The House met at 2 p.m.
STATEMENT BY THE MINISTRY
Hon. Mr. Snow: Earlier in the session, I introduced Bills 21 and 41, amendments to the --
Mr. S. Smith: You haven’t changed your mind have you?
Mr. Nixon: Are you backing down on any of that stuff?
Hon. Mr. Snow: We have a few changes, yes. They involved amendments to the Public Commercial Vehicles Act, with the intention of responding to the recommendations of: one, the select committee on the highway transportation of goods; and, two, the policies contained in the Speech from the Throne, including the desire to simplify trucking rules and regulations, restrain government spending, stimulate the economy, conserve energy and develop policy for transmission to the Ontario Highway Transport Board; a policy which will provide an effectively regulated highway transportation service for Ontario’s shippers.
In line with the select committee recommendations, the important sections of the bills dealt with the increased penalties for violations of the Act; shipper responsibility to prevent collusion between shipper and carrier to carry on unlicensed highway transportation; transmission of policy for implementation by the OHTB; and strengthening investigation and enforcement procedures for more effective enforcement of unlicensed trucking operations.
Mr. Nixon: However.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Bill 21, also contained provisions directed primarily at the agriculture, lumber and construction industries, in that they exempted specific commodities from licensing under the Act. Such provisions would have provided more flexibility in the availability of trucking services to these industries, part of which is of a significant local or short-haul nature, as well as providing truckers with better opportunities for backhauls.
Mr. S. Smith: Are all the bills on the order paper trial balloons?
Hon. Mr. Snow: The exemption of agricultural commodities was also considered essential to the advancement of reciprocal licensing arrangement with US jurisdictions.
Bill 21 also introduced a new category of PCV licence with respect to the expanding urban and commercial areas, providing for licensing similar to municipal cartage licensing without proof of public necessity and convenience before the OHTB.
Of course, first reading of the bill provided an early opportunity for public reaction.
Mr. S. Smith: That’s for sure.
Hon. Mr. Snow: With that in mind, I have since met with a large number of trucker and shipper interests.
Mr. Bradley: So have we.
Hon. Mr. Snow: My interpretation of the public reaction to the legislation is that there is no strong opposition to the major portion of the legislation, but there is opposition to some of the commodities exempted and the proposed regional municipal operating licence system.
Therefore, to respond to this opposition, while at the same time ensuring the passage of the major part of the legislation which is supported by select committee recommendations, I propose to allow Bills 21 and 41 to die on the order paper.
Mr. Kerrio: Surprise.
An hon. member: Retreat.
Hon. Mr. Snow: In their place, I will today introduce a combined bill, a bill which will include all sections of Bills 21 and 41, with two exceptions.
First, I am reducing the list of exempted commodities to those which represent the strongest immediate concerns of shippers and consumers. That is garbage, lumber, fresh fruit and vegetables, and other agricultural commodities.
Second, I am deleting those sections of Bill 21 pertaining to the issuance of a PCV licence for a regional municipal area. I am altering the proposed regional operating licence to require proof of public necessity and convenience. Authority is available in the existing statute. Of course, with this change, there will be no delegation of licence-issuing powers to the regional municipality.
Mr. Swart: Minority government works again.
EMPLOYEES HEALTH AND SAFETY
Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I could rise on a point of personal privilege?
Mr. Deans: Careful. The last one got you in an awful mess.
Mr. Riddell: Going through my weekly papers over the weekend, I spotted a press release that was put out by the member for Middlesex (Mr. Eaton), and it pertained to Bill 70, The Occupational Health and Safety Act. In the release he indicated that the Liberal Party -- and he made personal reference to me throughout his release -- after helping the NDP put through the amendment is now proposing a further amendment which would exclude only agriculture. “Jack Riddell, the Liberal agricultural critic, has gone around saying that the NDP and Conservatives won’t support his amendment and are causing agriculture to come under the bill.”
Mr. Speaker, this is completely erroneous.
Mr. McClellan: Why don’t you just flip-flop and get it over with?
Mr. Eaton: It is right on, just right on.
Mr. Riddell: When the bill was before the committee the Liberals proposed an amendment at that time.
Mr. Yakabuski: Right on, Jack.
An hon. member: No conscience over there.
Mr. Riddell: The amendment read: “Notwithstanding subsection 1 this Act does not apply to farms unless designated generally or specifically by regulation.”
That amendment was put in by the committee. It is not that I am going around the country proposing amendments, it has already been proposed; and it was turned down by all the Tories on the committee, including the member for Middlesex.
Mr. Nixon: That’s right.
Mr. S. Smith: That’s right.
Mr. Riddell: And it was turned down by all the members of the NDP who were on that committee.
The release also goes on to say: “To play games with the interests of agriculture by pretending that he” -- the “he” is referring to me -- “is the one trying to get agriculture exempted is completely irresponsible on Mr. Riddell’s part.”
Mr. Eakins: A cheap shot.
Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, I am going to tell you that the Minister of Labour (B. Stephenson), along with her supporters over there, including the member for Middlesex, appear to be holding farmers of this province as hostages. They know that farmers shouldn’t be covered but they won’t allow them to be excluded unless the minister gets her way with other aspects of Bill 70 that are completely unrelated.
Hon. B. Stephenson: Come off it, you have done it all the way along.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The hon. member rose on a point of privilege.
An hon. member: He is not finished.
Mr. Speaker: Just a moment. In rising to speak to your point of privilege you can do so to correct the record. You are referring to something that was said outside of this House. It is something over which this House, or indeed any presiding officer of this House, has no jurisdiction at all. You may rise on a point of privilege for purposes of correcting the record and not for getting involved in a political or a partisan discussion.
Mr. Eaton: Jack, it was right on.
Mr. Riddell: Mr. Speaker, if I could just end up correcting the record then.
Mr. Deans: The record is not incorrect.
Hon. Mr. Henderson: You are in trouble, Jack; on the defence.
Mr. Deans: Quiet, he might sue you.
Mr. Riddell: Despite what the member for Middlesex has widely publicized across the province, I know and the Liberal Party knows exactly where we stand with respect to the farming community. It is just too bad that the member does not.
Mr. Peterson: Apologize, you weasel.
An hon. member: Or go home.
Mr. Eaton: The truth hurts you.
Mr. Eakins: Stand up and deny it.
Mr. Mancini: That’s why you are not in the cabinet and never will be.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, while we are in the process of correcting press articles this afternoon, on a point of privilege, in this morning’s Globe and Mail, in an article by Miss Barbara Yaffe on page 12, the statement is made that “Mr. Snow did not return two telephone calls to his office yesterday afternoon.” I point out, Mr. Speaker, that I did return the call from Miss Yaffe at 6:30 when I received it yesterday afternoon and she was not available.
Mr. T. P. Reid: If we keep correcting her we’re not going to get anything else done around here.
URBAN TRANSPORTATION DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION
Mr. S. Smith: I would like to ask my first question of the Minister of Transportation and Communications. I wonder whether the minister was quoted correctly in this morning’s Toronto Sun, where he is alleged to have said: “UTDC is not for sale. Canadair has made inquiries, they have indicated an interest; but no, there are no negotiations of that nature going on, not at this moment”? Was he quoted correctly in that regard? If so, can he therefore explain the comments of the head of public relations for UTDC, who is quoted in the same article as saying: “The part we are negotiating ... we have been going at it about four to six weeks and both corporations have been advised to acknowledge the process is ongoing”? Can he say which of those statements is correct, if either?
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I think I was reasonably well quoted in the article and I think both statements, to my knowledge, are reasonably correct.
Mr. Swart: Even though they are contradictory?
Hon. Mr. Snow: There have been no negotiations carried on between myself and Canadair or between any of my colleagues in cabinet or any of the staff of my ministry. We have not had negotiations with Canadair. I do understand that the senior management of Canadair has made it known that Canadair would be interested in purchasing UTDC as a going concern and making it a subsidiary, I presume, of Canadair.
Mr. Breithaupt: It’s not much of a going concern for a dollar.
Hon. Mr. Snow: This has been made known to the management of UTDC and I have been advised of this show of interest by Canadair. I have not carried on any further negotiations or any detailed negotiations and I have not recommended to my colleagues that a sale be considered.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, is the minister now saying that when he said “UTDC is not for sale. There are no negotiations of that nature going on,” he merely meant to indicate that Canadair was not negotiating with him or the cabinet, and that he always knew that such negotiations were going on between UTDC and Canadair directly? Is that what he is trying to tell the House? When he rises to answer that would he also comment on the suggestion that has been made that the price of the part of UTDC that might be purchased by Canadair might be $1? How would that affect the $20 million which the government is planning to put into UTDC this year? Will that have some effect on that?
Hon. Mr. Snow: I wish the hon. member would deal with one question at a time. First of all, Mr. Speaker, I have been aware for about two months that Canadair had shown an interest or had advised senior management of UTDC of an interest. To my knowledge, the management of UTDC is not in a position to negotiate with anyone for the sale of UTDC. I, as Minister of Transportation and Communications, am the only shareholder of UTDC, and I hold all the common shares of UTDC in trust for the Queen in right of Ontario. It would be my thought that if any serious negotiations were to take place, or any negotiations that could be considered negotiations, the negotiations would have to be between the purchaser and the owner, not the purchaser and representatives of the asset.
With regard to the second part of the question, the suggestion that the sale price might be $1 is ridiculous. I don’t know where that information comes from at all.
Mr. Breithaupt: At least $1.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Secondly, the research project that is being carried out by UTDC on behalf of the government of Ontario in new transit technology presumably would carry on to its completion regardless of whether the corporation was sold or not. But at this moment it is not my intention to recommend to my colleagues in cabinet that we consider a sale.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: In view of the disastrous flop of the Krauss-Maffei system, which was an intermediate-capacity system sponsored by the government; and in view of the fact that the government is pouring millions of dollars more into intermediate-capacity transit systems through UTDC to rescue the Premier’s (Mr. Davis) reputation as Transit Man of the Year, can we have a commitment from the minister that the government will stop putting its money into that particular folie de grandeur and get on with the job of simply providing basic surface transportation that is usable in the province of Ontario, without the wastage of such millions of dollars?
Hon. Mr. Snow: I don’t have my dictionary handy to understand exactly what some of those words were.
Mr. Deans: I understood it, and I don’t even speak French.
An hon. member: It means “boondoggle.”
Hon. Mr. Snow: First of all, I would have to tell the hon. member that UTDC has carried out a very successful project in the development of new light rail vehicles for surface transportation, some of which are now in the hands of the TTC.
Mr. Makarchuk: You’ve reinvented the streetcar.
Mr. McClellan: They’re called streetcars.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I might say they are vehicles that the TTC, UTDC and myself are very proud of. We think they will be a substantial contribution to light rail transit in this province --
Mr. McClellan: Come on downtown and I’ll show you a streetcar.
Mr. Makarchuk: You figure the wheel has a great future, don’t you?
Hon. Mr. Snow: -- and have quite good possibilities as an export commodity to be manufactured within Ontario and to make jobs for a lot of very excellent tradesmen in Thunder Bay.
As for the suggestion that we should put any kind of a halt on the development of the intermediate-capacity transit system, I would just say no, I am not prepared to consider that. The program is going ahead very well, and the new transit development facility at Kingston is developing very well. It is something that will be a landmark in North America for the testing of new transit technology.
Many times I hear members across the floor suggesting to my colleague the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough) that we should be putting more money into research and development of new technology in Ontario. This happens to be a philosophy which I fully support and will continue to support and to administer.
Mr. S. Smith: Forgive me, but I have a two-part supplementary question. The first is, will the minister please produce the audit that is referred to in today’s Toronto Sun article and table it? The second is, in considering the comments of the member for Ottawa Centre, who refers to the program as a boondoggle, a folie de grandeur and so on, has the minister taken into consideration the comments on December 12 by the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Warner) in committee, referring to the very same matter? He said: “The government is doing the kind of thing that a good socialist government would do; that is, to undertake research and development, and to make sure you retain the best kind of people to do the job efficiently and effectively. So you’re on the right track.”
Mr. Deans: Can’t you stop him, Mr. Speaker? That is unfair.
Hon. Mr. Norton: Resign.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Resign.
Mr. Warner: Point of privilege, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mr. Snow: May I say, Mr. Speaker, that I’m somewhat hurt personally to be associated with any philosophy that the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere might support.
Mr. Warner: I am standing.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Developing new transit technology for the use of the one and only, it would appear, customer for transit in this province, that is the government of Ontario and its partner municipalities in the transit field, I think is a proper role for the Ontario government. By the end of this year it will have invested something like half a billion dollars -- that’s $500 million for those not used to those kind of figures -- in the development and promoting of public transit in the province.
Mr. Peterson: The government is a high roller.
Hon. Mr. Snow: We have been very successful in developing one of the finest rail commuter transit systems in the world.
Mr. Sargent: Not up Owen Sound way it isn’t.
Hon. Mr. Snow: We have had people visit our great province -- as you say, Mr. Speaker, representatives from Australia were here last week -- who travelled half way around the world specifically to see and to travel on the GO-Transit system Lakeshore line.
We have developed over the years the technology for the present GO-Transit cars. The new double-decker cars have been totally developed within the province. We have developed, through UTDC, the new light rail vehicle which is now being manufactured in Ontario and we’re well on the way to developing the ICTS system. So I think we on this side of the House and UTDC have something to be very proud of in the accomplishments that we have made in public transportation in Ontario.
Now what was the other question?
Mr. Peterson: The minister should get a medal for all of that.
Hon. Mr. Snow: The audit, yes; I have it here. As soon as I have a chance to read it, because it was handed to me as soon as I came into the House, I will table the one and only copy I’ve got. It’s a two-page document. I’d like to at least look at it before I table it. Is there anything else?
Mr. Deans: That would be novel.
Mr. Sargent: It’s pretty well documented now anyway.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I might I as well answer the question about the Mercedes because I know it’s coming; should I wait for the question, Mr. Speaker?
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Nixon: No, go ahead.
Mr. Warner: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. W. Newman: It’s easy on fuel.
Mr. Warner: Mr. Speaker, surely, if a member of this assembly wishes to quote directly from Hansard, it is incumbent on him to make the entire quote available.
Mr. Yakabuski: What’s the member’s point of privilege?
Mr. Pope: Question.
Mr. Warner: In which case it would be noted that what I said to the minister was that he had taken a good socialist idea but he did not know how to implement it, that’s why the program failed.
Mr. Havrot: The minister doesn’t know how to implement any socialist idea.
Mr. Jones: Thank goodness.
Mr. Warner: I fully understand that. But I have a supplementary to the minister on the very point. Since he is aware of the financial problems and the managerial problems, many of them outlined in the Sun’s story today, why doesn’t he bring the corporation in front of the public accounts committee to deal with this serious matter and let’s find out why the audit wasn’t completed? Let’s find out who was at fault in all of this and get it dealt with properly. When he’s finished, he should get rid of that corporation.
Mr. Conway: Why doesn’t the member resign?
Mr. Warner: Perhaps instead of selling it for a dollar he’ll have to offer a dollar to get it taken off his hands, because he doesn’t know how to operate it properly. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. S. Smith: Ah, listen to that.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I’m having trouble finding the question. I guess the question was why I don’t bring the corporation before the public accounts committee.
First of all, Mr. Speaker, I’m sure you’re aware, although the member may not be, I’m not the chairman of the public accounts committee, and to my knowledge the way that committee operates is that the committee, through its chairman, decides whose accounts they wish to look at. To my knowledge we have not been requested to appear before the corporation.
Mr. T. P. Reid: We will get to them.
Mr. Warner: The government can request them.
Mr. Makarchuk: The government has some of its own members on that committee.
Mr. Warner: The minister can request an appearance and he knows it.
Hon. Mr. Snow: As far as the hon. member’s suggestion that there is financial mismanagement of the corporation, I just say that is not so.
Mr. Cunningham: Mr. Speaker, in a letter dated August 31, signed by the Minister of Transportation and Communications in response to a question by me, he indicated the employees of UTDC were being compensated on an average of $10,000 per year. I wonder if he would tell the House at this time whether that included the Mercedes-Benz or not.
Hon. W. Newman: Jealousy will get you nowhere.
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, obviously I haven’t got that letter in front of me but to say the employees of UTDC are being compensated at the rate of $10,000 a year I would have to say is not correct.
Mr. Cunningham: No, that’s for relocation.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Will the minister not agree that the government has abandoned the principle of magnetic levitation, which was the fundamental part of its first ICTS system, that it is now abandoning the principle of the linear induction motor as being not workable under Canadian conditions, and that by abandoning financial support for municipalities with transit systems it is making it impossible for municipalities to go further into purchase of the ICTS system despite its efforts to put this onto the people of the province of Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, again I guess there are about three questions there. Magnetic levitation is not part of the development of the intermediate capacity transit system; the linear induction motor is. Development of the system is proceeding with the use of the linear induction motor for propulsion and braking. Tests are going along. The new test track is coming along well. I would suggest that if any members of the Legislature want to take a trip to that great area of Kingston, we would be pleased to arrange for them to see the development that is taking place.
With respect to commitment to the municipalities, I am just having a little trouble offhand, but the commitment this government has to municipalities to subsidize the capital development of public transit at a ratio of 75 per cent provincial contribution to 25 per cent municipal has been lived up to. I am not aware of any requests before us at this time for capital contributions that are not being met this year or that were not met last year. In fact, I believe there was underspending by the municipalities last year compared to what was approved for them, as well as in the year before. There was considerable underspending by the municipalities, so there has been no delay in the implementation of public transit plans by municipalities because of any shortage of funds being made available by this government.
