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Doug’s Columns Jan-Jun 1990 « Douglas Fisher

Fisher

 

Doug’s Columns Jan-Jun 1990

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, June 22, 1990
ID: 12455742
TAG: 199006220267
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

MY VOTE’S FOR MARTIN

A caller said: “You did a nice portrait of Jean Chretien as a still lively survivor. But if you were a delegate at Calgary, would you vote for him? If not, say why.”
No. My vote would be for Paul Martin Jr. Firstly, he’s fresh, at least for most Canadians; he’s less worn, and carrying less baggage of the past. As yet he’s without the clutch of inside, retainer-types who handle Chretien (such as Eddie Goldenberg, a man I distrust).
Federal Canada needs a prudent head with experience in finance. The sorriest stretch in an otherwise good-to-fine ministerial career was Chretien’s time from 1976 to 1979, first as minister of industry, trade and commerce, then as minister of finance.
There’s little between Chretien and Martin in terms of left-to-right or as exceptional national resources because of any grip in French Canada. Of course, Chretien’s big margin is founded on the attribute most pivotal in leadership matches, especially Liberal ones: Proven campaigning success.

Surely the classiest item in our journalism is “the” national newspaper, The Globe and Mail. Yes? No?
Consider the grand Globe story which shook or enraged those involved in the unfolding constitutional crisis. The story was Mulroney “rolling the dice” with his strategy to hot-house the first ministers in a squeeze of time.
Mulroney was taken as bragging, exulting at his strategy and tactics. All right! The PM did it. It was his brio in words and phrasing.
Four days after the big scoop the Globe measured the reverberating interview in a huge self-advertisement.
This ad centred photos of Mulroney and Wells, side by side. Looped above were cartoon-like balloons of quotes from each. Mulroney’s had the deadly line: “That’s the day we’re going to roll the dice.” The Wells quote was responsive: “It gives the impression that we’re being manipulated.”
And it did.
Below the pictures was the Globe’s self-testimonial headed: WHERE THE DICE ROLL. AND HOW THEY LAND.
This stated that Mulroney “revealed in an exclusive interview with The Globe and Mail Parliamentary Bureau’s Susan Delacourt and Graham Fraser that he had expected the first ministers meeting would come to a climax in the first week of June. What wasn’t a surprise was that Canada’s National Newspaper … broke the story. The Globe has always been in the forefront of investigative reporting, from Jan Wong’s dispatches from Tiananmen Square to Michael Valpy’s examination of the Patricia Starr affair.”
This is more than immodest stuff. It’s nonsense.
Mulroney exposed himself, on his own. It was not your stock interview set up by a reporter. A plea to the PM from William Thorsell, The Globe’s editor-in-chief, got the interview. The first issue of the new-format Globe was due on Tuesday. Please, would the PM clear some time and give The Globe a feature interview?
The PM consented. He may have hungered for more display or a great chance to brag. Whatever his motives, Mulroney was generous. He went beyond the norm to help an editor.
Afterwards, The Globe revelled in Mulroney’s misjudgment and reaction to it, classifying the story and its fallout as putting it “in the forefront of investigative reporting.”
Brag!

Elijah Harper’s demeanor is shy, his speech hesitant. And so some must ferret who masterminded his blockade of discussion on the Meech accord. Is he a puppet of white lawyers or the cat’s paw of some scheming chief?
In nine years in the Manitoba Legislature Mr. Harper had not impressed as either an alert or assiduous member in either the Assembly or the NDP caucus. Some Rupertsland NDPers wanted a new candidate. But Mr. Harper, in a key place at a crucial time became of great use to a group of able Manitoba Indian leaders in the province.
Emphasize “Manitoba” leaders. There are reasons why the province has more aggressive and cunning chiefs than any other province, including past work by one chief from the biggest, most prosperous band in Manitoba, Dave Courchesne of Fort Alexander. Also credit a part to a readily remembered premier, Ed Schreyer.
Dave Courchesne, on the sidelines with kidney troubles, is not known well beyond Manitoba or national Indian circles. He has reminded me of Allan MacEachen: crafty, ironic, with a beaver’s foresight and an elephant memory.
In the ’60s the Roblin government turned Manitobans’ attention north to prospects in metals, pulp, and hydro power. The successor government under Schreyer and the NDP from 1969 to 1977 made it prime policy to meet Indian concerns over such developments. Schreyer went far past other premiers in programs and spending for natives and in getting to know them. His initiatives interplayed well with federal programs and funding.
So began over 20 years with chiefs and councils in Manitoba being around and in the Legislature and government, gaining expertise and hatching aims and arguments. Until a year or so ago the leading Indian thinker was Dave Courchesne. Now a nephew and protege, Phil Fontaine, has come on as a schemer and planner among the chiefs. He has been the Harper “handler.” And Fontaine plans to go further than his uncle – to be National Chief, Assembly of First Nations.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, June 20, 1990
ID: 12455156
TAG: 199006200245
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

TORY KNIVES OUT FOR BRIAN?

A remarkable run for modern politics may be over. At last something absent for over five years is happening. Let’s not be coy – it’s talk within the ruling party that it needs a new leader.
The “run” did not begin with Louis St. Laurent as prime minister. He was almost eight years in the highest office (1956) before some Liberals began to worry over their 73-year old-leader. Should a younger man be considered?
Neither St. Laurent nor the government was wildly unpopular. They had done well in two general elections, so the doubts were muted. Then came the upset loss in the 1957 election. After, the phrase “We’d have run him stuffed” became notorious for its cynicism that a party never drops a winner, no matter how decrepit he’s become.
The phrase was truly callous because St. Laurent had been ready to give up the burden. He was not like John Diefenbaker on quitting Parliament.
Few today remember the incredible popularity of Diefenbaker across Canada in his sweep of the 1958 election. It was national acclaim beyond anything before and its immense swell may help explain its brevity.
The Chief walked on water for about two years. By mid-1960 he was being seen, especially in Eastern Canada, as a poor administrator. By the spring of 1961, three years after the famous victory, there was much speculation about their leader among some Tories and caucus tremors of dissatisfaction.
Last week, for the first time in almost six years, the like phenomenon was palpable about Brian Mulroney. That is, an idea their leader was failing his MPs and ruining their prospects.
Mike Pearson as PM was to retain a greater loyalty from his caucus and party than Diefenbaker, right to his resignation announcement in late 1967. Pearson had nothing like Diefenbaker’s mass popularity and when scandal-mongering exploded over his ministry in his first two years in office so did talk he might quit. He was past 65 and his ministry was heavy with ambitious men.
Eventually Pearson took the cue from the low popularity of his party and himself and from the revival of the rival Tories through the ousting, then the replacement of Diefenbaker. So, after three failures to win a majority, less than five years in office, Pearson withdrew. His party’s cadre sighed with relief and the prime ministers-in-waiting hit the leadership road.
Shortly, Pearson’s surprising replacement won a famous victory. Some six months after it I recall David Lewis of the NDP saying it was far too soon to be openly critical of the new public lion. Pierre Trudeau’s honeymoon lasted several years.
Some may think from Trudeau’s re-elections in 1972 (narrowly), 1974 (handily), and 1980 (most handily, considering his narrow loss in 1979) that he was free from internal dissent or thought of alternatives, and that he was broadly popular. Neither was true.
As early as 1971 a favorite Hill speculation, even among Liberals, was whether Trudeau wanted or could even stand a long haul. Such appreciations were sharpened as his flourishes for “youth” and “participatory democracy” and “collegial government” could no longer disguise a cautious government, in particular without boldness in economic matters. Also Trudeaumania had subsided; and in Western Canada where it had not had a strong run, a great regional hatred was growing, not unlike that held today for Mulroney.
So, barely three years in office, Trudeau was being critically appraised within both his caucus and party. And such critiques of him as both prime minister and party leader never disappeared for long, until the winter six years ago. Then he knew he must go, and did. His successor (though surely not his choice) had less than four months before his days in office were over, success as a leader irretrievable.
Enter Brian Mulroney. Though rather unknown and very green in parliamentary politics, he began office fairly high in public favor across the country. Shortly he began a slide from popular esteem, the ministerial drop-offs of 1985 and 1986 explaining some of this, perhaps reaction to his effusiveness explaining more of it.
Most of you will recall that the Tories were very low in the Gallups for several years before their phenomenal recovery in the “free trade election” of two years ago. Shortly after, down went their stock again, to the lowest state on record for a party (or a prime minister).
Last week the Tories had what I hear was “the rowdiest caucus since Brian arrived.” Although the lightning rod for it was government sponsorship of Nelson Mandela’s visit and his speech to Parliament, not the far more tender matter of mishandling Meech, the plain fact is dissatisfaction has flamed among some PC MPs with their leader. At last!
The locus of the dissatisfaction is those in the House before 1984 who never needed his coattails. A few of them have experience in abetting a party leader’s departure. And so talk has begun – guarded of course, but it’s underway – about successors.
How about Wilson or Beatty or McDougall or Campbell? How about Mazankowski as an interim leader.
Mulroney’s forte has been keeping the caucus happy with him or at least quiescent. Colloquially, his forte may be shot.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, June 18, 1990
ID: 12454655
TAG: 199006180216
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

FIRST NATIONS NEXT IN LINE

For so long our gut dilemma has been over what Quebec wanted. Current tactics by Manitoban aborigines in blocking the Meech accord should give us reason to dig into this other gut dilemma. What do the aborigines want? And who is determining they know what they want and are in fair agreement over it?
Recently George Erasmus – yes, the “National Chief, Assembly of First Nations” – wrote of the concern among many chiefs that “fundamental issues underlying the debate on aboriginal self-government were not being adequately addressed by the non-native community.”
As one appraises native affairs from an Ottawa vantage Erasmus seems right on. Our major politicians, federal and provincial, and the three political parties, have spent little time or thought on what aboriginal self-government means.
This being Canada, everybody is for such self-government, Who could be against it in this freedom-loving country, where concern for underdogs is always high?
But what do the natives mean by it?
And what do the whites who applaud it think it means? Is it `nation’ by `nation’ or does the very organization, “Assembly of First Nations” prefigure a unity of `nations’ which will combine to function through a regularized assembly or native legislature and a government by an array of chiefs?
If there is to be another order of government in Canada -beyond the federal, provincial, and municipal orders – is its reach to be continental? Is it to have a capital? A bureaucratic locus?
Is such an order, in itself to be based on the democratic principle of one aborigine-one vote or by each `nation’?
Is a band and/or reservation membership to be a nation? There are 500 plus bands!
Or is a `nation’ to be tribal – e.g., Blackfoot, Nishka, Ojibway, Iroquois, Cree, Dene, etc.? Or by treaty groups?
There are `chiefs’ of bands as small as a hundred and `chiefs’ of bands or groups as large as five thousand. The bands are far scattered. The some 440,000 aborigines with status are spread unevenly. While almost 60% live most of the time on reserves, the rest (whose percentage has been rising) live in cities, increasingly in big ones like Vancouver, Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg and Toronto.
One can grasp that a Dene Nation with a large land holding in the territories could be constituted and function as a regional government – i.e., some sort of fourth order of government. But how do the urban aborigines exert or delegate their native political rights? Take the 25,000-odd in Metro; within what bands or nations or tribes?
Clearly, changing mores and the lure of city life have led many to sever their entitlements at reservations but this has not extinguished their official status, which rests on geneology. But what right might they have to aboriginal lands or a place at the Assembly?
Recently our politics has been obsessed over conflicts of interest. Surely such conflicts loom with First Nations’ government. When such an order of government is recognized and underway should aborigines keep the right to vote, etc. in federal and provincial politics? Or to receive federal pensions?
Chiefs have been denying since 1867 they are responsibilities of the provinces. They declare themselves wards of the Crown, meaning a unique relationship to the federal government, not to the `crown’ in the provinces. Once this relationship to the `crown’ changes through land settlements and a constitutional right to govern for each and/or all the First Nations it would be a conflict for natives to have this and to partake in our representation and have our rights?
It’s clear from presentations by chiefs to past first ministers’ conferences that their aim is some formalized right of equal participation, not through your or my elected representatives such as Brian Mulroney or David Peterson. We are represented doubly at such gatherings – by a PM and by a premier. Should natives have it three ways? With a constitutionally recognized order of government of their own? With a continuing role in the whole governmental system of Canada?
Remember this. Much of the stuff of federal-provincial relations is about money – financing, tax points, subsidies, paying for shared programs, etc.
Few of the First Nations are rich in cash or liquidities. No matter how grand some nation’s land settlements may be in hectares or `set-aside’ millions, their nexus to the federal government will be fundamentally of moneys.
The First Nations’ roles will not be cheap. Ottawa spends over $4 billion a year on aborginal affairs (not including family allowances or old age pensions). Latest data show some 60% of status aborigines dependent on “social assistance.”
To repeat, the stuff of First Nations-federal relations would be about money: how much, for how long, with what specifics, say on the rentals payable for land and water use by non-natives?
Finally, ponder on a likely aftermath of the Meech schmozzle. Suppose Quebec moves for a different association, even a separation. What would it signify for the First Nations? Or Canada’s responsibilities towards the James Bay Crees or the Caughnawagas?
My contention is implicit in all these questions: the chiefs of the aborigines and our chiefs have thought little and know less what aboriginal self-government is or should be.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, June 17, 1990
ID: 12454396
TAG: 199006170274
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C5
ILLUSTRATION: cartoon by Andy
COLUMN: Backgrounder
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

CHRETIEN’S TRUE GRIT//THE LONG MARCH OF IRON JEAN

It is 27 years and two months since Jean Chretien asked me to show him around the House of Commons. And so began appraisals of him which I have had to adjust more often than of any other politician. Mostly, my case-history on Chretien is of chronic underestimation on my part.
To begin with the Chretien of 1963, I was struck at once by his tense, physical awkwardness and his brutal use of English.
Was this odd fellow another in the scores of almost anonymous backbenchers from Quebec who had sustained Grit governments for 40 years? If so he was far pushier than the stereotype.
And it still is a vivid memory that, as I explained in the chamber at his request where the leaders sat and where he would sit, he fixed me in the eye and told me that he intended to go from “there to there” – from the back row to very centre of the front row. Shortly, 27 years later, he will be there, first on the far side, and then possibly, likely, on the government side.
To appreciate Chretien’s fantastic durability recall these more highly touted Liberal MPs who came to the House the year before him, in 1962 – Walter Gordon, Joe Greene, Edgar Benson, Jack Davis, Bud Drury, Mitchell Sharp, Maurice Sauve, Bryce Mackasey, John Turner and John Munro.
Do you remember his mates in the 1963 intake such as Jean Luc Pepin, Harry Hays, Ron Basford, Maurice Lamontagne, and Guy Favreau? Or the much mooted stars of 1965 such as the trio of Marchand-Pelletier-Trudeau and Bob Andras? Or the fresh Liberals from the Trudeau romp of 1968 like Otto Lang, Jim Richardson, Eric Kierans and Alastair Gillespie?
Not even Laurier, certainly not King, St. Laurent, Pearson, Trudeau or Turner, had such a long prelude in party politics as Chretien before becoming Liberal leader. And, when you savour the reputations and posts of those named above, you catch what a “believe it or not” we have in this rough, plain, ungrammatical, jumpy sliver. A man who won’t read anything beyond several pages; who can hardly stay still for even an hour; who has a compulsion to gregarious chat and kibbitz. And a man who won and has sustained the friendliness of millions whom the late John Diefenbaker would call ordinary Canadians. The man may seem simple but in our politics such simplicity is astounding.
You may think you see a put-down or a patronizing quality in this apparent paen to Chretien’s uniqueness as a politician. No! Anyone, including Brian Mulroney or the lordly Pierre Trudeau, would be a churl to scoff or sniff at Chretien. The three most obvious components for survival have been intense ambition, physical energy and stamina, and cunning estimations of both rivals and colleagues.
What I noticed first, so long ago, was the intense way Chretien listens, then the speed of his mind in ranging over particulars and nuances. Next, he always seems to have an agenda, not for thought but for action. Next, he’s been nigh a kleptomaniac for those who could or can tie him to power or give him knowledge. He may not be original. He certainly is not profound but he finds or takes a brief almost instantaneously.
Many of us forget how early and riskily Chretien placed himself on the federal or Canadian side in the running dichotomy of Canada. The debate still rages and perplexes. It’s been on and off, mostly on, since the the Pearson years and the royal commission on bilingualism and biculturalism.
In early 1966, just after hitching to then-Finance Minister Mitchell Sharp as his parliamentary secretary, Chretien spoke forthrightly IN Quebec that Quebecers wanted higher living standards and a growing economy far more than nurturing their own nationalism, even onto separatism. He asserted that Quebecers knew this meant the government in Ottawa was of prime importance. Even then, 24 years ago, he was tagged for this in Quebec as a “vendu.” The epithet is still used today, yet he still takes the same line.
In reviewing the Chretien file of recent years it struck me how often feature writers and columnists, including myself, have noted the similarities between Chretien and Mulroney – their energy and durability, their gregariousness, their preference for plain, quick action over deep consideration or analytical complexities. They grew up in papermill towns, their families were dependent on the industry. Neither was a whizz at school but each persevered.
Each one as a teenager was already a partisan, each with a fix on law and beyond to a political career. Each revelled in both the backrooms and the halls of politics. Each would speak on an instant and go anywhere for a meeting or a crowd. Neither was a natural at big-think nor a guru whose disciples would spin a particular web of Mulroney or Chretien philosophy. But each, early, and still, wins and keeps buddies. And each has become adroit at finding and using advisors who are content to aid or even semi-manage but not to overshadow or float even a modicum of impression that their ideas or wills are dominant.
Finally, on Mulroney-Chretien, each has about the same place on the spectrum of politics. From left to right, or from heart-bound liberalism to rock-hard conservatism, each is to the moderate left or quite liberally minded on social issues and international affairs. However each is centre or shaded to the right on the economy. Both would keep private enterprise well separate from government and initiate as little in public enterprises as possible. In short, the Liberals are not to be led by any left-wing messiah. just as the Tories are not led by any Thatcherite, however insistent the NDP is that they are.
Chretien as leader must move fast on many fronts. The most imperative one is the caucus. He must take and exert leadership there on the Hill. He cannot put off finding and winning a riding for long.
Because common sense indicates an election call is 28 months to 34 months ahead, a line has emerged that Chretien has more urgent tasks outside the House than in it, leading the official opposition.
The sustaining argument is diverse:
– that his new status and obvious vogue would fade away in daily tussles with Mulroney over several years;
– that the Liberal Party is in desperate need of reorganization, done by the leader, not party officials;
– that Meech has been a fiasco for federalism in Quebec and so Chretien has to tackle sensitive, complex matters there in person, on the premise a leader from Quebec is useless if Quebec is to reject Canada;
– that a poor first in the next campaign is inevitable, given Tory wealth, unless the party’s massive debt is reduced and election financing made certain;
– that membership must be raised by tens of thousands and unified through a centrally directed national party (i.e., abandoning the structure of provincial wings with much autonomy, linked by a federation);
– that Chretien by barnstorming Canada for many months, free of direct parliamentary responsibilities, will be better as a unfier for the nation than he can as a parliamentary wrangler.
These arguments overlook a base factor of our partisan politics: the House, day to week to month, has been and will be the prime focus of domestic politics. Oh, what turbulence is ahead for Canada and Parliament. The House is also crucial because the Liberal caucus is neither small nor tattered. In 1988 it was flushed up by many MPs of quality who do not know Chretien well. He cannot control or shape instant responses and delicate nuances needed in the House through someone like Herb Gray while ranging across the country or managing from a downtown Ottawa office. He must assign responsibilities, dictate priorities, and set the caucus tone.
There’s much surging ambition and an array of ideas or wish-lists in the caucus cast. Perhaps a dozen in it are abler and more knowledgable than the quartet Chretien is about to beat. By mid-winter the parliamentary caucus must have an action-centred boss or swirl will be king of it. And really, that is just what Chretien is – -action-centred.
Chretien’s nucleus cadre is close and protective, notably in his advisors and disciples, Eddie Goldenberg and John Rae. Now in their mid-40s, they were lads when they began scheduling and briefing him. They supervise both policy content and partisan schematics. Goldenberg is very familiar with (and to!) the federal mandarinate and pillars of the federal party. (He’s notoriously bossy and ruthless.) Rae’s more adroit socially and he ties Chretien to business leaders and economic groups. They give Chretien depth.
By some reckoning Chretien has too much time ahead as opposition leader before he can become prime minister. My hunch is he’ll need it, but those who take him lightly or dislike him, should take care. He has rolled on and on while more heralded ones by the dozen have come and gone.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, June 15, 1990
ID: 12453775
TAG: 199006150285
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

MANIPULATING MEECH LAKE

Now, after high political drama, we get allegations on use and abuse by television. Within the media this fades fast. It’s bad form and dumb tactics to attack a competitor. In partisan politics the criticism slackens off, leaving an ever greater, shameless fixation on “making” the screen, especially The National and The Journal.
Recall the fierce debate raised in 1988 over CBC-TV’s revelation of the plot to dump John Turner? Was TV subsuming politics? Was the CBC a colossus out of control in a mission for “you are there” journalism?
Of course, CBC-TV has been a perennial target since its advent in 1952. Last week, however, gave proof that altering technology and boosts to the CBC’s range and speed of coverage has made it by far the prime gatherer and interpreter of politics. Comparing it to, say, CTV, is like putting Ontario beside Manitoba.
In the CBC’s dominance of English-language politics, its primacy with the Mulroneys and their handlers comes from its reach and talents, but particularly from the role of The Journal and, since last summer, the 24-hour service of Newsworld. The latter has married omnipresence to omniscience, and CBC-TV news has jumped far ahead of any metropolitan daily or The Canadian Press.
My sketch is groundwork for a topical letter to the CBC president from John Harvard, a Winnipeg Liberal MP who once worked on air for the CBC. His letter fixes on the CBC and the Meech Lake leaders’ conference.
The bitterness in the media went beyond the regular squeeze-out of print people. There was frustration in private radio, other networks, single-station TV – even in Radio-Canada.
Many CBCers will savor their triumph. Just five years ago the corporation’s people saw a ruthless government underbudgeting them towards inanition, not an institution rising to a status above major dailies and chains and other networks in explaining and evaluating the issues and personalities of a country obsessed with politics.
Harvard is a belligerent sort and his accusation is broad – that the CBC abetted a national disaster scenario. He states:
“CBC coverage of the recent first ministers’ conference . . . fell far below normal CBC news standards.
“Its dismal failure had little or nothing to do with the so-called news bias (Peter Mansbridge, Wendy Mesley, Don Newman, David Halton, Jason Moscovitz and Barbara Frum are first-class journalists). It all had to do with the sheer volume of CBC reporting of the . . . conference and events immediately preceding these meetings. Saturating the air waves served only to distort and magnify the problems connected with the Meech Lake constitutional proposals.
“Admittedly, Meech Lake was inherently divisive, but when the CBC got finished with it, Meech had been made into a full-blown constitutional crisis. The downpour of CBC reporting set off panic across Canada. Fear spread. Canadians worried about their beloved country breaking up.
“How can we forget the parade of first ministers before Wendy Mesley and Don Newman who shouted questions night after night. The drama grew with each passing day, as did Canadians’ concern for their country.
“This kind of programming fit right into the federal government’s strategy of creating a crisis around Meech Lake. Canadians were warned that the price of rejecting the constitutional amendments was the break-up of Canada.
“The CBC was only too happy to join the fear-mongering . . . I ask only that CBC coverage be fair . . . I do expect fair treatment of both sides of an issue. When the CBC fell victim to the government’s strategy to create a crisis, the substance of Meech Lake was no longer the issue. The story became one of English Canada threatening to say `no’ to Quebec and the possible break-up of the country. That was grossly unfair.”
Is it reasonable Harvard believes CBC-TV was vital to creating the crisis that dovetailed with the PM’s strategy?
Yes, it is. But it is harder to affirm that the CBC’s saturation distorted the purport of the great case against the accord which several premiers and a host of citizens hold. Post-conference events suggest not.
Some familiarity with the ideas of Elly Alboim makes me think there would not be any calculation to abet Mulroney. Alboim is both the reigning guru of our self-described “investigative” journalists and the “hands-on” boss in CBC-TV’s presentation of big ticket politics. Alboim, not Mansbridge or Newman, supervised Meech coverage. Last year he publicly made the point that “the press culture in our country has changed and nobody out there has even realized it.” Now they may.
Disgruntled politicians or those who work in print or the CBC’s outmatched TV rivals might consider what counterweights, organized or merely in perceptions, are needed or possible.
They might begin by relating this remark last year by Alboim to Saturday Night with last week’s Wendy, Don and Peter show.
“Our narrative form requires drama, conflict, denouement. But government is a long, tedious business of process and ambiguity.” Now . . . should the TV outfit with the most in talent and technology force forward “drama and conflict” into politics and challenge its tedium and ambiguity?
Better we found our crises in hockey.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, June 13, 1990
ID: 12453217
TAG: 199006130257
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
COLUMN: In Ottawa
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

SIZING UP THE CLASS OF ’88

Almost 100 MPs were mint-new in 1988. Early on they seemed the finest intake in 26 years, especially for the Grits with their suddenly doubled caucus.
A few weeks ago I began a quick-sketches review through the class of ’88. The intention was not to treat the whole cast but to focus mostly on opposition newcomers who far more open chances than do most government backbenchers.
The reaction was fierce to my opening run, much of it exasperation from some who went unmentioned but more at some of my “glib, superficialities” as one aide told me who knew her MP was “maligned.”
My opinions are formed from: a) scanning Hansard regularly, and reviewing its index; b) sampling most of the printed proceedings of House committees; c) listening to, and often viewing, the parliamentary TV channel; d) checking clipping files on MPs in the Hill library.
To those who thought the sketches unfair, they are just one person’s quick opinions. To counter those who want a larger loop this will not be the last segment of reviews.
Jim Karpoff (NDP Surrey North): A persistent House performer with a feel for municipal issues with federal connotations.
Jim Karygiannis (Lib. Scarboro-Agincourt): Much ballyhoo about his ethnicking for the party across the country has given him far more attention than his slight House presence.
Stan Keyes (Lib. Hamilton West): His pleasing voice and brimming confidence are well ahead of either his content or the logic of his argument.
Bob Kilger (Lib. Stormont-Dundas): The House will never be this former NHL official’s rink. He’s the loyal backbencher sort much cherished in government caucuses.
Joy Langan (NDP Mission-Coquitlam): Ultra-serious and very busy, usually at a high whine because she’s chronically aggrieved; should be a House journeywoman MP for years.
Rod Laporte (NDP Moose Jaw-Lake Centre): Not much to go on, other than minor participation on agriculture committee.
Derek Lee (Lib. Scarboro-Rouge River): The mask is repetitiously familiar – chippy, chirpy, know-it-all, young Liberal lawyer. Reads better in committee than in Hansard.
Willy Littlechild (PC Wetaskawin): The best-educated, most prosperous of all aborigines to reach Parliament, where he’s unobtrusive, careful in his remarks and a close watcher.
Gilles Loiselle (PC Langelier): Looks like the inoffensive Monsieur Blot, but as Wilson’s sub-minister and through deft remarks in the House he’s become a favorite of the whole Tory caucus. Much better in English than either of the Bouchards, and a possible finance minister.
Ron MacDonald (Lib. Dartmouth): Seems the stock, Nova Scotian Liberal backbencher – always partisan, middling aggressive, highly regional, modestly ambitious.
Lyle MacWilliam (NDP Okanagan-Shuswap): Riding is turn-over territory but if he survives ’93 he could become a notable MP because he has broad interests and some flair at argument.
Shirley Maheu (Lib. Saint-Laurent): A gritty personality, a seasoned character! And a blessed relief in bluntness and common sense from the hitherto lone Grit belle from Quebec, the highly arch Sheila Finestone.
John Manley (Lib. Ottawa South): The cabinet-minister-in-waiting among capital Grits and almost, though not quite, the superb lawyer, constitutionalist and presenter he thinks he is.
Diane Marleau (Lib. Sudbury): Has a voice that could crack glass. Her radiation of moral elevation in debate somewhat masks the fact she’s well-informed on business matters and coming on in economics.
Peter McCreath (PC South Shore): Low impact as yet but quite busy in forestry, fishing, and UIC issues; a teacher, with four degrees and a stint as a naval officer.
Joe McGuire (Egmont): One of P.E.I.’s four MPs, all Grit – and not a Ghiz in the lot! Others are Catherine Callbeck, George Proud, and Lawrence MacAulay. None stands out though Callbeck knows the most, going on speech content.
Fred Mifflin (Bonavista-Trinity-Conception): Yes, the Newfie gab is here and a frank, loquacious charm, fronting by far the most experienced naval officer in many Parliaments. The chief doubt: How consistent?
Peter Milliken (Lib. Kingston): A somewhat more gregarious, Allan MacEachen in-waiting. Reminds me in argument reach – though not in form or style – of a great parliamentarian and procedural nit-picker, Davie Fulton.
Dennis Mills (Lib. Broadview-Greenwood): Imagine, keener at ink-getting than Sharon Carstairs or Sheila Copps. Sky’s the limit for Mills . . . if he keeps programmatic and off big-think, and if he simply gets easier when on his feet.
Robert Nault (Lib. Kenora-Rainy River): Youngish CP railroader has fair touch as performer and good grasp of hinterland riding issues like transport, lumbering, silviculture and Ojibways.
Roy Pagtakhan (Lib. Winnipeg North): Busy, busy, ethnicity-driven M.D. and the first Filipino MP. He seems rather lone-wolfish, more intent on problems than partisanship. What a contrast to NDP-CCFers who held this bailiwick for so long.
Beth Phinney (Lib. Hamilton Mountain): Little to notice; perhaps she’s overshadowed by aggressive, neighboring colleagues Copps and Stan Keyes.
(To be continued)

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, June 11, 1990
ID: 12452634
TAG: 199006110146
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THIS `VICTORY’ FAR FROM FINAL

Surely few in the host which followed the constitutional crisis, even those who only cut to it in the “seven days of decisions”, are left only with relief at its seeming resolution.
Firstly, the deal is not yet done. The simmering, vibrato indignation of Clyde Wells at the table’s last hurrah, may yet confound the self-congratulating “nation builders.”
Can we foresee Newfoundlanders voting for the accord when their beloved premier cannot, on an issue of personal principle? With such a cue Newfoundland may vote to rebuff the accord.
One must also apprehend a rejection because so many voices in the country will call Newfoundland to stand firmly on its convictions and Wells’ principles. Some of such voices, such as Pierre Trudeau’s, do signify a large following outside Newfoundland (and Quebec) who rue the accord. Some, like Wells, react so for grand reasons such as a belief the accord devolves too nuch federal authority to the provinces. Others – one thinks more – simply rankle and fume that all this represents bowing once more to French Canadians and to Quebec blackmail. Wells was calling to this large, aggrieved constituency in his midnight words.
Did you note how Wells insisted, almost demanded, in clear patriotic prose that those who live in Quebec be Canadians above all, then Quebecers?
In a philosophical phrase, there is a categorical imperative in Wells’ theme which stirs the blood of many, especially English Canadians, but … among the Quebecois? One doubts, doubts, doubts, this happens or will happen.
So willy-nilly it is not over, and the anticipation or the foreboding continues almost to the day, coincidentally, when the federal Liberals will formally give us Jean Chretien, the archetypal Canada Firster of our era, as alternative to the chairman of the seven days. And given the annexes agreed to by the first ministers, constitutional cacophony is progammed to go on and on for years. It is boggling, is it not?
Consider the state of our deficits and debt. Look at our shaky, competitive position in world trade. Reflect on the imperative we concert environmental measures on a great scale. Yet we and our politicians are to wind and twist through years of debate, then decision, over the creation of a second, federal talk shop.
Further, they (our politicians) and we (concerned Canadians) are to debate and then decide upon in some way, maybe by referendum choices, what the contents shall be of a suitcase clause of grandeur – Manitoba’s prize, “the Canadian clause”. It shall tell us who and what we are for ever and ever. Do not bet against the inclusion by name of each ethnicity on the globe. How else may our constitution enshrine our absolute devotion to a multicultural Canada?
There is now a commitment, designed to have recurrent national consideration until resolved, to our so-called “First Nations”. What constitutional forms will this take? Lesothos and Bantu lands by choice? A fourth array of government across the nation? The perpetuation by bloodlines of rights and privileges for those of, or officially of, aboriginal stock?
And somewhere in this swirl of constitutional creativity ahead there must be full recognition through new phrases or sections the particular constitutional needs of half the population, the female half. It is worth wondering how the first ministers failed to put homosexuals and those who suffer from AIDS into the annexes. Surely it is explained by the tiredness of these caring men, not a calculated oversight.
All right. You may think, here is someone deeply bitter against the Meech Lake accord. Not so. My bias for the accord is three years old; it even extended to formal membership in the association, Friends of Meech Lake.
Then what is so disturbing about what has happened regarding Meech and its place in the document which determines our system of government and our rights and responsibilities as Canadians?
First, to reiterate. It isn’t over, short-run. If Newfoundland apes its leader the constitutional harangues will be far more dicey and divisive than through “the second stage” agenda guaranteed if Meech is ratified. Surely a lot of French Canadian Quebecers will make their way behind leadership already obvious to their own nation.
Second, if Newfoundlanders choose to abide by the accord and its appendages, we all hare into a succession of debates and paperchases about the constitution and aspects of it that are either much ado about very little (see senate reform) or exercises in formalizing platitudes and cliches.
Finally, and most seriously, a scan over the diversity in public opinion suggests a sourness, almost an engrained negativism. Patience seems worn out, with the Prime Minister in particular. Surely there is relief for many that the crisis seems over and, to put it emotionally, “Quebec is in the family.” But who would now dare to be rock-sure Quebecers will accept their hesitant welcome for long? And will the swelling in English Canada stop and slide away? The view symbolized by the epithet-like, “Let them go!”
At least it was cheering to hear a literate, well-organized and splendidly argued speech in the finale from Tont Penikett of the Yukon.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, June 10, 1990
ID: 12452497
TAG: 199006100268
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C6
COLUMN: In Ottawa
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

ONTARIO’S PETERSON PLAYS INVISIBLE MAN

A week ago Premier David Peterson of Ontario was rated here as a Lilliputian for his slight role in the troubles over the Meech accord.
His government and Legislature is for the accord; he represents a third of us; his province spends the most, and contributes the most to federal coffers. Despite all this, Peterson has seemed to be an occasional cheerleader while Premier Clyde Wells of Newfoundland and the Manitoban troika have made all the going, reinforcing a popular misreading of our federal system that all provinces are absolutely equal in sheer constitutional authority.
Several protests roared in at such a depiction of Peterson. Friendly interpreters in Ontario jeered me. Peterson was canny, they said, not a “Popsicle stick” premier.
Why canny? Because Ontario is distrusted. There’s much envy of her richness in the Atlantic and the Prairie provinces. So the premier is low-key publicly, saving his persuasiveness and power for the private proceedings.
Another Ontario protester wondered how anyone could miss that Peterson was shortly to go to the people, and the Meech Lake accord was unpopular with a lot of elector – not least with many Ontario Liberals who still hanker for Trudeauism.
The objectors most offended, however, were from the West. Their theme was simple: Ontario really has a lock on most national policies and programs considered by federal cabinets and the Ottawa mandarinate. This comes both through its federal ministers and MPs and the national media. The latter in English Canada is dominated from Toronto.
There, the country’s main political interests and values are set – in particular the reigning economic wisdom of the country.
A scornful Prairie MP told me Peterson could be mute at all times on national or federal issues but Ontario interests, usually aligned in any crunch with Quebec’s, determine Ottawa’s courses. He pointed to two cases: The National Energy Program, designed to give Ontario cheap energy at Alberta’s expense; and the long-running, high interest policy of the Bank of Canada and finance minister Michael Wilson “cooling” hot Ontario while the farmers and businessmen in “outer” Canada go broke.
It seems to me there is more grist in this latter reading of Ontario’s influence in Ottawa on economic policies than the the cuter proposition of a sotto voce Peterson, slickering the suspicious premiers while carrying the hod for Meech in secret or adroitly rounding division in Ontario and in his party over the accord.
Any try at quantifying the grief if Confederation as we know it slips away (with Quebec haring after an altered association with Canada) suggests that Peterson’s province will suffer much. Yet in public Peterson by default has enhanced several intransigent premiers who represent some 8% of Canadians
If one turns to the federal Parliament, notably to the makeup of the ministry and the work of the House and its committees, the case isn’t there in terms of numbers or in topics raised that Ontario MPs or subjects get disproportionate attention.
A third of Canadians are in Ontario, about a third of the MPs hold ridings in Ontario, and 11 of the 38 ministers are from Ontario. (Five cabinet ministers are from Metro Toronto’s 33 ridings, of which the Tories hold 13.) There’s nothing out of line with cabinet representation of other provinces.
For less vital positions like parliamentary secretaryships or the chairs of standing and special committees, the present ratios are eight Ontario MPs out of 28 secretaries and 10 out of 25 chairmen. The latter, larger share is explainable in some 46 Ontario PC MPs, most of whom are House veterans (e.g., Don Blenkarn, David MacDonald, John Bosley).
What of the argument Ontario has – as usual -the portfolios which count?
First, one must go back to 1948 and Mackenzie King for a PM from Ontario. While it has done far better in finance ministers it has not had an out of the ordinary hold on the big, economic portfolios since the glory years of C.D. Howe.
Anyone vetting Hansard and committee proceedings will appreciate that Ontario MPs, split currently as 46 Tories, 43 Grits and 9 NDPers, while by and large active over a broad range of matters, are no more so, say, than those from Alberta. In this House, there has been less direct discussion particular to Metro than of matters affecting Northern Ontario; even so, the latter’s plight has been less debated than Newfoundland’s or or even P.E.I.’s.
My opinion on Ontario MPs as a whole or of those who are cabinet ministers is that they have been slightly above-average in ability and aggressiveness but not exceptionally so.
Clearly Mike Wilson and Barbara McDougall are big players but no more so than Don Mazankowski or Harvie Andre. In opposition, Bob Kaplan or Sheila Copps loom large but no more so than Lloyd Axworthy or Brian Tobin.
The long, high prominence of Wilson in finance distorts my argument that although Ontario is “in there” in Parliament it’s not by a large margin. Such a shading won’t register with those who know that Ontario (with Quebec) calls Ottawa’s tunes. But taking either view doesn’t cover why Peterson has been Meech Lake’s easy floater.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, June 08, 1990
ID: 12451829
TAG: 199006080257
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

KEEPING SECRETS

Let’s consider secrecy and partisanship, in the context of the crisis over the Meech Lake accord.
Many are exasperated the proceedings have not been televised but few have noticed the irrelevance of partisanship (by, or of, the Tories, Grits or New Democrats). The inadequacies in our constitutional procedures should set us worrying why the parties are so extraneous to them.
Although there is self-interest in the TV pack for open meetings, the demand for such goes beyond them. It’s most heartfelt by the many who do not want the accord ratified. They fear the pressures in private on their saviors – premiers Clyde Wells and Gary Filmon. They believe, as do these premiers, their cause gains through televised proceedings. They fear Brian Mulroney will attain another “in the dark of night” agreement.
At their best, those who demand openness and thus televising from gavel to gavel, are sounding a democratic principle: That matters significant to all citizens ought to be discussed and decided in the open where everyone knows who stands for what.
Most against secrecy have probably forgotten that in 1976 there was a bold fight against private conferences of first ministers. It was made by two print journalists, Charles Lynch and Marjorie Nichols. They refused Pierre Trudeau’s order that media personnel quit the conference room so first ministers could deal in private. The ministers shifted elsewhere and the Lynch-Nichols stand for openness petered out.
Subsequently it became clear the Lynch-Nichols “antics” (as an editorialist tagged them) were not popular with politicians or other journalists or with the public. Of course, in 1976 TV was not so entrenched as the ubiquitous purveyor of politics, nor were there such esteemed anchors, hosts, reporters and sages as Peter, Barbara, Wendy, and David.
Custom, firmed decades ago, sustains both a lot of secrecy and an imperative for some open proceedings in parliamentary politics. Essentially it’s custom which dictates that in governing – as distinct from electioneering or actually legislating
– secrecy precedes openness.
The most vital work in politics is closeted in cabinets. A prime minister (or a premier) and his ministers, with or without senior aides (all sworn to secrecy) meet, discuss and decide in private.
The closeted gathering next in importance is the party caucus. Each party treasures caucus privacy, even the New Democrats who most demand “access” and openness in government.
The reasons why privacy and secrecy prevail at the core of decision-making and policy discussion are simple and begin with an assumption forgotten by a lot of those who are critical of closed conferences.
The assumption is that citizens as a whole delegate powers and responsibilities to those chosen at elections. The prime element in such choice is based on party. We have influence in democratic politics by voting for someone who represents a party. Yes, this is elementary civics but it gets more and more ignored as distinctions between parties and party loyalties fade.
Nothing delegates authority in politics to TV people like Peter and Barbara. Nor have we or the Constitution delegated it to political scientists or constitutional lawyers or columnists. Instead, we give authority, for measured periods, to those we elect. When they disappoint us in office we turf them out. In fact, the Meech accord crisis arose because the parties led by three signatories, Dick Hatfield, Howard Pawley and Brian Peckford, were subsequently rejected by voters.
Cabinet and caucus secrecy is implicit rather than explicit in the parliamentary system of government. It’s also been custom that in office the party that holds the backing of most members of a legislature shall have its way (conditioned by its fears of eventual public opinion). It was systematic that our first ministers should use secrecy or privacy.
Modern get-togethers of first ministers with a constitutional focus got under way in the early ’60s with John Diefenbaker as PM. Since then custom has set which sanctions either private or public proceedings – at the choice of the participants.
Although such gatherings were accepted as the basic forum for constitutional discussion and arrangement long before Mulroney, there is really nothing in law on where, when, and how long such gatherings should be or whether or when they should be open or shut.
Meanwhile, expectations have been shifting. Contempt for politicians is rampant, as is impatience with secrecy anywhere. As example, mass opinion now shapes shortly after most elections which denies certainty in either legislating or spending that the majority party and its leader have had between elections. (See opinion polls on the Senate, vis-a-vis the GST.) Much of this anti-government bias has come from the speed, penetration and intimacy of TV.
TV has heightened and over-simplified politics, accenting personalities and controversy. Far more citizens have political opinions and reactions than in pre-TV Canada. And fewer are loyal to any one party. Interest groups, often national, sometimes regional – not parties – dominate the ideas and too often the debating substance of our politics, in particular on the kind of Constitution we should have.
Recently, regrettably, both nationally and provincially (except in Quebec) our parties are not offering us either constitutional choices or a more certain, open, constitutional process.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, June 06, 1990
ID: 12451228
TAG: 199006060212
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

REAL LIFE ON MEECH LAKE

While a parade of first ministers has been waffling and weaving on the Don Newman show, what’s been doing at Meech Lake?
The lake is familiar to me. For half the year we live at its western tip (at the so-called “French end”). We’re only 15 road miles from Parliament Hill.
Meech is a lovely, small Canadian Shield lake, not uniquely beautiful but attractive, its far shore and near hillsides well-treed. The water is clear and not yet overly acidic. A mild current flows the lake from west to east – from the creek out of Harrington Lake (summer home of prime ministers) to a slight falls over and into Chelsea Creek (not far from a recently notorious “nude” beach – really a rock shore).
Most of the regular denizens along the road which skirts the south side of the lake – about 60 in summer, 30 in winter -would agree that the accord reached three years ago at the old mansion, cliff-high over the east bay, has not been a boon. It has brought a sharp rise of road traffic and in the use of the lake by canoeists, surfers, snorkelers, fishermen and swimmers in the summer and by skiers and snowshoers in the winter.
The lake is within the federal Gatineau Park, managed by the National Capital Commission, but half a hundred lots around the lake, mostly abutting the south-side road, are privately owned, some in the same family for over half a century.
One fear of Meech people is appropriation by the federal authority. As it is, the NCC buys every property it can that comes on the market. When successful, it has any buildings torn down. Turfing out homeowners would let the NCC fully control the lake and its shores and use it far more for picnicking, swimming, and boating. A herald of this came through the big, recent jump in curious visitors who, seeing the beaches and the bays, come back for handy recreation.
On fine days the last two summers the crowds at the two NCC beaches have choked the road. The park’s planners know the utility of most lakeside properties for swimmers and canoeists.
Like most of the smaller Gatineau lakes, Meech, almost two miles long and a half- to a quarter-mile wide, runs roughly west to east, paralleling the Ottawa River, several high ridges to the south. Our lake is fairly deep down the centre. Its ridging, rocky hills are mostly clothed in a nearly mature maple and beech forest with a scattering of high pine and low cedar.
Two summers ago one in the clutch of TV fishing squads did a day on Meech Lake. Its lead angler showed me a big mess of 15- to 20-inch bass. He thought it a perfect beginning hole for young fishermen. In daylight, the roadside by the lake is rarely without a few casters, usually of our visible minorities – Chinese or Vietnamese or Filipino. Few ever seem to land a catch, but the same men keep fishing so it must be for more than casting practice.
In my time at Meech the lake has had several pair of loons, a family of otters, one or two families of mergansers and usually a drift of gulls. The loon pair in our bay returned from the Gulf Stream late this April just after the wind blew out the last of the ice.
Each summer a great blue heron stalks for frogs by our creek. Two summers ago one of the mergansers would mother 17 ducklings past our dock several times a day for weeks.
The creek mouth has several beaver houses. Of all the gluts of use in the Gatineau, in particular around Meech, it’s by beaver. The NCC workers keep catching them and shipping them north but nothing in Meech has so surprised me as the cordage cropped by the beavers.
Neither the beaver nor the raccoon packs which nightly prowl the shoreline and the garbage boxes at the beaches seem to have many mortal enemies. We see deer almost daily, usually does, rarely bucks. Three falls ago we spotted a young moose swimming the north bay. While there are lots of robins, grosbeaks, and a few blue jays, we’ve noted a remarkable falling away in the host of swallows which once swooped for black flies over the lake each May.
Where have the swallows gone? Nobody at Meech knows. To this point, no one has blamed Brian Mulroney. They may, now I’ve noted their passing. He’s so much the Meech fall guy.
In the many “color” stories in print and on TV about Meech, Mulroney usually figures derogatively. He, Mila, the kids, and their limos, wagons, cop cars, and service vans must use the Meech road to get to Harrington Lake.
The summer place for prime ministers, which the public cannot see, sits neat on a ridge above Harrington’s outlet to Meech Lake. In terms of sleep-overs, Pierre Trudeau and sons used the place more than the Mulroneys do but the latter are far more social and political with the place. So the locals are very aware of the greater VIP traffic. They recall fondly that Trudeau drove his own car and rarely entertained. With Mulroney, the wear on the road makes for bumps and dust.
Thus Brian and his crowd are depicted as dog-killers, pothole-makers and party-splurgers. Further, the gate to the PM’s estate is manned 24 hours a day by Mounties. It, and the turnabout 100 metres past our place, aggravate a lot of those drawn to the now-famed locale.
The folk who live, or hold property along Meech Lake, have a formal “association.” A characteristic of it is that the French and English parts – roughly 50-50 – get along well.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, June 04, 1990
ID: 12450687
TAG: 199006040221
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

