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Doug’s Columns 1996 « Douglas Fisher

Fisher

 

Doug’s Columns 1996

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, December 29, 1996
ID: 12464515
TAG: 199612270096
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C5
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THE OLD YEAR’S ENDING, BUT IT’S FLAVOR LINGERS

Politically speaking, 1996 has been a sweet and sour year at best.
If you want the sour, merely recall how nasty and frustrating the series of headlines and stories were in 1996 from four woeful inquiries into: 1) the Somalia incidents; 2) the Westray mine disaster; 3) the tainted blood tragedy; 4) the longest, costliest inquiry ever that at last reported, extravagantly and impractically, on aboriginal issues.
If you want to emphasize the sweet it has to be that governmental finances in Canada, whatever any particular disarray, say as in Quebec, are in a better shape regarding deficits than when the year began. But to savour the paradox within the year of sweet and sour one has to assay the consistent, central concern. This has been, is, and likely always will be, unity or the survival intact of Canada.
It’s hardly consoling that we are no worse off regarding an unilateral departure of Quebec directed by a PQ government. Although the Parti Quebecois gained the leadership of Lucien Bouchard early in the year, he has emphasized and acted in line with his assurance that the next thrust for sovereignty is much less immediate than stern, economic measures to master what the federal government and the other provincial governments already had under way to lower and, eventually, to end deficits. So in 1996 Bouchard’s concurrence has figuratively had all senior governments reading from the same page on thrift. A rare, common factor — and somewhat sweet.
Crudely put, if one is neither a sov-ereignist nor an anglo who thinks the sooner they’re gone the better, this has not been a bad year. At its close, Premier Bouchard and his government is considerably down in popularity and meeting tough resistance from interests usually supportive of the PQ over economic austerity and linguistic defences, both symbolized in the previous premier, Jacques Parizeau.
On the other hand, Bouchard’s dilemmas do not come largely because of a federal mastery over this most vital of all issues. The prime minister is as far from being the toast of Quebec as he was a year ago, then still shaken by the close referendum vote. In one reaction, Jean Chretien recruited two fresh Quebec ministers, Stephen Dion and Pierre Pettigrew, and gave each big roles. Neither has been a bust as yet, but it becomes clear that Dion, the minister with the prime mission on unity to Quebec and to the rest of Canada, is not a joke but he is making slight impact. It’s also discouraging that the provincial representation of federalism by Daniel Johnson and his Liberals in legislative opposition is no more resurgent in Quebec than is Chretien.
Despite much journalisic scouting around, the choice between federal plans A or B (or both at once) in readying for the next vote by Quebecers on their destiny, we go into 1997, almost certainly a federal election year, without an open, coherent Ottawa program on separation. No explicit propositions for constitutional adjustment. No tough-minded provisions for what must be in any terms of departure. We still don’t know from the Chretien government if the right to part is as simple as 50% of a referendum vote, plus 1.
If anything, public belief seems no stronger now than a year ago in either Chretien’s preference for pragmatism over vision or his confidence that federalism is too good a deal for a majority of Quebecers to reject.
The year has not been kind to those who dream of a great, new, federal leader to preserve Canada from Bouchard and the PQ. Paul Martin is the only positive alternative to Chretien among the Liberals, federal or provincial. No anglo comparable in talent and charisma to Bouchard is in sight, in Ottawa or elsewhere.
Although a sweeter aspect of 1996 has been Martin’s continuing supervision of deficit reduction as finance minister, he has not yet been taken by federalists in either Quebec or beyond as the nation-saver. Is this because he’s been proper in standing behind his boss, and not been skirmishing with separatists out in front of Chretien?
On some occasions an emoting man in public, Martin has by and large kept himself from the familiar Chretien cant of love for Canada. Is his prospect as a savior darkened for us because he would be yet another of so many prime ministers from Quebec and, at that, just a minority anglo with a Montreal seat? Perhaps if the national economy strengthens through 1997 with more jobs and consumer optimism there will be more recognition of Martin as the prime minister we need.
As one close to the Chretien career since 1963 I see no chance he will not lead the Liberals into the next election and almost certainly to at least a minority government — probably a majority one.
Thus, the memorable matter as 1996 closes is a country-wide political prospect dominated by Jean Chretien despite some evidence he has been shaky and, on occasion, eccentric, since the October referendum.
The federal past reminds us how how hard it is to get rid of veteran politicians. Oh, how Liberals of the past wanted to see the close of Mackenzie King and Louis St. Laurent and even Pierre Trudeau. And a Conservative government fell in 1963 because so many in it no longer wanted John Diefenbaker as prime minister.
As yet, there is no momentum for Chretien’s departure from office. This is only incipient. It did begin to take shape late in the year among some Liberals. Going into 1997 and his trade mission circus his future is a part — but not a dynamic part — of political chat in the body politic as a whole. It is hard to imagine what disasters could strike the Chretien team before he calls the election that would firm up demands he should go. And so, no forecast of a new prime minister in 1997.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, December 22, 1996
ID: 12463003
TAG: 199612200138
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C5
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

LIBERAL PARTY MUST NOW REINVENT JEAN CHRETIEN

What now for a traumatized Jean Chretien?
Not least because of the season, most citizens interested in politics may want political writers to turn away from the prime minister-as-liar files. The matter has had a rather long run at the top of the news, and one might expect it to fade into memory; certainly not to be highly memorable when Parliament returns in February.
The swarm of anglo Canadians who’ve cherished Chretien as a common man in politics may well have accepted his excuses and semi-apology. And, as a writer, I’d be happy to let the GST and Chretien alone for a long time.
It isn’t that simple, however, and a few journalists have touched on the reason why.
It’s because those at this regime’s core have to respond to the catastrophe which befell their leader and government on the CBC-TV Town Hall and which worsened in a week-long aftermath.
They must refurbish both their leader and the government’s agenda. They must develop a “fresh take” on Jean Chretien. They must turn from emphasizing the marvels achieved and yet to come from their superb handling of the nation’s deficit-debt-burden to presenting visionary projects.
Most of these must be seen as conjuring jobs, jobs and more jobs. By the time the PM comes back from his grand hurrah with the premiers around Asia we shall be getting the new Chretien with a revitalized program.
Even now Paul Martin, minister of finance and the hero (if there was one) in the GST rumpus, must be steeling himself for what portends: in a word, it’s “spending;” in a phrase it’s “turning left.” Above all, it means recasting the boss as very caring and kindly, a guy who really does see the little sparrows fall. Enough of the propaganda from the lefties that Chretien-Martin are living by the old Mulroney-Wilson agenda.
The meaner-minded advisers to the prime minister — and he has several — are figuring what’s to be done about Paul Martin, not just because he and his mandarins in finance figure to oppose big spending forays such as another “infrastructure” project in the billions or extension, plus world-class standards, for a genuine national highway system, or even a strong backing for more child care places and jobs. No, it’s because Martin has become a sharp PMO problem because of the contrasts between him and Chretien that have emerged.
Now Martin is obviously the able, caring and honest minister of the cabinet. His rise in the national scale of respect has made him seem grander than his boss, much as C.D. Howe was by the mid-1950s, when seen alongside his chief, Louis St. Laurent.
And while this was happening to the finance minister, Chretien’s surrogate in title, Deputy Prime Minister Sheila Copps, was largely becoming a mere token for gender interests and partisan loyalists.
How do the handlers straighten this out? There ought to be some eclipse of Martin, perhaps by his own, deliberately-sought lower profile.
The Liberals must enter the coming campaign with Chretien firmly in charge and ruling the government. He must be bearing a platform or “book” of positive promises, not more cuts and frugality. There shouldn’t be any likelihood that electors who are uncommitted to a specific party will wonder why they cannot vote to have Paul Martin as prime minister (instead of “yesterday’s man” as TorStar columnists keep tagging Chretien).
The necessary Liberal scenario calls for a triumph within the government of left over right, of the caucus over finance. Chretien, backed by the “real” Liberals of the cabinet and caucus, must be seen as sweeping past the reactionaries of the cabinet whose mentors are in the banks, the corporate elite and on Wall Street.
It may mean the resurrection of Lloyd Axworthy as a first-line spokesman for the government, oozing empathy and spending much on aiding the world’s underprivileged.
It may mean public praise and promotion by the prime minister for Allan Rock as a law reformer.
There could be half a dozen new ministers from a caucus swatch of ambitious, earnest, younger backbenchers. Or there could some conversion for the two newish, personable ministers, Stephane Dion and Pierre Pettigrew, from focusing largely on unity to heralding a Liberal design of federalism for 21st century Canada.
It might even mean a more generous, long-term budget plan for the CBC. It is almost sure to involve some tax breaks for families with children in the pre-election budget.
It is far likelier that what I suggest will come as Liberal response to the Chretien contretemps with the GST than the Liberals heading into the election months with Jean Chretien in his present public guise and bearing just remnants from the Red Book as a platform.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, December 18, 1996
ID: 12461923
TAG: 199612170099
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

ALL’S NOT WELL ON THE HILL

Parliament is away for an elongated seasonal break. As MPs cleared the Hill last week the press got a familiar release from Herb Gray, the House leader. All is well. Many good bills have been passed or are along the way. Committees have worked well. A thoughtful ministry has bolstered initiatives for private MPs and let them review a few policy fields and make amendments to government bills. In addition to a few “free” votes on big issues, the government whip has been off regarding private members’ bills.
Has all really been going well this session, and this Parliament?
Insofar as Herb Gray sees it, it has. But if one wants a spirited, busy, positive Parliament, this one fails. An off-the-record canvass of non-ministerial MPs on this House’s worth would be damning. “Morose” and “fizzless” are adjectives for the institution. This became very obvious after the Quebec referendum and the departure of the exciting Lucien Bouchard.
This dour scenario in the House that I sketch is as it functions, not of the government per se. Simply put, keen, rewarding participation by MPs is rare, even with an election near.
Some of the inanition of the House may come from the style and character of the prime minister. He and his close supporters take little interest in the House beyond the game of question period. They’ve not nurtured a persistent interplay of the PM with his backbench such as Brian Mulroney used to keep morale high among his backers. This is a tough PM. He wants a taut caucus, and no more John Nunziatas.
Does the spiritlessness in Parliament come more from inadequate opposition groups, each with poor leadership? Only in part. Opposition MPs rail at ministers. They plug their own beefs and nostrums. The BQ, Reform, even the small NDP caucus, have serious, diligent MPs. But rarely do they and the horde of Liberals generate excitement for themselves and win much public interest.
Years ago attendance of MPs in the House outside of question period fell after night sittings were dropped. It’s worsened in this House. Few bother to follow debates. Speeches are rarely reported, nor is much of what occurs in committee affairs. Even official or mandarinate Ottawa seems to ignore the Hill.
In opposition, Reform has the numbers and ideas to push a national perspective but, frankly, it’s seen by few in and around this Parliament as the government in waiting. My explanation of this is general inexperience, a leader who is not at his best in the House and an exalted idealism having a hobbling effect. Reform merits some credit, however, for making large rents in a House pattern of political correctness. Its insistence on linking frugality and political morality has brought more candor into play on issues once tip-toed around like immigration, unemployment insurance, gender rights and Indians.
WHO’S TO BLAME?
Responsibility for the current condition of Parliament is hard to allocate. One must recognize the deficit-debt burden situation has squelched a lot of blue-skying by MPs. But increasingly, our parliamentary system as it functions in Ottawa is unable to give useful participation to most MPs between elections, aside from minding their ridings. Once the total of MPs by party is struck election night, thus deciding who will be prime minister, the prime role of an MP is done.
Except with a minority Parliament, the essence of the Ottawa system is a domination by the prime minister and his cabinet, sustained by docile backbenchers.
A new proposal — the four-day House week — has just been floated. They say it would humanize the lives of MPs. Give them more time in their ridings and with their families. (It also means more chances to work on re-election.) But the unspoken reason for the four-day week is boredom with the Hill.
Most MPs now appreciate their own insignificance. Question period could run just as well with less than two score of them on hand. Most House speeches are ignored — mere showings of the party flag. The boredom of MPs may be taken from the few one finds in likely gathering places like the back lobbies, the dining room and the cafeterias. The reading room, once a hive, is ghostly. Library use by MPs themselves is way down. Every night of the week Hill buildings are dark. Socializing across party lines only seems to happen in extended committee hearings. Even the big Grit caucus seems short in camaradarie and social acquaintances.
By and large the Hill was once a quite human and humane enclave, with enough continuity in surviving MPs for living traditions and wide, social ambits. There was even some respect between MPs and reporters. Not in this House — the least collegial majority House in my memory. Few will rue its finish, even the Chretienites.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, December 15, 1996
ID: 12461120
TAG: 199612130096
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C5
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

CHRETIEN AMBUSHED BY TV QUESTIONERS//THE PM MAY NOT BE A LIAR, BUT HIS PANTS ARE ON FIRE

No! It’s impossible. CBC-TV News could not be in cahoots with Tory Sen. Marjorie LeBreton.
Nonetheless, the CBC’s Town Hall on Tuesday with guest Jean Chretien, plus the report of the PM’s performance on the subsequent newscast, was an exquisite follow-through on LeBreton’s initiative — one which she and her party badly needed.
Reaction had been nasty to Sen. LeBreton’s recent attack on the prime minister as a liar. Not only did the CBC prove she was right with archival videotape on the subject of the GST, next day the Reform and BQ hounds of opposition were pursuing the liar theme.
Earlier last Tuesday I had canvassed a swatch of dailies from across Canada after the senator’s outburst. Most of them had an editorial and almost all had letters to the editor which castigated LeBreton for lese-majeste, nastiness and stupidity in making such accusations — especially given the memorable, tawdry record on truth of Brian Mulroney, the prime minister she served so long (and who named her to her present sinecure).
Nowhere in my scan through so much opinion did I find absolute approval of the LeBreton accusations. The general appraisal was that she had abandoned decency and correct political behavior. Only a few of the writers noted that there was some evidence that Chretien often stretched the facts or that the Liberals in their days in opposition were often harsh and persistent in alleging that Progressive Conservative ministers, Brian Mulroney in particular, were lying, and lying and lying again.
The material raised by questioners in the Town Hall broadcast was not surprising or from out of left field. But in almost every case the interlocutor put a question squarely and persisted with it. Alert, quick, and dodging as he can be, a generally unrattled PM became less and less impressive as the show moved along.
In the main, Chretien faced stock stuff.
Why such high unemployment after three years in office?
What is the government’s strategy for Quebec and a united Canada?
If sovereignists win their next referendum is there a federal plan for the parting, for example, to move Canadians in Quebec back to Canada?
What about the undertaking to get rid of the GST?
What positive response has he to the recommendations of the long royal commission inquiry into aboriginal affairs?
Surely the Liberal undertaking to keep full access to medicare was broken by federal cuts to health care that are creating a dual health system — one for the well-to-do, one for the rest?
The pocket drama of an ambushed prime minister may not even make a blip in opinion poll ratings of the Liberal party or of Chretien as the best leader for Canada. Certainly, it was hard to imagine that either in the Town Hall or the general viewing audience there would be even a sizable minority who had in mind another leader or another party as an alternative. Nevertheless, the happenings made it clear that a leader facing tough questions was flying by the seat of his pants, not with sober calculation and certainty. He seemed callous when he seemed to suggest a work-seeker should keep trying for “a lucky break.”
A Liberal MP from Ontario with experience in several terms told me he almost welcomed the ambush.
“There’s arrogance. We’re cocky. Not just in the PMO. It’s infected the caucus. Our first term people think the election next spring will be a stroll. Even the Reid-Southam poll last week that had Tory stock rising didn’t faze them. We have to look at ourselves when that’s been happening because (Jean) Charest’s hardly been in sight or found a new cast.”
A colleague who specializes in the inner sanctums of Ottawa’s power elite had a similar take on the ambush, plus some delight that the CBC had engineered such a telling group of questioners. He said of the insiders: “They’ve been very full of themselves lately. Arrogant!”
It has been so easy the last two months to foresee continuing dominance by the Chretien Liberals, given Lucien Bouchard’s festering economic dilemmas in Quebec and the unravelling of the Bloc caucus.
Reform Leader Preston Manning’s been almost a parliamentary no-show, and, when present, high-minded but ineffective. An alternative, perhaps the Tories under Charest, hardly seems a serious threat to a Liberal victory sweep from Manitoba to Newfoundland that matches that of 1993.
One must resurrect an old Ottawa axiom: a government defeats itself, not the opposition. The possibilities one must consider, given that Chretien is being boxed in by his own contradictions, cluster around the familiar problems which Canadians have always been given to worrying over.
Oh, how familiar they are: high, persistent unemployment; a lack of stability in relations with Quebec; a diminishing social system (health, welfare and pensions); a tax regime that seems both unfair and hard to understand, particularly in consumer affairs.
On all these problems, at best the Chretien government is marking time. It has brought down the federal deficits substantially in its four years. Fortunately for the PM, as yet he doesn’t seem to face a strong, rival leader. But there’s much unhappiness about.
A prime minister increasingly chivvied as a liar may find it impossible to run up a handsome majority in the next election.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, December 11, 1996
ID: 12460160
TAG: 199612100114
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

WELL, IS CHRETIEN A LIAR OR NOT?

As an ancient around Parliament, the leading questions to me this week were about Jean Chretien as a liar. This tag had been stuck on him by Sen. Marjorie LeBreton, former keeper of the appointments file of the Mulroney government and for a quarter of a century one of the most pleasant, courteous people on the Hill.
The questions, mostly from reporters, never opened with shock that Jean Chretien as prime minister had told, or would tell, lies. Several thought a PM might distort truth but would not risk bare lies because the press would never let him get away with it. And there is the frustration which drove LeBreton to cry “Liar!” She has an elephantine recall about patronage and political promises and their sequels.
How, she says, does Chretien get away with contradictions to platform and promises, for example on patronage? Where are the reporters or the opposition MPs who once ripped her prime minister? They even popularized his nickname, “Lyin’ Brian.”
If Mulroney’s regime was sleazy in appointments and dodged promises or if he twisted rotten performances and results into good ones, what about Chretien’s regime? The patterns in policy and patronage are remarkably similar, yet Chretien goes unstained, even by glaring flipperies with facts and truth.
One reporter’s question to me went like this: Isn’t it stupid partisan politics to make such aspersions about such a popular leader, and particularly when they come from a handmaiden to the infamous Brian Mulroney?
Yes! Yes, is the instant answer. As yet LeBreton has helped, not hurt the PM, and this may hold unless she, the caster of the aspersions about Chretien’s looseness with truth, continues with more examples and finds persistent allies in her own party or from forceful Reform or Bloc MPs. There’s much on the record in dubious claims and twisty interpretations for them to use in attacking Chretien.
For example: just reiterating Chretien on abolishing the GST; or mocking his heart-to-heart chats with homeless citizens; or resurrecting his shaded role as a highly paid lawyer involved in the Pearson International Airport contract deal (and that was when his wife, Aline, was remunerated as a secretary by her husband’s law firm).
Another question made me wonder about memories.
Have such charges about a prime minister come up before in modern times? Yes, they have, and the results have almost always reinforced partisan opinion. Our PM doesn’t lie; yours does.
LOTS OF HANSARD ENTRIES
I suggested research on the topics of lies, lying, truth, untruths, etc. should begin with a romp through Hansard indexes. Look under the heading Procedure: Language, inappropriate/improper; or under Privilege. There are lots of entries. Just a few words used in the 1991-93 session, usually by Liberals about Mulroney, give the flavor under the euphemistic subhead of “improper language”: “bullshit; deliberate falsehood; deliberately misleading; false and dishonest; hypocrisy; Judas; liar; lies; lying; lied; totally dishonest.”
Such accusations and responses to them have not been rare in Parliament since a dam of decorum burst in the 1956-57 pipeline debates. I cannot remember Louis St. Laurent being accused of lying, but both John Diefenbaker and Lester Pearson often were. It happened more seriously for Pearson, say with the Spencer spy case or the Guy Favreau tragedy. With the Chief, the outraged defence his loyalists would give him would often confirm his bent to satirical hyperbole. This penchant made ready material for attacks on his honesty by front-bench Grits and these sparked hullabaloos which the Speaker would close by insisting a member who charged another with lying must withdraw the words or withdraw from the chamber.
Clever Liberal Allan MacEachen would insist when Pearson or Pierre Trudeau was charged with lies or falsifying facts that the member stating this should “stake his seat” on it. (This had actually happened once, in the 1920s, when an MP resigned to force a byelection on his honesty. It hasn’t been a precedent.)
LeBreton as a senator can hardly create a byelection, but she can keep prompting journalists and opposition politicians to look far more closely at Chretien’s spoken record. This risks more antagonism from citizens dismayed by partisan warfare and from a media mob that still has a Chretien tilt, taking him as a pretty good guy and hardly devious and slick enough to utter lies and get away with them.
On the other hand, Sen. LeBreton is right: Chretien does play fast and adroitly with the truth, and always has as long as I’ve known him. So do his colleagues and rivals; so did his predecessors.
Take this as a given in parliamentary politics: there are always partisan differences on what is truth and what is a lie. Beware!

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, December 08, 1996
ID: 12459397
TAG: 199612060085
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C5
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

FIRST NATIONS’ FANTASYLAND//WHY THE ROYAL COMMISSSION’S RECOMMENDATIONS WILL NEVER FLY

One day after the huge report on aboriginal affairs was released there was an opinion question for viewers of Broadcast News on cable. Did they approve or disapprove of a major recommendation by the commissioners that there should be a third parliamentary institution, a House of First Nations, to go with the House of Commons and the Senate?
As one who believes the core thinking of the commission is fantasy arising from a massive, romantic fallacy, I wondered how many viewers would phone in opinions and how these would split. Almost 1,000 called, a higher number by several hundred than drawn by most of these weekday surveys. They sustained my belief in common sense among Canadians. The vote was 71%-29% against adding a purely native legislature to our federal system.
The report of the marathon commission has also been doing poorly with elected politicians — federal and provincial, either in office or out. The report has only been seen as great stuff by the trojans of the Indian industry.
Few politicians even want to talk about the cornucopia of expensive recommendations. Those I’ve read about or talked with tend to take the line of Ron Irwin, the Indian affairs minister. He says some of the report’s ideas are attractive, but given the current scale of spending for native affairs and the present dilemmas with high, annual deficits and huge debt loads, there cannot be a push, and certainly not a rush, to much more spending.
Thus, this long (five years) and costly ($58 million) report, bloated to six heavy paperbacks, is figuratively, though not technically, dead. It will be a touchstone and a reference grab-bag for years of future debate on native issues, but its grand visions haven’t a chance.
For Canadians the best hope is this: as most natives realize the fantasy and the squanderlust intrinsic to the recommendations they and the Indian industry’s battery of lawyers, sociologists, anthropologists, clergy and historians will realize the imperative of common sense pragmatism, not of visions in the sky.
Put most crudely, a country of 30 million people with an already complex and relatively expensive governmental system cannot commit itself for generations and generations to sustaining less than a thirtieth of its people and their future offspring because of an historical guilt which most people either do not feel personally or were never a part of. A guilt forever!
The costs of the recommendations would be astronomical if the steps toward achieving the romantic fallacy were taken. And we know who would have to pay and pay and pay.
This year, 1996, our governments (the three levels) are putting $13 billion into native affairs. That’s at least 10 times what goes to the CBC; and nine times the budget this year of the United Nations.
My estimate is that a major pursuit of the commission’s main recommendations would drive the aboriginal bill to at least $50 billion a year within a decade.
Those who think I’m swanning should read the report and underline the scores and scores of times it says this or that must be done or should be done — more inquiries, subsidies, boards, commissions, etc. and councils and bureaucracies galore. There would be so many thousands of political and government posts for natives and their counsellors and handlers from the 80 nations making up the House of First Nations that there would be work, or at least salaries, for half the aboriginal population’s adults.
Again, some readers may think I’m being preposterous. Just slug your way through the report, then roughly price the profusion of ideas.
The commission’s basic foundations for public acceptance are: a) the urgent, and arguably growing, social and economic needs of the natives; and b) a determination to carry on and reinforce through ceaseless expositions the Canadian guilt for generations of mistreatment — economic, social and physical — which has been directed by governments, was sanctioned by churches and broadly sustained by a racist, societal bias.
Natives’ living conditions often have been bleak, their economic and participatory opportunities few. The commissioners posit that a once vibrant culture and its heritage of collective, rather than rampantly individual, values have been suborned or disrespected. The wonderful “wisdom of the elders” has been ignored and the centuries-old rapport of native with nature has been undermined or scorned.
The reasoning for almost every recommendation begins with our enormous guilt; therefore, an imperative is emphasized that apology, redress and recompense must be coupled with a recapture and institutionalizing of the magnificent culture and heritage of the aboriginals within the federal Canada’s system. This will done within the framework of some 80 different aborginal “nations,” each with a particular governing and administrative setup of its own, all within a new, “third order” of government to work beside (and often, within) the federal and the provincial “orders.”
Eighty seems a lot of “nations” for just over 700,000 people, roughly the population today of the greater Ottawa-Carleton area. But 80 is well down from the present 600-plus native bands, well scattered across Canada and mostly miles above our nation-wide southerly belt of concentrated population.
Aside from having their national parliament to counsel our governments and the present Parliament, each of these aboriginal nations is to have particular determination of most of its affairs.
One key assumption is dual citizenship for natives — Canadian and Aboriginal. The latter is to be determined in large part by self-declaration and recognition by peers, rather than by “blood quantum.” Each nation would have an extra-territorial reach to serve those of its members who choose to live in towns and cities away from their particular nation’s lands.
The commission is figuratively antsy about “blood quantum.” Why so? In part because so many of the “chiefs” with high recognition in national affairs are so obviously part white — like Ovide Mercredi, George Erasmus and Phil Fontaine.
The report ducks the reality that native distinctiveness has become so much a heritage of bloodlines and these nations within our nation are essentially distinguishable by ancestry plus a sort of ethnicity.
Each nation must be awarded as much more land as possible to go with present reserve properties by grants of federal and provincial Crown lands. Of course, some lands will have to be appropriated and purchased from private owners where required to meet the transport, communication and water and forest resource needs of an aboriginal nation.
But the report’s fix is far from largely on the 80 nations-to-be. Many recommendations deal with requiring more chances for aboriginal people in the Canadian economy, especially in broadcasting, journalism, education, sport and cultural activity. There would be a wide diversity of investigations into any past and present manifestations of mistreatment — for example, of Indian war veterans and of the long century of Indian children who attended residential schools run by churches until about three decades ago.
There are repeated mentions in the report without particulars that much of the colossal funding needed for aboriginal support would or should come through the corporate revenues and taxation receipts of the industries which exploited and still exploit extensively the forest, mineral and water resources of lands once the domain of aboriginal bands and tribes and to which they still have inherent rights.
Before the report came out I estimated not more than 1,000 people would ever read the entire text. After wrestling through it I think that’s an overestimate, which is too bad because to read the report is to disbelieve in its recommendations.
The more you appraise it the more you recognize the fantasy based on romantic fallacies. And most of the natives themselves will twig to this. If they were to vote on the future outlined in the report I wager it would be rejected, much as natives rebuffed the Charlottetown accord.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, December 04, 1996
ID: 12458342
TAG: 199612030064
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

BLOC AND REFORM SLIP-SLIDIN’ AWAY

Usually a Parliament into its last lap is a harder venue for a governing party than its opposition rivals. Not this one. The official opposition has bumped out its leader and waits till March for a successor. The second opposition party is already set to lose by retirement a half-dozen of its abler MPs.
It now seems impossible the Reform Party could attain a majority of MPs and power in the next election. The Bloc, its promise limited to Quebec, will need some fresh magic of a new leader to hold its half-hundred seats, and another Lucien Bouchard is not in sight.
The consensus view is for another Jean Chretien mandate, given the limitations of the Liberals’ chief rivals. The only hesitations are slight ones. There might be some fresh explosion of dissatisfaction in Quebec with the Liberal leader, for long no hero there. The Quebec premier is clever enough to cause troubles that could reverberate beyond Quebec and become a boon to a leader who seems out of things – Jean Charest.
The Tories will surely regain some seats. There may be astonishingly more, notably in the Atlantic provinces, Quebec, and Ontario. A goodly Tory recovery, complemented by an NDP recapture of a score of seats in the West, and there might even be a minority House (with Chretien still prime minister). While most improbable, it’s not impossible.
It may not seem a dilemma for a party based only in Quebec to have a leader whose usage of English is weak. Of course, Michel Gauthier speaks often in the House, always in French. He usually leads in question period, prepared by the substantial resources in the official Opposition apparatus. Despite such preparation and an aggressive delivery of remarks that are rarely foolish, Gauthier has not been an arresting or interesting performer.
It became stock press gallery wisdom after John Crosbie’s troubles in a Tory leadership race that an aspirant for the highest office must have some competence in French to go with his or her English. No one’s thought much of it going both ways, although it was clear back in the mid-1960s that Jean Marchand, not Pierre Trudeau, was the obvious alternative to Mike Pearson as prime minister. But Marchand was not only weak in English, he had an inferiority complex about it, and backed away from what was there for him.
NO FEEL FOR ENGLISH
Gauthier hasn’t even a colloquial feel for English vernacular, as Bouchard has so tellingly. The Bloc has several MPs who are effective in English – Gilles Duceppe, Pauline Venne, and Yvan Loubier, an economist. The first two can be both belligerent and clever, and Loubier, though academic, seems astute on policies. Duceppe seems resolute, even bossy, and that may explain why the BQ MPs preferred the more pleasant and less devious Gauthier – particularly after Bouchard, who closely directed and supervised his caucus.
Gauthier attained no obvious standing, good or bad, in English Canada, from the Hill outwards. His forced persistence with French, in the House and during almost every scrum, cut his effectiveness enormously.
After all, if a separatist is to make full impact in politics, in particular in the key federal forum, much of it must come from catching the attention and the worries of his franco fellows. They must feel that here is one who gets the message through to the anglos. Bilingualism in federal Canada is still a delicate reed, particularly among the anglos. The best spokespersons for the separatist cause have never been unilingual but those with authority in both languages like Rene Levesque, Jacques Parizeau and Bouchard.
Gauthier probably wasn’t as parochial as he seemed, or really indifferent to social and economic issues that have common threads in most provinces, but in the House or on its aprons he won little attention. I judge from following reports by French language reporters on the Hill that Gauthier has had a smidgin of the interest and favor they had for Bouchard. Also, the liveliness and range of Bloc MPs in both the House and a score or so of its committees seemed to slip after Bouchard left a year ago. The near win for separatism in the referendum seemed a boost for the Bloc’s main intentions, but Gauthier didn’t profit it from it.
Gauthier may have been a cipher, but polling in Quebec shows the BQ still has as high or higher a hardcore vote as Chretien’s Liberals. That’s a better omen for the BQ than the pollsters’ scenarios in the rest of Canada for Preston Manning and Reform. Manning has had a longer, better chance to gain favor in Parliament and out of it than Gauthier – but with very little profit.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, December 01, 1996
ID: 12457720
TAG: 199611290105
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C7
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

WHO ARE THE PILLARS OF CHRETIEN CABINET?//PAUL MARTIN, ESPECIALLY, MUST WATCH OUT FOR ARROGANCE, THAT OLD LIBERAL CURSE

How much backup has Jean Chretien on his bench?
In mid-week, federal voters as TV viewers had good chances to appraise the PM’s top cabinet quartet: Paul Martin, Jr.(finance), Pierre Pettigrew (human resources), Stephane Dion (inter- governmental relations) and Allan Rock (justice). Each was much in evidence, particularly on CBC-TV, handling argumentative questions from journalists. I was engaged and feel complimentary, in part because of the quartet’s diversity.
They did have one commonalty: each has more than routine ambition, personal or programmatic – as was clear about Chretien when first sighted 33 years ago.
Each minister spoke confidently, particularly an effulgent Martin in a fast-paced hour with Pamela Wallin (she was very ready!), and an enthusiastic but contained Pettigrew in both scrum and one-on-one scenarios as he interpreted a federal-provincial colloquy on child poverty.
Dion, essentially the minister of unity, that grand intangible of Canada, had the worst TV venue. How to portray the “distinct society” of Quebec while buffeted by interlocutor Clair Hoy and a fellow guest, Sun columnist William Johnson, on Newsworld’s Face Off. But Dion kept cool, trying to reason, not declaim, distracted but not distraught. He may not convince many anglos, but in person he won’t alienate them. The moot question is whether he can get more Quebecers to consider the federalist choice than the prime minister has been able to do.
The word “imperturbable” comes to mind when Rock is speaking without stridency, in the prose of the assured legalist. But he wants an improved society, not just an orderly one. Last week the justice minister was unruffled on several dicey topics. There were the new licensing details of the gun control legislation he has sponsored but not yet got into effect. There was the issue of getting the inquiry into blood supply to look at the cabinet records of previous governments.
An examining elocutionist would likely rate Rock as the best in the cabinet. Nevertheless, his future in the highest place is probably cribbed by his lawyering rationality. When he turns to use partisan tactics he’s efficient enough, but he seems to be slumming. As a minister of justice he reminds me of two very able predecessors, Louis St. Laurent and Davie Fulton.
Pettigrew may be emerging as an unheralded bonus for Chretien as it has become clearer that the bigger catch, Dion, may be too thoughtful and nice to rouse enthusiasm for national unity. There’s a stylish edge of mannered precision to Pettigrew. Despite an immediate image of sophisticated dilettantism he is very quick to see and skirt political traps, being frank more than evasive.
So far, in his first ministerial year, he reminds me of Pierre Trudeau in his first year – able to absorb and use complex briefings.
Martin is obviously cresting. This is far more than his own conceit, although he has much of that commodity. Such puffing is much more apparent in the House question period than in more intimate venues like the Wallin show.
Can you recall interviews with such staid or opaque finance ministers as Michael Wilson, Don Mazankowski, Edgar Benson and Mitchell Sharp? In contrast, Martin seemed disarmingly open yet succinct as he breezed answers back to his host’s sharp leads. She spoke plainly and understandably, whether in pinning him down on the GST hassle or the shaky future for the Canada Pension Plan or in doubting how close the son is to what his father was as a humane politician.
Recently I asked a former Liberal MP of real worth how judgmental he was of the Chretien cabinet. Of course, he was, but not obsessively so. He was neither very happy nor greatly frustrated. So far, the cabinet had got the first thing first – that is, restoring federalism’s financial integrity by reducing the deficit and interest rates.
I asked what might be frustrating to him as a long-time MP.
“Arrogance,” he said, “an old Liberal curse.” Too much high-handed partisanship, notably in the House. A few months ago he’d been moved to send a note to the PMO about it.
Had he given examples?
“Well, the most obvious one: (Sheila) Copps.”
I asked about Martin. Had he noticed his growing penchant for loud, gesturing put-downs on questioners, especially Reformers?
Ah, he’d noticed it, and the brief, sly grin on Martin’s gib as he sat down to roaring caucus applause. It wasn’t very intelligent. It’s not the stuff of either a trustable minister of finance or a future prime minister.
And so we got to recalling Martin, Sr., and considering him with Martin, Jr. The father, we thought, had jeopardized and probably ruined his chances to be prime minister by becoming so adroit, clever, sly and smooth “on his feet” that no one was sure what or which was the real Martin. He became a self-caricature, his own satire. He was passed over for Lester Pearson and then for Trudeau, neither nearly as complete a politician.
Paul Martin, Jr. might watch a reprise of his attractive performance with Wallin and follow it with video takes of his House extravagances in muscle, sound, and belligerence.
He might consider a comparison of one team game – hockey – with another – partisan politics. In hockey, it’s a debit and wasteful to cast a fine player as both the team’s policeman and it’s top schemer and scorer. Already, an obvious example, Eric Lindros, has spent more time out with injuries than Wayne Gretzky in a far longer career.
It is useful for an ambitious politician to show he or she can function in heavy, nasty going. But a politician with the ultimate aspiration should not replicate the rabidity of such as Copps and Douglas Young, useful though this has been for them.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, November 27, 1996
ID: 13054015
TAG: 199611260059
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

WWII POWS GROW OLDER AND ANGRIER

A diminishing fragment of Canadians in their 70s and 80s have an aim which won’t be helped much by Jean Chretien in his visit to Japan. They are people imprisoned by the Japanese in World War II. Most were in two regiments overrun in Hong Kong’s fall in December, 1941. The survivors want recompense for mistreatment – and its consequences.
Has Chretien the gall to raise their case with the Japanese prime minister? Not likely. He’s after more business from Japan.
Our leaders have tiptoed around Japanese issues since the late 1940s when they chose not to go after reparations for the sufferings of the PoWs or even for punishment of murderous Japanese guards.
Last week the House committee on foreign affairs began hearings on the issue with some veterans’ leaders, two of whom were determined, elderly ex-warriors: Cliff Chadderton, head of the vigorous War Amps Association, and former Air Commodore Len Birchall, “the hero of Ceylon.” Birchall saved the island by warning of an approaching enemy fleet before being shot down.
The veterans argued for a payment of $23,000 each to 850 men or their widows by Canada, then a demand by Canada to Japan for recompense. Their chances with the committee? The Grit majority on it will do what the PMO dictates – likely kind words, not cash!
For decades the case that redress was owed to the victims of Japanese brutality has been put in several forms but it took an angrier edge eight years ago when the Mulroney government made a grand apology and spent almost $400 million to indemnify the 23,000 Japanese and Japanese Canadians ordered away from the B.C. coast in the winter-spring of 1942, a season when Japan bestrode the Pacific and fear gripped the people of the West Coast.
The best reason for redress of the PoWs is in the records of their inhumane abuse; then the contrast of such horrors with how our authorities treated the Japanese ethnics who were forced (legally!) to move from the coast. A new book makes the contrasts explicit, and it does not skirt national sensitivities like the racism of both sides.
The viciousness on one site, the fair treatment on the other, are in Hell on Earth, subtitled Aging Faster, Dying Sooner: Canadian Prisoners of the Japanese in World War II. (McGraw-Hill Ryerson).
The author, the late Dave McIntosh. dedicated his last book to “Birch” (i.e., Len Birchall). Dave McIntosh was a hero of mine, less for his medals than a career as a tough, fair political reporter with Canadian Press.
NOT FOR WEAK STOMACHS
Dave fought a terminal disease to finish the book and then had trouble getting a publisher. Several feared his ungilded realism would rouse Japanese animosity. Well, the book is not for the weak of stomach. German PoW camps were no picnic but their death rates were eight times less than the camps of Nippon.
Hell on Earth is split between the POWs’ captivity and its aftermath and what happened to those of Japanese stock in Canada during and after the war. Although both groups worked up a file for redress, the PoWs have failed, so far, with theirs. McIntosh gives a straight narrative on the decision to expel the Japanese ethnics from the coast and the procedures set up to carry this out and to dispose of their properties.
McIntosh explodes a myth the 23,000 were interned and barred from free movement or employment. Not so! The prime deed was exile from the coast, not imprisonment. There was but one internment camp, that near Lake Superior for some 700 males who refused consent to the expulsion order. There is no evidence any of the 1942 diaspora died from thuggery or inadequate medical service.
McIntosh notes Pierre Trudeau as PM had rejected any redress and apology to the exiles, saying it was ridiculous for a later government to review, judge, and condemn the legal acts of a previous administration and Parliament. Brian Mulroney was more taken with the merits of multiculturalism.
McIntosh asks: “Why have successive Canadian governments … ignored, to the point of insult, the Hong Kong and other Pacific war veterans? Though our political conscience was ultimately pricked by the treament of the Japanese in Canada, it was never tormented by the far worse situation of the Canadians.”
He thinks the failure comes from the small and decreasing number of the PoWs, a band with “no voice from a single prominent champion. They were military losers in a far-off theatre.”
Ottawa’s dealings with the PoWs vis-vis those expelled from the B.C. coast in 1942 makes for national hypocrisy. Such, however, won’t much influence “Trader” Chretien. He won’t say squarely to the Japanese PM: “Please, do what’s right for a few of my people.”

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, November 24, 1996
ID: 13053676
TAG: 199611220123
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C5
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

RALLY ‘ROUND THE FLAG, BOYS …//SENDING CANADIAN TROOPS TO RESCUE STARVING REFUGEES IN CENTRAL AFRICA WAS A NICE DREAM, AND THE MEDIA FELL FOR IT. BUT IT’S TURNING INTO A DIPLOMATIC FIASCO

What media twaddle we have had on the government’s Central African rescue mission.
My colleague, Sean Durkan, was the first to note how the media pack swallowed whole the whopper thrown out about Jean Chretien’s heartfelt conversion through TV to global humanitarianism. It came after viewing the agonies of refugees and hearing of it from his nephew, Raymond Chretien, the UN’s special envoy for the crisis.
Let me examine further the media’s supporting role in what has become a diplomatic fiasco – although, fortunately, not a potential military disaster.
Much media analysis has been nothing more than government PR: jingoistic justifications for an ill-conceived, badly executed bolt onto the world stage. Hyperbole? Wait.
Columnist Andrew Coyne of Southam, sounding like a 1930s’ demagogue, described the mission as a living example of the moral purpose of nationhood … the nation is the medium, marshalling our sense of compassion and directing it through the appropriate instruments of relief. The nation that leads us outward, to wider and wider acts of allegiance, has a claim to moral standing … for nations, as individuals, must have a reason to live … Phew!
Gordon Barthos of the Toronto Star put the majority press corps opinion more in more prosaic terms: Canadians were disgusted to see powerful UN member nations, including the U.S., once again appear to be abandoning Africa. The PM’s announcement was a figurative white feather, used to browbeat internationalist shirkers like Bill Clinton and John Major into signing on.
Another take was offered by Southam’s Giles Gherson. Chretien’s offer of leadership had supercharged a Canadian foreign policy that ” … increasingly was losing its idealistic coherence. Jumping into the Central African quagmire makes terrific sense … unless the mission goes badly awry.”
For the Globe and Mail’s Jeffrey Simpson the PM’s decision was a brave one ” … in keeping with an honorable tradition.” He too predicted a political payoff – the Canadian public will applaud his decision, with the same caveat, as long as things do not go wrong.
If support for such a tradition is predicated on no sacrifice being required, can it really be called honorable?
The cheerleaders were too busy to wonder if Jean Chretien had done his homework. The PM’s justification was that more than a million lives are at stake. He was frustrated by seeing excuses instead of action. Events have shown neither he nor his nephew knew what was going on in Zaire when they committed 1,500 Canadian lives to the Central African cesspool.
Gherson acknowledged the announcement had a seat-of-the-pants feel to it, but this was only a little unsettling. Were it his son or daughter being dispatched so casually, he may have had a different reaction.
While the government scrambled to assemble some sort of a mission to justify last week’s grandstanding, media boosters continued to opine that it – and they – were right. Marcus Gee of the Globe: “Canada’s offer to lead … made good sense when Prime Minister Jean Chretien made it a week ago … by taking the lead as others fussed and fidgeted, Mr. Chretien acted in the best tradition of Canadian internationalism … We should all be proud.”
Nonsense. Canadians ought to be embarrassed and much concerned at the PM’s performance. And some in the Ottawa media might ask whether they haven’t developed a taste for PMO spoon feeding. (Imagine who floated the idea one or both the Chretiens would be in line for the Nobel peace prize.)
Fortunately, some asked hard questions. Howard French of the New York Times (reprinted in the Globe) noted that Zaire – unstable and ungovernable, bordering on eight other fragile states with their own tribal conflicts – threatens the security of the entire region. States near the heart of Africa are near collapse, and they have begun to shoot across each other’s borders. This could set off the whole region at any time.
Did the government or its media admirers appraise well the hazards thus posed? If our troops were caught in the middle, could they defend themselves or extricate themselves? No.
James Cooper of the University of Toronto (also in the Globe) noted that neither the UN nor Canada had provided a comprehensive engagement plan, a military command and control structure, or a meaningful exit strategy for the mission.
The peacekeepers would face the same Catch-22 that brought down the Somalia mission: limited to the protection of humanitarian aid convoys, the blue berets would again become the pawns in the game of food power politics. If their mission was extended to disarming rival factions, they would risk becoming combatants in someone else’s civil war.
In the 1960s the UN intervened in the same area. The result? Four years of war and 250 dead blue berets.
Was this part of the honorable tradition duly considered?
Happily, most refugees seem likely to receive aid without a large intervention force because the success of Zaire’s Tutsi rebels in defeating the camp-based Hutu militias has allowed many of the dispossessed to return to Rwanda. But the situation remains perilous. No one knows how to put the ethnic hatred back into the bottle.
In all this Canada has two self-inflicted wounds. She has damaged her international credibility with her go-it-alone stunt. Talk of the PM’s bravery is silly. Had the U.S. not come aboard, our troops weren’t going anywhere. We had no means to dispatch them or their equipment quickly to Zaire. Canadians may not recognize this, but those who count in the world will.
We also damaged our relationships with our allies, especially the Americans. How? By deliberately embarrassing them into sending troops where they did not wish to go. Their displeasure can be seen in the way the U.S. defence secretary hastily backed off from the offer of assistance when things began to change (with little apparent notice given to Ottawa). It can also be read in the restrictions imposed on their participation: airlift and logistical support only. No commitment to protect our troops; no promise to get them out at any cost if things went wrong.
Peacekeeping fans take note: if the U.S. isn’t there to back us up, do you really want to send our men and women in harm’s way? What might a current amusement at America’s comeuppance ultimately cost?
Talk about flying by the seat of your pants!

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, November 20, 1996
ID: 13053110
TAG: 199611190067
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

REPORT WON’T MAKE A RIPPLE

Watch what time, space, and duration is given to the final report of the royal commission on aboriginal peoples by network newscasts and the dailies after its release tomorrow.
My bet is the report will have a life span on front pages and newscasts of three, perhaps four, days and that fewer than 1,000 Canadians will ever read most of commission’s publications. By the new year the main critical themes will be just the latest items in the litany of ignored native grievances sung by such briefcase Indians as Ovide Mercredi and Elijah Harper – more proof of white indifference to native right and needs.
Why this short shrift for the most costly inquiry in our political history? For starters, there’s the reality that dollar costs of aboriginal programs now are second only to defence spending.
This huge aboriginal bill is a big factor in the cool restraint that greets the report. Most of the present spending goes for the half-million so-called “status” Indians. The commissioners will postulate even higher spending, both for the status Indians and their reserves, and for the other half-million people the commission considers to have rights as aboriginals.
There is also a general dearth of widespread compassion among Canadian taxpayers. Why there isn’t any generosity for cherished federal services like the CBC and VIA Rail or the long- promised national child care program.
The Indian industry and the spending which its welfare, health, and educational services trigger is a boon of sorts, in particular in the Laurentian Shield hinterlands where I come from, but it is not fancied by ministers like Paul Martin (finance) and John Manley (industry). Why? Because it isn’t viewed as vital to the Canadian economy’s growth but as an overhead charge on the whole society and its economy.
And though no Ottawa minister or mandarin will bring this up – aside from the auditor general in report after report – almost every native program, and in particular the accounts of most of the half-thousand Indian bands, have been marred by waste, unaccountable spending and pitiful “value for money.”
Until one has read and judged the inquiry’s report it is unfair to scorn its recommendations. Let me focus, instead, on two native matters which seem crucial to me and are closely linked: jobs for natives; and native children and youths, in particularly the several hundred thousand whose families belong to bands with reserves.
POOR CHANCES FOR JOBS
Bluntly put, most bands and reserves are located where there isn’t a thriving local economy and where the chances of such are poor. We must accept that there are now far too many natives in the bushlands to make a living out of fishing, trapping, rice-harvesting, and hunting. Mining enterprises are relatively few and randomly placed. Logging constitutes the most consistent enterprise in most of the hinterlands, but as yet there’ve been far more misses than hits in finding jobs for young natives in forestry and mining close to where they live in their bands.
But even if the big pulp and paper companies, sawmills and the major mines across Canada were to guarantee half their jobs in the hinterlands to natives would there be many takers?
Consider the problem of the Harris government in directing doctors to practice in the northern hinterland. Few young doctors want to live there. Cities are far more attractive. Well, anyone familiar with Indian youth has been observing a parallel situation. Increasingly they are drawn to cities and towns, particularly to big cities. And what interests them there? No, not sweet-grass burning, not chanting to drums, but all the entertainment and recreations of North American youth. To fracture the old song: “How you going to keep ’em down with the band, after they’ve got their Walkmans?”
There are few jobs on Indian reserves beyond its residents figuratively doing each others’ laundry. The youth find the day-to-day life, especially in winter, to be deadly boring.
Despite the briefcasers’ hymns to native self-government and Indians’ veneration of their elders’ wisdom or their own determination to recoup Indian culture and its languages and values, the young natives have been voting with their feet (or better, their plane and bus tickets). Although the young are rejecting the literal apartheid of the reserve, the royal commissioners would enhance reserve conditions with more funding, perpetuating the vast scatter of welfare-based enclaves, most without even fair economic or social prospects.
Surely the post-report prospect is not an end or even a substantial surcease of the twinned dominants in native affairs: grievances and guilts. And more official reluctance to up the spending ante!

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, November 17, 1996
ID: 13052762
TAG: 199611150113
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C7
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

RECENT BOOKS, SOME OF THEM RECOMMENDED

Books for review are in seasonal flood. I recommend the following, each of which is more or less “political.”
I most appreciated the first two, written by historians who live in our west, because of their wide overviews; the one on how we were in the 1950s and 1960s and its long-term significance, the other on the ill-realized dilemma of our military created because its essential function – to wage war – has been so overlaid by many other responsibilities.
BORN AT THE RIGHT TIME: A HISTORY OF THE BABY BOOM GENERATION, by Doug Owram, U of T Press; $35. Stuffed but not sunk by much data: demographic, cultural, social, educational, and economic about Canadians in the 1950s and 1960s. Whoosh! It was a boom, one that hasn’t yet petered out. An excellent book.
SIGNIFICANT INCIDENT: CANADA’S ARMY, THE AIRBORNE, AND THE MURDER IN SOMALIA, by David Bercuson; M&S; $30. This is a deceptively simple exposition of how federal governments mishandled and misshaped our armed services, in part in trying to adapt the military to Pearsonian ideals, and then by unifying the services to take advantage of Paul Hellyer’s assurances this meant a “much better bang for the buck.” Bercuson’s historical review sets up his prescription of a back to the basics reason for the armed forces, i.e., to be able to fight in defence or on attack.
SIR WILFRID LAURIER AND THE ROMANCE OF CANADA, by Laurier LaPierre; Stoddart; $35. Long ago the author as a TV compere on the CBC demonstrated an emotional, idealistic temperament and, good or ill, depending on your taste, this temperament permeates the admiring and always kind recounting of the prime minister whom historians usually pair with his great Tory predecessor, Sir John A. Macdonald, as our greatest nation-builders. The emphasis is consistently with Laurier as an individual with family and friends and colleagues and not much on political history during over three decades as the Liberal party’s leader.
YANKEE GO HOME: CANADIANS AND ANTI-AMERICANISM, by J.L. Granatstein, Harper Collins; $31. This, from our most prolific historian-as-author, is more pop journalism than scholarly history. It’s useful for understanding the pace of continentalism, especially in the politico-bureaucratic realm, but Granatstein’s light on tourism, entertainment and sporting interlocks as factors in the fading of our distinctiveness. He might have profited from Owram’s book on the boomers.
PORTRAITS FROM LIFE, by Heward Grafftey, Vehicule Press; $18 paperback. Easy-going and mildly critical, personal sketches of nine friends and relatives, including Pierre Trudeau, Conrad Black and Ralph Nader, by a former Tory MP from Quebec. Informative chapter on novelist Hugh MacLennan, plus unusual glimpses of the anglo side of PET and the youthful bents of Black in his pre-tycoon days.
RISK AND REDEMPTION, by Arthur Kent, Penguin Books; $32. Perhaps a third of the book is on Kent’s reportorial rise and his ranging assignments as a broadcast journalist; the rest is an intricate but clear tale of how his brief stardom for CBS ended with his dismissal, and how he won a full-size legal revenge from the network. He writes very well.
THE LONGING FOR HOMELAND IN CANADA AND QUEBEC, by Ray Conlogue, Mercury Press; $16.50 paperback. Conlogue, a Globe and Mail reporter, is determinedly intellectual in a style like the much-quoting John Ralston Saul. He is not so much pro-sovereignist as convinced that English Canada’s problem is a profound misunderstanding of Quebecois aspirations and needs, sustained by a very old heritage of bias and formidable ignorance. An antidote, if you want one, to Diane Francis.
MOSTLY VICTORIA, by Jock V. Andrew, published by author, 804-1061 Queen’s Blvd., Kitchener N2M 1C1; $5 paperback. I’ve cherished Jock ever since he defied publishing experience and organized efforts by federal agences to keep his first books out of stores, and by word of mouth they became massive best-sellers (e.g., Bilingualism Today, French Tomorrow). Only one chapter in this autobiographical romp through some unusual encounters as a navy officer is given to Andrew’s political views on how both compromising views and ignoring near treason by separatists have riven Canada and still seem sure to destroy its unity.
CANADA FROM AFAR: THE DAILY TELEGRAPH BOOK OF CANADIAN OBITUARIES, edited by David Twiston-Davies; Dundurn Press, paperback. I found this series of 90 or so recent obits of Canadians most entertaining and satisfying. I learned much I didn’t know about the lives remembered, for example of men with whom I was well-acquainted (e.g.,Eugene Forsey, the glorious national nitpicker; Northrop Frye, the literary polymath; Harry Ferns, the man rejected by Canada as a Red who closed life advising Margaret Thatcher; Harold Ballard, the crudest public figure of my generation; and Fred Tilston, VC, surely the kindest, most resolute, positive and honest veteran of World War II). This is the third recent book with and about Canadian obituaries, suggesting both remembrance and judgmentalism is simmering more strongly in papers and magazines. And about time, too, given the able models being provided by our growing Dictionary of National Biography.
FROM PROTEST TO POWER: PERSONAL REFLECTIONS ON A LIFE IN POLITICS, by Bob Rae, Penguin Books; $32. There’s a dodgy kind of grace in this sometimes candid, self-justification of a failed premier. Rae relates a favored and interesting childhood and youth, crystallizing in an Oxford education won through a Rhodes scholarship. For all his stiff criticism of the narrowness in many union leaders, Rae doesn’t make an overpowering case for his adventure with the “social contract” or it as a means of uniting the forces to master Ontario’s deficits and debt burdens. But readable!

KEYWORDS: BOOK REVIEW

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, November 13, 1996
ID: 13052201
TAG: 199611120079
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

WHO OWNS BARBARA FRUM?

It’s a tribute to her high place in Canadians’ memories that vehement debate is stirring over the politics of the late Barbara Frum (1937-1992), triggered by a new book, Barbara Frum: A Daughter’s Memoir, by Linda Frum.
Above all the book is a sad, sweet tale of a caring mother who was dealt a sorry health hand which she played resolutely to the end. And that’s the spine of this rather uncomplicated, mother-daughter-family story. After reading it, I was more respectful of Barbara Frum and the ranging effort she put into her journalism.
But vibrations have come from Barbara’s admirers, who charge Linda with identifying her mother’s political views too closely with those of her son, David, now almost the top pen of Canadian conservatism. An article by Naomi Klein in Elm Street magazine rejects any substantial, political rapport of substance between Barbara and David. He is a reactionary! She was a liberal and a feminist!
I had little to do with Frum in her salad years with CBC-TV’s The Journal or, before that, with CBC Radio’s As It Happens. But we had a hot exchange in 1978 that bears on the quarrel over her true politics and the political tilt of those programs.
She called one day to protest a reference to her in my Sun column. It stated she had revealed her party coloring as a capital-L Liberal. She said this was wrong and hurtful. It damaged her reputation for fairness and objectivity, and was untrue.
She didn’t threaten libel action, but if I didn’t retract the assertion about her she would pursue her grievance with my publisher. She was not a member of the Liberal party. I could have no proof that she was.
What was my evidence? In 1978 Pierre Trudeau called a swatch of October byelections. In Toronto-Eglinton a nominated Grit candidate had suddenly withdrawn. A crash campaign developed to draft Doris Anderson, famous then through her editorship at Chatelaine, as the replacement. She got it, only to lose to a Tory in the vote.
Barbara Frum had openly worked in orchestrating the Anderson draft and getting volunteers and funds, I had seen printed witness of her leadership and had it confirmed by a friend in Toronto. So after the byelections (which were a terrible debacle for the Grits) I wrote that at least the country had learned something: the political home of Barbara Frum. And it was no surprise. She was a Liberal.
FEMINIST NETWORKING
Wrong, said Barbara. She had merely been one colleague and feminist backing another, one who would be a great MP.
I argued. Didn’t raising money and workers for an aspiring Liberal candidate parcel her with the Liberal party? There had been PC and NDP candidates in Eglinton. What were they to read from her backing of a Liberal candidate?
Barbara said I was “splitting hairs.” If Doris Anderson were running for the NDP she’d have helped because of her exceptional qualities. What if Doris was running as a Tory? I knew, she said, how unlikely that was. Of course, I did. Family associations and Anderson’s “smarts” meant the Liberal party was her avenue to power.
Barbara said I was too deep in Ottawa’s mud to realize the huge value of Doris Anderson to Parliament. I assured her I would print her vouchsafe that she was not a large-L Liberal and her defence of her objectivity as a journalist. I said her dander surprised me somewhat because it was clear to a politically aware listener to As It Happens that she, as its main interrogator, did reveal she stood to the left-centre on Canada’s political spectrum. She interrupted to deny this. I insisted that her program, or Mark Starowicz’s program, was like most CBC commentary shows, biased by the very topics within politics which were chosen and by the consistent lines in inquiry or exposition on them. The viewpoint was either social democratic or lib-left minded, not neutral, not at the centre and far from the right.
This finished her patience, and later there was no reaction to my printed regret that I had named her a capital-L Liberal.
A few months before she died, Barabara Frum told her daughter she had told a reporter regarding her son’s views that “I regard myself as a ’50s’ small-l liberal.” Is Linda Frum unfair to her mother and the legacy of her journalism in suggesting that by the end she and her son were closer in political outlook, and that they both shared “bourgeois” values? It seems sensible, given that as we grow older most of us shift toward the conservative pole.
But the outrage of the Naomi Kleins underlines my argument there was a steady left-wing tilt in politics on CBC public affairs shows. So Barbara Frum swung toward the centre, persuaded by her clever son. Left, centre, or right, she was a good mother.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, November 10, 1996
ID: 13051858
TAG: 199611080057
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C7
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

EXTREMES … IN BOTH POLITICAL DIRECTIONS

EXTREME: adj. – furthest from the centre; in reference to views, opinions and those who hold them – not moderate, especially far to the left or right.
To Liberals, whose fondness for the centre is exceeded only by their appetite for office, there is no more pejorative word. Over the past two weeks they have repeatedly invoked the term to vilify their Reform Party and Bloc Quebecois opponents.
It began last week with a PMO memo to party faithful recommending liberal use of the “E” word in attacks on Reform. Borrowing from American Democrats, the Grit memo repeatedly drew comparisons between Reformers and U.S. extremists like Republican House Majority Leader Newt Gingrich. The implication was clear: Reformers are, well, less than Canadian.
Reform’s protests of smear and demands for a prime ministerial apology met with derision. The PM cheerfully repeated the assertions, ignoring the opposition’s other charge – that “Mr. Integrity” had used taxpayers’ money to prepare and disseminate Liberal party material.
Jean Chretien also used the Big E in responding to the Bloc’s attacks regarding the revelation that his recently appointed Quebec lieutenant-governor had briefly sported a swastika and marched in an anti-Semitic protest during World War II. He argued Jean-Louis Roux’s attitudes were not uncommon back then in Quebec, and his actions should be seen as youthful indiscretions given that fascism’s true nature was only revealed at war’s end.
No, it was the sovereignists who sheltered the real extremists. Pequistes like Camille Laurin committed similar sins 10 years after the war, and as such could not be forgiven. Yet the sovereignists refuse to disown such men.
The quick departure of Roux, despite a distinguished career in the arts and decades of good works, the PM’s willingness to tag his opponents with the extreme (right-wing) label and the continuing efforts to prosecute war criminals all show how potent revulsion toward the extreme right remains. The maxim “never again” retains its power.
Communism, the other great ideological cancer to plague human affairs this century, has failed to generate anything like the same disapprobation here or in most other western nations. Yet communists have murdered, tortured, imprisoned or otherwise denied basic human rights to far more unfortunates than Franco, Mussolini, Hitler and Pinochet combined.
The wreckage wrought by the extreme left on the environment, economies and social fabric of the countries they have governed is clearly visible in Eastern Europe while fascism’s travesties are far removed from most living today.
Finally, while none of the world’s many despicable regimes today justifies its actions with fascist cant, a number still cite Marx and Lenin.
Why has left-wing extremism enjoyed such sympathetic treatment?
Some claim it is because communism was not and is not inherently evil. Rather its marvellous ideals have been betrayed by those eager to use their appeal to seize power.
But the implication that Canadians and others living in liberal democracies accept the morality of a dictatorship of the proletariat, class warfare or worldwide revolution (ie. war) – all intrinsic to the faith, all likely to lead to mass death – seems farfetched.
Do we really believe all Marxist regimes became tyrannies by accident?
Others point to fascism’s (or rather Nazism’s) targeting of specific ethnic groups for murder as the reason for the right’s special censure. Stalin and Mao were less discriminating (though more profligate). The implication that the deaths of tens of millions at the hands of the latter are somehow lesser crimes than those perpetrated by Hitler is surely offensive to most.
That such excuses are even offered says much, for they aren’t really presented to get the former rulers of Eastern Europe (and the tyrants in China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba and Laos) off the hook. No, they are intended to justify those in western countries who became so enamored of Marxist dogma that they chose to either look the other way, or to rationalize away the obvious crimes made in its name.
It is just as offensive to claim the true colors of the Soviet state weren’t apparent early on as it is to argue there wasn’t enough evidence by 1940 to understand the monstrous nature of Nazi Germany. In both cases some chose to avert their gaze. They still do.
What are the real explanations for the difference in treatment of those who dabbled in the two political extremes?
One is the lingering affection on the part of many former left-wing radicals for the ideas and the sense of mission they offered. Hence, the recent Globe and Mail piece which detailed the fond reminiscences of 1960s McGill grads about their own innocent youthful associations with radical left-wing groups.
The second is simple numbers. The extreme left enjoyed far more support in Canada over a much longer period of time than the extreme right. Today, many of the former are prominent in government, politics, the media, academia, even business. Dismissing the horrible legacy of their former credo not only relieves the conscience, it is protective and self-serving. No apologies and embarrassed resignations for them. This is made easier by the fact there aren’t many memorials to the victims of Stalin, Lenin, Mao or Ho.
As for Chretien’s casual use of the word “extreme,” he’s old enough to know better. This particular adjective deserves more care and respect.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, November 06, 1996
ID: 13051382
TAG: 199611050127
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

PARLIAMENT’S `NOBODIES’

The topic for today is very familiar to me because I was an MP once upon a time. It is the abysmal rating of members of Parliament, both past and present, by many citizens. The unreadiness to respect MPs is pervasive. Beyond Parliament Hill they are even less than “nobodies” – the tag Pierre Trudeau gave them in the 1970s.
Two productions, neither an obvious complement of the other, brought me again to this perceived uselessness of MPs.
First there is Double Vision, the newest “inside Ottawa” book, written by reporters Ed Greenspon and Tony Wilson-Smith; then there is a recent CBC-TV documentary, The Invisible Tattoo, dealing with the vivid retrospects and dour prospects of three recent MPs.
The phrase “invisible tattoo” was coined by Barry Turner, a one-term Tory MP who now heads the Canadian association of former parliamentarians. He spoke at length, and tellingly, about post-parliamentary rebuffs. So did John Brewin, a former NDP MP, and Mary Collins, a former Tory MP and cabinet minister. They weren’t whining or seeking sympathy but stressing what ought to be a major concern about our political system – the disregard for MPs and their roles.
Rather like the mark of Cain, there is a figurative tattoo on former MPs’ brows which makes people wary and distant or ready to scorn and deflate them. Most employers steer clear of ex-MPs, discounting the worth of their experience. Most former MPs find it hard to get work. Old stereotypes are still heard. Government MPs are “trained seals,” opposition MPs are loudmouths. Everybody seems to know that an MP has a highly-perked sinecure.
This televised lament for the lamentable doesn’t recommend legislative or procedural reform and it leaves a viewer wondering why anyone would want to be an MP or stay as one.
To further such a view, Double Vision, subtitled “The inside story of the Liberals in power” illustrates the zilch status of all but a few leading MPs. How so? In it MPs are in the distant background. They do not figure in the signficant episodes of Jean Chretien’s government. The authors keep their knowing, high-detail focus on Chretien, his PMO crew, a few deputy-ministers, pollsters and economists and, most notably, on two of his ministers, the rising Paul Martin and the fading Lloyd Axworthy and the contentions which they represented within the core of power.
RACY AND ENTERTAINING
Double Vision is racy, entertaining and believable. Its credibility was recognized when a proud crowd of inner circle people came for its launch to commend the authors (and to be seen). It’s not the authors’ doing that many readers may ask afterwards: Is this all there is governing federal Canada? Are these less-than-brilliant manipulators and egotists the ones to save Canada and reshape her progress?
The discussions and arguments of significance within the Chretien government that precede decisions are delineated in detail with enough vivid anecdotes to be credible. Nowhere in such accounts do ordinary MPs – the six score or more Liberal infantry – figure seriously. Why should they?
After election night determined Chretien was handily the prime minister, most MPs became unimportant except as applauding loyalists. Most of the ministers named had been backers and pals of the PM or recruited by him. The loyalty of all MPs was cemented by tough discipline used on “loose cannons” by Chretien’s top handlers.
To be fair, one must emphasize the irrelevance of plain Liberal MPs to either decision-making and governance or to analysis and review of value for money has not been unique. Every majority government since Trudeau swept in to power in 1968 has functioned as though most MPs should be seen and not heard – except in applauding the leader or jeering the opposition. However, unlike Brian Mulroney, Chretien has bothered far less to entertain his backbenchers and keep in touch personally. If the Liberal backbench is apathetic, most opposition MPs know question period is a stagy farce and most of their work in committees is futile or ineffective.
Of course, in a minority Parliament, each MP’s vote is prized. Usually there is catering to some opposition MPs, as in the 1972-74 House with David Lewis and his NDP caucus. Unfortunately for the vitality of Parliament and genuine input by most MPs, minority Houses are not common and electors cannot deliberately choose one.
Already there are indications many MPs will not try for a return; the wonder is there won’t be more withdrawals, given a parliamentary arrangement dominated by party leaders and a government process that is secretive and run by so few.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, November 03, 1996
ID: 13051028
TAG: 199611010123
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C5
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

CHAREST BIDES HIS TIME//TORY LEADER IS THE NEXT CAMPAIGN’S X FACTOR

One notable MP, Jean Charest, is rarely heard or seen on Parliament Hill. It’s my hunch he will get a lot of attention in 1997 as the leader of a resurgent Tory Party.
Charest has made scant fuss in or out of the chamber over his rare chances to ask questions or make statements, in contrast to several NDP MPs. Nor has he been querulous because the media pack passes by. He does little trolling for cameras and mikes even though he has charm, speaks well and knows much. So what’s up? Why’s this shrewd man ignoring the House and the Hill as platforms?
The Tory leader is waiting for his time, and it will begin with a bang when Jean Chretien calls the election. Meantime, the PM and Preston Manning are already electioneering, particularly the PM.
In my recall of prime ministers, only Pierre Trudeau during the minority Parliament of 1972-74, was as often and boastingly seen and heard as Chretien this fall. Even Paul Martin, seemingly the one star of this government, has had smidgins of notice compared to his leader. And oh, how the PM savors the limelight! He’s well over the shock of a year ago, dealt him by Quebec sovereignists. He’s here, there, everywhere. The pitch of his partisan gears rises higher and higher, in particular with ridicule of the Reform Party, his major butt of his scorn in a seeming cruise to another mandate.
Long ago, in the domination of American evenings by TV, there was talk of “an Arthur Godfrey syndrome,” then of a “Milton Berle syndrome,” referring to the fade-away of an inordinate popularity. Performers seen so much that each became his own satire. That, I think, is how Charest is reading Chretien.
Why strain now to tilt with the PM? Wait till the writs are out. Let him wear his profile flat; let his gestures, phrasing, humor – and the Red Book – become a bore.
Meanwhile, Charest works on a full slate of candidacies and plans a brisk five-week campaign. He will vault to major notice through TV and radio pitches. Polling shows a loyal core of PC voters in most provinces to give him credibility. He will be the fresh, unbattered choice in person and presentation, a contrast to the feuding Chretien and Manning. By the night of the big TV confrontation Charest should be the X factor of the race.

