The House met at 2 p.m.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, before my statements, I’d like to take this opportunity, on behalf of all members of the Legislature, to welcome, certainly in his official capacity, the relatively new Premier of the province of British Columbia. I know my colleagues in the official opposition will be delighted to pay him welcome, and say what a refreshing --
Mr. Lewis: More than we can say.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- philosophical change this is to welcome Premier Bennett to our Legislature.
Mr. Breithaupt: We may have a change here, you never know.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Premier Bennett is here to visit for a day or so. I expect to be meeting with him on many important issues in a few moments, not the least of which is how he might succeed, and I might, next year at this time, in having Vancouver and Toronto as the participants in our national final. How he pretends to solve that out west and how I will do that here in Ontario, I really don’t know.
I would like to welcome the Premier of our most westerly province to this Legislature and I extend this welcome on behalf of all our members.
Mr. Lewis: Mr. Speaker, in the spirit of clear magnanimity which occurs on occasions of this kind, I too would like to welcome Premier Bennett to the Legislature, and to be the first to inform him of the coup d'état that has occurred in his absence.
Mr. Breithaupt: It’s very rare, Mr. Speaker, that we see a guest in our gallery who has been so successful at amalgamation. On behalf of my Liberal colleagues who retain the label and also hopes for the future, may I also greet him and hope that his visit in Ontario is a most happy one.
Mr. Speaker: Statements by the ministry.
THUNDER BAY SKI JUMPS
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, I wish to table today in the House, in response to the question raised last week, the lease for the Thunder Bay Ski Jumps Limited.
By a lease dated September 1, 1973, registered with the land titles office in Thunder Bay, Thunder Bay Ski Jumps Limited leases approximately 85 acres from Little Norway Ski Resort Limited and from an associated company, Lakehead Land Sales Limited, the land upon which the ski jumps are situated. This land is owned by Little Norway Ski Resort Limited and Lakehead Land Sales Limited. The lease is for a period of 21 years less a day commencing September 1, 1973, and terminating August 29, 1994. In addition, the lease gives Thunder Bay Ski Jumps Limited access to an additional 160 acres leased by Little Norway Ski Resort Limited from the Ministry of Natural Resources, Ontario.
Rental is $1 per year plus a percentage of revenue derived from the operation of the ski jumps as determined by agreement between the parties. In addition, Thunder Bay Ski Jumps Limited is to pay an amount equal to the taxes on that part of the land on which the jumps are physically located. The amount of such taxes has not been determined as yet. The parties only within the last two weeks, after many years of negotiations and discussion, have reached agreement as to the amount to be paid to Little Norway Ski Resort Limited as total rent for the period of two years for the two first seasons. That will be $3,500 per year, and for the current year $5,000, making a total payment to Little Norway Ski Resort of $12,000.
During any ski jump meet or practice or training session, the personnel associated with such activities are entitled, without cost, to use all the facilities of Little Norway Ski Resort Limited.
Mr. Speaker, I table these reports.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, just before starting my statement, I think I might draw to the attention of the members of the House that we have another very distinguished guest in the gallery today, the former Minister of Agriculture and Food and member for Middlesex North, William Stewart.
Mr. Nixon: What has happened to the price of hydro since he left the government benches?
Mr. Lewis: Pity he is not still here.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please; order.
Mr. Lewis: I never thought I would say that, but it’s a pity he is not still here.
SCHOOL BUS SAFETY
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, in recent months, I have informed the members of the Legislature that my ministry was carrying out an extensive examination of the transportation system used to carry children to and from school. Those studies have now been completed. As a result, I am now filing regulations setting forth measures to be put into practice as of February 1, 1977. They will primarily improve school bus transportation safety.
One of the main areas of these regulations concerns the school bus driver’s driving record, as well as such operator’s moral character. Thus, as of February 1, any applicant for a school bus licence will be refused should that person’s driving record show more than six demerit points. Further, a licence will be withdrawn from the holder if that person’s driving record shows an accumulation of at least nine demerit points.
Any applicant will be denied a licence to drive a school bus if he or she has had a licence suspension within the past year resulting from a driving offence under The Highway Traffic Act or The Criminal Code. We will also withdraw a school bus operator’s licence should any bus driver be convicted of two or more motor-vehicle-related offences under The Criminal Code of Canada within the past five years.
A licence will also be denied or withdrawn should an applicant or driver have been convicted of a morals offence such as rape or indecent assault or convicted for importing or trafficking in narcotics.
Our reasoning behind these measures takes into consideration that: (a) If a driver is considered a poor risk to drive his or her family car, then that same driver is also an equally poor risk to transport children daily on a school bus. In accepting a licence, a driver must be prepared to accept full responsibility for his or her total driving behaviour, and must be able to and want to drive safely, regardless of the kind of vehicle driven; (b) In the case of the denial or withdrawal of licences because of morals-offence convictions, we owe it to the children being transported daily to see that they are safe in every sense of the word.
In addition to these stipulations, the new regulations set forth that on a one-time basis a defensive driving course or a school bus driver improvement course will be required before a licence is granted to operate a school bus. As a further safety step it will be necessary that an improved type of first-aid kit be carried on every school bus. This kit will be the kit prescribed by the Canadian Standards Association for school buses.
Mr. Speaker, I trust you will agree that these regulations will help increase the safety and efficiency of what is already an excellent school bus operating system. I feel the school bus qualification programme should have no effect upon the drivers who have maintained a good driving record or those who have no morals-offence conviction. The end result, I am convinced, will be to encourage our present highly competent Ontario school bus drivers of good character to continue to drive safely because they want to drive safely.
Mr. Speaker: Oral questions.
POLLUTION CONTROL ORDERS
Mr. Lewis: I have a question initially, Mr. Speaker, for the Minister of the Environment. Against how many individual companies and pulp and paper mills has the minister placed control orders, ministerial orders, from his ministry, consequent upon the emergence of his reports on pollution abatement?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: The placing of control orders is something that is going on continuously. As one control order matures -- as the deadline, the final date, approaches -- then the new control order is negotiated with the company.
At the present time there are eight control orders on eight different plants. There are five companies that have met our emission standards, our effluent quality standards. They are over and above the eight, so they did not have control orders because they have in fact satisfied my ministry as to the quality of effluent being deposited in the receiving waters.
There are 12 at the present time that are being negotiated, are in the state of expiring, or are in arrears and new dates are being negotiated so that our quality and our standards can be met in times that the companies say they can in fact meet.
Mr. Lewis: Over and above the eight and the five?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Yes.
Mr. Lewis: Supplementary question then: Is it not a matter of some concern to the minister -- perhaps even embarrassment -- that of the 20 control orders which he was required to place against a number of companies, one of the two companies in Ontario which necessitated the laying of a charge for non-compliance is the Reed Paper company? Does it not cause the minister some concern that that is the same company with which the government is now negotiating this memorandum of understanding for such a vast tract of land in northwestern Ontario and another mill, given the extraordinary record it has of environmental pollution in that part of the province?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: For one thing, the mill at Dryden is a very old mill; it’s over 60 years old. There has been a series of control orders against that particular mill. The company has spent a substantial amount of money since 1965 in attempting to treat its emissions. As the hon. member knows, just recently it completely changed its manufacturing process to get rid of mercury. That was an expense to the company.
I’m not trying to make any excuses for the company. The reason we’ve taken action and laid charges under The Environmental Protection Act is because the company is substantially in arrears in respect to its existing control order. I don’t think the history of the Dryden plant really should in any way affect our negotiations in respect to other development in northwestern Ontario.
Mr. Lewis: Really?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: I think the important thing here is that maybe the government’s credibility has been enhanced by the fact that we are not lumping these two projects together. If the company is not adhering to our rules and regulations in one part of this province in respect to one of its operations, we will take action. The same goes as far as the environmental assessment procedure is concerned; if that company doesn’t comply with that, if we don’t get a proper impact study, then the development in northwestern Ontario will not go ahead. We are the referees, we are the monitors. We will make sure that the company --
Mr. Deans: You are also the apologists.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: -- regardless of what it does or where it is, will adhere to our rules and regulations.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Nixon: I would like to ask the minister, Mr. Speaker, would it be true to say that most of those control orders to which he referred in his original answer were placed on these paper companies in his original tenure as the minister responsible for this particular responsibility? Would it further be fair to say that hardly any of the old mills, if in fact any, have come up to the standards where the orders are being fully complied with?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, certainly there were a number of control orders renegotiated between 1972 and 1975. As hon. members will recall, about a year ago most of the plants were on strike, they were closed down. Shortly after being appointed to the ministry, a little over a year ago --
Mr. Nixon: They had a fairly clean period of time when they weren’t operating, is that right?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: -- I asked my ministry to give information on the state of the pulp and paper industry in Ontario. At that time, as a result of questions from the hon. member from Thunder Bay, we did some analysis in areas where plants were shut down for a period of time and we were able to indicate what improvement there had been in the quality of water. After the plants were back in operation we were again able to analyse and test, and we found the deterioration had cropped up again; there hadn’t been any improvement. It was last spring that we planned the three prosecutions that in the last month or so have in fact been laid against the three companies.
Also during that period of time, since May of this year, new control orders were negotiated with companies that as I say either didn’t have it or were behind schedule in respect to abatement equipment and in respect to treatment. I expect there could very well be further prosecutions in other parts of the province in a very short period of time.
That is the programme that has in fact gone on in the past 12 or 14 months. I am determined that the pulp and paper industry, in view of the report in Wawa which the hon. member talked about, which indicates that in fact they can economically adhere to our control orders --
Mr. Lewis: Precisely.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: -- that is what we intend to have them do.
Mr. Angus: Supplementary: Could the minister advise the House how often between 1970 and 1975 the figures were updated in order to make the ministry aware of the changes?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Is that updated in respect of individual mills?
Mr. Angus: That is correct.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Again, Mr. Speaker, I don’t have that information before me but certainly regional offices, and I think the hon. member has that information, are continuously monitoring the effluent from the various mills within their regions. That is necessary, in the event there is a control order in effect, to enable us to monitor the control order, to make sure the companies are in compliance with schedule dates that are part of a control order over a four- or a five-year period. I can’t give the member the exact information as to the actual timing of the monitoring.
POLLUTION OF LAKE SUPERIOR
Mr. Lewis: A related question, if I could: Has American Can at Marathon been pumping mercury into Lake Superior -- and I wasn’t really, I must admit, familiar with it -- for many years now? How has that been allowed to continue, given the experience of the English-Wabigoon river system? Was there no way of stepping in and preventing this, given the nature of Lake Superior as one of the last remaining lakes which isn’t significantly contaminated?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, when we discovered the source of mercury contamination, five years or so ago, each chloralkali plant, and each plant associated with the mercury process, was required to eliminate mercury emission. American Can was one of those companies.
Unlike other companies, it only halved the amount that was going into the receiving water. There is no question the company reduced the amount it was losing in 1971 and 1972, but still in 1975 and 1976 it was losing too much. It hadn’t done as well as other companies which have a minimal loss that is not of concern to us -- such as Dryden, which has eliminated it altogether. American Can did improve its loss of mercury, but not enough, and because of the concern that that in fact was the last plant that was a mercury problem, we took action against it.
Mr. Lewis: A question to the Minister of Natural Resources: When the minister was negotiating the memorandum of understanding with the Reed Paper company, did he know the Ministry of the Environment was about to lay 10 separate charges against that company for violations under The Environmental Protection Act? Did he know the Reed Paper company has the single worst experience record of dumping organic matter into the Wabigoon system from 1970 to 1975 -- the single worst increase of any one of the 31 pulp and paper mills in Ontario -- and did that not give him some pause?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Certainly, as the local member who represents that great part of Ontario I am very familiar with the Dryden paper operation. One would have to be totally blind not to be able to see as one passed by that particular plant and other paper companies in the province of Ontario that there was a problem.
I was very much aware that a ministerial order had been placed on that particular plant. I was not aware that charges were pending against the Reed Paper company.
Mr. Lewis: As a cabinet minister, did the minister know that the depletion of oxygen in the system, the dumping of the organic matters on Reed’s part, was the worst record of increase from 1970 to 1975 for Ontario, or had that not been drawn to his attention?
Hon. Mr. Bernier: Specifically it had not.
FOREST MANAGEMENT POLICIES
Mr. Lewis: May I ask a question of the Premier, Mr. Speaker? Given what is emerging about the forest resources generally, does the Premier not think it would be wise to bring our forest management practices up to par, our regeneration policies up to need and our pulp and paper environmental pollution under control before we contemplate any further alienation of 19,000 square miles of northwestern Ontario? Is that too much to ask?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I would have thought the Leader of the Opposition would have had a greater degree of understanding of our discussions in the past month or so because I recall them very clearly. He may not recall what he has said but I recall what I have said and he usually listens and tries to understand.
I have made it abundantly clear that the proposed development in northwestern Ontario will be a subject for the environmental review or assessment board. It will meet the environmental requirements of the Ministry of the Environment, which requirements, incidentally -- and I say this with great respect to my colleague, the premier of British Columbia who is with us today -- which requirements are probably the toughest anywhere in Canada. This government has, in this industry as well as other industries, introduced policies and control mechanisms which I suggest are once again superior to those of most other jurisdictions where in fact a number of the industries have met these control orders -- not all of them -- and where they have not, we have not hesitated to prosecute.
I would just hope the Leader of the Opposition, who in one moment says we aren’t doing enough to create jobs, understands that part of our responsibility in this House is to continue to stimulate economic growth in this province, including northwestern Ontario. We will discharge our responsibilities, creating a new mill in the northwest. It is a little different problem -- it may come as a shock to him -- to solve the problem of a plant that has been existing some 60 years. I am not going to defend Reed, Abitibi or anyone else, but neither am I going to stand in the way --
Mr. Lewis: It is not their fault. It is the government’s fault.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Davis: -- of something that makes sense, that is reasonable, that meets the public interest. I would say to the Leader of the Opposition, no, we cannot stop the world and say, “Let’s all get off for a two-, three- or five-year period of time,” because there are thousands of people in this province who need jobs and I happen to be going to do my best to see that they get them.
Mr. Mancini: When is the election?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Why don’t you ask your colleague right over there who supports it entirely? Don’t you, Jack?
Mr. Lewis: At any cost, at any cost; yes.
Hon. Mr. Davis: No, I didn’t say that.
Mr. Speaker: Does the Leader of the Opposition have further questions?
Mr. Lewis: You will go through the environmental hearings, I don’t dispute that. It is the way you talk about economic growth and jobs.
Hon. Mr. Davis: On a point of order: I am prepared to give and take in this Legislature and we have a bit of fun, but at no time did I say “at any cost.” I said specifically it will be done if it satisfies the public interest, and that includes environmental concern. The Leader of the Opposition knows darn well I have said this a number of times. It is totally irresponsible of him, misleading to the House and to the public, to create any other impression.
Mr. Ferrier: Why not answer the question for a change?
Mr. Singer: That is not a point of order.
Mr. Breithaupt: That is no point of order.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Lewis: That is because the Premier and his government are being harassed about this all over the province; people know what is happening in forest management in Ontario.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. This is not the time for a debate. We have had 15 minutes of the question period. Is there another question from the Leader of the Opposition?
Mr. Lewis: No.
Mr. Breithaupt: I hate to intrude in this discussion across the floor.
Mr. Nixon: Did the Speaker ever decide whether that was a point of order or not? You normally let us know when you think they are points of order.
OHTB BUS LICENCE
Mr. Breithaupt: A question of the Minister of Transportation and Communications with respect to the Greyhound-Gray Coach matter: Does the minister recall receiving a letter from his colleague the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough), dated March 15, with respect to the operation of Chatham Coach Lines in which the Treasurer said: “Apparently the board ruling states that the board has considered the principle of free enterprise with a test of public convenience, etcetera. The reference to free enterprise has bothered a number of the present bus line owners, and I can appreciate their view; bus services have always been controlled to maximize benefits to the public.” Does the minister recall receiving that letter?
Hon. Mr. Snow: Yes, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Breithaupt: Was the Treasurer wrong in his point of view, or has there in fact been a change of policy from the public need and necessity that has gone on in the past, as the Treasurer has suggested?
Hon. Mr. Snow: No, I don’t think there is any change of policy, or I don’t think the events relating to the Greyhound-Gray Coach Lines application are in any way in conflict with what the Treasurer has stated. If I may, I’d like to put on the record the views of a number of organizations that have, over the weekend, taken the trouble to send me telegrams to give me their views on the particular application.
Mr. Breithaupt: We can revert to statements if the minister wishes, I suppose.
Mr. Speaker: Is this a lengthy statement?
Hon. Mr. Snow: It may take a moment, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Singer: Why doesn’t he table the document?
Mr. Speaker: We will have to judge whether it is a ministerial statement or not. Is it two or three minutes long?
Hon. Mr. Snow: It may be more than that.
Mr. Speaker: We will have to have the permission of the House to revert to statements then. Do we have permission?
Some hon. members: No.
Mr. Speaker: Apparently not.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Members don’t want to hear the facts.
Mr. Nixon: Table the document from Eddie Goodman and the one from John Robarts.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Is there a further question?
