31e législature, 4e session

L045 - Fri 9 May 1981 / Ven 9 mai 1981

The House met at 10 am.



Mr. Speaker: Before calling on the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk, I would like to remind all members that you have agreed that 30 minutes for question period will be sufficient because of other events that are to follow. I would like to caution all members to keep their questions and answers brief so that we might have a more equitable sharing of the time.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, I regret the absence of the Minister of Industry and Tourism -- but I see the one who has all the answers approaching -- oh, and his lap dog.

Mr. Speaker: I hope they both heard my friendly reminder that we are restricted to 30 minutes.


Mr. Nixon: Yes, Mr. Speaker; if you would now start the clock.

I would direct a question to the Minister of Industry and Tourism. Will he bring us up to date on the negotiations with the bailout program for Chrysler? While he is doing so, will he comment on press reports that it is Ontario and specifically this minister who is holding up the announcement of a program which would put Chrysler on a reasonable basis to continue, to remove the problems faced, not only by the workers, but also by the dealerships right across this country?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: May I say to the acting leader of the Liberal Party, in the presence of my leader and in the absence of his leader on this Friday morning, that there is nothing I can report today since nothing has occurred from the time I answered his question yesterday afternoon. There have been no new developments.

The second part of the question refers to us allegedly getting out of the way so that assistance can be given on a reasonable basis to help the workers in the city of Windsor and other places and to help the Chrysler dealers.

If all the governments involved believed there was a deal which offered reasonable assistance at this time to the auto workers in Windsor and to the Chrysler dealers, I can assure this House there would have been a deal by now. In point of fact, because we have been unable to meet the kinds of criteria that I think most members of this House agree are necessary in order to provide that protection to the auto workers, we do not have a deal yet.

Mr. Nixon: Will the minister not agree that at least one event has happened since he reported to the House? That is, his counterpart federally had indicated there would be a formal announcement in Parliament and then withdrew, indicating there would be no announcement. This was followed by press reports that it was because of the intransigence of the government of Ontario. Would the minister indicate whether there is any content in that and, if so, what is the minister being intransigent about?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: That was not a new development since yesterday’s question period. Yesterday there was an intention to make announcements both here and in Ottawa at about three o’clock. Before our question period started, both the announcements were cancelled because all of the persons involved agreed that we would all make announcements at the same time, regardless of the content. In other words, regardless of whether we were all agreeing on a deal, all saying there would be no deal, or both of us taking different positions, whatever the statements would be, they would be made at the same time. So, before question period started yesterday, there was agreement that no statements would be made yesterday.

The second part of the question referred, I think, to whether we were being intransigent. We are being firm in our determination to make a deal that meets the needs of the auto workers in this province. That is not a new development; our position has not changed in quite some time. We are being absolutely firm and insisting upon the kinds of guarantees that are meaningful to the people in this province. I am not sure it would be accurate to suggest there was a new position taken by this government yesterday which caused the delay. That just would not be accurate.

Mr. Renwick: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the indication from the minister that there has been no change in the government’s position on the conditions with respect to the aid. I have a supplementary question in the hope that I can narrow down what the problem has turned out to be. Yesterday the minister referred to a $250-million target which Chrysler US had achieved in one area. Was there a similar allocation of funds that had to be raised from another area, and has Chrysler US met the target in that area, or is the participation by this government or the federal government necessary for them to meet some other part of the target that will permit US government funds to be made available to Chrysler?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: I think that is an interesting point, Mr. Speaker. The American legislation set out a requirement that Chrysler raise $1.43 billion from a variety of sources. Those sources included union wage concessions, concessions from the suppliers to Chrysler, the raising of funds from Chrysler dealers and others, concessions from their banking institutions and the sale of Chrysler assets.

From that pool of money, there was to be raised approximately $1.2 billion -- actually $1.18 billion. In addition to that, $250 million was to be raised from state, local and other governments. The package was, in essence, a private sector package, plus $250 million from state, local and other governments, to comprise $1.43 billion. The state, local and other government portion has been subscribed for, most prominently by the state of Michigan offering about $150 million in loans which were drawn down last Friday. In addition, there have been other states and municipalities participating; so the total now exceeds $250 million.

In that sense, as to the degree to which the Canadian governments are being asked to contribute, I can only presume from the information we have at hand, including the American legislation, that the Canadian governmental portion appears to be replacing some of the private sector funds that failed to come into play by the deadline set by the US loan board.

Mr. Sargent: Mr. Speaker, in view of the 14,000 jobs in Windsor and of the news this morning that 10,000 workers at GM are coming up on furlough, and since we are talking in each case of about $500 million in salaries per year, whereas the government’s offer of $50 million is only coffee money, may I ask the minister whether his brains trust has thought of forming a consortium from the windfall profits of the oil companies and the banks to bail out the private enterprise system instead of going to the taxpayers all the time?

Secondly, now that the minister and the Premier are playing with all our millions of dollars the way they are, has the minister thought that the Leader of the Opposition and the New Democratic Party leader should meet with him and should be involved in these negotiations to know what the hell is going on because we don’t know right now?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: First, Mr. Speaker, to this government and to this minister $50 million is a lot of money. Unlike the suggestion the honourable member makes, it is not pocket money or whatever he suggested. Secondly, we have not acknowledged that we are talking about $50 million.

Thirdly, as I read the comments and the suggestions from the floor, they are exactly in line with the kinds of things we are seeking. So I have a clear message and direction from this assembly. I can assure this assembly we are trying to follow that direction and we are taking an equally firm position and one which I think members of this House would respect in those negotiations.


Mr. Martel: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier. With the closing of Caland, Steep Rock, National Steel and now the iron ore recovery plant at lnco, can the Premier tell me what action his government is undertaking to ensure that when there is an upturn in the economy we will be in the position to supply that need from our mines, particularly in view of the fact it is going to take several years to bring any of those operations back into production? What plans have we got to ensure that we will be in a position to meet the needs of the industry?

10:10 a.m.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, the member for Sudbury (Mr. Germa) asked me a question yesterday related to this matter. I indicated to him that we would have a fuller report. I expect to have that early next week.

I have some preliminary information as it relates to Inco Metals, which I know is one area that is of concern to all of us. There is a general feeling that the number of employees affected can be absorbed into the Inco operations generally; so, in terms of the employment situation, it is to be hoped this is not a problem.

In terms of the industry itself, though, there is no question that the steel industry internationally has taken a turn for the worse. Fortunately this country has not been affected as much, but at the same time there has been a downturn in the industry on a worldwide basis. The member has seen this in the United States in particular.

My preliminary information as it relates to Inco is that they have approximately 500,000 tons stockpiled. One of the difficulties is that, with the change in technology within the steel industry, that particular type of ore is not as marketable. I do not say it is not good ore, but it is a different grade of ore and, as a result, is not as marketable as was the case some years ago.

Part of the problem for the ore industry, particularly for the steel industry, is to see whether there are ways and means of using more Canadian ore, in terms of the technology, with the recognition that there are apparently great differences in the quality or the kind of ore that is available. I am asking the Ministry of Natural Resources to get me more comprehensive information for the members of the House which will outline some of the complexities of this issue.

I can assure the honourable member that to the extent that it is possible within the industry itself, it will utilize the Canadian resource when the industry gets back into full production. That is an objective of all of us, I am sure. At the same time, if some of the ore is not suitable for the process, that adds a degree of complication which I cannot assure the honourable members we can overcome. But as soon as we have this factual information we will point it out.

My preliminary information is that the figure used by the member for Sudbury as to the possible percentage of imported ore is probably fairly close. It may be out four or five per cent, but I do not think that is relevant in this situation. I am informed that it does relate to the mix or kinds of ore being used in the process. I or the minister will have some further information some time next week.

Mr. Martel: Can I ask the Premier if he now is prepared to re-establish a cabinet committee that will look into the problems and come up with some solutions or some policy with respect to not only the one-industry towns in northern Ontario, but also what is happening in the whole of the mineral industry? In this province we are not getting the type of exploration that is going on in other provinces, and certainly it is the cornerstone of our economy. Would the Premier constitute such a committee, giving them a mandate to proceed and to come back with some policy, as was promised two and a half years ago when Inco laid off workers back in 1977?

Hon. Mr. Davis: I should make one observation. I think it is fair to state that exploration is continuing in this province. We believe there are still many potential resources that have not yet been explored and certainly are not in any process of development. I think the member has to differentiate between, say, the problems in the iron ore industry from those involving other minerals that exist in northern Ontario.

Mr. Laughren: I get angry every time you talk about resources, because you squander them,

Hon. Mr. Davis: In one breath the honourable member says we are squandering; in the next breath his colleague says we are not doing enough to develop them. I guess the reality is somewhere in between.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I understand the member for Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds), in his simplistic approach to some of these complex issues --

Mr. Speaker: The member for Port Arthur does not have the floor.

Hon. Mr. Davis: The reality is that in most of these areas, in the steel industry itself, in the actual production of steel, this province is very competitive. The members opposite do not want to acknowledge it, they do not understand it, but the reality is that we are.

Even in the field of nickel, which is dear to the hearts of us all, in spite of the criticisms and objections the members opposite have towards the nickel industry, once again we are relatively competitive. It has done an excellent job for the economy of this province. This is true in other resource sectors. It is even true in the pulp and paper industry, where the members opposite have objected strenuously to assistance by this government to secure employment for the people in --

Mr. Speaker: Order. I recall the question had something to do with the setting up of a committee.

Mr. T. P. Reid: Mr. Speaker, in view of the severity of the recession we may be entering and of what has happened in some of our one-industry communities, particularly Atikokan, Marmora, et cetera, does the Premier not feel it would be to the benefit of the people of Ontario, particularly those people who are living in those communities with the resources there, that the government become more interested and revert to what the Premier promised us two and a half years ago during Inco; that is, a thrust in this area in regard to our one-industry towns and particularly the mineral bodies we have in Ontario? Would the government look at the whole situation, including the incentives and disincentives available in the United States which are putting some of our mines out of business with that kind of competition?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is referring to the policies of this government relating to “one-industry towns” in northern Ontario. There are really two segments to this; one is the mineral or mining industry and the other is the pulp and paper industry. I would remind the honourable member who asked the question that in the one area where market conditions still remain relatively healthy, namely, a number of one-industry towns related to the pulp and paper industry -- and I would emphasize this -- this government, incidentally without the support of the members opposite, has moved to assist those one-industry towns.

I find it rather contradictory, if I can say this to the honourable member, for him to be opposing what we are doing for one sector of one-industry towns in northern Ontario and then to suggest we are neglecting them. It is not true. He has been opposed to what we are doing to the pulp and paper industry, but we are securing those one-industry towns that relate to that industry through the enlightened policy of this government, which the member opposite’s leader and party refused to support. I think he should remember that.

As it relates to the mining sector, the concern is genuine; we share it. I do not think there are any simplistic answers. If a one-industry town is related totally at this stage to the mining industry and there is no market demand for whatever is being mined within that community, we do not have any instant solutions.

In terms of trying to develop ways and means of helping, as we have done over the years in Atikokan, the honourable member knows full well the efforts that have been made by this government to assist that municipality. If he does not know it, I know people in that municipality who do and who have told members of this government they appreciate what we have attempted to do for the very important municipality.


Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I rise to make a brief answer to the question raised on Monday by the member for Quinte (Mr. O’Neil) with respect to the follow-up to the inquest into the death of Steven Yuz.

I can inform the House that the board of the Hospital for Sick Children has decided to establish an external committee of medical experts and lay representatives to address the coroner’s jury’s recommendations. The chairman of the committee will be Dr. Maurice MacGregor, professor of medicine at McGill University and formerly the dean of medicine and vice-principal of that university. The rest of the members of the committee will be announced shortly by the hospital. Their findings will be reported to the board, and the board chairman has assured me the review will be made public. It is hoped this committee will be able to complete its review and present its findings by the end of this summer.

The matter of the investigation into the missing records is in the hands of the police and the Solicitor General (Mr. McMurtry).

10:20 a.m.

Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry I missed the first part of the answer. I assume it is related to the death of Steven Yuz at the Hospital for Sick Children. Would the minister tell us today whether he intends to make available the transcripts of the inquest?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I answered that question on Monday. As I said, when we in this ministry or in any ministry receive a set of recommendations from a coroner’s jury, that is all we get, the recommendations and the comments. If we want the transcripts, we have to buy them from our resources.

Mr. McClellan: Isn’t the minister even going to look at them himself?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: We have not decided whether we are going to, but the honourable member’s party receives several hundred thousand dollars a year in research moneys which can be used to purchase them, if he feels he needs them.

Mr. O’Neil: Mr. Speaker, the minister said the Solicitor General would be looking into the facts coming from the report. Is it the intention of the Minister of Health to bring criminal charges if he is able to find out who stole or took those records?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I think that question should be directed to the Solicitor General. My advice is that the matter is under police investigation.


Mr. Ruston: Mr. Speaker, a brief question of the Minister of Industry and Tourism: Can the minister inform the House whether he has made a decision with regard to the Ontario Development Corporation in terms of assistance for rebuilding the devastated area in the town of Essex?

Hon. Mr. Grossman: Mr. Speaker, it was my hope that the ODC report to myself and cabinet would be concluded by this week but, because of other matters we have been looking into, that will not be the case. I would hope to have something by Monday or Tuesday of next week. I cannot hold out the hope of a lot of assistance. I do not want to mislead the member or the people in Essex, but we are continuing to look at it. I should have an answer Monday or Tuesday.


Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Energy. Can the minister inform the House, and the members of the select committee on Ontario Hydro affairs, what motivated that extraordinary intervention by his deputy to the staff of the select committee with regard to our report on waste management? Did it come from him? Did it come from the deputy? Did it come from within the ministry?

Does he not agree that after the deputy had the opportunity to testify before the committee twice, if not three times, on the topic, the ministry had ample opportunity to put its views to the committee? Will he not agree this should be interpreted as an intervention in the objectivity of an all-party committee?

Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, if I might address the last part of the question, the answer quite definitely is no, I do not see this as any attempt to interfere with the objectivity of an all-party committee. The honourable member obviously would appreciate that the first opportunity anyone would have to draw attention to what may be referred to as factual inaccuracies would be after the staff report was made public.

The only interpretation that should be put on this whole exercise and the document is that having examined the staff report there was some feeling that there were some factual matters which should be drawn to the attention of the author of the staff report. We have a document that is directed to the staff person, setting out those particular inaccuracies. I have always been one who never has felt that facts interfere with objectivity.

Mr. Foulds: Can the minister tell us specifically what facts of the select committee’s report, as opposed to interpretation of facts and testimony, are challenged by his ministry in this weighty document?

Hon. Mr. Welch: I would remind the honourable member that his question is perhaps unfortunately worded. We are not talking about a select committee report. We are talking about the staff’s report, which I understand the members of that select committee will use as a basis for coming to their own conclusions on the facts.

Mr. Foulds: What facts are mentioned in this report that are challenged?

Hon. Mr. Welch: I don’t know. I thought the question period was over at 10.30 a.m. We can start reading from page one. Has the honourable member read the document?

Mr. Conway: Mr. Speaker, having read the document, my question is, did the Minister of Energy authorize that particular document? What was his role? More particularly, what was the role of the solicitor who was mentioned? Did this come forward exclusively at the behest of the deputy minister as an individual? More specifically, what was the role of the Minister of Energy, who some of us rightly or wrongly assume directs the affairs of the Ministry of Energy?

Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, when I arrived this morning my name was still on the office door. I thought I might draw that to the member’s attention, in case he missed it. It is still on the door.

Number two: In our system of government here the minister always carries the full responsibility of his ministry. Number three: The deputy minister, in his desire and in his keen pursuit for truth, came to the minister and said, “If you would have no objection, Mr. Minister, we would like to have the solicitor for the ministry, who has been watching these events from day to day, draw up a memorandum stating where we feel the staff might want their attention drawn to factual inaccuracies.” That I concurred with and indeed accept the responsibility for.


Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Housing. In view of the fact that certain Ontario Housing projects have been sold to private enterprise here in the city of Toronto, can the minister assure those living in Ontario Housing in the city of Windsor that their housing projects will not be sold from under them? Can he assure them of having rent-geared-to-income from this government?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I have spoken on the subject of the one project in this community which has been disposed of out of the assets of the Ontario Housing Corporation, and I think I have given a very complete answer as to why it took place and what happened. It was an agreement between the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the Ministry of Housing on the advice of the board of directors of the Ontario Housing Corporation.

I made it very clear in my estimates of last year and in response to other questions in this House that, generally speaking, it is not the intention of this government or of the Ontario Housing Corporation to dispose of housing units. The Bell case, which we dealt with some months ago in this House during question period, was a specific case where we disposed of property because an individual wanted to purchase it. But it has not been and will not be the policy to dispose of public housing.

We have a social responsibility to provide for both families and seniors who require assistance, whether it be by direct ownership of the government and the people of Ontario, or through a rent supplement program, and that policy will be retained in force.

Mr. B. Newman: The minister does not intend to replace the present stock of housing in the Windsor area through the rent supplement program, does he?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: It has been our intention to accommodate those on the waiting lists, at the request of the municipalities and others, either through a rent supplement program or through a nonprofit housing corporation which could be owned privately or through the municipality. That is the way we have been going in the last year or year and a half, and it has worked very effectively both in this community and right across Ontario.

Mr. Dukszta: Mr. Speaker, can the minister tell me why the ministry has sold the property at Bergamo for $500,000 less than it paid for it? Why is it less than it was worth? Did he put any tenders out?

Will the minister table in the House the appraisal that was done before they sold it? How much was lost on it altogether?

Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, when the cost of this particular property was declared for maintaining, retaining and refurbishing it for public housing use, it became extremely prohibitive. That was an agreement and was understood very clearly by the boards of directors of Ontario Housing Corporation; it was concurred in by CMHC, which is a partner in that particular project. CMHC made it very clear to us that it was not prepared to be involved in the refurbishing of that project in this community.

So that there is no misunderstanding: At no time were the tenants of the 112 units of that particular project evicted. They were moved from that project on the understanding that there had to be some very major repairs done to it. The cost of moving and re-moving them was borne by the Ontario Housing Corporation.

Back to the question in particular. Bids were called for the property when it was declared as being too expensive to refurbish. There were four or five bids put in. The top one, Cannone (Northern) Limited, bid $1.25 million; the Labour Council Development Foundation of Toronto bid $1,050,000; Academy Consolidated Development Incorporated bid $1,051,000, and Parwest Construction bid $1,200,000. The sale of the property was awarded, on the recommendation of both Ontario Housing Corporation and CMHC, to Cannone (Northern) Limited for $1.25 million. It is absolutely correct that there was a loss to the corporation, shared by CMHC, of some $437,000.

10:30 a.m.


Mr. Mackenzie: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Labour. Given the agreement that existed up until a week ago to notify one another of any problems or any changes in the picket line arrangements at Arrowhead Metals Limited, can the Minister of Labour explain to this House how a security guard can come out of the shack on to the street, wave both ways, immediately have two police cruisers move up, park diagonally, and then run trucks out of the plant? Does he not see this as a deliberate provocation, and is this not the kind of misuse of the police force in the province that we have simply got to deal with in labour disputes?

Hon. Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, I would submit that that is a question that should be directed to the Solicitor General (Mr. McMurtry). I would be glad to speak to him about it.



Resuming the adjourned debate on the constitutional resolution.

Mr. Cassidy: Monsieur l’Orateur, c’est un honneur de participer dans ce débat. Il fait maintenant vingt ans depuis le commencement de la révolution tranquille au Québec, trois ans et demi depuis l’élection du Parti Québécois, le 15 novembre 1976, et onze jours avant le référendum du Québec.

Ce n’est aucun secret que dans l’opinion du Nouveau Parti Démocratique ce débat sur la constitution et sur l’unité nationale a beaucoup tardé. Je regrette le fait que nous avons attendu jusqu’à maintenant pour décider sur l’établissement d’un comité select sur la constitution. Quand même, nous avons commencé.

Dans mon opinion, le référendum du 20 mai ne doit pas marquer la termination du débat sur la constitution, mais doit marquer un nouveau commencement dans la recherche d’une nouvelle constitution pour le Canada.

The New Democratic Party is committed to working with Canadians from coast to coast to achieve a new constitution that will create economic and social justice and that will respond to the needs and aspirations of Canadians in every region of this great country. We support the all-party resolution because it is essential that Ontario send as strong a message as possible to the rest of Canada that we in this province are prepared to negotiate a new constitution for Canada and that we are prepared to embark on those negotiations at the earliest possible moment.

Canada does need constitutional changes but, more important, we need a change in political will and in political commitment. We need leadership that will draw Canadians together. In my remarks today, I want to outline the directions that New Democrats believe will lead to a better future. Some changes will require constitutional amendment. Others will simply require that governments use their existing power. Only if both approaches are used, however, can we build a new Canada and can we respond to the grievances which are felt not only in Quebec, but also in the rest of Canada.

New Democrats have always acknowledged the right of Quebeckers to choose their own future and we have been forthright in this debate in asserting Quebec’s right to self-determination, but we are federalists as well. We believe that the needs of the Quebecois and the citizens of every province can best be met within a united Canada. That is why we cannot accept sovereignty-association.

The debate over the constitution is really a debate over the future of Canada and over the kind of Canada we create for this country’s second century. It was in this context that we planned our contribution to this constitution debate this past week. My colleagues have talked about some of the traditional subjects as constitutional reform, such as the second chamber, the division of powers and the process of constitutional change.

As New Democrats, they also talked about the economic and the social injustices which have been tolerated under old parties in this country. They have talked about regional disparities and about the need for Canadians to become maîtres chez nous in regaining control of our economy. As democratic socialists, we can ask for nothing less.

I want to congratulate those many members of my party and of other parties as well who took the plunge and spoke French in this Legislature for the first time. Reflecting the multicultural diversity of our province, New Democrats who spoke in this debate yesterday also put their case for a new constitution in a united Canada in Polish, Ukrainian, Italian and Portuguese, as well as in Canada’s two national languages.

