Your Public, Your Policy
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 8 Jan 1976, p. 191-203
Carrothers, Dr. A.W.R., Speaker
Media Type
Item Type
Four major issues facing Canada and the rest of the world: population, food, energy, and the environment. Questions to consider for the future. Challenges of identifying possible areas of change, determining how much change is within our control, and deciding what choices we want to make. The Institute for Research on Public Policy. Purpose: to illuminate the routes available to Canada's decision-makers in the years ahead. The Institute must be both independent and innovative to reach its goals. Mandate is to improve the basis for informed choice and decision by the public of Canada and its elected representatives. Lack of awareness of the Institute. Activities of the Institute. A description of the Institute's projects and studies. Plans for future activities. Criteria used in the selection of research projects by the Institute. A review of the people involved of the Institute. The necessity to preserve intellectual freedom.
Date of Original
8 Jan 1976
Language of Item
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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
JANUARY 8, 1976
Your Public, Your Policy
CHAIRMAN The President, H. Allan Leal, Q.C.


Ladies and gentlemen: We bid you a cordial welcome to this, the first meeting of The Empire Club of Canada in the New Year.

In a sense, one is intrigued by the fact that only after one hundred years as a nation have we thought it necessary or desirable to establish a facility whose function is to provide a firm, factual and statistical base for public planning and policy in this country. This may be a mark of our maturity or a monument to our former stupidity. Whichever view one takes, the establishment of the Institute for Research on Public Policy is an important event in the history of our national development. The product of its labours will, hopefully, not only provide the informational component for the better solution of our problems, but give us a keener appreciation of what the real problems are. Perhaps we may soon be better able to get on with the task of draining the swamp without worrying so much about the alligators that beset us on all sides.

Instant institutions are like instant coffee--they lack taste and have little body, but they do have an aroma! Our fledgling social structures must be guided and nurtured by patient, devoted and intelligent men who are prepared to expend the time and effort to bring them, in the fullness of time, to that degree of excellence which inspires public confidence and justifies their existence.

It is no surprise, then, that in this context we should have turned to Dr. A.W.R. Carrothers to act as President of the Institute, since he has had uncommon success with the administration of relatively young institutions and wide experience in the public service area. Born in Saskatchewan, and therefore ingrained with an instinct to try anything once, he took his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws degrees from the University of British Columbia, his Master of Laws and Doctor of Juridical Science degrees from the Law School of Harvard University, and has been awarded a Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) degree from both the University of Saskatchewan and McMaster. Of course, he will have his own preference in that regard, but so do I.

He has served as a professional law teacher at the University of British Columbia and Dalhousie University, as Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Western Ontario, and as President of the University of Calgary. He is well known, respected and admired for his outstanding work in the field of labour law and labour management relations and public administration generally.

It is a privilege for me to introduce the President of the Institute for Research on Public Policy, and a close personal friend, Dr. A.W.R. Carrothers.


All of us speculate about the future, especially the future of our country and our respective positions in it. The future offers hope and challenge: opportunity to plan and build better than we have before.

Yet if we care to look, and we must look and care, we can see some ominous streaks in the clouds forming on the horizon of Canada's future.

I do not believe we face an apocalyptic future. But the world, and Canada in the world, faces four overarching issues, and Canada's domestic problems must be managed in that context. They are, simply stated, population, food, energy and the environment.

By the year 2000, for instance, how will we have reconciled the demand for productivity, with its consumption of natural resources, with the demand for a protected environment?

Will we, as an energy-producing nation, have accepted conservation, to the point where we can maintain something close to self-sufficiency?

As the keeper of nearly four million square miles in the crowded global village that is the world, could we, and should we, in Canada, also shelter or otherwise support a much larger population than at present? What are the real limitations of our recurring and non-recurring resources, particularly agriculture and the production of protein?

Much of the future may be inevitable. Yet, there is much that is within our control, once we understand the options. The real task is to identify areas of change, to determine how much change is within our control, and to decide what choices we want to make. That is an easy formula to state. Given the fact that things once done seldom can be undone, it is a severe and uncompromising formula to apply.

I am privileged to be the president of a totally new and different type of organization which has been charged with the mission of researching and analyzing public policy issues reaching into the long term--five to 25 years.

In a real sense, the Institute for Research on Public Policy is being asked to illuminate the routes available to Canada's decision-makers in the years ahead. To perform this role, the Institute must be both independent and innovative.

