The Canadian Union—Future Prospects
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 5 Nov 1964, p. 62-73
Fulton, The Honourable E. Davie, Speaker
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Three steps on the Confederation dialogue: to state what it is we are agreed upon, as Canadians; to discuss where it is we differ; to agree on what accommodations are to be made "in order that Canadians may harmoniously pursue national goals and give effect to a common national purpose." The speaker's conversations around the country. Some remarks about the patterns of Canadian life in the second century of nationhood. Gaining a consensus and what that consensus will recognize. Economic issues. English-French relations. Working towards Canada's future.
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5 Nov 1964
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The Canadian Union--Future Prospects
CHAIRMAN, The President, Lt. Col. Robert H. Hilbom


I first met Davie Fulton in Italy in 1944 in what is affectionately remembered as the "Spaghetti League." During the latter days of the Canadian effort there and the "Operation Goldflake" move to Northwest Europe both of us spent a good deal of time attempting to control movement within our respective formations. The degree to which we were successful can be indicated by my saying that to the best of my knowledge all Canadian troops and vehicles are now out of Italy.

Our speaker, by that time, had been graduated by St. John's College, Oxford where as a Rhodes Scholar he had, if we are to believe Stephen Leacock, been "smoked at by his tutor, fed in Henry VIII's kitchen and had slept in a tangle of ivy," and, though still in his 20's, he had been admitted to the Bar.

When this competent and popular Major of the Seaforths, D.A.A.G. of 1st Canadian Division, left to run in the General Election of 1945 I, along with countless Canadians, began to watch his political career with the greatest interest, and we continue to do so.

He descends from a grandfather and a great uncle who were Premiers of British Columbia; the latter having also been Chief Justice of the Province and a father who, after holding several key cabinet posts in the British Columbia Government, served as a Federal Member of Parliament. The Honourable Davie Fulton has honoured this goodly heritage by his own outstanding contributions.

Parliamentary Government has been described as the worst possible method of governing a free people-except any possible alternative. Last summer when our elected representatives in Ottawa appeared to many to be supporting this description, a friend of mine who shall be nameless, opined that the last person to approach the Legislative Assembly in the proper frame of mind was Guy Fawkes.

I cannot imagine that there is anything appropriate in having one of Canada's greatest Justice Ministers address us on Guy Fawkes Day. Mr. Fulton's approach to reform is along somewhat more constitutional lines than that taken this day 359 years ago.

He is publicly interested in the vital question of the decade and dedicates himself to ensuring that we and our heritage are not soon parted.

Another good Tory Parliamentarian, Edmund Burke, said almost 200 years ago, "Abstract liberty, Sir, like other mere abstractions is not to be found! Liberty inheres in some sensible object." Gentlemen, it is my honour to present a most sensible object-The Honourable E. Davie Fulton who will address us on "The Canadian Union-Future Prospects."


. . . . No city has come to know the phenomenon of radical change more intimately than Toronto. In population alone, one-third of your metropolitan area-nearly 600,000 people-are newcomers from foreign lands. They have transformed a relatively homogeneous population, and they have changed the face and character of this city. They have added to its cultural life and contributed to its economy. They have retained something of their previous national identities in the use of their language, in the development of their organizations and in their publications. They brought with them part of their heritage, but they left behind their laws, their political institutions and their citizenship, to adopt ours.

What they have adopted is citizenship of and within an existing political framework known as Canada. I am here today to speak of the Canada to which they came, of which they and we are, for the time being, the custodians, and whose first century as a nation will soon be completed. They found no utopia here, for we had not achieved one. They now share the problems that are common to all Canada and all Canadians. Sometimes, they experience some of our economic problems more heavily than the rest of us, for as newcomers they are more vulnerable to them.

As Canadians they share in the concern with and the responsibility for a satisfactory approach to the central issue of our time-the future of Confederation, the strengthening of the Canadian Union. For with us, they are heirs to the legacy of Macdonald, Brown, Tupper, Galt, Tilley, Howeyes, and Cartier, Langevin, Chapais, Tache. It is a great and unique legacy among the nations of the world, and perhaps because it is so great and unique, it is often uncomfortable and always exacting. What is this legacy? Is it relevant today for Canadians native-born or new? Can Confederation work, and what must we do to make it work? These are questions which I have been asking, and trying to answer, in a series of speeches this year on the Canadian Union.

Initially, I said that what has come to be known as the Confederation dialogue should proceed in three steps: first, to state what it is we are agreed upon, as Canadians; second, to discuss where it is we differ; and third, to agree on what accommodations are to be made in order that Canadians may harmoniously pursue national goals and give effect to a common national purpose. In other words, to lay down the terms of reference, then expose and confront the problems, and within that framework to agree upon their solution.