As I listened to the debate this week, it was intriguing to hear the diversity of our country which is reflected just among members of our chamber. We all have a personal experience of Canada which is defined by our background, and I am no exception. My father was a British Columbia farm boy, a pioneer in social welfare, a founder of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation and the author of the first medicare plan in Canada. My mother was one of the first women ever to graduate in nursing from the University of British Columbia and was a pioneer in the field of public health nursing.

I was born in Victoria, raised in Toronto and spent parts of my life in the United States, Britain and Germany, as well as working in Montreal, before I made my home in Ottawa. Long before the quiet revolution, I had the privilege of spending a year at the Petit Seminaire, a school whose origins date back to Bishop Laval and to the founding of New France. I was totally immersed in a French environment in the heart of Quebec City and part of a culture which in many important respects had hardly changed in close to 200 years. That society is no more, for a torrent of change has swept through Quebec in the 30 years since I studied there.

It is important for us in Ontario to try to understand that change, to comprehend the struggle with the church, to realize the dilemma Quebeckers have faced in choosing between their rural and nonindustrial past and the urbanized technological future they have now chosen. It is important to understand the vivid way in which the memories of the conquest and the real humiliations which the Quebecois have suffered since 1763 still linger on to this day. It is important to understand -- as not even Pierre Trudeau seems to have learned -- that the sentiments of Quebec nationalism are hardly a recent phenomenon.

Nationalism in its diverse form is a constant theme in French-Canadian history from Papineau to Riel, from Bourassa to the present day. One of the strengths of the Parti Quebecois is that the banner of nationalism has brought together stockbrokers and psychiatrists, trade union leaders and TV stars, poets and pipefitters and ordinary working people in a way which has no parallel among the political parties in English Canada. This is no bookkeeping exercise the PQ are engaged in. When the Péquistes coined their slogan, “J’ai le goût de Québec,” they were speaking to a nationalism of the heart whose roots go back 350 years in Quebec history. So little of this is really understood by us in English Canada.

Back in the 1960s, when I was a journalist with the Financial Times of Canada at its head office in Montreal, I was the only journalist in a staff of 12 who had any fluency in French. So much for our response to the French fact. I recall the flash of understanding I had one day when I had lunch with a friend at a posh businessmen’s restaurant in Montreal. My Quebecois friend was rapidly making his mark as a stockbroker but he saw no conflict in that with his Quebecois nationalism. In fact, he confided to me that Quebec’s finances had been dominated for too long by English Canada and one of his goals was to drive the English financiers out of St. James Street.

Quebec is a part of me. Quebec is a part of my Canada. I have been privileged to grow up bilingual and thereby to know and understand a bit more about our two founding peoples in this country. The Canada that I know and love will no longer exist without Quebec, but we must recognize the tide of Quebec nationalism has run broad and deep now for many decades and the PQ’s election in 1976 was not just a temporary aberration. In fact, all parties in Quebec now seek major constitutional change, not just the Parti Quebecois. That is the challenge to which we in the Legislature and we in the rest of Canada must respond.

En justice, nous pourrons demander à nos amis au Québec de reconnaître aussi des vérités concernant le reste du Canada. Pour commencer, nous ne sommes pas tous des WASPs. Et bien plus de la moitié de la population dans l’ouest du Canada ne sont ni d’origine anglaise, ni d’origine française. Et 40 pour cent des gens de l’Ontario aussi sont de la troisième force et ne viennent pas d’origine canadienne, anglaise ou française.

We are far from monolithic because the interest of every province and every region differs significantly.

10:40 a.m.

Les griefs de l’ouest contre le reste du Canada sont aussi vieux que son histoire. Et maintenant l’Ontario trouve que nous aussi avons des problèmes qu’on doit résoudre par le moyen d’un réexamen de nos buts nationaux. Des problèmes tels que l’énergie, l’assurance de l’énergie venant de l’Alberta à des prix abordables. Des problèmes tels que l’augmentation de paiements de péréquation qui sont créés à cause des augmentations du revenu-ressources dans l’ouest, mais qui sont payés surtout par les contribuables de l’Ontario.

Si les Québécois trouvent que le gouvernement central est insensible et distant et arrogant, c’est un sentiment qu’ils partagent avec le reste du Canada. S’ils trouvent qu’ils ont des soucis de ne pas avoir une part juste de l’industrie automobile dans le pacte de l’automobile, et ceci est un souci bien légitime, ils doivent savoir que l’Ontario aussi a ses problèmes. L’Ontario commence à subir la perte à travers la désindustrialisation qui est en train de se réaliser dans cette province, de l’absence d’une stratégie industrielle au niveau fédéral.

When there are so many problems that we do face together, what we have lacked is the political will to assert Canada’s independence, the political will to respond to the need of Canadians, and the political will to face together -- Ontario, Quebec, all the rest of us -- those many problems that have been left to one side to fester for so many years.

Ontario is now declaring forthrightly in this resolution that it rejects the status quo, and that is a major step forward. We are calling for a renegotiation of our constitution as our highest priority. After deferring the decision for two years, we are finally establishing a select committee on the constitution that can provide a forum for many Ontarians to talk about the future directions of our country.

I believe we can say yes to Quebec without saying no to Canada, without saying no to Confederation. My party and I appeal to Quebec, because we believe that federalism can be the best possible means to satisfy Quebec’s aspirations and to respond to the sense of Canadian nationalism that so many of us in this country now feel and which has so often been suppressed under old party governments over the past three decades.

We see no conflict in supporting the right of Quebeckers to decide their own future at the same time that we reject sovereignty-association as a goal with which Ontario can agree. The trouble with this part of the joint resolution is that it is prone to misinterpretation. It goes without saying that sovereignty-association requires the agreement of Ontario and of the rest of Canada. It is not a good deal for this province and it is not a deal that we can accept.

When we put that rejection in highly emotional language, then the message that comes through to Quebec is not that Ontario is uninterested in Rene Levesque’s constitutional formula, but that Ontario really has no desire to make constitutional change. Nothing could be further from the position of the New Democratic Party.

I was disappointed to hear the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells) and some other speakers in this debate echo the Prime Minister of Canada’s suggestion that a yes vote was a dead-end one, and would lead to an impasse where no meaningful discussion on the constitution could take place. To my mind, that view just does not square with the declaration that we are making in this House that the status quo is unacceptable and that the negotiation of a new constitution is our highest priority.

We cannot yet anticipate the results of the referendum, but rather than talking in apocalyptic terms about May 20, surely we can recognize now as politicians that the fact that this referendum is taking place is far more important than whether the yes or no side wins with a small majority.

In Quebec, there are federalists who intend to vote oui because they believe this is the way to hasten needed constitutional reform. There are Quebeckers who have no brief for the Parti Quebecois, but whose non is a mandate for Claude Ryan’s beige paper, a constitutional reform as far-reaching as any that has ever been proposed for Canada.

There may be Quebeckers whose hearts tell them to vote yes but who will wind up voting no because of fear tactics which have been used during this campaign. If I were a Quebecker being told that a no vote was a yes and that my yes really was a no, I would be very tempted to go to the polls on May 20 and mark my ballot “none of the above.”

We categorically object to the warnings that have been put forward by the Prime Minister and by others that a yes vote would turn off the process of constitutional reform. On the contrary, New Democrats believe Ontario should start immediately to engage in building a new Canada, regardless of the results on May 20. By calling the referendum, Quebec has demonstrated its desire for major constitutional change. That is a desire that now is shared by every other region of Canada.

Many people have compared Confederation to a marriage that has gone on, albeit with ups and downs, for more than a century. We all know that things get messy and bitter when we have a divorce and break up a marriage. That is why it is impossible to imagine that a negotiation of sovereignty-association could ever succeed in the manner that Rene Levesque has tried to describe.

At the same time, some members in this House will know of marriages that have come close to collapse but that have had a happy ending. That happens when the crisis in the marriage leads both partners to start to understand why things were going sour and to make major accommodations they had refused to make before. Their renewed partnership then is often more vibrant and more satisfying than anything they have ever had before. That is what we should seek in our new federation in Canada and that is why we should be prepared to begin negotiations right after the referendum while the chances for a renewed federalism remain so strong.

The promise not to negotiate sovereignty-association is also ambiguous because it leads people to think that Ontario won’t go to the table if Rene Levesque comes along with the PQ’s white paper. We’ve surely grown up enough to recognize that since Ontario and the other provinces cannot accept sovereignty-association, the aim of negotiation will be to see whether there are other proposals on the table that can be used to build a new Canada.

In labour negotiations, something my party has some sense for, managements don’t normally walk away from bargaining because the union demanded a wage increase the management found unacceptable. The process of negotiation is to move from unacceptable starting points to an acceptable joint solution. That surely is what we should be after in our negotiations with Ottawa and with the other provinces.

I want to warn this House not to fall into the trap that has held back the forces that are looking for constitutional change in Canada. Ontario has been criticized, and rightly so, by its sister provinces for defending the status quo. In rejecting the status quo, as this resolution does, we had better realize that Ontario has a credibility gap to overcome. We have to convince everybody else in Canada we now understand that the need for change overrides our past interest in the status quo. The way to convince our fellow Canadians we are serious is to set out a political direction for a new Canada and then to do everything we can in Ontario to make that vision a reality.

It is time we began to speak to ourselves and to speak out about our aspirations and our dreams for this country. It is time for us to recognize places where Canada can do better and areas where Ontario already has the power to offer leadership. There is already a lengthy agenda of questions being addressed in the matter of constitutional reform. This agenda includes such things as the role of central institutions, the role of the Supreme Court, the limitation of the powers of the federal government and countless other matters, all of which are important.

But this debate and this moment in our country’s history are not just about tinkering with the constitution. This is a time when all Canadians are challenged to make a new commitment to the direction they want for their country. We need to be much franker about what Ontario really does want and about what Ontario is willing to do. That is why the NDP’s agenda for a new Canada includes language rights, multiculturalism and human rights, as well as economic and social rights. My party believes Canadians are ready to make a new commitment to a society in which we overcome the vast disparities in wealth within our country and among our people. The time has come to build a Canada in which all cultures are secure.

10:50 a.m.

If we think back to the last time in which we were on the verge of constitutional change, it wasn’t really the amending formula that caused the Victoria charter to collapse in 1970. It was the lack of common purpose among our leaders; it was the failure of the federal Liberal government and the various provincial governments to find a common purpose so that anglophones, francophones, native peoples and other Canadians could unite to build a new Canada.

If we are now to achieve, as we must, a new constitution for a new Canada, the agenda for constitutional reform must include more than just legal mechanisms. It must extend to a common political determination jointly to face the economic and social problems that have been swept under the rug and ignored for too long. It must include a commitment to lead here in Ontario to putting our own house in order. We must become maîtres chez nous.

We must begin by guaranteeing once and for all the rights to the use of the French language for all Franco-Ontarians in a way that they will know their culture and their language can be safe and secure in modern Ontario. The fact that there should be any question after 113 years is surely one reason why Quebecois are so sceptical about our good faith.

When we fail to protect our minorities, Quebeckers lose faith in our commitment to building a society where all Canadians are at home. When we fail to act in Ontario, it makes any commitment to entrench language rights in the new constitution appear to be nothing but a hollow promise.

