Wednesday 5 December 1990




Chair: Duignan, Noel (Halton North NDP)

Vice-Chair: MacKinnon, Ellen (Lambton NDP)

Cooper, Mike (Kitchener-Wilmot NDP)

Frankford, Robert (Scarborough East NDP)

Marland, Margaret (Mississauga South PC)

Mathyssen, Irene (Middlesex NDP)

McClelland, Carman (Brampton North L)

Morin, Gilles E. (Carleton East L)

Murdock, Sharon (Sudbury NDP)

O'Neil, Hugh P. (Quinte L)

Owens, Stephen (Scarborough Centre NDP)

Villeneuve, Noble (Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry PC)

Clerk: Arnott, Douglas


Yeager, Lewis, Research Officer, Legislative Research Service

McNaught, Andrew, Research Officer, Legislative Research Service

The committee met at 1533 in room 151.


Clerk of the Committee: Honourable members, it is my duty to call upon you to elect a Chair of the committee. Are there any nominations?

Mrs Marland: I take pleasure in nominating for the position of Chairman of the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly Noel Duignan, the member for Halton North.

Interjection: How do you pronounce it?

Mr Duignan: It is a silent "u" with a long "i."

Clerk of the Committee: Are there any further nominations? There being no further nominations, I declare nominations closed and Mr Duignan elected Chair of the committee.

The Chair: Thank you very much. I am pleased to assume the Chair and I look forward to working with everybody. I view my role as Chairman of this committee as a facilitator and I hope that all members have, and I believe all members should have, an opportunity at committee to participate in a very meaningful way in the debate that will happen in this committee. I look forward to that very much.

I understand right now that there is the selection of a Vice-Chair. I believe that is the next order of business. Are there any nominations?

Ms S. Murdock: I nominate Ellen MacKinnon in absentia. I understand that she has accepted.

The Chair: Are there any other nominations? Hearing none, I believe the motion is carried.

The next order of business is the appointment of a subcommittee on committee business. I would at this point ask the members of the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party who their nominees are for this particular committee.

Mr Morin: I would like to nominate Hugh O'Neil to the subcommittee.

Mrs Marland: It gives me great pleasure to nominate Noble Villeneuve, the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, as the representative of the PC caucus on this committee.

The Chair: Government party?

Mr Owens: I will nominate Ellen MacKinnon as the subcommittee member for the government side.

Mrs Marland: In absentia too?

Mr Owens: In absentia. She will have accepted in absentia as well.

The Chair: I need someone to move the particular motion that the subcommittee business be appointed.

Mr Owens moves that a subcommittee on committee business be appointed to meet from time to time at the call of the Chair or at the request of any member thereof to consider and report to the committee on the business of the committee; that substitution be permitted on the subcommittee; that the presence of all members of the subcommittee is necessary to constitute a meeting; and that the subcommittee be composed of the following members: Mr Duignan (Chair), Mr O'Neil, Mrs MacKinnon and Mr Villeneuve.

Motion agreed to.

The Chair: I believe that the next order of business is the receipt of correspondence in relation to the private bill application of Pierre Levesque. What is the pleasure of the committee?

Ms S. Murdock: On a point of clarification: Do we have any judgements from what was stated in this documentation by the Supreme Court or anything? Is there anything available?

The Chair: I believe the clerk of the committee can answer that question.

Clerk of the Committee: Judgements in what sense?

Ms S. Murdock: There are statements in here that there have been judgements made by Ontario courts. I am just wondering if the judgements are available.

Clerk of the Committee: I do not know that. As clerk of the committee, before the Chair could be elected to the committee I was sent the entire file, as I understand it, by the Clerk of the House, with his covering letter giving his reference of the private bill to this committee for its examination, not of the merits of the private bill's being applied for but of the procedural question of whether this is a proper application or whether it is in fact contrary to the standing orders, as suggested in the letter from the Clerk of the House.

Mr H. O'Neil: I also do not think this case is a new one. I think all of the members have received different information. In fact, I think there was a book written on it. I think as a member, rather than depending upon what has been sent to me, we have to look for some guidance from the clerk and from the Legislature itself as to how we would proceed with something like this, if we do proceed with it.

