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Doug’s Columns 1991 « Douglas Fisher



Doug’s Columns 1991

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, December 29, 1991
ID: 12008109
TAG: 199112290144
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
COLUMN: Backgrounder


It’s true a lot of us are Jeremiahs, braying of current and pending disaster. We should lighten up. In comparative, global terms we’re not yet broken or even desperate, but however cataclysmic events may be elsewhere we shall stay fixed through the next year on our own dilemmas – disunity and depression. And on these two a serious citizen will find it hard to be jolly.
For Canada the advent of 1991 was far from pretty. The Meech failure and the Mohawk barriers at Oka had largely crocked 1990, but we seemed to have time, constitutionally speaking, and most economic augurs were optimistic.
The ensuing year has been chastening. A long depressed economy is compounding fears that have been deepening because of such antic enterprises in politics as the Spicer Commission, the Allaire report, the Belanger-Campeau report and the Dobbie-Castonguay fiasco. The shift has been from an uneasy possibility to a fair likelihood our country may split apart in 1992 or 1993.
Take one of the appraisals of 1991 offered on television by the prime minister. Brian Mulroney’s sketch of the government’s achievements began with its successful participation in the Gulf war, then turned to two bills moved by his minister of justice, one proposing a new “rape shield” law, the other making regulations stiffer on buying and owning firearms. This is sad stuff.
Almost as frustrating were the public remarks the PM made after he adjourned the pre-Christmas gathering of first ministers (minus Premier Robert Bourassa). He disgorged a prepared swatch of statistics which demonstrated:
1) The economy is not in chaos or further decline;
2) Governments in Canada bear such gross debts and interest burdens they haven’t scope to spend back to prosperity;
3) His government has slashed interest rates, wrestled down inflation and would actually have a surplus were it not for the legacy of huge interest payments left by the profligate, prior government.
At least he didn’t give us an exposition of his government’s recent “prosperity initiative” by Michael Wilson and Bernie Valcourt or repeat his earlier scorn for the borrow-and-spend policy of the NDP government in Ontario.
But this has already become a jeremiad (i.e., a doleful complaint) on Mulroney, and he himself confronted us with it as an issue in response this week to a CBC questioner. Would the people ever trust him again? He said “yes” and then:
“Right now I’m being compared to perfection. I can’t win an election running against perfection. But when you issue a writ, then I’m not running against perfection, I’m running against Mr. Chretien and Ms. McLaughlin, and Canadians are going to have to decide not between me and perfection but between me and those two.”
The response shows sense, and also the open cunning we expect for both the man and our politics.
Mulroney no longer has a popular mandate to lead Canada. That faded away in 1990. But he has a legal mandate which runs into 1993 or until he fails to hold the confidence of the House of Commons. He should hold that confidence, at least until a referendum campaign in Quebec on sovereignty gets under way.
There’s a good, hypothetical question here for Canadians. Given the depth of the disillusion with his government, would it not be best for Mulroney to issue a writ for a federal election very soon?
We are sure he won’t do this, but should he? Make us face the choice of himself or Chretien or McLaughlin or Bouchard or Manning?
Not only should he do so, whatever the consequence – and a minority government seems certain – it would force forward and simplify questions on both Quebec and the economy.
On the first count, of the Constitution, we now have far more issues and complexities in solutions that have been offered than we had in the Meech accord.
On the second count of the economy, the brute choice has become more obvious and an election would probably determine it. The polarities are the Tory-Reform position and the Liberal-NDP one: Continuing spending restraint or major pump-priming through more spending and tax cuts, plus higher, broader welfare.
And there are two other economic programs hanging over our heads that a federal election would declare upon, simply because the parties’ differences give us the choices. Should Canada stay in or get out of the free trade agreement with the U.S.? And should the GST be abandoned or drastically curtailed?
One doesn’t readily advocate anything so unlikely as an immediate election that must be called by a most unpopular prime minister who’s banking on the two years he has left of his legal mandate.
Let me sketch the actors and their roles to support the idea of an election this winter.
First, remember we are going into the year in which Quebecers have been promised by a law a chance to choose their future (and it’s about this that the rest of us, including Mulroney, are fretting most and skirmishing so unfruitfully with committees and conferences and papers.)
LEADERSHIP: The PM is as pervasively unpopular, if not more so, than any other in modern times. He doesn’t have an obvious successor in his party except for a former prime minister who was found wanting and scorned years ago.
The PM has an unwieldy cabinet, so undistinguished it is neither hated nor cherished, even in the capital. Collectively, or taking a half dozen or so ministers individually, the cabinet is not a disaster but it will be instantly forgotten by most Canadians when gone.
In past times many have had faith in the integrity and wisdom of our senior bureaucracy, but such feelings have faded away. The current mandarins, beyond John Crow of the Bank of Canada, are ciphers to the public. We simply cannot count on them for new policies and ideas.
The federal mandarinate is not the basis on which we pin our prospects, any more than any provincial mandarinate, even though taken together they make a mass of formidable expertise. We do know the PM’s own cadre is neither brilliant nor very effective.
One must agree with Mulroney that the leaders of the other federal parties and their likely or possible shadow cabinets are not prepossessing or exciting but at least they would be different and no worse than what they would replace. They are alternatives to the detested Mulroney and his crew.
THE PREMIERS: Provincial elections this year have stabilized the cast of the premiers fairly well for at least two years. Bourassa of Quebec is unique, not just because he has chosen isolation since Meech failed. Whoever the PM is, he must be backed by the other premiers in coming to Bourassa with an offer that lets him resolve the situation he has created or been forced into by the Quebecois.
Is there a rallying leader amongst the premiers? A constitutional savior? None of the premiers, nor any pair or trio of them, seems to have the force to do any better than Mulroney has in converting Bourassa’s stand for a new constitutional deal into a resolution acceptable to Canadians outside Quebec.
Perhaps the best hope for leadership from the first ministers – perhaps more on unity than the economy -lies in an NDP axis of Rae-Harcourt-Romanow but surely they would have a better chance with a prime minister other than Mulroney.
One cannot pass from leaders to institutions for the year ahead without drawing attention to the situation of Bourassa. Insofar as he may be a federalist, he faces within his realm two very considerable opponents in Jacques Parizeau of the PQ and Lucien Bouchard of the BQ, each of whom has as much or more of a popular following in the province than Bourassa and far more than either Mulroney, Chretien or McLaughlin.
PARLIAMENT: This is a bad Parliament. Taken one by one or by regional groupings like the West or the Maritimes, the House and the Senate seem as good or better than most recent ones but at work it’s a bust on the big things and always is petty with partisanship (see Joe Clark and his “renewal of Canada” committee).
Perhaps worse than the mindless partisan mistrust, few MPs bother to listen to each other. While they put much time and industry in committee hearings (some 40 have been active in 1991) the results are slight because the system has so sequestered the party leaders and the ministry from Parliament.
Also, we do badly at bridging partisan positions. We fail at attaining concerted policies. A new Parliament might not turn out much better but it could hardly be worse, and, again, it would be fresh and much different in composition.
Let me reduce the politics of 1992 to this.
The twin dilemmas of disunity and depression are so grim and the distrust of Mulroney so deep that we need a new Parliament bringing a new or reconfirmed prime minister.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, December 27, 1991
ID: 12841598
TAG: 199112270159
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
COLUMN: Fisher Report


Last week a lower-level employee of Parliament grumped to me that the place was “as bad as ever” with patronage and petty graft. I said that in days of yore such stuff had largely been within the ambit of MPs on the government side, and in my time most had been Grits. Even today with a Tory government, there’s only one such Tory MP – Paul Dick, minister of supply and services.
I asked the griever if there was a Dick regime of graft? He hesitated. He didn’t know that but day by day he saw extravagance, waste, rackets and indulgence of absenteeism. (We spend some $200 million a year on Parliament.)
Next day while shopping I bumped into the aforesaid minister, Dick. He blinked when I told him this employee’s opinions, and after a moment countered: The Hill wasn’t his bailiwick; what went on there was not of his doing; he was not into jobs or contracts relating to the Hill. However, he wouldn’t say the man was lying. He’d come to realize the most pervasive federal patronage was institutional, i.e., bureaucratic rather than practised by the political parties. Then his face lit up.
“Let me tell you,” said Dick, “what I’ve just got through cabinet. No resistance there but there sure was in getting it to the table.”
His achievement is that henceforth every contract for which the department solicits bids is registered on computer files which will be accessible to all. Included will be the data on the bids such as the price and the particulars on the bidders.
“It may not seem revolutionary,” said Dick, “but I think it is.”

The day after its crash in Manitoba on Nov. 7, the Dobbie-Castonguay committee on the Constitution was to have held hearings in Thunder Bay. Joe Comuzzi, the Liberal MP for Thunder Bay-Nipigon had arranged for many witnesses. He was moved by their disappointment to organize an unofficial hearing on the constitutional proposals under the aegis of the Multicultural Association of Thunder Bay. Over 30 groups and individuals made presentations and Comuzzi has published a synthesis.
It summarizes the main themes of the day and a number of quotations from remarks.
Firstly, the gathering was unimpressed with the constitutional proposals. They were too complex and very short on definitions of terms. The Constitution should emphasize individual rights; here were too many demands for community rights. Further, the government doesn’t have a mandate to change the Constitution, making a national referendum an imperative before any changes are made.
Quebec was already distinct through language, culture and the civil code. Any additional power given to any province must be given to all provinces. Public funds should not be used to sustain individual ethnic cultures.
The Official Languages Act is “the cause of tension, confusion and conflict in our society.” The Quebecois have the right to their own language “but they have only to support and maintain it.”
Blunt stuff! And so were most of the remarks, including this one from a Thunder Bay alderman, Evelyn Dodds:
“We are not a bilingual nation and no amount of legislation will make us a bilingual nation.”
Does the name “Evelyn Dodds” ring a bell?
And did you know that on Parliament Hill MP Comuzzi is in caucus Coventry?
Comuzzi’s status as a cipher, ignored within the caucus, followed his refusal last winter to accept a press release handed him by Jean Chretien’s chief handler, Eddie Goldenberg. It would have had Comuzzi repudiate remarks made to his riding association about official bilingualism. He had said he found so much dissatisfaction with the policy among his people he thought it time for an independent review of bilingualism’s effects and worth. When such remarks to his membership ran as a story “on the wire” it became a sensation for his leader’s cadre, among whom official bilingualism stands sacrosanct.
Now to Dodds. For a few years she was a dominating personality in school board politics – sharp-tongued, highly opinionated and persistent. Four years ago she was a losing Tory candidate in the provincial election.
Some locals credit her as being the main catalyst of public attitudes which two years ago brought the passage of a motion by city council that rejected bilingualism. It was similar to the motion by the Sault Ste. Marie council that so agitated both official Ottawa and many Quebecers.
Recently Dodds has found the Reform Party more congenial than the Progressive Conservative party. Socialism is anathema to her and she’s formidable at irritating New Democrats. And she has, causing the problem Premier Bob Rae has not resolved: What to do with Shelley Martel, the cabinet minister who lied about a Sudbury doctor’s billings.
Martel was provoked into this instant allegation by Dodds. It came in a fierce, sharp argument that flared on the sidelines of a Thunder Bay appearance by Martel.
The rest of Canada, including Quebec, is likely to hear much more of Dodds. As for Comuzzi, though unacceptable to the Goldenbergs, he’s cherished in Thunder Bay.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, December 22, 1991
ID: 12841121
TAG: 199112220171
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
COLUMN: Fisher Report


“What’s your wish for Christmas?” Surely you’ve heard the question every year on TV’s “streeters,” those people-on-the-street items with unknown but somehow familiar characters.
In a streeter last night, a few who spoke to the camera talked of gifts like a sports car or a new home but most wished for intangibles like peace and an end to wars or hoped for more jobs. Banal the streeters may be but the wish theme got to me. What do I wish for Christmas?
Simply, for my country to stay together. Naturally such a wish has a long preface. The chances of staying together seem less than even.
One grievance has worked into my second Christmas wish, one that explains why we are crocking ourselves. My corollary wish for an end to blame. May we end the ransacking of our history for those to blame.
Our predicament has some parallels with the shock waves of confusion and mourning that have been rolling out of and over Gorbachev’s USSR. So much of the discrediting of communism has come as the people have learned the awful scope of the perversions and lies of their history, a core factor in Stalinism.
Why are we so cynical now, so short on optimism, so scathing about those who went before us, so righteously condemning of the failures in our past and present?
A clear reason is disgust with what we are and what we have done. Like the Russians, although more selectively, our history is being examined and the results used to lay blame for all inadequacies, real or imaginable.
Naturally, blaming has spooked our politicians. On Thursday evening Premier Don Getty responded to a reporter’s question with “There you go . . . typically negative!”
Unlike our neighbors we’ve never been dedicated to expectations and enthusiasms, to what Lewis Lapham calls “the emotion of being American.” We’ve been rejecting our past without working up good expectations. We don’t find much to enthuse over in our history.
Not long ago, Michael Bliss, one of our better historians, lamented that “In the welter of limited histories, the history of Canada has been lost.”
It would not matter so much, argued Bliss, that we no longer have historians who are “interpreters of the evolution of our public community if others had stepped in to fill the breach.” But they have not. We are loaded with highly qualified experts, e.g., in law, economics, sociology, political science and public administration, but they are narrow and without broad perspectives.
Our history is being reworked for blame. It has become tales of discredit. Abuse! Harassment! Discrimination! Neglect!
We’re into orgies of self-flagellation over our past.
Take the grossness symbolized by a redneck town like The Pas where Indian girls are raped and murdered. We have pandered to gun-loving brutes who wipe out animals and birds and, of course, girls and women.
For decades, amoral, greedy corporations, many of them foreign, have destroyed our virgin forests, ruined our watersheds, even devastated the holy places of the native people.
We have been cruel to most of our ethnics – Italians, Galicians, Japanese, Chinese, Pakistanis. Our visible minorities have met bias or cold indifference. So have our gays and lesbians.
Sexual harassment has been endemic. Our immigration history is one of viciousness and lack of grace. We have been callous about refugees.
Our politicians and businessmen have subordinated us to an alien, popular culture which worships the market and conspicuous individualism.
Mean-minded, white Protestant males seem to have been the worst villains, in particular those who’ve been our political mandarins.
The blaming is historical. While encyclopedic in range, it’s particular. And so too many of us have become ashamed of what we were. It isn’t correct – a dread word now – to be pleased with what we have. I wish we would give up the blaming.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, December 20, 1991
ID: 12840871
TAG: 199112200105
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
COLUMN: Fisher Report


Joey Smallwood and Ged Baldwin, an odd pairing. Because these elderly men died the same week it is tempting but unfair to them to contrast their characters and political careers side by side.
Smallwood, a premier for 22 years (1949-1971) will be in every general text of Canadian history; Baldwin, a mere MP for 22 years (1958-1980) will make a paragraph, or perhaps a footnote, in books on the reading list for Pol. Sci. 100 as the parliamentarian most persistent in popularizing freedom-of-information and what became access rights and processes.
I never met a politician of either the Ottawa or the Newfoundland sort who personally liked Smallwood nor a single MP who disliked Baldwin. Both were respected and admired, the one for bold leadership, fascinating speech and tricky argument, the other for common sense and fairness which made Parliament a better working place, particularly in years as House leader for the Tories under Bob Stanfield.
Both Baldwin and Smallwood had a long view. They were pleasantly obsessed with history or from whence came communities and attitudes in their parts of Canada, i.e., the Peace River country and the Rock. In retirement from active politics each set out to write about their obsession, Smallwood typically choosing an encyclopedic way, Baldwin an anecdotal one (see Frontier Justice published in 1987).
Surely most senior citizens of Canada who are not Newfoundland-born have at times swung from chuckles to curses at the contribution Newfoundlanders make to our public life, ever since Smallwood, abetted but not dominated by Jack Pickersgill, his prime sponsor in Ottawa, brought us a new province, plus a wonderful rowdiness in speech and argument. It’s likely our present problems would be simpler if we had never gotten Newfoundland – if it had stayed alone or swung to the States.
On the other hand we’d have been even duller and less various without the Smallwoods, Crosbies, Peckfords and Wells. Smallwood adopted Grit partisanship with rambunctiousness and engrained it through his long regime in Newfoundland. Newfoundland MPs brought it, and its contrary partisanship, back to the House of Commons.
Only last month a few sideliners like me on Parliament Hill were lamenting the rarity of good speeches and compelling humor. We got to exceptions, those who did entertain or enrage or pick up the pace. Yes, there were a few not from Newfoundland but very few – John Rodriguez and Dave Barrett of the NDP, Harvie Andre from Alberta, Pat Nowlan, the independent Conservative, and of course the shrillest MP, Sheila Copps. But six of Newfoundland’s seven MPs were among the dozen rousers or entertainers we came up with, led by George Baker and John Crosbie, with Brian Tobin, Roger Simmons, Fred Mifflin and Ross Reid not far behind.
The downside of the Newfoundland contribution may be its exaggerations, the riotous hyperbole, in wit as with Baker and Crosbie, or in nastiness from Simmons and Tobin.
But the upside is enthusiasm, vitality and candor about politics and its practices, from the shady to the noble, which one rarely gets from the staid scores of Ontario MPs.
If a compassionate society should always be concerned for underdogs, for those with the least, including opportunities, then Newfoundland MPs have been the best conscience prickers – just as Smallwood himself and Peckford later were at the table of first ministers. Also, and regrettably, they have been the boldest and ablest at getting more and more from “the trough.” One could call them the honest burglars of Confederation. Yes, the House would have been a very politically correct place without the small band of models and rivals of Smallwood.
My direct experiences with Smallwood were few – several half-hour interviews for TV. He’d have deepened my inferiorities with his far quicker mind and vivacity of language if he hadn’t been such a performer, out to do a good show. In my recall, only John Diefenbaker and Tommy Douglas were in Smallwood’s league as political showmen.
With Ged Baldwin I spent scores of hours from 1958 until a few years ago. He would talk about his years at war, as a rural lawyer and rancher, as an MP attracted and repelled by the Chief. Even more than Stanley Knowles he was my model as an MP. (Knowles was more righteous, in part by temperament but also because he never expected to be in power.)
Baldwin was modest and he used plain speech in describing better than any other MP what was emerging from the over-government and high spending of the Trudeau regime. He was never easy on his own party. No MP in the post-war years argued more often that we would have to take the congressional path if MPs were to be meaningful after their totals by party on election night had determined which “great” leader was prime minister and manager of the powerful, costly and secretive bureaucracy.
Consider these remarks Baldwin made after he left the House in 1980. Don’t they fit the Parliament of 1991?
“Parliament has been reduced to the role of an impotent, toothless institution, particularly on constitutional matters. How tragic that . . . there so many members of high quality, frustrated for there is so little they are allowed to do.”

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, December 18, 1991
ID: 12840583
TAG: 199112180076
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
COLUMN: Fisher Report


The odds are only 50-50 that the land claim agreement with the Inuit announced on Monday will ever be completed. The deal would split the Northwest Territories, creating a new, vast, sparsely-peopled territory, administered under the Crown, with half a billion dollars for the Inuit there.
The Inuit who approved the deal have fellows dubious over relinquishing title to the whole territory, including Jack Anawak, the Liberal MP for Nunatsiaq. But a more dangerous threat than internal division is the certainty that the Indian chiefs, led by Ovide Mercredi, will attack the settlement with all their resources.
A vote by the territories’ people in the spring may be a lower hurdle than the suits or injunctions which the First Nations are likely to launch, undoubtedly arguing this settlement is premature while constitution-making is underway that is fixed on aboriginal rights to self-government. Further, the pros and cons of the deal will become polarized, with the Grits and NDP insisting the long-term consequences are unfair.

Each year in the U.K. a panel sponsored in part by the weekly Spectator appraises the performances of members of Parliament and makes awards to: Parliamentarian of the Year; the Member to Watch; Backbencher of the Year; and Campaigner of the Year.
We could do it here but is there the talent, and are there the performances? Maclean’s loves rating things. Maybe it should do our Parliament.
Let me open the idea here with some nominations for our House in 1991. It wasn’t easy. First, it’s not been a good parliamentary year; second, the inordinate emphasis here on party leaders diminishes, even demeans, all other MPs; third, so relatively few Canadians, in or out of politics, go beyond the daily circus of the House question period for performances on which they might judge worth.
So far as I can divine it today there is not a single MP who would bring his or her fellows, no matter their party, flocking to the chamber at word that so and so is speaking – as was often the case years ago with Tommy Douglas or David Lewis or John Diefenbaker. Nonetheless, here are my nominations for each of the four awards, if they were to be made for 1991.
Parliamentarian of the Year: Joe Clark, president of the Privy Council; David Dingwall, Liberal House leader; Lloyd Axworthy, Liberal external affairs spokesman; Kim Campbell, minister of justice; Gilles Loiselle, treasury board president; Lorne Nystrom, the NDP’s lead voice on constitutional affairs.
The Member to Watch: Paul Martin Jr., Liberal MP; Lucien Bouchard, Bloc Quebecois leader; Roy MacLaren, Liberal trade critic; Jim Hawkes, government whip.
Backbencher of the Year: Svend Robinson, NDP; Christine Stewart, Liberal; Jean Lapierre, BQ; Bud Bird, PC; Felix Holtman, PC.
Campaigner of the Year: Dawn Black, the NDP’s feminist voice; Ethel Blondin, the Liberal’s aborigine; Patrick Boyer, PC, and authority on plebiscites and referendums; Garth Turner, PC, an all-purpose busy bee.
To put it mildly, some of those named are not my cup of tea, but vetting the House is a bit like scouting hockey. One could detest the way Bobby Clarke used to play the game without missing his usefulness.

In line with an undertaking in the last speech from the throne that attention would be fixed on making Parliament better, and the reputation of MPs in their institution more palatable, the standing committee of the Commons on “House management” has been struggling in trying for conclusions on many administrative and technical questions, such as:
How to sustain the rule of the Speaker against those who break procedural rules;
Means of reforming the oral question period so more questions may be put and fairer answers given;
Whether and where to install special clocks in the chamber for the timing of speeches, questions, interventions and time left for debate;
How many committee rooms to fit out for considerable, perhaps routine, televising of hearings;
How to choose committees for such viewing, then how to ensure that what is videotaped is used on cable channels or, with editing, by network news operations.
As one who has read some 24 issues of the committee proceedings it is hard to find a sense of urgency in the committee from any of the partisans. Perhaps the government MPs are waiting for the package of proposals on parliamentary reform which Queen’s political scientist Ned Franks is preparing.
As for the NDP, one participant, Iain Angus, the deputy whip, is a pragmatist all the way, but another, Bill Blaikie, who speaks well, is more a philosopher of the arcane.
The Liberals seem careful, perhaps waiting for the government’s stuff. David Dingwall, their House leader, has put a 10-point package for procedural reform before Jean Chretien for approval. As Grit policy, it could sustain a campaign theme – bring government back to the people! Under it, the preparation of bills, budgets and estimates would be drastically changed. MPs would be part of the process for each as it begins and throughout. In short, a parliamentary revolution.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, December 15, 1991
ID: 12840197
TAG: 199112150153
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
COLUMN: Fisher Report


There were two breaks from pattern in the flare-up over a foul phrase Brian Mulroney is said to have said.
First, for months the Mulroney strategy for the House has been to be away from it as much as possible. When he is present, other ministers are to take most questions put to him. If he must respond, it’s with with either bland balm or a droning delivery of rosy data. Whatever the PM did say, his case-closing remarks to the House were tacit acknowledgment of a lapse in his strategy.
Second, the cause of the outburst was a surprise. It came from a question about child poverty that had a fairly snarky prelude about Mulroney’s PR fetish.
The snarkiness was out of character for the questioner, David Walker, a former professor and Liberal MP from Winnipeg. A civil man in private and in public, Walker would place in the my top 10 among MPs for deportment. In a recent debate on altering the public’s low esteem of politicians and Parliament, his was the least partisan and most candid speech of all.

Yes! This foofaraw over epithets had its Copps factor, and that reminds me that Jean Chretien, the Liberal leader, must deal with a dilemma in his ranks. What to do about his deputy leader, the aforesaid MP from Hamilton East?
Through her relentless bloody-mindedness Copps has slugged her way beyond prominence into the bad graces of her caucus colleagues. She’s loathed or regretted even more than the loosest gun in the caucus, Jim Karygiannis from Scarboro-Agincourt. She’s the only rat of the Rat Pack left, Don Boudria, John Nunziata, even Brian Tobin, having renounced raging negativism.
The bitter animus toward Copps in the caucus and in the staff of the party on the Hill is not a musculine phenomenon, for in my reading the women are more anxious to be rid of her than the men. The MPs most disgusted with her are those from the 1988 recovery, not the old guard.
The muttering over Copps’ belligerence also notes that she has become an asset in the political banks of Mulroney and Preston Manning. Turfing Copps from her prime role as party warrior won’t be easy. She cannot stay away from the House or abjure cruising wherever there may be mikes and cameras. Yet to send her ranging the country is even less appealing to her colleagues, because wherever she unleashes her scorn and vituperation she resuscitates fading enemies.
As an aside prompted by the hard-edged meanness Copps displays as a politician, The Idler magazine (no. 34) has the best, political short story I’ve read in years. It deals with flummoxing of an obsessed politician (a man, not a woman). The warp is in the consequences of vaulting ambition on family. The title is “No telling” and the author, Geraldine Sherman, creates politicians and aides I wanted to tag. It would take little to convert this tale into a shooting script for a good film.

Most of us outside Quebec are delighted at the lambasting in the United States of the Bourassa government and its great agency, Hydro-Quebec, over “appalling treatment” of native groups.
And we chortle at the prospect that a sovereign Quebec would lose much land because Ottawa would have to sequester huge chunks in meeting its obligations to First Nations, notably in the vast, northern region. And in Quebec itself there’s a spreading fury at allegations abroad of mistreatment and callous disregard for native rights.
A new issue of Canadian Social Trends, a Statistics Canada quarterly, should delight Quebecers and sober the rest of us. A detailed article on the status of the aboriginal population across Canada (titled “Canada’s off-reserve aboriginal population”) has interpretations of data on income, education, skills, joblessness and family characteristics for natives, country-wide.
However you massage the evidence from this federal agency, the natives in Quebec have had it better than those in Ontario, and considerably better than in the West. And opinion polling has revealed a friendlier outlook toward natives in Quebec than in the rest of Canada.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, December 13, 1991
ID: 12839963
TAG: 199112130104
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11


The appeal to Premier Bob Rae that Walter Stewart made in his Monday column will seem sensible to thousands who carry NDP cards. One part of the Sun columnist’s analysis strikes me, however, as too confident about what the voters will do at the next election.
Stewart argues Rae will be turfed – say in 1994. Given this inevitability the premier should govern and legislate on the basis of his party’s policies, not forsake or modify them to mollify business interests or the likes of Brian Mulroney.
“You don’t have to pretend to be David Peterson or Mike Harris,” Stewart tells Rae. “Don’t be panicked by the loony theories of businessmen . . .”
This exemplifies the spirit of devotees of the CCF-NDP over several generations. There’s a brute logic to it. It’s from a long-time true believer, not a mere latter-day tout of the Honderichs. Be what you are! Do what you undertook! Follow your commitments in the last campaign!
The advice comes fortuitously. Who hasn’t winced at Rae’s recent temporizing or over socialist Floyd Laughren mimicking former finance ministers in Ottawa like Mitchell Sharp and Michael Wilson?
Stewart is absolute on a single mandate. “Since you are going to get it in the neck anyway, you might as well follow your own instincts.”
Let one who’s unlikely to vote NDP in 1994 (I did in 1990) argue that all is not lost for Rae if he takes Stewart’s advice.
First, one can see a popular consensus for strong economic leadership, both to save us from a depression and to repair the swath of damage from it. That consensus fits the NDP’s faith.
Second, the consistent feature of Ontario elections since George Drew’s Tories beat back the CCF in 1945 has been the three-party split. Despite some big margins in seats won by Leslie Frost, John Robarts, Bill Davis and David Peterson, the combined votes for Nos. 2 and 3 were almost always in a range of 45 to 60 points. If you vet Queen’s Park now or examine the condition of the three parties you will see no end to the three-way split. Unless the Liberals find a nonpareil leader shortly, Rae should go to the people knowing he could win again, with as little as 37% of the vote.
Third, if Quebecers let Canada survive there will be a federal election at least a year, perhaps more, before Rae considers going to the polls. The likely consequence is a Chretien government. This should help Rae. Ontario voters rarely plump for the same governing party in Toronto and Ottawa. Rae should be able to run very effectively against Chretien – as well or better than against Mulroney.
Fourth, I think Stewart, and probably Rae and Laughren, underestimate the raw strength of those who are liberal-minded or social democratically inclined. A small percentage may be tagged Red Tories but far more have been used to voting capital “L” Liberal. There’s a good chance, however, that a truly social democratic government would draw a useful share from the left of centre who’ve been voting Grit or Tory.
The free trade debate is not going to quieten, and it has shaken loose a lot of old allegiances. Look where Mel Hurtig’s potboiler – an anti-American, anti-business diatribe – has been. Topping the best-seller list for weeks.
Consider the media’s missionaries. Most are not conservatively minded, not business-oriented. They bleed over CBC cuts. They protest the shrinking of VIA Rail. They roust after abuse of the natives and callousness toward refugees. Could you go a day without hearing about our dearth of halfway houses or daycare places or the endemic sexual harassment of women or the shame of food banks or incipient racism?
Who inspires these missionaries? Surely it’s the likes of Margaret Atwood, Farley Mowat, Pierre Berton and June Callwood, or The Journal as institution, not the Tom D’Aquinos or John Crispos or Preston Mannings. What’s been spun into a reigning convention is a kinder, gentler Canadianism (so un-American!). We’ve been doing shining things together, like medicare, the Canada Council, the CBC and the National Film Board.
Look, this is not satirical and not a lament. One may disagree with this conventional wisdom on who and what we truly are but only a fool discounts its power.
Rae and the NDP may bungle their chance but there is backing in Ontario for them. One finds the attitudes I note most readily in journalism, the arts, the social apparatus and teaching. They galvanize the women’s movements, the environmentalists, the aborigines’ associations, the peacemakers and most of the leadership of Ontario trade unions.
I’d guess six out of 10 of those who report, edit or produce news and commentary in Ontario are either pro-NDP or sympathetic to the policies of Rae and the party. Just read the largest newspaper in Canada; Judy Steed and Michele Landsberg are symbols, not exotics. Or appraise the advocacy journalists of the CBC – say Karen Webb or David Suzuki. Ever hear a conservative sort of notion from CBC Radio’s top panel of Peter Gzowski, Dalton Camp, Stephen Lewis and Eric Kierans? And the newsrooms of CTV, Global and CITY-TV are hardly right-wing camps.
Surely for the NDP, Ontario 1990-1994 is a far cry from B.C. 1972-1975, when Dave Barrett rose and fell. Rae may not be founding a dynasty but he’s not a sure loser.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, December 11, 1991
ID: 12839628
TAG: 199112110072
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
COLUMN: Fisher Report


There are lots of indicators among MPs of collective bafflement – of a cast of characters washed out by uncertainty, bad news and insoluble issues.
Before and after question period, the whips are hard put to keep a quorum in the House. Few MPs want to “debate” and few want to listen.
A government motion that flogs parliamentary reform and a recapture of former respect has largely drawn partisan pieties. By ignoring the debate, such caucus “wheels” as leaders and ministers show Parliament is not their current concern.
In the meantime, a “House management” committee, dominated by whips, has maundered through a score of hearings on restoring relevance and decorum to the House of Commons. The apparatchiks accept their low esteem “out there” but range in circles on how to reverse it. For example they fret over how to sustain the Speaker so he knows he may enforce rules of procedure and deportment long disused.
More and more the leaders have been out of the House. The PM has matched Pierre Trudeau in avoiding the House as much as possible or stonewalling it with blandness.
Last week an abler member of Mulroney’s huge ministry put to me the signficance of the House: “It’s a bloody waste of time.”
Although over a score of parliamentary committees have been examining bills or delegated topics or special missions in recent weeks, only the constitutional one was seized on as being major. As the nation knows, it blundered. Now it’s into unobtrusiveness, the proceedings lacking urgency, despite a string of expert witnesses.
The legislative pace has been plodding but not blocked. The New Democrats have abandoned the calculated obstruction of almost all items the government presents, a tactic it featured through the first three years of this Parliament. The Liberals have been co-operative with the legislative schedule Harvie Andre has marshalled for Mulroney.
Such opposition slackness probably means few of the bills now or recently on the parliamentary agenda have been appraised as blockbusters, with the exception of the one on gun control.
Usually on the Hill in the run to the Christmas break there’s a quickening, a lively sense of busy, good days together, and relish for the organized revelries of each caucus before the “wrap” when everyone heads home. It’s not so this year. I can’t recall so few in the grouping places of the Hill like the dining room, the cafeterias and the lobbies. There’s a parallel slackness in those who cover politics in Ottawa. They don’t expect much any more from this crew of MPs.
So one doesn’t divine any coming together of our chosen ones in a common surge to save the nation. They clear Ottawa this week for a recess until February, and they go readily if uneasily. Their unspoken intuition in this period of crisis and economic malaise is that Parliament is not where the resolutions will be developed.
In none of the four federal caucuses can I find enthusiasm, not even among Liberals despite their general (though uneasy) expectation that they are the government-in-waiting. It might be different if it weren’t so obvious a general election is more than a year away.
There are two prospects that could revitalize this House of Commons but neither is a good bet.
The first one is not impossible but little in the bumbling constitutional process is hopeful. Literally, it is what thousands of us pray for: a sweeping disposal of the debris from the Meech debacle through a presentation to Parliament by the government of a package of constitutional adjustments that has been approved at a table with the premiers. It would need to be acceptable if not popular in Western Canada and one that Quebecers would likely approve at their provincial referendum next October.
The second prospect, long foretold, remains dubious. It is a palpable, economic recovery. It would need to become evident by Easter, then rise steadily through the summer, spewing cheery data on consumer spending, housing starts, exports, farm prices and the jobless rate. Without such a transformation or the contrary one of even more dire straits, neither the Mulroney government nor those of the big provinces will abandon the reigning caution about more spending.
Years of sermonizing led by Michael Wilson have had their consequences. Even an NDP government in Ontario preaches restraint and frets over the rating of its bonds. The old idea of spending ourselves out of Depression has surprisingly few enthusiasts in this Parliament.
A most unpopular government that cannot borrow for fresh initiatives has little for Parliament to do. It means there is no zest for parliamentary work and the daily negativism of Question Period. And three opposition parties, none with a sure, winning chunk of the electorate, now appreciate their antics in this House are not as advantageous as they once seemed.
This Parliament symbolizes a foundering government, probably a foundering nation. Otherwise it would sit till the day before Christmas and be back the first week of January.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, December 08, 1991
ID: 12839197
TAG: 199112080178
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
COLUMN: Fisher Report


The differences in style and narrative form between the reports of the auditor general for this year and last year seem less to me than those of the respective presenters.
The new auditor general, Denis Desautels, is not an obtrusive personality and certainly less bumptious and graphic than Ken Dye, Parliament’s auditor general through the 1980s.
Are these differences, in the reports and in the men, important for Parliament or the vast government operations which the auditor general monitors? In short, is it good or bad to have a more muted auditor general who makes a more detached critique of the $160 billion or so the government is spending?
Some writers in the media may be making too much of the differences.
Several editorialists have rued the lower-keyed criticisms of Desautels and asked for a return to the hard-hitting case-after-case content engrained by Dye on a pattern set by his predecessor, the late Jim Macdonnell.
Michel Gratton of the Sun believes Brian Mulroney and his cast of mandarins are relaxing, shed now of the worst in obnoxiousness which Dye triggered every year for the use of the opposition and the media.
Jeffrey Simpson of the Globe and Mail has been historical and interpretive. First, he marked this year’s report as the beginning of the end for “value for money” auditing which was pioneered by Macdonnell and is the ethical prop for taking audit criticisms past whether moneys had been properly spent to whether the spending was worthwhile.
Second, Simpson read much into Desautels’ remarks on the scanty progress in mastering either bad spending decisions or spending that is not accounted for or analyzable. And this after 17 years in massive bureaucratic response to “value for money” demands by the auditor general. So proliferating staff and myriad, new procedures have been for naught. Gargantuan efforts and abysmal consequences!
Implied in this appraisal is the message that there would be lower costs and fewer bureaucrats if the creed of “value for money” was abandoned and grand audit processes in both the government and the auditor general’s offices cut to the bone.
Several journalists also noticed the familiar, annual irony in the House furor over the report. For a few days, opposition MPs rail at ministerial profligacy and boondoggling, scourging with items in the report as though they and their parties were zealous about frugality and efficiency. Their fury soon ebbs; they resume their normal guise, day after day demanding more spending on this, that and everything.
All this sounds suitably cynical for a Canada and an Ottawa writhing into its eighth year with Mulroney. My greater caution in interpreting this year’s report and what Desautels will do in the nine years left of his mandate comes from recalling that Macdonnell’s first report was judged as “friendlier” – almost genial like the man himself. And succeeding Sunny Jim, Dye was seen as simplistic and rather naive after his first report, an opinion soon forgotten, particularly after he refused to quit ferreting out the details of the huge purchase of Fina Petroleum which the Trudeau government had engineered.
Since Macdonnell’s advent in ’73, I’ve had enough links with senior people in the auditor general’s agency to mark a remarkable growth in their expertise, confidence and the belief they have a worthwhile mission. That cadre is still there; it’s not being dismantled. It’s not disgruntled about the new boss. And so I see Desautels as a change in style, not substance.
Take his plain words about the department of Indian and Northern Affairs. It doesn’t know how, let alone how effectively, the $1.9 billion issued last year to Indian bands and councils was spent. That’s brutal, and as stark a criticism as Jim Macdonnell’s rousing shot in the ’70s that federal spending was “out of control.”

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, December 06, 1991
ID: 12838941
TAG: 199112060136
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
COLUMN: Fisher Report


It was “a day that will live in infamy” as Roosevelt said – at least to the western world.
In Canada, Dec. 7 50 years ago was something more. Suddenly we had hope. We knew we couldn’t lose the war to Hitler. Not anymore, not with the Yanks in.
Most of us have a public anniversary that is vivid to us. We recall where we were when we got the news. For many it’s the awful day an assassin killed John F. Kennedy. That had the sudden wallop, like Pearl Harbor, and was unlike other memorable days that had been much anticipated, like D-Day or the moon landings.
It’s true that in 1941 the British and we of the dominions had had a brief lift six months before Pearl when Hitler attacked east against the USSR – brief because of the awesome advances of the Nazis and huge Russian losses. By November the Germans were at the gates of Moscow and Leningrad.
I heard the news of Pearl Harbor about noon on the fateful day from a radio in a military hospital on the prairies. A few weeks before, I’d been switched from clerical work to minding quarantined soldiers (tagged as “mumpers and clappers”) because the skilled chaps of our hospital unit were wrestling with two wards of patients with the dread “sleeping sickness.” Aside from such banal duty, I was awaiting a transfer to a fighting regiment, more in line with my physique. In the rush of joyful reaction to news of the attack and the president’s spirited response, I couldn’t guess that within three weeks I’d be crouched in a rifle-pit, peering fearfully over the dark waters in the Strait of Juan de Fuca for Japanese craft.
But my dilemma, so minute on all but my own scale, was a mirror of the national one. First Canadians shivered with the bad news, then grimly energized themselves to help win the war. My abrupt, rather absurd transition dovetailed with the great irony (and menace) that flared so unexpectedly after the Japanese strikes on Hawaii and elsewhere in the Pacific.
Disaster after disaster. For Canadians too. Two Canadian regiments were mauled, then captured on Christmas Day at Hong Kong. Our bounding hope that fateful Dec. 7 collapsed as Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Burma and the Philippines tumbled to the Nipponese. Australia was threatened. Mighty battleships sunk. A new nemesis ruled the skies – the Zero! A ruthless, scary enemy was ranging over oceans and in jungles, obviously aided by a long-plotted espionage and thousands of “fifth columnists.” An assault anywhere on the west flank of North America seemed likely.
And so it was post-Pearl. For almost a year our cause seemed even grimmer than before. Hindsight says we had little to fear. It didn’t seem so in February, 1942. One morning our section was patrolling hilly roads near the south tip of Vancouver Island. A few of us felt our sergeant was excessive but we didn’t quarrel with him when he assured two women, mothers of small families at a logging chance near the Jordan River: “Ladies, we’ll be here if the Japs come and be sure we’d kill you before we’d let them at you.”
This switch of fear to the Pacific lasted through most of 1942 and faded more in Canada than it did in the States even though most Americans accepted grudgingly Roosevelt’s priority that defeating Hitler come before defeating Japan. They had the ranging, naval task forces of Adm Chester Nimitz and Gen. Douglas McArthur had begun his island-hopping from Guadalcanal. After Pearl, Americans burned for revenge.
Except in B.C., our attention swung back to the Atlantic and Europe. U-boats were loose in the St. Lawrence. Our small ships were convoying in the North Atlantic. Almost daily our papers listed RCAF men killed, missing or captured in the rising assault on the Reich by Bomber Command. We were building five divisions and more of soldiers in the U.K. for the attack on Hitler’s Europe. And Japan retreated, at least as our overriding fear and objective.
Today we vicariously see our neighbors’ obsessive retrospectives on this 50th anniversary. It’s not a Canadian obsession but we’re as affected by one result that now daunts Americans.
Much American analysis pivots on a huge respect for Japan which is linked to fears that America is no longer No. 1. Japan’s at the economic top of the world, and this after post-war tutelage by Americans. While Americans may wonder why the Japanese were so foolish in 1941 as to attack a greater power, they also see the abject losers of 1945 now at the fore, the miracle risen from defeat.
Canadians don’t share the Americans’ frustrations about Japan today and for the future, in part because we have not seen ourselves as No. 1. My own past has made the attack on Pearl a vivid anniversary but it makes a useful occasion for Canadians to assess what Japanese hegemony in the world economy is doing to us.
After the brief flare of hope that day 50 years ago Canadians were sobered and forced to buckle down to work, in effect to compete as never before.
We’re beginning to try to cope with a a world where Japanese drive, technology, and innovation has made us less competitive. We might make Dec. 7 each year the time, not to muse over 1941 but to review how we must compete again in the markets of the world.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, December 04, 1991
ID: 12838611
TAG: 199112040101
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
COLUMN: Fisher Report


Two notes on the natives’ scenario, one on a general proposition, the other on a specific case.
The proposition came from Jeffrey Simpson of the Globe and Mail as a means to keep the “inherent right to self-government” demanded by native leaders from wrecking the resolution of our constitutional crisis.
The specific case is pathetic: The second hunger strike on Parliament Hill by Fortunato Pacios-Rivera. He is a forester, accusing the Mulroney government of failing to give him justice for ill treatment by a Saskatchewan tribal council and the department of Indian and northern affairs.
First, Simpson’s proposition which blends several interpretations with two realities.
The realities are: 1) the government’s constitutional proposals recognize an aboriginal right to self-government but require a 10-year period to work out the details, and if this fails the right becomes “judiciable,” to be settled by judges; 2) a royal commission on aboriginal affairs is just under way with a three-year horizon, and with native commissioners having a majority (four of seven).
Simpson’s fair in noting that the native leaders find the 10-year period insufferable and that the royal commission, in covering all the grounds of its mandate, must analyze the means and needs of self-government.
He suggests Ottawa meet the leaders’ objections by accepting the aboriginals’ “inherent right to self-government within Canada” but direct the commission to examine the issues around the right, then recommend the practicalities of such self-government and its introduction to the next Parliament. If after two to three years these recommendations are not implemented, “the courts would be called in.”
The interpretations that led Simpson to his suggestions are sensible. One cannot quarrel with them.
There is little coherence from native leaders on what self-government will mean in practice, and our politicians have been cautious about definitions, fearing charges of paternalism.
Although many opinion surveys register wide, public goodwill for “self-government” they also show quite unlikely expectations that this would mean taxation of natives, less federal spending on them, an end to demands for money and vituperation about racism and deceit.
The diverse meanings of self-government show up in questions about whether federal and provincial laws would apply to natives, and whether their choices of leaders would be made by democratic vote or by tribal customs, and even if self-government would mean international status for the First Nation.
Very soon the Mulroney government must either get many of its 28 proposals off the table for this round or Quebec sails into its October referendum. The Simpson proposition puts perhaps the fuzziest, complex issue into other, kinder hands (largely native!). Recall that this issue was large in the fouling of the Meech accord. It’s a killer.
Now, again I sketch the sad case of Fortunato Pacios-Rivera. He’s weakening at the 50-day mark in his second hunger strike in Ottawa. Again he seeks high-level intervention. In part, his first strike last summer was successful. In mid-August Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon had terms of reference drawn for a quick examination by two accountants of activities of the Meadow Lake Tribal Council (nine bands) and the Indian affairs department in relation to Pacios-Rivera’s charges of illegal use of federal moneys, including the seizure of his properties and files and the breaking of his agreements with the council for programs and counsel on forestry programs in northern Saskatchewan.
One has to like Pacios-Rivera but my advice to him during his first strike was to swallow his losses, forget his hurt and the abuse of public funds, go home and get on with his life and profession well clear of Indian politics. A lone white could not win in a society that universally agrees with native grievances and white guilt. No MPs would dare take up his case. Most reporters are pro-native; also they’d find his case far too complex for easy exposition. And Indian affairs mandarins would never play fair with anyone trying to unravel any of their deals which might be unsavoury.
Pacios-Rivera proved me wrong . . . initially! He exulted and praised while I marvelled that Siddon had laid on an inquiry -an instant one to be completed by the end of September. There’s been no report yet but it’s likely to be slipped out during the holiday recess of Parliament. But in mid-October Pacios-Rivera realized he’d been duped by Siddon and came back to Ottawa to renew his hunger strike. He claims (and I believe him) the inquirers have ignored their terms of reference, letting ministry officials guide them from both Pacios-Rivera’s relations with the council and the gist of his malfeasance charges.
Again, I advise Pacios-Rivera to quit his strike and Ottawa before he dies. He’s a shadow of his former self. His one-time friend and admirer, minister Bill McKnight, won’t even talk about his dilemma. Clearly, Siddon’s mandarins have him hoodwinked that he’s done his best for a wild, intractable, self-made victim. Never has it been more inopportune to have a deep, ranging examination of particular native skulduggery. The report, when it comes, may slap a few wrists but it will brush past Pacios-Rivera’s ruin.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, December 01, 1991
ID: 12838205
TAG: 199112010166
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
COLUMN: Fisher Report


There was a small bit of droll news in a glum week for politicians in Ottawa.
At a special meeting the Parliamentary Press Gallery Association doubled the fee for membership to $100 a year to cover its rising costs, most of which come from improving facilities for TV crews. But the association postponed pushing any further in relieving Parliament (i.e., the taxpayers) of the burden borne in servicing its membership.
The Speaker’s office recently guessed this burden as about $750,000 a year, a little chunk of Parliament’s $300 million a year spending and a tiny atom in the huge money pile of federal spending which will amount to $160 billion this year. The burden does symbolize, however, a truly Canadian trait – a light conscience on partaking at the public trough while decrying the greed of all others who do, especially the politicians.
It’s been noticeable to me as a veteran of Parliament Hill that even though MPs are most concerned about their public image and are formally debating how to better it in the House and in a “House management” committee, they have largely kept clear of open responses to the most critical attack ever made on them and their institution. I refer to A Capital Scandal, subtitled “Why Parliament must be reformed,” written by Bob Fife (Toronto Sun) and John Warren (CBC).
Of course, this lack of reaction by individual MPs or caucuses or party leaders is neither concerted nor diabolic. Rather, it’s a tacit realization by MPs that at this time of great public discontent with them a fighting response would sell more copies of the Fife-Warren book and draw more attention to their self-cozening indulgence in perquisites and privileges.
A fair question about Fife-Warren as critics is whether they scooted past the indulgences of their own institution or its glacial slowness over the propriety of the press gallery keeping at the trough.
The gallery’s cost may be piffling in the enormity of federal spending, but it’s not just the big items like old age pensions and unemployment insurance which build our $420 billion (and rising) federal debt. There are the hundreds of little bites – like the gallery’s.
Any MPs who read Fife-Warren will see the nasty pair did not ignore the gallery’s perennial costs to the taxpayers. Here’s some of their data and analysis.
Fife-Warren have a long chapter, “Spreading the word,” on Parliament, the government, and the media. In it they wrote:
“Most of the news Canadians get about Parliament originates with the 360 reporters, editors, camera and sound persons, columnists, clerks and photographers who belong to the Parliamentary Press Gallery. They represent 80 radio and television networks and stations, wire services, newspapers and chains, magazines and international correspondents.
“ . . . for a $50 membership fee (paid by employers) most gallery reporters have access to free parking worth $1,300 a year, office space and a desk in the Centre Block, the use of fax and photocopying machines, free letterheads, pens and pencils, free long distance phone privileges, library research facilities, individual mail boxes into which news releases and personal mail are delivered half a dozen times a day, access to the taxpayer-subsidized restaurant, cafeterias, barber shop and shoeshine parlor. Salaries for the staff who service the gallery come to more than $300,000 annually.”
In particular Fife-Warren cite these points about the press gallery:
a) The failure to leave the trough; b) its feeble attempts to set and maintain an arm’s-length from politicians; c) the now annual kerfuffle over breaks in the “off the record” sanctity of the gallery dinner (in effect, a rather juvenile “roast” of politicians); d) the recent killing of rules which defined and seemed to forbid moonlighting by any members for federal departments and agencies.
This one sentence from A Capital Scandal should goad MPs into doing something about their own spending, as well as that on the gallery:
“The press gallery seems to be at least as inept as the politicians in dealing with ethical issues of its own.”

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, November 29, 1991
ID: 12837954
TAG: 199111290171
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
COLUMN: Fisher Report


So far politicians are dodging it and most commentators dismiss an argument put here, and by a few others, that there should be a delay or an elongation of the current constitutional process.
The process has perhaps nine months left. It must be over well before the campaign begins for the referendum in Quebec on Oct. 12, 1992. Those who reject a delay say it overlooks the timing of federal politics and would put Premier Robert Bourassa in an untenable position.
The second Mulroney government is into its fourth year. It can hardly put off an election past June, 1993, just 19 months ahead. A federal election battle before the constitutional crisis is resolved is a prescription for division and chaos. The span of time which might be gained, even if Bourassa could hold on after agreeing to a postponement, is only another seven or eight months.
Those who say delay is impossible are left with the dicey hopes for strong, concerted leadership to deal with the crisis. Thus far we haven’t had it and the Quebec National Assembly adopted Bill 150 four months ago, which requires a referendum on sovereignty between June 8 and June 22, 1992 or between Oct. 12 and Oct. 26, 1992. This outcome was a recommendation of the Belanger-Campeau commission. The title of the bill mirrored Belanger-Campeau’s formal name – the Commission on the Political and Constitutional Future of Quebec. So Quebec has “An Act respecting the process for determining the political and constitutional future of Quebec.”
The Parti Quebecois voted against the bill and seven of Bourassa’s ministers were absent for the vote, probably because they are pro-federalism and saw the the bill as a fillip for the separatists. But the bill has one “whereas” clause and a few other provisions which indicate federalism is to be given a fair chance.
It states: “Whereas Quebec wishes to ensure that everyone should have a fair understanding of the changes that are necessary to make the Canadian federal system acceptable to Quebec and of the true definition of sovereignty and of its political, economic, social and cultural implications.”
Those of us in the rest of Canada may bridle at the phrase “acceptable to Quebec,” but that’s what the failure of Meech accord has brought us to.
Bill 150 also states in Section 1 that: “If the results of the referendum are in favor of sovereignty, they constitute a proposal that Quebec acquire the status for a sovereign state one year to the day from the holding of the referendum.”
Further, the bill provides for two parliamentary committees, one to examine matters relating to the accession of Quebec to sovereignty, the other to examine any offer of a new constitutional partnership. Bourassa and company will control both committees. It seems the first committee is already at work, appraising the specific changes implicit in a change to sovereignty, the other committee is awaiting the particulars of a “new constitutional partnership.”
Unfortunately such particulars seem to be even more indeterminate than the proposals which Brian Mulroney and Joe Clark floated in September and gave to the committee for the renewal of Canada, i.e., the Dobbie-Castonguay disaster, now become the narrower Dobbie-Beaudoin committee.
Two months after the federal proposals were unveiled – 28 of them – there is little but swirl and hullabaloo around them from those deeply interested; otherwise there is widespread impatience in the nation as a whole.
As example of swirl, the NDP, both federally and through three provincial premiers is still proposing a social charter be added to the Constitution.
As example of disinterest, the federal proposals are not being appraised by any of the provincial legislatures with a view to quick critiques the premiers might bear to a first ministers’ table.
The most promising suggestion in a November bleak for Canada came Wednesday from Joe Clark, the man who’s been lurching hither and yon to allay or avert more disasters in the process. He thinks it may be time to convene a first ministers’ conference, with or without the premier of Quebec.
Why? “Because we know it has worked.”
Privately, MPs on the Dobbie-Beaudoin committee have told me it’s imperative some of the proposals be put aside and the process focused on, say, the distinct society clause for Quebec, an elected Senate and native rights to self-government.
Why not do this now, and also have an immediate call from Mulroney for a pre-Christmas gathering of all the premiers who’ll come? Let them thresh out privately a short list of proposals and a common front on where and when — if at all — there should be a national referendum on the Constitution.
Most Canadians want Canada to hold together but it also is apparent only a minority of Canadians (including Quebecers) will ever ponder much on the Constitution, even though it’s now a deadly serious issue with terminal dates coming up faster than the program for renewal.
If Bourassa must await new proposals, unable to extend the dates set in Bill 150, Mulroney and Clark must hustle. Find out quickly what the provincial leaders agree are the bare bones for an offer to Bourassa (that’s what we’re down to — an offer) and whether it should be confirmed or rejected by Canadians.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Thursday, November 28, 1991
ID: 13042363
TAG: 199111280168
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
COLUMN: Fisher Report


It seems the Liberal Party under Jean Chretien is not to vie with the NDP for voters who want anti-Americanism and a collectivist mindset in the federal government.
Anyone who has monitored Chretien since he came to the House in 1963 should not be surprised at the firm indication he gave last weekend that his party, as he sees it, is not to be a socialist party or even a social democratic party. He has never been at all radical in economic policy and rarely far from the centre of the road on social issues.
Through most of Chretien’s 28 years in national politics the Liberal party has continued to be rather capacious, just as it was in Mackenzie King’s prime years. Capacious but amazingly unified in public.
On the one hand, C.D. Howe became the best of all politicians for the businessmen; on the other hand, Paul Martin, Sr. was pushing in the cabinet with very halting success for hospitalization plans and better pensions.
Remember that Chretien’s first ministerial sponsor on the Hill was Mitchell Sharp, a former deputy minister for Howe, and the Pearson minister who took on Walter Gordon and his amanuensis, Tom Kent, on slowing the progress toward a national medicare plan. And after Gordon became discredited in the corporate community of Canada as the minister of finance, Lester Pearson turned to Sharp as replacement and Sharp brought in Chretien as his parliamentary secretary and a master-disciple relationship was forged.
Mitchell Sharp, at 80, is still close to Chretien and still one of the liveliest of ex-ministers from the capital’s Golden Age whom one sees around Ottawa.
Sharp was and is cautious; he was and is frugal; he had and still has a plain thesis that a new government in its mandate must not attempt too much change – in particular change which requires much additional spending or wrenches the routines which citizens are familiar with in the services they get from government or the demands governments make on them.
So by experience and, as I’d argue, by instinct, Chretien is a most moderate politician. He’s neither fertile in developing fresh ideas nor is he adventurous in taking up those of other people. Often as a minister he was brilliant at doing very little in the policy sense while making most of us think he was very much with it and on the go. Witness his unmatched six busy, unfruitful years as minister of Indian affairs.
Of course, in the Trudeau government there were many other ministers, disciples of Walter Gordon as Chretien had been of Mitchell Sharp, who stood for the reformist or the liberally minded strands of ideas and programs – for example, John Munro, Gene Whelan, Jean Marchand, Bryce Mackasey, Herb Gray, Warren Allmand and Ron Basford. Chretien loosely fitted at the centre or right of the ministry with Sharp and the likes of John Turner, Otto Lang, Jim Richardson, Jack Davis and Ed Lumley.
Undoubtedly today’s Liberal caucus will be the nucleus of a Chretien government when or if it comes. It is easy to run through its membership and classify most of the MPs to the right or to the left of the political centre or as substantially nationalistic and anti-American in the Walter Gordon-Toronto Star tradition.
The influx from an election which expands the nucleus to make a majority Liberal government is unlikely to change the composition of the caucus much in terms of left-right or nationalist-global polarities. While the Liberal caucus as government will remain capacious in this sense, and while there will be intense, internal competition, say as symbolized by Lloyd Axworthy against Roy MacLaren, or Paul Martin, Jr. against Warren Allmand, the main policy intentions and the election promises will be made by Chretien himself.
It seems to me Chretien was shrewd as well as in character to decide his campaign would not pivot on cancelling the free trade agreement with the U.S. or wiping away the GST. He’s right that most Canadians no longer favor grand interventions in the economy or more spending on new or extended social and cultural programs. Nor are they high-minded and neutralist in international affairs.
In short, Chretien’s going after those who voted Tory in 1988 and placing his party to contest for voters far more with the Reform Party than with the New Democrats.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, November 27, 1991
ID: 13042219
TAG: 199111270137
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 12
COLUMN: Fisher Report


Our grim, national debt has finally got to the federal Liberals. Witness the cold shoulder Jean Chretien gave his Axworthys and Allmands and new program ideas in his wrap-up at the party’s “think” group at Aylmer, P.Q.
Bob Rae of Ontario and the new NDP premiers of Saskatchewan and B.C. have been talking frugality and restraint. Perhaps Audrey McLaughlin and the federal NDP will catch on – Preston Manning and his Reformers did long ago – to give voters a quadruple choice in parties promising leaner government and a mastering of our debt threat.
What is the debt threat? Is it still worsening? Was there nothing from seven years of jawboning about restraint from former finance minister Michael Wilson?
It’s useful to restate the debt threat. It worsens, although at a slower rate than if there had been no actions to accompany Wilson’s harangues.
In the present fiscal year, 1991-92 (which ends at the end of March), Ottawa will spend $160,606,927,431 – $160.6 billion.
Some 28% or close to $44 billion will go to pay interest charges on the federal debt for this fiscal year.
Next year the federal debt goes higher. Why? Because for the 17th straight year Ottawa will have revenues far less than the $160.6 billion set out in its spending estimates (which were readjusted last week).
What is the “minus” gulf between revenue and spending for 1991-92? At least $33 billion, maybe as much as $38 billion, given the bleak economic news and the matching slide in revenues.
Some readers may expect the interest charges Ottawa will pay this year and next to be lower. Hasn’t there been a steady drop in interest rates over the past 20 months? Yes, and it is some help, but far from as much as you might think. Too much of the huge, federal debt is in long-term bonds, issues sold in heyday years of interest returns of from 11% to 15.75%.
How high will total federal indebtedness be by next April? The last budget’s projections are too optimistic. A fair guess of the total federal debt for the year 1992-93 is about $475 billion. A less fair but not unreasonable estimate of the percentage of next year’s spending by Ottawa which will go just to meet debt charges is 30%.
What’s plain for a new government taking power after an election certain for 1993 is a debt load nicely over half a trillion and annual interest charges near to one-third of total spending.
Last week Gilles Loiselle, head of treasury board, who held firm through a strike against raises for most federal employees, tabled the supplementary estimates for this year, itemizing some $2.276 billion more spending for this fiscal year, just over half of it for “support to farmers.” Most farmers are having it rough, in particular the prairie grain farmers. No end is in sight of either their griefs or the likelihood of even more federal support within the next year.
Let me note two other items in the most recent estimates: a) redress for Japanese and Japanese Canadians has risen to $387 million; b) the programs for aboriginal people by Indian affairs only have just passed the $4 billion a year level. Both these items mirror the high cost of rectifying the misdeeds of previous governments and generations.
The data on Japanese redress reveal a miracle of longevity even allowing for a high birth rate among Japanese-Canadians between 1942-47. A redress payment of $21,000 each was approved by Parliament in 1988 for any person of Japanese ancestry who suffered from discriminatory actions taken by the wartime government of Mackenzie King after Pearl Harbor.
The miracle is in the number found for redress, some 18,400 persons?
In 1941 there were only 23,500 people of Japanese origin in Canada, and just 22,000 lived on the B.C. coast and were required to move inland (6,700 of the 23,500 had been born in Canada, another 7,000 were naturalized citizens). They were a cross-section group in terms of age, not unlike the population as a whole.
From 1939 to 1945 just about a million Canadians served in the armed forces. Most were between the ages of 18 and 35. Today data taken from veterans’ affairs shows some 600,000 are still alive; i.e., 40% have died. It’s a guess what the percentage alive today would be of the 12 million-plus Canadians living during World War II but a good one would be about 50%.
Meanwhile, an astonishing Angus Reid poll this week is timely on the aboriginal spending. It showed 49% of those polled feel the federal government will have no more obligation to natives after they achieve self-government.
There’s a staggering ignorance in that 49% figure. How could so many Canadians be unaware how overwhelmingly dependent the half-million status natives of Canada are on federal dollars? Or how scant the economic activity and resources are where most of the half-million live.
Self-government won’t come so easy for federal taxpayers. Beyond the $4 billion-plus of Indian affairs spending, another $1.5 billion is spent for health and other services by other federal departments, and close to another billion dollars goes to parents and seniors among aborigines in family allowances and old age security payments.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, November 24, 1991
ID: 13041779
TAG: 199111240183
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
COLUMN: Fisher Report


Someone has said Isaiah Berlin is the wisest man in the world. Recently he had something to say on our central dilemma, Quebecois nationalism.
Berlin is a philosopher whose renown came while he taught at Oxford University. Recently an interviewer, Nathan Gardels, asked him why “the new world order built from the rubble of the the Berlin Wall has alreay gone the way of the Tower of Babel.” He cited the nationalism rending the USSR and Yugoslavia.
What follows are bits from the interview (New York Review of Books, Nov. 21). Berlin repied to the above question: “In our modern age, nationalism is not resurgent; it never died. Neither did racism. They are the most powerful movements today.”
The great thinkers of the 19th century like Marx failed to see the potential in nationalism and racism. Rather, they foresaw the 20th century’s problems as dealing with “the imperial regimes of the great states.” If these tyrannies were broken and colonialism repulsed, the freed peoples “would live peacefully together.”
Berlin said that in the downfall of the empires, “no left-wing movement succeeded unless it went arm in arm with nationalist feeling.”
He extolled a philosopher of non-aggressive nationalism, one whose ideals he believes in – a German, Johann Herder, who “virtually invented the idea of belonging.
“Herder believed that just as people need to eat and drink, to have security and freedom of movement, so too they need to belong to a group. Deprived of this, they felt cut off, lonely, diminished, unhappy. To be human meant to be able to feel at home somewhere, with your own kind. Herder’s idea of the nation was deeply non-aggressive. All he wanted was cultural self-determination. He believed in a variety of national cultures, all of which could, in his view peacefully coexist.”
The interviewer asked: “What political structure can possibly accommodate the new age of cultural self-determination, preserve liberty and perhaps stem some of the impending bloodshed?”
Berlin replied: “Cultural self-determination without a political framework is precisely the issue now, and not only for the East. Spain has the Basques and Catalans; Britain has Northern Ireland; Canada the Quebecois; Belgium the Flemings; Israel the Arabs, and so on.”
After noting that the national goups contending in Eastern Europe “really do seem to loathe each other,” Berlin said, “Only in America have a variety of ethnic groups retained at any rate some part of their original culture and nobody seems to mind.”
This brought the interviewer to say that “even in America, a new multiculturalism movement has emerged in academia that seeks to stress not what is common, but what is not in the curriculum.”
Berlin agreed multiculturalism tries to reassure those who feel at a disadvantage in U.S. polyethnicity.
“But I believe the common culture which all societies deeply need can only be disrupted by more than a moderate degree of self-assertion on the part of ethnic or other minorities conscious of a common identity.”
The interviewer brought up Canada: “In grappling with the separatist Quebecois, Pierre Trudeau often invoked Lord Acton. He felt that wherever political boundaries coincided with ethnic ones, chauvinism, xenophobia and racism inevitably threaten liberty. Only individual constitutional rights – equal citizenship rights for all despite ethnicity – in a federal republic could protect minorities and individuals. `The theory of nationality,’ Trudeau quoted Acton as saying, `is a retrograde step in history.’ ”
Berlin replied: “I agree with (Lord Acton). Yet we have to admit that despite Trudeau’s efforts the Quebecois are still seeking independence.”
Berlin is 82. “I’ve lived through the worst century Europe has ever had. One can only hope the bloody tide will turn. At the present there don’t seem to be accepted minimum values that can keep the world straight. Let us hope someday a large minimum of common values will be accepted. Otherwise we are bound to go under.”
So will Canada if we can’t develop that “large minimum of common values.”

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, November 22, 1991
ID: 13041496
TAG: 199111220178
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
COLUMN: Fisher Report


There’s a goodly list of ex-ministers, damned by scandals in the public mind, who suffered for their real or alleged transgressions – for example, Francis Fox, Yvon Dupuis, Maurice Lamontagne, Guy Favreau, Hazen Argue, Bob Coates, Sinclair Stevens, Andre Bissonnette and Roch La Salle.
None of such sufferers was under a dark cloud more often and longer than John Munro, cleared this week by an Ontario judge of a huge battery of criminal charges.
At once, the left-leaning Liberal MP for Hamilton East from 1962 to 1984, and former minister of national health and welfare, of labor, and of Indian and northern affairs, declared his aim to be a Liberal candidate in the riding of Lincoln at the next election.
Munro is a bulldog, grimly seized by politics and determined to again be in the House and in cabinet.
Sheila Copps inherited Munro’s Hamilton stronghold in 1984, so he must again go to nearby Lincoln where he lost to Shirley Martin, now minister of state (transport), by just over 400 votes. Lincoln was previously hospitable to Grit retreads. In 1980 Bryce Mackasey came back to Parliament from there, not from his old Montreal riding. Martin will have a hard time keeping Lincoln from Munro.
Ahead of other Grit colleagues, Gene Whelan stood firmly with John Munro through his last four years of costly adversity. A lot of other Liberals skirted him as though he were an AIDS carrier. Last winter Munro told me he had already spent over $120,000 in legal fees. But worse than his financial troubles and what he saw as harassment by the RCMP was the fact that so many saw him as an unclean, crooked politician.
(I have something like a conflict of interest on Munro, for throughout the persistent downgrading he had from the media in his 18 years as a minister, I rated him one of Trudeau’s most successful ministers, not in the House, not with the public in the way of Whelan and Mackasey, but as an activist, a pusher of reforms in his portfolios.)
It is likely Whelan will join Munro and a handful of other former MPs and ex-ministers in seeking a return to the House and a place at Jean Chretien’s cabinet table. Whelan’s old bailiwick, Essex Windsor, is now held by the NDP’s jolly maestro of economics, Steven Langdon.
A chatty, former aide to a minister of the Trudeau era ran through the names of former ministers for me last week whom he was sure would try a comeback. They included Francis Fox, Celine Hervieux-Payette, John Roberts, David Collenette and David Smith.
There were even chances, he said, strange though it may seem, that Chretien’s election team would have such old Grit honorables as Paul Hellyer, Jean Luc Pepin, Ed Lumley, Jim Fleming, Jean-Jacques Blais, and Herb Breau.
Of course, aside from John Turner, the present Chretien caucus already has 10 ex-ministers in Herb Gray, Lloyd Axworthy, Roger Simmons, Bill Rompkey, Charles Caccia, Warren Allmand, Ralph Ferguson, Roy MacLaren, Bob Kaplan and Andre Ouellet. Only Kaplan and Turner have said they won’t run again.
In fact, if current Gallup ratings of the Liberals stand up through to a federal election, Chretien may be able to fill over half his cabinet with former colleagues.
You should note, media-wise, that we’re in a phase where (1) Mulroney is somewhat stalled at a very low level and with few reappraisals he may be lifting or dropping further, whereas (2) Chretien is being fiercely downgraded to the stage where his place in media contempt matches Mulroney’s, whereas (3) McLaughlin is planing nicely, not soaring, but gently rising with more journalists remarking what a nice contrast she makes to (1) and (2).
One hears more male reporters, not just the female ones, noting McLaughlin’s growing assurance on her feet and her growing understanding of issues.
Aside from Joe Clark, it is hard to distinguish any of the current ministry who stands out from the pack of 39.
This was confirmed on talking to the surest font of critical opinion on the cabinet: government backbenchers. The ones I spoke with are proud of Clark. Considering the economic gloom it surprised me that both Mike Wilson and Don Mazankowski still have their regard, and so has Benoit Bouchard.
Even among the Anglos there seems to be a growing appreciation of Mulroney’s favorite proteges, Bernard Valcourt (employment and immigration) and Jean Charest (environment). Who are the ones a backbenchers’ vote would roust from the cabinet? Without doubt the first four losers would be Marcel Masse (defence), Barbara McDougall (external affairs), Kim Campbell (justice) and Tom Siddon (Indian and northern affairs). Two unobtrusive ministers who rate well with these MPs are Robert de Cotret (secretary of state) and Otto Jelinek (national revenue).
It’s astonishing there is so little speculation anywhere, including the government backbench, about a cabinet shuffle, and who may be going down, say preparatory to quitting public life, or going out, say to the senate or a glory post. And there seems not a glimmer about “sure things” for the next elevations.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, November 17, 1991
ID: 13040771
TAG: 199111170189
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
COLUMN: Fisher Report


The word for the Dobbie-Castonguay committee is fiasco. And is it tragedy or farce? Surely a blend of both.
Whom should we blame (or praise) for the collapse of this road-show appraising Canada’s renewal as proposed by the Mulroney government?
The plain explanation is obvious. The oldest curse of our politics has beeen its relentless partisanship. And it has screwed up an effort with at least modest chances of progress. After all, this big committee, including its senators, was strong on experience and knowledge.
But once again the general good has been lost with the intrusion of party schemers, abusing a populace in want of coherence and common ground.
Are the roots of the fiasco in Dorothy Dobbie as an incompetent but domineering chair of a committee? That’s preposterous!
This was the prime point in Jean Chretien’s line, along with Joe Clark’s failures as ministerial sponsor of the process and some Tory patronage in the committee.
Has Clark made a fool of the committee, notably in the choice of Dobbie as co-chair? No. It’s ridiculous to evaluate the committee’s merits on the deeds or inadequacies of the MP for Winnipeg South even though partisan craft was there in her selection.
There are many Tory MPs who might have been sounder picks for experience, constitutional expertise and grace, say, Jim Edwards or David MacDonald or Ross Reid. But Mulroney and/or Clark wanted a symbolic woman co-chair, and aside from Quebec, Manitoba is the touchiest of the provinces on constitutional issues.
While Dobbie is smart, brisk and vigorous, she’s only been on the Hill for three years and believes her own worth was proven before she became an MP. Although she cruises at a subtler partisan level than Sheila Copps and Mary Clancy, like them she’s very much a party warrior.
If the choice of Dobbie was not astute, her companion in grief, Sen. Claude Castonguay, may have exaggerated her sharp edge with his diffident rumbling.
A co-chair of any parliamentary committee cannot ramrod its process beyond one arbitrary decision. Why? Each committee has a steering sub-group that meets privately to set agendas, scheduling, staff and research. It’s hypocrisy for Chretien and McLaughlin to shrill about domination by Dobbie when each has had a wily MP on the steering group in Andre Ouellet and Lorne Nystrom, one with 24, the other with 23, years in Parliament.
If you had followed a few hours of the committee’s work on the parliamentary cable channel, you knew Dobbie had not got in the way of either witnesses or colleagues through undue speech or the procedural obtuseness so common in such committees. No, she was just the handiest hook on which the the handlers of Chretien and McLaughlin decided to hang the committee or force it onto another course.
Chretien’s handlers have fretted that he, as the potential savior of Confederation and the next prime minister, has been way out on the rim of the crisis. McLaughlin fronts an uneasy caucus, split between those mostly from the West who want blunt talk to Quebec and those continuing the traditional NDP accommodation with it, even unto a constructive sovereignty association.
Intuition, as much as direct evidence, tells me the Liberals were most concerned with humbling Joe Clark whereas the NDP wanted to shunt the process away from repeating Spicer toward formalized, representative meetings to foreshadow a national constitutional conference.
Is there much merit in Joe Clark’s “alternate plan” of five grand gatherings? It’s more promising than the Dobbie-Castonguay exercise in travelling and listening but time’s running out.
If we are to continue as a nation with Quebec, the federal executive must soon take a draft Constitution that has been debated and approved in Parliament to those who govern Quebec and the other provinces. If this proves fruitless and near prospects for either agreement or delay are impossible, the prime minister must go to the people. The impatience everywhere grows gross and mean.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, November 15, 1991
ID: 13040502
TAG: 199111150106
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
COLUMN: Fisher Report


Where are the native people of Canada at?
On Oct. 29 a few MPs on a committee considering the economic integration of disabled persons were fascinated by a “tour de force” from Neil McDonald, a “cross-cultural consultant” from Winnipeg. He came to give them “an overview of the nature of the aboriginal situation in Canada” before they visited reserves to see the problems of disabled natives. McDonald’s not dour or a blame-spreader like so many “authorities” on aboriginal issues. He spoke for two hours. My precis is of a few of the main points he made.
– On a uniqueness without a global parallel: “As a nation we have said that some citizens have rights that other citizens do not have. That is extraordinary. No other people, the French, the English, the Greeks, the Jamaicans, as a people are in our Constitution. Aboriginal people have a special protection in the Constitution.”
– On the diversity of native people and their aims: “Indians across the land have a different agenda. The Micmac in Nova Scotia have a different agenda than the Swampy Cree in Northern Mantioba, than do the Kwakiutl in B.C. Not only that, the Indian people linguistically and ethnically are a very complex and differentiated group. There are 10 distinct Indian languages and at least 174 dialects are in use.”
– On the definition of an Indian in Canada: “It’s the Indian Act that makes and used to unmake Indians. They become registered and their descendants are the status registered Indians. The imposition of the Indian Act, with the band structure and extended families being forced to live with each other, is one of the main reasons for a good deal of the conflict within the community; an imposition from the outside which was opposite to the culture itself.”
– On the soaring numbers of status Indians: “In 1985 the federal government passed an act, Bill C-31, that . . . basically said that any Indians who lost their status involuntarily could now apply for reinstatement. It was estimated there were approximately 60,000 non-status Indians who might be eligible . . . and that 20% would probably want it. That would leave a total of 12,000. Applications came in at the rate of 500 a day. As a result Canada has from 100,000 to 140,000 new status Indians. This reveals how much it has meant to Indian people to be formally recognized as Indian.”
– On the natives’ demographics: “There are 500,000 status Indians in Canada; just under 200,000 are treaty; the others, of course, are registered Indians. To give you a fix, anthropologists estimate that when the Europeans arrived there were approximately 300,000 Indians living here.”
“Today in Canada there are about 33,000 Inuit. They too are formally in our Constitution.”
“But the largest group of native people today are the Metis . . . the product of relations between European males and Indian females. When we woke up with our new Constitution in 1982, there in it was the statement that affirmed the existing aboriginal rights of Indians, Inuit and Metis. The Metis were firmly in the Constitution.”
“At the moment a Metis person is basically one who self- identifies as a Metis person. There is no formal Canadian definition from a legal point of view although Alberta’s Metis Betterment Act of 1938 says anyone who can prove they have 25% Indian blood can declare themselves to be Metis or define themselves as Metis. There are indications there are upwards of 800,000 to one million people who are Metis in Canada, and they too are entitled to aboriginal rights, whatever those rights are finally determined to be.”
– What natives mean by self-government: “In none of their groups have the native people come to a consensus on the nature and definition of self-government but the light at the end of the tunnel for them is the notion of self-government. In simplistic terms it means having the authority to make decisions about your life and living, with the consequences – having the Indian Act out of the way and the devolution of all the things Indian Affairs does.”
“The political analogue, I think, is going to be the provincial level of government. Chief Mercredi made the interesting statement . . . that we’re not looking to set up 675 mini-states or mini-provinces. I think the nearest analogue is government shared with the federal Crown and they would operate in the same way as the provinces operate.”
“There will be some kind of national aboriginal governing body. In the early talk about self-government the chiefs rejected the idea of setting up another Indian Affairs of their own at the federal level . . . where all the cream and money will go to the top in the administration and the heavy structure, and once again the community will get nothing.
“I think you’re going to have a stronger community base and perhaps some kind of First Nations government, but that’s very nebulous at the moment.”
At that point, Jack Anawak, a shrewd Liberal MP and an Inuit, interjected:
“If you asked 20 different aboriginal groups the same question, you would get 20 different answers. There is no definition of self-government as such, and that should be understood by the people of Canada.”

