at solutions to it through things like constituent assemblies and so forth. I guess I would urge this committee to read some of those papers and reports.

Mr Obonsawin: Tone Careless has been with the government I think basically through most of these discussions.

Dr Careless: Since 1867.

Mr Obonsawin: Since 1867, so Tone Careless is a very precious member of the government when it comes to these questions.

Dr Careless: I was not going to give anything quite as impressive as a response. I was just going to pick up on your question and say that in addition to the sources that Chris has mentioned, there are a number of people in this collection of academics I have referred to who have particularly looked at this. I am thinking of Professor Peter Russell at the University of Toronto, for example. You may find that there are some good resources there who have given quite a bit of thought to how we could somehow get out of the process in which bureaucrats and elites rearrange the country. There may be other ideas that they could bring forward to you.


Mr Obonsawin: I think that as you are able to go over some of my comments when they are in written form, you will also see that a lot of the other provinces in fact are looking at that, so it becomes part of the dialogue.

The Chair: I have no one else on the list. Are there any other questions? Mr Obonsawin and his staff I think have agreed to remain with us for a little while so that when we finish the public session, if there are any comments or further discussion informally, that could also happen afterwards. Thank you very much for the presentation.


The Chair: We will proceed now to a briefing from the legislative research staff, Philip Kaye.

Mr Kaye: I have been asked to briefly review the reports of the last two constitutional committees of the Legislature. The first report is by the select committee on constitutional reform, which was created in November 1987 and was chaired by Mr Beer. The other committee is the select committee on constitutional and intergovernmental affairs which was established in December 1989 and was chaired by Mr Furlong.

The first committee was struck to consider the Meech Lake accord and reported in June 1988. At the beginning of the report, members stated that as legislators they were faced with two major considerations. The first consideration was the process of ratifying the Meech Lake accord and the consequences of that process. The second consideration was the relationship of Canada. Quebec and the Constitution.

With respect to the ratification process, the committee noted that the accord had to be passed in the same form by each provincial Legislature and Parliament in order to become part of the Constitution, and it had to be passed by 23 June 1990. If there were any amendments before then, then the ratification process would have to start all over again.

To quote from the report: "We declare in the most emphatic terms that it is very difficult for provincial legislators and the people they represent to perform their proper function of helping the nation achieve an agreeable resolution of constitutional debate when confronted by a virtual fait accompli of first ministers." The report continued, "It is surely crucial for the health of contemporary Canadian parliamentary democracy that the people and their elected representatives be an integral part of the process of constitutional change."

With respect to the place of Quebec in the Constitution, the report stated that Quebec's refusal to accept the terms of the 1982 Constitution Act meant that "Canada's second-largest province and home to the vast majority of its French-speaking citizens was isolated," that it was "outside the mainstream of Canadian constitutional life." The committee felt that this was "clearly an unacceptable and dangerous situation, and one that demanded redress." The report went on to say that without Quebec's presence at the table, no meaningful national progress could be expected on such areas as multicultural, aboriginal, territorial and equality rights.

Part II of the report contains an outline of the testimony before the committee. The issue which attracted the most attention of witnesses and which was mentioned by Mr Bredt earlier was the relationship between clause 1, which dealt with fundamental characteristics of Canada and the recognition of Quebec as a distinct society, and clause 16, which held that the existing rights pertaining to aboriginal peoples and multiculturalism was not affected by anything in clause 1.

A concern expressed to the committee was that clause I would be completely dominant over the charter. For instance, it was argued that any legislation enacted by Quebec to promote the distinct character of its society might fall outside the charter.

The committee said that this question of whether, and if so, to what extent charter rights would be affected by clauses I and 16 of the accord was the most difficult issue it had to deal with. It concluded that the clauses very likely did not pose a threat to charter rights. However, it recommended that following the ratification of the Meech Lake accord, the Legislature should consider three additions to the list of fundamental characteristics of Canada. These three additions would recognize aboriginal peoples, Canada's multicultural heritage and the commitment to the protection of the rights and freedoms of all Canadians as fundamental characteristics of Canada.

The Progressive Conservative minority opinion of Mr. Eves and Mr. Harris was devoted to the charter issue. They supported the recommendations contained in the majority report but felt they did not go far enough. They had proposed unsuccessfully to the committee that it recommend a court reference on whether the accord would affect charter rights, and if so, how? They wrote that if the government continued to oppose such a reference, the Legislature should adopt specific companion resolutions on aboriginal rights and multiculturalism which removed some of the legal concerns.

