Wednesday 20 March 1991

Application for private legislation

Delegation to Cuba

Members' mailings



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 (S-D-G & East Grenville PC)

Substitution: Jamison, Norm (Norfolk NDP) for Mr Frankford

Also taking part: Henderson, D. James (Etobicoke-Humber L)

Clerk: Arnott, Douglas

Staff: Yeager, Lewis, Research Officer, Legislative Research Office

The committee met at 1544 in room 151.


The Chair: We have a short agenda in front of us this afternoon. The first item on that agenda is the referral by the Clerk of the House of the application for private legislation of our friend Mr Levesque. That has come back from the Clerk of the House because we obviously have not referred it properly. It should have been referred under standing order 54, and it requires a motion to do that.

Mr Owens: Mr Chairman, I am prepared at this time to move such a motion.

The Chair: Mr Owens moves that the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly advise the Clerk of the House that, in the opinion of the committee, the application for private legislation of Pierre R. Levesque is contrary to standing order 54 and is therefore not the proper subject matter of a private bill.

Okay, there is a motion before the committee. Any debate? Questions?

Mrs Marland: We have certainly improved from where we started with this. We have now got the right phraseology and terms and everything.

The Chair: Hopefully, this will settle the matter.

Mrs Marland: I certainly agree.

Mr Owens: I think so. I really do not think that there is any need to go around the rose bush, or whatever it is, one more time unless -- I think it is fairly clear.

The Chair: Is there unanimous consent on the motion?

Motion agreed to.

Mr Owens: I hope we will have legislative counsel to provide for my defence when my name appears next to it.

Mr Villeneuve: Steve, that may get you in cabinet.

The Chair: Mr Owens, we will certainly review that request at the time.


The Chair: We will move to item 2 of the agenda. Everybody has a copy of a proposal for a delegation to Cuba. Jim, if you want to come forward maybe you could outline the reasons for your proposal.

Mr Henderson: Thank you very much, Mr Chairman. I have made a number of trips to Cuba over the last two and one half years, first of all as a tourist, then more recently to do some professional development work in my medical field with Cuba.

In the course of that, I have come to know some of the folks there reasonably well and the idea arose, first of all, informally, of a delegation of legislators from Ontario coming down to see Cuba, the idea being, I think, from the Cubans' part that they are very interested. And I should say relations between Canada and Cuba have been very good, very bullish, the ambassador said, for about two years. The Cubans have a very strong affinity for Canada. They appreciate how much we have done for them, and I did not frankly know how much we had done for them until they began telling me about it, in a number of areas that I can mention later if anybody wants me to. They see us as friendly North Americans who might be interested in working with them in developing joint ventures, in investment areas, in expanding trade, in entering into cultural and medical exchanges and sporting exchanges and of course tourism, because more Cuban tourists come from Canada than any other country.

So they are very keen to have us. And in the course of talking about it informally on a couple of occasions -- both in Cuba and in Toronto, when their vice-minister of external affairs was here a few months ago, and then again in February, when I was down there doing some medical work -- I suggested they give me a letter, which they did. It is not exactly a formal letter, but a letter inviting us to come. I talked to the Speaker about it. He said it would be in order to approach the Board of Internal Economy to see about obtaining some funding for a delegation. The Board of Internal Economy reviewed it and I went and talked to them about it; and they are interested and intrigued, I think it is fair to say. But they felt that it should come here first, for two things I think -- and this is my thinking rather than anything they exactly said to me. They want to feel that it has been processed through the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly, so that nobody will feel that it has been handled by the board in a way that pre-empts our own democratic process. Secondly, I think they would like the objectives tightened up a little bit so that the trip would stand scrutiny; and I might say their thinking and mine are exactly in accord on this.

I do not want this to become just another fun trip where we would go down to Cuba and enjoy their hospitality and then say, "Thank you very much," and come back. I really would like to see something come of it in the way of setting up future exchanges and making some real progress in the areas of trade, culture, investment, sports, tourism or whatever we can do. I think it is potentially very much to Canada's advantage as well, because we can work with the Cubans, we can invest in Cuba, we can embark on trade ventures with Cuba without any sense of being in competition with the Americans. So, our major competitor or one of our major competitors has removed itself from the field, so to speak, and Canada can work, I think, very much to our advantage with Cuba.

