31e législature, 4e session

L042 - Wed 7 May 1980 / Mer 7 mai 1980

The House met at 2 p.m.




Resuming the adjourned debate on the constitutional resolution.

Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to speak to the members of this Legislature and to Canadians everywhere about the future of my country. As Treasurer and Minister of Economics I will naturally talk about the economic benefits of Confederation, but I want to begin on a more personal note.

I lived in Quebec for nine years. I visit there often. I was married there. I feel at home in Quebec, both with the land and with the people. I want to continue to make those visits as a Canadian, mingling with Canadians.

Je porte dans ma mémoire des images de cette province et de ce peuple. Ces images remontent à quand j’avais 15 ans et quand je me promenais dans les montagnes de St-Sauveur-des-Montagnes, alors que je travaillais au Young Men’s Christian Association. C’est à ce moment-là que j’ai appris mes premiers mots de français, que je les ai prononcés avec hésitation et avec une mauvaise prononciation.

J’ai également des images de quand j’étais étudiant à McGill University, pendant ma première année à St-Jean d’Iberville sur la rivière Richelieu. C’est là où j’ai eu mes premiers contacts quotidiens avec les Québécois dans leur propre langue. Et c’est là où j’ai appris à aimer et à respecter leur joie de vivre et leur amitié.

Une autre image est celle de mon premier voyage à ma nouvelle maison à Arvida au Québec, alors que je conduisais à travers les montagnes sur la route 54, à travers le magnifique Parc des Laurentides au nord de la ville de Québec.

Les souvenirs des grands sapins couverts de neige me rappellent les mots de cette chanson québécoise,

Mon pays, ce n’est pas un pays

C’est l’hiver.

Mon jardin, ce n’est pas un jardin

C’est la plaine.

Mon chemin, ce n’est pas un chemin

C’est la neige.

Mon pays, ce n’est pas un pays

C’est l’hiver.

De mon grand pays solitaire, je crie

Avant que de me taire,

A tous les hommes de la terre

Ma maison c’est votre maison.

Entre ces quatre murs de glace

Je mets mon temps et mon espace

A préparer le feu, la place

Pour les humains de l’horizon.

Et les humains sont de ma race.

Pour que notre pays survive, il faut que tous les Canadiens croient en son avenir. Il survivra parce qu’on est fier d’être Canadien.

As Canadians, we are allowed to share in a richness that cannot be measured in dollars and cents. I am speaking of our cultures, our languages, our unique view of the world. These have been nourished by our history and guaranteed by our national will and our economic strength as a nation. Break us apart, and we all lose. That is reality, no matter what we hear in the war of statistics.

Canada is more than a simple sum of costs and benefits. It is more than a language. It is an affection for and understanding of the land and the people, developed through generations. It is history and traditions. I believe these traditions forge much stronger links between us than our differences.

Quebecois and Ontarians fought for responsible government in 1837. We worked together for Confederation in 1867. We now face an uncertain future. Change is inevitable and necessary for all of us, but can there be co-operation and friendship in a country that has been divided? No. Just as Quebecois want change, Ontarians do too. But we want it done within Confederation and with Quebec.

In helping that change occur, we in Ontario, like Quebecois, have a special role to play. That is to a large degree because of our close and long-standing relationship with the people of Quebec. We are neighbours in the valley of the St. Lawrence. Ontarians and Quebeckers have shared in the development and growth of Canada. As the needs and aspirations of our people in Canada have changed, we here have accepted and endorsed the need for constitutional change. There is a basis for change within Confederation. There is a deeply felt commitment to our Canada and to understanding each other.

As Sir John A. Macdonald once said, our country is a triumph of politics over geography. He could have added, and over economics. But perhaps our true feelings and our commitment to change have not been understood in Quebec because we have exhibited our normal reticence here in Ontario about expressing our strong emotional feelings about our country and its future.

As I listened to speaker after speaker in the last few days saying sometimes the things I am trying to say, it struck me that perhaps for the first time we here were trying to express our feelings as a group and perhaps repetition is a very important part of this process.

I am talking about a continuing process of change in Canada -- not just a new suit of clothes, but a new style of dressing. Canada is going to survive as a nation because we accept each of our founding nations’ rights and aspirations and because we accept the need and inevitability of the change in these rights and aspirations.

Je ne dis pas qu’il n’y aura pas de discussions futures, que l’engagement des Québécois envers le Canada dans une référendum réglera tous les problèmes. Non. Nous sommes beaucoup trop réalistes ici pour croire ca: d’ailleurs vous l’êtes également au Québec.

La guerre des chiffres peut continuer, et continuer, et continuer. Les ministres peuvent se lever et réfuter d’autres ministres avec d’autres statistiques. L’Ontario peut prouver que le Québec perdra plus d’emplois que l’Ontario s’il se sépare. Mais qu’est-ce que ça signifie? En fait, nous serons tous perdants avec un Québec indépendant et un Canada séparé et divisé. Mais il y a autre chose qui est beaucoup plus difficile à décrire qui sera perdue avec une séparation, et ce sont les liens qui existent entre les citoyens et les liens qui existent entre les régions. Je dis ça parce que nous avons présentement un pays qui est viable et prospère économiquement et qui serait affaibli par le souveraineté-association. Séparer le Québec du Canada ne pourra permettre que de limiter l’économie du Québec. Toutes ces discussions de changements constitutionnels, de gains et de pertes économiques ne signifieront rien quand viendra le moment où les Québécois devront faire leur choix le 20 mai.

Ce qui comptera, c’est qu’ils ressentent profondément leur engagement à leur identité canadienne et québécoise, et qu’ils sentent qu’ils sont désirés, qu’ils sont nécessaires, et qu’ils sont protégés a l’intérieur de l’économie canadienne.

2:10 p.m.

I love my country. I do not want to change it through division. I want the people of Quebec to know that I respect and accept their culture and their language. I want them to know that I believe we are all richer for that culture and language and that I will do what I can, as a Canadian citizen, to protect them, knowing that they in turn will protect my rights as they have done in the past when I lived in that province.

Je fais appel à tous les Canadiens de prendre la voie plus élevée de la compréhension et de l’amitié, pour que tous les Québécois sachent que le pays a besoin d’eux, pour que ce pays soit plus prospère et plus épanoui, et je veux qu’ils sachent que, s’ils votent non le 20 mai, ça ne signifiera pas que le reste du Canada se détendra et croira que le danger est passé et qu’on peut les ignorer.

Je veux qu’ils sachent qu’à ce moment-là, en tant que frères canadiens, nous travaillerons ensemble pour régler les nombreux problèmes des dix provinces canadiennes dans la coopération et dans l’unité.

I am going to repeat those last few words again in English. I appeal to all Canadians to take the higher road of understanding and friendship, to let Quebecois know that our country needs them in it to be the great place it is. I want them to know that if they vote no on May 20, it does not mean that the rest of Canada will suddenly take them for granted and say, “The danger is past; let’s ignore them.” I want them to know that we will then, as fellow Canadians, work together to solve the many problems of the 10 Canadian provinces in co-operation and in unity.

Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to participate in the Confederation debate and to start my remarks by saying that I am not only proud to be a Canadian, but I am also proud to be a Canadian farmer. It should not come as any surprise that I am going to talk about the farmer and sovereignty-association. I wish to pay recognition to a former leader of a strong national farm organization, Mr. Gleave, for contributing to the thoughts which I wish to express at this crucial time in our history.

Canada is one of the most fortunate countries in the world today when it comes to food production. There are only four countries in the world that export more food than they import, and we are one of those countries. We have five times more farm land per capita in Canada than the world average. Although we have only about three per cent of the farm land, we produce up to six per cent of the world’s wheat and barley, almost 12 per cent of the oats and a solid two per cent of the meat and milk.

There is no question that agriculture is the backbone of the Canadian economy. Canada produces almost 100 per cent of the pork, beef and poultry consumed by Canadians. We are not only self-sufficient in dairy products, but a major exporter as well. Agricultural products account for 12 per cent of Canada’s exports. In 1978, it amounted to more than $5.3 billion.

Agriculture is a common heritage shared by all Canadians regardless of where one lives in this great country. We all know that Alberta has oil, Saskatchewan has potash and Ontario and Quebec have industry, but agriculture has no provincial boundaries. It spans the country and, as such, it represents one very basic and essential thread upon which our nation not only was founded and settled but also continued to grow.

Each region in Canada produces in kind and amount what its soils and weather will permit. Canada is one of the five leading wheat producers in the world and the second largest wheat exporter. Most of this production comes from the Prairies, which contains 79 per cent of Canada’s farm land. The annual wheat production of the Prairies of between 600 million and 700 million bushels is approximately three times more than Canadians consume. Potatoes are the most important vegetable crop produced in Canada, and here the maritime provinces are the major producers, accounting for 43 per cent of the Canadian potato harvest. Ontario has specialized crops, such as fruit and vegetables, in the more southerly regions and has, by far, the largest number of commercial livestock farms, as well as being second only to Quebec in the number of dairy farms.

In 1977-78, Quebec produced two billion pounds more of dairy products than it consumed.

In the Atlantic region, mixed farming in general and forage crops support a healthy livestock industry. The Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia is famous for fruit, particularly apples.

The most westerly region, British Columbia, has only two per cent of its area in agriculture, but it is Canada’s largest producer of apples. The Okanagan Valley is also noted for tree fruits, such as peaches, plums and cherries.

The result of this production, for the country as a whole, is a range of agricultural products that satisfies practically all the food requirements of the Canadian people. The fact that Canadians spend only about 14 per cent of their income on the food they eat at home is a big tribute to how good our entire food system is in Canada.

The Canadian farmer is perhaps the most unifying common force throughout this land. It was the farmers who first settled this country. Agriculture, and the agricultural way of life, have provided the stabilizing and constructive force in society. Canadian farmers and Canadian agriculture make up a vital part of the fabric of what we call Canada.

We have every nationality represented. We have the Irish, the English, the French, the Germans, the Dutch, the Ukrainians, the Jewish people and most other nationalities. All of them speak one language, and that language is food. No matter whether you are talking to a Quebec farmer, an Ontario farmer, or an Albertan, they all have similar concerns. They are worried about bad weather at harvest time, rising inflation, high input costs, low prices and the increasing difficulty of making farming a profitable business.

No matter how tough times may be, however, the farmer will fight to keep his farm because it is still the best way of life.

Within Canada, the gradual move from free agricultural trade to managed trade has raised the farmer from the poverty level, but the transition has been a difficult one. It could be even more difficult to hold the gains if Canada divides into associated states.

In developing the option of sovereignty-association, the Parti Quebecois and the Quebec government have been talking mostly about maintaining the high level of merchandise and other trade between Quebec and Ontario. There has been occasional mention of the interest of the west, in particular, in retaining agricultural markets in Quebec under sovereignty-association in return for western markets for Quebec manufacturers.

In terms of a few major products, let us take a look at what the option might mean to the farmers of Canada and what adjustments might have to be made.

We are a country of 23 million people, and that is small as a consumer market for agricultural produce as for other things. Public policy has responded with federal marketing commissions and agencies charged with sharing the available market opportunity for much of our Canadian farm production.

The Canadian Dairy Commission, for example, was created in the early 1960s and administers a system of market sharing between producers and provinces across the country.

At Confederation, agriculture was a resource to be exploited. As it developed, it would provide markets for Canadian manufactured goods protected by the tariffs. It would provide exports to complement the fish, fur and lumber of earlier economic development. It would provide manpower for military forces if it should become necessary to protect the country against the United States. Creating a pool of manpower for defence has been part of the purpose of agricultural settlement right back to the early times of New France.

We have moved forward to ideas that give farmers a larger say in what agriculture is about.

In the Quebec white paper, for a new deal between equals, we read that Quebec “will insist that the protection and development of its agricultural production be the object of special agreements. Finally, the two states will take the necessary steps to guarantee free competition within their market and will abstain from any discriminatory fiscal measures towards each other’s products.”

How that statement can be reconciled within itself, I leave to its authors. The real problem in building the sort of association that is talked about would come in the adjustments that have to be made.

Free competition combined with mechanization in the post-war years resulted in disastrously low incomes for dairy farmers in Canada. That is why the dairy commission was created. The national agency brought market sharing and price stability.

2:20 p.m.

In 1978, Quebec supplied 48 per cent of the industrial milk market. Of the subsidy of more than $250 million paid by Canadians to the dairy industry, almost one half went to Quebec farmers, in line with their production. Under the new association, within the narrow market that is Canada, it is unlikely that 48 per cent of the dairy markets could be left in the hands of a foreign country. Some adjustment would have to be made for sharing the market and cutting back the cost of subsidies.

Farmers on both sides of the sovereignty line would find it painful. The white paper complains that not sufficient effort was made towards expanding dairy exports for the benefit of the Quebec farmer. But as the federal Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Whelan) has said, it is difficult to increase exports of powdered milk in the face of the surplus conditions of recent years.

Canada has developed national marketing schemes for eggs, chickens and turkey broilers. The reason is the same as for dairy products: a limited market that has to be shared Canada-wide if production is to be distributed across the country. It took time and effort; it was not easy. But eventually the necessary legislation was put in place, federally and provincially, and associations of producers worked out procedures.

With Quebec out, the fabric will be torn. How would it be put together again? Will all the provinces be ready to share part of the remaining Canadian market for eggs, chicken and turkey broilers, and dairy products, for which export markets outside Canada are either very limited or nonexistent?

Quebec farmers, like all Canadian farmers, have benefited from the market-sharing agencies. At times there are breakdowns in the present system. At the moment, for example, Alberta producers are refusing to join a national agency to market chicken broilers because they see an advantage in keeping the expanding provincial market to themselves.

The problem for Quebec, after it had separated, would be to deal with a central Canadian government, whose authority and power over the remaining provinces would have been weakened by the very act of separation.

If a province like Alberta is today unwilling to sacrifice local advantage for cooperative sharing, it would be much less likely to accept the products of a foreign Quebec into a then much smaller Canadian market. Ontario farmers, with the largest urban market for farm production, could claim with reason that their local markets should not be exposed to unrestricted penetration from a Quebec which was outside Confederation.

With only two nations bargaining, one on one, there would not be the balance of several countries with a community of interests and vast consumer markets, as there is in the European Economic Community.

The white paper charges that Quebec has been made the victim of the grain trade, that production of feed grain in Quebec has been discouraged so that western grain producers may have an advantage. But do the facts bear out that contention?

Western feed grain was shipped into Quebec and the Maritimes and eastern Ontario during the Second World War as part of a policy to increase food production in eastern Canada and to supply Great Britain and the armed forces. Federal transport subsidies were paid on feed grains. At the same time, however, subsidies were paid on fertilizers and lime to encourage farmers in those regions to increase their own production of cereal and forage crops. The transport subsidies on grain were continued after the war, largely at the insistence of dealers and livestock and poultry producers in Quebec and the Maritimes.

The Canadian Livestock Feed Board was established under the Department of Agriculture to ensure feed supplies and services to Quebec and the eastern provinces. Freight subsidies have been reduced in recent years. At the same time, the federal government established subsidies to assist Quebec, Ontario and the Maritimes to increase their feed grain production. Over five years, $48 million was provided to develop grain production, storage and elevator facilities in order to complement provincial efforts to expand local production of feed grain. Of the total, $33.5 million is going to Quebec, $13 million to Ontario and $1.5 million to British Columbia. In 1976-77, Quebec depended on sources outside the province for 67.1 per cent of its feed supply, compared to 73 per cent in 1972-73. Feed grain production is increasing with the help of provincial subsidies, as well as newly developed cereal and corn varieties. Hog production has grown rapidly in Quebec. The province has replaced Alberta as Canada’s second hog producer after Ontario. This would surely indicate that Canada’s feed grain policies have not discriminated against Quebec producers.

With feed production also increasing in Quebec, the province is close to the major urban markets in central Canada. Its farmers do not face either tariff or transport barriers. It is difficult to see how the relatively open market operation that now exists could be improved by new political arrangements.

I have attempted to deal with only a few of the many items that would be considered in sovereignty-association negotiations. Agriculture in Canada, in some of its aspects, such as dairy and poultry, has moved past the stage of control at the border through tariff and nontariff barriers. We are in an area of quotas and supply management agencies operating throughout Canada for some products. How or whether these could be adjusted to the sovereignty-association concept is crucial.

