My Canada - Today and Tomorrow
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 30 Sep 2004, p. 21-31
Doer, The Hon. Gary Albert, Speaker
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Item Type
Deal with real issues, with examples. Health care issues. The need to spend a lot more time on prevention and community-based wellness. The Quebec issue. The need for a new agreement from municipalities consistent with the Prime Minister's promise. Issues of internal trade. Education. An economic strategy that is tied to educatin and training, not just in post-secondary education. Energy and energy reliability. The Kyoto Accord.
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30 Sep 2004
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The Hon. Gary Albert Doer
Premier, Province of Manitoba
Chairman: Bart J. Mindszenthy
President, The Empire Club of Canada
Head Table Guests

Verity Craig, Principal, Carmichael Birrell & Co. and Director, The Empire Club of Canada; Reverend Canon Philip Bristow, Incumbent, St. Philips on the Hill, Unionville; Catherine Walker, Grade 12 Student, North Toronto Collegiate Institute; Greg Lyle, a Principal of Navigator Limited; Ed Greenspon, Editor, The Globe and Mail; Graeme Deans, Vice-President and Global Strategy Leader, A.T. Kearney Ltd.; Michael McCain, President and CEO, Maple Leaf Foods Inc.; Robin Sears, a Principal of Navigator Limited and Director, The Empire Club of Canada; Glen Murray, Senior Resident, Massey College and Former Mayor of Winnipeg; Michael Decter, Chair, Canadian Health Council; Rick Waugh, CEO, Scotiabank; and Michael Cole, Sr. Vice-President, Systems National Markets, Bell Canada.

Introduction by Bart Mindszenthy

Reverend Sir, distinguished head table guests, members of the Empire Club of Canada, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the second of our very special Premiers Speakers Series that will run throughout the season.

As you know, we have invited all the First Ministers to come to talk to us about their Canada--today and tomorrow--and articulate what they see as the major challenges and opportunities for our country in the next decade.

To support this important series, Ipsos-Reid, the national polling and research firm, graciously volunteered to check the pulse of the nation about the future for the Empire Club of Canada.

The results--compiled and released just a week ago--show a strong and clear trend.

Whether in Manitoba or Nova Scotia, in fact, everywhere across our country, the number-one concern 10 years from now out of the 14 areas of concern we had tested will be services for the elderly and their specific home and health-care needs. That's followed, nationally, by such issues as family health care, waste disposal, energy and a clean environment.

And in the Prairies, the rank order of these greater issues a premier can expect to face a decade from now mirror the national snapshot.

While from time to time governments and their citizens may have differences of opinion on how to address many of the issues we face, it's clear from the Empire Club survey that Canadians are united in their view of the challenges that await this great country and its provincial and territorial premiers and, I dare say, the federal government.

To see and download the full study, please visit our Web site at

Today, we have the pleasure of welcoming Premier Gary Albert Doer.

Like Golden Boy atop the legislature, he is about as Manitoban as one can get. But unlike Golden Boy, he's a whole lot younger and there was certainly no need to re-gild him two years ago.

Born in Winnipeg in 1948, Premier Doer has been involved in just about every major cause and institution in that city and across Manitoba, including his beloved Blue Bombers.

First elected as a New Democratic Party member to the Legislative Assembly in 1986, Premier Doer became leader of the party two years later. Then, in 1999, he was elected Manitoba's 20th premier, and last year re-elected with an even larger majority government.

On his watch, Manitoba's growth rate has routinely exceeded the national average, the province's credit rating has been upgraded, and the budget balanced every year.

He has been one of the strongest proponents of the Kyoto Accord, which, by the way, Russia ratified today.

Premier Doer believes in a strong Canada and the need for provinces to work together for a prosperous future. But he also recognizes the challenges at hand.

Perhaps he summed it up best in response to a question of what he thought it would take to reach a deal with the federal government at the recent First Ministers' conference. Quipped Premier Doer: "It's gonna take more than love, trust, and pixie dust!"