LET’S FORGET SENATE REFORM

If Meech Lake fails it will largely be because satisfactory assurance was not given to Newfoundland and/or Manitoba that there will be a “reformed” Senate.
And if Meech Lake stands it will be because a corollary has been agreeable to all the first ministers: That a reformed Senate is a constitutional priority.
It is gross that Meech pivots on something so irrational, however much most of our politicians accept that we need and will find useful an altered, second chamber in Ottawa.
We have had a second chamber. In the kindest light it has been taken as relatively useless. It’s been largely a convenient patronage pit for prime ministers and, in recent decades, a Grit reservoir of resources usable for partisan purposes – sustaining bag-men or aggravating a Tory government by delaying the will of the elected House.
Do you know what’s most lunatic about a Canadian Senate, reformed or otherwise?
First, it will largely be just another talk-shop like the House and the present Senate.
Second, if it should be given either the powers to initiate spending legislation or to block absolutely any spending or policies put up by a government in the first chamber then it primarily is a negative or vetoing element.
Several veteran MPs in the older parties are now mulling over propositions to cut substantially the hours and days which the House of Commons spends in so-called debates. They’ve been brought to this because they know, as everyone on the Hill knows, that hardly anyone hears or later reads speeches given in the House. On the Hill or off the Hill!
They know House proceedings have minuscule TV ratings. In short, the main talk shop we do have has few listeners, viewers, or interpreters except for those intent on the 45 minutes of the oral question period. The latter is a prompting agenda and a daily clipping source for TV political news.
House debate, to be sure, is rarely more or less penetrating than debate in the present Senate. The era of seriatim speeches, 10 or 20 or 30 minutes in length, is really over although our politicians fear to admit it.
Ask lobbyists. Ask political scientists. Ask those who head national interest groups or associations. Do they pay heed to House or Senate debates? Do they even read them later? Do they consistently court plain MPs or senators? Of course not. They fix on the PMO, on ministers, on top mandarins, on door-opening consultants.
The best one can say for the dragging talk-talk on most legislation or grievances raised on opposition days is that it gives opposition MPs something to do for their salaries and perquisites, beyond serving their ridings and their own chances for re-election.
It is tacitly accepted on the Hill, most notably by third and fourth party MPs, that elongating debates screws a government out of a sensible schedule or any appearance of achievement, or that it gives time for understanding and opposition in the country to work up against government initiatives or the lack of them.
If debates in the House were at all important, prime ministers, ministers and party leaders would be much more in the chamber. It’s unlikely, however, that in six years as PM Brian Mulroney has put in even 18 hours in the chamber, aside from question period and votes.
To turn to proponents of Senate reform, such advocates of the “Triple E Senate” as the Canada West Foundation or the Alberta committee of 1985 have not proposed that a government must have the confidence of the new Senate. No. It must gain its responsibility and keep it in the House of Commons. Nor would these fans for a reformed Senate let it initiate money bills or do more than amend or reject ordinary legislation (i.e., reject or suspend for a period of time).
Note well: Such a projected Senate would be no more the place or have roles for cabinet ministers than the present, unelected Senate. Debates in such a Senate on the spending estimates of a department or agency (headed by a minister) would be pointless.
An elected Senate with equal numbers of members from each province would have two apparent functions: (a) the traditional, time-filling one of talk-shop, debating government bills or spending; (b) amending or rejecting (at least for a time) what a government proposes and carries through the first chamber. In essence, this is what the current Senate can do and recently has been doing. The differences would be several, and all worse for responsible government.
The amendments or rejections by the reformed Senate would be far more dangerous to a government’s hold on the public because of the cachet given the rejectors by election. The views, especially antagonistic ones, in a province or a region -say the Maritimes or the Prairies – would be more likely and very serious for a government, particularly if there should be equal Senate representation for each province.
What those who extol the worth of a reformed Senate miss about this era of politics is plain yet simple. The crucial places and means for the development, forging and implementing of policies (or criticizing them with effect) are not in either the House of Commons or the present Senate. And a reformed Senate just offers more negativism, and a similar amount of talk to be ignored.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, June 03, 1990
ID: 12450363
TAG: 199006030240
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C6
COLUMN: In Ottawa
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

MEECH DRAMA FULL OF VILLAINS

Through TV we have had too much of the first ministers, the prime actors in the Meech Lake drama. Each of us has reactions to them. Here are mine as the plot crystallizes.
The actor I marvel most at is David Peterson, the Ontario premier. I have to reach back to the late George Henry (1930-34) to find a slighter premier.
The sound, repeated, which defines Peterson for me is his own. “Yup!” Surely you’ve noted his affection for this expression. He even slides it into “Yupyupyup.” Oh, is he a yuppie!
Another utterance the premier dotes on is “rhetoric.” If “profound” is the prize of Stephen Lewis, “rhetoric” is Peterson’s. He’s always getting “behind the rhetoric” or “stripping away the rhetoric.” So one awaits the real thing, and it never comes; just more yup-yups, used with either of the premier’s stock stage faces – optimism aglow or a pondering seriousness.
Whenever able Ontario ministers like Bob Nixon, John Sweeney or Lyn McLeod – direct and understandable – come on my TV I’m baffled that such a Popsicle stick is their boss.
Peterson’s had nothing analytically or symbolically meaningful to say on the Meech deal since it was first struck. In image, his is even weenier than Gary Filmon’s, and despite his burbling he actually is as inarticulate and as uninformative as Don Getty. His slightness has helped raise Clyde Wells to titan status. Even tiny P.E.I., 120,000 strong, obviously has a premier with more brains and bottom than the linchpin province. Wasn’t it mete that Peterson has had to writhe in the public wind stirred by the revealed, crass media strategies of his brain-trust?
With Peterson so slight, Robert Bourassa and Brian Mulroney have somehow had to represent the pivotal region of Canada in both people, territory and economy and as the historical roots of our federal system. Bourassa has done this more cleanly, clearly and without a lot of equivocation than has Mulroney. Granted, he’s been repetitious with his case, and he has also used his negotiator, Gil Remillard, more flexibly than Mulroney has his go-between. It is hard to see how Bourassa has so raised the ire of English Canadians. He may not be lovable – or even likable – but he’s hardly a prime hackle-raiser.
One wishes the same could be said about the prime minister. Not that he’s been wild or unconstructive but he never escapes from the compulsion to waffle. Always there’s the patriots’ day flourishes and vocabulary. After six years in office he still hasn’t appreciated that Canadians detest fulsome unction and sentimental corn. We’ve seen too much of him and his valedictorian style.
It’s chastening that the option beyond Mulroney is another waffling, nation-saving, super-patriot. Chretien’s style and syntax may seem a drastic contrast to Mulroney’s but the main suit of each is BS. As columnist Lysiane Gagnon (La Presse) puts it, Chretien’s forte is murdering French with anglicisms and English with gallicisms.
In scanning the cast I find only one player has left me quite neutral – Grant Devine of Saskatchewan. Why? Perhaps because he doesn’t overdramatize and emote about either his own thoughts or the wrongs and slights done Saskatchewan.
As for the Manitoba premier, every time his slightness in thought and argument is before me I tend to excuse him. Why? Because Manitoba is so inherently dour and negative (even more than Alberta, which whines the most but really does believe in progress.)
Filmon reminds me also of previous Manitoba obfuscators and slowfoots like Howard Pawley, Ed Schreyer, Walter Weir and Doug Campbell. And it’s unfair to Filmon to ignore the odd pair he’s had to walk with (or go to the people), i.e., the Sheila Copps clone, Sharon Carstairs, and the Peterson clone, Gary Doer.
McKenna? A nice, bright, young politician who’s taken a long time to fade out of the crisis he first set moving, so leaving Wells at centre stage as hero or villain (Take your choice!)
John Buchanan, Don Getty, and Bill Vander Zalm have largely helped people the stage’s fringe, although they better fit a comedy, rather than a tragedy. I tend to imagine Lougheed behind Getty and a Bennett, father or son, behind Vander Zalm, and it’s like seeing Robarts behind Peterson.
To close these impressions, what actor has been almost unmentioned? Yes, the peregrinator, Mulroney’s interlocutor, Lowell Murray. Decent chap, the senator.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, June 01, 1990
ID: 12449869
TAG: 199006010240
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

MEECH LAKE INSIGHTS

To change pace on our reigning issue – the worth of the Meech Lake accord – we turn from politicians to authors who have thought much on our federation.
First, an excerpt from a book by political scientists Richard Simeon and Ian Robinson titled State, Society, and the Development of Canadian Federalism (U of T Press, 1990). Though done for the Macdonald royal commission (“on the economic union”) this study’s updated to the Meech imbroglio. Simeon is an old federal-provincial hand. The wisdom quoted here comes near the end of a long analysis.
“First, at the level of collective identity, no vision of Canadian politics predicated upon the assumption that either the national or the provincial dimensions of Canadian identities can or will or ought to dominate the other is ever likely to prevail. The failure of Prime Minister (Pierre) Trudeau’s `new federalism’ attests to the first half of the proposition; the defeat of Premier (Rene) Levesque’s sovereignty association option to the second.
“The Canadian political nationality must be based on the acceptance of the reality and the legitimacy of citizen loyalties to both types of political community because the great majority of Canadian citizens strongly identify with both communities and view this `internal duality’ as stable and beneficial rather than contradictory or undesirable.”
Second, and closely related, no vision of Canadian politics which asserts that territorially organized identities and communities will or ought to be displaced by non-territorial ones, such as class or gender, will succeed.
“ . . . `province’ and `nation-building’ should not be seen as antithetical. Economic and social development in every province, not just the poorer ones, is absolutely dependent upon the exercise of federal power. But . . . without an extension of federal authority beyond the limits which are conceivable in the absence of a political or economic catastrophe, national economic and social development will continue to require the exercise of provincial jurisdiction . . .
“One historical thread runs from Macdonald to Trudeau, asserting, in effect, that national leadership is only possible in the space created by the absence of provincial power. But a second line, running from (Wilfrid) Laurier to (Lester) Pearson, is equally nation-building in its commitment to making the nation wealthier and more just, yet recognizes the national dimensions of provincial activity and is willing to work with and through provincial governments. It may not be a coincidence that the 1963-68 Pearson regime was not only among the most activist in social and economic policy in Canadian history, but also the one that made the most concessions to active provinces, particularly Quebec . . .
“As long as the majority of Canadians remain committed to an extensive state role in social and economic policy, it follows that there is no escaping the interdependence of federal and provincial governments.”
Now to wisdom on why the Senate reform which the West and the East clamor for is impossible. It’s taken from a much complimented paperback by an Ottawa author, H.T. Wilson. The central theme of his Retreat from Governance is against the Meech accord because of the power it seems to shift to the provinces, but he writes this of Quebec and Ontario:
“Canada at present is the only federal system where both houses allow for the dominance of the two most populous provinces . . . this difficulty is in fact endemic to Canada’s origins as a group of regions organized on a federal basis.
“The reason for federalism in Canada was not, as in the American case, only in order to organize a vast territorial space and provide for future settlement, but in order to accommodate and preserve two distinct founding peoples and cultures who wanted to co-operate on certain political and economic matters while remaining separate and distinct in other ways.
“It is this arrangement worked out by these two jurisdictions as peoples and cultures between 1790 and 1867 that has formed the basis for Canadian federalism. The highest status of all members of the Canadian federation belongs to these two signatories, and to the extent that Quebec continues to be almost the exclusive home of French-speaking Canadians . . . this will continue to be the case . . .
“All concerns on Quebec’s part to maintain autonomy and control in areas where it believes it to be imperative for political and cultural survival and development will generate a counter response by Ontario interests. Co-operation and commerce between these two has always been the basis of Confederation, and will continue to dictate and determine the status of all other signatories and regions as long as this is the case.
“Since Senate reform must always begin with this reality, the question is how we can expect any reforms which actually provide under-represented regions with a greater weight to be accepted by Quebec and Ontario . . .
“The combination of Canada’s origins, and the continuing dependence of successive federal governments on Quebec and Ontario for their power base, makes it highly unlikely that either province will permit a Senate to be modified . . . or to exercise any real power if it is so modified.”
To recapitulate: (1) both interests — central and provincial –must contest and co-operate; (2) Quebec and Ontario cannot brook a Senate with both power and equal representation by province.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, May 30, 1990
ID: 12449263
TAG: 199005300228
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

COLUMNS WAR OVER MEECH

One may gauge the concern over any national matter by noting and comparing the product of political columnists. So take this sample on the Meech Lake accord. It’s from the most prominent of long-running columnists, Peter Newman (Maclean’s, June 4):
“We stand in imminent danger of allowing this country to fall apart because there is too damn much apathy, stubbornness, and plain stupidity to alter our institutions in time to resolve our differences.”
Pundits, Poets, & Wits (Oxford) is a new anthology of American columns, beginning with Benjamin Franklin. Its editor, Karl Meyer, defines a column “as a signed article of moderate length appearing at more or less regular intervals in newspapers or magazines” and he makes the nice point that “political columns for the most part perish, in E.B. White’s phrase, like snakes with the setting sun, their bite vanishing with the controversies which provoked them.”
Our current “controversy” however, is also the oldest of all Canadian controversies, and it’s moot, as pro-Meechers see it, that it may be almost in its final stage. As Newman has it: “Meech is the last best resolution we’re ever likely to be offered.”
The constitutional furor has generally split columnists into hostile camps. Some, especially those normally antagonistic to Brian Mulroney or still revering Pierre Trudeau, see Meech as an artificial or manufactured crisis. They think Meech a product of irresolute but glory-seeking leadership from Mulroney. They are bitter at his readiness to deal away roles and obligations of the federal government.
For the anti-Meech columnists, Clyde Wells in particular and, to a lesser degree, Gary Filmon and Sharon Carstairs, stand bravely, blocking a deal made in the dark of night, one that would disperse the remnants of national overview and leadership to provincial premiers. The most unrelenting, consistent anti-Meech columnists are William Johnson of the Montreal Gazette and Don McGillivray of the Southam chain, and, when he can get on to it, Michael Valpy of the Globe and Mail.
Of course, there are more pro-Meech columnists than Newman, who see Meech as a rapidly-disappearing chance for renewing federalism. They put responsibility for an unfolding tragedy on those who reneged on a solemn agreement by their provincial predecessors, i.e., on Wells, Filmon and Frank McKenna. Jeffrey Simpson of the Globe, Marjorie Nichols of the Ottawa Citizen, and Michel Gratton of the Sun, all have stressed that the three dissenting premiers are responsible for the impasse. They suggest how ridiculous it is that the country’s very unity is jeopardized by men representing such a slight portion of our population.
Of course, the defenders of the Meech dissidents highlight different proportions, particularly from opinion polls which show most Canadians outside Quebec are against the accord.
Simpson of the Globe recently raised a paradox. A like depth of antagonism and concern was clear through the long run to the free trade agreement with the U.S. and its attainment with the Conservatives’ election victory in 1988. But where have the nation-savers of 1988 gone? The Atwoods, Bertons, and Mowats by the score? Perhaps the heirs of Walter Gordon and the Committee for an Independent Canada may bear a grudge against Robert Bourassa and Quebec for being so staunchly for free trade.
The Toronto Star was the press organ which led the fight against the FTA. It has been almost as set editorially and in story selection and emphasis against Meech. The Star stands as a national savior in crusading against Meech, positing that Ottawa must retain and use its powers, not devolve them to the provinces. Since the Star at present is without a highly opinionated Ottawa columnist (say, as Richard Gwyn and Newman were) it has used stock anti-Meech stuff by Johnson and McGillivray.
Valpy, who once had Simpson’s spot in the Globe, now writes on Metro for the paper. This week he eased from a Toronto church service where he felt some may have “reached reluctant accord with God to pray for Brian Mulroney” to the current Ottawa scene and some satirizing of colleague Simpson and of CBC-TV (notably for its one-sided, Meech-saving “inquiry” fronted by stars Barbara Frum and Peter Mansbridge).
Valpy joshed about “a wartime ambience of total commitment – journalists, politicians, public servants, with few exceptions united in an all-out effort, Pro-Meech, or, as it means in Ottawa, pro-Canada.”
Valpy found in Ottawa that it was “not on” to discuss reasonably how the Mulroney government has been engaged in the “dismantling of the state’s presence in Canadian economic and cultural life” with “anglophone friends and acquaintances.”
He swung from Simpson as the only “national columnist” fluent in French to the “tiny 5% of Canadians who are anglophone and speak French” and who see themselves as “the hinge between English- and French-speaking Canada” and who “passionately support Meech.”
Perhaps Valpy meant his conclusion to be ironic: “The message does seem to be that no one who doesn’t understand Quebec can oppose Meech.”
Phrased differently, however, it seems rather plausible. That is, those who understand Quebec cannot oppose Meech.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, May 28, 1990
ID: 12024174
TAG: 199005280224
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THE HELLYER MANIFESTO

No name in postwar politics stirs more questions of what might have been than Paul Hellyer’s. And he conjures another fascinating topic, the role of personal wealth in politics and the griefs of other self-made millionaires such as Roy Thomson, Steve Roman, John Bassett, Wally McCutcheon, Eric Kierans, Peter Pocklington, Frank Stronach and Paul Martin, Jr.
Remember Hellyer? He made his wealth from housing developments, largely in the 1950s. He became a Liberal MP (Toronto) in 1949 at 26, a minister in 1957, and again in 1963. He failed to win his party’s leadership in 1968; resigned from cabinet in 1969 and became an independent MP two years later.
After launching his own party (Action Canada) Hellyer joined the Tory caucus in 1972. He lost his seat to a Liberal in 1974 and ran fifth in the 1976 Tory leadership race. He returned to the Liberal party in 1982 after some years as a Sun columnist. He was unable to get a Liberal nomination for either the 1984 or the 1988 election. He forsook columnizing in 1984 after, as he said, “a thousand articles containing well over half a million words – the equivalent of eight average-size books.
Now, at 66, an unflagging Hellyer is out with two new books (his fourth and fifth). Both are clearly written. The better one (as an author’s objective) is quite brief.
A paperback, Canada at the Crossroads (Chimo Media) is subtitled “A Liberal agenda for the ’90s and beyond.” It’s a good contrast to recent short books by Tom Kent, once Mike Pearson’s think-tank, and by Gerald Doucet, a PMO aide in the Trudeau era. All three are would-be Grit manifestos.
Hellyer’s other new book is a hardback, Damn the Torpedoes (McClelland & Stewart). It’s reminiscence of his glory years as minister of defence, then minister of transport, then as rival to Pierre Trudeau for the Liberal leadership. While I found this segment of autobiography cosy and most readable it seems unfair to many people, particularly in the military. That is, the tale of unification is more self-serving than expected from one who’s earned a fine reputation in politics and journalism for fairness. In future I hope to deal with Hellyer’s interpretation of what he sees (still!) as a success. Unification of our military services as he saw it and did it begs for more on why he so stressed the cost saving in unification but largely evaded the political issue of fashioning a military which could meet the many commitments his government or its predecessors had given to allies and to peace-keeping for the UN.
In his tract for the Liberals, Hellyer is “broad brush” yet specific. The party, he insists, must have a new agenda. Those of Mackenzie King, Louis St. Laurent, Lester Pearson and Trudeau, “each exciting in its time, are inappropriate to the major problems of today and tomorrow.”
Hellyer noted that he hadn’t included either farming or the fisheries in his agenda of 15 items although each is “in big trouble.” The rest of this column flips through Hellyer’s 15. He loves the word “action.” Certainly, this agenda requires a most active government. It is also not very NDPish.
“1. Lower the interest rates. This is the key to the solution of myriad problems . . . let the dollar fall to a more realistic level . . . give exporters a break and create jobs.
2. Full employment . . . set a goal of full employment, defined as 4% unemployed, as a top priority.
3. Wage war. Declare all-out war against pollution, homelessness, illiteracy, ill health, our decaying urban infrastructure and, above all, mediocrity.
4. Affordable housing. Co-operate with provinces to ensure serviced land is available at a rate fast enough to accommodate increased housing stimulated by lower interest rates.
5. A made-in-Canada inflation policy. We will have to adopt some kind of incomes policy to limit the excesses of monopolistic business and monopoly labor.
6. Reduce the deficit . . . through lower interest rates in the national debt; reducing the number of the unemployed, . . . etc.
7. Skewer the GST. Under no circumstance should this tax be put into effect.
8. Prohibit takeovers. Prohibit all mergers, buyouts, and takeovers of any significance.
9. Review social policies . . . review universal social programs because nothing should be sacred except common sense. Benefits to wealthy Canadians have to be weighed against the demands of truly national priorities.
10. Upgrade education . . . reduce illiteracy, upgrade educational standards across the board . . . special attention to disadvantaged groups.
11. Aid the Third World . . . more direct aid, lower interest rates on their external debt, finance more young Canadian volunteers.
12. More research and development. Support a vast increase in the level of R&D through direct government support and a two tier tax system.
13. Second-language training. Seek agreement of the provinces to introduce universal second-language training from kindergarten to Grade 12.
14. Greater equality of opportunity between regions . . . provide massive financial backing for one major rapid-growth city in each region.
15. The Meech Lake accord. Unless an acceptable compromise can be achieved . . . put the whole subject of constitutional reform on the back burner until passions cool.”

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, May 27, 1990
ID: 12023849
TAG: 199005270598
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C6
COLUMN: In Ottawa
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

WHAT KIND OF CANADA WILL EMERGE POST-QUEBEC?

Should we not consider what must follow a failure to ratify the Meech Lake accord?
In short order there could be a request from the Quebec provincial government for a new relationship, not a “renewal” but a new alignment with Canada. Not “in” Canada, but “with” Canada.
What’s sensible, and immediate enough to get a considered response ready for such a request?
What kind of post-Quebec political structure do most of us want?
We should put aside vengeful stuff like abandoning bilingualism or regaining Ungava or splitting fairly the huge federal debt. Let’s think of to what or to whom we ought to turn to get us ready.
Can it be to Parliament or its leader, the federal prime minister? Unfortunately, the present PM is from Quebec (and so is his looming alternative).
There seems to have been absolute acceptance since the early 1960s that Quebec may secede from Canada if it so wishes. That is, Canada is unlike the U.S. where Abraham Lincoln declared the union was undisolvable and made it stick.
Willy-nilly Canada is a federation of provinces rather than a united people who live across the whole landmass.
It’s true that a lot of Canadians have seen themselves simply as Canadians. It seems to me most volunteers in World War II did. They were provincials second. And even now some Quebecers (e.g., Jean Chretien) do put Canada first.
With Quebec going or gone, it may be possible in the next creation of a post-Quebec Canada for a broad agreement on a new federation which recognizes the primacy of a national government for Canada E (for English). We need to consider and debate such matters. To whom should we turn?
We might ask for a commission of wise elders. Have them draft some choices in a new Constitution. After all, there must be much altered forms and rules of government and for commerce and the judiciary when Quebec as a participant is removed.
Or should we leave it to the nine premiers to work up a plan for adjustment and continuation?
In the lead-up to the collapse of the Meech accord the premiers, other than Quebec’s Robert Bourassa, have hardly speculated on what ought to be done with the accord lost. Bourassa, however, has instituted post-Meech study within his Liberal party.
And various drafts for post-separation or for sovereignty association have been produced in Quebec since Rene Levesque. Quebecers are way ahead of us.
We are not short of fertile minds. It’s just that few of them believed Quebec would go so far or they felt our leaders would produce another compromise to keep Quebec within Canada for a while longer.
It’s notable that a welter of propositions for altering the present Constitution surfaced before the Charest committee, most notably from westerners (and Manitobans in particular) and from Clyde Wells, the premier of Newfoundland.
Wells might be an excellent choice to head up the premiers in preparing and proposing (to the people) a new Constitution for Canada E. He seems the most self-assured constitutionalist to hand, aside from Pierre Trudeau or Jean Chretien.
Trudeau might be a good choice for heading a commission of elders. Like Wells, he’s a constitutional authority.
Of course an English Canadian state hardly needs the compromises between English and French which are in the current Constitution, but it will face an early risk of further secessions. Most provinces other than Ontario have had distinctive ideas at various times about their autonomy, economic policies and foreign affairs. Such views need airing.
So must those on the elaborate array of transfers between governments and to firms and individuals now in place. Do we want to, do we need to, dismantle the whole system and start over? And how may we change and re-arrange but keep regional nastiness and suspicions in check?
It’s likely that after an initial numb period speculation and invention will flower.
What do I want?
If Quebec is gone then I wish an open society that puts as much power as possible for economic and social policy in the central government and just a modicum for the provinces.
When will Quebecers withdraw from the federal government and Parliament?
To ask this is to underline that Parliament is not the best instrument for producing a new governance. The nine provincial governments are a more sensible choice.
Yes, they will be tempted to enhance their own powers and range, not conceding more to a truly unifying national government. Thus the better way to create a post-Quebec Canada may be for the premiers to pick and empower a broad panel of Canadians.
Let them draft a new Constitution, and arrange for its debate in regional and national conventions preliminary to an eventual confirmation by national referenda.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, May 25, 1990
ID: 12023498
TAG: 199005250278
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

A CRISIS WITHOUT COMPROMISE

Claude Wells vs. Lucien Bouchard. What fierce differences on Canada and Quebec!
To reduce our “crisis” to people we must turn to the premier of Newfoundland and to the most recent minister to depart the federal cabinet. Lucien Bouchard is for the Meech accord as it is, only as it is. Clyde Wells cannot accept this.
Wells may be arrayed with the Manitoba trio of Filmon, Carstairs, and Doer, and with Frank McKenna of New Brunswick, as either truly heroic or obdurately villainous in this crisis. Wells was the third dissident premier by a margin of many months but he stands forth as the leader of the “no” forces because he has the most forceful personality and the highest intelligence. His belief in his own analysis is perfect, and to cap it he’s an old hand at constitutional law.
Bouchard has spelled out with high emotion and exceptional vigor a Quebec view (probably the Quebec view) of its present condition and future aims regarding Canada. And Wells keeps reiterating why he, his fellow Newfoundlanders and most other Canadians, cannot accept the Bouchard or Quebec vision.
It’s easy to peck and sniff at the ideas and behavior of egocentrics in politics like Wells (and Bouchard!), but we must take Wells seriously – far more so than the Manitobans or McKenna – because he articulates best Pierre Trudeau’s vision of Canada with its senior role for the federal government. And this view, with Quebec necessarily a province like the others, has had much currency in English Canada.
Much of what Wells says is straight Trudeauism. At his side as adviser is Deborah Coyne, a constitutional acolyte of Trudeau’s and an open foe of Meech. But Wells does push cause and effect in history further than Trudeau would.
Take Wells’ compelling case for a Senate with great powers to initiate or veto legislation and spending programs and with equal representation for the provinces (as in the U.S.).
To Wells, Newfoundland and the other poor provinces owe their inferior condition and lack of opportunities to their constitutional dearth of power at the federal centre in Parliament. That is, the weaker provinces are boxed in a dependency on handouts from the centre because Ottawa is dominated by Ontario and Quebec MPs. That is too illogical for Trudeauism. (Consider Montana or Wyoming for a moment. They compare with California or Pennsylvania in senators and geographical size but not in terms of people or economic development.)
On May 1 Wells showed his adroitness and immaculate assurance in a long appearance before with the Charest committee. The 50 pages of printed proceedings show a tour de force. Wells put forth his vision of Canada and the constitution which it must have. He thoroughly rebuffed his respectful but initially critical questioners. Before the close the MPs were throwing up banalities and pieties for Wells to bat around.
Anyone who reads through his performance knows he will never compromise. He has certitude, expertise, and dogma. And he’s demagogue enough to flaunt both opinion polls and the immense, positive response his stand has brought him personally from all across Canada. He’s far more than just Newfoundland among other provinces at the table on Meech. He knows, or at least he feels he knows, that he speaks for most Canadians. He knows they agree with his vision of Canada.
And so, symbolically, the crisis is more Wells than anyone else against Bouchard and his insistence that Quebec shall not concede again to an English Canada which neither understands nor cares about its needs and determination.
If Bouchard has made certain that Quebec has such an unbending position on Meech as it is, Wells makes certain this cannot be accepted.
Most of us have seen and heard Wells on TV, firm as steel and argumentatively alert. Some selections from the opening peroration of Wells to the Charest committee reveal why he’s leading English Canada’s blockage of the accord as it is.
“The process of constitutional reform cannot and should not include pressuring or cajoling change against the will of the majority of the people of the nation.
“First, there is more to being a Canadian than being a resident of a particular province or territory. Canada has a national identity that is more than the sum of its parts . . .
“Second, every citizen is equal to every other citizen, and we must never do anything that can in any manner diminish that equality.
“Third, every province is equal in status and rights as a province, even though there may be great disparity in economic size or population . . .
“Fourth . . . the nation was founded on the basis of an understanding between the French and English-speaking colonies in North America, to build a nation with two languages . . .
“Finally . . . this nation and the individual provinces are collectively committed to promoting equal opportunities for the well-being of Canadians . . . ”
Why is Wells today’s archetypal English Canadian? Read this: “I cannot envisage Canada without Quebec. Canada is all of the provinces continuing forward. But we cannot ever go on building the Constitution of this nation of the basis of `you must accept what we want or else.’ That is no way to build a nation.”
Wells and Bouchard show a crisis without solution through compromise.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, May 23, 1990
ID: 12022848
TAG: 199005230213
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

TRAGEDY OF HONEST MAN

Whatever devastation he wreaks, an honest man in politics is an exhilarating experience for old hands in or around the game.
Nothing better illustrates Lucien Bouchard’s honesty than his reiterated statement under questioning at a post-resignation press conference that he hadn’t thought out all the implications of what he had done or what he wants or hopes to advocate.
“I need some time to think,” he said. You have to appreciate this is most rare stuff on Parliament Hill.
Bouchard will be thinking hard about the relationship with Canada he wants for Quebec. Probably the main prospect he opened up in his conference was that he was for a “sovereignty association” and this required a return to the table for the same reasons which brought the putative “Fathers” of Canada together in 1864 and led to the BNA Act of 1867.
In short, two peoples, French-speaking Quebecois and the rest of Canada, would initiate a fresh try at a constitution which begins with recognition Quebec is independent and different.
Such directness is brutal. Why? Out goes the constitution we have – Parliament, the Crown, the web of federal-provincial arrangements. It means a whole new start.
It seems certain Lucien Bouchard has blown the Meech accord. Certainly, he has ruined any chance Quebec will accept any addenda or parallel features to the accord.
Premier Bourassa cannot return to the first ministers’ table without making it clear he and his ministry cannot accept any of the riders which Clyde Wells, Gary Filmon, Frank McKenna, and Sharon Carstairs have demanded.
Bouchard’s letter of resignation from the cabinet and his subsequent statements have helped me appreciate why the PM has always accorded a heroic status to this college classmate.
Brian Mulroney has been a man with lots of heroes. In the years since I first heard him speak (1958) he has enthused in my hearing about a number of men and women who inspired him or whom he saw as guides or exemplars. There’s a relative humility in this hero worship of people like the late Robert Cliche or Alvin Hamilton or Stanley Hartt that may seem odd to those who have not had dealings with Mulroney and see him as so full of himself.
As one who has monitored Bouchard’s performance as minister and the No. 2 man to the PM for Quebec affairs, I had to note his combination of brightness and direct, unfudging honesty. Knowing Mulroney’s great respect for brains and integrity, I could see why Bouchard was for him the best Quebec had to offer public life.
And so the PM counted it a coup in reconciling Quebec nationalism when he persuaded Bouchard to be Canada’s ambassador in Paris, and even more of coup two years ago when he got Bouchard to enter electoral politics.
Here was a minister with great stature in Quebec, first as an honest man, second as one who’d openly been for “yes” in the sovereignty association referendum but ready now to work for Canada with Quebec fully accepted through Meech.
To best appreciate Bouchard, one needs to contrast him with the other prominent French language ministers from Quebec whom Mulroney has had like Marcel Masse or Roch LaSalle or Michel Cote or Benoit Bouchard.
Each of the latter has or had useful qualities for a cabinet and a caucus but none of them had anything like the reach, directness, and large personality of Lucien Bouchard.
Unfortunately for Mulroney and, probably, unluckily for Canadians as a whole, the honest man whose reason never divorces itself from his feelings on what is right cannot bear for long the equivocations, compromises, and the petty stuff which is inherent and often dominant in our politics.
The Charest report was a quintessential Canadian move, and a rather desperate one. Bouchard reacted honestly and openly. It could not be the basis of further discussion to change Meech. Quebec could not accept such humiliation.
Arguably, the resignation and the declaration against the Charest report wasn’t clever of Bouchard. Arguably, it was very cruel to his classmate and friend. But it has reduced the constitutional dilemma we have to its essence. That essence has the same old duality which has been with us and our predecessors for almost two centuries.
In English Canada the essence is that the majority of people are no longer willing to make what they see as concessions to Quebec. To go back to the dictum of Pierre Trudeau, a leading creator of present dilemmas, constitutionally Quebec must be a province like any other.
In effect, this is what Clyde Wells had been advancing. Much as I may disagree with Wells I concede his stand has made him exceptionally popular in English Canada. Wells is its hero; Bouchard just another Quebec villain.
In Quebec the essence is that a minimalist arrangement accepted in good faith by the government and the people has been broken by some of those in English Canada whose provinces agreed to it.
So Quebec again is threatened with the same isolation that happened during the constitutional changes which followed after the defeat of the sovereignty association proposition.
Mulroney’s a Quebecer; so is Jean Chretien. Where are they to be as federal politicians if Lucien Bouchard does mirror Quebec’s attitudes?

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, May 21, 1990
ID: 12022227
TAG: 199005210190
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THE HILL’S CLASS OF ’88

Many of us who cover federal politics listen and/or view the proceedings of the House each day, particularly the oral question period. From such scans and audits here’s my brief impressions of some MPs (alphabetically from A to J) who were new in 1988.
Jack Anawak (Lib. Nuniatsiaq): An Inuit, who succeeded a Tory Inuit in the Eastern Arctic, who had succeeded an NDP Inuit. Anawak is a plain, common-sense MP who neither overdoes nor underplays his regional or aboriginal concerns and seems easier in the Hill context and with his fellow MPs than his two predecessors.
Mark Assad (Lib. Gatineau-La Lievre): Speaks with unusual finesse and partisan modesty for a Quebec Grit, especially one from the capital region.
Chris Axworthy (NDP Saskatoon-Clark’s Crossing): Young, handsome, the familiar NDP lecturer-type, earnest, data-full, and dull, particularly a contrast to Ray Hnatyshyn, the man he beat.
Bud Bird (PC Fredericton-York-Sunbury): Probably the ablest, smoothest MP in the ’88 pack. His cabinet experience in New Brunswick shows in mien, speech and the content.
Dawn Black (NDP New Westminster-Burnaby): This strident feminist seems far more birdbrained than most.
Ethel Blondin (Lib. Western Arctic): Smart, warm, likable, droll, and determined.
John Brewin (NDP Victoria): Speaks easily and pleasantly and is well-prepared – a likable, fair-minded son of a likable, fair-minded father and MP (the late Andy Brewin).
Steve Butland (NDP Sault Ste. Marie): Hardly ever gets untracked.
Catherine Callbeck (Lib. Mapleque): Has fine content, reflecting time in a P.E.I. cabinet, but the “marble in the mouth” echoes of her speech makes for hard listening.
Marlene Catterall (Lib. Ottawa West): A bleater, aptly nicknamed Ms. Caterwaul.
Mary Clancy (Lib. Halifax): A full-flight partisan, if you cherish partisanship; she seems less obstreperous and so more convincing since she was chastised by the Nova Scotia bar for poor lawyering.
John Cole (PC York-Simcoe): Sinc Steven’s successor and victor over Frank Stronach is a handsome, House unobtrusive who has made chairing the House sports committee his main beat.
Joe Comuzzi (Lib. Thunder Bay-Nipigon): Impressively large, impressively good-natured and well-spoken but overshadowed by pushy colleagues more intent on fame and “ink.”
Rex Crawford (Lib. Kent): A possible Grit minister of agriculture, more polished in speech than Gene Whelan but sounds off in the same key.
Dorothy Dobbie (PC Winnipeg South): Seems an old hand as an MP, adroit in partisanship. A possible Tory wheelhorse in Manitoba if Jake Epp quits.
Phil Edmonston (NDP Chambly): Newest of the new; and engaging, in and out of the House.
Ron Fisher (NDP Saskatoon-Dundurn): A journeyman unionist who has yet to catch in the House with any notable issues or themes.
Joe Fontana (Lib. London East): Anticipated as an embarrassment by the Liberals and a House thug by the Tories, he seems mild and mildly out of place.
Ray Funk (NDP Prince Albert-Churchill River): This highly educated, experienced farmer and agricultural expert is neither as active nor as convincing as his party’s pre-election publicity suggested.
Beryl Gaffney (Lib. Nepean): While a quite pompous partisanship ill suits her seniority and seriousness, Gaffney’s long work in the capital’s municipal affairs show in good though heavy questions and speeches.
Brian Gardiner (NDP Prince George-Bulkley Valley): Lots of vitality and crassmess, which should smooth into capable parliamentary work.
Barbara Greene (PC Don Valley North): Far less heard and much less forthright than expected.
Deborah Grey (Reform Party Beaver River): A most competent speaker, easy to listen to, usually analytical, usually constructive.
Albina Guernieri (Lib. Mississauga East): A Little Bo-Peep appearance and a wee voice distract from what seem to be serious, thoughtful views.
Mac Harb (Lib. Ottawa Centre): A perennial alderman type, figuratively and literally a jerk, the man who beat Turner’s choice, Maudie Barlow, for the Grit slot.
John Harvard (Lib. Winnipeg St. James): Perhaps the biggest bust of the most well-hyped arrivals. Noise, bluster, rant . . . and quite empty.
Ross Harvey (NDP Edmonton East): A blowhard like Harvard, but saved because of humor, often self-mocking. If he lasts, a future House “Mr. Chips.”
Lyn Hunter (NDP Saanich Gulf Islands): An Amazonian feminist in stature, voice and argument. Admirably forceful if you appreciate the message.
Jim Jordan (Lib. Leeds Grenville): Even more self-effacing and seldom heard than his Tory predecessor, the Widow Cossitt.
More soon.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, May 20, 1990
ID: 12022034
TAG: 199005200189
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C6
COLUMN: In Ottawa
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

MEECH LAKE PARTY LINES

Can you bear more on Quebec and the Meech Lake accord? Largely this is an appraisal of the federal parties on Meech.
After two years of fooferaw, few of us remain neutral about the accord. A substantial minority of Canadians seems to want it as it is or with some addenda which Quebec and Newfoundland will accept. But a fair majority appears not to want the most significant constitutional changes in the accord. These centre on Quebec.
We have Meech as a try at bringing the government and the national assembly of Quebec to acceptance of the Canadian Constitution.
For those against Meech there seem three sets of good reasons:
1) Because the changes go too far in recognizing Quebec’s distinctiveness or differences;
2) Because the accord devolves too much power to the provinces through giving them roles in the appointments of judges and senators, in setting immigration policies and, particularly, in making large-scale federal-provincial shared programs harder to achieve and easier to keep out of.
3) Because the accord does not entrench more specifically the rights of three particular groups of people – aborigines, females and ethnics.
It’s clear that most popular antagonism to the accord is in English Canada (i.e., outside Quebec). Opinion polls show it is high and suggest (at least to me) that much of the feeling is simply anti-French in nature, worked up and broadened from age-old prejudices, particularly about language, into a thorough exasperation that Quebec always wants more and federal politicians (e.g., Mulroney) have been over-ready too accede to these wants.
It’s also clear that the antagonism to Quebec, and so to the accord, jumps party lines, even though the three parties in Parliament have cleaved to Meech through several parliamentary years and reconfirmed this in the unanimity of the Charest committee.
The Liberal party has the most obvious problem with Meech though it may not seem as immediate or crucial as it is for the Tories. Liberal dissenters include genuine stars like Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chretien. They see Meech as permanently weakening strong, federal leadership and giving Quebec too much insularity from the whole.
The New Democrats are less fundamentally split than the Liberals but because of several constituencies intrinsic to the party they much need measures in a companion or parallel accord that fulfil their support for aborigines, women, ethnics and the aspirations to provincehood in the Yukon and the Northwest Territories.
The federal Tories seem the most united party on Meech and on saving the accord with some companion riders. Such seeming unity is a drastic simplification. It stems so much from Brian Mulroney’s extraordinary grip on his caucus. It overlooks deep difficulties in the party’s basic backing in Quebec and in its western support.
The natural constituencies of the party, particularly in Ontario and through the West, have a large bias against accommodation to Quebec’s aspirations. This bias explains the surge to respectability of the Reform Party.
The near certainty that the Reform Party will take a swatch of seats in the West, even as many as 40 in the next general election, is plainly coming through a mighty influx of disillusioned electors who have voted Tory since the glory days of John Diefenbaker. Meanwhile, the MPs from Quebec in the PC caucus are by and large more nationalistic and autonomy-minded for Quebec than any before. (This judgment includes both Liberal and Creditiste representation in past Houses.)
Both the ministers Bouchard, Lucien and Benoit, symbolize this nationalism and its quality in force and talent. If such as these pack up at Ottawa and go home, the game is gone for both Mulroney and the Tory party in Quebec.
The simplistic point of Meech accord vis-a-vis federal party politics is that gained or lost it has and will gore all three federal parties.
On balance each party would seem to have more to gain or avoid if Meech or Meech “Plus” is achieved. However, such common cause doesn’t mean what it would have meant a few decades ago. Then the provincial parties, particularly Liberal and Tory, were more closely, and often dutifully, aligned with the federal leaders and their parties. Not now.
Neither in Quebec nor in Manitoba and Newfoundland do the premiers and parties march to the drums of their federal counterparts.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, May 18, 1990
ID: 12021591
TAG: 199005180281
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

AMERICANIZING CANADA

The squeeze of time and fright over economics have altered the prospects of the Meech Lake accord. The conciliatory lines in the Charest report make a useful frame for a fresh try at unanimity by the first ministers.
Some of us who were doomsayers short days ago were wrong. What seemed a very long shot now has shortened odds. Now Meech “Plus” seems possible, though far from a certainty.
Although the Charest report is sensible on the Senate it may not wash so well in Western Canada or Newfoundland where a reformed Senate, better representing the regions, has such importance. What has the Commons committee headed by Jean Charest said about the Senate? Both the recommendation and its explanation are worth repeating.
“Your committee recommends that Senate reform should be a priority item for the next constitutional round.”
In explanation, the committee said:
“There is less consensus than we expected about the shape and function of a reformed Senate and there is little chance of building a consensus as long as the present deadlock continues. We have proposed a way to get us over the initial impasse and to get talks started. Once that happens we are convinced that Canadians will turn their attention to Senate reform and other outstanding items.”
In short, the MPs want a long public discussion on what will make a useful, workable second chamber, figuring out numbers, powers, and relations with the Commons, cabinet, and provincial first ministers.
To ease western fears of Quebec and Ontario refusing to accept serious powers for a Senate which has regional “equality,” the committee recommends that the first ministers agree that the rule of unanimous consent for Senate reform be waived after “say three years.” This leaves lot of room in setting the number of provinces and the population totals needed to ratify Senate reform.
Federally we have had 123 years experience with a second chamber, i.e., with a Parliament which consists of the House of Commons, the Senate and the Crown. For “Crown” read the executive or cabinet; i.e., the cabinet having a presence in both chambers (in particular, of course, in the House.)
Our Senate is and has been partisan. It is run along partisan lines. Any talk about a new Senate must recognize that such partisanship is inevitable. If senators are elected in off years of House elections (which will determine who is prime minister) there’s the likelihood of just what we have with today’s unelected senate – a body opposed to the government.
In the U.S. the executive is outside both House and Senate. There, the political parties determine majority or minority status in both parts of Congress but partisanship has nothing like the grip our party leaders have in Parliament.
Westerners get much inspiration from the U.S. for their so-called Triple E Senate – elected, equal (in numbers from each province), and effective (with genuine powers matching those of the House).
In most suggestions from the West on senate reform few references are made to the basic division of powers in the U.S. between the executive, Congress, and Supreme Court. And rarely is their advocacy for the American reality of an executive outside the two legislatures. It would be a huge step but no more so than the adoption of the Charter of Rights.
The Charter gave a huge role to our Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court is as fundamental in the political system as Congress and the president. With our Charter, Parliament ceased to be our “highest court.” So did legislatures within provincial jurisdictions. Now our justices, not those we elect, are the arbiters of what is right or wrong in law and regulation. They, not MPs or MPPs, interpret the rights of individuals and groups. They issue dicta on what is or is not acceptable – on abortion, for example.
Charter decisions are Americanizing us. We’re more litigious. A host of federal and provincial laws are under challenge, and an American-like perception that individual rights are paramount over collective or group rights is emerging.
So, in for a penny, why not in for a pound?
Why not go further in imitating our neighbor?
Take our executive arm out of Parliament. Give the legislative arm (including the Senate) powers to check executive laws and spending. Give the executive limited veto powers over parliamentary initiatives.
In sum, take up the American game in which groups and interests bargain and trade for laws and appropriations. Give each province, even tiny P.E.I., a continuing piece in the federal political game through “equal” senatorial representation. P.E.I. equals Ontario, equals Manitoba, etc.
Of course, this would mean mimicking the U.S. presidency. The whole electorate would vote for a prime minister. Such a change would hardly be startling. TV and growing complexities of the economy and social life have made “the leader” far more a national focus than, say, in Mackenzie King’s days.
The American president often must bargain for congressional co-operation but Congress cannot end a president’s mandate.
You can see so many choices and variables for Senate reform. All of us, not just politicians, need to ponder this second chamber prospect. Remember, Senate reform is only popular outside Quebec and Ontario. A lot of us need to be convinced of a Senate’s worth.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, May 16, 1990
ID: 12020974
TAG: 199005160310
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

FEMINISM’S MOTLEY CREW

When trying to understand a lobby group, it helps to see its members gathered together walking or eating lunch.
The delegates to the annual meeting of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women (NAC) have been in Ottawa. Small swarms of them were in the cafeterias, the galleries and the corridors on the Hill. Most bands were guided by NDP women MPs or female aides and researchers from the NDP caucus.
You may have noticed several TV news items about this NAC gathering and seen its zesty new president, Judy Rebick, scoffing scornfully at the Mulroney government, or Mary Collins, the minister assigned to “women’s affairs,” smiling grimly through sweet phrases on why she and the PC caucus would not return to the annual rite of being badgered publicly by NAC delegates.
There was the familiar, feminist litany: They demand a national daycare system, more Ottawa money for women’s centres, abortion out of the Criminal Code, and stouter guarantees for women in the Constitution.
The NAC agenda is much like that of the NDP. It seems clear the NAC has lost backing and credibility with the Tories and Grits. Only the Canadian Labor Congress under Shirley Carr has matched the NAC at alienating government and turning off elected politicians.
That isn’t to say the NAC is no longer rather feared. Politicians do wince at the sustained viciousness which NAC spokeswomen unleash on those in office. But all in all the glory years of the NAC as a political influence seem gone. The likes of Doris Anderson (1982-84) and Chaviva Hosek (1986) seem so polished and well-spoken in contrast to their successors at the front of the organization.
An accusation often thrown at the organized feminists of Canada is that they have been, and are, much more a force in abetting the vocational progress of highly educated, middle-class women than effective advocates of “hard times” women – the poor, the disadvantaged, the jobless.
If one appraises visually the NAC delegates in Ottawa this talk of middle-class enhancement seems awry. It would be hard for me to imagine a group of women less sophisticated in dress and appearance or more aggressive in voice and gesture. There was hardly a well-wrought coiffure or a stylish dress in the mob. There were far more running shoes than pumps, far more knapsacks and cloth bags than leather purses or briefcases. Several delegates could double in a movie as Yonge Street bag-ladies. The majority seems between 35 and 50 years of age.
On appearance then, the NAC delegates are hardly a cross-section of Canadian women. It’s not believable they represent 3 1/2 million women. Perhaps they never did. Also, the militant bluntness of what the delegates were saying to each other and to those to whom they spoke was very much that of a radical, left-wing lobby that neither symbolizes a wide constituency nor even bothers trying to do so.
The partisan significance of the NAC may be important in the future of Audrey McLaughlin as the NDP leader. One must take from both her themes in the House and across the country and the way her four women MPs are in the forefront of recent caucus performances that NDP strategists are zeroing on the women’s vote and their leader’s appeal to it.
The NAC delegates seem perfect fits with such a strategy . . . except that they seem as thin a slice of the female spectrum as the NDP has been of the voters’ spectrum.

