The House resumed at 8 p.m.
BUDGET DEBATE (CONTINUED)
Resumption of the adjourned debate on the amendment to the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.
Mr. Eaton: Let the record show that there are no NDP members present.
An hon. member: What was that?
Mr. Epp: Mr. Speaker, it is certainly a pleasure to be able to speak on the budget tonight. It is good to see that we are going to have some members from the New Democratic Party. I thought we were going to be unprivileged and not have any here.
Mr. Breaugh: We’ll give yon two minutes, Herb.
Mr. Epp: But they are coming in in droves now; they must have heard that I am going to make a speech tonight.
Mr. Eaton: There are four of them.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Speaker, I understand that it’s traditional to speak about your riding and about everything and anything under the sun but tonight I am going to stick to the budget, which is I think a pretty important document.
Mr. Lupusella: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of privilege.
Mr. Speaker: A point of order?
Mr. Epp: I am not going to try to drag it out too much. I expect to speak for about 15 or 20 minutes.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Can I interrupt the hon. member for Waterloo North? The hon. member for Dovercourt says he has a point of order.
Mr. Lupusella: Mr. Speaker, just for the record, I would like to emphasize that the absence of NDP MPPs from the House is very well justified, because we had a caucus meeting.
Mr. Speaker: That is not a point of order.
Mr. Eaton: You’ve only got four members here.
Mr. Breaugh: We’ve got more than we need now.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Speaker, in looking at the budget we notice that it has a lot of implications. At first it was regarded as kind of a ho-hum budget, although everybody knows that there was some finer tuning required for the budget that obviously the Treasurer missed and has somewhat regretted it since that time.
Mr. Ashe: Speak for yourself.
Mr. Epp: If we look at the budget, we know that it was somewhat unimaginative at first blush. I remember heating a day or so after the budget was presented, after seeing the Premier (‘Mr. Davis) and the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) here, that they went down to one of the more lavish hotels downtown and had a big bash there. Everybody had to buy their own tickets; they had the flowers out. It was kind of a gala event. They invited the media and so forth. I understand they’ve changed their tune since then.
The budget itself required a greater sensitivity to our senior citizens. It required a greater sensitivity to the unemployed in Ontario, which was lacking. It required a greater sensitivity to the small business sector. I have mentioned only a few areas, but obviously they are areas that the budget ignored completely or almost completely.
I want to particularly draw your attention to the deficit in the budget again this year, Mr. Speaker. We have to look at the aspect of the deficit in the budget.
Mr. B. Newman: Again?
Mr. Epp: If we think back about 20 years, somebody once said, “What’s a million?” The current attitude of the Treasurer of Ontario and of the members of the government party is, “What’s a billion?” or “What’s $1.6 billion?” It really doesn’t make much difference.
Mr. Eaton: You said that -- not the government.
Mr. Epp: I notice a member over there echoing my sentiments. I’m glad to hear that, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Eaton: Not at all. You said that -- not the government.
Mr. Epp: That sounds more like a point of numbers rather than a point of order,
Mr. Epp: It’s obvious that he’s disagreeing with his party on this, but that’s nice to hear. The biggest increase in government spending was that of the deficit itself. It was 15.4 per cent, or about eight cents out of every dollar. This was greater than the social services budget or the education budget, or the security budget, or any one of the others. It was the greatest increase of all in the debt itself in trying to manage the debt.
We now have a debt in Ontario of $1,077 for every man, woman and child. In other words, each of these pages and each member here has a debt against him by the Treasurer of Ontario, by the government of Ontario of $1,077, which is just incredible.
An hon. member: That’s why they cry when they’re born.
Mr. Epp: The net debt, as a percentage of gross provincial domestic product, has been calculated at about 11.1 per cent. If we pay the interest on the debt, the interest itself is over $3 million a day. We’re told this isn’t very much money, that the province can bear these deficiencies in planning, and these deficiencies in fiscal arrangements, but I don’t think we can. in looking at the budget more closely, we notice the Treasurer was very proud of the budget. He was proud of the record deficit for the province. He was proud of the increase in the deficit itself. He was proud of the rosy picture that it presented, only to be proven almost totally wrong at a later date.
I was always told, according to the economics I learned, the time to have a deficit is when you’re in bad economic times, and you try to run a surplus during very good times.
I would have thought the country and the western world have been in fairly stable economic times between the early 1970s and the present to within the last year or so. But this hasn’t been reflected by the budget planning of the Treasurer. Since 1971, and since the present Premier has been in, and the Treasurer has been Mr. McKeough, there has been deficit after another deficit, after another deficit,
Mr. Ashe: Ontario’s total deficit is less than Ottawa’s for one year.
Mr. Epp: I think the Davis-McKeough act should probably straighten something out. For one or two years the present Treasurer wasn’t Treasurer because he had to resign. I wanted to eliminate that, but now you have drawn my attention to it, thank you.
Mr. Ashe: That is not what I was drawing your attention to. I said the Ontario total accumulated deficit is less than Ottawa’s for one year.
Mr. Epp: It’s so easy, always, to blame what you’re doing on somebody else. In other words, if somebody jumps over the bridge you say: “Maybe I should jump over too.” Is that what the member for Durham West is saying? In other words, since Ottawa has a deficit, he’s trying to justify Ontario’s deficit in terms of Ottawa. I don’t think that’s good economics. I don’t think that’s good fiscal planning.
Mr. Haggerty: They’re trying to match it though.
Mr. Epp: If they’re trying to match it, they’re coming awfully close, although Ottawa has given them a run from time to time.
Mr. Ashe: There is no way we can come close. There is no way.
Mr. Epp: The deficit in Ontario from 1867 to about 1971, was equal to around $150 to $200 per person. In other words for about 104 years, the cumulative deficit over all these years was equal to about $150 to $200 per person. In the last seven years it’s gone up from about, let’s say $200 although it was under that, to $1,077. We’re told that’s good economic planning, that’s good fiscal management and that this government should stay in power for another 35 years.
I take great exception to that. I think most people of this province, at the next opportunity, will take exception to that kind of management and will obviously choose a group of men and women of this province who are going to have greater confidence and greater foresight.
Mr. Hodgson: You are doing a lot of wishful thinking.
Mr. Warner: Hear, hear.
Mr. Epp: In the budget of early March the Treasurer showed how bankrupt the province is by going out and selling $125 million worth of mortgages. I think he tipped his hand on this because I think he wants to balance the budget by 1981. By selling the mortgages, he’s obviously indicating that’s what he’s planning to do a few years down the road -- to try to balance the budget. Obviously he won’t have that opportunity.
Now we have to ask ourselves how much leadership and imagination there was in the budget. We have to ask ourselves what does the provincial government really want to do as far as setting priorities are concerned. We have to ask ourselves if they have an idea, a plan or a design to counteract the sluggishness in the economy. The investors of the province would like to have some idea where the province is heading and they are not getting that clear indication. The present government has not really set a goal as to what they want to do. Their only goal is to stay in office.
To correct all this I think is quite simple. We need new life in the economy, new vitality, new incentives, new initiatives. We need new direction. I think we need new priorities and most of all we need a new government.
These new priorities --
Mr. Hodgson: Remember, you were third party the last two years.
Mr. Epp: -- are not reflected in the kind of things they are doing within the various ministries. For instance, we are told that they have started zero-base budgeting in two ministries in the last year or so. This is something that’s a proven practice in many other areas, including private enterprise and other governments in North America, yet they start zero-base budgeting in only two areas. I guess they are afraid that it’s going to be successful and they are not expanding it to TEIGA. I think if they were very serious about this, they would be trying it in all the ministries. What are there, 26 ministries or so? They could be trying it in all of them and saving the public money. I suppose it’s just too good to apply to all the ministries.
Another aspect I want to draw to your attention, Mr. Speaker, is the debenture debt itself. If we look at the debt of the province, we find that in Canadian dollars we have a debt of $10,689,712,521. That debt the province owes -- I suppose they get most of that money from pension funds, from the superannuation funds, from the public employees and so forth. They owe another debt of $2,532,181,000 in US funds; at 87 cents or 86 cents or whatever the Canadian dollar is devalued to they are going to have to pay considerably more in Canadian dollars than they originally anticipated.
So I don’t think the present government is looking very seriously at how they can balance the budget or how they can be good fiscal managers of our Ontario economy. If we look at the West German deutschmark, we find that they borrowed $52,438,083 -- I don’t know why the $83 is in there but that’s probably what they needed to get hack from Germany from that trip. But the $82 million in Canadian currency they have to pay hack is about $30 million more than they borrowed. They still haven’t paid that back and I am not sure when they will.
Again it indicates that we have to pay much more money back than we borrowed.
More and more foreign borrowing will only increase inflation in Ontario. As we borrow more money, obviously we are going to increase our deficit, and as we increase our deficit we are going to get less investors in the province. Our economy is going to stagnate even more and we are going to get less jobs. The whole thing is a vicious cycle which the government doesn’t know how to stop.
Since I was elected to this House last June 9, I have had a good number of surprises. One of the biggest surprises happened last October at the estimates, when my colleague, the member for London Centre (Mr. Peterson) accused the Treasurer of deliberately painting a rosier picture of the economy than was actually the case in order to get votes. The Treasurer denied this and said that the government would not do anything like that to attract votes.
Mr. Kerrio: We don’t believe that, do we?
Mr. Epp: He didn’t explain why his predictions were atrociously wrong as far as his budget was concerned --
Mr. Haggerty: He has been wrong for four years.
Mr. Epp: -- why he always had much greater revenues expected than actually materialized over the next fiscal year and why his expenditures were always much greater than he had originally predicted. He never told us why this occurred or why the predicted growth of the economy of Ontario didn’t materialize as he had indicated, I found this very strange.
The member for London Centre was speaking about the great deficit and so forth, and the Treasurer said: “If you think the average person on the street knows the difference between a deficit of $1.1 billion and a deficit of $1.2 billion, then you’re wrong.”
I found that somewhat incredible. In other words, the Treasurer says one can throw an extra $100 million in there and the people of Ontario won’t know the difference; the average person doesn’t know the difference between $1.1 billion and $1.2 billion. I would suspect that the average person runs a much better household budgeting than does the Treasurer for the province of Ontario.
Mr Kerrio: That’s not hard.
Mr. Epp: If they were out $5,000 or $10,000 at the end of the year, they would know they would be heading for bankruptcy. But the Treasurer of Ontario says we are in good hands. I think that the people are going to prove him wrong very shortly, if something else doesn’t happen.
I wish to draw attention to another subject within the budget, that is, an industrial strategy for the province.
Mr. Roy: What strategy?
Mr. Epp: The budget didn’t do anything to stimulate the manufacturing sector. If for just a moment we allude to the OHIP aspect -- and I don’t want to go into that because I think a great number of people have touched on it and others may in the future -- the OHIP increase of 37.5 per cent was very counterproductive. A lot of industries, small businesses and so forth, were going to have to pay much more in OHIP premiums both for their employees and for themselves and thereby take the money out of the private sector and put some more in the public sector, which would be a disincentive as far as creating jobs is concerned. I suspect that some small businesses might even have to lay some people off because of the increases.
I think there is a need for government sensitivity to secondary manufacturing industry in the province. What we need is not only temporary jobs but permanent jobs. This is something the government is going to have to look at very seriously. We believe this government should concentrate its imagination, although it has very little, its priorities, although they are often misguided and its initiative, which I don’t think is very great, on some different goals
First they should create jobs. Secondly, there should be a promotion of indigenous research and development capacity in this province. Thirdly, there should be a generation and support of indigenous entrepreneurial and management talent and, fourthly, there should be encouragement in growth of the small business sector.
Mr. Kerrio: It’s all Harry’s fault.
Mr. Samis: Which Harry?
Mr. Kerrio: The Minister of Colleges and Universities (Mr. Parrott).
Mr. Hodgson: Don’t interrupt the speaker; he is doing a good job.
Mr. Epp: Taking these four points into consideration, I think that for the 300,000-plus who are unemployed in the province right now, if the government were to look seriously at some of those suggestions the decrease in unemployment would be significant and very noticeable.
Last year in the budget the Treasurer predicted he was going to create 89,000 jobs in 1977. Those jobs did not materialize.
Mr. Hodgson: Oh, yes, they did.
Mr. Epp: Actually, the number of jobs that materialized was 73,000. That is a shortfall of 27,000 jobs from what was predicted in the famous or infamous Bramalea charter.
Mr. Warner: There are more people out of work now than were last year.
Mr. Hodgson: There are 126,000 more people employed.
Mr. Epp: I notice I’m getting some support over on the other side of the House, which is just tremendous, Mr. Speaker. I wasn’t expecting this.
Mr. Warner: How many are out of work now? There are more out of work today than last year, especially in opposition ridings.
Mr. Hodgson: They know what a great province Ontario is.
