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Doug’s Columns 1989 « Douglas Fisher

Fisher

 

Doug’s Columns 1989

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, December 29, 1989
ID: 11954337
TAG: 198912290182
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

JOURNALISTIC NAVEL GAZING

Two developments above others excited those in the national English language media this year: (a) the initiation of CBC Newsworld and; (b) changes in executives and aims at the Globe and Mail.
There is something one may call “the national media” – that is, the TV networks’ news and public affairs departments, big dailies with much circulation beyond their home cities, The Canadian Press wire service and a few magazines sold country-wide like Maclean’s.
Most of those in journalism outside such major enterprises keep a keen interest in the trends and shifts in the national media. For them 1989 has been a big, big year because of activities in the national media’s two major players.
Outsiders may be surprised at the high concern among our younger reporters (and most are young) after Globe publisher Roy Megarry fired editor Norman Webster and managing editor Geoffrey Stevens early in the year and shook senior postings at his paper. His purpose? An even stronger pro-business bent.
Criticism of Megarry’s aims and his allegedly reactionary right-wing purposes became the staple in media talk: Megarry as villain, out to winnow advocacy or zealous reportage with a “liberal” slant from the Globe.
Canada has had two synoptic analysts in communications of world rank: Harold Innis and Marshall McCluhan. Almost in tandem they detailed the transforming political and social effects of changing technology in communications.
The Globe as a “national newspaper” became possible through newer technologies in gathering and distributing news and in printing. Megarry took nearly a decade to emplace techniques and marketing for a daily sold nationally. Once it was going and profitable, he turned to its editorial side. There he’s shaken religiosity and the mystique of the Globe, as seen by believers, inside and out – that is, the Globe as a very collegial paper, the reporters’ paper! The staff was clubby, yuppie and sure of its paper’s superiority and high mission.
Newsworld, launched last summer, also became possible through a cumulation of technical and conceptual advances, largely made in the U.S. The idea of an all-news TV network could work because we’ve become such a “wired” country.
Most of the young people in journalism today have been nurtured on views gained at journalism schools on the ethics for reporters and publishers. This may explain the scale of concern of those convinced the Megarry regime at the Globe has assumed control over advocacy reporting and free journalism.
Newsworld is causing another sort of concern about its effects, not just within the CBC colossus but in other TV news and radio operations in the private sector. It’s narrowing the niche for radio news. Won’t it also revolutionize CBC and TV news operations? Already it’s undercutting the CBC’s showpiece, The Journal, and pushing it further toward the arcane and the non-domestic. The Journal is now being left outside the parts of its territorial mandate it never covered consistently and seriously.
CNN, Ted Turner’s Atlanta-based all-news operation, has slowly and gradually becoming the news competition of the big Three American networks, both in the U.S. and, surprisingly, in Western Europe. CNN is becoming the staple coverage and provider that Associated Press and Reuters gave when print was king. Newsworld is an addition here. It gives parallel possibilities to the CBC, already by far the largest, most technically capable and most watched and heard news and public affairs operation in Canada.
This fall and winter one can figuratively hear the hiss of air deflating CTV and Global news. That Canada’s all-news radio network, CKO, folded without a taker has a lot to do with what Newsworld is doing to news coverage, its users, and to the costs of competitors who try to be as topical and wide-ranging.
Many within the media, particularly in CBC-TV news, will jeer at such potential in Newsworld. They miss the obvious. Already Newsworld is more popular with politicians countrywide in all levels of government than any other source of news and public affairs. It’s seen as busting the dominance of Toronto-oriented operations. Newsworld’s inadequacies are clear: Not enough money, personnel or priority within CBC policy. I wager it will get all three in the next few years, taken in part from elsewhere in the colossus.
Of course, the Globe affair has had more immediacy than Newsworld because it fixes on the always fascinating push and pull along the political spectrum between left and right. Aside from coverage of business and finance, the Globe is the most common daily coin in the country for everyone senior in or around politics and in any public administration field – like government, education, health and culture. The Globe has influence!
The anger and foreboding in the media community after the firings, promotions and the dropping of gurus like David Suzuki and Mavor Moore continues. This is so, even though the reactionary intentions of Megarry are not clear yet in the product. The Globe seems as “liberally minded” as ever. An advocacy emphasis continues in presenting the problems of feminists, immigrants, refugees, immigration lawyers, native people, children in poverty, creative artists, child care proponents and environmentalists. Leftward collegiality remains but so does Megarry as the villain of the media’s young people.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, December 27, 1989
ID: 11953821
TAG: 198912270165
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

CHARTING THE CHANGES

A new booklet from Health & Welfare Canada is the best of its kind so far. Charting Canada’s Future, is “a report of a demographic review” ordered by a government puzzled over the changing makeup of our population.
Succinctly, it poses what’s in store for us in the last decade of this century and what lurks ahead in the next millennium for Canada and the global village. In the process some popular apprehensions about the consequences of our immigration patterns and our duality of language are put to rest.
The future is no longer largely the domain of soothsayers and prophets because social scientists project data on births, deaths, immigration and emigration and distinguish where trends are going to take us.
Of course there are severe limits to what can be foretold with certainty. Changes in human behavior and some natural or man-made disasters can distort considerably (even totally) the “normal” course of events. So nowhere in Charting Canada’s Future is the guarantee that this will be it.
Let me sketch examples of contemporary, vexing matters on which demography has insights for warnings or use.
At present Canadians are having smaller families and too few babies to replace the dying. How does this affect the size of our population and our collective well-being?
Do we need immigrants (and how many, and at how fast a rate) to compensate for our reluctance to procreate?
What implications for our social programs and health care are there from the aging of our population and the changing pattern of our families?
Is the panic of Quebecois politicians over the “inevitable” disappearance of the French fact justified?
This particular report covering three years labor by social scientists is a figurative mine field. A lot of politicians will balk at some projections, particularly on language and the lesser importance given immigration as an economic booster. Start auguring any inevitabilities about what Canada is almost sure to be and it’s touchy.
When this demographic exercise was announced I rushed to print with skepticism that anything so costly and broad could be worth the high price. I was wrong. Now I’m convinced there’s been progress in demographic utility since 1970. That’s when mandarins close to Pierre Trudeau’s office, alarmed by the declining fertility in the country, commissioned the first demographic exercise. It was executed under Jean Marchand and Tom Kent but never made public.
Here are a few conclusions from the latest review.
In spite of our low fertility (and without immigration) Canada’s population will continue growing until 2010. In 2011 it will start to decline, disappearing completely from the Earth in the year 2786.
On present trends, Ontario’s population will grow faster than the national average as Quebec’s share of the national population gets smaller.
The traditional strength of francophones – once 30% of the total population – has been declining since World War II, reaching today’s low of 23%.
The impact of immigration on Canada’s population, both its growth and ethnic composition, has been considerable. The traditional countries (Europe) are supplying fewer and fewer arrivals; the Third World is fast becoming the basic source. Most arrivals move to the big cities – Toronto and Vancouver.
The aging process in our population is likely to continue, reaching a peak in the year 2031. But contrary to the conventional wisdom, this will not lead to lesser prosperity or dropping living standards given sensible planning and use of resources. Education and technical skills are more important than mere numbers. Population growth and numbers of people are not deemed major factors in the economic well-being of modern economies. Therefore, personal income of Canadians over the next 50 years will largely be unaffected by population growth.
Life expectancy will continue to increase, more so for women than men. This should aggravate the risks of poverty associated today with being elderly, female and living alone.
The most jarring passage in an otherwise dispassionate report is in the introduction which summarizes the effort: 167 studies produced by some 200 scholars, then states: “Special efforts were made to interest women scholars in the review’s work, and 20% of the studies are the work of women researchers. This misplaced attempt at affirmative action bothers me. Others, of another cast of mind, will deplore 20% as unforgivably low. I mention this to underline that statistical interpretation can depend on an interpreter’s biases.
For anyone who finds Charting Canada’s Future too cool or dispassionate try another recent book: G-Forces; Reinventing the World, by Canadian futurologist Frank Feather (Summerhill Press).
While we Canadians worry if our population should reach 30 million in the next two decades, Feather projects the globe’s humanity at l0 billion by the year 2050. He points out that it’s a globe that is more and more sharply divided into two imbalanced blocks, the developed and comparatively under-populated North and the overrcrowded Third World.
Feather warns: “Such a demographically (and hence economically) divided world is simply not sustainable.”
In short, we’re not the problem, and we can hardly be much of the solution.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, December 24, 1989
ID: 11953286
TAG: 198912240160
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: C3
COLUMN: In Ottawa
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

WHO’LL SHED A TEAR FOR FAT CITY?

Spare a seasonal thought for some in Ottawa.
Which Ottawa? There are several, but the one you might be kind to is, unfortunately, the ugly Ottawa – the place with far too many who believe all the capital has is its, and their, just due from the nation. Fat City Ottawa.
The “Ottawa” most used nationally is a synonym for the federal government. You know the newscast phrasing: “Ottawa says no to the provinces.”
That usage is handy but it probably sustains the sense of significance and high worth of many Ottawans, notably those elected to its various regional governments, the provincial legislatures and to Parliament. In the past week most of this crew have been crying ruin.
You would think the cuts and postponements of programs and construction affecting the capital that were announced last week by the Mulroney government were a vicious, calculated affront, creating a disaster area.
The high whine and fury of these grievors is embarrassing to any resident who knows that many of the superb facilities, services and landscapes he and his family enjoy – far better than those in any other Canadian city – came not from any merit or right of ours but out of the pockets of taxpayers everywhere.
It seems so sensible. A government has been spending far more than it takes in. Its deficits and debts pile up. Surely spending must be curbed, right? And in the most obvious locus of spending, the capital region.
Out of last year’s federal election came six new Liberal MPs for the capital region. Five of them had been local politicians. The one who wasn’t prominent as such, John Manley (Ottawa South), is the cream of this vociferous crop. He has interests and ideas far beyond the local circumference. The rest of the capital’s Grit MPs are parish pumpers. Three of them – Gilles Rochelau of Hull-Aylmer, Marlene Catterall of Ottawa West and Beryl Gaffney of Nepean are already a match at decrying Tory callousness to Ottawa as the veteran at it, Jean-Robert Gauthier, for 18 years the Grit MP for Ottawa-Vanier.
The epithet “Fat City” flowered in the U.S. in the early ’70s as a tag for Washington. I recall applying it to Ottawa in columns and TV programs in the late ’70s. That was when Marc Lalonde’s grandeur for the capital region was underwriting Robert Campeau’s local emergence as tycoon and billionaire. Fat City never really took as a nickname – until recently.
Fat City has now vaulted into stock usage because the PM has been accused (wrongly) for incorporating it in his analysis of restraint. In fact, the phrase was given him within a reporter’s question. The main force in reviving the term, however, and turning it into a national synonym for Ottawa has been Don Blenkarn. This Tory MP who bays after deficits and debt became local Ottawa’s villain a year ago when he first forecast less federal money for a now Liberal capital.
Blenkarn is crass in almost any argument, particularly so about Ottawa as an over-elaborate sinkhole for Canadians’ taxes. But his blunt projections reinforce my plea for kind thoughts from elsewhere this season for the most affluent community in Canada. Pray for us. Help us bear petty politicians who howl childishly with little cause. Ottawa is very, very fat, and they won’t concede it’s so.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, December 22, 1989
ID: 11952873
TAG: 198912220226
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS

So another decade of the House closes. On Wednesday evening, just past 6 p.m., I was on a path familiar over three decades – into Parliament through the west door of the Centre Block, up the open, inner staircase onto the apron of the foyer before the chamber itself, skirting it, around a corridor’s corner to the quiet of the green, high-ceilinged reading room with all the papers and magazines of Canada.
It was well past question period, so there wasn’t the TV pack with its kerfuffle and bright lights on the apron. Few people were in sight or moving. Earlier, in my room in the press building, I had heard the House bells ringing in MPs for a vote. I asked one of the House protective staff, a veteran, if the vote was over.
“Just done,” he said. “They’re onto statements now – just a couple – then they’re gone.”
“Until tomorrow. They’re scheduled to Friday?”
“No, they’re gone until next year, until the 22nd. Full of brotherly love, they’re finished. Off home. Through for the year. In fact, through for the decade.”
Although it shouldn’t, such sudden bursts of co-operation and amity from a gang so nasty and apocalyptically critical always surprises me somewhat. Here the House of Commons (actually at that moment some 30 MPs, or a tenth of its whole) was wrapping up unmomentously and in rare harmony a 13th decade of sittings.
The reasons for the absence of memorializing for the decade are easily found. Below its surface noise the House is very routine. However its utility as a national focus and as a fail-safe, most House time beyond the 45 minutes a day spent on question period is a bore which most MPs, especially ministers and leaders, duck.
The House decade just over was not a very distinguished one, particularly in oratory. There was much turnover from the three elections of the decade – 1980, 1984 and 1988. Only some 80 MPs from the crew which assembled in 1980 with the fourth of Pierre Trudeau’s governments are in this House. This was the first full decade of televised House proceedings (it began in 1979). The sterile stodginess of such coverage has not been altered a bit to make a more interesting, informative program. What televising did over the decade was reinforce the gladiatorial combat of question period.
Perhaps the most unfortunate factors in this House decade were two incompetent Speakers – Jeanne Sauve, 1980-1984, and John Bosley, 1984-86. “Incompetent” simply in being unable to maintain decorum or consistency from the chair. Such frailty furthered an exaggerated, partisan animosity and an adolescent’s level of speech and criticism which John Fraser, the Speaker going into the ’90s, has only been able to moderate modestly. And Fraser is without any MPs to help him in the way, say as could a few exceptionally able parliamentarians who were there in 1980, like Stanley Knowles, Allan MacEachen and Ged Baldwin.
In my memory, MPs of any caucus have not liked being on the Hill with Christmas near. The most group hatred among MPs that I recall flourished several times in the early 1960s. The days before the Christmas break were fouled up by a two-man filibuster of divorce bills for Quebecers and Newfoundlanders. It was carried on by two stubborn CCF MPs, Frank Howard and Arnold Peters. Their Christmas blackmail infuriated most other MPs, but their antics did hurry a divorce reform package which did away with an archaic means of divorce for residents in two provinces which wouldn’t concede there should be divorces. They also helped get a broadening of reasons for divorce beyond adultery.
There were no filibusters this week by determined opposition MPs. It’s a fair question: Why not?
In recent weeks Liberals and New Democrats have raised hell over an array of grievous shortcomings and stupid, even vicious initiatives of the Mulroney government.
Take this bag of the parliamentary week:
Obviously, the GST is both a fraud and a pending disaster.
Almost as wicked are mean moves to change unemployment benefits and to “claw back” from our higher-income aged (“the men and women who built Canada”).
Then there’s that blockhead, John Crow of the Bank of Canada. Michael Wilson lets him keep interest rates high and multitudes suffer.
An immediate regional tragedy has been created by government bumbling and callousness with the lives of Atlantic fishermen and fish plant workers.
And the benign moments of recess came only short hours after opposition outrage at Mulroney backing American power in Panama.
Perhaps just the naive would ask my question. Why not a pre-Christmas filibuster? When a PM and his crew are so mean, sneaky, untruthful, and incompetent should they not be blocked and belabored every possible parliamentary minute?
Well, most of the racket is phoney, just the righteous parliamentary game of “black and white” politics. On Monday – tremendous urgency over the cod crisis. Tuesday – outrage over the GST and its changes. Wednesday afternoon – Latin America going to the devil; seniors being fleeced. Wednesday evening -let’s pack it for a month. We’ll scream again on the 22nd.
Don’t get me wrong, I cherish the actors and their act on the Hill. I’ll be happy to have them back next month.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, December 20, 1989
ID: 12785608
TAG: 198912200222
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

PLAYING THE PERCENTAGES

It seems one of those reductions to absurdity which are indigenous to our politics has taken place. It comes from the lengthiness of our parliamentary procedures. Each major issue gets flogged, flogged and flogged again, not with detailed analysis or alternatives but with much damning or hyperbolic praise.
Yesterday months of furor over the GST proposals narrowed into the compromise by its sponsor. Nine is now seven.
After polling galore, after protest meetings and pickets coast to coast, after rejection from nine of 10 premiers, after the noisy odyssey of Don Blenkarn & Co. – 9% is down to 7%.
The draft of what Parliament is to pass is now apparent. But remember, what this Parliament may do in taxation can be undone by the next one. And remember, the GST may barely be in effect before a Parliament controlled by its zealous Liberal detractors wipes it out. Deservedly so, of course, if it outrages public opinion, as they and the New Democrats allege.
If the Grits regain power in ’92 we could certainly assume another “first” action of a Chretien or Martin or Axworthy government would be the six months notice of termination to the free trade agreement with the U.S. Also certain would be an immediate resuscitation of all the projects and programs in Ottawa itself that have been slashed or delayed by vengeful Tories punishing the capital region for rejecting them in ’88.

The holiday season last year came so soon after an election and a new cabinet that it wasn’t graced with the usual speculation on a cabinet shuffle. We’re not now so hobbled, so I begin with the idea that the most obvious spending cuts we didn’t get last week could be put in Mike Wilson’s next budget two months ahead. That is, a sharp reduction in the cabinet’s numbers. Say to 32 from the present 38.
For over four years speculation has run that the PM ought to shuck two ministers in particular. Each is seen by the opposition and the media as inadequate and supernumerary – Tom Siddon in fisheries and Monique Vezina, doing double duty as a “state” minister for seniors and employment and immigration. Their reputations have not been rising and there are Senate vacancies.
There is a far more obvious and dangerous failure as minister – Sen. Lowell Murray. He’s been dolefully inadequate as either a constitutional salesman or as diplomat. He won whatever repute he has as an “insider” and apparatchik on the payrolls. If such is his chief merit the PM might consider a better person of that kind, say a mouth like Hugh Segal or a charmer like John Tory, rather than one with the impact of a long-caught cod.
Murray has done nothing in exploiting the swollen egos of Clyde Wells and the three Manitoba saviors, Filmon-Carstairs-Doer. Few Tories in real (i.e., electoral) politics care if Murray is dropped. Further, his role as Senate leader has been done as badly as his “federal-provincial” leadership. Witness the wily flummoxer, Sen. Allan MacEachen.
Who could the PM take to handle the Meech accord task? Himself! Or no-nonsense sorts like Barbara McDougall or Don Mazankowski.
There are my spurs for a ministerial shuffle. I would throw in the following tips: Two very able ministers do not have enough to do, particularly in public exposure – Kim Campbell, a “state” minister for Indian affairs and northern development, and Gilles Loiselle, “state” minister for finance. One young minister, Jean Charest (youth and sport) is clearly ready – in English and in French – for far more responsibility.

A myth without much of parliamentary substance to sustain it is evident in a campaign which is developing to build a non-denominational chapel on Parliament Hill in the name of a clergyman who once served as an MP.
Such a chapel would not memorialize the “Saint in Politics,” Rev. J.S. Woodworth, for 22 years an MP for Winnipeg and the father of our old-age security system; not Woodworth’s now famous successor and the finest parliamentarian of several eras, Rev. Stanley Knowles, an MP for 38 years; not Rev. Dan McIvor, arguably the most liked, respected MP on Parliament Hill from 1935 to 1938 as he represented the Lakehead.
Perhaps a few sentences of wondrous prose from a recent Toronto Star gives the flavor of the conception.
“ . . . it happened, not so long ago. A 20-year-old Irish Catholic from Hamilton breezed into the House of Commons, disarmed his opponents and delighted his friends with his eloquence and impish humor, then abruptly quit politics to enter the priesthood. Father Sean O’Sullivan was 37 when he died of leukemia last spring.”
O’Sullivan won two elections in Hamilton-Wentworth and served five years as an MP before quitting. He was not a strong or regular debater.
His large attention from the media came from his youth, his “mascot” and protege functions for John Diefenbaker and his part in a group of Tory right-wingers tagged the Chateau Clique, along with another of its linchpins, the late Tom Cossitt. Such agitation bedevilled the Tory leader, Bob Stanfield, and was relished by Diefenbaker. But after the Chief’s death, O’Sullivan was to make fun of the opinions and mannerisms of the man through whom he first got so much publicity.
Some model!

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, December 18, 1989
ID: 12785357
TAG: 198912180234
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

WHO’LL EXPLAIN PENSION REFORM?

The department of finance just issued materials on pension reform in a pile three inches thick that ran to several thousand pages. The brief item was a two-page press release. Then came a 26-page pamphlet on the reform, titled Improvements In Tax Assistance for Retirement Savings, then a compendium guide to current provisions and new proposals, then a massive draft of a “ways and means” proposal which Michael Wilson will bring to Parliament for passage into law.
Lord knows, complex bills or white papers are no longer rare. Knowledgeable lawyers would say, correctly, that the pension reform package has less detail and is not as potentially repercussive as, say, the GST proposals have and will be or as was the late, not much lamented National Energy Program brought in by Pierre Trudeau’s last government.
Nevertheless, the pension reform package is a classic of incomprehensibility to most of us. It makes us pray for experts and hope for their mercy.
A splendid test of complexity is how the popular media handles an issue. How much time did network TV news give the pension package? So far as I could find, one item on one network of less than a minute.
Print stories? Every daily I checked had a story. A few with substantial business sections had several, yet there was barely enough to do more than alert a reader something big is in the works which will affect his bread and butter. The day-to-day media cannot handle pension reform thoroughly even if it is profoundly significant to millions.
What did the politicians do with it last week? Almost zilch! They put far more time and passion into dwindling of cod stocks and on their own reputations, soiled by RCMP snoops.
It’s true the reforms will be much tussled over by a score or more interest groups, including rich, entrenched ones like the banks and insurance companies.
It’s true there will be parliamentary hearings and hours of House debate on the motions when they are formally moved in Parliament. It’s also certain most of the debate will be steeped more in partisanship than in cogent analysis.
“Bad!” the opposition will shout.
“Great!” the government will respond.
Some of us will be represented in the hearings by delegates whom we will have chosen indirectly, say through belonging to a trade union or a professional association. Some interest groups will “brief” and make recommendations while purporting to speak for some of us by class or kind, say as seniors or aborigines or females.
It is clear from the new pamphlet on pension reform that the finance department believes the basics of our pension system to be readily understandable. I disagree.
It’s easy to understand why we have tax assistance so each of us can save toward our own retirement, beyond what we may get from the national old age security pension and the Canada Pension Plan (into which we and our employers have contributed). Tax assistance means each of us can better provide for the extent of our income and the living standards we can afford in retirement. Such assistance has been based on the simple idea that current income each of us sets aside for retirement should not be taxed when it is saved but when it is received as pension.
Some serious “rubs” in tax practices have grown up from this simple idea of postponing the taxation. How much should be set aside each year, and for how many years? The advantages are clear for those with high incomes or a large margin for savings, over those with lower incomes and with tiny or no margins. Further, many Canadians in the low to middle-income range depend for most retirement income on employer-sponsored plans which are widely various in both contribution levels and benefits paid. Therefore, the government has developed these reforms, and its pamphlet makes the prospects seem wonderful. For example:
“Under the proposed system of limits, most Canadians will have increased opportunities to save on a tax-assisted basis. The proposed system sets fairer, clearer and more consistent limits on tax assistance for retirement saving. It will provide Canadians with better opportunities to achieve income security in retirement . . . all Canadians will have full access to the new limits, regardless of their employment situations or the nature of their savings arrangements. Individuals will no longer lose the right to tax assistance if they are unable to contribute in a year. They will be able to make catch-up contributions in future years when they are better able to afford to save for their retirement.”
Clear so far? And promising? Yes. Then the slender pamphlet moves into the vocabulary that sends me to a tax lawyer or accountant. It lists the seven “principal features” of the reforms, pitches forth on RRSPs and DPSPs distinguishes between “money purchase” and “defined benefit” RPPs and so on, putting me in the ruck of ignorance.
A scan of the labor force and those retired indicates pension reforms will or may quickly affect over 16 millions of us. Probably fewer than 1% of us have the mix in keenness, time, and knowledge to appraise the merit of these reforms or to plan to use them.
Willy-nilly, we must be served and guarded in such complexities by distant delegates or surrogates, most of whom are outside electoral politics or media ranks.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, December 17, 1989
ID: 12785179
TAG: 198912170179
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C6
COLUMN: In Ottawa
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

TESTING HONESTY IN POLITICS

The uproar among politicians at word from the RCMP’s top man about Mounties snooping on Parliament Hill has similarities with sport and the Ben Johnson case.
The rub-off from the tests which caught the use of steroids by the sprinter puts in doubt the honesty of high performance athletes and their coaches, and the worth of their records. Inquiries, allegations, and leaks have confirmed how widespread the knowledge was within the sport communities about the wide use of steroids.
The reiterated explanations for such usage and a pervasive evasion of the rules have emphasized the intensity of competition, the enormous rewards for victors and record-setters, the demands of national pride for medals and the vivid improvements in strength and performance from using the drugs. It became a choice of either using them or being content with merely competing, never winning.
What has been emerging in the global athletic world since Johnson was caught is likely to have a copycat relevance to what may be done – even, what may have to be done – by the people of Parliament Hill. They have a problem created by the extensive resources they now command and the dubious or wrongful use of them by some politicians.
From official reactions given as evidence at the Dubin inquiry and from the recently announced plans of the International Olympic Committee it is clear the days of “honor” in sport are gone. Highly organized, competitive sports are into an era of intense scrutiny and a lot of random testing. In short: Eternal policing, a never-ending snoop!
In the last mandate of Ronald Reagan as governor of California I visited the capital, Sacramento, for an inquiry into reforming the Ontario Legislature. One practice of the state legislature intrigued our commission – i.e., how it supervised the use of expense accounts, services, staffs and outside funding and contributions by elected members. The method was harsh and so was its justice. But both Republican and Democrats assured us it was effective. It was remarkably like what’s emerging as the new regime for controlling drug use in sport.
The prime point about the California system as the then-Speaker of the assembly put it was that it rejected the honor system. It assumed, out of experience, that not all elected representatives of the people would be honest or reasonably accountable in the use of funds and services provided them by the legislature to do their work. Competition among legislators, individually and as partisans of parties, was intense. So was much mutual suspicion and a readiness to allege a rival or the other party was guilty of chicanery and malfeasance.
And so the members had gotten together in aid of the reputation of their institution and themselves to devise a system of spending and controls.
They wanted a system with practices which gave each member lots of freedom of choice but which would limit skulduggery by a relentless search for it and severe penalties when it was found.
The essence of the system (slightly oversimplified) was the issuance of a general-purpose credit card to each member. He or she had wide latitude in what could be bought or engaged for; however, a small, unobtrusive and continuing posse of investigators would always be doing random checks on members’ spending. Each member would know he would never know when and where any of his spending or relations with backers and interest groups or the use of state-supplied facilities and services by his legislative and constituency staffs would be examined.
The investigators would report any chicanery, errors, and mismanagement found in their random checks to a small, joint committee of senior members which, in effect, had power to summon, demand explanations, institute dismissal action and recommend criminal prosecution.
Responses like those taken in international sport and by the California legislature might be considered by our 400 parliamentarians. Stop the pretense all will be honest and honorable in office.
Give up hope the present meanness in partisanship will wane – for example, allegations of deceit or dishonesty in almost every question period. Assume a few MPs will cheat or try to do so.
Put in a system to check and sound alarms. It need not be under the aegis of either the federal police or the respective Speakers or the auditor general, although staff could well be seconded from each. What would an honest MP and his or her staff have to fear?

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, December 15, 1989
ID: 12784967
TAG: 198912150247
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

FIRST FAMILY OF THE CCF-NDP

As a generalization it’s true: There have been more books, and far more good books, about the CCF-NDP and about Social Credit than about the two older parties whose lines run back past Confederation.
The latest book on a party is perhaps the most fascinating of all. It’s Unfinished Journey; the Lewis Family, by Cameron Smith, a former editor at the Globe (Summerhill Press).
A reviewer of the particular book must curb an urge to rant that much of the content is extraneous and many CCF and NDP figures are either missing or skimmed. To do so, however, might scare off readers, and this account of the Lewis family, from great grandparents Maishe and Raisel, grandparents David and Sophie, parents Stephen and Michele, to their brood, is an imaginative entwining of our politics with one family’s lives over four generations. One sees a movie or series for the NFB from this raw material.
The story begins with a flashback (the book has many) to a summer day in 1920. A largely Jewish village, Svisloch in Western Russia awaits the Red Army of the Bolsheviks. It is driving west to Warsaw. Enter Maishe and Raisel Losz, parents of 11-year-old David, 9-year-old Charles and 7-year-old Doris.
Within two years the upheavals from the passage and the subsequent retreat of the Bolsheviks under Polish counter-attack would cause the emigration of the Losz family to Montreal, where a brother-in-law was in the needle trades.
Maishe Losz was a village leader in the Jewish Labor Bund, one of many revolutionary parties which were out to overthrow or democratize the empire of the czars.
Smith gives over 100 pages to the Bund, the political history of Russia, the Jewish “pale” of settlement, and the conceptions Maishe Losz held and which were taken forward by his son into our Canadian politics. These might be characterized as “parliamentary Marxism.” That is, an acceptance of Marxist class analysis with an exploited proletariat which demands social justice for all, the rooting of political action in the people.
The significance of the Bund’s ideas and values are crucial to understanding the political work and positions taken in Canada by the Lewis family. The essence of the Bund philosophy is reiterated in this family story so often it is worth quoting them. This is from one of Smith’s many “flashforwards.”
“ . . . a real revolutionary movement must have its roots in its own environment. It was a lesson that Maishe never put aside; when he came to Canada he brought it with him. David applied it coast to coast as national secretary for the CCF, hammering it relentlessly into the party psychology, and Stephen took it the next step, to individual ridings, honing and refining it still further.”
Another Bund idea was also vital to Maishe and David. bundists believed that:
“It is better to go along with the masses in a not totally correct direction than to separate oneself from them and remain a purist.” Smith states this was a “credo that David applied to Canadian politics, as did Stephen, and it has been at the heart of the most troubling internal debates within the CCF and the NDP. It is the point of difference between the ideological missionaries and power pragmatists, raising that most volatile of issues, compromise. It has dogged the party from beginning and it continues to this day.”
A lot of the detail of Russian politics, the revolutionary parties, and the Jewish communities in Eastern Europe 70 and 80 years ago seems superfluous. Also, the dramatic device of conversations (within quotes) in the European lives of Maishe and Raisel may bother some readers.
Whatever the disproportion of a third of the book given to the family’s pre-emigration period, it does rivet the Lewis themes of social justice and equality alongside a reverence for parliamentary democracy and respect for the electoral judgment of the people. It does explain the vigor David Lewis put into ridding left-wing politics and our trade unions of communists and why he and Stephen cleansed the NDP of the Waffle movement.
It also explains the lack of religiosity in the Lewis family. While ever aware of their Jewishness for them the “workers’ circles” of the Bund had replaced the synagogue.
Within 10 years of coming to Montreal David Lewis had mastered English, picked up some French, and so impressed McGill he won a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford. And he’d found the love of his life, the beautiful Sophie Carson. As the Depression fell over Canada the two of them were off to England. There he astounded Oxford as a debater and got to know everyone important in the British and Western European left.
In 1935 the couple returned to Canada to marry, as David took up the invitation of the CCF’s founding spirit, J.S. Woodworth, to be the national secretary of the party.
At once David became the central figure in the CCF’s organization, ideas and political strategies. And today, 55 years later, the Lewis family through David and Sophie’s two sons and one of their daughters remain the chief proprietors of the successor party, the NDP.
For all the detail, much of it weird or in odd sidebars, you come out of Unfinished Journey knowing everyone in a remarkable family.
At another time, this column will touch on important partisan roles which are oddly presented (e.g. T.C Douglas and Stanley Knowles) or not mentioned at all.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, December 13, 1989
ID: 12784633
TAG: 198912130227
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

TERROR LINKS TO KILLINGS?

To a natural sceptic there is much about the killer and the killing of 14 female students at the University of Montreal engineering school which needs much more exposure. This skepticism has little to do with the seizure and use of the tragedy by those who indict our society’s males for their ingrained, prevailing violence toward females.
Do our intelligence services have anything on possible terrorist links to these killings? Have they profiles on those in Quebec universities and polytechnical schools of those with ties or support from sources such as Algeria and Libya?
Isn’t there need to search for such links? It seems too simple the killer was merely an intense misogynist, conditioned by our endemic hostility to females and by a brutal father into a vengeful killer of women. The firm Lavolin first vaulted to major status and recently to corporate giganticism out of huge, federally backed, engineering contracts in North Africa. Ever since there has been interest and exchange in education and training of engineers and technicians from Algeria and Libya at the University of Montreal and Montreal CGEPS.
The sheer scope and expedition of the slaughter suggest there may be far more to this than a “loner” with an enormous grievance and remarkable marksmansip.

The recent NDP convention was somewhat a trial run by both CBC and CTV of logistics, techniques and on-air personalities to be used for the much bigger Liberal leadership show next June in Calgary. Bigger in terms of delegates, media personnel, and “observers” – but not in candidates.
The NDP had six (of seven) aspirants with track records in electoral politics. The Liberals will have five, perhaps six – for certain Jean Chretien, Paul Martin, Lloyd Axworthy, Sheila Copps, and Dennis Mills. A sixth would more likely come out of the federal caucus, not from provincial politics. The chances of a run by David Peterson are nil.
The costs and getting-through-the-gate requirements of the party rule out nuisance candidates although Paul Martin has the resources and might have the reasoning to sponsor one. Why do so? Some strategists think a second-runner could find an extra ballot useful for wooing and bargaining time.
Mills says The Journal must know the use of what was gained from miking at the NDP convention has blown any such co-operation from Liberal candidates and their handlers.

John Brewin, NDP MP for Victoria, has made two points over my column which saw as hypocritical the criticism by NDPers of John Bassett’s appointment to head the panel charged with reviewing CSIS, our security and intelligence outfit.
Brewin says he attacked the failure of the PM to “consult” adequately the NDP leader on the choice of Bassett. He said nothing, however, about any inadequacies of Bassett for the chore (such as age and ignorance of the subject field). A check I’ve made bears him out, although many others, including New Democrats, were not reticent about Bassett’s past or his present capabilities.
Secondly, Brewin wondered if it was fair or necessary for me to mention the fact he had filed some months ago for personal bankruptcy. In this I was unfair, and it’s a poor defence to state the obvious: That anything a politician has done, personally and in a family sense, has become grist for public portrayal by political partisans and journalists.

There has been such an extraordinary spew of new books in the pre-Christmas period that as a reviewer I have a hard time sorting out from the lame or the worthy those which gave such pleasure I have pushed them on my friends. The three of this season which have moved me most are Larry Zolf’s novel (?) Scorpions for Sale (Stoddart); Ken Dryden and Roy MacGregor’s Home Game (McLelland & Stewart) and Cameron Smith’s Unfinished Journey: The Lewis Family (Summerhill Press).
Arguably, Zolf’s book is too full of exaggerations, too slight in plot lines, too irreverent of revered Canadians.
Arguably, the magnificent photos in Home Game are disproportionate to the slenderness of text.
Arguably, it’s rare to find a book so botched in disorganized development and bootless detail as in the saga of David and Sophie, Stephen and Michele, but nowhere else has there been such witness of what I’ve known since the mid-1960s: The NDP-CCF has always belonged to the Lewis family, and vice-versa.
After scores of mostly vapid, usually narrow books on hockey or its players since the publishers’ dam burst in 1972 it was like revelling again in the great series with the Soviets of that year to slide through Home Game’s clear, thorough exposition of hockey’s trends.
As for the CBC’s Zolf, the prime minister recognized his unique status among political critics and wits by attending a launch on the Hill for the book by the would-be senator for Winnipeg North. Further, his wife has bought a swatch of Scorpions as Christmas gifts.
To savor the scale of such recognition for Zolf and his exuberant tales, recall that the PM did not come to the recent launch in Ottawa of a new book on politics and the press by the No. 1 columnist of the nation, even though this celebrity exiled himself to Washington for four years so as not to prejudice his work or the PM because of their long-standing intimacy.
Ah, Zolf, it’s an OC next.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, December 11, 1989
ID: 12784381
TAG: 198912110231
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

IMMIGRATION IRONIES

I have had a response from the Canadian Ukrainian Immigrant Aid Society to my column which mocked the hypocrisy in the proposed establishment of a consulate in Kiev by the Mulroney government if it comes to pass without specific steps to enable at least a modicum of emigration from Ukraine to Canada. Such newcomers would invigorate the much-heralded contribution to Canadian multiculturalism by the many Canadians of Ukrainian stock.
“It appears,” writes Bob Mykytiuk,, “that Ottawa bureaucrats are formulating new regulations that would effectively prevent community organizations in Canada from sponsoring overseas refugees at their own cost . . . Ukrainians have to a large extent been excluded from the yearly 3,500 East European allocation of government-sponsored refugees.”
There are several ironies in all this. Historically, spokesmen for Ukrainian and Polish Canadians pushed the case at Lester Pearson’s Royal Commission in Bilingualism and Biculturalism which led to the recognition of a third Canadian element. This “non-charter group” of immigrants and their descendants, were of great worth, and thus Canada rolled on toward and into multiculturalism as policy and now as a federal ministry.
Those who most made multiculturalism happen have small solace in our immigration policies. Under the Tories these have become a refugees’ policy. Witness what Gordon Fairweather’s ponderous refugee review board is attaining: Some 94% approval of refugee claimants, most from Latin America, the Caribbean and Southeast Asia. And the wonders of such relaxed gate-keeping are credited to our national enthusiasm for multiculturalism.
The second irony in the cavalier brush-off being given would-be Ukrainian “economic” immigrants (and one may be sure, to such would-be immigrants from Poland, East Germany, and Czechoslovakia) is more profound.
At the heart of our multicultural policies, as minister Gerry Weiner extols them, are two principles:
1) All ethnicities and their respective cultures and heritages are of equal worth in Canadian realities;
2) Each ethnic group in Canada is entitled, hopefully supported by the Constitution, to retain and cherish the distinctive elements in its heritage, from religion to language to dress, and to equal opportunities in work or in public institutions under federal writ.
Oh, this is a such a wide, and so humane, policy. No other national provenance on the globe matches it, although the USSR may have . . . on paper!
So where’s the irony? It’s neither in Canada as a 21st century Noah’s Ark nor in the stratospheric bills for servicing such engrained diversity.
If ethnic heritage is so fundamental, so imperative for human dignity and self-respect, where’s the sensible place for its exercise? Surely where it is most numerous and homogeneous. Whatever Trinidadians or Salvadorans or Hong Kong Chinese face it’s not a threat to their ethnicity or heritage.
If Canadians are as dedicated to succoring those in difficulty and fears, as effulgent politicians say, it makes sense to do as much as possible with funds and expertise put where the ethnics are or in the regions and climates in which such cultures and ethnicities have matured.
Surely an ethnicity is stronger together than in trying to survive in a scatter over a vast country with a host of other hyphenated ethnicities. I concede, however, that irony is without solace for my Ukrainian friends who want to help bring their relatives and other fellow ethnics here to be Canadian.
Some may see it as an imperative, others as a macabre, even ghoulish exploitation of a terrible tragedy. Willy-nilly, in the slaughter by Marc Lepine the spokeswomen for feminism have a pivotal case to sustain their broad assertions that females in Canada are in grave, continuing danger from male violence. These assertions had become so familiar, so often reiterated, they had lost persuasive immediacy.
Of course, no male politician has dared argue the feminists were exaggerating and damning a huge population of men who have been neither violent nor condoned such violence.
The political consequences of a refreshed feminist drive will likely be tighter controls on those who own or seek to have guns and larger grants for the groups and programs which aid battered women and rape victims. There may even be a revival in force of the anti-porn campaign. That drive withered away. There was effective criticism by others on the left side of the political spectrum, alleging a tough law against obscene materials meant censoring artistic expression and personal freedom.
But the main to-do from this tragedy will take place on college and university campuses and these are in the provincial domain.
Audrey McLaughlin grew up in the same rural community in Southwestern Ontario from which John Kenneth Galbraith issued forth into the United States, and fame, as an economist, writer, and seminal adviser within the Democratic party. Read his 1964 reminiscence, The Scotch, for a clear, wry account of the forces and hopes which sent youth forth to seek their fortune in Detroit or Toronto. Galbraith was of a farm family, McLaughlin’s had both a small farm and a store.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, December 10, 1989
ID: 12784191
TAG: 198912100161
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C5
COLUMN: Backgrounder
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

BRAVE NEW WORLD//… BUT THE SAME OLD CANADA

The 1980s: Best political decade in modern times? Yes. Of course, not because of the four prime ministers this decade – Joe Clark, Pierre Trudeau, John Turner and Brian Mulroney – or the sum of their legislative attainments or the inspiration and satisfactions they gave us.
Not because we have settled our core division, although many of us thought we had in May, 1980, when almost 60% of Quebec voters rejected Rene Levesque’s sovereignty option.
Not because in 1982 we were drawn into a refurbished, “patriated” Constitution which provided an American phenomenon which Canadians hadn’t known they needed during over a century of their country’s history – the Charter of Rights and Freedoms
No, this decade we’ll soon leave became belatedly wonderful because of the world beyond. The glimmer in 1986 as Mikhail Gorbachev began to act on the world stage like none of his predecessors has become a beacon lighting our era. There is such hope. Now we share a chance for a saner world, fewer dictators, and no uncriticizable ideologies. It is exciting yet so tenuous because a stew of nationalist aspirations is heating in the shambles of the over-mastering empire.
To become enthused just recall the bleak frustration which came over us in early 1980 with the invasion of Afghanistan. Today it seems forgettable, not something to be poked at Mikhail Gorbachev, the decade’s hero.
The prospects being realized in Eastern Europe overshadow our domestic affairs, which still engross more of us in political opinion and reaction than is the case in any other western democracy. To digress briefly, if you doubt this last observation, check our high voting percentages and compare our numbers of elected politicians and governmental employees and the salaries they make with those of any other country. Cynical we may be, but not withdrawn from politics.
Whatever has been developing in Canada does not jar with the global scenario but has little to do with the so-called “end of socialism” and the surge toward peace and openness although we stood fast as a smaller partner in the alliance against the Soviet menace.
The hope of these months ought to remind us, both that our modest world role was not wrong and how comparatively fortunate we have been in the ’80s in terms of living standards and economic vitality. Our economy pulled out of recession in 1983 and, although we’re threatened by another, we do not enter the ’90s in a slump.
Granted, there’s far for the world to go and excruciating difficulties for the run to the 21st century. But as a miner might say, “the holes are drilled” and they didn’t seem to be as we left the 1970s.
Hindsight’s so more sure than foresight. Take a book published in early 1981, titled Canadian Politics In the 1980s, edited by Michael Whittington and Glen Williams. A score of political scientists, most young and known in their community as able, presented their opinions on where we had come from on major issues and where these would take us as the decade unfolded. Seventeen essays were grouped under four broad headings: The political agenda; the sociocultural milieu; the political system; and the structures of government.
A reader of the book finds nothing on environmental issues but it’s happened that if there is a national guru today it is the ecohero, David Suzuki.
There is barely a passing reference to what became a rising obsession at the remorseless rise in the federal debt and its carrying costs.
Taxation policy gets slight attention and that within a context of how large a public service and a public sector in the economy we want and could sustain rather than anything as singular as a universal sales tax.
There’s nothing much on issues of health and welfare nor any anticipation of related matters which were to intrigue us such as child care needs or homosexuals coming so far out of the closet, or the ghastly threat of AIDS.
The essayists who appraised our economy and its continentalist tilt were dour about our economic dependence on the U.S. and the unsophisticated level of our industry and our products and services for trade. There was not contemplation of anything like the free trade agreement (FTA) which galvanized us as we decided for it just over a year ago.
One mustn’t make much of what one group of experts didn’t prefigure for the decade in politics. In their conclusions they wrestled with the oldest stuff of our federated system, i.e., the imbalances in the powers and structures of our governments. It goes back past Confederation and on into the 1990s – witness Meech Lake. Do we need a stronger central government? The essayists sound like Clyde Wells or Pierre Trudeau in warning against seeing “the central government as only one government among 11 that are more or less equal in status.”
This eternal theme of the right balance between the orders of government is timeless and intertwines with the other pre-Confederation dilemma. Neither is likely to come nearer certain resolution in the ’90s than in the ’80s, despite what we thought when the Quebecois “chose Canada” in 1980. The safest forecast is that our politics will still be rife in the year 2000 with what is the issue implicit in the phrase “distinct society” in the Meech Lake accord.
Our “fundamental dichotomy,” as the historians call our enduring English-French essence, is the certain continuum in our national politics. Take two aspects of it which arose in 1980.
First, a prime minister who goes into the ’90s and at least two more years of power who has built his career on breaking down and then taking over the core factor in long, Liberal dominance of office – Quebec!
Second, the Canadian compromise of our times that has already confounded much of the prime legislative achievement of the ’80s – the Charter. Surely it shall do so again. I refer to the “notwithstanding” clause in the Constitution which lets elected governments obviate judicial decisions.
The implications of judicial interpretations of the Charter so far are unclear, even contradictory. Are they leaning to group rights or individual liberty? The campaigns of organized women, aboriginal leaders and some ethnic groups against the Meech accord unless their right to rights is entered in the Constitution have been taken as needed, unfinished business by all three federal parties.
Throughout the human condition in every society or community this question never disappears: Which has primacy, which ought to have it – the rights of a group or the liberties of the individual? The old-fashioned among our liberally minded tend to take the American bent for the individual. Understandably, the social democratic elements among us prize group rights more.
Our high courts? It’s not yet clear. We will surely see their trend by the next century, but one prediction I’d make with assurance is this: The great Canadian compromise of the ’80s, the “notwithstanding” clause, will still be in place.
From the 1980 state of the nation, only Buchanan of Nova Scotia is still a premier. Bennett, Lougheed, Blakeney, Levesque, Hatfield, MacLean and Peckford are gone. Even the eternal Ontario Tories slipped from power after four decades when Bill Davis left. Bourassa made the political comeback of the age. The giants of Trudeau’s hurrahs like Marc Lalonde and Allan MacEachen are into memories’ mists.
Much more was made in the ’80s of women in politics and office and yet in that sense the decade closed equivocally with the experiences of those like Suzanne Blais-Grenier, Lily Munro, and Connie Osterman countering the achievements of those like Barbara McDougall and Audrey McLaughlin.
Even Mulroney’s first term surrogate is gone, though not quite forgotten by his colleagues. One might say Erik Nielsen in his going embodied what so many of us see as regrettable but engrained in our politics: Bluff and gloss covering hypocrisy and distrust, with one tawdry scandal and grasp of greed after another.
You may recall that Nielsen undertook a massive project in the headlines for two years in mid-decade which is already forgotten. In his “program review,” 19 task forces analyzed the federal government and all its programs and suggested scores of cuts and a host of changes.
Back when the review was published in 1986 I underlined one paragraph as giving both the problem and an epitaph for our federal system. Here it is:
“Probably, the most intractable generic issue of all is the pervasive power of the status quo. While there may be general agreement that the status quo is desirable, it is extremely difficult to reach consensus on any kind of reform. In fact, analysis alone is rarely enough.”
Consider that wisdom alongside Brian Mulroney. He is a hero few of us want to take up, much as Ronald Reagan was in his presidency, but the least that can be said for Mulroney, even by those desperate to be rid of him, is that three of his initiatives – the FTA, privatizations such as Canada Post and Air Canada, and the GST proposals – are shaking down the pervasive status quo.
The ’80s in domestic living standards were fair to good for most of us but we also became committed to major adjustments in our economy, toward the market and away from governmental control. To vault back to our opening about the world full of hope, what’s shaping here is not out of step with what’s shaping out there. But “out there” is more largely significant to us.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, December 08, 1989
ID: 12783999
TAG: 198912080263
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

GRITS PINE FOR NEW TIMBER

The prospects for the Liberals’ succession to John Turner have not altered much in the recent weeks of focus on whether the pre-convention favorite in the NDP race would win. She did, despite a sudden surge of late doubt over the slightness of her experience and talents.
As a talking point, Audrey McLaughlin’s success aids Sheila Copps but there are odd tremors in the Liberal party. At least I hear there are from a couple of Grit MPs who haven’t yet made a choice. Some of the current talk is less prompted by the gender factor and more by McLaughlin’s brief span as politician and MP.
The grand scope and immense resources of Paul Martin’s organization have sobered any thoughts of a walkover in the Chretien camp. So has the distinct coolness among Quebec Liberals to Jean Chretien. And there grows among Liberals everywhere a wistful hope, as yet without texture, for a leader who is younger and fresher than Chretien and more exciting and various than Martin.
Chretien is only coming on 56 but he was in the House of Commons in 1963, several years before Pierre Trudeau and the late Jean Marchand. Martin is 51 and Lloyd Axworthy 50. Sheila Copps is only 37. She is seen by many in the party as its spirited mascot and a magnet for media attention, not as a really serious choice.
There seems to be less Liberal interest at this time in drawing Ontario Premier David Peterson into the contest than a few months ago and there has come a lull in wonderment at the intentions of the wealthy genius at publicity and event-planning, Dennis Mills, the Toronto Broadview MP.
If 10 or so of the several dozen able MPs of the ’84 crop were to coalesce in the next month or two behind one of their number, say Mills or Peter Milliken, the Kingston MP, or even the aforementioned Martin, the race would get exciting.
Ed Broadbent both dominated the parliamentary performance of the NDP caucus and largely called the shots on who got the wheel-horse roles in the caucus organization and the assignments to the MPs. He developed this mastery over some years, sustained early on by veteran MPs of the ’70s like David Orlikow and Andrew Brewin. Who’ll so sustain McLaughlin?
She’ll need much tough-minded help because she has 27 more MPs than Broadbent first led, and so many of the gang have 10 years or more in the House. It’s unlikely she’ll lean much on veterans such as Les Benjamin, Derek Blackburn, and Lorne Nystrom. My hunch is her core guides and shapers will include Nelson Riis, the House leader, Terry Murphy (Churchill), Iain Angus (Thunder Bay-Atikokan), probably Lynn Hunter, a new MP from Vancouver Island – and perhaps Svend Robinson, although he’s still working his passage with most of his B.C. colleagues. It’s unlikely any of the other leadership contenders will always be at McLaughlin’s right or left hand.
Anyone can notice in the content of journalists’ stories and commentary, and in the opinions both public and private of many opposition politicians, that there has been a growing feeling that Michael Wilson is becoming as unpopular in the country as the prime minister.
If Wilson is now a wasted asset to his party, shouldn’t he be replaced? Isn’t the fact his credibility is gone to be read in the visceral, popular rejection of the GST?
Those two, somewhat rhetorical certainties are not yet shared by many Tory ministers or plain MPs. When they talk about the matter – as many will if not for attribution – it becomes obvious there would be hell to play in the caucus if Wilson were derricked now. Certainly he doesn’t seem to have intimated to anyone that he wants to go or would like a change in ministry.
To look backward for guidance one should note that Wilson is in his 63rd month as minister of finance. Last month he passed Donald Fleming (1957-1962) as the longest man in the finance portfolio since Douglas Abbott gave it up in 1954 after eight years. Since Fleming the ministers have been: George Nowlan, 1962-63, Walter Gordon, 1963-65, Mitchell Sharp, 1965-68, Edgar Benson, 1968-72, John Turner, 1972-75, Donald Macdonald, 1975-77, Jean Chretien, 1977-79, Allan MacEachen, 1980-1982 and Marc Lalonde, 1982-84.
What’s significant about Wilson’s durability is surely not a crown that is a popular or prideful one to wear in much of the country or with most opposition politicians. But it is the most basic of all needs for a minister of finance in carrying on. It’s not caucus backing although that helps. It’s not quite the absolute approval of the prime minister, although the present worthy reads the requirement readily. Brian Mulroney has been matching such a reading with Wilson’s continuing strength in the caucus. It’s why you may be sure Wilson will bring in the next budget, probably in February or March, and it will embrace the GST as legislation.
Simply put, “big business” continues to approve of Wilson. Also its movers and shakers haven’t any ready alternative they like, say as their predecessors loved Turner as an exceptional pick after Benson. No, the barons of finance, commerce and industry are clearly as strong for Wilson as minister of finance as for any since Douglas Abbott, with the possible exception of John Turner.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, December 06, 1989
ID: 12783679
TAG: 198912060219
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

NEW DEMOCRATS WITH OLD IDEAS

The Liberals suffer from “intellectual sterility,” says Globe and Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson. He’s right, but what about the workers’ party?
Saturation by TV of the NDP at Winnipeg was embarrassing. So many hours of voices and faces confirmed how little analysis and thought has been given to the Canadian condition by New Democrats.
Did the candidates’ speeches Friday show much more of economic analysis than soak the rich, reject the Yanks and ignore deficits?
True, economics isn’t all. But did you catch fresh themes on cultural issues? Immigration? Constitutional balance? Or directions for global diplomacy as the Cold War fades, other than distrusting Washington? I didn’t.
There were positives. Such love for underdogs. Each candidate was harsh on corporate polluters and very anti-racist. And for a bit of bite, Steven Langdon was even better at bashing Tories than Dave Barrett. There was lots of lip service to the future but little that was fresh or thorough from any of the seven. They were for the status quo before Mulroney, free trade and Meech Lake; before privatizing Air Canada and Canada Post. Like Ed, they cherish the ordinary Canadian.
The dearth of ideas for contemporary voters was pathetic. Since mid-Depression the CCF-NDP has been an innovative influence. An aspirant with innovative content may not have broken the common gloss of mediocrity, but none tried. The ablest analysis by far was Langdon’s, yet it was the most mindful of the Regina Manifesto of the CCF (1933).
Surely the nasty national mood about politicians may be summed up in one word: Cynicism!
Most of us distrust our elected governors. Mistrust is nurtured by the remorseless revelations of unholy or dubious ties to special interests by politicians and their parties.
Another root of alienation grows from perceptions in the west, the east, and the north that our organization by provinces and an electoral system of plurality in single-member constituencies distort the principle of fair representation.
As former justice Bud Estey puts it: “The provinces are pushed to the fore because there’s a fundamental disenchantment in some areas of Canada by reason of the fact representation by population turns out to be a snare and delusion”.
The silence on electoral reform at Winnipeg was astonishing. Why? Because an intrinsic in NDP dogma was often touched on: The alliance of the Tories (and the Grits too) with their corporate financial backers. And isn’t it precisely the NDP which each election is shortchanged in seats vis-a-vis its proportion of votes?
In the spring I reviewed a booklet by Tom Kent, the polymath mind of the Lester Pearson-Walter Gordon team. It had an explanatory title: Getting Ready for 1999 – Ideas for Canada’s Politics and Government. I was sure the myriad of provocative ideas in it would be raided by hopefuls in both the Liberal and NDP leadership races.
Back in 1963 Kent had readied the plans for the dispirited Liberals which became a most concerted, enacted, legislative program. This time he does not address just his old party.
“Over the last 20 years,” he writes, “I have quite openly disagreed with Liberal positions and actions. Today I am agnostic as to whether the Liberal party has the will and the capacity to formulate a constructive agenda for government.”
Now that the NDP has largely rerun platitudes, it leaves the Liberals to champion an overdue cleansing of our political process. Maybe they’ll take up Kent’s ideas. He and they are available.
Our electoral system, says Kent, has “only a loose and erratic relation” to the expressed preferences of voters. He knows fully proportional representation is unlikely in the foreseeable future so he proposes as an interim remedy “the alternative vote.” A voter would be allowed a second choice on the ballot which would come into play if no candidate got 50% on the first count. This should produce a far more representative House of Commons.
The second blight of our electoral process is “too much money” and too much political advertising which money buys. Kent believes this is the chief reason for public cynicism. Doing away with this corrupting factor would rub away a lot of the cynicism.
Kent’s cure? Prohibit any political donations by a business or a trade union, including services or donations through personnel or ticket buying. Kent would also ban advocacy advertising. Politics would be as it should: “The business of citizens as citizens.” Political parties would become “voluntary organizations financed by their members.”
Nothing beyond information on the names and offices of candidates would be permitted. The vacuum caused would be filled by political program series in the media during the last three weeks of the campaign. The media would be reimbursed for costs by the federal treasury.
Such suggestions for reform seem like articles of faith from an NDP bible. They recalled for me the campaign of 1972 when David Lewis stole centre-stage from Robert Stanfield and Pierre Trudeau by attacking the “louder voices” of the corporate welfare bums. Yet here’s his “reform” party, disinterested in changing an electoral system which cheats it.
A party of yore.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, December 04, 1989
ID: 12783327
TAG: 198912040288
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

NDP CHOOSES `EMPTY BOTTLE’

A pathetic choice! Pathos swirled from the NDP convention. Not just in its anti-Americanism; not in the belligerence that socialism was not dead in Europe or Canada. It was pathetic the kernel cadre of the NDP had its way again in the choice of Audrey McLaughlin on the fourth leadership ballot.
Those who promoted such a bland greenhorn are clearly riding the surging gender horse. And they had to have faith that able jockeying would pull McLaughlin around her stark inadequacies in knowledge, ideas, and speech.
The certain denouement of the balloting over I recalled a talk weeks ago with an NDP MP. I had told him my surprise he was backing the Yukon MP.
He agreed that McLaughlin was “rather an empty bottle” but at least she was a new one for the filling.
His candor was not for attribution and, in fairness to his views, this MP is not one of the jockeys. He was succinct on why he would not be with one of the five other candidates from the caucus although he’s known them longer than he has McLaughlin.
To begin, he said that he and party members in his region in the West preferred a new leader from other than Ontario. This ruled out the two Windsorites, Howard McCurdy and Steven Langdon. He described McCurdy as “the most difficult” single person during his own decade in the caucus. He admired Langdon his intellect and industry but rejected him as leader because of a Leninesque, ideological certainty.
He acknowledged he had pondered over Dave Barrett. The ex-premier was the pick of the lot as stormer in the House and as a crowd-drawing newsmaker on the hustings. But there were doubts over Barrett’s stamina and his impetuosity … his long- headedness. Granted, none of the others could so well exploit the topical, the immediate, or rebutt as quickly in partisan battle. Yes, and do it much better than Broadbent had. Behind Barrett’s flair and quips, however, he saw mushy ideas, notably on the economy, and biases that could regionally isolate the party.
The Barrett whom this MP described was the politician we saw through the hours of convention coverage. Think about his content, such as there was, in the wonderfully-lifting speech to the convention. It isn’t easy to agree with the MP that he should prefer McLaughlin over such a rouser but the contrast sustains the image of the woman as a largely “empty bottle” and Barrett an overflowing one.
My candid MP conceded that the two candidates with the widest range of interests which were of interest to many citizens were Simon de Jong and Ian Waddell. In fact, their stretches through communications, the arts, education, science, technology, native issues, environmentalism and cultural matters generally reflected the knock against them within the caucus. Both tended to dilettantism and enjoyment. Wadell would range glibly in many directions and bolted caucus solidarity too readily. After prodding, he granted the two shared an affable lightheartedness which aggravated the seriousness of many fai thful.
I put to the MP the risk in such an inexperienced and modestly talented leader as McLaughlin and so he ran through the positive reasons for McLaughlin. As you read them, keep in mind the McLaughlin you saw and heard through television from the convention.
First, she has the feminist pull which has become so mighty within the party.
Second, her photogenic and vocal suitability for television, especially for its clips.
Third, she’s usually been good and always adequate when on her feet in the House of Commons.
Fourth, she is a nice, likable woman, proven for him in the plain reality no one he knew in a diverse, often riven caucus disliked or distrusted her (“She gets along!”)
Fifth, her view of the country is not a central Canadian one and as a Yukoner she won’t be warped by demands of particular provinces, say as a leader from B.C. would be.
Sixth, she should make a fascinating contrast to Mulroney and Chretien in the next election campaign.
Seventh, more of the full-time workers of the federal party, especially on the Hill, prefer her to the other candidates.
Eighth, more of the union leadership is for her than against her.
Finally, she has a good chance to keep together the ambitions and quirks of a variable party that ranges from certain socialists like Langdon to social democrats like de Jong.
Implicit in his last point was something one could hardly discern in a candidate whose convention performance would seem to rate fifth or sixth, not first. It is at the core of leadership survival. And I remind myself I missed it when I foresaw grim prospects for Broadbent when he was chosen 14 years ago.
Looking back, my forecast for the Oshawan was bleak because of his inability to clothe his ideas in the language of current, social, economic and political situations, his dearth of anecdote, parables and wit. One may say the same today about McLaughlin. While Broadbent never really got those “clothes” he did master a fundamental – the 10- to 60-second TV clip. More vital, he led. Broadbent was boss. He took leads and he disciplined those who screwed up like Waddell and Svend Robinson. Maybe McLaughlin has this. We’ll know soon.
Above all, Broadbent did direct the considerable forces in organization and research of his office and party. McLaughlin begins with these forces because she is their product.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, December 03, 1989
ID: 12783348
TAG: 198912030153
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C3
COLUMN: In Ottawa
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

NDP OUTRAGE WAY OUT OF LINE

It’s par for our political course, this instant outrage from opposition MPs at the appointment by the PM of 74-year-old John Bassett to the part-time post of chairing the security intelligence review committee. (It’s charged with seeing our fairly new security intelligence service does its work fairly and well.)
The reaction of those I met in media politics to the Bassett choice was even more vehement than that from politicians. The anger and derision I heard was over: (a) the man’s age; (b) his media “tycoon” status; (c) his Tory loyalties.
Here I acknowledge a long, favorable acquaintance with John Bassett which began some 30 years ago when he gave me a columnist’s writ.
First, let me digress from how I came to know Bassett’s ebullience, generosity, and about his World War II service in the infantry.
Last Thursday I met two old hands on the House of Commons staff. They were mulling over the arrest of NDP MP Lorne Nystrom on shoplifting charges and the hullabaloo this made at the Winnipeg convention. To my surprise these men were more sympathetic to the dilemma for the party than they were for Nystrom. I asked why, and they explained.
Nystrom has been an MP for some 20 years. In the past six years he’d become a regular among those MPs who demand resignations from cabinet and caucus of ministers and MPs caught in allegations of scandal or ineptitude. In short, these men saw his case as “the biter getting bit.”
All right, an eye for an eye and all that. Why drag it in? Partly because another NDP MP, John Brewin, himself in tender straits over a personal bankruptcy, has lambasted the Bassett appointment, declaring it invalid. Also Reg Whitaker of York University, a left-wing academic (of great talent, if not judgment) has decried the PM’s choice of Bassett as scandalous and appalling.
None of the immediate critics brought up the three reappointments to the review committee (Jean-Jacques Blais, Saul Cherniack, and Paule Gauthier) though there were some dismissive remarks over the fifth (and new) committee member, Stewart McInnes, the PC minister from Halifax who lost his seat a year ago.
Let me fix more firmly on the NDP. In 1966 PM Lester Pearson set up a three-man royal commission on security, chaired by Max Mackenzie. Sadly, its recommendations two years later were side-stepped by the RCMP, which then had the security role, and Pierre Trudeau, by then prime minister, was less than rigorous in follow-up.
One of the three commissioners named in 1966 was M.J. Coldwell, former leader of the CCF, then honorary president of the NDP. He was 78 years old. At the time I waited for an outcry from somewhere over his appointment. There wasn’t a peep. A few NDP MPs who spoke with me about it saw it as an honor for the grand old man of socialism.
Now, in the context of “security” issues the Coldwell appointment was more important than is Bassett’s.
I knew M.J. Coldwell at that time. He was well past the stage of sustained application and competent analysis. His choice was honorific and gloss, a good name but an easy rider, and somewhat a deception on the Canadian left from where most suspicion and criticism of the RCMP’s security service arose.
Age with competence and stamina is most variable. Bassett, as I know him, is very fit, aggressive, nosy; perhaps best, he comes in with detachment.
More significant for the committee’s work and continuum were the reappointments: The Grit ex-minister of defence, Blais, is a dogged, argumentative lawyer; Cherniack, the ex-finance minister of Ed Schreyer’s Manitoba government, a seasoned man of exceptional intelligence and humanity; and Madame Gauthier, an able 46-year-old lawyer and teacher from Montreal.
Even though the Rat Pack itself has much cut its volume and slanders it’s regrettable that their Ottawa legacy, even in the NDP, is too much outrage at any camera’s cue.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, December 01, 1989
ID: 12783044
TAG: 198912010254
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

LEFT RIGHT OUT OF THE PICTURE

There was a touching, telling, political moment on TV this week for those who know about or who were part of the old CCF.
The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, launched early in the Dirty Thirties, converted into the New Democratic Party in 1961. The oldest living major personality of the CCF-NDP is Grace MacInnis. The TV moment was a two-word response by MacInnis to a question by Susan Reisler of The Journal.
MacInnis, the 85-year-old daughter of the CCF’s founding leader, J.S. Woodsworth, is the widow of Angus MacInnis, a socialist MP from Vancouver for 23 years (1930-53). She too was an MP, holding Vancouver Kingsway from 1965 to 1972. She is as honest, idealistic, and thoughtful a person as I have ever met. Since her childhood she was worked for the cause, as she, her father, and her husband have seen it, best put perhaps in the phrase: “From each according to ability, to each according to need.”
Bits from the homey chat Reisler had with Grace were intersticed in a pre-convention reprise of the NDP which The Journal showed Tuesday.
MacInnis gave both poignancy and coherence to what was really a hop, skip and jump through 60 years of left-wing reformism in Canada.
The piece bounced through the personalities, from Woodsworth to Coldwell to Tommy Douglas to David Lewis to Ed Broadbent. It also thinly intertwined the narrative with political “content” such as the Regina Manifesto of 1933, a clearly socialist, even Marxist, basic document for the newly formed CCF, to the much more centrist Winnipeg Declaration of 1956, to the switch in 1961 to a new name and a broader reach to profit (it was thought) on the debacle of the Liberal party in the Diefenbaker sweep.
The sketch reiterated the obvious about the stalled NDP hopes, stalled at some 20% of the national vote at elections and third place in the House of Commons. A respected leader departs for a government-created post at only 53. With Broadbent the party failed in the long sought breakthrough east of the Ottawa River. He hasn’t any obvious, potent successor at hand. The obvious ones have chosen not to run.
Without overdoing it, The Journal also conjured somewhat on the global crushing of socialist hopes. Everywhere there seems an actual or coming triumph of capitalism. Open market economics have been burying socialist planning and economic direction by the state. The socialist idea of the whole good of a community being more important than the good of an individual or individuals is in eclipse. The regimentation and controls essential to fulfil such a vision are so much taken as dangerous to individual rights and freedoms.
Arguably, the role of the CCF-NDP was to lead in popularizing such socially responsible legislation as medicare and national systems of pensions and jobless pay. Now that the social and welfare net is in place, key themes of the CCF-NDP about economic organization and development seem irrelevant. Themes such as major participation by trade unions and co-operatives in politics and economics, and the control of natural resources by government.
All this was sketched or hinted at in The Journal item. The tone while somewhat elegiac was generous in the sense it attributed much of our national social conscience to the CCF-NDP. Its programs, its politicians, spoke and still speak with humanity for the poor, the weak, and the suffering of Canada and the world. But where was it now? Poised to choose a leader from a nondescript seven, harrowed by disagreement over policy for Quebec (Meech Lake), and either saddled or shaped (which?) by being the party officially supported by the majority of organized trade unions in English Canada.
Readers will realize my imagination and memory were at work during and since this rather capsule TV version of the CCF-NDP as it was, is and may be. It did not make a heartening projection for democratic socialism in the run through the ’90s to the 21st century.
Grace MacInnis was so without rancor or bitterness. She revealed she had not liked abandoning the Regina Manifesto for the blander Winnipeg Declaration. She had recognized and reluctantly accepted the arguments which the late David Lewis marshalled for bridging the CCF into the NDP 30 years ago, but it had been a wrench.
She didn’t say it directly but it was clear she had never been enthusiastic for the NDP as a formal “labor” party. Without artifice, she was puzzled why so many who so much needed what the NDP advocated and fought for in Parliament and legislatures would not vote for it. She was not whining. Nor did she take the self-consoling route, listing the pioneering of now in place such as pensions, which was done by her father and his constituency successor, Stanley Knowles.
Susan Reisler closed her piece with the stock Barbara Frum-type question of The Journal. She wondered at this moment of leadership renewal and need for appealing NDP policies whether MacInnis was optimistic.
The answer, almost whispered, as I caught it was so indirect yet searing. This from the grand old lady of the Canadian left, as honest as they come.
She said: “Not . . . too.”
So say many.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, November 29, 1989
ID: 12782708
TAG: 198911290241
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

A NATION OF RACISTS

How rotten we are! It’s shameful being Canadian. Why so? Because we are prejudiced and hypocritical. Who says so? Ah, a man who really knows.
David Matas is a Winnipeg lawyer whose main field is immigration. His case on our shame is in a new book: Closing the Doors: The Failure of Refugee Protection (Summerhill Press). His themes are these:
As a nation we selfishly select refugees according to “what is good for Canada, rather than what is good for refugees.”
At the United Nations we’ve been heartless on refugees . . . “worse even than of the human rights violator.”
Above all, we are a “racist” nation with a despicable record to prove it. Our immigration policy is worse than racist, it is racism!
Naturally, history is Matas’ witness. He almost rages at the mean, narrow foresight of our ancestors. They did not anticipate the noble ideals of contemporary liberalism – the Charter of Rights, and all that. So, in 1885 to our eternal dishonor, Chinese immigrants were forced to pay a head tax of $50.
(Let’s pause here. Matas as our prosecutor for crimes against people of the whole globe misses a score against the Mulroney government for its scheme of admitting rich Hong Kongers in return for an “investment.”)
Matas also cites the wickedly vicious decisions of the King government in 1942. Remember how the “day of infamy” – Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941 – was followed by massacre of Canadian troops at Hong Kong by Japanese attackers, and by fears of an assault on our B.C. coast? Not only were those of Japanese stock in B.C. removed from the coast, the government restricted the entry of Japanese citizens. This last rule, Matas says, was “the most racist immigration measure . . . against the Japanese during and after WW II.”
Of course, Matas doesn’t miss the Holocaust. He outlines the tragedy of the refusal to let Jewish refugees land in Canada.
Then he states a case which will make thousands of Canadian veterans re-evaluate their service. He says: “Whatever motive Canada had for fighting Nazi Germany, saving lives of helpless victims of the Nazi Germany was not one of them.”
But his fiercest scorn is saved for the 1988 immigration legislation of the Tory government. It came after much abuse and confusion arose about our refugee policies and practices.
Matas’ ethics are so high he cannot even endorse without serious reservation the Liberals’ 1978 Immigration Act. He concedes it is “not intentionally discriminatory” but it’s flawed because it “allows and even generates systemic discrimination” without a provision for affirmative action.
Those who want a return to traditional patterns of immigration (as I do) are unashamed racists, says Matas. He distinguishes slightly in his accusations. There are open racists such as Doug Collins, a B.C. writer (and World War II veteran). And then there are those who espouse racist immigration and refugee policies without using the racist vocabulary (e.g. the Immigration Association of Canada).
One gets an eerie sense that anyone who does not share Matas’ ideals is damned to the hell every racist deserves.
Matas scoffs at the view Canadian culture may be threatened by the new, large streams of refugees and immigrants from the Third World. In reality Canada would be “culturally stunted” if most newcomers were drawn from European cultures. Far more serious is the “greater threat” to new Canadians. They are “inevitably pressured to conform to the majority culture.” They “risk losing their own cultural heritage.”
Is there any solace that Canada is not alone in its racism? Well, even superior democracies like Sweden and Switzerland are in the racist club of nations. However, Canada is the deepest in racism because it has been the most thorough in adopting “the full set of Draconian measures” against the refugees.
Not even the UN High Commission for Refugees escapes Matas’ scorn. Its fault? “Not every desk officer is a lawyer” and they either do not “understand” the protection principles or are not “interested” in applying them.
My emphasis has been on the absolute, judgmental righteousness of Matas. One wonders if his sweeping assessments come largely from the professional bias and techniques of exaggeration ingrained in immigration law practice, or is this what comes from being an expert on the Canadian and international policies and bureaucracies for immigration and refugees? Or is he acutely sensitive to discrimination out of his Jewishness?
Probably the sources of such an obsessive posture go deep.
In Matas’ blueprint for an ideal system for the millions of the refugees in our world he invokes the moral authority of the Talmud: “Whoever preserves one life, it is as if he has saved a complete world.”
And he cites the Old Testament: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
He also reaches for his law texts. He ranges from the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms which says “Every human being whose life is in peril has a right to assistance . . . ” through Vermont’s penal code to Canada’s Criminal Code, from which he argues our government “breaks the law if it impedes protection of refugees.”
David Matas would shame us into loving care of this planet’s refugees. He demands we turn from our bigotry to the succor of millions.
He’s too generous with Canada for me.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, November 27, 1989
ID: 12782403
TAG: 198911270232
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

KING IS DEAD, LONG LIVE KING

As a bystander what was my prime impression of the Brian Mulroney trip to Russia?
Its sum came up plus. Just!
Positive, future relations are a fair prospect. Several good policy and program lines now are set in workable though not yet busy agreements.
Someone – I think Anthony Westell – once likened the PM to his most durable predecessor, Mackenzie King.
King was not bold and crisp and lucid. He was careful. He was rarely forgetful of “the political”; i.e. he was acutely if blandly partisan. King put losing a vote above winning a vote, yet always he was mindful of both.
Through King’s public speech and statements ran a vague skein of humanitarian liberalism. Mulroney fits into such liberalism. He’s not a conservative in ideas despite his King-like, cautious tactics or his recurring odes to private enterprise.
One not quite major but genuine issue relating to the USSR came up. How he handled it reflects this measuring of him as PM. It touches a matter of broad interest – where is Canada to get its people?
Mulroney’s discursive response to a question at his Leningrad press conference about the prospects of Ukrainians emigrating to Canada confirms what has been slowly emerging but is not yet explicit.
Immigration policy is now subsumed to policy on refugees.
Bluntly put, most of our future immigrants will be refugees and the relatives of refugees. The likelihood is overwhelming: most of them will be Asiatic, already the largest component in the intake.
This was Mulroney’s best press performance by far in the USSR, notably for handling slowly and plainly, with hopeful but as yet uncertain opinions, several hard questions on trusting the USSR and about espionage “security”.
His trip, like ones by Diefenbaker and Trudeau before him, included a trip to Kiev, the capital of Ukraine republic (52 million people) and the homeland for a million Canadians of Ukrainian stock. This stock has not been replenished since the early ’50s by more than a hundred or so immigrants yearly.
Mulroney’s avowed reason for the Kiev visit was to announce a consulate would be opened there. (Dief did the same; nothing came of it.) The top ceremony in Kiev honored the memory of the great Ukrainian nationalist writer and painter, Taras Shevshenko. This rite, like the consulate promise, is sure to resonate in the ethnic community back home. It was another scene in the drama of multiculturalism, so cherished by all our parties. It pitches to an almost definable group vote, especially in the Prairies.
I asked the question about prospects for Ukrainian immigration. I know how hard those in Canada have worked to keep in touch and sustain their folk in the homeland. It’s clear for such emigration to happen some particular plans must be drawn and followed. Further, it makes sense to have a balance in immigration in-take which does respect what we trumpet about our “heritages”.
Why are particular initiatives needed? Because Ukrainians in any numbers cannot make it: not as “independent” immigrants (not enough points!); not as entrepreneurial immigrants (no funds!); not as family-linked and sponsored immigrants (too long a time gap); and not as refugees ( perestroika-glasnost has balked this).
In Kiev three local, journalists who speak English confirmed what I’ve known from acquaintances at home. Among Ukrainians there is an exceptional interest in Canada.
One editor told me that an announcement Canada would accept applications for entry visits would draw a queue the first day of over 25,000. The others estimated five million Ukrainians, most of them young people, would emigrate to Canada in the next few years if we would take them and a new USSR law on emigration permits this (as has been promised).
My preface to the question on the Ukrainian immigration prospects as the PM saw them included this widespread interest and the hordes who wanted to come and whose coming in fair numbers would invigorate an ethnocultural community whose members had long proven their vigor, democratic sense, and determination for self-improvement.
The reply began with mild surprise at my figures. None of the people he’d spoken to in Kiev had touched on emigration to Canada. (Of course not; almost all are party people.)
The PM sees the consulate as expediting business enterprises, tourism, and cultural exchange. Immigration somehow seemed an off-beat matter to him. Perhaps he was just taking a diversion from any question growing about “refugees” to Canada from Eastern Europe – understandable in its flux and tender democratic chances.
So Mulroney bridged away to avowals of the profound concern over refugees felt by his government and Canadians. He spoke at relative length about the Vietnamese boat people. They were being forced or about to be forced home from Hong Kong and other places. (Yes. Mrs. Thatcher is tough.) In concert with other nations, Canada would meet this crisis for tens of thousands in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia by streaming as many as possible as refugees.
Away goes a fine chance for balanced intake and steady replishment of the older parts of the “mosaic”.
Immigrants are to be refugees. For Ukraine, and seemingly for elsewhere in Europe, it’s to be charter tourism and business deals. Oh, it reminded me of Mackenzie King.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, November 26, 1989
ID: 12782250
TAG: 198911260171
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C6
COLUMN: In Leningrad
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

MISSION TO MOSCOW A TV EXTRAVAGANZA

How the visit to Russia has rubbed it in: TV is all. It’s given more glitz than Brian and Mikhail to the visit through personalities like the Red Queen of CBC’s The Journal, with her courtiers; trustworthy Lloyd of CTV; the ubiquitous Peter in his trench coat; Budget Doug; even smooth Tom Clark of Baton.
In Ottawa, the anglophone political media outnumber the francos 6-1. On this trip it’s been almost 6-4. Why? All I get back from the Quebecers is very high interest in Gorbachev and Canada’s dealings with him. Even odder, there are more francophones than anglos.
Add a handful of TV reporters, 70-odd sound, light and cameramen, plus tape editors and directors and there’s a mob. Just in equipment I counted over 70 trunks being loaded on the prime minister’s plane, an estimated weight of four tons.
The little gaggle of some 15 wire service and print journalists to serve the English press looks like an afterthought. We are only of a polite account in the schema of wagonmasters and the prime minister’s handlers. Sun columnist Michel Gratton was once such a handler. When he was, he says “All our planning was fixed on TV, never on print.”
Other than getting some fine in-depth stories from Canadian businessmen in Moscow for a half-day juncture with the PM, print folk on this junket have had limited chances for the daily string of “photo op” pools laid on for TV. If we could, we went just to get touches of atmosphere or the prospect Mulroney would be lured by the cameras into a comment, even a scrum.
The domination of TV as the medium in our politics has been with us for a decade. The 1979 federal campaign was the point when TV news handily passed print stories in drawing the concerns of the politicians. Of course, an eclipse in radio’s significance took place in the 1950s. TV coverage of elections was getting to be keen in ’53 and by ’57 it was important but not overriding. Then TV’s edge was not in newscast coverage, which has become the core institution, but the three big-time party telecasts and party commercials.
These remarks are not bitching. For 27 years a third of my income has come from TV so I have to appreciate it. Further, Mulroney isn’t up to anything different than Pierre Trudeau was with television, except for doing perhaps a bit more pre-planning and certainly more worrying about it.
The print media are less and less relevant to most Canadians. The politicians know it. They accept the stereotypes which TV demands in times, delays, and all the complex of feeds and set-ups. For TV no moment can last very long. Scenes and topics must change. Picture is more important than content. A good phrase with a good shot covering 30 seconds is valued more than a long, informative statement or answer.
There’s no going back and it can be said for TV and politics that it has drawn more citizens to form political opinions and has made routine a steady day-by-day continuum of the institution which TV newscasts had become. They are politics’ fundamental institution in Canada.
Television saturation from Canada was excessive last week, obviously drawn by Gorbachev in a Canadian context. As usual the prime minister looked well, moved nicely, had good gestures and apt words at the photo ops. He was less impressive in press conferences reminding us why we do not have them in Ottawa. Of course, Mila has been available for much of the coverage.
Were Canadians well served by the TV extravaganza? There was little hard stuff served up by television except on the business side. Most of what I could see was human interest. The prime minister had his associations for a few hours with the world’s top figure and he was free for another week for the House question period. Canada and the USSR are to try harder at getting along and doing something together.

Abitibi Price is planning a newsprint operation in the USSR. Let me point out one of the big problems it will have.
The latest annual statistics on wood production per worker in the USSR and in Canada in the respective forest industries show a 1:6 ratio. That is, a Canadian worker over a year produces six times as much wood.
Actually, the situation is even worse than that because the Soviets in their production use a lot of rotten wood, simply because the wood producers are paid on a volume basis and the standards of checking quality are low.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, November 24, 1989
ID: 12782038
TAG: 198911240258
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

MINCING WORDS IN MOSCOW

DATELINE: MOSCOW
What’s this Russian odyssey doing for Brian Mulroney? The short answer is very little.
It’s not often I want to shake the prime minister, yet I have at each of his press conferences here. Shake, and demand more than banalities.
My opening question is shallow but the first essay one tries in evaluating politicians is the partisan worth of their actions. The focus is always sharper on leaders, notably on leaders of governments. It’s unlikely, given the swarming TV crews from home, that this exposure is hurting Mulroney. And his esteem with the public is low enough it can hardly be ruined by this road show. He’s not made any stupid goofs. He’s been associated, if for just a day, with the world’s leading figure.
He made two well-knit speeches in Moscow, fairly free of the usual hyperbole. He was clearly much appreciated by most of the business people from home who are in Moscow making or looking for chances and deals.
While the business constituency is somewhat on Mulroney’s side this is not true, putting it mildly, for some of the most vociferous interest groups in Canada. Take the peaceniks, the swarm of environmentalists of the Suzuki sort, or the swatch of native organizations and the feminists. This is ironic because most of the bilateral agreements signed here open opportunities for interchange and programs which fit the goals of such fierce lobbies. Unhappily for Mulroney, et al, there’s nothing so concrete or forcefully set out to satisfy any of them.
For example, the idea Canada is to sponsor an open skies conference next year with the Russians is far from as satisfying as a clear, open statement to the world that Canada was to do its utmost to change NATO from a military lance into one primarily giving economic aid for countries in dire need.
Several times the prime minister has turned to Joe Clark for specifics of the discussions he’s been in and his external affairs minister has told us several times the Gorbachev era will enable Canada to work with the Soviets on “regional issues like Cambodia and South Africa.” Jehoshaphat! Can’t they pause in playing the same old Bishop Tutu cards?
Why not the Baltic states, Ukraine or Czechoslovakia?
Mulroney skates away on such questions by quoting the wisdom of Chairman Gorbachev. The world must go on with reforms and change through present institutions and within present boundaries.
There is so much caution in that. Such timidity shows the prime minister’s scared of getting ahead of the Americans and his “good friend” George Bush. Mulroney and Clark have not even raised the issue of Soviet espionage in Canada in the Gorbachev era. Remember our expulsion of their agents and their counter-expulsions last year?
Why couldn’t Mulroney be bold enough to say Canada will plan to have its military out of Europe in two years?
Why not invite the USSR to lease us for several winters one of their powerful nuclear icebreakers for sizing up what we could do in our Arctic archipelago and the Beaufort Sea for shipping and resource projects?
The most serious shortcomings in the Soviet system are in the warehousing and marketing of goods. Why not offer them a bold barter of crash training programs in transport and expediting goods and services in Canada? Or the use of Canadian managers and technicians? We could trade this for a substantial part for our scientists and technicians in the Soviet space program.
Why not declare on this journey that events in Eastern Europe and in the USSR now require a complete reprise of our immigration and refugee policy with a national debate on the merits of substantial supplements to some major, traditional ethnic communities in Canada – Polish, Ukrainian, Czechoslovakian, Slovenian, Hungarian and Russian?
Such fresh arrivals would revivify the multilcultural ideas which Mulroney, like all our leaders, prates about.
Why would the PM and Clark have private meetings with Jewish dissidents in Moscow yet not set up the same in Kiev with Ukrainian dissidents? It would draw more votes at home than a dozen visits to Shevshenko’s tomb.
My imagination carries me away. Doing so does bring me back to the slowness, and the tentativeness of the Mulroney government’s responses to what the prime minister says is nothing less than “a global revolution of ideas.”
Several times the PM has told Soviet audiences he has an awareness of the troubles which bold, fresh reforms cause a leader — witness his hard times with the free trade agreement, the GST, and his drive to reduce deficits and master the debt load.
Such a comparison is lost on the Russians but not on our media entourage to whom it seems vacuous, given the scale of Gorbachev’s dilemmas, and those of Eastern Europe.
Of course, in all this fudging our leader and his government are not being un-Canadian. And if the Gorbachev revolution is rejected at home and repression and the Cold War return, Mulroney will be able to say he tried to involve Canada wisely, without taking costly diplomatic or economic risks.
If this seems too dour a reading, it comes after what a Mulroney aide has called Ukrainian-Canadian day in Kiev. And each Ukrainian to whom I spoke made two blunt points. First, the Soviet economy is in hopeless disarray; second, the old hands of the Communist party are still in charge.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, November 22, 1989
ID: 12849659
TAG: 198911220225
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

DATELINE: MOSCOW
Brian Mulroney needed a notable occasion here and Mikhail Gorbachev gave it to him with some pithy newsmaking at an unexpected scrum as the pair rose from signing a broad agreement of high-minded intentions.
What the Soviet leader said about Eastern Europe’s belated moves to democratic openness would ripple far and wide.
At a press conference later, Mulroney would reject the idea he had been tardy in getting to meet Gorbachev and denied the latter had chided him for it. At home there’s been a harsh line in the media that Mulroney should have responded many months ago to the sweep of change in the USSR, led or engineered by Gorbachev.
Fair critique or not, Mulroney and Canada have now caught up to the western pack in making firm plans with the Soviets.
The long-holding status quo in the Iron Curtain countries may be broken irrevocably, but the changes are far from over and it’s well to appreciate that affairs may alter for the worse. Some omens to dread are apparent here in Moscow even on superficial examination.
Gorbachev will rival Churchill, Hitler, Stalin and de Gaulle as a mighty personality and force in histories of the 20th century, but he needs at least the rest of it to institute and complete his economic and political reforms. God knows he has the prayers of most of the western world with him.
The evidence is growing that Gorbachev’s popularity at home has largely dissolved. Ironically, it’s the new freedom to express oneself that’s revealing this reaction. One doesn’t have to meet many Muscovites to know the right to speak out is all right, but the opinions expressed are ominous for both economic and political reform. If Moscow is representative, the future is risky – even grim.
To this visitor, living conditions and public amenities are little better than on my first visit here in 1963 and palpably worse than the last trip in 1979. Moscow is shabbier, seedier, and more dour than ever, and while citizens one braces now will talk, even boldly, they seem more joyless than ever.
Neither Gorbachev nor his wife seem to rate any higher in affection and respect here than do the Mulroneys in Canada. Russians have endured for centuries, and ordinarily Gorbachev would have a long run. But he’s no longer a dictator.
A fellow Canadian, here for six months and with a good grasp of the language, tells me “It is an unbelievably screwed-up country with more inefficiencies and widespread sloth than I thought possible. And for all the talk and open excitement about participatory politics, matters are worsening, not least in bitching about the program to reform the economy.”
Oh, if it were only conceivable – and it isn’t yet – to have the U.S. initiate and lead a mighty effort like the Marshall Plan which revived West Germany after the war, with all the NATO nations joining to pour foodstuffs and personal consumer goods into the USSR over the next year.
Also remember the external challenge to the USSR of a unified Germany. The leaders of the Soviet military and the people themselves cannot help being apprehensive. Even though the Germans and the Japanese were the broken losers, the Russians have remembered the war and their enemies. Now the profits of their victory are in jeopardy, at least to those who both remember well and haven’t an immense dedication to the democratic political reforms Gorbachev has opened up.
We in the West revere, even exalt, individual freedom and private economic initiative. The Russians have had nothing of the first and not much of the second.
These are my hesitations about Gorbachev’s future, and they are irrelevant in measuring what our PM and his ministry is into in accelerating close ties and joint ventures with the USSR on a long roster of areas or subjects of agreements. The scope and variety are impressive. What will ensue seems more certain in scientific and academic exchange than it does in the business area which Mulroney is stressing. The reaction of Canadian businessmen is cautious, even dubious, after first bridging talks with Soviet bureaucrats running state companies or programs. The gulf is wide in practices, values and vocabulary.
The PM was visibly excited and rather like a rookie in dealing face-to-face with Gorbachev. He likely made a fine impression on the Russian leader. Just as we get him in his Canadian performances, Mulroney in several scrums and press conferences has not been able to speak spontaneously and lucidly. Gorbachev has the presence to dominate a scene, even when he’s passively waiting for translation. Mulroney cannot rid himself of cliches, reiterations and rather facetious humor.
He’s not embarrassing the huge Canadian media group but despite good material and splendid occasions he has been neither crisp, nor succinct, nor stimulating. His hesitation to speak boldly on defence issues seems over-cautious. It may be he’s sensitive about our very minor contributions to NATO and NORAD.
These grand journeys of leaders at the highest levels are soon forgotten because one trip follows another and TV projects them in surfeit. This bilateral meeting will soon be eclipsed. For domestic consumption, however, the TV coverage here has been intense beyond my previous experience. This may be the short-run best the PM gets out of it: Being seen with the man of the year, one hopes of the century.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, November 20, 1989
ID: 12849389
TAG: 198911200284
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

BOOKS FOR POLITICAL JUNKIES

Is there someone politically-minded on your Christmas list? If so, here are jiffy notes on 10 new books in the field. The ratings from A+ down are like grades of college essays. Each book is judged in its metier – i.e., the Allan Fotheringham book is chatty, not scholarly or serious, whereas Alvin is ultra-serious and Escott Reid’s autobiography more so.
1) THE 1980s: MACLEAN’S CHRONICLES THE DECADE, edited by Kevin Doyle. Almost a coffee table book; big, heavy, far more pictures than text. Photo selection fine; good for broad recalling of Canadian and international affairs, not good as a reference guide or for memorable essays. (C+)
2) OTTAWA INSIDE OUT: POWER, PRESTIGE AND SCANDAL IN THE NATION’S CAPITAL, by Stevie Cameron (Key Porter Books). Despite a slew of errors and silly judgments this brassy try for a scorcher has a good chapter on the consultantcy phenomenon. If one is nostalgic for Pierre Trudeau and holds that his years were an apogee of the best and brightest this is your heart’s desire. Rockcliffe is better drawn than the Hill. (C+)
3) BIRDS OF A FEATHER: THE PRESS AND THE POLITICIANS, by Allan Fotheringham (Key Porter Books). This has more errors than Ottawa Inside Out, but many chunks of humor and imagery. Side sashays to show the author knows Washington and Westminster swamp his theme that familiarity of reporters and politicians is pervasive and bad. Much weighing of lesser journalists. (C)
4) ONE HUNDRED MONKEYS, by Robert Lee (Doubleday). A bouncy, cinematic prance through the 1988 federal election campaign, concluding that justice was done – i.e., the right guys and side deserved to win and did because the losers botched it. The grist is the rather technical, largely cerebral and highly “inside” work of pollsters and spin doctors. Best on the campaign’s shallow substance and the desperate day-to-day scheming for TV hits in both newscasts and commercials. (B+)
5) WAITING FOR DEMOCRACY: A CITIZEN’S JOURNAL, by Rick Salutin (Viking). This is a day-by-day, week-by-week weave through the ’88 campaign by a picaresque writer. He is and was a desperately committed nationalist and anti-free trader who did the text (to Aislin’s cartoons) of the top propaganda item of the “pro-Canada” forces. The book is ultimately numbing with names, places, and opinions, especially of taxi-drivers. It is more an anti-NDP, anti-Broadbent rant than anti-Mulroney, anti-business – but rather pro-Turner. Some mordant wit and much acidulous pulse-taking dot the agonizing travels. In retrospect, Salutin sees his experience as joyful. He divines what could be if more true believers joined in a genuinely socialist, maple leaf movement. (C)
6) PLAYING FOR KEEPS: THE MAKING OF THE PRIME MINISTER, 1988, by Graham Fraser (McClelland & Stewart). A third story of the ’88 campaign and the one which will be durable, almost semi-official. It has narrative consistency, thorough research, and straight analysis without exaggeration or too much opinion. Fraser concludes the ablest leader won. While some readers will get more than they wish, one exquisitely detailed chapter – on the CBC-Peter Mansbridge tale in mid-campaign of a Grit plot to turf Turner – is a superb case history. What a sorry display of over-closeness and too much self-importance in CBC-TV news. (A)
7) CONTINENTAL DIVIDE: THE VALUES AND INSTITUTIONS OF THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA, by Seymour Lipset (C.D. Howe Institute). A frank, simply expressed, lengthy essay by an American academic who has followed our progress for 40 years. One is easily drawn into the game of comparisons and contrasts. Because of our unique history we are more ourselves – our own people – and will so remain than most of us realize. (A)
8) PROVINCIAL AND TERRITORIAL GOVERNMENTS, edited by Gary Levy and Graham White (University of Toronto Press). Fourteen sketches on the various assemblies, the governing ways and political cultures. A most informative, pleasant read. Graham White’s piece on Ontario: A legislature in adolescence is a clear-cut jewel. The pieces on Alberta and Quebec are excellent. (A)
9) ALVIN: A BIOGRAPHY OF THE HONORABLE ALVIN HAMILTON, PC, by Patrick Kyba (Canadian Plains Research Centre, Regina). This highly professorial study limns the career and achievements of the minister behind John Diefenbaker with both the most ideas and drive and what some would say a dangerous bumptiousness. What Kyba hasn’t caught well is Alvin as the flaring idea man who captivated the western MPs. Nor does he detail the twice pivotal role in Mulroney’s career, first in placing him at the party core as a youth, then in helping skid Joe Clark from the Tory leadership. (C+)
10) RADICAL MANDARIN: THE MEMOIRS OF ESCOTT REID (University of Toronto Press). The well-born, highly educated Reid, now 84, trudges through his life (and his blood-lines). The book is replete with excerpts from speeches and reports. Some promoters of Ottawa’s Golden Age mandarinate have Reid as the key projector and central activist at the birth of the UN and NATO. He confirms them. (B-)
(An A+ book, John English’s first volume on Lester Pearson’s life, Shadow of Heaven, is quicker and racier on both the UN and NATO.)