Mr. Speaker: The Leader of the Opposition with his second question.
Mr. S. Smith: So we’re never going to find out about the Mercedes. We’ll have to wait till after.
Mr. S. Smith: A question for the Chairman of Management Board; I know I am going to regret this but I am going to try.
Mrs. Campbell: You sure are.
Mr. T. P. Reid: That will take care of the rest of the question period.
Mr. S. Smith: Can the minister tell us the current status of the report entitled Survey of the Information Service of the Government of Ontario, 1977, a survey which the minister will remember was commissioned by the Office of the Premier and prepared by one Keith Martin, a public relations consultant? He will recall that the report’s description of the information services is such as to say that “clearly, within the shifting tides of government, Ontario’s information community has remained a slowly stagnating backwater.” Furthermore, it said, “They lead to a path of increasing inconsequential information packaging by information technicians or cosmeticians, an attrition in the ranks of information officers by default” --
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Question.
Mr. S. Smith: -- “and a continuing inability to deal effectively with the communication needs of the government and the people of Ontario.” Whatever happened to this report? Is it merely, as Mr. Martin was advised by one person, now at the top of a pile or is something being done with this report?
Hon. Mr. Auld: Mr. Speaker, I hate to disappoint the hon. member by not being able to give him a half-hour explanation of where that report stands, but frankly I don’t have that information with me. I will certainly find out what has happened as a result of that report, and report to him in the near future.
Mr. Makarchuk: Could you make it a ministerial statement?
Mr. S. Smith: By way of a brief supplementary: Was this report never brought to the attention of the Chairman of Management Board? Is he unaware that there are projected savings in the millions of dollars, suggested in a $20 million area, by a person working in the Premier’s office? Is this the first he has heard of the report; and if not can he tell me what has been the history of cabinet discussion of this report and of implementation of it?
Hon. Mr. Auld: That’s what I said, that I would obtain the detailed information and pass it along to the hon. member.
Mr. Makarchuk: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: I see no point in pursuing this question. It has been taken as notice and there will be opportunity to question the minister further when a detailed reply is forthcoming.
Mr. Makarchuk: You haven’t heard it, how do you know?
Mr. Cassidy: I have a question of the Minister of Industry and Tourism: In view of yesterday’s announcement that the Prestolite plant of Eltra of Canada, in Point Edward, is going to close down and is transferring its production of original equipment auto parts to the United States with a loss of 155 jobs in this country, can the minister indicate what measures the government intends to take in order to achieve the fair share of automobile parts production, which is set out as a goal in the study of Canada’s share of the North American automotive industry, which the Treasury ministry published last week?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The hon. member knows we have been taking some steps to do what we can within our area of jurisdiction; which is very limited, dealing as it does with the auto pact.
Mr. Deans: That’s not so.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The hon. member refers to the report produced by the Treasury ministry in which we have stated we do not feel we are getting our fair share from the auto pact. The hon. member is well aware that we have made representations to the federal government, through the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Commerce, urging that the federal government use its offices to discuss this growing problem with the American government, and if necessary with American manufacturers.
There is nothing else we can do other than what we have done; that is, to indicate that we recognize this is happening, and to suggest that surely there is a responsibility of the signing parties to the auto pact to make sure that Canada is getting its fair share.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: Does the minister acknowledge there is not also some responsibility for the government of Ontario, given the fact that we have a $3 billion deficit in our automobile parts trade with the US; and also that if we had fair shares in that particular industry we would have about 16,000 more jobs in Canada, most of which would be in Ontario? Does he not think Ontario should take a direct role in seeking to ensure better performance by the big four automobile companies, which have been singled out, both by the federal government and by other authorities, as being the chief bodies responsible for this enormous parts deficit and jobs deficit in Canada?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The hon. member knows full well that as far as direct involvement is concerned we are not permitted, as a jurisdiction, to attempt in any way to negotiate with the government of the United States. What we have done is we have met with all of the major automobile manufacturers; we have met with the United Auto Workers union and discussed the problem with them; we have met with the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association of Canada and discussed their concerns with them; and we have supported positions that have been taken by both the United Auto Workers and the parts manufacturers in submissions they have made to the federal government.
The hon. member is really not being totally fair in his comments that we as a government should be taking direct action. Direct action with whom? We have taken direct action, as direct as we can be, with the federal authorities. I am certainly not going to charge off to Washington and attempt to discuss the matter with the President of the United States.
Mr. Deans: Why not?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Perhaps the member will; he goes to every other place to do that
Mr. B. Newman: Will the minister require industry to give him substantial notice of any production changes that may adversely affect either the industry or any community in the province of Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: As I have indicated before in the House, where there is a matter involving employees, there is a requirement now that the Ministry of Labour be notified of any such layoffs or discontinuance of operation. I don’t think there’s any requirement at this time under the law that there be notification of a change of production. However, we have said to the automobile manufacturers that we feel there has to be better communication and that we should be advised. I can tell the hon. member that we have been advised that companies are not that anxious to disclose to government or to anyone else what some of their decisions are going to be prior to their being ready to make those announcements.
Mr. Deans: Do you think that’s right?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: No, I don’t.
Mr. Deans: Why don’t you set out a law that requires it?
Mr. Breaugh: Since the minister doesn’t want to travel off to Washington, how about travelling off to Oshawa and Windsor and Oakville and Brampton --
Mr. Havrot: That will never solve the problem.
Mr. Breaugh: -- and dealing directly with the corporations themselves about those things that are not federal jurisdiction but provincial, namely the tax exemptions which his ministry gives to those corporations under various budget proposals; and recommendations that he might make to the federal government, as the provincial government, about easing, ending or altering some of the exemptions by which they now benefit?
Has the minister considered direct action within his own jurisdiction, within his own province? And what might those recommendations be?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: In order not to spend money unnecessarily, rather than making the trip to those various municipalities we have had them come to us. Let them absorb the cost and we’ll meet them here on our own turf.
Mr. Breaugh: What did the minister say to them?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Secondly, I wish the member would make up his mind. It isn’t too long ago I heard various remarks being made from that particular section of this House that we should be considering getting into greater incentives to industry to locate facilities and to increase production in Ontario. Now, they’re suggesting we should take away some of the incentives that hopefully will keep them productive and competitive.
Mr. Kerrio: Is the minister aware of a meeting that took place between the Premier and the chairman of General Motors, at which meeting the chairman of General Motors suggested he was satisfied with the auto pact as it existed and that we shouldn’t do anything to change it?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Yes, I am aware of that meeting. I attended it.
Mr. di Santo: A supplementary of the minister: Since the problem of the trade deficit is becoming worse and worse, and has reached $3 billion and we now have a supplementary problem with investment; and since there is no sense of direction right now as to how much investment will come to the Canadian market; and since the good offices of the federal government have not sorted out any positive answers vis-à-vis the Canadian situation of investment; would the minister consider other tougher positions, which he may not take directly but which he can impose on the federal government, namely the renegotiation of the auto pact or alternatives to the auto pact?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Again, I will repeat that we are into an area in which this government really has no jurisdiction.
Mr. Breaugh: Oh, come on.
Mr. Cassidy: One job in every six.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: We have stated our position very strongly to the federal government. The hon. member talks about the renegotiation of the auto pact. If the hon. member wants to do some homework, if he wants to try and gather the sort of statistics that are available --
Mr. Warner: He has.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: If he has all of those then he must recognize one can get about five or six different sets of numbers as they relate to what’s happening in production of automobiles and the creation of jobs on both sides of the border.
I have seen figures that have been produced by the automobile manufacturers, by the UAW, by the auto parts manufacturers and by the federal government.
Mr. Cassidy: Are you disowning your Treasurer's figures? Are you disowning the Treasurer?
Mr. Breaugh: That’s not a bad idea.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: No; but I think the Treasurer said at the time he made his release that the figures he has are only one set of figures, and remember that he released those figures --
Mr. Cassidy: Does your ministry plan to challenge his ministry?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: -- with the caveat that there were other figures available that weren’t necessarily in the same category.
Mr. Cassidy: You’re backing away.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: I’m not backing away from anything.
Mr. Breaugh: Why don’t you guys get together?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Is the member prepared to pick one set of figures and fly with them? I can’t do that because there are too many discrepancies between those numbers.
Mr. Cassidy: I have a question of the Minister of Housing: Has the government had any negotiations or discussions with the federal minister for urban affairs or with CMHC regarding the federal government’s proposed changes in housing policy; and if those negotiations have taken place, can the minister say what the government’s position is on some of the changes, including the proposed termination of the Neighbourhood Improvement Program; the proposal to eliminate capital write-down grants for non-profit and co-operative housing; the creation of a direct relationship between the federal government and municipalities, which would by-pass the province completely; the elimination of federal grants to public housing and the watering down of the AHOP loan system?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: I’ve had the opportunity, back on January 31 and February 1, as I reported to this House earlier, of meeting with the federal minister, along with my colleagues from the other provinces, and discussing new housing policies or proposals being advanced by the federal government at the time.
Since February 1, there have been a number of meetings by the senior staff from across Canada -- that is in the ministries of housing -- to try to put together what we have termed global agreements on the affairs of housing. On April 10 we were, as the ministers of housing from the 10 provinces, along with the federal minister, to meet in Ottawa. It was the federal minister’s decision, on April 8, to cancel that meeting and it was to be rescheduled. We have not yet been advised of a date.
Since that time, a number of proposals have come forward from Mr. Ouellet in Ottawa. Just the middle of last week I received a six-page telegram indicating some of the areas of housing the minister would like us to review -- proposals or suggestions, call them what you might.
We have now an opportunity to do a fair amount of analysis on what the federal minister is suggesting, and I might say to the members of this House that we have gone back and asked for clarification on some of the issues that he’s raised in the telegram, on which we have never had any previous discussion. We have not, to my knowledge, had any reply as of this date.
As for the NIP program, it was clearly indicated to the minister, back on February 1, that all provinces wish to see the NIP program retained in use, a proposal for which the provinces had full support from their individual municipalities.
As for the other items, all of them have been discussed in some detail, both with the minister, the deputy minister and CMHC. At this point I cannot add a great deal because we have not been able to come to any firm conclusion on the new programs that are being proposed by the federal government, or which ones we might be interested in further negotiating, as a province, for acceptance of a provincial-federal relationship.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary: In view of the very substantial impact of the negotiations on housing in Ontario, particularly on housing for people on low and modest incomes; and in view of the impact of any agreement that the province of Ontario may reach with the federal government on non-profit and co-operative housing groups and on municipalities; is the minister prepared to make Ontario’s position public or to consult with those particular bodies in order that their views can be represented when Ontario sits down with the federal government?
Hon. Mr. Bennett: Mr. Speaker, my understanding is that we’re fairly knowledgeable on exactly what is required in those particular areas of housing responsibility -- financing, joint financing and whatever it might be. I think our position, as we interpret it and as my staff people interpret it, has been put clearly before Mr. Ouellet and his people. We do not accept some of the positions that he’s proposed at this time because we cannot see where, in the long range, it’s to the advantage of the provinces or the municipalities, or to the non-profits or co-ops, to be involved in some of the schemes or proposals he is advancing at this time.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. member for St. Catharines.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary.
Mr. Speaker: You had a five-part initial question and one supplementary; six questions surely should be enough for one member.
Mr. Cassidy: Okay.
PHYSICIANS OPTING OUT OF OHIP
Mr. Bradley: My question is of the Minister of Health: Is the minister aware that some 20 to 25 physicians, including several St. Catharines specialists, have opted out of OHIP as of yesterday, with the result that patients will now be forced to be billed directly and be forced to pay the difference between the OHIP schedule and the suggested schedule of the OMA? If so, what action does the minister plan to take to alleviate this situation, or to deal with it now that it is a reality rather than merely speculation?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I was not aware that such a number had opted out; I’ll look into it to see if in fact that is correct, and report back.
Mr. Bradley: Supplementary: Would the minister not agree that as their fiscal years -- and I suppose they have individual fiscal years -- as their fiscal years come to an end and they become freed from the confines of the Anti-Inflation Board, would he not agree that if this trend continues in the Niagara Peninsula, and indeed across the province, that we’re going to have health-care services in a state of chaos in the province of Ontario in the very near future?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I certainly would not, Mr. Speaker. As I indicated several weeks ago in this House, if in fact the number of opted-out physicians gets to the point that it begins to threaten the universality of the health-care system -- and that’s the important consideration, the universality of the system -- then the government would intervene. The fact of opting out does not in and of itself do that. I will look into the situation in his constituency that he has described and report back to him.
Mr. Breaugh: While he is preparing that information, could the minister provide to the House the number of physicians who have opted out across the province since he struck that agreement? Instead of localizing it into St. Catharines will he answer that question? Will he give us the number that have opted out since he struck the agreement across Ontario?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Again, I indicated several weeks ago the whole question of the numbers of opted-in and opted-out physicians is monitored on a regular basis.
Mr. Breaugh: Just tell us.
Mr. Ruston: A supplementary to the minister. In his negotiations with the doctors on his 6¼ per cent increase, did the minister at any time discuss the possibility of increasing the amount for general practitioners, because if he looks over the 19968-69 rates, according to my figures at that time they were $4.50 and $5; now the amount for an office visit at today’s rates is $7.65. Is the minister considering that there may be a differential between general practitioners and specialists?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: In my statement to the House announcing that settlement I would ask the member to go back and look at the fact that I said it was a 6¼ per cent average increase, and in fact, general practice is taken as one of, I think, 18 specialist groupings. They do better than most, if not all, of the other specialties.
Mr. Deans: I have a question of the Solicitor General. It is with regard to the Oakville fire.
Would the Solicitor General attempt to explain the reasons behind the following set of circumstances: That on the Wednesday after the fire an employee of the company whose warehouse was burned down provided for the Fire Marshal’s office, and in particular Mr. Pipher of the Fire Marshal’s office, a description of what he believed to have been a CNR employee burning on the side track; that on the following morning Mr. Pipher then called the president of the company and informed him that yes, they had identified that employee and had a signed statement from him; that two hours later he called back and said, “Forget it, we didn’t identify him. We don’t have a signed statement from him”?
Can the minister tell me whether or not the Fire Marshal or someone in the Fire Marshal’s office met with or discussed this situation with the CNR; and what was said to them by the CNR; and to what extent did the CNR investigate its own employee’s involvement and the culpability of the CNR in starting the fire in the first place?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: I will get that information. I do understand that the origin of the fire is now attributed to the burning of garbage.
Mr. Deans: As a supplementary question, would the Solicitor General be prepared to acquire all of the documents pertaining to the investigation undertaken by the Fire Marshal, by the fire department in Oakville, by the police department in Oakville; and in addition, those of the CNR private investigation conducted for CN’s own use? Would the minister table those documents in the House in order that we can ascertain whether or not in fact the CNR should be held responsible for the damage that was caused and the difficulties now confronting so many people?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: I will table any documents that are available from the Fire Marshal’s office.
Mr. Speaker: The hon. Provincial Secretary for Resources Development has the answer to a question previously asked.
Hon. Mr. Brunelle: Yesterday, the hon. member for Kent-Elgin (Mr. McGuigan) brought to the attention of the House the concern of commercial fishermen on Lake Erie about salmon plantings by the states of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.
During the past four years there have been 6.8 million salmon plantings by those states. From the fisheries assessment information gathered here in the Ontario waters, the success of these plantings has been very marginal to date. While there appears to be some difference of opinion as to a suitable fishery strategy for Lake Erie between the United States and Canada, discussions continue to take place under the auspices of the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission. To date the stock of salmon has not proved to be a major problem to Ontario users and the Ministry of Natural Resources are closely monitoring the situation to make sure that Ontario’s interests are fully protected.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, on April 18 the hon. member for Brantford stated: “The hospitals in the Brantford and Hamilton areas were paying 12 cents to 16 cents a pound for their laundry, and after the minister forced them into a reprivatization and put the laundry out to a private firm they are now paying anywhere from 24 cents to 28 cents a pound for the same laundry.”
The two laundry alternatives are not directly comparable. The 12 to 16 cents cost per pound does not represent the same service as is provided by central laundries at a cost of 24 to 28 cents per pound. The 12 to 16 cents figure represents the average cost incurred by a hospital in washing laundry and placing it on a shelf. However, central laundry services provide a number of additional services to their hospital customers, such as: One, the preparation of sterile surgical packs which are used in the operating rooms; and two, the purchase and storage of linens for their hospital customers.
In addition the hospitals’ requirement for steam is reduced when laundry is done in a central facility. The portion of the central laundry’s cost for washing laundry and placing it on shelves is eight to nine cents per pound compared to the 12 to 16 cents per pound to provide this service in the hospital. The use of a central laundry sees savings realized by hospitals because the hospitals do not have to pay for labour to prepare sterile packs, purchase and storage of linen and the generating or purchasing of steam. When these additional factors are taken into account the savings should compensate for the price paid to the central laundry for its service.
Mr. Makarchuk: Supplementary: In view of the fact the minister is persuaded there is a saving, could he tell me why the people who are managing the hospital are not persuaded there is a saving?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, I would only say that if they are so persuaded in a different direction they should say so to the minister, which they haven’t.
CHRYSLER PRODUCTION PLANS
Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Labour: Has the minister been informed by Chrysler of its decision to move six-cylinder engine production to the United States, even though this may not mean a loss of jobs right now as the big 360 cubic inch V-8 engine may absorb the manpower from the six-cylinder engine production? Will the minister look into this situation, as both the Canadian and American governments are now strongly advising the public to conserve energy in every way possible, and this may mean the end of the manufacture of the V-8 360 cubic engine in Canada in the not too distant future and result in the loss of some 600 jobs in the Windsor area?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, from our conversations with Chrysler it was obvious that indeed the company was making moves to the development of the smaller engine, which it thinks will be the engine of the future. I heard no specific statement from them that they were going to move that to the United States, but I shall investigate it and report.
Mr. B. Newman: Supplementary: Will the minister require that industry give a substantial advance notice of any such production changes so that we wouldn’t have to ask her in the House; they could have told her well enough in advance?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, they are required to inform the Ministry of Labour at this time of layoffs, but they are not required at this time to report on production changes. As a result of our conversations we have developed some information which we did not have before, and that is an interesting suggestion which I will consider.
Mr. Cooke: Supplementary: In view of the fact that the Chrysler engine plant will be producing eight-cylinder engines, and the cars now produced at Chrysler’s plant in Windsor are all of the larger models; and in view of the fact that the trend is to smaller cars, has the minister had any discussions with Chrysler, or will she have, in order to convince the company we should be getting a fair share of the small car production and a fair share of the future production demands in Windsor?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Mr. Speaker, that was precisely the burden of the message which was conveyed to the Chrysler officials who were here at the time of our meeting.
Mr. Cooke: What was the answer?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Yes.
ELECTION OF REPRESENTATIVES
Mr. Warner: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Treasurer, who I believe is lurking in the shadows back there.
Mr. Breaugh: Stop lurking Darcy, it is undignified.
Mr. Warner: Mr. Speaker, since the Treasurer appears to be dedicated to the democratic political process --
Mr. Breaugh: He knew that would shake you up.
Mr. Warner: -- and since he may be concerned about being misinterpreted or misquoted or misunderstood by way of the Toronto Star article of last Friday, could he perhaps set the record straight here today that he supports the basic democratic principle that each political representative of the public should be elected, and that includes the chairman of Metro Toronto?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, I long ago stopped worrying about being misunderstood or misquoted. That’s one of the perils of public office.
Mr. Peterson: Is it true you signed up for French lessons last week?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Have I anything to add today? No. On Thursday, I believe at 10 o’clock, the world will unfold as it should.
Mr. Cassidy: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker. Can the Treasurer at least assure us after 25 years of metropolitan government in Metropolitan Toronto, that Toronto will in future have a Metropolitan chairman who is elected by the voters of this region rather than simply an appointed individual who never has to face the electorate? Can he also assure us that the same principle will apply with the other regional government reorganizations across the province?
Hon. Mr. McKeough: Mr. Speaker, the fact is that in Metropolitan Toronto the four chairmen who have been selected have each in their turn been elected people.
Hon. Mr. McKeough: They have ceased to be elected people, but each one of them came from elected ranks. And to answer the question, obviously the member has a point of view and obviously the government has a point of view, and that will be made known on Thursday.
Mr. Cassidy: It’s called democracy.
Mr. Warner: You are against the democratic system.
Mr. Makarchuk: His flirtation with democracy was short-lived.
Mr. O’Neil: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of Transportation and Communications. In previous years people in the tourist industry and residents in the ridings of Quinte and Northumberland have experienced problems because of the serious weed problem in Brighton Bay, the Bay of Quinte and the Murray Canal area. Can the minister tell us whether his ministry is taking any steps to see that these problems are corrected for the coming summer months?
Hon. Mr. Snow: Would the hon. member explain a little? I believe his question was regarding weeds in the bay. I don’t really feel that falls within my area of responsibility.
Mr. O’Neil: I know that -- again to the minister -- this matter has been tossed back from the federal Minister of Transport saying it lies under the provincial minister’s jurisdiction -- in other words the canal areas or the routes by which these boats travel.
Mr. O’Neil: I wonder if it would be possible for the minister to have his officials look into this and clarify the matter as to whether it is a provincial or a federal matter and see that something is done?
An hon. member: Don’t keep passing the buck.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I’ll assure the hon. member I’m positive to the first question. I will look into it and try to determine whose responsibility it is. If it should turn out to be a federal responsibility, of course, I can’t assure the member that something will be done about it.
Mr. Breaugh: I have a question of the Minister of Health. In regard to that fire in the Oakville area, what steps has the ministry taken to notify the public, in particular people who might be particularly vulnerable, like pregnant women, of what dangers are there? What facilities has he set up to investigate or diagnose whatever ramifications might come from that kind of exposure?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: My ministry per se has not been directly involved. The local hospital and the local health unit, I believe, and certainly the provincial efforts have been co-ordinated by my sister ministry. We have not, as a ministry, been directly involved.
Mr. Breaugh: Supplementary then: Is the minister saying that he is leaving it entirely to the -- I guess it would be the local medical officer of health to make those determinations, and that his ministry is not monitoring that situation in any way?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: It’s basically an environmental health problem and as such the Ministry of Health is not involved. I have been out of the country since the middle of last week but I will be glad to get the details of exactly what has been done. I haven’t had a report on it to this point.
Ms. Bryden: Supplementary: I would like to ask whose responsibility it is for notifying people about the health hazards in a fire of this sort. It appears that sometimes it’s the regional municipality, sometimes it’s the Minister of Labour, sometimes it may be the Fire Marshal. Can we straighten this out? Is it the Fire Marshal’s job to co-ordinate the information or to see that there is a co-ordinated plan for notifying people of the health hazards involved in a fire where chemicals are involved?
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry, I didn’t hear the first part of the question --
Hon. Mr. Kerr: Go ahead.
Mr. Lewis: Could you all ask George for his permission one by one before you reply?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: My understanding of the situation is that when it involves an environmental health matter, the co-ordination is basically in the hands of the Ministry of the Environment. Certainly where a health unit or a hospital -- any of the facilities that are in or relate to the Ministry of Health -- can be of assistance, they are, but it’s basically a matter to be co-ordinated by the Ministry of the Environment.
Mr. Stong: I have a question of the Minister of Energy: What incentives will the minister implement to encourage greenhouse operators to continue to convert to thermal blankets in the interests of energy conservation, and more particularly, to assist those greenhouse operators who have already converted to the use of thermal blankets and now find themselves paying higher fuel costs, particularly costs for natural gas, by virtue of that conversion because they use less fuel?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Mr. Speaker, with respect, I really believe that is a question that should be directed to the Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. W. Newman).
Mr. Roy: Ah, don’t skip out. Are you saying you’re not for energy conservation, eh, eh?
Hon. B. Stephenson: Who is the biggest energy conserver in town? He is only here Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Mr. Stong: If that minister were here, I would redirect. He’s not here, so I can’t redirect.
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: The member for Ottawa East doesn’t use much power in his office all week.
Mr. Roy: Which office, here or in Ottawa?
Hon. Mr. Rhodes: Here.
Mr. Roy: I’m glad you clarified that.
Mr. Speaker: Does the Minister of Energy now have an answer?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: I have a word of explanation which I hope will answer the question, because at the present time the Ministry of Agriculture and Food is carrying on a number of research projects to deal with the very question the hon. member is referring to. I didn’t want to be told by one of my colleagues over here to sit down.
Mr. S. Smith: We will do it for them.
INCORPORATION OF DOCTORS
Mr. Germa: Mr. Speaker, a question of the Minister of Health: Is the minister aware of discussions at present under way between the Ontario Medical Association and the College of Physicians and Surgeons with reference to medical doctors becoming incorporated? Is it his intention to amend the Health Disciplines Act to allow MDs to incorporate, and could he tell us what benefits would accrue to the people of Ontario when he allows this?
Mr. Cassidy: If any.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I am aware, Mr. Speaker, that the bodies have talked about this separately for a number of years. They may very well be talking to one another about it at this point, but to date they have yet to put a proposal for it before me. I have frankly not considered it and have not formed an opinion one way or another on it.
Mr. Cassidy: Will they be eligible for accelerated depreciation?
Mr. Sweeney: A question to the Deputy Premier in the Premier’s (Mr. Davis) absence: Given that there will be a large delegation of parents, teachers and trustees from the Toronto school board here this afternoon to express their concern about special education needs, and given the fact that the Minister of Education (Mr. Wells) is not here to meet them, who will be meeting them on behalf of the government?
Hon. Mr. Welch: I can’t provide the hon. member with that information, but I’m sure some arrangements have been made to meet the delegation. I’ll make it my business to find out.
Mr. Sweeney: Supplementary: As of 10 o’clock this morning, no arrangements had been made. Is it the normal practice for the government to ignore such delegations?
Mrs. Campbell: Yes.
Mr. Warner: That is the answer; yes.
Mr. Lawlor: A question for the Attorney General who is at present recessed beneath the throne: What provision is being made for servicing the courts in the area of psychological care now that the forensic unit of the Hamilton and Niagara regions at the Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital has been closed?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: It’s a matter of some concern to me, Mr. Speaker. I haven’t had an opportunity to review it yet with the Minister of Health as he has been representing the province of Ontario in Italy recently. While these cases have been spread throughout the system, I have to state that I think it does create a problem and I will be reviewing it with the Minister of Health.
Mr. Lawlor: Supplementary: The doctor in charge, program director Dr. John White, says that the service was expensive, but saved money where costly trials were avoided because the accused person was found unfit to stand trial. Has the minister made his computations as to what savings are being made or what the extra costs are the other way around?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: No, I have no such information at the present time.
Mr. Deans: Redirect the question to the Minister of Health.
Mr. Makarchuk: Is the minister aware that in most of these hospitals there are open wards and they do not have proper lockup services for these people?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I’m not prepared to generalize or attempt to answer such a general question. Obviously, in some areas, there is a problem of security with people who are believed to be potentially dangerous. The problem exists but I haven’t heard of any serious concern expressed to me by the Ministry of Health or by the minister. Unless the member is prepared to give me a specific example, I’m really not in a position to properly answer the question.
Mr. Roy: Like Ottawa.
SMALL CLAIMS COURTS
Mrs. Campbell: My question is to the Attorney General: What is the Attorney General’s response to the article which appeared in yesterday’s Toronto Star in which small claims courts were criticized as places where business plaintiffs were found to be successful in 94 per cent of their claims against consumers?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Quite frankly, I didn’t regard yesterday’s article in the Star as being an in-depth study of small claims court at all. As a matter of fact, it didn’t appear that the author had even been in a small claims court, but I can’t say that for certain; certainly the article didn’t suggest it.
I think the article was unfair inasmuch as it appeared to pass a blanket condemnation of the small claims court judiciary who, generally speaking, behave in a manner that brings great credit to themselves in the administration of justice. For example, another Toronto newspaper several months ago carried a major article -- and the member for St. George recalls it, I think -- which was very laudatory of the small claims court and the judges.
While we recognize, particularly since increasing the jurisdiction of the small claims court, that we must monitor the situation carefully -- and we are -- at the same time we are preparing a booklet which will be available in the next few weeks. It’s a very comprehensive booklet intended to assist private litigants who wish to argue their cases either as the plaintiff or as the defendant in small claims court, and I think this booklet will be a very useful guide.
Where the article seems to miss the point entirely is that the procedural apparatus that surrounds a county court action, civil action, of course makes the whole process very expensive. As a result, many citizens who wish either to plead a case for the plaintiff or for the defence, simply because of the high cost surrounding litigation of the matter in the county court --
Mr. Warner: You’re going to get two minutes for delaying the game.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- where there are pre-trial examinations for discovery, other pre-trial hearings, as well as complicated pleadings in many cases. While the article may have pointed out some problems which we’re continuing to examine in respect to whether or not, for example, Legal Aid should be providing duty counsel -- and there may have been some other valid observations made -- I have to say I don’t think the article was particularly well balanced.
Mrs. Campbell: I don’t see what I am saying as an attack on the judges of the small claims courts, but surely it is evident if one has been in those courts -- and I must say I haven’t been in those courts recently -- that there is an imbalance; the business people who appear in those courts do usually have all the legal assistance that is possible for those claims.
Would the Attorney General then, as he has suggested, give consideration to some form of duty counsel or some form of advice to those who are otherwise without legal advice and therefore in a position where the proceedings themselves can be distorted in producing evidence and in other ways?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I don’t know the exact or accurate figures in relation to so-called claims brought by businessmen and the success resulting therefrom, but I would simply like to make this point: Obviously the vast majority of those claims are not defended; there is no issue as to whether the money is owing, so that in itself does not provide an accurate picture. Certainly the concept of duty counsel is something we have been looking at and we will actively pursue.
Mr. Speaker: The time for oral questions has expired.
Mr. Breaugh: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: For several days now we have been pursuing the matter of the Oakville fire and with a great deal of redirection back and forth between the ministries. Would it be in order for this House to ask the Solicitor General, who is now responsible for this lead ministry concept, to rise and make a statement on Thursday of this week, giving us who is responsible for what, who did what and what happens from here?
Mr. Speaker: It’s certainly not within the jurisdiction of the Chair to delegate responsibility for government and, unless one of the ministers wants to undertake to do that, there’s nothing the Chair can do.
Mr. Sargent: Mr. Speaker, I have thousands and thousands of names here --
Hon. B. Stephenson: You can’t count either.
An hon. member: How many of them are real?
Mr. Sargent: -- in support of the abolishment of Bill 129, The Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act. I would like the minister, when he goes through this, to be very careful; there may be a lot of money in here for memberships for this cause. I would ask him to go through them very carefully, and I want them back.
Mr. Ruston: A mailing list, eh, Eddie?
Mr. Roy: All good Canadian citizens.
Mr. MacDonald: Another Liberal flip-flop.
INTRODUCTION OF BILL
PUBLIC COMMERCIAL VEHICLES AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Snow moved first reading of Bill 78, An Act to amend the Public Commercial Vehicles Act.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Welch: Mr. Speaker, before the orders of the day, perhaps by way of an announcement I could indicate there has been some agreement that the late show, which would normally have been held this evening and involving members from Oakwood and Downsview and the Provincial Secretary for Social Development (Mrs. Birch), will be postponed until Thursday evening next at same time.
Mr. Breaugh: There’s a hockey game Thursday night too.
Hon. Mr Welch: May I also take this opportunity in response to the member for Kitchener-Wilmot (Mr. Sweeney) who is interested in who will be meeting the delegation arriving this afternoon, I am advised that the member for Mississauga South (Mr. Kennedy), parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Education, has arranged to meet with the delegation.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
WITHDRAWAL OF MOTION
On motion by Hon. Mr. Snow, the order for second reading of Bills 21 and 41 was discharged from the order paper and the bills were withdrawn.
COMMODITY BOARDS AND MARKETING AGENCIES ACT (CONTINUED)
Resumption of the adjourned debate on motion for second reading of Bill 48, An Act respecting Commodity Boards and Marketing Agencies.
Mr. McGuigan: When we adjourned on this day last week, I carried through a history of the Farm Products Marketing Act in Canada from 1927 to the early 1960s with a view to showing that anyone operating in this field in Canada would know that it was the intention of both governments to fully protect producers in this regard.
I would like to pass on today to some of the things in front of us. I would like to give the basic fact of agricultural economics in a restatement of the law of supply and demand. That is, given no restriction such as lack of capital or lack of raw materials, production costs and prices always come to the same point. This happens, of course, in industry as well as in agriculture, but industry has ways of circumventing these which I wish to point out.
Certain cycles of production will produce times when production is profitable, but on the other side of the cycle it is unprofitable, and the average comes out to no profit. In Canada, a country with the greatest acreage of arable land per person of any country in the world, there are no restrictions imposed by shortage of land. And, really, there is very little restriction of capital; because investors interested in integrating into agriculture -- investors such as the brewing industry, already heavily involved in the grain business -- find it a natural thing to move into feeds and then into livestock and poultry production.
In recent times, investment in farm land has been a far better investment against inflation than investing in the stock market. I can give you these figures: In 1977 the Dow-Jones industrial average, the measure of stock market prices, declined by 26 per cent. In other words, those investors lost 26 per cent of their funds. It declined to a low of 742 in late February. It stood at 844.33 as of yesterday. On December 31, 1967, the level was 905.11. The Dow Jones industrial average would have to be in the 1,600s for an investor to maintain the same purchasing power for dollars that he had in 1967. In other words, an investment in land is one of the best you can make.
There are no restraints so far on farm input, such as fertilizer, fuel and pesticides. Labour is a definite restraint in those areas that are labour-intensive, such as fruits and vegetables and tobacco. But in highly mechanized cash crops, which include some fruits and vegetables that are mechanically harvested and highly mechanized livestock operations, at the top of this list would be egg production.
In summary, all the elements are there to ensure that no profit accrues over the long run to the producers. Our city friends are apt to cry foul when we ask for a special legislation for farmers. They say they have the same economic forces to contend with as do farmers. There might be some element of truth in this, but a great many non-farm activities avoid the no-profit equation because of the nature of their business and by techniques available to them that are not available to agriculture. I’d like to list these techniques.
First, capital is a non-farm restraint. No one has been able to amass the capital required to challenge a giant like General Motors. Secondly, labour has its own mechanisms, both public and private, to restrict the input of labour. Third, whenever industry reaches the no-profit point, it introduces a new product to fulfil a real or imagined or advertising-induced need.
Agriculture has a very limited ability to introduce a new product and, even in those rare cases when a new variety is introduced, the biology of the system is such that the new seed is available to all producers in a very short time and the no-profit equation is soon restored. Even patented varieties cannot be protected for long. Some enterprising soul will take the variety and rename it and thereby get around the patent laws. As in the human species, it’s possible to prove who could not be the male parent but it’s not easy to prove who was the male parent.
Fourth, industry has restraints on input. The world has a limited supply of certain materials such as petroleum, tin, silver and gold. We have unlimited supplies of coal, but the unlimited burning of coal would lead to the destruction of our planet’s atmosphere and of our soil. I submit that there are very few limits in the agricultural system.