Mr. Epp: Another aspect is that, as far as geographic immobility is concerned, there are many areas in the province which require greater incentives to create jobs. In other words, we shouldn’t be centralizing our jobs in Toronto, in Durham and in a few other areas. We should look at some of the eastern or northern parts of Ontario, including Sudbury.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: Waterloo.
Mr. Epp: Waterloo is doing well looking after itself.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: What about Oxford?
Mr. Epp: Yes, I think Oxford could use some.
Mr. G. I. Miller: How about Norwich?
Mr. Epp: Norwich? I think that’s a good idea.
Mr. Roy: How about Cornwall?
Mr. Samis: Great place.
Mr. Epp: I think the members are getting a feel of what I’m talking about. They’re all singling out their areas and other areas that need job incentives.
Mr. Hodgson: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: The score is one to nothing for Maple Leafs.
Mr. Samis: That was a constructive contribution.
Mr. Epp: That’s good news. That’s almost as good as what I’m telling you here. Thank you.
What we need is job decentralization. We need more courses -- and I’m glad the Minister of Colleges and Universities is here, because I think he would agree with me that we need more apprenticeships in the various colleges. There is a smaller increase now in universities enrolment than in community colleges.
I think the original intention of the community college is coming more into focus. Being a former high school teacher and counsellor, I can sympathize with the many students who are leaving high school, either prematurely in grades 10, 11 or 12 or after grade 13, and looking for jobs. Often they don’t want to go to university but the incentive to go to university often is not there because they are not picking up the jobs after university graduation.
I would encourage the government to look seriously at putting some of the money they have in other programs -- I’m not for a moment suggesting we have a greater deficit -- putting some of that money into the colleges and apprenticeship programs wherever that might be.
Mr. Haggerty: Don’t tell the minister that. He’s got $342 million now from the federal government that he hasn’t done anything with yet.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: How much?
Mr. Haggerty: I said $342 million.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: Would you identify that for me, please?
Mr. Haggerty: I asked you a question here about three weeks ago.
Mr. Epp: Mr. Speaker, these people probably will get together later over a cup of coffee and maybe they can straighten out the facts. Maybe it’s only $341 million; I don’t know.
Mr. Roy: It wouldn’t be the first time the minister didn’t know his budget.
Hon. Mr. Parrott: It’s your colleague who has no idea what he is talking about.
Mr. Warner: It wouldn’t be the first time you had faulty Liberal research either.
Mr. Epp: Another point I want to speak to this evening is assistance to local government. That’s very dear to my heart after being in municipal politics for almost 10 years. I feel that the municipalities of the province have been somewhat deprived by the Treasurer in the assistance he’s awarded them in the last year or two, particularly in the way he’s misinterpreted the Edmonton commitment.
If we go back 1973, to the Hon. John White’s time as Treasurer of the province, we find that he made a promise to various municipalities that they would have the same increase in revenues as the provincial revenues.
Unfortunately, a new Treasurer came in and he didn’t like that particular definition. He didn’t like the commitment made and he felt he was going to arbitrarily reinter pre the Edmonton commitment. As a result of that, the municipalities felt this year that they were being deprived of $99 million. Someone may argue with me and say it’s $98 million or $99.5 million. I’m not going to quibble over a million or two, just as the Treasurer says he’s not going to quibble over $100 million. Nevertheless, it’s about $99 million. The member for Durham West was a member of the municipality and I’m sure he wouldn’t disagree with me on that.
In the process, the Treasurer indicated he was going to include five new measures in that arbitrary reinterpretation of the Edmonton commitment. In other words, he was now going to include all the funds that went into the teachers’ superannuation fund, all the money that went into payments in lieu of taxes, all the money in the Ontario Home Renewal Program, all the money for the farm tax rebate program and all the money in the regional priority budget. He said that in 1973 they should have included these measures in the Edmonton commitment. Unfortunately, he forgot to check that two of these items weren’t even in existence then. The regional priority budget which he said should have been included in 1973 wasn’t in existence in 1973, neither was the Ontario Home Renewal Program. I think he should get some of his facts straight.
Nevertheless, the --
Mr. Hodgson: Mr. Speaker, I have another announcement to make -- two to nothing for the Leafs.
Mr. Epp: -- the minister had a change of heart and gave the municipalities $39 million extra. Of that $39 million, $16 million went to municipalities and of that $16 million, $2 million was for unconditional payments. The other $14 million was for conditional payments. One eighth of the total $16 million was given to municipalities for unconditional payments.
Not very long ago, the government committed itself to deconditionalizing the payments to municipalities. I think right now about 8.3 per cent of the government’s payments are conditional. The other 17 per cent are unconditional. One eighth of the budget, less than 17 per cent of the moneys that went to municipalities, were unconditional. The government should look very seriously at giving greater responsibility to the municipalities to determine their own priorities within theft municipalities, to be able to have their own expenditures and decide where those expenditures should be met.
What do we need after this? I think what the municipalities would like and what this party is committed to is a legislative commitment to the various municipalities. Rather than making a commitment like the Edmonton commitment and then have it arbitrarily reinterpreted by the Treasurer at his whim, the Legislature should make a commitment through a statute which would then afford the municipalities the kind of security they want, the kind of certainty they’re looking for. They would be able to get this when this party forms the government after the next election.
I notice that’s no surprise to the members of the House because they all expect it anyway.
Some hon. members: Right, right.
Mr. Epp: That would give the municipalities certainty, regularity, and consistency, and in addition, they would have consultation prior to all of it. If that were ever changed in the future it would have to go through legislation, and it could only be done after thorough consultation with the various municipalities. Obviously a good medium for that would be the PMLC, and I know the member for Durham West is very well acquainted with that.
The government, in reinterpreting the Edmonton commitment, didn’t do any consultation with the various municipalities. I was at the meeting last September 16. One speaker after another got up, leaders of various municipalities, and this obviously hadn’t been planned because they didn’t know what was going to be in the Treasurer’s statement, and indicated very clearly they would like to be consulted and felt very insulted by the Treasurer’s statement leaving them completely out of the preconsultation they thought they were going to have prior to any changes in that commitment.
In the statement of October 21 in their formal reply to the minister, the PMLC, the provincial-municipal liaison committee said:
“Let’s sit down and let’s start talking. Let’s make the partnership between the provincial government and the municipalities work to the benefit of the people of the province.” Obviously, they didn’t think this partnership was working to the benefit of the people of the province. Here were many, many representatives, as opposed to one Treasurer. They spoke very eloquently. They had a very good point to make and they made it very well.
I want to draw attention then to one other aspect, that is, the sunset laws. Many of us have heard about this and agree with the principle of having sunset laws. In other words, every three or five years, or whatever length of time, the various commissions or boards will have to be renewed by the government in order to keep them functioning. This would obviously eliminate a lot of unnecessary boards and commissions.
Mr. Kerrio: A lot of Tories would be out of work.
Mr. Epp: I agree with the member there. One of the important persons in this Legislature, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. S. Smith), introduced a resolution on this matter. It was interesting to note that the government blocked that resolution from coming to a vote. Nevertheless, they saw the wisdom of that and later on indicated in the budget they were going to set up a committee of four or five people who were going to look at this. I don’t expect a great deal to come of that. I would much rather have seen an all-party committee with all areas of the House represented.
It is quite obvious they are not serious about it because they would cause some consternation in the ranks of hundreds and thousands of Tory appointees across the province. Maybe they will drop one or two of them. When they were asked about this, one or two of the appointees said they had met only once or twice in the last year and they thought they hadn’t cost the government any money by meeting only once or twice, so therefore they should stay in existence. I would rather see them being put out of existence because they rarely meet and have no reason to meet, except to come here often, get a free dinner and their per diem rate.
Mr. Eakins: The Tories in Winnipeg fixed that.
Mr Epp: The property tax reform has been an issue of some discussion in the last few years. A former Premier, Mr. Frost, indicated in 1946 that we were going to have property tax reform. That’s 32 years ago and we are still waiting for it. There have been a lot of committees set up. The Smith committee was set up in the 1960s, about 12 years ago. It brought in a report. Just recently, we had another committee of municipal representatives. I am waiting for a press conference any day now for the Treasurer to indicate he is going to establish another committee. It should just be about time because about every two or three months that tax reform is delayed and we have another committee set up. I am not sure what they are going to study this time but it is something we can expect, nevertheless.
What I would prefer is a definite statement by the Treasurer as to his and the government’s intention with respect to property tax reform. I think the Treasurer owes it to the people of Ontario to stop playing games with public money in setting up committees and so forth and to bring in a proposal. I know that the Treasurer wants us to give him a blank cheque on the matter and to say we are going to support whatever he brings in. Nevertheless, we are not going to be so foolish as to do that.
I have three more points, namely, the taxes on cigarettes, cigars and wine. It is interesting to note that a higher tax is placed on domestic wines as opposed to foreign wines. I can’t understand the logic of it because that is going to encourage more foreign wines to come in, which would be a disincentive to create jobs. It is counterproductive. I searched for a reason for this but couldn’t find it.
It was interesting to note too that on cigars, on the very valuable cigars, the $2 cigars, the tax was reduced by 41 cents to 39 cents. We all know who in this House smokes those very expensive cigars.
Mr. Warner: Name names. I have challenged you to name names.
Mr. Cureatz: Albert Roy.
Mr. Samis: Vince Kerrio.
Mr. Ashe: Come on, Herb, who?
Mr. Epp: I am sure that wasn’t any sinister plot or anything, but it did seem to me a strange coincidence that that should occur, Mr. Speaker, and I leave it to you to decide why that happened.
Mr. Ashe: The member for Waterloo North has been asleep for a few months. He didn’t notice that the Premier switched.
Mr. Roy: That is just the public figure. Privately he does something else.
Mr. Epp: To end on a very positive note, I must compliment the government on its reduction of the sales tax in the tourism area. That was a very wise move on their part. It was good to see that they were looking at the jobs. The unfortunate part is that it is not really going to help those areas where there are large conventions planned, particularly Toronto.
I think Toronto deserves the large conventions; it is the only municipality in the province that is able sufficiently and adequately to host those conventions. I am told that the large conventions are planned up to five years in advance. By only having the sales tax reduction on for about a year and a half, it is certainly not going to attract any large conventions planned a few years in advance, because after a year and a half or so those incentives will be gone. So it will not have a very positive effect on the conventions.
Nevertheless, in northern Ontario and some of the other areas -- Niagara Falls and other tourist areas -- it is going to be an incentive. I think it is a very good move, and I compliment the government for taking such a positive step.
On balance, I think it is something of a ho-hum budget. It is not without its thorny issues, for instance, OHIP. I think it is very unimaginative and uninspiring, and I think the government set the wrong priorities as far as spending and revenue are concerned. We will have to wait for another Treasurer of another government to take a new, more acceptable and more realistic approach to revenues and expenditures, the kinds of revenues and expenditures which are more in line with the wishes of the people of Ontario who would obviously appreciate greater spending restraint and more imaginative legislation to create jobs in this province.
Mr. Breaugh: I’m supposed to announce the score is now three to zero. I thought I would get that out of the way.
I always enjoy the opportunity to participate in the budget debate, particularly when the members are given the opportunity of a little time to let that budget sift through the system to compare what the Treasurer says on the evening he announced the budget -- to see if that is really what he means -- with what he says a few days later.
In this instance, it is rather good, as a matter of fact, that I had a little bit of time to think about the budget and to see what would happen. The most dramatic example, I guess, is that the increase in health care premiums has been rolled back, It is, in great measure, a tribute to the concept of minority government that in times such as these, even a politician who is as arrogant at some times, as dominant at other times, and certainly as forceful as the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) has to take a second thought. Even though he obviously didn’t want to do it, in this one instance a major part of his budget, a major part of his revenue-gathering process for this year has been substantially revised. It is unfortunate that it has been revised in the particular way it has been, but nonetheless it has been changed. That is a first, I think, in the history of this House, particularly with that Treasurer.
There is no secret about it, our priority in this party is jobs, job creation and job retention. Job retention is a matter we sometimes overlook because we are losing jobs in this province at a rate that is unprecedented. It is unthinkable that in a province that is among the wealthiest -- and probably everyone acknowledges that it is the wealthiest -- in the nation, we could have over 300,000 people unemployed. At a time when the nation is looking at more than one million unemployed people, one would think that this province would take employment as its priority, that that would be the first and most important single item the Treasurer, in preparing a budget would have under consideration. One would think you would see substantial efforts in the public sector and in the private sector to retain the jobs we have and to expand so those people who are out of work have an opportunity to get those jobs. Consider the priorities of this government over the last decade or so in terms of preparing young people for job opportunities, the massive capital investments we have put into schools and into post-secondary institutions, the massive numbers of young people whose expectations have been raised to an unrealistic high and who now face the unusual prospect of being well educated, well trained, quite willing to work, with no job opportunity present for them. That’s certainly a spectacle we never thought we would see in this province some 10 years ago. And yet we do. One would have thought we would have seen in all of this some change in the budgetary policies of this government and, in particular, some change in the concepts expressed by this government in terms of its priorities as set by its ministers.