In Saskatoon last March, I tried to define the concept upon which Canada was founded. The concept is one of a union with a strong central and cohesive power, a union encompassing the partnership of two principal, founding races, and four, now ten, provinces. A union designed to be greater and stronger than any of its parts, or than the sum of its parts, deriving strength from its parts, while giving and sharing strength to and with its parts. A union based upon a concept of duality and partnership that is distinctly Canadian.

In Montreal last April, I attempted to sort out the principal problems now facing the Canadian Union: in the economic field, the question of the financial ability of all the provinces, and especially a suddenly resurgent Quebec, to carry out new and dynamic programs in the areas for which they are responsible: education, welfare, power and industrial development; in the cultural field, the legitimate demand of French Canadians for a proportionate role in Confederation, and for an effective citizenship as partners in the Union, not only in one province but in ten.

In Nanaimo last May, I referred to some of the great material blessings which are Canada's, and I said that these impose upon our wealthy country a special responsibility as well as an opportunity to work out our passing problems.

In Vancouver during the Dominion Day holiday, I said that if we can strengthen and perfect the racial partnership, the dual heritage, that is ours, Canadians will be better and more effective citizens of a world growing ever smaller.

In Quebec yesterday, I spoke to my friends on the basis that they, like us, accept the Canadian hypothesis-accept that the problem is not one of how best we can go our separate ways, but rather how we build and develop, on the foundation of the Union we have established, a future that is more meaningful, more acceptable, to all of us. I said that it is important for them to realize that there is a new start abroad today in English-speaking Canada, that much progress has been made on our side in understanding their position and moving towards an acceptance in fact, as well as in words, of the concept of true equality of status between our two cultures in Canada. I invited them to admit, in their turn, that there is an obligation on their part to join us in the continuing dialogue of Confederation-to turn their minds outwards to the wider horizon and the opportunities open to them of full participation in the process of building Canada, not evermore inwards to a stultifying preoccupation with their problems as a people exclusively of Quebec. I said that if they join us in a continuing dialogue of building Confederation, they will find us ready to face realistically the accommodations that we should make to bring to reality some of the concepts of partnership and equality which they say, with some justification, have been honoured more in the breach than in the observance. I said we would talk together, you and I, in English-speaking Canada, about those accommodations, mental and physical, that English-speaking Canada should be prepared to make.

What, then, do we say today in this old city, in this new Toronto, about the patterns of Canadian life in the second century of our nationhood? First, we must agree that it is worth effort and sacrifice to continue as a country. Second, that the question of these efforts, sacrifices or accommodations is one, not of concessions grudgingly given, but, of new methods of achieving common ends. We ought not to ask ourselves "How much do I dare demand?" or "How much do I dare concede?" but "How much do we enable the Canadian Union to grow from strength to strength?" Third, that it is within the concept and within the framework of Confederation-not outside it-that we will solve our problems, realize the dreams of our founders and be worthy of the hopes of millions who have made Canada their new home. Fourth, that while we mistrust solution by slogan or simple formula; while we abstain from emotionalism and extremism; while we deplore a hesitant and confused approach to the problems, we must ourselves accept the responsibility to state and to commit ourselves to a clear position which the millions of average, moderate, thoughtful people in this country will support. We must devise a blueprint for those who would rather build than tear down. If there is a vacuum of leadership in dealing with these problems, it must be filled by a nation with wide consensus of common sense.

With regard to the economic aspects of our Union, this consensus will recognize that it is inherent in the concept of Confederation that the power and authority which was left with the central government in the tax fields be not asserted or exercised to the point where provincial governments are disabled or inhibited from discharging their responsibilities to their people. It will recognize that the resolution of differences in this field must be, in the future as it has been in the past, by way of discussion and adjustment. Adjustment, but with every proposal being weighed in the light of the dual criterion: is it in accord with the basic concept of union? That is, first does it promote or does it inhibit the discharge of federal responsibilities-including the responsibility to be strong enough to assist the weaker parts of the Union? And second does it conform to the concept that within the union the provincial governments shall be strong enough to do their jobs, and in turn gather strength and benefit from the Union?