I want to say directly that my party believes the matter of extending rights to Franco-Ontarians is a basic matter of justice. There are members of this House and indeed people in this province who believe the extension of fundamental linguistic rights to francophones is a form of handout or undeserved favouritism. We reject that view categorically, as did our three federal parties when they unanimously endorsed the Official Languages Act of Canada 12 or 13 years ago. We believe Canada can never hope to develop into a mature nation with a dynamic culture if we deny Franco-Ontarians rights that should have been secured in 1867 and have been constantly taken away by succeeding governments of this province.

As recently as six years ago during the question period, the ministers of this government admitted that Ontarians could not be born, marry, die, drive, get arrested, sue, vote municipally, be enumerated, get social assistance or perform many normal duties of citizenship in the French language in this province. We have made some progress since that time and the fact that there are now 100,000 students being educated in the French language is a tribute to the efforts of Franco-Ontarians. It is also a tribute to the growing understanding of all Ontarians that we must preserve our two national languages.

What has marred our credibility is that time and time again it has taken such a struggle to gain French-language services -- services that should have been guaranteed as a matter of right. That is why Ontario must now adopt a legislative framework for the protection of the French language and of French-language services similar to the proposal that was arbitrarily rejected by the Premier (Mr. Davis) two years ago.

We need action here in Ontario to demonstrate our commitment to building a new constitution that treats people justly whether their mother tongue is English or French or any other. French-language schooling at the secondary level should be guaranteed to a level equal to that enjoyed by anglophones in Quebec. The powers of the Languages of Instruction Commission should be strengthened to ensure that schooling in our other official language does not suffer because of obstruction by unsympathetic school boards. We must immediately undertake a proper municipal enumeration of francophones in order to strengthen the mandate of French-language advisory committees. We must sort out the problems that are still, I regret to say, not entirely resolved at Penetanguishene.

We should be taking these steps, not because a referendum is impending, but because those are the right steps to take to guarantee French-language education rights in Ontario.

With more than 20,000 students receiving education in Ottawa-Carleton in the French language, there could be no excuse for continuing to leave them scattered among four school boards and for not allowing the Franco-Ontarians to control their own school boards in Canada’s national capital. The government’s continued refusal to take such a step is yet another example for Premier Levesque when he argues that Quebeckers would be better out of Canada than in.

We believe Ontario should continue to finance the full-day kindergarten programs that give francophone children a vital early start on being well grounded in their own language and better protected against assimilation. We should be encouraging the Catholic school boards of Ottawa and Carleton for the outstanding success of their bilingual programs, rather than undermining the foundation of those programs by eliminating full-day bilingual kindergarten. It is years since the Dubois report laid out a blueprint for providing health service in French for Ontario. That report should now be implemented. We should diligently dig out all the areas where Ontario, almost unconsciously, still treats French as second class or, in the words of the Registry Act, calls French a foreign language. In the future, when Ontario has played its part in forming a new Canada, there should never again be questions about language rights in Ontario.

In order to build a new Canada, we must do more than just work within our own province. Since I became leader of my party, the NDP has sent two caucus delegations to visit Quebec. Those visits were very revealing, even for those of us who know Quebec, because they underlined, as I have tried to in this speech, just how widespread the feeling for change is in our sister province.

When members of the cultural affairs committee of the Quebec National Assembly came to visit Queen’s Park a few months ago, their visit was also an eye-opener. They were astonished to find that Toronto has grown to a world city. I was astonished to find how little beforehand they had known about Ontario and how many had never visited this city.

I don’t believe that the problems of our country will be solved simply by politicians talking to one another, but that is at least one place to start. It is time that members of our assembly and of Quebec’s National Assembly started to meet regularly and travel in each other’s province. We should be expanding the contacts between our two provinces to the point where hundreds of thousands of Quebecois and Ontarians are getting together and getting to know each other every year. They can be school kids or truck drivers, Rotarians or aldermen, tourists or pensioners, chiropractors or nurses.

The point is that it is time we started to break down the walls that mark our two solitudes and broaden the dialogue to include all Canadians. We in this Legislature should take the initiative and start to open those doors. Through actions that show our commitment to recognize the rights of our fellow citizens, through efforts to get to know and understand one another, through sacrifices by Canadians to build a new Canada, we can continue to build a great country.

In addition to language rights, we must present an agenda for human and social rights to be recognized in a new constitution. [Translation from Italian]

Yesterday six members of my caucus made history by addressing this chamber in six of the more than 80 languages spoken in Ontario today. They told this House and the people of Ontario they would not be content with the new constitution unless it affirmed our principles of seeking full equality for all Canadians. They wanted to overcome the barriers which deny many Canadians full equality.

I want to congratulate those members for their contribution and I want to echo their sentiments. I recognize the tremendous contribution of all Canadians. I and my party recognize that assimilation of cultures destroys the cultural roots of our society and works against the best interests of all Canadians. While preserving our two official languages, we must be concerned about preserving our many cultures, because Canada is not unicultural, it is multicultural.

11 a.m.

I was particularly concerned with the evidence presented by the members of my caucus of how this society through the policies of the federal Liberals and the provincial Conservatives has contributed to the maintenance of two classes of citizens. The members of my caucus related how difficult it is for working people in Canada to advance; how little working people are protected from hazards on the job and from occupational disease; how working people are excluded from positions of power and from participating in the direction of our economy. These problems brought New Democrats into politics.

[End of translation]

A new constitution will be acceptable to the NDP only if it ensures that immigrants and ethnic Canadians have the same opportunities as their fellow Canadians. The new constitution must respect the many cultures that make up our Canadian mosaic. It must make absolutely clear the commitment of all Canadians to oppose racism and to outlaw discrimination based on colour, race, sex or ethnic origin. It must not only ensure judicial equality, but also guarantee economic and social justice to every Canadian and every region of Canada.

There are many other social issues that Ontario must address in the near future if we are to extend human and social rights in our province and make credible our support for entrenchment of the Canadian Bill of Rights in the new constitution.

We must begin by a commitment to the enforcement of human rights and the reform of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. The commission has been too silent for too long on too many issues. It is time we brought in the recommendations of its report, Life Together, and created in Ontario an atmosphere where human rights are going to be enforced. We must use existing provincial powers to make our institutions reflective of the cultural and linguistic diversity of our province. Our party has been particularly concerned about government institutions such as the Workmen’s Compensation Board, Ontario, and with public servants who occupy sensitive positions.

Many of my colleagues have talked about what we mean by social and economic justice in the new Canada we can create with a new constitution and a new vision of our country. It has been traditional for constitutions to deal with human rights and language rights. But there are other rights which for many of us, in particular for democratic socialists, are just as important.

I want the new constitution of our country to affirm the rights of Canadians to health and to health care, to ensure that the achievements of Tommy Douglas and the NDP in bringing hospital insurance and medicare to Canada are not worn away by governments that put other needs ahead of the right to health.

Canadians should have the right to decent housing, and that should be enshrined in the constitution. They should have the right to decent nutrition, the right to a decent job and to full employment, and the right to live with dignity and with a decent income in their old age. Those rights too should be enshrined in the new constitution of Canada. We should commit ourselves in the new constitution to full employment, and the new constitution should spell out our goal of economic independence for Canada.

Once again, the problem is not so much the constitution as it is a problem of political will. We believe that when the government of Ontario, Canada’s manufacturing heartland, commits itself to developing a policy that will benefit all Canadians, Canadians will begin to listen to Ontario. We indeed must deal with the problem of regional inequality. We must make it clear, and have that too enshrined in the constitution, that it is no longer acceptable to us to have have and have-not provinces. We must raise our concerns about the way equalization payments operate in Canada and seek a better and more just system of redistributing wealth in our country, redistributing wealth among the regions of Canada, and redistributing wealth among the people of Canada.

We must also take action to show that we are willing to participate in economic planning in order to build a strong national economy. The provinces must participate in that planning process. They must plan in the public interest. We cannot leave our future in the hands of multinationals. We must make it our own.

One of the clearest proposals that Ontario should lay on the table is our desire to maintain a central government strong enough to put economic planning into force once the goals have been agreed to by all Canadians. That means paying special attention to how the highly decentralized federation we seem destined to create can use a revised second chamber or other institutions and other techniques as the means for co-ordinating a national economic and industrial policy with the provinces.

More than any other province, it is our duty in Ontario to spell out how the decentralization of powers can be balanced by an effective new second chamber, in order that we all stand together in the battle against the control of multinational corporations, in the development of an industrial strategy that puts Canada first, in the planning that is required for us to stop exporting our raw resources and start refining and processing them here in Canada, by Canadians, for Canadians.

I have talked today about language rights and Franco-Ontarians, about our ethnic minorities and about our constitutional and political changes that are designed to bring social and economic justice to all of us here in Canada. My colleagues have also spoken to these issues with eloquence and with candor.

We see this debate as just a beginning, and we look forward to the work of the select committee. We will participate in that debate and at those discussions actively and constructively. I want to join with every other member of this Legislature in appealing to the people of Quebec for a commitment that, however they vote in the referendum, they too will enter into the process of constitutional reform as soon as possible after the referendum is over.

Je me joins avec tous les autres députés dans cette Chambre, en faisant appel aux citoyens de la province du Québec, que, s’ils votent oui ou s’ils votent non dans le référendum, ils feront l’engagement de se joindre au processus de la réforme constitutionnelle aussitôt que possible après le référendum.

Bearing in mind the danger that the federal government may opt out of the constitutional negotiations if Quebec votes yes and, therefore, in the mind of the Prime Minister, helps to create an impasse, I think that before this referendum takes place on May 20, Ontario should undertake to convene the provinces, as we did in 1967, to start the negotiations that we in this chamber have taken as our highest priority. We should set the date for that first meeting before the end of June, and should Ottawa drag its feet, Ontario should be prepared to reconvene those meetings as often as once every two months.

As my party has made clear again and again in this debate, we cannot accept the sterile suggestion that all dialogue would be cut off if Quebeckers vote oui. We believe Ontario has a vital role in exploring every avenue in the search, with the other provinces and with Quebec, for an acceptable new constitution. We believe in Canada and we want Canada to stay united. As democratic socialists, we believe in equality and we want to achieve equality for every Canadian and equality for Canadians in every region of our great land.

Many of the problems that my colleagues and I have talked about this week are not constitutional in origin, but they stem from the failure of the parties in power to husband our resources and to make us maîtres chez nous. We are optimistic enough to believe it is possible to reverse those mistakes, possible to take the concrete steps in Ontario and in our nation to defend language rights and ensure full equality for our native people and for our ethnic minorities. We believe the opportunities to meet those goals are much greater for us all, including all French Canadians and the Quebecois, within one Canada, than in a nation which has become irrevocably divided.

I learned a lesson that stays with me to this day when I began school in Quebec City, back in 1949, as the only anglophone in a school of more than 1,000 French-speaking, French-Canadian pupils. Soon after I got there, my schoolmates started to crowd around me -- this happened for several weeks -- and they would jeer that I was “anglais, anglais, anglais.” It took time before I was able to change their minds, but I was finally able to convince them. “No,” I said, “je suis canadien, canadien, canadien.”

