Canada—A Community of Communities
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 9 Mar 1989, p. 271-284
Megarry, A. Roy, Speaker
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Item Type
Canada as a "Community of Communities"—a phrase coined by Joe Clark and what the speaker purports our country to be today. A look at the roots of this Community of Communities in order to better understand it. A brief "cross-country" historical review of our major communities, examining regional differences and differences in perceptions from "one end of Canada to the other." Factors influencing such differences, particularly that of geography. Some symbols and institutions that define our nation, and the strength of those symbols. An exploration of why some of those symbols don't apply, or don't work, or have taken so long to mean anything. Some political issues facing Canada: why we find it so difficult to discover our own nationhood. Finding strengths in what we are. The importance of government and political structures reflecting and representing what we actually are. An acceptance of a change in power-sharing arrangements. Canada as a perhaps illogical country, but a country nevertheless. The strengths of Canada.
Date of Original
9 Mar 1989
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CANADA - A COMMUNITY OF COMMUNITIES A. Roy Megarry Publisher, The Globe and Mail Chairman: A.A. van Straubenzee President


The subject who is truly loyal to the Chief Magistrate will neither advise nor submit to arbitrary measures. Junius. These words appear every day above the editorial section of The Globe and Mail.

The Globe and Mail, also known as "The Source," prepares us for our day. It is part of my daily breakfast. I can't seem to get going without Your Morning Smile, Jeffrey Simpson's column, The ROB, and Herman comics. There are, of course, the obituaries which I am unfortunately reading daily, Rosemary Sexton, Canada Life weather, the Horoscope, Crosswords and Arts and Entertainment. We advertise in The Globe and Mail and we use Infoglobe on-line information services. Dominion Fashion Magazine and Business Magazine are excellent as are Destinations and Broadcast Week.

Roy Megarry has been the publisher of this giant information vehicle, which is owned by Thomson Newspapers since 1978.

Oh the newspaper business. When a dog bites a man, that is not news because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog - that is news. "The Press! - What is the press? I cried when thus a wondrous voice replied ... In me all human knowledge dwells, the oracle of oracles, past, present, future I reveal or in oblivion's silence seal; What I can preserve can perish never, what I forgo is lost forever." James Montgomery, The Press.

The Globe and Mail, Canada's national newspaper, is printed each day via satellite in six Canadian cities and has a circulation of 330,000. The Globe operates its own domestic and international news bureaus. In addition to eight domestic bureaus, it maintains foreign bureaus in Africa, England, the United States, China, Japan, Latin America and Russia. Additional foreign bureaus will be opened in future years.

Prior to his appointment as Publisher of The Globe, Roy Megarry was Vice-President of Torstar, a communications conglomerate, and he was Director of Toronto Star Newspapers Limited. In this capacity he was the architect of Torstar's diversification into publishing and electronic publishing.

Roy Megarry was appointed Controller of Honeywell Canada at the age of 25 and his early career was spent mainly in the electronic industry in finance and general management. He also spent three years in Management Consulting with Coopers & Lybrand. He has his C.MA.

Megarry is a frequent speaker and writer on third-world development issues and has an ongoing commitment to raising funds and other forms of assistance for two technical schools in a slum of Lima, Peru.

He is a Director and member of the Executive Committee of the InterAmerican Press Association; a member of the Board of Directors of The Ireland Fund of Canada; and a member of the National Committee, the Aga Khan Foundation Canada.

In 1982, Roy Megarry and The Globe and Mail spearheaded the $1.5million fundraising campaign to build Canada's most northern modern theatre facility in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.

In April 1988, he was the recipient of the Canadian International Business Executive Of The Year award presented by the International Business Council of Canada. The award is to honour business executives who have demonstrated a high level of leadership and imagination in the promotion of Canadian business interests internationally. "Megarry is cited for speaking out on international issues of concern to Canadian business and for contributing to the social and economic advancement of the world community".

When he received his award he discussed a development project which The Globe and Mail sponsored in conjunction with Care Canada and asked Canadian businesses to donate light industrial machinery such as lathes, drill presses and welding equipment to the people of Villa El Salvador in a slum area of Lima, Peru. In closing his request, Megarry quoted former U.S. President John F. Kennedy: "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich:'

Megarry was born in Belfast, Ireland, and he emigrated to Canada in 1956 at the age of 19. He is known for enjoying opera, which is one of his loves outside of the newspaper business. There has been an awful lot of activity at The Globe recently, but we are not here to talk about that.

We warmly welcome Roy Megarry to the Empire Club to speak on Canada - a Community of Communities.

