Wednesday 23 October 1991

Howard Pawley

Ian Scott


Acting 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)

Gigantes, Evelyn (Ottawa Centre NDP)

Harnick, Charles (Willowdale PC)

Harrington, Margaret H. (Niagara Falls NDP)

Malkowski, Gary (York East NDP)

Mathyssen, Irene (Middlesex NDP)

Offer, Steven (Mississauga North L)

O'Neill, Yvonne (Ottawa-Rideau L)

Winninger, David (London South NDP)

Clerk: Brown, Harold

The committee met at 1536 in room 151.


The Chair: Our order of business is, first of all, to welcome into our midst the former Premier of Manitoba, Howard Pawley. Mr Pawley, I cannot tell you how pleased we are to have you agree to come here and speak to us on your own view of the federal proposals. We hope also that, because of your involvement historically with the Meech Lake accord, you could also hearken back to some of those negotiations and perhaps give us some perspective about what we have set before us in terms of the federal proposal. That would be very helpful as well.

Hon Mr Pawley: Thank you very much, Mr Chairman. Probably I could commence by making some remarks about what I see to be the climate, positive and/or negative, at this point in time in particular relationship to the climate leading up to the debate on these proposals, in contrast to the situation during Meech. I could outline some of the difficulties that I think led to the Meech so-called fiasco. Then I would like to make some comments about the present proposals, and hopefully we will have lots of opportunity for some questions.

The past 20 years have been very painful for us in Canada: the Victoria formula debacle of 1971; the 1981-82 situation in which Quebec was isolated in the constitutional discussions which gave way to the need to bring Quebec into the Constitution; the 1986 meeting in Edmonton in which all premiers agreed to attempt to bring Quebec back into the Constitution and to make Quebec the one principal area of objective on constitutional reform; 1987, of course, the meetings at Meech and at Langevin; the final document that was put together at the late meeting, an 18-hour stretch, at Langevin, and last year the collapse of Meech Lake.

First and foremost, and I will deal with this very briefly because you have probably gone over much of this before, Meech in my view died because with the approach that was taken, that of a seamless web, one thread removed would bring apart the entire document. It was an approach that was not well thought through and that caused a great of resistance. There was an impression that 11 men behind closed doors had put this together and had blocked any further discussion about improvement or reform of the document. That was certainly the perception; it was quite clear.

Another problem which arose was the fact that there was ignoring of other stakeholders in Canadian Confederation. In 1982, with the patriation of the Constitution, aboriginals, multicultural communities and women were all stakeholders in the Constitution, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We had not just governments now with an interest in the development and the changes in the Constitution, but other stakeholders. They were excluded during the Meech Lake process, and we found out to our dismay what the end result of that was.

At the same time, if I could just put on my hat as a professor in political science for a moment, we had an increase in what Don Smiley would have referred to as the three axes, the ascendancy in those three axes in Canada: the English-French relationship; the relationship between central Canada and the peripheries of Canada, both western Canada and Atlantic Canada; and the relationship between Canada and the United States. There was an increase in the ascendancy, an increase in tension in respect to all three areas between 1987 and 1990, and that compounded the atmosphere.

We have, I think, a number of problems now in attempting to pick up the proposals that are before us. One is that the atmosphere is much more sour in the country as a whole than it was in 1987. The federal-provincial relationship, as a consequence, is much more strained between the federal government and the provinces. It is going to be extremely difficult to overcome that hurdle.

I think there is much more dissatisfaction with the political parties, with governments federal and provincial, and it will be your responsibility to evaluate why in the political process this should be. The results of the last week should indicate that in both British Columbia and Saskatchewan.

It is not a good time to be in government. It is a good time to be out of it, and maybe out of politics too -- I say that as one who was in politics for 19 years -- with the mood that exists out there among the public, probably all as a consequence of the extreme dissatisfaction with the economy and uncertainty as to the direction in which Canada is proceeding.

Having said that, the opportunities that exist now with the proposals before us involve a more open process, commitments which I accept at their face value that this will be an open process as opposed to a closed process, that the proposals are not a seamless web but ones upon which we can make improvements and changes.

I also think the greater sense of urgency is a positive. I can remember that in 1987-88, if you suggested for a moment to anyone that the unity of Canada was at stake, nobody believed you. The public as a whole was certainly not sympathetic to that kind of rationale being advanced in 1987-88. I think most Canadians now realize that the unity question is very paramount, very much of a consideration. Maybe sometimes we have to move closer to the edge before we recognize the fact that we must attempt to bring about a resolution of the crisis.

Having said that, let me review with you some of my thoughts in regard to the proposals that are before us at the present time. I want to commence from the premise that this is a time in which compromise and consensus must be uppermost in our minds, such as are required in a diverse nation like Canada: Western Canada, Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic Canada and the Territories. It is a tough country to govern and in which to find consensus. In order to do that, everyone is going to have to compromise to some extent in the process.

First and foremost, in regard to the distinct society, I think this again will be one of the most difficult areas to deal with. It has been a recognition that I have never had difficulty in making. Quebec is clearly unique, clearly different. We must be prepared to accept that in Canada if we are to ensure that we bring this nation together in one of mutual understanding. There is a need therefore for generosity. I think the proposals we have before us are more defined than those in Meech. This may help to some extent. The Meech proposals were too open-ended in so far as the definition was concerned. Here we are dealing with language, the civil law and culture.

Having said that, I want to advise the committee that I have no doubt this will remain a contentious area in Canada. Recent polls indicate that 55% of Canadians are opposed to and 45% are in favour of this provision, outside of Quebec.

Let me tell you, western Canada -- I have wounds from Meech Lake, and I do not believe positions have necessarily softened in many areas in respect to this particular provision of a distinct society. It is one that I sense probably will not be capable of much change in this document if we are going to resolve the present impasse, and while we have some reservations in respect to this provision, I believe we must run with the provision basically as outlined.

Having said that, I believe there is a major weakness in the proposals and one that if it is not corrected is going to result in the collapse of these proposals. I cannot see your own province of Ontario accepting these proposals. I certainly cannot see British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba accepting these proposals unless changes are made in respect to the provision dealing with aboriginal self-government.

Aboriginals, having inhabited this country for at least 10,000 years, having had their own governing nations before the arrival of the white man, clearly have an inherent right to self-government. They do not understand this talk in the proposals and by the minister that they must negotiate self-government. What they want, and why I think there will be no buying into this, is a recognition of their inherent right to self-government.

They certainly cannot for a moment accept that the distinctness of Quebec can be recognized immediately, the sexual equality of women having been recognized in 1982 at once, and yet the recognition of their right to self-government is being deferred for an additional 10 years. There is no way that will be sold to the aboriginal people, and I believe many governments in Canada will not find it feasible to accept these proposals unless there is a basic change in the proposals regarding the aboriginal people.

One of the main failings in the Meech process was that from 1982 to 1987 we attended four very difficult constitutional meetings, the Prime Minister and all 10 premiers, on aboriginal self-government. All those meetings failed, and the last meeting failed but a few weeks before April 1987. The anger arose because the aboriginals had been involved in an open process for five years, a process which had led nowhere, and yet in their minds 11 white men had been able in the process of a few hours to deal with the Quebec issue. Those same 11 men around the table, through four conferences over five years, had been unable to come to an agreement in the aboriginal areas.