One of the nice things about not having to reply to the budget speech immediately is the opportunity one gets to see the real truth of the budget and the real philosophy of the government of the day come out in the speeches made around the province and around the country by various ministers of the Crown. I find this an interesting exercise because although there is a great deal of rhetoric in this House, the real truth gets out on occasion in the speeches various ministers make. They usually wait for some distance to gather between this House and wherever the speech occurs, but nonetheless, if you save up and take a look through the speeches made by various cabinet ministers, and it’s a bit of an onerous job at times, if you persist, you will find the odd jewel here and there.
I want to make reference to some of these in my opening remarks this evening. The first one I would like to centre out is the man who should be on the hot line these days, because certainly if we are considering that jobs are our priority, if we are considering that our economy is in bad shape and needs to be recovered, one would think surely then, that the Minister of Industry and Tourism (Mr. Rhodes) would be a focal point in all of this; that he would be a very active person indeed, announcing new programs, new policies, new incentives for industry and business and that would be one of the ways, one of the mechanisms, one of the high profile ministries that would get us out of this mess. Let’s make note then, of some comments made by the Minister of Industry and Tourism to the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce on Public Affairs Day. Though he represents a party which is blatantly free enterprise, I guess dogmatically free enterprise is probably more accurate, he hits the nail on the head in part of his speech here. It’s one small jewel in a pile of coal dust, but it is worth repeating.
Mr. Cureatz: Michael how come you were at Duplate yesterday?
Mr. Breaugh: Oh, I was there, with all my workers. How come you were at Duplate yesterday? We had that vote there, Sam. You would lose that vote about 805 to zip. I don’t think even management would vote for you there.
Mr. Cureatz: Well, I guess Doug’s going to have to run in your riding.
Mr. Ashe: You are a dreamer, Mike, you always were.
Mr. Breaugh: Come on over, George. Come on over to Oshawa and try it, anytime, any day.
Mr. Speaker, I was rudely interrupted and I want to get back to the minister’s fine speech or portion of it. It was fine. He said, “I believe that people are losing faith in business because they are first of all disappointed as consumers. Sellers invite us to believe that buying is a pleasant, uncritical experience of pure joy. We’ve seen the commercials, floating into department store, credit card in hand, everything glistening and beautiful inside. Would Madam like it in green or in purple? Will it be cash or Chargex?” And I think in his own inimitable Style, he’s hitting on what is wrong with portions of our economy.
He goes on to say in this speech: “In the first place, this is the first and most fundamental distortion of the consumer role. Shopping is hard work and you really have to protect yourself. If the life of a consumer were as easy as the commercials suggest, there would be no doubts in the public’s mind about the free-enterprise system. But the system fails to live up to its billing and that’s where the problem begins.”
Frankly, that’s quite a substantial admission for not only a minister of the Crown but for the Minister of Industry and Tourism representing a free-enterprise government. He’s nailing down, in a rather specific way, one of the major problems of his own free-enterprise system. The system fails to live up to its billing and that’s where the problem begins. He’s quite right on that. I don’t think that is where the problem ends arid neither does the minister, but that may well be one of the places where it begins.
There seems to be a reluctance on the part of this government -- the score is now Toronto four, New York zero -- to admit that all things are not perfect in that free-enterprise system they’re purporting to run over there. There are differences and problems and very real agonies that are caused in the marketplace in our economic system -- and perhaps more importantly in people’s lives -- by the system that they purport to run.
I wouldn’t take issue if they were talking about a mix. I wouldn’t take issue if they were talking about an economy that, in truth, has a pretty substantial amount of government public funding involved in it. But they seem to deny that role, although they are the ones most heavily into it in the history of this province.
They seem to deny the very concept that we ought to control our own economy because they argue that it ought to be privatized, that it ought not to be in the public sector. That’s unusual for a government that has spent so much of our money investing in different things here and there around the province. In fact, what we might take a little more specific exception to is the way that they invest public funds in the private sector with nothing back to the public good. That, I think, is the substantial difference.
I want to quote just one other part of this speech the minister made in Sault Ste. Marie. He was talking about research and development. He said: “Research and development is something that only the large firms can afford and the results are usually long term.”
Again that is an admission, because if that’s true -- and I think the minister has always attempted to speak the truth -- where does that leave all of our small and medium-sized industry? If it says here, and it does, that is something that only the large firms can do then we’d be hard pressed to find an example of where the large firms do that in this province. It doesn’t happen at all. And the minister is indicating that small and medium-sized firms can’t handle that. I think that begs the question. Where is this government’s response to that? If we recognize that research and development is important to our economy, is important to our industrial life, then where is the government’s role in that? Frankly, it’s not there.
Mr. Foulds: There’s no encouragement at all.
Mr. Breaugh: The one other gentleman perhaps most prominent in this budget and in our economic plight is the member for Chatham-Kent (Mr. McKeough). He made some not-so-great speeches. You have to dig a little further in his speeches before you come up with very much.
This was from a speech to the Canadian Association for Production and Inventory Control given at St. Clair College in Chatham. He was talking about the manufacturing sector and, in particular, made this point:
“We have made growth in manufacturing jobs and output in excellence, a focal point of our development plan.”
That’s unusual because he’s saying that his focal point is one you can’t buy. In another speech, which I’ll touch on a bit later, he said that we haven’t increased any of our manufacturing jobs at all and yet it’s the lifeblood of their plan. I think if we had a plan, and the focal point of the plan was to make growth in the manufacturing sector the most important thing we were trying to do, and we hadn’t accomplished it, I think we’d clearly recognize that was at least a form of failure.
The reason that I wanted to touch on this speech, though, is that here he again recognizes the importance of the auto industry. Because of my own riding and my background and the people that I associate with, I’m fundamentally concerned about the auto industry in this province.
I find this statement unusual because I can’t seem to find anyone else to corroborate it, but he said: “There is a major investment program ahead with the North American automobile industry -- a reported $58 billion. We in Ontario must remain competitive if we are to attract our fair share and I stress the need for this competitiveness.”
The interesting thing, really, is where does that number come from? Who gave him that number? From the auto industry itself we understand there are going to be some substantial changes but no one there has ever put that kind of a price tag to it. No one in the auto industry itself, as an example. can point to an area in Canada where that kind of money, or portions thereof, has been targeted. No one can identify that, for example, General Motors in Oshawa is looking for some kind of massive expansion program. If you look at the auto industry in Ontario, you’d be hard pressed to say that we have a massive plan at work for survival. We can look at Windsor, we can look at the Premier’s old riding, and we see there what used to be a vibrant auto industry having some difficulty.
If you look at the General Motors plant in Oshawa, Mr. Speaker, there you would find a different role. You would see assembled vehicles were doing very well, You would see the parts plants in the Oshawa area are not doing too badly either. They are dependent, unfortunately, and this is a rather weird phenomenon of the auto pact, on production facilities, assembled vehicle facilities, which are not in this province. The parts plants in my area are mostly dependent on American assembly plants. That seems to be the irony of the auto pact but, nonetheless, it’s there.
I listened to the Treasurer respond today to questions in this House about the auto pact and about setting targets. He was rather evasive about it all, but in this speech he did tend to get a bit more specific. For example, he said: “‘I believe the federal government must set specific growth targets for this industry and that each auto manufacturer should be expected to achieve these targets.” My, my, that’s a free-enterprise Treasurer, an advocate of the free-enterprise system. He insists they would tell these auto manufacturers precisely what targets they would have for production, for investment, and he goes on later in his speech to talk about research and development as well.
The difficulty is that although the Treasurer has identified the problem, the Treasurer himself in that particular speech identified some of the things that must be done in terms of solution. We don’t see this government taking that kind of a formal position. We don’t see him implementing in any way what he knows must be done. I simply wish we could get the Treasurer of the province of Ontario to say the same kind of thing in his budget. I would like to see it there. I would like to see a formal position put forward by this government which clearly recognizes the importance of that auto industry to the whole economy of our province. I would like to see them simply be a bit more straightforward. In fact, if we get right down to the nuts and bolts of it, when one talks about the auto industry in Canada, one really talks about the auto industry in this one province alone. There are production facilities in Quebec, that’s true, but about 90 per cent of the entire industry is located in this one province. Surely, if it’s that important and if it’s that large, this government shouldn’t be the least bit shy about speaking out on it.
Mr. Hall: Don’t forget the Bricklin, Mike.
Mr. Breaugh: No, I am quite happy to forget the Bricklin. Most of North America has forgotten the Bricklin. We absolutely can’t afford it.
I want to talk just briefly about another speech the Treasurer made, this one to the Empire Club of Canada. It’s a good thing I get copies of these, because I certainly don’t get invited to the Empire Club too often. Here’s something unusual. What I love about these little speeches is the tidbits you draw out of them. For the most part you rarely catch ministers, very important ones like the Treasurer, as an example, admitting our industrial labour relations problems are sometimes causing great difficulty for us.
In this instance he said: “By 1977, the work stoppages went down and we had a dramatic reduction of over two million days in work stoppages, a dramatic reduction.” To listen to his speeches in this House from time to time, you wouldn’t think that was the case at all. In fact, on occasion you would think industrial disputes and the particular problem of people trying to organize so they could bargain and negotiate a decent standard of living was one of the single worst things that ever happened in North America. Yet when he’s speaking to the Empire Club he’s arguing the other side of the coin.
He mentions a couple of other points which I think are pertinent. Certainly this one is: Maintaining our social commitments more efficiently. We spent a good deal of time in the last little while dealing with the matter of the health care system in total. Dealing with that is a moral obligation and is something it’s necessary for us to do. What I find interesting though is here he says:
“Maintaining those commitments more efficiently.” I watched the Minister of Health (Mr. Timbrell), as an example, table a series of studies that had been done inside his ministry by interministerial committees. They identified places where there were problems in the health care delivery system, places where, almost by consensus now, we can say things aren’t being done as efficiently as they ought to be. You know the odd thing is that though those studies have been done, though the problems have been identified; even the Liberal Party has found out some places where there are real problems in the health care system now, that’s how obvious they are; even though all of that has happened, we still don’t see this government moving in any of those areas. They have done the studies. For example, we had, in the hearings just completed, both the Treasurer of the province of Ontario and the Minister of Health saying the premium system really was a regressive system. The Treasurer defended it by simply saying:
“The thing is in place and we’ve got to live with it. We’re studying ways and means of getting out of it.” But he admitted it was regressive.
The Minister of Health had this rather unfortunate escapade in the committee where he replaced, removed and presented in front of the committee some rather conflicting documents. The pertinent one was where his staff, and he personally, also believed it was regressive and not fair. That document was tabled in front of the committee and debated at some length. Here we have the two senior ministers admitting that the premium system bears no relationship to healthcare costs.
The Treasurer in his document again the other day, unrepentant soul that he is, was still making his argument for the visible link concept, despite the fact that both he and the Minister of Health admitted in the committee that there is absolutely no study in the world which shows that there is a visible link or that it has any real impact on the public or the people who consume the health-care services in the province of Ontario. That’s an unusual thing, to say the least.
Another little point the Treasurer made was in a speech called Disentangling Our Government. I think that’s an important one, because this government needs to be disentangled from a great many traditions and dogmas which it manages to retain. I find it unusual that in a speech to the Empire Club the Treasurer of Ontario would he prepared to admit such a thing. I find it even more unusual that he wouldn’t be hopping in here the very next day showing us precisely how he is going to disentangle all of that.
Here’s the last little one I want to put on the record from the mouth of the Treasurer himself. This one was made at the men’s Canadian Club of Vancouver. I find that like most ministers the farther he gets away from here the more he is prepared to admit the truth. Here’s a juicy one. He said “Manufacturing employment growth in my province almost stopped during the last five years. Tariff policy, put simply, is no longer a viable cornerstone to Ontario’s advance or biased peculiarly in our favour.”
That’s the same minister who says he wants freer trade, not necessarily the abandoning of the tariff but freer trade. He is recognizing in that speech and others he has made that some of our industrial sector, some parts of our economy, would go right straight down the tube were it not for some tariffs. He is not particularly proposing that major changes have to be made or what specifically they might be. We haven’t been able to get him even around to the point in his major economic cornerstone, the auto pact, where he can get specific about that and say exactly what he wants done, exactly what the problems are and exactly what the solutions might be in all that. He is prepared to say it outside this House, but inside this House he still seems quite content with the notion that the auto pact is a federal responsibility and he will let them have their say and do whatever they will. That’s pretty dangerous stuff.
