30th Parliament, 4th Session

L018 - Thu 21 Apr 1977 / Jeu 21 avr 1977

The House met at 2 p.m.



Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, I have a message from the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor, signed by her own hand.

Mr. Speaker: By her own hand, Pauline M. McGibbon, the Honourable the Lieutenant Governor, transmits estimates of certain sums required for the services of the province for the year ending March 31, 1978, and recommends them to the Legislative Assembly, Toronto, April 21, 1977.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Just while you are standing, I regret to inform the House of the death on Wednesday of our former Sergeant-at-Arms, Major G. R. Soame, CD.

Hon. Mr. Welch moved, seconded by Mr. Deans, that the House note with profound regret the passing of Major G. R. Soame, CD, Sergeant-at-Arms of the Ontario Legislature from February, 1972, to October, 1976, and that the House do now observe one minute of silence in his memory.

Motion agreed to.


Mr. Speaker: Just before we embark upon the procedures for the afternoon, I am sure that all hon. members will wish to welcome a distinguished visitor to our Legislature, the Treasurer and former Premier of New South Wales, Australia, the Hon. J. B. Renshaw. Mr. Renshaw is seated in the Speaker’s gallery.



Hon. J. R. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House the minting of medallions for students of Ontario commemorating the silver jubilee of Her Majesty’s reign has been completed. The medallions, both in English and French, are now being forwarded to schools for presentation to their students on May 20, as suggested by my colleague the Minister of Education (Mr. Wells). I am sure that the members are making arrangements with their local educational officials to participate in the presentation ceremonies.

For the members of this House, the silver jubilee medallions have been encased in Lucite forms and they were placed on your desks this afternoon. Should any member prefer to have the medallion in French, I will be very pleased to make arrangements for them to receive it.


Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I would like to place today before the assembly the report of the Attorney General’s committee on the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Ontario.

This committee was appointed by myself in the fall of 1975 to examine the exercise of the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Ontario as a means of meeting the appellate needs of the province and, if necessary, to formulate a more effective means of discharging the appellate function.

The committee recommends an increase in size and a radical restructuring of the Ontario Court of Appeal by creating two separate divisions of that court; one division to hear appeals generally and the other division to hear appeals involving legal issues of general public importance. These recommendations would involve major legislative change.

The committee recommends a number of changes in the administrative organization of the work of the Court of Appeal and makes a number of recommendations on practice and procedures which could be effected without legislation.

In the course of its study the committee distributed a questionnaire to every member of the Law Society of Upper Canada and had extensive discussions with all segments of the legal community.

The committee states that the aims of its recommendations are to provide speedy justice for the participants in litigation and to provide sound jurisprudence for Ontario.

I would like, Mr. Speaker, to express my gratitude to the members of the committee for the considerable time, effort and thought that they have put into this study. The chairman of the committee was Mr. Justice Arthur Kelly, formerly of the Ontario Court of Appeal, and the members were Mr. Robert Carter, Mr. Brendan O’Brien, Mr. Clay M. Powell and Mr. James M. Tory. They have made a most important contribution to this government’s continuing work of improving Ontario’s legal system.

The report contains more than 59 recommendations and my ministry is now considering them.


Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I am tabling today a copy of the order in council appointing the Hon. Mr. Justice John David Cromarty to conduct a public inquiry into the exemption granted under the provisions of The Land Speculation Tax Act, to Ronto Development.

The terms of reference for the inquiry read as follows:

“To inquire as to whether any undue or improper influence was brought to bear from any source or whether there was any other impropriety of any kind in respect of the decision by the government to grant an exemption, under the provisions of The Land Speculation Tax Act, 1974, to the partnership carrying on business as Ronto Development Company; and to report thereon and to make such recommendations to the Lieutenant Governor in Council as he may deem fit.”

The purpose of this inquiry is to respond to the innuendo that has arisen during the debate and discussion --

Hon. Mr. McKeough: Hear, hear!

Mr. Breithaupt: You were doing well until then.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- that has centred on the aforementioned exemption, both in the public accounts committee and in this Legislature.

Mr. Cunningham: Whitewash!

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Such innuendo has, without question, created doubts in the public mind that must be resolved clearly and unequivocally.

It has been suggested by members of the opposition, I understand, that any such inquiry should also review the ministerial procedures that were followed in this instance as well as the decision.

Mr. Bullbrook: You are wrong. That wasn’t the understanding.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: In our opinion, it is not an appropriate matter for a judicial inquiry since it would involve a member of the judiciary in what could clearly be an exercise in the second-guessing of a ministerial decision.

Mr. Nixon: Then why shouldn’t a select committee deal with it?


Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: The proper forum for that type of exercise --

Mr. Lewis: Louder!

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- is obviously this Legislature and/or the standing committees which have been created for just such purposes.

Mr. Bullbrook: That isn’t what we suggested at all, and you shouldn’t be allowed to do it.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Should opposition members wish to pursue further the matter of procedures, as well as the ultimate decision of the cabinet to grant the exemption, through a standing committee of this Legislature, there would certainly be no objection from this side of the House.

Mr. S. Smith: Why didn’t you do it in the first place?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I give that assurance, even though it must be observed that there has been ample opportunity already, in the public accounts committee, to ask all of the relevant questions which now, for reasons which I quite frankly find difficult to understand --

Mr. Reid: We didn’t get any relevant answers.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- some would want to impose on the judicial inquiry.

Mr. Lewis: We don’t mind your concerns.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: In conclusion, the government is anxious that the public should have all of the relevant information as well as all of the necessary assurances that relate to the exemption granted to Ronto Development Company, and we are taking this step today as a clear indication that we are willing to pursue all necessary and appropriate paths to ensure that this is the case.


Mr. S. Smith: On a point of order.

Mr. Deans: On a point of privilege.

Mr. Speaker: Point of privilege?

Mr. Deans: My point of privilege, sir, is that having been the member who moved in the public accounts committee that the entire matter be referred to a judicial inquiry, I take great exception to the suggestion by the Attorney General that innuendo, on the part of anyone in this party at least, had any bearing on the decision of the government to conduct such a judicial inquiry.

I want to suggest to the Attorney General that this inquiry, with those terms of reference, cannot possibly find any wrongdoing since no one has suggested there was any. I want to suggest further that it would have been appropriate for such a judicial inquiry to have looked at whether or not the minister and the ministry had before it all of the relevant material necessary to come to a reasonable conclusion with regard to the exemption; that was all that was asked for.

I want to say further to you, sir, in conclusion, that it would make sense -- and I’m sure it would be supported by others -- that the public accounts committee, adequately staffed, should continue its review of the matter that was before it to come to the conclusion on the matters that the ministry has refused to deal with.

Mr. Bullbrook: There was no need for that statement. The Premier wasn’t here for his statement, which was in error and provocative -- and it didn’t have to be.

Mr. S. Smith: On a point of privilege --

Mr. Speaker: I believe this is more properly a point of order. It’s correcting an impression which seems to have been wrong.

Mr. S. Smith: On the same point --

Mr. Speaker: I will hear the hon. member for Hamilton West.


Mr. S. Smith: On the same point that was raised by the hon. member for Wentworth, I want to make it clear that the Liberal Party dissociates itself from this inquiry because, despite our respect for the learned judge, we believe that the judge’s hands have been tied to avoid the real issues. What the Liberal Party has requested is that the terms of reference include whether the Minister of Revenue was correctly and adequately informed of all the facts; and if he had been correctly informed of all the facts, would there be in the public Treasury today an additional sum of money, be it $500,000 or $2 million.

Hon. Mr. Davis: That is no substitute question.

Mr. Nixon: That’s precisely it.

Mr. S. Smith: That is the question precisely. There is no suggestion of innuendo, no suggestion of criminality, no suggestion of wrongdoing --

Some hon. members: Oh, oh.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Read what some of the members have said. Where is the member for Grey-Bruce (Mr. Sargent)?

Mr. Speaker: Order; order, please.

Mr. S. Smith: -- and I would like to inform the House that I shall be releasing a statement to the press in Ontario to make that very clear. These are straw men that the government is setting up --

Hon. Mr. Davis: Oh, come on.

Mr. S. Smith: -- in order to knock down and give themselves a pat on the back when they don’t deserve it.

Hon. Mr. Davis: You are embarrassed beyond need.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Kerrio: Miffed again.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The statement has been made --

Mr. Bullbrook: That’s the problem. The statement was made, you allowed it.

Mr. Speaker: -- and the points of order have been properly taken.

Mr. Bullbrook: It didn’t have to be that --

Mr. Kerrio: You could have built houses with the money you allowed them on paper work.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.


Hon. Mr. Snow: I would like to announce today, Mr. Speaker, that Ontario regulation number 906/76 under The Highway Traffic Act pertaining to the classified driver licence requirements is to be amended.

My ministry has been approached by members of the farming community and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food --

Mr. Reid: And the member for Rainy River.

Hon. Mr. Snow: -- who expressed concern that the requirements of the classified driver licensing system might impose restrictions on the farmer’s freedom of action in assigning helpers or temporary employees to drive farm vehicles, for example during seeding or harvesting time.

Together with those interested groups, we studied every aspect of the problem and considered several options. One option emerged which we think will meet the main concerns of the farmers, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and MTC.

In the regulation, we speak of class D and class C motor vehicles, Class D includes motor vehicles which exceed 18,000 pounds gross vehicle weight provided any towed vehicles are not over 10,000 pounds. Class G refers to the licence requited to drive cars, light trucks, et cetera, up to a registered gross vehicle weight of 18,000 pounds.

The amendment in effect deems a class D motor vehicle to be a class G motor vehicle if the vehicle is owned by a fanner and used for his personal transportation or the transportation of his farm products, supplies and equipment to and from his farm.

Under the existing regulation which deals with vehicle registration, the farmer’s permit for the vehicle is marked “farm vehicle” by the ministry. And such a “farm vehicle” could now he driven on the highways by the farmer or his helpers holding a class G licence.

I feel that this amendment to the regulation will provide a workable solution for the great majority of farmers, while maintaining control over drivers of the more complex class A vehicles such as tractor-trailers.

Mr. Riddell: Glad you listened to my suggestions.

Mr. Speaker: Order.



Mr. Lewis: May I begin, Mr. Speaker, by putting a question to the Treasurer? In establishing a new unemployment norm of 5.3 per cent, has the Treasurer calculated the additional and continuing costs of social assistance and unemployment insurance benefits to the people of the province of Ontario to pay for the difference of more than 100,000 people who lie between the original three per cent and the present 5.3 per cent; and if indeed he has tabulated those costs, which one would assume he has done, does he not think that those dollars would be better used to create lobs than to pay people for being perpetually unemployed?

Hon. Mr. McKeough: To my knowledge, Mr. Speaker, those calculations have not been done.

Mr. Deans: They have not been done?

Mr. Speaker: A question?

Mr. Lewis: I don’t know how they haven’t been done, but they haven’t been done.

By way of a further supplementary then, can the Treasurer indicate rather more precisely the definition of people who would be involved in this perpetual unemployment syndrome that he has now adopted as social policy, beyond the generalized references in the budget paper to women, young people and those over the age of 54? Can he categorize it more explicitly for us than that?

Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, no more than I would categorize -- and what a cruel term that is --

Mr. Cassidy: You have done a lot of categorizing in this budget.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. minister.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: No more than I categorized -- nor did I think the hon. member categorized -- the people who were in the three per cent full employment figure or three per cent unemployment. You don’t categorize people that way.

An hon. member: You sound like the leader, Darcy.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: We’re not accepting that that is an acceptable level of unemployment --

An hon. member: You already have.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- but I’m not going to categorize people in some bureaucratic and abstract way.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please. A supplementary.

Mr. Lewis: The Treasurer has embodied in his budget paper the punishing and morally reprehensible categories of women as exploiters of unemployment insurance -- as secondary earners -- of youth as having no particular option or hope for continuing employment, and older people over the age of 54. Does the Treasurer not think it is now appropriate to show how particularly vulnerable certain groups will therefore be, such as workmen’s compensation recipients seeking light work; single parent families; those presently on social allowance; those whom he classifies as permanently unemployable? Does he not understand that by categorizing people in his budget paper he has created no prospects for all of these vulnerable groups in society?

Mr. Deans: I don’t think he understands.

An hon. member: He doesn’t care.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, the member refuses to recognize that there have been changes in the composition of and the participation in the Ontario, and I assume the Canadian, work force. The fact is that as recently as 1971 participation, for example by adult males, who are males of 15 years and over, was 79.5. That figure has not changed to 1976, when it was 79.6. During that period in time, for a whole variety of reasons, the participation by females in the work force has risen from 40.2 to 48.9.

Mr. Lewis: What’s wrong with that?

Hon. Mr. McKeough: Nothing is wrong with that.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. minister.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: I think it is of some interest to members and to the public to examine how the work force has been made up and how it is changing. I am not, for one minute, accepting that 5.3 is an acceptable figure.

Mr. Lewis: You accepted it.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: I have not accepted 5.3 as an acceptable level.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The question has been asked and the hon. Treasurer is answering; now please, order. The hon. Leader of the Opposition.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I would be delighted if the hon. member --

Mr. Lewis: You are retreating now.

An hon. member: The budget’s only two days old.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- could point out in the budget document, or in my statement since, where I have said that 5.3 per cent was an acceptable level of unemployment. I suppose there is no acceptable level of unemployment. The fact is that in 1976, the level of unemployment for prime age males from 25 to 54 was 3.4 per cent. I knew people in 1976 who were prime age males who were unemployed and it as unacceptable to them and it was unacceptable to me.

Mr. Lewis: And you do nothing about it.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: I’m not accepting --

Mr. Lewis: You have no policies, that is why you use this.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: I’m not accepting a level of unemployment at three, at one, at 5.3, or at six. That is not the point of the exercise. Nor is the point of the exercise to go on playing politics with the unemployed people of this province.


Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. Lewis: On a point of order.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Your point of order.

Mr. Lewis: Yes, my point of order, Mr. Speaker, is far from playing politics with the issue, I was attempting to --


Mr. Lewis: Well let me state the point of order. I was attempting to convey to the Treasurer that his establishment of 5.3 per cent as a full employment norm is an excuse for the absence of job-creating policies, nothing less, nothing more; and he should understand it that way.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Just on response to the point of order, very briefly.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: Responding to the point of order, let me say this: There is no excuse, there is no justifying the levels of unemployment in this province today. Some of us, and I think some people, are interested in trying to understand the facts; and again I say not play politics with unemployed men and women.

Mr. Deans: You have done it all along, you have always done it.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. This is getting to be a debate. Thank you.

Mr. Lewis: No, on a point of order, sir.

Mr. Speaker: Your point of order.


Mr. Lewis: On a point of order: The Treasurer has asked where did he say it. On page 12 of the budget, under job creation, he says categorically: “Even in 1973 and 1974, during a period of high growth and rapid inflation, unemployment remained above the then accepted full employment norm. Budget paper A suggests that the full employment target for Ontario appropriate for the 1970s is 5.3 per cent, up from three per cent -- ” and if it was acceptable then, the Treasurer clearly indicates that 5.3 is acceptable now.


Mr. Speaker: Order. I think the record has been set straight. We will hear a supplementary. Order, please.

Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, this whole debate has been out of order.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: On a point of order, nowhere am I saying that 5.3 per cent or three per cent or one per cent is an acceptable level of unemployment.

An hon. member: You are not going to weasel out of that one, Darcy.

Mr. S. Smith: This whole exchange has been for the benefit of the television cameras. It has all been out of order.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

An hon. member: Where are the jobs?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I think that so-called point of order has been stretched far enough. We will have a supplementary question from the member for London Centre.

Mr. Peterson: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. To the Treasurer, Mr. Speaker: Given his new definition of 5.3 per cent for full employment, could he tell us what that relates to, is that to the federal average? Why couldn’t it have been four per cent or five per cent, or indeed six per cent; and is it the Treasurer’s intention, if unemployment gets worse, to increase that next year to define away some of the problems? The second part of my supplementary is, doesn’t the Treasurer think that the relevant numbers are the total number of unemployed, rather than this by and large totally meaningless debate that he has introduced with respect to three or five or six or whatever number he chooses.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I would suggest, for the member’s edification, that if he would read the budget paper he would find the rationale for 5.3. I don’t propose to take the time of the House to repeat it to him today. It is fully explained in the paper how 5.3, rather than 3.3 or 6.3 was arrived at. It will be a good experience for the member to sit down and read it.

Mr. S. Smith: It’s to make your failure look better, that’s all.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: The second part of the member’s question --

An hon. member: Get that on TV.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: The second part of the member’s question concerned whether numbers are more important. I couldn’t agree with him more. Whether it’s one person, 100,000 or 300,000, we are concerned on this side of the House and we are not going to go through the twisting that they go through over there.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary; Within this permanent army of more than 200,000 unemployed that the Treasurer proposes for Ontario, can he give us the target rates of unemployment for so-called prime aged males and for the three classes of secondary working groups?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. That’s straying from the original question, I believe. That may be a good later question. The hon. Leader of the Opposition’s further question.

Mr. Lewis: May I ask the Treasurer: Can he tell the House where he discovered that President Carter of the United States -- can he show us the statement in which President Carter has ever announced that 4.9 per cent unemployment is a full employment norm? Would he like to show us the document? I assume he has it.


Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, that was the Council of Economic Advisers to President Carter; and I would refer the member to a very excellent article in this morning’s paper by Wilfred List documenting a number of other sources.

What he also points out is that labour economists don’t accept it; so I wouldn’t expect the member to either understand or accept it.

Mr. Deans: Where is Carter’s statement?

Hon. Mr. McKeough: But the fact is that independent research is accepting a higher number than three. If the member wants to live in his cocoon and twist facts that’s fine with us.

Mr. Deans: Did you make that up?


Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. Leader of the Opposition.

Mr. Lewis: The Treasurer said so assertively in the budget delivery that President Carter had made such a statement; I gather he’s saying now that it isn’t the case?

Hon. Mr. McKeough: No, as I believe I made clear the other night -- I said it ad lib -- I said that the Council of Economic Advisers --


Mr. Speaker: Order.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: It was not in the budget statement and the member knows it.

