- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 3 Jun 1993, p. 51-67
- Boyer, Patrick, Speaker
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- Boyer approaches the PC Leadership with a campaign of Canadian renewal involving four elements: "economic renewal, democratic reform, personal security of individual Canadians and the need to awaken a new spirit of Canadianism." A cultural approach to Canadian identity, this speech involves a wide-ranging overview of history pertinent to what it means to be Canadian.
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- 3 Jun 1993
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- Patrick Boyer Progressive Conservative Leadership Candidate
AWAKENING A NEW SPIRIT OF CANADIANISM
Chairman: Dr. Frederic L. R. Jackman President, The Empire Club of Canada
Head Table Guests
Anne Libby, Co-owner, Libby's of Toronto Art Gallery and a Director, The Empire Club of Canada; The Rev. Edward Jackman, Historian, Archdiocese of Toronto; Bill Corbett, Senior Partner, Fraser & Beatty; Corrine Boyer, former member of Dutch Foreign Service and the wife of our guest speaker; Jack Stoddart, Chairman & CEO, Stoddart Publishing Co. Ltd. and Publisher of Patrick Boyer's latest book Hands on Democracy; Bruce Sinclair, Mayor of City of Etobicoke and a Director, The Empire Club of Canada; John Thompson, President, Gornitzki, Thompson & Little; Laura Legge, LL.D, Q.C., Partner, Legge & Legge, Past President, Federation of Law Societies and former Treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada.
Introduction by Dr. Jackman
Today's luncheon marks the end of the Progressive Conservative leadership speakers' forum.
For those of you who have not been with us for previous speakers in this series, The Empire Club organized these luncheons to give the candidates an opportunity to talk at length about their
visions and ideas for Canada and to interact with an articulate audience.
Today, The Empire Club of Canada is pleased to welcome back Patrick Boyer. Sometime ago when Patrick pursued his legal career with the firm of Fraser & Beatty he was also an active member of The Empire Club serving as its Secretary and as a Director. Patrick Boyer knows fully the importance of addresses presented to this Club and I am certain you will find him articulate, thoughtful and thorough. Mr. Boyer has agreed to respond to questions. Please print your questions on the cards at each table and raise your hand and your card will be collected.
Patrick is a fluently bilingual politician who has spent the past nine years in the federal political arena amassing an impressive background of achievement. Brief biographies are on each table and you are welcome to take one.
Patrick Boyer is a man of many talents. He is a learned scholar, a journalist and author. All of his nine books deal with our political process. Boyer has spent a lifetime thinking about our political processes and he shares his conclusions through his books. No one in Parliament has argued more forcefully for direct democracy by using the Referendum. The fact that the constitutional Referendum occurred at all is in large measure due to the influence of Patrick Boyer.
To paraphrase The Globe and Mail from the St. Patrick's Day 1993 edition, "He is a man with ideas on policy, who wants to be prime minister to put them into effect, rather than a man who first decides that he wants to be prime minister, then collects some ideas he thinks will help get him there."
Patrick will address our audience today about Awakening a New Spirit of Canadianism. His scholarly years of research will tug at your intellectual conscience and whet your political appetite.
In my campaign for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party, I have stressed the need for a fresh agenda for our country.
The Mulroney agenda has been dealt with, and Canadians now await to hear from those of us who would lead the country forward with clear answers and specific ideas. I have set out a coherent plan for our country's future and how to get there from here. Renewal for
Canada now involves four elements-economic renewal, democratic reform, personal security of individual Canadians and the need to awaken a new spirit of Canadianism.
What does it really mean to be a Canadian? This simple question must be thoughtfully considered, and answered, as we seek the renewal of our country.
We've been a long time developing our identity as Canadians. For centuries before Europeans and Asians and African peoples came here, and before we invented the term "multiculturalism," Canada's first peoples lived in many cultures and spoke diverse languages. As a people made up of fragments from many different cultures and countries, we know that one of our defining attributes is our diversity. Often our identity has been expressed in terms of our relationship with places beyond our borders, such as Great Britain during the days of Empire or more recently in relation to the United States. Our preoccupation with Canadian identity even gave rise to a Royal Commission on the subject in the 1950s, as Canadian an enterprise as one could ever imagine!