When one turns to the marketplace, we find that the chain stores in Canada account for about 75 per cent of grocery sales. In the United States that figure is only 35 per cent. The concentration of buying power is overwhelming when 350,000 Canadian farmers try to deal with about seven or eight major chains. The same applies in meat packing and a good many other aspects of agriculture.
New entrants to the market compete, not on their level of efficiency but on their ability to finance losses until either they or their competitors or both go bankrupt. Having been a chain store supplier since my youth, I’ve seen so many people struggle hopelessly in this losing battle. The real losers are usually the families -- lost education for children, lost amenities for farm wives and often ruined lives and health.
Recently, a very successful Ontario farmer gave his recipe for success. He said he wore down his competitors and then he hit the bank. In other words, much of his success was due to his ability to suffer severe financial losses that he could eventually recoup, once he became dominant in the field, or that he could recoup in the increasing value of his land. I could give further examples but, in short, it is not too hard to demonstrate the difference between farm production economies and non-agricultural production economies.
There’s some advantage in scale in farm production, mostly in the ability to purchase input and in the ability to sell output to advantage. Farm production actually reaches a plateau of efficiency very quickly. Industry has a general rule that for each doubling of production there is a saving of 10 per cent in production costs. The fallacy of this rule in agriculture has been demonstrated many times by the countless bankruptcies of large farm corporations and the retreat of farm corporations from active farming. The smart corporations hold the land and rent the operations out to a private operator.
I support Bill 48 because I believe there are very legitimate defensible reasons for having compulsory farm marketing plans in Ontario. I’ve outlined some of the most obvious reasons -- reasons that hold true in theory and in practice, and I’ve had experience in both fields.
Section 5, which states, “ ... such levies or charges are hereby declared to have been validly imposed or collected and, where they were imposed but not collected, may be collected as if they had been imposed under this Act,” gave me some trouble. But on reflection, and after tracing the history of farm marketing legislation in Canada from 1927 to the present, one cannot say that one was not aware of the intent of the law, nor could one question the intent of the law.
The majority of citizens -- and I speak of all citizens, not just the farm community -- by supporting these various Acts and amendments, have indicated they approve of the power delegated to local boards to market and assign levies to various farm products. The producers, in plebiscites requiring a two-thirds majority, have opted for 125 marketing boards in Canada. The egg producers, who set aside the levies in trust fund accounts, admitted by so doing that they were liable for paying the levies.
One has to admire people who fight for freedom as they see it, but the majority see freedom in another light and their views must be respected. The minority in a democracy have a right to be heard; these people were allowed to withhold their levies and they were given the right to test the law. But before one bleeds for them, one must also consider the rights of those who carried out the intent of the law. If we are to reward those who withheld, we are back to the days of the 1920s, the Shapiro Pools, in which the backsliders were rewarded. I’m not about to go back to those times, and I urge all those who understand farm marketing and who have a care for the future of Ontario to support this bill.
Mr. Speaker, our agricultural critic, the member for Huron-Middlesex (Mr. Riddell), has adequately dealt with the case in point, that of egg marketing, which precipitated the introduction of this bill, An Act respecting -- I’m sorry, I’ve got into the wrong part of my speech.
Mr. Deans: You’re re-reading what you read before.
Mr. McGuigan: Only yesterday our leader brought up the mailer of certain large buyers paying off their wholesalers or their suppliers at 98 cents on the dollar.
Mr. Deans: That’s what I like -- spontaneity.
Mr. McGuigan: Who can stand up to a buyer who may be your principal or even your only customer? I’ve had personal experience in this and I’d like to relate one, if the members will allow me that opportunity.
This was in the 1960s. Chain stores normally pay their suppliers in 10 days, and this is the accepted practice within the produce industry. But seven weeks after one producer deal, I had not been paid by a major chain and they owed me several thousand dollars. I phoned the secretary of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association, who at the time was Mr. Barney Wilson, and he told me that he had many complaints from producers and from wholesalers across this province but no one would register a complaint. I guess perhaps that was a bit of a challenge to me so I said he had a complaint. He phoned the Minister of Agriculture, and within about 10 minutes I had a call from the hon. minister and within a couple of days the cheques came in a flood. Needless to say, I soon lost that account.
I’m not singling out chain stares because I think they’re terrible villains. Most of my experiences with them have been very satisfactory and most of them have very fair policies, but it’s up to all of us, in attacking such things as the two per cent discount, to support those who do maintain good corporate images and treat their suppliers in an equitable way.
The horror stories we could relate in farm marketing would include going back to the early days in the century where tobacco growers in my riding were driven even to suicide by predatory practices, right up to today with such stories as that of the 98-cent dollar.
Dairy processers in certain parts of the province even today will tell their producers they could support higher milk quotas in order to spread mistrust and break down the system. They have unused capacity due to the fact that there is a heavier flow of milk in the summer months and they would like to continue a heavy flow throughout the winter in order to use their facilities. But I believe the only market they really have is to sell the skim milk powder to the Canadian government.
Yes, Mr. Speaker, the anti-marketing forces are as real today as they ever were. In the interests of producers and consumers and in the interest of a secure food supply for Ontario and in the interests of plain social justice I urge all members to support this bill.
Mr. Deans: I am neither a farmer nor a lawyer but I certainly do have some reservations about one section of the bill. Rather than wait until the committee stage, I just want to express the reservations I have.
To begin with, I appreciate the need for marketing boards; I support them. I think there is great benefit to be derived from marketing boards. There may be an argument to be made some day in the future that the benefits we now receive may be extremely costly in the long run, but nevertheless I don’t want to enter into a debate in which I may be misconstrued as being opposed to the concept and practicality of the marketing board process.
I am, however, going to express some grave reservations about the retroactive feature of the bill. I do so on the following basis: It seems to me that when a citizen or a group of citizens believe they are not being treated properly under the law, they are entitled to pursue that treatment to the highest court in the land. If having so done they find they were in fact not being treated properly under the law, they shouldn’t then have imposed upon them the mistreatment they took to the court.
I think there is something wrong. What would be the purpose of people spending money and pursuing the problem they have through the court system if the end result would be that whether they are right or whether they are wrong, they are wrong. That is what this bill does in section 5. If it had been the intention of the government, whether they lost or won, to impose the levy retroactively then what they might have considered doing in the first instance was bringing in legislation and legalizing it.
On balance, when I look at the imposition of the levies and charges, I can’t help feeling that there is an injustice, the equivalent of the original injustice being imposed upon these people because they stood up for their rights. I disagree with them. I think that the law should have been written in such a way as to allow for the impositions of the levies and the charges. I think had the law been written in that way, those people should have paid those levies and those charges. But it wasn’t; and they proved that in court. They went to court and proved it.
Now we are being asked to say, “Well, notwithstanding the costs you incurred, notwithstanding the fact that you exercised your rights within the law, notwithstanding the fact that you won, you are going to pay them anyway.” I just don’t agree with that. I think it is wrong. If we were to take it into any other court, into any other jurisdiction, I think most people in this House would agree with the inappropriateness of imposing a levy retroactively.
If the minister wants to go back to the date of the decision and impose it as of that date, that’s fine; I think I could find some area of agreement with that. But I can’t agree with going back through all that time when the battle was being fought and saying all that fight was to no avail, because even though the court upheld the dissidents’ position, even though the court agrees that the dissidents were correct in their interpretation, and even though the courts says, “The levy which you refused to pay was not legally imposed in the first place, but you are going to pay it anyway.” I think there is something drastically wrong with this Legislature if it simply accepts that as a practical way of dealing with a very difficult and very vexing situation.
In the case of the people who voluntarily paid, they were aware that there was the distinct possibility that what they were doing was not required of them; but they chose to pay and they paid. They understood that they did not have to pay. They could have taken the same course of action and been a part of the action that was pursued all the way to the Supreme Court. They chose not to do that.
The fact that these people stood up for their rights, and ultimately were successful in defending their position before the court, shouldn’t be held against them. The reason we have a court system, the reason we write the law in the way we do, and the reason we say to people, “You are encouraged to go to court if you think you are wronged,” is because, in the final analysis, we like to think that the justice system we have set up metes out fairness and justice, and that when you finally get there, that decision is final, there is no other place to go.
I understand the problems. I don’t deny for a moment that there are problems in saying there are some people who are not required to make the payment. I can appreciate that it may appear to be unfair in some ways that these people will not be required to pay. But the fact of the matter is that they were not required legally to pay, and they chose not to pay. Therefore, to now ask us to say to them, “You must do what otherwise you did not have to do because it was not legal,” is in my opinion not the appropriate course of action to take in this Legislature.
I don’t think retroactivity in this regard is a valid concept. I understand what the minister may say about the problems that would have for the marketing system. But the truth is that if we were to write our laws more carefully, taking perhaps a little more time, or if the government had recognized there was the possibility that the challenge would be upheld -- even if the government thought it wasn’t probable but that it was at least possible -- and the government at that point had taken the logical and sensible approach and had brought in an amendment such as this amendment, then we wouldn’t have had to go to court in the first place; neither would we now be faced with the prospect of levying this retroactivity on those individuals.
As I started out by saying, what is the point of having a court system, what is the point of people going out and standing up for the things they believe to be right, and what is the point of them going into court and having it found that they were right, if all it means is that they have delayed the payment and at some considerable cost to themselves? The end result will be that we in the Legislature will say, “Right or wrong, you are wrong. Pay it!”
Mr. Hall: Mr. Speaker, Bill 48 doesn’t mention the word “egg”, but eggs are the reason for the bill at this time, as members know. it is my understanding that the Egg Producers’ Marketing Board was initially imposed on egg producers and that a vote was not taken until two years later. By this time, quotas had been established and were seen to be a valuable asset by the majority, and so the vote carried.
A report by Judge Ross indicated that in 1971 42.3 per cent of the egg production was from hens owned by or on contract with feed manufacturers and hatcheries. Egg production is not exactly just a family farm operation. Independent producers have been and are competing with large companies in a very difficult and competitive field. This is a situation we should all want to encourage, in my view.
The report by Judge Ross also stated that there were 1,791 producers with flocks of 520 hens or more at that time. In 1978, seven years later, there are now 936 producers with 500 birds or more, almost a reduction by half. At the present time, 55 per cent of the producers provide 20 per cent of the eggs and 45 per cent of the producers provide 80 per cent of the eggs. Of the 936 basic quota holders, the size of basic quota ranges from 500 to something over 309,000 and averages 12,274 birds.
A quota is now a valuable asset since it determines production. A quota can now be leased and an active lease trade has developed. As I understand it, the lease period is some 14 to 15 months and producers are leasing birds -- the figures I have heard run as high as 260 each, approximately. I mention these facts to point out that for some of those involved egg production is big business and production costs, unused capacity, et cetera, are very important.
The other speakers last week and today have covered the background and details of past legislation quite thoroughly, and it seems there is agreement on the main principle of the bill, namely, the legalization of levies for the future secure operation of marketing boards. The principle of rectroactivity set out in section 5 disturbs me greatly. I intend to speak on behalf of those producers who challenged certain aspects of the board’s operation in the courts.
One of those producers has been well known to me for over 20 years. He has earned my respect as a farmer, as a businessman and as a citizen of his community. I got to know him through my father-in-law, Mr. H. C. Jeffries, who died in 1976. I would like to quote from an article in the December 1973 issue of Poultry Tribune. It refers to an interview with Mr. Jack Zonneveld, “When he and his parents, five brothers and two sisters were on the high seas en route from their native Holland in 1951, only then did they find out that they could work on the farm of Mr. H. C. Jeffries, Grimsby, Ontario. Jack was 14 then. He never went back to high school after landing in Canada. In one way that may have been an educational disadvantage, but in another he has obviously converted it to an advantage by using the time saved to get off to a young start in the egg business.
“Zonneveld cannot say enough about his sponsor, H. C. Jeffries, whose 1,200 acres he and his family helped farm.” He has helped a tremendous number of people get started, including my father. “I added them all up one time and there were at least 72 people I knew of that Mr. Jeffries has helped. Jeffries went with Jack to the bank and co-signed his first loan for $250, he recalls. It turned out to be a real bad investment for Zonneveld as the two sows he bought with the loan ate all their piglets. But he paid back the loan, kept on growing and Jeffries stayed with him and helped teach him about money management.
“In 1959 after leaving the farm and working in the mill at Grimsby Flour and Feed, whose owner, Bill Van Wely, was his partner for several years in different enterprises, Jack was encouraged by Jeffries to get into the egg grading and marketing business. During the first two years, Zonneveld delivered eggs door to door. In 1963, he went completely into wholesaling and expanded, accordingly, the original 1,000 square foot building he had bought from Jeffries in 1959. ‘Until about 1966, Mr. Jeffries had more money invested in my business than I did,’ said Zonneveld, but he never tried to control the business.’
“Since 1967, Zonneveld has operated without having to rely further on his original backer and has grown to the point where he now claims to have one of the two most modern egg-processing plants in Canada.”
Jack Zonneveld has been willing to fight long and hard, almost alone at times, for a principle that he feels important for his industry and for all of us.
Production of eggs in Ontario has been regulated by quotas under Ontario legislation since 1973. In order to pay for the cost of removing and disposing of eggs surplus to demand for the purpose of supporting the price to producers and to support the national egg marketing plan, Ontario egg boards received authority from the federal government in 1973 to charge all Ontario producers an egg levy. The levy was to be collected by the grading station.
A number of Ontario egg producers, the so-called dissident producers, refused to pay this levy. They said it was not legal for the Ontario board to raise levies in this fashion. They felt that with political responsibility divided between the federal and provincial governments there would be no clear responsibility. Let me repeat that. With political responsibility divided between the federal and provincial governments the producers felt there would be no real responsibility. I think we can also assume that they objected to a plan which required a substantial levy, at times as much as nine cents a dozen.
The producers took their case to the Ontario Supreme Court in 1974. Right at the beginning, instead of using non-legal means such as obstruction, the producers put their confidence in the legal system. The Ontario government accepted that forum as the place to decide the issue and, indeed, the minister said that the government directed a reference to the court, asking the court to rule on a number of questions.
While I’m not a lawyer, I’m given to understand that this step of directing a reference was not completely a lily white act of virtue but was really a tactic to cripple the producers’ day in court. Directing a reference, as a device, has been criticized by courts in the past.
The reference took the case out of the trial division into the Court of Appeal without a normal trial first, where discovery proceedings would have possibly produced more facts. The reference effectively buried judicial review of the practical legalities of the last five years of the plan, a particular issue directly related to the levies.
At any rate, the case was argued in the Ontario Court of Appeal, at the government’s instigation, instead of by normal trial and was argued without evidence taken under oath. Despite such severe limitations, upon subsequent referral to the Supreme Court of Canada, that court unanimously held, on January 18, 1978, that the Ontario levies were unlawful. The dissident producers had won fairly and clearly.
It is now being said that the dissidents benefited from the board without paying levies. My information is that for the period involved these producers were fighting the egg board and the Ontario government. The board and its federal partner, the Canadian Egg Marketing Agency, kept the dissidents from obtaining the benefits of the system. The dissident producers were not allowed to purchase, leave or transfer quotas.
I should point out that egg quotas are now trading at $12 to $15 per hen and those who are able to take advantage of the board’s quota programs in the first round have obtained a clear financial advantage.
The dissident producers and the grading stations that co-operated with them were excluded from the board’s surplus removal and fowl disposal programs, and bore the cost of disposing of their own surplus. They were vigorously attacked in their sales to other provinces and had their export and import trading with the United States killed. As the pressure on them mounted, the producers paid the cost of a wide range of lawsuits and prosecutions. Finally, with regard to the question of benefits from the board, I am given to understand that egg prices are more a function of US prices than anything else.
We are now considering legislation that would give the Ontario board and all other Ontario marketing boards the power to impose levies retroactively to at least 1974. Having lost in the courts, the government, at the urging of the egg board, is now trying to use its law-making powers to reverse that loss. In my opinion it would be both unfair and shameful if this would happen. The highest court of Canada made a judgement and it should not be possible for anyone, be they individuals or governments, to circumvent the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision. This is like placing oneself outside and above the law. The rule of the law is that a wrong should be remedied by and through the courts.
There would be no need for a legal system whatsoever if retroactivity were common practice. In my view, the legislation should not be retroactive for the following reasons: The concept here for retroactive legislation is, in part, the ordinary reaction of the loser of a lawsuit who resents the other side’s victory. Part of the reaction is personal feelings against the dissidents for failing to come in line with the majority to support a system that has proven to be extremely profitable for some producers.
Producers who supported the system while the litigation was under way did so in full knowledge that if the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the opponents, the opponents would not pay the levy. From the start, every egg producer in Ontario was told by newsletter from the dissidents and by regular announcements from their own egg board that a number of producers were not sending in the levies on their production and were contesting the validity of the levy. The majority voluntarily chose to send their levies in to support the system and to keep the support of their fellow like-thinking producers. It was the popular and easier route but dissent was a well known option.
If the board is given retroactive powers, it will undoubtedly exercise them. The breach of a board order is a criminal offence under the Farm Products Marketing Act. The retroactive legislation will permit prosecution for offences that are now beyond the six-month limitation period, creating an offence where none existed in law as of January 18, 1978. Where would a fair line be drawn in the handling of the powers that are granted here?
The real impact of retroactive legislation is not apparent on first impression. It comes down to trust in the legal system. Virtually without exception, the dissident producers have put their hopes in the legal system. They have played by the rules. There were no demonstrations, no violence, no dumping of chickens at the board’s head office or throwing things on us politicians. Every one of those acts has occurred in other commodities, in other provinces.