We said that is not going to be easy. There are going to be difficult problems to undertake, because the aboriginal people themselves have differences of point of view. We have seen the Metis people in western Canada already give their support to these proposals. On the other hand, the Inuit and the first nations have expressed their firm opposition to the proposals as written. It will not be easy; it will be very difficult. But unless we are prepared to spend time and to deal with this -- and I would urge the Ontario government and the Premier in his discussions to take a very firm position on the aboriginal area -- I do not think the package will be sold.

Another area I would like to deal with is the spending power provisions in the proposals. During the discussions on Meech Lake, both at the lake itself and at Langevin, then-Premier Peterson and I were both concerned about the weakness of the spending power provisions and the potential impact the spending power provisions would have upon weakening the ability of the federal government to advance national cost-shared programs in areas of provincial jurisdiction. In fact, one of the major reasons for the difficulty at Langevin was our efforts to tighten up those proposals. There was a tightening up of those proposals at Langevin from the original proposals that were made. I would refer you, if you have the opportunity, to David Milne's book on the Canadian Constitution, in which he deals with some of the discussions that went on, at page 201.

In my view, if the Clark proposals had been in effect at the time of medicare, medicare would not have been possible. They are too negatively framed and the decisions in respect to cost-shared programs in my view should be removed from the council, as is proposed in the Clark proposals. That should be restored to the federal government. It should be the federal government that establishes the national standards -- I prefer national standards. We did not get that with Meech Lake. We may have to agree with the same wording as Meech Lake, but I would be extremely leery of accepting any weaker wording than that which was obtained in the Meech Lake discussions in 1987. In my view, the Clark proposals weaken substantially the wording even from Meech Lake, which in many ways was unsatisfactory to many Canadians at that time.

I do not think it is possible to obtain a national day care program in the future. Even if the moneys were available during the next decade or the next few years for a national day care program, I would hazard that this would be impossible under the Clark proposals.

I must acknowledge to you, so I am clear as to my position, I would prefer the abolition of the Senate. I prefer a House of Commons with proportional representation. Having said that, I think an elected Senate is preferable to an appointed Senate. However, I would prefer to see it framed in terms of a House of the Provinces. The election of the members to that House of the Provinces in my view should take place at the same time as provincial elections, not at the same time as federal elections. I suggest that such a House of the Provinces should be dealing with questions of regional disparity and federal-provincial relations. It ought to have a role as far as the enforcement of section 36 of the Constitution, which deals with matters of regional economic development and equalization, is concerned.

If the elections take place as proposed, then the second chamber, whether it is called a Senate or House of the Provinces, will mainly reflect the federal government and its policies at any given time, when the second chamber's only useful role in my view would be to reflect federal-provincial areas of concern.

Some of you remember the CF-18 fiasco in Manitoba. The award was made improperly, in my humble view, to Canadair in Montreal, contrary to merit, contrary to price. I do not believe that a triple E Senate would have helped us one bit at that time, because the members of the triple E Senate from other provinces would have rallied behind the federal government if they were indeed of the same political stripe.

At that time Manitoba, with a New Democratic Party government, the Conservative government of Alberta and the Premier of Saskatchewan, Premier Devine, spoke out very forcibly in support of the federal government, thus explaining my reason for being somewhat sensitive to any suggestion that the member should be elected coterminous with federal election, because I would think we will just get a rubber stamp for federal government decisions and not really a voice that will reflect the concerns of the provinces or the regions at any given time.

I have concerns about the special allocation for aboriginal members in the Senate. I would like to hear from aboriginal organizations. I think there is some disagreement. I fear ghettoizing aboriginal representatives to the extent that they would be off there in a corner. Their opportunity to influence, to lobby members of Parliament, to have a larger impact I think would be reduced rather than enhanced. It is a matter for discussion. I offer you my particular view in respect to that.

I am worried about the remarks by the minister that if this particular structure had been in place, then neither the national energy policy nor the goods and services tax would have been passed. It is not that I have any liking for the goods and services tax, but I think a federal government must govern. We were told that the goods and services tax was for the wellbeing of Canadians as a whole and that it was necessary in order to implement measures that would improve the economy, the fiscal position of the federal government.

I am concerned about any group that is not elected by population, contrary to our parliamentary traditions, having effective power to block major policy decisions. I do not think that is what democracy is all about. Whether we agree or disagree with the GST or the national energy policy, surely the government of the day has a responsibility to govern and not be blocked in this decision-making by another group, whether it is a triple E Senate or an appointed Senate.

The property rights provision will obviously have to come out. I do not see any way this particular provision can survive. I have had three experiences, without talking about environment or health and safety, in which property rights would have been potentially used successfully against the implementation of legislation in Manitoba from 1969 to 1988, because we were threatened each time with court action on the basis of property rights.

One was the implementation of public automobile insurance in Manitoba in 1970. The Manitoba bar association examined whether or not it could block the implementation of the legislation on the basis of property rights. Because it was not enshrined in the legislation, they backed off.

Another one was the marital property legislation in 1976. Some professional organizations threatened to challenge the equal division of property rights on the basis that this would impinge upon one's right to own property. Again, I think if that had been enshrined, marital property legislation would have been prevented from being enacted.


The last example is farm lands ownership legislation. This is a particular concern to Premier Ghiz in Prince Edward Island, but both Saskatchewan and Manitoba have had farm lands protection legislation dealing with ownership by non-full-time farmers of acreages in excess of a certain number of acres, one section. That legislation would have been blocked.

It is not a question of whether you agree or disagree with that legislation but whether it should be constitutionalized so that governments are prevented in the future from the public policy process of making those kinds of decisions. I suggest not. Property rights in my view should not be left in the document. I frankly do not think there is much chance that they will survive the upcoming discussions.

I have raised some questions about economic union with you. Some of this is very preliminary and I raise the questions more so you can look at some of these areas in the future.

First I want to say that we from Manitoba, along with Ontario, were always very supportive of removing interprovincial trade barriers. It was interesting during the free trade discussions that the most pro free trade provinces, Quebec, Newfoundland and British Columbia, resisted the efforts by Premier Peterson and myself to bring about agreement on the removal of interprovincial trade barriers. Having said that, I think it is important to look at some areas that should be considered and I leave them here for your thought.

A province which is receiving equalization payments, in attempting to reach a stage of economic self-sufficiency so it no longer needs to draw upon equalization, whether it is Atlantic Canada, Manitoba or now Saskatchewan, when it advances on a major work -- in the case of Manitoba Hydro, where we spent some $2 billion on hydro development, we borrowed the money, there were no tax concessions, no grants from anybody involved to do this for the economic development of the province in order to escape the perpetual payment of equalization from Ottawa. The question is whether we should be able to give first preference to employment to Manitobans, or it could be Newfoundlanders, in that kind of situation.

There are some possibilities of interpretation under regional economic development that it could be done under the proposals. I do not think the Manitoba instance would have been possible under that. You may not think it should be possible. I do not want to engage necessarily in a long argument with you at this point, except that it was a vast undertaking by a province that was supposedly a have-not, a recipient of equalization. Should we be given all the tools in order to develop our own economic wellbeing to escape equalization?