The final section of the report contains 11 recommendations. In recommending that the Legislature ratify the accord, the committee acknowledged the accord was not perfect. However, the committee believed the accord accomplished two important objectives: first, it brought Quebec back into the Constitution as a full partner which the committee described as a major achievement; second, the committee felt that the accord resolved a number of longstanding disputes in federal-provincial relations.

The other recommendations in the report dealt with future constitutional rounds. One of the recommendations I have already mentioned, the one dealing with the fundamental characteristics of Canada. Just to highlight a few of the other recommendations, one focused on the process by which the accord was reached. The committee referred to a widespread feeling that the public and various legislatures should be more actively involved in both the generation and ratification of constitutional agreements. It considered it essential that legislatures be informed of, and open to public debate. Accordingly, it recommended that the Legislature establish a standing constitutional committee.

Another recommendation held that future first ministers' conferences on the Constitution should deal with multiculturalism, the charter and equality rights, aboriginal rights, minority language rights and the Constitutional status of the Yukon and Northwest Territories. The committee also wanted to see constitutional conferences specifically devoted to aboriginal rights.

As I mentioned at the beginning of my remarks. the next constitutional committee was the select committee on constitutional and intergovernmental affairs which was set up in December 1989. Its terms of reference said that in anticipation of a first ministers conference on Senate reform, which was tentatively scheduled for November of last year, the committee would conduct hearings on Senate reform and, subject to the proclamation of the Meech Lake accord by 23 June of last year, it would continue its hearings and table a report in the Legislature by 15 October 1990.

The Prime Minister had said that there would be a first ministers' conference on Senate reform only after Meech Lake had been approved. Meech Lake died and that committee did not present any kind of report. It did conduct hearings on Senate reform last February, April and May in Toronto and Ottawa. These hearings were designed to give members background information on the complexities of Senate reform. Accordingly the witnesses were principally senators and academics.

The next phase, had these hearings continued, would have encouraged submissions from the public. Most witnesses appearing before the committee spoke not only about how senators should be selected, who should be represented in the Senate and on what basis and what powers the Senate should have; they also dealt with other issues such as the role of parties in a reformed Senate.


Thus some of the questions raised before the committee were, for example, was it naïve to contemplate a reformed Senate of independent senators? If so, how could the role of parties be minimized? Alternatively it was asked whether or not the objective should be the accommodation rather than the bypassing of parties; in other words, the strengthening of parties and the bringing of appropriate regional views into them. Most witnesses also stressed to the committee that reform had to be considered in the context of Canada's entire system of government.

The committee put Senate reform aside at the beginning of last June when the companion agreement to the Meech Lake accord, which is formally known as the 1990 Constitutional Agreement, was referred to it. This report is divided into two parts. The first part reproduces the constitutional agreement with explanatory notes and the second part reviews the testimony of witnesses and contains the committee's five recommendations.

The committee's first recommendation dealt with the process of amending the Constitution. The committee referred, with approval, to the conclusions on process that the previous constitutional committee on Meech Lake had reached, that the public and the legislatures had to be more actively involved.

Similar to the previous committee, it recommended the establishment of a standing committee on the Constitution and furthermore that the first item on the agenda of this new constitutional committee be "the development of a model process for Ontario for the consideration of constitutional amendments in Ontario."

With respect to Senate reform, the committee welcomed the concept of a national commission on Senate reform as one way of providing for significant public input. Then it outlined in the report some of the concerns of witnesses regarding membership on the commission and the principles that would guide it.

The committee noted that the Ontario commitment regarding Senate seats whereby there might be a redistribution of Senate seats in July 1995 helped to achieve a consensus when the first ministers' conference was on the verge of breaking down. It recommended that the province remain committed to meaningful Senate reform.

The committee next recommended that the province continue its efforts to address aboriginal concerns. In reviewing the testimony of aboriginal groups, the committee wrote: "In support of the Manitoba chiefs some native presenters stated that their people had nothing to lose. When committee members reflected on that observation, the enormity of the present situation in our nation was borne upon us. The stand of the chiefs of Manitoba tells us more: The credit of Canadian governments and politicians of European extraction has run out among native people and the tactics of occasional indulgence would appear to be at an end."

At the same time, however, the committee expressed concerns over aspects of the aboriginal strategy, pointing out, for example, that it differed from positions taken by native presenters before the previous committee.

