Wednesday 27 November 1991

United Senior Citizens of Ontario

Common Agenda Alliance for the Arts

Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation

Provincial Council of Women of Ontario


Chair: Drainville, Dennis (Victoria-Haliburton NDP)

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

Carter, Jenny (Peterborough NDP)

Curling, Alvin (Scarborough North L)

Eves, Ernie L. (Parry Sound PC)

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


Kaye, Philip J., Research Officer, Legislative Research Service

Drummond, Alison, Research Officer, Legislative Research Service

The committee met at 1637 in room 151.

The Vice-Chair: We welcome all the people watching and the people we have here today with us to hearings before the select committee on Ontario in Confederation. Just as a bit of a recap, this committee has been convening this fall and listening to various people and organizations coming and presenting to us specifically on some questions or concerns around the whole constitutional debate.


The Vice-Chair: We have with us this afternoon Mr Wallace Connon from the United Senior Citizens of Ontario. He happens to be the second vice-president of that association.

Mr Connon: As the chairman said, I am second vice-chairman for the United Senior Citizens of Ontario, commonly called USCO. I am speaking to you as a representative of the United Senior Citizens of Ontario. We are a grass-roots organization that was started in Five Oaks, near Paris, Ontario, in September 1956 by a small group of seniors from southern Ontario. Today we speak for some 300,000 senior citizens living in Ontario. We are a voluntary group providing information, education and advocacy on behalf of older adults in Ontario. I am therefore coming to you as a layman rather than a constitutional expert. You have already had many constitutional scholars appear before you who are far better qualified to enunciate the salient points which go into making a constitution.

I sometimes fear that when we approach the important task of putting together a constitution we invite people who come with a chip on their shoulder, people who are unhappy with the existing government of the day or people who just want to be heard, without the study that should rightfully go into such a task. It is my hope that I do not fall into any of these categories. I believe I am safe to say that the USCO approaches this question with a sincere desire to ensure that the Canada we turn over to our progeny will be a fair and strong nation. This represents an enormous task and responsibility that falls on the shoulders of all Canadians.

The history of Canada is complex. In most cases our forefathers came to a land that was already settled and enjoying social values established by a native population. The new settlers were divided into two basic ethnic groups, the French and the British. It was a period when imperialism was dominant. The French society settled mainly along the shores of the rivers in a pastoral culture. The British, on the other hand, had more of a tendency to be tradesmen and businessmen. Upper Canada became mainly British while Lower Canada remained French.

Both of these cultures retained their ways of life until after the First World War. Quebec did not change as readily as the British portion. Having strong Roman Catholic ties, larger families were encouraged and the children tended to study religious training or professional pursuits, such as medicine, law and academia. The British sector tended to be more business-oriented and, following the Second World War, actively participated in developing new techniques applicable to the business community, ie, technology. A case in point is the evolution of the computer.

It seems to me that the real change in French culture was sparked by the visit of General Charles de Gaulle. "Vive le Québec libre" awakened in the Québécois the desire to take their rightful place in the modern world of business and a tendency to place the blame outside of Quebec rather than accepting the fact that they had chosen the lifestyle they have previously enjoyed.

The British, on the other hand, were seeing enormous changes taking place in their society. Immigration quotas had increased in the postwar period and we saw the mosaic pattern of our society developing. This resulted in the dilution of the British culture, and although we proclaimed with some pride the mosaic pattern that had developed, later years have tended to make a vast area of Canada an indistinct society as opposed to Quebec being a distinct society. We have no hesitation in accepting the concept that Quebec is a distinct society.

So far I have spoken only of the French and British evolution in Canadian society, but a very important part of our society is our native population. These people have been maligned and misunderstood since the days of Christopher Columbus, when they were referred to as Indians. Here was a civilization, which had grown and developed in harmony with nature, faced with intruders from a far-off land who came with entirely different concepts of the role of mankind. Our history books to date have been unfair to the native population. Up to now, we have treated them as though they were incapable of their own self-government. As these native people have become more articulate in the white man's language, the white man has reluctantly come around to the view that these people do deserve self-government. This belief is firmly held by the USCO.

The USCO, which is made up of senior citizens of the province of Ontario, has developed, through its members, a strong bond and affection for Canada as a nation. The accident of birth dictates our ethnic origin. We trust that when all the debating and submissions of briefs are completed, Canada will emerge a stronger and better nation, a nation based upon mutual understanding and acceptance of cultural differences.

We regret that the Quebec government has felt it necessary to avoid participation on an equal basis with the rest of Canada, because this creates a serious imbalance, whereas the part of Canada outside of Quebec spends most of its time and effort in trying to interpret and anticipate what will satisfy that province.

The question of private property is somewhat confusing. There is such a vast variation in types of property, much of which is, for want to a better word, "imaginary." If one owns a lot or farm, what does one actually own? Is it the soil, the space or the mineral rights of that property? What can he do with the property or farm? He may find that he cannot build a house because it is a commercial zone or, on the other hand, cannot establish a business because it is declared residential.

In addition, he cannot take the land that he possesses to another province -- say, British Columbia -- if he wants to move. So what does he really own? If he were to purchase a car for, say, $20,000 and moves it off the lot into the street, he could possibly lose $2,000 in actual value, and depreciation will further reduce the value to where it eventually becomes worthless. It seems to me that inserting a nebulous clause regarding private property has no real meaning in a constitution. I can see more justification in inserting a clause ensuring social programs.

The fragmentation of Canada should Quebec's referendum result in sovereignty-association or independence would render Canada vulnerable to possible American takeover. This may not necessarily be a violent annexation of Canada, but even a mutually acceptable association with our American friends would be a sad day indeed for Canada. Moreover, Quebec itself would not be immune to such a takeover. All of which makes one wonder if it is all worth while.

This thought seems to have been recurring in many other remarks that have been heard during the debate. We must seriously consider whether we can jeopardize our medical program or our judicial system when embracing the American tradition. The Americans fought a civil war over the question of secession. Are the germs of civil strife contained in the making of a new constitution? We must be cognizant of the danger that lurks in these deliberations.

We have heard a great deal concerning Senate reform, particularly in western Canada. Much has been said about a triple E Senate. One cannot help having grave doubts that any reform of the Senate will be very difficult. The Senate has been discredited through the years because of political partisanship. Each outgoing government seems to think it is good politics to fill the vacancies with its political friends, thus making it hostile to a new government with views opposed to those of the outgoing government. On many occasions it seems that the Senate is pasture land for political warhorses. In a recent instance, because the Senate was prepared to block legislation enacting the GST, our government called on Her Majesty to allow the appointment of eight senators to ensure passage of the legislation. This surely constituted complete disrespect of this venerable legislative body.

There is already much controversy over how an elected Senate should be elected. Smaller provinces want to have an equal say in the election of the Senate regardless of population differences. This would seem to be an insurmountable hurdle. Then there is the question of how the vote would be tabulated -- ie, proportional representation -- which will require the creation of multimember constituencies, the use of party lists or single transferable voting systems. It seems improbable that a harmonious resolution of this problem could be worked out. Many seniors now believe it might be more practical to consider the abolition of the Senate, thus saving the country a large expenditure in the years to follow.

Previous mention was made regarding the incorporation of a Canadian social charter. The USCO would welcome the inclusion of such a provision. This would ensure that whatever part of the country they came from, Canadians would be entitled to the benefits derived from such a charter. We realize some of the provinces are reluctant to include this province, but its importance cannot be denied. This would not be inconsistent with the free market concept between provinces.

It is not as though our social programs have not already been threatened. The USCO is proud of the fact that, along with other seniors' groups, we were able to persuade our government to back off the de-indexation of our old age security pensions. We were not quite as successful when the clawback legislation was enacted. Small wonder that the USCO supports the inclusion of a social charter in our Constitution.


The main thrust of the USCO's concern is provincial, but when federal policies affect our seniors we have to become involved. We are affiliated with the National Pensioners and Senior Citizens Federation, which represents and works on behalf of seniors in Canada presenting their issues to the federal government. Moreover, we co-operate with other senior citizens' groups in matters of common interest to seniors. We are ever mindful of the fact that seniors have played a very important part in the development of this great country we call Canada. It is our fervent desire that Canada remain a unified and enlightened country so that the dedication and devotion of our forefathers will not be in vain.

Canadians have enjoyed a proud heritage, and although we have a tendency to be reticent in proclaiming our pride and loyalty, those feelings are very strong. It is unfortunate that we are going through a serious recession while these discussions are taking place, because our views are liable to be influenced by personal hardships, thus preventing us from adopting a more objective point of view.

On behalf of the United Senior Citizens of Ontario, I want to thank you for this opportunity to participate in these important discussions.

The Vice-Chair: Mr Connon, I thank you very much. There are some questions on the interesting brief you presented to this committee. We will start off with Mrs Harrington.

Ms Harrington: I thank you very much for coming before us and telling us exactly how you are feeling. I do not think we have had a brief that is quite so straightforward.

I had a question on page 4, the third paragraph down: "We do regret that the Quebec government has felt it necessary to avoid participation on an equal basis with the rest of Canada because this creates a serious imbalance, whereas the part of Canada outside of Quebec spends most of its time...." I did not quite get the sense of what you were saying there.

Mr Connon: My feeling is this: I never had much of a chance to go over each thing in detail with the USCO as such. I got main points from them, but what I am coming at is that it is not the people of Quebec who I say are not participating; I think they are. The government has sort of felt as though it was burned by the Meech Lake accord, I guess. They have suggested that it is better to stay out of the conferences with the premiers. They are not completely divorced from the discussion, but they are not ready to come in and sit with all the provinces.

Ms Harrington: So you are talking about a fairly recent thing, not a historical thing.

Mr Connon: That is right.

Ms Harrington: You mentioned a couple of times the importance of the social charter to you and your constituents. We have had a fair amount of discussion on this. Can you see difficulties in implementing this idea of guaranteed social benefits across the country?

Mr Connon: I do not think we can lay down actual details. General principles would be all that could be included in the charter, and recognizing the general principle that we do in fact have certain charter rights that have what we call sacred trust, if you will. They should be respected as such, and in order to ensure it we have them covered.

Ms Harrington: It would make this country unique, that people really believe in it.