The marketing of farm production has been one of the most difficult problems of the common market countries of Europe. Even with their balance in numbers and their huge internal markets, surpluses in dairy products have been unmanageable at times. Millions of dollars have been spent subsidizing exports of milk powder, and more millions on exports of grain. The United States has complained bitterly that the international trade in grain is distorted by the levy and subsidy system used by the European Economic Community to dispose of its surplus grain.

There is no reason to suppose that agricultural arrangements in a Canada divided by a sovereignty-association state would be easier to reach, or more effective when reached. There is reason to believe that the balance of the Canadian association and the sharply different political composition of the two partners, a unitary state and a federation, would make agreements more difficult. The problem for Quebec would be to deal with a central government whose authority and power over the remaining provinces would have been weakened by the very act of separation.

The other provinces, which contain some of the largest urban markets for farm production, could rightly argue that they did not want their local markets to be exposed to a Quebec which was outside of Confederation.

During the past 10 years, Canada has been able to provide agricultural assistance to 72 needy countries. We have established a reputation for ourselves as a leader in the vital task of feeding a hungry world. World population is rising at an annual rate of 2.5 per cent. While it took man more than a million years to reach the one-billion mark, it took only 15 years to reach the four-billion mark, and a world population of five billion is just around the corner. We are entering a decade in which food will be as important an issue as was energy in the 1970s. In the 1980s we will fully appreciate, for the first time, how much of the prosperity of this country we owe to our agricultural base. Countries such as Canada, which manage to produce more food than they consume, will have an increasing role to play in determining future world food security, and a moral role in removing famine from the face of the earth.

It is imperative that the people of Canada stay together and work together, not only for the common good of Canada, but for the very major role which we have to play in bringing about world peace. Sovereignty-association is not in the best interest of Quebec or Canada. We stand firm in our resolve that we will not negotiate sovereignty-association and that we will regard a no vote as a signal to begin the process of renewing Canadian federalism, a process that we are eager to undertake with Quebec, the other provinces and the federal government.

Mr. Bounsall: Mr. Speaker, I rise to address this assembly this afternoon very conscious of both the unique opportunity and awesome responsibility that we, as legislators of Ontario, now have to make our contribution to preserving the unity of Canada.

I fully endorse the first major clause of the resolution here before this chamber:

“That we the Legislative Assembly of Ontario commit ourselves, as our highest priority, to support full negotiation of a new constitution to satisfy the diverse aspirations of all Canadians and to replace the status quo which is clearly unacceptable.”

In this high resolve to which we are committing ourselves, this debate is the beginning, the first tentative step. But I feel pessimistic; I think it is too late to influence the outcome of the referendum vote in Quebec, and our actions here in Ontario in the past and, indeed, to this day, have been too little and too grudgingly taken.

2:30 p.m.

The Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs said in the opening address of this debate: “Actions and deeds are more important than words.” If we hoped by our actions and deeds to assure our sisters and brothers in Quebec that they could retain their language and culture within Canada and feel at home outside Quebec, Ontario should already have made unequivocal and dramatic gestures. These gestures that have not been taken, but should have been taken, are the declaration and adoption of French as an official language in Ontario, the formation as a right of French-language school boards in Ontario, and an assured end to the length of the struggles to obtain French-language secondary schools which have occurred in Penetanguishene, Essex, Sturgeon Falls and Cornwall.

These gestures, had they been taken, would have touched the hearts and souls of our brothers and sisters in Quebec and shown them that we are serious and sensitive in embracing their hopes and their aspirations. In Penetanguishene, the agreement -- in principle only -- was reached on April 23 last, so short a time ago and with so many questions still unanswered and so many questions yet to be negotiated.

Is the cafeteria to become a lunchroom only? In what year will the music program become operative? There is already agreement to share the expensive facilities of the electronics, machine and auto mechanic shops with Penetanguishene Secondary School, but will industrial arts in the lower years be granted to Ecole Secondaire Penetanguishene? By that, I mean the drafting, metalwork, electricity and woodworking shops and home economics and food service facilities. All these are necessary for a viable secondary program in the new French school.

As well, will the Simcoe County Board of Education be allowed to persist in offering the existing French courses in the mixed program in Penetanguishene Secondary School as announced by the principal on May 2, just last Friday? The continuation of this bilingual program could undermine and seriously threaten the future success of Ecole Secondaire Penetanguishene.

It is difficult to lift our sights beyond the immediacy of the Quebec referendum of May 20, but I feel very strongly that we must now think beyond that day and propose what we, as Ontarians, wish to see in a new Canadian constitution, a constitution that will serve us for another century and beyond. Our proposals will be negotiable, of course, but we must decide in as many areas as possible what we wish to place on that negotiating table. No doubt this will be one task of our select committee.

As education spokesman for the New Democratic Party in this chamber, I venture to suggest what I and our party wish to see concerning education and language rights in that constitution, which we hope will stand the test of time. First of all, it is essential to recognize the reality of today and the future, that Canada is multicultural with two national languages. It is the right of every person, therefore, whenever people constitute a sufficiently large group, to receive an education in the language of his choice at the primary and secondary level under the jurisdiction of the provincial educational authority.

It is the right of every person to receive post-secondary education in either English or French. To further elaborate, any child may attend a school in his mother tongue for three years, receiving intensive instruction in either English or French, and thereafter must choose to continue his education in either French or English. Their children, however, may attend a school in their mother language without time restrictions. English- and French-speaking communities, where the need is substantiated, have the right to administer their own educational institutions under the overall jurisdiction of the provincial educational authority. By this I mean the establishment of French- and English-language school boards. The boundaries need not be contiguous; in fact, I would be surprised if they were, and I would expect the geographical size of some French boards to be much larger. For example, should the need arise in Essex county to have a French-language school board, I would expect it would be very reasonable to expand into Kent county to embrace the Paincourt area.

Our native peoples too must retain their language and culture. The Indian chiefs of Ontario propose that jurisdiction over Indian education remain with the federal government, but with ever-increasing local control by the band councils over educational moneys. The chiefs suggest the establishment of Indian educational authorities, similar to school boards with all their powers, within Indian communities. These authorities may bargain with appropriate provincial school boards to ensure that Indians receive the facilities which these boards can provide and to ensure that they receive proper representation on these school boards.

These proposals that I am suggesting should go into a new, revised federal constitution, what would they mean, in effect, for Ontario and for Quebec? These proposals would mean, for Ontario, a commitment to truly expand our French-language educational facilities and to begin and eventually complete those same facilities in all our heritage languages. For Quebec, it would mean a change from the present situation. As a right, a child could choose an education in Quebec in French or English as well as a mother tongue.

On language rights, I would propose that the legislative assemblies recognize English and French to be the official languages of the province, its Legislature, courts, schools and government services. Linguistic rights expressed in provincial statutes would include, as well as educational rights, the right of every person to receive essential health services in his or her principal language whenever numbers warrant, and the right of an accused in a criminal trial to be tried in his or her principal language whenever numbers warrant. Every English- or French-speaking person should have a right of access to educational television services in his or her mother tongue whenever the number of people seeking such services justifies it.

My mind turns to the mechanism of achieving the agreement on a new federal constitution. I am mindful of the 1865 pre-Confederation debates that occurred when the assemblies of Upper and Lower Canada met and discussed every possible topic related to their union, which finally resulted in our country, Canada.

I would suggest, and it may not be unreasonable, that the assemblies of all our provinces and territories meet in a joint session, possibly in the summer of 1981, probably at the Winnipeg Convention Centre, to discuss and negotiate our new constitution. If the size of such a meeting would be too cumbersome, there could instead be a committee from each jurisdiction fully representative of the various political parties from that jurisdiction. Because we need to become intimately acquainted with each other and fully understand our various views, I can think of no better way to resolve the differences that appear to separate us than a meeting of this sort in order to reach a new understanding of our constitution.

2:40 p.m.

I understand and appreciate very well the feeling of many Quebeckers who are voting oui in the referendum, because they have experienced economic discrimination over the years. I know of the situation that existed in the industrial plants of the 1950s and the 1960s in Quebec, where all the management was of English background and all the hourly paid plant workers were of French background. No French-speaking person could rise above the rank of foreman, no matter how bright, how capable or how responsible he was. We can all well imagine the sense of bitterness, frustration and injustice that was felt.

We can also imagine the conflict within the hearts of the young French-Canadian women who had aspirations for the better, more economically secure life that came from marrying into the English management class. Yet to do so meant joining fully the English-speaking community. To remain in their French-speaking milieu they had to marry someone who was destined to remain forever a labourer in the plant.

While studying for my PhD in London, England, I became very friendly with a French-Canadian student who was also studying for his PhD in electrical engineering and who yearned, like myself, to return to Canada upon graduation. He had received various job offers from France, Britain and the United States, but none from anywhere in Canada. I will always remember the day he burst into my lab with the news that Quebec had nationalized the hydroelectric companies in that province. Hydro-Quebec would be formed and now, finally, he would have a job prospect in Canada. Subsequently he enthusiastically accepted the only Canadian job he was offered, with Hydro-Quebec.

J’ai fait, personnellement, quatre séjours d’un à deux ans à l’étranger. Ces séjours m’ont permis de mieux apprécier le Canada et de ressentir pour mon pays un attachement profond. C’est pourquoi je désire que le Canada survive.

En 1976 et 1977, j’ai été le seul parmi les membres élus du comté d’Essex à l’Assemblée législative à appuyer publiquement, sans équivoque et sans réserve, la construction d’une école secondaire de langue française.

Mes enfants sont tous bilingues, car ils ont fréquenté l’école d’immersion, dès le début. Les deux plus jeunes, Jimmy et Becky, sont encore à l’école élémentaire Lucien Beaudouin, et Christine fréquente Lessort, la nouvelle école secondaire de langue française du comté d’Essex.

Habitant la ville frontière de Windsor, je suis particulièrement conscient du fait que c’est surtout grâce à vous, les Québécois et les francophones de l’Ontario, que c’est grâce à votre langue et votre culture, que nous sommes si différents, si uniques. C’est pourquoi je vous demande, frères et soeurs du Québec, de rester parmi nous dans un Canada uni, et de continuer à enrichir notre vie.

I do not wish to negotiate sovereignty-association with Quebec, which would be a sad discussion of how we would become divorced. Rather, I would prefer to join with Quebeckers and all other Canadians in a discussion on how to create a new, revitalized Canada. Judging from our deeds and actions in Ontario to the present, I fully understand that it will be a tremendous leap of faith for Quebeckers now to put their trust in us, but I sincerely appeal to all Quebeckers to do just that and to join with us in the challenge of building and shaping a new national constitution satisfying all our diverse and many aspirations.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, let me begin by saying je suis Canadien and by expressing the pride I feel at being able to make that statement as being one of the foundations of my journey through life. I am as proud to make that statement today as I have ever been. Yet, at the same time, that pride is touched by grave concern. As I rise to have the privilege of taking part in this historic debate, I realize too that in the long, distinguished history of this chamber no group of men and women have discussed a matter of greater importance to our province and our nation.

Canada today is at the crossroads. Do we persevere in our paramount task of working together in our quest for the best possible life for those of us privileged to live in this most civilized of countries, or do we stand back and watch the dismemberment of our country and the destruction of our nationhood? The questions before us are profoundly affected by our deepest personal sentiments about our country.

The real challenges we face are the human questions of nationhood and not the dry issues of law. On a strictly legal basis, any form of unilateral secession by a province would be unconstitutional and unlawful, but it would be fruitless to approach this challenge to our nationhood on the basis of legal technicalities. Rather, we must meet it, as a challenge to our personal commitment to nationhood and our political will to survive as a united country. The issues facing Canadians in the months and years ahead will not be settled in any court, but must be resolved politically on the basis of goodwill, sensitivity, tolerance and a clear understanding of the legitimate aspirations of all the regions of our great country.

The government of Ontario continues to be willing and anxious to pursue a strong and viable Canada with our Quebec colleagues and representatives of other governments to forge a new Confederation within our existing nation.

En tant que Procureur Général et Solliciteur Général, je me réjouis d’abord de pouvoir renouveler avec les représentants de Québec et avec nos autres provinces du Canada, les discussions sur des sujets constitutionnels ou même sur n’importe quoi d’autre qui soit d’un intérêt mutuel.

Depuis l’élection du Parti Québécois en tant que représentant de la population du Québec, de nombreux exemples de coopération intergouvernementale sur des sujets communs de préoccupation ont vu le jour.

En ma qualité de Procureur Général et de Solliciteur Général, j’ai eu nombreux échanges fort utiles et ouverts avec les membres du gouvernement du Québec.

2:50 p.m.

J’ai rencontré mon collègue, le Ministre de la Justice du Québec, à maintes reprises au cours des dernières années. Ensemble nous nous sommes efforcés de mieux reconnaître la suprématie provinciale dans des matières affectant l’administration de la justice. Il y a à peine un mois, Monsieur le Président, des membres de la Commission de la Police de l’Ontario et moi-même, nous nous sommes rendus dans la ville de Québec, où nous eûmes toute une série de réunions très positives avec la Commission de la Police du Québec sur des sujets d’intérêt mutuel et des accords bénéfiques.

Il faut que le peuple du Québec sache et comprenne que nous sommes désireux de négocier une nouvelle confédération. Que nos amis au Québec comprennent aussi que le seul point qui ne soit pas négociable est la souveraineté-association. Car nous sommes profondément convaincus dans cette province que la souveraineté-association conduirait au démembrement de notre nation.

Monsieur le Président, c’est là un chemin qu’aucun de nous dans ce parlement n’est prêt à suivre. La mise en oeuvre des services en langue française dans le domaine de la justice est un exemple frappant de notre volonté d’effectuer des changements, de notre volonté de nous départir du statu quo.

En automne 1975, quelques semaines après ma nomination au poste de Procureur Général, j’ai pris l’engagement au nom de mon Ministère de développer les services en langue française devant les tribunaux. Priorité fut donné au droit pénal qui met en jeu la liberté même d’un individu. On commença par un projet pilote à Sudbury en 1976 devant la cour provinciale division criminelle. Une proclamation des amendements au code criminel couronnait notre action en 1979. Il s’agissait d’amendements qui donnaient le droit à un accusé francophone d’être jugé par un juge ou par un jury parlant sa langue partout en Ontario. Ce principe fondamental est déjà consacré par le code criminel du Canada. Dans ce parlement même, nous avons passé des dispositions législatives décernées à promouvoir et à assurer l’utilisation du français devant nos tribunaux. Les lois mêmes de cette province sont en train d’être traduites pour renforcer notre système judiciaire et donner à nos citoyens francophones un plus grand accès à nos lois. Ce ne sont pas des privilèges, ce sont des droits.

En dehors des dispositions qui s’appliquent au procès criminel, il existe aujourd’hui des services en langue française auprès de la division des droits de la famille de la Cour provinciale dans 16 communautés. Et nous prévoyons que ces services s’étendront bientôt vers la fin de cette année au Cour des petits litiges civils.

Monsieur le Président, nous qui habitons l’Ontario sommes légitimement fiers de notre système judiciaire. Notre programme des services en langue française devant les tribunaux a été traité dès le début comme partie intégrante de ce système. Nous avons étendu ces services d’une façon graduelle afin de nous assurer de leur bon fonctionnement des le début et de façon durable. On m’a souvent demandé pourquoi j’avais pris cet engagement en 1975. Permettez-moi de souligner, Monsieur le Président, que cet engagement et la mise en oeuvre de ces services ont eu lieu avant même de l’action du Parti Québécois.

Il ne s’est pas agi d’un geste grandiloquent n’ayant qu’une valeur de symbole. J’ai tout simplement pensé que c’était l’action juste et appropriée à entreprendre.

Mes collègues et moi-même sommes conscients et reconnaissons que de nombreux Franco-Ontariens se préoccupent de leur assimilation par la communauté anglophone dans l’Ontario et de l’érosion de la langue et de la culture françaises. Je tiens à assurer nos citoyens franco-ontariens que nous continuerons d’apporter le soutien qui non seulement constituera une reconnaissance du fait francophone en Ontario, mais encore contribuera à l’épanouissement de la langue et de la culture françaises. Quoiqu’il arrive au Québec, notre engagement à cet égard, Monsieur le Président, ne diminuera pas.

The question facing the people of Quebec on May 20 goes far beyond legalities and constitutional concern. It is very much an affair of the soul and of the heart. I believe that men and women of goodwill can cast aside factionalism, regionalism, petty differences and work together to ensure that all men, women and children can enjoy the bounties of this nation. We do that by talking to each other as Canadians, not only on the level of government, but also on a person-to-person basis whenever we have the opportunity. Time and time again we have demonstrated in this nation and in this province what people of goodwill can accomplish when they put their minds to it. If there are obstacles, they are to be surmounted; if there are stumbling blocks, they are to be removed.

