Wednesday 19 June 1991

Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs

Continued in camera


Chair: Silipo, Tony (Dovercourt NDP)

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

Curling, Alvin (Scarborough North L)

Eves, Ernie L. (Parry Sound PC)

Gigantes, Evelyn (Ottawa Centre NDP)

Harnick, Charles (Willowdale PC)

Harrington, Margaret H. (Niagara Falls NDP)

Malkowski, Gary (York East NDP)

Mathyssen, Irene (Middlesex NDP)

Offer, Steven (Mississauga North L)

O'Neill, Yvonne (Ottawa-Rideau L)

Winninger, David (London South NDP)

Clerk: Brown, Harold


Drummond, Alison, Research Officer, Legislative Research Service

Kaye, Philip, Research Officer, Legislative Research Service

The committee met at 1547 in room 151.


The Chair: I call the meeting to order, and for those people who may be following us at some point during this week over the parliamentary channel, I remind them that this is a meeting of the select committee on Ontario in Confederation.

We have with us this afternoon two people from the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs, Stephen Bornstein, who is the representative of the government in Quebec, and Daniel Cayen. I will turn it over to Mr Bornstein first in terms of making a presentation on some of the events in and around Quebec and giving us some background on those issues.

Mr Bornstein: Let me start by telling you a little bit about who I am and what my function and office are. My position has a really quite lovely title in French and is not quite as snazzy in English. In English I am senior Ontario representative to Quebec; in French I am the délégué général de l'Ontario-Québec. I rather prefer the French version.

This position has a brief but solid history. It was created in 1985 as part of a move by the government of the time to improve relations with Quebec after the period of difficult interactions following the Quebec referendum. It has had two previous incumbents, Don Stevenson and then David Cameron. There has been a recent shift in the nature of the position, a minor one, in that for the first time I am a full-time Ontario representative in Quebec. The previous representatives spent part of their month in Toronto, sometimes part in Ottawa -- that was the case of the first occupant of the job -- and then part of the time in Quebec. I am in Quebec full-time except for brief stints in Montreal, given the business community and the unions, and a lot of associational life and governmental activity go on in Montreal. I make visits here to brief the ministry, or to be debriefed by the ministry.

We have set up, as you undoubtedly know, a parallel office in Ottawa. Each is staffed by an assistant deputy minister of intergovernmental affairs so that these positions are not political positions; they are civil service positions within the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs, whose minister, as you know, is the Premier, and whose deputy minister is Judith Wolfson. I report to the deputy.

My responsibilities are rather complex. They involve being the eyes and ears of the Ontario government in Quebec, with all that entails, keeping the government here informed about the latest developments in Quebec, both in terms of the content and in terms of the meaning in so far as I can figure it out. I provide communications links in both directions. I also do my best, the way any of Ontario's representatives outside Ontario do, to present a good, healthy, creative image of Ontario, of what Ontario is, of what Ontario does.

There is a trade component. There is a tourism component. There is a general representational function; going to ceremonies. For example, there was a ceremony organized by our Speaker, the Quebec Speaker and the Speaker's office at Westminster to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the 1791 Constitution. I was there in an official capacity. There is some ceremonial function. I also supervise co-operation activities between the two provinces through the auspices of an institution called the OQCC, the Ontario-Quebec Commission for Co-operation.

To give you a little bit about my background, I am not a career civil servant. I am an academic. I have taken a leave of absence to serve my province in this capacity.

My early experience in this job has been extremely pleasant. The Quebec government was very pleased to have a permanent representative there and did everything it could to make me feel welcome, to give me briefing sessions, to take me on a round of meetings to meet various deputy ministers who might be of interest to me in my new function. Thus far, the relationship has gone very well, at least from my own personal perspective.

What I would like to do now is to begin with some background material for the understanding of Quebec's current constitutional posture and its current process.

The key event in all of this, as everyone is aware, is the failure of Meech. For Quebec, Meech was very important. They saw it as undoing, setting right, making good what they saw as the humiliation of the 1982 Constitution, the betrayal of what they call "the night of the long knives."

Their argument was that in the referendum campaign then Prime Minister Trudeau campaigned very hard in Quebec, promising a significant overhaul of the structures of Canadian federalism in return for a no vote. Quebeckers read that to mean a substantial redistribution of powers. That, it turned out, was not what they got. They got instead the 1982 Constitution, which they did not sign, and they regard that Constitution as in many ways a betrayal of what they thought was going to happen.

It is very interesting to note how different their perception of 1982 is from the perception in much of English Canada. In much of English Canada, 1982 is regarded as a great step forward. After all, we got the Constitution back to Canada. After all, we got a charter. In Quebec, it is regarded very differently. It is regarded as establishing a Constitution without the second biggest province. It is regarded as establishing a charter which, for many Quebeckers, is a problem.

It is a problem partly because they see it as a symbol of the betrayal of the night of long knives. It is a problem partly because it is seen as an embodiment of Pierre Trudeau's supposed assault on Quebec's collective rights in the name of a liberal, individualist vision of human rights which they attribute to Trudeau.

The charter is also regarded as a problem because it is felt the charter has created -- and here a number of English Canadian constitutionalists agree with this position -- a series of charter groups which have attached themselves to the charter, set themselves up as the constitutional equivalent of the two founding peoples, and therefore made it extremely difficult for a constitutional settlement to be reached which Quebec can accept.

So the charter, for Quebec, is something very different than it is for us. It is not that there is a rejection of individual rights, although there is some debate about which rights are fundamental and which are not, but it is that the charter means all sorts of things to them that it does not to us.

The failure of Meech to take a step forward was regarded rather as a step backward. It was regarded as yet another humiliation by English Canada of a well-intentioned Quebec. Quebec presented five demands. Those five demands were not regarded as excessive or radical, but rather as Quebec's minimum for joining the Constitution and English Canada said no.

The current situation in Quebec, Quebec's current constitutional process, derives from an attempt by the political leadership of Quebec to think through what happened at Meech, to think its way past Meech and to find an alternative. This is being done in a context of a rising nationalist tide, particularly among people under the age of 25 or 30 who responded very angrily to the failure of Meech and who now respond very favourably to calls for sovereignty, for Quebec independence.