The point I want to make is that I like to compare what all of these ministers say. The Treasurer comes in here, tables his budget papers and makes his dramatic little speech. I always enjoy the theatrics, but I like to compare what they say outside the House, what they say in speeches to different groups and what small admissions they are prepared to make outside this House. I think it is interesting to know that what they purport to do in here and what they say outside this House doesn’t always jibe. On occasion one can find them making little slips, most notably whenever they get to groups that might be a bit hostile and they want to placate them just a little bit.
I started off these comments by saying our primary concern is jobs. That’s not surprising as we represent people who work for a living. Some might say that’s a bit of a class comment. I guess it is, but I suppose there are more and more people in our society who are prepared to admit they actually do work for a living, are not afraid to join a union and not afraid to negotiate for their rights. Of all the trade unions going in the province of Ontario, maybe the most effective one is the Ontario Medical Association, but I think the UAW is at least a close second and improving every day.
Those are important to us. What I want to tie in here is a little consistency. On the very first day he announced this budget it was pretty clear that this Treasurer was not responding to the economy of the province at all. In particular he was not responding to the single most difficult problem we have, unemployment. We saw again last week, when the Treasurer rose to announce, rather ungraciously, his defeat on the OHIP premium increase, that he went right hack to that same thing. He is at least consistent, one must give him that. He cost the province of Ontario about 6,000 more jobs.
He was beaten down on one hand about a premium increase, hut he made sure he came right back in the same breath and again attacked the working people of this province who pay the hills; he went right back at them again. While the Liberal Party and the New Democrats in this House might be quite happy with the idea that at least we rolled back a premium increase to some degree, none of us can be very happy about the way in which it was done.
None of us can be very happy today that the Treasurer has done it again. He’s nailed 6,000 more jobs to the wall, most of them, I suppose, in the civil service of the province of Ontario. That’s a tough argument to make, I’m well aware of that, but I think they have a right to earn a living and that most of those people do perform a necessary function for us; some of them in the private sector as well.
Mr. Foulds: The Liberals are happy about that.
Mr. Breaugh: I want to say a few words about the health-care system. In all the debates we had in the social development committee, and the comments made in this House last Tuesday afternoon when we discussed the report of the social development committee, we almost got a commitment from the Premier of this province to see that some form of a committee of this House, most likely a select committee, would begin to investigate health-care costs in Ontario; would begin to take a look at precisely how those services are delivered to the consuming public; would take a look at the cost control mechanisms that are supposed to be in place but which we’re a little hard pressed to find.
It is important that that pact be carried out It’s important that it be done by a select committee. A little more specifically, I want to see that select committee look at how much of our health-care system is by tradition and how much of it is by good, plain, common souse. I am unsure, having studied the system itself, whether there is really any cost control in that health-care system at all.
I can see two or three rather blunt mechanisms that are there, mostly in limits of payments they will give to doctors. I do not see an ongoing cost control program at work in every facet of health-care delivery in this province. I think that’s important.
I don’t see, for example, a clear investigation of services provided and moneys paid out. Part of that problem, unbelievable as it might seem, is that though we do have OHIP computers, printouts and lots of staff, and though we have done lots of studies, we don’t even know how many human beings are covered by OHIP in this province.
Mr. Eaton: Everybody.
Mr. Kerrio: All of them, Mike.
Mr. Breaugh: That’s an interesting point. All of the people in the province of Ontario are not covered by OHIP. It’s interesting to note that though the ministry has a formula for determining how many people are there, how many supposed claimants are covered under it all; and though they’ve got computer runs which show us how many claims were made and how many claims they paid to doctors last year; the one basic thing you’d think they’d start out with, the thing you would think would be the most simple, the easiest thing to find out, how many people are covered by OHIP, they don’t know.
They have a formula which makes an estimate of that; but they don’t know how many living, breathing souls are covered by OHIP. I would think that’s a pretty fundamental piece of information.
In the course of our deliberations in that committee we looked at a thing called a UPI, a unique personal identifier. It involved a rather impressive study that went on at great length about whether or not it would be plastic or paper, and whether or not to us the social insurance number or some other number, or combination of numbers.
But what is all this study about this thing called the UPI, the personal identifier? It’s important to note that the base problem, there are two or three attached to it but the base problem, the reason we don’t know how many people are in the system, is because there’s no real way to identify individuals. Many of us, I suppose, have two OHIP numbers. Many of us are billed for different services under different numbers. We don’t know that. As a result we don’t know precisely what costs are there.
For example, I recall last year there was a small uproar around this place when it was released how many doctors had earned over $100,000 a year. At that time the interesting comment was we don’t really know whether that’s an individual salary or whether that doctor is hilling for a group of doctors; whether it’s just doctors’ services or are lab fees rolled in. Even today, we still don’t know
Of course the doctors have the argument, and I think it’s legitimate to grant them this point, that those figures are not necessarily what doctors make, they can be gross costs, there could be a wide variance there.
Under the same system you can have doctors who work very hard and very long hours. For example, general practitioners provide great services in health care to the people in the province of Ontario, yet they’ve been rather hard done by under the system that we’re using. There are certain fields of specialists who work much fewer hours and provide much more specialized services, but who’ve done really rather well under this medicare system that we have in Ontario.
From the consumer; or the patient, in the province of Ontario right through to the doctor, there are inequities in our system that are recognized by almost everyone. I don’t think members would find very many doctors who are all that happy with our health care system or the way the premiums are paid or whatever. The irony, I guess, is that the ultimate consumer, who ought to be squawking the most, is maybe the one who’s most in need of doctors’ services and therefore is not really in a position to put up too much of a fuss; or if he doesn’t need the doctors’ services, he may not be quite aware of how expensive it’s getting to be and how awkward it can be and what inequities there are in the system.
A good example of that, I guess, was last year when the then Minister of Health (Mr. F. S. Miller) went around and closed the hospitals. There was a great deal of talk about cutbacks. I know that many people in my community had a little difficulty relating to that. Cutbacks in hospitals? They didn’t close down any wings in Oshawa General Hospital, so they weren’t aware of all that. But it’s surprising, people have friends and relatives and sometimes personal experiences where they visit those hospitals, and after a while, after about a year slowly but surely they gradually get some concept of what those cutbacks mean. They begin to understand that one doesn’t quite get the same level of service one used to get there, that there are some differences.
That takes a while to go into effect, but I would put to members that more and more people are becoming aware of these things. More and more people are beginning to understand that those cutbacks are real and meaningful to their own lives and the lives of their friends.
One of the biggest arguments against the OHIP premium increase, as an example, was the fact that it really is taxation people can’t see. They don’t see that OHIP bill. A great many people have it deducted at source. A great many have theft employers paying a percentage of theft OHIP fees. It’s a form of taxation, a source of revenue that people don’t see. It’s odd that the Treasurer would make the argument about the “visible link” and choose a tax that people can’t see to emphasize his visible link. There's a bit of a contradiction in that. He’s one of the few people in this House, I suggest, who could say that with great volume and at great length.
I also want to say some words, during the course of this reply to the budget, about this House. If members are a little sensitive about it, we might say that we’ve had some lectures this week about minority government and about give-and-take, it would do us well, as members of this House, to give some thought to precisely what the Premier (Mr. Davis) meant when, in wrapping up the OHIP debate the other day, he said, “Well, we have to have give-and-take in minority government. We have given this afternoon and we want some co-operation on things like Bill 70.”
There is this matter of arriving at a consensus in a minority situation, of sending something off to a committee and saying that committee reflects the membership of this House, and in a direct way the will of the people of the province of Ontario. I thought that’s what the committee system was all about. Certainly, we saw the matter of the OHIP premium go off to committee and come back here with a consensus. That consensus was expressed and the government responded -- not in as direct a way as we would have liked, that’s for sure, and not in a way we would have liked either, that’s also for sure; but it did respond.
In the case of Bill 70 -- there’s another one that’s been at the trough for a long time, we’ve had extensive hearings about that particular piece of legislation. I heard the Premier of this province say a rather remarkable thing in this House this afternoon. He now wants to reintroduce the bill in its original form. I hope he doesn’t mean that, because that would be denying the parliamentary process we’ve been through for the past year. That would be saying to the people around this province that all the hearings the committee has held over the last year were a sham and they don’t count. That would he saying to the members of this House that the committee work that most of them have done for the better part of a year doesn’t count either. What counts is that when it comes back in here, because the government co-operated -- and I use the word “co-operated” very loosely -- because the government responded to a minority situation last week, they now expect a trade-off, a favour from the other members of this House in regard to Bill 70.
That would be a tragedy, Mr. Speaker. We are undergoing some difficulties with minority government. We are having a tough time, sometimes, explaining government programs to opposition members who don’t want to hear it and who won’t accept it. To be fair, on the other side of the coin, we have opposition members sometimes having a difficult time sorting out their role. Are they advising the government? Are they being co-opted into supporting government programs? What will be the nature of it all? So we do have our problems with government at this stage.
Perhaps it would be a bit easier to say we will have nothing in the world but majority government, which makes things very clear for everyone: Opposition parties oppose, and the party in power governs the province of Ontario. That is not the case, though. We have a minority situation. To complicate matters a bit further, we in this House have gone through some rather lengthy processes in setting up parliamentary reform. We have looked at the rules of this House and we have seen a few instances in the last little while where, in my opinion, the provisional standing orders of the House have been used to good advantage by members on all sides. I think that is fair.
I recall, in the social development hearings, reading in the press about “greasy parliamentary manoeuvering.” I would hope that the members of this House would have some respect for the traditions of Parliaments throughout the world. Those who say that the use of the standing orders or the provisional orders of this House is not a nice thing, that somehow that is “greasy” or whatever, I think are quite wrong. That denies the fact that without a set of rules, and without some revision of those rules from time to time, no parliament in the world could operate.
It is nice to know what the rules are. It is nice to be able to pick up the provisional standing orders, look them over once in a while and see what alternatives are available to members of this House. It is nice to take a look at the rule book and say, “If we are unhappy with the government’s position today, then there are provisions to refer matters to committees in certain circumstances; there are provisions in committee work to say your piece as government members or as opposition m:mbers.” It doesn’t much matter which side of the House one sits on, the rules are the same for everybody.
It makes about as much sense to me to complain about the rules of this House or any other House as it would be to go to Maple Leaf Gardens when the referee has made a judgement call. Someone will say, “I don’t care whether he was right or wrong; there shouldn’t be a rule book. People shouldn’t have to play according to the rules.” The only thing that holds any Parliament in the world together is the consensus that is reflected in the standing orders and in the decisions that are made by the Speaker of the House and the other people who chair the sessions of this House. Those are important things.
I think we have some measure to go and I want to point out some areas where I have concerns. In the last assessment of the rules, we decided to provide for a more meaningful role for private members. One of those occasions is the matter of having the private members’ hour. We have in our provisional standing orders a provision that says 20 members can block a vote in private members’ hour. That somewhat thwarts the notion of private members’ bills.
I am not concerned that those members who sit on the government side of this House may decide to caucus out in that lobby and come back in here to vote against the bill. That doesn’t bother me at all. I do think that if a piece of legislation is proposed by a private member which he deems to be worthy of debate in this House, he suffers the agony of the balloting process we use to get it in here, and he finally has his day in this House and gets to present what he thinks is an important bill or an important resolution, then at least the members of this Parliament ought to respect the process enough to let the thing go to a vote. Vote against it if you like; without question. Speak against all you want; that is the best of our parliamentary tradition. Cast aspersions on anyone members care to. But let the thing come to a vote.
Why is it so necessary -- and I must say in this instance that I know there have been occasions when members of both parties on this side of the House, collectively or individually, however it happens on occasion here, have stood to block a vote.
Mr. Kerrio: It was a mistake.
Mr. Breaugh: Well, I don’t like the system. I don’t like its use on this side either. But even more important I must say, I most often see that happening on the other side of this House. For the life of me, when we have a government with all of the tools and mechanisms of government and of this Parliament at its disposal, I fail to see why it is necessary for government members to stand in block and prevent a matter before this House from coming to a vote. I don’t think that is necessary at all.
To be quite frank about it, on the other side of the House we have seen a few private members’ bills actually get through the initial process. But you know, Mr. Speaker, the number of private members’ bills from this side of the House that have gone through the committee stage and back into this House, and out again, is a little scarce. It is a little scarce on that side too, but it is even more so from over here.
So if the government wants to be nice about it, and it wants to be reasonable about it, why doesn’t it let the private, individual members of this House have their little private members’ hour? Let them bring in whatever they want in terms of a resolution or a bill, and let the thing come to a vote.
Now I suppose we will go back into procedural affairs, or into some session of this House when we debate the provisional rules, and we will get to that point where we say members can’t stand up to block a vote. I am reluctant to do that. I am not unaware of why the mechanism of blocking was put in there. If there was some silly and frivolous thing at some point in like, on some rare occasion, the members -- 20 of them -- might decide this thing doesn’t even deserve a vote. But when I see it being used regularly as a tool to say that just because a member is not on that side of the House he can’t get a private members bill through, then I think it is a misuse of the rules of this House. I think we ought to review that one substantively.