Mr. Breithaupt: Yes, if the minister wishes to respond, using up further time in the question period, please go ahead. We would like the information.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I will try to be as brief as I can.
This is a telegram I received:
“We, the members of local 1415 of the Amalgamated Transit Union of Windsor, strongly support the Ontario Highway Transport Board.” Signed Louis Welch, president. That is not the complete telegram but it is the main content.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Members know where that is from.
Hon. Mr. Snow: “We the members of the Amalgamated Transit Union, local 1374, Sudbury, Ontario, support wholeheartedly the decision of the Highway Transport Board in the granting of a certificate to Greyhound Lines of Canada, which will improve service to the people of the north and result in added employment.” Signed E. L. Gleason, chairman, local 1374.
Mr. Sweeney: Do you have one there from the riders? How about the people who ride the bus?
Mr. Singer: Do you have one there from your riding president?
Hon. Mr. Snow: “Dear Mr. Minister. The town of Kenora’s position with respect to Greyhound Canada application for doubling the passenger bus service on Trans-Canada Highway remains unchanged. Kenora supports decision of Highway Transport Board by giving approval to Greyhound application.”
“By resolution dated March 22, 1976, the Sault Ste. Marie and District Chamber of Commerce supports the application by Greyhound Bus Lines of Canada Limited to improve carrier service from Sudbury to Toronto, which would be of great benefit to the citizens of Sault Ste. Marie area -- ”
Mr. Sweeney: Government by telegram -- it’s a great change.
Hon. Mr. Snow: “We understand that the licence for this additional service is presently being challenged and we take exception to any disruption in regard to this proposed service. J. B. Chambers, president.”
Hon. Mr. Davis: You people have written off the Sault, haven’t you?
Hon. Mr. Snow: “The council of the town of Dryden strenuously opposes the appeal of Toronto Transit-Gray Coach Lines to award made by Ontario Highway Transport Board to Greyhound Lines of Canada to operate regular bus service from Sudbury to Toronto in conjunction with Greyhound’s existing routes from Sudbury west along Highway 17 to western Canada. The towns and communities in northwestern Ontario are remotely distant to the large urban centres and the additional bus service frequency is urgently required where transportation plays a major role in communication and the amenities of life. George Rowat, mayor of the town of Dryden.”
Some hon. members: Great fellow -- a Liberal too.
Hon. Mr. Snow: This one, I think, deserves reading into the record: “The entire membership of the Amalgamated Transit Union local 1374 in Ontario strongly supports the Ontario Highway Transport Board’s decision granting licence to Greyhound Lines for additional service through Toronto. This will result in added additional service and added employment on all routes of Greyhound Lines across Ontario. S. R. Snowdon, Canadian international vice-president, Amalgamated Transit Union.”
Mr. Singer: Is that your brother?
Mr. Speaker: Would it be possible for the hon. minister to summarize the balance of the telegrams?
Hon. Mr. Davis: Oh, they make such good reading.
Mr. Speaker: They’re somewhat repetitive.
Hon. Mr. Davis: We just want you to know there’s another side to some of these stories.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Snow: This one is from councillor Ragner Larzo of the town of Nipigon --
Hon. Mr. Davis: Ah Jack, be careful; that’s in your riding.
Hon. Mr. Snow: -- and is very strongly in support of the Highway Transport Board’s decision.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Jack is very strongly in support of this.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I have another telegram: “The recent wise decision of the Ontario Transport Board to extend the licence of Greyhound and extending their service on Highway 17 is beneficial to all the residents of northwestern Ontario . . .” I won’t read the rest of it.
Mr. Singer: Oh, come on.
Mr. Sweeney: Some days are better than this.
Hon. Mr. Snow: That is signed by Mr. Walter M. Assef, mayor of the city of Thunder Bay.
“The membership of the Thunder Bay, Ontario, sub-local of the Amalgamated Transit Union, local 1374, unanimously supports the decision of the Highway Transport Board.”
Hon. Mr. Davis: Where’s Mike Cassidy today? He should hear all this.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Another rather lengthy one from Mr. R. L. Borden, president of Greyhound Lines, which states that the decision of the board will mean 130 new jobs in Ontario and an investment --
Mr. Singer: He is in favour of the decision, is he? He was the applicant.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We’re wasting time.
Mr. Singer: Order? At this point you have the nerve to ask for order? Is he in order? Is that in order, Mr. Speaker?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please!
Hon. Mr. Snow: I believe it also says it will mean some $11 million in new investment.
I would add that those are all of the telegrams that I have received. There have been no telegrams or correspondence that I have received in opposition to the decision.
Mr. Breithaupt: Following the letter that the minister received on March 16 from the Ontario Motor Coach Association, did the minister meet with the members for that association to assure them that apparently there was no change in the policy, as -- I quote from that letter to the minister -- “recent decisions of the OHTB applications presently before it, as well as rumours and gossip with which the industry is rife, appear to provide some foundation for the above feeling” -- that is, the matter of the fundamental policy change?
Hon. Mr. Snow: Yes, I received that letter. My deputy minister and I met with the executive of the Ontario Motor Coach Association following that letter, and had a very good meeting.
I must say again, as I said several times last week, there has been no change in policy as far as dealing with applications by the Ontario Highway Transport Board is concerned. The difference, I believe, if there is a difference, is the fact that motor-coach operators or the bus companies, however we wish to refer to them, have made application to the board to overrun routes of other bus companies. I think if one goes back over the years, there have not been very many applications made by one operator for running rights over a route served by another operator. I think the business has been growing tremendously in this past number of years. There is a demand by the public for better service and, consequently, the more aggressive operators have been applying for additional routes.
Mr. Breithaupt: They are overrunning those routes the way the Russian army overran Berlin.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Haggerty: Is the minister aware, Mr. Speaker, of the adverse effect this will have on the bus operations of Gray Coach from Buffalo to Toronto, which has about five runs a day leaving Fort Erie, and that there is a possibility of a loss of employment in this particular area through the decision of the Transport Board to allow Greyhound Bus Lines to travel from Buffalo to Toronto, perhaps giving them more leeway than usual, when there is already a reciprocal agreement between Greyhound and Gray Coach here in Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Snow: There’s nothing to lead me to believe there will be any loss of employment as far as Gray Coach Lines is concerned. The chairman of the Highway Transport Board states, in his written decision, that the passengers carried by Gray Coach Lines on the route in question amount to only four per cent of the overall volume of passengers on its system. As I stated the other day, if the Highway Transport Board were to base its decisions solely on the criterion of not allowing competition in the bus business, there would really be little or no reason to have the Highway Transport Board consider applications.
Mr. Breithaupt: A further question, really dealing with the same matter, with respect to the comments the minister made on Friday stating that the process in his ministry on the presentation of an operating certificate would be to issue an operating licence: Can the minister advise whether that licence has been issued and whether Greyhound is already in operation within the province?
Hon. Mr. Snow: The licence has not been issued yet. I asked my staff to withhold issuing the licence until I had an opportunity to read the decision handed down by the board. In the past few days, I have had an opportunity to do that and to consider fully the written decision of the chairman. As far as I’m concerned, I have no further reason to withhold the issuance of that licence so it will probably be issued within the next day or two.
Mr. Breithaupt: Is Greyhound in operation now?
Hon. Mr. Snow: Greyhound has been in operation for a great number of years, I believe.
Mr. Breithaupt: In this circumstance?
Hon. Mr. Snow: No, of course they’ve not in operation on these routes. They have not been issued the licence.
Mr. Breithaupt: Thank you for the answer.
Mr. Cunningham: What is the process by which the minister communicates government policy to the Highway Transport Board?
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The question had to do with the date of issue of the licence, not the overall policy. Are there further questions?
Mr. Breithaupt: Has the Premier responded to the telegram sent to him by Gray Coach concerning this particular decision? Will he share the content of his reply with the House?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I don’t think I have replied to Gray Coach as a result of the telegram. As I recall the telegram I think it suggested the company would like to have a meeting. I will be suggesting to the company that I think it would be unwise to have a meeting if, by chance, it has launched an appeal -- and it may have already; I haven’t checked today. As the hon. member would know better than some and better than I because he’s been in the courts more recently than I have, it would be sort of like a judge listening to one of the litigants prior to an appeal. Whatever communication I make to Gray Coach, the TTC, Mr. Mallette and others, I think it will have to be on the basis, that I’m always prepared to meet with anybody on occasion if possible.
Mr. Peterson: That is what I like about you.
Hon. Mr. Davis: But in this particular instance, I think such a meeting would not be wise.
OHIP COVERAGE OF OPTOMETRY SERVICES
Mr. Breithaupt: A question of the Minister of Health: Is the minister aware of concerns expressed by optometrists that they are unable to bill OHIP for contact-lens therapy, a procedure which ophthalmologists can and do bill OHIP for, and does he have any plans to rectify this situation?
Hon. F. S. Miller: We have a number of professions who by training are able to do things we currently pay for if they are done by physicians. Optometrists fit in that category. I believe they have made significant gains since I became minister since they are now paid the same rate for refractions as ophthalmologists are. They may do them as often as ophthalmologists do, rather than once a year, as they did when I started. The question of contact-lens fitting is another one of those areas where both are qualified to do it.
I’m certainly willing to consider this and I believe my staff within the last two days have been talking about it with the optometrists. I assume I’ll be getting advice from them, and their recommendations, shortly.
UNIVERSITY ENROLMENT DATA
Hon. Mr. Parrott: On November 9 the member for Peterborough asked me a question concerning the use of certain statistical data relating to university enrolments. The Leader of the Opposition also asked a supplementary question.
I have agreed to write to the hon. members with full details. However, I would like to assure them at this time that civil servants who handle the raw data are required to take an oath of office and, therefore, secrecy. Moreover, when the statistical tabulations are prepared, a rounding procedure is used so that it is impossible to identify individual persons. In July of this year, a letter was sent to all university presidents by my assistant deputy minister which gave them an opportunity of objecting to the procedures to be used in connection with the data. No objection has been voiced to this date.
I trust the written details I am making available to the hon. members will alleviate their concerns. I shall be happy to supply any further information they may require.
DEATHS OF MINISTRY WARDS
Ms. Sandeman: I have a question for the Provincial Secretary for Social Development. When the minister was making her visit to training schools during the summer, did the staff of the Ministry of Correctional Services and of the training schools make her aware of the fact that nine children had died in training schools during the previous year?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: No, they did not.
Ms. Sandeman: Supplementary: Would the minister then perhaps take it upon herself to report to the House on the causes of death of those children, whether or not inquests were called in each case, the training schools at which the deaths took place and the relationship, if any, between those nine deaths this last year and the 10 deaths that took place in training schools in the previous year?
Hon. Mrs. Birch: I would most respectfully suggest that the hon. member direct those questions to the Minister of Correctional Services (Mr. J. R. Smith).
Mr. Nixon: I would like to put a question to the Minister of Housing, having to do with the timing of the new city in Townsend. Since the Steel Company of Canada has decided to further postpone its development in the Nanticoke area, is he giving any further consideration to the resolution from the Haldimand-Norfolk regional council asking for a new timetable and a new schedule for the undertaking of the housing sites in the Townsend area?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I indicated at the time I received the telegram followed by a letter from the regional council that I was prepared to meet with them and I would certainly do so. I have not heard anything further from them other than what I’ve read in the press as they congratulated themselves on a good move, making it appear they weren’t really aware of what was going to happen at Nanticoke.
I’m waiting until they contact me and I have a feeling the regional council members have thought it wise to wait until after December 6, at which time they will contact me, and I’m sure we will have a meeting.
Mr. Nixon: Supplementary: Since the Minister of Housing might feel it wise to wait until after May 18, 1977, or some such date, wouldn’t he think that since their resolution was quite specific in asking for a postponement, that he should do something more than just have what we might call a facetious reaction in the House? There is a specific request backed up by the action of the Steel Company of Canada. Now that the minister has a report -- for which his ministry paid good taxpayers’ dollars -- calling for a postponement, why doesn’t he come down with a new timetable?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Mr. Speaker, I regret the hon. member feels I was being facetious. Perhaps I was and I apologize for that. I do think the meeting I had planned to hold with the regional council was to discuss all the aspects of their request for a postponement or a delay or a study of the timing of the whole project.
Certainly the notification I received from the regional council was prior to the announcement by the Steel Company of Canada that there would be a further delay. All these factors are being looked at now by people who are on the team working in the area. We are having staff contacts with the region and without sounding facetious, I do think they will meet with me after December 6.
Mr. Nixon: Not after May 17.
Mr. Makarchuk: A supplementary to the same minister: Is the minister aware that a postponement of the development of the Townsend site would mean the cost of housing would jump by something like $10,000 per unit?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: No, I don’t think I could say I’m aware that that is the sort of jump it would take. I’d be interested in seeing the hon. member’s figures if he has them.
Mr. Nixon: Nobody in his right mind could be aware of it.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: We are going to meet with the people in the area who are specifically concerned. The regional council has indicated it wants to discuss this matter with us and, as a result of the announcement by Stelco, I think we must discuss it with them after, I suggest, December 6 and before May 17 or 18.
Mr. Nixon: There are 10,000 serviced lots sitting down there.
SUICIDES IN PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITALS
Mr. Godfrey: A question to the Minister of Health, Mr. Speaker: In view of public concern in the Durham region about a series of recent events, will the minister be prepared to investigate and present a report on the abnormally high number of suicides at the Whitby Psychiatric Hospital?
Hon. F. S. Miller: Mr. Speaker, I took the time today, assuming somebody might want to ask that question, to review the statistics for suicides in Ontario and suicides within the psychiatric institutions in general.
Mr. Mancini: Nice of you.
Hon. F. S. Miller: It is interesting that for some reason Whitby has had a higher number of suicides in the year 1976 to date than it has had, I think, in any previous year in its history.
The total number of suicides, though, within the institutions of the province has not varied significantly when compared with those outside. There has been a gradual increase both in and outside institutions. I would say there is more variation among institutions than there is in the total.
We are, of course, looking into the reasons as to why that particular one should have changed its relative position. The year before the psychiatric hospital with the greatest number was Queen Street in Toronto. It had 14. It dropped from 14 to four in this present year. We’ve had a dramatic decrease in one.
Interestingly enough -- and I haven’t as yet found out if there’s an assignable cause -- the administrator of Whitby has just moved to Queen Street. I’m looking into that. He was at both institutions at the low period of their reactions. While we’re looking for an assignable cause, the total figures don’t appear to be out of line in context.
Mr. Godfrey: A supplementary: I am not accepting those figures because they do not refer to a community psychiatric hospital but rather to hospitals as a whole. In my initial question I asked if he’d be prepared to present a report on recent events. Does he have figures on the number of fires which have been set at psychiatric institutions, that being one of the recent events I referred to?
Hon. F. S. Miller: No, I don’t. I can easily get the member almost any statistic he wishes. I just happened to have the ones on suicides within these institutions; my figures are not simply for the psychiatric hospitals but for all suicides in the province.
Mr. Godfrey: General hospitals are included in those figures --
Hon. F. S. Miller: All suicides.
Mr. Godfrey: -- the minister has not segregated community psychiatric hospitals.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We’ll have a final supplementary.
Mr. Dukszta: I wasn’t quite clear whether the minister gave the specific number of suicides occurring in Whitby. My information suggests there were 10 this year in comparison with two last year. Could he comment on, one, whether the figures are correct, and two, if they are correct, is he prepared to set up a commission to investigate it?
Hon. F. S. Miller: Yes, the figures are correct -- two last year, 10 this year. It is just as true that there were 14 in Queen Street last year and four this year. What I’m trying to say is that there is more variation between institutions in successive years than in the sum total within institutions.
Sure I’ll look into it. Obviously if we’re having an increase in any one, we would like to know whether there is an assignable cause -- lack of supervision, change in treatment methods, greater freedom for patients, whatever it may be. We were looking for it even before the questions were asked.
Mr. Lewis: The civil service gives you the phrase “assignable cause,” you use it yourself.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
HYDRO NIAGARA ESCARPMENT LEASE
Mr. McKessock: Mr. Speaker, a question of the Minister of Energy: In view of the recent announcement that Ontario Hydro has leased 1,000 acres of land to Georgian Peaks Resorts in the Thornbury area, is Hydro still interested in this land for what it originally bought it for -- a pump storage generating station -- and if so when?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I gave a commitment on Thursday to the member for Scarborough West to come back with further information. I have some information but it is incomplete at this point so perhaps I can answer the total question in more detail in a couple of days. But Hydro has no plans at this point to develop that site for a pump storage station.
Mr. McKessock: A supplementary question: In view of the fact the announcement also said there would be a marina and a golf course developed there, and in view of the fact that Georgian Peaks doesn’t own any waterfront property, is Hydro going to allow this property to be developed?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Again, that’s a question of detail which I would like to cover in a couple of days’ time when I have all the information assembled.
Mr. Philip: A question of the Minister of Labour, Mr. Speaker: Subsequent to my question of November 18 and subsequent to the resolution sent to the minister by the board of control of the borough of Etobicoke, what action, if any, has the minister taken to persuade Miami-Carey to make first-refusal job offers at the new plant in Barrie to the Rexdale plant workers?