A few weeks ago Helmut Schmidt gave a major address on British TV appraising what’s happened and what we face in the world’s current flux. I found it a literate synopsis of his recent best-seller, Men and Powers, now published in English by Random House.
Schmidt, the Social Democratic chancellor of West Germany from 1974 to 1982, had currency and a respect in Canada as a world leader because of his closeness to Pierre Trudeau, then our prime minister. Their friendship and the open respectfulness of our PM for Schmidt’s judgments in economics and diplomacy helped build and sustain Trudeau’s image at home as a leader in the high councils of the world in whom we could take pride.
Two notes in the ex-chancellor’s book confirm the rapport. Firstly, in referring to the second economic “summit” held in Puerto Rico, Schmidt says:
“For the first time Canada was included, and Pierre Trudeau turned out to be a productive participant.”
Secondly, in sketching the summit at Montebello which Trudeau hosted and in which Ronald Reagan and Francois Mitterrand appeared for the first time, Schmidt writes:
“The clever, reflective, and outwardly almost always cheerful Canadian prime minister, Pierre Trudeau . . . had called the meeting in a large log-cabin style hotel in an almost untouched landscape. None of us could help but feel well here – most especially Reagan . . . there was a lot of laughter. I had known Trudeau for years, and to this day I have a liking for him. As chairman of the conference, he saw to it that the proceedings in Montebello ran a brisk but relaxed course.”
There is not a word in Schmidt’s broad canvass of global affairs and leadership initiatives, however, about Trudeau’s major career gambit in international affairs – his grand “peace initiative” and world tour, late in his reign as PM.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, May 14, 1990
ID: 12020440
TAG: 199005140336
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

EUROPEAN REFLECTIONS

For a visitor in Western Europe there are wide differences from what he found as recently as two years ago, insofar as they are apparent through viewing television and reading the newspapers.
What relish and welcome there may have been a few months ago at the humanizing of the Russian ogre and the breakdown of Soviet control over the Baltic states and Eastern Europe has become a large bag of fresh worries and apprehensions.
The two chief apprehensions are very obvious: First, the shakiness of Mikhail Gorbachev’s leadership and the prospect he may be swept away by reactionary forces; second, the reunification of Germany.
Of course, these apprehensions are linked in many ways. They seem to be approached in commentary or analysis through three avenues.
1) In speculation on the nature, qualities and stability of the national political structures shaping from both a disintegrating Soviet empire and a united Germany.
2) In appraising the economic mix, perhaps chaos, which may or will ensue in market forces and governmental enterprises.
3) In canvassing the best defence relationships and the military systems possible, not only for Europe, but globally; in particular, in arguments for not disarming rapidly.
As Canadians we are attuned to both the psyche and the world role and aims of our southern neighbor. Just through lack of mention and in a lesser respectfulness, the Western Europeans seem to see theirs as the vital locale where the world of the 21st century will be determined. Somehow the U.S. is less the imperative global force – militarily, economically and culturally – it has been since Germany, Japan and Italy were defeated in the mid-1940s.
The topics for analysis in the European media are more various and more imaginative than at any time in modern memory. South Africa and apartheid have lost media primacy, so has Japanese economic development and leadership, so has the withdrawal into reaction of China, so has the danger of Third World poverty. Even the environment as the trendy issue in all advanced countries has slipped back, except in sombrely noting the enormity of pollution throughout the once-communist world.
For a Canadian, conditioned to see political compromise and a mixed economy as sensible, there’s wry amusement at seeing advocacy for both coming on strongly in Europe. Here are some examples.
There’s near unanimity there ought not to be a rush to political independence and economic freedom for the reluctant Soviet republics like Lithuania. Why not? Because it so destabilizes the Soviet Union and puts Gorbachev in peril.
There’s almost as much unanimity that West Germany will and should push quickly to reunification with East Germany, but overwhelmingly with the caveat that a united Germany must be a part of the military alliance of the West (NATO) even though this may be hard for the Soviets to accept.
A broad consensus wants all the nations of the free world (of course, with much help from the U.S. and Japan) to prepare and give big, various packages of economic aid so as to ensure some minimum in economic health in the wretched countries of the East Bloc. They must have western loans, equipment and expertise.
One does not find quite the clamorous confidence in private enterprise and the ideology of the market there seems to have been only a few months ago in Western Europe, and which still runs so exuberantly in North American analysis of the victory over the “evil empire.”
That is, capitalism’s “victory” over socialism has rather given way to an appreciation of the possible social havoc and political instability – particularly in Russia. Too sudden an abandonment of dependence on and a belief in a planned economy which is largely state-owned for a market economy that is largely privately-owned is dangerous.
In short, too much crowing at the death of socialism may fog the need to move slowly toward a market economy and a world wide open to trade, rather than to destroy abruptly old patterns and state bureaucracies for a turbulent swirl of abandonment, experiment. In short, private enterprise running wild.
Another caution in European editorial comment is also amusing for a Canadian. Yes, national aspirations must be recognized. Yes, self-determination and self-government for distinctive peoples are imperative. Ah, yes. But . . . such aspirations are accompanied by an array of historical hatreds and fears. These are so unsettling, so fragmenting, so dangerous.
Of course, there’s discordance between such sensibility over nationalistic fervors and the clear reality of most European countries, from Sweden through Holland, Gemany, Belgium, France and Britain that tight, exclusionary immigration policies are very popular.
Of all the nationalisms, that of Germans is seen as the most worrisome. However, West Germany is too strong economically and too united politically to be denied reunification. Nevertheless, a spectre of a powerful, Germany looms again after four decades in abeyance. Few of the stories state it, but many skirt an apprehension that it may be more dangerous than the USSR and its Marxist ideology.
It may be a fool’s paradise but it’s not bad being a few thousand miles from such swirl.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, May 13, 1990
ID: 12020177
TAG: 199005130385
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: C6
COLUMN: In Ottawa
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

TRUE PATRIOT LOVE …

Why is our patriotism so tentative and low-key?
It’s worth review. The subject was made immediate for me last week because, in one form or another, the leading query among several thousand World War II veterans in Holland last week went like this:
Why do the Dutch remember and appreciate what we did in their liberation in 1944-45 so much more than Canadians have remembered?
An easy, partial answer is that the Dutch had suffered through five terrible years of Nazi occupation. Canada was far from such suffering. The Dutch liberation was immensely joyous, a momentous occasion in the story of a nation which had fought over centuries against both the sea and tyrants for its land and freedom. Canadians may have fought in several wars for the cause of freedom, but always far from home.
But the chief cause of the very different appreciations is plain. The following incidents among the veterans themselves set it out very well.
There was a highlight ceremony in the veterans’ pilgrimage to Holland’s celebration of liberation 45 years ago. It was at a cemetery at Groesbeek in east-central Holland. Several thousand Canadians lie there, most of whom were infantrymen. The cemetery is beautifully proportioned, the long rows of headstones facing a raised cross on a large, grassy mound. The weather was kind. A soft, sunny May morning. The grass was green, the leaves were out and flowers were everywhere.
Small stands full of veterans and their wives, a squad of our soldiers from our NATO brigade, and the band of the Princess Pats from Calgary lined the sides below the mound in front of which sat the minister for veterans affairs and his guests, including a Dutch princess born in Canada during the war.
At the steps to the mound and the cross were chaplains, a bugler, and a piper. The speeches were short; the Last Post, the Lament, and the Reveille exquisitely done in turn. There were prayers, and many wreaths were laid. The scene and the activities were in harmony – solemn, dignified and emotionally moving.
Our ambassador to Holland is a French Canadian. So is the chaplain priest who took part. Each spoke in French . . . briefly. When they did there was a murmuring of sound from several places in the veterans’ stands. It was not loud or particular enough to disfigure the ceremonies . . . but it was there.
After, with dignitaries gone and the troops marched off, most of the veterans and their Dutch hosts fanned along the rows, most searching for unit comrades. As I was doing this a very agitated veteran spoke to me. He wore the insignia of the Signal Corps and his name was obviously English. His Legion shield was from a Montreal branch. Our conversation went like this.
“Did you hear the objections when French was used?”
“So that’s what the murmurs were,” I replied.
“Yes,” he said. “I couldn’t believe what burst out from some around me, and across the way: `Speak English!’ Imagine it, crying `Speak English’ here. The protests were loudest when the padre spoke in French. He was very brief. Even so a lot of those near me objected at his use of his language.”
The Montrealer continued. He told me he was a Quebecer and had lived among French Canadians all his life. Some of those whose graves he was looking for were boyhood friends – French Canadians. He waved down the rows and said:
“Look at the names. About every third or fourth one is French. See all the dead from the Chaudieres? The Maissoneuves? The Fusiliers-Mont Royal? There’s a slew of the Black Watch from Montreal buried here. A lot of them were French Canadian. What future’s Canada got with bias like that – from veterans – at a time like this?
A good question. My response could only stress that our basic division predated Confederation, and it has lasted. It has, it does, and it will affect us. Our twinned political traits of compromise and waffle come from this “gut” division of languages, values, and heritages. To accommodate it we have the heavy complexities of federalism with more governmental bureaucracies than other western countries.
Our systems are costly, and work against a simple, plain, national unity. Regional interests are always contesting national programs or demanding fairer shares. Patriotism fractures or is diverted.
Take the war this Dutch cemetery symbolizes. After it our federal politicians in power chose to underplay the struggle and Canadian achievements. Too much remembrance recalls our basic split, the fact our two communities responded rather differently.
The Montrealer shrugged after my words and left, saying he was going home “in despair.”

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, May 09, 1990
ID: 12018728
TAG: 199005090296
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THEY REMEMBER, LEST WE FORGET

DATELINE: AMERSFOORT, the Netherlands
The Dutch remember well – all of them, old and young alike. Canadians do not, and that contrast underlies the awkwardness felt by World War II veterans in the Netherlands for the 45th anniversary of the German surrender.
Of course, there’s an irony in the anniversary that the Dutch are much more seized with than we are. In effect, the anniversary of Germany’s defeat and their liberation coincides with the beginning of a new Reich, a unified Germany, and, as some Dutch see it, the vanquished become victor.
It’s commonplace that Canada has a significant, favorable image in the Netherlands. It’s an old hat story to me. Since the war I’ve come back to Holland a dozen times and made my own pilgrimages to the several cemeteries where friends are buried.
Our regiment had first entered Holland in October, 1944. For most of the next seven months we fought here, in the winter months along the Rhine and the Maas Rivers, in the spring jumping the rivers and running north through places like Deventer, Zwolle, to Leeuwarden and the northern province of Friesland.
After we took part in the immense victory parade past Queen Wilhemina in Amsterdam we escorted much of the surrendered army back to Germany over the causeway which then rimmed the Zuider Zee.
GRATEFUL PEOPLE
Such events, such travel, in a small compass of a country with a people so joyful and so grateful to those they saw as responsible for their liberation, means that the several thousand of us who’ve come back this May are not strangers or surprised by durable Dutch traits like intense civic cleanliness and remarkable public courtesy.
But that they should remember us so thoroughly and display it so forwardly in signs, flags, speeches and hearty public cheers and applause is unsettling when put alongside the massive indifference or ignorance at home about the actions and the casualties taken before the surrender came on May 5, 1945.
Over some four days we have stood on seven occasions for the anthems of Canada and the Netherlands. Such a contrast! In glancing around each time at the crowds – varying in size from several hundred to over 10,000 – I’ve only been able to find a very few Dutch not joined in singing their national anthem from first word to last. Really singing out. The exceptions have been the very little children.
There’s nothing self-conscious or rousingly patriotic about such participation, none of that slow creep into actually mouthing the words aloud well after the music begins so certain at a Canadian gathering. Theirs is a comfortable pride and certainty about their nation.
At both the military cemetery at Holten and later at a tattoo ceremony at dusk in Apeldoorn, there were hundreds of us in the gathering, mostly veterans and their relatives, yet even such a particular lot of Canadians mumbled into the anthem and only came on significantly on the last line of “stand on guard for thee.”
At Holten, a morning ceremony was organized around the children and concluded with a swarm of them fanned out around the 1,800 Canadian graves to lay fresh flowers on each one. That they do this each year, and have for over 40 years, is very humbling to a Canadian. Later, as I searched for graves of crewmates killed 45 years ago, several 10-year-olds volunteered to cover more rows than I could if I’d tell them the names and the regiment.
Several dozen veterans told me they can hardly credit how keen and knowledgeable the kids are about the campaign and the divisions and regiments. Their country’s travail under the German yoke and the ways and means of its lifting show that such history is very much a topic of school work and family recall.
CANADIAN HEROES
From a plain, noisy, joyous welcome party put on by a small town for a few hundred of us to the majestic church service in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam with Queen Beatrix, her consort and sons present, Canada and Canadians were remembered and extolled as liberators.
What stood out at the village of Nijverdal was evidence in banners and plaques and flags that days of work had gone into blanketing homes and streets with our symbols, our slogans.
The strongest contrast to Canadian behavior was the applause along the streets when the Dutch prime minister and some of his ministers walked by. This happened in the big city and at the small town of Wageningen. My hosts told me this was courtesy applause – due respect for the office – rather than partisan approval or personal enthusiasm.
The pathos for many of us here at the remembrances is that when we group and talk, it’s about Meech Lake. We wish we had the brand and strength of unity which the the Dutch show so squarely. But we know that at home we have a country in slow but real jeopardy.
Here Canada is taken as a wonderful, proud land of patriots. Most of us regret it is not.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, May 06, 1990
ID: 12017679
TAG: 199005060163
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C3
COLUMN: In Ottawa
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

NATIVES HOSTILE TO CRITICISM

Some of those who lead the Indians of Canada believe hostile criticism in my columns overdoes the high cost of federal Indianism and its wrongheadedness in sustaining welfare enclaves in perpetuity.
The well-spring of the swelling aboriginal movement is the continual reinforcement of non-native guilt. Again and again we must answer for the the mean treatment accorded Indians, Inuit, and Metis and the still dreadful conditions of their lives.
I state this while recognizing there has been – and is – much discrimination against many native peoples.
I grew up with Indians. My home town is now known as “the Ojibway capital” of Canada. When I was an MP my constituency had more status Indians in it than any except the ridings in the Yukon and the Northwest Territories. It was through close experience, plus watching federal spending on native affairs crank up from $60 million in 1958 to $4 billion this year, which has led me to advocate an end to all particular native privileges.
The latter include a perpetual blood right or “status” and the federal treasury’s support of “bands” scattered across the country on apartheid-like reserves. Most of the bands are miles in distance and outlook from any real participation as workers or managers in our economy.
Until we scrap this craven, unsuccessful system of welfare support which fosters idleness and drunkenness, natives will make small progress in either sharing or earning a share in the standards and prospects the rest of us enjoy. Native affairs’ spending divides out now at a per head rate of $40,000. It’s silly to raise such a figure, except to underline the inordinate costs of the aborigines’ programs and the poor results in terms of people living well or honorably.
There’s immense prating over white scorn or neglect of native culture, ways of life and heritages. The reality is that aside from a few northerly regions few native communities or nomads can survive on the traditional hunting/trapping/fishing. Our much scattered natives have many different languages and no common religion. Their only literature is the growing one in English which dwells on wrongs and grievances.
The Indian leaders demand their rights be incorporated in the Constitution. They insist their “nations” be recognized participants at first ministers’ conferences. The federal government is in the process of large land settlements with some of the bands even though most of these guarantee federally funded ghettos. It’s all costly and sure to work badly, but the trend seems inexorable.
Here’s part of a vigorous response to my stress on the high costs of Indianism. It’s from an Urban Callinglast at a Toronto address. Yet he makes a sterling point for my arguments: The intrinsic over-bureaucracy of Indianism. He writes:
“You keep hyperventilating on the budget of Indian affairs. Bear in mind 84% of that doesn’t reach the natives. The “trickle down” is slight and slow . . . The Indians aren’t to blame for the inept, sinecure system of the federal bureaucracy . . . Just because the Indians are different skinned to you doesn’t mean they can’t reason and think. The media elite and big government sure do a job of back-scratching each other.
“At least one white big shot, Jim Pattison of Vancouver, who ran Expo 86, said two years ago: `If Canadians can really see the way the politicians and mandarins in Ottawa live and carry on there’d be a revolution in this country.’ ”

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, May 04, 1990
ID: 12017345
TAG: 199005040304
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

WE’RE PRODUCTS OF OUR PAST

Not knowing history is hurting us again.
One finds so much ignorance of our past and hostility to its main theme in the debate over the Meech accord.
In my mail and in what I see in letters to the editor of English dailies, so many want to defy past decisions.
The two most impassioned of such dissents are over what should have happened after Wolfe’s victory on the Plains of Abraham, and why our leaders forget the rightful imperative of a strong, national government, one superior to provincial ones.
You must have heard these rhetorical questions: Didn’t we win? Didn’t the French lose?
I recall Jean Lesage, then the leader of Quebec’s “Quiet Revolution,” touring through the West in the mid-’60s. At Port Arthur on his way home he told us he was shocked to find such ignorance in the West about Eastern Canada, especially Quebec. Even though his ancestors had come rather late to Quebec (1685) he felt he had to tell us Quebec’s story.
He put Wolfe’s victory into a Quebec perspective. The battle on the Plains of Abraham was “little more than a skirmish, lasting about 20 minutes.” Hardly any French Canadians were part of it. It was merely levies of the British and French kings against each other. A far more significant event than the battle came five years later in the Quebec Act of 1774. It accorded freedom to the Roman Catholic Church and its adherents in Canada, freedoms Catholics were denied in Britain. The Church could even collect tithes, and the system of civil law in the colony, touching on language, property, commerce, etc., was also approved.
Lesage relished that Quebec as a political community was born out of Britain’s political failure with her American colonies. An emerging revolt against imperial taxation in the Americas made the British appreciate Canada as a safe base in any struggle. The success of the American revolution brought the British to accept representative government (i.e., elected assemblies) for their remaining continental colonies.
After the United States was functioning, Britain, through the Constitutional Act of 1791, set up a reformed political framework for the rest of the colonies, in part because each was getting a lot of loyalist refugees.
The Act divided the territory along the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes. Both colonies obtained representative institutions in Upper and Lower Canada. Thus political action was opened to French Canadians and they quickly learned how to exploit the process.
After 1791 the Quebecois were figuratively on their way as a distinctive, durable community. It’s true that after rebellions in both Canadas in 1837 the imperial investigator, Lord Durham, recommended measures he thought would bring to a close the situation where one colony was largely run by those with a foreign language, religion, law, and culture. But among his measures was “responsible government,” that is, elected representatives also from the executive, not merely advice fromCrown.
The French Canadians took to the deals and alliances in which they shared executive power with English Canadian politicians, on terms which protected their own community and rights.
What in 1763 was a pastoral, hierarchical community of less than 70,000, most of whom were peasants, was readily incorporated with some unique attributes into the British system.
Any review of the 80 years from 1760 through the American Revolution to the aftermath of Durham’s report shows “the vanquished” were quickly placed in a strong position in their Quebec bailiwick, and one understands why “the Conquest” was a droll event to the late Lesage.
The French Canadian triumph over assimilation explains in part why the dream cherished by many English Canadians of a supreme national government has never become real, despite the immense energies put into two world wars.
It’s true the Fathers of Confederation in 1867, even the French Canadian ones, foresaw a federation dominated by the federal government, but the vision was blurred by the fiercer sentiments within each of the regional communities, and governments, within the federation.
It took the various provincial enclaves a long time to work up much truly Canadian sentiment, in part because Britishness was so strong.
Federal leaders who needed majorities to hold office, even our great, early prime ministers, Macdonald and Laurier, compromised. They rarely invoked federal powers. Great powers which the BNA Act had given Ottawa to command the provinces fell into disuse.
Aside from federal sensitivity to regional spirit and autonomy, many interpretations by our highest court, then the Privy Council in London, favored the provincial over the federal power.
Many of the writs picked up by provincial governments simply came from the huge spread of the country. Immediacy and handiness abetted the closer rulers, and this was complemented by progress in fields assigned to the provinces such as education, health, and commerce. Also, the growing cities and towns were constitutionally creatures of the provinces, not Ottawa.
Any honest sketch of our history shows why Canada cannot be a highly centralized nation. Nor has it been one without French Canadian distinctiveness, based on Quebec and its government.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, May 02, 1990
ID: 12016776
TAG: 199005020246
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

IS THE CHOICE JOBS OR TREES?

“Clear cuts are ugly and stupid!”
This screed is one of Earth Day’s reminders. It was scratched on light standards along the street past the Parliament buildings. The message is from the recent, successful “environmentalist” crusade over logging in the Caramanah region of B.C. and Temagami in Ontario.
The graffito in question is a frustrating symbol as National Forest Week begins because there’s much truth and much nonsense in the slogan. Such a disastrous mix is almost everywhere apparent in the war by those who would save the planet against industries based on using natural resources.
Only a fortnight ago Jack Munro, the blunt chief of the woodworkers’ union in B.C., was wroth at the successful sanctimony of the environmentalists. His union, he said, must reconsider its ties to the NDP if the party continues to back the Caramanah Valley line against cutting trees. Logging affronts the urban yuppies now so influential in the NDP, but to Munro it means jobs and good lives for thousands.
The truth in the slogan is that no clear cut is anything but ugly, at least for a few years. It’s the second part that’s haywire. In some cases and places, notably in coastal regions with high rainfall and fast growth, clear-cutting may be stupid and selective logging or strip logging may be far more sensible.
But most of the clear cuts are common sense in terms of timely harvesting, costs and better regenerative prospects. This is overwhelmingly so in the vast boreal forest lands of the Canadian Shield. There, only a mere shell would remain of our most important industry – pulp and paper – if clear-cutting were outlawed and selective cutting required. The industry would be priced out of business by high raw material costs.
The spruce and pine of the forests of Quebec, Ontario, and the three Prairie provinces which sustain our industries of pulp and paper and lumber, are rarely thick and large enough per hectare to merit the much more expensive selective cutting.
The key word for most of our forest lands and for our logging practices is extensive. Not intensive!
Industry, jobs, and forest-based communities like Kapuskasing and Dryden – and exports worth over $20 billion a year -come from extensive operations over rarely intense forests. Much more acreage in the boreal forests gives few cords or no cords at all.
It’s simple enough to shut an industry. For our forest industries the battle is at both ends – over the trees on the land and about the needfulness of the end products.
Most forestry work can be snuffed through the control by provincial governments of the wood supply or through demanding silvicultural practices which make the costs of both harvesting and regeneration very high. The work of environmentalists for recycling paper and for reductions in the use of wood and paper products in packaging and building are squeezing the markets for wood products. As the enlightenment spreads like a new Methodism so will our forest industries decline as they are regulated out of raw materials and their market demand sinks.
This estimate of mine is reached because I meet or hear or see the witness from so many of the concerned idealists. Most are young and inspired by visionary leaders like David Suzuki. They believe – and those of us who “read” politicians sense this – that Canadians really are rallying to save the planet. They are almost at the stage of wanting the forest industry much reduced. Trees and forests have become too sacred for massacre. They are too needful in saving the Earth and the coming generations from the apocalypse of global warming.
You may see exaggeration in my presentation, but the issue as a national dilemma is symbolized in both the enthusiasm and the ignorance in the message that “Clear cuts are ugly and stupid.”
The revolt against our rape of nature is strongest among young people living in cities all across the western world. For the common cause they are ready for lower personal standards of living. It’s obvious our politicians are more deeply worried about the environmentalists than about the public debt or the Meech Lake accord.

Forty five years ago next week I enjoyed a splendid leave in Amsterdam with a crewmate. We’d survived. He was from Vancouver. Last week he died and large obituaries noted his career, his contribution to Western Canadian merchandising, and his volunteer works in his city and province.
Charles Woodward came as a co-driver and gunner to our armored car crew late in 1944. He was smart, modest, handsome, good-natured and, when it came, brave in action. We treasured him most as an adroit scrounger of food and comforts. I was unaware until after the war that he and a friend who came to us gave up officer’s commissions to get into battle. (The friend later won a Rhodes scholarship and became a CEO like Woody.) The two, as lieutenants, were at a training base on the Prairies when Woody used his father’s clout in Ottawa to get them overseas.
Charles wanted to be a rancher, not the proprietor of the family department store. A few years ago he told me how his father convinced him he must shoulder the larger obligation, not for the blood family but for the family of Woodward employees. Among Charles’ unknown deeds were jobs he found for fellows from our regiment. He leaves nice memories.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, April 30, 1990
ID: 12837667
TAG: 199004300217
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

FIVE QUOTABLE POLITICAL BOOKS

These are brief bits of insight or opinion on matters political from six new books.
From Time to Change, by Boyce Richardson (Summerhill Press, paperback, 299 pages). The author is one of our ablest, left-wing writers, an authority on natives and nature and how governments handle or mishandle both.
“Even without taking account of our responsibility for helping solve the new long-term problems of the economy, Canadian governments have plenty to worry about just to keep the country afloat in a global economic environment that is in a state of constant change. Basic to all our hopes is the need to keep Canada competitive, and sufficiently successful to generate the savings needed if we are to build the sort of society we would aspire to. This is going to be no easy task . . . ”
“Like many other people, Canadians have been slow to accept that national independence is diminishing in this rapidly changing world, that in fact Canada’s continued existence as a viable nation is by no means assured.”

From The Trouble With Canada, by William D. Gairdner (Stoddart, hardcover, 470 pages). Now in early middle-age, the author was a world-class track athlete. He’s well-to-do and much identified with the Fitness Institute in Toronto. His heroes are of the political right. His theme is that “a government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you have.” Gairdner is dour, even baleful, but he marshalls much odd data: e.g., in many lucid charts on the spending, debts, etc. of all our governments.
One chart shows “the relative dependence of each province on central government.” It allots the $21 billion transferred by Ottawa to the provinces in 1985-86, then puts each sum as a percentage of provincial expenditure. However one anticipates the range, it shocks. For P.E.I. the feds provided 51% of its budget; for Newfoundland 42%; for New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, 38%; Manitoba, 37%; Alberta, 30%; Saskatchewan, 26%; Quebec, 23%; B.C. 21% and Ontario 15%.

From Confessions of a Distant Liberal, by Gerald Doucet (privately published, paperback, 120 pages). This builds from a cranky critique of the Trudeau government in which the author served (in the PCO) to an ideological framework and program guidelines for a renewed Liberal party to bear into the next century. Gairdner and Doucet are at distant, political poles. The following opinion would bother Gairdner but Doucet makes a fair case for it.
“The policy of the governments of Pierre Trudeau was not linked to any specific philosophy, least of all to an ideological definition of liberalism. This mean the government could respond to problems and issues in a pragmatic and vote-responsive manner. Such an approach marked all Liberal governments in Canada in the 20th century, and it is now being copied by the Tory government of Brian Mulroney.”

From Canada’s Department of External Affairs (Vol. 1: The Early Years, 1909-1946) by John Hilliker (McGill-Queen’s, paperback, 406 pages). Hilliker heads the historical section of external affairs. This is a scholarly, much documented, straightforward account of the quiet birth and unobtrusive rise of EA until it had the top bureaucratic ranking with its men and esprit largely dominating our prideful postwar period.
“ . . . six more officers were added to the department in 1928-29: Keith Crowther, Hugh Keenleyside, Kenneth Kirkwood, Lester Pearson,, Paul-Emile Renaud and Norman Robertson. This competition was affected by veteran’s preference: Pearson, for example, as a result of war service had preference over Robertson . . . ”

“Ranging in age from mid-20s to early 30s, these men were more mature than the entrants to many occupations. All had previous work experience, and Kirkwood and Keenleyside, as well as Pearson, were veterans. Most important, all had strong academic backgrounds, with post-graduate degrees . . . They might be regarded as members of the intellectual middle class, whose educational background had established associations with their peers outside as well as within Canada.”

From Jimmy Gardiner, Relentless Liberal, by Norman Ward and David Smith (U of T Press, hardcover, 389 pages). For years Ward (who died this year) and Smith have been respected political scientists at University of Saskatchewan.
This is a concise, clear biography of an admirable but not very lovable politician. A teacher-farmer, he became premier of Saskatchewan, then the long-running federal minister of agriculture under King and St. Laurent. Jimmy Gardiner was fearsomely partisan and a master at regional organization and patronage over 45 years (1913-1958) as an MLA and MP.
Gardiner went back to his prairie farm after he was swamped in the Diefenbaker sweep of 1958. Many ex-ministers today get pensions of over $50,000 a year.
“In the last four years of his life he continued to campaign for the provincial Liberals and do a variety of political tasks, but on a pension of $3,000, adjusted downwards to take account of his old-age pension, practical considerations limited his ability to meet every request for help. As it was, he was forced on occasion to borrow money from the bank against expected remuneration for expenses from local associations.”

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, April 29, 1990
ID: 12837533
TAG: 199004290254
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C2
COLUMN: In Ottawa
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THE OTHER CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS

“The two Houses may well be unable to resolve their differences and be faced with a serious constitutional crisis . . . the Speaker of the House of Commons is powerless when an impasse develops around this long unresolved constitutional issue which is now exacerbated by a difference of opinion on matters of public policy.” – Speaker John Fraser, April 26, 1990.

Yes, we have a constitutional crisis other than Meech Lake. It’s over the right of a Senate that is controlled by appointees of a party hostile to the government to use hitherto unexercised powers in order to cripple or block government bills which raise money, set out spending or cut spending.
The crisis is so serious that one way out of it for the prime minister is to use powers to name senators – eight extra ones – which no predecessor has ever used. (This column suggested this probability months ago.)
If the goods and services tax is fundamental to the government, if the GST as law must be in place by November, then the PM must either get control of the Senate by numbers or somehow persuade the Liberal Senate group led by Allan MacEachen to back off its blocking and amending of government “money” bills.
One says “bills” because the Liberals have been stalling two other bills – one on unemployment insurance, another on income tax.
The biggest of the three bills, the GST, was passed to the Senate from the House two weeks ago and, symbolically, MacEachen responded by sending senators on a three-week holiday.
One says “by numbers” because on paper the Liberals presently have a margin of 19 senators over the Tories. But . . .
1) Some 13 Senate seats are empty.
2) Once the Meech Lake deadline in late June is passed the PM is cleared from its undertakings and may fill these seats with Tories.
3) Such normal appointments plus the eight extra senators allowed a PM by the Constitution would let Mulroney’s Senate leader, Lowell Murray, vote MacEachen out of controlling the Senate’s agenda. Thus the GST would roll into its place in the federal taxation regime on Jan. 1, 1991.
Brian Mulroney made a reluctant Harvie Andre his House leader a few months ago. Andre, a Calgarian, a former engineer and mathematician, 16 years an MP, has an aggressive, “say it as it is” personality. He has enjoyed running “line” departments.
Like everyone else around, he knows he’s not a finesse politician. Within the cabinet and caucus he’s been the pole star for those insisting on tougher cuts on spending programs. He’s also been the prime, internal advocate of forcefully deflating the swollen capacity of the opposition, especially the NDP, to delay government business with nuisance gambits.
The problem Mulroney must face has been there since 1984: A Senate so dominated by Pierre Trudeau’s rump that given a normal pattern of deaths and retirements the Liberals are set to boss the red chamber until the mid-1990s.
In 1988 Mulroney put this Liberal grip to his advantage. When the Senate shaped to block the free trade legislation he called an election, pointing to the Liberal behavior. He won. MacEachen then backed off the FTA.
Now, however, an election call is out of the question, either on the Senate’s offence in blocking the will of an elected House on a matter of money or on the particular issue of the GST.
Now Mulroney regrets he didn’t move long ago to solve the constitutional issue of the Senate’s powers which Speaker Fraser set out so starkly on Thursday.
Now Andre has the instrumental chore. He’s not subtle. There’s no time left for subtlety.
Yesterday I asked him about his options. He made it clear that cutting off moneys for the Senate could end with the House spiting itself.
The first option is to take the Senate’s gall or intransigence to the public, stressing both its undemocratic irresponsibility and the huge dollar costs – e.g., from the UIC bill block some $2 billion more this fiscal year. Let a searing from an affronted people work on the Trudeauites!
(It seems to me this would be more practical if the government were more popular.)
The second option blends from the first one. It is to work on the conscience and sense of history of the senators. Some Liberal senators, Andre believes, are discomfited with MacEachen’s strategy, perhaps enough to shake his rectitude and even his control.
But if such propaganda warfare isn’t working by late June the third option is stark – i.e., the double-barrelled swatch of new senators.
Away . . . into the constitutionally uncharted!

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, April 27, 1990
ID: 12837262
TAG: 199004270273
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

SPRING FEVER ON THE HILL

Pythagoras, a Greek philosopher posited winter as the season for sex, summer for continence, spring for tapering off and fall for working up to it. It’s somewhat a match of our parliamentary politics.
Spring comes late to Ottawa. Its arrival does divert politicians. And this year international news has been a glut. Also some of us blame the flaccid condition of the House on the Hill on the flat personalities of Herb Gray and Audrey McLaughlin, the opposition leaders. And clearly there’s a Brian Mulroney scheme to low-key question period, notably through other ministers handling what’s put to him.
For a topical case of the House as inane, see the MPs, including Speaker John Fraser, fuddling over remarks on “traitors” made in Halifax by our patriot MP, John Nunziata.
Is there significance in this fizzless, rather irrelevant House?
Not much. The leading topics through the summer will be: a) the attempts to salvage Meech, including a first ministers’ conference in four or five weeks; b) saving the GST bill by some legerdemain in senatorial appointments; c) fury and revulsion over the Bank of Canada’s interest rate policy; d) Jean Chretien’s takeover of the Liberal party and how he staffs its HQ, assigns caucus roles, builds his brain trust, and decides which riding to run in. Be sure Mulroney will jump to call a byelection for him.

A durable dilemma for politics of substance and complexity was illustrated early in the week. Eight committees of Parliament had joined to sponsor a forum on global climate change.
Afterwards, an arranger was rueful about the media coverage of the forum and the authorities who spoke there. He felt the print media hardly skimmed the story. As an example, the “national” newspaper spared it but a few column inches. But a slew of TV crews turned up. Their snips were used in stories on global warming for some five networks. He cringed, however, at the gist in these stories. Most of them were fluff or misinterpretations of remarks by participants.
A Metro region MP gave me another sample of a gulf between the substance in a major issue and its presentation to the public through the media. He has canvassed the editors and reporters of several small dailies and weeklies in his riding, asking what more might he provide them on the Meech accord.
He found takers for material put out by Parliament and the government but he was taken back at finding none of the five to whom he spoke had read the accord.
“Yet,” he said, “each had written critically about it.”

I’ve been chatting up MPs of the three parties on the great GST debate.
The Tories say the GST is not the topic which their constituents most bedevil them about. Nor is the Meech Lake accord. It’s high interest rates.
Do the constituents unload their feelings about the prime minister on them? Not much directly. What they get is more scorn than hate. Mulroney’s flannelling bugs them.
The opposition MPs confirm in part what the Tory MPs say about the GST. It’s still surefire for animosity but the hard edge of this is worn by the attacking criticism of it over so many months, always countered by Michael Wilson’s stubborn insistence. Their people are also hot about John Crow’s rates.
The Liberal MPs are sure Mulroney won’t resurrect himself a second time. He’s too much mocked and mockable. The NDP MPs fret about this because they could be in fourth place again if the Gallup numbers hold in the West to 1993.

The death this week at 87 of Ralph Cowan recalls how more fuss is usually made over Tory MPs in caucus trouble than over Grit MPs – even ministers – who bolt or are bounced. (Recent example: David Kilgour).
Cowan won the riding of York Humber for the Liberals in 1962, 1963 and 1965. He was rejected by his leader and caucus before the 1968 election and only got 8% of the vote in ’68 in High Park, running as an Independent Liberal.
Few MPs could match Cowan at knocking their boss or slanging party policies. For six years Lester Pearson was often a target of Cowan’s slurs. Cowan revelled in depicting Pearson as gutless “Mike” and it bothered Pearson because he and Cowan had known each other for 40 years.
Even in chat Cowan was vehement. He derided “concessions” to Quebec such as official bilingualism. But somehow it was thought bad taste to give Cowan’s spleen play.
Just a few years post-Cowan, the Tory caucus got Tom Cossitt of Brockville as a member. Once a Liberal riding association president, Cossitt was much used by Grits and reporters as demonstrating Bob Stanfield’s problems as party leader. Yet Cossitt and Cowan had remarkably similar views, especially on Quebec. Although Cowan was fierce in defence of the Toronto Star, his ideas were closer to those of the rival Telegram. Cowan was for many years a circulation manager at the Star. He looked on Beland Honderich, then its editor-in-chief, as a left-wing, Johnny-come-lately and a union lover. His reverence went to Honderich’s predecessor, Harry Hindmarsh, and back past him to the Star’s founder, Joe Atkinson.
As a public voice or in working conversations Cowan was often too nasty for fair politics. He was frank, however, and he had a thick hide.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, April 25, 1990
ID: 12836927
TAG: 199004250240
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

HISTORY REPEATS FOR MARTIN CLAN

Paul Martin, Sr., won’t savor the comparison, but Jean Chretien’s canter to certain victory over his son reminds me of the Liberal contest of 1958.
Then, as with Jean Chretien now, Lester Pearson was seen from the start of a mere nine-week race as certain to win over Martin, Sr., a more experienced politician (23 years to nine years as an MP).
To many Liberals at the time it was near sacrilege for Martin to challenge Pearson. The veteran cadre in a party 22 years in office was strong for Pearson, the outstanding statesman, over Martin, the stock politician. So the 1958 convention lacked tension or excitement, much as Calgary’s will in June.
Of course, in 1958 John Diefenbaker headed a neophyte minority government and obviously an election was near. This time an election is some three years ahead.
One should note two other Liberal leadership exercises: In 1968 there was enormous excitement; it was far less so in 1984 (largely John Turner vs. Chretien) although the outcome was more doubtful than today.
In his second run in 1968, Paul Martin, Sr., was even the favorite for a fortnight or two in the opinion polls. Pierre Trudeau, the eventual winner over Bob Winters, his near-stopper, was a novel candidate, an egghead with a fresh vocabulary and style.
The race in 1968 is the classic of leadership contests, in part because the winner was an instant PM (as so with Turner in 1984). Trudeau reached the convention as favorite but without a real shot at either a first or second ballot victory. And a and a gang-up against him was possible.
As the 1968 excitement mounted through some 16 weeks of rivalry, the delegates began to overlook parliamentary savvy, such as Martin’s 33 years or Paul Hellyer’s 19 years. Trudeau had just three. The national arousal gave Trudeau a perfect takeoff to an immediate election and a famous victory.
This time around, such excitement and prospect is absent. The top job is several years ahead, and Chretien has nothing like the novelty, candor and the mystery of the unknown which Trudeau projected. Further, Trudeau had had tough rivals to beat – Eric Kierans, Joe Greene, Allan MacEachen, Winters, Hellyer, Martin and Turner. Not so Chretien. While Martin, Jr. and Sheila Copps have tried hard, and Martin has been Chretien’s match in money and personal organization, it’s been bootless. Despite a good appearance, nice manners, and a superior facsimile of a program, Martin’s not come on.
The Liberals are going for a man who came to Parliament 27 years ago. If, as seems likely, Chretien becomes prime minister in 1993 he will enter the post with more active time in electoral politics than any in our history. Yes, more than Sir John A. or Sir Wilfrid or Sir Robert; far more than Mackenzie King or Louis St. Laurent.
Another aspect of Chretien’s long career is not much noted, although he does stress his experience. Consider the specifics of the experience. There’s always been common assent in Ottawa that of all ministries, the most significant are finance, external affairs and justice. Chretien’s the only leadership aspirant ever to have held all three, plus five others: The hairy Indian portfolio, national revenue, treasury board, industry, trade & commerce and energy, mines & resources.
But being unrivalled in preparatory experience is surely not Chretien’s prime edge over almost callow rivals. Chretien’s a winner with his common touches – especially with English Canadians. He’s so demonstrably popular and well-liked. He has a captivating partisanship. He’s always intent on performing for people.
It’s a bit like the choice which the Tories made in 1956, going for the populist personality, Diefenbaker, over more seriously minded, better-educated rivals like Donald Fleming and Davie Fulton. Chretien’s not won because he’s filled so many senior roles nor even because he’s worn so well for so long. Oddly, that was more how Turner was seen in 1984 – as a solid, responsible prime minister with proven experience.
Chretien’s romping on his flair, energetic humor and the simplicity of his “love Canada” theme. The last is corny enough to choke on, but the Liberals and seemingly most other Canadians love it, and him.
The overwhelming favor for Chretien has short-run, boring aspects for the public, and particularly for a TV-dominated media. Who’s eager for four days of hollow hype at Calgary?
The new leader’s clear capacity for belaboring Mulroney is also disguising the fact the Liberals won’t be coming from Calgary with a well-refurbished program. This failure frets columnists and editorialists more than it does voters. At this stage voters want someone they know and like as an alternative to Brian Mulroney. Chretien it is.
We’re all waiting for Chretien. If the failures of the Meech accord don’t trigger a constitutional crisis, we may expect Chretien will take out Mulroney in 1993. Only time and its penchant for tarnishing sure-thing cinches stand in the way.
Before becoming a prime minister Chretien must put in at least two years more in the House of Commons across from Mulroney. He’ll be backed by a capable, numerous caucus. He only has to face and attack the most unpopular prime minister and government in modern history. So victory in 1993 looks as certain for him as victory in Calgary. Right? Right.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, April 23, 1990
ID: 12836674
TAG: 199004230221
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

MEDIA UNETHICS

Most years, usually in the late winter around the time of the ritual dinner of the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery Association, there’s a hassle over some principle or other among those bonded in an awkward way by their membership in the association.
This year, with the dinner a week ahead, a delicious contre-temps is emerging about ethics.
To appreciate the scenario which threatens to match the Globe and Mail against Southam, the biggest newspaper chain, you need a sketch of the press gallery’s place on the Hill.
Since time immemorial the gallery has been an adjunct of Parliament.
Parliament provides gallery members with clerical services, phones, TV studios, radio hook-ups, stationery, free parking, and, above all, the privileges of access to the Parliament Buildings, restaurants, press conferences and to the issued bumph of government.
In theory, the Speakers of the two chambers drape the authority of their offices over the provision and ward of the gallery. Such delegation is really from the Commons Speaker, and the relationship of the executive of the gallery to the Speaker is cosy and co-operative.
The gallery association’s constitution sets out who is eligible to attain and retain membership. Each person seeking membership is reviewed by the executive, elected by the membership in an annual meeting. If one is a vouched-for employee of an organization known to be functioning in the gathering and publishing of news – a network, a chain, a daily, a magazine, a radio station – the accrediting is almost automatic and it lasts for as long as one has a job in Ottawa covering politics.
For freelancers or new enterprises it’s often harder to get membership. Membership has expanded fourfold over the past 30 years, and about half the current 340 or so are really technicians for camera, light, and sound functions.
The association has been described well as a group delegated to screen access and ration services rather than a professional group to police ethics and standards. The latter, as practical issues in philosophy, have arisen mainly over two matters: Whether a member is more than merely solely occupied as a reporter or journalist (i.e., has he or she other strings?); or has he or she broken long-standing gallery rules of behavior in dealing with the politicians, especially on what is “off the record”?
The big outfits tend to ensure they have protective representation on the gallery executive – i.e., the CBC, CP, Southam, etc. – and there’s always been care to see French Canadians are aboard although their membership proportion is well below what it is in the population.
Many years ago Charles Lynch, then a Southam columnist, thought something said by John Diefenbaker at a gallery dinner was so important he came forth and broke the tradition that the dinner was off the record. For this he was suspended briefly from use of his “accreditation” by the gallery association.
For a few years the Lynch affair seemed an aberration but then two other Southam columnists, Don McGillivray and Allan Fotheringham, breached the off-the-record nature of the dinner, and despite rulings and suspensions and banning from the dinner this issue’s still alive. Any politician at next Saturday’s dinner knows what he or she says or does may be printed.
The newer dilemma for the executive comes from its zeal in suspending a member who works for an economic information service. Some of his work appeared in material done for the government by his firm. In short, he was seen as partially an agent of, or for, the government, and so unacceptable as a member. Two years ago a veteran TV reporter had his gallery card taken away because he was doing videotapes for Tory MPs.
A few weeks ago Ottawa Citizen columnist Frank Howard announced that he was using access-to-information means to get the record of any member of the press gallery who has received money from the federal government in the last few years. That is, a rule against any member having any input to a government endeavor must be fair. It should apply to anyone who cashes a government cheque for services rendered.
The first two names of such “cashers” soon followed: J. Simpson and H. Winsor of the Globe. Neither is newish nor obscure. Now Howard has revealed another casher through a strong, challenging letter to him from veteran columnist, W.A. Wilson (Sifton Newspapers).
Wilson not only wrote he was paid two years ago for two pro-free trade speeches for Simon Reisman, he defended his right to do such work for causes he was known to support. Further, he attacked Howard for slurring the integrity of many journalists, including Simpson, Winsor, and himself. As for the recent suspension: “Blocking access to news,” says Wilson, “is the ultimate journalistic offence.”
Don’t bet the returning MPs won’t get into this hassle, even if only for fun. If the gallery moralists insist on weeding away cheque-taking transgressors it must lead to the use by the CBC of many in the gallery who are not CBC employees.
Howard is unlikely to net me in his search unless he gets to the CBC. But before 1988, while a gallery member, I was paid for talks by departments like transport, treasury board, Indian affairs, even the auditor general. Once, for no pay but for a cause, I even wrote a speech given by a Liberal prime minister.
Shame on me.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, April 22, 1990
ID: 12836426
TAG: 199004220082
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C3
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER, IN OTTAWA

