The House met at 10 a.m.
Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, prior to statements, might I direct your attention and that of the honourable members to your gallery where we have a distinguished parliamentarian from the state of South Australia. He is the Honourable D. W. Simmons, chief secretary and minister assisting the Premier of the South Australian government. With him is his wife, Mrs. Simmons, and his research officer, Miss Terese Wacyk.
Mr. Speaker, I would draw to the attention of yourself that he is a man remarkably like you, because in that government he fulfils the equivalent in ours of the Solicitor General, the Minister of Correctional Services, the Minister of Government Services and the Chief Auditor and as well is Dr. Stewart and Clare Westcott.
Mr. G. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, might I also draw to your attention that this is a very important day in the lives of some of us in this Legislature. This is our first year here and it is our anniversary. I see some of my newly-elected colleagues here. I would like to thank the remainder of the colleagues I have met in this past year for the great learning process they have given us. At times I didn’t think we would make one year.
Mr. Breithaupt: The Premier (Mr. Davis) is out celebrating.
Mr. C. Taylor: I would like to thank all the members here for giving us this learning process.
Mr. Foulds: There are not many of them.
Mr. Sargent: In another year, you will be over here.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: During the estimates of my ministry last November, I indicated I was reviewing the Dow Chemical case in an attempt to bring this matter to a reasonable conclusion in the best interests of all concerned. I further stated in the House on March 3 that the fishermen, who were the persons most affected by the mercury pollution, should have the opportunity to settle their claims. At the same time, I should point out that the government’s action did not include the claims of the individual fishermen who were separately represented.
Dow Chemical of Canada Limited has now settled the claims of the fishermen and has obtained releases from them. In view of the fact that the fishermen have now settled their claims --
Mr. Warner: You haven’t settled one claim in Erie county.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- I have accepted the recommendation of Mr. J. J. Robinette, QC --
Mr. Warner: You haven’t got one penny.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- who has been handling the litigation for the government, that the case against Dow Chemical Company of Canada Limited should not be continued further.
Mr. Nixon: Did you ask his advice before you started?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: It is my view that there have been substantial benefits achieved by the institution and prosecution of this action.
Mr. Warner: Nonsense; you have achieved nothing.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I would like to review briefly --
Mr. Foulds: Louder, louder.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- the history of the initial discovery of mercury pollution --
Mr. Nixon: You can’t win this one.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- the benefits which have been achieved as a result of the commencing of the action, and the facts on which the recommendation of Mr. Robinette is based.
A recognition of the likely cause of poisoning from eating fish contaminated with mercury first occurred in Sweden.
Mr. Kerrio: You might have given the fishermen your lawyers’ fees,
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: In the late 1960s, Swedish scientists determined that inorganic forms of metallic mercury were being converted to methyl mercury, a highly toxic form of mercury, by bacterial action in bottom sediments of lakes and rivers. They showed, also, that the methyl mercury was being concentrated in fish and other organisms in the water.
The significance of the Swedish studies initially was either not appreciated by or brought to the attention of regulatory authorities in Canada and the United States or the operators of chloralkali plants in Canada and the United States.
Mr. Roy: Another PR exercise down the drain.
Mr. Kerrio: You’d better get to the polls before you lose everything.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: When this information did come to the attention of the Ontario Water Resources Commission in 1969, an intensive program was started immediately --
Mr. Kerrio: You might have divided the legal fees among the fishermen.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- to determine which industries were using and discharging significant amounts of mercury in their wastes. The pulp and paper mills and chloralkali plants were known to be using mercury in their processes. These were examined first and the government ordered these companies to take immediate steps to reduce mercury losses to the environment.
One of the largest of the chloralkali companies was Dow Chemical of Canada Limited which operated two plants in the Sarnia area and used large quantities of mercury. The Dow plants were surveyed in August and September of 1969 and instructions were given to the company on the need to make changes in operational procedures to substantially reduce losses of mercury which had been discharged since Dow began chloralkali production in 1949.
Fish samples were collected from the St. Clair River and Lake St. Clair for mercury analysis. Results of the analysis, which indicated high levels of mercury in the fish, were first obtained in March 1970. At that time an order was given to the chloralkali and pulp and paper companies to eliminate mercury losses to the environment. Shortly thereafter, Dow had reduced its mercury discharge to the St. Clair River from in excess of 30 pounds a day to less than one pound a day. Mercury is no longer used at Dow’s Sarnia plants. At a cost of some $40 million the company has converted to other processes which do not use mercury.
Very little was known in North America about the methylation of mercury and methyl mercury in fish prior to the late 1960s. As a result of the commencement of this action, research in this area has occurred at an intensive level.