The object of our work, at all times, is to contribute to the quality of decision-making by submitting for public discussion well documented studies that explore the implications of alternative policies.

The Institute itself will not attempt to recommend policy decisions, although the authors of its reports doubtless will. Rather, its mandate calls upon it to improve the basis for informed choice and decision by the public of Canada and its elected representatives. The task is to present the options, to let Canadians know what are the choices. That is our primary task.

We are determined that the findings of our research studies must reach the widest possible audience. The Institute was not founded to serve as a think-tank to emit theoretical dissertations reaching only an interested few. Nor was the Institute founded to duplicate the efforts of existing research organizations.

From the beginning, we resolved that our studies must be practical and down-to-earth. Most of all, they must be understandable: we seek clarity in our endeavours. All our studies will revolve around policy choices for Canada's law makers on major issues. Our reports will be circulated widely. They are not going to be shelved.

The Institute is hardly a household word. Perhaps most members of Parliament in Ottawa give the Institute few conscious thoughts, even though it had its origins in Parliament. It grew from a recommendation in the Throne Speech of 1968. The Prime Minister said: "It would be most useful to have available to all governments an institute where long-term research and thinking can be carried out into governmental matters of all kinds. At the present time there is no such facility available in this country."

The level of awareness of the Institute and its broad mandate to serve public policy is probably even lower in the legislatures and assemblies of the ten provinces and the Councils of the two Territories. Yet, the growth of the Institute also depends on their support.

The Institute soon will ask the private sector for financial support, in addition to the assistance from the federal and provincial governments. The private sector is a one-third partner in this national endeavour to establish firmly a Canadian research organization specifically to conduct studies on long-term public policy. The total projected endowment from all sources is $30 million.

We do not claim, for one moment, that the Institute can give insight to all policy options open to the public and its elected representatives for the next twenty-five years. However, we are pleased to note that a growing number of people think the present program is a noble beginning. Ultimately, the success of the Institute will be in proportion to the degree in which we contribute to improving the basis for informed choice.

You may ask, with justification, why is the Institute not better known, if it has formed such an ambitious career plan? The answer is that we have not been attracting attention to ourselves until we could build a record of performance. Let me now give you that record.

The initial research projects centre around the theme of population trends and developments in Canada. The consideration of the population factor is likely to be present in any major issue of Canadian public policy for the next twenty-five years. Undoubtedly, population policy, particularly as it relates to immigration and food supply, will continue as one of the most contentious issues, not only in Canada but in the world, for the rest of this century and well into the next.

Our first study goes well beyond population policy as such. It examines trends and developments and seeks new perceptions. It identifies major changes that may be expected in Canada's population and raises questions of major importance to the well-being of Canadians. The work is being assessed at this moment prior to our issuing the study as a public document. While the basic report on the first project is now in hand, it will not be published until it has a thorough preview by eminent Canadians. It is our intention that interested definable groups be given the opportunity to consider the issues and implications raised by the research. For instance, labour unions, management associations, civil servants and legislators all share an interest in understanding what alternatives confront the country on population policy and other policies which are related to population patterns.

Another project, this on an aging population, is under way. Not long ago, when through a rising birth rate the age of the average Canadian fell to 28 years, we used to hear the warning, don't trust anyone over 30. The average age is now rising and will continue to rise, and the old age dependency group will continue to expand. Instead of the admonition to trust no one over 30, we now hear talk of "grey power". An aging population will have different needs, and it is not too soon to understand what they will be. Therefore our project will study the magnitude of requirements for social services in Canada's older population, with specific emphasis on health, housing and community services, and income security.

A third project, now under way, will study migrations and linguistic groups, with a basis in data on changing fertility rates. Where will Canadian babies be born, where will people move to and why, what will be the mosaic of languages and cultures, and what issues of public policy await us in these emerging patterns of human relationships? The project is scheduled for completion in the spring of 1977.

Another study, this one on communications and transportation policy, is scheduled for completion early in 1976. This project makes a broad examination of transportation and communications in relation to social, economic and constitutional conditions. Its object is to contribute to the search for consensus between federal and provincial levels of government on transportation and telecommunications issues.

Another study is on growth in the public service. It will review the past twenty years' growth and identify the main causes of growth, and will raise issues of policy for public debate. It is scheduled for completion in mid-1977.

