It is my belief that a much greater share of the burden of promoting this concept will in the future, as it should have been in the past, be shared by the members of this house. We who work at the very point where all ten provinces meet must surely be the ones that bear the primary responsibility for fostering and strengthening Canadian unity. In the past too many of us have abrogated our responsibilities in this regard, leaving it to certain Canadian newspaper editors, journalists and provincial politicians to tell the people of this country what in fact has been done in this connection. It is my hope that this will change.
Now, Mr. Speaker, there are some people who would have us believe that the French fact and the English fact are irreconcilable, that the one can only flourish and grow at the expense of the other. To my mind this line of reasoning is just as outmoded, just as outdated and just as pessimistic as the line of reasoning which insists that the interests of management and labour are irreconcilable. These are both nineteenth century doctrines and should have no place at this time in our history. Mind you, Mr. Speaker, they can have if we lack the imagination to conceive of new categories of thought to order our relations as people and producers. We have made some progress in the past, particularly
in the past few years. However, to find an answer to the problem posed by Canadian dualism, a problem which, paradoxically, offers tremendous opportunities, we cannot be constantly looking at European experience. We must study the Canadian facts; we must discover what has been authentic and best and valuable within our own traditions, and we must build from there with much greater originality and courage than heretofore. In short, Mr. Speaker, we have plagiarized from other countries for far too long in the formation of our national identity.
Unhappily, there has developed a certain unnecessary overlapping between the question of Canadian unity and the question of dominion-provincial relations. There are those who would argue that the true test on one's sincerity in supporting the concept of equal partners in confederation is whether or not one is willing to see the jurisdiction of the provinces, in particular the province of Quebec, grow at the expense of the federal authority. I reject this thesis utterly.
In my view, Mr. Speaker, the true test of partnership lies, for instance, in our willingness to accept the greater participation of French speaking Canadians in the higher echelons, and indeed the highest echelons, of the federal civil service and in the senior ranks of our defence establishment.
As the Speech from the Throne puts it:
-it is of the utmost importance that Canadians in all parts of the country should look to Ottawa as its true capital where they can feel at home.
To this end, Mr. Speaker, there is this commitment by the government:
To this end my government will continue to work toward the broadening of the bilingual character of the public service. The national capital should increasingly reflect the nature of the Canadian society.
Our ability to fulfil this promise is the best test of our willingness to be partners in confederation. Having said that, Mr. Speaker, I should like to express also certain misgivings which I feel sure are shared by a large proportion of my constituents. These are misgivings about the direction in which dominion-provincial conferences are taking our federal system. It is not my purpose to criticize what has happened up till now but I do feel we have reached a point where we must ask ourselves whether or not the dominion-provincial conference is still the best vehicle for dealing with the immediate problems of our federal system.
January 24, 1966 COMMONS
There is a widespread feeling that these ad hoc meetings, designed to arrive at solutions to particular problems, too often result in a hybrid of compromise and expediency fostered by political pressure. This in turn results in a de facto change, albeit sometimes subtle, in the distribution of powers as between the federal and provincial governments and indeed all levels of government. These particular solutions, with their inevitable exceptions for certain provinces, produce a marked confusion and lack of clarity in our federal system. Change seems so often to come about through a process of attrition rather than through a process of conscious, long term decision.
It has been suggested by some people, including the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Diefenbaker), that the time has come for a national constitutional conference. Such a conference would beyond doubt pose tremendous problems and create several severe tensions within our federal system. All of us are aware of the magnitude and difficulty of such an undertaking. However, I believe it is time that we as Canadians came to grips with our most difficult and fundamental problem, our raison d'etre. Other nations have done it, and have proven themselves equal to the task. Therefore I should like to suggest or, probably more discreetly, I should like to hope that this government would give serious consideration to the calling of such a conference.
[DOT] (5:00 p.m.)
The task of drawing up a new constitution commensurate with our present level of political, economic and historical development should, in the preliminary stages, be handled by experts, experts in constitutional law, experts in our economic and political history. At the intermediate stages of development, this new constitution should be approved by both the federal parliament and the provincial legislatures. In the final stages it should be ratified by the people. This will be an immense and traumatic undertaking but in the long run I suspect that it might be the condition of our survival as a nation.
I come now, Mr. Speaker, to certain other provisions of the Speech from the Throne. As we know, the members of the opposition have been extremely critical of this document. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Diefenbaker) in particular-I am sorry he is not here but I can understand why-has been critical and scornful of it. He has described the Speech from the Throne as a puerile and pusillanimous piece of repetitive propaganda. In my
The Address-Mr. Faulkner opinion, Mr. Speaker, far more puerile is the person who in mock rage scorns the honest and well intentioned efforts of others who fail completely to agree with his own political point of view. Far more pusillanimous is the man who fears to give credit to an opponent when credit is due. A much fairer and more perceptive assessment of the Speech from the Throne was contained in an editorial which appeared in one of this country's finest provincial daily newspapers. I refer, of course, to the Peterborough Examiner. If I may be allowed, I should like to quote from this editorial which appeared in the edition for Wednesday, January 19:
Essentially, the program that has been laid out for this session of parliament is a continuation of the Liberal government's far-reaching and, in many ways revolutionary development of Canada's social, health and welfare legislation. Already such measures as the Canada Pension Plan, the war on proverty and the Canada Assistance Plan have begun changes in Canada's social structure, and the relation of government to it, which are probably more radical than any since the second world war.
In my view, much of what is proposed in the Speech from the Throne is of immediate interest and benefit to the people of my riding. The important emphasis given to education, particularly the interim grants to higher education announced by the Prime Minister (Mr. Pearson), will be warmly received by all of those who are interested in the development of Trent University. This university is in many ways unique in Canada. We from Peterborough derive considerable satisfaction and pride from the achievements of this young university. In passing I should like to point out to hon. members that the name of the first residential college of Trent University will be Samuel de Champlain, a name which we realize is revered by all Canadians but particularly French speaking Canadians.
The second annual review of the Economic Council has drawn our attention to the severe shortage of manpower with higher educational and skill qualifications. The plan announced in the Speech from the Throne for vigorous federal action in this area of manpower training is most welcome. It has been my view always that much greater use could be made and will be made of on the job training. In order to accomplish this the cooperation of management and labour would have to be secured. From the many discussions I have had with these two groups, I suggest that such co-operation would be forthcoming.
January 24, 1966
The Address-Mr. Godin
There is something missing from the Speech from the Throne, as the hon. member who spoke before me pointed out. I refer to the 11 per cent tax, particularly on production equipment. This matter has been a continuing concern of mine. I discussed it at length during the course of the election campaign. I am aware, as I am sure all hon. gentlemen opposite are, of the tremendous problem, indeed the dilemma, faced by the Minister of Finance (Mr. Sharp). When the government is committed to such an extensive program of social security it must necessarily find the revenue. However, I should like to urge the Minister of Finance, in his general review of the tax structure prior to commencing the budget, to give careful consideration to the effect of this particular 11 per cent tax on production equipment on the competitive position of our manufacturing industry in order to ascertain if he can drop it. I might point out that my position on the 11 per cent tax is not an ideological position. It happens to derive from experience in my riding.
There is much that remains in the Speech from the Throne with which I should like to deal but time does not permit. It seems to me though that the Speech from the Throne begs a fairly fundamental question. It is this: Are the 265 members of this house, who have been elected by the people of Canada to get things done, high-minded enough and concerned enough about the tremendous burden of legislation that confronts them to put aside party differences, to call a moratorium on party hassles, and get down to the job they were elected to do?
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY