Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs,
Science and Technology
Issue 17 - Evidence - October 6, 1998
OTTAWA, Tuesday, October 6, 1998
The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology met this
day at 10:00 a.m. to consider the dimensions of social cohesion in Canada in
the context of globalization and other economic and structural forces that
influence trust and reciprocity among Canadians.
Senator Lowell Murray (Chairman) in the Chair.
The Chairman: Over the past 10 or 15 years, quite a few senators have been
involved in the debates surrounding the policies which various governments have
brought in with a view to ensuring that Canada adjust to and take advantage of
the forces of globalization and technology, and of free trade, tax reform,
deregulation, privatization and open markets. Even the quest for a balanced
budget is all part of an overall policy that was designed to make Canada more
competitive and successful in this new international environment.
Those policies have been largely successful: trade has been booming; profits
have been not bad; even the stock market, until relatively recently, has been
in good shape; but none of the so-called industrialized countries, including
our own, has really come to grips with the social fallout from all of this. In
almost all of our countries, there is more inequality now than there was, and
Judith Maxwell has written about a polarization of jobs and incomes in this
country. She is not talking about the traditional problem of unemployment. She
is talking about two classes of people who have jobs: those who are reasonably
well-paid and secure with reasonably good benefits, and those who belong to the
growing number of part-time, contractual, casual, temporary job holders in jobs
that are low-paying with few benefits and almost no security.
The question that is before us, and that will be before us in the months to
come, is whether social cohesion can endure under the pressures of
globalization and technology and the kind of social fallout I have referred to.
The crass political calculation that I make from all this is that there are not
enough winners; there are too many losers from all this. People are digging in
their heels. We have only to look at what happened to the draft Multilateral
Agreement on Investment to see that. The government very prudently backed off.
The country simply was not ready to swallow it, not because I think the country
had examined it in great detail, but because people were simply not willing to
give up any more sovereignty or take any more chances.
Likewise, I do not know any political leader in this country who is willing to
invest five cents of political capital to facilitate the merger of those four
banks. Even in the United States, which is the most self-sufficient economy in
the world, the President could not obtain fast-track authority to negotiate
further free trade agreements. You can see the difficulty he is having with
Congress to get more money for the International Monetary Fund to bail out some
of the financial systems of countries that are in deep trouble. So people are
digging in their heels.
How do we make sense of all this? Those of us who fancy ourselves in the middle
of the political spectrum ought to be concerned, because the consensus that
very painfully grew up over a period of time in favour of open borders and
freer markets and deregulation, and all the rest of it, is apt to disintegrate
under these pressures unless the political leadership of our countries move into
the next phase of this, which is to ensure that the fruits of globalization and
technology are more evenly distributed and that social cohesion in our
countries is stronger, not weaker, as a result.
We have planned our work on this subject for the coming months. We have planned
it in more detail between now and Christmas, at which time we can step back and
see where we have been and where we want to go. It will be important to have
people from the academy, as we will have tomorrow, who have thought and written
about this problem. It will be important to hear from them and also to hear
from corporate Canada and from various institutions, public and private, so that
we can consider what their roles are in social cohesion.
I think we are very fortunate today to have as our lead-off witness Mr. Michael
Adams from Environics Research Group, which will get us off to a very good
start. He is a co-founder of Environics, which is a firm well-known to all of
you. Of significant importance, Environics has done more work on this subject
in this country, over a longer period of time, than any other organization that
I am aware of.
Mr. Adams's expertise is the impact of social trends on public policy and
corporate strategy. The Environics Research Group has been tracking changing
social values in Canada since 1983, and Mr. Adams is the author of the
provocatively titled and interesting and stimulating book, which came out a
while back, called, "Sex in the Snow: Canadian Social Values at the End of
With those rather lengthy opening remarks, which I hope may explain to ourselves
and especially to Mr. Adams what it is we are trying to do here, I have great
pleasure in welcoming Mr. Adams and thanking him for coming, and I ask him to
address us, after which I will open the meeting for discussion.
Mr. Michael Adams, President, Environics Research Group: Honourable senators, I
am pleased to be here today and to share my thoughts on the topic of the
implications of technology and globalization on Canadian social cohesion. In
this context, I am interpreting social cohesion to mean Canadian's trust in
each other and their institutions and their willingness to redistribute wealth
to those who are less fortune in their society.
Canada has evolved from four British colonial outposts in the mid-nineteenth
century into one of the world's most multicultural societies, a country that
offers its citizens the highest quality of life on the planet. The United
Nations Development Index has us consistently winning number one among all the
nations in the world in this category. There are 30 million people on the planet
who do not believe it. They are Canadians; the other six billion think it is
obvious. That is part of the Canadian character. Our classic penchant for
self-criticism and understatement make it difficult for many to admit Canadian
excellence in any category.
However, it is clear that we can credit the Canadian system of government, and
the good sense and hard work of its leaders and citizens over the decades since
Confederation, for this remarkable achievement: that we have been able to
create this great multicultural society in the last 125 or 130 years.
It is fitting that we would acknowledge the role of government given our
original dedication to peace, order and good government in our founding British
North America Act. Every student of Canadian history knows that the country was
created to resist the forces of American commerce and culture. The British
North American colonies may have had little love for each other, but they were
united in their fear of the United States and in their determination to seek a
better life in their own way.
John A. Macdonald's national policy of tariff protections and his national dream
of linking British colonies and territories from sea to sea by means of a
transcontinental railway were cornerstones of early Canadian public policy. In
our century, the continental pull of American business, culture and
communications has increased with each passing decade, and yet Canadians have
supported public policies that have taken us in a direction different from that
of the United States. Universal government health insurance, multiculturalism
as an official policy, and gun control legislation are merely three of the many
examples of our determination to take a different route.
In 1988 Canada broke with its past. The plurality of Canadian people voted for a
party -- ironically the same one that had been historically protectionist --
dedicated to the removal of trade barriers between Canada and the United
States. Those Canadians were saying that there is little Canada can and should
do to resist the forces of continental, economic integration. A decade later, we
use the term globalization. It is American commerce and culture that are
increasingly dominating the Canadian psyche. Canadians accept the inevitability
of powerful market forces exerted by U.S. capitalism and popular culture. They
remain emotionally attached to the concept of Canada and the unique quality of
life we have been able to create for ourselves in this country.