I have concerns about the proposals which deal with the council exercising fiscal control as far as provincial decision-making is concerned. First, I worry about a majority of provinces ganging up against one or two provinces that may pursue a different fiscal direction. I think in a federal system that ought to be permitted. We are not a unitary state; we are a federal system because of the diversity of this country. This is clearly geared to preventing a province from getting out of step with fiscal measures that are undertaken by the federal government and the majority of provinces. Whether or not we agree on the Ontario budget, I can tell you that this measure potentially would have been used in the case of Ontario and it would have been used in Manitoba in 1982-83 during the recession when we advanced our jobs fund thrust in that province.

I want to leave this thought with you, whether or not it is appropriate to do that at the same time we leave monetary policy in the hands of the Bank of Canada as per these proposals, and also constitutionalize within these proposals that the responsibility of the Bank of Canada will be for price stability. There is no reference to employment; it is strictly price stability.

I happen to think that fiscal and monetary policy have to operate together. I can remember the 1982 conference of the first minister of Canada and the provincial premiers, when we all objected, every premier -- this has been the case for the last 10 years -- to the policy of high interest rates and a high dollar being pursued by the Bank of Canada. At the conference Governor Bouey acknowledged to us, as did the ministers at that time, that there was no consideration of a monetary policy being complemented by a fiscal policy.

The trouble with the monetary policy that has been pursued is that it does not reflect the diversity of Canada, the fact that in many parts of Canada, particularly Atlantic Canada, inflation is not the problem; unemployment is the problem. The higher we keep interest rates on the dollar, the more difficult it is to sell fish and forestry products. We have to have a fiscal policy that will complement a monetary policy.

I am concerned when we enshrine in the Constitution price stability as being the Bank of Canada policy. Whether that is right or wrong policy is really beside the point. Should it be enshrined in the Constitution while at the same time we take away from provinces -- if a province opts out, it will come clear after three years whether that province continues to opt out -- the right to do their own innovative and creative fiscal policy initiatives, which may be Keynesian or neo-Conservative depending upon what government happens to be in power at the federal level in the future?

It is not a question of neo-Conservatives against Keynesians. I suspect that by the end of this decade it will be a more Keynesian economic direction and probably some provinces that will want to pursue a neo-Conservative approach will be prevented from doing so because of constitutionalizing this. Let's not constitutionalize this. Let people make these kinds of decisions given the circumstances at the time and not attempt to tie future generations to a particular philosophy or direction.

Also, I think that provision has only inflamed a lot of resistance in Quebec. It has certainly stimulated a great deal of nationalist and sovereignty feeling in Quebec. I suggest the whole economic union provision should come out. If it does not come out, I think it is mandatory that the social charter be included. I do not see how we can have this provision without the social charter. If we are going to run with the economic provision, the social charter must be included.

Discussing the social charter more specifically, the area in the Constitution now dealing with regional economic development and equalization should be strengthened. I do not think we can have a truly united country as long as we have have and have-not services and varying rates of taxes, where people in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick pay exorbitant sales tax and income tax beyond their ability to pay at the same time their services are inferior because there is no effective way to enforce section 36 of the Constitution.

In fact, at the last premiers' conference I attended, in Saint John, New Brunswick, in September 1987, it was agreed that we would ask that section 36 be included for future constitutional consideration, with the objective of strengthening it in order to ensure that there would be comparable social services and tax rates all across Canada, from one end of this country to the other. I think that is a must if we are going to proceed with future progress.


Whether or not the social charter will be sold in western Canada will depend a great deal on how it would be monitored and enforced. If the courts are to play a major role, I do not think it is going to fly. Let me tell you that westerners from all sides of the political stripe, whether it is a Roy Romanow, a Sterling Lyon, a Howard Pawley or an Allan Blakeney, are very reluctant to get the courts involved. There was even some uneasiness -- I did not particularly share this -- on the charter in 1981-82.

If we are going to have a second chamber, I suggest it be a body to monitor and enforce the provisions of the social charter and minimize or eliminate any need for the courts to be involved at all. I think to transfer power to undertake policy from elected representatives to judges and courts is the wrong direction to proceed in. I do not think it will sell as far as other provinces are concerned. If you leave it to another elected body to do the monitoring and enforcing, it may very well be sold.

I disagree with the proposals that would transfer the residual powers entirely to the provinces. I think that leads to a great deal of difficulty as far as the environment is concerned, which would end up, under my interpretation, as exclusively a provincial area of responsibility. It would be better to leave the development of the residual power in the future to the political process and the courts, as proposed by the Group of 22, preferably by the political process, rather than to transfer residual powers to the provinces.

I do not believe housing should be exclusively a provincial responsibility. I think many small provinces would be unable to embark upon a major housing thrust if, as proposed, housing should be transferred to the federal government.

I should probably terminate at this point and deal with any questions that might exist.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Pawley, for those remarks. They have been very comprehensive and have dealt with many of the aspects and certainly have raised questions presently.

Mr Bisson: Actually you answered part of my question in the last part of the comments you made. I want to get back to when you were talking about an elected Senate. You are advocating a position of putting in place something that would be called the House of the Provinces. I do not know if I misunderstood, but I got some contradiction, unless I was not paying proper attention. On the one hand you are saying you oppose a triple E Senate because you feel it would obstruct the ability of the federal government to pass laws within its own jurisdiction, but if I understand you correctly when you are talking about a House of the Provinces, you are talking about a body something like the Senate we have today, a House of sober second thought but with no powers.

Hon Mr Pawley: When it comes to laws I would not recommend that the approval be obtained first from that second chamber. I think a suspensive veto of six months is adequate. I would want to grant it the additional power of dealing with the double majority necessary in culture and language as proposed but, as I mentioned, monitoring and enforcing section 36 should be a responsibility of that second chamber. I think all issues pertaining to the social charter should be its responsibility.

I would not leave the question of the spending power with either the council or the second chamber. I think that should be a federal government responsibility. All matters pertaining to federal-provincial relations should be monitored and, if necessary, enforced, including agreements such as the Canada assistance plan and the established programs financing, which should be enforced by that second chamber rather than the Supreme Court of Canada or other adjudicative bodies.

Mr Curling: It is always a pleasure to hear you. I had the opportunity to hear you at a first ministers' conference. I hesitate even to question some of the statements you have made, because you are such an expert on many of the issues, but I want one clarification on one aspect and also to clarify what I perceive to be a contradiction in another way.

First was the distinct society. You stated that you were making a comparison of how they came about recognizing Quebec -- 11 men in a room for a couple of hours recognizing Quebec as a distinct society -- and wanting to give the aboriginal people 10 years in order to have their self-government. I thought the distinct society debate had been going on since about 1867 by different names or in different ways. Therefore, it is something they have been wrestling with for over 100 years now. Is that not so?

The other part I found had some contradiction was when you spoke about fiscal control. You spoke about how you are in disagreement with it but it should be enshrined in the Constitution. That is what I got.

Hon Mr Pawley: I am against enshrining that in the Constitution.

