Canada, Quebec and the Constitution
Publication
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 28 Apr 1977, p. 365-382
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Forsey, Senator Eugene A., Speaker
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Text
Item Type
Speeches
Description
Questions and suggested answers, with discussion, to various issues regarding Canada, Quebec and the Constitution. Questions asked include: Can Quebec legally secede from Canada under our present Constitution? Is there any way in which Quebec could constitutionally get out of Canada? What is it? In what circumstances, … will the Parliament of Canada ask for an amendment of this sort? Is there any precedent? In what circumstances would the provinces agree to give their unanimous, or nearly unanimous, consent? The question of the corridor between the Atlantic provinces and the rest of Canada. The St. Lawrence Seaway. The issue of bargaining. The idea of economic association. Decentralization. What do we need in a new constitution? The strengthening of the spirit of Canadianism.
Date of Original
28 Apr 1977
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English
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The speeches are free of charge but please note that the Empire Club of Canada retains copyright. Neither the speeches themselves nor any part of their content may be used for any purpose other than personal interest or research without the explicit permission of the Empire Club of Canada.
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Full Text
APRIL 28, 1977
Canada Quebec and the Constitution
AN ADDRESS BY Senator Eugene A. Forsey, Q.C., PH.D., LL.D.,
CHAIRMAN The President, William L. Karn

MR. KARN:

Right Honourable Sir, Your Honour, Senator Forsey, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen: We are indeed honoured to be welcoming as our guest of honour today a member of the Senate of Canada whose curriculum vita should include more superlatives than any other, but which, in keeping with his accustomed modesty, merely lists his many accomplishments. The length of that list is prodigious.

Senator Forsey, who entered this world in Grand Bank, Newfoundland, just eighteen months after the founding of The Empire Club of Canada, even now displays more energy than many men several years his junior. When we originally asked him to consider visiting with us, he begged for consideration of his work load, his health and his age, and it was therefore with some misgivings that I pressed on with a formal invitation. His acceptance confirms the hallmark of this sterling servant of Canada. His remarks today will not only enlighten us on several aspects of our constitution, but will also form a significant chapter in our series of year books for reference and study by future generations of Canadians.

Two weeks ago I heard that he had laryngitis and I had to scramble to find an alternate speaker for April 14. I was reminded of a happening in my years as a student, working in the summer with steel riggers and boiler makers who were erecting a power house in a pulp mill in eastern Canada. One of them contracted laryngitis.

He worked all day, he took his evening meal, and he went to the doctor's office in the evening. The office was in the doctor's house, and the doctor's charming wife was acting as his nurse.

The steel rigger knocked on the door and in his maximum volume possible whispered, "Is the doctor in?"

The wife said, "No--come on in!"

Senator Forsey's love for economics and political science, philosophy and English shone through his illustrious academic career which began at McGill University with a B.A. in 1925, and an M.A. in 1926. This earned him a Rhodes Scholarship, which took him to Balliol College, Oxford, where he again acquired a B.A. in 1928, and a second M.A. in 1932. McGill University granted him his Ph.D. in 1941. Our guest of honour generously shared with others his knowledge of political science, economics and history, by lecturing over a period of forty-two years at McGill, Carleton, Waterloo and Queen's Universities. For twenty-seven years, from 1942 to 1969, he was Director of Research and of Special Projects for the Canadian Labour Congress and its predecessor.

To the betterment of community life, at home and abroad, he has made a commendable contribution, serving through the Board of Evangelism and Social Service of the United Church of Canada in its commission on biculturalism; as Canadian co-ordinator, World University Service Seminar, Mysore, India; as a member of the Board of Broadcast Governors; as a member of the advisory council of the Institute of Social and Economic Research, Memorial University; as a member of the Ontario Advisory Committee on Confedaration, 1965 to 1970; and first as Governor, and since 1973 as Chancellor of Trent University.

He is an author of note. May I mention his latest book, published in 1974, entitled Freedom and Order.