Mr Bourassa's response to Meech was to unleash two parallel processes which have now converged. The two parallel processes were the Quebec Liberal Party's constitutional committee, the Allaire committee that produced the Allaire report, and second, the Bélanger-Campeau commission, which produced a huge report that is the basic document on the political and constitutional future of Quebec. Those two processes have now converged in the last couple of weeks in a legislative enactment called Bill 150.

What I would like to do in the next section of my presentation is to take you through each of those elements of the process, Allaire, Bélanger-Campeau and Bill 150, just to try to set a context for you. I may very well be telling you all sorts of things you already know, but let me do it and then perhaps we can clarify things in the question period afterwards.

To take Allaire first of all, in March 1990, that is, before the collapse of Meech, the Liberal Party of Quebec, which is an independent provincial party with no formal connections to the Liberal Party of Canada, and is Mr Bourassa's party, the governing party, started a process to review its own constitutional platform and to prepare for l'après Meech, which was seen as either what to do in the round of constitutional talks after Meech succeeded -- one possibility -- or what to do if Meech failed.

Once Meech actually failed, Mr Bourassa and the party shifted on to that other track, that is, what to do now that Meech had not worked. The Allaire committee, after a series of consultations within the party, produced a document that ended up being considerably more radical than what most observers and most political actors had expected. The document was made public at the end of January and then submitted to and endorsed by the Liberal Party's congress in the middle of March of this year.

You will have seen in the papers reports of the floor dynamics at that conference. The debate was dominated by sovereignists, and in particular was dominated by the youth wing of the party. What was most striking at that conference was how quiet the federalists were.


The contents of the report, very rapidly: a stinging critique of existing federal arrangements at some length, with a heavy emphasis on what are called overlaps, wasteful duplication of policies, programs, spending and efforts between the two levels of government, plus strong criticism of federal fiscal arrangements for failing to benefit Quebec.

That stinging critique is accompanied by proposals for a drastic redistribution of powers towards the provinces and in particular towards Quebec. If Allaire were enacted as a constitutional document, 22 powers would become exclusively provincial jurisdiction, with no federal involvement. Eleven of those are currently provincial, but subject in one way or another to federal activity via the spending power. Another 11 are currently either exclusively federal, concurrent or in federal hands through the residual clause. The federal government, in the Allaire vision of how Canada would work, would be left with a very short list of leftover powers.

Allaire also included a number of other proposals which have received less attention in the press, but which are also quite important. First of all, Quebec gets a veto. Next, the Senate, in its current form, would be abolished. Amendments were introduced on the floor that suggested a possibility for other types of Senate, but the report itself just says the current Senate will be abolished.

There would be created a new judicial body with the title of a community tribunal -- it is hard to translate the French, but the French is not all that limpid either -- whose function would be to adjudicate disputes between different levels of government, to adjudicate the distribution of powers. The Bank of Canada would be restructured to give regions, in particular Quebec, seats and influence. Economic union would be improved and intensified, and finally any province would have the right to secede with sufficient notice.

We have the critique of existing arrangements, the proposal for a drastic redistribution of powers, proposals for other important institutional changes and then a process for implementing these proposals.

The process recommended by Allaire and endorsed by the Quebec Liberal Party's congress was that the Quebec government should propose to the government of Canada the contents of the Allaire document. Depending on what the government of Canada then did in response, Quebec would hold a referendum before the fall of 1992, either on the Allaire proposals if the rest of Canada accepted them, or on sovereignty. Furthermore, the government would establish a committee whose job it would be to examine the implications of sovereignty for Quebec society and the Quebec economy.

The reactions to Allaire from English Canada were quite vigorous. They ranged from caution to outright rejection.

After the floor fight and the clear domination of the party congress by the youth wing and sovereignists, Premier Bourassa went out of his way in his closing speech on the Sunday of that weekend to make statements clearly designed to appease federalists within the party, and in particular to appease cabinet ministers, Claude Ryan especially, who apparently threatened to leave the party if the existing hard sovereignist line prevailed. The result has been a vision from outside Quebec that there is some uncertainty about what the Quebec government really wants to do.

That is Allaire, then. That is the official policy of the Liberal Party, the governing party of Quebec.

Bélanger-Campeau is roughly speaking the counterpart in Quebec of this body, very roughly speaking, because as I describe it to you, you will see some fundamental differences, as well. Bélanger-Campeau emerged from the immediate Quebec response to the failure of Meech. Mr Bourassa and Mr Parizeau got together and reached an agreement that what was needed was a bipartisan, broad, consultative body to examine the "political and constitutional future of Quebec."

Each of the two major party leaders designated a Chair so that it was chaired by two people who were equally co-chairs. The leaders of both major parties, major cabinet ministers and shadow cabinet critics were members of the committee. Also included, to some people's surprise, were federal parliamentarians, including Lucien Bouchard of the Bloc québécois. In addition, the body included representatives of major non-elected groups: unions, business associations, co-operative banking institutions and the like -- farmers' associations as well.

There were four months of hearings, broad consultations with a variety of groups and a long list of experts, lasting from November 1990 through March 1991, and then a report.

What is worth noting about the procedures at Bélanger-Campeau -- and you will have noticed this on television and in the press -- was the emergence of the Bélanger-Campeau hearings as a sounding board for the various varieties of Quebec nationalism. Federalists were notoriously silent during the hearings. Federalist presentations were not very well received by the commission, and they were fairly few and far between in any case. In the closing moments, however, as the commission wound down to its deadline for submitting a report, heavy pressure was clearly put on the commissioners to come up with a unanimous report. Unanimity was said to be required so that Quebec had a strong exterior face to show to the rest of Canada.

There was no real unanimity on content within Bélanger-Campeau, so the solution was to reach an agreement on process. As a result, the conclusions of the document were expanded to include a second strategic track. Rather than just sovereignty via a referendum, another option was added, renewed federalism, as a result of offers from the rest of Canada. The conclusions of the report then took the form of a two-track proposal: either sovereignty or offers from the rest of Canada.