On the surface, a cynic would say Canadians are no different from Americans,
particularly Canadians who speak English. Yet nearly three decades of research,
tracking and analyzing public opinion, has shown that while many of the
differences between Americans and Canadians may be eroding over time -- just as
the differences between French- and English-speaking Canadians are eroding, or
the differences between the roles of men and women in our society are
disappearing, for that matter -- the differences that remain between Canadians
and Americans are significant and will have powerful political ramifications
for years to come.
In Canada and other countries there is a growing awareness of their
distinctiveness in the face of globalizing forces of capital trade and American
culture and a determination to assert or reassert sovereign control. Indeed,
the differences among the peoples of the world are, at their root, differences
of basic social and cultural values, and it is the study of the values that
motivate us as citizens, consumers, employees, parents and our other roles in
life that fundamentally preoccupy Environics.
The empirical research that Environics conducts in Canada, the United States and
well over 20 countries in the world shows substantial differences in the values
of Canadians and Americans in spite of the continental economic integration.
Some of these differences are increasing over time, such as our relative
orientation to traditional authority and moral codes.
Our research shows that there is a greater consensus of social values within
Canada as compared to the remarkable regional class and ethnocultural social
values cleavages in the United States, which is a surprising finding when you
consider Canada's historical emphasis on accommodating, if not celebrating,
differences as contrasted with the American ideology of the melting pot.
Ironically, they start with the concept that out of many they will make one. In
some respects, they are still a collection of mutually exclusive, even warring
On the other hand, we accommodate differences. We have Catholic-Protestant,
French-English, and regional differences, with no one group dominating another
but rather accommodating. In essence, it ends up with a consensus of social
values that unite us.
The consensus of social values seen across Canada reflects our history of
pragmatically blending three political ideologies -- toryism, liberalism and
socialism -- a blending that has led to policies that provide a wide range of
public services for everyone and policies that redistribute wealth to less
well-off individuals in regions. Our pragmatic penchant for order and compromise
has created a distinctively Canadian personality and identity and contributes
greatly to our quality of life.
However, values are not static; we Canadians are changing. There are deeper
social currents that are propelling us into new sociocultural terrain.
Canadians are no longer automatically deferential to institutional authority, be
it religious or secular authority. We are more dedicated than ever to personal
autonomy. We want to decide for ourselves. We are dedicated to hedonism, the
good life in the here and now, and are not willing to defer gratification to
the next life, nor to much later in this life. We have changed from a religious
definition of spiritual meaning to a more personal definition, and that is a
radical change from the days when I was growing up in Ontario in the 1950s.
Back then spirituality was expressed by turning up at mass or church every
Sunday. Today barely 20 per cent of us express our spirituality in that way.
Ours has been a more dramatic change in the orientation of traditional religious
authority than has been seen in almost any other country in the world. There is
a dramatic difference between how Canada has evolved and how the United States
has evolved on this subject.
Americans, ironically, are much more likely to cling more strongly to the
traditional values and practices of religion, family, hierarchy and patriarchy
than Canadians are. In answer to a poll on whether the father is considered to
be the head of the family, there were dramatic 20- and 30-point differences
between Canada and the United States. In the United States, Americans believe in
strong leadership in companies. Canadians think there should be many leaders,
and that leadership should be based on competence, expertise, and who has the
time to lead the project, and not simply on a title.
In respect of judgmental religious values, the Americans seem to be locked into
the Old Testament, while Canadians seem to have fitted into the New Testament
in terms of their orientation to Christianity.
There are other intriguing differences between the two cultures. Government is
still valued more by Canadians than by Americans. While politicians can no
longer count on Canadian's automatic deference, they can count on a consensus
that Canada should remain a kinder, gentler society dedicated to fairness and
equality of opportunity and that government has an important role to play.
However, unlike in the past, the government is no longer seen as the sole
arbiter of social justice. More and more Canadians want to decide and act as
individuals or act in concert with others with similar values and interests.
They want to create their own networks and institutions and do not necessarily
want to go through the traditional institutions.
Older Canadians, those whose values crystallized prior to the 1960s, want to see
in many ways a restoration of traditional values and institutions. They would
love to go back to the days when lawyers, doctors, teachers, policemen and
others in institutional authority were respected for the offices they held.
On the other hand, for the baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, who
comprise the largest group of us now, their orientation to institutions is
reform. They do not want to destroy the institutions -- they are not
revolutionaries -- but they want to reform them. They have changed the family,
the workplace, and many institutions. Those that remained within religious
organizations are making changes to them as well.
They want to see power devolved throughout society. They want to be respected.
They are individualistic. They are idealistic enough to say, "If I should
be respected, other people should too." So we talk about their ideals and
individualism. There is definitely an idealism in their thinking.
Those adults born since the 1960s are referred to as called "Generation X."
They certainly do not want, as their grandparents do, the restoration of
traditional institutions. Reform seems irrelevant to them. For them, the
Canadian nation state, and the efficacy and fairness of redistributed social
policies, seems kind of like a joke. It is irrelevant. They are interested in
their own well-being. They feel very little affinity to traditional demographic
categories, to older people, to different geographical communities, to a sense
of duty to people in regions of the country that are not well-off, even among
their own age peers. They remember when these people were in Grade 12; they
could have worked, but they did not work. Fine. If they want to be squeegee
boys and girls at the corner of Bloor and Yonge, that is their choice.
Their ideology is social Darwinism. It is the "survival of the fittest"
attitude. They are idealistic kids, but they do not have the sense of
generational exceptionalism that the baby boomers had. In my book I have one
group of baby boomers I call the "autonomous rebels." They were 25 per
cent of the defining generation. They were the first to go to university, were
very idealistic and felt that sense of generational exceptionalism. Among the
Generation X there is not that sense. They are on their own; that is their
If the attitudes of the Generation X remain in this posture, one could envision
a future in 20 or 30 years that could see reduced authority for the country's
political institutions, a decline in support for public policies that
redistribute wealth to the less fortune individuals in regions of the country
together with an increasing devolution of power to individuals acting on their
own or with networks of others who have similar interests, all in the context
of increasing influence of technology and international market forces. That is
the long term.
In the next 5 or 10 years, public policy will still be dominated by baby boomers
and the older generation as well, the pre-boomers,. The boomers are now 34 to
52. They are in the prime of life.
These are rebels in every situation and every institution. They question, but
they are not revolutionaries. They are still believing that there can be peace,
order and good government and they want to live in a country that balances
social justice, equality and the personal liberties that they enjoy.