11:10 a.m.

With leadership and political will from this province, I think we can make an enormous contribution to a new Canada that meets the aspirations of us all, a new Canada in which the people of my birthplace in British Columbia, people in western Canada, people from the Atlantic provinces and Newfoundland, and Ontarians and Quebeckers too, can all say with pride, “Je suis canadien.”

Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I have listened with interest to various addresses during the course of our debate this week. From the outset I want to say I think we should all recognize the amount of work members have put into the speeches they have delivered this week, the tone which these speeches have set and the content that has been delivered on the floor of the House. I, for one, was very proud of the members of this House. I was proud of the members of my party and proud of the members on all sides in general for the contributions they have made and the sincerity with which those contributions were made.

I want to talk today about a few key points. I want to mention them first and then return to them a little later to discuss them in more detail. There are five of them.

First, I want to make the point that this referendum debate is not about a constitutional revision. It is about the feelings between the two language groups in this country. It is important for us to recognize that at heart that is what it is about.

Second, a yes vote in the referendum in Quebec might lead to fearful consequences, both inside and outside Quebec. It is important to consider that latter aspect of it. The third point -- and, as I say, I will be returning to these -- is that there is a real risk, let us be honest about it, that a no vote in the referendum will put many people in Ontario to sleep and it will be up to us, the political leaders, to make sure we prevent such a reaction from happening.

Fourth, the yes voters in Quebec who really mean no -- they are referred to as the noui voters in the current press -- are people who want more power at negotiation. I want to make the point that they are playing a very cynical and a dangerous bargaining game that may backfire and backfire very seriously for everyone.

The fifth point I want to make is that a strong federal government in economic matters and in vital resource situations is essential to Ontario and to Quebec as well as to the continued existence of Canada.

I will return to those points. I want to speak generally for a while.

Monsieur le Président, on songe que c’est ici à Toronto où se trouvait alors le siège conjoint du Haut et du Bas Canada. Que des hommes du Haut Canada anglophone et du Bas Canada francophone se sont réunis pour la première fois pour exprimer leurs ambitions et formuler les compromis qui ont donné naissance à la Confédération. Le vieil immeuble législatif n’est plus. Mais le même esprit demeure au sein de cette Assemblée et je vois, autour de cette salle, les visages réfléchis de personnes prêtes à continuer à accorder leur confiance à ce qu’il y a de plus noble dans ce pays.

And what a country we have! I ask my friends in the Legislature to look at our country -- the richness, the beauty, the history, the people -- to look at our waters, our forests, our mountains, our fields, our cities, our traditions. How in heaven’s name can anyone consider throwing all this away, this heritage of ours? Yet there are people inside Quebec and outside Quebec who are contemplating doing exactly that.

The Premier (Mr. Davis) refers to me as “the good doctor” from time to time. If I may be forgiven a medical metaphor, it would seem to me we are a country with a pain in our chest, the burning pain of the referendum, but that pain is only a symptom, I am afraid, of a chronic disease.

De quelle maladie s’agit-il? Le Premier Ministre Trudeau parle de “l’ennemi au foyer” -- the enemy within. Il semble s’agir d’un problème semblable à celui contre lequel un autre Canadien-Français célèbre, Wilfrid Laurier, a dû lutter il y a 70 ans, lorsqu’il déclara: “Toute politique qui sied à une classe, à une religion ou à une race, ou qui ne fait pas appel à ce qu’il y a de plus élevé dans toutes les classes, toutes les religions et toutes les races, porte la marque de l’infériorité”.

Ce sont les mots de Wilfrid Laurier. Les solutions qui sont aujourd’hui les solutions pour le Canada, me semblent les mêmes que celles qui s’offraient à l’époque de Laurier. Aurons-nous la force d’aller de l’avant, comme un pays uni? Ou allons-nous nous replier sur nous-mêmes dans des communautés isolées, en nous regardant avec jalousie de part et d’autre de nos barrières spirituelles? Dans notre débat de cette semaine, quelque chose nous a portés à être si prudents dans nos paroles, à nous attarder aussi longuement pour parvenir à l’unanimité, à éviter de blesser.

After all, Mr. Speaker, there seem to be two compelling and opposite Canadian historical strains: accommodation and alienation. The groups living in this country, diverse groups of different origins and different actions and customs, are sometimes proudly confident of their differences. In those moments they are individually generous, sharing their better instincts; at other times they become anxious about losing ground, one to the other. They act as drowning men who cling to a raft and stare only at each other for a sense of themselves. Those are the moments of alienation, the moments of frustration, even of fury; the dark side of our history.

That dark side is awakened now and then. It lurks there, awaiting mobilization, awaiting the call of some leader. When that happens, those pockets of people, people for whom alienation is a style of life, become the basis for a bandwagon. They become the basis for a whole movement, a veritable parade of alienation. We can see it with the Parti Quebecois in Quebec. If we are honest about it we can see signs of such activities right here in Ontario.

The struggle between regions, between language groups, has been with us from the earliest moments of our history. The awful danger is that we may grow tired. Reasonable people, even strong people, grow tired. It has happened before. Let me quote from a speech made in the original Legislature here in Toronto: “The one thing needed for Canada is to rub down all sharp angles and to remove those asperities which divide our people on questions of origin and religion. The man who says this cannot be done with the charity of the gospel is a blockhead.”

Those were the sentiments of one of the greatest of the founding fathers of our Confederation. Yet, on a pleasant spring evening in April, one year after Confederation, D’Arcy McGee had his brains blown out by some blockhead who disagreed with those sentiments, some blockhead who believed that the meaner particularities of a creed or a race or a religion were worth defending against the better instincts in us all.

11:20 a.m.

I don’t tell this story to stir up old animosities or to touch old aggravations, but to make a point that there have always been among us those who prefer to express their intolerance rather than encourage accommodation.

Of course, as a society, we have come a long way since the days of McGee. As a province we have come from alienation to accommodation as the dominant strain in the balance between races and religions and linguistic groups, but this delicate sense of balance is easily upset. The threads of goodwill and of accommodation may finally be stretched and broken by this prolonged, frustrating effort to create an acceptable sense of nationhood.

When the separatists in Quebec speak of slamming the door on us, I am sure many of us have wanted to slam the door on them, on their children and on future generations of Quebeckers. But that is their plan; that is the way they operate. It is their plan to touch the vengefulness that exists in all of us, and we must continue to hold the door open despite the provocations of the radical separatist minority. I fear for the country, as every member here does, when we go on open-line programs and hear people say: “If that’s what they want, let them go. We are fed up; we don’t want to hear any more about it.”

Our patience is being stretched, but this country was built by accommodation. It was built by patient men and women and we must not lose that patience now, but the current acrimony is going on too long. Feelings are being dulled by it. My friends, I am aware and you are aware that there are many in towns across Ontario who have lost interest, for whom the spirit of accommodation is wearing thin. Many Ontarians have succumbed to the view that the people in Quebec have some curious problem in their own psyche, that they have a problem which is no business of ours and which seems to go on interminably. That is coming to be a feeling in many of the towns and villages, and it is a dangerous feeling.

Canadians have begun to play Rene Levesque’s game. We have been sliding back from the spirit of accommodation and reasonableness. Whole regions of people are frequently tarred with the same brush -- westerners, Quebeckers, Newfoundlanders, even Ontarians. We hear stories, attacks on one another have become commonplace, stories about blue-eyed sheikhs, about Bay Street moguls and about all kinds of stereotypes which are now pitting one region or one area of this country against another. These are dangerous times. We, as leaders of people, have to do what we can to prevent those.

The hard truth is that appeals to narrow, regional interests carry with them many elements of demagoguery, and those elements, if unrecognized and uncontrolled, will set a long, cold, bitter night on our history, a night which will freeze us in our positions and seal us within our territories, a dark night for the soul of Canada. If there ever was a time to identify and be guided by the better instincts in all of us, that time is now.

At the start of my speech, I mentioned five points and I want to deal with them now in some more detail. The first point is that this referendum is not about the constitution. Let us be honest, the people of Ontario -- and we know them as well as anyone, let’s face it -- are not clamoring for constitutional change. Most are quite happy with the status quo and it will require real leadership to convince them that there would be benefits to Ontario and Canada from amendments to the constitution.

We have a big job ahead of us to convince the people in this regard. Let’s not minimize this, let’s be honest with each other. We can do it together. We have the abilities to show that kind of leadership, but the people out there are not clamoring for constitutional change in Ontario. They will have to be persuaded of the benefits and that, of course, is our job.

To pretend there is some kind of demand for these changes would be false and misleading. Mind you, Mr. Speaker, there may be disagreement on this, but I would contend that constitutional change per se is not really that high a priority for most Quebeckers either. I know the people of Quebec very well. The Premier is fond of pointing out my origins in that province, for whatever reason he likes to do that. I know them well, and it is my view -- and I’m open to correction -- that they are far less concerned with constitutional detail than they are with the desire to feel as equal, to feel certain about their continued existence, to flourish culturally and to improve their status in the relationship between the French-speaking and English-speaking groups in their province and their country.

I’ve asked so many people in Quebec to describe to me the differences in the present constitution, the beige paper, sovereignty-association and anything they might particularly like to see in a constitution, and they look at me blankly. It is not a constitutional debate that is presently going on among the people of Quebec. It is a question of how they feel about themselves. It is a question of whether they feel their status is appropriate after these many years of our history together in one nation. That is what it is about.

To be fair, we recognize as leaders that those feelings and cultural survival and so on are feelings that can be related to constitutional change, that cultural survival can be guaranteed by certain changes in the constitution. So we are arguing about constitutional change and preparing ourselves for constitutional change and acceptance of the idea. But the debate going on right now is not about the constitution or the fine points of difference between a beige paper and a white paper. The debate now is about mutual trust and mutual acceptance. Can we be trusted to continue progress in the event of a no vote? That is what they’re concerned about, not about constitutional niceties.

I would like to make a second point. I don’t claim these points are original in any way. There is very little original that can be said on a topic that has been with us for 115 years or so -- longer than that if we go back into the early 1800s. The second point I want to make is that there are people inside and outside Quebec who will exploit a yes vote for their own purposes. Mr. Levesque, we’re well aware, will obviously claim the vote means more than many yes voters would have intended. Clearly that is the main danger, and that has been spoken of many times.

But there is also concern that outside Quebec some leaders might be tempted to strengthen their own political situation by appearing to get tough with Quebec, thus fostering rather than opposing the anti-Quebec feeling which might emerge following a yes vote. Let me be clear about this and let me explain what I mean.

A yes vote to this question will not mean to Mr. Levesque what it may mean to a lawyer looking at the question and taking it up in a court of law. The question says, “Will you give us a mandate to negotiate sovereignty-association?” But we all know Mr. Levesque will take that as some kind of mandate from the people in his étapisme, in his step-by-step movement towards separation. We at least have to thank him for begin honest about that. He has stated that.

What amazes me is how he can state, on the one hand, that this is all part of Claude Morin’s plan of étapisme while, on the other hand, as I hear him on the television night after night, say a yes vote is a vote for déblocage, simply a vote to get things moving, to get some change, a vote to wake up the English, to get going and not to seal off progress forever.