Let me go through the contents of the report quite rapidly. First, the report itself contains a very strongly worded critique of the flaws, inefficiencies, inequities and evils of the status quo, historical plus current sociological and economic -- a list of what is wrong with the current arrangements, a set of conclusions. As I said, suddenly there are two options out there: a renewed federalist option that is federalism significantly decentralized, and a sovereignty option. It is worth noting that it is very hard to find anyone in Quebec, even people who identify themselves very strongly as federalists, who thinks the status quo is a good thing. Even the federalists support a very strongly decentralized federation.


The conclusions: There are two routes presented as equal options, then the recommendations, and this is where the real battles, we are told, took place within the commission in the last few days and nights.

The recommendations, that is, the process proposed, were as follows: The government was to introduce a piece of legislation in the National Assembly by the end of the current session, that is, no later than the end of this month. The law was to make for a referendum on sovereignty no later than 26 October 1992. It was also to create two parliamentary committees, one of which was to consider offers that might come from the rest of Canada; we will call this the committee on offers. The other was a committee designed to study all questions related to sovereignty for Quebec -- the costs, benefits, advantages and disadvantages -- economically, socially, politically, demographically -- of sovereignty. That is the committee on the sovereignty option. Those are the two committees.

You have the body of the report itself, the conclusions, the two tracks, the recommendations, this complicated process, and then a set of background papers of two sorts. There were papers commissioned from outside experts and papers written directly by the secretariat staff. In some cases, the outside experts were Quebec government civil servants, so there are inside-outside arrangements.

The focus of all these background papers was on what sovereignty would mean, what the implications of sovereignty were in various domains. There were legal scholars, various economic scholars, experts on banking systems and experts on demography, who all asked the question clearly, "What would happen if Quebec were sovereign?" The most widely read and discussed ones were on the economic costs and benefits and fiscal costs and benefits of Quebec sovereignty. These were written by the staff of the secretariat itself and their basic thrust was to minimize the cost of separation and present a separate Quebec as an economically and fiscally viable entity.

Mr Bourassa's approach to the report was a rather interesting one. He, Mr Rémillard, his Minister responsible for Canadian Intergovernmental Affairs, and Mr Ryan signed the report. Some people predicted they would not because it contained a commitment to hold a referendum on sovereignty. They signed it, but they appended something called an addendum to the report that qualified many of the key components of that report in interesting language, which among other things asserted that the National Assembly remain sovereign at all times. The committees would exist and there was a law that would guarantee a referendum being held on sovereignty, but the National Assembly remained sovereign.

Another important clause of Mr Bourassa's addendum stated that the government, the cabinet, retained its freedom of action, its freedom of initiative and judgement, to consider the interests of Quebec in all circumstances.

Allaire and Bélanger-Campeau, the two fundamental documents, then converged in Bill 150, which is the piece of legislation which Bélanger-Campeau `s recommendations told the government to introduce. Bill 150 is the confluence of Allaire and Bélanger-Campeau, but with a very heavy dose of Mr Bourassa's addendum. The bill asserts that there will be a referendum on sovereignty no later than 26 October 1992. The government, however, retains its freedom of initiative and appreciation and the National Assembly remains sovereign to decide all questions related to a referendum.

The two committees I described to you before are to be created, but they will be tightly controlled by the government. They are not Bélanger-Campeau-style committees. They are structured in the way that this committee is structured: only parliamentarians with a balance of membership more or less parallel to the outcome of the last election. The structure of the House is then reflected in the structure of the committee, which it was not on Bélanger-Campeau. Both committees are to be chaired by a member of the governing party, by a Liberal.

The committees exist only so long as the government wants them to exist, so they can be put to sleep at any time during the process if the government so chooses, or they can be kept alive even after a referendum. Mr Rémillard in answering questions in the National Assembly agreed that was the case. You could have a referendum, the referendum could say, "Yes, Quebec will be sovereign," but the committee on offers could remain in existence to consider last-ditch offers of political partnership or partnership of an economic sort, the economic association arrangement.

The committee on offers, which originally looked as if all it could do was sit there and wait to see what came in, now apparently, although it is not entirely clear, will be allowed to do much more than that. It will be allowed to consult with committees from other jurisdictions.

The committee on the sovereignty option, that other committee, has been charged with examining all issues related to sovereignty, including the disadvantages and costs. The argument of the government is that Quebec citizens should be fully informed about the implications of any choice they may make.

The current state of play of this bill: It has gone through second reading and its consideration in committee -- that finished last night -- and it will be, we are told, brought to the National Assembly, at the latest, tomorrow for final approval and should be passed without any trouble, given the large majority the Liberals have in the National Assembly. It appears the Parti québécois will vote against it. At present knowledge, one member of the Liberal party will vote against it. So there will be a substantial majority for Bill 150, which then sets up Quebec's process for the next 18 months or so.


To move from Quebec's process to its posture, which can be deduced in a way from my description of the process, Quebec is waiting for offers. Quebec leaders and apparently Quebec public opinion all feel that they have done their bit, that they have done their work, that they have served, that the ball is now firmly in our court and we should do something about it. Quebec has declared it will not participate in intergovernmental forums except and only when Quebec's higher national interests are at stake. That generally seems to have been interpreted as economic and fiscal interests. Quebec feels that its demands are clearly out there on the table -- Allaire, Bélanger-Campeau, Mr Rémillard's speeches, Mr Bourassa's speeches -- and it is now English Canada's turn, the rest of Canada's turn, and in particular Ottawa's turn, to move.

Quebec opinion: From the polls one can deduce that there really is a broad consensus that the status quo is, to quote someone we all know, a non-starter, that the status quo is unacceptable. There is a very strong current, in addition to that, of sovereigntist opinion. Some sovereigntists are very strong separatists; others have more ambivalent feelings about Canada, particularly as an economic unit. There is in addition a group of federalists, but as I said before there are not very many francophone federalists in the sense that we would think of federalists. There are federalists who want major changes before they will buy in. Then there is a large fluctuating group of public opinion that moves back and forth between one option and another, varying quite substantially from month to month and poll to poll, depending on what question is asked, on when it is asked in a list of questions, and on what has been happening in the public forum that week or that month.

That is Quebec's posture. Let me finish up with two brief bits of analysis: first, who is who in Quebec, and then what is up in Quebec.