For example, Cuba would love to have us import more of their citrus. Their citrus is much less expensive than citrus imported from California, Florida or most other countries. They would love to have us import more of the alcoholic products, rum for example. They are the inheritors of the Bacardi rum operation that was formerly in Cuba. The rum they make is Bacardi rum, but they cannot call it that of course. It is excellent rum and we import a little bit, but not very much.


There are lots of areas like that: tourism, joint ventures in the area of tourism. There are some tourist ventures in Cuba that are excellent, really state-of-the-art, that are being developed by Cuba in association with Mexico, Spain, Italy and one other country which escapes my mind at the moment. But Canadians being the largest group of tourists, Canada ought to begin, I think, on that, and we are missing opportunities, it seems to me.

That is some of the background to all this. I think what is at issue in terms of this committee, aside from whatever else you might want to bring up, is just: first of all, whether you think it is a good idea in principle, and I hope you would; and second, any thoughts you might have about tightening up the formal statement of objectives so as to make it clear that this is not just a fun trip and a free holiday, that we really are trying to achieve something that would be to the best interests of Ontario as well as Cuba.

I would be happy to answer any questions or discuss anything further that anybody wants me to.

The Chair: Sharon.

Ms S. Murdock: I just have one quick question if I may. When I was reading your report, I understood that the Board of Internal Economy said something about approving or looking favourably upon five or six, and that you had 21 who had already indicated interest.

Mr Henderson: Well, the group of people who have indicated -- let me back up a step or two. A few months ago, I sent around a memo to all of us, inviting people who were interested in Cuba in a general way to come forward and be part of an informal committee that would take an interest in Latin America in general and Cuba in particular. That group now numbers 21.

My original thought had been that the number of people who might want to go to Cuba -- because there seemed to be quite a bit of interest -- the number might be 10 or 15. I envisaged also incorporating a private sector representation from, say, the board of trade, the manufacturers' association, chamber of commerce and a few other groups, to make it more of a working group.

I hoped that the Board of Internal Economy might be prepared to give us a contribution towards that and that the group would simply decide how to divvy it more or less equally among the legislative members, not the private sector people.

The Board of Internal Economy had a different view. They said they did not want private sector people involved. They wanted the number kept down to something like two per caucus, plus me, plus maybe the Speaker might wish to come. So that was how it turned from a larger proposal into a smaller proposal.

Frankly, I have a completely open mind. Whatever I can arrange, I would be happy to arrange. I was a little disappointed that the number got reduced, but if that is how the Board of Internal Economy would like to do it, it is okay by me. I guess I am in their hands or your hands or whatever.

Ms S. Murdock: I guess my concern is $600 -- it is working out to about $600 from your proposal, right? Our committee cannot allocate funds, right? Am I right in that?

The Chair: That is right. I understand we could make a recommendation to the board.

Ms S. Murdock: So we could recommend that --

The Chair: We can recommend to the board, yes.

Ms S. Murdock: I personally think that if we can expand trade in any way -- but I would hate to think that anyone would even perceive this as a possible junket kind of affair.

Mr Henderson: As would I.

Ms S. Murdock: I think it would be really bad, particularly -- and again, I guess I am getting a little partisan here -- but I am sure Cuba's history and the present government of Ontario would withstand real scrutiny.

The Chair: Thank you. Noble.

Mr Villeneuve: Thank you, Mr Chairman. The political climate in Cuba, I gather, has changed considerably. I have spoken to a number of people who have gone to Cuba and they seemed to long for a Canadian meal type of thing. They get tired of chicken, chicken, chicken.

I would suggest that if indeed this happens, we should have agricultural representation, because we are going to be importing probably a lot of agricultural produce, ie, citrus, what have you, and I think we could have a market there for some of our red meat items that we have in surplus.

Now, from what I gather, I understand it is not a democracy. The Cuban people are kept very, very low, if you will. There are stores where North Americans or tourists can buy -- I understand the Cuban residents cannot even go in that store. Those are things that I do not particularly appreciate. I do not want to encourage that. But I also want to deal with that country. It is very much a developing country and I think we have potential to not only influence their political system, but to provide them with a better life. I think that is the aim of the exercise.

I guess we do not have any jurisdiction over what happens in the political arena, other than possibly trying to set an example. Our tourists are well used. The cost is right, but they come back with that strange feeling that those people are not free. That is very true, and that concerns me.