Hon. B. Stephenson: On three occasions last week I attempted to provide the answer to the hon. member’s question but there was not sufficient time at the end of question period apparently.
We have been discussing this with representatives of Miami-Carey. We have obtained from them the factual reason for their move to Barrie which is that they will be amalgamating their plant and will be able to function more economically with one establishment than they could with three divided establishments in Etobicoke. They feel they will be able to pass on the improvement to the consumer and probably to the employees.
We have, as well, signed a memorandum of manpower adjustment with the federal government and with that company as of a few days ago and the employers are functioning actively in that adjustment committee with the hope of persuading some of the employees to move to Barrie, although I gather that not all of them will. The employment adjustment service of my ministry is actively involved in this.
Mr. Philip: A supplementary: I wonder if the minister can tell us whether or not the employees to whom they will be offering jobs will be only the non-unionized office workers or whether those involved in the UEW will also be offered positions? I wonder if she would care to comment on her statement last week that she is examining the possibility of amending The Labour Relations Act to allow for successor rights in cases like this where a plant is literally transferred from one location to another within Ontario?
Hon. B. Stephenson: As I said two weeks ago, as a matter of fact, in the midst of our estimates, we are examining The Labour Relations Act and looking specifically at this item. I have no proposal to bring in at this time but it’s certainly one of the subjects being looked at very carefully within The Labour Relations Act.
It is my understanding that the manpower adjustment incentive situation applies to all the employees within the plant, not just to the office workers. Indeed, the company is interested in having some of those workers transfer to Barrie.
SENIOR CITIZENS’ RENT INCREASE
Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Housing. Does the minister not agree that the 28 per cent increase effective January 1, 1977, in the cost of the food portion of the rental rate of the senior citizens living at 415 University Avenue East in Windsor, the residence quite often referred to as “the hostel,” is unwarranted in light of the fact that the cost-of-food index has not increased over the past year?
While I am on my feet may I add a supplementary so that the minister can reply to both? Does the minister not agree that an increase of $27, from $96 per month to $123 per month, is substantially greater than the guidelines set down by the AIB and the rent review board, and would not a phasing-in of any increase be a fairer way of implementing increases if any are absolutely necessary?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I am afraid the hon. member has me at a distinct disadvantage. I wasn’t aware this particular increase was going into effect. I would be pleased to receive the details from him and I will inquire into what is happening. I hadn’t heard about it until the hon. member mentioned it at this moment.
Mr. Speaker: The oral question period has expired.
Hon. Mr. Welch moved that the following substitutions be made on committees of the House: Mr. McCague for Mr. Evans on the resources development committee; Mr. Grossman for Mr. Kennedy on the administration of justice committee; Mr. Kennedy for Mr. Grossman on the social development committee; Mr. Shore for Mr. McNeil on the public accounts committee, and Mr. Jones for Mr. Norton on the highway safety committee.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Speaker: Introduction of bills.
FARM PRODUCTS GRADES AND SALES AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Grossman moved first reading of Bill 175, An Act to amend The Farm Products Grades and Sales Act.
Motion agreed to.
Mr. Grossman: The purpose of this bill would be to increase the maximum fine a court may levy against those persons selling, for example, decayed food, to $1,000 for a first offence, and in the case of a corporation raising the maximum from $100 for the first offence to $10,000.
Mr. Speaker: Orders of the day.
BUDGET DEBATE (CONTINUED)
Resumption of the adjourned debate on the amendment to the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.
Hon. Mr. Kerr: The Leader of the Opposition should be here all day. I am going to my estimates.
Mr. Lewis: Let the Minister of the Environment go to his estimates and I will deal with him in the House.
I want to thank my colleague from Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart) for having been kind enough to relinquish his remarks midway, as it were, to allow me to enter the debate at this moment since later might not be either convenient or appropriate. I would also like to thank the House leader for his willingness to assist in making that accommodation, and the House leader of the Liberal Party as well. I do appreciate it.
One of the reasons was that I wanted the opportunity to make some remarks now in the budget debate on behalf of my party well in advance of the vote on Thursday -- this Thursday next, I believe? No?
Hon. Mr. Welch: It has not been decided yet.
Mr. Breithaupt: Soon.
Mr. Lewis: I am sorry. I wanted to make them well in advance of the vote that is soon coming. I am pleased to hear it may not be as soon as Thursday. I would like to move a subamendment to our amendment -- what do you think of that? -- which is carefully cleared in advance and different in content in order to demonstrate to the Legislature some changes in perspectives and comments which we have on the events of the last several months.
Put very simply, if I may, since the original introduction of the budget a number of issues appear to us to have arisen and remain unresolved. A number of issues about which we felt strongly -- like farm land, I say to the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. W. Newman), with which I will deal momentarily -- have maintained themselves at a level without resolution.
I would like, on behalf of my caucus colleagues and party, to put today, briefly, four of those issues; and to highlight them by way of a further subamendment to the budget motion so that when the vote comes it will be seen essentially for the non-confidence motion which it is.
The four areas which I want to make reference to are: One, rent control and rent administration; two, the protection of agricultural land in Ontario; three, the intended Reed Paper transaction; and four, the question of the creation of jobs in the province of Ontario, particularly as it flows from the mini-budget or the mini-financial statement, or balance sheet or however it is described, which the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) tabled last week. I shall not waste time.
First, rent control and rent administration: The New Democratic Party remains in spirited opposition to the government on two fundamental grounds around the question of rents. First, the refusal of the government to give a guarantee, in advance, of the nature of the extension which it will provide for rent control after July 31, 1977. We are most concerned about that.
Second, we are most concerned that the whole process and experience of rent administration under the Act which we passed in this Legislature has been so manhandled by the government that it throws the rent review process into serious disrepute and cries out for reform of a number of kinds. On the question of rent review and rent control, what we want and need from the government is an indication, before this session adjourns in the middle of December, of the kind of legislation the government intends to bring in in the spring -- if it does -- which will prolong rent review or rent control beyond July 31, 1977.
As a matter of fact, if I may say so, since the landlords will prepare their rent increases in April, since those rent increases must be provided on May 1 in order to give the 90-day period required by law prior to an increase in rent which would bring us to August 1, 1977, it is absolutely obligatory that the government’s rent control process be introduced now, effective August 1, 1977, rather than wait for the New Year. What we are effectively doing, with respect, is avoiding provision of the assurance, which tenants need all across Ontario, that terms of the agreements and the contracts which they will sign in the latter half of 1977 will be fair rather than discriminatory.
I don’t care how many times the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Mr. Handleman) stands in this House and says the government made a commitment, if there is no law the commitment is without force. There must somehow be legislation which we know of at this point in time.
Along with the utter irresponsibility of refusing to provide for us an indication of what kinds of controls and reviews the government will continue beyond July 31, 1977, along with that utter irresponsibility, is the irresponsibility of the tears and holes in the rental administrative curtain as it now exists. We have, in this caucus, received an untold number of letters and petitions and submissions about the maladministration of the rent review programme.
We’ve noted, in a whole variety of ways: That it is absurd to continue rent review on a unit by unit basis in one given building when the building as a whole can be brought under rent review; that it is absurd that there isn’t a tenant’s guide to consecrate in writing the rights of the tenant, as there is a guide for rent review officers and for landlords. We feel that it continues to be absurd that there are no ministry guidelines to rent review officers which are binding and are part of the regulations under The Rent Review Act. It continues to be absurd that there is no standard lease applicable across the province of Ontario which will give tenants protection. We continue to feel it absurd that so many rent review officers are using discretionary powers in a way which is positively distasteful and clearly inequitable as it applies to the tenants -- and those cases have been chronicled publicly.
In other words we are determined that the review, the application of the rental administration procedure, be reformed. And that, along with rent control, seems to us to be an obligation of this session rather than of the next.
May I say, Mr. Speaker, through you to the House leader, that the New Democratic Party does not believe that those rent controls should be lifted until there is an adequate supply of rental accommodation in the province of Ontario. More than that, if, as the government argues, the cost of living index has in fact come down in their terms; and if, as in fact the Anti-Inflation Board argues, wage settlements must now be contained within a level of six per cent in the next year; then it seems to us that not only should rent control be extended but that the percentage increase allowable by law should also be dropped to nearer the alleged drop in other sectors of the society.
Let us face it, that six per cent, of course, will not deny the landlords the right to take more if they can simply prove to the rent review officer or tribunal or whatever that they are so entitled, as they’ve been allowed to do up until now.
In other words, the whole question of the way in which the government has approached rents mirrors its own ambivalence and its own ambiguity about a Conservative approach to intrusion in this part of the private sector. We fought hard in the last campaign on this matter; we anticipate that we’ll do it again with pleasure if we are driven to that.
We say to the government that it is wrong and irresponsible not to introduce before the middle of December the kind of extension of rent review which it intends to provide, if at all. And if it does it in the spring, it is inviting enormous problems for a number of tenants whose leases are being renewed on a month to month basis or a six-month basis; and from this government, one would have expected something better.
That’s the first point I wanted to touch on, Mr. Speaker. The second point I want to touch on is the question of farm land in Ontario and its preservation. I’m sorry the Minister of Agriculture and Food had to leave, but I can understand that.
Hon. Mr. Welch: He’ll be back.
Mr. Lewis: To be fair to him, he didn’t know I was going to speak and there’s no reason in the world why he need be here. I will deal with it, however, in his absence, because he can read the record even if he can’t be here to heckle me.
One would think that with the central nature of the farm land issue in the last provincial election in August and September of 1975, the government would somehow have responded -- that in the interim 14-month period it would have been possible for the government to fashion some guidelines within the food land development branch of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, even if the government was not prepared to go so far as we would wish them to go in terms of the designation of prime agricultural land.
The reality is -- and it’s the reason for our raising it again in the twilight period of the budget debate -- the reality is that the government has not only failed to introduce guidelines, the government has not only failed to introduce policy, but the government has failed to protect or has failed to act on protection of the area of the province which is most vulnerable -- and that’s the Niagara Peninsula.
To this day, 14 months later, we still have before the government the request of the regional municipality of Niagara to expand its borders for urban growth. To this day we still do not have a response from the government of the province of Ontario. It is natural, therefore, that the Niagara Peninsula stands as a symbol of all that is wrong with the preservation of food land in Ontario.
Instead of the policy which anyone in his or her right mind would have seen should be forthcoming, the government has attempted, perversely enough, eccentrically enough, to tackle us on our own ground, on the number of acres per hour going out of production. I gather, from what I have heard personally and what I have witnessed generally, that the Premier (Mr. Davis) was agitated by the use of the statistic of 26 acres an hour; and clearly so were a number of leading Conservative lights, not the least of which was the House leader who burns brilliantly all the time.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Just a matter of accuracy.
Mr. Lewis: As a matter of fact, the figures were taken from Statistics Canada for 1966-71 and projected on the assumption there has been no decline in the process; I suspect there may even have been an increase.
What the government has done by way of an attempt to reply is to take a look at the assessment rolls in the province of Ontario and to make an argument about the amount of agricultural land which we have. The Minister of Agriculture and Food has not, as often as he might have, pointed out that there is no comparison between the Statistics Canada figure and the assessment figure. When he does point out that there is a difference in definition between the two, he then goes ahead arid compares them anyway in his own friendly and amiable style. The fact of the matter is that we will know the truth about the 26-acre-an-hour figure when Statistics Canada re-emerges. The interesting phenomenon is that --
Hon. Mr. Welch: He doesn’t have to wait for them.
Hon. W. Newman: You don’t have to wait.
Mr. Lewis: -- Statistics Canada will, I am sure, attempt to facilitate the end of that argument by giving us the data in advance of the next election campaign. Happily that’s the way it works. At some dramatic moment in time between now and then we will know the figures from 1971 to 1976 on the same base.
The Minister of Agriculture and Food points to himself engagingly and implies that the ministry knows them now. What the ministry knows, of course, are the assessment roll figures for agricultural land which include land held by developers but not used for farming, which include vacant lots, which include brush, which include class seven land; which include all kinds of land which of course was not included in the StatCan figures. However, that minor inconsistency aside -- minor only in the mind of a Tory fanatic, lovable though he is --
Hon. Mr. Welch: Withdraw.
Mr. Lewis: Pardon; which one?
Hon. Mr. Welch: Fanatic; withdraw.
Mr. Lewis: I withdraw.
Hon. Mr. Welch: It is dedication, conviction.
Mr. Lewis: I withdraw. Fanaticism is not a quality given to Tories. Myopia, paralysis, almost anything else; but fanaticism, no.
What the Minister of Agriculture and Food has done instead is to make a number of speeches, all of relative insignificance, detailing the question of assessment and the way in which it shows agricultural land available.
May I say through you, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Agriculture and Food that his most significant contribution, if I may say so in that regard, was the speech he made on September 3, 1976, to the agricultural day luncheon at the Canadian National Exhibition. It is a speech which a number of Tory cohorts have picked up and promenaded around the province of Ontario, using essentially the same data and the same statistical evidence.
It’s really interesting that the minister is determined to use assessment figures which he knows give an entirely false, distorted -- certainly distorted -- an entirely distorted picture of what is going on because of the way they can be used. As a matter of fact, I would like to recall the minister’s words -- some that he’s doubtless forgotten, because he wouldn’t wish to recall them, but I’ll do it for him, basically because of generosity. Can I recall for him some statements he made about the absurdity of using these kinds of figures, the figures he’s now employing, because of the essentially distorted pictures they give about agriculture -- using these figures to pretend this is land which can be used.
In Brampton -- Brampton, no less -- before the Board of Trade Farmers’ Night on February 25, 1976, the minister said -- and I quote:
“Incidentally, as another example of the pitfalls inherent in accepting statistics without careful study, you may recall a phenomenon that occurred during provincial reassessment about five years ago.” Ironically, you were dealing with assessments.
“A lot of land owners suddenly recalled that if a property listed as agricultural land lies idle for two years, it becomes liable to residential assessment and higher taxes. You sure saw a frenzy of activity then in the fields around here -- so much, in fact, that assessors still refer to the phenomenon as ‘the greening of Peel.’ That’s not the sort of solid farm production I want to see, of course.”
It’s not the kind of solid farm production the minister wants to see because he knows, being a scrupulously honest man, that the use of those assessment figures in that way gives a totally distorted conception of the quality of agricultural production which is available for those lands.
But let me take the argument on to the minister’s ground even more directly. The minister said -- this is really very interesting -- that in southwestern Ontario, our major agricultural district, there are 5.36 million acres of land currently being farmed. He also said that there are 66,000 acres of agricultural land which remain idle but could be farmed. And he said, in a fashion which struck me as rather sanguine, that that gave about one acre of replacement land for every 100 acres being farmed. He seemed to feel that in the richest belt of the province of Ontario, that was really quite satisfactory. I must say a ratio of one acre to 100 acres being farmed hardly strikes the New Democratic caucus as satisfactory. As a matter of fact, it strikes us as being perilous in the extreme. But if the minister is satisfied with that --
Hon. W. Newman: How can you mislead the House?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: You are not suggesting the speaker is misleading the House?
Hon. W. Newman: No, I am saying he is not telling the whole story, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Lewis: Oh? I will read the direct quote from the CNE speech. I admit I was recalling it. It says:
“In our major agricultural district, southwestern Ontario, we find more than 5.36 million acres being farmed now in 11 counties and regions. Potential food lands that are not being used for farming or anything else amount to more than 66,000 acres or a bit more than one acre in reserve for every 100 acres being farmed. That seems appropriate for an area of intensive agriculture.” Did I mislead? I was absolutely impeccable in conveying the absurdity with which the minister endowed this speech. I didn’t mislead at all.
Hon. W. Newman: Read on. Read the rest of the speech.
Mr. Lewis: I’m going to get to the rest of it. The interesting thing is that the minister is willing to settle for one acre of replacement land for 100 acres of good agricultural --
Hon. W. Newman: I didn’t say “one.”
Mr. Lewis: The minister can throw whatever epithets across the floor he wishes. I won’t dignify them by giving voice to them.
Mr. Deans: The minister is also unparliamentary.
Mr. Lewis: But I want to go on with the analysis. The soil surveys -- and I hope the minister is listening to this -- the soil surveys of that area of southwestern Ontario show a total of class one, class two and class three agricultural land of 5.27 million acres. The Canada Land Inventory and the soil surveys we have show 5.27 million acres. There is a total of 5.36 million acres now being farmed. The reality therefore is that any additional land available is of much lesser worth, much lesser farming durability; to talk about it as though it is an adequate substitute for the present prime agricultural land is so much balderdash. The government has no additional land in southwestern Ontario and if it looked at its Canada Land Inventory maps, it would know that.
Now, let me take you, Mr. Speaker, to the silliest part of this speech, which was from the minister’s point of view the central part. The minister said, Mr. Speaker, that in the “golden horseshoe” area there are 1.45 million acres being farmed and there is a quarter of a million acres in reserve; 1.45 million being farmed, 250,000 acres in reserve.
Now again, we’ve looked at the Canada Land Inventory, we’ve looked at the additional soil studies and we find that class one, two and three land occupies 1.67 million acres of the “golden horseshoe.”