If the clerk is not prepared at this time, what we should do is ask him to have the people here to have a look at it, and the government to have a look at it, and see what action we take.

Ms S. Murdock: It would be good also for us to know exactly which standing orders may be applied to this and whether or not the process is correct, because I do not even know. I am not familiar with the particular standing order that would be applicable.

The Chair: Perhaps the clerk of the committee could address this particular question.


Clerk of the Committee: The letter of referral from the Clerk of the House does state in the second paragraph the Clerk's belief that this would be contrary to standing order 54. The sentence begins, "Inasmuch as the bill would authorize a charge against the consolidated revenue fund, contrary to standing order 54, I am of the opinion that this application is not the proper subject matter of a private bill."

I could read standing order 54 to the committee. Standing order 54 states:

"Any bill, resolution, motion or address, the passage of which would impose a tax or specifically direct the allocation of public funds, shall not be passed by the House unless recommended by a message from the Lieutenant Governor, and shall be proposed only by a minister of the crown."

It is up to the committee members to decide their course of action, but when such an application has been referred to the committee. the committee has in the past called in both the applicant or counsel for the applicant and legislative counsel to debate the points of view and answer members' questions on this narrow procedural question.

Mrs Marland: Mr Chairman, further to the procedural question, when I look at the private bill standing in the name of "Co-sponsors, the People of Ontario" I have to ask, is it not a requirement that a sponsor's name be on a bill in order for a bill to be sponsored in our House?

Clerk of the Committee: I would suggest that this question also could be put to legislative counsel if the committee wishes to invite legislative counsel.

Mrs Marland: If it is a private bill and it is not sponsored by one of us as an elected member -- I mean, frankly, bills sponsored by or for the people of Ontario, I thought that was what we were elected to do. But if it is not possible for a bill to stand in the name of the people of Ontario without someone who is elected in this Legislature to co-sponsor it, if that is not a requirement, or if it is a requirement, I do not think we have to waste any time on this. If we can get that technical answer, that it is not possible for that bill to proceed without having a sponsor, then I do not think we should waste any time dealing with it until we have it properly sponsored and brought forward. If that is a legal presentation with no names on it, then I would say yes, we can go ahead and spend some time on it.

The Chair: I will make a suggestion here that since both parties have not been notified of its coming before the committee, we defer it to the next meeting of the committee.

Mrs Marland: What do you mean, Mr Chair, when you say all parties have not been notified?

The Chair: I understand the sponsor of the bill has not been notified that it was coming before a committee here today.

Mrs Marland: Who is the sponsor of the bill? My point is that it says here "Co-sponsors, the People of Ontario." I am not interested in wasting the time of this committee on something that may be just full of air. My request is through you, Mr Chairman, to our staff, whether it is our clerk, who has resources to ask our legal counsel. We have two research officers here, and we do have legal counsel available to the committee.

If you like, I will move a motion to ask our clerk to research the answers to what is the responsibility of this committee as it pertains to this bill and whether a bill is able to stand only in the name of the people of Ontario without any specific names, because I think on the surface this looks ludicrous. If it is a legitimate, sincere act on behalf of a certain party -- I will not read the name at this point -- but if it is and it is possible to sponsor it without someone's name, then let's proceed. But if not, let's not waste any more time on it.

Clerk of the Committee: If your question, Mrs Marland, was, is the bill to have a member sponsoring it upon first reading in the House, the answer is yes, a member's name would have to be there sponsoring it.

On the question about whether it is properly referred to this committee, the answer is yes. This is an application to have a private bill come forward and it has not reached that stage of having a member agree to sponsor it. But it is proper to have the application reviewed by the committee at this point and referred pursuant to standing order 79 by the Clerk of the House.

Mrs Marland: Okay. Well then, if every member in the House has received this -- or only every member of this committee?

Clerk of the Committee: The members of this committee have received this.

