Wednesday 19 February 1997
STANDING COMMITTEE ON THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
Chair / Président: Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington PC)
Vice-Chair / Vice-Président: Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale PC)
*Mr TedArnott (Wellington PC)
*Mr DaveBoushy (Sarnia PC)
*Mr TonyClement (Brampton South / -Sud PC)
*Mr AlvinCurling (Scarborough North / -Nord L)
*Mr CarlDeFaria (Mississauga East / -Est PC)
*Mr BillGrimmett (Muskoka-Georgian Bay / Muskoka-Baie-Georgienne PC)
Mr JohnHastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale PC)
*Mr RonJohnson (Brantford PC)
*Mrs MargaretMarland (Mississauga South / -Sud PC)
Mr Gilles E. Morin (Carleton East / -Est L)
*Mrs SandraPupatello (Windsor-Sandwich L)
Mr TonySilipo (Dovercourt ND)
Mr R. GaryStewart (Peterborough PC)
*Mr BudWildman (Algoma ND)
*In attendance /présents
Substitutions present /Membres remplaçants présents:
Mr DavidChristopherson (Hamilton Centre / -Centre ND) for Mr Silipo
Mr John R. O'Toole (Durham East / -Est PC) for Mr Stewart
Also taking part /Autres participants et participantes:
Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines L)
Mr JohnGerretsen (Kingston and The Islands / Kingston et Les Îles L)
Clerk Pro Tem /
Greffier par intérim: Mr Doug Arnott
Staff / Personnel: Mr Philip Kaye, research officer, Legislative Research Service
The committee met at 1540 in room 228.
The Chair (Mr Ted Arnott): I'd like to call this meeting to order. We are continuing our discussions on the issue of referenda, and we continue to discuss the motion put forward by Mr Clement some four weeks ago now -- I guess four meetings ago, on December 18.
Mr Tony Clement (Brampton South): Mid-December, Mr Chair.
The Chair: I think December 18. We just checked here, and I think that's about the time frame. We're in the middle of it. We're at point 7 at the present time, and I'll read the point to start the discussion:
"(7) The commission could also determine whether the referendum question, on its face, is in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the Ontario Human Rights Code, in which case the referendum would not proceed."
Mr Clement, do you care to start off the discussion?
Mr Clement: I think we already discussed point 7, Mr Chair, and I believe that we essentially agreed at this committee that we would add "the Constitution of Canada" after "in violation of" to make it more specific that it was broader than the charter. I think we have actually completed our discussions on point 7, and I wish to add something for section 8. That's my recollection.
Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): You mean to say the Charters of Rights and Freedoms or the Human Rights Code or the Constitution of Canada? Where were you going to add that?
The Chair: We have a record of that discussion. I'm sorry about that. You're correct, we did discuss it. We don't have a record of a motion that's been put forward to amend that section.
Mr Clement: I'd like to move that after "in violation of" we add the phrase "the Constitution of Canada."
The Chair: Is that satisfactory to everybody?
Mr Curling: "...in violation of the Constitution of Canada and the Charter of Rights" -- were you going to delete "Charter"?
Mr Clement: No. I didn't say anything about deleting anything; I said adding.
Mr Curling: Just add "in violation of the Constitution"?
Mr Clement: Correct, sir.
Mr Curling: And then comma, "the Charter of Rights and Freedoms"?
Mr Clement: Yes.
Mr Curling: Just read it straight out for me. I'm sorry. When you insert it --
Mr Clement: "...in violation of the Constitution of Canada, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the Ontario Human Rights Code, in which case the referendum would not proceed."
The Chair: Is there any discussion on the amendment that Mr Clement has put forward?
Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): Chair, those questions about point 3, were we going to finish those before we moved on?
The Chair: Oh, yes. I'm sorry. I neglected to do that. Can we deal with this and then we'll deal with those points of clarification?
Is there any further discussion on Mr Clement's motion? Mr Clement has moved an amendment to point 7 to further clarify it. Doug, could you read this.
Clerk Pro Tem (Mr Doug Arnott): Mr Clement has moved that in item 7, following the words "in violation of" the words "the Constitution of Canada," be inserted.
The Chair: Are members ready to vote? All in favour of Mr Clement's motion? Those opposed? The motion is carried.
Mrs Pupatello pointed out that there were a couple of outstanding issues left over from last week's meeting that required some clarification by Philip Kaye. Philip, could you inform the committee of what you found.
Mr Philip Kaye: One question that came up last week involved the composition of the referendum council of Quebec. Members have a copy of the Quebec Referendum Act which was distributed this afternoon, and if you look at section 2, it makes reference to the establishment of this referendum council and then goes on to say it is composed of three judges of the Court of Quebec, one of whom is the chairman --
Mrs Pupatello: Section 2 of --
Mr Kaye: In the Quebec Referendum Act. Section 2 under chapter II.
The second sentence in section 2 mentions that the referendum council is composed of three judges of the Court of Quebec, one of whom is the chairman, designated by the chief judge of that court.
Two questions arise from reading this section, the first one being: "How are judges appointed to the Court of Quebec? are they federally appointed or provincially appointed?" and second, "Does the chief judge of the Court of Quebec simply designate the chair of the referendum council or all the members of the referendum council?"
With respect to the first question as to how the judges of the Court of Quebec are appointed, Quebec's Courts of Justice Act states that the judges of the Court of Quebec are provincially appointed. With respect to the second question, as to how these judges on the referendum council are designated, they are all designated by the chief judge of the Court of Quebec.
Another matter I referred to last week involved my interpretation of BC's initiative legislation, in terms of whether or not citizens by initiative could seek a constitutional amendment. I spoke to the deputy chief electoral officer of British Columbia, who confirmed that the initiative procedure in British Columbia cannot be used to seek an amendment of the Constitution of Canada. Those were two items that were left over from last week.
The Chair: Thank you, Philip.
Mrs Pupatello: Could you say that last one again, Philip, please?
Mr Kaye: As I mentioned last week, British Columbia is the only province which has provision for province-wide initiatives with a binding effect to the extent that the government can be required to introduce a bill following an initiative vote, and the question came up as to whether or not citizens who invoke the initiative procedure in British Columbia could try to seek an amendment to the Constitution of Canada through this process.
A concern I had as to whether or not that was possible was the British Columbia legislation, when it comes to the initiative procedure, makes reference to the applicant submitting a draft bill with the application for the issuance of the petition in the first place, and as constitutional amendments are made by resolution, not by bill, I questioned whether the initiative procedure could be used to seek an amendment to the Canadian Constitution.
As I said, I spoke to the electoral office in British Columbia, and they confirmed that the initiative procedure could not be used to seek an amendment to the Constitution of Canada, and one reason given was the fact that an amendment to the Constitution could not be made unilaterally by the British Columbia Legislature.
Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): If I'm understanding you correctly, it can't be used as an initiative to begin the actual legal process, but there's nothing to prevent a sounding of the public.
Mr Kaye: Under other legislation.
Mr Christopherson: Are you saying that it would just be ruled you cannot ask that question, period?
Mr Clement: A binding referendum.
Mr Kaye: That question can't be asked through the initiative procedure. British Columbia also has legislation requiring a referendum before the passage of a constitutional amendment. That binds the government to that extent. So if you're distinguishing between referenda initiated by citizens and by the government, BC is saying when it comes to amending the Canadian Constitution, the government can initiate a referendum and that it's mandatory prior to the passage of a constitutional amendment, but when it comes to the citizens initiating a referendum, they cannot do so on an amendment to the Canadian Constitution.
The Chair: Mrs Pupatello, did you have a question?
Mrs Pupatello: Yes. So in that instance, where does the process stop in British Columbia under their model? When it's a citizen's initiative dealing with constitutional items, does the process stop or can the citizen still go forward with it, only it absolves the government of any involvement, or can they just stop the thing from actually happening?
Mr Kaye: I believe what would happen is that the citizen would make an application to Elections BC for the issuance of the petition to get the ball rolling and that Elections BC would say, "We're not going to issue the petition, because what you're seeking is not permitted under the legislation."
I was also told that in BC, because the legislation says the proposal has to fall within the jurisdiction of the Legislature, if a citizen brings forward a proposal that might be in conflict with the Charter of Rights, the elections office reviews the proposal and won't issue the petition if it's in violation of the charter, on the basis that if it's contrary to the charter it's beyond the jurisdiction of the Legislature of BC.