Keeping our country united has long been an imperative of those in government at Ottawa, and the past several decades have seen tremendous efforts to seek greater Canadian unity by means of changing our Constitution. Endless efforts and countless conferences produced a country whose people grew fatigued by proposals to rewrite an existing Constitution. Certainly this was an avenue pursued with great energy and effort by the Mulroney government, which led to both the Meech Lake Accord and the subsequent Charlottetown Accord, neither of which ultimately resulted in a single word being changed in the Constitution.
What Canada Needs-A Cultural Re-Confederation
In fact the approach to a more unified country lies, I believe, through a different route all together. In his last
public speech, at the University of Toronto, the late Northrop Frye said it succinctly: "What Canada needs is not more constitutional tinkering, but a cultural re-confederation."
A much greater emphasis on the cultural dimensions of Canadian life will awaken a justifiable pride in our country. There are many Canadian stories, and they deserve to be told. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has long been an instrument for binding Canadians together through the sharing of these Canadian stories, holding a mirror to the many different parts of our nation. Yet in recent years the ever-present onslaught of non-Canadian stories, in movies and television and magazines and music, particularly from the United States, have displaced the story of our Canada within.
Over the recent years we have been concentrating on becoming more competitive economically in the international marketplace, on entering into trade treaties, and on expanding our commercial activities. In the process we have neglected too much the cultural dimension of Canadian life. Better trading arrangements, greater economic competitiveness and improvements in the taxation system are vitally important, but they are not goals in themselves. They are a means to an end, ways of achieving the real objective of being a strong and free and sovereign Canadian people.
I was explaining this idea about the need for a more vibrant Canadian patriotism on Andy Barry's CFRB radio phone-in show on March 19, 1993, and a caller explained her agreement. She had worked with the Spicer Commission and had "spoken with many thousands of Canadians, none of whom had any idea of who they really are."
From my own observations over the past several years, I have concluded that many Canadians seem to think they are Americans who simply happen to be located north of the border. I am annoyed listening to
speeches in the House of Commons where Canadian parliamentarians use American examples to describe Canadian situations. I am frustrated listening to Canadians who watch American television, following the U.S. presidential election and stating their preferences between Bush, Clinton and Perot, as if they were American voters rather than Canadians who ought to filter American politics through the crucial question, "What impact will this man and his policies have in relation to Canada?" I am disappointed when many Canadians routinely vacation in the United States but have not yet visited most parts of their own country. Probably the most depressing call 1 received from a constituent came late one evening. His irate complaint was that he could no longer get American football on the Buffalo television station that had just been bumped from the Toronto channels to make way for a second French-language channel. What really bothered me was that the constituent in question was the principal of a local school, someone in charge of the education of a whole generation of Canadian children.Telling Our Own Stories To Ourselves
The Government of Canada can do much to encourage the telling of our Canadian story to Canadians. It doesn't even take a lot of money to do so, although a fraction of the amount spent over the past two decades on constitutional conferencing could produce a far more unified country when spent on the cultural dimensions of our life.
First, the area of Canadian broadcasting is a good example of how bad we have become. A recent study by UNESCO ranks Canada last out of 79 countries in the amount of broadcast time devoted to its own cultural programming. The total amount of Canadian programming watched by Canadians is a meagre 4.4 per cent. The Canadian broadcasting industry, notably lacking any patriotic sentiment, busily engages in bringing popular
American TV programmes into Canadian homes. In those cases where Canada's private broadcasters produce "Canadian content" material they do so, according to Peter Herrndorf, Chairman of TV Ontario, with the motivation of resale into the U.S. market rather than making a concentrated effort to mirror Canadian society.
In cultural programming, Mr. Herrndorf told a CRTC hearing on the future of Canadian television in March 1993, Canadian producers, directors and writers are "finding it more and more difficult to find the air time and the resources to provide viewers with a Canadian perspective in these areas."