Mr. Lewis: You added it.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: I added it because you were interrupting me -- so very rudely, I might say.

An hon. member: How do you expect him to concentrate when you’re interrupting him?

Mr. Lewis: I apologize for distressing such a frail Rower of an adult male.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Two people do not have the floor. Is the statement completed?

Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, if I could just answer the question --

Mr. Lewis: Are your petals wilting a bit, while I ask a supplementary?

Hon. Mr. McKeough: I can give the member some figures.

Mr. S. Smith: I hope it isn’t ad lib, I hope it’s true.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: Four point nine per cent is the full labour force, according to the Council of Economic Advisers; three per cent for prime age males of 25 to 54, is the level set by the Brookings Institution in a report which is coming out soon; 5.6 per cent is, of course, the rate which triggers the federal contribution to the unemployment insurance fund; 4.5 per cent was the figure used by the Economic Council of Canada in the 13th annual review, The Inflation Dilemma.

Mr. Lewis: It would be lower for Ontario.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: The Institute for Policy Analysis of the University of Toronto used a figure of 5.5 per cent. Those are just some of the numbers which 5.3 fits into --

Mr. Lewis: For Canada?

Hon. Mr. McKeough: -- but if the member wants to go on using something that is 15 years old; something almost as bankrupt as his policy.


Mr. Peterson: Supplementary: Since the Treasurer is in fact forecasting higher unemployment, growing at about five per cent and with job creation falling behind that, is it his ministry’s intention to revise its full employment figures up?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. leader’s question had to do with President Carter’s so-called statement.

Mr. Peterson: This relates absolutely and directly, and I think you’re being very uncharitable in this particular instance, Mr. Speaker, I really do.

Mr. Speaker: It relates to President Carter’s statement? It is very difficult to hear when there are so many interjections. The original question, I remind the hon. member again, had to do with President Carter’s alleged statement. I haven’t detected the relationship; if here is one I’ll hear the hon. member.

Mrs. Campbell: It’s a point of order.

Mr. Peterson: In fairness, I will work President Carter into this question, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: We’ll decide that.

Mr. Breithaupt: I am sure he will appreciate it.

Hon. Mr. Davis: His energy policy or his speech?

Mr. Peterson: All of it, eventually, depending on how much time we have.

Supplementary to the Treasurer: Since he is forecasting higher unemployment running ahead of job creation, does that mean then -- so that we are clear on this side -- that he will be revising his full employment figures up to match the more dismal figures that are appearing? Is there a possibility that it will be 5.6 per cent or six per cent next year? Is that what he is telling us?

Mr. Speaker: That is supplementary to the first question, not to number two. It is a good question for later.

Mr. Peterson: President Carter is very concerned about this too, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.


Mr. S. Smith: A question of the Treasurer: Given the Treasurer’s assertion in last year’s budget that 116,000 new jobs would be created in Ontario in the calendar year 1976, can the Treasurer inform the House as to how many jobs were in fact created during the year under his administration?

Hon. Mr. McKeough: I’ll get that number; I don’t have it here. It’s not under my administration. What utter nonsense, what utter nonsense!

Mr. Breithaupt: You said it was not going to happen.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: It’s the private sector in this province that creates the jobs, not socialist governments and socialist opposition. What utter nonsense!

Mr. Lewis: That was the Liberal leader’s question! Why is the Treasurer so rigid and inflexible all the time?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We are straying from a proper question period. The hon. member for Hamilton West with a supplementary to his question:

Mr. S. Smith: I have a supplementary. I recognize, of course, that the Treasurer denies any responsibility for the atmosphere when things go wrong in the private sector, but accepts responsibility when things go well in the private sector.

Mr. Speaker: A supplementary question now.

Mr. S. Smith: But since he doesn’t seem to know, and since we wouldn’t want him to say anything ad lib, heaven forbid, I will tell him that his own officials say that only 76,000 jobs were created. This means a difference of 52 per cent between the reality and his prediction. I would ask him, therefore, why we should believe his predictions this year about employment when they were 52 per cent off last year.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I made a speech the other day, and I would be glad to indicate the variation between what we forecast last year and what actually happened. Our one serious error was job creation, most of our other forecasts were on. There is no question that for a number of years the Ontario government, in the person of the Ontario Treasurer -- not just me -- has stuck his neck out and forecast figures, which the member’s good friends in Ottawa have never done because they don’t have the guts, they just don’t have the courage.

Mr. Breithaupt: Now it is their fault.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Eakins: Ask Clark.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Could we get back to a more proper question period and not be quite so provocative on all sides? A supplementary for the member for Hamilton West first.

Mr. S. Smith: Since the Treasurer admits that his figures were in serious error last year -- to use his own words, given ad lib -- would the Treasurer tell us in what way his method for predicting the unemployment figures this year has changed from last year so that we can have more confidence and lend more credence to the figures this year?

Mr. Eakins: That’s a fair question, Darcy.

Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I have greater confidence in myself and less in the leader of the third party, and that allows me to think anything I want.

Mr. Ruston: Answer the question.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please. We are wasting good time here. We’ll have the final supplementary from the member for Ottawa Centre.

Mr. Cassidy: Mr. Speaker, in view of what the Treasurer just said, can he explain why it is that in this year’s budget he did not put a figure on the number of jobs that he hopes will he created in the economy?

Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, we used, in the forecast -- on page 41 -- we used percentages. There are many things not in my speech -- aren’t you glad? But I’m saving them for you, I really am.


Mr. S. Smith: My question is for the Premier, if I may just attract his attention for a moment:

Hon. Mr. Davis: Is it my attention or the television you are after?

Mr. S. Smith: Since the Premier represents a Peel riding, could he make some comment regarding the Peel teachers’ work-to-rule situation, especially in view of the fact that it is now reported that the teachers intend not to set final exams, that marks will be withheld and the mood has turned rather ugly? Could I ask him specifically would he consider intervening personally, as the students have asked him to do; and can he report on whether the Education Relations Commission have been requested to report immediately on this very unfortunate situation?

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, in that the city of Brampton is a very important part of the board’s activities, I obviously have a very personal interest. The fact that I also have one of my family in the secondary grades who has not received his examination results -- which, probably for him, has not been such a bad thing, in his view; in his view -- I emphasize that.

Mr. Peterson: Very much like his father.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Don’t misunderstand me -- or feel that I’m condoning what is going on -- but it all depends on the individual attitude of one or two students. I hope that won’t be widely reported.

Mr. Reid: You can count on it.


Hon. Mr. Davis: I should never have said it, I should never have said it; I can see it now.

Anyway, all facetiousness aside, the ERC has summoned both parties. They are meeting at 7 o’clock tonight, and either the minister or myself will keep the House fully informed as this matter progresses. The meeting is called for 7 this evening.

Mr. S. Smith: A brief supplementary: Would the Premier or the Minister of Education feel that their own presence in the situation could be helpful at this point?

Mr. Martel: Probably not.

An hon. member: Definitely not, knowing him.

Hon. Mr. Kerr: Always.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I can assure the hon. member if I felt at this moment that my presence would help, I would be there. Hopefully that occasion will not occur. I really think it is better that it proceed the way it is, with the meeting that has been arranged for this evening.

Mr. Ruston: Get Lorne.

Mr. Sweeney: Supplementary: Given the bitterness with which the students have expressed their opinion on this particular issue, regardless of what ERC recommends, is there some way the Premier could guarantee that the exam results and the career potential of these students would not be damaged by this particular situation? I’m concerned about the bitter feelings of the students.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I am concerned not only about the feelings of the students, I’m very concerned not just as a member but as a parent as to the actual potential effect on the students. I am optimistic that if this matter can be resolved from a straight administrative point of view, the present difficulties can be sorted out immediately. The condition precedent to that, of course, is getting a resolution between the two parties. If that comes about -- and I can’t comment any further at this moment -- if that happens, I can’t speak for all the schools but in some I know the testing has in fact taken place and the marks are there. It’s a question then of the reporting. This is, shall we say, the mid-term examinations. The escalation of the work to rule has been referring to “final examinations,” to the extent that some of the schools allow students to finish --

Mr. S. Smith: Some schools still have those?

Hon. Mr. Wells: All schools.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Oh, listen, I will say the ones I know have them. Perhaps in Hamilton they don’t, but in Peel we do; I can’t speak for Hamilton.

Anyway, to get back to the question, I really think, knowing a little bit about it, the problem can be solved if the broader problem is concluded in the very near future.


Mr. Deans: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. Will the minister provide for the House the documentation -- which I’m sure must have been available at the time the decision was made to place a five-cent tax on non-returnable pop cans -- with regard to the impact of that tax on the employment picture in the industry producing the cans?

Hon. Mr. Kerr: Yes, Mr. Speaker. This bill, of course, will be debated some time in the near future, but in the meantime I would be happy to let the hon. member have any information, background studies, assessments, analyses, that led to that decision.

Mr. Deans: As a supplementary question, I wonder if the minister would be able, today in the House, to tell us what he meant when be said that he did not think the tax would affect the pop can industry substantially? What is his definition of “substantially,” in relation to the pop can industry and employment as a result of this five-cent tax? How many jobs may be lost?

Hon. Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, my conclusion is, from the information I have, that there need not be any layoffs in the industry. The question was referring particularly to the steel industries in Hamilton. In our opinion, there need not be any layoffs as a result of the five-cent tax on pop cans.

Mr. Cunningham: Supplementary: Wouldn’t the minister agree that, given the serious difficulties we’re having with litter across the province of Ontario and the need to, in fact, emphasize recycling, a five-cent deposit wouldn’t have been a better direction?

Hon. Mr. Kerr: No, Mr. Speaker. For one thing, as the hon. member knows, the retail outlets, stores, corner stores, are finding it difficult now to handle a greater increase in returnable bottles. There are complaints that they’re not able to handle them, they haven’t got the space or the manpower and things of that sort. If we placed a deposit on cans they would immediately have to handle empty cans. It is my understanding that of the three considerations that we had in respect to the can -- whether they should be banned, whether there should be a tax or a deposit -- it was felt that the tax would be less disruptive to the industry and this would give the government the opportunity to get into the whole programme of recycling, rather than depend on the industry itself to set up recycling depots.

Mr. S. Smith: You are wrong there, part of it should be a deposit.



Mr. Riddell: A question of the Treasurer, Mr. Speaker: Can the minister clarify for us, and give us details, of the types of jobs that are to be created in the agricultural sector as outlined in the budget, which indicated that new funding will be provided for job creation in the agriculture infrastructure?

Hon. Mr. McKeough: The Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. W. Newman) can supply those details. He is not here, but no doubt he will be.


Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, on April 6 the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy) asked me about a case in Niagara Falls involving wiretapping and a telephone repairman. This is a rather complicated case, but I will attempt to set it out briefly in chronological order for the members.

Officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Niagara Falls had obtained valid authorization and renewals for intercepting private communications in a residence in connection with investigation of various drug offences. During the course of this investigation, a Bell Canada employee had occasion to be at the residence in question to make some telephone repairs or installations. The resident of the home told the serviceman that he felt there was something wrong with the telephone and asked that it be checked out.

The serviceman investigated. He found an intercepting device under the rug in the premises and described the nature of the device, which was operational at the time, to the resident of the home. This was apparently in contravention of Bell Canada policy but is not a matter which concerns the criminal courts.

Monitoring officers of the RCMP shortly arrived on the scene armed with a warrant, which purported to permit a search for electronic devices apparently used in contravention of Part IV(i) of The Criminal Code, and retook possession of their device.

Mr. Foulds: You’re kidding.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: The RCMP officers then inquired of Alan Root, Crown attorney for the judicial district of Niagara South, as to whether a charge against the serviceman should be laid pursuant to the provisions of section 178.20(i) of The Criminal Code. Mr. Root was advised that this was possibly the second occasion upon which this particular Bell Canada employee had contravened Bell policy. The policy demands, apparently, that investigations concerning possible foreign devices on company lines are to be conducted by or under the authority of Bell Canada’s security department. In light of this information, the Crown attorney requested that a brief be prepared in order to assist him in resolving whether a charge should be laid as requested by the RCMP.

After reviewing the completed brief, the Crown attorney concluded the Bell Canada serviceman had not contravened section 178.20(i) of The Criminal Code. The serviceman had disclosed the existence of an intercepting device, but he had not wilfully disclosed an intercepted private communication; or any part thereof; or the substance, meaning or purport thereof; or the existence thereof, in violation of section 178.20(i) of The Criminal Code.

As a result, the Crown attorney instructed that there was in fact no charge known to law contained in the information prepared by the officer, and thereby no reasonable and probable grounds upon which the officer could so swear. The officer was told by the Crown attorney that although he could not tell the officer not to swear the information, the officer would have to be satisfied in his own conscience, on reasonable and probable grounds, that an indictable offence had been committed before he could so swear an information. The Crown attorney also told the officer that if such an information was sworn, the Crown would seek a ruling from the court as to whether the information disclosed an offence known to law and would put his ruling on the subject to the trial tribunal.

On March 20, 1977, the charge came on for hearing before His Honour Judge Johnstone L. Roberts at the provincial court criminal division at Niagara Falls. The Crown attorney had discussed his position with the defence counsel, and in open court asked for a ruling upon the validity of the information sworn by the RCMP officer and made his submissions with respect to it. The judge agreed with the Crown attorney’s position and as a result thereby quashed the information, thereby discharging the Bell Canada serviceman.

In addition to this information on the circumstances of this case, I have also asked officials of my ministry and the Crown attorney involved to prepare a report on why the RCMP took this course of action in this ease, particularly in view of the advice given by our local Crown attorney.

Mr. Singer: Supplementary: Could the Attorney General advise us whether or not he has given instructions to the OPP and to the various forces throughout the province that they don’t proceed in the manner that the RCMP did?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: It hasn’t been necessary to give any such instructions, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. S. Smith: I have a brief supplementary, if I might. Is the Attorney General aware of whether the Bell Canada education of its servicemen is such that servicemen could reasonably be required not to divulge such wiretaps as they might discover, but that they have a clearly defined procedure by which to handle such matters?

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I don’t have any additional details with respect to the Bell Canada policy apart from what I have already indicated to members, Mr. Speaker.


Mr. Speaker: Is this a supplementary? Well, I’ll allow a final supplementary to the member for Erie.

Mr. Haggerty: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, a supplementary question to the minister: Will he guarantee that there will be some provisions made through his ministry to the federal government that there will be some protection given to the employees? Bell Canada, as I understand it, are supposed to inform the employee of such a wiretap. In this particular case the employee was never notified.

Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I have asked for the additional information with respect to any other circumstances that might be of assistance. Having once had the opportunity of reviewing that information, I think at that time I’ll determine whether some specific representation should be made to the RCMP.


Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Community and Social Services with respect to an application for a judicial inquiry under section 3 of The Child Welfare Act received by him on April 6.

Given that the application brief for a public inquiry documents that a ward of the Peel Children’s Aid Society was charged with a criminal offence as a result of his protesting isolation in an unheated, unlit, rat-infested garage; and given that the same ward was, in the words of a family court judge, being railroaded into training school by the Peel Children’s Aid; and given, finally, that the application brief documents the destructive use of criminal justice procedures against Children’s Aid Society wards, in violation both of the best interests of the children and of their legal and civil rights, including denial of treatment and of counsel, will the minister order a public inquiry under section 3 of the Act: (1) To examine the particulars; (2) to determine whether they typify the administration of The Child Welfare Act; and (3) to render a set of recommendations on the best interests versus the legal and civil rights of children in the care of Children’s Aid Societies?

Hon. Mr. Norton: Mr. Speaker, I confirm I have received such a request from a Mr. Wilson on April 6. immediately upon receipt of that I asked my staff to review the material and to consult with me, and I have been in regular consultation with them over the past two weeks on the matter of the subject of the request.

Further, on my instruction my associate deputy minister has been in contact with Mr. Wilson. I was advised this morning that as of a couple of days ago a meeting has been set up for tomorrow to explore the matter further with Mr. Wilson personally. I can assure the member that the concerns raised by Mr. Wilson are concerns that are shared by those of us who are involved in the delivery of service to children in this province. As soon as we have had an opportunity to consult directly with him, I will then be in a much better position to determine what the most appropriate course of action is pursuant to his request.

Mr. McClellan: By way of supplementary, would the minister not agree that the ultimate responsibility for making Children’s Aid Societies responsible and accountable for the care of children in Ontario is vested with the minister under the Act? Because of this and because this issue raises the question of the child welfare equivalent of malpractice, therefore would the minister not agree he must order a judicial inquiry?

Hon. Mr. Norton: No, not until I have had an opportunity to examine the matter as thoroughly as I possibly can on the basis of the information presently available to me, both from my staff and from Mr. Wilson.


Mr. Edighoffer: I have a question for the Minister of Revenue. Will the minister indicate to the House whether or not definite action has been taken by the ministry to extend current sales tax exemption to include underground utility cables?

Hon. Mrs. Scrivener: Mr. Speaker, I’ll report on this in a few days.

Mr. Speaker: Supplementary?

Mr. Edighoffer: By way of supplementary. I believe the minister wrote to the OMEA on March 8 suggesting that this exemption would take place. I had hoped that there would be a definite answer by now.

Mr. Speaker: So your question is?

Mr. Nixon: Why doesn’t she know about it?

Mr. Edighoffer: I would like an answer, yes.


Hon. Mr. Davis: In answer to your question, you would like an answer, “yes.”

Mr. Speaker: Is this a supplementary?

Mr. Peterson: I’m just wondering, Mr. Speaker, if the minister could have a standing response to all questions, “I have no idea, Mr. Speaker,” and not take up the time of the House.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please. That’s not supplementary to this question.

Hon. Mr. Davis: The member has more charity in him than that.

Mr. Speaker: The hon. Minister of Community and Social Services has answers to a question or two -- I believe two answers. You may give them now. The hon. minister.