I want to deal with a couple of other things that are related to the roles of the members individually, as opposed to collectively or on party terms. I had an occasion, thanks to an invitation put forward by the parliamentary association, to spend some time at Westminster in Britain and to look at their parliamentary traditions and their standing orders. I don’t think we have to take much of a back seat to the mother of Parliament. I think in most instances we operate in perhaps a more casual way, it’s a little looser in spots, but some of their traditions, quite frankly, are ones that are undeniable.
One of the things they have which is before the procedural affairs committee now is this matter of whether members can challenge the Chair, whether they can challenge the Speaker’s ruling. We have been looking into that. In theory, it sounds nice to retain the right to challenge whatever a committee chairman sets up, or whatever the Speaker of this House sets up as being a ruling. In fact one would be hard pressed to find an occasion when it was ever overturned. In the British Parliament they simply dispense with all of that. In fact, in most of the parliaments operating in the world they dispense with that notion as well. It puts the onus on the Speaker in the Chair, and the chairmen in committees to make sure their rulings are not made off the cuff.
I want to say, quite frankly, that in spending a little time researching the precedents of the House and the rules of the House, I have found there are a great many practices around here that really aren’t according to Hoyle. It is a little difficult sometimes to examine precisely how we get into these jackpots. One is the very matter of the members rolling into the committees. They sit down and they take part in the committee deliberations, not knowing what happened before. On occasion I have seen many members of the House come in and do their 10 minutes and get up and walk out. The remainder of the people who are trying to work on that committee are left to face this disruption and see what goes on. I think we have to at least give consideration to respecting what officially is the rule of the House; that a member of the committee is assigned to do work and other members may certainly come in and speak to that committee at the discretion of the committee. I know it is a little tighter and I suppose it takes away some of the freedom of members to go and participate in debates here, there and all over the place, but I do not think it would be a bad idea if the members of this House decided once and for all we cannot, and we will not, he all things to all people. We will not even attempt to do all things for all people. We will settle down as individual members who play a role here in private members’ hour. In committee, there will be specific jobs for us to do and we will carry those duties out, but we will not try to belong to all of the committees of this House and participate in all of the debates. It is awkward, I admit quite frankly, for 125 people to sit down and run over a rule book as complicated as our standing orders. But I do think the members of this House would be better off individually and that the House would work better collectively, if the members were more aware of what those rules are; if they paid more attention to them; and if they challenged them from time to time where there are occasions to challenge them. They should make some judgement calls about what rights they are prepared to give up in order to clarify the business of this House and what rights they want to see embellished, because those are more important. I have outlined a couple of the things that I think are important. I think, quite frankly, the matter of letting the private members’ bills presented in that hour of business during the course of our week’s deliberation come to a vote is important. I think it denies the purpose of the entire exercise when the votes are blocked like that.
In order to get something like that I would be prepared to admit that I don’t have the liberty to roam the building and drop into every committee meeting going and give my two cents’ worth and get up and walk out. I would be prepared to say that there are members of my caucus on that committee and they have a job to do, let them do it. I don’t necessarily want to give them exclusive rights on the thing, but I am quite prepared to talk about concessions that might be made in that regard.
So there are concerns about the working of this House, and I said this last year during the comments I made on the reply to the budget. I sometimes wonder whether the entire exercise is 70 per cent, 50 per cent, some days 90 per cent an exercise in futility. Who is listening? Who cares? Does it really matter that the members are here on Thursday night when the rest of the world is watching the Leafs beat the Islanders? Yes, I think it does.
Does it matter that we spend long hours in committee during the estimates debate when the plain fact of it all, when we get right down to the bottom line, is we can’t really deal with the estimates as a budgetary matter. One can go in there and work away. One can lay out party policies and platforms. One can criticize the minister involved, examine various programs; but the estimates are not a budgetary debate in the truest sense of the word. If they were, the government would send its budget -- I’d like to catch the Treasurer doing this one -- off to the committee, piece by piece, and what they would like when they came back no one would know save and except that committee. I really can’t see this Treasurer allowing his budget -- this Treasurer doesn’t even tell the members of the cabinet what’s in his budget, let alone --
Mr. Samis: Doesn’t even trust his own party.
Mr. Breaugh: -- trust the members of this House to go at it. So I think there are obviously some areas where we should try to clarify what is happening there.
Part of what we do is bound by tradition. The members opposite present a program in the form of a budget. Specifically, the Treasurer gets up and gives it. Then each one of the ministers trots off to the estimates. The members on this side of the House have the opportunity then to examine, to discuss with the minister, to ask questions. But in terms of getting information out of the ministers I think it is a rare occasion when members get information the minister doesn’t want to give them That’s not very often the case.
We have succeeded, in the last little while, in getting books prepared by ministry staff that give information to members on this side so that we can, in a logical and orderly way, go through the estimates. We had a report from the procedural affairs committee in here last week which indicated that -- here’s an example where we get into hot water again, that we ought to at least obey what the rules of the House are: The rules of the House say that on the first vote of the first item the members, in particular the critic of the party, is given considerable latitude to run up and down the minister’s back and lay out his party platform and lay out differences in political philosophy and ways in which we would change things in practice; but after that one sticks to the votes as we go through them item by item. That’s a bit of a trade-off that was recommended by procedural affairs and accepted by the members of this House.
Another trade-off that might well be recommended or thought of as we go through this process, is should the members of this House have access to the minister’s own documents? [n other words, if we are going to play this game of discussing the estimates, should the members of the committee sit there with the same information as the minister who is replying? That would be an interesting exercise.
In theory we do that now, we are all dealing off the briefing book; but in practice the critics sit there by themselves, and on occasion they have a little research staff, sending little notes up and down. I have sat in estimates where a minister of this House fled the room with his staff, and here are the critics with their little pencils and pieces of paper supposedly taking on the minister. It is not exactly one-on-one in that situation. Sometimes a member is hard-pressed to find a seat in the room with the ministry staff in attendance.
Maybe we ought to consider if there are other ways and means that the members of this House could devise that would even up that process a little bit. Are we paying the price? The irony that I see constantly in this House, and I guess it is true in everybody’s Parliament, is that we very often get into that great rush near the end of a session when all kinds of things roll in here and all kinds of urgent public business is presented to the members in the form of bills; yet on other occasions we’re a little hard-pressed to order the business.
I thought in the provisional rules we had gone some measure -- and we have compared to the practice here before -- in ordering the business of this House; but we haven’t gone quite far enough, in my view. I think it ironic that a bill as major as Bill 70 could have been dealt with in committee so long ago and not been carried yet. Where is that bill? When do we get to see it? In what form will it reappear?
I would think if we were conducting the business of the House in a sane, rational and orderly way, when a bill is reported back from committee that’s it. On the next reasonable occasion the government calls the bill and we debate it, if there are differences of opinion we debate them in this House.
That’s the purpose of the Parliament. That’s the reason it’s in place. If there are compromises that need to be struck and negotiations that have to happen, that’s fine too, but let’s do it out here where we can see what’s going on.
Let’s determine what is the government’s position on various parts of Bill 70. Let us see it; let’s not sit back and make the members over here pry it out one day at a time. Why isn’t there an orderly, responsive means of presenting bills back from committee into this House and then calling them for debate?
There are a great many problems and I don’t expect we will ever solve all of the problems as to how this House orders its business. Frankly, no Parliament in the world has ever done that. We don’t have to take a back seat to any parliament in the world, but that doesn’t mean we can set all that consideration aside.
The provisional rules supposedly, will undergo a thorough review later on this year by the procedural affairs committee and then by the members of this House when we will have a full-scale debate on it. It is going to be a long and complicated matter when we get into those rules. It is important that individual members of this House, and in particular the government as a government, give some pretty serious consideration to making this Parliament work.
It is a sad day for me when I hear the Premier on his feet in this House horse-trading over legislation. That’s surely no way for a government to do business. It’s surely not acceptable to me as an individual member of this House and it shouldn’t be acceptable to any member of this House to engage in something as important as Bill 70 as a horse-trading exercise. If they lost last week they want to make sure they win this week.
We have to give serious consideration, as individual members and collectively at the committee level, as to how the rules of this House are put together and as to how they are reviewed, so that we wind up with a parliamentary process that works well and so that when it needs to be reformed it is reformed and reformed in a clear and direct way. When the traditions of this House are good and substantial traditions, we should ensure that those things are maintained and that we don’t throw them all out the window.
It strikes me that one of the ironies of the Camp commission and the Morrow committee that sat and looked at that is that the whole system they put out in terms of setting up the major committee systems that function regularly throughout the ordinary business of the House would have worked magnificently well if there was a majority government. It seems that one of the things they didn’t consider in all of those deliberations is the fact that every once in a while in our history we get what is known as a minority government, and it’s causing a few problems here and there.
It strikes me that we may have to give some consideration to providing for both types of parliaments, where there is a minority or a majority. If the members care, the basic recommendations that are in those provisional rules will stand this House well, but I think we have some problems. There was clearly an intent in the Camp commission recommendations and the Morrow committee’s report to see that the role of committee chairmen is substantially beefed up. I think that will do this House well if we manage to have committee chairmen assume a role that isn’t just sitting there accepting the goodies from their caucus or party, but is really an important role in parliamentary terms.
As an example, if I am prepared as a member of this House to give up my right to appeal a Speaker’s ruling or the ruling of a committee chairman, then I have a right to expect, even in committee, that the chairmen of those committees will take some time with their rulings, that they are not given off the cuff but that they’re prepared to say: “I’m not prepared to give you a ruling on that. Give me 10 minutes. I want to do a little research on that.” In fact it should not always be the case that they need a break to go and do the research, they should be as well versed as possible so that in most instances they can give rulings that aren’t off the cuff, that are well thought out.
One of the things we might do collectively as members of this House is spend a little time in groups. The Speaker’s panel was set up under the provisional rules to provide this House with a group of people who could chair committees; who would share their information, would point out problems to the Speaker and to the procedural affairs committee and to the members of this House at large whom they were meeting regularly. I am not very happy with the way the Speaker’s panel has developed. In fact, it really hasn’t looked at any substantive matters just yet. About all the Speaker’s panel has done is direct private public bills to various committees. There is obviously a role for that group of people to play in the development of new standing orders for this House, in coming up with recommendations that might be made.
I want to close by coming back to that one point. Individual members of this House have lots of things to do; constituency work, political things to do, party responsibilities and a world of things. I am simply asking in this closing note that each member consider his role as a member of this Parliament and look at the standing rules; look at the provisional orders; see what things are there that don’t make sense to them. Then get some explanation; play their roles as members of political parties, which we all do; express themselves, as I did in the beginning comments in this reply to the budget speech on areas where I think that substantively my personal views and the views of this political party that I represent differ from those of the government. That’s a responsibility we have. We have one other responsibility in addition to the many I have listed for members this evening, and that is individually to play a role in this parliamentary process. It’s an important one, and though it creaks along and is awkward from time to time, it’s one I wouldn’t be prepared to give up under any circumstance. It’s one I believe in and I think it works incredibly well for most of the free world. The fact that we have trouble with our rules from time to time really shouldn’t make us hesitate in speaking out about those rules, in looking at ways to make them better and looking at ways -- not just to make the minority government work better but to make this Parliament work better. That’s the reason all of us are here.
Mr. Cureatz: May I say at the outset I am very pleased to be able to partake in the budget speech tonight representing the good people of Durham East. It’s nice to see so many members of the House in the Legislative Assembly considering there’s a hockey game tonight. Especially members of my own party; just look at them all here, holding the fort.
Mr. Eakins: All five.
Mr. Roy: Some of us have a proper sense of priority.
Mr. Cureatz: I was listening very closely to most of the debate of the member for Oshawa, and cutting through a lot of the political verbiage I found many of his comments very interesting. I want to say to the member for Oshawa that I have been wrestling with some of those points in regard to parliamentary procedure through most of my first year as a parliamentarian here at Queen’s Park. I am very sympathetic with some of his views.
It also goes without saying that I have often had some difficulty at those times when both myself and the member for Oshawa had been invited to similar dos but I think it’s good for the people --
Mr. Foulds: Dos? What’s this word dos? Is that a noun? I thought the word do was a verb.
Mr. Cureatz: -- of the city of Oshawa, whom we both represent, to see that there are opposite sides of the fence to every situation. When we are both sitting down side by side, it gives the people of our city a good indication of the kinds of representation they have on opposite sides of the House -- I think that’s fair for a parliamentary system, and as the member for Oshawa indicated fair for the true western world and the parliamentary system we so strongly believe in.
Mr. Bradley: Both of you should be improved.
Mr. Cureatz: The only other comment I would like to direct to the member for Oshawa is that the mayor of Oshawa, Mayor Jim Potticary has since indicated --
Mr. Haggerty: Good man.
Mr. Eakins: Excellent.
Mr. Cureatz: -- to me that previous to the last election, he quite often found it a little overwhelming with the number of socialists he had to contend with at the various functions --
Mr. Breaugh: Especially among the electorate.
Mr. Cureatz: -- at the Polish hall and at city hall, what with one of my federal representatives, Mr. Broadbent; and of course the member for Oshawa and the then member for Durham West and the then member for Durham East But he’s indicated to me that --
Mr. Foulds: They’ll be back and you won’t.
Mr. Cureatz: Not if United Parcel Service lets him, let’s face up to that reality. The mayor has since indicated that it’s nice to see that the good people of Oshawa decided they wanted a bit of good representation as far as the free enterprise system goes at various functions. It is nice to see that he and I can get along so well together in response to the socialist hordes that he seemed to have to face up to.
Mr. Roy: He’s a good man. We’ll get rid of one more federally.
Mr. Cureatz: Since the first introduction I’ve had with the mayor of Oshawa, I see that he is attempting to go on to bigger and better things. I was wondering whether he would go to the Conservative side --
Mr. Eakins: You said bigger and better things.
Mr. Cureatz: -- but unfortunately be decided otherwise. He’s going to have a tough battle in that riding, there is no doubt about
Mr. Bradley: The Tory will lose his deposit federally.
Mr. Cureatz: He’s got a big, hard contender: the present leader of the New Democratic Party federally. It will be looked upon with some interest to see what will take place. if and when that federal election does come into being.
If I may get down to some specifics now, I would like to begin by reviewing some aspects of what has taken place during this budget debate and the concerns of the House. The first item I would like to concentrate on is the Darlington generating station and the initiative that has been taken on that project on behalf of my government. I am confident the members approve of the job-creating aspects of the generating station. The work force on the site will peak at about 3,700 in 1984, and equipment and sub-contracts will provide some 14,000 jobs across the province.
Some members of the opposition have displayed concern that the project was granted exemption from the Environmental Assessment Act. They will be happy to know that both Newcastle and the Durham region approved of this decision by the government.
Ms. Gigantes: They were paid to.
Mr. Cureatz: When Mayor Garnet Rickard presented Newcastle’s brief to the royal commission on electric power planning he described the negotiated agreement with Ontario Hydro as examples of what could be achieved “through co-operation and communication and not by confrontation.”
Long before the Bowmanville public meeting in June, 1976, our government has been mindful of the concerns of local residents. That is why we are on record as affirming that technical design and standards for the Darlington generating station will meet all the criteria of the Environmental Protection Act, the Ontario Water Resources Act, Ministry of Natural Resources requirements and the Atomic Energy Control Act. Durham is very proud of the opportunity, not simply to improve its own economic circumstances but to make a substantial contribution to the overall electrical power system in the province.
Mr. Haggerty: All for export.
Mr. Cureatz: There have been a few complaints that Ontario does not really require the 3,400 megawatts that Darlington will be delivering. I trust the statement that the Minister of Energy (Mr. Baetz) delivered to this House 10 days ago has persuaded members that there is no need for the cancellation of any station, though Wesleyville’s capacity will be reduced by half.
Ms. Gigantes: It has not.
Mr. Cureatz: We will need the energy Darlington is scheduled to produce. Our government has confidence, as the minister stated, in the inherent strength and vitality of the Canadian economy.
The next area I want to review is property tax reform. I think it is essential that this House proceed as rapidly as possible towards implementation of an equitable property tax system and resolve whatever start-up difficulties may emerge in a spirit of non-partisan co-operation. If property tax reform gets bogged down here in the House, people across this province will be up in arms over the delays we will be creating. I am sure other members understand the implications of the present system for their own areas of Ontario. Let me just touch on some of the implications with respect to the region of Durham, and more specifically in my riding of Durham East.
In 1976, under the present system, Durham region property taxpayers who owned and/or resided in single-family residences, including condominiums and cottages, paid out over $35 million in property taxes. Had the alternative system been in place at that time, those taxpayers in my area would have paid an estimated $4 million less than they were forced to pay in fact. That is an inequity of about 13 per cent, which is a pretty large chunk of money to be paying out without good reason.
The story for single-family residences is typical of the entire property tax situation in Durham. We are simply paying too much. Multiple residences in 1976 would have saved over $2.7 million and the property tax on farms would have been almost $1.5 million less. Durham, as members know, is working hard to establish a solid industrial core, but when industry is paying about $2 million more in property taxes than it should be paying, I say it is time to get on with the job and implement the necessary reforms.
I sincerely hope that no party in this House will turn tax reform into a political football to be kicked around the House and in committees. We all have information we need to act upon and it really remains only for us to give formal approval for the go-ahead.
Taxes on the average single residence in Durham are more than $75 too high. The people of my riding will simply not tolerate political delay at this point. More specifically, there are extreme inequities in the tax structure of the old townships of Darlington and Clark that must be resolved as quickly as possible.
I must say I am confident, through the fast co-operation of the town of Newcastle, the regional municipality of Durham, and the province. that these tax problems can be solved. But I must stress again that we all must act with great speed and good co-operation so that these inequities can be looked into and resolved.
Local finance reform is only one aspect of this government’s determination to help Durham region. One of the major tenets of the 1970 Toronto-centred region concept was the go-east policy, and the government has been good to its word. From 1971 to 1976, Oshawa’s population grew at the rate of 2.4 per cent per year, making it one of the fastest-growing major cities in Canada.
Last spring the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) announced in the Legislature that the government had decided to locate the new warehousing facilities of the LCBO in the region of Durham. He indicated at the same time that the head office of the Ontario Ministry of Revenue would be located in Oshawa. As the member for Durham West (Mr. Ashe) indicated, that new warehouse will be located in his specific riding. In conjunction with that, I might add that the Premier (Mr. Davis), in support of the expansion of the go-east policy, made a specific point of attending a kickoff program, more or less, for the Durham industrial program, which was spearheaded by the chairman of the region, Mr. Walter Beath, and the industrial program developer, Bob Nicol.
It’s our estimation that the Premier was very satisfied with the way the industrial committee and the region of Durham were facing np to their problems and how they were very ably attacking those problems so that we will be in a better position to get some industry out our way and, hence, move some more population eastward.
I think it’s safe to say that the growth towards Durham has not been as expansive as we all would have hoped, but with this kind of initiative that our particular party has taken in regard to stressing the go-east policy, we’re very confident that Durham West, Oshawa and Durham East, as well as those ridings farther east, will be able to expand, not only through industry but also through population growth.
The Premier, very kindly continuing in his endeavours and showing his support to the residents of the city of Oshawa, was able to attend the opening of the new addition to the Oshawa library. I might also comment that he was showing no specific preferences to myself. In fact, the Oshawa library is located in the riding of Oshawa. But there he was, right in the riding of the member opposite, commenting about his lack of presence.
Mr. Bradley: If there were cameras there, he’d be there.
Mr. Cureatz: Actually, he commented also that the mayor of Oshawa wasn’t present at the opening of the Oshawa library. I know a number of residents were a little concerned that the specific member couldn’t even show up for the opening of a major facility to provide service for all the residents of the city of Oshawa.
Mr. Bradley: Was he invited?
Mr. Cureatz: That’s an interesting comment from the opposite side. The mayor of Oshawa, whose political leanings I’ve already alluded to, didn’t even come. And he was specifically invited. So we’re a little curious as to what’s taking place between ourselves and the members opposite and their political affiliates.
Mr. Bradley: It must have been a Tory rally. I have seen those situations.
Mr. Eakins: The Premier would certainly be determined --
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order.
Mr. Cureatz: Together, Mr. Speaker, these steps will bring more than 800 jobs to the area, with the move of the Revenue building and the LCBO warehouse location.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Where is my Sergeant at Arms?
Mr. Cureatz: Of equal importance was the recognition by this government that the head office of a provincial ministry need not be located in Toronto, that it was feasible to locate it beyond Metro boundaries. I’m gratified by the confidence with which this decision has obviously been based upon.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring you to order so that I may continue the debate of the budget.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Please address the Chair and not your colleagues across the way.
Mr. Eakins: Excellent speech, Sam. Do you notice the crowd is growing?
Mr. Cureatz: Yes, I see that. The Leafs must have scored another goal.
Mr. Eakins: That’s unfair competition.
Mr. Cureatz: A further indication of the support this government directs toward Durham was the announcement that this government would advance a $1.7 million interest-free loan to the region to support the servicing of industrial land. This significant step will do a great deal to boost employment in my area and to help diversify both the economy and the community. The province’s 75 per cent funding of an industrial promotion program will further broaden the industrial base of the region.
Stemming from the specifics in regard to those areas that I have centred on in my riding and the regional municipality of Durham, I would just like to touch on a couple of points that have been of great interest to all of us as parliamentarians in the last week.
I think the first one that has to be recognized is the debate on OHIP. I will very honestly and sincerely say that after the Treasurer’s budget announcement I had a number of calls from concerned constituents, farmers, owners of small industries, who were very concerned about the kind of increase that took place, and they expressed that kind of concern. There was an acknowledgement that we do have to start paying for many of these facilities, that we cannot keep increasing the provincial debt beyond all recognition, but there was an avid concern by good supporters of the Progressive Conservative Party about the policy that was being followed and an indication that possibly another look could be taken at the OHIP increase.
Interestingly enough -- and I say this without party affiliation -- through the workings of minority government a kind of solution was reached. We all have to respect the wishes and desires of the people of Ontario who voted in a minority government. Under the most trying circumstances -- certainly most trying as a government -- we have often seen results through our various caucus meetings; through the wishes of the people of Ontario, as they deemed fit to elect a minority government, and through the various negotiations that did take place, there was a compromise on the OHIP problem.
Mr. Haggerty: Some embarrassing moments, though.
Mr. Cureatz: The last thing I’d like to touch on is something that the member for Oshawa alluded to. I must disagree totally with his view of private members’ bills. He very blatantly accused the government party of blocking en masse various members’ attempts to bring forward private members’ legislation.
Mr. Bradley: Never, never.
Mr. Cureatz: I want to stress to the members of this House that, in all justification, when you take a look at some of those private members’ bills there is no way, no way at all, that those bills are a true reflection of the private member. In many cases not only do they border on being monetary bills, but they also border on being a kind of overall policy that the party is trying to reflect through a private member.
Personally, I’m very disgusted with that kind of approach because I think we’re eroding :the whole attitude of a private member. As I said last Thursday to the member for Huron-Middlesex (Mr. Riddell) who brought forward what I think was a very valid private member’s bill in regard to predator control, I think those are the kinds of aspects the private members should be alluding to, not the kind of thing that many times happens -- and I must confess the odd time on this side of the House as well -- an attempt to get across a general policy of a party, to get it into the public view and draw attention to it.
What is taking place, it seems to me, is a true erosion of the intent of the private member. Suddenly the private member is being put in the position of attempting to represent his party’s policy. When he’s under that kind of pressure, there’s a great reluctance to try to get across the particular ideas or the particular complaints that he would like to bring forward to the Legislature.
I do hope sincerely that those members in the House listening to my choice words of wisdom will keep them in the back of their minds when a member brings his resolution or private member’s bill forward to caucus be so kind as to ask him if he really, sincerely believes that this is an extension of his belief of what he would like to try to do personally, or if indeed he’s trying to reflect his own party’s policy.
Mr. Eakins: Should the government pigeon-hole them after second reading?
Mr. Haggerty: I’d like to see some third readings of those bills.
Mr. Cureatz: The odd time that I have had the opportunity to speak with some of my own members in caucus, I have mentioned to them the kinds of things that I think would be more appropriate for a private member’s bill than the kinds of resolutions and bills that have been brought forward.
With those remarks, I’d like to terminate my few words in regard to the budgetary policy of my party, the government of Ontario. I’m very pleased to see that the member for St. Catharines made it on time so that he may carry on the debate.
Mr. Eakins: He wouldn’t miss it for anything.
Mr. Acting Speaker: The hon. member for St. Catharines. I hope you all pay attention.
Mr. Bradley: I am very impressed with the large delegation of members of the Legislative Assembly we have here this evening. I see that the galleries are filled for this, my first speech on this budget.
Mr. Johnson: Is this for Hansard?
Mr. Bradley: I notice that the Niagara Peninsula is well represented, however, as I expected it would be and as it always is here in the Legislature.
As the previous speaker has indicated, I am from the constituency of St. Catharines and I would be remiss if I didn’t at the very beginning of my speech mention the fact that it somehow must seem strange for the members across the floor to be looking at the riding known as St. Catharines and not finding a Progressive Conservative member sitting in that riding. If my memory is correct, the last time a Liberal was elected in that riding was before the Second World War, in the late 1930s. Of course, we have taken just a little extra time to return a Liberal member and the redrawing of the boundaries of course didn’t hurt as well.
Mr. Hall: Bob Johnston never wasted much time sitting.