On the concept of a Canada clause that would recognize fundamental characteristics of Canada, the committee reaffirmed the recommendation of the previous constitutional committee. It wished to see multicultural heritages, aboriginal rights and gender equality rights named in the charter and a companion resolution on fundamental characteristics of Canada.

In its conclusion the committee recommended that the Legislature ratify the 1990 Constitutional Agreement.

A dissenting opinion was submitted by Mr Wildman. He felt that the limited time the committee had to operate, from 11 June to 20 June, made it impossible to complete a comprehensive hearing process. He recommended that the assembly not approve the agreement until after the committee had carried out comprehensive public hearings across Ontario. He further recommended that the assembly call for an extension of the Meech Lake deadline beyond 23 June of last year to allow time for the concerns of aboriginal peoples to be properly dealt with.

After Meech Lake died, the constitutional committee's terms of reference were changed. Instead of looking at Senate reform, it was to look at the process of amending the Constitution, which is very similar to what the joint committee in Ottawa has been established to do. However, the committee did not hold any hearings on process as the provincial election intervened. So this is the next constitutional committee.

The Chair: Are there any questions of Mr Kaye? No? Thanks very much.


The Chair: The next item on the agenda is a report from the subcommittee. I guess I should say before I read this out that this is a summary of some of the decisions we have made, but there are obviously a number of things that we are continuing to look at through the subcommittee. One major area is the one Mr Beer has touched on earlier in his question around the issue of possible research or looking into work that is being done in the academic sector. But in terms of some of the decisions that we have made to date:

"The business subcommittee met on January 15, 16 and 23 to discuss the committee's agenda and hiring of consultants to assist the committee.

"The subcommittee agreed to the travel schedule and that this schedule was sent to all members of the committee as soon as possible." That has obviously been done.

"The subcommittee agreed that, if the committee is unable to appear at any location due to inclement weather, the committee will not try to reschedule the community affected during the February schedule but would try and reschedule the meeting during the spring session." We all recognized that the time was a problem for us.

"The subcommittee agreed that Alpha Consultants Inc should be retained to assist the committee by providing an outreach program.

"The subcommittee agreed that the Chair and the clerk should proceed to hire a firm to handle media relations. Following these instructions, the firm of Media Concepts Communications Inc has been retained.

"The subcommittee approved the advertising presented by the clerk and to the proposal for distribution to the media.

"The subcommittee agreed that a 1-800 number should be used to assist in providing information to the public and to take their comments. It was agreed that the most effective way to handle this number was to contract a firm. The firm of S & P Data Corp has been contracted on behalf of the committee. This number will be in service until 30 June 1991.

"The subcommittee discussed the presentations to the committees. Individuals will be told that they have 15 minutes to make their presentations. The time for groups will be 20 to 30 minutes.

"Also, as Chair, I have instructed the clerk to place advertisements in the Wawatey newspaper. These ads will be run in several native languages. I have also agreed that the committee will host a banquet in Sioux Lookout. The committee will have a chance" -- through this occasion -- "to meet with students and local citizens who may not have had a chance to attend the formal meetings." That is also another way, we felt, of giving us an opportunity to talk to some of the members of that community.

Are there any questions or comments on that? I think a number of these are issues that may be familiar already.

Mrs V. O'Neill: I think I have discussed it very informally with you, and I know that you have followed the discussion we had with action, but I did not hear you again today mention that on the 1-800 number people would be well informed that they could request a copy of the discussion paper.

The Chair: Yes, absolutely. Thanks for reminding me again. That has been arranged and in fact the mechanism for sorting that out is being worked out between the clerk's office and the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs.

Mrs V. O'Neill: The general public will have knowledge of that?

The Chair: Yes, and in fact the 1-800 number will certainly also be part of the discussion paper itself that will be released tomorrow. Through the parliamentary channel, and I believe through the cable companies and obviously through the advertisement that we will be doing, that will also be part of the information that will indicate that.

Mrs V. O'Neill: I wondered, do we have a distribution list that we are going to begin with on the discussion paper?

The Chair: The distribution list for the discussion paper, as I understand it, totals something like 80,000 groups or organizations. It is all of the groups that are on mailing lists in any of the ministries of the government.

Mrs V. O'Neill: Did you say 8,000 or 80,000?

The Chair: Eighty. Mr Obonsawin could correct me if I am wrong.