Who is who, foreground and background: In the foreground is the obvious cast of characters. There is the Premier. We have his public statements. We have his documents. We now have a biography by Michel Vastel. We know quite a bit about him. There is his minister for intergovernmental affairs, Gil Rémillard, and there is the counterpart of our Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, a woman named Dian Wilhelmy, whose official title is secrétaire général adjoint -- associate secretary general. The reason she has that title rather than the title of deputy minister is that the organism she works for is a secretariat within their privy council, within their executive council. The executive council has a secretary general. He is the equivalent to our Peter Barnes. He has reporting to him a series of associate secretaries general, of whom Dian Wilhelmy is one, and she is responsible for an agency called the SAIC. It is the Secrétariat aux Affaires intergouvernementales canadiennes, the Secretariat for Canadian Intergovernmental Affairs, which I got right this time, but when you try to say it fast is a real tongue-teaser.

In addition to that, there are the two committees I described to you, which may very well meet once just to get started before the summer, but then will resume their activities in the fall with a considerable staff. It is rather like Bélanger-Campeau. There is only one staff. There will not be two separate staffs, one for each of the committees. It will be a joint staff with a secretary apportioning functions depending on which committee is meeting when and which committee has what sorts of needs. There will be one secretariat and a considerable budget for these two committees to undertake any hearings, consultations and studies, commissioning whatever reports they need.

According to the Montreal newspaper La Presse today, they think they know who the chairs of the two committees will be. It is thought that a likely chair of the committee on offers will be a member of the National Assembly named Claude Dauphin, who is currently chairman of their standing committee on institutions. That is the standing committee which did the committee work on Bill 150 last night. The other committee will be chaired by another Liberal named Guy Bélanger. The two committees, as I said, will have a single staff and I think the staff will be composed partly of people from the outside and partly of people seconded from various Quebec ministries for a short period of time. So that is the foreground.

Somewhere between the foreground and the background is a very important minister, Claude Ryan, who may play a significant role in constitutional matters because he is extraordinarily knowledgeable about these matters.

Behind the scenes are some people whom you have probably read about and will probably read more about. The closest adviser of Premier Bourassa on political matters and constitutional matters is Jean-Claude Rivest, who has been associated with Mr Bourassa for something like 20 years now and apparently is the source of most or many of his strategic, political and tactical ideas. In addition to Mr Rivest, Mr Bourassa is advised by his principal secretary, that is, the counterpart of our David Agnew, John Parisella, who is a man with a strong background in Quebec Liberal Party politics and a man who retains considerable influence within the party and within the government. The exact counterpart of Peter Barnes in Quebec is named Benôit Morin. Then there is a team of extremely skilled civil servants and political advisers in the secretariat called SAIC. The latest staff count I got for SAIC is about 85 people. So that is who is who in Quebec, very rapidly.

What is up, what to look for in the next few months, and then I will stop: The next few months should be fairly quiet. June 23 is when the session is lifted, barring unforeseen conflicts. Most members of the National Assembly will then go back to their constituencies and/or go on holiday. There will be big demonstrations on 24 June whose exact political tone, that is, whose content with regard to the government, is still a little hard to predict. The two federal reports, Beaudoin-Edwards and Spicer, will come out in very short order and Quebec will comment, although I suspect in a fairly low-key way, because what it is really focusing on is September-October, that is, the federal proposals. They are looking very carefully at what is coming out of Ottawa and they are going to pay very close attention to the documents as they are released officially or unofficially in the countdown to September-October.

Real activity in Quebec will resume first in late or mid-August for starters, when the Young Liberals, the youth wing of the Liberal Party, meet. I think it is in the second week of August, and we can expect a very strong sovereignist statement and strong warnings to the government not to go back on its promise to have a referendum on sovereignty and to have it soon.

In an interview in today's papers, the president of the Quebec youth wing of the Liberal Party announced that his intentions were to make that sort of move in August, and the National Assembly will reconvene, we think, to examine a revised version of its health care bill, which has been taken off the order paper for the moment for consultation with the doctors.

Then in the early fall the National Assembly will get going on a full-time basis and those two committees will start meeting, commissioning studies, hiring staff, making announcements and having hearings. For the moment Quebec will be fairly quiet, but they are gearing up for 18 months of very significant constitutional activity.

Thank you for your attention. I will be delighted to answer any questions.


The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Bornstein, for that useful background. If there are questions, we can deal with those.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: It is helpful to have somebody who has been on the scene, so to speak. I wanted to ask you a little more about a couple of things you said. You just brushed polling very lightly. Could you say a little about what kind of polling is going on in Quebec and who is sponsoring it? We certainly get some of the reports, both through the Gazette and sometimes in our own newspapers here, on the results of these polls.

Mr Bornstein: There is lots of private polling going on. The Quebec Liberal Party does a lot of its own polling, just as many governing parties and opposition parties do. The PQ does a lot of its own polling. Occasionally it will release a figure or two, but mainly the polling I am talking about is the public record polling, and there is a whole series of polls connected to newspapers, sometimes newspapers linked to a radio station linked to a specific polling agency. Those polls come out regularly. Each of the polls tends to be repeated at a monthly or bimonthly interval so that one can track the evolution of Quebec public opinion on specific questions.

The problem is that the questions the different polling agencies ask are not always the same. Sometimes even a given polling agency will change its question from one time to another. The result is that there is a lot of fluctuation in Quebec public opinion. There is a lot of fluctuation in Quebec public opinion anyway. Note that support for sovereignty in the period since Meech went from the 20s to the 70s and back down to the 40s and 50s, all in the course of a year. That is really quite an extraordinary volatility.

I follow these things. The ministry follows them. It is worth taking a little bit of a step back from them, given that we know how volatile they are, given how different the questions are from one to the other. They have to be treated carefully but they are quite useful.

The most interesting sets of polls recently have been the Angus Reid-Southam poll that you saw in the Toronto Star, which was covered in Quebec in the Gazette, that suggests a wide variety of things depending on which day's Star you want to read, among other things that there has been a downturn or at least a flattening out of support for sovereignty for the moment, but that there are very different visions in the rest of Canada and in Quebec about what are desirable outcomes.

There has also been a series of recent polls from almost all the polling agencies redoing their polls of two months ago, indicating that support for sovereignty -- sometimes it is worded as "independence" -- is down from a couple of months ago. In some cases it is only down by a few points; in some cases by as many as 10 or 15 points. One of the polls even put support for sovereignty at less than a majority of the population for the first time since Meech. That is an interesting finding. Other polls did not agree.