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, November 19, 1989
ID: 12849232
TAG: 198911190166
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C6
COLUMN: In Ottawa
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

POLITICIANS FEW WILL PITY

It is hard to deny there is pathos in the scenarios which have enmeshed two former Trudeau ministers, Hazen Argue and John Munro. Pathos, that is, as an evocation of pity or sadness over a man’s grim situation.
Argue is charged with ripping off the Senate for a few thousand dollars, mostly in goods and services, in order to help a failed try by his wife for a Liberal nomination in a suburban Ottawa riding.
Munro is suing the government for some $600,000 in damages for what he charges is undue, unfair harassment of him by the RCMP in pursuit of allegations that federal money allocated to native Indian tribes and bands while he was a minister found its way into his bid for the Liberal leadership in 1984.
In the world of federal, partisan politics is there much reaction beyond pathos and attendant sympathy for either or both ex-ministers?
Regrettably there is not, particularly so in Munro’s case because he has been an achieving politician.
Argue’s been a pariah since he bolted the NDP for the Liberals in 1962, almost more so with the Liberals than with New Democrats. This was largely because the man who lured Argue into defection and gained the most politically from it, the late Ross Thatcher of Saskatchewan, was more detested by federal Liberals than any other provincial leader of the party and because he intimated that Argue had been bought.
Argue’s ostracism by all parties was immediate but so severe in his new caucus and party that he so won the sympathy of Lester Pearson he was given the senatorial sinecure in 1966. There he’s had 23 years with all the pay and perks but not with much more than sufferance. He has never been taken into “the club.”
Now Argue’s been brought lower than any senator ever in facing such charges. And the impetus came from his Liberal colleagues who control the Senate, not from Mulroney’s men.
What a grand irony that an institution never without high-level mountebanks, bagmen, toll-gaters, and grafters, at last has a member in the criminal courts for something analagous to fiddling with an office’s petty cash. Somehow, in pettiness, it’s like the charging of Global TV’s Doug Small for possessing a stolen paper.
Even though Argue lied to me and betrayed me in his switch 27 years ago (I had been his nominator for the NDP leadership) it’s hard to see him come to this. Even acquittal won’t help him much.
The Munro case is more tragic than Argue’s in the sense that Munro really did a lot of things as a politician, many of them arguably good. For years he was a capable, industrious minister who inspired and got through much fine legislation in three ministries – health, labor, and Indian and northern affairs.
His personal and professional lives have been shambling for a long time, not a little because he put far too much into politics. And he never developed that safety net which comes from spreading out as a politician into wide, persistent association with party friends and colleagues.

The gossip musings of the Ottawa week were about two real estate deals. Jeanne Sauve’s bought a house in old Montreal for some $1.7 million and is having it much altered. John Turner’s bought one in Forest Hill, for $1.3 million or so, with mortgage payments of $15,000 a month.
Some of those gasping at the figures may overlook the state of the respective spouses.
After Maurice Sauve lost his seat in the House he entered the pulp and paper industry at a high level and was reputed a few years ago to have earned a massive finder’s fee in connection with a corporate takeover in Quebec.
Geills Turner’s late father was one of the most well-to-do of Manitobans, and whether or not this made her a legatee of considerable worth the family circumstances must have had something to do with her very high expectations and standards for comfortable living.
If nothing of her worth goes into the new Toronto home, the Hill calculation, based on the hefty mortgage payments, is that Turner will depart politics with either a high, private endowment from the Liberal party or has engaged with some law firm or corporation at a salary of at least $400,000.
The pervasive curiosity about transactions such as these is a reminder that entering into public life really means that anything once thought private is not. Would you really want to be a politician?

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, November 17, 1989
ID: 12849042
TAG: 198911170243
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

OUR WICKED, WICKED WAYS

It’s time to talk plainly on a penchant of immigration lawyers to tag anyone favoring firm refugee and immigration policies and practices as a “racist.”
Dictionaries say a racist is a person who believes in, supports, or practises the belief that one particular race, particularly his own, is superior to others.
Clear enough? No? You want to know what “race” means. All right, in this use of race it means: One of the major divisions of mankind, each race having distinctive characteristics and a common ancestry – e.g., the white race, the yellow race, the black race.
Does this seem too general, too broad a description of “race” for you?
If so, maybe that’s because you know “white” people like Jews or Armenians who suffered or are suffering discrimination from other whites, even in Canada. You’ve heard such nasty bias labelled as racist, and so you think racism and racist as terms are not as simple as white, black, brown and yellow.
You’re right. It shows how the meanings of words shift with usage. A residue meaning carries on.
Race was color; race is color. However, it has also blurred or, perhaps, become layered in meaning so that it also has come to include ethnicity, in particular to ethnic discrimination of various sorts. Thus it is common usage that someone who refers slightingly to Indians or Poles, Italians or Jews, is a racist.
Ethnic racism has become literally unfashionable here in recent years as a warning. To denounce it is to appeal to higher ethics. The impetus for it was governmental, i.e., in the popularizing and legislating of multicultural policy. At its core is total belief in equality, not really of individuals, but of ethnic groups. Each ethnicity is worthwhile. Every heritage and practice of any ethnic group (in its Canadian manifestation) whether language, religion, customs or dress is of equal worth to any other.
Of course this equality covers whatever ethnicity “Canadian” signified. In short, what the Bi & Bi commission two decades ago described as “charter groups” or “founding peoples” has given way to a global view of ethnicities which takes each and all as of equal merit.
This magnificent idealism has sown a thick mine field for those who have prejudices on ethnic differences or who are foolish enough to jest about them.
When officially sanctioned idealism is applied by the liberally minded to immigration and refugees it means every ethnic group in the world has the same entitlement to entry as immigrants or as refugees fleeing oppression and want. Because far more immigrants and refugees seek entry from Third World countries of Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America they must have priorities over those from Canada’s old sources of newcomers. Anyone who dares question this bent is a “racist.” If you wonder openly about the worth of regulations and policy which let some 13,000 Trinidadians enter Canada in a year claiming asylum you are a racist.
And the worst racists are those who argue that in the interests of continuity, democratic values and participation, lower costs and sounder education and job training we should try through publicity and rules to keep substantial immigration coming from Britain and both Western and Eastern Europe. If one goes further and argues concern about our capability for fair, adequate absorption (particularly in our three largest cities) you are beneath contempt.
One is also wicked who argues that the tens of thousands who are coming each year should be asked to acquire some knowledge of Canadian history, at least one of our langauges, and some appreciation that being Canadian has meant something in the creation of a fairly well-governed but complex and regionally diverse society over great distances. What we have was not built by the United Nations Charter.
Four examples of racism and racists in Canada are always in use to foster our guilt and back demands we be more more generous, understanding and ready to ease rules and let in more refugees and immigrants from the very poor countries. Three of the examples see race as color, one as ethno-cultural.
Our perennial example is “white” mistreatment of “red” (the aboriginal peoples). Does a day go by without a news reminder of our collective callousness?
Next are the racist, color-sparked demands in B.C. in 1942 which made the federal government force some 25,000 Japanese and Japanese Canadians from homes. (Retribution has become official, costed at some $300-million plus; payments are now underway from the federal treasury.)
Much more recent are the mounting charges of racism against police, educators and welfare officials by blacks in Toronto and Montreal.
Of course, the exemplar in non-color racism in Canada is the mean discrimination against Jews who fled Germany and sought entry into Canada in the 1930s and were rebuffed.
What has sparked this personal recap on racism? A new book by Winnipeg lawyer David Matas. He specializes in immigration and refugee cases. Almost everyone and every country is racist, as Matas tells it in Closing the Doors: The Failure of Refugee Protection (Summerhill Press).
How noble, pure, argumentative, foolish and reckless he is – as I shall detail shortly.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, November 15, 1989
ID: 12848682
TAG: 198911150213
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THE PEARSON PARADOX

One of the greats? A bust as prime minister? But globally the top Canadian?
I drifted toward such questions while reading the first volume of the biography of Lester (Mike) Pearson, Shadow of Heaven, published by Lester & Orpen Dennys.
My reaction would have made sense to our one-time prime minister (1963-1968). Of course, he would have grimaced at it with his typical fuss of modesty.
Only a few of the odd chats I had with the late Liberal leader (all on Parliament Hill) were not about baseball and hockey. Our rambling sports gossip diddled about the usual stuff such as placing in baseball’s pantheon the pitchers, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson, and in hockey the forwards, Cyclone Taylor, Howie Morenz and Rocket Richard. For one big game Mike liked Mathewson, for the long haul, Johnson. As I recall, Taylor was his model sportsman but Gordie Howe was coming on.
Pearson’s interest in big-time sport was wider and deeper than intellectualizing. Some all-round athletes become life-long fans. After this book I better realize the consistent involvement of Pearson as a very talented player in baseball, hockey and football from adolescence to his mid-20s when he got into coaching. Nor did I know Pearson had chosen joining our budding foreign service over becoming athletic director and football coach of the University of Toronto.
It may seem insignificant that Pearson seemed to have read every book on baseball I knew about and that he was always thoroughly analyzing the skills and mentalities of players, coaches and managers. It has relevance, I think, to the search for the real Pearson which winds through this story of his first 50 years – unto his entry in 1948 into electoral politics as MP for Algoma and minister for external affairs.
Pearson was a jock, far more than he was a scholar. Pearson was a seemingly amiable, self-deprecating, good fellow. Pearson seemed too gregarious, approachable and chatty to be ambitious, brainy or Machiavellian. Yet his careers unfolded in: (a) A mandarinate rich in talent and push; (b) a cabinet well-endowed with able, pushy ministers like C.D. Howe, Jimmy Gardiner and Paul Martin; (c) as Opposition leader facing the Chief; and (d) as a prime minister who both legislated much and survived more scandals, relatively, than Brian Mulroney.
Biographer John English cannot end the mystery of the real Pearson beyond showing that no one, not even his wife and family, seemed sure about the quintessential man. We seem to see a master dissembler whose steely ambition and wiliness was masked by an easy manner and an evident candor.
At this volume’s close English is still assaying the Pearson paradox. He admits he may not succeed. He explores the religious factors more than the sporting ones. He shows the contradictions. Bonhomie and charm ally with ruthlessness. Aims rise ever higher. People are read, captivated, and used. In a sporting analogy, Pearson was a cross between Sam Pollock and Connie Mack.
Now that English has portrayed the glory years which explain the Nobel prize and a real role in shaping the world’s postwar institutions, he will get on to the more furious, still debatable years that closed with a successor as PM whom Pearson wanted but who at once jettisoned his dual legacies of co-operative federalism and international leadership.
Turning back to sports, Pearson was a quite superior athlete who loved and played well in his prime at a very competitive level in four tough team games – hockey, lacrosse, baseball and football. He didn’t renounce this world and its appraisals and contests as he headed into diplomacy and then into politics.
While he took with him a sense of fair play which made him choke on much of John Diefenbaker, he was as tough-minded as Dief or Howe and much more astute at fitting into, shaping and keeping a political team together. He’d take a messy victory over a noble loss. And he left a good team behind.
You can take it that I have enjoyed Shadow of Heaven (its allusion goes to the Methodism and the manses of Pearson’s father and grandfather). In particular I appreciate how English doesn’t duck sorrier and possibly derogatory episodes in Pearson’s life such as his unusual military service in World War I or how he came to be seen as at least pro-USSR, if not an agent, in the eyes of the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover.
To this day some among us clamor for documents on Pearson’s relations with Herbert Norman, the diplomat who killed himself when a U.S. committee alleged he was a communist. English details why doubts arose about Pearson’s loyalties and how unfounded they seem. There will be more on this subject in the next book.
It’s ironic rather than funny that both Dief and Mike were the right age for World War I; each sought and got a commission and went overseas; neither man reached the front; both were invalided home to safety, the Chief with a bad back aggravated by hemorrhoids, Pearson with neurasthenia (what one might call “the shakes”) after illness and being (literally) hit by a London bus. Each was embarrassed and never clear later on these sad denouements.
After discharge the Chief tried hard to return to Europe, failed, and fixed on law and politics. Pearson stayed in the services until 1919, resuming sports and university, then trying law, business, and the academe before finding the niche in diplomacy which led to fame.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, November 13, 1989
ID: 12848406
TAG: 198911130237
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

POLITICS SIMPLIFIED

One knows from past survey data that only a sliver of the population, say 100,000, watched and listened to the seven hours of the first ministers’ conference as televised by the CBC last Thursday.
In contrast, perhaps 15 million Canadians got the highlights, the apparent gist of the day, from TV news, notably “the riveting 15-minute encounter” (as Peter Mansbridge kept describing it) between Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Newfoundland Premier Clyde Wells over the Meech Lake accord.
The wide gap between the sum of argument and information in some 13 presentations by the PM, premiers, and two territorial leaders and “the gist” decided upon for TV news and analysis represents how television has to trivialize and distort happenings because of time and production constraints.
It’s not that print, say as in a daily paper, is a total contrast in coverage of a major event to television’s, particularly in the fastening on the most dramatic among the activities.
As example, the Ottawa Citizen on Friday had four pieces which focused on the Mulroney-Wells exchange. The two by columnists took exactly contrary lines. To one, Wells had been stupid; to the other, Mulroney was stupid as ever and outmatched. A Citizen editorial gave a reasoned appreciation of the essentials in the discord over Meech which was more rather than less critical of Wells. And several “news” stories in the paper both synopsized the argument between the two men and presented comment by others which measured both the incident and the seeming duelists.
The paper, unlike TV, gave much more of the scope and diversity of the happening and its ranging opinions. Of course there was the obvious difference: A reader could pick his own priorities and set what he did read beside his own views and feelings for reflection.
The other dailies to hand for Friday show much of the same range as the Citizen, including similar stories about: (a) the PM’s comparison of deficit and debt burdens of the federal and the provincial governments; (b) his pitch for a national educational strategy and the favoring responses; (c) his case for the GST and the various lines, all critical of the tax, taken by the premiers; (d) the listing and explanation of specific provincial concerns, such as Newfoundland’s about cod, Nova Scotia’s about interest rates, and P.E.I.’s about abrupt, federal closure of defence bases.
In truth, for those of us who had the time and interest to follow the day’s talk there was a lot of well-put views and more excellent to good presentations than poor ones. For example, on TV’s stress for the day – Meech – the two other dissident premiers, Frank McKenna and Gary Filmon, made more coherent sense to me than Wells.
Further, viewers through the whole, long lot heard good sense and plain argument from the two premiers of the provinces classed as “A” and “B” by Wells. I could not help but think how Rene Levesque would have reacted to the sermon on Canada from Wells, and how David Peterson recalled John Robarts as a knitter of the nation. The two trailers as presenters, Tony Penikett of the Yukon and Dennis Patterson of the Northwest Territories were fresh. For young people in particular they could fill in the further dimensions of our land in their sketches of hope and difficulty.
While never universally or long beloved, our elected politicians have rarely evoked such critical and denigrating opinions from citizens generally as in recent years. In particular, harsh and repetitive attacks or belittling is a constant from those who speak for the hundreds of interest groups and associations we have which give and make opinions in the public forum.
We are an intensely political, intensely critical people. We have been most innovative in using government. We are extremely resourceful in lobbying and propagandizing. We focus more and more on forcing or stopping governmental actions. Although we’ve always been more rather than less political, say than the Americans (check the voting percentages!), the country has taken to television and public affairs news and commentary more than any other I know about.
TV has simplified our politics and made it both for more melodrama and nastier confrontations with and between our leaders. Their lives are fierce and dangerous. Political longevity has shortened. Reputations are more narrow, shallow, and brief.
And there can be no going back. Nor is this essay meant as a specific criticism of CBC-TV’s presentation of the conference. In commentary it ranged from good to obvious to jejune. Peter Mansbridge is not offensive and, in particular in Don Newman and Anna Maria Tremonti, the CBC Hill bureau has informed, serious reporters. Also, the leaders themselves fix on and practice for television people far more than for the rest of us in the other media.
The caution here is twofold. Firstly, television news and commentary cannot give the all of anything major and important in politics; it has to select, simplify, and overplay. Secondly, a good lot of capable, responsible politicians were at the table, from the chairman through the premiers of the A, B, and C provinces to those who lead in part the vast, slightly-peopled territories.
Put another way, I read the politicians at the big table as well representative and as able as most of us. From Mulroney to Bourassa to Wells to the new participants at the table.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, November 12, 1989
ID: 12848264
TAG: 198911120200
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C3
COLUMN: In Ottawa
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

WHO’S AFRAID OF A UNITED GERMANY?

It may surprise Canadians sharing the euphoria in the western world over the breach in the Berlin Wall and East Germany’s release from communism’s thrall that any among them are worried, even to praying their apprehensions will prove wrong.
I am one who is edgy for several reasons, the prime of which goes back to soldiering in the armies which battled into Germany in 1945.
It’s hard to wipe from memory all conclusions from war experience. You spent months in which “the front” or “the line” was something real and enormously significant, particularly if you were on or near it within shell-fire. The Germans as enemy were intensely real however much of this was conjured in the imagination.
I am not referring to hatred or loathing or contempt. Oddly, the immediacy of surviving or dying or being wounded builds an immense, respectful awareness of the capabilities of those who are trying to kill you.
We knew then (and many of us cannot forget it) that the Germans were superb soldiers by any definition and in every aspect: Well led, with good morale, intelligent, skilled with weapons and in tactical use of terrain, as brave as need be and imbued with an exceptional national spirit and brotherhood-in-arms.
To my mind, and I think to many comrades who worked variously with British, American, Polish, French and Czech regiments, whatever their various elans and unique qualities, the Germans, putting it bluntly, were the best.
Since 1945 I have returned to Western Europe many times, including tours of West Germany, Berlin, and along the route of the Wall. The recovery of both Germanies would seem amazing, a resilience beyond belief to many who saw the bomb-ravaged cities and the ruined rail, road and water routes of 1945.
One also recalls that with the smashed landscape and terrible human dislocation of Germany went the agonies of defeat for a proud people and the awful revelations of crimes against humanity, especially against Jews.
Of course, the recovery to a condition where West Germany is economically the strongest country in Europe is not so amazing to those of us who saw and literally felt the German strengths in combat. Smashed to total defeat by a huge array of Allies in two devastating wars which killed off millions of their young people, the Germans have twice come surging back.
Yes, it does appear that the methods, the values, the style and the worth of parliamentary, multi-party democracy has taken hold in West Germany and has also deeply infected many East Germans. Yet the prospect of a united Germany is now inevitable if the USSR does not balk at such a natural completion of the great German recovery.
A unified Germany scares me. Almost as serious among my fears is what Russian apprehension may lead to. Anyone who has visited the USSR knows how vividly the Russians remember the German enemy and their own suffering and struggle in their teaching and memorials. Relatively, we’ve forgotten it.
No genuine democrat could be mean enough to condemn a national group to perpetual division or to be held down by fear about their deeds together.
No sensible person can relish forever a global “balance of power” symbolized by the nuclear might of NATO and the Warsaw Pact. Just like the settlement of the Congress of Vienna which reset the lines of Europe after Napoleon, the unexpected and very edgy poising of East and West which jelled hard between 1945 and 1950 had to end, either gradually or swiftly.
It is to be swift.
So this is not a prayer the world and Europe returns to the stiff frame it was in before Mikhail Gorbachev became leader of the USSR. It is a plea to watch the Germans closely. Canada as a NATO power should not be in a rush to dismantle it. Canada should also appreciate the Russians will need assurances from the western alliance. Collectively the Germans are so able and industrious we must be careful.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, November 10, 1989
ID: 12848036
TAG: 198911100251
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

CONSTITUTIONAL WISDOM

How serious? What to do? How tight is our constitutional box? How to get out of it?
When our affairs seem to be sliding towards a disaster like the break-up of the nation we do look for wisdom. This column gives some advice from the one among us who has worked the longest on constitutional affairs – R. Gordon Robertson. Thirty-nine of his 72 years were as a federal mandarin, 13 as Clerk of the Privy Council, five as secretary for federal-provincial relations.
This quarter, and probably for the next five or six, we have confusion in the whole community about basic set-up of the country and its governmental parts. Since the mid-1960s we have had several similar crises over the Constitution. Both such familiarity and our self-honored penchant for compromise makes me counsel “cooling it.” Surely the crisis will fade and Canada will go on. Certainly snivelling, but on.
While Gordon Robertson never oozes doom and gloom he has often been more frank about improving our Constitution than our elected leaders. I recall that when Pierre Trudeau as prime minister was intent on ramming through his constitutional aims without broad provincial backing, Robertson said it was wrong. And a crucial opinion by the Supreme Court confirmed his view.
Robertson has had a booklet published (by the Institute for Research In Public Policy) titled A House Divided: Meech Lake, Senate Reform, and the Canadian Union. It is easier to read and understand than most of the books and reports about Meech and our Quebec and western dilemmas. Here are parts of the wisdom.
On the seriousness of Quebec’s concern and demands:
“(Rene) Levesque, as premier, walked out of the 1981 constitutional conference when the final agreement was one among the federal government and the other nine provinces: The government of Quebec was not a part to its conclusions. All parties in the Legislature of Quebec later voted to condemn the agreement without Quebec. The position that Quebec would not consent to the Constitution was made clear, despite its legally binding character for the province. In April, 1982, Canada had a changed Constitution but not one that French-speaking Quebec saw as the `renewal’ they thought they had been promised . . .
“In May, 1986, (Robert) Bourassa’s Liberal government produced five points that constituted the things it thought essential for constitutional reform. The five were a program of change much more modest that had been advanced by any government of Quebec in the long and depressing history of constitutional discussion from 1968 to 1981.
“The Quebec proposals became the basis of the Meech Lake accord of April, 1987 . . . If Meech Lake is not approved, Mr. Bourassa’s government will almost certainly not agree to change the accord to meet the criticisms that have been levelled against it. It represents that government’s minimum position, and the government has been much attacked in Quebec for setting the minimum too low. It would be politically fatal to touch the `distinct society clause’ or to try to trim any of the five points of 1986.
“The only alternative government of Quebec in the foreseeable future would be one formed by the Parti Quebecois. Its minimum for any agreement would probably be some form of separation from Canada. And with no agreement, no government of Quebec would participate in any ways in any constitutional change. Senate reform would become impossible. However difficult Senate reform may become with Meech Lake in effect, there is at least the possibility of change. Without it, it is doubtful if the possibility exists at all for many years to come.”
On western wants:
“It is too easy for federal governments, even friendly ones, to prefer `the East’ with 174 House of Common seats over the West with 86. The main focus of western interests in constitutional change has become a Senate with a new regional balance – a `triple E Senate,’ elected, effective and equal in representation from every province.”
On satisfying the West:
“So far as western hopes for Senate reform are concerned, Meech Lake has become a morass – whether it is approved or not. Senate reform was not part of Quebec’s `five points’ of May, 1986. That province, like Ontario, has never evinced much interest in the question . . .
“One thing that might improve the prospects for the Meech Lake accord in the West generally, and in Manitoba where the immediate problem is, would be if the government – and the people – of Quebec recognize that the West too is dissatisfied with the way Confederation and our Constitution have worked thus far . . .
“What is needed now is for the government of Quebec to show greater understanding of political realities in those provinces and of the existence of problems in the rest of Canada, and in the West especially.
“ . . . A sense that Quebec has sympathy with the frustrations and problems of the West could lead to more understanding of and sympathy for the concerns of Quebec. A convincing start on the process of Senate reform might alter the climate that now prevents a government or legislature in Manitoba from approving the Meech Accord. It could also make a significant difference in the other two points of danger – New Brunswick and Newfoundland.”
Amen!

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, November 08, 1989
ID: 12847627
TAG: 198911080220
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

GRIT PREMIERS BIDE THEIR TIME

David Peterson is 45 and wealthy. He has been premier of Ontario for four years, a party leader for seven years, and a member of the Legislature for 14 years.
His government has a dandy majority and in the normal course he would not be going to the people again before the fall of 1992, perhaps the spring of 1993. His public stock in the province is quite sound if one takes recent polling seriously.
Frank McKenna is 41 and not wealthy. He has been premier of New Brunswick for almost two years, his party’s leader for five years, and a member of the Legislature for seven years. His government is without a formal legislative opposition and given past patterns in N.B. would not be up for re-election until 1991.
Why this rundown of the obvious about the two premiers?
One needs to take another appraisal of the two this week while they are on a national stage at the first ministers’ conference. A race for the federal Liberal leadership is under way. The major prospects we know about are not formally in the field but should be by early January. The certainties are Jean Chretien (big betting favorite) and Paul Martin Jr., well back as the seeming second choice. The others fairly sure but not certain entrants we know about are two experienced MPs, Lloyd Axworthy and Sheila Copps, and a former Quebec cabinet minister, Clifford Lincoln.
Thus the slate is likely to have five candidates who would be sure to pull at least 100 votes or more at the convention. One nuisance entrant is in the race, Metro MP Tom Wappel, best known as a pro-lifer. It is also clear that two other Toronto MPs of considerable drive and organizing capacities are thinking about running. At this stage one would hazard that either Dennis Mills or John Nunziata would do as well on the first ballot as Lincoln, even Axworthy.
Consider this list which I arrange in order of the likely finish on the first ballot – Chretien, Martin, Copps, Axworthy, Mills, Lincoln, Nunziata and Wappel.
It’s not a bad cast. There have been worse. And it’s always well to remember that a few entrants are really staking out future cabinet posts or enhancing another bid down the road a few years.
Chretien is notoriously popular west of the Ottawa River, has 27 years in the federal scene and a high profile for 20 of them. He’s backed by much of the old Grit cadre, swivelling for so long around Sen. Keith Davey and Jim Coutts.
Martin is earnest, diligent, marvellously organized, heavily funded, and well known within the party, even through contrast with Paul Martin Sr.
Copps is the loudest declamatory politician in the country. She plays well (and may symbolize) the feminist vote. Audrey McLaughlin as the NDP leader may help Copps.
Axworthy is even more earnest than Martin, and he thinks, sleeps and speaks policies which are clearly to the left of centre. He also is a proven bestower of federal largesse in the West.
Mills has flair, gall, money, a talent for gearing publicity and he might get a boost from the publicly expressed line by Pierre Trudeau on the constitutional situation. This is far from the line taken by either Chretien or Martin.
Lincoln is somewhat the sleeper candidate as a reflective, mature outsider who could somehow interpret Quebec to the rest of Canada and vice-versa.
Nunziata is aggressive and sharp in manner and argument though narrow in the realm of ideas. He has been developing a theme on ethnicity which could be very popular in the party.
Wappel is somewhat a nuisance who could be useful to one or two of the others simply by extending the balloting.
Surely eight candidates is more than enough to offer Liberals a fair choice and give the rest of us as voyeurs much to think about.
A response to the foregoing assertion has to be affirmative . . . but one keeps encountering a vaguely critical attitude to these choices among Liberals. There seems to be muted discontent, a still repressed urge for more excitement and anticipation regarding the candidates, blended (naturally!) with wanting some sure indicators of quality and freshness for the national scene.
One encounters this longing at its crudest in relation to the favorites: Chretien as shopworn; Martin as dull.
And this brings me to our premiers: Peterson and McKenna.
In passing, no one I’ve heard or read has mentioned the other Grit premiers – Robert Bourassa, Claude Wells and Joe Ghiz – as federal leadership prospects (nor Meech Lake’s undertaker, Sharon Carstairs, the Manitoba party leader).
There isn’t, and there hardly can be, an emergence of a “draft McKenna” or a “draft Peterson” campaign and yet I sense a wistfulness about one or the other as a likely prime minister: McKenna simply for his nice blend of freshness, modesty, carefulness, idealism, and dignity; Peterson for his easy confidence, powerful base, and the indications he could run well in the two provinces with almost two-thirds of the seats.
If any dozen or so MPs in the Liberals’ Hill caucus grouped together and announced they were seeking McKenna or Peterson for the leadership there would be a new second favorite up by Chretien in jig time, if one or the other premier said he was listening.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, November 06, 1989
ID: 12847367
TAG: 198911060221
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

MORE BLOTS ON BRIAN’S RECORD

Outrage within his caucus, notably from western MPs, has forced the prime minister to let a close friend twist in the wind.
Brian Mulroney was in real danger of losing one or two cabinet ministers, who were seething over Sen. Michel Cogger’s dealings with operations under their aegis.
Inherent in this latest blot on the Mulroney record is more than cronyism – i.e., that the apparent culprit, Sen. Cogger, has been a pal of the PM for almost 30 years.
Despite an array of clear evidence over many decades on senatorial practices in both lobbying and “toll-gating,” neither a body of Parliament nor an inquiry sponsored by the government has openly examined in any depth the roles or acts of senators in advancing or protecting particular corporate or other associations of interests. This includes raising money for the Liberal and Progressive Conservative parties.
The best reasons among practical politicians for a Senate made up of appointees by the prime minister have little to do with the arguments back at Confederation time about “sober second thought” and “representing regional interests.”
The Senate gives Mulroney, as it gave his predecessors, a sweet award to those who: (a) have worked hard for him or his party; (b) must be gotten out of the way tidily and without rancor – say from the cabinet or a provincial leadership or to open a House seat and; (c) have skills as fund-raisers and party organizers and need a senatorial base (pay and facilities!) to sustain their work.
Any Senate critic must stress that even though Pierre Trudeau was much less a man for cronies than Brian Mulroney, proportionately he made as many or more Senate appointments which fitted the categories a, b, and c, given above. Further, relatively as many or more Liberal senators have taken directorships, even executive jobs, in corporations (e.g. Michael Pitfield, a VP of Power Corp.) or belonged to and worked within law firms.
Trudeau’s first appointment (1968) and his last (1984) were typical. The first was really unsavory – Bobbie Giguere (the Sky Shops affair). The last was a tired minister, Romeo Leblanc, whose entrance and elevation in electoral politics came through close service as press secretary to Trudeau. In short, more than a modicum of senators, back to Confederation, have done, or are doing, the same kind of work as Sen. Cogger seems to have been doing.
Call it lobbying or toll-gating or party fund-raising and organizing, or representing an industry or a profession or just collaring some pin money, those are things which senators do – not all of them but most of them – and will keep doing until the Senate is abolished or drastically reformed. They neither get turfed out by electorates or by party leaders.
Being a senator has never been seen by politicians as a full-time job, although a few senators make it so. Clauses in the Senate and House of Commons Act establish the wrongfulness of receiving moneys or other rewards, directly or indirectly, from departments and agencies of the federal government. Such restrictions have never been seriously observed among senators.
Let me illustrate the ethical fog with a few examples. These do not seem sordid like Cogger’s affairs, yet some of the same elements of continued association are in them.
Has any corporation in our history had more associations with the federal government than the CPR? In every year for 125 years federal money has flowed to the CPR in grants, payments, or subsidies.
From 1983 to his retirement (at 75!) last year, Ian Sinclair was a senator. He was and is a well-remunerated pensioner of the CPR as befits a long-term, top executive. He was a substantial shareholder in the CPR as a senator. Almost certainly he helped find money for the Liberal party when a senator. It is more than merely conceivable that Sen. Sinclair made representations within the federal operations which related to or were informed by his railway interests.
Take a much younger Trudeau senator, Michael Kirby, 49, still a Liberal apparatchik, once a close aide to Trudeau in his PMO. While serving in the Senate and active in party affairs, Kirby has also earned considerable pin money as an interpreter of the political scene for the media. He is seen by networks and publishers as having inside knowledge of (at first) the government and (since Mulroney’s win) of the Liberal party. This continuing intelligence is for sale and is bought. In short, Kirby as a senator (like Michel Cogger) is reaping a payday for what he knows or for the access he is seen to have.
Nothing in the tradition of senatorial lobbying, directorships, or other money-raising and pocketing by Liberal appointees excuses the insensitivity and the greed which some of Brian Mulroney’s close friends showed once he gave them posts. And others, apparently with his tolerance, have got into big money by interlocuting with federal departments and agencies for clients, using consulting firms they have created or joined to exploit the top-level connection.
Aside from sleaziness it’s stupid politics.
Pals like Cogger and Frank Moores are Brian Mulroney’s worst enemies. It’s past time for the honest men and women in his caucus to ask him to cast them out.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, November 05, 1989
ID: 12847172
TAG: 198911050148
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C2
COLUMN: In Ottawa
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

SMART MONEY IS ON AUDREY

Audrey McLaughlin looks more and more like a sure thing in the NDP leadership race. A few of the declarations in her favor made last week are significant, particularly from two people who represent key interests and attitudes among New Democrats: Janet Solberg (president of the Ontario NDP) and Saskatchewan MP Vic Althouse.
Solberg is of the NDP royal family. She’s a Lewis, daughter of David, sister of Stephen and Michael. If Solberg is for McLaughlin so are all the Lewis clan and cadre, including the NDP’s quasi-official interpreter for the media, Gerry Caplan.
From M.J. Coldwell through Tommy Douglas, David Lewis and Ed Broadbent, each leader of the CCF-NDP has been backed by the Lewis family. It would seem only a monumental personal gaffe could keep McLaughlin from succeeding Broadbent.
Vic Althouse has nothing like the imprimatur or cachet which comes from Lewis sponsorship, but he is the most respected of all the MPs in the present caucus by the other MPs, simply for being thoughtful, canny, and informed. His backing for Mclaughlin gives her a credibility where she will need it most after she wins – in the caucus.
Meantime, the Althouse approval will have a good effect in turning rural Saskatchewan delegates towards her, especially in the second ballot.
A last point to note about the NDP race is the masterful job of destroying Dave Barrett’s reputation and credibility in the party by so many women members of the NDP. Rosemary Brown’s sketch of Barrett as at best indifferent to women and their issues has been followed by other damning opinions from women backing Mclaughlin. Barrett, limned as anti-women, anti-Quebec, anti-French, has lost his chance.

What are the chances for the abortion bill getting through the House and then through the Senate?
I would guess the odds are about 3-2 in favor. As a caution, however, several PC MPs who will vote for the bill because of positions they hold as parliamentary secretaries have told me they think the bill will be defeated by a narrow margin.

While Keith Spicer, as new head of the CRTC, and Gerard Veilleux, as president of the CBC, were impressive in winning the approval of their appointments by the House committee on communications last Thursday, the triumph of the day was Patrick Watson, the new, part-time chairman of the CBC board of directors.
From the moment he sat down, to the wrap-up of his show, Watson was in full command – but nicely, charmingly, hammingly so. Simply put, this was as good a performance in a House committee hearing as I have witnessed over many years of observation. As a veteran viewer, I almost choked over some of Watson’s dramatics and hyperbole, but such boggling is irrelevant. If success is mesmerizing elected politicians, some of whom have to be critical and partisan, Watson triumphed.
What did he say? In short, that he loves the challenge, he’s fit for the task, and that he can it do it well.

There’s a typical “inside Ottawa” irony in the new book by Stevie Cameron (Ottawa Inside Out) in relation to what is her major theme, a lament for the Trudeau era, a true golden age in governance and style.
The great era has been superceded because power was attained by a boorish gang of bumpkins without appreciation of stylish, cerebral, and highly moral mandarinate created and left by Pierre Trudeau.
Cameron lists some 30 examples of scandalous and illegal behavior by Tory ministers or cronies of the PM. While the list is a handy reference guide and reminder, there’s not much new in it.
Cameron concludes the list with an authority which may come from her husband, a senior federal bureaucrat until 1985. It highlights how uncorruptible is the Ottawa mandarinate.
“During this entire period (1985-89) not one deputy minister or associate deputy minister or assistant deputy minister or director general or any senior public servant in any capacity got into trouble with the police over misuse of public funds. But these are the people who had to process the contracts and leases for their political masters. Is it any wonder Ottawa voted out its Tories (in l988)?”
Stop a moment before you sympathize with these poor bureaucrats. Are they really so able, so noble, so ethical?
Not a mandarin resigned and went public with what Cameron seems to feel they were forced to do. Silence is consent. Surely these mandarins were accomplices to crimes.
No?

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, November 03, 1989
ID: 12846981
TAG: 198911030209
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

MILKING THE FEDERAL CASH COW

This is a follow-up to my preceding column on where we stand with federal deficits and debt. It fixes largely on:
1) What Ottawa has been raising through various taxes and charges;
2) How Ottawa disperses what it raises by taxes and borrowing;
3) The trends in both the various means of revenue-raising and in the the main objects of federal spending.
If the proposed goods and services tax (GST) is to be the marvellous milking cow critics say then we should look at the flows from the other cows in the federal dairy – the personal income tax, corporation taxes, unemployment insurance contributions, etc.
To repeat the previous emphasis, as the ’80s began our federal deficit ran at $11.5 billion, the net federal debt was at $72 billion. By ’85 and Mulroney’s first clear budget the deficit was $38.3 billion, the net federal debt, $199 billion. At March 31, 1989, the deficit was $28.7 billion, the net debt $321 billion.
The first table shows the tax revenues for the year at the beginning, the middle, and the end of the ’80s. First by dollars in billions; second by percentages of all revenue.

TAX REVENUES IN BILLIONS and by PERCENTAGES

INCOME TAX 1980 1985 1989

Personal $16.8 44.7% $29.3 44.7% $46 47.6%

Corporate $7.0 18.6% $9.4 14.4% $11.7 12.1%

Unemployment $2.8 7.4% $7.6 11.6% $11.3 11.7%

Insurance
Non-residents $0.8 2.1% $1.0 1.5% $1.6 1.7%
—————————————————————————
Total Income tax $27.3 72.6% $47.2 72.1% $70.6 73.1%
—————————————————————————
EXCISE TAXES
& DUTIES

Sales tax $4.7 12.5% $7.6 11.6% $15.6 16.1%

Energy taxes $1.2 3.2% $4.5 6.9% $2.6 2.7%

Other taxes $4.3 11.4% $6.2 9.5% $7.5 7.8%
—————————————————————————
Total Excise & duties $10.2 27.1% $18.2 27.8% $25.8 26.7%
—————————————————————————
OTHER REVENUES $0.1 0.3% $0.1 0.2% $0.3 0.3%
—————————————————————————
TOTAL TAX REVENUE $37.6 100% $65.5 100% $96.6 100%

Now, the following table shows where the revenues and the borrowing goes.

SPENDING PROGRAMS OF FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IN BILLIONS
1980 1985 1989
Social Development
Old age benefits $6.32 $11.4 $15.3
Unemployment Ins. benefits $3.9 $10.0 $10.4
Medicare & Ins. services $3.8 $6.3 $6.6
Education aid $1.5 $2.2 $2.2
Can. Assistance Plan $1.6 $3.7 $4.6
Family allowances $1.7 $2.4 $2.6
Justice & legal $1.0 $1.8 $2.52
Indians & Inuit aid $0.87 $1.9 $2.5
Job creation; training $1.3 $2.0 $1.9
Veterans benefits $0.9 $1.4 $1.6
Housing $0.9 $1.6 $1.7
TV. film, radio $0.56 $1.0 $1.1
Other $1.7 $4.6 $5.3
———————————————————————-
Total Social Development $26.2 $50.5 $59.0
———————————————————————-
Economic & Regional Development $7.3 $14.8 $13.3
Defence $4.3 $8.7 $11.0
Fiscal arrangements (prov’l) $3.4 $5.9 $8.1
Services to government $2.3 $3.7 $4.1
External affairs & aid $1.3 $2.6 $3.5
Parliament $0.1 $0.18 $0.24
Public Debt $8.5 $22.4 $33.2
———————————————————————-
Total Net Spending $53.4 $109.2 $132.7
———————————————————————-
To repeat, look at the public debt figures. Also, look to where the money’s going. Figure what you would cut.
By the end of the decade income taxes were raising $43 billion more a year than at the beginning.
But just paying the annual interest on the public debt also rose from $8.5 billion to $33.2 billion.
Worse still, the debt itself zoomed from $72 billion in 1980 to $321 billion in 1989.
All this confirms the simple message we let go unheeded: We must spend less and tax more.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, November 01, 1989
ID: 12846683
TAG: 198911010206
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

READ THEM … AND WEEP

One can best see the prime, brute problem of the federal government today by means of a table of figures.
Today’s table shows our governments have been spending more each year (in this decade) than they have taken in through taxes, tariffs and sales of services.
Newspaper wisdom is that tables of figures put readers off. Their eyes glaze; their minds balk. I understand this. Yet . . . how to get into the heads of citizens (and voters!) the idea that each time a New Democrat or a Liberal politician demands a new program or more generous funding for one in place the deficit and debt go up?
And when a Conservative politician insists his rivals are irresponsible, that he speaks for a really responsible government that is working hard and successfully (or so he asserts) a table can measure such “success.”
The figures have been taken from the newly published Public Accounts of Canada, Vol. I, Pages 2 and 3. I have taken data from two separate tables so as to place deficit and debt figures side by side with revenue and spending figures.
Is Michael Wilson, minister of finance, coping with the federal government’s past, recent, and current difficulties in raising money and restraining federal spending programs?
Are Wilson and Prime Minister Brian Mulroney right and behaving responsibly when they stress again and again the bleak heritage left them in deficit spending and rising debt by their Liberal predecessors, Marc Lalonde and Pierre Trudeau?
By examining the single table below you can form your own answer to those questions about Wilson’s competence and the weight of Trudeau’s legacy.
Whomever is blamed, you and I as taxpayers – and our children and their children – face the debt load.
It’s also worth mentioning that large sums in debt sometimes have to be forgotten or forgiven (as Canada has recently waived some of the loans owed us by small, poor Third World countries).
It does not seen conceivable, however, that we or our government can forgive or write off the net debt and its increasingly crippling interest charges without collapsing our monetary system and with it our ability to operate in the global world of finance, investment and trade.
And either we trade a lot or plummet down to Third World standards of living.
In short, we can go on a bit longer, largely ignoring the message in the table but eventually we have to meet the burdens expressed in it.
How do we do it? By paying much more in taxes than we have been doing. Or by our government spending much less. Or both!
Of course, the figures in the following table for federal revenue and spending and for the federal deficit and the net debt are in billions of dollars. That is, for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1989, the federal government took in $103,961,000,000 and spent $132,715,000,000. But the brevity required by the table has its own effectiveness in stating the issue we cannot duck.
Why have the percentage figures of the gross national product (GNP) been included? Well, the first column – the per cent of the GNP represented by the annual deficit – is used by Wilson and company each year to show the scale of over-spending in relation to the economy as a whole is not so great. It’s rather like the annual hitch in the cost of living to which we are now so inured.
But the other GNP percentage – of the net federal debt to the production of the whole economy – gives no such solace. Trace the rise! From 26.1% to 53.6% in nine years.
Wilson took over a disaster in deficit and debt. The figures show he’s tried to cope. How well? See for yourself.
REVENUE SPENDING DEFICIT % GNP NET DEBT % GNP
1980 41,921 53,422 11,501 4.2 72,159 26.1
1981 48,775 62,957 13,522 4.4 85,681 27.6
1982 60,001 74,873 14,672 4.2 100,553 28.3
1983 60,705 88,521 27,816 7.4 128,369 34.3
1984 64,216 96,615 32,399 8.0 160,768 39.6
1985 70,898 109,222 38,324 8.6 199,092 44.8
1986 76,833 111,237 34,404 7.2 233,496 48.9
1987 85,784 116,389 30,605 6.1 264,101 52.3
1988 94,452 125,535 28,083 5.1 292,184 53.1
1989 103,961 132,715 28,734 4.8 320,918 53.6

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, October 30, 1989
ID: 12846393
TAG: 198910300233
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

ONCE MORE TO THE TROUGH

As MPs who lost their seats, Gerry St. Germain, a Conservative, and Francis Fox, a Liberal, have reflected on what they once had, and it shows in their report (done on request) about the inadequacies of the salaries and perquisites of present MPs and senators.
The substance of their seven months of rumination has drawn adverse editorial comment. The reaction of most citizens who hear about the recommendations will be blunt: Once again self-serving politicians dip deeper in the public trough.
It isn’t cynical to say the outcome of the exercise was predictable. Therefore, let’s focus on the technique Fox and St. Germain use in framing and justifying their recommendations.
First, they admit that the public perceives politicians critically, in particular “when some politicians betray, for their own personal gain, the trust placed in them by the voters.”
And so they concede the recommendations may be “controversial” and should be “widely debated.”
The ground so prepared, they planted some straw men in it. One was provided by a firm, Hay Management Consultants Ltd., commissioned by the commissioners.
Surprise! The Hay experts discovered MPs’ salaries are lagging behind “comparable” salaries in the private sector by some $18,000. Is this the magic sum? Oh, come on. How quickly and bravely the co-authors nix this prospect, arguing there must always be “a difference between those in the private sector and those who offer themselves for public office.”
Another straw man: Some former MPs suggested a significant increase in the severance pay of defeated members. Fox-St. Germain are “unprepared to go that far.”
Some senators had pleaded for parity with MPs for their pensions. Again the commissioners are gutsy. They won’t recommend it.
Some MPs had sought restrictions removed from free travel by spouses, family members and staff. These tough critics found such restrictions “reasonable and appropriate.”
Just as decisively the notion of giving senators accommodation allowances was dismissed. So were increases in the constituency allowances of MPs.
The commissioners’ artistry even included the worn tool of sophistry. First, they state the evident: Politicians should be examplars in the war against the deficit; they must demonstrate restraint. Yes, yes. Now how do they handle this thornbush? Read it.
“In refusing a proposed pay increase, MPs must be seen to be accepting less than that to which they are otherwise entitled or deserve. In other words, the usefulness of a parliamentary example is nonexistent if the public does not believe that MPs deserve a pay increase in the first place. To put it another way, if the public does not believe an increase is deserved, then the deficit-based argument against parliamentary pay increases is irrelevant.”
That’s splendid but an even finer piece of innovative persuasion is in a very complex table of figures. Over 90 numbers convey the notion that each and every MP has lost $105,117 to inflation since 1974! The authority for this stunner?
“One senator gave the commission (this table) to illustrate his point” on the nefarious consequences when parliamentary salaries are only partially indexed.
Is this unknown senator right? The commissioners do not say so; however, they use his argument forcefully to back their main aim of giving more to their former colleagues.
Spurious comparisons are used to advance the cause. Isn’t it a scandal that 12,276 public servants earn more than MPs?
One MP is upset because a secondary school principal he knows earns $71,800. Even some employees of the Senate, the House and the Parliamentary Library make more than poor MPs, not to mention cabinet appointees and the executives of Crown corporations!
The mandate Fox and St. Germain had was to “inquire into the adequacy of the annual variations of sessional allowances payable (to federal politicians).” To this simple chore they added an element of respectability in seeking to ensure “the most capable people would be attracted to and retained in Canadian public life.”
And from the imperative of quality it was an easy step to the commissioners’ credo: “Canadians must ensure that those who serve do not suffer financially and are permitted to live in reasonable comfort . . . no one should get rich by becoming a senator or a member of the House, but no one should become impoverished by the experience either.” (My emphasis.)
If I seem snide or carping let me give credit. In a season when politicians at all levels are in discredit in people’s eyes, when the debt has zoomed over $321 billion, it is rather novel and brave to justify even more in pay and perquisites for MPs and senators. Probably it was necessary to abandon the straightforward techniques and shorter reports of the four preceding commissions.
It’s a wonderful bet that the recommendations, even the one for full indexing of politicians’ salaries and allowances, will eventually be accepted.
The stage is set for the NDP caucus to distance itself from the commissioners and their parties. To resurrect the frugal spirit of Stanley Knowles. But don’t count on the NDP. And remember, the test is not voting against the increases but in refusing to accept them.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, October 29, 1989
ID: 12846228
TAG: 198910290181
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C6
COLUMN: In Ottawa
SOURCE: by douglas fisher

TORIES TURN MAZ-OCHISTIC

The worst troubles yet for the Meech accord were caused by the severe mauling given it last week by the collective wisdom of the Manitoba Legislature, joined with the assaults on Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and the accord by premiers Clyde Wells and Joe Ghiz.
And so attention swung from a lesser but fascinating partisan dilemma. It was more agonizing for the MPs of the Tory caucus than the menacing hostility in the land to the goods and services tax. Worse, it was raising doubts about cherished myths on the Hill regarding the good judgment and sure grip of the deputy prime minister.
The doubts begin with any serious analysis of a long-hatching question: Should the prime minister come home and make a senator of Stan Waters of the Reform Party? He was victor in Alberta’s unique Senate seat election and the subsequent choice of Premier Don Getty to head the short list of “possibles” he sent the PM last week.
The argument over Waters has been roiling the Ottawa caucus. Roughly I glean this.
Western MPs are split but most of the Alberta ones favor the appointment or an indication it will come in due time.
Ontario MPs are lukewarm and either amused or bemused by what they consider but can hardly say is Albertan madness.
Atlantic MPs are cool to the idea of an elected senator, rather than against the idea of a premier’s short list.
The senators within the Tory caucus have been admirably cautious about what should be done about Getty’s nominee but most of them, like most of the more numerous band of Grit senators, believe the cachet Waters bears from the voters embarrasses their status. Admittedly, a few senators can be found who have appraised Waters and his reactionary extremism and believe that in short order he would make a fool of himself and the process which produced him as a senator.
But Quebec Tory MPs are the real rub and trial for Don Mazankowski. They simply cannot swallow an appointment of a senator who would have a unique status and aura among a gang of unelected appointees. He would get an easily observed forum and added credibility for views which the Quebec Tories know are anathema to them. Several with whom I spoke question the advice on Alberta which Mulroney must have had from Mazankowski.
The Waters matter piles on top of a very general grievance about Mazankowski and to a lesser degree the other Alberta ministers, Joe Clark and Harvey Andre, among Tory MPs from other provinces. They fault Maz for dawdling and prevaricating so long in dealing with the two Alberta caucus mavericks, Alex Kindy (Calgary) and David Kilgour (Edmonton).
Although widely different in personality and in their place on the spectrum of political ideology, the two have had a grand run in the past 10 months in publicly contradicting or second-guessing the prime minister and the minister of finance on various issues and programs. It’s somewhat ironic that the two are the most capable in French of the anglophone Tory MPs. Kindy is the more conservative of the two but while less ambitious and self-righteous than Kilgour he will jump the caucus fence whenever the urge takes him (or so it seems).
Over the past few months as more and more Albertans have seethed about the disregard and ill-treatment they believe they have been getting from the Mulroney government as it dances for Quebec’s benefit, Kilgour and Kindy have emerged at home as the only brave ones among the Tories sent to Ottawa last year.
Just as the Manitoba boom was dropping on Meech the Alberta wing of the caucus was voting that Kindy be asked to leave the caucus and Kilgour be given notice of such if he continued with apocalyptic prophecies on future effects of the GST.
In the previous Parliament caucus privileges were lifted from Kilgour for open dissent with government actions and caucus unity. Now one can find Tory MPs who say the privileges should never have been restored, that Mazankowski should have let Kilgour make his way electorally as an “independent” because that is what he became by ego and in temperament once he realized his obvious superior- ity was not to be recognized with a cabinet post.
Kindy would make a likelier fit with Preston Manning and his Reform Party than Kilgour. The latter is not a hawk on Quebec and Manning would surely read him as potential trouble and a possible rival.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, October 27, 1989
ID: 12846007
TAG: 198910270219
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

MY CONFLICT OF INTEREST

Should one review a book in which one is appraised, and not kindly? Perhaps a columnist with a book before him should behave like an alderman at a council meeting who states a possible conflict of interest, even a prejudice, before voting on a motion?
I sought the wisdom of an old hand at controversy, Larry Zolf, an author, CBC producer, a suitor for a Senate seat, and chairperson of the League of Unhyphenated Canadians.
I knew Zolf as author had had recent notice from another columnist, the celebrity one, Allan Fotheringham. The latter has now noticed me in his latest book, as has another author, Stevie Cameron, the star columnist of the Globe and Mail.
Zolf also has a book out this month but his Scorpions for Sale (Stoddart) is a comic novel, not an expose of our capital or a critique of Canadian politics and journalism like the books by Cameron and Fotheringham.
The small, charismatic columnist’s book is Birds of a Feather, subtitled “The press and the politicians.”
The Globe’s top hand has written Ottawa Inside Out, subtitled “Power, prestige and scandal in the nation’s capital.”
Both authors are in the Key Porter Books stable.
But I digress. Back to Zolf. I knew he had reviewed these particular books for Saturday Night. There, so he told me, he’d been keener on Cameron’s than Fotheringham’s.
Did it bother him, I asked, to appraise a book whose author had hoisted him publicly?
Not a bit. Judge the book, not what you know about an author as angel or rat. Forget what may have been said or written about you. Zolf is very forgiving.
I asked if his Saturday Night review was not influenced, at least a bit, by the sweet recognition and praise given him in Ottawa Inside Out by Cameron. To her he is a lion whereas she scuffed me aside as a right-wing, aging columnist.
Ah, how Zolf laughed. Wasn’t it lovely? Don’t take it seriously. You’re not a right-wing, aging columnist; you’re a right-wing socialist columnist.
Be generous, said Zolf. Allow a misjudgment or two. Keep your judgments fair and square. Plainly put, he’d had more fun, more information from her book than Fotheringham’s. And, those of us who’ve followed the latter’s career must balk at his theme: That political reporters and politicians spend too much time together; that too few journalists are “virgins,” unsullied by the politicians.
Zolf was on target. This theme does bob in and out of Birds of a Feather. My thought, however, was that it was just a device. The author’s aim was to place himself where he seemed required to range over everyone else who writes about politics, measuring them by his standards. And the device does nicely in letting him affirm by implication his own legend as the premier political writer of the era. He embellishes his Canadian critique by also ranging magisterially over the top journalists and politicians at Westminster and in Washington.
I left Zolf, thanking him for his lesson in charity and wishing him a best-seller. While I agreed with him that a close exegesis makes the Fotheringham theme unconvincing, I differed with him on his evaluation of Cameron’s book. It is naive and rife with mistakes and silly judgments.
Cameron has discovered the corridors of power. She has seen and spoken to the men and women of great influence in the capital. She’s done what Peter Newman did much better a quarter century ago. He raised and perfected a genre of chatty awe for power and influence.
In contrast, the Fotheringham book is irreverent. I have relished his metaphors and instant opinion for years, even before reading a piece by George Bowering, perhaps B.C.’s most illustrious professor of English. In it he revealed he used raw Fotheringham as grammar exercises for his students.
Zolf does have a point on the book’s theme being haywire. From all his content – I hardly know him personally -Fotheringham is gregarious, endlessly dining, wining, and partying with so many who count for so much in politics – the media, society, feminism, and the corporate world. He is one of the birds! The high point in his book is a party at the home of Murray and Barbara Frum.
My boost for Birds of a Feather is like my reasons for often turning to its author’s columns. Not for political data or analysis but for more from his huge warehouse of word plays, put-downs, and gall. And (look for it!) his discreet, occasional sycophancies.
Cameron is a most opinionated reporter of much industry. She has beavered away at Ottawa – the physical, the political, the social and the trendy. She is very nosy, a vacuumer of facts and gossip. Although long married to a public service mandarin she still reveres almost all mandarins, and she cherishes Grits far more than Tories. Through her welter of names, facts, and opinion runs a heart-felt lament for the second golden age of the Liberals (under Trudeau!). She wants Brian Mulroney turfed before all that has been honest, wholesome, and intelligent in Ottawa is wiped away.
No book since World War II, not even Newman’s fine ones, has tried to tell so much about Ottawa. Cameron has earned a juster, more literate review than I can give her. She gets it from Charles Lynch, a newspaperman of 50 years’ experience. See it in this week’s Maclean’s before you buy Ottawa Inside Out. Don’t go solely by the kindly Zolf in Saturday Night.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, October 25, 1989
ID: 11815466
TAG: 198910250162
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: by douglas fisher

A MORATORIUM ON MEECH?

The country is in a woeful state. Certainly in its media context the the woe will roil on until Christmas, maybe longer.
Our woes always worsen whenever it seems a majority of the French Canadians who live in the province of Quebec may be politically ready to cease sharing this federal state with English Canadians.
At this season the woe seems deeper than normal, even worse than in the days of referendum campaign on sovereignty association in 1980. Why? Because a lot of Canadians who live outside Quebec are ready to shrug about it, and even wonder if it would be so awful if the province left Canada.
The poor prospects for entering the Meech Lake accord in the Constitution were confirmed this week by formal critical rejections of key provisions regarding Quebec by politicians in power in Manitoba, Newfoundland and New Brunswick.
Whenever we enter these periods when it seems possible to politicians and journalists that Canada as we know it is coming apart, for comfort my memory flicks back to a poem from school days by Thomas Hardy. As I remember, it had a title like At a Time of the Breaking of Nations and was written when the world was at war. The scene sketched was rural, earthy, about the land and those who work it, and as I recall concluded:
“Yonder a maid and her wight go whispering by
War’s annals will fade into night ere their story die.”
Yes, the sentiment in the poem is banal and trite but that doesn’t mean that figuratively making love and not war is irrelevant to our occasion. The organization of people into communities and states, the establishment and the enforcement of law, even the raising and use of armies by a country to make war, do trace back to a great simplicity of purpose. To let humans live and love as they wish.
The poem also raises in my imagination two ideas which trail behind the simple one; first that the concerns of plain people in their ordinary associations surely have priority over those of government; second, that those intent on government and politics take themselves and their issues far too seriously.
Some three million Canadians are over 65 and so have memories which could or may recall the Depression years, then World War II, and certainly the years and administrations since – of Mackenzie King, Louis St. Laurent, John Diefenbaker, Lester Pearson, Pierre Trudeau, Joe Clark, Trudeau again, John Turner and now Brian Mulroney.
Whether or not the lives of these three million have been rich or bleak, dull or exciting, surely most of them would agree on this very banal proposition, much like the banality implicit in Hardy’s poem: Neither concern over our constitutional arrangements nor hardships or injuries created by our Constitution have been significant factors in their lives.
Whatever life has been like for each of us, the fact our Constitution rested in some odd way over at Westminster until this decade meant nothing to it.
Surely very few of the three million, whether in Quebec or not, whether French speaking or English speaking, ever much pined and grieved and felt abused or badly warped by not having a Charter of Rights for protection through the first 50 to 70 years of their lives.
Where is this kindergarten view of the plain folk of Canada and their Constitution leading? To this simple advice for all: Cool the debate, even let it fade out. Yes, let the Meech accord go. Don’t wrestle with its parts. Don’t dream up parallel accords or an assortment of compromises. Leave it alone for a time. See what ensues in Quebec. Maybe it’s time for English Canadians to back away. Stop imagining what a “distinct society” is and may mean, constitutionally speaking. Let the Quebecois situation simmer or, to use another metaphor, go fallow for a year or two.
Even if the prime minister lets the Meech accord dwindle away into the forgetfulness of history, much like the fate which overtook the Victoria accord of 1971 when Robert Bourassa felt he had to welch on it, the constitutional gambit will shuffle along through judicial interpretation, especially of Charter cases.
Who needs to respond to this idea of cooling out the constitutional debate, notably as it relates to Quebec and the rest of Canada? There’s the rub. It’s Mulroney. And he seems to overvalue “face” and probably has far too much pride to ask the premiers and the federal parties to put the Meech accord aside for a year or two.
Yet the advantages of a constitutional moratorium to the Mulroney government are clear. It lets it give a fuller emphasis to putting the goods and services tax through into law. It lets the party of the official Opposition debate and settle during its leadership race in the next eight months what it sees as Quebec’s place within the Constitution.
A moratorium would allow a better appraisal of the idea so popular beyond central Canada of a Triple-E Senate, particularly if Tory MPs from the West foster the discussion and stop further appropriation of the idea by Preston Manning and his Reform Party. There is now such a gulf between Alberta’s expectations for the Triple E and any chance the big eastern provinces might accept it. Besides, Senate reform talk has gone on for 122 years without any real consequence or much harm. Hasn’t that a topical moral for our woe?

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, October 23, 1989
ID: 11814693
TAG: 198910230111
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

JOHN FRASER’S BETTER IDEA

TEXT:
There have not been any caustic comments in print over Commons Speaker John Fraser talking about what a government should or should not do in the field of advertising. His “ruling” has put more gloss on him as an able, independent leader of the House.
The matter arose on the day Parliament resumed after a long summer recess. Liberal Leader John Turner argued the privileges of MPs were violated and contempt shown the House by Michael Wilson and his finance department.
The instrument of violation and contempt was a full-page, newspaper ad which promoted the goods and services tax (GST). The ads gave an impression and implied the GST was a certainty and would take effect on Jan. 1, 1991. Of course, it seems to be a certainty. After all, the sponsor has a clear House majority. But there was not even a draft bill on the GST before the public and Parliament when the ads ran.
Governments have often shelved or postponed major bills. Both the critical bite and the amending process of Parliament, along with cogent public reaction might radically change or cause the shelving of the GST program.
Previous governments have run ads with the same premise of certainty within them that Parliament had yet to ensure (e.g., the Trudeau government when remaking the Constitution).
In stressing “the great disservice” to our parliamentary traditions created by the ads, Fraser was rather like our Supreme Court on Pierre Trudeau’s constitutional proposal. Yes, Trudeau could go ahead but the way he was doing it was contrary to the grain of our traditions. The court’s criticism led the Trudeau government to a compromise. Fraser’s ruling drew undertakings the government will eschew prescient advertising.
There are reasons why Fraser didn’t push his interpretation to a formal ruling that MPs’ privileges had been abused and why no minister tried to raise the anomalies and difficulties possible if a government or its agencies were absolutely forbidden to proceed with any of its intentions before each was sanctioned by an act or motion of Parliament.
Emergencies arise that require quick governmental actions for which there may be no legislative authority. A minister may be unable to await even an authorization by an order-in-council.
Time and again appointments are made to commissions and boards which have not yet been legislated. Often new departments or ministries have been announced and then shaped up by appointments, offices, even unto policy announcements a year or more before parliamentary authority is given.
In 1979 I helped draft a task force report on fitness and amateur sport. Forceful lobbying from sport groups and fast-approaching events led the federal minister responsible to make many appointments and set up several organizations such as Hockey Canada and the Sports Administration Centre even before the report which recommended them was published.
So Speaker Fraser had to deal with a touchy House issue and also consider a multitude of eventualities. He decided on a mere, but most salutary warning. There was no blanket ukase because some time, somewhere, such might force regrettable delays. In short, he rebuked the government for crass insensitivity. This one won’t forget.
Fraser later touched another matter that may seem frivolous compared with arrogant governmental behavior. He seeks full freedom for those running the production of the House’s television coverage in making their camera shots of proceedings. He would end the rigid confinement to shooting only whoever is on his or her feet speaking.
Fraser would permit panning shots of the chamber and switches for close-up reactions between questioner and answerer. This should end the present phony clustering of colleagues behind any MP who is speaking. Viewers would see the stark fact of many empty seats most of the time and the inattention among those who are there. If particular dramas occur away from the MP speaking – as they often do – both camera and microphone would catch, record, and show them.
This is a splendid advocacy by Fraser of reality over illusion. In making the proposal Fraser did gild the parliamentary lily. He acknowledged that real coverage would show the often, nearly empty House. Then he said: “It’s empty because MPs are back in their offices or in committees doing the work the electors expect them to do.”
The chief explanation for so much absenteeism after the oral question period is not because MPs are at work elsewhere (although many of them are) but because the House is seen as an irrelevant bore and most speech-making is done to consume time. Able, active people can’t bear the inaneness of it. Few listen. Few watch. Few read Hansard. Few ministers spend a minute past “roster” duty in the chamber. Most House “debate” is not debate but irrelevant and redundant words, often read, uttered to use up time and fulfil the stock masquerades of opposition and support.
Speaker Fraser might enhance his TV proposals by advocating thorough presetting of firm limits on stages of debate and by stopping speech-reading. Better production values and more viewers would come by using more informed commentary on both the subject and speech-makers through both voice-overs and ribboned print data along the foot of the frame.
A more varied series of real debate and an intelligible, daily show might bring MPs, even a prime minister, in to hear and to participate.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, October 22, 1989
ID: 11814374
TAG: 198910220113
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C6
COLUMN: In Ottawa

SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

TRANSPORT MOB WON’T BE HURRIED

TEXT:
What a monicker for a file: “The Royal Commission on a National Passenger Transportation System for the 21st Century.”
How costly and time-wasting it was for the prime minister to appoint nine people to this commission, plus a federal deputy-minister, Janet Smith, as executive director. What is this rather haphazard mob to unite around?
Brian Mulroney’s “expectation” is that it “will provide a blueprint for a comprehensive co-ordinated passenger system for the next century.”
Good Lord, that’s more hyperbolic than Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s line on the 20th century belonging to Canada, and makes less sense, when you look back at what technological change and its inevitable, dislocating effects have done to the movement of people since 1900.
The opposition MPs with shadow cabinet roles for transport have lambasted the new commission. They’ve concentrated on the appointees as highly Tory or Tory-dominated. They began with what may be the weakest of all the choices, the chairman, Lou Hyndman, an ex-minister of Conservative governments in Alberta, who never won any national repute as deft politician or master treasurer. They then fixed on 76-year-old John Hamilton, a PC MP some 27 years ago; then on Susan Fish, a Yank transplant to Toronto who was for a few years an Ontario minister as the Davis era closed.
So three of nine were overt, elected Tory politicians but only one, John Hamilton, was a federal MP and that long ago.
What about the partisan record of the rest? Well, six of them have had associations with Liberal politicians and governments in matters of appointment and promotion.
Janet Smith was a rapidly elevated protege in the Privy Council Office of Michael Pitfield, for so long Pierre Trudeau’s alter ego and amanuensis.
Medical doctor Maurice LeClair came to Ottawa to take deputy-minister rank as a personal favorite of a powerful Liberal minister, Marc Lalonde. This was the only plausible explanation for LeClair’s subsequent appointment in 1982 as head of the CNR.
Economist and journalist Marie-Josee Drouin first came to attention almost two decades ago as a consort of a federal cabinet minister (Liberal).
W.P. Kelly, when a top official of the Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen, was recruited into the federal department of labor at a high level by a Liberal minister, Jack Nicholson.
John Helliwell, a B.C. academic economist, has served on a variety of committees, councils, and commissions in the federal domain, most of the appointments coming with Liberals in office.
James McNiven, a dean of Dalhousie’s faculty of management, got his first major appointment (in 1977 as executive vice-president of the Atlantic Economic Council) at a time when the Liberals were in power federally and in Nova Scotia.
Given those associations of six commissioners the commission is hardly a Tory ramp. Another appointee, Marc Gaudry, is more than merely filling in the French Canadian quotient (along with Drouin and LeClair). He’s a genuine authority on transportation economics.
In truth, even though the commission is too large, none of the appointees, not even LeClair (who was rather a bust at the CN) is a slowpoke or a fool or a mere place-filler. That’s one of the problems – the number of strong-willed commissioners, the number with explicit expertise in transportation.
Several of the commissioners – for example, Kelly, Helliwell, McNiven and Hamilton – are sages with immense experience. Kelly knows railroading like few others. Hamilton has the longest involvement in air transport affairs of anyone I know. Drouin is as tough-minded and sure-footed a woman as there is in public affairs. As one with immediate experience at the top of treasury board, Smith knows what most forget – that the federal government is without spare money and has a huge, rising debt load.
I asked one within the ministerial hierarchy why such a large commission with so much in varied expertise and experience. The answer was “Mulroney. The PM wanted to cover every base, beginning with the West (the chairman).”
And he wanted someone who knew about commuters (Fish), the Maritimes (McNiven), airlines (Hamilton), unions and railroaders (Kelly), and French Canada (three high-profile people).
I suggested that the numbers and composition meant a long, long wait for a report, and got the answer: “Okay, it’s 10 years to the next century.”

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, October 20, 1989
ID: 11813799
TAG: 198910200165
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

A SENATORIAL DIVERSION

TEXT:
Laugh or cry cheer or rage? Such contrariness may raddle anyone not from Alberta who ponders the fact Alberta voters have made Gen. Stanley Waters of Preston Manning’s Reform Party their nominee to the Senate.
Let’s scan some general elements in this latest proof that Albertans mistrust the federal government and eastern Canadians.
First the question, why have Albertans, far above other Canadians, been so enamored of an elected second chamber, smaller than the House of Commons and which will give equal representation to each province?
Literally, Alberta was the last frontier settled in the drive westward to take up the continent by the Americans and their immigrants.
Proportionately more Americans and more immigrants from Europe who already had tried the American West came to Alberta between 1900 and 1920 than to any other province. They brought with them “greenbacker” and “Granger” views: A deep distrust of bankers, railroads and Washington and much faith in the judgment and co-operation which plain people would and must inject into politics and commerce.
These views make more understandable why the majority of Alberta governments have not been Liberal or Tory since the province was formed in 1905. For almost as long, both the provincial governing parties and those parties which have taken most of the federal ridings in Alberta have won “big” -reflecting the most homogeneous population in Canada outside Quebec.
The widespread, partisan certainty among Albertans has been manifest in the MPs sent to Ottawa. Only in 13 of the 67 years from the election of 1921 to that of 1988 have more Alberta MPs been in the government caucus than in opposition ones. Albertans lean to unanimity in partisanship, both at home and in Ottawa; and for the latter this usually has meant voices to oppose the government.
After reading much of what Albertans of all parties have been saying about their wished-for “triple E” Senate it’s clear to me they want senators with the greater power and prestige that comes from a province-wide electoral mandate more to oppose the federal regime than to share in it. They seem to overlook that we already have a cacophony of oral resistance on Parliament Hill to anything a prime minister or the cabinet does or seeks to do.
Their oversight does indicate their long fascination with the role of American senators. Both the vigorous roots from American politics and the fame and publicity won by senators from the adjoining states in advancing and protecting regional interests in Washington have kept going a widespread opinion in Alberta.
Albertans generally believe that elected senators shall be better advocates and protectors than: (a) mere members of the House of Commons; (b) cabinet ministers (say, like Don Mazankowski, Harvie Andre and Joe Clark); or (c) the premier using the process and institutions of federal-provincial relations.
A graft onto our federal system of a striking feature of the U.S. system is literally stupid before there is a wide understanding of how different the systems are and how hard, probably impossible, it is to give the Canadian system the key elements which let the American one work. Such as the separation of the executive from the legislative branch.
Aside from such major constitutional changes being very hard to reach, currently they seem as unneeded a fix of our system as completing this year’s world series in San Francisco. Surely a thorough, national, environmental program or a tax system that meets our debt and deficit imperatives or a phrasing of the Constitution which is satisfactory to Quebecers have more significance and urgency than a triple E Senate.
Of course, such a jaundiced view may rest too much on the unelected Senate we have had and have. It has been a costly, useless pimple on our body politic. Almost all its immense powers on paper have lapsed or became redundant. Our Senate was originally designed to protect both regional interests and people of property against a too powerful or too democratic centre. Instead, its utility has mostly been as a sweet reward which a PM gives to party patrons, fund-raisers, and useful apparatchiks.
A few years ago we enshrined an Americanism, a constitutional bill of rights. Since then it seemed sensible that we should canvass ways to move our two-level parliamentary system, modelled on the British, to a congressional system with its separation of powers. Britain is a unitary, not a federal state. Arguably, the executive within Parliament makes more sense there than here. One good reason for moving Canada to the American way in government is, however, literally anathema to Albertans.
American federalism has moved, largely through global and economic necessities but also through judicial interpretation, to the federal government being the national government, largely supreme and unifying over “state” power.
One expects Brian Mulroney will name Gen. Waters to the Senate, and in doing so he will possibly have reasoned that never has a government trying to surmount supremely difficult issues like the goods and services tax and the free trade agreement been offered such a marvellous diversion.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, October 18, 1989
ID: 11813107
TAG: 198910180146
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

BOOKS WITH POLITICAL BITE

TEXT:
Books – good, indifferent, and inscrutable. Either directly or with a wrench, each of the four new books noted below has a political edge in it.
RESOLVING THE GLOBAL DEBT CRISIS, by Morris Miller, is a paperback put out by the UN for discussion. Miller was once an executive director for the World Bank, appointed by Pierre Trudeau. Two years ago Dow Jones published his acclaimed study on world debt, Coping Is Not Enough. The new book is a handy reference, succinctly giving the scale of the crisis in the Third World and a synopsis of proposals to meet it. What’s surprising is the involvement of many famous financial operators – Merrill Lynch, Rohattyn & Altman, Lever & Hume.
STATE AND SALVATION, subtitled The Jehovah’s Witnesses and their Fight for Civil Rights, by William Kaplan, published by U of T Press, has a simple persuasive thesis on rights in Canada, one which makes sense even if it came out of the blue to me.
Trudeau’s last, most significant hurrah was turning us toward Americanism in law by emplacing over Parliament the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the interpretations of it by our courts which make it our supreme edict. Forty years ago such enshrinement would have been dismissed as impossible and un-British, yet the idea arose and grew here, mostly in reaction to federal actions in World War II until it was acceptable even to a conservative legal establishment.
Kaplan is a young, prolific author who teaches law at the University of Ottawa. He opens with the repression of the Witnesses in Quebec by Premier Maurice Duplessis in 1936 goes on to the federal ban of Jehovah’s Witnesses in July, 1940.
The Witnesses fought back as best they could. Their way was hard and lonely at first. They were treated even more roughly than the Japanese Canadians (who were banished from the West Coast in 1942). Kaplan traces the issue in Parliament and in cases in the courts. He details what lawyers like Frank Scott, Glen How and John Diefenbaker and jurists like Ivan Rand did in defence of rights. Repressions of the Witnesses ended and the struggle helped popularize the need for a constitutional enshrinement of rights and freedoms.
BEHIND THE JESTER’S MASK, subtitled Canadian Editorial Cartoons About Dominant Minority Groups, 1960-1979, by Raymond Morris and published by U of T Press is an erudite, academic study, almost mathematical in its analysis of two main topics of our cartoonists – relations between French and English Canadians and between Canada and the U.S. Despite nigh inscrutable tables and figures Morris has some fascinating openers on cartooning as a literary form and genre of satire. He makes good use of critics like Northrop Frye and Marshall McCluhan.
In turning a political issue to a picture and a few words the cartoonist must both exaggerate and simplify. Morris divines a long-term shift in emphasis by editorial cartoonists. Four or five decades ago each paper’s cartoonist ridiculed the politicians of the party the paper opposed. Such partisan individualism of each paper gave cartooning diversity across the country but it largely disappeared with the growth of the chains and the rise to celebrity status of “neutral” cartoonists (like Duncan Macpherson). From them has come a rather higher or more subtle satire in literary and graphic senses. By and large, however, the satire fixes on and against the government. Further, it depicts politics in general as rife with nastiness, folly, extravagance and deceit. Cartoonists do not debate or give alternatives. They jeer, heckle, deride, and embarrass.
This all seems obvious. But Morris takes his analysis much further. I may have missed a public response to him from our Donatos, Aislins, and Macphersons. Are they lackeys of private enterprise?
Morris sees cartoonists as “the jesters of the bourgeoisie,” i.e., “bourgeoisie” as in Marxist analysis. Business is admirably productive and efficient alongside the clowns, japes and free-loaders of politics. “Cartoonists implicitly contrast the disorderly foolishness of politicians of all persuasions with the orderly good sense of business leaders.”
RHINELAND, subtitled, The Battle to End the War by Denis and Shelagh Whitaker, is published by Stoddart. It carries forward their Tug of War book about the eventual capture of Antwerp in the fall of 1944, to the fight for the lower Rhine, concentrating (though not exclusively) on the role played by the First Canadian Army.
There may be more detail of actions than any but veterans want but intrinsic in the book is the story of Canadian losses. These, then and since, were glossed over. Our politicians were deathly afraid of a two-nations’ crisis arising from the desperate shortage of trained infantrymen. In truth, the losses caused by the shortage in killed, wounded, and exhausted were tragic for far more Canadians than the suffering caused by moving of Japanese Canadians to the interior of Canada from the B.C. coast. The latter have won a national apology and a benefit settlement of some $300 million.
Who recalls and sympathizes with the battered Canadian battalions along the Rhine? Undertrained, far under strength, they battered against Hitler’s West Wall. Their losses were grim, their progress without recognition or glory. I can confirm the Whitakers have it as it was at the front in the months Ottawa has always wanted to forget.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, October 16, 1989
ID: 11812562
TAG: 198910160128
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

PROSECUTION OR PERSECUTION?

TEXT:
Last week one of the questions before viewers of CBC Newsworld’s phone-in show was their reaction to the prosecution in Canada for war crimes in World War II.
The guests to speak to the matter were Bill Hobson, the justice minister’s man in charge of preparing information and indictments, and Sol Littman, the representative in Canada of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies and the personal catalyst for the successful campaign to get the legislation which permits the prosecutions.
Both spoke well. Hobson explained the long delay in attaining an act to deal with such criminals and the slowness of the new process. He underlined the certainty of more charges. Littman stressed the need for the prosecutions with his urgency boosted by the aging of both criminals and witnesses.
The surprises came with the callers from places far from Toronto and Ottawa. To put it plainly, the sum of impressions left by them on me was antagonism to the prosecutions: Costly; a waste of taxpayers’ money; reviving terrors better forgotten, at least in particulars. Twice even the hint that prosecutions are a persecution of the elderly.

An item in this week’s Sports Illustrated confirms neatly an argument sociologist Seymour Lipset made last week on our TV and radio (using material in his new book Continental Divide: The Values and Institutions of the United States and Canada).
Lipset explains that “Being an American . . . is an ideological commitment, It is not a matter of birth . . . Americans, more than other western peoples, tend to view international politics in non-negotiable moralistic and ideological terms. Canadians, like Europeans, are more disposed to perceive international conflicts as reflections of interest differences, and, therefore, subject to negotiation and compromise.”
Years ago (1970-1979) I was engaged with other Canadians in developing new competition with the USSR regarding hockey (the 1972 and 1974 series, Canada Cup, etc.). We could never count on support from the Americans, either those in their amateur hockey organizations or the owners of American NHL teams. If anything, the Americans wanted to beat the Russians more than we did but they were suspicious of the Russians and didn’t want to deal with them.
This brings me to what a current NHL owner is quoted as saying in the SI article “The Russians are here.”
“The Snider family which owns the (Philadelphia) Flyers has said it opposes doing business with the Soviet government because of human rights issues and would never pay the federation for a player. `I am open to changing my mind,’ says Jay Snider, the Flyers president. `There is clear evidence of less political repression (in the Soviet bloc). But look what happened in China. Until these changes are institutionalized, I’m still wary.’ ”
I would remind readers anticipating Lipset’s work may be too academic, too jargon-ridden, that he, like his colleague and friend, the great David Riesman (of The Lonely Crowd) is a plain, common sense speaker and writer. He takes his time getting where he wants to go, but you do not get lost.
Even our Hurtigs, Atwoods, Broadbents, Mowats and Bertons should enjoy the irony in Lipset’s explanations of how their most favored enterprise, the Charter of Rights, is making us more and more like Americans, whereas the free trade agreement is irrelevant to our distinctive Canadianism.

In railing against the pension “claw-back” now moving through Parliament (as part of Excise Act amendments) a senior acquaintance of mine in his mid-70s declaimed that he and his wife had damn well paid for their Old Age Security pension (OAS) in a past, specific tax. Now, because they had been frugal they were retired with a nice, tidy income from pensions and savings of over $50,000 a year. Boom! Mulroney decides to tax back the OAS for which they’d already paid tax.
This fact of a specific OAS tax haunted me until I located an explanation in a budget address by finance minister Mitchell Sharp on Dec. 19, 1966 – almost 23 years ago. Some taxpayers never forget.
Sharp said his only tax measures “are intended only to counterbalance, financially and economically, the expenditures on the Guaranteed Income Supplement with a small margin to allow for the fact that the payments we make to old age pensioners are sure to be spent while some of the revenues we get will come out of the savings.”
Read that last clause again! Isn’t that rather what Wilson’s after with his claw-back?
Sharp raised the maximum amount which a taxpayer paid “on the 4% of personal income tax under the Old Age Security Act, from $120 a year to $240 a year.” The 4% levy had been in effect since 1963.
So yes, my angry acquaintance (and I, too, and millions more) paid a tax specifically aimed at covering the needs of the OAS fund. Also, two years later, Sharp’s successor, Edgar Benson, instituted a specific 2% social development tax to an annual minimum of $120 a year for any taxpayer, largely to cover pensions. It wasn’t till the time of John Turner as minister of finance that a string of small drops in the rate of personal income tax (1972-74) led to the disappearance of the specific OAS tax.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, October 15, 1989
ID: 11812544
TAG: 198910150131
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: C5
ILLUSTRATION: 2 photos GRIT MP John Nunziata is emerging as an unlikely successor to former Tory PM John Diefenbaker as the chief exponent of plain Canadianism.
COLUMN: Backgrounder
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

A NEW CHAMPION OF UNHYPHENATED CANADIANISM//OFFICIAL

Does John Nunziata equal John Diefenbaker?
On one matter – detesting hyphenated Canadianism – it seems so. Not for the Chief the tag German-Canadian; not for the Liberal MP for York-Weston the tag Italian-Canadian.
The Chief left us for his well-prepared tomb knowing his career-long adventure for a plain Canadianism had failed. His theme was passed by when Pierre Trudeau’s ministry discovered multiculturalism in the early ’70s, arguably because it was felt some ethno-worship would ensure the immigrants’ vote, particularly in Metro Toronto.
Nunziata, a contemporary Liberal MP, has emerged as a sort of critic of multiculturalism, He seems to be Pied-Pipering his party to a vague, new somewhat pan-Canadian conception of our culture.
The issue has reopened with a bill sponsored by a Jewish-Canadian MP, Gerry Weiner, the secretary of state. The bill would create a federal department of multiculturalism and citizenship. Weiner’s arguments for such a department are bland and banal: “This is our vision for a strong, united Canada in which persons of all origins can fully participate.”
About a dozen MPs have spoken to the bill since it was first moved last June. Only Nunziata has broken a tri-partisan solidarity that supports the bill. He indicates he will vote against it. In the debate he’s been interrogating other speakers on their understanding of what multiculturalism is or ought to be, and he reiterates his not entirely convincing conversion into a critic fed up with multiculturalism.
Before summarizing what he said in the debate (which was not a distinguished one) a sketch on the origins of multiculturalism is needed. It was a theme inherent but untongued for years despite much public prate about “the Canadian mosaic” through and following World War II.
Officially, multiculturalism rose onto the federal scene out of Volume IV of the report of Lester Pearson’s royal commission on bilingualism and biculturalism. Vol. IV was on the contribution of ethnic groups other than French and British.