The dissidents chose to fight their position in the courts. They lost on a number of points but they won on two important principles: First, that the government creating the board must now accept political responsibility for the amount of the levy. In this way, the true cost of the system can be placed by the public on the shoulders of the responsible government. The dissidents believe the marketing system has hurt their product with the consumer because it has added completely unreasonable costs to their product in the marketplace and they believe that a clean line of political responsibility is important, and I think all of us should feel that way.
Secondly, the federal government has been told in clear terms by the majority of the Supreme Court of Canada that its agency cannot interfere in provincial trade through its levy and surplus removal programs. Keeping that political division clear is important to producers and to the public.
In order to establish their point the dissident producers have withheld their levies, the classic method of challenging unlawful actions by government. Offsetting this is the cost to a dissident producer of that dissent. This was substantial. The volume of litigation resulting from this position is extensive, with both CEMA and the Ontario board taking all steps open to force payment of the levy. CEMA and some of the producers had extensive litigation in the federal Court of Appeal. Every dissident producer has been sued by both the Ontario board and CEMA. CEMA and the board, of course, have supported each other.
Representations were made by CEMA to Quebec buyers from a dissident grader to cut off business with the dissidents. Very strong representations by CEMA to the Department of Industry, Trade and Commerce had to be met by continuing negotiation and threat of lawsuits but finally succeeded in cutting the dissidents out of the import program, while other graders in the system made a profit on imported eggs.
Other than withholding the levies, the bulk of the dissidents have otherwise complied with the rules, including operating at production levels which are patently unfair for some of the dissidents. As dissidents they were not permitted to fill these gaps with any of the board’s program for lease or consolidation of quotas. For example, one farm in my riding has been forced to operate at less than 60 per cent of its effective efficient capacity and has lost substantially from its farming operation.
Both the Ontario board and CEMA put the burden of collecting the levy on the grading station. If the grader was also a dissident producer or supported the dissident producer, he lost all benefits of the system for his grading station, even though as a grader he was at the same time remitting substantial levies for conforming producers who sold to him.
In the case of one grader who is also a dissident -- actually, Jack Zonneveld -- 75 per cent of the eggs graded by his station had levies deducted and remitted. Thus the board received three-quarters of the money designed to remove surplus for three-quarters of the product processed by that particular grader, but took none of his surplus. The entire station was excluded from all board and CEMA programs; its interprovincial licence was revoked; its US import and export market was killed; it was denied access to the surplus removal program; and ran into very direct aggressive board pressure on its conformist producers to stop doing business with a dissident grader. It is hard to measure the cost of these factors, but they are substantial and surely exceeded the amount of the levy.
Retroactive legislation is not necessary to protect other boards against lawsuits. If it is necessary to protect all the Ontario marketing boards for all levies collected, the legislation can simply prohibit any action in any court for a levy paid to the boards under orders made by them pursuant to the Agricultural Products Marketing Act.
The member for York South (Mr. MacDonald) in his comments last week disappointed me by the tone of disrespect he took concerning the Supreme Court of Canada, because I hold that member in high regard. He said, “Now, suddenly, those God-like creatures -- forgive me for being a little earthy in my aspersions -- changed the rules in the middle of the game.” I don’t perceive that the Supreme Court acted in any way that merits that tone. Events and precedents over several years had gradually eroded earlier decisions, and intelligent study of the law by legal counsel for the dissidents successfully argued the changes.
I suggest that this Legislature should not lightly dismiss the work of the highest court in our country. Remember, the government asked for a ruling, it says. And while the Supreme Court, in its decision on January 18, said that the provincial legislatures could enact corrective legislation, that Supreme Court did not say that retroactive levies should be proceeded with.
I can support the main principle of the bill -- the ending of confusion regarding responsibility and authority over levies, but I can’t support retroactivity in this instance, or in any other instance of taxation. The next time something else might be deemed worthy of retroactivity, of reaching back to charge, to assess, or to tax. To me, section 5 of the bill is an end-run around the Supreme Court of Canada, a dangerous step which will discourage dissent.
I have felt that dissent -- logically, temperately, and legally expressed -- is an important cornerstone of our system of justice. But Bill 48, unless it is changed, will clearly say to anyone that when you’re dealing with the province of Ontario, even when you win, you lose. Even when the Supreme Court says that you’re right, Ontario will show that you’re wrong, and dissent and the right of the minority will have suffered greatly. Such a view would disturb me immensely. I will vote against the bill unless the minister changes section 5.
Further, Mr. Speaker, in the event that the bill passes second reading, I ask that the minister refer the bill to standing committee on the understanding that dissidents be permitted to submit arguments to the committee. If this Legislature has the power to change justice then it should fairly give those personally involved an opportunity to be heard.
I further ask the minister, as a minimum, to consider compensation to the dissidents for the unusual costs and losses incurred, such compensation to be determined by independent arbiters.
I believe it worth consideration that the goal should be to bring peace to the egg-producing industry in Ontario. Punitive retroactivity may cause continued unrest in the courts for years to come. I’m sure that’s something none of us want.
Mr. Renwick: I want to deal with two matters in connection with Bill 48. I speak neither as a lawyer nor as a farmer. I, of course, have a reasonable competence in farming and very little in law.
I don’t think there’s any need to elaborate on what the member for Lincoln (Mr. Hall) has placed before the assembly with respect to the one aspect of the retroactive nature of the legislation in front of us, certainly with respect to those levies which were imposed but not collected and which were invalidated by the Supreme Court of Canada.
I think it is extremely important to say -- and that’s why I disclaimed that I was speaking as a lawyer -- that when bills are placed before the assembly to try to recover retroactively impositions which have been held unlawful by the courts and to recover them against the persons who have challenged the legislation it is repugnant to me as a citizen and I think improper for this assembly to so act.
I want to make the point very clear. I am not speaking about, and I take it no members of the assembly were speaking about, those levies which were imposed and collected. Indeed, I think it is fair to say that as a matter of law without the bill no one could have had a claim to recover the levies which have been imposed and collected.
There is an old maxim of law which simply says that money made under a mistake of law is not recoverable. Therefore, the language of the bill which deals with the imposition of those levies imposed and collected is for abundant precaution on the part of the government and would not have, in my view, given rise to a claim by anyone to have recovered those funds.
What I am speaking about is the very last part of section 5 of the bill which states “ ... and, where they were imposed but not collected, may be collected as if they had been imposed under this Act.” I believe that is the point to which the member for Lincoln has just spoken in such detail and so fully, and to which my colleague the member for Wentworth (Mr. Deans) had spoken somewhat more laconically earlier.
I want to say that on this particular issue I disagree with the position put forward by my colleague, the member for York South (Mr. MacDonald). I share in a very polite way the concern about the comment made by my colleague, the member for York South, in connection with the Supreme Court of Canada.
A very interesting fact historically, as a matter of constitutional law, is that under a federal system where the power of legislation -- that is, the power to pass laws -- is not subject to delegation by the Legislature of Ontario to the federal Parliament and vice versa, which is the cornerstone of a federal system, nevertheless it is due in large part to the ingenuity of the courts over a series of decisions over many years, which have provided a legal framework and a supportable constitutional framework for the purpose of establishing national marketing schemes that would operate both with respect to interprovincial and intraprovincial trade. Although it may go on endlessly in different fields, it does appear that this case is in fact a final definement.
I think it was very interesting that when this same reference by the government, by the Attorney General, under the Constitutional Questions Act was referred to the Court of Appeal of Ontario and the decision was given, only one of the judges of the Court of Appeal of Ontario, Mr. Justice Dubin, picked up this particular question and held that the intraprovincial levies imposed by the Parliament of Canada could not be so imposed. It is also interesting that when that matter went to the Supreme Court of Canada on that particular issue, the opinion of Mr. Justice Dubin in appeal was upheld.
Therefore, I think it is very wise to understand that in any federal system the establishment of a national marketing procedure is a very difficult and a very complicated one, in order to make certain that one doesn’t offend the constitutional setup of this country as a confederation. In that sense, I think the judges over many years are to be congratulated in working out the framework under which national marketing programs could be developed co-operatively between the federal government and the provincial governments.
But I do want to associate myself with the member for Lincoln and with others who have spoken against the retroactive nature of the imposition of those levies which have been imposed but not collected, in giving the government authority now to collect those levies.
I want now, if I may, to turn to another related matter which I believe to be of constitutional importance with respect to the very decision of the court which has brought forth this legislation to be debated in the assembly, because in a very importance sense it touches upon the constitution of the province of Ontario. I know the House will recall that my colleague, the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere (Mr. Warner), was very much perturbed and concerned that the Treasurer of the province of Ontario (Mr. McKeough) could impose a tax on the people of the province of Ontario by way of regulation in the increase of the OHIP premiums.
Of course, the Treasurer acted under authority granted by this assembly to the Lieutenant Governor in Council by way of regulation to change the OHIP premiums and therefore to raise a tax without reference to this assembly for debate. It is interesting that when the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere raised this point he recognized there were two questions involved, and the questions involved were: 1. Were the premiums taxes? 2. Could the government impose taxes by way of regulation, even though the granting authority was contained in the OHIP legislation?
I had the privilege of going with the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere to discuss this matter with Professor Laskin, the nephew of the Chief Justice of Canada, who is professor of constitutional law at the University of Toronto Law School. There appeared to be no question whatsoever in his mind that as an arguable proposition, the premiums imposed under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan are taxes, and are not some other kind of licence fee or premium at all. I think on that basis there was a supportable case to have gone to the court to have argued that one of the two questions would be decided in favour of the position put by my colleague.
But the matter fell on a second point, which was by strange coincidence decided by the case which is before this assembly in relation to Bill 48. That was the judgement of the Supreme Court of Canada pronounced on January 19 on this constitutional reference and on which nine judges sat. Five of the judges dealt with the questions related to whether or not this Legislature -- in their case, the Parliament of Canada -- could impose levies without statutory authority from the Parliament of Canada. The same two questions arose in that case: Were the levies taxes or not taxes? Secondly, could they be imposed other than by an Act of the Parliament of Canada?
I think it is important that we should understand what has happened in Ontario for our own future guidance. Perhaps we would then be able to correct what has been done, should the government at some point consider that it is wrong to be able to raise in a democracy funds to the extent that the OHIP premiums represent revenues to the province, other than by legislation of this assembly.
The sections to which I refer and are referred to in the judgement are sections 53 and 54 of the British North America Act. I want to read them into the record for the assembly. Section 53 provides “that bills for appropriating any part of the public revenue or for imposing any tax or impost shall originate in the House of Commons.” Section 54 provides “that it shall not be lawful for the House of Commons to adopt or pass any vote, resolution, address or bill for the appropriation of any part of the public revenue or of any tax or impost to any purpose that has not been first recommended to that House by message of the Governor General in the session in which such vote, resolution, address, or bill is proposed.”
By section 90 of the British North America Act those particular provisions are made applicable to this assembly, as well as to the House of Commons. I quote from section 90: “The following provisions of this Act respecting the Parliament of Canada, namely the provisions relating to the appropriation and tax bills, the recommendation of money votes, the assent to bills, et cetera, shall extend and apply to the legislatures of the several provinces as if those provisions were here re-enacted and made applicable in terms to the respective provinces and the legislatures thereof, with the substitution of the Lieutenant Governor of the province for the Governor General, and of the Governor General for the Queen, and for a Secretary of State, of one year for two years and of the province for Canada.” This simply says that section 53 and 54 and other sections are applicable to this assembly.
Therefore, we had the strange coincidence from the point of view of the argument which was being made by my colleague, the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere. It was a strange coincidence that the same questions arose in a similar context under the farm products marketing reference which was before the Supreme Court of Canada as arose in this assembly in connection with the imposition by regulation of the vast increase in OHIP premiums.
I think it is important that we understand what we did some years ago. When we gave to the Lieutenant Governor in Council the authority to establish OHIP premiums by way of regulation, we in fact amended the constitution of the province of Ontario. I refer to the narrow limit in which this decision was made by the Supreme Court of Canada, in that five of the nine judges came to the conclusion that there was no valid argument that could be made on the basis of sections 53 and 54 about the nature of the levies. I want to read that part of the judgement of Mr. Justice Pigeon when he was dealing with that question.
“The argument has been made that sections 53 and 54 invalidated the levies.” And while he makes a lawyer’s point about whether or not the matter could at this late date in the proceedings be raised, he went on to say: “However, it appears to me that the appellants” -- that is the persons who were considered the dissidents in this matter -- “are entitled to request that consideration be given to sections 53 and 54 of the British North America Act in the following manner.
“It may be contended that in authorizing a board or agency to impose and to use levies or charges, Parliament is indirectly doing what it may not do directly; namely, having a tax levied and appropriated otherwise than by means of a bill voted in the House of Commons on the recommendation of the Governor General.”
And that, of course, was the core of the argument which was made in this assembly by my colleague, the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere, to say that the government was in fact having a tax levied and appropriated otherwise than by means of a bill voted in this assembly on the recommendation of the Lieutenant Governor.
I then go on to continue the quotation from the judgement of Mr. Justice Pigeon: “In my view this attack fails for two reasons. I agree with the Chief Justice that adjustment levies, as well as levies for expenses, are not taxes.” So the first of the two arguments fell. But in the case made by my colleague, of course it would not have fallen on the basis of the opinions that we received, that in fact the premiums were taxes and not something that could be called levies or licence fees.
He then goes on: “Furthermore, if sections 53 and 54 are not entrenched provisions of the constitution, they are clearly within those parts which the Parliament of Canada is empowered to amend by section 91(1) or head 1 of the British North America Act. Absent a special requirement such as in section 2 of the Canadian Bill of Rights, nothing prevents Parliament from indirectly amending sections 53 and 54 by providing for the levy and appropriation of taxes in such manner as it sees fit, by delegation or otherwise.”
And of course if one were -- and I take the opportunity to perhaps interpolate how that would apply -- assuming that the premiums imposed under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan are taxes, then that clause would read: “Furthermore, as sections 53 and 54 as made applicable to the assembly of Ontario by section 90 of the British North America Act are not entrenched provisions of the constitution, they are clearly within those parts which the Legislative Assembly of Ontario is empowered to amend by head 1 of section 92. Nothing prevents the Legislative Assembly from indirectly amending sections 53 and 54 as made applicable to the assembly by section 90, by providing for the levy and appropriation of taxes in such manner as it sees fit, by delegation or otherwise.”
Of course, without us knowing at the time what we were about, we in fact amended the constitution of the province of Ontario. I think that amendment was wrong, and I don’t think the attention of the assembly was ever directed to the importance of the step we were taking at that time when we as a democratic assembly delegated to the government of the day the power forever in the future to levy taxes of such proportions upon the people of the province of Ontario.
I think the time must come when the government, at this opportunity and after the events which have taken place since the last budget, would be well advised to consider a repeal of that provision and the re-establishment of the basic constitutional provision and, if necessary, to entrench the provision, namely that taxes cannot be levied without an Act of this assembly and only then on the recommendation of the Lieutenant Governor, so that we will avoid in the future the problem with which we were faced.
As I say, five of the nine judges held that. Therefore, my colleague the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere was precluded on the best advice which was available from proceeding in the courts in order to have the question of the premium increase declared unconstitutional. It is, as I say, something of a coincidence that only at this point in the constitutional history of the country were we faced, by coincidence, with a decision almost contemporaneous in time with the point at which the matter was raised in this assembly.
It is interesting, if I may say so, that at some point in the future the matter may still be arguable in a very narrow sense, and I leave that to those lawyers who have the kinds of minds that can bring fine distinctions to the attention of the court, because the Chief Justice of Canada, speaking on behalf of the other four lawyers of the court, simply dismissed the matter on the grounds that the levies in the marketing case were not taxes. He simply said that he would not make a decision in this case with respect to whether or not the preconditions set out in the British North America Act were matters which could be successfully argued in the court in the event that the enacting Legislature did not observe punctiliously the provisions of the constitution of the country.
I, therefore, know that when those persons come to review the standing rules of the House which repeat in substance the provisions with respect to the imposition of taxes from the British North America Act, it may well be that the decision of the court has at this point in time made obsolete the procedure which we still follow of having recommendations from the Lieutenant Governor delivered to this assembly before bills are enacted.
It was an important and inadvertent step by this assembly some years ago to have granted that delegation of taxing power for all time to the government of the day. Were we well advised at that time that we were engaged in amending in that respect the constitution of the province of Ontario, perhaps it would have been important for us to have said no, and perhaps it would have been important for us to have seen that sections 53, 54 and 90 and head 1 of section 92 were, in fact, entrenched in proper terms in the constitution so that they could not be tampered with by the government of the day holding a majority in this assembly. I think it was important in this debate on Bill 48 to draw that matter to the attention of the assembly.
Mr. McKessock: Mr. Speaker, I am a strong supporter of marketing boards and I welcome the opportunity to rise in support of Bill 48, An Act respecting Commodity Boards and Marketing Agencies. In simple terms, this Act was put in place to correct a technicality where the Ontario Egg Producers’ Marketing Board was collecting levies from producers under federal legislation and should have been collecting them under provincial legislation.
The majority of egg producers support quotas and the marketing board system under which it is customary to collect levies to administer the board and its related duties.
As a farmer myself, I know it makes no difference to me or to the egg producers whether the levies are collected under provincial or federal legislation. I feel this issue should never have had to be fought in the courts. It was just a technicality used to fight the marketing board system by a small minority of dissident producers who also refused to pay their levies. If the legislation to allow the board to collect levies should be provincial, then the change should be made as is being done in this bill.