Finally there was the poll of the intention of Montreal Anglos, which caused quite an uproar when it appeared that a significant proportion of Quebec anglophones envisioned quite seriously leaving the province. That produced a flurry of letters to editors, discussions of possible language reform and recapitulations of the whole national unity and language drama in Quebec in the course of a short period of time.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: That is certainly in much more depth and I am happy for that. There is one other thing you touched on lightly and I am sure you can expand on. You talked about the possibility, or more than possibility, that Quebec will participate if its interests are at stake, if that consideration is made on an issue. Could you tell us a little bit more about what that means from your perspective.

Mr Bornstein: They sent their finance minister to the meeting of finance ministers, because it was announced there would be a discussion of fiscal transfers and equalization payments, if I remember correctly. He came. They do not participate, for example, any more in the Council of Ministers of Education, in which they used to play quite an active role. They have pulled out of that. In general they will not participate. They have said very clearly they will not participate at the highest levels in any meeting involving 11 first ministers. That is out. They will not go to annual premiers' conferences. They will not go to first ministers' conferences. They will not redo the Meech scenario, in which they felt they got rejected.

They will meet individual premiers; clearly they will do that. They have not excluded meeting more than one Premier; that is not yet clear. But they will not do the à onze, the 11 men in suits or now 10 men and a woman, and probably in blue suits anyway, in a room. They have said they will not do that. They seem to be considering it issue by issue, but the issues that get them to the room are economic ones. When the Constitution is at stake they will not come, they say.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: You said there will be hard work for 18 months. If I judge by my calendar, there does not look to be 18 months between when you say they will begin avidly and when they --

Mr Bornstein: You obviously have a calendar. You can count better than I can. I am talking about their referendum deadline, so let's say to the end of 1992. What does that give us, 16 months?

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I do not think it is 18.

Mr Bornstein: It was 18 when we started this discussion and 18 has stuck in my head but you are right; the clock is ticking, as it were.

Mr Malkowski: Thank you for that background; that was very helpful. You said something about the Quebec perspective, that they seem to be ambivalent towards the Canadian Charter of Rights. What is their sense in terms of group rights, then, or individual rights within the province? I understood they had a lot of respect for individualism. What about native rights, the rights of the disabled, the rights of women and multicultural groups within the province? Where do they stand in Quebec? If they have a sense of individual rights, then where is the connection with these other groups?


Mr Bornstein: Quebec has its own charter of the rights of the person, a charter of human rights, to translate it in a more elegant fashion. It contains most of the provisions the federal charter does. However, it also involves provisions for the protection and furthering of the French language. When Quebec talks about collective rights, it means the language and cultural rights of Quebec as a French-speaking minority in what it sees as a sea of English-speaking peoples. Their charter respects all the other rights we take seriously in Ontario and in the federal charter as well.

On the subject of native and women's rights, their texts look rather like ours. The issue for Quebec as I understand it is that the real question is which charter takes precedence, and whether the federal charter will take precedence over the language components of the Quebec charter and Quebec legislation. In Allaire there were a series of provisions and amendments which augmented and strengthened those provisions, guaranteeing the rights of cultural communities, the rights of anglophones -- I am sorry, by cultural communities they mean allophones, immigrant communities, non-French, non-English -- and guaranteeing the rights of aboriginal peoples. So their written commitment to human rights is rather like ours and looks rather like the federal document, except for this issue of language, basically, education and culture.

Mr Malkowski: What happens then with the first peoples, the native people? What happens to their land claims?

Mr Bornstein: Quebec is in the process of attempting to deal with land claims and attempting to work out its relationship to the first nations just as we are and just as many other provinces are. They have a broad mixture of different sorts of native peoples with different land claims, different relations to the government, some who speak French as their language, some who speak French as their second language, some who speak English as their first or second language, some who have made quite substantial land claims, others who have not made such land claims, others who agreed back in the 1970s to sell land for the James Bay project and others who refused at that time. There is the same division now between native groups that are interested in talking about James Bay II and others that absolutely are not.

I guess I should say there is a perception in Quebec that the rest of Canada thinks it is extremely nasty to its natives. Their perception is that in terms of legal provision, in terms of provision of services and in terms of recognition of rights they have come an enormous distance in the last 10 or 15 years and that their record is as good as anybody else's. The record stands, It should be examined, but there is a very strong perception among Quebec leaders that they are getting a bum rap coming out of the Oka controversy and that the Oka experience is not very representative of the overall nature of relations between the Quebec government and its various native peoples.

Ms Gigantes: If we were to compare SAIC with our Intergovernmental Affairs, what would the number of comparison be, 85 to what?

Mr Bornstein: It would be 85 to about 45. It is about two to one.

Ms Gigantes: Has that grown rapidly recently, or is it this traditionally.

Mr Bornstein: SAIC is a big operation. It has traditionally been a big operation.

Ms Gigantes: Why is that? What do they find to do more intergovernmentally than we do?

Mr Bornstein: Daniel has more experience in the ministry than I do, so I will defer to him.

Mr Cayen: I guess that is an administrative type of question in the sense that there is a piece of legislation in Quebec establishing SAIC and the powers that it can exercise as a central agency vis-à-vis what they call line departments, as we do. The Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs in Ontario is also governed by a piece of legislation, but its powers to co-ordinate the activities of line departments are not as developed as those of SAIC. In essence, the role of SAIC is much broader than that of this Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs in Ontario. I would imagine that would create a lot more work for the SAIC department than there would be for the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs here in Ontario, so probably for purely a reason of legislative mandate there would be more work generated within SAIC than the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs.

Mr Bornstein: Let me give you an example. In Quebec, any government official wanting to make a trip outside the province technically speaking has to clear that trip with SAIC. It is a very centralized process for dealing outside of the province. In fact, if I have it right, you need a cabinet minute authorizing you to make that trip, even as a deputy minister, and authorizing you to say what you intend to say. We do not do that. There is no such centralization.