Mr Connon: I beg your pardon? I did not get that last word.

Ms Harrington: It is something that I think a majority of Canadians believe identifies us as Canadians that makes us unique, that we really believe in our social programs. I will pass to my colleagues.

Mr Curling: Thank you very much. Reading this, I can see the true Canadian coming out in you. These are the Canadians I like to associate with. I am not talking about the seniors; I am talking about your heart and what went into this. As my colleague said, you spoke straight from the heart. I welcome a presentation like this.

Although you make apologies about the fact that you are not of all the legal, constitutional minds who made their presentations, and we have heard enough of that, it is good to hear that we have heard the other part of it.

I note one of the concerns that Canada has now, and I do not want to say a negative or a positive concern, but the fact that what they call baby boomers are growing up now and becoming somewhere around seniors, like myself.

The Vice-Chair: Excuse me, I was a baby boomer.

Mr Curling: The Vice-Chair here may be the echo of the baby boom. He is much younger than I am.

The concern, then, in addressing many of the issues of Canada may concentrate around that area. I notice that as you cautiously talked about the social charter, you said it is not as if we have not addressed that concern. It has been addressed, and I am grateful to the fact that this country addressed quite a few of those social charter concerns without it being mentioned before.

Then you said that when it comes to things that affect the seniors, the indexing of pensions and all that, you get rather concerned. I would like you to comment on this: Do you feel that much has been done with regard to addressing that bulk, as I talk about the senior citizens? We are going to have to deal with a lot of that and how we plan our economy in many years to come. Do you think the Constitution should focus in that direction?

Mr Connor: I think it has to ensure that we keep some kind of focus in that direction.

Mr Curling: Let me make a quick addition: Or do you feel we should get a lot more immigration in this country to sort of balance that lump, younger people?

Mr Connor: It is a matter of how fast we want to absorb and how fast we can. That is why I say a recession is a bad time to try and -- it distorts everything you are trying to figure out. You really cannot give a good, objective view of things until you get away from the recession, a little bit, anyway. It does distort. As I have said before, I would not want to try and be specific on the social charter.

Take my own case. When I retired back in 1977, I retired with what I thought was a nice, comfortable pension, and here in 1991, if I had not had the support of the old age security and the Canada pension and so on, I do not know just how we would be surviving. I thought we were all right in 1977. In 1991 I do not know what lies ahead. You cannot prepare for that sufficiently anyway. No matter how hard you prepare, you end up wondering if you prepared enough.

Ms Carter: Thank you for that straightforward presentation, as has been said, which I think calls a spade a spade in a way that maybe some other people have not been willing to do.

I am not quite clear regarding your ideas on Quebec and the mutual relationships. You do see Quebec as distinct. You go into the historical basis for that, and you say we want a mutual understanding and acceptance of cultural differences.

Then on page 4 you go on to say that you feel there is an imbalance, and that you see Quebec as a very unified society, where the rest of Canada is a mosaic. I am not sure that is absolutely true. There are immigrant groups within Quebec. Although they obviously get absorbed into a French-speaking society whereas here they get absorbed into an English-speaking society, there are still the other elements there. I was just wondering if you could tell us a little bit more about how you see the situation being resolved as regards Quebec?


Mr Connon: Maybe if I put it this way, that I do not hear the concern over what BC thinks, what Alberta thinks, what New Brunswick thinks to balance the amount of concern over "is Quebec going to accept this?" There seems to be a lack of communication or a lack of ability to get that across. We do not want to see Canada break up. That is the last thing in the world any of us in the USCO that I know of want to see. It is most important that we try to pull it together. I do not know just how we are going to succeed, because every day we get a new division.

Ms Carter: Yes, I think we all have that concern. You suggest that the Senate should be abolished. Do you see any other way in which the provinces could have some kind of more direct input than just as part of the Commons?

Mr Connon: It would be if we are going to have a Senate. The Senate is, I would guess, originally intended to be a second opinion body. If it is free to make that second opinion then it is effective, but if it is manipulated politically then it is not. An elected Senate might correct that if it can be done properly. I can see the concept of regions, like the Atlantic region and the Prairies, being brought in to try and make it fair. But I do not know whether we get thinking of the American Senate, which is a very effective body. Our Senate is only effective as long as we are going to let it be effective. If it goes too far, we seem to like to find ways and means of cutting off its communication.

Ms Carter: A lot of the suggested changes are to give the provinces more representation through the Senate, which they do not particularly have now, but that is the idea that reformists have. At present, I think the input is largely through the premiers of the provinces having meetings to get their ideas through to the government. I just wonder if you have any ideas on whether maybe that should be the way it is done or whether there should be some special body set up for that.

Mr Connon: Yes, that no doubt would be a way to start. The thing is that provinces like Ontario and Quebec -- assuming Quebec stays in Canada, in Confederation -- look so big to, say, a Newfoundlander, a Nova Scotian, that they do not figure it is a fair balance. If they regionalized the Maritimes in that way for the voting anyway, maybe it would sort of balance it out, but we cannot help having the feeling. I have talked to quite a few of the seniors. A lot of them have the opinion that if we abolished it, maybe that would be one way of getting rid of the problem, but it may not be the right way.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much. We are going to go to Mrs O'Neill, and I would ask you to be as brief as possible as we have other presenters waiting.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I just have one question, Mr Chairman. Thank you, Mr Connor; you are not alone, of course, in your last statement about abolishing the Senate. We have heard that from various people. I do not think anyone else has actually used the words "American takeover" in their brief and I was very interested to see how you came to that actual term, because it is a very strong term, on page 5 at the beginning of the paragraph: "The fragmentation of Canada would render Canada vulnerable to possible American takeover."

Mr Connon: This concept is starting to emerge. I have not heard it from the American side, but from our own Canadians. A lot are talking. In BC there is some talk of it. I have heard different ones talk about the possibility that this would be done eventually, that this is the only way to go if Quebec were to become independent. It is merely a speculation. It is something I think we would try to guard against, because if we have any pride in Canada at all, we would want to try to hold it together. I am not advocating an American takeover, not by any means.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: But you do see it as a real possibility.

Mr Connon: It is a possibility.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much from all members who asked questions, and I feel the same. Often when people come before a committee and say, "I bring a perspective as a layman and I am not an expert," normally it gives us a pretty good insight into a fairly interesting presentation. It was quite thoughtful and for that I thank you very much.


The Vice-Chair: Presenting to us next is quite an interesting group. It is called the Common Agenda Alliance for the Arts, which represents the membership of many various groups, some of them very well known to this committee and the people of this province: ACTRA, the Canadian Music Centre, Dance in Canada, Dance Transition Centre, to name a few of them. We have a group here that is going to present to us. I am going to name two of them, and if I miss anybody, please correct me. We have Catherine Allman, who is the director of communications and research of the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists, as well as Garry Conway, who is the executive director of Canadian Artists' Representation Ontario.

As before, we welcome you to our committee. You have 30 minutes. We would ask for a little bit of time at the end so committee members may have a chance to ask questions on your presentation.

Mr Conway: It is our pleasure to address you today on behalf of the Common Agenda Alliance for the Arts. As was mentioned, we are a coalition of about 30 organizations representing a variety of Canadian artistic endeavours and cultural enterprises.

Many of our member groups are national in scope, others are provincial and a few are local. Because of Ontario's size, population and central position on the national cultural scene, most alliance members are based in this province.

As well as our own two organizations, members of the alliance include such groups as Associated Designers of Canada, Association of Canadian Publishers, Dance in Canada, Ontario Arts Council, Ontario College of Art, Ontario Crafts Council, Toronto Arts Council and Toronto Theatre Alliance.

We have different interests, functions, goals and agendas, and we certainly do not all think alike. However, we do all hold a strong belief that, collectively, we make enormous and essential contributions to the vitality and uniqueness of this country. As artists, producers, educators, administrators and distributors of culture, we help make Canada Canada.

Ms Allman: The Common Agenda Alliance for the Arts came together earlier this year in response to what many of us perceived as threats to the future of Canada's artistic and cultural life.

In February, the federal government announced plans to cut funding for special interest groups, which we understood would include arts and cultural groups. Then in June, we noted ominous indications that Ottawa intended to devolve its arts and cultural responsibilities to the provinces.

Our concerns now focus on the respective responsibilities of all levels of government in support of artistic and cultural activities. In the light of the constitutional proposals currently under consideration, it is the role of the federal government that is most in question. We came together because we believe all governments, and most certainly the federal government, must continue to give strong support to the arts and culture of this country. We simply cannot imagine Canada surviving an abdication by the federal government of these responsibilities.

This does not mean we endorse the status quo. On the contrary, we believe the federal government is not now playing a strong enough part. It has been gradually abandoning its pre-eminent role and its indispensable co-ordinating function in the cultural field. Although the federal government says it wants to get closer to the Canadian people, it seems in fact to be moving further away.

The federal government is currently talking a great deal about national unity and its determination to hold the country together, but national unity cannot exist without national culture. Government actions such as the repeated severe and crippling budget cuts to the CBC and the funding freeze at Telefilm Canada are, we believe, seriously counterproductive to the goal of unity.

We are not naïve. We do not have our heads in the clouds. We know all too well that these are difficult economic times and we understand the need for all governments to be fiscally responsible, but arts and culture are not frills. Such activities as drama, dance, music, the visual arts and other pursuits included in most people's definition of the arts and cultural enterprise are an indispensable part of the country's fabric. There is no question that news and information programming on television and radio, films, books and other publications dealing with political and social issues are also part of our national arts and culture. These media inform us about ourselves and reflect back to us our own identity as a nation. No, these are not frills. We know and you know that these pursuits are essential to our life. We know and you know that they need active and ongoing government support if they are to survive and thrive.


Furthermore, the role of government in support of culture is not just related to financial assistance. It also involves policy-making, regulation, co-ordination of national and international tours and much more.

Our shared conviction about the vital importance of the arts and culture to Canada has drawn us all into the Common Agenda Alliance for the Arts, and it is this conviction that has brought us here today. As Ontario legislators, you have a key role to play on the national scene. We are here to ask for your support in our efforts to preserve and nurture Canada's cultural integrity.