The immigration plan for 1997 has been unveiled by minister Lucienne Robillard. The goal set has a high of just over 200,000, a third less than the Red Book heralded. She explained the lower figure by citing the antagonism of so many Canadians to immigration. The truth is such hostility has been alive for years – as polling always shows.
The core concerns in the immigration story are not about jobs put in jeopardy or even about total numbers. Far more, it’s about where a rising bulk of the immigrants are coming from (Asia) and are going to (i.e., Toronto and B.C.’s Lower Mainland). For example, for 1994 and 1995, the six top source countries were Asian. Over the past four years only about a fifth of the immigrants have been white. The ranking by color category now has yellow and brown people well ahead of whites and blacks.
Canada’s multiculturalism is becoming very visible and very concentrated, and so it is less treasured and more feared.

In the last cabinet shuffle Don Boudria, a most assiduous MP and the Liberal whip, was made a minister, and his replacement was a surprise to many. He is Bob Kilger, 52, the MP for Stormont-Dundas since 1988 and a former NHL referee. In this House he has served as an assistant deputy chairman – that is, as the No. 3 Speaker. He has been so neatly and competently in charge some of us saw him as a future Speaker of the House, defter and more succinct than most.
Kilger should be an effective whip for a caucus well subdued by Chretien’s disciplinarians. But no role, not even the leader’s, is more partisan than that of government whip. Doing it will likely damn Kilger from being voted in as Speaker in the next House. (He has a safe seat!) He’d be a fine choice.

Albina Guarnieri, the Liberal MP for Mississauga East, describes her bill, C-121, as legislation “to end volume discounts for rapists and murderers.” She’s been trying to get it on the House order paper for debate. The bill has two features: 1) the mandatory portion of the sentence for each person convicted of a second murder must be served consecutively before there is parole eligibility; 2) the imposition of consecutive, not concurrent, sentences for offences arising from the same events.
Guarnieri’s intentions have been heightened by some merciless assaults in her region by repeat offenders. She insists “It’s time for criminals to do their time.”
Yes! But will she get her bill past her Liberal peers and up for debate or get the bill’s purposes adopted by Allan Rock, the justice minister?

John Bryden, MP for Hamilton-Wentworth, is one of a few, determined self-starters on the Liberal backbench. I wish thousands of citizens would write him at the House for his latest analysis of 81 pages on charitable donations. It’s titled Canada’s Charities: A Need for Reform.
Few realize there are almost 140,000 registered charities and non-profit organizations. As Bryden puts it: “Revenue Canada only has 66 employees to oversee a sector of the economy worth at least $100 billion.”
He has supplemented his report with another booklet of “selected documents.” These show how often donors are sustaining those who work for charities more than those who are in need. The subject is dicey for politicians. Many charities are figurative sacred cows, but this one MP has shown many charities and non-profit organizations are of dubious integrity.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, October 30, 1996
ID: 13050440
TAG: 199610290057
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

LABOR TALKS BIG, BUT SAYS LITTLE

Despite contrary conclusions by antagonists of the left and the right there was neither victory nor a devastating rebuff in the Days of Action last Friday and Saturday in Toronto. Did something as mighty as a political “movement” crystallize? Very doubtful!
Did bad behavior and mass inconvenience scotch substantial public sympathy and backing? Also doubtful, but likelier than the beginning of the end for Premier Mike Harris.
Credit or blame for such equivocation about this two-day Torontofest must go to the sane roles played by most protesters. They were not inflamed by the generally neutral responses to their antics by most of those whose time and actions were screwed by picketing and TTC shutdowns.
The indifference of so many of Metro’s millions, taken with the restraint shown by police and politicians, mirrors a quite equable public opinion. Given the media fanfare before and through the protests, given almost four million people within handy driving range of Toronto, the turnout for the big parade was modest.
Clearly, a substantial consensus against Harris cutbacks in spending and programs has not developed. And one sees this replicated in Jean Chretien’s Ottawa. His rigorous frugality in spending cuts and federal job losses predated what Harris has under way. Opinion polling and the media crowd still loath to doubt the PM’s popularity suggest to me that far beyond Ontario most citizens still favor frugality over larger deficits and debt load.
What I was seeking from those who spoke on TV and radio for the protesters (mostly very articulate women) was what they had to say, if anything, on how we as a community and they as a political movement must deal with the core reason for the premier’s Common Sense Revolution. I refer to his imperative that Ontario government reduce both spending and program reach.
Did you hear or observe any of the protest’s leaders say anything about this deficit-debt crisis or how they would deal with it? No! They never referred to any such crisis, and yet if they have their way government spending will rise again.
None of the protesters even referred to the solution some of them threw at Bob Rae when he was premier: tax the rich; get more revenue from the big corporations.
Why this evasion of the blunt, even brutal, reasons why cutbacks are a common thread in governance at all levels across the country? After all, the crisis Harris is facing is the same crisis Rae, recently of the party once favored by the protest’s planners, tried to meet with his “social contract” – which most of them rejected.
GRITS FACE SAME CRISIS
There is the same crisis federally. The Chretien Liberals have been meeting it through two budgets by Paul Martin. In Quebec, Lucien Bouchard is belatedly struggling with the crisis. Ottawa and Quebec have slashed spending and the reach of many programs in health, welfare and culture. And Ottawa’s Liberals have also pushed on with some Brian Mulroney initiatives like privatizing Crown companies and a lot of departmental operations, notably in transport.
Rae has just published “his personal reflections on a life in politics” (From Protest to Power, Viking Press). He has much to say about his failure to win broad backing from public service union leaders for his efforts to cut spending and restore Ontario’s financial credibility. Many of the leaders who sponsored the Days of Action figure in his account. They refused to accept that organized frugality in government had become an imperative.
There is more than a little petulance and a grudging concession by Rae that in failing to carry the union leaders he hadn’t had “the patience to persuade, to cajole, to butter up, and jolly along.” But last week’s happenings make it obvious the leaders of the unions and the interest groups focused on government spending programs do not have any clear policy on balancing budgets and getting at the debt load. It is as though that crisis doesn’t exist or doesn’t matter to them. They should ponder the similarities in reduced spending and in narrower or abandoned programs of both the Liberal government in Ottawa and the Tory government in Ontario. Both governments seem popular, despite such deeds.
There’s a real conundrum for those on the left side of partisan ideology. If the “social contract” is rejected as a way ahead, what do they advocate as a sensible policy for dealing with the deficit-debt crisis when they are also demanding more spending, legislated “social responsibility” for corporations, and more welfare for the needy? We don’t know.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, October 27, 1996
ID: 13111316
TAG: 199610250092
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C4
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

ROTTEN TO THE CORPS//A DAMNING INDICTMENT OF CANADA’S MILITARY BRASS AND THEIR CIVILIAN MASTERS

An old refrain of mine is that Ottawa’s disasters often have less to do with the failings of politicians than with the cockups of the more permanent rulers – the bureaucrats!
If you would understand the bureaucratic mindset behind many an Ottawa mess, go to the new book, Tarnished Brass: Crime and Corruption in the Canadian Military, written by Scott Taylor and Brian Nolan. Taylor is publisher of the magazine Esprit de Corps, Nolan is author of several works on military history. Although their subject is the malaise afflicting Canada’s present military, the shenanigans they uncover differ only in degree from what has gone on elsewhere.
So far media interest in the book has focused on abuses by those in positions of power and privilege, especially the generals. The venality exposed is astonishing. Funds to improve the lot of servicemen and women living on bases were diverted so one general could purchase a VCR and furniture, and others could puff their already substantial incomes ($100,000-plus).
Personnel and equipment were appropriated to repair private vehicles, and to establish a private luxury fishing lodge, complete with helicopters to fly the day’s catch into town for quick freezing, all so our generals could entertain their visiting American counterparts.
The military’s top man for most of the period examined, Gen. John de Chastelain, is savaged. The example he set epitomizes what is wrong with the officer corps according to Taylor and Nolan. While his troops in Bosnia exchanged helmets and flak vests with their replacements because the cash-strapped army didn’t have enough to go around, Prince John was busy invoicing the department for his housecleaning. He is also accused of using his position to get his 27-year-old son, fresh out of law school, appointed to the board of the defence department-funded Pearson Peacekeeping Centre (fellow board members include former defence and foreign ministers.) Here and elsewhere the book displays a nasty, personal tone that undercuts its message. But the sheer volume of evidence leaves little doubt that, whatever the authors’ biases, the rot in the general officer corps runs deep.
More intriguing to me, however, is the analysis of DND’s civilian side. Greed, abuse of power, and breach of trust were not limited to the brass hats. While Gen. de Chastelain is portrayed as a self-serving careerist who ultimately ceded his authority to the bureaucrats in turn for an easy ride, Deputy Defence Minister Robert Fowler is painted as a clever, Machiavellian schemer who managed to centralize power in his own hands (undercutting both military and ministerial authority) while so blurring the lines of responsibility that he couldn’t be held accountable when things went wrong.
Fowler, scion of a well-connected Liberal family, was one of the mandarinate’s highest flyers. Like many civilians at defence, he was a product of external affairs, the self-styled Eton for the federal mandarinate. Though he wrought exceptional damage at defence, his modus operandi should be familiar to those who have dealt with our largely private masters. He expertly dispersed decision-making, rendering accountability meaningless, but by placing his creatures in key positions, he retained effective control. Few generals had the nerve to stand up to him, and those who did lost.
The senior mandarins’ opportunities to enrich themselves or live high were limited but where there’s a will there’s a way. Renovations to Fowler’s office cost $387,000. He and other senior civilians took trips of dubious value, and filed questionable expense claims – old, old Ottawa pastimes. But the costs of Fowler’s “leadership” are best discovered in the areas of project mismanagement and the bloating of the senior civilian staff.
Consider the botched purchase of EH 101 helicopters – $627 million for, as the book puts it, not so much as a quart of oil. While the politicians (both Tory and Grit) are usually blamed for this one, Taylor and Nolan point out that the program, like many others, was mishandled from the start.
While Canada’s huge surplus of generals is widely known, the ranks of DND’s senior civilian management are even more bloated. The generals’ equally high-priced civilian counterparts outnumber them by a ratio of 3:2, yet they manage a civilian staff a fraction of the size of the uniformed military.
If you think drawing parallels between the defence department and the rest of Ottawa is unfair, consider: a few years ago external affairs called in the RCMP to investigate massive travel fraud by employees.
So widespread was the corruption (it included senior officials – secretaries don’t fly much) a prosecution of those involved was deemed a threat to the department’s morale and ability to function. So the miscreants were allowed to pay back the money – no further action was taken. This is the same treatment meted out to generals caught out publicly.
The “tarnish” in defence goes beyond the brass to the deputy minister level and down through the plethora of associate and assistant deputies, and the directors general.
I hope newly appointed Defence Minister Doug Young reads his copy of Tarnished Brass.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, October 23, 1996
ID: 13110811
TAG: 199610220142
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

MEDIA HOUNDS TURN ON CHRETIEN

Connoisseurs of media and politics should be sensing a transition from soft to hard judgments of Jean Chretien and his government. The rash of stories on “pork,” “spins,” and “reality checks” in recent weeks is too obvious to miss.
The first, strong signals of the transition became apparent in an almost consensus press view not to accept as true the alleged reasons for David Collenette’s resignation. Since then skepticism has become derisive, suggesting to me that through to the next election day the reigning Liberals are no longer to go relatively uncriticized as in the past three years.
Of course, connoisseurs noted that despite the mean turn in explanations of Liberal conduct, no one journalist foresees electoral defeat for the Chretien crew. We are sure the Liberals will cruise to an easy victory. The only eventuality beyond a heart attack that would have a chance to keep Jean Chretien from being our prime minister into the 21st century would be a triumph by the Parti Quebecois in a provincial election or the next referendum on separation. Neither has much chance of happening before a federal election.
The federal vote seems from seven to 11 months away. What may a rough media treatment through those months do to undermine a seemingly certain Grit victory? Surely there will be a slow slide by Chretien from overwhelming favor as he is repeatedly depicted as an over-simplifier of both his own worth and his government’s achievements.
Last week CBC-TV News had Neil MacDonald present some close critiques of some Chretien assertions – “reality checks.” When the CBC first used the “reality check” device several years ago it took on an august tone of piety through the lugubriosity of Brian Stewart, the presenter. MacDonald’s delivery is more brusque and tight, less judgmental but more effective on a basis of “these are the facts.” After MacDonald’s curt but explicit exegesis of Chretien’s chats with street people or his figures on mortgage savings what viewer can miss that we have a glib leader who “flannels” much of the time. How juvenile and debunkable Chretien seems. So much it makes you wonder why his handlers loosed him on the campaign trail so far ahead of time that he creates himself as a worse enemy than Preston Manning or Jean Charest.
MASTER PORK-BARRELLERS
Last week I counted at least 10 different stories on TV news and in the major dailies on the Liberal mastery of pork-barrelling. Although “Mulroney” became a euphemism for sleaze, it’s developing that his regime was amateurish at “pork” compared to Chretien’s. And many of these stories noted the close fit of Mulroneyism with such major Chretien purposes as free trade with the U.S., sticking with the GST, privatizing Crown corporations like the CNR and Air Canada and transport operations like air traffic control and airports, and being severe with the budget of such national monuments as the CBC.
Also last week, no sooner had Preston Manning issued the Reform Party’s platform than the PM and the Liberals were mocking it. But their jeers both publicized the platform and revealed how firmly they stand at the centre-right of the partisan spectrum, not centre-left. Tactically, it may have been shrewder to ignore the Reform packet rather than reveal how Tory-like the Liberals are in a funereal creep toward a balanced budget.
Why so? Well, one keeps getting tips from Liberal MPs in Ontario who worry more about defeat by Jean Charest’s Tory candidates than by Reformers. Whatever public or private polling may indicate, many candid Liberals fear a loss to Charest of up to 30 Ontario seats. Take 30 Grit MPs out of Ontario, say half a dozen out of the Atlantic provinces, and another half-dozen from Manitoba and Saskatchewan and the sure-fire majority is almost gone. It could be gone if the NDP come back with more B.C. seats and the Liberals fail to make inroads on the 50 or so seats held by the BQ in Quebec.
To those who will say this is all preposterous, I suggest caution. There are a lot of miles on this PM. Although his physical moves are as quick as ever, his analyses and arguments have become more ideosyncratic and vapid. And consider his cabinet. Although it has far the best talent in the Liberal ranks, the PM is set on bringing back David Collenette, a statuesque symbol of the pedestrian – of which the PM has much in lacklustre sub-chiefs like Sheila Copps, Sergio Marchi, Diane Marleau and John Manley.
In short, one should be careful about declaring the certainty of another Liberal majority government. Wait to see what months of harsh press does to the Chretien bloom.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, October 20, 1996
ID: 13110439
TAG: 199610180108
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C6
COLUMN: Backgrounder
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

ONE NATION … INDIVISIBLE?//THERE ARE SIGNS CHRETIEN’S LIBERALS MAY TAKE A TOUGH LINE ON QUEBEC

“Secession is defined as a break in solidarity among fellow citizens. That is why, in its wisdom, international law extends to peoples the right of self-determination in its extreme form, only in situations where a break in solidarity is evident, such as in cases of military occupation or colonial exploitation … Canada, a universal model of openness, tolerance and generosity, is the last country in the world where identity-based fragmentation should be allowed to triumph.” – Stephane Dion, Oct. 15, 1996.
This quote for my sermon on the partition of Quebec is taken from a speech made in the U.S. last week, by Unity Minister Dion, Prime Minister Jean Chretien’s fresh bellwether for Quebec in Canada. Come back to his statement after finishing my essay. You may agree something tougher is afoot in Chretien’s Ottawa.
The word “partition” has a taint in the English-speaking world that comes from history’s record of many unfortunate partitions and, most notably for us, from the sad history of Ireland.
“Partition” conjures up ugliness and frustration. The images in the word help explain why it has been used so little in our politics even though the potential for Canada’s partition has been the running sore of our country for decades because some Quebecers seek independence for their “state.”
“Partition” of both Canada and of Quebec is now out in the open for discussion, and it is less and less politically incorrect to use the word.
Consider some examples.
Last week an organization called Solidarity Outaouais tried and failed to get the municipality of Alymer, Que., a quite federalist town west of Hull, to approve a resolution favoring separation of the Outaouais region from Quebec if it chooses to separate from Canada. The council of Aylmer ducked the choice, not because its members were against the partitioning of Quebec. Why look for trouble? They know their town is at present a creature of a PQ government.
Also, over a year ago the organized Crees who make up a majority of those who dwell in the upper reaches of Quebec, gave notice they would use their aboriginal rights as justification for partitioning their region from Quebec if it should separate. They have also reminded everyone, including constitutional experts, that Quebec did not come into Confederation with its present land mass. Long after Confederation it acquired from Canada’s so-called Ungava territory two huge, contiguous areas to the north and west of the former New France, first along the Ontario border unto James Bay in 1898, and then in 1912 the rest of so-called Ungava. Therefore, there’s nothing sacrosanct to the Quebecois and their heritage in much of what they call “their” land.
Of course, the PQ disagrees with the Crees. Consider the grandeur in this statement, made in the PQ manifesto for the 1980 referendum, titled “Quebec-Canada: a New Deal.” Under the heading “Territory” it says:
“Quebec has an inalienable right, recognized even in the present Constitution, which states that the territory of a province cannot be modified without the consent of that province. In becoming sovereign, as is the rule in international law, will thus maintain its territorial integrity.”
To repeat, only very recently has such a sweeping (and historically unsound) generalization been challenged in Quebec. There are lively movements underway, led by anglophones and allophones on the West Island of Montreal and along the upper St. Lawrence contiguous to Ontario, which aim to part from the sovereign Quebec which Lucien Bouchard and the PQ intend to launch if they win the next referendum.
One must underline that partition begins with territory. As a geographer, A.F. Burghardt, wrote almost 30 years ago:
“French Canadian nationalism has been especially potent because it has been tied to a specific territory … Without the land, nationalistic activity remains amorphous and unanchored. Few people are able to sustain or communicate the fervor of a nationalist cause without it. Thus, every vital nationalism has two dimensions, culture and territory, and the latter serves just as much as the former as a bearer of the common heritage.”
The geographer went on to sketch a misfortune for francophone nationalism. Quebec’s cultural and areal dimensions do not coincide, notably in the north and along the upper St. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers. Now, after years of skirting around this disharmony, some federalists in Quebec have themselves become partitionists, and have dragged it into the open.
None of these movements which envisage partition of Quebec have had the grace and favor of this federal government or any of its predecessors back to 1967 or of the federal Liberal, Tory or New Democratic parties. They have emerged against the grain of the strategy and tactics for dealing with Quebecois separatists which became conventional wisdom three decades ago. No prime minister, from Pearson through Trudeau, Clark, Turner, Mulroney and Campbell to Chretien, was ready to be a Lincoln and proclaim an indivisible Canada.
This strategy of accepting Quebecers’ right to an unilateral self-determination was enunciated most clearly by Pierre Trudeau, who was prime minister at the time of the Quebec election of 1970 in which Rene Levesque and the PQ first made a major run. They were beaten by Robert Bourassa and company, but went from 0% to 23% of the vote.
Trudeau posited before the campaign that he accepted a majority vote for separation would sanction Quebec’s departure, and so Canada’s partition. He didn’t deny Quebec had the right to self-determination, but he was scornful. Of course, it wouldn’t happen. The separatists’ guileful talk of “sovereignty association” wouldn’t blind Quebecers to the worth of federalism. They could see Quebecers in the very top positions of power in Ottawa. Increasingly, they would appreciate the opportunities opening through federal programs of bilingualism and biculturalism. They would find Ottawa ready to negotiate changes in constitutional powers with all the provinces, ready to leave some fields where federal and provincial jurisdictions were shared or overlapped.
Not even opposition party leaders like Bob Stanfield or David Lewis or Ed Broadbent, or any academics of high repute, challenged this acceptance by the federalists in Parliament of the separatists’ assumption that Canada was divisible.
(I know this because as an MP I argued in a debate with Rene Levesque in 1962 that I and my constituents were entitled to share in the natural and social resources of Quebec – and vice-versa! He scoffed at this, and after the debate I was rebuked by many, including my NDP colleagues of the day, for my insistence that Canada was indivisible.)
So for over 30 years it has not been politically correct to talk openly about what Quebec’s departure would mean for the anglophones and allophones there, or for the severed Maritimers. And we have had frighteningly little open examination of how separation or sovereignty association would be framed and processed, not even on what roles would be played in it by other provincial governments. No one would talk of how a clear majority vote for separation would ruin the authenticity of a prime minister from Quebec such as Trudeau, or Mulroney, or Chretien.
My stress on the meagre resistance to the right of Quebec to self-determination, and the tacit acceptance that Canada was divisible, may seem unfair. After all, the stunning 23 points gained by the PQ in the 1970 vote in Quebec did galvanize what became a veritable constitutional industry, with conference after conference and documentation by the reams.
There was the Victoria Charter in 1971, agreed to tentatively by all the provinces but shortly rejected by Bourassa.
The PQ attained office in 1976 but it lost its first referendum (for “sovereignty association”) in 1980 by a good margin. Subsequently, Trudeau brought home the Constitution from the UK and worked the Charter of Rights into it. His government achieved such major constitutional changes over then-premier Levesque’s objections.
Soon Brian Mulroney as PM set out to end Quebecers’ dissatisfaction with the Constitution, opening the long drama over the Meech Lake accord. The accord was ultimately screwed up by premiers Frank McKenna, Gary Filmon and Clyde Wells.
After Meech, Mulroney, backed by all the premiers, tried again with a more complex and controversial deal – the Charlettetown accord – only to have it rejected in a national referendum, and not just in Quebec.
Then came the great, scary surprise a year ago. The PQ, invigorated by then-Bloc Quebecois leader Lucien Bouchard, just failed to win a majority for Quebec sovereignty. Since then, confusion and doubts have been rife across the land, as everyone knows another referendum is coming.
A few months ago Chretien marshalled resolutions through Parliament asserting Quebec’s distinctiveness and constitutional veto rights. These do not seem to have satisfied many Quebecers.
Even many Liberal MPs are confused about Ottawa’s so-called Plan A and Plan B. The first is the one which emphasizes renewal, reconciliation and compromise, whereas Plan B is intrinsically “tough love.” It may push the fact our Constitution is without provisions for partitioning the country. It may posit that a simple, unilateral declaration of independence after an affirmative referendum vote is not enough. First, there has to be certainty of a “clear” question. Voters must understand that an affirmative vote will be followed by long, intense negotiations, a bleak deal and cold future relations with the rest of Canada.
JUDICIAL INTERPRETATION
Understandably, this “plan” stuff has been tagged as a “carrot and club” strategy.
Through legal challenges mounted by a former separatist, Guy Bertrand, we are moving toward a judicial interpretation of whether Quebec by referendum can legally depart from Canada. And the Chretien government has sent several questions regarding self-determination to the Supreme Court for opinions. These questions don’t contradict the right of self-determination, but seek guidance on rules and process.
Some months ago a Liberal MP told me that Douglas Young, an Acadian from New Brunswick, now minister of defence, had startled a regular caucus gathering by standing up and impatiently demanding, “What about Plan B?”
As a minister, Young has gained a fearsome and resolute reputation. Last winter he spoke at length about the unity issue to E. Kaye Fulton and Mary Janigan, veteran Maclean’s reporters. What he told them, when taken along with Dion’s remarks in Washington last week, suggests to me that Plan B is going to be a stark one, and very much in line with the emerging movements in Quebec which would partition it if a majority of Quebecers vote to partition Canada.
Young told the reporters he had been analyzing the separatists’ propositions closely for weeks and had reached some firm conclusions.
“Am I supposed to take Valium because somebody in Quebec is going to be upset because I’m talking about the reality that if they make Canada divisible, then Quebec becomes divisible?” he said. “If Canada is divisible, then Quebec is divisible, so why bother going through the exercise when you see what you’re going to have left?”
Q. “So we declare that Quebec itself is divisible.”
A. “No, we don’t declare anything. This is not something you go to the House of Commons and pass a law. You simply take the position … Nobody has been prepared to go to the core of it and say, look this is not an academic debate between two political scientists. This is about the future of the country and you have to fight. And you have to say what has to be said.”
Clearly, Young believes dividing Canada means dividing Quebec. Therefore, his government has “to set the very strong position that Canada is indivisible” despite the fact two referendums have gone by with Quebecers assuming Canada was divisible.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, October 16, 1996
ID: 13109931
TAG: 199610150161
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

A REPORTER WITH GUTS & INSTINCTS

One would be less tempted by an anecdote in a new book if Jean Chretien patted himself on the back less often for his government’s high ethical quality – so much more moral than the preceding government.
The book is by Victor Malarek, a reporter with the CBC’s 5th Estate, and before that with the Globe & Mail. The title is Gut Instinct; The Making of an Investigative Journalist (Macmillan Canada; 271 pages). It’s a lively run through some dozen major assignments. Malarek is a hound for facts. A chapter titled “Nightmare on Bay St.” is about the difficulties of Lang Michener, “an august Bay street law firm in Toronto” after it took in Martin Pilzmaker, a McGill-schooled lawyer who’d been busy in lucrative work for Hong Kong migrants. The link between Pilzmaker and Lang Michener was made by Eddie Goldenberg, an associate of the firm, and a fellow Montrealer.
Malarek writes: “Goldenberg (now prime minister Chretien’s chief adviser and confidant) told the boys at Lang Michener all about Pilzmaker and the incredible money he was making in Hong Kong. The boys were impressed. They were ready to hold their noses and suffer Pilzmaker’s crude conduct for an entry into the teeming Pacific rim. The senior management group voted to make him a full senior partner with a starting salary of $400,000 a year … Not even Jean Chretien, their prime minister-in-waiting, rated that kind of carte blanche treatment. All he managed was associate status, $100,000 a year, and an office in Ottawa.”
After a terrific start the new senior partner’s obnoxiousness became bothersome. Even worse were scenarios in which he roped some fellows in the firm into helping some Hong Kong people appear to have Canadian residences that they did not have. Other colleagues, after trips to Asia, made false declarations or no declarations of expensive goods brought home.
The synopsis of the events which Malarek developed into story after story in the Globe were harrowing for Lang Michener. The police got on to Pilzmaker’s antics; so did the revenuers, and the Law Society. Eventually Pilzmaker got a jail term, and some lawyers of the firm paid penalties, made some restitution to the Crown, and a few had their wrists slapped by the bar. But Malarek’s side-bar vignette on Chretien is fascinating. As the skeptical Malarek puts it: “The Globe headline on Sat., Sept. 23, 1989, read: `Lawyer’s Memo Describes Income-Sharing Scheme Between Chretien, Wife.’ ”
CHRETIEN’S WIFE ON PAYROLL
Victor Malarek’s suspicions about the Chretiens avoiding taxes arose because he had asked Chretien well after the latter came to Lang Michener if it were true his wife was also on the firm’s payroll and been told that she had been but “only for a few weeks.” Later, reading the payroll records of Lang Michener, Malarek found that Madame Chretien had been paid by the law firm for some 30 months after her husband became an associate. When he braced Chretien with the contradiction, he also pointed out that she had come off the payroll the same month the firm expelled Pilzmaker.
When the PM-to-be learned the reporter intended to run a story on his wife’s secretarial pay, he rebuked Malarek, cried that this was “yellow journalism” and slammed down the phone.
The story in print was not troublesome for the Chretiens, unlike the ethical hullabaloos which the media raised over such stuff as Mila Mulroney’s spending Tory party funds or Sandra Manning’s winging to Hawaii with Preston, at Reform party expense.
Victor Malarek puts the Chretien item this way:
“Surprisingly the story caused barely a ripple. There was a follow-up story in the Toronto Star with Chretien making the same denials he had made to me. And that was it. It seemed that the Ottawa press corps didn’t see any significance in the former cabinet heavyweight and the possible future prime minister of Canada being involved in what appeared to be a tax-avoiding scheme. The story simply died.”
One may guess why it died. Chretien wasn’t yet openly back in partisan politics. The total sum paid to his wife – about $35,000 – for her “secretarial” work was not shockingly high. Also, he was then (as he still is, by and large) well-liked by the Ottawa press corps. And he did vehemently deny that he and his wife had engaged in tax avoidance.
It was probably too suspicious of Malarek to make any connection at all between the Chretiens and the Pilzmaker file. One is sure he did so because Eddie Goldenberg, their veteran adviser, brought Pilzmaker to Lang Michener at the same time as Jean Chretien was bailing out of Parliament to join the firm and make some money.
The travails of Lang Michener make up just one of many probing pursuits set out in Gut Instinct.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, October 13, 1996
ID: 13109588
TAG: 199610110110
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C6
COLUMN: Backgrounder
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THE AMERICANIZATION OF OUR POLITICS//THE HOME OF THE FREE … AND CANADIAN IDEAS

Under the ominous rubric The Americanization of Canada, CBC TV news has aired a series detailing the perilous threat to Canada’s identity and way of life posed by our giant southern neighbor.
For five nights the usual assortment of talking heads fretted over everything from our lamentable taste for the basest American pop culture to our continuing economic thralldom.
What occasioned the most worry?
That American political values are displacing our own. Yankee ideals such as the primacy of individual liberty in a democracy, and its corollary, that state power over the individual must be limited, are being pumped into this country via American magazines, sitcoms and Hollywood spectaculars. We will be left with nothing much more than the undefended border to set us apart from Americans.
Worst of all, these alien concepts have champions here in the form of neo-conservatives like Ralph Klein, Mike Harris and David Frum, carpetbaggers who delight in undermining Canadians faith in their own more communitarian approach to problems. The series left the impression that if you worry about how your children will ever pay down the $600 billion national debt, you too are a fellow carpetbagger in this fifth column.
There was a major gap in this week-long dissertation on America’s pervasive influence. There wasn’t substantial attention given the impact here of American left-wing thought.
It’s more than a coincidence that the NDP’s predecessor party, the CCF, was launched in the same Depression years as Franklin Roosevelt next door was creating “the New Deal.” Since the mid-1930s the Canadian left has played a far larger role in shaping our political agenda than has the Canadian right, and it’s baffling that CBC producers never realized how steadily Canadian eyes and minds were casting southward for inspiration and examples.
If Canada is becoming more American, as the series asserted, it’s really beyond argument that programs of Roosevelt and later Democratic presidents were more the models to Canadians than those of latterday presidents like Reagan and Bush.
Those who created Canada’s welfare state were to a great extent inspired by one man, an American whom Canadians treasured in his terms as president and in memory after his passing. He even captivated R.B. Bennett, the largely forgotten Red Tory PM we had from 1930 to 1935.
See his “last gasp” election program for 1935.
FDR’s use of federal powers to mitigate the harshness of the depression, and his attempts to jump-start the U.S. economy in the 1930’s, made a deep impression on young Canadians, for example, on Jean Chretien’s present mentor, Mitchell Sharp.
When the imperative of winning World War II led to massive intervention by the Canadian state into every aspect of peoples’ lives, Sharp and his colleagues, by then our first real mandarins, used the opportunity to emulate FDR. Before war’s end they had launched the first of Canada’s major social programs, due in no small way to American examples.
During the 1960s, as the U.S. was wracked by internal conflict over the Vietnam war, poverty and racism, Canadians watched it all on TV. Much of the political debate rubbed off in Canada, notably in creating peace lovers and anti-imperialists.
But the real impact in the clash of values and cultures south of the border came from the arrival in Canada of tens of thousands of draft dodgers and hundreds of American academics trained in such disciplines as political science, sociology, and history.
Many dodgers found work in our media and in the rapidly expanding university system. They introduced young Canadians to more than just the latest in American ideas and techniques in their respective academic fields. They were a highly politicized bunch (and we are not talking Goldwater or Nixon supporters). They brought preoccupations prevalent on American campuses, opposition to the war, the capitalist system, those in authority generally (remember cops as pigs), and to society’s perceived racism and sexism.
Expert in mobilizing, motivating, and attracting media attention, they passed these lessons on to their Canadian confreres as well (e.g., “the Waffle).”
Other like-minded Americans found their way into journalism. Consider how many former Americans now work for Canada’s national newspaper or the CBC.
In either instance they were well placed to communicate their own left-wing views to young Canadians – their fellow baby boomers. They did it with great success; their legacy is prodigious.
Since the ’60s our left has become increasingly reliant upon American precedent, ideas, and studies to support their causes. Patriation of the constitution and inclusion of a written charter of rights was promoted with the argument that modern countries like the U.S. had such documents.
Trudeau could footnote his “Charter” themes with 18th century philosophies like Montesquieu but Canadians were readied for his charter through enthusiasm worked up by judicial decisions in the United States.
There, the priority of judicial interpretations based on the rights in the constitution could override what politicians and their legislatures legislated. As historian Desmond Morton wrote recently about it: “If Americans could fight their battles in the courts, why not Canadians?”
In the U.S. the constitution had been used by minorities in the courts to achieve goals which a recalcitrant government and conservative majority had stymied for years – in the case of black voting rights, for a century. A Canadian Charter of Rights would permit the same sort of breakthroughs.
This theme of American modernity versus Canadian backwardness is a common one with the left, and rather paradoxical, given our left’s general antipathy to American society and government.
Would we have had the rush to a written constitution or measures like employment equity without the American experience with the civil rights movement and affirmative action?
It is very doubtful.
Not so, the huge influence the American left has had on their Canadian counterparts. Just ponder these three names: Ralph Nader, J.K. Galbraith, Cesar Chavez.
Consider how often U.S. studies in education, health, welfare, technology, and bureaucracy are cited here as evidence that something needs to be done, or that at least a similar study should be commissioned. Yet none at the CBC considered this to be a fit part of their examination of the Americanization of Canada.
With the possible exception of rising French-Canadian nationalism, nothing more profound has happened in modern times to Canadian politics and governance than giving up parliamentary supremacy for a pillar of the American constitution.
At the CBC why are left-wing ideas Canadian, right-wing ones foreign? Maybe somebody at CBC-TV news should examine this. I think it possible that as many Canadians get ideas and cultural stimulation from PBS and its programs as they do from the CBC and such treasures as Morningside – and they help pay for PBS.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, October 09, 1996
ID: 13109075
TAG: 199610080069
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

QUESTIONS FOR OUR MILITARY

Last Friday Jean Chretien took the resignation of David Collenette as minister of defence, and this brought the resignation yesterday of Jean Boyle, chief of defence staff. Let’s begin with Collenette.
Question. Would the PM have taken the resignation last week of Paul Martin if the latter had written the head of the refugee review board on behalf of a constituent with a problem?
Answer. Not likely. The government has too much at stake in Martin with his vital role as deficit-reducer and in restoring our integrity in the international investment field.
Q. Isn’t the above a hypothetical question, weaseling and unfair?
A. Not once one measures the “spin” put on the resignation of David Collenette by the prompters in the PMO, e.g., how his departure desolated the PM. Figure that – and how necessary the resignation – in tandem with Chretien forecasting an imminent return of Collenette to office. That, plus the quickness of the next exit – Jean Boyle’s – fits such scheming.
Q. Was Collenette’s regime a total disaster?
A. Not quite! He did reiterate how far along he was with a major reorganization of the Canadian military and the department of defence.
Q. What’s left to be done under the new defence minister, Doug Young?
A. A lot. Facetiously, he needs a new chief of defence staff. What has been done are: (a) reductions in bases across the country; (b) thinning the huge quotient of generals; (c) a slow but steady drop in both uniformed volunteers and civilian employees of the department; (d) substantially less defence spending last year, this year, and for next few years on personnel. In all the kerfuffle over defence since the Liberals took over, the “reorg” has caused lesser morale problems in the military and the communities most dependent on defence spending than the Somalia circus. Few Canadians can figure the merits of the reorg because we cannot fathom the government’s defence policy.
For example, within minutes of his elevation the fearless Young was maundering about “Pearsonian peacekeeping.” This postulates a military far different than the present one – without state-of-the-art fighter planes or anti-submarine frigates or the high-tech communications and expertise of an integral partner in NATO and NORAD.
Q. Aren’t you getting a long way from the Somali fiasco and what has been revealed about poor leadership and training?
A. No. For years, before and since the USSR collapsed, Canada has been running a military bluff made possible by the armed mantle over it of our big neighbor. What we have doesn’t square with an idealistic ethos popular in Canada. It is an anti-military ethos but it does exalt peacekeeping.
Whatever line in peacekeeping Young promotes, Collenette, bumble though he did, didn’t want to go full-bore for peacekeeping and the drastic changes in recruitment, equipping, and training of a force with no longer a core role of making war.
Q. Where are your answers leading you?
A. Easy! The imperative of a national, political debate on what kind of military we ought to have. We have had too many roles for our numbers and gear.
Q. Define this dilemma more particularly.
A. The central imperative is a defence policy that fits with both what we seem to believe and are willing to spend. The easiest needs are traditional and not onerous: a uniformed, lightly armed small force for ceremonials and the so-called “aid to the civil power.” And there must be a regular service asserting sovereignty along our boundaries and in our airspace, but this shouldn’t try to be either a match for some armed threat from an aggressor nation or an agreed component in an army or fleet under the aegis of NATO.
Q. Doesn’t this indicate a constabulary, not a military?
A. To a large degree. Most devotees of peacekeeping believe Canada should dispense with brigades of commandos and infantrymen – trained killers! The peacekeepers argue we need men and women trained in healing and repairing, understanding and arbitrage, who can both articulate and symbolize the ideals expressed in the UN Charter. And our “reserve” or militia units across Canada should also be focused on peacekeeping, not readying for guns and war.
Q. What chance is there for such a national debate?
A. Very little. The slight chance comes because Young is determined and forceful. This winter he could work up an election promise to supplant our military forces with a peacekeeping service. He may be a dud like his predecessor, but one should never despair.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, October 06, 1996
ID: 13108755
TAG: 199610040123
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C5
ILLUSTRATION: graphic
ROBERT BOURASSA
Former Quebec premier
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

DID HE BUY US TIME, OR SPEED OUR DEMISE?//HISTORY HAS YET TO JUDGE ROBERT BOURASSA

You must have noted in the chorus of regrets and praise after the passing of Robert Bourassa that almost every journalist who has spoken or written had personal anecdotes about the man. These were often of particular encounters: interviews that became chats; answers that became candid soliloquies; and apt judgments of other politicians which were never cruel.
This was the likable, modest, inquisitive Bourassa, the basic character below the public figure.
The marvel was his readiness to take time to be frank and friendly, particularly when he was way down, as he was after Rene Levesque and the Parti Quebecois routed his Liberal government in 1976 and commentators and other politicians (especially federal Liberals) were tagging him “the most hated man in Quebec.”
The scorn for him in Liberal Ottawa by the likes of Pierre Trudeau, Marc Lalonde and Jean Chretien was never disguised.
My admiration is great for politicians who persist despite adversity and calumny. It’s why I have such respect for those like Herb Gray, Chretien, the late Tommy Douglas – and for Robert Bourassa who came back from humiliation.
The several conversations I had with Bourassa were in the years after his crushing 1976 defeat and before his determination to come back was much noticed in the media (through several small initiatives he took in 1979 such as quizzing Jacques Parizeau, the PQ’s finance wizard, after a speech on trade policy to businessmen in Montreal).
I’ve never forgotten a comment of his after I mentioned his contrast to the charismatics – Trudeau and Levesque. It went like this: “They are leaders for people because of their beliefs. I was a leader, and may be again, because of what I know.”
In political appraisals of individual and team achievement, as in sport, it’s axiomatic one should never equate success and achievement with good character and worthwhile personality. Judge a politician and his or her administration on policies put in effect which have been electorally or economically successful, not on whether he or she is a decent, likable person or the ministry an admirable rota of worthy characters.
Far more Americans still cherish Jack Kennedy than his successor, Lyndon Johnson, yet the latter’s executive achievements were far more significant. To most Britons, John Major is more likable than Margaret Thatcher.
Here, both Bob Stanfield and Joe Clark were warmer, kinder, more caring and less arrogant public and private persons than Pierre Trudeau, the prime minister who mastered both of them in his time and (one must concede) in the subsequent judgments of many academics. Brian Mulroney became very unpopular before he left politics because of mass, harsh judgments of his personality and character. Yet the profound consequences of his major programs are becoming ever clearer as the Chretien government continues them.
This is a long way around the point of distinguishing between Bourassa. the man, and Bourassa, the premier, as legislator and statesman. In English Canada he never seemed to earn either strongly favorable opinion or deep antagonism. He was doubted, and he mystified. Repeatedly, he seemed a dubious federalist – talking about whether Canada was profitable for Quebec and being cranky on the absolute priority of the French language in Quebec.
As a fresh and palpably young premier in 1970, Bourassa was etched in Ottawa minds as a weak reed after the kidnappings of British diplomat James Cross and Bourassa minister Pierre Laporte created the October Crisis, and Trudeau had to stiffen and direct the Quebec premier.
The next year Bourassa went home after a positive federal-provincial constitutional conference in favor of the so-called Victoria Charter, and shortly reneged on it. Later, in 1990, when Mulroney’s Meech Lake Accord was being lost through the obstinacy of Clyde Wells, Frank McKenna and Elijah Harper, Bourassa, back again as premier, agreed his rejection of the Victoria propositions had been stupid.
A perspective on Robert Bourassa which struck me as fair and shrewd was given me four years ago by Jack Pickersgill, now 91. His Ottawa experiences began as an aide to Mackenzie King in 1935 and he went on to many ministries. Pickersgill, a Liberal but a stern critic of both Pierre Trudeau and Clyde Wells as constitutionalists, responded to my doubting of Bourassa’s devotion to federalism.
“Mr. Bourassa and I are close,” he said. “We talk. I’ve a high opinion of him. He is as shrewd a leader as I’ve known. Above all he reminds me of Mackenzie King in his caution and patience, in waiting for the perfect moment to act. He knows Canada is in the balance and I know he is a federalist. I trust him absolutely and I don’t wear rose-colored glasses.”
The problem which very cautious political leaders create for those who judge them is that their so-called “real” intentions or goals get fudged by their carefulness and its concomitant, ambiguity. It will be another decade before we know whether Robert Bourassa (or Pierre Trudeau for that matter) bought Canada as a federation the time it needed to outlast and survive the threat of Quebec’s separatism or whether killing the Victoria Charter or using the “notwithstanding” clause in the Charter to loop the Supreme Court decision against French-only signage were major decisions that gave impetus to Quebec’s march out of Canada.
Whatever perspective history will give us on Robert Bourassa we all should give him this: He was a fine, decent, determined man who proved his bravery in his hard climb back from mean denigration and defeat.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, October 02, 1996
ID: 13108220
TAG: 199610010083
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

JUSTICE MINISTER UNFAIRLY JUDGED

It’s an aggravation when a writer or producer makes a strong critical case in support of a tough, political interpretation but ignores actions or developments which should have been part of the critique. I think of two recent examples of less than complete and fair argument.
The first by Andrew Coyne, a Southam columnist, made a stern and nuanced judgment of Allan Rock for referring three questions about Quebec sovereignty to the Supreme Court.
The second was last week’s CBC-TV production, What Border?, on the scope of Canada’s Americanization. It skipped past how so much more of American liberalism than American right-wing Reaganism has inspired Canadian politics.
For today, let me concentrate on Coyne’s argument in Southam’s Saturday papers. Two headings in different dailies synopsize it: “Rock is prepared to negotiate the country away,” and “Ottawa let’s Quebecers decide our fate.”
Here’s his emotional conclusion: “It means that in the crunch, the government of Canada is prepared to sacrifice the `magnificent dream and shining ideal’ of Canada to the ethnocentric rage of the Parti Quebecois to destroy what 20 generations have built, to mock the dreams of our fathers, to impoverish the lives of our children, and all by the vote of perhaps 7% of the population. And this is the hard line!” Powerful prose, eh? The quote – “magnificent dream and shining ideal” – was from Rock’s statement.
Earlier the columnist had underlined how the justice minister insisted his government would not accept a unilateral secession while conceding it could not stand in the way of a negotiated separation following “a sufficient majority on a clear question.” Of course, this would be a “majority” in Quebec. So what’s to criticize in the Coyne ridicule of the Liberal initiative? It’s simple enough.
Almost four decades ago an historical interpretation of what Confederation was in the beginning began to win favor. Canada was basically as much or more a federation of “two nations” as it was of six provinces. The theme of “two nations” is very old. Lord Durham, reporting on the rebellions of 1837 found “two nations warring in the bosom of a single state.”
INHERENT RIGHT
In the mid-1960s with Lester Pearson’s big inquiry on bilingualism and biculturalism under way, and even before Rene Levesque launched the PQ, none of the main federal parties was denying “the inherent right” of a people to govern themselves, as recognized in the UN Charter, could be asserted by the French Canadians of Quebec.
In short, to avow separatism and break up Canada was not treasonable. This idea of divisibility has been a prime strand in politics since Levesque left the Liberal party of Quebec.
Of course, leaders like Pearson, Robert Stanfield and Tommy Douglas insisted it would never happen. But no politician of substance with a following asserted it was impossible. Even Pierre Trudeau as prime minister accepted that Quebecers could choose secession – of course, with a fair question. Since divisibility was tacitly accepted two Quebec governments have called and held referendums.
Despite their awkward questions, each was fought with both federalists and separatists accepting Canada as divisible.
During the two campaigns no federal or Quebec party leader declared there could never be a unilateral declaration of independence.
Coyne was unfair to the Chretien government in not noting that the right of Quebecers to secede and its corollary that Canada is a divisible country has been long recognized.
Coyne is sharp, however, in his perception that “the separatists know a negotiated secession is impossible.” Therefore, Lucien Bouchard has refused to take the court reference seriously and any chance its response could give a possible framework for a negotiated secession. The process for negotiation would be hugely complex and elongated, given the interests of all the other provinces, and of the natives. But Coyne thinks Quebecers would realize “the terrifying legal void of a UDI” once Ottawa stood firm on the indivisibility of Canada. Perhaps. But neither Jean Chretien nor Rock can declare this, nor can Preston Manning, Jean Charest or Alexa McDonough.
It may have been a publicly held thesis of sorts before the 1960s that Canada was an indivisible country but by 1962-63 the thesis had been discarded by the federal political parties. This did not happen with a loud bang or even many whimpers. Pearson epitomized the broad-minded generosity Canada radiated in the postwar world. He knew it was right not to say no or never to the national aspirations of the francophones of Quebec. It’s not sneering to recall that he was no Lincoln. Neither is Jean Chretien.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, September 29, 1996
ID: 13107874
TAG: 199609270103
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C4
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

CHRETIEN’S LANGUAGE BARRIER//PRONUNCIATION, NOT POLITICS, IS THE PM’S BIGGEST PROBLEM IN QUEBEC

A rather quirky happening – perhaps significant, perhaps not – has triggered much gossip in federal circles, but not a great deal of analysis even though it concerned the prime minister.
In essence, the happening was an astonishly candid assessment of Jean Chretien by Stephane Dion, the minister who the PM plucked from the academe last winter to be his point-man for inter-governmental affairs and the Constitution.
The media summation of Dion’s comments on Radio-Canada last weekend is riveting: “Dion wishes Chretien would speak better French.”
The remark has not been widely interpreted or explained by anglophone reporters, although Chantal Hebert of La Presse, never a press agent for Chretien, went hard into the matter in a piece which ran in the Ottawa Citizen last Tuesday.
Dion seems to have been very frank. Here’s my summation of his remarks (from my translation).
The minister would not deny that Chretien is little appreciated by many Quebecois although he is well liked by quite a few. Unfortunately, not by enough. His role in the constitutional debate years ago is still remembered, many Quebecois believing that Chretien worked against them; even that he had been bought by the English.
Dion argued that Quebecois who dislike the PM’s style should also recognize he is an extremely humane person and one of the best of men, although he conceded that for himself he wished Chretien spoke better French.
The vital point about Chretien, Dion posited, is that he is quick in understanding problems and is fair and not rigid in his beliefs. When one explains matters to him he responds and he makes shrewd decisions, which he stands behind. If the people understood this better they would love him.
Before turning to the Hebert piece on Chretien’s language I recall that during the Pearson years, after a decade in and around Parliament, I realized French Canadians in general, but most noticeably those with higher education, were much bigger snobs regarding the quality of grammar, vocabulary, and diction in a person’s French usage, particularly in speech, than English Canadians were about those who mangled or distorted their language in speech.
At the time this became obvious to me there was much satire abroad in Quebec about crudely spoken French – or “Joual” (a play on “Cheval”). It was roused by a pamphlet from a young, irreverent cleric. Implicit in the satire was the distance in purity between Parisian French and boondocks Quebec French. To me, it underlined that francophones in Canada had higher standards for the language they used than anglophones did about theirs.
Not long after Jean Chretien surged from obscurity in the backbench in the mid-’60s it was clear that francophones were much more critical of his spoken French than anglos were of the English used, say, by Gene Whelan or Arnold Peters, MPs who rarely failed to mangle English grammar and pronunciation.
But from those days onward it was obvious that Chretien’s massacring of English was not really hurtful to him in the so-called “Rest of Canada.” Rather, it defined him as an ordinary Canadian.
In the early ’60s one of the Tory MPs from Quebec was most unpopular with anglo MPs of all parties. The nickname on the Hill for Jean-Noel Tremblay was “the ferret.” But when he rose for a speech in the House the MPs from Quebec would at once be rapt listeners. Word seemed to spread and some MPs would come from their offices to listen.
I asked why. One response was: “His language is superb.” The late Jean Deschatelets, a Liberal, and later a cabient minister, said “Tremblay speaks French as most of us wish we could.”
A few years later the three “wise men” – Jean Marchand, Gerard Pelletier and Pierre Trudeau, came out of Quebec to bolster the Pearson government.
Marchand was the No. 1 in reputation and following in Quebec, but in Parliament, compared to Pelletier’s, his English was poor. And compared to Trudeau’s it was very poor. One among several reasons for Trudeau’s ascent to the top in just over two years was his excellent French and his good English.
As Hebert has noted, last week Stephane Dion “was valiantly trying to demonstrate that his boss’ low standing in Quebec was undeserved.” She thinks Dion’s remarks have had at least this effect in Quebec. They indicated that “having become a federal minister, Dion has not completely lost touch with reality.”
As she sets it out: “So what is it really about Chretien’s French that makes even some of his strongest public supporters in Quebec drop all pretence of a defence? To put it in simple terms, the prime minister speaks French much in the same way he speaks English.”
Further, Hebert declared: “Chretien’s troubles with his native tongue have diminished the quality of his passionate defence of Canada … When he speaks French, he is not speaking a second language. And when he tells Quebecers how Canada has treasured their language, the way he says it turns his message into a caricature.”
What does this unilingual anglophone feel about the Dion gambit and the Chretien dilemma with the Quebecois?
First, that it’s for the best that Dion has brought the matter into the open so starkly. It is a considerable handicap for a leader dealing with the most fundamental Canadian problem.
On the other hand, it strikes one as so damnably unfair. In 33 years of public life Chretien has bravely used both languages, and rarely been misunderstood in either, despite his syntax and diction.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, September 25, 1996
ID: 12352895
TAG: 199609240053
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

TOBIN ACTS LIKE A PM-IN-WAITING

It fascinates me that Brian Tobin breaks open a splendid issue for large-scale contention across Canada at the moment in the Chretien government’s life when the foot-soldiers behind it are becoming seized with doubts about the prime minister’s generalship.
To talk about breaking a contract between provinces sanctified by Supreme Court decisions … Is this stupid? Wrong-headed? Perhaps criminal? Or is it shrewd, even absolutely necessary? Obviously Tobin’s ploy has the support of Newfoundland itself. And it will certainly resonate well with the majority of people in the so-called “Rest of Canada.” The deal Joey Smallwood made so long ago, and that still stretches ahead for decades, is unbelievably tilted to Quebec’s advantage in dollars every year.
For those of us who brood around Parliament Hill, a point we cannot miss in Tobin’s challenge to Premier Lucien Bouchard to re-negotiate the power contract is that if he manages the issue adroitly it is likely to give him the edge needed to win the federal Liberal leadership when Jean Chretien retires.
And, yes, quietly so far, but in many rooms, federal Liberals, in particular some on the Liberal backbenches, are recognizing their leader is showing signs of being over the hill. They are very aware he is not an asset in Quebec. Some have concluded a prime minister from outside Quebec could be more forthright in dealing with Bouchard on many matters.
At this time who are the prospects being chatted about by Liberals as Chretien’s successor? Three are in the cabinet and speak French well enough to make speeches and give good interviews in the language: Paul Martin, Jr., Allan Rock and Douglas Young. The two outside the cabinet are Tobin and fellow premier Frank McKenna. As yet neither has a modicum of competence in French – if that is still vital (and most Liberals are re-appraising that axiom).
Martin has the misfortune of a seat in Montreal. One might say, fairly, that Rock has the misfortune of a seat in Toronto and of being the candidate of the Trudeau remnant there. Further, half a hundred Grit MPs from the hinterlands distrust him. At surprising speed, considering his dour line on the welfare state, Young is emerging as a credible alternative to Chretien. At last the Liberals have to the fore a blunt, no-nonsense, tell-it-as-it-is politician.
JUDGING THE PROSPECTS
Of course, a leadership contest may not come for several years. (My hunch is 1998.) We are merely at the stage of considering possibilities and judging such prospects on what their recent antics indicate about their intentions.
It seems to me Martin has to run, that Rock can be persuaded to run (as a social reformer!) and Young is rapidly attaining the stature that means he will be drafted. McKenna looked a great prospect three years ago as a splendid, achieving premier but he’s been overshadowed by the rise of Messrs. Klein, Harris and Clark in provinces far heftier than New Brunswick.
When one weighs this pack of possible PMs, and sets it for contrast against Liberal leadership contenders over the past 30 years, its general quality is good, though not quite on par with those who went after the succession to Lester Pearson in 1968: Pierre Trudeau, Bob Winters, John Turner, Paul Hellyer, Paul Martin, Sr., Joe Greene, Allan MacEachen and Eric Kierans. Those aspirants were a remarkable mix of distinctive styles, experience, ideas and the standard political talents of speaking and debating.
The one who I would rank with the highest potential is Brian Tobin. Why? He has vigor, color, ambition and craftiness. And he’s very likable. Rock may be the lawyers’ lawyer as a politician, Martin a businessman with a heart, Young a hard rock for tough times, McKenna a proven success in his theatre, but Tobin is fiery yet persuasive, as glib as Bill Clinton or Stephen Lewis, as emotional as John Diefenbaker. Oh, how he seizes and holds the limelight. Of the pack, isn’t he the one with the best chance of matching Bouchard?
Before I leave speculation about the next Grit boss, I know there’ll be calls asking: What about Sheila Copps and Lloyd Axworthy?
There’s not much to say except that for over a year I haven’t crossed the path of any Liberal who considers either Copps or Axworthy a credible leadership contender. It will be interesting to assess a year from now the aftermath of a racy, bumptious book due in a few weeks for the Christmas trade, written by Ed Greenspon of the Globe and Mail and Tony Wilson-Smith of Maclean’s. It’s the richest thing in insider prowling through the suites and corridors of federal Ottawa since Peter Newman’s famous Renegade in Power.
On many counts the text is cruel to both Copps and Axworthy, and equivocal on Martin. Not to Tobin. Watch him!

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, September 22, 1996
ID: 12352295
TAG: 199609200128
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C7
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

BACKBENCHERS LOST IN THE CROWD

After the first question period in the House of Commons last Monday there was an interlude which occurs every few months. Hansard, the print record of remarks by MPs, titles it Tributes. They are comments of remembrance for former MPs who have died recently.
Rarely does this occasion or any particular tribute get mentioned in the big dailies or on television although often they’ll be referred to in home-town weeklies. Those who give the tributes, usually one from each party, never use them in a partisan way. This is a low-key, decorous commemoration. The deceased are described almost totally as though all MPs are peers, equal in the eyes of the Speaker and their colleagues. Otherwise? Really, truly, they are not.
For example, the PM recruited eight of his ministers before they got to the House. So they were assured of cabinet posts, quite unlike three score or more of their caucus “peers” who had been in the previous House. And some eight of the cabinet appointees who had been in that House were mostly distinguished as Chretien boosters (see Collenette, Irwin and Marchi). In short, a government has lots of backbenchers and not many have open chances for elevation to a portfolio. The lesser honors of parliamentary secretary or committee chairman will fall to some – for a time – but these have not turned out to be sure routes for advancement or attention.
A minority of opposition MPs do get chances for considerable media notice if their leader assigns them a ministry or subject field to shadow. More and more, however, an individual MP without such guaranteed chances to speak and question can be almost unnoticed outside his or her own office. Just consider how the House rules on what is a party have muffled a hard-driving personality like the NDP’s Svend Robinson.
So this is why the tributes in the House strike me as more a collective act of conscience and an enfeebled reminder that once upon a time MPs were important – and still ought to be.
FEW NATIONAL HEROES
Of the several thousand MPs Canada has had, beginning with 181 in 1867 and rising with the population to the present 295, few have become historical figures of note, and not many more have been national heroes or famous for much beyond their ridings and regions. And it is realistic, not cynical, to recognize that since the early 1960s there has been a slow but steady de-emphasis of the House as the focus of happenings of vital significance to the country. The swing has gone to the PM and his mandarinate (far more than to cabinet) and, in a publicity sense, rather than a “power” sense, to the other party leaders and to the politics of federal-provincial relations.
As TV’s penetration has made politics more familiar to more people it narrowed emphasis to the few who exercise power or may exercise it. Less attention and far less appreciation goes to the supporting cast, even to a minister of finance, and in particular to what most MPs, government or opposition, are most of the time – backbenchers.
The first and prime function for MPs is fulfilled on election night when their numbers by party determines who shall be prime minister. After this, on the Hill the chief duties of most MPs are to be loyal to the leader, follow the Whip and, at home, ensure the party will hold the seat next time.
Last Monday the tributes were for two men in their 90s at death: Marvin Howe, an able, unassuming Tory MP for Wellington-Huron (1953-72) with a great grasp on business and farm affairs and a backbench role in his times; and for Dr. Victor Railton, a Liberal MP for Welland (1972-79) who served in World War II and in a long medical career of distinction, but who came to the House too late for a high profile as an MP.
Marvin was succeeded by another Tory, wealthy Perrin Beatty, now of CBC notoriety; Victor was followed by another Grit, Gilbert Parent, the present Speaker of the House.
On Thursday the Commons paid tribute to Arnold Peters, first a CCF, then an NDP MP for Temiskaming (1957-80) who died last Tuesday; and soon will pay tribute to John Morison, a Liberal MP for Hamilton-Wentworth and Burlington (1963-72) who died early in the month.
I knew well all four of these men as MPs, and I vouch that the substance of the tributes to Marvin Howe, Victor Railton and Arnold Peters will be echoed in that to John Morison -that they were fine riding representatives and active in House affairs. They were!
Shortly, I want to write a column about Arnold Peters, underlining his key role in modernizing our divorce laws, and about John Morison, who once gave the perfect rebuke to a column of mine about bad or indifferent MPs.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, September 18, 1996
ID: 12351248
TAG: 199609170071
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

COCKY CHRETIEN’S KING OF THE HILL

Jean Chretien keeps it simple, particularly in the House. He likes the House and doesn’t fear it, at least as prime minister. He cared a lot less for it when in opposition. Now he’s at home there, as he demonstrated with such ease when sittings resumed Monday.
Quickly he goes for the TV bite with remarks on Preston Manning’s tonsure. These had his followers roaring, two women ministers squealing with delight. Later, no one reminds him of his own sensitivity in the last election campaign. (Remember those snarky, ill-advised Tory clips exaggerating his facial twist?)
In question period one Reform MP after another, then some BQ intervenors, insists he must take the resignations of his defence minister and the chief of defence staff. The PM, without much of the patience one must have for such hapless fools, repeats his confidence in the minister and CDS. Further, he repeats a familiar homily on stable administration: keep ministers in place; don’t keep dropping or shuffling them, as during the previous regime of ministerial scandals.
Defence Minister David Collenette, he repeats, is doing well in a huge task that’s been under way for almost three years to restructure the Canadian military and improve its effectiveness while curbing its cost. He will continue in it. And Chretien’s claque, by far the largest in the House, claps and nods and growls approval. He is clearly much satisfied with himself and without fear on this matter.
The critics keep butting in with the refrain of “Resign, resign.”
None of his questioners gets into the nuts and bolts of the so-called Somalia situation: for example, raising the extraordinary high costs to the taxpayers of legal fees for the swarm of interested parties at the slow-moving inquiry.
No one hammered at the paradox of so much latitude in judging the behavior of senior commissioned officers in the Somalia affair, here and abroad, and the relative speed and severity of the discipline enforced by military courts on several from the disbanded Airborne Regiment’s lowest ranks.
No one laughed at or satirized the prime minister’s self-congratulations at having the bravery and taking the risk of placing the issue of wrong-doing in the Somalia affair in the hands of an independent inquiry (which is obviously fair and thorough) although the inquiry is well along the way to competing with the now ridiculous royal commission on aboriginal affairs for exorbitant costs and immense niggling over much that is irrelevant and without immediacy.
PUBLIC DISRESPECT
No one hammered at the ruin of public respect for our military or to brutal loss of self-esteem of individuals in the services.
The assurance Chretien has about the competence of Defence Minister Collenette and Gen. Jean Boyle doesn’t desert him when the opposition raises the oldest dirge in modern Canadian politics: “Where are the jobs?”
Granted, there are more unemployed than the government would like, but the PM says his record in job creation since taking office is a good one. He supplies figures, denies the quoted percentage level of jobless, and moves effortlessly to the splendid conditions for a steady recovery of economic confidence: low interest rates, outstanding export trade figures, and declining government deficits – not just federal deficits, but in most of the provinces.
Oh, there is so much to be optimistic about. And his ministerial backers sing the same hymn. They say the opposition shouldn’t twist – as BQ members do in arguing Quebec gets far less than its fair share of federal research funding, or as Reformers do in arguing the government’s policy with regard to the marketing of prairie grain is frozen in a long denial of free market behavior.
All right. The prime minister is coasting, the House is his oyster, not his trap. Obviously, neither of the opposition leaders, Marcel Gauthier nor Preston Manning, have the bent to satire and needling belittlement which might unsettle the prime minister, perhaps to rage, perhaps to extreme assertions. Although the NDP have potential satirists in Svend Robinson and Bill Blaikie, and the Tories in Jean Charest, they can’t get at the PM.
Is there a way to shake the confidence of Chretien and his almost fatuous assumption of another big mandate?
Yes, there is, although the boomerang potential is high.
Day after day, broach him on national unity. On his lamentable standing in Quebec. On the failure of three, fresh ministers from Quebec to diminish the separatists. If the economy’s coming on so well, why is Montreal in tatters? What use a prime minister and a finance minister from Quebec?

