Mr. Roland de Corneille (Eglinton-Lawrence):
Mr. Speaker, let me add to those who have already joined in this debate my congratulations to you on your election as Speaker in the House of Commons. Should I ever transgress the rules in the House, please be assured that it will only be because of my
The Address-Mr. de Corneille unfamiliarity with the rules and customs, not because of any intention to violate the established procedures or to challenge the dignity of the House or of your office. May I also add these same sentiments in my congratulations to the Deputy Speaker on his preferment.
Indeed, I intend to do my utmost to avoid weakening and in fact to enrich the traditions and attainments of the House of Commons, which not only represents but embodies the very right to freedom. Even though, as can be seen in another important historical document, we feel that right is self-evident, a large segment of the world thinks otherwise. In fact, some of us have seen the rights of individuals savagely crushed in the Nazi holocaust. A calculated and meticulously executed genocide took place in that part of the world which claimed to be the cradle of culture. Six million Jews, and many more millions of non-Jews, perished. The most fundamental right of the individual, the right to live, was trampled massively and scornfully.
Many of the people who live in Canada today have tasted bitterly of that catastrophe of the holocaust either by the loss of loved ones who were its victims or who died sacrificially in the course of efforts by the armed services to swamp out this monstrous evil which inflicted such vast insult upon the dignity of the human person.
Unfortunately, mankind's torments did not end with the holocaust. On the contrary: the Nazi holocaust marked the starting point for a series of diabolical communist genocides, to which must be added the abominable carnages of reactionary rightist despots who were just as rapacious and cynical about the freedom and rights of man. We witnessed with horror the spread of contempt for the foundations of freedom and democracy. Because of that, the House of Commons constitutes a challenge of the spirit of man against those forces which, on this earth, would scorn the right to life and its sacred nature.
To be a member of the Parliament of Canada, Mr. Speaker, is therefore the highest privilege that one's fellow Canadians can bestow upon one. I am proud to be included among my distinguished colleagues in the House. I am grateful for this privilege which the people of Eglinton-Lawrence have bestowed upon me, and I am mindful that I am walking in the path and in the footsteps of individual predecessors, predecessors from my riding including the Hon. Donald Fleming, a former minister of finance, and more recently his successor, a distinguished former minister of finance, secretary of state for external affairs and, latterly, president of the privy council, Mitchell Sharp. I shall do my best to represent all of the people of Eglinton-Lawrence in the same way as my predeces-
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sors did, irrespective of the political affiliations of my constituents.
In speaking to the resolution expressing our appreciation to His Excellency the Governor General, I should like to pay my respects to the mover and seconder of this motion. I should like to add to their observations that, as 1 heard the Speech from the Throne, I saluted its reference to the intention of the government to take certain steps which 1 believe would add to a series of reforms to parliamentary government which have been under way for years. I make particular, favourable reference to the government's announced intention to provide members of parliament as individuals with additional opportunity to work more effectively on behalf of their constituents by giving greater attention to private members' bills. The last government had already done much to help members be more effective parliamentarians by making it possible for them to improve their facilities and staff and by allowing television to report the events which take place in this House.
I was also happy to see reference in the throne speech to the establishment of a select committee to enquire fully into the special needs of handicapped and disabled Canadians. The human rights of these fellow Canadians are easily passed over because all too often they are out of sight and, therefore, out of mind.
1 also was pleased to note that special attention was paid to strengthen the role of the voluntary sector in our society. Although 1 have worked in the fields of commerce and finance myself, most of my subsequent career has been dedicated to service in non-governmental organizations, or N.G.O.'s, as they are called; in the service of the church; in the League for Human Rights of B'nai B'rith, and so forth. I have personally witnessed the tremendous contribution such voluntary organizations make, at no cost to the taxpayer. These organizations deserve encouragement, whether their orientations are spiritual, humanitarian, cultural, athletic, philanthropic, or whatever.
Although 1 rejoice to hear these references in the Speech from the Throne, it disappoints me that many of these reforms will lead only to the setting up of committees rather than to action. It sounds like "committees" rather than "commitment". It is, therefore, with deep regret that 1 have to say that although 1 wanted to be optimistic, although I had hoped against hope that I would discern some real progress, some real direction, 1 must now admit to profound disappointment.
The so-called program presented by the government of what it has in store for us fulfils my previous fears of what might happen if we had a Tory government. My analysis and conclusions have not had to be hasty. As members of Parliament we have had a long time, five months, to make our observations, albeit from a distance and through a glass darkly, but now with the throne speech at last face to face. What we see is a government of evasion; it is bland, it is blank, it is empty and void. I have searched deeply into my soul. I have asked myself, is this the kind of Speech from the Throne worthy of a new minority government? Is this speech adequate enough as a basis for legislation or for policy, or as a guide or a plan, or even an outline, as we cross the threshold of the 1980s? What
I find is a vapid, vacuous evasion of the problems of the world and of the challenges to our nation.