Trudeau’s policy

After several years hesitation, in 1971 Pierre Trudeau as prime minister announced “a policy of multiculturalism.” He said “There cannot be one cultural policy for Canadians of British and French origin, another for the original peoples and yet a third for all others.”
He accepted a “Bi and Bi” thesis that people recognized and relished their particular ethnicity because it endowed them with a sense of belonging and sharing “a collective will to exist” rather than mainly remembering their origins or sharing a mother tongue with others in the group.
Trudeau was marshalling a very touchy national policy of official bilingualism so one understands why he was chary of even referring to either the simple, unhyphenated Canadianism long advocated by Diefenbaker or to a dualism of culture. And so Trudeau argued:
“A policy of multiculturalism within a bilingual framework commends itself to the government as the most suitable means of assuring the cultural freedom of Canadians.”
Pause for a moment. Scan that declaration for meaning. Surely it meant an officially bilingual Canada based on French and English usage. But beyond this, Ottawa was both advocating and insisting there was and would be a multi-layered society without one culture or two cultures (such as an English one and a French one) but many cultures. And so multiculturalism was designed to sustain or give status to the culture of every self-regarding ethnic group whose members knew they had a heritage to continue and a distinctive culture to add (not mix) to the many others.
This was and is a wonderfully idealistic, optimistic policy and definition of Canada as it was and was to be.
“Idealistic” because of the essential assumption a Noah’s Ark of cultures would co-exist and prosper without any particular one dominant.
“Optimistic” on many counts. As a succession of ministers for multiculturalism (following the first, Stanley Haidasz, in 1972) insisted: Each ethnic cultural group in Canada must and would eschew the rivalries of its heritage, say of Jews and Moslems, or of Poles and Russians or of Hindus and Sikhs
The optimism sketched a nation where each immigrant knew his or her cultural heritage and practices would have equal recognition and opportunity in use and enjoyment as any other. The optimism became a commonplace of every political party. Every federal and provincial caucus accepted and exalted multiculturalism, even some very reluctant Quebecois. This blanket endorsement explains why the Nunziata relapse from the norm has surprised his fellow Grits and brought forth two of his Metro colleagues, Sergio Marchi and Dennis Mills, to explain.
Marchi is a most verbose, multicultural gusher. He handles the Nunziata dilemma with a torrent of words which turn the focus to the Tories who, of course, misunderstand multiculturalism while shamelessly exploiting ethnics. The cannier Mills simply asks Nunziata to go “on hold” until the Liberal party conjures up a fresh multicultural vision.
What Nunziata finds wanting in multiculturalism goes right at its intrinsic optimism. The feds, the provinces, and the cities have been throwing money into the policy: Chair after university chair for ethnic studies and “heritage” languages; grants for conferences, concerts, rallies, dances, banquets, dramas, histories, periodicals, even ethnic sport clubs.
Corporations under federal law like the CBC, Canada Post, and airlines are pushed to raise their ethnic components, especially of visible minorities.
Willy-nilly, despite all this activity and the surface respectability of multiculturalism, in the real world with its commerce, media, communication, schools and universities, sports and recreations, the ethnic distinctions keep being erased or “nativized.” The inexorable trend is not to many distinctions but to a common denominator, culturally and expressively.
Acculturation, as the sociologists call it, goes on and on, affecting even the most rigid, policed enclaves. We have a remarkably open society. English is by far the most used language. We all watch, even Quebecois, a lot of American TV. Radio, TV and the movies are always acculturating the millions. Further, even the most recent surge of immigrants, mostly from Asia and the Caribbean, must live and work in the mainstream, North American economy and culture.
An excellent example of its force is apparent in the mean, wretched determination of French Canadians in Quebec to use their political power base to stem any domination of English language and North American culture in Montreal.
What chance has multiculturalism to mean anything more than a modest conditioner of broad attitudes to people or groups with different values and appearances?
Take the exaggerations on the numbers of, and in, distinctive ethnic groups in Canada like the insistence that 40% of Canadians are ethnic (or hyphenated) Canadians. This is a crock. John Diefenbaker found it so 70 years ago on the Prairies. John Nunziata has discovered it in Toronto, ethnicity’s jewel.
Most who speak English at home and work in Canada think and act and live simply as Canadians, not as ethnic, hyphenated Canadians. The proportion of those today who were immigrants (just 16%) is no greater than 40 years ago. The data on “mother tongue” and “language spoken in the home” which the census takes every five years shows how poorly languages other than English and French fare in usage, retention, and in being passed to children.
Even with official bilingualism the number of those who began with French keeps eroding for those who live outside Quebec or in a few enclaves in New Brunswick.

Harmless diversion?

When the optimism of a true believer in the marvel of multiculturalism is shaken by reality, the proud ones are most hurt. They are riled by the “con” job. They see most of their fellow Canadians, however polite, are not really cherishing of ethnicities whatever their love of pasta or saunas or Ukrainian Easter eggs or dancing to reggae. Beyond at most a score of federal constituencies in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal ethnicking is largely of occasional, minor diversion . . . nice, harmless.
More and more we mock and satirize our politicians. A sensitive ethnic like Nunziata detests the parodies on the extravagant catering of politicians to ethnics. His sense of exclusion has grown.
How arrogant and cold the denominator people seem to proud ethnics like the Chief and John Nunziata. They cry out against the indifference, the patronizing. And so they want a national policy which affirms the basic equality of Canadian citizenship. They seek an impossible reality in which every sustainable diversity is intrinsic to Canadian culture.
Meanwhile, always, life goes on. Immigrants come, find an old nation and a long continuum here. They get work, acquire homes and neighbors. They begin, inevitably to (bad word!) assimilate. People die. Children are born, go to school, get jobs, marry, procreate and live by and large in both their own minds and in those of others simply as Canadians, not as Jewish-Canadians, Italian-Canadians, or Afro-Canadians.
John Nunziata says: “In the true sense of the word, multiculturalism means everybody.” He insists that “the large majority of Canadians” see multiculturalism as irrelevant for them. And so he finds the policy “divisive.”
“But what am I?” Nunziata cries. He insists he’s as good a Canadian as anyone else. He dislikes being tagged “an ethnic MP.” He feels multiculturalism divides. It does not unite. Perhaps nothing he tells the House puts the gut truth on multiculturalism better than this:
“ . . . the mind-set here in Ottawa today and indeed throughout the country . . . is discriminatory because there is almost a suggestion that because one is part of the multicultural community, somehow one is inferior, is of a different class, is of inferior quality to Canadians who have origins that are English and French.”
Isn’t it fine that an ethnic Liberal for whom the policy was politically designed two decades ago has found multiculturalism is phony?

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, October 13, 1989
ID: 11811829
TAG: 198910130169
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THE CAMPAIGN ISSUES OF 1992

TEXT:
We tend to forget a feature of our political system: What one Parliament does may be undone by the next one.
Stan Darling, a Tory MP (Parry Sound-Muskoka) is the elder of his caucus and five times re-elected to the House. He was asked what he’s encountering at home regarding the goods and services tax (GST). He shrugged.
Wasn’t there any reaction to the proposal? Oh, yes. Questions. Complaints.
What was he saying in reply?
Darling spoke as though stating the obvious: “I tell them that if the GST is a fiasco at the next election they can vote us out of office.”
A good answer! An honest though brutal one from a mere backbencher of the governing party.
Why do so many of us, most noticeably politicians in opposition, forget this solution to governmental policies and programs to which they object fiercely as disastrous for Canada?
The more discerning would probably give two sensible answers to this particular “why.” Firstly, by then (i.e. the ejection from office of the government) it will be too late; so much damage will have been done. Secondly, the track record of new governments in wiping out enacted programs (particularly on taxation) is not a good one even though the Mulroney government did dismantle its predecessor’s national energy program (NEP).
Suppose we assume something close to the current GST proposal is legislated in the next year, then look ahead and imagine the possible issues of the next federal election (which is probable in the fall of 1992, perhaps as late as the spring of 1993).
At this stage surely we must foresee the main rivalry to the Mulroney government being provided by the traditional rival, the Liberal party, led by Jean Chretien or Paul Martin, Jr. If Canadians would rid themselves of this prime minister and his government the Liberals seem the means to that end.
The New Democrats would need a quite improbable rebound to be a major factor in the election campaign. However, it is certain the party will campaign in ’92 or ’93 to close out the free trade agreement with the U.S. (It only needs six months notice).
It is as certain the NDP will reiterate its determination to abolish the GST and to restore the universality of old age security pensions broken by this year’s budget item described as “the pension-clawback” plan.
A most likely effect of NDP abomination of the GST and the FTA is a firming of Liberal rigor to save both Canada from the Americans and the worthy middle class and the elderly from the consequences of Michael Wilson’s tax follies.
The main lines to be taken by the government party in such a campaign are obvious. Surely Canadians want a government courageous enough to tackle the dreadful annual deficits and the dreaded rising debt load by holding the line on government spending, meeting tough, global competition by allying with the world’s largest economy and trusting economic advance to private sector capacities rather than to Crown corporations.
What has just been sketched is a likely scenario. One has to mention two matters which could confound it, relegating the FTA and the GST to secondary significance in ’92 or ’93.
An election fought largely on keeping or wiping out the GST and the FTA could be be pre-empted by either or both of:
1) A serious recession featuring a rising unemployment (say, hitting 9% or more) and rising inflation (say, 6% to 7%).
2) A constitutional uproar, even a constitutional crisis, when or if the Meech Lake accord is not confirmed and the premiers fail to agree on how to ameliorate it to suit the present premiers of Manitoba, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland.
A serious recession would not preclude a campaign to abolish the FTA and the GST. It would merely make them much mentioned incidentals in justifying grander undertakings to spend Canada back to good times.
A constitutional crisis running into an election campaign would be far more disturbing, especially one that was pushed by Quebec Premier Robert Bourassa on the grounds of English Canada’s refusal of the minimal assurances Quebec requires for participating in a federal state.
Such a crisis would likely supercede most other issues, if it should emerge. It will tempt the prime minister if Chretien succeeds Turner on an Trudeauesque, anti-Meech program. But the issue is so dangerous Mulroney may largely abjure it. The leaders of other parties, barring Dave Barrett, would not encourage its emergence.
This has been the scariest of all issues since the October crisis of 1970 when it become clear that Quebecers may vote to separate from Canada and no one here would use force to preserve the federation.
However tempting for the Liberals and New Democrats to run with the constitutional issue – for example by exploiting western feelings so fed up with Quebec – from the record there is a powerful imperative to compromise. Keep Canada going! It may mean fudging or downplaying what Quebec’s determinations have done and will do to the kind of Confederation most English-speaking Canadians would like.
The Darling response to dissident constituents that they may vote him and his party out of power over the GST is blunt. It may be durable and so prophetic.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, October 11, 1989
ID: 11811289
TAG: 198910110144
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

NO LIFE FOR A LADY

TEXT:
Are women in politics making a difference? A difference, distinguishable from men in politics in their content, style, and behavior?
The question slid innocuously into my mind after the first edition of new weekly item on CTV’s Canada AM where backbench MPs talk with Deborah McGregor. The first group – one from each party – was Ross Reid (PC St. John’s East), Mary Clancy (Lib. Halifax), and Lynn Hunter (NDP Saanich-Gulf Islands).
At first I suspected these choices meant a women’s ramp lurks somewhere in Canada AM.
Ross Reid, the male MP on the panel, is known as clever and quick from years as a high-level aide but he’s a slight man with a mild voice. He might suit the role of Casper Milquetoast. In contrast, the two female MPs at this chat session are Brobdingnagians to the Lilliputian Reid in stature and sound. They symbolize without any oral argument the view that women should be used for combat roles.
McGregor began with Reid, using a familiar, Barbara Frum-like line on what it’s like being a a new, backbench MP. And he, in most modest fashion, replied briefly about his discovery of situations and problems he had neither known nor envisaged.
Then came the turns of Clancy and Hunter with this rather “feely” opener and what Reid had done with it. It was striking how each in turn, immediately, shifted the subject from generality of impression to making partisan points.
Clancy was off and running, stressing the insightful criticisms, the superior understanding and the dedication to the needs of ordinary Canadians of the Liberal party.
If anything, Hunter was more righteous as the zealous partisan than Clancy. She added the elevated moral worth so intrinsic to New Democrat partisanship.
You may cherish the pervasiveness of militant partisanship. Some do. Or you may simply see it as inseparable or impossible to eradicate from the stock tedium of our federal politicians. Whatever your view few things are more certain than that our politics back to Confederation and further have had the staples of partisan language, beliefs, and mouthed myths. It’s been my party or our party as durably right; the other party, the other parties, enduringly wrong.
Some 60 to 70 years ago, as changes in attitudes and the franchises were bringing Canadian women the vote and into electoral politics as candidates, there was a widely held assumption, advanced in particular by the female leaders of the fight for such rights, that women would bring new and distinctive views, manners and tone to what had been so long a masculine preserve.
Perhaps women might have been different in a partisan sense if they had begun and continued in politics with their own party, a women’s party . . . if that had been possible then. (Now of course it would be possible.) And so the first and subsequent female MPs became members of parties, from Agnes McPhail (1921) on through to the 38 women elected in 1988. Today there are six females in the federal cabinet, following in the track of the first one, Ellen Fairclough (1957).
Before my attitudes are misconstrued, it is good we have women MPs. It is well we shall have many more from elections to come until something like the ratios present in law and medical schools are replicated in the House of Commons – i.e., more female MPs than male MPs just as more females than males are graduating as lawyers and doctors.
My observations pinpoint the consequences or lack of them for federal politics and political behavior of women MPs. Whatever emphasis female MPs may bring for issues like daycare or abortion or military preparedness, their effect on partisanship and stock partisan behavior has been and will be minimal. One might even argue from the quick rise to national recognition of highly combative, dedicatedly partisan MPs like Flora MacDonald, Sheila Copps and the late Judy LaMarsh that female MPs take more quickly and absolutely to partisanship than do male MPs.
Mary Clancy and Lynn Hunter are typical, not untypical in their fierce expression of their faith in their own party and their criticisms and contempt of the rival parties.
Of course, there’s nothing remarkable in the obvious – that female MPs behave just as male MPs do. It means, however, one cannot hope for a diminution or eventual surcease in the excessive and usually adolescent partisanship in public as we get more females in the House.
On assuming office in 1984 Brian Mulroney made it clear he would seek to return our politics to civility, to courtesy. It struck me as silly. There has hardly been a parliamentary golden age rife in general politeness and respectful attention for the opinions of others. It seemed naive to think he could invoke one, particularly because he had a huge majority and one of the opposition remnants had to fight hard, almost blindly, just to survive. And so came the Rat Pack and as partisan a Parliament as memory recalls.
Party politics requires loyalty to leader, secrecy in the caucus, defence of colleagues and attacks on all rivals. Mary Clancy and Lynn Hunter fill the requirements absolutely, so do almost all the other female MPs. Women constitute about 12% of the membership in this House but by my rough estimate, provide double that in the partisanship of slur, invective and innuendo.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, October 09, 1989
ID: 11810754
TAG: 198910090058
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

NEW GG IS A DECENT CHAP

TEXT:
How genuine were the tributes given in the House to Ray Hnatyshyn by his former peers at the word he’d follow Jean Sauve as Governor General? They were real.
For years the adjectives for the former MP from Saskatoon have been “nice” and “decent” and “good-natured.” It’s been said of him by colleagues and reporters that he was too nice for his own or his party’s political good.
Of the four former MPs to be appointed Governor General, Hnatyshyn, (the seventh Canadian GG) has been more popular on the Hill than the others. Madame Sauve was too aloof and class conscious to be cherished. Ed Schreyer was not s much liked or disliked but burdened by his so-earnest highmindedness. Roly Michener was well respected; as House Speaker he was fair, but, when combined with his wife, there was too much dignity for warm and easy exchange.
There is little point in wondering whether the PM considered or may have even asked one of his other defeated cabinet ministers about the vice-regal office. To me, probably to thousands, Flora MacDonald would have carried such duty very well.

After a fortnight of sittings the House seems somewhat less raucous than for several years. When I mentioned this seeming fall-off in the noisiest and meanest of the barracking to Joe Comuzzi and Dennis Mills, two Liberal MPs who entered the House in 1988, they agreed and said it wasn’t happenstance. There had been much bruiting among newer MPs over the low repute of the House and MPs among the people. This has forged a low-key entente to curb the extremes. Had I missed the metamorphosis in Sheila Copps? No longer does she shriek, neither when standing and speaking nor from her seat.
I had thought this change came because of Copps’ intention to run for the party leadership and a realization she was seen as the national, leather-lunged harpy, outmatching the CLC’s shrew, Shirley Carr. However, her junior colleagues think her mutation owes more to her accepting that most of her colleagues were embarrassed by her.

Bob Rae has strong reasons in recent, hard troubles of his family not to seek the onerous task of leading the NDP federally. Grant that, but his decision not to run makes it even harder to forecast the winner. Why? Because a fair sample of delegates and union leaders was canvassed on Rae’s chances. The findings indicated two complementary factors: (1) most Western delegates were chary on committing to Rae or to any of the declared candidates; (2) if a probable majority of the delegates was uncommitted as the convention opened Rae would have had to win by floor performances, a dicey prospect for a far from rousing or magnetic politician.

Several outsiders who watch House proceedings a lot through cable TV have asked me why Lorne Nystrom and Nelson Riis are not in the NDP race. Asked why, the answers have been that each is much more handsome than most politicians and seems as assured as he is good-looking.
The question is made even harder because I am sure both these young but veteran MPs have recently had the urge and the ambition to be party leader. I have similar hunches on them both. Neither is personally confident in his own capacity to analyze and project issues well and with sincerity. Further, each realizes that despite many chances to do so he has not created a personal clan or an array of disciples within either the caucus or in the vital, non-elected cadre of the party. Although the last point may also be made about several of the MPs who are in the race, such a lack doesn’t much bother a supreme egoist or a one-issue zealot.

While the anglo media have been intent on the NDP race and the “brutality” injected into it by the unilingual insouciant, Dave Barrett, the French media is giving more attention to the Liberal race, in particular to the posture which Jean Chretien must soon reveal regarding the Meech Lake accord and the “distinct society” clause.
The issue is dicey and the stakes are large. Does Chretien take the Pierre Trudeau line and win acclaim in English Canada but alienate most of the Quebec Liberal MPs and the Liberal premier of Quebec? The question shapes toward a meeting next weekend at Sainte-Foy of the general council of the federal Liberal party of Quebec.
Will Frances Fox chair the gathering through a long agenda without the bursting open of the Meech Lake issue? A full turnout of the council will run to several hundred people. Certainly, it will include protagonists of both Chretien and Paul Martin, Jr.. Trudeau loyalists will be there. So will some Liberal MPs who are forthright backers of the accord.
Consider this odd trio: The dean of the House, Marcel Prud’Homme; the young Turk, Jean Lapierre; and the Grits’ Don Blenkarn, large, plain, open Jean-Claude Malepart. All three have said they are determined to know where Chretien stands. They want a resolution from the council in favor of Meech and the constitutional position taken by Quebec premier Robert Bourassa.
As Malepart has put it, he’s no longer willing “to bow before the anglos.” Remember, he is a federal MP and he says the Bourassa triumph “proves the Quebec Liberals, like the PQ, can govern without the anglophone majority.”

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, October 08, 1989
ID: 11810417
TAG: 198910080109
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C6
ILLUSTRATION: caricature of Peter Worthington
COLUMN: in Ottawa
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

WORTHINGTON STORY IS BULL

During the three “news” days between the Ottawa Citizen’s bannered front page story by Peter Calamai that “SUN EDITOR WAS INFORMER FOR U.S.” and the denial by the Ottawa Sun’s Peter Worthington, there was more horrified buzz among those who work in the media than I can remember since Southam cut Allan Fotheringham a few years ago.
Perhaps it was as an old hand on the Hill, maybe through my long run with the Sun, that I was repeatedly approached for comment in those three days.
A TV reporter, perhaps 30, asked: “How do you explain such reprehensible actions?” A print reporter wanted to how how I felt about working with or for such a traitor to journalistic ethics.
It seemed implicit in some reactions that the Sun papers must do something about this fellow, Worthington. Being a rabid right winger might explain his wrongdoing but not excuse it.
With the scorn for “the informer” went satisfaction his perfidy had been unmasked by such a revered “investigative” reporter as Peter Calamai. Among several suggestions I heard was the idea that the Parliamentary Press Gallery might issue a critical statement on Worthington’s actions.
What bothered me more than the blanket acceptance that Worthington had acted as an informer in Canada for the FBI was that in response to my comments about Worthington they knew so little about him or about the Cold War. It was understandable they bought the Calamai story. He is the top reporter of our largest chain. He had detailed quite telling evidence from FBI memos which identifies Worthington as the informant from whom the U.S. agency got names of Canadians who could be politically subversive.
No one but those who knew Worthington closely wondered why the great investigator hadn’t held the story a few days more in order to have Worthington’s response to the evidence. In the face of the story it was impossible for me to say to the horrified that it was bull.
The positive point I could make was that in a dozen years of having Worthington as my editor in which we had some disagreements in argument about ideology – e.g., on whether certain organizations were Communist fronts – he had never even hinted I should change or cut anything in my columns nor did he ever prompt on what I might write about.
In short, Worthington respected my individuality and right to express my viewpoints although he thought many of them were insipid or balderdash. To me this was evidence of his journalistic integrity, especially as several of those shocked by his “treason” work for the Toronto Star) where their copy must often fit the Honderich view.
Aside from their blanket label of Worthington as a reactionary, few of those horrified by his deeds knew much about him. For example, none seemed to know he had volunteered for the Canadian infantry sent to fight with the United Nations’ forces in Korea in the war to stem the communist takeover of that country. Is this worth noting? Surely both the willingness to fight for one’s country on a matter of international principle, carrying it through to battle is still to a man’s credit.
While a few knew that the government of Canada had charged Worthington a few years ago with possessing and revealing security and intelligence information of the state (he was not guilty!) none knew that as a correspondent for the Toronto Telegram Worthington had served in Moscow and created a diplomatic incident of some flare and importance.
His subsequent, global reporting for years on the long contest between the East and West, along with his fascination for those Canadians and organizations he considered “fellow travellers” were consistent features in his career.
In his recent book, our ambassador in Moscow at that time, Robert Ford, has written that Worthington “had difficulty with the Soviet authorities and was constantly accused of writing libellous and inflammatory stories . . . ”.
As Ford explains, these difficulties “ . . . turned into something deadly serious” when Worthington’s official translator defected.
According to Ford, Worthington “wasn’t entirely innocent . . . of Soviet accusations against him, the Telegram and the embassy for complicity” in the woman’s defection. Her husband, it turned out, was a lieutenant-colonel in the KGB.
In the jargon of the Cold War, Worthington was “a warrior.” His views, however out of journalistic fashion now, were not so two decades ago. They have always been in the open.
It’s a shame Calamai and the Southam chain did not give him the open chance to deny the “informer” charge before it was printed.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, October 06, 1989
ID: 11809860
TAG: 198910060157
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

PUTTING VIA IN PERSPECTIVE

TEXT:
The VIA Rail cuts and its sidebar news that there shall be a royal commission on passenger transportation for the 21st century deserve some perspectives from our past.
It’s always been the case that more proposals and cherishable images tumble forth from Canadians about transportation and its more recent associate, communications, than any other subject. Yes, more than about the other staples of political argument through Canada’s history. These have been: Our dualism, French-English; dealing with the U.S.; where lies responsibility for economic leadership, particularly about unemployment; and our federal Constitution.
Of course, the issue rising which will override all of these and subsume transport to it is environmentalism.
Our scatter over vast distances explains why we have been the most indefatigable trippers, shippers and phoners in the world; why when so much we have and have had is second or third class by world standards – say, in culture – our record of innovation and building in transport began with the French fur traders. Since the conquest of New France it has successively fixed on harbors, canals, telegraphs, railways, roads, telephones, airports, radio and television.
The consequences of our obsession with moving ourselves and exchanging information have been splendid, comparatively speaking, in terms of the modernity, availability and safety of passenger transport in Canada. Remember Canadians are the greatest, long-distance travellers in the world and we once had the longest mileage of rail passenger routes in the world.
Two of the longest, most comfortable “on-time” journeys by train I have made in the past decade were from Leningrad to Moscow and from Harbin in North China to Beijing. At the end of each trip some fellow Canadians were asking why Canada doesn’t have rail passenger service like this any more.
The best answer is in what we have that the Russians and Chinese do not: Widespread ownership of cars and a net of hard-surfaced, high-speed roads for their use; pervasive bus routes touching to almost every village; and a far-flung air service which is safe, economical, and usable for most who want to travel.
It was back in the mid-1950s that the number of our air passengers surpassed rail travellers. Then there were some 12.5 million rail passengers a year. In the past few years the rail numbers have stabilized at 6.5 million. The air numbers are still rising. Remember that in the 1950s there were infinitely more passenger trains, service and employees than today, Canadians forsook rail for other modes for other reasons than high fares and poor or infrequent service.
Today something like 87 out of 100 Canadians make their trips of over 100 km by car. Slightly less than two out of 100 choose to go by rail or ship. Travellers use the other main public modes of bus and air six and five times out of 100.
Much research on Canadians’ travel interests and choices has led to conclusions which further daunt protagonists of sustaining rail passenger service by government. Even if there were much more frequent train service and much quicker trip times, the share of the passenger market going to rail would increase slightly. And what would seem to enable a modest share increase – i.e., more comfortable, quieter, luxurious service – requires the same immense capital spending on new trains and improved track and roadbeds which is required for frequent, high-speed, on-time service. Such trains are offered in France and Japan and are heavily used. Why not here? France and Japan have much higher population densities and kinder climates.
To those who argue Canadian railroaders have left passenger service derelict and lagged lamentably in technical innovations similar to Japan’s and France’s with Ottawa letting it happen I suggest they remember the immense capital and inventiveness our railways have poured into meeting the challenge of trucking competition for freight by better ballasting, heavier rails, and larger, safer, more easily maintained rolling stock.
In effect, the big railroads, CP and CN, bailed out of the rail passenger business in the early ’60s when they realized new trains (like the Canadian) and high-powered marketing schemes were not stemming the flow to air, bus, and auto. Eventually Ottawa acceded to this bail-out by creating VIA Rail for passengers with everyone accepting that VIA would never pay for itself, that it would have to be heavily subsidized. Within a few years of VIA’s creation, Pierre Trudeau’s government (1981) tried to slow the growing annual burden of subsidies for VIA Rail by reducing its most unremunerative and least-used routes. The uproar, led by Tories and NDPers, was as noisy as that today.
The scale-down of VIA Rail begun under the Trudeau government has continued and the question which should be asked about Wednesday’s cuts, given a federal government with a huge annual deficit and an awesome annual debt burden in interest costs is surely this: Why not go all the way? Kill VIA Rail now. Save hundreds of millions a year more than these cuts will save.
I foresee this will be the royal commission’s advice, coming some time after 1991. The sentiments and nostalgia so many of us feel for trains simply runs counter to now-engrained tripping practices.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, October 04, 1989
ID: 11809246
TAG: 198910040150
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

WILSON’S JOB APPEARS SAFE

TEXT:
You might assume from the outraged people you see or read about that the nation is seething over the finance minister’s goods and services tax (GST) proposals. You may also assume the government will either much amend or drop the program – and Michael Wilson, its sponsor. Neither is likely. Don’t be deceived by the noise.
A review of the hearings on the program being held by the House finance committee chaired by Don Blenkarn does not reveal a bill in deep trouble. It is true almost every brief is critical of some aspect of the program, but through the hearings runs a vein which accepts there shall be a GST and the conception itself is not bad. These are a few impressions I take from the proceedings thus far.
1) Blenkarn is very much in charge of the committee as chairman and clearly better informed on the proposals and about taxation in general than his 13 colleagues.
2) Remarkably, few of the opposition MPs seem to know the proposals in depth despite a dozen or so hours of direct exposure to those in the department of finance who have worked up the GST. The ablest seems to be Doug Young, a Liberal likely to go for the leadership.
3) The impressive criticism of the GST is essentially on the immense increases in complexity it will introduce, particularly for small businesses.
4) The major concessions to the array of criticism which the government has received through the committee and otherwise, are likely to be: A shaving of the 9% rate of the tax, perhaps by 1 1/2 % or 2%; and an extension of the freedom from the tax for groceries, junk food and soft drinks.
The opposition critics and many who speak for unions keep insisting Wilson has suffered a deep slide in his credibility and acceptability as minister of finance. An insider who reads the polling done for the ministry on issues and personalities scoffs at this. He insists Wilson’s reputation for integrity and honesty remains high and ahead of the prime minister’s.
Whether this is true or not Wilson keeps his equilibrium well. I checked with five Tory MPs from across the country on their perception of caucus opinion on Wilson and his prospects. Even the two who believe there must be major changes in the tax proposals see Wilson as staying with the finance task for at least another 18 months. One asked me who else in the cabinet or on the backbench could replace Wilson and carry as much or more credibility in the country. At my suggestions of Barbara McDougall or John Crosbie or Harvie Andre, he kept saying, “Be serious!”
Wilson seems safe in office so long as the PM stands by him and does not ask him to make major changes in the GST.

It was odd that Don Mazankowski, the deputy prime minister, wrote to those MPs who chair House committees, asking them to appraise the programs within the provenance of their committees for cuts in spending. Even more odd, Mazankowski’s letter never got to the chairman of the one committee always charged with scrutiny of spending programs.
The chairman Mazankowski overlooked is not a stranger in the House. Len Hopkins (Lib., Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke), who chairs the public accounts committee, has been an MP for 24 years.
In 1958 it was set as a rule that henceforth the chairman of this committee would be from the official opposition. Since then, working in close concert with the auditor general of the day, the public accounts committee has made more news and earned more public respect than any other committee.
It’s possible more than mere oversight led the deputy PM to ignore Hopkins. There are rumblings from both Liberal and NDP MPs on the committee that something they see as negative, even nasty, is crystallizing in the ministry toward their work. It may be because of recent criticisms by Ken Dye, the auditor general. Whatever . . . at this stage it looks like stalling. Someone on high is using the Tory majority on the committee to slow its work and narrow its scope.
Hopkins has neither been told nor tipped that the ministry is unhappy with his work as chairman. He senses there may be a mind-set by Mazankowski, the PM’s chief House strategist, to keep the committee away from anything controversial until major bills like that on unemployment insurance or the one to reach the House before Christmas on the goods and services tax are either through or have exhausted their critics. Stan Hovdebo, an NDP MP from Saskatchewan, has been on the committee for a decade. Like Hopkins, he is getting impatient, bothered by the obduracy of Tory MPs on setting and following a clear agenda of committee work for the next half-year.

Here, as recently as two days ago, I had both Bob Rae and Dave Barrett as at 4-1 to win the NDP leadership. The response my odds has drawn makes me put Rae at 3-1, Barrett back to 6-1.
The Torontonians want Rae. The NDP’s royal family, headed by Stephen Lewis, wants Rae. Bob White wants Rae. The Quebec remnant wants Rae. So unless a remarkable caucus collusion firms up against Rae he has to be the big favorite of the race. One who works for one of the longer shots was sardonic on Rae’s chances. A factor which might kill Rae, he says, is the realization Rae will bring his adviser-mentor, Robin Sears, with him from Queen’s Park. Sears is not a well-loved.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, October 02, 1989
ID: 11808704
TAG: 198910020114
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

BRIAN WINS DOUBLEHEADER

Brian Mulroney’s double-pick to lead the CBC – Patrick Watson, chairman; Gerard Veilleux, president – is washing well with partisan politicians.
It’s seen as canny, a defuser of the liberally-minded. In the ministry and upper mandarinate, Veilleux’s admired for judgment and energy. Watson’s appointment coasts on his earned repute as an excellent on-air showman and ambitious producer.
Is there queasiness anywhere? Yes, notably within the CBC, among different sorts. Firstly, those who have worked with or around Watson acknowledge his brilliance but fear his itch for grandeur and his notorious confusions as an administrator. Secondly, some think the odds of two heads working well are poor, and strains will be exasperated because Veilleux is more trusted by the ministry and the mandarins.
It was a sad commentary on CBC competence that the interviews with the new leaders which I saw or heard were so poorly done, particularly those of Valerie Pringle and Barbara Frum. It was so pointless and self-serving to harp about CBC budget cuts. Frum was ill-informed to insist Veilleux had to know the reasons. Who could blame Veilleux for adroit stalling or for Watson flannelling like a politician?
No questions were asked vis-a-vis Radio Canada-CBC or the roles of CBC Radio or CBC International or of any awareness by the duo of the critical analysis so thoroughly done recently on salient policy issues by Pierre Juneau. However, at this season some of us feel kindly to the CBC, even if its so-called stars are lousy interviewers.
As one grows used to Newsworld, the all-day news and information channel, the more useful it becomes for personal consulting and up-dating, and for its feel of the country.
It may swing a lot of us from both the metropolitan fixations of central Canada and the assumption that “gut” Canadian news must be political.
Yes, much of the actuality coverage of inquiries like Dubin’s or the Dryden air crash is as draggy as the televised House. Yes, the sports coverage is pitiful. Weather data should be more frequent, perhaps in ribbon form at the foot of the screen.
Aside from such carping, the business reports in the evening are splendidly done, well-paced, with guests who have something to say and get the chance to do so. Already one may contrast the warm personality and maturity of Whit Fraser in Calgary or the edge and presence of Jane Gilbert in Halifax with some of the nits of the Journal and CBC-TV news. Don Newman’s “capital” reports from Ottawa come with remarkable alacrity and good judgment.
I open with Watson-Veilleux by suggesting they consider transferring half the Journal’s stupendous budget to Newsworld.

One prayer to common sense may be answered. Few new and extravagant policies have been more insulting than multiculturalism to both the common sense and their understanding of Canada of the 84% of Canadians who are not immigrants. (Of the 16% who are immigrants, half came to Canada before 1967.) At last a few MPs are speaking out.
One Liberal, John Nunziata, was forceful last week in the House debate against a bill to create a full department of multiculturalism. He’s native-born although his name fits him among so-called ethnic Canadians. Nunziata also represents a Toronto riding where 36% of the people are immigrants.
That high proportion explains why the first offical approbation for multiculturalism as a policy came from Metro Liberals. Senator Keith Davey and his mastermind, Jim Coutts, and then MPs like the Polish ethnic, Stanley Haidasz, saw multiculturalism as a guarantee of Grit seats in Toronto. In short, the Toronto Liberal tail wagged the Canadian dog.
The Davis Tories were quick to see the dangers. They riposted so well it opened up the era of all-party obeisance to a silly, impractical conception. Canada was no longer a bilingual, bicultural country but a multilingual, multicultural one.
After a dozen years the conventional wisdom which sings the glories of multicult has at last a few discordant songsters. More MPs may get courage up and speak what they feel. It’s my opinion that if Mulroney dared allow a secret caucus ballot on going on with multiculturalism and its new bureaucracies, the vote would run about 120 for phase-out, 49 for going on. The PM knows this; so do most PC MPs.
As more Canadians realize it’s neither racist nor anti-immigrant to believe a country cannot go forward with the pretence it is ideally and in practical programs ready to replicate here the cultures and languages of the globe. To those who says this is not the root aim of multiculturalism, one must that if it is not, multiculturalism IS a hoax.

My early tip list of odds on the Grit leadership race (e.g., Chretien at 3 to 2) has drawn much comment. Some want my list for the NDP race. This is harder; there is no Chretien with a big edge. Nothing ventured, etc . . . here are my NDP odds, premised on an entry soon by Bobby Rae.
Take either Rae or Dave Barrett at 4 to 1.; take the MP trio of Audrey McLaughlin, Steven Langdon, and Ian Waddell, each at 8 to 1; take MPs Simon de Jong and Howard McCurdy, each at 50 to l. The more promising longer shots to me are Langdon and Waddell.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, October 01, 1989
ID: 11808436
TAG: 198910010103
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C3
COLUMN: In Ottawa

SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

WHO REALLY SPEAKS FOR CANADIANS?

TEXT:
Who speaks for you on matters of your particular public interest? Some recent assertions by those who purport to speak for “seniors” and for the “women” of Canada have set me fuming.
The matter of who really speaks for whom first bothered me 30 years ago because of arguments by the late Graham Spry and his Canadian Radio League. It aggravated me even more in the early 1960s as the Canadian Labor Congress emerged as a chief sponsor of the NDP.
Spry was a lovely man. The purposes of his league were ones I shared. As an MP then, however, I could read the currents of opinion among my constituents. These did not match well with Spry’s purposes or with his figures. His league’s roster was small but it had a clutch of institutional members. By adding the membership of outfits like the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, the Trades and Labor Congress, and several women’s associations, Spry would present his arguments to our broadcasting committee as those of seven million Canadians, then over half the adult population.
MPs, the government, certainly the CBC whose cause the league was defending, and most editorial opinion gave Spry an audience and respect which matched his claims. I knew, however, much as I admired Spry, that his claim was hollow. Few of my constituents who were members of the institutions supporting the league knew it existed. Further, the majority of constituency opinion was not pro-CBC but anti-CBC.
The CLC as sponsor of the NDP was even more of a personal agitation. I was one of the CCFers who was against the CCF’s dissolution in favor of a new party made up, as David Lewis used to say, “of organized labor, farmers, and the liberally minded.”
In making the case for the new party, sponsors like Lewis and Stanley Knowles would point to the membership of unions within the CLC of well over a million, and adding spouses, projected a large boost in votes to come. Then (as today) this was a vapid argument. Firstly, as an MP I knew most unionists in my working-class riding who were pro-CCF were against the new party idea, largely because they knew most of their fellows who voted Grit and Tory would keep on doing so, whatever union bosses in Ottawa and Toronto declared. Secondly, the mere factor of backing from union big-wigs with their alleged millions of votes would hurt the party with farmers and a lot of white collar voters.
Today, One Voice claims to speak for the some three million seniors getting the old age pension. One Voice says they are enraged at the “clawback” which would tax pensions paid to seniors who have over $50,000 a year income. As a senior in this category I believe whatever one’s age you should pay the same income tax as everyone else in your income range. Some I know in the same fix agree. Certainly, One Voice does not speak for all, perhaps not even a majority of seniors.
More and more I meet women who object to the feminist organizations, official and otherwise, “speaking” for them. Consider this single, silly assertion from the latest feminist tract taxpayers have paid for, the new 330-page book, One Step Forward Or Two Steps Back?, by the Ottawa-sponsored Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women:
“Yet the fact is that women, the majority of Canada’s population, are severely oppressed.”
Utter nonsense from a tiny cadre of feminists speaking for 100,000 out of 13 million women.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, September 29, 1989
ID: 11807894
TAG: 198909290134
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

ANOTHER OPENING, …ANOTHER SHOW

TEXT:
The return of the House question period was most welcome to the media people based in Ottawa. One could see in the MPs’ first day back that what the House does for most of its time both its members and the media ignore.
The House opened at 11 a.m. Immediately Speaker John Fraser allowed a debate on privilege. John Turner, Ed Broadbent and some of their backers argued for two hours that the rights of MPs and of Parliament as a whole were wronged by federal ads in the press on the goods and services tax plan which indicated the reform would come into effect on Jan. 1, 1991. What an affront! Parliament had neither been seized with details of the tax nor approved it.
Fraser is a procedural latitudinarian. He let the opposition MPs, Turner in particular, rage and range far past the gist of the alleged abuse of privilege. This furious attack and the low-key defence by the ministry ended at 1 p.m. and lunch. What the debate did, of course, was underline the theme of the day for politics and its coverage. The nation seething at Wilson and his “money cow.”
When question period came at 2 p.m., the GST was prominent in the statement section of the period and dominant in the question-answer section which ended at 3 p.m. The public galleries were far from jammed. There was a fair turnout in the actual press gallery of about 40 reporters.
On the second floor of Parliament’s centre block there is an apron about 50 feet wide and 40 feet deep fronting the main, south doors of the House of Commons chamber. By 3 p.m. it was packed with people, most of them well below middle age. There were nine video cameras, each with a crew of two or three. A dozen radio reporters had mikes on long stems. There were nationally known faces – Anna-Maria Tremonti and Wendy Mesley of the CBC, Craig Oliver of CTV and Global’s budget hound, Doug Small.
Shortly after 3 p.m., as the main antagonists of question period like Michael Wilson and Ed Broadbent emerged with a few minions onto the apron and into the lights, the media pack surged and pressed. Two, three, even four politicians, spouted as cameras whirred. By a rough count somewhere between 90 and 100 “press” were milling on the apron. More than half were cameramen and lighting technicians. Mainly it was a TV and radio mob. Less than a dozen from the print medium shuffled at the edges of the circles set by mikes and cameras.
The mob scene on the apron lasted almost half an hour. The hot topic, of course, was the GST. A few queries were on what might happen that night in Quebec. As the kafuffle eased, the technicians winding wires and carting off step-ladders, the TV reporters flitting with their tape cartridges, I went into the outer lobby of the chamber. The House was continuing with its chief business: Debating legislation.
During question period almost 200 MPs were present. Now there were about 35 left. There were two people in the actual press gallery.
What was on in the House? The minister of forestry, Frank Oberle, was leading off the second reading debate on creating a federal department of forestry. Perhaps 10 of his audience seemed attentive.
It is fair to say that the contrast I have drawn is unjust.
Why should those of the media or even the MPs be much interested in a discussion focused on enacting a forestry department? Had not the government been promising it for five years? Did it not table the bill late last June? Surely those who spoke for the Grits and the NDP had issued critiques of some sort then?
In short, the forestry bill was old stuff – dull stuff. It has hardly a smidgin of the contentiousness in the GST. Even foresters and pulp and paper executives are inured to the profound disinterest of the media and the general populace in the scenarios of our largest, most remunerative industry.
Last Monday and Tuesday it happened that almost nothing was carried in the media, particularly by national TV and radio, about the forestry debate or Oberle’s presentation. Nor was there anything broadcast on the speeches by seven MPs which came on the second day of debate. A few of the contributions were shoddy, but not all. Anyone who reads what Oberle or Jim Fulton of the NDP or Bud Bird, the Tory MP from Fredericton, said would get a good appreciation of our forestry situation and what may or might be done to better it.
In effect, hardly anything rippled out from the House to anyone anywhere about the discussion on creating a federal department to serve one of our largest economic and environmental interests. What did ripple in loud volume and with much repetition was charge and response on the GST, the topic both the media and the opposition savants had taken as the issue of the day and the week, perhaps of the year.
In mid-week two short items in some dailies noted the laments of several lobby group leaders that almost no one was considering the massive changes in unemployment insurance being examined by a House committee because the media and the politicians are obsessed with the GST proposal.
Which is the fraud? The parliamentary discussions on forestry or on UI to which so few pay attention? Or is it the heated fixation and reiterations in the media and question period on the tax?
Or, is neither a fraud? Perhaps the media and politicians can only handle one thing at a time?

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, September 27, 1989
ID: 12938372
TAG: 198909270142
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THE SEEDS OF DISCONTENT

TEXT:
Vanquishing without risk; winning without glory: So went the editorial lead about Robert Bourassa’s election victory in the French language daily Le Droit, and it catches the premier’s fizzless, cautious competence.
What was the popular journalistic verdict in Ontario when John Robarts won re-election by 42 seats over his closest rival in 1967, when Bill Davis won by 58 seats in 1971 and 37 in 1977, or when David Peterson won re-election by 75 seats in 1985? Surely it was on how magnificent the victory, how symbolic the premier of Ontario.
But Premier Bourassa wins by 63 seats over the PQ’s Jacques Parizeau, a far more luminous person, and gets slim respect and small applause from his own people. Yet he bears his win and what honor is given grudgingly – with the same kind of reasonable, unemotional responses as he did at his first win, a romp in 1970, or at his brutal defeat in 1976, or on completing his amazing recovery and return to office in 1985.
Before anglo viewers of the results could digest the victory their commentators and interviewers were plumbing its significance for the Meech Lake accord, for relations between Bourassa and Brian Mulroney, even for the leadership race of the federal Liberal party or the pitiful NDP showing.
In switching from CBC Newsworld and Ch. 12 Montreal to the two French networks at work on the results, a difference in emphasis became apparent between anglophone and francophone presentations.
The anglo interests and apprehensions were for the future of federalism, for Canada writ large. For the francophones, such interests and concerns were trailers, not quite ignored, possible corollaries, and with scant worries that the Independentistes were garnering some 40% of the popular votes.
There was also a difference of degree in both the amount and the earnestness of reaction to the feature of the results which was shaking a durable assumption in much of Canada, including Parliament Hill. It figuratively bowled me over that the English-language voters of Montreal would show the fire of courage and the unity to coalesce in strength within their neighborhoods and vote against the Liberal party.
The four seats won by the Equality Party may be the herald of much more vigor and far more honesty in the debate which has become truly national over language rights.
Ideally, it would seem one’s right as a Canadian to use and be served as a citizen in either language is an individual right. Unfortunately, an individual’s right to such a basic counts for little unless he or she is on the ground somewhere with lots of associations, able to assert and maintain a “group” right.
In the heyday of Rene Levesque we heard about “the White Rhodesians” or “the fat pigeons” of Westmount. Years before that in pursuit of a hobby interest I had plowed through files of the Montreal Gazette from the 1820s to the 1930s. One had to notice that although the anglos of Montreal had dominated the running of the city and the provincial governments in their economic affairs almost to 1914, their gradual eclipse, first in numbers, then in offices, had left them with enormous economic influence and comfortable lives in their own enclaves.
In this retreat from open exercise of political command much of anglo economic control remained, along with high living standards, and their own institutions such as schools, hospitals, clubs, etc. In the 1950s a president of Domtar assured me how easy it was to get “a sensible understanding” with any premier of the province or any mayor of Montreal . . . privately, of course.
Levesque and his PQ rose largely out of frustration at such anglo suzerains. Naturally the anglos took the strongest political alternative which was the Liberals, both provincially and federally. During their long hegemony of influence in city and province Montreal’s anglos seemed unaware that slowly their “Commercial empire of the St. Lawrence” was fading. Toronto was superceding Montreal as of prime economic importance in Canada outside Quebec.
The Montrealers let the significance of their own political weight in Ottawa slip away, Recall how John Turner, first elected in Montreal in 1962, jumped for an Ottawa seat in 1968.
Most Montreal anglos simply voted so that they were always part of the majority party of their country. Wasn’t the E in PET the Scottish Elliott? It became the literal case that in Quebec few outside the West Island of Montreal gave a hoot for them, and certainly anglos beyond Quebec did not.
It’s late in the day. The community with four of their own in the National Assembly is aging and not rich in young people. Ethnic groups of Montreal do have the kids. Potentially, if more of the ethnics are won toward “equality” one could foresee a dozen provincial seats and six or seven federal seats for those defending and regaining the community and individual rights of English-speaking Montrealers.
Don’t sneer at a mere four MNAs. A cause led by a tough-minded, passionate minority within a majority which has come to take its authority for granted could shake politics far beyond Montreal. It’s not been a secret that francophone voters, federally and in provinces outside Quebec, stick together. If the anglo model extends, in Quebec, and then beyond . . . gosh, who knows?
Bourassa has four years to court back the anglos. We’ll see.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, September 25, 1989
ID: 12938135
TAG: 198909250069
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

A WHO’S WHO OF COMMITTEES

TEXT:
Two committees of the House have been meeting in recent weeks.
A legislative (i.e., an ad hoc) committee of 14 members, chaired by Gus Mitges, for 17 years a PC MP from Bruce-Grey, has held hearings outside Ottawa on Bill C-21, which makes major amendments in entitlement times and training provisions of our unemployment insurance (UI) system. The committee is required by instructions from the House to finish hearings and report the bill back by early October.
A standing (i.e., a permanent) committee of 14, chaired by Don Blenkarn, for 12 years a PC MP from Mississauga South, has been holding hearings in and outside Otttawa on the “technical paper” published by Michael Wilson on the GST.
Most work of the 20 standing committees, the several “joint” committees with the Senate (e.g., on official languages) and of the various legislative committees which form and serve only to deal with a specific bill, is not as contentious or given the national attention of the UI and the GST proposals.
As for the chairing of committees, the strong contrast between Mitges and Blenkarn indicates how hard it is to read a pattern in the appointments by those who run House affairs for the government. All but one standing committee (public accounts) is chaired by MPs who support the government.
Picking chairs for committees is the chore of House Leader Doug Lewis, chief whip Jim Hawkes, and Deputy Prime Minister Don Mazankowski, with the PM advising. For legislative committees the pick is from a panel of a score of experienced MPs from all three caucuses. Here the House leaders and whips of the opposition parties are consulted.
In some ways the choices for standing committees are harder than for cabinet because more feelings may be hurt, more prides affronted. The process involves a mix of considerations:
a) The MP should have a modicum of ability, including clear indications that as chairperson he or she will not play the fool or the partisan bully and embarrass his colleagues.
b) Gender comes into it, although it may seem tokenism that this year just one committee (industry, science, etc.) is chaired by a woman, Barbara Sparrow, a nurse from Calgary.
c) Seniority, with some complementary record of interest in House work, is a serious consideration.
d) Balance in both language and regional terms must be watched, in particular the sensitivities of the government’s Quebec MPs.
e) Occasionally a chairmanship is a sop or a deflator of anger and frustration for not being a minister or to divert from sowing dissension in caucus.
This year two personalities who chair House committees have had much notice beyond Ottawa. Firstly, Blenkarn’s rollicking, opinionated, incautious presiding at the finance committee; secondly, given Felix Holtmann’s rough-hewn, rural pugnacity, the oddity of his choice for the communications, culture, etc. committee.

Observers wonder why Wilson and Mulroney risk a loose cannon like Blenkarn. It strikes them as injudicious, yet the same observers range from outrage to bemusement that for the intellectually sensitive mine field of culture, the Tories chose a rube like Holtmann. It must be to show brute indifference to artists, musicians, etc. and their national fundament, the CBC.
The hardest, least commented upon choices have been from the host of comparatively green Tories from Quebec. All they have are three standing committee chairmanships. They do have 14 of the vice-chairmanships. Chairmen in training! And, don’t forget, 12 cabinet places.
One pushes past Blenkarn and Holtmann for evidence there is more than risk-taking or heavy-handed domination in the choice of chairmen. For example, Mitges is unobtrusive and impersonal as chairman of the UI hearings, all Blenkarn is not. Why Mitges? A veteran MP; good attendance; trustworthy; liked in caucus. Also, he’s a crusader against abortion. Intense, other work eases his pressure for curbing legislation.
Take Pat Nowlan who chairs transport committee with bluster and bonhomie like Blenkarn. Why was he picked? Because he’d been passed by so often in 24 years as MP. It may keep some check on him, a proven, sometimes ribald dissenter from the caucus line. Also he knows the field well and is one of the most familiar voices of the Maritimes.
Another choice must have been much pondered: that of the Hon. David MacDonald, ex-minister, ex-ambassador, to chair the environment committee. To put it sweetly, he and the PM have little affinity and his Red Toryism makes most of the caucus uneasy. But he needs some recognition, is personable and respected by those among “the Greens” who most distrust the government’s seriousness on the environment.
Anyone can read why John Bosley, bounced from the speakership three years ago, needed and got the chairmanship of the external affairs and international trade committee. Or why a potential irritant of great degree, ex-columnist Garth Turner from Halton-Peel, and an inordinately busy bee among the new MPs, was handed consumer and corporate affairs.
Although more MPs want to head committees than there are openings, the role is not yet terribly prized or taken as a grand chance towards elevation to cabinet. But much is to be done by committees, abler opposition MPs relish the work, and some televising is at hand.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, September 24, 1989
ID: 12937985
TAG: 198909240114
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C2
COLUMN: In Ottawa

SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

GETTING BACK TO BUSINESS

TEXT:
Here are short answers to questions about politics in Ottawa you might be asking as Parliament ends its three-month holiday.
QUESTION: Is the prime minister down, deeply concerned over his party’s plummeting in the Gallup and troubles with sales tax reform and Meech Lake?
ANSWER: No. He’s up, in mind and body. I have never found him so assured, so clearly healthy, since he first openly set his sights on leading his party 15 years ago. He’s much fitter than a year ago, better natured, and far less defensive at anything critical.
Q: Why? Explain!
A: My guess is Brian Mulroney senses that after five years at it he’s settled in with the public, even with those who detest him. He is the prime minister, not a passing disaster. He feels he has time for a few major moves; he no longer feels he’s compared unfavorably to the other party leaders nor, more significant, with a certain, previous prime minister. I checked these impressions of him with two of his ministers who have been in the House a long time, and neither of whom is particularly close to him. Each said he’s never been more exuberant and good natured in cabinet. One said something contradicting an emerging opinion of the press gallery; i.e., he is very happy with his personal staff and PMO advisers.
Q: What would be your parallel readings of Liberal leader John Turner, and NDP leader Ed Broadbent?
A: Clearly each is in good health and determined to bear bravely through his lame duck epilogue to the leadership. The shove on Turner’s equipoise is six months or so ahead when the competition flares between those who seek his job. Their analyses of the party’s needs and programs must become critiques of his role. Then he will need a thick skin and a stiff lip in the House to endure the certain jests and barbs from across the floor.
Broadbent’s troubles of this kind will less and over more quickly. He plans to stay in the House, perhaps run again if no suitable professorship comes. Bet that he’ll be much like Tommy Douglas was after he gave up the NDP leadership – busy and out to master a subject field and show it. Broadbent’s dilemma may come late next year if the new NDP leader fizzles in question period.
Q: Are there scandals in the wind which could devastate the PM and the government, say like the Sinc Stevens affair or the cases of Michel Cote and Andre Bissonnette two and three years ago?
A: Perhaps. But the two whiffs of such gossip in recent breezes of hint and innuendo concern two old familiars in such speculation, ex-minister Roch LaSalle and former Newfoundland premier Frank Moores, now heading a lobby group in Ottawa. If neither was nailed a few years ago despite open allegations of misdeeds why would they be now?
There is another rumble on the Hill. It’s of pending revelations, not about ministers or the government, but of a gaggle of MPs, some in each of the parties who have allegedly been boondoggling with their staff allowances.
Q: Is it still the common view of parliamentarians that Jean Chretien is more or less a cinch to win the Liberal leadership late next June?
A: Yes. He’s almost as firm as he was six months ago. Here’s what I think are odds on each likely prospect.
Jean Chretien 3-2
Paul Martin 5-1
Lloyd Axworthy 10-1
Clifford Lincoln 15-1
Dennis Mills 20-1
Sheila Copps 25-1
Doug Young 25-1
Tom Wappel 1,000-1
If Audrey McLaughlin should win the NDP crown and show very well in Parliament next spring then Copps’ odds should shorten to 10-1. If Don Johnston, who ran third in 1984, reverts back to the party from his present “independent” status (caused by the party’s support of Meech Lake) and enters the race put him about 10-1.
Q: Aren’t you fudging on the certainty Chretien will win?
A: Probably. But he’s been 27 years in the public eye, his ego is a heavy freight and four of his nearly certain rivals have particular assets and are far from fools. If Mills, Young and Copps build well on their strengths Chretien might not win on the first ballot, and then . . . stop Chretien?

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, September 22, 1989
ID: 12937732
TAG: 198909220147
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

MORE THAN JUST A MANDARIN

TEXT:
Early this year Robert Ford’s Our Man In Moscow came out and was reviewed rather severely. Several reviews were by former colleagues of Ford in the department of external affairs. They fitted with what I got talking with two men who had served with Ford at some time during his long stints in the USSR, first as our No. 2 diplomat, later as our ambassador from 1964 to 1980.
The criticisms had a general and a particular aspect. Ford was too dour about real change in the USSR; and in a brief, appraisal of a former ambassador, the late John Watkins, he described him as easily entrapped by the KGB who then enrolled him “as an active collaborator.”
A more recent ambassador in Moscow, Peter Roberts, argues that investigations of Watkins’ activities “produced no evidence he was `an active collaborator’ . . . and that he did no harm to Canadian interests either in Moscow or at other posts.”
This summer the rug was pulled from under the widespread optimism in Canada that China was marching toward individual freedoms and a market economy. The blight on this promise has thrown some doubt or at least some cautiousness around the blessed events in the East Bloc, engineered and symbolized by Mikhail Gorbachev. One wonders if Ford is prescient, or was he over-jaundiced by too much familiarity with a terrible regime? As both Roberts and the late George Ignatieff suggest, Ford is pessimistic of significant change in either the economy or political structure of the USSR.
Unfortunately, there is nothing in Ford’s account of his time in Moscow about Russia and the Germans or the two Germanies. The German future, notably reunification, has magnified over the past summer. What seemed dormant and unlikely for decades – if ever – has become a prospect to shake and alarm more than Europe. What groupings or stabilizers might replace the long, taut, suspicious balance (but a balance!) between the two superpowers that has been held through their prime alliances, NATO against the Warsaw Pact countries.
Every reviewer of Our Man In Moscow whom I read wished that Ford had used his magnificent credentials and experience to give us “more sweep, magnitude, and power.” For Peter Roberts this was “a first book, a road map. A second should follow, not driven by events and by the past, but by issues and by the future.”
My awareness of Ford came when he won the Governor General’s award for poetry in 1956. In the stories then of his background and career in external affairs his father, Arthur Ford, was mentioned. He was an outstanding newspaperman and spark for the first journalism school (at Western).
In a few brief visits to the USSR in the early ’70s regarding hockey series with the Russians, I caught glimpses of Robert Ford. Although he was much more austere than I expected, seeming an absolute contrast to either his father or any hockey fan I knew, he saw hockey as a mutual, valuable, exploitable, common interest of Canadians and Russians. He pushed this hard on a rather reluctant department at home, thus helping create the first, great series of 1972.
It was also clear from embassy staff and Russian journalists that Ford was almost unique among diplomats there in his familiarity with the literature, writers and artists of the USSR. Such respect for this awareness reminded me of the scholarly grasp of Japanese history and culture earned and put into print by another of our diplomats, Herbert Norman.
Last week I came upon another new book by Ford, a paperback from Mosaic Press, titled Dostoyevsky and Other Poems. In part, I took it up to see if either poems or notes had comments or insights on Russia or Canada or international affairs. There are insights, but those of a poet, not of a diplomat who has advised and served politicians. In particular, a feeling for and images of the present season of the year will stay with me from a poem, Autumn in the Bourbonnais. As our MPs rally back to a Hill surrounded by hillsides changing hues, may this tribute to the setting please them.
Ford has retired to a home in central France. His poem begins with him breathing in “the evasive odors and timid contours of this subtle land.” Then:
“In the hills there is a vivid
Splash of color, a red
Like the maples of my own
Far Gatineau. But no rough
Slope drenched in scarlet.
No golden shower across
The horizon and under-foot,
Lasting so briefly in its
Challenge to winter. Melancholy
Rather in the slow changing
Of leaves to brown and yellow.
The cut wood is stacked
In perfect lines as if
Waiting for a customer,
Homogenized, without
Odor, no strong smell of pine.
But in a cottage yard
Leaves are burning in a neat
Heap. And the smoke is the same
As it was along the Ottawa.
And it hurts me in the heart.”

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, September 20, 1989
ID: 12937476
TAG: 198909200125
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

POLITICAL PLOTS AND PLANS

TEXT:
This season anyone given to binges of political reading has more choices than is fair in the new stuff out. Here are notes on some useful items, beginning with an American best-seller that makes a smooth warmup for the serious game of Canadian politics.
Hardball, a paperback from Harper & Row, is by Christopher Matthews, often seen on PBS Washington shows and former aide to Tip O’Neill, former longtime Speaker of the House. The jaunty subtitle catches the pace of the book: How Politics Is Played, Told By One Who Knows the Game.
In the rich mix of anecdotes and profiles, a dozen or so lessons or aphorisms are demonstrated, the most telling of which – that people love to be asked to help a candidacy – is powerfully done, notably with samples on the time, money and influence which the Kennedys elicited from the oddest of prospects simply by boldly, bluntly, asking.
A saving grace in all the smart guff and wiseguy retailing by the author comes from the way his sense of fun and irony overrides his self-importance and the name-dropping. If Hardball gives you no pleasure you are too moral and/or anti- American.
For gravity a reader may take The State, Business, and Industrial Change in Canada, by two economists at McMaster University, Michael Atkinson and William Coleman. Their book is in the U of T Press series “The state and economic life,” of which ex-Waffle hero Mel Watkins is an editor.
This study was years in the making, partly because the authors did so many in-depth interviews with federal and provincial government mandarins.
I plan several columns on two aspects of the book. The first will be how it is impossible to find and institute the much longed-for “national industrial policy” because the needed authority and skills to plan and introduce one are baulked by a political state based on the parliamentary model – i.e., a government centred on a talk-shop – and on federalism with its two orders of government. Another piece will be about the authors’ six analyses that clarify governmental dealings with industries – telecommunications manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, meat packing, textiles and dairy products.
The authors give a clear, succinct history of how the four main categories in business lobbies developed and why the oldest, strongest one has maintained a near symmetry with the federal department of finance for over a century. While the erudite vocabulary of the authors makes a dictionary useful, neither the tales nor themes are difficult or obscure. The preachment seems to be: So far it’s worked but, unhappily, not for much longer.
Most academic work published today is coming in essay collections. From a handful to a score of professors toss an essay into some subject pot. The stew should leave its consumer with the various views and useful data on the topic chosen. An example of this, with the editor/cooks after a rounded meal is The Domestic Battleground; Canada and the Arab-Israeli Conflict. The editors, David Taras and David Goldberg, have collared nine other contributors – historians, lawyers and political scientists – of whom the most notable in pro-Israeli zeal is Irving Abella, co-author of the now famous None Is too Many: Canada and the Jews of Europe, 1933-1948.
What one might call the other side, and also a more neutral view, is really represented by three essayists: Peyton Lyon, a veteran ex-diplomat and professor; John Sigler, a Carleton political scientist; and Ann Hillmer, an external affairs official.
To confirm that the editors’ try for balance, Lyon makes a fair, critical fist of showing how well the Canadian lobby for Israel has done been, compared to the Canadian Arabs, in keeping Canada so largely in the Israeli camp. He, along with Sigler, do forward the case that the Palestinians and the Lebanese have a remarkably good claim on our sense of justice. They seem to suggest Israel needs succor from the grim, growing consequences of its militarism and the deprivation of human rights for so large and burgeoning a minority.
The sorriest account is in an essay by David Taras on how the Israeli lobby dealt with the pro-Palestinian views espoused by the late A.C. Forrest, editor of the United Church Observer. For those who recall and agree with the Forrest views, one essay does sketch the first serious caucus setback the Israeli lobby ever suffered on Parliament Hill – within the Liberal caucus over the Lebanese invasion of 1982.
We have not had a thorough appraisal of the Ontario political system by one author that is popular reading, yet based on scholarship and close experience, since Fred Schindler’s Responsible Government In Ontario (1969). Now it is to hand with The Ontario Legislature: A Political Analysis, by Graham White.
White is primed on the basics of where and how Ontario’s elected men and women work as a veteran servant of Queen’s Park. In what is largely narrative on roles, processes and trends the author has a modicum of opinion and assessment, with most of which I agree, such as: “ . . . the Ontario Legislature has some way to go before achieving full maturity” but “ . . . it has developed into a sophisticated, active, and in many ways effective parliament.” Certainly, it’s no longer a full replica of the enlarged town council, bossed by an omniscient, benign reeve – which it often seemed in the days of Premier Les Frost (1949-1961).

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, September 18, 1989
ID: 12937248
TAG: 198909180113
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

HOT RUMORS FROM THE HILL

TEXT:
Three rumors on partisan affairs for you, one for each political party.
In Ottawa one learns to rate the worth of rumors from a particular source on how their previous tips have panned out. This is particularly so when the rumor is from an insider, that is, one who must be anonymous because he or she is within government or within a caucus or other party operation.
On each of these three rumors the past record of their bearers is good. The first one relates to Michael Wilson and the goods and services tax; the second to Pierre Trudeau as a factor influencing the Liberal leadership race; the third to the fraudulent buildup to a now, wide-reaching assumption that Audrey McLaughlin has such a lead in the NDP race she is almost “home free.”
The rumor on Wilson comes to me from the higher reaches of the department of finance where the GST was worked out. It is not from the prime minister’s circle or from some minister or his closet people. It is brutal and succinct: Wilson will be out as minister of finance within six months, and the rumor-makers think, back at his old firm on Bay Street.
Why? Wilson will feel he cannot continue and retain any shred of his own public integrity, given the decision of the prime minister now crystallizing that the goods and services tax proposal is raising too much resistance and confusion for any fair prospect of the governing party.
The decision has firmed up because Brian Mulroney has read his cabinet and his caucus as favoring delay and a softening of the proposal. He senses his MPs are generally fearful of their future fortunes because of the fierceness of the flak already in the air.
What isn’t fully predictable is how the retreat will be managed. What will Wilson do when he appreciates the team is no longer fully with him in his most difficult initiative as minister of finance?
Might he take another portfolio? Leave, and make a public fuss? Or purse his lips in the quiet hurt of a decent man abandoned by colleagues without moral fibre?
The rumor on Trudeau comes from a source within the Liberal caucus who (bless him!) who was chortling over the certain marathons in consultations at lunches and by phone for two of the party’s most famous stalwarts of yore, Sen. Keith Davey, and the man from High River, Jim Coutts.
The problem for the twain is simple, and even without Trudeau as a factor it seems to be the gut issue in the Liberal succession to John Turner. It’s the Meech Lake accord, with its “distinct society” for Quebec clause.
The accord is anathema to Trudeau. Its key points contradict most of what he and the Liberal party under him stood for in terms of federal-provincial relationships and the position of French Canadians in the country.
Who knows what Grit masterminds like Davey and Coutts really think of the Meech accord and the backing for it given by John Turner and his caucus (with some of its members dissenting). But both men are dedicated – not merely respectful – believers in the synoptic wisdom of Pierre Trudeau. Perhaps they are even more dedicated to engineering the return of their party to the glories of office in ’92 or ’93.
As old hands at reading the nation’s likes and dislikes, Davey-Coutts concluded a few months ago from the enduring popularity of Jean Chretien across Canada that he must be the party’s choice. Their certainty has been hardening since the election last year because they cannot discern a single, exceptional alternative to Chretien in the caucus or elsewhere.
But as that “hair-shirt” of the party, MP Charles Caccia, has pointed out, Chretien has been fudging on Meech Lake; he is not absolutely against it, nor clear on the “distinct society” business.
Of course, Davey-Coutts appreciate Chretien is not merely neglectful or confused on Meech Lake. Perhaps Quebec is at stake. Certainly Robert Bourassa’s good will is. Chretien knows blunt opposition to Meech – say as demanded by Caccia or Don Johnston or, yes, from Trudeau – may give Mulroney a goodly edge on Chretien in Quebec which he can bear towards the next election.
The rumor is that PET’s patience with Chretien has worn out; he is appraising the rest of the possible runners for one strong on the Trudeau conception of federalism and Quebec.
The rumor about the NDP leadership comes from a union officer in Toronto who has been long active in the party. He says an appreciation is firming among party members he knows that the unbelievable must not happen without a stiff fight.
The unbelievable is an anointing as NDP leader of a rookie parliamentarian. Every aspect of politics is more complex than in days of leaders like Coldwell, Douglas, and Lewis, who were long in active politics before leadership. Audrey McLaughlin has less than three years in public life.
Despite advantages McLaughlin may have as a female with a fine face for TV and a nice personality, at 52 she does not have an examinable record on what she knows or her beliefs in economic and social thought.
Her candidacy and lead is the work of a small group in the cadre which advises and does research for Ed Broadbent and the caucus. Her victory shall not be as easy as it now seems . . . Or so goes the rumor.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, September 17, 1989
ID: 12937022
TAG: 198909170222
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C3
COLUMN: In Ottawa

SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

MANITOBANS ARE CANADIANS TOO

TEXT:
These Manitobans! Allan Gotlieb. Felix Holtmann. Manitobans! Each a target of cultural discontent, yet such contrasts.
Manitobans make up a mere 4% of us and they are less diverse than several other provincials. But to range over the many Manitobans who have streamed out and made a name is to note the wide gulfs one may see. Who is an archetypal Manitobans? Hog-farmer Holtmann? Polymath Gotlieb?
Or consider the tricky, scheming Grit mastermind, Jack Pickersgill, alongside the sunny Mr. Clean of the Mulroney ministry, Jake Epp.
Or set the work of the late Dan Mckenzie, an anti-welfare MP from south Winnipeg, beside that of Stanley Knowles, the pensioners’ pal from central Winnipeg.
Or visualize two images: The ruffled bulk of the famous “Nort-ender,” Larry Zolf, and the cosmopolitan exquisiteness from Flin Flon of Bernard Ostry.
The same region throws up such diametrics.
In our case for today, the cultural Brahmins, largely of Toronto, are critical to nastiness over both Gotlieb and Holtmann. Each, they think, endangers intrinsic Canadianism. It is humorous in its ironic contrast. How can Mulroney hope to satisfy critics who reject both the showiest flower of our diplomacy and as gruff a rough-hewn “natural” as ever made the Hill?
Although all who know Allan Gotlieb know he is sharp, very sharp, he is suspect as the new head of the Canada Council because he was the adroit engineer in Washington of Brian Mulroney’s free trade deal. Such cultural Joans of Arc as Adrienne Clarkson and Margaret Atwood have used satirical imagery about lost testicles to show that the FTA shall emasculate Canadian culture.
Felix Holtmann, a genuine authority on pigs, has been a Tory MP since 1984 for a swatch of towns and farmsteads in central Manitoba. He and his riding are long cry from Rosedale or Rockcliffe.
Felix is bumptious, opinionated and convinced he must utter what he believes, which, naturally, is what he knows most of his constituents want him to say. Naturally, the CBC’s writ is not prime in Portage-Interlake. Surely, allege the defenders of national culture, the choice by Mulroney and/or his advisers of a rude rube like Holtmann to chair the house standing committee on communications, culture, citizenship and multiculturalism demonstrates this government’s hostility to something so culturally sacrosanct as the CBC.
In the Gotlieb case his recent work as ambassador in the U.S. is taken to mean he brings a continentalist emphasis to his role with the Canada Council. Also, it is a partisan reality that the left and the liberally minded are readier than the conservatively minded to have government sustain cultural agencies and artists, writers.
So the left and the liberally minded have another scunner on Gotlieb. Already he’s replaced other ex-mandarins of high degree such as Mickey Cohen of the Reichmanns, now Molson, and Michael Pitfield of Power Corp. in the NDP’s canon of renegades. He too has flogged himself and his “inside” stuff to big bidders in the private sector. Gotlieb’s even more diversified, what with Canada Council, Executive Consultants, Ltd. and the Globe and Mail (as columnist!). Surely, they say, the Mulroney government should prevent such blatant greed in parlaying years in high public office?
In the Holtmann case the outrage is silly if you know how near impossible is domination of a House committee by a chairman. The critics also seem to assume that one who chairs such a committee with an assigned subject field ought to be an advocate of the chief elements in the field. This seems a transfer of an assumption now well-set about ministers – that the labor minister must be pro-union, the Indian affairs minister pro-Indian, the agriculture minister pro-farmer.
Would that we might have a minister who is pro-taxpayer or for fair, frugal government.
Neither Gotlieb nor Holtmann are heroes to me but despite their contrasts, each in his way is very able and, culturally, very Canadian.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, September 15, 1989
ID: 12936832
TAG: 198909150146
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

NO LONGER A TABOO TOPIC

TEXT:
Only a fool would deny that “It’s never too late to learn,” but in the past few years some learning about homosexuality has come to most of us. The prime cause has been the AIDS epidemic, rather than the first revelation by a federal MP that he was gay.
As probably a quite average Canadian I have been learning, despite years of reading novels and biographies, even a spatter of medical books, how little I knew about homosexuality. In particular, this hit me after studying two current books, Larry Kramer’s accusatory Reports from the Holocaust; the Making of an AIDS Activist and, even better, Marshall Kirk’s and Hunter Madsen’s After the Ball, subtitled How America Will Conquer its Fear and Hatred of Gays In the ’90s.
Although my youth and early adulthood was largely spent in male enclaves like mining camps, the army and university residences (then sexually segregated) the number of “certain” homosexuals I had known before reaching Ottawa in my late 30s was less than a dozen. My unawareness or lack of perspicacity or wit about homosexuality came to me two years ago when a former college roommate died from AIDS. His homosexuality had never been revealed to me until quite late in an acquaintance of 40 years.
When I first got to Parliament I found its populace was gossipy – much more so than today. The numbers were half of today’s but before free air fares MPs spent far more time together. Further, although the Hill is still a rather hopeless place for one to be private in one’s associations and habits like drinking or gambling, way back in the early ’60s any personal habits or antics were not the stuff for partisan attacks or fears.
The unwritten pact not to blow the whistle publicly on unconventional antics and associations did not begin to fray until the Gerda Munsinger revelations. These were prompted by Lester Pearson’s government as revenge for Grit scandals triggered by Tory Erik Nielsen. Even though the pact became tattered with no one able to trust its observance, particularly by gallery reporters, a hesitation has continued among all partisans about exposing the sexual aberrations of MPs. Why? Because every caucus has had – and still has – a modicum of those who are not conventional.
Despite such reticence about public disclosure it has always been the case that both the gossip by peers and staff and the observed behavior of associations made it clear there were -and are – male homosexuals among the members of Parliament and on the staffs of both House and Senate.
You are right to wonder why I mention a reality so certain. It is not to underline that in all those years Svend Robinson is the only MP to declare his homosexuality. It is to emphasize that homosexual politicians and staff were well, if privately, known about, including a few ministers and some prominent officers of Parliament. But the knowledge within the community has never hardened into open charges and demands for resignations or inquiries.
Such unwillingness (or whatever it was) not to cry scandal or lament depravity even stood up well through two periods when homosexuality became a touchy topic, once openly, the other almost so.
The first occasion arose with Pierre Trudeau as minister of justice in the mid-’60s. Remember getting the state out of the nation’s bedrooms? The amendments to the Criminal Code on homosexuality offended the Creditiste MPs from Quebec in particular. Despite some crude, plain speeches by them, in and out of the House, scourging Trudeau and the Liberals for sanctioning such ungodly behavior, nothing like a national debate with pro and con forces emerged. Neither, of course, did any homosexual MPs and ministers come out of the closet.
The second occasion came in the late ’70s. After a storm of gossip on the Hill there were several resignations from the Commons staff. It was commonly known although nothing concrete was ever published that there had been an issue, beyond extravagance and overstaffing, of favoritism tied to sexual relationships. Again, the matter faded without becoming a public and partisan affair.
My hindsight recognizes there was a gradual shift within this political community from a tacit readiness to leave homosexuality lie as private matter. While a homosexual politician was thought dangerous and, if not retrogade, odd, the sense of danger has worn – not fully away, but down.
Today, some MPs do have tough, even nasty, views about gays, notably because of AIDS and current scandals about boys and clerics. But the prevailing attitude of each caucus is not for either legal or figurative bashing of gays, even those with the AIDS virus.
It will surprise me if there is criticism when the House resumes of the steps which health minister Perrin Beatty has taken to see AIDS sufferers have better access to the best in drugs. Later an opposition party might move a day’s debate to criticize the overall handling of the AIDS “crisis” but the fairly civilized attitude to both those afflicted and homosexuality should continue. This is far less than the broad acceptance of homosexuality which gay leaders seek, but at least there is little savagery and fear-mongering.
What I would convey is that AIDS and homosexuality cause less trouble or harsh reactions among MPs than in many other milieus.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, September 13, 1989
ID: 12936546
TAG: 198909130148
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

ONCE MORE, WITH FEELING

TEXT:
Was it not satisfying to get “feeling” back in our lives?
My reference is to Barbara Frum, back again Monday night to front The Journal, and leading off her first interview with her favorite question of the past 20 years: “How do you feel?” Or, to vary it: “What does it feel like?”
In this case it was a refugee from East Germany whom Frum broached with the question The Journal brings to those who have just experienced either topical, benign adventure or awful tragedy.
One hates oneself for wondering how quickly and uncritically we become euphoric. How marvellous it seems, and therefore is, that these thousands of walled-in people are voting with their feet for life and the pursuit of happiness in the democratic West. Praise be the noble Hungarians and the generous West Germans who are denying and confounding the wicked East Germans.
We should slow our gushes. There are such nudges to one’s reason that there is much here of a three-way deal, not two figurative good guys dishing the bad guy. This surely is a contra deal in the sense the term is used in advertising.
Also, recall how Castro defused domestic dissent by letting loose on a welcoming United States a flood of dissident Cubans. Not only did the exodus lower internal pressures nicely for the Castro regime, it converted a few thousand of the most difficult Cubans from a Castro problem to an American problem.
Have you not wondered why this latest exodus was figuratively telegraphed weeks in advance, and developed in two stages: firstly, in media revelations of how the Hungarian easiness along the Austrian border offered a rare, ready opportunity for Iron Curtain defectors; secondly, as East Germans began to flow toward the opening how it became a story of timing – how long could it last, as a crowd of emigres accrued in and near Budapest. The deal was being worked out!
It may be a month, perhaps longer, before we learn the quid pro quos which Hungary and East Germany get from the West Germans for their roles in the exodus – maybe hard currency loans of many millions; maybe barter packages; maybe high technology equipment. In any case, the heart-warming theme of The Journal seems wonderfully innocent.
It reminded me of the naive remarks the other day by Gen. Paul Manson, the retiring military chief, that we no longer faced a military threat in the East. Gosh! Such a bewildering unawareness of history. Reactions like those of the June massacre in Beijing could occur in the next few years in Riga or Tallinn or Minsk or Astrakhan. We pray it won’t be so but if we do not, as a society appreciate it is possible, going by the past, we lay ourselves open to enormous disillusion and both mental and physical unpreparedness.

There’s much that is appealing to more than Liberals in the proposal which MP Sheila Copps has addressed to her party’s president. Her plan would both limit spending of leadership candidates and convert the leadership race into a system of raising the funds to wipe out the party’s debt. She estimates from past experience and the way the campaign has developed thus far that it will cost a total of $15 million before it’s over. And this huge drain comes when the party already is more than $5 million in debt.
In rallying Liberals to such a high-minded plan of co-operation and sharing, Copps doesn’t duck the electoral core of the money problem: “A media and public perception that a party unable to manage its internal finances should not be given the responsibility for governing Canada.” And she reminds Liberals that, “Turner could have been prime minister if we had had the financial resources to counter the negative Tory advertising in the final weeks of the campaign.”
The first point about management is well taken, the second about advertising is dubious, but attractive to partisans. And to the partisan zealots Copps had the phrases we’ve come to expect from her: “To fight the Tory agenda – a 9% tax grab, environmental neglect, national disunity, etc. – we need to be debt-free now.”

May I pay some tributes?
Sun columnist, William Stevenson, wrote of his exasperation and regrets that CBC radio has dropped Allan McFee’s Eclectic Circus from its Sunday schedule. I join the regrets. Won’t someone high in the CBC appreciate there are Canadian seniors who prefer radio to TV?
CBC-TV caters to seniors so expensively and completely with Front Page Challenge through its regular witty and vivacious sexagenarians: Fred Davis, Pierre Berton, Betty Kennedy, Allan Fotheringham – and now Jack Webster.
But how about radio seniors who cherish McFee as the perfect compere of music with chat?
Keep McFee! And never consider letting Max Ferguson and McFee go.
Another Sun columnist, Lubor Zink, has won a substantial award as journalist of the year from the National Citizens’ Coalition. To phrase it colloquially, Lubor is the toughest bird with whom I’ve had a working association. No one I know has carried on through more misfortunes. I wince at even listing all the attacks, maladies, and operations Lubor has come through without a hint of either hypochondria or self-pity. He’s brave, durable, consistent and honest. May he write on and on.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, September 11, 1989
ID: 12936338
TAG: 198909110039
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

CON MAN OR GENIUS RISING?

TEXT:
“Neither the Liberals nor the Tories like to admit that the voters simply made up their minds on their own. But that’s exactly what they did, and did so on the basis of rational and enlightened self-interest.”
– from Robert M. Lee’s book One Hundred Monkeys
And this is the plain conclusion reached in what is likely to be the most controversial of the seven or eight books out or coming on the 1988 federal election. Controversial in particular because the course to the conclusion is wild and gaudy.
It took me four hard hours to do this book of 285 pages and I was fussing and expostulating all the way. There were flashes and chunks which reminded me, variously, of Peter Newman for lush detail, Allan Fotheringham for metaphorical bravura and cruelty, David Frum for self-satisfactory arrogance, Ron Graham for pure condescension (for almost everyone) and Larry Zolf for topic-bobbing. And my reactions would shift from “over-writing” to “exquisite insight” to “why this fluff?”
Even after a day to ponder I hesitate to say One Hundred Monkeys is recommendable or to be avoided. I’m ambivalent between feeling conned and seeing genius flowering. It’s much easier to say the book is challenging than to guess what you would take from it.
Firstly, the title is a device, based on some observation of group behavior among Oriental monkeys. Yes (???). It gives an odd opening and a closing twist rather than symbolizing any clear theme or truth. If there is such a truth in Lee’s monkey tale it is that the combined effect of TV and computers upon humankind has brought a post-literate society, non-linear or eclectic and discontinuous in its interests, and impressionistic and inductive in its learning, perceiving and reactions. All very McCluhanesque.
Has the book a hero or heroine? If any, the prime hero would be Allan Gregg, a Tory pollster. Brian Mulroney is a minor hero, despite much over-detail that make him out a crud, simply because he intuitively knew what was needed and did it in the campaign’s crunch; i.e., to exaggerate and distort to ruin John Turner’s credibility after the TV debate had zoomed Grit stock. Are there villains? Many, many, most of them pitiable creatures however, rather than diabolical; for example, Maureen McTeer or Frank Stronach or Peter Mansbridge.
Lee opens in August, 1988, with a visit to the summer home of the Hon. Don Johnston, the Montreal MP who had just left the Grit caucus over Meech Lake and free trade, and he closes in December with Johnston moving out of his Hill office after an election he had sat out.
Although the campaign provides the spine of the book this is not a day-to-day or even a week-by-week account of it.
Johnson as book-ends provides the opaque monkey story but not much else. Of all the very bright men who came to the Hill in my years he ranks with Otto Lang and Jack Davis as a pitiful party politician. Lee doesn’t portray him so, which may tell you something about Lee.
Lee writes closely, with much detail and immediacy about his characters, most of whom he has caught formally in interviews or while tracking them in public from nearby. In form, the book is a stitching of episodes most of which would do as a series of long magazine articles, more fitting, say, for Toronto Life than The New Yorker.
About a dozen characters are used to carry the story and humanize an analysis which emphasizes a remorseless, almost mechanistic system and pace. Lee uses bits from an instruction booklet for Liberal party workers written in 1945 by the late Sen. Arthur Roebuck to underline how electioneering is distanced from old days and ways. There is little if any scope left to either party workers or reporters for individuality, originality and substance, from the riding level upwards until you get to the top pollster and to the limitations or assets of the party leaders.
Among the characters, almost always with every wart, are such as Margaret Atwood, Sinc Stevens, Frank Stronach, “Mad Dog” Vachon (the symbolic NDP candidate), McTeer, Gregg, and, naturally, Turner and Mulroney. Lee fits such characters into the major scenes of the campaign such as CBC-TV’s dubious revolt-against-Turner story, the TV debate and then its interpretation. He stresses the pivotal part played by the market’s brutal fall when polls indicated a Turner victory. He has a voluminous, informative analysis of how Gregg and other pollsters make the interpretations which now determine strategy and tactics. There’s a racy segment describing how the NDP never conceived it could win the election, how Broadbent was almost bounced from the contest and his advisers were without strategy or tactics as the campaign developed.
Robert Lee reports for the Ottawa Citizen and he fits well with the largest group of columnists and political journalists today in one place with a common view that every politician is venal and a liar or potentially so. What distinguishes him, however, from colleagues like Don McGillivray, Marjorie Nichols, Claire Hoy, Greg Weston, Susan Riley and Frank Howard is his exuberant style. To close with an example, this on the president of the NDP, Johanna Den Huertog, “a sort of David Peterson in drag who prefers the term co-nurturer to husband …”

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, September 10, 1989
ID: 12936131
TAG: 198909100099
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C7
COLUMN: In Ottawa

SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

NIELSEN’S RATINGS ARE RIGHT ON

TEXT:
The Erik Nielsen autobiography has been out a few weeks. One may now get a fairer measure of its impact and merits than just after its publication when so many Tories and reporters, cued by the prime minister and his circle, were belittling Nielsen and contradicting his lines of argument.
As I had found The House Is Not a Home simply the most fascinating memoir yet by a federal politician, I have been heartened to find much company with this reaction. A very senior mandarin put it this way:
“I finished it in a straight run, fascinated by the man and his career. Once done, I did wonder at its propriety, in particular it coming now from one still in the public service. Despite such questions Nielsen makes partisan politics plainer than I have ever seen put candidly.”
My hunch is that the word will ripple widely among all interested in politics that Nielsen’s is a story to be read. First because it is well told; second, for better understanding of parliamentary and partisan work. That is, it won’t be dismissed and ignored because the revelations are disloyal, hypocritical and come from an unlovable person.
While some reviews and comments on the book have mentioned its appendix featuring “personal assessments” in both tabular analyses and tight, tough word sketches, no one has made the point that although these are startling in their brutal candor they represent in a rarely found form what is always under way in a political party and particularly in its parliamentary caucus. It is a perennial rearranging of a group of pecking orders, based on capacities, behavior, assiduity and so on.
There is always a paradox about equality on Parliament Hill, evident in both the House and Senate. It is also played out in each party caucus. It comes from what is obvious, even though its form overlays the true behavior of humans in groups.
All MPs are equal; all senators are equal. That is the form. Each MP represents an individual constituency which must be taken to have equal worth to any other. And so, in perquisites and services what one MP gets so does another, and where variances are necessary seniority determines most of them.
Both the equality ritual and the recognition of seniority is the surface of the House. The Speaker always symbolizes it and acts it out. However lofty or isolated a party leader or a minister may seem, in the parliamentary environs his or her basic recognition rests on being among MP peers
The equality gambit saves a lot of face, and it masks an ineradicable, pervasive competition and a watching-weighing-rating game. Only the cretins or perennially innocent who reach the House – perhaps a tenth of the whole – are unaware of the ceaseless vetting of caucus colleagues, of partisan enemies, and of prospects.
It is a rare MP who is not looking for advantage or advancement, or for ink or TV exposure. The factors in the vetting are many: Age, education, appearance, voice, speech, oratory, expertise, friendships, personal wealth, ideology, constituency strength, regional stature and competitors and, above all, suitability for and chances of attaining some role such as minister, whip, committee chairman, etc.
You could take the name of any one MP to another MP, ask for an assessment and get it – if you were trusted as being discreet. And the assessment would be very candid.
For example, most MPs know there are several New Democrat MPs who have abilities and skills matching or bettering the five from the caucus who are out to replace Ed Broadbent, and could tell you why and how, even to citing why they have chosen not to run.
In brief, almost everyone in a caucus has an appraisal of anyone else in it. To outsiders such appraisals may seem cruel, but getting anything done, even to surviving as a politician, demands them. Rubbing shoulders and egos in Parliament bares a lot.
What is uncanny to me in Erik Nielsen’s appraisal chart is how thoroughly his classifications mirror the rating process or game which is always under way among politicians.
His grid has five rating slots, from “unsatisfactory” to “excellent.” It sizes up an MP under five headings: Knowledge; abilities; effectiveness; leadership; loyalty. To be judged are eight “abilities,” 11 kinds of “effectiveness,” four attributes of “leadership” and three levels of “loyalty” (to party, leader, and colleagues).
The book gives Nielsen’s chart, with his rating checks in each of these 27 categories for a dozen former cabinet colleagues such as Don Mazankowski, Roch LaSalle, Flora MacDonald, and Sinc Stevens. It’s either a tribute to Nielsen or a reflection on me that I agreed with about 90% of his 336 checkmarks.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, September 08, 1989
ID: 12935869
TAG: 198909080155
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

AN ODE TO ED

TEXT:
Not many MPs have a constituent who writes a poem about them which is published in a book. The exception before us is Ed Broadbent, the NDP MP for Oshawa. Robert Harwood, a curator of an art gallery in the motor city, has had a paperback volume of his verses, mostly satiric or more broadly comic, published by Hounslow Press, under the title Canadian Verses & Vices, using the pen-name, Robbi.
While the brief paen to the NDP leader is derivative in form and rough in phrasing, does it not catch his frenetic, worrying essence?
O dear what can the matter be
dear, dear what can the matter be
O dear what can the matter be
Edward’s so long at the fair
He promised to buy me a system of daycare
a set of high tariffs
a way out of NATO
He promised to buy me a bunch of new unions
To make it a country so fair.
This parody is more kindly than Robert Fulford was in a recent Financial Times column which took apart a naive, “perhaps dishonest” banality within a tribute Ed Broadbent wrote about the late Michael Harrington, the American socialist thinker and writer. The NDP leader trumpeted that:
“For the past half-century, social democrats and Communists have rightly seen themselves as arch-enemies.”
Fulford makes the case: Oh, would this had been so! The consequences of a solid front of social democratic parties with other democratic parties in Western Europe and the Americas against the communist dictators (“the greatest evil that has afflicted the world since 1945”) would have made for both simpler and more honest politics.
He recalls the odd, friendly arrangements which Willy Brandt entered with the East Germans and socialist Francois Mitterrand’s long use of the French Communist party. He reminds us of the stock anti-Americanism of our socialists, their tenderness toward Castro, their sustained favor for the Sandinistas of Nicaragua, the long-enduring sympathy for Mao’s China.
Fulford notes that Canadian social democrats still are applauding Castro although recently he has restated his commitment to Stalinism. While Fulford looks forward to further work by Broadbent in Parliament he believes “he won’t be of much use if he succumbs to fantasies of a social-democratic past that never was.”
Anyone ever in the CCF and NDP knows Fulford is right. Who could forget the durable hopefulness of the oldtime CCFers about the USSR? Or the penchant to see every American cause as a poor one and every Canadian government as docile and uncritical of American international policies and programs?
But a nub of some small, justification in Broadbent’s talk of “arch-enemies” certainly comes to him from two struggles within, first the CCF ridding itself of Communist members, then the NDP ejecting the left-wing Waffle from within itself. Both fights were led by Broadbent’s more famous predecessor, David Lewis. In the first battle, roughest in the early ’50s, the union movement was also largely cleansed of Communists. And at every general election from 1949 CCFers and NDPers would writhe and protest when the Communist party announced that in ridings without a Communist candidate it advised electors to vote CCF and, later, NDP.
In terms of our domestic politics, in almost every part of Canada (especially in Quebec) the CCF and then the NDP, did everything possible to disassociate itself absolutely from the official Canadian Communist party and, more recently, from “the Trots” and the Maoists.
But this long, persistent disassociation does not belie the affinities which Fulford underlined. Even moderate Canadian social democrats like Ed Broadbent have been more consistently and thoroughly critical of the U.S. in both international affairs and as the most notable capitalist country, the main base of the multinationals, than they have of the world’s communist dictatorships.
One can see how ironic these matters have become for socialist and social democratic parties in the West. A lot of the communist dictatorships are now scrambling toward a market economy, the American model, and begging American aid. Of course, the New Democrats are accenting another theme because of the skidding faith throughout the world in planned economies or in governments taking or keeping heavy stakes in commercial and service enterprises. It is nationalism. Canadianism! The NDP, more vigilant than ever, will defend us against both the American who would buy us and the Canadian politicians and businessmen who sell out to the Americans.