Mr Obonsawin: Yes, close to 80,000 initially.

The Chair: That is just the initial list and there may be others that will get added to that as time goes on.

Mrs V. O'Neill: Are we sending it to places like public libraries and university libraries?

The Chair: Yes. I see nodding at the back. I know that, for example, one of the concerns that was expressed earlier was that there be copies available in the members' constituency offices and that will be done. I think there is also going to be an attempt to get it out to as many public places as possible.

Mrs V. O'Neill: At the moment, in two languages?

The Chair: The document will come out, as government documents do, in the two languages, English and French. In addition to that, there will be a summary of the paper available in, I gather, about seven or eight additional languages; perhaps not that many, but a number of other additional languages.


Mrs V. O'Neill: I think it would be helpful if we knew the languages as soon as possible, as many of us have communities --

The Chair: What I have asked is that some copies in those languages be also made available at least to the members, and then they could be distributed. Again, that is part of what is being sorted out.

Mr Malkowski: About the interpreters and the language issue. It has marked down here "two." I had requested four.

The Chair: You are dealing with the budget. Let's deal with that when we get to it, okay?

Is there anything else on the subcommittee report? Then I think under our rules this is deemed to have been approved. No, we require a motion to approve it, I believe.

Mr Malkowski: Just before we accept this, you need to cover the cost of the interpreters. I want to make sure; I want four, not two.

The Chair: Sorry. We are only dealing with the subcommittee report. The budget is the next item on the agenda. We are not approving the budget yet.

Mr Malkowski: But I do not want this approved. I want to make sure that we solve the issue of the interpreters first, because it will affect the budget.

The Chair: It is part of the budget discussion is what I am suggesting. That is on the next item. But as you have raised it, my understanding was that it had been sorted out. Could we just leave that as an item to be dealt with under the budget, which is where it appears as an item?

The languages, I have been told, in which the summary will be available are Italian, Greek, Spanish, Chinese and Portuguese.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: When did you say they will be available?

The Chair: I do not have an exact date. I think they are trying to have that ready some time this week, but that was just the best guess people could make earlier today.

Mrs V. O'Neill: How will we get them? Should we send in a request?

The Chair: I think we can ensure that at least some copies are sent out to all members of the committee and in fact to all members of the Legislature. I do not think that is too difficult to do.

Mrs V. O'Neill: That would be very helpful. If we could have even one copy. we could copy.

Ms Churley: When you say Chinese, I assume you mean Cantonese.

The Chair: As I saw that, Ms Churley, that question came to my mind as well. That is something we will have to pass on. I presume the people in Intergovernmental Affairs are conscious of that.

Ms Churley: It is an issue.

The Chair: There may also be the need for additional languages as well. I think we will also ask that that be looked into. Anything else on the subcommittee report?

Mr Beer moves that the subcommittee's report be accepted.

The Chair: All those in favour? Opposed?

Motion agreed to.

The Chair: On the budget, which is the next item, let's deal first with Mr Malkowski's comments. That is where? On the third page?

Mr Malkowski: The first paragraph, talking about the 20 days and the two interpreters.

The Chair: You were saying that that should be four?

Mr Malkowski: You normally have four interpreters for something like that, for all day.

Mrs V. O'Neill: There is something broken down on that last page that says four simultaneous translators should be --

Clerk of the Committee: If I could just explain for a moment, the interpreters you have on staff already I believe are being paid out of -- correct me if I am wrong -- the Speaker's office, out of that budget. We did not feel they had made provision for the additional interpreters you may have to hire in order to complete this committee work. These are for the additional interpreters I was told your office would be hiring.

The Chair: Rather than getting into a debate over that, if I could test the committee on this, we will take a look at that and if it requires an adjustment to the budget for that particular issue, we can just go ahead and do that before we submit the budget to the Board of Internal Economy. Is that acceptable? I think it is just a question of sorting out which budget the cost of the interpreters is coming from, Mr Malkowski.

Any other questions on the budget? I think overall one can make a comment that it is larger than one might have wanted, but I think it is understandable under the circumstances. We tried, through the subcommittee, to look at different ways, but I think realized in the end that, given the task we had been mandated to carry out, particularly given the mandate to televise our meetings and our hearings and the fact that a large part of the cost is associated with that aspect, the budget proposal was relatively justifiable.