Five manuscripts are under review for publication in 1976. One is the study on population trends and developments described earlier. The second is a survey of research in the field of law and public policy in Canada. There are also three shorter manuscripts involving research on active population programs, policy research on the distribution of the Canadian population, and collective bargaining as public policy. The study on transportation and telecommunications should also be reviewed this year.

Much more than all this is planned, and will be undertaken as our resources grow. I should like to tell you about these plans, because they will be receiving increasing attention during 1976.

The first and most important one is a proposed program in the field of trend analysis and forecasting. Those words may sound technical, but they describe a program of great practicality. I said earlier that the Institute is committed to inquiring into issues of public policy relating to significant change in the lives of Canadians over the next five to twenty-five years. It is critical that we have a sound rational approach to identifying those areas in our lives where that kind of change is likely to occur.

The forecasting program is being designed to identify those areas, as best one can peer into the future, through analyzing present trends and through other techniques of future research. One must also look carefully for significant changes in trends, for nothing is more self-deluding than assuming that matters as they are now developing will continue in that direction forever. The future will be full of surprises, and we must try to minimize our surprises as best we can through knowledge and perception and such insights as may be gained from disciplined thought. The product of this work will be put to use in two ways.

First, it must be published, in order that others may consider and debate its meaning for their lives and for the decisions which may be opened to them.

Second, subject areas identified through these efforts should be studied more deeply, either within the Institute or by others who are interested in the work and are competent to perform it. It is not our intention to alarm people with frightening descriptions of pending disasters. But it is our function, and our duty, to inform people of what we can learn through disciplined inquiry. We must examine the kind of public policy decisions which the public needs to think about and express themselves on, and which political leaders need to confront in as informed a way as they can.

Implicit in everything I have been saying is the need for the Institute to have an organized and effective program for carrying the results of its labours to the public of Canada and its leaders. We must serve our mandate of improving the basis for informed choice and decision through research and analysis. We call this our dissemination program, and that too is receiving our close attention in 1976.

In conjunction with this program, we are looking to see whether we can appropriately and effectively serve as an information centre for similar research in other parts of Canada. We must consider whether we can and should offer forecasting services as a professional aid to those who might seek it.

We are also working on the design of two other studies of wide interest and significance. The first is a study of the interrelationships among federal, provincial and local governments. The theme we are exploring is the "rationalization" of programs. The perspective we propose to take is the point of view of local governments. We do not propose to get bogged down in constitutional issues. We do propose to look at problems and at choices available for managing them.

The next project is a study of the development and implementation of federal/provincial policies in the field of social security. We are not interested in looking at the past for its own sake. But we can learn about the realities of our own political processes in order that they might be used as intelligently as possible. If such an inquiry leads to improving the processes, everyone stands to gain.

Three other areas are before us, but have not been developed to the point where we can claim them as potential projects. The first is in the field of citizen participation in the development and implementation of public policies. The second is in the vast field of law and public policy. And the third is the relationship between the need for development and the need for protection of the environment, with a view to determining how both these human needs can best be served.

Clearly there is much to do of practical significance and importance to all Canadians, and the Institute must use its talents and resources as skillfully as possible.

Our studies are guidelines for future political choice. They are not addressed to day-today political issues. In that sense, the Institute is non-political. It is also non-committed, non-secret and non-profit. Its purpose is to improve the means of making public policy decisions.

Governments of course authorize and finance any number of commissions, probes, inquiries and research projects, other than our Institute. These bodies are usually constituted from an atmosphere of current crisis and their reports offer immediate short-term strategies. That is not our role.

University research most often is a product of individual choice. Research in the private sector is generally directed to the needs of a particular enterprise, and the information gained often is of a classified nature. Again, that is not the role of the Institute. Our research is not confidential and the information from these studies is intended for public consumption.

What then, are the criteria used in the selection of research projects by the Institute?

A project must be of broad public interest. It must be in a policy field where significant change is likely to occur or should occur within the next 25 years.

The subject must not be in a field occupied by other research groups, or likely to be so occupied.

There must be a demonstrated, practical need for the research results. The study should be designed to provide for maximum use of the results obtained.

Any project undertaken must be completed within a reasonable period of time and within available resources.

At this stage in the development of the Institute, the base has been firmly placed for what is planned as an enduring fixture in research and analysis of public policy choices for Canada.