The retroactive part of the bill is the controversial part of it. It is going to force the dissidents to back-pay their fees which they refused to pay from the start of the egg marketing boards. I feel it is only fair to have this legislation retroactive because the egg producers agree the marketing board and quota system is a democratic system in operation because the majority of producers want it. The intent was there to collect the levies and all the farmers knew with what they were supposed to comply. Therefore, all producers must act in accordance with the interest of the majority and comply with all regulations of the board which include the paying of levies.
Mr. Roy: As my colleagues know, I don’t generally participate in a discussion of legislation which involves marketing boards or, generally speaking, the farming community. I hear a few facetious comments from some of my colleagues here. That’s not through lack of experience. I want to say to the Minister of Agriculture and Food that I date back from a long-time farming family and I know something of the farming community.
Hon. W. Newman: You would never know it.
Mr. Roy: I don’t pretend, like some other members -- and I won’t single out anyone because I don’t want to be offensive here this afternoon -- to know all of the matters or to participate in all sorts of legislation. Basically, what I do is to rely on some of our valuable colleagues in the caucus, because I think that of any caucus the Liberal caucus of this province is a true representative of the farming community.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Including northern agriculture.
Mr. Roy: And especially, Mr. Speaker, when my colleagues, such as the critic from Huron-Middlesex, take a position on legislation --
Mr. Laughren: Where is he?
Mr. Roy: He’s right here to my left. I would hope the NDP would not be blind as well as ill-informed.
Mr. Laughren: Oh, I see.
Mr. Young: He just arrived.
Mr. Roy: When he takes a position along with other colleagues who are representative of the farming community, and says that commodity boards and marketing agencies are important and something that the majority of the farming community want, I fully support it. I support my colleagues because I think they are well-informed, well-intentioned and true representatives of the farming community. For that purpose, I’m not standing here to oppose the principle of commodity boards and marketing agencies.
Mr. Laughren: Speak to the bill.
Mr. Roy: I’m here, basically, to say that my colleagues feel that these are important, that these agencies should continue to operate and should be given broad powers to be able to function to the best interests of the farming community. I support that. But I must say that the way in which the minister is going about it in relation to certain dissidents, who have used the court system to oppose these levies, has raised great concern with me.
You can understand, Mr Speaker, that it has been the tradition of this House and the tradition of parliaments generally that when we pass legislation, such legislation not be retroactive. Unfortunately, governments get themselves into situations -- and, of course, that government across the way has a long experience in getting itself into such situations -- where they are forced, because of bumbling on the parts of certain ministers and because of certain approaches taken by government ministers -- and I see the Minister of Agriculture and Food is wincing.
Hon. W. Newman: I never wince when you talk. You don’t bother me a bit.
Mr. Roy: I just want to put it on the record that you winced when I made mention of that.
Hon. W. Newman: You might do worse than wince when I get up.
Mr. Cunningham: On behalf of his colleagues.
Mr. Roy: I can tell you, had the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) been in the House, he would have done more than wince. He would have been jumping up and down. He was defeated nine-zero on a point of law in the Supreme Court of Canada because this government had exceeded its jurisdiction under the anti-inflation program and brought forward legislation in this Legislature to get authority to enter into this agreement with the federal government.
So this government has a long tradition in this area. They know what we are talking about when we get into legislation which is retroactive. However, I understand that there is certain taxing legislation which is brought in subsequent to a budget, and because of market conditions the government has to make it retroactive to a certain period of time.
I have listened to some of my colleagues in the House. I have listened to our critic, the member for Huron-Middlesex, talk about why it’s necessary that we have in this legislation section 5 for the retroactive collection of the levies which, I understand, were held in trust. I have listened to my colleague from Lincoln. I have listened to arguments from the other side. I have listened to the comments by my colleague from Riverdale who talked about the BNA Act and the difficulties there. All I can say is that, as a point of principle, I have great reservations about the approach of section 5 in this legislation.
As I understand it -- and I don’t want in any way to be confused on the facts -- but as I understand it, the dissidents challenged the authority of the board to collect these levies. They did it openly. They did it when the majority of the people who were contributing to the board were aware of it. They used the court system, a legal system. They used the system as it existed and they challenged the system. They did, in other words, something quite legal, using the judicial process, which in fact is something that we invite all citizens in this province to do when they have serious reservations about actions either on the part of a board or on the part of a government.
These dissidents having challenged the legislation right up to the Supreme Court of Canada and, on a particular point of law, having been found successful by a majority of the Supreme Court of Canada, the government is now saying that the levies which were not paid, which were held in trust -- in other words the judgement of the Supreme Court of Canada as I understand it -- the government is saying that these levies, if they were deemed to be as I read the legislation, “shall be deemed to have been imposed and collected pursuant to a regulation made under this Act,” and it goes on to say, “the levy is hereby declared to have been validly imposed or collected.”
Now basically what we are saying, or what this legislation is doing, is that in spite of the fact that one has proceeded through the whole process, through the court process, that one has done this legally, that one has been successful and has been awarded a judgement, we in this Legislature are saying that not only will those who have paid the levy be considered to be legal, but also those who have not paid the levy and have put it in a trust fund instead. We are going back and we are saying basically that we do not care what the Supreme Court of Canada says.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Besides, they keep changing their minds.
Mr. Roy: And we have a right to do this; we are the supreme body here. But, Mr. Speaker, when we go back and say to these individuals who have a judgement, the legal judgement from the Supreme Court of Canada, that in one fell swoop through this legislation this judgement no longer exists and we are picking up that levy which they withheld legally according to the Supreme Court of Canada, I have serious reservations about that approach.
This type of problem is not novel. Let me give you, Mr. Speaker, as an analogy, cases under the Highway Traffic Act. For years, people pay traffic tickets or pay fines under a particular piece of legislation, the Highway Traffic Act. Some time along the way an individual decides to challenge the legislation and he’s successful. That individual does not pay the fine. When we amend the legislation, let’s say to cover that loophole, we don’t retroactively go back and pick up the fine from the individual who was successful in court, nor are we, on the same basis, obliged to go and pay back the money to individuals who at the time legally paid their fines. What I am trying to say is that people who use the process legally, as they have, should not be penalized by us in the Legislature. Basically what we are doing is penalizing people for having done something which as citizens they have every right to do.
I appreciate there are some nuances in this that make it not quite that clear. The member for York South mentioned that the Supreme Court of Canada had changed its mind somewhere along the way. Certainly if that was the case, that is not the fault of the dissidents if the Supreme Court of Canada changed its mind. There is no reason why they should be penalized for that. It has been suggested that some compromise should be made whereby these people are reimbursed for their costs. As I understand it, if they were successful, they should get their costs anyway; they should be able to tax their costs.
I can continue with some further analogies. For instance, I can recall some time ago, after the 1975 election when it was decided to amend the Condominium Act, that at that time certain individuals who had appealed were entitled to a rebate under the legislation that we were passing then. But those people who had not challenged the assessment, who had not filed their appeal either before the Assessment Review Board or to any higher tribunal, were not allowed or were not entitled to the same benefit as those who had appealed or who had challenged the law.
Basically the approach to be taken is, when one of the courts or the Supreme Court of the land decides that a particular piece of legislation is faulty and that there was some error made in the legislative process, sure you plug up the loophole, you pass legislation; but generally speaking, as a matter of principle, you don’t go backwards and you don’t start saying that whatever was done under legislation which has been determined is illegal is deemed in itself to be illegal. I say the exceptional case where the public interest has such an overriding burden over the individual interest is the only time when we should move in the area of retroactive legislation. I suppose the best example of that is the case where individuals successfully challenged this government in its agreements with the federal government under the anti-inflation program.
I felt it important, as one who believes in equitable legislation and as one who in all aspects believes when we are passing legislation that we should stay away from passing things that are retroactive, that I should express my concern, the concern of one member here, about what is happening.
As I have said earlier and I would emphasize again, our critic and my colleagues in the caucus have said they are in favour of the commodity boards and marketing agencies; they are in favour of this legislation, and I respect that, just as I respect their judgement involving this type of legislation in many other areas. But I think, in my respectful opinion, and I say to my colleagues, that in the process of attempting to correct what may appear to be favourable to the majority, when we render an injustice to certain individuals, no matter what their economic position is, we are setting a very bad precedent.
I would hope this does not become a pattern and that we in this Legislature, when we believe in the true rule of law and the rule of natural justice, do not get ourselves involved in situations so that when people use the process legally and openly we frustrate that approach by our passing legislation in this House that would make the whole process irrelevant.
Surely we shouldn’t get involved in situations where we discourage people from using the process legally. The corollary to this is that what we are doing is forcing people to use other processes which may be more high-profile but may not be as legal.
Having expressed these reservations, I would invite members to consider seriously the extremely bad precedent involved in passing section 5 of this legislation.
Mr. Ruston: There’s been a great deal said with regard to Bill 48. Having seen some of the problems that the farm community had in the past with regard to marketing eggs and so forth, and having seen the chaotic situation there was prior to any kind of marketing legislation, I can tell you that I don’t have much alternative but to support this bill.
Many people have organizations, unions, associations -- in fact, virtually every professional person has his own governing body and so forth -- and I think the farmers are certainly entitled to the same thing. Knowing the more or less free thinking of farmers, some of them in particular -- though not all in this case are just farmers, they were involved in other business pertaining to farming -- I can realize that they are independent and they are sometimes reluctant to go along with the crowd. I guess we have that in every organization.
I think for the good not only of the farming community but for the good of the consumers of Canada, this type of legislation is necessary for the guaranteed production over the years so that we’re going to have plenty of foodstuffs available.
As far as the retroactivity of section 5 of the bill is concerned, I listen to my lawyer friends and certainly we have concern about this and I suppose if we were involved personally in some similar matter we would be concerned also. My own way of looking at it is, when the original bill was passed it was the feeling and the general intent that we were passing legislation that would give us the power to collect these dues or fees. That was the intent of the legislators at the time. I suppose we could perhaps blame it on poor legal advice. Someone else says the Supreme Court changed its mind. That’s nothing new for lawyers or anybody else. Everybody’s entitled to change his mind. They’re a different group of people and they looked at it differently.
I suppose in the United States, where the Supreme Court spends part of its time setting policy for the government instead of just making legal decisions, there’s probably different legislation because of some of its opinions. I would hope that our Supreme Court wouldn’t get to the point where it is making policy decisions but only interpreting what we put in the laws. Their interpretation of this past law was that it was not correct, so we are doing what we thought we did a number of years ago. We are only wording the law differently and we are only now righting what we did wrong a few years ago.
Our intent at that time was not that. Our intent was that we were right. Now that we’ve had a legal opinion of it, we’re only making something right that we thought was right in the first place. That’s the main concern I have. The intent of the legislation at the time it was passed was that it was proper, and it’s sad to say that this comes about, we are now only really making legal what we thought was legal at the time.
Mr. G. I. Miller: I’ve listened to this debate with great interest. As the member for Haldimand-Norfolk, I have one producer who didn’t participate in the program as it was legislated, and consequently I would like to speak, perhaps more on his behalf, because I do respect the marketing boards and what they have done for the agricultural industry.
I do feel we should control production so the farmers receive a fair share of the income, and I do want the agriculture industry to go forward. I agree with the agriculture critic; I think he has done a fine job and much research on behalf of the Liberal caucus, and he has been a great assistance to the Minister of Agriculture and Food.
However, I would like to criticize the government and the Minister of Agriculture and Food for letting this go to the point that it has. Perhaps it should have been reviewed in the very beginning and not let it go so far, because we’re talking a lot of money. For instance, in the case of the producer in my area, I think we’re talking $70,000; and that’s going to be a real hardship for him to pay back. They have gone to the highest court of our land and have won their case by pointing out that there was a mistake in the legislation. I know the intent behind the legislation. I know there may be a lot hinging on the results of the legislation being brought forth, because there are many other marketing boards that have leaned on the decisions that were made. Consequently, they could be in trouble, although I hope they will not be, because I agree that we need the boards to control the production.
I wonder if the minister has a plan if it becomes legislation, that would make the payback of money that should have been paid, because otherwise it could create considerable financial hardship. They may have already paid taxes on this money, because you do have to file your income tax on a yearly basis.
These are my concerns, and I just hope we can come up with a plan that will not put anyone out of business and we can also promote a better and stronger egg marketing program.
In my discussion with this particular member today, I pointed out my concern that they are paying nine cents a dozen. It seems like a lot of money that they have to contribute. Maybe I can be a little bit critical of the egg marketing scheme. The question comes to mind: Do they need this kind of money to operate? Again, it was pointed out that there may be a shortage of eggs this coming season. He indicated that he could use 1,000 dozen of eggs a day now. Maybe we have to be a little bit critical to get things in the right perspective so that we don’t have to import eggs. We do have the potential and the facilities here; maybe the marketing boards, run under the democratic system, have to adjust their programs so they can fill the market we have with a good-quality product.
Mr. Speaker, I want to say that I will support the decision of our caucus, but I do it reluctantly because I feel there is some injustice being committed at this time. Thank you for the opportunity of saying a few words on this.
Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, if I may make some comments on Bill 48: I want to make it clear I am supporting the bill in principle and I want to give my reasons, as well as some other views associated with the principle of the bill, before the debate comes to its conclusion.
I have not been in the Legislature for all of the debates on farm marketing legislation, but in the years that I have been here I seem to recall that with very minor exceptions the powers under these Acts have been supported unanimously by members on all sides of the House. Sometimes in committee there have been different views, but even the very far-reaching proposals associated with marketing legislation in its early days were supported on all sides.
The one I remember best perhaps was the Milk Act, which had extremely far-reaching ramifications across the province. As a milk producer at the time myself, I considered myself, not with a conflict of interest so much as being knowledgeable in the mechanics and production of the product and very much concerned with the orderliness, or lack of it at that time, in the marketing of the product.
My own constituency has a large number of very efficient tobacco farmers and this legislation once again is extremely complete and powerful to the extent that under its terms and under the authority of the marketing board, there can be surveys without warrants of the actual acreage, or the numbers of actual plants I suppose, associated with the acres. The inspectors can, with the authority of the board, destroy the plants that are growing in excess of the established acreage. Some of these provisions have been and are still seriously criticized. In my view, as a member of the House representing those areas, I felt that I could legitimately and conscientiously support those powers since as a farmer myself and representing a farming community the alternatives were simply unacceptable.
Mr. Martel: A gentleman farmer.
Mr. Nixon: I would bring to the attention of the hon. member for Sudbury East who has finally come down from the land of ice and snow --
Mr. Roy: Welcome back.
Mr. Nixon: -- that we in the last few days have cleaned out the Nixon barnyards which make the Augean stables look like a kitchen in a fine restaurant, and --
Mr. Nixon: -- we have also put in 40 acres of mixed grain. It may be that I will have to take a day or two off in the next couple of weeks to keep the work done up. I don’t know the last time the hon. member who is interjecting ever flexed a muscle, other than the jaw muscle.
But aside from that, Mr. Speaker, I do not join with those who have spoken recently, who have protested to you, sir, that they are neither lawyers or farmers and therefore have some kind of special purity. I am very proud of the fact that I am a farmer.
I am supporting this bill, although I can’t say to you, Mr. Speaker, that it is with a great deal of pride that I do so. I agree with the member for Lincoln (Mr. Hall) when he criticizes members of this House who were speaking disparagingly of the Supreme Court of Canada. It may be the inadequacies of my background, but I feel that kind of criticism -- and I haven’t heard it from the minister yet but we might before this debate is over -- is something that should be almost unacceptable in this House. It is all right for us to say, as Dickens said, “The law is a ass,” because it often is and we are the authors of it here, but I do not believe it lies within our competence to be critical of the decisions of the judges, because those are always appealable, except in the case of the Supreme Court of Canada.
In my view we do not do a service to the community or the judicial system or anything else when we indicate by our personal opinion the inadequacies of these judgements. If you have read the judgement in this case, Mr. Speaker, and I am sure you have, you see that both sides had the most excellent representation. Some of the finest legal talents in Canada were represented on the two sides of this case before the Supreme Court. There were representatives of the Attorneys General of a number of other provinces there. For any member, whether it is the member for York South (Mr. MacDonald), for whom I have a great respect, or anybody else, to get up and indicate that the judges were somehow asleep at the switch is, in my view, unacceptable. The member for Lincoln said that better than I, but I believe he was entirely correct when he said so.
After all, if John J. Robinette is there arguing for the powers of the egg board, and the Supreme Court of Canada finds against the argument, I don’t know where you are going to get better arguments unless you persuade the Attorney General of Ontario himself to go down and argue the case.
Mr. Roy: Oh hell, his record is a lot worse. He lost nine-zero.
Mr. Nixon: Well, I just simply mention that thinking that other members might want to express their views in that regard.
Mr. Roy: God help you, stick with Robinette.
Mr. Nixon: The point is there has to be some cornerstone in which we all have some faith and, whatever it may be, in my opinion we should not disparage the judgements of the Supreme Court. The hon. minister knows what happens to ministers of the Crown who do that from time to time, however justified they may be in their own circumstances. I think the law has very properly established that the court is extremely jealous of its situation and that private individuals would soon be found in contempt if views disparaging the partiality of their judgements are in any way expressed.
I wanted to state that I agree with the member for Lincoln wholeheartedly in his criticism in that regard. I disagree with the member for Lincoln, however, on another matter. I should say in parentheses I have the greatest respect for him as a friend and colleague and chairman of our caucus. In that capacity, he has to put up with more even than you, Mr. Speaker, sometimes have to contend with I would say.