Honorary degrees, eleven in number, have been showered upon him by universities from Newfoundland to Saskatchewan. When I visited at his office on November 12, a parliamentary holiday in Ottawa, he was one of the two or three people at work on Parliament Hill. He was preparing his address for the Carleton University Convocation the day following.

"Vir clarissime, te, ab academis illustribus undecies honoratum, propter multa beneficia publica, in societatem impericaem animo grato accipimus."

In case there may be one or two in the audience who have lost their facility with Latin, as I myself have done, may I translate what I was trying to say.

Illustrious Sir, we warmly welcome you to the Empire Club, you who have eleven times been honoured by distinguished universities on account of your many public services.

For these many services to Canada, Senator Forsey was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1968, and of the Order of Canada in 1969, being summoned to the Senate in 1970.

Although his biography states that he stood as a candidate in elections for Montreal City Council, the Ontario Legislature and the House of Commons, there is no mention of his winning. However, his current recognition is undoubtedly the envy of several lesser politicians who may have been elected in his stead.

Sir John A. Macdonald once said that "in the Upper House, the controlling and regulating but not initiating branch, we have the sober second thought in legislation." Some critics might even say the first thought! Stephen Leacock, a teacher of Eugene Forsey at McGill, described himself as a liberal Conservative or a conservative Liberal, with a strong dash of sympathy with the socialist idea, a friend of labour and a believer in progressive radicalism. He said that he did not desire office, but would take a seat in the Canadian Senate at five minutes notice. I wonder how far off the mark he was in describing our guest of honour today.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am highly honoured to invite Senator Eugene A. Forsey to speak to us on the subject which he revealed to me ten minutes ago, "Canada, Quebec and the Constitution".

SENATOR FORSEY:

Your Honour, Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen: After that glowing introduction, I am afraid that you will be expecting something very much better than you are at all likely to get.

Some of you have perhaps heard me tell the story of the introduction I got once in Prince Edward Island, which for candour and brevity I think left nothing to be desired, and also certainly had the merit, from the point of view of the speaker, of not leading to exaggerated hopes. They had asked John Dickey, who was a Parliamentary Assistant in the St. Laurent government, to be the star turn on this occasion, an adult education conference. In his honour, they had got the premier of the province to take the chair. The premier gave John Dickey a perfectly orthodox introduction, but when it came to me it was perfectly evident he had never heard of me in his life, and this was too soon. His introduction was simply this: "Ladies and gentlemen, here's Mr. Forsey. I don't know much about him, but here he is."

That certainly had the advantage for the speaker of not raising anybody's hopes. After that, no matter how badly I did, nobody could go away saying, "We were led to expect great things, and look what we got."

Today I am not in that happy position. I have been covered with flowers, garlanded so to speak, by the President. To my great embarrassment, I must confess that the Latin quotation passed me by completely. Many years ago I might have understood it, but I certainly do not now. It reminded me of a story of my greatgrandfather, who emigrated from Nova Scotia to Gaspé in 1851, who on one occasion was teasing an old Irishman in Gaspé, Mr. Doolan.

He said, "Mr. Doolan, do you understand Latin?"
"No, Mr. Shaw."
"Do any of the people in your church understand Latin?"
"No, Mr. Shaw."
"But you have all your services in Latin."
"Yes, Mr. Shaw."
"Well, how do you account for that?"

The old man looked at him for a minute or two, and then he said, "Well, I'll tell you, Mr. Shaw. Latin is the only language that mystifies the devil."

I hope this doesn't mean that today I find myself here in a diabolical capacity.

I was originally put down on the paper, I believe, as talking about repatriation of the Constitution. I'm afraid that's a dead duck for the present, and I don't therefore propose to talk about it. I recognize that it's a bit disconcerting to have somebody announce to talk about one thing and find that he's going to talk about another. But I think you'll agree that the subject of "Canada, Ouébec and the Constitution" is topical. You can't say that it is something entirely academic, something up in the stratosphere which only professors or such people are interested in. On the contrary, it is a matter of deadly seriousness and profound danger that we deal with when we undertake to discuss this subject.