As one who was born and raised in Toronto, I came first to appreciate Quebec during a summer I spent as a university student living and working with a francophone family in Quebec City. I acquired a sense then, and have renewed it since, of the fragile question of cultural survival. The experience gave me an appreciation of the cultural and emotional explosion that burst over Quebec in the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s.

While the two founding cultures of this country are distinctly different, there is much that we still share. Together we face the need to develop a new model of Canada which allows each region enough flexibility to nurture its own special identity and culture, and which maintains a strong central government fully capable of pursuing the national interest.

3 p.m.

We and the people we represent are participants in a drama of law, of politics and of commitment, a commitment to something intangible -- perhaps a spirit -- something called Canada. Let me end, Mr. Speaker, with the words of Professor Jacques Monet, a distinguished Canadian historian and a Quebecois. “The challenge of brotherhood, of an experiment that bursts through the limits of nationalism to embrace men of diverse ways and diverse tongues is what it means to be a Canadian. You see, it is not a question of economics, or even of common sense; it is a question of the heart.”

Mr. Sweeney: Mr. Speaker, it is both a privilege and an obligation for me to participate in this Confederation debate. I am most mindful of the unique significance of the fact that this Legislature has never before in its history set aside the regular business of the assembly for one full week to debate a single important issue.

I am also mindful that our words alone, this week, in this assembly, will not solve the perils and the problems that we face, but they can speak clearly to our fellow Canadians all across this country, and in Quebec, and say that we the members of this Legislature and the eight million Ontarians, Canadians, whom we represent are willing and ready to co-operate.

We are fully aware of the cry for change that is sweeping across this country, Canada, from our Atlantic maritime provinces right through to our western provinces. We are most especially aware of the cry coming from our sister province of Quebec. It is a cry of the moment which must be heard and a cry that cannot be ignored.

Mr. Speaker, let us not have any misunderstanding of the purpose of this debate. It is to say two things to our fellow Canadians, particularly our fellow Canadians in Quebec. The first is our recognition of the need for change in the federation of Canada, and the second, our deep, sincere and genuine commitment to participate in that change.

I recently had the opportunity to send out a questionnaire to my almost 70,000 constituents and, on the basis of the answers received, I believe that on their behalf I can make that commitment today. If we are prepared to embark on that change, as we have so often in the past, particularly in the past decade, there can be no turning back. This time we cannot falter.

I recognize that we need a strong central government for Canada, a government that can speak for all Canadians in world affairs, a government that can defend our country from external attack, a government that can guarantee the free movement of people and of goods from sea to sea, a government that can protect the basic human rights of each and every Canadian.

At the same time, we need strong provincial governments who can speak for and act for the needs of their people within their own domains, strong governments that can be equal partners with each other and with our federal government. That was surely the intent 113 years ago, when the federation of Canada was first agreed upon by three independent groups of people in this country who came together and wrote out a contractual arrangement.

But times have changed. Over 113 years the world around us has changed. Our country has changed. The needs of our governments have changed. Our peoples have changed. Now we must change.

Beginning in 1841 with the Act of Union, strengthened in 1867 by Confederation, Quebec and Ontario have grown and worked side by side. As we hear the concerns of our brothers and sisters in Quebec, it is incumbent upon us in Ontario to recognize a special responsibility in helping to meet those needs and concerns. Let us not forget that outside the boundaries of Quebec there are more French-speaking Canadians in Ontario than in all the rest of our country put together. That imposes on us a very special responsibility.

Let us also, particularly in this province, recognize that the first half of our history in this country, the first half of our heritage, is owed to -- and there is a responsibility on our behalf to recognize that -- what was done by our French forbears. Men like Cartier, Champlain, Maisonneuve and Etienne Brule led the way to settlement in all parts of eastern Canada. The great explorers like La Verendrye moved across the great sweep of our western regions.

French-speaking Canadians in this country have never been bound geographically in Quebec. They have lived, settled, explored and worked in every part of this country from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Every part of this country has been, and must continue to be, their home.

Unfortunately, it is a tragedy of our people, not just in this province but in most of the provinces of Canada, to be ignorant of our history. It is a further tragedy that what history is taught in our schools varies in content, accuracy and objectivity from province to province.

It would be my hope and my strong recommendation that the 10 Ministers of Education in this country would be able to meet and to agree upon a common course of Canadian history and that program would be mandatory at least for all our high school students. Maybe then that generation of Canadians would have a deeper and a clearer appreciation of what Canada has been, and on that basis, of what it can be. Through the medium of television, by using such a common course as the basis for an exciting series of programs, we might even be able to rival what our American cousins south of us are often able to do in the way of historical drama.

3:10 p.m.

But that is for tomorrow. What of today?

First, let us be sure that French-speaking Canadians in Quebec and English-speaking Canadians in Ontario thoroughly and clearly understand what is made available to the language minorities in both jurisdictions.

Mes amis au Québec. Pendant quatre ans, j’ai eu l’occasion d’habiter le Québec et d’y faire mes études. On m’y a accepté avec plaisir et beaucoup de bonne volonté. J’ai eu l’heureuse occasion d’y poursuivre mes études dans ma langue maternelle, tout en apprenant aussi bien le français. L’été passé, ma famille et moi avons visité le Québec. Dans vos magasins, vos restaurants, vos hôtels, on a écouté notre français hésitant avec patience et courtoisie. Même vos agents de la police qui essayaient de régler la circulation aux heures de pointe ont apprécié nos efforts de communiquer. Nous avons l’intention d’y revenir cet été. Je ressens que le Québec fait partie de mon pays. On m’y a accepté. J’espère que vous, mes compatriotes québécois, ressentirez aussi que vous faites partie de mon pays et que vous y serez acceptés partout.

Pendant les dernières années, j’ai soutenu activement les droits de nos Franco-Ontariens dans le domaine de l’éducation. J’ai ajouté mon nom pour obtenir un conseil d’éducation en langue française à Ottawa-Carleton. Je continuerai à poursuivre ces aspirations, mais ma tâche serait beaucoup plus facile et frappante si je pouvais compter sur le soutien actif de mes collègues au Québec, un Québec qui demeure au sein du Canada.

I spent four years of my elementary schooling in Quebec. I may have been too young to appreciate fully all that was going on around me, but I can say that to this day I have fond memories of that experience. Let Ontario-Canadians recognize that in Quebec, English-speaking Quebeckers have the option of offering their sons and daughters an education in their mother tongue at the elementary school level, at the secondary school level and in universities and colleges. Let them also know that the Protestant separate schools of Quebec get full funding support right to the end of secondary school.

We recognize that the present government of Quebec has placed some restrictions on English-language education, but we must also recognize that the options that are still available in that province to the language minority group are a model for the rest of Canada. Let my compatriots in Quebec also realize that here in Ontario we have much to be proud of. With very few exceptions, French parents who want their children educated in their mother tongue at the elementary school level can find that in literally every part of this province.

Despite the tortuous negotiations that have recently taken place in such areas as Essex and Penetanguishene, let it be known in Quebec that we have 26 French-language high schools in this province. In addition we have 35 bilingual or mixed-language high schools in this province and, like their counterparts in Cornwall, in Sturgeon Falls, in Essex and in Penetanguishene, as time goes on some of those bilingual schools will also become French-language high schools.

Our students at university and college have the option in a number of our bilingual institutions to take their programs in French, and we would recognize the recently organized French-language agricultural college.

Let our compatriots in Quebec also know that growing numbers of English-speaking students in this province are learning French as a second language. Since 1972 the participation rate in many grades has doubled. In grades six, seven and eight, almost 100 per cent of our students take French as a second language.

It was interesting to note in the February 1980 edition of Reader’s Digest that Claude Ryan made the observation that if other provincial governments would make a clear and open commitment to French minority-language rights, that would be far better than 1,000 speeches made in the Chamber of Commerce in Montreal.

If there is one fault of this government in Ontario with respect to the provision for French-language education, it is that it has been too modest in proclaiming what it has done. Now is the time to say loudly and clearly to our own citizens and to our fellow citizens in Quebec what we do offer. We are far from perfect. There is still a long road to travel, but let us say what we have done; let us not hide the light under the bushel.

I am a Canadian. I am not an Irish Canadian because my great grandparents came from Ireland. I am not a maritime Canadian because I was born in New Brunswick. I am not an Ontario Canadian because I have spent most of my life here in Ontario. I am a Canadian, period. I recognize, as do many of my fellow Canadians, that our country really doesn’t make sense economically, geographically or culturally. It would make more sense economically if we were a part of the United States; it would make more sense culturally and geographically if we were many independent states, but that is not the way we are.

Our forefathers and our ancestors for 113 years decided by an act of will, an act of desire, that we would be one country and one people, and that is what will keep this country together.

Our grandparents, our ancestors, through their wisdom, their courage and their determination, held this country together. But what of us, what are we going to do when we talk to our grandchildren? Are we going to look them in the eye and say we took this precious gift and squandered it? Are we going to say that when the need was greatest we could not find Canadians to meet it?

3:20 p.m.

This cannot happen; this must not happen. We as Canadians must act now, together, in a spirit of goodwill, faith and trust in each other so that in the years ahead we can look in the eyes of our grandchildren and say that when Canada’s need was greatest we found the Canadians to meet that need.

Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, the tranquillity and decorum around this building for the past three days has almost been nerve-racking.

Mr. Acting Speaker: Are you going to change it?

Mr. Martel: I probably would appreciate it more if someone would yell at me a little and make me feel at home.

I am pleased to take part in this debate. I happen to think it is probably the most important debate that has ever taken place in this Legislature. My concern, however, is that it is too little too late, because in so far as the French fact is concerned, we have given 113 years of lip-service to it. We have come to this crossroads today.

I am not going to speak of constitutional reform. Other people have spoken about it and will continue to speak about it. Rather, I want to speak about what has happened and what will continue to happen if we do not move heaven and earth to make necessary changes. We will be faced with the assimilation of the French in Canada unless we change dramatically.

Assimilation, defined not by Webster or Oxford but by me as I understand it, is the absorption of one group by a larger group, stripping the smaller group of its language, heritage and culture. It occurs almost by a process of osmosis.

Lord Durham in his report in 1839 deliberately advocated a course that would have eliminated the French nation in Canada. In his report, Lord Durham said: “I cannot doubt that any power which they might possess would be used against the policy and the very existence of any form of British government. I cannot doubt that any French assembly that shall again meet in Lower Canada will use whatever power, be it more or less limited, it may have to obstruct the government. I believe that tranquillity can only be restored by subjecting the province to the vigorous rule of an English majority.”

Thank God we have moved away from that to some degree over the years. However, with everything around us in English, we have to understand that the French nation is being smothered, slowly but surely. Assimilation will continue unless we make the supreme effort to prevent it.

Let me relate my own experience for a moment. I was raised in what was virtually a total English community in northern Ontario. It was a town called Capreol. We didn’t have a French school in those days. Those days have gone now, thank goodness. In the Sudbury district there are five French high schools and a bilingual university. However, even there, if we don’t change the type of funding that goes to that particular institution, there are dark days ahead for us, very dark, because we cannot offer the courses that are necessary to attract students there. In Sudbury we also have a community college which is slowly but surely offering the French courses necessary because of those five French high schools that are in place.

My own community, the town of Capreol, was totally English except for a few French families and, unknowingly, many of us became anglicized. Upon finishing my high school education, I went to work for a while, then went on to North Bay Teachers’ College, and the process of assimilation continued for me. What is so distressing is I didn’t realize it. It wasn’t until I started teaching at about the age of 25 that I realized and became aware that a time bomb was ticking away.

Let me tell you how that occurred, Mr. Speaker. I started to teach in a separate school which was half-English and half-French. That was when my education really began as to what was going on in Canada. My colleagues in the French staff advocated a separate recess. I thought there was something wrong. They advocated a separate lunch break. I thought, “My God, they want to separate from us.” Then they wanted a different play area. This was causing some problems for me because I was interested in harmony, getting along together and doing it together. In fact, I was advocating the melting-pot theory of the United States. That is what was going on.

At that point I started to realize I had lost my mother tongue and that what my colleagues were attempting to do was to create a French milieu, which is what the government of this province must understand when we talk about an all-French high school. We have to create a French milieu. What my colleagues in that school were attempting to do was ensure that that would happen, that the language the children would hear would be French. I will come back to that in a moment.

The other thing I couldn’t understand about my colleagues had to do with social studies. We all believed there was only one social studies course we could follow. They talked about Hébert, the first French farmer in Quebec. We talked about the fireman, the baker, the maps and the community. We talked about our community but they didn’t. They talked about Louis Hébert. I couldn’t understand that. There aren’t two histories in this country; there is only one history in this country. Yet in fact there are.

Then they would put on their frequent little concerts. I didn’t have time for that. I was too busy with the curriculum and making sure we followed through on the curriculum. Do the members know what was in their little concerts? It was their dance, their music, their plays about the French facts. I didn’t understand it, and it bothered me. I thought it was a waste of time.

They were making sure they were getting their heritage and their culture across to those children. I am afraid we in English Canada don’t do that. I say that to those of us who are teachers in this Legislature. We don’t do it. We are too busy with the fireman. Maybe someday Canadians will become proud of their heritage and culture in English-speaking Canada when we start to do that sort of thing. It took me a long time to understand that. What they were doing was teaching their heritage and enriching and fostering their culture. They were passing it on to their young people so that they would be proud of it.

3:30 p.m.

My colleagues were not as articulate in those days -- I go back to 1961-62 -- as they are today. And I must confess I was not as receptive then as I am now. What we need is a total French milieu wherever there are French people brought together -- not part in English, part in French, but total. It is only by that type of immersion they will survive; we can do no less, but we are not prepared to do it yet.

The environment to which these people go must be steeped in their culture and their heritage, and it cannot be done if we are going to throw English in at the same time. It has nothing to do with being separate with anyone else. It has to do with the realities of life. The Minister of Education has to understand that if we try to mix the systems, they will not survive because, beyond that milieu they have in school, everything else is in English. That is why it is important.

If the above is needed in a small community like the one I represent, in the town of Capreol, it applies too to wherever there are francophones. The same applies in New Brunswick, in Manitoba, in Quebec. Survival and advancement for French is guaranteed in a society and a country where all of the people understand and appreciate the diversity, the culture and the language.

Surrounded by more than 200 million English-speaking people in Canada and the United States, the best chance for equality for the French is when there are guarantees in law which will ensure that the language and the services in both languages are assured. Canada offers that hope today, 113 years after Confederation. I hope it is not too little, too late.

I have been amazed by some of the comments I have heard, such as, “No one is going to make me learn French.” We have all heard it. The attitude has been prevalent primarily among adults, however -- adults who fear they will have to learn French to gain employment or advancement. Many people have heard about such requirements and have tended to apply them to jobs in all parts of Canada. I believe fear, a sense of insecurity or ignorance of the facts has led to this type of outburst, and I do not believe it reflects resentment towards the French language or culture.

Permettez-moi d’expliquer comme j’en étais persuadé en 1964, quand j’étais directeur à l’école Sainte-Marie. J’ai décidé qu’il était important d’enseigner le français dans mon école. J’ai écrit aux parents pour les aviser que l’on commencera d’enseigner le français oral. Vu que cette matière ne figurait pas au programme d’études, je voulais connaître leurs réactions. L’appui de quatre classes intéressées a été total. Deux ans après, sans l’approbation de qui que ce soit, et à cette époque, il fallait l’approbation du ministère, j’ai mis le français au nombre des matières à assigner à toute l’école. Tous les parents de quelque 400 élèves ont été enchantés. Je n’ai jamais reçu de plaintes. Les personnes qui s’imaginaient qu’on allait leur imposer le français et qui se sont opposés voulaient par contre que leurs enfants l’apprennent et étaient heureux.

Monsieur le Président, si nous introduisons tout de suite un programme de français nettement supérieur dans nos écoles anglaises, nous pourrions, en une génération, avoir le moyen de communiquer en deux langues, le français et l’anglais, préparant ainsi le terrain à une harmonie durable entre nos deux peuples fondateurs. À moins de cela, nous assisterons à la destruction du Canada, tel que nous le connaissons.