Ms Churley: I take it that some of the cost towards the communication can be attributed to the fact that on some days we are going to be literally doing two places in a day and in fact we will need an extra crew to keep up with us.

The Chair: Yes, that is part of it.

Ms Churley: Because we are trying to do so much in such a short time.

Mrs V. O'Neill: I wanted to look at the witness travel and expenses. How did we arrive at that figure? What kind of encouragement are we giving or what kind of need are we trying to serve? I know how this normally works, but this is not the normal kind of committee. A committee does not usually travel this much, so I am just wondering what you are basing this on. I know it is only an estimate.

The Chair: Quite frankly, it was our staff's best guess, based on some of the discussions we have had. One of the things that probably is not even covered in that is the issue of how far we wish to go in making it possible, for example, for people from a particular community that is close to a place where we will be holding hearings to come and join us for those discussions. For example, we talked about the possibility of making buses available. I do not know how much we have actually covered that aspect. We may have underestimated that part of it. I think it was a best guess at this point.

Mrs V. O'Neill: So you really do not have a strategy of how much the $30,000 is based on. Does the clerk, through her experience, have any --

Clerk of the Committee: What the subcommittee was talking about was some very different type of thing where, say, if a community was fairly close, within bus distance, to where we were meeting, we would have a bus available. How often we do this, we will have to wait and see if there is any demand for it. We do not know at this point. I recognize it is high.

One of the other things, and we will probably talk about this later when we get to the outreach program, was to encourage more people to attend. This may come into play more when we are on our first week and the distances are greater. We would pay some of the expenses for groups to come to maybe Kenora, maybe Dryden, maybe Sioux Lookout to attend meetings. That is something the committee will have to address on an individual basis.

Mrs V. O'Neill: I guess my underlying concern -- you have mentioned buses -- is that there are some communities in this province that we will not be touching, that are only able to be reached by air. We do not usually fly people. Usually what it means is that people come here by train, for the most part, to Toronto; at least that has been my experience. I just wondered how flexible we are going to be and how we are going to let people know that if they really have a message for us, which is what we usually have said, they will be somehow supported to come.

The Chair: I think what we will have to do is work on the understanding that areas of the budget like that are going to have to be subject to being revisited by us, particularly as we hear back from our outreach people around some of the needs they might be hearing about. I think that is something we will have to be open to taking another look at.


Ms Harrington: With regard to the other committees we have been discussing, how would the cost of this committee compare? Maybe Mr Beer could let us know how it would compare.

Mr Beer: One of the real differences, I think it is important to underline, is that we have been directed very specifically to get out into all of the different communities. When we were looking at the accord, we did go to a number of places, but we found that a number of groups and organizations asked if they could come down here. The vast bulk of our hearings were held in this room, with groups from the far north and indeed people from other provinces coming here, for a variety of reasons.

To be quite honest, I cannot remember what our overall budget was from beginning to end. Certainly in terms of the kind of travel this committee is doing, there was no comparison, because we did not do the same amount of travel. As the Chairman was mentioning, because we are going to be in so many centres, what we talked about in the subcommittee was trying to get people from nearby communities if they wanted to come into those centres as opposed to coming down here.

Ms Harrington: I would just like to point out that the citizens of Ontario have already, over the past couple of years, put a lot of money into this concern and I certainly hope they get their money's worth.

Mr F. Wilson: My question has more to do with travel than the budget. Is it appropriate now? I have a question on travel, not so much to do with the budget.

The Chair: Just on the process? There are a number of other things like this we want to provide some additional information to members of the committee on. We thought we could do that informally at the end of the public session. If it fits into the details of the travel, we can deal with it then.

Mr F. Wilson: It was a remark that was made to us by the clerk, I believe, at one of our last meetings, that when we are travelling close to our own constituencies, it is probably more economical and practical for some members to travel independently from the mob. I was wondering how much time the clerk would need to make sure that air fares were not charged and that type of thing.

The Chair: I think that is the kind of detail we can get into later on.

Mr F. Wilson: I am just assuming that our schedule is set now and will not be varied from.

The Chair: Yes. We have resisted all temptations to try to make any more changes to the travel schedule.

Mr F. Wilson: If you could let me know, because I would like to make certain arrangements. I am assuming others would also.

The Chair: Everyone on the committee should take a look at the travel schedule in relation to where they are from to see if in any of the weeks for whatever reason it makes more sense for you to join us at the place we are beginning, as opposed to starting from Toronto and travel with the committee. Then you should contact the clerk as soon as possible so those arrangements can be made. Otherwise, we will assume that everyone will be travelling with the committee from Toronto to wherever we are going and then back.