Mr Curling: That is right, but you want the social charter enshrined in the Constitution. One minute you state that the fiscal policy would restrict a province to express itself in the way it wanted to go, because of its different economic ideology, and then you say the social charter should be enshrined. In the same way that it is political ideology that actually drives each government, whether it is a social democratic government or Conservative government, if it is enshrined in the Constitution, you went on to say, you would not like the court interpreting this, that it should be outside of the courts. I lose you in there somehow. Could you just explain it for me a bit more?

Hon Mr Pawley: On the first question, dealing with the aboriginals and the distinct society, I think I indicated to you that the perception by the aboriginals was that they had tried from 1982 to 1987 to obtain recognition by the first ministers. We went through four conferences that were unsuccessful. Then they saw us getting together and resolving the issue of Quebec within a few hours at Meech Lake, and the perception from their perspective is that we were able to resolve it quickly, behind closed doors. Yet as far as they were concerned, they had played by the rules and the open process through four national conferences and had been unsuccessful.

I agree with you that the reality has been that there has been a history -- in fact predating 1867 -- as far as Quebec is concerned. There has been a long process there. In my view, all we are doing is recognizing that which the Supreme Court has already said, and also the Quebec Act of 1774.

You have asked a good question about the charter. I think the social charter must be included if we are going to run with this economic charter. That was one position I think I enunciated quite clearly. I do not see how the economic union proposal could remain and not be balanced out in the overall considerations by a social charter.

If we are going to end up getting into great preciseness, as far as the social charter is concerned, then I would agree with you. As I understand the objective, it would be some general kind of approach with regard to certain minimum health and welfare standards across the country. Many countries enshrine those general kinds of concepts. We have many concepts like that now enshrined in our Constitution. I think that is quite different than saying that the only responsibility of the Bank of Canada is going to be price stability.

To me that is very precise, very specific and a position, by the way, that has been disagreed with by each and every Premier, regardless of political stripe, from Peter Lougheed to René Lévesque and David Peterson. Every Premier I can think of in the last 10 years has disagreed with that specific kind of policy thrust by the Bank of Canada. Why would we enshrine that? I think we all agree, regardless of political stripe, that there should be some minimum commitment to housing, to universal health protection, to a universal education standard. I do not think there is a disagreement there, philosophically.

If we are going to get into very precise wording, I would have difficulty with the proposal. As I indicated to you, I also have difficulty if we are going to enforce the social charter by the courts rather than the second chamber. That is basically my response to you.


Mr Eves: I would like to address the issue of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the issue of the override or "notwithstanding" clause, section 33. I wondered where you stood on its inclusion in 1982 and what you have to say about the proposal the federal government is now putting forth as part of its document about the 60% majority of the appropriate legislative body with respect to an override.

Hon Mr Pawley: Probably in 1981-82 I was against its inclusion. I had not thought out my position. I would have to tell you I am in favour of it now.

Mr Eves: Can I ask why you have changed your mind?

Hon Mr Pawley: Because, as I have indicated in regard to the role of the courts, I think it is important that in the final analysis elected representatives assume responsibility. I never quarrelled with the right of Premier Bourassa, for instance, to utilize section 33 to override Bill 101. We gave him that right. I think it was through the front door. It has a five-year time limitation. In his view, it is in the public interest in Quebec and part of the public process. Although it has been used rarely, I believe the "notwithstanding" clause provision should remain.

I have hesitancy in seeing the percentage increase from 50% to 60% of the members of the Legislature. I think in that case a government might be impeded from using it. I know the popular thought is to throw out the "notwithstanding" clause provision altogether. I think it does run contrary to the whole concept of accountability.

Ms Harrington: I really appreciate your coming. A few days ago, in fact Monday night, very many members of our caucus had a meeting with the Minister of Culture and Communications and we were actually discussing what in effect is culture, and that was quite interesting. We got to the question of whether or not culture should be a federal mandate -- you mentioned you feel housing should remain at the federal level -- and one of the suggestions was that the federal people seemed to want to get out of culture. I am wondering how you feel about that.

Hon Mr Pawley: Certainly, as far as Quebec is concerned, I think Quebec ought to have control over culture. I think that is one of the compromises we must be prepared to make as Canadians to maintain unity in this country.

On overall responsibility for culture, I think the federal government should remain responsible. I do not think there would be much of a cultural policy in a lot of the poorer, smaller provinces unless there is a federal responsibility for overall direction. If we are going to pull this country together, I think there is a responsibility on the part of the federal government to be responsible for culture. Culture surely is part of the Canadian fabric that keeps the country closely drawn together. So I am opposed to any provincializing of culture, outside Quebec. I think it is best as it is now, a federal-provincial shared responsibility.

Ms Harrington: Would it be similar then to your view of how housing could work?

Hon Mr Pawley: Yes, clearly. If I can again draw upon my own experience, I do not know how we could ever have undertaken the housing initiatives we took in Manitoba during the 1970s if it was not for the CMHC. Even more extreme havoc would have been created for Atlantic Canada if there had been no CMHC. Housing should, in my view, definitely remain a shared responsibility.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Thank you, Mr Pawley, for coming to speak to us. You said very little when you got to your points on the interprovincial trade barriers. Could you say a little bit more? You just mentioned those provinces that were very protective, and I would like you to say a little bit more about what you think the possibilities are in this area.

It certainly is something the Ontario government has looked at no matter which party has been in power, and I wonder how long we are going to look without doing something. I feel there is much more at stake here. It sounds quite easy at first blush, but then it gets much more complicated when we start to talk about it.

Hon Mr Pawley: It can be very difficult. I can understand, for instance, Newfoundland's reluctance in 1987. They were fearful it would interfere with their own regional economic development thrust. It is a different story out in BC.

I think there has been progress since 1987. It is my understanding that among the premiers there has been a shift towards more united support for the removal of interprovincial trade barriers, with the possible exception of Quebec. I am not quite sure of the latest Quebec position, because Premier Bourassa is not attending premiers' meetings.

I think it is necessary that capital services and goods all move freely in this country, subject to some of the caveats I mentioned. I think it important that regional economic development policies directed towards moving have-not provinces away from equalization-receiving provinces to self-sufficiency should be encouraged. That is my principal caveat to removing the barriers totally. I think the mood has been positive and has been towards removal of barriers. I am not quite sure of Quebec's present position.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: There is the possibility definitely in this round that there would be an acceleration.

Hon Mr Pawley: I think there is a good likelihood of this.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Likely the things that are happening in the Maritimes themselves would be helpful.

Hon Mr Pawley: If I can project ahead, I am not quite sure what a change in Quebec government might do. I think a more nationalist government would have great difficulty in accepting any removal of trade barriers. That was the case in the early 1980s and I sense it would not have changed.

Mr Harnick: When you were talking about the social charter, I was interested in your reference to a government commitment. It is an interesting turn of phrase. Is it a commitment to a concept or is it a commitment to a policy? I think those two things are very different.

When we talk about a social charter, are we committing governments to a policy of providing certain basic minimum things? Or are we committing them only to a concept, so that we are not raising the expectations of the public that everybody is going to have a job and a minimum income and a house? As I see the social charter, that is one of the misleading aspects about it. I wonder if you could elaborate on whether you are talking about a commitment to a concept or a commitment to a defined policy.