The recent appointment of Timothy Reid as president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce reminded me of several other Liberals such as Chaviva Hosek, Dr. John Evans, Stan Roberts, and Maurice Strong. The common factor is the huge expectations when each announced entry into politics with the Liberal party, and their rather rapid blighting.
Reid, 53, is bilingual. His father was an outstanding diplomat; he was an exceptional athlete; a Rhodes scholar; a well-spoken, most personable, handsome man. Yet his brief career in the Ontario Legislature (1967-71) was as bleak as Hosek’s. Few may recall that some Grits once thought “premier” or “prime minister” for Reid . . . Evans . . . Strong . . . Roberts . . . and Hosek.
As Erik Nielsen recently reminded us, it’s a hard, rough game.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, September 06, 1989
ID: 12935607
TAG: 198909060138
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

TAX REVOLT A MERE RIPPLE

TEXT:
Comparisons help put bold political initiatives in perspective – especially those which can be made about tax reform.
It is a month since we got the particulars of the goods and services tax proposals in a paper from Michael Wilson. This publication came just over three years after he announced at an Ottawa press conference his intentions for comprehensive sales tax reform. By the new year the minister of finance hopes to have the bill behind his paper through the House of Commons. That interval of three years is an indication how like constitutional change is tax reform – tortuous and awkward.
Is Wilson likely to bring it off? Will the loud and various hostile reactions to the GST slow or stop the legislation?
An opinion one may take from hindsight is that nothing near the hostile heat has yet been generated across Canada against this initiative as raged on two other occasions of recent memory, from 1969 to 1971, and in late 1981 and early 1982.
Edgar Benson as finance minister was almost overwhelmed by the furor which built against his 1969 white paper on tax reform (which had followed from the Carter royal commission on taxation (1962-1967). In budgets through the 1970s a goodly proportion of the reforms proposed in 1969 were achieved but as a generalization it was done piece by piece rather than in a mighty package of reform.
Similarly, the white heat of protest over the tax proposals regarding personal and corporate taxation in Allan MacEachen’s budget of November 1981 only cooled out in the next year as the Pierre Trudeau government backed off a few propositions and amended more.
One myth of political journalism is that the MacEachen reforms were stopped cold by the massive public protest. It’s true the minister was switched to the external affairs portfolio within the year but the changes he made with such humility, and other pieces put through by his successor, Marc Lalonde, were a superb, gradual looping of the wall of criticism.
J. Harvey Perry, the reigning authority of fiscal history, has written that MacEachen “achieved 90% of his objective” despite his mighty fall in public esteem.
As one who is always trying to read the formal political system as it reacts to public response to major initiatives, there seems at this time nothing like the fear among elected politicians and their staffs on the government side that was generated in the early ’70s and ’80s over the tax reforms of those days. Nor is there as much concerted stoking of the hostility by the opposition politicians.
While one grants there is still time for explosive resistance and perhaps fatal obstruction before Wilson’s bill goes through, such seems far from certain. To go to other great initiatives, what is rampant against the GST seems far short of what surged up and boiled around both the constitutional initiative of 1980 (which was wrapped up two years later after substantial compromises) or the free trade agreement with the U.S. (which passed the Commons last December after rather few compromises.)
To oversimplify: This government cannot abandon the GST now; it has a handy majority, good for over three more years; it has the premiers ready to bargain; it has compromises it can make on the range, the scale, and the rebates’ aspects of the tax; and it has a determined minister of finance in whom the prime minister has invested too much confidence to remove before the tax, in some form, is through.

The external affairs portfolio is a natural for assuaging any feelings of hurt in a minister departing the majesty of finance. Among politicians external has a compensatory stature (so has justice and, in some circumstances, trade, health and even transport).
With five years at their present tasks Wilson and Joe Clark deserve an honorable change from Brian Mulroney.
The idea of external affairs as a slot for Wilson came to me last week in a conversation with a longtime acquaintance who has had to work a lot with Clark’s department. He is neither a bureaucrat nor a politician. I asked him how Clark was doing at his ministry. Well enough, he replied.
Certainly he cannot conceive any minister could work harder than Clark has, or who is more on top of his briefs. The problem Clark has, as my acquaintance divines it, is that he has been too long in a role where he can take remarkably few initiatives of substance. For example, he’s been stuck with a most unrewarding leadership of Commonwealth skirmishers against apartheid and the South African government.
As for the Middle East, Clark has found his chief chore is not to rouse touchy, powerful interest groups at home. American and West European relations have become overwhelmingly economic. The themes of peace and disarmament have been floating while the course and consequences of Mikhail Gorbachev’s reforms develop behind what used to be the Iron Curtain. The UN has hardly been in the mainstream of international affairs for several years, nor has Canada been able to do a lot with its security council seat.
What’s surely a routine grind now for Clark would be a challenging new endeavor for Wilson. Of course, Clark hardly deserves the burden of what Wilson is leaving, and it’s much easier to reposition Wilson than it is Clark. Why not trade; i.e., international trade?

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, September 04, 1989
ID: 12935422
TAG: 198909040070
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

LABOR DAY FORESIGHTS

TEXT:
In our national politics there is much more of a quickening of vitality, and a sense of anticipation, at the passing of Labor Day than there is at the New Year. This time it is more so than usual because no electoral anticipations livened the summer and Parliament has been out for nine weeks.
To whose advantage, this quietude? Probably the government; certainly its leadership has not spruced the summer weeks up much.
Day after day in these weeks forlorn TV camera teams have been ranging around for shootable activity and Ottawa, in particular Parliament Hill, has had fewer ministers and staffs and ordinary MPs around than I can recall since the Liberals lost power five years ago.
Even Sheila Copps and Don Boudria have issued less than a score of press releases. One wonders where are Chretien and Martin and Axworthy?
In a nation whose prime interest, judging by media numbers and their penetration, is politics this has been a flat summer. Witness the matters hullabalooed – VIA Rail, the general sales tax, PCBs and courts wrestling with that old perennial, abortion. Consider what the CBC’s new venture, Newsworld, has taken or has had to take as its repetitious grist. Someone aptly and unkindly called it as interesting as watching celery grow.
The relative, political inanition just described cannot go on for much longer. Although it’s three weeks before Parliament resumes the kids are mostly back to school and the government has to expose its main strategies and intentions for the fall and winter. Both opposition parties must gear toward a show of purpose and unity for the House. The Liberals must also show much more action in and around their leadership contest because it already looks dreary.
And it is in those contests that one sees some possible advantages to the prime minister and his cabinet in using Parliament to get through several very touchy, complex bills to law – such as the general sales tax (GST) or the unemployment insurance reforms or the privatization of Petro-Canada.
Party leaders when lame ducks, merely filling time and minding a slot, however fierce and angry they behave, are not nearly so credible as an assured leader. John Turner and Ed Broadbent must soldier along while the long drama of replacement drags along.
And as is the case in each opposition party, there’s neither swelling enthusiasm around any one candidate nor many ready and unifying issues to advance without undermining present stances and the incumbents (such as Meech Lake).
To hazard a forecast, it seems to me it will take well over another year before either opposition party has taken well to a new leader and settled into good form behind him or her. Meanwhile, without even going so far as exploiting the awkwardness within Parliament of candidates outside it going their own ways, the PM can drive his program along through the House rather handily, if he is, as he’s been avowing, sure and ready to do what has to be done (by a Progressive Conservative party).
Another reason for the ministry to be somewhat confident, though hardly cocky, lies in the continuing strength of the economy and the strong indications the U.S. economy is rolling better than ever. This has been a very good spring and summer, going by consumer spending, tourism, exhibitions and fairs.
While some indicators like export trade projections are turning grim the oft-tipped recession is still in anticipation or almost on us, not here.
This is not to be an autumn for governmental panic into radical actions like slashing interest rates or massive spending boosts. And whatever the Gallup poll shows on party standings, Mulroney has trumpeted in caucus and out that his is a government unafraid of several years in the 20s.
Of course, an unexpected scandal that involved the prime minister or a senior minister mighty quickly shred what seems to be a composed and fairly assured government at this point. There were several scandalous aspects, hurtful enough in possibilities in Erik Nielsen’s autobiography to feed a fortnight or more of vicious attack in the House. But the House isn’t sitting and the five-week interval between publication and an oral question period has worn away that threat to Mulroney’s equipoise.
One takes from both Dalton Camp, a columnist once again, and from hints eased out the last week from the PM’s circle, that major shifts in the operational controls of the Tory party, the caucus as a whole, and the Quebec caucus are under way. At its simplest, the wisdom and experience of the Ontario-grown crew has given way to Quebecers in the party, in particular to the PM himself and to Lucien Bouchard who has become both his Quebec lieutenant and now an aide on strategy and policies. This will make the Western MPs most uneasy.
Just as free trade with the U.S. was by and large the A to Z in federal subject content from 1987 through to the last new year, the GST has replaced it, probably for the next four months, perhaps as long as the next two years. Four months, if the government is very forceful in the House, the Senate is not obstructive or if Wilson doesn’t scare the premiers back to the bargaining table. That latter “if” is a fair prospect, particularly if Quebec Premier Robert Bourassa wins his election three weeks from now. If he doesn’t, almost any prospect is possible. Even, heaven help us, the return of PET.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, September 03, 1989
ID: 12935303
TAG: 198909030064
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment Lifestyle
PAGE: C5
ILLUSTRATION: picture WARTIME PROPAGANDA posters were quick to urge everyone to do their part.
COLUMN: Backgrounder
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

WAR AND REMEMBRANCE//FISHER RECALLS HIS MOOD, AND THAT OF THE COUNTRY, ON THIS DAY 50 YEARS AGO

Yes, I remember the day, World War II begin – vividly. And, yes, I was sure my future would be much affected and it was.
In 1939 a Canadian would have had to be a cretin not to know as the days turned into September that a European war was breaking and that if Britain were in it so would Canada. The die was cast, almost irrevocably, when the German Army burst into Poland on Sept. 1. By the morning of Sept. 3, the blitzkrieg was near Krakow and the Luftwaffe flew where it willed.
It happened that the hard moment of the beginning for us came on Sept. 3 in two stages. I was literally in the air.
While the official Canadian entry into hostilities came a full week later after a parliamentary debate and an overwhelming vote in favor that was pro forma, I thought it a good idea of Mackenzie King to show we must take such a huge decision ourselves, not let it be taken for us. But on the big day it was another King, not Mackenzie, from whom we took our cue. Once Britain (and France) were in, Canada’s entry was certain.
The first absolute assurance came in the early morning hours when Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister (and no hero at home or here) told his people and the world Britain was at war because Hitler had not replied to an ultimatum about his attack on Poland.
Then, in the early afternoon, a half-dozen hours later, King George spoke to the British people. We heard his talk, first through short-wave radio as it was given with the careful, plain earnestness that had so appealed to our country in late May and June when he and Queen Elizabeth had toured Canada.
Somehow, more of the ominous significance and the great unknown was opening up for everyone came through to me from the King than from Chamberlain – and I was a fifth-generation Canadian, not an Anglophile for whom the monarchy had been a great symbol.
In the weeks of prelude to the war, especially after Hitler and Stalin struck their astounding non-aggression pact on Aug. 23, Canadians listened to radio newscasts and commentators like the American analyst H.V. Kaltenborn, as they now do to TV news and reports in times of crisis.
In the northwestern Ontario bush country Canadian stations rarely reached us, and our news came from “clear channel” 50,000-watt stations like KDKA in Pittsburg, and WHO in Des Moines (at 10 pm, Dutch Reagan and baseball scores!)
There is an assumption current that 50 years ago Canadian attitudes were so cribbed or undeveloped that the pace of public affairs was at a creep, like Mackenzie King, that we were an untutored, ill-informed country.
Far from it. Newspapers were a staple taken for granted – for us the Winnipeg Free Press. Radio listening, particularly in the evening, was almost universal.
The Great Depression and its agonies had roused and frustrated almost everyone. For most it was not over. As that summer closed I had hordes of company in thinking about jobs – any job. It is true we were rather unsophisticated, most notably in our sense of morality which left us astounded by Hitler.
Certainly we were naive on what was coming and about our potential. As I read the country from where I was among miners, prospectors, loggers and Indians, most of them were very aware some literal awfulness was under way in the distant world.
Young though I was, like a lot of Canadians over the past year or two, I had swung from an attitude rather indifferent to global affairs and from lukewarm piety for the League of Nations to a rough appreciation somebody soon must face up to the Nazis.
Now from reading history I know that our PM, most of his cabinet, even most of his anti-British advisers, had undergone a similar shift from thinking that whatever foolishness the British and French got into over there, we could remain clear. Rather suddenly we were talking about the army and planes. Events were forcing our imaginations toward war.
Just after dawn on the morning of Sept. 3 I got into a perky, yellow, gull-winged Stinson Reliant with call letters, CF-BIM, to ride beside the pilot, Bill Tweed of Tweed, Ont. He flew for the Ontario Air Service. Our flight was from Sioux Lookout north across Lac Suel to Red Lake, then east to Pickle Lake, then to Uchi Lake, and back by way of Red Lake.
It was both a fire-watch patrol and a delivery service to the various forest ranger posts. I was along largely to collect my gear left behind at Uchi. A fortnight before I’d been flown to hospital with a foot gashed while tree-felling.
In my mending period I had much time to listen to short-wave radio. To hear Hitler rant. To follow the crude back and forth of notes and diplomats in Europe. To hope FDR was for Britain.
I know from much talk later in the army overseas that most of my 1939 attitudes were far from unique. For example, in my consciousness was a wild wish for something epochal, to give life some fire and resolve. Also to bring variety and opportunity to us.
Jobs! Travel! Excitement!.
If such was common among youths then, even more were some pervasive carryovers from the Great War. Most simply, that France with its magnificent army and defences, Britain with her mighty navy and the resources of Empire and Commonwealth could not lose. Hitler, the Germans, and the Mussolini lackeys would never win.
And very few of us were technological futurists, envisaging air warfare of global scope and havoc. No, as the war broke we thought about another expeditionary force to Europe, “Western Front” battles dominated by artillery and entrenchment, although there would be new Billy Bishops, Roy Browns and Wop Mays.
Thoughts like that – enlisting, going to Britain, then to the continent, wondering if victory would take very long – flew through my mind once we were airborne and Tweed swung his radio dial to an American station which, suddenly, was reading Chamberlain’s declaration of war.
By the time we were dockside at Red Lake the gang there was all talking about it. And in the afternoon as we droned back over an unmarked reach of lakes, swamp, and bush, Tweed and I listened to King George’s speech through the earphones. I recall I bellowed once through the engine roar, “What will you do?” He shrugged, mouthed “Fly!” and then “You?” I was at loose-ends with the summer’s end and my reply was “Get a job.”
It was hope of a job as much as anything else that came to so many of us that day, after the news. A job. Some excitement. Change. Somewhere in it all – not patriotism, not moral earnestness – there was an inkling that something had to be done to block the Nazis and, if Canada had to be in it, so might we.
Some of what I recall is simplification with hindsight. For most of us our private lives were more intricate than I suggest. I wondered what my parents would think of me enlisting. My dad wanted me to go to college in Minneapolis.
More serious in the emotional sense was what this would do to me and the girl I was mad for that summer. As it happened, my parents said “Take your time” and I had to anyway because I couldn’t pass the army eye test in 1939 – and couldn’t until 1941. As for the girl, I was bereft within the month.
I grabbed a job created by the war and went to guard a bridge on the transcontinental railroad, far from her. Immediately, rivals came on.
Meantime, at our gorge the weather held fine all fall, clear, inordinately warm and snowless, right to December. The fear of sabotage which had placed our crew at the bridge faded by New Year. Its roots were in all the Fifth Column stuff out of the Spanish War.
Essentially, or so it seemed, nothing much happened. In the first month some 50,000 Canadians joined up and a division, perhaps two, would be in Britain by Christmas. Canada was to train a lot of pilots for herself and the Commonwealth. The sense of urgency of September eased and there was talk of a phony war.
Despite a few big sinkings by German subs the Royal Navy obviously ruled the oceans. And despite the menace of air power shown in the vicious blitz over Poland, no one thought about 1,000-plane raids and “carpet” bombing.
Again, hindsight reminds me how later catastrophes and the literal near thing of Germany’s triumph over the USSR or the Japs’ seeming invulnerability in 1942 before Coral Sea and Midway have themselves been overlaid by an almost deja vu and an inevitability.
Lord knows the dread came to us. In Canada it came by stages, opening when the Germans swept to the Channel and took Paris. From then until the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor brought the U.S. into the war the optimism, that certainty of victory we had had the day Britain declared war had almost gone.
While we nodded at Churchill’s belligerence during the grim span alone of a year and a half, we knew he symbolized willpower more than resources.
The deep, fearsome dread of war, the appreciation of vicious massacres, the obscene cruelties of the German extermination camps, the Japanese fiendishness with prisoners, the fearsome losses of our men in the bombing of Germany; all this did not come to us in a quick rush of information or understanding.
Rather there was an accretion, and a growth of a desperate realization we were at a “good” war and must win. By the time this struck home hard to Canadians by far the most of us, men and women, boys and girls, were part of a resolve and commitments which would have seemed impossible in late 1939.
For all my anticipation and the immediate speculation of what it would mean for me and us as we listened to the word and droned below the sun on a late summer day over the boreal Shield country, little of what ensued fitted what went on in our talk or minds that day. I didn’t foresee the deaths of so many friends, schoolmates, fellow soldiers.
Almost everyone everywhere got more than was bargained for. As my favorite historian, Martin Gilbert, put it in the last sentence of his recent, epic-sized The Second World War: “The greatest unfinished business of the Second World War is pain.”

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, September 01, 1989
ID: 12935041
TAG: 198909010150
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THE CASSIDY SYNDROME

TEXT:
Could a Mike Cassidy scenario unfold again in the NDP?
One wonders following the interpretations out of Winnipeg by journalists who appraised the first encounter of the six declared candidates for the party’s federal leadership. The “pick” of the performers, aside from Audrey McLaughlin, was Steven Langdon. He is 43, a PhD who’s been the MP for Essex-Windsor since 1984.
The reactions of the crowd, as reported in the papers or caught by TV’s cameras, could be compressed to the following impressions.
While none of the six had bombed it was clear Langdon and Mclaughlin, the media favorite, got the most applause.
In particular, Langdon hit a strong chord in returning to the party’s socialist roots, abandoning a quest for voters which compromised NDP ideals and principles.
Some present unfamiliar with Howard McCurdy, the black NDP MP from the Windsor region, were surprised at the passionate vigor of his opinions. Ian Waddell and Simon de Jong, the more experienced MPs in the lot had been competent and gave some diversity in policy priorities but not with the socialist clarity of Langdon or the reasonableness of McLaughlin. The one candidate not an MP, Roger Lagasse, a schoolteacher, was mainly a reminder there are fey idealists in the party.
These impressions gained from the media coverage were confirmed subsequently in talking around Parliament Hill. None of the five MP candidates thought it was a bad start. Several workers for the caucus told me Winnipeg had confirmed what they had estimated – that Mclaughlin is the prime contender. Beyond the gender margin she is a likable personality, is clearly an able MP, and has the voice, diction and face to be fine for television. Also she’s managed to get along with everyone in her two years in the caucus.
On this last factor – getting along – McCurdy is considered the prickliest personality within the caucus. As a House performer he’s almost all “cry havoc.” De Jong, rather unfairly, is often taken as a floater, too esoteric in a professor-in-politics sense. The busy-busy Waddell is a quipster, sometimes jarring the dour devotees of the party. Also, he has been in and out of favor with caucus leadership over his stands on some hard issues – like Meech Lake.
Langdon is very courteous and precise in his relations with others, and too industrious as both “critic” and as caucus-mate to be seen as a lone wolf like McCurdy. However, the respect he’s earned for being a master of economic issues has not made him warmly popular, say in the way Ed Broadbent has been and was when the party chose him as leader.
Langdon has wrestled well with his speech difficulties. The wavering and strain in his voice are noticeably less, and for television’s urgent but brief demands he is now rather polished. It seems unlikely this congenital problem is a heavy handicap in the race. Simply put, everyone is aware he has limits as an orator, but none of the others except McCurdy is an orator at this stage.
Now, to vault back to the initial reference to Michael Cassidy and to bring out some parallels between him and Langdon.
Cassidy is the former NDP MP for Ottawa-Centre (1984-88) and before that was an Ontario MPP for the same riding (1971-1984). Also, he was leader of the Ontario NDP from 1978 to 1982. Before politics Cassidy worked as a journalist and as a university professor. So did Langdon. Cassidy’s post-secondary education was in economics, as was his journalistic specialization, and so were Langdon’s. Both men are very serious, almost sombre, about life and work. Smiles or pleasantry are not their forte. They are very industrious.
When Stephen Lewis flabbergasted his party by quitting its Ontario leadership in 1978 his succession brought three MPPs into the race – Ian Deans, the Hamilton firefighter who had had 11 years in the Legislature; Mike Breaugh, an Oshawa teacher; and the aforesaid Cassidy.
If the race in 1978 had been determined by such factors as being bona fide working class and a union stalwart or having a high reputation in the Legislature as a strong partisan performer and a real mixer, Deans should have coasted home. But there has been among the general swell of party members
– and arguably still is – an immense respect for a couple of attributes; firstly, for an obvious higher education, secondly for a certifiable socialist zeal, and lastly for a learned vocabulary that augurs profundity.
Deans? No. Cassidy? Yes! He overturned expectations and won, as I saw it then, on his clear edge over Deans on those attributes, crystallized in a superior, earnest speech to the delegates.
Bitter, Deans swerved to the House of Commons (and ultimately into some Tory patronage). Cassidy turned to the House after he quit as provincial leader. He had not caught on with Ontario or the party. He was not magnetic or gracious as a sharing, boosting boss in the caucus, however sound he was as socialist and economist.
So you see my thrust in comparing Cassidy and Langdon. Is it awry? Well . . . recall the last two NDP leadership conventions. The favorites did win (David Lewis in 1971; Broadbent in 1975). But longshots gifted as socialist ideologues surprised everyone. I refer to the Waffle professor, Jim Laxer and in ’75, Rosemary Brown, the B.C. MLA. So watch Langdon.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, August 30, 1989
ID: 12934799
TAG: 198908300128
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

ALL ABOARD ETHNIC EXPRESS

TEXT:
Of all the ministers who spoke to Tory delegates last week Secretary of State Gerry Weiner made the most forceful presentation. His theme was the imperative of nailing down the increasingly important ethnic vote for the Progressive Conservative party.
Weiner is a brisk, plain man without subtleties. No profundity! He is 56, Jewish, a pharmacist-businessman who came into the House in 1984. He represents a west-island riding in Montreal. After a short run as a second-string minister he got the prime cultural portfolio last fall. He yammers away on the marvels of multiculturalism and the richness in our multitude of ethnic heritages.
The prime minister echoed Weiner’s plea that the party be more open to newcomers. If not, a door of opportunity barely open to Tories would close again. The ongoing surge of immigrants would become captive of a more welcoming party (as in the past, to the Liberals’ advantage).
Weiner presented little in statistical analysis to support an argument that either the Tories gain a substantial share of the ethnic vote in the next election (1992?) or they face bleak victory prospects going into the next century. He argues the major ethnic groupings in recent and current immigration are numerous, will escalate and have a far higher birth-rate than citizens born in Canada.
As a message to partisans, what Weiner said was useful and not all tommy-rot. The significance of the so-called ethnic vote which plumps for a favorite party has been exaggerated for years in political lore, at least in this way. Relative to the percentage of voters born in Canada or here for four or more decades, the percentage of recent arrivals (say since 1970) who are citizens is quite small.
My analysis of ethnic origins in constituencies, using the figures of the 1986 census, indicates less than 40 of the 295 ridings of Canada have such numbers of ethnic voters of one or two origins who, by banding together, will determine which party wins the riding.
However . . . where those ethnics are concentrated is a major psychological factor for any party. Each feels it must be as favorable, not forbidding to the major ethnic groupings.
Most of the “ethnic” ridings are in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. There’s a handful more: One or two in Edmonton, one in Calgary, one in Winnipeg, one in Hamilton. However, as Robert Lee shows so wittily in his new book One Hundred Monkeys, if a phenomenon is significant in Toronto, willy-nilly it is a national imperative. The Toronto-based media’s view is that Toronto is the Canadian microcosm. Because ethnic voting blocs may swing a deciding margin in 10 to a dozen Toronto ridings, heaven help a political party type-cast in Toronto as hostile to ethnics.
Even if ethnicity and multicultural palaver has a small or no writ among voters in 250 of Canada’s ridings, if there is a strong emphasis on it in some Toronto ridings then each of the parties and their leaders will pander to ethnicity.
In an era when the influence of active party members has been sliding, we have witnessed the rising strength of groups sustaining a few, major recognizable themes. The big three of these grand themes today, dispossessing old ones such as motherhood and the monarchy, are multiculturalism, feminism and environmentalism. If a matter has anything to do with visible minorities, women, or saving the world of nature, it is delicate, even sacred, stuff in politics.
It’s bizarre when you see how tough Brian Mulroney, Mike Wilson and company are talking in bringing on the general sales tax in the face of strident, strenuous opposition from so many groups. Yet they’ll crawl or dodge or delay or blarney, either to please or not displease ethnics, or women, or the environmental flock.
Ah, well, multiculturalism is “in.” It badly becomes those of us who think it vapid but dangerous to moan on and on. When our politicians and parties all board the train of some conventional wisdom one must wait and wait, hoping there’ll be something of worth left when it stops; i.e., in the case of ethnicking, something like a recognizable national identity or citizenship. Lately one seemingly inexorable bandwagon – bilingualism – has slowed and almost stopped. Soon, perhaps with intelligent leadership, we may find something good has been learned of the limits to workable accommodation between our two language communities.
To close, a cheerier note from one of our “mother countries.” A Tory minister in the U.K., John Patten, spoke to minority ethnic groups there a month ago. Imagine Gerry Weiner or Brian Mulroney being this direct. Maggie Thatcher’s race relations minister said:
“A decision to participate in British life must be made in terms that are broadly acceptable to all . . . and participation includes playing one’s part in the economy, as a neighbor, and making a contribution which goes beyond one’s own family or, indeed, community.”
Patten enjoined Britain’s ethnics to pay their taxes, obey the law, learn to speak fluent English, and not to try to silence others, even if they disagreed with them. Above all, secure “a sound detailed knowledge of British history and Britain’s part in world history . . . Britons, providing they share the essentials in common, can differ remarkably from each other.”

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, August 28, 1989
ID: 12934557
TAG: 198908280103
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

POW MURDERS DIDN’T HAPPEN

TEXT:
Saturday Night is about to publish an article which alleges that American and French personnel, apparently while custodians of German troops taken prisoner by the Allies in the freeing of Western Europe between June 6, 1944, and the war’s end ll months later, “casually annihilated” some one million of them.
Don’t believe it!
There isn’t any way a massacre on such a monstrous scale could have taken place. Its secret would have been blown long ago, in particular because the Americans are alleged to have taken the lead in the killings and starving of German POWs.
Further, although ties and communications between German soldiers and their families were strained and often broken by 1945, those million allegedly killed would have had parents and wives and friends who knew they were on the Western front (not the Eastern one) where survival chances were fair to good.
And within two or three years of the war’s end literally hundreds of thousands of such relatives would have been pressing for news.
One substantial German army was trapped in the Netherlands at the war’s end. The regiment I was with escorted thousands of these German soldiers across the hook of Holland and into northwest Germany to huge camps on moor lands there.
Those prisoners were well-fed and we talked a lot with them in the weeks of the transfer. They told us how they feared the Russians and how lucky they were to have survived and not been on the Eastern front at the end. They looked ahead to release and then the search for family and place.
We weren’t taunting or mean with them and none of them caused trouble or acted arrogantly.
Several years later I was told by friends who had stayed with the occupation forces in north-east Germany that most of those in the huge compounds we had seen were gone by Christmas, 1945. Released!
It doesn’t square that American troops in France would behave so unlike the American troops with whom we worked. Further, even Hollywood has informed the world – see the last days of General George Patton – about an immediate post-war issue concerning the Germans, in particular the mass of POWs.
There was a grudging admiration of their military abilities among senior American military men and this roused the gleam that here would be most useful manpower in matching the incipient Red menace.
From the reaching the Seine in August, 1944, to May, 1945 when we were probing north towards Kiel, our armored car regiment took literally thousands of prisoners.
If I had the regimental war diaries before me I could add up the total. My guess is the regiment took 15,000 to 20,000 prisoners, our squadron (of 120 men) some four or five thousand. One day in April, 1945, our troop (14 men) marched 500 Germans who had surrendered to us to a POW compound manned by the Polish Armoured Division (then in First Canadian Army).
At no time over those months did I ever see cruel or deliberately callous treatment of German prisoners by Canadians or by the Poles, British, and Americans who were in our army and with whom we worked.
It was clear, as most fighting soldiers know, that the dicey moment is getting one’s surrender accepted. Once it is, he was relatively safe, although about 100 Canadian soldiers in Normandy who had surrendered were subsequently executed by German troops. Of course, at the front in the heat of a fire-fight and the personal rages roused by death of a comrade, undoubtedly some Germans who wanted to surrender didn’t make it.
I recall a few examples of killing of would-be or possible prisoners but I can remember only one case of a German soldier being gunned down well after he had been taken prisoner.
A small number of those in the Canadian army in 1945 had the chance to see a German camp which figured in the Nazi extermination campaigns. I was one of who did; in our case, Belsen. It is an experience one hates to recall. Even to think of it again makes me angrier that at this belated day a Canadian writer asserts that those who freed Western Europe from the Nazis turned at once to their awful means.
On another morbid topic: the investigation of the murder in The Pas 18 years ago of Helen Osborne, a girl from the Norway House Indian band. It has been re-run for months to national attention through a commission of inquiry.
The town’s people who I know are rather bitter at the popular consequences of the long inquiry process which depicts them and their community as racist and unfeeling.
Many members of the RCMP are also bitter over a widespread impression that their investigation was badly done and so unpersistent that the trial of Osborne’s alleged murderers came 17 years later.
The truth is this: year after year, policemen at The Pas worked at the case. It was such an obsession that one officer, long at the post, did something each anniversary of the murder which, while understandable, was grossly illegal.
He bought a supply of screwdrivers identical to the one used in stabbing the Indian girl to death. Each year he would package and mail one to each of the four male suspects. Imagine how such an anonymous gift worked on the four recipients.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, August 27, 1989
ID: 12658940
TAG: 198908270087
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C6
COLUMN: In Ottawa

SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

PUNDIT PONDERS QUEBEC VOTE

TEXT:
Over many years my success in forecasting the winner and losers in federal and provincial elections has ranged from fair to good, partly because of never venturing to “call” Quebec elections.
This latter caution grew out of an early appreciation of my ignorance of Quebec and this has been sustained by a continuing ignorance of the French language.
Though this is not a prediction about the result I have a hunch something odd is stirring in Quebec.
Polls and pundits indicate Robert Bourassa and the Liberals are certain of victory over Jacques Parizeau and the Parti Quebecois in the vote next month.
I dwell much of my time in the province and have recently been roaming its highways and small towns.
Unfortunately, all my chats have been with those who speak English. As I scan the Montreal French dailies and catch quite a bit of French TV-news, they complement the view that Bourassa cannot lose.
Also, I discount the impression made on me (and my sense of justice) by the recent burst of militant criticism of the Bourassa government from Anglo Quebecers for whom the signage law reducing English to the “inside” has broken down their long penchant for backing the provincial and federal Liberal parties.
Let me take what may seem a detour. It’s always been interesting for me, first as a politician, then as a journalist, to drive around a lot in Quebec, as I have now for over thirty years.
The improvement in the economy and the living standards of the great majority of Canadians has been enormous through these years, including Quebecois.
This past month this long and comparative canvas on how the country is doing has reached two conclusions after several thousand miles on the road in several provinces.
Both opinions are about Quebec. It’s quality of living – in homes, gardens, cottages, cars, entertainment, sports, municipal services and “plant” such as schools, town halls and community centres – has improved relatively more than that of any other province, and far more than in Ontario (although of course from a much lower and lesser base).
Indeed, I take this opinion about Quebec’s current comfort and luxury indices to a conclusion which might astound a lot of British Columbians and Albertans, let alone Ontario people. Arguably, Quebecers by and large are now the most prosperous Canadians. Theirs is a province and society that has done and is doing very well.
It’s an old axiom about elections that people do not throw out a government when times are good and the economy is providing most of them with a wide-reaching capacity to spend and enjoy well beyond the basics. Say, as one can see on any Quebec side-road in the proliferation of satellite dishes
So, both the usual prophets and the economic signs reinforce the idea of a Bourassa romp on September 25th. Further, in my chats and observations of the media there have been predictions of an upset only from a few PQ stalwarts.
Even most Anglos now hostile to the Liberals cannot see them suffering even minor losses. My hunch is there will be a Liberal victory but not an overwhelming one, and it might be very close.
The premier seems to be held in much more respect than he has affection but even the respect has faded from three years ago. The main reason I sense a swing against him is certainly `iffy’. The PQ does not seem to be thought a danger to the province’s stability and progress. Few seem to be fretting this summer that when a PQ victory does come it will mean some form of separation from Canada.
Bluntly, the Quebecois don’t seem to care a hoot about the rest of the country. Parizeau is clearly not beloved by the many as was Rene Levesque but is taken seriously. He’s not considered an incompetent or a light-weight, nor is their visible scorn towards current PQ MNAs or the party’s new candidates coming forward.
If my hunch is right that Bourassa strength is to drop, the tacit Bourassa-Mulroney axis will be much strained, if not broken. Bourassa with lesser backing surely means a more nationalistic Bourassa and the prime minister simply cannot accommodate much more Quebec nationalism and hold his caucus members from west of the Ottawa river.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, August 25, 1989
ID: 12658695
TAG: 198908250135
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

WRITE STUFF ABOUT THE HILL

TEXT:
There is little kindliness around Parliament Hill, particularly among Tories, for the autobiography of one of the most conservative MPs of recent times. Should a citizen who likes to read consider Erik Nielsen’s A House is not a home (Macmillan)?
My advice is read the book, even if you begin thinking this is a tale by a deep-dyed hypocrite (as so many of his ex-colleagues of the caucus now limn Nielsen). The writing is clear, the judgments pungent and often right on the mark. The life has a beginning, a long strenuous middle and some three climactic years at the immediate edge of the highest power.
There are personal revelations as bleak as any Ibsen tragedy.
There is worthwhile advice for the would-be, and the practising, politician.
The analysis of the Conservative party and its leaders from Diefenbaker in 1956 to Mulroney today is very frank with tough-minded interpretations of most of the key players. In a way it is a long log of mistakes, poor conduct, and confusion, and no person is nailed more often than the author himself.
This is not really a righteous exercise and those who are railing at Nielsen for disloyalty, hypocrisy, and viciousness should ask themselves several questions.
Over the years from 1958 to 1987 did any other Tory MP do more or as much as Nielsen to keep the caucus alive and functioning as an effective parliamentary unit or in doing such work made loyalty to the leader and his policies such an awareness factor for Tories? Surely that work through so many parliamentary sessions means Nielsen has paid his party dues. If Jack Horner, Dalton Camp, and Heward Grafftey could have their full, frank say in books about the party and its personalities why not Nielsen?
A second question is more abstract and is for those Tories who spend some time brooding with the book.
Isn’t this the authentic Nielsen, the hard, never-say-die partisan, the indefatigable, judgmental, parliamentary warrior? Of course it is. He never made it easy for those he dealt with, nor for himself. I speak as one whom he skewered and deeply embarrassed with my party colleagues years ago. When I protested that he had used information which I thought given in confidence he looked at me as at a fool, and said something about what odd game I thought I was in.
It’s bruited on the Hill that Brian Mulroney is much disturbed about the Nielsen book, largely because it does not ring with encomiums for him, partly because it canvasses the obvious – that patronage under Mulroney is much as it was under Trudeau. And as the PMO is putting out: Nielsen in office was a participant in the patronage system and ultimately benefitted from it to a level of a quarter-million a year.
The prime minister should not be so thin-skinned. Nielsen has much more devastating things to say, with explanatory detail, about other prime ministers – Diefenbaker, Pearson, Trudeau, and Clark. No prime minister in my life has been a hero for very long to many Canadians. Denigration is their stock due, sufferance about the best they ever get. Nielsen sketches Mulroney as slick, accommodating, all things to as many people and interests as possible, and in human terms in times of crisis, too considerate of others. This is both a recognizable Mulroney and a rather typical Canadian prime minister. As a familiar of politicians and a rarity among journalists, one who likes Brian Mulroney, I suggest he not take insults about him self from Nielsen’s book. Rather, he should profit from its occasional wisdom.
For example, Nielsen pins up and picks at a parliamentary pattern which persists despite the fine intentions of every party leader of recent times. Everybody wants ordinary backbenchers to play a larger role, to contribute more, but as Nielsen stresses, once an MP becomes a minister such aims are forgotten. After five years in power the gulf between this PM and his cabinet ministers is growing, and between the ministry and the rest of the caucus the gulf is as wide as it ever was in the days of Trudeau.
Both in his text and in an appendix Nielsen presents ratings or tight appraisals of some MPs, including ministers, which give Mulroney both a survey form with a group of analytical factors which he could use with great benefit now. both in reducing the great numbers in his cabinet and in weeding his place-fillers and the time-wasters.
Nielsen offers a tight, telling criticism of how the Meech Accord is traitorous to past Conservative commitments to the Yukon and worse than worthless to northern Canadians and a permanent block to future provinces. Mulroney should read this, and then go on to Nielsen’s withering sketch of Ottawa, throwing more and more billions at native affairs without any real resolution of such crucial questions as land claims or what “self-determination” or native self-government mean. The annual bill is reaching colossal proportions and yet there is so little resolution.
In recent years we have had very voluminous memoirs from Paul Martin, Sr., and the late Donald Fleming. As as book reviewer I find Nielsen far more candid, less self-delusory, and more pragmatic and realistic about both partisan politics and parliamentary activity and behavior than either of those long-serving tribunes.
As a bonus Nielsen explains nicely how TV has crocked our politics and baffled any remedies.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, August 06, 1989
ID: 12656347
TAG: 198908060091
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C6
COLUMN: In Ottawa
SERIES: last of four parts
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

MPS DISCOVER POT OF GOLD

The third column of my four on the inordinate cost of Parliament to the taxpayers ended with a summary of most benefits MPs have. Not listed was a generous retirement plan.
The plan gives quick reward to a recently departed MP, a much larger one than goes to those long gone from the House with comparable service.
After an MP contributes to the plan for a minimum of six years, he or she is eligible for a pension on ceasing to be an MP – regardless of age. For each year of service the MP receives approximately 5% of the salary, up to a maximum of 75% after 15 years. A supplementary benefit, tied to the annual cost of living, kicks in as soon as the retired MP reaches the age of 60. It’s one sweetener the federal bureaucrats have not yet attained.
A few other benefits always catch the wonder of new reporters on the Hill – e.g., the well-subsidized meals at parliamentary cafeterias and in the quality dining rooms. And there’s a virtually unlimited free mail service and limitless stationery.
Note, however, that the Hill administrators join MPs as root causes of the zooming costs. In 1949, the administrative and other support staff of the House, excluding stenos in MPs’ offices, totalled only 127. Sixteen were “protective,” 15 were messengers, four worked in printing and distributing, 19 in the Library of Parliament.
A peak was reached in 1979 with close to 3,000 staff members of whom 1,358 were classed as “administrative support” and 1,132 as operational personnel. This means more than 10 people supporting each MP.
The parliamentary library is typical of support service expansion on the Hill. It scandalizes me less than the grossness around MPs, perhaps because I was once a librarian. In 1949 the library budget was $125,000 with 19 staff. This year the expenditure will reach $14 million and the staff numbers some 250.
Now to most everyone’s parliamentary excrescence – the Senate.
As already noted, “the other place” has been less voracious than the House in straight dollar terms. Given the paucity of time and effort put in by many senators, such relative modesty is explainable.
Of course, there are a lot of crafty senators. They are now intent on catching up with the House. Apparently senators have asked the St. Germain-Fox commission, which is studying parliamentary compensation, to recommend expense allowances for them matching those of MPs. Further, they want much the same pension package as MPs.
It seems the Senate has spent some $20,000 on consultants to substantiate their claim for more and better. The recommendations of the understanding experts should satisfy the taste of every senator.
The consultants say parts of the East Block should be renovated to give offices up to 1,000 square feet, with soundproofing, a private dressing room, toilet and shower, plus a separate dining facility for senators and guests, plus a senate gym much like the House now has and which some senators use, a gym with exercise machines, sauna, and beds for resting after workouts.
No one, not even the auditors general with their policy and formulas on getting “value for money,” could be utterly objective and certain of the worth we, collectively, get from the grandiosity in public funding for the House and the Senate. As an individual one must risk judgments, as I do here.
I think that although the quality of MPs and their overall dedication to work is as high, probably higher to a small degree than in my first House of 1957, all the lavishness in services, comforts, pay and allowances which they have reached is not sustaining any better a parliamentary performance, in sum.
If anything the House itself today – in oral question period, in debate on legislation, on “grievance” days – does not do as well. And, aside from question period, MPs in a much smaller proportion are keenly interested in the House today. Perhaps MPs do committee work a bit better today, for what that’s worth. Constituents, as such, may be better served. It’s true MPs now do party work more thoroughly than years go.
To be blunt, St. Germain-Fox should fix on slashing parliamentary costs – say by 25% – and go after inefficiencies. The Hill is more a hive for bumble bees than worker bees. And it’s no model for the rest of the country in these days of debt and deficits.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, August 04, 1989
ID: 12656018
TAG: 198908040102
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SERIES: Third of four parts

SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

UNCOMMONLY EXPENSIVE!

TEXT:
This series on the inordinate cost of Parliament began with my own responsibility as a prime advocate for better pay for MPs.
Through the late ’50s and ’60s I advocated that to get really worthwhile MPs, with more control of cabinets and bureaucrats, the MPs must be better paid and provided with a range of resources for acquiring knowledge and a basic understanding of policies.
Oh, it was a “beehive on the Hill” ideal that I had. Of course, it was also clear to me, and the many other MPs who shared my optimism, that MPs who were well-paid and served would also be quicker and fuller in dealing with their constituents and their problems.
Looking back, this latter aspect – constituency service – is the only substantial part of the ideal to come to pass. Lord knows, MPs can sure get to their constituents.
To get a rough measure of how Parliament is soaking up funding let’s compare such costs with total government expenditure.
In 1949 the total federal budget was $2.3 billion and by this year it has vaulted to $103.5 billion. (This excludes the cost of servicing our national debt for reasons of methodological purity; to come as close as possible to operating expenditure, as well as a measure of poetic justice. No one, not even MPs, should benefit from the proceeds of their own malfeasance.
The budget multiple, 1948 to 1989, is 45. In the same 40 years House of Commons expenditures rose by a multiple of 72.
This makes Parliament one of the fastest growing of federal industries. Opinions about the progress of our parliamentary democracy in the last few decades may vary but I wouldn’t give the progress a multiple of 2, let alone one of 72.
Let’s now detail some costs incurred directly by our MPs.
The 1989 main estimates attribute an expenditure of $113.7 million to “members of Parliament.” What does this include?
To begin, it covers salaries and allowances for all MPs, then special allowances of political officers of the House, salaries of members’ staff and related office expenses. It covers salaries of caucus research staff and the services they use. Of course, it includes contributions to members’ retirement benefits plans.
Not included are the costs of running procedural services (the clerks, etc.), building services (security, pages, messengers, etc.), and the cost of administration (accounting, finance, dining room and cafeterias).
Using the same formula, I extrapolated the expenditure data for the previous four decades.
In 1949 direct expenditures were $1.6 million, or an average of $8,266 per MP.
By 1959 expenditures had risen to $2.8 million, an average of $10,455 per MP and a modest 26% rise over 1949.
In 1969 expenditures were $5.8 million, $22,025 per MP and 166% greater than 1949.
By 1979 expenditures hit $38.5 million, an average of $136,553 for each MP – and a 1,552% increase over 1949.
This year expenditures hit $113.7 million. That’s $385,322 for each MP and a staggering 4,562% increase in 40 years.
To get perspective on these vertiginous percentages, note that inflation has been far less ravaging. In the same 40-year period the consumer price index increased only 508%. It’s more than inflation skying our bill for the federal legislature.
Thirty-seven years ago, in 1962, MPs got $8,000 plus $2,000 for expenses. As an MP then, with a family, there was no way to keep out of debt. In the past few years I have heard no MP wail about going broke.
Today it takes a full-fledged handbook with 34 pages to outline the “allowances and services for members of the House of Commons.” Effective Jan. 1, 1988 an MP receives a basic salary of $58,300, plus a tax-free expense allowance of $19,400. The allowance may go as high as $25,600, depending on the area of the constituency.
In addition an MP has a so-called budgetary allocation of $142,900, consisting of a “principal budget” of $129,000 (to cover salaries of the MPs’ Ottawa and constituency staff) and for a constituency allowance of $13,100. The total allocation may go as high as $166,100, depending on a riding’s area and population size.
Moreover, each re-elected MP gets $3,000 toward refurbishing the constituency office; each new MP gets $5,000.
MPs, their spouses and dependent children are entitled to free rail transportation anywhere in Canada.
Each year they (and their families) can take a total of 64 return trips by air (first class!) anywhere in Canada, although 44 of them must be between Ottawa and the constituency. Of course, if the MP chooses to travel by own car or by taxi or chauffeured limousine, a suitable allowance is provided.
For those MPs who wish to visit Europe it has been possible for years to get passes on the defence department Boeings which fly regularly to Britain and West Germany.
As a new Liberal MP from my old range in Northern Ontario told me with surprise: “They’ve thought of everything for us.”
And indeed, MPs get life insurance, surgical-medical insurance, dental care insurance and flight insurance, paid from the public purse.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, August 02, 1989
ID: 12655748
TAG: 198908020126
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SERIES: 2nd of 4 parts
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

MORE MPS, MORE PAY, MORE PERKS

The traditional argument for well-paid and served MPs is well known: Without adequate remuneration the House of Commons would become an assembly of the rich.
Here the Gordian knot becomes defining what’s adequate. The politicians’ cause is supported by the ever-cushier compensation package of the federal public servants, particularly in the mandarinate. Surely our parliamentarians should not earn less or enjoy an inferior pension package. It is a circular argument. For the public servants it is comforting to know that their benefits (pensions, cost of living provisions, etc.) are intimately tied to those of the legislators.
The overall financial and administrative matters of the House of Commons is in the hands of the Board of Internal Economy. It has nine members, composed exclusively of MPs, with all three parties represented. Thus the deliberations are geared to the welfare of all. They are not, however, done in public.
As the first MP in modern times to speak out for more pay (1959) I discovered at once from outraged citizens and my party’s backers (CCF) that on compensation for parliamentarians, the Canadian public is inclined to moderation, even stinginess. As example, a 1989 Gallup poll is unequivocal: 60% of Canadians consider our MPs’ salaries too high and just a minuscule 3% would favor “more and better.”
Brian Mulroney is aware of the public mood. On two occasions, in 1984 and 1986, he volunteered a modest cut in his prime ministerial allowance and in the allowances of his ministers. These gestures were destined to remain nothing more than symbolism. Greed was too imbedded in the culture of our Fat City.
No ordinary MPs and no mandarins followed the PM in his clumsy show of frugality in this odd way of wrestling inflation to the ground.
Why this negative perception of our federal politicians? Let’s look at the post-World War II story of our House of Commons.
Until the early 1960s all MPs (190 in 1948, 265 in 1959) were housed in the Centre Block below the Peace Tower. Typically, an MP had to share one office and one secretary with another colleague.
Gradually our representatives have spread to the adjacent buildings on and off the Hill. Partly because of their growing numbers and partly because some of their premises have been usurped by their venerable colleagues from the Senate. But mainly because of their drive for more and better.
First the MPs claimed the West Block, then the East Block. Then they pushed outward, to the Confederation building and finally across Wellington St. to the to the majestic edifice acquired from Metropolitan Life.
Today a typical MP occupies three carpeted offices with chesterfield suites. He or she has a receptionist-stenographer, a secretary and a research aide. The offices have four telephones, a fax machine, a photocopier, calculators, a personal computer and printer, a word processor with a printer, office electronic communication equipment (called OASIS), two color TV sets and converters.
In the constituency the MP has another fully equipped office with a full-time employee.
This expansionist tendency is reflected in corresponding cost figures. Forty years ago the total cost incurred by our Parliament was $3.9 million. It has been rising exponentially to reach a quarter-billion in the current fiscal year.
The following table details this expenditure separately for the House, the Senate and the parliamentary library (which serves both chambers). Figures shown are in millions.
Commons Senate Library Total
19492.9 0.9 0.1 3.9
19595.6 1.8 0.4 7.8
196916.1 3.7 0.9 20.7
197983.8 13.4 5.4 102.6
1989207.1 37.0 14.0 258.1
The elected part of our Parliament has been taking an ever larger slice of total expenditure: In 1989 the House of Commons will spend more than 70 times more than in 1949. The Senate’s expenditure in the same time frame grew “only” 41 times.
Of course, in 1949 the House had only 190 members, whereas today their numbers have reached 295. Moreover, today the parliamentary year is longer than in the past. In the three-year period around the year 1949 the House had on average 119 sitting days annually; in the most recent three-year period the annual average was 165 days. The Senate meets much less frequently than does the House.
Assuming, quite unrealistically, a perfect attendance in the House of each and every MP (not to mention their perfect record of being in Ottawa on any given sitting day), I find that in 40 years the cost of a sitting day per MP rose by a multiple of 33, from $128 in 1949 to $4,255 in 1989.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, July 31, 1989
ID: 12655491
TAG: 198907310100
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SERIES: first of four parts
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

A PARLIAMENT OUT OF CONTROL

This is the first in a series about the very wide range of services and the inordinate costs of the Parliament of Canada. It requires a personal prologue of explanation.
As a populist, I have been a true believer that the common sense and pride of duty in the run of those elected across Canada is or should be at the core of parliamentary government.
Thirty years ago, as an MP, I led the fight for higher pay and better services for members of Parliament. Why? I was sure that if MPs had good pay and ample services they would do better work and their roles would attract a better calibre of candidate.
In the early 1960s I spoke in the House for more pay, shocking the prime minister (John Diefenbaker) and bringing scores of scathing letters. But the remuneration was scaled up.
Shortly, I got a small three-party group working for free air travel, to and from ridings. It was put through at the insistence of George Hees, then minister of transport.
A group of us pressured for a full-time secretary for each MP, backed by Speaker Roland Michener. Then I led a campaign to get the Library of Parliament to widen its reference services and put some knowledgeable specialists on its staff – in particular to help House committees.
Two other MPs and I got a drive going which won both modern technical facilities (like dictaphones), payment by the House of long distance calls to and from the riding, paper supplies and replication facilities on the Hill to aid in preparing and delivering MPs’ newsletters to their constituents.
In short, few are more responsible (and culpable) than I am for what has become the unconscionable extravagances which are detailed below. Hardly a vestige is left on Parliament Hill, not even memories, of what was once a most frugal operation, well-symbolized by Diefenbaker and Stanley Knowles, the two great and frugal MPs as the shift began from scrimp to spend to waste. Neither ever wanted an increase in pay.
Edmund Burke defined the ethical maxims of the elected representative with these simple words: “It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasures, his satisfactions, to their constituents; and above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interest to his own.”
In our times the Burke exhortation seems an anachronism, even in the Canadian context, naivete.
Four years ago there were some sensational revelations by former Speaker Lloyd Francis about the behavior within our parliamentary institution. At the time I observed that “For over 20 years, I’d watched a slow, steady creep of waste, extravagance, graft, nepotism, feather-bedding and chicanery with furniture and supplies.”
Since then the down curve has continued. Witness the parade of allegations of misappropriation of funds, sexual harassment of staff, even of wire-tapping. Such a litany of misdeeds has not been exclusive to federal politics. Provincial and municipal politicians seem as vulnerable.
Politicians “know that their trade is in ill repute,” concluded Tom Kent, the Liberal guru of the Pearson era. His prescription? Restructure the political process and create a commission of political ethics. Others see a cure in parliamentary reform that would give more meaning (influence? power?) to a member of Parliament.
The increasing opulence of our parliamentary institutions is the visible symptom of the declining political morality. It might even be one of its causes.
The cornucopia from which our federal politicians draw their well-being goes well beyond direct payments in salaries and allowances into perks and ancillary services such as free travel, support personnel, research facilities, constituency offices, messenger and protective services, a computer-backed video service, call-up channels for recent TV news and public affairs programs (including regional ones) and a thorough provision without cost of telephone, printing, copying, and mailing.
Until recently the bureaucratic term for direct payments to our federal politicians was “indemnity”, i.e. “compensation for loss incurred,” according to the Oxford dictionary. Today the bureaucratic accounts use the plebeian word “salary.” This shift in terminology is more than symbolic as it reflects more fittingly the changing nature of the once noble vocation of politics.
The skyrocketing costs of running our Parliament should not surprise if one considers the machinery responsible for determining the compensation package of our federal politicians. Whereas, in the more distant past the compensation structure was quite rigid and changed infrequently and almost imperceptibly, the last decade brought us the device of “independent” commissions reviewing and recommending adjustments.
Lo and behold! Each and every time the recommendations called for more and better; and invariably no MP disagreed. Stanley Knowles and the Chief are long gone.
In 1985 the commission, led by a defeated MP, Bill Clarke, recommended that MPs’ salaries be hiked to $69,000, three times the average annual earnings of Canadians! At present, another commission (led by defeated Tory MP Gerry St. Germain and Liberal Francis Fox) is preparing a “fair” compensation package for MPs and senators. The thrust of their findings can be guessed: Our parliamentarians deserve better as well as more.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, July 30, 1989
ID: 12655606
TAG: 198907300083
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C6
COLUMN: In Ottawa

SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES

TEXT:
Among nine appointments for public service mandarins announced by Brian Mulroney last week were two which make me smile, partly because one tends to contradict the other.
Put baldly, it helps to have gone to St. Francis Xavier with Brian Mulroney. Also, in Mulroney’s Ottawa it isn’t hurtful to have been a strenuous Trudeaucrat.
Peter Lesaux, 54, was at St. F.X. when the PM was an undergraduate there. (A cabinet minister once told me, while explaining why he would like me not to criticize Lesaux in any columns, that few people know “Pete was the first guy to ever nominate Brian for anything.”
This is Lesaux’s second boost by his classmate. Three years ago he was given one of the three top slots on the Public Service Commission. This was a rescue from seven years as assistant deputy minister for fitness and amateur sport where, to say the least, Lesaux was not cherished by clients of Sport Canada. Now Lesaux is president of the Atlantic Opportunities Agency, a chore worth about $125,000 a year, largely as an allocator of patronage.
The other appointment moves one Claude Lemelin, 49, to Lucien Bouchard, minister of the environment, as an associate deputy minister. Lemelin came to Ottawa at 26 as a writer for Le Devoir. It was not long before Pierre Trudeau first became a minister in 1967 (justice). Quickly Lemelin became the most fulsome of all Trudeau’s many acolytes in the press gallery. He fancied himself then as an economic analyst. I thought him a throwback to the likes of the late Blair Fraser (Maclean’s) and Bruce Hutchison in his certainty the Liberal ministry and government was the only sensible choice for sound policies and honest government.
Such discipleship gets noticed and in 1975 Lemelin became Allan MacEachen’s special assistant, from whence he bounced, ever upward, into the federal-provincial relations gambit and into finance.
Liberals who read this will be pleased to know Claude will still be there, high up, when they go back in. As for those of us still untaken with Pete Lesaux’s talents, it’s good to know he’s gone home.

What prize for inconsistency should we give the CBC? Recall the Goldhawk controversy. The CBC could not have Dale Goldhawk as host of a phone-in program because he was also head of a union, ACTRA, which was taking vociferous positions on large political issues such as the free trade agreement with the U.S.
So Goldhawk gave up his union post and ever since our numerous crusaders for individual rights and freedoms have been bombarding politicians and rights agencies in protest. But the CBC has stood firm on the rightness of its ruling.
All right, the Goldhawk decision indicates the CBC shall not sponsor in a regular program role anyone who can be widely seen to be identified with strong views which have ramifications in national political debate.
Not quite! What was in a half-page ad in our allegedly “national” newspaper a few days ago but a monster image of “Host, David Suzuki” (as described in very small print below a portrait of the guru himself). Off beside Suzuki’s face ran the banner “STOP THIS MADNESS.” At the bottom, was the sponsor, CBC RADIO.
Who doesn’t know Suzuki’s literally charismatic fame as zealous inspiration for the messianic and often wacky host which now proclaims itself the environmental movement and our savior?
The text in the big ad is pure Suzuki, hyper-scary but laced with salvation.
“We are killing our environment and our children’s future. Hear the facts, understand the problems and find out how we can stop this madness before it’s too late. Join me . . . ”
That’s vintage Suzuki: Apocalyptic; the Four Horsemen are upon us; oh, how stupid politicians and greedy entrepreneurs ruin the globe.
Suzuki is obviously above the CBC law which nailed Goldhawk and drive Roy Bonisteel to resign.

It’s 18 months since Svend Robinson became the first MP to state openly he is a homosexual. In the first bubble of interpretations of his revelation Canada was seen as entering a fresh stage of social and political enlightenment.
Robinson is arguably the most industrious, able MP in the NDP caucus. He is good in the House, excellent at TV. He is not after the leadership. And no one in the party or outside it even mentions him as a draft prospect.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, July 28, 1989
ID: 12655094
TAG: 198907280123
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

MORE BOOKS ABOUT POLITICS

TEXT:
An odd consequence of the briefer times and narrower bases of the CCF-NDP and the Social Credit party is that they draw more authors than either the Liberal or Progressive Conservative parties.
There are simply more books, good ones too, about the newer parties, Social Credit in particular, although the “old” parties have over double the history and far more support in federal elections.
The latest two witnesses of the phenomenon are (a) a clear analysis by an Athabasca University historian, Alvin Finkel, titled The Social Credit Phenomenon in Alberta (U of T Press, paperback); and (b) a bundle of recollections, gathered by Olenka Melnyk, an Edmonton journalist, and titled No Bankers in Heaven, sub-titled “Remembering the CCF” (McGraw-Hill Ryerson, paperback).
To say both books are easy reads and not over-erudite is not quite the shill each deserves.
What Finkel does well is portray the early years of Social Credit before and during its shift from being a widely popular and very general movement of economic and political reform with a generally leftward bent into a right-wing party, heavy in fundamentalist religion and far more orthodox than it was in its early “funny money” days. He shows the original elements of protest flowing into Social Credit were most disparate, ranging from doctrinaire socialists to transplanted American monetarists or “greenbackers” to Alberta farmers fed up with their own Progressive party government in the province.
The discordants were bonded for several vital years as the Depression worsened by William Aberhart, a preachy, Calgary school principal, into an “instant” party which won power in the Alberta election of 1935 and held it for 36 years.
The enemies of Social Credit changed gradually from bankers and the CPR to socialists and unions, particularly after oil and gas finds changed the economic climate and Ernest Manning replaced Aberhart as premier in 1943. A burgeoning prosperity in Alberta, rolling by the late ’40s, deadened any leftist temper.
Finkel’s story of Social Credit is a handy, fair one. One argument he develops helps explain why Alberta went Social Credit and then to the right while Saskatchewan went CCF and to the left. Although Alberta was more the root nest of the CCF it hadn’t the people with color and the missionary sense of Aberhart. The CCFers in Alberta were hurt, not helped, by previous associations with labor and socialist organizations. Early Social Credit was far more vague and more open in the sense of demanding a new world without being very specific on means.
While Finkel believes of Social Credit today that its “organization is dead as a doornail,” it’s heritage is strong in Alberta. First, Peter Lougheed, now Don Getty, have played to the same parochial interests fostered by Social Credit.
Also, there may be a role emerging federally on the Prairies for a closer successor, the Reform party of Canada. It is led by Ernest Manning’s son, Preston, and now has its first MP (Deborah Grey) in the House of Commons.
At close, Finkel is harsher on Social Credit than the run of his story. “Its legacy,” he says, “despite the generous spirit of Prairie revolt that provided its original animus, was one of obscurantism, xenophobia and the extolling of greed in the name of religion and liberty.”
One gets the history of the CCF party more indirectly in Melnyk’s No Bankers in Heaven. These are not the oft-told tales of “the Saint in politics,” J.S. Woodworth, and the tiny titan, Tommy Douglas, and the indefatigable parliamentary knight, Stanley Knowles. There’s little on the noble families of the CCF-NDP like the Brewins, Shaws and Lewises.
The format is simple; 25 sketches of CCF workers from across Canada (no French-Canadians among them). These are arranged under chapters for farmers, labor, women, minorities, radicals, grassroots, and politicians.
The memories and Melnyk’s scene-settings recreate the old clubs of the CCF, the so-serious conventions, the obsession with manifestoes, resolutions and pamphleteering. All those portrayed were strong in hope and idealism, and always gave a lot voluntarily in work and their means to the party. Several of the two dozen found the CCF not radical enough or too narrow, even hateful towards their radicalism. A few were ostracized as party officials sought a sounder image. Most in their nostalgic recall highlight the purpose and camaraderie rather better than explaining why such worthy ideals and dedicated effort brought meagre electoral results outside Saskatchewan and, more frustrating, despite the wonderful exemplar which CCF Saskatchewan came to provide.
Melnyk has a balanced book with a nice feel for the people of the party. She did scores of interviews, mostly with little-known CCFers and New Democrats. Her sketches are underpinned by her study of party archives. Some cameos are brilliant: For example, on the late Graham Spry, a broadcasting lobbyist (among many other things); and on Bill Temple, the temperance zealot who upset premier George Drew in the Ontario election of 1948, helping bounce Drew to leadership of the federal Tories.
None of the CCF-NDP books has better caught the quality and views of the many committed members I met in the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation before it was eclipsed by its more pragmatic, union-tied, successor in 1961.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, July 26, 1989
ID: 12293438
TAG: 198907260135
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

TWO PEOPLES, POLES APART

TEXT:
“The mood of Canada is strong,” Brian Mulroney says.
The prime minister was replying to a reporter who wanted his reaction to polling which showed sentiment higher in Quebec for independence.
There’s not much else for the PM to say. The midsummer lull in partisan racketing is no time for frankness about “the two nations.” He has more to reflect on than just the poll.
Relations between anglo and franco, Quebec and the rest have crept into a new phase. Brian Mulroney has surely noted the rise in articles with forebodings about the heavy antagonism to Meech Lake in English Canada. And though the bleak future for the accord and festering over Premier Robert Bourassa’s signage law are in most appraisals, the common delineation is of a chillier realism about each other on both sides of the fence.
A striking sample of the new discernment was in Dalton Camp’s second Toronto Star column since departing Mulroney’s PMO. Camp has found “that . . . either Ottawa or somewhere else in `English Canada’ is living in a different space and time.
“I was not prepared for this,” writes Camp, “but the truth is there is growing public outrage, bafflement, incredulity and despair over the issue of government language policy.”
The PM’s former adviser now finds “a palpable and growing fatalism among many Canadians, heretofore willing supporters of all federal initiatives, including bilingualism, which were to reassure Quebec in the interest of national unity. Some feel . . . betrayed. Others are simply saying: `To hell with it.’ ”
One of the “principal pillars” in Brian Mulroney’s national policy is “national reconciliation,” as Camp puts it. The mood in English Canada which Camp and many others are divining shows distancing, not reconcilement. If Bourassa handily wins re-election this fall, mind-sets on each side will harden more and back we are to an impasse on constitutional change. Of course Canada can function as the system stands, but partisan politics make marking time difficult.
Mulroney is dedicated to Quebec completely in the figurative fold but neither Quebec nor the rest of the country is any longer gravely concerned as to whether or not it is.
Sketching this “cooled-out” scenario is easy, and it’s credible. It’s harder to see how Mulroney may play it. If he cannot mark time, issuing platitudes as he did Monday, does he reassemble the first ministers, pleading it’s either Meech or ruin?
Both the Liberals and New Democrats are in a long, very public exercise. Their leadership hopefuls cannot evade the issues of Meech and signage. They have to address the old, fundamental dichotomy of Canada.
And the times are past for any of the leaders to use some previous themes on Quebec with English Canadians. For example, that “one of their own” in Ottawa (like Pierre Trudeau or Mulroney or Jean Chretien) keeps the Quebecois in line as durable federalists. For example, any resurrection of the once brimming optimism that hothouse bilingual programs would build a strong, vibrant arch of communication and understanding between the two nations. After 20 years of official bilingualism it isn’t happening.
Do you recall the great role which the government’s own broadcasting enterprise once was to play? Yes. Then think how separate Radio Canada remains from the CBC.
Recently a La Presse writer, Claude Masson, was unimpressed with the the results of official language policies.
“The English Canadians,” he wrote, “fear losing an iota of their majority power and their linguistic unilingualism in at least seven of the 10 provinces, just as Quebecois fear losing their cultural identity if they favor too much bilingualism for their public or private institutions. National unity exists geographically and in part, economically, but not linguistically and culturally. Politically, this unity remains very fragile.”
Masson’s conclusion is: “Still, after 20 years, the linguistic question continues to be be divisive, still truly traumatic for the two solitudes.”
Lise Bissonnette, in recent Globe columns on the state of the two solitudes, shows Bourassa has had to be tough and pragmatic over signage and in insisting Quebec will never join the Constitution if its distinctiveness is not part of it.
If the language programs have been such small change after so much spending and effort led from Ottawa, hasn’t there been some progress to common understanding? Something since Rene Levesque and the Parti Quebecois lost the referendum on sovereignty association eight years ago.
On neither side is there so much self-delusion.
A sadder reality is that neither “solitude” is much interested in the other. Quebec as a province and community is more a bastion than ever. Montreal and Quebec provide both metropolis and capital for Franco Canadians. Ottawa and Toronto do not. Just to mention Toronto in this context is humorous.
Has a quarter-century of hope and plans for bilingualism altered political Ottawa? Not in ready interchange or much association between anglos and francos in either caucuses or cabinet, in the mandarinate or even journalism.
The services of translation and interpretation have much improved across the Ottawa board, which is fine. Dealing with or being served by government in either language is easier. But two peoples, reconciled and working easily with each other? No.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, July 24, 1989
ID: 12292941
TAG: 198907240107
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

DON’T SHOOT MINISTERS

TEXT:
Some reporters covering the Dubin inquiry keep insisting that cabinet ministers responsible for federal sports programs be brought before Justice Dubin. Their imagery suggests these ministers are dodging and yet they should have to answer for what’s gone awry in our amateur sport, especially for an inordinate emphasis on winning medals. And this demand for victories led into performance-enhancing drug use and the trials of such as poor Ben Johnson.
The ministers for sport since 1984 have been Otto Jelinek and Jean Charest (the past year). Jelinek, in particular, is fuming (privately) because he would like to be called as a witness for the inquiry. He knows there would be an outcry of “interference” if he demanded he be called or even if he prompted such a call by a public statement.
There is an irony which Jelinek would likely want to address.
Of all the politicians in the countries of the sporting world who have been responsible for governmental sports programs and policies, he was in the lead raising the issue of drug use in sport and in forcing the subject forward for debate in international forums. Only three years ago some sports journalists in Europe saw Jelinek as an another halo-crowned, moralistic Canadian elbowing into other country’s affairs.
Some of those covering the Dubin inquiry go beyond ignoring that Jelinek and Charest must leave initiatives to the inquiry. They seem unaware of two strong curbs on any mighty writ in sport for official Ottawa.
Firstly, almost all the authority for control of the competitions and the administration of international sport lies with the sports organizations, not governments.
In particular, consider the quite oligarchic International Olympic Committee, almost always magisterial and above mere governments. For example, as the Ben Johnson fiasco exploded last year, Richard Pound, the Canadian on the IOC said, in effect: Do not look at us for action or remedies; we only have them for a fortnight every four years.
Secondly, within Canada the organization of sport long ago developed in mimicry of political organization and structure. Federations! And federations exist largely to divide jurisdictions wherever possible and where impossible to have a continuing means of sharing jurisdictions.
Almost every national association in sport is like the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association, i.e., a federation. And anyone who believes the CAHA is always ready and able to speak and act as one voice for its member federations, say for the Quebec association, knows neither hockey nor Canada.
It may be an affront to your common sense to raise the obvious, but federal ministers for sport are much circumscribed by the jurisdictions and attendant powers of international, national and provincial sports organizations.
Each year over the past 20 years, in following the growing governmental involvement and spending for sport by Ottawa and the provincial governments, I have heard bootless calls by frustrated officials, athletes and coaches for a “sports czar”, for someone “to call the shots.”
Why hasn’t it happened? No one has come up with a rational, acceptable means of picking or electing the czar. Incumbent sports officials realize they cannot delegate their rights and authorities to such a majesty. And in all the discussion of the subject no one has ever suggested the czar be a federal minister or a federal bureaucrat.
There are quite a few able and efficient municipal recreation and sports bureaucracies in Canada but even the best of them rarely dare to exert direct control on local volunteer sports groups, whether these are umbrella organizations or ad hoc to a game or activity.
Down below the few score Canadians who at any particular time are among the acme of world-class performers, there are one to two thousand athletes or players who are potentially or incipiently world class. This small group competes within national and international frames to which the federal government has had to address its sports programs and funding.
Necessarily, it has had to be a policy to develop and sustain excellence. Mass participation is the province or city’s bailiwick. The quite small minority of athletes and players who come within the scope of federal policies do have their beginnings and much of their competition and careers on their local and regional scenes, usually within the orbit or using the facilities of municipalities.
The federal, provincial and municipal governments now spend by my rough estimates some $1.5 billion a year on sport and its facilities. Of this Ottawa spends less than a fifteenth. Much of what Ottawa and the provincial governments spends goes to sustain the staffs and basic operations of the national and provincial voluntary organizations of sport.
None of these organizations is directly controlled by any government and none but a few radical socialists would ever advocate it.
The Jelineks and Charests of sport politics get spreadeagled by our penchant for fastening on government, especially the senior government, blameworthiness for any disaster or fiasco which occurs, in particular any which touch national pride.
If federal ministers are to be blamed for anything in sport, it is for not making clear their authority is narrow and limited, particularly in comparison to the IOC and the COA.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, July 23, 1989
ID: 12292549
TAG: 198907230088
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C3
COLUMN: In Ottawa

SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

DEBATING THE SHAPE OF OUR FUTURE

TEXT:
A week ago I “ranted” at the certainty Canada will be the largest taker of Chinese throngs by the hundreds of thousands from Hong Kong without ever having a candid debate by our politicians if this is good or bad for Canada or a matter for indifference.
The scenario’s underway. China takes over imperial Britain’s colony in eight years. The British won’t take many of Her Majesty’s several million subjects who will rather have fled than be Red. This leaves most of them for our multiculturally intent country where even by current trends Chinese Canadians will become the third-largest ethnicity by 2010.
My argument drew a response from Michael Bliss, a notable economic historian. Since I want a debate on Hong Kong immigration, not to stop it, the Bliss case fits my aim.
BLISS: I favor admitting large numbers of Hong Kong Chinese. Here’s why:
1. We’re not taking in very large numbers of immigrants – certainly nothing like the Laurier years in proportion to our population.
2. Because of our low birth rate, aging population, etc., we seem to need immigrants more than ever. Someone has to work to pay our pensions.
3. While I agree with the proposition that normally one would like to admit the most culturally congenial immigrants, it seems clear that the pool of these, in traditional terms, is very small. Not many white Anglo-Saxon Christians are interested in coming to Canada any more – just as few Frenchmen want to come to Quebec.
4. I wouldn’t like to see us admitting too many immigrants who are culturally uncongenial – by this I mean people who don’t share our commitment to democracy and fundamental freedoms (e.g., people who want to kill Salman Rushdie) or people who might become an unproductive pauper class.
5. Everything I know about Hong Kong people suggests that they are the most culturally congenial immigrants Canada is likely to get. I would go further and say that they would not only fit into our culture as well as anyone, but might well enrich it with their commitment to many western-type values, including democracy, enterprise, cultural causes and hard work. Surely there are important parallels between these members of the Chinese diaspora and that other group which has so enriched Canada in our century – the Jews.
6. The most important parallel, the most frightening and challenging one, may well have to do with the need to admit the Hong Kong people as refugees from Chinese tyranny. I worry there are real parallels between handing over the people of Hong Kong and the West’s turning its back on the Jews of Europe in the 1930s. How can we trust the guarantees of the mainland government? Britain may choose to repeat the ’30s; that doesn’t justify our doing it.
Bliss sees Canada as bound to change “almost beyond recognition in the next century and we can’t fight demographics any more than Canute could fight the tide or Quebec can hold back the domination in modern life of the English language. We have a big, empty land” and it becomes “increasingly clear that the future belongs to Asia and people of Asian descent. . . . They are probably the best hope we have of the best of our civilization and heritage being appreciated for future generations.”
FISHER: Hong Kongers would certainly not load our future welfare rolls or jails; hard work and economic drive fit them well, perhaps better than any other migrants. But think! After a century, Hong Kong remains a colony. Tell you anything? There and elsewhere the people of the Han have little in traditions or practice of democratic (parliamentary) government.
As for the most “congenial” immigrants, we haven’t worked at it as a nation, particularly south of our border or in Poland and Portugal. And as for the Holocaust spectre, yes, consider it, but with two footnotes. Whether its mainland China, Taiwan, or Hong Kong, overwhelmingly the stock is the same, not a tiny, distinctive grouping with an engrained religion and world view.
Willy-nilly, Canada in people terms is to be more Oriental and, in particular, Chinese. Why not gradually, over decades, the “mosaic” always blending?

