Wednesday 27 August 1997

Annual Review: Broadcast and Recording Service

Mr Bill Somerville

Semiannual Review: Clerk of the House

Mr Claude L. DesRosiers


Chair / Président

Mr Joseph N. Tascona (Simcoe Centre / -Centre PC)

Vice-Chair / Vice-Président

Mr Gary Fox (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings /

Prince Edward-Lennox-Hastings-Sud PC)

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean PC)

Mr Tony Clement (Brampton South / -Sud PC)

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North / -Nord L)

Mr Gary Fox (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings /

Prince Edward-Lennox-Hastings-Sud PC)

Mr Ernie Hardeman (Oxford PC)

Mr Ron Johnson (Brantford PC)

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South / -Sud PC)

Mr Allan K. McLean (Simcoe East / -Est PC)

Mr Gilles E. Morin (Carleton East / -Est L)

Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich L)

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt ND)

Mr Joseph N. Tascona (Simcoe Centre / -Centre PC)

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel PC)

Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma ND)

Substitutions / Membres remplaçants

Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand PC)

Clerk / Greffier

Mr Peter Sibenik

Staff / Personnel

Mr Philip Kaye, research officer, Legislative Research Service

The committee met at 1539 in room 228.


The Chair (Mr Joseph N. Tascona): I'd like to thank everybody for coming here this afternoon. The agenda is set out, but there's another matter that may interest some of the members. There are some cassettes arising out of the National Conference of State Legislatures that was held. There had been some interest in the tapes. I just would put it out to you, if there are any members who wish to order a cassette, let the Chair know and we can order those. You have that order form in front of you.

Mr Gilles E. Morin (Carleton East): Did we have any members who attended the conference?

The Chair: No, there were no members who attended.

Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): It's conference by cassette now.

The Chair: That's one way of putting it; it could be. Any questions on that? I think all the forms are there. I'm doing the best I can to serve you.


The Chair: On that note, we have the agenda for today. We have the annual review of the televising of the legislative proceedings, Bill Somerville. Then we have the semiannual review of the Clerk of the House on changes in the administration of the House and on the provision of services to members. Claude DesRosiers is here today.

We'll start off with you, Bill, if you can address the committee.

Mr Bill Somerville: Thank you for inviting me again. I've missed talking to you the last year or so. Television and broadcasting recording is working well, I hope to your satisfaction. There's good news and bad news.

The good news is that last month we converted the satellite service into a digital service, which hopefully has caused no problems, very few that I've heard of. But it saved the assembly just less than $1 million a year by converting from an analog service to a digital service, which puts us in line for the future. You'll see in the next month or so a lot of television services converting to digital. We're one of the leading ones that converted, with savings, as I say, of approximately $900,000 per year in the annual budget of broadcast and recording.

Another piece of good news is that we will be converting the audio recordings that happen in committee rooms and in the House that we deliver to Hansard. We will be converting that from an analog system which uses audio cassettes to a digital service, which will save us approximately $30,000 to $40,000 per year on the annual budget.

The new digital system with the audio recordings will go straight into a computer and the transcribers at Hansard can use their computers to access the audio without going through an audio cassette and cassette recorders. The cassette recorders we're using now, the youngest is approximately 12 years old and the oldest is 16 years old. We're beginning to have some problems with them. As you may or may not know, we change audio cassettes every five minutes, so these machines get a workout, like 40 tapes per hour for two recorders. That's the good news.

Part of the bad news is that, as I said briefly, the system is getting older and we're beginning to have more and more faults on the system. I think we have to prepare to spend some money to replace some of the aging equipment. Most of it is 11, 11_ years old now. We replaced the cameras two years ago, but the video tape recorders are getting old and we're having a lot of maintenance problems with them.

I don't know if some of you noticed -- I know the Clerk noticed -- they had a microphone problem on the Speaker's dais on Monday. There are five microphones on that Speaker's chair. We had a problem with one of them, and we can't get a spare part for it; they no longer manufacture that microphone. I'm warning you, when television and electronic equipment get 11 years old, it should be replaced. We worked it out to have an annual life of seven years. We're into 11 years; I think we've kept it working quite well for the extra four years.

The other news -- good or bad -- as you've probably read in the newspapers is that there'll be at least 19 new television channels added to your choice of viewing by the end of September, the beginning of October. It's going to give the viewers a lot of choices they didn't have before. The unfortunate result is that I think the cable companies will move the Ontario parliamentary service further up the television band. On my service in Scarborough it was moved about three weeks ago. We're now on channel 78 as opposed to 54. Any older sets can't get up as far as 78, so we're losing some viewers there. I don't believe there is much we can do about it, but hopefully the viewers will buy a newer, more modern television set that can go up to 80, 90, 100 channels.

Interjection: So they can watch us.

Mr Somerville: Hopefully so they can watch you, yes.

Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): Crank up your performance there.

Mr Somerville: That's it. Another event to get over that is when you've got 90 channels -- I don't know if you've noticed, you're beginning to get small logos in the corner of your television picture, so when you change the channel it says you're watching CBC or CTV. I think at the assembly we'll have to add that very soon so that the viewer, when flicking through these channels, knows they've arrived on the Ontario Parliament and hopefully they will stay with it and watch.

The other aspects I'd like you to be aware of that I think the broadcasting service should get into is, as I say, replacing the videotape recorders in the near future with a computer server which will give more access to the recordings we make. As you probably know, if you've asked for a recording or a dub to be made of a speech, you normally have to wait until we're finished recording it. We rewind it and then we make a dub in real time for you. Hopefully, if we get into a video server computer recording, we'll be able to do that much faster, a faster turnaround on making dubs and recording and giving you access, and the other television broadcasters and the media people access to the recordings we've made much faster.

That's basically it for me to bring you up to date on what we've done. We still will work under the guidelines that a few of you in this room put together in 1985. They haven't changed, as far as I'm concerned, how we broadcast and record the Parliament. I still try to keep these guidelines and uphold what was put out by this committee in 1985.

Mr Gary Fox (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings): I'm one of these people who got caught up in this digital changeover, just last April. I have a satellite dish. I paid the some $300 to have the Legislative Assembly channel and now it's gone. My wife was very upset. She phoned the satellite dealer and he's very upset because he says that the government has put funding in for the cable networks to make this changeover but it has made no financial commitment to the satellite companies. Is there any truth in that?

Mr Somerville: Yes, it's very true. Every word you've said is true. The Board of Internal Economy provided funds to subsidize cable companies to receive a decoder for the signal, but that was only to companies -- in the breakdown of the scale, companies with more than 6,000 subscribers didn't receive a subsidy; between 6,000 and 1,000 they got 50% subsidy; and under 1,000 they got 100% subsidy. The cost of the decoder is $1,265, so the subsidy the company got depended on the size of the viewership or the subscribers. That was all done in the month of July.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): There's always criticism from people in my riding and I don't know what the answer is. You've made some remarks and some remarks were just made of people, particularly in the rural areas, who don't have cable and want to have access to the parliamentary channel. The only time they can see it is 1 o'clock in the morning, and they actually do watch it at 1 o'clock in the morning, which I always find amazing, but they do.

The criticism is, and you may be assisting with some of the issues, that there's a large percentage of the population that doesn't have access to cable. I don't know what the answer is but it's an issue which I trust that you and others, perhaps the Board of Internal Economy, are continually looking at.

Mr Somerville: In the past, members have communicated with their local broadcaster and asked them to do it, in particular TVO -- I think you're pointing at them -- broadcasting question period at 1 o'clock in the morning. They used to do it at 10 o'clock at night but it got bumped back until it's now 1 o'clock in the morning.


Mr Tilson: I only ask that the issue be kept alive because there is a large percentage of the population that doesn't have access to cable. We had an incident, and this has to do with the televised portion of the committee hearings, in the Amethyst Room. I don't know whether it's appropriate to discuss this.

Mr Somerville: Oh, yes.

Mr Tilson: There was a recent incident that occurred in the general government committee of which I was the Chair. On the last day of the hearings some young man somehow got into the centre of the square. I wasn't too sure what he was going to do. I eventually recessed the meeting and that was the end of that.

My concern is that somehow he ended up there. I'm sure the clerk of the committee has reported to you, but that incident may occur again. There may be ways in which that can be stopped. There's an entrance to this square right there. I suppose that's one way. But it's an incident that I would hope, for the televised portion at least, you could be aware of and perhaps there are ways of preventing that.