Mr Conway: We have a number of concerns about the government's intentions and its proposals as set out in Shaping Canada's Future Together. Some proposals, although they make no direct reference to arts and culture, could have a very negative impact on these aspects of our national life. Some proposals hint at changes that would be detrimental to the arts without spelling out what might actually happen. Even more important, the proposals speak mostly to structure, not to the soul of Canada.

Time does not permit us to discuss all of our concerns, so we will be selective.

The proposals refer to what the government sees as its "challenge...to ensure...the maintenance of important Canada-wide institutions that help us promote our identity," but "maintenance" and "important institutions" are not further defined. What do these terms mean in this context?

By just about anyone's definition, the CBC is an important national institution that helps us promote our identity, yet rather than being maintained, it was severely wounded last year with the closing of a number of regional operations. Do you know, for example, that northwestern Ontario receives its CBC feed from Winnipeg, so that thousands of citizens of this province get their provincial news and information from Manitoba rather than Ontario? This state of affairs is one clear demonstration that maintenance of Canada-wide institutions is not enough.

Another concern is the government's declared plan to introduce a constitutional amendment that would make labour market training an area of exclusive provincial jurisdiction. Would this mean that Ontario would be solely responsible for arts training institutions located in this province, even though they serve people from across the country?

Also, a number of federally funded employment schemes now make it possible for arts and cultural organizations to hire apprentices and students, a state of affairs that serves the organizations, the individuals seeking training and the general public. How could such initiatives be funded if there were no federal involvement? We believe Ontario should vigorously oppose any attempt on the part of the federal government to abdicate this area of its responsibilities.

The last area of concern we want to bring to your attention today is the proposal that the government of Canada "negotiate with the provinces, upon their request, agreements appropriate to the particular circumstances of each province to define clearly the role of each level of government." The text goes on to say, "Where appropriate, such agreements would be constitutionalized."

Such a series of bilateral agreements between Ottawa and the individual provinces would almost certainly result in an uneven patchwork of structures and regulations that would bring all kinds of country-wide cultural activities into a chaotic state. At the very least, there would be a huge area of uncertainty in the arts world as well as in other arenas, especially because of the discrepancy in size and wealth of the various provinces.

It seems abundantly clear that not all responsibilities can be simply allotted to one or another level of government. Canada is a complex society, and our diversity must be recognized and respected. That diversity is not inimical to national unity; it is actually the other side of the coin. The apparent contradiction of unity and diversity is one of the things that makes this country unique. What is more, even though we acknowledge a desire for streamlining administration in a number of areas, in the cultural arena duplication and overlap are positive attributes. They strengthen the foundation for creativity and permit the weaving together of a country-wide pattern of vibrant and thriving artistic activity.

In a related issue, we are strongly in favour of what sometimes is called concurrent funding, that is, the possibility of simultaneous funding for more than one level of government. Concurrent funding is criticized as leading to waste and duplication in some areas of activity, but in the cultural sector there is a distinct advantage to having more than one possible source of funding, so that no one level of government controls a particular project. Here again, overlap is a positive rather than a negative attribute.

We realize that the proposal for bilateral negotiations is rooted in an effort to accommodate the Quebec government. However, we do not believe this necessarily requires a symmetrical relationship between the federal government and the other provinces. We advocate the maintenance of the kind of asymmetrical federalism we have today, where there are special rules for Quebec but, at the same time, artists and organizations have equal access to federal programs and funding. This simply would not be possible if bilateral agreements led to a confused patchwork of cultural programs and policies across this country.

These are just some of the concerns of the arts and culture community regarding redefinition of Confederation. We would welcome an opportunity to discuss these and others with you in more detail. We hope these few examples will give you a sense of the difficulties we see in the constitutional proposals currently under consideration.

Ms Allman: But what do we ask of Ontario? Ontario, even more specifically Toronto, is without doubt a strategic centre of Canadian culture. Large numbers of artists, producers and administrators of cultural enterprises receive their training here. Cultural industries play a significant role in the economy of Ontario. These facts of life make it imperative that the Ontario Legislature play a major role in ensuring the continued health and growth of our country's cultural infrastructure.

This province and its larger municipalities have traditionally given strong support to the arts, but it takes all levels of government to ensure the viability of our cultural life. The role of the federal government is incontestably essential. In the constitutional proposals the federal government appears to be signalling its intention to pass over to provincial governments a role that can really only be effectively be carried out at the federal level. It would be asking the provincial governments to guarantee the integrity of federal programs.

Changes such as the decentralization of the CRTC without the preservation of national standards or federal withdrawal from sponsorship of national tours of performing groups and artistic exhibitions would unquestionably be disastrous to the vibrancy of Canadian culture. Such changes would place an impossible burden on this province, with its concentration of arts and cultural enterprises that now serve not only the citizens of Ontario but also all of Canada.

Ontario would, de facto, have to carry the largest share of the responsibility the federal government would be abandoning. Even more, such changes would be disastrous to the less populated provinces, which have less in the way of cultural resources of their own and now benefit from the resources of other parts of the country.

We believe Ontario can and must take a leading role in ensuring the future of the arts in this country. Because of its size and significance in most areas of our national life, Ontario is in a unique position to ensure that the climate for arts and cultural enterprise in Canada remains welcoming and nurturing. Ontario can provide leadership to the other provinces in taking steps to prevent the federal government from making a catastrophic mistake that would affect all Canadians and indeed the future of the country.


Although the preservation of a strong national cultural tradition is obviously of direct concern to our member organizations and their individual members, we are not speaking out of narrow self-interest. We trust you agree that the groups and the creative activities we represent are absolutely central to the national life of Canada.

We hope you will do everything you can to make sure there is a coherent and consistent cultural policy in Canada, one that involves all levels of government. We ask you to use your not inconsiderable influence of the Legislature of Ontario to rally the commitment of the other provinces and prevent the federal government from doing irreparable damage to the cultural fabric of this country.

We thank you for your attention and would be pleased to answer your questions.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much for the quite in-depth presentation to our committee.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I am really quite pleased that several arts groups have come before us in the course of the last year. That has been very helpful.

I wonder how much of what you have to say you have shared with other provinces. That is what I would like to ask first of all. As you know, we have had the opportunity to visit all the other provinces. Now we have completed the whole circuit, including Quebec. Particularly what you are saying about training, for instance, is certainly not universally accepted. I am just wondering what kind of national organization you are working with, because it is true we can take a leadership role. I think we were received because we went to the other provinces; we did not ask them to come to us. That was a gesture many of them did not expect us to make.

But still they are cautious and still they see us as big and central, and that is somewhat to our disadvantage. I know how significant -- and I will even say Toronto -- certainly Ontario is in the arts community of this country, but many of the other provinces have very distinct cultural and arts contributions and organizations and associations or whatever you want to call these groups.

I would like to have you put into context the things you are saying about your national lobbying experiences -- communications. Would you please try to do that?

Mr Conway: We have sent all the work we have done to date out to our provincial counterparts in every province in the arts groups. The Canadian Conference on the Arts has been working on these questions as well and we know they have sent their information out. As well, we have requested the provincial governments to let us know what their position is on culture. We have not had that many responses to date and the responses we have are very general, too general to answer your question.

However, one thing I would like to say, particularly when you ask the question about the labour training market: It is quite conceivable that indeed there are areas in labour training that perhaps should be under provincial jurisdiction, but in culture our feeling from the experience we have is that it would be far better placed under the federal government, under federal programs.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I guess you were somewhat heartened by the response to the Arpin report by the artists in Quebec. No doubt you are in communication with them. I think that was quite surprising to several people in the province.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much, Mrs O'Neill. Mr Winninger?

Mr Winninger: Actually, Mrs O'Neill covered essentially the same ground I was going to ask them about.

The Vice-Chair: This is very scary. The two of you are thinking very much alike.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: The second time today.

Mr Curling: I want to put culture in the proper perspective, especially in a country like Canada that is so diverse and, if you want to say, so new in the sense of the immigrants who are coming here. Many feel and hold very strong views about their culture when they arrive in this country and feel that the dilution of their culture is very rapid because as they see certain governments fund certain groups and recognition of certain cultures -- I hasten to put in place heritage languages. For instance, the resistance that we are given to the groups as they come forward to talk about that language is more than just the spoken word. It is a matter of living. It is a matter of expression.

You talk about the fact that it should be a federal jurisdiction in culture, and I can understand where you are coming from. It seems to me, if you want to call it that, the fight or the struggle or the preservation of things is right at the grass roots itself, because people seem to lose that grip if it goes federal. Those people up in Ottawa -- at times you do not know where Ottawa is. It is a city of complete bureaucrats.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Be careful. I represent one of the ridings of Ottawa.

Mr Curling: Those who see the light come into provincial politics. Therefore, we do have wonderful people there.

I know you did not make it as being rather trivial or to reduce the role of the province and of a government. I see that role as being extremely important. I am talking about other levels of government playing a very strong role. I am expressing this from people who have come forward, and I will not be long, Mr Chairman. Even in the provincial government you will find we decide to divide up to two ministries of culture. I am sorry; one they call Citizenship, of course, and one they call Culture. There is some sort of confusion in where the funding goes.

Do you feel there is much more work to be done on the provincial level in order that the fight on the national level can be put forth? It has been a long, dragged out narration I have given, but could you comment?

Ms Allman: As Mrs O'Neill might have remarked, we represent associations that are at all three levels in a sense, national associations, provincial and regional associations as well as very local associations. I guess where we are coming from is that we have to say the federal government should take a pre-eminent role, because we believe what we do ties the country together and without what all our members do and the individual members -- the artists themselves, the writers, the painters, but also the journalists -- we would not be able to express ourselves as a nation in its diversity.

What we are seeking to do and what we are asking Ontario to take the lead in doing is in fact keeping the field open to all levels of government, and that includes local, regional, provincial and federal. We are not denigrating at all the provincial role. Many of our members very much rely on the provinces. Certainly with such a huge country there have to be regional linkups, because there are distinct regions within provinces and regions within regions. But what we would like to see is that culture does not become the exclusive jurisdiction of any one government, because it is a bit like papier mâché. We believe that when you take layers of things and lay them on each other, as kids do when they make those masks, when they harden they are rock hard. But if you are reducing a level, we do not believe you can have the strength that we have today.