This consensus will recognize that one of the central facts of Dominion-Provincial relations today is that fields which the constitution assigned primarily to the provinces are placing new and unforeseen demands on the provincial authorities. It will recognize that the pendulum which has swung back and forth between the federal authority and the provinces in the past, is now swinging towards the provinces. And we should be prepared to allow some movement, so long as we maintain the balance that prevents its swing from shattering the frame. This balance is the criterion, the concept of union. This consensus will recognize that in order for the Union to work effectively, each province must be able to discharge its development role fully; and that there must be co-ordination so that these roles are carried out in unison; so that all parts of the country move ahead together; so that Canada does not become balkanized; and so that dangerous and self-defeating inter-provincial rivalries do not develop.

It will accept that new arrangements are necessary, involving the provincial governments more fully in the setting and achieving of national objectives. These arrangements might include the following:

First, to arrive at an agreement and a working arrangement between Ottawa and the provinces to forecast their revenue needs and their spending programs.

Second, to review the allocation of spending responsibilities as between the two levels of government, and specifically to examine all the joint cost programs in highways, hospitals, resource development and so on--to avoid duplication, and to prevent financial crises either at the federal or the provincial level.

Third, we must match this fiscal planning by beginning on an economic development program for Canada as a whole. This will be in part a responsibility of the Economic Council of Canada. But the Economic Council of Canada will be advisory only, and will be advising only the federal government. What is clearly needed is co-operation in economic development at both levels.

There may be some who think that unbridled competition between the provinces, with Ottawa surrendering all fiscal and economic authority, is just what Canada needs. But I can see in that case our central government, elected by and for all Canada, in the position of a sled driver with ten snarling, hungry, husky dogs all pulling on different leashes in different directions. My own view is that it is better to have some meshing of these plans. It must not include a vetoConfederation is not the U.N. Security Council-but it does have to be on a basis of working toward a common goal and a purposeful direction, that of bringing Canada to full, stable maturity as quickly as possible.

The problems facing Confederation in the economic field are not issues between English and French Canada. They are shared by all provinces and by the central government. But there is no doubt that the question of Dominion-Provincial financial arrangements arises particularly in Quebec because the people of that province are undergoing a cultural and economic renaissance which brings with it a realization that they have far to go, much to do, to participate not only in Canada's future but even to realize their full potential within their own province. And when they look for reasons why they have this gap to close, is it not natural that they should look, not to any shortcomings in their own previous attitudes and practices-as English Canadians are too prone to invite them to do-but to the national framework within which they live? Remember they are looking not only at the question of the responsibility for past deficiencies but also at the areas where changes could be made to accommodate the new surge of self-expression.

I believe it is natural, and that we should welcome the invitation it provides for us all to make an examination of the adequacy of the system to the needs and problems of Canada in the second century of Confederation ... bearing in mind that detailed changes in the operation of the system must accord with the true concept of Union.

It also invites and challenges us outside Quebec to examine ourselves: are we as vital as they? Do we have the same confidence in the future, in our ability to meet the future, as Canadians, as they have in their ability to meet it within Quebec? Are we as prepared as they to examine new methods, to see if working relationships can be re-adjusted so that all of us can achieve our destiny as Canadians?

If we ask them to share our concept of a nation, of the Canadian Union, it is equally necessary that we should together examine the part that they and we can play in it, the ways that they and we can realize and fulfil ourselves in it. For let it be clear that for Canada to continue as a nation, the rest of the country needs Quebec as much as Quebec needs us. So, while we insist on remaining true to the concept of union, while we reject utterly the false doctrines of separatism, quasi-separatism and a Canadian diarchy, we also put from our minds totally and completely the attempt to solve our problems or suggest that the basis of our nationbuilding is the assertion that the French Canadians are a "conquered race".

The fact is that the French-Canadians are partners in Confederation, their culture, language and religious rights and status guaranteed by the Constitution of the Canadian Union which their genius helped to shape. This was a great and uniquely Canadian concept, and we have achieved some magnificent things within it. We will only continue to do these things if we look for solution to our common problems on the basis of common action, not ultimatums. We must remember Professor Underhill's reminder that "men living together are a nation not because of racial homogeneity or cultural identity but only if they are united by a sense of having accomplished great things together in the past and a readiness to do great things together in the future".

None of the solutions to the problems between English and French Canada in the field of culture and language will be easy. Some of them, however, are more clear than others. First, any concept of partnership demands that a French speaking Canadian going to the capital of his country, or living in an area in which both official languages are widely used, should be able to discuss his own business in his own tongue. Efforts to foster and encourage and where necessary to require bilingualism in the federal civil service will hurt nobody, will be an asset to our country, and will be just and practical.

Second, there is the fact that French Canadians have not enjoyed even a proportionate representation in the upper ranks of the public service of Canada. There may have been some measure of explanation for this in the basic structure of the Quebec education system: although personally I think this an excuse rather than a justification. But anyway, the education reforms in Quebec are changing all that very appreciably: there will be more and more recruits for the public service from that province, competing on equal terms with anybody from any part of Canada, and Canada will be the richer for it.