Mr. Bradley: We have in the riding a very good mixture, a very good cross-section of the population of the province. As most members are aware, we base our economy predominantly on auto parts manufacturing in the constituency of St. Catharines. So whenever there is an issue which arises that affects the auto pact in Canada or matters related to the auto industry, I think there are those of us in the peninsula, and particularly in St. Catharines, who take extra interest.
I would also like to mention the kind of campaign conducted in my riding because I think it is worth doing this. The campaign in the constituency of St. Catharines by the candidates who stood, I think, was definitely an example for the province to follow. I was confronted with excellent candidates from the other parties. Mrs. Eleanor Lancaster, the Progressive Conservative candidate, came from a very prominent family in the city of St. Catharines. Certainly she is a very talented, well-educated individual who conducted a very excellent campaign on a very high plateau.
Representing the New Democratic Party was Mr. Fred Dickson who, as I was at one time, was a teacher and also involved in the upper echelons of the United Auto Workers Credit Union. Mr. Dickson had run in previous campaigns and again he ran a very positive type of campaign sticking to the issues, avoiding the kind of personal mud slinging that does exist in some campaigns. Again, I think it is to the credit of both those candidates that it was a well conducted campaign, and a very close campaign as well in many respects.
Even the Communist candidate, Mr. Eric Blair, was rather a moderate for a Communist -- a small businessman, believe it or not. All of us were going across the constituency claiming to be the party of small business, even the Communist candidate.
I would also thank the Lincoln County Board of Education, which was kind enough to grant me a leave of absence just in case something unfortunate happened somewhere along the line and I wasn’t returned as the member for St. Catharines. This was done almost with unanimous consent. I understand there were a couple of members of the board of education with Progressive Conservative leanings who decided that this kind of policy deserved investigation when I was the person to be the recipient of it. However, I must say the board was very kind in granting that. I think this is good because it allows those of us who wish to participate in public life that opportunity with some degree of security.
I suppose we all are asked what motivates us to get into political life. I must say I am not from a political family; I don’t come from a long line of senators or members of the Legislature or members prominent in the community in terms of political representation. I come from what one would call a working class family. I suppose that part of the reason I am involved in political life, or was very interested at a very young age, were the circumstances which my own family went through.
I had a hard time listening to the member for London South (Mr. Walker) at one time when he was standing up to defend International Nickel. It seems rather interesting to see that there is a repetition of what often happens in the nickel mining industry. I thought of this when the member for Quinte, (Mr. O’Neil) our labour critic in the Liberal Party, introduced a bill which would require corporations to provide a longer period of time to forewarn their employees of layoffs.
My own father worked at a plant called Smith and Travers in the city of Sudbury, which was subsequently taken over by International Nickel. If we think that 16 weeks is a short time to know about an impending layoff, I would say in that particular case my father was given one week’s notice and about two weeks’ severance pay after 22 years of service to the company. This has probably motivated me as much as anything to become involved in politics, to ensure that that kind of treatment by a corporation of an employee who has been a good employee over the years does not continue.
Interestingly enough, and the members across the floor would perhaps flinch a bit at this, I had the opportunity as a young person to participate in a Progressive Conservative public speaking contest. The topic was Sir John A. Macdonald and the prize was some very fancy scroll and $50 as well. I was fortunate enough at that time to win that and I still find rather an honour to have somewhere on a wall -- I think it is down in the basement -- a plaque which says winner of the Progressive Conservative association public speaking contest. I must say I did make sure that I directed the $50 to the coffers of the Liberal Party so that I could maintain credibility with those members.
Mr. Ashe: What an oddball!
Mr. Johnson: Shame.
Mr. Bradley: As well, to give more credit to the Progressive Conservative Party, because in these days when they are receiving so much criticism they require it, I would also say that the member for Brook (Mr. Welch), the Minister of Culture and Recreation and government House leader, was to a certain extent instrumental in furthering my interest in the political scene.
I was invited by him to attend the nomination meeting at which he was nominated to represent the then constituency of Lincoln which took in the city of St. Catharines and surrounding area. It was held at Prudhomme’s, which at one time had a large hall before one of its several fires. There was a large delegation of people there. I could have voted at that convention -- those were the rules at that time -- even though under age and certainly not a Progressive Conservative by any means.
I think it is indicative of the kind of interest that the present member for Brock has shown in young people, and all people in St. Catharines and district, that he was kind enough to invite me. He might have had certain ulterior motives, hoping to persuade me to cross the floor so to speak; but I am certain that his motives were very high and that over the years he has encouraged many people to become involved in political life. This perhaps is an indication of why he is returned with rather substantial pluralities in the riding in which he resides and which he represents.
To zero in on perhaps some of the problems that exist -- and I don’t like to dwell overly on the problems, even though I think that is why we in opposition are here -- the problem of unemployment is the one which tends to concern all members of the House most of all, particularly unemployment among the young people in this province and in this country. Among them are those who have acquired a reasonable education and who were led to believe that that education would provide them with some kinds of reasonable job opportunities, and those as well who have not been able to acquire an education and find themselves relatively unskilled and uneducated and facing a difficult employment situation.
I am somewhat perturbed by the fact that the present Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) -- and he is not alone in this as there are others across the country who have the same opinion -- seems to be approaching the current problem of unemployment and recession, if we can say we are in a modest type of recession, with the Herbert Hoover attitude or the R. B. Bennett attitude that if you keep cutting things left and right somehow, if you leave everything to the private sector suddenly, all these jobs are going to appear. I think I would be irresponsible if I suggested there wasn’t room for at least some cuts in government expenditures. In our alternatives presented on the OHIP situation we suggested some areas where we felt there might be a possibility of cuts, but there are areas where government expenditures would be very useful as well and would assist ns.
In the Niagara Peninsula, the unemployment rate is said to be at the present time 13.2 per cent, which must place it as the highest in the province of Ontario and certainly one of the highest in Canada. The member for Durham East (Mr. Cureatz) indicated he was very happy that the provincial government had intended to channel its emphasis on industrial development and other types of development to the east of Toronto. It is a matter of concern to me as a representative of one of the ridings in the Niagara Peninsula that, as a result of this policy, which was genuinely designed to assist points east of Toronto, the Niagara Peninsula has been left behind, particularly the south end of the Niagara Peninsula, in places such as Fort Erie, Port Colborne and Welland which face rather high levels of unemployment. Just as federally and provincially we may use these economic tools to channel growth in a specific area to create jobs in a specific area, on the other hand we must be careful that we do not encourage industries to move from other areas of the province.
Another of our problems is we’ve always been considered to be, in the Niagara Peninsula, a part of the golden horseshoe, which supposedly extends somewhere from Oshawa around to Niagara-on-the-Lake. Unfortunately, the golden horseshoe in recent years hasn’t extended that far and we have paid the price for this. At one time we were able to offer cheap power rates, cheap water rates, cheap transportation rates, attractive land assembly. At the present time, without the kind of federal and provincial assistance I feel is required, we will not be able to have that kind of industrial and, more important perhaps, institutional development on a selective basis.
We talk about buying Canadian and this reminds me; I often hear politicians get up and talk about buying Canadian, particularly in an auto industry city such as the city of St. Catharines, and then you see those same politicians driving cars which are made in another country. I don’t know whether we get a pat on the back or not for doing this, but I have always felt that since the taxpayer of the city of St. Catharines pays my --
Mr. Bounsall: What does your leader drive?
Mr. Bradley: Well, I will tell you some stories now, Mr. Speaker, because the member for Windsor-Sandwich has interjected. I will tell you a story about the 1971 campaign I was involved in.
The New Democratic Party candidate later became, I believe, a deputy minister in Manitoba when they took all the socialists from Ontario.
He was a professor of politics at Brock University, Mr. Marvin Blaner, a very outstanding individual, nevertheless used to drive to the meetings in a 1953 Plymouth so that everybody would think he was poor or one of the common people, so-called. They would see him drive him around and they would say, “Isn’t that nice? He’s one of us. If you drove past his house and looked in the driveway you might just find -- I won’t say this for sure -- you might just find a couple of foreign-made cars sitting at that place.
Mr. Bounsall: His spouse’s cars.
Mr. Bradley: And he was very, very concerned about the auto industry. I think to express this concern about the auto industry, as the member for Windsor-Sandwich does and as I do, we have to he concerned ensugh to purchase products which are made in Canada. I’m sure the member for Windsor-Sandwich and I keep that in mind.
Mr. Bounsall: What about your leader?
Mr. Bradley: I should say the response to the budget is not all negative. For instance, in creating employment I thought the youth employment program -- which I know members of the opposition say isn’t perfect, and it isn’t -- is a really positive step in the right direction. We can say we prodded the government into it, they can say they had the initiative; nevertheless. I think it has been useful, particnlarly for small business people to be encouraged to employ young people this year while being subsidized for $1.25 an hour for an extended period of time. This is aiming at the very young people who need this employment experience, or who have to acquire a job in order that they can pay for an education that they hope to get. I think this, and some of the other programs channelled toward the youth of Ontario, have been useful, at least on a short-term basis, and during the summer.
However, I would be remiss if I did not express my great concern about the increase in OHIP premiums proposed by the provincial Treasurer. I’m happy to see that through the process of minority government, through the process of compromise -- and I’m sure from the pressure that existed from some of the backbenchers sitting on the other side of the House, though they may not with to say this publicly I’m sure that they played that role of attempting to prod the cabinet, of attempting to prod the Treasurer, into being more reasonable in this increase. We recognize for those people -- and I think of my barber, for instance, the last time I got a haircut he mentioned this, and this is a good example; he is a fellow who doesn’t have anything covered -- he doesn’t own the barber shop, he doesn’t have it covered -- he told me as a single individual he just dropped his OHIP because the rate was rather high. Now, being a married man with a child, he felt that he had to retain it and just had to put up with the increase.
I think it’s important expenditure, and I’m sure that he feels that it’s a vital expenditure, but when he looks down the street to his neighbours who are in a favourable position where, for instance if they work for General Motors their premiums are paid, he does feel a little bit hard done by, and yet his own income is such that he would not qualify for the assistance that the Premier indicated was available in the first place and which has been sweetened, so to speak, since then.
It’s people such as this individual, it’s the municipalities -- and I remember that the board of education would have to pay an extra $225,000 a year; the Regional Municipality of Niagara $170,000 a year; the city of St. Catharines $77,000 and so on; and we would see this increase passed on to the property taxpayer, a tax which many people would consider to be somewhat of a regressive tax. This is unfortunate and what I call fighting the deficit on the backs of the municipalities in an indirect manner.
I would say also, in speaking of assisting towards employment, that the small business bill that was introduced by the member for Victoria-Haliburton (Mr. Eakins) went a long way -- even though it had some criticism from the dinosaurs who exist in a certain organization in the province of Ontario -- it was a step in the right direction towards fostering small business. There are a lot of small businessmen and women who sit in this particular House, or are from families who have small businesses. They recognize the importance of giving them an opportunity to participate in government contracts, even if it means some tampering with the free enterprise system. After all there is intervention in the economy; it shouldn’t be there too often, but there are times when we want viable businesses where we have to have that.
I congratulate the member for Victoria-Haliburton for seizing this initiative, and I find it unfortunate that the right wing of the Progressive Conservative Party, better known as the Chamber of Commerce, has seen fit to be so very critical of it, at least some of the members of the Chamber of Commerce. I would hope that with the amendments that have been made that they would see fit as well to join in the applause for it.
I look, as a former municipal politician for seven and a half or eight years, upon the -- what can we call it, the fandangling; I suppose that’s not a parliamentary word -- upon the actions of the provincial Treasurer in redefining, I call it reneging upon, hut redefining the Edmonton commitment in which this province indicated that it would transfer to municipalities an amount in grants growing each year equal to the growth in the revenues of the provincial government. Of course municipalities hailed this. I think there are many who served in municipal government who thought that was an excellent step and, if lived up to, could certainly assist municipalities in keeping down property taxes and yet providing the essential services at least. Unfortunately, we’ve seen a reneging on this particular commitment, and now again we find the municipalities being forced to cut back sometimes essential services -- not always, hut sometimes essential services -- and being forced to raise the regressive property tax and other fees that they might charge. I referred before to balancing the budget on the backs of municipalities, and I would hope that the Treasurer would not adopt holus-bolus the recommendations of Maxwell Henderson in regard to how he can save money by passing it on to his neighbours in a municipality.
As a member for a municipality that is very adversely affected by the present formula used to calculate the resource equalization grant in Ontario I can only hope that the Treasurer will see fit to provide some transitional grants.
We recognize that market value assessment is just around the corner, as it has been for the last six or seven years, but it appears to be somewhat close to being implemented. This will alleviate to a certain extent the problem of the unfair formula used to calculate the resource equalization grant, but I still hope that in his meeting with the mayor and other officials of the city of St. Catharines the Treasurer will see fit to provide, not only to St. Catharines but also to Windsor, to Sarnia and to a few of the other municipalities that are very much adversely affected by the formula used to calculate the resource equalization grant, a transitional benefit for this particular year and any ensuing year before market value assessment is actually implemented. For St. Catharines, it has meant a loss of $1.2 million a year for the past five years, a loss which is certainly not a small one.
We in this Legislature also have an opportunity -- and I think the government deserves some congratulation on the progress it has made in this area over the years -- for assisting senior citizens. The property tax credit system, which by no means is perfect at the present time and by no means alleviates all the problems, was a definite progressive step towards assisting those senior citizens who are genuinely in need. There are many senior citizens who are still in a very difficult position, and we should be exploring other ways of assisting those people, particularly to assist them to stay in theft own homes.
The onus can also be placed on municipalities. Again, as a municipal councillor, I recall resolutions coming through constantly -- there are certain municipalities that seem to generate more than others, as others who have been in municipal councils will recognize -- which would say that the provincial government should be assisting senior citizens. But when the provincial government gave municipalities the opportunity to make grants to senior citizens, to assist them with their taxes, some of them weren’t so quick to dole out theft own municipal money to senior citizens who would be receiving the guaranteed annual income supplement and those who were genuinely in need and who met the qualifications. When it came down to putting municipal money on the line, they weren’t so quick to do so. Therefore, I think those municipalities don’t have the same right to criticize the province as those municipalities such as the city of St. Catharines, which now pays $65 towards the taxes for senior citizens in that category.
I think we have to be careful. It has been brought to my attention that there is some problem with the recreation centres grants. The Treasurer suggested that perhaps this could be changed. But there are many people, particularly in the parks and recreation departments of various municipalities, who are concerned that if this grant is changed or removed, the money that might be available for senior citizens’ centres might not be there in the future as it has been in the past. We recognize now, surely, in the year 1978 -- and we have for some time -- that when a person turns 65, we don’t just put them out to pasture and sit them in a rocking chair. Just as we do for young people, we have to provide facilities for our senior citizens.
It’s also excellent that we now pay for the drugs and the Ontario Hospital Insurance Plan premiums for senior citizens. Certainly it was a step that took some time but, nevertheless, it assisted our senior citizens regardless of theft income.
They remain victims of inflation. The Treasurer has indicated that when we have market value assessment implemented, he feels we will be able to further assist them by making a more lucrative tax credit program for senior citizens. I think we all in this House look forward to that with anticipation and hope it is brought about expeditiously.
Mr. Warner: You are quite a government apologist. It’s no wonder the Tories can leave the House at night.
Mr. Bradley: I just like to be constructive in my criticism as well as destructive.
Mr. Ruston: How many NDP members are here?
Ms. Warner: One New Democrat is worth 10 little Liberals any time.
Mr. Roy: We have twice as many members here as you have.
Mr. Bradley: I will be critical now just to please the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere.
Mr. Warner: Oh, don’t do that.
Mr. Hall: It is pretty hard to please him.
Mr. Ruston: If you do that for the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere, he’ll probably resign.
Mr. Bradley: I will be critical in one particular aspect, that is, in the licence-plate fee increase. All the people of Ontario who own automobiles, regardless of theft income, are forced to pay substantially more, except if they happen to live in northern Ontario.
Ms. Hall: Isn’t he in part of that territory?
Mr. Bradley: I thought this was fine until such time as I saw that the riding of Parry Sound happened to be included in northern Ontario for these purposes.
Mr. Eakins: They conveniently moved it up.
Mr. Bradley: This is not to cast bad feelings towards the people who reside in Parry Sound who are deserving of all the assistance they can get.
Mr. Hall: He is a cabinet minister.
Ms. Bradley: But it does suggest to me that perhaps there was some political consideration in the drawing of that line, and that this isn’t necessarily the best way of assisting the people who live in the north.
Ms. Eakins: I think Ed Fisher had something to do with that.
Mr. Ashe: It will be Steeles Avenue next year.
Ms. Bradley: I am going to move into another area as well which has to do with the economic policy in this province. It is one which I have talked about many times, particularly to service clubs, that is, the system of government lotteries, specifically in this province Wintario and the Provincial, but I could apply this federally as well. I look upon government lotteries with a lot less enthusiasm than some members do. I recognize it is great at election time to go down and say, “Here’s a Wintario grant.”
Mr. Ashe: You were going to use them for health care.
Mr. Warner: Yes. Health care by lucky draw.
Mr. Bradley: It sounds very good that that does exist. We know it is a rather sure form of deriving funds for the province of Ontario. We have it, and I suppose we are saddled with it now. I mentioned the federal lottery as well in this regard.
It seems to me that lotteries are having an effect on service organizations. I belong to a service club that received a Wintario grant -- not with my particular applause -- on the basis that everybody else is getting one, so why shouldn’t we get our hand in the till as well?” And it is legitimate of course.
What I am concerned about here is the volunteer system. I would think some of the members of the Progressive Conservative Party would be concerned in this regard as well because I know they are believers in the volunteer system in our society. In some service clubs, the older members always appreciate it -- the younger members don’t really care -- when one says to them: “The very purpose of your service club or service organization was to raise funds. You could proudly say at the end: We raised a full $100,000 to put the addition on a building or something of that nature’.” Go to a business meeting of any service organization now and the number one discussion is: “How can we get a Wintario grant?”
I remember raising this point at a business meeting where I was about as successful there as I was in the Legislature in persuading the people concerned. They said: “No, we’ve got to get in on it. Bradley, you are crazy and you should take advantage of this system. It’s great.” I look at members who had been in that club for 15 and 20 years who used to go out and raise all their own funds. And now here they are saying: “How can we get Wintario grants to put an addition on the building?”
Mr. Ashe: Everybody wins with Wintario.
Mr. Bradley: That’s the attitude they were adopting. It’s very hard to fight that attitude. I think we all recognize that.
Ms. Bounsall: It is corrupting the morals.
Ms. Bradley: There is another aspect of it I would look at that discourages me. As a teacher I used to go into the staff room to sell tickets. I would go in with tickets from the service organization I belonged to -- they would be 25 cents each or five for $1 -- and the teachers would buy them. There would be a $50 prize or something like that, not $100,000.
Then along came Wintario, and one of the members of the staff, who sold Wintario tickets just to make money and not for any service organization, would walk in and sell those. When I would walk in with my tickets, one would think the plague had just walked in. Nobody wanted to buy the tickets; they all scurried out. But in came the guy with the Wintario tickets and one would think he had just come in with a pot of gold. “Give me five, give me 10,” they would say. The money would be coming out of the wallet to get those particular tickets.
Sure, it’s attractive because the prize is bigger. The prize at $100,000 is very much bigger.
Mr. Hall: It is morally corrupting.
Mr. Bradley: What it is doing is competing with those who are trying to raise funds, and that is what concerns me very much about that. I believe, since we have these funds and since Wintario is there, we should be using part of those funds for some essential services. The member for Scarborough-Ellesmere rightly says that you shouldn’t always rely on all of your services or some essential services for the funds from Wintario. I do think, however, that a certain percentage of those funds should be devoted to uses other than culture and recreation. If we look at some of the grants that are made we would certainly have to agree with that. This is why I would have supported -- at least this year and possibly into the future -- using a percentage of the funds to assist with health care costs.
Mr. Warner: Oh, and then next year.
Mr. Bradley: Possibly into the future.
Mr. Roy: No. We are flexible on that.
Mr. Warner: You don’t know exactly what you want.
Mr. Bradley: We know exactly what we want.
An hon. member: Oh, yes? Tell us.
Mr. Roy: We wanted to tax the corporations and you didn’t allow it.
Mr. Bradley: Looking at further spending that takes place in this province, we have spending in the field of education. At the present time, education is under attack by many people. The Minister of Education (Mr. Wells) has to justify his budget. The people who no longer have children in the schools are saying, “Why should I contribute to this budget? We find the whole system under attack.
Yet we forget, I suppose, that today, 1978, the school system is asked to do far more than it used to be. It is no longer -- if it ever was -- just a place where you go for academic study and to acquire knowledge and to become wise. It is now a place where a lot of social services take place: guidance services which previously came from the home; other types of assistance that we provide within the school system that would have been social and economic in the past. They would have come from other ministries, but are now administered by the school. We have to take this into consideration. Also, the recreational aspect because we expect schools to be very strong in their sporting activities.
We also have criticism that the school system is becoming soft -- that somehow there should be more harsh discipline. The director of education for the Lincoln County Board of Education whose political affiliation is well known -- and it’s not mine -- has used this phrase to describe that. I think it’s apropos. He says it’s very difficult to run a hard school system in a soft society and suggests those who are very critical of the school system should look in the home to see how strong the discipline is there, to look at society as a whole to see how strong the discipline is there, before making their criticisms.
I must say in this regard that I noticed, sitting in the Legislature, there are many difficulties involved in the economics of education when we have teachers who wish to go on strike -- when we have disputes taking place. I must say that again the Lincoln County Board of Education probably serves as an excellent example of a very enlightened board. Never has there been a threat of a strike, never has there been even a threat or a hint of a showdown in Lincoln county. The relationship between the board of education and the teaching profession and the other employees has always been an excellent one. I think that’s based on trust on both sides. I think that’s based on enlightened leadership over the years, understanding and co-operation. This could be extended right across the province. We would save ourselves a lot of money and a lot of problems if we were to have that example followed right across this province.
I look also at the issue of saving agricultural land in this province. I had an opportunity to speak in this Legislature on a bill presented by the member for Welland-Thorold (Mr. Swart). similar to a bill presented by the member for Dufferin-Simcoe (Mr. McCague), which calls for the retention of agricultural land.
Mr. Warner: Tories blocked it.
Mr. Bradley: Those in this Legislature who represent those areas that have a lot of agricultural land, of course, came forward very quickly and said that if you have to save agricultural land you also have to make a lucrative, or at least a reasonable business for a farmer if you realistically expect him to do that. I would hope this Legislature, in its budgetary policy and in its other policies, would address itself to the problem and the concern for retaining agricultural land for agricultural purposes.
In the last portion of this budget debate -- I suppose any of the speeches that are made in the Legislature -- we reflect upon the problem of unity, even though we happen to be provincial representatives. I listen to a lot of people who say how rudely or how ignorantly they’re treated when they visit Quebec.
I’m not a bilingual individual, by any means. My high school French barely gets me by with my, “Je suis désolé, mais je ne parle pas français avec perfection,” and then I can’t go beyond that.
Mr. Roy: Did you get that, Hansard? I will give a translation after.
Mr. Bradley: But I’ve still been treated very kindly by the people of the province of Quebec, whether it be in Montreal or the smaller towns, and I find that there’s very little talk of separatism among those people. There is an outreach towards those of us who are Canadians on a Canadian basis. This is not to suggest there aren’t problems, but it does suggest that perhaps they’re exaggerated.
I do feel as well that we must look to the Premier of Ontario (Mr. Davis), to the leader of the official opposition (Mr. S. Smith), to the leader of the third party (Mr. Cassidy) and to all members of the House to show leadership in this regard. I find it very concerning when the negativism, when the voices of racism, latent though they may be, are able to speak out and be heard. They get on the hot-line shows, they write letters to the editor, they even get to speak to service clubs and other organizations, some of them even manage to find their way into the legislatures across the provinces.
I find it very concerning when these are the strident voices that are heard, not only in this province or in other provinces that are not the province of Quebec, hut certainly in the province of Quebec itself where there is an anti-English feeling among some of the members of that particular legislature. What we require, it seems to me, is all of us who consider ourselves to be voices of reason to speak out on this issue, to counteract the kind of venom that comes forth from the mouths of those who seem to always be constantly consumed with finding something wrong in another race or a person of another ethnic origin.
I think we need that leadership from all members of the Legislature in this regard.
Mr. Bounsall: All -- all members.
Mr. Bradley: Yes, I would concede that this is the case. This is one area where we have everybody in the Legislature working together, I believe, or should have everybody in the Legislature working together.
Mr. Speaker, as we approach 10:30 I would say as I conclude that I look forward in the future to participating in debates which will deal with what I consider to be the number one problem in the Niagara Peninsula as far as our residents are concerned, and that is regional government and its great unpopularity. Certainly it’s the reason the member for Brock (Mr. Welch) is the only government member in the Niagara Peninsula. If one looked to regional government one would find out why. The member for Brock being a very humane and well-liked individual, a man of integrity, he is able to withstand the kind of criticism that has been directed to others from his party in the peninsula and therefore is able to retain the seat on his own merit, rather than as being a member of the governing party.
I would hope all of us in this province would be working towards a province where the honest, hard-working and law-abiding individual is the individual who will be rewarded. I certainly pledge myself to working towards that end and I know that all members of this Legislature have that in mind in their deliberations.
On motion by Mr. Bounsall, the debate was adjourned.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Brunelle, the House adjourned at 10:28 p.m.