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, July 21, 1989
ID: 12292044
TAG: 198907210151
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

HOUSE DODGES ABORTION ISSUE

TEXT:
The simplest way to describe the political scene with regard to abortion is not with words like “confused” or “turmoil.” Better is “awkward” – and so it should remain so for another decade or so, going by the pace of social change the last 30 years.
Despite the occasional demands that the government “must” act on abortion, there is remarkably little confusion in the minds of elected politicians as I know them. Most understand why the government waits and waits. Popular, uncontroversial legislation is as yet impossible, and the appreciation is rising among the politicians who are not strongly against abortion that the longer Canada is without criminal law on it the less chance such law will ever again be enacted.
On the Hill, each side in the issue has a clutch of zealous MPs. My guess is 40 to 50, very pro-choice; 30 to 40, pro-life. Most MPs – I’d say about 200 – would like, but know they cannot have at this time, a compromise law which allows fairly liberal access to abortion but sets a definite term within a pregnancy for the inducement of an abortion.
The liberally minded rationalists sense about abortion as a political issue much of what they did in the early ’60s about the issue of hanging murderers. Get a limited hiatus in the use of the extreme penalty and it would lead inexorably over the years to abolition.
This observation does not mean there is a grand understanding to put off legislation which would recriminalize some aspect of abortion until the regime of abortions without a law becomes routine. And women in particular won’t abide strict limits on access to abortions.
One gathers from talks with PC MPs that most without firm convictions on the issue believe there are good reasons why provincial governments and the justices of the Supreme Court who struck down the abortion law as it was should refine the issue and the practice.
That is, the court should decide the question of when life begins. And because each province is responsible for its health and hospital provisions, each should provide for the abortion practices which its public’s wants and needs.
In brief, that is the case for the Mulroney government to wait, or, to be cowardly, as protagonists on each side put it.
The court cases about abortion in this otherwise rather quiet political summer are making it harder for deliberate federal inaction. And yet, the ministry knows an enactment which meets the majority sentiment in favor of women having a relatively free choice to abort will dominate their next year as fiercely as free trade did last year. The partisan components of the issue are only clear for the NDP caucus. The Liberals are as divided as the Tories. Most Liberal MPs want a fair pro-choice law but their caucus has almost as many militant pro-life MPs as the Tories’.
Looking backward, the trend for some 30 years has been jerkily but persistently toward wide-open abortion.
In 1959 a senior politician, Paul Martin Sr., advised several newish MPs “behind the curtain” on how to have a short career in the House. Speak up on divorce, abortion and homosexuality. The pace of change was such, however, that in four years Parliament, wrangling, would quit its role as a divorce court (for Quebec and Newfoundland). Within a decade Pierre Trudeau made sexual practice a private, bedroom matter. And within 12 years a new personality emerged, in Quebec of all places, to shock us all about abortion and show the real mores of our women differed from the tradition of conventional wisdom.
In the early ’70s when Dr. Henry Morgentaler was first charged as a criminal abortionist no one foresaw him as folk hero who would rank with the likes of Terry Fox or Ken Taylor. When Morgentaler began there was an aura of misdeed and horror around abortion. Now, each year, StatsCan baldly lists the data of tens of thousands of abortions.
Of course, this great shift in attitudes and practices came within a grander evolution toward sexual freedom and the ever growing emancipation of women. It’s hard to believe that only 20 years ago it was difficult – and always embarrassing – for a man and woman to register for a Canadian hotel room without the signed assumption of marriage, and often the proof.
There is a school of worriers among the liberally minded of North America which frets about relapses back to the bygone. They note the occasional successes of American conservatives in using constitutional appeals and legislative enactments, especially by state governments, to enforce on society the mores and laws of the past. We do have such anachronisms, the Joe Borowskis, but few get elected. As example, Tom Wappel, a newish Liberal MP (Scarboro West) is an anti-abortion zealot. Last month he announced he was after the party leadership. The overall reaction on the Hill among politicians, their staffs, and journalists was somewhere between disbelief and disgust.
Oh, no!
As one who is a moderate, pro-choice advocate it would please me if things turn out the way I think they will; that there will not be any legislation on abortion passed before the next federal election.
Although the majority opinion across Canada is pro-choice, the sizable minority opinion for outlawing almost all abortions is well organized. It seems durable enough to stay the pro-choice reality for another five or 10 years. But stay, not stop.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, July 19, 1989
ID: 12291585
TAG: 198907190128
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

HISTORY REPEATS AND REPEATS …

TEXT:
Sometimes a new book reminds one of Hegel’s opinion that “peoples and governments have never learned from history.”
The quote ties well with a book from U of T Press by a Saskatchewan historian, W.W. Waiser, titled The Field Naturalist, and subtitled “John Macoun, the Geological Survey and Natural Science.”
Ottawa and, for a special reason, Hull are agog at the opening of the new Museum of Civilization along the river, across from Parliament Hill. The architect, Douglas Cardinal, 55, is an Albertan of aboriginal stock. There’s a clutch of reasons why he, his building, and the museum meandered in and out of the daily news since construction began five years ago.
There were large cost overruns, into the $200 million range. There were delays – the opening coming well over a year after the forecast.
A Tory MP from the ’84 sweep in Quebec muscled onto the sub-contract scene, selling advantage to friendly contractors. His case and its prosecution in court stalled for three years before he was finally convicted. The string of his remands and the fusses over the overruns made regular sidebars in the press and on TV for the museum, staining its lustre.
On Parliament Hill the Tories decided to dismantle what the Liberals under Pierre Trudeau had legislated in an encompassing bureaucracy, the National Museums of Canada. The NMC was created to manage seven entities: The National Gallery, the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, the National Museum of Natural Sciences, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Canadian War Museum, the National Museum of Science and Technology, and the National Aviation Museum.
The reorg has confused almost everything about museums, in particular the two extravaganzas just across from each other, Cardinal’s Museum of Civilization and the new glass house of the National Gallery. At each, tales of delays, overspending, and quarrels over design found their way into public argument over killing the museum catch-all.
Would Cardinal’s masterpiece be ready for this July, including a modicum of exhibits for its vast spaces?
It has opened to huzzahs and some chagrin of local chauvinists because Time magazine located it in Toronto. But less than half the space is filled with exhibits and a tiny but persisting portion of patrons demand (and get) their money back.
Then the municipality of Hull did its part for contentiousness. It passed a bylaw to levy an amusement tax on each paying patron of the museum. The museum’s chief refuses to collect, and the hassle will be long.
Remember, many Ottawans (many, not a few!) have been bitter since the early ’70s because the Trudeau cabinet, led by Marc Lalonde, gave Hull a growing role in housing and servicing federal departments and agencies. A glut of construction brought years of allegations over contracts and toll-gating. Among the huge edifices Lalonde sponsored for this spread over the river were several by Robert Campeau, garnishing the fortune he was to take to the U.S..
The tag “Ottawa-Hull” has become common in federal publications and in the news from the National Capital Commission, a ubiquitous presence in the planning and promotional aspects of the capital. It may seem petty but it has irritated many in Ottawa that Hull got the grandeur of the new museum.
Elderly Ottawans know the new building is to replace the Victoria Memorial Museum. This towered and crenelated block is a mile south, straight down the Hill from the Peace Tower at the end of Metcalfe St. In the grand design for Ottawa when the Victoria opened in 1912 (celebrating natural science) it was to be Parliament’s complement at the other end of our “mile of grandeur.” It has not. Instead, our grandeur has piled alongside the river – on both sides now!
Also, last week in Ottawa another bureaucratic fuss surfaced. A geologist of distinction with the Geological Survey (which is our oldest, continuing bureaucracy at 142 years) put out a memo ridiculing a “pep talk” directive circulated by the head of the survey. The latter had exhorted the ranks to be practical, ever conscious of the nation’s need for applied science. In short, the scientist dedicated to “pure” research is rebutting his leader who preaches an efficacious pragmatism aimed at more funding and political approval.
What has all this to do with The Field Naturalist?
Macoun, the naturalist, was a good popularizer. The politicians of his heyday from the mid-1880s to 1914 loved or scorned him for popularizing the Prairies as a garden of Eden (for settlers).
A lot of Macoun’s colleagues in the Geological Survey thought him a scientific charlatan, too eager for political notice, too intent on empire building. For decades a war went on between factions in the survey, Macoun much involved. It culminated in a tumult of scandal and contention over the planning, building and operating of the Victoria Natural Museum. Ministers were crucified; insiders leaked to opposition MPs; costs ran over; construction mishaps and engineering miscalculations multiplied as did quarrels over design, layout and exhibits. And 77 years after the Victoria opened a good portion of the acquisitions it had then have never been displayed.
As Henry Ford had it, history may be bunk, and we may never learn from it; but it does repeat, at least in Ottawa.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, July 17, 1989
ID: 12291101
TAG: 198907170105
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

MEDIA STUDY SHOWS ANGLES

TEXT:
The June issue of the periodical On Balance reminded me that during the the swirl of interest a few months ago over major departures from The Globe and Mail, an Ottawa mandarin of the rank asked several of us in journalism: “Why has Canada so little discussion in the media about the media?”
Surely the changes in train at the Globe were as much of national interest as a plane crash or a strike. Occasionally he’d see in the papers some analysis, often patronizing, of TV news and public affairs but TV rarely reciprocated or examined itself.
As for the dailies and popular magazines, there is little regular evaluation of either their particular selves or any other operation. And yet with him and his colleagues, opinions about the media and the performers and their biases were as common as arguments over who’d win the Stanley Cup or the leadership of the Liberal Party.
One explanation for the lacuna was given me years ago in a rhetorical question from a managing editor in Toronto. “Does Eaton’s notice or criticize Simpson’s?” This didn’t sit well with the mandarin. Why, he wondered again, should politicians, athletes, even mandarins, be marked for a running watch and commentary by reporters while they ignored their own fascinating and criticizable personnel?
The mandarin’s observations are affirmed by the scanty replication of the serial efforts of the past 18 months to analyze the “media treatment of public policy issues.” That is the avowed purpose of On Balance.
After the few issues of On Balance passed without any discernable notice of their content in either newspapers or on network TV, I thought it may have been because of the source. The National Media Archive is sponsored by The Fraser Institute, Vancouver. The Institute is known as a right-of-centre think-tank. Its basic conservatism is often referred to with scorn by most of the reporters I know.
But the Fraser link cannot be the problem in the ignoring of On Balance. There have been lots of stories in print or on air this past year which reported the economic statements and social views of various institute spokesmen or seminars. It has to be the subject matter – the media – which puts off any reporting, particularly in response or rebuttal.
Why use works like `response’ and `rebuttal’? Because the profile of findings or the trends elicited by the Archive has not been flattering, notably to the few national organizations of the media on which it has concentrated – i.e., CBC English TV news and public affairs; CTV news and public affairs; and the Globe and Mail. The Archive takes the Globe’s evaluation of itself as ”the national newspaper.”
While this regular reader of both the Globe and On Balance regrets the Archive does not cast a wider analytical net, say to the biggest daily, the Star, or to the papers of Southam, the biggest chain, it is the case that most Canadians get more of their political news and analysis from the two English networks than from elsewhere, and more Canadian politicians, federal and provincial bureaucrats, educators, and businessmen read the Globe regularly than any other paper.
The archive gets and enters the complete transcripts of TV’s national news and public affairs programming in its data base; so too with the stories in the story content of the Globe – by reporter or author and by subject, sources, locale, and opinions reported or expressed by the reporter.
Does it need saying that cumulatively, analysis shows a definite tilt towards the left in CBC stories, a slighter one, but still a tilt to the left, in the Globe. CTV tends to come down the middle of our ideological road.
But this is my broad reading of On Balance over many issues. Let’s take the June issue, titled “Priming Canadian media audiences.” It measured the coverage of the last Wilson budget, noted how opinion polls are reported, and gave the regional biases of the allegedly national news.
For example, the Globe, for all its scantiness in Atlantic region news, gives a far fairer shake to the West and a smaller but definite shake to Quebec in coverage than does the CBC. Two-thirds of CBC news is of Ontario, and in proportion it runs almost double the population share.
Here’s an elision of On Balance opinion on how the CBC and the Globe “primed” Canadians on certain issues: Free trade coverage was negative and shallow; labor reporting emphasized disputes; election coverage focussed on the campaign more than on issues; health care problems demand collective solutions; privatizing of crown corporations is assessed critically; abortion coverage features dispute rather than resolution.
On these various issues, CBC reporters worked their own slant into 37% of their stories, Globe reporters into 28%. Reporters were clearly more critical than approving of free trade, privatization, trade unions, anti-abortionists, and user-pay health care.
None of this is surprising. Most in journalism would say this is nothing but the obvious. Yes, but whenever an issue rises on freedom of the press, the media and its people proclaim their duty to report the facts as if their prime mission is to tell the truth objectively. On Balance shows the media truth is often very subjective. And this is not really discussable.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, July 16, 1989
ID: 12290684
TAG: 198907160073
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C3
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

IT’S ABOUT TIME TO REALLY RANT AND ROAR

TEXT:
Occasionally even a restrained, careful columnist has to let go . . . and rant.
For some weeks my political blood pressure has been rising over two distinct matters.
The first springs from a profusion of calls by editorialists and commentators that the Mulroney government do something. Actions are demanded. As one story heading in the Winnipeg Free Press put it: “Federal PCs lack policies, direction.”
The second is the reluctance of politicians, including our own and Britain’s, to discuss publicly the implications and possibilities which loom in the coming takeover of Hong Kong by China.
Why rant about those who are critical and derisive of the “go slow’ period this government is alleged to be in? It’s become the immediate, conventional wisdom that here is a government without “an agenda for action.” And onto this agenda there should be scores of interest groups who press their wants or needs.
To cite a few, there are calls for new or amended legislation on issues or for program spending on the likes of abortion, broadcasting, child care, the environment, financial institutions, an aboriginal justice system, rail passenger, and on and on.
It’s so evident much of our present difficulty, including as yet undetermined and devilishly complex priority-setting, stems from the federal government having tried to do too much. As the Canadian Development Institute, one of the few lobby groups which doesn’t demand more action, has put it: “There are no sacred trusts when you’re broke.”
So long as other Western nations do not declare it to be so, one supposes Ottawa is only “broke” figuratively-speaking. Having said that, one must register the numerous, never-ending choruses for more spending which we hear or read about daily. It turns us (or me at least!) to the financial box into which high deficit spending has forced us. The ways out are simple and brutal. Spend less! Raise more!
One may understand the opposition politicians (without absolving them) for almost always ruing spending stays and never addressing the huge deficits we’ve been running or the horrific zoom in the interest charges on our federal debt. Those charges are awesome. Their seemingly unstoppable growth is slowly but remorselessly edging us towards the Argentinian and Mexican dilemmas. Yet the demands are incessant for more, more, more: more laws, more programs, more spending.
It is past time for this prime minister and cabinet to pause and re-appraise with discussion and decisions focused on what is imperative, what is merely necessary, what could be delayed, and what can be dispensed with.
The Mulroney government and Parliament have before them two major fundamentals in the federal sales tax reform and in working through the issue of Quebec within the constitution. Each is hard, hard; much harder to complete, say, than was putting the free trade agreement into effect. These items should lead and dominate the government’s agenda for the next two years. If Mulroney and company stick to them and work more determinedly than they have on the deficits and debt there will be a national sense of direction that is tangible.
My other rant is dicier because one hardly has to express hesitation about refugee and immigration policies than the tag “racist” is fixed on one. But something must be said on the consequences for Canada from the Chinese takeover of Hong Kong.
As many as two million Chinese citizens of Hong Kong will want to emigrate. Few Canadians will blame them but do most Canadians want them to come here. Most will want Canada. The reasons are obvious.
We are already taking more Chinese than any other country. Of all considerable countries Canada has the most liberal refugee and immigration policies.
While Britain has triggered the dilemma it is still traumatized from its post-war burst of non-white migrants. Bluntly, Brit will not take tens of thousands from Hong Kong.
Our multiculturalism policy makes frank discussion about restrictions, ceilings and quotas on refugees difficult. Yet frank debate is urgent. Otherwise, politicians will drift with decent ambiguities and Canada will get a surge of refugees for which we are unready – psychologically, socially, and practically.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, July 14, 1989
ID: 12290189
TAG: 198907140142
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

YVES FORTIER HAS TRUE GRIT

TEXT:
Take this obvious banality: Much that is unexpected will happen in a year. This is a preface to a limning of the perfect candidate, a marvellous, prospective prime minister.
Who hasn’t watched and sympathized as pleading and lamenting New Democrats, brimming with profound concern, are trying and failing to draw the exquisite among profoundly concerned Canadians into leading them? Stephen Lewis, the ex-ambassador to the United Nations, has refused the pleas.
Lewis, remember, was appointed to the U.N. by Brian Mulroney in 1984 and served in New York almost four years with distinction before resigning, thus shedding his growing ignominy as an appointee of a prime minister whose government does so much with which he profoundly disagrees.
All right! Change names but let us keep to the topic of our man at the U.N. and party leadership.
Mulroney turned from NDP to Grit ranks to man the top job at the U.N. It says right in Yves Fortier’s entry in the Canadian Who’s Who that he is “Liberal.” This comes right after an item that he entered the Order of Canada in 1984 and before data on his recreations: “skiing, tennis, golf, squash.”
Just like Lewis, Fortier has publicly declared his unwillingness to run for the leadership of his party. A goodly fraction of the Liberal party cadre would love to have him, in the race and as leader. No doubt about it, if he should change his mind or be persuaded to in the next eight to nine months he would, on declaring himself, become the favorite in the race. Yes, (in my opinion) ahead of Jean Chretien.
How could this be? What has Yves Fortier got which makes him such a cherishable jewel as a politician?
The answers can be split in two: firstly, precedents, or the previous experience of Liberals with leaders; secondly, the qualities of the man in question.
Since Laurier became prime minister in 1896 the Liberals have held power more than two thirds-of the time. After Laurier as leader came King, St. Laurent, Pearson, Trudeau, and Turner. All but Turner were recruited into politics in mature years. They had not been professional politicians. They became leaders after remarkably short parliamentary experience. Each flew past other candidates with vastly more electoral experience and with larger national names – King over William Fielding; St. Laurent over Jimmy Gardiner; Pearson over Paul Martin; and Trudeau over Bob Winters, Hellyer, Martin, etc.
Liberals with memories know the advantages in a leader fresh to partisan politics. They should! They know how hard it will be in the coming months for Jean Chretien and Lloyd Axworthy, even the relative neophytes Paul Martin, Jr. and Sheila Copps, to seem exciting, to raise national expectancies on what is to come.
Those are the precedents for an outsider of talent storming into win and lead the Liberal party into office as soon as Brian Mulroney gives the next electoral chance.
To turn to Fortier, one would have to search long and far to find a more likely prospect for leading the Grits where they know they belong.
Six years ago when Fortier was president of the Canadian Bar Association I had chances to see him close up at work. As a journalist I had to be curious about him after hearing tips of his skills and ambitions ever since he came back to Canada in 1960 from a Rhodes scholarship at Oxford.
The tips particularized towards two high offices. Those bent on politics said “the ideal prime minister!” Those involved in law said “a future, great chief justice!”
If you wish your own witness to Fortier as ideal for the Liberal leadership may I suggest you locate (at a public library or from your MP) issue no. 9 of the House committee on External Affairs and International Trade. On June 22 Yves Fortier set out for committee’s MPs the current, fluid and exciting situation at the U.N. with Canada in a rarish two-year term on the Security Council. I will be shocked if after reading his statements and responses to the MPs you cannot vouch for his redoubtable intellect and political adroitness.
Fortier is 53, married, with three children. A Montrealer, he left a senior law partnership for the U.N., plus almost a dozen corporate directorships, including the Royal Bank. He is deft and very quick in both English or French, certainly more so than those three from Quebec who have been extraordinarily good – i.e., St. Laurent, Trudeau, and Mulroney.
Fortier is a small, compact, energetic man about the same size as Trudeau. He is blondish with a ruddy complexion and lots of hair. His features are small and regular. His eyes are good as indicating “I’m listening.” While no kaleidoscope of emotions plays across his face he is certainly not stiff or stuffy or ultra-formal in manner.
Is Fortier well-informed, politically and federally speaking? Yes. Aside from being as studious a constitutional historian as Trudeau he has a remarkable grasp of the parliamentary process, governmental structures, and international affairs, including finance.
Finally, is Yves Fortier likable?
I had to pause on this one. Not unlikable! But in the contexts in which I have viewed or read him liking tends to be obscured because he is so glaringly talented, so impressive.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, July 12, 1989
ID: 12289665
TAG: 198907120128
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

FISCAL HISTORY A REAL `PRIZE’

TEXT:
Fifty dollars seems much for a book. It is the cost of the most useful paperback to reach me in years. For a political writer the book, A Fiscal History Of Canada – The Postwar Years, by J. Harvey Perry, is a heavy bonanza of 1,058 pages. Literally it lets me toss out almost a filing cabinet of old federal and provincial budgets and swatches of tax reports, briefs, and acts.
This book may be far from as exciting to you, unless you too find few things more prizable than a solid, well-organized, neatly-indexed reference book about the finances of federal and provincial governments, in particular one with fair, cool commentary and some 240 tables and charts.
Mr. Perry is 76, and a graduate B.A. in economics and political science (U of T, 1935). He spent from 1936 to 1952 in Ottawa with the Dept. of Finance, becoming a special adviser on taxation. Then he moved to direct research for the Canadian Tax Foundation and shortly became its chief executive. From 1961 to 1974 he ran the Canadian Bankers’ Association. Through most of his working life he has been turning out books and annual appraisals, particularly on taxation, and also doing particular chores for governments such as serving on the Carter Royal Commission on taxation in the ’60s.
A perspective back past Confederation is a long story, whether of elections and Parliaments or of ministers of Finance and budgets. Of course, this is a history to use for particulars or more broadly, to perceive Canadian trends and major policy shifts. Perry’s contribution to our polity has been to give anyone who is or has to be interested in finance and taxation in the broadest or in any particular sense a running record of it from before 1867 to 1987. His latest, great compendium and analysis, published by the Canadian Tax Foundation, carries forward an earlier two-volume work of his published in 1955: Taxes, Tariffs, and Subsidies. It covered our finances from pre-Confederation until the end of World War II.
In short, Perry has spent some 54 years since leaving university studying and writing about how governments have raised and spent money; and he covers it all like a careful, thorough historian.
A fair way to show whether you might want to own the book or file it in your memory for some future reference is to run over its main components.
Remember, the overwhelming emphasis is on actions, on facts, on effects, and not on opinions or abstract arguing. Perry leaves you the data to interpret with your biases.
The “prologue” of 36 pages is a overview of post-war economic history, summarizing tightly such topics as “new role of the state; inflation; real economic change; economic cycles; international trade; employment and unemployment; principal outlays; how was growth paid for; government deficits, pre-and post-1970; cash requirements; the financial management system; the national accounts; intergovernmental transfers.”
Then come 250 pages on federal fiscal performance and budgets. Want to know what Chretien or MacEachen did or tried to do as minister of Finance? It’s all there, with much on how we took to Keynesianism; how first inflation, then “stagflation” haunted Canada from the mid-60s to the early ’80s; and how measures to master both and recessions, brought us to ”the deficit enigma.” There are chapters on the many “re-orgs” of the federal government, including the departments, the cabinet, and the PCO-PMO; analysis of the effectiveness or failures of various tax measures; even a delineation of the growing flow of public advice on the economy from think-tanks or the multitude of commissions, task forces and committees.
Perry’s method is straightforward. First he gives the flow of actions or events, chronologically; then he steps aside and into a specific aspect such as tax reform or the federal deficit, and elaborates, always with tables of data.
From this emphasis on federal budgets and economic policies Perry goes to “governments in the large;” that is, what provincial and municipal governments have been taking and spending or transferring. For example, what Ontario gives to its municipalities, what Ottawa transfers to Ontario. There are segments on consumption taxes, social security charges, even logging, mining and petroleum taxes.
Then comes a long section on the general fiscal history of each province.
The last fifth of A Fiscal History is “mainly international”: trade; the GATT experience; non-tariff barriers; pre-’85 tariff policy; the steps to free trade; defence policy; the forces; international taxation; and, finally “Canadian tax reform.”
Let me end my tribute to Perry’s “prize” with a tribute he gives in explaining “the social revolution.”
“A striking instance of the influence of even a single dedicated opposition member is the role played by Stanley Knowles of the NDP in the furtherance of federal pensions for the elderly, a role recognized by the whole House in the granting of honorary status for him as a member after his retirement.”

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, July 10, 1989
ID: 12289002
TAG: 198907100110
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

PROSTITUTING BY POLITICIANS

TEXT:
Busting reputations! Marcel Prud’homme, MP (Lib. Saint-Denis) came to Parliament in 1964. At 53 he is now the dean of all backbenchers. He’s a strong personality with vivid opinions. And so I asked what he thought of Valcourt.
To explain, Bernard Valcourt, MP (PC Madawaska-Victoria), is in hospital with serious head wounds from a crash off his motorcycle in early morning hours at Edmundston, N.B.. He was first elected in 1984 and is minister of consumer and corporate affairs. He is 37 and has a family.
Prud’homme grimaced and said: “The media at its worst. Relentless after politicians . . .” He paused, then said: “But we bring it on ourselves. So often, especially around here, we offer ourselves to them, we barter our wares before their cameras and mikes, much as prostitutes do to customers.”
Had he noticed that within an hour of the first news on the wire that the seriousness of Valcourt’s condition was subsumed by questions of scandal?
“Of course, who could miss it,” said Prud’homme. “The first issue of whether he would live or die went `poof’ immediately in favor of finding something diabolic or shady that must be revealed. A flock of reporters went chasing anything about the case. Exposing wrongdoing and cover-up.”
“You know Valcourt,” said the Liberal MP. “One has to like him. He’s full of life. He’s bright and fair. He does well in the House as a debater . . . already one of the best. Yes, and at getting into us. It is sad if he’s badly damaged physically but who will forget now this other damage of suspicion. Here was a politician – imagine one of those scurvy beggars – so unprotective of himself he rode a big motorbike for fun and visited around his riding with it . . . and probably took a drink or two.”
As Prud’homme says: “We are a terrible lot. As one of you columnists keeps writing, in one way or another: Never trust a politician!”
At that place in our conversation, to which another MP was listening, a young man strode over to us, his eye on the other MP. They grasped hands, the lad smiled and bowed and said brief words of gratitude to the effect that he and his family deeply appreciated the great help the MP had been.
As he made his exit, Prud’homme said: “You see, there are crazy people who trust a politician.”

Last week a visitor straightened out some particulars in her past for me. She did it with more wit and grace than most who have been targets of a columnist.
A fortnight ago I wrote a piece, titled `Eco-hero.’ This was the tag of praise awarded Elizabeth May, a zealous environmentalist (and also a lawyer) by the Pied Piper guru of the “movement” David Suzuki.
The main material dealt with May in her two year sojourn as aide and adviser to Tom McMillan, Mulroney’s minister of the environment until the PEI voters rejected him.
My source stuff was a long, biographical sketch of May in the glossy environmental magazine Borealis.
The author was Ed Struzik, a reporter who has covered “green” issues for the Edmonton Journal. He’s about the same age as May (mid-30s) and very keen on environmentalism; so much so he is preparing a program series for CBC Radio.
May had no quarrel with my interpretations of her role as I had taken them from the article but she was disturbed that I had:
(a) highlighted her similarity to the late Mackenzie King in reading crystals for inspiration and consulting psychics;
(b) stressed her contempt for the oath of secrecy which she had taken when she entered service with McMillan;
(c) noted she had dealt clandestinely and illegally while serving McMillan by retailing confidences and plans to MPs for the two opposition parties and, even more shockingly, conspired with Speaker John Fraser regarding the B.C. issue of creating a park (South Moresby) in the Queen Charlottes.
She told me she had taken up her distress at such interpretations in Struzik’s article with the Borealis editors.
She expected them to straighten the twists in a future edition. On her first reading of Struzik’s piece, while aghast, she told herself that few were ever likely to read it.
Then my column based on it brought her a phone call from. McMillan, He read the column to her, and vividly, painfully, she realized how hurtful it could be to men she so much likes and respects like McMillan, Fraser, and the MPs she allegedly colluded with, Jim Fulton (NDP) and Charles Caccia (Lib.)
May accepts that she spoke too loosely to Struzik. She regrets he got so much wrong. She knows what an oath means, legally and morally. She did not break her oath or do anything clandestine with either politicians or buddies in the movement.
What the minister, through her, was doing during the long South Moresby negotiations with Bill VanderZalm was apprise the other political parties of developments.
In effect, there was a federal tri-caucus consensus on creating the park. As for Speaker Fraser, he has been a strenuous public advocate of environmentalism and responsible silviculture. He holds a B.C. riding and has as much status and respect in the province as any other federal politician. That’s why she drew him into McMillan’s hopes for the park and he was kept informed of developments.
Another day for May’s view of her mission.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, July 09, 1989
ID: 12288704
TAG: 198907090066
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C3
COLUMN: in Ottawa

SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

A BEAM OF PLEASURE FOR WINEGARD

TEXT:
William Winegard, the federal minister now responsible for “science and technology,” has the credentials. He is a scientist (metallurgy) and an engineer. He has been both a university president and a business entrepreneur.
When asked a few days ago how he had found the country’s scientific research and technological development he became serious about the profuse needs and lacks. Of most concern to him is the public’s lack of interest in science and scientists. This means there is a lack of persistent, intelligent pressure on governments, educators, and private corporations to proselytize recruits.
Then into Winegard’s stern realism came a beam of pleasure. He was realizing something different or more promising was going on in Quebec.
Winegard said: “Data just being readied for release shows Quebec is now investing more in research and development and in educating scientists and engineers than is Ontario. The impetus has grown since the province’s educational system shifted away from the classical colleges, taking up the CGEPS or technical colleges with vigor. Their schools have a bent to recruiting young people for science and engineering. A lot of Quebec companies are enthusiastic about research.”
It seems a disproportion of joint programs between governments, universities, and companies for R & D are shaping in Quebec. Minister Winegard has been most impressed with the elan for the future of his fields among Quebecois. His reading of Quebec has a fit somewhere in what you should have noted in recent editorials and commentary in Anglo papers about Franco-Anglo relations tipping awry.
Until the Quebec provincial election is over, probably by Nov. 1, overt debate by federal partisans about the trends is unlikely. Nevertheless, there is deepening unease on the Anglo side outside Quebec. Simply put, it stems from two disturbing manifestations about our “two nations.”
Exhibit #1 is the increeasingly short temper in English Canada with Quebec. Anglos seem choking on what they see as ever more concessions to the Francos, represented by the Bourassa government.
Exhibit #2 is the ever-burgeoning confidence of the Quebecois in themselves, coincident with a waning, rather than the predicted waxing, of their interest in the rest of Canada, even to their own diaspora beyond the province.
Taken together – as they must be – the exhibits suggest a mood, maybe even a formula, is developing which would force the country towards a new arrangement between the two nations, and not one based on the Meech accord with its view of Quebec as a “distinct society.”
Some recent statistics fit the pattern of Quebec as very unique amd under pressures to reinforce this. While the province rivals Newfoundland in its high percentage with a sole ethnic origin – 78% French, it is proportionately getting considerably less in new immigrants than Ontario and B.C. StatsCan data on language and on birth rates shows most of Quebec’s more recent arrivals – Italians, Portuguese, Macedonian, Greek, Chinese, etc. – tend to English uage rather French and to ensuring their kids get English first. Of course, for years the Francos have had the lowest birth rate in Canada.
Let’s add a few odd indicators of Quebec uniqueness, self-centredness, and rallying round the French language.
Overwhelmingly, Francos use the federal privacy act system and the federal ”access to informnation’ system less than their proportion in numbers to rest of us (i.e., one to 4). Similarly with prison inmnates. The correctional commissioner (or ombudsman for convict’s complaints) gets far fewer grievances, proportionately, from Quebecers than from inmates of the other provinces.
The Quebecois may not really be “going” but believe it, they are not blending in.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, July 05, 1989
ID: 12287356
TAG: 198907050137
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

SPICER COVERS QUEBEC BASE

TEXT:
Cherchez Quebec! What’s the Quebec factor? One always has to ask this about anything coming up or out in Ottawa. It’s like the “cherchez la femme” admonition in the old murder mysteries. So is there a Quebec factor in the appointment of Keith Spicer to chair the Canadian Radio-Television Commission (CRTC)? Of course! Without it, the choice was rather daffy.
The political folk were befuddled. Spicer’s not a known Tory nor, despite some pro-free trade, pro-Meech editorials in his paper (the Ottawa Citizen), a boomer for Mulroney and company.
The media folk were buffaloed. Managerial and technical personnel realize Spicer knows little of their domains. Always as a print journalist he has been rated as the brilliant, uneven amateur whom Southam let loose within a newspaper. Joy at the CRTC appointment suffused the Citizen reporters of my acquaintance. While this reflects their scanty opinion of Spicer as editor, their “Thank Gods” were leavened with a recognition that Spicer has flair and a facility at popularization.
He’s rather a male Adrienne Clarkson or a latter-day Charles Templeton – very bright with style and a gift for poise, pose, and publicity. But why a gifted generalist and “pop” intellectual in the heavy task of chairing the CRTC?
Surely Mulroney picked Spicer because he covers nicely the Quebec base. He’s well and rather favorably known there. His seven years as first language commissioner and his long stint as a TV interlocutor on French TV have made him familiar and shown Quebecers he’s like Trudeau or Mulroney in bilingualism.
The prime minister can read the storm clouds piling. They put Meech Lake and its “distinct society” clause in peril. Clearly, the strains are to worsen the Anglo regions of the country and Quebec. The Quebecois are far more confident and self-centred than a mere nine years ago when Levesque and the PQ were shaping to the referendum.
Spicer would not lead CRTC that impinged on Quebec’s interests yet he is a credible federalist there. As a `de facto’ Anglo he gives Mulroney more latitude in some other appointments. For example, it means less need to alternate an Anglo in place of Pierre Juneau at the CBC.
To do the CRTC chairmanship well is hard, as onerous as any job the PM has to fill. What boggles the mind is Spicer’s lack of specifics. The current commissioners are a very weak crew. Further, the Tories have not legislated a long-awaited, embracing broadcasting policy for the CRTC to run. Also, the CRTC rules and administers (as the recent Bell rollback reminds us) both broadcasting and telecommunications.
The inter-penetration of the two fields, both by cable systems – Canada is “the wired country” – and the newer communication mechanisms based on the personal computer; the modem and fax, has gone far. While we could have an inferiority complex about Canadian research in much of advanced communication hardware, our country is at the global forefront in applying advanced broadcasting and telecommunications technology. The corporate interests are mighty, and the mass of us as users or consumers are apt, even sophisticated.
There has been a quiet, steady withdrawal of the partisan politicians from any desire to lead these fields or trumpet directions for those in them. Not one of the three political parties currently has an expert critic in the fields, certainly not in the ministry. Aside from the usual genuflections about the CBC’s great worth, politicians rarely make statements of clarity or vision about the licensing work or the oversight roles of the CRTC. Neither the cabinet nor the House committees seems keen to be closely involved in shaping broadcasting and telecommunications.
To weigh the readiness of the politicians and the parties to keep at arm’s length from the provenance and activities of the CRTC, consider the dearth of outcries about its recent work, in or outside politics, compared with the uproar roused and continuing over cuts in a service few of us use (VIA Rail) or over the closing of some of the defence establishment’s many bases. No more is there such fervor and dissent like that in broadcasting and communications. Why not?
First, there isn’t any wide, public unhappiness with either aspect of what the CRTC rules over. In part this is because there have been many recent advances in technical means and services, and for most, particularly in TV, the system seems to give so much choice.
Also, both fields are very complex, technically and organizationally. Most pieces of the action are institutionalized in such major companies that plain citizens (and their MPs) back off and leave scrutiny to the experts and, perhaps, to the big national associations such as the Consumers’ Association.
Cabinets and mandarins know better than to stir up hornets’ nests of protest with radical proposals which would intrude into fields long under regulation and which might affect such touchy subjects as limiting channel choices or TV choice or lead to drastic increases in service bills for phones and cable. Keith Spicer seems too quick, too amiable, and too bilingual to foul up, ignorant though he may be as he goes in.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, July 03, 1989
ID: 12286541
TAG: 198907030098
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

ALL QUIET ON THE FEDERAL FRONT

TEXT:
The MPs quit the Hill for their three-month summer break two days early. Hypocrites! Ten days ago opposition leaders lambasted a brutal government for gagging them by closure while cabinet spokesmen set out the bills and stages for them which had to be reached before the break. This was not reality. All three caucuses wanted out.
There aren’t any blazing legislative priorities. It’s obvious the victims of the long break are the media mob, particularly the TV group. Alternatives for them to the House or its committees’ hearings look bleak. The two leadership contests are still at the preliminaries. Cabinet shuffling is unlikely. The Meech accord is still newsworthy but the PM can do little with it until Robert Bourassa has his fall election. Canada hosts no summits this summer.
In short, this ought to be the quietest political quarter in years, at least federally. Clearly, summer politics in both Ontario and Quebec will be lively.

An oddity in recent media coverage across Canada is the dearth of stories outside Quebec of the fascinating allegations about Brian Mulroney’s longtime friend and associate Sen. Michel Cogger. By contrast, the prosecutions and current investigations of PC MPs in Quebec have had lots of national play in the past few years. The latter cases seem relatively penny ante to Cogger’s alleged role as lawyer/fixer for clients seeking massive federal funding for their projects.

David Dingwall, a lawyer, 37 years old and for the last nine years the Liberal MP for Cape Breton-Richmond East, has told me he is almost certain to enter his party’s leadership race. He’d fit somewhere in the score of ablest opposition MPs. He’s earnest and quick, has good content and some ideas. He’s fine on his feet and able as a debater.

Now Stephen Lewis has fully, finally, and for all time formalized that he cannot bear returning to something as “obsessive” as leading a political party, perhaps those in the party’s cadre who wanted him most might turn to his chum and longtime associate Jerry Caplan. If they cannot lure Damon, why not try Pythias? Caplan has presence for any public occasion. Some in the party talk up Nelson Riis despite his obvious drawbacks simply because he’s seen as good TV.
Caplan is even better on TV than Riis. He’s smarter and a far abler arguer. Further, he’s rated highly by media people, especially those at the media’s Metro core. He writes cogently, has a nice devious touch for the right occasion, and he’s known nationally as a spokesman and interpreter for the NDP. Most of all, through his bond with the party’s royal family, his loyalty to the party is above reproach. Also, Caplan has demonstrated, as has Lewis, good economic sense in developing an excellent living, by and large as a professional New Democrat.
Is this summation done seriously? Yes. Anyone who would check the various attributes necessary or useful for an NDP leader, then rated Caplan alongside, say, Audrey McLaughlin, would give him an edge on every attribute except gender. and As a Torontonian there is a natural riding for Caplan – Beaches-Woodbine, already in NDP hands through Neil Young, one of the party’s most loyal soldiers. When I spoke of Caplan as Lewis’ surrogate to an NDP MP, one without leadership aims, he recalled to me the other Damon & Pythias duo in the NDP – he even called them a Charlie McCarthy-Edgar Bergen act. He said both of them, you know, like Ottawa a lot more than Toronto.” He was referring to Bob Rae, NDP Ontario leader, and his amaneuensis, Robin Sears.

Did the last election bring into the House any or many new MPs who are certain bets to be stars of the federal firmament? This “Hot Stove League” kind of question was kicked around last week by a some political groupies in the press gallery after a nostalgic MP from the class of ’68 rose in the House to name and honor the other eight survivors. In our chat there was broad agreement the most recent intake was of fine quality, particularly for the Liberals.
Here was my estimate of newish MPs who seem to me certainties for national prominence. For the Tories there are at least three, two of them ministers, Vancouverite Kim Campbell and Montrealer Gilles Loiselle; the Tory backbencher who’s emerging as the party’s Atlantic star is Bud Bird from Fredericton. For the Liberals, there’s a trio: Torontonian Dennis Mills; the native northerner, Ethel Blondin; and Kingstonian, Peter Milliken. For the New Democrats, the certain luminary is Victoria’s John Brewin.

Although the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery is almost a century old and has had a constitution for much of that stretch, it was only incorporated as a non-profit organization under the Canada Corporations Act two years ago.
In its first financial statement and audit, now published, “the status and nature of activities” of the gallery under the act is put succinctly. It “regulates the use of and classes of persons entitled to use of press room and press gallery privileges in the Senate and House of Commons. As for its finances, the Gallery spent $49,347 last year, $29,538 on the gallery dinner; some $26,000 is in reserve. Of course, the gallery pays Parliament nothing for the space, employees, and supplies it uses.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, July 02, 1989
ID: 12286499
TAG: 198907020088
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C5
COLUMN: Backgrounder

SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

CANADA: THE STATE OF NATIONS//IN OUR NATIONAL HYPOCHONDRIA, WE FAIL TO SEE HOW LUCKY WERE ARE

TEXT:
How fared the country on its founding day? Well!
Well . . . really rather well, if one considers comparative economic and social indications. Compared with most other countries. Compared with troubles of our past.
If a year by year utilitarian calculus of happiness for Canada were available, surely 1989 would be in the higher ranges. This is the reality even though our penchant as the hypochondriac or worry-wart of the western world belies it.
But turn to the next question, the question repeated so often in Canada, even before our first “Dominion Day” in 1867: How go the two nations? And the answer is longish and uneasy, considering the decade we are leaving began with the defeat of the referendum on sovereignty association posed by Rene Levesque and the Parti Quebecois.
It reminds me somewhat of the British prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, returning from seeing Hitler at Munich and declaring to the relief of so many that he had gained “peace in our time.” Surely you recall similar ripples of relief in Canada in 1980.
The referendum vote “for Canada” seemed an accepted settlement. We had gained an assured, peaceful future between French and English Canadians. And Pierre Trudeau, a French Canadian, went on to the “double” of a patriated, amended Constitution with a Charter of Rights and Freedoms. There was (remember?) the caveat most anglos took lightly at the time because it was Levesque, the Pequiste, who refused to sign the Constitution for his province.
Ah, how increasingly regrettable that seems.
POLITICAL NECESSITY
At mid-year as we celebrate Canada Day and a few of us recall the Dominion Day that was and even the chief makers of Confederation like Sir John A. and George Brown, it is becoming clear the present prime minister, like his predecessor but one, Pierre Trudeau, must gird again to keep the two nations aligned well enough to go on. It is likely to a political necessity for prime ministers until either the French are a minority in Quebec or there is lurch and pull to a new alignment.
Why get into such stuff in discourse on the fundamental holiday particular to Canada?
Where lies any credibility for such dourness and apocalyptic thought?
The answers one must give are tied to both the present dilemmas regarding the Constitution (Meech Lake!) and the palpable though unprovable generalizations about the French Canadians. They, based on Quebec, are even more disinterested in the rest of Canada than they were before the PQ emerged in the 1960s. And we, the English Canadians, even in cosmopolitan Toronto, are bored with it all.
Many of us are not so much suspicious or hateful towards Quebec and the French Canadians – though some of such is evident – as fed up. We would, one guesses, if given a choice of something like sovereignty association, go for it. Let them be “distinct” but at a nice arm’s length from us.
Will it come to this? It may. Marvels as we and our politicians have been at compromising our way clear of ominous cross-purposes, the indifference and mutual disinterest in both the “nations” seem more foreboding than the deeper, open bitterness of the past.
This is not a year or even a period of candor in our politics. Each federal party and all their credible spokesmen abjure frankness on the enduring dilemma of “the nations.” Further, hardly any academics, sociologists, historians, even demographers, dare or care to say what a quarter-century of highly fostered bilingualism has not done. While it has had its successes in some areas of work and services, bilingualism has not created a major jump in the proportions of Canadians who are easily bilingual in the two official languages.
But bilingualism’s far more serious shortfall from the hopes of grandeur is that it has not created more regular interchange between the associations and the culture of the two nations. More than ever “two solitudes.” Most Quebecers know this, and they shrug. Most westerners know this and they bridle and talk about a Triple E Senate as a means to ease the Quebec bane.
The politicians, in particular at Ottawa and Queen’s Park, are not yet ready to concede the solitudes remain the reality. They are not yet ready to move to the next stage (which is not abandoning the encouragement of bilingualism) but simply recognizing we must have fresh political arrangements in which each “nation” recognizes the distinctiveness of the other.
Then there must be a shift from accepting the distinctiveness to means of making association workable. And more and more it is apparent the acceptance and the new means will be found aside from and beyond the Meech accord.
I live in Quebec. Each mid-year since this began I could not miss the contrast between the honoring of St. Jean Baptiste by the Quebecois and the total blank on it over on the Ontario side. Then a week later anglo Canadians celebrate Confederation with much less participation in numbers or with such fun and fervor.
Outside Ottawa where big federal spending for entertainment draws a big crowd and a joy rather manufactured for the day, the holiday is clearly neither a patriotic festival nor a thanksgiving in jubilant or affectionate remembrance of our pioneers or even of “the Fathers” who united some British colonies with institutions and a scope which led on to this sovereign nation. We are not historically minded.
Of course, even the first July 1 was not widely celebrated or enjoyed. En masse, Quebecers ignored it. In much of the Maritimes black flags were flown. Anyone searching the microfilms of the English language dailies and weeklies of July, 1867, will not find much evidence of joy or nationhood.
NO PLACE FOR PATRIOTS
The year after Confederation the Canada First movement was formed to promote Canadian patriotism and distinctiveness. After a few years of vociferous activity, mostly based in Toronto, Canada First faded into nothing, never rousing a favorable flicker among French Canadians. Just over 100 years later (1971) another group of patriots formed the Committee for an Independent Canada, also led by distinguished Torontonians (e.g., Jack MacLennan, Pierre Berton, Walter Gordon). The Committee, like Canada First, faded away. It never really affected French Canada and even in Western Canada, where there seems to be less self-consciousness about being Canadian, the CIC didn’t take root.
Except in the two world wars we have never had a surfeit of celebrating patriotism and Canada (and even then this was overwhelmingly an English Canadian phenomenon). Further, since the Pearsonites pushed our horizons far over the globe after World War II, a vocal and able element has increasingly made us the conscience, even the worrier of the world, everywhere. This bent has been abetted lately by several trends sanctioned and funded by governments and popularized by a noble-minded media. For example, Canada has more organizations for peace than any other western country. Multiculturalism and its nurturing here of scores of “heritages” has given us both interests and protagonists for most every ethnic cause and religious belief in the world, plus an enormous pressure for rescuing more and more of the world’s unfortunate refugees.
There was this Canada Day, as for the past two decades, a grand crowd, much music and wonderful fireworks on Parliament Hill. One wishes, particularly as an elder Canadian, that the gathering with its pleasures symbolized our national conditions. It does in the sense that there are many reasons for us to glory in what we have as citizens in a blessed country. But as a watcher, as a member of the crowd, as a habitue of Parliament Hill, I will be conjuring up the alternative, even the stock or repetitious images of the place.
DISTURBING IMAGES
The images are not of the soaring Peace Tower or the passing politicians or the glut of black, ministerial limousines. They are of a parade of protesting advocacy.
Pickets bearing signs of all kinds. Strikers demanding justice. Groups of every sort marching, shouting, singing, bearing flags of many kinds. Almost everything is protested in this place of grievance and plaints:
Abortions, or their lack; poor childcare; PCBs and 2-4D; tree-cutting; tree-saving; seal-hunting; no seal-hunting; demanding peace; demanding defence bases or frigate contracts; abhorring free trade; bewailing acid rain. Stop brutalizing our aborigines. More for women – in money, jobs, and promotions; less for women of incest, rape, and harassment. More for the disabled, the visible minorities. End pornography. Change this act. Stop this bill. Distrust the Americans. Beware the Russians. Honor the Armenians. Save the passenger trains. Save the CBC. Put the gays in the Charter. Stop de-indexing. No claw-backs from seniors.
And on and on. On the one hand, manifestly democratic; on the other hand, cumulating into a national overprint of a country with so many serious concerns its people can hardly bear to enjoy the country.
If we change, toward more open happiness, good! But if it comes and is evident in a rip-roaring sea-to-sea festival on July 1 it won’t be in my time. But perish gloom if you can. Look around and see. See how lucky we are.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, June 28, 1989
ID: 12741778
TAG: 198906280133
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

IT’S POLITICS WITHOUT CROWDS

TEXT:
There was a line in a ’50s TV program that went something like: “There are a million stories in Naked City.” In Ottawa one may say there hundreds of stories in the doings of the House committees. Most are missed or squeezed out by the great obsession of both politicians and the media with the cant and rant of the daily question period.
This sketch of committees does lead to a particular one of note, just one of several hundred committee hearings this spring which, typically, drew little notice.
Some 19 standing committees of the House, plus two joint committees (with the Senate), plus three sub-committees of standing committees, and several special House committees on particular bills have been holding hearings in recent weeks. A week to 10 days after each such meeting a printed Hansard transcript in both English and French is published. My pile of such print for this Parliament, still in its early stages, is already about four feet high!
Much in such transcripts is dull or highly particular or both. Few committees draw much in audience or coverage; thus there’s less staginess and more candor from the MPs than they show in the House. As a generalization, too many MPs generalize too much. Stating their opinions too often has priority over questioning of witnesses, many of whom are really expert or authoritative. Each committee gives its permanent members or their substitutes so much time “in a round” by party – usually 10 minutes. Such shifts often mean an abrupt digression and no follow up.
In most committees the government caucus managers have a “watch and warn” MP to handle if need be dangerous manoeuvring by opposition desperadoes like John Rodriguez and John Nunziata. More notable to this Parliament is a fairer balance between government and opposition MPs.
The Tories seem more assiduous participants than in the last Parliament, and the same may be said of the Liberals. Some of the abler new Grits, however, are groping to a role and stature in committees because colleagues, relics of the last House, act to hold sway over their staked territory. Traditionally, NDP MPs have been the busiest of committee members. They’ve not regressed. It merely seems so because the LIberals now have some talent and numbers and Tories have more of a need to take part than in the previous regime.
Unfortunately, a committees may get stuck with a few veteran MPs who are dodos. It takes a most superior chairman (a rarity!) to master such bores. This said, over a session or two, most House committees develop a group spirit and enough individual grace toward each other to subdue the stock partisan role-playing, always near and often in evidence.
Yet a reader has the advantage over an auditor. To read a transcript is much handier than auditing a hearing. You can race through bumph and childishness. There is much that’s worth a reading skim because most committees, sooner or later, have good witnesses with much to say. Take this one example of a great performance by a witness.
Maclean’s recent opinion survey had more Canadians concerned about the environment than anything else, even unemployment, free trade or the deficit.
For an excellent primer, a broad overview of the whole matter – global, continental, Canadian, and political – write your MP. Ask him for a copy of issue No. 5 of the House committee on environment.
This transcribes a hearing on May 25, chaired by David MacDonald (yes, the MP from Rosedale, once a member of the Joe Clark cabinet.) The only witness, Jim MacNeill, was there to brief the committee’s MPs, 14 of whom were present, “on environmental issues.” That he did, thoroughly and well. So well the hearing ended in an unusual feast of undertakings by opposition tigers to be constructive and positive. Their motivation flowed from the obvious enormity and durability of the environment as the major issue of this era and all future ones. Even Sheila Copps of the Rat Pack, the nastiest most belligerent of all MPs, joined in.
Who’s MacNeill? A Canadian, a former international bureaucrat, now with the Institute for Research in Public Policy, an Ottawa think-tank.
The policy bible for global environmentalism is the Bruntland report, carried out by “the world commission on environment and development.” Jim MacNeill was secretary general of the commission and the principal author of its report, Our Common Future. The commission’s head, of course, was the Norwegian prime minister.
MacNeill spoke without pause to the committee for 50 minutes, using slides to illustrate his points (these are printed as an appendix). Then he led a dialogue with the MPs for two hours, framing their questions, giving point to their maunderings. Jim Fulton of the NPD, Bill Bird and Bob Wenman of the Tories and Marlene Catterall of the Liberals were uncharacteristically philosophical for MPs.
What above all did MacNeill say that has significance to each of us? Simply put, he showed the bent of environmentalism has been to protection and so to negativatism. This is a dead end, given a world population escalating remorselessly. There must be “development.” Therefore, the imperative is to make it sustainable in every sense.
Cotton to the phrase: Sustainable development. It’s positive. It’s the way. Read issue No. 5 and confirm!

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, June 26, 1989
ID: 12741515
TAG: 198906260116
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

WANT TO KNOW A SECRET?

TEXT:
In one of his last hurrahs for the Globe and Mail, David Suzuki, the celebrity scientist, lavishly praised a brave “ecohero,” Elizabeth May. The politicians on Parliament Hill should feel differently about her now that she has described her two-year sojourn as aide to Tom McMillan, a recent minister of the environment. May’s candor can be found within a piece in the spring issue of the magazine, Borealis, titled “An environmentalist in power.”
To show May’s continuing currency she quit McMillan’s staff last year with publicized eclat, charging he’d made a “tradeoff” deal with the Saskatchewan government which let it go ahead with the Rafferty Dam project. (Subsequently this work was stopped by a Federal Court judge wanting a fuller environmental review.)
The Rafferty Dam case, like most raised by environmentalists, are difficult for politicians in power. Why? Because most of the “locals” are for the harvesting or dam works and against the environmentalists, most of whom exploit their effective lobbies from media centres like Toronto and Vancouver. A blend of U.S.-style confrontation, the absolutism of the European Greens, and conscience-floggers like Suzuki and May, the environmentalists are the cresting wave in politics. Who dares stand against saving the planet?
In the story of May on the Hill it would seem the Tories were the fools, notably the gullible, now departed Tom McMillan. But the story is sobering for many others, including Speaker John Fraser and the Liberal and NDP MPs who wring every tear from environmental issues. However sacred a cause, neither ministries nor caucuses can go on responsibly if they violate oaths of trust and the imperatives of confidence and honesty.
Ed Struzik, the author of the Borealis piece, emphasizes how controversial May’s move to McMillan became within the “movement.” Quite soon she was suspected of reprehensibly levering elements in the environmentalist net to favor some ministerial initiatives.
Struzik begins vividly: “An admirer once described environmentalist Elizabeth May as the personification of the Canadian environmental movement – a complex individual who combines the back-to-the-earth breeziness of the movement’s past with the hard-core political acumen that increasingly typifies its future. During a long conversation last autumn with the bright-eyed, round-faced 35-year old American expatriate, it didn’t take long for the various personae to emerge.”
She was the first “and probably the last” environmentalist “appointed to such a senior position in the department. Struzik details how May sustains herself through “meditation and visualization” and consultations with psychics. It’s like a throwback to Mackenzie King. On her necklace is “a glimmering rock.” This crystal has the power to capture and store one’s spiritual and cosmic energy, or so May believes.
While pushing the South Moresby park case in B.C., “ `I used to put Premier (Bill) Vander Zalm in a love light,” she says, looking deeply into the crystal.”
May found media favor initially in Nova Scotia, in a campaign to stop spraying against budworm by a Swedish-owned paper company. Then she led the fight to stop the province’s use of herbicides in curbing weed species. Struzik thinks McMillan in 1986 had desperate need of May. His succession to the disastrous minister, Suzanne Blais-Grenier, was failing with the “the million-plus membership of the Canadian environmental network of organization.”
May told Struzik, “ `When McMillan hired me, the agreement was that I would be involved in every decision made that affects the environment. I told him that I wouldn’t be used as window-dressing . . . and I wouldn’t break my ties with the environmental movement.’
“To hear May’s side of the story, she was anything but an apologist for Tory interests while working with McMillan. She says she `connived and conspired’ and used every available avenue to let the conservationists know what was happening in the department . . .
“ `Any information I got, I shared.’ she says. `When we discussed South Moresby at our weekly meeting, McMillan would say, `This information is to stay in this room Elizabeth. You’re not to tell . . . anybody. It’s a secret.’ So when I called to tell them what the latest development was, I’d tell them right off. This is a secret. I’m not supposed to tell you but . . .’
“Unbeknownst to McMillan, May went to the Liberal and NDP environment critics to keep them informed on the latest developments. She also went to House Speaker John Fraser to brief him on South Moresby and to see if he might cast any light on what the B.C. caucus was thinking when the issue appeared to be doomed.
“ `I hadn’t told Tom I was going to Fraser,’ she recalls. `Why tell him if he was going to say no? I didn’t know how Fraser would react because he’s supposed to be impartial. But when I went to him and told him what was up he said, `Well, God damn it what took you so long . . . what the hell is going on?’ ”
“There were similar secret meetings with Jim Fulton of the NDP and Liberal Charles Caccia, says May. `It seemed very unorthodox, but it worked,’ she says. `We all weren’t just advising each other, we were conspiring.’ ”
In comparison, Global’s Doug Small is an innocent.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, June 25, 1989
ID: 12741506
TAG: 198906250117
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: C3
COLUMN: in Ottawa

SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

YOUNG GRITS GROW RESTLESS

TEXT:
The flock of MPs newly elected last November have had half a year to take to the ways of the Hill. It would be nice to generalize that most are happy with what they are into but it would not be true, particularly about the 50-odd new Liberals.
The new New Democrats are less numerous than the new Grits, have a lesser proportion with both large abilities and vaulting egos, and are being more closely fostered and given more encouragement from both veteran colleagues and the NDP’s quite numerous Hill staff.
Not since the brief Parliaments of 1962-1963 and 1989 have the Liberals had so much bursting ambition vying for priority in questions, statements and in the speech-lists. Despite the best Herb Gray can do as caucus leader and manager there seems to be a rising frustration among the new MPs. In the words of one of them:
“I’ve found the intra-caucus stuff harder to learn and put up with than the open partisan war in the House and committees. So many of my comrades play for keeps, with each other. More and more I’m tempted to cultivate my riding and let the yahoos run.”
It doesn’t take much digging with new Grit MPs to find their banes in the caucus are old Rat Packers, notably Brian Tobin, Sheila Copps and Don Boudria. Another new Grit said he got the firm feeling that this trio would “do it all for everybody” if they could.
“Again and again, sitting in the House in caucus,” he said, “I pray Sheila and Brian will shut up.”
Another recent arrival, fortunately without great aspirations, was musing wrily on “the box” Paul Martin, Jr. has put himself into because he’s felt obliged to mimick the Rat Pack in volume and invective. “It doesn’t suit him. It makes him ridiculous.”
And the same perspicacious MP, with even more insight, said he felt a bit sorry for three Toronto returnees to the caucus from previous Parliaments – Roy MacLaren, Jesse Flis and Jim Peterson. He thinks each of the three is too mature, informed and responsible to adopt the aggressive raucousness which Martin has been aping. Maclaren is “out of it” and Peterson plays the newer game by being blunt and steely rather than nasty.
As some compensation for a new MP blocked off from prime House exposure by other egos and seniority the committees of the House offer other stages, and most of the new Grits having been mounting them as best they can. Here again they often have to follow colleagues with more years.
One veteran MP, Maurice Foster, in “agriculture” is clearly willing to let fresher colleagues have a real run but the same cannot be said of either Copps, Sheila Finestone or Sergio Marchi, each a House arrival in ’84 and each self-sure now as eminent authorities, respectively, on the environment, culture and the arts and immigration and refugees.
Of course, committees give almost nothing to participants in TV exposure and not much more in ink. A rose of an MP may figuratively blush unseen. An able freshman MP, however, picks up skills and information in committee and gradually fits himself or herself into a Hill pecking order or rating system. Few party elders care a lot if an MP is a fool or a drone in committee but if one is assiduous and constructive or partisanly brilliant the word does get around in the peer groups of the House, the party caucus and the party beyond.
Those committee members who master a field and draw backing and information and publicity from major groups focused on the field either protectively or to push new policies often make national names for themselves and even future careers.
To reiterate points made previously: This Liberal caucus has a lot of talent, most of it newish, and to this stage not enough of it is flowering or being well- nurtured.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, June 23, 1989
ID: 12741157
TAG: 198906230174
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

OUTRAGEOUS EXAGGERATION

TEXT:
Exaggeration makes phoneys of politicians. Take this typical recent example.
A week ago House Leader Doug Lewis said the government would invoke closure on four bills in order to get a “reasonable amount of work” done on legislation before the summer break comes on June 30.
The first reaction from Liberal Warren Allmand was simply: “Disgraceful.” More archetypal hyperbole came from Nelson Riis, the NDP House leader.
“What we have just heard is outrageous,” Riis said. “I do not know if the government is trying to turn Canada into a China II with the trampling of democratic rights but it seems we are to be given notice that the government plans to proceed in the same despicable way.”
Riis equates the use of House rules with the brutal repression in China of the pro-democracy movement.
The use of closure is not “outrageous” – it makes sense.
Like every MP, Riis knows it is a rare debate which is heard by even 25 MPs. The NDP is no better than the others in attending debates. The media rarely follows or reports a House debate, and unbelievably few people, including MPs, ever read Hansard. So what point a long debate?
All most days spent on a bill do is impede the legislative process and let the opposition seem more prescient than the government. This government ought to have used routine scheduling of bills long ago. The British did, and whatever their problems, their Parliament is at least as sound as ours.
At this time the NDP’s prate has an added mockery. Why? Because its MPs want “out” for the summer next week as much as the Liberals do, and more than the Tories.

Not long ago two men died, Bill Hamilton at 70, Maurice Bellemare at 77. Both were in the Order of Canada. Both had been cabinet ministers, one in Ottawa, the other in Quebec.
Hamilton, an MP for 10 years, was in John Diefenbaker’s cabinet as postmaster general. Then the post office was a cherished national service. After defeat in ’62 Hamilton went to B.C. and years as head of the B.C. Employers’ Council. He also served as head of the Vancouver Board of Trade and chancellor of Simon Fraser University. He was a cheerful and courtly man who did not let a physical handicap get him down.
Maurice Bellemare of the Union Nationale came to the Quebec Legislature in 1944 as a follower of Maurice Duplessis. Fifteen years later, after Duplessis died, Bellemare made the cabinet. What really distinguished his career was simple electoral longevity and a crusty gregariousness. Two recent histories of the Union Nationale ignore him, assigning no deeds or causes. He survived – past the UN’s last apogee.
Just one of the deceased drew a “tribute” from Brian Mulroney. Four paragraphs of praise issued from the PMO, praise for the departed’s “integrity, courage and generosity” in devoting “the best of his life and talent to serving his fellow citizens.”
Which one?

Any elected politician would tell you one of the most practical, useful economic arrangements in Canada is the system of workers’ compensation boards or commissions in each province.
Did you know this major pattern of workers’ compensation faces a threat which may weaken or destroy its effectiveness? Yes! It comes as a consequence of the most sacred of our American imports, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The Canadian Chambers of Commerce have pointed out the threat in an appendix to a major paper they put out as voice for employers on their “concerns” at the effects on the system through escalating costs. These arise from widening interpretations of job-related injuries. Employers’ contributions are getting to be most onerous for smaller businesses.
The unions and the chambers will hammer out with governments many of such problems in workers’ compensation but the Supreme Court will ultimately decide if the system is doomed.
The rub is that workers’ compensation is benign collusion by a triad of government, employers and their employees. Each partner contributes to sustain the system. In return for his or her coverage as part of a group it has been understood by both unions and managements that legally – by statute – a protected worker did not have an individual right to sue his employer for damages or losses suffered at work or through work.
By using sections 7 or 15 of the Charter which emphasize the rights of “everybody” or “every individual” several injured workers or their survivors have pleaded a violation of their rights by the statutory bar against law suits for injuries on the job. Their cases are working their way up the courts. Some early opinions in the lower courts seem to be very American in giving more weight to individual than to group rights.
If the Supreme Court rules in favor of individual suits for damages it would not be surprising if some or most of the provinces invoke the infamous “notwithstanding clause,” even with the approval of Canadian union leaders. Certainly, the unions in defending their practices in a case before the courts of a worker unwilling to have any of his compulsory union dues go to political endeavors with which he disagrees, have argued the primacy of collective over individual rights.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, June 21, 1989
ID: 12740903
TAG: 198906210137
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

HISTORY VOTES FOR NEW FACE

TEXT:
The topic of the week is leadership conventions. This is about them as a genre, and the emphasis is on Liberals and Tories, not on the increasingly similar NDP.
A review of conventions must begin in 1919 with the first modern one where Mackenzie King won the Liberal leadership. He went on to be the most electorally successful of all party leaders. In 1919, however, he was far less experienced as an MP than several whom he beat. Are you listening Jean Chretien?
There have been repetitions of the King phenomenon of 1919, i.e., a preference for the fresher, the relative outsider.
The Liberals have had just four leadership conventions since 1919. In 1948 they chose Louis St. Laurent; in 1958, Lester Pearson; in 1968, Pierre Trudeau; in 1984, John Turner.
In the 1920s the Conservatives had to ape the Liberals, giving up leaders chosen by the Hill caucus. Thus in 1927 at Winnipeg “delegates” picked R. B. Bennett, and in 1938 they chose Bob Manion. After he was wiped away in the 1940 election they filled in with caucus leaders and briefly with an ex-PM, Arthur Meighen before going boldly out of the House and the party to a Progressive, John Bracken, premier of Manitoba, in 1943.
After Bracken did badly in the 1945 election, the Tories again forsook the caucus for a premier. In 1948 they elected George Drew of Ontario. Though good in the House, Drew did poorly against St. Laurent in 1949 and 1953.
He quit in 1956, opening the race in which the Tories chose John Diefenbaker over Donald Fleming and Davie Fulton, all experienced MPs.
Next time – 1967 – the Tories went back to premiers, Bob Stanfield of N.S. edging Duff Roblin of Manitoba.
This 1967 PC affair held in Maple Leaf Gardens became the model for the later leadership races for the Liberals in 1968 and 1984, and the Tories in 1976 and 1983. And most of what will go on in antics, spending, funding, and media coverage until next June has antecedents in the great Tory hurrah of ’67.
Then, as today with the Liberals, the actual race had a long prelude in which the leader (the Chief) was undermined by caucus and party factions. The contest was coming well before it was official. It was clear, then as now, there would be caucus “forces” at work; i.e., imperatives which put some MPs without a real chance into the race largely to stake out fields of interest (e.g., as regional spokesmen) or future cabinet claims or even as “stalking horses” for other aspirants. There was a focus towards TV and a responding coverage by TV networks.
There was a large entry list with ten “serious” candidates. The process became long and costly with many preliminary skirmishes across Canada, bales of printed stuff, even to books, culminating in a clamor of organized hype at the convention hall and its hotelier environs.
As the campaign progressed and delegates were chosen, polls on their preferences flourished, done both by the media and by “backroom boys.”
As their ’67 convention opened, the Tories had a wide-open race. It went to five ballots before Stanfield won. The federal veterans did poorly. The convention zoomed the Tories’ Gallup stock. So much so the Liberal PM, Lester Pearson, in office for less than five years, chose to quit. His pre-Christmas resignation in 1967 set off a four months’ race which replicated the Tory one in color, competition, and high spending.
The Liberal race ended with four ballots and a relative greenhorn, Pierre Trudeau, beating seven, far more experienced politicians. The campaign not only won back public opinion from the Tories, it set up an immediate electoral romp by the new leader.
The later Tory leadership races in 1976 and 1983 which saw Joe Clark succeed Stanfield and then Brian Mulroney displace Clark were also really exciting contests. Each had more than two top candidates. The favorite as each convention was called did not win. There were a bunch of caucus entrants, a few of whom were just in “on spec” or to push regional positions or some topical emphasis. In all the Tory cases and the Liberal case in 1968, a comparative outsider or federal rookie won over others with far more of a record in party politics and in office.
Did the Liberal race of 1984, which chose John Turner over Jean Chretien, Don Johnston, John Roberts, Marc MacGuigan, John Munro, and Gene Whelan alter these patterns?
While Turner was an “outsider” back from nine years on Bay St., he had been an MP for 13 years and a minister for ten. He beat Chretien by a fair, not a huge margin, on the second ballot. The other five candidates, all ministers, did not draw the first ballot votes of the longer shots in the earlier conventions.
Will this Liberal race be largely a two-person affair – Chretien and Paul Martin, Jr.?
At this stage Chretien, an experienced outsider rather like Turner in 1984, is a big favorite with Martin second but far back. My hunch is a multiple race, wide-open to at least three ballots. At least five, perhaps even seven, will be in from the caucus (Lloyd Axworthy, Sheila Copps, Martin, Dennis Mills, John Nunziata, Brian Tobin and Douglas Young).
Is being green a big handicap – e.g., Martin, Mills, or Young? History indicates it’s an asset.
Is scads of money essential to victory? No! Today most candidates can tap auxiliary resources and piggy-back on House services and tax credits.
Is today’s big favorite a sure thing? History says not.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, June 19, 1989
ID: 12740635
TAG: 198906190134
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

LET’S PLAY DEBT REDUCTION

TEXT:
Who hasn’t noticed public anger or anguish whenever it is announced or bruited that some federal program which spends money is to be a) abolished; b) cut; or c) frozen. Vigilant defenders or promoters outside and inside the House of Commons raise hell.
Today let’s match your judgment on where federal spending should be stopped, reduced or frozen against mine.
There follows a list of 15 programs about which there has been considerable or some clamor. On each one I give my judgment on how I would treat the program and its spending if I had the power. Variously, to END the spending; FREEZE it; ride with INFLATION; or BOOM it.
1. CBC: 1989-90, $965 million; 1988-89, $907 million.
President Pierre Juneau, cultural unions and press claim the Tories are strangling CBC slowly, surely. They say it needs at least another $150 million to fulfil its mandate well.
My view: FREEZE.
2. VIA RAIL: 1989-90, $541 million; 1988-89, $612 million.
Unless the clamor of would-be saviors works (most unlikely) this passenger service may be going to extinction or a privatizing of the pieces.
My view: END.
3. AMATEUR SPORT: 1989-90, $55 million; 1988-89, $47 million.
Two-thirds goes to finance 100 or so national sports bodies, e.g., the Canadian Track & Field Association.
My view: FREEZE.
4. POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION: 1989-90, $2.2 billion; 1988-89, $2.2 billion.
Money goes to provinces for distribution; they and universities want more, more, more. Say a half-billion.
My view: FREEZE.
5. OFFICIAL LANGUAGES-EDUCATION GRANTS: 1989-90, $280 million; 1988-89, $217 million.
And this doesn’t include money for federal language costs.
My view: CUT.
6. CANADA COUNCIL: 1989-90, $93.4 million; 1988-89, $91.8 million.
Focuses on arts; its clientele is uneasy and defensive.
My view: FREEZE.
7. NATIONAL DEFENCE: 1989-90, $11.3 billion; 1988-89, $11.2 billion.
There are critics on both sides: Peace advocates want big cuts; defence zealots insist the government is welshing on its promises and our allies.
My view: BOOM.
8. CIDA, etc.: 1989-90, $2.7 billion; 1988-89, $2.8 billion.
A small cutback in “official development assistance” to underdeveloped countries has angered “world-view” Canadians.
My view: CUT.
9. PARLIAMENT: 1989-90, $258 million; 1988-89, $236 million.
The fastest-rising spender, with Cadillac tastes in travel and services. Even the Senate spends $37 million.
My view: CUT.
10. OLD AGE SECURITY: 1989-90, $16.4 billion; 1988-89, $15.5 billion.
Increases are automatic; “senior” lobbies want more, especially in guaranteed income supplements and spousal allowances which this year take $4.4 billion.
My view: INFLATION.
11. UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE: 1989-90, $2.9 billion; 1988-89, $2.6 billion.
The government is bailing out fully next year; employer-worker contributions to carry the load.
My view: CUT.
12. ATLANTIC OPPORTUNITIES: 1989-90, $378 million; 1988-89, $316 million.
Eastern provinces always want more on every program reaching them; here’s one holding up well in funding.
My view: FREEZE.
13. WESTERN ECONOMIC DIVERSIFICATION: 1989-90, $253 million; 1988-89, $293 million.
The cutback hasn’t bothered westerners much; perhaps because farming and transport spending is holding up.
My view: FREEZE.
14. SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY: 1989-90, $885 million; 1988-89, $786 million.
This sum for the National Research Council, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council and the Science Council gets a fair boost but scientists insist there must be much more.
My view: BOOM.
15. ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND DIVERSITY: 1989-90, $48.4 million; 1988-89, $64 billion.
Cuts, for the second year running, have anti-coal, anti-nuclear, anti-oil environmentalists raging.
My scorecard shows I would be fairly frugal, but the exercise itself has made me appreciate how tough it is to decide where spending can be reduced. And add to this the difficulties the rising demands from cities and provinces. They’re demanding more federal funding for a national child-care program and for an “infrastructure” overhaul of highways and municipal roads and sewers. These are multi-billion-dollar items which we may need, but can we afford them?

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, June 18, 1989
ID: 12740519
TAG: 198906180084
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C6
COLUMN: In Ottawa

SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

BOOK FEAST FOR POLITICAL JUNKIES

TEXT:
If politics is of interest to you, any of the following new books may be your game.
Democratic Government In Canada, fifth edition, by R.F.M. Dawson and W.F. Dawson; revised by Norman Ward. U of T Press; paperback; 153 pages; $10.95. The classic initial text for Canadian political science courses. This new edition includes the 1981 Constitution and the Meech Lake accord. A clear, concise, and relatively unopinionated survey of our main political institutions. My favorite chapter is on “The distribution of power” and this precedes and makes excellent sense of sections on provincial and municipal government. A basic among basic political books, and not as dull as that encomium sounds.
Northerners; Profiles of People In the Northwest Territories, by Douglas Holmes. James Lorimer publishers, paperback; 190 pages; $16.95. As pleasurable an entree as there is to the varied and colorful politics of our North, done through 24 profiles, from 2,500 to 3,000 words each. Holmes left Toronto in 1978 and no longer seems a city boy. He worked in radio and now print in Yellowknife. Most of his subjects are of native stock. Some are inspirational, others harrowing, in particular those of Peter Ittinuar, the former NDP and Liberal MP, and Margaret Thrasher, “the town drunk” of Yellowknife. (Ethel Blondin, the new Liberal MP for the western Arctic and a Slavey Indian went to school with Margaret and tells me then she was “smart, beautiful, and very athletic.”)
The profiles are arranged under four headings of “lives” – traditional, political, business, and modern. What staggered this southerner is the modernity of life in the North, and the problems of the lower parallels there like drugs, drinking, child abuse, welfare dependency, wife-beating and hyperbolic politicians. Yet, in sum this is an upbeat book.
Rites of Spring; the Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age, by Modris Eksteins. Lester & Orpen Dennys publishers, hardback; 396 pages. This work, rather straddling the academic and the popular, is by an historian at U of T. It’s the most exciting book I have read the past year. It canvasses the ideas at work or ferment in 20th century politics and art, with masterly bridging from the esoteric such as ballet choreography and theatre to the cultural consequences of horrible trench warfare, for example, on Adolf Hitler.
It makes a belated match on the European side of World War I and its consequences to Paul Fussel’s epic The Great War and Modern Memory which centres more on the British poets, diarists, and novelists of the war and its aftermath.
Something to Offer; Developing an Agenda for All Canadians for the 21st Century, edited by Dennis Mills (Lib. MP, Broadview-Greenwood) Hemlock Press, paperback; 274 pages. What a gambit this is: The first of the quick books to present or adorn a contender for John Turner’s post.
A triple dedication shows cunning: To the people of Broadview-Greenwood; to Sissela Bok, a distinguished Swedish political philosopher; and to Lou Galluci “my campaign manager and good friend.”
Do names help? Mills “acknowledges” dozens of corporate sponsors, organizers and helpers, moderators, newsletter reporters, community groups and associations, a transcriber, technical consultants, even “our audience” and Rogers Cable TV. All this in the “forward” plus seven pages from your far from archetypal MP, and contributions from some 40 others, mostly, but not exclusively, capital “L” Grits like Jim Coutts,, Jerry Grafstein, George Radwanski and Chaviva Hosek.
The topics range from Mills’ present rage, the environment, to cities, peace and defence, education, multiculturalism, communications, regional perspectives and the Meech accord. Write Mills at the House of Commons for your copy (no postage needed).
Watch this man. He could organize a marbles tournament on the Danforth – or a cabinet.
The Canadian General Election of 1988, by Alan Frizzell, John Pammett, and Anthony Westell. Carleton University Press, paperback; 170 pages. An excellent appendix of “results” organized in six different ways makes this a reference keeper for a political buff. The 11 essays which precede vary from good to indifferent (plus for the NDP story; minus for the Grit story. The piece on the perils of polling is a dandy, so too the detailed story on the infamous CBC-Peter Mansbridge tale of the mid-campaign plot to bounce John Turner. The conclusion is very Canadian: This was an election won “by the best of a bad bunch.”

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, June 16, 1989
ID: 12740259
TAG: 198906160151
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THE CHEQUES ARE IN THE MAIL

TEXT:
Why would the Mulroney government sit on good news?
By the end of April, 3,105 Canadians had got a federal cheque for $21,000 (a total of some $65 million).
Another 12,000 or so will get such cheques soon. In sum, about 15,000 cheques for $21,000 each worth a total of about $315 million will be mailed out. But in Ottawa no one is shouting out the good news.
As of yesterday, not a press release, not even from the minister dispensing this bounty, Secretary of State Gerry Weiner.
The topic is “redress” to Japanese Canadians for treatment accorded them in the war months after the sudden, successful Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.
On the eve of last fall’s election the PM told an approving Commons of an “historic agreement” reached with the National Association of Japanese Canadians (NAJC) which acknowledged “the injustices,” give “symbolic redress” of $21,000 to each of those affected still alive, give $12 million to the NAJC for activities with “the Japanese Canadian community,” and put $24 million into a “Canadian Race Relations Foundation.”
As of April, 15,049 had applied for redress. Of these, 10,416 were into the computer file; the rest soon will be. Just one applicant has been rejected, and 3,105 approved and paid.
The reasons for approval sometimes overlap. Thus far 2,512 have been because of relocation; 1,116 for deprivation of property; 1,078 for internment; 150 who were born in relocation or internment; 109 who were deported; and 1,406 otherwise “deprived.”
One may assume the final draw on the federal purse for Japanese Canadian redress and the allied programs will be about $350 million.
Again the question, why no publicity?
Surely the answer is in the restraint caused by deficit and debt. The cabinet does not want to fertilize the many, other good claims or causes for redress because of past ill-treatment by our government or its antecedors. For example:
Chinese Canadians for a head-tax (from 1885 to the 1920s); Ukrainian Canadians who were interned in World War I; East Indians for regulatory discrimination instituted in 1908; Hutterites, Mennonites and Doukhobors whose entry and movements were affected by regulations of 1919; the regulations, post-1869, that levied a capitation duty of $300 on anyone bringing in an idiot or lunatic or one who was deaf or dumb.
Of course, those who would redress the wrongs of our history could go much further back. Think of the woe put on the Acadians expelled in 1755.

Anyone critical of John Fraser as Speaker of the House of Commons must consider the current context. He has an excellent reputation as a Speaker with most MPs.
Steady, resolute, fair!
Fraser even rates well with the parliamentary press. Thus anyone finding fault in the chairing of the present House goes against the grain.
The case for Fraser as a splendid Speaker, “the best since Lucien Lamoureux” (1965-74), was put strongly to me recently by the best of witnesses, a veteran servant of the House. Below I precis his response to my opinion that the daily oral question period has settled in as a complete charade.
It’s clear most questions and their “supplementaries” are read from a conspicuously held paper. The screeds are all prepared, usually by staffers, and “vetted” each day by a strategy group in both opposition caucuses. Each questioner opens with a longish preamble, rich in scorn or accusation. Worse for spontaneity or honesty, within each question period and often over several in sequence, Fraser ignores repetition, even the use of the very same phrases. If you scanned Hansard for the fortnight or so of the opposition’s obsession with the “second” budget leak you would find several questions asked again and again. Repeatedly, when and who and where the news came to Michael Wilson, the PM, their officials.
Of course, the other side of this phoney outrage and the so-called questions, is what is elicited from the ministry. Matching repetition! Hurt virtue! And kindergarten prating with a lofty moral tone or praise of efficiency at the top.
Thus, anything natural and witty or direct and sharp on either side has given way to a ritual of “flannel.” The new intake from last fall is already indistinguishable from the old guard in stock acts of outrage and insult or of piety and sterling worth.
Fraser’s defender says such criticisms is of MPs as organized in their caucuses.
“That’s how they want it. It suits them. It fits with the media’s approach. Every day the House sits it gives the politicians a a good chance for national attention and the electronic media with drama for display.”
He said that what I overlook is the impossibility of Fraser reverting to the tighter rein on the ways of the House before two predecessors, Jean Sauve and John Bosley, let the opposition rip.
Fraser has had to regain both dignity and consistency for the chair. Building patience and respect for the chair comes hard and slowly. And he is hoping (thinks this servant of his) that in time the excesses in abusive words and the very charade of it all will force back on MPs through public disrespect and so, slowly, make for a sounder Parliament.
It’s a case, but results seem a long way off.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, June 14, 1989
ID: 12739963
TAG: 198906140159
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

RUMORS WITH A WRY TWIST

TEXT:
Intelligence from insiders indicates Stephen Lewis will come into the NDP race at the propitious moment. When is that? After one or two more caucus members enter the race and the sizeable band of MP aspirants shows over a long summer none of them has a real edge.

The wry news from the Liberal contest is the readiness of those who want Jean Chretien – like Sen. Keith Davey – to spread the word about the how callow and impudent is Dennis Mills, the new MP for Toronto’s Broadview-Greenwood.
Mills actually has more time in both government and the party than Pierre Trudeau had in 1968. And Mills worked up his own riding victory. He also he earned and did not inherit most of what money he has.
The Chretienites are already jittery about Mills. They fear the contrast of a fresh, energetic runner to their old war-horse.

Who amongst us has more dignified importance than Pierre Juneau? No one, aside from Bernard Ostry. And so the irony of Juneau’s last hurrah as president of the CBC at a hearing of the House communications committee not long ago.
One Felix Holtmann (PC, Portage-Interlake), as rambunctious a private enterpriser as there is in the Tory ranks, is the committee’s chairman. Before the last “hail and farewell,” there had been repeated promptings from Grit MPs to Juneau.
Weren’t the Tories out to destroy the CBC by funding cuts?
Juneau insisted: “I do not go easily for conspiracy theories, and that applies in this case.” He also said: “Frankly, as far as I can tell from having looked into this a great deal, I think the government so needed to find money . . . I do not think these cuts are the result of a great deal of study as to the impacts they would have.”
After that absolution of sorts by Juneau, Felix said farewell:
“I am not very familiar with the communications area of this world. Hogs and cows are things I have been associated with more. But I am willing to learn. And you have covered them well over the years, as I watched TV. There was a lot of squawking and a lot of mooing going on. But thank you very much, and good luck in any retirement that you get involved with.”

There’s a chapter on “The media and the campaign” in the Carleton paperback, The Canadian General Election of 1988, by professors Alan Frizell and Anthony Westell, which begins “Every national election campaign is now in essence a media campaign.”
There is one racy paragraph that struck me at first reading as being too “with it.” See what you think.
“ . . . the reporters assigned to the leaders’ tours . . . tended to be a new breed. There was less excitement about the story and more worries about the technological problems of communications with head office; most of the reporters were writing on lap-top computers which did not always interface easily with telephones. There was less concern about the supply of liquor and more about the cholesterol in the airline meals. Conversation might wander from the latest political gossip to the ruinous cost of overtime with the nanny at home. And of course there was much interest in what would happen after election day – that is to say, in what exotic place to take a post-campaign vacation, using the frequent-flyer bonuses which the airlines made available to the intrepid reporters flying on the leaders’ chartered planes. On some legs of the tours, in fact, the media contingent divided into two groups, the old guard of veterans who smoked, drank, told rookies tall tales of campaigns past, and thought it was all good fun, and the new journalists who objected to smoking, drank Perrier, and found it all very tiring. Almost nobody thought of the tours as great news stories.”
The switches noticeable to me among the media people covering the leaders in 1988 from those of four or five elections ago seem due to the surges in TV personnel, in particular TV technicians – camera, sound and light people. Now this mob’s the majority. Few of them have any interest in the leaders or politics but a lot in having much fun. So, the tour last year on the planes and buses just seem noisier, more bibulous, and adolescent than those of years ago.

The summer issue of The Idler has a long interview with novelist Scott Symons with these lines about Pierre Trudeau as merely the culmination of: “ . . . a 60-year Grit hegemony – cultural and political hegemony – from 1926.”
“And the average Canadian had had enough. the Trudeau years, which started so blithely, ended up so sleazy and semi-psychotic that the country would have voted for a tortoise or a camel or anything . . . that final Trudeau mandate was just bitchy; an orgy of narcissism and activated impotence.”
“ . . . the media always thought itself smarter than the public. It could always go one faster than the public. There was a smart-ass quality to our media, to the Toronto media. And Trudeau was schizogenic – he generated schizophrenia, and he could always go one further than the media. It took the media five to seven years to understand what this man was . . . Trudeau was a media prime minister.”

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, June 12, 1989
ID: 12739717
TAG: 198906120112
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

NOT QUITE LANDED GENTRY

TEXT:
Should politics have a new maxim: Do not possess a large property?
In a story bare of substance from its centre-point, Dalton Camp, we learn he is out of the post with deputy-minister rank he took in the PMO several years ago. A repeated phrase in the stories was of Camp returning to his “60-acre New Brunswick retreat.”
Another story – about Elmer MacKay, minister of Public Works and cabinet voice for Nova Scotia – rumbled into the House and national distribution after weeks as Hill gossip. It alleges MacKay gained materially from a road built by the province using federal funds. The road runs by or through the “vast properties” or “vast estate” of MacKay.
Oh, the wry irony in these two men as grand landowners.
Dalton Camp has owned for many years a large woodlot on land sub-standard for farming but more worthwhile, perhaps, for recreational development. Years ago he had built on the lot a fairly large house to provide quarters, separate but immediate, for his own family and for his mother and brother. Camp and family lived in the house on this “retreat” for almost 10 years. As a good friend of his described it to me years ago; “It’s nice but not very Rosedale-fancy, and it’s so far from anywhere.” (Of course, this friend was a Torontonian.)
MacKay came to the House first in 1971, burly and looking like an outdoorsman. As one keen on forestry I learned he’d been cutting and hauling logs since his childhood from woodlots owned by his father and family. He explained he’d gone into law and set up his shingle in New Glasgow because much as he liked the woods and its work he and his family were acres rich and income poor.
Now, 18 years on, he and his family’s durability on the land brings accusatory phrases from Toronto Liberal Bob Kaplan. Yes, he who 28 years ago was the smile, if not the toast of Forest Hill, for marrying millions. Kaplan suggests that MacKay as a owner of vast properties has indubitable gains in his worth from the skullduggery of a road financed from the federal trough.
The ironies in these depictions of Camp and MacKay – both, whatever else they may be, are clearly not sharply acquisitive in the stock material fashion – recall a racket raised with me in 1968 by no less than John Turner. In weighing leadership aspirants then I had used for him a cliche like “born to the purple” and recalled his wedding reception at the Fort Garry Hotel in Winnipeg with most of Canada’s political and corporate elite on hand. In short, John Turner was typed alongside another candidate, Pierre Trudeau as not “log cabin” aspirants.
Turner said he was fed up with tags of wealth and birth and “dancing with Princess Margaret.”
He told me how straitened was his mother’s way as a young widow with two small children. She had no close family with large resources, only her determination and a university education in a community whose main employer, the government, then offered little in income or promotions to women.
Take his word, said Turner, things had not been easy for his family. There’d been scrimping and an emphasis to him that he must earn his way to security and position through application at school and college. He did not win a Rhodes scholarship merely for his sprinting, his looks, or his “connections.” He was not asked to join a premier law firm because of his stepfather. And he entered public life “to serve” and not to seek wealth and fame.
Turner felt I unfairly continued a fabricated myth of him. Yes, such does happen, rather like the myths of Camp “in retreat” or Elmer MacKay, the Duke of Pictou.
Now, some footnotes on Dalton Camp as Mulroney’s adviser. In the early ’70s we were associates on an Ontario commission. His savvy, honesty, and diligence impressed me. I think I know him fairly well. Since ’86 we’ve had a few conversations in Ottawa. I kidded about both his success (which went right to the end) in keeping out of the media’s eye, despite the hue and cry at his first (and unusual) appointment and the small enthusiasm of western Tories who could not forget him and John Diefenbaker.
I chewed at adviser Camp over what should be done or not done in policies, political behavior and House-handling. He listened and sometimes responded yet I could draw few conclusions. The most of what he said which might be labelled critical came down to some modest complaints. The first was his surprise and eventual forebearance at the slow pace of bureaucratic responses to ministerial wishes.
The second point Camp seemed to make was more personal but it seemed common sense. It was about leadership and the public performances of leaders. I had unloaded on him, and not just once, the rather familiar critiques of Brian Mulroney. Finally, with inferences I took to be to leaders he had once advised – Bob Stanfield, Bill Davis and Richard Hatfield – Camp said his experiences told him the shrewdest advice could not transform a well-jelled personality which already had some political success. As I recall his phrase, advice then had “only marginal utility.”
None of us outsiders knows what Camp gave or took away from the government. It’s my hunch his part was positive, but . . . ? The question now is where he will emerge again as political columnist: The Star? Financial Post? MacLean’s?

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, June 11, 1989
ID: 12739583
TAG: 198906110089
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C6
COLUMN: In Ottawa

SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

NEITHER UP, NOR DOWN

TEXT:
As the question period furor over the budget leaks was eclipsed by Chinese affairs and left behind, a rash of stories bloomed which suggested that barely into its second run the Mulroney ministry was back where it was from mid-1985 to its amazing 1988 recovery.
Even a careful observer like Carol Goar of the Star saw it this way and reviewed a row of ministers diminished in reputation and so in effectiveness so soon after electoral glory. Of course, she picked out Michael Wilson but also Joe Clark, Don Mazankowski, Doug Lewis (both House leader and justice minister) and Otto Jelinek as symbolic of a ministry in serious trouble.
There was a blunt lesson for both opposition ranters and political reporters in the astonishing recovery of ’88. One need not get off on the mighty issue of free trade as the prime explanation for it. If anything, the FTA created the most fervid, best organized and fully displayed coalition of dissenting voices in any Canadian political uproar since the Zombies’ crisis through the winter of 1944-45.
No, the lesson has two parts.
First, the volatility of public opinion, especially in its partisan aspects. This seems intrinsic now in this age when TV news both dominates the communication of politics and must perpetually hunt for variety and instant interpretations and judgments.
Second, the folly of assuming there are grave electoral certainties in an apparent deterioration of ministerial status. Say – just to range over it all -the scorn expressed for top people like Mulroney or Wilson or Clark; or through a string of resignations or corruption stories; or because of an overwhelmingly critical press over several years which hammered at the flaws and goofs of the likes of Marcel Masse, Tom Siddon and Jelinek.
And the other side of the ministry story is what should be recalled from recent politics about the opposition celebrities.
Everybody came to like and trust Ed Broadbent! Did they? It seemed so for over two years.
And everybody was down on John Turner for over three years, then, suddenly, he was heroic, even epic for a fortnight, and then he faded away. (Note a current irony: Turner’s been more relaxed and so poised the past month than since he left for Bay Street in 1975. In short, he seems just fine.)
In sum, one ought to be cautious in judgments about the consequences for any politician or politicians who seem for any week or month to be much up or down during the long interval between elections which produce a majority.
Another illustration to caution us on instant “ratings” of politicians can be taken from recent shifts in performances by some who have been less fixed upon than their leaders. Take the Grits’ Rat Pack of a few years ago or the NDP’s Svend Robinson through much of the last Parliament.
Even the rattiest, most racketing of the Pack, Sheila Copps, is now mimicking what the others in the gang have done: Toning down, being less vituperative, going for a responsible image, evading typecasting, searching for positives. John Nunziata hasn’t publicly insulted any Tory for months. Each week Don Boudria seems more like George McIlraith. And Robinson, so recently the ultra-prepared raker of ministers and uncherished star within the NDP’s caucus, has been transformed. Haven’t you noticed? On his feet Robinson reminds one now of a soloist of the Vienna boys’ choir.
And so, somewhat in contradiction to Goar and for what it’s worth after a catechism on judgmental caution, the following seems arguable from appraising question periods the last few months and what seems out there in public appreciation.
This is not a popular government but there is not a popular opposition or any much respected opposition personality.
Wilson by his very simplicity and unflappability has come through the budget leaks well, not poorly.
The plain, persistent doggedness of Mazankowski continues to protect his prime minister and bind the government effectively.
Despite hypocrisies in the post-election policy shifts of his government and the resurfaced animosity towards him of the press pack (which tends to: “We’ll get the bastard!”) Mulroney is not in deep trouble as a prime minister, though he will never be free of troubles.
Unless or until Canada works into a thorough-going recession like that of the early ’80s in the next two years or the Liberals find a genuine Joshua, this will be a well-reviled PM but not necessarily one with a government certain to disappear.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, June 09, 1989
ID: 12739334
TAG: 198906090171
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

ISRAEL TAKES PR OFFENSIVE

TEXT:
Some jaws have dropped in Ottawa. Honoring leaders of other nations has its crown here in an invitation to address our Parliament. In late May, when Joe Clark was out of the country, a notice came on the parliamentary agenda that the president of Israel would address Parliament late in June.
Parliament has heard from Churchill, Eisenhower, Macmillan, Kennedy, Reagan, Mitterand, etc. – leaders of the three nations to which we are and have been most closely tied, Britain, France and the United States. But it is unusual, in fact, surprising, to see this honor accorded to the head of a small state and to its honorific head, not its executive head.
Part of the surprise comes from the clear cooling of Canadian public opinion on Israel and the firmer attitudes of external affairs to it. The shift was first noticeable following the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the massacres in the PLO camps.
The power of television has been at work. In the year or so since TV began bringing us regular snippets of uneven clashes in Israel between its military and Palestinian youths and children, the cooling towards Israel has become chilly. Of course, no government has ever more acutely read or influenced public opinion in Canada and the U.S. better than Israel. Therefore, one concludes the unusual parliamentary visitation was arranged by Israel through the prime minister and those immediately close to him who are very pro-Israel rather than through external affairs. This is part of a counter-offensive to regain popular Canadian backing.

In a recent report to the House, the elections, privileges, procedure and private members’ business committee, chaired by Vancouver Tory Chuck Cook, rejected summarily the proposal to turn the televising of the Commons over to a joint venture of the CBC and the cable TV operators, called CPaC for Canadian Parliamentary Channel.
What’s wrong with the CPaC proposition?
It arranges for no real input by MPs in its planning and reviews. It would charge a fee to users and this offends the idea of Parliament as a public service. Although CPaC stresses neutrality, the very choices within the wide range of events or proceedings it considers for programming “presupposes a previous editorial decision.” Ours is “an essentially adversarial arena,” says the committee report and neutrality is easier said than done.
The committee frets over the twin network across Canada – one predominantly English, the other French. How will it function after adding so much material beyond mere House coverage. CPaC wants to televise committee proceedings but has not put forward concrete proposals on how this costly and difficult chore with its many choices would be done.
And so the committee recommends that it or a special committee be given broad terms of reference for a major study of CPaC, and it sets out nine matters for such a reference, all of which seem sensible.
The committee insists substantial changes should not be made in present procedures in televising the House until the study is done. It does recommend that the present hosts (French and English) of the House service be moved to the chamber’s environs for more immediacy. It suggests a new regime of indexing and identification be introduced (using the bottom strip of image) and particularly for repeats of the day in order that viewers regularly see what is on, who is up, who is coming up, and what the topic menu is ahead.
The latter adornments would demystify the House somewhat but the committee does not touch at all on the changes most needed to make the House more interesting such as: (a) allowing the cameras wide-angle shots and random shots away from whoever is on his or her feet, including activities of various MPs and House officials on the floor; (b) using videotape replays and voice-over explanations by the host when bells are ringing or in other “waiting” periods; (c) putting in the bottom strip short notes on the MP speaking – like age, political experience, caucus positions, main interests.
CPaC has had good reasons to show more than the House itself in its present flatness outside question period. There is a ready boredom in a series of talkers unenhanced with either visual variety or easily added printed information.
A last point about the committee and MPs regarding their own TV. The latest denials and delays continue a tradition. Proposals much like CPaC’s were made over 20 years ago, a decade before House transmissions began. Both prime ministers and party leaders have been readier than the run of MPs for televising Parliament and adding variety and finesse. But it remains one of the rarities left on Parliament Hill. Here the wishes of the mass of the MPs have force and so, whatever CPaC or the CRTC wants must come in line with MPs’ wishes.