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the podium of the Empire Club of Canada the Premier of Manitoba, the Honourable Gary Albert Doer.

Gary Doer

I think it's important that I have a chance to speak directly to you because we're often cast as money-grubbing premiers going to Ottawa on bended knee, begging for money and begging for the scraps off the table. The Oliver Twist cartoons come to mind. It's an opportunity for us to say to you, that as the people that pay over 80 per cent of the health-care bills, we just want a fair partnership. We're not money-grubbing people and premiers spend more time under the able leadership of Dalton McGuinty, our Council of the Federation Chair, talking about what we can do, than we do on health care.

We deal with real issues. To give you an example, Bernard Lord was here last week and he and I are trying to get $284 billion of internal trade in Canada liberalized in the country. We are trying to reduce the barriers that exist between provinces and have true free trade, full procurement for all crown corporations (including the federal crown corporations) and we're trying to have an enforcement mechanism that actually works for you and your businesses and for the citizens of our provinces. We want real enforcement for real liberalized trade in Canada and again it doesn't get all the media that some of the other disputes get, but it is very important.

I know Bernard Lord talked last week about the health-care agreement. Let me just say, that I thought Dalton McGuinty did an excellent job of keeping 13 different people and the Prime Minister together. He tried to focus 13 different people from at least three political parties from different regions of Canada with different health-care standards in one direction.

I thought it was very, very, important to go from a take-it-or-leave-it federalism which we had been part of (You have got five minutes; take it or leave it) to a much more co-operative federalism in Canada. I want to give the credit to your premier here in Ontario and the Prime Minister to finally end the bicker fest that has been part of the annual meetings between the federal and provincial governments. We needed to get something that you want in your businesses--predictable funding with realistic escalators--so that we can make long-term decisions and not just short-term decisions.

For example, we had an immunization program in Canada, which was a great idea, announced by the previous government. Immunizations, for chicken pox for example, would save $100 million in health costs. One of our problems with that agreement is it ended in 2007. It went from 2004 to 2007 and premiers can't spend money or make investments or announce programs that are going to end in 2007, because, surprise, surprise, we are going to have children after 2007 in Canada and we will still need those immunization programs. Predictability, stability of funding, long-term funding and certainly an escalator make sense.

We need to spend a lot more time on prevention and community-based wellness. We've got to spend a lot more time on other aspects of health care, but certainly health care is a social advantage in Canada. When I'm talking to businesses in the United States, looking at expanding into Manitoba or looking at expanding other operations located in Manitoba, I know that health care is a competitive advantage.

Much has been made of the Quebec issue. I would just like to say that I think the federal-provincial agreement dealing with Quebec represents a new maturity in Canada. We are dealing with a federalist premier Jean Charest. We're dealing with a federalist Prime Minister from the Province of Quebec. This is a modern flexible agreement. If one looks back to the old days of the '60s, the QPP and CPP were set up as bi-lateral agreements. The Cullen-Couture Agreement on Immigration was set up between Ottawa, the Trudeau government and Quebec, again as a bi-lateral agreement. The Health Council was set up by the former prime minister as a separate co-operative council with the federal government. This is the first time that these bi-lateral agreements have actually become part of a national agreement. The multilateral recognition of this agreement by all premiers from all parties I think is good for the federalist premier in Quebec and I personally believe it's very, very good for Canada.

I would say that we have to move ourselves to other issues that are important for Canada. I believe the co-operative agreement and spirit should succeed in getting a new agreement from municipalities consistent with the Prime Minister's promise. It's very, very, important to move on to some of the issues that have been raised by the cities and municipalities in Canada and we look forward to being part of the solution to those ideas as well.

I want to speak for a moment as we move optimistically into 2005 and deal with some of the issues in 2004 that have been part of our debate for too long-health care, municipal funding and issues of internal trade. I am optimistic that in the next couple of years we can deal with issues of tomorrow as part of the challenges in Canada. I'd like to speak on two of them and that is post-secondary education and public education and a national energy focus and strategy for the future.