I see the next 5 to 10 years dominated by the baby boomers, with the group over
50 being second, and the Generation Xers being third, having the sense that
they are on their own. When it comes their time in 20 years or so, their
orientation will be very different from that of the the generation that
currently is determining policy in companies and public policy in governments.
By the way, I have not brought any data. I have memorized every survey I have
ever done and my answers will be well within my margin of error, 5 per cent,
probably closer to 1 or 2 per cent.
Senator LeBreton: I am curious about the differences between the Americans and
the Canadians. How do you define or explain the differences between them? The
Americans are Old Testament and Canadians are New Testament, you say. The
Americans have gun control and an "I'm all right, Jack" attitude. How
do you explain that? It seems to be a contradiction that Canadians, who believe
in peace, order and good government, also have a much broader, more inclusive
view. How do Americans, when you poll them, explain that they think of
themselves as individuals with that "I'm all right, Jack" attitude,
and yet they adhere to some of these old values and do not suit the 1990s?
Mr. Adams: Americans are amazingly un-self-aware because they do not have a
context. They are having difficulty enough figuring out that country, let alone
placing themselves in the context of what it might be like in Canada or Europe
or in other parts of the world. Their assumption is that they have discovered
the key to the universe and that the ultimate gift that civilization can give
people is liberty, if not license. They are willing to live in a society which
gives 13 year olds the chance to fly an airplane with one or two lessons. They
are willing to live in a society that has as many guns as people because they
want to see what happens when everyone has freedom.
Canadians thought we should have some rules. Maybe the British and the French
were right. So the Canadians are another way of entering modernity. We will
stop at stop signs. We will pick up the garbage on the sidewalk. We will have
regulated monopolies because we need that at this stage of our government. We
need the government to build a railroad, the market will not do it.
One of the most incredible answers you receive in surveys comes when you ask
Canadians what the most wonderful thing about Canada is? They do not say "equality";
they say "freedom." It is very ironic.
We have freedom to be who we want to be. We have freedom from fear of poverty
that puts you into a Third World or Fourth World country status. We have
freedom from a certain potential of violence. Of course, we have had violence
in this country, but it is remarkable how we have been able to maintain the
differential between Canada and the United States on crime rates. These are not
self-reported crimes, or murder or those sorts of things. The difference between
Toronto and Buffalo, between Toronto and Detroit remains the same.
Toronto has gone from a city in which an Irish Protestant could not get a job at
City Hall in 1948 to the most multicultural city in the world. The biggest
parade in our city was the Orange Parade; now it is Caribana or the Gay Pride
The rates for murder per 100,000 are no different than they were in 1948 or
1968. Canadians have created balance here and freedom, not just "freedom
to" but "freedom from." It is that sense of balance that then
explains some of these longer-term differences between the two countries and our
orientation to what defines "liberty."
Senator LeBreton: So Canadians, when they answer the survey and they say "freedom,"
are assuming "equality." It is not something that would enter into
their minds, because they assume there is equality.
Mr. Adams: I can be who I want to be. There has been violence in Canadian
history. It is like Churchill's old statement of democracy: it is the worst
system in the world except for all the others. We have had violence in our
history, but a lot less than other countries have had. So the accommodation,
relatively speaking, between French and English, between Catholic and
Protestant, between people of different origins, has led to a culture that
allows people to be themselves as individuals and as members of groups,
realizing that our identity is both what we want to do as individuals and what
we want to do as members of groups.
As individuals, we want to decide for ourselves; we want to have a little fun on
the way through. At the same time, however, we recognize that we are members of
groups and that those group identities are valuable and should be preserved.
This has allowed people here that sense that they can be themselves. It is
probably because we have created the social welfare state. We have been fearing
for 150 years that we will become a replica of America. Ironically we are not.
Canada has social value differences.
On fundamental values of orientation, on the role and status of women in the
society, of ethnocultural minorities, of different age groups and so on, there
are 20- and 30-point differences between Canada and the United States on these.
Senator LeBreton: When the Americans speak of liberty and license, it is a
contradiction really. When you talk about them seeing the father as the head of
the household and strong leadership in companies, and so on, that is not like
what we have become accustomed to in Canada. It seems like a real
contradiction. Perhaps they have never really done a self-analysis or, because
they are a superpower in the global context, they have never looked into
themselves and tried to do a self-analysis; or do they care?
Mr. Adams: Cultures have a great deal of difficulty examining themselves.
Individuals do when they confront failure time after time. Cultures seem to
crumble under their own contradictions. Whether they become self-aware or not,
it is up to that culture and its version of democracy. Their turnout rates
would have you question whether or not that is a democracy. With the role of
interest groups and the low levels of turnout, it is possible to win a
congressional district with 17 per cent of the vote. That is not possible in
Canada. You need more than 17 per cent of the vote to win a seat in the House of
Each culture appears to be in dialogue with itself, dealing with the forces of
globalization and technology; it is a fact of sociocultural history that they
do take their own course. If you look back 200 years, you see the seeds of
America as it is today. Their original founding premise was that they would
have weak government, that they would allow their citizens to have arms in case
they had a government that needed to be overthrown. We took a different course.
Senator Cools: We have that, too.
Senator LeBreton: The Generation X has no sense of duty to regions, believing
that we are on our own. I agree with you. Canadians pride themselves on being
quite distinctively different from Americans. However, because of world
technology and the fact everything is shrinking, and the "I'm all right,
Jack" mentality with everyone being on their own, will Generation X perhaps
change the face of Canada so that as Canada gets older it becomes more like the
Mr. Adams: I suspect that they will be different from us, whatever generation we
would label ourselves; and, by the way, we are quite flexible. If you do not
like your age category, just change it, as far as we are concerned in surveys.
It is all self-defined. If you want to be an autonomous rebel, you go ahead; or
if you want to be a rational traditionalist, that is fine.
One of the things I say in my book is that we are seeing the personality
equivalent of digital compression. People are not wanting to be judged by their
demographics in our culture. They are wanting to say, "I am a unique
person. If I want to evidence personality traits that traditionally are
associated with the opposite gender, that is all right." If a woman wants
to take leadership and take charge, that is okay. If a guy wants to show
nurturing qualities that used to be associated with being a woman, that is
okay. If you want to be young and forever a carefree teenager, you can do that;
if you want to put on your suit and be an adult, you can do that.
There is an effort, and you are seeing it with young people, to try to be the
microcosm of everything that is there. In other words, the individual becomes
the microcosm of the multicultural society and does not want to be just a
52-year-old guy: "You don't know me. You don't know whether I am a father,
a grandfather, straight or gay. You know nothing about me until you talk to me,
and then you find out what I am."