Ms Carter: This is really not so much a question as a comment, because I pretty well agree with everything you said. All I want to do is to underline it. I think it is something this country needs other than just plain staying together. It is an intensified national culture, which I think would help solve some of our other problems, such as disoriented youth, unsureness about our identity, this kind of thing, because we tend to get swamped by the United States. I think what you people have to contribute is, as you said, a vital part of getting a unified identity and picture of this country. Also, of course, it is a real contribution to employment and the economy, which I think is something that is often forgotten or underestimated. I also think you are right, that to have a fairly complex funding picture does preserve your freedom to express yourselves and do the things that you want to do.

Ms Harrington: I wanted to let you know that a lot of our government members were called to have a chat with our new Minister of Culture and Communications fairly recently and we actually struggled with a lot of the things you have presented us with here. First of all, what really is culture? How does it impact on our lives? What does it mean to us? We also dealt with the matter of the federal abdication of its national role, and we are very concerned about that.

Do you have any reaction to any of the issues put forward in the federal paper, such as the "distinct society" clause, native issues, Senate reform, the property issues clause or the social charter concern? That is a big question.


Mr Conway: It is an enormous question. Some of these questions we are very much struggling with. There are not only a lot questions but they are very significant questions.

On Senate reform itself, there are some provisions that relate to culture. They do attempt to address some of the issues we have. Whether this is the right place to put them or not, we are still not sure. We are in fact meeting in the very near future to discuss this further and would like to get back to you when we come to a greater understanding of what would be implied if some of these things were put under the Senate. What I am referring to are the double majority vote on culture and the ratification of the heads of cultural institutions -- those two specifically.

The "distinct society" clause: I think one of the difficulties we have at this point is that we are dealing with the Constitution and in essence with technicalities and mechanisms, but what we still have not done is really face the problems we have to deal with.

For example, if the amendments went through as they stand, the first thing that would happen is that we would start opening the debate on the "distinct society" clause -- which we have not addressed yet -- through the courts. That is not the place to address the questions we have, questions that really relate to who we are as a culture and how we relate within our culture.

The same with the bilateral agreements: they provide a mechanism but do not answer the question. There is nothing in the Constitution now to stop a mechanism like that from happening. The proposal is to entrench this into the Constitution, but in fact we can already do it. It is already done in a variety of forms, in terms of provincial and federal relationships.

These are the problems we are trying to really get a handle on. When there are things we can already do, do they in fact need to go into the Constitution? And what degree of detail do we need to have in the Constitution? These questions are difficult to answer because the fundamental issue around culture still has not been answered. Whether we use it through new mechanisms in the Constitution or deal with it without changes to the Constitution, it is still the same problem.

Ms Harrington: If you have further comment on the other broader issues, we would certainly welcome it.

The Vice-Chair: As you probably are aware, the committee has travelled to other parts of the country and met with counterparts from other provinces. It is interesting to note that your counterparts in Quebec have exactly the same feelings on the point you raise in your presentation with regard to the devolution of powers from the federal government on questions of arts and culture.

I thank you very much for a very interesting presentation, actually quite a bit of work. I would be interested to find out how you put this together, because it is quite interesting.

Mr Conway: If I can make one request. As I said, there are some significant questions we still have to answer. I am wondering if it would actually be appropriate and possible that we have a much more informal discussion about these questions.

The Vice-Chair: That would be up to committee members individually. I would just point out that if you have any other information to present to us in writing, we would ask you to do that by December 16. As you are aware, we have to start working on our final report. But you are free to talk to members now, as we will be recessing at this point for presentations later on this evening. I would like to thank you for presenting to our committee.

Our committee will recess until 7 o'clock this evening. We will be hearing from other people speaking on the issue of our Constitution.

The committee recessed at 1735.


The committee resumed at 1906.


The Vice-Chair: The committee will come back to order. We are now at the second part of our day's hearings and in the process of hearing from the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation, which is here to present to us. I would ask the members who are presenting to introduce themselves to people here so we know who is who.

Ms Barkley: Thank you, Vice-Chair. My name is Liz Barkley. I am the president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation. I have two of our staff members with me: Larry French, who is our legislative researcher, and Roger LeBlanc, who is in charge of our francophone cluster and teachers and members. Neil Walker, who is part of our communication cluster, is and will be taking pictures. He also is able to answer questions you may have.

As I approach the whole situation vis-à-vis Ontario in Confederation, I would just like to say at the outset, before we really address the presentation we are going to make, that you might want to know that, like many people within our communities, teachers have just begun to realize the real importance of the question and to address it in a really serious manner. The 45,000 members of OSSTF, representing not just teachers but educational workers, that is, psychologists, psychometrists, custodians, etc, have taken a very strong position that we would like to be part of the solution of maintaining a united Canada and to help begin to motivate that -- and I say "begin" because we have not really been part of the discussion -- and to do what we can to make sure that comes about. We recognize that will take a lot of compromise and a lot of give and take.

We are members of the Ontario Teachers' Federation which represents about 124,000 teachers. It has taken the same absolutely unanimous position, and that is to help to be part of bringing about the unity of Canada. Two weeks ago I went to the Canadian Teachers' Federation which represents over 225,000 teachers across Canada and the territories who took a similar position. We will be meeting in two weeks to discuss a national action plan to try to see what we can do in order to bring this about. Recognizing this is not the same as the eve of Confederation, things will have to change. There will have to be compromises on all sides. What we end up with will not be what we start with. None of us will be hysterically happy with everything that occurs, but the end result is something we all believe is absolutely crucial and that is a Canada, and a Canada that we have grown to be very attached to, now probably more than we ever thought in our lifetimes.

I will give you just one other little anecdote. In our local areas, Scarborough, for example, one of the larger units we have has now taken a position, the board and the teachers alike, to have a twinning project with the schools in Quebec to try to exchange information, to try to exchange dialogue, to try to exchange points of view, to try to help deal with the problem that we have right now within a changing Canada and to maintain Canada.

I will turn to the introduction of our brief. I know you do not want to be read to totally, but some of this I will try to read and some of it I think should be read. My three companions are extremely knowledgeable about the situation. I will try to have them bang me on the arm on both sides at 10 minutes so I do not take up all the time and so you can ask pertinent questions. I am not good at this, so they will do that.

On the introduction, I think it is important that I go to the second sentence. One of the things our membership wanted us to bring forward to you is that this debate is occurring in the context of course, and you know it, of the worst recession we have faced since the Second World War. You know what our unemployment rate is. I think it is now beyond 9.6%. In Ontario over a million people are unemployed and of course the real horror of all this is that we have over 300,000 children living below the poverty line. It distresses me when I see on TV, as you did, them saying: "It's not the same as the Third World. Are they really without food? There are no distended stomachs." Of course they are and of course it is sad and of course it is something we have to do something about.

We blame much of this on the federal government. It should be dealing with this economic crisis, and it is not. It is concerned, in my opinion, with the multinational companies. Federal initiatives and policies in fact have deepened the whole crisis. Due to the free trade agreement we have lost an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 jobs. The GST, high interest rates and the high Canadian dollar are all policies in grave need of remedy. The cuts in federal transfer payments which we are suffering from as a province and which will continue to escalate unless we do something about that have downloaded the national debt problems to the provinces and then again, as you know, to the municipalities.

Economic renewal must proceed every bit as quickly and as urgently as constitutional renewal. The two questions should go hand in hand, and if we can combine them, we should. I used to live and teach in Montreal. It has the highest unemployment rate in the whole of Canada, worse than Saint John's. You probably are all aware of that, but I think it is something we should deal with much more concretely, that is, a united Canada. Economically what does that mean? People in Quebec and people in Canada need to know that, need to have that pragmatic reality drawn to their attention. It has not been enough. We have not done it within the context of this particular brief. We have every intention of doing so in the future.

We are dealing with a government document. That is why the numbering is as you see it. We support clause 1 on citizenship and diversity, except for the amendment that would guarantee property rights. I will not elongate this except to say OTF does not support the property rights part of clause 1, nor does CTF which is representing the whole of the teachers except for Centrale de l'enseignement du Québec, whom we have an ongoing discussion with. I would like this read into the record:

"How absolute is this right? A property owner, individual or corporate, protected constitutionally, may under the new clause have the right to damage or destroy his property, to ignore environmental concerns, to resist expropriation, to refuse orders for sharing after marital breakdown, to conduct activities not in the public interest, to rent or sell to clients whose activities are not in the public interest, to resist the payment of property or death taxes, etc." We are totally opposed to this clause.

It should be stated, because it has become such a point of this discussion, that we do not have difficulty with the "distinct society" clause in clause 2. I will not deal with the reasons why we do not. You can read them there, but we do not. We think it is a red herring. We think it diverts us from much more important questions within the whole context.

We support clauses 3 to 6 in the government document. On clause 7 we have difficulty, as I think many people within the urban environment of the Golden Horseshoe and probably elsewhere have. It seems very vague to us. It is a statement of recognition of the responsibility of governments to promote our multicultural communities and it is not strong enough or clear enough.

The Canada clause should be amended by the insertion of a reference to a social charter such as that proposed by the NDP in Ontario. One of the strongest unifying links that binds this country together is the national programs we share in health, in education and social assistance. We underscore this. We are committed to this. The recent caps on transfer payments in these areas threaten the quality of these programs and risk producing different standards, depending on the wealth of the respective provinces.

OSSTF proposes the following wording for the inclusion in the Canada clause: "a federation that guarantees a common standard of quality and of access to social programs in education, health and social assistance in all provinces and territories." Without that, what really makes Canada a nation would be destroyed.

We support clauses 8 and 9 through 11. We are not hung up on Senate reform. We are flexible on that to see what develops. It will not stop our support for a unified Canada, again a diversion in our opinion.

Clause 13 has been a major problem. We know that. We think the best solution is to keep the formula before Meech Lake, that is, seven provinces with over 50% of the population is preferable, as we say here. We know this creates difficulties. We think the seven provinces and over 50% is probably the easiest formula to be able to be accepted. We know of course in many cases this is going to be a compromise, but within the context we are in, compromise is going to have to be what we are about.