That is patently dishonest; there is no other word for it. I’m not here to be inflammatory or offensive, but to tell people that it is merely a vote for change when we all know that the day after such a vote would occur it will be held up at the very least as a mandate to negotiate souveraineté association, something which the people of Quebec still don’t fully understand and I doubt ever will, because it is not a meaningful concept; to tell them it is a vote for déblocage, when we all know he means it to be a step in the step-by-step plan for separation, is really disgraceful behaviour for a leader of people.

11:30 a.m.

What will be the reaction outside Quebec to a yes vote? Members should ask themselves that. I am happy that current polls indicate it will not happen. I hope it never does. But I will bet a lot of people would be very angry. There would be a temptation for leaders outside of Quebec to try to strengthen their own positions by subtly encouraging a tough attitude towards Quebec. That would foster rather than oppose the negative feelings in our population. That is a danger.

For the third point I want to make, let us be candid: in the event of a no vote it is true that many people in Ontario will breathe a sigh of relief, go back to what they were doing and forget about it. We as leaders must recognize this tendency and we must state we will not allow Ontario to do that. We must pledge ourselves that no party will allow the people of Ontario to do that. We will go to work with goodwill on rewriting our constitution, and we will lead the people in this regard.

Venons-en au quatrième point. Et je voudrais maintenant m’adresser à un groupe particulier d’électeurs du Québec, le groupe des soi-disant “noui.” Un groupe qui songe à voter oui, non pas parce qu’ils souhaitent la souveraineté du Québec, mais parce qu’ils veulent être en meilleure position pour négocier.

Les citoyens de l’Ontario prendront ce genre de oui pour ce qu’il est -- c’est-à-dire une expression de méfiance cynique à l’égard de nos motifs et une incompréhension totale des progrès que nous avons déjà accomplis. Je dis à l’électeur du noui, ce serait saper les efforts de ceux qui ont aidé l’Ontario à faire autant de chemin, parce qu’un tel noui porterait beaucoup de personnes à dire, “Ça suffit. Vous pouvez rester, vous pouvez partir. Nous ne voulons plus de menaces de votre part, plus de compromis de notre part.” Je vous dis, on peut éviter cela. Ne nous traitez pas avec méfiance. Ne nous rejetez pas. Votez pour nous aider, non pas pour nous saper. L’avenir de Canada est vraiment en jeu.

My fifth point is this: I believe it is in everyone’s interest to indicate clearly, now, exactly where we stand on certain vital aspects of constitutional reform. In fairness, let us spell it out.

In the field of natural resources the present power of the federal government to operate in the national interest must be maintained, as must the power and authority to manage Canada’s economy. Education, social services, cultural and other priorities can and should be set by the provinces in order to accommodate our distinctive interests. The nature of federal institutions can and should change, but control of the economy must remain at the federal level.

My own feeling is that anything less than complete honesty now can only lead to bitterness and conflict when we sit down at any constitutional conference after May 20. We Ontarians believe that both our future and Quebec’s, as well as the future of all other Canadians, and our interests can be best served within the framework of one strong Canada, with one strong economy directed by one national government.

Those are the five points I wanted to emphasize. I want to speak now in more general terms. The truth is that many English-speaking Canadians, in different ways and at different times, have looked upon the French as different, and have treated that difference as if it were the stain of inferiority.

Many francophones in Quebec and elsewhere resent what they feel was a second-class status foisted on them by some English-speaking people in that province and in other provinces. That is particularly a feeling in Quebec.

I grew up with so many people who felt that because their fathers spoke French those fathers were not able to advance, even in their own province, in their own place of work, because so many of the places of work demanded, basically, that English be the language of the work place. There is a very real resentment there, a feeling that their fathers were humiliated in some way. So many of the young people want to correct that, they want somehow to correct the record. They want to make up for what happened and what they sense was a humiliation of their fathers.

That is a very real feeling we have to deal with, that group memory of difference. That memory of being made to feel inferior has given the separatist movement its greatest strength, and it is a very hard memory to expunge. But times are changing and I would put it to my friends, those with whom I grew up, some of my closest comrades, that memory, however justifiable it is, however real it is, is now doing very great harm to both of Canada’s founding peoples.

I want to quote from this morning’s Globe and Mail an article by Stan Oziewicz, who quotes the former president of the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste as saying, and I am assuming this quote is accurate when I quote it here: “The goodwill being expressed by MPPs during the debate is meaningless. When they talk about past friendships and brotherhood I don’t believe the first word of it. We simply hate each other traditionally, and it shows. You can hear it, you can feel it.” He went on to speak of his experiences with a minority of Ontarians, and I quote, “For years and years I was told to speak white.”

We can see what has happened. Here is a man who carries with him memories of hatred and who has become today a merchant of hatred. This is what we have to fight against. There is no future, for either the people in Quebec or the people outside, in hatred. Hatred only consumes people, and it consumes the people who hate even more rapidly than it consumes the victims of that hatred. That is a lesson history must surely teach us.

Il est évident que l’Ontario serait plus faible sans le Québec. Et que le Québec serait plus faible sans l’Ontario. Nos économistes, nos analystes de marché, nos démographes, parlent tous du corridor qui relie Windsor, Toronto, Montréal et la ville de Québec. Il s’agit d’un corridor, d’un couloir où la majorité des gens de ce pays traitent leurs affaires, échangent des idées, et partagent leur histoire. Ce corridor, après tout, a été la porte d’entrée historique de notre pays, le passage central qui menait aux nombreuses salles et aux divers coins de notre territoire.

Lorsque l’on va et vient dans ce passage, on voit converger et se fondre les ombres des Français et des Anglais. Mais ce serait une tragédie de claquer la porte en plein milieu de couloir, d’arrêter ce flot continu, de déranger, de bouleverser le va-et-vient, de diviser, de séparer, d’isoler; et si le Québec faisait cela, il n’y a pas de doute que le reste du Canada ne survivrait pas comme on le connait.

11:40 a.m.

My friends, the time has come to put aside hatreds, to bind up old wounds, to end mean confrontations and to identify those who indulge in confrontations and alienations as the enemies of promise, the promise this Confederation of ours has to be a work of political art.

It is time for people of reason and accommodation to reject the stamp of inferiority of which Laurier spoke. Too often we forget the grandeur of Laurier’s belief in the finer instincts in all classes, all races and all creeds. It has now become fashionable to identify the people of each province or each region as if each region were a nation. These regions have begun to pick like crows on the body of the national government. Mr. Levesque has opened the door and other provincial governments are running through it.

This confrontation of politics which pits the boys in the provincial gang against the boys from Ottawa frightens me. It’s the enemy within. For the sake of Canada’s survival it must be stopped.

My friends, the referendum in Quebec is not about mandates to negotiate. It is not about sovereignty-association. It is, by the admission of Mr. Levesque himself, a first step in a step-by-step plan for separation. People in Quebec may think they have ultimate control over such a plan because they have been promised another referendum before the final step would be taken. They should not fool themselves. I say to them: “Please think again. Do not take this next step, I implore you. There is nothing to be gained by it and much to be lost.” The reasons for coming together in 1867, to give us strength to survive together when we could not survive apart, are here today and they are here in spades today. Look at the world, the large trading groups which are already making even a nation the size of Canada tremble as we sit on the northern border of our giant neighbour.

Broken up as little principalities, as small nations strung out across the top of the United States, we would have not the slightest hope of genuine power, of genuine recognizability, of real control over our economic destiny. We huddled together in 1867, and that need is even greater now. It paid dividends then and we are all much richer as a consequence. We are all people who as individuals are much happier in our skin, as they are fond of saying in Quebec, as a consequence of having done so.

It makes no sense now as we reach the end of the 20th century to think we can survive better as a bunch of little principalities than we can as a united, strong nation; no sense at all. There is no point in taking that first step in Claude Morin’s and Rene Levesque’s plan of étapisme. There is no sense whatsoever in doing so and much danger indeed.

Look around you, I say to my friends from Quebec and to the people of Ontario who are getting a little tired of the whole thing. I say be patient. We have a land of wealth, a tradition of peace, a land of beauty, a land of freedom, a land of love. Don’t throw it away. Reject Mr. Levesque’s counsel of despair and isolation. Tell him no thank you. Canadians we are, Canadians we will remain. My friends, let us meet, let our children embrace one another, let us go forward together. Vive le Canada. Long live Canada.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, it is a great privilege for me, not only as the Premier of this province, but as a member of this Legislature, to conclude what I believe has been an historic and important debate in the history of this province.

The resolution which I moved, seconded by both the leader of the Liberal Party and the leader of the New Democratic Party, is a direct and sincere statement on behalf of the people of Ontario to the people of Quebec. It is, as I sense it, a statement of affection and of concern. It represents, to me at least, a positive commitment shared, I hope, unanimously in this House, a statement and commitment for significant and meaningful constitutional reform. It is also a statement that is clear as to our opposition to sovereignty-association and our unwillingness to negotiate sovereignty-association with the government of Quebec.

The many speakers who have addressed this resolution constructively have touched on a number of substantial issues which are highly relevant to the process of constitutional reform in this country and many of the issues that face us as Canadians. It would be less than accurate were I to indicate that in good conscience I could agree with all that has been said by members who spoke.

In fact, even with a resolution which represents as broad a consensus as the one that is before this assembly today, it would be naive for anyone to believe that there could be total agreement within this or any other democratic assembly. Where parties, and indeed members, in this House differ on approaches or undertakings or priorities, it is now clearly on the public record, and I believe this fact is important and helpful for the people of our province and the democratic process.

This morning it is not my purpose to touch on those matters where we in this House disagree. It seems to me at times that our disagreements get more than their fair share of attention. Rather, it is my purpose to stress those issues on which we stand united and to underline what I sense is the common resolve of Ontarians to sustain this, our nation, and to enhance its future.

My colleague the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and government House leader (Mr. Wells) put before this House in quite explicit terms the many instances of Quebec-Ontario co-operation and mutual support on substantial issues of constitutional reform. In fact, if one looks at the history of our two provinces, the way we have as provinces interacted with one another and with our colleagues across Canada at the federal-provincial table, Ontario’s inability to support sovereignty-association will stand as an historical exception to a long history of co-operation and mutual support. But I urge the people of Quebec to understand the depth of our commitment on this particular exception.

Citizenship that is known throughout the world as Canadian is very dear to all of us in this assembly, all of us in this province. Being residents of Ontario fills us with great pride -- as does being residents of Alberta or Quebec -- abut let us be very frank, it is also in many cases an accident of geography, and for those born in each one of our provinces, something over which we had very little control. But the fact that we were born Canadians or chose to become Canadians is, we know, a matter of good fortune for all of us, wherever we may live in this nation. It is also a matter of pride, a matter of conviction, a matter of common values and common interests, and a matter of spirit.

Yesterday, my colleague the Minister of Education (Miss Stephenson) spoke with a deep and compelling eloquence of those of French, English and other Canadian backgrounds who during three wars in this century gave their lives for this country, for one citizenship and for the freedom and opportunity it provides. Let none of us ever forget what that sacrifice meant and let us not see it diminished.

11:50 p.m.