Hon Mr Pawley: I indicated that I felt it should be a commitment towards a minimum level of service. In my view, it is going to depend a great deal on whether or not the economic union provisions are left there. Frankly I would want more precision if we are going to leave the economic union provisions in than if we were going to take them out. So my answer would depend a great deal on whether economic union provisions are left in or removed.


Section 36, which deals with the limited social charter now in the Constitution, speaks to some of the problems. In 1982, it was represented to Atlantic Canada particularly that this would ensure there would not be two classes of citizens in Canada. If Joe Ghiz were here, he would go on for hours about how this has been pure lipservice in the Constitution.

I think Section 36 has to be clearly understood, which we are attempting to do. The impression was left in 1982-83 that the limited social charter in there was going to be more far-reaching than indeed it was. There is a case now in the courts, launched by the Atlantic provincial governments, to have a more clear definition as to exactly what was intended by section 36. We should avoid that. If the economic charter is going to be part of this document, then I think we need more precision. If the economic charter is removed, then I think some general concepts, some general minimum thrust, is sufficient, but making it very clear what the intention is, which was not done with section 36.

The Chair: Our last questioner is Mr Winninger.

Mr Winninger: You indicated near the end of your presentation that you had some reservations about transferring residual powers to the provinces. You cited the environment as an example and said that if the environment were placed exclusively in the hands of the provinces, it might perhaps weaken our national initiatives. I seem to recall that in the United States residual powers are enjoyed by each individual state, yet counterbalanced against that are strong national institutions like the federal environmental agency. Do you see any possibility for that model?

Hon Mr Pawley: That is possible. What I would be more fearful of at the present time is that we would end up accepting the proposal as is, without having those strong national central institutions. Because of the existing political climate, the tendency would be not to go in that direction. So I would have concern that the proposal as worded here would be accepted without the example you have given us.

I again mention the somewhat parochial matter of the Rafferty-Alameda dam project. This impacts upon Manitoba and yet the Manitoba government, both the previous and the present government, though gravely concerned about the negative aspects of this dam, have been pretty well powerless, even with the federal government's involvement in it. I would thus worry if the provinces had exclusive rights in environmental matters. I do not think you could define this as coming under emergency legislation. I believe the federal government retains national emergencies as a residual power, and I do not think the Rafferty-Alameda project comes under that.

We had concern about Ontario. We used to have a running battle over a lake right next to the Manitoba border, where mining was going to impact upon the city of Winnipeg's drinking water supply. We felt powerless because there did not seem to be a federal responsibility to deal with that kind of interprovincial situation.

The Chair: Mr Pawley, I want to thank you very much on behalf of the select committee for coming and spending time and helping us to grapple with these very important issues regarding the federal proposals.

Hon Mr Pawley: Thank you very much, Mr Chairman.


The Chair: I now call on our next witness, Mr Ian Scott. I want to say that it is a privilege and a pleasure to have Mr Scott with us today. He is a member of the House here in Ontario -- I am saying this really for the benefit of those who are watching today on television -- who has had a distinguished career working on constitutional issues. I thank you very much, Mr Scott, for giving us an opportunity to hear you and to question you.

Mr Scott: Mr Chairman, I will be as brief as I can, and I will not duplicate what Mr Pawley said. You are seeing the walking wounded today when you see Mr Pawley and me, and one of the things I want to do is, I hope, help the committee by focusing on the task you have and making a couple of suggestions about how, as a result of my experience, unsuccessful as it was, the exercise might be improved.

I want to begin by saying that when I came to politics in 1985, the first event was election night, and I remember it with enormous satisfaction. I somehow got the sense that every night thereafter would be rather like election night and I would be hoisted on the shoulders of my constituents and praised for what I had done.

I found, as many leaders have said, that to govern is to choose. In fact, my experience of five years in the government was perhaps like the experience that government members are now getting, that all of my colleagues, with the exception of Mr Harnick, know personally, which is that you are obliged, in the act of choosing, to inevitably make choices that are made from a menu much more limited than you expected and much less attractive than you expected.

I am sure that all government members are getting the experience that we had, finding they are not able to do the things they wanted to do or are not able to do them in the way they wanted to do them, or they are attracting by the act of choices criticisms and attacks which they understand -- because we are all in politics -- but which they may from time to time think unfair.

If that is true in matters of domestic politics, it is particularly true in matters surrounding the making of constitutions. It seems to me inevitable that in the act of making constitutions, politicians who are in the exercise are going to suffer in political terms. We better just face it.

Mr Pawley, who was just here, suffered. Allan Blakeney in 1982 was defeated in the greatest rout in the history of Saskatchewan, and said it was largely because of the constitutional positions, I think right, which he had adopted. The exercise of making constitutions is not going to make you popular, no matter how many times you go around the province of Ontario. It is inevitably going to make you unpopular in this decade.

The good news is that your memory will be revered, if you succeed, by your children and grandchildren, and your reward for successful Constitution-making will not occur in this generation, as it did not in the case of Macdonald and Cartier or any of the others, but in the next generation, because you will have preserved the country to which we are all so dedicated.

This committee, and I admire you enormously for it, has been going around the province hearing what people, if they had their druthers, would like to have in the Constitution of Canada, or hearing what they have to say, some of it negative, about what other Canadians would like to have in the Constitution. It would be nice if you could go on doing that for ever, but inevitably you cannot. To govern is to choose, and some choices have to be made.

The governing party is the main actor in this. Opposition parties have a role by way of making suggestions, but if the government chooses and makes reasonable choices in Constitution decision-making, I believe our role and our obligation is to be non-partisan about it, in so far as we can, and support the government of our province when those choices are made.


I say all that because I think sometimes it is overlooked and because I really want to make four points to you. The first is that the timetable is incredibly urgent. The National Assembly of Quebec, as you know, is in the course of passing a bill which will require by law a referendum to be held by the autumn of 1992, and although there is some dispute about this, that referendum, in my opinion having looked at the statute, must be a referendum about sovereignty or independence. It may be a referendum about other things as well, such as existing proposals, but it has to be a referendum about sovereignty or about independence at the least.

That is scarcely one year away. Even if the Premier of Quebec could avoid that referendum, he would be forced the following year to have a general election, and if he avoided the referendum and had the general election, the general election would be the referendum. Whether the referendum is held in the autumn of 1992 or it is not and an election follows the succeeding year, there can be no guarantee that the referendum will reject independence. Indeed, I think the best analysts in Quebec regard the matter as almost a tie at the present time, and if economic circumstances get worse, the situation may even deteriorate.

The reason I emphasize this is that, while we have been going around hearing people in our various provinces, the clock has been ticking, and when October of 1992 comes, the game may in a functional sense be practically over. We are very close to 10 minutes to midnight.

If you look at when Meech Lake was proposed, another interesting constitutional thing happened in the world: the wall came down in Berlin. Since that time, the two German republics have drafted their proposals, drafted a constitution, enacted the constitution, ratified the constitution and unified their country, a thing that we would have thought a decade ago could not possibly occur in our generation.