One point four five million acres of it is already being farmed, which means that if there is another 250,000 acres to farm it is all lesser quality land and it is nonsense to talk about it as an alternative to the prime agricultural land we are now farming. And it is exceeding discourteous of the minister, not to say inelegant and misleading, to trot these kinds of figures around Ontario when it amounts to even less than a hill of beans. He doesn’t have the land.
But let’s take the argument a third step. Even if the minister did have the land, has he looked at the cost of the land per acre in the whole Metropolitan Toronto and Niagara region -- he called it the “golden horseshoe” region? Has he looked at the cost per acre?
One of the things we were very fortunate in getting was a private document from the Ministry of Revenue, 1975, which document was used for the Blair commission report in the preparation of material. The unpublished document shows the average 1975 sale prices per acre of farmland in the various areas of the “golden horseshoe.” Can I put the prices on the record?
In Hamilton-Wentworth in 1975, the average price per acre of farm land sold was $1,500; in Niagara, $1,750; in Durham, $2,924; in Halton, $3,859; in York, $4,274; in Peel, $8,672 per acre.
Now the Minister of Agriculture and Food is a man with some farm background. Is he pretending that any farmer anywhere could buy additional land at these prices per acre and make a return on investment? He knows that’s not possible. As a matter of fact -- although I won’t take the time of the House to do it; I’ve done it elsewhere and we will do it all over southern Ontario -- when one takes the costs of production using the Ministry of Agriculture and Food costs with the revenue per acre added in, and if one looks at the carrying costs based on money borrowed, let us say, at nine or 10 per cent, and if one looks at the selling prices based on the monthly crop and livestock report of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, then no matter what commodity one takes, one cannot make it pay at those prices. The minister is pricing farmers right out of their land if he pretends that any of that quarter of a million acres of additional land is really a replacement for what we are now farming.
So what does it all show when you look at it in the context of what has evolved since September of 1975? Number one, the minister is using to chronicle farm lands assessment figures which are distorted from the moment they are employed -- distorted because they use scrub land, development-held land, class seven land, bush land. If that isn’t true then I issue on our behalf, Mr. Speaker, through you to the minister, a challenge right now: Let him table in the Legislature the classes of the reserve land which he talks about. Let him table it in the Legislature.
The minister says publicly, he and the Treasurer, that there is one acre of land in Ontario for every acre presently being farmed. We challenge him to table the classes of that land in the Legislature. We’ll be glad to see it, because the minister knows where that land is and my colleagues from northern Ontario know where that land is. So the use of the assessment figures is distorted from the outset, bears no comparison to Statistics Canada, and gives a totally false impression.
Number two, if we take a look at the areas for which the minister argues there is decent alternative land in southwestern Ontario and the “golden horseshoe,” we find upon analysis, using the Canada Land Inventory and various other data, that any land he may have is of much lesser quality and therefore not a real substitute.
Number three, we find that if we’re dealing with some land which might be farmable, then the purchase price is so high per acre, based on government documents, that one couldn’t possibly make a return on investment no matter whether one did it in corn or in barley or in wheat or in a number of other commodities for which we have made the calculations.
The upshot is, Mr. Speaker, that everything the government has said about agricultural land since September, 1975, is shot through with faulty argument, faulty data, and faulty reasoning, with respect, and when we look at it carefully and scrupulously, this is what emerges.
I say, Mr. Speaker, through you to the minister, with respect, that there remains the most compelling reality of all -- that we simply have to provide some kind of protection.
I continue to say on behalf of my colleagues, Mr. Speaker, that this is not an obsession which is given to the New Democratic Party alone under any circumstances. This is something which is held to by all kinds of groups. I was fascinated, and my colleague the member for York South (Mr. MacDonald) who speaks about these matters constantly, was fascinated, to note that the minister has just received from the Ontario Institute of Agrologists, this very month, yet a further update on their original position, in which they say again: “For these reasons, as well as others developed more fully in our previous statement, we in the institute again urge that the Ontario government immediately takes some further positive steps to preserve for agricultural use land classed as one, two and three in the Canada Land Inventory along with special crop land.”
We used the Canada Land Inventory to show that the figures the minister has used for southwestern Ontario and the “golden horseshoe” region alone are invalid. They want him to designate those lands. They say:
“As a first step in this direction, we urge that legislation be introduced which would designate all class one, two, and three lands and special crop lands as food land. And further, that in future, land designated as food land should be released to other uses only when it is proven that the need for such land cannot be met from the supply of lower quality land and that society will benefit from the change in use. Announcement by the government of the designation of class one, two, and three lands and special crop lands as food land would, we believe, automatically slow the loss of prime food land.”
The agrologists are right. It would automatically slow the loss of prime food land.
Hon. W. Newman: Glad to hear you say that.
Mr. Lewis: The minister likes to hear us say that? Well, we’ve said it all along. We’ve said that there must be statutory protection for farm land. We’ve said that there must be designation of class one, two, and three land. The problem is that every time we’ve said it, the minister says, “State ownership.” Every time we’ve said it the minister says, “Socialism in agriculture. Socialism in farm land.” Then, lo and behold, the member for Dufferin-Simcoe (Mr. McCague), the former chairman of the Niagara Escarpment Commission, who’s not here at the moment, introduces a private member’s bill An Act to provide for the Designation and Retention of Foodlands, and puts in the bill, in principle, a position which corresponds very closely to the kinds of arguments which many have been making.
Mr. Warner: Maybe he is a socialist.
Mr. Lewis: The creeping socialism within the Tory ranks is not always evident, but in this case it’s really interesting. I didn’t hear the minister mock his proposal, and I take it that if a back-bencher of that stature introduces this kind of proposed designation it means that it’s likely to become law at some point in time. I want the minister to know that if and when he makes it law he is not going to get resistance from the New Democratic caucus.
But I also want to tell the minister, through you Mr. Speaker, that the designation itself isn’t enough. He has to establish guidelines and criteria without the observance of which it becomes impossible to shift that food land to alternative use. He has to protect that land and make developers and other groups fight for alternative use as part of our absolute and unequivocal commitment to the preservation of agricultural land in this province.
So I say, to pull it together, that the assessment figures are wrong, the data is wrong -- even if it was right one couldn’t afford the land. There are clearly people in the wings lurking, pressing, anxiously cajoling government into the designation of the land and somewhere along the way the minister is going to have to protect Niagara and he is going to have to designate that land or in fact he will be faced with yet another assault on the hustings around the preservation of agricultural land and make no mistake about it. As I said earlier, Mr. Speaker, when we get closer to the day in May or June there is going to be a whole range of new data on our side.
That leads me to the third point I wanted to make on behalf of the members of this caucus. That relates to the question of the Reed Paper company transaction and it too has to do with land. It does with the forest resources of northern Ontario what we have been attempting to do with the agricultural land in southern Ontario -- saving our land being a central theme which the New Democratic Party feels terribly strongly about.
I understand that the argument continues to rage, Mr. Speaker. I see the argument continuing to rage all around the province.
I find it quite fascinating -- as a matter of fact, if I may just sort of comment almost in passing on events -- I find it of interest to see the way in which the Conservatives feel compelled all over the province to attempt to justify the Reed transaction. That’s an unusual response for the Tories in Ontario to go out on the hustings and energetically to construct a reply to an opposition position.
I think that it has happened because all over the province of Ontario the proposed transaction, which may or may not take place, is seen as wrong. It’s seen as wrong by a great majority of the citizens of Ontario. And I want to tell the cabinet ministers who are here, through you, Mr. Speaker, that it has been the experience of our northern members in contact with northern constituents sitting on northern open lines, even as in a place like Sault Ste. Marie, to find the communities agitated about the intended Reed Paper transaction and what the government has in mind.
And what we always thought to be true appears to be true. This isn’t a southern Ontario issue. This is an issue which unites the province. The province generally cannot believe that the government would contemplate this kind of transaction.
This is where the Premier and his Tories and the New Democrats part company. It isn’t a matter of the environmental hearing process. If I may, without betraying secrets, I was one of those who had talked to the Premier from time to time about the validity of The Environmental Assessment Act; talked about the validity of the Environmental Assessment Board; liked the idea of an independent chairman; feel uncomfortable about it primarily because it is unacceptable to the people of Treaty Nine and therefore it must be unacceptable, because the government can’t have the hearings without Indian participation. Can you imagine the Berger inquiry without native peoples appearing before Justice Thomas Berger? That is what is presently in store for us in northwestern Ontario.
We understand the validity of the Act. We understand that it is going to come before the board. We understand the safeguards which the government, in its mind, feels it has built in. With great respect to the Premier and to his colleagues, that is not the issue. The issue doesn’t consist of the safeguards imposed after a calamitous decision is made. The issue doesn’t consist of building in appropriate environmental constraints after you have made a significant error in judgement. The issue consists very simply: Should we proceed with the proposal at all? The New Democratic caucus says no, not in this form, not at this time.
We have said no, as you know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for a number of what we think to be perfectly legitimate and compelling reasons. There are really three.
First of all, we have said no because of size. We don’t think that any one company -- and I must say I don’t care whether it is the Reed company or any company in Ontario -- should be given a tract of land verging nearly on 19,000 square miles of the last virgin timber resource we have, period. As an axiom, no company should be given that kind of land. Therefore no hearing should flow on a decision which contemplates that as a possibility.
May I point out to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, what you already know and know well, that no other company in Ontario has ever received that kind of land. As a matter of fact, the largest licensed area given to any one company in the province of Ontario hitherto has been 16,054 square miles to Abitibi; but Abitibi has seven licences and nine mills on that 16,000-square mile tract. We are talking about giving Reed one licence and one mill on a 19,000-square mile tract. If you look at the next total licensed area, you find it’s Great Lakes with 15,091 square miles; but Great Lakes has five separate licences and a number of mills.
Again, it is wrong to give one company 19,000 square miles in the fashion that is being contemplated. The average licensed size in this province is roughly 3,500, 4,000 or 5,000 square miles, maybe smaller, looking at the pattern of individual licences. We have never considered giving a licence of this size to any one company. I remind the members of the government, who are here this afternoon overflowing their ranks, that it was the observation of Professor Armson in June, 1976, in his report to the government that, “these large areas, perhaps justifiable under a regime of exploitation only, cannot be justified when forest management is both possible and feasible.”
It makes no sense to us, that the government would be contemplating a licence of this size when all of its own experts say nay; and everybody who is engaged in this, that I have been able to read and we have been able to talk to, those who are professional foresters and those who are involved, argue quite persuasively that the granting of a licence this large is an invitation to bad forest management. The Premier can beat his breast all he wishes about jobs, the reality is this proposition is wrong in principle on grounds of size alone.
Thus, Mr. Deputy Speaker, as you know better than I because you are a man of capacity and expertise in this field, it is wrong on other grounds as well. It is wrong on the simple ground of regeneration and reforestation. As we get into this matter it becomes clearer and clearer that the forest resource sector of Ontario is in real trouble. Boy, are we in trouble! And nobody has been willing to acknowledge it for a considerable period of time. We have had, at the last count I made, 11 major government studies from 1924 to 1976, all of them speaking to the problem of reforestation, all of them ringing the alarm bell; some of them of very great status prophesying highly calamitous events.
The Deputy Speaker will recall that the timber revenue task force of October, 1975, says -- and this is very hard to believe -- “Given the continuance of the current level of regeneration, there is a distinct potential for timber shortages in the 1980s.” Who in God’s name could believe that in the province of Ontario we have squandered our forest resources so badly that there is a potential shortage in the 1980s? If one reads the documents -- and I encourage every member of the Legislature to do so -- of the other foresters, the words of Professor Hearden which the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr. Stokes) used in his leadoff in committee on Natural Resources, the words of John Parry, the young Ministry of Natural Resources forester who supervises the present Reed limits under the name of Dryden Pulp and Paper, if one reads all of that one realizes that we are in a critical situation over reforestation. I simply repeat what everyone knows.
We lose a third completely. We hope a third regenerates naturally. And we plant a third from government in the hope that that will do the job.
Can I read into the record of the House something that I am not sure has been read into this discussion before? In the ministry report, Survival and Growth of Tree Plantations on Crown Lands in Ontario, 1974:
“The results of the regeneration survey five years after planting showed: 1. In four northern districts six per cent of nursery stock black spruce was classified good by height, 27 per cent fair, and 31 per cent poor. Failure rate was 50 per cent. In three northern districts, three per cent of tube seedling black spruce was fair, 31 per cent poor. Failure was 66 per cent.” In other words, Mr. Speaker, as you know, not only is one third replacement a shocking indictment of the failure of the government, but even that third has its own failure rate, in places of 50 to 60 to 70 per cent.
In other words, the crisis in forest management and regeneration is upon us. It is the responsibility of the government to handle it. The government has failed to handle it, and yet the government wants us to give them carte blanche to enter into negotiation, however many scruples they may observe, with a company to get another 19,000 square miles of northwestern Ontario. I don’t think we should give them that right; we don’t think it should proceed at all, however the hearing may develop.
I think, and we think, that on those grounds, on grounds of forest management and on grounds of lack of reforestation, those two compelling principles alone, the Reed transaction should not be contemplated and should be abandoned. However, there now emerges new and additional information which makes us really wonder at the basic sense of balance in the cabinet.
Now we know, after several years of study, that the environmental pollution of these companies has been waiting for the last 11 years for government supervision. The pulp and paper industry has created an enormous environmental problem all through northern and southern Ontario where the industry is located. But again government, for whatever reason, has not moved in on the transgressors until the last very few weeks literally -- and even then we don’t know how serious this government is. To top it all off, the single greatest transgressor in the most critical area of environmental pollution has been none other than the Reed Paper Company.
The Minister of the Environment (Mr. Kerr) said in question period today that he considers it a matter of tribute to the government, or words to that effect, that the government is not deterred by the Dryden mill experience in granting 19,000 square miles as a possible licence for the Reed Paper company. I’ll say it is not deterred. But if we may he perverse about it for a moment, we sure as the devil would be deterred.
If we have 31 pulp and paper mills in Ontario the vast majority of which are polluting the environment in a disastrous fashion. If we have 31 pulp and paper mills in Ontario against whom the government has to levy either ministerial orders or charges -- and that deals with the majority of them. And if the worst of them is the company the government wants to negotiate a 19,000 square mile tract with, we would pause.
As a matter of fact, if it doesn’t seem quaint, we would probably say, “You get your house in order jolly quick before we will talk to you about any additional timber licence, anywhere in the province of Ontario.” We wouldn’t hesitate about that for a second.
I don’t know whether the members of the Legislature have looked at the updated report which is now out, Alternative Policies for Pollution Abatement; the Ontario pulp and paper industry summary and update. There were standards set in 1966, there were standards set in 1969, there were standards updated in March, 1973; and in all those years they’ve never been met.
The situation for a number of these individual companies, is absolutely unbelievable. The tables which accompany the document show the effluent that is discharged into the rivers beside the various plants and they do it by way of tons per day. They look at the suspended solids and they look at the BOD-5 tons per day -- that is, the amount of organic material which is discharged into a river which depletes the oxygen and therefore, results in very serious destruction of the river and streams surrounding the plant.
If we look at some of these plants it’s really quite remarkable. In the discharge of this organic matter, which has the most significant deteriorating effect, the Abitibi mill in Iroquois Falls discharged 58 tons a day in 1970; it discharged 70 tons a day in 1975. The Abitibi panel mill in Sturgeon Falls discharged 7.8 tons a day in 1970; it discharged 17.6 tons a day in 1975.
Here’s one which should give people pause: The Canadian International Paper plant at Hawkesbury was discharging 176 tons a day in 1970 and 188 tons a day in 1975. I have difficulty imagining 188 tons a day of effluent of organic matter discharged -- the Speaker probably knows, but I certainly don’t. And that’s on top of the suspended solids which the company discharges every day -- several tons a day in 1975.
In other words, if I can put it in summary, out of 31 mills only three have met the objectives for organic matter and six for suspended solids; 12 mills have increased their organic matter discharge since 1970; six have increased their suspended solid loading; three mills have increased both from 1970 to 1975. Four mills are classified as potentially dangerous to human health; five mills are identified as causing gross deterioration to the environment; one mill is still discharging a mercury compound.
Is it possible ever to imagine, in writing from the ministry, a greater or more specific indictment of the failure of government? It’s all here in the document and all of it is in the pulp and paper industry.
The reason I singled out the Reed Paper company wasn’t simply because it’s engaged in the northwest transaction. It’s because, in the discharge of the serious matter -- the organic compound which drains the oxygen from the rivers -- the Reed Paper company has jumped from 24 tons a day to 46.2 tons a day from 1970 to 1975. That’s an increase of almost 100 per cent and don’t let anybody in this House, the Minister of the Environment himself included, tell me this nonsense about it being an old mill.
I know it’s an old mill. Many of us have been through old mills. I was through a relatively old mill at Espanola this weekend. I’ve been through the old mill at Iroquois Falls; the old mill at Fort Frances: the old mill at Kenora. Just four or five weeks ago I was through the old mill in Cochrane -- what’s it called? What am I thinking of, in Cochrane North? Smooth Rock -- the Smooth Rock mill.