Mrs Marland: Okay. I would suggest that until we have a member of the House who is willing to sponsor this, as you have just explained is a requirement, then I do not see any purpose in our dealing with it. When there is a member's name attached who is willing to sponsor this bill, then I think we sit and hear the application of that member who is co-sponsoring it with, I assume, the people of Ontario. Otherwise, we could be tied up with this kind of stuff all the time.

Mr Owens: I think it is pretty clear in the letter from Mr DesRosiers that this bill does not follow the letter or the spirit of the standing order, and that not wanting to give short shrift to democracy and participation. However, I do agree with Mrs Marland that we could be tied up for ages and ages with this bill, and I am going to ask the clerk for some guidance on the wording of a motion as to how we can deal with this today and get it off the table, because I do not think it is appropriate for this committee or any other committee in this Legislature.

Mrs Marland: I think that is the motion I just placed.

Mr Owens: But if someone decides to sponsor this bill, we are going to have to deal with it.

Mrs Marland: Yes. I think the point of my motion is that until someone is willing to put his name to this bill, we have no obligation to deal with it. However, if one of the 130 elected members in the Legislature is willing to put his name as a sponsor of this bill, then we are obligated to deal with it, and we deal with it however we decide. But what I am saying is, until that happens, I do not think there is any necessity.

Ms S. Murdock: I have one quick question actually. Historically, when recourse has not been made through the courts, have there been other cases before a committee such as this where the people have tried to get what they want through this avenue rather than through the legal avenue or the judicial avenue?

Clerk of the Committee: Through a private bill process?

Ms S. Murdock: Yes. Is this a first?

Clerk of the Committee: I am not sure. I am not acquainted with the full range of private bills. I would have to consult --

Ms S. Murdock: Based on Mrs. Marland's statements, that may be a moot point, but I am just wondering whether or not it is even proper.

Mr Cooper: It being that this bill is contrary to standing order 54, I think maybe a motion should be made to file it, if filing is the proper thing to do with it. Standing order 54 was read and this bill is contrary to it, so it is not the subject matter for a private bill. Would a motion to file be in order?

The Chair: I would like to seek further advice from the clerk of the committee on this matter. Would the committee entertain postponing this debate to another meeting?


Mr Owens: I do not think there is any debate at all.

The Chair: Okay, is that all agreed with by members of the committee? Any other business?

Mr H. O'Neil: Mr Chairman, seeing as this is the first meeting, I just wonder, have we any idea of some of the other things that -- there may not be anything else on the agenda today -- we will be dealing with over the next few weeks or before we adjourn?

The Chair: I understand that there are a couple of items such as the review of the freedom of information act and possibly the proposed budget. Maybe the clerk would like to expand on that a little.

Clerk of the Committee: The most important work before the committee as mandated by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act is the initiation within the three-year calendar period -- that means by the end of this year -- of a comprehensive review of that act. The committee, by section 68 of the statute, does have one year, once it has begun the comprehensive review, to complete that review and report back to the Legislature. That could involve the committee's initially having a briefing from the freedom of information and protection of privacy branch of Management Board of Cabinet, if you so wish, within this year, and you can determine after that initial overview what witnesses you would like to invite and what approach you would like to take to your comprehensive review.

The standing order setting up this committee establishes the relationship to the Speaker, the House, the Board of Internal Economy on procedural matters, on administrative matters relating to the Office of the Assembly, to the provision of services and facilities for members. It is quite a broad-ranging mandate. The committee also reviews the broadcast and recording service and provision of services there. There are any number of areas that could arise in the course of the House from members' own wishes to place items on the agenda of the committee.

In response to Mr Morin's question about a committee budget, the budget of the last committee in the last Parliament applied to that Parliament and this committee will have to put forward a budget in the very near future.

Mrs Marland: Doug, first of all, you are saying that the review has to start in 1990 and, once it starts, we have a year to complete it?

Clerk of the Committee: Yes.

Mrs Marland: So what we should decide as a committee is a strategy for that review so that we can plan a time-line basis. I think also knowing that there will be other matters referred to this committee and certainly there may well be other matters that we initiate -- I have one, as a matter of fact. But is it also true that if we are going to have a budget for this current fiscal year for this committee we have to submit that budget very soon?

Clerk of the Committee: Yes.