But getting back to your question in terms of a citizen who wishes an amendment to be made to the Canadian Constitution, the petition just wouldn't be issued, so there wouldn't be any opportunity to try to get signatures.
Mr Curling: But the judgement call, whether or not that question could be put forward, if it's not amending the Constitution, would it be the judge at the time or would it be the Legislature?
Mr Kaye: If it's a direct amendment to the Constitution, that would be quite clear.
Mr Curling: Yes, I understand that part.
Mr Kaye: But if it was a case that the proposal might violate the Charter of Rights, then the elections office in BC would make a ruling on that.
Mr Curling: Therefore, they could hijack the process before it goes to the judge. In other words, they could say, "I think this will affect the Constitution." Is it their call to say that or would it be the judge's call to say that?
Mr Clement: What judge? There's no judge in BC on it.
Mr Kaye: It probably is possible to challenge the decision of Elections BC. If someone felt that Elections BC was wrong in concluding that the proposal was contrary to the Charter of Rights, I believe that they could then challenge that decision in the courts.
The Chair: Did you have another question, Mrs Pupatello?
Mrs Pupatello: Not of Mr Kaye. Are you dealing with the same issue?
Mr Curling: No, no. Just this point.
Mrs Pupatello: Question?
The Chair: You do have a question?
Mrs Pupatello: Not of the researcher.
The Chair: Who is the question for, Mrs Pupatello?
Mrs Pupatello: It's just in general, I guess. Given the information that he presented then as a response to our questions of the Quebec model, the judges are clearly appointed by the province in Quebec. Whereas last week we thought there was something involving the federal government as to the judge's appointment, that's now not the case; in fact, the province appoints the judges.
I'm seeing a little window of opportunity here in terms of an amendment, that if it's seen by all of the members of the committee that the commission is going to be struck in a similar manner by the province, the members of the committee would consider there would be an all-party agreement as to the appointment of the individuals on the commission that would deal with all of the issues, that there is a window of opportunity there to have agreement in terms of the issuance and appropriateness and usage, I guess, of referenda, and I'd like to make a note of that.
I'd like an answer actually in terms of what the government members think about that, because we discussed in brief in those other points so far on that list of 12, about this commission and all of the powers they have, in item 7 and item 6. So I think there's a window here for some agreement in terms of unanimous consent to the appointments to that commission. I think members may want to consider that.
I'd like to continue with our discussion of last week at committee when we talked about the representational aspect of point 3, because I didn't get to the answers. We were busy forwarding our information. I know there's going to be time today to get the answer, likely from Mr Clement, in terms of our questions regarding the regional aspect, the representational aspect of that 10%, whether it can be represented in regions.
Since last week we've had some press on this issue, and there is a differing view that's been put forward by the government on the binding nature of referenda and what we've heard at committee. We heard at committee that the referenda use would be of a binding nature to the government, whether it binds the government to come forward with legislation on that issue, that it goes through the process -- however it's going to work, ultimately it's going to be binding to the government. Yet Mr Clement, speaking on behalf of the government on this issue, clearly indicated in the Sunday Toronto Star that they would be non-binding. I have to have clarification of that point before we can go any further, because that, as you know, goes to the very heart of the matter here.
The Chair: Do you care to comment, Mr Clement?
Mr Clement: I'd be happy to clarify that situation for Mrs Pupatello and indicate that I've always said this would be binding on the government. I've always maintained that these would be binding referendums.
I further move to make it absolutely crystal clear to Mrs Pupatello and anyone else reading Hansard that section 8 be amended by adding at the end of "the referendum result" the following phrase, which I alluded to at last week's meeting. The added sentence would read: "In either case, a referendum-inspired bill would be considered a government bill and would be pursued by the government at the earliest reasonable opportunity." I move that at this time.
Mr Curling: Are we moving at this time from dealing with 7?
The Chair: I allowed Mrs Pupatello to make a brief statement expressing some interest. Technically, we should move to point 8 and I think that would be appropriate.
Mr Curling: Technically.
Mrs Pupatello: You outlined that you would be going through all the points, that you wouldn't be doing these in --
Mr Curling: No, you jumped to 8.
Mr Clement: We finished 3 last week.
The Chair: We were done number 7 and then I recognized Mrs Pupatello. She indicated an interest in raising a few issues, I understood. That was how you prefaced it. I don't know exactly how you phrased it, but that was essentially what you said. I recognized you.
Mrs Pupatello: Yes, so I'm just given that statement now about what we would add to number 8. Its relevance --
Mr Clement: Point of order, Mr Chair: I believe I have a motion on the floor, unless it is ruled out of order by the Chair.
Mr Curling: Point of order, Mr Chair: My understanding is that we were dealing with number 7. Mr Clement then amended a portion of number 7 and we voted on that. Then Mrs Pupatello raised some points to give some intentions and some clarification down the road of some areas. Then all of a sudden I hear having number 8. I didn't realize that you had moved to number 8 already, because I'm waiting for a turn, for her to complete her turn.
The Chair: I would have moved to number 8, Mr Curling, but I recognized Mrs Pupatello because she indicated an interest in speaking. I didn't know exactly what she wanted to say and I listened to what she had to say.
Mr Clement: Point of order, Mr Chair: I thought we had actually dealt with item 7 two weeks ago. We've certainly dealt with item 3, which was raised by Mrs Pupatello 10 minutes ago. We dealt with item 3 last week. So in fact, sequentially, we are on item 8, which we had discussed two weeks ago as well, and there had been a consensus by the NDP member Mr Silipo and myself to add this particular or something similar to the motion that I have just read for the record and that I believe we are on.
Mrs Pupatello: If the government members are in cahoots somehow with the NDP, I don't know that the current sitting member is aware of it. What I would like clarified before we continue on is an answer to the question. What the member now has given as his addition to number 8 has little or nothing to do with the question posed earlier regarding clarification on the regional nature, the geographic nature, the 10% and those kinds of things that would be encompassed.
Mr Clement: Point of order, Mr Chair: One week ago, two weeks ago and three weeks ago we have gone through the questions on the regional nature, the questions on how the 10% applies. I do not propose to waste the committee's time by going over that. If Mrs Pupatello has difficulty remembering those comments and those discussions, I suggest that she re-read Hansard.
Mrs Pupatello: Point of order, Mr Chair: I guess what's clear is that when we deal with these issues at committee, what we're intent on doing is reaching some kind of consensus -- certainly not agreement, because it's likely not to happen on this issue -- that we're getting answers to the questions we pose. Chair, when we spoke last week, you had a certain series of numbers, of points we were talking to, and they weren't in order. When I asked you last week how this was going to function as you continued through, you said that we would finish the discussion on the point we were at and then I would be free to go back to discuss number 3, because we hadn't finished our discussion on point 3. That was last week. Things haven't changed that dramatically since last week.
Mr Clement: Point of order, Mr Chair: Perhaps Mrs Pupatello was out of the room at the time, because she did leave the --
Mrs Pupatello: As soon as I finish my point, Chair, I think I would give up the floor voluntarily, but not certainly be spoken over.
The Chair: You have the floor, Mrs Pupatello.
Mrs Pupatello: The concern I'm having is that we've already been out of order on these points that we're speaking to today, so it's a precedent to be out of order as opposed to a precedent to be in order.
The Chair: I'll need the consent of the committee -- it was a meeting that the Vice-Chairman was chairing; because of a number of points of discussion that became very difficult, he decided to take them in other than numerical order. I have since that time, since I've resumed the chair, been trying to follow numerical order. I didn't think that was a problem. That's the first time I've heard an objection, that this is a problem.
Mrs Pupatello: To continue my point --
The Chair: Just let me finish. I would like to move to number 8, if that's okay. Mr Clement did make a motion in the context, I think, of a point of order, if I'm not mistaken. It is perhaps a little premature, because I haven't called number 8 or read number 8, but I would like to, if the committee will allow me, and we can continue the discussion.
Mrs Pupatello: Could I continue my point?
Mr Clement: Point of order, Mr Chairman: I just wanted to remind Mrs Pupatello of the sequence of last week. I believe she was out of the room for a period of time and may not have recollected it as a result of that, for which it's not her obligation, but I did want to remind her of the fact that we had a vote on section 3, we had completed section 3 by dealing with an amendment which had been overhanging for a week period at that point, two weeks ago today. Mr Silipo had had an amendment on section 3; we had dealt with it. Consequently, that was the end of the discussion on section 3.
I just wanted to assure Mrs Pupatello that we had had a full discussion on section 3. We've now completed section 7 in terms of an overhanging issue. The reason I raised the issue, Mr Chair, just so you know, of section 8 was Mrs Pupatello asked me a direct question on what was my position personally, I suppose, on the binding nature of referendums, which was a topic we had discussed last week and the week before. That issue is addressed in section 8. Upon our discussion two weeks ago, Mr Silipo and I had had quite a fruitful discussion on how to make section 8 even clearer, which is embodied in my amendment, which I assumed was in order, since Mrs Pupatello seemed anxious to lay this issue to rest as well.
Mr Christopherson, you had a point of order.
Mr Christopherson: Two points. However, first of all, let me say what a happy bunch I see I'm so lucky to have joined here for what I am going to work hard to ensure is one visit only.
Two quick points. One is that I'm sure Mrs Pupatello did not mean to impute motive to any discussions that my colleague Mr Silipo might have had at committee by using the word "cahoots."
Second, if the justification for moving off 3 is that there was a resolution agreed to by the members who were here that included Mr Silipo --
Mr Clement: No.
Mr Christopherson: Okay, maybe you can clarify for me then. You mentioned his agreement to something a couple of times. My only point was if your agreement or discussions with him, in your raising that, are to validate doing something or not doing it, he hasn't talked to me; he's off sick, so I'm not aware of that. It may be reflected in the Hansard. Just to go on the record that I haven't been apprised of that.
Mr Clement: Sure. Just to set the record straight, I do not want to put any words in Mr Silipo's mouth where they do not belong. He's in charge of his mouth, not me, and that's hunky-dory as far as I'm concerned. Mr Silipo and I had I guess an understanding of how section 8 would be amended. Section 3, he had a motion before this committee which the government side did not agree with. We disposed of that motion. He was unsuccessful in that motion, which was I think either the last thing or the penultimate thing this committee had dealt with last week. I did not mean to suggest that Mr Silipo and I disposed of section 3 last week, because that would not be fair to Mr Silipo.
Mr Christopherson: I appreciate the clarification.
The Chair: Still with the point of order, Mrs Pupatello.
Mrs Pupatello: The difficulty I'm having, Chair, is that we knew we were going to be out of order, but the Chair agreed to be out of order, for whatever reasons caused us to be out of order. At that time, when you said, "Do you mind if we continue this point?" it was because I knew we were going to get back to the discussion surrounding point 3, because in my view that's one of the more significant parts and problems, in terms of my opinion, with the whole thing. So I've got to be assured that at some point we do get back to that discussion. When you and I spoke outside the committee just before it was starting, you had assured me of that, because I would not have allowed it to go on without getting everything else on the record at that time.
In terms of my being helpful to the Chair to finish whatever point you were on -- I guess that's where I'm at, Chair, because I'm taking you at your word.
The Chair: I must say, I recall our conversation; I don't exactly recall assuring you of what you're suggesting.
Mrs Pupatello: You were standing right here, leaning over us.
The Chair: I know I was. I think you indicated that you had to go for a period of time.
Mrs Pupatello: And I asked for a recess at that time, remember?
The Chair: Yes.
Mrs Pupatello: And I knew we were going to get back to that point.
The Chair: You didn't on the record ask for a recess.
Mr Clement: I'm sorry, Mr Chair, I was not apprised of that conversation and as a member of the subcommittee if there's something we want to discuss, we can do that at that time.
Mrs Pupatello: We could take a recess at the subcommittee level.
Mr Curling: Just like Mr Clement wasn't apprised of a certain meeting, maybe you could clarify this for me, Mr Clement. You suggested that you and Mr Silipo had agreed. Was this an agreement in a meeting of the subcommittee or was it in the legislative committee here? You said you had an agreement with Mr Silipo about a certain part of this presentation here. Did I hear you right, that you and Mr Silipo had an agreement in a certain area?
Mr Clement: To answer that directly, Mr Silipo's party, the New Democratic Party, and my party, the PC Party of Ontario, happen to agree with about 90% of what is embodied on this page. Consequently, there are times when Mr Silipo makes constructive suggestions -- and I applaud him for that, because he is a very constructive member of this committee -- and I have agreed with some of his suggestions. Consequently, I would have to say that Mr Silipo and I -- I as the lead for my party and he as the lead for his party -- have been trying to improve constructively this motion to get on with it. That is what I referred to.
Mr Curling: Oh. We also have --
Mr Clement: I invite the Liberal Party to be part of this ongoing exercise, but it has chosen not to do that. They have chosen, as Mrs Pupatello made mention in the Toronto Star on Sunday, to try by any methods available to them to make sure that this committee does not resolve these issues. I'm saddened by that. That's their right in the democratic process, but I for one am not a participant in that. Neither is the NDP.
Mr Curling: Maybe I should inform Mr Clement that there's another party, called the Liberal Party, here. Whether he wants to agree and both you and the New Democratic Party want to get together -- that's wonderful and that's the democratic process. But we have constructive things to say in this process. Regardless if he likes it or not, we will be making those comments. As a good Chair, as you are, you'll make provisions that we make those comments.
That's all I wanted to find out, when this agreement came about with him. That's fine. I don't care if they want to agree or disagree in the third party; that's none of my business. My business is that we are to put our party's position forward and make it show as constructively as possible. Whether he wants to call it "constructive" is his prerogative. I just wanted to make that point clear, how this agreement came about. The agreement is that the three parties would try to write as well as possible. We, of course, as indicated the way this thing is going, may be writing our own minority report on this.
The Chair: Mr Christopherson on this point of order.
Mr Christopherson: Just for the record, it would be helpful in terms of being constructive, given the fact that Mr Silipo is ill and he is our lead spokesperson, that you refrain from speaking for our party while he's not here in terms of what he may or may not agree with and putting definitions of 90% or other things. It would just be very helpful and allow me to try to play as positive a role as I can here, whatever that might be and whether everyone agrees it's positive or not, but it certainly can't be if you continue to do that. So I would ask you to reflect on those sorts of things and withhold them if you could.
The Chair: We've had fairly extensive discussion on this point of order. I would like to proceed, if the will of the committee exists to proceed, to point 8.
Mr Clement: Could you just identify then whether we're on my amendment at this stage?
The Chair: The pattern that we've been following has been that I would read out the point, then we would have discussion, and then it would probably be most appropriate to have the amendment after that first discussion; or if you want to move the amendment right off the bat, that's fine, we can do it that way.
Mr Clement: I'm in your hands, sir. As soon as you call section 8, then I'm quite prepared to move my motion.
Mrs Pupatello: Mr Chair, on a point of order: I haven't finished my discussions regarding point 3. I was prepared to relinquish having the floor on point 3, in essence, because you had asked: "Could we just do this? Then you will have the opportunity to go back to 3." So I had agreed to relinquish because of that. I need your assurance now, Chair, that as amendments are being brought forward for this item, we will then move back to item 3. Had I realized you weren't going to go back, I would not have relinquished --
The Chair: I recall our conversation and I recall you indicated that you had to leave for a little while. I don't recall assuring you that we would -- I don't recall that, I'm afraid. I hope towards the end, perhaps we can still entertain any other outstanding issues that members feel have not been conclusively discussed. I hope the consent of the committee would allow that and we could put your concerns, or perhaps you could tie some of those points that you wish to make relative to point 3 to the discussion on the subsequent points that we still have to do.
Mrs Pupatello: Then it's going to be on point 8 now.
The Chair: Okay. I would like to now move to point 8.
Mr Clement: Then I would like to move my amendment at this time.
The Chair: Okay, point 8, "Referendum questions" --
Mr Curling: So I won't get to make any comment on point 7.
The Chair: We're moving on to point 8.
Mr Curling: Without my contribution.
The Chair: "Referendum questions would ask a clear and concise question, which would demand a yes or no answer, and would require a 50% plus 1 majority of voting Ontarians in order to pass."
Mr Curling: Mr Chairman, on a point of order: Is that the way we're going to proceed now, that even when I want to make a contribution to a point, you're going to move on regardless, because Mr Clement wanted to move on to make --
The Chair: I thought we had completed item 7.
Mr Curling: No, we didn't. The fact is you were dealing with points of order and I just waited through that process. Then you just barraged into it, and I kept indicating to you that I wanted to make a comment.
The Chair: Do you have additional comments relating to point 7?
Mr Curling: Yes, that's the point I'm trying to make.
The Chair: We had a motion by the government -- no, who moved the motion? Mr Silipo?
Clerk Pro Tem: Mr Clement.
The Chair: Mr Clement, relative to point 7. That was defeated. I had planned to move to number 8.
Mr Curling: But your plan is kind of premature, to move on, because if his motion is defeated, I want to talk about it.
Mr Clement: The motion has already passed.
Mr Curling: What motion?
Mr Clement: Number 7. The motion is passed.
Mrs Pupatello: Chair, our member may have a further motion for point 7. You always entertain them from all the --
The Chair: I believe I was saying I was going to move to point 8.
Mr Curling: Could I get an understanding here, Mr Chairman? I don't want to be confrontational. Mr Clement came and said he had an amendment in which he put the Constitution, "in violation of the Constitution of Canada, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the Ontario Human Rights Code." Then you made a vote on that. That was passed. That doesn't say it's over. That amendment to that thing was passed. A majority of them do that. Then there were comments, and I want to comment on this. You said you were going to move to number 8 because Mr Clement had a number 8 amendment and he is jumping to 8. I'm saying I want to comment on 7.
Mr Dave Boushy (Sarnia): It's already passed.
Mr Curling: What is passed? The amendment was passed.
Mr Ron Johnson (Brantford): Do you have another amendment?
Mrs Pupatello: Chair, on a point of order: Let me just review for a moment how we ended up with this page with 12 points on it. I did this last week, I know, and I probably wasn't clear enough, because I recollect how we came to have this point of 12.
If you recall, in one of the first meetings we had --
Mr Clement: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: What is this relevant to?
Mrs Pupatello: Sorry, I have the floor. Excuse me.
The Chair: Ms Pupatello has the floor, Mr Clement, on a point of order.
Mrs Pupatello: What we were doing at that time was discussing in general the issue of referenda, if you recall. We were talking about its relevance etc, and while we were doing that --
Mr Clement: You were taking seven hours of time to filibuster. Once you finish your discussion, then --
Mrs Pupatello: Chair.
Mr Curling: Ms Pupatello has the floor.
The Chair: You have the floor, Mrs Pupatello. I'm listening to you.
Mr Clement: If you don't like my handwriting, we can have a discussion about my handwriting.
Mrs Pupatello: Would you tell the member to stop interrupting.
The Chair: Mr Clement, Mrs Pupatello has the floor.
Mr Clement: I will not have you talk about my handwriting any more in this committee. It's completely irrelevant to the discussion of the future of direct democracy in Ontario.
The Chair: Mr Clement, I would ask you to --
Mrs Pupatello: I am very surprised at the unprofessional behaviour of the member from Brampton.
Mr Clement: Mr Chair, on a point of privilege: She has not the right to say these words about my conduct. She has not the right to characterize my conduct, and I do object.
The Chair: I'm going to recess the committee for five minutes.
The committee recessed from 1617 to 1702.
The Chair: I'd like to call the committee again to order. As Chairman of this committee, I must say I am quite disappointed with how we allowed ourselves to lower the debate earlier. I hope all members will recognize that all members on the committee are honourable and that we can keep a standard of decorum which is commensurate with what our responsibilities as members would indicate it should be. Certainly, I would again say to all members that I ask for their cooperation and help as we move forward on this issue.
I think, as Mrs Marland pointed out a couple of meetings ago, this has been one of the least partisan of committees. We have tried and endeavoured to work together, and I hope that spirit will prevail ultimately.
I guess I'll report what the subcommittee had determined, that we would go back to point 7 and allow the Liberal Party to make some comments relative to point 7. We would then proceed to point 8, and then we would go back to point 3, which was the request of Mrs Pupatello. That is what the subcommittee decided as to how we would proceed from here.
Mrs Pupatello, you had the floor when I called the recess and I would recognize you now.
Mrs Pupatello: It's quite interesting, because the longer we're at this, the more things change, and we're constantly being presented with new information that makes us want to go back and revisit the things we've already discussed. Every time our research makes a report on something, it certainly begs the question on various other points.
My difficulty right now is that while you chose to move to recess, certain members of the government, namely, John O'Toole, selected that time to inform me exactly what he thinks is the state of my mental capacity, getting into the name-calling. I suggested that he put that on record so that we can debate that appropriately. I'm more than prepared to debate my mental capacity when it's on the record, not when it's in this room and being screamed at me.
I guess, Chair, I need to know what exactly you intend to do since members of your committee are behaving really very badly and unacceptably anywhere on this precinct. If he wants to yell at me on University Avenue, fair game, but when we're in a committee room, I will never take to being compared as better or worse than Sheila Copps or I'm a mindless twit. This stuff is just absolutely ridiculous and it certainly points to how low someone would go to have me not have the opportunity or be in some position to make my views known.
I've been very clear since the beginning that we will not agree on the use of referenda and the issue in Ontario. We're never going to agree to that. There are very few things that we're allowed to do as committee members, as legislators, when it becomes a bill, when we discuss it. There are very few opportunities we have to make any dent, any opportunity to change the course that the government is on. When it's on this issue, which our party feels very strongly about, there are very few tools available to us. The committee is one of a very few of those.
I find it reprehensible that any member is going to stoop to the level of name-calling. People have said, "Well, when you're in this game, you've got to fight." I think that's fair. When people have been offended by something I've said and they've asked me to withdraw the remarks, I have done so on every occasion, because it's never going to be the intent of our committee members, I sure hope, to personally offend people.
I asked the member to wait and put them on record, and what he said was: "You can't make me do that. I'm not going to say that on the record." He knows the rules. Clearly if he says it during the recess, it's gone, and there's nothing the Chair can do about it.
I would like to know exactly what is within the purview of the Chair to do to have a colleague of yours, which I am -- how you as Chair of this committee expect to ensure that I'm not going to be subjected to name-calling by people who have every right to be here, as I do, and express their opinions into the record. That's our job. So, Chair, I'd like you to discuss that issue before we move on to my point of order prior to the recess.
The Chair: Mrs Pupatello, you're quite right when you say that it's the job of the Chairman to try to maintain a level of decorum in the committee. That is quite correct. I endeavour to do that as best I can. At times, when members have very passionate views on various points, decorum isn't what it should be, and I would agree that decorum was not what it should be when I had to call the recess.
When Mr O'Toole returns to the committee, I will ask him -- here he is now. I would ask you, Mr O'Toole, if you would care to withdraw any of the comments you made relative to Mrs Pupatello's point of order.
Mr John O'Toole (Durham East): I have no idea what she's talking about. I've just entered the room now. If we could have a recording of Hansard, I'd be pleased to respond. Otherwise, I have no idea what Mrs Pupatello was talking about.
Mrs Pupatello: Shall we wait for Hansard, Chair?
The Chair: There's no Hansard, Mrs Pupatello, for several days. It's at least a week or two behind.
Mr O'Toole: I'd be pleased to speak to Mrs Pupatello after the meeting is over. This has really nothing to do with the meeting.
The Chair: Is that satisfactory? I would like to proceed.
Mr O'Toole: I'd be pleased to speak to her after.
Mrs Pupatello: As for our subcommittee meeting that we had during the recess, it was understood by the three members -- Mr Clement, Mr Christopherson and myself -- that what you would do today was ask the member to withdraw his remarks, and there was some agreement on a personal level that they were wholly inappropriate and certainly shouldn't be entered into in this room.
As I stated before when Mr O'Toole was out of the room, if someone's got something to say to me of a personal nature, in particular that kind of nature, of malice, running into me on the corner of University Avenue is perfectly open, everything is fair game, but because it was specifically said during recess and he specifically knew that it wouldn't be recorded, there's no record of this kind of behaviour by members of the government committee.
Let's face it, we're a minority here at this committee; we're a minority in the House. I'm just a backbench Liberal member who has some very strong views on referenda, and I mentioned earlier that there are very few tools available to the opposition when you're in this government, and in particular this government. There is some precedent here with Bill 26. There are not a lot of tools available to us to get our point across. We can make all the motions and amendments in the world and they'll be defeated by a government that is on a certain track. We don't have a lot available to us to come to a compromise, because what we know about the government is that there are no compromises with the opposition parties, in particular on this subject matter. We know that the leader of this from the government benches here is Mr Clement. He has mentioned several times that there was some agreement with Mr Silipo, who was sitting at the time for the NDP. If there was agreement there, it was to disagree. The whole time we've had this discussion, unfortunately we've had to agree to disagree, because we're not going to have agreement.
Nevertheless, Chair, what you indicated to me was that you might be a little more forceful in terms of ensuring some kind of decorum. I personally asked for the expulsion of the member from the committee. Whether it's in recess or not, it's your recess. That's like saying that when kids are playing in the school yard and the bully decides to give the little kid a bloody nose, the teacher or the principal doesn't have any purview in the playground.
Mr Ron Johnson: Do you have a runny nose, Sandra?
Mrs Pupatello: Here we are with this big bully at recess in this room and the Chair has absolutely nothing available to him to expel the member from the room. I'll tell you again that comparing me to any other political figure they might be aware of, yelling at me and calling me names does absolutely nothing to discourage me. If I may say, the only thing it does is galvanize me. What it tells me is that I must have something here, these guys are getting so angry I really must be on something here.
If I could put it to the Conservative members in that way, I'll never be discouraged by this kind of behaviour from them, but I do expect that these attacks do not become personal, because, as I mentioned before, if I have ever made a personal remark that was offensive to any member, I have always withdrawn the remark.
The Chair: Thank you, Mrs Pupatello. I have Mr Clement and Mr Christopherson.
Mr Clement: I think it's fair to say that my recollection of the subcommittee was a bit different from Mrs Pupatello's, and although she did raise the issue she has just alluded to in the subcommittee, I believe the agreement of the subcommittee was to move to item 7. She has put on the record her point of view on this, so it is now in Hansard and on the record. Mr O'Toole has pledged to look at Hansard to review the situation and to return to this committee if he has a further comment to make. I would just encourage us to move on to item 7.
Mr Christopherson: First of all, my recollection of the subcommittee, since none of us took any notes other than a few brief ones, I think, that you took, is that the process you've outlined is indeed the one we agreed to. I'm comfortable with the fact that Mrs Pupatello was given an opportunity to raise her point of personal privilege, and then items 7, 8 and 3, in that order, would be followed. I do not recall that you agreed you would call on the member for Durham East to withdraw, but rather you would afford him the opportunity to do so after Mrs Pupatello had relayed her concerns.
I also want to say that I was in the room and I did hear the comments as Mrs Pupatello has described them; that was my personal recollection.
Thirdly, it is my opinion, as one member of this committee, that it would be helpful and appropriate and certainly becoming of a parliamentarian that he should withdraw those remarks, whether we were in session or not.
The Chair: In response to one of your comments, Mrs Pupatello, the Chair does not have the authority to expel a member from the committee, according to the standing orders.
Mrs Pupatello: As a footnote, Chair, I wonder if we could have some research in terms of precedents on this issue; if this has come up before, what the Chairs of the day have done in order to deal with it, because I understand that there's a little bit of comparison --
The Chair: We will undertake to do that. We will try to get to Hansard for next week. Okay.
Mrs Pupatello: Just so I can finish, there's some comparison to the Speaker's authority and the Speaker's authority in the House as it compares to the Chair's authority in committee. Our House leader is now speaking with the Speaker to see about that as well. I don't know if you could direct the clerk to see about that.
The Chair: We will undertake to do that and have a response next week.
Going back to number 7, "The commission could also determine whether the referendum question, on its face, is in violation of" -- I'm sorry, as amended; I need the amendment to number 7 if I want to read it again.
Mr Clement: I could read it, Mr Chair.
The Chair: If you've got it there.
Mr Clement: "The commission could also determine whether the referendum question, on its face, is in violation of the Constitution of Canada, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the Ontario Human Rights Code, in which case the referendum would not proceed."
The Chair: Is there any further discussion on point 7?
Mr Christopherson: As members will note, Mr Curling, who is the opposition member who wanted to raise concerns and in the subcommittee we agreed he'd be given that opportunity, was called away for an urgent phone call. You'll also note that Mrs Pupatello has left the room for a moment to try to get him here so that he can respond. If he has not yet completed his urgent phone call, perhaps we can realign things to accommodate that. I'm not trying to complicate things -- we just finished setting an agreement -- but if it doesn't matter to the majority of us here and the intent was to allow Mr Curling --
The Chair: We could move on to point 8 at this time, then, and when Mr Curling comes back --
Mr Christopherson: Do 8, 7, 3, maybe, and give Alvin a chance?
Mr Clement: Sure.
The Chair: So, 8, 7, 3, is that agreed? Thank you. Moving now to point 8, again:
"Referendum questions would ask a clear and concise question, which would demand a yes or no answer, and would require a 50% plus 1 majority of voting Ontarians in order to pass. The effect of such passage would be, in the case of a simple question, to introduce for first reading a bill designed to accomplish the referendum result and, in the case of a more defined bill or proposition, introduced for second reading, a bill designed to accomplish the referendum result."
Mr Clement: I sense, with great anticipation, that this is the appropriate time for me to move my amendment, which would read, at the end of the section, adding the sentence, "In either case, a referendum-inspired bill would be considered a government bill, and would be pursued by the government at the earliest reasonable opportunity."
The Chair: Could you read that again, more slowly?
Mr Clement: I have it in writing. I apologize, Mr Chair, it is in my own handwriting, but I've used block lettering in order to make it more legible.
Mr Christopherson: You're just a glutton for punishment, aren't you?
The Chair: I'll read it again for the opposition members. "In either case, a referendum-inspired bill would be considered a government bill, and would be pursued by the government at the earliest reasonable opportunity."
Mr Christopherson: Could we have copies of said handwritten amendment?
The Chair: It is indeed legible, or I couldn't have read it myself.
Discussion on Mr Clement's motion? Mr Clement.
Mr Christopherson: On a point of order, Mr Chair: Just in terms of the process, quickly, are we going to deal with this amendment first as an amendment, have a discussion and a vote and then return to the rest of 8?
The Chair: I've recognized Mr Clement. He moved the motion. Could we not do it all together?
Mr Christopherson: No. How are you going to do that? The rules of procedure are that you deal with amendments first, and then you deal with the main motion. I just wanted to be sure, given some of the problems I've picked up here around process. Normally one deals with an amendment, you debate the amendment and the merits of it, and then it's either up or down; that affects the main motion, and you have a debate, and it's either up or down. You can't move an amendment and say: "There's the amendment. Now we'll vote on the whole thing in one fell swoop."
Mr Clement: In fact, it's one motion, David. None of these sections have been voted on as a section.
Mr Christopherson: You haven't been doing them as sections, individually?
Mr Clement: No, sir.
Mr Christopherson: So if you get closure on your amendment, that's the end of debate on part 8?
Mr Clement: No, we just keep talking about it until we want to talk about something else.
Mr Christopherson: That's interesting process. How do you close discussion around 8?
Mr Clement: Now you know why we're in our seventh meeting on this issue.
The Chair: We'll have a vote on the whole motion at the completion of the process.
Mr Christopherson: At the end of your time.
The Chair: Right.
Mr Christopherson: I see.
The Chair: We established a way of doing things, that if a party was opposed to a given point, they would move a motion to have that point deleted. That's how we've been doing it.
Mr Clement: Without wishing to put words in anyone's mouth other than my own, which is enough of a task that I don't need to complicate it by making it more complicated, I think this does address both the discussion that occurred two weeks ago and the discussion that occurred one week ago, to bring more certainty to the effect of passage. This is an issue that has been complicated by decisions made by the judicial committee of the Privy Council and the Supreme Court of Canada which attest to the fact that one cannot bind the crown through a referendum piece of legislation.
It is the intention of the mover of the amendment, however, to bind the government -- or more precisely, I suppose, the executive council, but I think "government" covers that -- to make it clear that the bill would be treated as a government bill. The mechanisms for doing so, having reviewed the deputations before this committee, have not been more exact than that, but I believe it is the role of this committee not to write the legislation but merely to advise the Legislature on a preferred direction, and that this amendment would give exact enough advice so that drafters of the legislation could then draft, and this committee and the Legislature would then have an opportunity to debate whether the sections of any proposed legislation would meet the requirements of this committee's wishes. I think this accomplishes that task.
The Chair: Is there any further discussion on the amendment?
Mrs Pupatello: We're going to have copies before the vote, aren't we?
The Chair: Yes. The copies are coming in right now, I believe.
Mr Christopherson: Did you actually refer to yourself in the third person? Did you say, "The writer of the amendment"? Is that what you said?
The Chair: Any further discussion on Mr Clement's amendment?
Mr Curling: Would someone read this for me?
The Chair: Any further discussion on Mr Clement's amendment?
Mr Curling: Is this already in here? Would someone read it for me? "In either case" --
The Chair: "A referendum-inspired bill would be considered a government bill, and would be pursued by the government at the earliest reasonable opportunity."
I'd like to move now to the vote on the amendment.
All in favour of Mr Clement's motion, please raise your hand. Those opposed? The amendment carries.
Mrs Pupatello: Discussion?
The Chair: Yes, discussion. We're still on point 8 if you wish to move a further amendment.
Mrs Pupatello: The discussion surrounding point 8 concerns, once again, the issue of majority in what's considered passage of a referendum. As I understand the procedure, we deal with 8 separately from the amendment of 8. Right, Chair?
The Chair: We just passed a motion to amend point 8.
Mrs Pupatello: Which passed.
The Chair: Which passed.
Mrs Pupatello: Now we're just in discussion of the general point 8.
The Chair: I think it would make sense to have discussion of point 8 as amended.
Mrs Pupatello: Okay. We're talking about "a 50% plus 1 majority of voting Ontarians in order to pass." There are several questions in point 8. The first, that's the most difficult, is the "50% plus 1 majority." The reason I say this is because it hearkens back to the discussion we had last week, where we didn't have an answer that was clear; we didn't have an answer at all. In discussion you have to make the comparison of the kind of representative government we have in Ontario, where there are ridings of a size of something like Thornhill, with 120,000 people in it, and then you have ridings in the north, which is more sparsely populated, and yet each individual who comes representative of that area holds the same count in a vote, namely, one.
Given that that's the case, we have representative government in Ontario; it is not a one man, one vote government, never has been. This particular government has moved far closer to one man, one vote, by changing the boundaries and moving the boundary lines so that we in essence now have less of a voice for rural and more sparsely populated Ontario and less of a voice for people, for example, who represent agriculture etc who happen to also come from those areas. They've moved closer to one man, one vote, but it's nowhere near the position of being one man, one vote.
We've decided to do this historically in Ontario because we've discovered the need to have a representative type of government so that there are groups of people, regions in Ontario, in the country that have their own concerns and their own voices. We as a government have always agreed that they need to be heard and so have given them equal vote. If you look at the Canadian model, we see that the representation that comes from Prince Edward Island -- despite the size of its population, they too come to the table in a very forceful manner, either as a province and a voice, such as in the Charlottetown agreement, or the individuals who are federal members from Prince Edward Island also have a significant hand in governing the nation.
We looked at those examples when we had that discussion of Bill 81, which was the Fewer Politicians Act. I think we recall that we were all highly offended just by the very name of Bill 81. Its intent at the time was to lessen the voice for areas and move it closer to one man, one vote, but it doesn't come anywhere near having one man, one vote. The claim at that time for Bill 81 and the rationalization was, frankly, get rid of politicians because fewer is better, which is why it was titled as such.
The other reason was that they would then match the federal riding sizes. That was one of the reasons to change the boundaries, provincial to equal the federal; they thought it would be saving money, for example, make it easier, simpler for people to understand. They certainly may have an argument on that point, that the public would understand that in my case in Windsor, it wouldn't be Windsor-Sandwich as the provincial riding, it would be Windsor West the provincial riding, which is similar to Windsor West the federal riding. People would understand that where Herb Gray's riding is, that's also Sandra Pupatello's riding. There is an argument to that sameness. When we had that discussion, we also recognized -- and this is the discussion that happened on a national basis -- that there was a specific calculation and a formula that was used to determine the representational nature of where the people came from across Canada.
That was why Prince Edward Island had the number of representatives on that island that it had federally -- not because of the population of PEI, but because of how it stands as an equal province in Canada. Likewise, the territories were in the same position to have a very sparse population in the far north and far west, and they too have a significant voice that represents the population there, because the formula that was used in that system was a formula that resulted in certainly a change in the ridings.
When we did the division, the divisible number they used nationally was very different from the one that can now be used provincially. What we discovered through all those debates on Bill 81 was that the divisible number, when you calculated how many people on average in a riding nationally -- they're actually smaller on average than what those same ridings would be provincially. In the province of Ontario, we now actually have the biggest number, so they're actually the largest ridings, on average, in Ontario. That was a bit of a difficult concept, because if the ridings are the same provincially and nationally, how come the average is different? They're different because the quotient, the bottom number you used in your division, was different on a national basis than it was on a provincial basis.
The intent was always, when we were looking nationally, to maintain that regional component, geographic component, the population disparity, that you have such sparse parts of the north and west and east, all of those were taken into account when the new ridings came into being on the national scene. So when the province went through its machinations, it simply took those same boundaries and made them the Ontario boundaries.
The difficulty we have is that we all agreed that in Ontario we have to have representative government, we have to have areas of Ontario that have a voice even though they may not have that group of people coalescing in a particular region to have that same strong sense. So it still seems rather odd that you would find 120,000 or 110,000 people in the riding of Thornhill represented by Minister Palladini, yet you would go to a different community in the north and have as little as, say, 30,000 to 50,000 constituents, yet you've got both members in this House voting equally, each entitled to one vote. But there was a very good reason for us doing that. We agreed that was the case; we agreed that the north needs to have a voice, because there are topics and subjects of great importance, of great relevance in the north, that they should have that kind of equal vote.
Given that Bill 81 actually passed in the House despite our objections, that the government members in particular are on record, almost every one of them, in support of that -- I remember very distinctly having a debate with Minister Johnson over that issue in London and he said something very clear. He said at that time that he understood the need for regional voices, for rural voices etc. This can't be the same group that today wants to institute in point 8 "a 50% plus 1 majority of voting Ontarians in order to pass" a particular referendum question, because the issues that are inherent in any referendum that might be given, any issue, any question, those same rules apply as they do in the province of Ontario when they're voting for their government. It applies in that their rural representative has an equal say and us urban representative has an equal say.
The question becomes one of -- we had a great example last week. The example was about the Temagami forest and whether or not the southern Ontario people -- and this has been a long-standing issue. The environmentalists who find themselves more populous in the south of Ontario had very strong issues about not allowing the cutting down of trees in the north. The people who live around the Temagami forest have very strong views about whether they should be allowed to cut down the trees in their neighbourhood. The basis for the discussion centres very generally -- I certainly don't pretend to know this issue well, except that because you find more environmentalists in the south, they tend to have a strong hand in --
Mr Curling: It's good stuff.
Mrs Pupatello: I would think this is fairly relevant to the discussion of the kind of representation you'd have in voting.
The Temagami forest, I might remind the government members -- if it's not a hot issue today, wait for it, because it certainly will be. It tends to be every few years or so. I think during your term it too will become quite an issue. You'd be wise to pay attention to this particular example. The individuals who live in the north feel very strongly about the kind of economic development that surrounds the cutting down of trees. They're very particular --
Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): Point of order, Mr Chairman: I wonder if you could confirm for me which point in the resolution Mrs Pupatello is speaking to.
The Chair: Mrs Pupatello is speaking to point 8, as amended relative to Mr Clement's motion.
Mr O'Toole: Could we have that point 8 read into the record? I just want to make sure.
Mrs Pupatello: I'd be happy to do that as part of my discussion, absolutely.
Mr O'Toole: At least it would be relevant to something.
Mrs Pupatello: Any time I can help.