I disagree with him when he says that the Legislature cannot put itself above the law, as I believe by the enactment of this statute, particularly section 5, we are not putting ourselves above the law, we are simply making the law. I do not like retroactive legislation but I believe in this instance and under the circumstances as I perceive them, distasteful though it may be, it is essential. I have a high regard for those egg producers, known in this debate as the dissidents, in the procedure they have occupied and the position they have taken through the whole controversy.
They have taken the classic and quite acceptable position, when they disagree with the law or they feel the law is not correct or the actions of an agency are illegal, of not taking the kind of action that would be disruptive but simply putting the moneys that would otherwise be payable in trust and fighting it through the courts. They have done so extremely successfully. Despite the minister’s protestations, I would suggest that he and his predecessor must bear some of the blame for the situation as it is. The minister should be careful. He knows what happened to Trudeau when he said things like that.
Hon. W. Newman: I was just having a cough candy.
Mr. Nixon: That’s what the Prime Minister said when he said “fuddle duddle.”
Mr. Roy: Let’s get that down on the record. He winced when I was speaking.
Mr. Nixon: We will be very interested to hear what the minister says, because if he sits there thinking he and his predecessor are completely blameless in this regard then I do not accept that. That simply means that the Supreme Court of Canada is made of a bunch of ninnies. If he thinks that, I’ll tell you, Mr. Speaker, I do not. If there is a ninny in the woodpile, it is not the members of the Supreme Court of Canada.
Mr. Ruston: Spell that.
Mr. Nixon: When I come to consider the situation as it is in my own mind, the justification for my support of Bill 48 in principle, including section 5, is that I was here in the Legislature when the debates took place that established the powers of the marketing board. I know it was the intention of this chamber, which is supreme in this consideration, to establish a marketing situation which did have production controls and certainly the power to levy fees of a number of types.
I am not here to debate the merits or the efficiencies of all of the marketing boards and as members will notice in Bill 48 I don’t believe egg marketing is specifically mentioned.
Hon. W. Newman: No, it is all boards that are involved.
Mr. Nixon: It’s all boards that are involved, as the minister interjects. I know for a fact, although there was tremendous controversy from one end of this province to the other in the farm community, that it was the wisdom of the elected members of the Legislature to impose -- establish is a better word -- this kind of marketing procedure whereby, hopefully in a democratic way, that is by election from the producers themselves -- and there are certain ramifications to that that we won’t go into now -- the producers would be self-regulating with the powers conferred on them by this Legislature.
That was our intention and, in conjunction with the government of Canada, the Supreme Court has found that under the leadership of this minister and his predecessor we were flawed in the legislation that we established. I know as a member participating in the debates and the votes at that time what our intention was. There are those in this House, learned in the law, and those listening who are deeply involved in this business, who would disagree with me fundamentally and completely. However, we must make our own decisions in these situations. My decision, for what it is worth, if it is worth one vote in 125, is that we can support this, distasteful though it is.
I want to say again that I simply cannot absolve the minister and his predecessor and, with respect, their advisers, for getting us into this situation. When it became apparent there was even a miniscule possibility that those people challenging this legislation had some legal substance to their challenge, that was the time for us to shore up the loopholes in the legislation rather than letting it go forward. The minister himself, with typical macho bravado, was saying we’ll take it to the Supreme Court and prove we are right once and for all. There was an alternative which in my view was more sensible, less dislocating, and frankly less expensive.
I certainly don’t like retroactive legislation, but that doesn’t mean that it is not within the reasonable powers of this Legislature so to enact. In so doing we are not setting aside the decision of the Supreme Court. We admit by this legislation that the Supreme Court was right, even though it bothers the minister to admit that they were right. But he must admit it by the introduction of this legislation, which simply says that although the Supreme Court has found against what we have done before, we now, with the power that is vested in us under the constitution, enact that during that period of time the levies must now be paid.
It is distasteful but it is in no way, in my view, a criticism of the Supreme Court. Rather it is a recognition of, and an acceptance of, the powers they have in the system that we respect completely.
I haven’t heard the minister say so, but I heard the member for Lincoln indicate and recommend to the minister that this go to a standing committee so that those people more directly involved would have an opportunity to bring forward their arguments. Certainly we shouldn’t have a closed mind when it comes to the consideration of the individual sections. There may yet be some reasonable compromise so that those people who have fought this fight, good or otherwise, and fought it successfully up until this afternoon, are not going to find, as the member for Lincoln said, that they have won all the battles but all of a sudden they lose the war. I think there can be a way whereby we can see that at least they are not penalized for the very fact that they had the temerity to say that the Minister of Agriculture and Food and his predecessor, and the whole of the Legislature, were incorrect in their enactments.
I look forward to the discussion in the committee and certainly to hearing the minister’s comments.
Mr. Speaker: Does any member wish to become involved in the debate on second reading of Bill 48? If not, the hon. minister.
Hon. W. Newman: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate the opportunity to make a few comments this afternoon on Bill 48. I must say that in my few short years here in the Legislature I have never seen a more interesting debate than on this particular bill. We have seen this afternoon and a week ago today various points of view expressed by both the opposition parties.
I think this is a healthy thing, to see different points of view; it is truly democracy at work. I can understand the concerns that some of the members opposite have regarding the retroactivity, and I think that is basically the main issue at point here this afternoon. I have listened with a great deal of interest to those learned people -- from the bar I guess I should call it -- who are as well versed in legal terminology --
Mr. M. Davidson: Is that the downstairs bar?
Hon. W. Newman: -- as Philadelphia lawyers, or whatever you want to call them, extol this afternoon certain points of law. I have many notes here from the lawyers who’ve given to me their comments on the law. I don’t intend to get into the details of that because I fully intend --
Mr. Nixon: No lawyers on your side have spoken.
Hon. W. Newman: And by the way, I am very proud to be a farmer too, don’t you forget it.
Mr. Nixon: One-time farmer.
Mr. Lane: Present farmer.
Hon. W. Newman: I fully intend to recommend that this bill go to committee in order that all those who are concerned will have a chance to express their views to the standing resources committee. I would ask your indulgence also to try and give us the opportunity, and of course that is up to the House leaders -- you, sir, and others -- to try to see whether we can get this bill brought forward, because not only eggs are involved here but there are other boards, such as the Milk Marketing Board, which are holding back levies or are having some problems, so it’s very important that we get this legislation passed. It’s not that we want to rush it through at all. We want to give everybody his say, but there are points that we should get on with discussing.
Mr. Nixon: Are the milk levies being withheld?
Hon. W. Newman: The milk levies are being held by the Milk Marketing Board at this point in time until such time as this legislation has received the appropriate approval. There are some rumblings out of Ottawa regarding the subsidy payments -- I shouldn’t say the subsidy payments, the help payments to the agricultural community in Canada, especially in Ontario, until legislation is in place. So we have some concerns about it.
Mr. Nixon: Gene will look after it; you can count on him.
Hon. W. Newman: I’m sure he will at the appropriate time. I’d like to just point out that the egg marketing board in the province of Ontario has had a difficult past.
I go back and remember, when I was not minister, when they were struggling along and borrowing money to make ends meet to try to keep themselves alive. I also remember, I think it was Judge Ross’s report, and I also remember the first egg board being brought in. I think it was after about a year and a half or two years that there was a vote among the producers regarding an egg marketing board here in Ontario and I believe it passed by about 88 per cent of the vote.
I’d also like to point out that legally, up until the day the decision was handed down, the court cases had indicated that levies were collectable. We had no reason to think they were not collectable. Several members mentioned the fact that we should have anticipated this and brought in certain legislation.
When the case first started, the government referred the case to the Supreme Court of Canada so, in effect, maybe the dissidents did not really win their case because we wanted to get a ruling from the Supreme Court of Canada so that we could deal with this.
I’d like to refer you to Hansard of the other day, and the comments by the member for Huron-Middlesex (Mr. Riddell) where he said: “The Ontario government had every reason to believe that the former decision of the Supreme Court could well be altered due to the decisions which had been made on the three cases which were tried since the Crystal Dairy case.”
This is just simply not correct. The egg reference case first went to the Ontario Court of Appeal. That court clearly upheld the validity of the levies on the basis of the Crystal Dairy case. Mr. Justice MacKinnon wrote the judgement for the majority of the court.
Mr. Roy: Was it unanimous?
Hon. W. Newman: In the appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, Chief Justice Laskin stated that MacKinnon’s reasons were correct, the Ontario Court of Appeal could not overrule or ignore the Crystal Dairy decision, but Laskin then pointed out that the Supreme Court of Canada could overrule Crystal Dairy and then, of course, as we all know, it did just that.
Mr. Roy: Was the decision unanimous at the Court of Appeal level?
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Roy: Sorry.
Hon. W. Newman: I would also like to go on and point out that the member for Huron-Middlesex said: “The minister should have stated his intention that he would introduce legislation to make the collection of levies legal if the Supreme Court found them to be otherwise.” That’s a very interesting comment to make. I agree that it’s very unwise of any government to make any such statement. It’s impossible to anticipate precisely what decision a court will make in a case as complex as this one was.
It’s quite possible that the court could have ruled the levies invalid on some other basis that would have been impossible for the provincial government to correct. In any event, surely no one is entitled to assume that the government will stand by and allow its system to collapse because of the technical court decision if there is any way in which corrective legislation can be brought forward.
I’d like to point out to you, Mr. Speaker, and to members of the House, that this comes from a very learned gentleman who was sitting down here a few minutes ago, and his interpretation of the decision was that the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada contemplated that retroactive legislation would probably be necessary.
Mr. Roy: Yes, okay; but not for the ones who get paid.
Hon. W. Newman: I would just point that out. There are a few things that I’d like to talk about, Mr. Speaker, and I know the hour is getting on, but I would point out that of the 900 and some producers in this province, about 900 of them believed in the egg marketing plan we had here in the province of Ontario and supported it with their levies. There were approximately 20 dissidents, if you want to call them that, who decided they did not believe in that particular system. I have no objection to that; if they believe they don’t like a marketing system, they are entitled to their beliefs. But when 900, out of say 924 producers in this province paid their levies and brought about an orderly marketing system for eggs, not only in this province but in Canada, from what was chaos a number of years ago, then in all sincerity I have to say that sometimes we have to look at those who made it work.
I would point out that in the last year, in the cost-of-living index, the eggs that were produced in Ontario caused a reduced cost of living in this great province of ours; that shows you how efficiently and how well the egg marketing board is working.
Also, the producers who withheld the levies had some benefits from the plan; through that period they had stable prices for their eggs and in most cases profitable egg prices. I wouldn’t want to go on and mention -- I have pages of notes here -- but when the dissidents did take the risk of challenging this legislation, they must have known that I believe in orderly marketing and in marketing boards in this province. They must have known or had some idea in their mind, when they challenged this particular piece of legislation, that we were not going to stand idly by and see orderly marketing and marketing boards be hurt. As hon. members well know, I introduced a piece of legislation last year because of another Supreme Court decision; we can never be sure when decisions are going to be changed and we must be prepared to act on them. As I say, those producers did enjoy the advantage of the fair price they got for their eggs and probably reaped the profits of the egg marketing scheme when they sold them; although I have been told by some they lost money on their operations; and that may be so.
I would like for a moment or two to deal briefly with some of the comments of some of the members, rather than getting into a long discussion.
As I said before, as far as we were concerned and based on the comments I read from previous court cases, they had every right to collect those levies up until any decision was made; but I also feel very strongly that they should be able to continue to collect these levies and the ones that weren’t paid.
The member for Huron-Middlesex quoted very eloquently from Mr. J. J. Robinette. It was a good statement. The agricultural critic for the New Democratic Party spoke very well also. I was almost surprised but I was pleased to bear his comments when he said the democratic process was at work.
I don’t want to bring in a note of anything that is other than pleasant, but I must note that the member for Huron-Middlesex pointed out that I was playing political games when I brought in this bill. I must say, I brought this bill forward after a great deal of consideration and after a great deal of discussion.
Mr. Nixon: There must have been a lot of discussion.
Hon. W. Newman: As the hon. member well knows there was.
Mr. Nixon: I think the hon. minister should have the Attorney General (Mr. McMurtry) here to tell us the minister is doing the right thing.
Hon. W. Newman: As the hon. member well knows there was a lot of discussion.
Mr. T. P. Reid: Does he agree?
Hon. W. Newman: The Attorney General is fully aware what I am doing today. Anyway, I would just like to point out that there are no political games being played here. We have a producer board in this province which thought it was collecting in an appropriate way; I still think it should be allowed to collect its levies in the appropriate way and thus we have the legislation before us today.
I have already touched on the remarks of the agricultural critic of the New Democratic Party, the member for York South, and I certainly have to agree that the rights of the majority from time to time have to be looked at as well as those of anybody else.
I was interested to note the various members who were supporting the bill and those who did not support the bill. The member for Lincoln has, I know, very sincere thoughts, and he put them forward. He went into the history of the egg marketing board to some degree and the problems they have. I have a lot of respect for Mr. Zonneveld too; he’s a hard working individual. It was pointed out that he used to peddle eggs from door to door; I did the same thing when I was a young person, and there was no board in place in those particular times. I used to sell mine from door to door too. I used to take about 20 cents a dozen in those days.
I want to point out to members that the boards --
Mr. Nixon: You could get them for 15 cents at Loblaws in those days.
Hon. W. Newman: I thought the member supported the local stores in his area. Does he mean he does all his shopping in Toronto?
It was interesting to hear the various members talk about it. I realize that one of the things not mentioned was on the retroactivity part of it. There is a possibility that if we don’t have that retroactive part in the bill -- and I will leave this for the lawyers to discuss when we get into committee -- some legal actions could be started because of the fact that other levies which we deem to be legal at this time could present some legal problems.
Mr. Roy: No, no; no way.
Hon. W. Newman: There are lawyers and there are lawyers. I realize the member is very actively involved in litigation these days.
Mr. Nixon: What kind have you got that didn’t foresee this?
Hon. W. Newman: When we see him in the House, we do appreciate his arrival here occasionally. The member asked for that, I’m sorry --
Mr. Roy: I tell you, we have been more right on this side than you have been on your side.
Mr. Speaker: Order, order.
Hon. W. Newman: I’m sorry, I don’t want to cause any controversy. We’ve had enough in the last two days in the House here. Just in winding up on Bill 48 --
Mr. Bradley: It’s called quality representation.
Hon W. Newman: -- we are supporting Bill 48 in its present form. As I said earlier, I want to take it to the standing committee so everybody can have his input. I think it’s a good bill, I think it’s good legislation. In winding up, I want to say that I support marketing boards for the orderly marketing of farm products in this province, as well as my government which stands behind me on this particular legislation.
Motion agreed to.
Ordered for standing committee.
HIGHWAY TRAFFIC AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Snow moved second reading of Bill 42, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act.
Mr. Cunningham: The Liberal Party will support this legislation. It is in keeping, I believe, with some feelings that members of the select committee on highway transportation of goods certainly have with regard to the problems of out-of-province vehicles, more specifically trucks. Certainly I think it reflects the view of the senior people within the ministry.
I recall during the course of the estimates last December the assistant deputy minister, I believe, making some comments to the effect that they were concerned about vehicles coming from the United States. We have no objections, although several of our members may want to comment on it, I am not sure.
Mr. Philip: We are in support of this bill. There is not under the present procedures any method of exercising enforcement in Ontario with respect to those vehicles that have operating authority from outside the province. A number of us as members of the select committee on the highway transportation of goods heard a number of complaints from Ontario carriers that they were being unjustly treated or harshly treated in other jurisdictions, and that similar kinds of actions for adequate enforcement were not carried out in Ontario.
I find it interesting to note that either on the same day that the minister introduced this bill for first reading, or perhaps it was the day after, he answered a question from the member for Cornwall (Mr. Samis) followed by a supplementary question from me in the same general area; that was April 17 in Hansard. At that time the minister indicated that certainly he wasn’t going to take any strong-handed actions in regard to trucks coming in from Quebec. Suddenly then he is introducing a bill which certainly is a bill which we advocate, and I am sure incorporates the action the member for Cornwall was advocating when he asked that question. Therefore, we will support the bill. Unfortunately, the minister didn’t seem to realize what he was introducing on the day he introduced it, but we’re glad it’s come at this time.
Mr. Ruston: I would like to speak briefly on this bill. I see in the explanatory notes about the right to take vehicle plates off out-of-province trucks and vehicles. One of the things that’s interwoven in this legislation, which I will be brief about but which I think has some bearing on it, is the reciprocity agreement the minister has signed with states in the United States so that trucks can bring produce into Canada and then return to the United States and either take goods from Canada back to the United States or pick up goods in states in the United States on their way back to wherever they may be going.
The thing that concerns me in this is that the intention of that reciprocity agreement was that goods coming from packing houses and so forth in the United States, fruits and vegetables, as I understand it, these would be coming direct from the farm to a place of unloading in Canada. It so happens that the majority of these fruits and vegetables come from the farm in the United States to a packing house or a warehouse where they are then reloaded on to trucks and sent to Canada. The problem is that they are coming in over the border and into Ontario with nothing other than just a commercial plate on their trucks.
They do not have a PCV licence to carry the goods from the border to the place of unloading in Ontario. This is one of the concerns I have about this reciprocity agreement where it gives the power to the minister and officials to take plates off vehicles; whether that’s going to cover that particular situation, I’m not too sure about that.
I have one trucking company in my own area that hauled 1,800 loads of these fruits and vegetables from the port at Windsor where the operator went and picked them up because the vehicles were not properly licensed to come into Ontario. That was in 1978. In 1975 and 1976 he hauled around 1,000 loads, but the business has increased considerably. Most of these loads are from Mexico and California.