This is what is termed in the sociocultural research "post-modernity,"
which is moving beyond those institutions, moving beyond the traditional
categories. It is something that is very characteristic of our Generation X. I
think our Generation X will be different from the baby boomers just as the
boomers were different from their parents; and looking at our Generation X
versus the American Generation X, I would also say that they will remain
distinctly Canadian, even though they will be post-modern, because I have seen
that throughout history each of our generations has been different from the
previous generation, but has also maintained a distinctiveness that is different
from the U.S.
It is also true within our country that English and French Canadians are
becoming more similar, but there still will be distinct differences between the
two because of historical differences, linguistic differences, and cultural
differences. These will maintain that difference.
Think of the role and status of men and women 100 years ago or even 50 years
ago. It was quite clear when those babies were born what their destiny would
be. Today, you do not know what their destiny will be. Yes, they are more
similar in terms of their role and status and their opportunities, but the
differences still remain significant between men and women.
Sigmund Freud talked about the narcissism of small differences. As we become
more similar, the differences between us become quite significant. In the way
we dress and the way we behave we try to maintain that distinctiveness.
I joke that they got it wrong with the 1992 Constitution. There are not two
distinct societies, or three or four; there are 30 million. It would have made
a long preamble to put us all in it, but it would have acknowledged the fact
that that is where Canadians are going. We have created a country of 30 million
At any rate, with respect to Canada-U.S. differences, I cannot imagine my
appearing before a U.S. Senate committee talking about U.S.-Canada differences.
The Chairman: If I may, Mr. Adams, I would suggest, and you may agree, that the
Darwinism of the Generation Xers will last just up to the point where they are
adversely affected by economic and social trends, at which point they will
become much less Darwinist and much more demanding of and dependent on the
They have had the best of various worlds. They have lived at a time when
post-secondary education was still within the reach of most of the middle
class. We are coming to, if we are not there already, a situation in which
post-secondary education is not an achievable dream for many in the middle
class. We are coming into a situation, as I said at the opening, where there is
a growing number of people who have jobs. I am not talking about the "squeegee"
kids; I am talking of people who have jobs, who want full-time jobs that have
some benefits and security and decent wages, but, unfortunately, the only jobs
they can find are temporary or part-time.
Will this socially Darwinist attitude of these Generation Xers last very long?
Mr. Adams: You must remember that these people's parents were baby boomers, and
baby boomers, both husbands and wives, said, "Unlike our parents, we're
not going to live lives of duty and self-sacrifice for our children. We're
going to have some fun on the way through, too". Half of them have
The fundamental institution of our society is not the House of Commons; it is
the family. They have had to deal, a lot of these kids, with the break-up of
their family. The scars are there; the wounds are deep. Many of them like and
trust their friends more than they do their parents or their family, because
they have been let down by their family. It has had a kind of Darwinistic effect
on the generation.
They have also seen their parents having a good time when they might have
preferred that the parents were focused on them. They have been raised in a
pretty affluent era with lots of television and media for diversion, but there
is that sense that institutions may not be there for them. Maybe for their
parents' generation, yes; there was unemployment insurance, there were jobs you
could get at the government or at the liquor store or at the hydro, but they
are not for them. When they look at each institution, whether it is government
or family or something else, they are very much feeling that, "They are
not their for us. They may be there for the older people; there are old age
pensions, and the baby boomers have taken care of themselves, but as for us, we
are on our own and you either get into Harvard or you are flipping hamburgers
If you think boomers are cynical, these kids are very cynical. Where they will
be when they reach their 30s and 40s, I do not know. I am worried about one
group of them. I am worried more about the young men than I am about the young
If you look at indicators of adaptation to social change, the post-industrial
society, it looks as if the women are doing better than the young men in
adapting to social change. If you look at the age segment 25 to 30, young women
are outperforming young men. This is before they have children, when they are
on an equal footing. They are doing better in school. When they get out of
school, they are earning more money now. We have never seen this before in
There may be a problem, and it is something that we must look for in the future,
because of the difficulty that men are having in post-industrial society in
adapting to the kind of society in which force, hierarchy, a command economy, a
command situation, doesn't cut the mustard anymore.
Suicide rates are five times as high as between young men and young women. Some
young men do not know what it is to be a man anymore. Does being strong mean
that you turn the other cheek, or is it the Hollywood model: establish moral
superiority, wait for provocation and then blow them away? They do not know,
because there are such mixed signals.
There is a group we call "aimless dependants," which is a growing
number of young people, disproportionately male.
Senator Cools: I want to thank the witness for his thoughtful presentation. I am
pleased that he brought forward the matter of the terrible suicide rate among
young men and the distress that is afflicting so many young men in our
community, because every week I hear of yet another suicide stemming from
marriage disputes. Yet it seems to be a subject that, as Senator LeBreton can
attest, we, as legislators, are reluctant to look at -- as is the distress of
men today in marriage and divorce, and as is the fact that women are shooting
men and walking away relatively free because they suffer from the battered
women syndrome. However, I should not get started on that, because it is not the
main point of my intervention.
I want to return to the matter of social Darwinism and the phenomenon of the
post-modern era -- post-modernity, as it is referred to now.
As parliamentarians, we have much to be concerned about, and I welcome Senator
Murray's initiative in bringing about this study, because it is time to bring
these issues into discussion and debate.
Mr. Adams, I believe you referred to the disintegration of the family, the
church and the school. Perhaps you did not use the word "disintegration,"
but I would suggest that they have been driven into a kind of disintegration
that has been assisted by some powerful forces. In the old days, those three
institutions would have been considered the institutions or structures of civil
society, the mechanisms by which we produced human beings, and not animals.
They were the mechanisms by which we produced human beings capable of living in
a community of people and of being cooperative and socialized.
Could you comment on why these institutions of civil society have been so
You used the traditional classical comparison between the U.S. and Canada, which
is that Canada was born of an attempt to escape from a revolution, while the
United States of America was born as a result of a revolution. Canada developed
from east to west, and the building of our highways, railways and our national
airline reflected that fact.
I do a fair amount of public speaking all over this country, and I have become
increasingly aware that the average Canadian is no longer conversant with the
Canadian language of governance. There no longer seems to be a single group of
Canadians anywhere in the country who are familiar with the common language
that parliamentarians work with daily. They do not appear to recognize
expressions like, "We rose for the summer," "The bill is in
second reading," "The bill needs Royal Assent," "We are at
the committee stage," or "The committee will report the bill."