Mr. S. Smith: You sure scared them.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: One beneficial result has been an increased knowledge of mercury and its effect on the aquatic environment, and the development of a high level of analytical expertise by scientists of the Ministry of the Environment laboratory here in Toronto.
Mr. Nixon: They haven’t been able to get rid of much of it.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: This expertise is invaluable in dealing not only with mercury pollution --
Mr. Roy: Where’s Darcy, Roy?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- but also in determining the effects of other heavy metal pollutants on the environment.
Mr. S. Smith: Had it not been for that lawsuit I suppose there would have been no research.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Furthermore, as a result of this government’s action regarding Dow Chemical of Canada Limited --
Mr. McClellan: George Kerr didn’t know about it.
Mr. Foulds: Where is George Kerr today?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- other industries faced with a mercury problem have been required to accelerate pollution control measures. For example, of the six mercury-cell chloralkali plants operating in Ontario in 1970, only one remains in operation today. This plant, at Cornwall, has developed its processes and controls to the point where it is. consistently satisfying federal discharge regulations, which are the applicable regulations in that area. In addition, the Dow action has resulted in publicity concerning the toxicity of mercury compounds in fish throughout the St. Clair system and in other areas of Ontario. It is reasonable to assume that this publicity has protected the health of persons who might otherwise have eaten larger amounts of fish from that area.
Mr. S. Smith: And a $35-million lawsuit.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: In the initial stages of the mercury problem, and at the time the action was started, the gloomy forecast was the possibility that the fisheries would be closed for at least 50 years and perhaps for ever.
However, the continued monitoring of mercury levels in fish in the St. Clair system has provided encouraging results. A report issued by the Ministry of the Environment in May 1977, entitled The Decline in Mercury Concentration in Fish from St. Clair, 1970- 1976, concludes as follows:
“The mercury concentrations in all species of fish from Lake St. Oak have declined significantly since 1970. In general, the concentration of mercury in fish from Lake St Clair is less than half of what it was in 1970.
“If present trends continue, most common sizes of most species should have mercury levels below the current federal guideline of 0.5 ppm within the next five years.
“The application of stringent controls on the Dow Chemical Company’s chloralkali plant in Sarnia by the MOE ... in 1970 and the subsequent decline in mercury available for biosynthesis, along with the transport of mercury-laden sediments out of the St. Clair system by natural processes, has been responsible for the decline observed in mercury concentrations in fish.”
Mr. Robinette, who as the members know is one of Canada’s most eminent trial counsel --
Mr. Nixon: Why didn’t you ask him before you got started with the action?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- has indicated that the Dow Chemical case is the most complicated civil action in which he has been involved.
An hon. member: He says that all the time.
Mr. S. Smith: That usually indicates a very big bill.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: In the light of the encouraging report in the decline in mercury in fish, and in view of the settlement of the claims of the individual fishermen, I recently reviewed with Mr. Robinette the advisability of proceeding to a trial which would be very protracted and enormously expensive.
Mrs. Campbell: How long has this been going on?
Mr. Kerrio: It’s $1 million later that you’re talking about.
Mr. S. Smith: Another seven years.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Robinette’s opinion in relation to the legal aspects of the case is briefly as follows: Although there is evidence of poor control of wastes in Dow’s operation prior to 1969, there does not appear to be any evidence of negligence --
Mr. Sargent: The Attorney General is giving them a licence to pollute.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- or lack of desire or purpose on the part of Dow’s management to control waste following the revelation of the mercury problem to Dow in the summer and fall of 1969. Dow apparently became aware of the problem of methylation of mercury in sediments and the creation of toxic methyl mercury in fish by May 1969, at a meeting with the Ontario Water Resources Commission staff. The question, of course, is whether Dow should have appreciated, prior to 1969, that it was dangerous to discharge metallic mercury in the St. Clair River.
Mr. S. Smith: That’s not the question. The question is the damage to the fisheries.
Mr. Rotenberg: Wait for the question period, Stuart.
Mr. Turner: You’re a great doctor, but not much of a lawyer.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Although there had been European studies prior to 1969 with respect to the methylation of mercury and its buildup as methyl mercury in fish, these studies were apparently not known either to regulatory authorities in North America or the chloralkali industries, including Dow.
Mr. S. Smith: The Attorney General will put them out of business by doing what he is doing.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Research into the toxic effects of mercury by the Chlorine Institute, which was initiated by the late 1950s, dealt almost entirely with the effects of mercury vapour on health. When Dow became aware of the methylation problem, it acted quickly to rectify the loss of mercury into the St. Clair River and, as previously indicated, has spent $40 million to alleviate the problem of mercury pollution.
Mr. S. Smith: That’s the least they could do.