The reality is that even though some of these mills may be old, the government has set objectives which it feels the mills are capable of meeting. The objective for the Reed Paper company, for example, was a discharge of five tons a day; instead it’s 46 tons a day. No one has to tell us that it’s because it’s 60 years old. That’s just turning the Minister of the Environment into an apologist for the pulp and paper industry. That’s what happens to the minister when that kind of thing occurs.
It’s a totally undignified business. If they can get any solace from the proposition that 10 years later they’re finally undertaking enforcement of the ministerial control orders, that doesn’t satisfy the New Democratic Party. Do you know why it doesn’t satisfy the New Democratic Party, Mr. Speaker, if I may say so? It is for one very simple reason over and above all the others. This is really a kind of interesting related point. Whenever we talk as a party about cleaning up certain work places and environments, we are always told by the companies involved and the government involved; “We’ll have to shut down; you’re gonna lose jobs; is that what you want?” We’ve been told this by Falconbridge, we’ve been told this by Inco, we’ve been told this by lead plants, and we’ve been told this by pulp and paper companies. Every time we talk about cleanup, they say; “Our profits can’t manage it. We’ll have to close down.”
In Elliot Lake on Friday afternoon of this last weekend -- I say this in the presence of the Minister of Labour (B. Stephenson) because I know she will at least be interested -- I met with the health and safety committees of the two locals attached to Rio Algom and Denison. In Denison Mines, as you may know, Mr. Speaker, the four working months per year level of exposure has been reached in some work areas, but not in all work areas, and the workers are getting rather nervous about the extent of their exposure. As a matter of fact, they made a remarkably fascinating point to me, which hadn’t occurred to me at all. They said; “Now that we learn there’s radon gas seeping into our homes as a result of a rock fault running through the town and as a result of landfill, and now that the Atomic Energy Control Board has identified between 150 and 200 properties where the readings of radioactivity are in excess of the background threshold limit, don’t we have then to look at our exposure underground along with the unexpected exposure above ground, because together it may mean that we shouldn’t be spending as much time in the mines. Up until now, we’ve never thought that when we go home we’re exposed to radioactivity. Now we suddenly learn we are.” It was a really telling point.
When they raised this kind of point with Denison and when they said to Denison, we should get it down to three working-level months rather than four working-level months of exposure to radioactivity, do you know what the general manager of Denison said to that union local? The men who were there at the meeting confirmed it and gave me the names of the people who attended from Denison. They said: “If you try to get it down lower, we’ll have to close the mine. They even went further. They said: That isn’t a threat, that’s a reality.”
That’s what we get from the corporate sector all the time. Every time we want to do something about worker protection and environmental control, they say: “It’s too costly. We’ll have to close the plant. The New Democratic Party has been saying to the government: “Call their bluff. We don’t believe it, that’s a lot of nonsense.”
That’s what we heard from United Asbestos in Matachewan. I got readings on my desk from United Asbestos in Matachewan today, and three out of the four readings in three or four critical areas showed contamination of less than one fibre per cubic centimetre. A year ago they said they couldn’t bring it down to five fibres per cubic centimetre. You put the blocks to these companies and they adhere to the law.
The pulp and paper industry has been saying to us, for God knows how long, “We can’t.” Then in the government report the following words appear -- and I read it for the record; I read it for my colleagues and I read it for the Deputy Speaker’s absorption: “The firms in the Ontario pulp and paper industry would be able to absorb the costs of meeting the environmental objectives as established by the Ministry of the Environment without mill closures, without substantial layoffs and without a significant deterioration in the industry’s profit performance.”
How do you like that, Mr. Speaker? That’s really put an end to the nonsense about the way in which industry responds to the pressures from government. It also shows up the Ministry of the Environment for the lack of political fibre which characterizes it even unto this day at the decision-making level. There was no reason for it to have waited 10 years before coming to grips with these companies. The companies could afford it and there would have been no unhappy consequences for the communities or the work force.
That means, for us, that on all counts -- the size of the intended tract; the lack of regeneration; the situation of environmental pollution in the pulp and paper industry -- this whole Reed proposal doesn’t make any sense at all. To those who are forever saying, “Let’s have the environmental hearing process and see what it does. Nothing will happen unless it’s approved:” our response is: “Don’t do it that way. That way is the path to further calamity. Get your own house in order. Fix up the forest industry in Ontario. Rationalize the licences. Provide reforestation. Clean up the pollution from the mills. Secure the jobs we now have. Eliminate the possibility of timber shortage in the 1980s. And then if you want to contemplate looking at that 19,000 square miles go ahead and look; but not until then.”
We’ve even said, if the government wants to look at that point in time, there is a variety of things it can do. It can look at giving the Indian communities cutting rights and sawmills. It can look at extending present rights and limits in order to secure present jobs. It can look at using a smaller portion of the land distributed among a number of companies. It can look at public-private arrangements in consortium. But it doesn’t consider at this point in time under any circumstances, given the massive evidence, even initiating the two and a half year process at the end of which Reed might get a licence.
When I say to the Premier “at any cost” he gets very excited and agitated as he thinks I speak purely of the environmental hearing process. It’s not that of which I speak as a democratic socialist. What we’re talking about is jobs for the north at equivalent costs.
Something has to be done to build northern Ontario which doesn’t forever base it exclusively on the resource sector. That happened to Blind River when there were no more trees to cut down. Go up to Blind River -- I invite any member to go up to Blind River -- and speak to a community whose unemployment rate is regularly 25, 30 and 35 per cent because the renewable resource wasn’t renewed. Spend some time in Cobalt and ask what happened when the silver mines closed down. Talk to the Deputy Speaker of the House about what was felt in the community of Geraldton when it was under economic pressure. They’ll give you an earful about renewable and non-renewable resources, Mr. Speaker.
This business of forever giving the north the resource jobs while keeping the manufacturing jabs for the south all has to change. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again -- I’ll just say it once and draw my remarks to an end. One of the great ironies in this whole business of the Reed Paper transaction is a little paragraph in the prospectus for the fall of 1976. After the prospectus filed with the Ontario Securities Commission to seek a $50 million loan was completed -- or in its contents -- there is reference, of course, to the Ear Falls-Red Lake Mill. There is also reference to the following: “We” -- the Reed Paper company -- “have completed a $35 million container board plant for Mississauga.” I’ve no objection in the world to Mississauga. It’s a lovely community, an excellent place, but one really has to ask oneself, how come the north gets the resource-based jobs and the south gets the manufacturing jobs? Those are the questions which my colleagues in northern Ontario are forever asking. How come we can’t put a container board plant in northern Ontario to build an economic infra-structure in that part of the province? How come we take our ores and refine them abroad? How is it that there are six jobs in the pulp and paper industry elsewhere in the province for every four in northern Ontario?
Those are the imbalances which the Reed Paper scheme serves to reinforce rather than to alter. For that reason, as well as a hundred others, we’re not going to support that scheme. We’re going to put this proposition up and down Ontario and we are going to chronicle what is involved.
On the pulp and paper pollution alone -- I can’t make this strong enough -- we would not have contemplated negotiation with the Reed Paper company. Can anyone imagine it? Everybody on the government side of the House seems to think it’s quite normal and common.
The government lays 10 charges against the company. It’s one of only two companies which have violated ministerial orders. It has the single worst pollution record in the depositing of organic materials; it has dumped mercury sediment into the English-Wabigoon river system and the government is going to negotiate with it for 19,000 square miles of northwestern Ontario at precisely the same moment all of this is occurring.
Nuts, Mr. Speaker. It doesn’t make sense and we’re going to try to persuade Ontario that it doesn’t make sense. I judge, from what I’ve been able to pick up out there in the hinterland of Ontario, that the people of Ontario agree with that and think the government is wrong, dead wrong.
The last point I want to make -- I don’t know what happens when one gets into these things; I tend to become far too wordy -- the last area I wanted to get into was the creation of jobs. I wanted to make reference to this because I’m hoping that another couple of my colleagues, if they’re able to speak later in the budget debate, will itemize it.
We are totally dissatisfied with the job picture in Ontario and with the pathetic intervention on the part of the provincial Treasurer last year in granting this sales tax rebate on the purchase of machinery and equipment to the corporate sector.
One gets a little tired of the hymns of praise to the glory of free enterprise and one gets a little weary of the constant adoration of the private sector. The reality is that in September, 1976, in Ontario there were 202,000 people actually unemployed. In October, 1976, there were 223,000 people unemployed and that remains almost identical to what it was one year ago.
There is no job-creating programme in this province worthy of the name. We would have taken that $160 million which is being given to the private sector and we would have ploughed it into the provision of housing, at the very least at prices people could afford, creating jobs in the construction centre where the need is greatest.
It’s a very simple equation. We achieve two social goals simultaneously and that would have made a lot more sense than what we’re doing with the money.
May I point out to you, Mr. Speaker, that it seems to be a fixation on the part of government -- an idée fixe on the part of government -- that everything it does it does for the private sector and it debunks the public sector in the process.
I wanted to deal with occupational health but I’m going to leave it for the Workmen’s Compensation Board appearance before the resources or other committee and, therefore, let me sum up this way. Our feelings toward the Conservatives as a government in Ontario haven’t changed in any way; nor do I think and nor do we think that the Tories should be sustained in office by our party under any circumstances when they’re clearly in default.
They are clearly in default in all of the matters we have tried to enumerate during the course of this budget debate and, if I may say so, in particular the matters I have enumerated today: The question of agricultural land, the question of the Reed Paper Company, the question of rent control and rent administration, the question of the creation of jobs.
So strongly did we feel about this that we wanted to cast it in the context of non-confidence. We didn’t particularly want to clutter up the process around here by introducing further motions, so we thought we would do something which is admittedly unorthodox but which is clearly legitimate under the rules of the Legislature. We moved an amendment to the budget address -- my colleague the member for Beaches-Woodbine (Ms. Bryden), I guess, moved an amendment to the budget address when it first came in. The assumption is then that the Liberal Party along the way would move a sub amendment. They’ve chosen not to move a subamendment for whatever reason.
Mr. Breithaupt: The same reasons you didn’t move one last time.
Mr. Lewis: They’ve chosen not to move a subamendment. No, it’s rather different. I think this year it would have been quite appropriate and we would have encouraged you to do so. On the other hand, maybe there were a whole range of legitimate arguments.
Mr. Breithaupt: Possibly.
Mr. Lewis: But, there occurs this phenomenon of a remaining subamendment which the New Democratic Party can therefore legitimately put. So we’re going to alter our original budget amendment, making it much more a matter of non-confidence, making quite clear those issues on which we would be happy to meet the government at any time -- I want to make that clear, Mr. Speaker, at any time -- on the hustings; the issues which my colleague, the member for Beaches-Woodbine set out and the issues which I affirm today.
Mr. Lewis moved that the motion that this House approve in general the budgetary policy of the government be further amended by adding the following words:
“And further, that this government has failed to respond adequately to:
1. The administrative problems which have undermined the tenants’ accessibility to and confidence in the rent control procedures and to recognize by legislative action the need to ensure protection against unfair rent increases after July 1977.
2. The need for the early implementation of policies to designate prime agricultural food lands throughout Ontario.
3. The obvious need to develop manpower programmes, job retraining programmes and job creation programmes.
4. The neglect of adequate management of our forest resources, which neglect should clearly mean the abandonment of the proposed Reed Paper transaction; and that, therefore, this government does not enjoy the confidence of this House.”
Mr. B. Newman: I rise to take part in the budget debate, a vehicle through which one can bring up various problems that are either province-wide or relate solely to one’s municipality.
The new format makes it extremely difficult for one to raise a lot of the issues that I will raise this afternoon, because one cannot be in a committee and in the House both, or sometimes three places at the same time. As a result when you can’t present a suggestion in the committee, then this is practically the only avenue by which one can present that suggestion.
The first topic I wish to bring to the attention of the House is one concerning the inequities as far as the grant structure is concerned involving my own municipality. One of the things that really struck me as being strange is that time and time again the officials from my community have met with the ministry here, have pointed out the errors in their calculations and the fact that there are inequities, and yet at no time has the government attempted to eliminate the inequities. If there is something wrong, I think it should be corrected and if we cannot correct it in one fashion, we can correct it in another. I hope, during the course of my remarks, that I will give the government a way by which it can correct the inequities as far as the grants coming to the city of Windsor are concerned.
It was on May 15, 1975, that the city of Windsor presented a position paper to the hon. Treasurer of this province, in which it pointed out -- and quite clearly pointed out -- that Windsor was not getting the grants to which it was entitled when one compared that community with other communities of approximately its size as well as those substantially smaller.
On June 6, 1975, a communication was directed to the hon. Treasurer which said, and I’m quoting one sentence from it, “It was further agreed that your department” -- referring to the Ministry of Treasury, Economics and Intergovernmental Affairs -- “would review the formula in question.” That referred to the grant equalization formula. That letter was sent by the mayor of the city of Windsor, as I mentioned earlier, on June 6.
On June 13 of that same year, the minister did mention the following, and I’m reading from his letter of June 13: “Your Worship: In your letter of June 6 you suggest that we agreed to have TEIGA undertake a review of the formula for the resource equalization grant because of possible inequities. However, as you will recall, we both recognized that the formula, as such, is eminently equitable but that conceivably the equalization factor for Windsor could be out of line with the rest of the province.”
That is the area on which the community raises its greatest concern -- that the equalization factor is out of line with the rest of the province.
On June 23, a communication was also directed to the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Meen) asking that he meet with the officials of the city and discuss the equalization factor so that the problem could be resolved. At the same time, a 13-point position paper was submitted to the cabinet on behalf of the community, listing 13 areas in which there could be some mutual discussion between the ministry and the officials from the city in an attempt to resolve the long-standing problem.
When I mention inequities, I do this because I recall last week listening to a television programme in my hotel room, in which the present mayor of the city of London mentioned the city of Windsor and the fact that London did receive and continued to receive favourable treatment in comparison to the city of Windsor. Here we have the mayor of the city of London, actually admitting there was favouritism shown to that community. It’s not that we think there should be any reduction in the consideration given to London but that Windsor should receive the same type of consideration.
Mr. Peterson: Good representation.
Mr. B. Newman: She did make mention in her comments that all the inequities started when the city had representation in the cabinet from four sitting members in the area. There was the mayor of a community pointing out on public television that there was injustice. We in the city of Windsor would like that injustice to he corrected.
On January 21, this year, a reply was sent by the provincial Treasurer to the community in which he made comment concerning the 13 points raised by the officials of the city of Windsor. The officials had a chance to peruse the comments. However, they were never given the opportunity to directly involve themselves in consultation with the officials of the ministry to point out where they were in error. They did make the following comment in a letter addressed to the provincial Treasurer on March 22: “Some members of the local chamber of commerce who represent a cross-section of the businessmen in the community feel that your government has not concerned yourselves with these inequities.”
So we can see that the letter from the commissioner of finance on March 22 certainly indicated that the inequities were not being looked at by the provincial Treasurer.
On March 1, 1976, a communication prepared by the commissioner of finance for the city did answer each of the suggestions and arguments presented by the provincial Treasurer, and he makes one significant comment under point four, in which he says: “We admit that the Treasurer did advise us in 1975 the guarantee was only for one year, but it still does not alleviate the fact that our grants from the province have been reduced even though we have maintained our expenditure growth to a level equal or less than what they were recommending for 1976.”
So we can see that the community did try to live up to all of the agreements but still were not treated fairly. On March 30 the minister replied to the city in a communication that I don’t intend to read, for the sake of time, but I will bring to your attention, Mr. Speaker, that the city still maintains, as it has always maintained right from the beginning, that it has not been treated fairly.
I think the only way to resolve the problem would be for the TEIGA officials and the officials from the community, from my community, to get together and hammer out each one of the points under discussion and resolve the problem once and for all. The officials of the city of Windsor certainly have no difficulty pointing out to the ministry the inequities that do exist and that should be remedied as quickly as possible.
One of the other inequities that exists in the community is grants as far as provision for sewage treatment facilities. The city of Windsor did build facilities that could accommodate the surrounding municipalities. They didn’t have to do that, but for the sake of saving money to the surrounding municipalities and to the province, they, as good citizens, went right ahead and did that. Had they not, then the province of Ontario would have had to provide substantial funds to the surrounding areas to provide their own sewage treatment facilities.
What the city was doing was actually acting as a regional form of government in providing sewage treatment facilities, yet the provincial Treasurer doesn’t look upon the fact that the city of Windsor saved the province substantial amounts of money in doing just exactly what it did. The least the province could have done was to make available to them the same amount of grants as are provided to regional governments in her parts of the province, even though Windsor may not have a regional government setup.
If the province treats the city in the future the way it has in the past, we can rest assured there will be no request on the part of anyone around the Essex county area that would be in the least interested in regional government.