Mr Somerville: I know of the incident you're talking about. We took your direction. When you recessed, we faded. In the meantime, we cut wide. We would never try to feature; we would play down anybody who caused a public disturbance. It has happened in the audience behind guests and members and we try to play it down by going to a different camera or keeping them out of the shot. But this chap, as you say, got up in the middle of the room and I believe we cut to you.

Mr Tilson: I didn't know what he was going to do.

Mr Somerville: Yes, it's a tricky situation. As a general principle, we try to play all demonstrations down and go to a camera where you don't see the demonstration.

In the House, for example, under the guidelines we can't shoot any demonstrations in the public galleries so we don't put any cameras near them.

Mr Tilson: What I'm asking is that between you and the Clerk's office -- I don't know what members of the committee think, but I believe it's an issue that when there's a demonstration in the audience -- my understanding is that the only way the cameras can be shut off is that the Chair declare a recess. But there are all kinds of things that the cameras can do. They can zero in on the person who is making the deputation or they can zero in on the Chair or they can zero in on other members of the committee as opposed to people who are making a demonstration, doing heaven knows what.

Mr Somerville: I think the direction would be to go on a close-up of the Chair and take the Chair's reaction to what was happening in the meeting.

Mr Tilson: In my case, it was one of shock.

I'm interested in the maintenance issues. Are you in a position to inform us, to bring the standards of the system up to what you believe they should be? Can you give us any financial information?

Mr Somerville: Yes. We can handle it with this year's budget to keep us going. I'm hoping to replace two recorders this year, which we have in the budget, but next year it will probably be four recorders. Again, good news and bad news: The good news is the new recorders are a quarter of the price of the originals we're replacing.

I think we'll have the budget in the next two years. At least, I hope with your support I'll have the budget, and replace all the videotape machines with the new technology, which is much smaller tape that runs for two hours as opposed to one hour now, and less expensive machines.

Mr Morin: A question that was raised by Mr Fox is that we changed from the analog system to the digital system. Obviously it's creating a void. In other words, a lot of Ontario citizens are not getting the channel now. What do you plan to do to correct that?

Mr Somerville: I personally have no plan and I've never raised a plan with the clerk or the management advisory committee. There is estimated to be 200,000 satellite owners out there. It would be an expensive proposition to supply them all with a decoder and hope that they watch the parliamentary channel.

Mr Morin: As far as the wearing of the equipment, I understand that. It's only normal; it's being used every day and it wears out. Are you putting any money aside? Can you do that, let's say, to replace equipment as it ages?

Mr Somerville: No, we've never had a capital fund for that. We've replaced them as we went. Three years ago, when we replaced the cameras, that was just an item on the budget.

Mr Morin: Are you allowed to do that, to put money aside?

Mr Somerville: I've done that in the past, yes, just a budgetary item.

Mr Morin: Then the blow would not be as hard.

Mr Somerville: Yes. I don't think it'll be extraordinary as the cost of the equipment has come down and we've nursed it for 11 years. We've actually leapfrogged over a generation of recorders now. I think we're fairly happy with the new type of recording equipment. That will be good for the assembly and will take us back into the forefront.

Mr Morin: If anybody asks me a question like Gary was asked, I'll just say, "We can't afford it."

Mr Somerville: Yes. There's no subsidy for individuals with a satellite dish.

Mr Morin: We're not serving the whole population as it was intended to be at the beginning.

Mr Somerville: Parliament has always been broadcast and distributed via cable. We have never had a broadcast transmission. We've never gone off a transmitter and broadcast to the general public, for example, like TVO or the CBC. Most television stations now are distributed via cable. There are very few broadcast stations coming on because it's so expensive to have line transmissions; it's all via satellite.

Mr Morin: Is there any way we could buy space, let's say, from CBC or any other stations?

Mr Somerville: Yes, it could be done, but I don't know if we could persuade them to put us on in prime time. The space you may end up buying would again be 1 o'clock in the morning. Just as another point, CPaC, if anyone is watching that, the federal legislative television system is covering the Ontario Parliament. We have been on it quite a lot recently, going coast to coast, and they take the signal. But that's cable distribution via satellite; it still doesn't get to the members of the public who are not on a cable system or who have their own satellite dish.

I think in the near future for members like Mr Fox a decoder will come out where you can decode a lot of different signals. You'll probably purchase one and it will allow you to decode the parliamentary channel plus all the other channels. But it's not available at the moment. I think it'll be out within a year because everybody's changing to this digital system. It's a quarter of the cost to the broadcaster.

Mr Curling: I want to follow up on the same question. I encourage my constituency office to watch TV, question period that is, because I find that as soon as there are any announcements in the House or question period, my office is logging a lot of calls. They're asking what it's all about. You know how the beast within this animal is anyhow. We're the last people who hear any announcements. The constituents maybe get a newsflash, but if they're watching the live channel here, it's on that system somehow.

Some of the answers that you're giving, I'm realizing it is only done through cable. If you don't have cable at the plaza in which you're located, you're shot, you're gone. But you're also saying -- this is what else I got -- that if you go through whatever the other process --

Mr Somerville: Terrestrial, off a transmitter, like you see out at CFTO, the big, tall tower.

Mr Curling: You say that's very expensive. Therefore, there's no way that we can go that way. But you also said CPaC --

Mr Somerville: It's an identical system to us, distributed via cable as well.

Mr Curling: If one hasn't got a cable there, you won't get CPaC either.

Mr Somerville: No, you don't.

Mr Curling: So one is shot there; in other words, you're recommending that I move. In some of those plazas the landlords don't want to get a cable unless more and more of their tenants want it and that's what is causing that problem. It's unfortunate, though, that all the constituents are not able to get the cable TV because, like it or not, it seems a lot of people watch it. I'm sure since Mr Fox is on, the ratings went right up and they are now disappointed they can't see. Some of the questions were answered, but I just wanted to clarify that.


Mr Silipo: One area, Bill, that I wanted to pursue, that was the question of videoconferencing. Where are we on that? I know that we have been looking at expanding the possibilities that we had for committees to use that --

Mr Somerville: Yes, we have a videoconferencing system now installed in the Amethyst Room and shared with the media studio, which is in and working. I've tested it and carried out videoconferencing through the Clerk's office. We're just testing it, and hopefully it will be introduced to the members in the near future.

Mr Silipo: That would allow us, through the Amethyst Room, to hear deputants from anywhere in the province?

Mr Somerville: Yes, anywhere in North America.

Mr Allan K. McLean (Simcoe East): We fund TVO very extensively. I know that you had some discussions with regard to using their cable company or whatever. Tell us the reason why we can't use TVO.

Mr Somerville: It's at their choice, at their discretion whether they want to broadcast a particular question period. They still do want to broadcast it, but unfortunately it has been pushed back to 1 o'clock in the morning. It's at TVO's discretion what time of day they put it on.

I don't think they're mandated, at least not to my knowledge, to broadcast anything from the Parliament, so it's at their discretion when they run it. I know in the past Speakers have written to TVO and asked them to bring it earlier in the evening. I think it resulted in a half-hour change, maybe four or five years ago, but now it has drifted back up to 1 o'clock again.

Mr McLean: Is there any chance you could have a discussion again and bring it up with them to try and convince them that perhaps --

Mr Somerville: Sure.

Mr McLean: It would be nice to see the afternoon through TVO. A lot of northern Ontario gets TVO where they don't get your channel.

The other question I have is: You're talking about us moving it up. I know in Orillia it's channel 51 before we can get it. There are a lot of people in northern and rural Ontario, even who have cable, who don't have these modern sets in order to get it. If they give it another bump, there doesn't seem to be a priority here for the Legislature. You're buying these towers, aren't you? Or paying to put them on the towers?

Mr Somerville: Yes, we do; in the north, we do. In northern Ontario we subsidize it with TVO. But it is definitely a major problem of having the parliamentary channel moved up the dial all the time. It's not unique to us; a lot of people are complaining. It has been in the papers recently, like Life Channel, Discovery, all these new channels coming on the air on September 26. They're all complaining because they're so far up the dial.

The general opinion is we'd like all the Canadian stations at the low end of the dial and move the American stations up to the high end. But that's a dispute that has gone on between all broadcasters in the CRTC. No one likes to be high on the dial because there are fewer sets that can receive it. It's an ongoing problem. I think we have to keep addressing it.

Mr McLean: It's strictly because of cost, I presume.

Mr Somerville: No, it's viewers' choice and also the cost of advertising. The lower down the dial, the more viewers you've got and that pays for the advertising. The cable companies want to put all these programs full of advertising low on the band.

