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The MacDonald Commission

April 1, 1983 -

It is easy to join the cynics who claim that The Royal Commission on the Economic Union and Development Prospects for Canada is mere "window dressing." However, it is precisely the structural problems mentioned by Mr. Macdonald (see below) that pose serious difficulties for the Canadian economy and require careful analysis and public debate.

Appointed in November 1982 and given three years to complete its study, the twelve-person Commission plans to begin conducting hearings across Canada in September. The Chairman, former Cabinet Minister Donald Macdonald, explained in a recent interview that the Commission will not be analyzing the causes of Canada's current economic problems but that its creation is "...a recognition that there are some important structural changes occurring in the Canadian economy and even more coming. And it's important to determine...what the goals should be for Canada in the face of those changes. The second task...is to see whether we cannot order our arrangements within the country in a better way. For example, can we rearrange federal/provincial relations or business/government relations or business/labor relations so that we don't use up a lot of our time and talent in internal struggle rather than in facing the external challenge?" (Executive, January 1983, p. 39.) The address of the Commission is: P.O. Box/CP 1268, Ottawa, ON K1P 5R3.

The MacDonald Commission on the Canadian Economy

September 1, 1984 -

Despite the preoccupation of the recent federal election campaign with economic issues, no attention was paid to the Macdonald Commission's study of the Canadian economy. It's clear that hyped-up election campaigns fail to do justice to the real issues facing Canada. Whatever we or the new government may think of the work being done by this particular commission, its format should provide an opportunity for a competent group of people to do their work away from the headlines and thereby make a significant contribution to the rethinking needed about our political and economic situation.

The Commission has held hearings and received submissions from groups across Canada, and its final report is expected some time in 1985. The Christian Labour Association presented its views about a number of economic and political issues in a 54-page submission to the Commission. The submission discusses the background to Canada's economic difficulties, explains the Christian perspective out of which CLAC seeks to be active and suggests alternatives to current trends.