Mr Henderson: I think we are coming from the same direction on this in many ways. I think you are quite right in saying that we cannot directly influence their political structure, but I think it is fair to say that the more contact, interchange and exchange there is between countries with, let's say, less democratic systems and countries with more democratic systems, the more difficult it becomes to preserve less democratic systems. In other words, to put it more baldly, I think that more contact and interaction between Cuba and Canada takes a small step towards nudging at least the climate, if not the actual political system, towards a more democratic form.

Mr Villeneuve: I think we have many areas that we can trade in. I would certainly not exclude agriculture. I think that is one of the major areas and I would make a strong pitch for agricultural input if indeed this exchange or this trip to Cuba does occur. Thank you, Mr Chair.

The Chair: Thank you. Margaret?

Mrs Marland: Well, Mr Chairman, I am wondering why Cuba would not want to -- It would seem to me that the balance of trade would be more in favour of Cuba than it would be of Ontario. Because we are provincial representatives we can only look at Ontario obviously. We cannot look at federal trade initiatives. So I am just wondering if it is a trade advantage, a serious trade advantage to Cuba, and it sounds as though it possibly is. If it is not a serious trade advantage, we should not be contemplating it at all. But if it is, why would Cuba not want to help towards the cost of this?

Right now one of our federal members in Mississauga is on a similar visit, with the same hopeful results, to Yugoslavia. My own federal member, the other federal member in Mississauga, was in Taipei a few weeks ago. And both times the countries hosted and made the arrangements totally for that delegation to go.

Mr Henderson: The answer to that I think would be that Cuba wants to do that but they are painfully short of hard currency at the moment. Notwithstanding that shortage, they are paying half or better of the cost of this. If we pay, say, between $600 and $700 each, the greater part of that will be eaten up by the air fare, and I can tell you from experience with the Cubans that our group will be very, very warmly and, by Cuban standards, well and even lavishly put up. The real cost of the trip -- I think I have this figure in here somewhere -- would be two to three times what they are asking us to pay.

So from the point of view of being well treated by a country of limited means that is doing its best to be as hospitable as it can, I think this is not a bad deal. One can always say they should be doing more, but I really think, knowing what I know of how tough their situation is for hard currency, how so much of what they have come to rely on from eastern Europe and the Soviet Union has dried up on them, and what shocks their economy is going through, that the suggestion that they would like us to help with the cost of it is reasonable. I do not think we are being taken advantage of or anything like that at all; quite the contrary.


Mrs Marland: Well, Mr Chairman, I do not think that if such a delegation goes, they need to be lavishly accommodated, to use Dr Henderson's words. I am just thinking of the -- I see here $600 --

Mr Henderson: May I just interject? Lavish by Cuban standards does not mean what it might connote to a Canadian. I just mean that the cost of the trip will be substantially more than what we are being asked to pay.

Mrs Marland: Well, what I am suggesting is, I see in the report it says that to duplicate this kind of delegation by private arrangement would cost between $1,000 and $1,500 per person. Now, I have not visited that country for a vacation, but I am certainly aware of all the advertisements for all-inclusive air fare, hotel and meals that sometimes are as low as $359. So, I mean, I think if that is the kind of price range that tour companies can arrange, then I would think that the Cuban government themselves would be able to arrange something in that price range rather than $1,000 or $1,500.

And I say very sincerely that we could make this argument for so many countries, that it works to their advantage, and we could be spending money going without being sure that there was a payback for the investment on our part. I can only compare it, Mr Chairman, to the many trade missions that the federal government has all the time, going to many, many countries, where those countries bear the cost of that trade mission. That would be the way that I think I would be interested in.

Mr Henderson: Third World countries?

Mrs Marland: No, I am not saying Third World countries, Jim.

Mr Henderson: Cuba is a Third World country.

Mrs Marland: Do not insult me by telling me that. I know that.

Mr Henderson: No, but I am just asking as a point of information, do Third World countries bring Canadian legislators over at their expense, air fare, hotel, meals and everything?

Mrs Marland: I can get the information for you.

Mr Henderson: I would be surprised.