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, September 15, 1996
ID: 12350624
TAG: 199609130094
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C6
COLUMN: Backgrounder
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

MARKING TIME ON THE HILL//A FEARLESS FORECAST FOR THE COMING SEASON OF PARLIAMENT

The 35th Parliament resumes this week, beginning what should be its last session. Usually after a summer recess those who report on Parliament welcome the return of question period’s stagy ritual and the spins of politicians by the score. But there isn’t much fizz or buzz over this coming session and few anticipate one lively week after another.
First of all, no blockbuster legislation is in sight. Nothing like the GST or the GTA or NAFTA, or any conscience-harrowing bills from the government on matters like capital punishment or homosexual rights. Also, this House has a long, nonstimulating track record. It has rarely been roiled or steamed up for more than a few days straight. It has few vivid personalities or orators.
The ministry, overall, is grey, rather torpid and tedious rather than electric with the partisan guff. Brian Tobin is missed. The lamest duck, Michel Dupuy, is out, and the next lamest, Diane Marleau, is now in a low-profile slot. The lead-off men for the Bloc and Reform are decent but not magnetic. Even the NDP’s circus act, Svend Robinson, has become staid. (Surprisingly, even though I squeeze it within brackets: last session the Senate was more controversial than the House.)
The flatness of the current makeup in people and party splits was accentuated last December when Lucien Bouchard, the most compelling and gifted politician in the House, left to lead the government of Quebec following the PQ’s tight loss in the October referendum.
Not only did Bouchard’s departure deflate this Parliament’s significance, he’s more invulnerable in Quebec city to regular criticism from Jean Chretien than he was in the House. As premier, however, he has had to give primacy to Quebec’s economic malaise, not her independence, and this need has put the date of the next critical decision on separation several years away, well beyond the date Chretien must choose for the next federal election, and probably beyond the next Quebec election.
Meantime, a clear Chretien strategy for Quebec has not crystallized; certainly not a highly aggressive one. Nothing has happened in the summer recess to show his new ministers, Stephane Dion and Pierre Pettigrew, are going over well with a federalist line in Quebec, and even in English Canada neither has been drawing much in plaudits.
One suspects the PM is obsessed, perhaps transfixed, by the dramatic contrast between his low repute with his home folks and his high rating with the anglos, especially in Ontario. On one hand he can hardly miss another cozy majority. On the other, another 90-plus seats in Ontario looks far less reassuring than 40 to 50 seats in Quebec would be.
Chretien, for all his quickness and physical energy, is a cautious, not a daring leader. A bush pilot sort of pragmatist. And he seems unsure of his touch on Quebec since last October. One cannot even imagine, however, there will be a Liberal to raise openly the need to consider a new party leader and, notably, one not from Quebec.
The PM seems aware he cannot win much favor in Quebec through what his government does about Quebec in the House of Commons, either by speech or legislation. Meanwhile his hope is obvious: that Bouchard will goof badly in his economic rescue and gradually his popularity with the Quebecois will wear away. The puzzle in that comes in trying to imagine such an erosion could go so far and fast as to let Daniel Johnson and the Quebec Liberals turf the BQ in the next provincial election.
Chretien is also waiting, rather more hopefully, for the slow but genuine recovery of federal credibility in matters of deficit reduction and spending controls to win recognition, even in Quebec. Already he – and judging by the business press, his finance minister, Paul Martin – is being credited with “turning Canada around” through fearless, radical surgery of programs and public servants.
So in this last session the government will reiterate ad nauseam how well it’s doing with the national crisis caused by deficits and debt burden. Oh, it has been financially responsible and frugal!
This is a line well worth taking. For example, its bearers carry some telling data to rebut Reform Party MPs who came to this Parliament demanding above all else that the deficit be mastered and the threat erased of international agencies declaring Canada bankrupt.
These are the top eight themes I think the government will be touting in this last session.
1) Its astute financial management.
2) A sound, if not sensational, economic recovery with substantial job creation and a remarkable export growth with a very favorable trade balance.
3) A steady determination – with no nonsense, no tricks, no threats – to keep pushing federalism’s merits in Quebec.
4) The positive steps under way to transfer some programs and policies to the provinces and, in general to have smoother federal-provincial relations without getting into major constitutional changes.
5) Its sensible moves in the field of justice regarding crime, juvenile delinquency, child abuse, and gun control.
6) The fair, equitable treatment, despite the imperative of drastic cuts in funding, given to vital cultural and social agencies.
7) The absolute guarantee it will stand by the five founding principles of universal medicare.
8) The small but important easing of the tax burden on individuals with lower incomes, and perhaps a very modest expectation of some easing of taxes in the pre-election budget next February or March.
9) Its success in simplifying and reducing the cost of the immense federal transport bureaucracy and furthering the privatization of air, rail and marine facilities and operations.
10) Soft-pedalling and postponing any major particulars in constitutional change – even Quebec as “a distinct society.”
Opposition MPs will scoff at the lack of substance or merit in most of these governmental themes, but to Liberals or their partisans each is worth underlining as evidence of competence that deserves another mandate, particularly when they haven’t the big dollars for new, major programs.
One popular question about this last session hangs on the Red Book. Will the Liberals stop bragging how they’ve fulfilled its many promises? That’s a fair bet. Since the embarrassments of Sheila Copps over the replacement of the GST, the Red Book’s less treasured by its makers. Last week a brief news item said there’d not be a Red Book II. It’s also a fair bet the original will be referred to more by opposition MPs than by Liberals.
Will there be more departures this session from caucus ranks like those of John Nunziata (Liberal) and Jan Brown (Reform)? Possibly, but not likely. Chretien’s ruthlessness last session chilled caucus dissidents. Much fussing over Liberal nominations in English Canada will resonate in House skirmishing. The small NDP caucus of nine may finally come to life with strenuous daily interventions that flaunt the rules. It is unlikely, however, that Tory Leader Jean Charest will be in the House more than before – which was rarely.
Will there be another cabinet shuffle? Nothing major until well after Christmas, although the PM will be a bigger fool than I think he is if Defence Minister David Collenette isn’t bumped to another ministry.
The opposition has lots of material for criticism as the session opens, beginning with the screw-ups in national defence and the army. Reformers will persistently resurrect the high costs and ineffectiveness of Allan Rock’s gun registry and the stupidity in triggering Brian Mulroney’s big libel suit. They will belabor the Liberals to open free market routes for grain-growers. Taunters will reiterate the nonwisdom and sky-high costs of two decisive steps Chretien took to seal his last victory: cancelling the Pearson airport contracts and killing the Tories’ big helicopter deal. As a time-honored House phrase goes: there’ll be much threshing of old straw.
An intrinsic advantage I believe the Liberals have in this last session does not come so much from the bent of those who cover government and Parliament to cherish them or to take them as an attractive crew of politicians with a peerless leader. Rather, the two other leaders and caucuses with prominent roles are not admired and few journalists value or respect them.
In sum, because of the menace to unity from the BQ-PQ plus a sort of default of respect for Reform, the Liberals can hardly blow it this session.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, September 11, 1996
ID: 12349652
TAG: 199609100071
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

WHY THE MEDIA LOVE CHAREST

It was Gordon Gibson, not a member of the Reform Party, who wrote recently (Globe and Mail, Sept. 3): “There is no doubt that many of the media people look for problems in Reform while they give the benefit of the doubt, or even subtly promote, elsewhere.”
The once very active Liberal, now a widely published pundit on national matters, was remarking on the favorable play in print and on TV for Jean Charest, leader of the Progressive Conservative party. He did not analyze deeply why Charest should be so blessed or why the “media people” are so critical of Preston Manning and the Reform Party. But it seems to me he is right about both situations.
Soon after this House of Commons gathered late in 1993 it became clear Charest would get attention beyond the minute state of his caucus in the House and that Manning and the MPs behind him would be weighed by most in the political media and be tagged as bigoted, inconsistent and inept at criticizing the Chretien government. Journalists early decided that here was just another regional party, parochial and oddball.
Dalton Camp, a columnist who has long been an active and “progressive” Tory, is delighted with the good impression Charest has been making. He wrote this after the recent party convention (Hill Times, Sept. 2):
“Moderation and common sense prevailed at Winnipeg because enough moderate and sensible Tories showed up to ensure it and because the party’s leader, Jean Charest, made it clear he wanted a slate of resolutions he could campaign on and live with. Charest was well within his rights. As leader of a party that was in receivership three years ago, he is now its principal asset.”
Despite their savaging of the Tories in 1993 many Canadians, said Camp, “wished to see the party rebuilt and restored to its accustomed place in politics. Those wishing the Tories a robust and speedy recovery include many Liberals and independents. All share a similar outlook in the aftermath of the last federal election. Canadians had elected a dysfunctional Parliament represented by elements hostile to the nation’s political traditions and incapable of either compromise or conciliation.”
Of course, to Camp, Reform and the BQ are the “elements hostile to the nation’s political traditions” and he neatly encapsuled together Reform and the separatist MPs from Quebec. Such a dismissal of Reform is shared by most reporters covering the federal scene. Reform is hostile to their mind-sets and political values which are mostly left of centre in the political spectrum and “social democratic.”
HEARTENING NEWS
The seeming recovery of Charest and the “progressive” Tories, is heartening now because of other developments of much concern to the Camps, Walkoms, Laxers, Barlows Salutins and McCaigs who push and defend progress so devotedly.
First, Conrad Black has bought control of the Southam newspapers, where both editorial control and newsroom emphases were more left than right. Now Black’s menace is emerging in new, conservative columnists like Andrew Coyle and Barbara Amiel. Joan Fraser, longtime editor of the Montreal Gazette and conciliator of the Quebecois, has resigned. Even such a cheery, centre-of-the-road pundit as Jeffrey Simpson of the Globe says: “That the papers will increasingly bear Black’s stamp is a given.”
Matching Black in bleakness for the main mindset in the media are big cuts in staff and spending being forced on the CBC, by far the largest Canadian employer of reporters and editors, most of whom have followed, and often boosted the renowned progressive causes: rights and redress for women, natives and homosexuals, saving nature, exalting peace and damning war, and ever critical of American values and corporations taking over our economy and culture.
Also bedevilling anti-Reformers are premiers like Mike Harris and Ralph Klein and the clear proof now the federal Liberals under Jean Chretien are at best a tight, centre-right crew which no longer has hard prodding from the left by a vigorous caucus of NDP MPs. So a likable Charest with a Red Tory party is worthier of revival than the federal NDP under its new leader, Alexa McDonough.
It seems to me the many issues which the Reform MPs have pushed with fresh criticism in this Parliament deserve better from the media and Charest merits less notice than he’s been getting. For example, Reform is vigorously opposed to the Chretien government’s line on the two key questions of our times: the staying or going of Quebec; and the devolution of more power to the provinces.
To keep government honest and open we need a strong, clear opposition on the big questions. Not its nice, traditional facsimile.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, September 08, 1996
ID: 12349005
TAG: 199609060131
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C5
ILLUSTRATION: photo by Reuter
STARS ON ICE … Chris Chelios of the U.S. slams into Slovakia’s Zdeno Ciger during a World Cup game at New York’s Madison Square Garden. In this tournament we are seeing more good teams and more good players than ever before says Fisher, a former Hockey Canada director.
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THE GAME GOES GLOBAL//IT’S NOT JUST OURS ANY MORE, AND THAT’S GOOD

More good players: better hockey.
More fine players: ever better hockey!
Those two generalizations come as I reflect on the hockey being played in this World Cup series. Many among the several million Canadians who are intense about hockey, especially elders with long memories, will quarrel with both opinions. Neither they nor I can disprove or prove hockey’s been getting better. These are personal hunches.
A lot of Canadians hate to concede we can no longer be proprietorial with hockey. It is now a world game, played and being coached well in tough competition in far more countries than three decades ago.
My own close retrospect of hockey goes back to 1969. That’s when I got a role in policy for international hockey and became familiar with major actors in hockey’s management and play in a dozen countries, including the NHL and the NHL Players Association – sponsors of the World Cup, and which in an uneasy concert either dominate or overwhelmingly affect the game across the world.
One hardly needs to cite quantities to appreciate that globally there are many more good hockey players and considerably more able coaches than in 1969. There are also far more children and youth of both sexes playing the game now. From many countries there has been a remarkable blending in the training of players and the offensive and defensive strategies of the game.
In 1969, thanks to then-PM Pierre Trudeau fulfilling an election promise, the federal government took an open hand in hockey’s politics – pushed by a growing national frustration. He said this: “Hockey is considered our national game and yet, in the world hockey championships, we have not been able as amateurs to perform as well as we know we can.”
Year after year we were being clobbered in nation vs. nation hockey, notably but not exclusively by the Russians. In large part the reason for the eclipse of the people who had originated hockey stemmed from the long-held Olympic exclusion of overtly professional athletes. Our ablest hockey players, mostly in the NHL, could not play for Canada.
Through the 1960s, a strong, special effort, backed by the government, went into the concept of a permanent national team (of amateurs) by the late Father David Bauer. This had improved our teams’ performances in the annual “world” championships but not enough to augur victory. Further improvement was unlikely, given the rivalry for players which saw NHL teams lure top prospects from the Bauer teams (e.g., Serge Savard and Guy Lapointe).
The complicated tale doesn’t bear much repeating here of how a government-created agency, Hockey Canada, helped engineer the departure of Bunny Ahearne from his control of European hockey, teamed up with Allan Eagleson and the then-developing NHL Players Association and with the NHL owners in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, to woo the Russians into the first great breakthrough to open world class hockey. That was the still vividly memorable 1972 series with the USSR. The Canadians won – barely – and the quality of the hockey was astounding.
There was more than the stimulus of nationalism. The contrasting styles, the skill and finesse and the fierce competition were mesmerizing and unforgettable. And, indicative for the future, the series had been successful financially. Beforehand, the NHL president forecast a mere $100,000 profit. The consequence was close to $3 million and a clear message to both NHL owners and players that there was more in international hockey than a nationalistic burden.
The question after 1972 was what came next. Remember, the Iron Curtain was then in place and was to remain an impediment to non-governmental arrangements in sports until it collapsed as the 1980s closed.
In the ’70s getting more of such wonderful hockey meant wooing the Soviets, their Czech colleagues in communism, plus Sweden and Finland. The Europeans stuck together in the sense they would not regularize a competition that only included one of them.
How could we attain truly international competition between national teams and even between club teams?
Should there be more super-series, pitting Canada and the USSR? We got one in 1974 but this time the source of the Canadian team was the relatively new World Hockey Association. The quality of play was high but the Russians won.
How could we get the NHL on the one hand, the IIHF on the other, to sanaction the full, outright use of NHL players by national teams in the annual tournaments sponsored by the IIHF and in the Olympics?
Hockey Canada (of which I was an executive) turned rather quietly to the idea first advanced within it by the late Stafford Smythe of the Maple Leafs: to copy football and have a series every four years for a world cup of hockey, based on national teams. As a participant in the development of the first Canada Cup tournament in 1976, I believe the key to establishing it, once the players’ association led by Allan Eagleson was throughly involved, was American nationalism, not Canadian or Russian or Swedish nationalism.
As a schemer of the first Canada Cup series I know I played more on the national pride of American owners like Bill Wirtz and Ed Snyder than on the lure of dollars. A lot of Americans involved in hockey then choked – and still do – on Canadian assumptions of hockey superiority.
Put crudely, Americans believe that if they are not the best at something they can be and should be.
So here we are as Canadians, 20 years after the first credible “world” cup of hockey, facing in the current series what was the gleam ahead for those like Wirtz, Snyder, Bruce Norris and Walter Bush when they agreed to the first Canada Cup.
Now the Yanks look like they can take it all.
And when they do, I think it will stimulate a response in Canada even more emotional than that which made Pierre Trudeau lead the government of Canada into hockey’s politics.
And even if such a bonus from an American paramountcy doesn’t develop, as fans we can still revel in what internationalizing hockey has done. Superb Canadian players we savor like Lindros, Messier, Gretzky and Lemieux are adorned, not besmirched, by competing against or playing with the likes of Selanne, Kurri, Koivu, Sundin, Forsberg, Jagr, Bondra, Fedorov, Bure and Yashin.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, September 04, 1996
ID: 12347894
TAG: 199609030087
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THE MILITARY’S CULTURE OF LIES

Those who believe Official Ottawa to be an Orwellian world where black can be white need not look beyond the Somalia inquiry. The testimony offered by many senior mandarins has been full of bureaucratese and “newspeak.” Were it not for its lack of brevity and wit, George Orwell himself might have scripted their guff.
Leading the list of unlikely claims by the top brass is that they are committed to openness – to getting the facts out. A former deputy minister, an assistant deputy minister, two directors general of public affairs and the chief of defence staff all insisted this motive drove their decisions regarding the press. Their honest attempts to assist the media have been misconstrued as a conspiracy to manipulate the media through the control of information.
As evidence of their high mindedness they pointed to the informal release of Response to Queries (RTQs) to CBC Radio reporter Michael McAuliffe. Knowing that he intended to request these documents through the formal Access to Information (ATI) process, the high-priced help okayed a plan to turn the papers over informally, saving him both time and energy. Concern about the constraints which McAuliffe was working under also led to the decision to remove from these papers extraneous material which would have proven a distraction to him. In their modesty they didn’t tell him about this last kindness.
Excessive humility about the plans to assist the media led to all sorts of misunderstandings – if you believe those who run the defence department.
They didn’t tell the media about their next brainstorm: changing the name of RTQs to Media Response Lines (MRLs). The inquiry was assured this change was made to ease the media’s life, though exactly how was never detailed. Its major impact was negative – it cut McAuliffe off from an important information source. When he next requested RTQs he was told they no longer existed. (As it happened, RTQs did still exist because not everyone had got word of the name change.)
The one significant difference between the old RTQs and the new MRLs was that while the former were kept on file for months the latter were destroyed after 72 hours. Coincidentally, ATI requests take more than three days to process, so even if the media did discover the name change, attempts to secure MRLs through ATI would fail. Of course, the inquiry was assured this was not the reason for the MRLs’ limited shelf life. No, the 72-hour limit was to ensure out-of-date information could not be given out to the media. One presumes it also helped to keep public affairs a tidy place.
GOOD INTENTIONS
Disputing these claims of good intentions gone awry is Col. Geoff Haswell, the only person yet charged in the documents affair. He insists senior managers were preoccupied with the political ramifications of the Somalia mess, and did all they could to control the flow of information. This fits with my own experience of the bureaucracy and helps explain some of the peculiarities surrounding this affair.
Consider: with his minister dying the death of a thousand cuts in question period, is it really credible that Gen. Jean Boyle would deem the release of more potentially embarrassing information by his public affairs shop as something he couldn’t, shouldn’t and wouldn’t devote much attention to, as he claims?
Does it make sense that an officer who took such a cavalier attitude toward his minister’s plight would then be hand-picked by the same minister for the top job, with his masterful handling of the Somalia issue being cited as one key reason for his appointment?
Col. Haswell’s comments about the subtle bureaucratic art of memo writing (so as to leave nothing incriminating behind) are well taken too. The commissioners spent much time analyzing what seemed to be needlessly cryptic missives between Boyle and an ADM. The general insisted these supported his testimony, but the commission chair noted they could be read in less flattering ways.
Then there’s the Hasty Notes ploy. One puts opinions about a document on Hasty Notes so these can be stealthily removed later should this become advantageous, as the colonel alleges one of his senior colleagues, Ruth Cardinal, did, is an Ottawa ruse as old as Hasty Notes. The practise should be stamped out.
It’s ironic that the man who the system itself has found most at fault in the documents fiasco has given the inquiry its most credible sketch of the bureaucratic beast to date. The system described by his superiors – one filled with dispassionate, straight-arrow professionals, disinterestedly managing the nation’s affairs, oblivious to the whims of their bureaucratic and political superiors or their own self-interest – is a fantasy. One hopes when the commissioners write their final report they will pull no punches about the fictions offered them.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, September 01, 1996
ID: 12347297
TAG: 199608300130
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C7
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

BOYLE CAN’T HANDLE THE MEDIA SPOTLIGHT

Lately both Jean Charest, the Tory federal leader, and Jean Boyle, our top military general, have been much seen and heard through television. The young politician has registered well with viewers and the young general has not.
The differing impacts have not come from straight physical looks – face, head shape, profile. Each is handsome and wears clothes well. The differences are largely in voice, speech and manner.
Charest is eloquent, relaxed, and quick in response. Boyle is not at ease, his phrasing is jerky and often incomplete. He is without persuasiveness, despite the gloss of rich uniform and the symbols of a hierarchy. He is plainly not cut out to be a public figure of substance, and a chief of staff should be, in particular when the minister of defence happens to be as slow and unexpressive as a tortoise.
None of our chiefs of staff has really had to be a prominent, widely known person since the early 1950s when the late Guy Simonds, our top World War II general, held the post. In it, Simonds, rather like Boyle, made a poor impression on the general public. He seemed dour, taciturn, and arrogant. Two other chiefs of staff (in the 1970s) Gen. Jacques Dextraze and Adm. Robert Falls, had the talents for winning household respect but never had to face an intense media spotlight or the belittling hot seat which the Somalia inquiry has forced Gen. Boyle into.
To be frank, and probably unfair, it is unlikely the Canadian military can regain the measure of public trust needed to sustain its own capabilities and morale without two personnel changes – a new minister and a new chief of staff.
The new minister should be a first-class interlocutor with the public and one who believes we must have an able military, numerous and well-equipped enough to meet the government’s explicit purposes. The new chief of staff should be one who can talk well and reasonably to both the public and the ranks.
In the recent press one can find a lot of editorials commending as example to Gen. Boyle a vigorous acceptance of responsibility by Monique Begin, a former federal minister of health (1977-84) in two Trudeau governments. She had informed the chairman of the Krever inquiry into tainted blood supplies that she was shocked that several officials who served under her were likely to face charges for what has become a major, life-taking, health disaster. She posited that as the minister in charge at the time she, not her officials, was responsible and should answer for it. She seemed to imply that if there are criminal charges or civil suits over the tainted blood she should be a leading object of the actions.
Fine! Noble! They say she’s doing what an honest politician should. She’s a model for Boyle. He should accept responsibility for a cover-up, admit it, and (as most editorialists think) resign.
But if we examine the chain of leadership in government, Begin as minister answered to Pierre Trudeau. Isn’t he where the proverbial and retrospective buck stops? He’s at the top of the system which was responsible for the disaster.
The problem gets murky, very murky, because no one is sure what either our statute law or the common law says about the prosecution for wrongdoing in their departments of those who once served as ministers of the Crown.
Is a jail term really feasible if Begin is ruled to have had a prime responsibility for the tainted blood disaster? Obviously she cannot bear heavy fines or high legal costs. Should the Crown which she once served pay if the Crown which later lays the charges has a successful prosecution?
My point is this: there is much that is impractical, if not silly, in Begin’s magnanimity. But if her argument applies to the Somalia affair, the editorialists should not be pointing at Jean Boyle but at David Collenette and Jean Chretien or their respective predecessors in office.

For almost two years the balance in political forces has been shifting away from the political correctness that apotheosized both “white” guilt and Indian grievances over lost lands, culture and self-government. Judges have been cutting down the grandeur of native claims, particularly in B.C., as witness the recent decisions against the absolute right of sale of fish caught by Indians.
Although Ron Irwin, the federal minister for aboriginal affairs, has never clearly expressed the government’s full appreciation of the so-called “inherent right of aboriginal people to self-government,” we can see that recognition by the federal government of Indian “nations” (of which we have over 500) as having international standing is out. Almost as certain is any status comparable to that of a province. And this boils down the destiny of the many native “nations” or governments to something analogous to municipal governments.
If the latter is it, then a constitutional question for the future is whether these municipalities will eventually be provincial or federal creatures. One should bet it will be “federal” even though “provincial” makes more sense.
I make this estimate of what is developing in native affairs because I sense senior politicians and bureaucrats at both the federal and provincial levels have come to realize both the growing divisiveness and confusion in the country over a plethora of “nations” and the costs, now astronomical and without any measurable ceiling.
If my judgment in this matter is sound then the main report of the royal commission on aboriginal affairs to be published in the next two months will be a media phenomenon for about two days. Then it will build shelf time in scores of libraries but never attain epic status or much implementing of its recommendations.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, August 28, 1996
ID: 12346288
TAG: 199608270116
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

WHITHER CANADA?

No, not another column fretting over Confederation, Quebec’s place in it, or how our Constitution might be reformed. Today I ponder Canada’s international role in the 21st century.
Regular readers know my disrespect for the line that Canada has played a unique and important role in world affairs. As four of my well-travelled relatives insist, Canada is famous abroad not for its statesmanship, generous foreign aid, or peacekeeping, but for its high standard of living and perceived open immigration. Recently these favorable comments have come to be interlaced with mentions of our high unemployment and taxes.
Canada’s international influence peaked in the ’60s. The slide since then has been most obvious in our security arrangements. Some relative decline was inevitable, as Europe recovered from the war and began to carry more of the security burden. But the 1960s’ defence cuts put an end to the notion of Canada’s “middle power” status, as we chose social programs over military spending. “Savings” from running hardware far too long became a tradition, witness today’s 30-year-old rescue helicopters which a recent inquiry deemed unsafe.
Slippage in Canada’s relative economic standing has been masked by its G-7 membership and the greater focus on America’s decline, especially during the days of the Japanese juggernaut. Canada’s initial G-7 membership was due to American intervention, and our claim to it has steadily eroded as other nations’ economies have grown.
As an industrialized country with only 30 million people Canada will soon be dwarfed by the rising economies of Asia. Recognition of this underlay the free trade agreements. Without them Canada would have been just one more little fish, shark-bait for the big ones the Pacific seems to be producing these days.
Unfortunately, our government seems incapable of providing leadership beyond the trade agreements. Instead, we get more breast-beating about our fine peacekeeping tradition and the success of the PM’s trade missions. Both are signposts for the future. Consider peacekeeping, the only raison d’etre this government can find for Canada’s forces.
Our peacekeepers served for a quarter of a century in Cyprus. Today, only a few years after their departure, Greek and Turkish Cypriots are once more killing each other. In Bosnian peacekeeping, Canada is the weak sister, thanks to military impotence and its prolonged opposition to tougher action. We are a small contributor to a powerful multinational force run by the big boys. Having relegated ourselves to the same league as Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden, nations a fraction our size, we boast. We should be ashamed.
DIMINISHED ROLE
Some argue that Canada’s world role has now diminished to irrelevance, and Jean Chretien comes close to admitting this with his remarks on the futility of a small country like Canada pushing human rights during his trade missions. We can’t help the people of East Timor, Burma or Taiwan – but if we keep quiet about them we might just make lots of money. Canada’s moral vacuity on such issues even hits home at home. Recall the humiliating spectacle of our beloved Mounties acting like Tiananmen stooges, keeping protesters blocks away from a visiting Chinese leader lest he see one and take umbrage. Is toadying to be Canada’s future?
Soon enough the Asian nations we so eagerly court will be setting the standards of international behavior. Why abdicate moral leadership beforehand? What sort of world is likely if those who come to run it hold that human rights are subversive?
Impetus for change in these societies must, and is, coming from within. When change comes, which side will Canada be remembered as having been on? If such change is not peaceful, if regional tensions boil over, will Canada be seen as having done all it could to keep the peace, including providing military forces commensurate to its size?
Like Canada, Australia has declared itself a Pacific nation, engaging its Pacific neighbors through trade, diplomatic and military contacts. Unlike Canada, it is making sure its voice is credible.
Australia fields 70 F-18 fighters (the same number Canada will soon have) and 72 powerful F-111 long range strike aircraft (Canada has no strike aircraft). Australia’s navy is similar in size to ours, but is getting six new submarines (Canada’s three 30-year old subs probably won’t be replaced). Australia already has defence relationships with a number of its neighbors. Budgetary pressures Down Under are similar to here (recently protesters broke into the Australian Parliament to protest social cuts). There are only 18 million Aussies, but they seem better prepared for the 21st century than we are.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, August 25, 1996
ID: 12345479
TAG: 199608230098
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C5
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THE BUCK NEVER STOPS

Here’s a quick end-of-summer quiz. What do the following have in common: LIFT, Teledon, SRTC, Mirabel, Pickering, St. Lawrence Seaway lands, the CPP?
Answer? 1) All were Ottawa creations. 2) Each makes a classic example of government gone haywire at great financial cost. 3) They argue that parliamentary and civil service reform are desperately needed. Any of you who surmised that each creation also helps explain why such reform never comes to pass score a bonus point.
For those who didn’t do well, a refresher. LIFT was a ’70s era program which Otto Lang, a Saskatchewan law school dean who became minister for the Canadian Wheat Board, created to assist Canada’s then cash-strapped grain growers. It paid them to take some of their land out of production. Not being a dumb lot, farmers quickly realized that by seeding marginal lands not previously farmed and then “removing” these from production they could increase the size of their LIFT cheques. Voila! Another cash cow was born.
Paying people not to work wasn’t the only bit of innovative thinking going on in the nation’s capital back then. Those breathing the rarefied air at the top found many odd ideas compelling, witness Teledon.
During the free-spending 1970s, one of the senior mandarins was Bernard Ostry. Then as now Ostry’s passion was television, and Teledon was his attempt at sharing this love with the rest of us. Teledon was to be a nation-wide electronic system of interactive TVs, located in virtually every school room, shopping mall and home, tied together by government computers. Ostry envisioned it replacing the railway as the tie that binds Canadians. Alas, the technology of the day wasn’t up to the job (as critics had warned). But Ostry and company gave it a damned good try, pouring millions into this proto-Internet with Big Brother overtones, before finally pulling the plug. Ostry went to another grand project: to merge all the federal museums into one administrative set-up. It happened, but not long after, the museums were pulled apart again.
BOOSTED ONLY THE DEBT
The Scientific Research Tax Credits program had a more political genesis, being the brainchild of Marc Lalonde’s finance ministry. Designed to encourage more private sector research, what it actually boosted was the national debt, as con artists lined up to take advantage of loosely written “research” definitons and laughable enforcement provisions to siphon billions from the public purse. The SRTC remains the largest fraud ever perpetrated on this nation’s taxpayers.
Mirabel, the airport that shouldn’t have been and Pickering, the one that never was, are classic examples of bureaucratic prognostication gone horribly wrong. So too was the Seaway lands mess, wrought by the same department. Here transport’s crystal ball gazers saw giant ships travelling through an expanded Seaway rather than jumbos landing in farmers’ fields. To ensure nothing kept this great vision from being realized, lands adjacent to the present Seaway were expropriated. When the government finally determined such an expansion unlikely, it ordered the lands returned to private use, wherever possible to previous owners. However, the dreamers at transport proved tenacious and resisted this order for years.
The virtual bankruptcy of the Canada Pension Plan in contrast results from a failure to exercise foresight. As a pay-as-you-go system, the plan was built on quicksand, and Canada’s declining birthrate meant that each year a little more water was added to the financial mix. No one in authority, political or bureaucratic, paid attention. Now? Crisis.
Why the trip through this house of horrors? To illustrate a point: no one in Ottawa is ever held accountable. To the best of my knowledge, not a single senior official involved in any of these disasters was ever reprimanded, much less fired. The political careers of the ministers involved did not suffer either. In Canada, the buck never stops.
It never will, until the public demands change. The players in the system – the PM and his staff, the cabinet and senior mandarinate – share one belief: that the status quo giving them a virtual monopoly on power is just fine.
Change will have to come from outside. Reformers used to talk about “reforming” Ottawa, but the slogan failed to catch and they seem to have lost heart. Too bad. Because for all the PM’s boasting, the public’s distaste for how official Ottawa operates – how it gets away with murder – remains.
A large constituency awaits the party that can put together a comprehensive plan for parliamentary and civil service reform (the two go hand in hand). Will anyone tap into it?

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, August 21, 1996
ID: 12698568
TAG: 199608200076
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

PM’S ALL BRAG AND NO ACTION

It’s hard to figure. Brian Mulroney is still Jean Chretien’s whipping boy; therefore, Jean Chretien should know that personal immodesty in a leader pyramids and becomes a political curse. And yet the prime minister has displayed major bragging in his recent trips to B.C., the Prairies and Nova Scotia.
Most of us appreciate Chretien is in the build-up for a federal election within 10, possibly 14, months. We know electoral readiness needs preparations. We understand why he is confident of the result, given figures from opinion polling. But why must he be so boastful? Are our affairs as a whole in such good shape? Is he the one who should be his own shill, bragging about a superb and “clean” cabinet, claiming mastery over high deficits, touting a rising economy and the large job growth in the past three years?
The PM has a handy majority in the House and has just achieved a majority in the Senate. He has almost a lock on the House seats in Ontario; nonetheless, he asserts his own splendid achievements and insists that he both deserves and will get more seats in B.C., Alberta Saskatchewan and Manitoba. He can hardly get many more in the Atlantic provinces.
But it is also worth noting that he hasn’t been into Quebec with his bragging and declaiming about all the seats he will get, and deserves to get, in his home province.
And we know why not. He’s not a swaggering success story in Quebec. Too many Quebecers would choke on the hyperbolic glorification of self and the regime he’s spreading elsewhere.
Chretien, his ministry and his caucus have much to be modest about.
Have they created a safer situation for national unity – for Quebec staying surely and permanently in Canada – than was the case when they took office in ’93? Is Stephane Dion anything close to a Pied Piper to lead away the separatist rats? No!
Have the Liberals, guided by Paul Martin, Jr. as minister of finance, done impressively well at reducing the annual federal deficits, let alone squaring up to a half a trillion debt burden? No! They’ve done moderately well on paring the deficits but nothing like as well as at least five of the provincial governments have been doing with parallel problems. Further, on financing ourselves, the Chretien government has almost reached acknowledgment that it never will do more than fiddle with the GST, the tax it was to abolish.
Have the Liberals in office noticeably reduced the unemployment rate? No! And this despite a strong growth in export trade, in large part owing to the trade agreement which the Mulroney government made with the U.S. over intense Liberal opposition.
NO REAL PROGRESS
Have the Liberals in office made real progress on several of the knottiest and costliest dilemmas of the federal government? For example, in native affairs? No! They’re spending over $8 billion a year in this field and we still don’t know what the Liberals’ Red Book backing for “the inherent right to self-government” given aboriginal people by “the Creator” really signifies.
For another example, take defence policy and a military which the Liberals intended to downsize and give more specific, manageable and less expensive roles. What have we now? Why, a defence minister who at best is confused and hesitant, a military that is in embarrassing tatters and a government whose defence policy seems shifting toward appendage behind a foreign policy establishment that is headed by a peacenik (and proud ot it).
For another example, take the CBC and its future. Are we clearer now than in Mulroney’s closing years what the federal government intends to do about the Mother Corp? Or, for that matter, about satellite-dish TV or the much-boomed “information highway”?
Take two somewhat petty but persistent examples of Chretien ineptitude, mentionable mostly because the Liberals made so much of them in the last campaign as Mulroney’s patronage and boondoggling: i.e., the wicked, private contract to develop and run Pearson airport and the scandalously high cost of a big purchase of helicopters for military and rescue purposes from a European consortium. On the airport shenanigans, with the parliamentary mismanagement of bills and legal suits progress has been zilch but the costs are soaring. On the helicopters, we’re not much closer to replacing antiquated aircraft and the savings have become an illusion.
A last grievance of the many which have been roused in me by Chretien’s bragging and his assumption he should have more seats has to do with Parliament itself. Have he and his ministers shown well in speeches and answers in the House or inspired a strong Liberal cast there? No! All he asks from his mob of MPs is applause and absolute loyalty. And he’s been consistently pettier with opposition MPS, trading cheap jibes, than any PM since John Diefenbaker.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, August 18, 1996
ID: 12698275
TAG: 199608160103
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C7
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

HOW CHAREST CAN SAVE THE FEDERAL TORIES

Jean Charest should have modest hopes as he heads toward the next federal election with a party whose core vote is at least 10% (and probably 3-4 points higher). This core means it will take a campaign of infinite stupidity to keep him from returning to the next House with at least a dozen MPs.
His wisdom, or lack of it, will be revealed in the next few months as he reacts to all the advice he’s been getting from within and without the Progressive Conservative party.
Should the federal PCs forsake their Red Tory heritage as so many young and allegedly conservative people advocate?
Or should they stress this record, contrasting the party’s past contribution to our welfare, health and cultural systems with those supposedly American themes of individualism, private enterprise and frugal government which seem in vogue, most clearly with the government in Ontario? Charest’s choice might be put in personality terms as taking either Dalton Camp or Mike Harris as mentor.
Should the leader emphasize his prospects as a credible interpreter of Quebecers’ aspiration to the rest of Canada and push the proposition of Quebec as a distinct society? Or is such a line and that particular slogan a killer west of Ontario?
Put another way, can a major party leader who is from Quebec advocate a policy of tough love for a Quebec which seems closer than ever to leaving the federation? That’s a cruel dilemma. In canvassing people, particularly known conservatives, I’ve been shocked to find so many brush past Charest’s charm and gift of gab in both English and French to the conclusion that this is not an opportune time for the Tories to have a leader from Quebec, in part because the ruling Liberals have one.
What profit in votes is there in another possible but more complicated line which Charest could take that might please both some federalists in Quebec and a good proportion of westerners, and would avoid having Quebec as its chief raison d’etre? This would be the advocacy of even more devolution of federal programs and powers to the provincial governments. In brief, take the line that it is no longer imperative there be a paramount federal role in welfare, health and cultural policies.
And what choices should Charest make about the Mulroney taint, first as it is identified with practices, second its hurtfulness to those who were MPs and ministers between 1984-93?
Should Charest take up one particular populist theme that burgeoned in the Mulroney years and has helped Preston Manning and the Reform Party? Should he promise to end generous perks for elected politicians and their staffs, and to stop making patronage appointments to the senate, bench, and to federal boards and commissions, and to stamp out every vestige of toll-gating contracts and orders?
All of the above-mentioned practices have been standard stock of the Liberal and Tory parties in power. They are seen as pernicious by so many plain folks with modest incomes. The huge press they got as repetitious witness to pork-barrel politics became a major curse for the Mulroney government (in which Charest was an integral minister). More voters are realizing Chretien is just as much a master at such practices as Mulroney. Are the votes of those against it worth courting? Or are such practices the very fibre of hope and promise that will draw and staff the renaissance of the PC associations?
The Mulroney taint is very challenging to Charest, and he hasn’t openly dealt with it effectively. Why do I think it good advice for him to do so?
In a rough and ready swing through a list of MPs for the House before this one I found some 50 Tories who I had considered able and useful to the caucus and in the House and its committees, and who are still not so old as to be past being able and useful in the next Parliament. Ex-MPs from almost every province! They include former ministers like Barbara McDougall, Charlie Mayer, Bill McKnight, Pierre Cadieux, Paul Dick, Shirley Martin, Allan Redway, Mary Collins, Bobby Sparrow, Garth Turner, and Jim Edwards. If the Mulroney taint can be borne, Charest could inspire some excellent former MPs to run such as Patrick Boyer, Don Blenkarn, Bud Bird, Rene Soetens, Rob Nicholson, Bill Attewell, Bill Gottselig, Ross Belsher and Jeff Wilson. And there are the many former Tory candidates, whose bids for nominations or just open participation at local and regional nubs of the party would sustain an impression the young leader has a modicum of good experience with him.
Ackowledging there has been a Mulroney taint of severe consequence for the party is necessary for a strong bid to come back to power. Don’t duck it, face it. Even flaunt it as a lesson learned.
Now my last nudge of advice for Jean Charest. In a political war against an entrenched enemy the attack should be almost wholly at it, i.e., the Chretien Liberals, and not at secondary and tertiary rivals like Reform and the NDP.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, August 14, 1996
ID: 12697817
TAG: 199608130116
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THE NEEDHAM PHENOMENON

Recently two elderly men died who once were public notables. Their obituaries skirted the subject of their influence on Canada. I thought each had a lot, even though I cherished neither man’s ideas. Today I sketch an argument of influence in one case – that of Richard Needham, columnist – after a brief notice of the other departed – Carl Goldenberg, lawyer and sage.
As adviser to PM Lester Pearson in the mid-1960s, Goldenberg was more responsible than anyone else that concerns over the inadequacy of our Constitution became so much an arcane exercise for experts. It would be legalists and scholars who both diagnosed the dilemmas in constitutional change and who handled the first ministers.
On this fundamental issue Canada did not get an open, democratic process which the political parties tackled as a matter which most citizens should know and understand. The people never really got into it until the Charlottetown referendum. Everyone deferred to the authorities whom Goldenberg both symbolized and represented.
Richard Needham was a loner, not at all an establishment man or elitist like Goldenberg, but he was a catalyst for social change as his views spread to thousands through his column in the Globe and Mail from 1964-87. After his death, the Globe ran several graceful, candid tributes to Needham and a spatter of letters from a few of those who remembered him fondly as mentor and stimulant.
A veteran reporter and editorial writer, he had reached his 50s when his personal humors and potpourris of literary gems and aphorisms from his fans became a feature in the lower right corner of the editorial page. He was 73 when the last column appeared, his farewell made in a brief, closing paragraph of gratitude “to all my correspondents for their praise and criticism … and to the Globe … for giving me what every writer wants – the liberty to say it just the way he saw it.”
It was through past experience as a librarian and teacher that I first realized the growing writ Needham was extending across Canada. I first met and talked with him at the home of one of his intimates and contributors. “Doll Schmoll,” as he tagged her, was “a titian-haired librarian who lives on College Street … and allows me to take out 187 books for as long as five years.”
YOUNG FOLLOWERS
His following was lively, young, and heavily but not wholly female. Its members, if not well educated, usually had literary interests. The Needham phenomenon spread most through reaching people in high schools and colleges. At the time the Globe was asserting it was Canada’s “national newspaper,” and I thought it an ironic paradox that its writer with the largest readership was far from an exemplar of the virtues inherent to the “paper of record.”
Needham’s column seemed to rile most of his colleagues, in the Globe and other papers. He didn’t care a whit for such opinion or for the criticism of the politicians, bureaucrats, educators and clergy he mocked or slighted.
To many critics, Needham’s “contests” with books or lunches or flowers as prizes seemed vapid or disconnected from any serious purpose, but they became a staple for talk and response in scores of kitchens and high schools. He scoffed at the usual community processes and institutions. He relentlessly berated the family, parenthood, and schools. He praised social rebellion by young people, particularly by girls and young women whom he saw as both the best and the least appreciated persons in a dull, restricting society.
As Needham was emerging as an unusual daily columnist with the Globe, the Toronto Star with its larger circulation was in a period celebrated for a galaxy of top columnists such as Peter Newman, Pierre Berton, Ron Haggart, Nathan Cohen and Robert Fulford. These were the media world’s stars then and in journalism’s retrospect, not Richard Needham. But through the late 1960s and early ’70s the premier columnist in terms of a responsive fandom was Needham. His vogue went on through most of the Trudeau era.
There was a confluence of sorts between Pierre Trudeau and Needham in 1968 and 1969, not in political ideas, but in style and the appeal to youth and women of a daring sociability, of flowers and wine, romance and amours. No one else in our journalism wrote so much on the intimate lives of girls and women – not, one should emphasize, as any apostle of feminism. But Needham did ready the ground for feminism and its spread. He ignored issues like equity in job status and income but encouraged the pursuit of romantic and physical love while deriding the drag of family, marriage, religion and education. He extolled individualism and scorned the collective.
In my judgment, given with regret, Richard Needham had more influence on our society than any other columnist of the postwar period.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, August 11, 1996
ID: 12697521
TAG: 199608090118
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C5
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

A MILITARY CLEANUP IS NEEDED, AND OVERDUE

What significance has the Somalia inquiry for the future of the Canadian military? The short answer is a lot. Unfortunately, the consequences may be several years in taking shape.
Some of us find the question more vital since the remarkably candid speech by Lt.-Gen. J.M.G. Baril, commander of our land forces. He stressed a determination to root out incompetent, unprofessional soldiers, no matter their rank.
In the August issue of Legion magazine, military historian Terry Copps puts the Somalia inquiry into a backward perspective. His main purpose is a succinct evaluation of the ceaseless controversy over the Dieppe raid 54 years ago this month. He concludes this way: “Experience obtained through the Dieppe raid made an important contribution to improving Allied doctrine.” That is, its lessons were valuable, despite catastrophic losses. But well before his conclusion he wrote:
“No other event in our history has attracted so much attention from historians, journalists and film makers. Part of this fascination is a product of our national character which seems uncomfortable with success stories and obsessively involved with failures. Today’s media focus on the tragic incidents in Somalia is another example of the attitude.” Indeed.
There is a similar sort of comment in a periodical, the Mackenzie Newsletter for July. It summarizes a recent article in the Defence Policy Review about the famous Dreyfus case in France a century ago which revealed how reactionary and distant from the public was the French officer corps. Its leaders undertook a prolonged insistence that a Jewish officer be the scapegoat for others’ treachery. Here are the words which bridge Dreyfus and the Somalia situation for Canada:
“Obviously, a scandal at the highest level of the military should never be taken lightly, and one could wonder how far things will go with Canada’s Somalia inquiry …
“Admittedly, parallels between the Dreyfus Affair and the Somalia inquiry are scant except that once again a coterie of senior leaders will not accept defeat. Those who winked at the condemnation of Dreyfus fought a five year battle to protect their honor though they were clearly wrong and knew it. They thought their own prestige and the status of the army and the civil service would be enough to compensate for shoddy work, and missing or fabricated files. The Somalia issue is no longer about a few discraceful punk paratroopers. It is now focused on the highest levels of the Canadian forces and on senior members of the civil service …
“Seemingly, a series of subordinates appear to have done what would please their masters instead of satisfying the military’s requirements for professionalism and integrity. Again, some generals look determined to refuse to admit they have done anything wrong – no matter how much damage the prestige of the military takes … Damage control is more important than truth. Yet, before we all rush to condemn our generals and leading civil servants, can we be sure their behaviors are unique? Might it be that the rot is far more widespread?”
In my opinion, the latter question is not far-fetched because we have had for too long a military with both a top-heavy officer corps and a defence department with too many senior mandarins. Both have been out of proportion to the other ranks in the military. Too many have had high salaries, the perks of upper rank or status, plus easy chances for both early golden handshakes and passage out to upper slots of government agencies or corporate suppliers.
My skepticism about the rank “bulge” zoomed on reading a “record of decisions” taken at an army council meeting last April. This record came to me from Scott Taylor, editor of Esprit de Corps. It is of a meeting four months ago. The chairman was Lt.-Gen. Baril, he of recent candor. He, seven other generals and a colonel on the council discussed “the impact of the Somalia incident and the inquiry on the army since 1993.”
In particular they canvassed the army’s loss of its image of integrity and credibility, and the effect that a “raised media credibility” may have on isolating the army from the military as a whole. The council decided: “We cannot continue to blame `others’ for the situation. The chain of command must accept responsibility, be accountable and be seen to do so.” The leadership must square up willingly to the situation and make “rapid and sweeping changes based on the core values of the army.”
In short, this meeting’s decisions defined what became both the form and substance of Baril’s speech a fortnight ago.
Why did it take almost four months for such honesty to come into the open? The gap speaks against any real sense of urgency. Or was it because of inordinate caution by David Collenette, minister of defence, concerned what such a latter day, high-level confessional would suggest about his three years as the ultimate master of our military?
Not long ago I hesitated about too much praise for Gen. Baril’s candor and the undertakings of sweeping changes to come. After all, he had had 30 years experience in the army and must have known it was going haywire.
Now, after noting the gap between April and late July, I suggest there should be no more delay by the government because of the Somalia inquiry. Cut, clean and reform the military now!

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, August 07, 1996
ID: 12697035
TAG: 199608060047
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

CHRETIEN’S SUMMER LOVE-IN

It has been a fair summer so far for our prime minister. Jean Chretien faces few internal party problems as his MPs gather around him today and tomorrow for what are essentially cheerleading sessions to firm up caucus loyalty and unity while sketching the general strategy and some particular tactics for ensuring the government’s re-election. The economy is fair, though not surging, with the NAFTA connection paying off and the deficit dropping, though not out of sight.
The election will be called some time in 1997. My bet would be the fall. But the prime element in the timing will be Quebec and the status there of Premier Lucien Bouchard. To skew a familiar biblical verse (Matthew, 16;26): What is Jean Chretien profited if he gains another majority government based on sweeping Ontario but is rebuffed by most voters in his own province?
Here’s my appraisal in four segments of the federal scenario as the ruling Liberals look beyond Labor Day into the next political year.
First, now some 33 months in office, the Liberal government is neither much hated (even in Quebec) nor much cherished anywhere.
A little better may be said for the PM in English Canada. He has engendered far less public dislike or distrust than Pierre Trudeau or Brian Mulroney at comparable times in their first reigns. Nonetheless, the grand writ Chretien had in the best-seller days of Straight from the Heart has long gone. His edge in being well-liked has dulled. So has much of the certainty that “here’s a great guy.” The country as a whole, however, hasn’t realized what the Liberal caucus now knows – the boss, for all his common denominator traits, is a mean, ruthless leader.
What most reduced the halo around Chretien in his early months as prime minister? Most of all the near loss of the referendum vote in Quebec last fall; and, secondarily, familiarity made banal by overexposure and emphasized by there being few lightning rods in his cabinet for either public admiration or rage.
Second, there are advantages for a prime minister, especially one as pragmatic and non-ideological as Chretien, in having a very undistinguished or ordinary cabinet, one that is not seething with discontent or severe differences over issues of huge import.
FEW CABINET STANDOUTS
Only three ministers have really stood out from the ruck so far – Paul Martin (finance), Douglas Young (human resources) and Allan Rock (justice) – but none seems either a divisive prospect at this stage or is posturing like a prime minister-in- waiting. Further, only Martin seems to have both the ambition and the royal jelly for the succession which will be talked about openly next year if Bouchard’s ratings in Quebec have not been sliding.
There are few media or caucus rumors extant about major cabinet changes. The last changes in the winter brought forward two new MPs ballyhooed as federalism’s champions in Quebec – Stephane Dion and Pierre Pettigrew. So far neither has been a bust nor given promises of paramount ranking as a great communicator.
Third, the caucus has its cracks but I would forecast they will not widen much, if at all, before the next election is called. Some might tag the differences as city vs. country stuff because of contradictory reactions within the caucus to legislation on gun control, sexual orientation and the tightening of unemployment insurance. The PM is already anticipating one “loss-leader” prospect in the pre-electoral scenario, i.e., fights for the proverbial Grit soul in constituency nominations by interest group candidates like homosexuals, anti-abortionists, tree-huggers and peaceniks. Chretien is undertaking to shepherd “sound” incumbents or new candidates of his choice around such obstacles. What many of the many ambitious back-benchers will be hoping for – but hardly this summer or fall – is a really substantial ministerial shakeup before the election is called, and that hope in itself keeps the caucus in line.
Finally, none of the rival leaders and their parties – BQ, Reform, Tory or NDP – seem ready and able, either in Parliament or across the country, to do critical damage to Chretien and his plans for re-election. Both the Tories and the NDP seem certain to regain a dozen or more seats next election, particulary the Tories in Ontario and the New Democrats in Manitoba and B.C. Reform is somewhat stalled, neither waxing nor waning, and Preston Manning’s hopes for a “wave,” while not hopeless, may be rather slim. Whether the BQ takes more or fewer seats in Quebec depends so much on how well Bouchard is doing and how he insinuates into the contest.
So the gathered Liberals are not in the very best of situations but are far from the worst of them. For the cameras it will be a love-in.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, August 04, 1996
ID: 12696714
TAG: 199608020150
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C3
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

BOOKS THAT DEFINE CANADA AT WAR

Summer is a great time for reading, particularly when rain is drumming on the cottage roof. My books this July were weighted toward war – notably the last big war.
The 1940s were my shaping years, and half a century later I keep returning to them, not so much because they made me but because in them the Canada of today crystallized and came on so well. Now, let me thumbnail four books which illuminate Canada and wars.
1) A Country of Limitations: Canada and the World in 1939, edited by Norman Hillmer, Robert Bothwell and others. These brief essays by 17 historians were published in paperback this year by the Canadian Committee for the History of the Second World War. About half the 295 pages note the economic conditions, political issues and swings of public opinion across Canada about the threats symbolized by Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito.
There are sketches of military preparedness (and its lack) in the three services, plus clear witness that our mandarins in Ottawa were less ready to join Britain in war than were either the English Canadians or Mackenzie King.
The prime minister was ultra-careful because of Quebec’s near isolation over conscription in World War I but he did recognize it was imperative to block German expansion and he began plans and raised spending for the military, particularly the navy and the air force.
The myth that the royal visit in the early summer of 1939 tightened the British ties and made going to war in September politically popular is somewhat debunked.
There is a controversy in the book between two of our best historians, Jack Granatstein and Terry Copps, on whether or not Canadians went readily to war, having decided independently that the cause justified the risks and the hard way ahead.
Copps says English Canadians accepted the threat and were not half-hearted. He uses material from Ontario papers and the politics of the time to show this. Granatstein says the issue of why we went to war boils down to this: we went because Britain went to war.
As he says: “In September, 1939 Canadians still felt a sense of obligation, however misplaced, to the Mother Country.”
Recklessly using my own memory, I agree more with Copps, because I was not pro-British before Dunkirk and 1940.
Each of the regional articles recalls how persistent the diversities within federalism have been. Current attitudes towards Canada and Ottawa among British Columbians and Quebecers have a haunting similarity to those of 1939.
2) The Guns of Victory, by George G. Blackburn. This is a sequel to The Guns of Normandy (1995) which sold well. I think the pair, together, make up the classic epic for Canadians on their soldiers in battle in World War II. The author’s graphic, personal focus provides fine but often scary episodes of action at “the sharp edge” where shells explode, tanks burn and men are wounded or killed and sometimes break down.
This volume will be published by McClelland & Stewart (next month). The proof copy I have has some 500 pages. The daily work and survival of a forward fire control officer within an artillery regiment with 25-pounder guns is meshed with the grand context of the First Canadian Army and its long, costly slog to clear Channel ports, open Antwerp, free Holland, breach the Siegfried Line and jump the Rhine.
3) George Grant: Selected Letters, edited with an introduction by William Christian, is out in paperback from the University of Toronto Press. Through 400 pages the letters complement Prof. Christian’s fascinating 1993 biography of the conservatively minded philosopher who was forced to national prominence with his best-selling Lament for a Nation (1965).
How good is Grant as a letter writer? In my judgment even better than the former diplomat and diarist, the late Charles Ritchie. One makes the comparison because both wrote well about London in the early ’40s and Grant’s letters on the Blitz are marvellous. This is an academic book, however, edited by an erudite scholar, so there’s immense detail in footnotes.
George Grant came from one of Canada’s most prominent families and he knew and has opinions on most of his contemporaries in the arts, politics and the universities. These letters should also become a Canadian classic.
4) Fields of Battle: The War for North America, by John Keegan, has just been published by Knopf, New York and it’s well on the way to stardom. Keegan, a Brit, has become the best-known military historian in the western world on the strength of good prose, fascinating, succinct description and an exciting ease in describing and criticizing themes and ideas. He genuinely likes Americans. While he doesn’t belittle them he never glosses their imperfections and failures in this swing through the contentions played out across the continent through 300 years.
His range in this book is over a well-explained geography and its rivers and heights of land. It embraces Canada and Mexico (in a lesser way). I found his chapters on the westward push of explorers, traders, and settlers as good as anything I’ve read before. He knows and explains the French as the Americans’ forerunners in exploring and exploiting the lands beyond the Appalachians, and also their part in ensuring not all America became American. I wish he’d given more time to the eventual bottling up in a Catholic, inward-looking enclave along the St. Lawrence of those who had ranged over the continent long before the Gold Rush of 1848 or covered wagons on the Oregon trail.
The author, with brevity and authority, synopsizes the various Indian wars, the Mexican war, the U.S. Civil War and the several American invasions of Canada. His readers come to understand the American penchant when at war for lavish spending, vast supplies and a profligate attitude to casualities.
Overall, this is a fast-paced, captivating swatch of history.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, July 31, 1996
ID: 12696182
TAG: 199607300145
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

MORE BANG FOR SPORTING BUCKS

Canada at the Atlanta Olympics has sparked a raft of articles on our shortcomings in sports excellence. But so did previous postwar Games. The questioning now swings, however, around governmental funding for sport.
Have the sharp cuts in the last three years been bleak for the numbers and quality of Canadian competitors? Much like their opposite numbers in arts and letters, many sports leaders argue the severity of the slashing means a slide from a respectable to a peripheral rating in world terms.
My hope is an open reappraisal of governments’ responsibilities for sport, and on what hasn’t gone well in the ambitious federal program for sport launched in 1969. I worked hard on that program, helping draft and implement it. We put so-called amateur sport into the federal “trough” alongside music, drama and literature which got there a decade earlier, courtesy of the Massey Commission.
From 1969-79 federal sport spending moved from some $3 million to $50 million a year; then it inched almost to $80 million, although freezes and cuts now have it below $50 million.
As soon as Ottawa undertook to finance the administrative structure of national sport groups in 1969, most provincial governments surged in to do the same for the provincial counterparts of such assocations. By 1975 most provinces had a nucleus of sport officials, plus a housed and serviced set-up for most active provincial associations. Together the provinces now put far more money into sport than Ottawa, often using lottery profits.
Oh, how quickly we built and regularized a sport bureaucracy across Canada. In two decades the numbers rose from 100 or so full-time sports officials to more than 4,000. And their salaries, security and travels have been soaking up much of the annual government funding. We got organized sport off kitchen tables into office towers, expected miracles in participation and trophies – and haven’t had them.
The organization of sport in Canada mimicks the federal system and our Constitution. So, ideally, Ottawa should focus on national and international competition and venues, which means on world class excellence in abilities and results. Of the quadrennial Games schedule – the Olympics, Pan-Am, Commonwealth and Canada Games – only the last directly involves the provincial governments and their sport responsibilities. And ideally the provinces should focus more on mass participation and the early development of athletes.
GOOD FACILITIES
Since 1970 the most fruitful results of the twinned push by our governments has been the creation of good facilities across the land (and more from the Canada Games than the Montreal or Calgary Olympics). I estimate 75% of our population is in daily reach of quality pools, gyms, tracks, rinks, courts and playing fields. Few cities in the U.S. comparable in size to Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Regina, Medicine Hat and Victoria have so much in easily accessible facilities.
Such a fine, broad infrastructure for play and training has not meant either the quantity or quality in participants that we expected. Our recruitment of promising youth has faltered. So has promotion of athletes and teams below the pro levels. Most seriously of all, we’ve had very modest progress in coaching science and personnel. Coaching quality varies widely from sport to sport. Though coaching numbers and specialization are ahead of 1969 levels we are still short of able, continuing coaches. It bothers me as one who helped found the Coaching Association of Canada that coaching is still far from recognition as a worthy, full-time profession.
In hindsight, what better might we have done?
1) Full backing should have gone to fewer sports; similarly, bigger but fewer grants sholuld have gone to individal athletes.
2) Both the federal and the provincial focus should have been fixed more on the sports which cost the least in facilities and equipment and bring out the most participants. Leave to itself any sport with high costs and a meagre constituency.
3) Governments should be very chary in aiding individuals in “instrument” sports such as tennis, golf, skiing and figure skating, largely because they get readier backing by parents and often from gate and TV receipts.
4) Require all directly funded athletes in sports where attaining star level means high incomes to pledge a return through contribution to an athletes’ fund.
5) Governments here should begin to press, the Canadian Olympic Committee and our major sport associations to work at returning international games to a saner quantity of competition and less extravagance in spending.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, July 28, 1996
ID: 12695774
TAG: 199607260178
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C3
ILLUSTRATION: photo by Reuter
ACTING UP … Hurling red food dye at International AIDS Society members during the Vancouver conference 2 1/2 weeks ago landed members of the San Francisco group ACT UP in jail. Stunts like this contribute to reduced public sympathy for the AIDS movement.
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

AIDS MOVEMENT IS LOSING POWER

Turn back to the recent AIDS conference in Vancouver and the absence of the prime minister.
It may seem cruel that anything to do with such a perilous infection should be put in terms of this question: Was it politically stupid or astute of Jean Chretien to stay away from the gathering? He neither offered a plausible exuse nor begged a prior engagement.
Those who think his decision was stupid underline the power exercised in the global and the Canadian media of what is called “the AIDS movement.” They have noted the picketing and barracking that Chretien subsequently faced from activists, plainly set on turning his “no-show” into enough political hurt to force a counter-balancing decision by the government to sustain funding for AIDS research.
Some who rate the PM’s absence as stupid have tagged him as cowardly and a reactionary. They think he rebuffed the conference because its enveloping texture was of homosexuality and its practices, and the PM knows anti-homosexual prejudice and discrimination run deep across Canada.
Surprisingly, many who see the no-show as smart politics underline the same point about prejudice. But their contrary conviction begins with the slender sliver of homosexuals in Canadian demographics, and then they point to opinion polling that confirms popular misgivings at trenchant homosexual behavior. They cite recent legislative witness to the antagonisms such as the defeat of the Bob Rae government’s bill on homosexual rights or the deep split in Chretien’s own caucus over his government’s recent bill on sexual orientation which levered him into making its passing a free vote. They think only a political naif would believe a majority in a national plebiscite would ever approve such a bill.
As a reader monitoring reaction in print to AIDS in Canada and elsewhere in the Western world, I would say the balance has been shifting away. Too many think that AIDS has gotten ahead of more serious menaces to Canadians’ health.
Despite the tragedy of the Canadians infected through faulty blood supply, I think many read the AIDS situation this way: The prevalence and infection is largely confined to people who engage in homosexual acts.
Some, reaching this view, may have taken the line about “the wages of sin” for behavior which Western laws have condemned for centuries. Others, less moralistic but aware now of the huge proportion of homosexuals in Canada who have been getting HIV infections, cannot accept that AIDS should have so much priority in health education and research sponsored by our governments when there is such an obvious way to avoid AIDS. Males should not engage in anal and oral sex.
I sense that consciousness among Canadians vis-a-vis AIDS and homosexuality has parallels to tobacco as a health menace and a personal choice, and I also sense a growing rejection of the political correctness of liberalism that has prevailed here for years.
The imprint of correctness on AIDS has been most thoroughly demonstrated by Lord Thomson’s Globe and Mail since William Thorsell assumed editorial leadership.
Meanwhile, there has been a persistent advocacy for homosexual rights on CBC-TV’s news and commentary. For example, CBC news typecast those MPs who voted against the Liberal’s bill on sexual orientation as reactionaries.
As a long-time addict of tobacco I’m glad I quit but I remain sympathetic to those who cannot. There has been a long campaign, sanctioned by governments of every order against tobacco use. One hears so often: Why should smokers get away with saddling themselves, their neighbors, and organized society with the fearsome costs of their habits?
This attitude now has a parallel with the majority of Canadians asking rhetorically: Why should the state spend many millions to counter a deadly infection that has been spreading in Canada mostly through unsafe sex?