All we have done so far is have the federal government present a series of proposals which may, five months from now, become the proposals of who? The proposals of the Conservative Party. We are not approaching this issue with the dispatch it requires, and if we do not begin in the provinces to make some tough, aggressive decisions, many of which will hurt, the timetable may elude us.

The second point I want to make is about the amending formula. The conventional wisdom, and I do not disagree with it, about the failure of the Meech Lake process was that it was 11 old men in a dark room disposing of the nation's fate. Everybody agreed that a new process would have to be developed, and I have no trouble with that. I think a hearing process such as you are conducting is very useful, but let us understand that the new Constitution we are going to make has to be made on the basis of the 1982 amending formula. There is no other amending formula.

The trouble with that amending formula is it requires either seven or 10 legislatures and the Parliament of Canada to introduce identical resolutions in their legislatures and Parliament for approval which must all be introduced and passed within a three-year period.

That was what led Mr Mulroney to talk, perhaps unwisely, about the seamless web. He recognized that if every Legislature made a change, there would not be in the time frame sufficient time to get the whole exercise going, because there was not an amendment feedback loop that would move an amendment proposed in Manitoba or British Columbia or Nova Scotia or Newfoundland into the Ontario Legislature automatically. But that is the formula with which we are going to have to work.

What that will mean is that at some stage, sooner or later, the seven premiers -- or 10, if the veto has to be dealt with, and the Prime Minister -- who are prepared to initiate such legislation in their legislatures are going to have to agree on the terms of that legislation.

I have grave doubt about whether that can be done in a public forum, but if you want to do it in a public forum, by all means try. I think it will be very difficult for our Premier or any other to face the fact that some of his proposals inevitably are going to be abandoned or watered down in a public forum. That is just human nature. That is not the despicable nature of politicians. Any agreement and any consensus, whether it is a matrimonial agreement or whatever it is, ultimately has to have a private stage so that people can make accommodations without looking foolish or unprincipled.

You may not like that, but that is the law of life and we may as well face up to it. Sooner or later our government in Ontario in combination with the other governments in Canada is going to have to agree on resolutions identical in form that will be introduced and passed within a three-year period. I simply draw that to your attention -- that is not something I like; it is something the Constitution requires -- to remind you that while we want to have as open a process as we can in this initial stage, at a certain stage there is going to have to be agreement. The phrase "seamless web" will never and should never be used, but there will have to be an identity of purpose in support of identical resolutions if the three-year time frame is to be possible.

The third thing, and really the last substantial thing I want to refer to if I can heighten the sense of urgency, is the importance of a sense of a compromise. I understand those people from whom you hear, including the former Premier of Manitoba, saying they would like this and they would like that and they would like the other thing or they do not like this and they do not like that. It is very important to get a sense of what people think, but the real question for most of us in Canada is, what are the things on our shopping list that we will give up?

I want to tell you, if you are going to seek compromise among 10 provinces and a federal government, you are talking about your second or third choices as a practical matter and not your first choices. I am not saying you should not put your first choices forward; of course you should. The essence of compromise is surrendering something. As you have heard today, and I am sure you have heard it a hundred times, if we are to make an accommodation with Quebec and with the western provinces, we are going to have to take our second and third choices and learn to love them. If we are not prepared to do that, we risk the integrity of the country, because the notion that nine provinces can survive and maintain an equalization structure for the country is, in my opinion, hopelessly remote.

I will give you an example of the kinds of choices you, as a committee in the government, are going to have to begin to make. I have spent 30 years opposing anybody who sought to include property rights in the Constitution. I think I have some understanding from looking at the American authorities about what property rights may do to a lot of values that I regard as significant and important in the country. But let me tell you, if that was the breakpoint, I would learn to live with property rights in the Constitution to save this country even though I have devoted my whole life against it, because I believe that if that is the price we pay for Canada, and I hope it will not be, it is a price I am prepared to pay.

I think one of the things the committee has to do is to help the government by beginning to make those hard choices, informally at first and then hopefully in the next couple of months in a concrete way. One of the things I hope the committee will consider doing is this: You have been out across the province hearing what people say and it was proposed, no doubt, that you should go out again to hear what they say about this round of proposals. I think much more important than that is to try and build compromises which will provide you with some kind of political support as you come to make these hard choices. It is going to be very difficult to do. It is really an educational process. Everybody in this room knows that if this country is to be saved, a "distinct society" clause has to be in the proposals.


What we had better do is get out there, not asking our constituents whether they would like it in the Constitution because many of them would not, but saying to them, "This is going to be in the Constitution, I want you to support us none the less." That educational exercise has not begun in an effective way yet and has to begin now.

Those are the three things I wanted to say to the committee because I have a sense that we are spinning our wheels at the present time, notwithstanding the best will in the world that the hard choices we have to make in a very short time frame are not being made. The committee should begin the exercise of making those choices. The government should begin the exercise of making those choices so that in the next couple of months the government of Ontario, as all preceding governments have done, will be able to say: "This is where we stand on constitutional renewal. Much of it is unpalatable perhaps, much of it is designed to accommodate not ourselves so much as the interest of others, but this is where we are prepared to stand and we ask the public of Ontario to support us."

That is really all I had to say. If there are any questions I would be glad to answer them.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Thank you for coming.

Mr Scott: She asks me questions every day.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I would really like you to talk a little bit about the social charter. That seems to be new to this round. Perhaps you know it was part of other rounds that I am not aware of. I would like you to comment on what Mr Pawley said regarding the balance between economic union and social charter.

Mr Scott: I am not going to help you, Mrs O'Neill.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Is that new?

Mr Scott: That may not be new and it is not because I do not want to. I have my own views about the social charter and maybe I will help you this much by saying I see no harm in it and I would not oppose it, but I do not think it matters what I think about the social charter. I do not think it matters what you think about it -- forgive me -- I do not think it matters even what Bob Rae thinks about it. What matters is whether there are going to be enough provinces in the country that will support it at the end of the day to make it a viable proposal. That is the issue with which we have to begin to grapple. If the Premier were to tell me, "Look, I think I am going to line up seven provinces behind this," I would say, "Fine."

That is the issue. I can sit down today and draft a perfect Constitution for you. The fact that no other province would accept it and the federal government would not like it makes it a completely idle exercise. We are in a consensus brokerage situation and we might as well face it. So my view about the social charter is that I do not think it is going to wash, but I am not opposed to it. One thing I am concerned about, on the part of all governments, Quebec, Ontario and all the others, I am very leery about governments saying in advance what their conditions precedent are.

Is Ontario saying, "I can't tell"? I am not saying this critically, but when you say that aboriginal rights are a condition precedent, or a social charter is a condition precedent, or this or that is a condition precedent, you are setting yourself up for a fall, are you not? If it is part of the ultimate deal, if it is the deal that makes the country, fine, but if it is not part of the deal that other provinces can live with, then you have a terrible moment because you either have to destroy the pact and say, "We will not deal with you if you do not buy our condition precedent," or you have to turn around to the people to whom you made the promise and say, "There were bigger fish to fry, my friends, and I am terribly sorry we did not do what we told you we would do."

That is why I think we should all be very careful about getting out in front with the conditions precedent expressed in those terms. There is nothing wrong with saying we would like this or we would like that, but it seems to me it would be an act of foolhardiness for anybody at this stage to say, "I am prepared to wreck the country if this or that is not included in the Constitution," because you may be asked at the end of the day either to do that or to eat your words.