At a time when the world is shaken by revolutions and genocide, by oil shortages and arbitrary price hikes, by monetary instability and inflation, by international power plays and Third and Fourth World hunger and destitution, and at a time when our country, under pressure from these external forces, is in need of reassurance of sound policies on energy, interest rates and employment, we listen to the throne speech and wonder whether we are listening to a government that is on another planet. I have been searching my soul, as 1 know millions of Canadians have, and have wondered, after this long time of waiting since the election, whether the intervening time has possibly been used for anything more than to allow the pirates to divide up the political spoils at the captain's table while our Canadian ship of state is floundering on a troubled sea of world tensions in violent economic storms.
Imagine my amazement-our amazement as parliamentarians-to hear the pledge of the right hon. Prime Minister (Mr. Clark) in the Speech from the Throne that his policy is "to make my ministers more responsible to you". What inconsistency, what irony, what a paradox! How can they be more responsible to us when for months on end they did not call Parliament and would not give account to us? During all this time the ministers have not been responsible to us in this House nor in the other place. Does this long abstinence from parliamentary government set a precedent, or give any example, or lend any credibility to the principle of making "my ministers more responsible to you"? Hardly, do we feel, have they been responsible to this House.
As was the case for many hon. members, October 9 was the first time 1 ever laid eyes on many of these ministers since the election on May 22, and we had dissolution of Parliament in March. It has taken from May to October before we get our first chance to ask these responsible ministers to give an account. This is a jest. It is a travesty. Some of the ministers still have not had their first turn to speak, to give any account, and we are half way into October.
Most of the backbenchers will not have a chance to ask questions regarding problems in their ridings to these "accountable ministers" until next year. Is this consistent with the stated intent in the speech "to make my ministers more responsible to you", ministers who have not had to give account since May 22, except to the media which has nobly tried to squeeze from this dry rind some content which members of Parliament have yet had no chance to do? Is that a sincere and genuine concern for parliamentary reform, to keep the House closed down and shut while we get government by secret meetings behind closed doors in remote and comfortable retreats where the prying eyes of the dangerous press and members of Her Majesty's loyal opposition could not hear or speak, question or get a reply?
Yes, I am worried by the Speech from the Throne, and I lack confidence in the government that authored it. For exam-
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pie, what are we told will be the government policy for energy? While in opposition, those hon. members who now form the government had endless months, nay years, to formulate such a policy. But they frittered that time away, those years and years and years, tearing down the policy of the last government, criticizing, nagging, carping and complaining. Their energy went into tearing down the energy policy. No wonder all they now have in their hands are reams of notes on how to tear down and destroy. Destroy PetroCan. Destroy our arrangements with Mexico and Venezuela. Destroy our federal international responsibility and involvement in offshore rights.
Since the election they have had months to do their work, and what do we learn from the throne speech? There is not a word in the speech about PetroCan, the single most important agent the Government of Canada possesses to protect us with regard to the most critical issue we face. This would be a forgiveable oversight if the government had not broken our energy mast in the conflicting orders that have been shouted from its crew members as to whether to raise or drop the sails-sale of PetroCan, no sales, half sales, have a sale, but only where crew members can buy-and as the sails go up and down they are being torn to shreds. They will not catch the wind and take us anywhere but down into the deep. It is a profligate destruction of our heritage. Our country is up and down for sale.
Yes, it is a policy of evasion. They evade the issue with smiles and chuckles while we flounder and our energy mast is splintered and broken. We are a country divided and confused about PetroCan, about energy prices which are not resolved. For this reason prices have already been set and have soared for our winter fuel for homes, transportation and industry, because the middlemen could not wait. It is too late now. The government has failed to chart its course and everyone else has had to make up their own minds. They have taken to the lifeboats to save their medium and small-sized fuel companies. They had no choice, with no guidelines, but to jack up the prices.
Evasion leads to licence. The rich get richer, the powerful more powerful. No wonder we have monopolies like the policy of evasion, of "no decide", of laissez-faire. They can rip us off unfettered, because the government has no policy or, rather, has a policy to evade, to pass, to make no bid. But how can you win the game if you keep giving away your cards and keep on passing? Evasion.
And what does the Speech from the Throne have to say about our foreign policy? It is amazingly evasive through its silence. Just as in the case of silence in the throne speech on Petro-Canada, so there is silence on foreign policy. There is total silence by the government on the handling of the issue of the Middle East. All we know is that a special study is under way, a study triggered by the most blatant and destructive fumbles in Canada's foreign policy for as long as my mind can recall.