This lack of awareness has become dramatically apparent in the last 10 to 12
The point is that we are talking about social cohesion and the social values
that knit us together as a community, and yet we are in a situation where
neither governments nor Parliament seem willing to uphold the very institution
and the system of governance itself.
Every time I have occasion to go to the House of Commons, the chamber is
virtually empty. There are never more than a half dozen members there. I do not
know what their quorum is, although I hear their quorum bells daily, but they
certainly cannot convince anybody that they are debating in Parliament or that
they are conducting proceedings in Parliament. Right now the Senate is
considering various pieces of legislation, including, for instance, Bill C-37,
the Judges Act, which was passed by the House of Commons. We are dealing with
it painstakingly in the Senate, but my impression is that very few of the
members of the Commons have even read the bill. Nevertheless, many of those
very members will tell you that they would like to get rid of the Senate because
it is an appointed body.
The point I am making is that, while you have raised very important issues,
these issues are even more profound than the intellectual discussion you have
posed. What we have before us is the collapse of civil society right around our
very feet, and we as persons who are concerned are even lacking the language to
be able to communicate with people because those people out there no longer
know what we do here.
I realize that I have raised several issues, and perhaps not in as ordered a
fashion as I should have liked had I had time to prepare my questions, but
these matters trouble me deeply, as I believe they trouble many members of this
committee, and they may be a substantial part of the reason that Senator Murray
has pushed for this study.
Can you comment on what I have said, please.
Mr. Adams: When journalists phone me, when they have been asked by their editor
to do a story on declining social values, I talk about changing social values.
They say, "Well, look at the U.S. president. Look at the divorce rate."
If we look at the social values of 50 years ago regarding the family, the
workplace, the status of different ethnocultural minorities in our society, the
role and status of women, opinion toward children or the elderly or towards
people who are marginal and then we look at today, you can make the case that
social values have declined. But it is kind of hard to make that case when you
look at it in the big picture.
In fact, we have seen that we keep raising the pole. We are not satisfied as
humans. This is not good enough. There must be more we can achieve. The glass
is half empty, but the fact is that it is half full. Look at the globe 50 years
ago, at how many people were starving, and look at today. We have made some
wonderful progress. I do not see, like you do, the decline of social
institutions or civil society. They have changed and the family has changed. I
am dissatisfied with the divorce rate but I am also happy to see that other
aspects of the family have changed.
I do not have data on the incidents of violence within the family, but my sense
is that, 50 years ago versus today, it has changed dramatically. It is not the
norm now for a husband to hit his wife. It is not the norm now in Canada for
parents to administer corporal punishment to their children, and you certainly
cannot do it in school.
When it happens, it will be in three-inch bold letters because it so violates
our norms. It violates us as Canadians when we see this sort of violence.
However, it was the norm 25 or 50 years ago. If a wife told her friends that
her husband had come home drunk and hit her, they would counsel her to shut her
mouth or end up with divorce.
Senator LeBreton: Or they would ask what she did to deserve it.
Senator Cools: Violence was never the norm. We have counted and the majority of
families in this country have never used violence.
Mr. Adams: We are talking about small minorities becoming smaller.
Senator Mahovlich: What about teachers? A teacher would show violence in the old
Mr. Adams: I might still have scars from the nuns. I went on the girls' side of
the schoolyard and had to put out my hand. That is social progress. We have
made progress as Canadians, along with people around the world, in becoming a
kinder, gentler, more civilized society.
In the old days, we often had to confront evil by using violence. We had to go
to war to defend our values. We do not have to do that much anymore.
Senator Mahovlich: Look at what is happening in Bosnia. Things have not changed.
The more they change, the more they stay the same.
Mr. Adams: I happen to believe that we are improving. We have killed 80 million
people in wars in this century. However, we have done better in the last 25 or
30 years than we did in previous generations. I am getting beyond Canadian
social values. I will make the case that what we are seeing is now in the past.
The government would have made the rules. What we are now seeing is a relative
decline in the role and status of government as the only institution that was
the great arbiter in our society. Power has been devolved. It is now in family,
individuals, in the workplace and so on, so many of these institutions have
The Chairman: Does that add up to a decline in social cohesion? Is society more
fragmented, and should we care?
Mr. Adams: It is more fragmented because we do not have the hierarchy in Canada;
a place for everybody and everybody in their place, all marching to the same
drummer. Canada has achieved the success of devolving power to individuals.
More of us now can make up our own minds and it is a success. It is as if
Canada was a family. It raised the children. The children are now adults. Some
of the decisions that these adults make, we do not like, for example, we do not
like it when they divorce.
The Chairman: Do you need authority for social cohesion?
Mr. Adams: In our society, it will be ever more difficult to have the intended
consequence of the use of authority. In fact, you are more likely to get
Newton's third law of equal and opposite reactions.
It was not in the past possible to use authority. People would stay in their
place. Today, with the higher levels of education -- half of us now have some
post-secondary education -- the proliferation of media and other sources, I do
not think it is possible to intimidate people with coercion as it was in the
past. Again, we have achieved success as Canadians. We have moved beyond
accommodation, brokerage politics, putting your authority in the hands of
others who come to Ottawa to make the rules. We now are wanting to be part of
this, as well, outside Parliament.
Senator Cools, this is part of it, as well. Canada and its government are a
success. The measure of the success is that you do not have to do everything
now. It is amazing how community activities in Canada have increased. There has
been a spontaneous growth of individuals participating in voluntary
associations, both in terms of volunteer time and donations; and community
foundations are growing in our country. Judith Maxwell's group is an example of
this, but there are others. It is amazing how these Canadians, who were raised
by their government and are now adults, are doing a lot of things on their own
without the need for government to take the lead.
Do not be dissatisfied if Canadians do not know all the words to go through all
the stages of Parliament. They are doing a lot of very good things outside the
traditional institutions of parliamentary government in Canada. It is a measure
of the success of our first 120 years that we have evolved into that sort of
Senator Butts: I would like to go back to your definition of cohesion, which
includes the willingness to help each other. In the 10 provinces of Canada, I
feel that there has been a great change.
One, the provincial premiers used to talk about helping each other. Two, you do
not hear about it anymore. Provincial political parties have indeed become more
provincial. Third, the latest social policy statement out of Regina would be
interpreted more as the other premiers having joined Lucien Bouchard than as
Lucien Bouchard having joined the other provinces. Would you comment?