We also support clause 14 and, as you can see, OSSTF is not into writing clauses; that is not our purpose. We are trying to give the sort of global context of where we think we should be going.

In clause 15, despite the opting-out provisions, these clauses would give the federal government new powers to control the economy. In light of the damage federal policies have done to the Canadian economy in recent years, including the creation of a made-in-Canada recession within Ontario, OSSTF opposes strongly any strengthening of federal powers in this crucial area. The federal government should rather seek the co-operation of the provinces in establishing economic policy through a process of negotiations and consensus seeking. We do not value in one section of the proposals the creation of a more open and visible budget-making process. We have suffered under it. We do not agree with it.

Going over to clause 17, again, we oppose the proposed amendment that would restrict the mandate of the Bank of Canada to fight inflation. While inflation control is clearly the present practice under Mulroney-Crow, the bank has applied a scorched earth policy to the economy in the name of saving it. The present Bank of Canada Act contains the phrase " and generally to promote the economic and financial welfare of Canada." This goal directing the bank's activity should be retained, however.

We go to clause 18 and, of course, because we are educators we are also members of the community so we try to deal in the broader context, but we have to deal with training. We think it is very important. In 18 the federal government is ready to opt out of these two areas. A more enlightened federal government would have a constructive role to play in overseeing and financing these programs. The OSSTF feels strongly that the federal government, if only because of the mobility of the Canadian population, must retain the vital role of co-ordination of both training and immigration. Recognizing the problem that brings specifically to Quebec, we would be prepared to look at the problems that creates and modify it.

In any provincial training program, the preparation of teachers must have a priority. Within this context, ways and means of anticipating the needs of potential dropouts and of reintegrating and holding them should be a major part of teacher training and returning programs. In addition, the federal government should obtain a commitment from the provinces that they will accept the right of francophone populations to their own educational and training institutions. We feel strongly about that.

In greeting immigrants and helping them to adjust to Canadian life, we must ensure that they are exposed to the vision of a country where our many cultures find their unity on the bedrock of bilingualism, the foundation initially of Canada.

On page 8, under clause 20: In any negotiations concerning the transfer of responsibility for culture, a major question in free trade talks as well, as you know, the federal government must ensure that the rights of francophones outside Quebec are guaranteed as well as inside Quebec. To maintain positive and productive communications between anglophones and francophones throughout Canada, the federal government should continue to promote English and French language immersion and exchange programs. Of course that might be idealistic, but we feel quite strongly about that.


Broadcasting, clause 21, is a problem that could be very real in the free trade talks as well as in this particular discussion. Of course free trade is banging in to us as this question is banging into us. The amendments would offer greater powers to the provinces to regulate broadcasting. Unless the federal government retains the responsibility for national broadcasting through a vital and adequately financed public system, OSSTF cannot support the proposals. Only the federal government will have the will, as well as the ways and means, through resources such as Newsworld, to ensure that French-language broadcasting will be available to francophone populations outside Quebec.

At the same time the federal government can offer concrete encouragement to smaller regional newspapers, such as L'Express in Toronto and Le Voyageur in Sudbury.

I would maintain there is a whole problem in the whole arena of broadcasting that the federal government seems prepared to give away and not deal with.

The OSSTF basically supports the thrust of clauses 22 to 26. We oppose clause 27. We absolutely oppose it, as it may prevent the creation of any new national social programs in the future, such as a day care program. You may say that is not viable at this point in time because of the recession. It should become viable. It was in the Progressive Conservative platform in the last election. We will get out of this recession at some time and we do not want to block these kinds of national programs in the future.

Clause 28 was one we looked at and were not quite sure of. We still are not absolutely sure of it, but it is something certainly we would look at. The Council of the Federation seems, and we have "seems" there, like a vehicle for a broadly based countervail to the federal government. However, the federal government would have a veto power over any council decision, rendering its potential effectiveness extremely problematic.

Unless the federal veto is removed, OSSTF opposes the clause. You have to read that six times to figure out what we are saying. I understand that point, but it is because we are somewhat confused. It is not absolutely clear to us how this would function, but in fact we would be open at least to the possibility, depending on how it proceeded.

I had hoped to read our recommendations into the record, but I do not want to take the time. I would rather have the questions.

In conclusion, we must echo the sentiments expressed by Harvey Weiner, deputy general secretary of the Canadian Teachers' Federation, which represents teachers across Canada. There is no escaping our obligation as a nation to reshape, even to recreate, a document that does not adequately recognize the rightful place of Quebec and of the first nations in our national life or our understandings of the needs of our multicultural communities.

In an address to the CTF, Mr. Weiner said:

"Should we not respond as well to the needs of western Canada" -- we must -- "and increase their influence and voice through more equitable federal political institutions?" We have to look at that as well.

"The Canadian Confederation was built on compromise. If we continue to spend time attacking and destroying the spokes of the wheel, different spokes for different folks, the wheel will inevitably collapse.

"Do we have the courage, wisdom and the common sense to do what needs to be done to survive as a nation? The irony is that failure to accommodate one another will ultimately destroy what some individuals and interest groups seek to protect. The euphoria of those whose objective is to divide us, or of those who think such division would be of benefit or of little consequence, will be short lived. Failure will produce no winners, only losers.

"The best constitutional package would be one that reflects our traditional generosity of spirit as a nation.... Paradoxically, each Canadian should be prepared to lose a little if collectively we are to win a victory that will ensure for ourselves and our children a brighter future."

We say amen to this. We say that the teachers of Canada in the main are very committed to a united Canada and we hope to be part of that solution. Thank you. My colleagues here may like to make a comment.

M. LeBlanc : Je voudrais tout simplement indiquer que dans le cas de la Fédération des enseignantes/enseignants des écoles secondaires de l'Ontario, qui vient de l'OSSTF, une chose qui nous tracasse beaucoup, c'est qu'on veut absolument que le Québec soit à l'intérieur d'un Canada uni, mais en même temps on ne veut pas voir disparaître les droits des francophones à l'extérieur du Québec. Pour nous c'est très important. On pense que les francophones en Ontario et à l'extérieur du Québec ont travaillé de très près avec les anglophones pour bâtir cette section-là du Canada et on veut voir ceci rester à l'intérieur d'un Canada uni.

The Vice-Chair: You have certainly sparked a lot of interest on the committee. I have a speakers' list that more than likely I will not be able to accommodate.

It is quite an extensive presentation you gave to us. It is the first time I have seen somebody attack it quite in this way, specifically laying it all out, basically where you stand on all the various positions and what your recommendations are. For that, I congratulate you.

To begin our speakers' list, we will start with Mr Malkowski, followed by Mrs O'Neill.

Mr Malkowski: I was quite impressed with your presentation tonight. There are two things I would like to ask you to respond to. First of all, you did not say much about the "notwithstanding" clause in section 33. What is your position on that? Would you like to see that retained, or an increase of the 60% in the funding?

I understand as well that the special education deals with disabled children, in schools for example, and that is under your comments. I would like to hear what your feedback is on the rights of disabled people in Canada and where that should be, and also your views on multiculturalism and native people. I would like you to say a little more about that if you could.

The Vice-Chair: Just before we start this, I will allow each member one question because we have a lot of speakers and we will try to get them.

Mr French: On the "notwithstanding" clause, we realize that this was a very costly addition to the previous Constitution and that it was really the price of getting the west to go along with the constitutional reform. I think there would be a reluctant acceptance of the "notwithstanding" clause on our part.

M. LeBlanc : Nous avons toujours cru que toutes les cultures devraient exister à l'intérieur d'un seul Canada, pour essayer de les développer, mais que le multiculturalisme devrait être à l'intérieur d'un Canada bilingue. Donner l'occasion, lorsque les immigrants arrivent -- les exposer au concept d'un Canada bilingue, c'est ça qui est en effet notre position.

The Vice-Chair: Did you want to add something to that, Ms. Barkley?

Ms Barkley: I think the third part of that was on the question of the disabled. We are hoping that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms will be protective. If not, we will deal with that within the context of the Constitution. We believe that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms should be the protector there.

The Vice-Chair: Very good. Mrs O'Neill.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I want to go to recommendation 5, concerning adding to the Canada clause the subclause "a federation that guarantees a common standard of quality" -- I will leave out the words "and of access" because I think I understand that better -- "to social programs in education" -- and I will stop there. Would you be able to tell me a little bit more about how you feel that could be accomplished?

Ms Barkley: I think one of the problems we have is we thought that was always the case. In other words, we believe that the social contract laid out within the context of Confederation was sorted out recently by the Supreme Court, guaranteeing that there were going to be transfer payments to the provinces. Within the context of the inequality across all the provinces, those transfer payments would make very sure that the haves and the have-nots had equal access to moneys.

As far as we are concerned, the breaking of the social contract by the federal government has created a disparity. For example, one of the ways it has done that is in post-secondary education, probably much more acutely in the eastern provinces than here, in that there are not now enough moneys that can guarantee that people who are poor, students who are poor, will be able to afford access to post-secondary education. It will happen in Ontario too.

But again, even within the context of the secondary schools which we represent -- I hate to say it; I will not mention the place; there are no press people here, are there? -- there are some places now that, for example, have bingo games five days a week which the teachers put on in order to buy such things as places in home economy rooms and Bunsen burners and cheerleader uniforms etc, and there are now some places where people have to pay to go on field trips.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I think I understand the access part. I ask you about the quality, and maybe there is not as much of a distinction as I think there is.


Ms Barkley: The quality of education?

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Yes.

Ms Barkley: We are talking about accountability now. Is that what you are getting at?

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I do not know what you mean. That is why I am trying to come to grips with recommendation 5 and that is why I skipped over access, because I think I understand the access. But it guarantees a common standard of quality in education, and maybe that is more closely tied to transfer payments in your presentation. If that is the case then my question has been answered.

Ms Barkley: No, Mrs O'Neill, I do not think I did -- I will let Larry try this one.

Mr French: We were trying to get at the financial ability of provinces to offer reasonable programs of a comparable quality. The equalization payments help equalize the burden, and the transfer payments, in particular the established financing programs, help again, so that each province, no matter what its wealth, has reasonably equal access to programs for a reasonably equal tax effort. The quality and nature of the programs depend on the province. But they have the financial ability to finance it, and that is what we were getting it.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Okay, thank you very much.