In addition, the co-operative programs between Ontario and Quebec, for example, that we run largely through line ministries tend to be run much more closely by SAIC. Where we have one civil servant running the Ontario-Quebec Commission for Co-operation, they have three of four. We run these programs in co-operation with our line ministries. They tend to run them much more directly.

In addition, you have to remember the history of constitutional, shall I say, battles in this country. Since the Quiet Revolution, Quebec has seen itself as odd province out and has structured itself to try to restructure the relationship, so it created a strong ministry very early and it created offices throughout Canada much earlier than we did. They had an agenda in a way other provinces did not until recently. I think those two things, the structural one and the historical component, would help explain the difference in size.

Ms Gigantes: So in essence, when we enter into this kind of round of discussion, we are dealing with people who are practised in carrying out a very comprehensive program in terms of the directedness of their policies and the unified way in which they advance those policies.

Mr Bornstein: They are very impressive. I have been very impressed with all of the senior managers I have met in their ministry. But I must tell you that, as an outsider coming into our ministry, I find an equally impressive crew of skilled, experienced civil servants. We may be outnumbered, but we are not outsmarted.

Ms Gigantes: But in terms of the consistency of our approach along departmental or ministry lines and policy areas, I do not think there is any doubt that we have ad hocked it through a great deal more than Quebec has.

Mr Bornstein: I am not sure I would want to comment on what is clearly a political matter.

Ms Gigantes: That was a philosophical, historical comment.

Mr Bornstein: Daniel, do you want to put your foot in this one?


Mr Cayen: I will put my foot in this one to the degree only that as part of what Stephen was saying regarding the co-ordination of their participation in intergovernmental forums, given the post-Meech context whereby they have decided not to attend certain intergovernmental conferences and attend others, it was the only way they could find to control that, because even for Quebec line departments this consistency we are talking about is not so easily controlled.

The natural tendency in line departments in Quebec is to attend those conferences because so much information can be garnered on their respective areas of policy and programs. What they had to do to really present this consistency is police everybody to a degree that is called for, I would say, in the exceptional circumstances Quebec judged it found itself in after Meech, where it wanted to control its relationship with other governments centrally.

In fact, Quebec judged it was in an exceptional circumstance, so no minister or senior official or any official can meet with other officials or ministers and so on from other governments without clearing it through SAIC, and from time to time they may receive permission to participate in such forums, and through that process, created by what they consider to be exceptional circumstances, yes, they do look as if they have more consistency and perhaps they do. Those circumstances may not exist for other provinces.

Ms Gigantes: The one other question I had was whether the Quebec Health minister has been lured to the current Health ministers' meeting by the fact that the Minister of National Health and Welfare is talking about new fiscal arrangements in health.

Mr Cayen: To my knowledge, no.

Mr Bornstein: No, he has not gone, not as far as I know. This is as of yesterday.

Ms Gigantes: It must have been very tempting.

Mr Bornstein: Yes. Apparently no one knows what is on the agenda.

Ms Gigantes: Yes. Everything is on the agenda.

Mr Bornstein: If I could just add one comment on this consistency question, those of us who spend our time watching Mr Bourassa know that while there may be consistency in long-term strategy, there is an enormous variation in, say, middle-term tactics. I am not sure SAIC feels it has an easy time maintaining a consistent line either.

Mr Offer: I have four short questions. The first deals with the referendum. The referendum is to take place by October 1992?

Mr Bornstein: It will take place in one of two short windows, in about a 10-day period in June or a 10-day period in October, and as I understand it, the reason they did not just fix a final deadline is that they do not want it held over the summer; that is, the sovereigntist force does not want the vote held over the summer when students are away from Quebec, their argument being a quite convincing demographic one, that the younger one is, the more likely one is to vote for sovereignty. They do not want the vote held over the summer when many of their supporters are gone.

Mr Offer: Thank you; that is quite helpful. The reason I asked is that if it is either June or October 1992, I would imagine that for a vote to be held at that time, there is a substantial workup prior to the vote. When one thinks about the time period, I do not know that it is absolutely proper, in terms of the realities of the matter, to think it is June or October. Probably the die will be cast much earlier, I would say two, maybe three or four months earlier, and once that is done, usually that will just carry on with a certain momentum of its own.

From your experience, do you think that if we get to that critical barrier when decisions have to be made in terms of the wording of a referendum and in terms of who is eligible to vote, it will be very difficult to be stalled or stopped, and that this might take place three or four months prior to the date?

Mr Bornstein: Quebec has a law on what it calls popular consultations which was put on the books prior to the 1980 referendum. It specifies everything you can imagine needing specification about how to hold a referendum: how long before the vote the question has to be formulated, who has to formulate the question, who has to pass it, who gets to campaign, how the campaigns are structured; it is all spelled out.

You are right that the runup is about three months, but in fact the runup will be much longer. There were people who were saying that they expected the debate on Bill 150 to be the kickoff for the referendum campaign. It looks as if that has not happened, perhaps because of Mr Bourassa's manoeuvre in taking the bill off the order paper for 10 hours and then putting it back on, perhaps not. But certainly once the federal proposals come out, once those committees start getting to work in Quebec in September or October, once they start hearing experts again and having submissions, to all intents and purposes I think the referendum debate will be on.

Mr Offer: I think we have to get a fairly clear idea from the committee's perspective what the real timetable is. When one takes into account the stated dates and when one also factors in the minimum runup, our timetable is much shorter than one would otherwise believe.

My second, third and fourth questions deal with the role of the committee that receives proposals. I almost used the word the "offers," but I will not. But I guess I did. In your opinion, is that primarily a receiver of proposals or a developer of proposals?

Mr Bornstein: There has been a lot of ambiguity about what exactly that committee could do. There is no sense, as far as I can tell, that the committee will produce its own offers. It will be reactive in the sense that it will look at what comes in, look at what is out there. Beyond that, its mandate looks as if it will be specified fairly vaguely, and statements at various points by Premier Bourassa and by Mr Rémillard seem to suggest that committee will be able to examine the various reports that have already been done, look at what other committees in the country are doing, perhaps even meet with other committees, although it has been sometimes yes, sometimes no, look at documents, invite in experts, talk about possibilities. Unless I have misunderstood the intention, they will not produce any proposals of their own, because the proposals are seen as already being there.