Hon. Mr. Norton: First of all I have a response to the question raised on April 5 by the hon. member for Kitchener (Mr. Breithaupt), at which time he asked a question related to the number of inspectors who were presently engaged in the inspection of children’s homes and Children’s Aid Societies in the province of Ontario.

I wish to advise him that there are at the present time 12 full-time inspectors and consultants to cover the institutions that he indicated in his question. In addition to this, there are other consultants used on a part-time basis who are concerned principally with financial matters and home economics relating to these homes.

The work of the provincial inspectors is heavily supplemented by Children’s Aid workers who regularly visit children placed in residential care by the 50 societies across the province. If these workers identify problems within any one home, they are instructed to contact the provincial inspector for that area, or their head office here at Queen’s Park.

Visits are made at least annually to children’s boarding homes to do a formal inspection related to the renewal of registration. Many other visits are made to assist with programme development or to investigate complaints. In general, this level of staffing is believed to be adequate for the protection of the children concerned and the maintenance of programme standards. Of course, accidents will occur in any system, but these cases have not been the result, to my knowledge, of problems in provincial staff coverage to this time.

In addition, I have a response to a question of the same day from the hon. member for St. George (Mrs. Campbell) relating to another group of homes, those homes having fewer than five children. These homes are, of course, not subject to the requirements, at the present time, of The Children’s Boarding Homes Act and other provincial legislation and we therefore do not have all of the information that the hon. member requests.

Despite the fact that these homes fall outside the requirements of the legislation, they are by no means left uninspected. Many Children’s Aid Societies will not place children in an unregistered home and the exceptions are usually house parents whose work is well-known to the society and who have demonstrated their ability to care for children. They are visited regularly by Children’s Aid workers and encouraged to provide all reasonable safety measures.

Furthermore, The Child Welfare Act, section 2, subsection 2(d) provides for the inspection by the province of any place in which a child in the care of the Children’s Aid Society is placed. This means that even though the premises may not fall within the requirements of The Children’s Boarding Homes Act, it may be inspected. The directions given the inspectors, if children in the care of the Children’s Aid Societies are placed in these residences, are that they are to inspect.

Mrs. Campbell: Supplementary: Could I ask the minister if he would clarify the date upon which the additional supervisors were engaged, since the information given to us by his ministry was that there were four and one-half such supervisors? We translated that to between four and five to make it more understandable to those reading the report.


Hon. Mr. Norton: Yes, I will. I don’t have that information. I was not aware that there had been any added very recently, but I will check to see when the number became 12.


Ms. Gigantes: Mr. Speaker, I’d like to ask a question of the Treasurer. I wonder if he could provide a rationale for counting all women as part of the secondary labour force of Ontario?

Mr. Lewis: That famous budget paper of yours.

Mr. Deans: Remember, the other night?

Mr. Lewis: Remember that?

Hon. Mr. McKeough: I can’t recall off the top of my head. I’ll get the answer for the member.

Mr. Lewis: You certainly should.


Mr. Speaker: Order. Is there a supplementary? Yes.

Ms. Gigantes: When the Treasurer is looking into this question to provide a rationale, I wonder if he would take into account the fact that there are 25,000 unemployed women in the province of Ontario who are either: 1. Single, and, therefore, self-supporting; or, 2. Single heads of families, and, therefore, having to support families; and would he take this into consideration when perhaps he thinks of redefining what the primary labour force of Ontario is?

Mr. Speaker: I understand the answer is “yes.”

Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary --

Mr. Speaker: Well, was the hon. member for Peterborough wishing to ask a supplementary? We’ll allow the member for Peterborough with her supplementary.

Ms. Sandeman: Yes, I was waiting for the answer, Mr. Speaker.

Further to the previous supplementary, would the Treasurer also take into account those women who do not appear on the unemployment rolls, but who were referred to by the previous Minister of Community and Social Services (Mr. Taylor), those women currently receiving family benefits whom the minister wished to get back into the work force, by encouraging them with leaflets entitled It Pays To Work?

Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I will certainly take into account the concerns of both Ms. on the other side.

Mr. Reid: Why not all three Ms.?

Mr. Lewis: That speaks to your definition in the budget paper and that’s all wrong.

Mr. S. Smith: They’re Ms.-able, that’s what they are.

Mr. Reid: Two Ms. and one miss.

Mr. Breithaupt: This last miss is as good as a mile.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: Since the Treasurer is now becoming aware of his definition of women as being secondary in the labour force, can he also give us the target rate of unemployment for secondary members of the labour force, which is included in the budget paper study but not given in specific detail?

Hon. Mr. McKeough: No, Mr. Speaker, there is no target rate. We have made a forecast of what unemployment, we think, will be.

Ms. Gigantes: Can you define the high employment norm?

Hon. Mr. McKeough: We have not broken that target rate down into classes.


Mr. O’Neil: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Natural Resources. Concerning the grant payments to conservation authorities, including supplementary sums, for the fiscal year 1975-1976, could the minister confirm these figures: Central region, $20,318,974 or 64.71 per cent; southwestern region, $5,013,352 or 15.97 per cent; eastern region, $4,504,546 or 14.35 per cent; and the northern region, $1,562,866 or 4,97 per cent; for a total of $31,399,738? Could the minister give the Legislature some assurance that the government will reassess future allotments so that eastern and northern regions of Ontario will receive a more equitable consideration in the allocation of funds?


Hon. F. S. Miller: I’m not sure of the second decimal place in each case, but I’ll be glad to check. The fact remains that I have met with the chairmen of the conservation authorities, all 38 of them, a week ago. I think if one looks at the requests from the various regions, each region always feels that it’s getting less than the others in terms of its own share. I believe that the proportions are reasonably fair. At the same time, I’m quite willing, as a new minister, to look at them and see if they are fair.

I think one has to realize that those conservation authorities are in different stages of development. Some, such as those along the Grand River, have had many years of experience and others are just beginning. I think one will find that mature conservation authorities have an altogether different type of programme and dollar demand than those that are just beginning, and therefore straight percentages never reflect the true picture.

Mr. Reid: They know how to get the money.

Hon. F. S. Miller: Secondly, the watersheds and their problems are not necessarily the same. Up in the Shield region, we don’t have the basic problems of flooding in most areas that one does in the lowlands of southwestern Ontario. I think one has to take those into consideration.

Mr. Reid: You didn’t give us any money for the Rainy River area.

Hon. F. S. Miller: It depends upon the area in general.


Mr. O’Neil: Supplementary: Considering that there is this disparity between the 64 per cent approximately for the central region and 14 per cent to the eastern region, is this the only criterion the minister follows on some of these things he has just mentioned; or are there other criteria?

Hon. F. S. Miller: Is what the only criterion?

Mr. O’Neil: The things the minister has just mentioned, or are there others?

Hon. F. S. Miller: There may well be. I don’t pretend, after two months and 17 days, to be an expert yet.

Mr. Reid: You just found the office.

Mr. Nixon: The Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell) knows a lot more about the Ministry of Health.

Mr. Speaker: We’ll have one final supplementary on this. The member for Port Arthur.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Was the member out last night?

Mr. Foulds: No, I’ve got a migraine.

Does the minister consider that conservation authorities in central and Metropolitan Toronto areas and southwestern Ontario have a different set of priorities and definition of functions than do the conservation authorities in eastern and northern Ontario? Does he consider that proper? For example, does he consider it proper for the conservation authority in Metropolitan Toronto to have bought a golf course for several million dollars about four years ago?

Hon. F. S. Miller: I can’t look into the past, I can only look into the future.


Hon. F. S. Miller: I only know that conservation authorities’ grants and direction have been directed toward their primary function, that is flood control.

Mr. Speaker: The hon. Minister of Labour has the answer to a question asked previously.


Hon. B. Stephenson: At the end of last week, the member for Oakwood (Mr. Grande) asked me to reply to a question which he had asked in December. I noted at that time that I thought I had written the response. I had written the response but the hon. member feels that it should be responded to in the Legislature. Therefore, at his request, I am reading the response in the Legislature.

An hon. member: I hope it’s not too long.

Hon. B. Stephenson: It’s relatively brief. This matter was brought to our attention last fall with the result that the employment standards branch of this ministry conducted an audit of DRG Globe Envelopes Limited. I am advised that a petition was received from the employees of that company requesting a 15-minute break for an eating period, with the night shift to close down at 15 minutes prior to the regular shift close. As this petition was signed by almost 100 per cent of the employees in favour of the request, the director of employment standards approved the practice, according to section 22 of the Act. I note that the eating break is approved -- and it is a 15-minute period and not a 10-minute eating break, as recorded in Hansard. This approval was granted on the condition that the employees involved are allowed sufficient time during each shift to attend to their personal hygiene requirements.

Mr. Speaker, I have a very brief answer to another question asked by the leader of the third party last week.

Mr. Speaker: All right.


Hon. B. Stephenson: He asked how many of these members on the senior list in the government were women. The total number of individuals listed on the senior list, that is those at the level of executive director or higher, is 160, and of that total, five are women.

Mrs. Campbell: Great.

Hon. B. Stephenson: It is.

Mr. Lewis: From zero to five, that’s quite a jump.


Mr. Swart: I’d like to put a question to the Minister of Housing. As a result of the request by myself and several other individuals and organizations, will he confirm that he will refer the urban boundaries decision of the Niagara regional official plan to the Ontario Municipal Board for a ruling by it?

Mr. Riddell: The member didn’t get a very good write-up on that, as I recall.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: As I think I have already communicated to the hon. member, for those persons who do in fact have legitimate referral requests on that particular official plan, including the urban boundaries, to the Ontario Municipal Board, they shall certainly be so referred, there is no question about that. I believe he would agree that I have asked him to make sure that all of the information be made available that was required by the ministry for such a referral.

Mr. Swart: Supplementary: Given that the recent report of Peter Barnard Associates, which was commissioned by his ministry, shows a dramatic reduction in the estimated growth in the Peninsula, a requirement of only 8,000 acres for residential development compared to the 23,000 acres which are left in the plan; and given that the Niagara regional planners, in reports of March 23, confirmed these reduced requirements; will he, therefore, either on his own prior to referring to the Ontario Municipal Board, or in the request to the Municipal Board, assure that the growth boundaries in the fruit, grape and the prime food land area are further cut back so that they will have some meaning in preserving these lands?

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Well, considering that the hon. member has indicated that there is, perhaps, only a need for 8,000 acres for growth in the particular area, then there is, of course, 15,000 acres that will not be used, and he shouldn’t be that concerned. The matter will be referred to the Ontario Municipal Board and we will allow it to peruse what has been done, both by the region and by the ministry -- that is anything which has not received the unanimous approval of those supporters of the hon. member.


Mr. Reid: I have a question for the Minister of Health, dealing with medical services in northern Ontario. Could the minister advise if he plans on changing his programme to provide doctors and dentists to isolated communities? Is he going to bat for these communities by getting the doctors and dentists, particularly those who come from overseas, extensions to the one-year contract on their visas to enable them to operate and live in northern Ontario so that those communities may have some continuity of service from these people?

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: While my experience of that programme is limited to date, my understanding is that in all cases, whether they be physicians from overseas or people from Ontario or elsewhere in Canada, they are all on contract. It is an annual renewal.

Mr. Reid: They have to go back. They have to leave and come back.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Not if they are on contract. I don’t believe so. If there is a renewal of the contract, it is a mutually satisfactory relationship. If the member has a particular case about which he is concerned, please let me know.

Mr. Reid: Supplementary: Under the present system they are here under working-status visas and not under landed immigrant status; therefore they have to return to their country if they wish to settle in these communities.

In the same vein, if I may: Can the minister outline the dental car programme for northern Ontario? I understand we will be getting a few more dental cars to provide service to children, particularly where the greatest need is in northern Ontario -- in the elementary and pre-elementary grades.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: On the first point, vis-à-vis doctors who are coming from overseas, certainly the decision as to whether they will be granted extensions under immigrant status -- and they are from time to time -- is that of the federal government, particularly if the immigrant is prepared to take part in the programme for the isolated areas.

Now, on the second point, to be honest, I don’t remember the details of all that we have decided. Certainly, we are putting several more vans on the road to carry out the dental programme. But if I can take that as notice, perhaps I will send the member a letter that will outline all the details of what we are doing in that area.

Mr. Bain: Supplementary: Am I to understand that the minister is going to send the member for Rainy River a letter on it? If he is just going to report to him, I would appreciate it if he reported to the House, because there are a number of northern members also interested in the same subject.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: It’s just that the member for Rainy River is the only northern member who has ever expressed an interest on this point.

Mr. Reid: On a short supplementary -- I might as well, while I am ahead.

Mr. Foulds: Read your correspondence.

Mr. Speaker: Order.

An hon. member: Join Jack Horner over here.

Mr. Martel: You sound like Bernier.

Mr. Reid: Would the minister also look into the drug benefit plan that now requires drug benefits for senior citizens to be purchased from an Ontario pharmacist? In northern Ontario many people have to go to Winnipeg or the United States and go to a hospital to purchase drugs. Would the minister look into that?

Mr. Speaker: That is not that closely related to the original question. We will hear an answer from the Minister of Correctional Services.

Mr. Bain: Point of personal privilege, Mr. Speaker. I would appreciate it if the minister would reconsider the statement he just made about northern members. I know that I have contacted --

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. It is not a point of personal privilege. We are wasting the time of this question period. The hon. Minister of Correctional Services.



Hon. Mr. Meen: I guess I now have the floor, Mr. Speaker. I have the answer to a question asked by the hon. member for Cambridge (Mr Davidson) on Tuesday, April 19 last, relating to Champlain school at Alfred.

The recommendation last year for an increase in the teaching staff at Champlain school was related to a transfer of students from Cecil Facer school in Sudbury. This caused the count to rise to 90 students at Champlain. Now it is down to 60, and of that total only 47 are actually receiving classroom instruction in the school. The present count at Cecil Facer school is now some 40 below capacity and is unlikely to affect further the Champlain school count, which has continued itself to decline.

There will be no reduction in staff at all until September 1, 1977. All programmes instituted for this school year will continue to run and will be completed. Should school enrolment increase significantly for any reason in the future, the collective agreement contains a recall clause, and we will have the number of teachers in the classrooms necessary for the programmes to be taught.

The present enrolment provides a pupil-teacher ratio of five to one, not counting the principal. Tentatively, the pupil-teacher ratio next September would be seven to one, which is more than adequate, even for the school’s type of child. Remedial programmes are of high priority in our training schools and we have no intention of lowering that priority. Adequate organization of the timetable and homogeneous grouping of students in classes of fewer than eight pupils will continue to provide effective remedial assistance and individualized attention.

Of the three teachers declared redundant for the next school year, two are shop teachers and one is an elementary remedial teacher. In order to ensure continued programme adequacy, two of the shops are being combined. This redeployment of facilities and staff, when combined with the rearrangement of the present timetable, will leave sufficient teachers for us to continue to provide the full range of academic programmes as offered at present.

I can assure the hon. member for Cambridge that there is no intention whatever to discontinue any of the programmes.

Mr. Davidson: Supplementary: Is the minister not aware that the principal at Champlain school has expressed very much concern regarding the elementary programme that exists? Can the minister assure me that the reduction of the number of teachers in that school will not eliminate the elementary programme that’s now in place?

Hon. Mr. Meen: Mr. Speaker, I am advised that any of the programmes in place will continue. I am aware that there was some concern expressed by the teachers -- and that may have included the principal, I can’t say -- at the time of this readjustment. I believe this has been sorted out satisfactorily. What I have just said is, I can assure the hon. members that the programmes at present in place will continue.

Ms. Sandeman: Supplementary to the minister’s answer: In view of his stated dedication to the provision of remedial education in the training schools, could he explain why recently-announced layoffs -- for instance, at Brookside school -- have included layoffs of remedial teachers?

Hon. Mr. Meen: I haven’t any specific details on that, Mr. Speaker. I simply can say that the extent to which remedial teachers would be required is taken into account when the redundancies are determined.


Mr. Ferrier: I have a question for the Minister of Government Services. Is the minister able to tell us what the plans are for the government office complex in the Timmins area? Is it going to go ahead or where does it now stand?

Hon. J. R. Smith: Mr. Speaker, it is under review.

Mr. Ferrier: Supplementary: In view of the fact that the Treasurer in 1975 said this was a top priority item as far as creating employment is concerned, and that tenders were called during the election and then withdrawn after the election --


Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Ferrier: -- I wonder if the minister can tell us how long this matter is going to be under review? Do we have to wait from now till eternity to get an answer?

Mr. Foulds: Or the next election?

Hon. J. R. Smith: Mr. Speaker, I don’t think the member will have to wait too long.


Mr. Spence: A question for the Minister for Consumer and Commercial Relations. Would the minister inform us why there is such a wide differential in gasoline prices across the province of Ontario? In one area two weeks ago, around Paris, the price of gasoline at the pumps was 80.9 cents. In other towns and villages in the province of Ontario the price of gasoline was 89.9 cents. Is the minister going to take any action in regard to this wide differential in prices as it concerns many businessmen in our towns and villages across the province?

Hon. Mr. Handleman: Mr. Speaker, I suppose the reason there are differences in prices is because we still have the competitive system in Ontario. Some people sell their product at a lower price than others. I hope we will always have it that way.

Mr. Foulds: It’s called monopoly capitalism.

Hon. Mr. Handleman: If it is suggested that we should have a single-price system for gasoline in Ontario, then I simply have to reject the suggestion. There must be competitive forces. That doesn’t mean that where exorbitant prices are being charged my ministry is not interested in them. We certainly would appreciate receiving any information to that effect.

Mr. Nixon: Just a little free enterprise, not too much.

Mr. Speaker: The oral question period has expired.


Order, please.


Mr. Swart: Point of order, pursuant to the order of the Legislative Assembly passed on December 16 in rule 28, I am dissatisfied with the answer of the Minister of Housing (Mr. Rhodes) to my question today and would like to debate it tonight at 10:30.


Mrs. Campbell from the standing procedural affairs committee presented the committee’s report which was read as follows and adopted:

Your committee has carefully examined the following application for a private Act and finds the notice, as published, sufficient:

Borough of North York.

Mr. Renwick from the standing administration of justice committee presented the committee’s report which was read as follows and adopted:

Your committee begs to report the following bills without amendment:

Bill Pr2, An Act respecting the Trustees of the Toronto General Burying Grounds.

Bill Pr4, An Act respecting Canada Trustco Mortgage Company.

Bill Pr6, An Act respecting Webwood Investments Limited.

Bill Pr9, An Act respecting the Borough of East York.

Bill Pr11, An Act respecting Lombardo Furniture and Appliances Limited.

Bill Pr13, An Act respecting Kevalaine Corporation Limited.

Bill Pr16, An Act respecting Fred Leblond Cement Products Limited.

Bill Pr19, An Act respecting the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation for the Diocese of Alexandria, in Ontario, Canada.

Bill Pr24 An Act respecting Frank Postl Enterprises Limited.

Your committee further recommends that the fees, less the actual cost of printing, be remitted on Bill Pr19, An Act respecting the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation for the Diocese of Alexandria, in Ontario, Canada.

Mr. Gaunt from the standing general government committee presented the committee’s report which was read as follows and adopted:

Your committee begs to report the following bills without amendment:

Bill Pr5, An Act respecting the Borough of York.

Bill Pr120, An Act respecting the Village of Erie Beach.



Mr. B. Newman moved first reading of Bill 54, The Ontario Waste Disposal and Reclamation Commission Act.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is to establish, as mentioned in the title, an Ontario waste disposal and reclamation commission to have the authority in matters concerning reclamation and recycling of liquid, solid and gaseous waste, with particular reference to possible development of energy from these sources.


Mr. Peterson moved first reading of Bill Pr27, An Act respecting The Perfume and Cosmetics Bars Limited.

Motion agreed to.


Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for London Centre; any explanation of the principle?

Mr. Peterson: No, no explanations, Mr. Speaker. It is a private bill; I’m very embarrassed. Please don’t try to embarrass me, Mr. Speaker.


Hon. Mrs. Birch, on behalf of Hon. Mr. Parrott, moved first reading of Bill 55, An Act respecting Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.

Motion agreed to.

Hon. Mrs. Birch: The purpose of this bill is to establish a new governing structure for Ryerson Polytechnical Institute. The size of the board of governors is being increased from 13 to 23. An academic council to oversee educational policy at the institute is being established.

This bill is based upon a report received from the board of Ryerson and in addition consultation has taken place with all elements of the Ryerson community.


Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, before proceeding with the orders of the day, as it is the custom now on Thursdays to indicate the order of business for the ensuing week may I take this opportunity to indicate that next week on Monday we’ll have the contribution in the budget debate of the member for Ottawa Centre.

An hon. member: Call that a contribution?

Mr. Moffatt: And Tuesday evening.

Hon. Mr. Welch: We do not sit, of course, on Monday evening. No doubt the member for Ottawa Centre will be completed before we rise on Monday.

An hon. member: We hope!

Mr. Cassidy: We are sitting in the evening I trust?

Hon. Mr. Welch: No, not on Monday. Tuesday afternoon we then have the contribution to the budget debate of the member for London Centre.

Hon. Mr. Davis: I want you to spend all weekend getting your contribution ready.

Hon. Mr. Welch: Following that short presentation on Tuesday afternoon --

Mr. Nixon: It is going to be the same as last year? Marvellous speech.

Hon. Mr. Welch: -- for the balance of Tuesday afternoon and Tuesday evening we will proceed to carry on with --

Mr. Breithaupt: The member for London North (Mr. Shore) won’t have to be here because we are giving the same speech again.

Hon. Mr. Welch: -- orders 13, 14 and 16. On Wednesday, of course, there is no House, but there is committee work. Thursday afternoon we’ll do private members’ business; Thursday evening, budget debate. Friday morning, budget debate.

Mr. Martel: Are we still going to be here by then?




Mr. Singer moved private member’s motion No. 2:

Resolution: That in the opinion of this House: 1. The government should establish a register of all properties owned by the province of Ontario or by any of its boards or agencies, which register shall be set out the following: (a) the date on which the land was acquired; (b) the size of the parcel of land; (c) the total acquisition price; (d) the purpose for which it was acquired and the approximate date that it is anticipated that it will be used for such purpose; (e) the present use of the land; (f) the authority which allowed its acquisition; (g) the amount of commissions paid to any persons or agents concerning the acquisition and to whom they were paid; (h) the amount of legal fees paid in connection with such acquisition and to whom they were paid; (i) that such register be open to inspection by any interested person.


2. The government should establish guidelines for all future acquisitions which will ensure the clarity of procedures and the fairness whenever land is acquired; and that such guidelines be approved by this House; that when any land not owned by the province of Ontario or any of its boards or agencies is acquired that within three months of the date of such acquisition full details concerning the acquisition are added to the register referred to above.

3. When any land owned by the province of Ontario or any of its boards or agencies has been disposed of, full details of such disposition be added to the register referred to above within three months of such disposition.

Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Wilson Heights may proceed with his dissertation.

Mr. Singer: The purpose of this motion, Mr. Speaker, is to bring as forcefully as I can before this House one of the very serious denials of public information. It’s a matter that has caused us trouble in this Legislature for many years -- certainly for all of the years that I have been here -- and that is our inability to find out what lands the government of Ontario owns, why it bought them, the prices that were paid for them, the manner in which the lands were acquired, whether or not information has been leaked, whether or not there is a standard procedure whereby lands are acquired and on whose authority the land was acquired. From time to time, unfortunately, there has been the suspicion in the minds of many people that the procedures used and the lack of public availability and public information has tended to allow improper practices which have benefited only a few of the citizens of the province and not all of the people of Ontario.

With this in mind, I must point out that it is unfortunate that the Minister of Housing (Mr. Rhodes) hasn’t seen fit to be present here, because he and his predecessors are the ministers of the Crown to whom the majority of our criticism has been directed over these many years. When the new minister arrived in his portfolio not too long ago, some of us thought that perhaps a new breath of fresh air had come on to the scene and we were going to get some new and enlightened leadership from that minister, because during the course of consideration of his estimates a couple of years ago he did say that a method could be worked out, he thought, that would allow the examination of the minutes of Ontario Housing to be made public.

He promised subsequently to that, in answer to questions put to him, that he was going to ask for representatives of the three parties to get together and he would chair a meeting where the procedures could he determined upon. That sounded very brave, but nothing has happened since. I am told -- and again it is unfortunate that the minister isn’t here -- that when he took that proposition back to those people who populate the directors’ table at Ontario Housing Corporation, they talked him out of it. So much for enlightened information; so much for the public right to know what is going on.

You have been around here long enough as well, Mr. Speaker, to know that every time the breath of suspicion is raised about land acquisition or land disposition policies, almost a full and complete iron curtain descends in front of and around those ministers responsible for such acquisitions or those agencies that have been active in making this kind of expenditure of public money. This was particularly evident after the decision of the government in relation to the bill of the hon. member for Lakeshore (Mr. Lawlor) asking for disclosure of public information, the one that was debated last week, when the government members, every one of them, stood in their place and said, “No, we don’t even want to vote on that, because there is a green paper or a white paper or something. We don’t want any disclosure of public information. But be patient, some years from now -- maybe another 10 or 15 years -- you are going to get some kind of a bill.”

The reason that my motion is here today is to take up one of the most objectionable, most improper, most obnoxious methods of government handling of its business and to debate on that, together with my colleagues and hopefully with the support of the other two parties, what I think should be a most important step in public policy.

I am going to deal, not too lengthily, with some of the land assemblies that we have questioned in recent days, or the media have questioned. My colleague from Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) will be addressing himself, I am certain, to what happened in South Cayuga. But there was never any answer given to the charge made in the Toronto morning newspaper that a Mr. White, who was quite prominent around here in other days and was responsible for acquiring pieces of land, went out and bought twice as much land in the name of the province as the province needed, merely to satisfy his own whim.

The South Cayuga land acquisition was a very fascinating one. It was never explained and I suppose the government thinks that because White is no longer here that it never need be explained again. What happened to the government money? Why was that money spent? Why was it in the public interest? Why is it necessary to spend some $2 million each and every year to maintain that property, which apparently the people of Ontario didn’t need to have in their ownership in the first place? These are things that hopefully this system that I have outlined might supply answers to.

There was the South Milton land assembly, Mr. Speaker, and you’ll remember that one. We spent some time in this House trying to find out how it was acquired, why different prices were paid to landowners who abutted each other. In some cases, some got a few hundred dollars an acre; others got several thousand dollars an acre.

Why was expropriation not used? Why were middlemen allowed to come in? And in one particular case -- and I am not going to rehash all of the sordid history of that land acquisition -- but in one case that I made full reference to -- and it’s there in Hansard and I am not going to repeat my 1974 speeches at great length, but there they are in November of 1974 -- why was one middleman allowed to come in and make a profit of at least $2 million without laying out a penny of his own money because the government had embarked on this obscure and needless land acquisition in the South Milton area?

When we asked the minister of the day why it was done, the best answer he could come forward with was “it’s in the public interest to land bank this land, which we might use in the year 2025 or some time thereafter, provided we want a pipeline from Lake Ontario all the way up there” -- what, 10 or 15 miles of pipeline to carry water up there? -- “then the land might be used.”

But the one particular gentleman -- and certain people associated with him -- managed, I suppose just because of his peculiar business sagacity, to find out that it was worth his while to get options to purchase this property just one step ahead of the government land agents who were coming along and they bought all that he had optioned. He made this profit and apparently put up no money of his own. Marvellous if you have this particular kind of sagacity, and marvellous if the government’s processes are so slip-shod, so sloppy, and so open to question -- and never have to be accounted for, that’s the point.

There is the whole Kitchener-Waterloo land assembly, and the story there is a fascinating one. In 1968, some 3,000 acres were purchased by Ontario Housing Corporation and they paid some $5,246,000 for them. My colleague, the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk commented on that one in 1968. My colleague, the member for Kitchener, has commented on it. My colleague, the member for Waterloo (Mr. Good), has commented on it. But again, we draw nothing but blanks.

What is happening with those acres, Mr. Speaker? We have tried to find out something about it. Ontario Housing, as we have been told, is waiting for official plans from the Ministry of Housing before moving forward to develop it. Meanwhile, the land is being leased back to the farmers it was purchased from and there is talk now that maybe it’s going to be sold back to the farmers it was purchased from. On a leasehold basis, it’s not economical. The farmers who lease back land they originally owned are very reluctant to invest money in farm machinery and so on because they don’t know how long they’re going to be allowed to stay.

As I say, we tried to find out some of the things that are happening in regard to that land. We spoke to a Mr. John Guthrie who, I’m told, is the executive assistant to the Minister of Housing. As a result of conversations with Mr. Guthrie, it becomes apparent that some of the land in the 3,000-acre assembly is prime and actively used agriculture land. To quote from the ministry: “In keeping with the government’s guidelines on agricultural land, if some of the land is not needed for housing, then perhaps it’s best to leave it for farming.” This is 1977 -- more than nine years after the land was acquired. “Therefore, if and when there is a decision made on all this land, the Ontario Housing Corporation, together with the municipality, if it’s determined that some of this parcel is surplus to development needs and will be surplus forever” -- whatever that may mean -- “then it will be offered to sale first to the original owners.”

I hope the original owners are blessed with longevity because by the time anyone makes up his mind as to what’s going to happen with this 3,000-acre assembly, if it proceeds at the pace at which it’s now proceeding, the original owners will long since have gone on to other places.

A problem was put in its perspective by Bill Thompson of the Kitchener-Waterloo regional office. He’s quoted as having said: “In the official plan for Kitchener-Waterloo, about two-thirds of the 3,000-acre assembly is not, according to the present development plan, necessary for housing. The region realizes the value of this land as farming and wishes it to remain in that use. The problem”

-- as they see it -- “is then will any farmer be able to buy back the land at the current market value from the Ontario Housing Corporation? If not, the land will fall to developers and will be lost forever as farm land.”

We have the official plan of the Kitchener-Waterloo area and I’d certainly be glad to acquaint any of the members with its contents if they are interested in it. I see the Minister of Housing is here and I’m very pleased about that. But let me go on about the Kitchener-Waterloo plan. “Nine years after the assembly of these acres, the government still has made no commitment on its fate. Reporters from the Kitchener-Waterloo Record asked Mr. Rhodes if this land would possibly be sold back to the original owners who were the farmers. Mr. Rhodes replied: ‘Possibly 1,000 acres might be returned to the farmers at agricultural prices rather than at development prices.’”

That’s fascinating. The Minister of Housing and his executive assistant don’t seem to be in accord with what the planners are talking about for that area. “The vice-chairman of Ontario Housing Corporation, Mr. Riggs” -- and he gets into the act every now and then -- “informed us that no decisions would be made by Ontario Housing Corporation without a review with the municipality concerned since the regional Kitchener-Waterloo official plan had been approved. The Ministry of Housing has made no official statement on the 3,000 acres. The province simply disrupted the lifestyles of many farmers by pressuring them into selling their land, leased it back to them through leases, containing, in some cases, a six-month notice clause, and now may be selling part of the land back” -- but the final answer certainly has not been made known by the minister, by Ontario Housing, or by anybody else who has anything to do with government -- “much to the regret of some farmers who gave up farming amidst the uncertain climate of ownership of the land by the provincial government for the past nine years.” And there are all sorts of newspaper clippings in the local papers complaining about this situation.

Surely this kind of problem cries out for some kind of remedy. If the government is going to carry on public business and if it is going to waste public money, surely it should be accountable. Surely the government should be the first organization that should say: “This is what we are doing with the public money. This is why we have done it. This is why we laid out large sums of money. This is why the land is presently standing fallow.” And do we get any of that, Mr. Speaker? Not a bit.


Let me tell the House about the Edwardsburgh land assembly. That’s that great one down in eastern Ontario. It’s the great one that the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Bennett) prominently got on public record saying: “We don’t want any of that there here. Anybody would be crazy to put industry here.”

Hon. Mr. Taylor: He speaks better English than that.

Mr. Singer: It’s my English you’re complaining about?

Mr. Bullbrook: He was merely paraphrasing.

Mr. Singer: Here’s the headline: “Kept in Dark on Land Assembly Planning, Bennett Derided for ‘Foolish Buyer’ Talk.” How many acres did we get down there? That piece of land has come under the aegis and control of something called the Ontario Land Corporation.

I talked to Mr. Omand, who is the general manager. Mr. Omand is a very honest and frank civil servant. He said: “Yes, we have control over all those acres down there, 10,000 acres at Edwardsburgh. We have control over them. I want to tell you, we didn’t buy them. The Ontario Land Corporation didn’t buy them. However, they were bought and now we have control of it. Unfortunately, nobody seems to be interested in using it for industry.”

One wonders when government can act in this unusual way, even against the advice of the Minister of Industry and Tourism. They keep him in the dark. He told them in this House that they were crazy. He told them in speeches that they were crazy. One wonders how the government conducts its business and what kind of sense this possibly makes.

Mr. Eakins: Do you agree with him today, Jim?

Mr. Singer: There’s the Saltfleet land assembly. Ontario Housing has 1,670 acres, bought between January 2 and February 6, 1968, for $6.5 million from Jonenco.

John Deans apparently is the principal of Jonenco. The land was assembled by Jonenco from May to December, 1967, at a cost to him of $3.3 million. So Mr. Deans paid $3.3 million in 1967 and, a year later, the happy government, the beneficent government gave Mr. Deans’ company $6.5 million. It’s interesting.

Mr. Eakins: Interesting.

Mr. Singer: At least, if there was a public purpose for this it could be understood, but there is no public purpose that’s announced.

Until recently, OHC was projecting a population for this area of some 70,000. “Actual development has been slow due to the lack of demand, the lack of adequate access. Redhill pre-growth proposed to allow a second means of access.” It was proposed but it was never, in fact, built. Ontario Housing Corporation has now built approximately 800 units. Ten years later, $6.5 million later, we provided land for 600 units of housing. That’s rather expensive housing, and rather hard to understand.

“Planning for 100 acres was carried out for Ontario Housing by a British firm which recommended stacked townhouses at 40 units to the acre.” Notwithstanding the recommendations,” -- quite logically -- “the government came to the conclusion this was uneconomical and undesirable in this community.”

I could go on at great length -- I’m catching your signal, Mr. Speaker, that I’ve just about run out of time -- but these are only a few of the tragic horror stories that are obvious and available to us after much research. Surely it would make sense if there was a public record of government land acquisition, if the procedures were regularized and explained, and every time land was being disposed of the members of the Legislature and the people of Ontario could understand why and how it was done? I would hope all the members of the Legislature will support this eminently sensible resolution.

Hon. J. R. Smith: Having carefully looked at and studied the resolution proposed by the hon. member for Wilson Heights, I find that, while there is much that is laudable in that resolution, to put into reality such a central register would be impractical and extremely expensive.

Mr. Singer: More expensive than clearing the land?

Hon. J. R. Smith: In examining the ramifications of such a proposal, I asked my staff to look into the man-hours necessary to set up such a register and to estimate the cost of such a project, both on a one time set-up basis and on an annual cost basis. Our findings are that the cost of such a programme would be prohibitive, particularly in this time of financial restraint.

Mr. Singer: That’s a great defence. Yes sir.

Mr. Nixon: What a joker!

Hon. J. R. Smith: Let me give you some idea, Mr. Speaker, of the enormity of the task and the cost which would be involved if a central register were to be established. Firstly, in reading the resolution presented to us, I see the hon. member asks for the establishment of a register of all properties owned by the province of Ontario or by any of its boards or agencies. Notice that it says all property owned.” I assume that means all easements, all rights of way and so on. I wonder if the hon. members have any idea of the number of properties that would involve?

Mr. Singer: It’s nobody’s business except the public’s.

Hon. J. R. Smith: I might add in passing that I asked my staff, in preparing this data, to be conservative in their estimates. At times I believe they might even have been a trifle too conservative. Including easements, rights of way and other properties, we estimate that the province now owns in excess of 450,000 separate pieces of property. Ontario Hydro alone has more than 250,000 easements, for example.