If the social charter sells, I am all in favour of it. If it does not, I can live with that too.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: You did help me, Mr Scott, as usual.

The Chair: Mr Harnick, do you have any questions? If not, we will move to Mr Malkowski.

Mr Malkowski: I like that idea of compromise when we are looking at the time lines and talking about the amending formula, how time is drawing near. In 1982 you were talking about that amending formula; some provinces at that time were not willing to make the compromise. I am sure that Ontario now is looking at a compromise position and we are looking at an educational process so we get the support of the people. Do you think it is possible to get the agreement of all provinces if we are flexible and if we are willing to compromise?

Mr Scott: I think it is possible if there is a heightened sense of urgency and if we work extremely quickly, but I do not think it is going to be popular. That is a misfortune but, in my opinion, that is the reality. The position of Ontario is going to have to accommodate a major measure of Senate reform which will dilute the numerical power of Ontario. It is going to have to include a "distinct society" provision, in my respectful guess, which goes further than the one in the present federal proposals. That will not be popular in Ontario. It will have to involve some significant decentralization of federal power either on the economic front or on the social front, and perhaps both. I do not think that will be particularly popular in Ontario.

If you are looking, Mr Malkowski, for something that will accommodate all interests in Canada and be largely popular in any one of the provincial communities, I do not think you are going to find it. That is what a compromise is. A compromise is everybody's second or third choice. It is not a compromise if you get everything you want. To think there is some kind of consensus in this divided and beaten country at the present time is, I think, naïve.

The good news is that this is why you are going to be statesmen instead of politicians. What is the difference between a politician and a statesman? A politician does, theoretically and according to the textbook, what his constituents want. A statesman leads his or her constituents to a better objective by active leadership.

The active leadership, as Mr Pawley will tell you, is painful. The active leadership, as Mr Blakeney would have told you when he was routed from office in 1982, is painful, but you do it in the interests of the country. As my career is over, you can probably say: "Who is he to say this? We are all young," but that is life.


Mr Curling: When this committee went to the Northwest Territories and to Manitoba, Charles Harnick asked a question that took people by surprise. He asked: "What if Ontario or Quebec is not in the federation? How do we see Canada? Could Canada exist in that way?" It took them by surprise, they had never even considered that. People talk about the Canada round. Is this not really the Quebec round, because regardless of what we do, regardless of what compromises we make, if Quebec is not a part of this the whole thing breaks down?

Mr Scott: I regard the Meech Lake round as an effort that I think Mr Pawley correctly identified as the Quebec round. It was an effort to bring in the single provincial institutional player that had been left out in the 1982 round. The Quebec round theory, which was attractive to all those who accepted the conventional wisdom, obviously did not work. People said, "You're not going to have a Quebec round if you leave us out," and that is why we are into this round that is much more complex than the Meech Lake round ever was. It is because at the end of the day two provinces did not approve the Langevin formula.

Ms Carter: I was interested that you brought up the time aspect of it. The only time I remember that being discussed previously, although of course I have not been on this committee very long, was when we were in Winnipeg on one leg of the trip west that we took not too long ago. That was emphasized at that meeting and there was even a suggestion that there just might not be enough time and that maybe we should come to some kind of a general agreement to leave out certain things there was not time to deal with and come back to them later. I would be interested in your comments as to whether that is a way out, whether it is possible, or whether if you said, "We'll defer this and this question until later," the opposition would be so great and so vocal that you would not in fact be able to do that.

Also, I noticed in the press in the last day or two a suggestion that Bourassa might call an early election to get in front of all of this, and I wondered how you thought that would affect the issue.

Mr Curling put part of my question. I can see the rest of Canada maybe compromising and getting together, but we still have to sell it to Quebec. It seems to me that maybe they have not really thought through properly what the alternatives to coming to an agreement are, what is going to happen if they go out on their own and whether we should not be engaging in some kind of publicity or, if you like, propaganda initiative to make sure that does not happen.

Mr Scott: First of all, I am an expert at calling an early election to get all this ahead of you. I do not think Premier Bourassa is going to be unaware of other experiences, but I think the reality he confronts in his province is very real. It may change from day to day and over the months. People tell me that the federalist forces look a little stronger now than they did three months ago and they will probably be telling me three months from now they look a little weaker than they do now, but that is the reality.

The reality is that Quebec élites and Quebec institutional thinkers have thought quite thoroughly about the prospect of independence. That does not mean they all support it, but they understand it. They have thought about it more thoroughly, I think, than the people of Ontario have thought about the consequences of their independence, and it seems to me that this referendum is almost inevitable; it cannot be avoided. If it is almost inevitable, if it is lost to the federalist side, you will see that the game gets even tougher. The exercise becomes even tougher than it is now.

Everybody said -- and they were right -- that the round following the Meech Lake failure would be tougher than Meech Lake, and it is. Things you would not buy in Meech Lake you are going to be asked to buy in the federal proposals. I am telling you that if a referendum occurs and the result is negative, even marginally negative, the round that follows the referendum is going to be even harder.

The other difficulty is that there are not two federalist political parties in Quebec. They do not have the luxury that we have in Ontario of having, at last count, three federalist political parties. They have one and a defeat for that one is fatal to our cause for the time being.

The other factor is of course that even if that federalist party is not yet defeated but perceives defeat on the horizon, it will be driven into the arms of those who advance a less federalist proposition, so I think that timetable is critical. I find it very difficult to see how it can be avoided. I think it is the obligation not only of the federal government, which has presented its proposals, but of the provinces to begin to present theirs to say where they stand.

We all hoot and holler about the federal government, but to its credit -- and I do not give it much credit in life -- at least it has provided a series of proposals. We have not and we are going to have to do so. We had better get at it. I do not think there is much time. I think if we got a series of proposals out that were saleable in English Canada and met the needs of Quebec, then that would significantly alter the prospect of a referendum.

You had a third question but I have forgotten it. I am sorry, Mrs Carter. Maybe that is enough from me for you.

The Chair: I am just wondering if Mr Offer or Mr Eves or Mr Harnick had any questions they would like to raise. If not, that is fine. We will go to Mr Winninger.

Mr Winninger: I believe my question about the feasibility of reaching a successful conclusion within these tight time constraints has already been asked. I would just like to say, though, when you sit down to draft that perfect Constitution I hope you do at least as good a job as you did when you drafted the terms of reference for a certain inquiry during the last year of your mandate.

Mr Scott: What makes you think I drafted either of those things? But I will leave that. The point I made about my drafting the Constitution is a point simply designed to encourage this government and this committee to understand that they are not going to be able to draft a Constitution, because what you want to go into that Constitution is not going to be supported by enough people in every instance. That is why some kind of brokerage exercise, out in the open if you think you can do it, but more likely not in the open, is going to have to be undertaken. There will be some downsides to that, but it is very unlikely that there is going to be a second choice.

Whatever our local critics may think of us as we discharge day by day the daily business of government, they will never forgive us in the long run if we do not have the courage, and that really means the guts and the ability, to put our reputation and our status and our role on the line to save the country.