The comments I have to make now are going to be quite detailed and I hope for the sake of the Hansard reporters they would take the sheet that I have so that the figures could be fairly accurately reported. I am reading from a brief presented to the provincial Treasurer some time before June 22. It’s addressed to Hon. W. Darcy McKeough, Treasurer of Ontario:
“In reviewing your 1976 budget, we must say that generally we concur with your efforts at restraint. We have also completed our 1976 budget and are pleased to say that we are again able to follow the pattern set in the past few years in keeping our increases to a minimum. Our goal for this year’s budget was to stay within the AIB guidelines. This was accomplished in spite of the fact that the resources equalization grant and the general support grant were reduced by $492,000 and that the cost of OHIP increased by $170,000. Services have been cut back to the bare minimum.
“The education mill rate has increased by 40.5 per cent for public school supporters (36.81 per cent for separate). The total mill rate therefore increased by 20.89 per cent for public school supporters (19.07 per cent for separate).
“Unconditional grants. While reviewing your publication, 1976 Ontario Assistance to Local Governments, we noted the following estimated grants” -- and I am going to read them in four categories. I will read the municipality first; the 1976 unconditional grant; the population on which the 1976 grants are based, and the unconditional grants per capita. I will read right across so that Hansard will be able to pick this up later from the sheet that I will provide them. We are comparing nine municipalities:
Unconditional Population Unconditional grants grants per capita
London 11,121,000 243,416 $45.69
St. Catharines 5,492,000 120,398 $45.62
Oshawa 4,585,000 102,876 $44.57
Hamilton 12,544,000 311,886 $40.22
Kitchener 5,122,000 130,228 $39.33
Toronto 79,842,000 2,153,381 $37.08
Ottawa 9,523,000 300,065 $31.74
Windsor 5,776,000 198,569 $29.09
Mississauga 6,775,000 234,975 $28.83
Mr. Speaker, you can see that by just comparing the nine municipalities, the city of Windsor stood eighth as far as the unconditional grants were concerned, yet population-wise it was either fourth or fifth. A city comparable to it received almost twice the amount of unconditional grants -- absolutely unfair.
Continuing from the brief -- this, as I said earlier, was addressed to Hon. Darcy McKeough: “You have stated previously that the main purpose of the resource equalization grant was to assist less wealthy municipalities. We cannot accept that Windsor is so much ‘wealthier’ than London, St. Catharines, Oshawa, and so forth. Since 1973 when the property tax stabilization grants were introduced, the city of London has received $15,981,192 more in grants than Windsor. The difference in the resource grant for 1976 amounts to $4,709,930. Based on our 1976 mill rate, we need $48,900,000 more in commercial and industrial assessment to equal the extra grant received by London. It is obvious to us that the equalization factor used in calculating the resource grant is out of line for Windsor.
“We understand that to adjust Windsor’s equalization factor would probably cause complaints for other municipalities. We also understand that you have market value assessment figures available for all municipalities. We, therefore, recommend that the province in conjunction with the municipalities immediately calculate the grants based on market value assessment to determine the effect on the grants. We are certain that this exercise will prove that our equalization factor is grossly incorrect.”
Continuing from the brief, the next item they discuss is regional sewer grants. “We must again request that the city of Windsor be eligible for the regional grants for sewer purposes in connection with the expansion of the West Windsor pollution control plant. As you are aware, the townships of Sandwich West and Sandwich South will be connecting to our treatment plant. Sandwich West area comprises some 6,000 acres with a proposed future population of at least 20,000 people. A study performed in 1972 indicated that it would cost approximately $2.4 million to construct a separate sewage facility for the township. Today’s prices would cost $3.3 million. The Ministry of the Environment would have to construct this plant for the township.
“Windsor, in allowing the neighbouring townships to share in our plants, has ensured that unnecessary plants were not constructed and thus saved money for the townships and the province. You have previously suggested that if Windsor is not fully recovering its costs then we should renegotiate the agreements. The fact is that we are recovering our costs, but neither the city nor the townships, having acted in a prudent and responsible manner, obtain any benefits that are given to other taxpayers merely based on the type of government they happened to have forced upon them by the province.
“It is, therefore, recommended that:
“1. The province, in conjunction with the municipalities, immediately calculate the unconditional grants based on market value assessment.
“2. The city of Windsor be declared eligible for the regional sewer grant for the expansion of the West Windsor pollution control plant.”
The least the government could do is provide to the community some type of grant that would correct the errors of their calculations in the past, so that Windsor would be on the same footing as other municipalities in the province and that we be treated just as fairly as are the others. The postponement of any implementation of market value assessment without action by the government really perpetuates the injustice and the inequality that has been imposed upon my community. A grant in lieu of these inequalities would be able to resolve the problem.
The second topic I wish to discuss is election expenses. We now do have legislation that governs federal elections and provincial elections. It is about time we take the third level of government out of the closet and put it right on the table as are the other two levels, so that we have some type of legislation that will provide control and some guidelines concerning election expenses of individuals running for a municipal office.
Back on November 8 -- and that is quite recently -- the Toronto Star carried this editorial headed: “Who Gives Aldermen Election Money?”
“There’s nothing to prevent a candidate for municipal office in the December 6 elections from accepting a large cash donation from someone who later will ask a favour in return. Worse, the voters would never know about it.
“There are still no rules setting limits on campaign contributions or requiring that the sources of funds be revealed.
“North York council may do something about the absence of election laws by asking all candidates to sign a statement promising to reveal the sources of their funds after the election. It almost certainly won’t work because the borough has no authority to force anyone to sign. Nor can it take any action against candidates who do sign but fail to honour their promise later.
“North York already has a policy calling on all candidates to reveal their financing sources. But last election Controller William Sutherland, Alderman Betty Sutherland and Alderman Paul Valenti ignored it altogether and another three or four aldermen complied only partially.
“Controller Alex McGivern doesn’t want to sign, saying it should be left to the candidate to decide who he takes money from because the public is not interested. In the next breath, though, he inadvertently provided the very reason the public is interested: ‘Some of us are honest, some of us are dishonest,’ he said.
“Etobicoke, Scarborough, York and East York have no policy at all. Toronto has a new policy for the coming election but it calls on candidates to reveal only their total amount of funds, not the names of contributors.
“It’s time Queen’s Park disciplined municipal elections by regulations with teeth in them. On their own as they are now, municipal candidates are easy targets for anyone who might want to ensure a sympathetic ear by donating needed funds.
“Both federal and provincial candidates have to disclose all campaign contributions over $100. There are also limits on how much a single contributor can donate.
“Queen’s Park should have had a law ready for this year’s municipal elections. It has been aware of the need for some time and has no justifiable excuse for its failure to act.
“The next municipal elections will be in 1978. By that time the provincial Legislature will be duty-abound to have come up with legislation on the disclosure of campaign funds and limits on the size of individual donations.
“At the same time, both Queen’s Park and Ottawa could help municipal candidates raise campaign funds by making available the same tax deductions for municipal campaign donations as are already available for donations to federal and provincial candidates.”
My community was a little more concerned than simply talking about it. In fact, on September 27, 1976, they adopted the following resolution:
“Whereas the federal and provincial governments have recognized the wisdom of encouraging a broad base for the funding of election campaigns and have implemented measures which (1) place upper limits on donations to campaigns, (2) provide for independent auditing of the financing of campaigns, (3) provide for the publication of financial aspects of election campaigns, (4) provide contributors to election campaigns with tax credits based on the contributions; “And, whereas municipal election campaigns in larger cities can be very costly to the candidates involved, thus discouraging less affluent candidates; “And, whereas and particularly the availability of tax credits to contributors to federal and provincial campaigns but not to municipal campaigns tends to make fund raising even more difficult at the municipal level with the result that municipal campaigns are further downgraded at a time when public interest in municipal campaigns is already low, “Therefore, be it resolved that the Ontario provincial government be petitioned to enact legislation to provide for: (1) limits on the size of donations from a single source, (2) independent verification and publication of the finances of campaigns, and, (3) tax credits to contributors for municipal election campaigns in the province of Ontario, at least in the large urban areas.
“Be it further resolved that the federal government be petitioned to co-operate with the provincial government in this task, with particular reference to the granting of tax credits at the federal level and that copies of this resolution be forwarded to all Members of Parliament.”
Mr. Speaker, you can see that my community is concerned with this and, I would say, many other communities, as are many members in the House. There is an action that has to be taken and should be taken so that by the next general election, coming in 1978, some type of legislation providing for limits and controls as well as tax credits should be actually in place.
Another item I wish to raise while I have the opportunity concerns the general elections in the various municipalities. One of the constituents of mine who has been long a studier of municipal politics brought up a novel suggestion which sort of appealed to me, and I would like to bring it to the attention of the House. The name of the individual is James Holden, a well-known barrister and solicitor in my own community. Just as we elect a mayor in a community, the mayoralty being a full-time job, he suggests the chairman of the public utilities commission be likewise an elective office. He suggests a person run for the position of chairman of the utilities so that he can devote full time to being the chairman for the two-year period, just exactly as the mayor runs.
He also suggests that in the school board elections the chairman of the school board be elected as chairman and that it be a full-time job for that individual for the two-year term. Naturally, the amount of indemnity paid to the individual would have to be commensurate with the responsibilities that he does assume. I think it does make sense. Rather than having the commissioners themselves select who is to be their chairman, and rather than having board members select who they would prefer to see as chairman of the board of education, both separate and public, both county and otherwise, those individuals should run for those public offices.
I know there is one drawback, and that is the financial drawback, because the individual would have to run over a fairly large area and, as a result, it is extremely expensive for the individual to run. But we do that in the mayoralty. I can see some merit in applying exactly that same principle when it comes to utilities commissions and also to boards of education.
The next topic I wish to raise is concerning the price of gas. I’m referring to gas used for home heating purposes. It struck me as very strange that, of all the municipalities in the province of Ontario -- and practically everyone is affected in some fashion -- only two cities in Ontario are willing to fight Union Gas in its request for added price increases to the consumer. The two cities happen to be the great city of Kitchener and the other great city in the province of Ontario, Windsor. You would think other municipalities would like to fight for their constituents so that the price of an absolute essential, that is, home-heating gas, be kept in line, especially when it comes to the fact that all have to use it.
Senior citizens who are living on a very fixed income now find themselves at a financial disadvantage because the price of gas has increased, not just to a minor degree but extremely substantially. In fact, in some instances it has more than doubled. For example, a constituent of mine wrote to me just last week. He makes mention: “I am a pensioner and I am not going to plead poverty, but considering that my monthly budget started at $12 and is now increased from $21 to $25, how much can one endure?” He’s talking solely about his bills for natural gas for home heating and cooking.
It must also be realized that all natural-gas consumer supplies will increase the prices of goods and services. The gas is not only affecting him simply from the fact that he has to heat his own home, but goods and services are going up. The individual on a fixed income is very adversely affected by the substantial increase in the price of home heating gas. I’m kind of disappointed that municipalities other than the cities of Windsor and Kitchener wouldn’t attempt to band together to fight the suggested increases that Union Gas wishes to impose.
From what I understand the increases are going not only for salary increases to the employees but also to the executives who, in my estimation, are paid substantially well. I may be wrong but I don’t think I am.
The city of Windsor has a professor by the name of Professor Ted Manzig who’s going to handle the city’s argument against this increase requested by Union Gas. I understand the hearings are going to last approximately 90 days and they are proceeding, if I’m not mistaken, at the present time.
I would hope that other municipalities could see the light of day exactly as my municipality has and join in an attempt to allow the individual on fixed income, plus the individual on old age security, and the low wage earner some type of relief from the ever-increasing cost of home heating and cooking with gas.
One of the states in the United States, if I’m not mistaken, provides a certificate to those on limited incomes and fixed incomes. They provide them with $75 worth of certificates for $25 and these certificates are to be used solely for paying utilities’ bills. I think it’s the type of suggestion that possibly the Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Taylor) should be looking into in an attempt to alleviate the adverse effects of increases in the costs of home heating, home cooking and other utility needs of those on fixed and limited incomes.
I wanted to mention a suggestion I can recall making in the first year I sat in the House, I think it was. It was that we should be looking at a baby bonus in reverse. When I say baby bonus in reverse I mean when the children take care of their parents rather than placing them in nursing homes. Maybe it should be a grandfather or grandmother bonus.
Hon. B. Stephenson: I suggested this last year.
Mr. B. Newman: Was it last year? That’s good. I’m glad to see you’re reading my 1960 Hansards. Thank you. That’s very nice coming from the Minister of Labour. I hope she can convince her cabinet colleagues that this should be looked into. It would actually be saving us money in the province of Ontario.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Okay.
Mr. B. Newman: There should be some kind of financial assistance to sons and daughters or relatives who take care of their grandparents or great-grandparents in some cases rather than provide nursing home care or other type of domiciliary care for the individual. It would be by far cheaper.
By providing this assistance to the children they could, in many instances, build an extra room or so at the back of their homes. That room could be the same type of unit as many citizens live in now in senior citizens high-rises or in the row housing provided in some communities.
I know in my community, less than half a mile from where I live, there is a series of approximately 20 apartments which are like motels. There is the kitchen, the bathroom, the living-dining room and, in some instances, two bedrooms rather than one.
In this way, if the government allowed the children to put this on the back of their home and assisted them in some manner financially to take care of their parents, we would be saving substantial amounts of money, rather than putting our elderly into nursing-home care or putting them even into some senior citizens high-rise. I find that when we start putting all people of the same age category or the elderly in the one unit, there do develop certain types of problems that would not develop if those adults were living with their children.
It will not hold true in all cases but for those children who would be willing to take over and take care of their own parents, I think we should look into a pilot project, setting up something so we could maybe look this way and eventually eliminate the building of large senior citizens complexes. We’ll always need some, but instead of the proliferation of senior citizens high-rises, we could be accommodating these people quite often with their own families.
There are a lot of senior citizens who can’t afford the accommodation. They can’t afford the upkeep and can’t take care of the accommodation in which they live. I think that by putting them with their children, we might be able to resolve some of the problems. We won’t resolve all problems because we know ourselves that some children just don’t care for their parents at all once they reach a certain age or even before they reach that certain age. But for those children who would like to be taking care of their parents in this fashion but financially may not be able to do that, there is another way we could look upon this problem and hope to resolve it.
The Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation report states that by far the majority of the poor elderly citizens are happy with their present homes but can’t afford to live in them. If those homes were made available to their children and they had some facilities at the back of the home so that they could have at least privacy, because they may not want to be too closely associated with their own children in some fashion, we could have a partial answer to the high cost of housing, to the high cost of nursing home care and to the high cost of taking care of those who have made a real substantial contribution to society, those who have generally gone through two or three world wars, have gone through two depressions, who are too often neglected in society by those who should have taken care of them more tenderly than they have in the past and than they are continuing to take care of them today.
A novel arrangement is being tried out in the state of New York to provide for senior citizens who live in their own homes but are financially pinched for taking care of the homes. The home may be worth a substantial amount of money. They don’t want to go into senior citizens’ accommodation and they’d like to maintain the home in which they happen to live. They’ve been in there for years and years and they like the environment, but they financially can’t afford to be living there. There is an agreement being made or a plan being devised where a company -- it could be a provincial company and it could be a public company -- sort of buys the home from the people, paying them a monthly payment as long as they wish that payment to be made. That payment is sort of a lien against the property so that after they pass away or when they decide that they no longer want the home, that company or the state has built an equity in that home and simply has to make that balance of payment.
In the meantime, you have increased the quality of life of the individual by keeping him in an environment in which he has lived for years and in which he is satisfied, you’ve provided him with a little financial resources to be able to live a little better and you have resolved the problem of building additional accommodations for senior citizens or those on fixed incomes.
I would like to bring to the attention of the House also the handicapped. The Provincial Secretary for Social Development (Mrs. Birch) has received the first annual report of the Ontario Advisory Council on the Physically Handicapped. The report is a very substantial one and contains a lot of good suggestions. I know the provincial secretary will not let this report lie idle; I certainly hope she will implement the report, or portions of it, as quickly as possible. I noted, though, that the report made mention of the select committee on the utilization of schools, where we made mention of the accessibility of the handicapped to schools. I think the recommendations presented by the advisory council are worthy of implementation as quickly as possible.
In the report there is also mention of accessibility of the handicapped to voting facilities. I hope the ministry and the government doesn’t take too long in implementing drive-in voting. There is no reason why a handicapped person couldn’t be driven by car to a location in the community where the polling could take place; the box would be brought to the person, who would drop the ballot in the box, rather than a handicapped individual having to struggle in a wheelchair or with crutches or with the assistance of others to go inside to vote.
My community is reasonable enough that they recommend the handicapped should vote in the advance poll. In this way they would vote at the city hall where everything is on the ground level. The city itself has actually put up a ramp so that there is a ramp facility for those who are in a wheelchair or those who are handicapped, and they don’t have to climb any stairs. I think it’s a progressive outlook by my community, and I hope that it will be adopted by others.
I also hope that the handicapped will be handicapped only with their present physical or mental handicap. One wishes they didn’t have those handicaps at all, but we shouldn’t give them additional handicaps, especially when it comes to the right to vote, by making the voting place inaccessible. I think that can be resolved quite easily, and I hope the government will look at it and will implement the suggestions that have been made -- not only those made by myself, but by many other members in this House as well as those who do suffer from handicaps.