To prepare the necessary data on each property, the data required in the resolution plus other information that would be necessary -- such as vendor’s name; location of property, including lot, concession and township; whether there have been any improvements on the property; whether there have been any liens on the property in question and so on -- would, by conservative estimate, take four man-hours. I am sure the hon. members realise that in many instances, particularly in properties purchased 15, 20 or 50 years ago, the research necessary to provide such data would take far more than that estimate of four man-hours per property.

Nevertheless, to get all the information required without beginning the process of recording it, would take 1.8 million man-hours. I leave it to the hon. members to estimate the number of man-years. At the average clerk four category salary --

Mr. Bullbrook: Wait; 1.8 million man-hours?

Hon. J. R. Smith: That’s right -- they can see that the cost of preparing such a register alone, we say could be nearly $11 million, or $10.8 million to be exact.

Mr. Singer: That’s a man-hour per square foot of land that you own. That’s very good.

Hon. J. R. Smith: Add to that all of the necessary start-up costs, such as developing a computer system to handle it -- to set up and operate such a register manually would, of course, be logically out of the question --

Mr. Eakins: Who wrote this?

Mr. Singer: It’s awful. It really is terrible.

Hon. J. R. Smith: -- to input data into that system, to provide for overhead such as accommodation et cetera. In all, we estimate the cost of establishing such a central register would be approximately $12 million. Are we really prepared to spend that sum without tangible benefits, benefits we are not now receiving?

I also asked my staff to prepare estimates of the cost of operating such a system once all the available data were in and the man-hours needed would only be for input of approximately 8,000 property transactions the province engages in annually. There, we estimate an annual budget of around $300,000. But the purpose of having such a registry would only be the retrieval of data. If we were to prepare a report showing data of the province’s property ownership, the cost of providing such a print-out would run to $10,000 each and the result, my friends, hon. members, would be a stack of paper that could be 50 feet high. In other words, we could provide an awful lot of bedtime reading for those hon. members --

Mr. Singer: It could be. It might be 100 feet high.

Mr. Kerrio: That’s what you are hiding behind now.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Let’s have some order, please.

Hon. J. R. Smith: The question we have to ask ourselves is, would the cost, mostly in terms of initial start-up, be worth it? Would we get information that we can’t get now?

Mr. Eakins: We can’t get it, because we’ve been asking for it.

Hon. J. R. Smith: Again, the idea contained in the hon. member’s resolution is laudable, but practicality suggests that such a registry would actually give us little we cannot get now. Each ministry and board handling property transactions currently maintains its own registry of property, which includes information needed on an almost daily basis by the ministry involved and modified to the ministry’s particular needs. These needs would still have to be met if a central register were set up. In other words, there would be a great deal of duplication of information involved if we had a central register.

I believe that it is much more practical to allow each concerned ministry and agency to continue maintaining its own individual record system but modified as necessary to include certain common information, open to retrieval by interested parties. Existing systems also would be modified to ensure that an accurate and adequate record of current and future transactions would be maintained.

Mr. Singer: As Al Lawrence said, “You have no right to know. You have no right to know.”

Hon. Mr. J. R. Smith: I will be pursuing this idea in further discussions with my staff and cabinet colleagues. Since I have pointed out the majority of the costs involved in setting up a central register would be for initial research on past property transactions, it might seem reasonable on the surface to suggest that we start up the register as of, say, January 1, 1978, and forego the costly research. How can we have an accurate record of “all properties owned by the province or any of its boards or agencies” if we do not do such research? Would it make much sense to record the sale of a property on that central register when the register has no record of the province owning such a piece of land?

The resolution also sets out a number of questions regarding each property transaction which should be provided by such a register.

Mr. Singer: One wouldn’t believe that the minister could make that speech.

Hon. J. R. Smith: Most of that information is already available from each ministry involved.

Mr. Singer: Already available?

Hon. J. R. Smith: Some of the research I was speaking of earlier would take a little time to provide, but it could be provided. For example, in item (c), the total acquisition price might take some time to find out if we were dealing with a property purchased a sizable number of years ago. Similarly, finding out the size of fees and commissions paid, and to whom, would also involve much time and effort for those transactions, if they were, say, 50 years ago.

Mr. Eakins: You are telling the public they have no right to know.

Hon. J. R. Smith: Nevertheless, as I have stated, this information can, in general, be obtained using the current system.

Mr. Singer: Obtained by whom?

Hon. J. R. Smith: It leads me, therefore, to ask again what information and what benefits would be acquired from establishing such a register? What would justify the enormous expense in time and effort involved?

My response has to be that there is no benefit that would lead us to tell the people of this province that we’re going to spend some $12 million of their money to give us information we already have.

Mr. Reid: You have got to be kidding -- $12 million! You people need new speech writers.

Mr. Singer: If you spend $12 million, you’re going to have paper that high.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for Wilson Heights was allowed to proceed without interruption. Extend the same courtesy to the member for Hamilton Mountain.

Mr. Singer: It’s very hard because it is such drivel, Mr. Speaker. I’ll try.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Please try.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: We listened to the member’s drivel.

Hon. J. R. Smith: In my view, to suggest that the register can be open to any interested person infringes upon the confidentiality of such a transaction and could, if misused, lead to abuses by land speculators. I suggest this aspect might be something better looked at by the commission on freedom of information.

Lastly, point 2 of the resolution asks that guidelines for acquisition be set up. Such guidelines are already set up.

Mr. Singer: Where?

Hon. J. R. Smith: My ministry has them and I know that other ministries and agencies have them. The guidelines are tailored for the particular job each ministry does and the particular land assembly needs that it has. These guidelines are in force and adhered to.

While on the surface there seems to be much to commend the resolution, I’m afraid that in the cold light of the reality of setting up the register with the resulting few, if any, benefits, I would recommend that it should be turned down.

Mr. Lawlor: The arguments we have just heard, Mr. Speaker, are not impressive in this particular case.

Mr. Singer: Right.

Mr. Lawlor: The raising of the bugaboo of all these horrendous costs that are being laid out in front of us, and the statement that that information is readily available in a dispersed form at every registry office and, as the minister himself said, internally to each ministry, and that it needs simply to bring it together and collate it and set up a register for the perusal of the public in this particular regard -- these cannot be an overwhelming or supervening consideration in the particular context.

Mr. Singer: Right.

Mr. Lawlor: That doesn’t mean I’m going to vote for your bloody resolution.

Mr. Bullbrook: You have been very obstinate lately.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Hang in there, Pat.

Mr. Lawlor: Property is acquired in four ways. First, by direct purchase: a government agency acting as a government agent approaches individuals and buys in the normal way by way of an offer to purchase. The second way is expropriation. The third way is by way of option agreement. The option agreement is broken into two parts: There may be either full disclosure on one side, or an anonymous buyer coming in to purchase under the option. For various reasons, this is the way that speculators largely operate. Then there is the fourth way, whereby an anonymous buyer directly approaches without the option concept operating.

In this legislation there is more than meets the eye, just beneath the surface. Do we approve of the anonymous operator? Do we approve of the government, in certain circumstances albeit however narrow, approaching individuals under a pseudonym with the use of real estate agents and others to purchase property, largely, of course, in terms of land assembly? Do the members think that’s a legitimate practice? No one questions that it is very often subject to abuse, as we’ve had many instances of -- Pickering, among others.

Under the member for Wilson Heights’ resolution, that, in my opinion, would be ruled out in the future. There would have to be full, fair and timely disclosure, and that’s it.


Mr. Bullbrook: After the fact.

Mr. Singer: After the fact -- after the fact. Read it again.

Mr. Lawlor: After the fact.

Mr. Singer: Right.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Read what you are saying.

Mr. Lawlor: The only real objection one can have to the legislation is the time limitation written in. The three months. Land assemblies can take two years, possibly three if they are fairly massive. And therefore the three-month acquisition would let the cat out of the bag with respect to the proposals of the government touching a certain geographical area. That could act detrimentally on the government.

In other words, there could be a loss of revenue. The property might very easily have been bought somewhat cheaper. The resolution can’t be amended -- it has to stand holus bolus as it appears before this House. It says three months -- three months it must be. Therefore we have to make up our minds as to the detrimental effect of that over against the withholding of information which is vital to the public.

In line with the freedom of information statute of a week or two ago, or last week, the full disclosure principle commends itself -- certainly to me, and I trust to my party -- in the largest way. Therefore you have to come down on the side that whatever the private sector may do with respect to withholding information -- hiding behind pseudonyms or whatever they do -- the government must act fairly, openly, and with respect to its own citizens, and take the risks of that.

What is being said in this resolution, therefore, is that really only one way is available -- well, two. The open approach to the individual vendor, or the expropriation route. There really isn’t anything very wrong with that. While the Expropriation Act does not contain guidelines, court decisions down through the years and various recommendations coming out of the Ombudsman and other reports touching Pickering and other places, begin to give the nascent form of the norms whereby honest dealings will be guided and the government --

Certainly, by the time we’re through with Pickering, that information can be fully extrapolated and available to anyone. The motion of the member for Wilson Heights forwards that particular cause and therefore it is in line with the current thinking on this matter. Having presented, as I see it, the various arguments on both sides touching this issue, I think on the whole, in all fairness, the government has to weight it in favour of the public, in favour of disclosure, in favour of open-handed and even dealing with the general public, even if some loss occurs to the public Treasury in this regard. It is far better to have a government with integrity and honesty in its dealings, rather than the weaselling around in the backyards of the nation, seeking to extract small favours and traducing its own people.

Mr. Nixon: I believe it’s obvious that even if we exclude the Crown lands of northern Ontario, the government of Ontario is by far the largest landowner -- land holder and owner -- in this province. Probably it is true to say that the government stands to be called the greatest profiteer in the business of buying and selling land. If they proceed with the patchwork policy that the Minister of Housing, didn’t announce but more or less referred to obliquely a few weeks ago -- as he finds himself the holder, the minister responsible for these large acreages, which now seem to be redundant as far as any kind of useful programme or co-ordinated policy is concerned -- he announces that he is going to sell these off, sometimes to the original holder of the property. But if those people are unavailable or don’t want the land, then presumably they will be sold, in most instances, to the highest bidder.

It’s interesting to look at the names chiselled in the marble of the halls of this building and learn that from the earliest times, even when Canada had only five or six members, there was always a commissioner of Crown lands. The problems were different in those days, of course, since much of the arable farm land was then held by the Crown. But as we see the acquisitions in recent years, it’s obvious that once again the government of the province is going into the business of holding land and developing it in a bigger and bigger way.

My colleague, whose motion we’re debating, referred to the Ontario Land Corporation, which, I understand, holds just four parcels. The South Cayuga land, I submit to you, will never be put to any significant use by the government of the province. I don’t know what they’re going to do with it. They may resell it. They may just make it into a park and call it a John White memorial -- I don’t know. But that particular land in the former county of Haldimand is not going to be of significant governmental use, I would say, for the next half century.

Right close to it, as you’re aware, Mr. Speaker, is another property also purchased by the government at about the same time, which the minister is trying to elevate into the status of a new city. I don’t know what’s going to happen in that regard, but at least there is some validity for the continuation of the holding of that land for some period of time.

But it concerns me very deeply that the policy of the government has been to allow the acquisition of these large properties without reference to any local planning authority; without reference to any official plan -- even without reference to the other members of the cabinet over these years. The record of the purchase of these city sites that I’ve referred to -- even the purchase of the Pickering property, which has been so much a matter of controversy in the last 18 months -- is an indication that the government does need the constraints of the knowledge that they must report clearly and publicly on all of these acquisitions, the prices paid, and the purpose of the land.

We can, of course, talk about the fourth property that is owned by the Ontario Land Corporation down in Edwardsburgh. This, I would say, is more or less part of the inheritance that John White left us as taxpayers, when, it seems to me, those purchasers were made on his own judgement exclusively. He might have conferred with the Premier, but as Treasurer he then had the power to go forward without even the consent of his cabinet colleagues.

It has already been pointed out that as for being are area for industrial expansion and development, Edwardsburgh was simply a joke, and it still is. And yet the government still continues to hold these properties.

The Ministry of Housing holds properties dotted all across the province, and no doubt they have some kind of registry of those lands, although the Ministry of Housing and the Ontario Housing Corporation have been notoriously secretive as far as information pertaining to the lands is concerned. I know of 1,000 acres that was bought in Brantford township, five years ago now, I guess, for which there has been no known programme of development -- no consultation with local planning authorities. It sits there as a beautiful green rolling piece of property, and the ministry has given no indication of what they wanted to do.

The 3,000 acres near Kitchener was bought under very strange circumstances by one of the minister’s predecessors going back about 10 years, and at the time it was, certainly questioned seriously in this House, but there was never any legitimate answer given to the representatives of the people as to the reasons for purchase or the details of the purchase.

The Minister for Government Services indicated that Hydro is one of the larger land holders. That’s true. It just bought a strip of property through my farm, for example, for a second high-tension power line. But I can’t see any problem in listing those lands. The minister indicates that it would take a stack of information 20 feet high, or something like that, in order to list the location of the properties and all of the details asked. Well, I would suggest that it’s incredible that the government is objecting, on the basis of the cost involved, to having a registry which would tell them what properties they do own. How can we ever have any coordinated approach by the government to the development of the province, if they don’t even know what lands they hold? And they hold these lands in every township in every part of the province. The Ministry of Transportation and Communications is another example. They probably buy and sell more parcels, if not a large acreage, than any other agency of government. I believe it would be essential for any citizen simply to go to see what properties are held, what their values were, and what the purpose was in the first instance.

To go on with the list, the Ministry of Natural Resources holds title to a great area of parkland. The Treasurer himself, in one of his franker moments a few months ago, felt that we had committed too much of our moneys, our budget, to the purchase of these lands and indicated that there would have to be some more orderly approach as far as that was concerned.

I feel that the registry that is proposed under the motion before us would at least give some indication to the various ministers who have these responsibilities that they do not act independently, that they do have to justify the purchase and all of the ancillary information associated with the purchase in a public document. In that way I believe that it would be a salutary pressure in the reduction of the kind of bad judgement which the taxpayers have had to pay for in recent years.

When I say bad judgement I say it advisedly, because there is no doubt that the 10,000 acres in Edwardsburgh is simply a waste of money. Very few miles from there the member for Carleton-Grenville (Mr. Irvine), when he was mayor of Prescott, undertook to develop an excellent industrial park associated with Prescott, right on the shores of the St. Lawrence River. And yet his cabinet colleagues come along and buy 10,000 acres for industrial purposes which cannot ever really be put into any significant use.

Surely we can cut down on the results of this bad judgement if the responsible minister knows that his judgement is going to he brought forward for public scrutiny in this way.

I do believe as well that it would reduce the injustice to land owners. Surely if the whole approach to the purchase of the property in Pickering had been on the basis of revealing the facts and figures as required under this resolution, we would not now have the confrontation between the Minister of Housing and the Ombudsman, which made it necessary to appoint a royal commission. The royal commission is there, but they don’t seem to be doing anything.

Mr. Gaunt: There’s some doubt whether they can.

Mr. Nixon: I see that the Ombudsman is very much concerned indeed at the lack of governmental action in this matter. We may find that that controversy which has brought into question the responsibilities vis-à-vis the Minister of Housing and the Ombudsman is going to flare up again.

This would have been unnecessary if there had been some indication of clear policy direction in the government when they decided to get into the Pickering business which has proven to be such a mess, such an expensive albatross hanging around the necks of the government and therefore a cost on the taxpayer.

A waste of money? The hon. member who indicated that the government can’t support this resolution has indicated they don’t want to waste money by simply having a registry which would indicate to the government and others what these lands holdings are.

I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that it would do away with the kinds of waste of money that must embarrass the ministry when they think about what has happened in the past. I surely hope that there is a commitment among the individuals in the ministry not to allow that kind of super arrogance to lead them into the sorts of purchase without adequate planning that has gone on in the past.

The government says information about specific pieces of land is always available if you ask for it. Mr. Speaker, I am sure you are aware that opposition spokesmen have asked for the details of the purchase of properties associated with Browndale. For many months, in fact years, the information has been promised, but it has never been forthcoming. The purchases are made with public funds and the information has not been adequately made available to those in the House who are concerned with this matter.

I would hope that such a registry would form one of the basic pieces of information which would lead the government to promulgate a plan for the province of Ontario. This too was associated with John White and I have been very critical of his lack of judgement in the acquisition of properties heretofore. But I do believe that the concept of a plan for Ontario, which is and has been Liberal policy for many years, is something that must be associated with this concept of the registry of land.


It was very interesting to me on the night of the budget, Tuesday night, when the Treasurer introduced former Treasurers in the gallery, when he introduced in the same breath, the Hon. James Allan and the Hon. John White. You may recall, Mr. Speaker, when there was some controversy over the acquisition of the South Cayuga property, reporters had phoned Jim Allan who indicated it was that bad judgement that had resulted in his defeat in the constituency of Haldimand-Norfolk. It might have been part of it but, of course, I am prepared to say that his defeat was as a result not only of the policies of the Liberal Party, but the --

Mr. Shore: But a good candidate.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

Mr. Nixon: -- excellence of the candidate who was representing our party at that time. When this was reported to the former Treasurer, John White, he said: “Well, of course you can’t expect anything else because isn’t Jim Allan 81 years old?” or some gratuitous comment --

Mr. Bullbrook: About as low a blow as he could make.

Mr. Nixon: -- such as that. Actually the people in those areas concerned had a chance to pass judgement on the decisions made by the former Treasurers who up until now have had the main responsibility for the acquisition of land. They found that judgement not only wanting, but seriously expensive and injurious to the best interests of the province of Ontario.