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, July 24, 1996
ID: 12695195
TAG: 199607230110
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

MILITARY SWEEP NEEDS NEW BROOM

Like the drunk who won’t concede he has a problem, those leading Canada’s armed forces have for the past three years offered excuses to explain away scandal. Isolated incidents were the product of a few bad apples in the ranks, other embarrassments merely figments of the hostile media’s imagination.
Then last week army commander Lt.-Gen. Maurice Baril broke with DND’s tradition of ducking and weaving. He acknowledged the obvious: The army is afflicted with a leadership crisis and therein lies the root of its many real problems. The confession was as welcome as it was overdue, for like the alcoholic, our ailing military must recognize the nature of its crisis before it can heal itself. But as any drinker will tell you, taking the pledge is the easy part.
Baril’s prescription to restore the necessary values and correct approach to leadership begins with removing from command responsibilities any leaders, be they officers or NCOs, who have displayed unacceptable behavior. This marks a refreshing change from the careerist position taken by his own minister, who has expressed an unwillingness to judge officers and relieve them of command before the military justice system and Somalia Inquiries have taken their full, laborious – and according to Baril – sometimes stymied courses.
The Lt.-Gen. is bringing in an outside specialist – a former RCMP assistant commissioner – to examine how investigations into the military mayhem, perpetrated by members of the 12th Armored Regiment, on the workers and residents of a Bosnian mental hospital were sidetracked. This belated recognition of how powerless the military police seems in the face of stonewalling by those under investigation is welcome. However, some important questions will likely remain unaddressed. Should the military continue to have its own police force and system of justice? (I believe it should.) If yes, how can their independence be safeguarded and how far should their jurisdiction extend?
BETRAYAL OF TRUST
Baril expressed his belief that truth, duty, and valor along with the moral courage to do what is right rather than what is fashionable, must be at the core of our military’s ethos. But one wonders, what does he then make of those at DND HQ who have taken advantage of badly designed downsizing programs to top up their bank accounts? Or of those who write reports about this practice focusing not on the moral vacuity of those involved or the betrayal of the taxpayers trust, but on the PR hazards posed should the auditor-general find out?
The armed forces selection, training and promotion systems for officers and NCOs have allowed many to attain commands who do not share Baril’s values. Restoring these systems to health is the most vital task, but unfortunately all our would-be doctors are products of these same systems. As previously noted here, other nations have hired former Canadian generals to advise them on military matters. We should follow their lead and bring in outside specialists. A small panel of general rank officers from allied nations with similar traditions of civil-military relations could advise the government on reforms in these areas.
Military leadership problems are not limited to the army. Officer training for all three branches has been a co-operative effort since unification in the 1960s. It shows. The air force and navy have had to endure their own embarrassing courts martial, revealing unit commanders drinking on the job and mistreating subordinates. Perhaps most alarming of all, in off-the-record comments a senior allied commander in the Gulf War has told of insubordination and unwillingness to fight on the part of senior Canadian officers in these services.
Ensuring that those who cannot or will not lead are no longer tolerated requires a sea change in the thinking of the entire military. Baril has spoken for the army. The other service commanders must join him if the good name of the entire Canadian Armed Forces is to be restored. The Lt.-Gen. has made a start, leading to speculation he will succeed Gen. Jean Boyle as Chief of Defence Staff. This brings me to what was sadly absent from his comments.
Baril opened his statement: “After almost 10 months as commander of the Canadian army, I now feel that I have a solid understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of our land force.” Former Airborne captain and current defence analyst Nicholas Stetham has said of the military’s travails: You wonder how on earth officers and senior NCOs let this happen.
Exactly. How was it that the good Lt.-Gen. did not notice the systemic failure in military leadership he identified last week during his previous 30 years of service?

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, July 21, 1996
ID: 12694867
TAG: 199607190086
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C4
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

COCKY ALLAN ROCK HURTS HIMSELF//CANADA’S JUSTICE MINISTER HAS TASTED CONTROVERSEY BUT …

One of Ontario’s many QC’s has asked me to “review” the Justice Minister on “his lack of judgment,” particularly on three files which he thinks show Allan Rock’s inadequacies: The Pearson airport legislation; the Airbus-Mulroney affair; and the Krever blood inquiry.
As I sum Rock, he has a distaste for detail that sprawls and little time or wit with critics. His success at verbal sparring lets him believe that he has mastered his opponents.
Of course, a rising politician must counter critics but he also should learn from them, admitting – if only to himself – that occasionally they are right. Not Rock.
His touted gun control legislation was opposed by a wide range of individuals, groups, and provincial governments. Rock was pushed into this priority by Eddie Goldenberg, Jean Chretien’s prime handler, and it seemed a winner.
How effusively Rock blew past the gun lobby, the aborigines, the provincial solicitors-general, and the police. It was nonsense to argue the projected controls would be costly and of doubtful effectiveness.
Yet, a year after passage, the legislation remains an empty promise, the regulations to give it force now withdrawn for re-tooling. Competence?
Another failing of Rock is unfortunate in a justice minister. Although a champion of minority group rights, he takes a narrow view of individual liberties, especially where these conflict with the needs of the state or the Liberal Party.
What do the various Airbus court cases, the Pearson Airport mess, and the collapse of the government’s war crimes efforts have in common? Each has seen the minister and his staff argue that the rights of the individuals involved should be abridged so the government can get on with its agenda.
In the Airbus case, Justice Ministry lawyers argue the legal protections against unlawful search and seizure, which one enjoys under both common law and the 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms, do not apply if the government can get at your records and property from outside the country. Although Justice and the courts must scrutinize police work within our borders, beyond them their actions are not the concern of either the minister or his department.
Further upsetting the notion of fundamental justice, Rock’s lawyers argue that while you may be innocent until proven otherwise in Canada, the government can call you a criminal outside the country with impunity, should it get them assistance from a foreign power.
Bullying by Justice recently ruined its own cases against alleged war criminals.
The assistant deputy minister responsible for war crimes prosecution was frustrated by what was, in his view, undue credence given by the presiding judge, James Jerome, a former Liberal MP and House Speaker, to technical issues raised by defence. He got a private session with Jerome’s superior, Chief Justice Isaacs, and complained about the delays. Isaacs agreed to pass on these concerns. When this end run became public, the court proceedings were turned over to Justice Cullen (a former Liberal cabinet minister), who stayed them on the grounds the meeting had been an outrageous breach of conduct prejudicial to the defence.
Fiddling with judges is an all-time no-no. In light of the Airbus and Pearson cases, however, one can understand how the unthinkable happened. We have a minister and staff so busy pushing his agenda there isn’t time to fret over rules.
In the war crimes snafu, Justice admits improper actions but neither the ADM nor Chief Justice Isaacs have been sacked.
A minister of a department so far off-track has to take responsibility, not immediately hand off the buck to another ruddy inquiry.
Rock now looms as a menace to citizens at large and to his own government. Ironically such an image of him was first cast before me almost two years ago by a few Liberal MPs from hinterland ridings.
Two closing notes on the travails of Rock.
Firstly, the parliamentary system needs an open examination by politicians on why so many federal inquiries are in trouble, usually long overdue, with costs running wild and their purposes fouled – e.g., the Somali and the Krever inquiries.
Why this fetish for arm’s length, legalistic inquiries which drag and screw up?
Why don’t the politicians do the inquiries and studies through parliamentary means?
Secondly, and more personally, Rock has been asked about exchanges with journalists in his early days as Justice Minister about malfeasance in the Mulroney government. From this, many Hill media now think one of his failings is not remembering the facts.
Sun colleague Sean Durkan thinks Rock must be moved away from Justice.
Durkan didn’t suggest a portfolio. I would: Indian Affairs – perfect for an articulate, clever lawyer from Toronto.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, July 17, 1996
ID: 12223106
TAG: 199607160086
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

CHRETIEN LOOKS TO LAURIER

Did you notice for whom Jean Chretien placed a wreath and gave a speech in praise last week? It was for Sir Wilfrid (yes, “frid”) Laurier, prime minister from 1896-1911, and the first French-Canadian prime minister. It was 100 years ago that Laurier won power, defeating the disorganized remnants from the late Sir John A. Macdonald’s regime which had held office since 1878.
The recent ceremonies regarding Laurier underline something that has been happening to Chretien as prime minister. In effect, he has discovered history books and a concern for how he will rate in its future texts. Naturally he would like to shape the role and repute he wants in history. And so he heralds Laurier “as the most ardent Canadian of his time,” and one “who wanted Canada to become the first modern nation to celebrate its diversity, to practise tolerance, generosity, and openness.”
It seems to me the wreath and speech last week were more than partisan exploitation by a Liberal prime minister of a former Liberal prime minister who has a good rating in history. Chretien is defining his role, notably on national unity, through parallels to Laurier. At first this may surprise the historically-minded because of the remarkable difference in their personal bearings and styles.
Over the years Chretien has chastened a few journalists and even his senior counsel, Mitchell Sharp, for written or spoken comments to the effect that he reads little, including few books. I took, and still take, his insistence that he is a substantial reader as an unnecessary bid to be taken very seriously by a man who is very smart and quick but who learns mostly by listening, watching, and in discussion, not by reading. I first learned this in the ’70s from one who worked for him. “It’s amazing,” she would say, “what he absorbs from meetings and briefings, and his memory is very good.”
Two journalists who have interviewed Chretien this year told me later about his several references to Laurier and to books about him. He drew his parallels to Laurier, including popularity in English-speaking Canada and an emphasis on a Canadian patriotism.
Last month in winding up an evening honoring two retiring Liberal senators of distinction, Keith Davey and Allan MacEachen, Chretien figuratively floored me with a rather learned, accurate statement about the splendid basis for modern Canada advanced in the Liberal Party’s program of 1919, produced at the convention which chose Mackenzie King to succeed Laurier as Liberal leader.
UNDERTOOK NATIONAL SOCIAL NET
In simple language, the platform undertook the creation of a national social net through pensions and health insurance. Of course, its latter day parallel is the Red Book which Chretien unveiled in the last election and, in time, whose promises he shall keep.
As one fond of our history I am delighted at Chretien’s growing awareness of it, even if it may seem self-serving politics. I also savor his recall of 1919 and 1896 because I have copies of what I’ve called since 1993 the first and the second Liberal Party Red Book.
The second one came out after Mackenzie King won the Liberal leadership in 1919. It recounts events of the convention, including the heartfelt tributes to the late Laurier, the speeches of the candidates, and the balloting. More significant for posterity, it outlined the party program approved by delegates which Chretien rather ironically noted had taken subsequent Liberals like Allan MacEachen almost half a century to complete.
As for the first Red Book, which Laurier took into office a century ago, the program was far simpler than either King’s or Chretien’s. The emphasis was on contrast to the Macdonald Tories – Free Trade as against their high tariff policy, and a promise to seek a reciprocity deal with the U.S.
The book exalted Laurier: “In Quebec he is loved, in Ontario he is honored, the great west received him with enthusiasm, the men of the eastern provinces responded to his persuasive eloquence … He is simply a strong, clean-handed, honest-hearted Canadian who knows no province or race or creed.”
A confounding retrospect of Laurier’s 15 years in power is that he left office with the broad respect of the Canadian people in spite of his government’s failures and moral tawdriness. He was seen as an honest proponent of Canada as a whole, not of a region or of big interests.
It seems obvious why Chretien is matching with Laurier. He underlines his great predecessor’s confidence that the 20th Century would be Canada’s; and that having come to pass, what fools would turn from success as a whole to division into parts for the 21st Century?

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, July 14, 1996
ID: 12222499
TAG: 199607120128
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C7
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

LIBERAL FOOLS REPEAT HISTORY

Have the Chretien Liberals no folk memory? In 1968 Pierre Trudeau won a strong mandate for a youthful, vigorous innovative government. Four years later in the 1972 election the government was almost whipped by Bob Stanfield and his Tories.
How could such a charismatic leader and an enterprising cabinet blow such a big edge in so short a time?
One of the major reasons, among a half-dozen good ones, was the Trudeau creation in 1970 of Information Canada. It was a stupid endeavor, poorly sold. It had been recommended by a quickie task force on information set up to develop a plan in response to Trudeau’s belief that Canadians, and not just in Quebec, didn’t know enough about the roles, services, and accomplishments of the federal government.
InfoCan was created by a vote in the estimates, not by legislation, and began with a budget of some $7 million and a mandate with a long list of objectives, including the co-ordination and management of all the public relations (PR!) operations and the publishing (Queen’s Printer!) of the federal government.
The first minister responsible for InfoCan was Robert Stanbury, a handsome Torontonian who soon demonstrated his sagacity fell far short of his looks – and quite remindful to me of Sheila Copps, the minister responsible for InfoCan II.
The first director in 1970 was a well-known, controversial Liberal party stalwart with much press experience, Jean-Louis Gagnon. This “bon vivant” of renown had just ended a role as a substitute co-chairman of the notorious and very costly Bilingualism and Biculturalism Commission by failing to complete its final report because of disagreements within the commission over Quebec’s role in Canada. Of course, the B and B was launched by Pearson when he took office in 1963 to face the intrinsic Canadian dilemma of unity or “What does Quebec want?”
Unfortunately, Gagnon was known both as a boon companion and an expense-account entertainer by many eminent journalists.
ONCE AN ACTIVE COMMUNIST
Even more distracting to some critics than Gagnon as a high-liver was learning that he had been an active Communist before he became a Liberal. His deputy-director was R.A.J. Phillips, a former foreign affairs official but more renowned in the upper mandarinate as a brilliant radical and close friend of Tom Kent, the top protagonist of new Liberal programs in the Pearson years. Not only did most editorialists in English Canada take InfoCanada as the propaganda arm of the Liberal Party. Stanfield promised Canadians one of his first acts upon winning office would be the abolition of InfoCan.
Most unfortunate of all, InfoCan was not welcomed in Quebec, even though it was depicted by some in English Canada as a patronage sump for francophones. Week after week through the election campaign of 1972, InfoCan’s mishaps were chronicled and satirized.
We don’t know whether it was a tough minister or a party apparatchik like Keith Davey who convinced Trudeau that InfoCan should be wound down, but it was, gradually. Gagnon was despatched to Paris to be our UNICEF representative and Phillips was given a less-obtrusive metier for his talents as director of Heritage Canada.
Almost from its inception, InfoCan I was a debit for the Liberals, and particularly so for the prime minister because its rather patronizing purposes mirrored his own arrogance and highly-educated state. Or so claimed his rivals. InfoCan ranked with or ahead of all the “participatory” democracy failures of the Trudeau government like the Company of Young Canadians and “regional desks.”
Not only have the Liberals returned to InfoCan, giving it the tag “Canada Information Office,” they have let it be fronted by the most notoriously partisan member of the cabinet and one as weak as the original minister in talking either cogently or coherently. The first director this time, Robert Collet, a Franco-Manitoban and a senior federal official engaged in citizenship matters and with past teaching experience, is a relative unknown compared to Jean-Louis Gagnon, but his mandate is almost identical with the original one: “… to help Canadians better understand each other and to build a better Canada.” May his chore be long and fruitful but bet on neither.
A critic of this column may well label it unfair because the Liberals will have learned from the earlier information fiasco. Such optimists should read Chretien’s announcement, particularly his emphasis that this fulfils a recent Throne speech promise on unifying Canada; then turn to the inability of Copps to explain what InfoCan is to do. Of course, she also insisted InfoCan would not be partisan or a place of patronage.
How gullible they think we are.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, July 10, 1996
ID: 12221382
TAG: 199607090118
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

DOWN AND UP IN OTTAWA

Occasionally what has gone down in Ottawa goes up. Witness the long career of Jean Chretien. Or better notice one of his ministers is bobbing up – more accurately, is being moved up – from the bottom of the cabinet ladder.
Four recent stories have praised David Anderson, MP for Victoria, and the man who replaced Doug Young as Transport Minister in the mid-winter cabinet shuffle. The same wonder was in each piece: This fellow, 58 years of age, and a noted dunderhead of the Chretien front-bench as minister of National Revenue, is now a cabinet stalwart and a pivotal influence as the Liberals’ top British Columbian.
This quick transition is a fair example of how loud, resolute partisanship in Question Period impresses the press.
Cabinet secrecy is intrinsic to the parliamentary system. We never see a minister with his or her peers in cabinet or its committees, or in dealings with the civil service mandarins. We do see a minister at work if he pilots a contentious bill through the House – e.g., Allan Rock with gun control – and perhaps once a session in putting his or her “estimates” to a House committee. Most ministers do give public speeches but these are almost always written for them and are rarely reported. So reporters, without good, open chances to appraise a minister’s capabilities, usually form a consensus on good or bad ministers on their Question Period behavior.
Anderson was experienced in both the House and the B.C. legislature before he made it back to Ottawa in 1993 and a cabinet place. He first came to the House in 1968, heralded as an ambitious, upward mobile from External Affairs and an environmental zealot.
BUMBLING AND CONFUSED
Twenty-five years later he returned again, augmented by a beard and a shaggy mane. He still had a deep baritone voice and swatches of big words. In 1993 the edge was taken off expectations he would be a major presence by the derision about him in Vancouver from his failed sashay in B.C. politics. But even his home-area critics were taken back by Anderson’s ineptitude in Question Period. Time and again he would bumble disjointedly, confused by a question or unable to frame a good answer. He dawdled on withdrawing a personal suit against the government as though he couldn’t see its conflict. He became the butt of both opposition raggers and of reporters assigned to the foot of the cabinet ladder with two even worse Question Period performers: Michel Dupuy and Dianne Marleau.
I thought Anderson to be awkward in the open but hardly as pathetic as Dupuy and Marleau. Much as he yawed and veered, he grasped his responsibilities better than the obtuse Dupuy or the hesitant Marleau. Nevertheless, he and they were the chief press nominations for exits from the ministry. But that was a few months ago.
Why have four journalists decided Anderson is really an asset for the party in power? In small part because at Transport he announces decisions on tangible matters, but largely because he was so bumptious in the House the fortnight before the summer recess. He rebuked with roars of sustained, mock outrage the Reform MPs who pressed him about the fiasco in the Senate where the government lost its bill to limit damage claims of the developers whose contract for Pearson airport was cancelled. Without wit or subtlety, Anderson insisted his government was determined to keep some $600 million of the taxpayers’ money from the developers. And with such rude repetitions, a minister of straw is now a minister of steel.
Meantime, reporters have been dropping several other ministers down the figurative ladder: Allan Rock in Justice, David Collenette in Defence, Sergio Marchi, recently shifted to Environment from Immigration, and Fred Mifflin, Brian Tobin’s successor in Fisheries and Oceans. Mifflin has hardly had a fair chance but given the bitterness among fishermen on both coasts he may never get one.
Rock has been literally the busiest and most exposed minister with much test legislation and many touchy issues. He strikes me as more than articulate enough to move up the ladder again. Below Collenette at Defence there is open evidence of a distraught military service that he seems unable to explain, let alone straighten out. Marchi’s troubles come from the wide gap between his high ambitions and the low chances of funding for major programs at Environment.
As this trio ponder their drop down the media’s cabinet ladder, they do have David Anderson’s resurrection before them, achieved mostly by stentorian partisanship in the House.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, July 07, 1996
ID: 12220772
TAG: 199607050137
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C4
ILLUSTRATION: 3 photos
VIEWER FAVORITES … Television hosts Nancy Wilson, Wendy Mesley and Pamela Wallin provide Canadians with much of their political insight.
COLUMN: Backgrounder
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

A VERY POLITICAL MEDIUM//MORE AND MORE, THE INFORMED VOTER RELIES ON TELEVISION

Politicians know most of their constituents do not get their politics of issues or personalities from print or radio sources but mostly from TV news and commentary.
Is such progamming useful and substantial? The briefest answer is: yes.
A print journalist will chew the edges of TV’s dominance over politics by insisting those who put together TV programming depend largely on print sources, in particular on dailies for material and ideas, and often for commentary on newspaper reporters and columnists. But this just emphasizes how much we who work in print are handmaidens to the Canadian political medium.
Can a citizen get enough about politics from what’s on TV to make him or her the proverbial good citizen? The brief answer is yes, with a qualifier that the viewer needs access to cable channels, notably to both CBC Newsworld and the CPAC channel. But the thesis that TV has all a good citizen needs itself needs elaboration. Begin with my opinion that he or she who would achieve such a worthy democratic state could do it quicker with less viewing and a modicum of reading a metropolitan daily.
My watch on federal politics reaches back three decades, beyond the first televising of the House of Commons in 1977 (which immediately made bites from the oral question period a staple of TV news). Before TV I met many who would complain how hard it was to get enough sound and “fair” information to judge major issues and to evaluate politicians and their parties.
One emphasizes “fair” because so many citizens in my years on the path of politics have felt the print medium tilts political news – and even conceals some of it. A lot of people put more confidence in TV because they may make up their own minds about a politician they can see and hear up close.
My first response to the complainers was that being an informed citizen began with them, not with a government or a politician, or a network or a newspaper. Only a minuscule number of Canadians has ever had any genuine excuse for not knowing much about politics and government. Politicians are almost always at hand for them in MPs, MPPs, aldermen, etc. So are subscriptions to Hansard or a daily paper or regular newscasts on radio. Most communities have had wings of federal parties. Each party has had policy statements. And anyone who reads an occasional American or British daily or scans the TV fare in the U.S. and the U.K. soon realizes our political stuff gets relatively more time and space in both our electronic and print media.
Today, those in the some 75% of households which are hooked to a cable system can view programs through almost all hours of the day about politics, overwhelmingly about federal politics, or which show – especially on CPAC and in a lesser but still substantial way on Newsworld – the performances by politicians and the views of a diversity in experts, senior bureaucrats, and journalists.
Each weekday in the late afternoon on Newsworld Don Newman and Nancy Wilson have been hosting at least an hour fixed on national politics. If it were in prime time and available to almost all viewers I would consider it the most prime of all TV programs in its continuing examination of most topical political issues. Neither host is over-opinionated or too rough or too easy in interviews. The serious Newman has a big informational edge over any other CBC on-air person, or for that matter, on CTV, Global or Baton. Wilson’s sprightlier but a quick “learn” who’s getting better at firm, direct interviews like Pamela Wallin used to do on Canada A.M. before she went big league and super-challenging with the CBC.
In passing, I note that Wallin’s evening hour on Newsworld, now in summer repeats, has been far more about songs and sex than politics, although the host brings back occasionally the glib trio of surrogates for party leaders from her previous programs – Hugh Segal, Michael Kirby and Gerry Caplan.
One can get far more politics, sometimes as often as three times a week, from another Newsworld program, The Lead, with Alison Smith, who is by and large an innocuous interlocutor who presents an issue for the day and talks with politicians or lobbyists about it.
Face Off, another Newsworld regular, pokes at national political issues about half the time, using a routine pair of left and right opposers, plus a proponent of each side in the debate of the day. One minus I give Face Off is the big edge in intellect and argumentation Judy Rebick, its left-winger in the usual pairing, has over Claire Hoy, the right-winger. But the producers do bring in a fair number of federal MPs for a viewer to appraise.
Those who regularly follow the Newman-Wilson show, The Lead, Face Off, and Inside Ottawa (a weekend reprise presented by Denise Rudnicke) should know and understand the big issues of concern in Canada.
The CBC, based in good part on Newsworld, provides far more quantity in items and air time to politics than the private TV networks, and it has a qualitative edge, not in reporting or scripts so much as in its wider choice of reports and tape from locales far from an Ottawa centre but on which some national item pivots like cod or salmon or an Indian roadblock.
One reason to hope the CRTC awards CTV a licence for an all-news channel is that it should give the private network a fillip for politics like that Newsworld gave the CBC. Of course, CBC should have a wide margin over its competition, given its multiples in personnel and money over its rivals.
In my opinion, CBC-TV news in Ottawa itself is in a poor patch, having lost in the last few years so many experienced reporters (like Keith Boag, Karen Webb, Paul Adams, David Halton and Bill Casey). Its nightly network show fronted by Peter Mansbridge has not been enhanced, at least in politics, by its pretentious trailer The Magazine. In passing, let me underline that no network TV newscast has the range and variety of national news and political commentary that one gets regularly from CBC Radio’s news at 6.
The strength of private TV in political coverage is local, not national, and viewing data reflects this with far more viewers in total for local, early evening news than for later network news. Through a service for MPs we on the Hill can catch such newscasts from most big cities, and I prize them for insights into regional politics, especially the ones from Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton. Regional issues of prime importance are rarely covered well in network newscasts and the CBC’s original undertaking to emphasize regional content on Newsworld hasn’t materialized.
Despite the obviously long, wide reach to viewers of Lloyd Robertson, CTV news is not a “must” for citizens intent on federal politics. Its Ottawa reporters tend to be unobtrusive and straight rather than opinionated or stagey, and so it also is with Global.
CTV has neither particular programs devoted almost wholly to politics nor any exceptionally insightful commentators, aside from the sardonic Eric Malling of W5, whom one might describe as a more telling and less stagey Rex Murphy.
Both men make a sharp change of pace for political buffs, but even more of such will come next TV season with Newsworld offering the satirical This Hour Has 22 Minutes and The Royal Canadian Air Farce.
One of the fullest political hours of the week is presented by Mike Duffy for Baton stations, but it runs in Sunday’s noontime ghetto.
My favorite weekday program with a lot of politics is only available in Ontario through TVO’s Studio 2 with hosts Mary Hynes and Steven Paikin, and an able, if dour, one-on-one interviewer in Allan Greg. Consistently this program provides variety in politicians and experts and gives them more time and brasher discussion than one gets on counterpart segments on CBC-TV.
To a very small degree the networks, including Newsworld, use a handful or two of print journalists for opinions and explanations. A few of these are print types from the press gallery in Ottawa, like the pontifical Jeffrey Simpson and one-lining Tony Wilson-Smith, or the francophone columnists, the sad Chantal Hebert and the cheery Michel Auger.
These pundits are on enough to be somewhat familiar but at this time no one who is prominent in print is a dominating critical force in national politics on TV, say as Pierre Berton or even Jack Webster may have been long ago. But neither is anyone who is purely of television, although I cherish most the few twinkling minutes one may have with Wendy Mesley each Sunday at 10 on CBC-TV news.

KEYWORDS: FEATURE; TELEVISION

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, July 03, 1996
ID: 12219803
TAG: 199607020089
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

UNPLEASANT, BUT RECOMMENDED

A new book by historian Roger Morris, Partners in Power: The Clintons and their America (Henry Holt), may set a Canadian to thinking we have never exposed the families and careers of our prime ministers and their wives with such cruel detail and brutal opinions of their marriages. The Clintons need to be as tough and twisty as depicted by Morris to carry through this presidential year with such nasty stuff about them being promoted far and wide.
No, not even Stevie Cameron’s On the Take about the Mulroney years comes close to this thorough raking of the Clintons. We should remember, however, that Kim Campbell was exposed by our journalists (e.g., Peter Newman) as comparable with Hillary Clinton in ambition and academic zeal, and her recent, frank book confirmed her huge ambition and lack of judgment. We might also recall both Brian Mulroney and his wife, Mila, and Pierre Trudeau and his wife, Margaret, had as many details, often unflattering, exposed about their relationships and their lifestyles. And, despite a brief time in office, so did Joe Clark and his independently minded wife, Maureen McTeer.
While neither Mila nor Margaret had obvious merit as experts on any theories or programs as Hillary has had (e.g., medicare), Mila was a significant asset throughout her husband’s time in electoral politics as a stabilizer and a hustings performer.
In hindsight, we can also better realize that although Margaret was far less stable and self-contained than the press first realized, she was a positive force in humanizing her husband in three election campaigns. First, in 1972 she was relatively a bride in a surprising, romantic marriage as he hung on to office in a squeaker over Bob Stanfield. Then, far more vitally, she was a major factor in 1974 in helping the Liberals regain majority power as she stood by Pierre’s side on so many platforms, naively talking about “the wonderful, shy man I love.”
And by 1980, with the marriage broken and her instabilities notorious, his forbearance as an enduring single parent helped soften the antagonism toward him in a lot of voters.
NO UNUSUAL CURIOSITY
The wives of other married prime ministers since the two bachelors PMs, R.B. Bennett and Mackenzie King, have not really roused unusual curiosity, although Geills Turner undoubtedly would have if her husband had won a federal election. The least critical attention went to Madame St. Laurent, a matronly grandmother when her husband succeeded Mackenzie King in 1948.
Although Aline Chretien has received some random notice as consort of the prime minister, she has shown deft skill over more than 30 years in being unobtrusively by her husband’s side without starting up mean-minded speculation about her influence. Even her outstanding bravery and sagacity in the break-in at 24 Sussex Dr. by a man with murderous intentions has been understated.
Of course, that incident and Jean Chretien’s physical confrontation on Flag Day in Hull remind us that politics here is not so un-American as many of us like to think.
It is not a pleasant read, but I recommend Partners in Power to Canadians caught up by the Dole-Clinton contest, not just for its compelling joint portrait of a pair whose huge ambitions and high talents are fused but to appreciate the extent of hostile floodlighting and minute investigation which is always under way, both by the media and the rival partisans of any major politician and his family.
Let me mention two recent Canadian books about politics I’ve enjoyed which are neither magisterial nor very gossipy.
The first is by William Gairdner, 56, a well-to-do, conservatively minded ex-athlete of distinction who authored one of those rare Canadian best-sellers which ran up into the tens of thousand copies, not by flattering reviews or much advertising but by by word of mouth.
That was The Trouble with Canada. Later the author put out two more critiques of the left and political correctness: The War Against the Family and Constitutional Crack-up. Now Stoddart has issued On Higher Ground, a collection of recent columns by Gairdner in the Edmonton Journal. If you are argumentive and anti-socialist, these essays will give you criticisms to make and changes to advocate.
Stan Darling, Tory MP for Parry Sound-Muskoka from 1972-93, has written, with Beth Slaney’s help, The Darling Diaries: Memories of a Political Career (Dundurn Press). Now almost 85 and retired since 1993, Darling held elected offices for over 50 years. As an MP he was assiduous in promoting what became a continental campaign against acid rain (which is well described in the book).
I understand the Darling book is not part of a campaign to “unretire” and run again.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, June 30, 1996
ID: 12219141
TAG: 199606280195
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C3
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO THE CANADA WE KNEW?

A lot of citizens reflect about our Canada as the day nears when we celebrate its founding.
For two decades such reflections have had a shadow cast by nationalist aims in Quebec. This anniversary seems grimmer than last year’s when a clear federal triumph in a coming referendum augured an end to separatist endeavors for a generation or so.
After the country’s slender survival in October we now have Lucien Bouchard and the zealous optimism of the separatists, plus the bleak status of our prime minister from Quebec in Quebec.
It’s hard not to be morbid – particularly for those of us who were around to savor a summit time for assurance of “One country, sea to sea,” i.e., the victory time of 1945 and 1946.
Not long ago historian Jack Granatstein spoke to some military people about Canada’s failure to keep pledges made in World War II about never forgetting the significance of the superb effort by its serving men and women.
“We wonder why Canadians know so little of their past, their common achievements and shared history … even their failures. We wonder why so often we repeat the problems of the past as if the problems we face were unique to our time.”
Recently I sketched for some war veterans a rough explanation of how and why the cresting Canadianism of 1945 slipped away.
In small part it was because the nearly one million veterans returned home without a preoccupation with either their past roles or any ongoing status. We had no special mission on what the Canadian future should be. There were other developments, however – both domestic and international – that suborned patriotism, nationalism and Canadian unity.
I would begin with the postwar federal governments. Despite their creation and backing for the Veterans’ Charter, they were not keen on perpetuating an image of Canadians at war into a huge national myth. Why not? Because the rancor over the conscription crisis had been a near political disaster. It was better not to memorialize a period when a significant group in Quebec generally had shown less commitment than the majority.
Second, Canadian diplomacy, riding on the forceful contribution to victory, assumed a leading role in the United Nations and then in NATO. The Pearsonites became, if not the originators, certainly the most forward promoters of peacekeeping.
When a fracas in the Middle East brought our peacetime military forth for such duty, the theme became mythic that Canadians were intrinsic naturals for keeping peace, not making war. And without peace, the atom bomb had set civilization on its way to doom.
Third, the triumph of World War II owed much to Stalin’s Russia but gratitude for this turned rapidly to Cold War fears as the USSR became the most dangerous threat to democratic nations. When Igor Gouzenko’s revelations hit Canada away flew much of our idealism about the recent “good” war we’d fought with the Reds as allies.
Then, as Canadians got some distance from the war years our writers and producers began to review and dramatize Canada’s war, and repeatedly their focus was on what had gone wrong, not on what had gone well.
The litany of agony and injustice is harrowing: the brutal captivity of our troops sent to Hong Kong; the removal of Japanese and Japanese Canadians from the B.C. coast; the Dieppe raid fiasco; the RCN’s troubles in the western Atlantic; the brutal bombing of German cities and civilians by the RAF and the RCAF; the critical shortage of trained infantry in late 1944, caused by poor Canadian generalship. With such a dramatic catalogue of Canadian disasters and brutalities what genuine national pride could there be in the so-called greatest effort of our people?
An international factor with a clear Canadian connection also blunted victory’s edge. The postwar creation of Israel owed much to the literally awful revelations about the Holocaust. Its cruelty and infamy became the emotional underpinning for Israel’s survival. But as the Holocaust seized the popular mind as a human disaster without parallel, it became clear the Allied nations, including Canada, had done far less than they could have to save European Jews.
Ottawa had been callous about Canada as a haven for Jews from Germany. By the mid-1950s the Holocaust was the dominating wrongdoing of the World War II era, partly through the default of conscience in the western world.
In the 1960s the Liberal government wanted more immigrants and this led to the national policy of multiculturalism, which gives equal value and place in our pluralism to every ethnicity’s heritage and beliefs. Canada was to become a replica for what the world should be.
Enthusiasm for a treasured heritage of British parliamentary institutions and law so strong in the World War II generation faded; so did our interest in Britain and vice-versa.
The emergence of bilingualism and multiculturalism as major programs was coupled with a new thesis that Canada was founded by two “charter” groups or nations. This meant our identity could no longer be an unadorned, even though rather inarticulate, Canadianism.
Most shaking of all factors, Quebec’s core society experienced a huge transformation, In less than 30 years the most conservative Roman Catholic enclave in the world turned secular, liberal and to business – of course, in French! A perennial inclination to Quebec autonomy turned into a movement for self-determination as a people, as sanctioned by the UN Charter and readily accepted by our federal government.
Thus it was that what seemed a nation forged through two world wars became divisible. It is no longer a whole within which there are 10 mere provinces and the territories. Canada today is as ephemeral as the life of each of us.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, June 28, 1996
ID: 12218659
TAG: 199606270162
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

HE’S THE LIFE OF THE PARTY

On Canada Day a politician I’ve known for 50 years leaves the Senate payroll well before he has to and becomes a parliamentary pensioner. Keith Davey says he’s going, “Because I’m tired.” His exit has had more notice than other retirees, one consequence of the critical press appraisal he’s had since the early ’60s when he first emerged as the Liberals’ prime fixer in Toronto.
It is hard for me to be impersonal in sizing up the Davey contribution to national affairs. Explaining why means one of those “on the one hand … on the other hand” dialogues.
The initial split in my measure of Keith Davey began in 1946 in the usually noisy men’s common room of Victoria College. It was not over politics although Keith, then 20, was already touting the Liberals and Mackenzie King. It began jocularly over the prime purpose of a university education and became serious for me. Keith was an effervescent, talkative mixer, captivated by college life, particularly its politics and sports. It was partly pose but he flaunted disinterest in courses, lecturers, and marks. Why was he at college? For contacts! Lots of them, with people who counted, people going places. So, on first hearing this brashness I pegged the kid as a grasshopper.
Now Keith was hardly a hayseed even though he still took Sunday school seriously. A “day” student, his home was near North Toronto Collegiate, a very bourgeois neighborhood. His father was a boss on the press side of the Star, the biggest daily in Canada and a capital “L” Liberal organ.
Almost half of Varsity’s students were just out of the military, and older and more serious about studies and getting a degree than students straight from high schools. I thought it politically immoral that frivolous kids like Keith had slots in a jammed, state-supported university. So we disagreed.
I recall being surly and often cutting with him whereas he kept open and good-natured. He was always excited about someone important he had just met or was going to meet like Foster Hewitt or Jack Kent Cooke. But then, just as he was when he slugged for his party in 15 federal elections, he was remarkably unpretentious.
BIG MAN ON CAMPUS
So it was with half a jaundiced eye that I watched him sail into his senior year as president of the Victoria student union, a big-time campus Liberal and a buddy of already ambitious Judy LaMarsh and Paul Hellyer. He garnered a Varsity merit award on graduation in 1949. While his standings in exam lists were scary, his skills in staging events, inspiring volunteers and enthusiasm were obvious. So was his need to have a senior mentor or hero, usually with ideas or some mission. Unlike many disciples, who become sycophants, Keith did have and has kept a wide, common touch. In all his nosy gregariousness he was always more a listener than a talker.
Keith could hardly wait for graduation to zoom downtown and follow all his contacts, already a classic bonder and broker of people. Those talents, and his drive and good humor, were superb for party politics. Another advantage was his ego. It did not need public acclaim. To my knowledge he has never posed as an electoral prospect but he was always looking for good ones – and still is.
Keith revelled in tactics to beat rival parties but not in his party’s ideology or programs. His joys were more in outsmarting the enemy than in establishing medicare or amending the Constitution.
His bent to process, not ideas, brought a repetition of our attitudinal cleavage after I became a CCF MP in 1957. On renewing contact I wanted to know why he wouldn’t be an open, accountable politician, justified by votes, rather than by Walter Gordon’s favor. Why remain a mere backroom plotter and toll-taker for the pragmatists and self-servers of the establishment’s party? He didn’t see himself as backroom but front room, doing what’s vital to get and then retain office. When he told me in ’66 he was going to the Senate I argued that for honesty’s sake he should cultivate a riding and run for the House.
Be a politician, I insisted, not batten on partisan spoils.
Often after that, as he earned “the Rainmaker” tag and was close counsel to Pearson, Trudeau, Turner, and Chretien I’ve considered my doubts and my regard for him. As he told the senators last week, “At times I have not been a first-class senator.” But the Senate assured him a livelihood and an operational base for continuing duty in his Liberal house of many mansions.
As I see him, for so long there’s been no one else in that bumptious, often mean-minded and usually arrogant crew, who has been so human and full of regard for his fellows for so long. His bias has never run to personal nastiness or crowing over rival partisans.
The long run as a Liberal bonder, broker, scout, and plotter makes Keith Davey the most successful party person of the postwar era.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, June 26, 1996
ID: 12218131
TAG: 199606250132
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

ALL’S NOT QUIET ON THE PRAIRIES

In parliamentary yore, prairie farm issues were more than random matters for questions and speeches in the House of Commons. Not so in the Chretien regime, despite a brisk pace of change in the farmer/state relationship.
You may remember the Crow rate, the rail subsidy paid since time immemorial to help move grain to port. It was such a western birthright that proposals to alter it were blasphemous. Today, thanks to Brian Mulroney, Crow’s gone the way of the dodo. And that’s one small part of an explanation why wheat as a noticeable, political whine has given way to cod and salmon and UI benefits.
Are things really so quiet out on the prairie farms? And is it because of Liberal good managment or Liberal luck?
The Chretien ministry cannot dictate topics of House debate and for months there wasn’t one on grain. Then, a week ago, the day before the summer recess, the Reform Party used an “alloted day” for a motion that the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB), a federal marketing agency, let individual farmers sell their own grain outside the jurisdiction of the board in a two-year experiment.
Some dozen MPs spoke, including the agriculture minister, Ralph Goodale. Reform wants a two year experiment in two-track marketing for our 130,000 grain farmers, not an absolutely open market. The minister advised waiting a few weeks for a report by a panel he set to studying an end of the wheat board monopoly a year ago.
My hunch is that this year, with prices rising, western grain growers are fixed on maximizing their production, not on fretting one way or the other about a shrinking federal presence. Goodale has modestly extended his predecessor’s legacy. The Tories had begun cutting grain subsidies, citing their unsustainable costs and the Reformers, holders of most western seats, are even more committed to subsidy slashing.
A Saskatchewan MP, Goodale has been one of Jean Chretien’s few excellent ministers. He’s approachable, informed, and sympathetic to farmers and he eased the end of the Crow with a one-time payout of $1.6 billion and a $300 million multi-year adjustment fund.
LOST COURT CASE
Last month Goodale seemed to face trouble over the future of the Canadian Wheat Board when the government lost a court case against David Sawatsky, a Manitoba grain grower it had charged with illegally exporting $2 million of grain to the U.S. The Crown claimed Sawatsky needed an export permit from the CWB to move his grain. He argued that the English version of the Wheat Board Act did not include such a legal requirement. Immediately after the court defeat Goodale introduced new regulations to close this loophole.
Sawatsky and his backers contend the CWB is too cumbersome and too obsessed with getting large contracts to go after smaller, more lucrative ones that sometimes arise in the U.S. market. Why shouldn’t he and other private enterprisers sell their grain in the U.S. if they think they can get a better price than the CWB?
So the next question is: why would a government bent on reducing its spending, cutting bureaucracy and encouraging entrepreneurs want to keep the monopoly of a government marketing agency?
The answer is Ottawa’s worry about handling Canada-U.S. trade relations. As a recent uproar over durum wheat imports showed, U.S. farmers are sensitive to Canadian exports and have a lot of pull in Washington. With the CWB as the sole exporter of wheat and barley to the U.S. Ottawa can control the flow and avoid confrontation. Private sales are likely to increase trade frictions.
There are other problems. If the CWB loses its monopoly on exports to the U.S., its rationale as the sole exporter to other countries is weakened. Further, the system gives farmers a guaranteed minimum price for their grain, before it has actually been sold. Could the CWB continue to do this if it has to compete with commercial exporters? Would Ottawa agree to pay for grain it did not have a buyer for? The CWB insists its success in large export sales is in part due to its uniform standards and quality control and dual track system could undermine the Canadian reputation for grain quality.
Grumbling over the CWB’s monopoly is not new, but a readiness among farmers to challenge it is. In Reform they have a political champion in Ottawa that supports “voluntary compliance” for all marketing boards (including the CWB) – in other words, a two-track system. Yet the tenor of both Reform’s challenge and the response to it in last week’s debate tells me the government wants no two-track system whereas Reform knows too much successful history rides with the wheat board for it to demand it be killed.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, June 23, 1996
ID: 12217441
TAG: 199606210123
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C3
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

DIAL 911 … ASK FOR CANADA

One who habitually aims low often hits his own foot. As example, think of Defence Minister David Collenette’s recent initiative – DART (for Disaster Assistance Response Team).
Our military does need a morale fill up. It has been battered by a long run of revealed incompetence and wrongdoing at headquarters and disgusting self-abuse among the troops. So on June 6 hapless David and his aides at DND public affairs tried to provide the boost, unveiling Canada’s new military Disaster Assistance Response Team. DART will provide quick-response humanitarian assistance at home and abroad.
True to form, this “good news” story went awry, drawing more flak than accolades. A closer look suggests what’s wrong with our military’s political leadership and our supposed “defence” policy.
One can hardly object to our forces having a team of engineers, doctors, nurses, logisticians and communicators on standby to respond to calls for assistance. It is surprising such a body did not already exist, but the manner of the announcement was awkward and the response to it has been pathetic.
To announce DART on the anniversary of the greatest military operation in history – D-Day – one in which Canadian combat arms played a major role, was tasteless. Those who splashed ashore in Normandy were not “peacekeepers.” The succor they brought Europe was to rid it of a hated enemy through bloody violence. D-Day is an anniversary to reflect on the sacrifices made by those who fought and died on our behalf – the military role the current government is so uncomfortable with.
Aside from tacky timing, what else could go wrong? Our troops – social workers to the world – now have a new team with a catchy acronym ready to fly anywhere at a moment’s notice to help the needy. DART would help erase the stain of brutality in Somalia. And to show how media-friendly the department has become, on hand were photos and videos of our troops doing their special thing. (Helping, not hurting!)
Such PR failed. DART got a sidebar on page 4 of “Canada’s National Newspaper” and similar, obscure bits on the inside pages of the other dailies. These focused on criticism from aid agencies who worry the military team, being uniformed and armed, might alarm local factions in the countries they themselves have to operate in, heightening the likelihood of violence and endangering their workers and operations. A Red Cross spokesman believes DART is better suited to disaster relief than dealing with “a complex emergency.”
Other aid organizations felt the money might be better spent directly by themselves, although they did see a potential role for the military in airlifting their people and supplies to crisis areas. Most objected to the implication in the DART announcement that it would respond to emergencies faster than they do.
TV coverage of DART was very sparse.
Why did the “good news” announcement fall flat?
One wonders if the department consulted with aid organizations beforehand. Even if it didn’t, their criticisms should have been anticipated. Many of these groups presented briefs to the government during its 1994 defence review claiming that defence dollars for “aid and humanitarian assistance” could be better spent by themselves.
Why was our media, usually keen to extol Canada’s internationalist initiatives, so dismissive? Perhaps they asked themselves: was DART created to satisfy a pressing operational requirement, or a political one? They plumped for the latter.
If the minister needs good headlines he should start by announcing his plan to boost the military’s morale, beginning with restoring the notion of individual responsibility in the officer corps and his mandarinate.
A suggestion: Canada could seek outside advice. A small panel of retired senior officers from allied nations who share similar military traditions and civil/military structures could examine the training of our officer corps, its performance review and promotion systems, and the organization of our defence headquarters. Untainted by personal attachments, commitment to the status quo or service rivalries, such men could bring a fresh outlook to our problems.
Colin Powell, the American general who played such a key role in professionalizing the U.S forces after the debacle in Vietnam, leading them to victory in the Gulf war, might have some interesting insights. British and French air marshals, admirals and generals, experienced in UN and other operations around the world, might also provide useful advice.
Too radical? Too demeaning to Canadian sovereignty?
Nonsense. The Irish hired our own Gen. Lewis Mackenzie of Sarajevo fame to assist them in rewriting their defence policy in light of post-Cold War reality, while a former chief of our armed forces, Gen. John de Chastelain, is helping them and the British in Northern Ireland. New Zealand has also sought Canadian input for its military.
If others don’t fear outside advice, why should we?

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, June 21, 1996
ID: 12216833
TAG: 199606200146
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

BAD NEWS LOOKS GOOD ON GRITS

Two days ago I used the return of Sheila Copps to high-level Ottawa as peg for an opinion that Jean Chretien seems set to waltz to another mandate in a 1997 election. Yes, that seems a better than even-money bet. But a caution: this Liberal government is hardly an invincible juggernaut, as several topical (and laughable) incidents demonstrate. Let me gallop through a few of them.
Take the Senate on Wednesday. This was an apogee day of days, set for praise of Allan MacEachen, retiring because of age. Like him or not, a fair person concedes he has been an outstanding parliamentarian in both Houses – a superb, partisan strategist and more responsible than any other Liberal for amazing recoveries from electoral misfortunes in 1972 and 1979. And he directed Senate affairs from 1984-93, again and again wounding the Mulroney government. And through 40 years in Parliament MacEachen never buttered up reporters or trolled for cameras, say like Chretien or Copps.
Yes, the tributes were paid to the proverbial wiliest of the wily, but during one of sorriest days for the great Mac-Eachen’s walk into the sunset. A Tory senator, John Lynch-Staunton, as yet almost unknown, led his fellows, plus one errant Liberal senator, to a vote which rejected the government’s desperately sought bill to snuff the dilemmas caused by Chretien’s hustings hyperbole that he would axe the Pearson airport deal made with a private consortium by the Mulroney government.
As PM, Chretien immediately killed the contract but so clumsily that taxpayers now face a bill over $500,000 for damages. This Senate defeat is as embarrassing to an over-confident government as the infamous 1968 defeat in the House at third reading of the Pearson government’s budget.
For those of us not Liberals it was as fine a day for belly-slapping at their discomfiture as the night Toronto Spadina rejected Jim Coutts. Remember how the great fixer in Pierre Trudeau’s PMO set up a sure-thing byelection for himself by elevating to the Senate for a term running to 2010 one Peter Stollery, hardly an MP of distinction.
Also on Wednesday, another major piece of polling in Quebec reconfirms what we have known for a long time, although its significance for the crucial question of Canadian unity has not yet been much examined in the rest of Canada. Although two-thirds of Quebecers would like their province to stay in Canada, slightly more of them say they dislike our prime minister.
NOT TRUSTED IN QUEBEC
Of course, Chretien may romp home again with scads of MPs from west and east of Quebec but he is likely to have fewer, not more, from Quebec than he now has. So the question which Liberals never want to consider openly remains: how valuable in the unity crisis is this Quebecer whom the Quebecois do not trust?
Also on Wednesday, the most beleaguered of Chretien’s ministers, Defence Minister David Collenette, was rocked by more inadvertent bad news about the refusal of his hand-picked military chief of staff, Jean Boyle, to answer inquiries about an alleged internal coverup in the services of records regarding the Somalia inquiry. Although the PM cherishes Collenette, he may be considering an end of his ministry. He does have a nice slot for him come the end of June when a Toronto seat in the Senate opens with the retirement of the famous “Rainmaker,” Sen. Keith Davey.
Meanwhile, the weeks of awkwardness for the government from the Airbus affair will go on and on because Brian Mulroney wants it to do so. The Liberal agonies arise from Mulroney’s libel suit against the government. This will be a classic file for students of political science: how a cocky government fouls itself by resurrecting from dark infamy its most useful target. It has created doubts that will be hard to erase about the political acumen of the justice minister, Allan Rock, who many liberally-minded Liberals have tapped as the next prime minister.
Even Liberals grimace over the stupid letter to the Swiss government from Rock’s shop which stated Mulroney had acted criminally.
Rock’s twists and turns last week about the efforts under way to settle the libel action out of court, and to explain his role in the RCMP involvement in the affair, were most unconvincing. Along the way Rock managed to slight the credibility of an admirer of his, a journalist (with the Globe and Mail) who had prompted his inquiries into skullduggery in the Mulroney government and who has been a dependable pro-Grit reporter on the Hill for almost a decade.
The circumstances which portend re-election for the Liberals are obvious, and almost so are the flaws and capacity for boobs in the Chretien crowd.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, June 19, 1996
ID: 12216314
TAG: 199606180068
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

GRIT STRATEGY LOOKS SIMPLE

There were no subtleties in the political analysis which Sheila Copps offered to the cameras after, as she put it, “we kicked butt” in the Hamilton East byelection. She had a lot to say, at least on the channel I was watching, and she sounded three simple themes for the Liberals’ re-election strategy.
First, the Liberals must repulse the evil threat of Reform to a caring and unified country. Second, it is imperative to retain a government whose “real liberal” values put people before dollars. Third, there is a continuing need at Canada’s political centre for a valiant, experienced believer in federalism, both to deal with Quebec and check the several reactionary provincial premiers.
The context for these electoral themes is clear as Parliament closes for a long summer interlude, probably the last such break before the mandate of 1993 ends with an election call by Chretien next spring or summer.
Two factors in particular indicate an earlier, rather than a later election – by mid-1997 rather than in early or mid-1998.
The first factor is the certainty that Premier Lucien Bouchard and his BQ government must go to the people of Quebec in a general election before another referendum on separation can be held. This requirement, plus the premier’s proclaimed priority for both debt wrestling and reviving the provincal economy (Montreal’s in particular) almost guarantees Chretien a period beyond 1997 before there is another poll of Quebecers on their destiny.
The second factor is not inherently stable, at least in terms of its duration, but it is real enough, especially in most of Canada west of Quebec. The national economy is doing fairly well and is definitely showing no signs of decline, let alone collapse. Regional economies in the west are doing very well. Across Canada it is hardly “jobs, jobs, jobs,” but on balance we have relatively fair economic indicators for an election-hungry government. Also, the difficult lowering of the deficit seems to be going according to Paul Martin’s plan. All in all, Liberals figure a federal campaign before late 1997 is unlikely to be dominated by a crisis fomented by either the BQ or economic woes.
One must credit Jean Chretien with having prescience in 1993 about the relative threats of Reform and the BQ to his mandate in office and its eventual renewal. He chose the Reformers, not the Bloc Quebecois, as the rival to deplore and reduce. At the time this made sense only if one had the the confidence, as Chretien did in spades, that he could master the separatist threat when it came to a vote in Quebec. This he did – barely.
A NEW PRIME ENEMY
He replaced the Mulroney Tories as his prime enemy for this Parliament with Preston Manning and his Reform Party caucus, sketching a vision of Reformers as bigoted, reactionary and simplistic alternatives to a once proud and decent party. Meanwhile he positioned the Liberals across the centre and centre-left of the partisan spectrum as the only national party that understands and cares about the disadvantaged, fiscal responsibility and keeping Quebec.
To isolate Reform as the real enemy, Chretien has treated the BQ and its leader with every courtesy and possible privilege due the Official opposition. He has downgraded and confounded the inexperienced Reformers and also figuratively silenced the NDP and PC rumps in the House. Of course, the critique which the BQ has brought forward against the Liberals on social and economic issues has made scanty impression on the rest of Canada.
It makes sense in this Liberal scenario for the next election that Chretien, the veteran and plain guy, shall save Canada as a whole from the petty economic prescriptions and the reaction and racism embedded in Reform while also saving Quebecers from Reform’s insistence that Quebec must be a province like all the others.
Essentially these are the points Sheila Copps was shrilling Monday night.
The Liberals will adorn themselves with a 1997 version of the Red Book, including a long list of accomplished goals projected in the 1993 edition. This one will emphasize the determination to extend westward from the Atlantic provinces and Quebec the harmonization of the GST with provincial sales taxes. The GST as an embarassment set up in a 1993 promise has just been bypassed by Copps’ resounding re-election.
Of course, in the campaign ahead neither Reform nor the Tories and New Democrats will buy that line. But if Hamilton East is a microcosm of the Rest of Canada, Chretien will head us into the 21st century.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, June 16, 1996
ID: 12608756
TAG: 199606140203
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C7
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

AN ANTI-REFORM CONSPIRACY THEORY

A mind-set of most political reporters in Canada does not signify a conspiracy, or so I have been telling myself. Let me explain.
As one who writes much on House performance I’ve been kind to the work of Reform MPs, this in contrast to the antagonism by many colleagues in their appraisals of these Western “rednecks” and “dinosaurs.”
My favoritism – though I tag it as fairness – is surely why I’ve had letters and calls enough to realize the theory of a nationwide conspiracy is crystallizing among those who appreciate the Reform Party.
To them the sheer scale and meanness in the coverage of Reform is evidence that a calculated conspiracy has seized or is manipulating the media pack.
The conspiracy’s design goes beyond discrediting Preston Manning and his party to using them as butts of repetitious attacks. Reform is typecast as blocking or impeding progress into modernity – against rigid gun controls, abortion on demand and the normalcy of homosexuality.
Reformers are against legal recognition for same-sex couples and decriminalizing man-boy anal sex. They object to the separation of AIDS as a deadly, global health threat from a causal link with the most practised form of gay intercourse.
A woman writing from Leader, Sask., wants me to explain how this conspiracy to ridicule Reform, destroy traditional family life and sanctify homosexual relationships and practices has been able to gain so many positions in the media: for example, in the ranks of those in CBC’s news and public affairs work. Have she and her family and neighbours, indeed her whole generation, been bypassed by those who live in the east and in big cities like Toronto?
A Toronto reader asks me: “Is it exaggeration to suggest that homosexuals have gained control of the media?”
She prefaced this question with examples, such as the sponsorship of homosexuality as not only normal and acceptable but worthwhile by such as the Anglican Church, the Toronto Board of Education, the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and the courts.
“I’ve noticed,” she says, “that CFRB, the largest and oldest private radio station, has become increasingly pro-homosexual in both its talk shows and news coverage.” She recalled that when President Bill Clinton was stymied by Congress on his plan for homosexuals in the U.S. military, a CFRB newsman had barked “Wake up America,” after speaking with pride of the place homosexuals now had in the Canadian services. She noted that a caller to a CFRB talk show who’d raised the far higher incidence in Canada of breast cancer than of AIDS was summarily snuffed.
This correspondent, like several others with the same theme, remarked on the advantages accruing to Jean Chretien and the Liberal party from what they consider the conspiracy to destroy the Reformers’ prospects and make homosexuality uncriticizable.
Well, who could miss the frenzy of hostility in so many media people at comments from Reform MPs Ringma, Chatters, and Hill when “sexual orientation” was included in the Liberals’ latest human rights bill? Meanwhile, the two score Liberals who took advantage of the free vote to oppose this inclusion were rarely mentioned, although some of them said things about the perversity in homosexuality and its practices which made Reform talk seem mild.
And these believers in a conspiracy have also noted the obvious: that, as one put it, “Manning played the game their way, disciplining Ringma and Chatters for expressing honest opinions and taking refuge from a firm position on the sexual orientation by opposing discrimination against anybody. And in counselling Reformers never to say anything that didn’t need to be said, he is locking his party into the political correctness policed by gays and feminists.”
It has been hard to miss the growing bias in the media against those who resist approving homosexuality. It became openly remarkable five years ago when the Globe and Mail, under editor William Thorsell, began promoting homosexuality – editorially, in features and in news choice and display, even unto Gerald Hannon and the esthetics of man-boy love.
But such a mind-set was developing and finding voices, prose and poetry long before this in Canada. Much earlier there had been tacit acceptance in the arts and entertainment community and somewhat later among academics in arts colleges and universities.
Most of the reporters who were chivvying Manning and company before, during, and after the Reform convention in Vancouver are genuinely put out that a party with such old-fashioned social values and such antagonism to social democratic policies is the alternative federal party in English Canada. To them the particular issue of sexual orientation is a touchstone of progress and decency in politics.
Of course, the homosexual forces are capable, persistent and well-orchestrated. I can vouch from their bruising letters that they play rough and gang up, but as I read them they do operate in the open.
What seems a conspiracy to so many, particularly in our older generations, is hard-nosed politics and a consequence of long, assiduous proselytizing for fellow travellers. I think the most useful response against this surge toward social approval and individual esteem for homosexuality and the sterility of its sexual deeds is not to fret about any grand conspiracy but to emphasize, humorously if possible, how barren homosexuality is in one sense and how dull in another. Ah, what they’re missing.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, June 14, 1996
ID: 12608210
TAG: 199606130201
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

PARLIAMENT’S GOOD HUMOR MAN

The news George Hees had died came over the wire as I was scanning files on Allan J. MacEachen in preparation for a piece on him as the senatorial phase of his fine career closes. The review sent me to the long list of cabinet ministers during my time on the Hill. Why? Because Allan J. rates as one of the best.
I began to make a list of the top dozen ministers. The first handful, from the Liberals, came easily: Jack Pickersgill, Paul Martin Sr., Mitchell Sharp, Jean Luc Pepin, maybe Marc Lalonde, perhaps Gene Whelan, possibly Walter Gordon and, of course, Allan J. himself. For the Tories, with fewer years in office, it is harder: certainly, Donald Fleming, Alvin Hamilton, Don Mazankowski, John Crosbie and George Hees, maybe Howard Green and, straining somewhat, Erik Nielsen.
Most political aficionados of my generation will blink at setting Hees and MacEachen side by side in effectiveness but this is really because of their contrasting personalities and temperaments: sunshine and shadow; openness and secretiveness; candor and caution; bon vivant and private man; simplicity and complexity.
On balance, in my opinion George Hees was the more effective politician as a working minister in three departments – transport, trade & commerce and veterans’ affairs – than MacEachen was in his ministerial roles at labor, finance and external affairs.
But on the broader canvas of both party and Parliament the Nova Scotian was literally the ablest of all federal ministers over almost three decades as he functioned as his party’s strategic and tactical handler within Parliament, whereas Hees’ best contributions to his party came when he was national president before the election win of 1957.
He built the membership and enthusiasm across the land which underpinned John Diefenbaker’s elevation to the prime ministership. But with the Chief in power, there was no managerial role possible for Hees in the caucus or the party. By and large he was outside Bob Stanfield’s and Joe Clark’s circles, and he only had his own veterans affairs ministry for scope in Brian Mulroney’s.
Hees, in office or in opposition or in making visits to ridings across the country, was very much an enthusiastic presence with his sense of fun and his insistence that any political issue could be simplified into plain talk. He always livened the House and the last MP of ministerial rank with anything close to such ability was John Crosbie.
PARTISAN STEREOTYPES
In partisan politics rivalry dictates that enemies be stereotyped. The Grit stereotype for Hees was as a likable lightweight. And, even before the Gerda Munsinger scandal broke, as a reckless Errol Flynn sort of playboy. Of course, the Tories projected MacEachen as a consummate pork-barreller (which he was) who, behind a mask of secrecy and sophistry, always put his own and Nova Scotia’s interests ahead of the nation. And they whispered about him as a misogynist steeping in scotch.
Over the years I had many experiences with Hees and MacEachen. I chuckle and recollect with total kindness most of them with the former football star and soldier.
In the late ’50s I walked some 1,500 yards of the Dutch causeway to the Walcherens along which George Hees had crawled in 1944 under heavy German machinegun and mortar fire to determine the condition of our trapped, foward infantry. Later, in Ottawa, when I asked him about the action, he said he’d never been so scared before or since. And then he shrugged, began to laugh, and said, “But the wound got me a ticket home.”
I recall the great bolstering in facilities and services which Hees as transport minister pushed along the new St. Lawrence Seaway, the enthusiasm he generated in the early ’60s for our sagging export trade. He pushed air travel and phone rights for all MPs past a resisting prime minister. And I remember and admire the blend of foresight and determination he put into the creation of the Veterans Independence Program (VIP) in the late ’80s, designed to help aging veterans live at home as long as possible, not in institutions.
Self-spoofing can be a wonderful asset. The most engaging thing about George Hees for me is inconceivable in an Allan MacEachen kind of politician or, say, for another dour minister of renown, Mitchell Sharp. Of course, Paul Martin, Sr. had a smidgin of the asset, although it went unappreciated because his orotundity seemed so absolute. But he could spoof himself, as George Hees was always ready to do.
George refused to take himself or the political life with total seriousness. He had many joys in life and as I knew him he didn’t unload his sorrows on others. He spread sunshine.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, June 12, 1996
ID: 12607683
TAG: 199606110081
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

TOUGHER LOVE FOR NATIVES

The letter sent this week by Jean Chretien to each premier, with a brief agenda for coming federal-provincial talks, was very matter of fact. With the package for the press, however, were copies of five other letters which indicate a remarkable shift from what was firmly set political correctness in the 1980s. I would call it a scaling down of aboriginal issues from being a central, to just another major, Canadian problem.
The five letters were similar but not quite identical. They informed the president of Inuit Tapirisat, the president of the Metis National Council, the grand chief of the Assembly of First Nations, the president of the Native Women’s Association and the president of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples that they and their organizations “will not be participating directly at the first ministers” conference.
If they wished, however, several ministers would brief them beforehand and debrief them after the discussion. In short, Chretien is re-establishing a needed proportion between duly elected governments and the aspirations of aboriginal organizations.
But there’s more to this polite but essentially blunt refusal to go along with the insistence of Grand Chief Ovide Mercredi and several other aboriginal leaders that their people are entitled to places at first ministers’ gatherings.
The emerging toughness may be coming in part out of the finance department as it surveys the staggering price of present native programs and projected future settlements. But that’s just a guess.
Of course, Chretien has long experience and knows from looking back, constitutionally, about the role native leaders played in killing the Meech accord and in failing to get their people to vote for a Charlottetown accord that offered them so much.
One divines too that at last the deficit-debt issue is affecting attitudes about native matters all across Canada.
Although the massive federal and provincial exercises now underway to end annual deficits and dint the mountains of costly debt burden have not much consequence yet on the sums going to native programs, federally or provincially, some reductions seem likely. Such federal spending is now over $6 billion a year, and by modest estimate the provinces are spending over $3 billion in this field.
STAGGERING PRICE
A largely unrecognized reason for this tougher love for natives is the rationale that Reform Party views on natives have brought into federal play. The Reformers tend to approach native affairs without the usual “white” guilt, and are influenced by experience in B.C. and Alberta where the staggering future price of native settlements has been scaring taxpayers.
Reformers insist that natives, whether Inuit, treaty Indians, non-treaty Indians, or Metis, are no more and no less than Canadian citizens.
The Reformers see native self-government as being specifically local, like villages or townships, and not another constitutional “order” of government alongside Ottawa and the provinces, as Ovide Mercredi envisages. Neither is it national in scope nor guaranteed to have seats in future federal parliaments.
The Reformers have also made much of the reports by the auditor general of waste and unaccounted spending by native band councils and tribal groups. The other federal parties, in particular the New Democrats and Liberals (when in opposition) ignored such horror stories, I think because of empathy for the poorest and least advantaged people in Canada. The Reformers insist the natives will remain in dire circumstances so long as their moneys are wasted in sustaining a scatter of welfare enclaves, most far from real chances to take part in regional and provincial economies.
The realism of the Reformers has established a conservative polarity in Indian affairs with an emphasis on frugality and a refusal to feel guilty about past policies. At least that is largely how I explain that a rough and ready Ron Irwin, the federal minister for Indian Affairs, has been able to sweep along with an ad hoc program of deals, band by band, while ignoring or looping the demands of chiefs like Mercredi.
The grand chief foresees constitutional status for an array of native governments and assemblies within the Canadian state and its provinces. They would have an independence of their own and be financed mostly by big money settlements and the rents to come from non-natives for use of aboriginal lands and waters.
I welcome this long-delayed shift by the federal cabinet toward common sense and away from a future of apartheids and Hollywood-style romanticism about past native governance and the rich cultures and capable economies in place before the Europeans came.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, June 09, 1996
ID: 12607087
TAG: 199606070166
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C7
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

CHRETIEN’S NEW CABINET SOLID, IF NOT SENSATIONAL

It’s been little remarked through the recent dip of the Chretien Liberals from high, popular approval that the ministerial changes made a few months ago did strengthen the cabinet and cut the exposure of dud ministers.
Though far from a scintillating group as yet, the 23 full members of the cabinet and nine “secretaries of state” make a more effective cast than the earlier one, particularly in House or question period terms.
The two Quebecers brought in from outside the House, Stephane Dion and Pierre Pettigrew, have not been sensational but they do have their wits about them and have made few gaffes. And one of the new secretaries of state, Hedy Fry, has shown herself forthright, aggressive and rather cocky.
The Liberal MPs and their staffs are relieved the unfortunate Michel Dupuy has gone from the front bench, the almost as unfortunate Diane Marleau is largely out of sound as minister of public works and, at least for a few months, the rackety, over-promoted Sheila Copps is temporarily shelved in a by-election.
Despite the marked improvement, there hasn’t been any particular ascendancy to make one say: “Hey! Here’s an obvious prime minister.”
The PM may be tiring, occasionally scrambled and with his general credibility across the land on a slide – most dangerously in his home province – but he won’t go readily into retirement despite the recent talk about the end of his usefulness being near, or Daniel Johnson’s line that he’s likely to be “the last prime minister of Canada.”
The best of the few prospects who seem at hand as replacements remains Paul Martin, Jr., rather exceptionally secure and widely accepted in the top portfolio in Ottawa. My hunch is he would have three-quarters of the Liberal caucus behind him if it came to a replacement within this mandate.
A year or more ago Allan Rock, the justice minister, seemed a crown prince sort. Although he’s not an absolute debit proposition within the cabinet he is surprisingly unpopular in the caucus, seen as too lawyerish and politically naive.
One does hear murmurs from some Liberal MPs who relish the brusque toughness in Doug Young, the very bilingual New Brunswicker and head of the hideously tagged portfolio of human resources development. If the best strategy is to deal harshly with Lucien Bouchard, the PQ and the BQ, Young is recognized as having the most talent for such a scenario.
One hears little any more about Premier Frank McKenna of New Brunswick as a likely leader of the federal Liberal party. The other Grit premier of renown, Brian Tobin, has hardly been master of the Rock since he got there from Ottawa, and it becomes clearer by the month that he left for Fred Mifflin, his successor as fisheries minister, a legacy of troublesome, knotty, unfinished issues and initiatives.
Lloyd Axworthy, No. 3 in cabinet seniority behind Chretien and Herb Gray, has recaptured much of his old zest and bumptiousness as minister for foreign affairs, but he seems nobody’s first alternative any more.
Copps, a leadership candidate last time, blew her prospects long ago as a too raucous and unsubtle deputy prime minister. Should she return to the House from the byelection, as seems likely, she comes as an albatross for her party – a living symbol of the GST!
As yet none of Chretien’s women ministers bob up in gossip about future prime ministers although there’s been a slow, steady accretion of respect for Ann McLellan, the minister of natural resources. The newest woman minister, Jane Stewart at national revenue, has been almost endearingly amateurish in her House occasions.
It would not be surprising if Chretien shifts David Collenette out of defence to a new portfolio in the summer recess.
Over the past five months Collenette has replaced Diane Marleau as the most vulnerable, awkward politician and the opposition’s delight. A previous shift of another Toronto minister, Sergio Marchi, has worked well. It took Marchi out of repeated trouble from his own bumbling about immigration and citizenship to an out-of-fashion, less controversial realm at environment.
This comparative praise for the refashioned ministry doesn’t mean we now have a superb galaxy. John Manley at industry and Ron Irwin at Indian affairs are just getting by; so is David Anderson after his switch to transport.
Torontonians may be surprised that Art Eggleton is standing up rather well in trade. The same may be said for Marcel Masse, very able at treasury board; Ralph Goodale at agriculture; David Dingwall now at health; and Lucienne Robillard, who is much more adroit with Marchi’s former responsibilities than she was as Chretien’s “point” minister in Quebec. Of course, the new point, Stephane Dion, has not been making obvious headway but he’s persistent, seems resilient, is undeniably courageous and, however naive, is a man of good will.
A modest summation is called for, and it is this: the clear advantages from his first shuffle should encourage Chretien to another, sooner rather than later. There’s still much talent and push on his backbench.