Canada figures in the best-selling A Woman Named Jackie by David Heymann only as a partial setting for revelations about the medical treatments of President John Kennedy and his wife. The president had a doctor who sounds like Dr. Jamie Astaphan. He got him up for action with injections of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. In order to get Jackie out of despond and some ailments for the visit to Ottawa in May, 1961, JFK got Jackie onto his doctor. Both the Canadian visit and the ensuing one to Europe went very well for both, with the doctor’s injections.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, June 07, 1989
ID: 12739037
TAG: 198906070138
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

WHERE EAST MEETS WEST

TEXT:
Should we not thank TV? It unfolded the Chinese tragedy with more immediacy and shock than any great happening since the brawling daily bites of raging Iranian zealots at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. TV coverage of China also reached Parliament Hill where the opposition forsook the budget leak “scandals” for almost half an hour in Monday’s question period.
It was an example how a superior cataclysm for and from TV floods over a lesser one. Our opposition parties had determined that the prime item of our politics to the summer break would be the immoral government. The leak became their prime item because it translated more easily and daily than budget content into a running TV story. Further, one of TV’s own was both martyred by the government and symbolic of freedom of the press.
To leave the Hill’s tight horizons, it seems reasonable now to assume there will be either several years of intense internal dissension in China and/or a decade or so of militaristic repression. Certainly there’s a stop to, or a very long hold on, Deng Xiaoping’s drive to fully rationalize China technologically by the year 2000 through highly pragmatic means like foreign investment, joint ventures, special free trade areas, and the encouragement of private industry.
It is hard to generalize about the eventual consequences for Canada in the Chinese tragedies. What earthly effect may anything our government does have on the situation?
There will be one near certain consequence – for Canadian immigration. We have not had any considered policy on the Chinese immigration which has been underway in growing strength since the mid-1970s. More Chinese have been coming than any other ethnicity. It was a safe projection that by 2000 they would be the most numerous group here born outside Canada.
A fresh imperative from China in turmoil, taken with the growing numbers coming here through family ties from other Asian nations (India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam), means in the 21st century Canadians will likely see once visible minorities moving to majorities.
The immigration policies we have are latitudinarian and idealistic. There seems scant public objection to the policies, at least in any organized form, whereas Canadian churches and most national associations favor large-scale immigration addressed to helping as many as possible of the millions in Asia, Africa and South and Central America who are oppressed and see Canada as a beacon of hope.
The idealism is at its highest, of course, in our most cosmopolitan and metropolitan centre, Toronto. The daily papers in Toronto have been pathmakers for more, but less traditional, immigration. Who hasn’t noticed the pioneering from Toronto in, first the appearance, then the increase of visible minorities in the most familiar roles in our society – presenters and reporters on TV.
What is so evident in Toronto of multiculturalism and ethnic pluralism today will be the face (and the mix) of all Canada 30 years forward. Yes, even in Quebec. You see it underway in Montreal, though as yet it goes more slowly than in Toronto.
The zealous idealism favoring rather wide-open Canadian doors does not simply stand along on moral and religious impulses to do good. The idealism couples with the brute facts of a rapidly aging population, a very low birth rate, and a big, relatively recent slump of interest in emigrating to Canada among Europeans – for example, among Italians and Portuguese.
Two current books touch on China and suggest that Canadians or important elements in Canada, have had and maintained for a century a fascination and much optimism about a modern China or, rather, a modernized China. One book is by Peter Stursberg, longtime journalist and maker of political “oral” history.
Peter was born in China (1913); his father there to organize a postal system. Peter has been back to his birthplace recently, tracing the course of Canadian missionaries. His paperback, published by the United Church, is The golden Hope: Christians In China.
This is both the best supported and most intriguing of Stursberg’s conclusions: “The supreme irony of the great Protestant missionary effort, in which the Canadians had a not insignificant role, was that it was largely unsuccessful in its primary purpose of spreading Chistianity, but did assist in the promotion of communism . . . everyone was agreed that it provided a conduit through which medicine and dentistry and modern methods of education and agriculture and technology reached vast areas of China.”
Harper & Row has just published A Time of Change, by one of America’s great reporters, Harrison Salisbury of the New York Times, author of the best-seller, The Long March. About a third of his new book is given to the Chinese, particularly to Deng and the late Chou En-lai.
Salisbury confirms Stursberg on both the hopes and “the supreme irony.” His first effective Chinese contacts came through a Canadian, the late Chester Ronning. Like most of the missionaries he hoped Chinese communism would become benign, modern, even pluralistic.
And so it may turn out . . . about the time the face of Canada is more Oriental than Occidental.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, June 05, 1989
ID: 12655961
TAG: 198906050105
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

KENT’S VISION FOR CANADA

TEXT:
To some, even some who regretted it, Tom Kent was arguably the most fertile mind among the movers on Ottawa’s stage in the Pearson-Trudeau era. Now he has given the second stimulus within a year to policy discussions with a brilliant paperback brochure: getting ready for 1999, subtitled Ideas’s for Canada’s Politics and Government.
Last year Kent’s retrospective account came out (A Public Purpose) describing his role as adviser to Lester Pearson and Walter Gordon, and the rush of new policies put in place or discussed between 1963 and 1969.
The brochure’s appearance is modest – but not its scope and content.
Kent writes readily and well, as one might expect from a former editor for the Manchester Guardian and The Economist. The speed and skill were marked assets in his days in the offices of power. First, he chose to go with Pearson in the opposition wilderness. His pamphlet prepared for the 1962 Liberal policy conference at Kingston (Social Policy for Canada) had many ideas which became national programs in a few years – the Canada Pension Plan, medicare and manpower training.
Impatient at slow implementation when the Grits took office, Kent switched to the bureaucracy. He sold Pearson on a new department of manpower and immigration, and he became its first deputy minister. He forced ahead both manpower training schemes and a new non-discriminatory immigration policy based on his now famous point system.
Kent figured his minister, Jean Marchand, was a good bet to succeed Pearson as PM. Instead, Marchand declined and boosted Pierre Trudeau. In 1968 Kent swung to the new Department of Regional Economic Expansion (DREE).
Then he grew frustrated at what he thought was Trudeau’s betrayal of the Liberal agenda and withdrew to Nova Scotia in ’71 to run, first the Cape Breton Development Corporation then Sydney Steel. In 1980 he became dean of administrative studies at Dalhousie and his last public assignment was heading the ill-fated royal commission on newspaper ownership.
Unlike his 1962 brochure. Kent does not intend the new one for the exclusive use of Liberals. “Today,” he says, “I am agnostic as to whether the Liberal party has the will and the capacity to formulate a constructive agenda for government.”
He doesn’t expect his prescriptions will have quick or uncritical acceptance. What he wants is public discussion.
Kent skips a few issues, saying disingenuously that others can make a more distinctive contribution. But his scope is breathtaking, as this much truncated list shows.
Reform of political parties by creating membership registers (“the trade is in ill repute”). Power now rests with advocacy groups. Restrict election campaigns to three weeks, and finance them from the public purse. Create an independent commission of political ethics to monitor elections and conflicta of interest.
Proportional representation in the Commons and an elected single-constituency Senate to take care of regional interest.
Cut federal cabinets to a maximum of 12 ministers with policy-making powers, each having junior ministers with only administrative responsibility for departments.
Create a Council of Canada, a joint federal-provincial body to be the focus and forum for federal-provincial dealings; kill the redundant Economic Council of Canada.
Thoroughly reform taxation: Stop taxing business as such; corporate earnings by law to go to shareholders and taxed as personal income. Multinationals to pay their taxes to the United Nations (!). Revive an idea in the Carter commission on taxation (1965) that “a dollar is a dollar” and tax all income (with a more graduated scale than at present) including capital gains, gifts, inheritances, stock bonuses and medicare benefits. Bring in a wealth tax.
Full employment is achievable without inflation if politicians are stopped from depending on monetary policy so they can evade keeping the government’s own financial affairs in order. National debt “is not a monster that endangers us. It is closer to being a friendly household pet. But pets lose their charm if over-feeding makes them too fat”.
Introduce disability insurance and a regime of full re-imbursement to single parents for child expenses – taxable, of course – to relieve the pressure on our welfare system.
Return unemployment insurance to its original purpose.
Replace block grants to the provinces for post-secondary education with a comprehensive scholarship system which covers tuition and living expenses, making it taxable within 10 years after graduation through a surtax.
Privatize federally financed occupational training to get away from provincial inefficiency.
Increase immigration to compensate for decreasing fertility here, with an emphasis on young couples and orphans.
Kent has many more intriguing proposals, eloquently, even elegantly elaborated.
Another recent book has related themes – Keeping Deputy Ministers Accountable (McGraw-Hill Ryerson), by the Hon. Gordon F. Osbaldeston. This report, replete with academic trappings and extensive sponsorships, is a contrast to Kent’s brochure. It is dry, not a real pleasure to read, and surely useless outside of a small circle of mandarins, whereas Kent’s is a great gift to Liberal and NDP leadership candidates.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, June 04, 1989
ID: 12738670
TAG: 198906040102
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C6
COLUMN: In Ottawa

SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

UNITED CANADA DRIFTING APART

TEXT:
Is anything moving in our oldest contention, i.e., “Two nations warring in the bosom of a single state?” (Lord Durham, 1839.)
Yes, and it’s astonishing. Because it is creeping into the conventional wisdom of politicians and journalists of both “official” language groups although no large, bitter battles are under way.
Here is how three anglos familiar with the “two nations” see it.
First, a woman writer and broadcaster who has lived and worked in Montreal for two decades, who makes out well in French, who treasures a Quebec farm and does not plan to leave.
She says she now feels it regrettable that “sovereignty association” was lost in the referendum eight years ago. Despite that defeat, despite Rene Levesque’s passing and the PQ as a seemingly weak opposition, the conceptions embodied in sovereignty association are alive and affecting the Bourassa government. The idea of equality of treatment for English with French in Quebec is simply not washing. It can never be imposed by Ottawa or the Supreme Court. Anglos inside Quebec must accept that Quebec is not a province like the others.
More telling than what’s there within Quebec are her observations from a lot of work across Canada.
“Somehow, sometime, in the past few years a shift took place, and now Canadians outside Quebec no longer care very much, even if Quebec goes.”
She thinks public opinion is ripe for a different relationship between Canada and Quebec that would square with sovereignty association. Despite the work and funding put into bilingualism and biculturalism since the mid-’60s she thinks the two communities are not closer. The Quebecois are not greatly interested in Canada beyond their province, and the reverse as also become true.
Second, a retired senator who has given much effort and scholarship to two subjects, the Constitution and the French language and culture, told me he now is pessimistic Canada can for long remain as it is. Pierre Trudeau’s initiatives, which he thought imperative and wise, are fading away, leaving little more than a recognition that Ottawa’s writ is not the same in Quebec as it is outside it.
The good side is there is so litle animus – hate -and so much leave-it-lay about it all. The bad side, most noticeable in the provinces outside Quebec, is the withering of patriotic enthusiasm and a strong resolve that we must go on together. In short, we are changing without bangs or whimpers.
Third, an English-language journalist, who is good in French and has much more knowledge of Quebec politics than most of us, was wrily recounting a nasty encounter on the return flight of the prime minister’s aircraft from Europe.
In a rage at each other were Lysianne Gagnon, a star political columnist of La Presse and Tim Naumetz, a Hill reporter for the Sun. The cause? Misunderstanding! Each took different values and conclusions from a public occasion in Africa involving the prime minister and his wife.
This journalist was not weighing in on one side or the other, but after describing how literally awful the scene had been he told how another English-Canadian reporter who has spent years covering Quebec politics spent a long time soothing the hurt and temper on the Gallic side. He saw the incident as microcosm for the whole, and he went on about the gulf between the two communities.
What this trio senses fits with what I get from MPs of the three parties. The two leadership contests of the opposition parties may re-ignite the issue of Quebec in Canada. Meech Lake and its implications cannot be glossed over with old banalities like co-operative federalism.
To close the topic, here is an ironical reminiscence from 1954 – well before Lester Pearson as PM launched Bi & Bi.
In a letter to Bout de Papier, the magazine of our foreign service officers, Robert Ford, our distinguished ex-ambassador to the USSR, recalled the concern in Ottawa as the Cold War chilled because Canada had so few people able in the Russian language. Pearson, then exernal affairs minister, set up a committee to encourage the study of Russian. Ford asked him:
“ . . . if he did not think we should start with a higher priority, a committee to encourage anglophone Canadians to speak French. He reflected a moment and then said he believed it unconstitutional to use federal funds for the encouragement of the use of one of our official languages.”

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, June 02, 1989
ID: 12655945
TAG: 198906020106
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

OUR DISTRUST RUNS DEEP

TEXT:
Ken Dye may be in the eighth year of his 10-year run as auditor general of Canada but he is as aggressive as ever. Witness his appearance a few weeks ago before his prime forum, the public accounts committee of the House.
The big story from the quiz given Dye by the freshly constituted committee at its first hearing was on his proposal of a formal, always open, widely known telephone number – a “hotline” – for those with complaints about government operations or information about wrongful or untoward activities within the federal government. This idea is still reverberating, especially from fascinated opposition MPs. Dye had other ideas and projections which we will get to next week.
The present furor over the threat to press freedom in the criminal charges against Doug Small of Global TV shows how broad is the national mind-set in a suspicion of politicians and bureaucrats in power.
Even the sacred protections of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and a judicial system become an arbiter above Parliament on whether politicians act wrongfully is not seen as guarantee enough against secretive government. The distrust runs deep. There is an evident readiness to give reporters and their vehicles a writ to expose everything within a government on behalf of the public. And it certainly is a writ which goes beyond that accorded any non-journalistic citizens.
Well, the Dye proposition fits somewhere here. He does not have the funds for it. He thinks it would be better if another agency than his own ran it. There would be “a telephone line where concerned taxpayers could phone a number without giving up their identity and causing themselves embarrassment to inform us of problems of waste, extravagance, and non-compliance with federal law and so on.”
The AG took his idea to government managers and found they had other priorities, were strapped for money and feared “an adverse impact on public service morale.”
The line could be run for about $600,000 a year and it might be tried as an experiment, say with a sunset clause of two years. Dye believes such a line “would more than get our money back fast, but we are unable to pursue it.”
One reason it might be feasible for his agency to do it is because “we do have a good reputation with the Canadian public and it might be the right agency.”
Why has the AG operation such a high repute? Because annually its blockbuster report cites scores of examples of waste and mismanagement in government. Because the report is grist for scores of admonishing editorials and moral examinations of bureaucratic bungles and ministerial hypocrisies.
For a decade the controller general of the U.S. has had such a hotline and his inspectors handle the calls and appraise them for follow-up. A lot of calls are “chaff” but enough have been worth further investigation and brought worthwhile revelations and savings to amply justify the service.
Dye recognizes that if his forces manned such a hotline and came on a “scandalous situation” the AG might “find himself in the position of being seen to be attacking a minister of the government. In such a hypothetical situation, the plan would be that this type of stuff would be automatically referred to the RCMP, not us. Anything that is fraudulent – fraud that is criminal – would have to go through the RCMP.”
One can easily conjure marvellous extensions of the hotline. One Liberal MP and a public service union leader have leapt at the idea because it would make it so much easier for federal employees “to blow the whistle.” That is, the hotline could institutionalize leaks from inside to the outside.
A register of the complaints or allegations would surely be kept. These when tapped through the access to information law could reveal a running monitor of reactions by every sort of citizen to government and its bureaucracies. It would be a telling opinion survey for a ministry but also a gold mine for investigative journalists.
Some citizens may react thus to the hotline idea: Surely this is what my MP is for. Is the MP not the best one to take up a grievance, an allegation?
On this point some observations of Ken Dye to the committee are apt. He was explaining the failures and successes of his use the last two years of videos. That is, the main points of audits from various departments or federal agencies – particularly regarding “value for money” judgments – have been synthesized and put on video cassettes which are available to TV stations, cable systems and, in particular to OASIS, the cable-computer system serving all MPs.
The results are mixed. As Dye told the MPs:
“I think it is a valid medium for getting our message across. members of Parliament do not read our report. We know they do read newspapers. We know they do watch television. They are sensitized to messages coming through those media. They are not, generally, in reading our report.”
So . . . if the auditor general must depend on the popular media to reach MPs with at least some elements from the enormous work of his office is there reason to fear the hotline concept would impinge on the role of the MPs?
Further, Dye’s need to depend on the popular media underlines why there seems such universal outrage, especially in the media, at the prosecution of a whistle-blower like Doug Small, clearly the sudden symbol of freedom against big government.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, May 31, 1989
ID: 12655930
TAG: 198905310098
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THE GAME’S THE THING

TEXT:
Was it not what we needed – a landmark case on freedom of the press? And as victim of a paranoid state apparatus a patently good chap in Doug Small?
To boot, Small wears the VC of meritorious press credentials – a national scoop.
Oh, the editorials! By the score. Professors at journalistic schools will subsume their anger with delight at such a focus on the imperative that all news must be given to all citizens. Panels, seminars and symposia for months to come will review the reasons for this charge and the course of its disposal.
If, as seems certain, some Mulroney minister is fool enough to say Small had to be prosecuted and should be convicted, skies shall fall, repression of the worst sort divined.
If, as seems certain, the Charter of Rights is central to the defence in this prosecution then the denouement simply must be a “not guilty” verdict, ideally coming from a jury of Small’s peers – i.e., from a microcosm of freedom-loving Canadians – not from a mere judge.
Eventually, Global TV may dedicate some of its earnings for a chair on press freedom at Carleton University’s school of journalism. The first incumbent may even be the scooper himself.
You think this ridiculous? Wait. Watch. Listen. You have little idea of the self-importance which lurks below the modest surface of Canadian journalism, inspired by the biblical piety: The truth shall make you free.
On Monday in the House the opposition continued its assault on the finance minister, the prime minister and the deputy prime minister for covering up the two (or more) budget leaks.
John Turner resurrected as ruse a notion of calling the top federal mandarins “to the bar of the House” to get at the truth of what the opposition insists is either monumental stupidity or an Ollie North sort of cover-up in holy Canada. The last time this device worked – back in Wilfrid Laurier’s time – a journalist was called to the bar.
Naturally, in keeping with its juggernaut ways, the government, in the form of Deputy PM Don Mazankowski and House Leader Doug Lewis, ignored this means of attaining the truth with the justification, of course, that ministers are responsible for mandarins.
Then the New Democrats through their blond Van Heusen shirt ad guy, Nelson Riis, did their artful bit of the day on the government crime of the spring.
In a rambling preamble to what hardly even purported to be a question, Riis recalled a brief withdrawal from the chamber during the question period hour on the fateful day – April 27 – by Mazankowski, Lewis, and Michael Wilson. It was obvious what this short time out had been for: To talk over how to deal with the news just in about another leak. News they decided to hide from the House and the people of Canada. News that an $11 billion corporation, Mutual Life of Canada, had had the budget in brief for days.
The deputy prime minister was hurt, and showed it, but not so hurt to blow his patience fuse. A veteran, he saw this was another ploy in the game – anything to continue the game, to keep the ministry defending its wisdom in hiding behind an RCMP investigation. The twin foundations of the government defence are: First, its quick, sound decision to go with the budget on TV Wednesday night; second, the associated decision to put the investigation of the “criminal” leak completely into police hands.
The TV shots of the MPs and the benches Monday seemed unusually varied and wide. Viewers could see and hear a lot of reaction in facial expressions and not so sotto voce comments.
It was apparent the MPs of both opposition caucuses knew their respective ploys but what went on makes clear that the caucus strategists must drill some no-no’s about facial appearances and interjections into all ranks.
There was Brian Tobin emoting in high C, almost keeling forward in outraged purity at such ministerial perfidy. And, at the apogee of his devastated innocence, his Claude Lemieux act, some Grits in front of him like ex-ministers, Andre Ouellet and Robert Kaplan were chortling and smiling.
If a party cast is to play outrage, every actor has to join in the united disapproval – and not give it away by snickering.
As for the Riis ploy, part of his act was to stretch out the prelude to the innuendo with seeming grace.
Everybody in the House knows Speaker John Fraser will never “sit down” a veteran MP unless he or she is insinuating someone is a liar or deceiver. In this normal vacuum of regulation left by such a latitudinarian chair the government benchers get into the play with noise. They barrack; they demand the “question.” This they did as Riis sashayed along, and he paused, resumed, and paused at their crescendoes. Twice in these interludes voices from the NDP corner admonished: “Wait for it!” And in the last pause before the closer, one voice exulted: “Wait. This is good!”
The honorable leader of the official opposition has characterized the daily question period as he found it on his return from Bay Street as a “charade” and “the BS hour.” For due respect, particularly from the ethically aware, freedom-loving media, let the caucuses take heed. Don’t give the game away as a game. You’re on television.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, May 29, 1989
ID: 12655911
TAG: 198905290108
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

CHAOTIC TIMES FOR THE NDP

TEXT:
Two points should be noted about the New Democratic Party’s leadership contest.
First, at this stage, and perhaps until the end in December, the party cadre has not settled on who ought to be the leader – i.e., the best choice!
Second, the four MPs declared for the race – Simon De Jong, Steven Langdon, Ian Waddell and Audrey McLaughlin – and the several more MPs who are possibilities – Lorne Nystrom, Bill Blaikie, Nelson Riis or Dave Barrett – are neither individually nor collectively the nimcompoops or drones suggested by both press comment and tepid reaction for within the party thus far to their candidacy.
Each is a capable, energetic MP on the basis of proven performance in the House of Commons or its committees.
The need to stress that this crew has talent comes in part by examining the implications of the point on the establishment cadre. The CCF founding leader was J.S. Woodsworth, and coming on through M.J. Coldwell (1939) to the NDP founding in 1961 and Tommy Douglas, to David Lewis in 1971 and Ed Broadbent in 1975, there was an understanding among the party’s stalwarts that they must have a leader who they knew was demonstrably the ablest and most sound.
That’s why the party cadre had fits when Hazen Argue dared to contest Douglas in 1961. The same cadre had a terrible day in 1971 when Jim Laxer of the Waffle wing suddenly emerged on the convention floor as a threat to David Lewis.
On Broadbent’s first leadership try (against Lewis) he was an outcast to the cadre. By 1975 he was its choice, not least because electoral defeat had weeded out better prospects. Remember, Broadbent was acting leader (of the caucus) after Lewis lost his seat. The MP from Oshawa said he would not run for the leadership.
After failed attempts by some in the cadre to enlist Eric Kierans for the party, the regulars organized a persuasive “draft” of Broadbent through a gilt-edged committee of past leaders, party presidents and MPs. Once Ed changed his mind he was the establishment’s choice, not Lorne Nystrom, the “boy” MP, not John Harney, long-time apparatchik, not Rosemary Brown, the B.C. MLA, the trio who ran against Ed.
In 1975 it took an uneasy four ballots before the cadre’s man won over outsider Brown. (Recall her attribute as the female candidate. It augurs well for Audrey McLaughlin.)
One reason Brown gave the cadre and Broadbent such a scare was the failure of many union delegates to show up. Again, this is something to keep in mind for 1989, when the union presence may be both harder to bolster than in 1975 and even less likely to flock to any one candidate unless . . . unless Stephen Lewis can be wooed to the race. If this happens he would likely win but surely he would not have a cakewalk.
Since 1975 the strength of the NDP, purely as a party, has shifted a bit to the West from Ontario. As an organization at work the greater perquisites and services now available to MPs on the Hill has meant more tilt towards the party caucus and away from the establishment. The current caucus has a lot of fresh MPs, mostly from the West.
At this stage it seems no MP candidate will have a lock on a lot of caucus colleagues, and yet an outsider candidate, say like Lewis, might draw a lot of the MPs, particularly from B.C. to an MP candidate.
Neither the party’s provincial headquarters nor the leadership of the big unions devoted to the party (like the auto workers and steel workers) seem to have the unity in outlook or the will to apply it as was the case in the ’70s. In short, no tidy score or so of influential New Democrats seems available to ensure the party gets the best person as leader. There’s no certainty any more as who would be best.
Only in distant Yukon is the NDP in power. Less than a quarter of the MPs come from Ontario. There are no premiers or provincial cabinet ministers to band together for a draft call or even to make the best choice out of a half-dozen fairly even prospects. In the most populous province the NDP array is hardly surging at Queen’s Park. The most highly touted party prospect of the past decade, Bob Rae, has twice been an electoral bust. Both Howard Pawley and Allan Blakeny seem long gone from office and legislature.
Such a recounting explains and makes more poignant the pathetic semi-public canvasses by what cadre fragments there are outside the federal caucus for someone conceived as the leader the party “ought” to have. The choices, one by one, have refused:
Stephen Lewis, the spellbinder!
Alexa McDonough, the Nova Scotia leader of the party who comes from a CCF founding family.
Roy Romanow, the handsome Saskatchewan party leader who proved his TV mettle as Pierre Trudeau made the great Constitution.
And, most recently, Ed Schreyer. A Western group would lure the former governor general into the field. At 53 he’s just two years older than Lewis, and is as well-known nationally.
Until such searching or drafts stop, the MPs already into or coming into the contest won’t get the attention in the media or the party’s respect that their abilities warrant. At least four of them at this point look as promising as Broadbent was in 1975.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, May 28, 1989
ID: 12737876
TAG: 198905280110
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C5
ILLUSTRATION: ILLUSTRATION:
drawing by Lurie
COLUMN: BACKGROUNDER

SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

SIX MONTHS DOWN…FOUR YEARS TO GO//ARE THE TORIES BETTER THE SECOND TIME AROUND?

TEXT:
Check the gap between the world going on beyond Canada and our obsessive niggling in domestic preoccupations.
Hopes for a better world have not been so promising since the brief euphoria long ago between the end of WW II end and the start of the Cold War.
Freedom seems on the march. Communists avow communism’s failures. But here? The outside world is hardly affecting our parish.
It’s six months since the voters gave a solid electoral win to the Progressive Conservatives. It seems so long ago. In wrangling and tone not much has changed in politics since one year ago. The prime minister is no more beloved. Regional stresses continue; so do the “deux nations.” There’s more welching on Meech Lake.
Since the new Parliament resumed, after its pre-Christmas push for the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) the opposition has demanded, variously, the resignation of 10 different ministers in the Mulroney cabinet-Michael Wilson, both Lucien and Benoit Bouchard, Shirley Martin, Tom Siddon, John Crosbie, Barbara McDougall, Pierre Cadieux, Marcel Masse and Monique Vezina.
To itemize why these heads have been called for reminds us how constant and familiar are parliamentary politics, in any year.
Wilson was wanted for the budget leaks; Lucien Bouchard for tainted fuels, oil spills off B.C., etc; Benoit Bouchard for the Via Rail shake-up and the air safety board split, and Martin as his alter ego in responsibility; Siddon for the grim cod war and bleak fish quotas; Crosbie for the gulf between his trade pitches and the unfolding consequences of the FTA; McDougall for hard-heartedness with refugees; Cadieux for stonewalling on educational cuts for young Indians; Masse for conspicuous self-aggrandizement and wasteful spending; and Vezina for asserting most seniors’ groups approve the “claw-back” from the affluent elderly.
Six months is an eighth to a ninth of a normal, majority Parliament. Over the four years or so of such a parliament, six months, particularly the first six months, will seem a mere blip in a longer retrospect. There has been time enough, however, to make a judgment on this government.
The reins are tighter. The spirit more careful. But a fresh, new dawn did not come with the November election.
Perhaps the vote’s most vivid political consequence was its sundown for the two opposition leaders. Usually about a year after a general election the politicians take up again their concern with their relative stocks. The latter are traditionally read from the regular Gallup polling on party preferences. This standard graph of partisan rise and fall is skewed and will be longer in abeyance as an influence, first because of the lengthy processes of replacing John Turner and Ed Broadbent. The concentrated fix by both opposition parties on destroying the Progressive Conservative government is not what it was a year ago and won’t be again until both have new leaders in place in the House.
A second explanation why the usual functional effect of the Gallup has been delayed can be read from what the PM told his caucus with the word to spread it to their supporters. He said, in effect: We must be braver than we were in 1984 and 1985; we must address the high deficits and the massive debt charges.
Inadequate as Mulroney’s start this time on the deficit-debt issue may seem to many, particularly in business, he and they think it is real and politically precarious. In February he told his MPs their Gallup stock would tumble to the low 20s, perhaps even lower, and remain there for many months.
He prefigured well, given the rage and hurt since the budget came out from the many interests and associations who learned they or their aims (like national daycare) are to have less from Ottawa’s pot.
The question which will be answered, probably in the year or so before the official Opposition has its new head in the House, is how durable is Brian Mulroney’s current toughness. To many worriers it’s far from tough enough. In particular, there are growing portents of recession. Suppose these shape to an unemployment rate passing 10%? Will toughness evaporate? This may seem fear-mongering, but a good prediction is that the present firmness cannot survive a shrinking economy.
So far so good for toughness. So many interests, including provincial governments, believe the Tory toughness has or will hurt them that a concerted hue and cry has not emerged which fixes on one or even several anathemas in the government’s prescriptions. Say, like getting out of direct unemployment insurance contributions, or slashing VIA Rail, or wiping out defence-based communities.
Therefore at the moment in Ottawa, although the government caucus is edgy and braced for ratings more abysmal than 18 months ago, Mulroney and the government have some electoral force left and are still genuinely self-justified in their mandate.
Beyond the middling tax impositions and the rather moderate down-scaling of some program spending in the recent budget, are there other indicators of where the second Mulroney government is going? Is it finally into full Reaganite-Thatcherism mimicry which the Grits and New Democrats have been claiming to be so for four years without a lot of evidence? Is it much different than the government which trailed into the election?
One’s answers tend to splay all over the place. It strikes me that this government is set more in the places of power and is more comfortable in itself, largely through experience, than the first Mulroney government. But it does not seem a government which is assured and purposeful because it has great things to do and is eagerly doing them. It’s pragmatic. At the spectrum’s centre.
For example, privatizing some more Crown corporations is not so much zealousness for private enterprise as a desire to tidy the federal financial books. Similarly with the scaling down of the CBC’s funding. It’s not antagonism to its purposes so much as in line with what can be cut without the public sky falling.
The excuse, in fact the rationale, for the dearth of elan and mission is clear. How could politicians be gleeful or messianic with so little money cheer to spread. There is not enough to be imaginative, innovative and flexible. The government has been too much warned not to ignore the deficit-debt – as it’s now warning us in TV commercials – but it keeps moderating its candor because it’s so against the grain of a country used to governments throwing money at every problem and interest. And so Mulroney and company still falter over giving deficit and debt reduction a mastering priority for two or three close-hauled years.
The obvious rub is that in trying both to put the best face on its cuts and tax increases and tout all the good things it has done or is still doing, it perpetuates the central dilemma of the previous Mulroney government.
Succinctly, this was and is a distrust of the prime minister, combined with a frustration as to whether his government is really conservative or liberal or populist in character and deed or merely in to be in.
This comment has largely been in the realm of over-view, in discerning grandeur or mission or their lack in a government with a relatively fresh public approval. There are some lesser observations. Both competence and ineptitude are showing in the cabinet and in the House. What else from a ministry of 39, a Senate controlled by the enemy, a daily question period favoring the opposition? No federal government ever seems very good for very long.
The popular means of appraising a prime minister, his cabinet, caucus, and government is through what is seen and heard in the House of Commons. It does seem clear a tougher, more confident and somewhat less tentative crew for Parliament was forged in the last campaign with its triumph, particularly on a major policy issue. And now the PM has become more modest now than Pierre Trudeau was in his later House years in not responding readily to questions and taunts. Figuratively, he sits back with a web of fielders out in front, and usually it’s some ceremonial honorific which brings on the hyperbolic Mulroney.
The two complaints one hears most from regulars of the Tory party are very disparate and not about higher taxes or cuts in program spending. Both have substance. The first is about patronage or rather the lack of it. The PM has not been doling out the rewards with the gusto of 1984 and 1985. The second complaint is at the failure of Mulroney and Joe Clark to be or be seen to be more significant players on the yeasty, promising and intriguing international scene.
One cannot close a scan of the government six months in to four years or more without mention of the media as a group tending to bias along “pack” themes. The election result savaged the reporters’ pre-electoral scorn for Mulroney as a windbaggy deceiver. The general distaste remains but it’s overlaid with some respect due a victor in a hard campaign. The respect is waning but it won’t disappear until the Liberal alternative is before them, performing and admirable in contrast to the unloved one.
Meanwhile, a fairly canny prime minister with a too large but fairly useful cabinet crew will slide along and down the popularity scale until . . . say mid-1991 when a recovery will be attempted.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, May 26, 1989
ID: 12655896
TAG: 198905260145
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

BUDGET AFFAIR BUNGLED BY ALL

TEXT:
To put it mildly, none of those dealing with the leaked budget has done well. Not the Grits or New Democrats; not our flock of investigative journalists; not the minister of finance, the prime minister, or the solicitor general. Above all, not the famous federal police force.
How could a police force with an awesome reputation, wide powers, and a modicum of intelligence spend four weeks investigating a leak without providing its masters – and through them Parliament and the public – with a sensible account of how the budget information got out of custody, to whom, and with what effects?
Of course, the effects should have included a thorough resume of the examinations made of market transactions in the several days prior to the budget break.
Doubts on police competence got weightier with the disclosure two days ago that the Mounties had interviewed two of those who had copies of “the budget in brief” as Michael Wilson was finally presenting the budget materials in the House. This was less than 24 hours after Global TV’s splash of a leak triggered a quick, unorthodox response from Wilson in immediate exposure of budget texts.
Imagine! Police talked four weeks ago with two men who had the budget in brief, one with a tie to a big financial corporation, the other with a security firm. Surely they put the police onto the scope of circulation of the document and some leads to possible sources within the printing operation.
Perhaps the police have a defence for their slowness. Perhaps they have confided much to the minister to whom they report that we do not know. It remains unconscionable that after four weeks on a well-marked trail there are neither criminal charges nor firings at the printing bureau.
Ministers may maunder on about not interfering, not giving anything away to foul a police investigation but they knew the required investigation had two urgent objectives: 1) to find out and detail if anyone profited from the broken budget security; 2) to locate and expose those who revealed the budget to outsiders whether by accident, mischance or with intent to harm.
Several hundred reporters cover federal politics. Most focus on parliamentary doings, the cabinet and the main running stories. Since Global’s Doug Small chortled at his “scoop” the budget affair of 1989 has been both prominent and tantalizingly incomplete. Yet almost three weeks passed from the story’s first flare until CBC News asserted without detail there had been a leak other than to Global. Then a day or two later the CBC said a financial institution had the budget in brief several days early.
Aside from all the reportorial crew, the opposition caucuses and the individual MPs have staffs of researchers and investigators. None of this corps seems to have turned up anything substantial to challenge a ministry which was using the police investigation as defence for its silence.
That may be unfair to Don Boudria, the Liberal MP for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell. Reading through the Hansards of the days right after the budget indicates Boudria had the outlines of a second, even a third leak, but he hadn’t names or a document.
Of course, neither reporters nor the opposition MPs have any duty to ferret the particulars of the budget affair. However, in any general self-definitions of their roles both groups seem imbued with their function as ever-ready critics of government, always searching for wrongdoing and incompetence. Fine! But saving some possible credit to some investigator at the CBC little that we know on this case has come from media or opposition vigilance.
Now, let’s consider something else – government manipulation. Why? It seems most unlikely the more recent stuff on second leaks are government-inspired. This does not seem an imitation of leak management such as carried out in 1977 by Francis Fox, then solicitor general. Remember RCMP wrongdoing such as barn-burning. By doling bits of the tale to TV reporters over several days, then acknowledging the facts in the House, Fox let the media – particularly the CBC through Brian Stewart and Mike Duffy – make public information which was dangerous as a plain ministerial avowal to Parliament. When enough was aired, the Trudeau government iced it all with a royal commission inquiry.
The government is responsible for the police and for budget security.
The government always owes the House reasonable explanations for its actions, particularly for its failures.
The government was lucky that its unusual presentation of the budget was accepted as a necessary by a sensible public.
It was widely taken that the cause of the emergency was neither dangerous nor diabolical enough to require the resignation of the minister of finance. To fire Wilson four weeks ago put more into ministerial responsibility than seemed fair. How could he forfend either a crime or an unforeseeable mishap?
But now? The government, through Brian Mulroney, owes the country a detailed expose of what is known about this case. His presentation should include an appraisal of the doctrine of ministerial responsibility, and why it does not apply to the minister of finance, the solicitor general and himself.
And please – no royal commission of inquiry. Better Wilson should go than that.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, May 24, 1989
ID: 12655461
TAG: 198905240142
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

CHILLING VIEW OF ARCTIC LIFE

TEXT:
For decades our problems with the Inuit or Eskimos of the Arctic have been thought not as hard or complex as those of the Indians.
But a recent report by a Dalhousie professor, Colin Irwin, is reducing this rather pleasant opinion. The Inuit are into troubles as grave as those of any Indian groups.
After it examined how countries everywhere treated their aboriginal people, the Nielsen task force which reviewed federal programs in 1986 concluded that while Canada “ . . . in terms of financial effort, leads all other countries in attempting to meet the needs of native people . . . the continuing dilemma of high government expenditures and socio-economic inertia demands significant adjustments to government policy.”
Nowhere with native people has Ottawa spent more and seemed to get a fair return than with the Inuit. Of a half-million aboriginal people, the 28,000-odd Inuit have seemed both the most distinctive and the closest to nature and their old skills and social patterns.
Several Inuit distinctions over Indian ones have been seen as positive, including a numerical superiority in their huge territory, not being markedly in separate tribes and having unique abilities for a most inhospitable environment.
Northern Perspectives is a bulletin of the Canadian Arctic Resources Committee (CARC). The latest issue is titled “Future Imperfect.” Its subtitle is: “A controversial report on the prospects for Inuit society strikes a nerve in the North West Territory.”
The CARC’s bulletin has always seemed responsible, and fair. The purpose of this issue was to give wider currency and get more public debate on something officialdom would prefer stay low-key. The issue synopsizes the Irwin report, Lords of the Arctic: Wards of the State, then gives solicited responses to it, first by the territorial government in Yellowknife, then by an Inuit organization, the Tungavik Federation of Nunavut.
The government thinks the Irwin report too negative, whereas the Inuit see it as justifying their assumption of power so as to plan to escape their social malaise and economic dead end.
Irwin’s report was one of several Ottawa commissioned to project our demographics to 2025. He centred on what resettlement into permanent communities has done and will do to the very fertile Inuit. Here is one Irwin prediction:
“Most of the Inuit living in the Arctic in the year 2025 will probably be second-generation wards of the state, living out their lives in `Arctic ghettos’ plagued by increasing rates of crime. As long as current trends persist, most of the people living in the Arctic with professional and university qualifications will be white, and they will continue to dominate the higher levels of management in both the private and public sectors. This racially distinct minority can be expected to be the focus of growing racial tensions between themselves and the majority Inuit population.”
Some 50 years ago the abandonment of the original aboriginal lifestyle by a wide scatter of hunter families began and has accelerated. Irwin says:
“Since the Inuit were moved into permanent settlements in the late 1950s and early 1960s, a new generation has grown up in the social and cultural environment of houses, villages, schools, hospitals, jobs and television.”
The impetus to settlements from a semi-nomadic family life came from very high death rates and promising mining development. There were promises of health care, free housing, welfare and education for those who moved to the communities like Rankin Inlet and Chesterfield. The death rates did come down, the kids went regularly to school, the population grew far faster than the national average – and unemployment became serious.
Irwin says that with the passing years fewer Inuit have the skills to live off the land. And the school system is sending forth Inuit whose standards are well below those of white students in the north or elsewhere. There is no migration of note by Inuit to southern Canada.
The results of a high birth rate and too few jobs are bleak in a wage economy where the better jobs go to a more highly qualified white minority. The schools have not nurtured Inuit languages or heritage, thus abetting absorption through TV of values and recreations of a very different culture. Traditional skills are disappearing. The fur trade as an economic stay has faded and it is now very expensive even to hunt and fish for “country” food.
In short, those born since the resettlement are a “lost generation whose education and enculturation provides them with little more than the skills required to live out their lives as wards of the state.”
The governments in Yellowknife and Ottawa think Irwin far too gloomy. They see grand opportunities ahead in billions of barrels of oil, burgeoning tourism, extensive mineral wealth and in much more organized harvesting of wildlife.
For their part, the Inuit take Irwin’s grim portrayal as prime evidence they must have the political power and funding to run their parts of Canada, blending technology and training with their old way of life.
This seems neither radical nor vain if Irwin is nearer the reality than are those of Ottawa and Yellowknife.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, May 22, 1989
ID: 12655447
TAG: 198905220076
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

A GUIDE TO POLITICAL LIFE

TEXT:
When an institution going for 122 years changes hands, those who treasure it hope for better and fear worse. After scanning the first consequences – the 1989 edition – I can both regret and applaud the recent change of The Canadian Parliamentary Guide from personal to corporate ownership.
Most politicians and almost all political journalists use the Guide more than any other annual monograph (i.e. a book with its data updated). Today, I demonstrate with the content why the Guide is so indispensable.
Years ago an able librarian told me she could answer 90% of questions about politics and government if she had handy the aforesaid Guides and the Canada Yearbooks. I use the Guide far more than any other source of reference. My collection begins with the 1912 issue, jumps to 1925, 1935, 1949, 1954, then runs steady from 1957 to 1989. Each book is worn.
The Normandin family of Ottawa has been putting out the Guide since 1926. This is the last with the Normandin name. Editing and publishing the Guide has been taken over by Info Globe, an arm of the Globe and Mail. This year’s issue has the usual contents in their traditional arrangement.
A few, obvious consequences of the ownership change are good. The ’89 edition, all of 1,255 pages, is easier to handle and to read than the ’88 one because of stronger binding, better layout, wider pages and clearer print. The poorer consequences may well be quantified by someone with great patience. Simply put, there are more typographical errors than has been the pattern. Some are serious, but in aggregate they don’t much harm the annual’s utility.
What content makes the Guide so useful? Not its bilingual nature (it’s been that since the 1982 edition) and not its listing of the 200-odd bureaucrats with the rank of deputy-minister or its equivalent. It’s the biographies! The election results!
When the Guide went fully bilingual in 1982, it jumped almost 400 pages. It’s unlikely Info Globe would dare do separate Guides for each language so we’re stuck with a book weighing almost a kilo. Of course, some of the content could be dropped but after surveying what the compendium in total offers, you’ll appreciate why I’d argue for all that’s now there.
The contents unfold this way:
The royal family (with biographies).
The office of Governor General, with biographies of the incumbent and consort, a list of previous Governors General; biographies of the incumbent’s staff; a list of honorary aides-de-camp by province.
The members of the Privy Council for Canada (i.e., ministers, ex-ministers and a few specially honored individuals) arranged by order of appointment (headed by “Paul J.J. Martin, (18-04-1945)” and followed by their biographies and those of the chief officials of the PCO and federal-provincial relations;
A sketch of practices and rights of Parliament precedes a list of every Parliament and its sessions since 1867, including prorogation and dissolution dates;
A sketch of the Senate is followed by: a) senate speakers; b) present senators with designation by locale; c) present senators by dates of appointment; d) senators who have resigned or retired since 1965 (when an age limit of 75 years took effect); e) biographies of all senators and the chief officers of the senate; f) the standing of the parties in the Senate.
A sketch of the House of Commons is followed by the cabinet in order of precedence, followed by ministries by PMs since 1967, followed by a list of speakers and of deputy-speakers, followed by a list of MPs, first by name, then by constituencies.
Then comes the largest segment of the book, the 280-some biographies of MPs, followed by those of the House officers.
The segment which ranks close in usage to MPs’ biographies comes next and is not quite all its title says: “Election results, 1967- .”
But if you have a run of the Guide as I do from the mid-1950s, you can find the votes by candidates and parties in the past dozen federal elections and most byelections. One can also trace who held what ridings from 1867 to 1968. The results of the most recent election are given fully, riding by riding, and with the total votes cast in each province.
The general election dates since Confederation are followed by a summary of the results, by party and province. There are notes on Elections Canada staff, then the parliamentary section ends with a listing of executives and members of the press gallery and the chief officers of the Library of Parliament.
When province by province and the Yukon come listings of lieutenant-governors, premiers, ministries and biographies of all MPPs (or MLAs or MNAs) and legislative officials. The standings of parties and the results riding by riding in the most recent provincial election are set out.
The Guide winds down with notes on the Supreme Court, the Federal Court, the Tax Court, the Court Martial Appeal Court, and with biographies of the judges. Then come all federal boards and commissions and those in charge who hold deputy-minister rank. The final list is of diplomatic representatives of foreign countries. A table of titles and an array of precedence for Canada comes before a brief “memorium” of politicians who have died.
The last segment is mercifully succinct – an index of names. You’re not deeply into politics without the Guide.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, May 21, 1989
ID: 12853293
TAG: 198905210094
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C2
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

OPPOSITION SCOUTING REPORT

DATELINE: Ottawa

TEXT:
This is an early scouting report on the talent of the two federal, opposition parties, largely taken from scanning the 45 issues of Hansard this 34th Parliament has rung up.
A first impression from the extravagant debate on the trade agreement stands. The Liberals have added a lot of talent, most of it from Ontario and the Maritimes, none from Quebec. Comparatively, the NDP has done less well from its influx.
The Liberals do have a telling advantage of exposure in this House by getting more than double the NDP’s question time chances. Further, John Turner has sat aside more than Ed Broadbent has so we’ve seen much more of the Liberal array. Traditionally the NDP caucus has evened up such Liberal leads by putting up more speech-makers during debating hours who have tended to be better prepared than Liberal MPs. This latter alternative is not yet effective. Too many new Grits still want to sound off and some have something to say and do it rather well.
One cannot divine a new superstar politician in either band but at least a dozen of the new Grits look as good or better than any MPs in Turner’s previous caucus. Further, seven Liberal returnees from parliaments before 1984 have been popping up a lot (including ex-ministers Ralph Ferguson and Roger Simmons). They combine with the new MPs and 12 or so adequate leftovers to make the most promising Opposition since Pearson’s 1962 caucus.
An example of the edge of the Liberals over the New Democrats is in the Liberal group of women MPs, bucked up by nine additions and featuring two certainties for any Liberal cabinet to come in Ethel Blondin from the Western Arctic and Mary Clancy from Halifax. The Liberal females are clearly more various now in ideas and learning than the New Democrats (who miss the range and dedication of the defeated Lynn McDonald and Marion Dewar.)
To this stage, Liberal impressiveness owes little to rousing or clever leadership by Turner or the veteran MPs. More talent is pushing but there’s far from a coherent Liberal team and there may not be one without a new, unifying leader in the House.
The three new MPs in the NDP caucus who are excellent on their feet are really experienced politicians. Take Dave Barrett, an ex-B.C. premier and instantly the best entertainer in this House; or Dave Stupich, a former minister who mirrors a very broad education; or John Brewin, a lawyer from a CCF-NDP founding family. Like the Liberals, the NDP band is far from a real team and may need the new leader in the House to make it so.
A scouting overview of the new Liberals by almost any House observer would include these MPs. Here I list a dozen, roughly in order of how they’ve impressed me.
– Peter Milliken, who beat Flora MacDonald, fills the most grievous caucus gap – someone poised, knowledgable and tough-minded in the arcane but vital procedural field. The top gain, thus far!
– Douglas Young, the former Liberal leader in New Brunswick, is already the most complete performer as debater in the caucus – sharp, wry and dangerous. Glimpses of MacEachen!
– John Manley may escape the blight of an Ottawa seat. So far he’s shown more grasp of trends than any other new MP.
– Ethel Blondin is colorful, funny, at times outrageous and without the over-modesty of most native people in politics.
– Dennis Mills, the Lynn McDonald buster, will struggle to keep up with his expanding legend but he’s superbly confident and very charming.
– Mary Clancy is a slugger who brings more of a national view than most new Maritime MPs.
– Ron Duhamel from St. Boniface has shown more wit and content than more heralded Winnipeg colleagues David Walker (who’s grim and dry) and John Harvard (a Sheila Copps clone).
– Paul Martin keeps me wondering why he wants to lead the party but he’s enthusiastic and a nice, old-fashioned partisan.
– Joe Comuzzi from the Lakehead has great size, good voice and an engaging, outgoing manner.
– Fred Mifflin adds to the stock Newfoundland lore and gift of gab a ranging knowledge of external and military affairs.
– Alberta Guarnieri at first glance is a demure Miss Muffet type, but she’s clearly the class, with Mills, of a rather weak intake from Metro.
– Dianne Marleau has grace and little of the brashness of Judy Erola, a predecessor from the Sudbury basin. She will have a long run as a prominent MP.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, May 19, 1989
ID: 12655432
TAG: 198905190147
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

REACTIONARY … OR REALISTIC?

TEXT:
Brian Mulroney a wimp? Well, he isn’t, and he is.
A few of us were laughing at a recent item of the Ottawa Sun’s “Insider” that the PM would quit politics before facing Jean Chretien in an election. Mulroney, timorous about another Quebecer whose mere name sets him bristling? It’s silly.
Brian Mulroney will flee, but not from Jean Chretien. Rather, it’s from issues where he reads voters with a mind-set. Take Wednesday’s racket hour in the House.
The night before two new PC MPs, both business proprietors, made some common-sense remarks about work equity for women in a House committee on labor and employment.
These remarks by MPs Bill Casey and Doug Fee could be summarized this way:
Some of the larger impediments to equity for women in the labor market – pay, advancement, higher posts – arise from the less competitive nature of women and their readiness to give family responsibilities a higher priority than those of work. Thus they often are unwilling to consider transfers to other places or to assume posts which would put extra demands on their time.
Obvious, reasonable? Yes. Reactionary? No, just realistic.
I take from good second-hand witness that these were not calculated remarks by anti-feminist politicians, out to derrick laws and rules which give women more opportunity.
Of course, the topic is touchy and one-sided. Unless leaders show more more courage, mere followers are indiscreet in being honest on women’s issues.
Reporters went after the two MPs for elaboration. Reporters know such sense is current heresy. What was innocuous became a story about anti-feminism. It made the morning editions and the noonday TV news. Within 18 hours Mulroney, prompted by John Turner, a feisty convert to feminism, repudiated the two MPs. Augustly, in his lower baritone range, he declared that such remarks “would offend against the common standards of members of the House.”
Minutes before the PM saved face, his damage control operators had forced the truth-tellers to their feet on “statements.”
Bill Casey, the Nova Scotian, apologized for offence taken by anyone. He promised more care and awareness. Doug Fee, the Albertan, said that today and forever he’s dedicated to equity for women.
The irony of Mulroney’s reaction – perhaps a cause – lies in courage shown in the previous week by Barbara McDougall as the minister responsible for women’s issues. She refused to enter an annual ordeal for ministers and government MPs.
Barracking and mocking those in office is the climax of an annual conclave of harridans assembled on the Hill under the aegis of NAC – the National Advisory Committee on the Status of Women.
NAC executives claim to speak (largely through member organizations) for as many as eight million women. My estimate is that NAC speaks fully – across the range of its demands – for about 100,000 women, the absolute and complete feminists.
The NDP, our weakest party, is the one nearly symmetrical with NAC – on policy demands. Why? Because a lot of the rank and file in the party, notably many trade unionists, are far from as ready for NAC goals as are the NDP’s leaders.
The NAC executives screamed at McDougall’s affront to women. So did women MPs of the opposition parties. Shirley Carr of the Canadian Labor Congress did her “hate the Tories” frothing. And in what would be inane if taxpayers weren’t to foot the bills, the NACers declared for a cross-Canada pilgrimage on VIA Rail, to rouse the nation against Michael Wilson’s budget and Tory callousness.
Some distant day some government must sever the funding which sustains so many “national” and “volunteer” organizations. Most of them, whether for women or peace or defence or aborigines or sport, run on public money. They put their energies and skills into generating news copy and TV clips which ensure their place at the trough, and many lambaste governments without cease.
Roughly for 15 years all orders of government, mimicking Ottawa, have thrown funds at any organization which purports to advance women’s causes. And so a web of gender bureaucracy has come into being, staffed by professional feminists who claim they speak for the cause of all women.
The “movement” has been bureaucratized with public money while becoming radicalized into one guise (the CLC is another) for the most radical of our parties. The zealots who now control NAC and congregate at its Ottawa gatherings are those with the largest chips on their shoulders. So many of them dislike or distrust males. Their portrayal of our society is rife with women-beaters, sexual harassers, porn lovers, and child molesters. In economic, military and social affairs they see a conspiracy denying women decent roles, pay and advancement. They’ve been successful, sometimes farcically so, as in the costly bootlessness of making women infantry.
Politicians are afraid to act as though the officials and bureaucrats of most women’s organizations, with NAC as leader, are not broadly representative nor well-supported. All three parties seem to believe NACers and such are the leading edge to our collective future. Thus a prime minister jumps to deny common sense and is hurrahed to it by the opposition.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, May 17, 1989
ID: 12655366
TAG: 198905170134
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

SEIZING CONTROL OF THE SENATE

TEXT:
Once again the Liberal-run Senate under Allan MacEachen is making Brian Mulroney’s government seem weak and foolish.
In almost five years in office, the PM has shown neither wit nor purpose with an anachronistic institution controlled by his partisan enemies.
Again and again since 1985 the Liberals in the Senate have either stalled important government bills or carried on long hearings in committees to provide forums for groups and associations antagonistic to government plans. (Often such representations duplicate what House committees have heard already.)
In his latest ploy, MacEachen has tagged an amendment onto a funding bill which chastises the government for wrongful procedures in getting monies it needs to meet its obligations.
Of course, the Senate will back off before there is a constitutional stalemate or too many employees or pensioners have gone without their cheques. But this occurrence, so annoying and belittling to the government, and the four or five more such embarrassments sure to come before the next election, underline the lack of purpose and toughness in this government.
This leads me to a reprise (from a column last month) of some ways Mulroney might solve his Senate riddle.
First we need some facts. Let’s begin with the present Senate standings: Liberal 56; P.C. 36; independents 5; vacancies 7.
Of the vacancies, Ontario and Nova Scotia have two each, New Brunswick, Quebec and Alberta one each.
One must give the Liberals two more votes, putting them at 58. Why? The “independents!” One of them, Ed Lawson, the Teamster boss, is rarely present; two others, including Pierre Trudeau’s friend Michael Pitfield, are sure Grit votes; and two are genuinely independent (Dan Lang and Hartland Molson).
Here let’s add a factor, not a fact. About a third of the senators participate very little in Senate affairs, and a fifth of them are not even assiduous in attendance. It is impossible to imagine any recurring Senate votes with a full turnout or even within 10 votes of it. This is important in the strategy I suggest to the PM. He only needs to be close to the potential Liberal total for his his party to wrest control from MacEachen and his Trudeauites.
Now, throw in two other considerations on Mulroney’s mind.
Firstly, he knows from “an advisory opinion” of the Supreme Court in 1979 that Parliament by itself cannot abolish the Senate. The Senate was created to protect and further provincial interests, and while it has rarely functioned in line with such purposes, the provinces would have to have a say in either abolition or major changes in the tenure and proportions of senators by provinces.
Secondly, Mulroney has seemed to add another limitation to dealing with the Senate. As part of the bonhomie in reaching the Meech Lake accord (which now is a nearly dead duck) an interim proposition emerged. He would take a short list of nominees from premiers of provinces where there was a vacant Senate place and elevate one of them. This has only worked in part. Ontario hasn’t played, neither has New Brunswick. Nova Scotia has, but Mulroney’s still putting off naming his choices from Frank Buchanan’s list – an indicator the deal is not engraved in stone.
So Mulroney breaches little if he forgets “consultation” and fills all seven vacancies with loyalists who commit themselves to both the party whip and to being present every Senate working day until the Grit control is broken.
If the PM adds seven PC senators to 36 current PCs and he would have 43 Tory senators – still 15 short of matching MacEachen’s best possible total.
But the PM could add another eight senators, bringing his total to 51 – only seven short of matching the Liberals.
How’s this, you ask? Through a little-known clause in our Constitution which lets a prime minister have some pressure in handling a difficult Senate. It allows him eight “extras.”
Being seven Tory votes short is not controlling the MacEachen Senate, at least on paper. Or, put another way, if every Grit showed for a vote. But how many would? And if Mulroney’s senators were sparked by a fresh 15, committed to parliamentary warfare, it would be a good bet that Senate recalcitrance would be over for this Parliament. Further, if it were not, then a truly determined effort and the Grit responses would draw enormous public attention to the thwarting of elected representatives by appointees.
Another practical move Mulroney could initiate quickly and legally would be to put forward a package which would allow a senator a nice retirement package without waiting for present retirement age of 75. Some 40 senators are 65 or over, and a majority are Liberals.
Many in Western Canada are taken with the idea of a Senate whose members are elected and have more effective power than the present Senate. This is loony, not least in getting provincial agreements on what is “equal representation.” (Think! Quebec!) But the hullabaloo as Mulroney’s senators fight to end MacEachen’s control would get the whole country talking about the western dreams.
Mulroney could gain another initiative by undertaking now to go to the people in 1992 with a separate constitutional proposal for Senate reform. The Liberals? Who knows? The NDP has been for abolition.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, May 15, 1989
ID: 12655234
TAG: 198905150120
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

IT’S SHOWTIME IN THE HOUSE

TEXT:
Topicality is everything to TV, therefore it is prime hunting ground for the opposition politicians in Ottawa.
This reality was manifest last week in the House. Both packs (media and political) went baying and whooping after the toxic-waste-in-fuels scam. Nice luck for the government. The many vulnerabilities of Mike Wilson’s budget were forsaken.
“Honest” Mike recedes from public awareness, lost in the stridency of the week which demanded the resignations of four different ministers – Shirley Martin, Lucien Bouchard, Otto Jelinek and Elmer MacKay.
Soon it will be the exception within the ministerial ranks whose resignation John or Sheila, Lloyd or Ed has not demanded.
Speaker John Fraser abets the daily flow of so many questions and their long accusatory and derogatory preambles (which dominate the TV clips). He refuses to apply the old rules that: (a) there must be a genuine question; (b) questions, whatever the changes in their phrasing, must not be repeated, either by the original questioner or any others.
In last week’s overkill on toxic waste by Liberals and New Democrats similar questions were the norm.
If showtime in the House is to cover anything like a national range of topical matters of serious concern then Speaker Fraser should either force much abbreviated preambles on the questioners or get the consent of the caucus leaders to extend the actual oral question period to a full hour from 40 minutes.
It’s hard to take politicians back to earlier, more controlled routines. The obvious course for a wider canvass is to add another 20 minutes or more to the performance.
You may ask why Brian Mulroney and company should agree to such lengthened exposure. The answers are also obvious. Each sitting day the ministerial cast assembles but a small proportion get a question on any day. Over a month many ministers – I’d guess a dozen – never have a query. So more time makes more chances for ministers. The range of subjects daily would be widened, surely as challenging to the opposition and media packs as to the prime minister and his mob of 38 ministers.
T. Kue Young is a medical doctor now working in Winnipeg. The U of T Press has published his book, Health Care and Cultural Change, subtitled “The Indian experience in the central subarctic.”
The author begins his preface with the question: “Why would someone who was born and brought up in one of subtropical Asia’s cities devote so much of his professional life to working among, studying, Indians in the Canadian subarctic?”
The answer lies in a blend of deep curiosity, a very rational mind and a strong wish to improve health. One takes this from the account, not from any assertions of the author. What is rare, and to me delightful, is to have a fair appraisal of a group of people in transition in a region with a serious array of difficulties which have parallels across the whole north. And this one-time immigrant does it without either the usual guilt-ducking of non-native Canadians or the usual laying on of guilt by native leaders.
Most of us happen upon news stories, even books, which deal with places and people we know. Often we react with, “That’s not the way it was” or “This isn’t what’s been happening.”
Most of Dr. Kue Young’s decade of work with Indians was from a base in my home town of Sioux Lookout. The patients came from the vast boreal forest region north of Sioux Lookout to Hudson Bay. What he describes and analyzes is so accurate and so sensible that I kept muttering: “That’s it, he’s got it.”
When I was a child of the town in the early ’30s it’s population of 1,800 or so depended largely on railroading, logging, prospecting and being an air base for service to the northerly mines. As I recall, not a single Indian lived in town then. On the long lake chain nearby fewer than five Indian families roamed and tented. In passing, I note the town could not sustain a single lawyer.
The town of my childhood began its transition to what it is today – “the Ojibway capital of Canada” – in 1949 when an Indian hospital was established there by the federal government. Today, almost half the population of some 3,000 is either Indian or Metis. At least five lawyers (non-native) have shingles up, and I’ve been told four of them have retainers with native organizations. The economic well-being of the town is dependent now on the Indian industry, much as Summerside, P.E.I., has counted on a big military base.
Dr. Kue Young immersed himself in the history, geography, and demography of the subarctic region. That is, he doesn’t begin or end with hospitals, patients, and treatments. He’s a sociologist without the jargon. He’s not a pessimist and far from a Pollyanna.
That this bright, immigrant doctor has illuminated my home places is irrelevant to most readers. But more Canadians should look closer at the native scene today. Is there progress? Improvements? Are things better for natives? If so, in what ways? And what are the changes we need, and the priorities? Total federal spending on native affairs this year creeps past $4 billion. From this book you may come to understand the rising costs and the high needs, and promising, though not sweeping, trends.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, May 14, 1989
ID: 12655226
TAG: 198905140094
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: C6
COLUMN: IN OTTAWA

SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THEY’RE AT THE POST…

TEXT:
The Liberal marathon has hardly begun but apocalyptic appraisals are widespread. The bad reviews which Paul Martin Jr. has garnered prompt a sketch of the main contenders around the run-on questions: What’s wrong, what are their flaws?
Let’s consider the weaknesses – apparent or potential – of Martin, Jean Chretien, Lloyd Axworthy, Sheila Copps, Brian Tobin, Don Johnston and David Peterson as party leader and PM.
The popular attributes which seem prime for leadership aspirants are: How they come over on TV; how they perform on their feet; their parliamentary and ministerial experience; their role in the party; and their backing, both in money and disciples.
Paul Martin, 50, has a nice appearance, bags of money, is steeped in party history and is satisfyingly bilingual. But in just six months on the Hill he’s not been adroit or witty, nor has he presented either ideas or a case persuasively in the House. On TV he’s stiff and, frankly, unmemorable. His platitudes and cliches are wan; his too-fierce partisanship mock heroic. Enthusiasm for him seems to be chilling. Reminiscent of Bob Stanfield’s days, a Martin backer stressed to me what a fine prime minister Paul would be. Yeah!
Jean Chretien, 55, has lots of money, is among the best-known and best-liked of all Canadians. He has 24 years of parliamentary and ministerial experience, although – grant it – he never starred in the House as he does on TV clips or on a platform. His flaws are the obverse of his strengths. He cannot sit still. He has to gallop or talk or both. He loves attention. He must entertain. He is a compulsive talker with a ceaseless parade of anecdotes, metaphors and examples.
These are very much common sense or acute diagnoses but the overall effect is of someone short on reflection and dignity, particularly if he’s envisaged as prime minister of Canada. His pragmatism is very lively but some ex-colleagues and journalists (especially Quebec ones) say he’s all topical and a counter-puncher without the coins in ideas of his own to rub together.
He would not do as well against Brian Mulroney in the House as on the hustings. Chretien is about even money to be the Liberal choice and about 3-1 now to be next prime minister. How would he be as PM? Busy? Noisy? All over the place? Lovable? Confusing? Likely, very likely.
Lloyd Axworthy, 49, hasn’t bags of money nor much French but he’s had more real House and ministerial experience than any but Chretien, He’s from the west and he’s been a competent slugger in opposition, a role Chretien fled.
The rap against Axworthy is most hurtful: He’s dull; flat; a bore! A similar curse keeps Herb Gray, another worthy parliamentarian, out of the race. Axworthy has thought more about policies and ideology than any other prospects, and he’s clearly left of centre. Is this flaw or asset? It might be useful if the economy’s down in 1992 or if the NDP has an emotional socialist as leader. (Yes, a draft Stephen Lewis campaign continues.)
Sheila Copps, 36, won’t have lots of funding but her sex and notoriety justify her entry, on top of which she has good French, has been an active, strident MP for five years and is fearless. The drawbacks, however, seem insuperable. Too loud, too young, too ornery and not thoughtful enough, not stable enough. However . . . if she should marshal even half the women delegates she might make a strong run at second place
Brian Tobin at 34 as an MP is a male mirror image of Copps. He’s handsome, fiercely loyal, aggressive and noisy, but hasn’t Copps’ French, and is not from delegate-rich Ontario. He’s just a very promising kid politician.
Don Johnston, 52, is bilingual, has money and experience in the House and cabinet He did moderately well in the ’84 race, considering his small base on Montreal’s west island and his pleasant but unexciting demeanor and speech. He’s staunch against Meech Lake and wants to regain the party credibility in the business and financial communities. Brutally put, he would be a token candidate for a cause, not a runner with a prayer.
David Peterson, 45, is the right age, has a great base as premier of Ontario, and is a proven winner. His French is weak, however, and he’s not the messiah of just two years ago. He’s good on the hustings, competent on TV and has lots of money. His flaws are not so much in himself but his office and where he comes from. If it were otherwise there’d be a powerful “draft Peterson” movement.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, May 10, 1989
ID: 12655071
TAG: 198905100128
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

EVERYTHING’S ON THE RECORD

TEXT:
Two stories keep running within political journalism. One is worry over the Globe and Mail, the other is the annual drama about the private dinner of the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery Association and whether speeches by party leaders should be “off the record.”
Tickets to the dinner, held in late winter since time immemorial, are for bona fide members of the gallery, their guests and former members.
In 1985 Don McGillivray and Allan Fotheringham, columnists for Southam, each broke the gallery rule that what went on at the dinner, particularly the speeches by party leaders, should not be reported. These two writers had been entitled, of course, to tickets for many dinners before the one in 1985.
Although it’s a decade since I observed the dinner, it’s my impression that remarkably little surfaced later in the media on the talk, the spoofs and the antics until the late-Trudeau years.
Let me cite an episode of the ’60s. Just after the speeches the president of our largest corporation collapsed. He brought down on himself in the crash a newspaper columnist. Their combined weight was almost 600 pounds; their total length about 13 feet. Given their state and the wooziness of those around, it was a real engineering feat to derrick and shift them to safe berths. It took many minutes under the command of Buck Crump, then president of the CPR. Nothing of this incident, extravagantly retailed in the trade by word of mouth, got into the papers.
After the McGillivray-Fotheringham disclosures in 1985 the two columnists were censured by the gallery and, in time, McGillivray was refused a ticket because he would not undertake to leave the evening uninterpreted for his readership. His recourse the past four years was to interview some who were at the dinner and craft an account of their evaluations. His main focus was on the PM’s remarks and reaction to him.
As a result of the McGillivray stance and his story this year the controversy has deepened. The gallery executive, in defending their commitment of “off the record” to their top-line guests, is arrayed against a columnist who seems to be a heroic figure to a goodly number of younger reporters. His courage and devotion to the principle that everything ought to be open is widely admired.
In Pierre Trudeau’s time the executive had its troubles with the prime minister for whom attendance and participation was a painful concession to juvenility. Now there’s talk of changing the format, even terminating the show. All three leaders are put out at what’s been revealed by McGillivray and others now aping his act.
Both Brian Mulroney and Ed Broadbent seemed to have spoofed homosexualism in their speeches. Such stuff may mirror real, majority opinion, but it flouts the avant garde wisdom within the media world generally which is so humanistically pro-gay that any criticism of it by politicians has been tacitly outlawed.
The past year has been difficult for homosexuals and their defending host because of controversy over AIDS testing, the schism in the United Church of Canada, and the revelations in Newfoundland of clerical buggery with boys.
That Broadbent should spoof the last situation, off the record, cried for revelation and from it ripples of shock. It is the ultimate proof that politicians who take part must speak and behave themselves as in public.
There is an irony that this year Broadbent is the most aggrieved. Why? One has to note that McGillivray’s vigilance for principle did not emerge until Mulroney became prime minister. The columnist was at lots of dinners before 1985 and did not rush to print with comment on how the leaders did.
Anyone who reads McGillivray know how he detests Mulroney. He seems to see him as total humbug and a menace to what Canada is or ought to be. Normally he’s rather kind to Broadbent.
So the moral probably is that standing resolute for a principle – such as that nothing a politician does is off the record – is based on ethics but triggered by hate.
The case of the Globe and Mail was taken up last week by both columnist Fotheringham and the spring issue of the magazine Content (“For Canadian journalists”). Both Fotheringham in the Sun and Walter Stewart (in Content) interpret the departure of top editors Norman Webster and Geoffrey Stevens, and subsequent departures and appointments as a shifting of the paper to the political right by its publisher Roy Megarry. In particular, they see the sections of the paper outside Report on Business being written and edited more for the sensibilities of those business people who read the ROB.
Appraisals and gossip in journalism about the transitions at the Globe are reminiscent in range and agonizing of the months in 1980 after Southam, FP and Thomson finished the deals which shut down papers in Montreal, Winnipeg and Ottawa.
Those of the left who are crying havoc about the Globe should hesitate. Last week the new foreign editor was announced, Ann Rauhala. In both her story subjects and their bias, and in her public views elsewhere (e.g., at the recent conference on women and politics) Rauhala is a fit with Marion Dewar and Stephen Lewis. Further, columnists June Callwood, Bronwin Drainie, David Suzuki, Michael Valpy and Hugh Winsor remain Globe regulars. Who would set any of them at the political centre, let alone to the right?

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, May 08, 1989
ID: 12655879
TAG: 198905080030
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

SIZING UP THE NDP HOPEFULS

TEXT:
Assessments! It may be two months before the entries in the NDP leadership race are firm, and probably five months for the Liberals. And so, few of the “possibles” one conjures have put themselves out of the races. Perhaps Stephen Lewis is the most notable New Democrat who rejects the idea of succeeding Broadbent.
A Liberal celebrity comparable to Lewis, Ontario Premier David Peterson, has rejected suggestions he might run. And neither Bob Kaplan nor Herb Gray plan to enter although they have been the most useful parliamentarians of their caucus.
Only two New Democrats with any chance at all have declared – Simon De Jong, a Regina MP, and Steven Langdon, a Windsor MP – but the convention is six months off. Everyone senses there’ll be seven or eight candidates with none a strong favorite. The most significant competitive forum for them will be in panel debates and speeches “in seriatim” arranged by the party across Canada for the faithful.
Liberal aspirants may be slow coming because there is both an obvious pace-maker, Jean Chretien, and a No. 2, Paul Martin Jr., with undeclared campaigns underway. Each is capable in both French and English and well-funded. Their affluence means the starting costs are high for all others, say like the purposeful Lloyd Axworthy. Most Liberals remember the debt agonies of previous also-rans like John Roberts, Gene Whelan and John Munro.
If any talent or skill or a blend of the two is more essential than any other for a successful party leader today it is being good on TV – adroit, well-spoken, likable. A few of the possibles are naturals – one thinks of Maude Barlow or Dennis Mills among Liberals, or Gerry Caplan and Dave Barrett among New Democrats. A few, as seen to this stage, are poor TV performers, even abysmal – one thinks of Paul Martin or Bob Rae, the Ontario NDP leader.
The second and third useful attributes are being well-informed in a wide way and having either a proven or a likely mix of stamina and steady temperament. Audrey McLaughlin, the NDP MP from the Yukon who is a likely entrant, seems strong and steady but she is neither widely-schooled on issues nor political history. She is fair and improving on TV.
Today let’s take the NDP possibles, and consider the Grits later.
Simon de Jong, 47, the first MP in, is well-educated, pleasant; his humor is real, and droll. Definitely an ex-flower child, he now radiates sophistication and some of its grace shows on TV. Give him seven of 10 on the screen. He’s has a fair, not a dominant presence in the House, and he hasn’t a caucus reputation as a beaver for work.
Lorne Nystrom, 43, the “boy” MP become a veteran, is a beaver, and an organizational zealot; but his facility as a debater or in capturing TV’s fugitive snippets is just ordinary and not a match for his fine apparance. He does have a modicum of that sparse commodity in the NDP, French. If his colleagues felt he had more potential he’d be in the lead.
Bill Blaikie, 37, the big clergyman MP from Manitoba who handles external affairs, now is the best orator in the caucus and second best debater (behind Barrett). He’s better educated and more widely-read than most MPs and his sense of himself is commanding, but he’s guarded and impersonal on TV and not strong on bonhommie.
Steven Langdon, 42, a certain starter, is very much the earnest and industrious lecturer in economics and political science of the caucus and the House. A drudge with deep content and extended analysis, he falls short as an interesting performer on the platform, for TV, or in the House. He may be humorous, wrily, but it rarely shows.
Dave Barrett, 58, is the most populist, colorful and entertaining of all the party possibles. He’s also six years older than Ed Broadbent, and his track record in B.C., particularly as premier, makes a great target for the other parties. He would likely be the best election campaigner of the works, just as he’s already one of the rare star “turns” in the House.
Ian Waddell, 46, a witty, sociable lawyer from B.C., is a good House man and like De Jong, better on cultural and social issues than economics or administration. In public, especially on TV, he never seems as weighty or serious as he is, but he can be both funny and biting.
Bob Rae, 40, has so much which veteran NDPers cherish: high seriousness, total dedication to the cause, excellent education, gentility, a grinder at all party chores; the right age and experience and a bit of French. But his appeal out in the world of voters is low and he’s a prune on TV.
Bob White, 48, the autoworker chief, is a magnetic leader. He makes an impact on people, though often not a favorable one. He would do well in distinguishing the NDP from the Liberals. He’s excellent on TV and might be in the House. His entry would make certain a keen race.
Gerry Caplan, 51, is the prime, unofficial NDP spokesman for TV and most reporters. He’s literate, witty, a good phrase-maker, and is as well or better informed than any other possible. Like his “alter ego”, Stephen Lewis, he isn’t known as a stayer and his wisdom is Toronto’s.
To the nine men just thumb-nailed, add the aforesaid McLaughlin, aged 52. In the gender-hyped NDP, she opens with the female edge.
Six of the 10 should be in the race. Best bet to win? At this stage it’s stupid to even guess.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, May 07, 1989
ID: 12851322
TAG: 198905070081
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C6
COLUMN: IN OTTAWA

SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

CONVENTIONAL WISDOM FOR GRITS

TEXT:
Before appreciations of possible entries in the contest to succeed John Turner, we should canvass several vital factors that are not yet determined – and won’t be for five weeks or more.
What are these factors, in order of significance?
1) METHOD OF VOTING: Will it be the now traditional way, with riding delegates, party officials, current Liberal MPs, senators, MPPs, MLAs and MNAs entitled to cast ballots?
Or will the party’s executive and council choose the recently bruited and more democratic method pioneered by the Parti Quebecois? Each bona fide member of the Liberal party across the country would have a vote, probably by mail. The winner would have tens of thousands of votes, maybe hundreds of thousands. He or she would not emerge at the climax of a convention drama sprawling across TV screens for days.
The media, particularly the TV wing, detest the newer idea. It has the attraction of creating a huge Liberal membership. In Quebec it would probably be very effective in cutting away Brian Mulroney’s foundations. While the method may be more democratic in engaging more Liberals and in shifting candidates and party focus toward policy issues and away from charismatic estimations, it does seem a most drastic switch for a party with a large remnant so familiar with the convention color and drama of 1968 and 1984.
As a historical note, the Liberals (in 1919) were the first party to adopt an American-style national convention with a delegates’ vote, forsaking the choice by members of the party’s parliamentary caucus.
2) DATE OF THE VOTE: Certainly, the period from the retirement announcement to replacement will be longer than the previous cases in 1919, 1948, 1958, 1968 and 1984. The competitive courses of the first three covered less than six weeks, the last two about four months. The longer the course, the higher the costs and, probably, the more certain the winner, on the assumption that a rash of independent opinion surveys will have great influence.
3) SPENDING CEILINGS: What a prospect for complexity and controversy!
A ceiling is required, cosmetically speaking, yet setting and policing one ensures a riot of speculation and internecine squabble. Already one hears a critical, cynical line in the chat of some caucus MPs about the current frontrunners, Jean Chretien and Paul Martin. Each, it is asserted or speculated, has the resources of billionaire Paul Desmarais and Power Corp. to draw on, the one bound through marriage, the other through a business discipleship.
And, more cynically, it is well known that Desmarais, Sr., and Mulroney are close, so Power Corp. cannot lose. Such stuff is a natural for the left-wing candidate in the race, and a mine of rich contrasts for the New Democrats to use in overall partisan competition. Their race will parallel the Grits’ for at least seven months and will be so much more frugal.
As Mulroney could attest, it’s easy for a party to set a general ceiling but hard to enforce it and impossible to see it through, post-convention. There are other elements on the money and resources side which may cause trouble.
Neither in federal, nor in most provincial legislation which regulates party fund-raising and provides advantages such as tax deductibility, are there provisions to make illegal or even to monitor the collection of funds for leadership campaigns.
Liberals will be doing nothing out of line with what Tory leadership candidates have done or NDP ones will do in milking the constituency cows or in using tax slips, even in freeloading on federal phone lines and parliamentary printing and mailings.
Nevertheless, the Liberals have a large debt of some $4.5 million dollars. Ahead is a long campaign, likely climaxed by a gigantic convention. Spending is already spurred by two well-heeled candidates. There will be meetings, receptions, and hospitality galore. Consider the costs of the travel and the printing. The whole show’s tab will run through $10 million to $12 million, and the Desmarais and Frank Stronach sorts won’t cover even a quarter of that.
Those who must set the ground rules are not fools. They must try to avoid a short-run Liberal future with a much heavier debt load, their funding sources bare, plus a clutch of worried, debt-ridden losing candidates.
It’s a breeze to enter a party’s leadership race. It’s no breeze organizing one or seeing it’s all paid for.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, May 05, 1989
ID: 12655050
TAG: 198905050156
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

JOHN TURNER’S LONG FAREWELL

TEXT:
There will be many chances before John Turner slips away from Ottawa to appraise his career. Today let me put what is now the certainty of his going alongside some opinions about him and his leadership taken from chats earlier this week that cannot be directly attributed.
My first appreciation came in a group conversation over who might seriously challenge Jean Chretien for the Liberal leadership. (The consensus? No one, yet.) But the talk swung to Turner’s post-leadership career and one man said:
“He’s turned his back on his friends and sloughed off what we thought he stood for.”
The man who said this is a genuine tycoon with a household name and large interests across Canada. He’s a few years younger than Turner and knows him well through social and business associations. He views the Turner who led the Liberals after the election debacle of 1984 as a renegade who both led and articulated a leftward shift of the official Opposition which belied the views they had shared before he left Bay Street to return to politics.
Whether this man’s sense of something near betrayal is fair it may explain better than anything else the questions in the minds of those of who knew and respected the talent and work of John Turner as a very able cabinet minister (1963-1975).
What happened to him? How did he lose “it”? Was it rust or had he burned out on Bay Street? Did style and form for politicians change so much between 1975 and 1984?
The simplest explanation may be Turner’s discomfort and awkwardness at reversing from where he had stood. On his very first week back in politics he had to fudge the right-of-centre views the tycoon “friend” was sure they shared – for example, on the imperative of reducing the federal deficit by cutting program spending, on improving economic and governmental relations with the Reagan administration in the U.S.; on letting each province (e.g., Manitoba) handle bilingualism without federal pressure or constitutional challenges.
Turner had never been a Walter Gordon kind of Liberal nationalist. Nor a Pierre Trudeau-like protagonist for peace or Quebec as a province just like any other. And yet he and the caucus took the party into last year’s election with a program almost matching the NDP’s. Although it was obvious the caucus was taking more inspiration in expressed policy ideas from Lloyd Axworthy and Herb Gray than from John Turner or from what he had seemed to be.
Turner’s full conversion by the time the free trade issue grew hot may have been total but he has never seemed natural and easy as a spender and a Gordonite anti-American. As he leaves he’s still standing by the Meech Lake accord (anti-Trudeau) and he’s still for staying with NATO and NORAD. The last posture may have been taken, however, largely to differ from the NDP on a relatively uncontentious question.
Perhaps after Turner is back to Bay Street or a big law firm elsewhere his current views on policy will swing back in line with those of his old heroes and former fellow directors, and he may be forgiven. Meantime, he has the role of leader for at least six more months. He seems to intend to hold his seat. (Remember, he stayed an MP for almost a year after quitting Trudeau’s ministry in 1976.)
Separately, three of Turner’s MPs spoke of him to me last week: One new from Ontario, two Maritimers with several terms in. One is for Chretien as leader, another for Paul Martin, the third as yet hasn’t a candidate. The main points each was making were almost contradictory.
All three thought there wasn’t any urgency to the choosing of a new leader and getting him into the House.
Each agreed that whenever the leader is chosen he or she hasn’t any choice but to seek and get a seat in the House through a byelection. (That is, leadership from outside the house until 1992 is hopeless.)
However, each had many “buts.” Each said the caucus was not getting strong direction in policy, strategy, tactics, or discipline and co-ordination regarding assignments from anyone. Not from Turner, not Herb Gray, not Lloyd Axworthy, not Brian Tobin.
“Nobody’s in charge. In fact, no one seems trying to be.”
As one said: “There’s staff, paper and meetings in abundance but most of it’s busy-busy . . . fierce reactions daily to government initiatives and what’s in the Globe and Mail. Or we anticipate the NDP.”
The new MP said he’s been surprised that although there is a lack of cliques in the caucus this is not offset with someone or a particular group you know is in charge and has a long-range view.
In the caucus and in the House he finds the unexpectedly strong common denominator is partisanship. “Mocking and hating Mulroney is the binder. I’m green and hesitate to say we might be more constructive.”
One of the more experienced MPs was looking ahead.
“When I see our current state I shudder at our chaos to come in the period from the leader’s resignation to the convention to replace him.”
So there’s a measure still to make of John Turner which goes beyond either the platitudes of the moment or the wonder whether he keeps his back turned on his old “friends.”
During the transition will he stick, and do with the caucus what he hasn’t done?