Roy Megarry:

Back in April 1981 I addressed your colleagues in the Canadian Club. The topic of my address was Ontario's Role in Confederation. The Canadian Club has not invited me back since! If this fate befell me with the Canadian Club because of what I had to say to them, I must warn you that I have not learned any lessons. I am with you today on much the same topic. I changed the title of my address in the hope that I could sneak past your censor board - and it appears to have worked.

You will remember that 1981 was the time of the controversy surrounding Prime Minister Trudeau's intention to unilaterally change the constitution prior to repatriating it from the United Kingdom. This was the time of the National Energy Program and the Foreign Investment Review Agency; programs that infuriated Western Canadians. This was the time when we had a separatist government in Quebec and an emerging separatist movement in Western Canada.

The unilateral constitutional changes which Pierre Trudeau threatened to introduce included giving Ontario and Quebec perpetual vetoes on constitutional amendments. The Government of Ontario gave its wholehearted support to the Trudeau government's proposals. But opposition from eight other provinces eventually forced the Trudeau government to make major amendments. Canada was really put to the test during that period. Never had feelings run so high.

At that time the Ontario Conservative government was urging Ontario federal Conservatives to vote against their federal Conservative leader. The federal NDP was at loggerheads with most of its provincial NDP colleagues. A separatist movement emerged in Alberta. Six provinces took the federal government to court. Alberta reduced the flow of oil to Eastern Canada because we were not prepared to pay 85 per cent of world prices for its oil. Bumper stickers conveyed the feelings of some Westerners - Let the Eastern bastards freeze in the dark. We paid foreigners world prices but not Albertans and, understandably, they didn't like it.

It was in the middle of all this that I addressed the Canadian Club on the topic of Ontario's role in Confederation. During that speech I mentioned that I had the opportunity as Publisher of The Globe and Mail to travel extensively across Canada and I had reached the conclusion that Torontonians were perhaps among the most parochial of Canadians. That may have done me in with the Canadian Club.

I still believe that Torontonians are among the most parochial of Canadians. I still believe it, but I'm older and wiser now and I'm not going to say it to the Empire Club in case You don't invite me back.

I accepted this invitation to address you today because I feel that not enough has changed since 1981.

My topic today is Canada -A Community of Communities. Joe Clark coined this phrase and I believe that it really sums up what Canada IS today. Not what some intellectuals and theorists want it to be - but what our country IS today.

Let's look at the roots of this Community of Communities of ours - then perhaps we will better understand it.

Most obvious of these communities is the one defined by our French/English language and cultural differences. This is most often seen as Quebec versus the rest of Canada, but of course it is much more complex than that.

Within Quebec there is a very substantial minority of English-speaking Quebeckers who see themselves as a distinct (and recently threatened) community. And there is a third community within Quebec consisting of the real founders of Canada - our native peoples.

There is a substantial minority of French-speaking Canadians in New Brunswick, in Northern Ontario and Manitoba - all of whom are concerned about language rights and the protection of their culture.

This Community of Communities is further exaggerated by the uneven economic development of our country - the source of have and have-not provinces; by the concentration of head offices, manufacturing and financial services in Toronto and Mon}real; by the dependence on agriculture and resources in Western Canada and the Atlantic provinces versus the more stable source of wealth in central Canada - manufacturing and services.

This sense of Community of Communities is further reinforced by the way Canada was populated during the past century. Wave upon wave of new immigrants - French, English, Scots, Irish, Italian, Ukrainians, Chinese, - and numerous others - settled in particular parts of our country.

They were not Canadians migrating from east to west, as happened in the United States. These were immigrants who brought to Canada their different attitudes, different skills, different aspirations. They endured unbelievable hardships; in the early days they opened up the wilderness; they developed the land. They came from ancient countries that had developed strong symbols, a sense of nationhood, distinct cultures. And they arrived in a country that had none of these symbols or trappings of nationhood. Under these circumstances is it surprising that we are a community of communities?

But it doesn't stop there.

The reasons for the differences in perception from one end of Canada to the other, have a great deal to do with our geography. We are not just a country, we are a continent. The second largest land mass in the world. Five times zones. In Europe it would take more than 20 different countries with 20 different languages to constitute the land mass of Canada.

If we want to start at the beginning in tracing the roots of this Community of Communities of ours, we don't start, as most people do, with our so-called "two founding peoples" - French and English. The real founders of Canada of course were our native peoples. The native people formed the original Community of Communities.

Given all this, plus the pull of our powerful neighbour to the south, the wonder is that we have survived as a country and developed our own national identity.

I was not born in Canada. I arrived on Canadian shores 33 years ago as a 19-year-old immigrant. So I never took anything for granted about Canada. I had to learn from experience.

I had been in Canada almost 10 years before I travelled outside southern Ontario. One experience on that trip will stay with me forever. And it has taught me more about the nature of this country of ours than anything that I have learned since.

I was a management consultant in those days and had been sent to Saint John, New Brunswick, to do some work for one of the K.C. Irving companies. During one of my early days on the assignment, one of the partners of the accounting firm responsible for the Irving audit asked me out to dinner. A typical Maritimer, he was a wonderful host, put me right at ease and we were having a great conversation. The subject turned to politics and more than once I heard him use the phrase "You people in Upper Canada." After the second or third such reference I said to him in amazement: "You use that phrase just as if we were from another country." He looked at me equally amazed and replied: "But of course we feel that way. You make us feel that way. We are Canadians - you people are Torontonians " And he was deadly serious. And I have' come to know that his view is shared by many Canadians.

I have briefly outlined some of the historical, geographical and economic reasons that have placed, and continue to place, obstacles in our path towards national unity. But 122 years after Confederation, with better communications and better transportation, one would have thought that many of these differences would have started to disappear.

It is easy to trot out the nation-building symbols such as: - The two national railroads in the early days of Confederation

- The CBC

- The TransCanada Highway - Air Canada

- The TransCanada PipeLine, and others.

These are all fine examples of political will at work building our sense of nationhood. We hear them referred to over and over again, so much so that I fear we have come to fall into the trap of believing that physical infrastructure - transportation and communications - defines a country.

Physical infrastructure in a country as large and complex as ours is certainly very important, and Canada would not have survived as an independent country without it. But there are other equally important factors, that are essential to building a sense of nationhood and national unity. Let's look at a few of these.

We only got around to having our own Canadian flag in 1965. It was only in 1947 that we could call ourselves Canadian on our passports - up until that time we were known as British subjects. It wasn't until 1982 that we could amend our . Constitution in our own Parliament. Prior to that time we had to go to Westminster. We have only had our own national anthem since 1967. The last province, Newfoundland, only joined Confederation in 1949.

And there was an outcry, particularly in Ontario, when we decided to abandon a foreign flag (the red ensign) in place of our own national flag.

Why did we attach so little importance to these issues? Why did it take so long to express our sense of nationhood through our own national symbols?

Then there is our treatment of Quebec - the home of one of our three founding peoples. Six million Canadians live there. Over five million of them are French speaking. They have clung tenaciously to their language and their culture against overwhelming odds.

If Canada is unique - and many of us think it is - surely one of the most important aspects of our uniqueness is Quebec and the French culture.

Quebeckers have played an important part in nationbuilding - from the voyageurs to Laurier, St. Laurent, and Trudeau. Since Europeans first landed in Canada, Quebeckers have played vitally important roles in exploring and developing our country. For most of the period since Confederation, Montreal was the industrial and financial heartland of Canada. Yet up until the 1960s English-speaking Canadians dominated the economic life of Quebec. The quiet revolution began the process of change.

Why have some of us been so resentful of their differences and the survival of their language and culture? Why did we drive Quebeckers to believing it necessary to form a separatist party and electing a separatist government in the late 1970s? Why didn't we admire their determination to cause their culture to survive? Why were we not more generous, sooner, in encouraging and assisting the survival of their culture in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada?

If French-speaking Quebec and English-speaking Quebec have felt alienated - with each other - and with the rest of the country - there are reasons for that alienation. They are two of the communities that make up our country. They have different priorities, different languages, different cultures, different aspirations - and the same rights as the rest of us to pursue them. If we in Ontario want to have national unity we have to not just accept this but be prepared to help them achieve their aspirations.

Now let me switch from Quebec and culture - to Western Canada and economics.

For over 80 years central Canada benefitted from a tariff policy that caused our manufacturing sector to flourish. A tariff policy that created enormous wealth for Ontario but at the same time forced the rest of the country to pay more than world prices for our manufactured goods. This tariff policy has been a source of east-west tension for decades.

With the escalation of oil prices in the 1970s Western Canadians felt that their day in the sun had arrived. But the political power of central Canada produced the National Energy Program and a two-price system for oil and gas. We were prepared to pay foreigners world prices but not Western Canadians. We were prepared to observe other countries allowing escalating energy prices to expedite energy conservation while central Canada continued with its wasteful ways.

We were prepared to force the rest of the country to pay more than world prices for consumer goods in order to foster manufacturing in central Canada - but central Canada was not prepared to pay world prices for oil and gas.

And were you surprised when a separatist movement emerged in Western Canada? Were you surprised when the flow of oil was reduced to central Canada? Were you surprised to learn about another community in Canada - a community that felt that it was not getting its fair shake out of Confederation?

And, more recently, we have the spectacle of the Ontario Government opposing the Free Trade Agreement with the United States - using the spurious argument that we should pursue the GATT route instead.

Put yourself in the position of a Western Canadian observing Ontario's position on this issue. Here is a province, Ontario, that has benefitted enormously from a form of free trade in automobiles with the U.S., but is telling the rest of the country that it will oppose an expansion of free trade into other products and services. Then, to add insult to injury, when Ontario is presented with the GATT ruling on wine, it threatens to defy that GATT ruling.

Both positions leave Ontario with little credibility that it has the interests of the county at heart.

FIRA, the Foreign Investment Review Agency, was another thorn in the side of the provinces east and west of Ontario and Quebec. Think about it. For most of this century foreign capital had played a vital role in building the economies of Ontario and Quebec. Then when the Federal Government decided Ontario and Quebec had had enough of it, through FIRA, they place impediments in the way of other provinces who desperately needed investment and didn't care whether it was domestic or foreign.

It was a Federal Government policy that caused a $600-million petro chemical facility to be built it Sarnia in 1976, using oil as the feedstock. Alberta wanted tc ie natural gas as the feedstock and produce it in Alberta. W, had a shortage of oil and a surplus of natural gas. Yet we went ahead with the Sarnia facility.

Does it really come as a surprise to Torontonians that we are not as united as you would like us to be?

Repatriating our Constitution, creating our own national flag, introducing our own national anthem - creating these national symbols - all of these events should have contributed to nation-building. But at that time they created disunity. And we can't blame God and nature and geography for that. We brought it on ourselves. And if you add programs such as NEP and FIRA and many others, too often, these seeds of disunity have been sown right here in central Canada.

We want to make our manufacturing sector competitive - cheap oil and gas from the West will help.

We are concerned about the scale of foreign investment in central Canada - discourage it through the whole country.

We want to speak English in Montreal and be understood but we do not want to provide the same facilities to French Canadians outside Quebec.

How many of us got excited about the prohibition of English signs in Montreal? And how many of us got excited about the fact that a French-speaking Canadian, an elected representative, was refused permission to speak in French in the Alberta legislature?

And the media contribute to this sense of alienation between various communities that make up Canada.

Let's start with ownership.

- The Southam chain of newspapers which owns the dominant newspapers in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton, is based in Toronto.

- Toronto Sun Publishing owns the No. 2 newspapers in Calgary and Edmonton.

- Thomson Newspapers, which owns The Globe, is based in Toronto and owns the major newspapers in Victoria and Winnipeg. Thomson also owns 10 other newspapers in Western Canada.

- The Globe and Mail (Canada's National Newspaper or Canada's so-called national newspaper, or Canada's selfstyled national newspaper) is headquartered in Toronto. - Maclean's Magazine and a dozen other mass circulation magazines are headquartered in central Canada.

- In broadcasting, the CBC and CTV networks are headquartered here, And on and on ...

Western Canada and Canadians in our Atlantic provinces learn about Canada through the eyes of media outlets headquartered in Toronto. What's important in Canada is too often determined by central Canada media outlets.

Let me give an example from my own newspaper to make the point. I was in Vancouver two weeks ago and opened up my copy of The Globe and Mail to read two front page stories headed: - "Toronto courtroom sees Western-style meting out of justice:" - "Toronto Catholics face year's wait before they can march to the alter."

Fortunately for me, I left town early that morning and did not have to explain to Vancouverites why these earthshattering events in Toronto were important to them. Or why we had invested tens of millions of dollars to develop a national newspaper that could speed news of these breathtaking events in Toronto to their doorstep.

I know why these things happen and William Thorsell thinks he knows how to put a stop to it. Every central Canada based media outlet is guilty of it.

How do you feel about an elected Senate? How do you feel about an equal and effective Senate - the Tripel-E Senate? This is shaping up to be the next battle ground, the next test of national unity, the next clash of our Community of Communities.

Given the experiences of the other provinces, other than

Ontario and Quebec, why wouldn't they want a Triple-E Senate? And where do you stand on Meech Lake? Does it bother you that we have a Constitution not agreed to by our second largest province? Supposing Ontario had not signed the Constitutional Accord in 1981. Would you consider it legitimate? If the other provinces and other interest groups were all clamouring to have their special interests addressed in the next constitutional amendment - without first getting Ontario on board - how would you feel? I'll tell you how you'd feel. You'd be madder than hell. You'd feel alienated. You'd feel like an outcast. You'd feel like no one was taking you seriously.

Perceptions are everything. How do Torontonians perceive the rest of the country? How does the rest of the country perceive Torontonians? We have to make a greater effort to put ourselves in the shoes of the other communities that make up Canada.

Inflationary pressures are building up in Toronto. The Bank of Canada forces up interest rates to put a damper on things. As a result, the rest of the country suffers from our excesses. In this instance I don't disagree with the Central Bank's policy (we can't have a policy of higher interest rates in Ontario and lower interest rates elsewhere - it just won't work) but if we have not built up a storehouse of goodwill over the years; if we have not demonstrated a willingness to be sensitive to the needs and aspirations of other parts of the country - then don't be surprised if the Bank of Canada policy is referred to as the Bank of Toronto policy. And don't be surprised if other provinces feel a need for a Triple-E Senate.

Think about the dilemma we are facing. Quebec and the Western Provinces want more provincial autonomy. Most of the provinces, except Quebec and Ontario, want a greater say at the federal level - the Triple-E Senate for example. How are we going to reconcile these differences?

All of us observing the struggle taking place between our various communities - the native people's land claims and demands for self-government, Meech Lake, the Free Trade

Agreement, a Triple-E Senate to name just a few - all of us observing this process should be aware of what happens when existing political structures do not adequately represent important segments of the society that they are supposed to serve. When this happens, it is inevitable that frustration will grow, and if these forces are persistent enough and powerful enough, they will one way or another cause these political structures to be changed.

It was this situation that provoked a Quiet Revolution in Quebec; it was this situation that produced a separatist party and a separatist government in Quebec. It was this situation that produced a constitutional crisis in 1981. Seven provinces (excluding Ontario, New Brunswick and Quebec) forced the federal government to back down. And it is happening right now in Alberta with their decision to hold elections to elect candidates for the Senate. Western Canadians have been complaining for decades that they are dissatisfied with the existing political power-sharing arrangement. In central Canada we haven't taken these complaints seriously enough - so now we are headed for a confrontation.

Globe and Mail reporter Susan Delacourt in a story on Saturday, February 18, reported that:

11 . . . More than 120 years after the nation was founded, a populist movement of western farmers and frontiersmen pulled together their own senate election, in which every voter would help to choose the next representative. It would not have the force of law, but it might exert enough political pressure across the country to change the system forever. It worked.

This is not the story of Alberta in 1989, but of Oregon early in the century."

By 1913 all the states were following suit and thus the 17th amendment to the United States Constitution was born whereby senators were elected.

Ontario has a vital role to play in helping to resolve the current stresses and strains in Confederation and I ask all of you to open your hearts; to open your minds; to work harder at understanding Canada; to recognize that there are legitimate reasons for the differences in perceptions and aspirations among the different regions of our great country. And to work harder at understanding Canada so that we can make our contribution to the solution of our current problems. To accept the fact that the power-sharing arrangements in our country are going to have to change.

There is nothing particularly logical about Canada. If we simply wanted to be logical, we'd look at North-South alliances, not East-West ones. We are Canadians because of what we feel in our hearts and it's time for all of us in Ontario to open up our hearts to assist other provinces to realize their potential - as we have achieved ours.

Canada, our Canada, is a country of spectacular beauty, of immense riches, of inspired people, of great accomplishments and even greater promise. It is also a country of endless argument, of political indecision, and of enormous preoccupation with whether it should be a country at all. We are a country of choices and challenges. What better place to be?

The appreciation of the meeting was expressed by Larry Stout; Partner, Fraser Kelly Corpworld Incorporated, and a Director of the Empire Club of Canada.

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Canada—A Community of Communities

Canada as a "Community of Communities"—a phrase coined by Joe Clark and what the speaker purports our country to be today. A look at the roots of this Community of Communities in order to better understand it. A brief "cross-country" historical review of our major communities, examining regional differences and differences in perceptions from "one end of Canada to the other." Factors influencing such differences, particularly that of geography. Some symbols and institutions that define our nation, and the strength of those symbols. An exploration of why some of those symbols don't apply, or don't work, or have taken so long to mean anything. Some political issues facing Canada: why we find it so difficult to discover our own nationhood. Finding strengths in what we are. The importance of government and political structures reflecting and representing what we actually are. An acceptance of a change in power-sharing arrangements. Canada as a perhaps illogical country, but a country nevertheless. The strengths of Canada.