Mr Offer: Is it your opinion that this offers committee has an expectation that it will receive definite proposals or something more of a conceptual nature that is a beginning for discussion?

Mr Bornstein: I am really not privy to what is going on in their minds. I think they are looking at the Ottawa process, and what they think they are going to get in September and October is the beginning of something very broad and then gradually more concrete, detailed proposals to which one could say yes or no. They see Ottawa as having the lead in this process at the moment. What I think they expect from Ottawa is something they can look at and study and examine and ultimately say, "This will do," or, "This won't do."


Mr Offer: I have a final question, and you actually touched on it with how the committee views itself. It views itself as one which primarily deals with the federal government. Where do the provinces roll into this? Is it that they see that the provinces' interests will be part of whatever comes out of the federal document or do they see it coming in from the side?

Mr Bornstein: These committees do not exist yet. They do not even exist on paper yet because the bill has not been passed.

Mr Offer: Then I guess my question was a touch premature.

Mr Bornstein: It is one of those hypothetical questions that we are trained not to answer. The committee does not exist yet. Once it comes into being -- and this is a hypothetical answer -- I think it will take some time to figure out what they will and what they will not do. I think part of that will be the result of politics, who is on the committees, what their opinions are, what the balance of forces is, and then what the political leadership wants those committees to do. It is still very hard to know.

Mr Offer: I guess if one takes into account the time period they are going to be dealing with, if the earliest date for casting a vote on a referendum is June and the workup is three or four months, then just by taking a look at the calendar, this committee will have about three months to really do some of the hard work in terms of analysing proposals next October.

Mr Bornstein: If you assume they will stop working once the campaigns are launched, that may not be what actually happens. They may go on having hearings, trying to influence the outcome as the campaigns go on. That would be messy perhaps, but it may very well happen none the less.

Mr Winninger: You may know Pierre Pettigrew.

Mr Bornstein: I know of him. I have not met him yet.

Mr Winninger: Pierre Pettigrew appeared on a panel with Ian Scott last night at the Canadian Bar Association. They were discussing constitutional reform and Pierre Pettigrew advanced a rather interesting proposition. He said the Bélanger-Campeau commission was kind of a mini-constituent assembly, because you have politicians, non-politicians, women, aboriginals, multiculturals. He opined that this was a good example of how constituent assemblies do not work, because he suggested that it was torn apart, that it not come to any substantive conclusions. I just wondered how close this was in your opinion to a model for a constituent assembly.

Mr Bornstein: I am not sure it is my place to pronounce on what a constituent assembly would or would not look like. I think that is for the politicians and the political leadership to discuss. As for Bélanger-Campeau as a constituent assembly, it had representation from those groups. There were no aboriginals on Bélanger-Campeau. There were not very many women on Bélanger-Campeau. There were no members of the commission from a number of segments of Quebec society you might have thought ought to have been represented. This would only be a personal opinion at this point. It does not look like a constituent assembly to me, although it did do an interesting job of seeing what was out there in Quebec public and elite opinion at a certain moment in time, but perhaps also in generating a certain structure of political opinion as well. It was not just a one-way process. So I think I will avoid pronouncing myself on what constituent assemblies ought to look like with that little comment on Bélanger-Campeau.

Ms Gigantes: I would like to come back again to the whole question of how provinces relate to this whole process. We are in a situation now where everybody is waiting for the federal government to bring forward certain proposals, and within provinces we have seen a multiplicity of committees and task forces and reports and so on, and we will see more. I find it difficult to see how all that comes together. I also find it difficult to know what role the federal government expects to play in bringing together committees like our committee with other committees. I do not know if you have a sense of that, whether there has been any suggestion from the federal government to the Quebec government about how it would relate to the committees, and your sense of how it is that committees, for example, in British Columbia or Alberta -- or where none exists, in Newfoundland -- how those people get informed about what is happening in Quebec. How do they get their information? How does Clyde Wells know what is happening in Quebec?

Mr Bornstein: I think I should restrict myself to the Quebec side, for starters, because it is what I know best. My feeling is there is an expectation that there will be some consultation between the Quebec committee on offers and some aspect of Ottawa's rather complicated process, but I am not really sure. I am not privy to any inside information on that. That will unfold as the negotiations go on.

As to how the other provinces get their information about Quebec, some of them -- I was going to say some of them have offices in Quebec, but in fact they do not. We are the only province that has an office in Quebec, so that is not how they are doing it.

Ms Gigantes: Quebec has offices everywhere.

Mr Bornstein: Yes, Quebec has offices. In provinces where Quebec has offices, I would think those offices serve as conduits of information from the Quebec government to the intergovernmental officers and ministers in those provinces. Aside from that, I think they do what everyone does. They read the press. They read the documents. They send people to look. They think as hard as they can about what is going on. I do not think they have any secret agents, if that is what you mean.

Ms Gigantes: No, I am quite aware they do not. That is what puzzles me about how we are supposed to find out what each other is thinking, as it were, and pull those thoughts together in what is clearly a limited amount of time.

Mr Bornstein: There I would submit that Ontario is in a favoured position actually, having a long-established office in Quebec and a segment of its ministry that pays attention to Quebec and understands Quebec and knows the language and the history.

Ms Gigantes: If we only had to work out some kind of new arrangements between Quebec and Ontario, that would be fine.

Mr Bornstein: We do have, in addition, in MIA, segments of the apparatus that look at the other regions that have long experience in figuring out what goes on there. We have an office in Ottawa where we can examine the process in Ottawa and also interact with the offices of other provinces.

Ms Gigantes: I understand. The thing is Ontario is not going to solve the question of what happens with Confederation by itself.

Mr Bornstein: By itself, certainly not.

Ms Gigantes: I accept your view that we have a good deal of information in this province and a fair amount of experience in this province, and that the relation is there over a long period of time, but that is not going to be enough.

Mr Bornstein: It is also true, though, that without Ontario no successful deal is, I think, imaginable. Ontario will play, I think, a significant role in this.

Ms Gigantes: No one would suggest the opposite, I am sure.