Mr McLean: But why is Fox cut off?

Mr Somerville: That's a different issue. That's not the time slot. That's because he's an individual owner of a satellite dish.

Mr McLean: But do you not subsidize any part of that? You subsidize the cables companies, and so the satellites -- you say there are 200,000 in Ontario. Is that what you said, somewhere around there?

Mr Somerville: Estimated.

Mr McLean: If you subsidized them, would they carry it then?

Mr Somerville: No, it would just allow Mr Fox to receive it. It wouldn't change the carrying. It's the cable companies. Once they decode this digital signal, then it's up to them where they put it on the dial. They can make us channel 2 or channel 52, whereas Mr Fox could put us on any channel he wanted if he receives it himself on his own dish in the house. But I don't know how many channels you're receiving now. How many do you receive?

Mr Fox: Probably 75 or 100. But the thing is, can we not make some kind of an agreement with the satellite company to use the decoder that I have now?

Mr Somerville: It's not the satellite company; it's the decoder you have. If you have a General Instrument decoder --

Mr Fox: Yes, I do.

Mr Somerville: -- you could probably receive -- it's a General Instrument?

Mr Fox: Yes.

Mr Somerville: Maybe we could have this discussion outside. General Instrument is the manufacturer we have bought from. It may be possible to tune yours in to receive the parliamentary channel.

Mr Curling: It seems to me that what we're discussing, if you have any user fees, you have access to this cable, to this channel. Do you see the possibility of one day -- right now, underneath our desks there are so many papers and what have you -- having a monitor one day at the computer for access to Hansard, access to reports, on the desks of members of the House? That itself could eliminate a whole bunch of things and the recall would be just wonderful. Do you see that coming soon? The Clerk seems to have an answer.

Mr Claude L. DesRosiers (Clerk of the House): The ball on that one is more in your court I think. When we talk technology -- and I'm not a technological expert by any means -- everything is possible, Mr Curling, but it's a question of whether the board wants to make this accessible. Do the members want this to happen in the chamber, because it would change the nature of the chamber quite a lot.

What you're talking about is a very wide issue and we have gone a way down that road, in the sense that we do produce less paper than we used to in our parliamentary documents. We print fewer copies of Hansard every day than we used to. We print fewer copies of the order paper, fewer copies of the votes and proceedings, and so on. But we still have maintained the standing orders, which are very much present in everybody's minds these days.

Insist that the Clerk of the House deposit on your desk every day a copy of Hansard and a copy of the order paper and a copy of the votes and proceedings. Unless that is studied by a parliamentary committee and the parliamentary committee decided to change that way of doing things, it's not something that we can undertake on our own, but it's something that's possible.

Mr McLean: The new satellite system that's going to be coming in, where they're trying to take over from cable somehow, or you're going to be able to get all the cable channels -- I'd like some clarification on that. Is that the way it's going to be? If I lived in rural Ontario or in a little village that doesn't have cable, would I be able to buy into this new cable satellite system?

Mr Somerville: Again, this is almost like Mr Curling's touching on the future. The future will be, for people who don't have cable, you will be able to get your television signal there, your telephone line, and the parliamentary channel is part of it. A test is being done in London, Ontario, where we are being delivered into people's homes via the telephone line and seemingly the pictures are wonderful. I haven't seen them but you just have a black box on your telephone and the black box feeds your television set and, rather than using cable, using the telephone lines. That will be the future, as you've probably read in the papers. The telephone companies are now getting into the cable business and into the television business, so in the future you will receive it through your telephone line.

Mr McLean: Whose experiment is this?

Mr Somerville: It's Bell Canada's experiment. I can't remember the number of homes in London, Ontario, but it's a fair number where they're experimenting with this system.


Mr McLean: So if I lived in rural Ontario and don't have access to cable --

Mr Somerville: In the future you'll get it via telephone.

Mr McLean: Pay-per-view or something, isn't it?

Mr Somerville: Yes, you'll be able to get everything, including a computer link, via your telephone line.

Mr McLean: Including Queen's Park.

Mr Somerville: Yes.

Mr DesRosiers: On this point, just to make things clear, what Bill's directorate is charged with is producing an image and then making it available. We pay to give it to a satellite company which beams it up there, but that's as far as we go. In order to go further, it would be a very expensive proposition, and most parliaments that do television are content with doing that. Some don't even go that far. For example, in Quebec City all they do is produce the signal and they say, if the population wants it, there must be a company out there who'll pay to take it, and they find someone. So they don't even pay the amount of money that our budget pays for to beam it out on a satellite, but there are a few companies that take it on cable and there's another company that takes it on satellite.

We pay. To do more than that right now would just be too expensive, and the board has decided, but if you want to talk to your board members and maybe change this, this all can be done. But what Bill is talking about is, in the future there will be more and more possibilities out there to make it easier for companies to take our signal. It's available. Any company that wanted to take our signal from us at no cost to us, be my guest. The signal is there. We produce it; do with it what you want. It is not for me to say, but their preoccupation is that they want to sell it somehow. They want to make money. It's mostly people in business and they want to make money and their judgement is that they're not going to make a lot of money on distributing this service.

Sometimes it's worth the while of a businessman to distribute something that they're not making money directly on if it's tagged along with a package of other things that they are making money on, but this is the future. Right now we're in a situation where we're beaming this thing out on satellite, and it's saving the assembly close to a million dollars a year with this new system.

It's not really changing Mr Fox's life much because it was cable before, and it's still cable. To go to the technology that Mr Fox and other people in the province have decided to go to would be a much more expensive proposition, which the board is not ready to go into yet, and we're hoping that the future will bring us -- but there are, what Bill was saying and he's going to talk to you privately, probably ways that people in your situation can go about ensuring, at a cost of their own right now, that they get the signal.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Somerville. If there are no other questions, I am very pleased with your presentation.


The Chair: The next order of business is the semiannual review of the Clerk of the House, Mr DesRosiers.

Mr Claude L. DesRosiers (Clerk of the House): It's a pleasure to be here and I thank you for inviting me. The term "semiannual" is used loosely, because I was checking in my files here and I said, "I don't think I've appeared before these people for a long time." Actually, the last time I appeared in this capacity was on June 16, 1993; so it's been a little while.

I'll use this occasion, but I have appeared before this committee on another subject recently, in the last year and a half anyway, and that was on security in this Parliament. We had a long in camera session when this committee was considering the question of security which had been sent to it by then-Speaker McLean. It produced a report which was adopted by the House and which is now being implemented by the Speaker and by the Sergeant at Arms and so on, and I believe the Sergeant at Arms appeared before you recently and explained at what point this is. I'll be speaking towards security myself in a little while because it's something that's very dear to my heart.

I'm going to start by briefing you on what I do here generally: who I report to and what I do. I've been here for 11 years. Actually, the interview took place in the room next door on September 5, 1986, so it's close to 11 years. There was a panel of members. It was a minority government. It was this standing committee that interviewed me, and Speaker Edighoffer had joined it to interview the various candidates. So I was interviewed and I was fortunate enough that they offered me a job. I must say I haven't regretted it at all. I was employed by the House of Commons at the time I came here. I came to a very different venue but a very similar one too, in a sense, and I've enjoyed every minute of it.

My job here is the same as that of clerks all over the Commonwealth. We have a dual role. The most important role is to advise the Speaker and the members on parliamentary procedure, and that happens in front of all of you in the House. My colleagues and I at the table try to help the Speaker and members who have questions of procedure. The other role is administrative. In that role it is my duty to help the Speaker run this place. It's a wonderful job, because I don't think I'd be happy with just the procedural side and I don't think I'd be happy with just the administrative side.

Clerks learn this on the job. You learn to become superspecialized in parliamentary procedure, and at the same time it's very important to familiarize yourself with parliamentary administration, which is a very different kind of administration from even general public administration. It's certainly not private administration and it's not pure public administration either. It's very different.

In that role I meet with the Speaker regularly, I advise the Board of Internal Economy and I chair a committee which is called the management advisory committee, referred to in short as the MAC. It is comprised of the Speaker ex officio, the director of the library, the controller, the Sergeant at Arms, the director of legislative services and the executive director of building services. Those five people sit with me on MAC and we do what I call the day-to-day administration of the assembly, guided by the policy that is adopted by the Board of Internal Economy. That's the way it works. I am here to serve you.