Les enfants adorent apprendre une autre langue. Ils n’éprouvent ni les craintes ni les inhibitions que les adultes présentent, ils n’ont pas le sentiment d’être mal vus. Ils ne s’embarrassent pas des fautes de grammaire ou de prononciation incorrecte. Je crois également, qu’une fois les enfants lancés dans l’apprentissage de la langue, la curiosité naturelle les amènera à lire et à se renseigner au sujet des Québécois. Ils liront leur histoire et leurs oeuvres littéraires, et s’imprègneront ainsi de leur culture.

Je ne voudrais pas que l’on réduise mes vues à une solution simpliste; toutefois, lorsqu’une communication sera établie d’égal à égal, et que nous saurons comprendre et apprécier nos différences et respecter les aspirations et les vues de chacun, alors nous aurons jeté les fondations nécessaires à des relations durables entre les deux peuples fondateurs.

Le gouvernement fédéral doit mettre d’importantes sommes à la disposition des provinces pour l’enseignement des langues. Il est inutile de consacrer des sommes fabuleuses à l’éducation des fonctionnaires. L’argent doit être employé là où il sera le plus utilisé, c’est-à-dire, auprès des jeunes. Munies de fonds additionnels, les provinces doivent veiller à intensifier les programmes et à augmenter le nombre de cours d’immersion. On doit améliorer de beaucoup l’enseignement du français dans les écoles anglaises au point où les jeunes sortant de l’école puissent parler français couramment. On doit élaborer des cours qui évoluent autour de la culture française.

Il y a beaucoup à faire et peu de temps pour convaincre le peuple québécois de la sincérité du Canada anglais.

Let me explain that I am particularly proud of this party, because over the years we have taken a tough stand. We have a program that says French will be recognized as an official language in Ontario. That is not always popular; none the less, since 1969 it has remained the policy of this party. About that same time, when this party said there had to be a special status for Quebec in Confederation, I regret to say there was all kinds of flak. Today more than ever I am convinced that if we want a Confederation there will be a special status in it for Quebec.

I hope I have been able to express clearly, staying away from all the discussion with respect to constitutional reform, what I believe to be the key underlying problem that leads to the discord between the two founding nations. How many English-speaking people are involved or how many French-speaking people are involved is unimportant. What is important is that we deal with each other as equals -- I stress that, as equals -- in all matters, working to ensure that our different languages, cultures and heritages are secure.

3:40 p.m.

I urge Premier Levesque to come to the bargaining table, whatever the outcome of the referendum down the road a way, prepared to negotiate a new deal. I also urge the Premiers and the Prime Minister of this country to approach that bargaining table regardless of the outcome in two or three weeks. Anything less will lead to the dismantling of this country.

Hon. Mr. Brunelle: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to participate in this very important and historic debate. I want to begin on a personal note, because I have had very close ties with the province of Quebec for many years. My parents were born and raised in Tiny township, in a small hamlet called Lafontaine, where 90 per cent of the population at that time, as it is even today, was of French background.

In my bachelor days, I spent many happy winters working and skiing in the Laurentians and in the Eastern Townships, and it was there that I met my good wife, Andree Hébert, whose home was in Magog, at the foot of Mont Orford. Andree came from a very large French-speaking family. She was the youngest of 17 children, and her ancestors date back -- as the member for Sudbury East mentioned -- to Louis Hébert, who was the first settler who set foot on Quebec soil in 1607. However, he returned to France and it was the governor of the day, Champlain, who asked him to return. I must admit that several of my relatives in Quebec have said, “If Hébert had only gone to Honda, where the climate is much more temperate.” Out of four children, two were born in Montreal and two were born in Toronto.

Plusieurs voix se font entendre dans le débat actuel de la constitution canadienne. Chacun de nous a le devoir, Monsieur le Président, de participer à l’introspection nationale et d’y apporter la lumière de son expérience. Il en va de même de l’avenir de notre pays. C’est à titre Canadien, de Canadien-Français, Monsieur le Président, que je prends la parole aujourd’hui, et c’est avec fierté que je le fais. Je suis fier d’être membre d’une branche importante de cette famille canadienne-française, celle de la francophonie ontarienne.

Je connais suffisamment bien mes concitoyens francophones pour croire que, comme moi, ils ne sont pas prêts à accepter que le gouvernement d’une autre province se fasse leur porte-parole et se réclame le droit exclusif d’orienter et de sceller le sort même de la famille. Les retombées de la prise de conscience et de l’affirmation du Québec au cours des dernières années ont été nombreuses et bénéfiques. Elles ont contribué au bien-être, non seulement des Québécois, mais aussi des Canadiens d’expression français à l’extérieur du Québec.

Je dis sans hésitation, Monsieur le Président, un Québec fort, une culture, une langue française qui s’affirmeront au sein d’un fédéral renouvelé, serviront mieux non seulement mes compatriotes du Québec, mais aussi ceux des autres provinces et le Canada tout entier. Nous reconnaissons tous qu’il y a eu lieu, et qu’il y a encore présentement, des problèmes à régler. Mais ce n’est pas par la voie de la séparation, de la fragmentation, de l’isolement, qu’il faut procéder.

Si je rejette la souveraineté-association, c’est-à-dire, l’indépendance, je ne préconise pas du même souffle le statu quo. C’est à l’instar de mon premier ministre que je le rejette parce que le statu quo est aussi inacceptable à l’extérieur du Québec qu’il ne l’est au Québec. Pourquoi procéder à l’amputation, à l’indépendance, quand les moyens sont maintenant disponibles pour éviter une intervention qui se pourrait être désastreuse?

C’est Boileau qui a dit, et je cite: “Souvent la peur d’un mal conduit dans au pire”. Si je me porte à la défense de l’unité canadienne, je ne le fais pas seulement par souci des conséquences d’une séparation sur l’ensemble des Canadiens; je le fais, Monsieur le Président, parce que je suis convaincu que seul un Canada uni peut assurer la survie et l’épanouissement de notre peuple à la largeur du pays. Je le fais parce que l’avenir collectif des francophones peut se réaliser autrement que dans l’isolement.

Je me fais l’interprète non seulement de mes contemporains, mais aussi de ceux qui nous ont précédé dans cette province et qui y ont semé le fait français au cours de siècles et qui l’ont défendu avec la conviction que cette francophonie avait de l’avenir. Leur patrie, ma patrie, c’est le Québec, c’est l’Ontario, c’est le Canada tout entier. Appuyer l’indépendance du Québec c’est dire à ceux qui nous ont précédé qu’ils avaient tort; que leurs sacrifices, et leur persévérance ont été en vain, que la génération d’aujourd’hui ne veut plus continuer.

Le moment est venu de rappeler aux protagonistes de la souveraineté québécoise que la famille canadienne-française c’est une grande famille; qu’elle est axée sur le Québec et qu’elle compte sur lui; qu’elle est profondément enracinée sur tout le territoire canadien, et qu’ils n’ont pas le droit de choisir de l’oublier.

Le hasard et les événements du passé ont fait naître des milliers de Canadiens-Français au delà des frontières du Québec. Cependant, ce n’est pas le hasard qui a fait que malgré les nombreux obstacles, un si grand nombre de nous restons si tendrement attachés à notre langue, à notre culture que nous ont transmises nos prédécesseurs et que nous léguons avec autant d’espoir et de conviction aux générations futures. Cette volonté de mes compatriotes francophones de l’Ontario de participer pleinement à la vie canadienne française n’est pas un phénomène récent attribuable à la renaissance francophone que connaît le Canada depuis quelques années.

Quiconque veut rendre hommage à ceux qui ont joué un rôle dans le développement de l’Ontario se doit de se rappeler que le français était la langue de nos premiers citoyens. Oui, le français, c’est une langue bien de chez nous, et les institutions d’expression française font partie intégrante du paysage ontarien. Les périodes difficiles, l’incompréhension de nos aspirations que manifestent quelques-uns de nos concitoyens n’enlèvent rien au droit d’appartenance et à la raison d’être de la francophonie ontarienne.

Les rigoureuses empreintes françaises ne sont pas prêtes à s’effacer de sol ontarien. Qu’il soit permis, Monsieur le Président, de faire quelques rappels sur la francophonie ontarienne parce que j’ai bien l’impression qu’elle est peu connue au Québec et parfois même dans certains milieux de notre propre province. Certains Québécois s’étonnent à l’occasion d’entendre un Ontarien parler sans accent, et ils sont encore plus surpris d’apprendre que sa famille y est depuis des générations. Par contre, certains Ontariens semblent parfois croire que leurs compatriotes d’expression française sont tous des nouveaux venus du Québec.

Monsieur le Président, il y a plus d’Ontariens d’origine que de Canadiens qui habitent les quatre provinces des Maritimes, l’Île-du-Prince-Édouard, Terre-Neuve, le Nouveau-Brunswick et la Nouvelle-Ecosse. Malheureusement, ils ne parlent pas tous français aujourd’hui car l’assimilation a fait ses ravages. Mais le fait demeure que l’on compte des centaines de milliers d’Ontariens dont le français est la langue usuelle.

3:50 p.m.

D’après le dernier recensement, l’Ontario compte autant de francophones que toutes les autres provinces regroupées à l’exception de la province de Québec, bien entendu.

Les services mis à la disposition des francophones de l’Ontario depuis quelques années, Monsieur le Président, sont de plus en plus nombreux. L’engagement du gouvernement ontarien dans ce sens est très bien amorcé. Quoiqu’en disent certains, le droit à l’éducation en langue française est déjà inscrit dans la loi.

Plus de soixante-huit mille Franco-Ontariens fréquentent quelque trois cent modules scolaires de langue française à l’élémentaire, dont plus de deux cent soixante-quinze sont des écoles homogènes. Près de trente mille étudiants fréquentent vingt-six écoles homogènes mixtes au secondaire. L’Ontario préconise depuis longtemps, Monsieur le Président, que le droit à l’éducation dans sa langue maternelle officielle soit inséré dans une constitution canadienne renouvelée et Monsieur le Premier Ministre le mentionnait a plusieurs occasions aux dernières conférences.

Au postsecondaire, six collèges communautaires dispensent plus de soixante-dix programmes en langue française et sept établissements universitaires, dont Ottawa et Sudbury sont les mieux connus, offrent des programmes en français. La situation n’est pas parfaite. Mais elle s’améliore d’année en année. Des démarches ont maintenant été entreprises, comme l’annonçait dernièrement le discours du trône, pour la mise sur pied d’un collège de technologie agricole de langue française dans le comté de Prescott-Russell.

Pour qu’une communauté linguistique se dise qu’il faut qu’elle puisse fonctionner dans le plus grand nombre possible de sphères d’activités, devant l’amélioration sensible des services scolaires en langue française, l’Ontario augmente et améliore aussi les services dans de nombreux autres domaines. Afin de justement s’assurer que tous les éléments du gouvernement ontarien participent à la mise en oeuvre de la politique gouvernementale sur les secteurs en langue française on créait en 1970 le post de Coordonateur en langue française au sein de l’administration provinciale que préside un comité composé de représentants de chaque ministère où agence gouvernementale.

Depuis sa création, le bureau du Coordonnateur a joué un rôle très important dans l’amélioration des services en langue française. Sa présence au sein des structures gouvernementales indique clairement qu’un engagement du gouvernement envers la communauté francophone dépasse largement le stage des voeux pieux et qu’il se traduit dans des gestes concrets. La francophonie ontarienne s’intéresse de plus en plus à l’administration publique et les ministères comptent de nombreux cadres francophones jusqu’aux rangs même de sous-ministre adjoint et de sous-ministre en plus de quelque coordonnateurs à plein temps de service en langue française.

Dans le domaine de la justice, mon collège le Procureur général a mentionné il y a quelques minutes que la loi permet d’offrir des services bilingues dans les cours provinciales situées dans les régions où il y a des concentrations de francophones. Tout francophone accusé d’un acte criminel peut obtenir un procès dans sa langue partout en Ontario. Il en est de même dans de nombreuses cours provinciales.

Le discours du trône récemment annonçait que le ministère du Procureur général désignera certains tribunaux des petites créances où les procès dérouleront dans les deux langues et il continuera à développer des services en français dans les tribunaux pour les causes criminelles, les questions familiales et les francophones.

Le ministère de la Santé s’est engagé à instituer un ensemble complet de services en langue française à commencer par les régions de l’Ontario qui comptent d’importantes concentrations de francophones.

Le ministère des Affaires intergouvernementales administre un programme d’aide financière aux municipalités dans le but d’encourager celles-ci à offrir leurs services dans les deux langues.

Monsieur le Président, je mentionne ces quelques initiatives r&entes au gouvernement à titre d’exemple seulement. Les ministères et les agences gouvernementales font des efforts louables pour mieux répondre aux besoins des francophones et il y réussissent de plus en plus.

Sans vouloir diminuer l’importance de l’intention du gouvernement dans la protection des droits des minorités et dans la mise sur pied des services essentiels, je crois qu’on ne peut pas parler d’une collectivité dans le seul contexte des services gouvernementaux. Monsieur le Président, cette francophonie ontarienne à laquelle j’appartiens n’est pas un simple pourcentage de la population de cette province; les francophones constituent une communauté bien active et bien dédiée de se doter des instruments nécessaires son épanouissement.

Je pourrais citer des centaines d’exemples à l’emploi de cet énoncé. Permettez-moi de mentionner le magnifique centre régional de loisirs sociaux-culturels qui vient d’ouvrir récemment à Kapuskasing, un endroit que vous connaissez bien, Monsieur l’Orateur, que mes concitoyens francophones ont établi avec grande fierté. Les activités de ce centre enrichissent considérablement la vie française en leur offrant musique, clubs de jeunes, ateliers, soirées sociales, et j’en passe.

Les francophones de chaque région de notre grande province proclament leur appartenance au Canada français, qu’il s’agisse des quelque 40 clubs sociaux culturels franco-ontariens et des nombreux centres culturels, troupes de théâtre, boites à chanson parsemés par toute la province, ou encore qu’il s’agisse des nombreuses et dynamiques associations d’éducateurs, de parents, de jeunes, clubs d’âge d’or et autres. On retrouve une communauté francophone active dans environ deux cent villages et villes ontariennes.

Ontario is the home of many French-speaking Canadians. We have witnessed in our province an increasingly positive attitude of English Canada towards French Canada. The forces of separation are actions in response to an image of Canada that is no longer accurate. There are millions of Canadians who have a much better appreciation of the invaluable contribution of French Canada today to our national identity and character.

As a Canadian of French origin, of which I am very proud, I am grieved by those who would split Canada asunder, who would isolate themselves from the most beautiful country in the world, rich in human and natural resources. This is not the time to leave. This is the time to reap, along with other Canadians, the fruits of our labour in a spirit of co-operation, understanding and mutual respect.

I have concerns for French-speaking communities living outside of this province. Should Quebec separate, they would lose the cultural and linguistic nourishment that comes from Quebec. They will have great difficulty resisting the forces of assimilation, as has been mentioned by other members.

Canada is my country. It is the country of my compatriots from Quebec. Let us preserve the union and, with it, create together a greater, renewed and more unified society. I know that I have the support of all the members in this Legislature when I say we are unanimous in our expression of hope that our Quebec compatriots will decide to continue building Canada along with us.

Et en terminant, Monsieur le Président, j’invite par la voix de cette assemblée mes frères et mes soeurs de la belle province à décider du sort de la francophonie canadienne dans un esprit de générosité à l’égard de leurs concitoyens francophones hors Québec, dans un esprit de solidarité avec leurs compatriotes canadiens qui, eux aussi, réclament une fédération nouvelle. Nous voulons tous une fédération nouvelle.

J’ai la ferme conviction que nos compatriotes du Québec sauront reconnaître que c’est dans l’unité, et non dans l’isolement, que les changements s’imposent et qu’ils sauront répondre à leurs aspirations légitimes et aux nôtres.

Merci, Monsieur le Président.

Mr. McGuigan: Mr. Speaker, as a farmer from Cedar Springs, I deem it a great pleasure and a privilege to speak in this historic debate. It is no doubt the most important issue we will ever have the opportunity to speak upon. I do so with a heavy heart because, like most Canadians, I grew up believing that this country was a dominion from sea to sea and that the possibility of Canada being divisible was beyond comprehension.

4 p.m.

I wonder what a farmer from Cedar Springs can add -- perhaps my own understanding of the land. The difficult climate and the hard times farmers have shared in its history developed within me a respect for this country that defies a completely rational analysis. This respect is rooted in an appreciation of Canada that is a belief that all is possible if we have optimism and hope in our future.