I want to say at the very beginning that nobody is responsible for anything that I say today except myself. I don't want anybody chalking up any indiscretions of mine or any unfortunate words or any false ideas to the discredit of the Liberal party, the government of Canada, the Senate, the United Church of Canada, the Royal Society of Canada, the Order of Canada, or any other body that I may have the good fortune to belong to. Having said that I think I can plunge--and here I remember one bit of Latin in medias res.

I think the Latin scholars will agree that that is probably correct. I shall plunge right into the middle of what I want to say.

I put down the subject in my own head, and subsequently confided it to the president, "Canada, Quebec and the Constitution", and I felt that one of the first things I must do was to say at once that I do not regard this as the most important aspect of this general subject of Canada, and Quebec, and national unity. I admit at once what various people have hurled at me on occasion, at discussions after a speech, that the Constitution doesn't settle the thing. Many people have got up after a speech of mine and said, "Does the Constitution really matter? If Quebec is determined to get out, won't she get out anyway?"

My answer to that has been that if you can bring off a successful revolution, like the one in which the rebellious inhabitants of the Thirteen Colonies drove out some of my ancestors, then the constitution of the time obviously does not matter. But my impression has always been that Monsieur Lévesque and the Parti Quebecois intended to do this thing peacefully, and if possible at all events, constitutionally. If that impression is false, then we are in even worse state than I had supposed. However, I am making that assumption, and I think therefore that it is of some importance to see exactly what the constitutional position is. That leads one a little aside into some other matters which are perhaps not strictly constitutional, but I think are relevant, nonetheless.

I feel that before I say anything else, I really ought to close my eyes and utter the prayer which everyone preaching in our little French church where I shall, in about ten days, if I survive, be preaching my nineteenth French sermon--Protestant ministers of the French language being rather scarce, the laity have to pitch in when the minister is away--and I venture to think that on the whole my French is superior to that of my old friend John Diefenbaker. What the preacher always says before the sermon is, "Que les paroles de ma bouche et les méditations de nos cceurs to soient agréables, O Seigneur, notre roche et notre rédempteur!"

For those of you who are not even half bilingual, like me, that means "May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, our strength and our Redeemer."

I say this very seriously, because this is such an important question, such a vital question, such a crucial question, one that goes so deeply into the whole life of Canada, and in the long run, of every Canadian citizen of whatever degree or importance, that I feel that it has to be dealt with in a spirit of humility, a prayerful spirit. I hope also, a thoughtful spirit. I don't think a prayerful spirit excludes the use of our minds.

"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy mind, and with all thy soul, and thy neighbour as thyself."

There are certain basic facts that need to be made clear, first of all, about this question of Canada, Quebec and the Constitution.

First, can Quebec legally secede from Canada under our present Constitution? The answer is no. The provincial legislatures have only the powers given to them by the British North America Act, and you can search that Act from end to end and find not so much as one syllable which gives any province the power to secede.

Is there any way in which Quebec could constitutionally get out of Canada? And the answer is yes. What is it? There would have to be an amendment to the British North America Act, passed by the British Parliament.

There are certain amendments to the British North America Act that we can pass ourselves in our own Parliament. We could, in fact, abolish the monarchy (or I might add, the Senate--descending from great things to small) by a simple Act of Parliament, just as easily, legally speaking, as we can amend the Food and Drugs Act or the Criminal Code. But there is a vast area of jurisdiction which is reserved to the British Parliament in strict law, and one part of that area is the powers of the legislatures of the provinces. If we want to give any province extra powers, it must be done by an amendment of the British North America Act passed by the United Kingdom Parliament.

The United Kingdom Parliament, of course, in these matters acts simply as a rubber stamp. If the Parliament of Canada asks for an amendment, the Parliament of the United Kingdom passes it practically instantaneously. I don't think it would take even as long as it did over passing the original British North America Act, which as you will remember, Sir John A. Macdonald or Sir Alexander Galt--I've forgotten which of them--said that they did as easily and quickly as if they were changing the boundaries of an English parish.