Mrs V. O'Neill: Just an observation in response to Ms Harrington's question. I do think this is a very extraordinary budget for a committee. What it will say to the Ontario people, I hope, is that we realize there is a very deep concern in a process that was not successful in the immediate past, to be specific, June 1990, and that we as a province and your government's leadership have decided to make a commitment to the people of Ontario to try to listen to what they really believe would be at least a solution from their perspective, or at least to open a window to have them heard. So we are providing everything, from closed captioning to all the support this committee needs, to very elaborate television. I do not think a committee has ever carried its television crew with it before. I might be wrong, but that is what I think.

What we are hoping to do, and I am very happy with the way we are beginning, is trying to involve the Ontario people with ourselves. I think to this point the Ontario media have been looking for some leadership. As you see, the Bélanger-Campeau committee got so much coverage in Ontario newspapers. I hope we will get some of the same attention, not because any of us wants to gain a profile but because we have a job to do.

I have two or three questions. What is that S & P Data Corp all about?

The Chair: That is the company that will be providing the service in the 1-800 number.

Mrs V. O'Neill: And the Alpha Consultants, 11 people.

The Chair: The outreach.

Mrs V. O'Neill: They will be active for the month of February?

The Chair: Yes.

Mrs V. O'Neill: The simultaneous translation - three interpreters times five days. That seems awfully -

The Chair: Where is that?

Clerk of the Committee: If I can just explain it, it is actually quite simple. Our wonderful interpreters up here will be travelling with us. There are two days we know for sure they will not be able to be on the road with us and we will have to get additional interpreters. I have also put in a little extra funding in case anyone gets sick and has to be replaced.

Mrs V. O'Neill: I know they are excellent. They have been with us on the Bill 4 stuff, and they are congenial as well as good travellers.

Books and publications. Is that research papers for us?

The Chair: Yes.

Mrs V. O'Neill: I think the subcommittee has done an excellent job in presenting this budget. I think we should, with pride, explain why it is such an expensive venture.

I have one last question as I turn that page. Signage. Is that the ads in the paper?

The Chair: It is connected with the trucks and broadcasting services, etc, to actually do some of that internal advertisement of the committee's work. Maybe the clerk could explain it in more detail than I can.

Clerk of the Committee: I understand there will be a number of vehicles travelling with the committee in terms of broadcasting. There will be the uplink van, a couple of other vans and things like that, and they want to put the committee name over some of the existing markings on the vehicles so we will have something representing the committee.

Mrs V. O'Neill: We are really a travelling road show.

The Chair: Any other questions or comments?

Mr Beer moves that the select committee on Ontario in Confederation adopts the budget in the amount of $1,817,999 and that the chair be directed to present this budget to the Board of Internal Economy.

Motion agreed to.

The Chair: Unless there are any other items to deal with in public, I think we can adjourn at this point. Actually, before we do that, we should sort out the time for tomorrow afternoon. I have heard 4 o'clock or 4:30, 4:30 being suggested as easier for other members finishing other committee meetings.

Ms Churley: I do have another committee meeting, and although I am trying to make this a priority, for obvious reasons, if other people could agree, that extra half hour would be better.

The Chair: Would 4:30 cause a problem for any members of the committee?

Mr Harnick: What is the anticipated length of tomorrow's session?

The Chair: My expectation is that between an hour and an hour and a half would be a reasonable time to do it. Essentially, tomorrow what we would like to do is have the committee briefed on the discussion paper which will be released tomorrow afternoon.

Mr Harnick: Would it be safe to say that we will be finished by 6:30?

The Chair: At the outside. I would think even by 6 o'clock, but by 6:30 at the very outside.

Mrs V. O'Neill: Would it help if we start at 4 rather than 4:30?

The Chair: I suggested that earlier, but then I heard from some of the members on this side that 4 would be a little difficult, so 4:30 was suggested.

Mr Beer: As Liberals we are agreeable to 4 or 4:30.

The Chair: If there are no objections to 4:30, then we will adjourn until 4:30 tomorrow afternoon. If we want to take a couple of minutes now upon adjournment for an informal session we will continue some discussion for a little with the people from the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs as well as dealing with any details around the travel schedule that people might have. All right? We are adjourned.

The committee adjourned at 1810.