Spicer Extracts

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Cherry-picked extracts from Chairman Keith Spicer's Foreword to The Citizens' Forum On Canada's Future, published in June 1991.

"The idea of Canada as a model for mankind is a grand one, worth defending far more passionately than many of us, or our leaders, do.

This country is dying of ignorance and of our stubborn refusal to learn. Lazy, cynical official minds have too long dismissed the obvious practical answers to these problems as 'simplistic' and 'naïve'. Broad travel and exchange opportunities, for example, and better teaching of shared history.

The eternal challenge and measure of Canada is a dream in perspective. Too often an archipelago of envies and anxieties, we forget in our obsession with petty quarrels how consoling the vision of a harmonious Canada remains to the world. Consoling and inspiring.

Now, if we keep our heads and seek an eclipsing perspective of our problems, we can make the 21st century ours by growing into a model civilization – a mature and welcoming homeland for mankind.

But first we must stay true to who we really are. And to how much we share. Our hearts beat in closer harmony than we dare to hear.

Freedom and dignity in diversity, with openness to all cultures and races; a sensitive democracy; social solidarity; an orderly, safe society; a clean environment; an often unspoken idea of North; a peace-supporting, more independent role in an increasingly interdependent world; a yearning to love this country in any way each individual chooses – without apology.

Citizens want leaders to listen to their electors, but then to lead them with vision and courage, not govern by polls or play sterile partisan games. Therein lies a contradiction good politicians are paid to resolve.

On the environment, I favour a much stronger environmental priority for Canada, in reasonable balance with Canadians' legitimate economic needs. Policies and controls should protect such essentials, among others, as clean air and water; renewable resources such as forests; historic lands; and endangered species.

On constitutional reform, I would urge the government to reconsider its dismissal of some kind of constituent assembly or similar process allowing citizens to feel directly involved in constitution-making."

Surveys continue to reveal the same feelings more than 700,000 Canadians expressed to the Commissioners in 1991.

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