I don't know if you're familiar with our mission statement, but I have been working very hard and diligently to make sure that staff around here understand that the members are not here because of the staff but the staff are here because of the members. Anything we can do to help you, from anyone -- members always like to know that the Clerk is nearby because they can come to the table and say, "Mr Clerk, this is not going well." I must say, this is fine. This is the way it should be. If you have a problem, you can let me know directly. You don't have to phone somebody in some office someplace. I'll make sure it happens. That's my job.

I have various policy fields that interest me more than others. Of course the procedural one is a constantly important one. On the administrative side, I just might bring you up to date on a few of the programs that have been more time-consuming than others.


The first one I would refer to is restoration and renovation. When I arrived here in 1986 the roof was leaking, the stonework was literally falling on the grounds around -- it was quite dangerous -- and the windows were rattling, all this because it was a 100-year-old building which had never really been looked after. This is normal in parliaments all around the world. Parliamentarians do not relish the thought of devoting a goodly part of their budgets to an old building which is usually very expensive to maintain. But it was my duty then to try and impress on the people here, on the parliamentarians then, that something had to be done.

You've all visited my office at least once anyway. You come into it to get sworn in at the beginning of a Parliament. On the right-hand side of my office there's a gorgeous window at the end and there's a couch. So people would be seated on the couch and I'd usually sit on a straight chair opposite and I'd point downtown. Right down University Avenue there's a great big white tower which we all know is the Bank of Montreal tower. I'd say to them, "You see that tower?" "Yes, we do." "You understand that I don't know if that tower is going to be there or in what state of repair it's going to be in 500 years' time, and I really don't care. I'm sure somebody else is looking after that. But it's my job to try and impress upon you that this building has to be here in 500 years' time and it has to be a living building. It can't be turned into a museum."

Some parliaments are turned into museums. They're awful places. They're wonderful as museums, but they're not very good as parliaments. The trick with a parliamentary building, even though it's 100 years old -- this is another little bugaboo of mine -- 100 years old is not necessarily old. It's old for a lot of Canadians, but we live in a very young country and it's not very old for other people around the world where some of their buildings are 300 years and 400 years old.

This building has to be maintained in a way that it will continue to be a living place. We have to preserve its general character, but we have to keep on improving it in a technological sense so that members can have computers and members can have the latest technological aids at their fingertips. That's the challenge that's involved.

I must say it did not take a lot of convincing. Members saw the light and very soon a special committee of members was created under the leadership, first of all, of Speaker Edighoffer, followed by Speaker Warner, and a master plan was produced. Any of you who haven't seen this master plan, it's a master plan that's been presented by the committee, it's been adopted, and it's our roadmap. It's what we follow in order to make sure that this building is kept up.

Then it was decided, and the right decision was taken, that the first thing to do was to secure the outside. The inside could wait, but the outside had to be done. That was a $30-million project that came in under budget at $28 million, so we now have a 100-year-old building in which the stonework is perfect. An added touch to the stonework is that when we went out to try and get people to do the stonework, we found that no one in Canada could do it. So an added benefit to this program was that we imported people from Scotland who came and taught some of our people at one of our community colleges how to do this. They did the work as well, but they also taught apprentices how to do this. So we now have people in Canada who can do stonework. That was an added benefit to the program.

About half the windows, I would say, have been replaced. The others have been repaired. So the exterior is secure and slowly we're proceeding towards the inside. Because of the fiscal realities of the province and so on, the board has decided that what is to proceed now is the essential things.

What we're doing right now is what we refer to as life and fire items that have been recommended by the fire department and so on. Presently we're in the process of putting in fire escapes through the chamber. The chamber is the most important part of this building and it's a fire trap. It's literally a fire trap. Think of where you sit in the chamber and how you get out. Probably the closest way is through that front door, through the glass doors at the entrance. Just imagine, if the House is full, the funnel of people trying to get out of there in an emergency. Also, it's a worse fire trap for the people in the press gallery and so on. So that is being attended to and that is what will proceed for the coming year.

The board will be considering at its next meeting -- because the board is still studying the 1997-98 estimates. In the 1997-98 estimates there's a proposal as well and it will be for the board to decide. There's a part of the fifth floor here which has been disaffected for the last -- Barbara Speakman could give me the exact time, but let's say for the last 15 or 20 years it has been disaffected. I might encourage the Chair, if you want to go on a tour -- it's a very inexpensive tour -- I'm sure someone would be more than happy to take you up to the fifth floor and show you what it looks like, because I think one of the things that members should be familiar with is the building. It's quite a vast expanse of space up there that's totally unused.

A budget has been prepared. This is all in the master plan, but we've taken from the master plan and this year a budget has been prepared for the board and they will be deciding whether or not it's wise to proceed this year, but it's something that will happen. Another thing that would have to be decided once, if ever, it's done, is who goes there.

Staff is presently going to be working and the next two years will be occupied, I think, very closely with looking at this building for what it will look like, to prepare it for what it will look like after the next election. As you know, we're going from 130 members to 103 members after the next election and therefore a possibility will exist probably to have all of the members come into the building. A possibility may exist to break from the policy that has existed up till now that a parliamentary assistant, once he or she is appointed parliamentary assistant, loses his or her office in the building and has to make do with a ministry building. Maybe room can be -- a lot of things, and we're hoping that the fifth floor will be finished for that time. But that gives us two or three years to work with and hopefully we can do that.

Another possibility would be to put the press up there. If the press were to go to the fifth floor, then that would vacate a whole bunch of prime office space for members. But these are all possibilities and the board will be considering this and members will be consulted on how that happens.

That's the restoration-renovation project. The total cost of making this place like new in all its aspects is about $100 million. I would say that first project with the exterior was $30 million and we've spent some moneys -- I would say we're still talking about $60 million left. Really there's no rush because, as I said, the exterior is secure, the roof doesn't leak any more and it's not deteriorating. That's the benefit there.

I'm going back a few years here, but I think it's important to spell this out. One of the main things that has really been preoccupying me and I'm very happy with this, is the security issue. Speaker McLean will know, as did other Speakers. My first day on the job here, the first parade I was in in 1986, I think we left from this room, there was Speaker Edighoffer and Tom Stelling, whom you all know. A gentleman showed up, walked in the door here and he had a gun on his side. I said, "What's that?" He said he was Corporal So-and-so and he was going to lead the parade. I'd never seen a gun in a Parliament before, so I was a bit surprised. It was a long process. Shortly after, I said to Speaker Edighoffer, "Why is the OPP here?" He said, "They've always been here." I said: "Where's the piece of paper? Where's the contract?" There was none.

These things take time and so finally, through discussions and so on, Speaker Warner was able to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the then Solicitor General to make sure that we were paying for the service and we knew what we were paying for and also to permit the Speaker, because the Legislative Assembly Act says the Speaker is the person responsible for security. Therefore, it was important that the Speaker try and do something about security.


We all understand that security is not an exact science and, in most cases, all you can do is do the best you can to try and prevent some unfortunate incident from happening. But at least the Speaker has to be able to demonstrate that he has done that. Up until the mid-1980s, I don't think Speakers were in a position to do that. We've remedied that. This committee has studied security at the request of then Speaker McLean. It produced an excellent report; that report has been adopted by the House. We've hired a new Sergeant at Arms. He reported to you a while back and he's in the process -- this will not be a costly exercise because basically the same budget we had before will be used now.

The only main difference is that the Speaker, when he now gives an order relating to security, will have employees reporting directly to him on security matters, and that will be the main thing. One of the recommendations of this committee was to create a security committee to advise the Speaker on security and, therefore, members will have an input in that.

Gentlemen, I'm going to stop here. I could go on to different programs, but I don't want to bore you. I'll just turn it over to questions now and that will bring up other subjects, I'm sure.

Mr Curling: Relating to the interior of the office, in my office, for instance, over the years the air-conditioning has just been atrocious. With the kind of equipment that is put in there, each time I'm having a meeting, I have to turn the sucker off because it's competing with all the debate. Is anything being done about updating all of that? Because year by year by year we have the same thing?

Mr DesRosiers: There hasn't been anything directly. I know of what you speak because I have the same equipment in my office, which is turned off 99% of the time. I'd rather be very warm than have that noise going on all the time; it's awful.

There is better equipment on the market now. You know the size of these rooms. They're very big rooms, and even if your office is not as big a room as this, you've got a high ceiling and it's not an easy room to climatize. But there is better equipment. We've been experimenting with two units in the boardroom. In the Speaker's boardroom, there are two very quiet units that we've experimented with. They're expensive, but those are units that could be used to replace units in members' offices. The other alternative, of course, is not a perfect one either. A lot of members have window units, but that has the unfortunate consequence of defacing the building. We'd rather you be comfortable and the building be ugly, so those are provided.

But the answer of course is what's happened to this room, for example. The answer is to install air-conditioning in the building. That is part of the $100-million project. Eventually it'll happen; I mean eventually it'll happen.

Mr Silipo: We have to get re-elected another five times.

Mr DesRosiers: But in the meantime we are starting to look at new equipment to replace the equipment that you have right now.

Mr Curling: Yes. I know when you came in 1986 and I saw this restructuring coming on, I said to myself, as Mr Silipo said, I wonder if I get re-elected if I'm going to enjoy some of this wonderful building itself, and when it came and they didn't finish and the next election came around, I was worried again that maybe they were going to fix it up for somebody else. I'm enjoying the outside, but inside I'm not quite yet enjoying it. The air system inside is not really all that great. Sometimes I say to myself, "Turn the air-conditioner off," but the air system really gives me a hell of a headache afterwards.

But one quick other question I'd ask -- some people are not quite happy about that new uniform that you have, the new uniform for the pages. Who designed that?

Mr DesRosiers: Oh, yes. You're talking about the ushers?

Mr Curling: Yes.

Mr DesRosiers: Listen, I asked the same question. The main part of the uniform you're referring to, I guess, is the tie that everybody wears.

Mr Silipo: It's a nice tie.

Mr DesRosiers: I think the tie was chosen by Mrs Pat Farmer, who's the assistant person in charge of the pages.

Mr Silipo: She has good taste.

Mr DesRosiers: I was taught by my mother very early on not to criticize other people's taste and there you are. If someone had asked me to choose the tie, I would have refused. I was happy that somebody took that on, and we'll see.

Mr Tilson: I have a statement and then a question. The statement has to do with security. I know there have been committees. I think I substituted for someone two or three years ago on a committee, and I'm sure there have been ongoing committees for years and I know it's an ongoing issue. Certain types of security can be very costly. I guess in the little bit of experience I've had, having been to Ottawa and, as you know, I was over in London, England, and I looked at the security there. I haven't been to Quebec City, but I hear of what they have there and of course it took a terrible incident to develop security in Quebec City.

In my view -- I'm just adding to the list because I know you're told all the time -- security here is terrible. Even such simple things as having people for crowd control, having people enter by one door, I know there's all that fear of having this as an open society and I know these debates go on and on and there are arguments for and against, but I hope we're not waiting for an incident to happen with staff or with members before we do something. Having said that, I know that these types of statements have been made many times by others and I'm just adding to the list.

The question I have for you has to do with the running of this place. You alluded to the fact that there's going to be a reduction of members of this Legislature after the next election. I'm trying not to get political, but there are facts going on and the facts are that ministries have reduced their budgets substantially, as low as 30% up for the providing of services, doing things differently, perhaps providing less service. Businesses are doing things differently. I don't want to provoke my friends on the other side, but these are facts that are going on. Restructuring is going on, not just in governments but in all kinds of governments, in all political parties and business.

My question is whether you can provide us with information alluding to the fact that we are going to have 27 fewer members and alluding to the fact that, in my view at least -- perhaps not in others -- this place cries out for restructuring.

Mr DesRosiers: That's an excellent question. I'll just address very, very briefly your statement on security. I want to reassure you that the Speaker is looking at that. We're very, very close to presenting to the Speaker a policy that will then, if the Speaker agrees, go to the security committee, which will deal with access to this place. As you know, there is no perfect security system. You're right, the system in Quebec City is an extremely tight one. The system in Ottawa is sort of middle of the road and we're bottom of the road. I'm hoping you will see that the Speaker will be adjusting the system to the middle of the road very quickly. I'm hoping to see those things happen very soon, and I'm pretty confident that they will.

To address your other point, last year the Board of Internal Economy asked -- well, let me preface this. The budget of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario I separate into three.

There's a top section, which comes under my direction, which we refer to as the administrative part, the Office of the Assembly, and I'll just throw out the figure $40 million. It is or was roughly around $40 million. Then there's another section which deals directly with the members. Those are the caucus expenditures, those are your global budgets, your salaries and all that. That's roughly another $40 million.

Then there's a third section that deals with the commissions, which have been proliferating in the last 10 years, but they're there. The Integrity Commissioner, the auditor, the Ombudsman, the Commission on Election Finances, Elections Ontario office, all those good people fall into that third part of the budget of the Office of the Assembly.


I will address your question dealing only with that top part, for which I'm directly responsible.

Last year, the board asked for a 20% cut. We gave them about a 33% cut in money. I would say we had about 380 people working, reporting to me, and there are less than 340 left. Make that calculation; that's a good drop. That's not to say that that's the end of the picture. The board has asked for another 5% this year, 1997-98, and we will giving the board 5% because restructuring is continuing.

We're also trying to effect savings. As Bill was saying earlier on, through technological means we'll be saving roughly $1 million this year -- maybe not totally this year because it came into effect at the beginning of July, so we won't be able to recuperate the full $900,000. Five per cent is $1.624 million, I think. So we will be effecting a further reduction this year of $1.624 million.

Not to say that we're going to stop there. We're constantly looking at efficiencies, we're constantly restructuring, and I have put on the order paper for the management advisory committee the creation of a committee which will be formed to look at the impact of the reduction of members.

I agree with you. Off the top of your head you say, "Well, reducing 27 members has to mean a reduction of work," and I guess that's true, although sometimes it's not as evident as it might seem because sometimes you need the same amount of people in certain tasks for 103 members as you would need for 130 members. But we will be looking at that and we will be coming forward with further efficiencies, I'm sure.

Mr Tilson: Are you having discussions or reporting to the Board of Internal Economy on those topics?

Mr DesRosiers: That's correct.

Mr Ron Johnson (Brantford): My question is nowhere near as significant as Mr Tilson's, but it's more, like I said, a need to satisfy curiosity. You mentioned earlier the fifth floor. You were talking about the fifth floor and possible future renovations. I had the opportunity about a year ago, I guess, to tour the fifth floor. I was up there and I was amazed at all the stuff that was up there. You had everything from old furniture to old pictures. In fact I found one up there, a 1924 picture of the Legislature, and I hung it in my office. I don't know if I was supposed to do that or not, but I did. But I'm just curious, I suppose. Is there an inventory of all of that?

Mr DesRosiers: Yes, there is.

Mr Ron Johnson: So I'm going to get caught.

Mr DesRosiers: Not for the picture, I'm sure, no.

Mr Ron Johnson: Some of it may have significant historical significance, I don't know, but what do you do with all of that stuff there? I guess the other question is, whatever is up there that is unusable or is defined as junk, why is it still there? That would be another question.

Mr DesRosiers: That's a good question. Let me go back a bit and just try and illustrate it. Eleven years ago, this building was run very differently. That was the times then. The times have changed. The Clerk had very little to say in what went up there. A lot of it probably ended up there because someone in the government said, "Let's put it up there." But that's not how parliaments -- and members realize that things have changed and so on -- that's not necessarily how parliaments are run.

The furniture up there right now, to the best of my knowledge, is inventoried. We know what's up there. What's going to happen to that furniture will come into the plan for whatever happens to the space. I'm sure that a lot of solutions can be accommodated. You see, this is where it becomes interesting. If you want to make interests knows as to the future of that furniture, I mean if you, on touring that, identified pieces of furniture and you say, "Oh, that's neat and maybe it would be nice in the corner of my office or something," systems can be put in place for that to happen.

Mr Ron Johnson: I can't just go up there in the middle of the night and take it.

Mr DesRosiers: I don't think so. The reason it's up there is probably it was felt by people at the time, "This isn't useful to me." That's the nature of changes in time and history; what was not useful to someone 20 years ago, when it bounced up there, might be found to be useful to someone today. Those things can happen.

Mr Curling: I just want to raise two points, one that Mr Tilson put forward so well and his concern has been expressed. I'd like to express some concern too, because although we want the security of this building maintained, I think I've seen a bit of improvement in the way things are. There's a balance you're trying to obtain of how people come into this building. At times someone would arrive at my door upstairs and I wondered how the dickens they got through.

In Speaker McLean's time you were looking at the panic button stuff. I always wondered how they would have a panic button that I could reach. How am I going to get to it? But some improvements have been done in that respect.