Mrs Marland: What I am suggesting is, which Third World countries do we decide to spend Ontario taxpayer money on? I mean, if we are going to make an investment -- and sometimes, if the payback is there, I can support it; but it is like anything else. I mean, Ontario has trade offices around the world. We spend money on advertising Ontario because there is a payback in trade and business and commerce from foreign investment in this province. And it is important that we do have exchange of trade, commerce and business with other countries, including Third World countries. But we have got to know that the investment has a payback, that it is a good investment, in other words. If it is a good investment for the Third World country to spend any money at all on inviting a trade mission from Ontario, as in this case we are talking about Cuba, I just want to say that we have got to be sure that it is the right decision.

I would suggest that perhaps it is something the committee would be happy to discuss, Mr Chairman, with some more information. Otherwise, what countries will we select and on what basis, or what will be our guidelines or our parameters in deciding that we are going to visit this country or that country with that in mind? I think it is an excellent idea if it has an advantage for both parties. That is all I am saying.

The Chair: Thank you, Margaret. I guess one of the questions that the committee has been asked to look at or examine is exactly what the purpose of this trip is. Is it a trade mission, is it a trip from one Parliament to another Parliament? Is it a cultural exchange? I guess the committee has to determine that and we will go from there. Mr Cooper?

Mr Cooper: That was one of the clarifications I was looking for. From everything I have read so far, I was wondering how much involvement the actual government of Cuba has in this, and is it true that they are not the ones that are footing the rest of the bill; it is businessmen who are paying the extra over and above the $600?

Mr Henderson: This trip will be hosted by an organization called the Cuban Institute of International Friendship which is an organization somewhat at arm's length from government but working very closely with the Ministry of External Affairs of Cuba. It is funded by the government of Cuba. The cost of the trip, other than the part we pay for ourselves, is going to be funded by the institute, which means through their budget from the government of Cuba.

Mr Cooper: So is this basically a trade mission between businessmen, because you are talking about the manufacturers' association coming down?

Mr Henderson: No, I am saying, if it goes forward, subject to the views of this committee, if it goes forward through this committee and through the Board of Internal Economy, it will be a group of six or seven legislators, no private sector representatives and no business people. It will be a legislative delegation; a delegation of legislators.

Mr Cooper: Basically what we are saying, though, is this was initiated by the institute and not by the Cuban government.

Mr Henderson: Yes.

Mr Cooper: Okay, thank you.

The Chair: I guess, Jim, what we have to determine is, is this a trade mission or is it a combination of trade mission and cultural visit.

Mr Henderson: I think we can define it how we want and make it what we want. I mean, if the feeling of the committee is that it should be one or the other, then say so and it will be. I do not think it can reasonably be called a trade mission if we do not have representatives from the private sector. I think I would conceive of it as a visit of legislators from one jurisdiction to another.

The Chair: Could I make a suggestion to the committee at this point, that we delay this matter, say, for one more week to get some more information: one, to see if a parliamentary delegation -- maybe we can get some information from yourself on their Legislature; two, on a trade mission, information from Industry, Trade and Technology and Intergovernmental Affairs on the Canada-Ontario-Cuba trade ties -- we need some more information on that; three, the federal Board of Internal Economy policies regarding funding for such visits. Maybe we could get some information on that.

Any questions? Will you be able to get that and come back in a week --

Mr Henderson: Who specifically? Are you asking me to get that information?

The Chair: I will direct the clerk and the research people to get that information for us and we will review this information next week.

Mr Henderson: Sure.

The Chair: Okay, if you want to come back at that time.

Mr Henderson: Sure. Are you asking me to get information or are they going to --

The Chair: No.

Mr Henderson: Okay.

Mr H. O'Neil: Mr Chairman, I wonder if I could ask Jim -- I guess I have some concerns or worries about this too -- has the Cuban government asked you to try to set up something like this? In other words, are they asking that it be part of a parliamentary committee, members of the Legislature, rather than trade or cultural or something like that? What angle are they coming at it --

Mr Henderson: I think from the point of view of the Cubans it is a visit of legislators. I think the idea that it would be helpful and beneficial to include trade and private sector representation came from me, and I gather the feeling of the Board of Internal Economy is that that is not a good idea, so I am happy to relinquish it.

Mr H. O'Neil: What purpose do you see if legislators went down -- say, half a dozen or seven legislative people? What are they looking for to come from it or what would you see?


Mr Henderson: I think what we would stand to gain from it would be a broadening of perspectives and an opportunity to explore cultural, economic, trade, investment and other areas where Ontario's relationship with Cuba could be expanded. I think what the Cubans would gain from it is an opportunity to learn from us about how we operate politically, how our system of government and politics works, and to make contacts with us that could lead to an exploration on the Cuban part of, similarly, trade, investment, cultural, touristic and other opportunities with Ontario; a strengthening of relationships in any sphere where it turns out to be possible between Cuba and Ontario.

Mr H. O'Neil: You mention that you have been going there for a number of years now. Do you see any softening of, you know, the system itself? I mean, it is a communist system and over the years we still hear that there are lots of problems there as far as opening up the country to a lot of ideas, and things like that. Do you see that as having changed over the last number of years that you have been going there, that this would help?

Mr Henderson: I do not have the sense of a great deal of oppression in Cuba. I feel that, for example, as a tourist, I am able to rent a bike or a car and go anywhere I want and talk to anybody I want; go into people's homes and visit with them and be entertained by ordinary Cubans; take pictures of anything I wish. In Cuba, I can turn on a radio and listen to any radio station that can be picked up in Cuba; at nighttime, largely American radio stations, in the daytime more than likely Cuban radio stations.

The Cubans argue that their system is democratic, and that is something the delegation could take an interest in exploring, I suppose. There are elements of it that are democratic and there are elements of it that are not at all democratic. It is not as simple as saying, "We are democratic and they aren't," but on the other hand there is some truth in such a statement, but it is complicated.

I think one of the things that I have found fascinating about visiting Cuba is an opportunity to really explore -- and each time I go I explore it a little more -- how the system there really works. I do that by talking to ordinary Cubans that I am free to talk to, and by talking to my legislative counterparts that they have been very helpful in putting me in touch with so that I can share ideas and discuss things with them.

To answer your question, is it becoming freer, I think it is. I think particularly in the last couple of years Cuba has come to realize that, ideology aside, it is important to get along in the world, and they are prepared to get along with countries that have very different political systems than they do. If you talk to Cuba, for example, about a joint venture investment, they say -- and I have done this a few times, I have facilitated meetings between Canadians who are interested in doing some investing in Cuba and the Cuban representatives. The Canadians always begin to express concerns about freedom and whether they can take money out of Cuba or put money into Cuba, and various aspects of our impression of Cuba, and the Cuban answer is: "Look, politics is politics and business is business. We are interested in doing business with you; so as long as it works in a way that is of some benefit to Cuba, come work with us and write your own ticket."

In a way, that is what they are saying to us about this delegation. They would like to have us. We can pretty much come on any terms we want, except that they are asking -- and it is really more a request, I suppose, at the moment, but it is one I feel frankly that, in dealing with a Third World country, we should try to observe -- they are asking that we try to pay some of the cost of the visit. But how we set it up, what we call it, what the objectives are in specific terms, I think we are free to define and stipulate.

The Chair: Any further questions?

Mr Henderson: Is there anything that I ought to be doing between now and next week, or just come back next week?

The Chair: Sorry, Margaret.

Mrs Marland: Mr Chairman, could I just ask that our researcher look into what stands today as the official federal government policy with Cuba?

The Chair: Mr Owens.

Mr Owens: Thank you, Mr Chairman. I guess, Jim, I feel a little bit discomfited in the sense that we do not necessarily have a stated purpose at this point, and that in terms of looking at the overall political aspects of a trip of this nature at this point in time, I think I would have some difficulty in going back to my riding -- and that does not necessarily mean that I would be going -- and explaining why we were sending a group of, assuming, backbenchers who basically have no authority to negotiate any kind of trade agreements, on a trip of this nature.

So I am not saying it is not a good idea; I just do not yet have a sense of the real purpose of the trip. You have not clarified that, as per the instructions of the board, to my satisfaction. Maybe I am missing the subtext in your remarks, but you may want to think about a more defined purpose. I have a real problem saying, "Okay, let's have a trip and we will make it whatever we want." That is my problem and I think that is the problem I would have to try to explain in my constituency. I do not think that kind of trip would fly, quite frankly.

Mr Henderson: Mr Chairman, what if I bring next week when I come -- because a number of committee members have mentioned it, as did the board -- an attempt to flesh out a little bit the stated objectives or the possible stated objectives of the trip, and you may like them or want to change them or may have some suggestions of your own. I would be happy to try to bring something back next week that would flesh it out a little bit.