The doors of the Institute were opened, appropriately enough, on July 1, 1974. The offices are within view of the University of Montreal. It is our good fortune to have on our governing bodies, the Board of Directors and the Council of Trustees, a representative cross-section of many walks of life. All these viewpoints are most welcome.

They are the views of doctors and lawyers, poets and priests, bankers and activists, writers and editors, public servants and trade union leaders, professors and businessmen. The list includes the former premier of Ontario.

Among the ex-officio council members are the presidents or chairmen of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, the Canada Council, the Institute of Public Administration of Canada, the Medical Research Council, the National Research Council, the Royal Society of Canada, the Science Council of Canada and the Social Science Research Council of Canada.

It was also our good fortune to assemble a core staff of highly qualified professionals with backgrounds in anthropology, computer science, demography, economics, engineering physics, environmental studies, genetics, law, mathematics, physics, political science, sociology and statistics.

We seek always the difficult blend of theory and practice. None of us, even academics, can afford the luxury of talking to ourselves. In the long run, all are looking for practical choices.

But whom will the Institute serve? Will it really be of benefit to the average Canadian, the ubiquitous man on the street? Our mandate is to conduct long-term research and thinking into government matters of all kinds. That is precisely why our work relates to the general public.

The process of legislation and governing is much too serious a business to be left as the sole concern of governments. Nor should decisions on questions of public policy be left as the sole concern of the decision makers. If we live in a participatory democracy, then major policy choices must be aired in the forum of public opinion.

For its part, the Institute will strive to present alternatives, carefully and impartially. The necessity for preserving intellectual freedom is recognized by our supporters from the federal and provincial governments, and the private sector. The endowment fund will allow the Institute to maintain that freedom.

That is why we have widely representative directors and trustees on our governing bodies. That is why we seek to build and maintain a nation-wide, indeed an international, network of contacts into and out of the Institute. That is why we cast our net widely in the recruitment of professional personnel.

In the words of Horace, "He who has begun his task has half done it." Horace added: "Have the courage to be wise." The Institute has begun its task and we now seek the Golden Fleece of wisdom in the national interest.

Our distinguished visitor and speaker was thanked by Major-General Bruce J. Legge, Q.C., C.St.J., E.D., C.D., The Major General Reserves, and a Past President of The Empire Club of Canada.


Ladies and gentlemen, I am all too painfully aware that at this very hour, in Holy Blossom Synagogue, eulogies are being pronounced on the late Nathan Phillips, Q.C., "the mayor of all the people". He enjoyed this club and supported it in every possible way, not least by his frequent attendance. We were pleased to recognize his presence here as recently as December 11, 1975. He was in turn loved and admired by its members. On a personal note, I would add that on that last occasion he was good enough to seek me out after lunch and he said: "Keep doing your homework, son. You're no turkey, you know!" Such was the nature and measurement of his compliments, but one was glad to accept them from him in any form.

In these circumstances, it is difficult not to be sad. But Nate Phillips was a happy warrior, and as such he should be remembered. When the trumpets sound for him on the other side, he will be greeted by his cronies in a manner the like of which will not have been experienced by the heavenly host in a long time.

We extend our deepest sympathy to his widow and family. May their profound sense of loss be assuaged and be more easily borne by the sure knowledge that it is shared with a veritable host of his friends and admirers.

As was said of Sir Christopher Wren, so is it true of him whom we mourn: "Si monumentum requiris, circumspice! If it is a monument you seek--look about you!" Look about you, indeed, anywhere in this great city, because all of it has been touched by his guiding hand and lay in his loving care. I would ask that you stand and with me observe a moment of silence in memory of a truly great Canadian, an unexcelled Torontonian and a devoted member of The Empire Club of Canada.

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Your Public, Your Policy

Four major issues facing Canada and the rest of the world: population, food, energy, and the environment. Questions to consider for the future. Challenges of identifying possible areas of change, determining how much change is within our control, and deciding what choices we want to make. The Institute for Research on Public Policy. Purpose: to illuminate the routes available to Canada's decision-makers in the years ahead. The Institute must be both independent and innovative to reach its goals. Mandate is to improve the basis for informed choice and decision by the public of Canada and its elected representatives. Lack of awareness of the Institute. Activities of the Institute. A description of the Institute's projects and studies. Plans for future activities. Criteria used in the selection of research projects by the Institute. A review of the people involved of the Institute. The necessity to preserve intellectual freedom.