The Chair: I would encourage you to keep your comments relative to the point at hand, Mrs Pupatello.
Mrs Pupatello: The point that we're discussing is: "Referendum questions would ask a clear and concise question, which would demand a yes or no answer, and would require a 50% plus 1 majority of voting Ontarians in order to pass. The effect of such passage would be in the case of a simple question, to introduce for first reading a bill designed to accomplish the referendum result and, in the case of a more defined bill or proposition, introduced for second reading, a bill designed to accomplish the referendum result."
Since, although I don't personally agree, the government members passed the amendment to point 8, I must add, "In either case, a referendum-inspired bill would be considered a government bill, and would be pursued by the government at the earliest reasonable opportunity."
That is point 8, as one of the government members requested that be read into the record. I always like to be helpful when I can.
The discussion I'm having is specifically around the "50% plus 1 majority of voting Ontarians in order to pass." The best example --
Mr Ron Johnson: Just explain to me the trees.
Mrs Pupatello: -- is the discussion of the Temagami forest. I say that the government members may be wise to listen to this, because this issue becomes a very hot issue every few years. It probably will never go away. It's a very contentious issue. I don't know that there is a right or wrong; I don't think there ever is. There never is a right or wrong in these kinds of things, because you have to see the merits of both sides. The difficulty with the Temagami forest is that there is such a number of environmentalists who live in the south -- not that there aren't in the north, but there are far more in number in the south -- that they tend to have a great deal of influence on legislators, so much so that those in the north feel, if I'm speaking for them, that they too have a voice on this particular issue and sometimes they feel like they're overpowered by the voice of the several hundreds of environmentalists who exist in the south, around the Toronto area, those concerned with this forest.
The people in the north on this issue know that cutting down the trees in the north is absolutely essential to the economic development of the north. It drives the paper mills, it drives the paper industry, all the other uses of lumber in the lumber industries. Having the accessibility to the Temagami forest is critical to that. Not only that, but they also have incorporated the ideas of the environmentalists. Governments in the past, Conservatives included, have always insisted that there be a particular pattern followed as to how long they're prepared to let an acre lie fallow, when they replant trees, as they cut down they must reseed, regrow so it's always a growth industry; there are always trees being planted.
Nevertheless, environmentalists, who you find more populous in the southern part of Ontario, feel they're really not doing enough and that they should. It was brought particularly to attention before the Liberal government was elected -- it was actually the defeat of the Liberal government perhaps, when Bob Rae went up to the Temagami forest and chained himself to the trunk of a tree. He got terrific press over the issue, but he was standing up as a Toronto-based environmentalist and certainly making a public political position on what the government's position should be regarding the cutting down of trees.
What is so telling about that description is that again we saw the political forces surrounding Toronto and Queen's Park pretty much take over and determine the northern economic viability of the area. We saw that people who come from a different place -- and this was the sense of the northerners, that we actually have people who don't live in the north, who they thought didn't understand the nature of the economic development of the north, and their voices weren't heard. Instead they were allowed to go ahead.
This government has been dealing with a particular issue -- and this is very current -- in whether or not they're going to be allowed to build a road into the forest. Before that, they had a great deal of difficulty getting the large machinery there. This again became a contentious issue. Just for the record, the Premier, albeit being a northerner, has agreed, and they are going forward and building the road in. The people in the north need the road because they know they have to have good, efficient access to the cutting down of trees, and the people in the south, basically, if you had to be rough about the description, the environmentalists of the south think that by building the road you're just going to encourage more of the cutting down of trees etc.
Let's say that we have referendum legislation in Ontario. Let's say there are people surrounding Toronto who wish to bring forward a referenda item, and the referenda item is going to be around the cutting down of trees in the Temagami forest. The difficulty that we're going to have as a province and as a government --
Mr Ron Johnson: On a point of order, Mr Chair: I recall having this very discussion last week, and in fact, not only did we have this discussion last week, the very example of Temagami was used. I think if the member for Windsor-Sandwich would go back and review Hansard, she would know very well that not only myself participated in that discussion, but I know that Mr. Wildman participated, as she did. Maybe she forgets what was discussed a week ago and what she said. I can refresh her memory, and I'd refer her to Hansard to do that.
As well, these points were made already. In fact, there was an amendment on the floor from Mr Silipo that dealt with regional referenda, and that's the point that Mrs Pupatello appears to be making all over again. That has already been voted on by this committee, the amendment by Mr Silipo. I don't see us going in any new direction here. I see us reviewing the same points that she made a week ago, and I just ask that we move on.
Mrs Pupatello: Put them on record, tough guy, put them on record.
The Chair: Order. I would draw members of the committee --
Mrs Pupatello: Put them on record, John.
The Chair: Order. I would direct members of the committee to standing order 23(c), which suggests that members should not persist in needless repetition nor in raising matters that have been decided during the current session, so I would caution Mrs Pupatello not to --
Mrs Pupatello: Did you hear that? Is that on the record?
The Chair: No. I'm talking. I have --
Mrs Pupatello: Now we're in session. I have to be called a mindless twit while we're in session now, Chair?
The Chair: I'm sorry. I was speaking and I did not hear the comment. Mr O'Toole, do you care to withdraw any comments?
Mr O'Toole: It was mindless twittle is what I said, and really we're saying that this is repetitive, over and over again. That's really what we're saying, Sandra. Try to stick to the point, the particular discussion at hand, and people will listen, but it's just a repugnant type of repetition and repetitive, with no respect for anyone else's time.
Mrs Pupatello: Put them all on the record, Mr O'Toole, all the names. Just go ahead. Put them all on the record.
Mr O'Toole: I just honestly think you should respect other members' time as well.
The Chair: Order. I would caution you not to engage in repetition of arguments that have already been discussed. You have the floor, and I would ask you to proceed.
Mrs Pupatello: I'm asking you to ask the member to withdraw his remarks now that they're on record.
The Chair: I asked him if he cared to withdraw any remarks.
Mrs Pupatello: I didn't hear you wait for an answer.
The Chair: I will ask you again, Mr O'Toole: Do you have any comments you would like to withdraw?
Mr O'Toole: Would she like to withdraw her remarks? I would respond by asking her if she would withdraw repetitive, redundant remarks.
Mrs Pupatello: Can I get an answer, please, Chair.
The Chair: Would you care to continue with your discussion?
Mrs Pupatello: I need an answer. You've asked him a question.
The Chair: I've asked him twice if he cares to withdraw comments. He clearly does not.
Mrs Pupatello: The only good thing about that interjection that you evidently gave him the floor on as a point of order was that the member was actually listening, so considering others' opinion about what my comments might mean, I'm so happy to see that the member for Brantford has actually been listening to my comments. The point of the matter was that when I was in this discussion the other day, it was on a different point.
Mr Ron Johnson: You're making the same point.
Mrs Pupatello: No. As it was discussed at subcommittee actually just a short time ago, there are a number of issues in point 8 that are highly relevant to point 3, which we now have agreed at subcommittee we'll be going back to.
Hopefully, I'll be very expressive. I find that while I may have touched on the same subject area and use of example, I'm saying it in a far more eloquent manner today than I was able to do last Wednesday. I had since prepared actually in my research and discussion about the Temagami forest. In fact, I never got to discuss the actual question of referenda, which is the point of using that as the example. When you choose, or should people choose, to use the subject matter of the Temagami forest as a referendum in Ontario, what you'll see is that the way it is laid out in point 8 will be an absolute disaster. It will not just be a disaster for the north; it will also be a disaster for the south. It will be a complete disaster when you use that as the example, because the people in the south are so concentrated and there is such a power base around Toronto that you will never have the opportunity for the people in the north to have an equal say about how that issue affects their lives; for the very same reason that the member for Brantford voted in favour of Bill 81, which meant representational government in Ontario. The very same rationale is now in place for --
Mr Ron Johnson: I don't know if I was there.
The Chair: Order. Mrs Pupatello, you do have the floor.
Mrs Pupatello: The very same rationale that any of the government members voted in favour of in Bill 81, which still has the components of representational government inherent in it, is the very same argument why you cannot, simply cannot, and it is simply unacceptable to, vote in favour of anything that allows the win on a referendum to be conceded at 50% plus 1, when you don't have any clauses which allow for regionality, geography, population concentration.