Certainly, we know that post-secondary education is important when you talk about municipalities. The Canada West Foundation talks about municipal funding and universities and the quality of life in our communities. I was proud of the fact that the former mayor and I worked on both the funding of the University of Manitoba and the new colleges and restored historic areas of Winnipeg in a co-operative way to build up our enrolment, to build up our capacity for skills and knowledge and also at the same time do so in a way that was consistent with the long-term vision of our communities.

I believe post-secondary education is crucial for Canada and I want to show two slides quickly and talk about what's happened to post-secondary education in the last 10 years. This slide indicates that the share of federal investment in post-secondary education has reduced by 50 per cent and at the same time in the United States the amount of money as a percentage of GDP has gone up considerably, relative to Canada, and relative to our investments in our future.

I dare say that all of you know and all of you would support a statement that Tony Blair has made often, that you cannot have an economic strategy without an education strategy. I think in Canada we have to spend as much time, effort and intellectual work on post-secondary education and public education as we have spent on health-care initiatives and lack of initiatives over the last number of years.

I believe it's crucial to have an economic strategy that is tied to education and training, and not just in post-secondary education. I also believe it's important in public education. We have got to roll up our sleeves and really look at where we are succeeding in education and where we are failing. Life-long learning, early childhood development and, obviously, post-secondary education go together, but public education and targets in public education are obviously very, very, important for our future. So I'm suggesting that the Council of the Federation made up of premiers work together with the private sector, the education sector, the federal government, the scientific community and the research community to talk about the gaps in education arising out of public education, to take an honest inventory of what we're doing right and what we're doing wrong and what that will mean for us down the road. We have to also take a look at how we can ensure that Canada and our provinces are going to be able to train people in a skilled economy and in a knowledge economy that is going to be so very, very, important as we compete with the United States and as we compete with other trading nations that are really, really increasing their GDP, partly through an educated, skilled, and trained work force.

Everybody talks about Ireland in terms of tax cuts. Ireland had a national strategy to look at accessibility, affordability, innovation, knowledge and skill development. That came first before the economy grew. The tax cuts came after. I think we've had a discussion in Canada about spending on health and tax reductions. We've spent very little time making sure that we have an intelligent plan and an intelligent strategy. I think the task for premiers and the Council of the Federation is to work with all our partners in all our responsibilities.

The private sector has been very good in the last couple of years to post-secondary education. In Manitoba, we invested $50 million in capital at the University of Manitoba. The private sector pledged $100 million and I think it's up to $200 million in terms of its commitment. Investment in the long term from the private sector has been very, very helpful and we thank you here at this meeting.

Finally, I think we should we talking in Canada about the whole issue of energy and energy reliability. I was just recently speaking in New Mexico with Governor Richardson who is working with Arnold on some ideas of renewable energy and California's demands. We know that's going to be very important for Canada. Manitoba sells electricity to the United States. We sell lots of electricity to the United States. I've got a map here of the North American power grid and I think the picture is worth a thousand words. You can see there are three north-south spaghetti lines of transmission going from Canada to the United States. You can see also that this country has no grid east and west. The empire, if you will, has no grid and I don't know whether this is by design from a lack of a national policy or by just drifting along, but I think it's an issue we should have on our national agenda.

When the lights went out in Ontario last year, the only place you could get power from, even if we had excess power in Manitoba or Quebec, was Detroit and other places in the United States. An east-west transmission line in my view would provide more reliability and more affordable options for Canada and I say that as somebody who has a pecuniary interest in an east-west grid. Selling hydro-electric power is an advantage to Manitoba. Jesse Ventura said, "I can't believe that water from Minnesota flows north to Manitoba," but it does; 25 per cent of the water in North America flows through Manitoba. We can sell hydro-electric power. We're close to Chicago in terms of the grid. We can sell it north and south. Quebec can sell it to New York. Vancouver and Alberta can sell their energy to California. The United States under President Bush has a plan to link east-west transmission in the United States. Now it's tied up in the Congressional Houses with the issue of drilling in Alaska, but there is a national strategy before the U.S. decision makers. Of course that has been accelerated by the issues of reliability and the lack of standards identified by our Energy Minister and Spencer Abraham last year with the lights out in Ontario.