What happens, I can speak of one particular area, is that a trucker from Indiana goes to California and picks up a load of fresh fruits and vegetables. He comes into Ontario and unloads them probably at Toronto. He goes back to Indiana and picks up a load of some other item and then goes back to California. He’s not in effect hauling anything out of Canada.
I’m sure you would agree, Mr. Speaker, that of the fruits and vegetables that are going back and forth 80 per cent are coming into Ontario and not going out. I’m concerned that the reciprocity agreement is going to be a one-way street. Goods are going to be coming in but very little will be going out. This is the concern I have. I don’t know whether the minister will be able in his reply to answer some of my concerns.
Mr. Renwick: I will be speaking against the bill and will be voting against the bill on second reading. I’m sorry, I’ve got the wrong bill.
Mr. Speaker: Does any other member want to get involved in second reading of this bill? If not, the hon. minister.
Hon. Mr. Snow: I have very few comments to make on this bill. It’s quite a brief and simple amendment that was recommended by the select committee on trucking. It is an amendment that had to be part of the Highway Traffic Act rather than the PCV Act which contains most of the amendments or recommendations of the committee. I won’t take too much time to reply to the member for Etobicoke. I would point out, though, that he’s a month out in his dates. The bill was introduced for first reading on March 16, and the questions he’s referring to were only a week or two ago.
Mr. Philip: Point of order, Mr. Speaker. The point that I was making was that the minister was not aware of a bill that he had introduced for first reading by way of the answer that he gave in the House, which happened to be a few days later. In fact, the minister has even said that it was a month later. Therefore my point is valid.
Mr. Ruston: A point of view.
Hon. Mr. Snow: That’s a point of view. I’m not so sure it’s a point of order or a point of anything else. I assure the member I was very aware of this legislation, but it has nothing to do with the questions that were asked.
Mr. Philip: Then why didn’t you talk about it?
Hon. Mr. Snow: With regard to comments of the member for Essex North, I understand what he is referring to quite well. It would perhaps be better if we discussed that when we get to the bill that I introduced today, which actually relates to --
Mr. Cunningham: “When” or “if”?
Hon. Mr. Snow: I said “when.” I fully expect that we will be debating that bill two weeks from today.
Mr. Philip: Do you want to beat the federal government to an election?
Mr. Speaker: Order. The hon. member for Etobicoke has already spoken.
Hon. Mr. Snow: The reciprocity agreement, of course, is with regard to reciprocity for vehicle licence plates. We have reciprocity with -- I believe it’s up to 10 states now, with two more states perhaps very near finalization of negotiations. The select committee recommended the introduction of reciprocity agreements with the United States and we started implementing them just last summer or early last fall when we signed the first agreements. This does have some complications with regard to the regulation of the hauling of fruit and vegetables within the province, but I’m sure we’ll discuss that at greater length when we get to the amendments to the Public Vehicles Act
As to whether there is more produce coming in than going out, I wouldn’t doubt very much but that this is the case. I would point out that the reciprocity applies to our Ontario operators who are now able to travel into many of the United States without having to purchase licences, not only public commercial vehicle operators, but also operators of public vehicles. Many of our charter buses and this type of thing can now travel without additional fees. I think our reciprocity agreements are working quite well, although they do bring about this complication in the regulation of fruit and vegetables which are an exempt item in the United States. But we’ll discuss that more in the other bill.
Motion agreed to.
Third reading also agreed to on motion.
HIGHWAY TRAFFIC AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Snow moved second reading of Bill 22, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act.
Mr. Cunningham: My party will be supporting this legislation, although it may be somewhat controversial, especially the second section. It’s my understanding that possibly other members of the Legislature may want to see this go to committee. I have little concern really whether it goes to committee or not.
Basically the bill, as I see it, clarifies the time period for obtaining plates in the province of Ontario, and I think that clarification is certainly worthy of our support. I have some concern that possibly people are coming into this province from other provinces or from the United States with improper vehicles, and maybe not having automobile insurance. This is, I think, an area of difficulty, especially as far as administration for the ministry itself is concerned, in so far as it has been very difficult to enforce some of our regulations when the plate authority is from another jurisdiction. I must say that this abuse of our insurance laws is a rather serious problem, especially when some of these vehicles are involved in accidents.
I would think that the contentious aspect of this legislation, which is somewhat summarily explained as self-explanatory, is section 2. This section provides that the minister may require that a condition for issuing a driver’s licence be that the applicant have a photograph on the driver’s licence. I have discussed this with a number of people. I know that there are a lot of people who may have some reservations in so far as the civil liberties aspect of this particular part of the legislation is concerned. I think that some time ago I too may have had similar reservations, but with the amount of abuse that may be going on with regard to the theft or loss of licences, it may be warranted.
Certainly there are problems with the use of the driver’s licence for purposes of identification in establishments that serve liquor. There have been instances of tampering with licences and abuses with regard to insurance. I think this is a small concession a driver or a potential one can make with regard to the protection of all of our rights as individuals, and to the elimination of bureaucratic red tape that the ministry officials may be involved in as a result of the theft or loss of a licence.
I would think that the enactment of legislation requiring photos would serve the driving public, especially, very well in quick identification when necessary with the police. It also may become a great advantage to those of us like myself who from time to time may want to cash a cheque and require some identification more sufficient than many legislators have.
Mr. T. P. Reid: They’ll take Chargex, you know.
Mr. Cunningham: If you have Chargex.
I would offer some suggestions to the minister in this regard, though. It says here that the minister is concerned about equipment provided by the ministry. I think that the equipment must be uniform, must be standard. He also must see that the card that will be provided is non-tamperable and cannot be fooled with in any way.
I would suggest to the minister that possibly this is an area for private enterprise involvement. Specifically a number of companies -- I see the member for Peterborough (Mr. Turner) shaking his head, and I know there are a number of companies -- Kodak and Identicard in Ontario being just two -- that have the equipment that may be distributed to the private sector to see that these types of machines are used. That is an area possibly that the government might consider.
The probationary aspect outlined in section 3 is a good idea. It reflects I think a feeling that the members of the Legislature have. Certainly, the select committee on highway safety came to appreciate it -- that is, that driving in Ontario should be appreciated as a privilege. I think we on the select committee on company law studying automobile insurance have come to appreciate the difficulties that we are having with our drivers is primarily with our new drivers -- not necessarily younger drivers but new drivers. The probationary aspect of the licence is, I think, something that we should be considering.
The aspect of licensing car lots, garages and repair shops is an interesting one. I think it is very valid in view of difficulties we are having with stolen vehicles, the sale or fencing of stolen parts and, as well, the necessity for recognizing the legislation we have for mechanical fitness. It is somewhat ironic that the government is at this time recommending rather stringent regulation, accompanied by rather stringent penalties, in this particular area, yet is at the same time attempting to deregulate a large segment or element of the trucking industry. It seems somewhat paradoxical in that particular regard. In committee, I may have some reservations about that particular section.
The last section I would comment on would be section 5 which clarifies who or who may not have or operate a red light on a vehicle. That’s somewhat straightforward and certainly would cause some relief, I suppose, for those of us who do travel on the QEW and see these red lights behind us and then find out they do not belong to an official of the law enforcement branch at all but to somebody who has gone out and purchased a red light and put it on his vehicle.
Mr. Nixon: I never feel that apprehension.
Mr. Roy: There are those of us who follow the law who don’t have that problem.
Mr. Cunningham: We won’t get into who does and who doesn’t at this time. I happen to know of a few fellows who --
Mr. Ruston: Have a heavy foot.
Mr. Cunningham: -- were served with a rather small summons. I know that is a matter of great contention in certain households among certain constituents of mine, especially in the rural areas around my area.
Mr. Nixon: I don’t like driving through your constituency.
Mr. Cunningham: Let that be a lesson to people who drive through my constituency. With those remarks, I would conclude.
Mr. Philip: I rise in support of the bill. We would like to deal with it clause by clause, however. Therefore, rather than hold up the bill, I would leave my comments to the individual clauses. I am in general support of the statements made by the previous speaker, the Liberal transportation critic, and I would like to deal with them on a clause-by-clause basis.
Mr. Ruston: I too am in support of the bill. An interesting point about the bill is that I spoke in the House about nine or 10 years ago on probationary licences. There were urgings on some sides and in some places that the driving licence age be raised to 18. Having a large family in my home, I never did agree with that because it served as a real asset to have someone of the age of 16 able to drive and not be tied down all the time when I had other work to do.
At that time my philosophy was that I would agree with a probationary licence because I thought it was not necessarily right that everyone could drive a car. He must be able to prove his ability. Since then, all five of my own family have got over the age of 18 without any difficulties.
I have a great deal of respect for those who drive at the age of 16 but I think the probationary thing is ideal. If we find someone who is not adhering to the regulations and not driving properly, then we would have the right to remove his licence because of the probationary period. That is one thing I am certainly glad to see in the bill. I guess it takes time because I am sure it was nine years ago that I discussed it in the House.
Mr. Renwick: I intend to speak against the bill and to vote against the bill on second reading because of the provision in section 2 related to the authority to be granted to the minister with respect to photographs on drivers’ licences.
I think it would be appropriate to indicate the exact terms of that section of the bill and then I want to make some remarks in connection with it. In section 2 of the bill we are being asked to add a subsection to a provision in the bill stating that the minister may require as a condition for issuing a driver’s licence that the applicant therefor submit to being photographed by equipment provided by the minister. Let me say at the outset I will be speaking on occasion about the police in the remarks that I want to make. I want to make it very clear right at the beginning that I am not in any sense talking about the police power when it is qualified in accepted and usual ways. The accepted and usual ways are the ways indicated in section 153 of the Highway Traffic Act, which states that a police officer or a constable “may on reasonable and probable cause” do such-and-such in relation to the enforcement of the statute. Nor am I concerned should there be a provision anywhere in the Act which says that the police officer “has reason to suspect that ... ”. I have no problem with the enforcement of the laws of the province, be they federal laws enforced in Ontario or be they provincial laws, with respect to police powers when this assembly passes them and when it has those words which are hallowed by tradition in front of it with respect to the action which a police officer may take against a citizen of the province.
I want to make that clear so there is no misunderstanding about the arguments and the propositions I want to put before the assembly when I urge the assembly not to adopt this bill so long as it contains the provisions which I have quoted, which are contained in section 2 of the bill. So I am going to repeat it: I am not concerned about any provision of the bill which is prefaced by any of the words which says a police officer “on reasonable and probable cause” or “on reasonable and probable grounds” or “has reason to suspect,” which is a somewhat step-down provision but which at least requires the police officer to exercise a decision before he takes an action which affects a citizen of the province.
What I am concerned about is that there are already in the Highway Traffic Act three provisions which give the police officer, the constable or other person charged with the enforcement of the Act, the authority to stop a person in a motor vehicle and require, in substance, that person to identify himself or to be subject to a police inspection without any qualification. It is an absolute right of the police and from time to time, in order to meet what appeared to be social needs, provisions have been introduced which have none of the protective provisions in them. I want to refer specifically, of course, to the two sections relating at the present time to drivers’ licences, which are in section 14 and section 17 of the Highway Traffic Act. There is no need for me to read both of them because they apply in the one case to drivers’ licences and in the other case to chauffeurs’ licences.
Those provisions state that every operator of a motor vehicle shall carry his licence with him at all times while he is in charge of a motor vehicle and shall produce it when demanded by a constable or by an officer appointed for carrying out the provisions of the Act. Section 14 and section 17 carry that bald statement. That, in my judgement, means that a police officer can stop a vehicle and require the owner to produce his permit even though the driver or operator of the vehicle is about his lawful occasion.
I’ll go back to what I said at the outset of my remarks. I am not talking about situations where the police officer has reasonable and probable grounds to believe that an offence under the Highway Traffic Act, or any other offence, is being committed. I am talking about the absolute right, or in Hohfeldian terms privilege, which had been granted to the police officer to stop any operator of a motor vehicle and require him to produce his permit. They’re the two sections, section 14 and section 17, which contain identical language.
Then I want to refer to the other section of the Act, section 55 of the Highway Traffic Act, which again gives that kind of absolute right to a police officer or other person engaged in the enforcement of the Act to require a person to submit to examination. Let me just quote that:
“Every constable and every officer appointed for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this Act may require the driver of any motor vehicle or motor-assisted bicycle to submit such motor vehicle or motor-assisted bicycle, together with its equipment and any trailer attached thereto, to such examination and tests as the constable or officer may consider expedient.”
Then there are further provisions with respect to the unsafe nature of the vehicle and the steps to be taken in order to require examination. I have no concerns, particularly, about unsafe vehicles on the road. I want to again reinforce what I have said, that the provision in section 55 of the Highway Traffic Act gives, in my view, an unimpeded right in a police officer to stop a vehicle and to require an inspection of that vehicle. Again I point out that there is no provision in there with respect to having reasonable and probable cause to believe that the vehicle is unsafe, or having reason to suspect that the vehicle is unsafe, or having reason to believe that the vehicle is unsafe. It is an untrammelled right in the police constable to stop any vehicle and to require that the examination take place.
Then, in relation to automobiles on the highway and the enforcement of the Highway Traffic Act and the requirements of insurance, there is a further provision in section 3 of the Motor Vehicle Accidents Claims Fund Act, which provides in the same manner that “the owner of a motor vehicle who operates or permits the operation of the vehicle on a highway shall, upon the request of a constable or an officer appointed for carrying out the provisions of the Highway Traffic Act, produce evidence that (a) the vehicle is an insured motor vehicle or (b) the uninsured motor vehicle fee has been paid in respect of the motor vehicle.”
Again, I would like to point out to the assembly that I am not speaking about any provision of the Act which relates to having reasonable and probable cause to believe the vehicle is uninsured or does not have the document which satisfies the requirement that the fee under the Motor Vehicle Accidents Claims Fund be paid. It is an absolute right granted to the police officer to stop the vehicle on the highway and to demand production of evidence of insurance or evidence that the fee has been paid under the Motor Vehicle Accidents Claims Fund.
We are being asked, and everybody agrees -- and I have no disagreement or argument with the present provisions of the Act -- that for registration purposes there should be the regulation of motor vehicles on the highway through the driver vehicle permit operation and the licence operation.
I do wish my colleagues would conduct their conversations some other place.
Mr. Hodgson: Clean them out, Jim.
Mr. Renwick: We are now being asked, in addition to the requirements as I have outlined them presently in the statute, with which I have significant disagreement, to say that the driver’s permit issued under the Highway Traffic Act will contain the photograph of the person to whom that licence has been issued. I take exception to that, I object to that, and that’s why I am opposed to the bill.
Let me go back a little bit as to what we are talking about when -- disguised as permission to the minister to require the photograph to appear on the driver’s permit -- we appear to be simply passing an innocuous amendment to the Highway Traffic Act. It is not, and I say this to my colleagues in the assembly, it is not an innocuous provision. If one analyses what has happened throughout the world, and we are not immune to what has happened in other jurisdictions, the criterion for identification purposes in a police state, and I use that term advisedly, is either a photograph or fingerprints or a combination of the two.
I want to rebut the argument that will be made, I am sure, that because we already are required to have a driver’s permit in order to operate a motor vehicle in the province what does it matter if the picture is added to it. What does it matter if the picture and the fingerprints are added to it? It matters to me, and I say that this assembly should call a halt and members should be careful to make certain they understand what they are doing when they pass a requirement which is equivalent to requiring an ID card from everybody in the society.
I know some people will object that it doesn’t require it from everybody in the society. I do want to point out that if it doesn’t require it from everybody in the society in the first instance, it certainly requires it from a very high percentage of people in the society. We had occasion to deal with the statistical information in the first report of the select committee on company law dealing with automobile insurance. There are now in the province of Ontario, as at the end of 1976 -- I do not have the figures for 1977 because they are not yet available -- but at the end of 1976, there were something over 4,300,000 persons in the province with a driver’s permit, who are licensed to drive in the province. I would assume at the progression which has taken place in the number of people who have been authorized to drive in the province that at the present time I am relatively accurate when I say that we are talking about four and a half million people in the province who are required to have drivers’ licences.
I would assume that I am not very far off when I say that the population of the province is about eight and a half million people at the present time. It was 8.2 million in 1975. When we looked at the figures in 1975 and made the split between male licensed drivers and female licensed drivers, it is something in excess of 85 per cent of the males in Ontario over 16 years of age who have driver’s licences. So far as women are concerned, in 1975 it is about 55 per cent. So there is an average across the province of at least 70 per cent of people who will, if this legislation is passed, and if the minister so desires, be required to carry a document which has their picture on it in a way determined by the ministry. That document will become the equivalent of an identification card.
Someone might say, “Oh well, this is not a universal provision that everybody must have an identification card.” I say that’s nonsense. If about 85 per cent or more of the males in the province are required to have their picture on an identification document which must be produced to the police under the provisions of the Highway Traffic Act to which I referred before, firstly to prove that they have got the document; secondly to prove that their vehicle is not in an unfit condition; or thirdly to establish that they have the adequate insurance coverage; then you are really giving carte blanche to the police, disguised as highway traffic regulations, to require a citizen to identify himself to the police when that citizen is about his lawful occasions.
I would like to go back to what I consider are the first principles of what we are talking about, but Mr. Speaker, since it is about 6 of the clock, perhaps you could permit me to continue at 8?
Hon. Mr. Snow: Mr. Speaker, I believe we wanted to adjourn this debate at this time prior to --
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Not to continue after?
Hon. Mr. Snow: No.
Mr. Foulds: It is my understanding, Mr. Speaker, that we will continue with Bill 31 at 8.
On motion by Mr. Renwick, the debate was adjourned.
The House recessed at 5:58 p.m.