KEYWORDS: FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, June 07, 1996
ID: 12606508
TAG: 199606060170
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

WE CAN’T AFFORD BIG GOVERNMENT

What do the Krever, Westray and Somalia inquiries, the Airbus investigation and the Young Offenders Act all have in common? They are examples of well-meaning government gone awry, with unintended and devastating consequences.
Collectively they illustrate how those charged with managing our public affairs routinely absolve themselves of responsibility for the results. We have given government so much control over our lives but we are at its unabashed mercy when it inevitably screws up.
This “oops” factor dominates Canadian politics today. All governments, regardless of level or political stripe, find themselves hedged by the need to balance the books after years of shortsighted spending estimates and flubbed revenue forecasts. Despite all the whines from Maude Barlow and her ilk who condemn this “ideologically driven” agenda of the slashers, there has been remarkably little reflection on the lessons, if any, to be drawn from “big” government’s many failures. Once fiscal health returns, should big government? Can we afford to let it?
Ironically, the U.S., never as enamored of collectivist action and faced with more modest deficits, has spent the past decade debating this very question: how much can realistically be expected of government?
Many Americans, both Democrats and Republicans, believe the postwar record shows government inevitably reaches beyond its grasp, and that its power to improve the average citizen’s lot is more circumscribed than its advocates claim. America’s fiscal situation is seen not as the result of temporary inattention to the bottom line, but the inevitable consequence of giving too much power to politicians and bureaucrats, who do not have to pay the bills.
Canada’s most “ideological” government, Ontario’s Tory regime, apes the Republicans’ talk of getting regulators off the backs of business, encouraging more individual enterprise, etc. Yet Premier Mike Harris and Treasurer Ernie Eves have carefully avoided condemning the welfare state as a whole. Cuts to social spending are necessary for fiscal reasons – we cannot afford the current level of services – rather than because the body politic needs to be purged of a dependancy on government run rampant.
Today, with some provinces running surpluses and others soon to follow, pressure is building for a return to the old days (witness the NDP victory in B.C.), and interest groups are demanding that recent cuts to their pet programs be reversed. Populist Alberta even had a referendum on what to do with its surplus: pay down the debt; reduce taxes; or restore services. In this supposedly right-wing province (which spent more per capita than just about any other during the 1980s) the results were mixed. Many Albertans, it seems, still have an appetite for government largesse.
DESTRUCTIVE POWERS
Before we unthinkingly crank up big government again, we might ponder one more example of the havoc wrought by well-meaning politicians and bureaucrats.
Unemployment Insurance – sorry, Employment Insurance (does it “insure” your job?) – has a mixed fiscal record. Currently in surplus, it has often been in deficit, with taxpayers picking up the difference. But its real destructive powers are seen in its impact upon the fisheries and those who work in them.
Early on, politicians discovered UI could be used to funnel wealth from Canada’s “haves” to “have nots,” through changes to the eligibility rules allowing those in depressed areas and industries to collect despite having worked fewer days. Last year’s How Ottawa Spends, published by Carleton University, found evidence UI encouraged thousands to enter the East Coast cod fishery in the 1970s and ’80s so they could collect pogey, even though the fishery could not sustain them long term. By 1990 UI and other federal support for the fishery was costing $1.1 billion a year more than it was worth.
Now that the fish stocks have collapsed, taxpayers are on the hook for another $1.9 billion over five years to carry idle fish workers while they try to find other work. Unfortunately, another unforeseen effect of the UI program was that it encouraged people to quit school early to enter the fishery and collect a UI cheque. Of the 25,000 people covered by the Northern Cod Adjustment and Recovery program, 70% have less that a Grade 10 education. Heaven help them.
Well-meaning big government “compassion” devastated Maritimers and their environment. Similarly, horrendous effects can be seen in the collapse of the West Coast salmon fishery. Too many people and boats chasing too few fish is a formula for disaster all should have grasped. Many excuses are offered. But the question Canada’s chattering castes would rather avoid remains: how much power do we dare give very fallible governments?

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, June 05, 1996
ID: 12606196
TAG: 199606050067
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

ANOTHER RAW DEAL FOR WW II VETS

Recently I wrote about some 5,000 RCAF veterans who served as radar operators and mechanics for Britain’s RAF in World War II. They never knew until “access to information” searches a few years ago that they had been awarded a certificate of appreciation by the British government which was never given to them. The military mandarins in Ottawa in 1945 chose to destroy the certificates.
When this story was published, Defence Minister David Collenette moved quickly to approve belated copies of the British award.
Robert Linden, the ex-RCAF radar officer who researched the award, has unearthed another deliberate oversight through access to documents classified for over 40 years as “secret.” These deal with the denial of a right by some Canadians in World War II to a bonus in pay for serving in the Pacific and Southeast Asia theatres against the Japanese.
One wonders if Collenette will show the same concern for this unlucky lot as he did for the Greek “resistance” fighters who became eligible for Canada’s veterans benefits and then lost them when it became clear there had been an orgy of falsifications in the documentary witness to such service.
Linden has prepared documentation which records the paper trail of both open and internal decisions on the matter and details those who served in the army, air force and navy who merited such pay and didn’t get it.
The numbers of such men are not huge, in large part because those who never received the pay were scattered, often in small units and often under British or American command. These include several special army wireless and intelligence groups, two RCAF squadrons that served in Burma, some RCAF men taken by the enemy at Singapore and in Sumatra and some shot down over Burma, and even our last Victoria Cross winner, Lieut. Hamilton Gray of the RCN. He was not given the Japanese campaign allowance because he flew into the action which earned him the great award from a Royal Navy carrier, not from a Canadian ship.
The total sum to recompense such bypassed veterans of the Pacific conflict would be small in contrast to the many millions which went to the Greek “freedom fighters” or the near $400 million awarded a few years ago to Japanese and Japanese Canadians moved away from the B.C. coast in the bleak war months of 1942.
The paper trail which Linden has produced shows how peremptory the decisions were to ignore the rights of those Canadians in unusual, even random, situations in the East in World War II, and the readiness of today’s mandarins to blanket recent requests for such pay supplements (with interest) with the same cavalier phrases used in secret by the Ottawa desk generals of 1945-46.

A departure from the norm in House committee matters rouses suspicions, even in Liberal backbenchers. The recent report of the auditor general revealed several family trusts (i.e. the Bronfmans) had been permitted by a particular federal tax interpretation to transfer hundreds of millions to the U.S. without a tax levy.
The auditor general regularly brings his cases for review and critiques to the House public accounts committee. By a rule three decades old an opposition MP functions as chairman of the committee – in this House, a BQ MP. Yet when the issue of the flight of the trusts was shifted from the focus of opposition anger in the House, the Chretien crew whipped it to the finance committee, chaired by a Liberal MP. Why? Surely for safety’s sake: protect the “inside” movers who set up these taxless transfers. One has to suspect links between the corporate leaders of the trusts and the governing party, whether Tory or Liberal. One also wonders if more than the Bronfmans have a line to such generosity, perhaps the Desmarais family of Power Corp. (which seems on its way out of Quebec).

If a federal election was called today what would be a reasonable result? The last fix is disintegrating because of the ascension of Lucien Bouchard and the Liberals’ lunge to the right. So it strikes me that an August, 1996 vote would have a substantially different result. For comparisons I give the party standings in MPs: first, at the call in 1993; second, after the election; third, as they could be in September, 1996.

PC Lib. NDP BQ REFORM OTHERS
September, ’93 152 79 43 8 1 12
November, ’93 2 177 9 54 52 1
September, ’96 36 150 18 50 36 5

In short, I foresee moderate resurgence for Tories and New Democrats, slippage for Reform, the BQ holding firm, and the Grits on the edge of a minority mandate.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, June 02, 1996
ID: 12605405
TAG: 199605310205
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C7
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

CONRAD STRIKES FEAR IN LEFT-WING HEARTS

Conrad Black is the dominant figure in our press journalism.
Some others have noted the obvious: the fear, distaste, and anger running strongly among those who work in our media and among the liberally minded elite of our intelligentsia may stem from his forthright position and articulateness on the right of the political spectrum. But at base the worry is even more about losing jobs than a huge shift to conservatism.
Here is not another Roy or Ken Thompson but a man (with a hard-writing, right-wing wife) who has talked much about the imperative of higher quality journalism (witness his own worthy Daily Telegraph and Spectator in the U.K.). Black has also scoffed at the overstaffing in our dailies and the laziness and flaccid social democratic evaluations in so much of political coverage and commentary by Canadian papers, including the bigger Southam dailies like the Ottawa Citizen, and which dominates CBC news and commentary.
What have I to say on what the Southam acquisition by Black seems to signify?
It may seem lame but I begin by openly fretting more over the meaning of this huge purchase for the Sun papers, already on the block because Ted Rogers, another aggressive and conservatively minded entrepreneur, needs to pay down the large debts of his other enterprises.
It would be grand if the Suns get back in what one might call solo hands, but now the greater likelihood is that they’ll go from one colossus to another.
As for Black, I think he’s been overdone as a throwback and reactionary. And even if he were, his proprietorship should not be meekly taken by the reporters and editors who make up the reigning left-to-centre mind-set at most Southam papers and of their brothers and sisters with such attitudes in the mighty CBC news crews and the circulation-rich Toronto Star.
They have columns and editorials. They have unions. They have swarms of sympathetic, anti-Black politicians in Ottawa and across the land. They should hold Black to his swagger about quality. They should keep testing his assurances he neither demands nor expects slavish attention in his publications to his political agenda, such as has been the case elsewhere, for example, in the years the Honderichs have run the Toronto Star.
What I wish I had heard or read more from Black, given the papers he now has in several score smaller cities and towns across Canada, is what he advocates to narrow or bridge the widening gulf between such places and their people and the big cities.
The sophisticated ethos that radiates from the media of Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal in particular, equates “boondocks” values and interests with anti-immigrant racism, pro-gun adherence to violence, crime and cruelty to animals, and with a crude, outdated bias against the rights of women and homosexuals.

The domino effect rolling eastward into Ottawa from the election of Premier Glen Clark should be more energizing than that of any previous B.C. premier.
It should enable the federal NDP to reclaim full party status (12 MPs or more) in the next federal election, however limp Alexa McDonough’s leadership may be, given such strong provincial backing there’ll be in the 50-odd federal ridings in B.C. and Saskatchewan.
More important – and dangerous – the bumptious Clark is almost sure to spark the explosiveness inherent in Lucien Bouchard.
For the next year to 18 months, the intentions of Premier Bouchard will preoccupy Prime Minister Jean Chretien and give the other premiers in the Rest of Canada a coherent counter-strategy. Put crudely, the Clark election makes it certain there shall be a so-called Plan B or “tough love” for the Quebecois.
Why should this be so? In part, because of the personalities of the western premiers and their reflection of the mind-sets of their voters toward Quebec. In part, because Chretien can no longer pretend soft-talking federalism, that counts on a pragmatic core of economic realism among the Quebecois, will guarantee a federalist victory in the next Quebec referendum.
Premier Clark is bold and direct, so is Alberta Premier Ralph Klein. Saskatchewan Premier Roy Romanow may be more suave, he is up on federal-provincial history and advocates firmness with Quebec. Manitoba Premier Gary Filmon seems the least abrasive western premier but he’s adroit on reading his province and Manitobans haven’t abandoned the attitudes that spelled the end of the Meech Lake accord (and the “distinct society” clause).
To these four, add Ontario’s Mike Harris, as blunt and unsubtle as premiers come.
One is foolish to forecast Chretien will not develop a working rapport with these premiers on the Quebec issue. but he will have to come to them. They will never be in an appeasing mode. They all know the prime minister’s standing in his own province is low, and elsewhere it is now on a slow slide. They’ll be out to save Canada but almost certainly through stronger provinces and a weaker Ottawa.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, May 31, 1996
ID: 12604800
TAG: 199605300201
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

PARLIAMENT FINDS ITS PRIDE

There were four speeches in the parliamentary commemoration Wednesday morning. In none was there direct reference to either the institution known as the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery or to any of its members, past or present.
Such lack of notice earned its complement: there was almost nil coverage of the event in either the papers or on television, although it had brought in several hundred ex-MPs from all 10 provinces, even two first elected 56 years ago.
The four speeches, each succinct but carefully crafted and not off the cuff, were by Gov.-Gen. Romeo Leblanc, PM Jean Chretien and by the two Speakers, Gil Molgat of the Senate and Gilbert Parent of the House. The nature of the assemblage before them in the House explained their preparation: here were their peers over many years! Row on row down the floor of the chamber and lining the galleries were three former PMs, several score of ex-ministers, and a swatch of ex-MPs – Liberals, Tories, New Democrats, CCFers, Socreds and Creditistes. And in their own seats were many current MPs, including a number of BQ separatists.
The Governor General was ironic in an unbitter way. After noting international judgments on Canada’s high standards and development, he said: “Somehow as a country we have muddled our way to greatness.” He cited the unpopularity of elected politicians today by noting the only time a politician seems to get accolades is after dying. He was sure this gathering and the registers of former parliamentarians will be taken by many as one more example of politicians patting themselves on the back. He himself was optimistic our history of muddling along would continue simply because “Canada still has a greater history to come.”
The PM was unusually light at bragging and very personal about his own first, excited arrival in the chamber and the “magic” of those moments. Speaker Molgat spoke to the long array of those chosen to serve in the Senate. And Speaker Parent closed the addresses by calling for applause for the representatives of the life and health insurance industry which has underwritten the costs of the plaques.
HEARTY APPLAUSE
Then he asked the parliamentarians to rise as he called out the parliaments from the 20th (elected in 1940) to the 35th (elected in 1993). There were waves of recognition and hearty applause through the chamber. It was a memorable ritual for the whole gathering.
A prelude to the welcome in the chamber and the unveiling was the best attended meeting so far in its rather brief existence of the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians, chaired by Barry Turner, a Tory MP from Ottawa in 1984-88. The discussions were positive about federalism and, though confident of Parliament’s importance, brimming with the urgency of reforms to make more effective use of all MPs, not just party leaders and ministers.
Following the speeches and the standing witness, House by House, the crowd flowed next door to the pleasant, former reading room where the 35 plaques, one for each Parliament since Confederation, were set up temporarily. On each, are the names of their MPs and senators – in sum just over 3,700 MPs and almost 800 senators.
The average time in the House for MPs since 1867 is hardly of career length – just over eight years.
The assemblage on Wednesday was both lively and amicable as former colleagues and rivals found each other. For example, I met a Creditiste from the St. Jean region who’d sat by me in 1963 and a CCF colleague from the brief House of 1957-58 whom I hadn’t seen since the noisy hour as John Diefenbaker prorogued that Parliament over the angry protests of CCFer Stanley Knowles and Liberal Jimmy Sinclair (father of a daughter, Margaret, later to be famous).
In the gossipy social hour, with its bar and food tables, without question the busiest swirl of attentiveness was around Pierre Trudeau. As usual, he was impeccable in dress and form, but unusually outgoing, gracious, and often laughing as he chatted with old followers and rivals and their families.
Two former MPs – one Tory, one Grit – scorched me for a recent column on my hesitation about the plaques memorializing a claim to immortality. They accused me of being, as one said, “Just another in the media mob that doubts and mocks MPs.”
Didn’t I feel good now, about the plaques and this happening?
Readily, I agree. The occasion has been a real lifter, done with taste and despatch and brimming with good nature.
Perhaps the pride that ran through the place was best expressed by Judge John Matheson, much banged up at the front in World War II and in the ’60s the MP shepherd of the new Canadian flag, who told me: “Those are rosters you should be proud to be on.”
And I was, and am.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, May 29, 1996
ID: 12604262
TAG: 199605280155
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

TORY SENATORS HUNT CONSPIRACIES

Little attention has been given to recent pressure by Tory senators for information on what the Chretien ministry and the RCMP have been doing in the Airbus affair, notably regarding Brian Mulroney’s alleged guilt for “toll-gating” Air Canada contracts for the European aircraft.
The pressure went beyond harassing remarks in the Red Chamber which Joyce Fairbairn, the Liberal leader there, dodged by pleading that Airbus matters were both in court and still under investigation.
In parallel, Fairbairn’s opposite number, Tory John Lynch-Staunton, has put 23 series of questions on the Senate’s printed agenda.
One doubts the cabinet will ever answer. A scan of the swatch tells me there is a collaboration in place between the former PM, locked in a serious libel action for huge damages against the Liberal government, and the PC senate caucus, most of whom he appointed.
The questions indicate Mulroney and advisers feel the action made evident in the leak of the Justice department letter to Swiss authorities was not a straightforward foray by assiduous Mounties but a calculated operation approved by the Chretien government.
And the focus on Mulroney’s alleged involvement was both inspired and complemented by ferreting into corruption issues by CBC-TV news, the Fifth Estate team, and Stevie Cameron, reportedly uncovering a tie of Mulroney to Airbus through his “friend” and lobbyist, Frank Moores.
So both the CBC and Cameron have prompted questions from Senator Lynch-Staunton. Cameron, heralded by a judgmental Allan Fotheringham as “probably the finest investigative reporter of our times,” is the author of the book On The Take, published in 1994 and still on some bestseller lists.
Her role in the case was raised in a Montreal courtroom a few weeks ago as Mulroney defended himself from federal lawyers in the “discovery” phase of his libel action. He seemed to be referring to what he saw as “inside” information on the case from RCMP sources that was apparent in articles which Cameron wrote on the Airbus affair for MacLean’s in March and last December. After the hearing, Mulroney gleefully forecast for the trailing camera crews that some surprising names would emerge as the case progressed.
PAGES OF QUESTIONS
The first printed question of Lynch-Staunton, begins:
“May 14, 1996 – The RCMP and the Airbus investigation. The RCMP is at the centre of an investigation of alleged improprieties on the part of former prime minister Brian Mulroney. These alleged improprieties involve a number of accusations contained in a letter sent to Swiss authorities on 29 Sept. 1995. Together these allegations and accusations are known as the Airbus affair, or the Airbus investigation. Pursuant to this. How may members of the RCMP have been involved, directly or indirectly … ”
And the questions roll for 33 pages, asking for costs, names, dates, initiatives etc. in many federal departments and agencies, from the PMO, Justice, and Solicitor General to the RCMP and the CBC to four questions about Cameron and others on the sources of “the confidential information” which inspired the request to the Swiss.
Of course, Cameron is not a federal employee, nor has she ever been under federal contract, although this is questioned, as is the possibility her famous book played a part in informing and stimulating the Liberals’ ministerial personnel.
The questions on the CBC go after the ties between the Fifth Estate, which aired several segments on the Airbus affair, and Georgio Pelossi, who was featured in them. Remember that it was his card that had the numbers of the bank accounts opened by Frank Moores, supposedly for his, and Mulroney’s, use.
As a police informer, Pelossi rates a train of questions about his recent visit to Canada for conversations with the RCMP and perhaps others. These are so various and detailed a reader wonders whether they come from a vivid imagination or from tips of an investigator.
If seems clear the Conservative party’s senate caucus believes there has been a concerted, calculated plan by the government to exploit the Airbus affair, and that what has developed has not been all a consequence of straightforward police work. Such an interpretation seems right after reading what several Tory senators have been saying about the diabolical injustice regarding the federal letter asserting Mulroney’s guilt of a serious crime. Whatever their part, it’s my hunch the Chretien crew wish the Airbus case were “kaput.”

Note a mistake in my recent column on the late Bill Kempling. It should have been “Merrill’s Marauders” not “Martin’s Marauders.” U.S. general Frank Merrill led a long-range penetration force in Burma in WW II. The Martin Marauder was the B-26 bomber.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, May 26, 1996
ID: 12603583
TAG: 199605240125
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C5
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

PM A LIGHTNING ROD FOR VOTER DISPLEASURE

Is the bloom finally off the Chretien rose? The question comes in the wake of last week’s Gallup poll showing the PM’s approval rating has plummeted to 47%, down 21% from a year ago.
Given the important, even pre-eminent role the leader’s image plays in a party’s fortunes, these results should give Liberal MPs in marginal ridings in Ontario and the West pause.
Do Gallup’s results indicate voters are coming to view the prime minister as a well-meaning bumbler who cannot see the woods for the trees?
Is that too presumptuous, too harsh? Consider how much of the government’s agenda as set out in the Red Book in the last campaign remains unfinished business, despite 2 1/2 years in office and an often ineffectual opposition. Many of these issues retain the potential to embarrass both the PM and his party.
The promise to “scrap” the GST is the most obvious. Many pundits attribute the Gallup results to the Great Sales Tax Debacle, during which prime ministerial leadership was conspicuously absent.
Despite losing three MPs (including his deputy prime minister), Chretien never made it clear where he stands.
Does he agree with his finance minister (and his former deputy PM) that the promise to scrap it was foolish and impossible to fulfil? Or does he hold with the Liberal backroomers who argue the real mistake was Finance Minister Paul Martin admitting that harmonizing the GST with the sales taxes of a few provinces fell short of the commitment to replace it?
So far, Chretien’s garbles fit the latter interpretation.
The GST mess won’t go away. The attempt to buy a solution through paying the Maritime provinces to harmonize their sales taxes with the federal tax has only made things worse, as shown by Quebec’s demand for compensation for having harmonized its sales taxes with the feds when the GST was introduced. Alberta’s Premier Ralph Klein supports their claim, more proof the Liberals have managed to turn an essentially federal issue into another bone of federal-provincial contention.
Brilliant.
One of Chretien’s proudest boasts during his first two years in office was how he personally cancelled two contracts redolent of Tory sleaze and arrogance: the Pearson Airport privatization and the order for new navy helicopters.
Today we don’t hear much about these examples of his decisiveness – with good reason. Both matters remain unresolved, and have or will come to cost the taxpayers dearly.
In the Pearson deal, the government’s attempt to block legal action by the aggrieved parties dies with the last parliamentary session. Since then it hasn’t figured how best to revive it, and an expensive, embarrassing settlement remains likely.
In the case of the helicopters, Canadians paid $478 million to settle with the various contractors involved, with nary a machine to show for it. The need for new helicopters remains – according to the government’s own defence policy this is one of its highest priorities. Yet 212 years later no order has been tendered, nor will one be for another year.
Why? Because of Chretien’s penchant for feeding the deficit monster defence dollars. By then the machines ordered by the Tories would have been entering service. Until new choppers do arrive (next century?) the government must hope no more of the 30-year-old Sea Kings crash, exposing the foolishness and callousness of cancelling the original deal without an alternative at hand.
What about gun control? Surely that is a done deal, and a winner? Perhaps not.
The mainstream media barely noticed the recent announcement that Ottawa had withdrawn the regulations developed to carry out the bill’s purposes. Until these are retooled and agreed to by the provinces, our new gun laws remain nothing but bits of paper.
Given the strong objections raised by many provincial governments (of all political stripes) which will have to enforce them, the road ahead looks rocky. Who will pay for the new system? And how much are not-so-minor little details Justice Minister Allan Rock has yet to work out?
At the time the bill was debated the provincial governments and gun lobby argued that the federal Liberals didn’t understand what they were getting into. Right on.
It is a political truism that governments sow the seeds of their own destruction. Since 1993 Jean Chretien has been busy planting, but without serious thought. There are now signs of a bountiful crop for opposition reaping. Whether these parties can get their acts together long enough for the harvest remains to be seen.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, May 24, 1996
ID: 12603107
TAG: 199605230159
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

AN MP WHO HAD THE RIGHT STUFF

One in a small scatter of genuine Canadian war heroes who has been in the House of Commons died this week of a heart attack. Not that Bill Kempling, who represented Burlington from 1972-93, thought of himself as a hero – although he’d say when pressed that he’d had “a hard, interesting war.”
So Kempling leaves us at 76, missing the likely return of Sheila Copps to the House by a few weeks. He would have been wrily amused and satisfied when she resigned as an MP, regretting her “fast-lipped” election promise that she’d quit if a Chretien government failed to abolish the GST.
It was Copps and her ultra-partisan antics in the House which brought Kempling far more national attention in 1991 than ever came his way from a busy participation in Parliament or his service in World War II. Copps, backed strongly by militant feminists, revelled in the oral harrassment she suffered from Kempling’s alleged shout of “Slut!” across the the floor of the chamber, and he was much embarrassed.
Kempling was twice the chief whip of the Tory caucus, once in opposition, once in power. A businessman by vocation, he was an authority on the steel and iron trade, an intervenor for small business and always zealous in attendance and taking part in committees. He was such an authority on trade that a lot of his colleagues thought he’d get the trade portfolio in the first Mulroney cabinet, but he’d earned the PM’s distaste by vigorous work for a leadership rival. So it was Kempling’s fate as an MP to slug along, not complaining or moping, a diligent MP and parliamentary secretary, partisan, of course, but not to extremes.
A neighboring MP, Don Blenkarn, knew I was a World War II veteran for whom the military history of Canada was a hobby. He asked if I knew that Kempling, a cheery, stubby, rotund man in middle age, had been an RCAF pilot from 1940 (when he was 19) through the war, flying over England and Northwest Europe, then in the Mediterranean and at Malta and Egypt, and then in the long, cruel campaign against the Japanese in Southeast Asia. He often piloted the charismatic Orde Wingate, who directed the Chindit forces sent into Burma.
FREEDOM WALK
Flight Lieut. Kempling shared adventures with an American brigadier of Flying Tiger fame who became the model for the syndicated cartoon character, Steve Canyon, and he worked with “Martin’s Marauders,” the legendary U.S. force sent to help the Chinese Army open the Burma Road. As the war was ending, he had to walk 1,000 miles through jungles and mountains to get to India, and freedom.
What I found as I spent more and more coffee time with Kempling talking about the war was the quite private and thorough way he had built a broad collection of books and articles about the conflict, concentrating on both the air war as a whole and on the Southeast Asian theatre, from the fall of Singapore through the Chindit period to the drive of Field Marshal William Slim’s army through Rangoon and Mandalay in the least known of all Allied campaigns.
What I appreciated most was Kempling on flying and its demands, fears and pleasures. He put me on to five or six books, what he called “classics on flight.” He was not vengeful toward our former enemies; indeed, he’d spent much effort in making a friendly link with the family of a Japanese soldier who’d literally died in his arms.
It was a stretch to imagine this busy, straightforward MP, intent on the House and his policy aims and his beloved community of Burlington, as a slight lad in his early 20s, going through years of action – crammed with dangers – while at war’s sharp points of both killing and command.
Kempling apologized in the House for the offence he had given Copps and the women rallying to her but he didn’t acknowledge his epithet had been “Slut!” Long afterwards he told me that was not the word or words but, he grimaced, “She had me hostile. Too hostile.”
In large part my curiosity about the incident was personal. No MP in the 1,000 or so I’ve heard or watched or read has ever bothered me as much as an affront to reason and democracy as Sheila Copps. She symbolizes the perennial taint in our politics which is too much acclaim and not enough scorn for sheer partisanship – that is, for vicious partisanship pushed to the extremes of irresponsibility.
As I see her, Copps is the most negative symbol there is for the modern member of Parliament. The late Bill Kempling? He symbolized the mature citizen of some personal and public achievement who became one of the journeyman sort of MPs. They are mostly unsung except for a collective contempt, but they keep our most basic institution bearable and functional.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, May 22, 1996
ID: 12602609
TAG: 199605210049
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

FORMER MPS GET NO RESPECT

Several months ago a Hill story about a permanent display of the names of all MPs and senators in the past 34 Parliaments brought a quite hostile journalistic reaction. Not just the news stories were nasty, so were many editorials.
The news had come from the office of House Speaker Gilbert Parent, initiating sponsor of what has been titled a “Commemoration of the History of Parliamentary Service in Canada.” The costs of the display are not borne by the public purse. The unveiling of plaques with the names for the past Parliaments takes place May 29 on the Hill.
The initial plan was to line the plaques along the handsome central hall which runs from below the Peace Tower to the white pine splendor of the Library of Parliament. The cranky lack of blessing for the display by the media may have altered the plan. Now the display of names will be on the walls of a wide vestibule in the Centre Block’s basement, recently created to be a welcoming foyer for visitors.
A host of former MPs will be at the ceremonies. Many belong to the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians, formed a decade ago. Its leaders have been publicizing the ceremony among former MPs and their families. The Governor General, a former MP, is to host a reception for the members of the association at Rideau Hall after the unveiling.
Given the pride and sense of accomplishments so many ex-MPs feel about representing a riding and its people there is a gulf between their appreciation of what they were and the scorn which flourished at the news such a repetitious roster of “nobodies” was to get a permanent home. The tenor in the media critiques of these ex-MPs is that most were duds, place-fillers and party hacks, most of whom had neither utility nor worthy achievements. A few editorials suggested the few truly excellent MPs of renown might merit a plaque but generally: what a roster of ciphers!
It has been my take on MPs over years of experience with them, and as one myself for a time, that by and large they are good citizens and usually mirror their constituents. I admire a goodly minority, and I’ve liked most I’ve known. Most tried their best, given their talents and the cruelty of the system to backbenchers.
Although the national media gang downgrades MPs it overlooks the reality – particularly in rural, hinterland and small city ridings – that most MPs are respected and not reviled.
I am not enthusiastic about the plaques even though my name will be on four of them – for the 23rd to 26th Parliaments. For me those were fascinating years, often rewarding, particularly in a sense of community service. A trite but right phrase for being an MP is that it’s very educational. Nonetheless, I wince a bit at the record and my place in it.
NO NATIONAL RECOGNITION
Of the several thousand former MPs, probably 99% do not have any national profile today, good or bad, or a mention in political histories. I’d guess that 75% or more ex-MPs never had any national recognition, even though the House has been the most watched and weighed forum in Canada for 129 years.
Was there ever a better reckoning on MPs than today’s jaundiced one? Yes, but only relatively, and pre-television.
In the more genteel and less publicly reckless political milieu before coverage of the Hill became the stock stuff of our TV, and before the ballooning of politicians’ staffs, most notably for prime ministers, but also for ministers, and even for MPs, Ottawa was far less familiar to the people and not so minutely judged and maligned day to day, not only by the media but by the participants and their aides.
The overriding writ of the PM, his or her tight grip on the government caucus, the durability and inner-circle dominance of the senior mandarins in guiding or denying policy lines, plus the well-developed dependence of MPs for their election on the strengths of their leader and the central party organization, have all contributed to the now common view that most MPs are hangers-on in a world of broken promises to the public, partisan patronage, sleazy deals, high pay and costly perks.
It’s unfortunate Speaker Parent didn’t get his memorial plaques in place 18-24 months ago. Then, although the low repute of the Mulroney administration hung over former MPs, there was optimism and much good will toward the Chretien government and this unusual Parliament. Now the current lot of MPs, in government or in opposition, seems as maddenly perverse and inadequate as its predecessors of unhappy memory.
So the commemoration next week may be appraised very meanly in the media. I doubt, however, if even a short-list Canadian Parliamentary Hall of Fame would draw applause, even if the Speaker could devise a workable voting procedure for the choices.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, May 19, 1996
ID: 12601975
TAG: 199605170186
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C5
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

DEFENCE MINISTER ACTS TO RIGHT AN OLD WRONG

Once in a long while a columnist gets rewarded when a piece not only draws a large response in letters and calls but leads directly to action by politicians.
This has been so with a column three weeks ago about a World War II matter. Fifty years ago the defence department in Ottawa took a decision in secret not to process certificates of appreciation from the British government to the almost 6,000 Canadians who had volunteered for the RCAF early in the war to train and then served in the RAF as radar operators and mechanics.
A few years ago one of the operators, R.F. Linden, now an historian in Ottawa, used access-to-information processes to dig out the fact that the RCAF in 1945 had shredded 6,000 copies of the certificate. None of those for whom it was intended knew about it until Linden found the evidence.
If this seems astonishing about such a substantial number of men, remember there was a heavy shroud of wartime secrecy over radar as a technology and an operation, and the men served in small numbers at most of the fronts and relatively few were in Canadian units or under the command of high-ranking Canadians.
Shocked by the shredding, Linden began a campaign with some comrades to have a reproduction of the original certificate given to those men still alive or to the families of those who are gone. The appeal was baldly dismissed by the minister of defence and his mandarins, so an organized group of the former radar volunteers decided to make their own award of the “appreciation” at a reunion set for Calgary June 7-9.
On hearing of the shredding and the rebuff, my anger at this too typical bureaucratic stonewalling led to my piece (April 28) about the former radar men. It’s frustrating that so many veterans’ groups such as Hong Kong prisoners of war and merchant seamen have had to fight for recognition and recompense from Ottawa over many decades when the same government has been so generous in dispensing money and apologies to others it allegedly wronged (for example, almost $400 million for some 20,000 Japanese and Japanese Canadians).
Within hours of publication of the column on the radar case defence minister David Collenette was on the phone to a former MP colleague, Lloyd Francis, who was one of the indignant volunteers, assuring him he would move on the certificates, and a day or so later he announced this in the House. Thus, the volunteers alive and able to travel are looking forward to getting their certificates in Calgary from a representative of the government.
The even more rewarding kicker for me out of this has been the delight of so many radar operators who knew nothing about the certificate but who had felt that the radar technology and their service had been vital in the war effort even though it had been unsung. It’s been gratifying to hear from relatives, for example a daughter who says “Now we know what dad did in the war.” I’ve heard from one operator who became a PoW in the Pacific. Several men have sent me accounts they wrote about the war for their children and friends. Bless them all as they remember and take satisfaction in what Canadians did together when the democratic world was on the line.
Let me note two other happenings that touch on war veterans and the government of Canada, one heavily ironical, the other largely reassuring to taxpayers.
No disconnected band of brothers in the war has had more trouble getting recognition and entitlements to benefits and services than merchant seamen who served in dangerous waters. Slowly, grudgingly the government has extended more of such, but as the seamen’s latest brief states they “… receive some, not all these benefits, are not war veterans, and do not have access to benefits as military veterans.”
And so the Merchant Navy Coalition has just asked the parliamentary committee on defence and veterans affairs to hear evidence on its behalf from Dave Broadfoot. Remember Dave? He has had national recogniton as the member for Kicking Horse Pass and as Sergeant Renfrew, RCMP. He is both an emeritus of the Royal Canadian Air Farce and a wartime merchant seaman. If his appearance comes to pass … what a show for cable TV!
The other item on veterans is the assessment of DVA in the fresh report of the federal auditor general. Although he is critical on half a dozen matters, this is not a catalogue of bureaucratic horrors or bootless spending. The chief concern is about forecasting.
DVA lacks dependable data on the rising curve of costs for health and home care as most of the 475,000 veterans alive pass into their late 70s and early 80s. Also, in some cases money being paid veterans or their families under the Veterans Independence Program (which aids home living, rather than rest home warehousing) are not fully accountable. Decisions on applications for pensions are often too slow in coming. The method of controlling over-the-counter medications is too costly. And a few provinces are shirking their responsibilities for some veteran patients whose costs should be theirs, not DVA’s.
While it’s clear the DVA is nothing like the mare’s nest of lost ends or a sinkhole for billions that has been the case with Indian Affairs, one paradox jumps out from the AG’s report. The 24,000 veterans in Quebec have available some 800 “priority access beds” whereas there are only 1,250 such beds for the 135,000 possible veteran clients in Ontario – a ratio of 1:30 in Quebec and 1:104 in Ontario. Odd.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, May 17, 1996
ID: 12601370
TAG: 199605160134
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

SCOUTING REPORT ON STEPHANE DION

A reader called and in the name of fairness wondered why I would meanly downgrade Jean Chretien’s newish minister for provincial relations, Stephane Dion, without giving more evidence of his inadequacies than the assertion he is not going to be “the Pied Piper for federalism.”
It’s a fair protest, and to defend my appraisal of the young professor-cum-politician I begin with what seems egotistical: that I’ve observed hundreds of politicians, coming and going from Parliament, and any political journalist must always be measuring politicians, just as a hockey or baseball scout appraises players through his career.
Politicians bring attention to themselves variously: simply by their elevation in office or through sheer physical presence and force; or through particular talents such as persuasive speech (Allan Mac-Eachen); and command of invective (Brian Tobin or John Crosbie); or through particular ideas (Dennis Mills’ long advocacy of the single tax); or by symbolizing a national group’s needs (Stanley Knowles and pensioners).
Just before his swearing-in last winter Dion issued a federalist manifesto. He was immediately touted as a rather unique political scientist in Quebec because of his strong, pro-federalist views. His family ties gave him a leg up in recognition in Quebec and through the Canadian academe because his father, Leon Dion, now 73, has been one of the most opinionated and well-regarded scholars in Quebec. One of my first reactions to the younger Dion as a political prospect was that he is shyer and more diffident than his rather pugnacious, assertive father.
The Dion manifesto emphasized his devotion to federalism as a conception, better than a unitary system in dealing with diversity. And his straightforward constitutional goal is recognition of an intrinsically French-speaking Quebec within the federation. Such a bold, beginning sortie and the rather short but clear speeches which began to come from Dion showed he was sure the prime minister had given him both a major role in crystallizing cabinet policy and tactics for the unity file and the freedom to do such in both Quebec and the rest of Canada without fear of contradiction or squelching.
All this about Dion was promising and sensible to a federalist like me and some 20 million other Canadians. Since he won his way into the House Dion has made a few speeches there and many more outside it. He has neither scintillated nor been much abused in the oral question period, in part because the BQ MPs don’t fix on him much. He’s consistently open and slow-speaking in demeanor. Unlike Jean Chretien, he’s not given to nasty partisan jibes.
NEVER BE A PIED PIPER
My opinion that Dion will never be the Pied Piper of federalism in English-speaking Canada formed from observing him in the House and in press scrums, in reading closely the texts of his speeches (which are clear, concise, repetitious, and without imagery or passion) and by trolling for reactions with some of his lesser colleagues from outside Quebec. The latter like him because he’s pleasant and without pretension but they note his naivete and the whimsical professor form.
As an MP from the West said to me: “He knows so little about the West and its story.” An MP from Metro said: “He’s a nice guy but I wish he had fire in his belly.”
Another MP compared Dion’s speeches with course outlines of Political Science 101. “He’s a pedagogue, not a debater.” Evidence of the lecturer is striking in the text of a speech given Monday in Montreal on “the economy and national unity.”
As usual the Dion base line was how well federalism has served Canada, providing “both solidarity and diversity,” the latter so vital to French-speaking Canadians and Quebec. And as always Dion extolled the flexibility of the Chretien government on federal-provincial issues. He stressed its willingness to harmonize, to respond to provincial demands for federal withdrawal from some fields. His conclusion included the familiar “commitment to entrench in the Canadian constitution regional vetoes and recognition of Quebec as a distinct society within Canada.”
He has not – I repeat not – given more than hints that he has developed or is developing a so-called “tough Plan B.” If that has suddenly and rather concretely become the Chretien strategy I wager it was not first formed by Stephane Dion.
Familiar, simple, sound, reasonable, without passion or vivacity – these words and phrases describe Dion’s message. He’s not a political calamity, but is he rousing a following in English Canada or in provincial governments? In my judgment, no! I see him as a sound soldier in the ranks of federalism but neither its magnetic leader nor its wily strategist.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, May 15, 1996
ID: 12930330
TAG: 199605140101
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

HAVE FEDS GONE TO PLAN B?

What meaning does one take from the latest huffs and puffs in our serial soap opera over Quebec?
One must be chary of reading too much toughness into the federal intervention in the Bertrand court case motion to deny the BQ government’s idea that secession needs only a simple majority that favors it in a referendum vote.
One may want to believe the intervention means the so-called Plan B is under way, that the days of turning the other cheek to the BQ and Lucien Bouchard are over. Perhaps. Maybe. But what about the justice minister? Allan Rock’s nonsense line that the intervention is merely a legal, not a political, issue, or how Jean Chretien so cautiously looped tough talk in his words about Bouchard and the BQ government just a few hours after the premier said he wouldn’t go to the people over the intervention.
The fascinating aspect raised by the intervention is whether it means Chretien has realized at last that his capacity to sustain a united Canada is being seriously doubted by many sages of federalism. Why, even Toronto Star editorials and columnists have been questioning whether he has what it takes, and the Star’s fix is rarely anti-Liberal.
Or consider recent remarks by Thomas Kierans, president of the C.D. Howe Institute, a business mover and shaker from a most political family. He thinks, and says business leaders agree with him, we must get a quick process lined up for dealing with Quebec’s possible departure. To attain this, Kierans admits Chretien may have to go.
Or consider Saskatchewan Premier Roy Romanow’s concern expressed last week that: “There is no mechanism for the breakup of the union in the Canadian system.” He thinks we need the decision from the Bertrand case, and that it is likely to be that however Quebecers vote in a referendum “they’re still under the current law. They’re still in Canada.”
Such approval by Romanow for some form of Plan B to get a process for handling Quebec’s push to secession was coupled with his insistence there has to be a national agreement concerted by Ottawa and the provincial governments to deal with job creation, a sound social net and joint strategies for mastering governmental debt load, rather than major constitutional changes.
GROWING SKEPTICISM
Despite Chretien’s long run of popularity in English Canada, revealed in many opinion polls, one senses that skepticism about his competence for the unity task has been rising.
Firstly, and crudely, the darkest doubts come from his status with too many Quebec voters – so lamentably low!
Secondly, it’s because of his veers and dawdling on the unity. His frenetic sashays around the world and his repetitious flaunting of the Red Book with childish declamations about its fulfillment can no longer disguise his muddle. The veers began in the last week of the referendum campaign last October. Almost surely they reflected a man stunned at the failure of his long-held belief that in a crunch Quebecers are more materialistically, than nationalistically, inclined. He doesn’t seem to be moving on a strategy to replace this old, lost one, or to any new tactics beyond the irrelevant parliamentary motion about “distinct society” and his recruitment of two fresh ministers from Quebec, neither of whom is proving to be a Pied Piper in either Quebec or west of the Ottawa River.
A third element in the doubts about Chretien comes from his bland, mediocre supporting cast, so empty of alternatives to him.
It is also more and more apparent, even though critics in the Rest of Canada hesitate to say it, that the prime minister has neither a very compatible nor an exceptionally able federalist ally in the National Assembly in Daniel Johnson and his caucus.
In part, anglo Canadians have to raise sharp questions about Chretien and federalist talents because the shock and outrage in the French media and academe over the simple and arguably necessary intervention in the Bertrand case has been so extravagant.
Why even the Tory federal leader, Jean Charest, thinks it was a provocative and stupid move. He and many federalists in and outside Quebec cannot see how Chretien, after participating in two referendums on sovereignty would now deny that the Quebecois, through their National Assembly and provincial government do not have the right to a unilaterial declaration of independence once a referendum affirms that secession is approved by half the voters plus one.
Of course, if Chretien sticks with the implications of a successful court challenge it will mean more tensions about unity than ever before. It also should make him concede openly his old strategy was a failure, and constitutionally wrong and unfair to those of us outside Quebec. Is he that big a politician? Hmm.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, May 12, 1996
ID: 12929986
TAG: 199605100154
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C5
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

GAY RIGHTS VOTE WOUNDS MORE THAN JUST REFORM

While most observers can see the paradox in the political frenzy last week over homosexuality, the question begs an answer about why it has been so much more fixed on the Reform caucus than on the Liberal caucus.
I explain it mostly with the reign of a particular political correctness which favors homosexuality, most notable and militant among members of the media. For several years few in our political media have had any time or appreciation or favor for Reform Leader Preston Manning and company. Thus, the blitz on his “rednecks.”
The rigor in such correctness extends into most academic circles and to those who speak for many interests and institutions in our big cities, especially those in arts and letters.
The intrinsic issues in what’s had Parliament Hill seething and videotape rolling are more abstract and durable than mere splits within two party caucuses over a change in a federal act. They have been and are the province of sociologists, psychologists, health workers, statisticians and the clergy, as well as the many pressure groups which support or oppose homosexual influence and practices.
Although Allan Rock, the first sponsor of the contentious measure of the day, is a practising Roman Catholic, a major force against it is the Church of Rome.
What one may take from the antics of MPs and the lobbying forces this spring is a populace widely split on the issues around homosexuality and its alleged promotion.
The splits show three particular components. As with gun control laws, a rural and hinterland majority contends with urban sophisticates. Christians who value moral issues of right and wrong contend with the liberally minded advocates of tolerance toward any who are different. And those with less in both education and income tend to differ with those with higher education and incomes.
The frenzy on the Hill arose following the long-delayed move by Rock, the justice minister, to meet a Liberal party undertaking to add “sexual orientation” to those human attributes in the federal law on rights which should not cause or trigger discrimination.
The Hill’s insiders took this sudden move as a Liberal tactic to divert media and opposition attention from the bind which PM Jean Chretien and the Liberals were in over the GST and the momentary martyrdom of Sheila Copps.
In the short run it seems brilliant – in military phraseology, the diversion became a second front against the chief opposition rival in English Canada, though at a likely cost of continuing mistrust and bitterness in the present Liberal caucus.
If viewed narrowly, the change to the rights bill will affect only those workplaces which fall under federal, not provincial jurisdiction – i.e., about 11% of them. Most provinces have had the phrase “sexual orientation” in their rights legislation for some years.
To put it mildly, opponents of the bill do not accept the narrow view and see it as one more stage in the promotion of practices and a lifestyle which undermines family values, encourages pedophilia and furthers the spread of AIDS.
When Rock moved the bill to debate 12 days ago it was not clear if it were to be a “free” vote. Would Liberal MPs be released from party discipline to vote their conscience? And would defeat of the bill in the House be the proverbial lack of confidence in the government and force a general election?
Would the “whip” be on the backbench as it had been last year during the long tussle over the controversial gun control bill?
After speculation mounted about the many Liberals who opposed this addition to the Human Rights Act, the PM approved the free vote but ordered all his ministers to support it.
The BQ caucus, the Official Opposition, had previously declared its united backing for the addition, despite some indications several of its MPs disagreed with the bill.
The Reform Party caucus had indicated its opposition to the addition, although a few of its big city MPs had revealed doubts about their vote, and some referred to the party’s principle that an MP should vote on a bill as the majority of his or her constituents would want.
Obviously Manning, absent as the debate began, failed to appreciate how the media and the Liberals and BQ would zero in on Reform’s outright opposition to adding sexual orienation to the rights act.
Certainly such serious MPs as Bob Ringma and Grant Hill were (I think) unaware of the figurative media mine field that critical remarks on homosexuals would take them into.
Of course, the small NDP caucus, spirited by the first overt homosexual MP, Svend Robinson, approved the addition.
As for the Progressive Conservatives, in power Kim Campbell as justice minister had proposed just such a change, in line with party policy, but there was firm opposition to it within the caucus, rather like the present Liberal situation. So there was no legislative action, although one wouldn’t guess that from Jean Charest’s lambasting of the Reformers as reactionaries on homosexual issues.
It’s regrettable that almost no coverage by the major media was given to the 100 or so MPs who spoke in the debate. Most were earnest, some were non-partisan and a few were compelling.
Rock, though tricky in spots, made a good case for the addition and tried well to knock down the fears it has raised. His line that there were no future ramifications from the change – such as same-sex social benefits or homosexual marriages – was rebutted well by several Liberal MPs like Dan McTeague and Paul Steckle and by Reform MPs like Sharon Hayes and Grant Hill.
The change to the rights bill will become law, but the issue of homosexuality will bedevil the political parties and Canada well into the next century – even though the pervading enthusiasm among journalists is pro-homosexuality and against those who see it as immoral and destructive of the male-female family basis in our society.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, May 10, 1996
ID: 12929699
TAG: 199605090198
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THE AWFUL TRUTH ABOUT CHRETIEN

A grim truth is in the open, and who knows to what it may lead. Maybe nothing in the short term.
The truth is simply a growing recognition that Jean Chretien is not a prime minister sure to keep Canada together, no matter how many points he and/or his Liberal party have had for so long in the opinion polls.
The most open concessions that we have a national leadership crisis were in remarks at the gathering last weekend in Ottawa of the Confederation 2000 group. Former leaders of parties and governments like Peter Lougheed, David Peterson, Claude Ryan, Bob Rae and Joe Clark spoke about leadership. None nailed Chretien and his inadequacies to the wall but their implications may be drawn from phrases like “a perceived vacuum of leadership.”
It is more and more frustrating for serious citizens, worried at the consequences crystallizing in Quebec from the near victory of the PQ in last October’s referendum, that a PM with both a majority caucus and an appreciative majority following beyond Quebec has such a low status there.
We want a checkmate to the magnetic Quebec premier, Lucien Bouchard. Where do we get the federalist leader to master him and defeat his coming initiatives in elections or the next referendum on sovereignty?
I use the collective “we” because almost all of us outside Quebec want Canada to stay intact. That includes many who have been dubious about the federal Liberal party but who recognize that Chretien, his government and the party are crucial to rebuffing Bouchard and the PQ’s intentions.
For myself, for decades I have admired Chretien’s drive, stamina, ambition, adroitness, pragmatism and, yes, even his political ruthlessness. But I’ve also regretted his catch-as-catch-can politicking so manifest in his dodgy reasoning and often incoherent remarks. An inability to study hard and long has kept him from storing up the ballast which a nation in turmoil needs in its prime leader. Most of us tend to like Chretien as plain folks; we get a kick out of him; we marvel at his dexterity and longevity. But it’s getting harder to respect him and trust his judgment, particulary since last October.
Clearly, the skeptical appraisals of Chretien that now are in the open in English Canada were made and had their effects in Quebec long ago – even as he flourished in the rest of Canada with his Straight from the Heart patriotism.
NO FEDERALIST MESSIAHS
It’s barely two months since Chretien made the bold move of drafting two Quebecers – Stephane Dion and Pierre Pettigrew – into his cabinet. Already we realize neither is anything nigh a federalist messiah in English Canada, let alone Quebec. Neither has a popular personality nor a fascinating gift of gab. Prof. Dion is unlikely to be any more effective in selling federalism’s cause in Quebec than Daniel Johnson has been.
Neither of these cabinet additions, nor the other changes made, can be labelled disasters but Chretien still has a most ordinary and dull ministry. Not one minister in Ontario or B.C. or Alberta has a high regional profile or a great popular following. In short, a host of alternatives to Chretien is not at hand. Witness the PM’s declaration he’s holding her old No. 2 status for Sheila Copps once she romps through her re-election. Note that the most steadying minister in caucus terms, House dean Herb Gray, has a most serious illness.
I make no apologies to readers who’ll think this is a cruel sashay into a sad subject best left alone; i.e., we have a political champion who is literally unchallenged in the federal apparatus but who is unlikely to master the challenge to Canada of this century.
Last Tuesday Rosemary Speirs, the Star’s Ottawa columnist, wrote of gossip running in Ottawa about Paul Martin, Jr. as Chretien’s heir apparent. She’s right. There is such talk going around, and Martin has become the only alternative getting any speculation.
As I see and hear it, many Liberals, particularly backbench MPs and a few long-time toilers at fund-raising are more and more bothered by Chretien’s low status in Quebec, by his veering strategies for Quebec and by a dearth of magnetic alternatives even if Chretien and his cadre could be convinced Canada is more likely to be lost than sustained on his watch.
Yes, Martin has more attractions than anyone else in the party’s upper profile except, perhaps, Newfoundland Premier Brian Tobin. No sort of Colin Powell seems at hand in the land for a draft.
The open doubting of Chretien’s inadequacies will grow so long as he remains low in Quebec opinion. By winter there could be groups, consciously outside both caucus and the Liberals’ national executive, promoting Paul Martin as a PM Quebecers could admire and trust.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, May 08, 1996
ID: 12929412
TAG: 199605070143
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

CABLE NEWS FIGHT MAKES HEADLINES

The CRTC is hearing a swarm of applications for a variety of new cable channels but most political and media interest is on competing bids for “headline news” channels – one involving CTV, the other the CBC.
Is there likely to be a discreet intervention to the CRTC by the Chretien ministry in favor of the joint application by CBC-Southam for such a cable channel and against the joint bid by the private networks, CTV and Tele-Metropole Inc.?
One asks because sharing in another cable channel would put more non-governmental money into the Mother Corp. Clearly the government is chary of forking over more of its revenues to the CBC, and in the last five years the Crown company has put more and more resources and programming emphasis (and its justifications) into news and public affairs operations.
The cable news channels the CBC now has for Newsworld (English) and RDI (French) have helped keep CBC staffing up and extended its national raison d’etre. The headline channel would complement the CBC overall in terms of both cause and cash, and link the CBC with benefits in promotion, data access, and shared costs to the mightiest of Canada’s newspaper chains.
My reading of the cable news scenario may seem naive, but I don’t think the cabinet is going to get into the choice between CBC-Southam and CTV. What there may be in savings for the federal pocket has a political counter-balance. From Pierre Trudeau onwards, the Liberals have cursed Radio-Canada’s news personnel and coverage for bias toward Quebec sovereignty. So strengthening private network news capability in Quebec makes political sense.
If the decision by the CRTC is free from governmental pressure, the odds still favor the CBC-Southam. This is not on merit but because it would keep continuity with the Newsworld decision a few years ago and help sustain the Mother Corp through an era whose obsessions with government deficits and debt-load have imperilled so-called public broadcasting.
Of course, CTV-Tele-Metropole’s application should win in a waltz on either intrinsic merit or the worth of competition.
CTV has had far slighter resources than the CBC in manpower and above-the-line spending on news and commentary, but it has a handy edge over the CBC in national news ratings. The gap between CTV affiliate stations and the CBC in telecasting of news and commentary (both early evening and late night) is even wider, running in regions like Vancouver and Ottawa to margins of 4-1.
EXTRA RESOURCES
The pro-CTV argument I prefer is that the cable and ad revenues from the headline news channel would give the private networks extra resources for personnel and reportage, much as Newsworld and RDI have supplemented the CBC’s capability and reach.
Given the slightness of CTV’s resources for news bureaus and reporters vis-a-vis the CBC, the quality of what it does in news and the response of viewers to it have been extraordinary. It deserves recognition from the CRTC in making this decision.
An award to CBC-Southam favors giganticism and tilts toward news monopoly. There are drawbacks in it for both the political system we have and for diversity in viewpoints.
The “system” question arises because now – already! – by far the largest news agency in the country, dwarfing all others, is a government corporation. Because of parliamentary traditions and practices an agency like the CBC is recognized (and defends itself) as at arm’s length from elected politicians. Political wisdom says CBC’s programming ought not be assayed critically by politicians and, of course, it’s dangerous for them individually to do so given the CBC’s control over so much access to the public.
I argue that as the CBC’s News entity became huge and accrued so much in talent, money and technology, it developed its own mind-set of values and priorities. Most of its “friends” would describe this as modern and progressive. Some critics would describe it as social-democratic, with a big city focus. The “set” is most noticeable in the time and attention CBC News has given the CBC’s own role, deeds, and needs since funding was capped in the Mulroney years.
A further aspect in the “set” is that CBC News has a duty to “set the agenda” for politics and hold politicians to it. This line, first articulated in the mid-’80s by a CBC news producer, Elly Alboim, has been taken up and repeated by Peter Mansbridge and the top CBC news boss, Tony Burman.
In closing my argument, the CRTC should approve the CTV-Tele-Metropole bid with the pragmatic observation that not getting the further cable channel is no disaster for the Mother Corp.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, May 05, 1996
ID: 12929085
TAG: 199605030155
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C4
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

A TALE OF GRIT REBELS, PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE

Jean Chretien has never let the facts get in the way of a good story, especially one that proves his point. So it was last Saturday, as the prime minister lauded his longtime colleague Herb Gray in a speech to the Ontario wing of the Liberal party.
The solicitor general and government House leader was offered up as the quintessential Liberal – for over three decades as an MP and minister he has served his constituents and his country with integrity, modesty and diligence. More importantly, throughout that time Gray has been loyal to his party – a real team player.
The prime minister contrasted Gray’s selflessness with the self-serving grandstanding of others who put personal ambition ahead of the good of the party. Although he never mentioned the name, all knew to whom he referred: rebel MP John Nunziata. Chretien had just thrown the former Rat Packer out of the Liberal caucus for voting against the budget to protest his government’s failure to scrap the GST as promised.
My quibble with Chretien’s version of things? Certainly not the characterization of Gray’s career as one of honorable public service. No. It is the PM’s recollection of Gray as a consistent team player that missed the mark. For once upon a time Gray was a rebel too.
In the early ’70s, both men were ministers in the Trudeau minority government. Gray, the party’s leading economic nationalist, was too radical, too independent, for some, including Michael Pitfield (now a senator), then Pierre Trudeau’s principal adviser.
To govern, the Grits needed NDP support and Gray and his views were useful in this regard. So his idiosyncracies were tolerated. However, in 1974 when the Liberals were returned with a majority, the party hierarchy no longer needed him, and he was dropped from cabinet – unlike Chretien. Herb, the rock ‘n’ roll record collector, spent the next six years on the backbenches, often pursuing issues the Grit powers-that-be would rather he hadn’t.
Finally, in 1980 all was forgiven and he was reappointed to the ministry.
Is this really the example the prime minister would like his MPs to emulate? Gray’s history as a Liberal MP, as a team player, raises other questions. In light of it, how should the disgraced Sheila Copps be dealt with, assuming the citizens of Hamilton return her to Ottawa?
Her intemperance, flippant arrogance and contempt for the public has caused far more embarrassment and damage to the Liberal party than Gray’s philosophical musings ever did, and her grandstanding was on a par with Nunziata’s.
Should she not be made an example of, like Gray was? Would not a stretch of backbench obscurity be fitting, given her sins against the party?
Chretien rationalized Nunziata’s expulsion by warning that without strict party discipline Canada would end up as an American-style democracy, with lobbyists using campaign contributions to buy the votes of individual MPs.
In painting this apocalyptic vision of the nation at the mercy of an army of John Nunziatas and Frank Moores’, the PM ignored the fact that money politics – Washington style – exists in large part because U.S. election financing laws are so lax. Canadian rules are more restrictive.
The notion that party discipline protects against the influence of well-heeled interest groups is pretty ironic. The Canadian way is for lobbyists to court the PM, his staff and his ministers – the people who have effective power – rather than mere MPs.
All this goes on behind closed doors, with donations payable to the party’s national coffers. Without party discipline the political elite could not deliver on unpopular promises made to lobby groups – it is the mechanism by which the public will is thwarted.
In Canada, failure to use the whip is akin to welshing on your commitments. Hence the outrage among gays and lesbians at Chretien’s refusal to invoke party discipline in support of the government’s amendments to the Human Rights Act, changes he says meet his election campaign promises to them.
The advantages of our system to the PM and those around him are obvious. Whether Canadians are better served than their southern neighbours is another matter.
In the guise of paying tribute to a colleague, Chretien offered a very cynical defence of the political status quo to those in his own party who might have the temerity to challenge it.
How this will play among the party faithful remains to be seen, but events since the speech ought to give them cause for concern.
In closing, I return to the estimable Gray. While his leader has been losing three MPs to self-inflicted wounds, he has been sidelined by illness, receiving treatment for cancer of the esophagus. Get well soon, Herb.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, April 26, 1996
ID: 12927890
TAG: 199604250204
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

A NEW TAKE ON AN OLD SCANDAL

When I was elected as a CCF MP for Port Arthur in 1957, the “scandal” then brewing seemed largely provincial and hurtful to Leslie Frost’s Tory ministry in Ontario. The manful scandal-digger was the Ontario CCF’s Donald C. MacDonald.
In time the media tagged this “the gas scandal,” even before its centre of political gravity and ministerial double-talk shifted from Queen’s Park to Parliament Hill.
For me the scandal has had a strange and uneasy course. Why? Because 30 years after I was denouncing the central figure in the scandal as another Liberal place-man with a conflict of interest, he and I became neighbors, then acquaintances and then friends. And I found the “villain” had his side to the story and real grievances over twisted and unfulfilled assurances from federal ministers and their staffs.
But at the beginning, as an MP in the region of the scandal, I was digging at it with Don MacDonald, unearthing accounts at the Lakehead and Nipigon of how private natural gasline companies, seeking municipal franchises, had swayed provincial cabinet ministers, mayors, reeves, and councillors with easy access to shares in their enterprises. At our western end of the pipeline scandal a provincial Tory lost his cabinet seat over his share acquisitions. But it was to the east in Sudbury where the core issue in the Northern Ontario gas pipeline affair emerged with the revelation that Leo Landreville, as mayor of Sudbury, had received what became a share package worth over $100,000 from the gas distribution company whose licence bid the city’s council had approved. This exchange occurred shortly before Lester Pearson, a partisan friend of the Liberal mayor, made him an Ontario judge, but was not revealed until months later.
At once the scandal which had rocked Premier Frost phased into a question for the prime minister and Parliament on the fitness or suitability for judicial duty of a man who had accepted what seemed a generous favor from a private entrepreneur while he was a mayor. The scandal was to peter out as a public matter long before its chief figure was indemnified by the federal government for his losses, over two decades after the revelation.
Today mostly lawyers will remember the case, and they in their thousands may turn a book about it due soon into a best-seller. For me the book is a jewel because it zeroes in on the inherent weakness in the parliamentary system which provides means and excuses for politicians to conceal and, often, to lie with impunity. It’s a convincing indictment of cabinet secrecy and its privileges.
BRILLIANT COMMENTATOR
Bad Judgment: The Case of Mr. Justice Leo A. Landreville is to be published by the U of T Press for the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History. The author, William Kaplan, a 39-year-old historian and law professor at the University of Ottawa, is as brilliant and widely versed a commentator as any about our society and government. He is a researcher of skill and persistence, a writer of clear, tight prose, and unusually gifted at exposition of complex issues.
A year ago he made such a superb, succinct presentation to a House committee on Canadian citizenship and what it should mean for us that it merited reading by all Canadians. Two of Kaplan’s previous books put difficult, messy episodes of our law and politics in focus – one on Hal Banks, the American union boss, imported by government to take over our seamen’s union; another on the battle by Jehovah’s Witnesses for their civil rights.
Two summers ago my neighbor and the central character in the gas scandal, Leo Landreville, told me Kaplan was studying his removal from office. He had agreed to co-operate fully, hoping that finally his removal as a judge would get the fair examination which Parliament, successive federal cabinets and the Law Society had denied him. I remember telling Landreville that Kaplan would be fair.
Now after a skim through the opening and two closing chapters of Bad Judgment I hazard that Landreville will be satisfied, although he’s not absolved of “bad judgment” but because Kaplan exposes the Pontius Pilate attitudes and the seedy snobbishness of the offficial legal fraternity of Ontario and the self-protective dithering of Prime Minister Pearson and several Liberal ministers of justice.
The cruellest savaging of Leo in his years of travail was by one of Canada’s legal icons, the late Justice Ivan Rand, who headed a federal inquiry into Landreville’s fitness to continue on the bench. I know Leo will chortle at one sentence in Kaplan’s book: “Rand read Landreville wrongly, from start to finish.” And I took delight as Kaplan ripped Rand’s text into shreds of bias and inconsistencies.
Keep your eye peeled for Bad Judgment, it’s a zinger.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, April 24, 1996
ID: 12927629
TAG: 199604230127
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

FROM MEDIA STAR TO RCMP SNITCH?