I would say that in Ontario that you have a gap of 25,000 megawatts that must be filled by the year 2020 and I want to applaud Dalton McGuinty for taking a long-term leadership approach to identifying how you will fill that gap. I do believe that the gap should be filled with a basket of renewable energy and a basket of traditional energy and I would argue that as a country, we should look at the issue of capacity east and west, rather than taking our abundant energy which we have in Canada, and our abundant resources which we have in this country and just have it continue to go north and south, rather than looking at the option of east and west. I'm not saying that anyone would want to just go with one option, north or south, or east and west, but I think, it should be part of the options in terms of energy decisions in this country to deal with reliability. I would also add that some renewable energy will have a tremendous benefit for our obligations under Kyoto.

Now I supported Kyoto and Ralph Klein accused me of only supporting Kyoto because we wanted to sell more electricity. He's right, I'm guilty. If we built a 1,500 mega-watt dam in Manitoba and had the transmission capacity to replace coal generated energy it would be the equivalent of reducing the number of cars on the streets of Toronto by 500,000. I can't do anything about the traffic jams but I can do something about the emissions and it would also make a lot of difference to the quality of life there. Let's not just talk about and whistle about emissions in Canada, while children wheeze with asthma in some of our communities. You can improve quality of life. It can help us meet our Kyoto commitments that now receive more importance with the decision of Russia to ratify Kyoto and it can provide, I think, economic and affordable reliability in Canada.

I believe that immediately as a country we should take a long-term strategic focus on energy reliability east and west. We may decide not to do it and that's fine, but I'd hate to have decisions made by default, where we just keep selling power cells and so does Quebec, and so does British Columbia. We have the jurisdictions to do that, but I hate as a country just by default not to look at the fact that we have no east-west grid and no back up of reliability and affordability in this country.

I believe that we should have three strategic priorities in terms of meeting our needs, and again I think Ontario is well on the way to making these decisions.

We should tie together the capital investments that are needed to supply 25,000 megawatts of power. The corporate tax will go to the federal government. Some of that corporate tax should be re-invested I believe in a grid.

We should look at the approval process. It's too long. Public interest now has become opposition interest. When you look at an approval process for any dam or any kind of process that has to go through an environmental assessment, it takes up to four years to get a license. Now I don't know if there are any lawyers in this room, but in my view there's one lawyer per megawatt now in the approval process in Canada and the public interest has to be balanced by those who need the power at an affordable rate in a reliable way with the people who come to those hearings to oppose, to oppose, to oppose. Due diligence needs balance.

We should look at the Kyoto requirements if we are sincere about implementing Kyoto. We need a plan. So far, we've only got a deal, or part of a deal on an implementation plan to deal with sheltering, in a similar way to New Zealand, some of the petro-chemical industries in Canada. We need a long-term Kyoto strategy and I would argue the electricity gap, east-west grid, reliable renewable energy and Kyoto could go together as part of an economic and environmental strategy.

Thank you, very, very much for your time today. I know I covered a lot of topics, but I really feel passionately, that we have got to deal with post-secondary education and an energy grid to make sure Canada stays strong into the future.

Thank you very, very much for your time here today.

The appreciation of the meeting was expressed by Robin Sears, a Principal of Navigator Limited and Director, The Empire Club of Canada.

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My Canada - Today and Tomorrow

Deal with real issues, with examples. Health care issues. The need to spend a lot more time on prevention and community-based wellness. The Quebec issue. The need for a new agreement from municipalities consistent with the Prime Minister's promise. Issues of internal trade. Education. An economic strategy that is tied to educatin and training, not just in post-secondary education. Energy and energy reliability. The Kyoto Accord.