If a stranger stopped me on the street and asked me, “What are you?” I would probably give a snap answer and say, “I am a farmer.” If questioned further, I might say, “I am a farmer and a member of the Legislature of Ontario.” But if I really reflected upon the answer, I would say, “I am a child of God and I am a Canadian.”

That is not being pious about it or being a superpatriot, but is being honest. My brother, who farms in Quebec, might give the same answer. Such an answer, if given by millions of Canadians in Ontario and in the other provinces and in Quebec, would lay the basis for setting aside all past injustices, all past acts of thoughtlessness, all acts of omission on all sides and the little annoyances that are inherent in a two-culture, two-language nation such as Canada.

Ontario and Quebec citizens share the same base for their religion, their Judaeo-Christian culture, and both provinces have a small but important number of religions other than the Jewish and Christian religions. These religions share a common belief in a single deity, so the left hand knows what the right hand is doing. We share a belief in forgiveness of sins and in striving for a more perfect, more moral existence for man.

If one were to have the option of dividing this country, no doubt today we would divide it the other way. Since we have never had that option, we must look at what we have and count our blessings. The east-west boundary line gave us the bounties of the seas on both coasts, bounties that Cartier described in his journal to the effect that his men had only to lower a pail over the side of his ship to bring in a bucket of fish. These are bounties we are now only learning to husband and to appreciate their value.

The split has given us the greatest area of arable land per person of any nation in the world. There is, in the opinion of this farmer, no more valuable, no more blessed commodity that God or man could have bestowed on any community of man. It is more precious than gold, diamonds or uranium, and even more precious than oil, the most sought-after commodity in the world today. Second only to the Middle Eastern countries, we have more reserves of oil per person than any other people on earth.

The great Canadian Shield, even after 100 years of mining, is a vast and relatively untapped source of precious metals, base metals and uranium. Our forests, in spite of indifferent management at times, are among the richest resources in the world. Our hydroelectric capacity, particularly in Ontario and Quebec, is a renewable resource as long as the sun shines and the rivers run. In this respect we are the most favoured nation in the world.

I believe every inch of Canada belongs to the people of Quebec and that they should be made to feel comfortable and welcome in every corner of this land. I believe the reverse is true also, that every inch of Quebec is a part of Canada and that we should feel comfortable there. I believe there is more commonality than one suspects.

My brother moved to Quebec and bought a tract of land in the Eastern Townships about 25 years ago. His family of two boys and girls grew up bilingual. He built a large barn about 20 years ago, one that houses machinery and stores his vegetable crops from 300 acres. It burned to the around a few years after its completion, and the next morning his francophone neighbours and the township council visited him and offered him a tax moratorium if he would rebuild.

Last fall his eldest son was killed in a tragic accident, leaving his French-Canadian wife and three children. My brothers and sisters and our families attended the funeral. There was a genuine outpouring of sympathy and support from one group of French Canadians to a saddened group of English Canadians that leads us to believe that in a crunch our two peoples have much in common.

We share the same values; grief touches our hearts, joyous moments elevate us. I ask the people of Quebec to remain a vital part of Canada and to share this land and their experiences with it. The decision is theirs, but as a legislator, as a farmer from Cedar Springs and as a human being, I pledge that I will do my best to work towards the constitutional changes that will allow us to keep this country from fracturing. It must not fracture. If it does, we will have failed in this noble human and political experience and we will all be the smaller for it.

As a farmer, it has been my privilege for many years to represent, along with others, the farmers of Ontario at national conventions of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and the Canadian Horticultural Council and to attend other national agricultural seminars and conferences. In the early days language separated some of the Quebec and Ontario delegates. In recent years the use of simultaneous translation, such as we have operating in this Legislature this week, have largely bridged this gulf.

But at those conferences, even though the farmers from all provinces had interests in different commodities, I found they shared a common interest. They shared an interest in the economic support of the Canadian agricultural stabilization program and in the federal-provincial support of the crop insurance programs. They shared an interest in the various health of animals support programs that compensate farmers where their livestock is threatened or killed by contagious diseases. They shared a love of the land; the desire to protect it. They shared a common interest in tax policies; the ability to pass the land from generation to generation in an orderly fashion. Above all, they shared the common experience of farming in a rather harsh climate.

The east-west geography has had the effect of making us a tough people, and that toughness shows in the farm people in their ability to tough it out in hard economic times. I find that the farmers of Quebec and of the other provinces agree to the terms of our national marketing plan. The divisions about sharing of national quotas are not divisions among our farm people. The divisions are among politicians and business people who try to exploit the tug and pull of competing regions of Canada with this constantly shifting pattern of consumption, production and marketing. The problem is not between farmers.

My message to the Quebec farmer is to remember the advantages of our integrated production system, our orderly sharing of markets and our hard-won concessions from federal income tax law. Surely a Quebec farmer would have to ask himself whether an independent country of Quebec, dependent on the earnings of its manufacturing sector and on the export of national resources, would have the money or the muscle to stabilize its agriculture, especially its dairy producers. Would it be able to protect its producers against cheap imports to the extent that Canada, with its diversity of production, has been able to do? I do not think Ontario as a sovereign country could do so, and I doubt that Quebec could do so.

If we could look to the larger problem in agriculture, we might reflect that the 1970s brought us the energy crisis; the 1980s might well bring us the food crisis. Population pressures are building throughout the world. The world population is growing at 2.5 per cent a year, and production is growing at 2.4 per cent. In 1979, more food was consumed in the world than was produced, and millions of people have inadequate diets.

4:10 p.m.

Canada faces a great challenge and a great opportunity to meet some of those needs, and Canada can do a better job as a united country than it can as a quarrelling group of uncooperative provinces.

My last point brings me to another area of criticism, that of human rights, an area dealing with the protection of persons against discrimination. Every person has the desire to belong to the mainstream of society, the desire not to be set apart. It is possible that is the motive power behind the separatist movement: the desire to form their own linguistic and cultural group. But I submit that belonging to a larger family, first, the Judaeo-Christian family and secondly, the Canadian family, offers greater security than belonging to a Quebec family or an Ontario family.

Canada’s native people have sensed this reality. It is notable that all the native groups appearing before the Pepin-Robarts Task Force on Canadian Unity stated they would rather live in a united Canada.

It is important to realize as well that women in Quebec, as in most other communities in the world, suffer many forms of economic oppression and, as a group seeking the redress of past and present injustices, they have more hope of achieving this by allying with the greater collectivity of Canadian women than by trying to compete within the more limited entity of a separate Quebec.

I have cited just two examples of groups which obviously need a brand of self-determination of their own rights. It has always been my experience that there is a much greater opportunity for diversity of interest, cultures and goals when that unit is defined as being larger rather than smaller. In terms of minority interests within Quebec, I think this axiom could be no different. For the sake of all people in Quebec, I truly believe it is in their best interests to identify with and be counted among all the people of our nation, Canada.

In 1978, at the first ministers’ conference, a charter of rights and freedoms was presented as part of the constitutional amendment bill. This charter, however that might be eventually formulated, will have the first constitutionally guaranteed provision in Canada for individuals’ rights.

In my experience in the labour-intensive croplands of southwestern Ontario, I have seen the migration of defeated -- that is, defeated by the droughts of the 1930s -- mostly European immigrants, who retreated from the dust bowls of the 1930s in western Canada to the sugar beet and other labour-intensive croplands of southwestern Ontario. Those people were better off being able to move freely from province to province in a united Canada.

Many of their sons and daughters moved back to the west in the 1940s and 1950s when they had learned how to manage the prairie soils, and some of the children of those who stayed are moving west today. That flexibility, that opportunity to adapt to changing conditions, would no longer exist in a divided Canada.

One final overview: Civilizations do not survive because of military might or because of their insulation. They survive because of the will of the people to work and because of their vigour, and I think we could say that an insular Quebec would have less chance of competing in the world as a separate country than it would within Canada.

I am not an expert in constitutional reform. I know that our system is not perfect. I know that a system enacted 113 years ago most certainly needs revision, but surely its relative youth is in its favour; surely it is not too mature and facing decline. I have been heartened to take part in and listen to this outpouring of goodwill, this willingness to admit mistakes, this commitment to future change, and I am certain that no Canadian, whether in Ontario, Quebec or in the other provinces, could question the sincerity.

Mr. Samis: Monsieur le Président, c’est un grand honneur pour moi de participer à ce débat historique.

Pour les gens de Cornwall le débat sur le référendum et l’unité nationale n’est pas un débat académique ou quelconque jeu intellectuel.

Pour nous, c’est la réalité et c’est une réalité très significative à cause de notre situation géographique et des origines des gens qui demeurent dans notre région. Situés près de la frontière du Québec, les gens de Cornwall ont développé des liens spéciaux avec les gens du Québec.

S’il est vrai que l’Ontario a un lien spécial avec le Québec, c’est encore plus vrai pour les habitants de notre région. Par exemple, plusieurs milliers de gens dans notre région vont à Montréal pour magasiner, s’amuser, visiter ou voir un spectacle parce que c’est tout près.

Pour nous, Montréal est seulement une heure de voiture, et j’aimerais souligner que la capitale de la province du Québec, la ville de Québec, est plus proche que Queen’s Park par quelques 75 milles.

Dans le domaine culturel, les relations sont autres que fortuites parce que beaucoup de personnes dans notre région lisent les journaux de Montréal, écoutent les programmes de radio de Montréal et regardent les postes de télévision de Montréal dans les deux langues. C’est à cause de tout ça que nous suivons les développements politiques dans la province du Québec avec un intérêt et un esprit très spécial.

Un lien spécial n’est pas restreint aux matières culturelles. Dans le domaine des sports, par exemple, notre équipe de hockey junior, les Royals de Cornwall, joue dans la ligue Majeure du Québec, non celle de l’Ontario.

Chaque été, des centaines de milliers de Québécois visitent notre région pour s’amuser sur nos plages et dans nos parcs provinciaux. Le fait que presque 50 pour cent des gens de Cornwall sont d’origine canadienne-française donne un autre caractère spécial à ce lien.

Monsieur le Président, le 20 mai sera une date historique pour notre pays et notre province, que ce soit une victoire du “Non” ou du “Oui.”

J’imagine que notre pays ne sera pas le même après ce référendum historique.

Je sais que les gens de ma circonscription, qu’ils soient d’origine anglaise, française ou écossaise, sont fortement opposés à l’idée d’un Québec indépendant, séparé ou souverain. Et ils préfèrent maintenir le système fédéral avec le Québec comme un partenaire d’une nouvelle fédération. Nous sommes Canadiens, nous sommes fiers d’être Canadiens. Nous voulons continuer en tant que Canadiens dans l’esprit qu’Henri Bourassa a lutté pour établir il y a 80 ans dans notre pays.

Pour nous, le Canada est une dualité basée sur les deux langues, les deux peuples fondateurs et les cultures.

Mais le problème dans l’Ontario en ce moment historique et dans le débat constitutionnel est qu’il existe une vaste différence entre les réussites des dernières 113 années en ce qui concerne la manière dont sont traités la minorité francophone en Ontario et la minorité anglophone au Québec, et elles continuent de saper nos relations avec la province du Québec.

Nous, surtout nous les députés à Queen’s Park, nous avons réaliser que notre province est surveillée avec méfiance et scepticisme par les Québécois, à cause de notre record dans la manière dont nous avons traité la minorité francophone depuis la Confédération.

C’est assez d’être reconnu comme la province la plus riche ou la province qui protège le statu quo constitutionnel ou économique plus que n’importe quelle autre province, mais nous sommes considérés, après le Manitoba, comme la province qui n’a pas rendu effectif l’esprit de la Confédération dans notre propre province en ce qui concerne les droits des minorités.

Je suis né au Québec, et j’ai vécu dans un milieu presque complètement anglais, et si vous comparez mes droits en tant qu’anglophone au Québec depuis la Confédération jusqu’à aujourd’hui avec ceux d’un Franco-Ontarien, voici le bilan qui se découlerait:

Au Québec:

-- la langue anglaise était reconnue officiellement et garantie par l’acte BNA depuis 1867 par le gouvernement fédéral.

-- un anglophone a le droit de recevoir une éducation dans la langue de son choix depuis 1867 -- et même aujourd’hui, avec un gouvernement séparatiste, il y a trois universités anglaises maintenant, dont deux existent depuis presque 100 ans.

-- un anglophone a le droit d’utiliser la langue de son choix devant les tribunaux depuis la Confédération.

-- un anglophone a le droit de parler dans l’Assemblée du Québec dans la langue de son choix depuis la Confédération, et de recevoir des services gouvernementaux dans la langue de son choix depuis la Confédération.

4:20 p.m.

Tout ça était, et est garanti par la section 133 de l’Acte Britannique de l’Amérique du Nord, et que ce soit un gouvernement libéral, conservateur, le Parti National d’Honoré Mercier, l’Union nationale de Maurice Duplessis, ou le Parti Québécois de René Lévesque, ces droits restent garantis par les lois -- même si le Parti Québécois veut les diminuer.

Comparez cela avec le record de notre province depuis la Confédération:

-- aucune université française, maintenant ou dans le passé.

-- aucune reconnaissance officielle ou légale pour la langue française, en tant que langue officielle.

-- aucune école secondaire publique française pendant 101 ans après la Confédération.

-- aucun Conseil Scolaire français et homogène, aujourd’hui ou dans le passé.

-- aucun droit garanti devant les tribunaux pour presque 110 ans après la Confédération.

-- aucun droit garanti aux services gouvernementaux pour le premier siècle depuis la Confédération.

-- et la fameuse Régulation 17, adoptée par le gouvernement de l’Ontario.

-- et un taux d’assimilation effrayant et dévastant.

Oui, c’est vrai, il y a eu des améliorations et des changements favorables aux francophones dans cette province dans les dernières dix ou quinze années -- surtout dans les tribunaux et à certains niveaux d’éducation.

Mais, pourquoi le gouvernement est-il tellement faible, tellement lent à introduire ces changements? Pourquoi la minorité francophone dit-elle se contenter des petits changements ici et là? Pourquoi doivent-ils toujours lutter et se battre pour gagner leurs droits dans cette province, alors que les anglophones du Québec ont leurs droits garantis et protégés depuis la Confédération?

Je suis assez réaliste pour comprendre que la politique de ce gouvernement dans des situations comme Penetang est populaire, mais comment expliquez-vous un Penetang à un Québécois aujourd’hui?

Le Premier Ministre du Canada, M. Trudeau, et le Commissaire des deux langues officielles, M. Max Yalden, ont tous deux dénoncé la politique du gouvernement à Penetang et, par conséquent, le mot “Penetang” est devenu un symbole de notre manque de tolérance, de générosité et de reconnaissance des droits minoritaires.

Comment expliquez-vous que le gouvernement ait annoncé un compromis six jours avant le voyage de M. Davis au Québec, mais après deux ans de pressions, de pétitions, de manifestations, de lettres et d’efforts herculéens de la part des francophones de Penetang?

Le gouvernement peut gagner des votes par sa politique mais il fait des dégâts irrémédiables à l’esprit de la Confédération et à l’unité nationale. Nous devons accepter la réalité que toutes ces décisions ont peu à peu formé une image très négative pour notre province et qu’elles ont sapé n’importe quel rôle que nous voulions jouer sur la scène nationale.

Les gens de l’Ouest ont leurs propres raisons pour se méfier de l’Ontario, mais les gens du Québec out aussi leurs raisons personnelles et profondes pour avoir la même attitude.

Mais, nous sommes en 1980 et nous avons la grande opportunité de prouver que nous sommes sincères lorsque nous disons que cette résolution que le statu quo est inacceptable et que nous sommes prêts à démontrer aux gens du Québec notre bonne foi.

Comment? En présentant des propositions concrètes et positives pour renouveler le système fédéral en général et en donnant les mêmes droits et les mêmes opportunités à la minorité francophone de l’Ontario que celles que la minorité anglophone au Québec a reçu depuis la Confédération.

Les 113 dernières années ont prouvé que la minorité francophone a besoin de protection légale pour garantir leurs droits et leur survivance même en Ontario. Et c’est une question très, très sérieuse pour eux.

Ici, en Ontario, on ne veut pas forcer tout le monde à être bilingue, parce qu’une telle politique serait stupide et ferait plus de mal que de bien. Mais nous devons garantir quelques droits fondamentaux pour nos deux groupes linguistiques dans la province, notamment d’abord:

(1) Il existe deux langues officielles dans la province et qu’on peut utiliser ces deux langues indifféremment dans l’Assemblée, dans les tribunaux et dans les services gouvernementaux.