Who is the key informant for the Mounties and the department of justice in their much publicized determination that Brian Mulroney as prime minister benefitted from “kickbacks” on the sale of Airbus jets to Air Canada?
A question much like that has been floating around Ottawa since Justice Minister Allan Rock admitted several months ago a reliable person had come to him when he was appointed and pushed the need to follow up on criminal investigations of the Mulroney regime.
Whoever this informant might be, it was clear it could not have been another possible RCMP source, George Pelossi. We became familiar with Pelossi last fall and winter through his repeated appearances on CBC-TV news and public affairs programs, including his tiny pencilled numbers of what he said were Swiss bank accounts, allegedly for Frank Moores and the former prime minister. This was where the kickbacks were allegedly to flow.
Eventually, Pelossi agreed he had no conclusive proof that Mulroney was connected to such an account.
Both Moores and Mulroney have denied any wrongdoing.
After all this became widely known those interested in the case had to look elsewhere for the “source” or the “confidential informant” whose information had convinced the RCMP and the justice minister they must pursue investigation of the kickbacks through the Swiss bank accounts. This pursuit led to the now-famous letter from our government to the Swiss in which it was stated a former prime minister of Canada had been involved in criminal activities.
This, in turn, when revealed publicly, led to the libel action by Mulroney against the RCMP and justice minister.
Under hours of questioning in a Montreal preliminary hearing about these allegations last week, Mulroney was very hard and sharp with his accusers. In his responses to government lawyers, Mulroney brought up the name of journalist Stevie Cameron, now famous and wealthy as a Mulroney nemesis (through her raging best-seller, On the Take).
Mulroney said he realized any secrecy shrouding the request the justice minister had sent the Swiss was blown when he received a fax request from Cameron about the allegations of the Swiss accounts.
Mulroney said he wanted to know more about the relationship of Cameron and the RCMP investigators. He indicated that when his day comes to examine the federal defence against his action he will want to know the part played by Cameron in the investigation.
After this notice there is keen interest in media and political circles on the role played by her, if any, in this pursuit of Mulroney.
Could she be the one who alerted Rock over two years ago? That doesn’t quite fit probabilities but she has been on Mulroney’s track for years and Rock was a green politician when he became a minister. My own hunch is that his prompter in 1993 was someone in law who had worked for either the department of justice or of transport.
I had found Cameron as the “prime” RCMP source hard to believe. Would the Mounties commit so much on the basis of a journalist who often gets her facts wrong, as I can vouch from passages about me in Ottawa, Inside Out, her book of the mid-’80s?
But a transcript has been circulating on the Hill that makes a reader pause over the possible RCMP-Cameron connection. It’s of an address she gave at the University of Saskatchewan. She wandered through an analysis of “patronage” in various governments and of “sleaze” in the Mulroney government, including the help she got from Erik Nielson, Mulroney’s former deputy PM, in forming her measured judgment that the Mulroney government was a “crooked” one into which “organized crime had got its hooks very deep.”
She sketched large kickbacks to lobbyists for big contracts, singling out Moores as the lobbyist for the $2 billion sale of the European Airbus planes to Air Canada. She also rambled about the “excessive” personal spending of the Mulroneys and how “half a million dollars in walking around cash a year” was funnelled to them, probably through PMO personnel or the PC party’s “Canada Fund.” She speculated about the obvious wealth the Mulroneys attained in politics.
And, as Cameron said: “… the greatest crime that I saw in the Mulroney years was the interference with the RCMP, interference with Crown prosecutors, and the way political aides would insist on being briefed on ongoing RCMP investigations.”
Several times she referred to the continuing associations she has with the RCMP, including the keen interest of its Economic Crime Division in her literally massive research files and tapes.
This reader infers from her words that she and the RCMP have both joint interests and a joint association. Way down the road in the courts of either the libel action or subsequent criminal charges against Mulroney, or both, Cameron’s role may be revealed.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, April 21, 1996
ID: 12927311
TAG: 199604190183
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C5
ILLUSTRATION: graphic
RECOGNITION … What to do when the government refuses to give out your wartime certificates of appreciation? If you’re the veteran RAF radar operators, you make your own.
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

DND PERPETUATES PETTY WARTIME SNUB

This story began in 1940 and still has life in it. It is about bureaucratic secrecy covered by political timidity. Of course, both secrecy and coverups are synonyms for federal Ottawa.
In 1940, a British wartime crisis raised a crash need for special volunteers whose story may end this June when those still living gather for a last hurrah. At it they will award themselves what their government has denied them – denied as recently as a month ago in a letter to one volunteer from David Collenette, the minister of national defence.
To the beginning: The Battle of Britain in 1940 may have been won by “the few” in RAF fighters, but crucial to the repulse of the Luftwaffe was the use of radar, a secret, electronic tracking system. As the immediate threat of Nazi invasion eased, the British knew they still a long, desperate struggle. In it radar would be a key to ultimate victory.
Winston Churchill and company, already depending for aircrew on the huge training scheme under way in Canada, asked Ottawa to recruit quickly several thousand volunteers with radio experience or aptitude in maths and physics and train them as radar technicians. It was done. Volunteers flocked in. Crash courses at McGill and the University of Toronto trained the men, ultimately some 5,800 of them.
From day one, the radar volunteers knew they would serve in the RAF, where the RAF wanted them, even on British ships and in army units. They had RCAF insignia and pay but rank, promotion, messing and perquisites were all set by the RAF. By war’s end these technicians made up almost a third of British radar operators, and had served on every Allied front from the Hebrides to the Burma Road to Omaha Beach. Of course, all was clandestine because of radar. The fast-developing technology had a “top secret” tag.
A search through library indices of the war years turns up next to nothing in our journalism about either recognition for this wide scattering of Canadian radar men within the RAF or about the nature of their service. The so-called “Canadianization” of the RCAF did become an Ottawa vs. Whitehall issue, most obvious in an eventual RCAF group in Bomber Command, but it hardly touched these volunteers. They worked in myriad scenarios, comparatively with short shrift on promotion, leave and extra pay because the RAF in many personnel provisions was less generous than the RCAF.
As the Nazis caved in 1945 and the Allies turned to finish the Japanese, Canada called on the RAF to return these radar volunteers. With peace came their demobilization. Like half a million other Canadian veterans, the radar volunteers became civilians. They took old jobs or found new ones or went after more skills.
So, end of war, end of story for the radar volunteers? Not quite, although none of them knew there was an unrevealed corollary to their particular service until decades later.
One volunteer, Ottawa engineer Robert Linden, was gathering data for a history of the group. He used new access to information laws to read “secret” wartime files at defence HQ that dealt with the radar volunteers. One document startled Linden: a single copy of a certificate of appreciation from the British air ministry.
Early in 1946 the ministry had sent 6,000 copies of this certificate of appreciation to the RCAF, which by then had the service files of all volunteers and thus could fill in each one and see it got to the ex-radar technician. Now, stonewalled by DVA and DND, Linden and friends have mocked up copies of the certificate. Below an RAF crest with motto the text of the model read thus:
“Cpl. C. Lloyd Francis; Can.R132837; RCAF, was one of those who, in the hour of England’s greatest need, came forth voluntarily to man the vital radar stations upon which the air defense of Great Britain so signally depended. By their selfless and devoted services these men not only had an indispensable share in the defense of this country but also contributed in great part to the development of this new branch of science, to the general benefit of the Allied cause.”
You may recognize the name, Lloyd Francis. Postwar he became a Liberal MP, a Speaker of the House, and at one time a caucus colleague of David Collenette. So the ex-radar mechanic asked the minister recently to intervene and see those volunteers still alive got their certificate from Britain’s grateful wartime government.
Francis is angry at the brushoff he and his fellows got from the minister. Rather than regretting that covert bureaucratic nitpicking at RCAF HQ in 1946 had squelched all notice of the award and shredded all but one certificate, Collenette insisted the original decision to ignore the award was taken after “a careful review of both historical and Canadian forces recognition policy … a policy which remains current.”
So far the files reveal no evidence of any “careful review.” The minister said that because many other Canadians also had served in the RAF such an award “would have unfairly singled out a particular group of individuals without specific reason, such as locality or duration of service.”
Of course, there was a “specific reason.” And there have been post-facto exceptions. Just two summers ago, 52 years after the event, the Chretien government awarded a decoration to each man who went to Dieppe’s beaches although thousands of other Canadians landed under fire on other beachheads.
And some seven years ago the Mulroney government reviewed the removal of Japanese and Japanese Canadians from the B.C. coast in 1942 and gave them and their heirs a contrite apology and ex-gratia cash payments which totalled almost $400 million.
Despite Collenette’s rebuff to their representatives like Lloyd Francis the radar veterans have “a distinguished Canadian” for their June reunion. He will hand each of them a parchment facsimile of the British air ministry certificate of appreciation. Each will have the notation of wartime rank, name and number. You may be sure he will be neither the prime minister nor the defence minister in whom he has such utter confidence.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, April 19, 1996
ID: 12927023
TAG: 199604180227
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

EX-RATPACKER BEDEVILS PM

Is John Nunziata a symbol of significance? The renegade Liberal MP voted this week against Paul Martin’s latest budget. That is, his vote registered what parliamentary language calls “a lack of confidence in the government.”
This doesn’t happen much in most government caucuses, especially Liberal caucuses. For Liberals, loyalty to the party whip’s instructions has been paramount since Mackenzie King’s long term as prime minister that closed in 1948. Resolute loyalty sustains Liberal prime ministers and Liberal leaders never forget those whose loyalty has lapses.
So the MP from York South-Weston, a “character” and a House veteran with nine years in opposition and near three on the government back bench, has done something rare. He’s done it with elan, and a jesting wryness rare among the Grits, and he hasn’t crafted arcane reasons for his deed. He’s neither daring Jean Chretien to boot him from his caucus nor doing any “a priori” pleading against it. And he has gone out of his way to underline the untenable position his once dear fellow Ratpacker, Sheila Copps, has been in for months, given her pre-election assurance to a national TV audience that she would be gone from the party if a Liberal government didn’t junk the GST within two years.
Weeks ago, right after budget day, Nunziata said he would have to reject the budget if his government failed to accompany it with a means of fulfilling the Liberal campaign pledge on abolishing the GST. He had assured his voters, just as Copps had, that such a fate for the GST was a certainty if the Liberals won the ’93 election. The style of his dissent deserved the favorable credit a press colleague gave it as “not a Don Quixote tilting at a windmill, but more a Sancho Panza kicking below the belt.”
Unlike two western Tory MPs who were ejected from the government caucus in the days of the GST’s passage for voting against it, Nunziata has had, and will continue to get, a lot of press attention, whether or not he’s ejected by the Liberals. He’s adroit at raising and keeping the interest of the media in Metro, and those are the media which feeds so much stuff to the whole country. Further, he’s one of a rare sort among MPs despite stories to the contrary. He’s a “safe seat” MP. To deal him out and then to rout him out of the riding will cost the Liberals dearly in bad press and embarrassing questions, with no guarantee they’ll hold the riding or defuse Nunziata as an election issue in the Italian belts of Metro Toronto.
YOUNG HELL-RAISER
In his 20s, in his early years as a hell-raising councillor in York township, John Nunziata was known as a New Democrat. After a year or so with such an alleged designation there was a story in the papers he had forsaken the NDP for the Liberal party.
I asked the NDP’s Donald C. MacDonald about it, and he was philosophical about the NDP’s loss. He appreciated Nunziata was bright, industrious and with a nose for hot issues and the brass to keep beating them. But Nunziata was self-absorbed and often over-committed to a particular issue, and this makes for a poor team player.
“Some day,” said Donald, “the Grits will wish he was our problem, not theirs.”
Yes. The day came, and has come again. Never more so than with this gall and intransigence regarding the budget and the GST.
I admire John Nunziata for two things: first, bravery in ignoring caucus correctness; second, for acceptance there would be a price to pay for his independence – so what! But it would be better for our present situation of a lamentable House of Commons and a government caucus and ministry supine before a less-than-brilliant prime minister who is guided by an unsavory lot of backroom handlers, if Nunziata had turned his talents and personal charm (which he has much of) to fashioning a group of fellow Liberal MPs with some similar views, including the imperative of abolishing the GST.
On so many of his issues, from ridiculing multiculturalism as anti-Canadian tommyrot, to his ideas on the Criminal Code and custodial changes, to the advocacy of more openness and more elected politicians in government and fewer mandarins, John Nunziata “resonates” (to use a Newman word) with far more Canadians than ministers like Art Eggleton and Allan Rock, those tousled-hair “suits” whom Jean Chretien recruited as candidates so he need not turn for Toronto ministers to less predictable and less grateful MPs such as Nunziata or Dennis Mills or Tom Wappel.
Nunziata is a prominent, often admirable dissident – but not yet does he symbolize leadership.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, April 17, 1996
ID: 12926747
TAG: 199604160101
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

PM NOT WORRIED, BUT HE SHOULD BE

Yesterday, when Jean Chretien boarded the big government Airbus for a visit to Eastern Europe, his cost-consciousness had priced him out of company from the parliamentary press gallery except for one photographer.
This is a great change. A reportorial host used to fly abroad with prime ministers. Now even CBC-TV or the Toronto Star, the richest media outfits, are not covering our hero hour by hour, choosing to pick up his trail with personnel based abroad.
Chretien throws himself into trips with zest, in part because it gives him a feeling that he’s getting things done, even if it’s just radiating to his country that he’s alive and well. And he does seem well, with his confidence restored, though I can list a dozen reasons why he should be either modest or worried as he wears through the long middle year of his electoral mandate. Let me list two such reasons, beginning with Quebec, our ever-repetitious dilemma.
This week one should read the Madame Black and Monsieur White of Quebec journalism: Chantal Hebert of La Presse and William Johnson of the Gazette. Both columnists are sharp, informed and very opinionated; the man a tough federalist, the woman, rough, very rough, on federalists.
Each was scornful of the latest Grit ploy, put in play last weekend at a meeting of Chretien’s Quebec wing. A proposition was brought forward to substitute a longer, more explanatory phrase to apply regarding Quebec’s uniqueness than the now immortal “distinct society.” Afterwards, Johnson put forth a clarion call for the PM to stop debating the irrelevant and get on with guaranteeing peace, order and good government under the Constitution after chastising the Liberals for rising “once again to fight battles already lost.”
More and more it looks as though the best hope of substance for a Quebec rejection of sovereignty has to come from goofs by Lucien Bouchard, not from any sure-footed initiatives by Chretien and cabinet. Last weekend’s phrase-juggling embarrassed Daniel Johnson and became an instant spoof on Quebec TV. Obviously it was an immediate, brutal blow to the chances that Chretien’s two new ministers, Stephane Dion and Pierre Pettigrew, might do for him what Jean Marchand and Pierre Trudeau did for Lester Pearson in 1965.
SLOW STARTERS
Neither new MP is off to an impressive start in the House, Pettigrew in particular. Supposedly a sophisticated intellectual with lots of “inside politics” experience, his maiden speech was pedestrian in style and content. His voice is sharp and annoying, and his line of guff was platitudinously reminiscent of Andre Ouellet, the veteran MP and minister he has just replaced.
As for Prof. Dion, my first impression of him on his feet in question period is that he is a far more likable person, politically speaking, than Pettigrew or last year’s failed savior, Lucienne Robillard. Dion has a shy, almost awkward disingenuousness in English but is much less deft in the language than either Bouchard or Chretien. He has a very simple stance when talking, a pleasant air about him, remiscent of Bob Rae when he was a scholar-politician.
It would be most unfair to characterize Dion as a lightweight on what he has said and written so far about the fundamental Canadian dilemma. Nevertheless, I find it hard to imagine him as a formidable Quebec lieutenant for Chretien and it is impossible to imagine he could become a national savior with a message and a manner that would convince anglos to accommodate much more to Quebec’s aspirations within the federation. And his downside may be that he seems far too gentle a person to match the messianic Bouchard.
Hebert, in her reflections while picking over the latest comic opera of the Quebec Liberals, wondered how long “the slow demise of federalism in Quebec” could last, given that the “intellectual demise” of the federal Liberals has already happened. Now, that’s rough stuff in a paper with a federalist editorial line. But it is another reminder not to depend on Chretien saving unity because of his particular understanding of Quebecers or their appreciation of him.
Before Chretien flew away he reiterated his absolute confidence to his defence minister. In turn, David Collenette committed himself absolutely to his hand-picked chief of staff, Gen. Jean Boyle.
Some day, in a year or two, such firm, blunt backing may seem wise but leaving the pair as they are seems cruel. The alleged coverup has become a running sore, a media fixation. It’s a story so fractious and fractured it baffles most people. Collenette doesn’t stonewall with conviction or grace and some of each is needed during the two inquiries, for alongside the Somalia one there’s also that into the alleged seditious propositions by the Bloc to francophone troops.
The government seems very secure, but the country doesn’t.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, April 14, 1996
ID: 13115468
TAG: 199604120205
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C3
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

TRUTH, JUSTICE AND THE AMERICAN WAY//HOW THE U.S. WOULD HANDLE THE SOMALIA AFFAIR

Often the lot of a responsible member of Parliament is not a happy one.
Lacking a seat at cabinet or on the opposition front benches, he or she has few chances to show talent or contribute to the country’s governance – yet must answer to his/her constituents for it.
Take the Somalia mess. Individual MPs have no role. Daily operation (mismanagement?) of the defence department is in the hands of the officers and senior bureaucrats who got it into trouble, under the guidance (!) of their minister.
The search for truth and remedial measures has been turned over to a judge, a journalist and a former general – all appointed by the prime minister.
Is the concentration of power and influence in the hands of the PM, his staff, the cabinet, senior mandarinate, and a few appointed “experts” necessary and inevitable?
No.
Is the widespread secrecy – with most policy making and political horse-trading done by unelected officials far from prying eyes – a good thing in a democracy?
No. But the concentration and the secrecy are imperative if those who dominate our system are to keep their privileged positions.
Things could be different. Consider how the Somalia affair might have played south of the border. There, despite an abiding distrust of politicians and government, the public’s elected representatives are expected to play the dominant role in such matters.
If this case were happening in America, the Senate Armed Services Committee would have been immediately pressed to investigate. No permission from others would be needed.
The time frame (spring, 1993), as in Canada, involved a change in government (from George Bush to Bill Clinton), but it is unlikely this would have affected the decision. The committee’s powers and prerogatives to investigate the government – including the executive branch – are jealously guarded by those on both sides of the partisan divide.
Moreover, hesitation by either Democratic or Republican senators to pursue the matter could result in their opponents (and the media) accusing them of being spineless or parties to cover-up. So the committee would have stepped in.
What of the need for expertise, and due legal process for those involved? Surely such a partisan forum would lack the former and ignore the latter? Both have been presented as arguments in favor of royal commissions and against parliamentary witch hunts.
In the U.S, the Senate Armed Services Committee daily deals with issues concerning the military, hence is well acquainted with it. Such is not the case with two of our three Somalia commissioners, or many of their staff.
The chairman of the armed services committee is an authority on the U.S. military and American defense policy. Could the same be said of any of our MPs – on any subject?
In Washington, Senate staffers include some of America’s brightest young minds – many go on to distingushed careers in politics, diplomacy, government, academia and journalism.
As to individual rights, senators know the risks (legal and political) of being seen to trample on these. And there has never been a shortage of good legal counsel in Washington.
Like the Somalia inquiry, the armed services committee has the power to subpoena witnesses. In short order the defence secretary, his civilian deputy and the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff would appear, followed by their staffs.
At the top of the agenda would be those immortal words: “What did you know, and when did you know it?”
In Ottawa, after three years, hundreds of questions in the House, myriad internal reviews and months of Somalia inquiry hearings, we still haven’t even put the question.
One advantage of politicians digging into things is that they are less likely to chase after ancillary issues when those people who are politically important are staring them in the face.
U.S. Senate investigators can compel witnesses to testify. They may do so because they also can grant immunity from prosecution for those who incriminate themselves before committee. This drastic measure is used when the public’s need to know – quickly – is deemed to outweigh its interest in securing the conviction of a wrongdoer.
The Somalia affair, by undermining not only the public’s trust in the system but the entire armed forces, cries out for such expedited treatment.
Finally, the Americans have special prosecutors. Appointed by the president, they operate independent from the justice department. They investigate possible criminal conduct where there is a chance the administration may be involved or have an interest in the outcome. The appointee must be politically credible (the president often chooses a political foe) who possesses Washington expertise yet is not seen to be part of the system under the microscope.
And should the special prosecutor and Senate investigators clash on an issue? They negotiate, in the full glare of public scrutiny.
The American way may not be elegant and is certainly partisan. But at least it employs people the public elected, holding them responsible for making the system accountable.
Isn’t that what democracy is all about?
Couldn’t we put our underused MPs to similar use?

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, April 12, 1996
ID: 13115191
TAG: 199604110156
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THE BUCK STOPS … WHERE?

The Somalia imbroglio is the latest example of how politicians in power and the bureaucracy have made buckpassing a science. The best friends of those who must avoid responsibility when caught in a tight spot has been institutionalized. They use internal reviews (by bureaucrats) and commissions of inquiry (headed by judges).
Consider: who was responsible for Mirabel and its wasted millions? Did this in any way hinder his rise in the ranks of mandarins?
Think of the brilliant minds that gave us the scientific research tax credit scheme, a multi-billion-dollar disaster? What other organization could get away with such irresponsibility?
Ottawa has its own rules even where criminal investigations seem warranted. A few years ago a sprawling fraud was uncovered at external affairs. Empoyees, many quite senior, would turn in full fare air tickets for cheaper ones, pocketing the difference. Were they publicly exposed, let alone charged? No! They were allowed to pay back the money – no questions asked.
Not long ago, financial managers at defence arranged with the Canada Communications Group (a Crown agency) to “hide” funds which might otherwise have lapsed at the year end, so the department could spend them in the new fiscal year. Despite being a proscribed practice, no one was charged.
Attempts by some at DND to “fix” the Somalia mess should not have come as a surprise. The government’s bad record at holding employees, especially senior ones, to account encourages such shenanigans.
But politicians often join with the mandarinate to muddy the waters of responsibility. Commissions of inquiry are particularly popular, providing all manner of outs. “As the matter is before the commission, I cannot comment on it.” Sound familiar?
When the “findings” are released, the “guidance” they provide offers an alternative focus to that of the opposition’s petty search for bureaucratic or political liability. “This minister is committed to improving the lot of our (insert: natives, single mothers, female prisoners, national broadcaster, servicemen and women, etc.), unlike the opposition, which is only interested in scoring cheap political points.”
ANTITHESIS OF DEMOCRACY
Inquiries are the very antithesis of democracy in de-politicizing the failures of government, reducing them to matters suitable for intellectual reflection and expert analysis only. The members are usually bureaucrats familiar with the issues, or representatives of groups interested in them, chosen carefully by the prime minister. Their recommendations usually accord with the government’s wishes. Thus, “expert” study and “public” consultation legitimizes what the government intended to do, while reducing the government’s apparent responsibility for it. Political debate is circumscribed – the opposition cannot readily attack an esteemed “non-governmental” panel, especially one headed by a judge.
Commissions are an ongoing industry. Witness the aboriginal inquiry forecast at $58 million; reproductive technologies which cost $29.5 million, electoral reform $20.7 million. Removed from any taint of self-interest or aggrandisement, commissions cannot, it seems, be denied more time and more cash.
Despite such advantages to political and bureaucratic incumbents, commissions can be double-edged swords. Jean Chretien assumed that any wrongdoing the Somalia inquiry uncovered would be his predecessor’s responsibility. No such luck. There’s no barrier now between his minister and the mess.
The viability of this inquiry is now in question, the chairman accused of disparaging one of the generals on whom he must eventually pass judgment, and three court martials set to proceed against various officers linked to the alteration and disappearance of documents. This aspect of the inquiry’s work will have to be delayed until the trials (and appeals) are heard. If it ensues that documents before the committee have been doctored, the whole inquiry could be moot.
My chief objection to the proliferation of commissions is simple: they undermine the political interaction essential to democracy. Appointing bureaucrats to do bureaucratic analyses of bureaucratic failures, only to offer bureaucratic solutions is the Canadian tradition. Many of the issues involved, however, are essentially political.
The Krever commission seems to have had notions of dealing with the matter of political responsibility. For its trouble it now faces a flurry of legal interventions by politicians and others determined to prevent it from pointing a finger at those responsible for allowing so many to be infected with HIV through the nation’s blood supply.
There are other, more democratic ways of handling problems like the Somalia mess, in particular ones that give our maligned members of Parliament a role. More on this next time.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, April 10, 1996
ID: 13114942
TAG: 199604090092
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

WOULD GAY RIGHTS PASS FREE VOTE?

Will this Parliament be offered a bill on recognizing gay rights sponsored by the prime minister or Allan Rock, the minister of justice? And, if so, will the sponsors put it forward with the rider there will be a “free vote” on the measure?
A Globe and Mail columnist, Jeffrey Simpson, has recently suggested there be a free vote in the House on what obviously continues to be a very divisive issue among citizens across the country. Simpson believes such an initiative “would enhance Parliament’s role vis-a-vis the courts” and would “represent a fair reflection of opinion, and flow from precedents established on similar kinds of issues.” (Example: capital punishment.) Simpson even hazards a “guess that the inclusion of sexual orientation in the Canadian Human Rights Act would win in a free vote.”
My guess would be that it wouldn’t win, if the bill is really brought foward as an absolutely free vote.
Of course, this guess of mine is influenced by my own prejudice against the Charter of Rights and anything which gives any citizen – natives or women or gays – particular rights in the courts that are not enjoyed by other Canadians. But I also go on the vote against gay rights in the Ontario Legislature only two years ago, and by the mail that I get about it, and by what I’ve gathered about the scale and bias of the representations that have been flooding in to MPs from citizens, particularly to Liberal MPs, including Prime Minister Jean Chretien.
Simpson’s guess may be shaped by the very progressive milieu of both his newspaper and CBC News, for whom he does regular work.
His paper has been in the journalistic forefront of the campaign for gay rights, editorially and in news coverage, ever since William Thorsell succeeded Norman Webster as editor-in-chief in 1989; and the CBC has been generally consistent at either limning anyone in public life who opposes gay rights as a bigot or ignoring what opinion polling has indicated is against the wishes of a majority of Canadians.
Colloquially speaking, in a free vote in the House “the whips are off,” particularly the government’s whip. Each MP may vote according to his or her will or conscience, not according to the particular party line, as laid out in the instructions by the respective leaders to their caucuses.
A WRENCHING CHOICE
As one who in the 1960s once took part in a “free” House vote and has followed the others since then, I do know how wrenching such a choice almost always is for a lot of MPs. It’s especially true for government backbenchers, if they know their leader, the prime minister, is for the measure which they want to vote against because of their own views or those of most of their constituents.
And it is hard to envisage that Jean Chretien’s rough-tough handlers would not make sure that a “free” vote on gay rights, backed by the PM, was also supported by all ministers. In a system and, more vitally, in a party which makes so much of loyalty, to vote against the PM is harrowing. Whatever huzzahs it draws at home, the maverick MP knows how durable the folk memory of the Liberal party is. Rarely does one who bucks the leader advance.
In his column Simpson made the point that “everyone knows divisions exist within the Liberal caucus on gay rights.” Yes, indeed.
In my crude reading of the Liberal caucus, from 80 to 100 MPs dislike installing gay rights. Given the extent of Reform opposition and the views of many rural BQ MPs, a true free vote would be negative on the proposition.
If Chretien beforehand said this was to be a genuine free vote, that aides like Pelletier, Goldenberg, and Donolo would stay out of it, and his ministers were free to vote their consciences, the bill would surely be lost.
Most MPs, like most Canadians, want no part of legislated gay rights. Last week Ian McLelland, a Reform MP, reminded Chretien what Tom Wappel, a Liberal MP, has been saying: the Red Book has no undertaking on gay rights legislative amendments. The Reformer also added this sensible opinion:
“If we grow to appreciate and accept that we live together in Canada with a common set of values, we will grow to live in harmony as an inclusive society, rather than in a society separated by characteristics. In enhancement of our common and fundamental values as Canadians, legislative lists help little and hinder much.”

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, April 07, 1996
ID: 13114623
TAG: 199604040183
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C3
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

SEGAL’S `NO SURRENDER’ A RALLYING CRY FOR TORIES//SUCH A LOYALIST WOULD NEVER APPROVE OF A MERGER WITH REFORM

Into the discussion on the destinies for our federal parties of the right drops the new book, No Surrender, by Hugh Segal.
For 30 years he’s been a widely liked, good-humored, diligent and very talkative participant in the work and councils of the Progressive Conservative parties of Ontario and of Canada.
Are the mildly gossipy contents, self-tagged as “reflections of a happy warrior in the Tory Crusade,” relevant for the moot topic of coalescing the Reform Party (52 seats) led by Preston Manning with the federal Conservatives (two seats) led by Jean Charest?
Yes. I think it’s relevant on two counts. Neither is positive for a merger.
Why not?
Firstly, it’s beyond imagining that a loyalist so verbose on the vast contributions of his party to Canada and so proudly a “Red” Tory, a “progressive” and “socially responsible” Tory (to use his words) would ever approve and take part in such a merger.
Secondly, across Canada, and notably in the central provinces, there are plenty of men and women, symbolized by both scores of former cabinet ministers, MPs and senators, and by such as Hugh Segal, Dalton Camp, David MacDonald and Eddie Goodman who combine energy, experience at reinvigorating a party, and who would choke on the paramountcy of populism in Reform’s procedures and the implications for our social system of Reform’s dedication to “family values.”
The imperative of considering such a juncture arises from opinions of several Tory premiers and the project of crystallizing conservatively minded ideas and policies that is being undertaken by Sun columnist David Frum, a bright, lucid, American-educated thinker with both strong, right-of-centre opinions and the family wealth to be more than a vociferous bystander with a newspaper column.
(It’s a wry paradox that so much of the cast of ideas and vocabulary of the Tories between 1960-1990 came from Dalton Camp, another bright, lucid man who grew up in the U.S., influenced by eastern Democratic party ideas and social policy which he brought to Canada and the Tory party in the 1950s. Of course, Frum was and is identified with the Republicans, and he and Camp, also presently a columnist, are poles apart in policy and their analyses of Canada’s partisan needs.)
In his lyrical build-up of Jean Charest as a leader with exceptional qualities and attainments, Segal contrasts him with “the school-marmish hectoring” of Preston Manning.
His suitcase sketch of the Reform Party is derisive: “The recently contrived Social Credit/Republican/Pat Buchanan/reborn/ersatz coalition calling itself Reform exudes a conservatism without roots or history in the country.”
Now that’s hard invective and a good measure of Red Tory antagonism to Reform, although the bit about “without roots or history” is haywire, only explainable as an easterners’ ignorance that in this century the significant partisan hurricanes that have swept to Ottawa were spawned on the Prairies.
For years I have rated Hugh Segal and Stephen Lewis as the most phenomenal talkers in our national politics, with few peers, aside perhaps from Lucien Bouchard and Brian Mulroney. Some of the Segal-Lewis profile came because their glibness was a magnet to TV and radio programmers. For years they’ve had more air time than all but prime ministers and premiers.
Often, as I’ve listened to their flowing, usually trenchant, often nobly-minded prosody, I recall remarks by the late Northrop Frye.
He’d said in class that usually he or she who writes well talks well. He was asked: Did the reverse hold? Not always, he replied. Often those who early displayed a gift at ready speech won such attention so readily that they became impatient with the time writing took. Good writing demands more discipline and painstaking than speech, although the best in speech – he cited the Gettysburg address and Churchill’s war speeches – were drafted beforehand.
Years ago I wondered why Lewis wrote so little and why Segal (e.g., when he was a Star columnist) was less magnetic than in his talk. Perhaps it was because each won recognition early as a talker, almost literally as boy wonders. This would be my explanation why No Surrender is just a readable, chatty narrative by an enthusiastic activist who has worked hard and did well within a party, even unto very serious plans to run for its leadership.
Segal blames few fellow Tories and dislikes fewer. His story will be most interesting to those who have also been busy within a party. Total outsiders may be bothered that such a small cadre can build, run, and ruin an organization which draws millions of votes. The book is neither impressively analytical nor rich in quotable expositions of conservative or Tory ideas and principles. (If you disbelieve me, read pages 236-237).
In short, for Hugh Segal his party is because it has been, and shall be again.
Why? Because a lot of good citizens have worked together in it for so long, sometimes fighting each other, and found it exciting, personally rewarding and a service to a great country. So consider it likely the federal Tories in time may fade away rather than swallowing or being swallowed.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, April 05, 1996
ID: 13114370
TAG: 199604040227
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

HERE’S THE REAL SOMALIA SCANDAL

Will the humiliations heaped upon our soldiers, sailors and airmen never cease? For three years they have been under a pall cast by the incompetence, stupidity and cruelty of a few. And week by week the light at the end of their tunnel gets farther away. This week one of their own officers accused senior commanders of deception and coverup, and in turn he was charged by military police with such wrongdoing.
Most Somalia stories have focused on two travesties: the killing by Airborne Regiment soldiers of Somali civilians and apparent attempts to cover up such deeds at defence headquarters in Ottawa.
Now a third scandal has been developing a dynamic of its own – the failure of the defence minister and the cabinet to ensure the first two scandals were handled comprehensively and expeditiously. The military may have made the mess; the politicians’ task was to clean it up. They haven’t, and now they are under the gun. Either heads roll or the mess gets worse and harder to clean up.
Since 1992 two governments and three defence ministers have shared responsibility for getting to the bottom of the Somalia mess and restoring public confidence in the military. Serving them have been three chiefs of defence staff and two deputy defence ministers, chosen by the politicians. Despite this array of high-priced talent brought to bear on the Somalia misdeeds, matters remain murky. This is procrastinating government. Bad government.
Note the political reaction to this week’s allegations by a former colonel (Geof Haswell) that Gen. Jean Boyle and others at defence headquarters used a ruse to permit the destruction of documents requested by the media under the Access to Information Act, and that they may also have altered computer records pertaining to Somalia.
Defence Minister David Collenette’s response was that this matter was now with the military police, who would determine what action should be taken. Next day we learned the police had laid charges against Haswell and two other officers at HQ. Do these become matters for the formal Somalia inquiry? Can trials of these officers go forward while the inquiry continues, or vice-versa?
HAND-PICKED CHIEF
Surely the worst allegations are Haswell’s against Collenette’s hand-picked chief of staff, Gen. Boyle. How long can he function well with such accusations about his conduct unsettled, sure to be examined at the trials to come or at the interminable official inquiry?
Previous internal investigations by the department’s bureaucrats and by military police have left a sour taste. How many times has Collenette assured us that all the relevant facts had been made available? When hailing his new chief a few months ago, the minister stressed his non-involvement in Somalia matters as one key to his choice. Who gave the minister this line?
A feature through the three years has been the hands-off attitude of both Tory and Liberal prime ministers and ministers. One has to ask: what good are they if they won’t lead, occasionally? Their military chief is now hobbled by accusations. In his address to the ranks by video, which he saw fit to release to the media beforehand, he seemed like a scared rabbit.
Coverups and doctoring records are not military crimes but bureaucratic ones, striking at the heart of our system of government. The system places a premium on secrecy, and is dependent upon an accurate official record for its institutional memory. It is the civil service that maintains and protects the records – they are a trust. And if they cannot be trusted?
One of the men accused of record-tampering by an indicted officer is a former deputy minister of defence, a career civil servant from foreign affairs. If the record guardians at defence would alter to protect themselves, what has gone on elsewhere? The politicians should be scared, notably Prime Minister Jean Chretien, a former minister in many departments. But aside from praising Collenette’s work in “difficult circumstances,” he was silent.
Two other ministers have a particular interest in the whole affair: Allan Rock and Herb Gray. The justice minister’s been silent. The solicitor general, master of the RCMP, said Justice Letourneau of the Somali inquiry could decide whether the RCMP ought to step into the investigation of possible coverup. How easy, yet how typical. Fobbing off his duty to another one of our many moonlighting judges.
It’s probable our men and women in uniform will have to bear the confusion for another year and an end to the Somalia inquiry. Unless – and this is a hope, not a likelihood – someone in the cabinet takes charge: firing, demoting and promoting and accepting responsibility for using the shameful excuse of a previous government’s responsibility for not acting with alacrity.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, April 03, 1996
ID: 13114099
TAG: 199604020145
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

WITH FRIENDS LIKE RALPH …

Extraordinary, isn’t it, how Reform attracts advice from all quarters? Those who have never held a party card freely offer their opinions on how to improve its leadership, policies, media handling, question period strategy, and on whether or not it should cozy up to the Tories.
So much of this counsel comes from political opponents and media pundits who have nothing but contempt for Reform’s ideology, membership and goals. Such advice is worth what it costs, something most Reformers have sense enough to realize.
Today I intended to give my views on the party’s future in light of last week’s byelection results. For example, might it shape the ongoing debate between its pragmatic members who insist the party must “moderate” its image if it is to win, and its populists, who believe the results prove the party is already the effective alternative to the Grits and think that talk of moderation sounds suspiciously like the unprincipled, opportunistic compromising that took the Tories over a cliff in ’93?
I was going to side with the populists. I intended to argue the byelections supported those who see little gain from pragmatism and fear that any immediate association with the still reviled Tories will alienate most core believers in Reform.
That was my line before Monday’s news from Alberta that Tory Premier Ralph Klein was talking merger.
Klein’s musings will resonate with the many Reformers who esteem him as a fellow traveler on the road to fiscal salvation. By calling for a quick merger of the two parties he brings to a head a key question: who shall speak for the right? His initiative changes both parties’ scenarios. The statement that while Preston Manning could lead such an alliance, Jean Charest would be better, puts both putative leaders of a Reform-Conservative party on notice that the natural head could be, might be, himself.
Consider: despite its populist credo, Reform has been hamstrung by a leader who has neither the charisma nor the common touch needed to embody the party’s prime message of democratic inclusiveness. “Parson” Manning is earnest, brainy, hard working, Christian, dull and seems so old-fashioned.
WEEKLY SERMONS
Similar qualities worked for his father, so long premier of Alberta, but those were different times and Alberta a different place. In his day, Manning senior was a very modern politician, using the mass medium then available – radio – to reach out to his constituency. His weekly sermons – for that’s what they were – suited both the Social Credit party and Albertans, who saw themselves as models of moral propriety, modesty and fiscal responsibility.
Today Preston, a chip off the old block, seems dated in fast-paced Calgary, let alone cosmopolitan Toronto or “rainbow” Vancouver.
While Manning junior doesn’t excite even Reform’s true believers, Jean Charest as an alternative is laughable. At Reform’s core are disgruntled Conservatives who fled what they saw as domination of that party by Red Tories like Charest, who share the Liberals’ preoccupations with Ontario and the need to satisfy Quebec’s insatiable appetite for federal largesse. After launching successfully their own party, though mocked by naysayers, why would Reformers now seek to bring the likes of Charest, Brian Mulroney, Joe Clark and Hugh Segal inside the Reform tent? Is the desire for power and office so high they would forget their past? No, but …
Many Reformers might consider such a link-up if they were sure that at the alliance’s helm there would be someone of their ilk, a leader who combined solid fiscal conservative credentials, a populist appeal and a proven determination not to flinch before interest group opposition. Reformers might then be assured that accommodation with the Tories need not lead to the old Red Tory gang taking over.
By linking the prospects of an alliance with Manning and Charest, the current leadership choices, Klein drew attention to their unsuitability for such an enterprise. Naturally, he was too modest to note that he may have what it takes. His many admirers won’t be so reticent.
How the Klein factor plays out at the conference of the conservatively minded set for Calgary in May (organized by columnist David Frum), and at the federal Tories’ own gathering to be held later in the summer, may well determine the fate of two political parties, and their supposed leaders.
Klein, a more cautious politician than his bulldozer reputation would credit, is testing the waters. As for Messrs. Manning and Charest, with a friend like Ralph, they don’t need any enemies.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, March 31, 1996
ID: 13113751
TAG: 199603290110
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C5
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THE CURTAIN DESCENDS

Recently I looked at the performance and future of the Reform Party in view of the extremist label attached to it and the ideological split within it that debate over this point has exposed.
Today I ponder the implications of Monday’s byelection results for Reform’s competition with the Conservatives for recognition as the “real” alternative to the Liberals.
Although Jean Chretien, Doug Young and many in the media have portrayed Monday’s results as bleak for Reform, their significance, as I read them, is that they herald the beginning of the end for the Tories as a national party.
Hopes for a revival of the party of Sir John A. Macdonald had been pinned on Reform’s characterization as too extreme to be the sensible alternative to the Grits (a self-serving theme harped on by the Liberals even more than by Jean Charest, the Tory leader).
The results contradict this conventional wisdom. In Labrador, no hotbed of right-wing feeling, Reformers beat the Tories 30.3% to 8.7%. The new right wing-party managed this despite zero support there in the last federal election, and with almost no subsequent presence or local organization. In the single Ontario seat up for grabs, Etobicoke North, the results were even better for Reformers. Their candidate ran second, making significant gains at the expense of the Liberals. This supports Reform’s claim it is the “real” alternative to the Grits in the most populous province, building upon its second place finish in most Ontario ridings in 1993.
Monday’s results indicate that Reform, having supplanted the Tories in their traditional rural bastions last time around, seem to be usurping them now in the suburbs. Suburbanites were held by many to be the Conservatives’ best hope for revival. Jean Charest explained the grim byelection results by claiming his party has really been focusing on the next federal election, and has a good chance of winning some seats in Ontario. “Some?”
ROUTED IN QUEBEC
Worst for the Tory leader was the rout in Quebec.
Recall his bid for the party’s leadership stressed his Quebec roots. He would rebuild the party in his home province, and use this as his springboard back to national prominence. The prospect of Quebec seats for a truly “national” government is not something Reformers could offer. Maybe Reform cannot, but neither can Jean Charest.
I first questioned Charest’s electoral gravitas in Quebec during the referendum campaign. Despite favorable treatment by the media there (more than Jean Chretien could hope for) he couldn’t even convince his own constituents to vote No. Since then he’s continued to enjoy wide and favorable exposure in the Quebec media as the benign face of federalism.
Monday’s results show he’s made no progress in convincing Quebecers the Tories are a real alternative to either the Bloc or the Grits. In Lac Saint-Jean the party did little better than Reform, while in the other two ridings it lost ground compared to 1993, polling less than 2%. At least Reform improved on its earlier, dismal performance.
The Tory leader has had two cracks at Quebec, coming up empty both times. How much longer can he and the Tories pretend they are the “real” alternative there, or anywhere else? His quips about Reform being a “regional” party are wearing thin. Does the Tory lack of such a regional base make it a “national” party? He should recall that in the wake of the Diefenbaker debacle it was his party’s regional base in the west and rural Ontario which sustained it, making a comeback possible. It is hard to see what sort of life support there is to sustain the Conservatives beyond kind words from old adversaries and the media.
As the reddest of Tories, (one is tempted to call him a Camp follower) Charest enjoys little more than polite relations with the strong Tory provincial organizations in Ontario and Alberta. His views are a barrier to the sort of aid they could provide to keep the federal party’s heart beating.
As for the Reformers, they may seem set to outlast their immediate rivals, but questions continue on the sort of party they want to be, and how the likely Tory demise should be handled. What affect will the byelections have for a possible Reform-Conservative union? How will they play in the ideological discussions between the populists and the pragmatists within Reform’s ranks? I’ll give you my views in Wednesday’s column.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, March 29, 1996
ID: 13113467
TAG: 199603280194
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

A MODEL FOR FUTURE LAND SETTLEMENTS

A critical opinion of the complex land settlement worked out between the governments of B.C. and Canada and the Nisga’ Indians should take into account the present and future scale of federal spending on natives. Ottawa’s total costs for such have passed $6 billion a year.
With high native birthrates, proposals for a distinct native justice system and several hundred more land deals (with their cash payments) to come, these already scary annual costs will soon be seen as inordinate contributors to our astronomical debt.
My tendency to be negative about the Nisga’ deal comes from a long watch of the waste in so much of the spending on natives. And I see an inherent stupidity in segregating hundreds of groups in enclaves across the land on the basis of consanguinity forever. And yet, in the many cases for a permanent and self-controlled land base worked up thus far by scores of “nations,” the Nisga’ have been admirable for patience, rationality and thoroughness.
And so I want to back Ron Irwin, the Indian Affairs minister, as he seeks both regional and national support for this settlement in the face of the anti-pathies hardening in the oppposition parties of B.C. and the federal Reform Party.
Although its “apartheid” aspect is hard to swallow, I approve the settlement, with a prayer that the modesty and common sense of the Nisga’ become the model for other bands negotiating settlements.

Nothing announced recently by the Chretien government galls me more as a waste of taxpayers’ money by “real Liberals” than the Metropolis Project to establish four “centres of excellence” for studies on the integration of immigrants in Canadian cities.
When, oh when, will Ottawa stop blowing money on bootless “feel good” projects? The cost figure is put at $8 million over six years.
Of course, the gambit in Metropolis is to put down racism and racist Canadians through visionary and altruistic arguments – Gee Whiz Canadianism!
Academics, immigration lawyers, social workers, unionists and leaders of ethnic organizations will consort, hold conferences, develop programs and “dispel the myths which breed intolerance.” Thus the lot and status of “visibles” in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Edmonton will be elevated. We’ll learn what must be done to ensure Chinese, Haitian, Jamaican and Somali newcomers are appreciated by those born or raised here.
Of course, the wisdom to come will emphasize how racist and mean-spirited are those who’ve questioned both the high scale of immigration and its main countries of origin. The horrid experience these immigrants face through isolation, ostracism, and misunderstanding of their religious beliefs and customs will be contrasted with the diversity and talents such immigrants bring to big cities.
Naturally, the scheme was no sooner announced than a Toronto Star reporter found excited approval for it from those prominent in the multicultural industry. Given the fees for sociologists, the per diems of lawyers, and the tie-ins by conferences and travel between the four cities and the international “partners” in such high-minded work ,there will be much further funding in a few years or the Metropolis Project will fade away. This is an unnecessary boondoggle.

In general both the Ottawa Citizen and the Toronto Star are editorial backers of the Chretien Liberals, but last week the Citizen did for the dozen Liberals who hold House seats for the capital region what the Star did a few weeks ago for the Liberal MPs who hold all Metro’s seats, with put-down phrases like “silence of the lambs” and “They say little or nothing.”
The line is that Metro and Ottawa-Hull have kept sliding economically since the Liberals took power, yet their MPs are clerarly out of the play, caring little and getting away with it.
This is rough treatment. Is it fair?
Both the MPs’ quietude and the lack of local clamor for them to get economic revival under way surely relates to the pervasive conventional wisdom that government spending must be scarce. Further, these Grits have no regional rivals in the House, and few in provincial and municipal politics are setting fires under their tails.
In some sympathy with these jeered MPs, I see them as immobilized thus far by a ruthless discipline policed by Chretien’s handlers which creams open hell-raisers and muzzles any loud flogging of individual proposals by mere MPs. And neither judgmental story underlined the dearth of political acumen and social zeal among Ontario’s federal ministers. They’re more lawyers or political bureaucrats than economic messiahs for Metro and the Capital.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, March 27, 1996
ID: 13113231
TAG: 199603260128
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

ENCOURAGING SIGNS IN QUEBEC

People in politics usually overdo the significance of a group of byelections beforehand, then quickly forget such appraisals after the votes are in. This may be the case with the retention Monday by the Bloc Quebecois of one riding and by the Liberals of five, and with Reform’s modest solace in running well ahead of Tory candidates in three ridings outside Quebec.
Whatever the notice in histories for these results it is almost sure to be tied to the dominant issue of federalism’s future. Some telling views on that topic were revealed by a massive public opinion poll done by CROP-Environics and issued by the CBC coincident with the confirmation that appointed ministers Stephane Dion and Pierre Pettigrew, contesting ridings in Montreal, had won House seats and security in Jean Chretien’s cabinet.
One point in the opinion polling is a familiar one: Prime Minister Chretien is much appreciated beyond Quebec, but not in it.
This particular reading underlines how much the federalist cause in Quebec in the next year or two must count on Dion or Pettigrew, or both, in breaking what has seemed almost an auto-reflex among Quebecois since Pierre Trudeau’s retirement that they will neither trust nor cherish Quebec members of federal Liberal cabinets.
It merits mentioning that several times in the constitutional dramas since Lester Pearson’s government there were major, positive contributions made by a few provincial premiers such as John Robarts, Allan Blakeney and Peter Lougheed. Heading into the next unity crisis Lucien Bouchard looms mightily in Quebec, but beyond it we have no premier with superb abilities and the willpower to appeal to Quebecers and make up for Chretien’s low status in his home province.
The encouraging item in the opinion survey’s results is the neat majority of Quebecers who would welcome a federalist solution and, so far as the questions in the survey and their answers could bring it out, a solution based on more powers to the provinces (not necessarily only to Quebec).
There were several other heartening points in the answers.
For example, there was definite uneasiness, perhaps hostility, among the majority of Quebecers against Quebec separating from Canada on a basis of just 50% plus 1 in a referendum vote and the strong support for a minimum figure of 60%.
OPTION TO STAY
Another example is the strong majority which supports the proposition that even with a decision for separation by Quebec the province’s aboriginal people should have the option to stay in Canada. This points toward a widely accepted concern and respect for the largest group of Indians in Quebec, the Cree, and their vast northern territory. It would suggest there would not be an absolute insistence, even among most determined separatists, on the sanctity of the entire lands and waters of the present province for their separate republic.
At this stage neither of the fresh federalist saviors has shown magic of the sort Bouchard, Rene Levesque and Trudeau have had for Quebecers, but the polling indicates they can pursue their prime purpose in a milieu that is promising, if not friendly. Further, if they proceed candidly and adroitly, without being seen as sabotaging the BQ government’s mastering of Quebec’s deficits and Montreal’s economic malaise, they should have a good chance of selling Quebecers a new federalist deal.
It’s hard to know if one of the two will emerge as the natural leader or if they’ll make a concerted team. Whether this Liberal government masters the Bouchard threat without the unresolved consequences for the country from the last mastering of separatism in the early ’80s depends more on Dion and Pettigrew, with the absolute backing of the prime minister, than on anything the latter could do or may do.
It is also obvious where Chretien should concentrate in the next year or two – on Canadians outside Quebec where confidence in him still runs strongly. Jean Chretien, not Stephane Dion and Pierre Pettigrew, must convince the rest of us as citizens and our premiers, as necessary participants in the constitutional process, that an undivided Canada depends on the changes to be offered Quebec and the other provinces.
The opinion survey results for the rest of Canada demonstrate such a task is not hopeless, but it won’t be easy. The desire to keep Quebec is very strong, but not absolute. It also has a dangerous nuance that has haunted our politics for a dozen years, and that is the continuing widespread animosity to emphasis of Quebec’s distinctiveness and powers attendant on it.
A hard but not impassable road is ahead of the Chretien cabinet.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, March 24, 1996
ID: 13112916
TAG: 199603220097
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C4
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THE PM’S BACK IN FIGHTING FORM//WHAT’S BEHIND JEAN CHRETIEN’S REMARKABLE RECOVERY?

Jean Chretien is cocky again!
In the past fortnight the PM has been radiating confidence when in the House, in facing scrums and as a traveller. Again and again he’s brought in the proud tag of “real Liberal” for himself and his government. The haggard, often incoherent leader we saw and heard after the near debacle of last October’s referendum is gone.
Naturally this metamorphosis is being picked over – by his followers, his competitors and reporters. What has caused this transformation of a man shaken by the prospect of disaster on his shift to one now more swaggering than in the first flower of his hubris as PM in 1993?
It’s also noted that Paul Martin, Jr., the minister of finance, never a shy violet, has also been extraordinarily cocky since his budget (Feb. 5) won such quick, general approval. Now he even applauds (yes, literally) his own one-liners, particularly those which poke fun at his, and the PM’s, favorite butt – the Reform MPs.
A fresh aura of brio and self-esteem has also been noticeable in other ministers like John Manley of industry, hitherto a terse, cautious spokesman, and Lloyd Axworthy, back to his old booming guff of “real” liberal zeal since the cabinet shuffle sent him out to fight for the world’s underdogs as foreign minister, freed from the debt-bound inertia of the human resources portfolio.
Some people credit the Chretien recovery to both his satisfaction that the budget has shown he is on track with the imperative of deficit control and the positive way the cabinet shakeup has been received. Beyond sharper performances and fewer duds on the front bench, his backbench host has meekly accepted the switches and promotions, including a whole new cast of parliamentary secretaries.
Some believe opinion poll results are at the core of the Chretien revival. Certainly the Gallup poll recently published shows he is as popular as before the referendum and the Liberals still get above 50 points with no rival within 35 points. The Reform Party seems to have flattened out as an effective House force, as a factor in tomorrow’s six byelections and at enlarging public support east of Alberta. As for Tory resilience, in the party’s heartland of Ontario the Mike Harris provincial wing has become the prime lightning rod for angry economic and social unrest which holds back the reecovery of the federal Tories under Jean Charest and reflects well on the kinder “real Liberals” of Ottawa.
Favorable poll data could explain recent remarks by Chretien and a few ministers on going to the voters well before the modicum four year term. Recently Peter Newman in Maclean’s sketched the positive thinking of Chretien’s advisers about asking the people to confirm their stout backing for Chretien as he develops the new strategy and tactics for handling either the next referendum or a provincial election thrust by Lucien Bouchard and his BQ.
Without discounting optimism generated by polls and the disarray of present and potential opposition, I believe the top factor in his recovery – ahead of, though not detached from his joy over the budget scenario and his ministerial “reorg” – has to do with his Quebec problem.
What sticks with me is the duration of the belief Jean Chretien cherished for over 30 years, first uttered when he was a newish MP and a parliamentary secretary. He knew that in the crunch most Quebecers were too realistic about the economic advantages in federalism to ever choose to leave Canada. And through the rise, rule, and eclipse of Rene Levesque, through years of constitutional proposals made and rejected, the evidence could sustain his belief. Clearly, he still held to it into and through most, perhaps all, of last fall’s referendum. Then it was blown away.
I think he has the belief again or, more accurately, he has formed, along with his guiding clique of Montrealers, a refurbished strategy and a decision to go with tougher tactics which please him.
The latter may stem from response to the first talk of a new minister, Stephane Dion, about Quebec’s divisibility. A surge of particular enthusiasm in Quebec for partitioning the province heartens the scrapper in Chretien. So has the backing in the rest of Canada for a “fair” referendum question, a prior understanding of what constitutes a victory for separation, and the general terms for negotitions on any future associations.
To go with such morale boosters, Chretien appreciates Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard faces even more herculean tasks than he does – for example, attaining a balanced Quebec budget, focusing on jobs and economic growth, reviving Montreal and convincing the province’s anglophones and allophones that the BQ respects and values them.
He sees also that he has some time, certainly close to two years, perhaps three before the next referendum and that he too can play the Quebec game electorally.
Obviously Chretien and his Liberals will handily remain the choice of English Canada so long as they reflect positive capablities for facing and mastering Bouchard “next time.” Once again, at this task, Chretien seems real and believes in himself.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, March 22, 1996
ID: 13112641
TAG: 199603210192
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

IS REFORM RAISING THE WHITE FLAG?