Mr. Adams: If I had to characterize the mental posture of Canadians on the
subjects of federal equalization programs, it is that we should try to achieve
objective autonomy or self-sufficiency for these regions, rather than
continuing what many Canadians think is a policy that promotes resentful
In other words, if our goal is to have each individual, on their own, feeling
good about themselves, they will feel good about themselves if they are not
receiving handout cheques. They should be in the process of becoming
autonomous. I see this in the regions of Canada, in Atlantic Canada, where we
have been doing surveys now for many years. That region of the country has
traditionally been dependent on transfers through Ottawa from the rest of the
country. I am noting a growing sense that what they want here is a feeling of
equality, that they can stand on their own, that they will not in the future
have to be dependent upon transfers from others.
There is a growing sense that their own sense of self-respect, their own
strength of their culture, will come as a result of their growing autonomy and
independence. Canadians will feel successful the day that each of those four
provinces in Atlantic Canada does not need transfers from the rest of the
country. It mirrors our individual goals, to find ways of being autonomous and
Senator Mahovlich: I was down in Newfoundland and met a chap who was very
successful in farming in North Dakota or somewhere. He came back to
Newfoundland and wanted to start something to show his appreciation for the
place he came from, and these people would not accept him. He wanted to help
them. They were jealous of him being successful and coming back, and they just
threw him away. With that kind of attitude, how can you help anybody? This
happens quite often. He was very disappointed.
Mr. Adams: They are undergoing social change. The direction of social change is
moving from relying upon institutional authority -- dad will decide for me; the
government will decide for me; somebody else will take care of me -- to
autonomy: I will decide for myself. In the past, that was usually determined by
what we call your socio-economic status. In other words, the people at the top,
the well-educated, the people who earn the most money, were autonomous. What I
am seeing in our culture is the democratization of that. More and more of us
are wanting to be autonomous and not dependent on dad, parents, or the state.
If Canada is successful, more and more of us will feel autonomous and the
direction of social change in Atlantic Canada will be in the direction of
autonomy for individuals and for the region. There is nothing those provinces
aspire to more than the sense that they will finally, after many, many years,
achieve autonomy. They will not have to depend upon that cheque coming down from
In fact, the most generous people in the world are the people of Newfoundland.
Their charitable contribution per capita is higher than anywhere else in the
country. It is one of those Canadian ironies. So they want autonomy and they
would like to be generous. That is something that is in line of the direction
of social change in our culture.
At the end of all of this, what is the sense of cohesion? Cohesion was in the
past backed up by a Christian sense of duty, or by government rules, and is now
more voluntary. Now, people are deciding, just as Canadian culture is no longer
the preserve of bureaucrats in Ottawa, that it is now part of the culture of
the Canadian people. They are what define our difference, and therefore a sense
of social cohesion should not be something dictated by government rules.
Government will be a very important player. But other players will in the
future be important in generating this sense of social cohesion within Canadian
Senator Butts: Are the statistics of your studies separated by provinces?
Mr. Adams: Yes. In the study that Senator Murray referred to, the social value
study that we have been doing for nearly 20 years now, we studied the evolution
of social values. We ask what is really important; what motivates people across
the country; and then we break it down by region. When I speak to Canadians, I
am always speaking about the differences in Atlantic Canada, Ontario, Quebec
and the Western provinces. When I am in Canada, all I do is talk about
differences. Once I compare Canada to other countries, the differences among
Canadians implode and we become indistinguishable from each other. We do spend
a lot of time talking about our differences, but once you take a Haligonian, a
Montrealer and a Torontonian to Fifth Avenue, the differences become
infinitesimal. The mental posture, the way they look at the world, is similar.
Senator Butts: In your definition of autonomy, whether it is individual or
provincial, does it increase or decrease or not affect your sense of cohesion?
Mr. Adams: In the past, we had cohesion because there was an overarching value
system of Judaeo-Christian morality. We assumed that everybody was like us.
There were rules, and they were enforced. If you did not obey the rules, there
was hell to pay in the afterlife, and other consequences on this earth.
Therefore, cohesion was again motivated by the fine values of the
Judaeo-Christian sense of duty. Guilt was a motivating factor, as well.
We are a culture that is trying to eliminate guilt and physical force or
coercion as a motivator in our lives. We want to make decisions ourselves,
motivated by what we believe is right, by our own self-interest or our own
sense of altruism. It is a personal definition. Our sense of cohesion will be
more voluntary, rather than something that is dictated by following the rule
book, or by traditional values which are reinforced by consequences that we may
not want. It will be more voluntary, more spontaneous.
There was a flood in Chicoutimi a year ago. The spontaneous response of
Canadians to helping those people was remarkable. It did not require an act of
Parliament. It was an act of the heart. This is success for Canada.
Senator Kinsella: What is your hypothesis around the dynamic of state ways
versus folk ways? Are you coming down on the side of folk ways these days? If
you are, is it because there has been, in your view, an abdication of
leadership in public circles, in government circles? Is it that we have not had
some serious, good, high-quality social policy coming out of government? Is it
true that it was social policy that made possible the gains in multiculturalism
and in equality rights? Would these gains have come about if it had not been
for the fair employment practices laws and the human rights codes and the
Multiculturalism Act? They were state ways. So in order for us to grasp -- and
we will have much more discipline in our study -- what we mean by social
cohesion and the fundamental dynamics that operate, it seems to me that this is
one of the dynamics. What is your hypothesis?
Mr. Adams: We are all of a generation whose lives were dedicated to building the
great Canadian social welfare state. It was a great project starting after the
Second World War. Other countries did similar things, but we had this great
project. For many of us, our formative experiences were being involved in
political parties, fighting for social justice, egalitarian policies and
national health care. The project, at least from the point of view of
Canadians, is about 90 per cent complete. They do not want us taking more money
out of their pockets. We give the government about 50 cents now. They give us
back about 40 cents because some of it goes to interest payments, which is a
problem for politics in Canada. They have about as much government as they
want. Leave us 50 or 60 cents to do with as we see fit, and if it is going to
Disneyland, if it is going to the casino, fine. If it is a voluntary
contribution to the United Way, we want to decide.
The point of view of Canadians in terms of expanding the role of the state is
that it is about 90 per cent done. They would like to see some realigned
priorities in what you are doing. Some problems need to be focused on and
others have been solved and do not need our attention anymore.