The Chair: I think it would be a good idea. Any further questions?

Okay, we will defer this matter for one more week.


The Chair: The next item of business is number 3 on the agenda; that is the review of the guidelines regarding members' householder mailings. We have a number of attachments at C, D and E. Are there any particular comments on that? I know the Speaker has referred to us a number of letters he has received from various constituents regarding householder mailings that were sent out over the Christmas period, and I think they were more or less the calendar type. He has requested the committee to review those letters and make a recommendation to the Board of Internal Economy if the committee determines that any action is warranted on those letters.


Mrs Marland: Mr Chairman, I have not read this. Could somebody tell us what the problems are or what is being said here?

The Chair: Okay. Mr Owens.

Mr Owens: I am at a loss to understand why this has been referred to our committee, especially in reading the complaints. There does not seem to be a reason of substance given other than the fact that the complainants, Mr Giorno and Mr Burnside, seem to feel that these calendars are being used for political purposes as opposed to some type of instructional purpose, which they seem to feel we should be using these calendars for.

So I am not quite sure what the basis of complaint is. I do not see the calendars that were sent out from this side of the committee to be particularly partisan, unless the environment has now become a partisan issue. So perhaps either Doug or somebody can clarify the basis for the complaint. They are clearly not stating that a particular member or a particular party is using these calendars in an inappropriate manner.

Again, I would like to have the issue clarified.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Owens. Margaret.

Mrs Marland: Mr Chairman, if we are dealing with this matter because of these two letters -- and it is rather interesting since one of the criticisms is of a federal member's calendar and the other one is of a provincial member's calendar -- if we are dealing with the matter because of these two letters from constituents, I probably could have given you a couple, because you can never please all of the people all of the time. The truth of the matter is that as provincial members -- and that is the only area that we can deal with, although as I say, one of these letters deals with the federal member's calendar -- we have the option to send out three communications in a financial year, and whether we choose to send out calendars or newsletters or questionnaires is our choice. We are answerable to those people who elect us on an individual riding basis. And I think that if the matter was referred to us because of a misuse of those options of communicating with our riding -- you know, in my six years, quite frankly, I think I have had three complaining letters, and I remember one I had was complaining about the use of paper, which was a legitimate complaint. Everybody is concerned about using paper. Of course I now use recycled paper, and as all of us know, recycled paper, in terms of raw cost -- we save the trees, which is good -- but in terms of raw cost of production, costs something like 10 times more than ordinary paper. I know a package of 500 sheets of copying paper can be bought for $5, and I think if it is recycled, it is $95. So I am sure it follows about the same percentages for paper that we use to send out calendars and newsletters.


So what I feel is that, as the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly, I do not think we have the authority to make a decision about the calendars unless we are going to deal just with calendars or we are going to deal with the whole communication vehicle -- we described them as householders because they go to every house -- the three opportunities a year that we have.

Since it is the responsibility of every individual member to deal with that in their own ridings, unless we decide that we should not do three mailings or we want to change the policy, I do not think we can deal with these two particular calendars that are before us. It is hard to know because what we have been given here is only the cover sheet of one of the calendars. We have heard a few questions in the House before Christmas, and I think there was one raised at the beginning of this week where a member's mailing was promoting their political party and perhaps there was a suggestion that there was an ad in the paper that advertised a constituency office and it advertised their political party.

Maybe, if we want to decide that should become a policy, then I think that is something we can discuss on its own. I mean, maybe we should say that you cannot have stationery and letterhead and advertisements in the paper and these householders promoting your party and yourself, that it has to be as a member of the Legislative Assembly, that your stationery has to be non-partisan. And would that not be funny in a way, when you think about it? Because the Liberals get business cards printed in red, we get ours printed in blue and I think you get yours printed in brown or green, do you not?

Mr Owens: Green.

Mr Villeneuve: What happened to orange?

Mrs Marland: So the thing is that, on the face of what is before us, I do not see anything on this calendar -- and I am not going to mention the name -- that indicates that it is any different than anybody else's calendar that I have seen. It does not mention the political party. So I think, if the issue is of calendars being a waste of paper and what is stated in these two letters, Mr Chairman, I would just move receipt of those two letters and suggest that, if the direction from the House to this committee is that we look further into the overall subject of householders, then I would be happy for us to do that. But at this point in time I think it is as ridiculous as saying, "You know, you can't have two armchairs in your constituency office, because really you could manage with two straight chairs," or whatever. I mean, how far do we want to go to tell each of us, as individual members, how to manage our own offices and our own business? If we are not responsible to do that on our own, then we are not responsible to be elected, as far as I am concerned. I think every member is quite responsible, and if they are not, they will certainly learn about it in the next election from the people who voted them into office.

The Chair: Thank you, Margaret. I was just wondering, maybe we should look at the rules governing householders and maybe the guidelines need to be clarified, bearing in mind what we found out on our trip to Ottawa as regards the Board of Internal Economy, the five principles that we heard about in Ottawa.

Mrs Marland: That is true.

Mr Owens: Nice sideswipe, Mr Chairman.

The Chair: For example, one of the principles is that the partisan activities are an inherent and essential part of the activities and functions of a member. So maybe it is time we had a look at those guidelines for householders and reviewed them.

Mrs Marland: Can I just respond quickly --

The Chair: Sure.

Mrs Marland: -- because you do have two other speakers. I feel very strongly about the fact that when I was elected a member -- certainly I ran as a Progressive Conservative -- but once elected as that member, in terms of my constituency office, my communications, my work and my service to everyone in my community, it is a non-partisan responsibility. I mean, it is so funny because there are actually people out in the public who think, if they are of the other political stripe, that they cannot call you. You know, there still are people who think that your office is a Progressive Conservative constituency office.

Mr Villeneuve: Of course yours is not.

Mrs Mathyssen: No.

Mrs Marland: And of course, we do not do that. We have never, as far as I know, in our party -- we do not put the party on our business cards or anything else. And I think that is the way it should be. So maybe that is something we could discuss at another time, but it is not the matter before us today.

The Chair: Noble, you wanted to --

Mr Villeneuve: Yes. As a person who represents a large rural riding, my calendar is probably the most informative of the three mailings that go out. It looks at and designates the fairs throughout the rural riding, the celebrations, and also the services available through the Legislature. Yes, my name and phone number are on there because I am the rapport to Queen's Park, and I do not see anything wrong with that. But I can also see where someone gets carried away and it becomes a blatant political piece of literature. At that stage of the game I think this committee should look at it per se as an individual mailing paid for by the Legislature of Ontario, the public of Ontario.

But I feel that calendar itself is probably, in my case, and I have tried to be as neutral as possible -- there is blue on the calendar and I do not want to hide that fact. It is information that is available through my office from the Legislature. It is information on different pages. I have eliminated photographs intentionally. If I can find a photograph that is absolutely non-partisan, non-political, it may show up, but the last two years I have eliminated photographs for the simple reason I just do not want it to look like a piece of political propaganda.

Mrs MacKinnon: Excuse me, you eliminated what?

Mr Villeneuve: Photographs.

The Chair: Order, please.

Mr Villeneuve: It is basically information on the 12-months greetings and there is a photograph on the front much like the example that has been given to us. And I still maintain it is one of the pieces of literature that is most helpful, ie, birth certificates, how you obtain them, that kind of information; OSAP, seniors' month in June, information that is readily available, but it is oriented towards a specific group of people, and it is non-political. It is available to everyone. So I would certainly not like to see calendars eliminated.

If there is a breach and we feel, as a committee, that someone has gone over that line -- and it is a very difficult and ill-defined line. Is it blatantly political, is it political, or is it totally non-political? A piece of information with 12 months on it, I have no problems with calendars at all.


Mr Owens: I would like to make two recommendations. I think we all reasonably feel the same way about the calendar issue and I would like to recommend that the committee send a note to the Board of Internal Economy through the Speaker that we find basically -- I hate to say nothing wrong -- no wrongdoing with respect to sending out the calendars and that no further action is required.

The second recommendation I would like to make is with respect to the recommendations that came from the federal House: that we put them on the agenda for the next meeting to discuss fully their implications to this Legislature.

The Chair: Any discussion on those recommendations? All agreed? Sharon.

Ms S. Murdock: I just have one concluding comment that I would like to say regarding Mr Giorno's letter because on page 2 of his letter, at the end of the third paragraph, he says, "What makes calendars offensive is that self-promotion is their only purpose."