Recently I considered whether the extremist label attached to the Reform party was fair. Today I ponder another question arising from last week’s squabble within the party’s ranks:
Do the calls of Jim Silye, Jan Brown and (apparently) Stephen Harper for a more “moderate” party line, imposed by some sort of caucus discipline, signal an end to the Reformers’ dreams of changing the way Ottawa governs?
Recall that the party’s 1987 founding convention in Winnipeg deliberately chose the name “Reform” to symbolize its determination to change the way Canadian politics are conducted. The Trudeau years had seen a national government rule without any effective western representation, imposing measures like the National Energy Plan that were anathema to westerners.
The Mulroney era seemed little better. Western Tory MPs, cowed by caucus discipline and not wanting to offend Ontario and Quebec interests, which between them effectively determine our governments, represented Ottawa and Central Canada to their constituents rather than the other way around. Government became ever more dictatorial, imposing the agenda of elites far removed from the Canadian mainstream – how else to explain hated new taxes (the GST) and unwanted constitutional proposals (Meech and Charlottetown)?
The Reformers’ commitment to voters would be made of sterner stuff. They offered the recall of MPs who voted against the wishes of their constituents, and provisions for direct democracy through constituent assemblies and referenda on issues of particular import. Reform MPs would be encouraged to speak their minds in both caucus and the House, and would regularly consult with their constituents on issues. A triple-E Senate (Elected, Effective, and possessing Equal provincial representation) would ensure that regional and local concerns receive national attention.
During the last election western Tory MPs defended the compromises they had made as necessary in a federation like ours – for the country to survive and for the west to enjoy the fruits of power. The alternative was to be shut out as in the Trudeau years. Reform’s counter that there had been too much compromise and too little reward won the day (and 51 seats).
PLEAS FOR MODERATION
Now, barely two years later, pleas for moderation and understanding come from some busy Reform MPs. Power is necessary if the party is to really achieve anything, and attaining power requires changes to attract urban (read Ontario) voters. Sound familiar?
Are Silye, Brown and Harper running up the white flag on their party’s hopes of reforming the way business is done in Ottawa?
Where were their protests when the PM named a longtime Alberta Grit to the Senate, in defiance not only of Reform policy but the provincial law calling for the election of such personages?
Can we still talk of them as being “reformers” at all?
Is Reform now merely another right-of-centre party?
If so, can the case put by David Frum and others for uniting with the Tory remnant as the only real hope of achieving right-wing electoral success be resisted?
The recent ruckus is not the first disturbance in Reform’s ranks. A year ago the fighting was over an alleged attempt by the leader’s office to exert greater control over MPs by making them accountable to the party executive, then dominated by Preston Manning’s supporters. In reaction some of the MPs now calling for increased caucus discipline pushed for greater autonomy.
A more basic split, one with echoes in the recent uproar, occurred before the last election, as the party debated expanding beyond the four western provinces. In pushing for expansion, Manning also used the argument that doing so was necessary if the party was to achieve electoral success and effect change. Fears of selling out to Ontario were groundless because the alienation westerners felt was shared by voters east of Manitoba, and the party’s commitment to direct democracy was secure because it was a key component in the party’s appeal to Ontario voters as well.
Such assurances look a bit thin today.
Many commentators (especially Tories) predicted Reform would be torn, like the NDP before it, by strife between those who see it as a movement to be unsullied by compromise and those who wish to use it as a vehicle to secure political power.
Much cynical commentary last week focused on the naivete of Reformers in not understanding the discipline power requires. Fair enough. But seemingly forgotten was that the desire to make our system more democratically accountable which Reform’s creation expressed, is still a potent force across the country.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, March 20, 1996
ID: 13112388
TAG: 199603190070
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

REFORM’S IMAGE NEEDS POLISHING

The hullabaloo in Ottawa about “extremism” in the Reform caucus arose from the party’s principle-cum-practice that an MP must advance in Parliament the views on issues held by substantial numbers of constituents.
Given the range in ideas and values from one constituency to another – say from Calgary to the Cariboo – Reform has a range of propositions in play which are hard to frame or order by either a dominating leader or by programs produced by national conventions.
In this hassle, rising from uneasiness expressed to reporters by MPs Jan Brown and Jim Silye about colleagues considering a return to corporal punishment, a subsequent caucus gathering rebuked these worriers because they should have launched such doubts first to their peers. The press relished both their open brooding and their rebukes, confirming its stereotype of Reform as reactionary.
When Liberal MPs are openly dissident and “reactionary” (e.g. Roseanne Skoke, Tom Wappel, John Nunziata and Dan McTeague) it’s often taken as evidence of their party’s capaciousness.
Is the Reform caucus heavy with radical reactionaries or kooks? Not at all! There are a handful of dullards, a scatter of old-fashioned men zealous for “law and order,” but no real “wing-dings.” My assurance comes from much reading in Hansard and committee transcripts through the long session just over.
Most reporters no longer follow what MPs do and say beyond the House question period. This indifference developed as TV came to dominate political coverage with short bites which serve brief attention spans with conflict or vivacity. Most Canadians are unaware Reform MPs have asked thousands of questions and made hundreds of House speeches since they took seats in the chamber 26 months ago.
Comparing Reform performance with the present Bloc Quebecois caucus and the huge Liberal backbench, MP by MP the Reform caucus has been more assiduous than others, even more so than were the pushy NDP caucuses of the ’80s. The BQ MPs have not all been drifters and they have the “official” edge over Reform of first questions and “lead-off” speeches; however, the limitations from their constant use of French couple with a disinterest in many matters beyond Quebec, and mean less preparation and substance than Reform MPs provide. As for Liberal backbench MPs, they get limited chances to sound off in the House, and in many committees their postures are dictated and usually defensive.
BUSIER THAN EXPECTED
One crude measure in my favorable notice of Reform MPs is in the massive index of Hansard for the first session. I found every Reform MP had been busier than I expected. None had less than 100 entries; a score had listings of six columns or more (each column has about 100 entries).
If Reformers have performed well in the House why isn’t this known across Canada?
One could begin explanations with the group mind-set unfavorable to Reform in most of the eastern media, not just in the Hill gallery. The antagonism runs in most big dailies, notably the Torstar-Southam group, and in the CBC, now the largest purveyor of political news and commentary. Also, the best organized, militant associations in the country – of unions, feminists, multiculturalists, educators, artists, etc. – have a vested interest in government funding and they define Manning and company as the enemy.
Reformers are inept at countering their delineation in the media as mean-minded clods or, as Jeffrey Simpson puts it, “not very sophisticated.” Nor have they been deft in Parliament at turning to advantage the scurvy Jean Chretien strategy of determined nastiness toward them while playing patsy with the BQ.
But I’d lead my case on the dearth of recognition for Reform MPs with a relative failure by Preston Manning in directing and exploiting in the House the good work and talents of his followers. He dislikes the dogged House routines and its shifting topics and the complex detail in most of them. He prefers to be out addressing voters, not MPs. As prime minister he’d be like his father as Alberta’s premier – seriously intent on sound administration but doing without a legislature most of the year.
In his priorities, the Reform leader focuses on building an electoral party and on proselytizing membership. He does use his sagacity and knowledge of history to work up lucid presentions of Reform ideas and themes. These may pay off on the hustings but they are not winners in the House because the system makes attacks on those in charge the opposition’s prime role, not the promotion of their own program. Reformers have all the basics for attacks which wear away a government but not the best of leaders for it.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, March 17, 1996
ID: 13112091
TAG: 199603150155
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C7
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

CANADA’S ARMED FORCES AT THE BREAKING POINT//EITHER THE GOVERNMENT DOESN’T BELIEVE THE CHIEF OF DEFENCE STAFF, OR DOESN’T CARE

Like sugar bush workers heading out to tap the maples, finance department minions have spent their springs since 1987 siphoning cash from Canada’s armed forces. Those searching for sap know that if you take too much, you kill the tree. It’s not a lesson learned by either the bean counters or their ministerial masters.
The latest budget shows DND will make a further $800 million contribution (over three years) to the cause of deficit reduction.
What would the slashers do without the military?
The media and opposition MPs, who’ve made much of reductions in transfers to the provinces and change in the taxation of child support, have almost ignored the military’s budget story. Yet this budget is the government’s first response to last month’s warnings from Canada’s top soldier. Remember? He said our army is incapable of combat, the other services aren’t in much better shape and the forces cannot take further cuts.
Either the government doesn’t believe the chief of defence staff, or doesn’t care.
Gen. Jean Boyle’s budget humilation was predictable, given the defence minister’s experience. In the wake of the 1994 budget (cuts of $7 billion over five years), David Collenette was asked how much more his department could take. He stated that the military was being stretched to its limits.
How would he describe it today?
Now the forces must not only absorb new cuts but also pay for Canada’s increased Haitian peacekeeping contingent, since the UN Security Council (China) balked.
How tough are things for the armed forces?
Some numbers: between 1994-98 their budget will have been cut by 23%; between 1989-98 uniformed personnel will have dropped from 87,000 to 60,000, and civilian employees from 36,900 to 20,000 – for a total reduction of 43,900 or 35%. (Note: the government boasts of its toughness in cutting 45,000 from the entire civil service.)
When cuts are made elsewhere the government tells the public to reduce its expectations. Yet despite dramatically reducing the forces’ resources, the government keeps demanding more from them.
A recent survey of the ranks found that only 17% “believe that the leadership has the talent and the wherewithal to lead us through these difficult times.” As long as those at the top keep swallowing their pride, accepting what they have said was unacceptable, these numbers won’t improve.
Is it too much to expect that someone might actually resign on such an issue of principle?
Reflect on other budget-related defence items. To help with the latest cuts the minister announced the purchase of new ship-borne helicopters will be delayed another year. By the time our fleet of ancient Sea Kings is retired, it will be almost 40 years old.
This is a ridiculous and unconscionable delay. An all-party committee has insisted these machines be replaced immediately, and the government itself designated this program as a critical priority. What a callous disregard for the safety of those who must fly these clapped-out machines. It goes to show how little thought went into Jean Chretien’s decision to cancel the Tories’ proposed purchase of EH-101 helicopters without an alternative at hand.
The new cuts seem to kill the navy’s hopes of acquiring used British submarines in exchange for the use of Canadian training facilities. Gen. Boyle has indicated that if this is the case then the forces’ mandate must be changed. In turn, our defence relationships with our two closest allies, the U.K. and the U.S., will be adversely affected.
The budget estimates show a few critical priority items are being acquired, but here too the picture is a sorry one. The purchase of new armored vehicles is going ahead, but as Gen. Boyle admitted to the authoritative Jane’s Defence Weekly, “they’re not fighting vehicles.”
Sixty million dollars is to be spent on modern helmets, extra body armor plates, spall liners for our current armored personnel carriers (to protect the crew from flying fragments should these be hit), and armor for our “jeeps.” All these items have been needed for years – certainly since we began operating in Bosnia. Had we had this gear earlier some of those maimed there might have escaped serious injury.
Of course, the most depressing aspect of this budget for the armed forces and their morale is its exposure of how our service people have been lied to.
In 1994 when the big cuts were announced, they were told that as a trade-off for their pain, they would see some of the savings reallocated to replace worn-out gear. The new cuts and the delay in the helicopter program show that any and all of the savings the department comes up with are just fair game for the leftists in cabinet seeking “easy” cuts.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, March 15, 1996
ID: 13111870
TAG: 199603140250
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THERE ARE HABS … AND HAB-NOTS

The last week in Montreal has been tempting. Should I notice the grand drama at the Forum and thus reveal a relentless partisanship?
To explain, I recall the wisdom of an elder statesman among columnists – Art Buchwald.
Decades ago he advised aspiring columnists not to let either desperation for a topic or enthusiasm for a cause lead them into using family stuff or their private fantasies. He sketched the consequences from a last-gasp column he wrote about his dog.
Demands swamped him from both those who acclaimed or condemned him and his dog. He found himself with a public “persona” that kept embarrassing him.
His agency and editors had loved the piece and the dog but he knew he was more than a dog owner. Nonetheless, a “dog” column became a standby in emergencies. I once mentioned Art’s dog to a pair of fellow columnists, the late Charles Lynch and George Bain.
As I recall, the latter agreed with the caution, referring to the dubious image as a versatile handyman he earned from a column he forced out one hot summer about a brick wall he built at the cottage. Lynch acknowledged that belatedly a downside had emerged from his readers’ retention of columns in which he and members of his family had prime roles.
But he always believed that living was work, and vice-versa. He would go on, as he said, “Letting it all hang out.” And he did, even into the funeral service which he drafted for himself.
Toward the close of World War II my childhood fascination with hockey firmed into favoring one club – the “Habitants.” I’d even mouth – to myself, of course – their slogan: “Les Canadiens sont la!”
In part, this jelling came with the enthusiasms of new troop-mates from Montreal and from getting to know the likable Ken Reardon during the army hockey championships in wartime Antwerp, 1945. But it also came from from the kind of hockey the Canadiens had been playing for coach Dick Irvin and manager Frank Selke. An example? The fast, hard, clean play by the great line of Lach, Blake and Richard.
A PRIVATE PLEASURE
So the dye of my loyalty to a team in Montreal was set. In my case, as with many other fans, this became a private pleasure and concern rather than a matter of public avowal or personal display of emblems.
A devotee, say, of the Leafs, comparatively so less accomplished through those years, might sneer about riding the backs of a front-runner, given the Canadiens’ record of wins and trophies galore. But a really fair Leaf fan also knows that a hockey partisan can never have enough wins and good seasons.
What Canadiens backer could say he hasn’t stewed about the quality of his team the past three years. One moans (privately!) about its lacks of finesse and winces at its sad shift from a “head-manning” offence to “shoot and chase” stuff.
The post-game orgy last Monday primed one’s nostalgia for past teams and their particular styles and moves. What joys, glories – and frets – came back as the retired Canadiens of note took up places around the red square. Beliveau, the nonpareil; Henri the effortless; the shrewd Savard; Big Butch; the Roadrunner; Tarasov’s ideal player – Bob Gainey; Reardon the rugged; the persistent Lach; and the ultimate attacker, the Rocket, whom I once saw in Toronto carry the puck, Bucko Macdonald and Babe Pratt over Turk Broda and into the Leafs net.
By now you want to know why a political columnist of long experience and (one hopes) some name for fairness and restraint is admitting much of his life’s time has been to a one-sided preoccupation with a mere hockey team.
My diverse answer begins by noting this has not been un-Canadian. In brief, the glorious summation at the Forum’s end last Monday made me want to shout out a gratitude for a wonderful organization and the generally admirable state of mind of the fans in Montreal through 50 years of popular history.
It is hope raised by the balance and savoir faire of those fans which shifts me now from hockey to politics.
The separation of Quebec would stretch, probably break, the loyalties of most Canadiens backers in Canada East and Canada West. The prospect even seems to be encouraging the partition of Quebec itself.
And would a successful Lucien Bouchard and government bear long with a great team in their heart city called “Canadiens”?

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, March 13, 1996
ID: 13111580
TAG: 199603120070
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

JURY’S STILL OUT ON MARTIN BUDGET

The day after the federal budget a business economist was snarky with a TV reporter who had asked, “Will this budget fly?” The reply went like this: “I’ve been around too long to answer that question now.”
The economist recalled budgets that were at first welcomed or seen as ordinary but which, with more examination, brought increasing negative reaction and eventually became disasters. He referred to Allan MacEachen’s 1981 budget of follies and, by inference, to John Crosbie’s 1979 budget that brought electoral calamity.
His caution on the latest budget pleased me because he factored in some history that is worth remembering. First and early responses to budgets are not certain guarantees of their ultimate repute.
A bout of the shivers last Wednesday broke my string of attendance at 30-odd budget “lockups.” Thus I was unclued and without the usual guidance of colleagues when I turned to CBC Radio’s broadcast of Paul Martin’s third budget speech.
How gloriously positive he was. Such confidence, such self-satisfaction seemed too good to endure. Surely, I thought, there must be several potential hang-ups for the Chretien government in what the budget does and does not undertake.
Well, so far no barrage of focused criticism from the federal opposition parties, the provincial administrations, or the major business interests has negated the profuse respect now accorded the budget’s sponsor.
In fact, Martin’s optimism and his undertakings of “no new taxes” and “staying the course” on deficit-fighting have translated him into the prospect missing since Jean Chretien became PM – an obvious, attractive successor.
Martin basks in a success that may last for months or perhaps years. Let me doubt this.
Take the claim of “no new taxes.” Most non-custodial parents -men who won’t forget – will challenge the truth of that assertion. And a lot of us will come to see the foolishness in Martin’s assurance that the revenues from taxing such parents’ child-care payments are destined only for programs to help poor kids.
And from the resolve to stay the course on deficits, one must turn to three other courses the Liberals were on and from which they are astray: l) the principle of universality; 2) abolition of the GST; 3) creating “Jobs, jobs, jobs.”
The Liberals were the major party which first took up and eventually emplaced what was a CCF (NDP) aim and the lifework of Stanley Knowles. The CCF insisted universality be the basic principle in the health and welfare programs of Canada. Equal benefits to all!
LIBERAL OUTRAGE
During the Mulroney years the Liberals spewed outrage when Tories pecked at the universality principle in pensions. They would not divide Canadians into “haves” and “have nots.” The rising costs of universality should be met by the progressive flexibility at hand in personal income tax law.
The complexity of the changes the Liberals project for our pension system and the years to phase them in have muffled the critical reactions sure to develop from both the middle-aged who will be most short-changed and the democrats still seized by the fairness of universality.
Not staying the course on their own postulate of universality for pensions may not hurt the Liberals electorally for a few years. What will hurt is their failure to deliver on abolishing the GST and really focusing on job creation.
My contacts with elected Liberals are not profuse but those I have, plus what I read in local papers which give play to government backbenchers, tells me they are acutely aware that the budget fudges or evades the GST and the jobs undertakings.
The cavalier joshing by Martin about the GST and his posturing about “harmonization” as a “some time” solution is not a pose to take to the hustings. So too for the promises to create jobs far beyond anything seen in the Mulroney years. Imagine a budget that didn’t even project employment forecasts.
It was real “gut” politics: abolish the GST; create jobs, jobs, jobs. But the Liberals’ third budget has sidestepped those undertakings. This puts a huge onus on Martin’s fourth budget in this parliamentary mandate. It will have to deal seriously with both matters because neither will fade away through this year and early 1997 … unless the unity issue begins to run wild (as is possible, though far from certain). If this issue runs to separation, just evading the chaos will push the GST and unemployment off the centre stage. But if there’s a grand triumph for unity it should give our federal governors a free ride into the 21st century, perhaps with Paul Martin as their fresh leader.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, March 06, 1996
ID: 12343329
TAG: 199603050120
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

A SNAP ELECTION IS A DUMB IDEA

The seriousness being given by so many to the prospect of a federal election this year was even sillier than the idea of it, launched by the prime minister in his Throne speech and confirmed afterwards by two of his more prominent lieutenants, Sheila Copps and Sergio Marchi.
At times recently Jean Chretien has seemed scrambled and not as self-assured as we have come to take for granted. Perhaps to cheer himself and his followers he had to flaunt his ultimate prerogative as prime minister – calling an election whenever he wishes. It’s true that he and his party continue very high in opinion poll standings while nationally none of the BQ, Reformers, Tories, and New Democrats is within 40 points.
It’s hard to foresee how he could lose a snap election in terms of a clear majority. But the moot question is this: In such an election can the Liberals sweep at least 15 to 20 seats away from the Bloc Quebecois?
Perhaps the results in the approaching federal byelections (March 25) in Quebec will indicate such ruination for the BQ is in sight.
If both his new cabinet ministers (Stephane Dion and Pierre Pettigrew) win by enormous majorities in the Montreal region and his candidate captures or comes to close to taking the Lac St. Jean riding which Lucien Bouchard has forsaken, then Chretien might well assume the balance in Quebecois loyalties has swung strongly to the federalist cause and it’s time to demonstrate it on a much grander scale.
A smashing return to power associated with a return to the old days when the Liberals almost always held the majority of Quebec seats in Ottawa would certainly hearten an anglophone Canada distraught since the referendum last October. It would also boost the backing from the other premiers which the PM needs to make the constitutional changes he has promised Quebec, in particular a “distinct society” clause.
Nevertheless, not even the most optimistic Liberal believes the foregoing reversals in Liberal and BQ-PQ fortunes in Quebec are underway, let alone at hand.
An election call with almost three clear years left in the mandate given in late 1993 is a scenario for electoral rebuff.
SEE PETERSON AND BARRETT
If Chretien has forgotten Lester Pearson’s misjudgment in his election call in 1965 surely he hasn’t forgotten what befell provincial premiers who went to the people early. See David Peterson in Ontario, 1990, and Dave Barrett in B.C.,1975.
Further, a lot of the undertakings in Chretien’s Red Book which have been so frequently underlined since the last election have not been completed – the most obvious being abolition of the GST. And one aim achieved – the gun control registration law – still rankles in some 60 rural and hinterland ridings held by Liberal MPs.
Despite some fair figures from the finance minister on coping with deficit reduction, the unemployment figures are not heartening and the apprehension of a recession lingers.
No! An election this year won’t wash. Above all there would have to be substantial polling proof that Bouchard is over the hill in Quebec and Chretien is at or near the top of it there.
Chretien dropped his election ploy in the House when scorning the re-election prospects of Reform MPs. At times it even seems he detests Reformers more than the sovereignists.
What’s surprising, and surely baffling to Preston Manning, is why Reform has not been gaining more backing from the public despite a rather solid performance as an opposition group and some marked success in creating the framework for two of the Chretien government’s present directions. First, its priority for deficit reduction; second, its emergent bluntness with separatists on the costs and penalties if they secede.
Not only does opinion polling indicate Reform is not a burgeoning threat to Liberal fortunes beyond the two most westerly provinces, there is slight to nil evidence that either the federal Progressive Conservatives led by Jean Charest or the New Democrats led by Alexa McDonough are poised for a major recapture of seats in an election. In fact, the best thing for the Liberals as partisans is how fractionalized is their opposition in anglophone Canada. One can hardly imagine antagonism to the Chretien government focusing on any one opposition party or leader, and none of the three leaders is going to be replaced by some charismatic savior in the next year or two.
In short, “the rest of Canada” is sticking with Chretien until the next balloting encounter with Bouchard and the BQ. A federal election this year would be without profit of any kind for Chretien unless it promised a major setback for BQ candidates, and it doesn’t.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, March 03, 1996
ID: 12342678
TAG: 199603010128
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C7
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

GRIT MPS SEE PM’S NASTY SIDE

As I have written before, Jean Chretien can be very mean. Let me work gradually into the latest example, the abrupt dismissal of his “B team.”
In 1957 my position as a freshman MP in a third party carried a weight that is hard to credit today. My constituents (and those of other new MPs) assumed I could address their specific, federal concerns and also contribute significantly to national affairs through question period prodding, House speeches and committee work. Back then a busy MP had a fighting chance with such expectations.
Today, although MPs still come to the capital hoping to make their mark, the jest Pierre Trudeau made in the ’70s – that away from the Hill MPs were nobodies – could be extended. Today they don’t rate much higher on it, and this is particularly so for MPs on the government’s side.
Many factors have demeaned the stature and influence of MPs: a media fixed on leaders and which rarely bother with mere MPs; the regular use of closure by governments keen to curb debate and “deliver” legislation; harsh discipline for MPs who rock the caucus boat; and the unstatesmanlike antics of a few MPs (hello, ratpackers).
Last week’s firing of 21 of 23 parliamentary secretaries appointed two years ago was the latest rebuff from on high to the aspirations of lowly MPs. (One made the cabinet, another the ministry.)
Parliamentary secretaries are the government’s spear carriers. In return for the title and a modest salary supplement, they serve a minister by doubling for him on the rubber chicken circuit, helping marshal legislation, answering questions in his place and vetting committees. Most do get association with the cabinet and top mandarins plus some moments in the political spotlight. Not glorious work, but both a step up from the back bench and very educative. And many ministers got their start as parliamentary secretaries. Just ask the PM.
Chretien claimed his first batch of secretaries were prime evidence of the rich talent the people had provided him. They were his cabinet-in-waiting – the pool from which he could draw should any of his front bench falter. Some of the latter did. Yet, instead of tapping this resource, Chretien saw fit to start over.
Were the parliamentary secretaries to blame for the government’s shortcomings? Did they drop the ball in Quebec? Or was his earlier boasting about them just that? Did he ever expect them to amount to much?
DILIGENT AND ABLE
In my opinion more than half of the deposed secretaries were diligent and able to the highest possible expectations. Some were clearly more substantial than their ministers. I know many of them are asking themselves why they bothered. The question one has to raise is whether their ministers approved the PM’s dismissal ukase. It seems that either no minister stood to defend his protege, or that any such efforts were shrugged off by Chretien.
Such senior ministers as Paul Martin, Herb Gray and Allan Rock had exceptional secretaries in David Walker, Russ MacLellan, and Peter Milliken. It astonishes me that they hadn’t the fight and the will to keep their aides.
Although the newly appointed parliamentary secretaries are a fair group, most of them should be pondering their lot, even asking “Why should I bust my gut?” like Walker, MacLellan, Milliken, Maurice Bevilacqua, Albina Guarneri, Jesse Flis, etc. whose roles ended so summarily. Better perhaps to position oneself to flatter the PM and his counsellors. Witness Jane Stewart, the new Ontario minister, who was not a parliamentary secretary.
Most MPs know the odds against becoming ministers but it is reasonable that through hard work they may aspire to a secretaryship and then beyond. The role had also carried some cachet back home. Now Chretien has debased it into a time-shared patronage perk for the obedient who keep their noses clean. The impact will be substantial within the caucus ranks.
Before this we heard rumbles of dissent at the authoritarian cast in the PMO in dealing with caucus. The shabby treatment of the secretaries fuels such criticisms but, as one Liberal MP told me, “We should stop blaming Jean Pelletier and Eddie Goldenberg for Jean Chretien’s decisions.”
The real and continuing issue this situation exposes is a system of government that leaves most of the people’s elected representatives, even those in the winning party, on the sidelines looking on. I will address this flaw in the parliamentary system in future columns.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, March 01, 1996
ID: 12342103
TAG: 199602290147
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

CHRETIEN’S EGO NEEDED A BOOST

The prime minister’s speech in the throne debate was well showcased by the noisy vigor of approval and admiration from his gang – standing ovations, vigorous clapping, even choruses of “Bravo! Bravo!” led by Sheila Copps.
Jean Chretien needed the backing. He is recovering from recent shocks to his own measure of himself as a capable leader.
The fervent applause rolled him through a long prologue of brag about the ethical purity and many accomplishments of his government and into various indications of priorities and choices. It even made plausible the odd and dubious challenging of Corporate Canada; i.e., it should focus on making new jobs now that his government has mastered the deficit dilemma, lowered interest rates and damped inflation.
The length and wide range of the speech suggested to me that Chretien is far more aware than he was pre-referendum of the gravity of the situation on his watch. The second half of this mandate will be busier than the first, and is almost sure to see an elongation of the deficit reduction process in order to free money for programs to spur the creation of new jobs.

Michel Gauthier’s opening performance as the Bloc Quebecois leader emphasized the line that a new, positive relationship between Canada and Quebec should be possible. Meanwhile, the BQ MPs would continue to critique the government in defence of both Quebec’s interests and of policies and programs definable as social democratic or NDP with a Quebec twist.
Gauthier is sensible and remindful in his plain, easy personality of David Collenette, the defence minister, but he’s coming after one of the most superb House performers in 40 years. Gauthier will have nothing like the downsizing effect on Chretien wrought by the presence and talent of Lucien Bouchard. In hockey terms, Wayne Gretzky’s been traded for Wendel Clark.

The opening approach of the Reform Party to the second half of this Parliament’s game was given by Deborah Grey, subbing for Preston Manning. Although she reiterated the imperative of deficit reduction, her core line seemed to be of rather positive patience. The seriousness of the government’s intentions was acknowledged. The Reform MPs would be thorough but courteous and not destructive in their views.
In short, for a time, perhaps briefly, Reform is not after Chretien’s head. Their highmindedness may last until Easter.

Paul Martin’s body language was a delight to watch after a simple question in the House on when he’d fulfil the Liberals’ promise to abolish the GST. While his words were evasive, the expansive way he swung his arms, so nicely relaxed and unconcerned, tacitly telegraphed that the GST, however “harmonized,” would be with us for a long time.
Of course, Martin privately regrets even more than Copps does the silly undertaking she made in 1993 of resigning if the Chretien government didn’t abolish the GST within two years of taking office.

The throne speech had a brief nod toward aboriginal aspirations, mentioning positively “the recent historic Nisga’a agreement in principle.” But it had no references to the recent, blunt recommendations of the Royal Commission on aboriginal affairs that there be a separate native justice system, criminal law and all. This parallel system would not be just for “status” Indians but for any one who wishes to declare that he or she is an aborigine. Is it possible Allan Rock, the justice minister, realizes what a recipe this would be for court chaos in a score of cities from Toronto westward?

The announcement that downgraded Mirabel airport and effectively made Dorval Montreal’s entrepot reflects some cowardice in this government. Was it made by the minister of transport, head of the department which planned the Mirabel white elephant and through which well over $5 billion beyond revenues has been spent? No! The local airport mandarin spoke the words presaging the end of the very costly misjudgment by the Trudau government (1968) and in which subsequent governments persisted.
David Anderson, the new minister, ducked his duty. However, from elsewhere he was later quoted in the papers on the reasons for the Mirabel fiasco: the political threat of separatism had badly hurt traffic growth and investment. Of course, this is nonsense. Mirabel was a costly bust even before it opened in 1975, even before the PQ first took office in 1976.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, February 28, 1996
ID: 12341685
TAG: 199602270122
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

A THRONE SPEECH FULL OF PUFFERY

As Parliament opens its second session it is clear that Jean Chretien is still very much in charge of the government, as he has been since the late fall of 1993. But saying that means less than it meant then or seems to now on the surface.
At the first throne speech of this Parliament there seemed such great potential in the Chretien government. There were so many new, confident Liberal MPs, and such widespread goodwill across Canada outside Quebec toward the prime minister.
Of course, such hope for future glory is always the case with the first throne speech from a new government, fresh from an election. The speech and its subsequent debate are the earliest, substantial augury of firm intentions, priorities, and talent within the government. In contrast, the second speech from the throne is a routine, defensive, partisan exercise that is full of puffery over accomplishments just past or under way and is heavy with assurances of even more to come on an even wider front.
Yesterday’s second Throne speech had everything in it but the proverbial kitchen sink. (In this case the unmentioned kitchen sink is largely cultural policy and programs – e.g., the CBC, CRTC, multiculturalism, etc.) Certainly, the speech was not exciting or invigorating or loaded with much wisdom, pretended or real, on the many “challenges” we face.
A goodly portion of the speech was taken up with: “The government will work with the provinces … ” or “the government will introduce … will prepare … will propose …. will ensure …. etc.”
In this the speech conformed to one of the postwar traditions of the Hill – that any throne speech has to be a grab-bag crammed with topics in a heavy dressing of assurances, challenges and hope. A rider to this tradition comes with the remarks by the PM and his ministers which will come in the throne “debate.” These, it is said, provide the particulars and priorities for the platitudes and intentions put in the Governor General’s mouth.
And so we will wait for the particulars, in my case without any real expectation of much that is surprising or visionary.
Why am I so skeptical? Because this continues to be very much Jean Chretien’s government and, despite the image he has created of action and movement, as our leader he is both a cautious and closed-in manager.
BY THE SEAT OF HIS PANTS
If one takes the imagery of federal Canada as an aircraft, he certainly is its pilot. Further, he knows where he wants the plane to reach in the next two years: a boom in employment and a slump in the separatist cause. But after two years with Chretien as pilot we also know – even most Liberal MPs now know – that as prime minister he’s much like the early bush pilots who figuratively “flew by the seat of their pants.”
A few observers think that what some of us take as caution and confusion in Chretien and his circle about what to do about jobs and Quebec, have been cleverly designed through the variety in different propositions or intentions that have been floated, then denied or disowned.
For example, there is to be a plan A and a plan B for dealing with the Quebec problem.
Then, no, there is no plan B of tough love and emphasis on the traumas and losses of division. Then there is neither a plan A nor a plan B but a single, coherent strategy. This will stress caring and sharing, with more powers to the provinces.
For example, the matter of the divisibility of Quebec may be referred by the government to the Supreme Court for an opinion on its legality. No, no; there are no plans to do such a thing. That’s mere unfounded speculation. Why, such a reference would both enrage the PQ-BQ and show Ottawa is ready to let judges do what the prime minister hesitates to do through Parliament.
For example, for more jobs might we not try another infra-structure gambit, only bigger? Is there money for it? If so, wouldn’t a big youth plan be the better focus for a cash-short government? Yes, that’s the line – the youths of today are the leaders, etc. of tomorrow.
For example, yes, we promised to abolish the GST and we have been trying. At present we are hard at work developing a harmonization of the GST with the provinces’ sales taxes that, when achieved, will end the GST as we know it.
My counsel is to wait and hope a bit (but not a lot) on initiatives on the keenest issue – Quebec – that the latest savior, Stephane Dion, has developed for Chretien. Next week the third budget from Finance Minister Paul Martin should reveal the scope of the jobs endeavor.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, February 25, 1996
ID: 12341011
TAG: 199602230150
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C5
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

CBC DEFENDS AIRBUS REPORTS

CBC’s Peter Mansbridge has replied to a column of mine which alleged a media bias in the Airbus Affair. While his letter was no surprise, its line of reasoning was.
Mansbridge defended the CBC against charges of bias by claiming it was “out front” of its competitors in examining the credibility of Giorgio Pelossi. Pelossi’s allegations of a secret, prime ministerial Swiss bank account inspired the initial CBC Airbus story (on the fifth estate), numerous subsequent CBC news reports, and the police investigation. His credibility is thus key to any assessment of the allegations against Brian Mulroney and Frank Moores, and to media coverage of them.
In my piece I praised CTV’s George Wolff and the Sun’s Bob Fife for exposing Pelossi’s murky past. Mansbridge countered with a transcript of a Dec. 12 report by Brian Stewart to prove the CBC’s claim to leadership in this matter.
Mansbridge: “As far as I can tell the only substantial difference in the CTV piece (Wolff’s), other than being well after ours, was that it included a suggestion that Pelossi was about to be charged within a week for certain unnamed crimes. Well he wasn’t … and still hasn’t.”
As I compare the two networks’ stories below, consider Mansbridge’s assessment that no other “substantial” differences between the CBC and CTV reports exist, therefore the CBC was both “out in front” and balanced in its treatment. Or does the comparison show evidence of the bias I alleged?
The CBC story described criminal charges outstanding against Pelossi as “misappropriating other people’s money.” CTV’s effort noted that there was a series of indictments against him, including fraud, embezzlement and breach of trust. In the CBC story Pelossi’s alleged victims are “an Italian family.” CTV indicated that the bank account concerned belonged to a convicted Mafia money launderer.
BAD BLOOD
CTV reported a dispute between Pelossi and his former partner, Karlheinz Schreiber, who accuses him of misappropriating almost $1 million from his company, International Aircraft Leasing. Pelossi acknowledges taking it, but claims he was entitled to it. This is the same Schreiber who Pelossi alleges established secret Swiss accounts for Mulroney and Moores to receive “commissions” from the Airbus sale. Stewart’s item didn’t cover this aspect of the Pelossi story. (Subsequent CBC stories have made little of the bad blood between the men.)
CTV’s story explained that Pelossi’s lawyer in the Schreiber dispute is a convicted fraud artist, disbarred by Zurich authorities. Nothing on this in the CBC piece.
The CBC’s story did contain some remarkably contradictory descriptions of Pelossi. At first he is “a middle man and money mover” in a city “notorious” for money laundering: “Pelossi is expert at creating companies on paper for people who want to move money around fast and anonymously.” In the very next sentence the reporter says of these activities: “All quite legal …” Really?
Later Stewart cites a local investigative reporter “who’s studied the case” and concluded that “prosecutors finally believe Pelossi was an innocent middle man caught up in the grey world of Lugano money launderers.” The “expert” manipulator of funds, the “middle man and money mover” in the “notorious” city of Lugano is now apparently an innocent dupe.
To help the public assess the indictments against Pelossi the CBC story offered this journalist’s opinions of the prosecutors’ views, and Pelossi’s own words (he appears on camera to casually dismiss them). This effectively minimized the charges. No dissenting voice – from the police, prosecutors, or Pelossi’s alleged victims was heard. Yet the only real evidence of the prosecutors’ “beliefs” is that the charges against Pelossi still stand.
The dispute between Pelossi and Schreiber is important because it offers possible motives, other than a public-spirited search for the truth, for Pelossi’s Airbus allegations. The RCMP investigation they spawned is probing every aspect of Schreiber’s finances, making the life of Pelossi’s nemesis miserable. This in itself is a possible motive for the allegations. Pelossi will also gain if the investigation he sparked turns up any wrongdoing on Schreiber’s part. If the latter has any skeletons in his financial closets, he may wish to drop his complaint over the missing IAL cash. Pelossi may also hope the RCMP investigation will turn up evidence he can use in court against his old partner, should their dispute ever get that far.
In his wisdom Mansbridge judges these to be insubstantial matters the public need not know. How about that?

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, February 23, 1996
ID: 12340461
TAG: 199602220119
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THE ITALIANS ARE COMING!

At last the Italian surge in our politics is showing, especially in Ontario. The chances are good that Ontario’s next Liberal leader will be of Italian ethnicity – to use a word from the multicultural vocabulary.
And those of us on Parliament Hill are intrigued, first because the contest may pit the vivid, anti-ethnic, John Nunziata against the florid immigration zealot, Sergio Marchi. Secondly, it seems likely, four other Toronto MPs will have a role somewhere in the contest: two “beaver” MPs, Maurizio Bevilacqua and Albina Guaranieri, who have just been dropped from Jean Chretien’s “second team” of parliamentry secretaries; and Tony Ianno and Joe Volpe, upwardly mobile politicians with reasons to be king-makers at the convention. Thirdly, Queen’s Park becomes more and more a place to go, now that the high, vast hopes from the Chretien victory in ’93 have faded on Parliament Hill.
I have tracked the slow progress of Italian-Canadians in politics since 1957, and something like this astonishing rush of Italo-Liberals into the Ontario contest is overdue.
Substantial (though not large-scale) immigration from Italy got under way between 1900 and 1910 under the auspices of a Liberal government. Many of the arrivals helped build the Canadian Northern and Canadian National railways westward, and subsequently initiated “Little Italys” in places like Sudbury, Sault Ste Marie, the Lakehead, and many railway division points, west through the prairies to the coast.
Those of this early immigration didn’t have an MP from their stock to identify with until 1957. Then Quinto Martini from Hamilton came to the House to sit behind John Diefenbaker and next year Hubert Badanai from Fort William made it. Badanai was a Liberal, far more in line with the partisan preferences of most Italian-Canadians than Martini.
THE SECOND WAVE
The first Italian-Canadian senator from Ontario, Peter Bose of Toronto, was not appointed until 1977 although the “Italian” vote, the most reliably Liberal of all, had zoomed between 1950 and 1960 when the second (and bigger) wave came in from Italy. For example, in the ethnic composition of Metro Toronto, the Italian portion was just under 2% in 1951, and just over 10% in 1961.
In the House of Commons today the Liberals have 15 MPs either born in Italy or of Italian stock and 12 of them represent Ontario ridings, eight of them in Metro.
Beyond the clear influence from Liberal sponsorship of the first substantial wave, why had so many become Liberals and not Tories? And why did it take so long for elected representation to come into line with the ethnicity’s numbers, and so long for such politicians to get into the front rank of the Liberal party? (Here, I should note that the Liberal domination was shaken in the past two decades as the NDP began to get Italian-Canadian candidates, notably in Metro and Queen’s Park politics).
The Italian immigrants were devoutly Roman Catholic. This church and its prelates, particularly those of French stock, preferred the Liberals after Louis Riel was executed in the 1880s by a Conservative government. In both Quebec and Ontario much of the earlier Irish immigration had been Catholic, and they bent to the Liberals because their foes, Protestant Orangemen, were Conservatives.
The Roman Catholic bias is still significant in Liberal party fortunes. There was also a notable dearth of professional and middle class immigrants in the first wave. These were working class or peasant people who tended, somewhat like Chinese immigrants, to follow patrones or elders who became the directors of their community’s votes, along with the priests. The grip of the patrones, often leaders of the manifold “Italian Benefit Assocations,” loosened and broke down in the ’60s and ’70s as second- and third-generation Canadians became teachers, lawyers, and self-employed in business and construction. Also, the second wave had a small modicum of professionals and intellectuals, some of whom helped initiate many “Dante” societies. Charles Caccia, the first Italian-Canadian in a federal cabinet (1981) was of this second wave.
Perhaps Nunziata best symbolizes how far Italian-Canadians have come: he was the first Liberal MP to attack multiculturalism as a policy and in its programs. He refuses to be a hyphenated Canadian. He could symbolize the maturation of Italo-Canadians if he should triumph in the Ontario stakes over the likes of Marchi, perhaps Bevilacqua, and MPPs Joe Cordiano (Toronto), Sandra Pupatello (Windsor) and Bob Chiarelli (Ottawa).
Whatever, the Liberals can no longer take them for granted.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, February 21, 1996
ID: 12340018
TAG: 199602200096
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

END OF THE ROAD FOR MIRABEL?

Trust in the competence of our politicians and their officials is blown by recurring examples to the contrary.
Take the admission that after billions spent on it over 28 years, Mirabel airport, some 35 miles northwest of Montreal, is a dud whose losses can be borne no longer.
Take the words of Doug Young, the new minister responsible for unemployment insurance, that there will be fresh changes to the system because the ones just passed by Parliament are too draconian with seasonal workers.
Take the bluffing and ineptness regarding three of Jean Chretien’s decisions which highlighted the ’93 election campaign: killing the GST; wiping out the privatization of Toronto airport; and cancelling the order for modern helicopters for rescue and military purposes.
What an example of realism and frugality it would be if the Chretien government abandons Mirabel, surely the sorriest item in Ottawa’s persistence at waste.
In 1968 Paul Hellyer, a fresh minister of transport, announced Mirabel would be Montreal’s grand airport and the Canadian hub for international air travel.
Mirabel fitted the Trudeau cabinet’s politics in Quebec, a belated pursuit of the “grandeur” sought by Premier Jean Lesage in fulfilling his theme of “Masters in our own House.”
Not only would Montreal get this state-of-the-art airport, Air Canada, the federal jewel in air transport, centred in Montreal, would get a new chief executive, law professor Yves Pratte. Pratte was a disastrous CEO for the Crown company betweeen 1968-75. He had replaced Gordon McGregor, an anglo Montrealer, who had led the airline for two decades after a brilliant period in the RCAF – a Battle of Britain DFC winner who in 1942 took an RCAF wing into the treacherous skies over the Aleutians against the Japanese.
McGregor was an exceptional leader – aggressive, fearless, bright and articulate. And he was progressive. He looked ahead. He had a grasp of aeronautical innovation, traffic flows, safety needs and how to sustain morale among pilots and baggage-handlers alike. He hated boondoggling and patronage. He insisted a balance be kept between Air Canada’s profitable routes and the “social” routes which governments demanded (e.g., in the Maritimes). He had known views on airport planning well before Hellyer announced Mirabel.
FAR TOO OPTIMISTIC
Every prediction McGregor made in the mid-’60s on the stupidity of a new Montreal airport has been sustained by Mirabel. Its projected traffic potential was far too optimistic.
The reasons for abandoning Montreal’s Dorval airport were its noise, its lack of space for traffic growth and auxiliary services and crammed road access. None was really cogent, given technical advances in quieter engines and bigger planes. The latter would make Toronto a greater traffic generator and the preferred destination for most international flights (and carriers!). Dorval was readily adaptable to growth in traffic and it was so handy to the city centre and for domestic transfers to Boston, New York and Miami.
McGregor was almost as harsh on the subsequent project of a new Toronto airport. Remember the Pickering fiasco, even costly after its cancellation when the Ontario government refused the needed road and rail access?
Yes, the Quebec government promised a modern road and rail nexus between distant Mirabel and downtown Montreal, an undertaking still unfulfilled. Mirabel opened in 1975 with extravagant boasts about its modernity and future traffic volume. The location was an odd compromise between provincial wishes to have the airport toward Quebec City and the planners’ wish to place it west of Montreal.
As early as 1976 airline executives and most business and trade associations of Montreal were openly critical of Mirabel. Claude Taylor, Pratte’s eventual successor at Air Canada, insisted in 1976 and often since that Mirabel should be mothballed. Dorval was a super site.
He noted the growth of both Montreal and air passenger traffic generally was far lower than the projections by the Ottawa wizards. Quieter planes of greater diversity for both long and short hauls, plus more efficient passenger and luggage transfers, kept Dorval the practical airport for Montreal.
Shrewd travellers were ticketing to evade departing or transferring from Mirabel. The international carriers wanted no part of it. Why not admit the mistake and stop the losses?
Those evaluations of Mirabel were made 20 years ago. There has been some $4 billion in total operational losses since then. None of many strategems to vitalize Mirabel has worked. At last – or so we pray – a federal cabinet has decided to be sensible.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, February 18, 1996
ID: 12339325
TAG: 199602160122
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C5
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

NO `REAL’ WARS, NO REAL ARMY

A shrug and a nervous laugh. That’s all the ministers of foreign affairs and national defence could muster in response to the admission by Canada’s top general that not only is our tiny army not ready for war, but he would oppose sending it into any “high intensity theatre.” Only in Canada.
David Collenette’s nervous chuckle is no surprise given that this is his stock response to the ceaseless flow of bad news from his defence department. Yet talk of generals speaking their minds openly could not mask the minister’s consternation at once more being blindsided by those in uniform.
Lloyd Axworthy’s shrug is another matter. His observation that there don’t seem to be any real wars around at the moment to worry about implies that Canada’s lack of a fighting army is perfectly in keeping with the world situation and his government’s policies on such matters. This view contradicts half a century of foreign policy, including his own government’s defence white paper. It also flies in the face of reality.
Among the lessons gleaned from the great slaughter of 1939-45 was that Canada’s failure to maintain combat-ready forces during the inter-war years was a grave mistake. The hasty creation of such forces during the war was just possible thanks to our relative geographic isolation from the fighting, but re-learning on the battlefield the arts of war our fathers had been taught a quarter century earlier in places like Vimy Ridge proved terribly costly in lives unnecessarily lost.
Since 1945 governments (mostly Liberal) have insisted that Canada field combat-capable forces, regardless of the perceived threat, as an insurance policy against being caught unawares. Moreover, our collective defence agreements (NATO and NORAD), which require us to come to the aid of our allies whenever the need arises, commit us to nothing less.
If Axworthy’s comments are part of a carefully considered policy, the next logical step would be the announcement that having reassessed the case for combat-ready forces and found it wanting, Canada is to remove herself from collective defence arrangements now deemed unnecessary and wasteful.
However, as with so much else involving this government, the two ministers were simply reacting to events rather than working to any plan. That these two guardians of Canada’s security and international reputation could greet the bad news about our armed forces with such equanimity leaves one wondering just what sort of briefings they receive.
Do these briefings not explain that our forces in Bosnia are supposed to be “combat capable?”
TURMOIL IN RUSSIA
Do they not set out the reasoning behind NATO’s involvement: that continued hostilities in ex-Yugoslavia pose a threat to the long-term stability and security of Western Europe requiring a collective response? And that this response must be backed by force, if it is to intimidate the various factions into accepting all provisions of the Dayton Peace Accords?
What do Collenette and Axworthy make of political turmoil in Russia, including a resurgent Communist party and rising right-wing sentiment? Are they not disturbed by the insistence of Russia’s new foreign minister that what the West once perceived as Soviet Cold War aims are in reality the legitimate needs of a great power – the right to dictate its neighbors’ security arrangements?
Do the two ministers even follow their own prime minister’s musings on foreign policy?
During his Asian trips Jean Chretien spoke on the region’s increasing importance to Canada. Security concerns there are growing. Witness these recent headlines: China threatens Taiwan; China to make hi-tech Russian fighters; Taiwan to purchase 150 U.S. jets; new Thai aircraft carrier launched.
Like Canada, Australia and New Zealand have made much of being “Pacific nations.” Unlike Canada, they see defence arrangements as vital to the region.
Axworthy’s comments about the dearth of “real” wars is reminiscent of the “10 year rule.” During the 1920s and ’30s British defence planners annually assured their government that another major conflict was at least 10 years away – thus there was no immediate need to address deficiencies in Britain’s forces. By the time the rule was finally dropped, the next “real” war was much less than a decade away. Those who embraced the rule failed to appreciate that defence forces are to forestall conflict, not simply respond to it.
Axworthy thinks he is a seer for the 21st century. Will our allies, who carry the freight for our collective defence, agree? If not, what will their response be to a shirker in their midst?

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, February 16, 1996
ID: 12338882
TAG: 199602150148
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

STILL TIP-TOEING AROUND QUEBEC

A caller asked: “Ever hear of the Bernonville case?”
After a minute I remembered it, at least in topic, time, and place -postwar Quebec and a deportation order. Was it topical again?
The caller said I must read a newish book in English, The Bernonville Affair: A French War Criminal in Quebec After World War II (written by Yves Lavertu, a Montreal historian and published in 1994 by Robert Davies).
My caller said it showed the ingrained traits of tribal solidarity and its animosities as did Jacques Parizeau’s remarks on referendum night. Quebecers don’t turn with a keen interest to those of us outside their own geography and society. And we, through our politicians and the government in Ottawa, mute contentious issues and duck debate that might debunk Quebecers’ litany of the wrongs they’ve suffered.
Count Jacques de Bernonville was a high official of Marshal Petain’s Vichy regime in occupied France, stamping out the Resistance in concert with the Nazis’ Gestapo and SS from 1943-45.
As France was freed and Charles de Gaulle took over, Bernonville hid with a Catholic order. Late in 1946 he slid into Canada disguised as a priest and got work and support from pro-Petain Quebecers who then truly reflected a majority opinion among Quebecers of hatred and distrust of communism and Jews. (The deep anti-Semitism which Mordecai Richler won’t leave alone.)
Even editorialists at Le Devoir and La Presse were sympathetic to Bernonville after his cover was blown late in 1947. He had bumped into a Jewish refugee who had known him in France. At once the latter informed authorities there. They had just tried Bernonville in absentia and sentenced him to death for war crimes. France asked Canada to send him back. “Never!” became the cry in Quebec. The count had immediately come into the open seeking asylum, sponsored by prominent Quebecers who had revered Petain. Ottawa slowly and reluctantly geared to deport him.
A mighty cause emerged in Quebec that pressured Ottawa on the Count’s behalf as Louis St. Laurent’s government tried to keep it out of the House of Commons. Then the whole affair was dropped when Bernonville decamped for safety to Brazil in 1951.
MUFFLED BY OTTAWA
My caller said I should note how the affair was muffled by Ottawa where the line was: “Let it lie.” It also shows the reaction, racism, and heedlessness of other Canadians’ values in French Quebec.
The leading Quebecers expressing backing for the Count were such as the mayor of Montreal, several archbishops, prominent historians and some Liberal and Conservative MPs and senators. Bernonville was depicted as a Christian victim of vengeful victors, who had stood for family values as an officer of Petain’s government.
Before this phone call I’d been comparing Pierre Trudeau’s harsh, logic-heavy attack on Lucien Bouchard’s dishonesty in the referendum campaign with the new premier’s slashing rebuttal, which so cleverly isolated the former prime minister and his hyper-arrogance for the compatriots in Quebec whom he so patronizes.
This comparison reminded me of a question I first got into in the early ’60s as an MP who engaged openly in the debate rising in Quebec over the separatists’ emergence and its recognition as a legitimate, not a treasonable aim. Why should the majority in Canada skirt around the core for us in separatism – the end of our country?
Missing in the mutual savagings of Trudeau and Bouchard over who did what in the several decades of constitutional harangue was any real recognition or understanding of Canada beyond Quebec.
Neither man has ever shown an informed appreciation or even much historical knowledge on the worth to Quebecers of what the rest of Canadians have done toward creating the federal system and a prosperous national economy.
It seems that ever since the Bilingualism and Biculturalism inquiry of the ’60s those of us not Quebecois have been on the defensive. We followed the persistent counsel of those elected to Parliament from Quebec. Be calm! Quebecers would never deny their own economic weal by voting to separate.
Therefore, sensible Canadians, including anglophones and allophones in the province, should never aggravate the Quebecois by stressing the good deeds of federalism for Quebec like Expo, Mirabel, the Olympics, the NFB, Radio-Canada, Bombardier and Canadair, or the 27% of francophones in federal jobs vis-a-vis the 1% of anglophones in Quebec provincial jobs.
The Bernonville Affair does remind one of both Quebec’s self-centredness and facing it by muting open and critical debate was the norm even before the so-called Quiet Revolution.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, February 14, 1996
ID: 12338443
TAG: 199602130136
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

MEDIA MESSED UP IN AIRBUS SCANDAL

If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does this mean it makes no sound? When events occur and the media in its wisdom decides not to delve into them, does this mean they lack importance?
George Bain, longtime journalist and media critic, mused recently in Maclean’s about the media’s disinterest in various intriguing subtexts of the supposed scandal involving the sale of Airbus aircraft to Air Canada during Brian Mulroney’s regime. Bain’s point was that some very important and troubling aspects remain unexplained: where the initiative to pursue the investigation came from; who the sources of “evidence” were for it; what role the cabinet, especially ministers Allan Rock and Herb Gray, played in it.
Weeks have passed with considerable private speculation around Ottawa about who the RCMP’s sources were (the name of one prominent anti-Mulroney journalist has been bandied about), and how what appears to be a half-baked investigation ever got under way. But little of this has made it into print or on the air. Why have so few taken up Bain’s challenge?
Certainly not because progress in the investigation itself has dominated the headlines, or that other important political stories left no time to consider these lines of inquiry. Until the recent cabinet shuffle the nation’s capital was in the House-less winter doldrums following the politicians’ decamping to their ridings.
Bain traced the media’s disinterest to their general antipathy toward the former prime minister. Let him defend himself, if he could. It was not for them to defend him.
Honorable exceptions to this were CTV’s George Wolff and the Sun’s Bob Fife. Both dug into the background of Giorgio Pelossi, a central figure in the affair thanks to his allegation that German-Canadian businessman Karlheinz Schreiber opened two Swiss bank accounts, one for Mulroney and the other for Frank Moores, into which a share of the “commisions” from the aircraft sale were to be paid. Fife and Wolff found that Pelossi’s dubious past and ongoing dispute with his former business colleague, Schreiber, left his word on such matters very much in doubt.
CRIMINAL CHARGES
Pelossi stands accused in Switzerland of five criminal counts (unrelated to the Airbus case), including fraud, aggravated embezzlement and breach of administrative trust involving the bank account of a convicted Mafia money launderer. Jailed for six months while the investigation was pursued, he is currently at liberty (witness his TV interviews) but remains under indictment as prosecuters continue their inquiries.
Pelossi has other legal problems that directly bear on the Airbus case. He stands accused by Schreiber and his company, International Aircraft Leasing, of purloining almost $1 million. Pelossi admits to taking the money, claiming it was owed to him – his 20% cut of commissions for helping sell Airbus jets. Adding to the lustre of Pelossi’s reputation is that one of those assisting him in his legal difficulties turns out to be a lawyer, convicted of fraud, whom Zurich legal authorities have disbarred.
Such is Pelossi’s background, the only publically identified source for the allegations against the former prime minister. And even he admits to having no proof whatsoever that any Airbus “commissions” ever reached Mulroney or Moores.
The political reporters for the major media players – in particular CBC News, the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star – have shown remarkably little interest in Pelossi’s background or, for that matter, in many of George Bain’s other unanswered questions. The Globe did break the story that on coming to office Justice Minister Allan Rock “passed on” to the RCMP various allegations against the previous government which someone had brought to his attention. But we do not know who his source was, what was alleged, or what action was ever taken regarding the claims.
Rock is unable to shed light. He cannot recall what the allegations were, and his obligation to honor his source’s request for anonymity prevents him from naming names. But his memory is good enough that he can assure us that whatever it was he passed on to the Mounties, it has no bearing on their investigation of Mulroney. We have his word on it.
One can understand the justice minister’s disinclination to delve further into these matters. Should that not energize those who claim to be the eyes and ears of the public, and in the case of CBC News, to set the public agenda? They made such hay in bringing the accusations against Mulroney into the light.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, February 11, 1996
ID: 12337748
TAG: 199602090116
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C5
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THE PM’S CRISIS OF SELF-CONFIDENCE

Few of us enjoy hearing that our governors are spinning in circles, even though this has often been so. In this nasty winter we have a confused prime minister and cabinet, as confused as any in my postwar memories.
They are confused – and privately split – over what to do about unemployment and our precious “safety net.” They are even more confused about our long-running constitutional schmozzle and how to deal with a testy Quebec.
It’s only fair to cite some precedents of previous confusion along the corridors of power.
There was the paralysis of the Diefenbaker government in 1963 over defence policy and the U.S.
There was the nadir in the Pearson government’s fortunes late in 1967 from scary inflation and cumulated scandals which brought on the resignation of the prime minister.
There was the lengthy, sputtering close to the mandate Pierre Trudeau earned in 1974 and stretched to 1979 before giving way to the brief Clark regime.
None of such dreary crises in confidence was more discouraging to the citizen hopeful for capable government than the faltering Mulroney regime after the Charlottetown agreement was rejected by voters.
A skeptic following the past year and a half of Jean Chretien triumphant should have anticipated the crash of confidence within the federal government but it was generally unexpected and quite sudden. Chretien had planed for two years with an unparalleled popularity (admittedly, in English Canada). This hasn’t vanished, but it’s breaking down. A promising alternative to the prime minister is not at hand in either the Liberals’ cast or that of any other party.
The remarkable self-confidence Chretien has had through three decades of hard-driving politics has been rocked simply because 14 weeks ago Canada was suddenly more in doubt on his “watch” than ever before.
From Laurier to King to St. Laurent to Pearson to Trudeau to Chretien, each Liberal leader’s vaunt has been national unity through a shrewd appreciation of Quebec.
Where does a prime minister turn when it is vacuous to reitereate his theme since 1965 that Quebecers would never vote to separate? As yet we don’t know, although we can see Chretien is cribbed by a lack of imagination and money as he faces a rival in Lucien Bouchard who overmatches him so baldly in his home province.
Last week it was so pathetic. One day the PM was being tough on Quebec, riding with the latest savior, political scientist Stephane Dion. Next day he denied there was any positive Plan A and an associated, tougher Plan B.
Despite having had three months to recoup, Chretien had to snatch another month of quiet time to ponder his course, leaving journalists to niggle about who ought to be leader of the Official Opposition.
Chretien closed a first and long session of this Parliament on the day he gave the Senate a Liberal majority that at once passed a measure on constitutional vetoes and Quebec as a distinct society which he’d promised in the last panicky days of the referendum campaign. A wide consensus says the measure has more symbolism than substance.
In this month when the House was supposed to meet, the rebuilt cabinet is drafting a speech from the throne on the course for the rest of this electoral mandate; if you wish, a “new slate” or a revision of the great Red Book.
The PMO’s spin doctors say the slate will take into account the features in the next budget by Paul Martin, Jr., and the legislation needed for both job creation and the priorities of national unity (such as more devolution of programs to the provinces).
We rarely get candor from a leader in office so it doesn’t shock us that Chretien cannot say he snuffed the first session so he and his aides would have more time to unsnarl the confusion he has been in ever since the opinion polls last October showed the federalist cause was sliding in Quebec.
Closing the session lost two significant bills in the Senate that Chretien could have had with just another week. One limited the federal liability for cancelling the deal for a third terminal at Pearson airport; the other rejected the results of the redistribution of House seats required by law so as to save many Liberal MPs from losing all or parts of their ridings.
After prorogation, House Leader Herb Gray issued “the highlights of the session.” These are not impressive to those who recall Chretien’s decisiveness and brio late in 1993 when he axed both the airport deal and the big helicopter buy. Neither matter is yet resolved. Nor is his undertaking to kill the GST. There was no stern reappraisal of either NAFTA or its preceding Canada-U.S. trade agreement. These two Mulroney achievements seem even more durable than his GST.
In achievement, the first two years of Chretien as leader have been skimpy. It is not apocalyptic to say he must quickly chart his determined course on the Constitution and Quebec – or Canada breaks.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, February 09, 1996
ID: 12337233
TAG: 199602080168
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

PM COMES UNDER FRIENDLY FIRE

Not without reason has the Senate been the butt of political humor, sarcastically known as patronage heaven, the ultimate partisan reward. But once in a while the Senate does provide “sober second thought.” Some senators do eschew rabid partisanship, even one I described on appointment by Pierre Trudeau as without merit. I refer to Colin Kenny, a Liberal senator who is going by the ideals of sobriety and introspection.
Sen. Kenny has written a broadside against his own government for failing to live up to its own promises, specifically commitments made to the armed forces.
In a letter to me he quoted both the 1994 White Paper and statements made by the minister of national defence last August, which reiterated that our forces must “have the proper equipment to protect them and effectively undertake the tasks that we assign.”
The good senator continues: “Supported in Parliament, the cabinet and by the responsible minister, how much equipment from 1994’s four `priority’ programs has made it into the hands of Canadian soldiers serving overseas? None.”
Kenny’s assessment, which I heartily endorse, is that the government has not only welshed on its high-minded talk, but continues to send our troops into ever more dangerous assignments despite their lack of proper gear.
Perhaps most urgent given the hazards posed by the peace enforcement mission in Bosnia is the need for new armored personnel carriers (APCs). Sen. Kenny notes that many of our APCs are 30 years old and not up to meeting today’s hazards. Yet under the government’s plans, even if all of the options to purchase new APCs are exercised, “only about one-third of Canada’s vehicles will be new models. And it will take seven years before even all of these are in the soldiers’ hands.”
The government’s helicopter replacement “programs” are a similar fiasco – more pious talk leading to inaction. Our search and rescue machines desperately need replacement. Like the APCs, they are three decades old, unreliable, out of date in terms of capability and increasingly dangerous to operate. They cannot fly in bad weather and, if they lose power in one of their two engines while hovering to rescue someone, they crash.
COSTLY `CADILLACS’
The previous government intended to replace these relics with state-of-the-art EH 101s, which offer greater range, reliability, all-weather capability and three-engine safety. During the last election the Liberals condemned these costly “Cadillac” machines, cancelling them as one of their first acts in government. More than two years later, however, they have not chosen a replacement, only recently announcing that a selection process had begun.
Meanwhile, the bill for the cancellation has just come in – half a billion dollars for nothing. As with our infantry and their APCs, our search and rescue personnel will probably have to wait until next century for proper helicopters.
Two years has also been insufficient for the government to decide what to do about our shipborne helicopter fleet. The infamous Sea Kings are also hitting the big three-oh. During the election the Liberals called into question the necessity for such submarine hunters, labelling the EH 101s to be bought also for this role as Cold War relics.
Sen. Kenny is too polite to mention the EH 101 controversy directly, but leaves no doubt we need such capability, noting that these machines greatly increase the effectiveness of our frigates and that our Sea Kings have in fact performed important UN duty off the coast of the former Yugoslavia. The government says it will have a replacement program, sometime soon. Kenny has no time for such procrastination.
“We must have some of the world’s leading experts in helicopters by now,” he said. “Enough studying, let’s get on with equipping our people.”
The senator has similarly cogent words on the need to get off the fence and take up the Brits’ offer of cut-rate submarines, noting among other things that 44 other countries see fit to operate this type of vessel because of its varied capabilities.
It’s a pity the prime minister did not consider the senator’s views before the recent cabinet shuffle. He saw fit not only to retain David Collenette as defence minister but to reward him with the role of political minister for Toronto.
Jean Chretien really should read and reflect on the senator’s final observation: “No amount of defence cuts will solve our deficit problem, but they could very well get some of our soldiers killed.”

