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.

[English]

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 more poverty.

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 the Millennium."

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. Adams.

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 factions.

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 sense.

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 Parade.

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 Commons.

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 United States?

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 distinct societies.

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 State.

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 divorced parents.

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 at McDonald's."

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 women.

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 history.

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 pressured?

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 years.

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 days.

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 been democratized.

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 society.

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 dependence.

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 self-sufficient.

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 Ottawa.

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 society.

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 efficient.

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 terms.

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 from it.

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 Commons.

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 sure.

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 housing.

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 would do.

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.

The committee adjourned.