Another voice at the same CRTC hearing, that of Arnold Amber, President of the Association of Television Producers and Directors, proposed that the government should give up trying to impose Canadian content requirements and instead follow the example of the Europeans and build a true public broadcasting service, financed by public funds held by Telefilm Canada and provincial agencies and a tax levied through the cable system.
As Canadian observer Michael Valpy has noted, every study, every royal commission, every parliamentary debate on broadcasting since the 1920s has concluded that Canada's cultural and political sovereignty is tied to the existence of a broadcasting system that is predominantly Canadian. Yet the unmistakable and lamentable trend of the past decade has been the increase in the Americanization of Canadian broadcasting. When it comes to protecting Canadian sovereignty, a wise government with $5.8 billion to spend would choose Canadian broadcasting over anti-submarine helicopters.
A second way to increase the Canadian content in the lives of our citizens would be to change the way that funding is given to the arts and cultural communities in Canada. Currently, subsidies are given directly to authors and publishers, or to theatre companies, or dance
troupes, or museums and galleries. A variation of a marketplace approach could provide the same money to these groups and organizations but in a way that would involve the Canadian people far more. For example, instead of a grant to a book publisher, the same amount of money could be committed to buy several thousand copies of the book. This minimum guarantee purchase would help the publisher keep the unit price down as he expands the size of the press run for the book to include the number he would normally expect to sell through the bookstores and to libraries. The copies purchased by the government could be distributed in various ways to Canadian taxpayers, who would end up having some tangible benefits from the exercise.
Similarly for theatrical companies, government funding could be used to purchase tickets for two or three weeks of a full house, and the tickets could be, once again, distributed or raffled off to taxpayers in the community. It might even be the first time that a "winner" had attended a stage play, and perhaps mark the start of a new interest in attending theatre. The same concept could apply for admission tickets to art galleries and museums.
The idea here can be refined in its various applications, I have no doubt, but the concept simply is to ensure that where public money is spent on Canadian artistic and cultural activities, inventive new approaches be used to ensure that taxpaying Canadians actually have the possibility of benefiting from the exercise. It's in everybody's interest.
A third approach would be for Canadians to visit a foreign land-Canada!
Airfares and other transportation costs are designed, it seems, to encourage Canadians to fly to Europe or the United States, rather than journey to destinations within our own country, another way we inhibit greater awareness of whom we Canadians really are.
I have always been impressed by the way Canadians who discover other parts of our country become excited about the beauty and diversity, and the qualities of the people they have met. Invariably, their experiences are a blending of surprise and pleasure-especially upon realizing that the area they visited is also a part of their very own country.
In 1992 a low-budget exchange of Canadian youth was organized, with up to 125 youngsters aged 16 to 21 from each of Canada's 295 constituencies visiting their "twins" for one week. I arranged for the voyageurs from my Etobicoke-Lakeshore constituency to visit northwest Saskatchewan, since I had worked there as a newspaper reporter myself in my early twenties. At first I was concerned to discover the lack of enthusiasm which youngsters in my riding displayed about going to northwest Saskatchewan. The prospect held modest appeal for them, at best. Yet once the exchange was over they had become fast friends with their twins in North Battleford, Loon Lake, and Debden. They have since become avid pen pals, exchanging videotapes, and have organized exchange reunions all at their own expense.
Of course it does not take organized programmes to move Canadians around inside our vast country, and individuals are free to do this themselves. Yet positive encouragement, and good examples and even non-financial incentives, can help.
A fourth element will be to create an organization for Canadian youth that would become a major vehicle for awakening in younger Canadians a sense of patriotism through service. When Hon. Benoit Bouchard on behalf of the Mulroney government cancelled the Katimavik programme several years ago, he pledged that the government "would replace it with something even better." The time to do so has arrived.
For several years I have been working on plans for the creation of a Canadian Youth Service Corps, and have
advocated the concept in Parliament and elsewhere. The corps would provide one year of opportunity for young Canadians, generally following high school and before university. The Canadian Youth Service Corps could comprise several divisions or "streams" suitable for the different interests and aptitudes of the youth who enlist. One stream would be for environmental service, and activities could range from reforestation projects to cleanup and conservation efforts and projects relating to endangered species.