I think we have to keep monitoring that very closely -- and I say that with all the delicacy that is required to do so -- because some of us have portfolios, either critic or ministry, that attract certain individuals who are emotionally charged at times. Sometimes they're moved that way. I had human rights for a long time and I was quite concerned about people who came in to see me. I just want to say that one has to continue monitoring that aspect of it, who comes in. It has been improved, but I still feel something more could be done. I'm not accusing anyone; I'm just saying it's a difficult thing to do.

On the personnel part of the security, there are individuals I know have worked with us a long time and have been on a different kind of contractual arrangement and know the place. Even when the changeover came the other day, it was quite a vast difference. I hope some of those individuals are around who contribute to good security because their knowledge and intimacy of those around us help. I hope we don't lose them quickly just for change's sake and because of contractual arrangements that are different, the cost-saving factor. I hope we are sensitive about that.

The last point I want to make, and maybe these are more comments than anything else, is access to the chamber. Often individuals who come to the chamber -- sometimes we're so strict in what we do. Just recently some folks were here; you must have seen them. They were martial arts people from England. They had come in but they were caught at a peculiar time. They wanted to watch the Legislature and they got 20 minutes to watch it, but somehow they were caught up in that warp of questioning the Speaker's decisions, so they didn't get to see very much. However, the place was empty when they had to leave in 20 minutes. When I asked the usher, "Why can't they stay?" he said, "Their time is up."

Sometimes no discretion is used, because people are lining up outside, the place is empty and the flow is so slow, but it causes so much friction inside the House, unnecessarily. Who gets the charge of that is the Speaker, saying, "Why are you holding things up when hundreds are out there wanting to come in?" Or some people are asked to leave when they would like to stay a little longer. I wonder if anything could be done about that. It sounds rather simple, but so many people call me about that.

One quick other thing too is the utilization of the chamber, the Parliament Building itself, by the public. I'll give you an example, because it's easier for me to explain that. I know that Black History Month was a time when they wanted to use the Parliament Building to have displays. Are there any rules or conditions on how that can be used, in other words, if Black History Month is trying to put pictures on display in this place?

I just want to make those comments. If there's anything in there you can comment on, I'd appreciate it.


Mr DesRosiers: The point you raise about use of the galleries is a very tricky one; it's not an easy one to solve. The group of people who have responsibility for that is the interparliamentary relations group. They get requests from school groups and so on and they try to organize it so that people come in. What they have done is they have devised a tour. The tour is split up into so many time sectors, so they try and make it work.

I noticed the group you were talking about from England the other day and I didn't know that problem had arisen. But they probably booked a tour. The tour is like any system: you're 10 minutes here, 20 minutes there. I quite agree with you, that because the gallery was empty on that day and because there was nobody waiting to come in and replace them in their seats, they should have been able to express that view and say, "We want to stay an extra 20 minutes." That should have been able to happen. Why it didn't, I don't know. It might have been an error in communication of some kind. But that should be able to happen.

The other point you raise, that you say ends up having to be solved by the Speaker, and that's not fair -- and it's true it's not fair. The other day, to use an example that happened last week, it was brought to the Speaker's attention that the public gallery on the right-hand side of the Speaker was empty, but it was known that there were a lot of people lining up to get in. That's a fact. The Speaker said: "Yes, that's fine. The gallery will fill up, but it takes time." If people wanted to come to attend the House at 1:30 and wanted to start being registered at 1 o'clock, they'd be there for 1:30, but just so many things are possible to keep the balance between security and open attendance.

The Speaker said to the member complaining: "Wait a minute. I'm certain the gallery will fill up," and that's exactly what happened. It takes a bit of time sometimes for the process to happen, and that's part of the process that has been addressed by other members.

Ten years ago that would not have happened, because there was freer access. But the members have decided that there should not be as free access, that we should give out cards, that we should process people as they're coming in -- it's an awful word; I hate using it -- know where they're going in the building and so on. When people want to go to the gallery -- that takes 20 seconds per person, and when 100 people want to get in, it takes the time it takes. That's the unfortunate side.

It's not as if you're talking about things we didn't fully realize. We realized them. I appreciate your bringing it up, because it always helps to stimulate us to try and perfect the system, which is what we're here for. Anything we can do to help, we will. But that is what happened the other day.

One more point: As to the last point you brought up, "Are there rules regarding the use of the building?" yes, there are rules regarding the use of the building. Those rules were adopted quite a while ago. I think the latest amendment to those rules would have been in 1994, if memory serves me. They were adopted by the Board of Internal Economy. They generally dictate how the building can be used. The Speaker is charged with applying those rules. When a request arrives it is usually handled according to those rules, and in any cases where the people who are responsible for applying those rules have any problems at all, they will address those questions to the Speaker.

Mr Fox: I agree that there have been some changes made in security here since I came to this building. You talk about putting people through the process. I firmly believe in that, because there is a safety factor here for the building and the people who work here. I feel maybe we could do a little more on it yet to tighten up security in the building because, being on the fourth floor myself, I have questioned people who were roaming around up there, appearing as though they didn't know where they were going.

Mr Curling: Lost Liberals.

Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): No, they stay on the third floor.

Mr Fox: They stay on the third floor. We're all right there.

I think that's an issue we could spend a little more time on, and perhaps discuss it. And really, the mandate of that comes more under the Sergeant at Arms than you?

Mr DesRosiers: The Sergeant at Arms reports to me, so you can ask me the question. That's fine.

I'll be very clear in where we're going with this. My dates might be a bit off, but I think shortly before the end of the calendar year 1996, the House adopted a report that was prepared by this committee. That made it law, in effect.

It's an excellent report; I forget how many points. The first two or three items in that report have been put in place. The first one was to form a security advisory committee to advise the Speaker. That was put into place. The second one was to hire a sergeant. The third one was to ask the sergeant to prepare a plan and to move the OPP out.

What has happened so far is this: You all know the sergeant was hired; he came on board and prepared a plan and so on. It was not an easy thing. On August 1 of this year, ahead of schedule, the OPP left. There's no longer an OPP officer in here, except for the OPP officers who come in to provide security to the Premier and to the Lieutenant Governor. That's a separate detail; they have nothing to do with us. They walk in with the Premier, and that's it.

As far as securing the building, the OPP left. They left only after we had gone through an exercise where we had advised all the people working here that we were going to do this, that they were all in effect going to lose their jobs, but that we would be hiring. So they were all given notice, but it wasn't a very scary notice, because these are people who work for the Solicitor General, and it was understood that if they didn't get a job with us, they would continue to hold a job with the government, which is what happened.

The complement -- the sergeant could be more precise with the numbers here -- is in the 40s. We chose 40 to 50 people, who are now our own security people. We've chosen them exclusively from that list of people, referring to what Mr Curling was saying earlier, who worked here before, people who have experience with the building but who were desirous of working for the Speaker -- not working for the commissioner of the OPP any more, but working directly for the Speaker. That happened before August 1.

On August 1, the changeover took place. The OPP left and the sergeant took full control of the building without the benefit of the OPP, using the people he had just hired.

The next step is, as I said, the sergeant will be coming to me, hopefully by the end of this week, at the latest by the middle of next week, with a plan. He has been studying a proposal, what I refer to as the access proposal to the building: what doors will be open to the public, what doors will be open to everybody, what doors will be limited to members and staff and so on. That plan will be prepared and he will give it to me.

I will study it with him. I will maybe recommend some changes to him; I don't know. I will at that point bring in Deborah Deller, who is my assistant, and we will look at it. When we're satisfied, we will then go and see the Speaker with it, because it's his plan. We're preparing it for him. Then the Speaker will study it, and he will probably want to make some changes.

Then he will take that plan and present it to the advisory security committee, to seek their advice on what the plan should contain. Then it's up to him -- the security committee won't get to approve this plan, but the Speaker will seek the advice of the security committee, and every party has a member on the committee. From memory, I think for the Liberals it's Mr Morin, for the Conservatives it's Mrs Marland and for the NDP it's Mr Christopherson. They will look at this plan, they will make suggestions to the Speaker, and then the Speaker will implement it.


Once the Speaker implements that -- and it shouldn't be very long -- you will see major changes. You will see what I have been asking for all along. Because all along we've had people in the building doing security, but we haven't asked them to do anything. We have people right now at every door, but they aren't charged with any specific duty as far as access of the building is concerned, as far as challenging people, "Where are you going," or "What are you doing here?"

Mr Baird: They do to me.

Mr DesRosiers: Because you look so young, Mr Baird.

That will come into effect rather shortly. Your caucuses will all be advised well in advance of what it's going to contain. That is the next step.