Sovereignty-association -- I endeavoured to say this in our sister province of Quebec last week -- and the negotiation of the same really imply negotiating away Canadian citizenship. One can’t define it in any other fashion. To me it really implies at least reducing the value and the meaning of that citizenship, not only for Quebeckers but for all Canadians. I may be somewhat old-fashioned -- in fact, I have been described on occasion as being that -- and perhaps on this matter I become somewhat emotional, but I do not intend -- I said it before and I shall reiterate it again -- to be part of any process that diminishes the value and the stature of Canadian citizenship for this or for future generations. As Premier of this province, I do not intend to be part of any process that creates unnecessary boundaries in this country, any process that limits the breadth, the depth, the promise or the opportunity of Canada.

During my recent visit to Quebec, I said I believe that what the proponents of sovereignty-association are against in this country no longer exists. The commitment to constitutional reform and change is real and is self-evident throughout this country and not just in our sister province.

Commitment to redefining our national institutions and preserving what I describe as a fair and just balance between the national interest of all Canadians and the regional concerns and aspirations of the different parts of our country is real. I believe the next period of time in this nation will be one of challenge, trial and, on occasion, frustration for all of us.

It is also not the time for any weakness of spirit or any faltering of conviction. It is not a time to be unsure of what being a Canadian means. It is not a time to back and fill. It is a time to make a stand for Canada, a time to set out what it is we wish to preserve and what we care about. It is a time to be blunt about what we are not prepared to surrender.

A group of academics -- and I don’t use that term in any pejorative sense -- joined by a few others, recently delivered a petition to Queen’s Park, indicating certain positive views on sovereignty-association. I think it is fair to state that I am not one to take exception to people’s points of view. I respect all points of view, but I happen to differ with them as totally as one could differ with a view on any single issue.

We who believe in Canada in this Legislature and across this country must not be afraid to be firm in its defence and must not be afraid to be tough-minded, as difficult as it may be, where it is appropriate. It is a time, I suggest with respect, for balance but also a time for strength. It is not a time to desert one’s principles. It is with a clear balance of tough-mindedness, on the one hand, and a real and, I think, genuine generosity of spirit on the other, that we will succeed in negotiating a new Canada and developing a new deal or approach, not for just one group but for all Canadians. It is with that balanced approach we will embark upon the kind of constitutional discussions which I believe will be fruitful and meaningful.

The Prime Minister of our nation has, in my opinion, asked the province of Quebec a very apt question. We know what the position of the government of Quebec is if the yes side is sustained on May 20. What we do not know is what it intends to do if the no side is victorious. This province believes that Canada will have to move quickly, after what we hope will be the success of the no side, to achieve meaningful constitutional reform and change. That will require a specific determination by this government and by the people we represent to get the job done. We must get it done effectively and we must get it done fairly, but we must make sure it is done expeditiously.

When this province some time ago proposed a patriation of the constitution from Great Britain, we did so because we believed an important symbolic gesture indicating progress and reform was necessary to sustain public confidence in the process as a whole. Beyond this important initiative, the voters of this province and the voters of this country have the right to expect that those who represent them in government will deal with dispatch with the total challenge of constitutional reform following a no vote. I believe that discussions must begin immediately following that vote and we must establish a preset time limit. I know the complexities of this issue. We must do it with a clear package of constitutional reforms so that they can be placed before the Parliament of Canada, the legislatures of the provinces and the people of this nation.

I believe my colleagues, the first ministers of the other provinces, and the Prime Minister of Canada would agree that while existing federal-provincial conference structures will be important, we must not shrink from the task of finding, if necessary, more creative means of finalizing recommendations on constitutional change.

I digress here for a moment, because I sensed in my visit to our sister province that there were those raising doubts about the commitment of this province and other provinces to something other than the status quo. It is always difficult, without in any way trying to assess responsibility, to remind people of the historical realities. In Victoria in 1971, I vividly recall the sense of optimism which I think was genuine and well-founded. I think of the consensus that was achieved, the final decisions made and the feeling, for many of us at least, as we left the provincial capital of our most western province, that we had established a position, a method and a significant accomplishment in terms of giving a new direction to the future of this nation.

I do not express this to the members of the House, but I do express it to those who, I hope, are watching or listening or reading in Quebec. It was not Ontario that in any way limited or inhibited the consensus achieved in Victoria in 1971 from reaching fruition or conclusion. The history of this period will never support the theory being expressed by some in our sister province that Ontario is married to the status quo and that we do not want change. History will record that is not factually the case. Perhaps those who are critical should explore the position of their own province in relation to this matter.

Again in 1976, the Premiers of Canada met first in Edmonton and then in Banff, where the atmosphere was potentially more creative in terms of the environment. This is the way things are accomplished in this country. I recall vividly the then Premier of Quebec, Mr. Bourassa, expressing his constitutional concerns. I can recall him saying to us very frankly that in the fields of culture, immigration and communications he sensed the provinces should have a greater measure of responsibility. I confess to members of this House that perhaps those items were not the priorities of the other Premiers of Canada.

12 noon

But I can recall sitting around that table in the Banff Springs Hotel, when we as fellow Canadian Premiers worked out with the then Premier of Quebec an approach which would support him in terms of how he presented this to the citizens of his province.

I can recall so vividly the discussions in the field of communications. I understand the essence of the preservation of language or culture. It is founded in the field of education and is also related to the field of communications. This too I understand. I could understand the desire on the part of the Premier to have a greater degree of involvement in any constitutional reform which would build into Quebec’s responsibilities the ways and means to preserve the French language and the French culture through the field of communications.

We understood this. We agreed with many of the suggestions that were being made. Also I think I am right in assessing that he understood my feelings as a citizen of this province who is concerned about French culture, who is concerned about English culture and who is concerned about so many cultures, who felt and still feels there has to be some national involvement in the field of communications. I happen to be so naive as to think there is something that can be described as a Canadian culture and that that, too, has to be part of a national responsibility.

But I just want to remind people who are suggesting during this debate that Ontario has been a supporter of the status quo and that we have not been prepared to give, that this is not the fact. The fact is that on so many issues -- I expressed this in Montreal the other day -- I can really think of more occasions when the Premier or the government of this province supported the point of view of the government or Premier of Quebec than there were occasions where we differed.

This goes back to the 1960s. I can recall some of the federal-provincial conferences. I can recall my predecessor in one or two very crucial areas accepting a point of view that he felt would make our Confederation more meaningful. I want to make it abundantly clear that our position is understood, I hope, by the people of Quebec. This province -- and I hope I speak for this Legislature -- does not support the concept of the status quo.

I think it is also important when I refer to first ministers not shirking the task to recognize that the realities of 1980 are different from 1971. There is no question there would be certain limitations on the consensus achieved in 1971. Personalities change. I think it is fair to state the differences within this country alter, not year by year, but over a period of time. There is no doubt that, as we get into these discussions, the points of view of some of our sister provinces will not be the same as they were in 1971. But there were also problems that far back. People were able to demonstrate a degree of flexibility and of accommodation, if that is an appropriate term, to take into account the differences that exist within this country.

To depart, as I do so often, from what I have in front of me, I share a concern that while we are discussing this resolution, while our attention is focused on the vote that is to take place on May 20, I sense something else is happening that is relevant for all of us which cannot be treated in isolation. The feelings in some other provinces today are manifesting themselves in a way that must give us concern. I sense there has been a tendency -- it is not new, but I think it has moved forward in the past short period of time for those of us involved in provincial responsibilities -- to focus too much, not on our responsibilities but perhaps on our own provincial ambitions, aspirations and fields of responsibility. This has proceeded to the extent that on occasion perhaps we, not neglect, but sometimes forget what a nation is all about. This tendency to put provincial interests ahead of national interests can in itself be of concern. It is something that I don’t think is going to disappear and certainly will not be altered with respect to the vote on May 20. I happen to believe that the people of this province are prepared to have their government embark on the project of bringing home Canada’s constitution and reforming it to make it more sensitive.

I am a traditionalist, I confess to the members of the House. If they don’t know that about me now, I would be very surprised. I am a traditionalist but I find it hard to accept, as a Canadian, that after 113 years of our history we are still faced with the problem not only of how we effect constitutional reform, but with the fact that our constitution is still historically and geographically located in the United Kingdom. I don’t say it offends me because I have great affection and understanding for and I know the roots of our system of government.

I happen to be a very proud Canadian. I say this to the member for Lakeshore (Mr. Lawlor), who can’t quite understand why, after 113 years of history and of maturity, we cannot, as Canadians, find a vehicle to do these things within our own nation. Further, I believe they want this project undertaken. I hope I’m right in this assessment. I think they want it undertaken to bring some sense of stability and some sense of togetherness back within this nation. They want it taken within a specific time and with a specific task-oriented approach.

I have been to a lot of federal-provincial conferences. I know how they function and how they operate. With respect, I think we probably have come closer to making accomplishments than sometimes the public would understand. I also understand how the process itself is perhaps not easy to understand for the average viewer or listener or watcher. I think nothing could serve to weaken the fabric of this nation more than our collective incapacity to move ahead. After some of the things that have been said by the premiers and by the Prime Minister of this country, once the task is established and the goals are established, I don’t believe the public would understand our incapacity to move swiftly ahead with the job of constitutional redefinition.

Ontario will push for the rapid commencement of constitutional talks, based on those things to which we’ve already agreed and those things that are close to agreement. It is our expectation that the government of Quebec, after a no vote -- this is our expectation and I hope it isn’t expecting too much -- will participate in those discussions and do so in good faith. Thus the people of Quebec can, along with their fellow voters in other provinces, judge their respective governments in whatever way they deem appropriate, based on their participation or the lack of same.

In my view, the issue is not self-determination for the people of Quebec. The issue is self-determination for the people of Canada. Canadians have a right to move towards solving the constitutional and the fiscal problems which affect the unity of this country and threaten our very future. For us not to move swiftly and to move ahead with that process would be for us, as Canadians, to admit we are prepared to avoid the most substantial structural problems facing this nation and that we prefer to cope in a mediocre way and on an ad hoc basis. That will not be good enough for the government and the people of this province and I don’t believe it will turn out to be good enough for the other governments and people of Canada.

The preservation of this country is something more than an exercise for academics or, with respect, the constitutional experts. No group of Canadians, no particular interest group or any area of expertise will have a monopoly on the process by which our country is redefined, nor should they. I think the people of this country believe the citizenship which they cherish is more than a particular set of semantic or constitutional distinctions.

I would even go so far as to suggest that the average Canadian is not really prepared to enter into a debate as to how the Supreme Court is determined or how judges are appointed to that very important and distinguished body of people. I don’t think the average Canadian really feels he can get into a debate on distribution of powers, limitation of the federal spending power and all of these things.

12:10 p.m.

These are things that legislators, academics et cetera, understand. What I think Canadians really want to see is constitutional change, a new constitution, or whatever phrase we may wish to use, that gives a sense of identification, a sense of feeling of belonging to this nation; that is not just a question of words nor just a question of clauses, but where there is a real feeling that in terms of its philosophy and its direction it represents the best of what this country stands for.