A second stream would be for military-type service, a kind of first-stage boot camp for younger Canadians wanting to acquire discipline and physical conditioning, as well as some basic training skills. This stream would be valuable for those hoping eventually to become members of the Reserves or Regular Forces. This stream of training would also be ideal for those wishing to pursue careers in policing, fire-fighting, or other emergency services.
A third stream would be for social service, particularly appropriate for young Canadians intending to continue their education for a career in any of the helping professions. In this stream, for instance, many of the human and social needs in our communities could be responded to by the youth, such as working with seniors, assisting people with disabilities, providing company to shut-ins.
A fourth stream would be public service, in which youth could work in various government departments, particularly those involving the need for large manpower resources in field projects.
A fifth stream could relate to service abroad, patterned on the experience of Canadian University Students Overseas (CUSO) or possibly incorporating CUSO operations within the larger Canadian Youth Service Corps programme.
The Youth Service Corps would operate on a rotational basis, so that during the year of enlistment a member would have three four-month tours of duty in different
parts of Canada. Academic credit for the year of service could be granted, in arrangements worked out with Canada's educational authorities. This could echo the Antigonish Movement, which held that learning in the real world could be just as valuable as learning in the classroom.
Canada has prior experience with similar organizations, such as the Company of Young Canadians, Katimavik, and the Environmental Youth Corps of Alberta. The experience of the YMCA and YWCA organizations in Canada would also prove helpful in the formation of the Youth Corps. The Scouting and Guiding movements, as well as church youth organizations, provide some lessons and models for training in self-reliance and service to others. The military stream of the Service Corps could lean heavily on the expertise of the Canadian Armed Forces which have good working models with the Air Cadets and Sea Cadets programmes, as well as the "Summer Soldiers" project.
Canada is required to close a number of military bases due to reduction in the size of the Canadian Armed Forces; some of these existing facilities could alternately be used by the Youth Service Corps.
Another element is to consider Canada as others see us.
Consider, for example, how others see us when it comes to Canadian representation abroad. Most countries establish embassies and consulates overseas to represent the national interest in those lands with whom we have diplomatic relations. Not so in the case of Canada. We muddy the water by having provincial missions in other countries, along with the Government of Canada's representation. What is the image of "Canada" in Britain, France or the United States, for instance, when in these countries are to be found offices flying provincial flags and carrying such names as Ontario House, Quebec House, Alberta House, Nova Scotia House? Now that the
budget crunch is upon us and provincial governments are driven to stop spending money they don't have, they would do well to be rid of this pretension, and fold their foreign operations into the overseas missions of the Government of Canada. It's time we presented a Canadian face to the world.
A fundamentally-defining feature of Canadian life is our relationship with the United States. It is time now to freshly re-appraise this relationship.
Over the long course of our history, the moods surrounding this relationship ebb and flow, depending in part upon the cycles of Canadian and American nationalism. We pass through eras of trade reciprocity, followed by periods of trade protection, followed by further periods of opening up markets and forging stronger commercial ties. Canadian-American relations also are influenced by overseas wars (such as Canada's resentment in the early part of World War II when America stayed out, followed by a common bond against the adversary when America joined the Alliance against the fascist Axis powers). During the Cold War, Canadians generally felt very comfortable in NATO and NORAD with the umbrella of protective defence shared with the all-powerful American military.
Now that the Cold War has ended and more independence is again possible in the foreign policy of many countries, including Canada, we find some pressures, as well as possibilities, for divergence from the U.S. Yet these are coinciding with the continental pressures for economic and cultural convergence with the Americans. So we have come to a time again in Canadian history where it is important to redefine our relationship with our southern neighbour.
The development of a heightened awareness of whom and what we are as Canadians is essential to this process. We can only define, and then defend, Canadian national
interests when we have some basic consensus among ourselves as to just what those interests are.
