WILL ONE GOVERNMENT organization slap another one in public? Most people think not, and that’s why youth groups are so wary of the proposed Company of Young Canadians. The government announced the CYC in the Throne Speech last April and selected an organizing committee. The organizers spent the summer and fall meeting with provincial governments, social agencies and youth groups, preparing a report for the prime minister. The more the organizers talked, the less the young people liked it. (See Maclean’s, November 15.)
The government says that the CYC is “to harness Canadian youth in social development both in Canada and overseas.” But the already formed groups say social development usually means fighting the status quo and what government agent can do that?
The organizing committee itself— the first test of government sincerity —was the initial disappointment. It was selected by Duncan Edmonds,
executive assistant to Paul Martin and head of the CYC secretariat until the federal election intervened. “I started the company,” he says. “I set up the organizing committee and chose my friend Dr. Teddy as its chairman.” Dr. Teddy, a university president and past chairman of tw'o important youth organizations, had all the right credentials except one: the young people didn’t like him. Joan Newman of Student Union for Peace Action says, “We specifically asked for someone representative of our age group . . . ” Doug Ward, president-elect of Canadian Union of Students (CUS), is blunter: “Old folk! They added a few token young ones later.”
What causes the youth groups even more concern is the government’s probable reaction to CYC volunteers partcipating in, say, an Indian protest march — very embarrassing for the Indian Affairs Branch. Would the government, could the government, let them do it?
Only if the volunteers control the company, say the youth groups. Student Union for Peace Action (SUPA) demands volunteer control — a predictable stand for “radicals” to take. But more solemn bodies say the same thing. World University Service (WUS), composed of students and faculty, and CUS both insisted on it in their September resolutions. And when a fiery telegram was sent to the CYC in October insisting on volunteer control, six of the eight signatories were religious groups, ranging from the Fellowship of Reconciliation to the YMCA.
Joan Newman, scrupulous as any other SUPA worker about the use of power, says, “The government should control the agencies they maintain with public funds. But volunteers should control the projects they work on.” She began to think this way last summer and finally quit her research job with the CYC to join SUPA.
In answer, CYC planners can point to at least one example of governmentvolunteer cooperation. Ironically, that one encouraging sign is also the only official Keep Out sign. It’s a group called Travailleurs Etudiants du Quebec (TEQ), a branch of Quebec student syndicalism that was inspired by a student memo, founded and financ-
ed by government legislation, and has one summer’s experience behind it. “We submit our projects to the government,” explains Robert Nelson, its organizer, “but we have had no trouble. They are very sympathique." (So are national associations like WUS. who echoed Quebec students by telling the CYC to leave that province to TEQ.)
In November, the organizing committee handed in its report. The secretariat, under acting head Stewart Goodings, wanted to recommend volunteer control. The committee instead urged “maximum” volunteer representation on the CYC council. Goodings still believes this can be turned to good account, “But only if the CYC becomes a crown corporation as we expect, and the non-volunteer appointments are also non-political.” The government made the report public on December 22. One official source told reporters that the speculated budget of $2.500,000 was 10 times what the government would actually consider.
Meanwhile, the final authority for the organization and projects planned for next summer by the CYC hangs fire, awaiting government legislation that will probably come in the spring. The organized youth groups believe the only way CYC can salvage its shaky start is to appoint to the interim committee members from their own organizations. And Stewart Goodings himself admits: “If the interim committee is no better than the organizing committee, then CYC is in bad
The story you want is part of the Maclean’s Archives. To access it, log in here or sign up for your free 30-day trial.
Experience anything and everything Maclean's has ever published — over 3,500 issues and 150,000 articles, images and advertisements — since 1905. Browse on your own, or explore our curated collections and timely recommendations.WATCH THIS VIDEO for highlights of everything the Maclean's Archives has to offer.