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, November 13, 1991
ID: 13040181
TAG: 199111130097
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
COLUMN: Fisher Report


In self-defence, MPs often regret so few know about the informative and constructive work they do in House committees. It’s unreasonable to expect the public could know, given the profusion of committees, e.g., over 30 meeting this fall. Further, most committees deal with complex matters and hear or quiz experts. And often no one of the media is present.
My coverage of committees is almost wholly by reading. The transcripts are published from five days to a month after the event. Here are some samples from recent transcripts.
On Oct. 24 Eldon Thompson, head of Telesat Canada, was quizzed on what new technologies would do to future television service. This was in the committee on communications and culture, looking at the implications for Canadian unity.
“The long-term answer for Canada if you don’t want local broadcasters, Canadian networks, and the cable operator to be bypassed is to provide a 100-channel universe in Canada at some price that is affordable to Canadians. . . . the best compromise here would be to take all of the existing TV programming in the country, supplement it with some new specialty channels and new productions, and distribute it via satellite to cable head-ends and through cable to subscribers, and in the uncabled areas to allow people to put in one of the little receivers and get the 100-channel package from Canadian sources. . . . organize the Canadian broadcasting industry so that they can economically provide the equivalent package that Canadians will want to watch. It can be done. The base technology is digital telecommunications.”
On Oct. 10, Dr. Laurence Blendis of the Canadian Liver Foundation spoke at the sub-committee on health issues, on hepatitis B. He said epidemiological evidence showed the virus can be transmitted by bedbugs and mosquitoes. Jim Karpoff, an NDP MP, noted that AIDS investigators rule out ITS transmission by insects. Blendis did not contradict this but he emphasized that in transmitting hepatitis B “the ways can be insidious.”
He went on: “There is a much higher incidence of hepatitis B in the homosexual population and this is because homosexual sex is much more traumatizing than heterosexual sex. Homosexuals have many more lesions in relation to their sexual organs. Therefore the chance of sore vs. sore coming in close contact is much higher.”
On Oct. 29 witnesses from the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, the National Cancer Institute and Health & Welfare Canada spoke to the Status of Women subcommittee studying breast cancer. From the transcript one learns that Dawn Black, the NDP critic for women’s affairs, has a child with retinal blastoma. This affliction is a research object of a witness, Dr. Robert Phillips of Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. He described it as an inherited tumor that occurs in children. “It turns out,” he said, “that the same gene that causes retinal blastoma is very often mutated in breast cancer.”
Another witness, Dr. F.S. Rolleston, scientific evaluator at the Medical Research Council of Canada, was asked: “If one out of nine women experiences breast cancer . . . how many women proportionately experience a reproductive problem?”
Rolleston replied: “Depending on how you define infertility, somewhere around one in 10 couples have an identified problem of infertility.”
On Oct. 9, George Macdonald, director of the Canadian Museum of Civilization, sketched the exhibits planned by his staff to the communications and culture committee. He insisted his museum must project our history, notably through popular culture. The staff has chosen hockey as a major theme because it’s a unifier. He said: “It is one area in which one community admires the heroes of the other community and collects trading cards of them and they become familiar to young people of both communities. Perhaps that is also the one area in which Canada is most recognized abroad, so it is reinforced by an external view. . . . museums in the past did not become involved in the study of popular culture. Now we recognize that in an information-communication society, popular culture is binding people together within national boundaries. The other forms of academic culture tend to reinforce the traditions and histories but popular culture is that unifying force.”
Gerry Weiner is Mulroney’s doziest minister. On Oct. 9 he discussed his new Department of Multiculturalism with the House committee of the same name. Ever critical of the overdogs, NDP MP Margaret Mitchell wanted the facts on how Weiner was “multiculturalizing” the new department.
Weiner exulted: “Seventy three per cent of my staff and officials are women.”
“How many are women of color?” asked Mitchell.
There followed a batch of percentages from Weiner’s deputy (an ethnic female) for aborigines, disabled, visible minorities and women. Women constitute 61.5% of the department’s management categories. And then Weiner enthused over progress made and to come in overmatching other departments’ figures for “target groups.”
Mitchell cut him off. She wanted to know “why there are no visible minority people on your senior staff represented today.”
Taken aback, Weiner proclaimed his fairness. Why, four of his own staff of 10, including his chief of staff, were visible minorities. Then Mitchell let him go.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, November 10, 1991
ID: 13039754
TAG: 199111100135
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
COLUMN: Fisher Report


Remembrance. What’s in it? Who remembers? Whom do they remember?
Certainly those who were there do not forget. Likely, they recall those they knew, not the galvanizing war effort nor the deeds of Canadian squadrons, ships and regiments in fascist dictatorships.
In the ’60s I came to terms personally with the waning interest in those who served in our long, hard wars. It seemed bootless that those of the war generation should brood about the spreading indifference.
There’s a cluster of explanations for why we have less of an historical mind-set than say Americans, or the British or Israelis. We haven’t been good at enshrining by story, song or ceremony what it was all for – not making vivid or significant what the costs were in lives and futures lost.
One reason has been the official, federal policy that makes our past a mere bit in the rainbow of honor for all the ethnocultural heritages of the world.
A wing of this policy also posits Canadians as the perfect peacemakers, symbols of an unwarlike nation. Further, official Ottawa long felt it judicious not to foster much replumbing of the war years. To do so resurrects more fodder for fighting about our dualism.
And yes, our Anglo-Franco factor is divisive in vital issues, e.g., conscription, which sorely strained our unity in 1914-1918 and 1939-45.
One of my history teachers, the late Frank Underhill, had lived through years in the trenches in World War I. He hated war. He would say a nation is forged and continued by people who have done great things together, like building the CPR and opening the west, but he also argued that the greatest achievement of any prime minister was Mackenzie King’s. Often ignobly, obliquely if he could, King got Canada credibly through World War II with a populace split on both the worth and the scale of the war effort.
Some half-million of the Canadians in uniform during World War II are still alive – some 1/54th of us all. Their median age is 72. Another half-million are gone. In all, one in 12 of the 12 million Canadians registered in the ’41 census were in the army, navy or air force. Over 40,000 were killed and another 120,000 or so were wounded or made prisoners of war.
On balance the federal governments of the time and since were fair, and few countries have had comparatively more success stories of veterans in subsequent careers. (Though one must note that just this week a few MPs in the House demanded justice and full “veteran’s status” for merchant sailors still alive whose ships passed through seas infested by U-boats).
Once those of us in the generation of ’39 to ’45 put away the warm gloss of nostalgia over our memories my hunch is that most do what I do through this annual occasion of deliberate remembrance. My reveries are of those I knew who didn’t make it home.
Twenty-three did not come back to my home town; that was one in 100 of the population. High! Over half had been in Bomber Command. I knew 20 of the 23; a dozen had been schoolmates, four close friends. Let me thumbnail one.
He was known in our town as “Flatcar” Husak. As a kid tagging after older boys hopping freights in the CN yards, a flatcar was the only unit in a train he could manage to board. Flatcar’s parents came to the bush of Northern Ontario from Ukraine as World War I began. Just before the next war he and I worked underground together, mucking and tramming at a Pickle Lake gold mine. He had lively black eyes and a wiry, agile body. He was an excellent miner, a shrewd, witty companion, a partner you counted on.
A few years ago I jumped as a CTV special on Remembrance Day closed with a long pan of Flatcar’s spare headstone in the Canadian cemetery at Beny-sur-mer, near the Normandy beach he crossed as a rifleman with Winnipeg’s “Little Black Devils.” He was in his mid-20s and, as a comrade in his company who came back told me, “a good guy!”
There were thousands of Flatcars.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, November 08, 1991
ID: 13039519
TAG: 199111080080
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
COLUMN: Fisher Report


Along with farce there is pathos in the crippled course of the special joint committee on a renewed Canada, and no man better symbolizes the sad conundrum of our “deux nations” than the federalist senator, Claude Castonguay, co-chairman of the committee.
A TV snip this week caught the senator, lugubrious in mien and voice, fencing with reporters on the confusions of the committee, then noting that most of those who come to the committee want to address unemployment or taxes or farm prices, not the federal government’s proposals for a renewed Canada.
Few beyond Quebec and Ottawa know what a major doer in business and political administration Castonguay has been or the coup vis-a-vis Quebec for Brian Mulroney when he persuaded Castonguay to become a senator in aid of passing the GST bill and then to chair this last-chance committee.
An actuary, Castonguay is 62 and he’s been leading Laurentian Life Insurance, is a Companion of the Order of Canada, and has eight honorary doctorates from anglo universities. He’s served in our naval reserve, taught at university and chaired or been a member of a dozen federal or provincial commissions, committees or task forces. His business career has been successful, including directorates with nine major companies.
In the late ’60s he chaired a provincial royal commission on health and welfare and then implemented its main points as a minister in a Bourassa government.
He’s probably unique in Canada for his range of interests and a triple-headed reputation, first in financial and investment matters, second in his comprehension of and support for our national “social net,” and third, for participating fearlessly in the public life of both Quebec and Canada.
Without getting soppy about him one might describe Castonguay as a Quebecer who combines the talents of an Emmett Hall, a Gordon Robertson and an Ian Sinclair.
It’s not beneath Castonguay nor the 30 other parliamentarians to wander the country to listen to citizens’ opinions on our constitutional crisis but it is a huge waste of ability and time. The three major parties have put fine people on the committee. There’s never been a large parliamentary committee with so much good experience and astuteness, and the clock of our constitutional crisis is ticking down to the referendum deadline set by Premier Robert Bourassa for next October.
The government of Quebec wants no direct dealings with the Castonguay committee as a whole and continues to refuse to join the prime minister and the other premiers at the table for discussions on a reformed Constitution. Bourassa has paid tribute to Castonguay’s stature in Quebec by agreeing to meet him and his co-chairman at some time to discuss what the committee may recommend to Parliament.
Nevertheless, his minister in this field has just given notice that the proposals the Castonguay-Dobbie group are bearing are most unsatisfactory. “Even less than Meech Lake,” says Guy Remillard, the minister.
And so those who come to the hearings, whether experts like lawyers Peter Russell or premiers like P.E.I.’s Joe Ghiz or plain folks who sashay in to sound off, are working from proposals both the government of Quebec and its official (and very lusty) opposition dismiss as inadequate.
Now face a few other points about the “renewal” proposals that are undercutting the worth of the committee, beginning with the dark cloud of recession psychology and the abysmal unpopularity of Mulroney.
This latest package from Mulroney is far more complex than his Meech accord and its propositions would drastically alter the federal parliament, create a new national council of sorts that would “harmonize and co-ordinate” the economic policies of Canada, reapportion some powers and jurisdictions from Ottawa to the provinces, and add property rights to the Charter. In short, a colossal, bulging bag.
An acquaintance whom I rate as shrewd has been at many of the hearings. He thinks Castonguay and other federalists from Quebec on the committee are daunted by the scant goodwill or warmth in English Canada for Quebecers and their constitutional aspirations.
Clearly, Mulroney cannot just watch as the committee bumbles on or collapses (and the last is near). The scam of listening to the people should be ditched.
The people, even in Quebec, want the constitutional gambit speeded up or side-tracked in favor of economic and social imperatives.
The committee should counter any charges of elitism and “behind closed doors” by focusing on open meetings with committees of the nine provinces in the next 12 weeks, then redraft the proposals and give them to Mulroney and Bourassa.
Castonguay could serve his countrymen well by bearing them openly to the Quebec premier, saying this is the best we can do. Meanwhile Mulroney could take the initiative from Quebec by getting Parliament to pass the proposals as a motion, with a simple referendum proposition for all Canadians, yes or no!
One has to move-move-move in a crisis, particularly one attended by mass indifference and other priorities.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, November 06, 1991
ID: 13039199
TAG: 199111060064
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
COLUMN: Fisher Report


To those who live largely by or through books, the attack by MP Chuck Cook on book subsidies is maddening.
As one lost without books, let me caution the furious. I’ve noted Cook in his 12 years as MP for North Vancouver, and I shall take the occasion as I think he meant it: i.e., to force forward those who should make the case that governments must help those who write or publish books in Canada.
Cook is a businessman-lawyer of middle years with a reputation among MPs as an orthodox conservative who enrages earnest New Democrats. Certainly he’s not the egalitarian populist suggested by his line that the 5% who read books are being cozened by the 95% who don’t. (His figures!)
Cook even enjoys prodding lefties and do-gooders in his own caucus. Though not a silent MP he has not been openly assiduous or tried hard to impress anyone, least of all reporters.
One publisher trundled a box of recent books of all sorts to Cook’s office to show him the quality he was dismissing. I prefer to make the argument I think he sought by referring him and other readers to seven new books which came to me last week. Six of them run from very worthwhile (Knowlton Nash’s Visions of Canada) to the academic but useful (J.L.Granatstein and Norm Hillmer’s For Better or For Worse, the story of “Canada and the United States to the 1990s.”)
A seventh book is simplistic and trite on politics but it may sell well. It’s Circles of Power: The Most Influential People in Canada, by James Fleming, a magazine writer with Globitis, the affliction of grandeur which seizes so many Globe reporters of the post-Dic Doyle era. But this big book from Doubleday is larded with names and the gobbet opinions which the Toronto “cognoscenti” adore, and its print’s big, layout clean and headings profuse.
One book has a graphic title: Canadians Get the Politicians & Governments They Don’t Want. It’s from Stoddart, the author Heward Grafftey, a former caucus colleague of Cook.
Despite some muddle in his narrative, Grafftey’s purpose is to scorn the ethics of Brian Mulroney and his gross manipulations within the Progressive Conservative Party. Yes, the ex-MP also argues that neither Jean Chretien nor Audrey McLaughlin were democratically chosen as party leaders. Beyond this need for reform in selecting leaders, Grafftey feels Mulroney’s continuance in power as an interpreter of Quebec menaces Canada itself. For years Grafftey has been a prophet little honored in his party, perhaps because his electoral achievements were so astonishing – an Anglo Don Quixote elected seven times to Parliament by voters of a rural, largely francophone riding in Quebec.
Two other books of last week are worth any MP’s attention: Alan Borovoy’s Uncivil Obedience: The Tactics and Tales of a Democratic Agitator (Lester Pub.) and The Max Ward Story (M&S) by Max Ward (with help from Walter Stewart) and sub-titled A Bush Pilot in the Bureaucratic Jungle.
Here we have two honest, candid men with very different personalities, each a master-builder: the skeptical, wily, needling Borovoy of the civil rights movement; the sunny, single-minded Ward of our aviation industry.
Read Borovoy for fair democratic tactics and an excellent analysis of what’s wrong with civil disobedience in a country with so much opportunity for and profit in uncivil obedience. He devastates the arguments of the liberally-minded who excuse the use of armed violence by the Mohawk Warriors.
Max Ward’s life makes a good tale, from his childhood obsession in Edmonton with planes, through thousands of hours of flight and pilot teaching in World War II to the building of the finest airline most of us ever had a chance to fly on from the avails of a single plane. Wardair is no more but it was a wonderful try. The reasons why Max Ward had to sell out are almost all political – bureaucratic, regulatory politics – and surely object lessons for Tory MPs like Cook.
Just because it’s not in vogue to look back very far is a poor reason not to review the heroes and villains of our political past, and James H. Gray, an adjunct professor of history at the University of Calgary and an author of books which inspire entertaining documentaries like Red Lights on the Prairies or Booze, does it for the brainiest Tory prime minister Canada has had in his R.B. Bennett: The Calgary Years. Until very recent times Canadian political history seemed largely to be written about Grits (and mostly by Grits). This book is far more about Bennett’s role (and that of fellow New Brunswicker Max Aitken, later Lord Beaverbrook) in the exploitation of the West, including making millions, than on his career in Ottawa as MP, minister, party leader and prime minister. What’s astonishing today is the early and sustained, private generosity of Bennett. For example, for years he kept going a defeated MP from another party (who later became a founder of the CCF).
Knowlton Nash’s paperback from M&S, Visions of Canada, is a splendid, easy run through our constitutional dilemmas, edited from replies to similar oral questions put by the news anchor to 45 Canadians of note, from PBS’s Robert McNeil to Lise Payette to Oscar Peterson to Marjorie Bowker. There’s a careful, hopeful conclusion by Nash to much good information and many strong opinions on our crisis.
All these books confound Chuck Cook’s line.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, November 03, 1991
ID: 13038809
TAG: 199111030177
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
COLUMN: Fisher Report


The sweetest anniversaries are of events with dubious hopes which turn out far beyond the expectation, as was clear within a year from the start of the Sun 20 years ago Friday.
The notable politicking of that October was the great campaign and an electoral sweep by Bill Davis in following John Robarts as Tory premier, the determined work of David Lewis, the federal NDP’s new leader, in rooting the Waffle out of his movement, and the clear collapse of Pierre Trudeau’s immense popularity out of the October crisis of 1970 and his April-December marriage to Margaret Sinclair in March.
Into such political textures fell a journalistic bombshell: The Toronto Telegram was to die.
How sweet it is to recall quite self-centeredly, as I do today, the fortnight before and the few months after the launch of the Sun without even nicking at the several veterans of dailies and journalism who warned me off this “crazy venture” (as one put it). Even the Tely’s publisher, who liked the founders, told me to figure the tabloid’s life in weeks.
Once the news was out in mid-October, 1971, that Beland Honderich of the Star was paying John Bassett $10 million for the Telegram’s circulation list in return for the death of the paper, there was bitterness and anxiety among Tely employees, not least because the diagnosis from on high blamed inflexible union demands. This explanation I didn’t fully accept, and long hindsight tells me now it was balderdash.
For me, the closing was not the personal disaster it was for so many full-time employees. I freelanced from Ottawa and had other lines of income in TV and the academe, and standing offers to teach at two colleges. And many jobs were available at my occupation of librarianship.
But I also had savored doing a regular piece on politics that ran for Toronto readers. So, as the Tely was counted down to its demise at October’s end I was conning my options like hundreds of others. (I was 52.)
I had had no first-hand acquaintance at the Tely with the founding Sun troika of Doug Creighton, Peter Worthington and Don Hunt. As I recall the late Peter Reilly tagged them for me then as “a sweet-talker, a right-wing nut and a penny-cruncher.” But they were going to have a go, and Worthington in urging me said they’d both pay what they could and never interfere with my copy. What clinched my choice, however, was more revulsion than enthusiasm.
Revulsion over the success of the genius and arch-hypocrite among newspaper barons, Honderich of the Star – he who’d done the classic prating for a vigorous, federal competition policy, an evangelist for choices and many voices for readers and viewers.
One of Honderich’s worshippers, Grit finagler Keith Davey, was still cresting from chairing Senate hearings on the mass media, but as the Tely died he matched Honderich in hypocrisy, fading from the public forum as his hero – abetted by Walter Gordon, another hero – bought the Star’s evening rival out of existence.
Ugh! I couldn’t imagine writing a Star column for such a bully (he’d just fired Peter Newman as editor). Nor could I believe there wouldn’t be limits on my content from this anti-monopoly crusader. And I hated to think of Toronto and, to a marked extent, English language journalism being dominated by Honderich’s instrument, with the Tely gone and the Globe and Mail sliding off to its national destiny.
So to the Sun! There those of us who joined up soon knew Creighton was a master at dealing and promoting, Worthington had his true mission and a fitting hair-shirt, and Hunt could stretch dollars.
Last week at a public occasion I first met a speciality columnist for the Ottawa Citizen. When he heard I was with the Suns he blurted: “But they’re such reactionary rags?” And I could be gentle, and suggest he reflect on what had happened to Honderich’s costly Metro monopoly and was happening to his chain’s monopolies in Edmonton, Calgary, and now, Ottawa. It is a happy 20th anniversary, with some pleasurable malice for the morally and politically certain denigrators.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, November 01, 1991
ID: 13038565
TAG: 199111010093
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
COLUMN: Fisher Report


Whatever the merit of “the prosperity agenda,” this latest of Brian Mulroney’s government has won scant acclaim and will earn dwindling attention through its long consultation phase.
Why is this so? Surely because the urgency of our economic woes demands a more intense and authoritative response.
It’s easy to group answers on the negativism toward the “agenda” under two headings – an unpopular government, a bag of troubles – and in one missing element.
The latter is any ministerial candor through mea culpas about boobs such as coming too late and too slowly to the war on deficits, debt and a bloated federal bureaucracy.
Firstly, this project comes too late in the term of a most unpopular government.
Also, it repeats the now obnoxious exhortations that began with Michael Wilson’s first economic review in the late fall of 1984. So it’s stale; it’s retreading. And the opposition is right to scoff at the crass, electoral timing in the attenuated scheduling of the process.
Secondly, the post-Meech fad for public consultation is also suborning the the “prosperity” gambit. We have a previous overload of woes for which prolonged public chatter has been prescribed.
An obvious and complex example is Joe Clark’s constitutional circus. Large within its proposals is a new, federal economic mandate already causing more excitement than the distinct society proposition. I refer to the conception of Ottawa as “co-ordinator and harmonizer” of the respective budgetary policies of the provinces.
In itself, the economic assay within this “Canada round” has heavily engaged our 11 major mandarinates. And it really has a priority far ahead of the analyses (with their very soft proposals) in the two papers sponsored last Tuesday by ministers Michael Wilson and Bernard Valcourt.
Also, week after week more cases of economic disaster pop up. Each province has its Sault Ste. Maries, Kapuskasings and Matanes – towns and cities on the rocks that have flourished on pulp, paper, lumber, metals and grains.
Such immediacy makes frightened people fill local arenas with indignation. Wilson and Valcourt may propose scores of community forums to discuss their papers but don’t bet they’ll find many participants for a dual dialogue on competitiveness and learning.
The first theme, competitiveness, according to Wilson’s paper, seems to be the stuff, first for particular industries or businesses, second for individual companies. The first group has a host of organizations – chambers, boards, councils, associations, sectoral task forces, etc. – most of which have been briefing, panelling and lobbying about their ills and needs for years. Press gallery mail boxes fill with such bumf.
Learning, the second prosperity theme, sets out to make urgent the the training of more people for jobs that demand more understanding and use of technology. Ever since the Sputnik scare of the 1950s this theme has had national vogues, off and on, and these founder in the morass of our extensive, costly “progressive” systems of provincial education.
The consequences of this oscillating concern over three decades has been ever more guidance counsellors, psychologists and sociologists on school board and college staffs and higher per-student costs than any public education system in the western world. Despite the expertise and money in play, the dropout rates stay high, the female students still eschew maths and sciences, and too few of either gender go on to engineering or high technology.
But the most immediate and damaging undercutting of the “prosperity agenda” came the day after its launch, from the Economic Council of Canada with its long, argumentative 28th annual report, titled A Joint Venture: The Economics of Constitutional Options.
The ECC paper in part examines the economic consequences of five constitutional options Canada may take up. A fascinating subject! And a life or death matter for us as citizens.
The first option is more dynamic than its label, “the status quo,” might suggest, because the ECC posits that far more effective economic management is possible within the Constitution we now have (just what the “prosperity agenda” is after).
The other options the ECC examines are: moderate decentralization; radical decentralization; sovereignty association; and confederation of regions.
You hardly need to guess the furor-maker in the lot is the sovereignty association option (“where Quebec is assumed to sever all fiscal connections with Ottawa while the other nine provinces stay with the status quo”).
Although just five pages are given wholly to the sovereignty option, suggestive comparisons of the effects of the various options are woven through the report. Some of the items such as dividing the federal debt and subsequently servicing it promise to raise far more storm than the concise and flatly phrased summation in the report would indicate.
My point in this welter of woes and gambits is this: However sensible it is not to have a federal election until Quebec’s on side or voted out, the Mulroney government should not complicate the troubles with repetitious, bootless exercises like the “prosperity agenda.”

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, October 30, 1991
ID: 12472971
TAG: 199110300158
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
COLUMN: Fisher Report


Might MPs together put on a better show for citizens who by and large are most critical of them?
Don’t bet on it. This month ordinary MPs have been talking a lot in the House and in a few of its committees on ways to make the public think better of them and Parliament. Such concerns have had precedents in most parliaments since the 1950s but this time, as the agonizing spins forth from the following developments, it dwells much on TV.
Firstly, the Spicer commission’s surveying showed many Canadians are disgusted with the raucous, nasty partisanship of the House.
Secondly, MPs’ and media attention keeps returning to a recent “sexist” slur on Sheila Copps and a “racist” slur on the black NDP MP Howard McCurdy. One was uttered in the House and withdrawn by a Tory MP, Bill Kempling; the other was shouted, then withdrawn with apologies by Jack Shields, also a Tory. (Kempling has been an MP for 19 years, Shield for 11.)
Remarkably, they are two of only three MPs in the current lot of 295 who served in life-risking action for Canada. Kempling was an RCAF pilot in three World War II theatres, including flights in Burma against Japanese forces. Shields was an infantry soldier with the Princess Pats in Korea.)
In their remarks many of the MPs seem hurt, confused and very defensive. They muse a lot, especially about the media and TV’s part in affecting their behavior and public repute. The most interesting House speech so far, made by government whip Jim Hawkes on Oct. 25, was very deliberate. His blunt theme was that only by the collective agreement of all MPs that the Speaker must enforce the “two basic rules of this place . . . respect and relevance” could Parliament function well and regain significance and respect.
There was this auxiliary in Hawkes’ speech and its substance was not challenged by subsequent comment from Liberals and New Democrats.
He said: “Ultimately we have had the negative perception in part because of the potency of television and the decision many years ago . . . to put television in the House. In many ways we have a rotten journalistic process in this country. It is a rotten, rotten, rotten journalistic process, that depends on advertisers’ dollars in large measure, which believes that news must be encapsulated in a mini-drama with a hero and a villain in every situation. The most discrepant view gets attention with the most common, well-vetted view. They get equal time. There is a perception over time of leaders in our society. There are high-profile political leaders, but also doctors, dentists, clergymen, policemen and boy scout leaders. They are all being denigrated because the media give prominence to aberrant behavior by a member of a class and they do their thing which is to create a mini-drama with a hero and a villain.”
At a side venue, the House management committee is hearing witnesses about televising Parliament, more particularly on whether and how committees should be covered by TV cameras.
The top official of the House, Clerk Robert Marleau, warned the MPs that if they did not institute a quite costly “electronic Hansard record” (such as the House has) for committees and just let the crews in to shoot whatever they choose, all controls would be lost, including protection from libel actions and avoiding their own circus antics so as to get “a clip” on the news. The costs of coverage by House cameras would be high because there are so many committees meeting, often at the same time. Further, there isn’t a bank of channels on cable for airing such proceedings and every survey of viewers for such proceedings finds abysmally low figures.
CBC producer Elly Alboim made clear to the committee that TV news had to have the same access to committees and the right to report them as print journalists have.
“Television is here to stay,” he told the MPs. “All-news television is here to stay. . . . If you exclude one class of journalist you exclude the most important information medium whether you like it or not. You deprive people of an opportunity to see and hear this material for themselves. . . . The country out there is not a very happy place. I’m not sure further restrictions and creating some sort of elite discourse that does not appear on mass communication devices is particularly appropriate.”
Michel Vastel gave the MPs contrary advice. A biographer of Trudeau and Bourassa, he’s the top French language journalist in Ottawa. He argued that TV has no business covering parliamentary committees because it trivializes and caricatures political discussion. “TV does not merely need action, it needs interaction. By definition it is an adversarial medium; therefore it needs opposition; the more violent the opposition the better TV it makes.”
Unlike the adversarial House at its work, committees are or should be consensual, seeking the best resolution to a problem or a bill. The omniscient all-day TV news both scalps off the most controversial and extreme in what are quite complex matters and deludes the people that they know and understand the issues.
There’s much in what Vastel said. One senses most MPs would accept his analysis of televised politics; nevertheless the Alboims of TV will win, and in committees as in the House, MPs will play TV’s game.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, October 27, 1991
ID: 12472182
TAG: 199110270178
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
COLUMN: Fisher Report


Brian Mulroney would be an excellent secretary general of the UN. In our vituperation most of us overlook his talents, including vigor, purpose and confidence. Canadians used to discount the substantial impact the poise and ideas of Pierre Trudeau and Lester Pearson as prime ministers made on presidents, prime ministers and chancellors of other countries.
Also, few appreciate how inadequate most of the secretaries general have been, in particular the incumbent, Perez de Cuellar, and his predecessor, Kurt Waldheim.
Whither the government and the Tory caucus in Ottawa if Mulroney gets the UN post? (I think that result is about a 5-1 shot.) It’s about even whether Clark or Mazankowski would be picked by caucus as the pro tem prime minister and party leader. Much would depend on the once sizable leadership ambitions of Michael Wilson and Perrin Beatty.
The most unpredictable short-run factor would be the reaction of the Quebec Tory MPs. If a dozen or so bolted to the BQ and Lucien Bouchard – government gone!
Aside from that serious, even desperate prospect for Canadian unity, Mulroney’s departure might have advantages. It would brighten English-Canadian outlooks, in losing a much despised PM from Quebec who has been seen as having to cater to Quebec.
However gussied up it is in jargon and sloganeering, there’s not much that hasn’t been obvious to any close observer of Canadian mores in the Porter study of Canada’s competitiveness in a hard, hard world.
The late John Deutsch, an optimistic economist and first head of the Economic Council of Canada, foreshadowed almost every element in the Porter study 30 years ago. He knew we had built an affluent and highly expectant consumers’ society mostly by exploiting our natural resources and selling the products, largely in the U.S. He knew we had to go far more to science, technology, innovation and training. The reckoning Deutsch could foresee is at hand.
How long prosperity for Toronto Life or the Ottawa Senators as the farmers and miners and loggers and haulers and papermakers fade out? It’s become the brute reality we evade. This is a gap even more scary than the one between English and French Canadians. It’s the one widening between the costs of producing our grains, ores, metals, oil, gas, pulps, paper and lumber and the prices they fetch in world markets as more of the same products from other countries push in.
Ironically, this brutality hits equally both Quebec and the rest of Canada. Either we pull together and match the competition or slide away from affluence, evading the problem as we devise more and more rights and redress and laws for our past and current social ills.
Your MPs spent much of last Wednesday in a most unfruitful, evasive debate on a government motion regarding better behavior in the House by MPs, individually and as caucus members. Unfruitful because only two speakers stayed away from partisan shots; evasive because not a single speaker dealt with the real array of criticism, for example in Fife and Warren’s new book, A Capital Scandal, about their self-indulgence at the taxpayers’ cost.
Two MPs have responded to the campaign against the lavishness of parliamentary pensions led by David Somerville and his National Citizens’ Coalition. That by the veteran Tory brawler, Don Blenkarn, is both a vigorous attack on Somerville for lining his own pockets on the back of his anti-pension campaign and a summary with tables of the retiring allowances act, including its financial status and the beneficiaries (by number) over the past 40 years.
The response of John Harvard, a first-term Grit from Winnipeg, is a private members’ bill “to review and limit MPs’ pensions.” If it is enacted no former MP could receive his pension until age 60, nor could a former MP on the federal payroll also draw the pension. The latter would be very rough on many judges, once Grit MPs. This is a good bill but one without a hope.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, October 25, 1991
ID: 12471592
TAG: 199110250105
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
COLUMN: Fisher Report


This is a short appraisal of the federal Liberals from what one sees of their leader and caucus on Parliament Hill.
Is this useful, given the distance to an election or that there may not even be a united Canada by such time? Polls have made the Liberals – and also many others – very sure that Jean Chretien will be governing Canada by or during 1993. Also, two recent performances have prompted me.
First came nationalist Mel Hurtig. (See his best-seller.) He can’t pin down the Liberals on where they stand under Chretien. Is this a truly nationalist party or a neutralist one, perhaps even pro-American and pro-business? Despite past links, Hurtig doubts the Grits, e.g., whether they’ll kill the free trade agreement. He cannot make out their vision.
Second, Sheila Copps, Chretien’s deputy, is shrilling after Preston Manning and the Reform Party. She asks where he stands, and, not surprisingly, finds he stands for bigotry, racism and a ripping away of our social net of health and welfare programs.
A question’s obvious. On what base is Copps’ own righteousness? What will the Liberals’ program be once the evil Mulroney is swept out? Does she symbolize the calibre of a fresh Grit cast?
Let’s begin with the leader and his merits.
At this stage Chretien and his handlers seem in charge of the caucus and the party, although the latter is far from its pre-Mulroney vigor in Quebec. Unlike John Turner, Chretien doesn’t have a niggling, let alone a split caucus. He contrasts sharply with Mulroney in appearance and vocabulary, but as a federal warrior since 1963 he shares his rival’s dilemma of being such a familiar caricature, ripe for ridicule.
Chretien is unlike Mulroney and much like Audrey McLaughlin in his handlers or staff being so pivotal to his functioning as leader. He supplies the energy, the go-go, the brash guy’s confidence, and the easy litany of past activities. His handlers, led by Eddie Goldenberg, are long loyal apparatchiks, not prominent (or otherwise) members of the caucus.
Aside from framing partisan strategy for Parliament, one cannot pinpoint a single MP who is central to the Chretien group or the party in shaping a Liberal vision and program -not Herb Gray or Lloyd Axworthy or Andre Ouellet or Roy McLaren, the ablest of the eight former ministers who’ll be at hand at cabinet-making time. Paul Martin, Jr. is active, not quiet or sulking, but he isn’t a major influence with the handlers and Chretien.
The pre-1988 members of the caucus are a rather poor lot, symbolized by loudmouths like Copps, John Nunziata and Sergio Marchi. This is a harsh summation, given that this bag has able MPs like David Dingwall, Don Boudria and Russ McLellan and a scattering of former Trudeau ministers, but it’s a fair one. The caucus intake in 1988 was good in talent and purposes, notably from Ontario, the Maritimes and Manitoba. Remember that Chretien has only nine MPs from Quebec and save for Martin and Ouellet there’s little future utility in them. He is without an MP in Saskatchewan and has just John Turner in B.C. and a recent Tory, David Kilgour, in Alberta. (There are a score of Grit MPs from the Atlantic provinces and 43 from Ontario.)
Despite the polls and Mulroney, the present cabinet is far from the worst in modern memory. A rough comparison of its 18 ministers from Ontario, Manitoba and east of Quebec, with the prospects already at hand for Chretien from such bailiwicks tells me that in this sense a Liberal cabinet could be as good or better. After granting this, one should acknowledge that few of the best choices for Chretien stand out as engaging, public personalities or as bearers of any notable ideas, other than Lloyd Axworthy, the pole star of the left in the caucus and the party.
Policies? Programs? One understands Mel Hurtig’s dilemma. If anything, the Liberal message is that we are your only certain alternative to the incumbent charlatan and his hard-hearted crew.
One appreciates why Chretien and company are cautious about the constitutional crisis with the “rest of Canada” so fed up with Quebec and Quebecers so damned edgy.
But would this Liberal government intervene on a large scale in a battered economy? Is there a plan for handling our huge debt burden? What would it seek in federal-provincial relations regarding equalization payments or caps on funding for joint programs? Will it jettison the free trade agreement? And the GST? Would it be as determinedly independent from the U.S. and as idealistic in international affairs as Axworthy postulates for the party? Has it a national policy for education? Is it as much in favor of wide-open immigration and the very generous treatment of refugees as the criticism of the present government suggests?
At this time all the answers have to be vague. Let me sum up the Liberals this way as our next governors.
They haven’t yet anything beyond the banal in vision for Canada, and are unlikely to fashion one before 1993.
They will not give us a brilliant cast headed by a super-leader but it should neither be much worse nor much better than what we have.
While their present policy slate is essentially a rather negative insistence that they can do far better than the Tories in every field, they are not likely to be a marked change from their predecessors except in the public personality of Chretien himself.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, October 23, 1991
ID: 12470934
TAG: 199110230099
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
COLUMN: Fisher Report


We are being asked, by some in fright, by others rhapsodically, to visualize the constitutional and economic significance of three provinces with NDP governments.
Taken together the population of the three is more than half our 27 million-odd total; thus through the “seven provinces and 50% plus of the population” rule for the approving most constitutional change, Messrs. Rae, Romanow and Harcourt in concert may block any changes, or with the backing of four other premiers, even determine the changes.
The enthusiasts for social democracy and organized labor see the fresh triad as a grand augury for:
a) The entrenchment of a social charter in the Constitution alongside the Charter of Rights and Freedoms;
b) A hard press on Ottawa to return to the pre-Wilson regime of federal equalization payments to the provinces, both in their relative scale and without the penalty cap the feds have put on payments to Ontario, Alberta and B.C.;
c) An ever stronger likelihood the next federal election will be fought around the issue of killing the free trade agreement with the United States.
If you scan the dailies of September, 1972, you would see somewhat similar prognoses of the profound consequences for the federation with three NDP premiers, Ed Schreyer, Allan Blakeney, and Dave Barrett.
(There was little talk in 1972 on the Constitution because Quebec under young Premier Robert Bourassa had so recently negated Pierre Trudeau’s Victoria Charter, leading the prime minister to take the Constitution off stage in the federal-provincial relations drama.)
Nothing resembling an alliance vis-a-vis Ottawa or federal issues developed between Schreyer, Blakeney and Barrett in the three years before Barrett lost office. Remember, those were the years when David Lewis, the most dominating personality in CCF-NDP history, led the federal party. He was complemented at the time by his son Stephen, the voluble NDP leader in Ontario.
David Lewis was not only the most assured and didactic politician of his time on issues of national policy, from the federal election of 1972 to 1974 he led a caucus which held the balance of power in a minority Parliament. Despite such authority and his self-assurance David Lewis could not harness his three premiers in teamwork on either economic or constitutional issues. His personal relations were quite cool with Schreyer and very distant with Barrett. The latter bridled at the Lewis influence in the party and he took a distinctive B.C. line in national affairs.
As for Blakeney, much more the intellectual match of Lewis, he and his federal leader did not see eye to eye on several major issues of the period, in particular over federal oil and gas policy. Schreyer was one of the three premiers most deeply intent on national issues but as his appointment a few years later as Governor General suggests, he had empathy with the views and policies of the Liberal prime minister.
Today the federal New Democrats do not have a David Lewis, not even a leader of Broadbent’s strength, to put together and hold a single party strategy, plus tactics, for either the constitutional crisis or even to fight the recession. For example, both Harcourt and Romanow, and even Treasurer Floyd Laughren for Premier Rae in Ontario, are talking frugality in office and the restraint they must abide with because of their deficits and debt burden. This doesn’t accord well with the expressed demands of national leader Audrey McLaughlin and her caucus for ever more federal spending, except perhaps where it would devolve more funds to the provinces.
Few of rank or influence in the NDP today will address their unspoken misfortune – a national leader whom they now realize is a near zero. Their slight hopes that McLaughlin will lead the federal party upwards now centre on fighting the next federal election around women’s issues. An improbable prospect!
There seems an assumption in Ontario’s capital that Premier Rae is to be the idea man and catalyst for the three NDP premiers, notably at the table of first ministers. Aside from factors of personality or the range of feelings about Ontario in the West, which range from disinterest to doubts to dislike, such optimism overlooks the far greater experience Harcourt and Romanow have in turbulent politics and with high responsibilities. Further, each has prime concerns which are not yet Rae’s; for example, with the bleak future of their largely resource-based economies.
Aside from Harcourt and Romanow being more in the political centre than the federal NDP caucus, the three NDP premiers do have similar personal attributes of decency, stability, public candor and common sense. These men are not tricksters or egomaniacs or radicals. Also the West has not had stout leaders with clear, critical appraisals of the federal roles since Peter Lougheed and Allan Blakeney left first ministers’ affairs. And although Rae won’t even try for the rapport which David Peterson had with Premier Bourassa, he’s already shown an unexpected pragmatism in the major provincial issue of government auto insurance.
Surely the best break in Rae-Harcourt-Romanow for those of us who want to keep Quebec in Canada, but not at any cost, is their common sense and moderation rather than a shared, socialist ideology and party.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, October 20, 1991
ID: 12470091
TAG: 199110200194
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
COLUMN: Fisher Report


Here are two recent statements about our largest city.
“Toronto’s a socialist bastion,” writes Sun foreign affairs columnist Eric Margolis with frustration, not pride.
“Canada is Toronto-centred, always has been . . . Canada is really an Ontario creation. Ontario is the centre of the country, and Toronto is the centre of Ontario.”
So said Harold Horwood, author and former newspaper editor in Newfoundland to Knowlton Nash. (See latter’s new book Visions of Canada.)
Horwood flatly credited Ontario originally and Toronto, later and specifically, with articulating what national feeling has existed in Canada. It certainly wasn’t spawned in Quebec or the Atlantic provinces.
Both in abstract and concretely, both opinions of Toronto, one on Toronto’s political quality, the other on Toronto’s national role, have much to them, underlying what seems obvious but is little analyzed.
Bluntly put, there a fascinating duality emerging in the crisis over the Constitution. The duality is not the traditional one of two nations and languages warring in the bosom of a single state.
Yes, the crisis began and continues and may break us over Quebec and language. But is Quebec still the central element in the crisis? Or is it the social democratic vision of Canada? This vision and its roles and purposes for federal government comes out of the Toronto which Margolis and Horwood see.
The Toronto which Margolis splutters over is probably best symbolized singly by avuncular Peter Gzowski. It’s the Toronto of the perennially conscience-pricked Star. (Heavens, not the Sun!)
It’s the Toronto that advances the genuine and imperative Canada as kindly, gentle, humane, so much better than the United States. It insists our country and people have been and should be dedicated to a quite collectivist Canada, to ongoing programs which allay regional disparities, maintain a thorough system and even standards in health, welfare, and pension programs, and national services like the CBC, the old Canada Post, and the trains there used to be.
Ontario Premier Bob Rae speaks for this Toronto when he insists we must have a social charter in the Constitution.
This Toronto, caught in their different words by Margolis and Horwood, is determined the federal government must be a national government and have powers which over-arch the provinces, which rejects special status for any province, which has little time for “asymmetrical federalism.”
Such aspirations and what must and must not be are taking us far past addressing the once crucial question: What does Quebec want? And past maundering over the meaning of “distinct society” or the differences between “sovereignty” and “independence.”
This Toronto radiates a message to the country but particularly to the Quebecois: This is our vision and the program for Canada; we shall not throw them away; our national feeling is as worthy as yours; and if you really think well on it, better for yours.
The self-aware centrality of this Toronto as English Canada is sustained by its dominant, intermeshing groups of editors, producers, reporters, writers, academics and artists. You know the roster, from the A and B of Atwood and Berton to the S of Salutin to the W of Walkom and White.
These disciples or heirs of that “gentle patriot,” the late Walter Gordon, insist on a federal government which acts as a national government for all. It must exercise control or have the ultimate sanction on the economy, the social net, the environment and culture and communications.
To see this Toronto side of our crisis take a look at a new paperback from Doubleday, English Canada Speaks Out, assembled by Toronto historians Jack Granatstein and Ken McNaught. It has 29 essays: Twenty are by Ontarians, 15 of whom work in Toronto or serve outlets there; one comes from an Anglo Quebecer, two from Maritimers; and six from westerners (three of whom have been New Democrats).
Does this Toronto truly speak for most Canadians outside Quebec? Sometimes I think it does. And if it does, it’s bye-bye Quebec.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, October 16, 1991
ID: 12468844
TAG: 199110160067
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
COLUMN: Fisher Report


MPs and senators as individuals and in their caucuses will detest A Capital Scandal by Robert Fife and John Warren, published by Key Porter Books.
Despite its blanket indictment of them they should not reject it out of hand. The cumulated image it builds is more the reality and the public’s perception than they realize.
This narration of the deceits and the costliness in parliamentary affairs spares neither prime ministers nor unknown backbenchers in its remorseless parade of gross examples and pathetic detail. The authors hammer their theme of “Politics, patronage and payoffs – why Parliament must be reformed.”
I find theirs is a crueler witness to disaster from our partisan politics than that to be found in three new political books already selling well – John Sawatsky’s biography of Brian Mulroney (to 1984) and the “peas in a pod” assaults on everything Mulroneyish in the The Betrayal of Canada and The Quick and the Dead, by Mel Hurtig and Linda McQuaig respectively.
Although the scathing tone of A Capital Scandal had me praying for just one kindly anecdote on MPs or a few judgments of their motives or conduct with a sunny side, I do wish Canadians by the hundreds of thousands will read this book, then brace with critical questions their MPs and the local and national officials of the parties.
Why such a wish? Well, some acceptance of a personal fault. I have followed the House of Commons and the roles of MPs longer and more closely than anyone else around. Even so, I was taken aback at the case Fife and Warren make that big reforms of Parliament are imperative. The sum of their material on our political system as it works is devastating.
The best stuff in their assault has been taken from the actual budgets of the House and the Senate, documents which are never openly circulated. Fife is the Sun bureau chief in Ottawa; Warren, long a CBC broadcaster, is simply the best informed journalist on how Parliament works.
Their joint product is clear and expressive, and maybe too openly contemptuous.
The opening chapter’s cynical title, “The Higher Calling,” sets the tone of the book. The first tale is about the falseness in the lines MPs spin at home about their hard work and assiduity in Ottawa. It portrays a Tory MP whose newsletters stress self-sacrifice and his dedication to constituents without revealing he’s an addict of overseas junketing. Then the narrative races through a score of brief examples of waste, bluff and slavish partisanship, from John Turner’s refusal to give up his seat although he avoids Ottawa, to the ostracism and isolation which befalls any MP who bucks the party line in public.
This quick catalogue of deceit, extravagance and the domination by the leaders and their handlers is interspersed with profuse evidence from polls that citizens are fed up with the prime minister, the government and MPs and with mindless partisanship. Although citizens are turning to regionalism and to new parties they long for honest leadership and candid politics.
Fife and Warren make the incredible rise in the costs of Parliament understandable through a sketch of how services and facilities for MPs and senators grew, accelerating from the Diefenbaker days of half a secretary per MP and a pay packet of $10,000 a year to staffs of four to five and a salary and expense allowances of some $100,000 a year. A proliferation in posts and titles in the House and the caucuses has given many some extra money.
We get details on why the prodigal pension plans for MPs and senators are the most generous in the world. We are led through the growth of various parliamentary associations which provide an unreal scale of first class travel and entertainment in the name of study and liaison with foreign legislators.
There’s much on the generous, free air travel for MPs and their close ones. (I admit the current travel extravagances embarrass me because I was the MP who led the first campaign for air passes in the early ’60s.)
The book has literally hundreds of examples of patronage and cosy inter-party deals, from the grand to the petty, from Stephen Lewis to Ed Broadbent.
This rife history goes back beyond the Trudeau years, underlining that abuse of the system to benefit friends of the important and key backers of the parties is not essentially a Mulroney or Tory matter but intrinsic inside our politics.
The authors demonstrate, through mention of the care in spending and in serving citizens that CCF-NDP MP Stanley Knowles once gave his peers, that today’s New Democrats from leader to backbenchers are as quick as Tories and Grits in grabbing extras and perquisites. This may be the “crunch” message of A Capital Scandal: That MPs of all parties, singly and in their groupings, fail as exemplars of frugality and abominators of extravagance.
Although Canada is far on the road of huge, annual governmental debts and crippling interest costs, harangued by our leaders and their followers that our national cupboard is figuratively bare, on the Hill it is still do as we say, not as we do.
This bleak litany indicates that parliamentary pompousness and partisan subterfuges insulates our prime political institution, and it ends with proposals for reform, to which we’ll turn another day.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, October 13, 1991
ID: 12467978
TAG: 199110130108
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
COLUMN: Fisher Report


If an issue or cause has never caught the fancy of major interest groupings it is ignored or gets only cursory notice of MPs, either as individuals or through caucuses. But when a broad theme is popular in the country it almost always has a vogue in Parliament.
And so, several score of the 600-odd motions by MPs on the Commons order paper seek action by the government on the environment.
Let me illustrate this with three pieces of recent parliamentary business, two of which were done with alacrity, all parties joining to approve propositions that are in vogue. One stems from the popular crusade against violence to women; one arises out of multiculturalism’s imperative that we honor our ethnics and redress wrongs they’ve ever suffered here.
The third case has had far less interest to MPs or notice in the news. It regards some Canadians who served the Allied cause in World War II and whose remnants, few and aged, still want fair play.
On Sept. 27 the House passed unanimously a long motion by Peter Milliken, the Liberal MP for Kingston and the Islands, which makes a national apology, asks for the erection of memorials and gives “redress” funds to an association of Ukrainian Canadians. In short, it makes a belated recognition of actions now wrongful under the Charter of Rights through which Ukrainians were interned as enemy aliens during World War I.
Backed by this strong approval, Milliken has asked the minister for multiculturalism when and how the government will honor the will of the House. (As a footnote, Iain Angus, an NDP MP, has motions awaiting House approval for annual days of national celebrations honoring both Ukrainians and Scots in Canada.)
On Sept. 30 the House passed unanimously into law a bill put forward by Dawn Black, the MP for New Westminster-Burnaby and the NDP’s lead person on women’s issues. Now in the statutes of Canada under the title “National Day Remembrance Act,” this means that annually on Dec. 6 Canadians shall commemorate the 14 young women killed by a young man at a university in Montreal. A few sentences by Black set out the cause and effects.
“We have a Remembrance Day for Canadians who have given their lives in war. We have a day of mourning for Canadians who have lost their lives in the workplace. Considering the profound impact the Montreal massacre had on the lives and hearts of many Canadians, a day to remember victims of violence against women and to take action to prevent violence is a fitting and appropriate tribute.”
Now let’s turn to the largely unsung merchant seaman. Last week the House committee on veteran affairs released a report recommending that “merchant mariners with one or more high seas ocean-going assignments during wartime be fully recognized as veterans and that veterans benefits be extended to them.”
The report also asks for a “book of remembrance” dedicated solely to the several thousand mariners killed at sea during wartime and a monument in Halifax in memory of those who sailed our merchant ships.
This latter House report echoes requests made after a more thorough work by a Senate sub-committee into the sad set of developments which denied recognition to those who had suffered a higher ratio of deaths to numbers than the crews of Bomber Command.
The prime factor in the exclusion of the seamen was a misguided policy of the government to keep a large Canadian marine. If seamen got veterans’ status and benefits – like an education or a farm – who would man the fleet? Further, the men had a trade; they had never had to ship; they had not been under military law and discipline. What matter if some had died and most had been at risk?
After the merchant fleet dream blew away in the 1950s Ottawa remained stubborn and stays so on veterans’ status and benefits for the few thousand seamen still alive.
As yet the House has not voted on this overdue recognition of those who sailed defenceless ships through danger-filled waters in the Battle of the Atlantic.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, October 11, 1991
ID: 12467134
TAG: 199110100117
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
COLUMN: Fisher Report


There were slight echoes from my recent speculation the prime minister might quit in favor of Joe Clark, his chief minister, so the union might be saved.
Separately, two Tory MPs let me know that Brian Mulroney has never been more fully in command and supported than at this Wednesday’s caucus. Never has he been more convincing to his followers in reviewing the course and hazards of the constitutional crisis, including up and down sides to Pierre Trudeau’s remarks that a deportation of anglos from Quebec may ensue from the now defined “distinct society” clause.

Some media colleagues were rocked that Norman Webster, the editor of the Montreal Gazette and much respected in the trade, broke a clear “off the record” situation and published what he heard the former prime minister say to a private audience. Journalists will debate the case for years.
Webster, a Montrealer through and through, is very worried Quebec may leave Canada. I think he saw the killing of the Meech Lake accord as a tragedy, robbing Canada of some years of vital breathing room. If Clyde Wells was the prime agent in the killing, Pierre Trudeau was his major help as both symbol and mentor.
When Webster heard and then pondered Trudeau’s extravagance on the distinct society, I believe he realized Trudeau and Wells will attack what they see as a Meech II. If this hyperbolic utterance on deportations were revealed it could devastate the credibility of Trudeau (and Wells) as Canadian saviors as the renewed process works toward some resolution.

The decision by the government to abandon rules within the military against homosexual men and women is most unpopular in the Conservative caucus. Of course, it wasn’t made by any caucus vote; if so, it wouldn’t have been close.
Some PC MPs trace the ruling back to a parliamentary performance they feel opened the way for it. They do not forgive a colleague, Patrick Boyer (Etobicoke-Lakeshore).
Boyer is arguably the best educated and certainly the most prolific writer in the PC caucus. Few on the Hill match his knowledge of our politics as a system and in practices. But as a new MP he chaired a landmark, special committee of equality rights in the first Mulroney mandate. The group made many liberal recommendations on rights of homosexuals, women, and the disabled. Some Tories believed the duo of Svend Robinson (NDP) and Sheila Copps (Liberal) got loose on Chairman Boyer in the drafting of the report, endorsing homosexuals and feminists in the forces.
Not long after this landmark report to the House, Robinson became the first MP to declare as a homosexual. (As yet no other MP has done so.) In his three Parliaments Robinson has been a super-achiever, using every opportunity open to a militant MP in the House and committee work and with private members’ bills and motions. He may not be broadly loved, even in the NDP caucus, but only a cretin would be unimpressed with his fearlessness and braininess in pursuing his own and his party’s causes.
As usual, this session’s order paper is speckled with bills, motions, and questions from Robinson. I notice, however, that a bill he entered in other sessions is not on the current order paper. It’s a bill which much bothered a few of his caucus colleagues from B.C. Its intent in amending the Criminal Code was to lower the age of consent for males to the same age as for females.

To another aspect of homosexuality and our social mores. You most have noticed TV spots sponsored by government agencies in Canada concerning the threat of AIDS. These spots continue stressing the imperative of condom use in sexual congress but the activities by inference from what is said by the young presenters – particularly the females – is sex between a male and a female.
Never in the messages made for Canadians have I noted one which infers or adumbrates sexual congress of males. Here we have a deceit of the public backed by governments. How?
Recently there has been frankness from a team of AIDS researchers in Canada and an enlightening series by the Hamilton Spectator. Both make clear the risk of AIDS in Canada through male-female intercourse is very small in contrast to a huge risk in both anal intercourse (in the Bible, buggery) and the use by drug addicts of unsterilized needles.
Why doesn’t the public campaign concentrate on the prevalent risk groups, rather than the far less risky one of males-females? Surely the answers must recognize that homosexuals, particularly male, have done very well in organizing and in staking their “rights” in our communities. And so our authorities feel they must accept the gays’ line that AIDS is not a killer largely advancing through their sexual acts and heightened by their promiscuity. This would be unfair so politicians and most health officials fear stating the reality of AIDS in Canada, of course abetted by age-old hesitations and distastes, especially of older Canadians, against having anal sex or other homoerotic deeds in the open.
“Straights” still duck the core matter of the sex acts of homosexual males. And so the contradiction: Official approval for overt homosexuals in our forces but offical propaganda that ignores the main means in AIDS transmission in Canada.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, October 09, 1991
ID: 12466758
TAG: 199110090093
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
COLUMN: Fisher Report


Doubting; quizzical; tentative; cooled out!
Those are capsule words for today’s crowd on Parliament Hill. What follows is a general sketch or situation report on the 34th Parliament.
This Parliament is some 40 days into its third session and at least a year and probably a year and a half away from its dissolution and a federal election. When most majority Houses enter this home stretch of their cycle one sees two somewhat contradictory emphases:
1) A rising, increasingly heated partisanship which builds a set of themes and arguments which the leaders and their parties will play up (or duck) in the run to the actual election campaign;
2) More and more work by MPs on their constituencies and less assiduity in their party work chores on the Hill.
Since last winter this majority House has become remarkably less huffy and partisan than the norm, while the focus on ridings and the home regions is stronger than I have ever noted before. Here are some reasons I find for the slackening in partisan zeal and the tentative mood. Both attitudes are likely to last through the coming winter.
In small part the current situation on the Hill has come from the Spicer commission’s accusation that bad parliamentary behavior has disgusted citizens, and this has been complemented by MPs’ open agreement with the line that they are generally detested or distrusted by most Canadians.
In a larger way, a sense of diceyness has firmed about Canada’s future unity, tallying with the realization Quebec really may go, and is no longer bluffing or willing to bargain.
And somewhere below the suppression of much of the usual partisan rancor lurks the debt-deficit factor. Put colloquially, even the NDP now knows the nation’s cupboard is bare. They read well the enforced caution of Ontario Premier Bob Rae on new or expanded programs and the continued clamor for more from many interest groups with whom they agree.
Despite occasional, open bluster on the Hill that a discredited prime minister and government make an election imperative there really is a common view among MPs of all parties that any new government faces terrible problems with slender resources. In short, no one wants an election very soon.
In addition, realistic MPs of the three main parties know their respective leaders have not been running away with the country’s affections – and that none of the three is likely to do so. And so they await less contentiously than usual for the constitutional drama to unfold.
Add to these elements now chilling most MPs the further one which comes from the likelihood of an electoral surge west of Quebec by the Reform Party and by the Bloc Quebecois within Quebec. These new competitors have unsettled many MPs. While there are far fewer “safe” seats than there were five or six Parliaments ago, the outlook today obviously presages more diversity in the next House than in any since the Progressives won 64 seats and second place in the 1921 election.
There has been an increase this session in the number of empty seats during the daily oral question period. It’s true this show still draws a fairly large corps of the 295 MPs, sometimes on Wednesday, the caucus day, reaching to 220. This is a contrast to the embarrassing few, usually from 20 to 40, who bother to be in the chamber for the many hours of so-called debate.
The case seems to be that more MPs than usual are not in Ottawa, or at least not on the Hill. In my memory the cafeterias and the dining room on the Hill have never served so few MPs. On mid-week evenings the three main buildings that House MPs’ offices are quiet and almost empty.
MPs with a dozen years or so experience tell me there’s far less socializing on the Hill than when they came — both within their party ranks and across party lines. Oddly, more staff help and better House services have geared MPs for more thorough performances in both ridings and in committees but have also compartmentalized and isolated them from each other.
When in third place do MPs try harder? Over the past 10 Parliaments, NDP MPs earned a reputation for taking the House and its committees more seriously than their Tory and Grit rivals. One saw this in a superior House attendance and greater dedication to committee work. Such edge in commitment is no longer noticeable, and not so much because of raised effort by Tories and Grits. A veteran NDP MP explained to me there has been a deliberate strategy in the divvying of House and caucus assignments so he and his colleagues may spend more time when the House is in session, either in their ridings or in travel on so-called parliamentary business.
There’s much parliamentary committee work under way in this session but nothing out of the ordinary, even recognizing the crucial role given the Dobbie-Castonguay committee on the constitutional proposals. The printed record of almost every committee hearing in this period shows that several MPs were present who were not formal members of the committee.
In part this reflects caucus team assignments but it also indicates that more MPs find the chamber a bore or charade whereas committees give them more grist in content and better odds on participating.
At present, and probably for another year, this is a Parliament whose membership is apprehensive and more ready to wait than to raise real hell.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, October 06, 1991
ID: 12465888
TAG: 199110060154
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
COLUMN: Fisher Report


Help us, Lord. Gallup says just 11% of Canadians think national unity is the most important problem facing Canada today. Such concern trails far back of concern over the economy or unemployment.
Further, to a specific question, just 30% were “very concerned” over the threat of Quebec’s separation, less than half those very concerned about the environment.
These percentages, especially the 11%, are shocking, even though it’s a cliche of politics that bread and butter issues grab people, not abstract or institutional ones.
Once one could read a result like the 11% as witness of the gut sensibility of plain folk. They know what counts! The Constitution and what’s been rising in Quebec over the last three decades is unimportant.
In one way the folk have it right. A constitution’s prime purpose should be as a frame for the whole community and its parts, defining the rules and responsibilities for the working of it all. Nonetheless, since the 1960s and the B & B commission the national unity issue has been both open and increasingly difficult.
It was then that those who would lead Quebec out of Canada became legitimate and credible in the sense that our political leaders and parties chose not to take a Lincolnian stand that our country is indivisible and if necessary force would be used to keep it whole. The postwar, global theme of a people’s right to self-determination prevails here over unity.
The grimmest period for us in World War II were in 1941 and much of 1942. The Allies’ chances for complete victory over the Axis powers were 50-50 at best. In the face of terrible defeats such doubt was understandable. And even 50-50 thinking counted on such practical factors after Pearl Harbor as our unharnessed superiority in manpower and industrial and agricultural resources and on the inspiration which grew with the realization democracy was precious and fascism evil.
At this time, with only 11% of the people rating national unity as “most important,” most of those I know in politics and its journalism and in the federal mandarinate think the crisis from Quebec’s determination for either a recognized distinctiveness in the federation or “sovereignty” is serious. How serious? Worse than 50-50! Most likely Quebec will declare independence within five years. Yet the 11% indicates Canadians now are far less fearful of a busted Canada than they were about defeat in the darkest days of the war.
Clearly, 11% also means that inspirational factors are not at work, at least in “the rest of Canada.” When other polls find a sizable minority reduces its views on the Quebec question to “let them go,” one almost has to see separation is inevitable. Not only is there little sense of either danger or urgency there’s either indifference or a great discounting of separation’s consequences.
Clearly the majority, given the greater concern over the economy and jobs, has not yet appreciated the certain decline in living standards and the permanent weakening of our economy after our country splits.
It’s easier for those of us no longer young and without responsibilities for children and without careers still ahead to take a drop in living standards or narrowed hopes for jobs and economic growth. But beyond dour economic auguries and an end to a country from sea to sea we’ve cherished and both served and exploited, we are the ones who can best see the awful mess ahead.
Take two matters that will become obsessive when Canada breaks up. First, the negotiations of matters like debt, deficits, boundaries, properties or responsibilities regarding natives or war veterans or pensioners in general. Second, how the “rest of Canada” must rejig its political structures and processes. Will westerners still demand a Triple-E Senate?
Just to put the last question, such a piffling question when set against what we’ve done together, is to border in black the disastrous epoch ahead for Canadians (and Quebecers). But my foreboding has only an 11% following. This will be argued as good, as wholesome. It shows a broad optimism and little fret there will be two or more countries from our present unity. Maybe, but it discourages me.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, October 04, 1991
ID: 12465381
TAG: 199110040090
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
COLUMN: Fisher Report


The death of Sen. Hazen Argue prompts reflection on how his turncoat deal with the Liberals helped ruin the ambitious charge to power by the New Democratic Party in the 1960s, and also on the shift in nature of obituaries for politicians.
In recent years I’ve noted how press obituaries for once major federal and provincial politicians are now scant or brief. Television notices the deaths of movie stars and entertainers far more than those of politicians. And Canadian TV will linger over marginal politicians who have lived a long time and become idolized and idealized for unique attitudes or attributes (e.g., Eugene Forsey, Dave Croll and Roly Michener).
The shorter shrift for ex-politicians also fits with the decline in historicity in Canada. Who now thinks of how British we were a generation ago?
One cause of the decline has surely been sheer diversion. Since John Diefenbaker rocked Canada in 1957 by knocking off the ruling Liberals, the numbers who take part in politics and the involved interest of the general public has grown and grown. So has a coruscating corps of activist groups and associations. These unceasingly declaim, pushing or attacking policies and rights. They heighten currency and haven’t time for the past.
In short, amazing diversity and a day-to-day competition for time and space makes the immediate urgent and much retrospect bootless.
When the House of Commons resumed in mid-September the first speeches were effusive eulogies to former MPs who had died in the recess. To put it flatly, several of the deceased were most undistinguished MPs.
A few days ago I crossed the path of a fellow watcher of the House. He asked if I’d heard the first day’s eulogies.
No, I said, but I’d read them in Hansard.
What had I thought of them?
Exaggerating, I said I’d been awe-struck at the array of witness to great achievements, dedication and character, and to the strength in the old theme: Never speak ill of the dead.
Yes, said my fellow observer, but you see what’s happening. With neither the media nor the people willing to appreciate or honor them they do it for themselves.
While he thinks the elegaic banalities may satirize politics and some of the deceased for those who really knew them as MPs, in Parliament itself the collective collegiality which remains is rallying to praise political service and institutions against the grain of public contempt.
No death of a former or present parliamentarian in recent times quite matches Hazen Argue’s as a challenge to candor or honesty in the “in memoriam” remarks of MPs. Very few in his generation of colleagues and supporters in the CCF and the NDP could forgive his deceits before and after he bolted to the Liberals in early 1962. Worse for him, he never got more than an edgy, grudging acceptance from his new comrades, either in his last two years as an MP or as a senator from 1966 unto his recent travail with criminal charges on misuse of Senate funds and services.
Part of Argue’s shunning by Grit MPs and senators went beyond the traditional Canadian leeriness of turncoats. There were tales prevalent among them that Argue’s switch had literally been bought by Ross Thatcher, the Liberal leader of the Saskatchewan official opposition, and no advocate of Pearsonian Liberalism. Argue’s reason for quitting was the domination in the new NDP of union bosses and labor lawyers. Unions have never been popular with farmers.
On the Prairies, the wheat farmers knew Argue as their most strenuous proponent in Ottawa. His bolt from the NDP because it was dominated by union bosses gave a big boost to Thatcher and it devastated the NDP all across the west. The party didn’t win a Saskatchewan seat in either the 1962 or 1963 federal elections and Thatcher romped into power over the CCF-NDP in the next provincial election.
Argue lost his House seat as a Liberal in 1963 and a very reluctant Prime Minister Lester Pearson put him in the Senate three years later. A few years later a Grit senator, a renowned party fixer, told me he was ashamed of his caucus colleagues. In general they cold-shouldered Argue as a renegade and a dubious Liberal.
The 1980 election left Pierre Trudeau without an MP in Saskatchewan so Sen. Argue was made minister for the grain-growers. Even Tory MPs would tell me Argue, a rousing speaker, was the farmers’ man in Trudeau’s Ottawa, however slight his standing was in the Hill community itself. Argue remained an uneasy figure for his caucus and the senatorial circle, not so much disliked as just not accepted.
With Brian Mulroney’s advent to power in 1984 Argue became another rarely noticed senator. Then, antics by his wife during a failed bid for a Liberal nomination in Ottawa in 1988 brought press scrutiny and allegations she had used senatorial resources. Subsequently, I found few senators would talk about the case. None were quick to support Argue, and many were grateful when his terminal illness turned off the criminal proceedings.
This week while press obits have noted Argue’s 40-plus years in Parliament, the charges have been their prime feature, followed by references to his partisan treason. The recall of MPs, of course, will be for Hazen as a tribune of the west.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, October 02, 1991
ID: 12368904
TAG: 199110020085
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
COLUMN: Fisher Report


Does persistent work of real worth but little flash ever pay off for a politician, in particular for one whose heydays have seemed long gone?
Two chats I had this week give at least slight hints at a transition which would be fascinating and flabbergasting: Brian Mulroney leaving office fairly soon for the sake of national unity, opening the way for Joe Clark, now a far more credible, respected politician, to carry Canada through its constitutional crisis. Metaphorically, it would mean a personal sacrifice such as Sidney Carton made. Remember Dickens’ character in A Tale of Two Cities, going to the guillotine for another man, saying, “It is a far, far better thing I do, than I have ever done . . . ”
Firstly, let me outline the circumstances in which such a surprising prospect came up.
One conversation began with several Tory MPs and ran over the current frustrations within the government caucus and the bleak or indifferent or hostile receptions they were getting on home grounds, mostly about their leader. The chatting concluded after most of the MPs had left with a speculation by an experienced Tory MP from Ontario, someone whom I’d rate as rather archetypal or symbolic of the backbenchers from outside Quebec. That is, it’s a fair bet a swath of other MPs in the caucus share his appraisal that Brian Mulroney has eight months at the most to quit office before constitutional change is in deep jeopardy and any hope for re-election for most Tory MPs will be shot.
The other chat was a rare one by phone with a long-time activist within the inner circles of Conservative party affairs. He was a friendly, occasional sponsor of Brian Mulroney and never enthusiastic about Joe Clark. He’s been in business far from Ottawa for a decade but I’d taken from occasional references to him by MPs that he’s never been completely out of touch with the federal parade.
We had discussed a matter far from politics. Then I mentioned to this old acquaintance that for the first time since 1984 I was finding Tory backbenchers who would readily speak about both the scale and nature of public antipathy to the prime minister and the flaws in his behavior as they saw them which have brought on such mass hatred or disgust. Now one can get without guff or stonewalling from the MPs quite frank opinions on the dread consequences for them of the broad, engrained antagonism of Canadians everywhere toward Mulroney.
And along with such realism ran a reluctant acknowledgment that Joe Clark is as one MP put it, “an awkward but class act!” They have a growing respect for Clark. Over the past year he has become their best performing colleague, well ahead of Michael Wilson on the caucus honor roll.
Implicit in such appraisals of Clark are contrasts drawn with Mulroney, most significantly on the score of personal integrity and straightforwardness, and – just as crucial for the top national dilemma – he seems someone who is fair towards Quebec and ready to meet and deal squarely with its demands but not willing to pivot or alter federal responsibilities just to keep Quebecers within the federation. This view of Clark vis-a-vis Quebec seems to be matched in Quebec itself where, judging by newspaper editorials and television commentary, he seems the only credible of the anglophone politicians.
There was no surprise from the other end at the gist of this. Instead, I was told that it was in line with the substance of letters and talks he has had recently. Friends in business and cultural operations to whom Mulroney had either become anathema or was seen as in the way of a resolution to the Quebec problem are mooting Clark because they believe an ultimate solution within a rapidly shortening time frame is impossible if Mulroney is its prime sponsor.
Of course, such views bother my acquaintance. Aside from the unlikelihood that Mulroney as he’s known him would ever resign in favor of a such a rival, quitting wasn’t in the Mulroney’s lexicon, however nobly it might be made to seem. But he understood what was beginning to swirl. Disaffection within the Tory party against John Diefenbaker began from the assault from outside politics by the intelligentsia and the media elites more than from the work of the opposition parties. His Gallup stock plummeted. Almost everything he did and all his traits brought criticism and mockery. Sooner or later the far more sustained criticism of Mulroney had to penetrate the caucus walls and shake loyalties. Considering the adversities and the opinion polls, it seemed to him that the loyalty of the Tory caucus has been remarkable. And it certainly has.
Some distinctions I would draw between Diefenbaker’s dilemmas in 1962-3 and Mulroney’s are that today only one, credible alternative is at hand, and he happens to be the only federal politician with both a particular handle on the prime, agonizing issue of our times and a hard-won, grudgingly given reputation across Canada for commitment and honesty.
Clearly Clark has not been seeking the lead role nor is there a smidgin of evidence he has any links with any part of a developing coherence among both the Tories and the populace as a whole that Mulroney must go. But even if such a proposition is repellent to Clark my guess is that the arguments will become open that Mulroney must withdraw if Canada is to be saved.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, September 29, 1991
ID: 12367960
TAG: 199109290159
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
COLUMN: Fisher Report


My obsession is reading, mostly books. Anyone at all familiar with my columns knows it’s rare that a book touching politics is summed up as without any merit or as splendid and almost perfect.
So it was with last week’s bag of five. Each one caught me up. Two I found near perfect in fulfilling their writer’s aims.
One of the two certain to be best-sellers left me surprised at its verve. Once again Peter Newman is dazzling as a writer of popular history.
I had thought the most fascinating decades in the Hudson Bay Company’s story were in Newman’s first two volumes of its history, from its launch in 1670 to its absorption of the Nor’Westers in the early 19th century. Now I’d rate Volume 3 as the most intriguing of the three, largely because the narrative is so intertwined with so much of our post-Confederation politics and the development of the West, and gives us such a heroic rogue figure in Lord Strathcona.
The other cinch to top fall best-seller lists is John Sawatsky’s Mulroney.
The author is one of my favorite journalists and a very fine person. His biography of the prime minister’s life to 1984 is a moderate disappointment to me. It kept my interest but by the close I was exhausted by the minutae of detail, bristling at the moralizing about ambition and drinking and sexual relations and longing for some astute appraisals of politics from the profusion of facts.
Another writer whom I respect for intelligence, industriousness, directness and firm opinions is Linda McQuaig. Penguin books tags her The Quick and the Dead as “a searing indictment” of the Mulroney government. Oh, it is searing. A book subtitled “Brian Mulroney, Big Business, and the Seduction of Canada” is not for anyone left who adores the PM.
I found her viewpoint consistent but the antagonism too emotional and the case not substantively made.
If you just revel in Mulroney bashing, this is your romp. But hatred has triumphed over reason in any critic of Mulroney who believes he is essentially a right-wing reactionary with a purposeful, capitalistic agenda.
The other two books of my reading week are “keepers” because each opens up a subject within the broad band of politics where my ignorance is deep. In short, real reference books.
Banking in Canada has had remarkably few interpreters and popularizers from the inside. Robert MacIntosh headed the Canadian Banker’s Association through the ’80s. I thought him the most aggressive, confident lobbyist of the period, a Simon Reisman sort!
Macmillan has published his Different Drummers: Banking and Politics in Canada. It has a concise synopsis of the development of Canadian banking with a neat exegesis on its distinctive features (compared to other countries). This is followed by a fuller account of the postwar widening in banking services (house mortgages, car loans, RRSPs, etc.).
There’s much on the battles of MPs on House committees with the bankers and contempt for the inadequacies of economic reporting.
I told MacIntosh he hadn’t delivered the substance for his blanket words on media incompetence. Surprisingly, he agreed, then promised he would soon be putting out a long article or a short book on the media and the banks.
The other gem for keeping is Meech Lake: The Insider Story, from U of T Press and written by Patrick Monahan, an academic at York University, and senior legal adviser to Ontario’s David Peterson and Ian Scott through the Meech Lake episode.
This book both complements and fulfills Andrew Cohen’s excellent work, A Deal Undone (1990), through its portrayal of what went on behind closed doors in argument and trading-off. The analysis of the content in the accord and the various provincial positions is superbly done.
The book’s with me each day now as I try to get a handle on the new and far more comprehensive constitutional proposals now before the country.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, September 27, 1991
ID: 12367438
TAG: 199109270078
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
COLUMN: Fisher Report