The present Prime Minister, seizing upon what appeared to be a popular and meritorious yearning on the part of many, if not most, Canadians to move the Canadian embassy from Tel
The Address-Mr. de Corneille
Aviv to Jerusalem, which is the capital of Israel, during the election took this ultimately desirable and even sacred issue and dragged it down into the realm of partisan election politics.
What all those who love Israel want, whether we are Jews or non Jews, is that the issue of the moving of the embassy be based on the merits of the case, and be timed and effected in a way that contributes to the peace process. Jerusalem is a holy city and it should not have been a brick-bat for partisan argumentation. The ultimate objective of moving our embassy is too important to have hastily thrown it into an election contest which gave Canadians the impression it was done for votes instead of on merit. And worse yet, after we warned over and over again of the delicate nature of this matter and of the need for education, information, preparation and understanding, our advice was spurned, and in cavalier fashion the issue was pressed, without the needed resolve to see it through, which resulted inexorably in total debacle.
It was no favour which the captain of the election strategists did for Israel by making such a self-serving promise and dragging the sacred name of Yerushalayim-the city of peace-to the level of vitriolic argument. That damage can never be fully undone, because try as one might to rectify it, the discussion of the embassy has been totally removed now from the merits of the case itself. And the irony of it all is that the good reason and the only reason that the embassy should ultimately be moved is based entirely on the merits of the case. The timing and the setting and the motives were all-important. And it all was trampled upon for the sake of pledges made for opportunistic reasons and timing seemingly unrelated to the justice of the cause at stake.
The result of this lack of policy, and then of vacillation instead of swift, decisive action one way or another, has been to compound our troubles. It has thrust us into a situation where Canada now appears to be susceptible to blackmail, bullying and belittling. We have desecrated the name of Jerusalem, lost our honour, and now we decide that it is time to find out, not only what to do, but also how much damage we did; how much tribute we will have to pay or how many compromises we will have to make to regain lost friends or contracts. What ignominy! Is this how we protect human rights in the world? What was the message in the Speech from the Throne on the Middle East? Was it that we were not going to be susceptible to backmail, that we have our own policy? Or was it silence or evasion, as with PetroCan?
What do we hear about human rights in the world in this speech? Is there anything at all about genocide or about the hungry in the Fourth World crushed to death by OPEC oil costs and inflation? There is nothing in the speech except that we will be getting a committee on foreign policy. But we do get ministers telling us from the flora side that human rights will come up like flowers, while the fauna side forages upon the money pastures which alone could make our promises to the Third and Fourth Worlds a reality. How sad to see our reputation in the field of foreign affairs, built up so assiduously and patiently by past hon. members like Pearson, Sharp,
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Jamieson, and the hon. member for Cape Breton Highlands-Canso (Mr. MacEachen), brought so swiftly to the level of infamy in the Year of the Child-un enfant terrible? Our foreign policy mast has also been snapped by the hoisting and dropping of sails in a cacophony of discordant orders from the captain and his first mates.
But, Mr. Speaker, these are but a few illustrations of how large and important areas of national and world concern, which have been in the headlines for months, are now passed over by silence and by evasion. The policy-and it is delivered-is evasion; the plan is that the way you keep the citizenry happy is by handing out the new Tory confectionery-Smiles and Chuckles, and snickers-while they divide up the spoils. And can you blame them for chuckling? If you managed to squeeze into power with the second largest popular vote, with a minority of seats in the House, propped up by hon. members belonging to another party which you are meanwhile privately and publicly seducing, and with a minority of seats in the other place, getting aid and comfort from the fact that you are doing so little that the media cannot get a target on you, you would chuckle too, Mr. Speaker.
Who could ask for more than a throne speech without commitment and a media that is left open-mouthed and speechless? The Speech from the Throne is amazing, not for what it says but for what it does not say. Never has so little said so little in so few words to so many.
Mr. Speaker, I have had to save till last my deepest concern. It frightens me the most. It has to do with the survival of this country, with the Canada I love. I see under this government the division of this country into satrapies like Chinese provinces under the war lords of the Kuomintang, each war lord reigning sovereign in his province, resulting in a confusion of policies, in competitive wars between provinces for businesses, head offices and investments, in raising barriers to migration of workers from other provinces, like the wars between the war lords of old.