You are probably feeling the sense of not being appreciated anymore. The fact is
that you are now at the state of not building new programs, not building a
national health care system. You are now trying to figure out efficient ways of
managing it. Efficiency now becomes a big thing. Let us make government more
You talk about leadership. This is another point about social change. We are not
waiting for another great leader to come and save us. We have 30 million
leaders. There is no one leader in a company. Everyone is a leader. If you just
rely upon the boss, the organization will not be efficient, so there are many
leaders in this country. You have a leadership role, which is a traditional
role, but remember that there is a plethora of leaders out there. We are not
all one class, a class of leaders and followers; we are leaders on some days
and followers on others. That is true for people around this room and people in
the House of Commons and so on. We play multiple roles.
Senator Kinsella: It is your recommendation to this committee, among other
recommendations that flow from your testimony, that we must understand the
nature of voluntarism in Canada if we wish to have a hope of understanding
social cohesion in modern-day Canada. So, by way of theoretical analysis, there
has been work on democracy in America, which has remarked on the grand success
of voluntarism in America. Does your data indicate already that voluntarism is
having a huge success in Canada? Might it well be the mark of the success of
social cohesion that operates in Canada, notwithstanding the abdication of
social policy from governments in Canada?
Mr. Adams: I would not fold up your tent. We are not at the stage yet of not
needing Parliament and not needing our provincial parliaments. Government will
remain important and you will probably continue to consume well over 40 per
cent of our GDP for many years to come. Canadians want you to do that because
you will be providing government services that they value.
Outside government, you will be amazed to see some remarkable achievements by
people achieving what normally would have been public policy, but it is in fact
non-government policy activity that will help us to remain the kinder, gentler
society. It will be partnerships, but a lot of it will be the activities of
Canadians outside traditional government achieving many of the goals that in the
past we would have said that only government can do.
Senator Kinsella: In the past, the nation state was the source of citizenship,
and citizenship was the symbol of social cohesion in that state. Would you
agree that the nation-state notion is gone and that, within the Canadian
context, there is a large distinction between the nation state on the one hand
and sovereignty on the other? For example, when we as Canadians look at the
patriation of the Constitution with its Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982,
there is a significant message. If we look carefully, we note that all the
rights that are in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom, save three of
them, apply to everyone. They are not limited to Canadian citizens.
Again, if we are looking at our friends to the south, the American Constitution
holds up American citizenship as the source or the opening to the fulfilment of
all the rights that the American Constitution provides. In Canada, everyone has
these rights, so therefore, if we are to look for social cohesion within the
Canadian context, do we have to look at a metropolitan idea or a global idea?
There may be a very natural nexus coming about between our multicultural and
diverse society and the globalization that has been occurring in economic
Mr. Adams: This is another seeming contradiction. The Canadians are the most
understated nationalists in the world. They believe that our contribution to
the world is showing that you can be a country without the traditional
nationalism that says that you are superior to other countries, or that you
might want to go some day to war, or that we are raising our young men and women
to fight for the glory of our country. That is not Canada.
Canadians intuitively say that there is no reason to love anybody more from
Kitchener than somebody from Cleveland. We are all humans on this planet. It
does not make sense to them. Intuitively, we are all equal.
On the other hand, geographically and historically, we have connections to these
other 30 million people who are Canadians. It is easier for us perhaps and it
is maybe even in our own self-interest to care more about people in Toronto if
you happen to live in Toronto. For if not, in pragmatic self-interest, one of
them may hurt somebody you love. So maybe my sense of social cohesion, which in
the past would have been dictated again by a Christian sense of duty, is now
dictated by practical self-interest. This is my community. I am raising my
children in that community and if we have a civil society in my town, I have a
much diminished probability of something tragic happening to me. So, that kind
of appeals to me as a pragmatic baby boomer. I give to the United Way because I
get a good return on what I give. I have a civil society, a decent community in
which to raise my children. I live in Ontario. So that makes sense to me. I
live in the country of Canada. It is a bite-size chunk of the world for me to
be engaged as a citizen. That is the sense of the Canadians.
In practical terms, we have this historical body of geography. People like us
happen to have similar values. Our community and our sense of cohesion are now
evolving into pragmatic self-interest.
Senator Kinsella: Is the data that you have been gathering indicative of this
modern-day social contract? If it is, is it a social contract that flows from a
Hobbesian view or a Lockean view?
Mr. Adams: I survey ordinary Canadians. It is evolving. Canadians will not
choose between whether the state of nature is the war of all against all or
some idyllic paradise. What they say is, "Let us make it Canada."
Maybe it is a paradise, but we need rules to make sure that it is that way. We
had better have stop signs; we had better transfer funds to people who cannot
do it on their own, at least for awhile. We took toryism, socialism and
liberalism and said that we want all three. Total liberalism, for example,
gives us too much liberty. You cannot give a two-year-old too much liberty. They
will go out on the street and get hit by a car. The Canadian puts them in the
playpen until they are old enough.
We draw from the traditions of Western thinking. Canadians are saying that there
are some things we can learn from Oriental thinking, as well. When it comes to
medicine and health, we go to the doctor, but, by the way, let us get on the
Internet to find out about this herbal medicine. I am doing my yoga every day
to make sure that I do not have to go to my doctor or chiropractor.
It is interesting how Canada's population, this multicultural country, is a
microcosm of the world. We would like to see us draw from all the traditions
and philosophies of the world. We have become the ultimate relativists. We are
not true believers. When we look at parts of the world where there is true
belief, we say that there is danger, trouble. There is a rationale for killing
somebody else. That is how Canadians have gone from colonial outpost to
modernity to this post-modernity. It is a sense of cultural relativism, and
yet, ironically, we feel that our sense of cultural relativism makes us
superior, not only to Americans but to the rest of the world. In our own
understated way, we will not admit it. If we did, that would be un-Canadian.
Implicitly, that is how I am reading the Canadian sense of the philosophical
cultural position we are in right now.
Senator Kinsella: In your studies, have you been looking at the question of
conflict, and particularly conflict within the context of our system of
governance -- which is a conflicting model of governance? There is the province
versus the federal authority in Parliament, the House of Commons versus the
Senate. In the chambers, there is the opposition versus the government support
side. Some theorists think that we provide in our system of governance the fora
for conflict to be worked out, whereas in other systems of governance, my own
theory is that it is very difficult to find adequate fora in which to resolve
conflict. What about conflict in Canada?
Mr. Adams: Canadians probably would tell you that they do not particularly look
forward to conflict within their family or at the workplace. They are trying to
avoid conflict with their children, with their parents. It is a big factor in
day-to-day life. They certainly want to reduce to a minimum, if not eliminate,
physical conflict. Psychological conflict, too, is not very satisfying to them.