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, May 03, 1989
ID: 12292895
TAG: 198905030134
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

BUDGET COOLS AS HOT NEWS

TEXT:
The budget broke on Wednesday and was fully revealed on Thursday to a House in turmoil. By Friday outcry over breached security and the budget’s cruelty was supplemented by a flood of “estimates” which show just what programs and interests lost or held on or which won more federal money.
The TV networks rushed their best to the capital. There were extra programs. Peter Mansbridge, parked by the hubbub, said the situation and its furor were “extraordinary.” Knowlton Nash, coming on for the weekend, talked of “this stunning week in Ottawa.”
So where were the budget and estimates stories three nights later on national TV news?
Monday night the angst and superlatives of 72 hours before were gone and the budget was far down on the newscasts’ list, six or seven items in, even back of insignificant though catchy evidence about veterinary drugs at the Dubin inquiry.
Does this tell us something about television news or about the budget and spending packages?
Yes, about both. The political story is that Michael Wilson and his prime minister have spread the pain and sorrow widely enough to have gained a good chance – I’d say 4-1 – of getting most of their budget package through the House without major amendments.
While a sound prediction is impossible on what Liberal senators will do beyond stalling and delaying approval of the budget, the government seems past the first big hump. Their bad news is in play. Within three days it plummeted down the national order of interests as gauged by the most popular, influential medium.
And, archetypal TV, its emerging reaction stories tend towards the heart-pullers. Beleaguered communities like Summerside losing people and their incomes. Maritime and western mayors lamenting VIA Rail cuts. TV cannot sustain a complex subject which involves several hundred viewpoints and a huge cast of spokespeople with opinions.
The dailies? The magazines? Where and how have they been coming to focus on a sprawling budget package which pleases very few and agitates many?
The obvious evidence is a cancelling out. The MPs’ reading room on the Hill has all the Canadian papers and a skim through a dozen or so dailies from across the country shows fully that the rather Simple Simon split which Wilson aimed for has been achieved. Overwhelmingly, the business and commercial interests think the government has not been ruthless enough in cutting spending programs: Still too high a deficit; debt interest payments still rocketing upward.
This dissatisfaction over inadequate cuts seems broader and more biting among the business interests – even among the editorialists – than any of their specific complaints at particular tax increases or changes like the government pulling out of unemployment insurance.
Regrets the cuts were not more brutal have not so much muted or contradicted the protests from many single-interest groups as kept them from a confluence of massive, irresistible protest.
Recently Paddy Sherman of the Southam chain made the point to Roy Megarry, publisher of the Globe and Mail that a “national newspaper” could hardly serve regional interests well or articulate a local sense of community needs and aspirations as local dailies could do. Witness to this is in the budget coverage. The prime elements for each daily (except the Globe) are those specifically seen as affecting home interests.
It’s an impression only, but although the regional grievances are in the dailies there is also a vein of understanding and even restraint in the outrage expressed over the cuts and tax increases.
If you believe as I do that the strongest pressures on Ottawa with some specificity usually come from the premiers, especially from Ontario or Quebec or the Maritimers in concert, then you’ve noted that although no premier has given effusive backing to the Wilson budget none except P.E.I.’s Joe Ghiz is shrieking. Why is this so? Surely because the premiers feared worse for their own transfers from the federal purse and from regional program cuts.
One also surmises each premier and his finance minister face unpalatable chores, and Wilson’s helped set their table.
Another break, at least short-run, for Wilson and company came because the opposition parties behaved as they usually do. Firstly, they war-whooped after the leak and disregard for Parliament and ministerial responsibility. Then, when they found the nation was sputtering with much of the budget content, they seized on the perfidy of Mulroney and Wilson – their lies, evasions, the campaign promises broken and evaded.
Such opposition grist is normal. Decrying the dishonesty of the prime minister and his government has been so thoroughly done by opposition critics they have forgotten that they too are seen as twisters and hypocrites.
In the long run Mulroney’s deceit may be their best issue in 1992 if the economy is in fair shape. But in the short run, the budget items bitter enough to exploit to the ferment which forces a government to back away are particularized – like the bolt away from financial contributions to UI or the stall on a nationwide child-care program. Ironically, because this budget is so bad, it is likely to get through.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, May 01, 1989
ID: 12850676
TAG: 198905010099
EDITION: Final
SECTION: News
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

FEDS FAIL TO SET FISCAL EXAMPLE

TEXT:
Post-budget suggestions.
Where may one turn, critically speaking, after the three-day, triple-whammy from Ottawa?
First, there was the breached budget security; then the budget with its tax bites and program cuts; then the spending details across the federal board in the 1989-1990 estimates.
The leak was an ironic deflater of swollen politicians. As for the content in the budget, it mocks the advance hype and Wilson’s prime focus on deficit and debt. His figures show next year’s higher than this year’s, and the debt is to rocket from $320 billion to over $400 billion in three years.
The spending details spoof all the palaver about deficit and debt by the Mulroney government. They show it cannot demonstrate even the notion of national frugality, let alone its imperative. The signal failure of Brian Mulroney and Michael Wilson is not to lead by example.
Note this well. It is banal and obvious but it is an important negation of leadership. These leaders, this government, this Parliament, give no compelling leadership in frugality, show no willingness to restrain themselves. Let me use two petty examples.
1. At the time last Thursday morning a special cabinet meeting was beginning, I counted 31 limousines, each with a chauffeur, waiting, most with engines running, around the west front of the Hill centre block.
2. Most TV newscasts dipping into Ottawa items open with shots of Mulroney and/or Turner or Broadbent or Mazankowski or some other ministers, striding through the cbamber’s doors, or coming down the stairs. In every case the politician is “sided” or led by a well-dressed, good-looking young woman. Why? Peacock vanity? Photogenic associations? A flash of style and currency? Even gender representation?
Of course, such a copy-catted show has a cost to the taxpayer, aside from being inane. Gosh, Mike Pearson as PM would lurch in and out of the House by himself, carrying his own papers. Now each major politician needs a $35,000-a-year female escort. Their example is catching. More and more backbench MPs now have an aide or secretary who walk them to the chamber for question period and convoy them back. A plain MP 25 years ago had one employee on the Hill; now most have three or four. As a new Grit MP told me last week: “I’m overwhelmed at the perks, the goodies, the equipment. Boy, we’re state of the art.”
Examples are legion of federal spending that make for niceness, comfort, and affluent display. But taxes or borrowings pay for every item from pretty girls to “free” mailings. Meanwhile, Wilson and company insist Canada is on course to a national economic crisis through deficits and rising interest costs. Yet, in themselves, the signal is of extravagance as usual. Not even a model salary cap for MPs and their staffs.
Show me one good example of frugal leadership on Parliament Hill. MPs haven’t cut back to necessities. They might slash their many perks or cut their own “person years” for this mandate. To convince a cynical citizenry of genuine seriousness about deficits and debt, those in charge – PM, ministers, opposition leaders, MPs – must be exemplars. They remain exemplars – of self-indulgent, conspicious consumption.
The bloat in the budget package itself has been cited as a good target for down-sizing and de-emphasis by Mitchell Sharp, an ex-minister of finance. In his days as minister (1965-68) the budget package was a six or seven page mimeograph. With it came a one-page mimeograph of “budget highlights.” Later, a minister tabled in the House the “ways and means” motions which made the budget provisions formal law when passed by Parliament. A very neutral “state of the economy” paper was tabled and later printed in Hansard.
In Sharp’s time, the minister, a deputy and a few other aides would come into a budget day “lockup” of reporters, and give personal explanations of the content. Budget night was a House, not a television, happening. It was not a gigantic production and there were not nearly so many interest groups now so proprietoral and adversarial about the budget.
Sharp wonders why such pounds of budget booklets and pamphlets are now needed. The most expansion in budget writing and printing came late in the Trudeau years under Alan MacEachen, notably in propagandizing the National Energy Program. In 1984 advance “lockups” outside Ottawa in Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Vancouver began. Ever more hype, more extravagance.
Mitchell Sharp has an argument similar to one by Ken Dye, the auditor general, about his massive annual. Split it up!
Split up budget measures. Spread them through the year.
Dye regrets that his very diverse package gets instant over-kill in media and political attention, then fades, leaving the ingrained stereotype of wasteful governments and incompetent officials. Dye believes that if he could put out each audit as it is done rather than holding and piling the lot in an annual blockbuster both the capacity of political scrutiny and remedial actions would be enhanced. Sharp argues most of the intents in a budget could be revealed as they are ready. Put them to public debate and later consideration by Parliament.
Canadians are often acute in ferreting for flaws in the American system but they rarely cite the open discussions of federal and state budgets well before they take effect.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, April 30, 1989
ID: 12850528
TAG: 198904300087
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C6
COLUMN: In Ottawa

SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

BUDGET BLUNDERERS

TEXT:
It will likely take a week before the MPs on Parliament Hill fully shift partisan priorities from budget security and the opposition’s insistence that Michael Wilson must resign to exploiting or defending the cornucopia of dudgeon and protest which should overflow from the many tax changes and program cuts in the budget.
Today let’s review the public lines taken by the opposition politicians, both in the House and as we saw or heard them through TV. In my appraisal of the period, from Global TV’s revelations to Wilson’s speech to a half-empty chamber, neither John Turner nor Ed Broadbent, separately or in concert, had reasonable hopes of forcing either Wilson’s resignation or the collapse of this budget and a presentation later of a new one.
It didn’t figure the cabinet could let Wilson be sacrificed to: a) a principle which has grown increasingly vague and literally impossible – that is, of absolute ministerial responsibility for all actions under a minister’s overall aegis; b) put on further hold for more months a complex national economy and any reasonable certainty for the business and commercial web of the country.
The prelude to this budget’s preparation has been long and in its early stages there was much public consultation. To repeat this, or to go through a charade for some weeks before bringing back a largely unchanged set of measures was silly.
Why did the opposition leaders jettison common sense for an absolute attack on the minister and an absolute rejection of this budget as the budget since it was almost certain to peter away in frustration?
Since both are lame ducks, neither opposition leader had much to lose by such instant intransigence and their rebuff of a sensible request for co-operation. But a stronger explanation is simply the inherent mind-set in parliamentary politics in recent years which totally rejects anything in content offered by the government. Part of this mind-set is a constant stance that the prime minister, his cabinet and caucus are capable of nothing good or decent.
(This total partisanship of blacks and whites is ingrained in all the parliamentary caucuses, not just the Liberals and New Democrats.)
Once the opposition chose to be adamant one expected some arguments of force, intelligence and subtlety from the two leaders.
On their feet in the House or in scrums outside, Turner was jerky and unconvincing. Broadbent was more persuasive in tone and in argument but his grew more rabid as the hours passed and his exposure grew. Neither was well-backed by colleagues, particularly in the procedural arguments. Figuratively, the government coasted through the noise.
Someone crafted a speech for Turner which began nobly about the Magna Carta and the barons and fumbled through an insistence that 700 years of tradition and precedent was being violated. Yet Turner kept repeating that this security breach was unprecedented. He couldn’t distinguish a principal argument for listeners. Most of us know that in the parliamentary system (as distinct from the congressional one) it is the ministers of the Crown who present tax proposals and program proposals for the legislatures to examine and either approve or amend or reject.
It simply is not for Parliament to say what the Crown may present. A budget does not belong to the whole House in any proprietorial sense; it is the government’s.
It’s a fundamental in parliamentary tradition and practice that the government ultimately must control the agenda of the House so long as it is backed by a majority of MPs. Of course, the House through debate and votes decides what tax changes become law.
Implicit in Turner’s arguments was the odd idea that the opposition could judge and reject or approve what a ministry wished to present, in this case because the security breach had forfeited Wilson’s right to be a minister.
What might have justified the obdurance of Turner and Broadbent on Wednesday and Thursday? Politically speaking, only if the people and the host of national interest groups and commentators agreed that Wilson must go and his budget was dead.
They were wrong. The country wanted the budget, bad or harsh as it may be. The opposition’s best grist was the content of the budget. Now, as initial losers, they’re late in getting to them.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, April 28, 1989
ID: 12292834
TAG: 198904280156
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

HIGH DRAMA ON THE HILL

TEXT:
To reminisce may give some proportion to the uproar over Mike Wilson’s budget.
John Turner and Ed Broadbent, the opposition leaders, seem to have misjudged the worth of their case that Wilson must resign and there is no budget. They haven’t appreciated that the role of Parliament and the conception of ministerial responsibility have both been fundamentally altered by the modern evolution of communications, in particular by instant, pervasive television.
It’s ironic the opposition leaders have missed what TV has done to Parliament as a privileged institution. Why? Because most of their day-to-day strategies are schemed to take advantage of the videotaping of the daily question period; that is why their so-called questions have pejorative prefaces.
These prefaces with their invective are the readily used grist for the news clips we see so often belittling ministers and the government. In short, politics is televised, taped and clipped theatre. Television gives both currency and credibility to politics and the responses in awareness of the general public. In a more particular way it is the main stage on which parliamentarians fix as partisans and as individual MPs.
Consider this: The breach of security was made through television; the response, the only sensible response, to the breach was made through television.
The televising of House proceedings and the intensive, daily coverage of federal politics through a plethora of newscasts has made anachronistic a lot of parliamentary traditions and beliefs, including the absolute priority of the House to information for which the ministry is responsible. The House before 1950 was mainly a forum for speech whose record went through stenography into a printed form, at hand the next day.
One sees what advancing technology, including television, has wrought most readily in the recent spread of organized, deadly, international terrorism, with its blackmails and awful tragedies. A minor example of such brutalization of what was long routine is the rising prevalence of disclosures of inside information.
Once such material was privy and fairly safe within bureaucracies, public and private. Today, no corporation, no government or government agency, can be sure from day to day of the provenance of its records and plans. The danger and likelihood of disclosure have also risen with the growing dominance of computer-stored and linked communications.
All of us, or at least the several million clued by the news that something big was up, were watching television Wednesday evening from 7 p.m. forward, and we were witness, as we switched from CBC to CTV to Global to our local stations, of a drama which was moving, which had to move, to a resolution. TV hooked us up to the political actors, the commentators and placed us within the unfolding scenario.
Wilson and the cabinet had to do something, and very quickly. The nation and the world, waited. It seems to me they acted with dispatch. When Turner and Broadbent rejected an immediate budget address to a House recalled for the evening, the only choice was to put the budget before the public. Note, of course, that the budget would have come to most of the public the next night, and for a few days, mostly through television.
Once the budget papers were out in the hands of MPs and media people, the drama running before us on television went figuratively to split-screen.
On the one screen came detail, interpretation, and reaction to what is in the budget. And, on the whole, external reactions were not enthusiastic about the contents.
On the other screen ran the negatives of the opposition, rife with words about the priority of parliamentary traditions and privileges. There was no budget, they said. Wilson was now a non-minister, a non-person. Solemn vouchsafes of undying resistance were made.
Predictability, the ministerial responses exploited Turner and Broadbent. They reiterated Wilson’s eminent integrity. They stressed the absolute imperative of getting the budget out before markets opened Thursday. They contrasted the narrow meanness and lack of national responsibility to the state of the economy shown by the opposition with Robert Stanfield’s positive reply to a prime minister’s plea to not deepen a parliamentary crisis (in 1968) because it was endangering the Canadian dollar and economy.
Yesterday two reporters asked me, as an old-timer: “Was there ever anything like the excitement and drama on the Hill to match that of last night and today?”
My answer was yes. At least three in my time! First, the aforesaid dollar crisis that Stanfield settled down by taking Pearson off the hook of his defeat in the House; second, the crucial days and nights of the October Crisis in 1970; third, the week-long tragic farce triggered by the process and content of Walter Gordon’s budget in 1963.
One central difference between those Hill uproars and this one really comes from the progress (?) and speed of television.
The House was not televised in 1963, 1968, or 1970. More important, since then the capability of networks and reporters to link and switch, record and present, from a variety of places and people is much greater – and all “live” or almost.
So as the House debated “privilege” yesterday, the night before television had already taken the people beyond it to the budget, and readying to live with it.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, April 26, 1989
ID: 12292793
TAG: 198904260136
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THE BRINGERS OF BAD NEWS

TEXT:
To fiddle the TV commercial’s line, if you have it use it, here is a pre-budget retrospective on ministers of finance. It comes from my observations of 12 of these No. 2 politicians, from Donald Fleming to Michael Wilson. Note that there have been 12 general elections since Fleming’s first budget in 1957.
As a rough guide in terms of dollars, the 1957 budget was for some $5 billion in federal spending; the GNP was $32 billion, the gross federal debt $11 billion.
In 1989 – 32 years later – the budget will see federal spending at some $130 billion, the GNP about $600 billion, and the federal debt at $300 billion.
First let’s list the ministers, with their time of office and a single phrase on each as minister of finance.
Donald Fleming (PC) 1957-62: Superbly righteous and dour.
George Nowlan (PC) 1962-63: Never got in a budget.
Walter Gordon (L) 1963-65: A dud to most, a hero to some.
Mitchell Sharp (L) 1965-68: A pietistic mark-timer.
Edgar Benson (L) 1968-72: Durable, vague store-minder.
John Turner (L) 1972-75: Oozed confidence as Bay Street’s man.
Don Macdonald (L) 1975-77: Awkward, heavy and interim.
Jean Chretien (L) 1977-79: Began yapping; faded away.
John Crosbie (PC) 1979-80: His bluff was called.
Allan MacEachen (L) 1980-82: A low key, Gordon-like
disaster.
Marc Lalonde (L) 1982-84: Able, tough, and justly feared.
Michael Wilson (PC) 1984-89: A classier Benson – so far!
These men have been suzerains of our national economy, at least figuratively, over 32 years, 12 elections and six prime ministers. Aside from Nowlan who was hung up in a minority Parliament, then bounced by an election, each of the dozen had at least one budget. In fact, all others but John Crosbie had at least two.
It’s clear Wilson is to join Benson and Turner as more durable than most minister, with at least five budgets.
It isn’t hard to pick those ministers of finance who initiated a genuine fiasco with a budget presentation – Gordon in ’63, MacEachen in ’81, and Wilson in ’85. Wilson made an astonishing recovery in public acceptance since backing off from de-indexing pensions in 1985.
In terms of a general trust by the public, it seems to me the broadest confidence was given Fleming and Sharp, probably from images, so symbolic of the old Protestant ethic – responsible, accountable, and frugal.
The most admired of the dozen in the business and corporate community was certainly Turner; the most genuflected to, Lalonde. The aura, the afterglow after Turner left, carried through nine years out of electoral politics, back to the prime ministership, then to defeat and failure as leader of the Opposition. Turner illustrates that a most respected No. 2 doesn’t necessarily translate well to No. 1.
In terms of status in Parliament, the most unobtrusive minister – the one who had surprisingly little trouble, although he presided over a foray toward, around and through tax reform
– was Benson.
In terms of disrespect in the House, Chretien got the most although one grants that he exposed himself the most – there, and in speeches and interviews outside it.
In taking a thorough briefing Chretien seems to have been the weakest finance minister, Lalonde the strongest, with Sharp and Turner close behind. One must add, however, that of the dozen, Gordon with his budgets, but particularly with the first one, was more the author and thinker of his product than were any of the others.
Any overview through the 32 years, 35 budgets, and 12 ministers of finance should set out the main themes which have recurred or persisted for all them.
The prime theme over all has been concern over unemployment; not far behind is inflation, and on, balance, it has been stronger than unemployment the past decade.
Then come the policy answers to inflation – high interest rates or wage and/or price control regimes. Remember that twice – in Benson’s last year and Macdonald’s first – we had sponsorship of incomes and price restraint programs.
While there are always words in each budget about taxation, not every budget has had a tax measure in it. The four ministers most linked to tax reform proposals have been Gordon, Benson, MacEachen and Wilson. Three of them hardly broke through; Wilson may . . . yet.
Finally, the top theme of this year’s budget – concern over deficit/debt – is not a fresh one. Lalonde addressed it because the business community was still aghast at the bump in deficits above $20 billion in MacEachen’s last hurrah. Benson fretted about deficits in his last year and Turner as his successor was much complimented on getting back – once – to a surplus. By their very nature both Sharp and Fleming had to talk a lot about their concern for deficits and debt. They seem super-sensitive in light of recent deficits and the national debt.
Wilson has been placing himself rather ably to be the most controversial, perhaps the boldest, of all these ministers except for Walter Gordon.
The historical record says his chances of sustaining his gambit are only fair.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, April 24, 1989
ID: 12655864
TAG: 198904240107
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

ED BROADBENT’S SHATTERED DREAM

TEXT:
Two items. Last year’s biography by Judy Steed, Ed Broadbent: The Pursuit of Power (Viking) is out as a Penguin paperback with an added chapter, “Shattered Dreams,” that appraises the ’88 election campaign as an NDP disaster.
The book was more a well-done journalistic profile of Broadbent with currency rather than a formal biography. It breathed nice spirits around a sagacious chief whom many opinion polls had shown to be the most liked of the party leaders. The post-election addition explains – or tries to explain – why the hopes crashed and the Liberals under John Turner got to the polls and back to Parliament with so many votes and seats which had seemed Broadbent’s due. The most flagrant injustice was the busting of Broadbent’s certainty of a Quebec breakthrough.
In ferreting for the failure Steed has talked to Broadbent’s “team,” the likes of Bill Knight, George Nakitsas, and Robin Sears. They do a neat job of explaining what went wrong.
What did go wrong? Whose fault was it?
Well, it was more a group happening, plus a lot of bad luck, such as one top aide’s dad dying or the papers not unveiling scandal stuff they had on a Tory MP in Montreal. The business interests threw millions, personnel and propaganda on Mulroney’s side. The big-time media, cued by Toronto’s dailies, reduced it all to a two-party fight. They wouldn’t present Ed and his NDP as possible winners. Broadbent and staff explain away an ill-conceived, brittle campaign strategy.
These excuses have angered the remnant in the party and caucus who believe Broadbent was an inadequate campaigner and remarkably ill-advised by over-protective sycophants. Even before the campaign rolled I heard complaints from a few NDP MPs there was far too much faith and organizational resources being focussed on Broadbent as a great leader and on Quebec as about to open arms to the party. There was also wonder, after Turner in mid-summer guaranteed Senate blockage of the trade agreement, why Broadbent was letting the late-coming Liberals appropriate the issue that had been NDP’s.
These few internal critics are grateful to Bob White, the union leader, for breaking the solidarity at the party’s top and leaking the critical letter which really forced Broadbent to quit. Although they fret that not all of Broadbent’s henchmen are gone or going, they take solace that willy-nilly the leadership campaign must concentrate on policy debate because no aspirant will have an obvious edge and no one will dare work up the theme of charismatic leadership. The next four years will be grim for the federal party and caucus but at least they won’t be deceiving themselves that they are marching to glory behind a luminous leader.
It seems to me Steed leaves the post-election Broadbent as more a man dealt poorly by the fates than the author and manager of his own reduction from the best leader in politics to a near footnote. For he’s a splendid politician who departs in grace.
My reprise with the book in paperback produces the general banality that few tasks in Canada are more onerous and unrewarding than leading a third-ranking federal party and a more particular banality that not a single prospect like Tommy Douglas or David Lewis or even Ed Broadbent is at hand and ready.
The best omen for the NDP’s leadership campaign and its aftermath in parliamentary politics is that policy discussion will largely override personalities. Those plans or ideas with which the winner carries the convention will then be more to the fore – at least for a few years – than hard-sell promotion of the leader; and remember such hard-sell dominated the presentation of the NDP electorally and in the House from the start of the 1980 campaign until last November.

Many Tory ministers and MPs think they have good reason to be exasperated with the campaign of the “aborigines” against so-called capping or cuts of spending by the Indian Affairs department on students after post-secondary education.
The demands against the capping or cuts was focussed by the so-called hunger strikers from Thunder Bay, who moved their protest to Ottawa and the Hill. Orchestrated with this were sit-ins in Indian Affairs’ offices across Canada and the insistent assertions of aboriginal leaders such as George Erasmus of the so-called First Nations that full support – tuition, books, and full living costs – are an entitlement of everyone of aboriginal stock in Canada. Some used the phrase a “treaty right” but this would make it fairly narrow since just over 300,000 aborigines have treaty rights.
Last week Erasmus gave a figure of a “million” aborigines. The native birth-rate almost doubles that of other Canadians. Thus the growing bite such a blood “right” would make on federal funds. Two years ago Bill McKnight, then the native minister, told me he was more frightened by the rising educational costs than the bills for land claims or better housing on reserves. That’s why the capping came along.
My own reaction to last week’s demonstrators was not all negative. There was pleasing evidence that we have scores of healthy and well-dressed young Indians with both the time and the money for days on the picket lines and in office towers far from their treasured reserves doing a quite intelligent “number” on the Parliament of Canada.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, April 23, 1989
ID: 11807204
TAG: 198904230084
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C6
COLUMN: In Ottawa

SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

A REAL PARTY TROOPER

TEXT:
In party politics there are hundreds who create and sustain leaders, campaigns and caucuses but who get little credit. Today I recall one.
Last week Jim Walker died at 77. He was a Liberal MP from 1962-74 for the Toronto riding of York Centre. Jim was as kind, generous and pleasant as any MP I’ve known.
The boom-boom elections of ’62 and ’63 brought into the House, and notably to Mike Pearson’s caucus, an infusion of extraordinarily ambition MPs. This was not lucky for Jim Walker.
Do I exaggerate? Jim was friendly and unpretentious. An insurance agent, he was shy and neither a disciple nor henchman to those who had led the party’s resurgence from the ’58 election disaster – men such as Walter Gordon, Mitchell Sharp, Paul Hellyer and Keith Davey.
Those names recall a galaxy of eager Liberals pushing into those mid-’60s caucuses: John Turner, Jean Chretien, Bryce Mackasey, John Munro, Donald Macdonald, Joe Greene, Judy LaMarsh, Pauline Jewett, Larry Pennell, Maurice Sauve, Gerald Regan, Bud Drury, Gene Whelan, Guy Favreau, Maurice Lamontagne, etc.
When Pearson unveiled his first cabinet in ’63 a U of T professor, Jack Tennyson McLeod, thought it the finest ministerial array since Confederation. Not surprisingly, little Jim Walker was not in it. Instead, he got a donkey’s job as deputy whip – i.e., junior truant officer and a caucus cheerleader.
I saw, first as an MP, then as a columnist, how thorough and able Jim Walker was as deputy whip and spirit-booster. He was a positive man and an easing presence in what were very strident Houses. In short order Jim was in the handful of those MPs best-liked by MPs of all parties and an active cog in a caucus seething with strivers and gossip. Paradoxically – and Jim earned some credit for it – the caucus was more loyal to its leader (Pearson) than any other in my memory.
Personal conceit and the lure of Parliament put me briefly back in the cockpit of politics in 1968. When Pierre Trudeau called an election right after succeeding Pearson, I got the NDP nomination in York Centre, held by Jim Walker. Despite our well-organized campaign we were lucky to keep our deposit as Trudeau’s spell rolled over Toronto. In defeat, it wasn’t hard for me to congratulate Jim. We had had a friendly campaign in the riding.
The Sunday after the election I went to a stone quiet Parliament Hill to do some work. One first floor office I passed had an open door. I was was curious. Who’d be in at this time?
There at a desk behind a typewriter was Jim Walker. He was glad to see me. What was he doing? He was writing to Trudeau. Why?
“I think I’d be very useful as his parliamentary secretary. I know the caucus well and how the House works,” said Jim.
This made sense. Jim asked if I would read what he’d written. “You know him better than I do. Will this get to him?”
His draft was 1 1/2 pages long. It oozed praise and worship for the most wonderful leader Canada has had. It ended obsequiously with the job bid. I handed it back.
Would it do? I was negative. Trudeau detested flattery and oil. I thought it a waste-basket letter.
Jim noted my opinion. Then he asked if I’d sit down and sketch a winning letter. I did. As I remember, the letter was one paragraph of about five sentences. Jim thought it abrupt, but after some musing he decided to use it.
A few weeks later Jim called. He was now the PM’s parliamentary secretary. He was ecstatic, and grateful to me. I made a request. In a year or so I would seek his opinions. Did he still see Trudeau as the great leader and a great human being? He was baffled by such doubting but, yes, he’d tell me.
Jim Walker had some 18 unhappy months as Trudeau’s House aide. His successor was a more archetypal Toronto Grit, Barney Danson. But before this Jim had told me he now knew why I’d made my request. Trudeau was not the great leader, and certainly not the great human being he had thought.
But he had no lament for himself. Always the unrepentant Liberal, he consoled himself: The party was larger than its leader. He kept loyally at his riding, House, and caucus chores until the ’74 election. Then he passed on his safe seat to Bob Kaplan (who still holds it).
For a few subsequent years Jim Walker had an unrequited yearning for place in the Senate. These went, however, to others, few of whom were more devout Liberals.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, April 21, 1989
ID: 12290979
TAG: 198904210158
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

TORY POWER FOR THE SENATE

TEXT:
The prime minister is still seriously hobbled in his freedom of action because the agenda and the voting results in a part of Parliament are set by his Liberal Opposition – i.e., by Liberal senators led by Allan MacEachen.
Could Brian Mulroney do anything with dispatch to change this? To answer the question some facts are necessary.
The Senate has places for 104 senators.
At present 99 of the places are filled by 58 Liberals, 35 Progressive Conservatives, one “independent” PC and five plain independents. There are five vacancies.
Senators are picked by the PM. Senators appointed since 1965 come under an age ceiling and must retire at age 75. (Only four senators survive who predate the 1965 rule.)
A senator takes in some $70,000 a year in pay and expenses. The pro rata yearly cost of a senator, taken from the total annual spending on the Senate, is some $270,000.
In the partisan realities, if the government which now has the backing of the House is to be sure of controlling the Senate’s agenda and its votes, it needs to have 53 senators (out of 104) who vote PC. So Mulroney must appoint at least 19 more Tory loyalists before his government has charge and the Liberals lose control of what the Senate does from day to day.
The Constitution, since its inception in the 1860s, has had a little-known clause which permits a prime minister to appoint eight extra senators. Of course, this raises the total to 112 and makes a majority 57.
By appointing eight new Tories Mulroney would have 43 senate votes. If he also filled the vacancies with five partisans there would be 48 PC senators, still 10 short of matching the Liberals. Of course, he cannot count on any of the five independent senators to vote with them. Therefore, even adding eight special appointees and filling all the vacancies still leaves Mulroney short.
My estimate is that in practical terms the PM needs 53 PC votes to control a full senate. That is, he needs five to six more Tory senators than are at hand.
How might Brian Mulroney might pick up a further half-dozen Tory senators in the next year?
One must accept that the Senate and its powers are set out in the Constitution. To make major changes to it, or to abolish it (as many advocate), requires constitutional amendments. These are hard to get, particularly if the changes affect provincial rights. Mulroney hasn’t a hope of getting the major constitutional change which abolishes or much alters the role of the Senate.
If you suspect this view, check a Supreme Court “advisory opinion” issued in 1979. The federal cabinet had asked it to consider two questions as to the authority of the Canadian Parliament to: 1) abolish the Senate by deleting all references to it; 2) enact a law altering or replacing the Senate so as to change its name, numbers, tenure, proportions, qualifications, tenure and the method of choosing senators.
The court gave a full argument supporting the negative conclusion that Parliament, in itself, cannot abolish the Senate.
On the other questions about name, qualifications, appointment, etc., the court responded either negatively or said “we do not have a factual context in which to formulate a satisfactory answer.”
Anyone scanning this opinion sees that any significant change to the Senate needs prior agreement of the provinces because the Senate was created to protect and further their interests in a federal system.
To reiterate, Brian Mulroney has remarkably little constitutional latitude in reforming the Senate so as to attain control of it in this parliamentary mandate. He can appoint eight extra senators, but he could also do something else which would be constitutional and would probably free enough places to end the Grits’ partisan grip.
The means is through what we have come to know as “the golden handshake.” This was a phrase much heard in Ottawa in the mid-’70s when the Pierre Trudeau-Michael Pitfield team decided to open up many slots in the the upper mandarinate by offering extraordinary bonuses, splendid pension arrangements and retirement at 55 to very senior officials. (It worked; see Simon Reisman or Jim Grandy.)
By my count, among those senators under the retirement rule of 75 there are 42 who are either in their 65th year or older.
Fourteen are 70 or over. It is not certain but very likely that a short-term offer – an appealing “early retirement” package for senators at or above the normal retirement age of 65, much like the one which lured out the top bureaucrats – would induce many of the 42 to resign. Their replacements would give Mulroney the control he needs so much. Such an offer doesn’t require any constitutional change.
Although he’s 67 it’s unlikely the wily MacEachen would be among the retirees, but the party loyalty of many other Grit senators is hardly so strong. There would be a national hub-bub, of course, at creating eight extra senators and setting up the alluring retirement offer. But, for Mulroney, is such uproar for a few months worse than being stonewalled in the Senate through the next four years on budget measures and items like a reformed unemployment insurance system?
By an election called for the fall of 1992 only 12 present senators will have reached the mandatory retirement age – 7 Grits, 5 Tories. For Mulroney, waiting is a mug’s game.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, April 19, 1989
ID: 12290943
TAG: 198904190141
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

TORIES BRACE FOR HARD TIMES

TEXT:
With our politicians, seeing not talking – is believing.
So we shall wait to see if Brian Mulroney and his ministry are truly serious about: a) tackling the deficit and the debt; (b) taking charge of the parliamentary agenda in this mandate.
Separately, two cabinet ministers and one parliamentary secretary have assured me the next week’s budget will be the toughest in postwar times.
“For some months it will put us down to, even below, 20 points in the Gallup,” said one minister.
The other minister was as emphatic, and he stressed the executive now had no choice but to use its powers to schedule and set time limits on stages of debate, otherwise neither the budget nor any other major bills will go through without the ignominy which comes to a government bogged in Parliament.
An ominous portent of parliamentary trouble floated from the Senate caucus of the Liberals last week. The Grits under Allan MacEachen are already at work on strategy and content for a paralysis of legislation, beginning with a determined blockade of the reforms to the unemployment insurance system. These reforms were unveiled in part last week by Barbara McDougall; the funding details come in the budget.
MacEachen & Co. slowed drug patent bills and blocked child care and free trade bills last Parliament. Last time the government was less than resolute. This time? Is it serious?

When Perrin Beatty moved from defence to the health ministry he seemed an unlikely proponent of multiculturalism. Multiculturalism is, arguably, the most pervasive tri-partite force in current federal politics. In March Beatty spoke to a conference in Toronto organized by the Canadian Council for Multicultural Health (!).
After announcing yet more federal money ($40,000) for his hosts, Beatty extolled our recently acquired asset of multi-ethnicity. Examples: “ . . . cultural diversity is an invaluable resource in shaping the future of our nation,” and “ . . . our cultural diversity is our national strength.”
The young minister presented unassailable proof that the multicultural industry is vibrant: “The range and depth of ethnicity in Canada can also be seen in the proliferation of multicultural organizations. In a country with only 29 urban centres, there are at least 43 multicultural councils, centres or societies, most of which . . . act as umbrella organizations for many other ethnocultural communities.”
Don’t doubt Beatty’s statistics. By my count more than 40 organizations have the magic word “multicultural” in their letterheads. (In Quebec, it’s “multi-ethnique.”) Why magic? Because it’s the “Open sesame!” to the federal vaults.
The multicultural largesse of a debt-haunted government ranges from $1,800 (Melville, Sask., Multicultural Council) to a whopping $415,000 (Ottawa-based Canadian Ethnocultural Council). The average giveaway is $65,000 and the sum of such multicultural generosity was over $3 million in 1987-88.
In the same speech Beatty praised Toronto as “one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world . . . (consisting) of more than 100 different ethnic groups and whose ethnic population is larger than the entire population of Vancouver.”
This theme was also elaborated recently by Michael Valpy, our “national” newspaper’s “Metro” columnist. But Valpy’s less sanguine about the wonders of our ethnicities than Beatty. He notes that in the federal riding of Trinity-Spadina less than 15% of its 95,000 people are of British or French descent, that barely half speak English at home and more than half were born outside Canada.
The 1986 census data on this riding should dissipate some of Valpy’s pessimism. It’s true that only 13.8 % of people who declared a “single” ethnic origin claimed British (11.7%) or French (2.1%) ethnicity. It’s true 52.7% of those in Trinity-Spadina are immigrants. But pan-Canadianism is not lost. Look at the really keynote data, language.
A big majority – 87.6% – in the riding speak one or both official languages, and 58.2% use English at home. Equally remarkable, 78.6% are Canadian citizens.
These figures show a force more powerful than ethnic and language diversity is at work in downtown Toronto. The Canadian milieu is attractive. Might one even say, it melts away differences, almost in spite of claims by ethnic spokespersons and spineless politicians?

Two shocking comparisons were made in a recent issue of the Toronto Star’s TV weekly by a reviewer of Voices of Survival, a documentary on the survivors of the Nazi Holocaust, narrated by Stephen Lewis: First, Canada’s refusal to take in Jewish refugees during the Nazi years is compared with “our present dilemma about accepting refugees from the Third World;” Second, “The systematic persecution of Jews in Germany had some parallels with Canada’s discrimination against and internment of Japanese Canadians at the same time.” These are shocking and most unfair comparisons because they grossly understate the nature and the extent of Nazi crimes against humanity and put all Canadian citizens during the years from 1932 to 1945, including the thousands who were killed or wounded in the war against Hitler, into the same bag as the Nazis.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, April 17, 1989
ID: 12290903
TAG: 198904170103
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

NORTH DRAWS CABINET BLANK

TEXT:
Did you know the federal cabinet has had a minister from Northern Ontario since 1925, with the exception of: (a) John Diefenbaker’s government who had no MPs from there; (b) Joe Clark’s brief tenure and he too had no such MPs; and (c) Brian Mulroney’s post-1988 election cabinet; he has but one of the 11 MPs from the region.
Geographically, this is a huge sweep of Canada, almost four-fifths of Ontario’s area. It runs north from the French River and Lake Nipissing to James and Hudson Bay and sweeps west along Superior’s north shore past the Lakehead, Dryden and Kenora to Manitoba. Redistribution has divided it into 11 federal constituencies.
While there are common economic bases for the huge region in mining, tourism, transportation, pulp, paper and lumbering, its half dozen sub-regions each have their centres like Kenora or Kapuskasing or Thunder Bay whose people do not know what goes on in the Sault or North Bay or Timmins and Sudbury.
Only about 750,000 people are dotted across this wealth of square miles, and politically from their hubs they look more towards Queen’s Park than Ottawa, and more to Ottawa than to the other cities and towns of the region.
Such data may explain why my contacts talk of a sense of loss, of being “left off the team” in not having a federal minister as regional spokesman, in particular because their enthusiasm already is jaded for the Peterson government.
They are recalling when they recently had two ministers (Bob Andras and J.J. Blais) in the cabinet. Old-timers get nostalgic about 22 years with C.D. Howe, “the minister of everything” as their minister. And their Chambers of Commerce remind them that person for person, their region generates more of Ontario’s economic wealth than any other.
If this shocks you think of Hemlo or Inco or umpteen paper mills. As a Lakeheader said to me: “We make it, Toronto and Ottawa haul it away, and then they inflate us into hard times.”
What’s curious in current parliamentary politics is this: None of the ten opposition MPs from Northern Ontario – six Grits, four NDPers – has been raising persistent hellry over the lack of a minister, or more particularly, about the grievous drain in jobs and saw mill closures as a consequence of the softwood deal with the U.S. and the rise in both our interest rates and our dollar vis-a-vis the American dollar.
There’s also a serious shrinkage underway in exploration and development in mining. And there’s the revelation that although the PM has named a minister of state for Forestry (Frank Oberle), there is little chance of a federal department of Forestry for several years. (This was a Mulroney promise in 1984.)
Results in the last two elections have turned most of the hinterland (and natural resource) parts of Canada outside Quebec to representation by Liberal and NDP MPs. This reality puts an onus on such opposition MPs, split as they are between the Liberal party and the NDP.
They must cohere somewhat and put clamorous pressure for attention and specific policies to help their regions and work forces. On the government’s side, it seems Brian Mulroney has decided that Northern Ontario for all its size represents too few seats to bother with.

What’s that old line: It takes a thief to catch a thief?
Anyway, it came to mind in reading Michael Pitfield’s diatribe (given at a “Study of Parliament” seminar) against the swarming into lobby jobs and consultant firms by retired federal mandarins.
Yes, it’s been burgeoning. It’s become lucrative for the retirees. The very multiplying of such roles indicates a shift in pressures by corporations, industries, and professional associations from ministers (i.e., elected politicians) to senior bureaucrats still in place who were once colleagues of the intervenors, often either their superiors and their promoters. As Pitfield seems to have said; “Access is being peddled for a fee.”
But examine from whom this valuable warning comes.
Pitfield himself was an uninque bureaucrat, vaulting into Ottawa’s higher places through the patronage of those like Pierre Trudeau who were impressed with his brilliant academic career and, one is sure, by his lofty social and monied status as a polymath child of a well-elevated Montreal family.
When Pitfield retired at 45 from Trudeau’s PMO, his friend put him into our longest-abiding base of lobbyists, the Canadian senate. Thus this wealthy man could anticipate 30 years with a senator’s modest pay and perquisites. Of course, Pitfield’s mind and ambitions are too grand for just the Red Chamber.
Like another “independent” senate appointment of Trudeau, Teamster leader, Ed Lawson, Pitfield needed more and in 1984 joined Power Corp. and is both a director and vice-chairman of the conglommerate assembled by Paul Desmarais.
And it’s the Desmarais bond which satirizes Pitfield’s whistle-blowing on the likes of Simon Reisman, Jim Grandy and Ramsay Withers. Everyone clued to partisan politics knows Desmarais is close to Brian Mulroney (a PM) and he’s the business godfather of Paul Martin, Jr. (who bids for the PMO) and tied by marriage, friendship, and previous support to one Jean Chretien.
Talk about “access”, past, present and future. Desmarais-Pitfield had it and have it.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, April 16, 1989
ID: 11805373
TAG: 198904160055
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C3
COLUMN: IN OTTAWA
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

UI’S FAR FROM PERFECT, BUT…

TEXT:
Here are some opinions on current politics.
You hesitate to say it about anything so rousingly condemned by the opposition as the government’s proposed changes to the unemployment insurance system . . . but the changes are more cosmetic than basic.
The criticism should be of the government’s failure to carve away a genuine insurance system out of what has been (and now becomes even more) a hodge-podge of insurance claims, social policy benefits, income supplementation, job training and regional aid.
One must keep in proportion, however, one’s criticism that the government has failed to clean up the “insurance” system by clearly allocating most of its present patches to where they should be – in training, helping the poor and the weaker economic regions.
The ramshackle system of today dispenses about $11 billion a year, two-thirds of it taxed from employers and employees. Roughly, this is what is spent annually on defence and in sustaining 100,000 service personnel and supporting civil servants.
UI money goes to several million Canadians and its spending is crucial to living needs and communities’ survival, for example, in much of the Atlantic provinces. Whatever UI’s shortcomings and inconsistencies the sum of what it does is most significant, and necessary in the main.
Last year was not a good year for the cause of bilingualism in Canada, official or informal. Nevertheless, it’s hard to imagine a more unengaging spokesman for the subject and its issues than the incumbent commissioner for official languages, D’Iberville Fortier, who made his annual report last week.
Fortier has some three years left in his term. It would be wicked to say he’s given cause for removal. His integrity and sense of duty cannot be questioned but in the sense that his field requires him to be surveyor, exhorter, and ombudsman he is a negative force without appeal to either language grouping.
In short, the PM should consider promoting him out of the way. Fortier was an ambassador to two small countries. There are bigger ones.
Let’s mix apples and oranges. If we have to have a federal environmental review panel and public hearings before a licence is awarded for a province to build a dam (as with the Rafferty Dam in Saskatchewan) why not a panel and hearings before sending Canadian service personnel to Namibia to keep the peace there?
Foolish suggestion? Reactionary? Please consider the tens of millions we have spent keeping such personnel in Cyprus since 1964 – and they’re still there.
Praise the sensibility of Willard Estey, late of the Supreme Court of Canada, and now appraising all the data on the Arrow plane crash in Newfoundland. Estey is going to report on what the thousands of pages of evidence acquired over several years indicate as to the cause of the crash. Right!
Let’s not hear any more publicly from boneheads on the aviation safety board.
Pierre Cadieux is right to refuse to talk with the native people who are protesting the ceiling which his department, Indian affairs, has put on spending for post-secondary education of Indians and Inuit until they give up their hunger strike. If he caves we will never have a month without hunger strikers demanding something of the government.
Cadieux is also right in insisting there is no entitlement for everyone of aboriginal stock in Canada to any degree or qualification sought which must be fully paid for by the taxpayers. No official says it openly but the reason for the “cap” put on funding is not merely an extraordinary escalation in the costs of covering tuition and living costs of Indian young people at colleges and universities, but mounting evidence that a lot of the students are just coasting.
One estimate indicates that nine years of deferral sustenance at college works out to four years of full study.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, April 14, 1989
ID: 12290416
TAG: 198904140141
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

NATURAL TALENTS

TEXT:
The House of Commons during throne speech days is an uncertain augury of the new Parliament’s quality and style. However, some impressions are coming through, most noticeably from the fresh talent.
In sports’ vocabulary “a natural” is an instinctive athlete, one who just does it, with grace and without tension. Take this from a parliamentary scout, the House has at least two new naturals, both women: Ethel Blondin, a Liberal MP from the Western Arctic, an ex-teacher and a Slavey Indian; and Deborah Grey, the newest MP, also a teacher, from Beaver River, Alta., and the first Reform party candidate to make the House.
Neither woman was heralded as outstanding. Preliminary wisdom of the Grit caucus touted such new MPs as David Walker and John Harvard from Winnipeg, Mary Clancy from Halifax, Paul Martin, Jr. from Montreal and Dennis Mills from Toronto. Tips from the NDP extolled the capacity and bright futures of Chris Axworthy, a Saskatoon professor, Dawn Black who is replacing Pauline Jewett for New Westminster, and Ross Harvey, the first ever NDP MP in Alberta.
Those so touted may well become parliamentary stars but so far on their feet none has been a natural like Blondin and Grey. The academics – Walker and Axworthy – are stilted and stuffy. Harvard is unlucky in being a Rat Pack sort when rat-packing is out of fashion. Clancy radiates partisan indignation of the traditional kind. Martin and Mills both exude confidence more than content or persuasiveness, although Mills has glints of Irish humor. Neither man yet has a flair as speaker or questioner. Both should be able to afford better speechwriters.
NDPer Harvey has humor and a big presence like veteran colleagues Jim Fulton and Bill Blaikie, but he rushes his phrases and mistimes his wit. He seems to speak more for his party’s entertainment than to the government or the country.
Black seems nice, like someone who has wandered in and stayed for amateur hour.
At this stage in opposition fortunes there is great interest in people outside, to wit: Jean Chretien and Stephen Lewis.
One new MP’s big speech as been much scanned in Hansard. It came from Tory Denis Pronovost, from the riding of Saint-Maurice. Yes, Chretien’s old bailiwick.
Recall how his rivals flaunted Brian Mulroney’s role in folding up iron ore operations and a town built to serve them. Pronovost makes a like case in brutal partisan terms – Chretien as derelict in serving his riding and its people.
For example, the St. Maurice river is much polluted, most recently by a PCB spill from a mill of Consolidated Bathurst. Chretien never raised the issue of the dirty river. “ . . . this was quite understandable,” said Pronovost, “as we realized last year when he rose to Consolidated Bathurst’s board of directors. This is how Consolidated Bathurst thanked Jean Chretien for 25 years of silence, 25 years during which they polluted the Saint-Maurice river.”
Said Pronovost, “ . . . over the 20 years that the Liberal party was in power and Jean Chretien was our MP, we lost 12,000 manufacturing jobs . . . we saw the population of the towns in my riding drop dramatically. When Mr. Chretien was minister of finance in this House, the unemployment rate in my riding was 22%. It was a tragedy . . . the riding lost a third of its population over the past 30 years . . . ”
Chretien “was more interested by issues other than his constituents’ future.”
Pronovost concluded: “Few and far between are the ridings in this country which lived through such a depression, yet now this same individual has begun to speak . . . throughout the country – behind the back of the leader of the Opposition – intent on keeping Canadians heavily indebted and arguing that deficits are not important . . . If Liberal members in this House do not see to it that Jean Chretien remains in the private sector, we . . . will do it for them in the next election.”
One senses this week from Liberal MPs that Chretien, while odds-on favorite, is only marginally on their minds. Concern is more on shaping an effective caucus, and this isn’t coming easy. Turner isn’t yet “hands on.” His over-bombast and lack of pointedness in question period discourages the MPs. He seems to be blowing their readiness to run with him as leader for much of this Parliament.
As for the NDP, several members tell me they wish they could soldier along under Ed Broadbent. They are sincere. A veteran without ambitions thinks it droll, when it isn’t embarrassing, that none of his caucus mates has either the personal confidence or support from enough colleagues to declare for the leadership contest.
The longer they wait the more talk there will be in and out of the caucus about Stephen Lewis and his pros (especially super oratory) and his cons (notably his dilettantism). My source thinks every week without a frontrunner means the more New Democrats consider drafting Lewis.
All a witness to House performance to this stage can say is that none of the new NDP MPs seems a leadership likelihood, soon, or later, with the possible exception of the new MP from Victoria, John Brewin, son of the late Andrew Brewin, an outstanding CCF and NDP member.
A footnote impression: Mary Collins revels in limelight; Bill McKnight does not. Watch and enjoy their ministerial acts in national defence.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, April 12, 1989
ID: 12287015
TAG: 198904120134
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THE NATIONAL’S PETER THE GREAT

TEXT:
During the strike at the CBC by members of CUPE a substitute reader took Peter Mansbridge’s place on The National. The replacement, Don Goodwin, seems to have pleased. Some appreciation was expressed by the Toronto Star, and this drew an unusual letter to the paper (last Saturday) from Elly Alboim, “Bureau Chief, Parliament Hill CBC TV News.”
Alboim objects because the Star’s comments “decry the cult of personality in television journalism and imply the CBC’s chief correspondent, Peter Mansbridge, is less authoritative and credible than Goodwin.”
The CBC’s bureau chief says the Star “persists in misunderstanding the role of a television news anchor and specifically misunderstands what Mansbridge brings to CBC television news.”
Then he canvasses Mansbridge’s experience in journalism since coming out of Manitoba’s fringes into radio 20 years ago. There was a decade of reporting for The National. Mansbridge scored scoops with “stories of significance throughout his career.” He “has a web of sources and contacts all over the country, and has brought determined reporting, analysis and context to some of the most important stories in this country over the past two decades.”
In the scores of programs where Alboim worked with Mansbridge, “he has never made a mistake and brings considerable wit and editorial skill to the handling of what are for us, programs fraught with tension and difficulty; we have to make instant decisions on questions of ultimate significance to the Canadian people. And it is the anchor of those programs who is most vulnerable.”
This extraordinary eulogy states that Mansbridge’s “skills” shape individual stories and concludes that without Mansbridge the CBC news is “substantially impoverished.”
Co-incidental with Alboim’s letter there is a review of “The media in the ’88 election” by Alan Frizell, a Carleton professor, in the latest issue of the magazine, The New Federation. Frizell is scathing about The National for its newscast of Oct. 19, 1988. I recall that newscast for the stress which Mansbridge put on the truth and accuracy of the night’s big story – that in mid-campaign the Liberal party’s officials were discussing the possibility of replacing John Turner.
Frizell says of this story, and so of Mansbridge, et al, that “Though they named the principals involved, none confirmed or denied the allegation after the broadcast. Introductory reporting classes in journalism schools tend to fail students for this kind of sharp practice. Moreover, the story indicated that four Liberal strategists had written a letter to Turner that outlined campaign problems while a blurred document was shown on the screen. This, it turned out, was not the actual document and the CBC defence was that this was merely `representational.’ Fabrication might be a more realistic term. It was one of the low points in campaign reporting, not because the story was inaccurate, though it may have been, but because, in an election, one expects the basic journalistic rules to be observed.”
In my small circles Mansbridge is taken well as the CBC’s newsreader. He gives no more offence and is as likable as Knowlton Nash or Lloyd Robertson or Stanley Burke or Larry Henderson were. He has a nice voice, a pleasant face; his delivery is smooth, his stumbles or misreadings rare. His interviews are amiable and neat. When he anchors for conventions or visitations of the mighty he is proper and well-briefed. In short, Mansbridge is in the tradition of good newsreaders for a network which has had a series of them since the early ’50s.
And so one wonders why Elly Alboim chose to be so extravagant. Now he’s begun a game we’ll all join – catching Mansbridge’s goofs. As a human, he makes them. Some of his opinions on issues and politicians when he goes from newsreader to interlocutor are misjudgments – in my opinion. Also, the Turner mis-story is fresh in mind and Mansbridge wrapped his status and stature around a presentation which was unfair and a story that was silly.
Mansbridge is good. He’s competent. He should be with the public for a long time whereas Don Goodwin, duty done, disappears.
Perhaps Alboim is trying to tell both the top guns in the CBC and Canadians generally that we enjoy a journalistic polymath five nights a week – sagacious, accurate, and perennially informed. Certainly Mansbridge’s poise and smoothness at such a national focal point may make some marvel that two decades ago he was just a baggage handler in Churchill. Yet such transmogrifying to grand stature in the wide world is not rare among youth of the Manitoba boondocks.
Consider Maurice Strong or William Teron or Esmond Butler or Bernard Ostry, respectively from Oak Lake, Gardenton, Wawanesa and Flin Flon. All are on the Order of Canada list. Strong, a multimillionaire, environmentalist, and philanthropist, has 29 honorary degrees; Butler, a royal adviser, a guide to governors general, is our national authority on protocol; Teron, an ethnic Canadian, is one of our wealthiest builders and a far-seeing planner; and Ostry, also an ethnic, has been a cultural luminary for a long generation and now is an engaging fund-raiser on and for public television.
One need not go further back to Jack Pickersgill or even to Arthur Meighen to appreciate the eminence of Mansbridge is not a surprise in terms of Manitoba beyond Winnipeg.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, April 10, 1989
ID: 12286971
TAG: 198904100099
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

PM WRONG ON KEY ISSUE

TEXT:
Wrong on rights. How right is Brian Mulroney in saying that because the constitution has a “notwithstanding clause” it is “not worth the paper it’s printed on?”
He’s not right at all. He’s wrong. The finest part in the bad reforms to our constitution which were carried out when Pierre Trudeau was prime minister (though he was far from fully responsible for the result) is the one which enables any provincial government or the federal government itself to legislate that “notwithstanding” any decision issued by the Supreme Court, the particular effects of such a decision or any particular law may be legally bypassed through the legislative passage of a bill that says so.
Yes, Premier Bourassa aggravated millions of Canadians (including me) by using the clause to bypass the court’s decision on English outdoor signage.
But the issue is a perfect illustration of a defence our politics has had from the British traditions of parliament, one that ensures those we elect and we can later reject have the last word on a matter in their jurisdiction and not some appointed jurists whom we cannot toss out.
Further, on the PM’s point that “notwithstanding” stands as an inherent threat to the rights proclaimed by “the Charter”, I believe he is wrong. Canada is now into litigious excesses as individuals and groups pursue individual or collective rights.
Everyone with a grievance and, in many cases, with funds from the public trough, may demand recognition and redress from our courts.
Surely you have noticed that our news pages and newscasts for the past few years, have paraded a welter of wails and plaints over wrongs. One could easily conclude Canada has been one of the rigorously oppressive nations on earth.
We seem rife with rapes and wife-beating, sexual abuse of children, rampant discrimination for jobs and at work against women, natives, the disabled, the mentally-handicapped, and, of course, all the non-whites of Canada. Women cannot get a fair deal at work or with pay. Homosexuals live in fear.
This week the official, federal defender of the underdogs and monitor of all rights, Commissioner Max Yalden, reported Canadian overdogs are many, racist and discriminatory.
Ministers Barbara McDougall and Gerry Weiner have spoken out much as has mandarin Yalden. The government, they say, is concerned at the difficulties in attaining worthwhile policy goals with refugeee, immigrants, and ethnics.
But neither they, nor Yalden nor Brian Mulroney address what is surely the core question. Can enough of us ever be good enough human beings for long enough to fix in place and then settle into unobtrusive routine such a grandiloquent regime of rights? It won’t be easy.
You must be noticing that some recalcitrants still puff cigarettes in public places. And some men and boys still leer at girls and women.
Ballooning aloft in the winds of our liberalism, the politicians of all parties are riding in the basket of the constitution and its Charter. They have a common lingo of certainty in their rather American devotion to rights and freedoms.
This worship seems to require a faith in the perfectabality of Canadians and Canadian society. In time we all shall love or respect each other, once directed by judges and policed from our biases by commissions, investigators and ombudsmen.
The marvellous irony in all this (at least to me) is that it is the Quebecois, the group in our long history which has most drawn the attentive concern of our politicians and our parties, who are screwing up the perfectability industry. They may believe in their own collective perfectability but they don’t believe in ours. That is, they don’t trust us Anglos, or the ethnics. They don’t trust any provincial government except their own.
Despite, first Trudeau, now Mulroney, they don’t trust the federal government and the Parliament of Canada.
If there is any wager I will make, and feel sure it will stand well into the 21st Century, it is that the Quebecois will not give up the “notwithstanding clause” unless they attain something close to full separation; and if that ensues, who cares about the clause.
As they say, colloquially, we are in for a very long constitutional haul. In another ten years or so there will be a crystallization of a broad Canadian opinion that parliamentary supremacy is preferable to judicial supremacy and one hopes some gratitude will flow to the Quebecers for saving us from the justices, the rights’ mongers, and the regulators.

Two union groups have complained they should not be fitted within my scorn for the very negative response of “organized labor” to the many recommendations of the advisory council on adjustment to the free trade agreement.
My column made it seem the spokeswomen for the Canadian Labor Congress spoke for union labor in Canada. Both the Canadian Federation of Labor, headed by Jim McCambly who took part in the advisory council’s work, and the National Union of Provincial Employees, headed by John Fryer, have written me they are “more positive” in their reactions to the report than the CLC. Good! Later we shall canvass why so.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, April 09, 1989
ID: 11803626
TAG: 198904090081
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C3
COLUMN: IN OTTAWA
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THE SENATOR WAS INDISCREET

TEXT:
One rarely divines a sense of shame among our senators at their roles and achievements but a few have been much embarrassed about one colleague with them for 18 years, the 10th senatorial choice of Pierre Trudeau – Edward M. Lawson of Vancouver, appointed as “a voice for organized labor” in Parliament.
There is a long and undistinguished public record of behavior that doesn’t fit a dutiful Senate, particularly in days of talk of a “triple-E” Senate.
A retired Liberal senator, John Godfrey, made no bones in 1986 of his contempt for Lawson as a senator. That year inquiries about Lawson’s attendance showed he took full salary and expenses in the financial year 1984-85 ($72,460 worth) although he had missed 60 of the 74 days the Senate sat in that period.
Then, and until recently, he also drew over $200,000 a year as head of the Teamsters in Canada. He gets the Senate stipends until 2004 AD.
A search of Senate attendance, pay, and expense records once disclosed Lawson had missed 977 of 1,219 sittings over 12 years.
Despite some outrage on the Hill, no group in the Senate – Liberal, Tory, or ad hoc – would move formally to curb spending on Lawson. Why not? Because it would expose other senators. He may be the classic, bad example but 20 to 30 others rarely stay from taking the pay and perquisites despite very occasional attendance.
Why touch now on such a random figure in Senate doings? Lawson, as an affront to our democratic process, is old stuff. Why not let him play out his further 15 years on such a sweet dole?
After all, he has lost status and even his jet from the Teamsters. Why not leave him alone?
Because others are not and they have a point.
Firstly, a week ago the Toronto Star editorialized on “Where is Canada in the Teamsters probe?” prompted by news that Lawson has been dropped from a massive anti-corruption suit in the U.S. because he decided to co-operate with the law there.
As the Star noted, alleged irregularities in Lawson’s own local in Vancouver are being reviewed by American, not Canadian, officials. Although B.C. is the one province where the bond between organized labor and the NDP is strongest, no NDP MP is demanding the Mulroney government investigate the Lawson case.
Secondly, last week the CBC’s Fifth Estate gave us a satirical cameo of Lawson, his career and future, in a context of criticism of him within the union here and in view of sensational evidence in the U.S. of a long interlock of organized crime with the top Teamsters’ leadership.
That sardonic grimacer, Eric Malling, was leering in disbelief as he suggested to Lawson that as one of the Teamsters’ barony he might have known of this pattern of relations between union and crime. And Lawson was at his brazen best. He had missed any such chicanery. He merely served as best he could the working men and women in his locals.
Thirdly, led by the New York Times, U.S. dailies have been running long stories based on documents of the FBI which show the late Jackie Presser, a longtime colleague of Lawson in the Teamsters’ highest echelons was a veteran FBI informant.
The revelations disclose the often cosy relationships between the La Cosa Nostra – or the Mafia – and several presidential administrations and union services such as laundering money. The Presser files have reports on murders, car bombings, payroll padding, shakedowns and nepotism within or for the Teamsters.
Either Sen. Lawson’s hearing and eyesight have been defective in all those years of association with Presser and company or he was too stupid to be aware of such Teamster shenanigans.
Whatever . . . there are almost glints of Miami Vice or L.A. Law in staid Canada to have had through the grace of Trudeau a man with such fascinating associations, even if he was unaware of them. But we must not puff too much of it in Ottawa because the senator is not with us on the Hill very often.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, April 07, 1989
ID: 12286946
TAG: 198904070127
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

PARLIAMENTARY IMPRESSIONS

TEXT:
This week the 34th Parliament began its routine. It should remain interesting for months, despite its mannered processes. There are lots of new people and two new leaders to come.
The Parliament will last until the spring or fall of 1992. Its joint proceedings will fill up to 12,000 pages of Hansard, most of which will not be read by more than a few score people. The millions get Parliament from TV clips, from the daily question periods, the several budgets to come, from committee meetings in profusion, and from all the associated leaks, alarums and confusion.
Routine jades; edges fade. Before they do here are some disconnected first impressions.
The two opposition caucuses are now a good match for each other in talents. Each has at least a score of very able MPs. Most of the Liberal ones are brand new. Most of the New Democrats are returnees. Questions pop up about such abilities: Will this group of young, ambitious pushers be satisfied with a retread like Jean Chretien? Who is the the natural leader, the best choice, among the eight or so possible MPs to whom the other Grit MPs might turn?
About two years ago the prime minister began to slip away from House performances – in response to questions, in making substantial speeches, even in occasional or random attendance beyond the opening hour of the day. The pattern continues. It may deepen. In the first three question periods Brian Mulroney beamed or sat passively as minister after minister rose, automatically it seemed, to answer questions put to him. He’s become as little garrulous as Pierre Trudeau in his House years.
The best speeches of the first few days were by:
(1) Bill Blaikie, the NDP foreign policy critic, in reply to Joe Clark’s hymn to NATO (40th anniversary) expressed succinctly and without cliches a critique of NATO that was neither an anti-American rant nor a denigration of our armed services.
(2) Allan MacEachen, the Liberal leader in the Senate, opened the throne speech debate there with a crafty, fascinating review of the Mulroney government’s ambiguities in relation to Quebec and its hesitancy and contradictions in foreign policy.
(3) John Turner was surprisingly easy to listen to and persuasive in the throne debate as he walked through plain explanations of the policies his party has as alternatives to the government’s. (I say “surprisingly” because he’d been rantingly hyperbolic in the question periods, playing back to his campaign invective against the free trade agreement.)
(4) Jim Fulton of the New Democrats asked for, got, and then led off with conviction, content and flair the emergency debate on the Alaska oil spill, a late-night debate of remarkably high quality which largely matched New Democrats against Tories with the Liberals rather out of it in both numbers and quality, although Ethel Blondin, their Indian MP from the Western Arctic, was engaging and persuasive.
(5) Dave Barrett of the NDP made the most telling, partisan send-up of the government ministers in the debate and drew back on himself the best in quality rebuttal from Tories Kim Campbell and Benno Friesen.
The nature of the oral question period seems set to replicate the uproar and the now stylized exaggerations in critical judgments and ministerial stonewalling which became the House standards under the woefully weak speakership of John Bosley and which Speaker John Fraser ameliorates in small degree by good-natured fudging and immense patience. However, the major shift in question period is clearly toward more questions by the Liberals (due to their doubled numbers). This may not be the blow to the NDP it seems if the Liberals keep giving questioning slots to yahoos like John Harvard, Sheila Copps and Roger Simmons – three very uninhibited nasties.
Both Tory Bouchards have been much attacked and guyed already but neither seems an easy mark, Benny (transport) barrelling along in bravado and prose style like Jean Chretien, Lucien (environment) showing remarkable poise in both English and French and a delicious capacity, much like Barbara McDougall’s, for ignoring the meanness of the words coming his way.
The NDP leader’s offering to the throne debate was vintage Ed Broadbent, the stuff for true believers in its cumulation of stances and phrases from his 14 years as NDP leader – against the United States, against Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher and their Canadian mimic and clone, for the ordinary Canadians and their gentle, kind, more communal society which has been created here and is sliding away, pushed by Mulroney and his “neo-conservatism.”
The big speech of Brian Mulroney was adequate but not riveting until it got to its apogee about Quebec, language rights, and Meech Lake. It led staidly through the good condition of the economy and its remarkable growth in jobs – obvious witness to the worth of a government which trusts individual initiative and the private sector, engages in deregulation and privatization, and is about to reinforce further the course of “fiscal prudence.” Even Liberal optimism was recounted at opportunities of the free trade agreement and there were trite high tones about environmental awareness and leadership.
A fine start? Well . . . some good, some fair speeches. Despite their rodomontade it’s nice they’re back.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, April 05, 1989
ID: 12286915
TAG: 198904050135
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

SCREECH FROM THE THRONE

TEXT:
Yes, politicians rarely overvalue truth. And Monday’s speech from the throne was hardly truthful.
One grants this has been so with most such speeches, recalling a parade of precedents in verbal sprawl and circumlocutions, and in the heavy usage of “challenges” and “priorities.” They were dutifully spoken by Vincent Massey, Georges Vanier, Roland Michener, Jules Leger, Edward Schreyer and the current reader, Jeanne Sauve.
Yes, the lavish self-praise and the parade of woolly intentions are forgotten a day or two after, as is the instant rote of damnation spewed on them by the opposition leaders. It is mostly serious make-believe on both sides; and the media, in particular television, play the game.
So what’s wrong with it – firing the guns, dressing up, red carpets, Black Rod, blah words and all such stuff?
The answers can be put in a set of questions. What’s right with it? What good does all the sham do? Doesn’t such archness, hyperbole, evasion and bluff belittle an already belittled institution and the politicians we’ve elected?
The reigning elements in throne speeches are as archaic as a non-elected Senate with great powers, even if it doesn’t dare use them most of the time. (Like nuclear-powered submarines, Senate reform was not included in Monday’s screed.)
The poorest features in throne speeches are their fudgings of truth, of real intention, and of real priorities. To illustrate, we are going to examine closely the four “fundamental objectives of the government.” Let’s begin with the more obtuse of the quartet, objectives 3 and 4.
“Third, to maintain a caring, compassionate society which will be able, through continuing economic prosperity, to meet its obligations and responsibilities to those who are less fortunate and in greatest need; and
“Fourth, to foster a confident sense of Canada’s cultural and national uniqueness in which Canadians may have a greater sense of their common values and common citizenship.”
Obvious! Banal! Platitudinous! Trite! Almost meaningless!
Each of those adjectives fits the objectives, in particular, the fourth one. Some interpreters have read the fourth as the sky-hook for the later undertaking to set up another board or agency of experts, research and advisement, financed by the federal government, to deal in perpetuity with another multicultural gambit, the one which emphasizes how racist Canadians have been, are, and must not be. If so, why not say so, bluntly? Canadians never seem to tire of more federally sponsored boards and agencies at arm’s length (of course!) from departments, mandarins, Parliament, and elected politicians. “Objective 4” does not state a “fundamental,” it merely blathers.
Some interpreters have seen the third objective as particularly clever. They think it signals: (a) the government’s faith in the market economy is stronger than ever; (b) without a burgeoning private sector the government cannot entertain growth in benefits to the unfortunate; (c) whatever ensues in the economy the unfortunate will not get less from this government; (d) and the fortunate may well get less in what are now universal benefits.
Yes, one could “intuit” such from the paragraph but why should journalists or anyone else have to bother? To a fair degree we have “a caring, compassionate society;” most of us know we have had some years of “continuing economic prosperity;” and even more of us would want “the less fortunate and in greatest need” to be sustained at least as well as now.
The government’s first two “fundamental objectives” are as trite as the third and fourth but they are even more obvious and so perhaps justify repetition . . . perhaps.
The first objective is a strong economy, able to compete around the world. The second is to preserve the environment.
Show me a government ever, here or elsewhere, without the first aim. And the western world has been in “the age of environmentalism” for two decades – since the best-sellers of Rachel Carson, Paul Ehrlich and Barry Commoner.
Now the throne prose on the “strong economy” includes the rider that such strength much be something that lets all Canadians share in “its challenges, risks and rewards.”
Is there something scrutable in that? Perhaps, that the big dollars for Hibernia and the Lloydminster heavy oil project are a balancing of fair shares? A signal central Canada is not to get it all? Who knows? And when you don’t know you ask why the author bothered to be so banal and mysterious.
The “strong economy” aim has a purpose, of course, in setting up the later and not very explicit discursion on debt and deficit which most interpreters see as the big nudge within the speech – that a tough budget is coming.
Oh, how we must shudder and speculate for more days about tax increases and program cuts. This after three months of such signals and leaks from a government bearing a solid, recent mandate.
One wants to scream: Get on with it! Use your damned mandate or shut up. Five and a half years of spooking like Margaret Thatcher is too much.
As for the environmental pieties in the speech, recall that the voters on P.E.I. turfed out the braggart who mere months ago was proclaiming Canada as environmentally in the legislative and research forefront of the world. It took little genius to know this was nonsense.
Please, Mr. Prime Minister, cease conning us.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, April 02, 1989
ID: 11802684
TAG: 198904020106
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C5
COLUMN: BACKGROUNDER
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

POLITICS…OUR NATIONAL OBSESSION//TV’S RULES GOVERN THE GAME OF PARLIAMENT

TEXT:
Like them or not, you must have missed the politicians through the long parliamentary recess which ends tomorrow.
We have been without our daily fix on Mulroney, Turner and Broadbent, on the Tobins and Robinsons, for more than a quarter. The question period of the House and the subsequent scrums have been for years now the stuff of normal television news – its agenda, scenes, actors and critics, and somewhere in it all the public issues and arguments of our days and weeks.
Any perspective on what Parliament will be doing beyond a certainty of opposition attack and governmental defence has to begin with the uneasy but enduring marriage between a Parliament in session and the presentation of its antics, particularly by television.
The relationship seems to belie the genuine earnestness many of us think should be intrinsic to political life. Older people often blame it on the bent of television to sensationalize and trivialize. Whatever, politics on television – not the weather and climate; not even hockey -is the national obsession.
Anything so focused upon becomes too familiar for respect. An archetypal expression of the obsession and a mocking of its salience was in a piece by Southam columnist Don McGillivray which appraised the opening of Parliament tomorrow, describing it as “more like the launching of the ship of fools than a purposeful voyage of the ship of state . . . the political parties seem at their wits’ end to solve the nation’s problems.”
McGillivray goes on about the leaderlessness and policy fudges of the opposition and he catalogues derisively the recess goofs and misses of Brian Mulroney and company.
A foreign visitor might ask what a stylized diet of political news, nourishing a country regularly on video clips of House performers from 10 to 90 seconds in length, has to do with the two fundamentals of Parliament – debating and passing laws; and approving and scrutinizing spending. Doesn’t our “game” of Parliament mock the responsibility of office?
Yes it does, but the getting or retaining office has led to such gamesmanship. Somehow bills become laws and the government gets its moneys, but from the day after one election is done concern for the next one is writ over-large on MPs – in themselves, and in their caucuses. You think this exaggeration? Well, the Tory election triumph was 4 1/2 months ago. Have you appreciated we are now three Gallups along from the definitiveness of proven electoral points?
The government has already lost a byelection. It’s points dwindle; the “leaderless” creep up. Two bureau chiefs of national news organizations in Ottawa have told me they would guess the Tories would be as low in the opinion polls as they were in their gloom of 1986 and ’87 if the House had been sitting through the past eight weeks of kerfuffle over air safety, fuzzy foreign policies, reneging on campaign promises, and some moves by the U.S. which seem far from benign and the spirit of the free trade agreement.
Their portrayal by the media, notably TV, less notably in print, is the prime concern of all – the leaders, the whips, the caucuses. It is not to attain a piece of legislation or to block it or amend it to something better. The only explanation why such a serious gang as the NDP would seem to be putting Audrey McLaughlin, a neophyte MP without broad experience, ahead of a brainy, experienced, skilfully argumentative MP like Steven Langdon as a choice for leader is because she has a good face, manner, voice and phrasing for television. He does not.
In appraising the session opening now one cannot dismiss the Liberal and NDP leadership races as mere sideshows. For the rest of this year, perhaps until late in 1990, these parties’ caucuses will be roiled by the divisive distractions of the contest. The Liberal contest in particular has to have House play, not just because the ambitions of Paul Martin, Lloyd Axworthy and other aspirants simply must use the opportunities of the House to display their wares. There are already Liberal difficulties on where to stand on issues like tax reform or deficit reduction or abortion or child care.
So both inherently, and through current, particular partisan conundrums, this House session in the strategy and tactics of all three parties will emphasize form, style, and credibility far ahead of content or issues of substance. In particular, diversions will be tried; that is, don’t look at us, look at the other guys’ confusion and inadequacies.
As example, for none of the parties, whatever the lips may say, will there be an overriding aim to reduce the deficit so much as there will be a governmental aim to be seen as dealing with it without hurting any interest group, whereas for the opposition parties, there will be much reiterated assertions of this and that worthy interest groups being hurt by governmental slashing.
The federal budget is overdue and must come soon. We know the form and vocabulary of the House challenges and responses to it. Whatever the proposals of Michael Wilson, the content of the debate, yea or nay, is set. Aside from a hail of praise and the storm of blame it is safe to guess there will be more taxes or increased taxes, enough to raise at least $2-$3 billion dollars, perhaps even $5-$6 billion more a year. These tax deeds are almost sure to include a fair bite on corporations; otherwise personal taxation cannot be touched at all, and it will be, probably in a small nudge in the highest of the three rates of income tax, perhaps in further adjustments downwards of indexing provisions.
On the other side – spending – bet there will be few programs ditched and the six to 10 which are cut will seem a lot when listed but won’t total more than $2 billion for the first year. Above all, there will be the postponement or delayed openings of a number of projected spending programs – defence capital expenditures, CIDA grants and aid funds.
If your wish, perhaps prayer, is for stern pruning of spending and the federal bureaucratic host you will probably look in vain. The truest indicator the PM and company are serious about mastering the deficits and the national debt would be substantial cuts in the moneys transferred from the federal treasury to provincial ones. This fits neither Mulroney’s own personality nor his “politics of conciliation” nor the wide disparity in the fund-raising capabilities of the provinces. If it should happen, particularly with a return to something like individual transfer agreements with each province, we would have at last a governnment leading us toward fiscal responsibility. And also, the loudest, shrillest caterwauling from premiers since World War II.
It is easy to make another forecast about programs. New ones – big ones – requiring legislation, will be rare, probably non-existent. They don’t fit with talk of deficit and debt control. For example, there will be few parliamentary priorities tagged to re-presenting the child care bill which made it through the last House but not the Senate. It takes big sums. On the other hand, the new Broadcasting Act, which also almost made the statutes, will be reintroduced and have more priority. When in place, the cost in dollars won’t be high. Meantime, the big spender in the field, the CBC, is not going to be belted with sharp slashes, although it will be surprising if its new all-news channel isn’t put off until the ’90s.
There are several matters to watch which will show whether or not the government in this mandate is purposeful or as so many of us are guessing, almost dawdling on purpose. What will Mulroney do, short- or long-term about curbing the Liberal-controlled Senate? It stalled a lot of his first-term initiatives, right to the election call, and he cannot have any assurance of any speedy legislation until he curbs its powers to block and delay.
Much more significant will be what the cabinet does with House business. It ramrodded free trade through before Christmas using time allocation and closure with a vengeance. Is this to be the model?
Such initiatives as curbing the Senate and scheduling the House would show Mulroney is determined to lead an effective government and realizes such a reputation is made or broken in Parliament and not at summits or in main-streeting. But don’t bet on him because it’s a good hunch he does not really see his leadership as much in the parliamentary context. He leaves it to others.
The most interesting post-election critiques of our politics have come from former Tory MPs Flora MacDonald and Scott Fennell. This odd couple seems on the same field. They are saying that both the power of the cabinet and its capacity to act with speed have been eroded by the changing roles within the parliamentary process, particularly in its profusion of committees. These let well-organized interest groups, of which Canada has a profusion (often subsidized by federal funds), and the opposition MPs and senators belabor government intentions, delay its actions and raise such controversies that things go very slowly.
What’s implicit in such views and the trend, become a reality, which they highlight is that Parliament is extremely inefficient. Sometimes in one’s darker hours the idea comes on strongly that the politicians, the public, and certainly the political media, like it that way.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, March 31, 1989
ID: 12288956
TAG: 198903310136
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

UNION DONKEYS’ BLINKERED VIEW

TEXT:
Why must those who speak for the Canadian Labor Congress (CLC) show such knee-jerking animus to the federal government?
After reading the report Adjusting to Win from the advisory council on adjustment (to the Canada-U.S. free trade agreement) I heard the CLC people mock it and hatchet Brian Mulroney for devising and using it as an escape from promises.
The report seems to show common sense on education; particularly on its inadequecies in preparing and retraining the work force. It puts the finger on employers for adjustments to dislocation within the work force caused by free trade.
In essence, any way you read it, this report is not an anti-worker, anti-union, pro-company document. Not in what it describes. Not in what it proposes.
Further, the proposals offer good leverage for a well-organized union movement in building a constructive relationship with major employers. Instead of the traditional adversarial rote there might be many partnerships in training, retraining, and relocating workers. The emphasis within the main recommendations for “a skills strategy program” is on “greater labor-management co-operation.”
We may expect many chief executive officers to be unhappy with the recommendations to use the tax system to lever companies into retraining programs. Those without programs would be taxed to sustain funds which governments (federal, provincial and municipal) would use for retraining and relocating workers.
In my experience on boards of conciliation and arbitration the unions of any worth were always seeking: (a) substantial advance notice of layoffs or any shutdowns of operations; (b) a built-in severance pay arrangement tied to years of service; (c) the same such benefits for part-time employees.
Not only are such recommendations in the report, the list of “specific employment issues” reads like the “want” list of an ambitious trade unionist. If all recommendations were in place we would have a genuine national system of protection for workers, based less on a safety net of unemployment insurance and more on something like a guarantee of either work or retraining for every person in the labor force, plus job placement services and full protection (pensions, holiday pay, etc.) from the consequences of company bankruptcies or shutdowns.
Inherently, Adjusting to Win is more favorable to the bulk of those who toil in our work force of 13 million than any report commissioned or published by the federal government that I have seen, including the famous Freedman report of the mid-1960s on how to face and handle technological changes.
Yet our union leaders can only see it as a renewed chance to clobber the prime minister and the government and cry havoc again at the free trade agreement.
Long after the slaughter of World War I, a new generation historian referred collectively to its generals as “the donkeys.” It seemed a well-earned tag. It’s also apt for most of our union leaders. They fought the last war and the one before that.
For those who would read the report, the presentation is pleasant, the language plain, the arguments direct.

The other hullabaloo as the parliamentary recess grinds to an end has been about transport administration – specifically over air traffic safety and VIA Rail’s future.
Should the minister, Benoit Bouchard, resign . . . in disgrace? That’s what the resurfaced opposition leaders, John Turner and Ed Broadbent, demand.
This dramatic demand has been much overworked, not least because it would be a rare and publicly awful situation before a PM accepted such a demand. Brian Mulroney wouldn’t even think of it in relation to his favorite Quebec colleague.
The facts, however, are disturbing. Firstly, that the assistant deputy minister of transport in charge of air safety has quit, then that the aviation safety board – a ripe collection of odd sods – is being scrapped, and outside inquiries have been instituted for the Gander and Dryden plane crashes. Secondly, and more critically in longer term because it shows such a dearth of foresight in the ministry, are the serious shortages of air traffic controllers and safety inspectors.
An acquaintance of mine in the department for several decades explains the schmozzle this way: Too many retired “generals and colonels” brought over into high management posts who have had a high appreciation of hierarchy but little feel for public fears or the idea of public service; a lack of application and deep personal involvement in the operations of the department by the two ministers since Mazankowski gave up the post three years ago (i.e., John Crosbie and Bouchard) and, in particular in their dallying with the inanities of the aviation safety board and ignoring the steady rise in air traffic, most notably in and out of Toronto.
Bouchard reminds my acquaintance of the late Jean Marchand, who, as transport minister in the early ’70s, had difficulties in grasping the complexities of the department and even more in expressing them well to the public. Overwhelmingly the paper burden in DOT is in English. A minister weak at reading in English tends to depend too much on close aides. It’s sad in Bouchard’s case, as it was near tragic in Marchand’s. One has, the other had, such engaging political qualities.
Now, what about VIA Rail? It should be lopped off. It won’t be. It’ll be cut a bit.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, March 29, 1989
ID: 12288913
TAG: 198903290110
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

NDP PLAYS A SILLY GAME

TEXT:
It’s inane and inherently mean that so many New Democrats have a ramp building for Audrey McLaughlin as party leader. It’s preposterous, yet no one in the party has said so. If the delegates at November’s convention are as silly as the caucus has been on replacing Ed Broadbent, the Yukon MP may even succeed him.
“Preposterous” means against common sense.
Why is McLaughlin a preposterous candidate?
Because she is so green a politician – a mere two years as an MP. And she’s in a unique riding with few voters in a huge area. Yukon is a contrast to most ridings in the provinces.
The issues facing an MP for the Yukon are not much like those in the urban and suburban parts of Canada. The Yukon MP must cajole Ottawa, pleading for the natives and a rudimentary, frontier economy.
McLaughlin has been good at this. She’s hit the media of the lower parallels and put her region’s case well in the House. But her range on issues is narrow and her knowledge of economics and history is shallow.
McLaughlin is an agreeably modest person. She would likely blink at this sketch of her current stage and craft but, if she were asked if she thought herself anywhere near as equipped for the national leadership as say, Tony Penikett, the NDP leader in the Yukon and her sponsor in federal politics, she would surely say, “No.”
If McLaughlin is a high school freshman in politics, say to college seniors such as MPs Steven Langdon, Svend Robinson and Lorne Nystrom, or even caucus outsiders like Bob White or Bob Rae, why the McLaughlin boom?
Much is the feminist thing. She’s been taken over as protege by Marion Dewar, the former mayor of Ottawa, who flunked out of a Hamilton riding and the House last November. Like McLaughlin, a byelection neophyte in the last House, Dewar was unlike her in being a poor House performer, with a voice too reedy and a compassion so brimming it drowned common sense. Because the NDP must see itself as the feminists’ party it must have at least one women go for the leadership, and Dewar’s found McLaughlin the handiest, having both a seat and a quickly gained repute as a good performer on her feet (although she’s far from a spell-binder).
If Dewar had survived, or Lynn McDonald had held Toronto Broadview, or if the Crest girl, Johanna den Hertog, had won a seat in Vancouver, there’d be no McLaughlin boom.
McLaughlin’s forte is gender in a party which must be to the fore for women. And she’s not from the East. She’s modestly endowed in appearance and poise. In a low-key way she makes a nice presentation. Another factor in her ascendancy is one given me by a party apparatchik: Some Broadbent handlers think she is the caucus talent most promisingly guidable.
Add these other reasons why the Yukon MP is in such play:
There isn’t a really willing candidate, male or female, who jumps out as the obvious choice, say as was M.J. Coldwell or Tommy Douglas or David Lewis. And the three nay-sayers with the best prospectuses are Stephen Lewis, a world-class spieler; Bob White, the union boss, so clearly a natural leader, and Roy Romanow, the Saskatchewan party leader. None of these men want it. As yet there’s no drive to draft one of them, although either Lewis or Romanow, given their antecedents, would be hard put to ignore one if it were well-marshalled.
The two brainiest, aggressive, hard-working MPs available are Svend Robinson (10 years in the House) and Steven Langdon (five years). The latter may run despite handicaps of slender French and a tedious speaking style. Robinson, never modest, has decided the time is not here for a homosexual party leader in Canada.
The only NDP MP with anything near conversational adroitness in French is Lorne Nystrom. Of all the caucus he has covered the most “critic” chores across the spectrum of politics. Everyone knows he has organizational sagacity to go with great ambitions and a pleasant manner.
Unfortunately for his aims, Nystrom, 21 years an MP – still only 43, and nine years younger than McLaughlin – has never impressed party colleagues with a doctrinaire understanding of social democracy or reflected “real depth,” something Broadbent can do, although one is hard put to say why or how.
There are few harder rows to hoe than a federal party leader’s, even of the NDP, a constant third party. Nothing is more useful to a canny leader than lots of experience unless it would be that rare blend, oratorical and television skills. So one might ask: Doesn’t McLaughlin in those ways compare to Brian Mulroney or Paul Martin Jr.?
Good contrasts! Even as Mulroney, like McLaughlin, representing a huge hinterland riding.
Mulroney first (and now Martin) came toward the leadership with even less House time than McLaughlin. Both, however, cut their wisdom teeth on politics. As a political family, the Martins rival the Lewises. Brian and Paul have been in and around partisan games for most of their lives. Further, Mulroney and Martin not only have good French, the Tory really won his party’s leadership with a claim that McLaughlin could never stake – of being the one who could bust the Grit grip on Quebec.
If the NDP must have a female candidate why not resurrect Rosemary Brown?

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, March 22, 1989
ID: 12288450
TAG: 198903220110
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

CRITIC PICKS WRONG TARGET

TEXT:
The national data-gathering agency we affectionately call StatsCan has been overtime accused of many sins. The latest criticism comes from Harry Bicks, chairman of the League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith. B’Nai Brith is a Jewish organization, always concerned with the civic status of Jews in Canada and the U.S.
Harry Bicks’ target is the latest 1986 census publication Dimensions, Profile of Ethnic Groups (Feb. l989). This pamphlet details with disarming innocence the income averages for individual “ethnic” groups.
Bicks objects to this. It is reprehensible because such information perpetuates stereotypes about the Jewish community.
“Nothing positive can result from the release of such statistics,” Bicks says. Such information will only “ . . . invoke tensions, jealousies between ethnocultural communities.”
So the information should be suppressed. Not because it is meaningless or of dubious quality. No! Simply because the data may do harm to the social fabric of Canadian society. In my experience StatsCan’s mandarins have become very professional in dodging pressures, many more artful than this one. They’ll hardly buckle on this, although no sensible MP discounts the effectiveness of the Canadian Jewish lobby.
Here is a digest of the data on “average annual employment income.” Scan it and see if you agree with Bicks that it’s dangerous to harmonious coexistence across our ethnic rainbow.

MALES
Highest Lowest
Jewish $47,000 Cambodian $16,148
Egyptian $38,568 Laotian $16,897
Estonian $37,361 Haitian $20,652
Latvian $36,683 Vietnamese $21,746
Welsh $35,870 Chilean $22,610
Czech $35,864 N.A. Indian $23,328
Slovak $35,521 Inuit $23,529
FEMALES
Estonian $25,403 Laotian $12,106
Latvian $25,207 Haitian $14,645
Jewish $25,171 Chilean $14,879
Lithuanian $24,687 Cambodian $14,911
Slovak $24,418 Portuguese $15,520
Egyptian $24,332 Vietnamese $15,760
Japanese $23,634 Punjabi $16,164

This sample almost shrieks for comparisons.
Why do Jewish females earn barely half as much as Jewish males?
In fact, why do females of every ethnicity earn so much less than males?
Why don’t our feminists take up Bicks’ logic? Protest at information which may disturb peace between the genders.
You think me frivolous? All right. There are excellent reasons to use this ethnic income data with great caution.
First, because it refers to employment income of those individuals who worked full-time for the full year. All others are excluded – a significant segment.
Further, the data came from a sample (20% of the population) so there is an error due to sampling procedure. The size of this error is meticulously specified with each income figure; it ranges from a few dollars to a few hundred, varying with the number of subjects in the sample.
But the data’s main flaw is in what statisticians call non-sampling errors, the largest of which ties to the definition of “ethnic” groups.
Several times StatsCan has changed the definition of what constitutes ethnicity. In the early censuses the respondents were told to identify their ethnic origin by indicating to what ethnic or cultural groups they or their ancestors on the male side belonged “on first coming to this continent.” Only a single ethnicity was acceptable.
Later “multiple” ethnicity became acceptable and the provisions of both “on first coming to this continent” and requiring male ancestry were dropped.
The inherent ambiguities are most apparent in the publication. “Jewish” ethnicity is listed, to be sure, but one also finds mention of “Israelis.”
One finds “Belgian” ethnic origin (also “Swiss” and “Austrian”) but there is no trace of Flemish or Walloon. “Czechoslovakian” ethnicity is listed alongside the “Czech” and “Slovak” groups. There is “black” ethnic origin but also “Caribbean.”
The strangest numbers are those attached to the “Canadian” ethnic group. The 1986 census officially states that in Canada there were 69,065 people of pure Canadian ethnic origin (plus 43,765 Canadians with mixed ethnicity). This tiny minority does not appear to be an elite either with average earnings ($29,838 and $20,389) being well down the line.
Here are some more bizarre groupings of individual ethnic origins. Under “French origins” StatsCan lists French, Acadian, French Canadian, and Quebecois. Under “British origins” one finds the English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh but not English Canadians nor – to accommodate some sense of symmetry -United Empire Loyalists or Albertans.
Bicks’ squawk is really misplaced. At real issue is the validity of the official doctrine of ethnicity, not the income data per se.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, March 20, 1989
ID: 12288411
TAG: 198903200084
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

BOOK DUCKS THE REAL ISSUES

TEXT:
No aspect of our politics has been livelier than immigration. So a new book about it by a senior academic sounded great – until I read it.
The title is Critical Years In Immigration – Canada and Australia Compared (McGill-Queen’s Press). The author is Freda Hawkins, a professor emeritus at U of T. Her work is a disappointment, but the flaws highlight the most persistent shortfall in most analysis of immigration policy – rampant idealism!
Hawkins’ critique, at least for the Canadian side of her comparison, is as banal and pedestrian as the stuff ground out by our bureaucrats for cabinet ministers. It evades the real public issues in immigration.
Hawkins has this conclusion about her stated task of comparing the immigration policies of two nations, each built by massive immigration:
“It is hoped that this study will show how very similar the immigration experiences of Canada and Australia are, and how important immigration has been and still is in their population growth and national development.”
A conclusion so unremarkable as to be remarkable.
Consider Hawkins’ view of Canadian immigration since the end of World War II. Because she thinks the “critical years” for our immigration policy were from 1972 to 1984, she gives a mere five pages to the period from 1945 to 1972. Literally, this is ignorance; ignorance compounded because her perception of the earlier period’s significance is way out of focus.
She exaggerates the importance of immigration regulations adopted by the Tory government in 1962, and sums their effect as “ . . . the White Canada policy was virtually dead.” This is wrong, wrong.
The pivotal turn in opening Canada to more than whites came in the years of Jean Marchand as Liberal minister for immigration with Tom Kent his vigorous deputy minister. In 1967 they put in place the “point system” for the selection of immigrants. Kent was the most forceful mastermind in the Pearson government. Hawkins gives a few innocuous lines to Kent and his innovations; this is grotesque in what purports to give a history of modern Canadian immigration.
Hawkins parades some statistics to support her thesis that 1962 was the key year but these are largely meaningless because she compares two big blocks of time, “before and after” 1961.
She is also unfortunate in her cut-off date of 1984, just short of the turbulent years of refugee debacles and well short of recent remedial legislation and rules which are still causing controversy.
One has to ask why Hawkins’ “critical” years begin in 1972, not 1967 or even 1962? The explanation is that in 1972 Hawkins’ first hero, Robert Andras, became immigration minister. Her second hero is a former secretary of state, Jim Fleming. Both gave her interviews. She believes Andras started “a remarkable process of liberalization and modernization of immigration policies and programs.”
Does this extravagant claim fit Andras’ record?
Andras was a realist, a right-wing Liberal and he settled on a policy of moderate immigration growth because, to quote him, it would be “irresponsible to admit more immigrants than we can adequately provide with fundamentals such as jobs, housing and social services.” He also sponsored the immigration green paper which even Hawkins finds was “lacking both clarity and depth.”
The real reason for the “critical” period starting in 1972 is probably in Hawkins’ own involvement in the subject. In the early ’70s she got involved with the federal citizenship and immigration bureaucracy through three modest contracts from the secretary of state and the minister of manpower and immigration.
The peak in the glorious developments in immigration policy, according to Hawkins, came in 1976 with the passage of a new Immigration Act. She is ecstatic about it: “One of the best pieces of immigration legislation to be found anywhere . . . an admirable piece of legislation” which on the whole came in “for very little criticism since it became law in 1978.”
But elsewhere Hawkins contradicts such appraisals. For example, she says the 1976 act “created an immensely complicated system” for refugee determination which one legal authority described as “riddled with anomalies, inconsistencies and other shortcomings which have demonstrated that it is both cumbersome and susceptible to abuse.”
Or: “Canada, as part of an immigration law which sought to be just and equitable, has leaned over backwards to be fair to individual applicants . . . at the expense of developing an efficient but still equitable system . . . ”
The Australian side of the comparative study is simpler to grasp and so Hawkins describes it with more authority. The chapter I do recommend is short. It’s on multiculturalism and it debunks the myth there’s anything noble in the official blah about the wonders of ethnic diversity.
One must wonder why this study unfolded. Who approved the moneys for such a mediocre work? The government grants give some explanation. The federal treasury put up the following:
$33,569 from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council; $21,160, $5,000, and $5,000 grants from the secretary of state; and $8,000 from the employment and immigration department to buy 250 copies of the book.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, March 19, 1989
ID: 12328128
TAG: 198903190118
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C6
COLUMN: Douglas Fisher
in Ottawa

SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

VANITY, THY NAME IS …

TEXT:
Canadian do-gooders are many. A lot like the good to be done for the world through leadership in foreign and defence policy by Ottawa. But another group of Canadians mock as ineffectual or vain whatever a federal government so undertakes.
At times the idealists and the cynics coincide. Consider these points in bylined pieces in the Globe and Mail (Ross Howard), the Toronto Star (Richard Gwyn) and the Ottawa Citizen (John Hay).
Howard’s Globe piece (March 15) is fascinating, in part by diversity of “sources,” seven unnamed, two named. From Ottawa, under the heading “Statements on PLO by PM, Clark indicate deeper foreign policy rift,” Howard suggests there are serious ministerial rifts over foreign policy and that Brian Mulroney may well ditch top mandarins at external affairs. He’s unhappy with Joe Clark, Clark with him.
Howard’s wisdom, gleaned from a named academic (from McMaster) is “there is no doubt we are slowing down on foreign policy.”
While the purported rift has grown over Clark’s push and Mulroney’s drag over recognition of the PLO, Howard lists other “incidents” in the rift mix.
“ . . . revelations of small increases in Canadian trade with South Africa and of massive loopholes in Canadian embargoes on South African financing; a slow first Canadian response to Iranian death threats on author Salman Rushdie . . . and the highly publicized critical remarks by recently retired Canadian envoys Stephen Lewis and Roy McMurtry about weak Canadian commitment to its foreign policy promises.”
Neither of Howard’s named sources say there is cabinet division over over foreign policies but unnamed ones do: Some close to Clark, some to Mulroney, some to top officials. Most of Howard’s sources are “highly placed,” he writes. If so, that too confirms the poor state of our foreign affairs.
Bless Gwyn of the Star (Mar. 12), for he has only one source, “a prime ministerial spokesman,” the one who let out what Mulroney later said openly, that he was not in a rush to have Canada deal directly with the PLO.
But Gwyn is also hard. He thinks our performance in foreign policy may be the most inept since World War II. Gosh . . . 44 years!
Gwyn says Mulroney-Clark have dallied in responding to the fresh developments in the USSR the past four years because of our Ukrainian lobby. On the Middle East they’ve fiddled, over-respectful of our Jewish lobby, although the White House is moving to direct Israel-PLO discussions. They goofed on the Rushdie book, seeming to censor it, and delaying withdrawal of our attache from Iran.
A “collective cause” of Canadian ineptness is because Mulroney’s foreign policy has “amounted to a Canada-U.S. policy” and because the PM has let his own status needs in domestic politics turn to a silly quest to host a string of high-level international conferences.
In sum, Gwyn says our foreign policy has been “trivialized” and “a nation that treats the world as trivial is inviting the world to treat it as trivial.” And the world is, he says.
John Hay in the Citizen (Mar. 12) has none of Howard’s sources to compose with, nor does he touch content in our foreign policy. No, he’s out to show all is vanity in our foreign policy, in particular, Brian Mulroney.
Why did Mulroney choose “to waste” last weekend at an environmental conference at the Hague. “Vanity.”
“ . . . almost every summit is an act of vanity,” says Hay. “The more who attend, the vainer it gets.”
The Hague conference was a failure: “Too big, too vague in purpose, no way to enforce decisions.” He wonders if vanity leads anywhere and then draws examples of rampant vanity in John Diefenbaker’s conduct of foreign affairs. These are from Basil Robinson’s new book, Diefenbaker’s World.
National leaders are too full of their own importance; foreign visits gull and inflate them even more because they get more respect away than at home. Their vanity is grossly petty and is “hard to educate, but easy to flatter.”
Hay’s cynicism suggests there’s much emptiness and small effect in our foreign policy. He says:
“When we make someone prime minister, they bring their vanity into office with them. In the main, as at The Hague, vanity does no great harm. But it sure can’t help.”
Hay’s theme complements the tales of rift and ineptitude by Howard and Gwyn. Such journalism may caution, even correct Mulroney and Clark. As one who fits a third Canadian grouping – those who put cultivation of our garden first – the phoniness of the vanity is clear but so too is the vanity in the expectation we ought to be a leading edge in international affairs.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, March 17, 1989
ID: 12288395
TAG: 198903170153
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

FORESTRY POLICY LOST IN THE WOODS

TEXT:
No other industry is as important as forestry in sustaining our export-based economy. Thus it’s surprising so little reaction has flared, particularly from provincial premiers, to what Ken Dye, the auditor general, had to say about forestry two months ago in his last report.
The “greens” and “tree-huggers” haven’t taken up Dye’s revelations although they should be central in their campaigns to influence the public about an environment in danger. About the only recent public noise on forestry policy has come from a few provincial ministers, notably in Ontario, complaining that Ottawa is stalling on renewing forestry agreements with them.
One needs some basics to appreciate Dye’s report:
The provinces own 80% of inventoried productive forests; private persons own 8%, the federal government 12%.
The annual value last year of forestry products shipped was $33 billion and these products contributed to an annual net trade surplus of some $16 billion.
In constitutional terms, forestry is largely a provincial matter, although Ottawa, through its tax system, takes as much or more in revenue from forestry as the provinces combined.
The Canadian Forestry Service (the CFS, its HQ in Ottawa) has largely the responsibility to support the provinces in forestry. The CFS is about to become the nucleus (again) of a resurrected federal department of forestry – the new minister, Frank Oberle.
Under its act the CFS is charged with “promoting and enhancing the sustained economic use of Canada’s forest resource through economically sound forest management; and to enhance the social and economic benefits derived from public and privately owned forests . . . To achieve such objectives the CFS conducts research in protection, management and utilization of the forest resource, and enters into cost-shared agreements with the provinces to implement forest management programs . . . ”
As the auditor general sees it, our forestry industry is strong but concern is growing whether its activity can be sustained. Lack of adequate forest management has much depleted the forest resource.
“Significant shortages of wood are reported at the local level in every province. Restocking of productive forest lands has not kept pace with the harvest, and this threatens future forest productivity . . . Any serious decrease in the supply of wood would have a serious impact on all Canadians.”
It takes 40-80 years to restock a harvested forest site.
For almost a decade Ottawa has been contributing millions annually to the provinces for “forestry development” under formal agreements, including shared-cost agreements with five of the provinces that have a large forest industry.
Last year the auditor general got into a close audit of the CFS and of these agreements. What he found is most discouraging. The constructive input of the CFS into implementing the agreements has varied from province to province but in every case there must be “better co-ordination.”
The main objective of reducing the backlog of unsatisfactorily restocked forest land is not being met.
How bad is the shortfall? Although 50% of the federal money is supposed to go to reforestation programs, no progress has been made in cutting down the backlog of cutover that isn’t “coming back.” In fact, the backlog is still growing. Further, Dye finds the agreements in effect are unclear.
Most devastatingly, he writes: “The CFS does not have enough information, or a national system in place, to be able to comment on the national forest resource.” The detail of shortcomings in knowledge, information, expertise, and execution in relation to the five big agreements with the provinces goes on and on. One shocking judgment is that the CFS doesn’t have an adequate national data system to monitor and report results under the agreements.
In short, it cannot judge, nor can the provincial services, what should be and is being achieved in reforestation.
Dye goes on for pages. He sets forth almost 30 recommendations. To almost every one, the CFS, appraised of his critique, replies “we concur” or “we agree”.
Once the dearth of reaction to Dye’s exposition on the grievous state of our forest management sank in, I recalled what John Roberts had said to me in the early ’80s. He was minister responsible for the environment (and the CFS) and had got the Trudeau cabinet to accept a position paper whose key was the ominous, emerging spectre of a wood fibre shortage in Canada.
“No topic in politics,” said Roberts, “is of less interest to Canadians than forestry, unless it’s Indians.”
How right he was, and is, although at least with the natives, however much is wasted, Ottawa spends five times as much annually on them as does on forestry.
It is bootless to expect, say from the Peterson government, a rational case why Ottawa should pipe it more dollars for reforestation, given the inadequacies exposed by the auditor general. After all, the ignorance and the inability to co-ordinate of the CFS mirror the Ontario forestry service. Clearly Ontario cannot know any more than the CFS on what restocking is or isn’t doing.
So Oberle, isn’t beginning with a honeymoon. One must wonder what the next Wilson budget will assign him for projects that pipe funds to provinces. Why spend more on aimless forestry programs?