(2) N’importe quelle personne peut être servie par le gouvernement provincial dans la langue de son propre choix, dans les régions où les nombres sont suffisants.

(3) Tout citoyen, soit-il anglophone, francophone ou indien, à le droit d’avoir l’éducation primaire et secondaire dans la langue de son choix où il demeure.

(4) Chaque groupe principal, soit-il anglophone, francophone ou indien, doit avoir le droit d’administrer leurs propres institutions, sous l’autorité générale du Ministère de l’Éducation.

(5) Chaque personne doit avoir accès aux services sociaux et aux services de santé dans la langue de son choix, dans les régions où les nombres sont suffisants.

(6) Chaque personne doit avoir le droit à un procès judiciaire dans la langue de son choix, surtout lorsqu’il y a possibilité d’un dossier criminel avec condamnation.

(7) Chaque personne doit avoir le droit des services de radio, télévision et cablevision dans la langue de son choix, dans les régions où les nombres sont suffisants.

Monsieur l’Orateur, j’aimerais souligner que l’Ontario est la seule province qui manque des garanties concrètes et légales pour leurs minorités. Le Québec les a depuis la Confédération. Le Manitoba depuis plus de 110 ans maintenant, et le Nouveau-Brunswick depuis 10 ans.

Comme je l’ai déjà énoncé, notre province est surveillée par les autres provinces avec beaucoup de méfiance en ce moment et pour plusieurs raisons. Mais maintenant, on peut changer ça avec une démonstration de fiducie, bonne foi et générosité envers notre minorité.

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the people of the township and city of Cornwall I would like to speak in favour of this resolution before us today. I speak as a Canadian who was born in Quebec and spent 22 years in that province. I speak as a Canadian who is part French Canadian and part English Canadian. I speak as a representative of a community that was founded in 1783 by the United Empire Loyalists, who were joined later by the descendants of the Glengarry Highlanders and still later by French Canadians who emigrated seeking work in our part of this province.

Naturally, because of our geographic proximity and our socio-cultural ties with Quebec, the people of my area are deeply interested in the referendum debate and the future of both Quebec and Canada. The people of Cornwall are strong believers in federalism, and they are strongly opposed to the idea of an independent, sovereign or separate Quebec on their borders for a variety of reasons.

I want to speak briefly about the referendum question itself. Having lived in Quebec, I can recall the rise of the separatist movement in the early 1960s. I remember vividly le Rassemblement pour l’Indépendence Nationale of Pierre Bourgault and André d’Allemagne. I remember l’Alliance Laurentienne of Raymond Barbeau. They were clear; they told the people of Quebec what they wanted -- an independent Quebec, no questions asked; no ifs, buts or ands -- independence was their goal.

I remember the founding of the Parti Quebecois in 1968 and how they campaigned in 1970 on a platform of independence for Quebec. I remember the 1973 election campaign when they brought forth an independence budget for year one, and that became the main election issue. There was no fudging the question; independence was the issue. I respect people like Jacques Parizeau, Louis O’Neill, Pierre Bourgault and Camille Laurin, because they haven’t really changed their tune since 1968. They are still saying they are fighting for independence, not some watered-down version or sugar-coated facsimile. They still even dare to use the word “independence.”

But look at the referendum question facing the people of Quebec today. Obviously it was worded and drafted very carefully and only after repeated consultation with the pollsters and the PQ organizers. The end result is that the referendum will not be making clear what the people of Quebec do want, which was its original purpose. Instead, it is designed to protect the political interests and power of the Parti Quebecois government.

If the PQ were really honest, they would have asked the very simple question, “Are you in favour of Quebec separating from Canada and becoming a separate country?” But they knew they would get clobbered, they would be heavily defeated, if they asked such a question. If they were to ask the people, “Do you support sovereignty-association?” they knew they would get clobbered; so they could not ask that question. If they asked the question, “Would you give us a mandate to negotiate sovereignty-association?” they did not even trust themselves going to the people on that question. They took the easiest, the most facile way out of it. They said, “Would you give us a mandate to negotiate?” and then they promised, “We will give you a second referendum, a second question, a second chance to reassess the whole situation.”

Why did they do this? Why didn’t they stick to the original premise of independence? Because they are worried that the people of Quebec would not vote for sovereignty-association, and they know they would never vote for outright independence. What they have done is they have watered down the question to the extent that we have to ask ourselves what this referendum really means.

4:30 p.m.

Rene Levesque tells the people that a yes vote will somehow break the constitutional logjam and get the process of reform moving. But will it? What will it accomplish? How can it accomplish this?

The Prime Minister of Canada has said his government will not negotiate sovereignty-association. Every single provincial Premier has said he is not interested in negotiating sovereignty-association.

One has to ask whether a yes vote actually would lead to a breakthrough, or would it lead to an even greater and more difficult impasse for the people of Quebec.

I recall talking to a PQ member who was visiting here last year, and I questioned him about what would be the actual status of Quebec under sovereignty-association. I said: “When you guys talked about independence, we all understood you. Now what are you? Do you want to be a country? Do you want to be a state? Do you want to be a province?” He would not give me a direct answer. I suggest the people of Quebec today are faced with that same fudging mentality.

In this whole question, we have to face the reality that English Canadians have a vital role to play. English Canadians must understand that a no vote is in no way an endorsement of the status quo, because virtually nobody in Quebec is defending the status quo as a viable option for that province. Here in Ontario, we have to face the reality that we are being seen as the greatest beneficiaries and defenders of the status quo, both by the people of Quebec and by the people of western Canada. We also had better face the reality that a majority of our own constituents probably prefer the status quo and probably want a strong federal government. We, as legislators, have a duty to convince our own people that change is essential, that change is imminent, and we have a duty to be a part of that vital process of change in Canada.

If we are ever going to change the perception about Ontario being the great defender of the status quo, we have to do certain things as a province.

First, this government must articulate and present its alternatives to the status quo. It is okay to say the status quo is unacceptable in this resolution, but the question is, what do we want as a province? What is our position as a province? What does Ontario want? We haven’t answered those questions.

Second, the Premier of this province must display far greater involvement and leadership in the post-referendum drive for constitutional reforms. John Robarts was an active participant, and even a catalyst, in the constitutional debate in the 1960s, and developed a close personal relationship with various Quebec Premiers. The present Premier of this province simply has to take a more active role on the national scene and make his voice heard beyond mere platitudes and reassurances.

Third, if we are going to convince people that we are rejecting the status quo, now is the time to dramatically demonstrate that rejection by granting the Franco-Ontarian minority full legal protection and guarantees for their linguistic, educational and cultural rights.

Of the four provinces with sizeable minorities, we are the only province which does not offer a legal guarantee and framework for our minority. Quebec has done so since 1867, Manitoba since 1870 and New Brunswick since the early 1970s. What has Ontario done? What are we doing today? What could better demonstrate our rejection of the status quo than a dramatic charter of rights for our minorities to ensure they enjoy the same rights in Ontario as others enjoy in Quebec?

Finally, we have to convince the people of Quebec that we care about our country, Canada, and that it is about time we took control of our own destiny. How can we tell French Canadians to join with us in building this country when most of our manufacturing and most of our resource industries are owned by foreigners and by outsiders? We have to display some interest and some stake in our community.

Before closing, I would like to quote from Pierre Bourgault, a man whom I respect, although I disagree with him profoundly. He said: “English Canada should build a country -- and then maybe we would want to be part of it. Be creative -- build your own identity, and then maybe we will believe in you too... The day you believe in Canada as much as I believe in Quebec, 90 per cent of your problems will go away.”

I suspect Pierre Bourgault has a point. The challenge to Canada is here and now. English Canadians must respond to that challenge, because it is our Canada that is at stake. We do not have to be afraid of making constitutional change, because we have done it before -- in 1774, 1791, 1841 and 1867. English-speaking Canadians must realize that the time has come to make major changes for the first time in 113 years. We are all Canadians. It should represent a positive challenge to make this country more meaningful and more relevant to its citizens and the future generations.

Mr. Sterling: Mr. Speaker, as a member for a riding in eastern Ontario, as is the last speaker, I understand many of the things he has said. He has indicated to this Legislature the strong support in our area for our country. As a direct descendant of the United Empire Loyalists, I understand the feelings my forefathers had for their country.

I make my contribution to this debate with some apprehension, however. That apprehension is based almost wholly on my sense that a growing chorus of opinion in the country would have the idea of Canada sacrificed on the altar of regional and sectional opportunism, what we may speak of in more basic terms as provincialism and parochialism.

I was most forcibly reminded of this point only this morning when I read a press account of Mr. Brian Peckford’s remarks to the Conference Board in Canada, which met in Toronto yesterday. The Premier of Newfoundland would have both his cake and be able to eat it too in that he demands for his province control of offshore resources and deep-sea fisheries, while insisting at the same time that the federal government guarantee to his province the transmission of Newfoundland-generated power to American markets through the territory of Quebec.

Without examining the pros and cons of these particular issues and accepting Mr. Peckford’s statement as a bargaining position, it is clear that the premise underlying his thoughts is that if Canada, as represented by our national government, provides everything that the provinces want it will be given a top grade and allowed to survive because of the beneficial service to the regional or provincial interest. On the other hand, if it should fail to give us what we want, it doesn’t pass our test and, as a result, we should dispose of it. Mr. Peckford is not the only province-oriented spokesman who uses this kind of reasoning. We have been guilty of using it and the other provinces have been guilty of using this. Once this becomes common, political logic becomes irretrievably joined in the public mind as one and the same thing. The tragedy of this is that the issue becomes not one of constitutional reform, of which we are indisputably in need, but of constitutional dismantlement, in which the roles of the nation and of the federal government are assumed to be sacrificed to the extension of provincial jurisdiction.

It is an argument that would deprive Canada of being a nation and render it instead a straggling association of squabbling provincial jurisdictions. I want to challenge this growing assertion not only because it is narrowly conceived, but also because it is so fundamentally wrong in its concept of the role of a nation that Canada affords. The whole purpose of Confederation is that through its national government it can both protect and promote regional and provincial concerns, while at the same time it guarantees the national interest without which provincial and individual rights would soon be imperilled and lost.

I would like to turn to the issue of constitutional responsibility and its effect on the status of the Canadian federation. In short, if the Parti Quebecois is arguing that as a province Quebec does not have the political power to sufficiently direct the outcome of Quebec’s culture, society and economy, then it is wrong. As this federation continues on its present course of decentralization, the PQ will be even more wrong.

4:40 p.m.

In the last 15 years, provincial power has increased while federal power has decreased. We now raise a higher proportion of the taxes than we did 15 years ago. The federal spending power, which was used in the past to control the purse strings of many of our programs, has declined through the move towards block grants and disentanglement of the federal government from cost-shared programs. Ottawa is even getting out of areas into which it would formerly intrude, such as urban affairs.

The provinces have run the education systems, the health systems, the municipal systems, the bulk of labour and agriculture, the police forces and the administration of our courts in Ontario and Quebec. To be honest, and I do not mean this to be cynical or overcritical of our federal colleagues, I sometimes wonder what is left for my federal counterpart to do.

I would strongly argue that not only does a provincial government have sufficient responsibilities and power, but within a few years it will have more. The Parti Quebecois is creating a straw man when it suggests that Ottawa, and the power which it wields, prevents it from achieving its goals of cultural and economic security. Every one of the goals which Quebec aspires to achieve can be accommodated within the evolving federation.

We, with Quebec and the other provinces, have striven over the last few years to realign the federal system along a more rational and logical basis.

I am firmly convinced that we are on the verge of a new era in Canada. However, I caution that I personally believe that any new constitutions and any reassignments of responsibility must not weaken the federal government to the point where it cannot maintain sufficient control of our economy or ensure that a basic level of social service support is available in the various provinces across our country.

I would like to turn to a more specific issue, one which is fundamental in any discussion of the future of Canada and Quebec. Without a doubt, the issue of French-language education has been one of the most controversial issues this province has faced in recent years. I wish to speak of this issue exactly for that reason, and because without a doubt, the right of minority-language education is one of the building blocks upon which a new framework of this federation will be built.

It is somewhat interesting that the very first speech I gave to this Legislature -- two weeks after my election in June 1977 -- was on French-language education. That debate was on the bill providing for a French-language secondary school in Essex county. I supported, as did most members of this Legislature, that particular piece of legislation. At the time of that debate three years ago, I stated that I was not satisfied our record was good enough. Today, I would still say the same, that our record is far from being perfect.

It is my personal opinion that this province has been somewhat slow at arriving at a policy decision on French-language education. However, the argument I wish to make, and strongly, is that Ontario in the last 10 years has moved progressively and decisively towards the provision of adequate and abundant French-language schooling. Furthermore, this province has inextricably committed itself to ensuring the financing, the program development and the unequivocal encouragement of French-language schooling where it is needed.

As examples of the approaches the Ontario government is developing, I would like briefly to point out some of the programs in the area of French-language education.

Beginning in 1968, this Legislature passed two very important bills. These bills gave legal recognition to French as a language of instruction, administration and general communication in Ontario schools. Furthermore, the legislation provided for mandatory instruction in French where it was requested by a minimum number of students. It also established French Language Advisory Committees to advise local school boards where French parents were in a minority.

Following this landmark legislation, French-language schools were established throughout the province. There now are 285 full-French elementary schools in our province. There are 26 full-French secondary schools and 35 French-English mixed schools. There now are more than 20,000 Ontario students in French-language secondary schools. Recently the Ontario government has provided funding to encourage mixed schools to develop into separate French and English entities, coexisting beside each other. In other areas the province has provided curricula, teacher training, teacher exchange programs, and money to provide French-language learning and resource material.

French-language education programs have not been restricted to the elementary and secondary levels. For example, in 1973, Ontario community colleges offered 31 programs to 693 French-speaking students. Today they are offering 87 programs to 2,100 students at a cost of approximately $4 million.

The underlying and main point I am making is that Ontario is moving in the right direction. At present, of the 5.6 per cent francophone population in our province, 5.4 per cent of that francophone population is being educated in the French language and the French language alone.

However, I personally would be willing to see Ontario and the other provinces, in conjunction with the federal government, go even further by entrenching minority-language education rights in a constitution based on the conditions of need and feasibility. We have had some problem in the past in determining what need and feasibility are. I would suggest to this Legislature, in regard to any constitutional reform that might take place as a result of our debate, that the conditions be established in a general forum made up of politicians but, if those conditions be reached, they be judged by a nonpolitical body.

In closing, I would like to apologize to French Canadians who might be listening in Ontario and Quebec for not delivering some of my speech in French. Unfortunately, in that respect I am a product of my time. But I would like to add that if my 10-year-old son Ian or my eight-year-old daughter Sarah, both of whom have received all their education totally immersed in French since they were four years of age, were fortunate enough to become members of this Legislature, as I have, they would be able to speak directly to French Canadians.

Attitudes have changed rapidly in the past 10 years. Acceptance of continued change will not be aided by a yes vote in Quebec.

I look forward to working with Quebeckers and making this a stronger union, regardless of the outcome of the referendum.

Mr. Eakins: Mr. Speaker, as the member for Victoria-Haliburton, it is an honour for me to play a role in the future shaping of the society in which I live, a society that is democratic and, above all, guarantees personal freedoms. It is a society with a moral attitude of respect for the independence of others and tolerance of their opinions.

I could not live in a society that was not democratic; I could not live in a society that was intolerant; and I could not live happily in any society where there was the slightest doubt about our personal freedom. In a social order of this kind there is a very dynamic and vital role to be played by our volunteer organizations and service clubs. They are nationwide, for the most part, and therefore provide a valuable link among our many provinces and regions. In summary, they play an important role in the functioning of this country.

I am impressed by the role played to date by our service clubs, which in the past played an important part in bringing our people together not just across Canada, but also around the world. Let me elaborate. At the end of the Second World War, General Eisenhower, thinking of the future, said, “We have learned to win the war, but we have not learned to win the peace.”

He started a movement that has had a tremendous impact on many people, in many communities throughout the world. He introduced the sister city, or twinning, movement. The initial program brought together Montclair, New Jersey, in the United States, and Gotts, Germany. Ten years ago the town of Lindsay, my home town, twinned with the city of Nayoro, Hokkaido, Japan. This has been a great experience and has created a spirit of friendship, understanding and brotherhood.

4:50 p.m.

The time has come when right across Canada -- in our country -- we should come to understand and know each other to a greater extent. We should visit each other’s communities and come to know each other just as decent human beings from all parts of a great country, Canada.