They are trying to move to cooperation. People do not want to fight or to get
into zero-sum situations.
What do they think about Parliament, Question Period, politicians fighting each
other? It seems anachronistic, but then they like sports. It may be that there
is conflict, but it is non-violent between parties.
I know that Quebecers have traditionally very much liked the conflict between
Ottawa and Quebec City, the assumption being that something good might come
Five years ago, I would have said that the Canadians were quite critical of the
parliamentary system, of its incapacity to change, and yet maybe Canadians are
seeing that it is working. Parliament now has five parties and they are seeing
that, in fact, some of their grievances are represented in the House of
The Chairman: Do you believe that reflects a regional identity or grievance
rather than any particular social cleavages?
Mr. Adams: Yes. They would say that we have the regional cleavages. What about
the other cleavages in our society? If we had a system of proportional
representation, that might reflect more the horizontal cleavages.
Let me talk about another institutional change, which is direct democracy. It is
not clear to me that this is really where Canadians want to go. We are seeing
it, for some of our political parties are experimenting with direct democracy.
It is not clear to me that that is something that they want, either. I am not
Senator LeBreton: We will tell you after October 24.
Mr. Adams: We are looking for reform of institutions, not a revolutionary break
with the past or the traditional parliamentary institutions in Canada.
The Chairman: How conscious are Canadians of the problem that is posed to their
economic and social well-being and political identity by the forces of
globalization and technology? How conscious are they of that and the fact that
the nation state, the federal government, to the extent that it would be
increasingly committed to trade treaties and investment treaties and all the
rest of it, would be giving up sovereignty? Every time you sign a treaty, you
give up some sovereignty. How conscious are Canadians of that danger and what I
think is the need for strong national institutions to protect them?
Is it true that there is a growing sense of insecurity in the country?
Mr. Adams: There is a sense of insecurity that comes from autonomy. If you move
from dependence on somebody who will take care of you and you are then on your
own, there is that sense of insecurity. Would Canadians trade their sense of
insecurity for a sense of complete security if they could then rely on somebody
who would take care of them? They say no; they would rather choose themselves.
There is insecurity, but it is a lot better than the sense I have of not feeling
a great sense of self-worth in transferring my autonomy to someone else who is
acting on my behalf.
We have seen huge numbers of Canadians saying that they want to decide, they
want to be an equal in this and they will not give up their authority. They are
asserting that authority.
When Canadians are asked whether they want Canadian content on their television,
they answer yes, but they also want access to every channel on the planet. A
cable company or a satellite company wants 500 channels. Should there be 10
Canadian channels? Fine. They are willing to be taxed, but just do not preclude
them from seeing what the world has to offer. That is Canada. We are a
microcosm of the world. Why should we not be exposed to all of this?
Generation Xers will say, "Do not worry, Dad, if I am watching something
that you think I should not be watching." Look out if you try to stop
them. In Iran, they are trying to stop the kids from watching American soap
operas. Good luck.
Senator Cools: The witness seems to use the term Parliament and government as
though they are interchangeable entities. Is that what you were thinking?
Mr. Adams: No. I am just an ordinary Canadian. I am not a political scientist.
Senator Cools: You talked about crime rates and murder rates. There is a lot of
confusion about murder rates. It is not fully sufficient to say that murder
rates have not changed in 30 years because rates have changed, but one would
have to measure the use of able medical assistance. If you look at the number
of people who are attacked physically but who would have died in an earlier era
because we lacked proper medical intervention, it shows a completely different
picture. I used to sit on the parole board; lots of people who were attacked
would have died without able medical help.
I had hoped to get to your views on the development for the first time in this
country of what the Americans call an "underclass." If you go through
cities like Toronto, the underclass is very well established. That was a word
that was never used before in Canada, especially in Toronto which used to boast
that it had no slums and which had led the way in the development of public
You are talking about the enormous Canadian trend towards true egalitarianism
and the fact that we now have 30 million leaders. Political parties continue to
function more so now even than 10 years ago. They are highly controlled and are
at the top organizations within today's community. There is a higher rate of
power concentrated in the Prime Minister's Office than in previous times. I
wonder if you could comment on that.
Why has egalitarianism eluded political parties?7
Many of the social changes that you have been speaking about, which have brought
about the current social changes in our community, have been driven not by the
people's elected representatives but by certain judicial initiatives. The
current language that is being used -- and there is a whole body of thought now
developing across this country in opposition to it -- is judicial activism. I
wonder if you could make a comment on the phenomenon of judicial activism.
The Chairman: Take on the PMO and the Supreme Court in two minutes.
Senator Cools: How come the egalitarianism has stopped in those two places?
Mr. Adams: I do see a lot of devolution of power. I have seen it in the family,
in the workplace. Companies are run much differently now. They have devolved
power and authority and decision making. On Air Canada, you will find that the
flight attendants can deal with the problem right at the point and even give
you extra air mile points. We are trying to empower people. It sounds like it is
the king giving out favours. They have asked for it. They have demanded it.
Women, ethnic minorities and people on the margin are expecting to be treated
equally. The gross national power has therefore grown immeasurably, much faster
than the other GNP because Canadians are liberated to exercise autonomy,
authority and to make their mind up for themselves. In that sense, there is a
relative decline in the power that government traditionally has.
As for the political parties, that is a whole other topic, which is the
concentration of power in the leadership of political parties, in the office of
the Prime Minister. It actually seems to be counter to the trends in the rest
of society. I would need much more time to think about the implications of that.
It does run counter when I think about the role of the leader pollsters.
Remember all those pollsters and the leader and how they control the platform
and so on? We have this image of political parties writing platforms; it comes
up from the people and the members of the parties and so on. It is ironic that
the systems in governance and politics seem to be running counter to the
devolution of power that is happening outside the political institutions. I
would agree with your observation.
With regard to judicial activism, it makes perfect sense that, again, Canadians
evolved a system of the common law, which continues with our Charter. I do not
remember Canadians celebrating on the streets of the country that they were
free at last in 1982. But clearly, they are using these laws to assert their
rights as individuals. It makes perfect sense. I suspect they would have, had we
not had the Charter. I am not a jurist. It is perfectly in line with Canadian
social values that individuals would use the means at their disposal to assert
their rights. It seems perfectly sensible to me that that is what Canadians
The Chairman: Mr. Adams, you have given us some helpful insights. On behalf of
all the committee members, I thank you very much for taking the time to come
here and testify before us.