Even senior citizens both in their monthly newsletter and in the presentation of their brief to the government of Ontario, have recommended that the right to vote for those who are handicapped be looked into so that the individual with the handicap is not handicapped when it comes to casting a ballot.
During the question period at one time, I can recall raising the issue of accidents on an amusement ride in Bob-Lo, being an island just across from the home of the great member for Essex South (Mr. Mancini), the pride and joy of the town of Amherstburg.
Mr. Haggerty: Don’t overdo it.
Mr. B. Newman: The island is a Canadian island, except it is leased by others; and there is an amusement park on the island. There happened to have been an accident on one of the rides. When it comes to an elevator, every single elevator in a hotel has a little tag or a licence stating that the elevator has been inspected. It is a people mover. Amusement rides are people movers too. They move people around -- in a circle, up and down -- they spin them around; you name it, they move them in every fashion you could think of.
One would think the least the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations would do would be to require every single people-moving piece of equipment to have a fitness certificate visible to those who are purchasing tickets on those rides. I think it should be a must.
We shouldn’t have to ask the minister to come along and follow up on a thing like this. I would think that he himself would automatically be concerned about the safety of our younger people, because it is essentially the younger set who go on these amusement rides -- not that the rest of us in this Legislature haven’t at some time or other in our present years enjoyed the sensation that accompanies one being spun around in a fashion or turned upside down on one of these amusement rides.
I questioned the minister, as I say, concerning safety in relation to the Bob-Lo Island Park. Unfortunately, there weren’t just one or two accidents; there was a series of accidents in the park. Although Bob-Lo Island is a Canadian island, the amusement rides there conform to the Michigan Carnival Ride Safety Code. But no one enforces that code. One would think that that island, a Canadian island, would come under the jurisdiction of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations and that he would require the inspection.
When I brought the accident to his attention and I asked him concerning the ride, he said -- and I am quoting from a letter of June 24:
“I had this accident investigated by the technical standards division of my ministry and I am informed that the two employees of the ride owner were injured when they were thrown from the roller coaster during a test run of the equipment.”
I asked him for a copy of that investigation report, but I have never been able to get a copy of that. I can only assume that his officials did not investigate the accident because if they had investigated the accident there would have been a report. He could have provided it to me, and I would have been satisfied that the equipment was in good shape. But I wouldn’t be satisfied with the fact that there is not some type of sticker or some indication that the ride had been inspected by either his ministry or someone else and that it was found to be safe.
On motion by Mr. B. Newman, the debate was adjourned.
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ HOUR:
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY AMENDMENT ACT
Mr. Williams moved second reading of Bill 72, An Act to amend The Legislative Assembly Act.
Mr. Williams: Mr. Speaker, the bill that I place before the Legislature this afternoon for consideration is An Act to amend The Legislative Assembly Act. The purpose of the amending legislation is as stated in the explanatory note, which states that the enactment would require a person who holds office as a member of a council of a municipality and whose term of office is not yet three-quarters expired to resign his office on official nomination day if he wishes to be elected to the assembly.
Mr. Haggerty: He wants two worlds.
Mr. Williams: I would hasten to point out that the explanatory note perhaps is misleading in that it is not complete, because it not only relates to members of an elected council but also to members of local boards as defined in The Municipal Affairs Act. As you well know, Mr. Speaker, this covers a broad spectrum of people involved in serving the public in elective offices because, under The Municipal Affairs Act, “local board” means a school board, public utilities commissions, transportation commission, public library board, board of park management, local boards of health, boards of commissioners of police, planning boards or any other boards, commissions or committees under the jurisdiction of the local council. I wanted to make that point quite clear -- that it covers not only members elected to a municipal council but those also who have been elected to positions on local boards.
I think it is understandable and in fact commonplace that elected officials sitting on municipal councils and on local boards are quite often sought out by political parties at the provincial level to run at the time of a provincial election. In fact, quite often the sitting members of the municipal councils or boards will themselves take the initiative and seek the opportunity to have the nomination for a particular riding on behalf of a political party in a provincial election.
It’s quite understandable of course, because these are people who by the very nature of their background have gained experience in and understanding of dealing with the public -- of serving in the public place, if you will -- working with the civil service and with the public at large in solving public issues. It is only appropriate, therefore, that people with this type of experience and background should be sought out or should themselves seek to put this talent and experience to service in a similar setting at the provincial level.
Up until the 1950s I guess, this did not create any great problem because up until then, as we all know, municipal elections were held on an annual basis. So regardless of what period of time during the tenure of office of the sitting municipal member it would not be too long before the term of office to which he or she was elected would have expired in any event.
However the problem has now become much more difficult and complex since there has come into existence the two-year term of council. In fact, for some short period of time up until very recently, there was even a three-year term on council.
There we have, I suggest to you, a very different situation. If a member sitting on council very early in his term of office chooses to seek election to a higher elective office in a provincial election, that is one thing. But if it should be near the expiry of his term, then I think the public would view this decision in an entirely different light.
It may well appear, I might suggest as a side note, that we may return to the three-year term if the report to come down from Mr. Robarts on the review of Metropolitan Toronto government makes such a suggestion. I wouldn’t be surprised if indeed that was the case, because I have found from personal experience, as have many others who have served on larger urban municipal councils, that the complexity and size of those municipalities and the responsibilities upon them are such that long-term planning cannot really be accomplished without a longer term of council.
But in any event, whether we remain with the two-year term or go back to a selective three-year term, in either setting it is obvious that in the public’s mind the timing of the announced departure of a sitting municipal member for the purpose of running in a provincial election is all- important. I suggest there can be public acceptance or lack of public acceptance, depending on when that announcement is made.
It is quite apparent that the public does resent a candidate running in a provincial election when that person has recently been out garnering its support, asking the voters to elect him to an office at the municipal level, suggesting to them he is the best qualified person who can look after their interests for a specific term over the next two-year period, and that for the reasons he gives in his platform he is deserving of their support at the polls on municipal election day. For that person then to turn around immediately after, having asked for that support, to look in other directions and make himself available to serve in the public sector I think causes a great deal of resentment in the public’s mind.
Added to that resentment is the fact that in making that move, should the candidate be successful in being elected to the Legislature, then, of course, the taxpayers find they have to pay directly the cost of that transfer in mid-stream if I might use the term. They have to pay the cost of a by-election to have elected municipal representatives to replace the one who may have been successfully elected to a higher office.
So these are two very valid and understandable reasons why the public would resent it if a member, sitting on a municipal council or board, made that move particularly early in his term of office.
If I might, Mr. Speaker, I will turn to the most recent provincial election by way of illustration. Before coming to that, however, I might suggest that some candidates use the excuse, or apply the argument, that the only reason they have decided to run after being elected to municipal office is that they didn’t realize either that there was an election coming up at the provincial level, or that they would be asked to run as a candidate in the election. I suggest these are arguments that cannot be sustained or justify that candidate’s reason for abandoning his responsibilities as an elected municipal representative.
In any event I will, if I might, come to the most recent provincial election to best illustrate the point. If I might be specific, I will relate this to the riding of Oriole, as a Metropolitan Toronto riding located totally within the borough of North York. I’ll address myself to what happened in the elections in northern regions of this metropolis as they related to two members of the North York council. I refer specifically to Mayor Mel Lastman and Controller Barbara Greene.
As you may well recall, at that time, Mr. Speaker, the ink on the municipal ballots was barely dry when it was announced by both of these individuals that they were flirting with the idea of renouncing their municipal responsibilities that they had so recently assumed, for the express purpose of becoming candidates in the provincial election. In fact it was within a matter of weeks after they took office in 1974 that they made the official announcement that they were renouncing their municipal responsibilities to undertake the task of running in the provincial election and hopefully becoming members of this Legislature.
I think the public is astute enough to understand political opportunism. But, at the same time, I think the public resents political opportunism if it is going to be directly at public expense. As I indicated a few moments ago, in this type of situation, had members of that council been elected to the provincial Legislature, then, of course, it would have been necessary, at the public expense, to call by-elections in the borough of North York, which had so recently completed going through the election process.
From talking to people from all walks of life throughout the area that I’ve had experience with, it has become apparent to me that not only is timing most essential and important if there is to be public acceptance of this type of move during one’s term of office, but that the resentment that is there in the public’s mind because of this change of heart and because of the fact that it will be put to the expense of new elections, is the added insult to injury of the candidate, if unsuccessful, still having his or her cake and eating it too, because the job that he or she so recently was prepared to abandon is sitting there waiting for him or her to return, should they be unsuccessful at the provincial polls.
It was not only in the borough of North York that this happened in the last election, but in fact I believe there were seven other candidates who ran, who at that time were sitting members of municipal councils throughout various sections of this province -- Sudbury, Cambridge, Hamilton, Kitchener, Whitby. In fact, it’s interesting to note that I think my remarks are borne out as to what the public attitude is in that situation, because without exception all nine of those candidates were very significantly beaten at the polls on election day.
The only exception in that whole setting, in fact, was that one of the candidates, Mr. Newman, who had been mayor of the town of Whitby, saw fit to resign his position before obtaining the nomination and running in the provincial riding in that area. But even having made that decision, it appears that the public was not prepared to accept that change of interest so soon after the municipal election, although I would concede that in that case there may have been local issues that worked against the candidate at that particular time.
In any event, I think the illustrations I have cited could not better indicate the reason and need for this type of legislation, because I think it would make sitting members of councils or boards think twice, and perhaps three or four times, before deciding to renounce that which they have asked the electorate to support them on, which is to give them the opportunity to represent them as their municipal representatives.
So it would give people in that position extra cause for thought and consideration before hastily, and perhaps without due reflection, jumping into that type of situation where obviously political opportunism is rampant.
It is with this consideration in mind that the bill has been put forward to provide that if the person, while a sitting member of a municipal council, has not completed the majority of his or her term of council -- and I suggest in the bill it be three-quarters of the term of council, looking at the present two-year system -- that person should have to resign the post at the time he or she is given the official nomination to run as a candidate for a particular party.
The reason I have arbitrarily suggested the three-quarter mark in the two-year term is that it would appear inappropriate to necessitate the candidate’s resignation when there is somewhat less than six months left to go in the term of the municipal office. It would be inappropriate to necessitate the municipality, again at public expense, to call a by-election. I think the candidate, if unsuccessful, should be allowed to finish off the balance of that term, which would be not more than six months and in fact would bring him within two months of the next set of municipal elections.
If the candidate was successful within the last quarter of the term, of course, a period of two or three months from the time of the nomination when the person resigned to the time that the official election of that candidate was published in the Ontario Gazette would have passed by. Again, we would be very close to the time of another municipal election, so that the people who thought they were without a municipal representative in their ward, or a controller, or a mayor, I think would find that the short time period within which there is a hiatus or lack of representation would be so short as to not create serious problems.
But beyond that quarter period, the six months’ period, I suggest difficulties would arise and it would be necessary to embark upon a new by-election to elect those people who have left the municipal scene for service at the provincial level, if they have been successful at the provincial election.
I have outlined the reasons for the amendment -- the justification of the amendment, as I see it -- and in conclusion I would say that I believe this to be a good bill, and one that I suggest should be adopted unanimously by this Legislature, if for no other reason than to give the voting public one less reason for being cynical of politicians.
Mr. Davidson: Point of privilege, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: Point of privilege.
Mr. Davidson: During the course of his remarks, the member for Oriole referred to Cambridge as being one of the municipalities in which a sitting member of the municipal council had sought office as a representative of this House. I would just like to inform the member that that is not true and it may be that he wasn’t aware of that. The former mayor of the community sought office, but she was not a sitting member of council at the time.
Mr. Williams: Mr. Speaker, I stand corrected. I was simply going on the basis of a newspaper account that I have before me the situation.
Mr. Swart: I have to say quite frankly that I’m amazed that this bill has been brought forward apparently with the support of the Conservative caucus. I suggest that to debate this, when there is a private member’s bill on that side of the House which would designate agricultural land and retain it for agricultural use, shows that there is either a horrible distortion of priorities or there’s a real evasion of the issues of substance by the members on that side of the House. I say that this bill serves no useful purpose -- and I think perhaps that’s an understatement. I know I speak for my party and I believe I speak for the great majority of the people of this province -- and certainly the majority of members of councils in opposing this particular bill.
As the hon. member for Oriole has said, the bill provides that a member automatically will have resigned if he is three-quarters of the way though his term of office when he has been nominated as a candidate to the provincial Legislature. But let me just look at the procedures that this will set in motion. If he is an alderman, a councillor or a school board member, the council may appoint someone from outside at some period of time -- there is no time limit on this -- and they may, in fact, wait until the election is over and reappoint that same person to the council. Of course, if they don’t like that person, they can immediately appoint someone else from the outside to fill his or her term of office.
If he is a mayor, a reeve, a deputy reeve or a controller, then he can’t be reappointed. The Act provides they shall appoint a member of council to fill that particular position; if he has resigned, he is no longer a member of council and that mayor or senior person on council or on the board is then out of office for the remainder of the term.
The facts are, of course, that when a member is appointed to fill the mayor’s position, we’ll say, there is generally public sympathy to give him at least the second term; and the person who had served before, and perhaps has served well, is out of public office for many years.
From the candidates’ point of view, I suggest that this is a real deterrent to a higher elected office, especially if they hold senior positions on the council. If they have proved, by being elected to the senior positions that they have the support of the public, then it acts more as a deterrent for them to want to serve in another position because they know that probably they will be out of that particular office for a long period of time. I suggest that this is a disadvantage. This doesn’t promote democracy; nor does it enhance democracy. It deters the whole democratic process if we persuade these people by legislation that they shouldn’t run for a higher office. Also, it may mean a re-election if the council decides to call an election to fill an office; and it means additional money to that candidate who has to run.
From the public’s point of view -- and I think this is perhaps more important than the candidates’ point of view -- it unnecessarily removes a candidate who has been elected by them. I think the arguments which have been put forward by the member for Oriole, if anything, are really in opposition to the principle of the bill which he proposes. They simply mean that some of the candidates who have been elected will be put out of office and will not be able to continue to serve even in the office to which they were elected.
It doesn’t really stop members from running for higher office. It may deter some of them, but it won’t stop the majority from running for higher office. What it means is that those who are defeated, but had been elected to the lower office perhaps by a very high majority, will not be able to continue to serve out their terms. As a result we are going to lose those people. We’re not saving them by this method; we’re going to lose them from the public service.
It may move someone into a very senior position whom the public doesn’t want. The council will have to decide who it is going to appoint as mayor. The public won’t be able to select that person. Even if the mayor is defeated in the provincial election for which he runs, then another person will have to be appointed mayor, not elected by the people but appointed, and it may be someone they wouldn’t select as their mayor. Once again, the bill is inhibiting the true democratic process. Further if the council decides to hold elections it may cost a considerable amount of money to the taxpayers of that municipality.
I suggest there are some specific examples which show how impractical this proposal is. I’d use my own example. I was on municipal council for 21 years. On five occasions, three of them as head of my municipality, I would have been removed from council by this bill. The member for Oriole may think that would be good and there might be some others on his side who would agree with him.
Mr. Warner: The people of Thorold would not.
Mr. Angus: It’s a plot against the member.
Hon. B. Stephenson: A great thing for the municipality. The milk of human kindness doesn’t run in your veins.
Mr. Swart: I also want to point out, so that there can be no doubt about this, that my example in the last election perhaps is the best example. Three members of regional council ran for election in the Welland riding -- it was Welland riding at that time, not Welland-Thorold. I was a member of regional council. The Liberal candidate, Lola Lemelin, was a member of regional council for the city of Welland; I represented Thorold; and the mayor of Welland, who was also on regional council, ran as the candidate for the Conservative Party.
The regional council member for Welland would now not be in office and wouldn’t have been able to continue in office. The mayor of Welland would not have been able to have continued in office for the past 15 months.
The member for Oriole may or may not know the mayor of Welland. He might like to have him removed as the mayor of Welland, but I wouldn’t. I would suggest that he does a commendable job as mayor of Welland. The people put him there and I think he had the right to continue in office. He had the right, if he so wished, to run for a higher office and he had the right to continue in the office to which he was elected if he did not make that higher office. I would suggest to the member for Oriole that he should talk to the mayor of Welland, to tell him and tell the people of Welland that they really have had no right during the last 15 months to have him as the mayor of Welland.
I know that this Legislature a number of years ago passed a bill, largely for the purpose of disciplining one of their own members -- which prohibited a member, after being elected to the legislative assembly, from carrying on in municipal government. I’m referring to a government member. Many members may not know that he is even in this House; he is the former mayor of St. Catharines who now sits as a back-bencher.
But that is a very different situation. They are elected to a higher office. There can then be conflicts of interest between the two offices; therefore, there’s justification for only holding the one office. But here, this bill is saying that that man should not be able to continue to serve any office if he is not elected to the higher office.
Mr. Speaker, the other member from our party who is speaking is not going to take quite the 10 minutes. I will wind up in just a moment.
Mr. Speaker: That aside, the member’s time has expired.
Mr. Swart: Let me conclude in two sentences.