In what circumstances, however, will the Parliament of Canada ask for an amendment of this sort? Is there any condition precedent? I think the answer is that ever since 1930, every amendment of the British North America Act which has directly affected the provinces has been passed only after the unanimous consent either of the provinces concerned, such as in the case of the four western provinces' natural resources, or all the provinces. My friend, Professor Lederman, now the dean of constitutional law professors in the country, has laid it down in a recent speech in Halifax that this not only constitutes a constitutional convention, a rule of constitutional usage, but that he believes it to be recognized by the courts as having the force of law.

With great deference, and diffidence, and proper humility I venture to be just a little bit doubtful of its being quite as firm as that. I speak in the presence of distinguished lawyers, who may be shaking their heads and saying "Fools rush in where lawyers fear to tread." But I should say that certainly it is a constitutional usage now that an amendment would not be sought without at least the virtually unanimous consent of the provinces.

I can think it possible myself that the Parliament of Canada might go ahead if, let us say, Prince Edward Island alone, or my native province of Newfoundland alone, objected. But I feel quite confident that there would have to be virtually unanimous consent of the provinces.

The answer to the question "Could Quebec legally and constitutionally secede?" is yes, provided all the other provinces consented, or nearly all the other provinces.

That leads me, then, to the somewhat less strictly constitutional aspect of the question. In what circumstances would the provinces agree to give their unanimous, or nearly unanimous, consent? I think the answer to that is that there would have to be a great deal of very tough, hard-nosed bargaining; and this, even if there was the greatest good will on both sides, and I am afraid that much as we may desire that good will it might not be entirely ubiquitous. There might be sour, jarring notes struck. I am not by any means convinced that it would be a situation where the French Canadians of Quebec would be so thankful to get us off their backs and we would be so thankful to get them off our backs that everybody would be in a spirit of beautiful brotherly love and accommodation on every subject, even the toughest problem. I am afraid that would not be so.

Anyway, even if it were so, there are some extraordinarily tough problems that would have to be solved before the provinces, or the Parliament of Canada for that matter, would give consent to such an amendment. For one thing, there is the question of the boundaries of Quebec. I don't think there is any doubt that the Parti Quebecois would want to seize, by some means or other, Labrador. I am a fifth generation Newfoundlander, and I have said more than once, publicly and privately, that if there is any question of trying to seize Labrador every Newfoundlander in the world would rise to the defence of that boundary, and all the dead ones would rise from their graves and join us. As Dr. Howes would confirm, I think, Newfoundlanders are fairly tough specimens. About a third of them are of Irish ancestry, and most of the rest of us, like myself, are west country English. Most of us came originally from Devon and Somerset, possibly a few from Cornwall and other parts of the west country.

Then there's also the question of Ungava, the great big territory that was given to Quebec in 1898 and 1912, and given to it simply as a province of Canada. It was a territory bought by Canada, with Canadian money, from the Hudson's Bay Company, and given to Quebec to administer as part of the province as a province of Canada. If Quebec becomes a foreign country, then as one of my former colleagues in the House of Commons said, "It's a new ball game." It doesn't follow that they can take that territory with them. I am told that in 1912 the population of the territory consisted of three Scotsmen, two Irishmen, one Englishman, one Welshman and three French Canadians, something of that sort. At any rate, the whole lot of Europeans put together came to about a dozen, or less than twenty. I got this information from somebody whose veracity I am inclined to trust. So there would be this question.

Then, of course, if you look up the draft constitution of the Parti Quebecois, drawn up by the present minister of education, Jacques-Yvan Morin, in 1971, it says that they expect to take over contiguous territories of Ontario and New Brunswick inhabited by a French Canadian majority.

I don't know whether that is still part of their official program, but I said many years ago, before there was any chance, it appeared, of these gentry becoming the government of Quebec, I said that there would almost certainly be a movement in an independent Quebec for a Laurentia irredenta, there would be an irredentist movement, an appeal to bring our "oppressed and despised brothers in New Brunswick and Ontario" within the borders of the French Canadian state, or the Laurentian state, whatever it would be called.

I don't think there is any question that there would be some kind of attempt to get these territories. Whether the French Canadians of Ontario and New Brunswick would be very anxious to go into this new state is, I think, somewhat problematic, but I should not venture to undertake any positive opinion on that.