It may take a little bit of time, and I need to have a little bit of time to think of other ways and other mechanisms, and as the member from Brampton has pointed out aptly, I have tried a number of ways to make my points clear. These government members who voted in favour of Bill 81, the very same rationale that government members voted in favour of in Bill 81, which incorporated the very reasons that you need to have regional disparity represented in government -- why you have voices for the north, voices for rural Ontario, voices for the urban centres in Ontario -- all of those very same reasons, those are the reasons that you cannot have referendums being passed in Ontario without those same clauses in this legislation, in this report which eventually is going to be legislation.
Mr Ron Johnson: Mr Chairman, on a point of order: I just have a quick question to the Chair. In my view, you could use this very argument that Ms Pupatello is trying to use in terms of regional representation and referenda and apply it to almost every one of the points that we have for the referendum model that we've got here as some of the guidelines.
My question is this: We have heard this time and time again. We've heard it on other points. Is the committee learning anything new or obtaining any new information from the member for Windsor-Sandwich with respect to the regional representation that she wants to get when in fact we already debated this over Mr Silipo's motion?
You, yourself, Chair, just read the standing orders, yet you allow this to continue, when you have sat here through these deliberations for the last number of weeks. In fact, I would argue that we have spent five to seven hours on this one particular issue in terms of regional representation and referenda.
I ask you, Chair, to enforce the standing orders and to make sure that we do move through this debate in an orderly fashion. If she has something new to add, I would want to hear it, but I certainly don't want to keep hearing the same drivel from the member for Windsor-Sandwich.
The Chair: Thank you, member for Brantford. I do not have a copy of last week's Hansard, unfortunately, to review and to determine whether her comments are repetitious. Hansard has not yet provided a record of what was said last week. It's not yet available.
I would again caution Mrs Pupatello not to be too repetitious with her argument. As I said earlier, it is against the standing orders to be unduly repetitious.
Mrs Pupatello: The point we make in point 8 is that it would demand a yes or no answer and would require a "50% plus 1 majority of voting Ontarians in order to pass." That it should be similar to the discussions in point 3, which specifically relate to citizen initiatives, it's a completely different point.
My discussion centres around the "50% plus 1 majority of voting Ontarians in order to pass." That in itself is totally related to how we sense as legislators, how we feel we should be putting questions to Ontarians or whether we should have citizen initiatives in fact. You know because you've been told -- and in the case of Brantford you've been told several times -- you've heard this point before --
Mr Ron Johnson: No kidding.
Mrs Pupatello: The point is that we were arguing against Bill 81 for a whole series of reasons. You voted for Bill 81. You were in favour of Bill 81. You were in favour of representational government. There is a principle inherent in that: that if you voted in favour of it -- you didn't just vote in favour of it, you introduced it; it was your bill. You introduced it, you took it on the road in public hearings. Now I think there was some political mischief in doing that, because I think you were intent on bringing a bill that was entitled the Fewer Politicians Act right around Ontario. I think what you got when you did that was a number of people coming to the table and saying: "Hey, I'm a rural farmer. I want to have an equal voice."
Mr Ron Johnson: Were you there?
Mrs Pupatello: I travelled, absolutely. I travelled to the hearings. Rural farmers came to the table from Middlesex, and they said: "I demand to have a voice. I want to have just as much a voice as the guy who lives in Wawa or the fellow who lives in Thornhill."
The difficulty is that these are the same Conservative government members who voted in favour of Bill 81 at first reading, voted in favour of Bill 81 at second reading, travelled with the committee for the public hearings on Bill 81, spoke about the fact that even with these changes there was still regionality, there was still geography, there was still population density, all of the things that they claimed at that time to be highly relevant. In Bill 81 they claimed it was still there, and this government passed it.
Given that this government passed Bill 81, how can you on the one hand agree with all the points we made and then on the other hand, at committee, a committee that is set out to make a report on the issue of referenda in Ontario, put those very things that you don't agree with in these points? You don't agree that there shouldn't be a rural voice. You don't agree that there shouldn't be that geography represented here. You don't agree with any of those things, so why would you include "50% plus 1 majority of voting"? Why would you include that without including clauses for regionality, for geography? This is a very basic question.
The difficulty I have and why I keep putting the question is that you have not had an answer yet. I expect an intelligent response to a question that I feel is relevant and is reasonable. I think my question is highly reasonable, given the nature of what you've set out to do. If on the one hand you introduce legislation and pass it in Bill 81 that says you believe in the hallmark of representational government, you cannot, unless you're doing it without realizing it, bring forward legislation to do with referenda, deal with a report that doesn't put those same aspects in it; you simply can't do it. It's not even responsible government. All of us have a responsibility to ensure that those things are going to come into the House, in any way, shape or form. It's our responsibility to see that we do ensure those voices.
Last week, we had the discussion about the binding nature. We said that really is the key; that if all referenda were non-binding, we wouldn't be having all of these discussions. The difference is, and as the member again clarified today, "Oh, no, we're fully intending these to be of a binding nature." Well, that changes the story completely. I don't think I'm going to have time today, but I know I will next week, to talk to the binding nature of this.
Mr Ron Johnson: I'm going to bring Hansard next week.
Mr O'Toole: Mr Chairman, on a point of order: I would like to put on the record and make sure that the member for Windsor-Sandwich is completely aware that most of what I've listened to here I have heard before. So thereby it's duplication.
Furthermore, Bill 81, it should be clearly on the record, which was the Fewer Politicians Act, replicated the very boundaries that the federal Liberal Party had conducted provincial-wide, country-wide hearings on, to redistribute representation in Ontario and indeed Canada.
In fact if a person were to look at the record -- and we've heard much about California and its representation -- you will find that in the state of California, with a similar population, we have 10 times the number of elected politicians.
I'm all for representation. I just want this on the record that the member is leaving the impression that this government in some respects is not reflective of the wishes of the people. In fact the very opposite could be said: A referendum is a direct democracy attempt. It's an attempt for each person's vote to have more significant hearings and weight.
The Chair: Mr O'Toole --
Mr O'Toole: I think if a full debate were to be allowed, we'd be clearly on record that that is the intent. We've been filibustered all afternoon so that there cannot be proper debate.
The Chair: Mr O'Toole --
Mrs Pupatello: I think it's time to throw him out.
Mr O'Toole: We're listening to one side, from the forests of Ontario right through to the very end of time.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr O'Toole.
Mr O'Toole: I, for one, am convinced that this has not been a productive use of members' time and I would ask that we adjourn to give it full consideration.
Mrs Pupatello: The Chair has called for order. Why don't you respect that?
Mr O'Toole: I certainly respect the Chair.
The Chair: Thank you for that point of order.
Mr O'Toole: I want the Chair to rule this member as being out of order. Mrs Pupatello has been insulting this committee this afternoon. Why have you not ruled her out of order for being repetitive continuously?
The Chair: Thank you, Mr O'Toole, for your point of order. I have, I think, twice cautioned the member, encouraged her to keep her comments relative to the point and not be needlessly repetitive.
Mr O'Toole: And she disrespected that.
The Chair: There is a standing order that precludes needless repetition, and I would, for the third time, encourage the member for Windsor-Sandwich to not engage in needless repetition.
Mrs Pupatello: Absolutely. Stick to point 8.
Mr Curling: Mr Chairman, on a point of order: I have been listening very carefully too. I have a great respect for you and for the position you hold, but I am amiss to the fact that while Mr O'Toole continued to ignore your calling him to order, you turn around reprimanding my colleague here, when he continued to speak.
The Chair: No, I didn't reprimand --
Mr Curling: No, you didn't reprimand him, but the fact is he continued to speak even while you were ruling. I would say it is a difficult job and I have great respect for you. I would say to Mr O'Toole that we should have some sort of control. I agree with your point of order. You were speaking, yes, and I will listen carefully.
Mr O'Toole: I appreciate you're agreeing with me.
Mr Curling: I agree with your rights. I agree with his right to speak. But I would like you to then say to the member that when you ask him to come to order, he comes to order.
Mr Boushy: Mr Chairman, on a point of order: I think it's 6 o'clock and it's time to adjourn.
The Chair: I think you're right and I adjourn the committee.
The committee adjourned at 1800.