I do not agree in any way with the complaint put forward by the hon. member for Hamilton Mountain that this resolution would be inordinately expensive. Somebody wrote that speech for him. This is about the only hook they could hang their objections on and it is a very inadequate reason to oppose the motion. I would hope, however, that the motion will be supported by both opposition parties and, as it passes here, the government, being a responsible government, will accept the direction of the Legislature and establish the registry as is called for in the resolution.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: First of all, I want to say I had hoped we might have the remarks this afternoon dealing primarily with the contents of the motion that has been introduced by the hon. member for Wilson Heights. Unfortunately, and I think unnecessarily, it has become some reason to charge off on a vicious attack on individuals who are no longer in the Legislature and to bring into play again many of the things that have been said by hon. members for the past number of years that I am familiar with. Certainly I have listened to many of the comments of the member for Wilson Heights with a great deal of interest in my estimates. I thought, being the author of this particular motion, he would in fact deal with the specifics of it.

I want to say immediately I find the motion not that difficult to recognize as having some merit. I have said in the past there are a number of things relating to the listing of properties and purchases for which we should be finding a better way to make that information available. However, I do think, with respect, it is worthy to note that much of the information the hon. member for Wilson Heights presented here in his remarks as to specific pieces of land, prices, who the owners were and from whom they were purchased was provided to the hon. member by Ontario Housing Corporation at his request.

I have tabled in this Legislature a great deal of information dealing with land parcels, their purchases, the dates of purchases, the price paid and the persons from whom they were purchased. So I can’t buy the comments made by one of the hon. members that everything was notoriously secretive. I can say that we have in fact attempted to make that information available.

I see some value in the philosophy behind the motion that could result in a uniform collection of the information concerning land purchase and sales and an easy access to such information. Right now it is difficult for many people to obtain that. I think that’s a goal that perhaps a large land buyer like the government of Ontario should be interested in. But I do believe that as the motion stands on the order paper, there are a number of major difficulties and, for that reason, I would like later in my remarks to present a suggestion that perhaps the hon. member and others might agree to discuss with me.

I’m not going to go into some of the points that were raised by my colleague, the Minister of Government Services. I do say, though, that we have to take into consideration just the amount of work that would be entailed in the actual reading of the hon. member’s motion. As I read the motion -- and I certainly bow to his interpretation of his own motion -- it would appear that what he is asking government to do -- all land purchasing ministries, agencies or boards thereof -- to list in this registry centre all land transactions since the beginning of time as far as the province is concerned.

I think that the hon. member for Wilson Heights, being a lawyer and knowledgeable in these areas, would recognize that that would be a very, very difficult chore to complete. Albeit the member for Lakeshore has indicated all of this information is available in registry offices, but even at that, I think he would agree that a tremendous amount of work would have to be done to bring all of those transactions into play that have taken place over these many, many years.

I also would like the hon. member to consider that we can, I think, get this information over a shorter term and still accomplish what I think his motion really wants to accomplish -- that is the establishment of this sort of registry. I don’t think we should say we will start it tomorrow or a week from now or six months from now. I think we should go back a reasonable length of time and produce that information.

I think I would certainly be in a position to examine a proposition that, rather than using a central registry, a standard purchase and sales recording format could be established and applied to the various ministries, their boards and agencies, and that a central access office should be established for use by interested parties. But in any system we set up, the guidelines, I think, would have to be established along the line of what the hon. member for Lakeshore referred to.

I am concerned that in the course of acquiring land for a large project, the government will acquire it a parcel at a time. Despite the criticism that I thought I noted in the hon. member for Lakeshore’s comments, I think it is legitimate for government to not find itself in a bind and to be subject -- because it’s the government -- to the pressures of land values suddenly taking tremendous jumps. We should be in a position to go out and purchase land through an agent, so that the actual purchaser remains unknown.

For example, if we were going to be acquiring land for a park site or a highway right of way that we may want to acquire over a period of two or three years, and we acquire it as the parcels become available, if we could do that, then I think we can continue to keep land at a reasonable price. I don’t have to tell you gentlemen and ladies of this House that that may not be the case if you have to register each parcel purchased three months after it has been purchased. In view of that in a few moments I’d like to talk a little bit more.

As the government is a volume buyer and seller of land, it is possible in some instances that we may be dealing with real estate people, land acquisition agents, who may, in an effort to do a large volume of business, suggest that they would be prepared to work for a lower fee. I think we should be able to take advantage of that. However, I do have some concerns that bother me in that at the other end of the coin if we don’t want to list the lower fees we could be accused -- quite properly, I suppose -- that we’re not listing the higher fees that might he paid. So, on first blush, I was not too keen about the listing of fees. If there’s a standard fee, that’s what should be charged. There should be no problem with putting that into the records -- including, I might add, the legal fees which usually are extremely, horrendously high -- beyond all reason.

Mr. Singer: I mentioned them. Don’t shake your head at me. They are in my resolution.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: On point (i) in the resolution, I would suggest that rather than having a registry open to any interested person we should decide here to give some thought to the degree of information that would be provided to various types of inquiries. I’m not too sure whether we would, in fact, want to allow any individual full access and my reasoning for that is this.

We have people in our society who are knowledgeable of land transactions. This is their lifestyle. This is how they make their living. They work in this environment day after day. They will be taking advantage of this and I think it would afford them an opportunity to get information, albeit available to anyone, but not that the average citizen really would take the time to find out. This would give such people, I think, an advantage of buying property where they may be aware of something happening and in this way getting an unfair advantage of the present property owners. I would like to see us deal with that and not necessarily have it open to any interested person; rather, we would decide that we could limit that to specific people, specific groups, or they would have to show cause that they really need that information; also to weed out the frivolous things which would be time-consuming and costly to the taxpayers.

Land for the Ministry of Housing is purchased, as you well know, by the Ministry of Government Services. If my colleague would agree, I would certainly be prepared to support a directive to the Management Board requesting that the matter be reviewed and appropriate recommendations -- perhaps, along the lines I have suggested -- the made to Management Board and to cabinet.

I realize that what I’m going to ask is not in order and that I may well be turned down, but I would ask the hon. members if they would give me their unanimous consent that I might propose an amendment to the hon. member’s resolution and have an opportunity to discuss it with him.

Mr. Acting Speaker: Do the hon. members agree to give unanimous consent to the minister to place an amendment to the resolution?


Hon. Mr. Rhodes moved that the introductory words of the first sentence of the resolution be amended to read as follows: “The government should establish a system of registration for all properties purchased by the province of Ontario or by any of its boards or agencies on or after January 1, 1970, which system of registration shall set out the following:”

Hon. Mr. Rhodes further moved that sentence two of the resolution be amended by adding to it the following words: “...provided that when more than one parcel of land is being acquired for a project, the registration is not required until within three months after the date of the last acquisition.”

Mr. Acting Speaker: May I point out to the hon. member that his time has expired?

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: And I’m expired as well.

Thank you.

Mr. Bullbrook: Is that a commitment?

Mr. Acting Speaker: To save time the Chair will refrain from rereading the amendment; we can deal with the amendment and the resolution at the appropriate time.

Does the hon. member for Riverdale wish to speak to the original resolution and the amendment?

Mr. Renwick: With your agreement, Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak both to the resolution and to the resolution as amended, if I may.

I welcome the opportunity to take part in this debate for three or four reasons. One is because I very rarely have occasion to agree with my colleague, the member for Wilson Heights and, therefore, it’s a kind of memorable occasion for me. I don’t know whether he would consider it in that light or not.

Mr. Nixon: It makes him doubt his position.

Mr. Renwick: Secondly, because I do appreciate the complexity of the start-up provisions that are required in establishing any form of central registry, we have no hesitation in saying -- or I have no hesitation in saying, for my part -- that we certainly accept the proposed amendments indicated in the motion made by the Minister of Housing.

I also agree with his comment as to the availability of the information and the bona fide nature of its use. Again, I think that is a matter which, if this scheme were adopted in broad outline, could be accomplished. There is, for example in corporate law, a provision by which a person can get a list of the shareholders of a corporation by filing a necessary statutory declaration stating that it is for a bona fide and legitimate purpose and not merely curiosity or for some illegitimate purpose or for reasons which he claims entitle him to that information because he is affected, or interested by it.

In the working out of a scheme for establishing this kind of central registry, along the guidelines indicated by the member for Wilson Heights in his resolution, a number of those matters can be dealt with.


I certainly understand, because I extend to the Minister of Housing the utmost good faith, the difficulty it is to resurrect from the government files information about particular transactions. I have, standing in my name on the order paper, an inquiry of the ministry with respect to the consideration paid for the acquisition by Ontario Housing of a piece of property in 1972. The minister filed, a day or two ago, an interim answer saying the answer would be forthcoming in due course but it would take some time to get the information for me. So I don’t underestimate the complexity of providing for a register.

Certainly, from my point of view, whether 1970 is the appropriate date or not, the complexities of establishing such a registry would determine what a reasonable date would be. January 1, 1970, appears to me to be a very reasonable kind of a date.

I think in addition, however, the ancient history of the government, if such a scheme were adopted, would indicate to me that it would be wise to have a central registry that showed the land owned by the government of Ontario without any of the details of the particular transactions by which it was acquired. Thus, in one central registry it would be possible, apart from Crown lands, to indicate quite clearly that these are all the lands owned by the government of the province of Ontario other than the exclusion of the lands, say, in northern Ontario which are governed by a different statute.

With those comments out of the way, I did want to take the opportunity of resurrecting a report of the Law Reform Commission dealing with that esoteric and arcane piece of legislation known as The Mortmain and Charitable Uses Act, simply for the purpose of indicating there are certain analogies that can be drawn between the traditional prohibition against, for example charitable institutions of one kind of another owning land, either for their own use and occupation or for the purpose of investment, and the prohibition contained in that Act.

In this day and age it is not straining too much to say that government at all levels has become a significant holder of land in mortmain. It doesn’t pay any taxes; it pays substitute amounts for it. There is no reason why, if there is a prohibition against charitable institutions holding land for investment purposes as distinct from for their actual use and occupation -- and indeed, in charitable institution cases even for those purposes -- that some form of criterion such as that should not apply equally well to the government.

For example, I would think that a central registry, to be of some use, should show that the land is being acquired for the actual use and occupation of the government. I think the register should disclose the purpose for which it’s acquired -- whether it’s acquired for the purpose of implementing a policy of the government. I think consideration perhaps should be given at some point to having a statute of the government simply requiring that if the policy has not been implemented within a reasonable period of time -- as is the case for corporations, a seven-year period -- the government would be required to dispose of the property, so that the government is not involved in holding lands simply for the purpose of holding land when the purpose for which it was acquired originally has ceased to be a feasible objective for government to pursue. There are, of course, without me mentioning it, a number of current examples of that kind of problem.

I think it is extremely important that we understand that if done properly by this government, such a central register might very well provide the pro forma method by which the regional municipalities and the other municipalities throughout Ontario would also be required to set up a central registry as to the lands which they own. Strangely enough, The Mortmain and Charitable Uses Act seems to exempt municipal corporations in one way or another, by various methods of exemption, even though municipal corporations are covered under that particular statute.

I have only one further comment. If this is to go forward, then I think we have to have, as I have mentioned on a number of occasions, an adequate definition of boards and agencies of the government, because no one at the present time can in fact determine what is a board or agency of the government.

For example, The Crown Agency Act, which is a very short, compendious statute of three sections, does provide specifically that certainly some kinds of universities are boards and agencies of the government. I think in our case, we would like to require public boards and agencies to maintain their own registers of land which they have acquired, whether they are universities or whether they are other public bodies.

I noticed, for example, in the report of the Law Reform Commission dealing with The Mortmain and Charitable Uses Act, that it says we should get rid of the ancient statute. But if government policy wants to have a monitoring and control of the ownership of land in the province of Ontario, either by aliens on the one hand or by other institutions of government, then it should set up a specific method by which that can be achieved.

It would be my hope that out of this resolution of the member for Wilson Heights there very well not only might be a register established by the unilateral act of the government to do it, but it might be possible to begin to think of defining in a statute the terms and conditions under which such a register would be established and requiring, in due course, that such registers be established for public corporations of one kind or another, be they universities, museums or other types of institutions. Certainly, it should be extended, in my view, to the municipal governments across the province of Ontario.

All of this means to me that a useful starting point would be for the government to work out a system and then have it extended much more broadly. For example, every now and then we have come through the assembly a provision exempting public bodies from the prohibition against their acquiring land for investment purposes. Why it went through, I don’t know, but apparently the University of Western Ontario has such a statute, and I believe there are other educational institutions which can acquire land for investment purposes and not just for their actual use and occupation. This is the standard provision that is generally applied under various types of mortmain legislation.

For those reasons, I welcome the resolution and I certainly would support it as amended.

Mr. Acting Speaker: The hon. member for Sarnia. May I draw to his attention that the time for this debate will expire at approximately 4:40.

Hon. Mr. Norton: He is the only one who can do it.

Mr. Bullbrook: I’ve always been known and appreciated in this House for the brevity of my remarks, and I’m going to be muchly appreciated today.

I wanted, if I may, to agree with the Minister of Housing in his censure to us that we dealt not so much with the bill but with the background material. But I ask him to understand that after a decade on my part of attempting to try to find out information, I’m sure my colleague from Wilson Heights can be understood in wanting to point out some of the problems.

I don’t mean to attack someone who is not here to defend himself, but I had to sit here during the budget of 1971 and watch the then Treasurer, girded in vainglory before the television lights, talking to us about his new city. When I find out he’s wasted $32 million of public funds, it’s hard for us not to feel some degree of partisan venom in that context. So bear with us.

But the minister is quite right, we should deal mainly with the resolution. The first part is the register for the purpose of public information. The second and I think most important part of the resolution is the establishment of clear guidelines dictating the acquisition of lands for public purposes.

I want to record my total agreement and support, and the support of our party, for the amendment to the resolution, subject to one caveat on my part, if I may. I don’t think 1970 goes back far enough. I think we should try to go back another decade if at all possible. Some of the land acquisitions that have concerned me and my colleagues in this party took place prior to 1970, and I think we should be entitled to that information. But that’s a minor matter. As my colleague has pointed out, this is done by resolution and not by bill.

I direct myself to the Minister of Government Services. We attempted to be flexible here. I don’t want to be offensive to him, but he tells us he can’t personally accept this because of the expenditure of 1.8 million man-hours and $12 million. I’m going to leave this assembly shortly and I’m going to practise law so I tell him to hire me to sue his speech writer. The land titles office in Toronto handles well over 100,000 land acquisition transfers at a cost of less than $500,000, and we’re not asking for all that type of information. As I say, what we want is an ability on the part of the public to know why the government acquired land and how it acquired land.

I want to compliment my colleague from Wilson Heights, then I must sit down. I want to compliment him, and I want to compliment the official opposition and the government’s flexibility in this respect. I think it’s a move in the right direction. Minority government might be coming to an end but it shows that it works and it shows these new rules do work. I think the integrity of purpose and the sincerity of the Minister of Housing in putting forward the amendment and accepting the principle of the resolution will stand us all in good stead in the future and will inhibit us from decimating each other annually during his estimates.

I think it’s really important. In the days we had to deal with Emerson Clow -- again a man not here who can defend himself -- I have been subjected to, I felt, the most offensive type of response from the board of directors of the Housing Corporation, with that attitude of, “Lookit, we know, and we know what’s best.” I want to see us get away from that. I want to see the government get away from it in the future. It doesn’t have to exist. The opposition is entitled to know. I think this is the type of step that is in the right direction.

Mr. Acting Speaker: Perhaps the hon. member might find an appropriate place to conclude his remarks.

Mr. Bullbrook: I was just going to compliment the Minister of Housing once more on one other matter and I think it’s appropriate I don’t do that.

Mr. Acting Speaker: This concludes the debate on Mr. Singer’s resolution. The disposition of it will be dealt with later this afternoon.


Mr. Johnson moved second reading of Bill 10, An Act to amend The Election Finances Reform Act.

Mr. Johnson: I have sponsored this bill simply because I’m deeply concerned that every single riding in this province and every single voter have available information about provincial elections during the election period. We all know how important elections are to our parliamentary form of government. Elections give every voter the opportunity to review the government’s performance, take a look at the opposition’s alternatives, meet his local candidates and decide just whom he wants running Queen’s Park for the next four or five years.

In a province the size of ours, meeting the voters is no mean task. It is getting more and more difficult. If one can’t speak with everyone personally, the only alternative is to speak to them through the press -- send them one’s message by the electronic media or the printed word. The printed word is what this bill is specifically concerned about.

The intent of The Election Finances Reform Act, in limiting political advertising to the 21 days preceding the day before the election, was to reduce overall spending. Since media advertising has now become the largest single expenditure in most election campaigns, this was a good decision and one I can applaud. However, in deciding upon the 21-day time period, that does not consider the plight of the weekly newspapers or, more importantly, the plight of the many people in this province who are served only by weekly papers. In fact, there are about 30 ridings in the province where that is the case. These are ridings not served by daily papers. The majority of weekly papers publish on Wednesday.

Through my discussions with various concerned groups, I have found it is virtually impossible to switch to another publishing date. As the papers are printed at central offset plants, rescheduling a large number of them all at one plant would be a horrendous task. It would almost be easier to switch the traditional voting day from Thursday to Friday. What this means is simply that, although weeklies would be able to publish their election issue, it would be devoid of any political advertising or party platforms for a full nine days before the election. One can see how ridiculous that would be and has been.


To me it doesn’t seem fair that weekly newspapers should be placed at such a disadvantage to the dailies and the electronic media during election week, the crucial campaign period. The latter are able to carry advertising and serve their audience well simply by virtue of their frequency and their operations. At the same time, the weeklies are denied this right.

What this bill proposes is that the 21-day maximum time period for political advertising be extended to 22 days for any bona fide weekly newspaper. This 22-day period would end immediately before polling day. The benefits of such a move are quite clear. The main ones, of course, relate to the information available to citizens in making reasoned choices when they vote. The other benefits are equally obvious: Weekly newspapers will gain thousands of advertising dollars if this bill is passed.