The Chair: Just picking up on that last exchange, you may be aware, Mr Bornstein, that we as a committee, as part of the work we will do over the summer and into the early fall, are looking at the possibility of travelling to various provinces or having members of the committee travel to various provinces to meet with our counterparts where they exist, to see basically what the thinking is there in addition to sharing information. Mr Offer pursued this before in terms of the committee that was being set up there and there seemed to be a more positive attitude on their part than we were hearing earlier about the possibility of their being prepared to meet with us. Do you have any observations or advice to offer us in terms of the role we have been charged with, particularly with respect to our approach to Quebec?

Mr Bornstein: Again I am not sure it is my place, as a civil servant, to advise a parliamentary committee on what it should or should not do. I would not presume to do that. As to what that Quebec committee will or will not do, as I said to Mr Offer, it is still up in the air. The outcome will depend to a considerable extent, I think, on the internal dynamics of that committee and on the desires and strategies of Mr Bourassa and Mr Rémillard, so it really is very difficult to say now. If you said to me, "If we propose a trip to Quebec, will they let us across the border?" I do not know. I think we would have to wait to look at the composition of the committee, its exact mandate and then talk to it; that is, you would have to talk to it as a counterpart committee. As I understand it, relationships at the level of parliamentarians are good and getting better, are they not?

The Chair: Yes. In fact, I think members of the committee are aware of the new association that has been established on the initiative of the two speakers, between our Legislative Assembly and the National Assembly in Quebec.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I just wondered, after Ms Gigantes spoke about how people learn about what is going on, can you tell us a little bit about what happened when we released our report? Did anyone in Quebec read it? Did it receive any press? We spent a lot of time on that report. We thought we were as careful as we possibly could be, and as constructive as we possibly could be, of course knowing that it would be kind of the basis of our following work.

Mr Bornstein: It was read. I know that SAIC paid very careful attention to it. They wanted advance copies. They wanted to be put in an embargo to look at them and get advance notice. They took it very seriously. I know that within SAIC, studies were done and analyses were done and it was compared to various other documents, both federal and provincial, and their own. I know Premier Bourassa got a copy. He sent me a thank you note for his copy. His officials have read it.

This was right at the beginning of my mandate. I took over this position about the moment the discussion paper was released, so it is a little confused in my mind.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I am talking about the report, as well as the discussion paper. I do not know which you are describing now.

Mr Bornstein: The preliminary report? I am talking about the discussion paper. The preliminary report was looked at and got the kind of play in Quebec that most stories from outside Quebec get: one round in the papers, one comment on TV on the CBC and Radio Canada newscasts, and then it faded out of sight. This is fairly typical of anything that is not a scandal.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I guess what I am trying to get at is do you think it was studied by academics, economists, youths, students? Do you think anybody did take it and use it as a resource to know where we were at in our thinking here?

Mr Bornstein: I know we had lots of demands to get it. I have not seen any follow-up; that does not mean it is not happening, but I cannot testify to firsthand knowledge of what is being done with it. It is true that Quebec is very much focused on its own agenda, its own documents and on Ottawa. Aside from the pros, aside from the SAIC people and the experts, what happens in the other provinces is for the moment secondary, at least in terms of what happens at the legislative level. That is my feeling for how they are proceeding at the moment, very much focused on their own committees, their own reports, their own internal processes.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I hope the committee of offers, or the offers committee, will read it. Can you say a little bit more about those who will be dissenting on the bill? There is one Liberal member, I understand. Is that the total of Liberals --

Mr Bornstein: There is one Liberal member who has said from the beginning -- he is an anglophone member from the west island of Montreal. He was on Bélanger-Campeau and signed the report, but with an addendum of reservation of his own. From the moment Bill 150 was introduced, he took a couple of days and then he decided he could not support it. Everyone else in the Liberal caucus, as far as I can see from public information, will be voting in favour. The Parti Québécois will be voting against; barring last-minute, behind-the-scenes negotiations and compromises, they will be voting against. The Equality Party will be voting against because the bill says "referendum on sovereignty." So the lineup will look like that and there will be an overwhelming majority, given the structure of the parties in the National Assembly, in favour of that bill. It will become law, I would think, tomorrow or -- today is Wednesday -- Friday, but probably tomorrow.

Ms Gigantes: If we maybe want to attract the eye of Quebeckers, we should invite the committee to come and meet in Ottawa.

Mr Bornstein: I am not sure; I have a vague recollection of seeing that their mandate would not include travel outside Quebec, but I could be wrong. I will have to check that, but something in the back of my mind suggests to me that I read somewhere they could travel anywhere they wanted, but not outside Quebec.

Ms Gigantes: If we held our deliberations in Ottawa it might attract their attention.

Mr Bornstein: Ottawa is in Ontario, after all.

The Chair: This comes from a member from Ottawa, Mr Bornstein, looking at another member from Ottawa.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I did tell this Chair. I do not think the whole committee knows. I do not know whether, Evelyn, you have been able to say you can come on 28 June. The members from Ottawa are hosting, through the Deputy Speaker, the MNAs from the Outaouais in Ottawa. I have not examined the agenda closely, but it will be the first and springs out of the initiatives of the two Speakers.

Ms Gigantes: At the Chateau Laurier.

Mr Bornstein: I have also heard rumours of a softball game between parliamentarians from the two provinces, but they are only rumours at this point.

The Chair: They are only rumours. That apparently is being looked at, yes.

Mr Bornstein: I offered to umpire but was told it was not my place.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: The pitcher is the Chairman.

The Chair: No, not baseball. If people are interested in a good soccer game I would be more than happy to oblige.

Mr Winninger: Will the winners be the winners or will the winners be the losers?

Mr Bornstein: I asked that question, actually, and they said it was never an issue when they played with other constituencies. They played two games and they always arranged for each team to win once.

The Chair: Well done. Thank you very much, Mr Bornstein.

Mr Bornstein: A pleasure.

The Chair: I know that for you to be here today you had to make some changes in your schedule, and on behalf of the committee we appreciate your being with us.

Members of the committee, that really concludes our public business. We do have some other items in terms of organization that we can carry on with in private session to continue getting ready for our summer sessions. I think Mr Bornstein will be around for a little while, as well, if we want to continue some of the discussion informally. A motion to go in camera would probably be appropriate

Mr Malkowski: I will make that motion.

The Chair: Mr Malkowski. All those in favour? Opposed?

Motion agreed to.

The committee continued in camera at 1720.