Power grab, or consciousness-raising, or both?
Even before reading to the end of the federal constitutional proposals regarding the “economic union” that Don Mazankowski tabled yesterday, those questions had firmed up in my mind.
If – and it’s not an “if” you should wager on – this double-barrelled package of propositions gets enshrined in the Constitution there will be: 1) a much more genuine national marketplace (including a very mobile labor market) and common standards across the whole land; and 2) highly regularized relations between the federal government and the provincial governments for mutual budgetary planning and for setting up and keeping to joint fiscal policies and an agreed monetary policy.
The paper moves from the economic benefits we have enjoyed in Canada toward a scary thesis sustained by comparative data on other countries and blocs that what has been is now far from good enough, that Canada is sliding down the ladder of prosperous nations. To sustain our present living standards, let alone to regain where we recently were we must shake up our internal market, getting rid of provincial barriers to the movement of people, professions, goods, services and capital.
The argument runs that such a necessary greater interdependence demands better management, and this is to be found in a systematized co-ordination and harmonizing of the major economic policies of governments, including the creation of a super “independent” agency to monitor such policies and to report to the public on how they were working. Oh, how our mandarins love the words “harmonization” and “co-ordination.”
The Mazankowski paper doesn’t set it out, but one assumes the prime body for formal response and requisite decisions following such monitoring reports will be the projected “Council of the Federation.”
In the first package of proposals (from Brian Mulroney) this council, consisting of ministerial representatives from both Ottawa and the provinces, is projected as having three elements in its mandate: To vote on both proposed federal bills for the functioning of the economic union and on the common guidelines for fiscal harmonization; and to decide on the use of the federal spending power for new Canada-wide shared-cost programs.
Note at this point that decisions of the Council of the Federation would require the approval of Ottawa and at least seven provinces representing at least half the population (the seven-50 rule). Surely that’s why Robert Bourassa, while fascinated by the reform of the “economic union” has to view it with some alarm. His pet topic is economics; he’s been the most open of all premiers in emphasizing the dangers of the immense debt load Canada and Quebec are now carrying; and he’s always cautioned that separation will lower Quebecers’ living standards.
Bourassa is drawn toward this element in the new constitutional round yet aware that the “seven-50” requirement leaves Quebec without a veto. A former member of Bourassa’s Liberal caucus believes this opening up of the Constitution vis-a-vis the economy is what the premier’s been waiting for since his return from self-exile in Belgium where he studied the European Economic Community after his defeat by the PQ in 1976.
Out of that study came his interest in a true economic union for federal Canada. Therefore, the proposal to harmonize the fiscal and monetary policies of Ottawa with the provinces is a chance for him to lead his province into new ways and institutions for economic management. Can it be evolved so that a collectivity of other governments cannot dictate the parameters of Quebec’s budget policies?.
The former Liberal MNA is sure Bourassa sees the constitutional swing to economic issues as an opportunity to raise the consciousness of Quebecers about the near certain misfortunes and the fearsome costs of independence, thereby deflating the rosy optimism of Jacques Parizeau and the PQ that the rest of Canada will acquiesce quietly to separation, then continue to buy from and sell as before with an independent Quebec.
Also note how the draft propositions on economic union hook the New Democrats (who soon may have over 50% of the country’s population under their provincial sway). Which party most eulogizes economic and social planning?
Further, the most clamorous associations and lobbies in Canada agree with NDP demands that a social charter be enshrined in the Constitution, so confirming the nation-wide, right of each citizen to medicare, an old age pensions, a job or unemployment insurance, etc. Such enshrinement would also guarantee a national web or social net of equal quality from province to province. An obvious, necessary basis for national social rights is a “harmonized” and “co-ordinated” economic union. So if this is a federal power grab, it’s hardly one alien to NDP ideas.
We’re into an intense process of debate and refinement of the grandest constitutional propositions since 1867, and it should become clear in short order that the most fundamental element in the debate is the management and direction of both the economy and the social system of Canada as a whole. It’s far more than Quebec once again, but the debate might be the turning event in convincing Quebecers profitable federalism is preferable to impoverished independence.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, September 25, 1991
ID: 12366885
TAG: 199109250075
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
COLUMN: Fisher Report


How to abbreviate personal reactions to the massive proposals on the Constitution? There are scores of possible columns in them.
Well, a month ago ago it seemed to me the odds against Canada hanging together into the 21st century were 4-1. Now I would drop the odds to 2-1.
Why? First, because the government has aimed as much or more at English Canada than at Quebec. These proposals should rouse great involvement and debate in English Canada and they may even intrigue Quebecers enough to get them out of their defensive stance and back into the reformation of the Constitution.
The proposals are well crafted. Most are skeletal enough for ready amendment and fleshing out. There are items to lure or repel the most docile of citizens. Joe Clark has handled well the prelude to the unveiling. Surely he’s earned the generally positive responses without rabid partisanship by the opposition parties, led by Jean Chretien and Audrey McLaughlin.
Many of us without a particular hobby horse were ready to accept the Meech Lake accord and get on with Canada as we’ve known it. Then, when its failure revealed the deep antagonisms toward the accord, we doubted Canada could ever get around either the majority bitterness of Quebecers that they had been rebuffed by English Canada or the comparable animus of English Canadians against any more concessions to Quebec, even to accepting that it was time for a parting of the ways.
The comprehensive proposals which should engage English Canadians may not get anything like such involvement from Quebec. One prays that Premier Robert Bourassa responds carefully, suggesting means through which his government and legislature can partake or parallel in consideration and responses to what will arise from the proposals before the grand federal committee chaired by Sen. Claude Castonguay and MP Dorothy Dobbie. It’s hard to believe Bourassa will not play at all with these proposals but if he won’t, or prevaricates for long, he will surely undercut any fervor the West and East have for debating the proposals and crafting them into an acceptable package.
In slang terms, if Bourassa won’t play ball it’s likely the exercise of taking the proposals to the public will bog down. English Canadians will polarize, either around “Let them go!” or in demanding a definitive national referendum to settle if it’s to be unity or separation.
To be fair to Bourassa, Quebec has always been touchier about almost every aspect of constitutional affairs than any other province, knowing it had so much more uniqueness to protect and unwilling to gave up what was an effective veto on constitutional change (until Pierre Trudeau’s package went through 10 years ago).
And this package touches almost every element which Quebec has found sensitive, beginning with a new placing and elaboration for the “distinct society” matter and a further limitation on the use by a province of the notwithstanding clause to loop application of the Charter of Rights.
But the proposals also create a significant, new “head” of federal power under which the “economic union” would be managed; they realign the present division of powers between Ottawa and the provinces; they change the Senate out of all recognition in terms of membership, responsibilities, and powers; they call for a new and potentially powerful fourth level of government through a “Council of the Federation” – a kind of regularized cabinet of first ministers; and they predicate within 10 years the institution of “aboriginal self-government” whatever that means. (On the last point, this proposal, taken with the new royal commission on aboriginal affairs, shunts this emotional and mixed-up issue to the side of the constitutional stage.)
If Quebec will play, let’s predict the prime ideological battle to come in the next four months, as the Castonguay-Dobbie committee ranges the land, will be about a social charter. The generators will be the New Democrats, probably with the influence of two more provincial governments added to the large role Ontario always can play, plus backing from the many interest groups which speak for society’s underprivileged and oppressed. You know the crew – the CLC, NAC, organized seniors, the organized impoverished, etc.
Not only will they force forward the enshrinement of a social charter in the Constitution, the government’s package has proposals which could make for trade-offs – i.e., the idea of enshrining property rights and the plan of “harmonizing economic policies” through a new federal “head” of power. Arguably, these are right-wing propositions, designed both to reduce the capacity of collective social action and to enhance the capacity of the private corporate sector to free-wheel. So the package opens up some great quid pro quos for social democrats.
Let me close column No. 1 on the proposals with the apprehensions which hang over the hope raised by this grand catalogue of constitutional intentions. Yes, if most of it should go through Canada will be saved. But it will be a much more complex Canada, with many more political institutions and bureaucrats and politicians. A country whose political means and governing structures have always been rather elitist and top-heavy will be even more so.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, September 22, 1991
ID: 12366148
TAG: 199109220190
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
COLUMN: Fisher Report


This is not an essay condoning or excusing what Bill Kempling, a 69-year-old Conservative MP from Burlington, apologized to the House for saying about about Sheila Copps, the MP for Hamilton East and deputy-leader of the Liberal Party.
It is an attempt at explaining the context for vituperation which Copps creates in the Commons by her words and antics (one that in my experience is unique to her). It is also a brief run through some women MPs of the past in order to put into long perspective the spin which Copps has several times put on male MPs who respond roughly to her, insisting they demean both every female MP and all the women of Canada.
First, in this House of Commons as in the previous 11 with which I’ve been familiar as either MP or journalist there is a chronic, though often desultory, verbal byplay during proceedings that is not so much sotto voce as below or behind the remarks of either the Speaker or the MP who has the floor. Most of this is neither caught and recorded by Hansard reporters nor audible enough to make sense to those in the galleries.
There are cat-calls, jeers, wise-cracks, puns, jeers, cutting adjectives, rude epithets and, occasionally, wit. The bulk of this is quite partisan and a small portion is vicious and consistently contemptuous of a person or persons. This is Copps’ specialty, sustained by one of sharpest, most penetrating vocal registers in politics.
Along with Copps’ raucous scorn for the PM and his ministers – and even for prominent NDPers in question period and House speeches – she’s been the most persistent and harshest, below-the-proceedings barracker of any House I’ve known. By contrast, Kempling isn’t close to Copps at aptitude or skill in insult and provocation.
Most party caucuses usually have one or more MPs who play this game. Copps has been the most relentless session after session. She far outslurs past specialists at the art such as a current PC backbencher, Jack Shields, or such more widely talented and splendid interrupters as Jack Pickersgill, John Diefenbaker or Joe Greene. She’s out to slight and wound, day after day. A politician who makes this a stock-in-trade gets it back.
But when this happens to her, Copps wraps herself in womanhood. Oh, she’s the victim – again – of the terrible contempt all too many men have for women.
To underline the phoniness of Copps as the archetypal female victim in politics of male contempt, consider this list of former women MPs. In my assessment each one was an abler member of Parliament and a more constructive presence in her party and caucus than the nasty virago from Hamilton East.
From the Liberals, recall my favorite of all, the late Judy Lamarsh, policy-driven, combative, and though often hurt, never claiming her sex in defence; or Judy Erola and Jeanne Sauve, neither of whom ever backed away from any task or any mere males, in the House or in cabinet; or the very independent Iona Campagnola whose sheer beauty and bearing brought her an over-attention she handled with grace; or the sensitive, prickly but marvellously informed and determined Monique Begin; or Aideen Nicholson, perhaps the best committee chairman and participant in generations of MPs.
From the Tories, recall Ellen Fairclough, self-contained, proud and competent; or two genuinely conservative politicians, ex-reporter Margaret Aitken and Jean Casselman Wadds, a most forceful but gracious MP; or Flora MacDonald, surely an MP and minister for all seasons; or Pat Carney, confident, cantankerous, and neither giving nor taking quarter from anyone, man or woman.
From the NDP, recall Grace MacInnis, daughter of Woodsworth, “the saint in politics,” a warm, cerebral person and simply excellent on any count as an MP; or Pauline Jewett, first a Grit MP, later an NDP one, and in either guise, fair, positive, and exceptionally well-informed; or Lynn McDonald, the busy, dour, and determined woman who routed tobacco-users from the Hill.
None of these achievers rode to political prominence through slur and slanging; none assumed herself the mantle of womanhood wronged by male MPs.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, September 20, 1991
ID: 12365336
TAG: 199109190090
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
COLUMN: Fisher Report


Strikes are not for Nice Nellies. The big one by the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) now in remission had several brutal elements and some remarkable lapses in fair play and decency on both sides.
Figuratively, the government left the thousands of employees who refused to strike and tried to work swinging in the wind; it embarrassed its employees who were not PSAC members; and in Ottawa in particular it gave neither protection nor access to work for thousands who are not public servants but who work in buildings with some federal departments or agencies.
PSAC leaders made much of the government’s refusal to bargain in good faith. They took the high ground, their righteousness decrying the brutal treatment of them by the prime minister and his cabinet. Yet even before the strike vote last spring the PSAC president had used the slogan which became the strikers’ chant – “Lyin’ Brian must go!”
In short, early, consistently, deliberately, PSAC chose to lead with the most elemental demand in politics, not labor negotiations, i.e., the defeat of a government. This over-arching intention was loud through the strike in the open intimacy with both the NDP luminaries and leaders of several national lobby groups that are dedicated to the defeat of this government.
Daryl Bean, head of PSAC, had NDP MPs introducing him at his key press conferences. Such linkage mocks the “good faith” of organized labor. Its prime goal is the defeat of Brian Mulroney, not a contract attained from the ballyhooed `free collective bargaining.’
The government’s main failings in dealing with its unionized employees may have begun with its budget policy of last winter that only restraint in federal spending could save the nation from a debt debacle. Very worthy, but it needs broad understanding. Above all it requires the same deal for the PM as for the temporary clerk.
My case here is less with this failure in communications and more with governmental incompetence during the strike. What a hoot, Brian Mulroney coming to Ottawa in 1983 as a proven expert on labor relations!
This strike did not come out of the blue. While the work-places of federal employees are legion, the employer should know where they are. The strike vote had not been overwhelming. Hardly 40% of PSAC members in the capital had voted to strike. And many thousands of employees in Ottawa were not members of PSAC and would expect work and pay in the strike situation. Who didn’t know scores of stores and professions shared buildings with federal offices?
Mulroney knows, as should many mandarins and his justice and labor ministers, that:
a) It is unlawful for strikers to deny access to a property.
b) To deflate a strike an employer ensures those who refuse the strike call or who are not on strike a passage into work without nasty physical or verbal assaults.
Mulroney knows the most effective ways to defuse the effects of picket line militancy. First, have select groups of security and management personnel ready at concerted moments to breach the lines so people may enter and leave. Second, use court injunctions by the batch to make police open access.
Mulroney and at least some of his ministers knew PSAC was most vulnerable in Ottawa. Here it set and maintained a militant zeal or fell apart even though PSAC units in the grain trade and manning border posts far from the capital could and would cause the real economic damage. The key union leaders and the focus of the media was on Ottawa where PSAC was weakest and the government strongest (seemingly!) but day after day walls of pickets in Ottawa got away with denying entry to many federal workplaces.
One senior minister conceded to me that more than half his departmental staff in Ottawa refused the strike call or were not on strike; nonetheless it was five days before the government used an injunction to open his HQ. By then few non-strikers were coming in and he knows most of them feel betrayed and are furious with him.
Another senior minister said he assailed the Treasury Board mandarins on the total inadequacy of protection and access for those ignoring the strike call or not on strike. “Their excuses,” he told me, “were bland and many.” He recited the profusion of work sites; the multiplicity of facilities shared by private business and federal agencies; the difficulty in getting injunctions in a hurry, especially in Ontario; the reluctance of the municipal police to enforce access; the fear in middle-level managers of post-strike animosity if they and their security personnel enforced access; and unwillingness on high to use the RCMP to open ways through the pickets in Ottawa.
“And so,” he concluded, “we were wimps.” The ministry meandered into an unprecedented strike without any coherent plan to win it or even to do the obvious things to defuse PSAC.
“Scabs” in Ottawa have told me they called both the Ottawa police and their own managers to get them through the hostile wall of pickets. The police told them their instructions were to leave the lines alone unless serious violence erupted. Their managers, low and high, generally counselled them to come in very early or very late, or stay at home; nothing more!
The bitter ones believe what seems obvious. The government both underrated PSAC’s effectiveness and overrated its ultimate guillotine of back-to-work legislation.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, September 18, 1991
ID: 12365004
TAG: 199109180083
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11


Monday through Tuesday was a jam-packed Canadian day, politically speaking, and aside from one positive move by Jean Chretien it was hardly heartening to those who pray we shall progress with some common agreement on what how and what we ought to do together.
(The Liberal leader was constructive and fair in words and tone in the House question period.)
Monday’s politics opened in an Ottawa court, long before the House met, and closed with the revelation in the late evening that Canada’s military bases in Europe were to be closed. In between we had:
a) A sizeable, serious demonstration by striking federal employees on the Hill, their actions sanctioned by the leaders of the Liberals and New Democrats;
b) An offer by the union leaders to ease the most economically hurtful effects of the strike if the government dropped back-to-work legislation and bargained on wages;
c) A report by the Public Service Staff Relations which essentially stated the government had not bargained in good faith, and should do so;
d) A House “orders of the day” drama in which a resolute ministry rebuffed all criticism, dismissed the PSAC offer, brushed away the board report, restated its determination to deal with the country’s debt problems, ensuring economic recovery was not ruined by strikers, and introduced the legislation with procedural riders that guarantee its passage within 10 days.
Anyone worried about the abysmal public esteem for politicians could hardly be cheered by the court proceedings, however much he or she might approve the fact that officers for Ontario’s Crown attorney dismissed criminal charges brought against 15 of 16 men through a little-used procedure by Glen Kealey, a private citizen with a substantial grievance after failed commercial dealings with the federal government.
This case became more of a blockbuster than it probably should have been because Kealey’s persistence and his welter of allegations led to much media attention and a personification of Kealey as a true tribune of the people. The coverage gave gravity and deep penetration to his wildly speculative suspicions, especially when a justice of the peace approved prosecution of many of his charges after a long in-camera hearing.
A paradox in the Kealey affair makes one wonder if fairness has a chance in the face of any nasty tale about politicians. While the media, both electronic and print, were giving Kealey much time and space and generally favorable or neutral appraisals as a dedicated citizen, my soundings with more than a dozen journalists familiar with the man and his campaign found only one (an Ottawa Citizen columnist) who took seriously his blanketing indictments, in particular after Kealey issued a chart of a huge, web-like conspiracy two months ago.
My initiative had a motive in my own unsought involvement with Kealey. Over several years he had been shouting foul-mouthed abuse at me on the routes around Parliament Hill and leaving defamatory screeds in my mail-box.
The much-mouthed principle that anyone charged in a court is presumed innocent until judged guilty may still be relevant in a narrow, legal sense but it has been almost eclipsed for those accused of crimes relating to any role played in party politics or who serve our justice system. Once charged, always slurred! No longer innocent, even when declared not guilty.
Alas, Kealey’s gross, public vituperation and signage that screams out the crimes of politicians is not unique but a stock practice. His was an unusually prolonged and focused representation of the sort that has become regular public antics for many groups – in particular for unions, feminists, homosexuals, natives and environmentalists.
They confront, publicly and nastily, and usually for the benefit of videocameras and microphones, those whom they blame for some inadequacy or injustice. They’ve been turning public discussion of issues, especially during elections, into irrational demonstrations of contemptuous rowdiness.
Paradoxically, there’s a crude levelling in the developing consequences of such stylized antagonism by so many interest groups in that opposition politicians who once would have profited and not been much hurt from the widespread animus against those in government are increasingly lumped in with them as crooked and incompetent.
It doesn’t take a long memory to appreciate who popularized the path of hyperbolic accusations and contempt that is now taken as routine by individuals with a cause and by the organized legions who chorus “Lyin’ Brian” and greet any public movement or appearances of politicians with slander and demands. The models, the precursors, emerged in the mid-1970s in the House of Commons and then surged to a reckless, ruthless extravagance in accusatory assertions in the mid-1980s with the immense attention won by the Liberals’ Rat Pack of Sheila Copps, John Nunziata and Brian Tobin. Their stridency was emulated and then topped by NDP MPs such as Svend Robinson and Nelson Riis.
So even if it was only a sliver of redemption from chronic slander and libel in politics put forth by Jean Chretien on Monday, let’s praise him for it. May he persevere and lead those who threw it away back to self-respect and a model to all in both displaying and settling differing views.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, September 15, 1991
ID: 12364200
TAG: 199109150171
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
COLUMN: Fisher Report


Are you puzzled by what CBC-TV is assaying this season in a Sunday Report with a panel of unofficial surrogates from the federal parties?
Away with a freelancing columnist like Jeffrey Simpson; out with the CBC’s own sages like David Halton. In come droll Dalton Camp, the twinkly Jean Luc Pepin and the Jamaican aristocrat Rosemary Brown as reps for the Tories, Liberals and New Democrats.
This may be a small squirm by the CBC within the whole field of politics on TV but it begs for an answer to an obvious question. If not a journalistic panel on partisan affairs, why not the real thing – elected politicians?
Why not Don Blenkarn or Jim Hawkes, surely more Tory to most Tories than Camp? Why not Lloyd Axworthy and Svend Robinson, each far more “au courant” tongues for their party than either Pepin or Brown can ever be?
Last spring an off-air pillar of CBC-TV news told me executives above the news operation still writhed over the echoing charges from Rick Salutin that the CBC, in devilish concert with the right-wingish Globe and Mail, had abetted the Mulroney government, both in clinching the free trade agreement with the U.S. and in over-pushing the Meech accord as a national imperative. That’s why we’d been seeing so much less of the first and obvious star of Sunday Report, Jeffrey Simpson.
The national milieu has not been short of coverage and interpretation on TV. Nine years ago the CBC gave us The Journal nightly five days a week; two years ago its Newsworld cable service came on 24 hours a day with its melange of reports, interviews, hearings, and commentary on politics, including repeats.
In the past few years Global has come on as a semi-national news network with some substance on politics. CTV’s news always has had federal politics up front and its perennials, Canada A.M. and Question Period are still heavy with politicians, economists and apparatchiks of the parties.
So-called educational TV channels in the big provinces schedule many films and commentary programs that are background on issues like aboriginal affairs or feminist demands. And to complete the running tide of politics on TV, local stations with the largest ratings from Vancouver to Halifax feature politics of all kinds. Anyone familiar with news patterns on a U.S. station knows how much more time and emphasis Canadian stations give to politics.
To reiterate, the Camp-Pepin-Brown show is figuratively small beer in a very big brewery but let’s not just shrug it off as a late-coming copycat of the Hugh Segal-Michael Kirby-Gerald Caplan panel on CTV or of the wonderfully verbose Camp-Eric Kierans-Stephen Lewis trio on Peter Gzowski’s CBC radio show. Let’s list the choices available to the CBC or any other TV operation for political analysis and commentary which would give paramountcy to the partisan factors.
1) Regular use of a network or station’s own reporters. (My first preference and the most obvious and simplest choice, but it’s thought within CBC to be dangerous. It’s why Sunday Report had the outsider, Simpson, always teeing off and then CBCers reacting to his drive, rather than making their own.)
2) Use an MP from the respective parties. (My second preference. Why not those who figuratively live or die as partisans? The criticism is that it puffs those chosen too high, not least for colleagues and leaders to abide.)
3) Use of freelancers who work on politics and who may have strong points of view but who are neither obvious partisans nor by rote condescending about the parties. (My third preference, and a prospect for greater variety in critiques than TV has yet tried.)
4) Use of those who were or are within a party, perhaps still active as gurus, perhaps retired, perhaps defeated, to fill a slate like Camp-Pepin-Brown or Segal-Kirby-Caplan. (Tends to become arch, cosy, cerebral, with over-gilding of respective lilies. To me, the pits!)
5) Use of professors. (A favorite resort of The Journal – academics who are divined to close to a particular party – say Michael Bliss for the Conservatives, Bob Bothwell for the Liberals, Desmond Morton for the NDP. Tends to the arcane and historical.)
Let me end with a plea to the CBC. If you must do it the surrogate way, please give us Lewis or Caplan instead of Brown. She stacks it for the CBC being female and a “visible” minority as well as a partisan.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, September 13, 1991
ID: 12363722
TAG: 199109130106
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
COLUMN: Fisher Report


A new book, Not Without Cause, by Georgette Gagnon and Dan Rath (HarperCollins) is a brisk, journalistic run by a pair of partisan insiders through the rise, brief reign and abrupt end of David Peterson and his Liberal government in Ontario.
A reader who romps through this book will also understand what the year of experience with the Liberals’ successors is demonstrating: Ontario voters just changed one set of unsure, bluffing, amateurish dolts for another.
Many of us in Ontario, in particular in political journalism, have long patronized British Columbians, Albertans and Manitobans for pigmy-minded premiers like Wacky Bennett, Bill Vander Zalm, Harry Strom, Don Getty, Sterling Lyon and Gary Filmon. One message of this book is for us. We should look more closely at our own belly-buttons.
In aim and narrative line, Not Without Cause does not present a tragedy but a fast-paced farce. A dull leader with stupid advisers blows a sure thing! Well . . . a tragedy shouldn’t ooze with anecdotes of smart-ass politicians and aides veering from one set of pollsters’ figures to the next, and obsessed day after day with what images get on the TV news.
No recent book on politics I’ve read better makes the case (though indirectly) that each of our durable political parties is run by a tiny group of men and women, clustered closely to the leader. And these cadres are fixed on angles and ploys vis-a-vis the other parties far more than on achieving major programs or ensuring competence in government. It’s also pathetic in a province so diverse and widespread that this shallow, partisan gamesmanship is carried on largely in a small, slightly scrutinized enclave in Toronto.
The authors load their story with hindsight opinions on what each party’s cadre did or sought to do at each stage of the campaign from opening gambit to the final weekend’s desperation. These interpretations are drawn largely from party insiders (who’ve been remarkably candid) or from three or four reporters who’ve covered Queen’s Park.
Even though the authors were on the Peterson team they don’t wring much pathos from Peterson’s fall from grace. They seem more maudlin over the 500 Grits who were abruptly out of good jobs than over Peterson or defeated candidates.
They show without moralizing or regret that the parties and even the caucuses are entirely creatures of the leader. Most MPPs had no part in electoral decisions or campaign activities of any import. As an electoral phenomenon this is discouraging, but it’s worse to find that the leader and his inside crew are dominant all the time.
Rath and Gagnon really do not single out any heroes or villains from their tri-partisan cast. They do make a lot of Phil Gillies, a Tory schemer who devised and pumped the theme of over-taxation and overspending that helped prod Peterson into the witless, mid-campaign decision to cut the sales tax.
They also make clear a profusion of doubts and confusion arose in the Liberal ranks after Peterson’s opening press conference and never were addressed by him or his advisers before disaster came.
We know – at least I do – that some of Peterson’s cabinet colleagues have sharp minds and much experience. How could men like Bob Nixon, Ian Scott and Sean Conway let a campaign be shaped for such a simpleton leader by unelected blankety-blanks like Kathy Robinson, David MacNaughton and, in particular, by Martin Goldfarb, the long-time Grit pollster? The answer seems to be there is far too much respect for the party leader and his prerogatives in each party.
The authors leave to political scientists any rational analysis of why the Liberals lost. They let the flips and goofs in the campaign story do that. They speculate rather regretfully on the manifest volatility today of voters’ preferences. Like Peterson himself, they believe he was badly hurt, if not downed, by his close association with Brian Mulroney and Robert Bourassa in the failure of the Meech Lake accord.
For the suffering citizen there’s not much solace in what at root describes a perennially adolescent politics. There’s nothing here for those aching to have governing and taxing and spending of public monies done seriously, frugally and competently. The book confirms that party politics in Ontario replicates what we have and are fed up with in Ottawa. In both, the system and its processes are framed and powered through several quite small, largely unelected and highly subsidized groups. Each is symbolized and interpreted almost wholly in terms of its leader.
It’s too easy to read Not Without Cause and merely be thankful that such a tissue-thin leader with vapid handlers was so readily blown away. What has replaced him and them? A year later we know Ontario merely changed one little squad of amateurish dolts for another, and politics at Queen’s Park, as on Parliament Hill, remains fully in the playful hands of three largely undemocratic, inefficient institutions – i.e., the Liberal, New Democratic and Progressive Conservative parties. Each party is managed by a literal handful of people who sustain and cozen the leader who chooses them. Only rarely are these people answerable to most elected members, let alone the party.
Although we must be grateful that general elections offer us a chance for change, this book shows the choices are slight.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, September 11, 1991
ID: 12363104
TAG: 199109110094
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
COLUMN: Fisher Report


Let’s generalize on two strikes – the general strike of federal employees and the postal strike suspended while Justice William Gold mediates.
Many sideline observers apprehend the public service unions will lose their strike against the Mulroney government. It isn’t easy to see how they can win with the government’s stance set for months, and always reinforcable with a House majority at hand to legislate a return to work. Few strikers would defy such an order, going by the large minority of members who are still at work.
Although most journalists detest the Mulroney government, few cherish or even respect the quality of the labor leadership and have rarely been able to find those hallowed qualities of joined enthusiasm and solidarity among the members of the federal unions. This explains the modesty of the pro-union and anti-government line being taken by the media, especially TV.
This does seem to be one of those rare, large confrontations where many citizens will not find heroes to cherish on either side. Just try fixing the appeal of either Darryl Bean and Gilles Loiselle on a scale of 1 to 10.
Not least because the strike is so fuzzy, I argue it could be a good strike for Canada.
Firstly, we may discover something I still doubt – the seriousness of the Mulroney government’s leadership in our deficit-debt dilemma.
Secondly, we should find out whether these are real unions or just facades for what have largely been collusive dealings with governments. Since unionism in government burgeoned in the 1960s these dealings have generally recorded a remorseless march of annual raises that have made public employment in Canada the best in the West in terms of remuneration and pensions. They have also saddled almost every administration from village to province to Ottawa with high debt loads and a daunting vision of never-ending deficit financing.
Thirdly, a good, lively strike with some genuine bitterness and angst along the picket lines, particularly in Ottawa, might narrow the great gap between the real world for most Canadians and that more favored, benign one in the federal capital which a half-century’s growth in federal government has swollen and made over-secure.
In the postal fracas it’s uncanny to me how Jean-Claude Parrot holds steadfast to demands which go back two decades to the beliefs of his predecessor, the late Joe Davidson.
It will be a miracle if mediator Gold gets an agreement at the table with Canada Post and its most massive union, CUPW. But he might make a contribution to labor-management relations even beyond the post office if he can get issues of wages and grievance methods out of the way and focus on what union leader Parrot, supported strongly by his membership, simply refuses to abandon.
Joe Davidson was a Communist, schooled in the harsh labor politics of Glasgow. He literally believed that union members owned their jobs, and this meant far more than permanent job security for each member. In his mind – and Parrot’s – this always has meant unions have some say, at times even control, of any proposals for change, particularly those based on new technology which would do away with jobs or make remarkable alterations in shifts or work assignments.
Canada Post has been willing to give job security undertakings to present union members. Its present leadership simply will not settle with CUPW over sharing management plans for operations with unions unless directed to do so on terms dictated by Parliament. Succinctly, the Mulroney government has refused to give an inch in favor of CUPW’s demands regarding the future operations of Canada Post.
CUPW insists the new agreement must deal with phasing out the use of part-time workers. It demands corporate undertakings which will reverse both the trend to mail-box banks from postal “walks” and the escalating transition from formal offices to postal franchises in corner stores and malls.
What’s at core here is not a new story — management’s right to determine every aspect of operations. We had presages of the issue in the 1960s, particularly when a Manitoba judge, Sam Freedman, held an inquiry into the implications of technological change on railroads. An axing of occupations and extensions of runs were destroying many communities and radically altering job security for railway workers.
The gist of Freedman’s wisdom was simple: There was a social responsibility on the greater political community to deal with the hurtful consequences of the changes, whether these harmed individuals or communities. And so there came legislation requiring notice and consultations, and then public debate on the implications of massive closures or sweeping shifts in operations.
Should there be more than such rather general ad hoc safety net rules for those who work for large corporations, in particular for a corporation that has been given a monopoly by Parliament so it may fulfil broad, national social purposes?
If Justice Gold is not a magician you may be sure that MPs will be debating this question as they deal with the bill sending CUPW back to work. He could give the House debate some useful shape by focusing his mediation’s analysis on what worth and relevance is left in the Davidson-Parrot thesis that a union has a right to determine future staffing, occupations and locales of operation.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, September 08, 1991
ID: 12362322
TAG: 199109080164
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
COLUMN: Fisher Report


Lost summer! Isn’t it a dreary prospect? In a week the noisy tableau of the federal parliament resumes for its run to Christmas. There will be the bellwethers of politics we all know: Mulroney, Clark and Mazankowski; Chretien, Copps, and Axworthy; McLaughlin and Riis; Bouchard (Lucien) and LaPierre.
The summer slipped away without much good or bad happening in the constitutional field. Joe Clark chased his writ from premier to premier; the cabinet met showily in strange locales to “hammer out” a position. The most I can divine from such efforts is a failure to find any full-scale proposition which differs much from the Meech Lake accord; one’s a fool to believe the populace beyond Quebec is ripe for a Meech II.
Neither the slackening in political tension through July and August nor the generally good weather and fine crops did anything tangible for the standing of the prime minister and his government with the people.
The best face I can put on the palpable disgust with Brian Mulroney now felt by what I would swear is a majority of adult Canadians is that every prime minister whom I’ve watched except Louis St. Laurent – from R.B. Bennett in 1930 through Mackenzie King’s long years to Diefenbaker and Pearson and Trudeau – has been broadly disliked and distrusted after a few years in office. It’s bootless whether the hatred and contempt for Mulroney is the worst ever. In my memory R.B. Bennett earned that booby prize, nationally, whereas from Ontario west Pierre Trudeau set standards for loathing which Mulroney barely matches. Mulroney’s our present dilemma and it seems impossible his stock as prime minister could ever be altered enough, even by literally awful alternatives, for he and his party to earn a renewed mandate. It also seems impossible, given the firmness of Mulroney’s belief in his own worth and righteousness, that he would slip from office and let another lead the governing party (say, Joe Clark) through the constitutional imperative that Bourassa has framed in time and general requirements.
But most of us don’t give a hoot if the Tories lose the next election. We do appreciate that before it a matter of huge import must be settled. And here, the brute question is whether the prime minister can marshall a constitutional compromise which will enable Premier Bourassa to lead Quebec on within Canada and find acceptance and ratification in fairly short order by Canadians as a whole. My opinion is that he cannot. There is not nearly enough trust in him. Even worse, there also seems neither trust nor expectations for the other `federalist’ federal leaders – i.e., Chretien, McLaughlin, and Manning.
Of course it’s maddening and ridiculous that a country which works fairly well should founder, in part because its prime politician is so distrusted, in part over differing values breathed into something as nebulous yet as dynamic as “a distinct society.”
The best domestic news out of the summer remains very tentative: some tender, largely hopeful signs of economic recovery. It also seems likely that the royal commission of inquiry into aboriginal issues will be a blessing, reducing for a year or two the almost professional rancor that has exaggerated the enormity of our constitutional affairs.
The political fall now unfolding has an element which may profoundly affect the constitutional dilemma to its disadvantage or confusion in the short-run. We’re almost into provincial elections in B.C. and Saskatchewan. It seems clear these elections may produce NDP majority governments; and this will mean a substantial, fresh demand comes into the constitutional play – i.e., the “social charter” Bob Rae and Audrey McLaughlin want embedded in the constitution now.
It’s easy enough to prefigure that Bourassa, prodded by Jacques Parizeau, would tell the three NDP premiers and any others who like the binding commitments on Ottawa such a social charter entails to go keep their charter for their Canada. In that sense the NDP initiative will be negative and possibly the factor which destroys the chances for a constitutional settlement with Quebec. On the other hand, the idea of embedding a social charter appeals to a wide range of social democrats and liberally minded English Canadians. It could be the vision for the new Canada, post-Mulroney and post-Quebec.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, August 16, 1991
ID: 13097059
TAG: 199108150122
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11


Liberals Ethel Blondin, MP, and Sen. Len Marchand, are stumping Canada, arguing for a particular allotment of seats for natives in the House of Commons. The proposal is gaining more attention than it merits, either in itself or as something with a prospect of success.
Both protagonists are able and personable “status” Indians. Blondin is a Slavey from the Western Arctic; Marchand an Okanagan from B.C. (Aside from Blondin there are two other native MPs: Liberal Jack Anawak, an Inuit representing the Eastern Arctic; and Alberta Tory Wilton Littlechild from Wetaskawin.)
Blondin and Marchand have recently talked about 15 native seats. They and other natives say their figuring is based on the last census to hand (1986). This census, according to Harry Daniels, a spokesman for the Ontario Metis and Aboriginal Association, showed a total of over 900,000 aboriginals (500,000 status Indians, 400,000 Metis) and he thinks this count understated the real number of natives, which now is some 1.35 million – i.e., 5% of our 27 million.
Daniels believes natives should have seats “in proportion to their numbers,” and 5% equals 15 seats. He says more accurate figures must be gathered in order to have a native electoral roll.
Daniels’ figures are wrong for the ’86 census. A census document of December, 1987 analyzing ethnic origins stated:
“In 1986 711,720 persons (representing 3% of the total population reported at least one aboriginal origin) . . . ”
Further, “in 1986 286,230 gave a single North American Indian origin, 59,745 a single Metis origin and 27,290 reported a single Inuit origin.” One may assume that these were the respondents who really knew they were native and so asserted. Their total is far below Daniels’ ballpark number of 900,000 natives in 1986. As for the composition of the 711,728 figure, it’s clear that thousands who said they had ancestors who were native did not categorize themselves as either Indian or Metis.
When StatsCan issues its analysis next year of the census data taken in June, it will show totals for Inuit, status or registered Indians, non-status Indians, and Metis considerably higher than in 1986. The native birth rate is about twice that of other Canadians. Nevertheless, the figures will be well below Daniels’ magic 5% of the total population.
In the speeches or news stories of those proposing native seats there’s been little on the geography of the representation. Will it be split by province, as in our present system of determining House numbers?
Will the candidacies for the native seats be by tribal associations? Or will the native electoral roll be a national one? If so, will electors have a long, single slate of candidates? And would the Assembly of First Nations, an organization of several hundred chiefs, have a role in selecting candidates? If so, where would the Metis fit?
Canada has some 600 Indian bands on almost as many reserves. The band lists now total almost 500,000. But from 50%-60% of those on band lists do not live with the bands.
Take Toronto. As many status Indians live there as on Ontario’s most populous reserve. Would there be a native MP or two for them?
The proponents of the idea have said little on whether native voters would have a choice of party affiliations, or whether natives would have two votes, one for a native, the other for the usual candidates.
Blondin’s remarks suggest the native MPs would work outside the stock partisanship of the House, with their focus on issues prime for natives. That may seem good to those Canadians fed up with our party system but, willy-nilly, the parties frame and energize our politics and Parliament. The parties already cater for native backing. Imagine their antics if a solid bloc of 15 seats was to be gained . . . or lost!
The First Nations’ leaders and Ontario Premier Bob Rae have been boosting native self-government, but at this point the vagueness of what self-government should be is like a fog. It seems it’s more or grander than municipal government. When chiefs like George Erasmus and Bill Wilson expound self-government, the vision seems at least equivalent to a provincial government but with some national features.
So Canada would have a federal government, provincial governments with their creature municipalities and, seemingly, an Indian government, probably with a national assembly of its own.
Until the self-government issue itself is threshed out and made constitutional, the idea of a native bloc of MPs is premature. But the real trouble is that the idea of special representation is catching. Witness the recent NDP decision to enforce female candidacies until their numbers match their population share. Witness California and New York where homosexuals are demanding particular representation on councils and legislatures. They say discrimination and their special needs require this. In Canada, where multicultural policy is formal, surely blacks and some ethnic groups will want their own MPs.
A particular composition of special representation in Parliament means more than one kind of citizenship and entitlement within the state. In my opinion it’s undemocratic and ultimately madness.
(P.S. No one’s yet noted that some tribes do not believe in choosing representatives by vote.)

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, August 14, 1991
ID: 13096769
TAG: 199108130191
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11


What a grand concourse is joining to confound Premier Robert Bourassa’s plans of two more mighty hydro projects in the vast country of the Cree. Imagine criticism and resistance from the governor of New York, Mario Cuomo, the mayor of the city of New York, and from several New England states where much of the power would be sold.
Of course, the quite influential environmental movement in the Eastern U.S. and the entire movement in Canada, including some Quebecers, finds almost everything wrong with the projects, beyond what they will do to further despoil the way of life of the 8,000-10,000 Cree whose traditional hunting, fishing and gathering grounds are to be affected.
And alongside such resistance Bourassa now faces a constitutional contretemps which federal politicians from the prime minister to the Indian affairs minister, Tom Siddon, are clearly staying away from for as long as they can. The dilemma for a province devoted to the principle of a people’s right to self-determination is seen in the utterances of Ovide Mercredi, the new grand chief of the First Nations. He proclaims support of the First Nations for Cree self-determination; i.e., if Bourassa persists in his folly, the Cree would take themselves and their land out of Quebec, seemingly back to federal Canada where this huge chunk of present Quebec was before 1912. One doesn’t need Reid or Goldfarb to know such a move would be overwhelmingly popular among Canadians beyond Quebec. Mercredi and at least two other chiefs from the west have taken this issue even further, to the outrage of Jacques Parizeau and Lucien Bouchard: If Quebec separates, the natives will stay with Canada.
Both scenarios of separation are so ironic and droll that some people, especially in Quebec, are taking them as rather irrelevant irritations, not serious possibilities. Perhaps so, but anyone who has followed the remarkable recent rise of sympathetic approval for every proposition of white mistreatment which Indians and Inuit assert takes a different, very serious view of the Cree affair and all its implications.
On the face of the public record, including editorials and speeches by politicians, natives can do little wrong and the rest of Canadians acknowledge that they have never done right by them. Not only our governments but all our major Christian churches share in the guilt and the indictments.
As recently as 1985 when the required post-constitutional gatherings on aboriginal rights had collapsed for want of agreement among the premiers, there was nothing near the awareness nor the backing for native rights, native self-government, native land settlements, nor was there any substantial recognition of there being merit or worth in native religion or culture.
The transition from indifference to an intense, favoring piety has been quick and enormous. Now we await the formal appointment of a royal commission for which such zealous partisans of righteousness as George Erasmus and Bertha Wilson have apparently been recommended to the PM by his adviser on the inquiry, the retired chief justice Brian Dickson. And I’ve noted not a word of protest on how-one sided an inquiry with such leadership will be. No one has yet said: Wait; this is a kangaroo court; it will work with the premise the natives are all right and the rest of us (and our ancestors) all wrong.
If Canada still has any stores to give away it’s a dead certainty this coming commission will recommend they go to the First Nations, the Metis, and the Inuit. An event last week showed how far the trend has gone. The treaty which Premier Bob Rae signed with Ontario chiefs gave assurances on native self-government and territory for which Ontario hasn’t any constitutional responsibility. But in none of the chorus of hosannas was such an emptiness to Rae’s deed emphasized.
The near euphoria of guilt being transformed into a noble, national redemption is almost palpable in the media and its people, in the legislatures and their people (excepting, now, Quebec) and, one supposes, among Canadians by and large.
A new book has a neat capsule on two contrary, basic views on Indians which developed in Canada. The Queen’s People (U of T Press) is a study of the Okanagan Indians of B.C., made from observations over a quarter century by anthropologist Peter Carstens. It is fair, has much wisdom and humanity, and traces the Okanagans from their first white contacts until today, with a running account of the coercive effects of the Indian Act and its administration on the people and their accommodations to it.
Carstens sees “two basic models in the minds of outsiders when they reflect on native peoples in Canada.” His first view given is rapidly becoming passe, except in communities close to reserves. It is often racist in expression and thinks: “Most Indians are irresponsible and lazy, poorly educated, dirty and criminal and prone to alcoholism.”
The second view, says Carstens, is “a romantic, semi-academic, natural history view derived from museums, films, books and `mother’s knee history.’ In their original state, they say, Indians lived rich and noble lives as noble savages . . . they were a happy blend of the best qualities of animals and the spiritual domain. In this pristine state they are admired for their many qualities, especially their knowledge of homeopathic medicine and their mystical familiarity with nature.”
Neither view is anything like the reality but the second view is triumphant across the land and we’re about to redress past wrongs by returning their noble heritage to the natives.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, August 11, 1991
ID: 13096489
TAG: 199108110154
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
COLUMN: In Ottawa


This week we got texts of what were symbolic shows by the PM and his obvious alternative.
Brian Mulroney’s opening speech to the PC assemblage in Toronto was thorough and clever. Independent auditors thought it well done.
Jean Chretien came to us in an interview with Diane Francis, editor of the Financial Post. He was in fine form, the glib, knowing guy we recall from his vintage time of 1985-86 when he bowled through the country in body and book (Straight from the Heart).
At that latter apogee, I once spent hours in his company – plane, airport, receptions and a banquet. The only match for the recognition and high affection he got was that for John Diefenbaker in his glory days of 1958-59. The display was so real and universal that the eclipse in liking and respect which Chretien has suffered since returning to electoral politics from his exile-in-waiting period of 1986-89 still confounds me.
The critique one may draw from a side-by-side appraisal of the speech and the interview is plain. There isn’t any ideological gulf between the two leaders on economic and social issues. Each has the same vision of Quebec in Canada. Both indulged in much brag. Given that Mulroney was out to rally the faithful, his hyperbole at his own achievements was stock partisan stuff.
The Chretien brag was as gross as Mulroney’s to anyone with a memory of his dreary, though noisy, performance as finance minister from 1977-79. Yet he recalled his “achievements” then with relish (and much forgetfulness).
Asked what the Tories could do to get interest rates down (as he advocates), since John Crow of the Bank of Canada governs them, Chretien said:
“You have the right to write a letter to the governor of the Bank of Canada giving him instructions. I never did when I was finance minister. I had good relations with Mr. (Gerald) Bouey and never had a problem of the type we’re having.” Then came this ingenious but effective self-promotion.
“A recent article did a study of ministers of finance for the past 20 years, comparing growth in spending including inflation. You know who won? He’s the one talking to you.”
Then to disarm offence at the brag he said:
“The first year as finance minister, spending increased by 1.3% and my second budget was a decrease of 1.2%. So I know what it is, but it’s not easy. But we will never be perceived as having only one interest – the business interest or having the interest of the unions only as is the case in the Ontario NDP government today. The country has always been comfortable with the party of the centre. And it’s what I will offer.”
There, Chretien both skewered the NDP and went for the hearts of the business folk who read the Post. He failed to note that the decrease in spending he mentioned came after Pierre Trudeau came home from a pep talk by his friend, German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and, without even consulting his minister of finance, declared a tough program of cost controls.
When Francis asked Chretien if he’d scrap the GST he skirted to “a review of the entire tax system to have a fairer tax system.” He would do this, “not like the Tories did, raising tax after tax after tax 32 times plus the GST and they are still at $30 billion of deficit.”
Effective partisan guff! More ingeniously, Chretien portended a new Grit initiative, “the Western Hemisphere economic policy.” This would seem his vague remedy for Mulroney’s insertion of Canada so far into the U.S. orbit.
Thus, his neat conclusion: “That would never have happened with (Lester) Pearson or Trudeau. You’ve got to keep your distance. Canadians want to remain independent. They want to do good business, but don’t want to become Americans.”
Yeah! And so say most of us. But Chretien is almost another face of Mulroney. He does not plan to kill the free trade agreement or the GST or reprivatize anything. And his inspirational recall of the great Pearson-Trudeau years parallels Mulroney’s more mellifluous phrases for the Tories: “No one can accuse our government of shrinking from the big decisions – from free trade to Meech Lake, from the GST to the Gulf, from deficit reduction to privatization.”

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, August 09, 1991
ID: 13096231
TAG: 199108090068
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11


Not long ago, without his obituary in mind, I was thinking of Roland Michener. I was reflecting why many former politicians of rank, such as George Drew, Donald Fleming, and Bud Drury, had small notice at their deaths whereas others who had had less power and influence within politics such as Eugene Forsey and Dave Croll got so much.
In considering the latter pair I could divine that sheer longevity had a lot to do with it; that, and keeping in the public eye through a continuing, particular contribution to public discussion – in Forsey’s case, the Constitution, in Croll’s case, poverty. And then I thought of Michener, such a vigorous symbol for physical fitness. This theme flowered with him in his 70s when he was long gone from Parliament and Rideau Hall.
I had enough to do with these three men to know that at their passing they deserve national tributes to their work and a broad regret we will hear and see them no more. Let me come at Michener, as I did with Forsey and Croll, through some personal experiences with him.
My awareness of Michener began with the riding of St. Paul’s (central Toronto – Bloor and St. George) which he won first in 1953. In 1949, a Liberal, Jim Rooney, after several tries, had taken the riding long held by Douglas Ross, a likable Tory fussbudget whom I knew. In 1949 and 1953 I was strong for Andrew Brewin, the CCF candidate (who finished well back). In some leaflet spreading in St. Paul’s I found party allegiances were fairly even between Tories and Grits so I wasn’t surprised Rooney fell to Michener in 1953 or that Michener fell nine years later to Ian Wahn, a Liberal. This loss took Michener out of electoral politics for good but through his Oxford University friendship with Mike Pearson, he was off to India as high commissioner and then to Rideau Hall in 1967.
In 1957 John Diefenbaker chose Michener as Speaker of the House of Commons after offering the post of what might be a permanent speakership to “Mr. Parliament,” Stanley Knowles of the CCF.
I was a new CCF MP in that House. Like most of the other MPs I quickly gained a great respect for Speaker Michener. He was fair and most courteous and quicker than most later Speakers at making rulings and forestalling trouble. His hardest nut was the prime minister. Diefenbaker relished partisanship. Often his Grit-hiving was so excessive Michener had to cut him short or suggest he should rephrase his remarks in language more in keeping with parliamentary tradition.
Such temerity and a few rulings allowing opposition motions exasperated the Chief but they convinced most MPs and reporters that the Speaker was a straight shooter. At that time question period hadn’t stylized into a daily squall and debates were more pleasant, largely because so many MPs listened to them.
It was encounters outside the chamber which made me appreciate Michener’s most wonderful qualities, courtesy and resolution.
Late in 1958, at a NATO meeting in Paris, Mrs. Michener and I had a bitter argument over a social matter. Her husband as Speaker was head of our parliamentary delegation. She always recalled Vincent Massey to me – poised and aristocratic in mien and speech. Her sense of what was proper and her incisiveness in speech reminded me of a later Governor General, Jeanne Sauve. She was smart and opinionated. It was not surprising her husband was most agitated at our quarrel and flummoxed on how to smooth it over. On the plane home several fellow MPs, only half in jest, were saying my days of “getting the floor” were gone. But they were wrong. Michener was fair to all.
Shortly after this I began a campaign in the caucuses on the Hill for MPs to have higher pay, air travel passes, long distance phone credits, full-time secretaries, and a better allowance in stationery supplies. The PM was against all this but I found Michener was a significant, though quiet, ally. In my retrospect, he and George Hees, then minister of transport, were largely responsible for pushing most of the improvements for MPs into effect despite the Chief’s resistance.
A week or so before the election in 1962 I met Michener in a back corridor of the House. We talked campaign. I thought my chances 50-50. He felt he would win against a trend in Toronto to the Liberals because he’d had so much press, notably on his merits as a permanent Speaker for the House. This was a popular proposition on the Hill though not with the Chief. Michener proudly showed me his “letter to the electors” which emphasized both his neutrality as Speaker and his work for constituents. My partisan contacts in Toronto were good and they’d told me he’d be lucky to survive. So I warned Michener to get ready for a loss. And he lost by 137 votes.
Indirectly, this was tragic for the Chief because the next Speaker in a fractious, minority House was no Michener.
Some 25 years later Michener and I shared a table corner at a banquet and he asked if I remembered my warning. As I nodded he began laughing. Like a fool, he said, he’d forgotten the row in Paris, and went into his suite and told his wife, “Douglas Fisher has just told me I’ll be lucky to be re-elected.”
“Oh my,” said Michener, “she was angry. Why had I even spoken to such a rude fellow?”
He said he hadn’t defended me but later he was very grateful for the warning. It readied him for the brutal blow to his pride when he lost.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, August 07, 1991
ID: 13095867
TAG: 199108060168
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11


This column is not about the dilemma to Canada, or the Tories, of a very unpopular prime minister. Rather it mulls around the fortunes and status of the two most obvious alternatives to Brian Mulroney.
It will be visual to Tory members in convention this week. They have not a single, ready and willing challenger to the prime minister in the cabinet or caucus. And it’s been the press, not politicians, who occasionally have got “promos” going of would-be successors – e.g., Kim Campbell, Perrin Beatty, Jean Charest, and Barbara McDougall. It’s really striking that aside from the scenario of Mulroney with a sudden stroke, there has been little on the two men of the parliamentary cast with the best records and the most collegial respect, the one as deputy prime minister, the other a former prime minister, a solid foreign minister for over six years, and still the ablest parliamentarian in the House.
Last week old rumors about both men were being reworked around Ottawa, and substantial or not, they make wonder you what a minister has to do to be sure of broad appreciation and re-election, particularly in his or her regional bailiwicks. And this is not just a Tory phenomenon, Jean Chretien went out of his home province to get a House seat.
The rumors were that Mazankowski would leave Ottawa this fall for Alberta provincial politics and bid to succeed Don Getty as Alberta premier and Clark would concede his weak hold on the riding of Yellowhead by announcing his intention to run in the federal riding of Edmonton Southeast, now held by David Kilgour, a recent conversion from the PC caucus to the Liberals. Both rumors are seen as moves to further the Mulroney team’s re-election prospects.
Both rumors have the ring of fabrication, particularly that about Mazankowski. While Clark won Yellowhead riding in ’88 by 6,700 votes, in ’84 his margin was over 30,000 votes. Part of the difference in ’88 was the candidacy of Preston Manning, then getting his Reform Party underway. Since then Reform has come on. A Tory MP from the Calgary region told me he himself would be hard put to survive the Reform Party challenge, but Joe Clark didn’t have a chance in Yellowhead.
The PM has his party’s regular opinion polling service to monitor such a threat to Clark, or to show what a move by his top colleague to replace Premier Getty in the home territory of Preston Manning would do to shore his party’s attraction to Albertans. Remember, the NDP is the official opposition in Alberta. As an allegedly spendthrift gang of socialists, Mazankowski would relish routing the NDP from Alberta.
If Clark’s able work for so long as foreign minister has hurt him with the electors of Yellowhead, what about Mazankowski and his ranking in Alberta? Has the immense care and time he has had to give since 1984 as the inner broker and snafu-fixer of the cabinet kept Albertans from realizing the substantial programs and money the government has brought Alberta and the West, particularly for farmers and the oil-gas industry?
One current answer seems affirmative. It’s by a political scientist, Harman Bakvis, in his new book, Regional Ministers: Power and Influence in the Canadian Cabinet (U of T Press).
Bakvis argues Canada no longer has the regional ministers of giant proportions and authority away from Ottawa. He has fascinating detail on the spending rampages of Trudeau ministers like Lloyd Axworthy (Manitoba), Romeo Leblanc (N.B.) and Allan MacEachen (N.S.) which emphasizes the prodigality each showered on riding and region but without gaining the regional reach once enforced by the likes of Jimmy Gardiner, Mackenzie King’s prairie baron.
In his conclusion, Bakvis gets to Mazankowski. The context he puts him in touches my earlier puzzling on why major minister are no longer safe electoral bets, in or beyond their own ridings. Bakvis is pondering “the all-important question of regional ministers’ effectiveness.”
This, he says, is “not necessarily in the delivery of benefits to their region but in linking regional populations more closely with the centre, of being able to defend unpopular government policies, and in ensuring broader support for the government and for the government itself at election time. This after all was the quality attributed to the cabinets of Macdonald, Laurier and King.”
“On the one hand, in the Trudeau and Mulroney cabinets there have been several ministers preoccupied with channelling federal largesse, primarily to their own ridings. On the other hand it has been argued that the broader, nation-building efforts of a minister such as Mazankowski have been appreciated neither by provincial Conservative governments nor voters in Western Canada, at least in the sense of enhancing the legitimacy of the federal government and central institutions. Mazankowski and others seem to lack stature both in comparison to present-day premiers and with past ministers such as Gardiner and Lapointe.”
And Badkvis goes on to suggest this situation reflects a federal, institutional weakness and explains in part the enthusiastic western ramp for a Triple-E senate. More power and influence at the centre than ministers like Mazankowski and Clark have been providing.
We’ll be back to why regional ministers are no longer anything much.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, August 04, 1991
ID: 12232368
TAG: 199108040148
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
ILLUSTRATION: cartoon by Andy Donato
COLUMN: Backgrounder


Rather suddenly, the policy of multiculturalism in Canada is staggering under fire.
Is it dying? Should it die?
My thesis is it should die, and soon, before Supreme Court interpretations of Charter cases give us so many collective identities that the simple, basic idea of a Canadian identity, a Canadian individual, disappears.
The death-dealers should be the politicians who created the policy, mouth its virtues at myriad ethnic functions, and erected the sustaining grants structure.
For those who see the peril in multiculturalism, it is imperative to underline the Toronto factor. Metro Toronto was the genesis and most of the raison d’etre for Canadian multiculturalism.
How and why is a very complex story. Some of it began in the 1960s from a vigorous rivalry for circulation and immigration readers between the Star and the Tely. They outdid each other in extolling the elements in Toronto’s coruscating cosmopolitanism and rejected the long cherished Britishness of the Queen City.
But the real trigger of the very diverse immigration which has so obviously altered Toronto’s makeup in the past three decades was the drastic change in immigration policy (the points system!) which Tom Kent engineered when he was Prime Minister Lester Pearson’s Richelieu and mandarin mastermind.
Kent, a very liberally-minded man and an adult immigrant from England, disliked the Orange-WASP lock he thought he saw on Toronto. The lock was rather illusory by the 1960s but Kent set out to break it by flooding the city with immigrants from other than western Europe.
Of course, the ideological frame for the new immigration policy was idealistic.
Canada was leaving behind its long discrimination, its favoring of white Europeans (but not Jews).
Canada as a world power was advancing a global ideal, recreating within itself a microcosm of the human world’s diversity. And that does make a wonderful sermon for clergyman or politician.
The Kent initiatives coincided with reports from the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism which Pearson set going.
That inquiry’s early obsession with French-English relations and bilingualism roused such protests from cultural spokesmen for those of ethnic origin other than “the founding peoples” that both commissioners and politicians began to talk of “the third force” and to eulogize the “mosaic” of Canada (which was somewhat an off-shoot of the British heritage in which, we were all told, the sun never set on the diverse races, creeds, languages, and cultures of the Empire and Commonwealth.)
Thus, despite a personal campaign over decades by John Diefenbaker to get rid of hyphenated Canadianism (he hated being called a German-Canadian) the federal Liberals took Canada right back into the hyphenates of Italian-Canadians and Polish-Canadians, and far beyond.
As a Liberal minister for multiculturalism told me in the late 1970s: “To appreciate why multiculturalism, drive Bathurst from bottom to top.”
If multiculturalism is to die, it needs far more realization in Toronto than now exists that the policy is divisive and means ever deeper engraining factionalism and the forcing of an obsessive tokenism on almost every large organization.
My apprehension is that multiculturalism will recede for a time rather than disappear. In any case, the impetus for such a denouement goes far past the brutal evidence against the policy publicized by the Spicer inquiry into our home-bred crisis of unity.
Developments in realms as disparate as the United States, the USSR, and eastern and southern Europe, are confirming the vitality in and the natural concert between nationalism and individualism.
In Canada, however, multiculturalism’s programs have many interest groups battening on them. All these groups, particularly the associations of ethnics of post-World War II immigration, are ready to defend multiculturalism with the counter-attacking charge of “racist” against anyone who insists the policy is wrong-headed.
This quote from a reader’s letter, Ronald McLaren of Whitby, thumbnails the issue: “Multiculturalism was invented by politicians, not the people. Polls indicate that new immigrants themselves did not demand it. In fact, before politicians started promoting multiculturalism, few immigrants had thought of it. Multiculturalism has divided Canadian society into many different solitudes where people see themselves as belonging to their own ethnic group rather than to Canada. Our country is falling apart because there is no common glue to bind us together.”
Last week Sun columnist George Jonas wrote from an immigrant’s point of view: “Multiculturalism is superfluous at best and, at worst, mischievous. Instead of a unique and unified Canada, it promotes a fragmented society, a patchwork of separate communities, each worried about the supposed privileges of any other segment while jealously guarding its own.”
Polls for what they’re worth show broad agreement with what Jonas sought when he came: “A nation which is descended of many element informed by many traditions, but still one nation with a clear identity of its own, based on the cultural, political, legal, and linguistic heritages of its own history.”
Two other developments which are intrinsic in understanding the dangers in multiculturalism as a policy with continuing effects must be emphasized – in education and constitutionally!
First, there has been the withering of any teaching of Canadian history and government in schools beyond Grade 9.
That is, as we were proclaiming the equal worth of each ethnicity in the world and of its culture to fit our immigration policy, our schools were ceasing to require more than a rudimentary knowledge of how and why Canada came to be, including its complex but genuinely democratic system of government and politics.
What you don’t know, you can hardly understand. And if you don’t bother to think your history and its achievements are important, why should newcomers, particularly when the official line they are given is that in Canada every heritage has equal value?
For any thinking person, this cant of all heritages being of equal worth is nonsense. It misses entirely where and how individual rights and freedoms developed in the world.
It ignores the literal fact that so many of our immigrants came and still come from countries without freedom and democracy; indeed, that’s why many wanted Canada, not their own heritage.
The second development is the emergence of unique collective rights or entitlements, not from ad hoc legislation by legislatures but through interpretations of the Charter by Canada’s Supreme Court.
The Charter recognized the traditional rights and freedoms of aboriginal people, the need for “preservation and enhancement of the multicultural heritage of Canadians,” guaranteed equality to female persons, and by Section 15 (2) approved affirmative action programs for those “disadvantaged because of race, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.”
On the last, discrimination may be legitimate, even against a considerable majority, if it ameliorates the lot of specific disadvantaged groups. Yes, this is every bit as noble as the immigration policy which, at least in theory, says anyone, anywhere, has the right of equal access to Canadian citizenship.
One of the most revered American liberal historians, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., discoursed recently in Time on the U.S. rise of multiculturalism.
He makes the point we should appraiseseriously, that the Americans escaped the divisiveness of the Old World by creating a brand new nationality.
Multiculturalism is for people like Pierre Trudeau, one of its key sponsors. He hated French Canadian nationalism so much he hated all nationalism. And he wanted to deprive all Canadians, not just Quebecers, of a unifying nationalism in favor of Canadianism as multiethnicity.
And his proudest achievement in the eyes of many is the Charter of Rights which, increasingly, as court interpretations of its application flow, accords collective or group rights a value and recognition above the individual.
And so we get the ironically bitter whimsy that for Canadian job security, one needs be an aboriginal or a bilingual disabled female of a visible minority.
The Charter’s appeal as a remedying instrument to help the disadvantaged was apparent in the most recent academic study of court decisions on Charter work.
Prof. Andrew Heard is fretful because not all the justices are ready to accept Charter arguments and wants appointments which will rectify this.
Substitute Canada for the U.S. in the following sentences by Schlesinger. I suggest it because I think what he fears in the U.S. is happening here and being taken without enough protest and criticism because too few are ready to challenge multiculturalism.
“The cult of ethnicity gives rise to the conception of the U.S. as a nation composed not of individuals making their own choices but of inviolable ethnic and racial groups. It rejects the historic American goals of assimilation and integration . . .
“The growing diversity . . . makes the quest for unifying ideals and a common culture all the more urgent. In a world savagely rent by ethnic and racial antagonisms, the U.S. must continue as an example of how a highly differentiated society holds itself together.”
But we haven’t even got the American tradition of one unifying nationalism of our own.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, August 02, 1991
ID: 12231909
TAG: 199108020105
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11


An update on Fortunato Pacios-Rivera. He’s a consulting forester whose 51-day hunger strike led Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon to launch an independent inquiry into the business affairs of the Meadow Lake Tribal Council.
Now Ovide Mercredi, the chief of the Assembly of First Nations has attacked Siddon for launching the inquiry. In supporting the tribal council (10 bands in Northern Saskatchewan) Mercredi was against the inquiry as an abuse of due process. The matter should have been dealt with by civil actions in courts. The council has a suit over alleged incompetence by Pacios-Rivera in his work with the council on logging and lumbering programs over several years.
One native leader, Roland Crow, chief of the Indian Nations of Saskatchewan told the Ottawa Citizen that the forester tried to avoid actions brought by the council, “preferring to generate doubts about the integrity of Indian people through media sources who are not too thorough in checking their sources.”
Chief Crow’s reference is probably to my columns on the Pacios-Rivera case. Before I first wrote I tried to reach representatives of both the council and regional Indian Affairs in Prince Albert and Meadow Lake to discuss the case, and found no one who would say they knew anything about its particulars. Between those columns, no one from either the council, the Assembly, or the department tried to enlighten me. In any case, the inquiry will be quick – done by October – and if the Council’s integrity and methods are sustained it will be a tellable proof of native competence. If the report is critical and finds substance in the allegations by the forester, Chief Mercredi will surely not continue to argue there has been an abuse of the due process of law.

A neat, droll argument from Thomas Young of Shanty Bay on those “who portray politicians as mindless dolts, and the rest of us as Einsteins for catching their ineptitudes.”
“What if the reverse is true?” asks Young, and continues:
“To those who think themselves smug and superior, I would say, Can you write your own job description, and change it whenever it suits you? Can you show up for work whenever you feel like it, without penalty for absence? Can you stipulate your own salary, and can you include whatever perks you want? Have you got a pension plan that requires only 11% of your own non-taxed money, and the rest paid by others? And can you trigger this pension after only six years at one occupation, regardless how many millions you get from other endeavors? Can you do all that? I can’t, and I don’t know anybody who can. But our STUPID politicians do all that for themselves.”
In short, our MPs are Machiavellis, not chumps.

It’s baffling the New Democrats have not exploited their anniversary for proud retrospectives. It was in Ottawa, 30 years ago this week that they launched as a party, picked their name and chose Tommy Douglas, then the CCF premier of Saskatchewan, as their first leader, over Hazen Argue, then the CCF leader in the House of Commons.
Federally the NDP has had considerable influence rather than power, but its national electoral prospects are not hopeless. Since 1961 the party won office in three provinces other than Saskatchewan, and it seems on the eve of putting two fresh premiers at the first ministers’ table beside Premier Bob Rae. Arguably, the NDP’s best decade will be its fourth, given Canada remains whole.
The founding convention was enthusiastic, and much admired as responsible, forward-looking and constructive, even by observers of rival parties. True, many outsiders were broadly sure the formal alignment with organized labor would be bad for the party in the long run. At this date, even in the NDP itself, there are pros and cons on that matter.
A sad echo from the 1961 affair this week, though not for New Democrats. The first candidate for their leadership, Hazen Argue, a Liberal senator for 25 years, had criminal charges against him stayed on compassionate grounds. He’s very ill. The charges were on misuse of senatorial services for his wife’s political aspirations.

A letter from J.E. Beliveau of Shediac, N.B. comments on a recent column on the Globe & Mail’s quality decline.
“More and more I have become disenchanted with “The National” since the Thorsell takeover and the reign of the pseudo-intellectuals . . . who seem to have decided that news is passe, i.e., hard news and informative news.”
“Thank you for the truth,” writes Beliveau, “about a once-almost-great newspaper. I suppose I should drop it, but a journalist who saw a newspapers office first in 1930 can’t resist looking at at least one metropolitan newspaper each day.”
Beliveau was once a well-known byline in the Toronto Star, often writing on the Quebec of Maurice Duplessis. With that perspective he writes, “I don’t think Quebec will go, although both sides are working hard for it. We in this region, where we have the Acadians, simply deplore the idea of separation. The Acadians have always thought their Quebec brethren arrogant. We can see ourselves going the way of Bangladesh in separate circumstances, and that would be a particular pity for New Brunswick where things are now going well.”

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, July 31, 1991
ID: 12231333
TAG: 199107300156
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11


Why does Canada need military forces? There is such common sense for our politicians in the latest issue of “National Network News” that I had to pillage it, in particular the arguments by historian Desmond Morton on why “Canadian defence policies have been almost consistently bad.”
The periodical – 20 pages, plain, without illustrations or cartoons – comes out four times a year. Each issue has 10 or so short articles, usually by ex-military people rather than by journalists, and an editorial or two by its sponsors, the Defence Associations’ National Network. The latter is only three years old; its objective is “to support the requirement for a modern and Canadian Armed Forces consistent with the needs of national security.” The members were largely once in the military or in defence industry work. My respect is growing for their determination that we have a defence policy which most citizens can fathom and support or criticize knowledgeably.
The current issue opens with a brief outline by Defence Minister Marcel Masse. In large part it is trite, with bromides on achieving harmony and balance in the face of many demands in the far-reaching review of defence policy he has underway. This will soon be issued, and Masse heralds what several of the other articles argue should be drastic cuts if Canada is to have, as Masse promises: “a smaller, better equipped armed forces concentrated on fewer, and more modern bases . . . rather than spread across the country in a deteriorating infra-structure which is increasingly costly to maintain.”
Masse notes that “many vested interests are involved . . . resistance can be expected – the base closures and reductions announced in 1989 demonstrate that much.” Yes. Anyone recalling the recent uproar from P.E.I., London and Portage la Prairie over base closures appreciates why historian Morton says we’ve never have had armed forces developed with the principle foremost of value-for-money; it’s always been value-for-politics, and an armed forces thus over-tasked and under-equipped.
C.R. Nixon, long a deputy-minister of the defence department in the Trudeau era, opens a dour “point of view” by wondering how one can trust the policy review underway when the military officer who was most responsible for developing it (Admiral Thomas) resigned in disagreement with the top general, decrying the inadequate foresight in the rush to restrictive defence budgets. He also questions the change in defence ministers with the new one “proceeding without any possibility he fully understands the portfolio, what is Canada’s defence situation, nor exhibiting that he has any views himself on defence, nor appearing to be carrying any defence policy position of the government.”
That’s strong criticism, though not unfair, given Masse’s past record in cabinet and what he’s said since he got defence.
Another article by Dan Mainguy, “Sacred Cows,” concentrates on the enormous costs and overlap of three military colleges, four other institutions for the professional development of officers, plus two major centres for training NCOs. He notes that 20,000 members of a force of just 85,000, at a cost of over $1.5 billion a year, is required to handle “personnel support and development.” Such education, training, and personnel practices illustrate why so relatively little defence money is available for modern equipment.
Long a major personality in the NDP, Desmond Morton has earned wide respect as a fair, thorough scholar and a prolific, excellent writer. I relished his essay: “Defence planning for an unforeseeable future.”
He begins with obvious factors: a country with “a tiny community of the military aware,”; the unpredictable condition of global relations, unbound by the close of the Cold war; and a nation which could not protect itself from either of its powerful neighbors. We have been accepting of the Americans as our umbrella for any crunch. Those of us with a right-wing cast of mind accept this without concern. But as Morton puts it:
“Paradoxically, it is people on the political left who tend to be most alarmed by the threat of Yankee imperialism; they are the least sympathetic to any military response. They are even more averse to another, far more frequent application of the good old `Priority No.1′: internal security. From `strike duty’ to Oka, the liberal and social democratic conscience is unaccepting and unquiet.”
Morton says, drolly and accurately: “Political considerations, whether oriented to the peace movement or the pork barrel, have out-weighed professional advice.”
“Our defence planners, ” desperate for a solid rationale . . . know competent armed forces cannot be improvised and modern equipment takes longer than ever to acquire.”
With the future unpredictable, so are our specific military needs but the basic defence policy line should be chary of over-tasking our forces and zero in on “carving out the massive political component in our $12 billion budget.”
How hard will this carving be? Ponder just three of Morton’s points preliminary to a fresh, sane defence policy.
“We would sell off bases on high-cost, urban real estate.”
“We would mothball some of the 44 small towns the department now maintains.”
“We would save from 40 to 100% by procuring warships, weapons, and ammunition from the cheapest competent supplier.” Provocative stuff!

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, July 28, 1991
ID: 12230846
TAG: 199107280156
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
COLUMN: In Ottawa


Have you noticed the bent of commentary, even in financial papers, to take Michael Wilson more critically as (gulp!) minister of industry, science and technology and minister for international trade than was the case through his more than six years as minister of finance?
It’s not because his successor, Don Mazankowski, is coming through strongly or differently. Maz is marking time in Wilson’s old place, using his old lines, though less assertively. In part the less respectful tone on Wilson may reflects the greater importance of finance than any other government department.
Much of the shift on Wilson is surely reaction to six years of his ceaseless preaching on deficit reduction and debt controls without any headway of substance ensuing. That is, the annual deficit is still in the $30 billion range; the federal debt ranges ever higher toward $400 billion and the interest on it will soon be the largest item in federal costs.
This summer, as Wilson begins his preachments from his new pulpits, even with the recession beginning to recede, it’s plain most of us are not taking the Mulroney government seriously on economic issues. A factor is surely the grave doubts Brian Mulroney can solve the rather greater crisis of national unity. “Greater,” surely in real terms, even though there is more concern in the populace over the economy than about Quebec.
Before noting the theme of Wilson’s new sermons one must grant that despite his failure to wrestle the annual deficit down, even to $20 billion, or to stop the debt’s rise, let’s admit he made most of us aware, even the freest of political spenders, the NDP.
First, consider the dilemma of Premier Bob Rae and his vanished popularity and some consequential antics by almost incumbent NDP premiers, Mike Harcourt (B.C.) and Roy Romanow (Saskatchewan). They deny they would spend on the huge deficit scale Rae has committed Ontario to for the next three years.
Second, mull what the Citizen’s Forum on Canada’s future (Keith Spicer et al) has reported.
“Citizens repeatedly raised the subject of the economy throughout the forum process. Indeed, in many cases economic concerns ranked higher and were pressed harder than any other . . . ”
“By far the most frequently mentioned economic issue was the deficit. Apart from the general concern that the deficit be reduced, participants often recommended limits on governments’ ability to incur large deficits, limits on, or strict monitoring of, government spending and a balanced budget.”
Given such evidence, Michael Wilson was surely a success at finance in preaching to the masses. Obviously his successor saw this insight of the Spicer inquiry. Witness the ministerial ceremonies early this month about capping federal spending programs. Or witness the still rolling Tory propaganda of what reform of the public service (PS2000 is its label) will do in streamlining the bureaucracy and curbing its cost.
In a word, Wilson is now pursuing “competitiveness.” The imperative, he says, is clear: Canadians by the hundreds of thousands must ready themselves by never-ending education and training, by steady investment and promotion, by aggressive trading and selling, to compete more ably in a ruthlessly competitive world. We trade or regress. We compete or we die, figuratively. These are the themes in his so-called Prosperity Initiative.
And Wilson says, “It will involve people in all walks of life . . . help all Canadians build a prosperous future.” He is confident “that Canadians will welcome this opportunity to participate.” Well, Wilson got away with his line that deficits and debt load are truly terrible. He convinced most of us, probably because we can relate to them from our own budgets and the penalties for spending beyond our incomes.
It will be far harder – I think impossible – to sell this stuff of being competitive, of going all out for more education and training, especially in technology, and for more retooling and a far more open, competitive, domestic market.
What all this says is Tory times are lean times.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, July 26, 1991
ID: 12230128
TAG: 199107250097
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11


Suddenly there’s wide recognition of what’s been obvious for 15 or more years: The oral question period of the House of Commons – QP for short – is a stagey sham, a fraud of vicious slurs and calculated evasions.
In essence, QP is a 45 minute forum of adversaries: Opposition MPs vs. ministers, the executive arm of the federal government. There’s no real role in QP for the non-ministerial MPs on the government side.
Having the cabinet in the House, and in power so long as it has the majority of the House with it, is at the core of parliamentary government and is its most obvious distinction from congressional-presidential government.
Here, the executive functions while being answerable directly to those elected by the people, and it must consist of those so chosen (except for the odd unelected senator).
Here, the ministers must sponsor bills to make laws and to get spending approved and see both through Parliament against the objections of the opposition. It’s rare that any bill or spending goes through without strong opposition criticism and contrary votes.
This brief sketch underlines that confrontation is at the heart of more than just question period in our House of Commons.
One gets nowhere considering reform or abolition of QP if one doesn’t begin by recognizing that opposition for opposition’s sake is intrinsic to our system.
One might say our system demands opposition and exalts the tactics and talents of criticism and nay-saying. You see this in the phrase, “the Leader of the Official Opposition.”
Of course, the means for collating and directing both the intentions of the executive and the expression of this opposition is through parties, specifically by the parties’ caucuses of MPs.
How to reform or abolish QP when it has such advantages for the opposition caucuses, especially to one that has little hope of power, and particularly when adversarial antics so enliven a news of politics and government heavy on talking heads and photo-ops?
As I noted in my last column, MPs know QP is a charade – “All BS,” as John Turner puts it. Naturally, government MPs would have QP clipped, its excesses stopped. Lots of opposition MPs now agree the public impression which QP has created is bad, destroying trust and respect. An opposition MP prophesied to me a coming insurrection of MPs. They will demand more responsibilities and powers, and this will mean getting the executive out of the House and, inevitably, the end of QP in anything close to what it has become.
When our nation’s future is in jeopardy over constitutional issues not directly related to anything as wrenching as changing from a parliamentary to a congressional-presidential system, the chance of the latter is remote, although it will certainly rise if Quebec departs. Why so? Because what’s left will have to canvass and create a fresh system of governance and for new arrangements between the centre of “the rest of Canada” and the parts.
Meantime, we are stuck with an unreformed QP, so the question is whether the opposition parties will agree to its reform, even a drastic reduction in its significance. If so, what powers or support would they give the Speaker to enforce the changes?
Only political cognoscenti know that the rules of the House of Commons, as distinct from its developed practices, forbid specifically almost every antic, gambit or play now used and which so demean the procedure and its participants.
Why hasn’t the Speaker applied the rules? Well . . . the answers vary and most go back through three or four lax or timid or slow Speakers; and they usually work in exceptions made for John Diefenbaker in his last years in opposition; or they point to the irresistible lure of TV (in the House since 1979); or they emphasize that the deadly competition within the opposition between the Grits and New Democrats has seemingly made QP a life or death proposition, especially for the third party.
The Chief would ramble, make assertions, review history, and be allowed long rein in QP. As for TV, even a chump MP knows a vivid allegation or exaggeration makes a TV news clip, even if the Speaker calls the questioner to order.
The present Speaker, John Fraser, is slow and succeeded one who was grossly incompetent. He’s tried for several years to ameliorate an ugly QP scene with bonhommie and by prating of courtesy and consideration to “honorable members.” He hasn’t tried – and alone he won’t try – to enforce the rules of QP that have been ignored or breached for so long. It’s even clearer that any return to a QP of common sense will not rise like magic out of a realization now by MPs that their antics offend the public.
The only chance for reform in the current Hill context would be a joint statement by the party leaders and their House leaders that their caucuses have agreed the Speaker must henceforth enforce the rules of the House of Commons on oral questions without favor to any MP. For an idea of what this would mean, here are a few clauses in the present rules which are almost never enforced.
“A question should pose a question, be brief, seek information, address itself to an important matter of some urgency . . . it should not be a statement, a representation, an argument or an expression of opinion, be hypothetical, seek an opinion . . . suggest the answer . . . or have been previously answered.”