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, March 15, 1989
ID: 12288359
TAG: 198903150117
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

TAKING US TO OUR LEADER//(SECOND OF TWO PARTS)

TEXT:
Who does Brian Mulroney hear? A lot of people. More than Pierre Trudeau or Lester Pearson did, far more than John Diefenbaker or Louis St. Laurent.
Mulroney is rarely aloof. He does not brood for long. He likes to talk; he is a fair listener; he likes to know “what’s up.” He scans many papers and watches seven to 10 hours of TV a week, mostly news and public affairs stuff.
Let’s look at some academic opinion on the PM in a new paperback, Canada Under Mulroney: An End-of-term Report.
One contributor, Colin Campbell, is a politics professor at Georgetown. He’s written some comparative studies of government – Canada, U.S., and the U.K. – with an emphasis on the senior bureaucracies. He can be snarky with politicians.
“We should probably concede that Brian Mulroney’s personality would be well-suited to broker politics. He does not have anywhere near the intellectual depth of Pierre Trudeau. Like (Ronald) Reagan, he comes across as cunning and smart but far from learned or profound. Unlike Reagan he lacked baggage which would force him into a survival politics rhetoric. Canada had not turned its back on the welfare state; the campaign had not left the public with the belief that the Conservatives would introduce radical changes. Mulroney temperamentally fitted within the moderate wing of his party.”
Campbell says “Mulroney is not a systematic person. He hates meetings and does very poorly running them.” (The last opinion is contrary to what ministers or caucus members or premiers tell me.)
“He spends a seemingly inordinate proportion of his working day on the telephone,” Campbell writes. “Even when alone in his study at home poring over his briefing books, he cannot resist the temptation to get to the bottom of things by calling the people behind the paper. He would go mad trying to replicate Trudeau’s almost monastic ability to insulate himself . . . and focus . . . on what was truly the `best’ possible policy. In this respect Peter Aucoin has identified what he terms brokerage politics as that most suited to the prime minister . . . Mulroney’s leadership style (in contrast to Trudeau’s) is transactional rather than collegial. His preference is to deal with individuals on a one-to-one basis rather than on a collective basis.”
Campbell thinks that desperation made Mulroney shift from “brokerage politics” to “survival politics” in mid-term (e.g., dropping Erik Nielsen for Don Mazankowski as deputy PM). This shift, says Campbell was very risky and put Canada “in perilous waters”.
For Campbell, “the all-embracing objective of political leadership is policy competence.” So, writing just before Mulroney’s second triumph, he thought, “Mulroney has failed to achieve this goal.”
Peter Aucoin, the academic (from Dalhousie) whom Campbell cites, is kinder. His emphasis in Canada Under Mulroney is that the PM altered the “organizational design of the executive-bureaucratic arena.” In short, more grip on the policy process by Mulroney and a few ministers, less by mandarins.
“Within the strategic apex of power there has been a greater concentration of authority and control under the PM and especially under the D/PM with a coterie of senior ministers belonging to an inner circle. Greater informality, streamlining and flexibility characterize the planning and decision-making system as a result.”
Aucoin predicted what Mulroney did a few weeks ago – a major “rationalization” of the “central agencies” of government. Although he finds Mulroney centred more power on himself and his office, with experience he made fewer and more strategic interventions, leaving more to a few ministers whom he continues in place.
The last words in Canada Under Mulroney would delight him and will irritate his Ottawa bashers. It’s by Carole Simard, a political scientist at the University of Quebec. Her appraisal of the public service after four Tory years concludes:
“It is my view that under Brian Mulroney’s government the field of public service personnel management has undergone real transformation, with significant breakthroughs. That being said, the overall administration is in excellent health. The relative decrease of one of its most visible components, the world of public servants, should not be interpreted as a sign of failing power.”
A few professors and journalists may know more than interested citizens about whom the PM really hears but most of them should know or sense this about Mulroney:
He is a warier leader than at advent. About two years ago he shucked what one might call cronies. They’re now private, probably part of his phone calls. He gets along well with his ministers. Some authority is shared with other politicians, less with any mandarinate group.
Mulroney today seems a rather capable journeyman. Is anyone manipulating him? Not so one can see, although he and Mila seem indivisible.
Are his aims dominated by an ideology or an ideologue? No.
Is there warping by sycophancy? Not excessively, thanks to Gallups.
Mulroney is pragmatic. So are most around him. He is not focused on just a few goals. Although he is not inspirational no longer does he seems to offend so many.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, March 13, 1989
ID: 12655857
TAG: 198903130094
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
COLUMN: Douglas Fisher
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

MULRONEY ON THE COUCH//PART ONE OF TWO

TEXT:
The calibre of Brian Mulroney as a leader was much discussed before the election. In the 16 weeks since, there have hardly been whispers of it. Is this because his conclusive victory turned all the critical focus on his defeated rivals and when they would retire? Yes, but also because of the respect – like a PM or hate him – which goes to a winner of consecutive majorities.
Mulroney will get much less hard criticism than in his first term, at least until his party drops to the mid-20s in the regular Gallups. (In the last quarter it dropped from 49 to 41.)
In a recent NY Review, noted American historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., commented on a batch of books about President Franklin Roosevelt and his time (1932-1945) in the White House. Roosevelt had a slowly altering galaxy of advisors, most of them well-known, some of them publicly reviled.
The years were ones of great strain and change – the Great Depression and a titanic world war. FDR delegated a lot of authority and his aides were mostly brilliant and forceful, so there still runs a question as old as the presidency. Was FDR demi-god or puppet? Of course, the same question was asked and is still being asked about Reagan as president.
A president has to have advisers (cabinet and staff). So does a prime minister. One way of appraising Brian Mulroney after four and a quarter years as PM is to come at him in relation to his advisors – ministers, personal staff, and top mandarins. And a good starting place is Schlesinger’s various “models” of advisers, as follows:
“The pragmatic adviser lives from day to day and issue to issue, following the Wilsonian motto `Hit the head you see.’
“The analytical adviser frames problems in a wider and deeper context and strives for coherence in their solution.
“The ideological adviser is concerned less with analysis than with exhortation, less with policy than with dogma.
“The manipulative adviser uses the presidency to advance his own agenda.
“The sycophantic adviser concentrates on pleasing the president: `Let Reagan be Reagan.’
“Most advisers,” writes Schlesigner, “play several or all these roles. the question lingers: Who runs whom?”
As the historian says, “one judges a president finally by his achievements, but one understands a president better by weighing the quality, maturity, diversity of the people on whom he relies.”
What strikes one about advisers to Mulroney is how most of his ministers seem pragmatic, as he is himself, and how few are analytical or ideological. Name one whom you know and can show is a genuine conservative! As for `manipulative’, much in Ottawa is “inside” – ministers and their staffs manipulating and levering for advantage in funds and promotions.
What there is or may be in crafty handling of the PM has been kept out of sight. Obviously, someone got to him about over-exposure and grandiose phrasing but was it his own common sense, Mila, Dalton Camp, Bruce Phillips, Maz? Who knows. No one’s leaking credit to anyone, although the recently departed Derek Burney, chief of staff, has been extolled by some journalists for straightening and simplifying Mulroney’s agenda and concerns.
There is always a strong element of open sycophancy around a prime minister from his staff and ministers. Certainly Mulroney has oiled in his share of it but it’s what one might call the traditional sycophancy for the man in the post, not the awed sycophancy that put such a moat around Trudeau.
It is hard to conjure a minister (none of the Francos, not Clark, Crosbie, Epp, McDougall, Beatty, for example) nor anyone else close to Mulroney who preaches and pushes for a strongly conservative line beyond the usual banalities about free enteprise and the market economy.
Maz in private or loose in northern Alberta talks a Republican brand sort of conservativism. One cannot imagine a heavy ideology coming from the top insiders – Stanley Hartt or Dalton Camp. They are advisers in the same `liberal’ mold as their chief. Probably Peter White, the PM’s secretary is the inside conservative ideologue but we don’t know this. He says nothing publicly and little like Thatcherisms issue from his boss.
This dearth of ideology has its wry side. You may have noted that one CLC-NDP line, echoed by Grits like Lloyd Axworthy, labels Mulroney as `neo-conservative’. This tag emerged from academics in the U.S. and the U.K. and our PhDs have taken it up. A recent book, Canada Under Mulroney; an End of Term Report (Vehicule Press), is a compost of judgments by a score of professorial analyists.
It uses `neo-conservatism’ a lot as a means of identifying Mulroney and company. A few of the score of authors, however, in particular those who see Mulroney’s first term as one of firm direction and achievements, do deny we have a really neo-conservative PM or government.
Perhaps Michael Wilson, backed by his economists in finance, is emerging as the analytical force for the PM, narrowed to it by the pressure of deficits and debt charges. The analysis is gaining the status of a popular ideology. Will it master the Mulroney pragmatism? Pragmatism seems inherent in his aptitude for brokerage politics and his desire not to be widely disliked.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, March 12, 1989
ID: 12326579
TAG: 198903120118
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C6
COLUMN: Douglas Fisher
in Ottawa

SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THE CRYBABY CANADIANS//THE WAY OTHERS SEE US

TEXT:
Last January Harper’s carried an essay on the free trade agreement titled “Signing away Canada’s soul.” The author was novelist and man of letters Robertson Davies. He was mordant at Canada losing even more of what distinguishes us from Americans. Of course, the essay was well-crafted and reminiscent in elegaic foreboding of the late George Grant’s Lament for a Nation.
The March issue of Harper’s carried three letters from Americans in response to Davies. Each tells us something of us as others see us. The first one, in particular, got under my skin but it is not unfair. David Saenger of Cambridge, Mass., read the essay “with a certain scepticism.
“When I think of that country, I remember the Canadian family I met on a train in Germany last summer. Every member, down to the smallest child, wore a shining maple leaf pin. Each suitcase was covered with Canadian flag stickers. Were those Canadians imitating what Davies terms the `extroverted culture’ of America? Were they, I inquired, `bearing their Canadian national identity?’
“ `No,’ they said, `We just want to make it clear we are not Americans, eh? What with all these tourists about, you’ve got to be careful.’
“This scene recurred again and again when I met Canadians in Europe, it is emblematic of Canadians’ devalued nationalism. They enjoy patriotism of convenience when they boast about such achievements as their national health system – something they can afford because America pays the political and economic price for the defence of the free world. Canadians like Davies want to have their cake and eat it too. When Canada can articulate a more noble, mature national consciousness, then perhaps it will receive the respect Davies so desperately wants.”
Wow! If that was rough, try this from Duluth, Minn., resident David Darby. In my experience Minnesotans from north of the Twin Cities know more about Canada than most Americans. Darby wrote:
“Perhaps the obscurity of Canada’s soul is not the fault of American culture but the result of Canada’s inability to acquire a national spirit through some galvanizing historic act. Canada never achieved nationhood, instead, it was eased out the door into independence like a 30-year-old child by its British mother. Not only did apron strings have to be cut, but the poor country was still suckling. Even as recently as 1965 when Canadians gave up their British-looking flag for the botanical banner they now fly, the agony was deep and vehemently expressed.
“I don’t know what characterizes Canadian culture, and Davies wasn’t very enlightening – just worrisome and paranoid. So, though I’ve liked nearly all the Canadians I’ve met, I still wonder who they really are.”
The third letter is cryptic. After reading it over and over it seems the cruelest. The writer is Edward Kalmowski of Portland, Conn.
“Most Canadians, like their American neighbors, want economic security. A national soul plus $1.50 will get them a bowl of pea soup in most restaurants in Montreal, Toronto,, Vancouver and points in between.”
“As for the Russian soul, which Davies holds up as an example, it never did the Russians any good. All it ever won for them was sustained tyranny.”
Davies’ essay and these responses reminded me that he was one of 39 signatories to the half-page ad in the Globe and Mail of Nov. 22, 1988, two days before the federal election. Remember it attacked the Mulroney-Reagan trade deal as “not for the welfare of our country. It will irrevocably damage the Canada we care about . . . vote for the party in your riding that will help to defeat this free trade deal.”
You may recall some of the 39 – Atwood, Berton, Clarkson, Mowat, Kidder, Pinsent, Salutin, Harron.
The same day the Globe ran another half-page ad, a contrary one led by the phrases, “Artists & writers for free trade; we are not fragile.” There were 63 signatories. Unlike the other ad, these people had their vocation added – cartoonist, historian, author, opera singer, painter and so on. There were such names as Callaghan (twice) Fulford, McLuhan, Richler (twice), Bliss, Bain and Donato. In short, as impressive in the Who’s Who sense as the other list.
This ad stated there is “no threat to our national identity anywhere in the agreement. Nor is there a threat to any form of Canadian cultural expression . . . The spirit of protectionism is the enemy of art and of thought.”
Those contrary ads call for more debate as a resolution. It would be exciting to face a gang from each side in a PBS kind of happening for TV, better than, say, Patrick Watson’s current saga on democracy. What say, CBC? CTV?

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, March 10, 1989
ID: 12287908
TAG: 198903100103
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THE RIGHT TO BE CANADIAN

TEXT:
Justice Bud Cullen of the Federal Court of Canada was once minister for immigration (1976-79). There was much parliamentary debate then on multiculturalism. So the judge who entered a court sitting in Calgary a few weeks ago was not ignorant on ethnicity.
On the court list was a motion for a writ of mandamus, put by Calgarian Cliff Joynt, seeking to compel Max Yalden, chief of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, to hold a hearing on issuing “a legal description of the word `Canadian’ in terms of national origin, ethnic origin, race, and birth.”
Joynt, a retired railroader, also asked that Yalden issue the orders “necessary to end the systematic discrimination being practised by the government of Canada, its agencies and entities, against those who are Canadians by national origin, ethnic origin and race . . . ”
A wry paragraph in a letter by Joynt to Yalden last August gives the gist of his argument: “There are millions of people in this country who have never known any other culture than the English language-North American culture which is not, as a recent Calgary Herald editorial put it a `transplanted European culture.’ It is a home-grown culture and it must be the world’s premier culture because foreigners are paying bribes, jumping the queue and lining up at the immigration offices to obtain entry. The `roots’ and `heritage’ of the Canadians are in Canada and North America which makes them every bit as indigenous to, and natives of, this country and continent as any Indian ever born.”
The right Joynt seeks is hard to get. For example, in the last census, its takers were told not to take the response “Canadian” for ethnicity and only to record it if people insisted. And so the last census showed just 69,000 out of 25 million as simply “Canadians.”
Joynt wants to be an unhyphenated Canadian; to be what John Diefenbaker used to insist ought to be. His requests to Yalden and his predecessor for relief were brushed off as though he were a crank. Letters to cabinet ministers like Joe Clark and Ray Hnatyshyn brought referrals to the Canadian Human Rights Commission because it has a mandate to eradicate discrimination against any ethnic group.
Joynt didn’t get his day in court, but it may come. When Bud Cullen had scanned Joynt’s motion he told him the court could not accept it – procedurally it was wrong. Go out and get counsel on preparing and presenting a “declaration” to the court. File it and it would likely to be heard, perhaps in late April.
If you agree with Joynt that those who believe or know they are Canadians, nothing more, nothing less, and want this recognized in our officially multicultural society let him know. Moral support bucks up the lone citizen against the state. (Joynt’s address is 506 808 5th St., SE, Calgary, T2G 4T5.)

Woe on a columnist without a Toronto slot.
One I know is dean of the press gallery, the longest running political columnist (28 years). He landed as a reporter on the Normandy beaches. He’s run in papers in eight provinces. He’s played concerts across Canada and written five books. But where it counts most his writ and life are unknown.
I am woeful for colleague Charles Lynch. Why?
The zealous editors of the winter bulletin of the Centre for Investigative Journalism reprinted from the Globe and Mail a piece about CBC journalistic policy by Bronwyn Drainie, now replacing Mavor Moore as the Globe’s culture columnist. Thus her sneer at Lynch in the original has wider currency. And it’s a very silly sneer to many.
Drainie is like many high-minded Canadians: An authority on what the CBC ought to be. She believes CBC policy, as revealed in the Dale Goldhawk case, impinges on the rights of journalists.
Goldhawk was the head of the union, ACTRA, and host of the CBC’s Cross-Country Checkup, a radio talk and phone-in show on public issues. CBC management had divined an appearance of conflict between Goldhawk as host and as union chief. Take a topic like free trade. Take a union like ACTRA, set against it.
It was Charles Lynch, “a pro-free trade journalist,” as Drainie says, who asked in a column last fall why the CBC would have such an activist at work on air without disclosing his, and his union’s, political stances. Goldhawk voluntarily withdrew; subsequently he resigned his executive position in ACTRA to ensure his host role. Since then scores of union leaders and liberally minded journalists have protested to the CBC and the government over the seeming CBC policy that one cannot be in public affairs work and a union executive.
Drainie thinks the CBC policy wrong. She also wrote that Lynch “conveniently omitted his own conflict of interest; his long-standing intimate relationship with a (Brian) Mulroney adviser and now defeated Tory MP.”
How ignorant she is of Lynch as columnist. Much more than most journalists his personal life is woven into his writing and what he says for radio and TV. In dozens of pieces readers have had his saga as spouse of a vigorous, opinionated Tory MP and candidate.
Charles and Claudie rate with Joe and Maureen, John and Gilles, in Ottawa and in those places where Charles runs. But he runs not in Toronto and so Drainie sees him as a convenient omitter. Gosh, when I read Lynch on Goldhawk I found it pleasing and remarkable because not once was there a spousal promotion.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, March 08, 1989
ID: 12286827
TAG: 198903080109
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

LOOKING BACK TO NDP FUTURE

TEXT:
Late this fall our socialist party – Ed Broadbent prefers “social democratic party” – will choose its seventh leader. It should be a race with lots of runners and no certain winner for some months.
Let’s look back before looking ahead.
Before Ed Broadbent (1975-89) the leaders of the NDP and its predecessor, the CCF, were David Lewis (1971-75), Tommy Douglas (1961-71), Hazen Argue (1958-61), M.J. Coldwell (1939-58) and J.S. Woodsworth (1933-39).
Neither Woodsworth, Coldwell or Argue were chosen at what we could call a leadership convention but rather as leaders of the elected CCF MPs. Argue headed the House caucus after Coldwell’s defeat in the 1958 election. He was forced on the party establishment by the last CCF convention’s wish he have the title until the New Democratic Party was launched.
Although there’s been respect, even reverence, by party members for all the leaders but Argue, until the pollsters’ apotheosis of Broadbent in 1987 and into ’88 the NDP-CCF throughout its continuity emphasized policies ahead of leadership. In short, the party is more significant to members than its leader. One can see this in the biblical quality of the party -“going by the book.”
The first “book” was the Regina Manifesto (1933), one goal of which was “the eradication of capitalism.” After five federal elections with a best showing (1945) of 28 seats, the manifesto was softened into the Winnipeg Declaration (1956).
What happened within the CCF between 1933 and 1956 is still distorting the NDP. Both the CCF caucus in Ottawa and the first CCF government in Saskatchewan pushed harder for pensions and health care programs than for rooting out capitalism and nationalizing the means of production.
This shift away from a primary economic message has persisted, arguably in response both to issues as they have emerged and to win more votes. Also, while its socialist doctrine was diluting, the NDP was joined since the mid-’60s by more and more single-issue zealots (feminists, gays, peaceniks, etc.). The initial aim of eradicating capitalism is long gone.
The transition from CCF to NDP was done in 1961 at a mammoth convention in Ottawa. The reasons for abandoning the CCF were several and understandable. Post-1958 the Liberal party seemed in ruins. The union movement had at last coalesced into one national power centre. The new party aimed at the “liberally minded” and union members. It more nakedly sought office than had the CCF.
The first convention did more than pick a new name and elect the obvious leader, Tommy Douglas. It worked up a book of policy statements. (Even one about “special status” for Quebec which still has life in the current arguments in the NDP about the distinct society clause in the Meech accord.)
The gathering reaffirmed the CCF maxim that policy resolutions put and accepted at convention must be the basis of both electoral and parliamentary endeavor, not the leader’s or the caucus’ views. In specifics this often causes embarrassment. Take the convention policy that Canada leave NATO. Ed Broadbent disliked it and found it awkward.
Even in the party’s first federal campaign (1935) the leader. J.S. Woodsworth had problems with policy positions. Some B.C. CCFers were aware Oriental immigration was unpopular in B.C. Woodsworth’s enunciation of the open-minded policy of the party was seen as hurtful in B.C.
Woodsworth pointed out to the B.C. faithful that CCF policy on nationalizing railways was unpopular in Winnipeg. So was its stance on credit to Albertans. And most Quebecers didn’t want the repeal of Section 98 of the Criminal Code (used to jail communists).
“Should opportunism be our guide?” Woodsworth asked, and ironically, he quoted to his critics a folk verse:
“A merciful providence/ Fashioned us holler
So that we could/ Our principles swaller.”
What was there at the beginning continued and persists today. In every national convention of the CCF and NDP there have been vigorous and often bitter contests – between idealists and pragmatists, between leftish hawks and the moderate doves. On balance, the doves have usually won. That is, what might be called the social democrats have controlled the leadership and the party’s bureaucracy. The devout socialists, Marxist or Christian, have not been in charge, and since Woodsworth none of the leaders was boldly and simply a socialist.
The most memorable of many convention battles between socialists and social democrats was at the 1971 convention which chose David Lewis, the party stalwart, over the upstart “Waffler” James Laxer.
Subsequently the Wafflers were rebuffed within the party, the attack on them led by Stephen Lewis and the leaders of unions strong in Ontario. The 1975 convention had to find a leader to replace David Lewis, defeated in the ’74 election. By then the the Waffle was largely remnant. Even so, the “establishment” candidate, Ed Broadbent, was well challenged by the left-wing’s choice, Rosemary Brown.
This backward look suggests we should anticipate an eventual polarization between a “left” candidate who will lose (probably Ian Waddell or Svend Robinson) to a “moderate” candidate (perhaps, the redoubtable Stephen or Bob White or Lorne Nystrom) who will have the backing of the “royals” of the party, the Lewis clan.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, March 05, 1989
ID: 12325661
TAG: 198903060099
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle

PAGE: C6
COLUMN: Douglas Fisher
in Ottawa
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

BRIAN’S BOYS ON THE BUS

DATELINE: Ottawa
TEXT:
So Bruce Phillips is bumped. Higher? Out? Pending? Luc Lavoie’s role has been changed to manager of events. Marcel Cote comes from Montreal and advertising to replace Phillips as “director.” Gilbert Lavoie comes in from reporting for La Presse to replace Marc Lortie who was posted to Paris.
These are recent changes in the most noticed segment of the prime minister’s staff, the press side. Such changes intrigue reporters as much as those in the ministry.
The notable feature of the new dispositions is the domination of francophones. Bruce Phillips may have been the last unilingual aide to deal with the media for a prime minister.
When you begin recalling press aides to prime ministers several generalities leap forward.
Firstly, a few of them may have been foolish at times (Michel Gratton) or undiplomatic (Bill Fox) or short-tempered (Bruce Phillips) but none was, or is, stupid.
Secondly, no one who has taken up such work has later fallen on hard times. Press aides go forth from the PMO to excellent posts – as senators, ambassadors, vice presidents of banks, the CBC mandarinate, or to top lobby firms.
Many of us in the press gallery never have to deal with the PM’s press people. To those who do and who need a good working relationship, the qualities they seem to prize most are honesty, clarity and quick responses. Ahead of tips!
While neutrality in a press secretary would be appreciated no one any longer expects it.
In the late 1950s when Jim Nelson, a veteran reporter with The Canadian Press, became literally the first regular press secretary to a prime minister (John Diefenbaker) he brought a neutral pose (of course, intrinsic in CP) to the task. He saw himself merely as a conduit or an expediter, not as a persuader on a partisan’s behalf.
The man who followed Nelson when Lester Pearson became prime minister had had scant time in journalism and no neutrality at all. Dick O’Hagan came from advertising in 1961 to serve Pearson, then leader of the Opposition. He helped shape policy and was very much a broker with the parliamentary caucus and the Liberal party as a whole.
O’Hagan was and is a capital “L” Liberal. He was probably the most liked of all the press secretaries before or since. He allayed bristling at his partisanship through a warm personality and courtesy, even for reporters antagonistic to Pearson and the Grits. The courtesy was often recalled recently because the main beefs over both Bruce Phillips and his predecessor, Bill Fox, were abruptness and irascibility.
O’Hagan’s good works for Pearson led Pierre Trudeau to bring him back in 1976 when his own popularity was in shreds. O’Hagan was enjoying a lovely “reward” in Washington. He did not return as press secretary but to a grander title as special adviser. In early 1979 O’Hagan left Ottawa for a vice presidency with the Bank of Montreal. His old title of adviser to the PM was resurrected last week for Phillips as senior adviser.
Romeo LeBlanc, a CBC-French journalist, had followed O’Hagan as Pearson’s press secretary and continued for three years with Trudeau before electoral politics took him to the cabinet and, in time, to the senate. While LeBlanc was rather unobtrusive as press secretary he had it hard because Trudeau had so little patience for press wants.
A later Trudeau press secretary, Peter Roberts, was brought in from external affairs (as Marc Lortie was for Mulroney). Roberts went on to be an ambassador and eventually chairman of the Canada Council. In the PM’s office he was somewhat of a throwback to Jim Nelson in seeing himself as an enabling neutral.
Another Trudeau press secretary, Pierre O’Neil, came from La Presse and went on to executive status in the CBC. In his days many French reporters were anti-federalists and they were often cruel to O’Neil.
Nowadays, scores of the 360-odd gallery members never have need to call or go through the PM’s press secretary. Those who do are bureau chiefs, particularly of TV operations, or reporters assigned the “heart failure” watch. It’s from their experience the rest of us get a sense of how good, bad, or indifferent the press operations are in the PMO.
By midsummer it will be clear whether the fresh francophones are as acceptable as were Lortie and Phillips. My hunch is they will be.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, March 03, 1989
ID: 12286750
TAG: 198903030118
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THE PRIZE AT RAINBOW’S END

TEXT:
Our political week has had an overlay of pathos; pathos in the sense of arousing melancholy emotion.
There was Joe Clark’s address to diplomats from largely Moslem countries, Ben Johnson swinging ever wider in the winds, and Harvie Andre denying there was anything “political” in locating the space agency in Montreal.
Both Clark and the prime minister have had a harsh press since The Satanic Verses controversy broke. The criticism has been most vehement from the liberally minded of our literary and journalistic circles. Have you noted and wondered why the politician-critics have been less vociferous? The critics were shamed by the slow response to the Iranian death threats. They were angry at the recourse to the regulatory process within customs, even though this is routine after a request for an evaluation (this time from Canadian Moslems for an evaluation of Salman Rushdie’s novel).
The critics had expected an instant declaration that Canada stood four-square for freedom of expression. Their moral outrage grew when Canada lagged when other western nations called home their diplomats from Iran.
Pathetic as Clark may have seemed, the real pathos or melancholy is at the critics spouting in contradiction to an ideal most of them have vigorously supported. It is an ideal which all our governments and political parties – in fact, the Canadian people as a whole – have adopted through a series of measures over the past 20 years.
In following the ideal the government had to go cautiously in the Rushdie affair. Even so, it may well be argued by Canadian Moslems that the government has abandoned a national policy in failing to protect their community and their religious beliefs.
It is baffling how the critics have forgotten this Canadian ideal. No other country – unless you count what the USSR has in its constitutional prose – has so taken the lead in what is known round the world now as multiculturalism.
It is a most high-minded policy. It asks of us a tolerance without a durable precedent since the Roman Empire. It began to shape well in our immigration policy in the 1960s and firmed further in our subsequent magnanimity to refugees. Canada has welcomed as residents more refugees (and from more countries) than any other nation.
Our immigration policy found formal elaboration in what the Charter of Rights enshrined about race, ethnicity and religion. And there were advances like cutting the waiting period for citizenship and giving non-citizens the right to sponsor relatives.
In support of both the general ideal and concrete measures, there has been consistent enthusiasm by MPs for all the parties in portraying what multiculturalism means. In particular there’s been a stress on the worth of ethnic heritage. The policy now goes well beyond the ideal of equality between citizens. It declares that each ethnicity, including its language, customs, religion, dress and ethical values, is on all fours with every other. The conventional wisdom of the 1950s about our “two founding peoples” has faded away as our ethnocultural realities have prospered.
Equality is a magnificent ideal. We all stir to the “self-evident truth” in in the U.S. Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal,” or to Abraham Lincoln’s “Fourscore and seven years” speaking of a nation “dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
Equality is a powerful and useful theme for a country’s striving. On reflection, however, we sense how hard is the attainment of equality between citizens. The laws of property and inheritance get in the way. So do wide ranges in income and unequal opportunities for schooling.
Canada has added another dimension to the pursuit of equality. It is nothing less than the acknowledgment of equality between each ethnic group in Canada and the perpetuation of each one.
Most Canadians in public roles have welcomed the progress as we have wiped out distinctions in our immigration, employment and educational practices between groups based on skin color or what has been called “race.” To make this progress more genuine there has been a muting or discounting of any core denominator, that is, of those values and traditions held by those who gave Canada its institutions and developed its politics. Forty years ago politicians spoke proudly of our British parliamentary tradition or of Canada as a Christian country.
What we had has dropped off as multiculturalists pursued ethnoculturalism and it became widely popular. The past was easy to forget because so much of it was filled with narrow bigots – WASPs and red-necks abusing native peoples and immigrants from anywhere but the United Kingdom.
What we were or had been as a nation could not determine what we ought to do collectively. What follows if Canada welcomes people of any ethnicity in the world and guarantees each ethnicity equality for its religion, language and customs? Of course, Joe Clark has to go slowly.
Canada is truly the world’s rainbow. One hue intrinsic in this rainbow radiates from our Moslem community. The Moslems are grievously hurt that Rushdie’s novel is allowed in Canada. They seek a ban on the book. Multiculturally speaking, they are right on.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, March 01, 1989
ID: 12286717
TAG: 198903010132
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

LAST WORD ON FIRST MINISTERS

TEXT:
Impressions left by the premiers’ lunch.
Gary Filmon (46) of Manitoba – callow, shallow, and frightened.
Frank McKenna (40) of New Brunswick – callow, earnest, and fuzzy.
Robert Bourassa (55) of Quebec – clever, long-headed, and keen to every nuance.
David Peterson (45) of Ontario – yup, yup, yupping along in a prematurely greying fashion.
Don Getty (55) of Alberta – an uncluttered mind and a straightforward soul.
Joe Ghiz (44) of P.E.I. – how sweet to have neither sight nor sound of this island potentate.
Grant Devine (45) of Saskatchewan – earnest, serious and unmemorable.
Brian Peckford (46) of Newfoundland – a surprisingly quiet farewell.
John Buchanan (57) of Nova Scotia – the best Senate candidate.
Brian Mulroney (49) is now the chairman of the board. Either he’s been floored by recent viruses or is in transit to a different persona: Muted, aloof, less hyperbolic.
The first cause of the gathering was on full ratification of the Meech Lake constitutional accord. One may be for or against the accord and yet think that we could and may muddle along well without the accord for as long time – like we did for over 50 years with an unpatriated constitution.
The other theme of the luncheon was the dictation by the Bank of Canada of higher interest rates.
Each leader, including the PM, has a heavy, rising, governmental debt load. The service costs of their debts rise with the interest rate. Not one premier, however, spoke in public to this aspect of tight money. If they were to strike an accord to freeze or shave joint federal-provincial spending programs for a year the bank rate would fall sharply.

The topic of women in combat is moot. Three oracles of the human rights commission have ordered the armed services to integrate males and females in all combat units (but submarines) by 1999.
Let me regurgitate some wisdom on the matter. A female authority from a war zone spoke to a gathering in Ottawa last March. Sophie Montenegro took part in the Nicaraguan revolution on the winning side. She disclosed that experience in fighting had shown that a mix of women and men in the same fighting force worked badly. Why? Because many of the men tried to look out for the safety of their female comrades.
As a consequence the the Sandinistas settled for women in combat – but in their own units.
Should we not consider such a split?

To my knowledge the death last week at 88 of King Gordon removes all but Eugene Forsey (84) from the ranks of those credited with the initial manifesto and organization of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) in 1932 and 1933.
From what I saw as a Johnny-come-lately to the CCF (1955) King Gordon was the best liked of all “the founders.” In part this was because of his sunny disposition. He was much less argumentative and not so intellectually cocksure as some of the more famous founders like Frank Scott, the lawyer and poet, Frank Underhill, the historian, and the aforesaid Forsey.
In his late days Gordon seemed best known because of his sportswriting daughter, Alison, and his humorist son, Charles. When I first met he was surrounded by a more beguiling aura of literary association. It came from legend of his still remembered father, Charles (pseudonym Ralph Connor). He was a noted Presbyterian pastor, born in Glengary County, Ontario, in 1860. For a generation he was the top Canadian novelist (three million copies sold). In the worst of all the 20th century wars Charles Gordon shared a national respect with Canon Scott (Frank Scott’s father) as the chaplains in the Canadian Army on the Western Front.

Recently the New York Times has been analyzing in depth the trends of TV and video viewing, focusing on the slow, steady decline of viewers’ share by the big networks.
In a piece last week on the increasingly intense network rivalry for share, an industry consultant, Michael Dent, said this about the basic foundation of a good rating: “What is fundamental and has never changed is that where a show is placed is infinitely more important than the content of the show.”
Of course, the striking Canadian example of this is the English CBC’s The Journal. Its ratings are fine although it has slowly worn away the sense of excitement it cast in its first years. It no longer has a must-be-seen cachet. Where it is placed – in the third and last prime time hour and right after The National – gives the ratings base to which Michael Dent refers.
The Journal has failed to develop a single winning on-air personality. CTV’s Canada AM is much better, consistently, in bringing us people in the news or who interpret it well. The residue merits of The Journal are its now occasional documentaries. Somebody high in the CBC should size up The Journal with the auditor general’s maxim – value for money – to the fore.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, February 27, 1989
ID: 12286392
TAG: 198902270088
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

OUR HEROES UNDRESSED?

TEXT:
What foreigners have to say often gets to us.
Recently in the British Guardian, Simon Fanshawe, a gay English comic, wrote with patronizing wit of a brief turn here, and short-shrifted Brian Mulroney as a politician with “a charismatic bypass.”
In like vein, Louis Rukeyser of the PBS show Wall Street Review, said our PM combined the charm of George Bush with the integrity of Ronald Reagan.
A few days ago a New York Times editorial found our government’s response to the Iranian promise of death for novelist Salman Rushdie slow and inadequate.
A fortnight ago Robert Maxwell, a U.K.-based media tycoon told us how right it was that the Bourassa government had outlawed outdoor signs in English.
Black African leaders keep saying our prime minister and his foreign affairs minister are welshing on their undertakings.
Ralph Nader, the American consumers’ crusader, insists Ottawa is too passive about American corporate takeovers and too gullible on promises about dealing with acid rain.
The global authority on war and peace, journalist Gwynne Dyer, is insisting our defence and foreign policy stances are frozen, as if the Cold War goes on and there’s nothing much of import with Mikhail Gorbachev in charge at the Kremlin.
This sample of outsiders’ opinions is preparation for recent judgments by prestigious British historian, Hugh Trevor-Roper.
In the Sunday Telegraph of Feb. 19, Trevor-Roper comments at length about the late Sir William Stephenson under the title The Faking of Intrepid.
Intrepid died last month, and the historian sets out to answer these questions:
Who was Sir William and what did he do in the war?
(Short answer: He did well for his country and the Allies in both wars but not nearly as much as the legend has it.)
How did he build up his grotesque myth? Why has it been so eagerly accepted?
(Short answers: Spy stuff fascinates most people and “secrecy breeds fantasy.” Also Stephenson engaged and convinced two separate biographers of his greatness.)
Finally, what were Stephenson’s motives?
(Short answer: A blend of being by temperament and occupation a promoter and salesman extended and justified the worth of what he had to say about espionage in the Cold War.)
Years ago from my own contacts I found out that this heroic Canadian from Winnipeg was not quite what his own entries in Who’s Who depicted.
For example, he had not shot down 28 German planes in WW I; his score in RAF records was seven and a fraction.
For example, he had not schooled the agents or master-minded the operations which led to the killing near Prague of the Nazi, Reinhold Heydrich or to the sabotage of a heavy-water plant in occupied Norway.
As Trevor-Roper outlines, Stephenson did good, important work for the Allied cause as a fighter pilot in WW I and in the U.S. in WW II by linking with the emerging American intelligence services (forerunners of the CIA).
Why did he embroider such real achievement by describing himself as “personal representative of Winston Churchill, 1940-1946,” even to providing a biographer with a forged letter to show Churchill set up the relationship in May, 1940?
Such mythic stuff was repeated in many of the obituaries, even, says the historian, to creating major roles for Intrepid in developing television and the jet engine. He was behind the acquisition and use of the famous decoding machine, Enigma. He was master of “the Double Cross system” and “Churchill’s secret emissary to Roosevelt.”
And all through this, “a singularly amiable and modest man who shunned publicity.”
“As for the success of the myth in Canada,” writes Trevor-Roper, “perhaps the best explanation was given to me by a Canadian lady who flatly refused to believe any criticism of Sir William, however well-documented. Canada, she said, was a country without a national hero. Now at last it had found one, and invested in him, and he must not be devalued. To rob a people of its national heroes is a cruel act. It is like robbing children of their cosy woollen bears.”
You and I may well appreciate the lady’s feelings. Ben Johnson is fresh in all our memories. And a lot us recall the shock when the frauds like Grey Owl and Frederick William Grove and Chief Buffalo Child Longlance were disclosed.
Trevor-Roper “cannot believe” that Sir William “was pure fraud.” With Canadian historian David Stafford, he believes that the extravagant and often conflicting claims are “not a complete invention but a story which has got out of control.”
Much, I think, like the now reigning myth that our new constitution with its Charter because three great “guys” got together in a kitchen.
“Outward modesty does not exclude a raging vanity within,” writes Trevor-Roper.
“It got out of control because the occupational disease of fantasy took over and external circumstance – the CIA’s need of a myth, Canada’s need of a hero, a public greed for spy stories – favored its triumph.”
The middle excuse – Canada’s need of heroes – is arguable to Canadians, but one problem with our heroes, at least the political ones, is that outsiders keep undressing them.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, February 26, 1989
ID: 12324194
TAG: 198902260179
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C6
COLUMN: Douglas Fisher, in Ottawa
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THE ISSUES OF LEADERSHIP

TEXT:
Let me precis three conversations about party leaderships with Jean Chretien, Lorne Nystrom and a one-time associate of the prime minister whom I cannot name.
I had called Chretien to ask him to be on a TV program. He declined, nicely. He is not seeking attention as a former or future politician. Yes, he gives talks. In fact, he was named “lecturer of the year” by some group. People are still kind to him. The many who recognize him and spontaneously respond let him know he’s known and he’s liked.
“They say, `We want you back, Jean.’ ”
But this is not the time, he told me, for open discussion about his return, at least with him involved. The Liberal party has its leader, who has not announced his resignation or even said when it may come. So Chretien’s staying out of all the open speculation.
It’s easy within a political party for gossip to fester. Stories harden of schemes and organizations. These he doesn’t want. They smack of disloyalty, something always bothering to Liberals. There are those in the party who criticize him for not being there the past year. Many don’t realize he spoke for Liberals in some 25 ridings in the last election.
In years past I have underestimated both Chretien’s appeal to the public and his grasp of issues. This has warned me to pay close attention to any analysis he has on on what’s up in partisan politics. So I listened well to his response to a view I have about the Liberal situation.
My opinion, given a Liberal leadership race in the next year, was that his main chore in ensuring a romp would be to strike a good accommodation in his policy themes to those of the party’s economic and cultural nationalists.
It seemed to me that: a) The economic nationalists (see Lloyd Axworthy and Herb Gray) had set the policy directions of the present leader and his caucus in the last Parliament; b) in the new caucus the nationalists were in greater numbers and even better placed to firming the party’s line against continentali sm.
Chretien disagreed, heartily. The overwhelming interest was and would be in leadership not policies.
His own problems in his loss in 1984 had had nothing to do with policies. His policy views had been acceptable then, and would be again, if and when the time comes. I was misreading both the party and the caucus. This is a party used to office. Its members are eager to regain office and all that goes with it. And the MPs want so much to be part of the next government. Most of the party delegates and the MPs will be going for the candidate they believe will beat Mulroney.

It happens that in discussing the NDP leadership with Nystrom matters of policy did not come up.
In an electoral sense he’s been the NDP phenomenon, surviving six times on hard ground, after reaching the House first in 1968 at 22. Of course, he ran for the NDP leadership in 1975, finishing third. Today he is near certain Ed Broadbent will decide to stay in the House and lead the NDP through the next election. He says this is what most of the caucus and the party’s members want.
He believes that at 52 Broadbent has lots of years left to give the NDP. He’s demonstrably the most popular leader nationally the CCF-NDP has had. And this is the biggest caucus ever (43 MPs).
Nystrom says there’s neither an obvious alternative of great appeal to members of the party nor any sizable group which wants Broadbent replaced. He explains the post-election fuss from the likes of union leaders Bob White and Shirley Carr as intense frustration. Despite their very hard work, the free trade issue was lost and John Turner, not Broadbent, had been seen as leading the fight.
Once Broadbent’s continuance is assured, Nystrom feels the party must deal seriously with two matters. The caucus is so much weighted to the West it will take constant thought to keep from seeming a regional party. Secondly, there will be a hard, difficult debate before and during the next federal convention on a proposal to separate the party in Quebec into two, federal and provincial. He is not against the idea but its acceptance won’t come easy.

The veteran in Mulroney matters was succinct. Don’t go, he said, for the guff around now that the PM may leave politics during the present mandate. It’s silly. Did you think Dief would leave, except in a coffin? I hadn’t. Well, he said, there are many similarities.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, February 24, 1989
ID: 12286387
TAG: 198902240133
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THE DEBT … AND THE DREAM

TEXT:
Political reporters were surprisingly interested in the latest harangue from a think-tank – in this case the C.D. Howe Institute’s Ottawa’s Next Agenda; Policy Review and Outlook, 1989. In part this was because their normal focus, the House, is out; in part because the reigning wisdom is a fret over deficits-debt.
Of course, the three, fresh-faced young people who wrote the booklet have degress in economics. Their questioners at a Hill press conference have gained the skill from MPs of putting questions which reek with skepticism and opinion. And so the common theme at the gathering was the bootlessness of expecting politicians to cut spending programs and raise taxes. To generalize the economists’ responses, they fell somewhere between the line that this is what we are supposed to do and the expression, “At least we should dream.”
The journalists dream no more. Overwhelmingly they cannot believe the federal government, in Parliament, and led by a man who loves to be liked, can be as brutal with the deficits-debt as economic reality indicates. New mandate or not, the gulf remains between political and economic reality.
The press gallery people know the riot opposition spokespersons will raise if there are substantial spending cuts or any tax increases. Also, they cannot forget how in 1985 the first big proposal to get statutory spending down was abandoned once the uproar rose against it. Nor do they forget how the report recommending major changes in unemployment insurance was buried.
In response to the scanty enthusiasm of reporters the think-tankers plugged away with their agenda. They were presenting useful, reasonable suggestions to meet the hardest political dilemma of our times – the almost crushing burden on merely meeting the interest payments on the still-rising debt of federal, provincial and municipal governments.
They demonstrate in the booklet that although this is a dilemma shared by many countries, ours is worsening and some of the others are getting theirs in hand. In truth, the agenda prescriptions are accompanied with repeated recognitions that Canadians do not want less in social services and they do want much more in both environmental protection and reclamation.
However, when Brian Mulroney took office in 1984 the federal debt was 40% of the gross domestic product (GDP); today it’s 54%. For Ottawa the debt sum is ghosting up past $320 billion.
To appreciate the grim scenario let’s isolate one federal spending figure. This year the interest on the federal debt, all by itself, is $32 billion. And this is 25% of what Ottawa is spending this year.
“To sum up,” says the institute, “the budget deficit, at 4%-5% of GDP, is still too high; it is mostly structural; public debt is a substantially larger burden on the economy than it was in 1984; and combined, federal, provincial and local government debt has risen to a dangerous 70% of GDP. For these reasons, Canada is in poorer fiscal health in 1989 than it was in 1984.”
The young economists concede the good effects from remedial policies will take years. They suggest a goal over the parliamentary mandate of halving the annual deficit; i.e., getting it down from about $28 billion this year by some $4 billion each year through 1992.
“The most acceptable strategy for reducing the budget deficits involves a balanced program of expenditure restraints and revenue increases.”
In short, cut down programs and raise taxes. And there are suggestions on how not to spend about $2 billion a year, as follows:
“ . . . expenditure reductions of over $1 billion . . . in the economic development envelope . . . by scaling back subsidies to business . . . the Industrial and Regional Development Program, the Special Canadian Grains Program, the Canadian Dairy Commission and a variety of transportation subsidies.
“ . . . considerable savings – at least $1 billion annually – could be achieved by extending the period over which Canada seeks to achieve defence and foreign policy objectives.”
The institute agrees the most savings (by not spending) could be made in reducing or narrowing the application of social welfare benefits. This year almost $30 billion goes for “personal safety net expenditures -unemployment insurance, pensions, family allowances, and Canada Assistance Plan expenditures.” The booklet insists there should not be reductions in the amount of social spending. However, “comprehensive reform – with participation by the provinces – will be required . . . Such reform cannot be accomplished overnight.”
Over to the revenue side. The Howe group sees two broad options: General tax increases and privatizing of Crown assets and operations.
By privatizing more Crown corporations the deficit could be reduced by $3 billion a year by 1993.
Let me leave for your reflection what the Howe institute suggests in tax increases.
Raise personal tax rates one point, for $3.3. billion more a year.
Raise corporate rates one point, for $600 million more a year.
Add one point to existing sales tax rates, for $1.1 billion more a year.
It’s all easy to say, but hard for politicians to do.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, February 22, 1989
ID: 12286363
TAG: 198902220107
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

OTTAWA AWASH IN IRONY

TEXT:
Ah, the ironies! Although the prime minister deprives us of the daily question period there have been lots of other vignettes in this political week.
Think over why Jeanne Sauve is in Tokyo with President George Bush. Or chuckle at the Gallup which makes Pierre Trudeau the favorite choice as next Governor General. Of course, he would like the expense account.
Some MPs, particularly Tory ones, have been “funning” over the TV images of Otto Jelinek speaking as master of our book censors.
Surely you have also noted that a provincial inquiry seems to be advocating a form of apartheid – separate policing and separate courts for native people in Ontario.
We have also learned an NDP axiom from the mail which is pouring in to Ed Broadbent, asking him to carry on as leader. Nothing succeeds in the NDP like failure.
Inspired by a federal mandarin, an Ottawa committee has demanded the chairman of Air Canada drop Jean Wadds from his board of directors for belonging to the Immigration Association of Canada, allegedly a “racist” group.
And, best of all for voluminous bemusement, the Canadian Human Rights Commission has met anticipations and is requiring the Armed Forces to fit women into combat units.
What’s most ironic about the combat ukase is the rider that such integration need not extend to submarine crews. Surely a lack of privacy in a submarine is a poor excuse for leaving this gap in women’s rights.
How much privacy is there in a tank, or a bunker, or a slit-trench? And why give the services 10 years to carry out such integration?
Already feminists are complaining, as they should, that the order should have set out quotas, year by year, so that the progress toward 50-50 could be monitored.
The services have known quotas since the early 1970s when Ottawa sanctioned a bilingual imperative ensuring the rise in military by francophones through measurable stages.
Also, the integration order didn’t address companion discriminations in service employment suffered by visible minorities, native people and the handicapped.
The order is, however, another boost for House committees. Every conceivable social and economic discrimination was addressed by what we now see as one of the most influential reports ever.
My reference is to Equality for All, the report of the House committee on equality rights (October, 1985), chaired by Tory Patrick Boyer and shared by such aggressive MPs as NDPer Svend Robinson and Liberal Sheila Copps.
The government has acted on many of the committee’s recommendations:
Wider maternity and parental benefits;
The end of discrimination in the RCMP and the Armed Forces against homosexuals in their ranks;
Permanent residency in Canada rather than citizenship being enough for entry to government employment or in sponsoring family-class immigrants;
All Crown agencies and private corporations doing business with the federal government having to open their jobs to reasonable numbers of applicants from visible minorities and the handicapped.
And now the committee has won full integration of women into the Canadian Forces.
Such moves all seem to be in line with Canadian opinion and they confirm another irony we should be getting used to – that the Mulroney government is far from conservative on cultural and social issues. For example, it has not regressed to the old, softer views of women as a weaker or gentler sex. It recognizes what is now so obvious: That females can be as ruthless in war as they have proven to be as politicians. It seems brute strength is almost irrelevant in modern war, and by and large women seem superior in stamina, endurance and longevity. Of course, the gold medals of Linda Thom and Susan Nattrass attest how accurately women can shoot.
All in all this “new” integration of the forces (do you recall the old one, Paul Hellyer’s?) fits with both developing unisex in style and dress and the full legitimacy of overt, practising homosexuality in both genders.
One would hope, even pray, that the influence of gender may save Jean Wadds from the powerful forces unleashed by the Charter of Rights and official multiculturalism. So far no minister of the Mulroney government has spoken out for her. This will seem ironic to some, pitiful to others. Why so? Consider her work in Parliament and for her party. Reflect that this woman, aged 68, was for 10 years a PC MP, five years national secretary of the PC party, a former high commissioner to the U.K. and on the Macdonald commission on the economy.
Wadds has been labelled as too racist to serve, part-time, on Air Canada’s board. By whom? By an authority on racism!
The initiative came from one John Samuel, now director of race relations for the federal department of multiculturalism.
Jean Wadds, OC, told me two years ago about helping to form the Immigration Association of Canada, largely to get better chances for English, Irish and Scottish immigrants. Isn’t it ironic that a multiculturalist official, serving Tory minister Gerry Weiner, demands she be ferreted from Air Canada for such an association. How we progress!

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, February 20, 1989
ID: 12286298
TAG: 198902200097
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

ROOKIE GRITS IMPRESS GRAY

TEXT:
Herb Gray, the deputy leader of the opposition, is the dean of the House (1962-1989) with experience in nine previous Grit caucuses. He cannot recall a larger influx of able talent than he is now trying to fit into House roles.
Gray wouldn’t single out any one MP in particular but he can hardly hide his relish at having two confident, articulate native MPs: Ethel Blondin from the Western Arctic and Jack Anawak from the Eastern Arctic. It seemed implicit from what he said that he expects some fresh MPs who are now hardly known beyond their ridings and regions to be the stars of the party’s lineup when it goes into the next election.
In reference to the famous or infamous Rat Pack, Gray said most people missed the point that their emergence to notoriety had an accidental quality. Each of them had been assigned critic roles which happened to explode because of issues and governmental blunders. That is, the Rat Pack did not so much aim for glory but have it come to them.
Gray agreed that for some of the veteran MPs of the last caucus, both the behavior and the attention drawn by the Pack had been embarrassing. He saw some affinities with the development of his own parliamentary experience and viewpoints in Don Boudria whom he sees as certain for House longevity and prominence.
The deputy leader regrets that so many of his MPs are frustrated because there isn’t a sitting ministry to assault daily. Further, the long interval is keeping several possible leadership prospects from showing what they have on their feet in the roughest forum.
In response to my assumption he would have to be neutral in the leadership race Gray said this was something he was mulling over. He could see some sense in neutrality but . . . On his record, he would want to back an aspirant who took a strongly nationalist position in economics.
Gray agreed major responsibilities as economic critics had been given to two “come-backers” from the 1984 defeat, Roy MacLaren and Jim Peterson (the premier’s brother.)
MacLaren, the MP for Etobicoke North, has been given what may be the plum, or what may be a thornbush. He is to match up against Finance Minister Michael Wilson.
Aside from his stint as minister (conflict of interest) MacLaren has been publisher of the magazine Canadian Business since 1977. Before publishing he was a CEO of an advertising firm, before that a Massey-Ferguson executive. before that a foreign service officer, and with all this a graduate of Cambridge and Harvard who seems to have “majored” in history, especially of the British aristocracy.
Gosh, his particulars read more impressively than those of his greatest political hero, Pierre Trudeau.
One wonders whether rival partisans like Michael Wilson will bother to read and use for debate and rebuttal material a book Maclaren wrote and had published in 1986, titled Honorable Mentions; The Uncommon Diary Of An MP.
It’s an odd composition, part diary, part latter-day summations. It has much that is personally revelatory, often to a reader’s embarrassment, and a great deal that’s fudging or a kind of dated Zena Cherry gallop through cocktails and dinners, grand hotels, castles, estates and quiet English country lanes and gardens, all the prose speckled with French phrases.
The prime stuff of interest to partisans is Maclaren’s overweening condescension towards those politicians “below the salt”. That is, Conservatives, New Democrats, and those pitiful Social Crediters. MacLaren harks back to a Grit giant few can forget. Jack Pickersgill was also forward like MacLaren in tagging himself as a genetic Liberal. Of course. And a Liberal of a sort even higher than Pickersgill (who always pleads poor) he’s a Liberal with money.
MacLaren limns Brian Mulroney as vacuous and uneducated, and without any real ideas about public policy. Joe Clark is wimpish, naive, and hypocritical; Perrin Beatty is incorrigibly self-righteous; Wilson, a witless waffler.
MacLaren is almost as superior to some of his Liberal colleagues. Gene Whelan, John Munro, and Bryce Mackasey are too plebeian to count much with him.
Intimations in phrases like the following suggest Maclaren could be a juicier target for ministerial counter-attack than even Sheila Copps, and at least she has her screeches as defence. As he wrote:
“I do not speak well in the House – or elsewhere for that matter. Stodgy, pedantic, heavy.”
Maclaren wrote of shifting to the government side in 1980:
“How much more agreeable it is to be on the government side of the House than in opposition. Those two months on the left of the Speaker were sterile, even infantile . . . ”
Of the night of the Liberals’ electoral debacle in 1984, MacLaren wrote: “Early in the evening I was afraid that I would lose; later in the evening, when I realized just how devastating our defeat across the country had been, I was afraid that I might win and be condemned to another draught of that awful Opposition vinegar.”
Honourable Mention didn’t stir fire when published. Now it could. The precious snobbery in it recalls another book of 1986. Telling Lies, by John Fraser, then a failed columnist with the Globe, now editor of Saturday Night. The magazine, of course, is owned by Fraser’s school chum, Conrad Black, and of course, MacLaren also circles in Conrad’s constellation.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, February 08, 1989
ID: 12286291
TAG: 198902080102
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

TOO LATE NOW FOR REVENGE

TEXT:
What honoring does Canada owe Japan in the ceremonial funeral of Emperor Hirohito? Officially . . . some!
But some Commonwealth politicians deny there should be honoring. For them Hirohito deserved death with his top advisers and generals, hanged for war crimes in 1948. However, the debate to our south is slight. It was Washington which determined Hirohito should not be a war criminal, largely because his continued presence would help ensure Japan forsook aggressive militarism.
The long stretch between death and funeral is re-awakening interest elsewhere in those responsible for the Pacific side of World War II and its excesses. But Canadians seem hesitant to review this old topic or to debate if Canadian leaders should be at the funeral. There isn’t any surge of anti-Japanese feeling here, rather, a reluctance to get into the issue except among those over 60 who know of the brutal treatment of our troops and civilians at Japanese hands.
There may be uneasiness in Ottawa. Brian Mulroney isn’t going to Tokyo. But no one of any party here seems ready to raise Cain because the Governor General and a cabinet minister will attend the funeral.
The forebearance against resurrecting bad times has one oddity. Why? Just last year all MPs clubbed together to rejig an episode of alleged malfeasance in the Pacific war. Up to $400 million is to go to those of Japanese stock removed (legally) from the B.C. coast in 1942.
Although Mulroney will not be in Tokyo, George Bush will be. His going ruins an official line to explain both our representatives and, in Britain, the attendance of the Queen’s consort. The line was that Hirohito was merely a constitutional monarch, not a participant with a “power” role in Japan; therefore it was proper for the top Canadian and British figures to be those we have for show, not for real.
(Note: In the foregoing paragraphs I did not use the word “Jap” but the word “Japanese.” Forty years ago it would have been Jap. Why no longer? Because it’s not nice, not the Canadian way. Jap was once both the headline’s word and an instant simile for a brutal enemy. Now Canadians take Jap as being offensive to another people, much as words like squaw and Uke are.)
Keith Spicer, the editor of the Ottawa Citizen, has clarified the question of whether “Hirohito was a war criminal or a quiet hero who tried to restrain his nation’s war-mongers.”
Spicer thinks our veterans are entitled to their anger and grief because the emperor is “forever branded in their souls, as their enemy, but historians and the rest of us should get it right. Hirohito, for most of his life, was a powerless cipher. When briefly, he acted on his own, he did some things we should respect him for.”
Spicer is ill-read if he thinks most historians of the Pacific war see Hirohito as “a powerless cipher.” If this was so why was Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the American in charge of the occupation forces and Japan’s reconstruction, determined Hirohito should not be prosecuted but kept in place?
One recent book (1987) deals a lot with Hirohito’s role. It is by Arnold Brackman, The Other Nuremberg, subtitled “The untold story of the Tokyo war crimes trials.” It shows Hirohito went to MacArthur after several score of his generals and ministers were arrested, preliminary to indictment for war crimes. He sought “to bear the sole responsibility for every political and military decision made and action taken by my people . . . ”
MacArthur had orders from Washington not to indict Hirohito or let him be a witness in court. Several biographies of MacArthur show he thought unrest leading to violence would ensue in Japan if Hirohito were indicted and tried. In fact, he advised the Allies another one million occupation troops would be needed. Both this estimate and Hirohito’s readiness to bear responsibility for Japanese actions in the war indicate he was far from a ceremonial cipher.
At the Tokyo war crime trials the Americans who led the prosecution (before a panel of judges from the Allied countries) rebutted Australian arguments for indicting the emperor by depicting him as a “figurehead in both theory and practice.” But well after the trial, the top American prosecutor agreed that “strictly legally Emperor Hirohito could have been tried and convicted because under the constitution he did have the power to make war and stop it.”
The Japanese surrendered when the emperor finally decided all was lost and spoke out for peace. As I read the histories, the case is strong that Hirohito had identified fully with the economic and military conquests of Japan and that he had known about several of the most brutal acts of his leaders and forces. He wasn’t indicted, tried, convicted and hanged with the seven who were because the Americans made a calculated decision at the highest level he was worth more alive and in place.
It was a decision not unlike the one our King government made in 1942 that Japanese ethnics must be ousted from the coast. Then, it too seemed expedient and sensible.
Canada officially approved that Hirohito be passed by for trial. And his continuance turned out to be a key step for Japan from ignominy toward its economic hegemony today. To recall his career may remind a few us of uncompensated suffering by Canadians . . . not quite the same as arguing a decision taken 40 years ago.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, February 03, 1989
ID: 12740865
TAG: 198902030110
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

QUESTIONABLE CABINETRY

TEXT:
Question: Were the six new ministers the best available to Brian Mulroney from his 130-odd ordinary MPs?
Answer: No. Not in demonstrated ability. Not in electoral and parliamentary experience. There would be a score or more MPs to match or over-match most in this half-dozen. Further there are six or eight Tory parliamentarians with over a decade of House experience who were passed by -again – for fresher people.
Of course, Mulroney has to allow for location and gender, and in such terms the six additions are sensible. Alan Redway in housing and Bill Winegard in science and technology may well be brilliant appointments. The potential is there.
The risky but worthwhile choice was Kim Campbell, the Vancouver refugee fresh from Bill Vander Zalm’s provincial caucus. She has affinities in style and forthrightness with Pat Carney and John Crosbie – tough but dangerous. She’ll find it hard being No. 2 in native affairs to a Francophone No. 1. Indian problems are more serious in the West, especially in B.C., than in Quebec.
Mary Collins, as back-up minister in defence affairs, represents a victory for sunny persistence over derision and gossip over her mannerisms and associations. She’s a stayer, and she is like Flora MacDonald in not being afraid.
Q: What about the new pair from Quebec?
A: It seems to me reaction in the English media has been slight. largely because its reporters are overwrought on Lucien Bouchard and his support of Premier Robert Bourassa on the signs law. The two new ministers are dissimilar in the sense that Jean Corbeil, given labor, has been a major municipal politician in the Montreal region whereas Gilles Loiselle, made No. 2 to Mike Wilson in finance, is a roving figure who won first notice in journalism, then great respect for his work representing the Quebec government abroad.
I think he’s the pick of this intake, an opinion formed from watching him serve Quebec in London in 1981.
Q: Who or what interests or regions got a bad deal through not getting chosen for cabinet representation?
A: It’s silly to harp on should-have-beens, but any of at least six Alberta backbenchers would grace this cabinet. Alberta has had short shrift. Also Ontario and Quebec farmers go short. So does the huge region of Northern Ontario. There might well have been two or three more women chosen, in particular, one or two from the Prairies. And, both symbolically and pragmatically, it would be inspiring if the first treaty Indian MP were in the cabinet (Willie Littlechild – Wetaskawin).
Q: What significant shifts have not been much noticed since the shuffle?
A: All the liberally minded folk, so strong in and around Toronto, are reading either personal revenge or an ideological slant in Mulroney passing by David MacDonald (Rosedale). Well, the predecessor MP, David Crombie, was never an asset to the PM and at least six other Tory MPs from Metro, aside from Alan Redway, would have had noses out of joint if the new Toronto minister were a P.E.I. retread.
Anyone who thinks the MacDonald thing pivoted on ideology hasn’t realized that Mulroney is to the left of his caucus and most of his cabinet. It takes a diviner to read this cabinet or its predecessor as conservatively minded in the American sense of liberalism-conservatism.
It’s a worn theme of mine that since TV’s advent governments go up and down largely on what they show in the House of Commons. Mulroney knows his last mandate was almost gone, and that it turned around after Don Mazankowski and Doug Lewis took over House affairs from Erik Nielsen. Maz stays as the pivotal minister of cabinet operations and, while Lewis won a boost to justice, he retains the House leadership.
Note who replaced Lewis. Young Jean Charest (youth and sport). It seems to me Mulroney has had an eye to his own succession for several years and Charest is one of four or five in the cabinet whom he sees as a possibility.
I would wager the PM sees his eventual successor being one of Perrin Beatty, Barbara McDougall, Mike Wilson, Benoit Bouchard and Charest. Charest’s new House chores are onerous, especially so for a man just 30. Hours and hours ahead of him of listening, brokering deals, and soothing egos. But if he does it masterfully what a great apprenticeship for the highest office.
Q: As a long-time voyeur of cabinets, what most pleases you and what most bothers you about this edition?
A: It seems to me Mulroney has three likely threats to stable government in his cabinet, John Crosbie, Bouchard and Marcel Masse. The latter two are ignorant of English Canadians. Crosbie is what he is: A big plus one day, a big minus the next. Bouchard is open and flawed like Crosbie, whereas Masse is more a force which by his very nature foments hard feelings through cabinet and caucus.
If I’m uneasy about this trio, Sen. Lowell Murray’s cabinet role just offends me. Why does the PM keeps something so important as constitutional affairs largely in the hands of a senator and, at that, one who can never be a popular public personality?
The pleasing aspects? Bill McKnight in defence. Frank Oberle in forestry. Mazankowski still at the centre of it all and Wilson still at finance.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, January 20, 1989
ID: 12739304
TAG: 198901250092
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

JUST ONE CRISIS AFTER ANOTHER

TEXT:
How many crises can Canada stand? In the past month the CBC’s The Journal has dealt fulsomely with three Canadian “crises” and elaborated at length on one near or “maybe” crisis and two pending or developing crises.
Where are our leaders as this grim cavalcade has marched into our homes at night? Most of the cabinet, including the prime minister, have been away from offices. Worse, the people’s tribunes are not back in their forum for us for another eight weeks.
Perhaps if The Journal maintains the pace, Brian Mulroney will face his responsibilities and call back the MPs. Some of us are lost without the likes of Sheila Copps, John Nunziata and Svend Robinson to follow up on these crises the CBC’s finding.
The Journal’s crises, certain, near or developing, have been:
Quebec’s language issue (signs, notwithstanding clause, etc.);
The health care crunch, signified by waiting lists for major operations of people near death;
The air traffic schmozzles at Toronto which seem certain to spread to other less important centres;
The rising spectre of racism in Canada, e.g., “the black community” vs. the police in Metro;
The near certain precipitation into the tense abortion war here between pro and anti forces of a new catalyst for outrage
– the abortion pill developed in France;
The oil spilled from an American barge which is damaging shores and wildlife and marine beings along the B.C. coast.
There’s much more gossip than substance to hand on who will replace Pierre Juneau as head of the CBC and who will follow Jeanne Sauve as Governor General.
The names being mentioned for the CBC post seem to be these: Patrick Watson, 59, (whom everybody knows); Norman Webster, 47, recently shuffled from heading the Globe and Mail by publisher Roy Megarry; Peter Herrndorf, 48, publisher of Toronto Life, but general manager of the CBC English network, 1979-83; Andre Bureau, 53, for the past five years chairman of the CRTC; Charles Dalfen, 45, a polymath Ottawa lawyer who was CRTC vice-chairman, resigning in 1980 (just after Flora MacDonald made John Meisel CRTC chairman); Robert Fulford, 56, recently editor of Saturday Night and Toronto’s brahmin of culture; and Francis Fox, 49, the Grit minister of communications, 1980-84.
At least all the men except Webster whose names are in the chatter for the CBC lead have had either programming, managerial, or regulatory experience in broadcasting.
However . . . when this list was run past a person inside the leviathan of the government, it got the following response.
There are two top CBC postings, not one, in contemplation (as provided for in Flora’s recent bill which almost made it into law). The priority, by far, is for a proven corporate manager, not for the other post which would be more esoteric, for planning and with a public relations’ bent. It is desirable that whoever gets the managerial role not have a public reputation of antagonism to the CBC or be known as an overt Tory partisan.
There is another CBC story being gossiped. Several western cabinet ministers and a half-dozen Alberta MPs want a review in the next month of the decision Flora MacDonald announced last fall clearing the CBC to go ahead with its planned 24-hour news channel. Subsequently, the start-up was delayed until the fall by worries cable companies have over billing problems.
The CBC jobs are far more interesting to those in media and politics than is the post of Governor General. But the latter has far more of the public speculating. No one name seems mentioned more than the others, and there have been some dandies – like novelist Robertson Davies or wheelchair champion Rick Hansen. Most of those really concerned about the office usually get round to hoping for one of the royal princes.
There are two different “drafts” getting underway in the NDP. One, really caucus-based though hardly caucus-centered, will press Ed Broadbent to carry on. Impetus for this comes from those who think none of the certain aspirants would do as well for the party. One refers here to MPs Dave Barrett, Lorne Nystrom and Steven Langdon, and Canadian Auto Workers’ boss Bob White.
The second draft will be more subterranean and subtle, largely from outside the caucus. The object has often declared his unwillingness. Of course I refer to Stephen Lewis, who hasn’t anything like a match in the party today as speechmaker and headline grabber.
A recent Gallup poll on Ontario illustrates how dicey leadership prospects are. In 1982 when Bob Rae moved from the House of Commons to leading the NDP in Ontario a lot of New Democrats believed he would be back some day as national leader, maybe the first NDP prime minister.
Now it’s moot how long Rae lasts in Toronto. He’s done as
poorly or worse than the man he replaced, Mike Cassidy. Although Rae is “leader of the official opposition” and the third party leader, Tory Andy Brandt is a temporary fill-in, Rae’s NDP has fallen to a poor third in the latest poll. If you watch the Legislature’s question period on TV you’ll get an inkling why Rae’s down and Brandt’s up. Plain guy beats prissy guy!

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, January 16, 1989
ID: 12739298
TAG: 198901160100
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

MUCH ADO ABOUT CABINET

TEXT:
Now the PM’s back to Ottawa, there’s much ado about cabinet. Brian Mulroney has 33 ministers, including himself. He’s had as many as 40 ministers. It is assumed the refashioned one will be less than 40, say 37 or 38.
Why assume so? I do because the PM told me last year he wanted a smaller cabinet. He wasn’t more specific.
To see his task, one must wrestle with much data, much stemming from latter-day cabinet “reorgs” of Pierre Trudeau.
In short form, today the government has 21 of what we used to call “line” departments – like agriculture, health and welfare, national revenue – and perhaps 21, certainly 19, of the so-called ministers of state.
The counting doubts come from ministers made responsible for Western economic diversification, Atlantic opportunities, and, in effect, for seconding the House leader.
At present 12 ministers have doubled responsibilities (e.g., as acting ministers). Two are tripled up: Don Mazankowski as deputy PM, House leader, and minister of agriculture; Lowell Murray as Senate leader, acting minister of communications and minister of state (federal-provincial relations).
Most of the newish flood of ministers and functions has come through the ministers (state).
A minister of state is generally ancillary and an aide or secondary minister, say for: science and technology; grains and oilseeds; seniors; employment and immigration; forestry; federal-provincial relations; youth; fitness and amateur sport; finance; small business and tourism; Indian affairs and northern development; House affairs; multiculturalism; treasury board; agriculture; international trade; housing; and transport.
As I write there aren’t rumors about any of the 32 ministers being dropped. Past favorites of such stories like Tom Siddon (fisheries) and Paul Dick (associate, defence) were enhanced when the election took away neighbouring PC alternatives.
Two candidates for the axe among anglo MPs and reporters have been Marcel Masse (EMR) and Monique Vezina (state; employment and immigration) and state (seniors).
Vezina is tipped because she seems so grandmotherly (she is, but she’s just 53). Masse is just an unpopular egotist.
The reality is that no one knows if the PM has a scunner against any of the 32 nor whether any have told him they’d like another role. If Mulroney keeps all 32, it probably means only five or six new ministers. At most he’s unlikely to drop more than two. If he should escalate to 40 again and also drop two, it would mean 10 new ministers. (This seems too high.)
The present ministry has only four women: Vezina, McDougall, Landry, and Martin. Watch for two more. Provincially the cabinet breaks like this:
Quebec 11 (Mulroney, de Cotret, B. Bouchard, L. Bouchard, Masse, Vezina, Cadieux, Charest, Landry, Weiner, and Blais);
Ontario 10 (Beatty, Wilson, Jelinek, McDougall, Murray, Dick, Hockin, Lewis, McDermid, and Martin);
Alberta 3 (Clark, Mazankowski, and Andre); B.C. 2 (Siddon and Oberle);
Man. 2 (Epp and Mayer);
N.B. 2 (Merrithew and Valcourt);
N.S. 1 (MacKay);
Newf.1 (Crosbie;
P.E.I., Yukon, and Territories 0.
Without PC MPs, P.E.I., Yukon, and the Territories won’t have a minister unless Mulroney goes to the senate.
Already at 11, it’s hard to see Mulroney adding more than three to Quebec’s lot. One near cinch is Gilles Loiselle, an MP from the Quebec City region who made such a name as the province’s agent in the UK; another mentioned is a former high, provincial bureaucrat, Benoit Tremblay.
Ontario must have at least two more ministers and might even get four. Metro will get at least one, perhaps two, probably from Alan Redway, Don Attewell, Barbara Greene or Patrick Boyer.
Northern Ontario needs one and there’s only one PC MP, John MacDougall. South west Ontario needs one for sure, maybe two, and Murray Cardiff or Bill Winegard are fair bets.
Central Ontario and Eastern Ontario have one and two ministers respectively, Doug Lewis, and then Paul Dick and Lowell Murray. Of the few Tories in eastern Ontario only maverick Bill Domm of Peterboro is a strong personality. One of two new MPs is a fair bet: Ross Stevenson, 46, from Durham, a recent Ontario agriculture minister; Rene Soetens held onto Ontario riding, a doughnut around Oshawa.
The Manitoba problem is succinct, two ministers from outside Winnipeg and only one Tory MP from the city, a new one, Dorothy Dobbie. Should she be thrown in to Lloyd Axworthy’s Winnipeg wolves or should that pack be left to Jake Epp? Probably Dobbie in two years, if she shows well as an MP.
Saskatchewan’s like Manitoba, not much choice for a minister to go alongside Bill McKnight. The bets are either newcomer and only Tory urban MP in the province, Larry Schneider of Regina, or Len Gustafson, steady as the PM’s secretary.
Alberta has three strong ministers but might get another from a good choice of able MPs such as Jim Hawkes or Blaine Thacker.
B.C.? At least one to come, maybe two. Probably either or both of Mary Collins or Kim Campbell.
There! Reorg your own cabinet or wait a few weeks.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, January 11, 1989
ID: 12739144
TAG: 198901110067
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

GRITS NEAR BANKRUPTCY?

TEXT:
There are disparate tales around about the debts of the Liberal party. You’ll recall that as the recent campaign began figures from Grit officials cited the party as owing Canadian banks from $4 to $6 million.
The smaller figure was the hard one. The $6 million was what it would reach in getting underway the campaign.
Since Nov. 23 several stories on the wires, provided by Liberals, told of a cash surge in contributions in the campaign, notably after the leaders’ debates on TV. And so the party as a collectivity with a mind-set is no longer worrying much over its debts. These, it is said, are no greater than at the campaign’s start.
The disparity comes from the contrary tale of Liberal debt.
An identical line came to me from two different sources, one a high-rank Tory who chats at the presidents’ level with bankers, the other an executive with a large trust company.
The Tory chortled about “the pending bankruptcy.” The executive was disturbed. But their figures were identical: The Liberal party’s debt to the banks is between $10-$11 million dollars. Neither thinks the Liberals can borrow enough to plan and carry out a major leadership campaign and convention without an earlier, intense public drive for funds to reduce the current loans.

Consider the recent decision of the federal ministry to apologize and pay several hundred million dollars redress to Japanese-Canadians for their internment in 1942. Has this any significance in the stew brewing a bit here, but much more elsewhere in the Commonwealth, about formal, national representation at the funeral of the late Emperor Hirohito?
It might, if governments were consistent.
In effect, and in the language used, the apology and redress are for wrongs done Japanese Canadians by a former Canadian government and by the WW II generation of Canadians – particularly British Columbians.
We still have several thousand Canadians alive who suffered in brutal captivity under the imperial orders of Hirohito, in most cases much more than the Japanese Canadians in their internment here. To my knowledge there has not been redress to these Canadian victims from the government of Japan.
It would be consistent, therefore, if our government insisted on such redress, demanding that the current Japanese government pay for the hurts caused by its predecessor in WW II and act accordingly.
Consistent but nonsensical. We can’t so treat a nation whose auto plants we seek. But it’s the kind of nonsense which stems from hindsight. We chastise those who have gone before us for not acting properly by our lights or as we believe we would do with our superior awareness of both rights and wrong.

The Speaker’s office has published a photo album of the members of the new House. In skimming its alphabet arrangement it hit me how few were long familiar faces.
I knew retirements or defeat had wiped away the last MPs from the electoral crops of 1957 and 1958 (the year of the Diefenbaker sweep). So I began noting the veterans of 20 years and more left in the House. They total just 16 out of 295.
Two are from 1962: Liberals Herb Gray and John Turner (out, however, for nine years).
One is from a 1964 by-election: Montreal Liberal Marcel Prud’homme.
Five are from 1965: Liberals Warren Allmand and Len Hopkins; Tories Pat Nowlan, Bill Scott and David MacDonald (out for eight years).
Eight come from 1968: NDPers Ed Broadbent, Les Banjamin and Lorne Nystrom; Liberals Charles Caccia, Maurice Foster and Bob Kaplan; Tories Don Mazankowski and Steve Paproski.
So there remain 16 MPs from the House of 265 MPs elected two decades ago. It’s survival of a mere 6%, an indicator of much attrition and the brevity of careers in federal politics. After this dour reflection my mind jumped to the other occupational role so ancillary to politics: Political journalism in Ottawa. So I examined the annual lists of the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery Association.
In 1968 the press membership totalled 122 persons or less than half the number of MPs. Today, the press gang is greater than MPs, about 340 to 295. Granted, about a 100 of such “press” are producers, cameramen and other technicians.
Of the press members in 1968, some 12 of the 122 are still on the gallery list but six of them are either honorary or in semi-retirement – not consistently writing or broadcasting.
Of the six still grinding, all are print-centered and five are columnists: Charles Lynch, freelance; Stewart MacLeod, Thomson; Bill Wilson, Sifton; Lubor Zink and myself, Toronto Sun.
The non-columnist is Gerard McNeil, then as now with The Canadian Press. By my knowledge some 23 of the 122 press of 1968 are dead, at least 30 are retired and another score work for government departments or agencies.
So from 1968 just six working press are left on the Hill; and 16 MPs! In percentage a shade less of press than politicians. However, a scan of 1958 reveals the name of Charles Lynch, still at full toil, outlasting all the politicians of that year.
My main point is that neither politicians nor those who cover them are around each other for long.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, January 09, 1989
ID: 12739007
TAG: 198901090043
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

AN ENTRY FOR TOP AWARD

TEXT:
Here are notes on three recent books which touch on government and politics and which have not drawn much in reviews. I recommend each highly.
Dale Thomson, a 65-year-old university teacher of history, was a biographer of Louis St. Laurent. Once a Liberal executive assistant in Liberal Ottawa in the St. Laurent-Pearson period, Thomson went back to Quebec and teaching. He’s as dexterous bilingually as you get, and Vive Le Quebec Libre, just published by Deneau, is a most thorough, entertaining piece of history writing.
The book split into fascinating elements: (a) the career and character of Charles de Gaulle, clearly one of the half-dozen great leaders of our century; (b) the historical relationships between French-Canadians and France leading up to the famous utterance of ’67; (c) the utterance’s consequences, diplomatically and in relations between Ottawa and Quebec.
Thomson’s erudition is impressive; so is his bibliography and the feasts of good, plain reportage of persons and incidents. There’s been some remarking in reviewing circles that Jeffrey Simpson’s Spoils Of Power is the short-odds bet for a Governor’s General award. My hunch is Vive will give it a run.

One element in the story of Canadian patronage which Simpson handled so well is boondoggling over contracts for public works. Last year the University of Toronto Press published a fat, well-illustrated book about public works that had literally nothing about patronage and pork-barrelling. But this reader hardly missed such very Canadian tales.
Building Canada; A History of Public Works, edited by William D. Hurst, is a straightforward, useful, even pride-raising, account of the creation under governmental leadership of bridges, roads, railways, canals, dams, sewers, street-car systems, hydro-power stations, even latter-day office towers.
The earlier 19th century works are described and illustrated. Photographs are diverse and apt, awakening one’s appreciation of what has been done. All this gargantuan achievement in design and construction is told sparely. This book’s for you if you want witness to progress of a kind.

Nothing quite breaks right for Nicole Morgan in her authorship. In my lexicon she’s rated as the sharpest woman thinker I’ve met in Ottawa. Yet it’s clear she makes many in official Ottawa uncomfortable. For example, with her latest tour de force, The Equality Game: Women In The Federal Public Service (1908-1987), published by the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women. It seems as embarrassing to its sponsors as her two previous mandarin-rufflers.
I refer to:
(a) Nowhere To Go? Possible Consequences of Demographic Imbalance In Decision-Making Groups In The Public Service, published in 1981 by the Institute for Research on Public Policy;
(b) Implosion: An Analysis Of The Growth Of The Federal Public Service In Canada, published by the institute in 1986.
Morgan is from France. She is candid, incisive, a feminist in her principles, and an expert in demographic analysis and and in the use of computer-stored data bases. Her husband is a foreign service officer with External Affairs.
All three of her pamphlet-books have in essence been critiques of the “con” job given us at irregular intervals since World War II by both politicians in power and by senior mandarins such as clerks of the Privy Council. You may recall such themes as “the finest public service in the world.”
Morgan narrates vivaciously the major ploys with the public service since the Bi and Bi heyday of the late Pearson and early Trudeau years.
First to get more French-Canadians into the public service, notably in the higher postings;
Second to get more women better positioned in terms of rank and income;
Third, to increase the opportunities for entry and advancement in the service for the handicapped and for aboriginal people;
And most recently, to hire and promote in proportions in relation to their numbers those from visible minorities other than our native Indians, Inuit, and Metis.
It has all been most grandiose and idealistic, especially in light of recurring waves of federal austerity and orders to freeze or reduce public service numbers.
In her latest exercise, Morgan details how resolute and ingrained is the resistance – not just among male public servants – to the promotion of women employees. If Implosion literally mocked the lofty pretensions of the Pitfield regime that Ottawa was the place for the brightest and bravest, The Equality Game portrays the commitment to more women as empty, its achievements minuscule and the way ahead slow and dour.
But when the latest Morgan work was unveiled at a rather fatuous press conference late last year, the author and her views were submerged in an overflow of good tidings and optimism about the march of women in the public service. It featured Sylvia Gold, president of the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women.
In brief, Morgan seems to be seen in Ottawa as a brilliant but dangerous analyst. She wades into her research and comes out telling things, indelicately, as they are.
The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1989, SunMedia Corp.

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