THIS MAY BE THE CRISIS THAT KILLS CANADA

Once again . . . the state of the state.
Is it bad? Well, most people I meet in political and journalistic Ottawa are talking crisis.
Unlike previous crises over our basic problem – two peoples in the bosom of a single state – the opinion is that this is the most serious, ever, and not solvable within the present constitutional framework.
Each of us should expiate on the crisis. This is mine: Quebecers are moving inexorably to a different kind of association with the rest of is. The issue isn’t unanimity for the Meech Lake accord. That’s lost.
Why such a dour opinion? Largely because the entente group in English Canada that bridged previous crises is irretrievably split.
More than most, someone who’s taught Canadian history knows we were born as a country out of compromise. Confederation set up a constitutional division of powers between two orders of government to break a bitter deadlock between French in Lower Canada and English in Upper Canada.
Remember back through some of our crises since 1867 over this basic division of English and French. Each time the crisis was resolved or maundered through.
Recall how Pierre Trudeau and nine of the premiers, pushed by a Supreme Court opinion, compromised over a single night eight years ago on patriating the Constitution and adopting the Charter.
Recall the defeat of the PQ’s sovereignty association referendum two years before the Constitution came home. Remember how we sighed, relaxed, and thought: Canada shall be whole for our time.
Recall the rancor just a few years before the referendum over “the language of the skies.” Would French be used in air traffic control? The crisis passed through compromise and concession.
Recall the great gratitude to Trudeau as the October Crisis of 1970 was surmounted, and English relief that most Quebecers wanted Ottawa’s intervention.
Recall the repetitious failures in constitutional reform from the early ’60s to the late ’70s. Remember Fulton, Favreau, Turner, etc. We shrugged them off.
Recall the first rabid responses in English Canada in the mid-’60s to Lester Pearson’s policy of official bilingualism, and how it was popularized by the English elite and accepted as a means to keep Canada together.
Recall that Canada creaked through the huge shift in Quebec itself, from the reign of Maurice Duplessis and his isolationist “autonomy” to the “maitre chez nous” of Jean Lesage and the so-called Quiet Revolution.
Go back to the serious split in World War II, climaxed over use of conscripted troops in battle. It was overcome largely by victory in Europe but the gulf between ordinary English and French Canadians had been wide, and compromises by an English elite bridged it.
Doesn’t this catalogue indicate we will pass through the current crisis without big changes in our ways?.
I sense this crisis is different.
There has always been a largely latent but readily roused animus about the others between most English and French-speaking Canadians. An arching bond of “bonne ententism” has always formed to cover or move us past this animus among the elites of English and French Canada. But note this: The unity on the imperative of such a bonding has always been stronger in English Canada.
This time such bonding among us is split.
The Meech accord divides us. See Chretien vs. Martin; Doer vs. Broadbent; Turner vs. Wells; Filmon vs. Mulroney.
Look at our historians, lawyers, political scientists, editorialists, etc. They’re grouped at distant poles. Some insist we must have Meech; some that we must not have Meech. And across the West, something like a majority seems ready to have Quebec go.
This time the Quebecois have the economic confidence either to go it alone or to insist on a different association with the rest of us.
So . . . Canada as it is won’t get out of this crisis; and it’s one that will go on for years.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, April 20, 1990
ID: 12836289
TAG: 199004200411
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

MINORITY REPORT GETS AN A+

The vacancy at the top of the Supreme Court is intriguing more than lawyers. It’s not often that journalists pore over a court decision and a dissent to it, as with the court’s report on the Starr vs. Houlden case.
The so-called Patti Starr case or inquiry has been large in politics for over a year. Thus the decision which killed the Ontario inquiry was a major story and a political landmark by narrowing the scope of such public inquiries set in motion by provincial governments. Further examination of allegedly wrongful links between the Peterson government and Patricia Starr, Tridel Corporation, etc. will not be by a provincial, public inquiry.
The inquiry is kayoed. The decision and the dissent live on a while because each of the writers, Justice Antonio Lamer, for the majority, and Madame Justice Claire L’Heureux-Dube, the dissenter, could by chosen soon to be the chief justice of the Supreme Court. Legal people say it’s the turn for a chief justice from Quebec, and these two are divined as the likeliest prospects.
To this outsider, strange to law reports but used to marking essays, the contrasts are vivid between the decision and the dissent. As one who has graded many political science essays, Lamer would get a C- from me, L’Heureux-Dube an A+.
The dissenter, Claire L’Heureux-Dube, argues forcefully. She is engagingly acidic on the arguments put by her colleague and backed by five other justices, including Chief Justice Brian Dickson. (As you must have noticed, Dickson has enjoyed rave tributes to his wisdom and devotion to the Charter of Rights since he announced his retirement.)
Justice Lamer’s presentation is very narrow and crudely argued in sustaining a decision that the Starr inquiry before Justice Houlden (a veteran of the Ontario Appeal Court) was beyond the rights of a provincial government because it invaded the role and domain of the Criminal Code, which, under the Constitution’s division of powers, lies with the federal government.
The majority decision reversed the rulings against the appeal by Starr, et al, against the inquiry brought in two lower courts. Much of the most convincing stuff of the L’Heureux-Dube dissent goes in sharpening the arguments which prevailed in the lower courts against the appeal. She’s cruel in using quotes from past decisions written by her colleagues such as Chief Justice Dickson, against the Lamer screed. There are sharp phrases like “semantic gymnastics” and “perplexing arguments” about key parts of his decision.
L’Heureux-Dube is most arresting on the consequences of the majority decision as a block to, or a severe limitation of, the obvious usefulness of inquiries launched by provincial governments. She really does seize the large picture and history. In her dissent we see the people of Ontario, their Legislature and their government, all caught and confused by a blizzard of allegations on many aspects of provincial administration and party politics.
L’Heureux-Dube goes right at the political and media scenarios of the Starr case. She mocks the majority concern about a supposed impingement into the federal jurisdiction of the Criminal Code. She joshes the concern that a subsequent, fair, criminal trial is impossible for any of the appellant as a result of disclosures at the inquiry. How? By citing the extravagant allegations of impropriety and collusion against the Peterson government and the appellants which were made and repeated in the Legislature or reported in copious, often sensational, media coverage of the “affair”.
The majority opinion by Lamer does not bother with the issue raised by the appellants that their “Charter” rights were breached by the inquiry because they won on the first ground – i.e., the division of powers. L’Heureux-Dube does bother with the Charter, and she gives this analysis of the role of the media. I conclude with it, and my opinion that it shows she’d make an interesting chief justice.
“Concern was expressed as to whether Ms. Starr could ever hope to undergo a fair trial should criminal charges ever be brought, particularly as a result of her media exposure. Yet Ms. Starr was being discussed, if not accused, by the media well before the Legislature contemplated setting up an inquiry or pursuing any investigation whatsoever. If anything, the flexibility of the inquiry would enable her to clear any alleged blemishes to her reputation as a result of media exposure. The commission will have to hear her. The media owe her no such duty.
“ . . . the argument that permitting access to inquiry proceedings is effectively adjudication by `an electronic jury in the court room of public opinion’ is ill-fated. It confuses the commissioner’s role in relation to the media; granted, the media cannot be used as a sword to impose greater liability on the witnesses appearing at the inquiry – but any such effects are mitigated by the stringent rules of evidence that would govern in any subsequent criminal proceedings. Moreover, the commission’s scope should not be restricted as a result of this media `threat.’ In this sense, it cannot be used as a shield by witnesses at the inquiry.”
(Note: There was an error on the date of an amnesty for illegal Chinese immigration in my last column. It came in 1960, not 1964.)

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, April 18, 1990
ID: 12835964
TAG: 199004180381
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

correction Date of amnesty for illegal Chinese immigration came in 1960, not 1964. (April 20, 1990)

SHOULD GUILT BE INHERITED?

A multicultural event of the season is the celebration this weekend in Toronto of the 10th anniversary of the Chinese Canadian National Council. Press stories from the occasion will likely focus on head-tax redress, one of the council’s main goals.
The raison d’etre of this column is the topic of redress.
A Toronto man of Chinese stock called. Could I tell him about the history of the head-tax? He remembers in a garbled way from his childhood that once there’d been an “amnesty” for Chinese immigrants. Where did that fit with redress claims? He disliked the redress idea. He was simply a Canadian, why look backward? Yet he knew a frank, open discussion of redress in the Chinese community or elsewhere was hopeless. Did I think such redress just and sensible?
I am repelled by the idea a current generation has a right to apologize for what previous generations did through acts of their governments which were known and accepted. I feel it’s a self-deluding exercise in moral superiority.
On head-tax itself, all those whose immigrant ancestors came to the British North American colonies from the early 1820s until the 1870s faced some form of head-tax or capitation levy.
Turning to the issue of discrimination, every country has had an immigration policy which discriminates against some type or class of would-be entrants. No country in modern history has ever had a policy of being wide open to all immigrants. Therefore, searches for redress over discrimination against past immigrants are endless.
Dollars and cents redress is a crass partisan play to either save or get votes at every taxpayer’s expense. Hasn’t Brian Mulroney enough to be guilty over without him apologizing for deeds done under Sir John A. or Sir Wilfrid Laurier?
There’s another question for redress seekers. What about your country of origin? Where has it stood in discrimination toward its immigrants? Today? Fifty years ago? The answers are not ennobling.
Now, back to the Chinese Canadian National Council. The last clip (’89) I have on its intentions states: “The council wants the federal government to acknowledge the injustice of the tax and later discriminatory immigration policies, and to pay $23 million into a trust foundation as an act of symbolic contrition.”
Well . . . the first, specific Chinese tax came in 1885. It was $50, to be paid on entering Canada. In 1900 the tax was increased to $100 and in 1903 to $500. In 1923 a revised Chinese Immigration Act was passed which ended the head tax but also drastically restricted Chinese immigration to Canada.
From 1923 until the early 1960s the bulk of Chinese coming to Canada were children of those of Chinese origin already in Canada. The pressures to get around the exclusionary policy were high, the means illegal.
My caller asked about the amnesty of his childhood. It was announced in the spring of 1964 by a Liberal minister, Rene Tremblay. All those of Chinese stock in Canada illegally who came forward in the year were to be forgiven. Next year the amnesty was extended.
In the mid-’60s some officials handling Chinese immigrants took early retirement. Why? Long-running rumors of payoffs and exploitation had led to internal investigations which found collusion rampant.
Almost all those coming to Canada from China for years had been young males, allegedly the offspring of Chinese men already in Canada who had conceived these children on visits to their wives in China and registered the births with Canadian immigration offices.
Inquiries showed that impossibilities had become practices. All children born in China to fathers in Canada seemed to be males. There was little infant or child mortality; all lived to maturity; all then wanted to come to Canada.
In short, the exclusionary act of 1923, taken with the parental rights allowed those of Chinese stock already in Canada, had led to a barter ramp – illegal, immoral, and often vicious.
“Slots” were bought and sold by “agents” in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, most of them Chinese. Many borrowed large sums from agents to buy slots, and some became prey of blackmailers who knew they were not the sons of those they claimed to be. The mess of illegality was made more scary by evidence “tongs” were involved in the exploitation.
The amnesty of 1964 ended the sale of slots; it freed those burdened by illegal entry; it freed Chinese Canadians in communities from the power of immigration agents. The amnesty worked. Two years later Ottawa brought forth the “points” system and a policy that Canada took immigrants from anywhere. So ended regulated discrimination against Chinese immigrants.
Since 1966 there’s been a steady rise in Chinese immigrants. By the late ’80s they became the largest ethnic component of entrants to Canada.
There are about 420,000 people of Chinese origin in Canada. Of these, about 110,000 were born here. Of the approximate 310,000 who immigrated, less than 40,000 were here before the amnesty of 1964. And only a few thousand who paid head tax are alive.
If Canada apologizes to Chinese Canadians and creates a redress fund, it will be more a tribute to those long gone than to the great majority who were either born here or who came well after the exclusionary regime ended.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, April 16, 1990
ID: 12835651
TAG: 199004160076
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

LLOYD CAN LEARN FROM SENATE

Political Ottawa thinks the Liberal mob in the Senate is a ready tool for the Liberal party in the Commons. The delay of the drug bill three years ago. Or, see the UIC bill … still stalled! So one sees what awaits the GST bill. The blockade seems certain. The Liberal leader in the House wants the GST blocked. Consider, however, the following divergency.
Last December, Lloyd Axworthy, MP, the Liberal trade expert, put out a report card on the first year’s performance of the Canada-U.S. free trade agreement (FTA). He gave the Mulroney government and the FTA “a failing grade in virtually every respect”. It was “F” for jobs, “F” for trade performance, “F” for our social programs, “F” for manpower adjustment programs, “F” for sovereignty, “F” for energy security, “F” for agricultural supply management.
Three months later the Senate committee on foreign affairs, chaired by Liberal John Stewart, a friend of the senate’s master, Allan MacEachen, gave a more detailed report on the FTA performance.
Here’s what those in the chamber of “somber, second thought” thought.
“The committee has not sought to reach firm conclusions in this first year under the terms of the new economic and political structure of the FTA … One year is too short a period for patterns to become clearly evident; data and information are in short supply … Even with more data and time, economic analysis of the effects of the FTA will remain difficult because the FTA is super-imposed on a rapidly internationalizing world economy …”
“Analysis of the process of implementation (of the FTA) and of adjustment in general can be done without the need to compile a `scorecard’ of winners and losers, without answering `yes’ or `no’ to the deceivingly simple question, `In the circumstances, is this right for Canada?’ ”
For the rest, the Senate committee offered the government advice on how to administer the FTA better. In a word, the report is fair.
It would seem that Axworthy (now firmly in the Chretien camp) should offer his “evidence” for the miserable performance of the FTA to the Liberal caucus in the Senate, or read Stewart’s committee report.
Yes, through a court one man has beaten the government, but the problem in politics and government his case symbolizes remains.
Joel Bell, now 49, was as keen and able a Liberal lad as ever came to Ottawa under high sponsorship; that was in 1967 when he was 26. One may be sure he’ll handle ably the $3.4 million award he won last week from an Ontario Supreme Court judge (a Liberal appointee) for wrongful dismissal from his post as president of the Canada Development Investment Corporation (CDIC).
So, the Mulroney government is duly chastised for dismissing Bell from the grand job the Liberal government given him two years before to had up the corporation that took over Canadair, de Havilland, and Eldorado Nuclear. Bell was axed right after the ’84 election.
Bell’s partisan loyalties are clear. He never worked in the corporate private sector, so executive experience in the business world doesn’t explain his meteoric advancement in Trudeau’s Ottawa. The rise came because he was a hot-shot Liberal lawyer, a companion polymath to Michael Pitfield (now a senator) and Pierre Trudeau. Bell’s affiliation is still clear. See his essay in the book now justifying the Liberal reign from 1968 to 1984, edited by Trudeau and Tom Axworthy.
What general problem does Bell symbolize?
Simply, what does a new ministry do when a high post in a Crown agency is held by a recent appointee, a familiar partisan of the previous ministry? In particular, a post in an agency that is not a line department or a central agency.
In principle, the latter operations are captained by those of political neutrality or who assume it on entering the federal service. It’s like the neutrality assumed to cover a partisan lawyer the moment he or she mounts the bench. The CDIC hadn’t developed such a tradition.
In the U.S. almost all high appointment, aside from the bench, are seen as certain only for a presidency. Here we’re without rules or practices.
It is unbelievable that one so clever as Joel Bell didn’t know, even as he negotiated sweeter pay and pension short weeks before the ’84 election, that the people were about to dismiss his party from office or that he was sure to be unacceptable to the successor party. And such Tory intention would not be over Bell’s competence but his loyalties.
Years ago I suggested in a draft, private member’s public bill that the issue of what happens to partisans given high federal posts after their party is defeated should be dealt with through formal procedures such as a notice of intention to take a resignation and a period for the appointee to find another post.
It’s easy to scoff at partisanship and to argue either that it can easily be doffed for neutrality or is forgotten quickly by those of a different persuasion. For the Tories, however, leaving Joel Bell in CDIC was as distasteful as it would have been to leave Jim Coutts or Tom Axworthy in the PMO.
A new government needs open means for ridding itself of high appointees by its predecessor.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, April 15, 1990
ID: 12835596
TAG: 199004150225
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C3
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER, IN OTTAWA

FEW PCS GRIEVE FOR KILGOUR AND KINDY

The flow of appraisals out of Ottawa and the West indicate that Brian Mulroney has been cruel and unusual in expelling Alex Kindy (Calgary Northeast) and David Kilgour (Edmonton Southeast) from his caucus and benches. And you may have noted that far more time and space was given to Kilgour than Kindy.
Departures from caucuses, especially from a government caucus, are not rare, though admittedly not an every-year occurrence. A few have been far more splashy than these – remember Paul Hellyer, Ross Thatcher, Hazen Argue, Ralph Cowan, Raymond Rock and Perry Ryan. Most times the departures are defections rather than expulsions.
The latest partings have been in the cards for many months, particularly Kilgour’s. He’s been around longer than Kindy (11 years to five) and he’s a more assiduous MP. Also, he was marked from his arrival on the Hill as the son of a Prairie tycoon and brother-in-law of former Liberal leader John Turner.
I had a view from a caucus colleague last week which distinguished between the two: Kindy as a very right-wing conservative, almost wackily so, and Kilgour as the perennially righteous, crusty man.
A few weeks ago such a distinction was also noted by Peyton Lyon, the political scientist who had a commission from External Affairs Minister Joe Clark to report if there was internal evidence that Herbert Norman, an ambassador and suicide in Cairo (1957), had been a Soviet spy or “agent of influence.”
Lyon suggested lightheartedly that public pressure from Kindy and Kilgour, spurred by a crusading American professor, James Barros, had led Clark to appoint him. Lyon’s report cleared Norman and his alleged protector, Lester Pearson. In unveiling the report, Lyon bantered with the press that Clark had launched the inquiry largely to get “the two cranks off his back.”
If Kindy and Kilgour were not Alberta neighbors and colleagues Clark might have ignored their questions on the long-gone ambassador. Lyon found that Kindy was very cranky but not very knowledgeable or coherent. Kilgour was more complex and difficult – a serious, morally certain man.
Mulroney, as party chief and the one who declared the expulsion to the cameras, is seen to have been the prime mover, spurred by the votes of the pair against the GST. It was not so simple.
Most of the 23 other PC MPs from Alberta wanted both men bounced months ago, Kilgour in particular. Indeed, there was something near majority sentiment in the Alberta caucus before the 1988 election to deny Kilgour party endorsement. The harshest sotto voce criticism of Don Mazankowski that I’d heard since he became deputy PM four years ago was for his patience at Kilgour’s persistence in standing outside the caucus and party as a voice of conscience. Clark was also seen as a protector of Kilgour.
Kilgour’s Alberta colleagues noticed that their often dissident lone wolf had had four different terms as a parliamentary secretary, in each case with a busy minister, one of whom, Clark, had gone out of his way to give Kilgour real responsibilities.
As the House broke for Easter there was news from the veteran Tory MP. That rowdy individualist, Pat Nowlan (Annapolis Valley-Hants) said he’ll decide soon if he leaves the caucus and perhaps the House. He doesn’t like the dual expulsion. However, he’s an ironic contrast to Kilgour. In his 25 years as MP he’s lambasted party leaders openly and lumbered ministers and officials publicly. But arguably Nowlan’s the most popular MP in the caucus and on the Hill, and he’s never been singled out for even a minor promotion.
If Nowlan should go there will be grieving in the caucus, unlike the relief that Kilgour’s out. There’s also the hope the Reform Party will welcome Kilgour and he’ll become Preston Manning’s problem.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, April 11, 1990
ID: 12835194
TAG: 199004110370
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

NO CANADIANS WILL BE ALLOWED

Do you want to be able to identify yourself as “Canadian” when the census-taker calls next year? That is, as simply a Canadian, rather than a hyphenated, English- or French- or Italian- or Swedish- or whatever -Canadian?
You would? Then you should know that the final draft of the ’91 census questions goes to the cabinet the first week in May. Will the choice “Canadian” be printed in the questionnaire? It’s doubtful, given recent argument before a House committee.
Neither the bureaucrats nor the multiculturalists want an entry for “Canadian” printed in the list of ethnic origins on the census form. Neither group of specialists seemed moved by opinions from two Quebec MPs, one of whom said that since his ancestors came here 11 generations ago he surely was one in a “Canadian ethno-cultural population.” The other MP told the question-drafters: “If I had a choice I would use Canadian.” So will a lot of us if we get the chance.
It’s unlikely we will be allowed to respond in the grand survey of who and what we are that ethnically or culturally we are Canadians . . . unless the cabinet instructs StatsCan that the questionnaire as printed must have “Canadian” in the list of choices to any question of ethnic or cultural identity.
You may prompt your nearest federal minister by sending him or her a note at the House of Commons (Ottawa K1A OA6). No stamp required!
Tell the minister that at census-taking you want to identify yourself as just a Canadian.
Don’t waste time on a note to the prime minister. He’s played both Irish-Canadianism and multicultural tunes for so long he doesn’t know there really are plain, unhyphenated Canadians. Ignore Mulroney; get at his ministers. Many of them are tender on this issue. Also, even if “Canadian” doesn’t make this decennial census, your small deed may help make it happen at the next one in 2001 (if Canada as we know it is still together for a census).
Now let us turn to what a future of hyphenated Canadianism portends. Consider the following sample taken from Scarboro, a polyglot part of our greatest conurbation. It’s on another questionnaire; one recently put to the teachers of the Scarboro Board of Education in the course of a survey “of the ethnocultural backgrounds of the staff.” It was prepared and circulated by the board’s superintendent of personnel.
To versify his action, he knows that: We must quantify, so as to classify, and then identify, so as to equalize and harmonize.
Don’t laugh at that. Here’s the raison d’etre given by the personnel chief. The survey came, he writes:
“ . . . as a result of community groups having expressed the need to provide positive role models from various ethnic groups so as to challenge stereotypes and assist in developing positive perceptions and expectations.”
All right, affirmative action looms. The board’s man runs on:
“To achieve this goal, the Scarboro Board of Education should take a leadership role in achieving racial and cultural diversity within its staff. If the staff is reflective of its community, staff members belonging to the various ethnic groups could promote among staff and students a better understanding of the diverse cultures within the student body.”
What a glorious vision is ahead: Of Scarboro, in Metro Toronto, in Canada, as microcosm of the world.
This is not my exaggeration. The prelude to the survey states: “While acknowledging the fact that you are a Canadian, this survey requires you to identify your ethnocultural origin according to your main ancestral background.”
And so the board has chosen “nine ethnocultural origins . . . similar to those of Statistics Canada.” It asks its employees “to place yourself” in only one of the nine.
The list is as follows, with much of the description in most categories dropped.
1. Black origin – individuals whose ancestors originated from Africa, regardless of their own citizenship or nationality . . . and any others who perceive themselves as being black.
2. British, French and European origins.
3. Central/South American origins (Mexico to Chile).
4. East Asian origin – individuals whose ancestors originated from China, Japan, Korea or Taiwan . . .
5. Middle Eastern origin – individuals whose ancestors originated from Armenia, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria or Turkey . . .
6. Native Canadian or American Indian, Inuit or Metis origin.
7. South Asian origin – individuals whose ancestors originated from the Indian sub-continent . . . for example, the individual’s background may be Bangladeshi, East Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, etc.
8. South East Asian origin – individuals whose ancestors originated from Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand or Vietnam . . .
9. Other origins – for individuals who cannot be placed in any of the above. (Please specify background.) Note this category should only be used as a last resort.”
The data gathered “will be used to review . . . current recruitment, hiring and promotion practices; current staff development practices.”
And perhaps you thought Canada was complicated enough with anglos and francos?

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, April 09, 1990
ID: 12834951
TAG: 199004090381
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

MILKING MULTICULTURALISM

Repercussions of Mikhail Gorbachev’s glasnost ran from the USSR into Eastern Europe and from there have echoed to Canada, at least in the case we trace today.
My opening source is the Prague daily, Svobodne Slovo, the organ of the Czechoslovak Socialist Party. Occasionally it informs its readers with objective candor about affairs in Canada. The March 15 issue featured an interview with one Jiri Corn, “a successful Czech in exile.”
The paper says Corn is the recipient of “the highest Canadian civilian order, the Order of Canada,” and “a former chairman of the Canadian Ethnocultural Council and of the Czechoslovak Association of Canada” (and much more).
It’s a fact that Corn was awarded “membership” in the Order of Canada. In July, 1987, when announcing it, the chancellery of Canadian Orders and Decorations credited Corn in the first sentence with being “instrumental in establishing the Czechoslovak Association of Canada.” That’s not a fact. Both Canadian encyclopedias show the said association was founded in 1939 under the name of Czechoslovak National Alliance; it changed its name to the present one in 1948, well before Corn came to Canada.
The Prague article sketches some recent Canadian history as it describes Corn’s work with the the Canadian Ethnocultural Council (CEC).
“At the time when Jiri Corn was the chairman of the CEC,” it says, “the Canadian government prepared the Multiculturalism Act, which is probably the best of its kind in the world. Australians, Belgians and the Swiss are learning from it how to handle situations in a state which contains several languages and cultures.
“When the Multicultural Act was in the process of being approved in the Canadian Parliament, I (the interviewer) was sitting in the public gallery. One of the MPs called the act the `Corn Act.’ When the Act was unanimously approved by all parties, there was applause. The MPs got up, turned their heads toward the gallery where sat Jiri Corn. Another successful Czech, who has made his imprint on Canadian history.”
Man, oh man, that’s drama in the Green Chamber, meticulously recalled!
Without doubt, Corn deserves credit for promoting multiculturalism in Canada. For example, here’s a bit from the Toronto organ of the Czechoslovak Association of Canada. Three years the association was under Corn’s chairmanship. It stated then a view of the Canadian Multicultural Council:
“The CEC is a very important organization, whose leadership and membership are in very close contact with the entire federal government and is very much enjoying the government’s respect. The CEC through its activities exerts influence on the deliberations of the Canadian Parliament and on the decisions of the Canadian government and especially of the federal ministers in ethnocultural matters and matters of culture in general, in immigration and refugee matters, in matters of social reforms, free enterprise, international trade negotiations, international affairs and Canadian citizenship.”
In short, the CEC ranks with the likes of the BCNI (Business Council on National Issues) as a significant body of political power and influence.
After Corn’s term as the CEC president expired in 1987, he announced he had decided “to end his participation in Canada’s public life.” The intrepid Torontonian was to change his mind, inspired by the changes which are rippling through Eastern Europe. After returning from Prague he wrote and presented to the Canadian government a lengthy brief on behalf of a new organization called Council for Canadian-Czechoslovak Co-operation (CCCC). Corn is chief executive officer, and here are some of his remarkable arguments.
Canada should become a model to Czechoslovakia as both have “substantial minorities.”
“Canada is still recognized by Czechs and Slovaks as a developing country . . . ”
The CCCC will inform federal and provincial governments about its activities and should “secure their co-operation . . . ”
“We suggest that Canada and Canadian provinces send their observers to Czechoslovakia now . . . and report to the Canadian authorities their findings. Such co-ordination should be conducted by Canadians of Czech and Slovak origin who speak Czech or Slovak and can readily assess the priorities of the projects and advise the Canadian government of their findings.”
The purpose is clear and noble: To help the budding democracy in Czechoslovakia.
Clearly, the best vehicle for this purpose is Jiri Corn. His intimate associations with the former and current multicultural ministers (David Crombie, Otto Jelinek and Gerry Weiner) of the Mulroney government put him at the head of field crowded with Canadian entrants of Czech and Slovak extraction with proposals of programs or projects of aid, charity, or just raw business enterprise in Prague.
Corn’s view of multiculturalism reminds me of a familiar theme which emerged years ago and found a spokesman in Robert Bourassa. He called it “profitable federalism.” Put another way: Federalism pays!
Although Jiri Corn’s declaration of theme is less brutal than that of the Quebec premier it’s in parallel: Profitable multiculturalism; multiculturalism pays!

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, April 08, 1990
ID: 12834806
TAG: 199004080249
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C6
COLUMN: In Ottawa
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THE STATE OF THE MEDIA

The April 2 issue of Time has excerpts from Richard Nixon’s new autobiography. A part deals with the American press.
The former president is blunt about the media, and more fair than I expected, perhaps because I agreed with most of his opinions on the U.S. press. What follows are Nixon’s points and my opinions on each one regarding the Canadian scene.
Nixon: Based on 44 years of dealing with members of the media on the national level, I can say they are above average in intelligence.
Fisher: Not so in Canada. Perhaps average, not above average in intelligence.
Nixon: Most are liberal politically. Virtually all are ambitious, not so much for money as status.
Fisher: Yes, in Canada most are liberally minded, not conservatively minded. But the ambitions differ. Most press people seem to aim at rising out of journalism as soon as possible. Better pay and status loom in government or public relations or consulting than in media careers. Few seem to want to be editors of publishers. There seems little status for journalists in any national sense. Aside from a handful like Lloyd Robertson, Peter Gzowski, Barbara Frum, Dr. Foth through Front Page Challenge or the romantic pair, Peter Mansbridge and Wendy Mesley, who’s recognized and of interest to a lot of Canadians?
Nixon: They are proud of their profession and sometimes find it difficult to hide their contempt for the less well-educated politicians and businessmen they cover.
Fisher: There’s not much pride of profession as yet in Canada although a bit has been burgeoning as more and more graduates of journalism schools (Carleton, Western, and Ryerson in particular) fill the ranks and the older sods without BAs and BJs fade away. There is a contempt for politicians and a widespread suspicion of businessmen (and mandarins) in our media people. It isn’t based on educational attainment. Very little of the cream in universities goes into journalism.
Nixon: Many, in my view justifiably, believe they are underpaid compared with the lobbyists and PR flacks who rip off their employers so shamefully.
Fisher: Yes, there’s an appreciation of being underpaid – and that politicians and mandarins are overpaid. This fits with the journalistic turnover – averaging 25% a year in the parliamentary press – and the steady flow into flackery and lobbying.
Nixon: Finally, most are interesting people.
Fisher: So many of our press today are young and won’t be around long. They have neither had the experience nor the higher education to be very interesting, say compared to politicians or poets or authors like Pierre Berton and Peter Newman (both of whom rose from political journalism). Three of the highlights of my experiences in life, more as plain fan than as a journalist, were separate conversations with three great American journalists – Eric Sevareid, I.F. Stone and John Chancellor. The only Canadian even close to giving such an experience to me was the late Blair Fraser (Maclean’s). I’ve never heard or overheard any Canadian press people in intellectual discussion or full debate on issues or principles. Maybe they take place in journalism schools.
Nixon: Reporters from the print press, generally, although not always, are more intelligent and thoughtful than TV reporters.
Fisher: One intuits what Nixon divines with this but when I run through the TV and the print people I watch or read, the only distinction I can make is that some veteran print people are more deeply informed and historically aware than the run of TV people. A TV reporter with his or her mind on pictures and script within a time frame of 45-90 seconds rarely has the scope of a reporter from a daily. Thoughtfulness needs time or space.
Nixon: A politician will get a better shake from reporters outside Washington than in Washington.
Fisher: And also in Canada, regarding Ottawa.
Nixon: Publishers have become virtual political eunuchs; they still sign the cheques but the day is long gone when they had much control over reporters.
Fisher: The trend has been slower here. Consider the left-wing frenzy over recent exercises of his powers by Roy Megarry, the Globe publisher, or the current fret over Clark Davey, the new publisher of the Ottawa Citizen. Examine how the stern rule of Beland Honderich values frames the Toronto Star and impinges his editorial views into news stories.
Nixon: Members of the press hate to be proved wrong.
Fisher: Amen!

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, April 06, 1990
ID: 12834532
TAG: 199004060264
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

HOUSE NEEDS MORE WOMEN

A question current on Parliament Hill is: Has Lucien Bouchard been stalled or slowed down as leader of an environmental crusade by his cabinet colleagues?
One cannot unequivocally say “yes” in response when all one has to go on is backbenchers’ chat, but its gist is consistent on several points, the last of which surprised me and gives me text for sermonizing.
First, argument in cabinet committees has been strenuous. An array of ministers, most of whom do not represent cities- such as Bill McKnight, Charlie Mayer, Don Mazankowski, Robert de Cotret, John Crosbie, Jake Epp and Frank Oberle -are determined on clear, modest limits on both the spending forecasts and the commitments of a national “green plan” for the decade.
Second, Finance Minister Michael Wilson is more an environmentalist than any of the above, but he fears Bouchard’s aims will reach beyond funds available and will sour investment and growth in resource projects and manufacturing.
Third, the weight in the cabinet toward going slowly is matched in the caucus, which, to use an old book title on cleavage is distinctly “From the city; from the plow.”
Fourth, what keeps Bouchard perking in cabinet and the flame of environmentalism alive in the caucus is far less the absolute backing of the prime minister and much more the dedication and purpose of Tory women MPs such as ministers Kim Campbell, Mary Collins, Barbara McDougall, Monique Vezina and Shirley Martin, and Metro MPs like Barbara Greene and Pauline Browes.
Put the evidence of the last factor alongside the clear but undeclared evidence that the influence of women within the government caucus kept the government from more of a pro-life position on the abortion bill, and one realizes that on major matters women in Parliament have at last emerged as a distinctive, not just a potential, force.
The situation sent me to old files on “women in politics.” Most of the material is either regretful or impatient for a day not yet dawned for successful women candidates or about the discrimination and blocks to careers in politics for women. As example, Chatelaine, October, 1971, had a huge piece with succinct sketches of “105 potential women MPs.” As forecast, it was prescient enough. A score of those named were to make Parliament or provincial legislatures. Roughly another score have had runs at office.
If women were seen as just getting “on their way” in 1971 anyone of fair mind who examines the work done and presence exerted by the 40 in the present House of 295 (some 13% of the lot) must say that either as a whole group or taken one by one or by party the women MPs are giving performances which are superior to most of the male MPs. But one must add at once that party leaders and caucus colleagues, especially on the government side, have given them fair shares.
To illustrate this, six of 39 ministers are women (15%) and so were five of the last batch of 28 parliamentary secretaries (18%). The Tories have 21 women MPs, the Liberals 13, and the New Democrats five. The Reform Party’s first MP ever is a woman, Deborah Grey.
A talent appraiser intent on rating by clear speech and considered argument would likely rank Grey as performer with Kim Campbell, Ethel Blondin (Liberal) and, when they check somewhat their natural pugnacity, Barbara McDougall and Sheila Copps.
It’s my opinion the ablest new MPs from the last election were Blondin, a Slavey Indian, and Campbell, a lawyer, linguist, and historian, now minister of justice.
The first simple impression one takes of the present women MPs is how assiduous they are in their work in both the House and its committees. Very few are coasting. None that one hears about is considered a complete dud or a dangerous menace by their party colleagues. It’s true one can find a few Tory MPs who fear Barbara Greene (Don Valley North) as a loose cannon, rather like male colleague Pat Nowlan, the Nova Scotia maverick. And a few male New Democrats shudder at the feminist vitriol which spews from Dawn Black (New Westminster-Burnaby).
None of the 13 Grit women is a rose to blush unseen or heard, and there’s variety, from a half-dozen like Sheila Copps or Sheila Finestone (e.g., Mary Clancy, Marlene Catterall, Shirley Maheu, and Diane Marleau) who can rasp and rip in the best (or worst) partisan fashion to more constructive contributors (e.g., Blondin, Catherine Callbeck, Coline Campbell and Christine Stewart).
It’s regrettable that the NDP, the party with a woman leader and which was clearly the most open and encouraging one to women candidates and feminist issues, should have only five women out of 43 MPs. Aside from the leader, Audrey McLaughlin, none of the NDP women MPs augurs an outstanding parliamentary career – that is, above a journeywoman’s input. This is not a put-down. The veteran Margaret Mitchell is a classic in caucus stalwarts. Further, the NDP caucus, like the Tories’ and Grits’, has a goodly share of less than outstanding or hard-working male MPs, and each one of the NDP’s women is busy, busy.
It may be obvious, pedestrian and useless to say it, but on the demonstrated merit of the 39 women MPs we have there ought to be far more.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, April 04, 1990
ID: 12834208
TAG: 199004040241
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

NO MORE LITTLE MARY SUNSHINE

Clouds suddenly blotted the sunshine on Monday in the House. Two feminist MPs, NDP leader Audrey McLaughlin and Liberal Marlene Catterall, screamed at Mary Collins over mistreatment of women by the government.
It symbolized the line of attack against Collins since she took up the “women’s” portfolio from Barbara McDougall, and particularly since she praised John Crosbie in the uproar following his use of lyrics which guyed Sheila Copps.
For five years Collins has shown the Hill and the country a beaming face, radiating a positive outlook on all issues. It worked, helping get her in the cabinet as No.2 in defence.
The sisterhood has no time for niceness. They’ve been chewing up Collins. On Monday her critics indicted her as a traitor to her gender. And Mary lashed back. Sunshine was gone. It was as though she’d suddenly accepted the two views McDougall used in the women’s slot: First, that the feminists will never be satisfied with what a Tory ministry does; second, that they represent far less than a majority of women.
In its makeup of MPs, the House committee on the Constitution is as able as any in modern times. Its chairman is clever Jean Charest, the former minister for sport and youth, and few Tory MPs are as smart and experienced as David MacDonald (Rosedale) and Bud Bird (Fredericton). The NDP has put in its brightest, Svend Robinson; and the Grits have three ex-ministers, including the ablest, Bob Kaplan, plus Ethel Blondin, a forthright Indian from the Western Territories.
The committee has just six weeks to report on the resolution which came as Premier Frank McKenna’s try to end the impasse on the Meech Lake accord. A committee with so much in brains, background, and assiduity could be a fiasco if the reigning ultra-meanness in House partisanship is transferred to it. On hunch, I wager it won’t be; that this group will subdue gamesmanship to a common purpose and accept that they’re responding to a dangerous emergency.
Doesn’t John Chretien sound certain of his capacity to put together a constitutional rapprochement once he’s in power? Where Mulroney preaches and dallies Chretien will act, quickly.
Well, as a caution let me dredge from the record an occasion when Chretien as minister of finance harangued Canadians.
It was the fall of 1978 and the exchange rate of the Canadian dollar was sliding. Chretien said we ought not to take winter vacations outside Canada. Help sustain our dollar!
Then, in the January cold of 1979, Chretien took a 14-day break in South America. Of course, when found out he said it was “a working vacation.” So grows greatness.
Last Friday Peyton Lyon, in reporting on the career and suicide of ambassador Herbert Norman, put on a most droll, amusing press conference. No TV operation caught most of it, which is sad because some minor editing and a bit of commentary could make a classic half-hour video.
Lyon, a retired Carleton professor once with external affairs, chose to be light-hearted, all the way. He spoofed himself, Joe Clark who commissioned him, Alex Kindy and David Kilgour (the two “crank” Tory MPs from Alberta who exasperated Clark into having the inquiry). Most of all, he spoofed the American academic, James Barros, whose book, No Sense of Evil, plus further articles and interviews, have kept current the notion of Norman as a master spy for the Soviets whose activities and views were excused and concealed by his friend and superior, Lester Pearson.
Above all, Lyon ridiculed the idea that his report (which states categorically that Norman was not a Russian agent) was the end of the Norman case while asserting that it was.
Why not the end? Because there’s such mystery and money in tales of spies and Reds, and always enough right-thinking authors and journalists to keep the doubts alive.
Lyon could find no evidence from our “intelligence” files which tied Norman to agents or to any service for the USSR. His most convincing argument (for me) was based on reading all the dispatches Norman wrote for external affairs. Nothing in them showed a bias which would have influenced Canadian policy and programs in favor of Soviet objectives.
What does one make of the relationship of Brian Mulroney with Hugh Segal, television’s top Tory?
Joe Comuzzi, the Liberal MP from the Lakehead, put written questions on whether Segal is an employee or contractual consultant of the PM or the PMO. On various TV programs Segal is identified as a communications adviser and strategist for the prime minister of Canada. The answers to Comuzzi deny Segal is such an employee or consultant, either as an individual or through his lobby firm.
But to Comuzzi’s trailer question – that if Segal was not in the pay of the PM did the PM plan to stop such identification of Segal with him? – the answer was “not applicable.” In short, if Segal wants to trumpet a link, let him do it.
There’s no doubt Segal or his producers have made use of the linkage. This dubious answer indicates Segal has a continuing role as strategist and communications adviser to Mulroney but it results in no payments from the federal treasury, although it certainly does in TV fees and probably in recompense from the treasury of the federal Tory party.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, April 02, 1990
ID: 12833973
TAG: 199004020240
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

LONG-SUFFERING CANADIANS

Remember the Bible’s Job, the prosperous, pious man who suffered a chain of terrible misfortunes, and couldn’t understand why they befell a God-fearing man and his kin?
He pleaded with God. Why me? Why do the innocent suffer?
Similarly, why us? Why must Canada suffer so?
Our constituent pieces are pulling apart. Every night television parades our constitutional angst and contradictions. A mealy-mouthed prime minister tries to con us again that he loves Canada – and us.
Every day fresh news of tragedies break from small towns and big cities. From schools and orphanages and penitentiaries and Indian reserves we hear of abused women, children, natives and other visible minorities.
Name something tragic or bad and we have it or are about to have it in quantity. And pious as Job, some of us plead for an end to it. We want governments to face our misfortunes – these wrongs – and end them. We want the figurative Eden we deserve.
Surely last week an analogy with Job was not overblown. There was the vehemence in the Mulroney-Trudeau-Wells circus, the annual grieving of our rights commissioner, and the duping of our best and brightest, “the environmentalists,” by a ministry of dinosaurs.
Surely you winced for yourself and Canada as you heard or saw the litany of our racism and discrimination from Max Yalden, our prime secular inquisitor for the Human Rights Commission. His annual parade of our disgraces set out more nastiness than ever before. Our aborigines are still being treated viciously. Sexual harassers prey on our women and boys. Refugees and immigrants are shunned or scorned. Inequity in opportunity, access, pay and advancement is rampant.
Sometimes a senior pauses after asking Job’s question and wonders how he lived so long while such moral squalor and meanness mounted.
Why are we coming so late to addressing such abuse of people and of the waters, the skies, and the land?
The plain answer was evident in the prevailing critique of our prime minister and most of the premiers. It was there in the recommendations of Max Yalden. Most of all it was clear from the certainty expressed by the spokespersons (ugh!) of our environmental movement.
The answer points to the group responsible for our evils. We need not ponder like Jobs on whether God is just. We know who’s been doing in us – and Canada. It is our prevaricating politicians, in particular those in power. What curs they are. Consider! They give women and Indians and veterans and scientists short shrift, talking poor, while loading more money on the interest-crazy master of their bank.
They spout democracy for the peoples of Africa and Eastern Europe and Asia and Latin America but haven’t enough resolution and leadership to stand fully with little Lithuania.
They have prated over five years in power of their resolve to lead us back to a greener land with fresh air and clean water but once again they have backed away from action in favor of more talk. “Consultation,” they call it.
It’s further travesty, say nature’s disciples. They know the villains: The chain-saw cutters, the paper-makers, the miners, the pesticide and herbicide makers and sellers, the gas-guzzlers, the ozone-eating chemical users, the over-packagers, the nuclear riskers.
The environmentalists are certain in their righteousness just as are our legislated, secular bishops like Max Yalden, Gordon Fairweather, and Bertha Wilson. They know what is wrong. They know what must be made right and who must face up to it all and lead us. The people of Canada are roused at all the dangers. They demand the Charter of Rights apply in wrongs to individuals. They are fully roused to the menaced environment (see the opinion polls). They want deeds, and get from the callous, cheap, maundering government of Brian Mulroney only more talk.
Of course. This has been my rant, a rant of exaggeration. But in a society whose leaders in the forums of discussion and information so often enter and overload the debate and our consciences with charges and guilt-giving, balance and common sense gets lost.
Is it evil to hesitate, to ask how the piper is to be paid?
Just meeting most native demands would boom the annual bill several billion above its current range at $4 billion.
To satisfy the feminist movement – on daycare alone – would take $5-$6 billion more a year from the federal treasury.
As for the scale of environmental change demanded by all the friends of the earth and sky and waters, just a good start – say for a plan to the year 2000 – would need $3-$4 billion a year for openers.
Aside from dislocation and joblessness which will ensue from closed pulp and paper mills and smelters, to bail out of an economy and a trade still largely based on natural resources is an awesome task.
Yes, it is sensible to fret about the will and the capacity of Ottawa and the Queen’s Parks to carry it out, in particular as partners. But at a time when our hatred of taxation is so manifest, our bitter divisions and social inadequacies so obvious, why not more talk on setting priorities and finding the funds?
Job at least wanted to talk it over.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, April 01, 1990
ID: 12833825
TAG: 199004010247
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C3
COLUMN: In Ottawa
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

BOOKS THAT DESERVE TO BE READ

The critical reception in the U.S. for a new volume of political biography by Robert Caro on Lyndon Johnson underlines the lesser interest there is in Canada for such books.
Late last year two excellent books on significant Canadians went on sale. One by an academic, John English, was on the early life and career of Lester Pearson. The other, by a retired Globe editor, Cameron Smith, was on the late David Lewis and his family. Neither book made the top 10 in any best-seller list I saw.
At the same time two other books – by reporter Stevie Cameron and by columnist Allan Fotheringham – were on such lists for some weeks. These books are gamey, gossipy, and were strongly promoted but they are scant in scholarship or memorable characterizations.
To examine which political books sell means noting two which even out-sold Cameron’s and Fotheringham’s – the autobiographies of Erik Nielsen (last year) and Jean Chretien (1986).
Each reminiscence when published had a “first-person” immediacy and personal opinions galore on others in politics. Neither was particularly judicious or long-sighted on issues. Much credit for the good reading they made goes to the “collaborators” – respectively, journalists Walter Stewart and Ron Graham.
Yet the Pearson and the Lewis books, while marginally weightier than Nielsen’s and Chretien’s, were just as well-written and gripping. The people and activities analyzed were as much or more significant in any historical context. Neither text was super-academic nor ponderous as prose. Each got close to its subject and, frankly, there was more to get close to in terms of career or the public weal than is the case with either Nielsen or Chretien (as yet!).
Bar none, the single, most fascinating biography of a leader I’ve ever read is Caro’s first book in his work The Years of Lyndon Johnson, titled The Path to Power (1981). I felt like my favorite New York Times reviewer, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, who wrote that this is “a monumental political saga . . . an overwhelming experience to read.”
Caro’s first volume was that cliche – an instant classic. Few political aficionados of the western world haven’t read The Path to Power and not been impatient for the next volume.
Well, Caro’s second book on Johnson is finally out, titled Means of Ascent (Knopf). It also has overwhelmed me, although I see why many of its reviewers think Caro has become too obsessed with Johnson as the ultimate liar and scoundrel in politics. Thus, Caro’s fairness is in doubt.
Even his thoroughness through hundreds of interviews with those who knew Johnson is discounted by those who recall enough politics to appreciate that Johnson as a member of Congress and as president sponsored some fine, useful programs. In his deeds he was not always evil incarnate.
We’ve not had a biographer of a Canadian leader as thorough-going nor one so occupied for so long at it as Caro has been, not even Donald Creighton on Sir John A. Macdonald or MacGregor Dawson on Mackenzie King. A very thorough reporter, John Sawatsky, is now tracing Brian Mulroney’s path to power and he may come closer to Caro’s assiduity.
To vault back to John English on Pearson and Cameron Smith on the Unfinished Journey of the Lewis clan, although neither book represents as much input of an author’s time nor is built on so many searching interviews as Caro did on Johnson, each is like Caro’s in a firm determination to describe and define a life. Each merits as many readers as Nielsen and Chretien have had. As biographies, each gave me so much, vividly and fairly, that I didn’t know about two leaders whom I knew better than most.
The rub is that neither Pearson nor Lewis seem topical to Canadians and we’re plainly not as curious as Americans about our past.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, March 30, 1990
ID: 12757572
TAG: 199003300256
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THE LANGUAGES OF OUR FUTURE

Wisdom and courage make good associates in a professor. One finds them in the work of Jacques Henripin on touchy current issues such as bilingualism, immigration, and daycare.
Who’s Henripin? Arguably our top demographer; certainly the elder of that tribe. In 1964 he began demographic studies at the University of Montreal. No one has been analyzing our population and language changes longer or with less bias. He shared the demographic future he sees with MPs on the House committee on labor (March 15). His whole testimony was compelling; here are key parts of it.
Dr. Henripin is blunt. In Canada only three linguistic groups will survive “in the very long term” – the English, the French and the native languages. These are the languages that are “successfully resisting assimilation.”
He reasons that English will survive everywhere in Canada, although the numbers of anglophones in Quebec, in both absolute and relative terms, are dwindling. (“It must be very discouraging for them.”) The heavy concentration in Montreal will assure English survival “for a while yet.”
Henripin is ironic about the aims of those like the Association for the Preservation of English in Canada (APEC); he says their cause is already won.
French and francophones? There is an assured long-term future in Quebec, and probably in Acadia and in the strip of Ontario bordering Quebec.
“One thing is very clear,” says Henripin. “The French language is not threatened in Quebec.” That’s candid and brave, something neither Premier Robert Bourassa nor his prompter, PQ leader Jacques Parizeau, want to hear.
To back such heresy Henripin has one simple statistic. In 1871 the English were 20% of the Quebec population; today they are 10%. To Henripin’s chagrin the trend was not caused by the famous “revenge of the cradle” but because so many anglos have said goodbye to Quebec.
But Henripin sees “little hope” for long-term survival of French in the rest of the country. This judgment is an arrow through the heart of Pierre Trudeau’s doctrine of bilingualism.
Henripin says that in Canada languages like Italian and Greek “are doomed to disappear in the long term.” Why? By adulthood immigrants of linguistic groups other than English or French tend to choose one of the two official languages for use at home; in turn, their children lose contact altogether with their ancestral language.
This is a harsh reminder of the waste in money and talent in the Tories’ multi-million-dollar program to promote “heritage” languages and a dark forecast for multiculturalism.
In truth, Henripin’s plain, succinct insights mock the platitudes of our political leaders in the debate about our constitutional future.
Dr. Henripin left MPs with these other pieces of wisdom.
On the now notorious, low fertility rate of Canadians, especially of the Quebecois: “I find it strange that an animal species should no longer want to reproduce . . . I feel that there is something here that is not normal.” The consequences, however, can be partly remedied by immigration, even at fairly low levels of 150,000 to 180,000 annually.
Low fertility spells an aging population and much higher health care bills, but the critical consequence will be our reduced capacity to provide decent pensions. And, contrary to the conventional wisdom, immigration does not ease the problem. Unless our fertility rate rises substantially soon, the remedy must be in putting old people to work.
Economic factors are not keeping young people from having children. It’s the desire for freedom; freedom to take vacations, to travel, to visit friends without the bother of children. “Today’s youth is very centred on the here and now and they are not easily inclined to take into consideration future benefits and costs.”
Henripin became sad. He cited women who reach their 40s in “an absolutely extraordinary life, who have had lovers, a good standard of living, an interesting profession, etc. When they reach 40 and begin . . . to reflect upon what is missing . . . it is children. There must also be men who find themselves in the same situation.”
It will be hard to get young people to have children. The conflict between career and family responsibilities must be reduced by reorganizing the world of work. There could be more part-time work, readily available leave and guarantees that a break from work to raise a family wouldn’t mean lost ground in a career. There might be generous financial incentives. “Today young couples are saying that they are no longer willing to raise children free of charge.”
Ideally, parents should be able to take turns in working part-time to take care of their small children. Daycare is the other option. “In response to pressure from various groups to subsidize daycare, the government has not remained neutral about the way in which parents raise their children.”
Henripin says: “The government has no business telling parents how to raise their children . . . If parents choose to put their children in daycare or hire someone to care for their children in the home, they should pay for these services. If they choose to stay at home and raise their children, then the assistance will be like a form of income for the work they are doing.”