It is above all a question of citizenship, a citizenship that we all cherish and which is much more than a loose relationship between Canadians and the state which is divided, which is unyielding and perhaps, on occasion, uncompromising in the context of the national interest. From my perspective again, I think it is above all a citizenship which must relate to a nation that seeks to guarantee equality of opportunity, a phrase I can recall using quite often in a former ministry where I had an interest for a number of years.

An equality of opportunity, though, in a broader context means more than simply economic opportunity, although economic opportunity is critical to the wellbeing of our people. It also means the cultural opportunity of Canada. The opportunity to preserve one’s own culture, while being part of one or the other of the two founding cultures, is a very important part of the heritage we are all seeking to preserve. English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians will continue to have much to learn from each other. The national framework of this country represents, I think, the optimum situation for that common progress together.

Progress has been steadily made in this province and throughout Canada in advancing the opportunities for French-speaking Canadians to preserve their heritage and to preserve their language and their culture, even in communities where they constitute a smaller numerical minority. While there is always more to be done -- and I acknowledge this -- I believe the people of this province can be justifiably proud of the close to 400 schools which even at this hour across this province are offering a public French-language education at the primary and secondary level, and of our two bilingual universities and the bilingual programs at our community colleges.

I believe that Ontarians generally support the proposition that the French-speaking minority in this province should have a secure program of government services available to them in the French language in those areas where that is both practical and appropriate. Towards this end we have recently made significant progress in our judicial system, as well as in areas of government service throughout this administration. I believe what we have done is acknowledged to be pragmatic, but is also thoughtful and, we think, in a fair-minded fashion.

I am the first to admit, as in many other areas of social progress, that it can be argued more can be done. I understand that. And we will continue to work thoughtfully and carefully to ensure that the service that is provided is of the highest quality and commensurate with the overall standards of service provided to all of the citizens of this province. But I am kind of proud because, not as long as some but longer than most in this House, I know where we started and I know where we are today. I am proud that the trend in this province is one of providing more services on an ongoing basis as the needs develop and as opportunities present themselves.

We have made a tremendous amount of progress in the last decade. We have gone forward to implement some of the appropriate and, I think, high-minded objectives established in 1971 by the administration which I have the privilege to lead and alluded to so nobly by my predecessor, the Honourable John P. Robarts.

I said in Quebec last week, as I have said in this province on many previous occasions, that we are striving to have a situation here in Ontario where French-speaking Canadians can pursue their own cultural and educational activities in a fashion that fully responds to their desire for cultural vitality and cultural opportunity. As long as it is my privilege to serve as Premier, we shall continue to push ahead with efforts in that direction. Those efforts will be substantial, but they will be responsible and determined. They will also be systematic and fair.

Despite what has been raised by various interest groups and pressure groups, whatever they may endeavour to urge upon us from whatever their vantage point happens to be, a steady, balanced, progressive approach of this administration will not be diluted by erratic measures. We shall protect minority rights in this province, whatever the results on May 20. I want to make that clear. We shall do so in the context of our overall community, one that, while largely English-speaking in its base, is also one with a growing multicultural aspect to it and one which has not only tolerance, but also concern and positive interest in minority-language rights.

One of the opportunities this country could offer, in my view, to all Canadians would be a guarantee in a new constitution for minority language education rights across this nation. I listened to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. S. Smith) as he defined in general terms some of the areas of division of responsibility.

I am one of those who has traditionally supported the existing situation where education is a provincial responsibility, but I make this statement. I have made it before, but it was never quoted. I sometimes wonder if in the wisdom of the Fathers of Confederation in 1867, education had been made a national responsibility, whether some of these internal differences or debates might have taken place. I do not know. It is speculation, and it is a hundred years too late to do anything about it.

In spite of that tradition, in spite of what the facts may be, I believe in that statement made by the government of this province and the commitment we have given to entrench in the constitution this right. It may be construed as being educational, but, in my view, it is fundamental in terms of preservation of language and culture. It is something that should be maintained and something that should be explored. I have not changed my point of view, and we will continue to push it as this process continues.

It is a position, unfortunately, not shared by the Premier of Quebec. I am hopeful that may change. I can recall our discussions in the maritime provinces, where the Premier of Quebec suggested to me we should have a reciprocal agreement. I understood what he was attempting to do, but I made it very clear to him, and I hope through him to others, that something as fundamental to the preservation of language and culture as education obviously is, cannot be the subject of reciprocal agreements or treaties, or whatever terminology one may wish to use, between provinces in a nation like Canada. That has to be, in my view, tied in to the constitution of this nation. I am hopeful we can reach an appropriate consensus which would strengthen the ties that unite Canadians in the context of freedom and cultural diversity.

I want to raise one other point, which I have repeated in the past few days. It was raised when I was visiting our sister province of Quebec. People were asking me, “How can you refuse to sit down and negotiate sovereignty-association when in fact the economy of Ontario has some dependence on Quebec?” In other words, they were asking me, “How can you take that position if it is, in effect, going to have a negative impact on the people of the province you represent?”

I am a realist. No one wants to see any negative impacts upon any of us, but I made it clear then -- I have made it clear since, and I reiterate it here this morning -- that my approach to Canada, my approach to constitutional change, whatever terminology one may wish to use, can never be predicated on the basis of a balance sheet. Our citizenship cannot relate to what is perceived to be an economic gain or an economic loss.

12:20 p.m.

Surely there is something more to being a Canadian, to being a participant in this nation, than an assessment of what the balance sheet may be between individual provincial jurisdictions. I don’t minimize the problems, but I just want the people of this province, and hopefully the people of Quebec, to understand that when I say these things I happen to believe the emotional ties of the people of Ontario to Canada are so strong that they aren’t prepared to negotiate just because of a potential negative impact in economic terms. I have never believed that we, as Canadians, have ever looked at the balance sheet as being the rationale for our position as a nation.

I sometimes have difficulty explaining this to my western provincial confreres who repeatedly remind me of the role of central Canada over the years we have experienced the benefits of Confederation. I reminded them, and I think it is relevant in the context of what we are talking about as a nation, that I understand their points of view, I share their concerns, but I think it is important for all of us to remember that Canadian citizenship wasn’t predicated on just economic advantage.

I think it is fair to state that Ontarians over the years have made their contribution to this nation. We could have, I guess, if we had made other decisions, related ourselves more directly to our neighbours to the south. This could have been to our economic advantage in terms of individual Ontarians, but we made the determination that there was something unique and something special in being a Canadian. We were prepared to make not only a contribution, but I say with respect, some modest measure of economic sacrifice for this country.

I have dealt in rather general and philosophical terms because of the details of what constitutional change may or may not be. The discussions of our advisory committee, the Pepin-Robarts report, the beige paper as it has been described in the province of Quebec, all of these things I think provide us with meaningful input in terms of what directions we may go. My intent today is to deal with it on a more philosophical and general basis.

I want to conclude with just one final thought. That is very simply that this province, because of its population, because of its economic infrastructure, has a central responsibility to provide leadership, to provide direction and to provide conviction to the process of developing this country. I see constitutional change, constitutional reform -- it is the option to sovereignty-association, which in fact is separation -- as a challenge to all of us who believe in Canadian development.

I see it as a process which cannot be approached in the meandering academic or semantic fashion, but must be approached on a basis of conviction, a basis of commitment about this country and a commitment about our people. I think this province must obviously be prepared to do more than its part. It must be prepared to enunciate to its people a firm and compelling direction on behalf of the 8.5 million citizens whom all of us in this Legislature collectively represent.

Fighting hard for reform does not mean that one has to be against stability. Pushing hard for constitutional change does not mean that one rejects tradition or one’s heritage. Championing our constitution of greater regional sensitivity does not mean we should not protect one undivided nation that is strong in its national capacity to serve the interests of all its people. Balance, common sense, tradition and the responsibility that they entail are as much a part of the process of constitutional change as any desire for change and development.

Constitutional amendments and the proposed revisions are no more significant than the basic set of values that unite us all as Canadians around a common view of the society and a common respect for each other. The resolution before this House affirms our commitment to our nation, a commitment to the alternatives of constitutional change, and our opposition in categorical terms to the concept of sovereignty-association.

I thank the members of the House for their contributions, for the thoughtful presentations they have made that, I think, represent what is best about this Legislature. I commend to all members of the House not only the resolution itself, not only the phrases that are contained therein but, just as important, the spirit in which it is offered and upon which the members of this House will be asked to vote.


Mr. Speaker: Order. Will the security forces please remove those strangers.


Mr. Speaker: Order.

The House divided on the constitutional resolution which was concurred in on the following vote:


Ashe, Baetz, Belanger, Bennett, Bernier, Birch, Blundy, Bolan, Bounsall, Bradley, Breaugh, Breithaupt, Brunelle, Bryden, Campbell, Cassidy, Charlton, Conway, Cooke, Cunningham, Cureatz, Davis, Davidson, M., Davison, M. N., Di Santo, Drea, Dukszta, Eakins, Eaton, Edighoffer, Elgie, Epp, Foulds, Gaunt, Germa, Grande, Gregory, Grossman, Haggerty, Hall.

Henderson, Hennessy, Hodgson, Isaacs, Johnson, J., Johnston, R. F., Jones, Kennedy, Kerr, Kerrio, Lane, Laughren, Lawlor, Leluk, Lupusella, MacBeth, MacDonald, Mackenzie, Maeck, Makarchuk, Martel, McCaffrey, McCague, McClellan, McGuigan, McMurtry, McNeil, Miller, F. S., Miller, G. I., Newman, B., Newman, W., Nixon, Norton, O’Neil, Parrott.

Peterson, Philip, Pope, Ramsay, Reed, J., Reid, T. P., Renwick, Riddell, Rollins, Rowe, Roy, Ruston, Scrivener, Smith, S., Stephenson, Sterling, Stong, Swart, Sweeney, Taylor, G., Taylor, J. A., Timbrell, Turner, Van Horne, Villeneuve, Walker, Warner, Watson, Welch, Wells, Wildman, Williams, Wiseman, Worton, Young, Ziemba.

Ayes 111; nays 0.

Mr. Speaker: Before the House adjourns, I know honourable members will join me in extending our thanks to all those who have assisted the assembly during the past week.

The Ontario Educational Communications Authority had limited time to make its technical arrangements for the coverage of this debate once the House ordered that we would adopt the principle of electronic Hansard for this debate. Similarly, interpreters and technicians for the simultaneous translation equipment were secured on short notice and the Ministry of Government Services was required to make certain physical adjustments to the chamber. There are many persons who have, with their co-operation and hard work, enabled us to go forward with special arrangements and I want to extend the thanks of the House to all of those people.

May I also thank all honourable members for their co-operation with the chair and their unfailing courtesy during the past week. I hope it will continue for many weeks to come.

Mr. S. Smith: A point of order, Mr. Speaker: On the very points you just made, Mr. Speaker, the topic had a lot to do with it, but I venture to suggest -- as a behaviourist, you understand -- that the presence of television in the House on an ongoing basis, such as we have had with an electronic Hansard, may have had something to do with the much-appreciated increase in decorum and better behaviour in this particular assembly. I would venture to say that the experiment has proved very successful and I would hope we might have the electronic Hansard on a regular basis.

The House adjourned at 12:44 p.m.