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, July 24, 1991
ID: 12229794
TAG: 199107240049
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11


“Is there any institution in Canadian public life more hateful and dispiriting than question period?” Robert Fulford stated recently, prompted in part by the disgust for this proceeding expressed by Keith Spicer’s Citizen’s Forum on Canada’s future.
As someone “brassed” for many years at the charade of QP, I agree with Fulford. Only first ministers’ conferences are as hateful – and these are occasional, not regular. It is encouraging to find others beyond Parliament Hill see question period as a repetitive display of disgraceful, petty behavior.
If enough people will agree, repeatedly and publicly, we might get question period much altered or, even better, abolished. Anyway, for the first time in my memory I sense our MPs are now chary of one of their prime cliches. This asserts that question period is uniquely Canadian as it has matured, becoming the finest, quintessential hour in politics, a guarantee the government shall be held to account.
In recent days, separately, two MPs with well over a dozen years in the House of Commons, one now in the government, the other in opposition, have told me of their disgust with question period, not least because the oral questions to ministers and their responses make so much rancorous grist for TV news.
Their animosity was so high that I inquired of each whether: a) he had been suddenly influenced by the bald critique of QP in Spicer’s inquiry; or b) was he relatively alone in this or was his view representative of an opinion widely held in his party’s caucus?
Their answers in each case were brief: No! Long before Spicer, each had cooled on the initial excitement which the QP does raise in new MPs; and each was sure that most, though unfortunately not all, his caucus colleagues think the QP is a sham, a travesty on fair questions with good answers.
The MP on the government side said he had long ago given up trying to place a question. First, it was hard to get “on,”; second, you were made to look like a sycophant by the jeers if your question was straight and the answer informative; third, if you asked a question implying criticism of a minister or his department’s performance you got your colleagues’ backs up and a run as a maverick whom reporters love to use as witness to a screw-up or a government in trouble. Years ago he had concluded the only common sense in a question for him was if it were on a matter of great import in his riding or region that no one in opposition had raised or would raise.
“The best I hope for from QP,” he said, “is that those ministers engaged don’t make fools of themselves or lose their cool, although I admit there are times of quiet relish when one of the `donkeys’ we have at the front proves it.”
This Tory MP applauds the try which his House leader, Harvie Andre, has under way to reform QP, but he cannot see how the opposition will ever surrender much of the enormous advantage the institution gives them in regular and certain disparagement of a prime minister and the government.
“At times,” he said, “I sense the Liberals would like to co-operate in reducing the hippodrome in it. They look forward to power again and know what a beast this is. But the NDP would have fits at any reform and hive the Liberals if they should co-operate. The tilt’s so one-sided that I’m sure that when and if we are translated into an opposition party we will create the same daily diet of charges and distortions.”
The opposition MP was amused that I thought him unusual and rather daring to express such views on QP, even with anonymity. He says the disenchantment with QP in the opposition is something reporters should have ferreted out about this bitter Parliament. An internal explosion is likely this fall. It will draw force from disgruntled MPs of all parties who have had it with the overplay on leaders and the hyperbolic antics of a few MPs like Sheila Copps, Brian Tobin, Steven Langdon and Svend Robinson.
“Something a lot of us have come to see,” he said, “is the illusion QP creates and sustains of an active and achieving opposition. That’s a joke. The mandarins must chuckle at our wind and fury. It signifies so little in the way of the government or in governing.”
“Yes, over the years QP wears away the credibility of the PM and the ministry. And it does satisfy a handful of tigers in the opposition. But QP disguises how little of account we really are as legislators and policy makers and critics of any account.”
I asked this veteran what consequences he foresaw for QP from the eruption of discontent which he heralds. And he hared far from the question.
He got on to getting the executive out of the House, of dividing the powers (a la the U.S.), of shifting media and public attention from QP. He predicts a drastic cut to the long hours spent in debate to which few MPs (or anyone else) pay attention, either as the speeches are made, or later in print.
But shift to what? To committees of MPs who have real power to produce policy and draft legislation and present it and spending programs to the executive and, where necessary, to override its veto.
He is right about the illusion and delusions which QP fosters but what he’s after means profound constitutional change, not merely ending the daily, adolescence in the House.
To be continued on Friday

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, July 21, 1991
ID: 12228876
TAG: 199107210176
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
COLUMN: In Ottawa


A phone call has me onto the responsibility of the media for the abysmal public worth of Brian Mulroney as prime minister and as a man.
A reporter with a major news group far from Ottawa phoned me as one of the most veteran members of the the parliamentary press gallery. His top boss had asked him to examine the growth of Mulroney’s vast unpopularity. He tipped the reporter that it may have a lot to do with “pack” journalism on Parliament Hill. Is there a group mindset of criticism and contempt for the highest office?
In hindsight, I regret my response. It was ambivalent: Yes . . . but no.
It’s true, I said, that a large part of the gallery, led by 10 or so TV crews, daily chases the top of politics. When possible this means the prime minister or his suite, including his wife.
It was also true that the minor fraction of gallery members for whom I have a reading are contemptuous of Mulroney both as a leader and a man, particularly, though not wholly, the younger ones.
As for partisanship in the Hill media, there is liberally minded support for the reigning do-goodedness on aborigines, refugees, gays and abused women and kids. This, rather than Tory, Grit, or NDP partisanship, although my guess is that more gallery members vote NDP than the very few who vote Tory.
I told the reporter I thought the more significant “fixes” to what the media gives to politics than any one or a dozen columnists and TV commentators are the instructions and themes given the Hill people by their bosses.
Although each medium – TV, radio and print, both newspapers and magazines – has particular imperatives, the chiefs who frame interpretation are those who run the big media outfits: CBC English, The Journal, TorStar, the Globe and Mail, Southam, the Suns, even Canadian Press. They “vet” the pattern and set the emphases – say that Mulroney is an untrustworthy, dangerous humbug – not their soldiers in the gallery.
Shortly after this wooly sizing up of the media and politics I got to read a recent piece by Marjory Nichols of the Ottawa Citizen. It has set some gallery people steaming.
Nichols makes the case that the public’s view of Mulroney is false, shaped by disrespectful reporters who treat him abominably.
“As a result,” wrote Nichols, “false and malicious rumors about Mulroney are indelible. Absolutely no one is willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.”
“Why?” asks Nichols. “I don’t know the answer,” she says, “but I suspect that Brian Mulroney’s perception problem has to do with the fact he’s a nice guy with egalitarian instincts. He has no pretensions and genuinely enjoys people . . . Reporters now make poisonous public remarks about Mulroney which should disqualify them as reliable and dispassionate purveyors of public information. The problem with the press pack is that they think they’re smarter than Mulroney.”
“A case can be made that Brian Mulroney suffers more than most from misinformation and malice aforethought.”
I have mailed Nichols’ column on the PM and the media to a Cobourg reader, John de Visser, who wrote me in a long rage at the “vicious, personal anti-Mulroney bent” in what he gets on radio and TV and in the papers. He thinks the attacks have gone outrageously far, and he’s not a devotee of the PM. He writes:
“The whole thing is sickening because it is not a one-time or occasional thing any more. No PM has ever been attacked more relentlessly, more viciously, more ignorantly. There has never been more `media.’ Never have there been more `ignorami’ filling positions on or in the media, all of it under the umbrella of freedom of speech. Nobody gives a damn about responsibility.
“I happen to believe,” writes de Visser, “this behavior is as much to blame for (Keith) Spicer’s `fury at the prime minister’ as anything else. Because it goes on relentlessly, because added to the 40% illiterates of Canada or the 50% who have never heard of Sir John A. or the 65% who, notwithstanding Clyde Wells, admitted they didn’t have a clue what Meech Lake was about, the media clones exploit their roles in the worst way . . . In that sense they are no less than terrorists.”
May Marjorie Nichols convince him there is at least one anti-terrorist.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, July 19, 1991
ID: 12228367
TAG: 199107190101
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11


Opinion polls show the prime minister is either more popular or less disliked in Quebec than elsewhere. He even has a margin there over Jean Chretien. Such backing sustains Brian Mulroney as he plans to build on such favor to retain office. While he does, he ought to weigh what this costs him and the Tory party beyond Quebec.
For example, consider these reactions taken from readers’ letters to just one simple act by Mulroney – the appointment of Marcel Masse as minister of defence.
George Fulton of Toronto closed his letter to me: “How many relatives did you lose in the war against fascism? I lost three. What did they die for?”
What brought him to what others may see as a melodramatic finale? Fulton enclosed a long extract from the June 4 Le Devoir of remarks by Marcel Masse on the 25th anniversary of his political career.
Fulton notes that “according to our minister of national defence, the British North America Act was the British Parliament’s `de jure’ recognition of `the inalienable rights of two distinct societies.’ He informs us that since 1966 he has been working for `the sovereignty of Quebec, within the Canadian framework.’ ”
Fulton underlines the clear reference Masse makes that “my patriotism has been taken from the school of Lionel Groulx.”
Groulx, a teacher and historian, was a major personality in Quebec before World War II. Just last week (July 13) the Montreal Gazette had a feature on a new study of Groulx which debunks the myth he invented the idea “of a racially pure, homogeneous French Canadian society” and indicates how dubious was his faith in democracy. In the story Claude Ryan, Premier Robert Bourassa’s No. 2, was asked about the fascist themes and the anti-Semitism in Groulx’s teachings. He replied that although there may be “a few passages one might regret this does not erase the fact that Groulx was the inspiration for the whole of modern Quebec.”
One may take Ryan’s comment as a reasonable explanation for Masse’s reverence for Groulx, but what’s understood and forgiven in Quebec isn’t always so in the rest of Canada.
Reader Fulton takes the contrary line: “You know what Mason Wade wrote about that monster. Whatever Groulx was at the time of his death in 1967, in the 1920s he was an international fascist, imparting ravings of Gobineau and Maurras to franco-Quebec sociopaths like himself.” (Wade was an eminent historian and analyst of Quebec. Gobineau and Maurras were virulent exponents of fascist ideas.)
Another reader, E.M.P. Estabrocke of Calgary, writes at length with great feeling on the significance, as he reads it, of Masse’s role as minister of defence: “Why would Mulroney put an individual whose Canadian dedication is suspect in charge of our armed forces? Masse has refused to say what his position is on Quebec’s separation, and whether he would stay with Canada or run back to his home province.”
Estabrocke refers to news stories on the immediate orders Masse gave on becoming defence minister that all (all!) communications with him or to him must be in French. He sketches a quarter-century’s efforts to bilingualize the armed forces, ensuring a high proportion of officers, especially senior officers, are francophones. He notes the large share Quebec has had in military bases and contracts for aircraft, ships and weapons. He raises the imperative that a nation’s armed forces must have a single loyalty.
“It seems obvious to me,” writes Estabrocke, “that the present turmoil in Canada is about power for Quebec and support for Mulroney’s continued existence in federal politics. He seems unprincipled enough to give the federal farm away to sustain his support from Quebec.”
Estabrocke canvasses the plans Ottawa should have ready in case Quebec’s decision by referendum is for `sovereignty association’ or outright separation. He envisages the need for decisions on ending contracts between Quebec and Canada, clear assignments of responsibilities for pensions, the future provenance of northerly lands now in Quebec but not in it originally, the sharing of the national debt and the matter of a common currency. He foresees anger and hostility on both sides, and he doubts, vis-a-vis Masse as minister of defence: “What do we have to enforce our Canadian decisions?”
Another reader, Dr. J.D. McIntosh of Thunder Bay, was a field officer in wartime and active in his region’s militia. I know him as one who behaves from a premise that a citizen must take an active interest in politics and government. He wrote to me of his sense of shame as a Canadian that the recent study of our military museums led by Hamilton Southam has revealed such gross neglect of this long strand in our national heritage. Then he got onto the matter of Quebec:
“I have given a lot of thought to the Quebec issue and feel strongly that if they want to go, let them go . . . We cannot afford them any longer nor the overwhelming influence they have in the cabinet and on the federal government. What a literally awful slap in the face to the armed forces by the prime minister – making Marcel Masse the minister of national defence.”
Whatever misreading of Marcel Masse and his role as head of the armed forces in such analysis one does get from such widely-separated opinion what Mulroney’s Quebec advantage loses him elsewhere.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, July 17, 1991
ID: 12227816
TAG: 199107170070
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11


The native scene in Canada is the only commonality in my two items. They are: 1) a successful hunger strike of 51 days by one Fortunato Pacios-Rivera in protest of his treatment by a band council in Northern Saskatchewan; 2) another reason to doubt that the Globe and Mail is the national newspaper.
In two previous columns I sketched why Pacios-Rivera, an able, professional forester, was on a hunger strike outside the offices of Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon. He was seeking an inquiry into dealings of the Meadow Lake Tribal Council which led to his loss of business and properties as a forestry consultant in Prince Albert.
For seven weeks Siddon or his aides insisted the case was for the courts through civil suits. Meantime, many foresters who know Pacios-Rivera’s work were writing, phoning and faxing Siddon and the PMO to hear the man’s pleas.
Something worked. Late last week Siddon called Pacios-Rivera in for a chat. While insisting the case was beyond his purview, Siddon was considerate, promised his staff would look at alternatives, and asked Pacios-Rivera to stop the strike. The latter chose to hunger on, but next day a magical metamorphosis! He was invited to deal with senior mandarins of Indian affairs, and in short order got what he sought, expressed thus in a letter to him from Harry Swain, Siddon’s deputy minister:
“We have entered into an agreement with David Webber and Dr. John Brennan to conduct a special examination of the funding arrangements between us and the Meadow Lake Tribal Council over the last decade. Subject to the provisions of the Privacy Act, results of this examination will be made public.”
Brennan is a well-known educator and the other inquirer, Webber, is a forensic accountant who helped investigate the facts which led to charges against John Munro, former Indian affairs minister, and a number of Saskatchewan chiefs. The pair has two months for the special examination. My hunch is much skulduggery will be exposed. In closing the topic, may I say I admire Siddon’s consideration for the striker and his initiative, taken against the grain of the advice he had.

I wrote recently of the Globe and Mail’s decline as I saw it as a long-time reader. Here is an example of what affronts me in the present editorial regime.
On July 12, John Haslett Cuff, the paper’s TV critic, had a long piece in praise of Eric Malling, host of CTV’s W5.
In a recent speech Malling spoke of the manipulation of TV news by sophisticated interest groups who tailor phrases, artifacts, displays, etc. to get their line or demands on TV news programs. Cuff quoted Malling:
“They’ve taken over much of the agenda. And what they offer is simplistic responses to complex problems, unbending dogma when tradeoff and compromise is needed more than ever.”
Cuff concluded: “What is wrong with TV news, which shapes much more than it merely reflects reality, has much to do with what is wrong with society in general, and we ignore Malling’s criticisms at our communal peril.”
Bully stuff that surprised me since Malling was also the critic who used a visit to the Osnaburgh Reserve to show the callowness of much reporting on Indians, including that by a zealot for righting native wrongs who works for the Globe.
Note well Cuff’s phrase “what is wrong with TV news . . . ” Not what is wrong with news, or newspaper news.
Ah, well. In that day’s Globe there was also a Page 4 news story from Cadotte Lake, Alta., headlined: “Cree band gets sad news on cash.” Its byline was John Goddard, Special to the Globe and Mail.
Goddard told how federal bureaucrats had flummoxed a new Indian band in a more critical corollary to a previous story of his in the July 8 Globe. It was significant enough to be the lead on Page 1; its heading was “Crees get $50 each to vote on pact.”
The theme unveiled in both dispatches from Goddard is of clever, perhaps shady, tactics by federal officials “designed to split the Lubicon Indian band, which the federal government had viewed as troublesome.” The new band, wrote Goddard, “is widely seen as an artificial creation of Indian affairs.”
Goddard quotes Lubicon Chief Bernard Ominayak: “It’s pitiful, Indian affairs ran everything. I think the federal government should be ashamed.”
Let us link the split of the Lubicons, Ominayak and Goddard to John Haslett Cuff in praise of Eric Malling’s critique of TV news.
First, note the Globe has several reporters based in Alberta. Perhaps they were vacationing so the home desk turned to Goddard, but a close reading makes me think Goddard was not assigned this matter or solicited on it. Rather, the stories came on his initiative as a partisan of the case – i.e., as one against the creation of a new band. Why do I think so? First, Goddard is a personal friend of Chief Ominayak, closely associated for many months. One fruit of this friendship is a new book by Goddard, The Last Stand of the Lubicon Cree (Douglas & McEntyre). To put it mildly, Ominayak is the book’s hero.
Would the Globe run a front page story from Hugh Segal on the Liberals in convention without noting he was a Tory?
Was Goddard a neutral in a reportorial sense? Objective, as befits the national newspaper?

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, July 12, 1991
ID: 12226414
TAG: 199107120078
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11


Many books with political themes come out for the Christmas trade but this spring new, fine books have been in plenty, especially from the most prolific publisher of serious books, The University of Toronto Press. What follows are my squibs for some recent books of worth, mostly from this publisher. The list is in order of my preferences which may well not be yours.
The D-Day Dodgers; The Canadians in Italy, 1943-1945, by Daniel G. Dancocks (McClelland & Stewart; 508 pages, illustrated, maps).
It’s very sad the brilliant, young author of this account of a much overlooked but costly endeavor would kill himself during his book tour in May. This is not the best campaign history of Canadians but it’s the most interesting. This is so, I think, because Dancocks is both candid and fair in giving the worth and the dross of our generals and our politicians. Even more I relished him on the top American and British leaders, on the varied calibre of Allied troops, the deficiencies in their guns and tanks, and on Churchill’s obsession with Germany’s “soft underbelly” that wasn’t. If you would know how hard our soldiers have had it, and persevered, try Dancock’s last book.
The Double Vision: Language and Meaning in Religion, by Northrop Frye. (University of Toronto Press; 88 pages, paperback).
Frye who was born in 1912 and died early this year, has been acclaimed as Canada’s contribution to world literary and religious criticism. This is his last book, one of his most straightforward and least erudite. It comprises several public lectures he gave last year, plus a final review chapter. Johann Aitken of Toronto has written a marvellous prelude in appreciation of Frye. Why have so many of Frye’s students thought him their link to genius? Take a long look at Double Vision.
The Bias of Communication, by Harold Innis; introduction by Paul Heyer and David Crowley. (University of Toronto Press; first published 1951, 226 pages, 1991 edition in paperback.)
Innis, born 1890, died 1952, was and still is our most distinguished economist-historian. Dead for over four decades his renown keeps extending as interpreter of why and how we are as we are. These essays (in The Bias) have long been seen as the core of his analysis of civilizations. Innis – and Marshall McLuhan was his disciple – came at civilizations and empires through the communications they used. In short, his insights are on adaption wrought by technological change, rather than by political leadership or advantages in weaponry.
The West Beyond the West; A History of British Columbia, by Jean Barman. (University of Toronto Press; 429 pages, photos, maps, tables.)
Like Dancocks, historian Barman has great craft in mastering detail and presenting it easily. There isn’t much competition but surely this is the best of all histories of a province. As one who has puzzled at B.C.’s often exotic politics and the ceaseless struggle which began in the colony before Confederation to keep the radicals and the Orientals down and then shaded into keeping the socialists out of office, Barman makes both matters engrossing and clear. A long chapter on B.C.’s Indians is a tour-de-force. She lets the variety of the tribes and the shrewdness of the natives show through a litany of misuse and angst.
Fool for Christ; The Political Thought of J.S. Woodsworth, by Allan Mills. (University of Toronto Press; 301 pages, photos, paperback.) Audrey McLaughlin, even Bob Rae, could profit from this closely-reasoned, thorough tracing of the ideas and acts of “a prophet in politics” as an earlier biographer, Ken McNaught, tagged the founding leader of the CCF (the NDP’s antecedent). Why would they profit? Even though Woodsworth was an MP in the far simpler times of the 1920s and 1930s his commitment and idealism remain a model. We see his modesty, the frugality, the open honesty and the reluctant but unashamed compromises an idealist has to make as a politician. Life’s underdogs were rarely out of his thoughts but he hated to waffle to them or claim moral superiority. Mills teaches political science at Manitoba and it shows that he’s worked on this book for many years.
Duff Pattullo of British Columbia, by Robin Fisher. (University of Toronto Press; 445 pages; photos.)
The story of Liberal Pattullo (Ontario-born in 1983, died in 1956) makes a good elaboration of one era in The West Beyond the West. He was sometimes wild, often woolly, and almost always an optimist for developing natural resources. As premier (1933-1941) he was the last of the substantial ones drawn from the old parties before the Grits and Tories faded in favor of Social Credit and the 20-year premiership of Wacky Bennett.
On a Hinge of History; The Mutual Vulnerability of South and North, by Ivan Head. (University of Toronto Press; 218 pages.) This is a very earnest, well-informed, cogently argued case for Canada taking a far greater lead in changing global politics from costly militarism to addressing far more thoroughly the deepening poverty in the economically and politically under-developed nations. Head was former international adviser to Pierre Trudeau and for long the chief of the International Development Research Centre. His chapter on the world’s refugees and migrants vis-a-vis Canada’s needs is excellent and rather scary.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, July 10, 1991
ID: 12225878
TAG: 199107100194
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11


We are not yet in the American way of rating each big decision by our highest court. In the U.S. such appraisal never ends. Is the court swinging left or right? For individual rights or group rights?
Of course, their courts have been judging rights for nearly two centuries; we’ve just taken to it since the enactment of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms a decade ago. But two solid decisions late last month by our top court have reassured some, and angered others. In one case, pleasing the left; in the other, affronting not so much the left but egalitarians; in both preferring collective imperatives to those of an individual citizen.
The decision which gave most witness of this rejected an action brought by an Ontario teacher. He is required by the terms of his job (at a community college) to pay dues to a union. He felt his Charter rights are breached because his union gives a part of his dues to the NDP, a party he himself would not support.
The other decision rejected an action by citizens of Saskatche- wan that was successful in a court there. The latter decided the Charter required equity between voters. That is, each voter should be of equal worth in each riding in any formal redistribution of ridings and reapportionment of riding populations.
If this decision in Regina had not been overturned by the Supreme Court the Saskatchewan legislature (and eventually all other legislatures and Parliament itself) would have had to redistribute so that each riding would have the same population. Such “rep by pop” with a vengeance would end the so-called anti-urban tilt that prevails in each province and federally.
The imbalance of a vote’s worth in favor of farm and hinterland folk varies but the spread may reach 25% up or down from an average taken by dividing the population of a province by the number of seats for a province.
The reason for redistributions are obvious: immigration, births, deaths, and internal migration, all lead to changes in population density – Toronto, Vancouver, etc. get more populous while relatively fewer and fewer people remain in the farm and bush regions of Ontario and B.C.
To appreciate the case for a recognized disbalance consider Ontario federally with its 99 MPs. The land north of the French River and Lake Nipissing in the province is nearly 10 times the area of southern Ontario. At present the big region has 10 MPs, the south 89. If Ontario ridings had been apportioned strictly rep by pop, northern Ontario would have had just five MPs, not 10. And the five would represent the same number of people as scores of city MPs, yet the latter may walk their riding’s boundaries in a morning where they would have to drive or fly for hours, even days, to reach their constituents.
At present, provincially (though far less federally) the Saskatchewan disbalance which led to the challenge using the Charter, favors the provincial Tories over the New Democrats (who are stronger in the cities). The NDP, however, has real strength in northern Manitoba and Ontario so it’s not rampant for total equality between voters. In fact, none of the federal parties is a stickler for equality. The arguments in favor of it are conjured mostly by big cities’ legalists, positing the democratic inequity of the disbalance and decrying negative consequences like politicians catering to boondocks’ interests – e.g., with farm marketing boards that maintain higher prices and gouge consumers.
The decision on the redistribution will not close the argument, and positively it will make both the politicians and those whom they choose to run redistribution commissions more aware that the range up and down must be closely observed.
Further, far more consideration may go to means and funds so those who represent huge areas may do it well and also have time to be legislators. (Yes, my view is tainted. I once represented 98,000 people in a riding of 148,000 square miles that reached from Hudson Bay to Michigan.)
The other decision which favored union allocation of dues to parties, so abetting the NDP, may stand firm for generations but don’t discount a relentless campaign to chip at it with many variants in the challenges. Data from Elections Canada last week is very galling to Grits and Tories, not only because it showed New Democrats raised several more million in 1990 than they did. The shock was that $9.2 million of the NDP’s $15.4 million (some 60%) came from 953 groups, almost all of them union centres or locals.
One must note in all fairness that the NDP still has the broadest base of individual givers. Some 116,448 put in some $6 million in 1990. The Liberals, for example, raised $1.4 million more than that but from only 36,351 individuals. And between them Grits and Tories got over $11 million in 1990 from businesses; the NDP only got $141,000.
In passing, the Reform Party showed surprising capacity and real grass roots. Newish and Western as it was, last year it took in over $2 million from 23,000 contributors and only $138,000 of it was from business.
It seems to me the Supreme Court’s composition now is not so much liberally-minded in the American sense as collectively-minded in the Canadian tradition, and often this will mean decisions that conserve what we have had. But as the Yanks know, composition changes.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, July 07, 1991
ID: 12225170
TAG: 199107070166
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
COLUMN: In Ottawa


A story in the latest issue of Frank magazine got me onto my unhappiness with a paper I have read daily since late 1945, The Globe and Mail.
Frank romps scornfully over the principal persons at the trial of the case, Stevens vs the Globe; that is, on one side with Geoffrey Stevens, once managing editor, and Norman Webster, once editor-in-chief and Roy Megarry, publisher, and the present editor-in-chief, William Thorsell, on the other. Stevens is suing, charging wrongful dismissal and seeking damages.
As the trial began I asked a wheelhorse at the Globe for the gist of the case. He said he couldn’t bear going over it all again.
So an unhappy scenario. Shortly I met one of the Globe’s top reporters, to my mind, one of the fairest in Canada. I knew he had worked closely with Chris Waddell, almost a legend on the Hill for ability, industry and reach of mind. The news was just in of Waddell jumping the Globe for a top post in CBC TV news.
Great for CBC . . . but how could the Globe keep losing quality like Waddell and Stevens and Webster or such as Tom Walkom and Linda McQuaig?
My Globe man was gloomy and bitter. He sketched a great enterprise gone awry, a collegial commitment now demoralized. Those left don’t know what can be done. Like Waddell, he must look to other chances.
What baffles the man with whom I spoke and flummoxes me is how the readers’ market for the Globe is touched, if at all, by the wrenching in approach, form, and content of the paper under Thorsell. We assume circulation is holding or rising; otherwise the Thomson owners would order Thorsell turfed. But who likes the new Globe? Maybe the gut reason for the paper’s circulation is the business section, largely unchanged. Maybe most buyers don’t care there is far less straight news (including sports) and that items are shorter.
News space goes now to potpourri! Nuggets of data and opinion, high-brow Reader’s Digest stuff, probably inspired by Harper’s under Lewis Lapham. Thorsell does do a weekly imitation of the cerebral certainty one gets from Lapham. An address Thorsell gave recently at Western detailed that the new Globe is the long-awaited answer to what TV has done to news and to the time readers have for it; that, and to meet Megarry’s theme that its circulation’s quality which counts. A broad readership is a waste. What’s relevant is who reads a paper. The new Globe is targetted to our upward mobile amd intellectual elite.
Beyond my plaints as a reader, the Globe merits broad attention because of the claims built up that it is The National Newspaper (at least in English). The claim as an aim was fine, and the Globe for the past dozen years or so has been the paper most read across Canada by politicians and their bureaucrats (federal and provincial), by academics, other journalists, and senior businessmen, in part because Megarry made it available from Victoria to Halifax.
The Globe’s letters-to-the editor stays familiar; the editorials continue right-of-centre though more obviously clever; and able columnists Robert Sheppard and Jeff Simpson roll on. Otherwise, the front half of the Globe as I read it has become preciously brainy and superior, preening on lay-out.
In Webster’s years some readers grumbled at left-wing advocacy by reporters. Now the bent is less social democratic and more fey. Lots on downtrodden natives, abused women, ignored artists, and ravaged forests, and an aggressive homophilia has a sanction. The sport section is so gobbetized its two pages would be better used for more and longer, stock news stories.
The move by the Toronto Star into global coverage with quality writers like Stephen Handelman and Richard Gwyn underlines the slide in the Globe edge abroad. The Globe’s ambassadors seems more anti-American than Canadian in outlook. An insider explained the slide as all Thorsell’s. His picks have been curious.
It may be that the Globe had a golden age we didn’t really recognize. Whatever it was, it’s gone.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, July 05, 1991
ID: 12224491
TAG: 199107050168
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11


Mr. Pacios-Rivera has ignored my advice. He continues his hunger strike in Ottawa. He began it on May 22. He’s almost skeletal now but he insists (and I believe him) it’s to the death. Either that or the federal government undertakes a public inquiry into the forestry and lumbering ventures of the Meadow Lake Tribal Council (in Saskatchewan) which ruined his reputation as a forester and cost him properties and fees worth over a million.
Two weeks ago I sketched Pacios-Rivera’s dilemma, concluding he should give up. A lone, white man, stripped of his resources, he hasn’t a chance against some organized Indians who’ve been getting millions from many federal programs. The Ottawa politicians and mandarins of today are scared stiff of the natives. Ottawa still shivers over Oka and dreads the storm building over the land of the James Bay Crees. So they ignore Pacios-Rivera’s plea. They say his is a mere civil law case.
My column on the man’s plight was read by a lot of Mulroney’s ministers. Many letters on the case from notable world foresters have come to Mulroney. These may explain why officials well down from Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon have tried two different gambits with Pacios-Rivera.
First, it was a promise the tribal council would drop a harassing civil action against him. (This, though Siddon’s office says Pacio-Rivera’s case is absolutely one for the civil courts.)
And this week came an offer of a private audit by an outside accountant into an alleged educational fund boondoggle, part of his plea for a full inquiry into the Meadow Lake crew’s enterprises. Pacio-Rivera rejected each proposition. Neither gets at the immense damages to him or wrong-doing with public monies, seemingly condoned by Indian Affairs mandarins.
It may take Pacios-Rivera’s death before Ottawa digs into this ruination of a decent man and an exceptional career while officials dodged and politicians looked the other way.

Let’s stay with Indian Affairs, in substance, with one of the ablest, white advocates Indians have.
Boyce Richardson wrote the classic account of James Bay power in Strangers Devour the Land (1976, Knopf).
His book is indispensable, especially in a new edition issued by Douglas & McIntyre, for understanding the figurative Oka of 1991 – i.e., the Cree resistance to Premier Bourassa’s James Bay II and III, his latest, gargantuan hydro-power projects.
Strangers Devour the Land tells why and how the mighty La Grande project (James Bay I) came into being with such a flourish of Quebecois pride. Richardson writes beautifully on the folk who people the vast hinterland between James Bay and Labrador, living on fish, game and the taking of furs in a pattern of sharing that is truly extraordinary. He recounts how a scatter of younger Crees, led by Billy Diamond, emerged in the early ’70s to defend Cree interests and force compromises on Quebec. Agreements were reached; undertakings were accepted on the one side, and guaranteed on the other.
No journalist I know has a more reasoned awareness of native affairs than Richardson. Long ago he transplanted here from New Zealand, and since leaving the Montreal Star two decades ago to freelance as writer and film-maker, he’s been close to the rising interplay of Indians, Metis, and Inuit in our politics. This spring he’s visited Indian bands from coast to coast. And he’s written a fresh, fascinating epilogue for the new edition of Strangers.
Richardson is measured in his advocacy of the Crees’ rights. His heart has not suborned his head in weighing either rights and wrongs or common sense and sheer bull. Last week he appraised for me the replay of the Crees of James Bay against the Quebec government and the federal government rising from the two latest hydro schemes of Bourassa.
Cruel history makes Richardson chary of the chances a simple people have who are far from the centres of power, against those who man those centres or who bid those who do. The record’s grim. But this time the Crees could win; they may well stop both projects; certainly the more southerly is so hare-brained it must be stopped.
This time the Crees have many more allies, notably in New England. These are not romantic environmentalists but groups of like-minded people with argumentative expertise and capability at research, brief-making, and cross-examination. They insist there must be no more long-term contracts with Quebec for power. They work back from their market (which Bourassa must have) to the means he must have – the flooding of huge areas of lands used by the Crees.
Richardson thinks Canadian opinion may get far more roused than in the ’70s. It may not let the Mulroney government dodge its own environmental rules. Many ill consequences of James Bay I are apparent and both the Bourassa government and its PQ predecessor have a tawdry record of not meeting past agreements.
Official Quebec thinks the federal government, the trustees for the Crees, again will be supine; as for the Crees, that a billion or two will bring them round to a deal. Maybe, Richardson says, but not without a long, heated confrontation. This time TV will bring all North America the story of Cree tenacity to their ways and an enduring attachment to the land against distant bombast and megabucks.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, July 03, 1991
ID: 12686870
TAG: 199107030163
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11


For useful reading on July 4th, American Independence Day, try a new paperback by Allan Gotlieb. Its odd title is: I’ll be with you in a minute, Mr. Ambassador.
This was the line Gotlieb got from busy U.S. senators and congressmen as he lobbied them in their offices during his term from 1981 to 1989 as our representative in Washington. The line symbolized their frantic rush. The book’s sub-title is a fairer abstract of the content: “The Education of a Canadian Diplomat in Washington.”
I wonder if other Canadian ambassadors to the U.S. or any of our few academics who study our diplomacy will find Gotlieb has overdone his top theme? It is that traditional dealings with the U.S. through an embassy intent on the state department have been out of date for many years. And so Gotlieb justifies the entertaining and high profiles of the Gotliebs in the U.S.
Before Gotlieb’s term in Washington, our men and women there concentrated (as was diplomatically the proper thing) on dealing with the executive branch (i.e., with the department of the secretary of state); they largely ignored Congress because to work openly there had been construed for decades as messing into U.S. domestic politics.
Gotlieb says that even much study of American history had not readied him for the swing that has taken some of the power exercised by the presidency towards Congress. This makes senators and congressmen, notably those who chair or dominate major committees or sub-committees, important and often fatally negative towards Canadian interests. Gotlieb found a single senator could negate a major agreement agreed upon by Ottawa and the U.S. executive.
My wonder is at the belated simplicity of such a discovery by a high-flying mandarin like Gotlieb. I recall several chats with Richard O’Hagan when he was Canada’s director of information in the U.S. from 1966 to 1975. O’Hagan made the point, with examples, that the embassy staff, including the commercial and trade people, was increasingly putting far more time and energy into Congress (though still far from enough). It was just six years from O’Hagan’s recall to refurbish Trudeau’s domestic reputation and Gotlieb’s advent in Washington.
Further, Gotlieb as a diplomat, indeed as a historian of diplomacy, in delineating the White House as more the political power centre than Congress, must have seen that even Franklin Roosevelt and the strong-willed Harry Truman often set their sails to allow for congressional winds of gale force.
As author, Gotlieb is direct, very first-person, and almost objectionably confident. Through his closely-argued text run scores of examples of our manifold interests being queried or attacked by congressional forces or by U.S. officials in departments or agencies who anticipate or respond to congressional grievances.
On the clearly executive swing of Washington’s swirl, Gotlieb is frank that being our ambassador was easier and more positive with Mulroney as prime minister and much-liked by President Reagan, than when Trudeau was Canada’s leader and unpopular at both the White House and on Capitol Hill. While he neither compares nor contrasts Trudeau and Mulroney directly, my sense of this matching for him is that Mulroney was more in tune in both policy outlook and personality vis-a-vis the United States.
The most telling of all the case histories which Gotlieb sketches are about conflicts over fishing rights, exporting farm products, and in particular, the adamant refusal of Reagan to move our way on programs for acid rain abatement. Much pressure by the embassy and by Mulroney did ratchet the acid rain issue upwards, but the breakthrough agreement had to wait until George Bush succeeded Reagan.
The cumulative effect of Gotlieb’s story of Washington today is to realize how damnably intertwined we are with the Americans. We need their political good will. It is hard to get and harder to keep their attention, let alone be sure of a favorable outcome. Further, no issue ever can be signed off as done. “The basic element of political life, then, is the impermanence of the current rules.” And equal to this are the facts that the rules, when changed, are seen as “good” and have no real, ultimate arbiter, except the media.
Staid Canadians who gagged at the flashier antics of the Gotliebs, in particular of Sondra as hostess and columnist, will find her husband credits much of that to his success, notably in gaining him access to the big leagues where lobbying may work. He writes that “the best and often the only way to gain access to all the key players is through the social route . . . if I had any success in Washington the social route paved the way.” And this route to both the White House and the top senators came largely through “the personal relationships” which Sondra established and which made them as a couple “the” ambassadorial talk of the town. On this he has no regrets, nor on his direct hiring of American publicists and lawyers for Canadian causes. In closing, he insists we must keep our interchanges with the U.S. flexible. Again he stresses that the lessons he learned show nothing is constant, and although almost everything is open it is almost always complicated and shifting.
If Gotlieb points to anything beyond intense, eternal lobbying it is that Canada should seek more formal agreements and treaties with the U.S.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, June 30, 1991
ID: 12686583
TAG: 199106300143
SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle
COLUMN: In Ottawa


It may disturb you if you think about some matters the Spicer crew missed.
Yes, the Citizen’s Forum on Canada’s future did what it was asked. It heard from thousands on what they felt about our constitutional crisis, and it synthesized it with some suggestions on what ought to be done.
My mail as a columnist squares with what the inquiry heard: The hate for Brian Mulroney, the antagonism to both official bilingualism and multiculturalism, and to a “spoiled” Quebec. And the inquiry got the demand for an open system of politics in which they can readily and continually have a role.
The parliamentary system of government we have through British antecedents is very different from the congressional system which the Americans have. There’s far more secrecy, so much done behind closed doors, even in opposition parties.
Cabinet is secretive, so are caucuses, even House committees are often “in camera.” Party discipline is strict. Absolute loyalty to leader is the party line.
The reign in our system of iron, party discipline infuriates so many. At the forums, ordinary Canadians demanded our politics be opened up. They wanted “free votes” and unparliamentary (but congressional) stuff like an impeachment process and wide use of referenda.
Overwhelmingly, the people told the inquiry they want an elected Senate, but oddly in neither the forums nor in the inquiry’s suggestions was this carried to the rational end of “going congressional” even though the Yanks have this marvel for Albertans, a “Triple E” Senate.
A deliberate turn to a congressional system has had particular merit since Pierre Trudeau led Canada to accept, and most Canadians to cherish, an intrinsic of the U.S. Constitution – the Charter of Rights. This conferred on our Supreme Court justices the ultimate power of negating and, to a degree, counselling what elected politicians may legislate . . . unless the infamous “notwithstanding” clause is invoked. (This is the clause the rest of Canada hates but many Quebecers see as a vital, last defence against federal interference.)
The failure to consider the obvious utility of the congressional system and its open, brokerage political practices for our federated country is really because it is such a fundamental change. But the prevalence created by our constitutional setup of secrecy, the phony anonymity of bureaucrats, the supineness of partisans to their leader and party, and the widespread conviction our system is far too elitist, tells me Canadians want what a congressional system provides.
Yet the Spicer report skips by the exemplar of our great neighbor. Its mere page and a half on the U.S. is given to fears of the free trade agreement, heard most in Ontario.
The failure to touch on the American model is more understandable than another deliberate hesitation of the inquiry.
Although the report sketches the dire economic and organizational weaknesses of a Quebec departure it stays far from the ultimate and nastiest matter. Granted it’s one all politicians but Jacques Parizeau and Preston Manning duck. Why? Fear of the bitter prospect!
How shall separation be done? A unilateral declaration of independence? Or by negotiations to a treaty?
In particular, who gets what? Most of all, in territory? How to split assets, liabilities, the military and its establishment?
Consider the deep anger the inquiry found in “the rest of Canada,” so much of it against Quebec as “a distinct society.” Then ask: What flows from such fury if Quebec chooses to go?
Take just one matter the report harped on: The popularity of solving native demands for lands and self-government. Ottawa is still trustee for the aboriginal people of Quebec and their massive, traditional lands in the north. Does Canada without Quebec let this trusteeship lapse or reoccupy this huge region it delegated to the province 80 years ago in favor of a Quebec republic?
If we do not soon get to these basics of separation all of us, including Quebecers, miss the starkest, cogent reasons for not separating.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, June 28, 1991
ID: 12686354
TAG: 199106280160
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11