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, March 28, 1990
ID: 12757273
TAG: 199003280239
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

WILL JEAN CARRY PIERRE’S TORCH?

There are broad partisan trailers from the present fixation on the Meech Lake accord. It has diverted attention from concern over the course of the GST and from the firming realization Jean Chretien will carry the Grit leadership convention on the first ballot.
Last Sunday a ballyhooed protest against the GST on the Hill was embarrassingly slight.
The NDP caucus is realizing that neither its muscular blockage of the GST bill in Don Blenkarn’s committee nor its wasting of government time in the House is winning public attention, let alone public favor.
If Brian Mulroney is as as bloody minded as his choice of Harvie Andre as House boss suggests, by June he may have the GST bill through the House and into the Senate (where it may stay). Meech is distracting, and will continue to be.
Another factor abetting the course of the GST is the continuing strength of the economy.
It’s useful to recall a familiar, annual pattern. The worst time of the year for a federal government was almost always the quarter of February to May. That’s when jobless percentages zoomed, price indices rose and winter’s chill and gloom seemed endless; that’s when the daily question period’s litany was of opposition alarm over the jobless and regional collapse.
Also recall that well before, and for months after the free trade deal with the U.S. was done (January, 1989) nationalistic prophets of economic disaster were many and bold. They’re still there, sure of the worst, and time may prove them right. But their heralded apocalypse is not yet in sight.
The comparative stability of the economy also explains why most continuing criticism of Mike Wilson’s budget of a month ago fixes on a few of its emotional side-shows such as reduced or unrenewed grants to localized feminist and native endeavors.
There are some odd buckles between the Meech furor and the Liberal leadership, entirely aside from any advantage in the contest to Chretien in his piggy-backing on Pierre Trudeau’s anti-Meech wagon.
Although the three top contenders are split over Meech -Paul Martin and Sheila Copps for, Chretien against – and although a month ago many Liberals were worried that division over the accord was embarrassing the party, both the divisiveness and their worries have been fading.
In part this eclipse is because riding victories have made Chretien a cinch, a cinch more from broad, popular esteem and a big margin in organizing strength than from his stance against the accord. In part it’s because the Meech furies which have been highlighting Robert Bourassa, Clyde Wells, Frank McKenna, and the Manitobans have made the particular problem it creates within the Liberal party seem irrelevant.
Of course, Meech may boom back later in the Liberal scenario. Given the bleak, busted hopes which will surely follow a collapse in the current constitutional effort in the next few months, the big question at the Liberal convention may centre on what Chretien will undertake to do as PM about Bourassa and Quebec, not on whether he gets a first ballot win.
It will not be simple for Chretien as Liberal leader to carry forward Trudeau’s constitutional torch. Just consider what two respected Liberals of past renown and former cabinet colleagues of Trudeau are saying about that torch.
Jack Pickersgill is a founder of the lobby group, Friends of Meech Lake. He was “the” wheelhorse in the political teams of three prime ministers, Mackenzie King, Louis St. Laurent and Lester Pearson. In Tuesday’s Citizen he derided Trudeau for “distortion and misrepresentation” of the accord. Pickersgill may not have close disciples in today’s party but his beliefs on the Grits’ great role in keeping Canadians together has to have believers in it. Pickersgill writes of Trudeau:
“By his repeated assertion that no government of Canada will ever be satisfied but will always be asking for more, he gives encouragement to a growing minority in English Canada who say: If Quebec can never be satisfied, let them separate.” And Liberals will recall it was Eric Kierans, not Jean Lesage or Robert Bourassa or Pierre Trudeau, who led in forcing his friend, Rene Levesque, out of the Liberal party. In last Saturday’s Star Kierans mocked Trudeau’s new book, Towards a Just Society, the Trudeau Years.
We’re unused to such a cruel, well-argued book review. It is a book “ungenerous in spirit to the governments which preceded the Trudeau years and destructively hostile to those that came after . . . the volume contains the fury of the old Trudeau gang’s attack on the balanced federalism of the Meech Lake accord,” Kierans bluntly states.
“History has demonstrated repeatedly: Canada cannot be centralized.” Trudeau’s case rests on “an all-powerful Ottawa” through which we were to get “the Just Society.”
Kierans cites Trudeau’s abysmal failures in economic and social policy and closes with the opinion that “Trudeau and his luncheon dates want to set the record straight by burying the truth in a renewed frenzy of enthusiasm for centralism.”
It’s a good point to refer back to Chretien. He’s almost certain to head a party into an election in ’92 or ’93 that is far ahead of Mulroney’s in opinion polls. Surely Chretien must follow through on Trudeauism, both against Meech and for a highly centralizing, national government. But will Quebec be with him on the latter . . . and with us?

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, March 26, 1990
ID: 12757027
TAG: 199003260187
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

WHO’LL DEFEND OUR TRADITIONS?

“Immigration policy must reflect the views and interests of Canadians.” This is the motto of the modest bulletin of the little-known Immigration Association of Canada. It echoes Mackenzie King’s views as the prime minister gave them in Parliament in 1947.
“I wish to make it quite clear,” said King, “that Canada is perfectly within her rights in selecting the persons whom we regard as desirable future citizens . . . The people of Canada do not wish, as a result of mass immigration, to make fundamental alteration in the character of our population.”
Without doubt King had appraised nicely the prevailing view of Canadians. Has such a view changed in the 43 years since?
First, let’s note results of more recent opinion polls about the most visible and needful of immigrants – the refugees.
In 1986, polling indicated 72% of Canadians felt Canada was taking more than its share of international refugees; and 58% believed Canada should accept fewer refugees. (The corresponding figures from a 1989 poll were 74% and 59%.)
In 1987, 83% of Canadians supported the Tory immigration bill designed to curb refugee entry. (This was in the wake of the Tamils’ landing in Nova Scotia.)
Clearly, most Canadians do not want a policy which opens our doors wide to all from the four corners of the world.
So the question arises: Should governments respect the reiterated views of their citizens on immigration?
To follow such a concept of government, idealists say, would lead to government by polls and referenda. Consequently, minority views and rights would be largely ignored.
Rather, the idealists argue, governments must provide “leadership” in forming public opinion according to a perception of what’s right, wise and moral.
Our current controversy over immigration and refugee policy usually gets to the paradox between what the people want and what the idealists want, and then the latter conclude the populace should be educated against prejudice and racial intolerance in the name of humanity.
Critics of such grand humanitarianism can turn back to King’s precept that the nation has the given right to decide its own future, or to insist our warm hearts should not take us beyond what other nations do.
Of course, a short answer to this dilemma lies in the democracy of the ballot. Governments that ignore the vox populi do so at their own peril at election time, in particular when they get far ahead of the populace.
Unfortunately, real-life politics is not as simple as either following or leading vox populi. A noted critic of government by polls, McGill jurist Ronald Sklar, cites proof of its weakness.
“Can anybody doubt,” he wrote in 1987, “how a poll of public opinion in Germany in 1935 concerning confiscation of Jewish-owned property would have come out?”
A persuasive argument? Yes. But parry it this way. Ask another question taken from the same era and country.
“Can anybody doubt it was Hitler’s leadership that led to the confiscation of Jewish-owned property?”
Our immigration dilemma is marred by intolerance and nastiness, and much of it comes from the idealists. Those who consider themselves citizens of the world accuse defenders of traditions who favor a return to our traditional patterns of immigration as bigots and racists, almost as neo-Nazis.
Again, let’s go to public opinion polls. In 1982, 42% of Canadians believed that racial intolerance in the nation was on the increase; in 1989 the proportion ballooned to 54%.
A recent Reid-Southam poll on matters of racial harmony shows 54% of those queried think intolerance toward ethnic groups is on the rise. But 59% say ethnic minorities should abandon their customs and language and become “more like most Canadians.” Only 34% prefer the mosaic philosophy labelled “multiculturalism” by the Ottawa mandarinate.
A recent edition of CBC’s The Journal carried prescriptions from a Vancouver academic and a Calgary journalist on the curing of such manifest witness against diversity. In unison, they called on the federal government to enlighten this majority of “unsophisticated” and “uneducated” citizens on the merits of the multicultural harmony which will make Canada the global model to other nations.
But suppose the majority – bumpkins, traditionalists or pragmatists – are right, the idealists wrong. What if racial discord increases, even becomes acute in the few mega-city areas into which most Third World migrants funnel? The distancing widens between rural and hinterland Canada and the big cities. A realizing of multiculturalism’s potential demands more linguistic equality and, as a former Speaker of the Commons, Lloyd Francis, put it: “The time bomb is ticking away.”
The Mulroney government is nearly swamped with other more immediate problems. It’s also clear that the perils in our current immigration policy, in combination with our mushy multiculturalism, lie beyond the rim of our next electoral contest. Nonetheless the consequences of continued negligence are dangerous to our national survival.
It is difficult and painful, and perilous for a columnist, to argue against the lofty ideals of humanity and in defence of Canadian traditions, even though the argument has a handy majority in its favor. If you agree, let your MPs know, because most of them – of all three parties – are very wary of defending tradition.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, March 25, 1990
ID: 12756915
TAG: 199003250243
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C6
COLUMN: In Ottawa
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

SOVIETS MOTHER OUR INVENTION

On Friday in Ottawa an Alberta MP had three Russians meet a sparse clutch of reporters. Two of the Soviets were scientists, one a banker. They disclosed a new, small, most unusual joint enterprise in wood usage. It means Soviet development of a technology worked up by a Canadian inventor.
One of the scientists, Anatole Klyosov, has a high profile in the USSR through television exposure rather comparable to David Suzuki’s in Canada. He believes the technology “breakthrough” is comparable to that which fractionated petroleum. In short, big!
The odds are still long on full success for the enterprise but, if it prospers and rolls world-wide as the best method for converting wood to fibres and cellulose, huge benefits will accrue for our massive, forested landscapes – and for our economy.
In 11 years as an MP, David Kilgour (PC Edmonton Southeast) has come to be seen as a stubborn individualist, ready to walk alone, distinct from the Tory caucus. I think, as a Hill bystander, that Kilgour’s often isolated resolution dims the influence he might exert in Parliament, given the force and utility of some of his opinions.
This is a rather precious prelude to my appreciation of the hard work which Kilgour has done on a constituent’s behalf – for inventor Ted De Long. The MP and his staff have given hundreds of hours over some four years on De Long’s behalf, largely in challenging federal and provincial mandarins and Crown corporations.
In partisan terms such efforts are unprofitable, meaning nothing in voting support. Even if De Long wins success, any recognition for Kilgour in expanding the public good will be slight.
For 10 years I’ve believed that De Long’s patents in processing wood have the prospect to revolutionize our largest industry. It could alter the nature of our forests and end most environmental pollution caused by forest industries.
Let me play back what I wrote about the De Long technology in July, 1981. The sketch began with the dilemma in the Canadian woodlands, i.e., on the raw material side of forestry.
I wrote: “The premium trees for making pulp and paper were (and are) conifers. Hardwood species such as poplar and birch could not be used in manufacture to anything like the requirement for spruce (and secondarily for balsam and jack pine). Yet our vast boreal forests are heavy in poplar and birch, and these tend to reproduce more readily in cut-overs and burns than conifers. Therefore, we’ve billions of living cords of hardwoods in our forests which are under-used. Anything which would use more hardwoods profitably would give us a great national bonus.
“Over on the product side of the pulp and paper industry there’s been another unusable in great quantity. It’s lignin, an organic substance, which, together with cellulose, forms the essential part of woody tissue, making up the greater part of dry wood’s composition.
“Immense quantities of lignin issue out as a near waste from the making of pulp and paper in Canada. Scientists and engineers have strained for decades, with only moderate success, to find some beneficial use for lignin . . .
“What a breakthrough there would be if a process were available which: (a) found major products and revenue from our more prolific hardwoods; (b) did the same with lignin. Such a dual breakthrough would have wonderful implications for more than Canada. Think particularly of much of the Third World . . . ”
I asked Kilgour how he would explain the enormous difficulties De Long and his company (Tigney Technology) has had over more than 10 years in freeing his patents, in his repeated failure to get backing from federal development agencies and in being ignored or dismissed as a crank by executives of many of our large corporations engaged in exploiting our wood resource?
Kilgour sees the irony that Russians, Koreans, Norwegians and Italians have showed great interest and enthusiasm for the De Long technology and no Canadian outfit has. He explains it in part as a disbelief in a most self-confident industry that any lone inventor could develop something of such enormous import. And he sees the fear of immense redundancy. The new technology, if successful to large industrial ouput, would make obsolete most of the billions in present plants across Canada.
Kilgour notes that the Russian, Dr. Klyosov, estimates a 600-ton-a-day plant using the new technology will cost much less – maybe a fifth – of present pulp and paper plants.
Meanwhile, what Klyosov describes as “a novel, ecologically safe technology of producing cellulose and of the bio-technology of its conversion into useful products” is to proceed in the USSR, not in Canada where it was developed and also promises to do so much good.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, March 23, 1990
ID: 12756643
TAG: 199003230242
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

PET A VOICE FROM THE PAST

A group conclusion seemed to jell during Pierre Trudeau’s press conference in Ottawa on Wednesday. It seems a heartless dismissal of some superb argument and prose by the former PM. The conclusion was that Trudeau performed well but bootlessly.
The show covered 70 minutes. It brought on a wider range of hard questions to the principal on stage than the same Capital Hill press corps had for Brian Mulroney in the same setting not long ago.
Two reporters who are usually courteous, even good-natured, set the critical tone with their questions – Craig Oliver of CTV and Jason Moscovitz of CBC Radio.
Afterwards, another pleasant man, Roy MacGregor of the Ottawa Citizen, wrote that sitting listening to a “brilliant” Trudeau, he could “hear the air going out of his balloon. His words are recorded, no more. They do not ignite.”
At the scene, Oliver jovially ragged Trudeau on what of worth and relevance a “yesterday’s man” could contribute.
Moscowitz was more brutal but carefully measured as he sketched for Trudeau a scenario of him as mere “side-show” in the current vitality of constitutional politics. He queried if anything Trudeau had to say in the forum of public discussion was relevant, in particular in or about Quebec.
It was my opinion Trudeau either met well or mastered every question.
There is more to this reaction of “side-show” and “yesterday’s man” than a crude media decision that power and those who have it like the PM and the premiers are the story and those without it are meaningless.
If this is the reality in the current national situation then Clyde Wells is far more significant than Trudeau or his alternative to Mulroney, Jean Chretien. As for the crucial Quebec aspect in the constitutional dilemma, neither Trudeau and Jean Chretien nor the likes of Wells and Sharon Carstairs mean anything positive. At least I took this from the attitude which seemed implicit in so many of the questions to Trudeau: He is no longer a voice of the Quebecois.
Of course, it’s true, and arguably to Trudeau’s credit and honesty, that he’s never pretended to be or wanted to be a voice of the Quebecois or Quebecers. He’s a Canadian from Quebec of French stock who believes absolutely that the broad country in all its territory and federated diversity offers more to Quebecers than any Laurentide republic could or will.
Such a stance is clearly not in high favor with the French-language press, at least as revealed at the press conference. There was a certainty, not a querulousness in the tone, phrasing and content of the questions with their prefaced assertions that were addressed to Trudeau in French.
I read into the approach of the franco reporters a certitude that developments in Quebec in business, in demography across Canada (especially in language loss) and in growing anglo antagonism to bilingualism and Quebecois assertiveness have combined to take their “nation” well past the fears and attendant opinions of just a decade ago when Trudeau and the provincial Liberals of Quebec handily repulsed the sovereignty association referendum of Rene Levesque.
Trudeau’s views on Canada and its constitutional questions or options haven’t changed at all. If anything, he’s less ready to give concessions to critics than he was immediately after the defeat of sovereignty association. Then he argued an immediacy about moves to assure Quebecers that most of their grievances with the rest of Canada and Ottawa which may have argued against the signing of the constitution. Now he argues it didn’t matter then and doesn’t matter now whether a Quebec government formally signs the Constitution. As he put it, “another gang of Quebecers” did (i.e., his federal gang from Quebec) and should and will do so again.
One could interpret from Trudeau at the press conference (and with Barbara Frum on CBC and Pamela Wallin on CTV) that he is almost fatalistic that Quebec gamesmanship and Mulroney’s weakness make certain a changed relationship of Quebec with the other provinces.
He believes Ottawa and the other provinces should challenge the Quebec autonomists like Premier Robert Bourassa. Stop playing their game. Demand they be honest. Either go for separation or shut up. Put it to the people!
If separation should carry in Quebec, Trudeau and his sons would stay there. He would, however, have the Canada bereft of Quebec negotiate a tough deal with the departing ones.
Trudeau made the point a dozen times in different ways that it is stupid to play the Quebec nationalists’ game by making concessions. He insists that Mulroney and his doctrine of reconciliation has been stripping Ottawa of its capacity to lead a country.
The Meech Lake accord, in concert with the free trade agreement with the U.S., signifies a country on a course to inanition and satellite status. The Meech accord in its present form condones and institutionalizes a weak federal government. Whatever Quebec politicians, intellectuals, and journalists say, he thinks most Quebecers want Canada.
It’s my guess that if Trudeau’s lines were tested in a national poll the result would parallel Mackenzie King’s 1942 referendum on conscription: Strong approval in English Canada, rejection in Quebec.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, March 21, 1990
ID: 12756342
TAG: 199003210232
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

ALWAYS CHECK YOUR FACTS

An error in print always tends to live on. So this acknowledges and corrects one in a recent column about Brian Mulroney’s failure to amend the Senate’s powers in his 66 months in office.
My error was to use the sum of 10 rather than eight in terms of the constitutional power (sec. 26-28, BNA Act) which a prime minister has to nominate extra senators. This power, which has been unused, lets a PM raise the number of senators from the normal maximum of 104 to 112.
Where did the wrong number come from? I failed to check the act and I recalled poorly a recent chat about a way Mulroney might wrest control of the Senate from Liberal Allan MacEachen, who is blocking passage of the GST bill.
Gross as the error was, it doesn’t ruin my proposition that the Tories, if tough and determined, could end MacEachen’s reign this year.
Mulroney could take two steps – fill the current 11 Senate vacancies and add the extraordinary eight appointments allowed by the Constitution. That is, put 19 new Tory senators in the chamber – loyalists sworn to attend. Then, keep forcing votes in the Senate. Wear down the Grits.
At present, if every senator turned out for a vote the Grits would win by from 19 to 21 votes. By adding 19 Tories it becomes very close. Many of the Liberals are elderly, even more are far from zealous and the partisanship of a few has much faded. In short, a determined Tory Senate caucus, invigorated by new members picked for a cause, could ensure the GST goes through (and also the unemployment insurance bill which MacEachen is blockading).
There was little negative reaction by the public at large to the federal “redress” payments to those of Japanese stock cleared out from the West Coast in 1942 as a war measure. This may be prompting the Mulroney government to offer cash redress for tens of thousands of Chinese (or their descendants) who had to pay a head tax on entering Canada.
Last week Alan Redway, one of Mulroney’s Toronto ministers, announced such a redress package was in the works.
The sum from the federal treasury for the more than 20,000 of Japanese stock who are eligible will run to over $300 million. It’s guesswork what the Chinese redress will total. One expert has figured about $800 million, given inflation and accumulated interest which, in some cases, would accrue over more than a century.
Of course, this second redress will boost the other redress-seekers, notably of Italian and Ukrainian stock, who were interned under the inhumane policies of our governments in World War I and/or World War II.
R. Tyndorf, an official of the Canadian Polish Congress, has taken me to task for two aspects in columns about Rosalie Abella, noted jurist and leading exponent of equality.
It is regrettable that I put “Polish anti-Semitism” and “the inhumanity of Hitlerism” on the same level. Tyndorf is right: “The two are entirely different matters that bear virtually no comparison.”
The other aspect criticized is more difficult to regret or apologize over. I reviewed a speech Abella made about discrimination that her father faced as a Jew in getting into the University of Cracow and while attending lectures before World War II. Tyndorf says his information is that no “numerus clausus” rule was in effect in Cracow then. If he is right, then Abella was wrong or misinformed.
In my memory no story about a serving MP has more surprised the Parliament Hill community than the one about the disciplining for “professional misconduct” of Mary Clancy, a Liberal MP (Halifax) by the Nova Scotia bar.
No feminist MP has been a sturdier fighter for her sisters in both the House and its committees than Clancy since she was elected in 1988. She was four years late for the Rat Pack but she recalls their racket and gall. She’s a tigress in citing wrongs done women and demanding an end to such injustice.
Now we learn this champion cannot practise again in Nova Scotia without going back to law school. Somehow Clancy “misled” one female client and “deceived” another. We await her appeal to the courts.
It was shrewd of Solicitor General Pierre Cadieux, undoubtedly pushed by the PM, to look far into the future in approving the changes in the Mounties’ dress code which let Sikhs in the force wear turbans.
In our multicultural diversity, far more than Sikhs wear headdress mete to personal religio-ethnic requirements. What’s fair for Sikhs must be there for others.
For centuries before Sikhism flowered, many Moslems and many Jews have worn turbans or yarmulkes or yashmaks (female Moslems) as their beliefs required. It is possible Palestinian-Canadians who wear a headdress like Yasser Arafat’s may join the force. The RCMP already has some aboriginal members whose tribes have traditionally worn a particular form of bonnet or head-band.
In short, under the new dispensation the Mounties in the years ahead may well be the best, most visual measure of our multiculture.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, March 18, 1990
ID: 12755969
TAG: 199003180299
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C6
ILLUSTRATION: photo of ALLAN MacEACHEN Senate majority leader
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER, IN OTTAWA

BRIAN VS. THE SENATE

Our Senate was created in 1867 as a chamber of “sober, second thought.” However, this year frugality isn’t in the upper chamber’s mandate.
Today’s Senate is managed by Liberal Allan MacEachen, who went for an 8% increase in spending – from $37 million to $40.1 million – and got it from Brian Mulroney’s treasury board.
The boost seems generous, given the nation’s monstrous debt load, the senatorial blockage of major Tory bills, and a wage bill lowered because a tenth of the Senate’s slots have been empty for many months.
It baffles me why Mulroney has failed in over five years to make any moves to protect his government and its programs from a Senate run by his partisan enemies. Since mid-1986 Mulroney’s leader in the Senate has been Lowell Murray, a “backroom” boy without parliamentary experience. He has been a toy in MacEachen’s hands on Senate matters.
Some excuse Murray because he’s been so busy as Mulroney’s Meech Lake messenger. What’s obvious to all but the PM is Murray’s shortcomings in personality and wit. However decent and loyal a chap he is, a leader he is not.
Several ministers have told me Mulroney’s failure to counter the Liberal power in the Senate arises from provisions in the Meech accord which are semi-effective already. These provide for Senate nominations by provincial governments. Also there’s been enormous public discussion about a reformed, elected Senate – most notably in Alberta. There, intrinsic Americanism glories over the powers of a U.S. senator. And so it’s seemed reasonable that Mulroney wait for the propitious constitutional moment to go for the big Triple “E” Senate that westerners dream is their escape from central Canadian domination.
Maybe!
To me Mulroney’s inaction on the Senate recalls Joe Clark’s curious freeze in late 1979. As he and his MPs rose in an avoidable vote which threw them out of power there were on Clark’s desk names for several hundred important appointments. They’d been there for weeks. The jobs were soon filled by the Liberals.
The calendar year of 1990 is arguably more crucial than any other for Mulroney in his second mandate. Either he gets the GST through Parliament by Christmas and ready to function in January, 1991, or his leadership is in ruinous disarray.
One doesn’t need much experience to know that a Liberal Senate majority which blocked the free trade agreement its first time in Parliament (making it the issue of the ’88 election), which dragged out drug legislation, refugee reforms, and is now frustrating major changes in unemployment insurance will have the requisite national heroism (and partisanship) to block the GST’s passage through upper chamber.
And Mulroney has neither the legislative time nor an immense weight of favorable public opinion to make MacEachen and his unelected band give up a blockade.
In numbers, the Senate dilemma is stark. A change in them in time to favor Mulroney is impossible unless he takes an extraordinary step under the Constitution which has never been used.
Today’s Senate standings are: Liberals, 54; Tories, 34; independents, 5; vacancies, 11; for a total of 104.
Of the five independents two are really MacEachen’s men; two, perhaps three are not. Also, several Liberals are now very sickly. At his very best MacEachen would command some 56 votes, and Murray 35 to 36.
If Mulroney appoints 11 certain Tories to the present vacancies it makes roughly 46 government votes against 56 opposition ones.
However, there is a provision in the Constitution which gives a PM the extraordinary power to appoint 10 extra senators. So, consider this plan:
Mulroney appoints the 10, along with the 11 for the vacant seats. (He’s even or within one or two votes of the Grits.) He ensures these appointees and his present senators accept a crisis scenario for several months. In concert they could soon wrest away MacEachen’s control. Why think this? Wouldn’t the wily Nova Scotian still have a slight edge?
MacEachen’s flaw is that more than a dozen of the Liberal senators are not very zealous in attendance and partisanship. Mainly, they’re around just enough to safeguard their pay and perquisites. They couldn’t stand strenuous day-to-day sessions of votes and challenges. Shortly the Tories would be able to set the agenda and its limits, guaranteeing the GST’s passage in time for Jan. 1, 1991.
Yes, it seems a wild scenario. However, I tried it on an active Liberal senator. He grinned: “It’s there. He (Mulroney) could do it. But I don’t think he’s that daring.” Neither do I.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, March 16, 1990
ID: 12755674
TAG: 199003160259
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SERIES: Second of two parts

SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

WOMEN FIGHT OVER FUNDING

For two decades it was widely accepted that Canadian women, in their struggle toward equality, were represented by the National Action Committee on the Status of Women (NAC). And so the NAC and its constituent groups were the sole recipients of federal funding.
Then, in 1983, a band of proud housewives rebelled against the new monolith in Canadian feminism. They chose the name REAL Women and began attacking the privileged status accorded NAC by the politicians. The acronym stands for Realistic, Equal, Active, for Life.
In plain language, REAL Women believe the family is the most vital unit of society, and governments should respect and promote this basic tenet. Their traditionalism is most clear in a categorical rejection of abortion. In short, REAL women are in sharp opposition to the “progressives” of the NAC.
Soon after forming REAL Women, its educated leaders, aware Ottawa dispensed funds to women’s groups, tried for some. They had good reason to expect favorable consideration. Their membership was rapidly growing. They were for equality, although it was for a more traditional sort of equality. Most positive of all, a Conservative government held power and many Tory MPs approved of REAL Women.
But no. David Crombie, Toronto’s once tiny perfect mayor, presided over federal grants to women. He rejected REAL Women outright. In fact, he parroted the prevailing dogma in his department which supported only groups which promote understanding and action on status of women’s issues, especially in the area of equality. REAL Women do not.
It was a puzzling rebuff. Listen to a comment on it by the articulate vice president of REAL Women, Gwendolyn Landolt. She was challenged recently before a House committee on the issue of equality by Mary Clancy, a Liberal MP in the Sheila Copps mode and a staunch backer of the NAC.
Landolt said:
“You say women earn less than men. You have not raised the more important question, which is why do women earn less than men? Women are more likely on average to leave the work force before retirement . . . (they) work a shorter week . . . (they) are not in high-paying jobs. We are going for higher education, but we will take degrees in social work, which is not as high paying as in the business world. Or women will go into medicine and they will go into family practice instead of surgery, which is much higher paying. In other words, on average, women are paid less for different reasons.
“One of the reasons,” Landolt drove her point home, “whether we like it or not, is that many women are married and have family responsibilities, which means we have a different game plan . . . It is interesting and significant that according to Statistics Canada, in 1984 women who were single and between ages of 45 and 54 earned on average 13% more than unmarried men. Women over 55 who were unmarried . . . in 1985 earned 18% more than single men.”
Such pithy counters and rarely heard opinions explain why Svend Robinson, the NDP’s justice critic, tried (and failed) to block appending the REAL Women brief to the committee hearing’s record.
It took REAL Women two years of lobbying and much raising of their case in the weekly Tory caucus before the government broke the monopoly of the official feminists.
Last April Gerry Weiner, minister responsible for the large program of grants for women, graciously handed REAL Women a cheque for $21,212 toward the cost of a national conference in Ottawa. Encouraged, REAL Women recently put in for an operating grant of $260,000 and a grant of $130,000 to hold another national conference in Vancouver in April.
Somehow I doubt REAL Women will succeed. The feminists in the House, led by female MPs and Liberal Mary Clancy, have been bitter and nasty toward REAL Women, and today the government is buffeted from all directions by organized special interests. The orchestrated voices of the militant feminists are far louder, their advocates in the media more omnipresent than anything by or for REAL Women, which cannot count on open advocacy when the opposition ranks scorn it as a “fringe group.”
The New Democrats are explicit and never cease to back feminist causes. Listen to Vancouver MP Svend Robinson, as he chastised REAL Women last fall in a House human rights committee, where its leaders were promoting traditional family values. Robinson said it “has consistently promoted lies and hatred toward lesbians and gays.”
As for the NAC, its leaders have good reason to be arrogantly confident. Read the sign on the wall of Louise Dulude, the past president of the NAC: “If REAL Women want money, they should go ask their husbands.”
The issue may end up in court. Gwendolyn Landolt intimated as much in a recent Commons committee hearing when she stated that REAL Women is being denied equality on the basis of their beliefs, contrary to Section 2 of the Charter of Rights.
One need not agree with the REAL Women’s philosophy or specific aims to think it has a point. (Personally, I’m pro-choice). Surely members of REAL Women are no less women than those who bind with the more militant philosophy and program of the NAC. They are no less citizens and taxpayers and have as much right to funding from the public purse.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, March 14, 1990
ID: 12755362
TAG: 199003140236
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

CUTS INCENSE THE SISTERHOOD

The drive to equality for women in a society allegedly dominated by males has been backed by the federal government for two decades. Exactly 20 years ago a women’s group supplicated Ottawa for modest help (“would $10,000 be too much?”). After that, the generosity of the Ottawa purse towards women’s interests burgeoned.
The first $10,000 grew to a peak of $13.3 million in 1988. It was a shock last year as a debt-ridden government dared to cut $2 million, and just a fortnight ago a further cut of $1.6 million was announced. Now our “official” women will get “only” $9.7 million.
The latest outcries have been shrill. An emotional friend of the oppressed, Michele Landsberg (married to Stephen Lewis) was furious. She wrote in the Star: “Tory cuts are silencing our sisters.” She said women will never again vote Tory. Doris Anderson, also a feminist scribe of the Star, asserted that women voters would “smash” the Mulroney government.
Let’s look more closely at the “blue” estimate books which set out federal intentions and spending to get a line on the PC government’s policy on women.
The main organ of the disadvantaged gender is called Status of Women – Canada. It’s on the federal teat for a neat $4 million, up $400,000 from the previous year. This sum supports 46 full-time female bureaucrats. The stated purpose? To promote and ensure “equal opportunities for women in all spheres of Canadian life.”
One mustn’t confuse this particular outfit with another one in the “blue” book – the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women. This council, staffed by 44 people, will spend $3.5 million (and has an increase of only $100,000).
Why two such groups? The “blue” book explains: Whereas the council gives the federal government “ongoing” advice on women’s issues, Status of Women – Canada takes care of the “day-to-day” advice on the same issues to the same government.
That’s not all. The “blue” book also mentions the Women’s Bureau in the department of labor with the budget of $1.3 million (no cut) and a staff of 14. There are several other initiatives in the labyrinth of official feminism. (No program caters specifically to men.) There is the aboriginal women’s program of Indian Affairs or the Women’s Career Counselling and Referral Bureau in the Public Service Commission. There are myriad grants to ethnic women in the secretary of state’s multicultural program and we should not overlook the Human Rights Commission (with a budget of $15 million and growing). The bulk of its complaints come from women.
Surely (thinks this male) such pervasiveness in dollars and programs to help women by the present government hardly deserves the harsh attacks from feminist soul-sisters like Landsberg and Anderson.
The screams over a cut of $1.6 million from a total outlay of some $40 million for feminist issues were predictable when one reviews the recent history of the war against discrimination by those who insist Canada is a male-dominated nation.
The feminist era here began in 1970 with the massive report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women. It had some 200 recommendations which, when enacted, would do away with the barriers faced by Canadian women. In 1971 Pierre Trudeau put Bryce Mackasey in charge of women’s matters. In 1976 what became the focal point of the effort was created, the Status of Women – Canada.
About the same time a group of “concerned” women formed the Ad Hoc Committee for the Equality of Women, later renamed National Action Committee on the Status of Women (NAC). They came to Mackasey with a request for a $10,000 grant. The generous Irishman from Montreal found the request too modest. He signed a cheque for a more dignified sum of $50,000. From there it was a short step toward the real solution: The establishment of a women’s program in the department of the secretary of state, with millions of dollars to spread among women’s groups which mushroomed across the country.
The NAC is a congregation of some 500 women’s groups. It’s constituent members are as disparate as the Anglican Church, the Canadian Organization for the Right of Prostitutes, Women’s Commission of the Communist Party of Canada, and the YWCA. It claims to represent three million Canadian women, an assertion spoofed by Danielle Crittenden in Saturday Night (counting in its membership “every woman who had joined the Y to use its pool”).
A list of the NAC leaders scans like a Who’s Who of Canadian feminism. Laura Sabia was one of the pioneers, although she was later disavowed as a renegade when she criticized the growing militancy and radicalism of the NAC. Then came Winnipeg sociologist Lorna Marsden (later a Liberal senator), Lynn McDonald (later an NDP MP), and Chaviva Hosek (later housing minister in the Ontario Liberal cabinet).
The NAC was long entrenched as the self-claimed voice for Canadian women before a dissident group emerged to challenge both its reach and its omniscience. Recently it has begun to threaten the monopoly status of the NAC. In the polarization such competition is forcing, it is becoming clear that many women are not ready fits at either pole. What’s forcing this challenge to the NAC comes from REAL Women.
More on them on Friday.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, March 12, 1990
ID: 12755065
TAG: 199003120219
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THE TORONTO DIFFERENCE

Is Toronto a problem or the solution of Canadian trends?
The following references to Toronto were noted in recent literature for MPs. They suggest Toronto is both Canada’s future and her curse.
First are remarks to House committees by Michael Murphy, a federal demographer. He’s manager of a major “review” of our population.
Murphy spoke on Jan. 30 to the House committee on health and welfare, etc. about immigration:
“This idea that there are billions of people in the world and they are all aching to come to Canada is probably not correct. The kind of people who come to Canada tend to be . . . urban, cosmopolitan people who are used to travelling around, to whom the idea of leaving a country and coming to another country is attractive and something that is actually within their ken, as it were.
“These . . . tend to be the people who go to Toronto . . . because one of the studies we did shows that for immigrants who come to Canada from India, their occupational income and educational criteria are more like Canadians than they are like the average Indian. In fact they are more like the people who live in Toronto than they are like the average Canadian. Whether or not this has something to do with our selection criteria or just the changing nature of the world is an issue.”
The next day Murphy was before the House labor, employment and immigration committee. It’s analyzing population trends. He said:
“What we have here is the population of Halifax and Toronto in ethnic terms. This is ethnic data from the census – not the world’s strongest data, but it is no weaker in one pie than in the other.
“In ethnic terms this is Halifax in 1951 and Toronto in 1951 . . . They are roughly the same city, around three-quarters British origin and one-quarter of other European origins.”
“Now, if you look at 1986, after 35 years of very heavy immigration and real changes in the sources, Halifax in 1986 was almost the same city it was in 1951, almost the same city Toronto was in 1951. But if you look at Toronto, it has significantly changed. It is a much more diverse city than it was in those early times – a much better city, that is right. That is a personal judgment . . . ”
Another House committee that day was exploring what ought to be “the roles and terms of references” of the new federal department of forestry. Rod Carrow, dean of forestry at the University of Toronto, was a witness. He said:
“We had a symposium at the university last week on `old growth forests.’ In introducing it I said: `Gee, it’s kind of fun to chair a forestry event that is a sellout.’ ”
“I have never had that experience in my life. We had over 500 people register for that – and it was not free; it was a $50 registration fee, so they were serious. Of course, they were mostly from Toronto, and my sense from that group was: We have to live in the city most of the time, and when we get out of the city we want to go to something that has some semblance of a natural environment, and the natural environment that is left is the forest. That was really what it is. So I think we are going to see a continuing debate along those lines and it is going to be a difficult one.”
Later Carrow said: “As the years go by I become more and more convinced that the issue of public awareness or public understanding of forestry is critically important to the sustainability of this resource. I am constantly shocked at the lack of public understanding and public support. I can give you very clear examples that we have picked up at the University of Toronto where we have had declining enrollment in forestry all through the 1980s. That is not unique to Toronto . . . but it is particularly severe at our school.
“We have traditionally drawn our students from the Metro Toronto region, from Southern Ontario . . . For the last four years we have had a systematic program of going into the high schools, of talking to students, guidance counsellors and teachers . . . We are getting a very clear message back and it is a consistent message: That the reason students are not going into forestry is that the sector has a bad public image and, secondly, that the economic stability of the sector is uncertain . . . that to me reflects an attitude of the generation that is coming along. They perceive the sector as being economically unstable . . . as being bad.”
Two weeks ago the Economic Council of Canada issued a report, “Good Jobs, Bad Jobs; Employment in the Service Economy.” It will have a long, argumentative life and cause despair for union leaders and politicians who represent small town, and rural Canada. It examines the ruthless swing to more jobs in services, fewer in producing goods. It says:
“Virtually all of the recent employment growth has involved either highly skilled, well-compensated, and secure jobs or unstable and relatively poorly paid jobs.”
The hopes a computer-based economy would be “footloose,” boosting regional development, were wrong. The report says:
“The indices for dynamic services are directly related to the size of the urban centre. For these services, the degree of concentration is typically highest in the largest metropolitan areas.” Toronto’s the largest, by half a million!
In short, Canada’s not shaping Toronto much – it’s the reverse.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, March 11, 1990
ID: 12754935
TAG: 199003110254
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C5
ILLUSTRATION: map of Canada NEW PORTRAIT OF A NATION?
COLUMN: In Ottawa
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

CONSIDERING THE NEW SHAPE OF A COMPLICATED CANADA

What should the governments in Ottawa or at Queen’s Park be doing in anticipation that the Meech Lake accord will fail?
Surely anglo Canadians outside Quebec want their leaders to be considering “fail safe” alternatives. If Quebec declares itself “out’ is there any longer a federal government? Do the other provincial governments come together to respond to the situation?
These are not silly questions.
Would a federal prime minister with a seat in Quebec have any role in a Canada without Quebec?
Would Ottawa itself any longer have a practical role? It would certainly not seem to have a constitutional one. Nor would the Supreme Court.
The present Constitution is a compromise between French and English and hardly practical for an anglo Canadian state.
Quebec’s parting will raise the issue in some provinces, particularly Alberta and Newfoundland, about considering separation themselves, perhaps prior to negotiating entry into the United States.
Surely the other nine provinces should begin planning to remain a unit and canvass for broad agreement among us what we do when the time comes, including what we want our negotiators to be tough about with the Quebecois.
It needs to be stressed, and stressed again: If Quebec goes it means a fresh and very complicated start for English Canada.
Mistake it not. Once again – as from 1976 until the sovereignty-association referendum was defeated in Quebec in 1980 – a Quebec government is appraising a new relationship with Canada, outside the present Constitution.
This is what Premier Robert Bourassa intended in recent words to his Liberal party. His party and ministry are launching studies for a plan to achieve what Quebecers want, if and when Meech fails.
Even during the years of ruckus before the referendum was defeated, the Quebecers, whether of Rene Levesque’s PQ or the Liberals (then led by Claude Ryan), were publishing proposals on how the new arrangements would be or should be drawn.
On the other side, almost none of the responses by federalists spelled out what was to be done by the rest of Canada if Quebec separated or insisted on something just short of it like Levesque’s sovereignty association.
Anglos then, like anglos now, hardly believe Quebecers might depart. But we should ready for it.
We should consider these questions.
Should we go this time for a strong, overriding central government?
Should there be a massive readjustment of borders for the provinces left? Say a merging of the three Prairie provinces, or of the three Maritime provinces?
Should the new country be unilingual English?
Such questions are far more than hackle-raisers. If Quebec chooses to go, even if it’s just to an “association” which would continue a common currency and a free trade market with the rest of Canada, it forces change on us.
It’s certain that Bourassa’s task force will begin by poring over what’s already been flown by earlier compatriots, including the PQ’s 1979 paper, Quebec-Canada; A New Deal, and Ryan’s response with the so-called “Beige Paper.” To understand what we and our leaders must consider let’s begin with the PQ paper’s words on territory.
In effect, for the French language and the Quebecois to survive there must be an enclave where they control and have their language. Bourassa’s task force will begin, as the PQ did, with the themes that this is our land; this is our language.
“Territory: Quebec has an inalienable right over its territory, recognized even in the present Constitution, which states that the territory of a province cannot be modified without the consent of that province. On becoming sovereign, Quebec, as is the rule in international law, will thus maintain its territorial integrity.”
There was no claim by the PQ for Labrador even though its acquisition by Quebec might make some sense in terms of juxtaposition. On the other hand, there wasn’t any hindsight by the Quebecers back to 1912 when Quebec gained a huge land mass north to Hudson Bay and Hudson Strait from the Dominion territories.
Even though many of us boggle at the idea that Quebec really will leave, surely we should consider how it will affect us. There will be much to negotiate with Quebec, much for us to thresh out. Let me leave you to think about the prospect of departure with some of the matters which our representatives will have to settle with theirs.
Apportioning shares of the federal debt.
Apportioning responsibilities for pensions, notably to present and past federal employees who live in Quebec and choose to remain there.
Splitting the armed services and their equipment, etc. in a rational way.
Transferring authority, facilities, and employees from federal transport roles, including arrangements for the use of the St. Lawrence Seaway, international airports, wharfs, canals and railway properties.
Working out arrangements through which both federal Crown corporations and private corporations presently headquartered in Quebec may transfer operations and employees out to Canada. One thinks of CN, the new space agency, the film boards.
Separating the present customs and excise regime into two workable functions.
Transferring or getting quit-claims of Quebec nationality from the 60,000-plus federal employees, including several score with deputy-minister rank, who are “French in the home” or “French mother tongue.” It is inconceivable the new Quebec would need anything like so many more public servants or have any use for anything more than a small modicum of the huge federal buildings in Hull and the Gatineau.
My list only glances over what we should have the best and brightest English Canadians considering, well before Bourassa, or the next Quebec premier, with the backing of most Quebecers declares they’re going.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, March 09, 1990
ID: 12754660
TAG: 199003090280
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