What is the philosophical justification for a federal government that in the name of "less government" really means almost no federal government and more and more provincial government, which means more inequality and more divisive forces unleashed? This laissez-faire policy which sells out Canada comes under the confectionery name not of "Chuckles" but of "community of communities". Behind this exercise in semantics is the insidious suggestion that the way we can get unity is to stop the confrontation, and to hand over, in the interests of dialogue and understanding, those rights and responsibilities which our constitution and our Supreme Court state this Parliament, the Parliament of Canada, is expected to exercise. Some dialogue!
Mr. Speaker, let me say that I think I know something about dialogue. The dialogue that has come about through ecumenism has been the greatest event in this century. Religious wars and hatreds have given way to respectful dialogue between Catholics, Protestants and Jews. The ancient walls of
contempt have fallen away through dialogue. And all this has been premised upon the concept that in dialogue you call people into being rather than to cease to be. It is right, and one thing to call the provinces into being. That the Fathers of Confederation more than did. But it is another thing to say that the federal government should not have that same right, which was the central goal and objective of the Fathers of Confederation-a strong central government.
Mr. Speaker, we have heard a lot of pious criticism from others about the danger of confrontation. But, Mr. Speaker, dialogue is called confrontation. One speaks of the "confrontation of dialogue". It means that in dialogue one does not evade the issues. One does not dissolve oneself. One does not diminish oneself. One does not assimilate, capitulate, surrender. So at present we are not getting dialogue. In fact, the terminology "community of communities", used in conjunction with the criticism that in the past we have had too much confrontation between the federal and provincial governments, is being used as a cover in the retreat from a federal system to a confederation of ten states, or is it twelve now? It seems to be part of the grand design of the Conservative party to hack us up. First we had the blueprint of "two nations"-deux nations. Now it has proliferated. Now it is a "community of communities", maybe something like "ten nations"-dix nations ou plus. And if you throw in the Yukon and the Northwest Territories, maybe 12 tribes-douze nations-ou presque\
Mr. Speaker, I repeat, it is on a dangerous course that our ship of state is floundering. It is no course at all. It is not a dialogue. It is not a discussion out in the open. It is not a facing of issues and facts. There are secret discussions where the media are not present. There are, worse yet, secret deals. It is not just once or twice; it is the way things now are done. The war lords put down their demands, linked often with their political interests, and the federal government in private agreements gives away to them what belongs to the family of Canada and describes this process as a "community of communities". Mr. Speaker, that is not a community. Let us not hide behind the subterfuge of words. Canada is at stake. Evasion is not dialogue; evasion is anti-dialogical. It is unhealthy. Dialogue means confrontation. It means that the federal government, this Parliament and all of us who are members have the right to hear, to listen, to be in the dialogue. It means to have open deals openly arrived at.
Ontario has the right, not just the premier and his minority party but the majority of the people, like the people of my riding, the people of Toronto, the people of the province, to hear what those deals are that give away our future as Canadians. Our heritage, our offshore energy and mineral rights for 200 miles, our resources, belong to Canadians. We have to be at the table where all can see the hands and learn to share. The federal government has the right, nay, the duty, the responsibility, to stand for all of us, to protect all of us. Rather than for this government to appeal to the greedy hopes of war lords in each province that their area might strike it rich, we have to make sure that all Canadians strike it rich.
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Instead, Mr. Speaker, we have evasion. We have silence. We have paradoxical phrases like "community of communities" which sound a lot too much like "sovereignty-association", an "Alberta heritage fund for Canadians"-Albertan Canadians, that is-and "humble pride", or is it "proud humility"?
The Speech from the Throne bodes ill that the government will continue to be passive, will avoid difficult decisions and evade responsibilities. It will continue to play hide and go seek with the press, to make agreements secretly arrived at, to pass out goodies to some provinces that they have no mandate from Parliament to pass on. They seem to hope to appeal to some greedy impulse of some provincial leaders that they just might strike it rich, rather than appealing to them that through co-operation as Canadians they might strike it "equal". They offer to sell or give away some of our Crown corporations, appealing to the profit motive, instead of holding them in sacred trust for all Canadians for this and future generations.
Mr. Speaker, what we have seen so far is not dialogue by the federal government. Rather, it is a policy of passing out the goodies, and it fits all too well into the mentality of cynical machine politics, of political patronage, of how they keep them happy. But what will they do tomorrow when all has been given away from the federal store and there is nothing left, when they all start to fight with one another? Mr. Speaker, at present I see no dream. At present I sense no vision. I see only each of us being sent into self-centred solitudes and the dark night of reaction is setting in.
Ultimately we will have to go back to statesmanlike, courageous leadership that will resume the dialogue, which by definition involves confrontation, to leadership that on behalf of the federal government will speak the truth in love to this nation, singly and in its parts, and say "Our heritage fund is Canada".
Topic: ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE