My Vision of Canada
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 22 Oct 1993, p. 145-157
Campbell, The Rt. Hon. Kim, Speaker
Media Type
Item Type
A joint meeting of The Empire Club of Canada and The Canadian Club of Toronto.
An overview of Canada as it has been, and the challenges it faces in a changing world economically, socially, politically and culturally. The government's policies to deal with the challenges: hold the line on taxes; a commitment to elimination of the deficit; stimulate economic growth and job creation; reform federal-provincial relations. Why Ms. Campbell feels that she and her government are the best to deal with the challenges.
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22 Oct 1993
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Full Text
The Rt. Hon. Kim Campbell, Prime Minister of Canada
Chairman: Isabel Bassett
President, The Canadian Club of Toronto

Head Table Guests

Herbert I. Phillipps Jr., Vice-President, Trust and Securities Services, Royal Bank of Canada and President-Elect, The Canadian Club of Toronto; Denise Cole, Progressive Conservative Candidate, Beaches-Woodbine and a Director, The Empire Club of Canada; Reverend Patrick Paas, All Nations Christian Reformed Church; Delores Lawrence, President and CEO, Nursing and Homemakers Inc. and President, African Canadian Entrepreneurs; David MacDonald, Member of Parliament, Rosedale; Sharifa Khan, Executive Vice-President, Balmoral Communications Inc. and Vice-President, The Canadian Club of Toronto; Eric Jackman, President, Invicta Investments Incorporated and President, The Empire Club of Canada; Libby Burnham, Q.C., Counsel, Borden & Elliot and a Director, The Canadian Club of Toronto; Teresa Wong, Investment Adviser, Nesbitt Thomson Inc., Governor, Sheridan College and President, Mississauga Chinese Business Association; John Bankes, President, Nova Bancorp Group and a Director, The Empire Club of Canada.

Kim Campbell

This is an important time in Canadian history. On October 25, Canadians will elect a prime minister and a government. The vision of that prime minister will set the direction for Canada in the 1990s and that is why today, as the Prime Minister of Canada and the leader of my party and as someone who is seeking a new mandate from the Canadian people, I want to share with you my vision of our country, the challenges that I see for Canada, and the direction that I will give to Canada if Canadians give me a mandate on October 25.

As a Member of Parliament, as a Minister and as a Prime Minister, I've had that rare and wonderful privilege of seeing our country whole. Not just geographically but in terms of its people. We have created in Canada a unique social and political culture. There are many different ways of being Canadian. But there are essential values and ways of doing things that tie us together. Canada is not just that part of North America, that isn't the United States or Mexico. We are not just some corporate convenience, we are not just a place that issues postage stamps or passports. We are a place of real worth, of real accomplishment. Barbara Ward, the great British thinker, once described Canada as the first international country, and she wasn't just talking about our make-up as a country, she was talking about the way we relate to one another, and how we reach out to the world.

In this very large and challenging land, we have needed our neighbours. In Canada working together was much more than just a choice, it has meant survival. The defining moments of Canadian history have reflected those times when the virtues of reaching out and seeing the larger vision have shone through. Confederation itself was an example of that. Building the railroad which brought my own province into Confederation, creating medicare for every single Canadian man, woman and child, and inventing peace-keeping for the whole world are other examples.

We have also seen a different kind of vision in Canada. A tendency to act in narrow, local terms, to form into factions, to fight for a cause, more than a country, are the easy politics of pitting region against region. We have survived that darker side of our history, but only because individual Canadians have been willing to stand up and fight for the larger Canada. For the larger vision, for the Canada that reaches out with confidence, the Canada that stands firmly against the forces of resentment and revenge, we need that large Canadian spirit more than ever today.

Economically, we are facing competition from countries that we had hardly even heard of a decade ago. The world doesn't just automatically buy our products the way it used to. We can't simply take for granted the prosperity of our children. In a changing world, Canada cannot stand still, we cannot except the status quo.

Society is changing too. We see changing family patterns, an aging population, and the very pervasive influence of mass communications on our values and expectations. The world itself is hardly recognizable from what we took for granted about a decade ago. We've seen the end of the Cold War, but in its place, we have more real wars now. International institutions like the United Nations that were made ineffective by Cold War realities are now struggling to come to terms with these changes, struggling to find the capacity to act. Governments themselves are under attack all over the world and particularly here in Canada. They are under attack by populations that are more informed, more assertive than ever before. The challenge today is not for Canadians to catch up to government. But for government to catch up to Canadians.

How can we respond to the challenges of the nineties?

I believe that our approach must be based on realism, co-operation and putting people first. We can't succeed by pretending that the old black and white distinctions still exist or still matter. We are beyond ideology as an economy and as a society. Deficits do matter. Jobs matter. Taxes matter. Social programmes matter. They all matter and each can only be addressed by addressing the others. To say that this era of tax-and-spend government is over is not statement of preference, it's a statement of the modern Canadian reality. We will suffer as a country if we do not elect a government that accepts that new reality.

In the course of this campaign I have set out a clear vision of what I think the government's priorities on the economy should be. And I give them, not in any particular order.

First of all, we need to hold the line on taxes because this country simply cannot afford to pay more taxes. Taxes kill jobs and Canadians are already taxed to the limit of their ability without destroying our economic productivity and our competitiveness.

We need to commit to eliminating the deficit. Why? Because unless we eliminate the deficit we would deny our children all that we worked to create. We will deny them the capacity to be the caring society that we know Canada must be. We will deny them the opportunity to make choices in the democratic arena, because all of those choices will be made by a fiscal necessity brought on by the crisis that will surely come if we do not once and for all stop the growth of that snowball known as the national debt.

We must also stimulate economic growth and job creation through four areas. In training and education, never before have Canadians had a greater need of government's good offices and strategic planning and providing them with the tools to participate meaningfully in the labour force.

We need to support small business, that sector of the economy that is creating the most jobs in Canada and that suffers from a chronic shortage of capital.

We need to support our exports, not only to secure access to export markets around the world, moving beyond North America into the Pacific Rim and further into this hemisphere, but we also have to ensure that Canadian businesses maximize their capacity to export. Thirty per cent of our wealth today in Canada is earned by exports and there is much more potential there. In a country like Canada, a tiny population and a huge land mass, we can never sustain the standard of living that we enjoy today unless we trade with the rest of the world.

And finally, investment in science and technology, supporting research and development. We are a country that has built our economy on natural resources. But the natural resource that will secure our well-being and our prosperity in the 21st century is the natural resource of our intellect, of our creativity, of our innovations, and we have to make sure that we are applying that creativity to the challenges before us and that we commercialize the results here in Canada. Innovations and ideas that are created in Canada must come to the Canadian marketplace and create jobs in this country.

We must also enter a new era of federal-provincial relations. We need a national fiscal plan. It is no longer possible for us to deal with our debt and deficit problems unilaterally, one level of government at a time. We don't just have a $32 billion federal deficit, we have a $60 billion national deficit. Our federal and provincial governments' deficits taken together are putting the pressure on long-term interest rates in this country, driving up the cost of capital and killing jobs in Canada.

We need to work with the provinces to reform our social programmes, to make it possible for Canadians to get out of the cycle of dependency and back into the labour force. We need to eliminate the overlap and duplication between our levels of government. It is time to stop elbowing one another out of the way and fighting over jurisdictional turf and pride of place. It is time to remember that we are all here to serve Canadians.

I am the first Prime Minister of Canada to have served at three levels of government. I think that it is very important that we remember that division of labour is not there to satisfy our egos or our desire to exercise power; it is there to serve Canadians well.

My party is the only party in this election that has set forth a plan based on this balanced approach. If we follow this programme we will see immediate improvements. We are seeing immediate improvements. But we will also be able to enter the 21st century which is only a short time away, as a country that is finally paying down its debt, with unemployment considerably diminished and Canadians optimistic as they look to a future which they then will come to see as brighter than the past. Unless we meet our economic challenges we will be hard pressed to meet our social challenges. Economic scarcity exacerbates the tensions and strains in society at the same time that resources are limited to deal with those stresses and strains. And this brings me to another theme of our campaign--doing politics differently.

There is absolutely no question that Canadians are feeling cynical and alienated from governments, from politics and from politicians. It is a phenomenon that is not limited to Canada, but that is no comfort to us. We hear the question around the world, where are the great leaders, and everywhere there is a lack of confidence and trust in political processes. As I said before, the challenge is for government to catch up with Canadians and that is why I put such a high priority on democratic reform. Canadians believe that politicians are out of touch, and in many cases they are right. Perks and special privileges represent to Canadians the self-serving use of power by those who get to make their own rules.

And that is why I have tackled this issue so strongly; by committing to bring MP's pensions into line with pensions in the private sector; to do away with the practice of members of parliament and others collecting government pensions and government salaries at the same time; to do away with the subsidized perks on Parliament Hill; and most importantly perhaps, to tackle that fundamentally troublesome issue of patronage. Two weeks ago in Canada, for the first time in our history, positions were advertised that up to now have been the prerogative of governments and have been patronage appointments. They have now been advertised so all Canadians are aware of them and can apply if they are interested. Canadians are looking for a new standard of openness and integrity in government. And that is why I have begun my efforts to try and create confidence in the political process.

I have also begun my efforts to eliminate the deficit by cutting government costs. Too often Canadians believe we go after the little person, that we go after them when we are looking to cut our expenditures, and never tackle the costs of our own institutional structure. On June 25, I launched the most significant restructuring of the Canadian governments since Confederation. That is why I have launched a war against waste, duplication and inefficiency in government.

But the time has come to translate our anger and our frustration with the political process into a sense of common purpose. I have heard what Canadians are saying and I believe that the political process can win their confidence.

Confidence in the political process is essential if we are to meet the challenges that face us. We need a politics of inclusion, so that all Canadians can see themselves reflected in the political process. This has the effect of broadening the mainstream of Canadian society rather than reinforcing particularities. In my view, the purpose of our policy of multiculturalism is to break down the barriers to full participation, rather than to perpetuate differences.

There are some issues with respect to the political process which will require constitutional changes. But I believe that we need to swing away from the notion that codification is the most important goal. After the patriation of the Constitution in 1982, and the creation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, there came to be a belief in Canada, that unless rights and hopes were reflected black and white in the Constitution, they didn't exist. But that ignored the extent to which we had developed ways of living together in this country, and the ways we had used the political process to protect our rights and to protect the ways we want to live together without constitutional change.

At this time, when there is absolutely no taste for constitutional discussions, I think we should move to exploit the silences in our Constitution. Where the Constitution is silent, it is open to government to act in ways that serve people, rather than protect jurisdictional turf. There are important issues that remain, but if we use the resources we have and work creatively and positively, we may be able to simplify the agenda and also create an environment where future talks can succeed.

I believe that it is important to restore hope and confidence to Canadians so they will not be tempted to shy away from their role in the world. In the post-Cold War period I think we need to redefine our national self-image. In the era of nuclear stand-off, nuclear stalemate, Canada was seen as a middle power, but I believe in the post-Cold War era that Canada sits in the world as a major power. We have a unique position, we are the most multi-laterally linked of all countries in the world. We belong to all the important multilateral organizations: le Francophone, the Commonwealth, the Organization of American States, NATO, the United Nations, OECD and many, many more.

This is a position that enables us to play an important role in helping the world to come to grips with the post-Cold War challenges, the challenges to create a new world order, the challenges that I have addressed with world leaders at meetings of the G-7 recently in the United Nations. Canada has a fundamental role to play and this is no time for us to pull back on those challenges. Because we can not escape the effects of international instability, it is in our self interest as well as the interest of the world that Canada play a strong role in redefining international organizations and in making them serve the world as they should.

So where does this bring us with respect to the election of October 25. I think first of all we should think about the importance of national political parties. We need the broad Canadian vision more than ever before, and I believe we need national political parties more than ever before. Parties that bring people together from all parts of this country, from all walks of life, to share the appreciation of one another's humanity, to come to understand one another's reality, to come to forge a sense of national vision.

My party prides itself on being a reflection of the country. My party prides itself on bringing together all kinds of Canadians, to create that sense of vision. We also face the phenomenon in this election of the protest vote, many people who are voting against something rather than voting for. Last night CTV said that 50 per cent of the people polled were unhappy with their voting preference. This is an extraordinary thing to say, that people are still feeling ill at ease, uncomfortable with the choices before them in the political arena. The phenomenon of protest voting in Canada is not new, it has been with us right from Confederation. It is also understandable and I've spoken of my own response to that anger and frustration and the importance of re-establishing the confidence and integrity of the political process. But protest voting is not risk-free.

It can be very costly, and no one knows that better than Ontarians, who in 1990 lodged a protest vote.

There is so much uncertainly out there in the electorate, because we are seeing a vote that is softer and more volatile than I think any of us can remember in recent campaigns or perhaps ever in history. Perhaps it reflects what we have seen in recent elections in the United States and Great Britain. This weekend Canadians should be asking themselves some fundamental questions. First of all, do they think that the answer to unemployment is to spend public money on temporary jobs as the Liberals propose? Can Canada afford to allow deficits to continue indefinitely, as the Liberals propose? Can Canadians afford to pay more taxes? Only the Progressive Conservative Party has firmly committed not to raise taxes and not to create new taxes. Must we seriously slow economic growth to eliminate the deficit as the Reform Party plans would do?

The name of our party is the Progressive Conservative Party, and I take that name seriously. Our goal is to conserve our Canadian values, the values of freedom, equality and tolerance; what we sometimes call the values of sharing, caring and daring. We are a party with a national vision. But my purpose is also to be progressive, to bring government to people and to bring people into government. To be activist in the economy where action is necessary to create jobs. To be progressive in preserving our social programmes so we can continue to serve people in need. Canadians will make a choice on October 25. The choice for October 25 and every day after. We are not sending a signal, we are choosing a future. Never in our history has a politics of division been so dangerous. If I believed that the modern Canadian balance was being put forward by other parties I would not be making the arguments I am making today. Our future lies in choosing a government and a direction that can maintain the precious Canadian balance in these modern Canadian times.

A balance between caring for each other and balancing the books. A balance between good economic policy and civilized social policy. The balance that comes from bringing all of the regions and all Canadians and all realities together to bear on governments, on leadership.

I believe that public life is a noble calling. I believe that democracy matters. Across this country Canadians are struggling with a choice of whom to entrust with the task of leading our democracy in the 90s and the 21st century. I believe it is important that our country retain that larger vision.

On July 1, I had an extraordinary and magnificent experience. I started the day (just six days after being sworn in as Prime Minister) on Signal Hill in Newfoundland, at five o'clock in the morning where the sun rises on our country. I stood on that windy place at dawn listening to a choir of young people sing O Canada and then sing a wonderful song that I hadn't heard before, the Ode to Newfoundland, and I was struck by how many different ways there are to be Canadian and how pride in one's province, pride in one's place of origin is not inconsistent with pride in being Canadian.

It was a wonderful experience and I got on the plane and came to Ottawa where for the first time I had the opportunity to participate in Canada Day Celebrations on Parliament Hill. And those of us who work on Parliament Hill take for granted those piles of rock where we have our offices, and pass every day and yet for many Canadians those are the physical symbol of our democratic heritage. I was struck by how many Canadians come from all across the country to celebrate our country's birthday on that piece of geography. And I had the pleasure of sharing that with them and then I got on the plane again and went to the place that I usually am on Canada Day--my own riding of Vancouver Centre, where the sun sets on the country, to share Canada Day with those who had sent me to Ottawa. I thought, what a wonderful experience to be able to see the whole country in one day. This country is something of value, it is something of enormous worth, it is a country that has the opportunity to show the world what people can do when they come together to solve their problems and forge a future with a large vision, a vision of generosity, a magnanimity of spirit, a vision that looks to the future, that looks to the long term. I believe that my vision offers Canadians that chance to build for the long term and I and my candidates are deeply committed to working after October 25 to keep this country together to make it prosper and to ensure that those millions of Canadians who aren't old enough to vote will inherit the kind of country that we inherited. On October 25 I hope that this country will be proud of the Parliament that we will create.

Thank you very much.

The appreciation of the meeting was expressed by Frederic L. R. Jackman, President, Invicta Investments Incorporated and President, The Empire Club of Canada.

Prime Minister, on behalf of The Empire and The Canadian Clubs, it is my honour to thank you for your thoughtful and detailed address. Your remarks tell us of sensible policies for a united Canada, policies of fiscal prudence including deficit reduction, policies which describe appropriate job creation and compassion in social programmes, policies for the protection of our people, our country and our environment. On behalf of the audience I would like to thank you for the clarity of your party's vision and the integrity with which you present it.

But what goes too often unsaid is that we truly do appreciate your commitment to being a politician in our democracy. The same can be said for the other politicians in the room and those at the head table. No one knows better than you and the rest of you who are working at this job the personal sacrifices that you encounter as you travel across the country, living out of suitcases, and snacking on a constituency cocktail food, and giving speeches.

But more than anything else, we appreciate your desire to share with all of Canada your plans for our tomorrow. The fact that you criss-crossed Canada in the spring in your successful pursuit of your party's leadership and now are doing it again, in this federal election, shows a most remarkable stamina and dedication to our country. We acknowledge Prime Minister the sacrifices you have made on our behalf and we know how much you care and we thank you profoundly. We are pleased that we are now able to provide you with a good meal, prior to your airplane snack as you fly west to Winnipeg this afternoon. We thank you for your courage and your dedication and we wish you good luck at the polls next Monday.

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My Vision of Canada

A joint meeting of The Empire Club of Canada and The Canadian Club of Toronto.
An overview of Canada as it has been, and the challenges it faces in a changing world economically, socially, politically and culturally. The government's policies to deal with the challenges: hold the line on taxes; a commitment to elimination of the deficit; stimulate economic growth and job creation; reform federal-provincial relations. Why Ms. Campbell feels that she and her government are the best to deal with the challenges.