Then there would, of course, be the question of a corridor between the Atlantic provinces and the rest of Canada. There would be the question of the division of the national debt and the national assets, and this could be a very difficult one. There would be the question of the St. Lawrence Seaway, in which, after all, the Americans have certain legal rights, and they are perhaps even tougher than Newfoundlanders. They have also a great deal more clout, and are not at all likely to take lying down any invasion or abridgement of their rights in the St. Lawrence Seaway.

I thought that question of the St. Lawrence Seaway was a pretty difficult one, pretty complex, till I read the book published a year or so ago, One Country or Two, by McGill Queen's Press. When I read the section on the St. Lawrence Seaway, I can only describe my sensations by quoting the Queen of Sheba on Solomon: "The half hath not been told unto me." The complexities of the subject were fifty times what I had supposed, and I had thought they were considerable.

These are some of the problems, I don't know that I have mentioned even all of them, but some of the problems that will come up in bargaining. Once the new state had been established, at least, or possibly before the negotiations were concluded, there would come up the question of this famous "economic association", between an independent Quebec and what was left of Canada.

This is one of M. Lévesque's trump cards, in Quebec and out of it. In Quebec, he is trying to reassure the very large body of French Canadians who are scared stiff of independence, or are at least very worried about it. I assure you, there is a large body. A certain number of people, amiable people, full of good will, with minds open at both ends, with the gales of Heaven blowing through, are inclined to think that this economic association will solve all the problems. Mr. Lévesque is very anxious that people should think that. He says to the people of Quebec who need to be reassured, and he says to the people outside who need to be reassured, "Don't worry about the economic side of it."

This is not reassuring to the large body of French Canadian Quebec members in Ottawa who are very determined to fight this thing to the limit, who do not take it for granted, as some English-speaking academics do, that the jig is up and that the only thing that is left to us is to hurry up and make our terms with Mr. Lévesque as fast as we can do it.

This idea of economic association is being used to delude people into the notion that the separation of the country into two parts, the unscrambling of the Canadian economy, would be economically painless.

"Perfectly easy! We would have a common tariff, a common central banking system, a common monetary policy."

I noticed the other day that this committee for a new constitution said that the jurisdiction over central banking would be shared. I'd love to find a central banker who could tell me how to split the jurisdiction over central banking. I think he could immediately apply for the job of Governor of the Bank of Canada, and the present Governor would be delighted to make way for him. He would be a genius, brought down from Heaven.

Well anyway, you would have this common tariff, common monetary policy, common transcontinental transportation policy--everything simple and easy. No disturbance economically at all.

Well--the only way you could have a common tariff, a common central bank, a common monetary policy and so forth, would be either to have an authority regulating these things in which Canada, as the larger partner would have the final say, or one in which you would have a 50/50 arrangement, with Quebec and Canada with equal voices. This latter I always understood to be the Parti Quebecois proposal.

I put it to Mr. Lévesque one time, as we both sat crosslegged on the floor of a gymnasium in Winnipeg after a speech he had made, that I didn't think this 50/50 arrangement would work--I'll tell you in a moment: wait for the denouement! Wait for the punch line! I'll tell you in a moment his reply.

When I put it to him that I didn't think it would work, I put it to him like this: "Quebec would undoubtedly want the common tariff raised on the products of various Quebec industries like textiles and boots and shoes, which are in a very difficult situation." This was some years ago. It's worse now.

I said, "But Canada might say, 'No, not a bit of it. Those are not our industries any more. They are yours and they are your affair. We don't want the common tariff raised on these things. We want cheap textiles and boots and shoes, wherever we can get them. We want the common tariff lowered."'

Then I said, "In monetary policy, you would almost certainly ask for a great expansion of the money supply in order to cope with your unemployment situation, and Canada would almost certainly say 'No. We are afraid of that. It might lead to gross inflation. We want the money supply rather restricted.' "

Finally I said, "It seems to me that either side would have a complete, absolute veto on something the other side regarded as absolutely essential."

Well, to my absolute flabbergasted amazement--if I hadn't already been sitting on the floor I should have undoubtedly fallen off my perch--Mr. Lévesque replied, "Oh, not necessarily 50/50: one third/two thirds."

And I said, "But Mr. Lévesque, for years you people have been complaining, wrongly I think, but you have been complaining, that you were in a minority of one third. If you accepted that arrangement, you would be in a perpetual minority of one third, locked in, tight."

I see no escape from this dilemma. Either in this common management Canada would have the final voice, and I can't see an independent Quebec accepting that. Or Quebec and Canada would have equal voices, and I can't see either Quebec or Canada accepting that. This economic association thing is a horse that won't run. That needs to be driven home hard to the people of both Quebec and of the rest of Canada. This will not work! It is out of the question. If Quebec gets independence, it will get it, as I have said elsewhere, neat. It will not get economic association. The thing is simply impossible. If it did get it, the thing would blow up before you could say "Jack Robinson".

Now I want to say just one or two things more, which I think are relevant.

Many people, faced with this situation, come forward with a single word which they appear to think possesses all the magic of what the old lady called "that blessed word Mesopotamia in the Scripture", from which she had derived such help, strength and comfort. And the blessed word is "decentralization".

I want to put people on their guard against the magic of that word. Canada is now probably the most decentralized federation in the world. On paper, perhaps, Switzerland is slightly more decentralized. In fact, I doubt if Switzerland is more decentralized. Furthermore, not only is that true but over the last ten years, years in which the present prime minister has been either Minister of Justice or Prime Minister, there has been a massive transfer of real power from the dominion to the provinces. And if you think this is merely the mouthing of an old John A. Macdonald Conservative, then I invite you to look at a recent article by Professor Simeon, the head of the Queen's University Institute of Intergovernmental Relations, in which he says this flatly. So don't take my word for it. Professor Simeon knows far more about federalism in the rest of the world than I'll ever know. This is his verdict. I think it is in accordance with the facts. It's also the verdict of Professor Ramsay Cook, also a distinguished scholar on this subject.

Let us not be led astray by this magic word decentralization. When people talk about that, tell them to get down to brass tacks and say what more they would decentralize. They would probably be able to produce a few things. I've only seen two or three things suggested and they haven't impressed me very much, I must say. I was on the Joint Committee on the Constitution some years ago, and we found two or three relatively small things which we thought with advantage could be transferred from the central authority to the provinces, but only two or three. Marriage and divorce, for example, and that part of the criminal code that deals with lotteries and Sunday observance, and certain aspects of social security which have now been dealt with by joint legislation between Quebec and the Parliament of Canada. We couldn't find very much else.

I've seen it suggested that municipal affairs might be more decentralized. Well, that nearly knocked me flat seeing that the exclusive jurisdiction over municipal institutions is now vested in the provincial legislatures. The only reason that there is a Minister of State for Urban Affairs in Ottawa is that the municipalities felt themselves so boxed in, often, by the provinces that they appealed to the Government of Canada to do something for them. It is now cautiously, carefully, doing various things without invading the actual jurisdiction, making certain services and advice available, and some money available. I can't see much that can be done there, short of taking away the Ministry of State for Urban Affairs, whereupon you would hear a howl from the municipalities which would reverberate from Vladivostok to St. John's, Newfoundland.

People talk about a new constitution. Well, let's be awfully careful that we know what we are doing there. Let us get down to brass tacks there, and say what kinds of things we need in the way of a new constitution.