Mr. Mancini: Have him sit down, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Swart: The member is trying to take a democratic right away from the voters. If a person wants to run for higher office and is successful, the voters accept his resignation. But he wants to tell the voters that if he’s not successful they can no longer have him, that they may have to accept someone in his place whom they’ve decidedly rejected.
Mr. Speaker: Thank you. I think the hon. member will have to finish.
Mr. Swart: By this bill, he is not benefiting candidates and he is not benefiting the public. Somehow or other, I say it’s just self-serving some eccentricity --
Mr. Mancini: You are self-serving.
Mr. Givens: I thoroughly agree with the member for Oriole and I thoroughly disagree with the member for Welland-Thorold on this bill.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Good for you.
Mr. Givens: I speak very feelingly about this subject because of my experience of 25 years in political life.
Mr. Angus: They were over when you got here.
Mr. Givens: I guess I’m the only Canadian today who has been the mayor of a big city and who has served at every level of government -- municipal, metro, federal and provincial. I have done so without using any political office as a springboard, or using the salary of any political office for the purposes of a springboard, to elevate myself to higher office. Indeed, when I sought a seat in this Legislature when I was a member of the federal House of Commons I resigned my seat in the federal House of Commons -- and it was a relatively secure seat in York West -- for the purpose of seeking election in this provincial Legislature.
Mr. Swart: You may get another member over there yet.
Mr. Givens: I believe the electoral process should be open to all, that it should be fair to all, that nobody should enjoy a special advantage in seeking office and that nobody should suffer disadvantages and the rules of fair play should apply, like in sports, for instance. But in politics we permit certain people to get away with terribly unfair advantages.
I say that when a person holds municipal political office in any municipality, he has committed himself to a contract for two years. For the people who are running for municipal office now, they know in running for political office now that they’re committing themselves to a trust, to a contract for two years.
You don’t have to be a brilliant political scientist to figure out that within the next two years -- probably next spring or next fall -- there will be a provincial election. Those who are running for municipal office now know that there will be a provincial election and those of them who are thinking in terms of running for provincial office are scheming now, with malice aforethought, to use their municipal office and their municipal salaries as a springboard to get into this provincial Legislature. I say that that is wrong. It is a breach of trust.
This inspires cynicism in the minds of the electorate. It is a breach of trust for them to seek municipal office if they intend to run next spring for this provincial Legislature. It is a misappropriation of public funds to use $25,000 or $30,000 salaries for the purpose of seeking office next spring to run for this provincial Legislature. I say it is absolutely wrong for them to do so when they know that there will be a provincial election.
If they want to seek provincial office, let them stay out of the running in the municipal election, seeking public favour now and public votes, telling people they will serve them municipally to lower the tax rate and do this and that and the other thing, to seek political office now municipally and then to let these people down drastically in a very shamefaced way next spring or next fall by running for provincial office. I say it is wrong to do so, it is a breach of faith, and it is a misappropriation of funds and it’s unfair competition.
Mr. Angus: That’s what it is.
Mr. Givens: Now there is nothing to stop the mayor of North York or the mayor of any borough from running for provincial office. He can either refrain from running as mayor now or he can do so six months from now, but on the day he’s nominated for public office he should be man enough or woman enough to resign and put his head on the block and say, “I am resigning because I believe I can be of greater service provincially. I have had a revelation from heaven; I believe I’m being called to a higher duty. I’m prepared to offer myself to the public for higher duty on this basis and I seek an out from the contract I have made with you where I have pledged my troth to the public to serve you municipally and I’m now seeking your vote to be elected to the legislative assembly of the province of Ontario.”
Look at the position that he or she is in -- the one who is getting himself a $30,000 or $35,000 salary while being the mayor of a borough and serving on Metro at the same time. He’s not running in his spare time; this is a full-time job now. It’s a “Heads I win, tails you lose” proposition. If he wins, he gets elected here; if he loses, he retains his job.
When the member for Welland-Thorold says, “Ah, but you will retain his miraculous and wonderful and marvellous services as a politician as the mayor of Welland or the mayor of Timbuktu,” I tell you, by this time he has besmirched himself and he has sullied his robes of office because he has shown that he has a split personality -- I question his loyalty to serve his municipality thereafter, because he has shown that he really doesn’t want to serve the public in that capacity and that he has cheated the people he promised to represent by being elected to the municipal office, because he intends to run out on them at the first opportunity that he gets at the next provincial election, and I say that is wrong.
Consequently, when people say to me, “You will never get anybody to run. You’ll never get these prize prima donnas from municipal councils to run for public office, for higher office,” I say, “You will never get an outsider to run. You’ll never get anybody to compete with these people, to compete with them when they sit in public municipal office being paid these salaries and using these as a springboard for the purpose of running for provincial office.” I think it’s highly unfair for me to have been in the position that I was in, to have to run against the mayor of the borough of North York, against his salary and his position the last time the way I did.
All right, I beat him, but that’s irrelevant and immaterial. I say it’s against public policy for a person to be in that position and if he wants to run for public office and he wants to improve himself or he wants to elevate himself from the position he’s in, I say fine. Let him do so. There’s nothing that detracts from his position of eminence as a politician and as a public figure, but when the nomination day rolls around two weeks before the election, let him divest himself of that grandeur; but above all let him divest himself of the raiments of office and of the magnificent salary that he gets and put himself down to the position of the ordinary mortal candidate like everybody else is when he runs for public office, and let it be a fair and even-Steven race --
Mr. Angus: That’s what it is.
Mr. Givens: -- with nobody having any advantage over anybody else. This is why I support the principle of Bill 72. As far as the second part of Bill 72 is concerned, I was under the understanding that we had passed an amendment here -- and hon. members may remind me -- about 1½ years ago where we agreed that any municipal person who runs for public office and gets elected has to resign his municipal office whether he’s on three-quarters of a term or not. So actually, in a sense, I think this second part, with great respect, is irrelevant at this time.
Mr. Angus: Irrespective too.
Mr. Givens: I support this bill because I agree with the hon. member for Oriole that this breeds cynicism on the part of the electorate because the electorate sits back and says, “You see this guy, he’s been conning me all along. He didn’t mean to serve me as a municipal representative. He didn’t have my best interests at heart. He didn’t mean what he said when he made all these promises and he sent out that fancy literature promising me he was going to look after my tax rates and my curbs and my potholes, he was promoting himself and his own best interests. He was a climber, and he was climbing on my back. I say that is wrong in principle and it should be prohibited by law.
Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this bill. I think the previous speaker has outlined a great many of the reasons and I don’t intend to repeat them. I think, incidentally, that he understates some of the things that are being done to the voter by the municipal incumbent who decides that he is going to increase his aldermanic or his other pays and move up a step. The most important political office in this province, when it comes to its impact upon people, is at the municipal level. There is very little we can do, or our federal counterparts can do, in terms of legislation or regulation that will really compare in any degree to what can be accomplished with a single stroke of the pen by a local councillor, because after all at that stage votes are decided on the hands in the air or upon the ayes and the nays. They are not decided upon political party standings.
Many a fine neighbourhood in this province, in communities large and small, has been ruined by the inattention or the deliberate design of certain municipal councils. Today, as never before, people are taking a look at the candidates offering themselves for municipal office. In previous years they concentrated their attention upon those seeking office to the federal House or to the provincial assembly.
Now is not the time to allow municipal councils to be occupied by gadflies, promoters and those who quite frankly are using their municipal office to attract attention and then immediately leaping into the provincial fray, because indeed it is a “Heads I win, tails you lose” proposition, because at the municipal council, whether he or she is the mayor or on the board of control or right on down, and on the school board and on all the rest of the local boards, the public utilities commission, the planning board, all these are included in the scope of this Act, and when they decide to seek office it’s a nice easy run, because if they don’t win they continue on with their salary. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. If they win, the municipality is put to two tests, both of them expensive and time consuming: One, they can appoint; or two they have to have a by-election, and by-elections cost a great deal of money.
Mr. Swart: You are going to force them out of office and have a by-election.
Mr. Drea: They don’t have much interest in the office, my friend, because they stand up and say: “Notwithstanding the fact that I have been elected; that I stood on a platform and I said I will be here for two years.” The first time a money proposition comes along: “Oh boy, here I go.” If that’s the kind of municipal councillor you want, then the municipality is better off without he or she and so is the province of Ontario.
Mr. Swart: Do you look on your job here as a money proposition?
Mr. Drea: When you talk about a municipal councillor being removed or being prevented from holding office by the principle of this bill, nobody drafts you to run for office. They don’t come down and put a number on you. You made your own decision. Besides, if you are competent and you win you are out, you have to quit. Incidentally, the legislation was not over the former mayor of St. Catharines. The legislation was done in my time in this Legislature. It was about three years ago and it specifically talked about aldermen, school board people, et cetera.
It was designed to do one thing. It was to prevent people from holding dual office in the most interlocking of all political structures in this country, because the municipality is the creature of the province and here was a person acting on behalf of the municipality this day and being part of the decision making process at the higher level the next. It was felt that the time had come when the voter was entitled to a clear, concise and definitive statement of intention.
Mr. Swart: This forces them to hold no office.
Mr. Drea: Nobody is forcing anybody to do anything in this. While there may be people in this assembly who have over the years obtained their campaign funds and their public attention and notoriety from serving in municipal causes, while taking a great number of flyers, I suggest that as a municipal voter I am not at all interested in a municipal candidate who lies to me, who stands up on a platform and says “Elect me, here is my platform.” I don’t care whether he is running for the separate school board, the public utilities commission, the public school board, for aldermen, for controller, for mayor. Implicit in his or her campaign is, “If elected, I will serve.” I have never met a candidate yet who stood on a platform and said; “I am doing it as a joke. Elect me and I will never show up.” He obviously is not elected.
The point is they are soliciting votes from the public under false pretences. If it was a businessman we would put the businessman in jail. If it was a labour union we would decertify the labour union on the basis of the representations that were made. In fact, if it was a banker who did this we would probably put him in jail. And yet we allow a municipal candidate to stand there and to lie to the voter -- to say, “Elect me, here is what I am going to do,” and then, two or three months later, “I have the call, I can do it all in Queen’s Park.” The only reason they can do it all in Queen’s Park is the salary is better in most cases and it is a four-year term. That is why they want to do it better.
Mr. Swart: That is your attitude.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member had his turn to speak.
Mr. Drea: As a man who has had the longest losing streak in Canadian politics until he suddenly got lucky, I don’t think I would point at me.
Mr. Drea: Throw yourself out.
There is a fundamental issue here. You are either going to have honesty and integrity in political life -- and that means that even if you want to lie on the platform, there are going to be strictures against you coming out with the culmination of that lie.
This bill wouldn’t preclude anyone from running for public office. All it would say is, “You must make a full and a frank disclosure. You must resign. You go into it on the basis of equal opportunities.” I would oppose the principle of this bill if it said “from the date that one announces.” It doesn’t even go that far. It says from nomination day. In the case of the provincial election that is a very small amount of time.
Mr. Givens: Two weeks.
Mr. Drea: That is all it is. I don’t think it should inhibit a person who is on a municipal council who does receive the call. I don’t think it should inhibit them at all. If they feel so deeply and they have received such a magnificent and such a clear call from somewhere, from below or from within or from above, then surely they are prepared to shed, perhaps not the most important commodity, their blood, but their pocket book, on behalf of such an imminent challenge.
I suggest to you Mr. Speaker, that all that is left in municipalities unless this is done are losers. If they win they are out. They have to resign before they can come in here and be sworn in. I suggest that where people are elected to these offices and then immediately cast their ambitious around for something else that will relieve them from their obligation does indeed only produce more cynicism at the level of politics where more honesty is really the only answer to the apathy that will affect us all a week from today.
Mr. Angus: I have been very interested in the remarks that have been made by the Conservative members of this House and the Liberal member, and I must say that the remarks astound me.
Mr. Speaker: May I just point out before the hon. member starts that there is an indication of another member wishing to speak. You are entitled to 10 minutes, but if you wish to divide it I am sure it will be appreciated.
Mr. Angus: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I will try to do my best. If you could give me a nod or two at five minutes I may hit the timing.
One of the things that bothers me about this bill is the fact that we have so many excellent people on our municipal councils, school boards -- what have you -- all across the province of Ontario who are there, not for money, because God knows they don’t make too much doing those responsibilities. Some of the boards don’t pay anything, let alone the meager $6,000 salary the councillors of the city of Thunder Bay get, for instance.
I think the suggestion that has been made in this House that some of the individuals there are just there for the money is irresponsible, and it’s a slap at every municipal councillor in this province. I think they deserve an apology for that. In terms of the ability of these people -- that, again, they’re just there for the money -- I’ll grant you that there are councillors and there are councillors. Some are better than others, some are worse than others. I think, with all due respect, the same can be applied to this House here. The same can be applied to every Legislature in Canada and the federal House; we are all different, we’re different human beings.
An alderman does not control when this House decides to call an election. Some of us aren’t too sure who does control that. They are prepared to give a commitment to their municipality, they’re prepared to go for two years if that be the term. But let me suggest to the members here that there are a lot of other things that they should take into consideration.
The majority of aldermen in this province are working people, whether it be in a profession or a union or what have you, and they don’t necessarily control their work situation. Possibly because of job transfer they’re required to resign mid-term. Things are not static. It’s not a contract that says you must be a member of this city council from January 1, 1977, to December 31, 1979. It doesn’t work that way.
Comment has been made about the unfair competition given over by a sitting member of a council. Let me say one thing, the two individuals that I ran against in the last provincial election -- and I should point out that I was a municipal employee on a leave of absence at the time -- one was an alderman and the other was a sitting member. We can say all sorts of other things, but the fact is that I’m here and neither of them is and that says a certain fact about the competition.
Mr. Hodgson: It will be a short stay.
Mr. Angus: Time will tell; time will tell. The reality is that people look at the individual and, sure enough, a lot of individuals’ names are more in the public attention than other ones. I wouldn’t believe what the member for Armourdale was saying, because I heard about him in the papers in Thunder Bay long before I became involved in politics. He was a name, and if he thinks that didn’t help him get elected to this House or to council or to the federal House, then he’d better rethink his position, because that’s not the way it happens. When one has a name, people recognize him. It’s up to the opposition individual, whoever one is running against, to prove that one is a better person. I think discriminating against sitting council members, or board members or what have you, is unfair and it is discriminatory.
As for the comment -- and I’ll do this very quickly -- regarding cynicism, let me say every voter in Ontario knows a con job, more so at the municipal level than at the provincial level. They can see through the antics of some of the municipal politicians who may be a little bit more hungry for other sorts of things, but they can see it and the votes don’t necessarily transfer from municipal to provincial to federal, what have you.
I would just like to point out that outside of the Metro area the majority of councillors, in fact, even some of the mayors, are part time. We don’t have high salaries out there, we don’t have the people who are doing it full-time, even though a lot of them would like to do it and do a good job at it.
If I may conclude, I am against this bill. In fact, it reminds me of the fight we’ve been pushing, to provide employees in any field, even insurance agencies, have the right to leave of absence so they could not only run but they could be elected to the provincial House or to the federal House, so they have some job security and at such time as they may be defeated or retired, they have an occupation to go back to. I compare this to that request of ours. I would just like to reiterate that, like my colleague, I am against this bill and I would hope -- well, I know it won’t come to a vote, so I don’t have to worry.
Mr. Stong: During the last provincial election, my Conservative opponent was a very popular mayor of one of the towns in my riding. After the election, the paper in that riding wrote an editorial indicating that Queen’s Park’s loss was the town of Markham’s gain and sang his praises. Despite the very eloquent and very compelling arguments used by the member for Armourdale, I have one very great concern arising out of this proposed legislation; that is that we as members at Queen’s Park may be perceived as passing legislation protecting our own self-interest or protecting an incumbent against competition.
At a time when we are over-regulated, this further attempt could be seen to be restricting the democratic process, taking away from the electorate and from the mind of the people and determining the mind of the people by legislation. If the candidate is good and has proven himself at one level of government, why should he be legislated out of existence for candidacy at another level?
We must never overlook the sophistication and the intelligence of the electorate. In the post-Watergate era, we are just beginning to feel the effect of the lessons learned in that episode. The electorate is extremely demanding of its representatives, and so it should be. Our constituents also demand absolute honesty and integrity, and they deserve no less.
Watergate has applied once and for all to politics an old legal maxim which would read: “Not only must a politician be beyond reproach, but he must appear to be beyond reproach.” Opportunism, in any individual, can in some circumstances be one of those reproachable instances. The informed electorate will tell such a person at the appropriate time, such as December 6, whether he or she is simply an opportunist seeking merely personal gratification or whether such a person is a good person with the best interest of the people at heart.
Let us not insult the intelligence of the electorate, no matter what our own personal motivations may be. In fact, the municipally-proven candidate may be best suited for the job in the assembly, and if not his constituents will tell him so at the appropriate time.
Mr. Speaker: This order is discharged from the order paper.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Before moving the adjournment of the House, may I remind the members that tomorrow we will turn to the second order and consider in committee of the whole House Bills 149, 150, 151, 152 and 153. Following that we will go into committee of supply to consider supplementary estimates in the order agreed upon by the critics.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Welch, the House adjourned at 6 p.m.