The advantages we have already gained under the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, by having a panel which hears and resolves trade disputes between our two countries, has been tremendously important in bringing fairness into our trading relationship. Never in history has there been as much trade and commerce between two countries as is the case today between Canada and the United States. In fact there is even more trade between the province of Ontario and the state of New York than there is between the United States and Japan. Given the millions of transactions, and the extensive economic and commercial interactions, it is inevitable that some disputes arise. Although Americans perhaps think of themselves as free-market traders, they in fact have and express a strong protectionist sentiment. Many non-tariff barriers exist, and a thoughtful and determined effort by Canadians and the Government of Canada is required to overcome this.
Good will is the best basis for the relationship between our two countries, and so is the respect that will be earned when, in those cases where it is necessary, the Government of Canada speaks clearly and forthrightly in defence of Canadian interests-from such diverse matters as American activities in our Arctic waters to trade retaliation on Canadian steel exports to the U.S.
Canadians continue to be fascinated by the excitement and dynamic diversity of the United States, while being repelled by the excesses for which that country is also widely known, such as violence and widespread use of firearms. The story of Canada's evolution has always been one of an involved and complicated relationship with the United States-beginning when Britain's 13 most populous and prosperous colonies rebelled against the Crown, and in their victory created an independent republic, leaving the more northerly colonies behind as
"British" North America-the basis for present-day Canada. No doubt Canada would have evolved as a very different country-especially in our cultural sense of being and our national integrity-if we had been more isolated and developed on our own; if, for instance, the United States was simply not present as our neighbour and constant counterpoint. The evolution of Australia, a country like Canada in so many ways (a federal state, a parliamentary democracy, a constitutional monarchy, European settlement encountering an aboriginal population, a vast land mass sparsely populated) makes quite a comparison. It is also quite a contrast. Australians developed a stronger sense of identity because, unlike Canada, they had no powerful neighbouring nation in relation to which everything was constantly being measured.
Who we are as Canadians is closely intertwined with the Americans, but it need not take the form of hostile anti-Americanism or a more chauvinistic Canadian nationalism. We do not want nor need to be anti-American, but more positively, we should and must be strongly proCanadian.
I am referring to the fact that mostly you hear reference to "the federal government," and even more annoyingly "the feds," when in truth people are referring to the Government of Canada. For a long time we used the word "Dominion" in this connection, and everyone knew that the Dominion or Dominion Government meant our whole country. Yet such a lacklustre substitute as "federal" is just one more of the many contributing factors to our out-of-focus image of Canada.
While this point might strike some as trivial, I believe that by referring to our national government only as the Government of Canada from now on, we will gradually see a rising sense of awareness and identity, since this designation or name refers to an entity far more concrete and comprehensible.Beyond Multiculturalism To Canadianism
A recent telephone exchange in my constituency office: "What is Mr. Boyer's nationality?" inquired the voice on the telephone.
"He is a Canadian," replied my assistant.
"No, I mean what is his .national origin?" pressed the caller, explaining that she was working on a research project on the ethnic background of Toronto area MPs.
"Well, you'd better just put down that he is Canadian," repeated my assistant, who knows my views about this sort of thing.
We will never amount to much in this country until we think of ourselves as Canadians.
Multiculturalism has been a most important stage in our development. Recognition of the truly diverse origins of the people who are now citizens of Canada has certainly broadened the awareness of what it means to be a "Canadian," and our emphasis on multiculturalism over the past decade or so has succeeded in breaking down stereotypes of who "qualifies" as a real Canadian.
Yet I believe the time has come to move forward to the next stage in our evolution as a human society, to what I would call an integrating Canadianism.
To become more aware of ourselves as Canadians, we can now let go of some concepts that were intended to help but which in fact have divided us. Emotionally and psychologically, we also ought to help one another just to relax and genuinely enjoy what and who we are as Canadians. In the absence of phoney standards, and free of being up-tight about our differences, we can discover a special sense of kinship.
"Let us celebrate our diversity" was a slogan which Johnny Lombardi developed at CHIN ratio station in Toronto to promote his multi-language broadcasts. It was a perfect theme for his popular radio. Yet Jim Hemming, a Toronto-area Liberal MP and Minister of State for
Multiculturalism, then adopted these five words for Ottawa's approach in the early 1980s.