No incentive to small business is too small to be considered by this House. The weeklies employ 6,000 Ontario residents and represent a capital investment of $85 million. Running a solvent newspaper is also no easy task, especially a community newspaper. These papers provide an invaluable service to the community they serve, linking the residents with the local governments, keeping them informed about local events and promoting a community spirit in their own inimitable way. There is nothing like them; I know, I have about a dozen in my own riding. Many of my colleagues on both the government and opposition sides of the House share the same experience. Perhaps that is why I was so emphatic when I first heard of the Ontario Weekly Newspapers Association’s attempt to get The Election Finances Reform Act changed.

I know what problems the weeklies face during elections. Having served their communities well between elections, weeklies should be allowed to serve them well at election time. At present, not only are they unable to inform the public adequately but weeklies that really need the money lose a great deal of potential advertising revenue.

The weeklies’ association has waged a strong campaign through its president, Bob Schreyer. and its executive director, William Taylor. As Mr. Schreyer said recently, “It is important that weekly publishers encourage their local MPPs to support this bill. This change will go a long way towards keeping people informed.”

As a matter of fact, my colleague, the hon. member for Dufferin-Simcoe (Mr. McCague) and I met with Mr. Taylor and his delegation. These men had done their homework, and it didn’t take them long to convince us that their cause was well worth fighting for.

Mr. Nixon: George had done his homework?

Mr. Johnson: As I said before, I’ve had personal experience during my own campaign and well understand the plight of the weekly papers.

Let me quote for a moment from Justice Hugo Black, writing in 1944. He said: “The widest possible dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources is essential to the welfare of the public.” This is my belief, which I think is shared by members on all sides of the House. So far as it is possible, whether it be through party politics or this Act, we must ensure that diversity of choice is available in Ontario. The change I am recommending is non-partisan and must be so if it is to have any effect.

Mr. Samis: When’s the election?

Mr. Moffatt: I like that “diversity of choice” part.

Mr. Johnson: The Election Finances Reform Act itself is an excellent piece of legislation. I am justifiable proud of that Act, an Act to which members of all three parties in this House contributed. We’ve been through one election with this Act and have seen just how effective it can be. We’ve also had an opportunity, through viewing it in practice, to see just where it can be improved. That is what I feel the change I propose will do -- improve it.

In the next election, in 1979 or thereabouts --

Mr. Breithaupt: I like the “thereabouts” part.

Mr. Moffatt: Author! Author!

Hon. Mr. Norton: Don’t be provocative.

Mr. Johnson: -- we will want to run our campaign under the most equitable and efficient Act.

Mr. Good: You won’t be here in 1979.

Mr. Johnson: We will also want to ensure that everyone is encouraged to know about and participate in the electoral process. Stop and think of the people in those 30 or so ridings who are served only by weekly papers -- that 24 per cent of the Ontario population who don’t subscribe to dailies. Will they be encouraged to vote if they don’t hear from the candidates for nine days before voting day? What sort of campaign fever will they catch? A pretty cold one, if you ask me.

Stop for a moment and think of those community newspapers where the staff put their hearts and souls into their work. Is it right to deny them the same opportunities afforded to the larger dailies? I believe the weeklies will continue to give us the fair coverage that they always have in the past, whether this bill is passed or not. Objective journalism has generally been their style. But the individuals who’ve worked so hard for this change will be justifiably discouraged --

Mr. Ferrier: You’re going to get headlines for this speech.

Mr. Johnson: -- if this bill is not passed. Grass-roots input has its place in this legislative process. This bill is just one example of such grass-roots input.

It is the Legislature’s job to look very carefully at bills like this. For my part, after having considered the matter at length, I think voting in favour of this bill is the only course to take. If this bill is passed, it will allow the weekly papers to participate effectively in the campaign during that crucial election week. It will allow my fellow members and me, and every other candidate for provincial office, to speak directly to all constituents in the province. It will also allow those people who depend upon their community paper for news an opportunity to view the candidates and issues before they cast their ballots.

Isn’t this what our parliamentary form of government is all about? Isn’t this the very basis of our democratic society: an open society and a free press, with every voter being given the chance, conscientiously and knowledgeably, to cast his ballot?

In closing, let me quote from a distinguished Canadian, unfortunately of the wrong political colour.

Mr. Moffatt: Jack Horner.

Mr. Johnson: In his committee’s report on the mass media, Senator Keith Davey notes --

Mr. Ferrier: We thought it was Jack Horner.

Hon. Mr. Norton: Some authority.

Mr. Bain: Surely you could have got one of Tommy Douglas’s quotes.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The interjections are not adding to the debate.

Mr. Johnson: Senator Davey notes that the more separate voices we have telling us what’s going on, telling us how we’re doing, telling us how we should be doing, the more effectively we can govern ourselves. There’s no question but this bill encourages such a sentiment. I would like to express my strong support of this bill and this sentiment and request that my colleagues in this Legislature, on every side of the House, vote to support it.

Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Durham East.

Mr. Moffatt: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My colleague says he’s the only one who applauded, so I’ll thank him as well.

I’m pleased this afternoon to join in supporting the bill put forward by the member for Wellington-Dufferin-Peel. I think that in his opening remarks he has made a number of particularly cogent points. He has also opened the principle of the bill to the kind of discussion I hoped we would have, that is, that instead of talking about the narrow business of what day or which day one can publish that sort of thing, we should be talking about the right of the public to have access to information from sources such as the weekly newspapers.

The problem that has occurred has been that the publishing day was established and The Election Finances Reform Act has precluded the use of the weekly newspapers in that last week unless they were fortunate enough to have gone to the press on Monday. It makes for a very difficult situation.

In my own riding which is extensively covered by weekly newspapers upon which most of the residents depend for the major portion of their news, the problem in the last election was a particularly difficult one. The question of revenue aside, I think the question of information is the one which has been raised and the one with which this House should deal.

Hon. Mr. Norton: Do you run one in your constituency office too?

Mr. Moffatt: I urge members, even the hon. minister, to support the legislation. I think everybody in this House at some point during an election campaign decides the pros and cons as to whether he should publish a new weekly newspaper. It goes under many headings, but the most often used one, I guess, is something called The Leader, for obvious political reasons. In some few cases it was called The Liberal, but only in rather disastrous circumstances.

There seems to be a very important point here that I would like to emphasize. The right of information is one we could expand substantially. I urge, from conversations with the weeklies in my own riding, that one of the things we might well do, which doesn’t even require legislation, is place all the weekly newspapers in this province automatically on the mailing list for Hansard. In talking to those people, I discover that they can get Hansard only if they send in a special request and plead with some person such as yourself, Mr. Speaker, to have Hansard sent to them. I would recommend, sir, with all respect that that is one move you might well make in the spirit presented by the previous speaker that it does open up this whole question to more information and makes available to those small papers a source they don’t normally use.

I realize some weekly newspapers do subscribe to Hansard and have prevailed upon you to have it sent them, and that is fine. But a great many others are not aware that it is available. The dailies all seem to be aware that it is available and use quotes from Hansard extensively. It seems to me in this province when the weekly newspaper is read cover to cover rather than just the headlines, because it stays around for an entire week, it might well be that we could urge the use of more extensive quotes from Hansard and some coverage of some of the things in this Legislature. Toronto is the legislative centre, but it is certainly not the demographic centre of the province of Ontario. The things that take place in this House are quite often missed by people who live at some distance and depend on a weekly newspaper.

This whole business of information is rather mystifying. I note that the member spoke of himself and one of his colleagues from the government party attending a meeting with the Ontario Weekly Newspapers Association. I would be interested in knowing when that meeting was because I have here the latest newsletter from the Ontario Weekly Newspapers Association. On page 12 in the column headed, “A few words from Bill Taylor,” the following appears:

“The election expenses advertising Act was thoroughly discussed. Mr. Davis” -- I gather that is the Premier -- “recognized the problem and admitted our industry was getting the short end of the stick.” Along with a lot of other industries, I might add parenthetically.

Mr. Reid: He doesn’t discriminate.

Mr. Moffatt: “The difficulty in amending the Act stems from not wanting to throw the complete Act open for other possible changes.” Isn’t that incredible? “It was strongly felt a private member’s bill would have the best chance of success.”

I sincerely hope this private member’s bill is indeed a private member’s bill put forward by the member for Wellington-Dufferin-Peel and not put forward by the government under the guise of being a private member’s bill. I sincerely hope that is the case.

Mr. Shore: You are the only one who thinks that.

Hon. Mr. Norton: Of course it is.

Mr. Moffatt: I expect that that is the case.

Mr. Reid: It should be government policy, is what he is trying to say?

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for Durham East is the only one who has the floor. He has a limited time so give him all his time.

Hon. Mr. Kerr: He is being provocative.


Mr. Moffatt: I’d be interested in knowing just when the meeting that the member referred to took place because this particular meeting at which the Premier is supposed to have made these comments took place on February 24 of this year. I just wonder what we are being asked to support.

In the same column there is a longer reference as well made to this whole business of freedom of information. Oddly enough, the Ontario Weekly Newspapers Association agrees that the freedom to information -- of access to information by the public and by weekly newspapers -- is one principle it regards as being important and it would like to see some action.

I commend this little editorial page to the members opposite. They will certainly enjoy it because it makes some rather flattering remarks about certain of the cabinet ministers, as well, in addition to that one little part.

The point I want to make in this is that there obviously are a good number of changes which could be made in The Election Expenses Act. I suspect we would have been better off had we had a piece of legislation introduced in this session which could have cleared up some of the difficulties around that particular Act.

The member for Wellington-Dufferin-Peel has, with his private member’s bill, pointed out one of the more obvious ones. It was obvious in the last election. I really can’t understand what the reasoning was, other than that somebody wanted to make sure that the other media people didn’t get some of the funds that they felt rightfully theirs directed out into the rural parts of the community. I just don’t know how that whole thing happened, and I would be interested.

I also don’t understand why the commission, in its recommendations, did not recommend this change as well. It seems to me to be an eminently sensible one and I can’t understand why it wouldn’t have recommended it. It certainly was widely recommended across the province after the last election.

The problem of mailing is one that I hope is not raised. Some member may decide that if we allow the printing to take place the mailing may leave the document or the paper to be delivered on election day. If it had to be published on the regular printing day and it had to be put in type and people would have access to what was in that paper before election day, I don’t see where that is going to cause a problem.

There are a number of things which arrive in households on election day, some requested and some unasked, that some of us might object to from time to time. I think the whole business of explaining to the public the platforms of all the parties and the candidates running, is a very important one -- one that needs to be fostered and brought forward as quickly as we can. I urge all members to support the bill. I, for one, think it makes eminently good sense.

Mr. Riddell: I rise in support of Bill 10, Mr. Speaker, and I want to compliment the member for Wellington-Dufferin-Peel for recognizing the inequities of the current legislation and for introducing the amendment that will solve a serious communications problem facing the weekly press of Ontario and candidates in any future Ontario provincial election.

I am sure many legislative members tend to treat the concerns of the community newspapers rather lightly. But I for one can appreciate the high profile that these weekly papers have in a riding such as mine as there are no less than nine weeklies disseminating reliable news in all areas of the Huron-Middlesex riding.

A recent study of Ontario weekly newspaper coverage, conducted by the highly qualified company of Clyde McDonald showed that about one household in four or 24 per cent received a weekly newspaper regularly but no daily or a daily only occasionally. This means that about 260,000 households in Ontario are regular subscribers to one or more weekly newspapers almost exclusively. The study also shows that an estimated 664,000 of the households surveyed in Ontario receive a weekly newspaper regularly.

Might I just point out a rather interesting comparison of weekly and daily newspaper penetration throughout Ontario. Weekly newspaper coverage varies according to region but it ranges from a low of 85 per cent households to a high of 88 per cent. The mean for Ontario is 64.4 per cent coverage or an estimated 691,300 households which regularly receive one or more weekly newspapers. Regular daily newspaper coverage ranges from a low of 42 per cent to a high of 80 per cent, for an average of 62 per cent in Ontario. An estimated 664,900 in Ontario receive one or more daily newspapers regularly.

Who would have thought that the penetration of weekly papers for the various sales areas under study was greater than for the daily newspapers? There has to be a reason for this, and I would say the acceptance of weekly papers by the communities throughout Ontario is an indication of the depth and reliability of the news contained in the weeklies. The weeklies are more concerned with individuals living in the community, and, in my estimation, the news is more objective than it is in the daily papers. Certainly, as far as I’m concerned, they do a better job of covering campaigns on a non-partisan basis than do the dailies.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Right on.

Mr. Riddell: Subscribing to both weeklies and dailies, I find there is a greater degree of mechanical competence displayed in the weekly papers --

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Hear, hear. Attaboy, Jack. Sock it to them.

Mr. Riddell: -- than there is in the daily papers. According to the study, an estimated 43 per cent of households in Ontario would have the opportunity to be exposed to advertising in daily newspapers if they were scheduled.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Did you hear that?

Mr. Riddell: And at the same time, if the Ontario weekly newspapers were scheduled, another 37 per cent of homes would he reached with the same potential, for a total of 80 per cent of homes throughout Ontario.

Mr. Shore: Keep it up, Jack.

Mr. Riddell: The fact of the matter is that 37 per cent of households would not have exposure to information about the campaign during the week of the election if the weekly papers were not permitted to advertise up to polling day.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Tell us about the Toronto Sun and the terrible columnists.

Mr. Riddell: I sure would like to; I could spend two or three hours on that.

Mr. Samis: Which columnist in particular?

Mr. Riddell: Considering all these aspects, there should definitely be no discrimination shown against the weeklies in such matters as election advertisements. The weekly press remains a vital link between the candidate and the voter, especially in the rural ridings and, increasingly, in many of the suburban ridings. Of the 125 ridings in Ontario, there are 30 in which no daily newspaper is published and -- although this is not to argue that daily papers are not read in these ridings -- it cannot be a foregone conclusion that these dailies reach all potential voters. Indeed, recently-completed readership studies prove otherwise.

In many of the ridings where dailies are published, these surveys prove that the riding weeklies are an important link between candidates and voters. The goal of every weekly is to produce a high-quality newspaper that will contribute to the social and economic well-being of our communities. The only way the weeklies can remain economically viable is to be able to compete favourably with the daily papers in reporting that which is current. I have found the weeklies give much more coverage of election campaigns than do the dailies, particularly in the area that I represent. But the present wording of The Election Finances Reform Act militates against the candidates and voters who want to present and read the various parties’ financial election statements as close to polling day as possible.

During a campaign, there are few weeklies that face the problems that dailies do, with the large number of candidates to be covered. Because their candidates are fewer and their interest primarily local, weekly newspapers are usually generous with their news space and provide an excellent vehicle for candidates to debate local issues as well as express their opinions on broad provincial matters. It has been suggested that weeklies could overcome the current problem due to the existing legislation by publishing on Tuesdays. Unfortunately, since the vast majority of weeklies in Ontario are printed at central web offset plants, rescheduling of these plants would be virtually impossible and the weekly publisher’s work week would be backed up into Sunday.

The only answer is a change of legislation. We have an amendment here in Bill 10 that should be easily supportable by all members of the House. Acknowledging that these private members’ bills permit members to vote as they see fit, I think I can safely say my colleagues in the Liberal Party support the amendment that would allow political advertising in community newspapers up to polling day. I hope all members of the House will see merit in this change to the existing legislation.

Mr. McCague: I rise, Mr. Speaker, to second the private member’s bill put forward by my friend and colleague, the member for Wellington-Dufferin-Peel. I suppose I should point out very early that the remarks of the member for Durham East were very incorrect --

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Again.

Mr. McCague: -- as he presumed that the bill was as a result of a meeting that the Ontario Weekly Newspapers Association had with the Premier. Memory should probably serve him in this particular case, for he would recall that last year, in the spring session, the hon. member introduced the same bill, except it was Bill 42 at that particular time. I think that should clear up that difficulty.

I’m sure the impetus for it did not come from the Premier’s office, but probably from chats he’d had with the local newspapers in his area. I’m sure he’s on excellent terms with all those newspapers.

Mr. Moffatt: I said I expected that.

Mr. McCague: Although this isn’t the subject, I noticed from looking at some of them that he gets more than twice the coverage of the other two parties put together.

Mr. Breithaupt: There are a lot of weeklies in Brampton.

Mr. Nixon: Of course, if you count the government advertising as well, he gets even more than that -- he gets about half the paper.

Mr. Yakabuski: It works out pretty well.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: The hon. member for Dufferin-Simcoe has the flour.

Mr. McCague: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for keeping the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk under control.

It’s true that I and the hon. member who proposed the bill did meet with Mr. Taylor of the association when we were drafting this bill. I entered the picture as a seconder for the member, but I did recognize the difficulty in the last election campaign. As we all know in this House, I think there were some people who moved their publishing date up one day to accommodate the printing of election advertising. I must also say they did it for all parties, but there were also some who couldn’t do it because of the problem of getting the paper printed. Many of the papers in my area especially, are printed in the same shop and there are 13 weeklies that serve the area and only one local daily that serves a very small portion of the area.

Somebody mentioned to me that this change would only accommodate the farming area, but I understand that only nine per cent of the regular subscribers of weekly papers are actually farming households; that leaves many whose occupation is other than farming. Mr. Taylor’s figures showed that actually more people read only weeklies than people who read only dailies.

All it takes is an amendment to the Act, an amendment which would put everyone in this province on equal footing, whether they depend on a daily or a weekly to keep them informed. The election is serious business and, when voters go to the polis, they deserve to be as well informed about their decision as possible. There is no reason why some people should have campaign advertising literally cut off nine days before election day. The voters have the right to know about the latest party stands on the issues and about their local candidates, and the parties and candidates should have the right to tell them their opinions.

It is a worthwhile bill, it is a worthwhile amendment, and I sincerely hope that everyone here this afternoon will vote in favour.


Mr. Bain: I, too, rise in support of Bill 10, Mr. Speaker. I feel it’s a fairly common-sense bill. I suppose most of us like to think that everything we do in this House is extremely momentous. But I think some of the less striking bills have just as much an affect on a segment of our population, and this bill is one of them.