I may be somewhat naïve, but this person was also a former constituency assistant and/or an executive assistant to some MPP. I do not know which one. I do not believe for a minute that is true, and I find the statement offensive. But the two questions that he asks at the end are: "Why do you feel that the cost to the taxpayers of producing and mailing your 1991 calendar was justified?" and, "As a member of the majority party" -- because this letter was addressed to Mr Marchese -- "in the House, will you push for a clarification of the rules...?" And I think we have covered the second one.

The first one I would like answered, but I would like it answered very specifically to this Mr Giorno.

The Chair: Thank you. Any further comments?

We will then forward our --

Mr Villeneuve: What about a copy of Hansard of this discussion? I have no problem with this committee looking at what might be infractions, but going from there to -- I think it is one of the most informative pieces we send.

Mrs Marland: I think as I read Mr Giorno's letter, it is going to need an answer because he has some really inaccurate statements here. For example, if he had copied this letter to one of the major newspapers, people reading it would say, "Oh, MPPs and MPs are prohibited from sending partisan material at taxpayers' expense because it is agreed that members' budgets should not be used for what is, in effect, political advertising."

That is Mr Giorno's statement, and this is a letter that went to a provincial member and a federal member and now it has been referred to this committee. I do think we probably have to answer the letter and give Mr Giorno some clear information and facts about what stands today as guidelines for the use of our mailings. In fact, we do not have any.

The Chair: Would you wish me to draft such a reply and have you review it at the next meeting?

Mrs Marland: Sure, because I do not think we can let this letter just stand the way it is because it is inaccurate.

The Chair: Okay, thank you, Margaret. Any further comments?

Ms S. Murdock: This is really crude but I am going to say it anyway, because the more I think about it, I find it amazing that this person, as a former executive assistant to --

Mrs Marland: Do not say it, because I purposely have not mentioned any names in this.

Ms S. Murdock: No, and I am just wondering if the MPP to whom he was an executive assistant is still around. If he is not, I am not surprised.

Mrs Marland: Well, he is.

Interjection: Very much around.

Mrs Marland: I will tell you afterwards who it is.

The Chair: Okay. This was referred to the Speaker of the House, who in turn referred it to us for review. We will draft a letter of reply for your review next week, to send it to this particular individual. We will also instruct the Speaker of the House that we believe that no further action in regard to calendars as householders should be taken at this time.

Any further business for the committee before we move on to item 4? Margaret.

Mrs Marland: Oh no, I just thought you said any more business for the committee, and I was looking for item 4.

The Chair: I guess there is still some outstanding business to be done in relation to the review of the freedom of information act. We have about another four witnesses, I think, who have to appear before the committee or want to appear. We will try to schedule those in the coming weeks. We have also got a request of Mr Owens's to deal with, that is, to have people appear from the SkyDome Corp to answer certain questions, which we will deal with in the coming weeks as well.

Is there any further business to come before the committee? Margaret.

Mrs Marland: Well, in that fast little summary that you just did, are matters to come before this committee at the suggestion of individual members or does the subcommittee -- I mean, that is the first I have heard of Mr Owens's suggestion. I think it probably would be very interesting, but I am just wondering, how do matters before this committee get before the committee. I mean, does the subcommittee not sit and decide?

The Chair: Just to clarify it, that was a request raised by Mr Owens at I think the last day of hearings in Queen's Park in regard to the freedom of information act. It was arising out of some comments that were --

Mrs Marland: Okay, the connection is with the freedom of information act.

The Chair: Yes. Is there any further business that members want to bring before the committee? I understand there has been quite a number of replies to our request for improvements to members' services, or suggestions, and hopefully we will be in a position very soon to circulate all those comments to each member of the committee.

Mrs Marland: Good. And we also have to discuss a schedule of our other meetings, other than just dealing with the freedom of information act.

The Chair: Would you make a recommendation that the subcommittee meet and deal with that?

Mrs Marland: I think that would be a very good idea.

The Chair: Thank you. Mr Owens.

Mr Owens: No, I was just going to suggest we do have to look at some budgetary considerations for this year, and I gather the subcommittee should probably meet as soon as possible.

The Chair: Okay. Thank you, Mr Owens. And we must include Margaret's trip to London. Thank you.

The committee adjourned at 1639.