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History Table of Contents
1994 Summer Conference
 
Summer Conference 1994
Globalism and Tribalism: The New World Disorder?

Governanace: How Will Democracy Surivive the New Politics?

Questions

From each of your perspectives, what t criteria should now beused to assess and evaluate the effectiveness of our political leaders, our public service, our business and our labour leaders. To what standard should we be judging their performance in the environment in which we are now operating?

Graham: Judge me to some extent and judge the government to some extent on how well we are able to manage our relations in the international community,as much as how well we deal with the problem of picking up the garbage, cleaning up the streets and providing security. There are huge environmental issues out there that have to be addressed internationally and I think we have to be looking at our governments and saying, how are you playing an international role?

Frum: I'd say judge them by what they can control. Don't judge them by where we are in the business cycle, because they can't control that. Say, how are we doing on taxes? How are we doing on inflation? And how are we doing on the provision of core government services? My garbage in Toronto gets picked up half as often as it did three years ago, so I would say my municipal council is doing about half as good a job as they were doing. I do think that we too often blame politicians for things they don't have any control over. On the other hand, they claim so much credit for things don't have any control over, ably comes out in the wash.

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Mr. Graham, How real is the fairness of the NAFTA arbitration process for Canada?

Graham: I have a lot of problems with it, but I've done a lot of international arbitrations myself, so\ I kind of believe in the dispute resolution mechanism as the core. If we don't have an agreement that can be interpreted and enforced, we really don't have an agreement. And it was very important for Canada, when we negotiated the Free Trade Agreement and then the NAFTA agreement afterwards, to make sure that when we are dealing with the United States that we would have clear rules which were enforceable by institutions that could make it stick. Without that we really didn't have an enforceable agreement. Is the dispute resolution wonderful in the NAFTA? No. I mean if you look at the European community, what it has, it has a clear set of rules and it has a fantastic situation where every citizen can get access to those rules. The rules of the European community as a legal system actually are in court and you or I as citizens can use them in your domestic courts. This, in my view, is a democratic system where individuals have access to it. The NAFTA agreement is still at the level of a state-to-state agreement. It requires the states to agree. Therefore, it's got to be Canada and the U.S. and Mexico to do things and sometimes they're reluctant and so there are problems with it. But we got the best possible deal that we would ever get from the United States. All I can say about the disputes resolution mechanism is that it is working. Look at what happened in the lumber case. We've won it. However, a dispute resolution cannot cure a bad agreement and there are some aspects of the agreement that need to be cured. But this is an on-going negotiation, we always have to do this.

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David, you talked about the tribalization of interest groups in Canada. I'd like you to explore that a bit further...the implications. I'd like some comments on the implications for governments in Canada. Bill could you comment on that?

Frum: I think the apple of original sin was first human rights codes of the late 1950s and early 1960s. That's the beginning of it. We took these things that began with a core group of problems arising out of our memories of the Second World War, which were ethnic, race, religion, national origin, and we've added group after group to this list, because we increasingly are unable to see any human misfortune or problem in anything other than in terms of deprivation of equality. So we can seriously believe that a disabled person who finds that he is thwarted from some important life activity has had his rights violated which to my way of thinking makes as much sense as to say that poor young man killed by a bolt of lightening the other day in rural Ontario had his right to live abridged without due process of law. I mean there are catastrophes that happen to people. We encourage them to put those into juridical forms, to make demands on the exchequer. This isn't McLuhanesque, this is public policy and it is fixable by public policy. The way I would fix it is to do three things. I would repeal the reach of human rights statutes to only those, the core groups that are affected by ethnic discrimination, race, religion, national origin. Then I would limit the jurisdiction of human rights commissions to employment and housing, and get them out of the business of supervising private associations, get them out of the business of supervising speech. And then finally, I would append sunset statutes to the Human Rights Code.

Graham: Avoiding discrimination is one of the fundamental objects of government; one of our fundamental responsibilities. In Rosedale, we probably have the largest guy and lesbian community in Canada. I know from talking to many people that for years there have been problems of discrimination. I'm confident people want to make sure that everybody is treated fairly and have the same opportunities as everybody else. When you come to the disabled people, I think as a result of the human rights efforts in this area, some wonderful progress being made. I think if we lose that in this sort of free market that you're talking about, we're going to be losing a lot of our sense about what human dignity's about. I still believe there are fundamental core levels of discrimination which most people want to make sure we need to work at to eliminate. And if we can make lives of people better by doing that, we've got to do it.

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