Tourism is one of the most important economic links that we in Ontario share with Quebec. It has the potential to be the strongest economic link, and that is something we may well see in the future. I have recognized this fact since I held the tourism portfolio for my party. As a matter of fact, in 1977, the year following the election of the Parti Quebecois, I conveyed a message to this Legislature. The message was simply that there was a very significant role to be played by tourism and its policies in a national unity context.

The largest number of visitors to Ontario from other provinces comes from the province of Quebec. Likewise, Ontarians regularly visit Quebec. Such exchanges are invaluable in terms of developing a better understanding and appreciation of each other’s viewpoints. In fact, Ontario’s tourism industry can contribute much more than all the political speeches put together just by warmly welcoming Quebeckers to our province.

That message was delivered in 1977. I can only hope that the opportunity to have such an exchange has become available for many members of this House. I was fortunate to have participated in such an exchange just two weeks ago in the town of Lindsay. Through the initiative of the Reverend Jack Hobbs, a group of more than 100 people from Montreal known as l’Assemblée des Arts du Quebec visited our town. They were sponsored by the Department of Cultural Affairs of Quebec. They presented a concert in the theatre, and on Sunday they presented a mass in the United Church. It is a meaningful, moving experience when a group of this size, 95 per cent of whom are Roman Catholic and French-speaking, visits an English-speaking community, and a Protestant church, and stays in our homes as our guests. On a personal note I would like to send a greeting to the wonderful guests who stayed in our home, Georgette and Julien Lambert. This is the type of experience that is meaningful and can do more than all the talk from we who are politicians.

We have a vehicle to carry out these exchanges through our churches, service clubs, scouts and guides, and in fact, dozens of organizations that are national in scope. May this opportunity of friendship and understanding be not unmeaning words upon our lips, but the sentiment of our hearts and the practice of our lives.

In the last couple of years, I have also recommended the expansion of the services provided to tourists from our sister cities of Quebec. Specifically, I have advocated the printing of more of our Ontario tourism brochures in French so Quebeckers might know from the outset that they are more than just welcome in Ontario, they are being sent a personal invitation to come and visit us. I am pleased to say our efforts in this regard have been expanded.

The coupling of Ontario and Quebec as a region of Canada makes good economic sense. It makes even better sense when considered specifically as a tourism region. Both provinces have recognized this and, accordingly, we have a number of joint tourism programs that have provided substantial benefit to both.

Provincial boundaries mean little to the traveller intent on gaining the maximum of pleasure from his vacation itinerary. Realizing this, the governments of Ontario and La Belle Province, Quebec, have initiated a co-operative project known as the Heritage Highway. A booklet has been published which describes the interprovincial tour in terms of the historic importance and scenic attractiveness of the route. It has been termed one of North America’s most favoured tourist routes. The trip begins at world-renowned Niagara Falls, travels though the Queen City, Toronto, to the historic fortress city of Kingston, and then on to cosmopolitan Montreal and the most Old World city in North America, Quebec, ending at the famous Percé Rock on the eastern extremity of the Gaspé Peninsula.

Approaching the Heritage Highway or turning off along the route, the traveller is offered a variety of fascinating side trips: Ste. Marie-among-the-Hurons and the Martyrs’ Shrine at Midland; the acclaimed Shakespearean Festival at Stratford; Canada’s pageant-filled capital city, Ottawa; the invigorating mountain air of the Laurentians; the Old World charm of Ile d’Orléans; and, on a personal note, the beauty of the Highlands of Haliburton.

This is a journey through two cultures, reflected in the use of both of Canada’s official languages. The heritages of Canada’s two largest provinces have been intertwined since the earliest days of the nation’s history, when sailors and coureurs de bois first explored the mighty St. Lawrence River from the Gaspé to the Great Lakes.

In the middle of the 18th century, New France was a vast empire extending from the Atlantic to the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains and south to the Gulf of Mexico. Yet, except for New Orleans, the only permanent settlements of any size were along the valley of the St. Lawrence, with Quebec, Trois Rivières and Montreal as administrative centres. Confederation, a century later, saw Upper Canada and Lower Canada merge with other provinces into the nation to form the basis of modern Canada. Today, following the route of the explorers, sea-going ocean ships navigate the St. Lawrence Seaway in the very heartland of the continent.

These two cultures, linked by destiny and 400 years of history, epitomize Canada and the spirit of co-operation that has resulted in joint programs, such as the Heritage Highway. Ontario and Québec have a tradition of co-operation in promoting interprovincial travel. The Heritage Highway program now is 12 years old.

We also share a similar market for foreign tourists. In February 1978, simultaneous announcements in Toronto and Quebec City marked the official start of the most far-reaching co-operative tourism agreement ever undertaken by Ontario and Quebec. The agreement outlined a shared-cost international tourism campaign aimed at increasing the number and length of stay of visitors to the sister provinces. It was expected that the venture would generate an increase in tourism revenue to help offset the national tourism deficit.

Co-operative efforts between Ontario and Quebec in the past have met with great success. Tourism is an industry of prime importance to both provinces. A minimum of $2 million will be invested by each party before the agreement expires on March 31, 1982. The merging of forces is intended to double the lure of both provinces as a long-haul destination. Combined tour packages will allow visitors to Ontario and Quebec the opportunity to experience the best of Canada’s multicultural sights, sounds and nature. The main thrust of the co-operative effort will be aimed at multiplying long-distance travel to Ontario and Quebec. Combined press tours, literature, advertising campaigns and research will be undertaken to fully inform the travel trade of the benefits of vacationing in Ontario and Quebec. In addition, joint promotion missions, with members drawn from both provinces’ governments and tourism industries, will take place in the target markets. To ensure its effectiveness, a consulting committee of members from both provinces will review and assess the program’s activities on an ongoing basis.

Long before our two provinces combined forces for the mutual benefit of each of our tourism sectors, the value of tourism as a unifying entity was well recognized. On June 24, 1889, Sir Wilfrid Laurier stated the following in a speech in Quebec City:

“We are French Canadians but our country is not confined to the territory overshadowed by the Citadel of Quebec. Our country is Canada. It is the whole of what is covered by the British flag on the American continent, the fertile lands bordered by the Bay of Fundy, the valley of the St. Lawrence, the region of the Great Lakes, the Prairies of the west, the Rocky Mountains, the lands washed by the famous ocean where breezes are said to be as sweet as the breezes of the Mediterranean.”

5 p.m.

That was almost 100 years ago. While we have witnessed more changes in the past century than at any other time in our history, those words have not changed. The beauty and the grandeur which is Canada is as evident now as it was 100 years ago, and we can be thankful for that, but our population has changed in cosmopolitan and social attitudes. Our values, however, have not changed.

The pride of being Canadian grows stronger every day, and it is a pride that has earned the respect of every other nation in the world. It is also the quality that, in the end, will supersede the differences our country is faced with internally.

I wonder how many Canadians outside of the boundaries of Quebec really know and understand what is going on inside that province. It may be that a large number of them know no more about the changes now taking place in Quebec than the most visible one: the ascension to power of a party devoted to splitting up our country. The danger in this partial understanding of the problem would be a belief that the solution to the current crisis lies solely within Quebec. The crisis of Confederation is not merely a simple internal, political problem to be resolved by Quebec alone while the rest of Canada acts as a spectator. This crisis involves all Canadians in a way that no other event in our nation’s history has until now.

For the rest of Canada to maintain a passive role during this time would be tantamount to surrendering to the breakup of the family. Therefore, I am proud to be addressing this House and this nation, speaking on behalf of the people of Ontario. They are the ones who are appealing to the population of Quebec; we in this House are simply making speeches on their behalf. I would be proud to look back on this debate, knowing that we, as three separate and distinct parties of this parliament, had the courage and the will to set aside our partisanship for this week and to rise above all our differences in our own province to make a united, strong and vigorous appeal to the residents of Quebec.

This issue has been treated in too partisan a way by too many people in this country. If there is one thing that should tie all politicians together, it is surely the desire to keep this country together. If there ever has been a reason we should set aside our concern for our own political careers, our own futures, it is this occasion, Canada, as a united nation, is more important than any party in political office. It is the cause we must concern ourselves with above all others.

The people of Quebec have their own kind of nationalism. It is a pride in their identity, which is very precious and which perhaps some other Canadians in decades or centuries past have not been quick enough to recognize. That pride is the root of our Canadian identity because when we, or our forefathers, came to this country, we were allowed to retain our backgrounds and our traditions rather than giving them up. That has meant that we retained our identity; we could still be ourselves. That is the very same precious quality that Quebeckers fear to lose. Because we share that pride of identity, an element that is characteristically Canadian, I am confident that through speeches such as these the rest of the Canadian people will impress upon Quebeckers that in this country all are truly one, that there is no other place in the world where their own identity will be more upheld or more protected than it will be in Canada.

The challenge we face is not only domestic, it is also international. If we cannot hold our own land together -- one of the most privileged in the whole world, with its richness, its physical diversity, its cultural diversity, with two official languages and only 23 million people -- if we cannot get along together, how can we expect the world ever to survive with its hundreds of different countries, languages and cultures? How do we expect the world to live together in peace and harmony?

The situation we are faced with in Canada at present is much more than a Canadian problem. It is a problem that mankind has always faced: whether we can live together in a spirit of understanding. What makes Canada is the Canadians. It won’t be some particular constitutional provision, and it can’t be legislated; those are things that can always be changed. But it’s absolutely essential that we must never give up on the basic human rights and liberties which serve as a common value to us all and which permit this Legislature to meet today in friendship and respect for each other in this House.

This Legislature has made a decision to let our choice in this matter be known to Quebec and the rest of Canada. Let us hope that future historians who look back on our actions will be able to say that we acted not badly but well, not meanly but generously, that we acted not in the interest of one but in the interests of us all.

I acknowledge here on this day, as both a personal act of commitment and as a representative of all those of French ancestry and culture in whose country I stand, the sincerity of this gesture.

Mr. Warner: Mr. Speaker, it is said that when a legislator frames his laws he should have two things in view: the country and the people. That was said by Aristotle a long time ago. It is the context within which I frame my remarks. As Ontarians and as Canadians we must have the political will and the goodwill to keep this country together. We must use every bit of energy we have to find solutions. We must be completely open in our approach to the problems.

For my part this afternoon, I wish to address an aspect which all Canadians, in searching for a new constitution and a new arrangement, must surely discuss; that is, the Canadian Senate. I suppose if one took a public opinion poll one might find many Canadians, perhaps most, would be willing to do away with the Senate on the basis that it is irrelevant and that it has no power and no real position. I wish to abolish the Senate, but for the opposite reason; it is too powerful and without accountability. As I lay the arguments before you, I think you will see that clearly, Mr. Speaker.

Let us go back to the beginning of the Senate and why it was established. Basically, there were two tasks: first, to keep a conservative eye on the elected House of Commons in order to safeguard property interests and, second, to defend particular minority interests, provincial or regional. The British North America Act in 1867 gave the Senate veto power over all legislation the House of Commons might pass.

Perhaps the members at the time had this in mind, but it is in keeping with Plato’s theory of guardianship and rulers. If we can turn back to Plato for a moment, when he was discussing the formation of government he looked at the guardians and the way in which they would govern. From the guardians the people had to choose a select few, the rulers, who, like our Senate, would oversee what was going on and would have the power to veto. Plato said: “The kind of men we must choose from among the guardians will be those who, when we look at the whole course of their lives, are found to be full of zeal to do whatever they believe is good for the commonwealth and never willing to act against its interests.” That is a lofty ideal and one which, I suppose, would justify having a senate.

5:10 p.m.

He then goes on to put forth the criteria for those rulers. This section is a bit lengthy, but I ask members to bear with me. “With that end in view let us consider how they should live and be housed. First, none of them must possess any private property beyond the barest necessaries. Next, no one is to have any dwelling or storehouse that is not open for all to enter at will. Their food, in the quantities required by the men of temperance and courage who are training for war, they will receive from other citizens as the wages of their guardianship, fixed so that there shall be just enough for the year with nothing over, and they will have meals in common and all live together like soldiers in a camp.

“Gold and silver, we shall tell them, they will not need, having the divine counterparts of those metals always in their souls as a God-given possession whose purity is not lawful to sully by the acquisition of that mortal dross current among mankind which has been the occasion of so many unholy deeds. They alone, of all the citizens, are forbidden to touch and handle silver or gold, to come under the same roof with them, wear them as ornaments, drink from vessels made of them. This manner of life will be their salvation and make them saviours of the commonwealth.

“If ever they should possess land of their own, and houses and money, they will give up their guardianship for the management of their farms and households and become tyrants, in enmity with their fellow citizens instead of allies, and so they will pass all their lives in hating and being hated, plotting and being plotted against, in much greater fear of their enemies at home than of any foreign foe and fast heading for the destruction that will soon overwhelm their country with themselves.”

Those were the rulers, the senators, as Plato saw them. I ask members to think of our senators. Who are our senators? There is a very interesting book called The Canadian Senate: A Lobby from Within, written by Colin Campbell in 1978. It is very current, and he describes who our senators are. They mainly reside in urban federal constituencies. They usually have elite social backgrounds. Many are non-Catholic lawyers who hold a number of directorships in business firms. They tend to believe that their committee work and specialties flow naturally from their occupation, and they are likely to be in politics for partisan reasons. They usually feel accountable to their party above all. Many say they rarely communicate with constituents and rarely consult extraparty sources for information and advice on bills.

“The casual model assumes the following pattern: Senators who came from urban political environments are usually upper-crust, directors of firms, lawyers and non-Catholics and very often believe that they got into politics for partisan reasons and that they contribute occupational expertise to legislative review. Most partisan and expertise-oriented senators say that they are primarily accountable to their party organization and that they rarely communicate with constituents or with ad hoc inattentive publics. Senators with these narrow institutional orientations most strongly prefer business review.”

These are our senators. They are the rulers. They are the self-proclaimed statesmen who make sure the laws protect the business community. They generally represent the business elite. They represent also the faithful Liberal Party operators. From that, of course, unlike the operation around this Legislature, they can arrange the private mediations rather than public debates. They can liaise between the business world and the political world, personally pressuring the civil servants, the cabinet ministers and the MPs, and use the Senate committees, such as the banking, trade and commerce committee, to do the clause-by-clause study of key bills to ensure that the business community’s interests are protected.

The Senate is a lobby from within. Again, to quote from Mr. Campbell: “If one takes Liberal democracy seriously, one cannot condone the current lobby from within.” That is too soft. A democratic socialist rejects such injustice. Powerful, non-elected people, totally unrepresentative of working people, busy secretly fashioning policies which serve only the interests of the upper class, have no business in this society in Canada.

I would remind you, Mr. Speaker, that, as we go through the age of the high interest rates, we don’t hear the rich people complaining. They will continue to steal from the pockets of the workers.

There is no question in my mind that the Senate should be abolished. You will automatically ask me, Mr. Speaker, what we should put in its place, and we have heard many suggestions. The most current popular one is that we should have a House of the Provinces, and that idea seems to be gaining support across the country.

It seems to gain support, I have noted as I have heard other speakers, because there are certain political voids. The Liberals are unhappy because they do not have seats out west; the Conservatives are unhappy because they do not have seats in Quebec; we are unhappy because we do not have seats in the Maritimes, Quebec and a couple of other places. Each of the parties is unhappy because it does not have enough seats in a certain geographic location of the country.

Quite frankly, that is a problem for each political party. Why is it that the New Democratic Party is not popular with the people in the Maritimes? Why is it that the Conservatives do not appeal to those in Quebec, or the Liberals to those out west? I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I suggest that each of the parties sit down and make some self-examination as to why that is so, and not try to find some avenue legislatively to extricate themselves from that dilemma.

Quite frankly, I do not believe we need a House of the Provinces or any other substitute. Let us face squarely the situation that the Senate should not exist. It should be abolished. It does not serve the needs of most Canadians. It does serve the needs of some Canadians -- those who are rich and powerful. It helps to keep the interest rates high. It helps to ensure that the Americans control our economy. It bolsters foreign exploitation of our land and our people. There is no common sense in retaining the Senate.

I look forward to the day when there is a federal New Democratic Party in power, together with several provincial NDP governments, and a constitution which has a distinctly democratic socialist perspective. I would like to see a constitution which guarantees the public ownership of our natural resources and, in that constitution, a guaranteed formula for the equal sharing of the total riches of our country by each of the provinces and the territories. No more squabbling, but a sharing.