While the phrase "celebrating diversity" was a helpful way to portray a tolerant spirit, a good radio slogan does not necessarily make good national policy. I say instead: "Let us celebrate our Canadianism."
We who are citizens of Canada share more in common than we have differences that divide us. If we would talk more about our shared strengths and common interests, there will be less separatism. When we stop emphasizing our diversity, we will stop feeding racism and resentment.
Canada as a "mosaic" is another term frequently used to describe us. This image or concept came from the work of sociologist John Porter, whose years of research about the structure of Canadian society was published in his landmark book The Vertical Mosaic in 1965. While this phrase, too, was helpful to portray something of the sociological make-up of Canada, a good sociologist's term does not necessarily make good national policy, either. We cannot substitute either slogans or descriptions for the passion and the idealism we should feel in being Canadians.
Too much emphasis on diversity and differences creates the basis, or the excuse, for keeping some people in a category of second-class citizens. Instead, when we promote the reality that we are all Canadians, we form the intellectual and social context for acceptance of everyone as equals.
An attitude of acceptance brings energy and life to the formal legal equality that now exists among all Canadians, and it helps to ensure that we will never obscure the rights and importance of minorities within our country. Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms now guarantees, in article 15, our legal equality. Each one of us is equal before and under the law, has the right to equal benefit of the law, and to equal protection of the law-without discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of race,
national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability. This is the legal basis of integrated Canadianism. Yet the spirit of the law, as well as its letter, ultimately must triumph.
We must remain vigilant, in the words of a poem I remember from public school days, to "curb the strong and uphold the weak." This was the spirit of the recommendations in the Parliamentary Committee on Equality Rights which I chaired, and whose report to Parliament I submitted in 1985, entitled "Equality For All."
It is the essence of the work we must do in Parliament and elsewhere for and with the 3,300,000 Canadians with varying degrees of mental and physical disabilities. It is the conscience which now directs all Canadians to seek justice for Canada's First Peoples. It is the hope which will inspire all of us-including the original "Canadians"-to welcome living in a common home where linguistic and cultural differences are not feared but enjoyed.
This is the future we have as Canadians, whatever our origins, however or whenever we each came to be here. Each of us is a member of some minority group or other, and while that must continue to be respected, we have reached the point in our evolution as a society where the pendulum ought now to swing again toward fuller recognition that everyone of us is, above all, a Canadian.
Thirty years have passed since John Diefenbakerwho appointed the first woman to a Canadian cabinet and the first native Indian to the Senate, whose government was supported by the first black Canadian and the first Canadian of Chinese origin ever elected to the House of Commons, who appointed a Jew to be Governor of the Bank of Canada at a time when Canadian banking was a closed shop to Jews, who gave native Canadians the right to vote for the first time, who always fought for the underdog and gave us the Canadian Bill of Rights-urged us to accept "unhyphenated" Canadianism.
Pride in our origins ought not to take precedence over the reality that we are all now Canadians.
I have criticized the Canada census form because it goes into great detail about a person's national origin, but leaves, almost as a bureaucratic afterthought, limited space for you to be shown as "Canadian."
What value is it to the researcher who phoned my office to know about the national or ethnic background of MPs? Wouldn't it be more important to know what values MPs stand for, what programmes they're advocating and supporting and what success they've had in trying to accomplish their goals?
Canadian soldiers in the past developed a spirit of camaraderie, and a sense of shared purpose-regardless of where in our country they came from, regardless of their national background. They all wore, and saw on one another, the shoulder patch which simply read "CANADA."
Let's start taking pride in all we have accomplished together in the past, and let's show enthusiasm for the great things we hope to do together in the future.
The best way for us to live up to the challenge and the promise of this vast country of ours, and the most positive way to start thinking and working together, is for each of us to say: "I am a Canadian."
The appreciation of the meeting was expressed by Mayor Bruce Sinclair, City of Etobicoke and a Director, The Empire Club of Canada.