Mr Bisson: Because you have been in this Legislature for the number of years you have been and serving the people of this province, I was interested in when you talked about the difference between a statesman and a politician. I know what you are alluding to, but I want you to clarify something because it troubles me a little bit in the face of what we heard through our whole deliberations with the committee when we travelled the province, and just as recently as last weekend when we met with 130 Ontarians to discuss various issues around the Constitution. On the one hand you are saying -- and I tend to agree with you up to a certain extent -- that in the end politicians have to have the courage to go out and be able to tell Canadians or Ontarians the positions we are going to have to take at the end with regard to the Constitution. I guess in the end that is what it is going to come down to.

You also said that the federal government at least has come down with a set of proposals it has put to Canadians to reflect on and have an idea where the federal government is coming from. But the one thing I think we heard through all the deliberations of witnesses who came before us, some 600, one of the biggest things, was the whole question of process where Ontarians talked about the Constitution being a document of the people, that the people should have some input so that at least the politicians are speaking the same language and not necessarily the statesmen.

I imagine there has to be some balance in that. There is a question of process we need to go through because it is a much more educated society that we have today on the part of the people of our province or our country. But being politicians, we do have to listen to what people are telling us and then we have to turn that into a certain amount of education. I know in the work that we did on the committee, just in closing, some of the positions this committee took were a direct result of what people came and presented to this committee. Without that input there are points that would have eluded us altogether. A lot of people brought a lot of good ideas, if you can elaborate a little bit more on that, because I have some difficulty.

Mr Scott: I do not think there is a consensus in this country and I do not think you are going to find a consensus even in Ontario. It is almost as if the committee going out there hearing things is waiting for a consensus to emerge that it can adopt to solve the problems. "We have listened; we have heard." This thing is taking shape and all of a sudden, "Thank God you've removed the obligation of us making any choices because it has emerged fully formed." I do not think that consensus exists now in the country and I do not think it will exist in the time frame that is permissible.

I exclude Ontario for these purposes, but there simply is not a consensus in the country around the distinct society, even with its remote or potential implications for the charter. You can search from now till doomsday, and at least in the present time frame there is not going to be a consensus around that. The Quebeckers have one view and a large number -- they may not be a majority -- of English Canadians have another view. I believe that if we simply coast on the search for consensus it is going to elude us. It is looking for something that really is not there. What we have to do is create it, and the way you create it is by making choices and selling those choices.

One of the things I think we should do in Ontario -- our Premier has come very close to it; he has not done it yet but he has come very close to it in some of his speeches -- sooner or later someone is going to have to say, "Look, the debate about that `distinct society' clause is over. To govern is to choose and we are choosing to support that," then build a consensus around that, which will not include everybody. Lots of my constituents think that the "distinct society" clause is a crock whether it is defined in the Mulroney proposals or the Meech Lake proposals, but sooner or later I think we have to begin to make the choices, and if you want them to be done in a public way, it seems to me we should do them in a public way.

To what extent are we prepared to accept decentralization? You can go and hear people on that from now till the end of the year 2000 and I do not think you will find a consensus. Someone is going to have to decide for us.

The Chair: Thank you very much. Mrs O'Neill. This is the last question.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Thank you, Mr Scott. You were not among us on the weekend. I want to reinforce what you have just said, but I am sure you have read or at least seen reports of Mr Rae's speech. He was very strong that Thursday evening about what distinct society meant to him.

That was a difficult discussion group. I wandered through those discussion groups and there was one particular individual whom I remember distinctly. I do not mean to use that word twice in different forms, but he came with the very strong idea that there was no way he could support this. In the end, although not with full support, he certainly understood the issue better. In the end, I think if we look at the three things we agreed on, distinct society was one that meant many things to many people, but I think that is a perfect example of what you have just said.

Mr Scott: I was not present at your meetings. What did you agree on about the relationship between distinct society and the Charter of Rights?

Mrs Y. O'Neill: There was just the acceptance of the concept of "distinct society."

Mr Scott: So you have not yet dealt with the issue upon which everything turns. I do not understand anybody to have a complaint about a recital that you are a distinct society as long as it does not mean anything.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I think we came to the agreement that we could accept the definition in the federal proposals.

Mr Scott: I took that to be a given even in our own communities. The issue, as you will remember from the Meech Lake round, was the question about the extent to which the presence of this phrase could be used by the court in interpreting how the existing powers of the legislature of Quebec -- no new powers -- were to be utilized, and that is where the issue broke down. It would be interesting to hear what your conference had to say about that, because that of course is the breakpoint in this debate.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I must confess that the Charter of Rights is the one workshop I did not get to, but we will see from the report.

Mr Scott: Somebody has to begin the exercise of saying, "I'm sorry, this is a wonderful idea but it isn't going into the Constitution because it can't be sold to enough provinces and enough people across the country," and "I'm sorry, this item is a wonderful idea and better luck next round, but that is not going to achieve appropriate support either."

This is why I am very suspicious of exercises where everybody puts in their lists and we create the impression that we will certainly listen to all that. There is nothing wrong with listening, but sooner or later we have to begin to make decisions. That is the government's responsibility, and we want to help it, because I know we want to be non-partisan on this. Those decisions have to be made and they are going to be tough, and for politicians they are going to be uneasy because they are not all going to be popular.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I think the other idea that came through the conference, and certainly through Mr Rae and the two opposition leaders, was that they must take a leadership role on unity because of the alternative. I think your opening remarks, although not exactly what they said, would have been comfortable with all three of them. I think you are right, and that has to be reinforced and reiterated day after day, because there seems to be this complacency. One of the three, I am not sure which, stated that the complacency was our worst enemy.

Mr Scott: But the process has to begin. If you want it to occur in public, it seems to me it would begin in public. You can wait until the conference, which will probably not be in public, and then the premiers will emerge with what they have agreed on, or you can begin to make the decisions now. For example, where do we stand on Senate reform? Western Canadians want to know that. This is the thing they are talking about. Senate reform is a very difficult issue for Ontarians because we are nine million people in this country and Senate reform is a regional representation system that is not directly consistent, in so far as its power is concerned, with popular democracy.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I am sure you would want to be correct. It is nine million people in this province.

Mr Scott: How many do we have?

Mrs Y. O'Neill: You said in this country.

Mr Scott: I meant in this province.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I know, but the westerners are very touchy about us calling ourselves a country or thinking we are.

Mr Scott: If anybody is watching this on television, this will get me into a lot of trouble back home because people will say: "You are not interested in consulting and you are not interested in doing what I want you to do. You have your own ideas and who the hell do you think you are anyway?"

I think we are at a stage where politicians, having been elected and having got the support of their communities, have to begin the business of taking hard decisions. Hard decisions sometimes mean things like raising taxes to pay for services we provide to people or cutting back on non-essential services. I wish we had a political environment in which every decision to be taken was easy and pleasant, but that is not the job. We have all learned that and we might as well get started on it.

The Chair: Mr Scott, I want to thank you very much on behalf of the select committee for coming here and helping us to look at some of these questions. You have certainly challenged us with some of your views.

I would like to ask the committee members to stay, and we will move into closed session to deal with some housekeeping issues now.

The committee continued in camera at 1721.