UP THE CREEK WITH AUDREY

Who would have thought Ed Broadbent would be missed so soon? The House misses his consistent rants and scolds. TV reporters longingly recall his short, pungent “clips.” And already many in his caucus wish he were back and puzzle over his successor, Audrey McLaughlin.
Broadbent’s home free, but not his party and caucus as it begins to appreciate its self-inflicted dilemma. Even some of the many MPs who openly preferred McLaughlin to very experienced male politicians such as Dave Barrett or Steven Langdon now realize that as leader she bodes disaster.
It’s true the party’s rules provide a leadership review in 1992. So it might be possible to replace McLaughlin before Brian Mulroney goes to the country, perhaps late in 1992, probably in the spring of 1993.
Three items in recent papers raise associations with the NDP and its current waning as a national party.
Firstly, take the report of a decision by the union chiefs within the CLC to ride along two more years with Shirley Carr as congress president. Not because they want her so much as because they dallied in setting up her ouster and cannot face the heat of challenging with a chosen alternative on the floor of the coming convention. (So much for Canadian Auto Workers’ boss Bob White as organizing genius.)
It’s clearly not for the squeamish to dump a female leader who is sure of her worth and determined to stay. The moral for New Democrats is: If they would replace McLaughlin before electoral tragedy, perhaps with Langdon or Bob Rae, some high-level NDP MPs must convince both McLaughlin and the queen-makers like Marion Dewar, Gerry Caplan and Stephen Lewis that it’s for the sake of “the movement.”
Although each has a sensible kernel, the other two items are unlikely to promote harmony in our socialist party. One was news of the challenge by John Fryer – a public service union leader, a devout New Democrat and a federal candidate in 1988 – for talks within the labor movement and the party about the pros and cons of the link of two decades duration between the CLC, most of its affiliates, and the NDP.
The other was the beseeching of a working alliance between the Liberals and the NDP so as to guarantee the riddance of Mulroney and his free trade gang. It came from Ken McNaught, historian and the biographer of the CCF’s founding “saint,” the late Rev. James S. Woodsworth.
Prof. McNaught’s peroration was beautifully set across the top of the Globe and Mail’s Wednesday op-ed page. Although it’s unlikely to earn ready, open agreement from any the stalwarts in either party the plea has a good, nation-saving ring and its logic is crass enough for a moron to understand. It is that Mulroney has to be beaten.
There cannot be another failure as in 1988 when good Canadians with the common aim of saving the essence of Canada and killing the free trade agreement split their forces. Next time the Americans and their sycophants must be axed. This can only be certain through common cause of New Democrats and Liberals. In concert they must gear to an election in which neither screws up the chances of the other of winning a seat in which it has an edge through splitting the anti-Tory vote. In short, co-operation is required somewhat like the negotiated collusion of David Peterson and Bob Rae which shook the Davis-less Tories out of power in Ontario.
While there’s a swatch of concerned nationalists still bitter from 1988 – especially in the cultural and academic communities, to whom McNaught’s evangelism appeals – even much discussion of it tips favor to the Liberals, leaving the NDP more beleaguered.
The Grits (and Mulroney’s Tories for that matter) know the NDP has mired itself with a weak, poorly informed leader without much promise or even the time to improve much. Meantime, they are enjoying a leadership exercise which is bringing a huge new membership, nation-wide involvement through TV, a genuine contest and a bag of popular policy ideas. And at the close of this race the Liberals know they’ll have a proven campaigner to lead them. Why would they pause for long over working with the NDP in a campaign?
Their mounting enthusiasm tells them Liberal candidates will knock off 20 to 25 of the NDP’s 41 seats in the next election. Historian McNaught might recall Mackenzie King’s reasoning early in World War II. He chose not to form a “national” government although a host of high-minded editorials demanded one.
John Fryer is as shrewd and positive as one finds in politics. He’s earned his “bonafides” in labor and the party. Further, the disadvantages to each in the CLC-NDP liaison have been clear since Mulroney took office. Yet, as Fryer told me, he was immediately tagged a heretic for seeking a review of CLC-NDP relations.
Such animus forced Fryer to issue a modifier from his office at the National Union of Provincial Government Employees Office. He denied he “had called for a split between the CLC and the NDP.” All he’d sought was “a full, open, honest discussion of all aspects of the CLC’s current structure, mandate and function. The question of relations with the NDP is only one small part of the re-examination we want to take place.”
It’s a safe prediction that there’ll never be such “an open, honest discussion” in the CLC/NDP.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, March 07, 1990
ID: 12754324
TAG: 199003070249
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

KNEE-JERKING TEAR-JERKERS

In our politics, emotions rise above those substantive issues that lack the immediacy of human symbols. Witness the MPs’ questions after the mid-winter break of the House.
The opposition MPs had to rant against the recent Mike Wilson budget they’d had so few days to criticize. They did, but most of their rage was at three cuts and one small revenue grab. The dollar sum of all this was hardly $40 million out of total cuts of more than $2 billion.
The outrage was about cuts for publishing enterprises of Indians, for local women’s agencies, for one item in the veterans’ independence program (VIP), and also over a rise in room and board charges to veterans confined to hospitals and nursing homes.
The Grits and New Democrats largely ignored the big spending cuts. These will come in “capping” some transfer payments to the three richest provinces and in axing two expensive mega projects: The Polar 8 icebreaker (to have been built in B.C.) and the OSLO oil sands development in Alberta.
Many will be persuaded by emotional assertions on TV that Brian Mulroney’s government is callous toward two groups – Indians and women. A third group – veterans – rouses in many a fiercer piety. As a youngish NDP MP reverently put it, these are men who fought and were ready to die for Canada.
There has not been a reduction in the major or core programs for Indians or veterans.
Indian Affairs spending is up over the year by some $182 million – from $3.35 billion to $3.53 billion. DVA spending is up to $1.77 billion from $1.71 billion. Spending, wholly on women’s activities, is scattered over many federal accounts. A total dollar figure is beyond my grasp of the “estimates” but as I read them there haven’t been cuts in national programs within the regular federal mandate.
The distinction here, as I see it, is that the hullabaloo on cruelty to women is over cuts in grants to a scatter of agencies which have developed locally to aid women. None of these is part of a continuous national program or funded regularly from the so-called “A base” of any federal department.
These local associations or centres whose federal grants have been cut or stopped have social and welfare purposes which, jurisdictionally, are far more under municipal or provincial ambit and responsibility. The real worth and value of each one is surely best measured and supported in each locale. Ottawa wouldn’t dare to legislate such centres with a coherent, national program because it would infringe on the responsibilities of other orders of government.
The case for reducing or ending annual grants to a variety of native periodicals and other communications is a good one. It puts the responsibility where it should be – on the native associations. If they want such publication sustained they have substantial, regular funding from the federal purse. If these papers, magazines, etc. are worthwhile, surely the treaty groups, the bands themselves, or the several thousand “briefcase” Indians who staff and run the big associations should ante up.
On the often alleged meanness of this federal government to the aborigines note this:
In its first budget year, 1984-85, Indian Affairs’ spending was $2.1 billion. Six years later it’s projected at $3.7 billion. That’s not stinting! In contrast, in the same period CBC funding rose less than $0.3 billion.
The budget vis-a-vis veterans is even more a case of angry critics outrunning common sense. (I say that as a veteran.)
For years DVA’s charges for room and board given veterans permanently in hospitals or nursing homes were either too low (at first $120 a month; recently $240 a month) or not charged at all through an administrative screw-up.
Take a case of a veteran close to me who died after five years in what is called a “DVA contract bed.” I was left a small cash bequest. The value of this veteran’s estate, including liquid cash, had burgeoned in the institutionalized years because DVA levied such low charges. This resulted in a bonus for the deceased’s heirs but it was unfair to taxpaying citizens. The new charges to be fully in place next year of $440 a month are still well below the basic income a month of any veteran in such care. The vet is either 65 and receiving Old Age Security and guaranteed assistance, or getting the war veterans’ allowance if he or she is not yet 65.
No MP bashing the government for the “cut” on veterans has noted that it’s in the VIP program, whose costs have been zooming. Why? Firstly, because the insistence on “generosity” by George Hees, the recent DVA minister, galvanized bureaucrats and Legion branches. Secondly, last year the Tories extended the program to keep vets in their own homes from those who served overseas to those who only served in Canada.
VIP in 1984-85 had just over 5,000 clients. It cost about $8 million. Last year VIP had 66,000 clients at a cost of $95 million. The forecast is for 123,000 clients by 1993-94. That’s why DVA has been harried by worried mandarins in finance. Slow the zooming costs!
DVA has chosen to cut payments from the VIP program only for a major, annual housecleaning. Better than narrowing eligibility or capping client numbers.
No nation has treated those who served in its wars more generously than Canada – Grit government, or Tory!

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, March 05, 1990
ID: 12754093
TAG: 199003050233
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

PEPIN’S PLAN FOR MEECH PEACE

Few of us have paid more for a place in the constitutional circle than Jean-Luc Pepin. He’s 63, early on a political scientist, for years a federal minister and today a “Friend of Meech Lake.”
In a period when he was out of the House and the cabinet, he chaired the anti-inflation review board (1975-77) and co-chaired with the late John Robarts the task force on Canadian unity (1977-79).
Today Pepin lives in Ottawa, writes, teaches, and muses over Pierre Trudeau’s constitutional legacies. Such musings are very topical.
Remember that Pepin was an early “original” in advocating much adjustment in the relationship between Quebec, the other provinces and the federal government. Before Trudeau, Jean Marchand and Gerard Pelletier joined Lester Pearson’s caucus in 1965, the Liberal theme was wrapped in the phrase “co-operative federalism.”
In mid-1968, with Trudeau the PM in place of Pearson, I asked Pepin, then minister of Industry, trade and commerce, why we no longer got his speeches and briefs on co-operative federalism. He shrugged. They were all stuffed in a bottom drawer; their themes were not in line with the more exact, more cerebral federalism espoused by his new leader.
Although Trudeau did turn to Pepin as a co-chair for the “unity” task force, he never used him on anything constitutional while he was in his cabinet. Yet Pepin was clearly far more constitutionally informed in either an academic or intellectual sense than Jean Chretien or John Turner whom Trudeau did use, although mostly as high-level messengers. Also Trudeau ignored the main ideas of Pepin-Robarts because their emphasis on biculturalism contradicted his distaste for nationalism of either a French or English Canadian brand.
Pepin, with a twinkle, suggests that Brian Mulroney should push Trudeau forward as Canada’s contribution to Mikhail Gorbachev and the USSR as a “pro tem” adviser on federalism. The Soviet republics and satellites are in deep need of constitutional change and inventiveness. Pepin is serious when he says he thinks Trudeau would accept such a global duty.
It’s Pepin’s advice to Quebec Premier Robert Bourassa, however, which fascinates and could be very useful.
This is not a time, he says, for another task force like Pepin-Robarts or another Don Macdonald exercise. It may not even be a good time for more constitutional negotiations between first ministers if Meech collapses. At present, we’re “playing chicken” with each other, taunting and daring. We’re ignoring how far Canada has come, how well it’s adapted federalism to practical ways to make it work, often while ignoring literal aspects in the paper Constitution. That is, our practices drift into the shape of conventions. Conventions are just accepted practices, not always literally constitutional.
Pepin recalls the opinion of the Supreme Court of Canada on Trudeau’s moves to repatriate the Constitution. Yes, it was legal. But the way he was going about it – relatively unilaterally – contradicted what had become constitutional conventions.
And so Pepin would have Bourassa call a press conference in June to tell Mulroney, the other premiers, and the rest of us that:
1) Quebec accepts the Meech accord – fully and unilaterally.
2) Since it cannot have the accord as a constitutional law document it will take it as a set of conventions – i.e., as practices and attitudes which Quebec accepts as essential because they work or will work. Such as:
Unanimity of the provinces on constitutional practices not being required;
Quebec being consulted on the choice of three of the Supreme Court of Canada justices;
Provinces being able to opt out of shared-cost programs and receiving compensation;
The setting of levels of immigrants and programming for their integration.
3) Quebec asks Ottawa, Toronto, and Victoria, even Edmonton, Regina, and Halifax to do the same – i.e., to use and respect the conventions or practices implicit in Meech.
4) Quebec announces its friendly commiseration for those premiers and provinces which don’t want the Meech Lake accord, and points out that they do not have to follow practices which Quebec accepts, such as forwarding a list of possible senators to Ottawa or agreeing to partake in discussions leading to more aboriginal rights in conventional practices.
Such a declaration portrays a Quebec that is not sulking, not blocking change sought by other provinces or some groups in the country.
As Pepin speaks, he sparkles:
“Naturally, Bourassa would declare himself a life-long federalist. Mulroney would smile approval. Chretien would convert. Trudeau would have a faint spell, then rage. (Frank) McKenna would say I’ve stolen his plan. The Soviets, the Yugoslavs and the Germans will send delegates to see how we make federalism work.
“Quebecers would smile. They’d mastered slights by walking around them. They would be showing how to keep a country going, not bogging down in the swamp of mistrust.”
Pepin’s plan is for a pre-emptive strike by Quebec. Bourassa would be lining up in practices behind him the provinces with three-quarters of the Canadians. Devilish it is; but not foolish.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, March 04, 1990
ID: 12753973
TAG: 199003040267
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C3
COLUMN: In Ottawa
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

A GOOD SOLDIER AND A GOOD MAN

Ten days ago Jim Roberts, a hero of mine, died. His trouble was Alzheimer’s, so the whole cloth of Jim Roberts had faded in the last few years.
He was 83, so he had a long run, capped by an excellent autobiography (The Canadian Summer, U of T Press, 1981). His occupations (in sequence) were as salesman, fighting soldier, corporate executive, federal deputy-minister, mandarin and ambassador.
Aging makes one aware of obituaries in a way which is strange to youth. For example, each month Legion magazine runs a list of deceased members. The list’s been lengthening, past three to four or more pages. Often now I spot a name from my old regiment (the 12th Manitoba Dragoons). Those alive of the million Canadians who served in World War II are at least in their 60s; the median age is 70.
As a columnist in Legion I’m more aware than most about who was where and doing what in the war. A score of times a year I could reminisce from first hand about some man in the passed-away parade, in particular of the leaders. None of the latter stands better than Jim Roberts as an archetype for the values and practices which made soldiering for most Canadians in the war a genuinely Canadian experience.
By “Canadian” I mean something unique, not merely not British or not American even though few of us could articulate such distinctiveness well when we were in the Allied horde in Europe from D-Day to May, 1945.
Roberts always knew the men he commanded were, like him, volunteers in “for the duration,” not professional soldiers. And he had a theory about the discipline and role of command for an army of volunteers. It was more practised than spelled out. Jim came to our regiment before we went to France in the wake of a boy colonel, a regimentarian who had cleared away some deadwood officers but shredded regimental confidence and self-identity. Roberts was such a contrast – genial, friendly, curious. He got to our names and skills and traits. He never talked brimstone: Do this or else! He insisted all of us should know what was on, what was planned. If he preached anything it was the enjoyment to be had from pulling together, not fears of punishment. His decency and fairness reverberated around our regiment. Enthusiasm and pride rose. We got along, in six months going from a rather sad lot to an enthusiastic one.
As I was at the bottom level and cynical of our hierarchy, I saw and was amazed at the transition. By mid-August in France when our regiment shared the lead in the burst from Normandy to the Seine, and then in the rush from the Somme to Dunkirk and Ostend we were coherent and competent, as a unit or in our squadron parts. All this was set within the frame of a benign leadership by a man we all trusted.
Beyond his niceness we knew Roberts was shrewd, resourceful, and never given to throwing us away, in glory-seeking or stupidities. Eventually we paid for Roberts’ talent. As we bogged down in the muddy battles to open Antwerp port, Roberts was promoted away from us to command an infantry brigade, where he was to do as well as he had with us.
When word came to us on an October day in ’44 that Col. Roberts was gone from us there were some quiet tears. Among those of us still around there were similar regrets last week. He was my model of the good citizen and plain Canadian.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, March 02, 1990
ID: 12088543
TAG: 199003020253
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

SAY GOODBYE TO QUEBEC

In this, the second of two parts, columnist Fisher poses some tough questions on Quebec and then answers himself with some equally tough replies.
Question: Doesn’t your last reply show you think Quebec’s separation from Canada is inevitable? And, Fisher, you seem regretful this cannot be blocked by force?
Answer: No. Not regretful. No, not necessarily a full separation, although surely another working arrangement than today’s. To mention force is not an option is a useful reminder to bitter anglos that when a clear majority of Quebecers show they want to leave the federation they can. Not, however, without heavy, hard negotiations on the terms of separation or the nature of the new sovereignty.
Q. Surely it’s too soon to apprehend separation or that something near it, though lesser, is inevitable?
A. Why too soon? The Meech accord is a compromise that most Canadians outside Quebec do not want. This contrast between what’s “out there” and what the 10 premiers and the prime minister agreed upon three years ago has been rising like strong yeast in dough. We can read the rising impatience of anglo Canadians with Quebec and its “demands.” Who hasn’t noted the broadening of an attitude to let Quebec go? Often it’s hand in hand with the idea the rest of Canada will be as well or better off without Quebec. Patience with Quebec is very low. And too many think Bourassa is bluffing.
Q. Why be so sure he isn’t bluffing?
A. Bourassa is almost as careful a politician as the late Mackenzie King. One should remember he was once flung from power and seen as a failed pettifogger, derided by Pierre Trudeau and the federal Liberals, dismissed by the PQ as a weakling. He’s proven canny. He came back from oblivion. It’s clear (at least to me) that Bourassa knows he cannot sit still on the present Constitution. Further, he doesn’t dare to mark time through the rest of his mandate. What’s the alternative? He knows his people are far more confident of their capacities than they were when he first came to power 20 years ago.
Q. You suggest Bourassa wants to lead Quebec out, or to something giving Quebec much more distinctiveness than is provided by the Meech accord?
A. Oh, I believe that Bourassa, his party and the majority of Quebecers would accept Meech and carry along, gradually working out within the constitutional arrangements it provides the kind of Quebec alongside Canada which suits best both Quebecois’ chances of cultural survival and good economic shares within the North American market. But Bourassa cannot afford to wait past the collapse of the Meech accord for more dickering on a new arrangement. Mulroney’s right in saying Bourassa’s not bluffing.
Q. But how will we know for sure?
A. Not until it’s too late. Premiers Clyde Wells and Gary Filmon think he’s bluffing, maybe Frank McKenna does too. There’s an irony here which intrigues me. That premiers whose provinces’ population is about one-eighth the whole are killing the accord. Granted, what they’re doing is approved of – in a fuzzy sort of way – by far more than one-eighth of Canadians.
Q. Shouldn’t Mulroney be blamed for getting us into this?
A. No more than Trudeau for leaving an unfinished constitution in 1981, with Quebec unsigned. Neither Mulroney’s handy majority in the House nor the support there is for Meech in the other federal caucuses nor the backing of seven premiers is of much use now. I believe Bourassa took a significant step beyond Meech at his party’s congress last week.
Q. You mean the remarks about a new super-structure or a “supra-national” arrangement?
A. In small part, but really it’s the study plan. Getting to a new arrangement will be a negotiating nightmare. Think of matters such as pensions, boundaries, customs arrangements, splitting the federal debt, the management and usage of national facilities such as the St. Lawrence. Much of such stuff was discussed 10 years ago in the PQ’s long memoir on sovereignty association. I assume that paper will be a prime item in the opening files of the committee Bourassa launched a week ago to examine the program for Quebec beyond the lapsing of the Meech accord.
Q. Let’s use a Barbara Frum question. How do you feel about Quebec leaving Canada?
A. Deep regrets. The image, the reach if you want, of Canada in my mind since I was a child, is vividly “sea to sea” with Quebec fully there: The geography, the river, Montreal, the people, the Canadiens!
Q. And yet you’re talking as though it’s almost over, as though they’re gone.
A. It’s likely the conversion of the state of Canada as it is to being “over,” with Quebec either totally outside or in a position akin to a common market partner, will take over a decade. It’s not a deal to be done in a year or two. We must foresee a period of bad feelings, of bloody-mindedness in the land. People on both sides will have to work up charity towards the other. The charity will come grudgingly.
Q. Isn’t this madness? Won’t it set us back in almost every way?
A. Yes. that’s why I hope to be wrong, even that Wells and Filmon and the Trudeau disciples are right: That Bourassa’s bluffing, that most Quebecois do not want to part, and won’t let it happen. But as I weigh it all, they’re on their way – out!

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, February 28, 1990
ID: 12087939
TAG: 199002280251
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THE QUEBEC QUESTION

Questions and answers are the shortest way into the jumble of feelings and the long past a lot of us share on the matter of Quebec in Canada or on any reshaping of that relationship to one of Quebec and Canada.
Q. First, Fisher, be personal. Are you surprised that the Meech Lake accord seems doomed or that the reigning party in Quebec is already focusing on a different arrangement beyond the doom?
A. No. Ever since Jean Lesage became premier in 1960 and sounded the theme of “masters in our own house” either a substantially different or unique constitutional relationship between Quebec and the rest of Canada has been coming. And severance or secession has been a possibility.
Q. Are you saying Meech is but an incident along a trend-line?
A. Exactly. It’s merely a negotiated compromise. It’s failing because too many in English Canada cannot accept the distinctiveness which Quebec now insists upon. Perhaps the tragedy in the anglo reaction is simply that they cannot comprehend the awareness of the Quebecois to the developing demographics.
Q. What do you mean “demographics”?
A. Vital statistics! Births, deaths, fertility rates, migration, language “transfer,” language loss.
Q. That’s rather inscrutable. If it means what I take it to mean, shouldn’t it mean less rather than more pressure from Quebec?
A. No. No. It hypes urgency. It means a quite homogenous people uses its political power while they still have it to fortify their base, protect their distinctiveness. The Quebecois see the brutality in the data. Six million plus of them within an economic and socio-cultural community of 275 million. But most of them live together. They know theirs is the lowest birth rate in Canada. Their population share, especially in French “spoken at home” has slid below the quarter mark in Canada. Beyond is a world of languages where English becomes ever more the global imperative, French less and less. To paraphrase a famous couplet from John Donne:
And at their backs they always hear
Time’s winged chariot hurrying near.
Q. Aren’t you getting too far from Meech Lake? Surely it isn’t inevitably doomed?
A. I think it is. Politicians can respond creatively in a crisis but Meech itself was a very creative answer. Unfortunately, it entered jeopardy from what was almost an electoral fluke. Sharon Carstairs, leading the Manitoba Liberals, zoomed electorally from near zero to dictating how a minority Tory government could survive – by abandoning Meech as it had been signed. She rose spectacularly. She assaulted the Meech deal and the departed premier, Howard Pawley of the NDP who had signed it. Today her heroic status has faded but it lasted long enough for her views of Meech – very Trudeaucratic views – to make both Manitoba’s PC minority government and its supporting NDP forsake the accord and its approval by their federal counterparts.
Q. You hang Meech’s demise on Carstairs and Manitoba?
A. Only in staying the approval process long enough for all the doubts and animosities brushed past by the pact and its signers to be let loose. Manitoba alone hasn’t queered Meech, not even Manitoba plus New Brunswick under Frank McKenna. No, Premier Clyde Wells of Newfoundland has finished off Meech as it was. He’s demanding and belligerent with all the assurance of Pierre Trudeau. He’s constitutionally righteous.
Q. Surely Wells, above all premiers, has to want a strong central government operating in Ottawa. Aren’t you unfair to lay so much on him?
A. No. He is, and will continue as, the unpassable one. Remember that premiers Filmon and McKenna talk addenda or a “parallel” accord. Their resistance and suggestions sparked dissent in all three federal parties. Trudeau’s criticisms and nostalgia for him among Liberals outside Quebec and among anglophone Liberals within it also contributed to putting Meech in doubt. As example, see it in Jean Chretien, the favorite in the Liberal leadership race. And antagonism to Meech has been sustained by an argumentative cadre within the academe beyond Quebec that believes in Trudeau’s imperative of Quebec as just “a province like the others.”
Q. Again, on the question of fairness, is it fair for Robert Bourassa to threaten Canada beyond Quebec as he did last weekend by talking about a “new superstructure” for Canada? Isn’t that just “sovereignty association” again, as advanced by the late Rene Levesque and Claude Morin a dozen years ago and rejected in the 1980 referendum?
A. Firstly, “fairness” is irrelevant. Ever since Mike Pearson and Jean Luc Pepin floated co-operative federalism in the mid-’60s, phrases like “special status” and “associate status” became serious topics for federal and provincial politics, there have been Quebecers who openly advocated new relationships, even to secession. We had no debate like the Americans had in the mid-19th century on the inviolateness of the union. It’s clear that if and when Quebecers decide by ballot to take themselves and their provincial territory out of the federation they may. As the PQ emerged as a political force in the 1970s it seemed silly to consider force to keep our union together. Today as we cheer the dissolution of the Russian federation, it is ridiculous.
(Friday: More questions and answers)

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, February 26, 1990
ID: 12087432
TAG: 199002260216
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THE MEDIA’S MASTER

Ah the neat weekend of Brian Mulroney, chuckling about his press conference on Friday.
It was the first time since early ’87 that he’s faced the members of the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery Association. About 110 of some 370 members of the gallery had him for almost an hour and some 15 of them got in questions or assertions. Figuratively speaking, he skated away. Roughly half his romp was done in French; understandably it’s the language most useful to him in press conferences in Ottawa.
He could hardly help but have a good skate across what proved to be very smooth, thick ice. The current press gallery is not revelling in any golden age, perhaps because about a quarter of its membership changes each year.
More than half the questions (and several supplementaries) were really the same question: About Quebec and its place in Canada, with the Meech accord as the suitcase for the dialogues. This happens to be Mulroney’s best alley. How he loves to bowl nobly along about Quebec as a crucial element in Canada. He genuflects to both the imperative and the rightness of bilingualism and the sacredness of minority rights.
About a quarter of the questions were largely on why his government is so unpopular. Again, this allows him the role as a humble, patient leader, one who grants with little prompting that both faults and responsibility must be put on his shoulders. Nevertheless . . . however . . . and notwithstanding Gallup polls, there are three years to an election and he has learned from experience that one cannot trust the finality of low standing in the polls. (Here his voice goes more profoundly bass than ever.)
Nothing was raised by the tigers of any account about the budget presented last Tuesday, high interest rates and John Crow, the rising unemployment, the rising inflation rate, our forces in Western Europe, South Africa, even about the GST which everyone alleges is the centrefold in the present book of Mulroney’s unpopularity.
The two sharpest questions were specific. The first on why Stan Waters, Alberta’s choice for the Senate, has not been appointed; the second on how he explains the setback to the B.C. salmon and herring fisheries from the application of the free trade agreement?
The PM was quite informative on the first, not ruling out a chance he might fill all 11 Senate vacancies without waiting to see if Meech is won or lost. He was devious and circumlocutory on the second, finding it distasteful to concede that on this particular negotiation Canada had done badly.
For more than two years I’ve overheard youngish tigers of the gallery running on about Mulroney’s deviousness or cowardice in refusing to return to a regular schedule of press conferences. In particular, those who are fiercely sure they are the genuine article (i.e., “investigative” reporters) have made me tremble for Mulroney’s safety, if or when he chose to face the gallery. In the event, he cruised just as well as Pierre Trudeau ever did during the several years he was in the pit of unpopularity in the later ’70s. Although both use longish answers to take the mickey out of the gang, their stock stances are very different, the one affable and obliging, the other disdainful and discursive.
Mulroney’s recent round of televised interviews at the year’s end, most of them running for at least a half-hour, are still fresh enough in our memories to recall that none of the questioners really ruptured his savoir faire, and some encounters were most bland. For example, with the CBC’s star turn, Mansbridge-Halton, the PM skated along like he did Friday.
Of course, we might not be so struck by the relative blah of the journalists in handling Mulroney in the studio or in press conference if we didn’t witness several days in any parliamentary week the oral mauling he takes from the opposition.
Most of this rough stuff comes in blatant assertions of incompetence, cupidity, and deceit rather than in pointed queries. The gallery on Friday, either as an assemblage or as individual questioners, was not impolite and certainly not witty. Nor was it either adulatory or openly contemptuous. Perhaps the best that could be said for the press gallery performance as a whole was that it reiterated the long familiar theme of “the two nations” with almost as much earnestness and hopefulness (on keeping Canada going) as the prime minister displayed. In fact, one columnist, William Johnson of the Gazette, figuratively pre-empted Mulroney in the nobility of his concern for language rights. His loftiness brought from the PM the revelation that if he could have his way, which he conceded he cannot, Canada would have “integral bilingualism” from coast to coast, from the border to the pole.
My hunch is that there’s not very much to be gained or lost for anyone – the PM, the media, or public enlightenment – in having him meet regularly the assembled gallery. About all anyone learned from Friday is inside stuff that doesn’t matter a whit – that there’s neither a widespread interrogative talent nor the capacity to co-ordinate questioning and follow up each other among Ottawa journalists.
For myself, I could do with less rather than more public Mulroney. We’re too focused on, first, the prime minister, then on the minister of finance. We don’t interrogate enough the other ministers or the leaders of the opposition parties.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, February 25, 1990
ID: 12087161
TAG: 199002250223
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C3
COLUMN: In Ottawa
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

PM SENDS A SIGNAL TO THE OPPOSITION

There’s common sense and a conservative bent in last Friday’s cabinet shifts. Most of the shifts seem shrewd, although the most significant one by far – putting Harvie Andre in to run the House – is dangerous. Andre’s ultra-aggressive, a rough sandpaper guy who has only scorn for the liberally minded.
There were only two ministerial additions, both francophones. Marcel Danis, an able, unobtrusive Deputy Speaker, comes in to handle sport and youth, raising Quebec’s share in the 39-member ministry to 13. He’ll also be a guide and halter for Andre’s bumptiousness vis-a-vis the opposition.
Bernard Valcourt of New Brunswick returns from exile to take up fisheries. A snap judgment is that he has to do much better with its restive, critical constituency than the longtime incumbent, Tom Siddon. Valcourt, and his most recent fellow resignee, Jean Charest, are the two apples of the prime minister’s eye.
Siddon goes to the cabinet sink-hole, Indian and northern affairs. This shift, taken with the cap put on most of the department’s spending programs, indicates Brian Mulroney has seen at last that blowing ever more money and much sweet stroking by a minister on the natives is bootless partisan politics.
The provinces now have this representation in cabinet: Quebec 13; Ontario 12; B.C. 4; Alberta 3; Saskatchewan 1; Manitoba 2; New Brunswick 2; Nova Scotia 1; and Newfoundland 1.
Put in other groupings: Western Canada has 10 ministers (the Prairies 6); Central Canada 25; and the Atlantic provinces 4.
Let’s turn to the common sense in the shifts.
Kim Campbell, the new justice minister, is a match for Barbara McDougall in confidence, toughness, and energy. She has a sharp, mental edge which she hoods better than Mcdougall does. In terms of intellect with a strong academic base, Campbell’s only match in the cabinet is Lucien Bouchard. I find her as impressive as any woman MP I’ve observed, including the late Judy LaMarsh and the aforesaid McDougall.
Benoit Bouchard is not at all demeaned by the move to industry, science and technology from transport, although Doug Lewis may be somewhat discouraged at exchanging justice and the House leadership for transport. His new portfolio may fit Bouchard and his capacities better. Transport is much bigger outside of Quebec than in it, whereas Montreal is coming on hard in science and technology.
The sunshine of the cabinet, Mary Collins, takes up the “women’s thing” from McDougall, who didn’t like it and was often very near to erupting scorn over the feminist lobbies. Mary’s no more a feminist than Barbara but she can be much softer.
Pierre Cadieux escapes the natives for the solicitor general’s role, replacing Pierre Blais who goes to the empty slot of consumer and corporate affairs. Cadieux is far more adroit in English than Blais. (Out of 10 I’d rate his ministerial performance as an 8). Blais still hasn’t proved much to anyone yet, plus or minus, in the House, in the caucus, or in his department.
Shirley Martin, switched from second line in transport to second line in Indian affairs, is a victim of too many ministers from Metro despite her solid work. (Some mandarins in transport told me she had a better grasp of its affairs than Bouchard.)
The shifts for Bill Winegard and Tom Hockin (small business, and tourism) are inconsequential.
To reiterate, none of the changes affront common sense but the role given Andre suggests that the long years Mulroney has spent trying to be cordial with the opposition in the House are done. If he wants the GST this year he must now tackle the power of Allan MacEachen and his control of the Senate.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, February 23, 1990
ID: 12086714
TAG: 199002230249
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING

It’s clear as budget week closes that Michael Wilson’s sixth budget is getting by . . . in the short-run! How could one tell? By the third day the most resonant lines of the opposition were about higher housekeeping charges for 1,500 or so DVA clients in hospitals and rest homes, not on Wilson’s callous treatment of the Ontario, B.C., and Alberta governments.
By the fall an international pumping of interest rates and/or a recessionary zoom in domestic unemployment may undo the minister of finance and force forward one of those “mini-budgets.” Meantime, it’s a moment to forego intense second-guessing of the budget and turn far afield to other men’s nuggets.
An example was in Dalton Camp’s Star column last weekend. It was the most forthcoming yet on what goes on in Brian Mulroney’s Leviathan (which Camp slipped out of last year). He wrote:
“Not since Mackenzie King have we had a prime minister whose speeches have been so resolutely forgettable. King, by design, seldom said anything memorable, with the possible exception of his `not a five cent piece for any Tory government’ speech which he probably regretted making. Brian Mulroney, who labors over his text more than many in his audiences might suspect, is like King – willing to speak but reluctant to say much. Both have admired statistics and, when these were not enough, partisanship filled the void.
“In this present Babbleonian Age, political rhetoric is largely ritual. Prime ministers do not need speechwriters to make them memorable but to keep them out of trouble.”
For more on leadership we turn to another of our wise men, Northrop Frye. This is from a discussion on PBS-TV last year between the famous literary critic and Bill Moyers.
Moyers: “Are you saying the president is the front man for a system that continues to operate irrespective of his leadership?”
Frye: “I’m not sure that the pyramid myth, the notion of the man at the top of society, really conforms to the realities of 20th-century life. There is a whole machinery that is bound to continue functioning, so that 95% of what any president can do is already prescribed for him – unless he’s a complete lunatic. For that reason, it doesn’t seem so profoundly significant who is in the position of leadership.”
Moyers: “What does that say about the role of the leader in the modern world?”
Frye: “It means that the leader has to be a teammate. The charismatic leader, to the extent that he is that, is a rather dangerous person if he starts taking himself seriously. I’m a little leery about the adulation bestowed on (Mikhail) Gorbachev. He has a very complex piece of machinery to try to operate. The historical process works itself out in ways that don’t really allow for the emergence of a specific leader. It’s only in the army that you have the specific leader because that’s the way the military hierarchy’s set up.”
Let me slip in here opinions from chats with two veteran Tories (who must go unnamed). They bear on Mulroney and leadership, and fit into the context set by Camp and Frye. The first spoke of Mike Wilson:
“About three months ago there was much gossip he was down and might be switched or even leave. In politics, more than in the media, he was being savaged. The boss and Maz got together. They’re now peas of the same pod. They decided they would go all the way with Mike. He’d earned it. So he was told without equivocation he had and would have the support of the whole team.”
The second, a parliamentary secretary and a rather old-fashioned small “c” conservative, was responding to persistent chafing on why Wilson’s cuts were not really tough, far from as severe as anticipated. He said:
“Sure, I wanted more. We need more. But you’re forgetting there’s much more in the running of the government than Brian and Mike. The officials! They’re masters at guarding their base. Even after 5 1/2 years it’s hard to trim their turf much.”
Which brings me to another comment about the Ottawa mandarins from a renegade one, Gerald Cameron, now a Toronto businessman. In the Feb. 5 Globe, Cameron wrote:
“Opposition politicians claim that substituting their parties for the one in power will somehow result in a more effective and efficient government. Political cynics contend that government in general are inherently incapable of productive, goal-directed performance.
“Neither group examines the management of government operations, and considers how improving it will lead to more cost-effective services.
“In the `capital punishment’ phase of my career as a federal personnel administrator in Ottawa, I witnessed every conceivable method of mismanaging people, money, time and programs. And I learned that the major obstacle to effectiveness and efficiency in government is horrendously poor management.
“This, of course, is not the perception in Ottawa. There, the mandarins walk with a stoop caused by constant mutual back-patting about how well they perform.”
And Cameron goes on to an almost incredible statistic: Not one of the 4,537 public servants listed in the management category (most of whom make over $85,000 a year) was fired for incompetence or any other reason.” Yes, there’s so much more to Fat City than the apparent leaders.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, February 21, 1990
ID: 12086200
TAG: 199002210249
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

WILSON WIELDS A DULL KNIFE

Once again Michael Wilson’s had us on; in particular those of us who report or comment on federal politics.
Maybe it’s because the minister of finance, here with his sixth budget, is so earnest in manner, so square, so prosaic in word and action. Each year we assume he means it with pre-budget talk of “toughness” and sticking to “my consistent and comprehensive plan.”
But from his second budget on Wilson has not delivered the really tough budget. Remember, the PM backed off the tough part of the first budget (de-indexing of some social benefits).
What about that “comprehensive plan” which Wilson declared in effect in the fall of 1984 and repeats regularly? A prime purpose of it was to master high deficits and the net debt, yet both keep stretching, especially the debt ($200 billion in 1984; $450 billion in 1995).
Nowhere in Wilson’s speech or in the paper as a whole was there a paragraph about the dollar level of the net debt, now or ahead. Instead, we got the debt expressed in percentage of annual revenue required to cover the interest charges (35% now; 26% in four years) or as a percentage of GNP.
Only in a table could you see projections that in 1991 the net debt will be $407 billion and in 1995, $452 billion.
The essentials of the 1990 budget can be gathered from these three snips, lifted from the various places in the text of Wilson’s budget.
“There will be no new taxes in this budget.”
“Our two year expenditure control plan will have a major impact on program spending . . . These measures result in a saving of $2.8 billion in 1990-91 and $3.0 billion in 1991-92.”
“Our ancestors built this country against formidable odds. Canadians have stuck together through trying periods by re- affirming, time and again, their ability to build on the rich diversity of the nation with realism, determination, foresight and understanding,
Now the gist of this budget is in the first two snips. I include the third because it is archetypal Wilson-Mulroney: A capacity to smother a few plain matters in bull. I find this tiresome and offensive.
The core of what Wilson had to say in the speech could have been given in 10 minutes. It went to 45 through the gush of platitudes and exhortation. It’s past time for the prime minister and his colleagues to realize a substantial cause of their public unpopularity is phoney gloss and moral hyperbole.
In the budget “lock-up” of journalists, the leading speculations after the paper had been digested were:
a) Will the markets think this is tough enough?
b) Aren’t the interest rate projections too rosy?
c) Will the provinces hang together in reacting against the “capping” and the “freezing” of federal shares in several programs with the provinces?
d) Petro-Canada as a private outfit was badly taken by the public in 1979; will it sail through smoothly this time?
e) Is the pending GST the best explanation for the modesty of proposals in the budget?
The wisdom running from the speculations was this:
a) The market will only be mildly taken with the cuts, and shortly decide they are too small.
b) The interest rate projections will increase the reigning fixation with the bank rate and John Crow.
c) The provinces won’t hang together well because Ontario is the most gored.
d) PetroCan should make it handily into the private sector.
e) Yes, the GST remains a large difficulty for Wilson-Mulroney and put caution into the program-cutters in the cabinet.
The guts of the budget is in its expenditure control plan. It has five parts: Programs capped to 5% growth a year for two years; programs frozen for two years; programs reduced; programs/projects eliminated; and management measures (such as tightening terms and repayments with business enterprises).
The main programs “capped” are: Science and technology grants and contributions; the Indian and Inuit programs (now near $3 billion); defence programs; and foreign aid. The Canada Assistance Plan caps will only affect federal shares going to Ontario, B.C., and Alberta.
The programs whose federal spending is “frozen” are: The established programs’ financing – i.e., the sharing of costs with the provinces for health and post-secondary education, etc.; the public utilities income transfer tax (a rather minor payback to the provinces); the CBC capital budget; Telefilm Canada; the Export Development Corporation; Marine Atlantic (ferry services); and legal aid cost-sharing agreements with the provinces.
Programs/projects killed are: Canadian exploration incentives (aid to oil and gas outfits); OSLO (an oil sands project in Alberta); and the Polar 8 icebreaker (to have been built in British Columbia.)
It takes no wizardry to see that the chief grievors will be provincial premiers and their treasurers, especially of Ontario, B.C., and Alberta.
To close, mixing metaphors, there is far more of “marking time” and whistling at the edge of a graveyard (recession!) than we conned ourselves into expecting, at least here in Fat City.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, February 19, 1990
ID: 12085718
TAG: 199002190208
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

TORIES ONLY TALK TOUGH

Hindsight underlines the pathos in Michael Wilson’s budget tomorrow. In late ’84 when he became finance minister, he was sure he could manage the economy, wrestle down deficits and ease the debt load.
The economy seen as a whole has been good, tending to fair, but high deficits and higher debts are more intractable than in 1984. More revenue from tax jumps went on more programs. Now scope for more tax revenue is slight and psychologically we’re near a recession.
In short, the government frittered away five years by a blend of arrogance about their own competence and timidity about cutting away programs. And there was an electoral year with cheery whistling and much deceit. Now the world of finance and credit is falling in on Wilson and Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and they’ve nowhere to go. An election is too far away for the consolation of being chucked out.
Will timidity turn to resolution? Might the budget make huge cuts – say $4-$5 billion?
Little in six years of Wilson-Mulroney indicates the resolute toughness or a readiness to be a frugal model for us. That’s a damning but earned judgment.
I doubt the odds bookmakers are now giving on the Liberal leadership race. A remarkable shift has taken place since the New Year. Many now see a toss-up between Jean Chretien and Paul Martin whereas eight weeks ago Chretien was by far the favorite. Why the shift? These seem to be the factors:
Chretien has shown nothing new in content or style. Martin has shown spunk, combativeness and a capacity to understand and priorize issues, and he’s new.
The Martin organization is as well staffed and funded as Chretien’s and is not being wiped out in the competition for riding delegates.
Despite Clifford Lincoln’s early eclipse, the other candidates promise more than enough votes to stop a first ballot win by Chretien.
Sheila Copps is proving steadier and more impressive than expected and fit better in Martin’s camp than Chretien’s.
The retiring leader, John Turner, is likely to get an excellent reception, tinged with guilt from the convention, and in person and in what he has fought for he stands as a rebuke to Chretien.
A large chunk of the current Grit caucus has not committed to Chretien despite much canvassing on his behalf.
Bluntly put, in general the caucus thinks Chretien may win, is even likely to win. But it won’t be to wild enthusiasm. This may be because they’re beginning to believe they can smash Mulroney and the Tories next time with or without Chretien.
You may have heard that MPs of all parties have rallied ’round their wagon train over the searches and allegations by the Mounties. House administrators have chivvied MPs and, more seriously, so have people of the chief electoral office. All this has meant bad press. Beyond anger and a sense of persecution, MPs are desperate to show they’re within an honest regime which gives good returns for money spent.
So a House committee is reviewing the Parliament of Canada Act and “the powers, duties and obligations” of MPs in relation to the Board of Internal Economy (their own management committee).
At the heart of the MPs’ dilemma is what is right or proper for their staff and the House services to do for or with them. Here’s the nub, put in plain words by an NDP MP, Terry Murphy at a recent committee hearing. He said this on the Parliament of Canada Act:
“I am convinced that one of the problems both the Speaker and the RCMP face is that by not mentioning partisan activities in the act, by pretending they do not exist for three-quarters of the manual that we do write, we create our own problems . . . I think if we were clearer on what is allowable and what is expected of members . . . as part of their parliamentary duties we would resolve some of the problems both the RCMP and the Speaker face . . . if there is understanding and acceptance of political work being done by MPs and their staff.”
By “political work” Murphy meant overtly partisan activities. He and another New Democrat, Iain Angus, were frank that most work on the Hill or in the riding by an MP or his or her staff is to advance or protect the MP and his party. It’s silly to pretend it isn’t central to an MP’s work.
To my surprise, the work of the committee of eight, chaired by Deputy Speaker Marcel Danis, is thorough and impressive. Don Blenkarn has told me about the high-profile finance committee which he chairs and he figures he’s in luck if as many as three MPs on the committee dig in and master a topic. Danis seems to have seven stalwarts who are genuinely working over causes and effects, problems and possible solutions.
The public in general is critical and most cynical about MPs. They believe MPs loll in comfort in a nest of free services and perquisites such as a personal staff, air tickets, phone rights, plush office suites and the latest hi-tech equipment. The people know about the generous pay and the munificent pensions for MPs.
It’s too early to predict how the committee would resolve the messiness with the RCMP and the larger unpopularity, but failure won’t be from lack of application.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, February 18, 1990
ID: 12085481
TAG: 199002180256
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: C6
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