Third, there has been the problem of lack of even proportional French-speaking representation in the senior ranks of Canadian companies, especially those based in or doing substantial business in Quebec. Whether careless or deliberate it matters not-too often the policy has been that French Canadians have been relegated to, and have remained in the lower echelons as foremen and "woods bosses" while "only English Canadians need apply" for the senior management positions. Again, it is to be hoped and expected that the "enlightened self interest" of these companies as well as the increasing emphasis placed in Quebec's education system on professional, managerial and scientific training, will redress this grievance.

Fourth, a related problem which appears to be the most difficult of all that face our Canadian Union, the status of French Canadian minorities outside Quebec. It appears dif cult largely because it will be solved only by action of the provincial governments concerned; and they will take action only if and when there is a consensus among their populations to support it. In a national company, for example, the way to promotion may well include, of necessity, service in various parts of Canada. What then of the person from Quebec who is transferred to Halifax, Toronto, or Vancouver? He will find that there is little or no opportunity outside the home, for his children to learn the French language or be exposed, even minimally, to French Canadian culture or history. If you or I and our families are transferred from Halifax, Toronto or Vancouver, to Montreal, Quebec City or Three Rivers, we will find English language schools established and supported by the government of Quebec, where we can have our children educated in the language and culture that is ours.

The point is-and this, I believe, is at the nub of the whole Confederation problem-that the French Canadian feels that as a French Canadian he too has a place to occupy, and a contribution to make, to the Union of which he is an integral part. We in English Canada cannot continue to complain that French speaking people in Quebec are not behaving like broad-minded, total Canadians, we cannot continue to tell them in one breath that they ought not to be so isolated, so parochial, so provincial: if, in the next breath, we try to tell them to establish a ghetto for themselves in Quebec. What kind of total commitment to Canada as a whole do we expect of them, if we insist that they be true Canadians, citizens of all Canada-and then warn them that they must leave their language, their culture, in Quebec and aspire to no status, no privilege, and for them in effect no citizenship outside Quebec? Especially when we know full well that the non-French minority in Quebec province is treated far more handsomely than any French speaking minority in any other province of Canada.

Finally, in our approach to these problems, we do have to think of our children and our grandchildren, who will be citizens, not only of Canada, but of a world growing smaller; citizens of a world of interdependence which, as it draws men closer and makes men more communicative, makes them at the same time more competitive. There is no mistaking, no denying, no defying, no postponing this wave of the future. The nations of the world have to turn out citizens equipped not just for their countries, but for the world, for such is the way events are moving, inexorably, relentlessly.

We in Canada, in Toronto and Vancouver as in Quebec, happen to be in a position where we can turn out a superior human product for this future. To the extent that our child ren and grandchildren are exposed to the two cultures, to the two languages which form our historic and official heritage, we will place our children and grandchildren not just a step but a good mile ahead of other nations with whom they will have to compete in this new world order of things. And Canada itself will have a prouder and more important role to play.

In working toward this future, our job as moderate, thoughtful Canadians who have an interest in and a stake in the future of our country is to state our position, agree on our objectives, and develop a consensus to support them. We must then carry them forward. Where legislation is required, let us legislate. Where action of individuals or private companies is needed, let us act.

In this city, a man can feel the ever quickening tempo of Canadian life. He may come to this city from elsewhere in Canada or as millions have from abroad, because he will find much of the source of Canada's vitality here.

In this city we are reminded inexorably again of Professor Underhill's definition:

"What makes (men) into a nation is not necessarily community of race, language and religion ... it is their common history and traditions, their experience of living together, their having done great things together in the past and their determination to do great things together in the future."

This is a city that knows change and is not afraid of it. Throughout Canada, we have to put aside false fears and old prejudices and get to work on the arrangements that will be worthy of Canada's past and will measure up to the potential of our future.


Thanks of this meeting were expressed by Mr. Alexander Stark, Q.c., a Past President of the Empire Club.

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The Canadian Union—Future Prospects

Three steps on the Confederation dialogue: to state what it is we are agreed upon, as Canadians; to discuss where it is we differ; to agree on what accommodations are to be made "in order that Canadians may harmoniously pursue national goals and give effect to a common national purpose." The speaker's conversations around the country. Some remarks about the patterns of Canadian life in the second century of nationhood. Gaining a consensus and what that consensus will recognize. Economic issues. English-French relations. Working towards Canada's future.