As has been mentioned earlier, this bill will allow the weeklies that publish on Wednesday to carry advertisements placed by candidates during the next provincial election campaign. I was interested in the comments made by the speaker, the member for Wellington-Dufferin-Peel, the person who introduced the bill, in that he felt this bill would be in place for the 1979 or thereabouts election. I suppose we have all been interested in the thoughts of the Premier on this particular subject. I am happy to note that, if I want any information along that line, I know where to go to get it from now on.

The bill itself addresses a problem that all of us are aware of that represent rural ridings. I am sure the Minister of Housing would like to represent a rural riding as well. Although he doesn’t, he no doubt is sympathetic to the needs of the rural communities. I only wish his government was as sympathetic.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: A government member introduced the bill.

Mr. Bain: Yes, but he’s a government member from a rural community. The wave seems to be starting in the north. The rural communities in the north have been ignored for the longest period of time and that wave is sweeping south.

Mr. Shore: You guys over there don’t know what day it is.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: It hasn’t improved any with you.

Mr. Bain: Mr. Speaker, if you would control the member for Sault Ste. Marie, I would be happy to get back to the discussion of the principle of the bill.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: I suggest you ignore the interjections.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, with the greatest of respect to you, I suggest I was not interfering with the hon. member’s presentation until he addressed himself directly to me.

Mr. Hall: That’s unusual.

Mr. Bain: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The interjections of the hon. member in question are sometimes hard to ignore even though we might like to. Nevertheless, I am sure we would miss those interjections for no doubt at times they enliven the proceedings. The bill under discussion today addresses a section of the community in this province that sometimes does not receive the attention it deserves in this House. Urban needs are probably much more evident to the members of the House in a day-to-day sense in that the Legislature is located in Toronto. Our electronic and daily media seem to centre on the urban areas, especially Toronto, and so those problems of the urban communities are much more accentuated.

This particular bill addresses itself to the need of the weeklies in our rural communities. I think that the support that it would give to our rural weekly newspapers is very much deserved. Any members who live in rural communities have no doubt a paper in their own riding they have grown up with. In my own particular instance, the Temiskaming Speaker has been a byword in our area since its founding at the turn of the century. The paper in question epitomizes many of the virtues that have been mentioned by members today of the rural weekly media. I am sure many members would agree that the weekly media tend to be somewhat more balanced in their perception but, needless to say, not always supportive of any particular party. I think they tend to have a wider range of coverage on various subjects and generally make a contribution that is very worthy of support.

As a member from a political party that never has had very much money to spend and no doubt will not have very much money to spend in the future, I don’t envision myself being able to take out full-page ads in any weekly newspaper even though I might like to do so. We just can’t afford that. But I would think, if any party would like to do so, and by all reports the Conservatives have a lot of money to spend, then if for no other reason, I am in favour of this bill so that the Temiskaming Speaker and the other weeklies of this province might get more of those Tories bucks at election time. If they would like to take out ads in the local newspaper, I urge them to do so. There would be a small commission if you wished to place those ads through myself.

The bill, I think, as I said at the beginning, is a very straightforward bill and certainly worthy of support from all members of the House. The idea of a link between the candidates and the voter I think is a real one. In many cases people do not receive daily newspapers in a number of rural ridings; and I think that’s by choice, because in many cases even where there are dailies these dailies are much more focused in the larger communities, whereas the weeklies tend to cover a larger number of communities. In the case of the Temiskaming Speaker, it covers a number of rural communities and, therefore, each community feels it gets reasonably balanced coverage.

The bill, as I’ve said, is worthy of support; and hopefully it will allow weeklies to get more of the money that is spent at election time in advertising. This, I think, would benefit people who work at these papers and live in rural communities.

Mr. Cunningham: Mr. Speaker, I want to support this bill through a brief comment of my own. I commend the member for Wellington-Dufferin-Peel in his creation of this bill, and I think it’s one that possibly should have seen the light of day earlier than this. I have nothing but praise for him in his consideration of it.

Weekly papers are very important, I suppose, not only to all of us in the Legislature as politicians, but they’re also an important part of life in smaller towns. I know in my community I have a number of weekly papers which not only manage to keep the constituents informed of the activities here in the Legislature and town council and what’s going on in Ottawa, but often too they serve them through reporting of sports and news events and the promoting of community affairs. I think it’s very important that we do anything we can to further these small weekly newspapers.

To that end I think it would be appropriate, possibly, if the government considered supporting them by way of their advertising programmes as extensively as they do through the daily newspapers. That, I think would be a wonderful way of helping those newspapers continue because so many of them operate on a marginal basis.

This particular piece of legislation is a good idea insofar as it will put the weekly newspapers on equal footing with the dailies. That’s something that I look forward to in this next campaign because I must tell you --


Mr. Cunningham: I’m sorry? Who woke you up?

Mr. Shore: I thought I woke you up.

Mr. Cunningham: I must tell you, Mr. Speaker, I rely on these newspapers as a vehicle to communicate my points of view to my community, and to date they have been very helpful to me. I must admit I have somewhat of a conflict of interest here in that I don’t think I’ll have the extent of money that my Conservative opposition may have. That has been the traditional case in my area, but, nevertheless, as best as possible, we will try to convey our message to them.

I would also at this time like to offer a few comments on The Election Expenses Act, and the possibility, Mr. Speaker, of entertaining, as long as this Legislature exists, some other changes to that particular Act. There are a number of areas I think we would do well to consider. I know in my particular area, just driving through the city of Hamilton, I see these great big, red, white and blue billboards saying “The Leader”, and then right underneath it it has the name of a Conservative candidate, a car dealer in the area; and right underneath that in the smallest words possible, George Kerr, and then the word “Chevrolet.” I want to tell you that I’m not advertising for Chevrolet, and I don’t think through those billboards the individual paying for them is either. That’s an area where I must say to you, with the greatest respect, I see some serious abuse.

Mr. Shore: Maybe you’ll get one with an Oldsmobile on it.

An hon. member: You missed the point again, Marvin.

Mr. Cunningham: The point raised by the hon. member for Durham East (Mr. Moffatt) concerning freedom of information was a very valid one, and one that should not go without comment because I think it’s very important. Only last week, in this new exercise of private members’ bills, we had the opportunity to support such a bill, and I must say I was distressed that the members of the government party would not at least allow it to get to a vote. This, I think, must be equally disturbing to people who operate small weekly newspapers, because they rely on that kind of information to continue to put their newspapers out.

I would conclude by saying that the hon. member for Wellington-Dufferin-Peel has at least served his small weekly newspapers well by putting up this piece of legislation, which I support.

Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Renfrew South.

Mr. Yakabuski: This is a very important amendment to The Election Finances Act; after already having a half-dozen or more speakers on the subject, it’s going to be difficult not to be repetitious. But, as did the others, I do want to commend the member for Wellington-Dufferin-Peel for sponsoring this amendment and introducing it into the House. I think it’s a very important amendment to The Election Finances Act, for the many reasons already outlined by the various speakers. We realize that the dailies have the Monday and the Tuesday of election week -- since by statute we must vote on Thursday -- to solicit and print ads on behalf of various candidates and parties. Today, that opportunity is not available to the average weekly in the province.

Some years ago, the weekly newspapers of this province were not as viable, they were not as “with it” as they are today. They, too, have had to adjust with changing business methods and changing times. We all know that most of them have their papers printed by the offset process; these plants are located in central areas and print six, eight, 10 or more papers for a given region. Therefore, in an election week, it would be difficult for them to print on a Monday or Tuesday. And in all fairness, of course, they too should have a piece of the so-called campaign-funds pie. They, too, reach a good many readers not touched by the dailies or the other media in the province. I’m told that some 24 per cent of people in the province rely on weekly newspapers for their information. Weekly newspapers are read not only in rural Ontario, they are also read by many in the urban centres. I don’t think there is hardly a person who has left the rural parts of the province and moved to other areas who does not subscribe to a weekly from his or her home area.

Mr. Breithaupt: They are read very carefully at Queen’s Park.

Mr. Yakabuski: Yes, that I must say, especially by the members. I think the members know what a vital link the weekly newspaper is between the government here at Queen’s Park and the constituency in whatever part of the province it might be. The weekly newspaper industry, it has been said, is a viable one today, with an investment of some $85 million and 6,000 or more employees. If it were for no other reason alone, we should be doing all possible to make and keep it an ongoing, viable industry.

I mentioned it was difficult not to be repetitious, but I did want to go on record as supporting this amendment and supporting it wholeheartedly. It would be discrimination to eliminate that portion of our press from participating in the last week of a campaign or to deny this facility to the candidates who wish to use this form of media at that time. So, again, I want to commend the member for Wellington-Dufferin-Peel for introducing the legislation and to go on record as wholeheartedly supporting it.


Mr. Ruston: I just want to say, Mr. Speaker, that I’m wholeheartedly in favour of this amendment to The Election Finances Reform Act. Having been in a considerably rural area for a number of years, I find that weekly papers serve a great need in the community. There are many areas in the province of Ontario where the weekly papers are the only kind of paper that people have access to. There are a surprising number of areas -- I think the member for Kent-Elgin (Mr. Spence), who I see has come in, will have a few remarks to make about the number of ridings that do not have daily papers and are served by the weeklies. They certainly do serve a great need in the community, especially in the large rural areas.

I just want to reiterate that the change proposed in this bill should be allowed because, considering the time they go to press, by bringing their paper out one day early they would have access to this business. Certainly we use the weekly papers in our campaigns and so forth; in some areas it seems as though the weekly is the only paper you can afford to use, unless you have a co-operative advertising with a number of other members. Some of the dailies are quite large and the price is rather prohibitive, especially for some of us who run on a pretty small campaign budget. In the last election I think mine was one of the smallest in Ontario.

Mr. Nixon: You don’t need any money to get re-elected.

Mr. Ruston: Maybe we can thank the weeklies for serving that need. Mr. Speaker, I want to say that I am in favour of Bill 10.

Mr. Spence: I must say I’m pleased to support the amendment in Bill 10 which would permit the weekly papers to advertise right up to election day. In my own riding I have nine weekly papers. I have been through a few elections, and I know that it has meant a great deal to me in many of my elections. I must say it has given the people in my community an opportunity to look at all the candidates during the last week of an election. I say that’s a most effective time, because that’s when the voters decide who they’re going to support and whether they’re satisfied with the looks of the candidates.

Mr. Nixon: If they do it on looks, no wonder you win every time.

Mr. Spence: I’ve had trouble with that. It would be better if I didn’t have any advertising, because my picture didn’t show up too well beside my opponent’s.

Mr. Ruston: You still win, though, don’t you?

Mr. Nixon: You look honest, Jack.

Mr. Spence: As I say, the weekly papers have proved to be a great benefit to the people of the rural areas. I understand that 30 of our ridings in the province of Ontario have no daily papers; and if we deprive the weekly papers in those areas from carrying advertising before election day, it would be a blow to those who are candidates in an election.

I don’t know whether we are going to have an election or not. There seem to be rumors going around these corridors --

Hon. Mr. Taylor: Tell us, Jack. Let us in on the secret.

Hon. B. Stephenson: When is it?

Mr. Kerrio: In 1979.

Mr. Spence: We hear from the government members that it won’t be until next year --

Mr. Nixon: Oh, they are pretty timid.

Mr. Spence: -- so I’ll just have to go around again and ask the same question to see if what they are telling me is actually the truth. But in a few days we’ll actually know.

Mr. Nixon: There is a first for everything.

Mr. Spence: I support this bill. I think it is really worthwhile, because I am glad to give the weekly papers an opportunity to advertise right up to election night.

Hon. Mr. Kerr: You get all those Grit editorials, too.

Mr. Mancini: I too am very pleased to be able to rise and give support to Bill 10. I feel it’s a very important bill which does deserve support from all the members of the Legislature. I would just like to mention that we have five weekly papers in the riding of Essex South: the Amherstburg Echo, the Harrow News, the Kingsville Reporter, the Leamington Post and the Wheatley Journal. I believe these weekly papers certainly do a lot for the people in my riding as far as being able to bring them good, fair and precise news.

One thing I would like to mention, and I’m sure all of us know this, is that usually a daily paper is not kept any longer than a day or at the most probably two days, but a weekly paper stays in the home all week. A person can later appreciate some of the things he’s missed on first going over the paper.

I feel that this bill is an assistance to small business, which I firmly support. The weekly papers do not have the opportunities the daily papers have in being able to make money off the provincial election campaigns. It was very unfair the way it was before, so I’m very pleased to rise here in the Legislature and give support to Bill 10.

Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for Scarborough Centre.

Mr. Breithaupt: Dispense.

Mr. Drea: I want to pay a particular tribute this afternoon to my colleague, the hon. member for Wellington-Dufferin-Peel. This is not his first venture in this particular area. If my recollection is correct, in the third session he introduced a private bill under the old rules. I believe it was Bill 42. Under the old rules, of course, it was for dialogue only because it couldn’t be passed.

His bill deals with a particular area that everyone agrees should be corrected. There are notations from a commission that the matter should have been resolved some time ago. Probably the only reason this private bill is needed today is that in the great haste and the great urgency for the original Election Finances Reform Act, it was probably overlooked.

Mr. Nixon: Pretty slow, those Tories.

Mr. Drea: It is not fair to penalize a very significant portion of the print media of this province simply because of their publication date and the fact that they are not in control, as are the major dailies, of their distribution facilities, and to preclude them, not from the finances or from the profits to be gained from election advertising, but from being able to go into the homes they normally service with election coverage. Hopefully, the bill will not have to go to a standing committee, but will go to a committee of the whole so it can be done expeditiously and so that the particular benefits go to the weekly papers before they have to wait too long --

An hon. member: Third reading today.

Mr. Drea: I’d go for third reading today. I think it does achieve a sense of fairness. I will say to you, Mr. Speaker, even though I come from a very cosmopolitan and a very heavily populated suburban area, my two weekly newspapers, the Scarborough News and the Scarborough Mirror, certainly are the communication vehicles in my riding, notwithstanding the fact that the three Toronto dailies are also there.

I think it has been very unfortunate in the past that the particular unfairness, which was an oversight of the Legislature, hasn’t been corrected.

But once again, Mr. Speaker, I want to commend my colleague for his diligence, for the fact that he has used the new rules of the House, not for personal advantage or not for the distinct benefit of his constituency but in a manner in which the public of this province will understand the enormous changes that have taken place in this Legislature and the fact that we are now in a position to remedy simple wrongs in a very expeditious manner.

Mr. Speaker: Does any other hon. members wish to address themselves to this item? If not, the necessary questions will be placed at 5:50 p.m. In the meantime I shall declare a brief recess until that time. I warn the hon. members there will not be a bell; I will be in here at 5:50 and those who wish to express an opinion should be here at the same time.

Mr. Nixon: By the way, there are no objections are there?

Mr. Speaker: There may not be any objections at this time, but I don’t know whether you could take this as a precedent or not. It was pretty strongly agreed that we should not -- there don’t appear to be objections. Do I detect the feeling of the House?

Mr. Moffatt: Let the Minister of Labour (B. Stephenson) talk.

Mr. Speaker: Do we have the unanimous consent of those members here to proceed with the questions?

Mr. Deans: If I may, I certainly wouldn’t want to be one to withhold unanimous consent on a matter such as this, but the difficulty with it, as always, would be that at some other less appropriate time the same procedure could well be followed. I think if I were the government, forgive me, I wouldn’t want to have unanimous consent given since the House leaders and others dealt with the matter at some length and decided in the best interests of everyone that the vote should be taken at 5:50.

I realize it is an inconvenience. We did discuss the need for an adjournment or a brief recess, and decided that was the appropriate time. I wouldn’t want to be party to breaking an understanding that I have with the government House leader.

Mr. Breithaupt: I would agree, Mr. Speaker, that it would be practical, I think, to have that recess. It had been agreed that we would, in order to accommodate members who might be in committee or to accommodate others who were out of the House otherwise, deal with the matters at that time. I think that would be the best way to handle it.

Mr. Speaker: The Speaker agrees that this was the understanding and agreement and it should be followed rather than start a procedure which may get us into difficulty later. So I will declare a brief recess until 5:50 p.m.

The House recessed for five minutes.


On resumption.

Mr. Speaker: We will deal with these two items in the usual way then. First of all, Mr. Singer had moved a resolution standing in his name and Mr. Rhodes had moved an amendment thereto.

So, the first question is, shall there be a vote on this motion? Any members opposed to a vote must now rise.

Twenty members having not risen, the vote will be stacked.

Then, Mr. Johnson had moved second reading of Bill --

Mr. Nixon: Bill 10.

Mr. Speaker: Bill 10, was it?

Shall there be a vote on this motion? Any members opposed to a vote must now rise.

Twenty members having not risen, the vote will be stacked.

Mr. Singer: Well done.

Mr. Speaker: We’ll have the votes then.

Voting first on Mr. Rhodes’ amendment to Mr. Singer’s motion. Shall Mr. Rhodes’ amendment carry?

Motion agreed to.

Resolution as amended concurred in.


Mr. Speaker: Mr. Johnson had moved second reading of Bill 10. Shall this carry?

Motion agreed to.

Ordered for third reading.

Mr. Deans: Mr. Speaker, we would have no objection at all to giving unanimous consent for third reading now.

Hon. Mr. Timbrell: We just did.

Mr. Speaker: No.

Mr. Deans: No, we didn’t. You should listen and learn the rules, Dennis.


The following bill was given third reading on motion:

Bill 10, An Act to amend The Election Finances Reform Act.

Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, this is a very momentous day -- April 21, 1977, we’ll remember this.


An hon. member: Minority government works.

An hon. member: This week the weeklies; next week the dailies.

Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Don’t book your advertising.

Hon. Mr. Welch: This is without precedent.


Resumption of the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 28, An Act to amend The Residential Premises Rent Review Act, 1975, second session.

Mr. Nixon: It is almost 6 of the clock.

Mr. Speaker: Does the hon. member for Durham East (Mr. Moffatt) have the floor? Yes? No.

Mr. Singer: It is 6 o’clock.

Mr. Speaker: There seems to be a feeling that perhaps we might recognize the clock. Well, okay, it being almost 6 o’clock, I do now leave the chair and will resume at 8.

The House recessed at 5:52 p.m.