The next step after that is to look at access, how this place is controlled. If you visit Ottawa for the weekend and you have some family and friends and you say, "While we're here, let's go visit Parliament," you will be directed to a door underneath the Peace Tower. You might have to line up there.

Mr Ron Johnson: I was there Tuesday; it's the same process.

Mr DesRosiers: Yes. You will go through a metal detector. You will have to. You won't get in the building unless you go through this thing. I'm not saying our plan will have those details; I'm just saying a plan is being prepared. The Sergeant at Arms has been directed by the Speaker to prepare a plan -- he will be producing that shortly -- which will direct how people come and out of this building.

In most Parliaments in the world -- the Speaker and I were visiting Ottawa in February of last year, on the day that an incident you've all read about happened. We were in the building looking at security while this man decided he was going to try to drive up to the front door of Parliament in his Jeep. When we came out of the building around 11:30, a bunch of police were all over the place and the wreckage of this Jeep was at the front door.

The Parliament Buildings in Ottawa are under major repair right now; on the best of days it's not an easy thing to get up to the front door in a Jeep. By the time he got up the steps, all his tires were completely shot. But can you imagine trying to ram a Jeep up the front doors here, how easy an operation that would be? Even I could attempt that, I think.

The building has to be looked at, it has to be addressed, and under the direction given by this committee in the report that was adopted by the House, the Speaker will be looking at it.

Mr Peter L. Preston (Brant-Haldimand): The Jeep wouldn't pass a metal detector, though.

Mr DesRosiers: Well, a big metal detector with a --

Mr Fox: Do you believe we can do all this with the cost savings and provide a better service?

Mr DesRosiers: I sure do. We're not talking about expensive things here. To restrict doors for people is not expensive. It doesn't cost a penny. We're not hiring any more people than we had; we're just going to direct them to do things.

I don't have it with me, but you know that staff all have ID cards. That system is in place. It's already paid for. We're not talking about any new equipment. What the Speaker is going to do is go under the existing budget. There might be some equipment that will have to be purchased, but it will be under the existing budget.

Mr Baird: Thank you very much, sir, for your time this afternoon. I had a question for you. It may be a difficult one to answer, and you could certainly go back if you had any thoughts after the fact. If I had a constituent who called me and said, "John, I'd like to bring in a hundred of my friends and cause a disturbance in the gallery, forcing us to get kicked out. Would I be allowed to hold a media scrum in the hallway after the security removed us from the chamber?" would I be able to tell him yes, he could?

Mr DesRosiers: The policy in this building is that demonstrations inside the building are prohibited. I will leave it at that.

Mr Baird: If, though, people were to plan purposely to bring in a crowd of 100 people to undertake what some might call an orchestrated protest in the gallery --

Mr DesRosiers: Mr Baird, I will just go back to the general policy that's being put in place here. What is going to happen in the next couple of weeks is that the Speaker will be looking at an access policy which will cover all these points.

Mr Baird: Would it specifically cover that point? I think there's some concern that people deliberately come into the chamber to cause a disturbance and then they're escorted out. On occasion the Speaker has even asked -- they've been arrested in the gallery and then they go right out into the hall and hold a media scrum on our facilities. I guess this causes concern to a number of members.

Mr DesRosiers: What is about to change in this building is that the Speaker, for the first time in the history of the Ontario Parliament, is about to gain complete control over security, which he has never had before.

I must say that the proposition you're putting forward to me is hypothetical. I will say to you that the proposition you're presenting is not a very good one. Members should not be encouraging demonstrations in the galleries.

I'll tell you this incident that happened a number of years ago; it must have been in 1988 or 1989. It's probably the moment I've been the most scared in the House. There was a group of demonstrators that filtered into the building and assembled, because there was no policy, and they just assembled. They didn't march in en masse; they just assembled. They assembled in front of the front doors of the chamber. There must have been about 200 of them.

At that time, repairs to that level had not been done. There had been a fire here, as you know, a good while back, so part of the beams were not very structurally sound. We had found this out as a part of a study that we had done looking into the building, so this had been identified as something to do.

All of a sudden we found ourselves with about 200 people outside the front door yelling and screaming. Security-wise, all that was defending the chamber was a very thin cordon of security officers and OPP officers. What do you do? Somebody is going to pull a gun and say, "Don't step forward; I'm going to shoot." That's not an answer, either. What defused the bomb then was that a very senior member of the House left the House, went to talk to these people and was successful in dispersing them.

Demonstrations inside the building are forbidden. As I said, the Speaker will now be in a position, as he wasn't before -- the Speaker could direct before all he or she wanted. I think I will restrain myself here, because I went into this very, very deeply when I appeared before this committee in camera a year back, as this committee was preparing its report. I don't think I want to go any further. The Speaker very shortly will have put into place a plan for access of this building which will address all of those points.

Mr Baird: I could look, though, for this narrow point because it's not an issue so much of security but where one particular individual or group of individuals would seek to deliberately break the rules of the chamber and then conveniently have preprinted and photocopied press releases and would sit for quite some period of time in the hallways after they've caused a disturbance and the Speaker has ordered them removed from the chamber. They would then want to take advantage of the opportunity to undertake a communications strategy on the premises, in fact right outside the chamber that they've just been kicked out of. I just wanted to clarify if we would be able to see that --

Mr DesRosiers: The Speaker will be in a position to rule on that.

Mr Baird: And you would expect that would be a necessary part of a security strategy.

Mr DesRosiers: Absolutely. Access and use of this building, absolutely, is part of this strategy.


Mr McLean: Can I have a supplementary on that? If individuals get kicked out three times in a row, is there going to be a provision in what the Speaker can order to be done? Is there going to be a charge? Can they be charged? Can they be fined? Is that going to be something that's probably going to be within -- give him the authority to do, or the head of security is the one who should have the authority.

Mr DesRosiers: Security will have that authority, if a law has been broken. This is a Parliament and so there's a judgement to be made, but the Speaker is there to be consulted on these things and he will be.

Mr Tilson: I'd like to comment a bit about how you foresee the improvement of security to committees can be made, both here in this building and also when we travel.

I haven't personally experienced too many difficulties. I think the first occasion actually was with Mr Curling. There was an incident when sitting on a committee. A former government was implementing employment equity and there were some pretty extreme groups out there that were kind of scary. The minister's life was threatened. There were some very extreme groups that were against non-white people, they were against women, the groups that were referred to in employment equity. In fact, I must say at one point I didn't feel too secure. I was sitting beside Mrs Witmer on one side and Mr Curling on the other side.

Mr Curling: You had two minorities there.

Mr Tilson: It's improper of me to make light of it because it was a scary thing for all members of the committee. Mr Curling may remember, someone came into the committee and told us about security, which was essentially "Hit the floor," if some wacko comes into the committee room.

I haven't heard of too much lately, in the last couple of years, but there can be and will be incidents here. Of course, in this building there is more opportunity for security because you have the security here, but when we go out I guess all the Chairs can do is order police to come. But I must say, in that one incident, about which Mr Curling may or may not feel the same way I did, as a member of this place, I didn't feel that secure.

Mr DesRosiers: Mr Tilson, you're impressing upon me something that I believe firmly in. This place needs more security and it needs to be addressed more directly.

What I will suggest to the Clerk of Committees, because I understand the Chairs of committees meet regularly and so on, is that at the next meeting -- and maybe that meeting can be sooner rather than later -- the Sergeant at Arms be invited so you can specifically discuss security among yourselves and come to some understanding.

You're right, in this building, as things stand now, there isn't a lot of security. So if somebody shows up and walks in through here, as happened to you -- it was a very unpleasant surprise to you, I'm sure, and I think you did the right thing. You recessed the committee and the person was taken care of, I trust, and so on. I think committee Chairs should discuss this with the sergeant to make sure that there is a plan, that the committee rooms here are looked after security-wise and that we can be of as much help as we can.

On the road, of course, our security forces here have no authority. We have no provisions to, for example, say to the sergeant: "Committee X is going to North Bay next week. Could you send two officers with them?" That's just not done. First of all, we couldn't move into an area like that which is already under the jurisdiction of the North Bay police. It doesn't work that way.

The sergeant probably has some good ideas about how to communicate with local police forces and so on. I'll probably get a ribbing from Deborah Deller when I get back and she has listened to me, because this is something I'm not completely up on, but I'm sure that he would have some good ideas on how to do this and probably the committee clerks have very good ideas already how to do this. Maybe these are things that should be planned and looked at more carefully.

But listen, I've been working around parliaments for 26 years and there are some scary moments. It's important that we put this out front, that we put this on the table, that we don't try and hide it on a back burner someplace, because that's what has happened too much in the past. Let's look at it right up front, let's look it in the face and let's see what we have to do.

Mr Tilson: You see, my understanding is that when you're out on the road, the clerk of the committee retains a hotel or a place and the security seems to be the hotel.

Mr DesRosiers: That's right.

Mr Tilson: If there's advance warning of a demonstration that's coming, I suppose the Chair, in his or her discretion, could order police. I don't have suggestions other than my experience as a member -- my little experience, because I haven't had a great deal of experience -- and my even shorter experience as a Chair is that I believe there are potential problems. As I said in my initial comments to you, I hope we're not waiting for an incident, because I don't know what goes on in other jurisdictions when committees travel.

Mr DesRosiers: They do, more than they do here.

Mr McLean: They get a good trip.

Mr Tilson: When I say, in my view, there is little security here in this place, there is zero to protect members and the staff and others, members of the public, from people who could come in and conceivably do anything in a committee hearing. On very contentious issues people are very emotional about many of these issues one way or the other. My comment is repeated, that whoever is investigating the issue of security for committees -- in the incident that I referred to with employment equity, I remember we had a uniformed officer outside the door and a plainclothes officer inside the door and that was our security. That seemed to make us feel a little better, I guess, but it's a problem that I see as a member -- and I can't believe other members from all three sides aren't concerned with -- when you're sitting on committees on very contentious issues.

Mr DesRosiers: I'm sure they are, and my suggestion is that it be looked at as quickly as possible. As to your wish that these things not be put on a back burner, let me assure you that they are not. It's my duty to ensure that the Speaker address this matter of security because it's for his protection, not only for your protection. My job is to look after the Speaker and the law says that he is responsible for security. It's my job to try and encourage him, and with this Speaker and with Speaker McLean, I didn't have to encourage them a lot, and all the Speakers I worked for, Speaker Warner and Speaker Edighoffer, who took the matter very seriously.

I think that Speaker Stockwell, because things happen that way, is now in a position where other Speakers might not have been, that he will be. Part of the reason he's in a position where he will be able to look after security in a much more serious way is that he has in hand the report of this committee, which had been asked for by Speaker McLean.

Mr Curling: I just want to quickly follow up on what Mr Tilson said. It's very important that not only upon the request of the committee to do that, but as part of the process that if a committee is going to travel, the security here that you started to talk about, that when you think we require security, you go through that kind of a process. You're right. Not only after the committee, but there is the fear -- many times we say, "Let's get out of town as fast as possible." Some of these committees are overnight. You decide to stay in your hotel and you don't know if you walk down the street what will happen.

This happened, of course, in employment equity, government housing; it happened in Bill 7, even in here. But I would rather hope that your report of the process would be that any committee that is going to travel goes through a process where they check security questionnaires and go through where you'll be staying, what type of issue, do you think this issue would have any sort of friction, do you suspect that, that kind of stuff.

I remember many times when I was in housing -- I remember those days -- I was rather fearful, as a minister, many times because it became so personal. It's "you people" and they face you differently. So I would like to see that. Mr Tilson raised a very important point because you feel really alone outside there afterwards.


Mr DesRosiers: As I said, I will be directing the Clerk of Committees to put this on the agenda for the next committee Chairs' meeting, and an invitation to the Sergeant would be useful, I think, so that you can discuss this. You're the people with the experience here, you've lived through this and so on. You can talk this out and decide what should be done.

Mr Curling: There's urgency because Mrs Witmer now and Mr Snobelen are really dealing with very controversial bills, I don't know when a wacko will decide that he'll take it beyond that and why we interpret our interaction as something different and then take it outside. If you could be as urgent as possible.

Mr DesRosiers: It will.

Mr McLean: It would be a good idea for this committee -- there are a lot of new members on it -- to have a tour of this building some day.

The Chair: Yes, I was just going to suggest that. If the committee's interested in that, maybe we should.

Mr McLean: The question I'm going to ask would pertain to that, because I had some Liberal members the other day wanting to know about the stairway. There's some work being done.

Mr DesRosiers: Yes, there is.

Mr McLean: Could you bring us up to date on it?

Mr DesRosiers: The project that is being undertaken right now is what's referred to as the life and fire renovation. Work is progressing right now on a new exit stairwell from the chamber. That stairwell will lead right into a part of my office, not in my immediate office but in a room not far from my office. It will provide exit from the chamber. That's what's going on right now. Money has been provided by the Board of Internal Economy and that's what's ongoing.

The board, as I said, will be looking at other projects and it has other projects on the 1997-98 estimates which it will have to make recommendations on when it meets next to look at estimates.

Mr McLean: Is it going down to the first floor?

Mr DesRosiers: It's going down to my office.

Mr McLean: And outside?

Mr DesRosiers: No, it's coming back to me now. This will go straight down to the basement. It will go through my office, not to my office, straight to the basement and then the recommendation is that it go outside, beside the front steps, on the right-hand side, on the west side of the front steps. The master plan calls for that to be a main entrance as well.

If you'll remember, Speaker McLean, the part of the master plan calls for a public entrance below the front steps with a ramp going through there. A ramp for handicapped people used to be coming right in front of my office but it was constructed in wood and it was a very steep ramp, it wasn't a practical ramp. Even experts who were very able people with wheelchairs couldn't negotiate it. It was a zigzag, it was an obstacle course. It was terrible.

Then a study was made to see if a straight ramp couldn't be made up to the front door and that straight ramp would have to start from the end of the Queen's Park Circle. It's too much of an incline. Anyway, the plan calls for the ramp to go down, on the west side of the main entrance, to the basement and would link up with the fire escape as well.

Mr McLean: Is it going up to the fifth floor? There was some talk it was going to the fifth floor.

Mr DesRosiers: You've got me there.

Mr McLean: It's Barbara who still deals with it?

Mr DesRosiers: Yes, it would be Barbara Speakman.

Mr McLean: I think some of the members should, especially on the third and fourth floors, get an update on it.

Mr DesRosiers: That's a suggestion I made to the Chair before. I encourage members to familiarize yourselves with this building and with parts of the building -- I know Mr Baird went on a tour. He can encourage this. He went on a tour a couple of weeks ago. I fully encourage the whole committee to do it because it's very helpful to get a general idea of the building and what its innate problems are.

The Chair: I would take it that the committee would like a tour. We'll arrange one as part of the agenda.

Are there any other questions for the Clerk?

Mr McLean: Maybe after we have the tour.

The Chair: A semiannual review. On that note, I'd like to thank the Clerk for coming and being very candid with us and responding to the questions.

Mr DesRosiers: Mr Chair, just one last word, if you will. We shouldn't let an interval of four years go by before I come back on another semiannual visit. But I'd like to take this occasion to -- you ask me the questions, but I wouldn't be able to do a darn thing around here if it wasn't for the very excellent staff that work here. These are dedicated people. You know them. These are people who work with you, who work long hours, who work for no extra remuneration and who are dedicated to the very nature of this institution and to the people who work in it. I want to thank them on your behalf and thank them on my behalf, because they make my job possible. Thank you for having me here. It's a pleasure.

The Chair: Thank you.

Mr Baird: I wanted to just check on an issue unrelated to the Clerk's visit. There were two issues raised by me at the last meeting of the committee in June on information requests and I wanted to follow that up and see if they were available.

Clerk of the Committee (Mr Peter Sibenik): You're referring to the matter of the access to the Legislative Building?

Mr Baird: Yes, that was the first one.

Clerk of the Committee: We're still looking into that one. I'll have the information available next week. Do you want to hear from anyone?

Mr Baird: I'd just be happy to get a report in writing. That would be fine.

Clerk of the Committee: And the second issue?

Mr Baird: The second issue was that the committee made a decision not to send representatives to the National Conference of State Legislatures and I just wanted to find out if anyone from the Legislative Assembly of Ontario had attended.

Clerk of the Committee: Not that I'm aware of. There could have been an individual decision made by an individual member.

Mr Baird: I know there were no members of the committee going, but were there any staff from the Legislative Assembly of Ontario who went?

Clerk of the Committee: Not that I'm aware of. I will check into that.

Mr Baird: That would be super.

The Chair: I think it's in your desk area, John, that there were some cassettes of the National Conference of State Legislatures that could be ordered. I've given those to every one of the members, and if they wish to order something from there, they can do so and let the clerk know. That was arising out of that meeting.

If there's no other business, we'll adjourn.

The committee adjourned at 1728.