REMEMBERING THE FLAG FLAP

The flag’s 25th anniversary has made our politicians lyrical and no one else has been sour. Such sweetness prompts platitudes from me on how soon we forgive – and forget.
I’ve gone back to Hansard and “flag” files for 1964 to find how tense Canada was for half a year over the flag. The furor had slipped my memory although I was an NDP MP in the debate and helped force its ending. I’d forgotten I was to have been the last to speak before the last vote on Dec. 15, 1964, but Speaker Alan MacNaughton refused to “see” me or John Diefenbaker. Both of us had risen to speak when Real Caouette of the Social Credit sat down nine minutes before closure. I was next on the Speaker’s list. Pearson rose seconds after we had. When MacNaughton preferred him, a tumult arose.
The jammed galleries were almost as noisy as the MPs. It was a most emotional conclusion.
This crisis had built from an address by the PM to a Legion convention in the spring. Pearson said (to boos) that he was about to move in Parliament for a distinctive Canadian flag. He did, and six wild months later final approval was forced in the House by closure, ending 33 days of filibuster led by Diefenbaker and backed by most, not all, Tories.
Remember, there was a minority House in 1964 – Liberals 129; PCs 95; NDP 17; Social Credit 24. Pearson’s power swung on backing by Social Credit, most of whose MPs were from Quebec where sentiment was strong against “the acting flag,” the Red Ensign. So there was bravery and political risk in Pearson’s move.
The excitement and bad feelings came from more than the choice between Pearson’s flag and the Red Ensign, under which, as the Legion leaders said, so many Canadians had fought and died.
No other issue ever brought me so much mail as an MP. A lot was from advocates of particular designs. We had a national orgy of flag designing. So much so I thought to have fun with it. Early in the issue I put forth a flag whose emblem was a brant goose (in black and white). It was heading right, over a green band, below which ran a white stripe, then a blue wave. Above was a yellow band, then a blue stripe.
An editorial in the Peterborough Examiner spoofed me but neither I nor the editorial much amused readers. Eastern Ontario was Red Ensign heartland. Fisher, said the Examiner, wants “a big honker” as emblem because he thinks “the brant goose represents our whole geography and our national character. It is non-predatory, travels, minds its own business but fights like the devil when attacked.”
The editorial went on: “It also lays eggs, has splayed feet, cannot move in any direction other than the way its head is pointed, eats fresh-water fish, flies South for the winter, and generally flaps around in a typical Canadian fashion . . . Anything so closely resembling our national character in nature should be deported to Antarctica.”
The Examiner argued: “We need something like Lewis Carroll’s enigmatic Cheshire cat. In this way we could have a puzzling smile flying from every flagpole, without having to disclose what was behind it.”
My goose design and the Cheshire cat were too frivolous for many. My colleagues told me to shut up. My 14 Legion branches condemned me. The flag debate became mean and destructive.
After voting for the new flag I got a last spate of critical mail. This extract catches the tone. It was in a note from “A servant of the Queen” in Halifax.
“You and your colleagues have given us something distinctive all right. Nobody else would want it with its cruel Sassenach red, its Zombie-liver white. It will confuse aliens and set Canadians quarrelling among themselves until and unless a future government repeals it. Making the Union Jack a co-flag just panders to those who see the provinces are just 10 more shires of the old sod. When the good people of Canada, 95% living north of the 49th parallel, realize that red leaves, especially New England sugar maple leaves, are no more emblems of their country than banana trees, they will demand something better.”
They have not. Pearson was right. The Chief was wrong. So were those like me who thought the flag a matter for spoofing, not agonizing over.
The maple leaf flag was accepted almost on the instant. By Centennial it was the pin Canadian kids loved. Even in Quebec, although one sees as the white fleur-de-lys on blue as often as the red leaf on white, the latter is still popular, and Premier Robert Bourassa hasn’t yet forced it inside.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, February 16, 1990
ID: 12085001
TAG: 199002160230
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

SPENDING CUTS? START AT THE TOP

The plot is simple. Brian Mulroney and Michael Wilson have said the budget next week will be “tough.” And planned leaks have advised us there won’t be marked increases in taxation. (Given the GST, we understand why not.) Thus, the toughness has to come from cutting spending – not by raising revenues.
Where will the cuts be? Where should they be?
All our partisan politicians are far better as spenders than as guardians of the purse. Even now, as 34 cents of each federal dollar goes just to pay interest on the federal debt you would take from the demands and responses in Parliament that more, not less spending, is imperative.
This “spend” syndrome suggests:
– The cuts will be more showbiz than real.
– Even so, almost every cut will draw a rage of protest.
Yes, this is cynicism before the fact. But surely you share it, after billion-dollar deficits for 15 straight years.
However, let me forego cynicism for the rest of this piece. Let’s suggest the best strategy for Mulroney-Wilson. They must start at the top. If they don’t no one will believe they’re serious. Look, prime minister, look around you.
The cabinet consists of 39 ministries (currently with 37 ministers), far more than 26 million people with 10 provincial, two territorial, and thousands of local governments, bloated with expensive educational and social apparatus, would bear.
In 1937 Mackenzie King had 16 ministers. The portfolios were functionally related to the basics in governing a country: Finance; revenue; justice; defence; health; public works; post office; fisheries; mines; transport; agriculture; trade & commerce; labor; external affairs. The only “light” department was the secretary of state, which took care of citizenship and loose ends that could not be fitted elsewhere.
Today’s cabinet has a quarter-century’s accumulation of clutter. Some is in full-fledged departments, more comes from minor entities – ministries of state!
Some of the creations were a response to technological or economic changes: Communications; science and technology; consumer and corporate affairs; environment; employment; supply and services. Other creations were a response to politically popular notions: Regional economic expansion; Western economic diversification; Atlantic Canada opportunity; veterans affairs; Indian affairs; seniors; youth; sport; multiculturalism.
What do these creations have in common?
They do not serve the whole population of the country. They were put into place to serve a particular interest. The first three cater to regional interests; the remaining six cater to specific groups – the young, the old, sportsmen, vets, aborigines, and ethnics. While one minister is responsible for “the status of women,” no department’s yet been created for this specialty, nor for bilingualism (although neither is unlikely, given reigning notions).
Such federal responsiveness to the needs of special groups is not cheap.
The Indian and Inuit program is by far the most expensive: Departmentally, $2.3 billion this year; in all over $3 billion. There are insistent demands for more money, and broad agreement that the program is a failure.
Bilingualism is far less costly now. Some $250 million annually goes to the provinces for minority language education, another $46 million goes in grants to organizations, and $105 million to translation services. The watchdog, the commissioner of official languages, needs $12 million a year to bay at transgressors.
Multiculturalism is trying to catch up with bilingualism. This year $197 million of its $226 million is going towards “redress” for Japanese Canadians. The bulk of the rest, given to ethnics, is “to strengthen the solidarity of the Canadian people.” (Is this something money can buy?)
Canadian women, or at least their progressive, organized segment, received some 700 grants this year, totalling $11.3 million. Further, 46 employees of the federal status of women agency spend $3.6 million and 44 employees of yet another federal body, the Advisory Council on the Status of Women spent $3.4 million this year.
Piddly as its costs are we must not ignore the latest creation of the Mulroney government – the Canadian Centre for Management Development. It’s for the “betterment” of senior federal bureaucrats and the bill’s only $10 million.
Now let us go past the structure of the cabinet to the welter of commissions, commissioners and committees, most of them permanent, that cater to special needs or particular interests. A few examples are: The Canadian Human Rights Commission ($12 million annually); Information and Privacy Commissioners ($4 million); Security Intelligence Review Committee ($1.4 million); RCMP Public Complaints Commission ($3 million); and the Correctional investigator ($.7 million).
Arguably, each of these outfits is doing what elected MPs used to do or should have done. Even though MPs have surrendered their duties to these special agents and agencies, their own pay and the cost of their services have increased hugely even as they’ve sloughed off responsibility.
For Mulroney and Wilson to convince us they’re serious on cutting spending they must reduce the cabinet; cut parliamentary spending; cut – even phase out – agencies and funding for special interests.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, February 12, 1990
ID: 12083934
TAG: 199002120200
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

KEEP CALM MIDST HYSTERIA

Keep it low key. Stop shouting. The people of the Sault or Thunder Bay are no more cretinous or racist than the rest of us. Nor are Quebecers bigots because they guard the dikes around French.
Let’s not manufacture a crisis over an ancient issue which just burrs most of us peripherally.
My favorite comment on the latest “crisis” came on TV. Bill Cameron, a bit of a bullyboy, was chairing The Journal while Ms. Frum hared off to seen Nelson.
Topically, The Journal was on to Sault Ste. Marie, etc. and the rebuff for French developing in Ontario municipalities, so Cameron hooked into three open-line hosts – in Montreal for French and Toronto and Vancouver for English.
Each host was impressively glib and sensible as Cameron harried them on the scale of the fury beating on their ears. He was keener for news of passion and conflict than for explanations of the reactions to the Sault decision to be unilingual-English.
None of the hosts underplayed the currency or the seriousness of the subject but Cameron wanted more angst. So he stated a national crisis was upon us. Everything these men told him portrayed such a crisis.
And so he addressed Bill Good out in Vancouver. Surely this was a crisis. Good’s reply was wry and wise, maybe unintentionally. He put The Journal’s penchant for havoc in perspective. It certainly was “the crisis,” Good said, “this week.”
Television links us with the speed of light. Languages, in patterns and trends of usage, march slowly to shifts in birth-rates, fertility, mobility, and curricula; and, of course, to nurture or neglect by governments.
Our country came to be so as to bridge divisions of language and culture while protecting a territory and a conception of government (against the U.S.!) It was not created to end the divisions but to live with them, although, granted, there was some hope they would eventually disappear.
One element in our history back to the formalizing of British North America in the 1770s has been recurring dissension between a substantial minority and a goodly majority over language rights and usage.
We’ve had much of such dissension and the mollifying of it since the mid-1950s. Interestingly, this was just when network TV began to emerge, of course, in two separate languages.
It’s worth noting as another so-called crisis flowers that the CBC, the most significant and costly agency in communications, still operates and programs as two language solititudes 25 years after official bilingualism and biculturalism emerged.
What’s that say? Surely, that continuous interchange in two languages or much living and working in two languages seems impossible.
Almost every Canadian I have known has a bias on our continuing issue of bilingualism. My bias begins from my unilingualism, although the more I have had to do with French Canadians the more I like them and respect their confidence in themselves. My bias is neither for nor against. It is simply patience.
Looking back or around and projecting ahead, my imperative is cautionary. Don’t enact, wait and appreciate our comparative good fortune among the world’s countries.
Ever since Quebecers became restive, post-Duplessis, I’ve tried to digest what experts on demography and linguistics have to say that is useful for our two nations in one state. I complete this column with remarks by three of them. They sustain the cautions I advise, particularly to my unilingual counterparts.
English professor Richard Lederer wrote in Crazy English: “English is the most widely spoken language in the history of our planet, used in some way by at least one out of every seven human beings around the globe. Half the world’s books are written in English and the majority of international telephone calls are made in English. English is the language of over 60% of the world’s radio programs, many of them beamed, ironically by the Russians who know that to win friends and influence nations they are best off using English. More than 70% of international mail is written and addressed in English and 80% of all computer text is stored in English. English has acquired the largest vocabulary of all the world’s languages …”
The new Literary History of Canada (Vol. 4), appraised the work of Jean Laponce, a French Canadian linguist, who writes in both English and French: “In contrast to federal government policy, especially under Trudeau, which defined the coincidence of language and provincial borders as nation-threatening, Laponce asserts the needs of linguistic minorities for territorial security. The Swiss solution of territorial unilingualism is far more likely to reduce French-English tensions and Quebecois separatism, he argues, than are the official policies which have inspired the Canadian government since the early 1970s.”
“Will current demographic trends jeopardize Canada’s evolution?” Michel Bastarche tries to answer this question in a paper given a language conference a year ago in Ottawa. His insight is not optimistic for official bilingualism. The trends, he said, “will put an end to the idea of Quebec as the national homeland of the francophones and the driving force of bilingualism in Canada.”
So . . . take it easy!

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, February 11, 1990
ID: 12083680
TAG: 199002110247
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C3
COLUMN: In Ottawa
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

EXIT JOHN TURNER, SLIP-SLIDING AWAY

Who wants to launch a new career, albeit in a familiar profession, at the age of 61?
The question underlines the pathos of John Turner as he steps toward practising law (as he emphasized) in Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto. He’ll probably resign as MP for Vancouver Quadra around the time of the Liberal leadership convention in June.
Last week’s temporary transfer of leadership of the Opposition to Herb Gray, “the dean of the House,” was registered at a comforting session with reporters before it was fulfilled with gushy tributes in the Commons.
A few reporters were somewhat harder on Turner than his praising rivals and colleagues in the House.
A Quebec columnist wondered why Turned talked of “prudence” on issues because of his party’s leadership campaign when another ex-leader, Pierre Trudeau, was heading a serious drive against the Meech accord, which Turner approves and Jean Chretien does not. Turner refused to bite beyond indicating he had many chances ahead to speak to Liberals.
A young reporter resurrected the old formula from the Beehive Corn Syrup Hot Stove League interviews of Saturday nights long ago. Remember? (“What was your biggest thrill, Syl Apps, and your worst experience?”)
What was the best and the worst in John Turner’s time as leader? With a bit of prompting we heard how great it was to be a House of Commons man, how despite bad decisions like the timing of the election in 1984 Turner believes that on major matters like the trade agreement with the U.S., the GST and the Meech accord, history would show he was on the right side.
At several moments at the press conference, a stylish, relaxed Geills Turner interjected from the well of the little theatre, provoking laughter and enhancing the aura of niceness around the occasion. No one wanted to be taken as being cruel. No one asked the only failed leader of the Liberal party since Sir William Blake (1833-1912) how or why it went wrong.
Turner’s failures, compared to those of other leaders like Bob Stanfield and Ed Broadbent, are shocking. He seemed to have it all from the first day he arose in the House after reaching it from Montreal in the 1962 election. He was more the parliamentary performer, the well-liked colleague, from his advent to his first withdrawal in 1975 than any other Grit MP, including Pierre Trudeau. Even in exile Turner’s name was electric, his presence magical. Such a promising prime minister-in-waiting. There were his good looks, the vigorous body, the exceptional education, the associations as child and young man with the Who’s Who in Canada of the business, legal, and bureaucratic circles.
And Turner attained! He was adept as a major minister. He was adroit with the media. He had buddies in all parties and cronies galore in his own. He wrote well, for a politician. He could sketch legislative intentions magnificently and marshalled them through with ease.
And yet this man many of us thought the ablest federal politician of a generation was to be such a dud as party leader that some of us couldn’t fathom our misjudgment. Suddenly, inexplicably, Turner floundered when the ultimate burden of office settled over him.
The explanations of the failure have been many. To his credit, the failed hero has not been given to excuses or blaming others. One can’t believe it was the Bay Street years from 1975 and 1984, a sort of long sleep like Rip Van Winkle’s, from which Turner awoke to a country he didn’t understand or couldn’t reach.
At times political chat has put the blame on heavy drinking or too much interference by his wife or on concerted disloyalty by Liberals holding true to the values of his predecessor.
It’s time to stop wondering, to let the man slip away. At least he’s not leaving public life poor or in need of either alms or patronage.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, February 07, 1990
ID: 12082519
TAG: 199002070236
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

INEQUABLE EQUALITY

Those who manage enterprises regulated by the federal government may be forgiven blasphemies as they fill the forms each year in response to the latest federal fad of employment equity.
There are 374 such employers, each with at least 100 employees, most with many hundreds. Each outfit must complete six questionnaires, and each of these has three parts; in all 19 pages of legal format.
The employers must report on employment, hirings, and promotions by occupational categories. They must have a separate report on salaries and/or wages. All this must be done for: (a) full-time employees; (b) part-time employees; (c) temporary employees. Further, they must report separately under three categories: (1) aboriginal peoples; (2) persons with disabilities; (3) members of visible minorities. Of course, each figure must be broken down by sex. Altogether, there is a request for some 3,500 bits of data.
Is an employer likely to ignore these forms? Well, delinquents may be fined up to $50,000. Just one employer failed to report in the first two years of the regime.
This merciless data gathering is imposed by the Employment Equity Act of 1986. Its purpose is most noble. “ . . . to achieve equality in the work place and to correct the disadvantage in employment experienced by women, aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and persons who are, because of their race or color, in a visible minority in Canada.”
Such nobility did not spring from nowhere. Check the introduction to the second annual report on the operation of the Act. It says the law was “a direct response” to the Abella commission. In 1983 Judge Rosalie Abella was asked by Pierre Trudeau to examine discriminatory practices in the federal jurisdiction. Her report went to the new Mulroney government.
My next column on Friday will fix on Judge Abella. She’s had a pervasive influence. The report gives her full credit for the establishment of two further anti-discriminatory initiatives: The Federal Contractors Program and the Treasury Board’s Employment Equity Guidelines. It gives her partial credit (with Labor Canada) for that ministry’s equal pay program and the Multiculturalism Act (1988).
It was Flora MacDonald, then employment minister, who got the Abella report in 1984. She was not eager to endorse it and her first reaction was cool. Perhaps it was the inexorable force of national righteousness; perhaps it was the factor we might call “a big bang for a small buck.” For a ministry with a huge deficit, action on the Abella report didn’t commit large spending and it eased the pressure swelling from “progressive” lobbies of feminists and ethnics.
There were hesitations among the genuinely conservative elements in Brian Mulroney’s party. These were assuaged by fiddling with the terminology. Abella’s equality became equity in employment. Subtle? Of course not. “Equal” is not necessarily “equitable.” Or vice versa.
To make sure the conservatives saw the point, the government blurb about the Abella recommendations defined the limits of its own employment equity: It “does not impose quotas . . . and avoids complicated bureaucratic mechanisms.” Oh, one smiles at that last assurance, given the forms which followed.
In plain language the message was: No affirmative action; no quotas; no intrusive government.
How meaningful are the data extracted from the employers?
Let us imagine the patient clerks who staff the 374 “human resources” cells of the enterprises as they nit-pick through the 3,500 spaces of the 19-page questionnaire. It should be easy for them to put big zeros in spaces provided for the numbers of temporary employees belonging to the upper-level management category. It should be a breeze to decide which employees are male or female. The breeze ends, however, when they reach the core of the questionnaires; i.e., who among the employees belongs to the aboriginal peoples and visible minorities or who has disabilities. (Despite a thoroughly opposite intention such classifications remind one of South Africa.)
Should the employers ask employees if they are visibly in a minority, or if one is an Indian or Metis, or if one is afflicted by mental illness? Must an Indian be a “status” Indian? What shade of color? How much disabling makes one “disabled”?
No! The employers cannot probe into such things. They could be called before that “no nonsense” outfit, the Canadian Human Rights Commission. And so the government in its wisdom ruled that the employees themselves have to “volunteer” such personal characteristics.
Your guess is as sound as mine on how such volunteerism affects the validity of the analyses now being published and hailed by the “progressives” as showing that not enough good is being done.
Judge for yourself. Here are highlights of the second annual report on Employment Equity.
The representation of the designated groups (women, disabled, aboriginals, visible minorities) in the regulated work force is lower than in the total Canadian labor force.
In the last year women increased their representation from 40.90% to 42.12%; the aboriginal peoples from .66% to .73%; the disabled from 1.59% to 1.71%; the visible minorities from 4.99% to 5.69%
Such precision, from such data!

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, February 05, 1990
ID: 12081992
TAG: 199002050332
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

`CANADIANS’ DON’T COUNT

Is there a place in multicultural Canada for a “Canadian” or “Canadians”? Do “Canadians” constitute an ethnic group?
These questions have currency. Within days the federal cabinet must decide if a Canadian ethnic origin has the status of the ethnicities now in our official mosaic. StatsCan must be told what questions on ethnicity shall be framed in the 1991 census.
Recently the House committee on multiculturalism and citizenship debated this vexing issue. It heard two presentations, one from the federally funded lobby called the Canadian Ethnocultural Council (CEC), the other from StatsCan. They were not in agreement.
A question on ethnicity of our population has been on the census questionnaire since Confederation. People were asked to what ethnic or cultural group they or their ancestors belonged “on first coming to this continent.” For decades there was no problem with this concept, as Canadians were comfortably compartmentalized into groups such the Irish, the Scots, the French, the Ukrainians or the Chinese.
In World War II a million Canadians wore shoulder flashes with “CANADA” on them. The self-awareness aroused by the war brought out the first voices asking how long it must take before a new ethnicity of the domestic variety matured. Births in Canada and a welter of marriages across the borders of ethnic groupings had muddled the worth of answers to the census form’s notorious Question 17 on ethnicity.
Enter the unhyphenated Canadian, John Diefenbaker. He decreed for the 1961 census form a recognition of “Canadian” as an acceptable ethnic origin. A fierce opposition flared. It came from French Canadian MPs, not from any “non-charter” ethnic groups. The Chief had to back away, his decree dropped.
It was to take another 25 years before a “Canadian” ethnic origin become almost respectable. It was accepted as a valid answer in the 1986 census. Of course, it was not as respectable as Dutch or Chinese or the other 20 categories explicitly listed on the census form. But if some mulish citizen refused to say he was anything but “Canadian” he could be tolerated.
And so, in 1986 a remarkable fact emerged: Canada had exactly 69,065 Canadians. No more, no less.
Since ’86, pressure to put some reason into this ethnic irrationality has mounted. Even the mandarins of StatsCan admitted openly that their art in collecting ethnic data was shaky. There is evidence, they informed the MPs, “that Canadians were becoming increasingly vocal about disassociating themselves from their ethnic and cultural roots and were identifying themselves as `Canadian.’ ”
But wait! There are objections, but not from French Canadian MPs. Here are two of them on the topic.
Shirley Maheu, a Liberal from St. Laurent, said:
“When you talk about your ethnic or your cultural origin, have you thought about the third and fourth generation Canadians who refuse to say they are anything but Canadians? . . . If I had a choice I would use `Canadian’ only.”
J.P. Hogue, a Tory from Montreal said:
“My ancestors arrived in Canada 11 generations ago, but I think I am part of the ethno-cultural population. There must be a few Hurons or Iroquois in my family tree . . . in answering the proposed question would I have to go back to my French ancestors? I lost them way back in 16 (hundred) something. No more ties with France. I feel like I am becoming Canadian . . . If we want to leave Canadian out (of the census form), I would be standing up in the air in a way if I decided to answer . . . New Canadians are part of our country, and we have to think about them. We have to count them, but how about me?”
The CEC is the prime enthusiast for the ethnic goulash. Its multi-million dollar grants depend on it. It has parried the “pro-Canadian” thrust with a devious scheme.
Its spokesman, Manjit Singh, told the committee there should really be two questions on the 1991 Census. First, one on ethnic origin (the “objective” question) which should not list “Canadian” as a category. Second, one on ethnic or cultural identity (i.e., how people “feel”) which would include “Canadian” on its list.
StatsCan opposes the inclusion of the new question on ethnic and cultural identity. It would not serve any existing programs or legislation. It would be detrimental to the overall response rate to an already lengthy census questionnaire.
Strangely, the StatsCan men also opposed including “Canadian” in the list of ethnic origins. Their tests showed such a category as too attractive to respondents. And so, to include it would distort the profile of the traditional ethnic rainbow.
On this point MP Maheu said: “I have no other choice than to answer `Canadian.’ According to you, this distorts your data. Well, too bad! Ask questions that I can answer.”
What do the mandarins of StatsCan recommend? Do not disturb the status quo. Let us do the same as in 1986!
What conclusion did the committee reach? You must appreciate the vassal state of our politicians before so-called ethnic leaders. The committee endorsed holus-bolus the proposal made by CEC. It will go to the cabinet.
Lester Pearson gave us a Canadian flag. Will Brian Mulroney give us a Canadian ethnicity? As an ethnic Canadian I bet not.
Maybe, though, from the super-Canuck, Jean Chretien.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, February 04, 1990
ID: 12082056
TAG: 199002040365
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: C6
COLUMN: In Ottawa
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

MULTICULTURAL MISCONCEPTIONS

Recently some MPs in committee discussed what multiculturalism is and tried to define it. One might think this invention of the Trudeau government in 1972 was well past an explanatory debate, its definition taken for granted.
The Mulroney government consolidated its predecessor’s invention by giving it its own legislation, its own ministry, even its own standing committee. Unfortunately for some ethnic leaders – but a delight to a few of us – the recent discussion shows much confusion about multiculturalism even among members on the committee in question.
Last December this House committee began to carve out a meaning of multiculturalism for today and for posterity. One MP at work is aggressive Margaret Mitchell (NDP, Vancouver East) representing a riding with a kaleidoscope of ethnicities.
Mitchell bristled at the proposition that linguistic equality be engrained in our multicultural regime. It had been included in a draft definition of multiculturalism. Surely, she lectured her colleagues, there cannot be linguistic equality for all of our ethnics’ languages, given that French and English alone enjoy the status of official languages.
How did this nonsense of linguistic equality get in, she inquired, and the following exchange took place:
Bill Sheridan (committee research officer): “No, it was not in the original nor was it in the wording we discussed. I added it as an afterthought when I was composing this. Then I thought about it again and decided that I would delete it. But then I ran it by the CEC as it was, before deleting it, and they specifically commented that they thought the inclusion of the word `language’ was a good idea.”
Shortly Mitchell said: “We want to appreciate the languages of other people, but the retention of a heritage language is not a basic right in Canada.”
Dennis Mills (a Toronto Liberal MP): “I agree with you. We should take it out.”
Sheridan: “It is out.”
So, there will be no Canadian Hansard printed in Swahili or Urdu, nor will our legislation be printed in Mandarin or Tagalog. Bilingualism is saved, at least for this Parliament.
And what is the mysterious CEC which almost succeeded in this constitutional coup?
The letters stand for the Canadian Ethnocultural Council. As its president, one Lewis Chan, informed the MPs at the same session, the body was “established in 1980 as a non-profit coalition of 38 national ethnocultural community organizations, themselves encompassing over 2,000 groups throughout Canada.” Chan could have added that his creature is almost totally funded by some $500,000 federal dollars annually.
The CEC seems to have become the very soul of the Standing Committee on Multiculturalism and Citizenship. Certainly it doesn’t seem to be found in the chairman or the gaggle of MPs who stock the committee. Nothing seems decided without consultation with Lewis Chan or the executive director of the CEC, one Andrew Cardozo.
Take a sample from the minutes of a recent session of the committee. It was discussing the proposition that multiculturalism is a fundamental characteristic of Canadian society. When this lead into a disagreement whether or not this characteristic is unique to Canada, the MPs deferred to the CEC:
Liberal Dennis Mills holds the rather polyglot seat of Broadview-Greenwood, and he stated to the committee:
“If your point is that this pleases the ethnocultural council, if it gives them a feeling of being comfortable, then we should probably try to do it.” Mitchell: “We should check the definition with them anyway when we have consensus. They were the ones who fought to have it in the Charter certainly.”
When the vice-chairman of the committee (J.P. Hogue, a Tory MP from Montreal) asked the CEC officials to leave the room so the committee could hear witnesses from Statistics Canada in camera, Mitchell objected: “I think CEC should be allowed to stay.” Of course, they stayed.
Now, you may better appreciate how our elected politicians give respect and give way to an organized congeries of interests, funded by government. And yet, only 16% of our population was not born in Canada. Put the other way: 86% of us were born here. Still, the politicians keep pandering to a conception that has us as unique because they think we are and should be a replicate of the world in its ethnicities.
(Monday: Trying to be merely a Canadian.)

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, February 02, 1990
ID: 12081203
TAG: 199002020237
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

REMEMBER MONTREAL!

Times are tough. Each order of our governments runs deficits and carries an ever-heavier debt load. Yet such burdens won’t stop a shared deal by governments of Toronto, Ontario, and Canada that will take several billion of taxpayers’ dollars and thousands of bureaucrats for years, all for a two week sports festival six years in the future.
It’s as though the 1976 Summer Olympics never was. Its huge debt is still on the taxpayers of Montreal and Quebec. Today’s mayor, premier, and prime minister may be too young to remember the consequences of ’76. It boosted construction and living costs and sky-rocketed wage demands. In the general reign of greed the politicians in office ducked responsibility or blamed each other.
It seems nothing will stop this huge extravagance for an unmemorable cause, one rife in the pettiest of the world’s hates. Brian Mulroney himself has lobbied the Soviets in Moscow on behalf of Toronto’s bid for the Summer Games. Further, the chief guardian of the federal purse, Michael Wilson, is certain to be a spender for this project.
Donald Savoie in his pungent book, The Politics of Public Spending in Canada, stresses an Ottawa imperative: A cabinet minister must get plenty for his region or be known as a wimp without clout.
Savoie quotes a “senior minister from Atlantic Canada” who said, “I quickly discovered the rules of the game and I began to play the game like everybody else. There is no way I am going to put up with cutting jobs for average Canadians struggling to make a living for their families in Atlantic Canada while people in Ottawa are worried about what may happen to live jazz concerts on the Toronto Harbourfront.”
More than one minister from beyond central Canada was bitter at the readiness of Wilson and other ministers from Metro to throw money at Harbourfront while lamenting funds targeted for “the boondocks”.
The best to be hoped for is that Mulroney and Wilson set out soon the caps on Ottawa’s sharing. They should give the figures for: (a) cash dollar grants; (b) federal property donated or leased at token terms; (c) federal ceilings on aid through stamps, coins, and lotteries; (d) the numbers of military and security personnel to be used – and their cost.
As important, Ottawa should lever Queen’s Park before the Olympic bid succeeds to join in a public commitment that several of the venues go beyond Metro in communities where core facilities are already in place. Say sailing at Kingston; soccer and/or gymnastics at Hamilton; rowing and canoeing at St. Catharines; equestrian events at Nepean; swimming at Sudbury or even Thunder Bay.
Both boosters and critics of the Toronto bid should take a rush look at the rather slight, follow-on usage and the considerable operational charges for the grand installations of previous Summer Games such as the big stadiums and velodromes.
They should ask our sports officials to explain why neither much improved athletic facilities nor much hosting of high-level competition has raised either the relative athletic excellence of our athletes or given a steady surge in the numbers of those training and competing. Consider that over the last 20 years Canada has been led by federal initiatives and provincial mimicry to hosting more international and national “amateur” sports competitions than any other country, even the U.S. We have built more big pools, tracks, gyms, etc. outside the school system than most countries. The results are not striking.
Whatever the heist from taxpayers for the SkyDome, at least it’s a facility certain for various and repetitious use. This is not the pattern for most Olympic installations. Anyone who goes to an Expo sits in a memorial to grandeur, waste and inutility.

Two campaigns in progress through TV ads are deceitful. For the first, dealing with warnings on AIDS, taxpayers are footing the bill. For the second, touting cable TV as a supreme good, the subscribers to this monopoly (in each locale!) must be paying the costs.
The cuddly, smarmy, cherishing of cable’s recreational and informative richness is a fatuous insult to plain reason. The AIDS ads are worse because their nonsense is less obvious, the subject so much more serious.
The pitches on AIDS present an attractive young woman or man. Their look is direct. Each challenges us always to use a condom in any sexual congress we have. The target words are for youth rather than older folk. The assumption one must take from the scripts is that the key activity for propagating AIDS is male-female sex. The condom’s utility in birth control or against venereal disease is unmentioned.
The pitch is on stopping the spread of AIDS. Kids! Save yourself from death by AIDS. Always use a condom.
The pitch is ridiculous. It evades the truly dangerous acts. Data for North America show those by far most likely to get AIDS and pass it along are: (a) homosexual and bisexual males (some 80% of cases in Canada); (b) intravenous drug users. StatsCan says “Men aged 30-39 had the highest cumulative incidence of AIDS . . . ”
Is it too harsh on homosexuals and drug addicts to address them through TV ads paid for by the public about the mortal danger in anal sex and injected drugs? In contrast, condom or not, the coupling of a boy and a girl is not at all deadly.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, January 31, 1990
ID: 12536933
TAG: 199001310239
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
ILLUSTRATION: drawing by Dick Gibson
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

WE’VE GOT US A HORSE RACE

Until the tripartite format which so evokes comparisons unfolded at the Liberal leadership assemblage in Toronto last Sunday, it was hard to foresee any candidate other than Paul Martin coming to grips with Jean Chretien and muscling him away from the prize.
Now, given five more of such intimacies with the aspirants, the contest is wide-open. Already it promises to be as captivating as the three previous leadership thrillers – the Tory runs in 1967 and 1974 (Robert Stanfield, then Joe Clark) and the Liberal circus of 1968 (Pierre Trudeau).
As CBC Newsworld’s plain, under-production was closing, my mind was casting up, arranging impressions, drawing conclusions. Next day just chatting around Ottawa it was clear many others were just as captivated by the idea that the “sure thing” isn’t to be sure.
The first of my conclusions is drawn from considering the other side in partisan politics.
There will not be a federal election before May, 1993.
Why not? Because Brian Mulroney will want lots of time for the interest worked up by this Liberal gripper to fade away. Force the new leader to put in two substantial sessions of Parliament as leader of the official opposition.
The PM might be tempted to go earlier if Martin or a third candidate comes through, but only if the economy’s perking well in late ’91 or early ’92. If Chretien keeps his present edge, however, count on ’93. Mulroney will let Chretien swing in the winds of Quebec antagonism. Neither the incumbent premier nor the alternative, Jacques Parizeau, has any use for him.
The second conclusion is more short run. The dramatic opportunities offered by the confrontations are very rich, and the egos of each of the six so far in the contest are massive.
Thus, any withdrawal before the convention in favor of another candidate (as happened in 1968) is most unlikely.
A third conclusion comes from reflecting what Lloyd Axworthy would have contributed to this cast of candidates. The private sector seems very safe. The nationalistic emphasis which Walter Gordon imbued in the Liberal party is far stronger in the candidates than its complement of economic direction and intervention by Ottawa.
In economic ideas and outlook none of these candidates is a genuine left winger.
An impression, rather than a conclusion, from the Sunday confrontation is that the clear split over how to handle Quebec in Confederation will carry all the way to the choice in June, and likely beyond it, within the party and the caucus.
It’s hard to foresee the split disappearing simply because the Meech Lake accord as a centre-piece of negotiations between provinces and Ottawa is far more likely to be extended past June than dropped or confirmed as a deal.
It’s even harder to imagine a break toward a uniform position on Quebec between Chretien and John Nunziata on the one side and Martin, Sheila Copps and Clifford Lincoln on the other.
There is too much bitterness seething in the West and across much of Ontario over distinctiveness already accorded Quebec and French Canadians for the candidates who have chosen to ride it to give it up. As for Martin and Lincoln, they would be jeered from their base province if they now began to welsh.
Of course, the more common impressions from the first confrontation were about the talents and personalities of the candidates. With repeat appearances, Copps, Nunziata and Lincoln may become more bland or seem so from familiarity. But what suddenly became clear is the bent each has to take it to their rivals – pungently! In this sense, each is proving to be sharp and quick in argument and not far below Chretien’s level.
It was surprising to find so much post-Sunday opinion kept coming back to Copps. Again and again one heard: “If Copps was only . . . ” Or, “If she can keep herself in hand . . . ”
In short, with a few, clear, program ideas and steady behavior to go along with her superior vigor at fixing on Brian Mulroney, Copps might be more than an advantage to Martin in ending Chretien’s long dream.
Hard as it is to swallow the idea of Sheila Copps as our prime minister, after Sunday the prospect of her as deputy prime minister seems more likely than absurd.
As balanced entertainment how better it would be if candidate Tom Wappel could be whisked from the drama and the cast’s variety and tensions bucked by Lloyd Axworthy and Dennis Mills. The latter would add ebullience and check off organizationally the clear bent of both the Chretien and Martin camps to overdo the cheerleader razzmatazz which bucks buy.
Axworthy would force a firming on specifics in the use of federal power in the economy and swinging away from privatization and over-respect for private enterprise.
If just one afternoon of comparison has disproved a talent gulf between Chretien and the rest, both the encounters to come and the guaranteed quotas for female and youth delegates. point to a less certain result than seemed possible a mere month ago.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, January 29, 1990
ID: 12536329
TAG: 199001290173
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

WHO MANAGES WHO IN NEWS?

An emerging philosopher of journalism seems to be Elly Alboim, Ottawa bureau chief of the CBC’s The National. He seems the favorite guru for the young and lively among reporters. Alboim has more of a following than Mark Starowicz, the high profile head of the CBC’s Journal, even though the latter has made magisterial statements on what Canadian television and journalism is or ought to be about.
In the latest Saturday Night Alboim’s opinions decorate a piece by Charlotte Gray about the mastery of Brian Mulroney and his gang at “managing the media.” Meanwhile, the latest issue of On Balance, the periodical on “media treatment of public policy issues” is also at hand. Its topic is a year’s review of national news shows of CBC and CTV. The study breaks into numbers the subjects, people, and sources for opinion and information from every national newscast for a year beginning in October 1988.
One must be careful in arguing over quotations in a magazine article. The words may be out of their spoken context, and Gray has been known to get things twisted. With such caveats, here’s her grist, including some insights from Alboim.
Gray sketches the PM’s practice in taking only questions he chooses from reporters while poised on the stairs outside the House. Gray opines that “His position above the supplicant scrum of cameras and microphones emphasizes his authority.” Then she quotes Alboim:
“Walking away from those daily scrums … you feel soiled, it’s so demeaning.”
There’s more from Gray, often quoting or paraphrasing other journalistic deans like Peter Desbarats and Val Sears, on the media’s dislike of the PM, stressing that Mulroney deals with the media only on his terms. By and by and large he finds TV compliant.
There’s something more fundamental here, says Gray, than mere media hostility or Mulroney’s calculated use of the media. To explain this “more fundamental tide in the Canadian news business, a shift that is … almost invisible to the average couch potato,” Gray turns back to Alboim.
“What I find extraordinary,” says Alboim, “is that press culture in this country has changed, and nobody out there has even realized it.”
Gray goes on: “The first change … has been the erosion of `objectivity.’ The brevity of television news items inevitably made them subjective.”
Gray underlines that it’s from TV news Canadians get most of their information on public affairs and “accept it as the unbiased truth.”
Follow the argument? If you do, and have spent much time with TV news, you wonder as I do about anybody missing this “extraordinary” trend from the objective to the subjective in TV news reports. It has seemed penny plain.
Gray’s next point is as plain. TV news skews the way politics is presented because abstract topics or such stuff of politics as committee meetings, seminars and platform speeches is so hard to present well.
Again Gray goes to Alboim.
“Our narrative form … requires drama, conflict, denouement. But government is a long, tedious business of process and ambiguity.”
There’s nothing more from Alboim by Gray on how he as a key TV news producer bridges the distance between the necessarily tedious in politics and TV’s compulsion for drama and contention.
Anyone following the 11 years of a televised House question period knows that opposition politicians have bridged the distance. How? They assert extravagantly the incompetence or dishonesty of the PM. Such more surely gets them on TV news than a reasoned argument why Mulroney is failing to reduce the scale of deficits.
Gray concludes that print journalism is failing as an antidote to TV’s lack of objectivity. The government in manipulating the media has created an intense hostility in the press corps. Despite such hostility TV journalists have been forced “to sound as if they have lost control of their own medium to political media managers.”
One might take from this essay that the CBC’s Alboim is the bedrock source for analysis which shows our political journalism is “demeaned” and “dominated” by a prime minister and his cunning aides. Alboim may have views of more reach and substance than this. If so, he should ape Starowicz, write his analysis of how to chase TV news’ dilemmas.
Anyone reading the latest and recent issues of On Balance gets a far different impression than the one Gray (and Alboim) leaves. The interpretations by this media archive on the content and “bias” of TV news, in particular of the CBC, is not at all of a puppet show managed by the politicians in power. A few headings from recent issues illustrate.
“CBC cites environmentalists more often than scientists.”
“Networks reinforce apocalyptic scenario.”
“Free trade coverage negative and shallow.”
“Labor reporting emphasizes disputes.”
On Balance notes that TV news almost always provides comment that is more critical than favorable about an issue, say about the FTA or the GST. Network news prefers zealots of environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth or Pollution Probe in any items on the environment, which has become, according to On Balance, the top domestic issue in politics.
Two very different visions of politics on TV!

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, January 28, 1990
ID: 12536029
TAG: 199001280183
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C5
COLUMN: Backgrounder
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

OTTAWA’S AGENDA//THERE’S MUCH GRIST FOR THE POLITICAL MILL IN THE HOUSE IN 1990

The suggestion was: Lay out the year ahead in federal politics.
In one word, it will be messy; in two words, it will be messy and contentious. But a crisis of major proportions is unlikely.
Why not? What about the GST? It’s so unpopular. What about Meech? Quebec is getting very riled over it and, contrarily, so is the West. And isn’t a recession upon us?
Oh, there’s much grist for the political mill but a national crisis is most unlikely because a federal general election is so far in the future. A parliamentary crisis of sorts is possible – of which, more later.
It’s easy enough to prefigure two aspects of the year in Parliament.
Firstly, the daily racket from question period, which has become a staple item for the newscasts when the House is running, will continue at a furious level. And the chief cause of the opposition furor will be the GST. This aspect of politics as entertainment is now a routine, both for the politicians and for the TV networks.
Secondly, the agenda of Parliament in terms of legislation to be passed is largely before it. The chief items still to come have one significant bundle – the budget! It’s due within a month. Of course, the GST propositions already on the order paper list will have some connection with the budget. Also, the budget will include more big cuts in a variety of spending programs. Past experience assures us that most of these cuts will raise strenuous objections from the interest groups affected.
Otherwise, the roster for Parliament already includes some very controversial bills.
The changes in the Broadcasting Act affect almost every conceivable interest in the field.
Another bill gives Ottawa the jurisdiction over provincial phone systems on the Prairies. It won’t go through quietly.
The amendment to the Criminal Code respecting abortion is still before the House.
So are new rules respecting conflict of interest for all parliamentarians, including more checks on ministers.
Altogether, some 30 government bills are there to be passed and by the late fall the number will have grown to over 50. It’s a huge load but we know that less than half will be completed by the end of the year, and only a few of the items will engender a national interest or sensitivity whatever the clamors, from interest groups or associations who want or don’t want a particular bill passed.
In any circle of politicians, one subject always ranks ahead of all others, even though it has much less immediacy for most citizens. It is the next federal election! And without a miraculous disaster there will be no election before 1992, perhaps not until the spring of 1993.
Nevertheless, the shadow or the allure of the next election is very much on political minds in all three parties. For example, the stage in the parliamentary mandate has been reached where government MPs are wondering whether their leader will be with them for the next contest. Their reading, as I take it, seems to be about 3-1 that Brian Mulroney will fight the next one. Also, that he and Liberal Jean Chretien will have a circus, with the NDP far out of it.
You’ve also surely noticed the run of recent gossip on whether or not John Crosbie or Joe Clark or Don Mazankowski is planning to retire or change to another political venue in the near future. Most of this is insubstantial, an innocuous reflection of the mid-term bent among politicians to fret about the next election.
Perhaps the best indicator of commitments within the ministry will come with a cabinet shuffle. There isn’t a guarantee there will be one in 1990, but the odds are there will be, either in early September or during the Christmas break. The changes will tip Mulroney’s own intentions.
The one safe prediction is that Michael Wilson stays in finance until the GST is well through. The only way this would change is if Wilson resigned over the unreadiness of the PM and the cabinet to support him in his moves to lower the deficit.
The bemusement of Tory MPs over their leader’s future intentions may seem frivolous, particularly since it does not run along with any widespread feeling that the PM should consider leaving. Mulroney is not in same position as John Diefenbaker during his third mandate when so many in the caucus and the party wanted him out.
But if Mulroney’s niche in history is closed off by his choice after the eight years he’s won with two elections, there will certainly be changes in his priorities for the record to be left behind him. In particular, the ministers and the MPs behind them are hung up over the issue of the year, the GST.
Almost certainly it is the issue of this mandate.
With a few exceptions government MPs back the GST. Even a fair number of Liberal MPs see a GST implementation as inevitable and, privately, they would live with it, largely because they expect the next election campaign will not be fought over the GST. One divines a consensus of sorts on the Hill that Wilson will get his GST stuff through the House despite a noisy, lengthy blockade by the NDP before the end of the year.
It’s less certain the Senate will be accommodating.
It’s a risky projection but if we are to have a mid-term crisis in our politics it is likely to come over the refusal of the Liberal-controlled Senate: Firstly, to pass the GST legislation to meet Wilson’s timing needs; secondly, to pass it without substantial amendments which he and the PM cannot swallow.
In the House, once the government decides to use its handy majority to dictate the time spent on stages of legislation it can have its legislative way, despite the hubbub inside and outside across the country over the GST.
Despite five years in power Mulroney never made any of several possible, brutal moves to wipe away or severely limit the powers which his opposition can exercise in the Senate.
Another reflection of electoral obsessiveness which runs out from the Hill to the whole body politic is the galvanizing of the nation’s interest over the Liberal party leadership. No sooner shall it be settled, particularly if the choice is Jean Chretien, than the high interest will shift to if – or how and when – he gets into the House of Commons. Who will he enlist of old Grits and new ones for the cast of ministers and advisers in the government which he and so many others think inevitable once Mulroney or his successor goes to the people?.
Clearly there’s short-run advantage from the Liberal extravaganza for the government both in getting bills through Parliament and in the public’s thorough fascination with the Liberal choices over the next five months. Mulroney and company know they cannot dawdle with the GST during this break, and that’s why the liveliest of partisan warfare in Parliament until summer will be largely between Tories and New Democrats.
For a variety of reasons, including a general anticipation of a North American recession, we are not in a period in which the prime bent of party politics is intrinsically ideological. Yes, there will continue to be wholesale condemnations of the Mulroney government for its allegedly determined conservatism. The reality is, however, that neither of the rival parties, in particular the Grits (to go by what’s already coming from leadership candidates) is preaching a swing to the left of much account.
Of course, more budget cuts and a privatization or two, particular of PetroCan, will or would sharpen the impression of a right-wing government.
Will the issue of the free trade agreement which so excited us in 1988 become large again? No, not very large, but the pros and cons about jobs lost and jobs gained, prices up and prices down, will weave along as a recurring strand in our evening newscasts.
The missing, major topic in this sketch is obvious -the Meech Lake accord. A positive miracle for the accord is unlikely. Without a miracle, say such as a pro-Meech candidate carrying the Liberal convention handily, the accord seems certain to lapse, or to be dragged on mainly as a basis from which completely fresh constitutional negotiations would begin. But not for the next year or two, unless . . . unless reaction of the politicians of Quebec, provincial and federal, is very bloody-minded at the rebuff.
If it should be so, then, quickly, concern in the rest of Canada, including the West, might zoom into an insistence the parties get back to the table and clinch a new deal. Past experience predicates a lapse in efforts for a time, not a frenzy of concern and a quick wrap-up of a new deal.
John Turner will pass from active politics this year, and it should take place with as little fuss as Ed Broadbent’s leaving caused. Day to day there is so much attack and rebuff, so many political actors, so much diversity, that our politics hasn’t time or patience for last hurrahs. Turner will fade away from the mess and the noise. He won’t be missed, neither will Broadbent. There’s too much that’s contentious always underway.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, January 26, 1990
ID: 12535445
TAG: 199001260238
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

MULRONEY’S HEIR SPLITS

The resignation taken from Jean Charest by the prime minister seems severe punishment for the young cabinet minister’s offence. It’s also shocking when you know Charest has been Brian Mulroney’s prize protege.
Since the PM chose not to ride a House storm for a week or so over Charest’s phone call to a judge of a Quebec court, it means that either he couldn’t stomach the certainty of the opposition racket or he decided the quick resignation was to Charest’s long-run advantage as a politician. Or the two factors may have flowed together.
Sooner, rather than later, in any long chat Brian Mulroney gets to Quebec politics. It’s never far from his awareness. And sooner, rather than later, the name and talent of Jean Charest comes up.
The PM has a huge respect for the intelligence and integrity of Lucien Bouchard, his environment minister. He delights in the toughness and drive of Benoit Bouchard, his transport minister. He mentions the usefulness in small-town Quebec of Monique Vezina, the grandmother minister (seniors). One gathers it was because of ability, not as a punishment, that he gave Pierre Cadieux the worst portfolio (Indian affairs). But, clearly, the protege is Jean Charest.
Anyone who has had much to do with Charest understands Mulroney’s regard for him. Charest is so easy and deft in both languages – in conversation or on his feet in the House. He’s good-humored, durable, unpretentious and a quick study on any topic. There have been eight ministers of state for sport since Liberal Iona Campagnolo became the first in 1976. None more quickly grasped sport’s dilemmas than Charest.
Mulroney’s grooming of an heir was clear in his choice early last year of Charest as deputy House leader. At this backup role to Doug Lewis (also justice minister) Charest showed a nice blend of courtesy and acumen with the occasional, sharp, partisan bite. It was clear he would be ready by the end of this year to take over from Lewis.
Sometimes veteran Tory backbenchers in speculations about futures get on to possible party leaders. Such chat usually break in two: Who would lead if the PM chooses to retire before the next election; and who would be a good bet for the mid to late ’90s. Short range, the name most mentioned is Michael Wilson (53), followed by Don Mazankowski (55), Joe Clark (50), Perrin Beatty (39) and Barbara McDougall (53).
Long range, Charest’s name always arises, usually coupled with Beatty’s. The present minister of health has the better chance of electoral survival, but if both young men return from the next election to either government or opposition, a contest between them for the Tory leadership is a good prospect before the end of the decade.
Donald Swainson is a veteran professor teaching Canadian history at Queen’s University, and someone I had long taken as sympathetic to politics of the moderate left. The Kingston Whig-Standard (Jan. 13) has run a very long, pungent commentary by the historian on the NDP leadership contest and its outcome.
The essay’s themes are the NDP as “a troubled and unhappy institution . . . that has lost (or abandoned or blown) its historic credibility.” He argues that the NDP changed under the leadership of Ed Broadbent (1975-89). “It was clear in Winnipeg that the party of Woodsworth/Coldwell/Douglas/Lewis is dead.”
Under those leaders, “ . . . policies were central and would not be abandoned even if it was clear they lost votes for the party. If the party could not win an election it could still represent those groups without historic influence; the party could advocate unpopular policies and assist in making them popular enough for implementation by a Liberal or Conservative government. When the socialists drew their political bottom line, that was role enough: Victory would be nice, but victory was not necessary.”
Swainson outlines how the obsession with power and victory became paramount under Broadbent, including an exaggerated focus on Quebec. But as Broadbent left the NDP for some comfy patronage “the party is more than ever a western protest group heavily dependent on B.C. and Saskatchewan.”
It’s hard to quarrel with the reality described by Swainson but his harshest summation deals with Broadbent’s succession, firstly the candidates who “really did constitute `the B-team’ and then with the winner.
“The field of candidates was demonstrably weak, and the party ultimately chose a woman who has very little electoral experience, little political experience, no impressive policy strengths and few obvious parliamentary skills. She is not a good speaker and emerged at the convention as the candidate of the eastern Canadian socialist/labor establishment.”
My appraisal of the new leader fits Swainson’s. The abler MPs of the caucus have a desperate exercise in damage control ahead of them. There have been contrasts the past 10 days which are devastating for New Democrats. Even the two Liberal leadership candidates from the Grit Rat Pack, Sheila Copps and John Nunziata, seem far better informed and more cogent than Audrey Mclaughlin.
As Swainson concludes about the NDP: “Its innocence is certainly gone and so, it would appear, is much of its credibility. One can wish it well, but prayer might be more effective.”
Amen!