It is not as bad as many feared. It is readable; it sets you thinking; its “findings and suggestions” may often seem somewhat vague and pious but they are not pretentious. Surely Joe Clark and his chief got what they sought from Keith Spicer and his “forum.”
And what did they want? First, a long episode diverting demands for instant action by the government; second, a filling of the public’s interest with lots of ink in column inches and videoclips galore on TV; third, a heightened public awareness that this is a genuine, four star crisis.
The most telling discovery of the inquiry was hardly surprising, despite a tacit coverup by almost all the politicians and each of the parties (until the Reform Party came along). Of course, the reference is to the inquiry’s finding bilingualism as a national policy is most unpopular, and the suggestion it be cranked down.
Since its inception 25 years ago official bilingualism has aggravated a majority of Canadians, without becoming treasured by Quebecers. One couldn’t say this or write this in English, without being classed as racist-bigot, as Jock Andrew and the late Russ Doern found, although their books attacking bilingualism became “underground” best-sellers.
Keith Spicer must have been a showboat before 1970 when, at 36, he was made the first commissioner of official languages. It was a daring appointment by Pierre Trudeau. Despite Spicer’s fine academic resume and an adroitness in speech and writing in both languages, he was young for something so serious, and for someone who had won the tag “flaky” in his flower child period. The next two who filled the language post, Max Yalden and D’Iberville Fortier, were far graver, less cheeky, and got far less attention.
In the language role, and in later ones as a Dale Carnegie-type entrepreneur, editor and, most recently, as broadcasting’s czar, Spicer has been a high profile exhibitionist among public figures. One has to conjure Stephen Lewis and Simon Reisman, or Bernard Ostry and Allan Gotlieb, for comparable characters who, given chances by appointment, revealed glibness and headlines far beyond our staid norm.
The Tories knew that the whole citizen’s forum gambit, its leader and the group, would be a running extravaganza, a target not so much of politicians, but of the media. And it was.
One can see Brian Mulroney late last summer, doing just what he did as the years rolled on the Meech Lake agreement. Count forward, then plan back!
The PM could see the crunch date as late 1992 with a Quebec referendum on sovereignty. So he had two years and confusion was rampant, volatility real. More shifts were likely in a now dithery crew of premiers. An emotional bonding of Quebecers was underway, the Bourassa government had committed itself to both a comprehensive study of constitutional needs by a large group, and a more specific report was coming from the provincial Liberal party itself.
Almost as worrisome as Quebec, Elijah Harper and Clyde Wells were heroic symbols for plain people in the rest of Canada.< Luckily, the PM had time. He didn't have to call an election before the spring of 1993 so long as he kept his House majority.< Spicer and gang seemed the right interlude for the government. It would do Canada in popular style. Because there was so much that was ridiculous in both Chairman Spicer and town meetings, ad infinitum-ad nauseam, Mulroney gave a parliamentary committee (Beaudoin-Edwards) the arcane chore of studying and reporting on better choices in the amending formula for the Constitution. And recently as the fruits of each were due, Mulroney bounced the matter further ahead to the September. Until then, his Clark-led cabinet group will produce a draft package with some choices to take to Canada this fall. After more hearings by this group the government by late winter, 1992, will finalize the propositions to take to Quebec.< Thus Spicer et al have helped give Mulroney a full year before he must begin resurrecting openly something not far from the Meech Lake accord. The truly grand committee for the fall-winter season buys Mulroney another five or six months to work on the rest of Canada. It gives him more bargaining time with Bourassa for the spring of 1992, even a chance to get the premier to another first ministers' table for another accord.< There are minuses for the PM in the Spicer report, beyond the chief commissioners' underlined emphasis on the fury of the people with Mulroney. It reverberates approval for the NDP's top line on the crisis -- i.e., for some sort of constituent assembly, late as it is. It stresses that the final constitutional draft must have such popular analysis and approval to be accepted. This makes for a remembrance of Spicer to haunt all the politicians because most of them are scared stiff of constituent assemblies.< There's much guff in the report about the failures of leaders and governments in informing people on the scope, complexities, and dangers in our present constitutional dilemma. What chilled me in this particular exhorting to educate and convince, was the failure to mention the political parties and their roles.< In short, the inquiry didn't find, as it should have, that our political parties have failed and are shams, useless on something so ``gut'' as constitution-making. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Wednesday, June 26, 1991 ID: 12686061 TAG: 199106260148 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER TOUGH TO REFORM QUESTION PERIOD As the MPs hared away from the Hill on a summer break until Sept. 16, the Hill Times which says it is ``Ottawa's Parliamentary Newspaper'' had a lead story, ``Radical Question Period Changes,'' sub-titled ``New Committee's report could signal the end of QP as we know it.'' Probably I was not alone in at first reacting, how wonderful! And then, how hopeless. Why so? Well, question period (QP) is charade time in politics, or as John Turner put it crudely after he returned to the House after his Bay Street exile: ``All BS!'' It's clear that when the House is sitting, QP provides many items for TV newscasts. Such items seem slices of partisan reality in an always running political soap opera. It's easier to tell the story of how question period became the charade it is than to explain why radical changes in it are unlikely. It's just too advantageous for both opposition parties and the TV system we have. The radical changes the Tories are contemplating would extend QP beyond 45 minutes, set a 30-second time limit on the placing of a question, circumscribe attempts at lengthy responses, break down much of pre-arranged splitting of the time and the allocations of questions between and within the opposition parties, and bulwark the rule now largely ignored that there must not be repetitious questioning. The changes would shake up much of the focusing on targets prepared by caucus officers in favor of occasionally random or ``off the wall'' questions from many more MPS. There would be a less scripted QP with the floor often going even to those who back the government. Why the changes? The lead argument flows from how MPs, especially but not exclusively, government MPs, explain the poll-proven disgust which Canadians have for them and their behavior on Parliament Hill. They see that much of public's contempt has been earned by their own antics as seen, mostly through TV news. Few extracts of remarks during legislative debates in the House ever reach TV news; therefore, it is the House in QP that reaches people. The House is question period. And so has come the move to reform QP, give it more variety, more questioners, more answers. Regain some modicum of decorum and decency of politicians toward each other. Display less nastiness. It is easier to accept that citizens have never been more sour about their MPs than to expect common cause among the MPs for real change of QP. But few of the public care about how question period in the House of Commons became so stylized in displaying crude adversarialism. And few are demanding it be reformed. Willy-nilly, Canada has a penetrative broadcasting system. Every day, 24 hours a day, now on TV as well as radio, the system purveys news and commentary. We know from surveys the ratio of listeners and viewers in Canada is high - it's most of us! And we know the bulk of the news and commentary is political, and even more that in both primacy and quantity the ``federal'' component is consistently high. Some of my press colleagues argue that QP in the House has always been a stagey affair. My experience doesn't deny this but I make two points. First, before the House was televised there was far less of long declamatory prefaces to questions on the stupidity or dishonesty of the prime minister or a minister or the government as a whole; and the most vivid and harshest of phrases in the prefaces have become the favorite video picks of TV news editors. Second, almost concurrent with the televising of the House, perhaps in response to its effect, the Speaker of the House began to allow more and more extravagance in questions from the opposition. This relaxation in the chair reached its apogee in the early Mulroney years with the dithery John Bosley but his successor, John Fraser, has only trimmed the most excessive of the hyperbole. Out of question period as now stylized, a roster of prominent opposition gladiators has emerged. TV news junkies know these chronic slanderers well - MPs like Sheila Copps, Brian Tobin, John Nunziata, Lloyd Axworthy, Svend Robinson, Nelson Riis and Dawn Black. Such MPs have become models who have made a brief, direct question a QP anomaly. Some time by the 1950s, and thus well before either the televising of the House in 1979 or the pervasive writ which TV news has gained, it was practice for MPs who were in Ottawa (and this was usually the great majority) to be in in their assigned seats when the Speaker called ``orders of the day.'' This hour became and is the recurring occasion of our politics. Our polity is present - by leader, by argument and by issue; in particular, by the prime minister with cabinet and backbench, arrayed against the opposition leaders and their followers. A fair characterization of this daily 45 minutes is that it's juvenile, shallow and repetitious. Sensitive moments are rare; analysis is almost always primitive, never profound. The tone is rancorous; on the one side accusatory, on the other, evasive and denying, often with counter-charges. Above, all QP as is, is to the marked advantage of the opposition parties. Why would they ever agree to its radical change? And if the government dares to vote such changes into the rule book, the opposition would simply make question period even noisier and more tawdry than it is. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Sunday, June 23, 1991 ID: 12685642 TAG: 199106230137 EDITION: Final SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle PAGE: C5 ILLUSTRATION: drawing of OVIDE MERCREDI COLUMN: Backgrounder SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER HAIL TO THE CHIEF//THE NEW LEADER OF THE FIRST NATIONS HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BE NOT JUST A NATIVE MESSIAH, BUT THE SAVIOR OF CANADA A fortnight ago it was certain that whether it was to be Phil Fontaine or Ovide Mercredi or one of the other four aspirants who would win the leadership of the Assembly of First Nations, the man who followed Georges Erasmus would be even more a national figure and a more often witnessed actor in our national scenario, particularly as in our TV news. There's this can be said thus far about Mercredi: He hasn't let much hang out. However, his readiness this week to deal with Joe Clark as manager of the constitutional file suggests he may be less rancorous and adversarial than we have come to expect from the big chiefs. When Mercredi came out of the pack to win command of the first nations, rather as Joe Clark did at the Tory convention in 1975, there was an instant demand for sketches of the man and his worth. What's his nature, his character, his abilities? Is he a radical, a rouser or a dealer? Literally, not a journalist in Canada - white or red - knows Mercredi well or can even make a knowledgeable appraisal of his career. He seems to have been a very private man. He is more careful in utterance than his most recent predecessors. He may be sage and soon show it, or he may remain rather inscrutable and never predictable. My hunch is that he is tough, will not rattle easily and will emerge as a firm, assured negotiator. HUMBLE BEGINNINGS One has to estimate Mercredi from the figurative Marco Polo-like distance he's traversed from a childhood on a trap-line in the deep bush of northern Manitoba to a higher education, an expertise as a constitutional lawyer (rather like Pierre Trudeau's) and to a bureaucratic slot in the federal government and then to a leading role in the Indian movement. In the scanty evidence I have from committee hearings and remarks at a few conferences, Mercredi does not fall easily into the passionate rhetoric of blame and exaggeration which characterizes and caricatures native leaders like Erasmus and Bill Wilson. This may have been that Mercredi, as a fairly recent luminary in the Manitoba Indian scene, was overshadowed by the more mercurial, articulate Phil Fontaine. The latter is also of a much larger, well-established band (Fort Alexander) than Mercredi and has also had a far bigger net of relatives who have been prominent in native politics. This aspect about Fontaine vis-a-vis Mercredi is worth underlining because Indians have long memories and their rivalries can be vicious. More than anyone else, Mercredi knows Fontaine is behind him, in more than one sense of that phrase, perhaps as Jean Chretien is to John Turner. This is likely if affairs develop badly in relation to the vital parliamentary committee on the Constitution which begins to roll in September or in the part which Mercredi chooses for the first nations with the royal commission on aboriginal affairs that former Chief Justice Brian Dickson is soon to give the PM for unveiling. AN INDIAN JOSHUA It's far too early to declare it, but Mercredi as grand chief may be the requisite Indian messiah. Certainly, he has the classic, physical looks and public mien of the North American Indian. In terms of the Old Testament story, if the previous grand chiefs of the assembly and its predecessor organization, the National Indian Brotherhood, such as Dave Ahenikew and Erasmus have played Moses, bringing the scattered tribes together and to the rim of the figurative Promised Land, Ovide Mercredi could be the Joshua who blows down the walls of the Ottawa Jericho so his tribes may take and exercise their heritage. In concrete terms, this means: 1) An entry to, and assumption of, a status with respect to the both federal government and the provincial governments which recognizes a place and a permanent role in the Constitution for the so-called aboriginal people and their self-government; 2) An erasure of the federal Indian Act, ending its long rule; 3) An accepted frame and process for territorial matters and whether the settlement of the many land claims of tribes and the bands shall be be largely worked out politically in dealings between tribal councils and bands with the federal and a provincial government (as seems incipient in Ontario through the push of Premier Bob Rae) or through cases put before and decided by the high courts. On this last, most significant, issue of land, Mercredi has been forthright. He responded to the decision in March by Alan McEachern, the chief justice of British Columbia, against the large land claim of the Gitskan Indians this way: ``This decision is so demeaning it is breathtaking. It says that the thousands of years of occupancy and the creation of political systems by the Gitskan Wet'suwet'en people have no meaning.'' But he then did not demand the settlements be done politically. Lawyer-like, he demanded a quick reference to the Supreme Court of Canada for a magisterial ruling that would establish broadly the overall rights of Indians across Canada to their ancestral territories. Whatever Mercredi does or is able to do with the first nations (and they are restive and never have cohered for long in unity or strategies) he knows, just as more and more Canadians should be coming to accept, that his issues and his aims go forward almost in tandem and are likely to be subsumed in an even more critical dilemma. Mercredi and the assembly, and to a lesser degree the not so influential Native Council of Canada which represents non-status Indians and Metis, are on the constitutional stage and players in the very uncertain drama of whether Quebec goes or stays. And it was an instrument guided by Mercredi, Elijah Harper, who more than anyone else except Clyde Wells or Pierre Trudeau created the crisis which killed the Meech Lake accord and began the countdown to a new deal for Quebec by the end of 1992 - or else. It is unlikely that a benign solution to the Quebec crisis will have the time or find the capacity among the political players to dispose with any fullness, particularly in definition, of the three prime aims of Chief Mercredi. To repeat, these are: Constitutional recognition of aboriginal self-government; an end to the federal Indian Act; and a clear, sure process of land settlements. We should also be aware that if the solution is not benign, if Quebec feels it must go, then Mercredi and the first nations are even more intrinsic to it all than is the case before Quebec makes such a choice. QUEBEC UP FOR GRABS Obviously, if Canada is divisible, then so is Quebec. When early this century the federal Crown made grants of large blocs of its territories to Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, the agreements specified the federal government held in trust its practised and traditional responsibilities for native peoples in those territories now part of the provinces. That is, in terms of what Quebecers now consider their nation, the federal government has a unique interest in almost half the hectares of the province in some 55,000 natives, almost half of whom live in those particular hectares and in most of them, outnumber the Quebecois. Do you see where Ovide Mercredi as grand chief becomes intrinsic to a Quebec secession? If secession is by unilateral declaration, ignoring any constitutional procedures, does the federal government just forget its ``trust'' for natives and lands in Quebec? Bet that it cannot. Bet that Mercredi will be in the van, demanding Quebec goes without its northern half in territory. And if Quebec chooses to negotiate separation in good faith, a remarkably complex and tortuous kind of treaty-making must follow in which a prime consideration would have to be the aboriginal people in Quebec and their lands. What a great, scary constitutional drama! It's hard for both Quebecers and the rest of us to grasp what a huge initiative the natives have gained in the two decades since the collapse of paternalistic, assimilate-the-Indians policies which culminated in Trudeau's ``bronze'' paper proposals of 1969. These were soon withdrawn after vehement rejection by the Indians. Since then, we, whether of Quebec or beyond it, have given way without demanding from the native leaders what is implicit in their self-government and their rights to the lands of Canada as presently held. DREAMS OF NATIONHOOD It seems clear that it will be from Ovide Mercredi and his cadre in the Assembly of First Nations that we shall learn through both the constitutional process and the royal commission how their half-million people, linked to some 603 bands across Canada and with half of them resident in cities away from their reserves, are to govern themselves. There's never been anything in the world's history like these dreams of nationhood. It's clearly to be far more than a web of municipal-like governments. While a nexus to lands is certain - indeed, to many large blocs of land - will aboriginal governance be by a separate federation? Would such be an independent parallel federation to what the rest of us have? Or shall native representatives have some permanent seats in our legislatures and posts in our cabinets? Will there be a clear distinction between Canadian and aboriginal citizenship? And if so, as seems certain, is that from generation to generation in perpetuity? These questions suggest what awesomely difficult matters must be worked through. My point of closing with them is not to load them on the new grand chief of the Assembly of First Nations. Willy-nilly, however, from Ovide Mercredi or through him, must soon come most of the answers. He's doubly earned his mission, first in guiding Elijah Harper to the ruin of the the Meech Lake deal with Quebec, second, in bonding the chiefs behind him in a tough leadership victory. It's at least possible that four or five years from now we will see him as a savior of a country with a fresh start. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Friday, June 21, 1991 ID: 12685421 TAG: 199106210189 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER HUNGER STRIKER A DESPERATE MAN On May 25 a man from Prince Albert, Sask., began a hunger strike in Ottawa. He insists he will take nothing but water until he's dead or an inquiry into his troubles is ordered by Ottawa. He is F. Pacio-Rivera, of Spanish birth, an immigrant who married a Canadian after becoming a forestry engineer in Sweden. Oh, he has a huge grievance! But it is a most unfashionable one. It is with some Indians. So Tom Siddon, the minister, will ignore Pacio-Rivera on his beat on Parliament Hill. And officials at Indian affairs and employment and immigration will maintain his troubles are none of theirs. It's between him and the nine bands of the Meadow Lake Tribal Council. Pacio-Rivera says he has found his own MP, Ray Funk (NDP Prince Albert-Churchill River) on edge about his case. He has had little response from Len Taylor (NDP The Battlefords-Meadow Lake), the MP in whose riding most of the bands dwell. Neither MP raised Pacio-Rivera's hunger strike in the House. No other MP has taken time to hear why he is on such a desperate course. I can confirm the line on the case from Siddon's office: ``There is a civil process for dealing with matters such as this. It's not one for the minister and the department.'' As I grasp the case it would be explosive if it got a full, open inquiry. What is it in essence? Colloquially, Pacio-River has been taken to the cleaners by Indians of northwest Saskatchewan. He is bankrupt. He has lost his home and other property (including a small office building which was seized and sold out from under him). He cannot get to his computer systems, his working files and the technical papers and monographs for his field of professional expertise as a forester and a forestry consultant. Eight years of hard work on a wonderful plan to prepare natives to manage the region's forests was wiped out in a few months, shortly after he had helped the Indians who run the Meadow Lake Tribal Council's operations to their largest coup - taking major ownership in a large, modern sawmill from the Crown in Saskatchewan. Abruptly the chiefs in charge said they no longer needed him or his company, International Forestsearch Ltd. They wiped him out without a gesture to what he had done for the bands. Instead of owing him, they insisted he owed them and seized and sold his property. I was unable by phone to trace and find any spokesperson on this case for the Indian affairs bureaucracy at Prince Albert or the Meadow Lake Tribal Council. It's a fair assumption the Indians' counter is that Pacio-Rivera proved to be an empire builder who went overboard for planning and high standards which were too grandiose and costly for their means and needs. Again, colloquially, everybody knows the Indians are the good guys. It's white exploiters like Pacio-Rivera who are the bad ones. So he challenges the reigning myth. Also, his partnerships with the Indian bands over four positive years, then several of growing confusion that ended in meanness and threats, are very complex - not ready stuff for TV news. I was asked to look at Pacio-Rivera's contretemps with the Meadow Lake Tribal Council by a professional forester of distinction who knew I had been active in forestry and involved with native issues for some 40 years. In the 1970s I had pushed the Trudeau ministry for a grand training project in forestry for Indian youth, the purpose to convert the Indians of the boreal forests into their managers and loggers. This was much like the scheme Pacio-Rivera got going in Saskatchewan's northwest. Ironically, my scheme had crashed despite an enthused minister (John Munro) because some major chiefs from Saskatchewan thought it so great they insisted they must control and direct it, of course with Ottawa underwriting it all. I had heard of Pacio-Rivera's prowess as a forester at the annual ``Man of the Trees'' conference which he had organized for Prince Albert in 1987. At it a minister speaking for Saskatchewan Premier Grant Devine and Bill McKnight, then Indian affairs minister, spoke of the lead in native forestry that his pioneering work was creating for the Cree and Dene bands in the Meadow Lake region. The ``book'' that Pacio-Rivera has on his case is very thick, rife with corporate agreements, affidavits, summonses, lawyer's letters, planning papers, school curricula and an overview prepared for an RCMP investigator. After scanning it my sympathy for Pacio-Rivera was complete. You hate to see a diligent idealist confounded and broken. But I felt Pacio-Rivera had been gullible. Hadn't he known how often Indian leaders are supplanted or switch stances and support overnight? Or known of the endemic nepotism and the annual boondoggles in most bands and tribal councils to cover the grants received or to be repeated from Indian affairs? Or how much of the money granted for projects was spent otherwise? Yes, Pacio-Rivera said, now he understood all this. ``But surely this is wrong,'' he said. Sure it is. And his loss in money, security and status as a professional is terrible. But redress is hopeless through a frightened man like Tom Siddon or from a ministry now fully intimidated by Indians. I advised this earnest man to eat, get out of Ottawa and stay out of associations that require trust. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Wednesday, June 19, 1991 ID: 12685083 TAG: 199106190161 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER AN ELITE BAND OF SAVIORS Why in the stream of constitutional stuff has the report of the Group of 22 issued last week made a larger, longer blip in the flow than propositions from other players? Certainly at first it was the earned reputations of some of the 22; then because of the forceful, provincialist bent of the report. If we are to resolve the crisis of Quebec in Canada only two solutions seem possible. The Group of 22 plumps for the first one sketched below. 1) There will be a decentralized Canada with more powers going all to the provinces that are now exercised by Ottawa in whole or jointly with the provinces. 2) There must be the so-called asymmetrical federalism in which the Constitution recognizes Quebec is not a province like the others and has powers and control of jurisdictions the other provinces do not. Quebec in the person and office of Premier Robert Bourassa might accept either choice. It might prefer the second choice because it would stress its uniqueness and how far it was in scale and responsibility from a tiny province like P.E.I. or a poor one like Newfoundland. What caught the media most about the Group of 22 were the two ex-premiers of recent distinction, Bill Davis and Allan Blakeney. Then there were two former heads of the Economic Council of Canada, Sylvia Ostry and Andre Raynauld (and Ostry, in particular, is impressive in any group). There are three corporate leaders with big names in Harrison McCain, Robert Blair and Paul Desmarais, Jr. and four former Liberal federal ministers, including Jean-Luc Pepin, a genuine authority on the Constitution. For me the Group needed attention once I saw it included Blakeney, Ostry and Pepin. Each has made a habit of being frank and pungent in public discussions. In first skimming the report I noticed what several others have commented on: The report does not use the word ``Quebec'' anywhere, and the Meech Lake accord is only referred to (once!) as the ``recent unsuccessful attempt to amend the Constitution of Canada.'' You well may ask how significant could a report be on the Quebec-Canada crisis if it deliberately avoids mentioning the party which is grieving most and threatening withdrawal? After appraising the report closely my answer would be that the Group chose to talk about ``unity'' rather than about Quebec or the failure of Meech in order to give several particular stresses to their argument. The prime emphasis is that all Canadians, including Quebecers, must come to appreciate how much we have achieved under the unity with diversity which has been Canada. Let's start, they say, with that unity, keeping it before us, and ever mindful of a component of unity which has been vital and is increasingly so - i.e., our ``national competitive position is inexorably dependent on political unity.'' We cannot keep our standards and rank in the world unless we resolve the unity issue by strengthening it. The second emphasis is also pragmatic: That if we insist on making all the major constitutional changes which various interest groups are now campaigning for we will fail. The third emphasis is doing quickly what we can do to clarify roles which do not require the unanimous approval by all the provinces and their assemblies. This is important because much can be altered without unanimity. To achieve unanimity is more than daunting, given the many demands and the recent history provided by the failure of the Meech accord. The Group accepts there are two ``orders of government,'' federal and provincial, and constitutionally they are equal. One is not superior; none is subordinate. The Group makes 28 recommendations, none of which (it is asserted) needs unanimity. It precedes them with their commitment to the following: 1) The Charter of Rights and Freedoms; 2) The principle of allocating a given responsibility to that order of government which can best provide it to the people; 3) Keeping the principle of equalizing to protect regional equity and a sharing of Canada's wealth; 4) The four economic freedoms of the free flow of people, goods, services and capital within Canada, and protecting the capacity of the government of Canada to give strong economic leadership; 5) Restricting federal and provincial spending to fields within each order of government's jurisdiction, unless by mutual agreement. Any involved citizen who runs through the 28 recommendations will suffer shock at the scale of the shifts they make towards the provinces but their merit is that all are succinct, none is obscure, and they make you appreciate that we simply cannot have a nation highly centralized in Ottawa and also keep Quebec. So the common sense alternative of the Group - one that is constitutionally easy to reach - is to give all the provinces what Quebec has wanted, only retaining for Ottawa the main means to plan and manage the national economy. You don't like this? Neither do I. But it's one of (only) two alternatives. The other accepts Quebec is very distinct, is atypical, and leaves us with an asymmetrical federalism. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Sunday, June 16, 1991 ID: 12684691 TAG: 199106160194 EDITION: Final SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle PAGE: C3 COLUMN: In Ottawa SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER ONE OF THE LAST OF THE `REAL LIBERALS' Paul Martin, Sr., 89 next week, characterizes the late Dave Croll as ``a real Liberal.'' A simple phrase, ``a real Liberal.'' It's rather opaque if you haven't known Liberals who so characterized themselves or others. Years of observing Liberals made the phrase, including its exclusions, familiar to me. For example, the great C.D. Howe, ``the minister of everything'' from 1935-57 was not accorded the label. From this you may conclude that ``a real Liberal'' was to the left of the centre line of the political spectrum. The category of ``real Liberals'' seems far slighter now than three decades ago. Why so? Well, the main frame of the welfare state was largely completed early in the Trudeau years. Then there's been crimping from the left through the slow rise in support for the New Democratic Party from a basic 9 to 10 points to 25 to 27 points today. Also, a welter of national interest groups have taken over the lead in maintaining and improving the social, welfare, and cultural programs in place. And so what was core Liberalism for the likes of Paul Martin, Sr. or the late Arthur Roebuck, Brook Claxton and Jimmy Gardiner has petered away. Consider the grandest of Dave Croll's propositions. What might have been the second last piece in a complete Canadian social ``net'' was Croll's senatorial report on poverty in 1971. It posited a guaranteed annual income for adults at 70% of an indexed poverty line. This did not catch the full enthusiasm of the Liberal caucus which was led and dominated by men from Quebec. Ministers of finance like Edgar Benson and John Turner were not ``real Liberals'' like Dave Croll. I came contrary and critical to Liberal party liberalism and its activists largely in reaction to a father who worshipped Mackenzie King. My bias hardened in the last two years of World War II as the Liberals' hypocritical manpower policies put many servicemen in greater jeopardy. But well before this Croll had been one of the few good Grits I'd concede my father. In the mid-1930s, as an Ontario minister he had stood with Arthur Roebuck against the bullying of mine and auto workers by Premier Mitch Hepburn. Then he'd gone to war early as a private and served well. And after he became an MP in 1945 he pushed on the splendid programs for educating veterans. After Croll became a senator in 1955 he was consistently serious and industrious whereas many of his colleagues were mere patronage bums. In several brushes with Senator Croll after I became an MP in 1957 I found his being a ``real Liberal'' didn't exclude rough partisanship. Croll was ever ready and apt at shafting a partisan rival. In the '58 campaign he and Elmer Sopha, a great orator, worked together through the small towns of my constituency (Port Arthur). They fixed on me, not issues. They made the case that I had proven in just seven months to be an immature, egg-headed, grandstanding, and ineffective MP. Croll slashed and Sopha ridiculed, to no avail, though they did leave me tender. Again, as an NDP candidate 10 years later in York Centre, then the most Jewish riding in Metro, I got the Croll treatment. He was affronted I might represent his territory. Early, before the Trudeau phenomenon mushroomed in Toronto, he took unofficial command of the Liberal campaign in the riding. Wherever I turned to groups or associations I found the senator had there, belittling both me and the efficacy of electing anyone who was not a Liberal. It was small solace that he was even more vicious with the Tory candidate. Anyway, his man won, and well over a decade later he mentioned the contest to me. I had taken a proposition for funding of a sports facility to a meeting of the Metro Liberal caucus. Its chairman, an MP, warned me Croll - as usual - would be the prime interrogator. He was right, but after cranky prodding at the project Croll paused, said he thought they'd heard enough, and should recommend it strongly to the necessary ministers. Carried! And as I departed past him he tapped my hand and said sotto voce: ``No grudges, Fisher. Even a Liberal hater like you can have a good idea.'' At Croll's memorial services I wonder if any attending will be wonder where both ``the real Liberals'' and the Liberal haters have gone. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Friday, June 14, 1991 ID: 12684424 TAG: 199106140177 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER OTTAWA FEELS MANNING'S HEAT It's hard to prefigure the Preston Manning factor in electoral politics. Who knows the constitutional course or the resolution to the Quebec crisis? What's more certain is the issue will go far in determining whom electors vote for in the next federal election. And surely this is clear for Manning and the Reform Party: If the campaign rolls with the crisis unresolved or a positive federalist solution still tentative, then Manning will be as prime a personal force in the contest as Brian Mulroney, Jean Chretien or Audrey McLaughlin. ``Volatile'' has become the word for public opinion on federal politics and leaders. This year a book by political scientists, Absent Mandate (Gage Publishing) reviews electoral trends since 1968, and a chapter titled ``Fallen Heroes'' concludes with what becomes obvious when you think back. ``The Canadian public has grown increasingly disenchanted with its political leaders, and even those such as Pierre Trudeau or Brian Mulroney who have enjoyed political success have seen their standing with the public decline sharply over time.'' Over years the quartet of authors developed a ``thermometer'' to register how Canadians feel about their leaders. They relate responses to similar survey questions to find if citizens are warm or cool or indifferent to a party leader. One broad generalization about party leaders is clear from the registering on their thermometer since 1968. There is a steady decline in appreciation from what was an initial warmth or at least a lack of antipathy. The only federal leader who jumped this norm was Ed Broadbent, but his blip back up the scale in 1986 and 1987 disappeared in 1988. (Remember?) At this moment it's a guess where Preston Manning is on the thermometer (though I would think about 24 C. or higher). We know from recent national polling by three surveys of leadership and party preferences that the prime minister is so low in the scale he's figuratively frozen, and there is scant warmth for Chretien and McLaughlin. As a trio they figuratively cancel each other. Unless there's a collapse in health or an almost unimaginable sacrificial withdrawal from politics, the leaders' slate in the next election will be Mulroney, Chretien, McLaughlin and Manning, with the likelihood, but not the certainty, that Quebec voters will have a fifth choice - Lucien Bouchard of the Bloc Quebecois. A federal election must be held before the end of 1993 - at the most, some 30 months from now. And the bounds set by Premier Bourassa for Quebec's National Assembly to get and consider a constitutional proposition to be presented by the federal government in the name of Canada beyond Quebec is the end of 1992 - at the most, some 18 months. Most people don't know or easily forget that an elected politician makes a daily, mental canvass on his or her chances of re-election. After battening down my subjective bent in partisan matters, I tell you somewhat pompously that in this Parliament, well past its mid-point, there is an unusual absence of confidence among veteran MPs of all stripes outside Quebec on what the next election may do to them and their parties. And the major factor in these frets and such hesitancy is Preston Manning and the Reform Party A secondary aspect regarding the NDP does get factored into such appraisals by participants, especially among Tories and Grits. They puzzle on how much the obvious emptiness of the NDP leader will affect campaign choices, particularly in the 120 or so ridings where real four-way contests now seem certain. Recently a Tory MP from the Prairies put his apprehensions about the Reform Party to me by recalling the 1921 election. Almost ``from the blue'' the the Progressives took 65 seats, confounding the old parties. ``Out West,'' he said, ``Reform's for real.'' And I dibbed in with recall on the flummoxing of Tories, Grits and then-new New Democrats in 1962 by the surge of Social Credit from zero seats to 30, and this with an uneasy dual leadership of Bob Thompson and Real Caouette. What galls the political regulars about the Reform Party threat usually comes out after they conjecture on the gloss gone from Mulroney, Chretien and McLaughlin and have rued the curb on promises forced by huge deficits and debt charges. Then they get to the heart of the Reform menace. It's Manning's appeal as a leader -- straight and telling it as it is. And with it, his stance of no more concessions to Quebec: Either leave, or stay and accept Canada as the whole. After a paying house of several thousand Ottawans took well to Manning this week, a Liberal MP from a part of Ontario where the Reform Party is in business talked to me about the edge in freshness and difference which Manning has on the other leaders. He sees Manning as most unusual: A charismatic leader who rejects or refutes the usual elements and ploys of political charisma. His histrionics are of modesty and simplicity. No stock, knowing phrases of party politics. Here is a plain citizen, a decent, ordinary Canadian roused to come forward by the tragedy facing Canada and the ruination of Canadian values. The record of the academics' thermometer says enchantment with Manning must fade, but how soon, and transfer where? Even with many months to go a base figure of 40 seats for him seems cautious. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Wednesday, June 12, 1991 ID: 12684103 TAG: 199106120141 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER POLITICAL WISDOM BY NON-POLITICIANS The best analysis of where we are - and why - rarely comes from those we elect. Here are four bits of political wisdom not from party leaders: First on getting past the crisis of Quebec-Canada; second on why we misappraise our defence needs; third, the worth of a heritage of gallantry; fourth, the key dilemma for the inquiry on native matters. The writers are Gordon Robertson, a long-time Clerk of the Privy Council; Gen. G.C. Therriault, a recent chief of the defence staff; Hamilton Southam, an ex-publisher, philanthropist, and author of a federal task force report on war museums; and Link Byfield, publisher of Alberta Report. Robertson's theme for a gathering of the municipal leaders was that ``We are too good a country and too great a cause to fail.'' And he warned about ``over-learning one of the lessons of Meech Lake. ``Among the many reasons for its defeat, one was that it did not deal with everything that every pressure group wanted settled at the same time. It did not cover Senate reform; it did not deal with aboriginal rights; it left untouched some `Charter issues.' These omissions undoubtedly contributed to the failure of the accord. ``But if the trauma of that experience leads to the conclusion that nothing can be settled until everything can be settled, I suspect that nothing will indeed be the result. The perfect has generally been the enemy of the good. What seems to be required is attention for, and action on, the most urgent problems now plus firm commitment to early action on the other issues, with an agreed program on tackling them.'' May such advice steer us from constituent assemblies, whose membership of interest groups want what they want in the Constitution. Gen. Therriault's capsule on why our grasp of defence matters is weak was in a letter to the Ottawa Citizen (May 30). It's pithy. ``First, this is a politically very immature country, affected by a persistent post-colonial state of dependency, which had long looked to Britain for defence, and more latterly to the U.S., and that Canadians (or their governments) although affecting much sensitivity regarding national sovereignty, were not willing to assume fully the responsibilities which devolve to a sovereign nation-state. ``Second, evolution of Canadian political institutions in a direction unintended by the Fathers of Confederation had led to endless and wasteful internal conflict, and been accompanied by a political culture in which partisan politics have become everything and undermine good government; that defence in Canada, unlike most other countries, had thus nearly never been based on a solid and lasting theoretical foundation but rather on political convenience. ``These were compounded by the merger of the departmental and military headquarters in 1972 which effectively denied the Canadian Armed Forces an effective, unified command structure. The overall effect has been, through no fault of the people directly involved, to impair the effectiveness of the defence department as a whole in defining the needs of Canadian defence.'' Southam wrote the Globe and Mail (June 1) seconding an argument of Bronwyn Drainie that ``cultural debate suffers when all those smug left-wingers ignore reality.'' She had noted the myopia which rejected visits to war museums ``because of what they stood for.'' Southam added: ``After visiting more than 40 war museums from Halifax to Victoria I saw that the history of our armed forces over the past centuries, and their bases and museums in the small Canadian communities today, play almost as important a cultural role in many parts of Canada as the CBC or theatres or concert halls. If our left-wing theorists abandoned their Yorkville cafes . . . and visited some little Canadian towns . . . they too would see how dear in those places, and how intimate a part of the collective memory of those who live there, are the tales of certain regiments, ships, and squadrons. The simple account of the gallantry and sacrifice of many Canadians . . . is a visceral part of the Canadian communities which bred them. The little museums . . . do not glorify war. They rather dispose their visitors to thank God for peace - and for the men and women who fought and won it for us.'' On May 6, Byfield wrote on the ``very heart of the Indian dilemma. The Canadian government promised the Indian nations material security in exchange for the land, or so the Indians believe. In 19th century terms, this did not involve large outlays of cash, because whites and Indians alike were expected to wring their meagre living from the land, lakes and seas. But in the post-industrial consumer economy of the 21st century, it's cash-intensive indeed. Because of roads, air travel and television, their reserves are too close to the growing affluence of white society for Indians to bother cutting fenceposts in exchange for bacon and potatoes from nearby farmers as they did two or three generations ago. But most reserves are too small, inexperienced to do much else. In other words, the Indian's choice typically is to leave the reserve and find a job, or to remain and live on welfare . . . ``If he accepts his human responsibility to pay his own way as best he can, he loses (sooner or later) his unique right to remain racially distinct. If he exercises his right and lives on welfare, it becomes the millstone which drowns him.'' The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Sunday, June 09, 1991 ID: 12683763 TAG: 199106090182 EDITION: Final SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle PAGE: C6 COLUMN: In Ottawa SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER INCOMPETENT, BUT NOT CORRUPT How grave a scandal is the Al-Mashat affair? It may not be over, but so far it does not show the Mulroney government as venal, corrupt, or criminally deceptive - just as most incompetent and disorganized at its highest levels. More revelations in the case are unlikely. Indications from fretting Tories suggest that Barbara McDougall, not Joe Clark, is their colleague most responsible for the fiasco. Clark is respected within the caucus and Bernard Valcourt and Pierre Cadieux, two other ministers involved, are popular and admired, whereas McDougall is not. At least not among backbenchers. She is the external affairs minister now but she had the department of employment and immigration in the period when former Iraqi ambassador Mohamed Al-Mashat got such speedy approval as an immigrant. If you follow my appraisals of MPs you know of the high abilities of Svend Robinson and Lloyd Axworthy, respectively the ablest, though far from the most lovable, New Democrat and Liberal in Parliament. They have done very well in this matter, almost ``in sync'' as they were through their Iraqi excursion last fall when seeking release of hostages. The exceptional emphasis on the case by the Liberals owes much to Axworthy but some to seizing a grand chance to turn attention from leader Jean Chretien, who is slow in finding his balance and who must stay distant from the case because his nephew, bureaucrat Raymond Chretien, is central in the foul-ups. The Grit misjudgment was letting loose an irrational fool like John Nunziata as an interrogator in both the special committee and in the House. Believe me, the mandarinate is as disturbed with his abuse of officials as at the Tories' abdication of ministerial responsibility. The attitude of a recent witness before the parliamentary committee on amending the Constitution symbolizes the difficulties in finding commissioners (royal!) for a study and report on aboriginal matters. At present, Brian Dickson, the retired chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, is lining up a slate of members for the long-heralded inquiry which the PM promised two months ago. The witness was Prof. Tony Hall of the University of Lethbridge. Hall's field is native studies and he has been mooted as a commissioner because of his expertise and his demonstrated commitment as western president of the Canadian Alliance for Solidarity with Native People. To put it mildly, Hall as witness was censorious, damning whites for every imaginable wrong in the native situations. He called Brian Mulroney a law-breaker and mocked the justice which native litigants face in the Supreme Court of Canada. ``Who is to say,'' he told the MPs, ``that the Supreme Court, whoever is there, is not going to be a racist and a bigot like Judge McEachern?'' And Dr. Hall couldn't understand why the MPs were unhappy with this summary derogation of Allan McEachern, the chief justice of British Columbia's Supreme Court (for 12 years) and author of the recent, complex decision which rejected a massive Indian land claim in northern B.C. Dr. Hall epitomizes the militancy and the assertive righteousness now stock among native leaders of prominence. A prime reason for the militancy is that our politicians never dare face directly the hyperbolic accusations and demands. Guilt reigns! Figuratively speaking, Dr. Hall insists on ``the works.'' He and almost all native leaders will not accept a commission which weighs native claims and demands. It must approve the demands. They want recognition that aboriginal sovereignty and nationhoods pre-date Columbus and Jacques Cartier. Their ``nations'' must have an absolute right to self-government which goes far beyond the municipal in power and nature, even to seats at the UN. There must be return to natives of huge land entitlements and/or cash reimbursements for past exploitation and future use of such lands by non-natives. Anyone who says them nay is a racist and bigot, and most citizens haven't the slightest idea of the scope and costs of aboriginal demands. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Friday, June 07, 1991 ID: 12683526 TAG: 199106070180 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER NDP ACTION PAPER IS EMBARRASSING In the hallowed days of Stanley Knowles as ``Mr. Parliament,'' the most positive views on parliamentary proceedings and the most responsible behavior by MPs in the House of Commons were the province of the NDP. The traditions and behavior Knowles set for the NDP are gone. Witness the fresh discussion paper, titled Making Parliament Work, issued this week by a ``caucus action'' group of nine MPs appointed by their leader, Audrey McLaughlin, nine months ago. The paper of some 7,500 words lacks an overview and even a sensible beginning. Much of it is grab-bag, without coherence. Such arguments there are are nice enough but rather limp -like the party's leader - somewhat vapid and without force. The instant explanation for the paper by reporters was that the aim was less bettering Parliament and more getting the NDP off the hook of its antagonism to a Senate. The Reform Party and Preston Manning are championing an elected Senate. It's true the only part of the paper with much rational analysis begins with an inconclusive appraisal of using proportional representation (as a voting system) to get a truer match in Parliament of voters' views, and this is prelude both to why the NDP has been for wiping out the Senate and what changes in powers in Parliament will be required when the Senate is elected. It seems the NDP is ready to have such an elected body as the the chief ward of the Constitution and its amendment. Their Senate would be able to ``vet'' and reject appointments by the prime minister; even be the alternative to first ministers' conferences as the policy-making body for all Canada. There's reasoning in this segment on the Senate but the adjectives for it are crude and half-baked. From their root years in the CCF party of the '30s, our socialists have been for abolishing the Senate. But west of Ontario, where the NDP is strongest, the proposition of an elected Senate is very popular now and the Reform Party is the obvious rival for the NDP now with most western electors. Manning touts an elected Senate as the vital counter for the West and the Maritimes to the excessive influence in Parliament of the many MPs from Ontario and Quebec. Of course, a columnist is unfair to trash an offering from a group of MPs without being explicit on what should have been or might have been in a paper on parliamentary reform and is not in this one. Before setting out what the New Democrats do recommend here are several reasons for jeering their lame effort. First, not only is there little analysis of what's wrong with Parliament there is simply nothing on: a) The oral question period, which has overwhelmingly become what Parliament is mostly about (see your daily telecast news!) and which, to say the least, radiates throughout Canada the choler and antics which bother, even disgust, many Canadians and which day by day sustain the idea that we elect braying donkeys to Parliament. There is nothing on: b) The often mindless blockage of proceedings by opposition MPs, in particular by New Democrats who outshine the Liberals at such calculated ploys as raising insubstantial or phony ``points of order'' or ``of privilege'' or refusing assent for approving the first reading of bills (which was a tradition) or reading into the record a seemingly inexhaustible series of petitions from citizens. There is nothing in the paper on: c) The increase in the use of closure by the Progressive Conservative government in order to limit debate on measures and require that these be disposed by votes, a practice explained less by Tory contempt of Parliament and more as a response to the opposition tactics set out under (b). The failure of the New Democrats to address closure is shocking because raging against closure as a gag on the people and their representatives has been the most pungent, reiterated grievance of the NDP in the House. Why Nelson Riis, the NDP's House leader, could give in his sleep his stock speech on the pending death of parliamentary democracy, flattened by ``the Tory steamroller.'' Yet this prime parliamentary grievance of the NDP - closure or the guillotining of legislative stages - is missing from the paper. Harvie Andre, the touted ``abrasive'' who leads the government in the House will mock this proof of NDP hypocrisy. The paper stresses a reduction in the power of the prime minister, for example, by taking away his right to call an election, by cutting in half the size of the cabinet, by setting fixed dates for general elections (every four years) and for a throne speech and a budget speech (each year). Taking congressional models without saying so, the NDP would let House committees initiate legislation which would have to be debated and disposed of within set periods. The grip of the PM on government MPs would be loosened by markedly limiting the so-called ``confidence'' votes. And the idea of seats in both the House and the Senate for aborigines, elected by aborigines, is approved. Making Parliament Work is not a considered product of serious, thoughtful MPS. Probably McLaughlin's staffers threw it together for issue now because Andre and the government are pushing parliamentary reform. About all it demonstrates is that Knowles left the NDP no legacy. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Wednesday, June 05, 1991 ID: 12683234 TAG: 199106050158 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER RAE'S FORGOTTEN MEECH LESSON Some say Premier Robert Bourassa boxed himself in badly by declaring after Meech Lake's failure that he would not return to the first ministers' table. But few have noted that another premier's built a box for himself too. Last year Bourassa said that henceforth he would deal on constitutional change only with the federal government. He still stands by this. He awaits an offer through Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, not renewed talks with premiers like Clyde Wells and Gary Filmon. Much less attention has been drawn by the summary declaration last week by Premier Bob Rae of Ontario. Yet down the crisis months to late 1991, Rae's ultimatum will cause more problems than Bourassa's sticking point. On May 31 Rae assured the native chiefs of Ontario he will insist the right of native people to self-government be recognized in the next constitutional round. He was forceful. It was ``unacceptable that the Constitution be amended without our finding a way to recognize'' such rights. It's as though Rae has forgotten the NDP's own fiasco of 1990. Just a year ago Rae and the Ontario NDP (and the federal NDP) were strongly supportive of the Meech Lake accord. Of course, the NDP is now the only party in which membership embraces both the country and province. Rae seems to have forgotten how Meech failed. An NDP member of the Manitoba Legislature, Elijah Harper, blocked a tri-party agreement to approve the accord. And did it, of course, with the tacit acquiescence of Gary Doer, Manitoba's NDP leader, and his caucus. A lesson from Harper's role seems to have bypassed Rae. It is stupid to load ``extras'' into a situation which is already very dicey - almost of the life or death of Canada. Yet Rae's quid pro quo for a renewed Constitution with Quebec is entrenching native self-government (whatever that means). Rae should appreciate the explosiveness of trying to deal with native demands in the current, dangerous contretemps over what Quebec is demanding. Rae must know that Bourassa, PQ Leader Jacques Parizeau, the National Assembly and most Quebecois, will repel any constitutional discussions of import which begin with Ontario insisting that native self-government must find acceptance in any resolution of Quebec's wants. Furthermore, if the announced (and as yet unappointed) royal commission on aboriginal affairs is to be serious, something as complicating for the governance of the entire realm and each province as native self-government should get its thorough examination and recommendations. Nowhere (to my knowledge) is there a comprehensive appraisal of what native self-government means or might be. It isn't in government publications (provincial or federal). I haven't found it in academic texts, despite a recent gush of books and essays on native matters by historians, anthropologists, sociologists, lawyers, etc. Even the excuse that serious prefiguring of self-government as an institutionalized reality must wait upon settlement of major native land claims is a poor one for shying away from analysis and explanation on the scope of self-governing first nations. Anyone who says the chiefs of the first nations have made clear what native self-government means has found statements I have missed. It's true George Erasmus has said such self-government is not comparable to municipal government and would be rather more like a provincial government in powers (including rights at any table of first ministers). And Erasmus and other chiefs have indicated the economic base for their nations shall be a combination of federal cash settlements, the renting of lands and annual funding for education, health, welfare, pensions, etc. from Ottawa. No one - native or non-native - has produced any appreciation of where the 603 bands and reserves may fit in self-government. These are widely scattered, mostly across Canada's hinterland. No one whom I have heard or read - not Mulroney or Tom Siddon or Jean Chretien or Audrey McLaughlin; not the native luminaries such as Erasmus, Dave Ahenikew, Phil Fontaine or Billy Diamond - has been clear on where the tribes or the treaty groups or the individual bands shall fit within the constitutionally embedded entitlement to self-government. Along with a trend of a native population rising to almost 500,000, there has been another clear trend - leaving the reserves! Tens of thousands of natives have chosen to live in our cities and towns. Does self-government mean some form of dual citizenship for them? And who wouldn't forecast antagonism to absentee members in many nations? What privileges will be theirs as a nation takes independence and exploits its lands and federal funding? Some say Canadians want the participation of far more than politicians in constitution-making, yet Premier Rae enters this crucial round with a unilateral insistence there be something enshrined on which there has been much only vague emoting and hardly a tittle of detail or explanation. Quebec in Canada is the question, and Quebec with less than 60,000 natives among its seven million people has 10 different native ``nations.'' Believe me, just the conception that one of those nations - the Mohawk - must have a constitutional writ for an undefined self-government will make Bourassa boil. He'll reject any federal offer that includes what Rae has promised. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Sunday, June 02, 1991 ID: 12934356 TAG: 199106020178 EDITION: Final SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle PAGE: C2 COLUMN: In Ottawa SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER WHOSE DREAM, INDEED? Understanding and compassion: To be colloquial, isn't that what Canada's all about? How awful if we come asunder while so far on the way as global model as we gain the consequences from the the Charter of Rights and official multiculturalism, the two grandest contributions from the Trudeau era. Which is more wonderful - the Charter or multicult? Consider two very current examples. The first is a major report from the Canadian Society of Muslims titled, Oh! Canada! Whose Land, Whose Dream? The second is a tri-party agreement emerging on Parliament Hill to legislate an annual day of remembrance about violence against women. The bill is likely based on a private member's public bill at the top of the House order paper in the name of Dawn Black, the NDP's feminist spokesperson. The gender writ of women in Canada has been strong in political affairs for over a decade - really since a clamor of picketing and lobbying by women activists won a last- minute inclusion of women's rights in the constitutional package of the early '80s. The creation of an annual day in which the nation and all its politicians must join in regretting the inhumanity of Canadian males to females, means the Montreal Massacre shall never be forgotten; no Canadian male may dodge his part in a society where women have and do suffer so much from male brutality. This day of remembrance is so overpowering a concept, so certain of total, national commitment, that Parliament or the government-in-council must pick a day four or five months from Remembrance Day (Nov. 11). Otherwise, the observances for those who died for Canada in war will be even more eclipsed than they have been by the Peace Movement which has drawn away the reasoning and patriotism from the famous line of Horace: ``Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.'' The other example, provided by the highly activist report from the Canadian Society of Muslims, combines both Charterism and multiculturalism. It makes a marvellous example of what is now flowing strongly from the great widening of our immigration policies in the late 1960s. The resultant diversity is coupled with national approval for the conception that any and every ethno-cultural group here, or which comes here, is officially encouraged to keep its culture, religion and traditions - including language. And so our Muslims, not unlike our aboriginal nations, have called for a grand reconstruction of the Constitution and our society. They want their own system of justice and their own schools with their own curricula. If Canada is a truly multicultural society then they should be able to live fully under the teaching of the Koran, including the teaching of their children, their observances and customs in marriage and on divorce and regarding the duties of children. The sexual mores, the dress codes, even the dietary customs of Muslims are distinctive. Like the native Indians, Muslims are asking for the right to run their own schools and have their own curricula. Like the Roman Catholics, they want to direct their taxes for education to their schools, not to the public system. In Ontario, and particularly in Metro where most Canadian Muslims live, the proposals of the Muslim society seem certain of backing from Bob Rae's provincial government. It has been wonderfully sensitive to ethnic needs and representations and, of course, the Liberals and Conservatives don't give an inch to the New Democrats when it comes to ethnicking. Perhaps our ``mosaic'' tradition, imprinted here from the British Empire with all races and religions under the Crown, has put us ahead of every modern country except the USSR in multiculturalism. Certainly the Americans, with their common patriotism and flag rites have nothing like our institutionalized diversity. Governmentally, Canada has never been a simple country due to the old ``two founding peoples'' problem. But that concept is being swept away by multiculturalism and Charterism. The world in microcosm - that's Canada. Even our own ``Middle East'' is emerging. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Friday, May 31, 1991 ID: 12934121 TAG: 199105310169 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER HERE'S HOW OTTAWA SPENDS Money and trustworthy politicians may be in short supply but not advice from academics on how Canada is, or ought to be, governed. There is far more than any politician has time to read. Perhaps mandarins read all this stuff. Maybe the profusion just reflects the imperatives of tenure and promotion - ``publish or perish.'' Anyway, one knows most of the essays will be assigned reading for the authors' students. In the past month eight books of academic essays have come to me, one of which is a serial, How Ottawa Spends. This, the 12th annual issue of How Ottawa Spends, is the worst of the dozen, mainly because the bridging essay by the editor, Frances Abele, is not a fair summation of the parts and is the stock, trite stuff of any warm-hearted, fuzzy-headed social democrat about any government that tries to restrain public spending. The book has 10 essays on aspects of recent and current federal governance by 12 authors, six of whom are in Ottawa at Carleton University (whose press publishes this annual). The idea and the initiatives for the series arose in the school of public administration at Carleton. For some 40 years leaders of this school have worked on having a working relationship with the federal meritocracy. The school has styled itself as ``a national centre for the study of public policy and public management in Canada.'' In the late 1950s at a seminar I recall the first head of the school rebuking the late Frank Underhill, then a noted elder historian, for arguing to Carleton faculty the imperative that more professors join and contribute to political parties their knowledge and policy ideas. ``Why should we bother with politicians and parties, or even with cabinet ministers,'' said the dean, ``when we may have direct access at the deputy-minister level of government?'' Given the grunt of approval it drew I could understand why Underhill didn't try a rebuttal. The dean's indication of impatience, of why waste one's time with elected poltroons and their parties, and of the ethical and decision-making superiority of academics over party hacks, seems alive and well in How Ottawa Spends. Nevertheless, several essays struck me as fair and sound, in particular an analysis of the state of governmental affairs on visible minorities and racism by Daiva Stasiulis, a sociologist at Carleton. Although the Mulroney government has been ``muddling through'' the issue, Stasiulis says ``it has not pandered to racist sentiments (for example, in immigration policy).'' Anyone wanting a consequential corollary to the free trade deal will find it in ``The free trade sequel: Canada-U.S. subsidy negotiations,'' by Bruce Doern and Brian Tomlin of Carleton. Michael Prince of the University of Victoria is also clear and detached in forecasts about the rising topic of income for the elderly in his essay ``From Meech Lake to Golden Pond: The elderly, pension reform and federalism in the 1990s.'' The most unusual work in the lot for me is on recent trends in federal dealings with highly-organized advocacy groups such as Indians, women, ethnics, peace-lovers, environmentalists, etc. It's by Susan Philips of Carleton and titled: ``How Ottawa blends shifting government relationships with organized interest groups.'' Federalists of an optimistic bent will be angered, perhaps cast down, by the essay of a McGill professor, Alain-G. Gagnon, titled ``Everything old is new again: Canada, Quebec and the constitutional impasse.'' He neither belittles the Meech accord nor blames Mulroney for its failure -- as four of the other essayists seem to do. Rather, the failure has cleared the way for an independent Quebec to ``assert itself fully in the concert of nations.'' The best example of expertise, plus arrogance and even contempt for the politician in this year's issue of How Ottawa Spends is by a Calgary political scientist, Leslie Pal, and titled ``How Ottawa dithers: The conservatives and abortion policy.'' It savages the Tories and it is complex and hard to follow; but I found it compelling. The first two sentences are punchy and categorical; the rest of the paragraph displays the very elevated mind-set. ``Government is principally about two things: Money and morals. Money -- or rather the lack of it -- has dominated the Conservative agenda for seven years.'' Yes! And given deficits of $30 billion-plus a year, and annual debt charges soaring to a third of federal costs, shouldn't the lack of money dominate the government's thinking? Ah, there's far more to it when you turn from money to morals. The professor says: ``The Meech Lake fiasco showed that the life and legitimacy of the Tory government depend as much if not more on contested visions of equality and ethics. But the Meech Lake accord was only the first of Ottawa's confrontations with the politics of principle. As nuch as they twisted and squirmed, in 1990 the Tories finally had to face the question of abortion.'' And so we get an ingenious portrayal of the abortion issue and the government's failure to get a legislative solution as a ``template'' for all the dire dilemmas of fracture and disunity and proof of the Tories' inability to handle any major issue well. Anyway . . . in the Trudeau years How Ottawa Spends was occasionally severe with him too. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Wednesday, May 29, 1991 ID: 12933844 TAG: 199105290141 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER PARTISAN POLITICS BEST LEFT AT HOME The prime minister abroad is not making us prideful. In Hong Kong he should not have raised the idea of apologies and reparations from the Japanese for vicious treatment of Canadian prisoners in World War II. It made me writhe, viewing the ceremony at a Hong Kong cemetery, the PM oozing that Canadians will never forget such sacrifices. Later, he said that although the request by a group of veterans captured at Hong Kong for reparation came long after the matter seemed settled, he would raise it. Is he unaware how angry veterans were with him when he gave $21,000 in cash to each of those Japanese and Japanese Canadians ordered in 1942 to move from the B.C. Coast? At home the PM has a department and a costly appraisal system for refugees. It's choked with thousands of self-proclaimed refugees already here. More opportunists land daily. Yet the PM was playfully benign in declaring our readiness for another influx of boat people from Vietnam (by way of Hong Kong). He also staked out a broad welcome for Hong Kong money and those anxious for a homeland before China takes over the colony. One wishes the gullible Mulroney would read a recent book about the Chinese diaspora by Lynn Pam, Sons of the Yellow Emperor: The Story of the Overseas Chinese (Secker & Warburg). There's much in it on where the overseas Chinese have come from, where they have gone, the kind of communities they develop, and the parts they have played in the countries of their adoption. Believe the author, and you accept it is not all advantages to get a substantial and quite exclusionary community within a country. In her analysis of the Chinese enclaves abroad is one on the character of the Chinese of Hong Kong. Pam thinks that despite many decades of British suzerainty, these are people for whom China itself has been and is the emotional pole. It's not as if Canada is a fine, last chance for Hong Kong's people. Hordes of them are not rushing to take advantage of either the entry offered by the U.K. or the even broader welcome from the prime minister of Singapore. Mulroney in Japan has caused more stir at home than Mulroney in Hong Kong. Even if our embassy people told him the investors and government mandarins of Japan were wary because of the big deficits ahead for the NDP government in Ontario, Mulroney should have known how mean-minded and foolish it was to make this a prime, open topic. Preach in Tokyo as Michael Wilson has to us on wrestling down the federal deficit by restraint, though that would bore the Japanese because they will have our national balance sheets to hand. But whacking the NDP in Tokyo was wrong and stupid, even as crass, partisan politics. And we must ask where is the cash? Cash to go with the contrition expressed by the Japanese prime minister for the beastly way Canadians were treated long ago. Don't the Japanese know that in Mulroney's Canada a mere apology isn't worth a lot? There must be cash. Japanese Canadians knew that; so do the Ukrainians and Italians who want cash for wartime internments, so do the Chinese who want back the head tax their ancestors paid to enter Canada. When I was a librarian I was bothered about any book which it was hard, sometimes impossible, for a library to stock or for a book store to sell. Jock Andrew of Kitchener (Box 1930) has given me a current case. It also makes a tidy fit with today's rising chatter over being ``politically correct.'' A decade ago, Andrew, a retired serviceman, wrote and published the paperback, Bilingual Today, French Tomorrow. It sold well over 100,000 copies. Three years ago he wrote a sequel, Enough French; Enough Quebec, which has sold some 25,000 copies. To put it flatly, both books attack official bilingualism, which, as recent opinion polls have shown, seems unpopular with a majority in each region of Canada. Recently Andrew got a call from a Coles' employee ordering ``one'' copy of Bilingual Today for a customer. Andrew suggested she check with her superiors first, because he knew that an order from the president of Coles had forbidden the sale within the chain of any Andrew book. She never called back. Andrew says anyone writing Coles to ask why his books aren't available gets a form letter stating there is no demand. Two years ago a Coles manager in Guelph withdrew a supply of Enough on orders from head office. Why? Andrew explains: ``Across Canada from St. John's to Victoria those independent booksellers who were selling my books have all been approached in a systematic way by members of francophone associations funded by Ottawa who demand my books be removed and returned. In the whole of Canada today today only a handful of stores have not been cowed by this procedure. ``I had always believed,'' says Andrew, ``that adult Canadians had the right to read and think and speak and write, with due respect for one's fellows . . . But I am not entitled to any of those rights. How soon will it be before no one else is?'' Canada is in need of Milton's ideas on tolerance, perhaps for a clause in our sacred Charter that gives an author the right not to be kept from being read by anyone who dislikes his or her views. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Sunday, May 26, 1991 ID: 12933487 TAG: 199105260175 EDITION: Final SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle PAGE: C5 ILLUSTRATION: drawing COLUMN: Backgrounder SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER NORTHERN BLIGHTS//CITY-DWELLING ENVIRONMENTALISTS CHEER AS TREES ARE SAVED AND ANIMALS KEEP THEIR FUR. BUT WITHOUT THE RESOURCE-BASED EXPORTS FROM OUR NORTH, CANADA WILL BEGIN TO DIE. MAYBE IT ALREADY HAS The outlook for many communities across Canada, from Cornerbrook to Kapuskasing to Prince George, is bleak but not yet part of a national foreboding. But this blight, distant from our big cities, means drastic retrenchment ahead for most of us. To explain, let's do a rough exercise in geography. Long ago geographers worked out five zones of Canada, based on temperature and accessibility. There is the Extreme North - the Arctic archipelago to the Pole. Then comes the Far North, covering much of the Northwest Territories and the northerly tip of Quebec. Then the Middle North, from the lower Alaska Panhandle through the northern halves of all but the Atlantic provinces. Then the Near North, a thinner but wider band which rims the lower mainland of B.C., fringes the cultivated prairie regions, strips across lower Northern Ontario and Quebec into northern New Brunswick and on to Newfoundland. South of the Near North is the geographer's ``Ecumene'' - the areas of permanent settlement, joined by an integrated transportation system. Each of the bigger provinces has huge areas north of the east-west lines of transport and settlement. The scatter of communities in each of these areas function mostly on a north-south, not an east-west line. Our images of our economy and its mainstays no longer mirror how much is still based on using the resources in the Near North and Middle North. This is most obvious in Ontario, rather less so in B.C. because of rancor over logging and in Quebec over James Bay II. Meanwhile, something as plain as disappearance is at hand for many of the non-native people and much of the economy in these belts. The blight enveloping the northerly places is not easy to see as a national crisis because the communities are not linked east to west in communication and exchanges. The citizens have numerically slight representation at Ottawa and in legislatures. An outsider canvassing national news will find stories galore on the desperate needs of the Indians of the Near North and the Middle North or on environmental crises there, but little on the commonalty of receding prospects in several score small cities and towns. Those directly shadowed by the eclipse of local and regional enterprises are framed - one might say frozen - in provincial jurisdictions. Not yet are they a grave national concern. Perhaps they never will be. It's true that Indianism, which is random through these belts, postal service, telecommunications and defence works, which may be of some importance to some communities, are wholly or largely federal and lead to and from Ottawa. Aside from the federally funded welfare industry of Indianism, the big economic staples fall within provincial leaderships. But suddenly none of the staple providers is strong or seems enduring. In order of significance to the Near and Middle North in jobs and products, the enterprises are: Logging and milling trees for pulp, paper and lumber; mining for precious ores of gold, silver and uranium and base metals such as iron, copper, lead and zinc; hydro-electric power developments and systems; tourism largely based on wilderness hunting and fishing; and trapping. Global competitors, especially in the Third World, have come on strongly in wood and mineral products. More draining perhaps, every element in the belts except Indianism is under criticism from an environmental viewpoint. And environmentalists and native spokesmen ally in attacking the economic exploitation of the Near and Middle North. The environmental cadre is numerous and growing in Canada, especially in the big cities. It makes the most evangelical, holy movement of our era. Most environmentalists revel over the death of the fur trade, the original Canadian industry. They would regulate recreational hunting and fishing far more stringently. They confront any major hydro project with manifold demands of examination and review (e.g., James Bay II or the Spruce Falls power plant at Kapuskasing). They attack nuclear power and uranium mining as unconscionable. They insist mining, milling, and smelting operations meet strict requirements on waste disposal. They have made the traditional use of the ``clear-cut'' method in harvesting the boreal forest into something horrific, wasteful and ruinous to succeeding plant and animal life. They demand its abolition. Literally, the environmentalists are nearing the goal of saving for posterity any hectares of ``original'' forest in Canada. They are making costs much higher for any new paper or lumber mills. Their imperatives, accepted by most politicians, are factors in the reluctance of big companies like Abitibi, Noranda, and Domtar to invest massively in rebuilding old mills. The insistence on recycling wood products, backed by governmental edicts, is onerous on most Canadian pulp and paper operations because most recyclable material is in American cities, far from our mills. Whether one is literally an environmentalist, or critical of them and their movement, or a neutral who sees both good and bad in their zealotry, the consequences of their activities are becoming clear all across the Near and Middle Norths. So too, are the consequences of the inattention of provincial governments to the early environmentalists of several generations ago who campaigned for more reforestation. Wood costs in Canada have risen steeply and no decline is in sight, not least because most provinces have not ensured forest regeneration in much of the original and more accessible cutovers of long ago. This is most apparent in Ontario and Quebec. Hundreds of thousands of hectares lie vacant in a belt along the St. Lawrence, the Ottawa, and the lower Great Lakes. Pioneers cleared these lands for farms. Now so much of them lie unused, growing scrub willow and cedar. Many current forest operations in the northerly areas must go farther and farther for supply. The litany of trouble for northerly towns and cities runs from the Pacific to Newfoundland but even lively places like Sault Ste Marie (with Algoma Steel foundering) or Kapuskasing (with its big paper mill in doubt) or Elliot Lake (with its cost-fouled mines closing) seem to be unconnectable items of gloom and doom in what we see as a country-wide recession. There is deep concern among those living in the so-called Golden Triangle and those who govern at Queen's Park and at Quebec City or who lead our big unions over layoffs and closures of manufacturing plants in what we may call older Canada, but little about the pall enveloping the North. Ontario has 84 MPs for some 90% of its people who live in less than 10% of its area. Of course, a job is a job whether in Kapuskasing or Toronto. There's no greater civic utility to a job in one place or in another. But does this hold for the products those jobs produce? No, this is not becoming a theme to elevate the logger or the miner or the sturdy farmer over the waitress or the TV reporter. But let us remember this is a country to which export trade is crucial and where many components of good living are imported. It's simple: We export or we wither. Which exports for over a century and a half have enabled us to import so much, attaining one of the highest living standards in the world? Even as we all nod as politicians, academics, and CEOs hector us on the competitive imperatives of higher technology, much more R&D, and a far more skilled work-force, what have continued to be the core components in what we trade? Software? White goods? Textiles? Clothing? Footwear? Machine tools? No! Subtract from our exports of either recent years or two decades ago such natural resource products as paper, pulp, and lumber; metals and ores; natural gas and petroleum; grains and edible oils; meats and fish products. The money from what else we sell beyond our borders will not fill the SkyDome very often. Yet without a modicum of concern, nationally or provincially, politically or journalistically, we talk and analyze as though the resource exports are no longer fundamentals, even that it's environmentally wonderful we are snuffing out much of the exploitation or closely regimenting it. Take our exports and imports in 1990. Value out - some $143 billion; value in - some $138 billion. Most of the exports of forest products, minerals and metals, natural gas, oil, and hydro power come from the Near and Middle North belts. They totalled some 34% or about $50 billion of our exports. More to the point is the margin between ``out'' and ``in'' of such trade. For example, 26% of our value in exports last year was in automotive products. But 23% of our imports was also in automotive products. On the import side, the products of forests, mines, and energy only came to some 15% of the value of all imports or about $21 billion. Surely that plus factor in resource products of almost $30 billion last year is critical to our national well-being. Yet we behave politically and socially as though Canada is beyond the age of hewing wood. We take Japan and Germany as economic models, ignoring the relevance of our resource industries and their exports. Look northward. Figuratively, you see our future withering. The bell of economic loss that's tolling for Kapuskasing, Hearst, Wawa, Elliot Lake and the Sault tolls for all of us. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Friday, May 24, 1991 ID: 12933230 TAG: 199105240182 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER DEFENCE POLICY ONE HELLUVA MASSE What public credit the armed services and the Mulroney government earned from good work in the Gulf war has probably been buried by recent shocks. The choice of Marcel Masse as defence minister and his summary news of immediate major cuts in spending plans, particularly for weapons and equipment, has confounded even some cabinet ministers and most of the Tory caucus. The bafflement among the Tories is not allayed by the Wilsonian theme of mastering deficits and the debt. The resignation of Vice-Adm. Charles Thomas as vice-chief of the defence staff was coupled with his attack on the plans for cutting spending. His arguments laid bare the known but seldom debated contradiction between Canada's commitments of grandeur for its military and what we have in personnel, equipment, and funding for such mighty obligations. The Thomas critique slices to the basics. He says, ``You can't have a policy you can't pay for.'' The announcements of cuts by Masse, mostly unspecified, fit with our parlous financial condition. We cannot afford the system and personnel. But the decisions are feckless without reduced commitments. Those with longer memories know the governing party has more to answer for in defence because it so righteously undertook to revivify the forces. The Tories insisted our military had been deprived of modern equipment. Our alliances and roles were mocked by Pierre Trudeau's grandstanding for peace. From a Mulroney government we would have better means and prouder parts in concert with our allies in NATO and NORAD while ever ready for peacekeeping under the UN flag. Not least, at last our capabilities to watch and ward over our sovereign territory and oceans were to be developed. It was just four years ago that an enthusiastic Perrin Beatty issued the first major policy paper on defence since the early 1970s. It is three years since developments in the USSR and its satellite countries began to blow away the core of our foreign and defence rationales - i.e., countering the Red menace. So it has been imperative our defence commitments and the scale and roles of our forces be changed. But, damn it, giving Marcel Masse - the least respected of all cabinet ministers, even in the government caucus - the defence portfolio confounds reason. So do big cuts in capital spending and in personnel without a clear reaffirmation of intentions. Not since the Korean war has the ministry of national defence been in such need of clear-minded, articulate leadership. The forces need it and surely earned it with their journeymen responses in recent assignments abroad. The public needs the leadership even more than the forces because there is such a muddle of ideas around on our role in the great world, much of this due to two prime ministers in a row determined to be statesmen on the global stage. It's monstrous that a prime minister who is wrestling with the deepest crisis ever for Canadian unity would assign the very symbol of our sovereignty and strength to such partisan flibbertigibbets as Marcel Masse and Mary Collins, and not even bother to set them within a new or a reaffirmed policy which has precise information on changes in programs and personnel. Unfortunately, this scandal of maladroit ministers and unclear roles in defence is not lightened by the positions on defence taken by the main opposition parties. The NDP's defence policy is a stark alternative to what we have from the Tories. This is made clear by a dozen or so new motions by NDP MPs on today's parliamentary order paper. As befits a party devoted to peace and distrustful of the United States, the NDP wants Canada out of NATO and NORAD and our military shaped almost entirely by a capacity to act as peacekeepers and to ensure the provenance of our boundaries. The NDP would even alter the provisions under which the civil powers (represented by a provincial government) may demand military aid to the civil powers (represented by provincial governments). The NDP would let peace-minded citizens direct a portion of their taxes from the defence budget to a ``peace fund.'' As yet one cannot figure what a Jean Chretien government would do on defence policy, even though it is obvious at least a score of Liberal MPs have a keen high interest in the matter. It is a fair assumption the Liberal defence policy will be less imitative of the NDP than it has seemed the past year or so with Lloyd Axworthy as lead spokesman in the House. The brutal switch by the caucus in Parliament from Axworthy's stress on peace and sanctions to a vote with the government on taking active part in the Gulf war showed the division that Chretien must bridge with some substance in policy intentions. It's possible Axworthy and other determined ex-ministers like Warren Allmand and Charles Caccia will prevail. They share the NDP's antagonism to U.S. foreign and defence policies. Whatever the political party, the defence policy Canada has or should have literally begins with our relations with the U.S. as continental and global power. Of course, the current onus for a defence policy is not the responsibility of the Liberals or the New Democrats. The present policy costs $12 billion this year. It uses 86,000 military personnel and 32,000 public servants. And, apparently, Marcel Masse is in charge. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Wednesday, May 22, 1991 ID: 12932947 TAG: 199105220125 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER HOT RUMORS ... AND COLD FACTS A sweet but improbable tip was floated in the Toronto Star last week and amplified by Michel Vastel, the busiest French-language journalist covering Ottawa: That Brian Mulroney seemed to be preparing for his own departure from politics, and so was grooming Joe Clark as his replacement as prime minister and party leader. The key evidence? Giving Clark the ``unity'' writ. The print rumor triggered much gossipy speculation but only a couple of elements one could associate with it make any sense. Firstly, Clark would probably be the choice of the caucus now to fill Mulroney's role if the PM should have a sudden and massive heart attack. Secondly, if under Clark's lead Parliament reaches and approves a proposal to offer Quebec, which Premier Bourassa and his party accept, Clark's credibility and popularity will far overshadow Mulroney's for a time. Otherwise, the suggestion that Mulroney is planning to retire and transfer the office to Clark before the next general election doesn't fit with the ego, stubbornness and pride of the man. Nor should one forget the gap between Clark and Mulroney on economic issues. The PM reminds me of John Diefenbaker in his awareness of posterity's judgments. Among the credits he wants in history books, beyond keeping Quebec in the federation, is the appreciation that he reshaped the Canadian economy, freeing the private sector, privatizing a horde of Crown corporations and mastering the linked issue of deficits and debt. Of course, one must consider the family factors. The PM is more thoroughly a family man than many people realize. It is a very close, very affectionate family. If Mila Mulroney should decide it's time to leave, or if several of the children (say the teenagers) were really unhappy, then the husband and father would consider it seriously. I'm sure he often contemplates retirement, that he mulls over when and how, even who it is he would like to succeed him, even which of the possibles would be best for the party and the country. Mulroney's the sort of politician whose stream of consciousness (and probably his dreams) always plays with chances and possibilities. In that sense, the story in the Star was not far-fetched. Sure, he's thought about quitting soon . . . or before the next election. But be sure the Clark-McTeers snorted at the story. A reminder that it's two weeks to Census '91. If you are faced with question No. 15 on ethnic origins or cultural origins of your ancestors it is legitimate to insist they were ``Canadian.'' But the census form lists only these 15 suggestions: French; English; German; Scottish; Italian; Irish; Ukrainian; Chinese; Dutch (Netherlands); Jewish; Polish; Black; North American Indian; Metis; Inuit/Eskimo. You can specify ``Canadian'' if you believe that is your ethnicity. I intend to because on both parental sides and back to great-grandparents, my ancestors were born in Canada and I am appalled by the divisiveness of multiculturalism and ethnicking with their demeaning consequences for our Canadian identity. A price of $19.95 is fancy for the recent major study from the Economic Council of Canada, titled Economic and Social Impacts of Immigration, and it has more bows to the wonders of tolerance than most Canadians critical of our immigration and refugee programs will like. But with those caveats, I recommend the book because it debunks well some of our myths on immigration, including some that are pro-immigration, some anti-immigration. The report strikes down the idea that immigration has caused or is causing loss of jobs among those already in the work force. In a modest way, the impact of immigrants in the economy is to expand demand (e.g., for housing) and cause the creation of new jobs. Further, immigrants, even in larger numbers than Canada has been taking in, have not had and will not have much effect on pensions costs. That is, a huge influx of younger immigrants to carry the growing pension burden represented by our growing number of people over 65 doesn't stand up to economic analysis. On the other hand, the line that a fair number of immigrants (the entrepreneurs!) bring substantial finances to Canada doesn't stand up. The report proves that by far most immigrants do get substantial economic benefits from establishing in this country. Although most recent immigrants can be classified as of the visible minorities, and although by far most of them have come to live in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, all the surveys the council appraised indicate there is less, rather than more, intolerance in these metropolitan regions than 10 to 20 years ago. The council's report doesn't really deal with two corollaries of this influx to the big places: a) the intolerance and the unfamiliarity with visible minorities in so much of Canada; b) the domination of network and other news and public affairs by Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver which leads to purveying the imperatives of visible minorities and exaggerating their proportions to so many Canadians who neither meet nor associate with any of them beyond what they take in from TV. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Sunday, May 19, 1991 ID: 12932603 TAG: 199105190159 EDITION: Final SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle PAGE: C3 COLUMN: In Ottawa SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER A PESSIMISTIC VIEW OF CANADA'S FUTURE Will Canada hang together? I think not. It's my reading from a long watch on the ``two nations.'' My dour projection goes against the grain of my previous column, which sketched a battery of reasons why tangible optimism is at last beginning to emerge on Parliament Hill. These were the reasons of those becoming positive. Arguably the best available politician, Joe Clark, is now marshalling the means to make Quebec an offer it cannot refuse; and Quebec is personified for at least another three years by an indubitable federalist, Premier Robert Bourassa. Despite the bitter, chippy partisanship of Parliament, the three, big parties are ready for major constitutional adjustments. So seem most of the premiers. The Spicer forum uncovered and encouraged a rush of affection for a Canada which must include Quebec. The Beaudoin-Edwards parliamentary committee has found scores of experts with constructive analyses and ideas for getting out of the crisis. And pervading everything is the recession. It has chastened everyone, Quebecois included. The fragility of our living standards in a fierce world is ever more obvious and the economic downside of severance even spookier. All right! Let me now sketch the factors, including deeply held feelings, which will likely dam the flow to a solution of the crisis caused by Quebec's post-Meech Lake ultimatum. To capsule the dilemma: a) Too little time (at the most 18 months); b) Too long and complex an agenda (this, as Clark says is ``a Canada round, not just a Quebec round; c) Too many participants with the power to negate (once again the odds which screwed up Meech - 10 provincial premiers and legislatures); d) Not enough common ground about Quebec among Canadians outside it (note the distrust of Quebec's aspirations implicit in the surging Reform Party); e) Not enough mutual interest between the ``two nations,'' in particular in an appreciation of a shared history and having done great things together. Put bluntly, most Quebecers are very interested in their own society and affairs and not at all interested in the rest of us. To personify the dilemma just think of two luminous personalities, Pierre Trudeau and Clyde Wells. For a few months they have been unobtrusive but only a fool forgets the huge influence they had - and have - on opinions in English Canada. In tandem Trudeau-Wells symbolizes the wide gulf between Bourassa-Parizeau. Before Brian Mulroney can bring ``the offer'' to Quebec next year, some means must be found to beat down the Trudeau-Wells vision. As I see it, this vision is the clearest, best defined one in English Canada, held by the most citizens. How in a short span do the saviors of Canada get past those who hold the twinned belief in a strong Ottawa and ``one Canada''? Nothing Clyde Wells has been saying shows a change of attitudes and, as with Meech, one premier and one province can block the presentation of ``the offer'' to Quebec. And neither Bourassa nor anyone else in Quebec politics would dare negotiate either publicly or in camera with Wells present. Even though Bourassa may be ready to go with much less than recommended by the Belanger-Campeau inquiry and far less than what was demanded by his own party's Allaire report, he cannot swallow and survive what I call Trudeau-Wells. And in the course which Joe Clark must manage in the next eight months, how does he get past what Trudeau-Wells represents? Not only must he circumvent an inherent English Canadian distaste for the ``distinct society'' proposition, he must manage either what we are now calling an ``asymmetrical'' arrangement for Quebec alone or craft a range of devolutions of powers for every one of the provinces, including half a dozen which are not seeking them. Also, think about the aborigines, and recall Elijah Harper as Meech Lake's hero. The saviors say there must be a role for aboriginal leaders and their aspirations in readying an offer to Quebec. If Wells in person and Trudeau in spirit do not confound the process, I wager the natives will. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Friday, May 17, 1991 ID: 12932363 TAG: 199105170196 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER CANADA: REASONS FOR OPTIMISM Is it swinging the other way? Is the worst over? Is Canada as we have known it almost safe . . . again? You might think familiar federalism is fine from the speeches in Parliament by the leaders of the three major parties. On unity, Brian Mulroney, Jean Chretien and Audrey McLaughlin have been patriotic and remarkably upbeat. Despite doubts on the competence of others, the leaders have had a common theme: It's unthinkable something so worthwhile as Canada should be dissolved. Further, all are determined there must be open participation by ``the people of Canada'' in discussing, defining, and approving a freshened Constitution. The leaders are also determined the constitutional propositions shall encompass more than a mere ``Quebec round.'' The west shall have its run for a reformed Senate. ``Charter groups'' such as aboriginals and ethnics must participate; their rights and roles will be placed and preserved in the Constitution. Both the processes underway or forecast and the necessary scope of the package to be put before Quebec within the next 13 months seems to guarantee a gush of constitutional debate beyond what's been flowing from the forums and letter-writing sponsored by the Spicer group or through the profuse ``expert'' evidence put before the parliamentary committee on the Constitution, chaired by Sen. Gerald Beaudoin and MP Jim Edwards. Brian Mulroney is insisting now that everybody has a part in this emergency. To galvanize the constitutional industry even more he will have another parliamentary committee. It will roam widely and think deeply. It will hear anyone with ideas about the Constitution through the last third of 1991. Also, for months the PM has had a high-level crew of mandarins working on constitutional propositions. He has expressed doubts on both the efficacy of a constituent assembly or of national referendums on constitutional proposals, but will not rule them out. Meanwhile, federalism is looking better on the constitutional front in Quebec. Even though Premier Robert Bourassa stands by his refusal to partake in first ministers' conferences and is having the National Assembly enact a bill to enable a referendum on sovereignty or something like it by late fall next year, it's very clear now that he really wants this last ``offer'' from the federal government and the governments of the other provinces before Quebecers vote. And Bourassa's minister for constitutional affairs, Gil Remillard, talks far more sympathetically about federalism now than he did in the half year after Meech collapsed. Last week Pierre Bourgault, author of the new book Now or Never!, told me: ``I know Robert Bourassa is a federalist, a deeply engrained federalist.'' Bourgault is now an elder statesman among Quebec separatists, respected even by federalists as a fair, responsible citizen. He acknowledges with a reluctant admiration that Bourassa is a ``diabolically clever politician.'' Bourassa, he says, will do everything possible to keep Quebec in Canada, so long as it won't cost him power. Recent opinion polls in Quebec fit nicely with Bourassa's real preferences and Brian Mulroney's current confidence on the Constitution's future. The polls show the enthusiasm for sovereignty or independence has fallen sharply among Quebecers from a fall/winter peak that indicated the sovereignty ticket would breeze to victory in a referendum. To all these indicators of a continuing federalism, even a triumphant federalism, let me add two others which one may take from the work of the Spicer forum and the hearings of the Beaudoin-Edwards committee. I draw a two-fold impression from the Spicer exercise: a) A mighty affection for Canada is stirring among people outside Quebec, however fuzzy, immediate, and unhistorical it may be; b) Despite evidence of a dissenting minority, most of those who so cherish Canada assure Quebecers they are wanted; that without Quebec, Canada is unthinkable. Most Canadians are unaware the Beaudoin-Edwards committee on a ``process for amending the Constitution'' has held many hearings and heard scores of witnesses across Canada. The quantity and quality of the witnesses and their presentations have been impressive. The MPs and senators on the committee have set and kept a high standard as good listeners and of questioners. They've featured the witnesses, not themselves or their party's lines. Despite what seem myriad choices advanced by the lawyers, political scientists, historians, sociologists and economists who've come forward, there are four strong common threads. Firstly, there's a general recognition that Quebec has needs which must be met, that can no longer be fudged or delayed. Secondly, a really radical restructuring of Canada's political system will be necessary to get Quebec to stay within a Canadian Constitution. Thirdly, Canada's durability is dubious without Quebec. Lastly, the likelihood Quebec will declare independence unilaterally is strong enough to require serious consideration now of the system and Constitution which will make sense if it happens. This has been a run through the evidence and argument which suggests an offer will go to Quebec and it won't reject it. On Sunday I'll explain why I remain pessimistic on keeping Canada together. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Wednesday, May 15, 1991 ID: 12932041 TAG: 199105150160 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER PARLIAMENTARY PIE IN THE SKY No political document deserves less analysis than the federal speech from the throne, and not merely because of its freight of banal platitudes. Monday's effort was the traditional, largely vapid hodgepodge. In part, the vapidity comes from sentences like the following: - ``Let no one doubt the seriousness of the challenges we face as a country.'' - ``Canada is inescapably part of the global economy.'' - ``Our children are the most important yet most vulnerable members of our society.'' - ``The respect of the people for Parliament and parliamentarians is essential for a healthy democracy.'' - ``Change is the hallmark of our age.'' - ``Honorable members . . . history will be the judge of the decisions you make on these critical issues.'' Vapidity also comes from hyperbole like this: - ``My government has privatized and eliminated 24 Crown corporations and streamlined virtually all government departments and agencies.'' And who with any savvy of politics takes seriously pious nonsense such as this: - ``Proposals will be put that address . . . these three major concerns of the Canadian people and my government . . . unity, prosperity and government responsiveness. I am confident that the importance of these issues will persuade all parliamentarians to put Canada first, set partisan motives and calculations aside and work together for a stronger country.'' Yes, speeches from the throne are unmemorable, and already I have been too long on the triteness of this one. However, one particular assay in it, titled Parliamentary Reform, is fascinating and improbable. It's elaborated but hardly clarified in an an accompanying ``background paper'' to the speech. Parliamentary reform is a topic to which I've given scores of columns over 30 years. Long chastened by the continuing gulf between ideal politics and political practice of the House of Commons, I cannot imagine new, reform propositions which would be acceptable or truly alter the stock partisan behavior of MPs. Of course, their behavior is sustained by the persistent penchant of reporters in accentuating and scorning any flicker from the party line by any MP. For an MP with a love and respect for the House such as Stanley Knowles displayed, there are 100 like Sheila Copps or Nelson Riis. These are the archetypal MPs, the standard indefatigables who must always cry havoc. They symbolize and characterize the House question period. And charade though the question period is, and has been for a generation, it is the core of Parliament for both MPs and the public. It is the symbol and the prime function of Parliament. Question period went awry and began to lose any general respect for fairness or truth some four or five Speakers ago. It's now well beyond the shaping, let alone the neutral control, of the incumbent, John Fraser. And through the pickings by news producers from the videotapes of House question periods we now have the prevalent mores of politics: Damnation and denials; absolute wrong rebutted by absolute righteousness. As question period became the opposition's certain theatre for TV news exposure, the other work of Parliament has been lamed or quirked by the readiness of the opposition caucuses to use any procedural device to block or stall legislation. Much of this was cued by the NDP, moved by its third party desperation to be seen and heard. Now even the senators have fully joined such partisan gamesmanship. The Mulroney government says it will ask MPs ``to consider new procedures for assessing legislation, for raising grievances on behalf of constituents and for questioning governments . . . to further enhance the role of individual members . . . and their greater independence.'' The background paper says much of the public debate about reform of Parliament ``is focused on free votes.'' Maybe it has. I wasn't aware of it. I have never heard a single MP, government side or opposition, wish openly for votes free of his or her party's line. Nor have I heard anything either concretely or metaphorically from citizens on the physical arrangements of Parliament. But now the government says these ``visually and physically reinforce the `we and them' phenomenon which largely dictates the outcome of votes.'' The government's argument goes from a far too partisan Parliament to the assertion that ``attitudinal and behavioral changes must accompany any changes to the written rules.'' Indubitably! But how do you get attitudes of MPs changed and their behavior altered in a Parliament where party leaders are almost always the most partisan and also rarely attend the House before or after question period? What changes in rules, what altered processes, might crib a Copps or a Harvie Andre into courtesy and out of black and white partisanship? What ways are there for assessing legislation which would allow votes by MPs somewhere between the presentation and passage without regard to the views of leaders and caucuses? It will be fine and amazing if the government presents (as the backgrounder projects) ``new procedures'' for consideration by MPs to curb partisanship, give freer voting chances, and allow more questions and more raising of grievances. From the past record such a presentation is improbable. If it should be made, its acceptance seems impossible. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Sunday, May 12, 1991 ID: 12931637 TAG: 199105120184 EDITION: Final SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle PAGE: C6 COLUMN: In Ottawa SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER A NEW SESSION, BUT THE SAME OLD WORRIES Despite a new session, a well-shuffled cabinet, much-changed procedural rules, and a ceremonial speech from the throne, there isn't any sense of a fresh start on Parliament Hill. Even those Canadians who take citizenship casually can figure why worry, not enthusiasm, prevails in the federal party caucuses. Either the recession or a departure from Canada by Quebec is a downer for MPs; together they're brutalizing. And each member notes the pollsters' readings which repeat what most MPs know: The electorate is much fractured and chary of Tories, Liberals, New Democrats - and their respective leaders. The MPs of English Canada worry about Preston Manning and his Reform Party. The 65-odd MPs from Quebec who are not Bloc Quebecois worry about Lucien Bouchard and pray Premier Robert Bourassa really is, deep down, a federalist. Last week, as scores of MPs came to Ottawa for caucus meetings preliminary tomorrow's start of the new session, few I met wanted to talk about leaders or the inadequacies of Brian Mulroney, Jean Chretien and Audrey McLaughlin in attaining or rekindling public enthusiasm. It is easy to find Tory MPs from outside Quebec who acknowledge the prime minister is heartily disliked in his or her bailiwick. Contrarily, it is hard to get Liberals and New Democrats to go on the record about their leaders' public status and prospects; yet any rambling chats with them usually leads from concern over layoffs and plant and store closings to doubts or puzzlement over the popular images of Chretien or McLaughlin. Most Liberals are baffled at Chretien's disasters. Most New Democrats are anxious over the belaboring which their premier of Ontario is getting, largely because they admit the extended public honeymoon of McLaughlin has slipped away, replaced by massive indifference. They say, and refer to favorable media pieces to support it, that ``Audrey is coming along well.'' So much of a bright federal future for the NDP MPs rests on Premier Bob Rae making a strong national impression by demonstrating the party is most capable in economic management. Rae is their surrogate bellwether, nationally. His success would enhance McLaughlin. So NDP MPs back Rae's policy directions as shown in the Ontario budget, but they note and fear the scale and ferocity of the assault on him and his first budget. The Liberals are odd. They are both far cockier than New Democrats about forming the next federal government than you might expect from recent opinion poll percentages, yet they are very uneasy on whether their leader and their policy positions are good enough to dominate a five-cornered battle to the election in '93. Ask a Liberal MP about killing the free trade deal or the GST, or getting out of NATO, or instituting a full, federal child care program, or revivifying VIA Rail or giving the CBC regularized, generous funding. Rarely do you get a clear-cut answer. But even more, the Liberals chew over why the voters outside Quebec are so impatient with Chretien. How could the author-hero of Straight from the Heart, the political best-seller of all time, wither so quickly? Neither Liberals nor New Democrats will talk directly about turfing their leader nor about alternatives. Clearly, neither party has an alternative at hand, in the way the Tories have in either Joe Clark or Michael Wilson or Perrin Beatty if Mulroney should make his exit. It's a good bet at this point that the present party leaders - Mulroney, Chretien, McLaughlin, Manning, and Bouchard - will be in place when the '93 election comes. For bettors the best longshot is that Chretien would be the most likely absentee, driven to an early exit if the Liberals hang in the low 30s in the Gallups through the next fall and winter. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Friday, May 10, 1991 ID: 12931386 TAG: 199105100190 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER MISREPRESENTATION BY COMMITTEE One of the worst committees of the House of Commons in my times weighed in this week with a report titled The Summer of 1990. The report got leading-edge news coverage and so did the key MPs behind it: Chairman Ken Hughes, an Alberta Tory, Ethel Blondin, a Liberal from the Western Arctic and Robert Skelly, a B.C. NDPer. The media took the recommendations seriously but uncritically, perhaps because of their unusual cachet - not being damned out of hand by Indian chiefs. The aboriginal affairs committee had seven regular members and 28 other MPs took part in some hearings. Two members are Indian: Blondin and Willie Littlechild, an Alberta Tory. The committee made three recommendations. The first was recently accepted by the PM - a royal commission on the constitutional place and the rights, including land claims and self-government, of ``the First Nations in Canada.'' The second wants a review of that part of the National Defence Act which requires Ottawa give military aid when asked for by a civil power (i.e., a provincial government). The third wants the establishment of four different ``independent'' bodies to handle aboriginal land claims and settle any disputes: From appraising the validity of claims; to approving them; to monitoring their implementation; to mediating consequent land use disputes. For Oka, specifically, the committee had four recommendations. The first asks Ottawa to ensure that the ``Six Nations `Iroquois' Confederacy be involved and consulted in the process of seeking a resolution of governance issues.'' In short, bring in the chiefs, faithkeepers and clan mothers from both the U.S. and Canada for settling who is entitled to lead and decide for the Mohawks at Kanesatake. The second point is the most weighty, yet the most bootless: An independent judicial inquiry on the barricades at Oka and Chateauguay which searches into the Quebec policing and judicial practices that affect the aboriginal people there. Thirdly, the MPs want both a mediator and an arbitrator appointed to settle land use matters at Kanesatake. Finally, they want ``urgent steps . . . to provide healing and compensation measures for the communities involved.'' I take this to mean lots of dollars, including cash for individuals. No politician outside Quebec dares ridicule these recommendations or the hearings which preceded them as shallow. The committee ducked the key issues at Oka last summer. Why so? Because the conventional wisdom in English Canada demands empathy, generosity and compassion for anything aboriginal. An MP dare not ask ``mean'' questions of aborigines about violence, threats, gross exaggeration, lies, political blackmail, apartheid, perpetual oligarchies, alcoholism, misuse of public funds, or the denial of processes such as elections or accountability for public funds. The conventional wisdom revels in guilt and the natives never let go on how cruelly we in our racist governments and communities have treated them - from Eric the Red to the colonizing Samuel de Champlain to the assimilationist Pierre Trudeau and the fork-tongued Brian Mulroney. Our priests and parsons, traders and storekeepers, teachers and bureaucrats, all have abused these guardians of nature and its heritage. Often the hearings of this House committee were a shambles with maladroit questioning. In particular, Blondin and Skelly never let the committee off the guilt trip. Few MPs asked, and none persisted with, hard questions for any native witness. The committee evaded two fundamental issues: a) The unprecedented, open, continuing possession and display of high-powered weaponry by a large gang of masked men; b) With whom among the Mohawks does anyone in an elective office, from prime minister to premier to mayor, reach a sustainable agreement? Who were the so-called Warriors? Where did they come from? Who directed them? How many live in Kanesatake? Did most Mohawks of Kanesatake welcome them? The committee report ignores the Warriors' issue. Maybe the MPs feel the wrongdoings of whites explains and justifies such terrorism. Police of two countries have made statements which link the Warriors and several of their leaders to the illicit, large-scale border traffic and sale of smuggled goods such as cigarettes and to gambling entrepreneurs at Akwesasne. The MPs weren't getting into such stuff. For them the Warriors' deeds, if not benign, were justified by centuries of oppression and deceit. The committee did lay general blame, but mostly on ministers of the Crown, municipal officials, the police, even the soldiers and, of course, on racist whites. Yet it would not appraise the Ramboism. The whole committee seems tacitly in line with the ridicule which the NDP member heaped on the police, the soldiers, and ``military overkill'' at Oka. The report itself describes in a jumbled way that there has been factionalism among the Mohawks for decades, particularly at Kanesatake. Two factions believe in quite different hereditary principles or traditions which determine leaders and approve decisions. In modern times, another faction (which waxes and wanes) accepts the democratic principle of majority votes, not rule by blood or inheritance. Maybe next month as the Assembly of First Nations votes for its new ``chief'' they could recommend the practice to the Mohawks and the MPs of the House committee. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Wednesday, May 08, 1991 ID: 12931062 TAG: 199105080167 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER QUEBEC 1, ONTARIO 0 Comparisons and contrasts come easier when there is a coincidence of occasions and documents, as we had last week in the budgets by the NDP government of Ontario and the Liberal government of Quebec. The first contrasts can be put bluntly: the speech and associated ``papers'' presented by Gerard Levesque, Robert Bourassa's minister of finance, are much more impressive than those presented by Floyd Laughren, the treasurer of Ontario. ``Impressive'' in being more informative and analytical, in being harder, in saying with clarity what the government wants to do and has been trying to do. This is a subjective judgment but it will stand up with anyone who reads the two sets. Of course, Levesque is on his seventh budget and this is Laughren's first, so the Quebecer should be clearer. Laughren has staked out a spending approach made necessary (he argues) by the deep recession blighting Ontario. This goes against the the grain of conventional wisdom orchestrated from Ottawa about restraint. In large part, Levesque agrees with Ottawa. He says ``We cannot continue to live beyond our means . . . for this reason, austerity will be the hallmark of the budget.'' And yet Levesque's papers include more critical assessments of both the recent management of the Canadian economy by Michael Wilson and John Crow (Bank of Canada) and the fiscal problems and economic tensions between Quebec and Ottawa. In comparison, it's almost embarrassing to follow the maundering in Laughren's appraisal of Ottawa-Ontario relationships or federal-provincial relations as a whole. Those who feel this too vicious about the Laughren budget should match the two documents. Contrast the plain, succinct directness in what Levesque has to say about supporting those with families and low-income with what Laughren says on the same subject. On helping the poor, the Quebecer is less emotional, more explanatory, and more specific. It isn't that he is less the missionary, for he explains proudly the role of the ``baby'' bonuses which the Bourassa government introduced several years ago, and why these are being further enriched. Again, on taxation, deficits, debt, and interest charges, Levesque spells out the choices, and their limitations, in particular why Quebec has to rule out any major increase in borrowing against the future. Again and again Levesque emphasizes the key role of private business but he never suggests his government should not be active and supportive in the economy. Laughren goes on about the many studies the NDP has underway, notably about taxation, particularly of private corporations. The NDP, federally and provincially, has always argued that private corporations in Canada are under-taxed. But Laughren is not as yet ready to legislate higher, more far-reaching corporate taxation. In lieu, he prefigures a rather fuzzy Utopian Ontario full of happy underdogs. What's exasperating about this latter theme is the absence of reasonable ways it may be achieved. Canada has a bad record from previous attempts by governments to get union and business leaders to pull together constructively. For the first time Ontario has a government which is widely backed by the trade unions of the province. Anyone who has followed Bob White of the Autoworkers, etc., and Leo Gerard of the Steelworkers lately knows this is their NDP government. This could make for a good start. At least organized labor in Ontario could be ``on side.'' But what White and Gerard have been saying (say about Boeing or about Algoma Steel) shows they are as adversarial as ever. Laughren's announcements that there will not be cuts in jobs or caps on wages for the Ontario public service is widely taken as evidence of a union-backed government. And such a tendency so to see the Rae government means the premier or Laughren should be specific about unions and corporations when they talk about ``integrated approaches'' and ``interrelationships'' or when they say ``a new economic strategy based on broad social partnerships is needed . . . and will require strategic public and private initiatives which allows partners to develop a sense of collective responsibility.'' Laughren even named the ``key participants - government, labor, business and community groups . . . in a concerted and co-operative approach.'' Fine stuff but instead of particulars about meshing union roles and business roles Laughren goes on like this: ``In this period of rapid technological and social change, greater co-operation in the workplace accompanied by greater security of employment income, will be vital both for workers and employers . . . The massive changes anticipated in what we produce and how we produce it will force employers and employees to venture into new territory.'' Then come Laughren's specifics. One can see CEOs shrivelling as they read them. For Ontario's new partnerships the NDP will ensure we have higher minimum wages, tougher legislation to enforce pay and employment equity, much stiffer environmental standards and tougher regulations for consumer protection. It's worse than bootless for a new government backed by organized labor to declare a new partnership which includes business, then to detail an agenda which will send businesses charging out of Ontario. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Sunday, May 05, 1991 ID: 12930661 TAG: 199105050155 EDITION: Final SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle PAGE: C3 COLUMN: In Ottawa SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER QUEBEC'S PLAYING A DOUBLE GAME There follows three fascinating extracts from remarks I heard or read last week. Allan Cairns, a UBC professor, starred at a hearing of the the parliamentary committee examining our constitutional process. He got on to gamesmanship. The MPs, he said, were in ``a save-the-country game to find a way of reconciling Quebec . . . ``That is the one game. The other game, however, is a break-up-the-country game. This is brutally clear with respect to Quebec. We have been informed that a referendum will be held in Quebec by the end of 1992 that will ask one of two possible variants of a question, one of which would be: Do the citizens of Quebec accept the constitutional package . . . worked out between the Quebec government and the other actors in the Canadian constitutional process so that Quebec can continue to be a member of the Canadian constitutional order? ``However, failing that agreement being struck among governments . . . the people of Quebec will be confronted with a referendum question that will . . . ask them to consider the desirability of becoming an independent people. ``So Quebec is clearly simultaneously playing both constitutional games. Quebec is playing let us see what can be gained by continuing membership in the Canadian federal system, but simultaneously saying we have a back-up option that is, if the attempted rapprochement with our concerns does not succeed, we will consider this other outcome . . . The Quebec government can play this within-federalism game, and if it comes to that, it can play the exit-from-federalism game . . . How can the rest of Canada play both games and play them at the same time? . . . Can the 10 governments - not counting Quebec - play the rest-of-Canada game effectively? My argument is that they cannot or they can do it only with grave difficulties.'' That is the way it is! During the Gulf war a lot of Canadians saw its media coverage, in particular by CBC News and The Journal, as tilted: Anti-American, even pro-Iraqi. Others, even more vociferous, felt our news media grossly aped the savoring of the war and their military by the Americans. Last week CBC Newsworld repeated a tape of a gathering of CBC reporters from abroad before a Toronto audience. At it, Brian Stewart, a splendid journalist, was briefly testy. He asked if it was wrong to report when the military performed well, with impressive logistics. He said: ``Somehow the assumption I gather from some people was that all our coverage should have been somehow negative, that everything was an expose of a mess or a fiasco in the war, that we didn't constantly hammer home on that, that somehow we were letting down the war coverage.'' Given the fierceness of anti-Americanism in Canada that was brave of Stewart. Meanwhile, elsewhere, another CBC luminary was brave, perhaps foolhardy. Elly Alboim, Ottawa bureau chief of CBC TV News, is seen by many of us as Canada's most powerful journalist. Recently Alboim was hived by a Queen's notable, John Meisel. The professor argued from remarks Alboim made a few years ago on the Meech accord that it was ``patently obvious the CBC was bitterly hostile and was trying to drum up commentators that would attack it.'' In a defence (in the Ottawa Citizen, May 1) Alboim mocked the case that he had fostered a surreptitious campaign against the accord; and almost en passant he said this: ``He (Meisel) questions my assessment that personal rivalry with Pierre Trudeau was Mulroney's sole motivation in negotiating the accord. I should not have suggested that. It was obviously an overstatement.'' Whew! That's zipping past the crux, which surely is: With a mind-set like that flickering at its top, how fair can the biggest media force in politics be? The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Friday, May 03, 1991 ID: 12589914 TAG: 199105030173 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER ONTARIO'S WASTELAND Those of us still or once of Northern Ontario had great hopes for the first budget by an NDP government. Treasurer Floyd Laughren has represented Nickel Belt riding for 20 years. House Leader Shelley Martel and her father Elie before her have held a Sudbury riding even longer. The NDP and the CCF before it have been real factors in federal and provincial elections in Northern Ontario for half a century. Did Laughren and company remember the North of the province in the budget? Yes . . . but not with much. Was their analysis and concern for the region clear in either the budget or its associated papers? Yes . . . but not much. Laughren spent 300 words on Northern Ontario, opening with: ``Many northern communities, particularly single-industry towns, are under extreme pressure from long-term structural challenges. The north has the highest unemployment rate of any region in the province.'' What did Laughren have for this region with 80% of Ontario's acreage but just a twelfth of its people? In dollar terms, northerners will now save $15 million a year by not having to pay for their car registrations. Northerners who must travel far for health care will find a special travel fund has $3.4 million more in it. And funds for Northern Ontario from a special anti-recession program will be four times larger than if allocation was on a per capita basis. Sapping this rather niggling generosity is the jump in the gasoline tax. Probably the NDP's biggest bonanza for the north is the $55 million more to be thrown this year at Indian bands, some half of which are in Northern Ontario. Northern Ontario is a gargantuan, shield-shaped belt, roughly 500 miles deep from Hudson Bay to the Upper Lakes and the French River, and 1,000 miles wide from Quebec to Manitoba. It divides into two huge blocs: Northeastern Ontario with three sub-regions, the Clay Belt, Nickel Range and Algoma; and Northwestern Ontario with three massive parts, the Lakehead, Fort Frances and Kenora. If a resident of Red Lake visits Queen's Park, his round trip by car is almost 2,700 miles. Gas, from Kenora east to Temiskaming, is priced at 15-30 cents a gallon more than in Southern Ontario. The handiest way to see the region's layout in people and their problems is through its scatter of locales, each tributary to a small city or town as, from west to east: Kenora, Thunder Bay, Hearst, Kapuskasing, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, North Bay, Timmins and Kirkland Lake. Since 1900 the region has staged from exciting frontier to widespread development with a fair stability based on forestry, mining, and transport, then into stagnation and, since the '60s, toward a Newfoundland-like destiny. Laughren's term for the region's dilemma - ``long-term structural challenges'' - is euphemistic and almost deceitful. Northern Ontario is a national dilemma. Maybe, in economic terms, the national dilemma. In Ottawa, governments act as if Canada's transition from a resource-based economy to manufacturing, hi-tech, and service industries has gone well. The slurring phrase, ``hewers of wood and drawers of water,'' is passe. But if you think our high living standards largely emerged out of exploiting natural resources on a grand scale for export, you wonder how we will do without such vast trade. You know its components: Lumber, pulp and paper from the forests; gold and base metals from the mines; grains in huge quantities from the west for overseas sales; and to a lesser degree, but still worthwhile, fish and furs. Sheer size and location make transportation basic for Northern Ontario. Thunder Bay's recession owes much to the skid in the flow of grain from the west, and from less potash and iron ore moving by rail to the port. Railway jobs and lake shipping jobs, including the grain trade, are a third of what there were in the '60s. The dominant industry at the Soo, Algoma Steel, is near death. At Kapuskasing, the most successful pulp and paper operation in Ontario's history is ready to pack up. Hearst, to Kap's west, a logging, pulp-cutting, saw-milling town is way down, crushed by the softwood export tax and high shipping costs to the American market. Fewer gold mines are working from Timmins to Red Lake. Hemlo euphoria has faded, with far fewer jobs than predicted. Elliot Lake is ghost-town bent. Each pulp and paper operation, from Kenora to the Lakehead, Red Rock, Terrace Bay and Marathon, the Soo, Smooth Rock Falls and Sturgeon Falls, is plagued by the high costs of wood and anti-pollution imperatives. Northern Ontario has only one growth industry now - Indianism. Tens of millions flow from Ottawa and Queen's Park to sustain the aboriginals, but with a rare exception like booming Sioux Lookout, ``the Ojibway capital,'' Indianism is a minor counter to forest, mining, and transport industries in decline. Tourism has been a moderate factor and modest hope in parts of Northern Ontario reached readily from the border states, but last year a highway official told me that car traffic moving east and west on the Trans-Canada from Winnipeg to Sudbury-North Bay is half what it was 20 years ago. NDP ministers like Floyd Laughren, Shelley Martel, and Bud Wildman know well the decaying economy and the regression in the municipalities of Northern Ontario. Such awareness has small witness in the Ontario budget of 1991. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Wednesday, May 01, 1991 ID: 12592404 TAG: 199105010144 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER RAE'S RUINING AUDREY'S CHANCES In Toronto, with pious slogans on ``sustainable development,'' the treasurer of Ontario issued the first budget of the NDP government. In Edmonton, the federal leader of the NDP told Albertans why the surge of the Reform Party is not significant for her party, however much it shall hurt Tories and Liberals. If kept within a western context, much of Audrey McLaughlin's reasoning is fair. But the Reform Party, west or east, will be far less relevant to her future than what's emerging in Ontario through the highly moral conduct and the spending policies of Premier Bob Rae and Treasurer Floyd Laughren. In comparison, freedom from the Reform Party blight seems a petty advantage for the NDP. During ascendant periods in the opinion polls the New Democrats begin to see power in sight in Ottawa. So recently they have been saying, and we in the media have been confirming, that at last the NDP is a genuine ``major'' party - a real alternative government in the next federal campaign. The surprising and solid victory in last September's Ontario election seemed the final, needful witness to major status. If the NDP reigns in the linchpin province, with almost 40% of Canada's population, and is the leading opposition party in the four western provinces, surely ascendancy across the land is at hand. Right! Well . . . for a few months some of us thought so. But we did not allow for the dual misfortunes of a fast-deepening economic depression in central Canada and a sudden, shocking popularity in Quebec for the pursuit of sovereignty, even separation. Further, those of us who took Ontario's vote as prelude to a nation at last ready for social democratic ideas and values overlooked several realities about the NDP as organization and as an ideology. After half a century's hard trying the NDP (or its antecedent CCF) has been unable to establish and sustain a steady, working organization with a base of members in Quebec. It has not created and cannot yet sustain its own continuance in Quebec, either as a general factor or in Quebec's ridings, federal or provincial. In Edmonton, Audrey McLaughlin stressed that she ``continues to be the only national leader willing to stand up for a strong national government'' whereas ``the Conservatives, Liberals and Reform Party are talking more and more about the need to dismantle the federal government.'' Such remarks are stock, partisan stuff but they do mirror a real aspect of the NDP. Unfortunately, it is a leading reason why the NDP and the CCF before it made little impact on Quebec. The Quebecois do not want to stand up for a strong national government (except in Quebec City). The inherent NDP weakness in Quebec almost demanded its establishment as a major power of Ontario politics. If it carries Ontario federally and builds marginally on its proven strength in the West it has a shot at federal power, likely as good as what Bob Rae and the Ontario branch of the party seemed to have a year ago. The NDP has another distinction from the two old parties beyond not having a base in Quebec. Now it is the only one of the federal parties whose writ (including membership and entitlement to take part in party work) runs federally and provincially across Canada except in Quebec. Of course, this reflects the beliefs of its members in the paramountcy of the national economy and national social system of health, welfare and pensions. This ideological and organizational integration of the NDP in both orders of government is seen as its most virtuous in what spread from the political ``laboratory'' of Saskatchewan under Tommy Douglas. Health insurance and medicare spread from there to the rest of Canada. Because of a more blurred ideology and quite distinct organizations it's much easier for a Gary Filmon or a Grant Devine to make and keep a distance in policies and personnel from his federal brethren. But provincial leaders of the NDP have a harder time distinguishing themselves from what Audrey McLaughlin and her caucus are up to, and vice-versa. Polling has indicated we have NDP governments-in-waiting in B.C. and Saskatchewan (particularly in B.C.) led by Mike Harcourt and Roy Romanow. Now the high deficit and the provincial party's determination to spend Ontario out of its depression will be awkward for these leaders, but nothing like as awkward as for Audrey McLaughlin and her caucus over the months up to the federal election. How will Laughren's $10 billion deficit, and the refusal to cut back or put caps on public service personnel and pay, damage the federal NDP? The New Democrats may rail at the hypocrisy and the unfairness of it all, but a dread message has been hammered home by Michael Wilson, John Crow, chambers of commerce, the Business Council, etc. A lot of Canadians have got the message, in particular middle to high-income people with considerable security in job or profession. More Canadians ``have'' or think they have than ``have not.'' And they have been spooked by big deficits and huge debt charges. The spectre of a McLaughlin-Steven Langdon combo in office federally with identical imperatives to those which moved Rae-Laughren to triple Ontario's deficit in one swoop will ruin McLaughlin's chances to form a federal government . . . that is, unless the economic disaster gets far worse than it is. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Sunday, April 28, 1991 ID: 12591649 TAG: 199104280158 EDITION: Final SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle PAGE: C6 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER INSIDE DOPE ON THE SHUFFLE DATELINE: Ottawa A colleague of John Crosbie told me why a shift from the globe-girdling trade post to fisheries was not a downer for the Newfoundlander. ``What counted was not fisheries, but taking over as minister for the purposes of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency Act from Elmer MacKay.'' Now Crosbie has resources to command, or, in old-fashioned terms, the regional patron's role. Just 20 hours before the shuffle was revealed the only new minister in it - Pauline Browes of Scarboro Centre - was unaware of promotion. A long tussle went on internally between Metro ministers Mike Wilson and Barbara McDougall, who insisted Toronto had lost a place (Allan Redway) and must have it back, and non-Metro ministers who argued any add-on should come from west or well north of Toronto. Metro won. Browes was preferred over David MacDonald (Rosedale), Bill Attewell (Markham), Patrick Boyer (Etobicoke-Lakeshore) and Garth Turner (Halton-Peel) as a better cheerleader, loyalist, and ethnicker. A sidebar from inside seems less authentic: That MacDonald refused the offer of cabinet rank. If MacDonald had accepted he would have vaulted to fourth place in cabinet precedence, behind Crosbie, ahead of Don Mazankowski. Many are baffled why Brian Mulroney bounced Doug Lewis from transport to solicitor general, replacing him with Jean Corbeil, previously minister of labor and minister of state (transport). The explanations I get stress Corbeil's assets, not Lewis' shortcomings. Corbeil was keen at his transport chore, and non-Quebec Tory MPs say he's the most collegial and likable of the Quebec ministers. Even more important, transport is a major portfolio and seen as such in Quebec. Yes, as their most sympathetic columnist, Michael Valpy, says: ``Ontario's Mew Democrats have an almost flawless record of principled government . . . '' Witness Bob Rae's appointment of Marc Eliesen, the deputy minister for energy, as chairman of Ontario Hydro, a very mighty Crown corporation. Certainly it's principled to remember friends and loyal service. I met Eliesen first in the '60s when he guided the federal NDP on economics. Yet just two years ago he was jobless, fired as boss of Manitoba Hydro after his patron, Howard Pawley, lost office. Eliesen was saved from the beach by consulting contracts from Ed Broadbent and his caucus; and when the NDP took over at Queen's Park, he hared there as a new deputy minister for Premier Rae. Now he has an even greater role than he had for the Manitoba NDP or for the B.C. NDP as policy mastermind for Dave Barrett. Eliesen's partisan utility reminds me of both David Cass-Beggs and George Cadbury, men venerated in the CCF-NDP as adjunct-advisers with ``know-how,'' ideologically sound and ever ready for party tasks. It's a nice irony that environmental zealots are critical of Eliesen's elevation, portraying him (accurately) as dam-builder and landscape-flooder. There will be far more on the death of Richard Hatfield, than on that of W.J. (Bill) Bennett, yet it's arguable the former premier of New Brunswick had less influence on national politics than the former president of the Iron Ore Company of Canada. Joe Clark beat Brian Mulroney handily for the Tory leadership in 1975. This seemed an end to Mulroney's chances in politics. Next year Bill Bennett gave Mulroney the cachet which he had lacked by selecting him as his successor at the ore company. But 40 years before this pregnant choice, Bennett entered politics as personal aide to C.D. Howe, and he remained close to ``the minister of everything'' from 1935 to 1957, either on his staff or as head of Atomic Energy of Canada. They were so close Bennett was a director of Howe's private holding company even as he held deputy-minister rank. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Friday, April 26, 1991 ID: 12591171 TAG: 199104260176 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER FACING QUEBEC'S ABORIGINAL ISSUE ``They want to be free, independent, and sovereign. Does that remind you of someone you know?'' - Pierre Bourgault in Now or Never: Manifesto for an Independent Quebec (Key Porter) Pierre Bourgault is an elder statesman among Quebec's separatists. I suggest members of Brian Mulroney's royal inquiry into aboriginal issues should read his advice on how the Quebecois should deal with Indian problems in Now or Never. Why? Because Bourgault slices through so much of recent, romantic and often apocalyptic cant by aboriginal leaders and white politicians. His analysis is frank, pungent and incisive. He faces and clears away a lot of the maudlin, guilt-inducing blather so prevalent - especially on television. His message to the Quebecois is plain. Don't duck the aboriginal issues any longer. Come to grips with those within your state-to-be who believe in a different nationhood. Bourgault begins his Indian chapter with the Oka fracas, asking: ``Who did the damage?'' His answer: ``We all did. The whites blinded themselves with self-inflicted guilt, while the aboriginal people shucked off all guilt by putting all the blame on their invaders. In both cases we lost all sense of reality. We'll have to get it back if we ever intend to solve the issue once and for all . . . The gap is now alarmingly deep between the first nations and the whites.'' Bourgault notes the polls show most Quebecers are sympathetic to the demands of the natives, and the latter ``don't feel any visceral hatred towards us; they're more inclined to seek peaceful solutions with us.'' It's not enough, he says, to brag that natives have had better treatment in Quebec than in all other provinces. ``Now Quebecers must go beyond generosity and begin a process of reason and justice.'' The Indians ``are sick of our charity . . . we have to show them we can be just. ``We have to start by getting rid of the federal government.'' That is, independentists can't boggle about Indians being `federal.' They must define a sovereign Quebec's policies. Show ``the first nations they're an integral part of the new Quebec which they can join as free and equal partners.'' Bourgault mocks the image many Quebecers have of the life on reservations: ``Idyllic, lazy, and parasitic;'' a grant-happy, welfare-backed, boozy existence. Quebecers must stop thinking ``who wants to take perpetual recriminations from such people? ``The reality,'' he says ``is something else again. They aren't happy because they're not free. It's as simple as that. True, they are dependent on us, but that's exactly what they find intolerable . . . They want to be free, independent and sovereign. ``All right, they cost us a lot of money, but that's because, on their narrow band of territory, they don't have the means to develop the economic structures and activities that would free them from need. ``On their side, they, too, have abandoned all sense of reality, especially when they start calling upon ancestral rights that take them back to a bygone era, denying contemporary history in the process. They have a habit of forgetting that a lot of things have happened in the past 300 years, and that now, in North America, there are 250 million non-aboriginal people who are here to stay.'' The Quebec reality, he says, is ``58,000 members of the first nations and 6,800,000 `immigrants.' No one has been here for 10,000 years. We've all been here for 20, 40, 60 or, at the most, 100 years. Our ancestors don't have to worry about living together; we, the living, do. No matter how the territory was conquered, the sons of the conquerors will never agree to being pushed into the sea. The aboriginal people will have to live with them, whether they like it or not.'' Indian traditions may be fine but they are no better than Quebecers'. Hunting and fishing - subsistence living - can now be a life for few, Indians or whites. ``The rest of them exist on fast food, just as we do,'' says Bourgault. Would they reject snowmobiles for dog teams? ``The reality is that life has changed for the first nations, as it has for us.'' Both Indians and whites must see the silliness in rebuilding their world around something that no longer exists. Their spiritual chiefs are no better than ours, says Bourgault, nor are their attitudes or concerns for flora and fauna. As for their politics of consensus, that's fine for village politics. It doesn't work well in a highly complex society. ``Let's start to rebuild the world from 1991 onward,'' says Bourgault. Escape from the legal labyrinth of centuries. Get the cause of the first nations out of the white courts. Negotiate on a new basis! In 1985 the Quebec National Assembly recognized 10 distinct first nations. Bourgault says assume these nations have the right to self-determination and the right to exercise sovereignty over the territories that belong to them. ``That's where negotiations should begin.'' He suggests the priorities in the negotiations with nine questions and responses for each. For example, on the possible forms of self-government, the size and location of the territories, the border and trading arrangements, the accords and treaties needed, the political contract between the first nations and Quebec and so on. In sum, a very direct process - and Mulroney's commissioners should make that their prime aim, not rehashing 500 years. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Wednesday, April 24, 1991 ID: 12590585 TAG: 199104240153 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER PM SHUFFLED A WORN DECK Changing half the chores of the same mob is dull stuff. A cabinet, 37 strong, is refurbished by two additions and nineteen shifts. No one leaves so this was not a daring exercise. Let me characterize the two additions, then the switches, alphabetically. JEAN CHAREST (environment): In '86 the PM told me Charest and Bernard Valcourt were the most promising of all the ministers from his '84 sweep's additions. Later both screwed up and had to be dropped from cabinet. Now Charest's back in a higher role. (Valcourt also got a grander task). If Canada goes on and Charest survives the '93 election but the government does not, he should go even higher. PAULINE BROWES (aide minister at environment): She pairs oddly with the urbane Charest. Her choice will sober a dozen or so PC MPs from Southern Ontario who know they they merit cabinet rank as much or more than she does. Browes is a stubborn, aggressive, energetic, party loyalist. It is odd for Metro to have five ministers and Northern Ontario none. PERRIN BEATTY (communications): The nurture of a potential leader bumps along. This is Beatty's fifth ministry. He was neither a hit nor a flop at any of the first four, although he was less clueless in his last (health & welfare) than at defence. BENOIT BOUCHARD (health & welfare): This figures! The PM's No. 1 guy in Quebec is a plain talker and now he can take pension issues to a society thinking about what security there is in independence. PIERRE CADIEUX (sport and youth): He's a self-contained, dispassionate performer. His switch from solicitor general seems change for change, as is the switch of Doug Lewis from transport to solicitor general. Maybe the PM wants an anglo to speak on ``security'' if the Warriors rock Quebec this year. JOE CLARK (unity): The excuse for it all, and given what's up in the country, probably the only sensible choice the PM had. Clearly he stuck with Lowell Murray a year too long. Figuratively, Clark can make mincemeat of Jean Chretien far better than the PM can. He's also a more aggressive counter to Preston Manning than Don Mazankowski. JEAN CORBEIL (transport): The minister from Quebec most unknown in English Canada moves from labor to a high-profile ministry but one with far less significance to Quebec than Ontario or the West. Puzzling! ROBERT DE COTRET (secretary of state): His utility and so his survival hangs on a bureaucratic ability at reading and moving paper, not on his turgid, public performances. This ministry is less open but more administrative than what de Cotret had at environment. JOHN CROSBIE (fisheries and oceans): Most see his switch from trade as a demotion. It may be a good, even brilliant, move to have Crosbie play out his federal string in a ministry he knows so well. By not resigning from the ministry Crosbie left no hole for the persuasive Ross Reid, his protege and running mate in St. John's. Crosbie does give more bite and wit to the House as talk-shop than any other MP. MARCEL DANIS (labor): Smooth, careful, effortless in English or French, but not forceful or hard-edged. He won't screw up at labor but he'll not ring more bells than he could have at sport and youth. BARBARA McDOUGALL (external affairs): A hard-working, tough-minded, confident, partisan politician. Few are neutral; one likes or dislikes. She should be all right in the post if she sticks to scripts and doesn't philosophize. When she does that she seems inane. BILL McKNIGHT (agriculture): At last a patient, suffering, ministerial wheel-horse for Mulroney has the job a wheat farmer wants. He was sound at labor, muzzled and a muzzler at Indian affairs, and restrained at defence. SHIRLEY MARTIN (aide minister at transport): A switch from aide at Indian affairs. Why? Beats me. She was bemused at Indian affairs but who isn't? Perhaps the job needs French because Mulroney added it to Monique Landry, the inoffensive woman who remains aide at external affairs. MARCEL MASSE (defence): Not so funny as it looks. Yes, Marcel's a dilettante and tourist, reminiscent of Pierre Trudeau's John Roberts, but a Quebec republic must think about a defence force, eh? And a federal defence minister like Masse can put forward the grand successes of francophones in the Canadian forces. DON MAZANKOWSKI (finance): A sensible choice because of his long experience, conservatism, continuity, wide range, and broad backing in the caucus. The first finance minister since Walter Gordon without a university education. LOWELL MURRAY (Senate leader): Thankfully (say I) he loses his role on the Constitution to Joe Clark, but he has improved at countering the wily Allan MacEachen. BERNARD VALCOURT (employment and immigration): This switch (from fisheries) relieves McDougall of Metro frenzies over refugees and immigrants and it looses a charmer on English Canada who is little known west of Quebec. GERRY WEINER (multiculturalism and citizenship): An awkward, decent, confused, busybody. He will maunder copiously on any sentiment, noble or partisan. (I cherish him only as an exemplar, par excellence, of Westmount's eclipse.) MICHAEL WILSON (industry, etc.): He earned a break from finance but this keeps him close to the community in Canada which trusts him, and far better here than at external. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Sunday, April 21, 1991 ID: 12589794 TAG: 199104210184 EDITION: Final SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle PAGE: C3 COLUMN: In Ottawa SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER A LOT OF THINKING BEHIND THE SHUFFLE Joe Clark is one of our ablest politicians. It makes sense his talents should lead to a cabinet shuffle. Someone able must have a ministerial run at saving Canada and Clark is the best Mulroney has to hand. Nevertheless, on most shuffles I have become blase, ranking them on a par with federal budgets as far more interesting beforehand than afterward. When rumors of cabinet shifts rise and persist, so do several sorts of ratings and much divination on the likes and dislikes of the prime minister. Most of us know that no PM since Mackenzie King has relished telling a minister it's over. Further, we know that each PM since Lester Pearson has toyed with, then shot on by, the need for a brute reduction in the cabinet from the high 40s to the high 20s. At rumor time, the prime, rating exercise focuses on the incumbent ministers: Which ones deserve to be dropped, or should be kept, or could well be switched. Then come the inevitable (and often highly diverse) short lists of backbenchers, some who are deserving through performance, others whose significance comes from locale or partisan assets or gender or ethnicity. Far more than Pearson or Pierre Trudeau, Brian Mulroney tends to telegraph his main moves. Where he somewhat surprises is in the secondary shifts. After changes in a cabinet comes the rationalization and the forecasts of what the respective personalities and ambitions will do with their mandates. In both the anticipatory and the post-shuffle weighing of the players, it's apparent that reporters and commentators are influenced most by the handiest evidence -House and committee performance, especially at questions or responses. Also, most ministries have particular client groups or lobbies - bankers, or farmers, or Indians, or truckers, or trade unions, or welfare workers, or physicians, or the military and so on. Often the opinions of such groups determine the good or bad opinions of a minister which reach a prime minister, and also insinuate into media judgments. We know that bankers warm to Mike Wilson, aborigines jeer at Tom Siddon, farmers respect Don Mazankowski, the military likes Bill McKnight, immigration lawyers dislike Barbara McDougall and cultural lobbyists are confused by Marcel Masse. A third element in ratings of ministers or touted backbenchers can be ferreted from MPs of the government caucus. Who speaks well there, scoring points that get backing? And who doesn't register at all in caucus? What is not known and rarely guessed may be the most telling of all ratings, and certainly one that a prime minister does get. How is a minister as an administrator and at document-handling? Believe me, deputy-ministers and the senior mandarins in the PMO-PCO have such views, both on each minister and on many backbenchers. Mandarins hate scandals, and even Pearson and Trudeau before Mulroney had ministerial scandals and forced resignations. An appendix in Erik Nielsen's best-selling autobiography The House Is Not a Home (1989), sent a chill rippling through most of the Tory caucus. Could it be that Mulroney was using the complex, probing frame of analysis which his former deputy had developed for rating MPs? Nielsen's appraisal grid had five sections: 1) Knowledge; 2) abilities (eight of them); 3) effectiveness (in 11 aspects of political work); 4) leadership (in four aspects, including tactfulness); 5) loyalty (to party, to leader, to colleagues). And there were five columns for marks (from ``unsatisfactory'' to ``exceptional'') on the 27 different qualities or skills. It's unlikely Mulroney has taken up and now has the Nielsen ratings at hand for this shuffle. If he has, and follows them religiously, a third of this cabinet would be in judgmental peril. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Friday, April 19, 1991 ID: 12589280 TAG: 199104190187 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SERIES: Second of 2 parts SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER A NEW FAN OF THE POST OFFICE Could a morning's experience reverse a hard, derisive opinion firmed up through a quarter-century of schmozzle in the post office? I doubted the bravura of an emerging perfectibility at Canada Post from Harvie Andre, who answers for it in the House of Commons. So he said: ``Visit Canada Post HQ. Sit through the oral reports to Don Lander, the president. Then monitor the big board. You'll see. The national disaster isn't . . . any more.'' Andre was right. I went, and now I believe. Canada Post is better. Its death portents are wrong. It is at the gates to excellence. Before I got to Lander in his coruscating eyrie in south Ottawa, I digested Canada Post's reports. These showed it moved out of the red two years ago. Since 1986 there have been annual gains in revenues, total delivery quantities, shortened delivery times and better productivity per employee. Lander brought both assembly-line procedures and an obsession with product from the auto industry to this wide-spread, employee-heavy corporation where the ``political'' had always dominated. Everyone was a critic of the post office. Lander chose to fix on what is done in postal work, not on reactions to the service. And he chose to emphasize the overall unity of the work. Although most mail moves within a region, Lander went for more centralization of the whole from Ottawa. He knew that computer-based technology could show him at any time - say any Tuesday - where Friday's first class mail was, or where any of Canada Post's 270 big vans were, or the components in transit on any Air Canada flight. He wanted every major mis-sort or fouled delivery reported, even a mechanical fault which forced any changes in employee assignment. Around Lander's round table are 30 chairs. As I observed it, the morning report began at 8.30 and ran for 35 minutes. It was opened and shaped by a woman at a podium beside a large graphics screen. She called the subjects and a person responsible would report. She could throw up backing charts, graphs, etc. on the screen. The mood was serious, the pace brisk, and the intensity remarkable. Most reports took one to two minutes. After each, anyone with a question or an addendum would cut in. Lander was in and out of discussion of mail movement and flood forecasts and contract mailings, even to a letter-carrier hit by a car in Dartmouth, N.S. The PR man updated exhibits and good works. The systems man had ``down time'' and software notes. The information man indexed current stuff in print or on TV about Canada Post or its competitors. Each item that spelled trouble was ticketed for action and report. Faults were admitted. Blame assumed. Credit given. The scope, speed, and the sensitivity to time of the session astonished me. So did the overriding emphasis on performance: On moving product faster, more assuredly; on minding costs; on instant, high-level reactions to each or any snafu; in anticipating consumer demand; in facing customer anger. One long wall of the round table room is glass. Beyond is a huge, tripartite scoreboard, centered by an electronic map of Canada. Before the display are five operators, sitting at computers. They can overlay all roads and air routes on the map. A red bead flickered for a postal van in the ditch on Hwy. 401 until rescue for it came. The left panel carries rolling data on such items as delivery positions of color-coded mail, special mailings, even letter carriers off sick by postal centre. At any moment an operator can monitor where parcels are in the system or what courier mail is in transit. The central panel shows or traces all mail movement, by truck or plane. The right panel runs colored maps by region, showing weather, road conditions, bridges out, detours, etc. It reminded me of war rooms like NORAD's or even RAF Fighter Command in World War II. Canada Post is a highly timed, efficiency-obsessed operation, and during my glimpse at its HQ I forgot the familiar issues of postal politics such as intransigence in the big Montreal local of CUPW or union militants like Jean-Claude Parrot threatening chaos, or the much lamented destruction of rural communities and values through the closing of post offices. That's my hymn of praise to Canada Post as it has become. What follows is a brief digest on unity, unions, and rural post offices from Donald Lander. 1) Montreal postal conditions are no longer mercurial or unreliable. Surveys show proportionately more Quebecers are satisfied with postal service than other Canadians. Though sovereignty association or separation would be most grievous, Canada Post people are appraising consequences and choices for service, plant, and employees. 2) With the unions, trust is a little better, so are dealings between stewards and supervisors in many locales. Labor relations remain touchy; negotiations are arduous; the public vocabulary is still foreboding. Nonetheless, Lander sees a fair settlement with CUPW this summer. His optimism rests a lot on growing employees' pride in performance. 3) The use of private stores as alternatives to post offices is not the calamity so widely heralded. To the contrary, there is more customer satisfaction and improved service. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Wednesday, April 17, 1991 ID: 12588685 TAG: 199104170165 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SERIES: First of 2 parts SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER CANADA POST'S SUCCESS STORY It is likely Donald Lander, president of Canada Post, will soon become one of our few public heroes. There will be axioms on his success. If he gives them, he will emphasize he simply applied the production rationales in making and marketing cars to the post office. Lander came to Canada Post in the mid-1980s from an executive career with Chrysler, including eight years heading its British operations. The auto industry is global, mostly well-unionized, and very competitive in design, quality, costs and marketing. And adopting change is imperative. Lander's forte is planning and managing for on-time, lower-cost production, not public relations. Unlike Michael Warren, his failed predecessor at Canada Post, Lander read his role as a private one, rather than a primarily open, political one. He fixed first on moving ever more mail, faster and accurately, not on erasing the reputation of the post office and its employees for unreliable, ever-costlier service. He would not become obsessed with Canada Post's militant unions, led by the likes of Jean-Claude Parrot of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW). He asked and got freedom from second-guessing by the Mulroney government, more as a last resort than because the Tories are more zealous for profits than for social services. Few Canadians, especially in our media, want there to be fruitful works under the aegis of Brian Mulroney, so few yet know of the near miracle Lander and his 53,000 employees have under way. The slide to ruin of our post office became apparent in the mid-1960s after the Pearson government let government workers unionize. By the early years of Pierre Trudeau, wildcats and legal strikes were a commonplace. With Eric Kierans as postmaster general, relations between government and unions got nastier and nastier. Belligerent discontent was the rule, led by CUPW's Joe Davidson, a bristly, Marxist emigre from Scotland. He won national notoriety and settlements which made postal workers the best paid unskilled workers in Canada. The post office became a long, nasty, public quarrel. Tens of thousands of formal union grievances piled up each year. As stories of losses and delays mounted, so did the alternative use of private delivery services. The annual deficits escalated, despite rate increases. From the early '70s the post office was more the bane of MPs than even the CNR and the CBC. Even the unions advocated converting their federal department into a Crown corporation, and this was finally done by Trudeau in 1981. He and many others hoped for a transition to harmony and efficiency. Hah! If anything, it got worse. It was also clear there was no abatement in the hatreds of Parrot, Davidson's dour successor as head of the ``inside'' workers. He protested or defied every initiative, including gestures of amity, from Michael Warren, a celebrated expert in Toronto transit matters whom Trudeau recruited. In Mulroney's caucus after he won power in 1984 were several score veteran MPs who blamed most of the bad name and the atrocious service of Canada Post on intransigent union leaders, ministers without backbone - and Warren. Many wanted a hard line with the unions. Some talked privatization. The public dialogue grew even nastier. Warren went. Lander took his place. And the unions who had detested Grits turned to hating Tories, who they said were aiming for a calculated dismantling of the postal service. The opposition parties, especially the NDP, took up the unions' line, decrying ``contracting out'' and the closing of rural post offices. A government with private enterprise as its shibboleth cared little as postal workers lost their hard-won rights to good wages, security and stability in the workplace through mechanization, task monitoring measures, more shift-work and more use of part-time and casual labor. Over years I have found MPs, when taken singly, are honest reporters of their constituents' grievances. In the early '70s they began reporting they were being harried at home over lousy postal service. And so Canada Post became their most common beef. This carried through to the late 1980s, even with issues flying high like free trade, unemployment insurance, higher taxes and Mulroney. One-on-one, backbenchers of all parties would tell me bad postal service was their most troublesome local matter. It was during the recent apogee of anger over the GST that I realized the MPs were no longer talking much about postal service. I thought it an overlay from a more immediate hurt. Then, a month ago, I read a book from the Fraser Institute, titled The Mail Monopoly: Analyzing Canadian Postal Service, by Douglas Adie, an economist from Ohio University. It struck me as a mean, out-of-date potboiler, hammering at the continuing fiasco of Canada Post, and demanding privatization as the alternative. So I went to Harvie Andre with the question: Is it still this bad? Through the Mulroney years he has answered in the House for Canada Post. ``No! The book's a crock,'' said Andre. ``Go see Lander. Take a gander at the control centre system. You'll see the real performance, good and bad.'' I went, watched, and queried. I find Lander and crew have converted a running disaster into a fine, steady operation. (Part II Friday: How it was done) The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Sunday, April 14, 1991 ID: 12587973 TAG: 199104140159 EDITION: Final SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle PAGE: C3 COLUMN: In Ottawa SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER OH, THOSE SANCTIMONIOUS SENATORS! Contacts in Liberal circles insist that a Senate committee controlled by Liberals will never approve the appointment by Brian Mulroney of Bruce Phillips as privacy commissioner. The Grits say they cannot fathom why Phillips was chosen. They want an explanation of the process of choice. Such gall and hypocrisy! Remember that each senator has also been appointed by a prime minister, not elected, not nominated or approved in any process. The attributes for senatorial haven are clear. The two chief ones are proven party activity and closeness to a prime minister, or a bit of both. Take two senators blocking poor Phillips from his reward - Richard Stanbury and Michael Pitfield. Stanbury's a Toronto lawyer who in 1968 insisted he must be a senator before he could assume the presidency of the Liberal party. Pearson made him one. Since then he's not been a wheel-horse for the Grit team in the Senate but a hit-and-miss presence who's focused more on his law firm of Cassels, Brock, and Blackwell than on the Senate agenda. A nice man, Stanbury: moderately bright; but a joke as working parliamentarian. He'll enjoy senatorial pay and perks for some 30 years, then a pension. Pitfield's a polymath and a sprig from a wealthy family of anglo-Montrealers who was both admirer and companion of Pierre Trudeau before he became prime minister. Then he was an adviser, and for eight years the top federal bureaucrat as clerk of the Privy Council. Pitfield was 45 in 1982 when Trudeau made him a senator. He chose to identify himself as an ``independent'' and shortly he became vice-chairman of mighty Power Corp. He too has been a here-and-away senator. To his credit, he is one of lamentably few senators who lets himself be docked pay for absences. It's boggling that Pitfield would say in the committee examining Phillips' appointment that this is really a test of whether the Senate can rise above partisanship. He hopes Mulroney will withdraw the appointment so the Senate can escape from the discussion of it. Stanbury's told the committee that Phillips' past partisan record (as Mulroney's director of communications) had not made him unacceptable but intangibles of ``character and behavior.'' Such a lawyer-like skirting of the libellous! This from one whose appointment to our finest sinecure was a crass quid pro quo. Is Phillips a bad choice as privacy commissioner? To me he's intelligent, able and serious, and not a crony to Mulroney. As a journalist his insights and directness impressed me more than those of John Grace, also an ex-journalist and the man Phillips was to succeed. Political groupies would enjoy a piece about recent books by Michele Landsberg and Sondra Gotlieb, spouses of former ambassadors for Canada. The books were, respectively, This is New York Honey! and Washington Rollercoaster. The article is in the latest issue of Bout de Papier, a quarterly of the the union for Canadian foreign service officers. The writer is Carol Markham, a trade analyst at external affairs. Only by inference does Markham touch on why these books generated ``some anger and considerable debate at external affairs and in the public domain.'' She notes the antagonism of the authors through a quotation for Gotlieb that ``The unwritten rule about wives of top officials to write about politics did not seem to apply to the wife of Canada's ambassador to the United Nations.'' Gotlieb puzzled on why a columnist wife of Stephen Lewis was not criticized like a columnist wife of Alan Gotlieb? (The answer, I think, is easy: Michele's an evocative, left-winging friend of the underdog, whereas Sondra's a smoothie in and on high power society.) Although Markham thinks each book has a mawkish, self-indulgent section marring it, she commends them both to her colleagues, notably for portraying a part of an ambassador's life and work ``which the employee never experiences.'' The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Friday, April 12, 1991 ID: 12587455 TAG: 199104120182 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER A CANDID BUT SAD DEBATE There was a good parliamentary debate this week about Parliament itself. As usual, when the producers of TV news are uninterested in the topic, the debate earned little public attention. The debate was carried largely by serious backbenchers, not by ministers or the stars of the shadow cabinets. It was not the stuff for Mulroney, Chretien, or McLaughlin. Party leaders are above particulars on the functioning of Parliament. House time and House procedures are too tedious, too arcane. A package of changes in the rules of the House was put forward for debate and a vote after some months of in-camera talk by the parties failed to agree on much. The package's sponsor was the ``bulldozing'' House leader for the government, Harvie Andre. His motion had 64 changes to the standing orders of the House. Nelson Riis, Andre's match-up in the NDP, is always easy with hyperbole. He characterizes the changes as fascistic and draconian - another Tory rape of Parliament. David Dingwall, the Liberal House leader, was less caustic but he moved to delete 20 of the changes after a largely critical analysis which took an hour and a half. (Nowadays that's a very long speech.) Few MPs of the current slate are exceptional orators, and even with grand, contentious issues such as the GST and abortion there have not been memorable debates. It's rare for more than 30 of the 295 MPs to be in the chamber after the daily question period. Speeches have few listeners and scanty attention in the media. Then why did the rule reform cause a good debate in which MPs actually talked to each other? Because most MPs do have serious thoughts and doubts on the subject and they let their frustrations and fears loose. This is their topic! If this was so, why did their concerns not catch the media's fancy, and so the nation's? Simple! Few Canadians other than backbench MPs and their staffs have any time or patience for House debates. Colloquially put, that isn't where it's at. One is not an MP for long before ideas kindle on reforming the House. That's why more real conscience, and even some bad conscience, emerges when MPS deal with the rules and procedures which frame their routines. How much should they be in Ottawa? In the riding? If the former, how much for the chamber, or for committees? How may they get a question in? Or a speech? Get noticed? And must they always heed the party whip? Such stuff seems mere detail to outsiders. It is, but talking on it leads to what bothers most serious MPs. Each parliamentary cast, even after electoral sweeps have drastically changed players, as happened in 1958, 1968, and 1984, realizes by its second or third session that the public rates MPs and their performances as poor or irrelevant. And expensive! MPs cannot duck such judgments when they appraise the House as it functions, as they had to do this week. Reforming rules is not a yearly chore although nattering about reforming the House is common on the Hill. There were grand changes in the rules and emotional debates in 1965, 1969, 1978, and 1985. While this year's changes seems less significant, to me they evoked a frankness beyond the crossed purposes of government and opposition. MPs spoke about parliamentary drudgery, tight party discipline, and the meaninglessness of so much of what they do. They got onto question period as now a charade for TV and beyond the Speaker's control. Once a government makes unilateral proposals for rule changes, the opposition stresses its dictatorial aims. We've had much of this, especially from the NDP. But in talking of shortening sessions, extending hours and narrowing the scope of some committees, some honest agonizing came from both sides of the House. Simply put, backbenchers cannot talk about their workplace and ignore its state and public status. So they talk about why politicians are in such public disfavor. How may they make people appreciate they work hard and usefully? How may they show Canadians their assiduity in committee work and in serving their constituents? Does much of their public disrepute come from being taken largely as mere party sheep? The answer, by and large, is yes. Must their individual views or those of their constituents always give way to the parliamentary line of their party? Should there be more freedom for an MP, more chances to initiate as a ``private members? Yes, yes! In debates on rules, a government leader such as Andre or his whip, Jim Hawkes, must argue the imperative of more dispatch in legislating. And the opposition MPs such as Dingwall and Riis must deride any thesis that they block bills or delay them inordinately. But candor does burst out of such stock partisanship. So if you care to read Hansard for April 8, 9, and 10, 1991, you'll find that MPs recognize their low esteem in the country. And see their bewilderment on how this might be altered. Is Riis right that here we have another rape of Parliament, even fascism? No! The main loser in these changes will be TV producers. Andre will use his majority and, when he must, the provisions in the present orders for curtailing debate to vote the changes. And Canadians are unlikely to really cherish Parliament as it is until it is gone. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Wednesday, April 10, 1991 ID: 12586837 TAG: 199104100155 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER CBC HOUNDS HOWL IN UNISON Is an act bad when a pack of columnists rants at it? My wry question arises from comment on the Crispo-CBC affair by five columnists: Michael Valpy and Jeffrey Simpson of the Globe and Mail, Dalton Camp and Gerald Caplan of the Toronto Star, and Allan Fotheringham of Maclean's, the Financial Post and the Sun. Valpy is the Globe's all-purpose, caring columnist. He opened the John Crispo issue in the heartland last week ago by quoting many remarks by the veteran professor from Toronto to the CRTC on March 21. Crispo was very critical of the CBC. While Valpy returned to the case twice, his emphasis was on Crispo's view of the CBC as ``a left-wing propaganda machine for which he had only contempt.'' Valpy noted that Brian Mulroney asked Crispo to be a part-time director on the CBC's board just a day after his attack on the CBC and without any consultation with CBC chairman Patrick Watson, another Mulroney appointee. Crispo's remarks got scant media notice when given, but friends of the CBC got a video cassette of them into circulation. Valpy seemed to feel the evidence of a shockingly wrongful appointment was so obvious much outrage or moralizing was unneeded. The deed spoke! Simpson, a Globe editorial page pundit, is probably the best known columnist Canada has after Fotheringham, partly because of several years work in the Mansbridge-Mesley segment of the CBC's Sunday Report. He was prompted by the ``devastating effectiveness'' of Valpy's facts on the case, and he made more sport of Crispo than Valpy and mocked ``this thing'' the Tories have about the CBC, starting from the top. To give the case proportion and the suitable solution, Simpson compared Crispo to Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan's failed nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. And Simpson appealed. ``Every person who cares about the CBC should cry out against John Crispo's appointment . . . he obviously dislikes with customary passion the very institution he is now being asked to advise. For every Canadian who appreciates the CBC, or who at least wishes it well, his appointment is a personal insult.'' The two Star writers have been, like Crispo, appointees of Brian Mulroney. They were even more cruel than Simpson. True, Camp had been targeted by Crispo as the Red Tory regular on the tilted Morningside panel of CBC-Radio with the Grit, Eric Kierans, and Stephen Lewis of the NDP's guiding family (and another ex-appointee of Mulroney). In the PM's first mandate he chose Caplan to co-chair an inquiry into broadcasting. Its recommendations, often reiterated since by Caplan, were for more scope and funding for the CBC, both to bond our unity and to bulwark our cultural values and sovereignty against the American menace. Caplan is a career-long friend of the always profoundly concerned Stephen Lewis and, with Bob White, he shares honor from reporters as a prime spokesman for the NDP on any issue. Camp converted Crispo's attack on the leftist tilt of CBC news and public affairs producers into a defence of Mulroney and the government against the CBC, thus earning his appointment. As for Crispo's slur on the Morningside gang, it was just one of Crispo's ``more fictive assaults.'' It was ``indefensible'' there would be a CBC director who ``believes himself mandated to manage news and public affairs broadcasts to ensure the government of Canada receives more favorable treatment.'' For Caplan, the Crispo case was simply ``more evidence of the government's moral corruption.'' ``Now substantively, Crispo is irrelevant and trivial,'' said Caplan, `` . . . a dreary nuisance on the board . . . small beer.'' He sneered past ``Crispo's exquisite talent for shamelessness'' to use this ``sleazy appointment'' as a whip on Watson. Surely ``Canada's great renaissance man'' must now quit the chairmanship of the CBC. Fotheringham, like Simpson and Camp, has a contract to perform for the corporation (Front Page Challenge). He was his casually vicious self in mocking Crispo as a money-hungry ``professional loudmouth'' but he was less the moralist than his four confreres over the appointment, seeing it as a clever ploy by Mulroney ``just in time to catch some prairie eyes before the Reform delegates gathered.'' In short, many prairie people must see CBC news, etc. as unfairly biased. Why a sixth columnist's piece on the Crispo case? I'm chortling, not over one forlorn unbeliever among the CBC hawks but because of what I wrote last week on the CBC. As Valpy exposed Crispo's animus I was explaining the ``national silence'' about the recent, further concentration of the CBC on news and commentary. Why no hullabaloo in the name of free expression at a government-owned and funded crew becoming even more ``the grandest, most influential reportorial and agenda-shaping force in the country?'' My answer? The left triumphant! The silence ``reflects a now durable success in Canada of views held in a loose, left coalition. These liberally minded people are now far more numerous . . . than the conservatively minded right. They see the CBC as their kind of organization.'' Any able critic who attacked the CBC's work in news, etc., I said, would be ridiculed ``by most who comment or editorialize for the privately owned news operations which, individually, are so puny alongside the CBC.'' Witness came . . . from the five columnists! The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Sunday, April 07, 1991 ID: 12586134 TAG: 199104070163 EDITION: Final SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle PAGE: C3 COLUMN: In Ottawa SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER FAME IS FLEETING ON PARLIAMENT HILL Twice in a week flags on Parliament Hill at half mast have indicated deaths of privy councillors. Each time a young person working for an MP asked me who was dead. When I said respectively, ``Leon Balcer,'' and ``Jack Davis,'' I could sense the unsaid question: ``Who?'' Balcer was once a Tory MP and a minister from Quebec, Davis a Grit MP and a minister from B.C. Each was in action in World War II, Balcer in the RCN, Davis in the RCAF. Davis died a member of the B.C. cabinet. To my knowledge he was the last disciple of C.D. Howe in office. His electoral career spanned 29 years. An MP from 1962 to 1974, he lost his federal seat, then next year won a provincial one and a cabinet post for Social Credit. He resigned in 1978, caught in a scandal over air fare rebates; then won a seat again in 1979 and went back into cabinet in 1986 after Bill Vander Zalm succeeded Bill Bennett. Balcer was an MP from 1949 to 1965, solicitor general from 1957 to 1960, then a good minister of transport in John Diefenbaker's last few years in power. Balcer could not penetrate the Chief's obtuseness over Quebec after Lester Pearson and the Liberals won office in 1963, and so he did not run in the 1965 election. Next year he ran provincially for the Liberals and lost. Then he left electoral politics for law. He was figuratively broken by the unwillingness of the Tories to recognize the changes sweeping Quebec. He was among the first, though not the last Quebec MP to be torn up by the rise of separatism out of the ``Quiet Revolution.'' As an MP and colleague, Leon Balcer was most likable. He was modest and very charming socially, rather like Charles Boyer. If Jack Davis had had Balcer's social ease and warmth his ceiling would have been unlimited. A brilliant mind, he was even more polymath than Pierre Trudeau, his prime minister, or Otto Lang, the other Grit minister of exceptional learning and intellectual range in the 1970s. But Davis could study and write much better than he could talk and persuade. He was big, gaunt, cool, to the centre-right ideologically and almost uselessness at the old partisan game in debates. If Balcer had had some of Davis' flair at grand plans in economics and technology he might have won the respect from other Diefenbaker ministers and the Tory MPs from beyond Quebec that was needed to make them see they must abandon their long-held views on Quebec in Confederation. Two decades after Balcer failed with the Tories on new policies for a changed Quebec, Brian Mulroney was to succeed. (Well, at least for two elections.) As I recall Balcer and Davis, each would have chuckled at the ignorance in today's Ottawa of his past prominence or notoriety. Yet each in his political heyday was pivotal, even prophetic on two fundamental issues still roiling and wrenching us. With Balcer it was the destiny of Quebec. And Davis was our first ``environment'' minister (1970). He foresaw and wanted to resolve the conflicts developing between an economy resting on the trade of exploited natural resources and the toll of this use in degrading the environment. In the '60s Davis was way ahead of other politicians on the environment, even of the New Democrats who now know they own the issue. Balcer's self-mocking humor made him a bad match-up as ``Quebec lieutenant'' in the 1960s to a self-regarding egocentric like Diefenbaker. His comments in my clippings are remarkably like those recently from Jean Chretien about the economic and social positives Canada has given and shall give Quebecers. Balcer was out to refute the separatists about imperilled identity and loss of language. His frets and arguments of 27 years ago remind us how long the crisis has been building . . . and chewing up politicians. Well, two more decent ex-ministers gone; each tried hard on matters of national substance. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Friday, April 05, 1991 ID: 12585678 TAG: 199104050167 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER CBC'S INFLUENCE CONTINUES TO GROW Do you recall Keith Davey's inquiry into the mass media in 1970? Or its corollary of 1981, the Kent royal commission on newspapers? These exercises were triggered by concerns over concentrating media ownership, an allegedly growing undue influence by fewer corporate powers in the informing and instructing of Canadians, and the use of so much interpretation of the world by Americans. Neither inquiry nor the rafts of studies from each were much welcomed by those on whom the studies largely fixed. There were few legislative consequences from the inquiries' recommendations but much discussion did occur in the media. A lot of information came out. In particular, liberally minded Canadians fretting over capitalist power and the need for balance in politics (such as the Toronto Star's Beland Honderich or the NDP) hailed the warnings to the public and Parliament against increasing media concentration and the need for higher standards in editorial fairness and quality. Since Kent there has been moderately more concentration in paper and TV station ownership and some acquisitions and reshuffling of print and telecommunications components by big outfits like Maclean Hunter, Southam, Thomson, Irving - even by the Star. But nothing like a head of steam has been building against such dealings. Even the political left has not been crying ``stop'' this or ``break up'' that. In slang terms, all is copasetic. So . . . what's the item? Where's this column going? The answer is in question form: Isn't it odd there has been almost complete silence in politics and from regulators like the CRTC and the competition tribunals over an ever-greater reach by the largest, most pervasive Canadian news agency? My question was prompted by sheer numbers. Analysis of the latest list of Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery members shows a slight drop from two years ago - from 388 to 360. But the cast for by far the largest deployer of reporters and commentators, the CBC, is at 88, down just two from 1989. The next largest group of 30-odd members works for Canadian Press, a wire service sustained mostly by funds from daily papers. The sum of gallery members covering federal affairs in Ottawa for the chains of Southam, Thomson, and the Sun, plus the Toronto Star, is about half the CBC's Hill cadre. Across Canada and beyond, the CBC deploys by far the most people in news-gathering. More salient, it has had the most complete and pervasive technology and systems for regularly reaching Canadians. And now the recent funding restraints of the federal government have brought the CBC into even more focusing on news and public affairs programming. In short, the CBC's all-purpose, dual network, country-wide system, is putting comparatively more resources and emphasis into what is increasingly its prime function - news and information. We know the CBC was a legislative creation of Parliament and is funded largely from the federal treasury. (This year about $1.2 billion.) At the recent CRTC hearings, the CBC leaders emphasized the shift to more news. It will come largely in network use of reports, commentary, etc. from the fairly new CBC endeavor, the 24-hour cable operation, Newsworld. Suppose market deals brought the media resources of Maclean Hunter and Eaton's together, or if Southam and TorStar fuse. Imagine the outcry over undue power and influence in the hands of a few tycoons in operations crucial to sound, fair politics and good citizenship. Yet the real colossus of this field is expanding. And although it's ``at arm's length'' from government it is a federal agency and by and large federally funded. There's a tribute of sorts to the CBC (as it has been) in the silence over its extension in this fundamental field of news and appraisal. In the U.S. or Britain or France one would expect criticism from both the right and the left at a governmentally owned operation getting mightier in a field where its producers set more and more of the political agenda through what they choose to cover or elaborate on. Politics is the stuff of our news and commentary. And the CBC is an agency created and funded by a government; and every day it makes choices on what to report, the line or spin of the interpretation, and the protagonists or observers to be quoted. In short, we have had and will have even more of the paradox that an agency of a government is constantly in an investigative, critical, or judgmental mode with politicians and governments. How to explain the silence? I think it reflects a now durable success in Canada of views held in a loose, left coalition. These liberally minded people are now far more numerous, articulate, and more influentially based in big cities than the conservatively minded right of Canada. They see the CBC as their kind of organization. So they demand even more money for the CBC from a government which (ironically) they see as patently not pro-CBC, especially not pro-CBC news and public affairs. If able critics campaigned, arguing a Crown corporation should not be the grandest, most influential reportorial and agenda-shaping force in the country, they would be figuratively ridiculed as un-Canadian. And by whom? By most who comment or editorialize for the privately owned news operations which, individually, are so puny alongside the CBC. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Wednesday, April 03, 1991 ID: 12336741 TAG: 199104030151 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER SENATE SCANDALS The Senate, damn it, got the last audit handled by Kenneth Dye before he closed 10 years as Canada's auditor general and returned to B.C. A few weeks ago Dye told me he thought his swan song would be a ``memorable'' one. Perhaps! But these are unusual months, with the country in a deep economic trough and up for severance. Neither politicians and their constituents nor the media seem to have the patience to be exercised by this petty pimple on the parliamentary rump. Late in 1989 the senators formally agreed to allow this ``first ever'' audit of their place. The result, out last week, was interpreted at once by reporters as highly critical, revealing extravagance and some nepotism. This interpretation has a bit of reportorial spin to it. The report's critique had a narrow focus and little on Dye's favorite theme of ``value for money.'' The report says the audit ``did not examine the constitutional role of the Senate or its procedures. Nor did it examine the individual offices of senators as separate administrative units.'' And so the report has nothing on either the basic purposes of the Senate or on its hours and sessional days, each of which is so much less than House of Commons hours and days. The report barely touches on what is probably the longest, genuine scandal of this institution which is without either the discipline of a critical electorate or of enforceable demands by party whips. That scandal is the desultory work of many senators as senators. This is worsened by the practice of some senators, particularly the lawyers, of using aides and services for their own practices or businesses. Yes, some MPs also dog it at work and also prostitute House services and facilities for their personal interests. Each MP, however, is vulnerable at each election and in the House is under pressure from whips and regional colleagues to make some fist of performance or attendance. The Dye report will confirm the views of those of us who would abolish the Senate as redundant and irrelevant but it gives us little new in the way of argument nor does it refer to the chief political utility of the Senate. That is as the sweetest gift a prime minister has for service to him or his party. He gets slots for failed or worn-out ministers and backbenchers as senators die or reach the retirement age of 75. Pierre Trudeau as PM was also generous to his personal staff with gifts of Senate tenure. Of course, the auditor's report has nothing at all on the contentions which emerged after 1984 when Allan MacEachen became Liberal leader in the Senate and fashioned ruses for stalling major governmental bills. These tactics long delayed the Drug Patent Act, major changes in unemployment insurance, the free trade agreement and the GST. By late 1990 such manoeuvres had been built by MacEachen into an extraordinary thesis on the right to use of the Senate's full legislative powers. This thesis was evaded rather than destroyed when Brian Mulroney took the unique route of naming extra senators to win majority control of the Senate and get the GST through. But the MacEachen thesis is resurrectible and it posits that the Senate may use its constitutional powers to block the will of the majority in the House of Commons when opinion polls show a particular issue is very unpopular with the people and so is the government which pursues it. The auditor's report underlines that the costs of the Senate escalated enormously through the '80s with the advent of so many Grit ex-ministers and former aides of Trudeau; i.e., people accustomed to the best of federal Ottawa's perquisites and services. One infers from the report that about a score of Trudeau's appointees are mainly responsible for both engineering the expansion of the Senate's budget and the more lavish spending on travel, long distance calls and researchers. This year the Senate will cost some $40 million. Only three years ago it was at $30 million and 10 years ago at just $16 million. The report includes office and travel spending by senators for 1989-90. Many spent less than $30,000 a year on travel and offices but some Liberal ex-ministers and former Trudeau aides (like Hazen Argue, Pierre DeBane, Romeo Leblanc, Len Marchand, Phillip Gigantes, Colin Kenny, Ann Cools, Jacques Hebert and Joyce Fairbairn) spent from $50,000 to $85,000 on such expenses. Fairbairn (Alberta) was the top Grit spender of the year at $85,000. While far fewer Tories were as unthrifty as the top spending Grits, the big Tory spenders were Ethel Cochrane (Newfoundland) at $85,000 and Mira Spivak (Manitoba) at $82,700. So senatorial wallowing in the public trough is not just a Liberal penchant. It's notable that the few ``independents'' (like Pitfield, Lawson, and Molson) had very low expenses. Also notable - only three senators lost more than $4,000 of their annual indemnity of $60,525 for reported absences. If Canada survives it may not be with an appointed Senate. If the Senate is abolished a generous buy-out of its incumbents will be necessary. About half the senators have at least 20 years in office left to them. It would probably take over $350 million in 1991 dollars to buy out all the senators. A high price. In my opinion it would be worth it. The Senate remains irrelevant. It's the House which needs reform. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Sunday, March 31, 1991 ID: 12335988 TAG: 199103310177 EDITION: Final SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle PAGE: C3 COLUMN: In Ottawa SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER THE ODDS ARE STACKED AGAINST CANADA The ultimatum Quebec has given the rest of Canada has its deadline late in 1992. So there is a race against time. Would you wager on the outcome? On Canada surviving as is? If so, what's a fair appraisal of the odds? Here's how I see the odds: 3-2 in one scenario; 5-1 in a second scenario; and even money or 50-50 in a third. My odds begin from an opinion it is less likely, rather than more likely, Canada will survive roughly as it is. Chances of about 3-2 against eventual survival! Further, if the decision pivots on a referendum in Quebec on ``sovereignty'' in 1992 after Robert Bourassa and company find a new offer from Canada inadequate then the odds for a ``yes'' vote will be about 5-1. Why the difference in the odds on what seems to be the same bet? The difference comes from the two stages which Premier Bourassa has set up. When the second stage - a referendum - is reached, Canada's chances are likely to be grimmer . . . unless! Remember, Bourassa has given Canada a chance to respond with new offers to Quebec within the year. These must be attractive enough to make Quebec negotiate again (as it did in the creation of the Meech accord). Bourassa has made it clear that by ``Canada'' he means the federal government led by Brian Mulroney and the other nine provincial governments led by their premiers. If their offer is inadequate, his government will hold the referendum on sovereignty. If the course of events reach the second stage a ``yes'' to sovereignty is far likelier. A lot of Quebecers' disaffection is from the rebuff of the Meech Lake accord. Imagine their mood if the wily Bourassa finds Canada's offer inadequate. It seems to me that if Quebec should get to a straight vote on either sovereignty or staying with the federation, sovereignty would be a solid favorite - at least 5-1 Unless! There's a different chance, though it's not a great one. It may turn out that Mulroney and the premiers will agree on a major offer, one giving Quebec the powers it wants, and put it to Bourassa. This might lead to prolonged negotiations with enough amity for Bourassa to hold the referendum on sovereignty and in it he and his party would back the federalist offer. Then the odds would be about even, not 5-1 for sovereignty. Federalists who doubt my dour odds should consider factors like these. Who killed Meech? Literally, Clyde Wells, Gary Filmon, Sharon Carstairs, Gary Doer and Elijah Harper. Are they still in the play? Yes! Did most English Canadians sorrow over the death of Meech? Far from it. They approved. They still do. Wells, Harper, etc. became heroic figures. Also, negotiations in the open are most hazardous for success but after the Meech fiasco will Canadians or Quebecers accept secret negotiations? No! The incorruptible Premier Wells, will be there. So will Premier Filmon of Manitoba. Although Sharon Carstairs and Gary Doer no longer have Filmon boxed, his legislative edge is slim. Little from Manitoba, including the work of its constitutional committee, augurs for the major concessions Bourassa must have. Elijah Harper's name reminds us that the aborigines want offers to Quebec contingent on dealing with their claims to nationhood. Further, the federal NDP and Premier Bob Rae of Ontario want aboriginal issues to be in play in negotiations. Such considerations in this crisis are anathema within Quebec. A week ago Audrey McLaughlin put forward two propositions: a) such interests as women, aborigines, northerners, ethnics, and unions must take part in the resolution of the crisis; b) there must not be any major devolution of federal powers to the provinces. The NDP holds Ontario. By November it should have premiers from B.C. and Saskatchewan at any negotiations of any offer. Neither the NDP's ideas on process nor its ``strong Ottawa'' line will run with Bourassa. The federation is not in a solid state. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Wednesday, March 27, 1991 ID: 12335203 TAG: 199103270170 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER TRUDEAU'S TRYING TO REWRITE HISTORY One might never know from recent appraisals that Pierre Trudeau was far from a valiant hero to most who lived through his 17 years as prime minister. Recent media stuff paints him as a constitutional genius as PM and now as a wise elder, detached from any responsibility for our present crisis over Quebec. The Canadian Press carried a major story on Feb. 12, based on newly released cabinet papers from 1970. These cast new light on a great controversy over the nature and scale of the threats to public safety in October, 1970, before Trudeau used the ``hammer'' of the War Measures Act. According to the CP story, the papers reveal an intense, contentious debate among ministers over what to do. Many doubted a real insurrection was at hand in Quebec. There was little information to support such a reading of the situation. John Turner, then minister of justice, was able to persuade Trudeau not to take some extreme and illegal measures he wanted. Trudeau did get the WMA into play, and under its authority hundreds were arrested without a tittle of evidence, then or later. By the mid-'70s it was embarrassing to know only a dozen, rather haywire zealots of the FLQ had flummoxed Premier Robert Bourassa and Montreal Mayor Jean Drapeau and made them beg Trudeau for military aid. Some observers of the October Crisis, myself included, were very doubtful of public allegations of ministers like Jean Marchand and Bryce Mackasey about huge caches of bombs, subversives in high places, even a ``plot'' by the likes of Claude Ryan and Rene Levesque to take over the Quebec government. The cabinet papers show Trudeau either believed the extreme images of danger which Marchand and Drapeau projected or he found them useful in sustaining a decision to call out the armed forces and initiate martial law. No wonder Trudeau insisted after the crisis that nothing extraordinary known to the cabinet had been kept from Parliament before it approved the use of the WMA or the subsequent Emergency Powers Act. Either Trudeau was as frightened as Marchand, or craftily ruthless. My recent scan of the English language media was hardly thorough but I have not found any responses by editorialists, commentators, or politicians to these revelations about Trudeau and cabinet in the October Crisis even though it suggests some revisions in the English Canadian myth on October, 1970, as Trudeau's Churchillian-like apogee. Now we have a major story about Trudeau that has had a wide (and largely favorable) reaction. As a news story his address last week at U of Toronto pivoted on his depiction of Brian Mulroney is a ``sorcerer's apprentice'' who came along years after the satisfactory, constitutional settlement of 1982 to convince Quebecers they had been left out of it. An untruth! Some interpreters have exulted at Trudeau's toughness and his warning that Mulroney must not to submit to Quebec's blackmail. Yet the story had another, arguably larger gist, in a most insulting appraisal of the judgment of six (out of the nine) judges of the Supreme Court of Canada. In September, 1981, the Court's opinion forced Trudeau to abandon his plan to have the British Parliament release our Constitution to our Parliament even though it was supported by only two of the provinces, Ontario and New Brunswick. Abruptly, Trudeau now is forthcoming on the 1981 decision. Why? To take himself off the hook of responsibility for today's crisis! Trudeau blames six of 1981 justices (including a recent chief justice, Brian Dickson) for a decision he now says was ``bad law'' and bad for Canada. Trudeau sought the court's opinion on several questions about amending the Constitution. Six of the justices decided there was a ``constitutional convention'' that amendments to the Canadian Constitution which affected federal-provincial relationships and the powers of the province needed the agreement of the provinces. After this decision (which Trudeau now lambastes) it was unlikely the British Parliament would pass the Trudeau government's original ``address.'' And so Trudeau chose to call another first ministers' conference for early November, 1981. At the conference the tough guy compromised. Did he ever! He had to do so to get nine premiers on the federal side. He did isolate Rene Levesque, then head of the Quebec government but he also agreed to the ``notwithstanding'' clause which let governments loop decisions under the Charter of Rights (as Quebec's did on its sign laws). Before Mulroney became prime minister in 1984 the Quebec Liberals under Ryan were insisting Quebec had been ``left out'' of the 1982 constitutional agreement. In 1985 when Bourassa became premier again he was an advocate of constitutional changes which would ``bring Quebec into the Constitution.'' Unfortunately, the compromises Trudeau entered into in 1981 saddled his successors with an awkward amending formula which was to ruin the Meech Lake accord. Trudeau did not dare go to the British in 1981 without seeking the ruling from the Supreme Court. Then, when a majority of the judges failed to give him what he wanted, he hadn't the courage to ignore their ruling. He compromised. He did not persist with his original address to Westminster even though the decision had emphasized it was only convention, not law, that provincial agreement was necessary. Oh, so brave, this Trudeau. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Sunday, March 24, 1991 ID: 12334362 TAG: 199103240149 EDITION: Final SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle PAGE: C6 COLUMN: In Ottawa SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER THE PM'S HUMAN BULLDOZER Thirteen months ago when Brian Mulroney made Harvie Andre the leader of the government in the House it had to do with Andre's image as being raspy and tough, earned over 18 years as an MP. Why would the PM put an impatient, fierce partisan in such a diplomatic post? Simple! To bulldoze the GST and several other contentious bills into law and to end repetitious blockades in many legislative stages, particularly by the New Democrats. Andre is not beloved in the House and even he admits his failures in rousing Speaker John Fraser from the amiable torpor that ignores the lengthy slanders and allegations prefacing so many of oral questions, especially those by the ``stars'' of the opposition. Otherwise, Andre has filled the bill for Mulroney, and he seems on the eve of an ``in-House'' coup with a package of changes to House rules. The changes have been in negotiation privately between the parties. Substantial, though not total, agreement has been reached on most of them. Next week the changes will be debated, in particular a reduction in days of sittings (though not of hours) and some amendments which should make easier the use by the government of time allocation for legislative stages, including the closure of debate. If unanimity is impossible when the changes are moved in the House, Andre will use his majority to institute them. I was surprised House reforms should emerge this late in the government's mandate. I asked Andre why - and how. He believes some willingness to consider reforms comes from a recognition by MPs of all parties that the institutional repute of Parliament is low everywhere. And most MPs know they should spend more time with their constituents. Another reason for relative co-operation rises from his own party's low standing in opinion polls. The Liberals see themselves as a government in-waiting. Power is near and certain, so changes which expedite the passage of legislation will soon be to their advantage. As for the NDP caucus, its MPs are largely in a pattern of one week in the riding for every three weeks on the Hill so the cut of almost seven weeks of sitting days in a year fits them. Harvie Andre is also the minister answerable for Canada Post. I asked him if he had read a new book by economist Douglas Adie, titled The Mail Monopoly; Analyzing Canadian Postal Service. It lambastes the service and its inefficiencies unmercifully, loads contumelies on letter carriers and inside workers, and argues privatization as the only sensible solution. Andre said: ``It is a bad book - wrong-headed and out of date, based on facts and scenarios in Canada Post from the time before and shortly after the strike of 1987.'' Too few Canadians, says Andre, know about the great, ``good news'' tale on the turning of Canada Post from a feather-bedding sloth with abysmal morale into a splendid service. Foreign postal executives now come to find models for boosting productivity and using computer-based technology in management. The minister gives most of the credit to Donald Lander, president for the past five years. Andre says Lander rolled with the critical scorn from outside and in, kept a low public profile, and got on with changes. Mail volume is growing faster then the economy. It's being handled more quickly and reliably by some 13,000 fewer workers than just three years ago. A Canada Post software package for management control (developed by Systemhouse) has been bought by the U.S. Post Office. Andre says the ministry no longer is considering the privatization of Canada Post. He wondered if I had noted the decline in critical questions and statements about the post office from MPs? I hadn't, but a Hansard check confirms this. Perhaps Quebec will want to stick with Canada Post. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Friday, March 22, 1991 ID: 12333893 TAG: 199103220136 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER BILINGUALISM WAS NEVER POPULAR Did you see what the first analysis from the Spicer inquiry said about official bilingualism? ``Almost universally'' the people reject it. This supports the points I was making in my previous column on official bilingualism. Even though the three major federal parties back the policy it is broadly disliked. Such backing was evident recently when leaders of the Liberal caucus in Ottawa chastised MP Joe Comuzzi (Thunder Bay-Nipigon). He'd dared tell his home folks he would seek a full review of official bilingualism as a policy. Comuzzi's riding is roughly the one I held from 1957-65 when bilingualism emerged as policy for all of Canada. A few days ago Comuzzi showed me some responses his idea has drawn. One devout Liberal wrote from Hamilton: ``We need you and 20 more like you to turn the party around and serve the people they represent.'' One of Comuzzi's prominent constituents wrote: ``Your call for a review reflects the thinking of thousands of your constituents as well as millions of Canadians. Official bilingualism has had more than two decades to succeed but the policy has been a dismal failure. Why? Let's have a review and find out.'' Another wrote: ``It seems logical when examining our constitutional relationships to look at all elements, and surely official bilingualism is one.'' Another commented: ``Too many, if not all, politicians walk lock-step with their party, reiterating party slogans and ideas, even though they personally disagree or question them. I admire your stand. Don't back away from your convictions.'' The written comments to Comuzzi match those I got in 1964 from a questionnaire centered on bilingualism. Over 3,000 replies came in, and several hundred citizens went past ticking answers to writing their opinions on bilingualism. It's fair to recall that official bilingualism was not suddenly sprung on the country by Ottawa in the '60s. Nor was it as many, especially in Quebec, think, all Pierre Trudeau's doing. Bilingualism as policy had a long gestation, really surging forward as a panacea of sorts after Jean Lesage, a former Louis St. Laurent minister, became premier of Quebec in 1960. He got national attention. So did ministers like Rene Levesque and Eric Kierans. Lesage wanted more powers for Quebec and more respect for French Canadians beyond it. When his former colleague Mike Pearson took power away from John Diefenbaker in 1963, Quebec and the French-English relationship got instant elevation. This was boosted by a new presence in Parliament from Quebec - Real Caouette and the Creditistes. At once they began raising hell over the low status of French in federal institutions. Pearson was to make two big moves to allay French pressure: A truly Canadian flag and widening the use of French. In English Canada, support for bilingualism was rather high-minded - stuff for educators and editorialists. To get a better foundation for the policy, Pearson did the Canadian thing, setting up a mighty royal commission. The Bilingualism and Bicultural Commission, headed by Andre Laurendeau and Davidson Dunton, was massive, and roped in scores of prominent academics. Long before its final reports the commission declared a ``crisis'' in English-French relations. This let Pearson get much more bilingualism under way in the federal service. Backing for bilingualism spread to the New Democrats, and then to the the Tories. It was at this stage in 1964 that I canvassed constituents with a questionnaire. I listed issues then looming large: Medicare; a national pension plan; unemployment; the trade deficit with the U.S.; the lack of economic growth; nuclear weapons in Canada; and the right to equality of French Canadians. When quantified, the responses gave top priority to unemployment and the lowest to the French issue. I had quoted the Bi and Bi Commission's instructions. `` . . . to report upon the existing state of bilingualism and biculturalism in Canada and to recommend what steps should be taken to develop the Canadian federation on the basis of an equal partnership between two founding races, taking into account the contribution made by the other ethnic groups to the cultural enrichment of Canada.'' A good majority thought this an expensive and unnecessary enterprise. Not a good idea! Hundreds chose to write in their opinions. To summarize, I found my constituents did not believe there should be official bilingualism or biculturalism for Canada. And though half the constituents were not of British stock, there was little support for the recognition of other ethnicities. I asked if they thought there was a chance Quebec might withdraw from Canada. Almost half the respondents thought there was such a chance. (Yes, 27 years ago!) I asked that if they felt there was such a chance what would they have the federal government do about it: Let Quebec go? Prevent it? Make a new deal with Quebec? Most respondents said ``Prevent it.'' I asked: ``Do you believe that Canada should be an equal partnership between the `two founding races?' '' Overwhelmingly, they did not. Many wrote in that this was bad history. To reiterate, on bilingualism the comments were much like those in the letters to Joe Comuzzi. Such durable antagonism to bilingualism doesn't mean it's bad, only that most Canadians don't want it. They didn't in 1964, and they don't in 1991. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Wednesday, March 20, 1991 ID: 12333389 TAG: 199103200151 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER BILINGUALISM THEN ... AND NOW Joe Comuzzi, a Liberal, has been the MP for Thunder Bay-Nipigon since 1988. For 10 days he's been a pariah to his leader's brain trust for remarks he made weeks ago to his riding association on the need to review bilingualism as federal policy. Beforehand he had discussed the topic with his local executive. They agreed that hostility to bilingualism so pervaded Northwestern Ontario, a formal review was a good idea. As a caution, you should know that when the city council voted unilingualism for Thunder Bay last year, Comuzzi had spoken against the motion. Days after Comuzzi's remarks a Canadian Press reporter heard of them, called him, and was given the gist. A story then ran on the wire which got play in many dailies. Immediately the caucus sky fell on Comuzzi. He was in a bemused state over his apparent criminality when far bigger news on the subject broke. Last Thursday CBC-TV news (through a breathless Wendy Mesley) launched a news scoop: Mulroney's mandarins, sided by academic authorities, have been discussing bilingualism with a view to changing the policy to allay much of the negativism it continues to generate. Immediately the Liberals were on the attack. Next day Sheila Copps was seething umbrage in the House. In it Joe Clark denied any weakening in the government's devotion to official bilingualism. Outside, the PM insisted bilingualism remained a `sine qua non' for his government and Canada. And yet there was no real outrage at the charges from the raucous Copps nor outright denials that the policy might be revised in future federal moves in the constitutional crisis. One minister (John McDermid) uttered the truth that any MP who did not know about the broad dissatisfaction with bilingualism among his or her constituents was a fool. So figuratively-speaking, the genie of discontent with bilingualism is at last out of the bottle. What's been known below the top surface of federal politics but which no one of political prominence outside the PQ would state, is suddenly prominent. Most Quebecers do not give a hoot for official bilingualism across Canada, and outside Quebec the majority of the populace dislike the policy. Let me note that Joe Comuzzi did not condemn official bilingualism. In effect, he argued that when an MP found so many people against a major, continuing program, he had a responsibility to have it examined openly at a high level. For 26 years we have had a federal bilingualism policy and program. No one has a grasp of its total cost in tax dollars but all in all it would run well over $10 billion. Few would regret such spending if the policy was a substantial success, if most citizens accepted it as necessary, workable, and gaining its aims. Although official bilingualism was much argued over from the mid-'60s to the early '70s by the turn into the 1980s (with Diefenbaker gone) it had become so sacred that any elected politician who publicly doubted it was characterized by partisan rivals as a bigot and by party colleagues as a menace to their good name. One reason why bilingualism is popping again as a discussable contention has to do with the rise in strength of the Reform Party. It is now spreading from the West into the rural and small city ridings of southern Ontario. Reform would dismantle most of official bilingualism. This is one of its best membership raisers. What I wish to draw into the bilingualism issue is simply evidence that a high-minded policy, advanced and instituted by right-thinking men and women, cannot be sustained interminably if plain people across the land either disagree with it or have gone along only because their politicians insisted it was required to keep Quebecers satisfied and within Canada. By and large, Joe Comuzzi's riding is the one I represented from 1957 to 1965. When I heard what he had said about a review of bilingualism I called to see what response had followed. He described the instant rebuke and opprobrium from Jean Chretien's cadre and how he quickly found himself put in a ``Coventry of sorts'' in the caucus. But from his constituents he has had landslide approval. What about his constituents? Oh, he was overwhelmed by their landslide approval. And to confirm this he brought me a swatch of letters and phone messages. Anyone who reads them appreciates that these are from literate and thoughtful citizens, not the stock, bigoted rednecks so sniffily patronized by liberally-minded editorialists of the Globe and Star. I recognized enough of the writers and callers to know this was a riding's response, not one wrung from Comuzzi supporters. What arrested me in the views expressed to Comuzzi was their similarity to ones I got 27 years ago in a massive opinion survey of my constituents. Same riding, same views in 1991 as in 1964 on bilingualism, despite all those years of unanimity on the policy's worth among the three parties which are large there. My survey was done within a year of the launching by then PM Mike Pearson of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism. I sent a set of 18 questions to some 12,000 constituents (by name) and got over 3,200 responses. Opinion samplers told me this was an extraordinarily high response. In Part 2 on Friday I match the results on both Quebec and bilingualism with what Joe Comuzzi has elicited. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Sunday, March 17, 1991 ID: 12332646 TAG: 199103170213 EDITION: Final SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle PAGE: C5 ILLUSTRATION: cartoon by Murphy COLUMN: Backgrounder SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER CANADA'S ULTIMATE CRISIS//AND THIS TIME THERE MAY NOT BE A WAY OUT It is sinking in. This is the Canadian crisis. Anyone who believes in one geographic and political Canada, as most of us beyond Quebec do, ought to know now we are in as deep in our own way as Britain was when France fell in 1940. We should sense we are almost without the time for a resolution that is reasonable. Instead, we are still blaming the political leaders and moaning for heroic leadership. Lo, none is at hand. Whether we see Robert Bourassa as cleverly tricky or clinging to a tiger, he has himself - and us - boxed in a forcing period which closes in the fall of 1992. (Yes, the 500th anniversary of Columbus.) Of course, there are those who say we have been here before, that this is merely the latest ploy by Quebec to euchre more out of Canada. And if you have been around a long time this reaction rings a bell, both about Quebec-Canada relations and because of a Canadian penchant for pessimism. Each decade or so in my life I have heard the comment that ``Never before have Canadians faced such a crisis.'' COMMON PHRASE The phrase was common in the Great Depression of the 1930s. As a soldier I heard it about our fundamental French/English dilemma as it went bad in the reinforcement crisis of 1944-45. I heard it in the early 1960s, and Lester Pearson met it with the Bi and Bi Commission, with bilingualism policies, and the theme (brief-lived) of ``co-operative federalism.'' It was even more in vogue a few years later during and after 1970's October Crisis, and it was a catch-phrase from the mid-1970s to 1981 with Rene Levesque and Pierre Trudeau as antagonists and symbols. It demoralizes me to recall the huge, collective sigh of relief when Trudeau triumphed in the referendum of 1980. Quebec was a province, like the others! The relief even spread to the PQ. It was as pervasive as the response in 1937 when Neville Chamberlain came home from talking with Hitler at Munich and proclaimed ``Peace in our time.'' The referendum's eclipsing of the unity crisis in 1980 was confirmed the following year when the Constitution was patriated and the Charter of Rights put into it under the leadership of a prime minister from Quebec. Yes, Quebec's government and National Assembly did not approve the refurbished Constitution. But Canada was continuing on as before with a strong federal government in command and Quebec in familiar place as a province. And so it seemed through most of the 1980s and into the three years required to confirm a Constitution altered by the Meech Lake accord. TROUBLESOME CLAUSE New premiers in New Brunswick, Manitoba, and Newfoundland began to object to the Accord designed to get Quebec's government and assembly to accept the Constitution. Their core objection swung around what meaning there was in the new ``distinct society'' clause for Quebec. Would it not mean Quebec was not a province like the others, that the blessed Charter would not necessarily run in Quebec? I would argue that a realization we are in a genuinely desperate crisis has gotten through to more citizens beyond Quebec than ever before because the climax weeks of the Meech Lake Accord were so melodramatic, so hyped by blanket TV coverage. Of course, it is over-simple to reduce this crisis with so much precedence to a conflict between two basic conceptions of Canada. There have been and there are premiers and people, notably in the West, who want some of what Quebec demands. Nonetheless, the best way to see the crisis is to put it starkly like this: On the one hand, there is a federal government and 10 equal provincial governments, framed and apportioned by a constitution. That's Canada as it has and does function, governmentally. Equal provinces! On the other hand, there are two equal communities. Some use the phrase ``two nations.' The two split (though with some inter-mixing) a single land mass. This is the reality the Quebec government and most Quebecers now assert. Quebec as one of the two communities must be far more than a mere province like Newfoundland or P.E.I, or even Ontario, because it has language, culture and an identity to nurture and protect. At this moment, with constitutional hubbub become rampant at the citizens' level, there is still a lot of whistler's courage in Ottawa, even though Quebec has given the last chance for a refashioned Confederation just 18 months. Premier Bourassa has made it clear negotiations will not be at a table of first ministers - i.e., with the likes of Clyde Wells and Gary Filmon. Now this is tough. It puts an onus on the prime minister for a role some of premiers will never concede. Yet Bourassa will be through as a Quebec leader if he should return to a scene like that last June at the old railway station in Ottawa. It matters not whether we see Bourassa as a masked separatist or a canny federalist, playing off enormous pressures for sovereignty association or independence. If Quebec's demands for more powers are not met then it will vote on leaving Canada. If this passes (and in my opinion it would) Quebec departs. And then it deals with either a truncated government in Ottawa or a committee of ``first ministers'' regarding divisions and assignments of such things as debts, facilities, territory, public officials' pensions and arbitration procedures. Oh, this is the biggest, national crisis since Confederation yet neither parliamentary nor bureaucratic Ottawa is near panic. Some of this is sheer bafflement on what to do. Some is a pretending there is no graveyard near for Canada. Thus no panic and, on the surface, no sense of urgency - of midnight near, as it were. This week I had long talks with MPs from three parties and five different regions of English Canada. Each said more of their constituents were worried about jobs and the recession than the crisis of unity, but each was either uncomfortable with his or her party's line on Quebec or unsure what it is or should be. The hollowness behind some bluff and bluster is obvious in the governing party. Believe me, it holds for the Liberals and New Democrats too. Like Brian Mulroney and Jean Chretien and Audrey McLaughlin, they love Canada. We have whistler's courage everywhere but in the Bloc Quebecois. In short, Ottawa is ``marking time,'' waiting for Spicer, waiting for Belanger-Campeau, waiting for a committee on process, speculating on what mandarins and academic experts are formulating. Believe it or not, it was argued to me by two MPs that the recession had its worth. It might help if it deepened for another half year. That would cool out those cocky Quebec businessmen. MEECH DISASTER After the Meech disaster one can understand why even the most assured player in it, Clyde Wells, is vague, why the buzz words are ``openness'' and ``consultation'' and not a ``deal'' or ``saw-offs.'' To repeat, neither of the major opposition parties, Liberals nor New Democrats, have proposals any more specific than the government has, and the latter's boil down to a readiness to consider major realignment of powers within the present Constitution but not separation for Quebec. In the House, Mulroney and ministry are chivvied about the rather loony Spicer show. There are allegations another ``secret deal'' by the PM is being worked up behind closed doors. Academic and legal experts on the Constitution are almost as busy as retired generals were in the Gulf war, talking alternatives and positions. But not much of such is being heard or would be readily understood by the thousands of lay people who have been goaded into sounding off about what's wrong, what we ought to do and what Canada means. My gut feeling is that a resolution is now impossible which would leave Canada and its Parliament and provinces largely as they have been. Separation is a stupid choice for all of us. It means a mess. It cannot be done without quarrelling about many things. There will me intense animosity. There may be violence. Yet a middle way, a compromise resolution, demands a quite quick acceptance of changes far beyond those set in the Meech accord. As I read my (still) fellow Canadians, those in Quebec could possibly consider and vote for compromises endowing powers to the provinces but those outside Quebec would not. Too many there are saying either ``let them go'' or ``they're bluffing.'' And this almost prescribes a division of Canada because too many of ``them'' want to go and too many of their politicians are not bluffing. TOP ADVISER The best informed and most judicious Canadian I know on constitutional matters is Gordon Robertson. He was a top mandarin adviser on all the constitutional exercises of the Diefenbaker-Pearson-Trudeau years. Yes, even the late Eugene Forsey thought Robertson the constitutional authority. Recently he spoke to the special joint committee which is working on a process for amending the Constitution. He did a brilliant reprise of the drama over the years since Maurice Duplessis died and Quebec, figuratively awoke. In answering his own blunt question of ``How do we get out of this mess?'' Robertson argued we may have to walk away from our present system. A senator said she did not think ``walking away from the system was productive.'' He replied: ``If you can find a way not to walk away, I will be delighted.'' He has not seen such a way. Nor do I. We are in the last box. When it busts next year there will be confusion and chaos. And, for the elders, strong but harrowing memories of a wonderful country from sea to sea. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Friday, March 15, 1991 ID: 12332052 TAG: 199103150204 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER IDLE RUMORS AND DEVIOUS WHISPERS On Wednesday George Bush was within two feet of me for three or four seconds. How did he seem? Taller and bigger then I expected; wan, yet vigorous in the pro-forma handshaking for a highlight occasion with a Canadian friend. His ritual is automatic but courtly done. His grip is very brief and firm. He makes and quits eye contacts despite the hurly-burly. Brian Mulroney relishes hosting someone so important. What staggers one is his recognition score. As he and the president worked the corridors the PM was registering and identifying for Bush almost every MP along the route. Recently, queries to me, especially from Toronto, about grave disharmony at the Mulroney residence have been shading into assertions there must be something to the rumor he is drinking heavily and Mila is on the verge of leaving. What's maddening about such speculation is that it makes so little sense and continues without evidence. I don't see the Mulroneys close up enough to deny such stuff from observation, but I find it incredible. The PM, in particular, is too busy and too exposed to be doing what he's said to be doing without it becoming obvious through specifics. None of the few I know who have continuing close ties to the PM can fathom the rumors or their persistence. The closeness of the whole family is genuine and takes much shared time. While this is little consolation to the principals in this mean gossip, something like it also overtook the Pearsons, the Clarks, and the Turners, then faded out. Sheila Copps earned much respect within her party for a constructive leadership campaign and steady loyalty to John Turner as party leader. Nonetheless, a different perspective of her is stirring within the Liberal caucus membership. Is Jean Chretien's post-operative convalescence far from the House is a blessing or a tragedy for the party? Some feel the interlude has put on end to any ultimate ambition by Copps, and see this as a plus. Others, who will agree she has done poorly with so much prime parliamentary exposure as leader, believe it tragic because Chretien was far from effective in the House and now their No. 2 shows as badly or worse. To put it kindly, Copps has been ineffective - reverting too often to the ``rat pack'' stridency which first got her fame. She is bright, remarkably fluent in French and has gall unlimited. She has dressed for the limelight, and is a very quick study. But she has little sense of proportion or awareness of what is immodest, even in politics. Her would-be humor is either sardonic or just back fence yah-yah. Her preludes to questions sound like Judge Jeffreys' charges of guilty at his infamous ``hanging'' assizes. Venom may signify partisanship but it becomes a bore. So with Chretien away, Copps' stock has plummeted. Correspondingly, though not as fast, Paul Martin's stock has climbed, though he has also taken to the Copps-Herb Gray-Brian Tobin penchant to shout rather than speak. Very quietly, a few Liberal MPs, really from the election of '88, stew on prospects of another leader. (Even Clyde Wells!) They were not around when either Chretien or Copps came to the front of the pack, and their reactions are like the question in Peggy Lee's great song: Is that all there is? It's rather sad because one must go back to the mid and late 1960s for as many able, serious, Liberal MPs. Audrey McLaughlin has been sliding through House affrays more adroitly than Copps, abetted by a contrasting quietness and a reasonable manner or style, if not argument. Willy-nilly this is a nice person, and those close and guiding her have been doing well. To use the late Gordon Sinclair's word, ``content-wise'' these handlers must now give McLaughlin more content. What bull they put in her mouth last weekend about the NDP's aims, principles, and procedures for the constitutional crisis! Her speech as spoken sounded far better than it reads because she began with the NDP's beloved ``people'' and with a clean slate. Go to the people; hear them! People are the sacred foundation of our democracy. So at every constitutional stage (although these were not set out) the people must be consulted in the open. How? Where? In what time frame? Well, by dialogue one guesses, wherever they are, and in their worthy organizations - of women, of cultural groups, of aborigines, of ethnics, of ``Northerners,'' of the unions and their power centres like the CLC. McLaughlin even has a place in all this democracy for MPs, MPPs, MNAs, and MLAs - whether in government or opposition. So, to square one we must go, says the NDP's leader . . . while Robert Bourassa is counting down through a mere 18 months for an accommodation, or else. Clearly, McLaughlin's constitutional line is twaddle, except for a repetition of a party theme adopted in 1961 (which helped take the late Eugene Forsey out of the party). It is that Canada is primarily two communities, rather than 10 provinces, and the Quebec community may separate if and when it chooses. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Wednesday, March 13, 1991 ID: 12331457 TAG: 199103130140 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER THREE POLITICAL BLOCKBUSTERS So much is happening in politics no one person may get or keep a figurative handle on it all. We are collectively in a political maze, and recent initiatives augur more complexity and confusion. Take three moves last week that don't include the grandest, ploy since Brian Mulroney lost his dice throw last June - i.e., Robert Bourassa's conversion of the almost ``independentist'' Allaire report into another last chance for a federal Canada. (Surely Bourassa's adroitness must make Frank McKenna, Gary Filmon and Clyde Wells wish they hadn't scuppered the rather modest Meech Lake accord.) Take first the legislative achievement of the House last week. After just three days of debate a truly major bill - C-98, the Farm Income Protection Act - was through its biggest hurdle of second reading and off to committee for hearings. Its sponsor is Don Mazankowski, deputy PM and minister of agriculture. The appraisals by almost every opposition MP were positive, breaking a long sessional pattern of mean, petty partisanship by all. A blending of many factors explains the constructiveness. Above all, our politicians, federal and provincial, know our farmers and their communities are in a poor to bleak economic condition through lost or narrowing markets, low prices, high costs and intense foreign competition. There are troubles from the orchards of B.C. to the potato fields of P.E.I. The bedevilment of our farmers is not just on the Prairies and the bill is not seen largely as a means to hold the Tories' vote there. In the previous Parliament, the Liberals had not one farmer MP and the NDP just a couple. In this House, both these parties have a batch of farmers and more rural ridings. So awareness of farm problems is keener in each caucus. It was pleasant to hear the debate. It's a treat to follow it in Hansard. Every MP was going with the bill although most had concerns over the eventual costs and the huge, general, enabling powers the act will give the government. Most MPs know the Mulroney government has not been stingy with farm communities and interest groups, so there was less of the usual blame and ridicule. Also, Mazankowski is seen by most MPs as the most approachable, conscientious minister, dedicated to his mandate's range beyond mere open or defensive stonewalling. At a time when everyone exalts the virtue of consulting the people he's done it thoroughly with national and regional interest groups and with provincial governments. Thus Mazankowski said without anyone really quibbling that here was a bill not created by the bureaucrats of Ottawa but ``out there.'' Bill C-98 is complex, but nothing like its consequences will be in a few years. The short-form keys in the bill are known as GRIP and NISA, the Gross Revenue Insurance Program and the Net Income Stabilization Account. Behind those phrases and the blanketing Farm Income Protection tag (FRIP) lies a policy to perpetuate farming and provide a nation-wide set of systems for farmers' floor incomes. In short, this bill is truly major, almost in ultimate scale like the Free trade agreement, yet it's coming far more quietly and without much rancor. There were two blockbuster decisions last week by superior courts in Saskatchewan and B.C.. Each has significance nationally, particularly if sustained by the Supreme Court of Canada. It seems certain appeals will go to Ottawa on both the redistribution ruling that has made illegal the the recent reapportionment of Saskatchewan's provincial electoral constituencies and the elaborate decision by B.C.'s chief justice against a massive Indian land claim in the northwest of the province. The redistribution decision is based on an interpretation of the Charter of Rights which will not allow a wide discrepancy in ``rep-by-pop'' between the worth of the vote of an urban dweller and a rural or hinterland resident. It's been the practice, federally and provincially, to have rural or hinterland ridings with considerably fewer voters than city ridings. The decision creates an urgency in Saskatchewan because an election of some boundaries is constitutionally required this year. But the federal implications are very serious too. The Charter runs across the whole land, so it's a long shot but not impossible that this decision, if sustained by the top court, could bring most provincial legislatures and Parliament to invoke the Constitution's ``notwithstanding'' clause. Why? Otherwise, the disparity in area between rural-hinterland and urban ridings will be unconscionable. For example, Northern Ontario has 10 MPs. Under this Charter ruling (sustained, of course) it would lose at least four of them. The decision tossing out the native land claim in B.C. as ``extinguished'' seems good history and sound law but it confounds expectations rising in aboriginal politicking since 1979. After Pierre Trudeau dropped his belief that natives were just Canadians (like the rest of us) they were encouraged with large funding to develop land claims and go for settlements, using the courts for determination when agreement with the federal Crown could not be reached. Indians and Inuit have come to believe in their entitlement to much larger territory than in present reservations. They will howl over this decision. So, you see, three critical dilemmas shaping in one week, beyond the ultimate one. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Monday, March 11, 1991 ID: 12330929 TAG: 199103110134 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER LET'S STAND UP AND BE COUNTED This is both a sketch of one aspect of the census-taking this coming June 4 and an appeal that you use your census answers to bridle the politicians' catering to the ethnics. Be disobedient! Insist you are a Canadian when answering census question No. 15. Brian Mulroney's government has caved in to ethnic lobbyists. By cabinet decision it extirpated a Canadian ethnicity from the '91 census. Isn't it crazy? Canada's pulling apart yet its government denies that ``Canadian'' is a bona fide ethnicity. On June 4, when you fill in the census questionnaire, watch for question No. 15 on ``Ethnic origin.'' It asks you to check one or several of the following categories: ``French, English, German, Scottish, Italian, Irish, Ukrainian, Chinese, Dutch, Jewish, Polish, Black, North American Indian, Metis, Inuit/Eskimo.'' No ``Canadian'' there! If the list doesn't include your particular ethnic origin, you're encouraged to write it in. The instruction reads: ``Examples of the other ethnic or cultural groups are: Portuguese, Greek, Indian from India, Pakistani, Filipino, Vietnamese, Japanese, Lebanese, Haitian, etc.'' Let's you and I assume ``Canadian'' is in the ``etc.'' This census-time surrender to multiculturalism's wonders is nothing knew. Thirty years ago as an MP I rebelled at the notion there is not such a category in mankind as a Canadian nationality, or a Canadian race, or a Canadian whatever. In Parliament I put this case: ``I happen to be a fifth generation Canadian. Probably my paternal ancestors came from England but if you came to figure my ethnic nationality, what is it? What about the Irish, Scots, Pennsylvania Dutch or any of these others that entered the strain? When the census enumerators come around I am going to tell them . . . I am a Canadian and this nonsense of ethnic origins in terms of so many of the people of this country does not mean a thing . . . When are we going to be able to declare ourselves Canadians and not just in terms of citizenship?'' In the past decade the long-indulged catering by politicians to an ethnic rainbow has bumped into considerable opposition (though most unfocused). And so slithering officials of StatsCan have taken evasive action. Question 15 is accompanied by the following note: ``While most people in Canada view themselves as Canadian, information about their ancestral origins has been collected since the 1901 census to reflect the changing composition of the Canadian population and is needed to ensure that everyone, regardless of his/her ethnic origin or cultural background, has equal opportunity to share fully in the economic, social, cultural and political life in Canada. Therefore, this question refers to the origins of this person's ancestors.'' This sop in the '91 census form has obviously impressed the Tory cabinet and silenced the more nationalistic Tory MPs. Why should a Canadian swallow the sop? What's it mean, this line that the origins of our ancestors are required so that we all have an equal opportunity to share in our nation's riches? You figure it out; I cannot. The serious offence in this costly catering to ethnics lies in StatsCan not recognizing a Canadian ethnicity and insisting most of us register an ethnicity that is now meaningless, and forcing this on us with the blessing of the Tory cabinet. To the devil with StatsCan and Mulroney! My ancestors were Canadian, and before them it's unknown or a jumble. In 1986 I insisted I was Canadian. I suspect many others came to the same conclusion. In the '86 census exactly 69,065 inhabitants of this country called themselves ethnic Canadians. We insisted our ancestry was Canadian. StatsCan was coy about revealing this remarkable number. It wasn't in any official publications. Only available on request! Why such coyness? Was it for technical reason called statistical significance because the ethnic question is based on a 20% sample? No, some totals for other ethnic groups were even smaller yet they were published. The reason for hiding the fact that StatsCan encountered 69,065 insistent Canadians is that it endangers the concept of multiculturalism, and it could spread like a cancer, blotting out the ethnic rainbow. Imagine what might happen if, for example, Ukrainian-speakers were given an even chance of declaring themselves (or their ancestors) as either Canadian or Ukrainians. It could crunch the membership roll call of ethnic organizations. But on the other hand, it might strengthen our national bonds if we became aware that most of us simply know we are just Canadians. The Statistics Act does not condone any act which might obstruct the collection of data by StatsCan. Therefore, I don't urge readers to ignore Question 15 on June 4. Answer it, according to your conscience. Do you see ours as a country that grew from modest beginnings to achievements of real worth, and is now endangered by internal, centrifugal forces? Ignore the printed precepts by the bureaucrats and write in: CANADIAN! The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Sunday, March 10, 1991 ID: 12330630 TAG: 199103100144 EDITION: Final SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle PAGE: C3 COLUMN: In Ottawa SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER SPICER'S FORUM: SOME DISCOURAGING WORDS It's discouraging when something so pitiful as the Spicer commission draws so much critical attention from both opposition MPs and reporters even though much of it was caused by a news ``hole'' after the Gulf war closed. I regret that I chose to disregard the Spicer enterprise after it was announced by Brian Mulroney last year. The cause seemed worthy even though I felt it was too late and otherwise hare-brained. Also, many thought there was a real need for broad, public dialogue by ordinary folks on the Constitution. So although I doubted, I left the enterprise alone. The format of discussion for anyone and everyone proved confusing and absolutely non-linear. The gist revealed was predictable, accentuating but not allaying what was clear last June. On appraising Canada, Quebecers are both way ahead and more in concert than the rest of us. I was sure they would either ignore or boycott the forum. They have. As for us, our soul-baring thus far just emphasizes the continuing reluctance to concede even more to the Quebecois than was in the Meech Lake accord. I'd also choked on some of the choices as commissioners. If Mulroney sought listeners to the people why appoint as leader such a bright, brittle, smart alec as Keith Spicer and side him with chronic gabbers like Richard Cashin and Jack Webster? (Webster, bless him, knew his own qualities and quit.) The July deadline meant Spicer and company would not have time for more than a crude, repetitious sampling of anglophone views. Nor would the commission have time for much beyond the linked banalities of loving Canada and wanting Quebec to stay. Politicians in power can rarely admit that something in process they have started should be stopped because it is irrelevant and a national embarrassment. So the inquiry will go on. The consolations are few. I do know that the chief administrator for the operation is able and frugally minded. And most of the commissioners are earnest and mean well. Now let me to a topic I haven't ignored - the anti- Americanism of the NDP. Such an antagonism as an inclination was present but never dominant in the old CCF and the early NDP. It's become more open and firm since the early '70s when ``Canadian'' unions began to flourish and so-called ``international'' ones declined or were superceded by Canadian ones (e.g. Bob White's Canadian Auto Workers). After the free trade issue was lost in the '88 election New Democrats held bitter retrospectives. How had John Turner and the Liberals taken over their issue? The answer was because they had muted their tirades against free trade with the U.S. for fear of the anti- American tag. And so, from the moment Iraq seized Kuwait the NDP out-wrestled the Liberals and Lloyd Axworthy for ownership of the Americans-as-evil issue. The NDP's force in both international affairs and the national economic policy is now openly fuelled by anti-Americanism. This open core of NDP ideology has its ironies. A party no longer boldly socialistic (see Bob Rae's Ontario government) being shaped more and more by a reading of the U.S. as greedy capitalism's stronghold and the global menace. From the minute Mulroney announced our token bit for the coalition forces, Audrey McLaughlin and her MPs were after him for sucking up to the ``despicable'' George Bush and betraying the UN. And particularly after the shooting began, the most televised and quoted of all NDP spokespersons, Stephen Lewis and Gerald Caplan, have been expressively horrified about Bush's war and victory. Such a slaughter of innocents, of ideals, of diabolically using Saddam Hussein as a cover for global domination. Of course, there is a public use in having the NDP as the party truly dedicated to anti-Americanism. It gives electors at least one clear choice in a period when partisan distinctiveness has been stronger over leaders than ideas. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Friday, March 08, 1991 ID: 12330113 TAG: 199103080176 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER HOW WOULD YOU SPEND THE MONEY? Let me get you on to priorizing. Priorizing is determining the order of importance of those programs or agencies to which our tax dollars go. Priorizing has had a brief vogue each year at federal budget time because a budget reminds us how much more Ottawa (and other governments) are spending than taking in with taxes or fees. Anyone can join the game but it's a fierce, argumentative one, especially during hard times. To a politician any cause or interest merits government funding if a determined group or association has sustained demands for it - and Canada has scores of such zealots. A few sentences from a post-budget speech in the House by Don Blenkarn (PC Mississauga South) the most candid of all MPs, will explain how the game might be played. He said, (Hansard, page 17, 815): ``What we have to do is very seriously priorize our claims on what we want from government so we get our demands against the public purse reduced to the lowest amount possible . . . ``A lot has been said about medicare. In the minister's budget speech he says that we must treat medicare as a must. I think all of us and our constituents treat medicare as a must, but we have to do some priorizing . . . If I asked my constituents whether they would rather have medicare or the CBC, I bet they vote for medicare. If one asked them whether they would have medicare or the National Film Board, I will bet they vote for medicare. If one asked them whether they want medicare or VIA Rail, I will bet they vote for medicare.'' I think Blenkarn's sound on medicare as a top priority with the people, say 10 out of a possible 10. But what number would you give the CBC? The NFB? VIA Rail? (I'd given them respectively, 5, 2, and 3.) Of course, there are scores of particular federal spending programs or agencies which get more than $1 million a year. To use Blenkarn's examples, in the 1991-92 year the CBC will get $1.03 billion from the government, the NFB $79.5 million, VIA Rail $412 million. Medicare? It's harder to be exact. First, because for most citizens ``medicare'' embraces universal medical treatment and universal hospital care; second, because governmentally such ``health'' programs are carried out by the provinces but sustained in part by federal funding to the provinces. In 1991-92 Ottawa will transfer $5.8 billion to the provinces for health services. Federal programs which take far more dollars annually than medicare and hospital care are transfers to persons under such programs as Old Age Security (OAS) at $14.06 billion (plus guaranteed income supplement or GIS of $4.3 billion) and unemployment insurance (UI) at $17.2 billion. Family allowances will only take $2.8 billion. In all, one-quarter or $40 billion of the almost $160 billion Ottawa will spend in the coming year, goes for transfer payments to persons. Just over another quarter ($41 billion) will go merely to pay interest on the federal debt. That staggering proportion - half of federal spending - in cash to individuals or to meet debt charges is the reason there are some people (few of them politicians) who decry OAS pensions for the well-to-do and want larger pensions for those ill-to-do. And this brings us back to priorizing. I don't know how Blenkarn would rate OAS but where ``medicare'' gets a 10 from me, universal OAS gets just a 6. To play priorizing, we need a copy of the Estimates, part II, 1991-92. Here's a grab-bag sampler of some items from it for which I'd give a priority below 5, on a scale of 1 to 10. On these either we should spend less or, in some cases, nothing. ITEM COST PRIORITY Senate $45.7 million 0 House of Commons $292 million 4 Centre for Management Devt. $11.7 million 0 Official Languages Commission $13.2 million 3 Official Languages promotion $48.8 million 3 Official Languages grants $247 million 4 Cdn. Security Intelligence Service $214 million 2 National Arts Centre $21.6 million 1 Immigration & Refugee Board $86 million 0 Western Economic Diversification $292 million 4 Cdn. Space Agency $298.4 million 3 Investment Canada $10.2 million 0< Advisory Council, Status of Women $3.6 million 0 Cdn. Institute, Peace & Security $5 million 0 Cdn. Race Relations Foundation $24 million 0 Heritage culture & languages $6.2 million 0< Law Reform Commission $4.9 million 3 Canada Council $1.03 billion 4 Amateur Sport $58 million 4 Cdn. Unity Task Force $8.1 million 1 Cdn. Human Rights Commission $16.7 million 4 Native Friendship Centre transfers $17 million 3 The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Wednesday, March 06, 1991 ID: 12329684 TAG: 199103060141 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER DELUSIONS OF GRANDEUR In early 1988, as Barbara McDougall became minister of employment and immigration, a pile-up of refugees was disturbing Canadians. Some felt many refugees were bogus while others thought rules and processes were far too harsh for victims of oppression. As McDougall took command a new agency to solve the refugee dilemma was getting under way - the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB). Its first head, Gordon Fairweather, is a soft-spoken, teddy bear of a man - lawyer, ex-MP, with a Red Tory ranking. McDougall and Fairweather seemed a winning pair. Warm hearts could never fault his c/v, and she'd done so well as a minister under House fire that talk grew that here was the best woman prospect to head the Tory party since Flora MacDonald soared and sank in 1975 and 1976. The IRB was given a huge budget. Scores of people, many with great multicultural credits were hired, and panels and hearings began to roll, mostly in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Each claimant was to have a Charter right to show why he or she was a real refugee. The backlog of claimants was very high, and growing. Hundreds a month from Third World countries have kept coming. They have heard Canada is the only western country which would not repulse them out of hand if they make a Canadian port of entry. Ending the backlog while dealing justly with the claimants had the highest of priorities. McDougall-Fairweather almost guaranteed the problem would be gone in two years. Well . . . three years later the IRB's an expensive fiasco. And in the failure, it is McDougall, not Fairweather, who's lost reputation. (He's so nice, and she isn't.) Her forecasts for the IRB are out of whack. Worse, for her standing, she misread immigration policy for a sagging economy. Among MPs her rating has plummeted where it counts most, in the Tory caucus. So it was a surprise a fortnight ago when the Ottawa Citizen reported McDougall had personal staff in the U.S. ``to learn all about running campaigns, political advertisements - including the nasty, negative kind - and conventions.'' This can only mean one thing, said the Citizen: ``She's getting ready for a run at the Conservative leadership.'' Why would she be setting her sights on such an unenviable job? Well, she is of the right gender for the '90s, matching the NDP's would-be PM, Audrey McLaughlin. A lot of male chauvinists would rate McDougall even or ahead of McLaughlin in form and style, and she's from Toronto, the media power centre for English Canada. She's smooth with critics, and as good as any other MP at House repartee. But her three-year, downhill run at immigration casts doubts on her judgment and competence. Her portfolio is a beastly one but the PMO is worse. Six months into her present portfolio I rated the government as ``ineptly handling'' immigration, basing that judgment on the backlog of unprocessed refugee claims, then at a mere 50,000. Before I wrote this, the PM had told me his government was having ``a terrible time with refugee policy'' but he had great hopes for McDougall, whom he defined as ``a very good politician.'' Shortly McDougall's intrinsic flaw in the immigration job became clear. Toronto shapes her! She decided that she and the government had much to gain electorally by ethnicking, a gambit long mastered by the Grits. She bonded with Montrealer Gerry Weiner, the multiculturalism minister, in extolling ethnicity and diversity. She also rejected amnesty for the swarm of refugees on hand (which was brave) but was obscure on how the problem would be solved. Further, morale of her immigration officials crashed because her public comments played to the loving hearts who wished millions more could join us for better lives. She demeaned the coinage of citizenship when she let landed immigrants bring parents over before they themselves were citizens. She said the distinction between a citizen and a non-citizen was ``artificial.'' And in December, 1988, she gutted the new ``tough'' immigration legislation passed by the House of Commons in emergency session for an alleged national crisis. She did it this removing the ``safe third country'' provision. This automatically denied refugee status here for anyone who came from a ``safe third country'' (e.g., Tamils from Germany). After the gutting, the total of unprocessed claimants soared over 150,000. Ever more IRB staff hasn't met this challenge. Last October McDougall charmed her friend, Michael Wilson, into approving an expansionist immigration policy. Even a jaded columnist sniffed rough times ahead, but not McDougall. She defied advice of a House committee on immigration in announcing the annual intake would rise from 170,000 to 250,000 in three years. It took her three months to face and end this foolishness with a ruling that registration of independent applicants was suspended. McDougall's ministry has another side - employment. Here too her own caucus is angry at new restrictions on unemployment insurance. And her new ``job strategy'' produces too few jobs for their liking. This sketch of a minister buffeted by issues in her ministry suggests her leadership aspirations are nonsensical. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Monday, March 04, 1991 ID: 12329221 TAG: 199103040130 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER QUEBEC WON'T CRY FOR EUGENE FORSEY One must swivel to the death of Tommy Douglas for comparable space and time given to that rolled out for the late Eugene Forsey. It's almost boggling so many came to cherish this indefatigable arguer and writer of letters to the editor. He himself mocked his popular cachet and would deplore any rating beside Douglas, the architect of so much of Canada's social system. There is an aspect of the remarkable obituaries for Forsey that brings me back to him and to the dilemma first expressed some 150 years ago by Lord Durham at finding here ``two nations warring in the bosom of a single state.'' Ten days after Forsey's death I called two Quebecers with a query. One of them was prominent for years in French language journalism, the other still is. I knew that each appraises what's being written and said in the Quebec media about politics and the role of Quebec in Canada. What had they noted in French, in print or on TV, in notice or analysis of Forsey's long career? With each man there was a long pause after the question. I ended it by explaining why I asked. After a wide scan of English language papers from coast to coast I had everywhere found long obituaries, editorials and other notice of Forsey as ``a great Canadian.'' Then I had run through copies of three large French dailies in Quebec which are handy to me and found nothing of substance about the man whom English Canadians are remembering far more than most prominent politicians who die. Both men responded that once I mentioned Forsey they got the drift of my query. They had noticed without thinking on it how Forsey's death had triggered a flood of praise and fond reminiscence. Yes . . . in English Canada. Neither could recall even one substantial resume of Forsey's career in the French media of Quebec. One of the men said, ``I know what you're thinking. There it is. The two solitudes!'' And there it is! It's also ironical. Forsey was 66 years old in 1970 when Pierre Trudeau put him in the Senate and on his way to recognition as ``our foremost constitutional authority'' (as Canadian Press tagged him). Before this appointment, the only wide public attention Forsey had gained outside Ottawa or the academe came from two of his actions in left-wing politics. The first move was fugitive and futile. He ran for the CCF against George Drew in Carleton riding in 1948 and lost badly as the just retired Tory premier of Ontario won the Commons seat he needed to be the leader of the official Opposition. He tackled Drew again in the general election of 1949, losing by 16,000 votes. His second move was the significant one for his future. It came in 1961 as the socialist CCF party, in concert with the Canadian Labor Congress (CLC) founded a ``new'' party (the NDP). The CCF had done badly in Quebec so a big aim for the new cast was a breakthrough there. Forsey was fluent in speaking and writing in French. He was a socialist and one of the CCF's founders. Further, after McGill University cut his academic career over his radicalism, it was the CLC's predecessor which hired him as research director, a post he held from 1942 to 1961. In the two-year prelude to the NDP's 1961 founding convention there was much debate on policies for the new party. Large in this was the best policy for the Canada-Quebec issue. The cadre managing the party went for an approach which soon was tagged ``co-operative federalism'' and shortly was espoused by Mike Pearson and the Liberal Party (until Trudeau joined his team in 1965). The equivalent tag for co-operative federalism today is ``asymmetrical federalism.'' This NDP theme recognized that the Canadian federation had been formed by ``two founding peoples.'' Here was the famous ``deux nations'' idea. A Quebec royal commission (Tremblay) had floated it a few years before under the aegis of Maurice Duplessis, then premier of Quebec and an ``autonomist'' rather feared in in English Canada. John Diefenbaker, then prime minister, mocked the NDP's two nations gambit. So did Trudeau if it meant Quebec was one of the two nations. Forsey detested the two nations myth as bad history (and it was). Its effect must lead inexorably to Quebec differing institutionally from the other provinces and the latter demanding what Quebec had - in sum, to the ruin of any strong federal leadership. And so Forsey refused to move from the CCF to the NDP. He flamed out openly against this accommodation to Quebec. His dissent made a big news splash at the founding convention, not least because he was fluent in French, and a lot because so many critics of socialism and unions were eager for any good argument for clobbering this menace from the left. Forsey's open rejection of two nations and the new party was brave because it jeopardized his job. Of course, he neither foresaw his Senate seat nor his eventual apotheosis as the federalist icon of anglophones. From 1961 to his death two weeks ago he held disputatiously to his federalist views (which are also Trudeau's). Constitutionally, Quebec must be a province like the others. This core to Forsey certainly got through to English Canadians. It explains the current praise and lament. Yet Forsey is no folk hero with the Quebecois. Two solitudes it is! The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Sunday, March 03, 1991 ID: 13119487 TAG: 199103030195 EDITION: Final SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle PAGE: C6 COLUMN: In Ottawa SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER LORDS AND LADIES OF THE HILL Shouldn't federal Ottawa give us deeds symbolic of both leadership and restraint? Yes, yes, yes. Any fair person who skims the new ``highlights'' of federal spending for 1991-92 finds a wide array of reductions almost across the board of federal operations. It's also clear the scary rise in the dollars going to cover interest on the national debt feeds the large deficit, not fresh programs or inordinate expansion of current programs. The reductions and curbs have caused a cacophony of protest from several score interest groups. Each bewails the cuts and caps or small increases that affect them. There isn't any general, broad acceptance that we are mortgaged so deeply for so long because Ottawa has spent so much more than it has been taking in. The most strident bellicosity has come from several leaders of public service unions who immediately declared arrangements for a general strike of several hundred thousand federal workers. It has seemed to me for 10 years or more that the federal cabinet and all the parliamentary caucuses must recognize they have to be models in getting governmental spending in line with revenue if we are to master debt-deficit demands before we slide to Third World ranking. How a model? Aren't symbolic things often impractical or petty in dollar terms? Yes, a leaner Parliament might only trim $30 or $40 million from this year's total federal spending of $159 billion. Let me not misspeak on parliamentarians as symbolic wastrels. Parliament is wasteful and free spending but there are also many able MPs and some able ministers who work hard. Of course, a lot of their efforts is sheerly partisan and for self-survival. But the misplaced slogging only makes the lavish travesty worse Some $400 million will go this year to sustain the PCO-PMO, the House, and the Senate, yet so much of their respective activities are largely sham and unnecessary, even to the charade of question period and the scrums. It is figuratively criminal at a time of enforced restraint when citizens damned by government debt look at extravagance on Parliament Hill. And the crime would be heightened for most of them if they knew the insignificance of so much that MPs and senators do, especially as alleged legislators and scrutinizers of spending. Citizens are coming to see some 400 men and women acting out being important - VIPs. Every day when cabinet meets one sees 30 or more chauffeurs with limousines stacked for several hours around the buildings. Has any country such a surfeit of ministers - 38 now, and each personally served by a drove of henchpersons? This drove is aside from the departmental or agency bureaucracy which each minister allegedly leads. Most ministers must even have an aide beside them as they walk to the chamber, perhaps to record some precious thought. Now even many backbench MPs move around with aides and cellular phones. Out of the Hill post offices flows a relentless, costly propaganda, mostly for the homefolks. The paper, printing, and delivery costs run to many millions of dollars. Of course, the bill for first class or business class airline seats for MPs and senators is staggering. The salaries and allowances for parliamentarians are high and the pensions bewilderingly generous. Parliament's possibilities as an inspiration in tough times are extraordinary, but MPs and senators have the same tunnel vision of the groups which rage at any federal restraint that touches their interest. From the Tories on the Hill - from Brian Mulroney - down the message on extravagance is really ``Do as we say, not as we do.'' As for the others, only the single Reform Party MP advocates cutting Hill services and perks. It's shameful. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Friday, March 01, 1991 ID: 13119186 TAG: 199103010155 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER THE SAME OLD SPENDTHRIFT GRITS Right after a federal budget the barrage of criticism it causes is impressive. Was this one, Michael Wilson's seventh, so thoroughly bad and wrong-headed? The most concerted criticism comes from the opposition parties. We must pay most attention to what the Liberals declaim. They remain the likeliest alternative to our Tory governors. Let's look at the Liberals' ideas for the economy, for dealing with the recession. We have in hand last week's ``Report of the Liberal task force on recession and the Canadian economy.'' Jean Chretien sent forth the task force in January. It held hearings across Canada and took 300 submissions. This report is a ``synopsis,'' rushed forward for discussion because the present government lacks ``the will, compassion, and forethought to act.'' The report's main theme is that the Liberals are listening to the people, the Tories have not. The Liberals now know what Canadians want. They are developing a ``new economic plan.'' This plan is ``one built on a low dollar and lower interest rates . . . on adjustment programs to help the workers and firms which have been shoved aside by the Canada-U.S. free trade agreement . . . The national government must institute policies which will allow our workers and companies the opportunity to restructure, modernize and retrain in order to deal with global competition.'' The Liberals find the people want the GST eliminated and they agree. Unlike New Democrats, the Liberals are not advocating the severing of the free trade agreement but it must be reopened ``to avert the compete devastation of our manufacturing sector.'' The Liberals are considering a fiscal policy so flexible that no ``single, rigid monetary policy is to apply coast to coast.'' They also want more money for training and education and the restoration of the funds ``lost in recent years for post-secondary education and Medicare.'' They want reversals on the reductions in VIA Rail, the elimination of local programming by the CBC, and the closing of rural post offices. It's clear the Liberals are ready for much more federal spending to deal with the recession. This emphasis pervades the Liberal report. The federal government must lead us out of the recession by increased spending and the revival of programs reduced or axed by the present government. Nowhere is there a stress on the prime concern of Wilson and the target of his budget, i.e., the debt-deficit dilemma with the surging burden of interest. Liberals say the country is fed up with a government obsessed with ``the balance sheet.'' This marked difference between the parties on a much raised issue has continued post-budget. The crucial Liberal line on the budget is in the traditional lack of confidence motion in the House. It was put by the House elder of the party, Herb Gray. Here's his amendment: ``This House condemns the government for presenting a budget that offers no relief to Canadians from the made-in-Canada recession created in 1990, undermines the social and economic foundation of Canadian federalism, increases the already unfair and disproportionate financial burden on lower income and middle income Canadians and provides no program that will, in fact bring about the recovery of the Canadian economy.'' Gray scorned debt-deficit excuses: `` . . . the minister of finance . . . talked about what he plans to do to reduce the deficit, but he does not admit at all that the national debt has doubled, yes doubled, since his government came to power. Canadians should not bother to listen to what this minister has to say about the deficit and the public debt, because he has no credibility left on this issue or any other issue.'' Three other Liberal MPs who have responsibilities or reputations in economic matters have also responded to the latest Wilson budget: Roy Maclaren, chairman of the party's economic policy committee; John Manley, the caucus co-critic on finance; and leadership aspirant Paul Martin Jr. Martin argued in question period that an ``intellectually bankrupt'' Wilson has ``trashed the Green Plan.'' Why? Because ``the fiscal deficit is more important than the environmental deficit.'' Clearly, it is not to Martin. Manley issued a root and branch critique of the budget. He mocked Wilson for trying to fool taxpayers with his cuts in payments to the provinces and in slashing public servants. Nowhere in his remarks, however, did he mention the federal debt-deficit dilemma. Maclaren dealt with Wilson's big issue only on the grandest scale. Wilson is obsessed because he's failed over seven years to handle the problem. His fault is in ``an economic philosophy which holds that government has no role in the economy and a political agenda which has resulted in the fragmentation of Canada along regional, linguistic and social lines.'' Maclaren lists five matters ``the government must address.'' One is Canada's growing foreign indebtedness. This is only an aspect, not the core of the debt growth. So even Maclaren, the most business-oriented of the Liberal MPs, does not give any primacy in Liberal policy to our large and rising federal debt load. In short, the likely alternative we have to our governors would spend much more and fret little about debt. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Wednesday, February 27, 1991 ID: 13118908 TAG: 199102270152 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 ILLUSTRATION: drawing of MICHAEL WILSON SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER MIKE STICKS TO HIS GAME PLAN Ah, if only the budget sermon were shorter and stuck closer to its inspirational aim and the preacher's text. Michael Wilson's aim is ``a sustained economic recovery.'' And his text was surely this: ``The key to a sustained economic recovery is a permanent decline in both inflation and inflation expectations. That will allow a substantial and durable reduction in interest rates. The government's plan for economic recovery is aimed at achieving this by reducing inflation expectations in three important ways: ``1) By ensuring continued spending control that will lead to a balanced budget in the mid-1990s; ``2) By the adoption of a responsible anti-inflation wage policy for the federal public service; ``3) By setting out clearly inflation targets . . . over the next five years so expectations can adjust in advance.'' Those ``ways'' seem rather mindless without details. A means to appreciate them is to go back to last year's budget. The core of the 1990 budget was not about taxation. A year ago Wilson said: ``There will be no new taxes in this budget.'' What he was after was bearing down harder than ever before on fighting the debt and the annual deficits by (a) controlling federal spending AND (b) by putting more of the burden in this battle onto provincial and municipal governments. In brief, the 1991 budget carries further the 1990 propositions. There are two jumps in tax levies (of unemployment insurance premiums and a shocking boost in tobacco taxes). Together these will only net the government $3.8 billion next year. This year Wilson also left alone the social transfers to persons (old age security, family allowances) and there will be no definite restraints in native spending. In ideology, Wilson continues his emphasis of the 1990 budget that individual self-reliance and free markets are basic to his thinking and rank well ahead of interest group associations and collective activities. If you get something done in politics without much hullabaloo then it's best to continue. Last year Wilson got handily away with capping or cutting the level of funding going to provincial governments, particularly the three wealthiest provinces. Oh, there were objections from premiers and their treasurers, but somehow not even regional rages rose high enough to affect the Tory government. Of course, Wilson repeated last year's lines on the higher and rising spending of other governments, and elaborated using an awkward short form, PLH, for the provincial-local-health basket of programs and spending. Nothing in Wilson's argument is put in terms of our constitutional crisis. That is, there is no justification in restraint on contributions which go to PLH based on this being a devolutionary trend of power and responsibility to the provinces from Ottawa. The justification is all tied to minding and reducing the debt-deficit dilemma. You may recall that this squeezing of money to the provinces involved sums in the billions, far greater than the cuts totalling less than $100 million which caused such fuss last year from feminists, natives and cultural agencies. This budget, like all its predecessors, will get a lot of immediate criticism. Opposition critics never like a budget, in whole, or in parts. And there are interest groups, most of which look narrowly at the budget for how it affects them. Most of their uproar won't arise till Thursday when the ``estimates'' come forth, setting out particulars, e.g., on what the CBC or Canada Council is to get. Will any groups approve of the budget in large? Maybe the big business spokesmen will, or at least not grumble too much, seeing Wilson as trying to be responsible and resisting the opposition demands for ``kick-starting'' the economy with major increases in job creation programs. While the provinces, especially B.C., Ontario and Alberta, will be hostile to their treatment in the budget the loudest and longest uproar will come from the leaders of unionized federal employees. Already they talk bravely of a ``general strike,'' figuring on immense public support. But in hard times being limited to a wage or salary raise of only 3% a year for the next three years may not rouse national backing. The most interesting new gimmicks in the budget are obvious: First, the DSRF or ``debt servicing and reduction fund;'' second, the Americanism of legislated spending limits by the year for five years. The DSRF is a sort of sinking fund to be used only for debt reduction. Its dollars will come from revenues from disposing of Crown corporations, from gifts and (here's the heart of the gimmick) from any surplus GST revenues. Surplus, that is, to what the government profiled as coming from the manufacturing sales tax superceded by the GST. As for the American model of legislating limits on spending beforehand, it sounds better than it is. If Mulroney is ousted in 1992, how long would Jean Chretien or Sheila Copps take to legislate it away? Michael Wilson is a cautious, conservatively minded man, and the content of this budget tells me that at last he has a grip on his very liberally minded boss. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Monday, February 25, 1991 ID: 13118660 TAG: 199102250174 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER ISSUES THAT WILL DIVIDE THE HOUSE Our returning MPs have much to chew on beyond recession, the Gulf war, the budget, and the constitutional crisis. Here are some of their agenda items, with the emphasis on recent reports from parliamentary committees. One expects Jean Chretien and his Liberals will want to probe the acceptance by one Michel Roy of a post as ``senior adviser'' to the prime minister. Roy's mandate will be constitutional issues, his desk in the PFRO, Brian Mulroney's office for federal-provincial relations. Roy seems a good catch for Mulroney, and his status at the highest bureaucratic level is reminiscent of that accorded Dalton Camp from 1986-88. Roy was a protege of Claude Ryan, now a prominent minister in Robert Bourassa's cabinet. In 1978 he succeeded Ryan as editor-in-chief of Le Devoir. Then in 1982 Roy went on to be chief editorial writer of Quebec's major daily, La Presse. I hear from Quebec reporters that Mulroney and Roy have been friendly for years and they think Roy's views on federalism are much like Ryan's. The two most contentious, committee reports among many before the House are: 1) On the subject matter of Bill C-80 (firearms); and 2) ``Open Skies: Meeting The Challenge'' from the special committee on Canada-U.S. air transport services. Three others are less controversial but not without strong critics. They are ``It's Almost too Late,'' the report from the Senate subcommittee on veterans affairs; ``Amateur sport; Future Challenges,'' by the House subcommittee on fitness and amateur sport; and ``Forests of Canada: The Federal Role,'' by the House subcommittee on forestry. The Senate group is demanding that merchant seamen who served in dangerous waters in World War II be given all the entitlements that veterans of military service have had. Since so few of them are left, the cost will not be high, so bet that DVA minister Gerry Merrithew will get a bill into the House to give the remnant what they ought to have had 40 years ago. The report on amateur sport is only be of a considerable interest to the now considerable, highly subsidized bureaucracies of the national sports organizations. (These number some four score.) It is possible that the rather rudimentary legislation on amateur sport enacted 35 years ago will be refurbished by a new bill, but it will not have much priority. The forestry report touches on matters more basic to the economy and the federal reach than either veterans' affairs or amateur sport. It has numerous ideas on what the new federal department of forestry should do. These have had surprisingly broad backing by a range of associations, including wildlife and environmental groups, but they've also rubbed the jurisdictional pride of several provinces, including Alberta and Quebec. Probably the formal federal intentions won't be spelled out until the next session and a fresh speech from the throne. Two publications of last week do not have the formal impetus to consideration of committee reports but each is certain to be grist for committee discussion and new amending bills as well as topics for MPs' speeches. They are the two-year study of immigration by the Economic Council of Canada, titled New Faces in the Crowd, which recommends reducing intake of newcomers in the short run, and Family Violence, a ``situation paper.'' The latter issues by Perrin Beatty, the health minister, also had a report on child sexual abuse, plus program plans with spending intentions. The report on firearms is the most bothersome of all to each caucus because it does not divide MPs along party lines and positions. Yes, they are all against violence and killing by guns. And they agree something must be done about violence against women. But on firearms control they split along the old line of ``from the city/from the plow.'' In the last election the Grits in particular picked up a lot of Tory ridings, far from metropolitan areas. While there are far more city and suburban ridings than rural or hinterland ones, constituents in the latter know their MPs better and can get at them more easily. People on farms, in the bush and in small towns have taken ownership of guns and their use for pest control or in recreational ways for granted. Game, fish, and hunt clubs are almost as numerous as women's organizations and quite fierce - although most MPs fear the latter more. MPs also know police associations want super-tough regulation of access to firearms and their use. The committee had MPs from both sides of the case, so its report tried to pay off the harshest criticism of guns in many hands by recommending stringent licensing of guns and those who possess them, without much restricting the types of legal guns. It's interesting that the phrase ``the gun lobby'' has now emerged. It's an epithet the women throw at those against stringent gun controls. They allege there's a regrettable slop-over here of that American celebration of individualism, the constitutional right to bear arms. The legislative result will be a compromise, after much further quarrelling. My hunch is the disputation in Parliament will also be very fierce over the proposals of Transport Minister Doug Lewis to lever more access to the U.S. for our two major airlines by swapping off more American entry, and he's unlikely to gain approval in the next year. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Sunday, February 24, 1991 ID: 13118531 TAG: 199102240215 EDITION: Final SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle PAGE: C7 COLUMN: In Ottawa SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER WILSON HAS LITTLE ROOM TO MANOEUVRE Prefiguring the federal budget is a mug's game, and a lot of us are mugs. This is Michael Wilson's seventh budget (plus the economic preview he issued in late 1984). Each year since 1987 there's been talk on the Hill that the next budget would be Wilson's last; he would switch to external affairs or go to a prime post in the corporate world. This season there's talk he'll head for Bay Street a few months after a budget. Maybe. Because Mulroney still has the highest regard for him and his caucus standing is solid there will be pressure to continue, at least till the economy rallies. Who might replace Wilson? Gilles Loiselle, head of treasury board, seems the obvious choice. He's an adroit parliamentary performer and much admired by the PM. There's just enough in his past, however, to make him doubtful for finance while the question of Quebec leaving Canada is so paramount. Loiselle was the able orchestrator in the U.K. in 1980 and 1981 of the Levesque government's campaign against Pierre Trudeau's constitutional initiative. In short, he has PQ antecedents. One should note also that the storm which blew over Wilson during the rowdy legislative passage of the GST has passed. At its peak there were many demands for Wilson's head, and there were stories his writ was ruined, his usefulness done. But seven weeks into the application of the GST Wilson's repute is again up-scale. Last week Wilson mentioned how hard it is to make this budget. He's circumscribed by deepening recession, the unanticipated war expenditures and the constitutional crisis. The debt burden which has weighed on him since he began in 1984 is heavier than ever, and his forecast last year of a marked drop in his deficit has been blown by the economic downturn. Some 27% of the federal expenditures in the year ahead must go to pay the interest charges on the debt. Further, Wilson has from 42% to 45% of federal spending ticketed for social programs such as pensions and health plans shared with the provinces. These programs are the very devil to cut, and never more so than in a marked downturn with fears of mass unemployment. Willy-nilly, federal defence costs in the year ahead will take 8% to 9% of the budget. And so a rough addition of debt charges, social costs, and defence spending shows almost 80% or some four-fifths of federal spending is already determined for Wilson. He cannot go after more revenue through tax increases on persons or corporations. There may even be some cuts in income tax to spur consumer spending and more corporate investment. On Tuesday Wilson will emphasize the global scope of the recession. He will herald an anticipated recovery in the U.S. and lower interest rates there. This will help him and the Bank of Canada with our rates, and encourage entrepreneurs, farmers, home-buyers, etc. He should show less fret over inflation than he has in the past, while avowing he has not forgotten the debt-deficit dilemma. Wilson will deploy several extra billions for quick job creation, probably in municipal works programs and he'll parade some showy cuts, largely in the ``Parliament and government services'' envelope. Of course, this budget will be much overshadowed by the climax of the Gulf war, and this will water the vitriol of opposition critics and interst groups as they cry disaster and travesty. By Easter the budget will be largely forgotten by most of us, but its legislative items are likely to take up parliamentary time into 1992. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Friday, February 22, 1991 ID: 13118256 TAG: 199102220215 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER A RARE JEWEL AMONG POLITICIANS Almost every year for the past 25 I had Eugene Forsey as a guest on my TV program. Late last fall was the last one, our topic, Life on the Fringe, his entertainment about some parts of his busy life. After the taping stopped Eugene interrupted my ``That was good,'' with deliberate shakes of his head. ``I was not sharp,'' he said. ``It's maddening. I was fine this morning . . . but I tire, I tire. I get fuzzy.'' He exaggerated, yet he was right. He went on to say there was no point in urging him to write another book or a much broadened second edition of Life on the Fringe. He wasn't up to it. Further, he cut thousands of words from his manuscript to satisfy the publisher. He couldn't turn back to it. His immediate aims were simple: To go to Newfoundland and a sitting of the province's assembly in his honor, then get to Victoria and his friends for a rest away from the cold Ottawa winter. At Victoria the Forsey trail ended; now he's for memories and cherishing as a great citizen. A few weeks ago Northrop Frye, another eminent ``Companion'' died. Several people who knew that I had known him as professor and sometime adviser asked me ``What was he really like?'' Clearly, Frye was a great man, a genius, but . . . was he scary, or kind, or irascible, or hard to figure? It's hard to imagine Canadians more different than Frye and Forsey in physique and mannerisms, yet they shared some attributes, in particular what I can only describe paradoxically as a perfect blend of genuine modesty and great confidence. Neither took himself when among others with prideful seriousness. Each detested reverence and was embarrassed by it or by praise. Both were great talkers with exceptional but far from high-brow vocabularies. Each as I saw him was very generous with his time and knowledge, especially for young people. Of course, Forsey revelled in speaking and public performances far more than Frye, and he'd grin about his ``hammish'' bent. He loved an argument, almost for its own sake, and he could take it as well as hand it out. Frye was not nearly as disputatious, and I felt after witnessing sharp engagements he had with antagonistic students that he feared them because he himself went so fiercely for the jugular. Forsey as a teacher lived for such encounters. Among my mementos of Forsey is a letter of 1979 in which he expressed generous appreciation of a column in which I praised his work as a senator. (He was about to be retired by the 75 years clause.) He wrote that I gave his work too high a rating, largely because I was using him as a contrast to show up (unfairly!) the Senate and senators as useless and decrepit. Then he got to work, nailing me for one clear factual error, a dubious use of a quotation, a gross misinterpretation of the Constitution, and a total misreading of his association with Pierre Trudeau. He tore to shreds my labelling of him as a ``Trudolator'' with examples of open disagreement over many years. I had argued that a newspaper or network should take him on as political columnist or commentator. He dealt with that this way, leaving me something to ponder: ``I couldn't do a regular column, or a regular broadcast, to save my neck. How you chaps manage it is, for me, one of the mysteries which are quite insoluble. Every day, and in every way, I know less and less!'' Of course, if this were so, where did it leave us practitioners? Eugene Forsey was a jewel. Those of us ashamed of Canada's slight contribution to the coalition forces in the Gulf get little from the announcement by Defence Minister Bill McKnight that our squadron of CF-18s is to be readied for ground attack missions. One could guess that some ministers have always wanted a larger contribution but were unable to convince Brian Mulroney that neither the peace movement in Canada nor the prophecies of revulsion by Quebecers at foreign military ventures would be as strong as he had anticipated. It's possible the mandarins of external affairs who advise Joe Clark realized our piddly, little-risk Canadian force could lose us our place at the table at the likes of Big 7 economic summits. Will the Americans and British who've put in so much in manpower and resources forget which ``allies'' really came and those who sent tokens? Strip away the slick of swiftness and power a CF-18 symbolizes and get to men in life-threatening situations. Just one squad of U.S. Marines, among hundreds, or one troop of British tanks, among a score, has more people at hazard than our lone air squadron. It may seem crude, even barbaric, to make this point without an historical corollary so many Canadians forget - notably those who revel in peace-keeping. How do the peace lovers think Canada entered a ``golden age of influence'' post World War II? As an architect of the UN! Of NATO! Whence came the writ Lester Pearson carried as leader in world diplomacy in the 1950s? The answer is not through Canada being chipper for the good cause on the near sidelines of battle. It came from sending soldiers, sailors and airmen by the thousands into battle and backing them up with great resources and the domestic economy. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Wednesday, February 20, 1991 ID: 13117942 TAG: 199102200185 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER INDIAN BANDS OFTEN OUT OF TUNE A parliamentary committee is now examining the causes and course of the crisis which began at Oka, Que. over a golf course extension and dominated the Canadian summer last year. The crisis closed with a surrender to soldiers by a last group of Mohawk ``warriors'' and assurances of governmental priority for the grievances of the two reserves most involved, Kanesatake (Oka) and Kahnawake (Montreal). There have been many discussions between federal officials and people of the bands. Although no one is yet declaring failure or breakdown, news reports indicate a familiar difficulty which the MPs will soon be probing: When Indians and Canadian officials deal it's very hard to get members of a band to agree on a policy, accept it, then abide by it. Repeatedly, where conflicts have flared into blockades or violence between bands and white communities or enterprises, the militant members of the band have not had the concerted approval of the band's majority. This has been the case in troubles at the three Mohawk reserves at Oka, Chateauguay, and Cornwall, and in both Quebec and B.C. over logging roads and in Alberta over irrigation dams. In brief, it's a rare native ``nation'' that accepts what most of us who are not Indian consider basic to a responsible, democratic process: i.e., one member-one vote; regular elections of leaders; leaders with an executive mandate for an assured term; and procedures for debate of an executive's policies and their approval or rejection. Indians are long on debate, short on decision-making, and prone to reconsideration, then rejection, of policies seemingly approved. There are two recent, major cases of such reconsideration and rejection. 1) In the far northwest a huge land settlement with the Dene seemed clinched, then was turned back. 2) Two years ago a constitutional plan of self-determination and division of the Arctic territory into two parts seemed set. The eastern natives, largely Inuit, are ready to go ahead with a new province of Nunavut. Those who represent the largely Indian, western natives, put this off for more examination and more negotiations with Ottawa. In the last week three very different publications on aboriginal affairs show how hard it is for natives to find and sustain common cause - locally, regionally, or nationally - and why a readiness of governments to deal often peters away in conferences and briefs. The natives protest and cry of broken promises and the public is baffled because it has long assumed guilt for past callousness and indifference to native demands and needs. The first is a pamphlet from the Mackenzie Institute (paper No. 21) by Maurice Tugwell and John Thompson, titled The Legacy of Oka. It has a useful chronology of the crisis, a fair appreciation of why the military were more effective than the police, and this conclusion (which seems sound to me though it won't to many): ``During the crisis, there was a tendency by the authorities, particularly at the federal level, to reward crime and violence and the lawless elements fostering them through rapt attention, at the expense of the moderates who were ignored. Negotiations with criminals and terrorists, if that is what they are, ought to be tactical only - designed to prevent or end violence. Broader issues such as ownership of land should be addressed subsequently only with responsible leaders.'' The second publication is more difficult, fascinating, and positive than the first. It's an issue of the periodical Northern Perspectives (Vol. 18, No. 4) put out by the Canadian Arctic Resources Committee and titled Nunavut Revisited: Nation Building In Canada's North. It's largely an edited record of a discussion on how those in the Eastern Arctic may get a province and sustain it. The participants were leaders of the Inuit federation, leaders of the Northwest Territories' government and senior officials from Ottawa, in particular Richard Van Loon, senior assistant deputy minister for Northern Affairs, plus several constitutional experts. Clearly, the crucial element missing is not ``white'' willingness but agreement among the aborigines. The issue opens with a theme couplet which the subsequent discussion sustains. ``Slowly, quietly, beyond the glare of the TV lights Canada's newest province is taking shape.'' The third publication will be a reference sourcebook for years. It's a paperback from the University of Toronto Press by historian Peter Schmalz, titled The Ojibwa of Southern Ontario. This well-done book is a caution to hopes of agreement among Indians on their future course. But the grist of the story is the endurance and survival by a neglected people under intense duress and eventually scattered in over thirty locales in the most developed part of Canada. The history runs from the early 1700s when the Ojibwa ended the Iroquois domination of the region to the current ``renaissance'' of the Ojibwa people. The account sketches the ruin of the fur trade and any worth in hunting and fishing, the debilitating effects of reserve life and the failures of Ottawa's educational and farming policies to assimilate the Ojibwa. Praise be, the conclusion is upbeat - survival now becoming a revival. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Monday, February 18, 1991 ID: 13117672 TAG: 199102180172 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER BUT IT'S NOT THAT ELEMENTARY, WATSON Two weeks ago a new interest group was launched in response to ``an outpouring of concern and anger across the country'' over the cuts in federal funding for ``a national treasure'' - the CBC. A spokesman for The One Hundred Days of Action Coalition said it plans an intensive lobby of MPs to rescue the CBC and put it on a secure basis. In Ottawa a week ago Patrick Watson, chairman of the CBC, said it was time someone took the national pulse about the corporation. Further cuts loom, so time is short. A quick, intensive survey in depth is needed. For Watson, the results should be `` . . . reasonably scientific and say definitively to the people of Canada, to our planners and to the government, `Here's what Canadians want.' '' Watson has a fine track record in television, both on air and as a producer. He's articulate, somewhat of a messiah, but neutral enough to see other sides in a controversy. He seems aware, far more than many defenders of the CBC faith, that the hullabaloo in the country against the layoffs and the cuts in local programming is not a perfect register of public feeling on the CBC. Again and again friends of the CBC have been demanding Ottawa do more for the CBC. As example, Daryl Duke, the film-maker, declared (Globe, Feb. 14): ``It's madness to snuff out our guiding light. This is no time to demolish something that can help hold the country together.'' Duke ridiculed the range, quality and honesty of what private networks and stations do, compared with the CBC's production, even in news and public affairs programming. Watson is more careful than Duke, probably because he reads that the public mind is far from so absolute on the CBC's worth and not really contemptuous of private broadcasting. Certainly Watson sees the irony that so much lip-service praise for the CBC by politicians and editorialists is not coupled with a determination the CBC be at the top of the federal government's spending priorities. This is hardly the best of years far the survey which Watson speaks about, or for the coalition's intense lobby. There's the recession, the high deficit, the escalating debt load, the Canada-Quebec crisis and layoffs and cutbacks by employers galore -not least by private broadcasters. Even if better times come rushing back it's hard to foresee a priority by this government, or even the next one, to put the CBC back together as it was. This reading of federal politics is further shaped by my work for 28 years at a private station in Ottawa. Over years of on-air time I've scanned the rating services for viewership, regionally and nationally. In that period there was a great increase in the choices of a set owner who has cable - from four channels to over 30. And a damn-the-cost determination of viewers to have the choices has a corollary: The more the choices, the fewer who view CBC programs. We call it fragmentation. Of the 30-plus channels possible to capital region viewers, four are the CBC's - two in English, two in French. Channel-hopping is prevalent. Simply put, main-line English CBC-TV cannot sustain anything near majority viewing, nor can anyone else. The English private station longest in the field in the capital region has creamed the local CBC station for two decades in terms of viewership of local news, public affairs, children's and entertainment programming. But such dominance is much less than it seems because of the other choices pursued. There's concrete evidence of such choices in public broadcasting but beyond the CBC. Hard money contributions from this region make the nearby Rochester, N.Y. PBS station one of the more affluent in the U.S. And recently TVOntario has been appealing for dollar support and getting it from Ottawa region viewers. Such testimony to viewer loyalties doesn't demean the CBC but, again, it demonstrates the choices, the splits - and why so many people do not see the CBC is quintessential. A point belabored by Duke and other friends of the CBC is how the local operations of the CBC have been the basis of a great talent finding and nurturing process. In the capital region this is a hard argument to swallow because it's clear the private station has sent more talent forth to prominence in world-wide TV than has the CBC outlet. It might ease the task of Watson and the surveyors if they took the capital region as a microcosm of use and appreciation of television in Canada, including the CBC. The present range of choice is high here (and it's obvious that technology is rapidly extending the range across Canada through cable or dish-antennas. Further, the region has a goodly minority of francophones, and being capital-centered there is a high awareness of CBC. Its head office is here; so is the main staple of its newscasts. Finally, there's lots of access here to purchase or rent of videos, the booming competitor to TV programming of almost every sort. In essence Watson needs a clear reading on linked questions. Firstly, why do so comparatively few viewers turn to the programs which the CBC offers? Secondly, despite their viewing preferences, are they as taxpayers ready to demand that the federal government restore and improve the funding levels the CBC has had? The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Sunday, February 17, 1991 ID: 13117565 TAG: 199102170225 EDITION: Final SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle PAGE: C3 COLUMN: In Ottawa SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER THE HOUSE'S HOME AWAY FROM HOME On Parliament Hill something like a substitute House of Commons has been emerging. And despite some opposition mockery it's providing both a running commentary on events and the personality cameos politics needs. Both the media people and the politicians like the hearings of the House committees on external affairs and on national defence. Though the Canadian factor in the Gulf war often seems ancillary, the committees have given us a day to day response hear to what's going on over there. Also, the hearings in a back-to-back sequence reveal the great contrasts in attitude and arguments of the key performers in the respective committees, External Affairs Minister Joe Clark and Defence Minister Bill McKnight. Several times a week since Parliament rose in mid-January, after approving Canada's participation in the Gulf war, the two committees have been meeting in the old railway committee room. The attendance of MPs at the hearings has been good. Of course, the sessions are televised (and replayed) on the parliamentary cable channel and Newsworld often plugs into the proceedings or runs long excerpts. Many MPs who are not members of the committees have been attending. Although they have no vote they can get questions in and make statements. Some opposition MPs of note like Lloyd Axworthy and Svend Robinson are vigorous in scathing criticism and harsh questions during the proceedings; and, outside them, they're dismissive of the hearings. They say honest opinion and truthful information are frustrated by ministerial stonewalling and refusals to allow bureaucratic and military witnesses to be candid. There always is a surfeit of media on the Hill when the House is away. A dozen or so TV crews prowl for some videotaping to enliven the talking-head stuff of reporters, and the environs of the committees are handy for quick commentary from MPs and witnesses just as the taped hearings give newscast producers regular filler. The Tories have been fully using their majority position in the hearings. Having the floor goes by allocated bites of time (10 minutes or five minutes), and the opposition MPs cannot sustain an onslaught or even keep one topic forward through a whole hearing when Tory MPs take their turn. Despite the dangers to the government and the frustrations for the opposition it's clear to me that all the politicians relish this alternative forum. Of course, special committees, even standing committees of Parliament, have often met when the House isn't sitting, and often they've held hearings outside Ottawa. These two committees, linked and designed to vet and comment on the running of the Gulf war, are something new. I sense a relish for the procedures and its opportunities on all sides, and think we may have a precursor of a regular watch-and-ward House committee during future, substantial recesses of the House. Through almost every session of these committees there runs the same cutting edge of criticism and rebuttal we get in the daily House question period. However, the partisan theatre is far more intense in the external affairs committee than in the defence committee. This is because Joe Clark will not back off a whit from criticism, direct or implied. He revels in what he's doing as minister, in showing what he knows. He ``bites'' at almost every provocation. McKnight rarely does. Instead, he's laconic, even curt. Nevertheless he's every bit as confident as Clark. Where Clark scores well and often, McKnight neither scores nor suffers. McKnight represents a conservatively minded confidence that the war is just and the military should be allowed to get on with it. Clark is far more aware of the strong, liberally minded critics of the war in Canada and of the global ramifications ahead. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Friday, February 15, 1991 ID: 13117305 TAG: 199102150211 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER ARE YOU READY FOR MEECH II? Our much scorned prime minister set a loose shape and the likely timing on the constitutional crisis in his Toronto and Quebec City speeches. There's to be a swirl of public argument in many forums until July, then a reading by his government of the substantive wishes of the people expressed in the debate, then a federal program for a renewed Constitution to take to the premiers -and perhaps to the people through referenda. What Mulroney's foreshadowing is a fall spent in something like the familiar first ministers' conferences. Separately, each of Mulroney's speeches is worth reading, and side by side they complement each other. ``Change'' was his buzzword to both audiences but his themes in Quebec were firmer and more blunt. Those who think Mulroney is the prime cause of the current crisis will choke on some florid phrases or such piety over Meech as ``Last June, Canada missed a rendezvous with its destiny.'' Nonetheless, his analysis shelves any hopes they had for an early resignation. It won't come before he has another turn at the table with Robert Bourassa and the other premiers. The best hope before Christmas for Mulroney haters will crystallize or fade in the next four weeks. His harsh lines that Quebec must be fully out or fully in, that Quebecers who think independence will come easily with little hurt are dreaming, may shake out more Tory MPs into the Bloc Quebecois array led by Lucien Bouchard. Is there a chance of such defections? Could Bouchard pick up the dozen or so MPs from Quebec whose votes might turf Mulroney and his government out this spring, say in vote on the budget? It seems a longshot to me: 10-1 or higher. In part, this is because the likely defectors know what a literally dreadful mess a federal election this spring would make. To take this further, discount the bluster you hear from the opposition parties, in particular from the NDP or the Reform Party which seem to have the most going for them. There is little appetite for an election now or soon among MPs of any party. Those many in English Canada who are not Progressive Conservatives but who want to keep Quebec in Canada and are not blinded by hatred of Mulroney cannot quarrel much with what he said this week. Of course, Jean Chretien and Audrey McLaughlin made the stock critique over a lack of detail or substance. Good, they said. At last he's standing firm for Canada. But how's he going to do it? Where's his plan? Substance is missing! Certainly there's truth in this critique but for at least four months it's irrelevant. This is so not just because Mulroney artfully set the Spicer enterprise going with a July deadline or gave a parliamentary committee the long, rather academic task of canvassing means for procedure on the Constitution. No, it's because of a position Mulroney was forced to take after the Meech accord failed. Only Clyde Wells, Frank McKenna, and Manitoba's quartet of Filmon-Carstairs-Doer-Harper expiated more than Chretien and McLaughlin on the fatal flaw of the Meech process. It had not been ``open.'' Mulroney and the original band of premiers worked ``behind closed doors.'' They left the people outside; they struck the ``deal'' in private. This much emphasized exclusion of the people and their wisdom from the Meech process explains why constitutional hearings have been under way again in many of the provinces, and why Mulroney loosed Keith Spicer and his group. In these two speeches Mulroney could not go beyond the readiness of his government for ``major structural changes.'' He had to say he must wait for all the various responses from the people, including what Bourassa's Liberal Party does with its Allaire report, and subsequently, what the Bourassa government and the National Assembly take from the Belanger-Campeau commission's report. Two matters of significance should become clearer by mid-summer. First, whether the recession deepens or lessens. A deepening might have cautionary consequences in Quebec. Second, whether the flood of debate in English Canada will end in some consensus on how far those who negotiate the renewal of the Constitution may go in offering changes which might satisfy Quebec. For this prospect we must reflect on the hangover from the Meech failure. Will the clear majority in English Canada have disappeared that rallied behind Clyde Wells and the now immortal Elijah Harper last June? Few disagree that a referendum on Meech would have rejected the accord last year. Yet the provisions in the accord will seem minor to what Quebec will want in any renewed negotiations If, as seems sensible, one anticipates the gist of what the Spicer and other hearings produce will be very general with lots on the great desire of English Canadians to keep Canada whole and not specific constitutional changes to satisfy Quebec aspirations, then the best likelihood is a Meech II. But it should be far briefer than Meech I. Who can imagine Bourassa, in the name of Quebec, abiding more hours of Clyde Wells and his imperative of a strong, central government? The certainty from Mulroney's stance this week is not that the odds are on Quebec staying; it's that the parting will not be serene. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Wednesday, February 13, 1991 ID: 13117027 TAG: 199102130193 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER THE BOTTOM LINE ON BRIAN'S CANADA What's going on in the mind of Brian Mulroney? His stock is very low. He has 2-2 1/2 years left. Weak as he seems he's what we've got until mid-1993. Many in Quebec plan its exit by then. Thus what Mulroney does with his authority is crucial for us. I take from his speech yesterday in Toronto he's thinking ``big.'' His text ran to 3,000 words. It was not an intellectual tour de force but it was polished, careful - and a bit crafty. It was miles from a Canadian Gettysburg address. It was not a sketch of the rescue ahead. Mulroney tried to show he is a serious, determined governor, ready to lead in mightily changing Canada but keeping it whole. Here's my digest of the text. He stated ``the fundamental issue of all (is) the future of Canada itself.'' And it is an emotional issue because `` . . . a country exists first and foremost in the hearts of its people.'' Next he stressed the economic worth of unity (which he will surely stress more today in Quebec). Uncertainty and division brings economic stagnation. Prosperity becomes harder. He knows that ``the need for change runs deep in every region of the country. (Note the use of ``region,'' not province.) We must change our institutions.'' The PM cited the Spicer citizens' forums and the committee of constitutional wise men he has at work. After he gets the broadest possible ``spectrum of views'' a ``comprehensive proposal for a new and stronger Canada'' will be brought forward. In short, after another four months with everyone sounding off who wishes to, he'll have a plan. But as he waits for us he can outline some basics. For the eggheads he has a few principles or premises; for the pragmatists these are offered as ``bottom lines.'' The key Mulroney premise is: A strong, united Canada, definitely restructured but not dismantled. Mulroney digresses into history at this point - Laurier and all that - to stress that fears of Canada's dissolution are nothing new. Although he doesn't want to dwell on history, especially very recent history, he must emphasize the ``sense of deep rejection felt in Quebec at the failure to ratify the Meech Lake accord'' but he doesn't believe that's enough to make Quebecers give up on Canada. Mulroney's second premise is a response to those who say a federal leader from Quebec is compromised. He insisted the federal government does not just speak for ``English Canada; it speaks for all Canadians, including Quebecers.'' However, the rest of Canada must accept that Quebecers won't ``negotiate on their knees.'' And Quebec must accept that the rest of Canada won't deal ``with a knife at its throat.'' The PM then spent five paragraphs citing our living standards and rich quality of life; then followed three more paragraphs of heart-rousing matter about flags, symbols, bonds, and deeds done together, and of his love and our love for Canada. Oh, what a diminished nation without ``Quebec's vibrancy and uniqueness.'' And he played the Ontario card. A Canada without Quebec would be a Canada even more dominated economically and otherwise by Ontario. Then came the core of the speech: Seven items of ``bottom lines.'' The word ``change'' was much used; ``province'' was not. Nor was there anything on ``first nations.'' 1) Any change must be predicated to a more prosperous Canada. Thus, no transfers of federal jurisdiction to provinces if they wouldn't enhance prosperity. But if they would, fine. 2) Changes that make a more efficient federation and a more competitive nation make sense. We are overgoverned; we have too many internal impediments to trade and commerce. 3) Always change must be guided by fairness, a respect for diversity but also for equality. 4) The process and particulars of change ``must not be tied down by stale dogma or tired ideology . . . Let's ask what's do-able and get it done.'' 5) Keep certain national standards like portable pensions and accessible health care, and understand there must be common cause in a necessarily shared jurisdiction like the environment. 6) In particular, the PM's ready to consider any changes or restructuring which involves more people more closely in decision-making. (Referenda?) 7) There must be no alterations in the ``rights'' of Canadians. One notwithstanding clause in the Charter is ``enough.'' ``My country is Canada. I intend to strengthen it and I intend to keep it,'' said Mulroney. ``Change is possible, change is needed and change is coming.'' He will challenge Quebecers. He disbelieves they want to drop Canadian citizenship and passports and MPs in Ottawa. The last third of the speech was the guff of uplift, closing with, ``A greater dream: a new Canada, emerging from the darkness of doubt and the dismay of lost opportunity; a new Canada, re-confederated, rebuilt and reborn, that will be modern . . . flexible . . . majestic . . . loving.'' That's all there was to the speech. Anything significant? Yes. It presages major proposals in powers and jurisdictions, even in provinces, after a people's spring of breast-beating. The key words were: Change, restructuring, and regions. The main message to English Canada was get ready for big changes. The main message to Quebec is don't jeopardize what's been a good deal. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Monday, February 11, 1991 ID: 13116766 TAG: 199102110183 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER THE ARTFUL DEBT DODGER Let me try to answer queries from two readers. One is from Harvey Self of Toronto who feels I was unclear about the relationship between the federal debt and annual, federal expenditures. It happens to be a topic on which a current paper from the C.D. Howe Institute is vehement. I'll come back to this issue after touching on the second query, this from a Bramalea doctor. He feels my piece on income levels and the charitable contributions of self-employed professionals - doctors in particular - did not take into account the scope and burden of costs in medical practice (receptionist, nurse, etc.). Wasn't it the case that each such doctor must bear all the charges for his or her pension and death benefits? Has he or she any of the fringe benefits provided by an employer through union-contract stipulations? In taxation year 1988 some 36,660 self-employed doctors had a total income of $4,171,727,000. The total net income tax payable by these doctors was $1,169,930,000 (or 28% of total income). Some $827 million went to Ottawa, the rest to provincial governments. The difference between total income and net tax paid was $3,011,897,000. Where did such a sum go, beyond what was disposable income for the doctors? Well, the total deductions for doctors ran to some $624 million; their total tax credits ran to $69 million. The taxation book lists: a) The data for deductions under nine headings, including retirement plan payments, professional dues, carrying charges for loans, mortgages and lines of credit and costs of employees; b) Non-refundable tax credits under 12 headings, from ``basic personal amount'' to ``medical expenses.'' From the items on these lists of deductions and credits it is clear that the expenses of running a doctor's office, including rent, employees' wages and benefits, etc. and the spending by the doctor necessary to provide for his or her retirement benefits are not included in taxable income. None of us who are not doctors should sniff at a profession that seems to be paying back the taxman just over a quarter of its total income, but the profession has been at the top of the occupations list in average net income for years. Now to the debt-expenditure matter. It began to shape in 1987. Finance minister Mike Wilson emphasized that the Mulroney government was no longer spendthrift like the bad, old Trudeau government. It had gotten its program spending down. What was crucifying the government was the rising cost of the interest on the federal debt (which began its zoom under Pierre Trudeau). Let me illustrate what Wilson was (and still is) talking about from data for the fiscal year 1989. In 1989 the federal government had revenues of $109,904 billion; the total of all expenditure was $132,266 billion. So you see the deficit for the year 1989 was $22,362 billion. And, of course, this was added to the debt load. However, of the total expenditures of some $132 billion, $32,885 billion was spent on interest payments for the debt. Therefore, Wilson crowed that on programs the government actually spent almost $10 billion less than it got in revenue. This form of ``margin'' first emerged in fiscal year 1987. By the end of fiscal year 1990 the margin was even better than in 1988, up to $14.5 billion. Nonetheless, in 1990 the federal debt rose another $24 billion. The simple misery is that despite some restraint on program spending which Wilson talks about, the cuts, plus the tax increases imposed, have not come close to overmatching total spending with total revenues. Not until such a stage will there be a surplus, and so a reduction of the debt load, and so of the annual interest charges. Economist Irene Ip, author of the new Howe Institute paper titled Strong Medicine: Budgeting for Recovery, is harsh with the Mulroney government for promoting the distinction between program spending and total revenues. She writes: ``A lamentable development in fiscal policy targeting took place in the 1980s. Program expenditures vs. revenues became the focus of attention, and a decline in the ratio of program spending to GDP and a surplus on the so-called operating budget was considered to be an indication of responsible fiscal policy. ``While the separation of program spending and debt service serves a useful purpose to draw attention to the way the debt burden squeezes the growth of program spending, the path of program spending on its own is irrelevant to fiscal prudence. ``When governments cling to deficit financing as a way of fiscal life, they do in the awareness that they are borrowing from the future for higher spending than voters are willing to pay for in the present, but that sooner or later the debt service will have to factored into budget strategy. `` . . . By setting up program expenditures and operating budgets as targets of prudent fiscal policy, governments perpetuate the myth of the free lunch, and make it harder to tackle a radical reordering of priorities.'' Sure! And nice, straight Mike Wilson is such a perpetuator. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Sunday, February 10, 1991 ID: 13116634 TAG: 199102100239 EDITION: Final SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle PAGE: C3 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER, IN OTTAWA JOE'S THE RIGHT MAN FOR THE JOB You must have noticed. Joe Clark's up again. There hasn't been a putdown piece about him in months, nor about wife Maureen McTeer. Columnists and editorial page writers are noticing his strength as a rare, positive performer in a nondescript ministry with the most unpopular prime minister of modern times. Without seeking for them one hears grudging tributes from partisan foes about Clark as the best of House performers, as ``carrying'' Brian Mulroney. At the current hearings of the committees monitoring the Gulf war Clark handles well such emotionally charged critics as Svend Robinson and Lloyd Axworthy. He's confident about what he knows and aggressive, even muscular, about government plans and participation in almost every aspect of foreign policy. And he's nicely contemptuous of the accusations that the prime minister and he are mere lapdogs of George Bush. Recently a Tory MP who was in the pack which hounded him from the Tory leadership praised Clark's unswerving loyalty to the leader and the party. He conceded to me that both his own and his party's fate would be hopeless without the steadiness of two ministers -Clark and Mike Wilson. Joe Clark has been secretary of state for external affairs for six years and four months - a long run, the longest since Lester Pearson. Of Clark's postwar predecessors, Pearson is still acknowledged as the greatest. Pearson served from 1948 to 1957, and was followed by Sidney Smith, a university administrator. Smith died in office (1959) without making much of a mark. Howard Green, a World War I veteran, and a longtime MP from B.C. followed Smith. He was determined not to be a puppet of the ministry's mandarins. Green's stand against Canada conforming with U.S. wishes on air defence and nuclear warheads helped break up John Diefenbaker's cabinet in 1963 and bring the Grits back to office. Pearson as PM made Paul Martin, a longtime minister, his external affairs secretary. Martin was very busy in the post through the Pearson governments' five years. His manner was august, his rhetoric so graceful he became his own satire. As head of government in 1967 Pierre Trudeau coolly detached from the Pearsonian legacy. He chose the morally righteous Mitchell Sharp as his first minister for foreign affairs, left him at for almost six years, replaced him for two years (1974-76) with Allan MacEachen, then followed with Don Jamieson, a most likable populist with an extraordinary gift of gab. Flora MacDonald was Clark's appointee after Trudeau lost power in 1979. She had the post a mere eight months, just long enough to bridle at the mandarins' determination to handle her. In Trudeau's last mandate the inoffensive Mark MacGuigan was his man at external affairs for two years, then the careful MacEachen came back to the post for the last two (1982-84). When I go through the list several opinions about Clark as minister seize me. Firstly, he's as able as any of his predecessors in terms of the House, even of MacEachen or Martin, both finer rhetoricians than he is. Secondly, in the office itself, I see him as somewhat a blend of Martin and Jamieson: A sustained, purposeful professionalism at diplomacy with a great bent to clarifying and popularizing issues for ordinary people. Especially in the Reagan years the rapport of president and prime minister gave an impression Clark was on the rim of great affairs, a decidedly secondary figure. And this fitted what a lot of people wanted to believe about Mulroney. At last it has become clear that Clark is neither the puppet of his officials nor of the prime minister and his. Clark has always been a hard driver with lots of stamina and an excellent parliamentarian. It's good to see him getting lots of credit. No MP of prominence for so many years has had less. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Friday, February 08, 1991 ID: 13116377 TAG: 199102080222 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER PET'S WORDS HAUNT US STILL Here, for understanding today's Quebec, is an echo from the past of Pierre Trudeau. I came on it in a clippings file. On July 4, 1984 he bade goodbye to his Liberal followers in Quebec, and said: ``No Canada could exist without this province . . . Quebec is strong and can decide who is going to govern and, more importantly, how this country will be governed.'' There are four assertions there. The first is aggravating but may prove true. On the second, yes, Quebec is strong or at least more assured than the rest. But Trudeau's ``who'' or ``how'' of deciding who governs goes when Quebec goes. Perhaps he foresaw English Canada's disruption without Quebec. Will the Brian Mulroney government find an ``emergency grant'' of many millions to salvage jobs and programs being cut by the CBC? The odds against seem very high to me. However, press reports say The 100 Days of Action Coalition is to hone in on Tory MPs and senators; that it represents 27 national groups which together embrace 2 1/2 million members; and that March 27 is ``Decision Day'' - the deadline for Mulroney to come up with more money for the CBC. This enterprise sounds more fearsome and useful than it is. Almost every one of the 27 groups has been publicly attacking Mulroney and crew as incompetent, dishonest, and no longer truly representative of the people. The coalition is literally a who's who of the interest groups that have been belittling the government since free trade became a big issue four years ago. The regional parts of the Tory caucus have recently given Mulroney and Mike Wilson a list of the spending items they advocate axing or reducing in order to get a better grip in the coming budget on the federal deficit-debt burden. My information may be wrong but MPs from Quebec and Ontario tell me the CBC is on their list for more slashes. The CBC itself, notably through its highest profile, the English TV news operations - The National, The Journal and Newsworld - now has the Tories whom I know fuming about its bias toward anything hostile to the U.S. or to Canada's role in the Gulf war. The Idler is a magazine from Toronto with lengthy, serious articles whose outlook ranges from centrist to conservative and whose tone is more skeptical than cynical. The latest issue has an amusing participant's account of the recent shenanigans in the Senate over the GST. The author, Richard Doyle, was editor of the Globe before Mulroney made him a senator in 1985. Even his title satirizes Allan MacEachen's gang: ``Red Chamber Hell . . . Trapped in GST Inferno.'' Doyle closes his account ironically, noting that Royce Frith (MacEachen's second in command) used the last moments of the debate ``to pay a debt.'' ``It was a piece of work unlike anything I have heard in nearly 50 years of newspapering.'' The ``piece of work'' was a listing by Frith of some 10 reporters who covered the long drama ``in a very conscientious way . . . a balanced way.'' Five of the 10 whom Frith complimented work for the CBC and (we imagine to Doyle's chagrin) the list began and ended with Globe reporters: Susan Delacourt and Alan Freeman. Delacourt was recently named winner of the Stanley McDowell award as the Globe's outstanding performer of the year. This honor reminds me how political reporting has been changing over the two decades since the late McDowell worked the Hill. He was almost a crank about being non-partisan in his reports. The Mulroney government will be uncomfortable in dealing with Japan because of an initiative this week by super-lobbyist Cliff Chadderton of the War Amps of Canada, but it brought this on itself when it chose several years ago to give almost $400 million (in individual $21,000 sums) to those of Japanese stock who were removed from the B.C. coast in 1942 under provisions of the War Measures Act. The various veterans' associations of Canada (whose joint council Chadderton chairs) were very much against this generous assay in human rights and multiculturalism. Now the War Amps have put a formal submission to the Commission of Human Rights at Geneva for compensation on behalf of all prisoners of war and civilian internees in Japanese custody during World War II. Of course, there's overwhelming evidence the Japanese treated cruelly its PoWs and most internees. If ever attained, the redress cost to Japan would be several billion. The War Amps submission is complex and involves Allied governments. Its chances for success may be poor but it becomes a reminder and rebuke for the ascendant, prideful Japanese. Would a male dare to write this about Audrey McLaughlin of the NDP: ``Shaking hands with shy farmers, she is elegant in a white wool dress with a fur-tipped belt - an unexpectedly glamorous presence, like a 1940s movie star, an independent woman as played, perhaps, by Barbara Stanwyck or Bette Davis . . . '' That's by Judy Stead, in the NDP's favorite paper, the Toronto Star, which has recently been shifting its traditional bias from Liberal to NDP. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Wednesday, February 06, 1991 ID: 13116071 TAG: 199102060192 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER MORE EVIDENCE QUEBEC'S GOING A reader in Uxbridge, Harry Pope, sent me some words of Charles E. Levesque, a retired commander of the Van Doos (the Royal 22nd Regiment). They were written last summer, just after the Meech Lake accord died. They appeared in La Citadelle, a regular newsletter of ``Association du 22e Inc.,'' which Levesque now edits. Of course, the Van Doos are still active and performed well in the Oka crisis last summer. Here's a translation of a significant sentence by Levesque: ``The situation as it has developed is clear and no longer allows for any equivocation: If they do not wish us in Confederation, let us organize and face the constitutional obligations traced out by our leaders.'' This counsel brought a response from Harry Pope in an article titled Quebec. An English translation of this essay will be in an upcoming issue of Policy Options magazine. Pope is more than a reader of mine or a retired economics professor who wrote (in 1971) The Elephant and the Mouse, subtitled ``A handbook on retaining control of Canada's economy.'' Bear with me and you will see Pope has been an archetypal Canadian, bridging the so-called two founding peoples. I have known Harry Pope for 30 years. He's usually stimulating and always ready to be irreverent. He is as fluent and adroit in both French and English as anyone I've met. Before he hared away from political involvement to gain a PhD and a professorial role he had had an unusual military career. If anyone anywhere is entitled to think himself a Van Doo it's Pope. At 21 he became an infantry platoon leader with the regiment and served in Italy and Holland in 1944-45. He was wounded and taken prisoner; then he escaped and survived 50 days behind enemy lines. On return to his unit he was twice more wounded, mentioned in dispatches several times and promoted to captain. Between the end of the war and 1959 he served in a variety of regimental, training, and staff roles in our army, including periods as adjutant of the Van Doos. Pope did a stint in Korea where he was awarded the Military Cross and promoted to major. On his own time while a soldier he attained bachelor degrees in arts and in science, and took an MA in philosophy from McGill. He wrote much on military affairs and defence policy. His developing views led him to resign the army in 1959 and turn to political work. In particular, he had come to think whatever sense there was in mutual deterrence through nuclear arms was contradicted by the suicidal nature of nuclear war. I got to know Harry Pope because he spent the years between 1959 and 1963 as an executive assistant to CCF and NDP leaders in Ottawa and was active in party affairs in Quebec. Several times he was an electoral candidate. We in the NDP caucus of the day were even more intrigued by Harry's lineage than his military bearing and record. His namesake and one of his great-grandfathers, William Henry Pope, was a Father of Confederation; a grandfather, Sir Joseph Pope, was a longtime secretary and biographer for Sir John A. Macdonald; and his father, Lt.-Gen. Maurice Pope, was most prominent in World War II and after as a staff officer, emissary, and ambassador. To explain Harry's bilingualism and his familiarity with Quebec there were francophone ties through the maternal line. His mother was a Belgian countess, and earlier maternal relatives were of the famous Taschereaus and Heberts. We had to ferret out such antecedents because Harry never paraded them. I set them out here because they suggest Pope would not have reason to want any major change in the present Confederation. Recent events, however, have at last convinced Pope there must be radical changes and explain his encouragement to the view taken by the editor of La Citadelle of let's get on with it; the Van Doos must face reality. As Pope wrote to me, he is contradicting his heritage. Why? ``It is simply that 48 years after an English Canadian in Camp Borden told me to `speak white,' when I was addressing a fellow soldier of Les Voltigeurs de Quebec in French, I have been forced to the conclusion that too many English-speaking Canadians will always act as though the battle of the Plains of Abraham was yesterday and they, individually, took an active part in the defeat of the French . . . ``The Quebecois are not trying to reverse the results of a battle of 230 years ago but they are fed up with the many non-Quebecers who treat them like `the white niggers of America.' And now, at last, the Quebecois know they don't have to take it any more.'' So Pope advised his old comrades of the Van Doos to go for the concept of sovereignty association for Quebec. Get all the powers Quebec needs to ensure that its language and culture flourishes; then negotiate an economic-trade association with a Canada made handier and more effective by the absence of Quebec in its political institutions. Such prescriptions are almost old hat, and certainly fit the cast of aspirations now emergent in Quebec. But the significance of what the Van Doos' colonel said, and Pope's response to it, is not in the content but in who they have been and are. Colloquially, what has been is almost gone. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Monday, February 04, 1991 ID: 13115823 TAG: 199102040232 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER BILL'S DEFEAT SPELLS RELIEF What would the reading be if one could wring out a profile of opinions from the 280-odd MPs over the defeat last Thursday in the Senate of the Mulroney government's abortion bill? My guess would be at least 200 relieved and relaxing politicians, privately happy the issue is off their backs. No, the issue isn't dead but federally it's effectively shelved for years; I would say for this Parliament and the next (if there is such - remember Quebec). Watch for abortion to become more a provincial issue, especially in the West. And remember that the limbo which abortion law has entered flowed from a Supreme Court interpretation of a woman's individual rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Ministers rarely lose bills through parliamentary defeat, and some may wonder if this loss deals a blow to the high ranking Justice Minister Kim Campbell has in the Tory caucus or in the House. She isn't advanced by the loss, but few will blame her or downgrade her for it. No one I've met liked the bill, even to admiring it as a very dodgy compromise. Campbell did take it through the House and it was really Lowell Murray's chore to manage its passage in the Senate. Sol Sanderson has tossed the justices of the higher courts and, after them the politicians, a knotty problem. He's refused to plead either guilty or not guilty to charges regarding misuse of federal funds. This is in the multiple trial of John Munro, former minister of Indian affairs, and a half-dozen former native chiefs, mostly from the West, that got underway last week in Ottawa and may run for almost a year. Sanderson, a Cree, was chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations. While his statement of refusal entered at the court is a long ramble of grievances and historical interpretations, the gist is that Canadian courts have no right to try him, that this is the ``wrong process'' and the right one would be an inquiry conducted into all the allegations by ``our own Indian nations.'' Although my contacts in the native bureaucracies are slight, I do hear of expectations among the natives' bureaucratic elite that George Erasmus will lose his role as national chief of the First Nations at the upcoming convention to Phil Fontaine from the big Fort Alexander band in Manitoba. Fontaine was a master pilot for Manitoba MLA Elijah Harper, of Meech lake fame, and recently his revelations of sexual abuse in his childhood loosed a spate of stories of wrongdoing at church schools for Indians on the Prairies. He's faster off the mark, both in mind and speech, than Erasmus and considerably more adroit in putting forth grievances. Erasmus took over the national leadership in 1985 amidst allegations of executive waste and nepotism surrounding then chief Dave Ahenikew (who is one of those co-accused with Sol Sanderson and John Munro). While there haven't been similar allegations regarding the Erasmus regime the financial reports for the organization are far behind schedule. So Jean Chretien has embraced David Kilgour and made him caucus critic for energy. There were good reasons to argue beforehand that this switch of parties that began when the Tory caucus expelled Kilgour would benefit neither the Grits nor Kilgour. Firstly, MPs who cross the floor of the House have had a high mortality rate (only a few like Bud Olson and Hazen Argue have gone on to ministerial glory). Secondly, although Kilgour is talented, Chretien's not short of good MPs. Thirdly, Liberal candidacies in Alberta haven't been a prize for a long generation and it's hard to see that changing. (Yes, the Tories have slid, but in Alberta it's the Reform Party and the NDP that are coming on. Fourthly, Kilgour's high popularity at home is based so much on his long-played, individual intransigence as a Tory MP and the remarkable attention this has brought him. Fifthly, in my opinion Kilgour seems too conservatively minded for comfort in this Grit caucus. He doesn't match ideologically with the Liberal's western star, Lloyd Axworthy. Kilgour is able, most diligent, and very wide-ranging in his interests. But he's also prickly and most certain of his own righteousness - characteristics which make for a difficult caucus colleague. However, few of his new colleagues will outwork Kilgour. Coincident with Kilgour's advent, Liberals learned that Bob Kaplan, a Toronto MP for 23 years and a minister in Pierre Trudeau's last mandate, would not run again. This is hurtful to the Liberals because Kaplan is an excellent parliamentarian in opposition, arguably as effective as any other ex-minister, including Axworthy. Further, he was fair-minded and constructive within politics without being a patsy. After his decision you have to wonder if two other ministers of the Trudeau period will stay - Herb Gray and Roy Mclaren. Gray, the dean of the House, has been a sturdy workhorse over 29 years on the Hill. Mclaren's much greener but now an odd fit in economic outlook with many in the current caucus. He's like Kaplan in courtesy and for a real sense of responsibility. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Sunday, February 03, 1991 ID: 13115672 TAG: 199102030224 EDITION: Final SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle PAGE: C5 COLUMN: Backgrounder SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER BATTLEFIELD DEJA VU//IN WAR, THE MORE THINGS CHANGE THE MORE THEY STAY THE SAME Once real action is near most soldiers take war very seriously. Their fears, however, lurk largely in their own heads, and often they come out indirectly in chat among crew or platoon comrades. A repetitious topic in our outfit's conversations was of guns, gear and transport, and speculation about that which we would be facing. The analysts of the Gulf war whom we see or read ooze jargon on weaponry, equipment and its use. I can't recall anything like it on radio or in the press of World War II, in particular anything so instant. For example, I saw my first jet plane circling Farnborough in 1943, well over a year before the Germans put their jets into action or the public knew much on this technological leap. Or take ``window'' - silvered strips released in air to screw up radar images. I first knew of window in the fall of '43 by finding feathers of it in Norfolk fields, then learning its purpose from men at nearby bomber bases. In over four years in the army I neither saw a war reporter nor can I recall a single strategist of the media, whereas the Gulf War has dozens. If we'd had more of such assured omniscience we might have got better arms sooner and more understanding back home why Canada had a reinforcement crisis. Nevertheless, I'm struck how the TV bites from the Gulf mimick the newsreel film clips of WW II: Guns firing, planes taking off and landing, trucks in convoys, missiles soaring, tanks rolling, and maps with arrows. Almost all of this was then, and still is, filler. It gave and gives some authenticity of combat for those far away. Such ``photo-ops'' have this credibility: We see the tools of war (though not the killing or wounding). In 1967 I spent a week scanning film shot by cameramen of the German and Russian armies. While they got much closer to the action for longer than Canadian and American counterparts, the bulk of their shooting was also of artillery or mortars firing, tanks moving, etc. I estimated that for each hour of film taken near or at the front maybe 10 seconds would be of genuine action. And this tiny proportion was usually blurred and impersonal. From my first day in 1941 in a regiment I found my mates talking about arms and vehicles. And from day one we seemed to be waiting for, or hearing about, or being issued, new stuff and always we were wondering why our enemies had such fearsome weapons and were so good with them. Our newish regiment was rushed to Vancouver Island after the Pearl Harbor disaster. What were our weapons for warding off the expected Jap attack? The basic issue was the Ross rifle, a weapon introduced and abandoned by the Canadian Army in World War I because too often it jammed or misfired in use. It did have a lovely, long bayonet blade. In addition, on reaching B.C. the regiment was given some Brens, the light machinegun that was a staple for our infantry throughout the war. Our officers were issued .38 pistols (not automatics). Though we were listed as an armored reconnaissance regiment, our mobility on the island rested far more on trucks than on a score of cranky, ``universal'' carriers - small, lightly-armored, open-topped, tracked vehicles. (These too became a staple, and from 1940 to 1945 Ford Canada built some 29,000 of them.) Eventually these vehicles would tow light guns, carry mortars and crews, and be deadly, mobile flame-throwers. We knew them as Bren carriers. Thankfully, the Japanese never came to the Pacific coast and when we entrained for Nova Scotia in mid-1942 we were happy to leave the Ross rifles behind. By May, 1945, and war's end in Germany our regiment was without bayonets. Only a few batmen and cooks had rifles (British Lee-Enfields). Most of us had been issued the notorious Sten gun - light, cheap, short-range, and all too easy to trigger. We distrusted them and preferred the German Mauser sub-machinegun or even the American BAR (automatic rifle) But after some night-time confusion over ``who's who?'' in the Normandy beachhead we were forbidden to use the German machine-pistol or the speedy German light machinegun that made our Brens seem archaic. As the bulk of the Canadian Army crossed Seine River bridges in late August, 1944, on the way to the Channel ports, the provosts confiscated what enemy weapons we had that they could see (plus scores of German vehicles from Mercedes to Volkswagens which we couldn't hide). In the two months of the Normandy bridgehead a lot of our talk, plus much unspoken apprehension was of the awesome .88 gun, an AA weapon that became a multi-purpose terror. The .88 peeled open our out-ranged, under-armored Sherman tanks. Our regiment's main vehicles, the eight-ton Staghound armored car (with 5-man crew) and the Ford Canada Lynx scout-car (2-man crew) were cream puffs for an .88 shell. Even in a comforting slit trench the spiteful, black-red air bursts of an .88 could mangle you. The dread of the .88 became chronic after half a hundred of our Shermans were knocked out on a long, wide slope south of Caen one hot July day. We fumed and asked: When are we to get guns and tanks as good or better than the enemy's? In tanks we never did. But we had so many more tanks and such quantities of excellent artillery and strike aircraft. No sight in the beachhead was more warming than RAF Typhoons peeling down from the sky to rocket .88s (or so we hoped.) Similarly, twice in Normandy we saw a flowing horde of our big bombers carpet-bomb the German lines near Caen (July 18) and then north of Falaise (Aug. 8). The clouds of tumult and smoke were a delight. Who in those targets could fight again? There were hundreds of craters and smashed buildings and bunkers . . . and also dogged German soldiers and those damnable .88s. That rough and ready learning of ground troops' durability even haunts the Gulf war. Bombing and strafing have limitations. Our Staghound was a great machine, built by GM: Twin-motored, self-winching, with a roomy, dependable turret and both power steering and automatic transmission (firsts!). The armor would ward off small calibre fire and even the feared Teller mine would kill only one or two of the crew. If the first armor-piercing shot from a German gun missed a Stag it could fly the scene in a hurry. Staghounds were still in use in the Middle East in the '70s and in Central America in the '80s. The basic weaponry was a turret-mounted .37 mm cannon and Browning machinegun, plus a Browning for the co-driver, plus a smoke-thrower. As the war was closing, some of our Stags were equipped with rocket-trays, others with .75 mm cannon. A few had .50 calibre heavy machineguns (like those used in Flying Fortresses) placed on a turret post for hosing covered ground from a distance. We could throw a lot of metal, quickly, against infantry. In February, 1945, far from the front, our crew used a big Browning to knock down a low-flying V-1 rocket roaring from Holland north of the Rhine to Antwerp. And for comfort, the Stag had lots of stowage for kit, grub, etc. From mid-1943 until the war's end I saw most of a series of intelligence or ``I'' reports that came down to our regimental HQ. Often these had data on on weapons and strengths - especially German ones. Months before we first saw the V-1 on June 13, 1944 we knew about it. Today's cruise missiles are so similar. Winston Churchill spurred the RAF to winkle out V-1 skidways in France (much as RAF Jaguars and Tornados have been prowling for mobile Scud launchers). The V-1 flew at 3,000 feet, 375 miles an hour, with 1,000 lbs of explosive. Fortunately, its range was only 185 miles. The coastal push after our army crossed the Seine in August ended the battering of London by V-1s. Three months later they were launched by the hundreds on Antwerp. On the evening of Sept. 8, 1944, our squadron was parked near the French-Belgian border when we spotted a high, arcing light to the north, heading westerly and out of sight. From the ``I'' reports we knew this was the ominous V-2 rocket (so much like the Scud), aimed for London. As the war closed the following May we found a hangar on an airfield south of Emden stacked with V-2s for which there had been neither fuel nor launchers, a blessing we owed to our air supremacy. In an imaginative way, the war ended twice for us: On the afternoon of May 4, 1945, when command radioed to pull back; and several months later when we had to turn in the Stags and scout cars. Most of us were sad, a few even tearful, at the parting. In substance, the cars and their guns had made what we had been. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Friday, February 01, 1991 ID: 12873700 TAG: 199102010202 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER SHARING THE WEALTH My last column shed light on how the burden of personal income tax is shared by the population of our provinces, as found in Revenue Canada's taxation annual for 1988. Today let's speculate from the same data on: a) the most profitable occupations; b) the bent of those in such occupations to share their wealth with less fortunate citizens. The taxman breaks taxpayers into 32 occupational groups. Some are quite homogeneous - e.g., self-employed doctors and surgeons. Others are less so - e.g., federal government employees. This range makes rigorous analysis difficult but, nevertheless, one can make some intriguing, if invidious, comparisons. Surely everyone knows medical doctors lead the pack of top earners, followed by dentists, lawyers, and accountants. The 10 occupational groups with the highest average taxable incomes are: 1) Self-employed doctors and surgeons - $97,351; 2) Self-employed dentists - $79,496; 3) Self-employed lawyers and notaries - $79,232; 4) Self-employed accountants - $54,948; 5) Real estate agency operators - $45,051; 6) Self-employed engineers and architects - $40,621; 7) Teachers and professors - $36,628; 8) Employees of provincial Crown corporations - $34,106; 9) Employees of federal Crown corporations - $31,499; 10) Wholesale traders - $26,890; Who's at the bottom of the scale? You're right - pensioners ($13,599). Just above them are self-employed entertainers and artists ($15,054), farmers ($17,025) and, somewhat surprisingly, a bevy of various business operators and proprietors. (Please speculate suspiciously on that last phenomenon.) There is a strikingly large spread between the 10 leading occupational groups - from $97,000 to $27,000. In contrast, there's a minimal spread among the remaining 22 groups - a mere $12,000. You are tempted (as I was) to assume that the better-off taxpayers will tend to contribute more to charity more than those in less remunerative work, especially because such donations are tax deductible. In absolute terms this assumption holds. Our doctors contribute to charity the largest amount (on average $2,228) and so do most of the other high earners. The picture changes radically, however, when these donations are related to taxable income. Here the most charitable are wholesale traders (with 5.1% of taxable income going to charity), followed, believe it or not, by farmers (5.0%); investors (4.8 %); and self-employed salesmen (4.6%). The top income earners are far down the list: Doctors (2.3%); lawyers (2.3%); and engineers (2.4%) beaten even by the poorest of the self-employed people, the entertainers and artists (4.6%) and the pensioners (4.0%). Where lurk the dullest charitable instincts? Among public servants! Municipal, provincial, and federal (both civilians and service people). Their contributions to charity gravitate around 1% of their taxable incomes. I looked closer at three groups: Self-employed medical doctors, self-employed lawyers and notaries and farmers. Did you know that in 1988 there were 36,530 doctors dispensing services to Canadians (with the help of public health insurance)? Statistically speaking, doctors offer the best care to people of Nova Scotia (one doctor per 611 people), Quebec (619), Ontario (636) and B.C. (644). Alberta (1,588) and Newfoundland (1,053) have the highest doctor/population ratio. The highest average taxable income of doctors is found in Ontario ($114,858). It's so high that all the other provinces but Nova Scotia show an average income below the national norm ($97,351). Quebec doctors' earnings are the lowest ($79,230). When it comes to charity (as measured by donations as proportion of taxable income) the most generous doctors are in Manitoba, followed by Ontario and Saskatchewan. The least charitable doctors are in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Quebec. Some 22,500 lawyers and notaries served us in 1988. Their average taxable income was $79,232 but where they work has great significance. Their first choice should be Ontario ($97,999) and Alberta ($84,435); the worst choices Saskatchewan ($58,490) and Manitoba (59,517). The most charitable lawyers seem to be in P.E.I. where 3.7% of taxable incomes go to charity and Manitoba with 3.0%. The scrooges among lawyers are in Newfoundland and New Brunswick (each with 1.3%). In 1988 we had 259,530 farmers (who declared that their main income came from farming). Their average taxable income was very low - $17,025. Provincial variation was small, the highest average being in Nova Scotia ($19,230), the lowest in Newfoundland ($12,271). The prairie farmers, contrary to my expectation, showed lower average incomes than farmers in Ontario. As noted above, the farmers are among our most charitable people. The most generous are those in B.C., with an astonishing 8.0 % of taxable income declared as donations. The most tight-fisted farmers are in Quebec (1.8%). Warning! The validity of all these comparisons depends on one heroic assumption: Namely that our tax system is equally fair to all taxpayers and that all of them are equally honest (or dishonest) when it comes to completing their tax returns. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Wednesday, January 30, 1991 ID: 12873445 TAG: 199101300204 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER DOES QUEBEC PAY ITS WAY? A dense but fascinating product from our bureaucratic factories is the taxation annual. In its formidable tables is the tale of what the tax collector takes from us. Some 350 pages packed with numbers summarized the taxation returns of individual Canadians for the year 1988. Do you feel that you contribute too much to the common weal through the tax system? Is your province's share of the federal tax burden excessive? How does your community rank in terms of income? What are the most profitable occupations? What kind of people contribute to charity and how much? You may find real answers to all but the first of these questions by working through the tables. If you become confused or doubting, phone the tax department. Ask for explanations. They're free. To show what you could look for I offer some of my sampling from the annual for 1988. In 1988 17.6 million Canadians filed personal tax returns. Their total income seems astronomical - $393 billion! Out of this the federal taxman took out $48 billion, or 12%. This take represented 65% of all federal tax revenues. In contrast, corporations paid a mere 17%. Is such a distribution fair? Many, New Democrats in particular, think it is most unfair. You will find that provincial taxmen, in concert with the feds took us for almost $20 billion. This doesn't include Quebec because its government collects its own personal income taxes. Is this distribution of income tax powers between the two orders of government fair or adequate? This rather innocent question swings one into the dark realm of constitutional reform. More than one fourth (26.9%) of all Canadians who filed their personal income tax forms paid no federal taxes whatsoever -a proof we have a ``progressive'' tax system (although to many, not progressive enough). The total non-taxable income of these citizens in the bottom levels of the income scale was more than $20 billion. One question bubbling in our constitutional debate is: Does Quebec pays its own way in our federal state? Try to find the answer in the following table. Make sure you note what each column means. The table gives the data by province for: 1) The average federal tax paid; 2) The percentage each province contributes to federal personal income tax revenue; 3) The provincial share of total personal taxable income; 4) The percentage in Canada of each province's population. Province Ave. % of Prov. Pop'n tax paid tax rev. share share (indiv.) (each total of prov.) income prov. $ % % % Nfld. 1,580 1.2 1.4 2.2 P.E.I. 1,697 0.3 0.4 0.5 Nova Scotia 2,120 2.5 2.8 3.5 New Brunswick 1,868 1.8 2.1 2.8 Quebec 2,272 21.1 22.9 25.8 Ontario 3,323 45.7 42.4 36.0 Manitoba 1,981 3.1 3.6 4.2 Sask. 2,027 2.6 3.1 4.0 Alberta 2,877 9.3 9.2 9.3 B.C. 2,789 11.7 11.7 11.4 N.W.T. 3,766 0.2 0.2 0.1 Yukon 2,787 0.1 0.1 0.2 Canada 2,732 99.8 *100.1 100.0 *Does not add to 100 because of rounding. It is obvious that in terms of personal income tax Quebec put less into the federal treasury than its population size would indicate. But Quebec had company! The people of the Atlantic provinces, of Manitoba and Saskatchewan also contributed less. Their shortfall was made up mainly by Ontario, marginally by British Columbia. Alberta was in a neat equilibrium. If income rather than population size is taken into consideration, the picture remained the same, although the inequities tended to be less severe. Did you think the province with the highest average tax payable (and thus with highest average income) has the opulent communities?. Not quite. Here are the top 10 communities arranged by average income: Westmount, Que. $58,273 Mount Royal, Que. $47,508 West Vancouver, B.C. $42,192 King, Ont. $41,022 Outremont, Que. $37,295 Oakville, Ont. $35,558 Markham, Ont. $35,375 Sillery, Que. $34,081 Richmond Hill, Ont. $33,454 Caledon, Ont. $33,197 Four of the 10 rich communities are in Quebec, and suggest both the contrast between rural want and urban wealth there, plus a lingering anglo advantage in Montreal. What about Ottawa? Average income: $27,251. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Monday, January 28, 1991 ID: 12873216 TAG: 199101280238 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER NO POETRY IN MOTIONS Several times in a House of Commons week, 100 pages of the House ``notice and order publications'' list items in a procedure which rarely gets noticed - private members' motions. Most such motions begin with this preface: ``That in the opinion of this House, the government should consider . . . '' To explain this further let's take motion No. 687, by Jim Karpoff of the NDP, which went on to ask the government ``to consider paying Family Allowance to all women in Canada who are entering their fourth month of pregnancy.'' Even though 70 or so of the 285 MPs haved filed some 700 of these motions over a session now stretched through two years and 277 sitting days, less than 20 have been debated in the House. Media attention to most of the motions has been absent or scanty. So the obvious query is why a quarter of all MPs bother to put such motions forward. Later, you will get a better sense of why MPs do it when you read some of their motions. Almost 90% of the current ones were filed by New Democrats and Liberals. The New Democrats had well over half of the first 400 but the Grits have been catching up. Few MPs from Quebec use the procedure. Almost 60% of the motions are multiple presentations, i.e., they are filed in clusters by one MP. (As an example, Motions 55 to 69 were entered by John Rodrigues, NDP, on April 3, 1989.) It's far from a rule of thumb, but a sizable minority of those MPs with motions are familiar busybodies (Svend Robinson, Bill Blaikie, Charles Caccia, Warren Allmand and Audrey McLaughlin). Old hands on the Hill focus mostly on the big players and they would shrug away such motions as nits' work, ascribing motives like the following to their use by some MPs: 1. To try for some personal ink in the press or a brief bite on TV; 2. To ensure one's name has entries in the printed index of Hansard, and so evidence on paper of having been alive and well in Ottawa; 3. To cater to a constituent or some riding association with a grievance or a scheme by getting evidence in print that the representation has gone forward to the government; 4. To signal one's interest in, and claim upon, a topic (say, like the CBC, or feminism, or capital punishment or abortion) to other MPs and their researchers and, in particular, to one's own caucus mates. 5. To register publicly for one's caucus that it and the party have deep concerns over a particular issue or problem; 6. To ensure the caucus has readily applicable motions to hand which can be offered as a sky-hook for a debate when developments beyond the Hill make the subject matter topical and usable as a basis for a House debate and acceptable by the other caucuses. It is not easy and largely bootless to be critical of a practice that wins little attention and minority participation. Taken as the current catalogue of the thoughts and purposes of enterprising MPs, the motions are disappointing. Few seem fresh or stimulating. So many are banal and/or self-serving. Even worse, considering our deficit-ridden budgets and the debt-bowed nation, far too nany of the motions are really frivolous in asking the government to spend even more money or give tax concessions to specific groups. Here are some motions to illustrate the process and my criticism. The first one is given in full, the rest are motions compressed to their gist by clerks of the House. First, an example of banal pie-in-the-sky. Motion 615 (McLaughlin, NDP) says: ``The government should take measures looking to the setting up of a co-operative commonwealth in which all natural resources and the socially necessary machinery of production will be used in the interests of the people and not for the benefit of the few.'' next, an example of ethnicking. Motion 670 (Milliken, Lib., Kingston) says: ``Redress for repressive measures against Ukrainian Canadians between 1919 and 1920.'' Another example of ethnicking. Motion 591 (Flis, Lib., Parkdale-High Park): ``Soviet redress to Canadians for losses during World War II.'' More ethnicking. Motion 599 (Robinson, NDP Burnaby-Kingsway). ``Apology to Italian-Canadians classifed as `enemy aliens' during World War II.'' Even more ethnicking. Motion 605 (Pagtakhan, Lib. Winnipeg North): ``Permission for Sikh RCMP officers to wear turbans.'' Feminism. Motion 620 (Catterall, Lib. Ottawa West) ``Tax credit for those who stay at home to raise children.'' Succoring the downtrodden. Motion 640 (Allmand, Lib. NDP): ``Funds for long-term, job creation projects.'' More succoring. Motion 647 (Gagliano, Lib., Saint Leonard): ``Increase regional development funds and design programs to fit regional needs.'' Loving natives. Motion 679 (Nault, Lib., Kenora-Rainy River): ``Improvement of aboriginal health programs in native communities.'' Let me end these examples with two small proofs that Tory MPs are around and that one of them is really conservative. Motion 683 (Wilbee, PC, Delta): ``Constitutional amendment seeking the abolition of the Senate.'' Motion 684 (Fee, PC, Red Deer): ``Reduce federal spending until budget balanced.'' The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Sunday, January 27, 1991 ID: 12873074 TAG: 199101270249 EDITION: Final SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle PAGE: C3 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER, IN OTTAWA FRYE WAS RIGHT ABOUT QUEBEC ``Arcane'' means understood only by a few. It was an adjective often applied to the late Northrop Frye, in large part because his literary criticism is complex and sustained by an erudition that daunts those who turn to it because of his global reputation. Nevertheless, Frye was not an ``ivory tower'' academic. In speeches, essays, and interviews he commented on everything from rock to sport to ecology to politics. And I feel he was bang on about Quebec. When we could, some of us pressed him to write for a wider readership, to take a larger role as a counsellor to his country. He recoiled from the required wrappings for such eminence, but he had a keen citizenship and was an archetypal Canadian, usually fretting over Canada. Frye wrote several times about the ``state of more or less amiable apartheid'' between the two language communities in the two towns where he grew up, Moncton, N.B., and Sherbrooke, Que. This paragraph from an interview portrays his roots and also reminds us of the familiar Canadian slogan, ``unity in diversity.'' ``As a student going to Toronto, I would take the train to Montreal, sitting up overnight in the coach, and looking forward to the moment in the early morning when the train came into Levis, on the south side of the St. Lawrence, and the great fortress of Quebec loomed out of the bleak dawn mists. I knew that much of the panorama was created by a modern railway hotel, but distance and fog lent enchantment even to that. Here was one of the emotional centres of my own country and my own people, yet a people with whom I found it difficult to identify, what was different being not so much language as cultural memory. But the effort of making the identification was crucial: It helped me to see that a sense of unity is the opposite of a sense of uniformity.'' There, and in the following remarks, Frye gets at our core issue - Canada-Quebec. ``The fundamental question in English Canada is not `Who am I?' but `Where is here?' - of coming imaginatively in contact with the country. As a culture matures, it also becomes more decentralized and regionalized . . . More and more parts of the country come to life culturally and it's that realization of environment which is the real identity problem.'' Long ago `` . . . Canadian identity got a bit vague and abstract, because they were really talking about the individual somewhere in the world, or somewhere within a huge, sprawling, thinly settled country. Now the question is the diversity of the regions in the country and ways of confining that diversity to the cultural where it belongs and not to the political or economic where it's an anachronism.'' Frye would note the obvious: Regional cultural diversity has been sharpening across Canada. ``With it - and not just from Quebec - demands arise for decentralization, usually confusing the cultural with the political, particularly in Quebec.'' Frye acknowledged it was bootless to protest but it really was intellectual nonsense for the separatists in Quebec to yoke the cultural to political and economic developments. Frye never discounted the chance Canada could ``come apart at the seams.'' By 1977 he thought Quebec's separation was inevitable, and that Canada ``should let Quebec go.'' Although the separatists' vision and arguments were ``perverse'' and ``out of touch with reality . . . they can't be argued away. They don't rest on argument; they're not rational. Separation won't go away, and it has to be proved unworkable in practice before we get rid of it.'' And after Quebec left Canada it would eventually return. Frye believed it would have to, and that ``it will have to be to a restructured Canadian federation.'' The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Friday, January 25, 1991 ID: 12872827 TAG: 199101250227 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER A FRYDOLATOR REMEMBERS In a lifetime one is lucky to encounter genius . . . and to know it. My luck came out of the figurative blue at my first ever college class. It was April, 1946. The basement room at the University of Toronto was bare, the 30-odd students in it were all veterans, most still in uniform, and strangers to each other. And so we didn't know the wispy, whitish waif, enveloped in black gown, who sidled in, went to the blackboard, turned, paused, and then said in an august, closely modulated voice: ``My name is Frye; the topic is modern drama.'' And away he went, talking of George Bernard Shaw and of feminism, fascism and socialism, largely with references to Man and Superman and Major Barbara. As the bell closed those first 50 minutes of university I was more excited by the talk of this droll, witty chap than by any happening in a just-ended stretch of warfare. If this was university, I wanted it. In the next three years persistence and some good luck gave me attendance in five courses by Northrop Frye and some personal exchanges with him as editorial adviser for an undergraduate magazine I edited. Forty years later, still a Frydolator, I could be maudlin about Frye's genius and his worth as a teacher, but I'm checked by recalling his modesty. One insight he gave to us was that a teacher must not get in between the student and the novel or poem or essay. The work of the writer or artist was the key for the reader, not any critique of the work or its creator by the teacher. (In later years this Frye attitude led some professorial critics to argue he ducked away from ``evaluation.'') Once Frye was talking about Matthew Arnold's Culture and Anarchy, and a student interjected, almost in horror: ``Sir, you really don't believe that, do you?'' Oh, Frye was forceful. He had been setting before us Arnold's ideas as found in the book, not his own interpretation of them. Another time, a righteous student said that after reading a biography of Milton he now recoiled from Paradise Lost because he couldn't forget its author's cruelty to his daughters. Wow! This drew out a wonderful romp on one imperative in studying a piece of literature. Don't come to it with writer's character and habits, alleged or guessed, in your mind. Read the text. React to it. This side-sashay of Frye's led into a canvass of ``genius'' and the plain observation that I still apply in the federal, political milieu. ``Genius,'' Frye said, ``is highly differentiated.'' He worked through references to the art or beauty or skill manifest in the work of notables we had to have heard about. People like Joe Louis, then the heavyweight boxing champ; ``our own'' Barbara Ann Scott, queen of world figure skating; Mackenzie King, then closing the longest of all runs as prime minister; Duke Ellington of blues and jazz renown; the missionary doctor, Albert Schweizer, and Bertrand Russell, the most ``pop'' (and scandalizing) philosopher of the day. What Louis did in the ring, Scott on the rink, King in his government, or Russell in his reasoning, was what one should appraise and judge, not personal habits or relations such as parenthood or love liaisons. In recent years a number of Frye' academic critics have gone after him for his refusal of ``evaluation.'' What I've just covered relates to this alleged flaw - the downplaying of any great relevance to his works of the private life or psyche of the writer. That ``genius is differentiated'' is easier to take than another Frye aphorism which I count as near indispensable in living with the failures and frustrations of life, in particular those of organized or group associations. Simply, it is that human nature does not improve; indeed, it is not improvable. This whooshes away the idea of human perfectability. In short, there is nothing intrinsically better in you or me or my child or yours than those who lived in Shakespeare's England or Christ's Jerusalem. Such a view of our nature fits with the Christian idea of man as good and evil, but it plays havoc with any Darwinian application in mankind's affairs or to accepting the image fostered so much by technological advance and improved athletic performances that the world is progressing ``out of the Dark Ages'' or ``forward to the 21st century'' as the phrases go. Frye gave us a realistic basis, not a dour one, on which to put a vision of what we might be as a community and as communities, consorting with others. This chore of vision-making is essentially the role of the creative writer or artist. And the good citizen studies the vision. If or when he or she grasps it, then is the time for taking it up, for pursuing it. What strikes me most in 40 years of reading Frye is not his erudition, though its range and his memory are scary for one like me who plugs along. No, it's the wisdom I find in each lecture or book or article of his. Those of us who knew him somewhat believe he thought himself simply as a teacher. The canon of his teaching is largely in print, and this takes some edge off the sense of great loss, of departed genius. (Sunday: Frye on Quebec and Canada) The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Wednesday, January 23, 1991 ID: 12872550 TAG: 199101230215 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER BLOOD, SWEAT AND DEADLINES Just six days into the Gulf War and another war is taking shape - between the military-political apparatus and those who find, relay, and present the news. You can even see it in the edginess of the televised briefings in Ottawa so far from the fronts and our tiny force. Such tension arose in most recent wars but not so quickly. Communication is so fast and the media more immense and competitive for ratings and circulation. Of course, a demand force-fed by competition is a lousy justification for insisting on more access, data and pictures. It isn't noble enough, so the demand is for the right to know the truth of battle in the name of the people. The media creed is: The people have the right to know. The politicians feel the righteousness of this and those in opposition link with reporters, producers, and analysts in demanding more information and doubting that given. For television the material need is insatiable. The high-cost competitors are many. Mutual monitoring makes copying instantaneous and exasperates frustration about circumscribed access and range for reporters. Vietnam has had its influences, so has the battle for the Falklands; the first as horror story of a media out of hand, the second as a model, newswise, of well-managed reportage. This time the terrain is vaster and more barren than Vietnam and the ``politics'' far more complex. Civilians for ``color'' are fewer and less accessible than in Vietnam plus a much improved satellite technology which has speeded reports and reaction to them. Further, Hanoi's exploitation of the media practices of the West was primitive for a long time compared to Baghdad's craft and technical expertise. Even though the White House and Pentagon may seem readier and more candid this time on access and range for reportage, the grist of the stuff available is already worn. So many shots of planes taxiing, of rockets rising, of tanks squatting; the talking heads at briefing theatres; and the disembodied voices from far places on a map graphic. And so the questions: What's the body count; how long before the real war? The electricity has been slipping away from its apogee in the first, dazzling images of the Iraqi capital under night attack. And now each of us as viewer contrasts this flashing scene with one of its literally awful consequences. Think about your reaction to your third or fourth witness to the fliers taken prisoner - the grim, unglamorous faces of war which made phrases like ``surgical accuracy'' and ``80% success'' obscene. The war opened Wednesday night and every weekend paper had analyses of the coverage by the networks. I noted many references to ``the first casualty'' - i.e., to the pith in what a U.S. senator, Hiram Johnson said in 1917. ``The first casualty when war comes is truth.'' And so, not least because the media competition is fierce and the content so common so quickly, the media-military war is shaping in demanding, doubting righteousness. And it's my reading that the military leadership, especially of the U.S., is determined to manage any news aspect of the war and more and more the media is dissenting. Reporters are no longer patriots. If it was the writ in wars past it runs no more. My awareness of the tussle which works up between those who would report and those who run wars came in the early '30s, reading bestsellers of the '20s by Sir Philip Gibbs, a British war correspondent. The most influential of his books was Now It Can Be Told and the stories which never got to the people about the stalled battles, stupid generalship and dreadful casualties of World War I. Either the truth was censored or never made intelligible in dispatches by the armies or in frankness from the politicians. A hero of mine in journalism was the late Greg Clark, humorist and story-teller, and a soldier in the trenches of the Great War and a correspondent in World War II. Just weeks before Greg died, I lent him a book. Anyone who wants a handle on the factors and values in the confrontation opening now between the media and those running the UN coalition in the Gulf should read The First Casualty by Phillip Knightley, then of the London Times. This 1975 publication's sub-title is: ``The war correspondent as hero, propagandist, and myth maker, from the Crimea to Vietnam.'' One ``hero'' in it is Peter Arnett, a New Zealander, still hanging on in Iraq for CNN. The last chat I had with Greg was about the book. He asked me to tell Charles Lynch, a press gallery colleague and a World War II correspondent, ``I never thought he had it in him.'' His teasing arose from a statement by Lynch in The First Casualty. The remarks don't seem profound or exceptional now but few Canadians had said anything like it. The gist in it is one factor, especially for Americans, in the arguments arising about Gulf War coverage. Lynch said about World War II: ``It's humiliating to look back at what we wrote during the war. It was crap . . . We were a propaganda arm of our governments . . . We were cheerleaders. I suppose there wasn't an alternative at the time. It was total war. But for God's sakes, let's not glorify our role. It wasn't good journalism. It wasn't journalism at all.'' The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Monday, January 21, 1991 ID: 12872325 TAG: 199101210216 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER WHAT IS SHEILA TRYING TO SAY? Both Tory and Liberal MPs have told me they await the day when Brian Mulroney explodes in the House over the mute miming of Sheila Copps when the prime minister is speaking or has just spoken. What is it she would seem to be saying if she gave sound to the grimace of her lips? The MPs say that it is ``liar, liar, liar.'' And she's been at this gambit for a long, long time and Mulroney, despite often taking notice of Copps, has never chosen to read her lips. At least a dozen times the House of Commons was very raucous in its four days of sitting last week. The high point in angry uproar came when John Nunziata (Lib. York West) cast doubt on the fairness and judgment of Madame Champagne, the Deputy Speaker, after she cut him short on a question of privilege over Joe Clark's behavior. The external affairs minister had given curt shrift to a question about the situation in the Baltics from Alex Kindy, one of two Alberta MPs tossed from the Tory caucus last year. Andree Champagne is not contentious by nature and usually she's a careful and inoffensive alternative to Speaker Fraser when he's away. In contrast, Nunziata, at least in verbal violence, ranks with Svend Robinson as the most aggressive MP in the House and, unlike Robinson, he is almost unable to say anything without nastiness or mockery. Why would Nunziata come to the defence of the far from well-beloved Kindy? Clark is the best among the Tories at dusting off critical questioners and he was in good form last week, notably in slicing up Svend Robinson and John Brewin of the NDP. It had not been a good week for the Liberals, closing with their awkward retreat from neutrality on Friday after the Iraqi missile attack on Israel recalled them to their party's traditions. Nunziata was looking for any chance to crack back at the seeming winners of the week, and he thought Clark's rude brevity was such an opening. Unfortunately he took too long to make his point. He has neither deftness nor any sense of how to shape sarcasm. After the deputy speaker stopped him, then refused to recognize him he kept roaring. A tribute to his standing came when none of his colleagues rose in his defence. Two articles I read last week struck me as exceptionally good, the first a book review wrap-up of the year by historian Michael Bliss in the latest Globe's Report on Business magazine, the other a long profile on Premier Clyde Wells in the latest Saturday Night. Bliss explains that despite its many virtues he must discount the best-selling Trudeau and his Times (by Stephen Clarkson and Christian McCall). He wrote what I had thought about the book but couldn't crystallize. Bliss also examined a graceful book and praised it, but he concluded (as I had) that Ron Graham had one basic assumption in God's Dominion which was all wrong - that Canadians are giving more attention to spiritual issues. Bliss's opinion fits with mine in judging ``what is probably the year's best Canadian political book,'' Andrew Cohen's A Deal Undone; The Making and Breaking of the Meech Lake Accord. He found Cohen's book ``an excellent but nausea-inducing memorial to Meech.'' His nausea came because of his dislike for the accord and Mulroney's handling of it. I felt the accord a necessary compromise, and my nausea came far more from the part played by Clyde Wells than by Mulroney. Gwyn has always been good on Newfoundland affairs (see his fine biography of Joey). Now he's taken time from covering Europe for his paper to bring us close to the career, personality, and character of Wells. He's set Wells in the context of family, Smallwood, Trudeau, Crosbie, and the constitutional issue. One sees better why and how Wells so quickly became a national hero. I needed this crackling summation of Wells, partly because my reaction to his persona and arguments have been so negative that I have hardly written about him. Even more, however, a recurring message has been reaching me by letter and phone call. What a host admires Wells! Again and again I'm besought to advocate Wells as the next prime minister. All the other headliners among current politicians are dishonest or spineless or fuzzy. Gwyn makes this adulation of Wells understandable. I cherish lines like these. ``Wells is the 1950s preserved in aspic. He's preternaturally innocent . . . He performed like the Canadian equivalent - as close to it as we're every going to get within the sedate compass of our public life - of a Soviet dissident. We used to regard them all as fearless fighters for human rights, only to discover, once they were in the West, that many were obdurate, messianic in pursuit of their truth.'' Gwyn's acute in noting that ``the new tide is the politics of conviction, not ideological in the manner of Margaret Thatcher but personal.'' Gwyn closes: ``Clyde Kirby Wells now begins each day with a half-hour French lesson. Whether or not, at some other time, on some other issue, he and the people will again be as one is another question for history.'' The last prospect dismays me but a lot of my readers look beyond Mulroney to Wells as the coming savior. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Sunday, January 20, 1991 ID: 12872154 TAG: 199101200207 EDITION: Final SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle PAGE: C3 COLUMN: In Ottawa SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER TURNER'S PERFORMANCE ONE TO REMEMBER In politics and its coverage you savor drama when it occurs. It comes rarely. And so a show which took some 25 minutes of House of Commons time last Wednesday afternoon will be replayed again and again by politicians and their staffs. The House had voted down an NDP motion, then a Liberal motion, each of which took issue with the government's motion that ``the House reaffirms its support of the United Nations in ending the aggression of Iraq against Kuwait.'' Suddenly John Turner, now largely back on Bay Street, parted the yellow curtains, strode to his little-used, front row place and began to speak to the Gulf crisis. The usual post-vote hubbub may explain why no MP rose to quarrel with the Deputy Speaker for letting Turner roll. House managers for the Tories deny they knew he was coming up. Certainly he was not on the Grit whip's list of speakers. Whatever the arrangements, the advantage to Turner was the mob of 250 MPs in or around the chamber. What a big, suddenly attentive audience! Turner's clear, succinct support for the UN forces in the Gulf affair was surprising, given it was not the party line. He had not taken part in the two votes just taken, either to defeat the NDP move or to back the Liberal move. His leader, Jean Chretien, sat stiffly through the speech, unmoving, face dour. After his 11-minute speech Turner got handshakes from Brian Mulroney and other Tories but the TV cameras ignored such byplay to focus on Marcel Prud'homme, the dean of all backbenchers, and the first of three Grits who sought to shake the cameo perfection of Turner's remarks. Prud'Homme is genteel and flowery, and he rose to aver that while his love and respect for Turner would never die, he disagreed with him. Then Jim Peterson, best known as the brother of David Peterson, rose to ask if Turner didn't see the cogency in Liberal arguments that important articles of the UN had been ignored. Turner said ``no.'' Then John Nunziata, an original Rat-Packer, rose and was . . . well . . . nasty. He wondered where Turner stood on party loyalty, something he used to insist on. Why had Turner missed caucus over the past six months if he had such strong views? The chair wouldn't let Turner respond, and Bill McKnight took the floor and this pocket drama was over . . . and its replays began. In brevity and force, Turner's speech was a model. His argument pivoted from two questions: 1) ``What alternative is left if sanctions, diplomatic moves and threats fail before the intransigence of Saddam Hussein?'' 2) ``As a nation we have always defended the principle of the sovereignty of our country. We have been and still are among the highly respected members of the UN, so how could we choose to ignore our commitments in this instance?'' He continued: ``We can remain an integral part of the most determined demonstration of collective political will ever marshalled by the UN to stand up against aggression. In my view it is a choice which all our history and the long tradition of Canada's support for the UN oblige us to make today.'' Turner dealt with the charges this war was really over oil supply and canvassed the theme that we're ignoring the lessons from Vietnam. ``No,'' Turner said, ``This is not an American adventure. It is a UN action in collective security . . . '' For Turner, ``peacemaking'' as Canada's role begins with a readiness to defend others' freedom. This was his clincher: ``The whole history and tradition and commitment of the party to which I have belonged for 35 years has been in support of the UN.'' That's why he had to break a silence he'd maintained since last June. In honed argument and oratorical prowess John Turner made the biggest contribution to the very grim advent to the House of his successor. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Friday, January 18, 1991 ID: 12871925 TAG: 199101180223 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER IN 1939, IT WAS EVERYBODY'S WAR Several hundred million of us followed the allied air strikes on Iraq from TV's first word that it was war to the midnight euphoria on the networks about successes. Now that is a banal observation. I use it to underline the vast contrast with what used to be as wars began. The instancy and ease of mass telecommunications has changed so much. Firstly, let me say why the euphoria over the air strikes took me back to some grim memories of air power in 1944. Through chance I was witness from nearby to three of the greatest air attacks of all time. First, 8,000 tons of allied bombs on the rim of Caen; second, almost as much tonnage on the German front north of Falaise a few weeks later; and third, the mighty airborne assault at Arnhem a few months later. Each time we witnesses were dwarfed and overwhelmed by the roar and the spectacle. Each time we told ourselves: This does it! Now we'd romp. Victory was at hand. And, unbelievably, each time as the smoke and dust cleared, the German soldiers clobbered us. Air power is exhilarating . . . but let's be cautious. I readily recall where I was in 1939 when Britain declared war on Germany. Even though I was far north of ``the tracks'' in the Northern Ontario bush each night, I followed the lead up to the war by means of radio. Just as today, the outbreak in 1939 came after many weeks of fears and some hopes for diplomacy. If we seem peripheral now, governmentally speaking, then we were almost out of sight. The Mackenzie King government was far less involved than Brian Mulroney's, and it was not given to daily commentary on the world situation. After Neville Chamberlain for Britain sent the balloon up, King and our Parliament were another week joining in. There was almost no dissent against going to war in English Canada, as I remember, nor could anybody conceive there could be. While radio reports (short-wave in particular) were then far briefer and far less diverse in outlook or places of origin than TV offers us now, they drew large evening audiences. Radio had not yet taken up the ``you are there'' sounds of war or interviewing chit-chat which became its news and public affairs features by D-Day in 1944. We had almost no ``experts'' at hand of our own on the air, and very few foreign ones reached us. Most signals Canadians got in 1939 were American, just as most of what we saw and heard Wednesday was through American networks. In a slight way, 1939's parallel to Wednesday's air strikes was the German armor's Blitzkrieg cruise through Poland. It was a 10-day wonder, its quickness shocking us then much as most of us were bowled over by the reports from the raids on Wednesday. We did find out Hitler was no bluff and we began to see dimensions of both mobile, land warfare and aerial assaults that had been missing through most of World War I. There was far more reticence in Ottawa then, and London was the locale from which most of our radio and print reports about the war came. Hitler's bellicosity was not played up much in Canada. Oh, most of us knew something ominous and dangerous was unfolding but the pall of the Great Depression had not lifted fully. Certainly, there was nothing abroad in Canada in August-September, 1939 even remotely like the antagonism to participating in war that which has been expressed recently by so many Canadians. And there was a fair amount of bumptious, patriot talk, mostly with a British stress. The lone peacenik of the House of Commons in 1939 was the late J.S. Woodsworth of CCF immortality. He was not given great news play. In short, he wasn't taken seriously. His few caucus mates chose to support Mackenzie King in putting Canada at war with Germany. Woodsworth had spoken before the war to our high school assembly. We were spellbound by this humane idealist. That's why I remember hoping he would not be treated cruelly as an MP even though I felt Hitler had to be stopped, that this was a necessary war, even a ``good'' war. Of course, at the beginning we had little conception that it would be so long and so terribly destructive. We had a cribbed, international outlook, usually expressed as adoration for the Commonwealth and Empire. In an ironic way, Woodsworth's heritage has flowered through this crisis. The vein of pacific idealism he put into the CCF has run on through to the NDP. In my imagination I could see Woodsworth in ghostly shadow behind Audrey McLaughlin and John Brewin as they declared the immorality of this war to the House of Commons. Legacies of World War II such as the Holocaust and Hiroshima, and of Vietnam as the well-earned American disaster, have shaped today's attitudes against going to war over Kuwait; and in the U.S., too, not just in Canada. In 1939 our Canadian pace was slow. We had both less information, and far fewer sources of it. As we looked ahead to a course for the war, most of us replayed World War I - a long, slow mobilization, a Canadian expeditionary force, and probably trench warfare. There was some spookiness over the role bombers would play in killing civilians but there was nothing really about Canada as primarily a peacekeeper. There was still some pride from Canadians as the toughest Allied warriors of World War I. There seems no pride like that around today. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Wednesday, January 16, 1991 ID: 12871628 TAG: 199101160240 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER NDP'S AUDREY COMES OF AGE There was a surprise of sorts in the lead-off speeches in the House of Commons on Canada going to war in the Persian Gulf. Prime Minister Brian Mulroney made much of what the late Lester Pearson had done in crucial international situations and was suggestive on what Pearson would be doing today if alive and in office. The obvious corollary was that his government was in line with Pearsonian views and diplomacy. Then Liberal Leader Jean Chretien came on with quite different opinions on what Pearson had done regarding the United Nations, or would be doing in the present crisis. And he capped it by ridiculing Mulroney as nothing like the man he was being so reverent toward. Then NDP Leader Audrey McLaughlin followed with her address and - surprise! - she sounded in her argument and her low-key, barely partisan presentation quite a lot like the Lester Pearson, as parliamentarian and authority on international affairs, I recall firsthand. In short, the NDP leader was impressive in her content and the way she unfolded its reading of history and motives. In particular the taint of anti-Americanism in her speech was slight. Rather, in the tradition of J.S. Woodsworth, McLaughlin spoke essentially for those who believe peace is the paramount cause, and for those who believe also that war, even a so-called just war, even one against a bloody tyrant, is wrong. Perhaps because she was advancing a noble cause with grace she seemed so much more at ease and far more positive than Chretien, the other alternative to Brian Mulroney. Although opinions about House occasions are ephemeral and few count for much for very long, this debate about going to war in its first three speeches would have been trite and banal without her effort. Whoever worked with McLaughlin on her arguments for peace, for giving sanctions more time, did a splendid job, but she herself showed in the presentation how well she is coming along. Yes, I know, those of us on Parliament Hill are far too fixed on comparing and contrasting leaders as they perform. We are not given to enough close analysis to what the leaders are advocating. On this particular day my own bias is for going to war under U.S. leadership against Saddam Hussein and Iraq. I would have Parliament support the government's resolution and the case which the prime minister put (and that Joe Clark later put even more effectively). Further, I appreciated why Jean Chretien felt he had to be so blunt, plain, without finesse in phrasing or judgment on the development of the crisis and its solutions, and scathing in a personal way about the prime minister. Nonetheless, by a neat margin McLaughlin gave the best leader's speech of the day. After the speeches several of us were reviewing and scoring the performances. McLaughlin had impressed the others, but one man made a point about Chretien and the barely fair, to very poor, impression his speech made on listeners and viewers. It wasn't that he'd been away from the House for a long time, or that he was so aware that scrutiny would be intense. Certainly, he was jerky and wound up tight. We acknowledged those points and had had them in mind. No, his defender argued that Chretien's English is his dilemma. That's what bothered us. That's why we rated him poorly, and why he apprehends a difficult future for Chretien because now he must give a lot of closely monitored speeches on many subjects. His English in pronunciation, syntax and phrasing is so awkward that anyone who has to listen to it becomes impatient after four or five minutes. After pondering this defence of Chretien (or is it an attack?) it made sense to me. In a performing situation where one-liners and misphrasings tumble forth and entertain, then Chretien's all right, and often captivating. But where the situation is intensely serious and the presentation long, quips cannot be used much. The argument is telling, but one immediately asks why such an appreciation has come so very late in the game. Why didn't his bad English hamstring Chretien long before this? I suppose the answer is because he was a secondary figure and such an entertaining, low-brow change of pace and class to other politicians, particularly Pierre Trudeau and Clark. The other comparison which comes to mind is with what we heard and saw from the Senate and the House in Washington last Friday. As a familiar of our House I dislike acknowledging that none of our debaters yesterday came close in the quality of their rhetoric to Sam Nunn or George Mitchell, as they opposed the president in the Senate, or to most of the congressmen I heard, in particular, Speaker Thomas Foley. Of course, the Americans bear far more responsibility in lives and dollar costs for what's ahead in a Gulf war. Our armed services in the region are scant in numbers and at arm's length from land warfare, the worst in hostilities. So we Canadians are into a war whose theatre is far away. Although our role is minor, even compared to Korea, for a few months this war will be closer to us than any previous one, even World War II. Why? Because of CBC, CTV, CNN, etc. And TV will also give Jean Chretien many more chances to impress or depress us. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Monday, January 14, 1991 ID: 12871345 TAG: 199101140182 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER MORE EVIDENCE QUEBEC'S GOING Two letters, one to me from a francophone in Pembroke, the other to the New York Review of Books (Jan. 17) from three Montreal intellectuals, show the tender sensitivities of French Canadians and their readiness for umbrage. Surely you've noticed both querulousness and bafflement that Quebecers push things so far in the opinions put by so many English-speaking Canadians at the forums of the Spicer inquiry. This is deja vu for me. After a long stage of some six years on Parliament Hill, I concluded (and still believe) those of us in English Canada could do little to alter a national sentiment we are not allowed to share. At first I saw the sentiment as tribal, woven into strength through two centuries of homogeneous religiosity. The Church had come to dominate Quebecers' education, shaped a destiny for the enclave and nurtured a need there be survival and autonomy. It was bewildering in the later 1960s when the authority of the Church in Quebec was swished away and the bold idea of political independence jumped forward and quickly earned itself a political party and a luring leader in Rene Levesque. Then one could see a nascent, burgeoning nationality that was not broadly Canadian. Roger LaRocque of Pembroke wrote to criticize two eminent Canadians who spoke about keeping Canada together on my last TV program. I think the two - Gordon Robertson, former clerk of the Privy Council, and Jean Luc Pepin, former chairman of the Robarts-Pepin commission on the Constitution - know a lot about the history and the components in our dilemma with Quebec. As much, say, as wizards like Pierre Trudeau, Clyde Wells and Eugene Forsey, and both men are more sympathetic to Quebec's aspirations than this trio, which insists Quebec must be just a province like the others. LaRoque argued: ``Pepin said it would take 10 years of negotiation to disentangle the two countries and another 10 years to rebuild them. Pepin is deluding himself. One need only look at Eastern Europe to see how fast even long-established governments and even countries can by broken up or reunited . . . As for Robertson's statement that the native people of Quebec constitute a majority in Northern Quebec and will follow suit in demanding independence, this doesn't make sense. If Northern Ontario is everything north of a line running east-west from North Bay northwards then surely ``north'' must be the same for Quebec. Even if Northern Quebec is described as those areas whose watersheds drain into James and Hudson bays the natives are not in a majority position. Remember the Abitibi region and places like Rouyn-Noranda. ``Only old-fashioned gerrymandering would give the aboriginal people a majority. The present Quebec border was established in 1927, not 1912. The 1912 border did not clearly define the Quebec-Labrador border and in that particular situation Quebec extended on a north-south line all along the Labrador coastline, leaving Labrador as a thin 30-mile slice along the coast. If English Canada says, let us go back to 1912 or whatever, can Quebec then say, let's go back to the border of 1784 and extend our jurisdiction south to Fort Duquesne (present day Pittsburgh) or west to Fort William. Ludicrous? No more than what Robertson was saying about the Indians in Northern Quebec demanding sovereignty. ``If the country is to be saved let us cut out the `scare the hell out of Quebecers'' tactics used in 1980 and get on with some innovative thinking on how we manage the concept of ``deux nations, un pays'' with the anglo dream of 10 equal provinces.'' Now to the letter in the NY Review from Robert Laliberte, Pierre Teolis, and Danielle Tessier which concluded: ``It is unfortunate that a New York Review of Books' contributor, while reviewing an essay about Canada and Quebec, only takes into account English Canada's point of view.'' The review by philosopher J.M. Cameron of St. Michael's College, Toronto, was of two recent books about Canada by Seymour Lipset, the well-known American sociologist and authority on Canada. As is natural, post-Meech, Cameron focused on our basic dichotomy. He angered me because I felt he was very rough on English-Canadians for bigotry and inelasticity and very soft on French Canadians. In his response to his critics, Cameron confirmed my judgment. He also thought he'd been harsh on anglophones, indulgent with francophones. Little praise he got for it. They took him to task for this sentence (which I thought fair comment): ``The rigorous language policy of Quebec society, proscribing, to take a petty example, the use of English on signs outside shops, shows how lacking in confidence in the inherent power of the culture to maintain itself are the rulers of Quebec.'' Then the trio misconstrued an appraisal by Cameron of the linguistic minorities outside Quebec as suggesting that francophone minorities in English Canada are far better treated than are anglophones in Quebec. While it baffles me how they read this into Cameron's line, that they did shows how contentious, prickly, and hair-splitting the Quebecois have become. To repeat, they're going, going . . . The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Sunday, January 13, 1991 ID: 12871258 TAG: 199101130263 EDITION: Final SECTION: Comment-Lifestyle PAGE: C3 COLUMN: In Ottawa SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER BATTLE OF THE MEDIA HEAVYWEIGHTS Reporters get more fierce and sure by the year. My example centres on a sermon on journalism and its ethics given Eric Malling of CTV's W5 by Geoffrey York, the Globe and Mail's advocate for the native cause. In a long letter (Nov. 19) under Globe letterhead, York cited Malling's program about South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu's visit to Osnaburgh reserve as ``shot through with factual errors, deliberate distortions, sloppy research, twisted logic and a deep contempt for the truth.'' Malling, wrote York, had shown profound ignorance, a misunderstanding of Canadian history. He had fed the racism of every bigot in Canada and distorted the truth. York believes CTV owes ``an apology to the people of Osnaburgh.'' Readers may recall the W5 program of Nov. 11. It was largely a reprise, on site, of Tutu's visit in August to the Indian band at Osnaburgh. The reserve is near the eastern end of Lake St. Joe, some 500 km northwest of Thunder Bay. Tutu's trip was set up by George Erasmus, chief of the First Nations. Most of its costs were met by band funds. Once I worked in mines near Osnaburgh and later was MP for the riding in which it lies. So I'm more familiar with the region's history and problems than most viewers would be. I was roused by Malling's acidulous exposition of Tutu's drop-in to give it a column (Nov. 14) of praise. In particular, W5 had revealed the ``misrepresentations at Osnaburgh reserve'' that were ``foisted on the country through the news coverage of Tutu's visit.'' I thought the program should be ``fare for schools of journalism on the pitfalls of advocacy reporting.'' Malling's script did not single out Geoffrey York of the Globe, but it seems both he and I had him in mind after the Tutu visit, and not just because he covered it for his paper (Aug. 14). He's been the most zealous and widely distributed of the many print and broadcast journalists devoted to the native cause. Those ``lefties'' like Rick Salutin who lambaste publisher Roy Megarry and editor William Thorsell of the Globe for putting it on a reactionary path might reflect on the reams of space these managers have allowed York in his advocacy reportage of Indian affairs. York has made the Globe the paper of record for the Indian movement and its grievances. His sternly moral reprimand of Malling is a splendid example of the judgmental acumen and courage so pervasive among younger reporters. If a columnist is one who expresses a bias, these are all columnists. For such advocates of the cause, whatever a native says seems gospel. Any native's reading of the past is true. Little to nothing has been done for them. They have been and are the most abused and deceived people in our history. White guilt is everywhere, and the culture and rights of natives are still suborned by acts of Parliament and by a brutal justice system. These are the themes of the chiefs and the Yorks. After many readings of York's letter to Malling and the latter's thorough and good-tempered reply (Dec. 11), I think not a single rebuttal by York of Malling's content stands up or make sense. He's far gone in bias. You can find it in his stories from the Manitoba inquiry, from Osnaburgh, from the Oka compound and a piece in Content (Nov.-Dec.) titled ``In defence of the truth; reporters behind Oka barricades weren't agents of propaganda.'' York is as righteous and partisan as Sheila Copps in her Rat Pack heyday. If you believe white guilt is unerasable, if you back York's cause - and many Canadians do - then he and those who stand behind him like editor Thorsell deserve your praise. My opinion is a reiteration, and contrary. Malling and W5 made a superb, fair account of the manipulation of Archbishop Tutu. There was much deceit and twisting by the chief at Osnaburgh and by George Erasmus. And the reporters who covered the visit - not just York -were neither objective nor thorough. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Friday, January 11, 1991 ID: 12871007 TAG: 199101110208 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER NDP'S KNEE-JERK ANTI-AMERICANISM Since August there has been a broad public discourse in Canada over the seizure of Kuwait by Iraq and the responses. The latter found their catalyst at the United Nations and in security council resolutions which demanded Iraqi withdrawal. The leader of the responses is the United States, and it is the anti-Americanism in so much of our talk which bothers me. So does the cloying piety in so many TV bites about our men and women so far from home and loved ones. To one who spent four Christmases overseas, in uniform and eventually in action for months, such tear-mongering stress on present hardship and looming dangers seems maudlin and demeans the abilities and courage of our airmen and sailors. These are volunteers. They know their roles may be dangerous. There wasn't extravagant anti-Americanism in the scores of questions and remarks in the House of Commons about Iraq and Kuwait before the holiday recess but it was there in opposition criticism. Next week the MPs will be back, and it will be interesting to see how strong is the anti-American current now, notably in the NDP which is addicted to it. The long drama over hostages held in Iraq overshadowed the introduction and effectiveness of the trade blockade of Iraq. It diverted us considerably from the huge problems and costs (especially to the U.S.) of arraying and sustaining a force to oust Iraq from Kuwait if sanctions failed. Meanwhile, scores of our interest groups have been gearing up with picketing, marching and prayer services. Most of their focus has been pious about Iraq, and critical about the U.S. Some missioners to Iraq like Svend Robinson and Lloyd Axworthy (as hostage-savers) or Maud Barlow (as part of a feminist intervention in the desert) have symbolized the peace-seeking Canadians and been approved as a contrast to the hawks of the White House and our PMO. Of course there should be ongoing criticism of the American president and his secretary of state. They are certain to get it within their own democratic forums, and we're entitled to join in. We should chivvy our leaders to act carefully and morally. We want them to remind the Americans as the military leaders in the allied response of what is sensible for us to contribute. No, it is not criticism of American leadership as it has unfolded, nor doubts about the contribution which we should make to the UN forces which exasperates me. This begins with the way so many Canadian critics ignore the record of Iraq's dictator, in particular his obsession with acquiring and using diabolically dangerous weapons. Their relative indifference to the menace matches an unconcealed animus toward the Americans. This flows from a vision of the U.S. which we have had for years from our most vociferous nationalists. Canadians who hate Americans see Washington as the seat of the dominant, evil empire of the world, and as constantly threatening the subjugation of our politics, economy and culture with their controls and priorities. The juggernaut that has been using up our oil and natural gas is now sustaining undemocratic regimes of anachronistic sheiks and sultans. The aim: To ensure oil supplies for the U.S. For decades before the Berlin Wall came down and the hegemony of the USSR collapsed, ending the era of nuclear stalemate between the two superpowers, there were many in Canada who criticized the Americans as much or more than the Russians. They advocated our withdrawal from NATO and NORAD, and decried U.S. bases and radar watches in our north. While some peace groups and many of those most critical of Americans had Christian motivations, some of the best organized and most durable critics were left-wingers, from proper Communists to Trotskyites to some radical New Democrats. Their vision was (and still is, it seems) of the U.S., as the leading capitalist power, seeking world domination and markets for its ideology and corporations, with Canada a compliant and docile partner, politically, militarily and economically. The USSR is near collapse. So many ``socialist'' countries are scrambling toward a free market economy and multi-party democracy. They seek American aid and know-how. And so one might have expected some falling away of America as evil, selfish, and dangerous. Not so! Canadian critics of America through the Cold War period, particularly those of social democratic bent, have wanted a switch of our foreign policy from military alliances to peacekeeping under UN auspices. It's clear now from Audrey McLaughlin that the backing the U.S. has won in the UN for its Gulf role hasn't dimmed the NDP's anti-Americanism. A lot of those attacking George Bush and citing Brian Mulroney and Joe Clark as lackeys, and who insist force not be used to winkle Iraq from Kuwait, are very familiar. For example, three peace-lovers, including a grandma, whom I saw featured on TV last week, have long been militants here for the USSR and constant critics of the U.S. It seems their anti-Americanism, like that of the New Democrats, is unaffected by the ruination where their ideology was practised. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp. DATE: Wednesday, January 09, 1991 ID: 12870746 TAG: 199101090211 EDITION: Final SECTION: Editorial/Opinion PAGE: 11 SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER OUR DILEMMA, THROUGH U.S. EYES A lounge chair in the sun on a white Florida beach is a sweeter reading place than an office in iced-up Ottawa, and it adds perception and savor when the book is In the Eye of the Eagle by Quebecer Jean-Francois Lisee (Harper Collins). An extract from the conclusion may make clear why it's more telling to read such stuff in a region of our neighbor that lures millions of us each year. It begins cryptically. ``The answer is yes. The question, which has long haunted Canadian living rooms, both separatist and federalist, is and has been: Would the United States allow Quebec to separate?'' Earlier Lisee has shown the question was put to presidential advisers from Lyndon Johnson onward, to Pentagon strategists, to CIA chiefs, even to Wall Street bankers. And . . . ``Everywhere, every time, the response has been two parts. One: We do not want Quebec to separate. Two: We would accommodate ourselves. The U.S. would, as they say, `live with it.' '' Of course, the question is still alive and the answer almost sure to be the same. The U.S. will not be a direct impediment to Quebec independence. This is an assurance I draw from Lisee. And his reasoning, backed by reports from U.S. files, is more persuasive after a few days of rusticating in Florida. Once again, as from my first visit to Minnesota in 1934, I was jarred by the slight knowledge and even slighter interest of Americans in our country and its affairs. We're so far back of Cuba, say, or Mexico, or Panama or Israel or the Philippines. And since Minnesota I have tried to see the bright side of such ignorance or unawareness. It means we are outside the calculations of most U.S. politicians, journalists and academics. It supports Lisee's theme that any inordinate pressure on Canada from official America is unlikely as we either sort ourselves back into a workable federation or negotiate a breakup. As usual, the Americans are preoccupied with their cares. To them (as I think to most Canadians) the recession looms larger than Saddam Hussein - at least till the guns begin. By and large, those whom I encountered are more dubious than gung-ho about their president's commitment to winkle the Iraqis out of Kuwait. Their enthusiasm for UN resolutions would launch very few ships, and even though the Vietnam debacle is 17 years past they remember it. They doubt the competence of their own generals and the staying power of their forces. Most whom I met were patriots but not jingoists fuming for the erasure of Hussein. In the Eye of the Eagle was published in French last year and quickly became a best-seller in Quebec. At the time it drew a burst of attention in the English language media. On TV its author, a personable, concise young man, explained his work, particularly: a) the fascination of the late Rene Levesque and other PQ leaders with the United States and its official and/or covert analysis of their sovereignist intentions; b) the usually judicious, thorough, yet detached monitoring of Quebec-Canada relations by American officials. The book is out now in English and in paperback. It is entertaining, informative journalism, a good companion to Andrew Cohen's recent A Deal Undone; the Making and Breaking of the Meech Lake Accord (Douglas & McIntyre). Why so? Two excellent, industrious reporters, after through interviews and record-searches have produced lively books about complementary aspects of the central Canadian dilemma - Quebec! In combination, a reader gets a splendid fix on the main factors and characters over the past 20 years in the so-called constitutional crisis. Where Cohen illuminates all the recent Canadian players, from Brian Mulroney to the nay-saying Elijah Harper, Lisee vaults you back to Charles de Gaulle and his Quebec visit in 1967, then picks his way through the Pierre Trudeau era and its personalities here and in Washington. He sketches the lurches and shifts of Quebec over the sovereignty-independence issue as seen in the plays and ploys of federalists and separatists for American attention and backing. He shows how the American leadership reacted, either to such initiatives or to the appraisals of their officials in Canada. Neither book is unscholarly but each is very readable and the reportage is often racy. Lisee and Cohen are more storytellers than advocacy journalists. Neither is obsessed with villains or heroes, or strong for any one side of the issue. Cohen is a federalist all the way, but he left me with an impression that any durable accommodation of Quebecois aspirations and English Canadian attitudes is hopeless. Lisee is not an avowed federalist, and clearly Levesque, not Trudeau is his hero. But his book is not a separatist tract and its cumulative effect, especially after one reads the appendices of American documents on Quebec, is to raise regrets that Canada with Quebec somehow accommodated, cannot be kept intact. The Toronto Sun Copyright © 1991, SunMedia Corp.