Mr Eves: I want to touch on your recommendations 5 and 6 as well. This term "social charter" seems to be thrown around quite a bit. If you ask 100 different people, we have found it seems to mean 100 different things. Is it your viewpoint that your recommendation would create judiciable rights? In other words, rights that could be taken to the court and enforced, such as are in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

The Vice-Chair: I am going to allow one question. If we have got time, we can come back.

Mr Eves: Okay, my follow-up question on that is, if that is what you envision as a social charter, would your viewpoint likely be changed if indeed the Council of the Federation was a true equal partner in federation without a federal veto? In other words, everybody has one vote or however many there are, including the federal government.

Mr French: Actually, we were thinking of something that would be in the nature of judiciable rights. The province of British Columbia tried to sue the federal government over the unilateral repudiation of the transfer payment obligation, and failed. We felt there should be recourse of that nature from unilateral federal action. However, I quite agree with you that if the new institution, the Council of the Federation, was meaningful, it would serve the same purpose.

Ms Barkley: There is some confusion, I think, among all of us speaking here. I think people generally are getting the terms social contract and social charter mixed up, what is one, what is the other. I just mention that because I think I just did.

Mrs Mathyssen: Recommendation 14 was of real interest to me, and I will tell you why. I was at a meeting last week, and we listened to a native leader who was talking about the need to develop sensitivity around teacher training and make it fit the needs of a new Canada in terms of understanding native children.

It made me think back to my days at Althouse and my teacher training. We did something that we called professional practice, and for the life of me I do not know what that hour every week was all about. Have you given some specific thought to the kind of teacher training, what it would encompass and how it would be delivered? I was hoping that this concern around these native students was being addressed in that.

Ms Barkley: You have just hit upon one of my absolute biggest angsts within education. I was on the Teacher Education Council, Ontario for a whole year, and I do not think I have ever gone through such a difficult committee to be able to come to any conclusions. This is the teacher training for Ontario. It is one of the most conservative areas of the whole of the educational system I have ever seen. You have the universities, you have the faculties, you have some parts of the affiliates, the teachers' organization -- and you have the trustees' council, and to change that group is nigh to impossible. I have been teaching for a long period of time now and I do not think it has changed very radically since I was there.

I went to the faculty of education of University of Toronto last year as a federation representative. We had about 1,200 students. The average age of the students was 30 years of age, which is not as it was when we were there. Also, when I looked out I would say that maybe if there were 10 people who were not white Caucasians, I missed them. When we dealt with aboriginals, I tell you, there was not one.

When we deal with the content of the natives, of the first nations, of the aboriginals, even now within our history books it is still "Wa-wa-wa-wa-wa" and "Ugh." I am serious. It still has not changed as radically as it should. One of the areas of education, if you want to talk about something that should be shaken up, is that it is not the people there, it is not the teachers there, but the teacher training contexts and the universities, in my opinion, that are most at fault. They fund the situations, they somewhat control the programs and they want to retain high academia. You know you have to be able to have an 85% average when you finish and you have to have a whole lot of experience within the community. A poor person or an aboriginal person is going to have to have done paperwork. He or she cannot have gone to summer camp and got all that experience with young people, etc.

You can take that to every level of the educational system, within the history courses, within almost any context of our system. It may be improving slowly, but it is very slowly. That history is not being rewritten. Fundamentally, we do not have teacher training for aboriginals. They are certainly not being incorporated nearly enough within the faculties. There is some attempt to have more places for the disabled, visible minorities and aboriginals, but it is exceptionally slow. If we wait, possibly by the year 3000 we might move.

Mr LeBlanc: Regarding aboriginal rights, I have an experience of some years ago. I was director of education in Cornwall for some time. We worked a great deal with the Mohawks on the island to try to help in the delivery of education. Working with them was ideal and we were doing very well, but the most difficult time I have ever had was working with the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. I have never seen anything go so slow in all my life and I think something is going to have to be done. That is the major problem.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you. I am going to allow one more question and that is it. We are over our time. I will go to Mr Winninger. Unfortunately I have to make these arbitrary decisions.

Mr Winninger: I would like to commend you on your polished presentation. Of course, I would expect nothing less from such an estimable association as the OSSTF. Mr Chair, I do not want you to be fooled. This may sound like two questions.

The Vice-Chair: I knew there was a catch. We have been lenient.

Mr Winninger: Recommendation 3 deals with native self-government. What you have done essentially is accept the federal proposal. I just wondered if you had considered the opposite views of many native and non-native delegations which have suggested that an immediate inherent right to self-government should be entrenched: "Don't put it off for 10 years. Don't let the courts define it." In recommendation 17 you reject the proposal regarding the Bank of Canada, yet I wonder why the idea of more regional representation on the Bank of Canada, more regional input to the Bank of Canada would not be attractive to your association.

Ms Barkley: We certainly agree with you on recommendation 3. You are right. I will just say categorically that no, we do not think they should wait 10 years. None of these things -- well, some of them are committed to stone, but certainly on the 10 years I agree with you totally. We would certainly listen to the input of the aboriginals and, no doubt, change our position if we heard or perceived what they wanted. That is not at all something that is written in stone.

On the Bank of Canada, I will leave Larry to deal with that one, because I am not as familiar with that.

Mr French: We felt that the changes in the mandate of the Bank of Canada were the problem. The present mandate allows the Bank of Canada to stimulate economic growth and full employment and work for reasonable price stability. We feel this is a good and productive mandate. The price of the mandate was too high and we opposed it. No matter what representation it would have, it would not be helpful if it was restricted to inflation fighting.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much for holding almost to your word, Mr Winninger.

Thank you for making your presentation. Again, I underscore that your brief will be most helpful in the sense that it brings forth some fairly interesting points, and was very well put together. For that, thank you.



The Vice-Chair: Pearl Dobson represents the Provincial Council of Women of Ontario.

Ms Dobson: Good evening. We certainly appreciate the opportunity of being here and we wish you a lot of luck with this task. It seems to be getting more difficult almost as the days pass. I do not know how you will bring things together, because we have certainly had our difficulties.

The Provincial Council of Women is a multifaceted organization. We are not going to deal with one subject here. We are not a single-issue group. We are made up of organizations. It is an organization of organizations. From that and the introduction, you will see that we may be coming from different contexts and not zeroing in on one particular subject, as other organizations are able to do. We are supposed to set the climate for the organizations to operate in.

My presentation is set up in three different sections. One is to tell you where we are coming from and where we hope to go, in more of a generalization. The second part will deal with comments and some specifics about national unity and the Constitution, more or less general statements, but zeroing in very much on giving you a direction of where the council of women intends to head in the future in dealing with national and provincial government issues. The third part will be more specifically geared to answering questions in Shaping Canada's Future Together, the federal proposals. I think we will have already told you how we hope to relate the federal and provincial. We are also structured at all levels and sometimes it is difficult. You have the problem too of dealing with other levels of government and you know how we must find it, to fit something that everybody is happy with.

I am first going to start out with a statement of faith, which was more or less what we started out with in the beginning and which we have never found our membership has wanted to change. It is what we try to base the philosophy of our action on.

"Sincerely believing that the best good of our homes and nations will be advanced by our own greater unity of thought, sympathy and purpose, and that an organized movement of women will best conserve the highest good of the family and the state, do hereby band ourselves together to further the application of the Golden Rule to society, custom and law."

The National Council of Women of Canada is one of Canada's oldest advocacy organizations, celebrating its centennial at the national level in 1993. It represents a broad, diversified and democratic voice in Canadian society. The International Council of Women started in 1888, has its head office in Paris and has two official languages, English and French.

The Provincial Council of Women of Ontario's contribution to the Canada that we know and enjoy living in is well documented. Former Ontario Premier John Robarts said, "The council of women is part of the history of our province." He cited the help given to immigrants in the early days, the vital part played in securing the vote for women in 1917, the concern for maternal and infant welfare, especially during the Depression, the contribution to the war efforts of our country, and the continuing awareness of changing conditions in our fast-moving industrialized society. That was in our history of the Provincial Council of Women, Flame of Compassion, printed and published in 1967.

Our current national president is Joan De New of Woodstock, Ontario. On learning of the mandate of the Spicer commission, she said, "The council of women has been filling a role like that for the past 98 years and is a natural agent for following up on the committee's work." It left us with a little responsibility. Our concern for a unified, dynamic Canada, the environment, national parks, the CBC, the railways, the national library, museum and film board has been and remains constant and persistent. "Buy Canadian" was one of our popular slogans to deter our members from cross-border shopping. We used to have it advertised on the back of every yearbook.

Today is not the first time we have expressed concern about Canada, its future and its Constitution. We urged the immediate patriation of the Constitution with the amending formula in February 1981. We supported the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, particularly as it applies to women. We responded to the task force on Canadian unity; the Meech Lake accord; the joint parliamentary committee on Senate reform; A New Direction for Canada -- Economic Renewal; Canada's Future -- Challenges and Choices; the special joint parliamentary committee on the Canadian Constitution, both in 1971-72 and 1979-80; The Way Ahead -- A Framework for Discussion in 1977-78, and previously to this select committee.

The National Council of Women has an ad hoc committee on national unity at the present time studying prospects for a new or altered Constitution with an open approach, recognizing the need for compromise but, more important, emphasizing the benefits of a Canadian nation and our pride in what has been built up over 124 years.

Perhaps the geographic location of Ontario in Canada gives us a special opportunity to play a pivotal role in the shaping of Canada's future. One certainty has evolved: We want to bring an end to the growing threats of dismemberment of this country. Despite the fact that we have been talking about the possibility of Quebec leaving for about 25 years, once again, as with Meech Lake, we find a tight time frame placed on the parliamentary committee and have to ask why. We also know that while hearings are going on across Canada, some of the proposals we are responding to are being changed.

We suggest the hope that any referenda in Quebec, to be decisively more useful, will be based on Quebec remaining in Canada rather than a further dilution of decision by being based on sovereignty-association.