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, January 24, 1990
ID: 12534827
TAG: 199001240236
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

JEAN JOINS GRIT BATTLE

Energy, zest, experience – and immodesty.
Those are great traits in a politician.
Jean Chretien had all but experience when he first came to Ottawa 27 years ago. He’s added what a lot of House, cabinet, and hustings work does in shining up a style, picking up ploys and closing off argument.
He showed in yesterday’s opening press conference of his “official” campaign for the Liberal leadership that he is as energetic, enthusiastic, and cocky as he was in 1963. It was a splendid start, to go with good starts by Sheila Copps and Paul Martin. This should be a wonderful race.
If anything stood out in Chretien’s lively, interesting encounter with the press in the capital it was his pragmatism, both about the inutility of grand policy positions and the impracticality, even silliness, of foreseeing what he would do three years from now as prime minister regarding the free trade agreement (FTA), the goods and services tax (GST) and the ominous federal debt load.
One is tempted to quote an appraisal of Jean Chretien as a Liberal leadership candidate in 1984 by Richard Gwyn, then an Ottawa-based columnist. Gwyn wrote:
“He has no policies, or at least none for practical purposes. He really doesn’t have much to say, except `I love you’ and `I love Canada.’ Yet he has communicated a powerful message of good feeling, which is the precondition for a people to feel hopeful about themselves and their country.
“He is exactly what he seems to be, a street fighter with the smarts to know when to fire and when to duck. He is a small-town populist, a distinctly conservative one despite his progressive image . . . who has stayed in touch with his roots as he’s climbed the greasy pole to the second-last rung.”
That estimate, written not long before Chretien failed to catch John Turner at the Grit leadership convention, was an excellent sample of a widespread appreciation which crystallized in 1984 about Chretien and made him a heroic underdog. He was not to triumph over the overwhelming favorite but he provided a wonderfully attractive contrast to stiff and stuffy John Turner. The appreciation proved to have folklore dimensions the next year when Chretien’s book, Straight from the Heart (written with the help of Ron Graham), became by far the greatest best-seller of its kind in Canada.
Often since Chretien resigned his seat and went into full-time legal work, based in Ottawa, my tracks have crossed or neared his. In sightings at local Harvey’s restaurants, french-fry shops, and delicatessens I saw the same sort of encounters and exchanges with short-order cooks and customers as I witnessed on airline flights with him or during his walks along Ottawa’s busy Elgin St. as he shopped or walked to work. Most people knew him and spoke to him, and he seemed to have a phrase or a longer “aside” for everyone. And always he seemed to keep his good nature as he kept moving. Not even John Diefenbaker seemed to be better known or to enjoy people more.
What significance should be read into this popularity of Chretien and his savoring of it? It may be important if, as seems likely, he becomes Opposition leader. And very important if he becomes prime minister.
Firstly, this bent means Chretien will put his emphasis on actions and attitudes which keep and extend his widespread popularity with plain people. Secondly, simply put, no prime minister in modern times has retained or sustained a cherishing or liking by the public past the first 18 months or two years of power. One must consider, even anticipate, that Chretien may, like Diefenbaker, become almost desperate in playing to “ordinary Canadians” as criticisms of his government mount.
In short, because of Chretien’s fetish for talking, meeting, moving — and his extreme confidence in his own astuteness and guile — he could be unstable in office when the going gets rough. As it would. This is at least as fair as two other apprehensions about Chretien as a prime minister which I have heard discussed — and not by his enemies or detractors. In question form, they go like this.
What happens to all that rambling energy and ego when it must be narrowed and sequestered into the onerous hours of the PMO, far from the crowds, intent on documents, chairing meetings of cabinet, consulting with mandarins? In scale, the prime ministership is more onerous than any other, and the one ministry the most comparable — finance — was the one in which Chretien did most poorly. He was a good minister for Indian affairs, a good minister of justice, a good minister of energy, and an adequate president of the Treasury Board, but a poor minister of finance.
The next question is brutal and unfair but relevant, given the strains of office and the noticeable effects it has had on all our PMs in the TV era. It goes like this: How durable is this man?
Chretien’s been running, mostly in high gear at full tilt, for so long. He must have a strong constitution but he seems so fragile and over-intense. Isn’t he a bet for burn-out?
Since such speculation seems too much niggling at the probable winner of the Liberal race, let me close with a sentence from a piece written in March, 1986, when Chretien forsook the House and the caucus. I reviewed the stages he had gone through in the 23 years I had known him, and wrote:
“He’s always surprised me by doing better at every stage in his career (but one) than I expected.”
He may again.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, January 22, 1990
ID: 12534368
TAG: 199001220231
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

STARRY-EYED CANADIANS

Members of Parliament flow back to the Commons today. They have had a nice, lengthy break without the day-to-day agitation of each other of Ottawa.
It is a good day for welcoming the returnees with something lighthearted, but in their orbit. So here is some mild satire of their ritual partisanship. It is also a larger spoof of Canadians at politics.
It is eclectic rather than lazy or plagiaristic to turn on occasion to the use of another man’s flowers. To explain!
A “found” poem is one made by re-arranging prose, usually so the lines do not run the width of the page, whereas a “found” column is one put forward by a columnist who has been impressed by the views of another writer. Today my found offering is by a poet, Rod Anderson. It is from his book Sky Falling Sunny Tomorrow, published by Walsak & Wynn, Toronto.
Rod Anderson now farms near Cobourg, and writes poetry and opera libretti. Although he graduated from U of T in chemistry he turned to chartered accountancy for a livelihood.
You will see that his poem raises a famous issue. It was one which agonized the last days of Walter Gordon, and in the unforgettable ’88 election the issue drove the late Gordon’s chief touter, Beland Honderich, to using his powerful arm, the Toronto Star, as even more of a Liberal propaganda force than normal.
What caught my fancy first about Anderson, the farmer-poet, was finding that he was for 28 years an accountant with Clarkson, Gordon – latterly as a partner of this famous firm. Did accountancy draw Anderson into political analysis? It worked that way with Walter Gordon. Or, is a poem like The Free-trade Universe a product of time spent out in the open, pondering man and nature?
The Free-trade Universe
“if Canadians had designed the universe
don’t laugh, I mean why couldn’t they?
say, a couple of bright teenagers one weekend at Waterloo
this crazy idea of a game, just a minute you ask
what sort of game? bingo for crowds of Acadians?
chess gambits for Bay Street?
a form of solitaire from Gastown?

look. I’m telling you, these are just kids
too naive to think of the market
they just invent this really neat game
with, you know, stars, planets, galaxies
a few simple rules
not a bad way to pass the time

but where’ll they get enough energy to prime it?
(no such thing as a free launch)
of course they try the chartered banks
are told their scheme is too risky
they sell off the volatile parts
(black holes, super-nova explosions)
to Americans, who make a fortune on them
finance the rest with Canada Council grants
provincial lotteries, distillery profits
and bang, off it goes!

which is when the NDP protests
planets are going to be unequally distributed
liberals steal their idea
set up a fund to buy two planets for every star
(there aren’t enough to go around)
conservatives take over, keep the fund they pooh-poohed
but drop universality
bigger stars, after all, can support more planets
particularly conservative stars
provinces tell the feds: butt out, stars are regional
(they get their way finally and milk it)
somehow the Maritimes end up with the barren galaxies
Ontario grabs the richest cluster; running it prudently
for owners in New York
only annoyed at the fusion royalties to the west
town planners travel in distant quasars
study conservation at the taxpayers’ expense
Quebec renumbers its Messier objects in French

OK, it’s easy to criticize, the place isn’t bad
one can walk around the stars at night without being mugged
but who bothers?
I mean, where are we? a game for Canada?
folks just stick at home
wait for the Dallas model.”

That’s a witty piece. When I phoned Anderson for permission to quote a poem of his, he knew before I was specific which one it was.
I asked him if he wrote much political poetry. Although he’s busy on a particular opera he has worked up a “very long” political poem without yet figuring where or how to get it printed.
Any suggestions, anyone?

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, January 21, 1990
ID: 12534094
TAG: 199001210191
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C6
COLUMN: In Ottawa
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

GANGING UP ON THE LITTLE GUY

Have you noticed a significant gap after the first official week of the Liberal leadership contest?
To explain, I must digress.
Before Christmas the Liberal MP for Broadview-Greenwood, Dennis Mills, was talking about the pros and cons of a bid by him for the leadership. And he was asked: Weren’t there some elders of the party advising him, even pressing him, not to run?
There were, he replied. Even some who saw him as their protege.
Why didn’t they want him to run?
Firstly, because they believe he should put his organizing talent and friends behind Jean Chretien. They see Chretien as the guarantee of a return to power. He is Pierre Trudeau’s heir on constitutional balance and the national role of federal government. Above all, Mills agrees with Trudeau’s opposition to Meech Lake and he had worked hard and well for the former PM.
That was before Christmas. Take a guess what the Chretien camp will be pondering now about longer-shots like Dennis Mills. They have to figure Clifford Lincoln will win the Chamby byelection and come bursting into the House this spring.
Now just suppose Chretien does not win on the first ballot and Paul Martin, Sheila Copps, and Clifford Lincoln, who trail him, are all still in for the second ballot.
What do Martin, Copps and Lincoln have in common that separates them clearly from Chretien? Easy. They’re pro-Meech.
See why Chretien needs one or more anti-Meech candidates like Dennis Mills to give him some momentum on second and third ballots. It could get even more dour for Chretien if MP Jim Peterson, (the Ontario premier’s brother) runs. He’s pro-Meech too.
Mills would be useful to Chretien for more than the balloting. At the confrontation gatherings which are to be highly organized and intensely covered by TV, Mills would make a lively diversion from both a gang-up on Chretien over the accord and the line that he’s “yesterday’s man.”
In passing, note that if MP John Nunziata entered the race he too would make a fine stalking horse for Chretien. My next appraisal of the odds waits on a full entry list, but it’s now clear Chretien is no longer better than an even-money bet. Favorite still; no longer a cinch.

It has come to me that one of the fiercest tussles in recent months within the cabinet is over the decision announced by Benoit Bouchard, minister of transport, which would outlaw smoking at any time on any Canadian air transport flight. Don’t wager that ruling will be engraved in stone.
No, the objections do not rise over the traffic lost to other foreign lines which will follow from this, although that argument’s being used. It’s simply that several ministers who are smokers have had enough of banning and blocking smoking. They are not lightweights, either.

Last October deputy minister Arthur Kroeger tickled the curiosity of the huge staff of the manpower and immigration department. He told them “significant” changes in immigration headquarters were in the wind. The tasks could no longer be adequately handled by the current set-up.
“Reorgs” in Ottawa always mean more people, more money.
Effective Jan. 1 the five branches of the immigration organization in Ottawa multiplied to nine. A request for additional people to staff them is at Treasury Board. The top job in immigration, per se, was held by Joe Bissett. It’s been split into two, requiring another assistant deputy minister.
The new assistant deputy, Terry Sheehan, has remarkable qualifications on paper. He was an ambassador to Turkey and to Jamaica. Even better, his career path runs back to years in the old immigration department of the ’60s. Then immigration was seen and used as a tool of our national policy.
So there can be more excuses from immigration over inadequate resources or questionable bureaucratic advice. The only thing now is political resolve. Some guts in cabinet!
A proof of such resolve would be the invoking at last of the so-called third-country provision put into the 1988 immigration and refugee legislation. It gives full control over how many and what kind of refugees Canada accepts.
(This particular device bars automatically from entering Canada all refugee applicants coming from a third “safe” country, such as West Germany.)

Those far from Ottawa may not know the city’s been roiled by a lost bid to bring a Triple A baseball franchise to the capital; lost at city council when nine councillors voted against the city’s involvement in aid of the franchise with property and stadium facilities.
But the proposal may not be dead. Elmer MacKay, minister of public works, likes the idea – and this may be very helpful. He is the effective landmaster of many acres in the Ottawa area. He is also the sort of devout baseball fan (Yankees!) who quotes batting averages from the long ago past.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, January 19, 1990
ID: 12533682
TAG: 199001190225
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

OVERSPENDING: WE’RE ALL GUILTY

Immediacy, exciting though it is, often frustrates needed thought.
There is a new book out on how Ottawa has worked. It should become a classic. It illuminates our chief dilemmas. Regrettably, it is distant from the top item in our current politics – the Liberal leadership. The book is The Politics of Public Spending in Canada, by Donald Savoie (U of T Press).
Each of the aspirants with good chances to lead the Liberals – Jean Chretien, Paul Martin and Sheila Copps – got their campaigns under way handily this week. Each was poised. Thought and thoroughness showed in their strategies and the cleverness of their styles and form.
This should be a contest to captivate the land . . . with the hasty qualifier that it’s a long, long race. Can Meech Lake as central subject stand up for five months?
It is not to belittle Meech to suggest our massive debts and running deficits loom as dangerously for Canada as disagreement over the Constitution. Chretien or Copps or Martin – as either opposition leader or as prime minister – will find the debt load rising annually past a third of annual revenues, a mean challenge and a durable frustration.
What Savoie portrays in a ranging analysis of cause and effects in spending is not pretty. He shows a populace and politicians melded in self-deceits.
Reduced to a scary simplicity, Savoie’s thesis is a shocking equation: A corrupt public equals corrupt politicians.
He demonstrates how and why every grouping which can raise a voice or advance a brief insists on their rightful access to the public purse. And the politicians oblige them (us!) in all their (our!) various interests and roles. Inexorably, the mutual corruption means the cost burdens which are driving Canada to the fate of Argentina.
My lead into The Politics of Public Spending suggests a gloomy, doomsaying study. It’s not. It’s positive, simply because it explains how and why we are so spendthrift, so resistant to frugality. How may a Chretien or even a Brian Mulroney through his finance minister, Michael Wilson, rescue us from drowning in debt? There must be much dismantling of apparatus and a subduing of widespread greed. Before this must come an acute understanding among politicians and their mandarins of what is essentially cupidity and joint cowardice.
Savoie shows us why politicians, Parliament, legislatures, and city councils have become extravagant juggernauts over the last 25 years. What was a widespread respect for balanced budgets is long gone. The partisan reality is that politicians neither resist loud demands for new programs nor show courage and honesty in closing or trimming those in place.
Who is Savoie? A teacher of public administration at the University of Moncton, 43 years old and a long-time student of regional economics. For this study, which sticks closely to the federal budget process, he has interviewed scores of ministers and mandarins, both federal and provincial. His book has four parts: The Process; The Guardians; The Spenders; and Towards an Explanation.
No book or brief in recent years explains so well how the federal budget process works or demonstrates better that here is the core of it all, not in Parliament, not in first ministers’ conferences, not in platforms or policies of the three political parties, not even in the PMO, whatever the demands or influences which come from there or them.
Part II on “the guardians” is rich in incident and anecdote. Of course the durable guardians are the department of finance and treasury board, supplemented off and on by inquisitors from outside and occasional slashers from on high – Pierre Trudeau back from Bonn, Wilson and Mulroney in ’84, earnest about “cuts.”
In brief, the guardians always give way to the spenders who are detailed in Part II. The spenders are: The ministers; the departments; Crown corporations; the provinces and the regions; and, lastly, “the private sector: grabbing with both hands.” Part IV explains where we should assign responsibility for chronic over-spending. It is rough on everybody involved, including the mandarins.
In time, the ideas and examples in Savoie’s book will provide texts for innumerable sermons to the nation from editorialists, academics and CEOs. It’s wistful to think the Chretiens and Martins might detail how they would better guard the treasury than spend what isn’t there. However, their handlers could read Savoie. They could slip quotes like the following into the speeches on how and where Canada under them would be led.
“Bureaucratic politics, broadly speaking, favors the status quo, security of employment and the growth of one’s own budget.”
“When spenders go to the cabinet table they are supported by powerful forces favoring either new spending or the preservation of the status quo. These forces include provincial governments, interest groups, government departments, the private sector, communities and members of Parliament.
“The guardians have nowhere near the same forces working on their side. Other than the threat of tax increases and large deficits, they are often left to their own wits to fend off the spenders.
“Electoral success in Canada demands government spending. Ministers are regarded as strong only if they can deliver projects in their region.”

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, January 17, 1990
ID: 12533118
TAG: 199001170216
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

YOU WIN SOME, YOU LOSE SOME

Few of us who write on public matters and people are so generous or detached as not to be hostile to some we meet or observe. Even when trying to be fair you rejoice when a person you detest is cut down a peg or two, or you wince when he or she gets a boost.
In these terms, this is a two out of three week. Two much-noticed men seem through – Robert Campeau and Harold Ballard. Over on the “wince” side, however, Sheila Copps took the next step in her noisy rise to political heights. She was bold, neat, and never without a diverting phrase as she got her campaign for the Liberal leadership going. It was flawlessly done; even slurs on likely rivals were slick.
A journalist does need some rationality, not just visceral feelings, to explain his distaste. Why think so poorly of this disparate trio?
In my experiences with him, Harold Ballard was mean, spiteful, cheap and dishonest – ever ready to cheat and slight. He demeaned the character or the contributions of anyone unlucky enough to come within his range, including his children. It was ugly to be in his presence when he dealt crudely and temperamentally with those unfortunates who worked for him. He’s been a big contributor to the belittlement of a great Canadian game which needs honest leadership.
My views on Robert Campeau were reached from a far greater distance than those on Ballard. The marvelling which emerged as I was a witness to Campeau’s rise, first as an Ottawa builder, then as assembler of a Canadian real estate empire, began to turn into frustration as he so easily suborned the rules on building heights by colluding with three orders of government in Ottawa. The limits on building levels below and around Parliament Hill were blown away. The majesty of the scene was dwarfed.
Campeau used Marc Lalonde’s zeal to give our French fact a massive physical presence of the federal government in Hull by slipping an almost unconscionable land and lease deal past almost everybody in politics but the auditor general (whose criticisms came too late). Campeau’s status as someone figuratively untouchable by either investigative reporters or by opposition MPs was enhanced by Trudeau’s readiness to be his celebrity guest and companion and the alacrity of Campeau lawyers in threatening libel actions.
Although the federal government put up almost all the money for the huge towers in Hull which Campeau’s construction arm built, his chief contribution in capital or property was merely ownership of a parcel in the large site of the buildings. Campeau parlayed these lots and the federal funding into a lease-own deal which quickly stacked almost $500,000 onto his corporate assets. In turn, these assets became the borrowing base for expansion toward tycoon status in Canada.
When he was rebuffed in a major takeover by traditional financial interests he turned for more gold and glory to the U.S. Both his capital and his confidence had been put together through taking part in the expansion of Ottawa as the seat of the federal government. This began to accelerate greatly in the early 1960s. Subdivisions multiplied like rabbits and office building boomed. Campeau was in both.
At once a big-time operator on entering the U.S., Campeau, hypocritically to some, ironically to others, forsook his well-known taciturnity to sermonize to his countrymen on where Canada had been going wrong, on why he had to come south. It was because we were too given to big government, extravagant government spending, and too many intrusions by government in the private sector. Ah, save us from the wisdom of a genius at battening on us as taxpayers. May his memorial be as the matchless one in levering Grit cupidity in the Trudeau era or as the man who debauched the capital skyline.
Why would a pleasant-faced, hard-working, ambitious young woman such as Sheila Copps be on my baneful list with the likes of Ballard and Campeau? The answer is simple enough.
Copps led and popularized vicious, extravagant conduct in the House of Commons. In the doing she built a large national reputation while lowering the capabilities of the institution, mocking ordinary courtesy and making the leader to whom she makes such a fetish of loyalty into a straw man. John Turner proclaims his love for the House, the glory of Parliament, and on and on. Yet he sat mute, seeming to be cowed by the raw gall and racket of Copps and several other new MPs, as they ran wild with rancorous abuse after Brian Mulroney’s victory in 1984. They destroyed a weak Speaker, abetted indirectly by a cabinet which for too long responded weakly to the exaggerated viciousness of Copps, et al.
Throughout her halcyon days in befouling the daily question period Copps radiated the innocence and determination of a Joan of Arc. France, immortal France justified Joan. Liberal partisanship justified Copps.
Young MPs who survive sometimes become wiser. One of Copps’ buddies in the Rat Pack, Don Boudria, is already a most thorough-going, able MP. Another, John Nunziata, has steadied and matured into a much clearer thinker.
Perhaps Copps is changing too. Could she become less partisan and more fair? Should I drop her from my baneful list? Monday she gave omens. As Grit leader she would back Meech, one of Mulroney’s big deals. And she won’t promise if PM to rip up his free trade agreement with the U.S.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, January 15, 1990
ID: 12532538
TAG: 199001150140
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 12
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

GRITS STICKING TO THE CENTRE

Items. It’s neither a personal nor a Liberal Party tragedy that Lloyd Axworthy is finding his leadership bid hard but it does cast a blight on hopes there was a national swing back to left-wing, nationalistic policies.
Why the blight? In fertility and scope of policy ideas Axworthy shames the favorites, Jean Chretien and Paul Martin, Jr. He is unequivocally for repealing the FTA and abandoning Meech. He wants more roles for Crown corporations, not their privatization. He would thoroughly detach us from dependence on or support of American foreign policy aims and global arrangements. He’s had almost as much experience in politics and government as Chretien (Martin’s had none) and is a steadier parliamentary performer.
What’s it say that the Martin and Chretien campaigns are rich, that even a shrilly know-nothing like Sheila Copps is filling her coffers, but donations for the Manitoban are slow.
First, it means that any large, ordinary membership of Liberals is not really engaged for the contest. This is a “top down” campaign. Most of the funding is coming, from neither party members nor party riding associations but to two elite cadres backed by corporations and wealthy individuals. Chretien and Martin are synonymous with corporations and wealth.
Second, the Axworthy dilemma has a parallel with what was revealed in the the NDP leadership race and its conclusion. Steven Langdon was the aspirant most dedicated and informed in matters of policy. He was the most leftist and nationalistic candidate. He made by far the best convention address but he ran third. And so vigorous socialism or, phrasing it differently, the causes of the liberally-minded, seem in eclipse, even in the NDP.
In none of the major parties is there a surge of vigorous nationalism or great enthusiasm for government intervention in the economy. This is not what one might take from the long reign of uproar damning the fiscal, trade, welfare, and privatization programs of the Mulroney government. The noise from a host of interest groups and in Parliament from the opposition would suggest the people must want more nationalism, more assertiveness by the federal government in the economy and with the provinces. If they do, the cases of Axworthy and Langdon belie it.
It seems neither the Liberals nor the New Democrats will be far from the centre of politics, going towards the next election. There isn’t a trend to the left which is scented even by the avowed party of the left. In the Liberal scenario, the business and financial interests in the country won’t stake candidates who are certainly of the left. And the party won’t limit spending so that business-financial backing becomes irrelevant.
This scenario of centrist politics also enhances what we’ve had much of already: leaders, leaders, leaders. Intense, narginal differentiation between leaders. Not much in debate over intentions in office. Already, 1992 is shaping to choices for most us between Brian and Jean or Paul and Audrey.

Audrey McLaughln has so far made the transition from candidate to NDP leader without accidents and has shown grace, if not brilliance, in public performances, and there are good assurances caucus rifts are mending.
Ed Broadbent has slipped away rather neatly and quietly to a snug slot in the extended federal bureaucracy.
Lorne Nystrom has won acquittal from shop-lifting charges, dousing major political difficulties, however minor the alleged crimes were.
And the prospects in the year ahead for power for provincial New Democrats in Saskatchewan in particular, but also in B.C., are excellent (under Roy Romanow and Mike Harcourt).
All this bodes fair for the NDP. And from those within the NDP ship with whom I’ve spoken the picture is far more seemly and positive than seemed possible in the rueful run-up to the convention.
However – and it’s a significant ”however” – over among candid Tories and Liberals there has been even further discounting of the New Democrats than emerged after their relatively bad electoral results in 1988. The common view of rivals is that Broadbent is an enormous loss, McLaughlin a further debit because the so-called gender factor is far more media jazz than voting booth reality.
Tory strategists are wondering how they might pump up the NDP. As they see, with McLaughlin, the NDP is now a minor alternative, thus tipping even more voters to the Liberals.
The NDP needs performances of exceptional energy and craft in Parliament the rest of the year, plus the winning of the two provinces where the chances are good.

Before Christmas I expressed the view more would unfold on the massacre of the female students in Montreal at the engineering school than the simple horror of a youth, known as Marc Lepine or Gamil Garbi, who hated women so much he bought a rifle, loaded up, and took revenge by murdering 14 women and wounding more, then killing himself.
At least the Montreal police has set a team to developing a cradle-to-the-grave profile of Lepine-Garbi. There are indications CSIS and some international security forces are deep into the case, working on the whereabouts and activities of Gamil’s father, Rashid Garbi. It’s my hunch this case, in angles and controversy will come to be something like the Dallas killing of John Kennedy.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, January 14, 1990
ID: 12532377
TAG: 199001140215
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
PAGE: C6
COLUMN: In Ottawa
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

REDRESSING OUR HISTORY

News from a group of Italian Canadians may mean just a tiny take from the public purse. However, their case for redress should give taxpayers pause to ask a broad question: Where is our emergent penchant for redressing our history taking us?
Redress is a touchy topic. Thus far most argument on redress has swung around ethnicity, so anyone who decries redress by government is readily tagged a bigot.
Aside from providing the money, or difficulties over who merits redress (e.g., to what generation of descendants), we soon must ponder the emotional drain on our national or community psyche from the working out publicly of so many burdens of guilty feeling, in particular because of environmentalism.
The factor of public guilt is evident in an obvious roster of global and national guilts. Some particular guilts are searing and inescapable. Take the Holocaust. Take the aborigines. But guilt as a phenomenon which politics must assuage is rarely talked about as a pervasive, general issue. This must change because the imperatives of the environment are opening a fresh frontier for guilt and redress.
What we and those before us have done to scar landscape, foul waters, jeopardize health and eliminate resources is becoming the overriding guilt for the decades ahead.
Who’s to pay for redress, make right the wrongs? What government? What corporations? Is it mostly for courts, or for legislatures?
We must begin pushing beyond our present obsession with big annual deficits and the scary scale of carrying charges for our debts to reckoning the enormous costs we face in redressing even modestly what’s been done to our lands and waters.
All right! That’s magisterial and high-flown. Let’s turn to recent cases where the government has decided on redress or is bid to it by public campaigns of the injured or their relicts.
By far the most costly, certainly the one requiring more spending in perpetuity is for past abuse of the rights and values of Indians and Inuit. “We” pre-empted “their” lands. We scorned their culture while proselytizing them for ours.
Only three years ago the Mulroney government, prompted by the women’s movement, passed a law enabling recapture of status as an “official” native to many of full or partial native stock.
The prospect of getting onto band rolls has brought more applicants (and higher costs) than foreseen. Ottawa has legislated thousands more official Indians, and bands are demanding and getting more federal money for their expanded needs.
Total federal spending on natives is now well over $3 billion a year. The boost from this latest redress will add about about 15% to the annual bill once the program is complete. Roughly, the added cost to taxpayers will index up from about $400 million a year.
During the campaign of redress for native women no one in electoral politics talked cost to the taxpayers. The view is obvious: A nation should not put dollar amounts on fairness and justice.
A like distaste for talking cost prevailed during the campaign for redress to those of Japanese stock (some 22,000) who were removed from the B.C. coast under the authority of federal laws in 1942, although a figure of $21,000 was eventually set for each one affected who is still alive. It demeaned the redress to discuss its costs. The last estimate is for about $325 million, with a mere $1 million forever for foundations, etc.
The redress for the Japanese in World War II makes inevitable like redress for others wronged by internment or loss of work or harm to repute such as many Italians, Ukrainians and Germans.
Although most of the one million Canadians in our military in World War II volunteered, some 100,000 were conscripts. They were wrenched from homes and jobs, drilled and transported, forced under military law and discipline against their choice. They suffered much public scorn as “zombies.” Although this brutal conscription was legally done, the hindsight humanity of a Canada now more caring, indicates a case for redress as exceptional as that for Japanese, Italian and German Canadians.
Perhaps Chinese Canadians have the best case for redress. Over decades each Chinese immigrant paid a “head tax.” Their redress will draw from the treasury on a scale to match that of the Japanese because of decades of compound interest.
Wrongs. Guilt. Redress. Think about their connection; particularly because of environmentalism.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, January 12, 1990
ID: 12531907
TAG: 199001120196
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

WHAT’S OSTRY UP TO NOW?

Few Canadians get an essay printed in the New York Times. It’s also rare for an Ontario government institution to take full-page ads in big dailies to tout itself.
The signal to Hill veterans that Bernard Ostry still perks was his article in the Times and the sprawling ad for TVO two days later in the Star and the Globe.
At once I began wondering: What’s Bernard after?
Ostry, now almost 63, has been chairman of TVOntario for almost five years – a long stay in one role for him. His essay in the Times is a popularization of speeches and articles he’s been offering some Canadian groups for several years. He calls for a world organization to save and extend “public broadcasting,” not least in Canada and the U.S.
The TVO chief is bolder than even Premier David Peterson might be in arguing the urgency of his case. He insists that the reign of market forces in Canada “has already delivered her into cultural bondage, to the point where Canadian voices are drowned out of their own air. Years experiment with regulation have proved to be totally ineffective in fostering national and regional culture.”
Is Bernard planning a world role for his twilight years as a public servant? So it would seem. He has also been giving speeches and writing on another grand theme that could presage a role as chief commissioner for a royal inquiry on the public service. Bernard is much disturbed at the widespread denigration by politicians and journalists of those who serve governmental institutions. Canada has “over-politicized” its mandarinates. We must redefine roles of officials and politicians. We must regain the high quality in ethics and functions of an able, self-disinterested public service.
These may be uncommon, open themes for most provincial servants but not for Bernard Ostry. What a career he’s blazed since a childhood in Flin Flon of the Dirty ’30s. He denies the myth our public officials lead dull or anonymous lives.
Ostry’s father became a successful merchant in the mining town of Flin Flon and sent his son to university in Winnipeg where, in 1948 at 21, he gained his only degree, a BA.
Then Bernard spent a decade in Britain, studying, writing, and seeking a doctorate in history. In this last he failed, one assumes because of other activities, such as sharing in a critical biographical book, The Age of Mackenzie King, with a former aide to King, historian Harry Ferns.
Before he was 25 Ostry was a friend and adviser to a most controversial, international diplomat – Krishna Menon of India. Some years ago Ostry told a Globe reporter he drafted for Menon the resolution India put before the UN which became the basis for the settlement of the Korean war.
The Ferns-Ostry book on King was widely seen by senior Liberals as a hatchet job, which explains why Bernard was tagged as a Tory when he first came to Ottawa and to public attention after John Diefenbaker’s ’58 landslide swept the Grits aside.
He gained his first repute as an enthusiast for the Commonwealth. His first big post here was as secretary-treasurer of the Social Science and Humanities Research Councils. He also began hosting a public affairs TV show on Ottawa’s CBC station. In 1963, as the Grits regained office, Bernard began a five-year run as supervisor of CBC’s public affairs. After the national uproar created by the decision of the CBC brass to curb Pat Watson, Laurier Lapierre, et al, of the This Hour Has Seven Days show, Ostry was said to have lobbied hard for the producers with the cabinet.
Bernard and his spouse, Dr. Sylvia Ostry, a labor economist, became celebrities in political Ottawa in the early ’60s as their salons were filled with front-line MPs of all parties. Such socializing helped Bernard transit, first to neutrality, then to recognition as a liberally minded intellectual. By 1963 and the Liberals’ recapture of power his Tory tag was gone, and he and his wife had a unique cachet with journalists, MPs, and mandarins. Thus few were shocked when Bernard became “chief consultant” and a member of the Pierre Trudeau task force on information out of which came that majestic enterprise, Information Canada.
Bernard formally became a federal servant in 1970, coming in high as assistant undersecretary of state (citizenship). If press stories from him are just, he authored and moved several national policies into place such as multiculturalism and an enveloping corporation for the national museums. In implementing the last idea Bernard became a deputy-minister. Later he became deputy minister for communications which enabled him to promote that wonderful Canadian technology known as Teleidon.
In 1972 Sylvia Ostry also won deputy minister ranking from Trudeau. When she moved to Paris in 1980 to head economic research for the OECD her spouse joined her for over a year, functioning as “special adviser” on telecommunications in Europe for the federal government. Bernard came back to Canada in 1981 to serve the Bill Davis government at Queen’s Park as a deputy minister. Before he was posted to the TVO task four years later he was, first, deputy minister for industry, then for citizenship and culture.
Now Ostry wants a fresh challenge. Who will give it? UNESCO? Premier Peterson? Brian Mulroney? Pat Watson? False modesty has not been a failing of this “ethnic westerner.” It shouldn’t be ours. Figure Bernard for a new job.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, January 10, 1990
ID: 12531401
TAG: 199001100195
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

IMMIGRATION’S UNSUNG HERO

Surely the good Lord knows little glory flows from the business of immigration. The politicians do. Those who administer immigration are unenvied and uncherished.
Ask any Ottawa MP. He or she will tell you that heading the immigration ministry has become as undesirable as the familiar federal quagmire, Indian affairs.
Personal tragedies and much misery strew the course of Canadian immigration. There have been hunger strikes, suicides, protest marches, vigils and picketing – almost always accompanied by choruses of indignation from the truly liberally minded. Canada is rife with halo wearers – keepers of their global sisters and brothers. Given the literal tens of millions who want out of very poor or riven countries to a spacious one with high living standards, there will never be enough – indeed, never very much – a single country through its government can do to erase much of such misery.
In immigration, as with native affairs, those in charge of executing our policies, whether politician or bureaucrat, are the villains or the clods in the repetitious sagas as the thousands press at the narrow gates to the Canadian heaven, or if they’ve sneaked in, try to avert expulsion. The media have not made any of our gatekeepers popular or even nice. There seemed to me, however, to be somewhat of a “Horatio at the bridge” in a current documentary film, Who Gets In.
After replaying the tape of this National Film Board production I could pick out such a person. It is not Barbara McDougall, the responsible minister. It is not the vociferous Mendel Green, a Toronto lawyer who appears putting the case for entry from Hong Kong of a wealthy would-be-Canadian.
The hero of the film (to this viewer) is a rank and file immigration bureaucrat named Mike Molloy. Sitting in a modest office in Nairobi, he speaks plainly about the job he has been doing for two decades for his department and Canada.
For Molloy his task is simplicity itself. When confronted with the questions: Who is in charge of Canadian borders; and who decides about who should and should not be allowed to settle in Canada, he shoulders the task. Simply, he is selecting “good” people and trying to keep out the “rascals.”
His criterion for this difficult task flows from an answer to a plain question: What does it take to be a Canadian?
This summarizes the criterion: As a minimum, the immigrant has to be acceptable to the neighborhood in which he or she is to settle. Canada needs more immigrants but it is simply not ready for most of the three million African refugees. Our demographic need has to be filled from other sources. Further, most of the African candidates would be ill-served by being transplanted to living and working in Canada.
This common sense approach of Molloy shines out from the film because the director of the documentary, Toronto filmmaker Barry Greenwald, has decided to set it and the African scenario in contrast with our recent immigration activities in Hong Kong. The result is a caricature; it simply ignores so many other source countries for emigrants to Canada.
The contrast achieved is dramatic to grotesqueness. First Greenwald parades in front of us frightened African applicants for refugee status, who were almost invariably refused admission. We hear through the monotone whine of the narrator, Ann Medina, that Molloy, with three million to choose from, accepts only 300. Three hundred!
Then Greenwald turns the camera’s eye to the lush scenery and glitzy modernity of Hong Kong to show opulent candidates for Canada impressing our immigration officers with their bank balances
Canada’s future is here, intones Medina. She quotes with tones of the old March of Time newsreels some statistics to shock us. Three Canadian officers serving the whole of Africa; 13 officers serving the few, rich square miles of Hong Kong. Obviously, she concludes, the federal government hopes that those who had created the economic miracle in Hong Kong will create another one in Canada!
The documentary concludes strongly: Class, money and privilege are the qualifications one needs to be chosen for Canada; those without it remain where they are.
“The truth is,” Medina hammers, “most of Canada’s immigrant ancestors wouldn’t get in today . . . and the irony is, most Canadians wouldn’t either.”
This columnist finds much distasteful and fatuous in the Tory entrepreneurial immigration policy which is being exploited so much out of Hong Kong. Nevertheless, the oversimplifications in this NFB film are irresponsible. Just take the facts. Last year Canada admitted 27,000 refugees. The investor and business category program admitted just 3,600 individuals.
Surely the point man for our immigration program, one Mike Molloy, better understands the preferences of most of us on immigration. And his role, to use the corniest of cliches, affects what Canada is all about; where we want Canada to go. Canadians may be “ill-informed” on immigration policy and practices. The liberally minded insist we are whenever they are confronted with public opinion polls on our preferences in immigration. And they gird to confront “the racists.”
Likewise, anyone with a good memory knows the NFB could never make a film on social matters which clearly approved anything disapproved by the liberally minded. So Mike Molloy is an unsung hero in Who Gets In.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Monday, January 08, 1990
ID: 12530863
TAG: 199001080134
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 12
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

CLC CHIEF HAS THANKLESS TASK

That CLC job. In 1956 the Canadian Labor Congress (CLC) was created, as was its presidency. Putting it colloquially, the presidency is a god-awful job. The fifth president, like the others, has found this out.
Only the first president, Claude Jodoin (1956-1967), was honored within union ranks and outside in the nation generally after a few years in the office, but even Jodoin, as he faded out of the office because of a stroke, had wolves baying at him for being over-diplomatic and not tough enough.
Today’s CLC president, Shirley Carr (1986- ), has her anvil chorus, led by the celebrity unionist, Bob White. Nevertheless, she should retain her role at the coming CLC biennial convention. She’s proven inadequate in expression, thought and public personality but if she won’t leave quietly someone prominent in some big union must face her in an unprecedented vote at the convention. Say White, or John Fryer or Gordon Wilson. Such a contest might cause a discord fatal for a far from well-knit mix of forces. The CLC is not robust like a few of the big unions in it, and not all the big unions are brotherly nd sisterly.
Is it the nature and makeup of the CLC or the lack of abilities in those who’ve headed it which make the presidency seem so difficult? It’s arguable the presidency is ruination because of the gulf between the importance the job seems to have and the slight powers at a CLC president’s disposal.
The CLC has not had many continuous, outside observers in the media or the academe since its creation who appreciate it is more show than substance. A lot of the observers have been critical, even hostile. They’ve expected too much from a disjointed institution that is rather a central mailing address than a power centre. Fortunately, good trade unionism depends little on the CLC, and the CLC presidents have not been bad people but weak as public personages.
Let’s sketch them: Jodoin, 1956-67; Donald MacDonld, 1967-74; Joe Morris, 1974-78; Dennis McDermott, 1978-86; Shirley Carr, 1986- .
Jodoin was the only one who had any higher education, and both he and MacDonald had served in provincial legislatures in the ’40s. Jodoin came out of the garment workers’ unions of Montreal; MacDonald out of the mineworkers’ union in Cape Breton; Morris out of the International Woodworkers’ Union (IWA); McDermott out of the United Autoworkers, now the CAW under Bob White; and Carr out of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
The various union origins of the presidents illustrates the “umbrella” quality of the CLC and the panellings in the umbrella. That White recently converted the union which McDermott had led from an “international” into a “Canadian” one or that Carr came to high offices in the CLC out of CUPE, the first monster all-Canadian union, reminds us of the big lurch in unionism here during the CLC’s 34 years. Sometime in the early ’70s the balance in numbers of unionists and in major influences on union attitudes tilted from the “internationals” (read American unions) to “Canadian” unions. (Such ascendant Canadianism followed straight from Mike Pearson’s decision as prime minister in the mid-’60s to open up unionization for the federal bureaucracy.)
Outside of the CLC’s member unions there are many others, and not only in Quebec. Although many Canadians think Shirley Carr sounds off for all Canadians who belong to unions, she does not. Also, most people don’t realize that as head of the CLC she’s more like a governor general than prime minister. More honor; tiny powers. More in research and petty co-ordination than in decision-making. Also, the CLC has two layers of panels: one of provincial and regional segments; the other of separate, sometimes rival, unions.
For all the attention from the media a CLC president can generate, his or her power with member unions or federations is slight. This is prime in understanding why four CLC presidents in a row have not become major figures of influence, let alone of power, within either unionism or with Canadians as a whole.
Influence, at moments, may become as vital in public life as power but it’s nebulous. Influence rests so much on ability of expression and analysis from which flow clear, perhaps pungent, even memorable, remarks. It’s been so very, very long since anyone has heard common sense and intelligence from a CLC president.
Since Jodoin, the CLC presidency has had four of the most inadequate speakers you could wish on your enemy. While Donald MacDonald could speak in sentences, his icy aloofness and narrow range of views made him an unsympathetic, regrettable president. Joe Morris was a plain, honest thinker but almost unable to communicate through speech. After such a pair, much was hoped for McDermott. He’d been a largely Metro-based, zesty, gregarious, talkative fellow. At the CLC he threw off his reputation and stature with political exaggerations and challenges. He seized and screwed the role of confronting and demeaning the prime minister of the day. Shirley Carr continued these penchants with even more vapidity of content than McDermott. She was picked largely because she was a woman, was in place as secretary-treasurer of the CLC, and a top official of the biggest union.
The concensus of those who chose Carr four years ago has fallen apart. It’s messy to vote her out. A successor should be either of two rarities: someone who’s a superb speaker, or one who’ll be quiet most of the time. Shirley Carr can be neither.
The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1990, SunMedia Corp.

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