It's sometimes said that our constitution is 110 years old, and after all what can you expect? Of course, it's now out of date, like Victorian plumbing, or something of that sort. Well, the American Constitution is now nearly 200 years old. They have made a few amendments to it, but most of it is of the vintage of 200 years ago, and furthermore it was an antiquated constitution when they adopted it. It was their version of the early 18th century British constitution. It's a sort of 18th century sedan chair constitution, which only the political genius of the Americans enables them to manoeuvre through modern traffic. Our constitution is a late 19th century British model constitution, which we have adapted in innumerable ways to suit our own needs, and which we are further adapting every day, partly by judicial decision, partly by legislation, partly by changing habits, customs and usages. It isn't a horse and buggy constitution. It is, perhaps you might say, a railway and telegraph constitution. But it was so admirably designed by the Fathers of Confederation to meet new situations that in spite of the ravages of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council--"those old rascals", as my friend Mr. Cahan used to call them--in spite of the havoc that they have wrought upon the constitution that John A. Macdonald and George Etienne Cartier bequeathed to us, it still has an enormous amount of room for manoeuvre, an enormous amount of room for adaptation, an enormous amount of room for arrangements, written or otherwise, between the central authority and the provinces to cope with new situations.

I view with a very skeptical eye indeed this talk about drawing up a new constitution. The constitution we have now is fitted in general to cope with the enormous problems, more than national in their scope in many instances, let alone far more than provincial, which we have to face. I can't see that we are likely to improve matters by trying to go back a hundred years to the 1860's, which is what some of these proposals amount to.

I am convinced that we need a strong Canadian state. I am horrified by the decline in the spirit of national pride, national belief in our country, by the rise of provincialism, regionalism, all over the country. I don't decry provincialism and regionalism. Nobody who is a Newfoundlander can for one moment decry the virtue of local tradition. I am proud to be a Newfoundlander. I'm proud of being part Nova Scotian. I'm proud of my roots in Quebec, and I'm proud of the fact that I have lived most of my life in the province of Ontario. My pride in all these things is a part of my pride in being a Canadian. All these local traditions are subsumed in being a Canadian and in the Canadian tradition. I was brought up, even in the schools of Ontario, to believe that the French part of our tradition was part of my tradition just as much as the English part. I was brought up to be proud of the great work of the early French fur traders, coureurs de bois, explorers, missionaries. Proud also, I am, of the great contributions which French Canadians have made to our national life politically and otherwise, and the great contributions which they are making now, perhaps more than ever before in their history, to our national literature, music, theology, philosophy--name what you will.

The work that is being done in these subjects in Quebec is brilliant, and thrilling, heartwarming, stirring. I'm proud of all this. For me, Canada without Quebec would be tragically weakened, not only economically but spiritually. I hope very much that in this province we will continue on the path of giving more and more recognition to the French fact and the French Canadians. After all, the situation at Confederation was very different from what it is now. Then, 21/2 % or so of the population of Ontario was French-speaking. That was 21/2 % of a very small number. Now we have an enormous French Canadian population and we are doing more and more for them. It isn't always realized in Quebec how much. There is still something to be done. It takes time. You cannot produce overnight the kind of thing that was created in Quebec over centuries with the use of the two languages.

I hope we shall go on along that path. I hope we shall go on doing our best to make this whole country one where French Canadians feel it's just as much their country as it is ours, that Quebec is not their homeland. Canada is their homeland. I hope very much that we shall succeed in recreating where it needs to be recreated, strengthening where it is weak, the spirit of Canadianism, the devotion to this country, a devotion transcending all our local loyalties, all our ancestral loyalties, all our linguistic loyalties, a spirit which will enable us to realize, in the lifetime of people now living if not in my generation, the magnificent future that awaits this country if only we will keep our heads, and use our heads, and use our hearts.

The appreciation of the audience was expressed by the Rt. Hon. Roland D. Michener, P.C., Q.C., former President and former Honorary President of The Empire Club of Canada, and former Governor General of Canada.

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Canada, Quebec and the Constitution


Questions and suggested answers, with discussion, to various issues regarding Canada, Quebec and the Constitution. Questions asked include: Can Quebec legally secede from Canada under our present Constitution? Is there any way in which Quebec could constitutionally get out of Canada? What is it? In what circumstances, … will the Parliament of Canada ask for an amendment of this sort? Is there any precedent? In what circumstances would the provinces agree to give their unanimous, or nearly unanimous, consent? The question of the corridor between the Atlantic provinces and the rest of Canada. The St. Lawrence Seaway. The issue of bargaining. The idea of economic association. Decentralization. What do we need in a new constitution? The strengthening of the spirit of Canadianism.