In that process, there would be no place for the Senate, none whatsoever. The lobby from within is not acceptable to me. Injured workers in Ontario have to lobby from outside the Legislature. Let the president of Inco do the same thing when he wants changes in the laws of this country.

5:20 p.m.

If we are looking for alternatives, which I feel are needed and necessary, there are many; all we have to do is to apply our imagination and we will find them. There is a much greater role and a wider scope for royal commissions than we have now. I expect there should be some expanded parliamentary committees at the federal level, and perhaps the opportunity for those committees to be structured in such a way as to include provincial counterparts, depending on the issue they are dealing with, to ensure a wide cross-section of views are expressed. There should be regular and guaranteed federal-provincial conferences, perhaps designed similarly to our committee responsibilities: that is, having an obligation to submit a report to the House of Commons and to each provincial legislature, and that report being debated.

For example, if the House of Commons were to deal with the serious question of our resources in Canada, it would make sense to have a committee of the House of Commons. It would make sense to have a provincial-federal conference to which each province would be invited and at which each party would be represented. Following that conference, or a series of conferences and meetings, there would be a report from the committee which would go to each legislature in Canada and to the House of Commons and a guarantee that the report would be debated on the floor of the assembly.

That is one idea and, I think, a useful one. But I submit that, for every imaginative idea I have, each other member can supply an equal number. If we apply ourselves to the task, we can find the alternatives to strengthen a new Confederation, and to do so without the Senate.

One other thought that came to mind as I was preparing for this speech comes, again, from Aristotle. He said that the legislator, and he who is truly a politician, ought to be acquainted not only with that which is most perfect in the abstract, but also that which is the best suited under every given circumstance.

That says to me that what we have to do is look at the ideal first. What is it we want from our Confederation? Surely one of the first things we want is to have control over our destiny. If we think about that for a moment, we might put it in terms of trying to wrest control away from the Americans and back to us.

Perhaps the Quebecois is thinking his destiny is within Quebec, and not within Canada. I hope we can say to that Quebecois that his destiny is within the country, within Canada. We will do everything we can to support his aspirations for his own culture and identity and his own heritage, but we believe he can do so in freedom and peace in Quebec and still be a Canadian. I think that is essential. We have to do everything we can to make sure that is the new Confederation we fashion. We can do it.

As we move to our task, which if we apply ourselves properly, if we put behind us, as we must, the shame of Penetanguishene and address ourselves to the inequalities which Franco-Ontarians have historically faced in this province and which I know will be resolved, I have one parting thought from one of my favourite poets, William Wordsworth, when he talks about the statesman.

Wordsworth said:

Blest statesman he, whose mind’s unselfish will

Leaves him at ease among grand thoughts; whose eye

Sees that, apart from magnanimity,

Wisdom exists not: nor the humbler skill

Of prudence, disentangling good and ill

With patient care. What tho’ assaults run high,

They daunt not him who holds his ministry,

Resolute, at all hazards, to fulfil

Its duties; -- prompt to move, but firm to wait, --

Knowing, things rashly sought are rarely found

That, for the functions of an ancient state --

Strong by her charters, free because imbound,

Servant of providence, not slave of fate --

Perilous is sweeping change, all chance unsound.

We must apply ourselves. We must have the political will and the goodwill to make sure that we have a new Confederation. We must apply imagination combined with integrity. If we do so, we can fashion a new Confederation, one which includes Quebec but one, I hope, without a Senate.

Mr. Watson: Mr. Speaker, it is a great privilege to participate in this debate. While this Legislature has debated many significant and important issues over the years, I believe there have been few debates as significant or as important to the future of Ontarians and the future of Canada as a whole as the one we are engaged in today. Fundamentally, we are talking about the future of our nation. We are talking about the future of Canada as we know it.

I was born in Ontario. My present home is near Paincourt, not far from Lake St. Clair. It is an agricultural area founded by some of the first French Canadians and English Canadians to settle in Upper Canada. Not far from my home is St. Peter’s Church, the second oldest parish in Canada. It sits facing the Thames River. St. Peter’s is a living and active testament to our Canadian heritage.

In Dover township and in Kent county, the French Canadians and English Canadians have long lived and worked together to build one of the most productive agricultural regions of this country. In recognition of that, the Ontario Heritage Foundation is to present a plaque this summer to honour their ancestors, the first French Canadians who settled in and worked to help develop this area. In doing so, we celebrate the fundamental nature of our community and our country -- a country which has been built on and must continue to be guided by hard work, thoughtfulness and tolerance.

The community which I represent in this Legislature has a long history of French descendants who have made an outstanding contribution to the community, to the province and to the country. I think of people such as the late Cecile Bechard, who for many years was a member of the Wallaceburg council and mayor of that community. I think of the former clerk of Dover township, Mr. Raoul Gagner, who was recognized as the leading expert in the administration of municipal drains throughout this province. After his retirement and before his death, he served as a member of the Environmental Assessment Board. I think of Eugene King, a leader in the Kent county community who, along with many other progressive agricultural leaders, provided the genesis for many of the agricultural marketing board policies now in effect in Ontario.

I would like to point to another living example in the person of Mr. Napoleon King, known to everybody as Nap, who, from humble beginnings in Dover township and as an early promoter of hybrid seed corn, has seen the present King Grain Company grow into an international organization with branches not only in Quebec, but also in France and with contacts in other countries. We are proud of the people of our community. The fact that many who have made significant contributions to our community, to our province and to our country happen to be of French ancestry draws admiration from all citizens.

Over and above my strong personal identification with my community is my allegiance to Canada.

5:30 p.m.

I would like to recall for a moment the circumstances under which the British North America Act was created. At that time the provinces of Ontario and Quebec were governed as one jurisdiction. Canada was in a state of political turmoil. Neither French nor English extremists were able to agree on policy, despite the coalitions established by the more moderate Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir Georges Cartier.

Out of this turmoil and political deadlock came the British North America Act and the concept of Confederation, a concept that allowed Upper Canada to develop as Ontario, reaffirmed Quebec’s demand for cultural autonomy, and strengthened the Canadian presence on the North American continent.

Confederation was, therefore, a compromise which fulfilled the expectations of all concerned and created a bicultural nation in law and in fact. In the 113 years since Confederation, the nature of our country has changed. We have control of a vast, magnificent, diverse land. Ours is a nation rich in resources, a nation with natural wealth and human resources to build a self-sufficient future.

In a world where interdependence is equated with survival, Canadians must come to grips with the future and reaffirm their commitment to a renewed Confederation that will provide the flexibility our diversity demands, while ensuring that every Canadian will share our security and wealth.

Canada has been referred to as the breadbasket of the world. We are net exporters of food and one of the world’s leading producers of food grains and livestock. Canada could be agriculturally self-sufficient, with the exception of a few nonessential items such as lemons and coffee. This is a considerable advantage at this time in history when scarcity of food is one of the gravest problems that faces, and will face, the less advantaged countries.

Each region of this country produces what its soil and climate is best suited to produce. This may be wheat and beef in the Prairies, fruits and vegetables in British Columbia, potatoes in the Maritimes, or one of the many diversified and wide-ranging commodities produced in Ontario and Quebec.

The agricultural community of southwestern Ontario has a unique arrangement with many fellow Canadians living in Quebec. We are blessed with the climate and soil which permits the production of more than 8,000 acres of tomatoes in Kent county. Over the years, many French families from Quebec have made lasting acquaintances in southwestern Ontario, because those families have come to our part of the province to assist us with the harvesting of this important crop, which then benefits our whole country.

I would point out that in many cases the relationship has been more than the ordinary employer-employee relationship, and families have become good personal friends. Visitations and exchanges have taken place between our area and Quebec. This relationship originally began when the people from Quebec came to southwestern Ontario to assist with the agriculture harvest.

All Canadians enjoy an abundant supply and variety of nutritious food at reasonable prices. The federal government is responsible for providing financial support to a level that makes it economically feasible to remain in farming. A number of programs are designed to ensure the stability of the farmer-producer returns, from farm improvement loans to tariff policies to import and export controls, and subsidies through the Department of Regional Economic Expansion.

No province in a united Canada will ever have to depend on foreign imports for food. The knowledge of this security is a right of every Canadian. I use the example of agriculture because I believe it provides a good example of the flexibility and workability that is built into our federal system, not by historical accident, but by design. It is this flexibility, which focuses on federal-provincial co-operation, that will enable Canada to change the status quo and address the concerns of French Canadians.

I am very anxious that we achieve these reforms, which are necessary to secure the economic basis of every province and to guarantee linguistic and cultural rights for everyone.

When I was a college student I spent a summer working in the Noranda area in Quebec. Although I was working in another province, I was working in Canada and felt at home. In 1967, when I visited Expo, I was extremely impressed and moved by that tremendous exhibition. It was the type of event which I had never personally experienced before or ever had the same feeling about since. The people of Montreal, of Quebec and of Canada were proud of that undertaking. Similarly, when the Olympics came to Montreal, as a Canadian I shared in the pride that we as a country were hosting the Olympics. Other parts of this country have contributed in their own special way. We are both proud and happy to be Canadians when this happens.

I acknowledge the contribution made to Canada in many fields by people of Quebec. For my part, I ask them to continue to share the many opportunities we all as Canadians have in this great country. The social and political analysis which we are now embarking on is long overdue. It is our national responsibility to respond to the present challenge with frankness, with honesty and with vision. Our task is to reaffirm the viability of the great nation which is our home and to safeguard Canada for our children and future generations.

I am a Canadian in favour of one Canada.

I truly hope that those in our sister province of Quebec will work with us and all other Canadians for our mutual benefit and for Canada’s future.

Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, it is with a great deal of pride that I rise to participate in this debate. It is a historic debate, a necessary one at this particular point in the history of Canada. The debate is centred on a resolution which has been agreed to by all parties in this House. The resolution was moved by the Premier and seconded jointly by the Leader of the Opposition and the leader of the third party. The resolution in itself is extremely clear, and no one can misconstrue its contents. It says that Ontario as its highest priority will support negotiations for a new constitution to satisfy the diverse aspirations of all Canadians. It affirms our opposition to the negotiation of sovereignty-association. Finally, it asks all Quebeckers to join with other Canadians in building a new national constitution, something that has not been done for 113 years.

I would like to comment in a personal way about Canada. I came to this country when I was four years old -- my parents, my brothers, my sister and myself. When my parents were deciding whether they should leave their homeland, I am sure they did not say, “Let’s go to Ontario.” In fact, they said: “Let’s go to Canada. In Canada there is opportunity. In Canada there is a chance for progress.”

As my family was making its decision to come to this particular part of Canada, there were many other people of Italian origin who were making the same decision of moving their families to Canada. Some went to Quebec, some went to the west and some went to the Maritimes. In the final analysis, they were saying, “Let’s go to Canada” because they understood that all the provinces were Canada.

5:40 p.m.

When Canada was created 113 years ago, it was set up in a unique way. The people who created Canada realized that because of the size of our nation and the two dominant cultures in our societies, English and French, regional aspirations were going to be important and should be respected. That is why today we have 10 provinces in Canada, all with their own governments, all capable through their own legislatures of meeting the aspirations of the regions. No other country in the world can claim such a flexible central government. No other country in the world can claim that regional aspirations are capable of being met as they are in Canada. We have a system that has worked.

Now, almost 113 years later, it is time to refine this system. It is time to bring the system up to date, to meet modern demands and the demands of the future. Now is not the time to attack and tear down Canada for any errors which may have been committed in the past. Now is the time to help build Canada for the future.

Two ways in which any nation is built are athletics and cultural activities. First, let me deal with the importance of athletics to Canada as a whole. It is clear to me that by working together we have achieved distinction in athletic endeavours in a way that is unique to Canada and would be destroyed by the dismemberment of Canada. As Canadians, we have excelled in many sports, competing against the very best that the world has to offer, competing against all nations of the world. Athletes from every part of Canada have donned their uniforms and entered into competition, secure in the knowledge that the entire country is cheering them. More important, citizens across this country cheer athletes at the sight of the red maple leaf that is worn with distinction by so many people.

I would find it difficult to search out a single person in this country who follows Grand Prix racing who would say that Gilles Villeneuve is a Quebecker and not a Canadian. Gilles Villeneuve is respected on a regional basis because of where he makes his home, and he is respected on a national basis because of his citizenship.

All of us know there is a measure of pride involved when an athlete rises to prominence, whether it be Graham Smith, Kathy Kreiner or others, but in the final analysis we stand behind these excellent people because they represent all of us. Their achievements are reflected on Canada as a whole.

I am sure many Canadians, from British Columbia to Newfoundland, could say what they were doing the moment they heard Paul Henderson had scored the winning goal in that momentous hockey game against the Russians. Traffic in several Canadian cities came to a halt as jubilant motorists celebrated this last-minute triumph. We celebrated because Canada had won.

We Canadians not only compete with distinction in international competition, but we have also developed a network of professional and amateur competition that has served to further the understanding and unity within this country. The regular exchange visits of teams and competitors have given thousands of young Canadians a sense of diversity and richness of this country. We would do well to remember some of the lessons that are learned on the playing fields and in the arena. Nation building is a team activity. The players must keep the main objective in mind, and they must work together.

When there are rules that need changing for the betterment of all, the rules are changed. Rule books, like constitutions, are formed in an evolutionary manner. Without overdwelling on this aspect, let me draw one example of how the dynamics of one sporting activity might be useful to us as concerned citizens.

One of the most successful teams in the history of hockey, coincidentally called the Canadiens, traditionally has shown teamwork and co-operation unmatched in any other field of endeavour. Players with talent, whether francophones, anglophones or representatives of our multicultural community, work together as a cohesive unit. The Canadiens truly are champions. Their success reflects on all of us. Culture, like sport, is extremely important to the fibre of a nation. It was once said that culture is what remains when all else is forgotten. Canada is unique in the area of culture. In this country we have been able to allow Canadian culture to grow and flourish in two languages. Canada is one of the few countries in the world that has succeeded in maintaining artistic endeavours in two languages and has succeeded in achieving quality in both. I am glad to be part of a country that has done this.

Somewhere in all of this the multicultural community has also made its mark. There is not a Canadian of any cultural background who cannot point with pride to a host of musicians, artists, authors, artisans and poets who have achieved recognition within Canada and beyond our borders. This, to me, is a tribute to the success of our Canadian experience.

I was looking for a recent example of a Canadian who has found acclaim in an international forum. It is ironic that one person who has recently gained major recognition in the international field is a French Canadian who represents a culture that has received little help in its survival since 1755 and would not be helped in any way by the separation of Quebec. Antonine Maillet, author, received the Prix Goncourt in 1979, an outstanding tribute to all of Canada.

In conclusion, I would like to say that the provinces have had the opportunity, on a provincial level, to expand in cultural and recreational areas. Let me give some examples. Under archives, galleries, theatres and so on, the following provinces have spent the following sums of money:

In 1958, British Columbia spent $500,000. In that year, Ontario spent $1.1 million and Quebec spent $2.3 million. In 1978, in the same category, British Columbia spent $9 million; Ontario, $33 million; and Quebec, $28 million.

In the category of parks, historic sites and other recreational areas: Newfoundland spent $300,000 in 1958; $3.5 million in 1978. Ontario spent $4.7 million in 1958; $71 million in 1978. Quebec spent $3.4 million in 1958 but was able to spend $94.9 million in 1978.

Under film, radio and television, Alberta spent $100,000 in 1958; $2.2 million in 1978. Ontario spent $200,000 in 1958 but $14.3 million in 1978. Quebec had no expenditure in that area in 1958 but was able to spend $5 million in 1978.

From the above examples, it can be seen that regional aspirations have been dealt with in the past 100 years. Today, the challenge is to better meet those needs for the future.

In closing, I would like to say that I feel comfortable in Canada and I would want all Quebeckers to feel comfortable in Canada. I love Canada and I say let’s get on with the change.

5:50 p.m.

On motion by Mr. Charlton, on behalf of Mr. Dukszta, the debate was adjourned.

Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I could have the consent of the House to revert to motions.




Hon. Mr. Wells moved that the House sit on Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in addition to the regular afternoon and evening sittings.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Speaker: For the benefit of members, I would like to announce the names of those honourable members who have indicated they would like to participate in the debate on Confederation tomorrow. They are Mr. Dukszta, Mr. Baetz, Mr. Van Horne, Mr. Grande, Mr. Pope, Mr. T. P. Reid, Mr. Lupusella, Miss Stephenson, Mr. J. Reed and Mr. Makarchuk.

The House adjourned at 5:51 p.m.