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, February 07, 1996
ID: 11928553
TAG: 199602060095
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

TWO OLD LIONS, HEAR THEM ROAR

Two veterans of political affairs, Pierre Trudeau and Pierre Juneau, made sashays into open politics last week that had the absolute assurance in argument and method each used in their decades of prominence.
Trudeau hit the press with what is essentially a thorough, academic reprise of the constitutional exercise since 1971 from his perspective. Few will struggle through it, let alone remember its dense argument. Why not? It is a complex narrative of first ministers’ gatherings, in particular the one with the so-called “night of the long knives” in 1981. After this, a briefer explanation why the Meech Lake accord failed in 1990 mocks Bouchard’s allegation the failure was because “English Canada rejected the hand of Quebec.”
What may make this essay memorable, perhaps earning historians’ notice, is more likely to be its opening and closing paragraphs, not its debating points, for the former are vividly insulting to Bouchard. In the referendum campaign he “betrayed” Quebecers, used “demagogic rhetoric” and preached contempt of those who did not share his views.
Juneau, a repeated Liberal appointee to the federal mandarinate through almost 40 years, came from retirement to chair a troika of true believers in “public broadcasting,” asked to do a quick review of the best future courses for the CBC, the NFB and Telefilm, the major cultural Crown corporations.
The recommendations on the CBC fix mostly on English TV and have a twofold gist.
First, it should produce and show a completely Canadian schedule, do it without advertising (except with pro sports), do more drama and children’s programs and return to a full responsibility for regional productions and services. In short, this would be as big a CBC as we now have, probably bigger, and eventually costlier.
Second, the changed and very challenging mandate should be financed by a regular, specific tax on those who buy cable and long distance phone services. This would guarantee a level of income that enables sound, long-range planning and full assurance of continuity – not the prospect of cuts with every annual budget.
ERA OF DEBT ANGST
Anyone familiar with the themes Juneau advanced while heading both the CRTC and the CBC would expect he still holds them. He does. Surely the PM knew what he would get when he assigned the review. Yet, in an era of deficit cutting and debt angst in Ottawa, is as big, or bigger, a CBC and a crassly open tax on most Canadian householders the way to go? With so much cynicism abroad about institutions of government was it smart or even sensible politics to have the troika repeat the Juneau mantra that the CBC is the key to sustaining and furthering Canadian identity and unity?
It’s true a sizable minority of Canadians may agree with Juneau. Certainly scores of interest groups do, including the organizations of producers, directors, reporters and presenters of the CBC itself. But is such backing powerful enough to sweep the Chretien government into such a remarkable mandate and so biting a tax?
My hunch is that the CBC’s devotees do not have the popular support to convince a cabinet cribbed for money. Remember, however, that the PM has given Sheila Copps, both a “spender” and a fan of the CBC, the chore of shaping the response to the Juneau review and its projected CBC mandate and tax, and she’s not a predictable factor.
The troika’s alternatives to financing the CBC by the cable-phone tax are hardly more appealing. A take from the GST on communications’ sales would cause confusion for both the finance and revenue departments. To keep on the parliamentary appropriation route with the rider there must be stability in the grants may actually be what comes about.
Because the Juneau review was preceded by a long examination of the CBC and its needs by a House committee, the government can hardly stall through more committees.
Whither the CBC is a knotty dilemma, but less vital than national survival or the faltering economy. The merit in the Juneau vision for the future CBC is a bluntness the Liberals may reject but can hardly compromise.
As for Trudeau vs. Bouchard, is this the time for such scorching of the most popular Quebecer since the prime of Rene Levesque? The scathing stuff thrills many anglophones. They relish the old lion clawing the new premier. What an unparalleled encounter it would be to have them pitted one-on-one in an open forum. But that’s like a dream fight between Dempsey and Ali.
The premier is very clever. Perhaps intuitively he shrugged with his most telling counter: regretful pity the old man should be overwrought about his status in Quebec history.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, February 04, 1996
ID: 11927939
TAG: 199602020077
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C6
COLUMN: Backgrounder
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

QUEBEC, TOO, IS DIVISBLE//AFTER 30 YEARS OF SILENCE, POLITICIANS FINALLY FACE THE FACTS

The text for this sermon of mine on the divisibility of territory and people is from the words of Jesus in the gospel of St. Mark, chapter 3, verse 23:
“And if a House be divided against itself, that Kingdom cannot stand.” (Both Matthew 12:25 and Luke 11:13 report the same remarks of Christ.)
The biblical source reminds us what power there is in the image of a house, in particular one whose unity is at risk. Oh, how Abrahan Lincoln used the image in his famous “one nation, indivisible” speech and later in the epic address at Gettysburg. He declaimed the union could not go forward, half slave, half free. The union itself was vested with power beyond that in any of its parts, including the power to deny secession.
Canada has had no Lincoln. However, the image of a house was also brought into popular play and usage in Quebec late in 1962 when Rene Levesque and a small group of (then) fellow Liberals came up with the campaign slogan which the Lesage government made famous in its re-election campaign: “maitres chez nous” or “masters in our own home.”
In Centennial year, after parting from the Liberals and while organizing the Parti Quebecois, Levesque said this: “The homeland is Quebec. As, mind you, it always was. From the very beginning, even when the discoverers and coureurs de bois were ranging over America, home was the St. Lawrence. The British conquest made it official and the last century wiped away what faint illusion might have remained of ever `belonging’ outside Quebec.”
As I interpret Lucien Bouchard and those in Quebec who back him, he and they are truly Levesque’s heirs in a deep, very proprietorial emotion for their homeland. The mightiest of Quebec projects consequent to the victory of “maitres chez nous” was the huge reach of the masters into the James Bay watershed (and the lands of the Cree) for the giant Hydro Quebec power project.
This imperial act surely created a grander image of their place in the minds of most Quebecois, one which went beyond the St. Lawrence heartland. All Quebec is theirs, and they would fight for it … or so I believe. And those like me who think of Quebec lands as also being ours feel uneasy contemplating such assurance.
In short, even the telling merits in favor of the Cree choosing Canada and severing their part of Quebec will need tactful, restrained negotiations so the good sense of the Quebecois prevails over their present belief that the political geography of Quebec is forever inviolate.
It is a very dicey issue.
Even Levesque, a modest man at heart, in stressing the economic resources to sustain an independent Quebec, would repetitiously note that Quebec would be the 16th largest country in the world and rank somewhere around 50th in terms of population.
This recurring dilemma of a house (or a land or a country or a nation) which becomes divisible is surely ours now and will remain so even if or when the majority of citizens of Quebec vote at some future time for independence. Why? Because the simple force of human logic insists Quebec too should be divisible if within it there are recognizable bodies of people who insist on their democratic right to self-determination.
What we should welcome is this: at last, after three decades of avoiding detailed argument about what happens when a majority in Quebec votes for independence, our politicians, led by Jean Chretien, are openly considering the proposition that if Canada may be divided to satisfy the will for national independence of an identifiable body of citizens who control the province of Quebec by their votes, so may Quebec be divided to meet the majority will of other identifiable bodies who want a different national identity.
At least four candidacies for departure back to Canada from a separated Quebec are already clamoring: the aforesaid Cree of vast Northern Quebec; the belligerent Mohawks of Oka and Caughnawaga; the clear majority of federalists in the Outouais; even an enclave of federalist anglophones, allophones and francophones in Montreal.
One has to be a pious fool not to appreciate that the rising demands of those who want out of Quebec are embittering the true believers of Levesque and Bouchard. There was a whiff of it from former premier Jacques Parizeau’s antagonism to the “ethnics” on referendum night. Such reactions can only be muted by a quick reversal by the Liberal government from the Chretien-Dion stance, and this seems most unlikely.
To me it now seems inexorable that organized federalism must pursue what’s being called Plan B or a second track. In short, to set or negotiate the legal arrangements which shall determine the course of possible separation, from the question, to the necessary margin of victory, to the negotiating process for the terms of separation. And to provide a means for those like the Cree to have their crack at self-determination.
My personal view is that the Cree, in particular, have an overwhelming case for choosing to stay in Canada with their traditional lands. Why them, more than the others? Because they are clearly in the majority in their own habitat, have their own continuing heritage in language and culture and have inherent rights within Canada which antedate the transfer of their territory to the province by the federal Parliament, most of it in 1898, the rest in 1912.
It is also my opinion that we federalists have a weak case for insisting at this stage there must be more than 50%, plus one, of those who vote for independence before the separation negotiations begin. We have accepted through two governments in Ottawa (Pierre Trudeau’s and Chretien’s), plus the tacit approval of the opposition parties in Parliament, that the two referendums that have been held on the issue were legitimate. In sporting terms, who respects a a team which insists there must be new rules for the next game it fears it will lose and not the rules under which it has already won twice?
We let the PQ proceed, or our federal leadership did, and were not stayed in any way by provincial premiers. We didn’t reject the rules or terms of the last referendum despite our outcries on the unfairness or duplicity in the question put. Surely we legitimized the vote and its gut premise of 50% plus one by formally taking part in the rules set for the votes by acts of Quebec’s National Assembly.
Let me explain why I am bold beyond my usual journalistic mode on a divided Canada. A bit is from being in World War II as a Canadian volunteer. The image in my head of the country from which we came was of one land and people from sea to sea, from the 49th parallel to the pole. I became an MP in 1957 and so a participant in Parliament when the issue of Canada’s divisibility first flowered in the early ’60s.
In a public debate in Montreal in 1964 with Levesque, then shaping to found the Parti Quebecois, I insisted that the lands of Quebec were as much mine as they were his – and vice versa, of course. This won me the vociferous backing of the huge crowd at the Notre Dame de Grace town hall, but an obdurate Levesque insisted the lands of Quebec belonged only to Quebecers and that he and his fellows wanted no part of ours.
My colleagues in the NDP and my friends in the Liberal and Conservative parties advised me to tread more softly or leave the matter alone. As a generalization, that’s what most of the active politicians have done ever since, shying away from getting every aspect of whether and how Canada should be divided out in the open and, if not settled, at least its diversity plumbed and appreciated.
There was, and remains, an immense capacity for emotion on the issue of land – almost as much as about language. As Quebec emerged from its sleep (as some put it) in the 1960s, the federal government was led by a most successful diplomat. Lester Pearson was versed on the dangers of nationalist emotion and the value of compromise. While he led in giving us our own flag, much to the delight of Quebec MPs, he also walked very softly on the issue of independence for Quebec which crystallized in its most potent form when Levesque launched the PQ.
For example, a controversy arose in Pearson’s first mandate, which I as an MP helped escalate, over the right of a federal employee, Dr. Marcel Chaput, to advocate separatism openly as a political aim.
Pearson’s responses confirmed what I was sure about from the deliberate downplaying by the Liberal governments of King and St. Laurent of the astounding Canadian achievements in the good cause of defeating the Nazis. Because Liberal control of Parliament rested most on winning the most federal seats in Quebec it was best not to twinge Quebecers’ sensitivities about pride in matters which would also recall the conscription crisis of 1944-45 or the proportionately small contribution in volunteers from Quebec to our wartime services.
DUCKED THE QUESTION
All right! I agree such a de-emphasis had a sensible rationale, even if it began to create a new image of Canadians as a people who loathed war and longed to be peacekeepers. But I saw then and insist today that the terrible questions of Canada divisible and Quebec divisible which we now face should not have been ducked so thoroughly. It is now too late to treat them carefully and with good time.
During Chaput’s antics I challenged Pearson that this public employee was advocating treason unless it was accepted government policy that Quebec had the free choice to leave Canada if it so wished. The prime minister said that Quebec would not leave Canada; of course not, but given Canada’s acceptance of the UN Charter right of a people to determine its own independence, there was nothing treasonable in Dr. Chaput’s behavior or in anyone else who advocated separation for Quebec.
Within a few years the House had its first declared separatist MP in Gilles Gregoire.
So, yes, Pearson as prime minister said Canada was divisible. A dozen years later (1977) his Liberal successor, Pierre Trudeau, even uttered in the House what we have now heard from Chretien and Stephane Dion, his new unity minister. If Canada is divisible, so is Quebec.
But neither Trudeau nor his successor, Brian Mulroney, nor Chretien, until last week, ever persisted with what should follow from Quebec being itself divisible. Who could leave? How could they leave? Under what standards or requirements for departure? What authority should oversee all this – Canadian? Quebecois? Global agency or court?
Meantime, what a Canadian may hope in all this may be out there and in the confidence of the younger generations – a Canada better than ever, after division. Why not!

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, February 02, 1996
ID: 11927418
TAG: 199602010140
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

CABINET STILL LEANS TO RIGHT

Jean Chretien has been daring in recruiting two francophone federalists in Quebec for his altered cabinet – Stephane Dion and Pierre Pettigrew – but unimaginative on other personnel, notably from Ontario and Quebec.
A point much circled by the media voices is whether it was reactionary to move Lloyd Axworthy, the alleged heart and soul, small “l” liberal minister, from responsibility for social programs to foreign affairs. Isn’t this proof right-wing views on spending and restraint, so popular in business and financial communities of Canada are in full control of the Liberals’ economic policies and directions?
My view is the question hardly needed asking. This cabinet in this mandate is not going to spend us out of recession and toward a much lower jobless rate through high cost programs, and this determination was made near certain in the last budget. Replacing Axworthy with Douglas Young, the tart, tough mind from New Brunswick, just underlines this. So does leaving the cautious, unimaginative John Manley in industry and giving him the added provenance of three regional economic undertakings.
Chretien has never been close to being a social democrat (like Axworthy) nor has Paul Martin at finance, Marcel Masse, now at treasury board, or Art Eggleton at international trade.
The only left bower in the cabinet still responsible for important domestic affairs may be Sheila Copps at heritage. But as Allan Fotheringham has said of her, she’s a hand grenade that may explode at any time over anything.
If this cabinet is ever to move leftwards, obviously it will be in more generous sharing with the provinces on health and social programs (including unemployment insurance) and an end to cuts in contributions to arts, culture, recreational and sporting programs, and/or an even larger “infrastructure” program than the one which was in the Red Book and featured in the first year of the mandate.
But don’t bet on it unless Canada is clearly into a deepening recession by late fall and with an unemployment rate again above 10%.
In particular, with Lucien Bouchard in power in Quebec City, Chretien’s Ottawa must be scrupulous in not being seen in the rest of Canada as trying either to give Quebec inordinate economic help or to cold-shoulder it while favoring other provinces.
HEAT AND FURY
One should add that if the proverbial “two nations” become locked within the “indivisible” debate led by Dion (and backed by Chretien) the heat and fury will push the course to stiff, mean positions only ended or surmounted by a Quebec or a federal referendum or even respective elections. Certainly, when the prize is the death or life of Canada, the distraction from any countrywide concern over jobs and opportunities will be minimal.
For want of clearer explanations why Chretien’s cabinet daring ended with Quebec, there’s been much aggressive self-pity in B.C. at not getting the fisheries portfolio, at not getting a Vancouver MP in the cabinet and by having to swallow two ministers of state who are obviously more for ethnic showcasing than for real politics. This seems very crass, given the obvious drive of the quite cavalier Hedy Fry, taking over from the bootless Sheila Finestone at maundering on Ottawa’s devotion to multiculturalism and feminism.
Since Pierre Trudeau became PM in 1968 Liberal cabinet representation from west of Ontario has not been rich and diverse. Today the four western provinces have a cabinet member each, as have much less populous Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and New Brunswick. The pity of such relatively slighter representation in the West will become more apparent as Chretien and his new voices in Quebec move to balance being tough in being indivisible with recognition of constitutional uniqueness for Quebec. The biggest hurdle is antagonism to this in Western Canada, not just within provincial governments but broadly in the populace.
Chretien hasn’t yet lost his conceit (as he has about himself and Quebec) of his own popular writ there. This may be still strong and durable, but I doubt it. The West will thrill to the idea Quebec itself is divisible but will it accept Dion’s insistence on constitutional recognition that Quebec is more than just another province?
Which brings us back to the crisis, created largely through the superb appeal in French Canada of Bouchard, a masterful, quick, witty thinker and debater. Neither the PM norministers like Martin or Allan Rock is able to take Bouchard head on and win through the force of personality or argument. This is so obvious. What we wait to discover, and should know before summer, is whether there’s anything close to a match for Bouchard in Dion and/or Pettigrew.
Leave us pray, and I do so wishing Dion didn’t remind me so much of a just departed failure from the political scene – Bob Rae.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, January 31, 1996
ID: 11927012
TAG: 199601300055
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

A CRAZY QUILT CHRETIEN CABINET

Last week Jean Chretien proved himself neither as cautious nor as pragmatic as he has long been heralded by journalists.
As witness to this shocking shift, it was simply heretical for post-Pearson, Liberal federalism to hear Stephane Dion, the most pivotal of the five new members of cabinet, just two days into his “unity” tasks, assert that Quebec – like Canada – is also divisible.
Just a few months ago we would have asked: what wild card is this? Now Dion’s blunt talk of divisibility has been followed in three days by the prime minister confirming Ottawa now has taken fully to the “Quebec too is divisible” line. This is an argument this Chretien watcher has never heard him dally with since his repeated effusions on Canada and Quebec began in 1965.
Chretien has changed strategy – in truth, he has taken Preston Manning’s lead – and is into some prospects or scenarios not only long discouraged by the Liberals but also not pursued by the two other parties of strength in Parliament from 1968-93, the Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats.
The daring which the appointment of Dion and of the other “brainy” fellow, Pierre Pettigrew, symbolizes did not run wide or deep – for example, not into Ontario and B.C. – nor did it go so far as to dump the dozen or so in the ministry who have been embarrassingly weak or incompetent. While neither the departed Roy MacLaren nor Andre Ouellet were huge assets in the cabinet they were far from its obvious duds.
Let me underline who wasn’t moved or excised and should have been.
David Collenette remains at defence, a role he has botched, and he has also been given responsibility in the government for Greater Toronto, whatever that means. Collenette is a likable chap – good, though far from electrifying, company. His core problem as a senior politician is being inarticulate. He is unable to present a cogent line of reasoning. He cannot even read a text competently. He demonstrated this over the weekend on the CPAC channel in a bumbling, fumbling address to military people on a topic he should have mastered two years ago – the policy problems in developing and sustaining “reserve” or militia forces.
WEAKEST MINISTER
Since the last election there have been half a dozen MPs behind Chretien who are quite literate on defence and foreign affairs issues, including two well-spoken ex-officers of high rank (an admiral and a brigadier) and two academics with distinction in their subject fields comparable to Dion, the fresh cutting edge for Quebec. Despite such choices Chretien leaves Collenette with defence plus Metro, literally a promotion for the toughest competition Michel Dupuy, Diane Marleau and Sheila Finestone had as his weakest minister.
What else did Chretien have for the most numerous provincial caucus in all parliamentary history? Another nice person, much like Collenette in both decency and awkwardness as a performer, Jane Stewart was one of the least offensive Ontario backbenchers. One supposes she is a replacement at the table for the departing trade minister, Roy MacLaren (gone to the U.K. to deprive former senator Royce Frith of the role he’d spent a Liberal lifetime preparing for).
Beyond Collenette four other cabinet members from Ontario were left in place – Herb Gray (House leader), Allan Rock (justice), Ron Irwin (Indian affairs) and John Manley (industry) – and four were shuffled – Sheila Copps to succeed the lamentable Dupuy in the fields of arts, culture and communications, Art Eggleton to take up MacLaren’s chores in international trade, Sergio Marchi to transfer his bombast from the marvels of ethnicity and immigration to saving the environment and Marleau from exposed, guileless ineptitude at health to the less queried but sometimes sticky patronage portfolio of public works.
It is baffling that a PM ready, figuratively, to roll the dice with two fascinating, opinionated long shots like Dion and Pettigrew, and who has 80 other MPs from Ontario than those presently in his cabinet to choose from should give so little encouragement to the bedrock of his parliamentary majority. He left Ontario’s two mere ministers of “state” alone – Christine Stewart and Doug Peters.
One surmises that Chretien is convinced in his own mind (and most likely by his familiar handlers from Quebec) that the Ontario composition of his cabinet, even less than B.C.’s, is not a danger he needs to fear in the next 18 months to two years. In short, tough out Lucien Bouchard and Ontario voters will be there!
Next column, on Friday, I’ll look at cabinet’s balance between left and right and the probabilities that either Dion or Pettigrew can compete head-on with Premier Bouchard for the hearts and minds of the Quebecois.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, January 28, 1996
ID: 11926422
TAG: 199601260189
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C7
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

FAIRNESS FALLS VICTIM TO VAMPIRE JOURNALISM

The blood lust of some journalists toward the Mulroney ministry, now three years out of office, is truly remarkable. Like certain RCMP investigators, they are convinced that the previous government was riven with criminal conspiracies just waiting to be exposed.
Alas, for both the media hounds and the gumshoes following in their footsteps, solid evidence has been hard to come by.
In the wake of the recent Airbus flap there seemed reason to hope that some soul-searching was going on, if not at RCMP headquarters, then at least at the CBC. Given the consensus in the Ottawa press gallery that the Mounties overstepped the mark with criminal allegations against the former prime minister, the public broadcaster stopped boasting in its newscasts that the investigation was rooted in a story by its fifth estate program. Such second thoughts did not extend to that show’s producers. As their colleagues at The National moved on to query the “evidence” for the police investigation and the suspicious ignorance of the present ministry regarding it, those toiling at the fifth estate continued to pursue the dreaded Mulroneyites, with another story about crooked airplane deals. It ran last week.
Like the Airbus opus, this story employed techniques borrowed from the latest in U.S. TV journalism (ie. Hard Copy and A Current Affair) – promotional teasers promising more than would be delivered, and tacky “re-enactments” featuring stuffed envelopes being passed around.
Little was presented that had not appeared earlier in newspaper reports: investigations in the Bahamas reveal that in 1991 de Havilland Aircraft of Downsview apparently channelled secret “commissions” to middlemen and Bahamian politicians to secure a sale to the state airline.
Nothing indicates that the Canadian government knew of the alleged bribes.
Blessed with a keen nose for political scandal however, the fifth estate found one in the circumstances surrounding the financing of the sale by the Export Development Corporation. At the time the Crown agency reported to Tory trade minister John Crosbie. Crosbie intervened in the EDC’s financing negotiations on behalf of fellow Newfoundlander Craig Dobbin, who had previously leased the airline the same sort of aircraft de Havilland sought to sell it. Dobbin was suing Bahamasair over unpaid bills, and Crosbie insisted that this outstanding dispute be resolved before the Crown corporation provided any cash for the de Havilland sale.
Using this financing as leverage, a deal was struck: the airline bought fewer new aircraft from de Havilland than originally planned, while purchasing two used aircraft from Dobbin to settle their debt. The EDC financed both deals.
But EDC policy is to finance sales of new goods to foreign buyers – not used goods such as Dobbin’s aircraft.
In a heated on-camera exchange, Crosbie justified his intervention on the grounds that he was protecting the interests of a Canadian business from unfair treatment by a foreign firm. It would have been improper for him to stand by and allow the EDC’s financing of de Havilland’s original deal with Bahamasair to go ahead, as this would have relieved pressure on it to settle with Dobbin. So while his intervention may have gone against the letter of EDC policy, it was in keeping with the broader goals of the corporation and the government: assisting Canadian firms in securing foreign business and having their contracts honored. Non-intervention would have harmed a successful business providing jobs to a depressed part of the country.
Surely here legitimate grounds existed to at least question slavish adherence to “policy.” This might have been the starting point for an examination of the need for flexibility in government, including what role a minister can legitimately play in responding to situations not foreseen in policy papers. But this was not the tack taken by the show’s vampire killers.
No, here was another scandal – special deals for friends of the Tories. Crosbie knew Dobbin well (the Rock is a small place). As the interviewer kept insinuating, could Crosbie not see how his actions as minister and subsequent post-politics appointment to the board of Dobbin’s company creates the impression that his intervention was a special favor to a “friend.”
Clearly implied was that while Crosbie might have been justified in overruling his bureaucrats (and the policy) if someone unknown to him had been involved, his prior acquaintance with Dobbin meant that the latter should have been left out in the cold, along with his company, its employees and creditors.
On leaving government Crosbie should also have desisted from any further association with businesses he dealt with as a minister. As the former politician angrily asked, just where would his inquisitor have him look for employment, given how long and wide ranging his career was?

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, January 26, 1996
ID: 11925806
TAG: 199601250171
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THE MEDIA’S RAE DAZE

Ontario politics, often the butt of jokes for its relative quiescence, has recently provided better sport than Ottawa, given the do-nothing Liberal government here and the radical new team in Queen’s Park. Moreover, recent events on the provincial scene have provided food for thought about the nature of politics and political commentary in the province.
Perhaps you were as struck as I by the glowing tributes paid to Bob Rae as he took his leave of the political arena. These bouquets seemed overdone, not only because of his government’s dismal record, but also due to their propinquity to his forced removal from office. While a generosity of spirit usually attends such events, this hardly accounts for the collective amnesia revealed in the eulogies.
Richard Gwyn had not even finished saying goodbye before he was calling on Prime Minister Jean Chretien to take advantage of this giant of Canadian politics, suggesting a role for Rae in a national unity government to respond to the constitutional crisis, alongside other retreads like Don Mazankowski. (What contempt for the will of the people.) One suspects Rae has a lengthy and profitable career ahead of him playing to the conscience of the liberal elite, following in the footsteps of Ed Broadbent and Stephen Lewis.
Why is the media’s judgment of Rae so different from that of the voters, who can’t forget his sins? Rae perfectly fits their idealized model of what a political leader should be: intelligent, well-educated, eloquent, witty, yet modest and self-deprecating, thoughtful, unaggressive and, most importantly, decent.
I do not dispute that he possesses all of these qualities. They are most estimable in a teacher or a clergyman. For a politician like Rae, however, the last two traits can be severe handicaps. In politics, as in most of life’s endeavors, the proof is in the pudding, and the province’s first socialist premier cooked up one awful mess.
Consider the various excuses made to absolve Rae of responsibility for his government’s failings. He was undermined by an inexperienced cabinet. He was undone by various interest groups, which, having supported the NDP, came to view his accidental election victory as their own, forcing their agendas on his government. Or he was undone by radicals within his party and the labor movement who could not see the broader public interest behind the social contract.
FOUND WANTING
What is a leader for if not to handle such challenges – they are the measure of the man (or woman). In each instance Rae was found wanting. If he did not control the factions within his party, who is to blame? If his cabinet was filled with loose cannons and empty heads, who chose them? If they lacked experience, who had the necessary background and authority to give them guidance?
Consider his performance in contrast to another recently departed pol: Francois Mitterrand. The tributes marking his passing herald achievements to be remembered (architectural and cultural landmarks, closer relations not only with Germany but, surprisingly, the U.S.). Rae’s legacy? Labor laws which lacked public support and are soon to disappear. An immense debt fuelled by a foolish attempt to spend Ontario out of a recession, following on four years of steep spending increases under the Liberals.
Here he parallels Mitterrand, who also behaved like a doctrinaire socialist in his first year, bucking the conventional G7 wisdom with massive increases in spending. He reigned it in after doing serious damage to the French economy. Like Rae, Mitterrand left it to his successor to implement real restraint. Mitterrand stands out in his political skill, his machiavellian talent for staying on top. In his first years in office he co-opted the communists, the threat on his left, effectively destroying a once powerful party. He then shifted right, supplanting the Gaullists. All the while keeping a stranglehold on his party, brooking no opposition. Rae proved to lack both the mental agility and character necessary for such stratagems. He ended up failing his own leadership, his party and his province.
What would the Rae fan club make of a modern day Mackenzie King? His communing with his dead mother and fondness for ladies of the evening would rule him out of consideration for public office. Canadians of the day, with only his performance as PM to judge, found him a superior leader.
While considering Rae’s failings I am also reminded of the brilliant portrait of U.S. President Lyndon Johnson painted by author Robert Caro. In many ways Johnson was a reptilian character – but in his cynical, sometimes brutal manner he got things done in Washington, passing more of the Democrats’ liberal reforms than the much more subtle, socially acceptable Kennedys ever could. I wonder what Richard Gwyn thinks of him.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, January 24, 1996
ID: 11925371
TAG: 199601230101
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

MANLEY’S NO DUD SAY HIS DEFENDERS

The first real shifts in the Chretien ministry, now 26 months old, is a fine time to look at the informal but quite substantial measuring of ministerial performances. One push on me to do so came from the reaction of a friend and admirer of one Chretien minister (John Manley, industry) to my suggestions the PM should drop him as ineffective and replace him with a man or woman with more ideas, persuasiveness and personality.
The gist of the strong defence of Manley, an Ottawa lawyer in his 40s, now with seven years’ House experience, goes like this: he is a serious, careful, sound, responsible, industrious man who has never “popped off” extravagantly or pumped out the tired shibboleths of partisanship; in opposition or as a minister he has been courteous and direct in his assertions and responses, without hyperbole in a role that would suffer with such behavior, particularly in a senior economic portfolio of a government trying to get control of deficits and restrain spending by cutting funding for private enterprises.
The friend charged that my whole case for industry being in the doldrums under Manley really rested on the media’s obsession (which I share) with how ministers handle themselves in the question period. What did I know of the contributions in ideas and criticisms which Manley has been making in the key forums or meetings for ministers?
These are not in the open House, not even in the open, more leisurely parliamentary committee hearings, or at press conferences announcing departmental affairs, or in speeches to major interest groups. They are in the secrecy (traditional) of full cabinet, or in particular committees of cabinet, or in the party caucus, or in regional or subject groups from the caucus. Further, journalists are never privy to the day-to-day relations between the minister of a major department like industry with its senior officials and with other mandarins, say of finance and heritage, on issues for planning or legislation or spending.
The defender went on to assert that his “sources” within the senior bureaucracy, in particular in finance, the Privy Council and the PMO have indicated that Manley is much appreciated for his sound judgment and thorough mastery of his briefs. He went further, arguing that Manley and two other “economic” ministers – Paul Martin in finance and Roy MacLaren in trade – match up with the line of responsible behavior by ministers which has long been advocated by Mitchell Sharp and was accepted openly by his protege, Jean Chretien, when he formed his government.
DEEP REDUCTIONS
For example, there were deep reductions in the big ministerial “exempt” staffs built up in the Mulroney years. Ministers should get back to the practices in federal Ottawa’s Golden Age when deputy ministers managed their departments and brought plans through the mandarinate to the minister and then to cabinet for discussion and decision. Of course, instructions for working up such plans might come through the minister or the PMO and be based on the party’s electoral platform. (See Red Book!)
So what I’d described in the minister I saw, particulary in question period, as dull, slow and taciturn, he knew from from his own years as careful, sound and positive. He cited a particular example of Manley’s refusal to run with superlatives with the “information highway” razzmatazz; rather he’s kept a sense of modest proportions while encouraging his officials and experts to plan and forward every measure of bearable cost which will keep Canada both on the highway and building it. Furthermore, major people in private industry regard him highly.
Very well! What this supporter of Manley as an effective, efficient minister says about most of his vital work and time being private from reporters is true.
My defence of my estimate of Manley as rather a dud minister begins with what he does say and how he says it in the open. It’s true he is a modest man and, certainly, he’s not a phrase-maker, a coiner of brief, bright conceptions which catch citizens’ imaginations or challenge their thinking or values. But, like a lot of my colleagues, I probe around the private places of a minister’s work, talk to both government and opposition MPs and get the stock opinion: decent guy but not really a politician; rather a competent business lawyer.
Manley is not seen within the Grit caucus as either a dominant figure in the capital region or Eastern Ontario, his bailiwick, and absolutely not in Ontario. My few sources within the department, all at middle level, tell me theirs is a department dominated by permanent officials, not the minister, and they know of no particular ideas or vision or program Manley has put in the mix.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, January 21, 1996
ID: 11924763
TAG: 199601190136
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C5
ILLUSTRATION: graphic
FORMER PM JOHN TURNER
Abandoned fellow Liberals who opposed Canadian participation.
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

NOT CANADA’S FINEST HOUR//REFLECTIONS ON THE GULF WAR, FIVE YEARS LATER

Anniversaries are for reflection … to learn from the past. The fifth anniversary of the allied offensive in the Gulf war has generated much introspection south of us in a plethora of U.S. op-ed pieces and television specials.
In our peaceable kingdom, however, little notice was given to this milestone, which is both curious and illuminating.
Curious because a week ago, while scanning clippings on the war, I was struck by the scenario they presented of a Canada gripped by crisis. Canada with its puny military contingent had far less at stake than the U.S., yet fretted over its role. Millions of words were given to the rights or wrongs of military action and what it might portend.
In the House of Commons NDP and Liberal MPs tearfully warned that Canadians would come to hang their heads in shame for sacrificing their young for that basest of commodities – oil.
Politically the high point was John Turner’s speech. The recently deposed Grit leader eloquently and devastatingly attacked his own party’s wishy-washy stand opposing the move to forceably evict Saddam from Kuwait. His support for the Mulroney government and war left Jean Chretien badly shaken, as many Liberal backbenchers clearly felt Turner’s stand was more in keeping with the legacy of King, St. Laurent and Pearson.
Lest we forget the media’s angst, there were editorials and columns titled “Why we must fight,” “Canada goes to War” and “Blood for Oil.” This was serious business.
But was it? If so, why today’s silence?
The Gulf war was not Canada’s finest hour. Hypocrisy reigned. Despite sending ships, aircraft and thousands of personnel at the cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, our forces did virtually no fighting once the balloon went up. This was no accident. Our politicans (and according to my sources, even some senior officers) had no stomach for it. Why the bluster? What was all the anguish all about?
For all the talk of standing firm with the world community in resisting aggression, our government’s real concern was the optics: that Canada be seen as one of the gang and not be branded a shirker. Our memberships in various exclusive clubs (the G7, NATO etc.) have their privileges but, alas, also their dues.
In the Gulf we were expected to ante up, and in theory we did. We went and were seen. Yet we did not suffer any casualties or likely inflict any. Topping it off, we won – surely the perfect “war.” But duping our closest friends and allies who did all the killing and dying for us is not something we can openly boast about. (In fact, they weren’t fooled – as off-the-record comments by allied commanders indicate.)
Today we act as if the war had never happened. It did, and its fallout has been significant, though not exactly as predicted. Those who then worried that the war would encourage an arrogant America to militarily impose a self-serving “new world order” now lament that isolationist sentiment has taken hold in the world’s only real superpower, and deplore it’s reluctance to become involved on the ground in the former Yugoslavia, where Canada rushed in.
A different sort of isolationism has taken root here, as Canada continues to distance herself from her traditional allies and roles as she did during the Gulf war: witness the closure of our European bases, our opposition to the use of force in Bosnia and the paring of our armed forces to where Canada is capable of little more than an internationalist constabulary role.
Our refusal to participate in the messy business of killing in the Gulf was a signpost for the future.
Things did not turned out as the U.S. would have liked (Saddam Hussein is still with us), but at least it tried. The neutering of Iraq created the conditions – as some at the time predicted – for a wider peace between Israel and her Arab neighbors.
As is so often the case, the best justification for the war came to light in its wake: it forestalled the Iraqi leader’s attempts to acquire weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them. Had the world waited for sanctions to force him out of Kuwait, as the NDP and Liberals urged, he would now in all probability have nuclear weapons.
Saddam’s continuing resistance to UN directives after five years of sanctions and much suffering by the Iraqi people shows how ridiculously optimistic these critics of war were.
A final note: despite America’s hi-tech gear, including spy satellites, the West had no real inkling of the extent of Iraq’s nuclear, chemical and biological programs until it was subjugated. It does make one wonder what other hidden terrors await the world community.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, January 19, 1996
ID: 11924265
TAG: 199601180195
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

LEAN TIMES IN FAT CITY

No longer does the tag of Fat City fit Ottawa. A thinning of the capital is well along the way. One finds it in both the general community psyche and jobs gone or going.
A still vague but really quite wide sense of being unappreciated has been taking shape in the capital, some of it a reaction to both BQ and Reform MPs. Despite contrasting credos they share a harshness toward Ottawa, preferring to be out of it as much as possible. This in part explains the husk that is the Hill. It’s no longer a busy, positive, social place with a core of camaraderie. The buildings are dark at night, closed on weekends and without any feeling of being used for great matters, except for the stagy 45 minutes of question period on the days the House sits. A manager tells me use of the parliamentary cafeterias and dining room has fallen two-thirds in the past three years.
Ottawans never cared much that most Canadians don’t cherish their place, either as a city community or the seat of Parliament or the bureaucratic centre of the federation – or even as the showplace for national pride with its museums, galleries, concert halls, gardens, parks and waterways. If I’m typical of Ottawans, such indifference or antagonism didn’t get in the way of our enjoyment of the facilities and services in the most prosperous, best-educated community in the land.
This week the city is empty of major politicos. The PM and a cast of premiers is newsmaking abroad. Lucien Bouchard, the talented nemesis of Confederation, is just away to Quebec City with his tidy MP’s pension. Despite a dearth of speeches, conferences and big reports there has been a splash – an epochal local event in entertainment and recreation. A splendid new arena has just been opened on the capital’s western rim by the owners of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators.
The fine quality and high costs of the Palladium lead one into the overall Ottawa-Hull dilemmas – notably the bleak prospects for growth and the now uncertain future of the federation that has been Ottawa’s raison d’etre.
Taking pride in the great arena has been profusely present but in the talk one usually finds the pride is laced with doubts. Can the Ottawa of a debt/deficit-conscious government sustain such grandeur?
GATHERING GLOOM
As a resident of Ottawa for 38 years, much of the time roosting on Parliament Hill, I have sensed a foundering confidence in the capital region that began to ferment as the realization hit home that the ’93 election had installed a House hostile toward Ottawa, the Fat City. This phenomenon became clearer among both citizens and most of the diverse interests in the city after Paul Martin’s last budget detailed such ominous figures for restraint in spending and cuts in jobs. Thus, there was gathering gloom before the Quebec referendum result came and cracked the eternal prospects of the capital.
An exception, evident in a retained boosterism, is the covey of “Silicon Valley North” enterprises in the region. It’s now popular wisdom that the permanent leasing of box suites is the revenue backbone for modern palaces of sport and entertainment, followed by an imperative that some two-thirds of the seats, say for hockey, are taken up by season’s ticket buyers. Most of the suites at Ottawa’s Palladium have been taken up by the various silicon outfits, but the franchise is several thousand short on its season’s ticket base, perhaps because the team is so feeble, perhaps because belts are tightening. The poor team iced by the Palladium’s proprietors, after three years of trying, underlines the risk in building such a magnificent arena in a market turned grim and modest in its population numbers.
Below the chorus of admiration for the arena I keep hearing murmurs of doubt. Have enough Ottawans and the valley people the disposable income now for such costly seats and services? Over the past three years almost every federal service that entertains and educates has instituted user fees. The National Arts Centre is in financial trouble. The CBC HQ is being dismantled. There are a lot of jobless in Ottawa-Hull. House prices have been skidding and foreclosures rising. There’s a glut of unused office and commercial space.
If some skepticism comes from hockey fans appalled at the contrast of the arena’s finery with the team’s abysmal quality, a lot more stems from a grudging acceptance that expanding budgets and payrolls are over for the federal, provincial and municipal governments – maybe not forever, but for a decade or more.
In closing, let me make clear the “downer” in Ottawa-Hull is shared by both language groups. If anything, the Outouais folk are more fretful than those on the Ontario side of the river. And as yet no local, political savior has emerged. It is a longshot, but the hi-tech industries’ expansions may save the place – or cushion its fall.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, January 17, 1996
ID: 11923774
TAG: 199601160079
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

MULTICULTURALISM FOSTERS STAR WARS

Ironies, even small ones, delight me more than joke humor. So I’ve been grinning over the contrary views in the Toronto Star of the paper’s premier columnist, Richard Gwyn, and the top advocate for the multicultural industry, Andrew Cardozo.
Gwyn has become severe about multiculturalism, finding its programs redundant and deserving the axe, although the Liberals who initiated them won’t formally kill them.
The Star columnist believes the industry has weakened unity in Canada and buried common denominators in values and heritage. With every ethnicity and its culture being of equal worth in Canada we’ve a kaleidiscope of relativism at the cost of a broad, common stock of beliefs. Take a moot example, the Chinese, now our fastest growing ethnicity. Like so many others, the Chinese heritage is without democratic experience or anything like a parliamentary system of government which developed as a British heritage.
Of course, editorially the Star, to a degree as an adjunct of the federal Liberal party, has strongly promoted multiculturalism. Among papers it’s almost held the patent on it.
Early in the 1970s a Thatcher Liberal in Saskatchewan jeered at the federal party’s multicultural zealousness as a policy designed in Toronto to ensure Grits held all the ridings along the Bathurst-Yonge axis. It was also a policy that complemented the Star’s circulation aims.
On the Prairies ethnics were not called ethnics. Many not from the U.K. came to farm and to build the West even before World War I. Westerners, as John Diefenbaker insisted, disliked hyphenated Canadianism. To them the Liberal enthusiasm for every ethnicity under the sun was a scam. So was touting Canada as a global exemplar of harmony in diversity.
Of course, in Ottawa and Toronto the policy was seen as a fit with the opening in the late 1960s of immigration to Canada from all parts of the world. This was engineered by Tom Kent, Liberal thinker and senior adviser to then-PM Mike Pearson. The new immigration policy was color-blind and, by and large, indifferent to country of origin or language spoken. Kent wanted to change the face of Ontario, and particularly the domination of Toronto by the Orange order and those of Anglo-Saxon stock. These aims suited the Honderich Star.
FEDERALLY FUNDED
In 1972 Pierre Trudeau appointed the first minister for multiculturalism, a Toronto MP of Polish stock, and the federally funded industry was on its way.
Aside from what multiculturalism would do to bolster the new immigrants and allay critics, it was also argued by Liberal insiders that it took the edge off the bite felt by many Canadians whose origins were in neither of “the two founding peoples” over the bilingual and bicultural programs developed after the Bi and Bi commission reports of the mid-1960s.
On Jan. 4 the Star ran a long piece by Cardozo, titled “A scapegoat called multiculturalism” which castigated Gwyn for bringing together in his new book all the anti-multiculture stuff that others (like me, William Gairdner and Diane Francis) have parroted while harking back to an ideal, fair, simpler Canada. As Cardozo sees it, there never really was such a Canada. In any case the old Canada has given way to a fascinating, pluralistic, multicultural society.
The multicultural policy and programs of the federal government have been said by some critics – now Gwyn among them – to have sapped what was once a rather solid unity based on shared experiences such as pushing across a continent and partaking hugely in two world wars, creating shared values and aims, particularly among English-speaking Canadians. These have had to give way or been subsumed through the insistence of multicultural advocates like Cardozo, usually financed by Ottawa, that the heritage of each ethnic group or interest in Canada is of equal value and the essence of modern Canada is not “two nations” but many ethnicities and cultures. Canada as a glorious, global replica in miniature!
The irony I relish most in Gwyn vs. Cardozo is in their parallels. Each was an immigrant to Canada. Each in a way was a sprig from the old British Empire and its hegemony in Asia’s sub-continent. Gwyn’s father was an Indian Army hero in the terrible retreat from Burma in early 1942. (The columnist also became a British officer.)
Cardozo was born in Karachi shortly after India was split and Pakistan created (both remaining in the Commonwealth). He began his work in the multicultural industry on graduating from York in 1980.
May the Gwyn-Cardozo arguments go on in the Star. Gwyn’s doing well. Some day I may even enjoy the best in irony – a Honderich admitting multiculturalism was worse than a bust.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, January 14, 1996
ID: 11923159
TAG: 199601120080
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C6
ILLUSTRATION: photo by Fred Thornhill
Fisher says Paul Martin (with PM Chretien) should keep his job as Minister of Finance.
COLUMN: Backgrounder
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

EVALUATING THE LIBERAL CABINET//HOW OUR MAN ON THE HILL WOULD COMPLETELY REVAMP THE CHRETIEN MINISTRY

This argument for a stronger federal ministry reminds me that some 33 years ago a new MP, Jean Chretien, asked me for advice on how to get ahead. Subsequently, he took some of it. He is far less likely to take these prescriptions but the message may have a slight influence on his coming ministerial shakeup.
Major changes are imperative – new ministers, many exits, several shifts – and not just with Lucien Bouchard and Quebec in mind.
Despite a large backbench sugared with talent, particularly from the ’93 election, it was clear early in this regime that preferring loyalists and seniority had wrought a ministry seriously short in ability and drive, most notably in those from Ontario and the two most westerly provinces.
For sensible appraisal you need the list of ministers, their tasks, an estimate of their proven worth (from 1 to 10) and my picks of those who should be dropped or switched or retained where they are. The list goes by province, from west to east, covering the present cabinet cast of 22 plus the nine mere “secretaries of state.” There is a cabinet vacancy at fisheries with Brian Tobin gone to local glory in Newfoundland.
My suggested exits from the ministry total 12, nine from the cabinet and three of the “state” ministers. If the PM chooses not to reduce his ministry, following my suggestions he would name a dozen new ministers, three “state” ministers and nine cabinet ministers.
This would be the largest infusion into a federal ministry since Pierre Trudeau created eight new ministers in 1976 (and followed with two more within eight months). The boggling for Chretien is not over a scarcity of talent to draw upon. Some of it will be a reluctance to give up so many ministers who now know their portfolios, an argument dwarfed by the reality that so many who should be and could be dropped have done so little with them.
Examples? Try Sheila Copps, John Manley, David Collenette, Diane Marleau, Michel Dupuy, David Anderson and Sergio Marchi.
The other two I recommend for dropping – Lloyd Axworthy and Andre Ouellet – are very old hands and need a rest or a different challenge rather than a total retirement from public life.
It’s true that a wholesale dropping now means both saying awkward goodbyes and finding a few face-saving slots in the Senate or in embassies or at agencies for Chretien loyalists like Marchi and Collenette. But we have examples of ministers dropped to the backbenches who worked their way back – e.g., Herb Gray.
The payoff for a large infusion and some switches to greater responsibilities (e.g., Allan Rock and Doug Young) is a cabinet with a sense of mission, more members with grand ideas and stronger public personalities. And this brings me to my recommended ministry.
It would have Paul Martin, Jr., Herb Gray, and Marcel Masse keep their significant roles at finance, House leadership, and intergovernmental relations respectively. Joyce Fairbairn’s fine as Senate leader and the trio of Ralph Goodale (agriculture), Art Eggleton (treasury board) and Roy MacLaren (trade) have been fair, consistent performers. After excessive schmoozing, Ron Irwin at Indian affairs has got down to tightening policies and spending for natives after learning that the chiefs want the sun and the moon.
At transport, Doug Young has had a charmed run while fronting for huge changes. He should be given a ministry like industry that’s in the doldrums or, better, given the lead chore at being candid to Quebecers about post-separation Canada.
Two women ministers who haven’t smudged their promise, Ann McLellan at natural resources and Lucienne Robillard (labor) could do well respectively in justice and environment. Allan Rock merits a chance to prove he’s more than just another articulate lawyer, say at transport.
But it’s the new faces for the ministry that are most important. My appraisal of the Grit backbench has looked for a bent to clear personality and a readiness to pursue new ideas openly. Admitttedly, such qualities often bring risks.
Let me give six examples of Grit MPs, each of whom has been discounted around the Hill as too vivid a “character” or too opinionated. First, three parliamentary secretaries: Patrick Gagnon (Quebec); Dennis Mills (Ontario); and Hedy Fry (B.C.). For similar strengths take plain MPs John Bryden (Ontario), George Baker (Newfoundland) and David Kilgour (Alberta), now deputy Speaker. Putting those six at the cabinet table would bring jolts of energy and fresh thinking.
But there are many more MPs of greater promise as ministers than the lot which ought to be dropped. Wayne Easter (P.E.I.) articulates farm and food issues wonderfully well. Half a dozen MPs would do well in defence or foreign affairs – Admiral Mifflin, John English, David Walker, Jesse Flis, Bill Graham.
The cabinet badly needs a thoughtful, direct woman and MPs tell me the most effective in caucus has been Bonnie Brown (Ontario).
Chretien has a score of Quebec MPs and four of the best are not in the cabinet and should be: the aforementioned Patrick Gagnon, Mark Assad, Clifford Lincoln, and Alfonse Gagliano. Maritime ministers Dave Dingwall and Doug Young could use the wisdom of Russ MacLellan (Nova Scotia) and the zip of Paul Zed (New Brunswick).
Alberta sorely needs a pushy protagonist and the best bet is David Kilgour, grump though he may be. B.C. must have better and the choices are clearly one or two of a diverse trio: Hedy Fry, Harb Dhaliwal or Ted McWhinney.
Ontario’s large cabinet cast is the most uninspiring, not a natural leader in the lot. They’re more like mourners at a wake than positive politicians with worthwhile things to say and pursue. For better prospects, why not try Mills and Bryden and Brown or ambitious MPs such as Bob Nault, Joe Fontana, Susan Whelan and Peter Milliken?
There are so many good prospects that listing a tentative ministry becomes an inordinate run on space.
To summarize, Chretien has abounding talent for a score of fresh ministers and a revitalized, purposeful crew. He needs this, not just because he’s showing wear and tear, but his ministry must take on Lucien Bouchard, get the economy rolling, and give the West some new voices in Ottawa. And, as it’s constituted, it cannot.
NAME AND PROVINCE TASK MERIT WHAT TO DO
BRITISH COLUMBIA
David Anderson Revenue 3 Drop
Ray Chan (State) Asia-Pacific 5 Hold
ALBERTA
Ann McLelllan Natural Resources 6 Switch
Joyce Fairbairn Senate leader 6 Hold
SASKATCHEWAN
Ralph Goodale Agriculture 7 Hold
MANITOBA
Lloyd Axworthy Human Resources 5 Drop
Jon Gerrard (State) Science 4 Drop
ONTARIO
Herb Gray House Leader 7 Hold
Dave Collenette Defense 3 Drop
Roy MacLaren Trade 6 Hold
Ron Irwin Indians 5 Hold
Sheila Copps Environment;D/PM 3 Drop
Sergio Marchi Cit. & Immigration 4 Drop
John Manley Industry 4 Drop
Diane Marleau Health 3 Drop
Art Eggleton Treasury Bd 6 Hold
ONTARIO
Allan Rock Justice 5 Switch
Christine Stewart (State;Africa) 6 Switch
Douglas Peters (State;Finance) 6 Switch
QUEBEC
Andre Ouellet Foreign Affairs 5 Drop
Paul Martin Finance 8 Hold
Michel Dupuy Heritage 2 Drop
Marcel Masse Intergovt. Affairs 7 Hold
Lucienne Robillard Labour 5 Switch
Sheila Finestone (State: Multicult) 4 Drop
Alfonso Gagliano (State: Dpty House) 6 Switch
NEW BRUNSWICK
Douglas Young Transport 8 Switch
Ferd Robichaud (State: Agriculture) 5 Drop
NOVA SCOTIA
Dave Dingwall Public Works 6 Switch
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
Larry MacAulay (State: Veterans) 6 Hold
NORTHWEST TERRITORIES
Ethel Blondin-Andrew (State: Training) 6 Switch

KEYWORDS: REPORT CARD; FEDERAL GOVERNMENT; CABINET

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, January 12, 1996
ID: 11922668
TAG: 199601110168
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

THE DISTURBING SOUNDS OF SILENCE

Imagine this: the scene is Washington, D.C. Reports indicate a former politician is being investigated for accepting bribes from a foreign multinational to assure the purchase of … something … by a federal agency.
The FBI (via the justice department) has asked a foreign government to open bank accounts and turn over private financial records it believes are related to this criminal “plot/conspiracy” to defraud the U.S. government. Given that the leaks have all but named him, former president George Bush acknowledges he is the target of this investigation.
Bush notes that his offer to discuss these matters with the justice department was rejected, and he announces a libel suit. Subsequently a translation of the justice department’s request surfaces which indicates the FBI’s assertions are based on a 60 Minutes’ report and allegations made by unnamed but “knowledgeable sources.”
The FBI urged the foreign government to accede to the U.S. request because the investigation of the former head of state is “particularly sensitive and important” to the administration.
Attorney General Janet Reno claims she knew nothing of the investigation or the request made by her department to the foreign government. However, when confronted by a reporter she acknowledges that on assuming office she was approached by someone with allegations against the Bush administration, which she passed on to the FBI.
Reno refuses to divulge her source. (Scuttlebutt says it was a journalist critical of Bush). Reno admits she doesn’t know if these allegations were ever investigated, cannot recall what they were about, and insists they are not related to the current investigation. She asserts her ignorance of these matters is proper, and shows no partisan bias influenced her department’s actions. While Reno has nothing further to say, her officials are more voluble – off the record – claiming the Bush administration interfered with their investigations of graft, in contrast to the free reign given by the Clinton regime.
IMAGINE THE FALLOUT
Now imagine the likely fallout from all this.
To start, CBS, from its chairman down to the 60 Minutes crew, would immediately protest, pointing out what millions of viewers already know: that its program presented no evidence against the former president. Its lawyers would assess what action might be taken against the government for misrepresenting the story to an unsuspecting foreign power.
U.S. civil libertarians, while not fans of George Bush, nevertheless would condemn the government’s actions, reminding Americans they must fight to maintain their cherished constitutional right to due process in the face of such “fishing” expeditions by an intrusive state. On the airwaves legal eagles would debate this and what constitutes reasonable grounds for asserting criminal conspiracy.
The attorney general would be the centre of a political storm. The Senate judiciary committee would have her and the justice department on the carpet for treating the reputation of a former president so lightly. The ignorance is bliss defence would not save her, nor would the notion she can absolve herself of the responsibility for ensuring her department’s high investigative standards are maintained in such a sensitive case. The idea that a few cops and lawyers can gun for a former president without any sort of political oversight would be roundly condemned, even by Democrats.
President Bill Clinton would flee from his errant cabinet member lest he and his White House staff be forced to appear to answer those all-too-familiar questions: what did you know and when did you know it? Even so, the claims of ignorance would all be hotly challenged by the Republicans.
The names of those who brought allegations against Bush would quickly come out, and they would have to put up or shut up. Officials of the justice department and FBI would also be called before the committee to account for their actions, all under TV’s scrutiny.
In the real world, in Canada, there is this Airbus affair.
Has the CBC angrily denounced the RCMP’s distortion of the 5th estate story which mooted a Brian Mulroney link to a Swiss bank account? Are our politicians demanding the names of those accusing the former PM of crimes? Are they asking who in the government knew what when?
In most countries an affair like this would set off a series of political explosions. Here there is the sound of silence: from the government, the opposition, civil libertarians and, most distressing of all, from a flaccid media. Is this simply a consequence of Mulroney’s massive unpopularity? Must one have friends in the House and the media before such basic questions are deemed worth answers?

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, January 10, 1996
ID: 11922320
TAG: 199601090130
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

AMERICA’S WOES DON’T MIRROR OURS

If the cross Canada bears has been “two nations warring in the bosom of a single state,” for the United States it’s been slavery’s heritage in bitter, untrusting relations between whites and blacks.
I got to contrasting the crosses after reading a forceful piece in the New York Times Sunday section on television by Benjamin DeMott titled “Sure, we’re all just one big happy family.” It set me looking for a parallel between the relative situations of majority-minority relations in each country. The majority in each country has recently suffered a traumatic shock at finding its minority didn’t react as was expected.
White Americans were taken aback at the pleased reaction of blacks to the freeing of O.J. Simpson. They were confounded by the verdict and what the black response signified for progress in race relations. The Canadian shock came when federalists almost lost the referendum in Quebec. Suddenly many were asking why the federalist victory had seemed certain from what politicians and pundits had said until very late in the campaign.
One might simplify the reaction to the shock in each country to: “How did we come to deceive ourselves so thoroughly?”
DeMott of the Times says that in the aftermath of the Simpson verdict many asked a “vacuous question … why are blacks and whites so divided?” He says the serious inquiry should be on “Why are whites so dim on divisions between the races? What forces, what processes lulled white America into assuming that blacks and whites were ever on the same page?”
His answer is in a myth that grew about equality between the races and friendship between the races which was propounded and popularized by politicians and pop culture, in particular by TV sitcoms and pro sports. This scam has made a lot of Americans feel good but it wasn’t matched by the reality in jobs, living standards and opportunities for blacks at the higher levels of the economy and society.
This next paragraph sketches the myth’s development:
“Round the clock, ceaselessly, the elements of this orthodoxy of sameness are grouped and regrouped, helping to root an unspoken but felt understanding throughout white America: race problems belong to the passing moment. Race problems do not involve group interests and conflicts developed over centuries. Race problems are being smoothed into nothingness, gradually, inexorably, by good will, affection, points of light.”
DIVIDED BY LANGUAGE
Yes! But our dilemma is division by language and nationality, not by color. Federal Canada’s emphasis ever since the bilingualism and biculturalism reports of the late ’60s has been pushed by politicians and seconded by educators, editorialists and TV news and commentary. It is this: the problems between English Canada and the French centred within Quebec can be dealt with as aforesaid … “inexorably, by good will, affection, points of light.”
One distinction between the Canadian and U.S. scenarios is ironic because by far our largest telecaster is the government-owned CBC (and its French serivice, Radio-Canada). One may say these two arms of the CBC have hardly been in sync for years in bridging the “two nations” or wiping away the difficulties between the two nations. They are two solitudes.
Where English TV has been Pollyannaish and supportive of bilingualism and multiculturalism, French TV has been both more nationalistic and enclavist. Quebec’s TV, even more than the Quebec press, takes far less notice in its news coverage, soap operas and farces of what the anglos are doing or have done, particularly beyond Quebec, than the anglos do in what Quebec is about or wants.
Aside from a few singers and musicians, there has been remarkably little crossover in Canada. Quebec has shown little awareness of the cultural, social and economic interests in the rest of Canada. Quebec has mostly remained a solitude unto itself as English Canada has been raising its attention toward Quebec. It’s done this largely through the positive federalism of its elites but also through an instinctive distrust of plain people which has roots in two world wars and much critical emphasis from what’s been seen as Ottawa favoring Quebec.
Blacks and whites in the U.S., despite their disparities, do not have their division fixed so inexorably as our basic division is in Canada – by differing languages and a concentration in a specific region and political entity. A Canadian can almost envy America its division. Although it is certainly durable and difficult, it will never lead to what is in prospect here – a clean break.

KEYWORDS: RACE RELATIONS; CANADA; USA

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Sunday, January 07, 1996
ID: 11921731
TAG: 199601050107
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Comment
PAGE: C7
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

WHERE’S THE CANADIAN LEFT?

A cursory survey of year end op-ed page reviews and prognostications for 1996 reveals a curious gap: for all the spilled ink and air time devoted to things political, there was a dearth of articles and opinions on the future fortunes and direction of the Left.
Yet most issues highlighted in these pieces ought to be grist for the left-wing mill: cuts to health, education and social welfare programs, continuing high unemployment (especially among the young), growing poverty and flat personal incomes in a year of record profits for banks and other major corporations. Despite all this potential ammunition, the federal NDP and its labor movement allies were invisible. Why?
The fortunes of socialists and progressives at the provincial level, and internationally, indicate the problem is not merely a national one. Of the two ostensibly socialist provincial governments, that in B.C. is likely be defeated next time around, a victim of scandals and the general anomie attached to a party too long in power.
Saskatchewan’s Romanow government remains popular but little in its program of fiscal restraint warms left-wing hearts or differentiates it from counterparts governing under other political banners. The fate of Ontario’s experiment with socialism and the lacklustre response to labor’s calls for a united front against the Harris government are further proof of how out of date left-wing approaches here are viewed.
On the international scene (aside from the former East Bloc countries), there seems little room for politicians carrying a socialist torch. Old bastions of socialist orthodoxy like Sweden, so often cited by Canada’s Left as beacons, are now models of fiscal restraint. Britain’s Labor party is set to take over from the despised Tories precisely because there is no longer much to differentiate their economic prescriptions, Labor having shifted so far right.
For socialists the world over it seems that hopes of holding office lie in convincing voters that the Left is best able to deliver conservative policies. Selling out works.
The federal NDP has resisted this rightward tide despite Roy Romanow’s success: witness the election of telegenic party stalwart Alexa McDonough as leader.
The determination of hard-nosed leftists and nationalists to stick to their guns is also seen in the popularity of recent books by Linda McQuaig, Maude Barlow and Marci MacDonald among others attacking the current deficit cutting/free trading agenda, the U.S. more generally as the wellspring of all evil and globalization (the latter now percieved as the greatest threat to the aspirations of nationalists and progressives). While the market for these books seems profitable enough for the authors, it falls far short of what those who wish to build a mass political movement require.
One pollster recently noted that while middle class Canadians share many of the concerns raised by the Left – not wanting a Canada of soup kitchens, panhandlers and closed hospitals – they are preoccupied with their own economic survival and the greatest threat to it: runaway government spending. If the only solution offered by the Left to growing social ills is more taxes and debt, the middle class will take a pass.
The inability of the Left to come up with anything more than shrill attacks on the budget slashers has left them politically marginalized.
Brighter lights within federal NDP ranks understand this, and have been quietly mulling over what sort of responses might be made to the glaring and growing inequalities in Canadian society without exacerbating the current fiscal mess. No light bulbs have gone off just yet.
The Left is hamstrung by more that just a lack of cash. Its chosen instrument, the state, suffers from a credibility deficit as great as the fiscal one. Years of promises that the all-seeing, all-knowing state could make their world a better place – followed by the horrendous results now obvious to all – have left voters disinclined to give statists another chance, especially when they deny their own role in the present mess.
Finally, and perhaps most crippling, is the perception that even if governments aren’t inherently incompetent, the factors now shaping the world, collectively known as globalization, are beyond the power of individual states to control.
International capital (including massive pension funds controlled by labour unions) can move in the blink of an eye to jurisdictions more favorable (i.e., possessing lower tax rates).
Pollution, global warming and declining fish stocks are also extraterritorial in nature. The political party, left or right, that discovers a practical means for the state to reassert its sovereignty in these areas will find not only Canadian voters but politicians from all over the world beating a path to its door.
Assuming such means exist.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Friday, January 05, 1996
ID: 11921264
TAG: 199601040184
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

ONE OF THE BEST OF THE GOOD GUYS

Where were you … When Paul Henderson scored? When John Kennedy was killed? When war was declared? A hurtful event in Toronto last week hit me with the latter question – where I was when World War II began?
Across mid-Canada the summer of 1939 had been a beauty, and Sept. 3 was a perfect, blue-sky day. I came early to the Ontario Air Service base in Sioux Lookout looking for a flight to a fire ranger post at Swain’s Lake, north toward Hudson Bay.
A scan of the shore showed two planes at the big dock, a white Noorduyn Norseman and a yellow Stinson Reliant, each with men busy around it. For several reasons I hoped for the Reliant. The Norseman was noisier and slower and the Reliant had better visibility and a bird-like lift from its gull wings and rapid climb. Better still, my favorite pilot was flying the Reliant.
Since May I’d been a fire ranger, working from Red Lake on the west to Osnaburgh House to the east. Mostly by canoe we’d check “burn” permits of prospectors and drill crews along a swath of claims from Red Lake east to Pickle Crow.
A few times we were moved by the Reliant, and twice its pilot took me along for company on patrols the day after lightning storms.
As a boy of Sioux Lookout, a busy airbase since the 1926 Red Lake gold rush, I knew a lot of bush pilots, from Roy Brown and “Wop” May of Red Baron fame to Al Cheesman who’d flown Admiral Byrd over Antarctica. The Reliant pilot, a slight, blond chap, was younger than the pilots we knew, and both friendlier and surprisingly curious.
On my first flip with him he sat me beside him. While taxiing to takeoff he began explaining what he was doing and why. Airborne, and on a course, he sketched the use of compasses, his map’s key details and his radio checks.
It was his first summer so far west of the Ontario Air Service HQ at the Sault. He was quite politically aware, and when I told him I had this summer job because my dad was a union friend of Peter Heenan, a Liberal cabinet minister, he said such patronage was generations old in old Ontario where he grew up, but he hadn’t expected it in new Ontario.
In the summer of ’39 political interest in our region was heightened by two journeyings. On several occasions the pilot had flown a very difficult passenger from town to town in northwestern Ontario – Mitchell Hepburn, the premier, then bibulous and witty but meantongued. “Mitch” had the Kenora district agog at his boozing and buddies.
RISING MENACE
On a higher level, the tour of Canada by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth had roused almost near dormant Canadian feeling for the Commonwealth and Empire and highlighted the Nazi menace rising in Germany. The pilot had seen the royal couple close up at places he’d taken provincial notables for receptions. He was wrily graphic about the Queen (perfection!) and our dumpy, attentive, bachelor PM, Mackenzie King.
The pilot figured the visit had a grand purpose, and Canada would be at war soon.
On Sept. 3, 1939, as I found myself again side by side with this grand guy it didn’t enter my head that I’d never see him again after he dropped me at Swain’s Post.
On the way in he asked me to dial CKY Winnipeg to find out what was up. And so, while winging over sun-drenched lakes and spruce flats I heard the voice of Neville Chamberlain stating that Britain, along with France, was at war with Germany for its invasion of Poland.
After the British PM’s declaration we heard Mackenzie King say that in a few days our Parliament would decide if Canada went to war.
“Of course, it will,” said Bill Tweed, and shortly he put a hand over for shaking and said something like: “Let’s try to survive … it’ll be a long one.”
It was a long one. Both of us survived, but I hadn’t heard anything of him since the mid-’40s until he made the front pages of Toronto papers last week. Bill Tweed and his wife were knifed to death in Thornhill by an unknown murderer.
Over the years, driving between Ottawa and Toronto I’d often take the cutoff through the lovely village of Tweed. My companions got used to me saying: “I once knew the kindest man, Bill Tweed, who came from Tweed. I wonder where he got to?”
A newspaper photo with the murder story told me, and brought the kindnesses in 1939 rushing back to me. One meets many people in a long life and you do remember the very good ones. Like Bill Tweed.

The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

DATE: Wednesday, January 03, 1996
ID: 11920880
TAG: 199601020095
EDITION: Final
SECTION: Editorial/Opinion
PAGE: 11
SOURCE: BY DOUGLAS FISHER

GOOD MATERIAL FOR CABINET-MAKING

Jean Chretien is altering his cabinet. A few zealots for unity even have him drafting “stars” now outside Parliament. This is unlikely, even, say, a 100-1 shot.
How much major change is likely – in newcomers, in departures, and in shifts? Probably much less than one might expect given that only one or two particular members of the cabinet seem indispensable. Paul Martin must go on at Finance; the leader (and the dean) of the House, Herb Gray, has too much craft for dropping.
What is the PM looking for? Not a lot if one goes from his recent remarks. Not once has he been critical of his cabinet as a whole or of any minister. To the contrary! He is prideful in contrasting all the resignations Brian Mulroney had to take in his first two years in office.
To outsiders, the cabinet’s most remarked regional weaknesses have centered on B.C. and Metro Toronto but the PM has always shrugged away any such suggestions.
This steadfastness of the leader in the face of what many consider deepening adversity and others think the dulling effect from an uninspiring cabinet, particularly as a colloquium for grand policy and strategy, suggests he will make modest changes with a couple of goings and comings and five or six shifts. The likeliest for dropping or shifting to less dicey duties are Diane Marleau (health) and Michel Dupuy (heritage). The two best prospects for higher profile portfolios seem to be Brian Tobin (fisheries) and Douglas Young (transport).
Anyone given to surveys of our modern prime ministers in the making and shaking of their cabinets realizes that all, even Pierre Trudeau, were chary of change. They have disliked demoting or exiling ministers more than they relished creating new ones. And each PM from John Diefenbaker through Chretien respected past patterns of party politics when forming a cabinet. Each preferred to go first with those who had danced with them – the loyalists. Usually these have been either caucus MPs or stalwarts of party organization.
After the loyalists – in Chretien’s case, after the Dingwalls, Tobins, Irwins, Marchis, Andersons, Marleaus, Youngs and Collenettes – come the needed assuaging of former rivals for the leadership – Sheila Copps (deputy PM) and Martin (finance).
STAR CANDIDATES
Then we get the “star” candidates enlisted for electoral prominence – in Chretien’s case, Allan Rock, Michel Dupuy, Marcel Masse and Art Eggleton, followed by Lucienne Robillard (for the referendum). They had to be made ministers.
Then come the caucus warhorses with reputations so durable and sound they must be given cabinet rank: Herb Gray, Lloyd Axworthy and Andre Ouellet.
Frankly, there are many excellent choices for the ministry in Chretien’s caucus, even from Quebec (Clifford Lincoln and Patrick Gagnon) and B.C. (Harb Dhaliwal, Ted McWhinney and Hedy Fry).
Consider the recent gossip that Lloyd Axworthy wants and may get foreign affairs, held by one even longer a privy councillor, Andre Ouellet. Despite the Manitoban’s years in cabinet there seem at least five better choices at hand for this particular task in familiarity with global issues and ability to reason soundly and speak well: historian John English, Lester Pearson’s biographer; Jesse Flis, now Ouellet’s secretary and an MP with 12 years of serious work with House committees for foreign affairs; Adm. Fred Mifflin, a folksy Newfoundlander who’s shrewd on international defence matters; the poised and personable Christine Stewart, already a minor minister (Latin American and African affairs); and Bill Graham, a Toronto lawyer and professor who has specialized in foreign affairs.
To repeat: however good or mediocre the present cabinet may be there is no shortage in the caucus of good potential ministers.
Chretien once extolled his parliamentary secretaries and ministers of state as his “good” cabinet-in-waiting. It is a group, 34 in number, at least 10 of whom could be genuine contributors to cabinet thinking – the aforementioned Flis, English, Gagnon, Lincoln, Daliwhal, Fry, and Stewart, plus David Walker, Susan Whelan, Russ MacLellan, Bob Nault, Maurizio Bevilacqua, Dennis Mills, Joe Fontana, Peter Milliken and Douglas Peters.
But the crux now, as in most previous periods of political danger and crisis for the country, has not been cabinet or lack of ministerial abilities. It was and is with the prime minister and how well he thinks, or who thinks with him or for him. To this point, the cabinet has been insignificant compared with what Chretien draws from his very long experience and his own very familiar handlers.
The Toronto Sun
Copyright © 1996, SunMedia Corp.

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