We also ask why there is not greater access to information in Ontario about what is going on in Quebec about the progress of this debate and reactions to the proposals. Information is not a bad thing. Perhaps there were many Canadians who were not previously sufficiently aware of the many ways in which Quebec and its status differ from the other provinces. If they had known, it might be easier for them to accept the "distinct" category now, but to deliberate on these "might have beens" would only waste more time, because sometimes I think that in the west they probably did not know that Quebeckers had a separate pension plan, a civil code and all of these things that were quite different and probably felt more like Quebeckers than Canadians over all the years.

I think everyone is agreed that the economy needs and deserves some attention. We need to become more competitive and we need to develop secondary industry. There are trade and employment barriers that can be improved. Certainly we need a unified country pulling together to take care of our debt load and preserve our international reputation.


We support a stable system of post-secondary education across Canada. We should encourage more women to study math and science and have more job training geared to market needs.

More harmony between labour, industry and government will be required to improve our export quotas and meet the competition from the increasing globalization of trade. The entrepreneurial spirit will ignite with incentives, a market and minimal obstruction.

Inclusion of a social charter or Canada clause being entrenched in the Constitution is being studied. It is more likely that the council of women would approve of its insertion in a preamble and not being entrenched in the Constitution.

Canadians care about their environment and PCWO accepts the challenge to continue to seek member support in working towards sustainable development.

For some general statements on policy, because we only speak from a point of view that has been developed through resolution -- we were in Toronto, that is why I am a lone soul tonight, because we have just completed our semiannual meeting in Toronto with the Premier and some of the cabinet ministers.

PCWO strongly supports the need for action to ensure that Canada will continue to exist as a strong economic and political unity. Our members, although strongly attached to the province of Ontario, are first of all Canadians and would urge the government of Ontario, as our representatives, to place high priority on the needs of Canada as a whole.

PCWO is disturbed that the process of constitutional change is taking up so much of the country's resources in terms of time and money. The council would recommend that the government of Ontario co-operate fully with the federal government to adjust the Constitution to solve some of the urgent problems facing Canada, such as the distinct society for Quebec, self-government for Canada's aboriginals, and better representation for the smaller provinces and regions through a reform of the Senate. Other suggestions for change in the committee proposals should be subjected to negotiations for the time being with possible constitutional changes later on.

In a rapidly changing society, it seems better to have a Constitution subject to broad interpretation rather than attempt to restrict future generations with strictly defined procedures. We are concerned about the use of any mechanism involving referenda or constitutional assemblies for decisions which require extensive legal, economic or scientific background knowledge.

The conference Towards 2000, a Changing Canada, recently held in Ottawa and planned by the University of Ottawa and some other academics, showed the inability of a cross-section of the Canadian population, even though it was selected as people concerned with and wanting to be involved in constitutional change, to either respond to the committee report or to provide any instructions or guidance for the government other than a list of idealisms. If the government of Ontario feels it must support plans for a constitutional assembly, it should make it clear that this is a mechanism for information extension and not for policy decision.

The provincial council supports the addition of a Canada preamble to the Constitution and the involvement of people in the selection of items to be included, but it does not consider this to be a priority item at this time in so far as it might involve diverting more resources, time and attention from the much-needed economic co-ordination required by governments, and of course the things we have already said were urgent.

Negotiations with Quebec: Although the provincial council does not like ultimata, we would agree that the need to negotiate with Quebec has become critical and there must be agreement on some deadlines. We reiterate the values which most Canadians share and expect these values would be shared by most people in Quebec as well as by most people in Ontario. These are general values. PCWO seems willing to recognize Quebec as a distinct society, one that as a smaller linguistic society in a basically English North America needs care, nurturing and help to preserve its culture.

Any agreements between Quebec and the federal government or other provincial governments should ensure the free movement of all Canadian citizens within all parts of Canada and ensure that they are given all provincial rights and privileges of the province wherein they may wish to live.

The provincial council reiterates its desire to keep Quebec as part of Canada. Members are studying the possibility of giving Quebec autonomy over those issues the Quebec government considers to be most important to Quebeckers -- that is, as it now has its own process for pensions, CAP, etc -- but possibly with an offsetting mechanism which would deny the MPs from Quebec the right to speak or vote on legislation which pertains only to the rest of Canada.

Agreements for special powers in consideration of distinctiveness must not, however, interfere with the powers of the federal government to maintain security and make international agreements, control things overlapping provincial boundaries and things which affect growth and prosperity. There should be a shift in the power base towards provincial, municipal or native centres. They should be able to administer their own social development programs. They are more tuned in to local needs and the programs can be more specifically directed. In other words, the federal government would maintain security and things having to do with anything international.

Quebec should also be encouraged to participate in new institutions which may be formed in order to develop basic national standards, such as education, health, welfare, etc, and to be encouraged to co-ordinate economic policies to the advantage of Canada as a whole. Ontario should negotiate with Quebec and other provinces to provide for a free flow of goods, services and capital. A greater harmonization of policies dealing with the public and private sector is needed.

The PCWO position re the French language is quite clear. Some members saw language as a crucial question and we developed a lot of workshops on this particular issue. Many supported official bilingualism federally while calling for tolerance and common sense in more local contexts, recognizing that parts of Canada, particularly the west, find it impractical. Some thought that learning a second language should be encouraged but not imposed. Having a second language enriches one's life and was described as a delight by one member. It was noted that immersion classes were effective in teaching the second language. We would add that more exchange visits should be promoted between Quebec and other parts of the country. In exchange for acceptance of two official languages, Quebec should be asked to ensure more rights for its own non-French-speaking population.

Negotiation with native people: We would support an entrenchment in the Constitution of a clause which recognizes the inherent right of aboriginal peoples to self-government. However, the method proposed in the committee report would be far from satisfactory. The process of providing native self-government should be accomplished in a much shorter time frame than the 10-plus years suggested in the committee report.

The provincial council is in unanimous agreement that we need to deal more fairly with aboriginal peoples, that they need more control over their own affairs, that land claims should be settled quickly and that there should be an end to the destruction of environments on which they are economically dependent. The granting of self-government would, we believe, increase their self-respect and self-reliance. The role of the Indian Affairs and Northern Development department should be reviewed, since the department is now thought to impose and perpetuate dependency in native people.

Senate reform: We recognize the concerns of smaller provinces, northern territories and native people, that they seem to be governed by the more developed central areas, whose MPs greatly outnumber theirs. PCWO would support changes in the composition of the Senate to give more weight to less populous areas.

Our members are concerned over the apparent dysfunction of the present Senate and would recommend review of its operations and procedures, including the appointment of senators. We would probably favour an elected Senate. We have no definite policy on that yet.

Our members are concerned with the cost of the present Senate operations and would recommend changes in methods of operation, resulting in a possible reduction in the number of senators. We would recommend that references to the present Senate be excluded from current constitutional debate so that early negotiations for a new entity can begin immediately and not hold up the changes required for Quebec and the native people, the ongoing discussions on the Constitution -- in other words, have a separate Senate deliberation on what changes are going to be needed for the Senate. We have also responded to the federal government on changes for the Senate so we have some background on possible changes.

This is more or less geared to shaping Canada's future, but certainly we have been asked to also take into account some of the federal proposals at this presentation.


Shared citizenship and diversity: Reaffirming rights and freedoms of citizens was the first subject. I will not read the subject topics, just our response. We do not consider this a critical issue. There is strong support for a preamble to be added to the Constitution outlining the general aspirations of Canadians. This is an issue that can be shared by the population at large and should be given time. We probably oppose any entrenchment of property rights, as this could create imbalances and legal decisions favouring the haves, mainly men, against the have-nots, mainly women.

Recognizing Quebec as a distinct society: PCWO agrees that this is critical. We would like to study the list of what the Quebec government considers to be more important -- to consider what would be feasible for the rest of Canada, and to have later input. We have not really seen the list of what goes beyond Quebec wanting a distinct society. There must be offsetting agreements to guarantee more rights for non-French in Quebec.

On aboriginal involvement in constitutional deliberations: We agree with that, of course, and we feel it should not have been a proposal; it is a given.

Aboriginal self-government: The time frame is too long and we have already said that.

Aboriginal involvement in the constitutional process: too weak and too slow. The problem is critical. It is going to happen.

Representation of aboriginal peoples in the Senate: This should be part of Senate reform and not a separate issue.

The Canada clause in the Constitution is important but not critical. We think the proposed list given in Shaping Canada's Future has some merit.

Responsive institutions for a modern Canada: House of Commons reform is needed, but it is not a constitutional issue. We say we go along with a lot here that we do not really have a policy on. We also think they need time.

Principles of Senate reform: We want to study, and details of all Senate reform is a big issue.

Ratification of appointments to regulatory boards needs time for further study.

Appointments to Supreme Court: We have no policy.

Amending formula: The current Constitution is probably as good as any, but we did approve of the Victoria formula when it was prominent. There have been so many things happening on this issue.

Preparing for a more prosperous future: Common markets: We feel they must be negotiated. We would probably favour more integration and that could also be negotiated. This issue should not be used to hold up critical issues. We would not favour giving autocratic powers to the federal government.

More federal power to manage the economic union in Canada: not timely and not part of current constitutional changes. It would probably be opposed by council, but we might get involved in urging more federal-provincial co-operation. This requires much negotiation.

Harmonization of economic policies: intention for guidelines is good.

Reforms to Bank of Canada: More study is needed and it is doubtful we would support drastic reforms to the Bank of Canada.

Training: Provinces could be given more control, but this should not be entrenched. There would be an overlap because of national and international companies.

Immigration: not constitutional, but negotiations are always in order.

Culture: could be better defined, not constitutional, though.

Regionalizing broadcasting: Consultations would be supported and we have a lot of background in our resolutions on broadcasting, CBC and CRTC, etc.

Residual power should not be changed at this time. It needs to be understood by the population, and also with federal declaratory power.

Recognizing areas of provincial jurisdiction: not critical; it requires negotiations. As a rule, provinces should be given control over these areas, but this should not be written in the Constitution because there will always be areas where there is overlap with other provinces and international affairs. It requires fine-tuning by negotiation. What is best for Canada as a whole must be the issue, not political expediency.

Legislative delegation: If it is not in the Constitution, there is no need for "notwithstanding" amendments.