Mrs Marland: What we should be talking about today then is what we plan to do with the committee in terms of work for the next four months, during what remains of December, which is literally two weeks of the House sitting, and January, February and March, since the new year starts 1 April in terms of financing. Since that is the only matter that has been referred to us at this point, how would you suggest, as the clerk, that we deal with a proposed budget when we do not know what matters are going to be before us, how or where we are going to have to go to review those matters, whom we may have come before the committee, advertising and travel expenses and so forth for any witnesses we may need or any other opinions which we may have to go elsewhere to seek?

The Chair: To seek?

Mrs Marland: I wonder if Mr Arnott could just answer my question first.

Clerk of the Committee: Sure. This happens very often, that committees are asked to present budgets to the Board of Internal Economy before they know what bills or legislation or matters will be taken up by them in the recesses in the many months ahead, if they are forecasting for an entire fiscal year. That means often that the estimates voted on by a committee and approved by the Board of Internal Economy are either wildly over or grossly under what in fact is needed when a committee meets during the adjournments, or just to run operations through the year.

I would, at the direction of the Chair or the subcommittee on committee business, prepare a draft budget, if that is requested, for an estimated time period to put forward to the committee at its next week's meeting, or the week after if you prefer. The committee could change that in any way it wishes.

Mrs Marland: Have you been the clerk of this committee for the last year?

Clerk of the Committee: No, I have not.

Mrs Marland: Okay. So you could look at previous average budgets in a similar situation when the House is not sitting and you are in that grey area of not knowing what commitments we would have to make and prepare us an average budget that the committee has had in the past for a similar period of the time of year?

Clerk of the Committee: Yes.

Mrs Marland: That would be great.

Mr H. O'Neil: Just a suggestion. Rather than just depending upon the clerk to do this, I do not think it would hurt for all the members of the committee maybe to have previous budgets for the last two or three years that we could have a look at and see how much has been spent. Then we can all have a look at it and sort of help you in your determination or ours.

Ms S. Murdock: A quick question. I understand that we will be sitting in January and February because of the freedom of information act review. Is that correct?

The Chair: If it is determined by the committee. Is that right, Mr Clerk?

Clerk of the Committee: Yes.

Ms S. Murdock: The other question I have is in relation to expenses, I guess. I understand this committee also goes to Tallahassee this year. Is that correct?

The Chair: You have me there. I do not know. Is that this year?

Ms S. Murdock: Last year was Tulsa, Oklahoma, but I am just wondering, because that would have to be included in the expenses, I would imagine.

Mr Villeneuve: That is prior to the end of the fiscal year.

Ms S. Murdock: Oh, right. It is near the end of the next year. Sorry. Thank you.

Mrs Marland: I think some of these details, the idea of having a look at previous budgets as some kind of guideline, are things that I am quite happy to have our subcommittee look at with Mr Arnott.

I have just done this with another committee. We have just set our budget and we have decided when we were going to sit as well. It might be helpful to the subcommittee, since this is the first time that we have all been together, if it might know what we feel about when we would be sitting.

We may feel all kinds of things. Ultimately, the House leaders tell us what we will do. In the other committee, because I had heard that the House leaders were looking at the committees not sitting in January so that people can get caught up with their constituency work, especially people who are away from their constituencies as a matter of routine because of the geographic location of those constituencies, the suggestion was that committees start sitting not in January but at the beginning of February. In fact, that committee is starting to sit the week of 4 February for three weeks. Maybe we could help by giving some guidelines to our subcommittee.


Sometimes it works better if all the committees are on a similar schedule in terms of staffing and, if you cannot be there, substituting somebody in. If you bring a member down from Sudbury, for example, and that person is subbing on a Tuesday for someone who cannot be on committee A, while he is already down, maybe on the Wednesday he could sub on another committee.

It just flows better if there is an interrelationship between the committee sittings of a like time, and because the House leaders were talking about not sitting in January, I am just throwing that out to this committee and wondering how the other members in this committee feel about not sitting in January but planning to sit in February. They never sit in the March break. That is understood; actually it is in our standing orders now. It did not used to be, but it is now, I think, that we do not sit in the March break, whenever it is. So if that is of some help, we should give that direction to our subcommittee.