Streamlining of programs and services: This is very important but should not be considered with constitutional changes.

Federal spending power in areas of provincial jurisdiction: not an issue any more. It should never have been permitted. Present agreements may have to be reconsidered, but at the moment this council could not say it wants to see the national health system changed.

A council of the federation might be the best way, but we feel overgoverned already and would not wish to see more institutions engraved in the Constitution.

We have a footnote here that is a generalization. Proposal of a social contract seems to have been left out. Certainly the Premier of Ontario has been supporting that and talking about it, and we did have an opportunity to speak to him about it. We do not have direct policy on it but we feel that at this time the courts are already loaded with cases. We would not want to see it entrenched in the Constitution at any rate, but probably, as we have already intimated, these nice things -- idealisms -- that you can afford if you have the money could be put in a preamble.

Also, in times of economic crisis there will have to be some changes that should be the responsibility of an elected body, not a judicial body which is appointed. Canadians do have a strong social conscience. This should suffice without entrenching future national social commitments into the Constitution, especially in so far as it would be difficult to foresee the most important future needs. We also have to balance Canadian social issues with those of the environment and the Third World.

I think I will end it there. If you have some question I will try to answer them. As I say, we speak from policy and this is rather difficult, as I do not have a barrage of competent people with me, but I will try.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much, Ms Dobson, for a very interesting presentation. I will first go to Mrs O'Neill.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Ms Dobson, thanks a lot. You commented in your brief about it being a tight time frame. You likely do not realize you are the last presenter in a series that has gone on with us for 10 months. We felt it was not as tight a time frame as maybe you were perceiving. Perhaps it was the federal committee you were referring to, because it does seem to be under a tighter time frame.

Ms Dobson: Yes. We were referring to the federal time frame, because I also referred to the changes taking place now. Evidently they are making changes. I understand there are three areas that have already been changed, from the questions that were in this, and we are still receiving more sections on this in Ottawa. I have received two just in the last week that look like this but are on other specific issues.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I like your comment about what is going on in Quebec and how much we do not know about that. You likely do know that we, as a committee, went there last week. We had what we consider a very good meeting. I guess I would like to ask you why you think it is that we do not know what is going on in Quebec. I have my own theories. You talked about this, as you did include it in the brief. I think you are the only person and only group that have brought this to our attention, that they would like to know more about what is going on in Quebec.

Ms Dobson: We have talked about it. As a matter of fact, it is really related to the other comment that perhaps if all of Canada had known more about how Quebec people felt over the years and if there had been a better exchange of information. In Ontario I think a lot of us feel a little bit closer to how Quebeckers feel. Certainly in Ottawa we do. But in the west, when I travel there, they feel more inclined to think Quebec is just another province like all the others, yet if you were born in Quebec as a French person you probably would feel differently; practically everything in your country is in English. I do not think the whole country got that information clearly enough. I do not say there is any direct suppression, but I think there is a tendency for us to look at this here by ourselves and something else over here by ourselves but not to mesh together.

In Ottawa if you get the Quebec newspapers you will read the glaring headlines of anything that goes wrong, just like in our press. I do not think we are getting the information about how the Quebec population feels about it. I do not think there is enough happening in that respect at all. We are not dialoguing enough, as we did not with the native people until now. Now there is a lot happening there. I think we have to have more exchanges in the future. We really have to get together and know other Canadians. We are beginning to know the native people for the first time. I grew up in Ontario and I always had a feeling about them, but I had never met them. Now they are coming out and we are meeting them. We are getting to know them. I think it will improve.


Mr Eves: I want to go to the last page of your presentation and the last two points you make. You talk about the Council of the Federation and you say you do not wish to see more institutions engraved in the Constitution. It seems to me perhaps such a body is a way of ensuring that Canadians do receive benefits they are supposed to receive, and especially ensuring that provinces are not unilaterally cut back by the federal government. That could be one body or mechanism that could be very useful in resolving shared-cost programs between the federal government and the provinces to make sure Canadians as a whole do not lose such programs as medicare, which we are used to and, after all, is part of our Canadian heritage and culture. I wonder what your thought might be on that.

Ms Dobson: We feel it may be the best way if there is not a better answer. We really feel, looking at medicare, it was ultimately a case of transfer payments and not necessarily an accepted thing. It has been accepted and certainly appreciated by most of us, but when it was introduced there were a lot of hard feelings. In this province there certainly were, because it was a case of, "Bring in the program or you won't get the transfer payments; you won't get the money." That is more of a blackmail type of situation than we would like to see. We would like to see the provinces have the opportunity to have their own programs. If it means taking over more control in the taxing powers, so be it.

We do not like to see programs imposed because of the withholding of funds. In that particular way we do not think it was a healthy thing. We do think, too, that even with respect to the medical services there will have to be some serious decisions. Certainly the Premier told us. We are seeing some being done already, and I think there will be more. Ultimately we would have to say we like to see a strong federal power but we do not like to see it exercised by the control of who gets what in the pie of money.

Mr Eves: Do you not think such a body would perhaps be a way of achieving the end you see?

Ms Dobson: We say it might be the best way because we think there would be a strong war if we ever decided they are not going to have some of these universal programs. Canadians seem to have universal expectations of these kinds of programs. Our organization tends to feel we should have an economy that supports a good standard of living and we do not feel we have to have a law or some framework imposed on us to see that we do these things. If we have jobs and we are earning an income, we should more or less decide this is a program that will stand more on its own and we are not going to go into a situation where there has to be a law.

We do not think either that there should be more and more programs forced on the people without it being the decision of the provincial governments. You see, even now in Shaping Canada's Future Together, if a province brings in a program that is in line with the federal government's program, the proposal is that then it will get the funds, which is very similar actually to the way medicare came in. So there may not be all that many changes, whether we have a Council of the Federation or not. It seems to be very Canadian, I think, to have the great father, the federal government, sort of looking after us. They will have the umbrella over these social programs for some time, I would think.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much. Are there any other questions? With that, Ms Dobson, I would like to thank you for presenting before our committee.

As Mrs O'Neill mentioned just a few moments ago, your presentation brings to an end the formal public hearings that we have been going through for the past year. It not only has been an interesting process for the members of this committee, but I am sure people have been following the proceedings of the select committee on Ontario in Confederation, as the hearings were presented live and sometimes tape-delayed, depending on conflict with the House schedule, in regard to bringing the hearings and the whole debate, I think, to all Ontarians so that they can participate and watch and try to understand and grapple with some of the issues facing us today as Canadians, amending parts of formulas that seem to be dividing some of us at times.

We have heard from a number of people. From the month of February until now we have heard from women's groups, labour, native groups, the business community, the multicultural community and the francophone community, just to name a few. I think each of them brought a different piece of the puzzle. I am speaking personally now as a member and I imagine other members would probably echo the same coming into this process: To sit on the select committee and to listen to what Ontarians have to say so that we can struggle at the end and better formulate into a report the positions of Ontarians, those different aspects that were brought from the various people in our community of Ontario really allowed me as a member and the rest of the people of this committee to piece together that puzzle, to really understand that mosaic that we talk about, what Ontario is as a province and how we fit into Confederation.

It has been an educational process for us. I think we have learned a great deal. We have been at times humbled. At times we laughed together and at times we cried together, to say the least, on a number of different issues. It is a process that I know I, and I imagine the rest of the members, will not forget for a long time. It has been everything. It is very hard to explain. It has been a very educational process.

We found there is a lot of consensus in the province of Ontario. Sometimes that consensus was somewhat guarded, sometimes it was a little bit conditional, but there was a lot more consensus out there, I think, than many of us were willing to bet on when we came into this process. We can name a few, which I am not going to get into at this point because that is the job of our report. But on many questions that I think many of us expected to hear a lot of controversy and a lot of different positions on, there was actually a lot more consensus than we really expected. I say it was somewhat guarded at times because there were also questions and conditions attached to that consensus at times. I think we have seen some of that in the constitutional conference we had just this November or October on some of those key issues.

We invite people who have been watching through the whole proceedings, if they have some final wisdom they would like to share with us, they have until December 16, 1991, to formally present to the clerk of our committee. I imagine the address will be rolled on the end of the program, so people can get the address. Address it to Harold Brown, the clerk of our committee.

As well, people should be aware that we will now be going into the final phase of our process, which is the writing of a report. This started in February with public hearings and went on to an interim report in May. We heard from people who had specific points to bring to us in the summer months, from constitutional experts to experts of all kinds of different stripes, as well as various interest groups.

We went through the process of meeting with all our provincial counterparts across this country, from the Northwest Territories all the way out to Newfoundland. As well, we had the opportunity of meeting with the federal committee and exchanging with it some of the views of people they had met with. We went on from there to our constitutional conference, where we brought together 130 people from across the province who by and large were not selected by politicians.

That really should be underscored: The process was open, within the confines that we have in the standing orders, to give as much of that process as possible back to the people. That was a risky thing to do. I think we had to struggle with it at first as politicians, turning that over to the people, but in the end the people proved that if you give the people and their wisdom the benefit of the doubt, they will often prove you right. They will often prove that they can make fairly good decisions on very sensitive and tough issues. I think the constitutional conference proved that.

The last part was basically what we have gone through tonight, which has been the opportunity once again to listen to specific people who had points to tell us in regard to the federal proposals, because obviously we need to speak about that in our final report. For that we thank you, on behalf of the select committee on Ontario in Confederation, an all-party committee that worked, I would say, admirably without any political fights.

Believe you me, in this place sometimes that is very difficult to have happen in any committee, but I can truly say all the decisions of this committee have been with unanimous consent. I cannot think of one issue where all three parties did not agree on doing one particular process or dealing with any particular issue. The select committee functioned with the unanimous support of all three parties. I think that says a lot about this political system, which sometimes we like to twist around and blame for our problems. But I think the British parliamentary system has served us fairly well and I think the work of this committee reflects that tradition quite well.

So on behalf of the select committee on Ontario in Confederation, we would like to thank you all. As I say, this brings to an end the formal part of our public hearings. We look forward to presenting a report to the people of Ontario, which should be released on February 5. With that, this committee now stands adjourned. Bonjour.

The committee adjourned at 2022.