Ms S. Murdock: Sounds good to me. I just do not know how much time is going to be needed for the freedom of information review. That would be all that I would be concerned about.

Mrs Marland: The fact that we have a year to do it means that we probably do have to plan to do it in stages.

Mr H. O'Neil: Have we any estimate as to how long we likely will be sitting if we do sit in February?

The Chair: I understand somewhere around three weeks.

Mr H. O'Neil: For three weeks. It maybe depends on what sort of business agenda, the Chairman has in mind, but it seems to me, for what we are dealing with, three weeks is a long time too. I do not know.

Mrs Marland: Well, it is hard to speak in a vacuum, because it is not just the privacy act that we will be reviewing.

The Chair: I will make a suggestion that this may be an issue that the subcommittee could look at and the members on the subcommittee could bring back the recommendations from their House leaders. They in turn would be prepared to make some recommendations to the committee when we meet again.

Mr Owens: The House leaders will be meeting tomorrow, so I guess all our lives will be a little bit more organized in all our committees, as that will be the meeting where the business is determined.

Mr H. O'Neil: Are we proposing to meet next week too then?

The Chair: If that is the wish of the committee, we could meet same place, same time.

Mrs Marland: Today is only Wednesday. The other thing about House leaders is that the sooner we get our request for budget in, the better. I mean, there starts to be a lineup. If we are organized and prepared and we get to the House leaders with our budget and, in turn, it goes to the Board of Internal Economy, we would be better to do it sooner rather than later and not be at the end of the lineup.

Mr Owens: I was going to suggest that perhaps instead of the whole committee meeting, the subcommittee meet next week at this time or sooner, if at all possible.

Mrs Marland: Could the subcommittee not meet tomorrow?

Mr H. O'Neil: I cannot.

Mrs Marland: Maybe you could send somebody. Then we could meet at our regular meeting, which is next Wednesday, and deal with the subcommittee's report.

Mr H. O'Neil: Again, it does not matter. I will not be here tomorrow and, as you say, I could send a substitute. But there may be some information that the clerk and staff want to get together, and I would propose that maybe the subcommittee meet Monday or Tuesday of next week and then come back to the full committee next Wednesday. Again, I bow to the Chairman.

The Chair: I believe that is a good idea, that the subcommittee look at the question of budget and the business coming before this committee for the next number of months and prepare to come back with some recommendations to the full committee next Wednesday.

Mr Villeneuve: House leaders meet on Thursday mornings, and that is when we would, I think, like to have our request in as to what our planning is, and not be the last ones to go.

The Chair: Any other topics of business?

Mrs Marland: Probably what we should do is talk to our caucuses on Tuesday morning and ask them if there are any matters that they would like referred to this committee. For us as individuals, if we have matters that we would like the committee to discuss, then maybe that is something we could do next Wednesday as well, come back prepared with items that fall within our jurisdiction.

Mr H. O'Neil: So are you having a meeting of the subcommittee or not?

The Chair: Yes.

Mrs Marland: Yes, the subcommittee is only dealing with the sitting dates and the budget. I am talking about matters before the committee.

Mr H. O'Neil: So when is the subcommittee going to meet then?

Mrs Marland: It is up to the Chairman.

The Chair: I am available at any time the other members of the subcommittee are available. We can meet tomorrow morning if that is acceptable to the committee.

Mr Villeneuve: I have no problem with that. Are you looking at 9 or 9:30?

The Chair: I have another committee meeting at 10 o'clock, so if we could meet at 8:30.

Mr Villeneuve: Yes, 8:30 is fine.

Mr H. O'Neil: Yes, 8:30 would suit me.

Mr Villeneuve: If you want to meet in the legislative dining room, we could have breakfast together.

The Chair: We could have a breakfast meeting. Whatever is the wish of the subcommittee. So the subcommittee will meet tomorrow in the legislative dining room at 8:30. Is there any other business before the committee?

Mrs Marland: I will move adjournment.

The committee adjourned at 1607.