Mrs. Campbell: Would it have been different if they had spent only $4 million?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Robinette’s opinion is that the government’s case against Dow, based on negligence, is weak simply because until 1969 the danger of discharging mercury into the St. Clair River was not known by either the chloralkali industries or the regulatory authorities in Canada or the United States.
On the claim of nuisance, the theory of the government’s case is that any person who discharges any foreign substance into waters does so at his risk, and there is some authority to support this proposition. On the other hand, there are other authorities which indicate that the foreseeability of harmful consequences is relevant to liability based on nuisance. As to liability based on nuisance, Mr. Robinette advises that the government has a reasonably arguable case but by no means a clear one.
Mr. Robinette’s unequivocal recommendation is to discontinue the action against Dow Chemical.
Mr. S. Smith: It took him eight years to give you that opinion?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: It is based on the very substantial cost of continuing this action, the uncertainty as to certain evidentiary and legal problems, the encouraging reports of the decline of mercury levels in fish, and most important, the fact that the fishermen who are the persons most affected by mercury pollution have settled their claims on the advice of their own legal counsel.
Mr. S. Smith: Oh, sure.
Mr. Kerrio: The Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. W. Newman) is right beside you, he will make it retroactive for you.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I am advised that the settlement by Dow to the fishermen amounted to a quarter of a million dollars, and as well, Dow has agreed to make a payment of $150,000 to the Ontario government towards the cost of continuing studies of water quality in the Great Lakes --
Mrs. Campbell: Oh, dear me.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- which as a matter of interest, exceeds the legal and consultant disbursements incurred by the government.
Mr. Bradley: Conscience money.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: As Attorney General, I had to consider the benefits which the case has accomplished -- and these are considerable -- the settlement of the claims of the fishermen --
Mr. S. Smith: You sold them down the St. Clair River.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- and the advice received from one of Canada’s most distinguished legal counsel related to the substantial cost of the trial with the probability of appeals lasting for several more years before a final determination would be made.
Mr. S. Smith: It was your idea.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: It should also be pointed out that, in the context of the benefits accomplished by litigation, the fact that counsel is of the opinion the government’s provable damages would not exceed $1 million even if totally successful and the costs of a lengthy trial plus appeals with an uncertain outcome, did not warrant the expenditure.
Mr. Mackenzie: You should have done that five years ago.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: These considerations resulted in my conclusion that the continuation of the action against Dow Chemical of Canada Limited would serve no further useful purpose and, therefore, the action will be discontinued.
In summary, the substantial benefits achieved by this action are as follows:
One, the intensive level of research which has increased our knowledge of mercury and its effect on the aquatic environment.
Two, the development of a high level of analytical and statistical expertise by scientists in the Ministry of the Environment laboratory.
Three, the development of a data base for mercury in fish in Ontario which would otherwise not have been obtained and which will be invaluable in determining the effects of other heavy metal pollutants and organic compounds on the environment; plus the payment of $150,000 to the further study of water pollution.
Four, other industries faced with mercury problems and other pollution problems, as a result of our action have accelerated pollution control measures to the point of eliminating completely the use of mercury or severely curtailing the discharge.
Mr. Warner: If Dow played hockey you would get tough with them.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Five, Dow Chemical of Canada Limited shut down its plant in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and has eliminated completely the use of mercury from its chloralkali plants at Sarnia at a cost, as I have already mentioned, of some $40 million.
Mrs. Campbell: Say that again?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Forty million dollars.
Six, the action has enhanced publicity concerning the toxicity of mercury compounds and has had a beneficial effect of pointing out the dangers to persons who eat contaminated fish.
Seven, there has been a progressive and substantial decline in the mercury levels in all species of Lake St. Clair fish studied.
Mr. S. Smith: Thanks to the lawsuit.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: That’s right, thanks to the lawsuit. And it is estimated that within five years the most common sizes of most species will have mercury levels below the current federal guidelines.
Mr. Breithaupt: Did they ever tell you a story.
Mr. S. Smith: Must have given you a high profile to the environmentalists.
Mr. Peterson: Who wrote that for you, Roy?
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Hon. Mr. Drea: I wish to inform the house --
Mr. Roy: Try to pick up the pieces around here, Frank.
Mr. Turner: Did you miss your train, Albert?
Mr. Speaker: When the Premier (Mr. Davis) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. S. Smith) finish their little tête-à-tête, we will listen to the Minister of Correctional Services.
Mr. Conway: The Premier read Norman Webster and he’s not happy.
PAYMENT BY INMATES
Hon. Mr. Drea: I wish to inform the House that it is the intention of my ministry to require persons serving intermittent sentences to pay a portion of the cost of housing them in correctional institutions.
At the present time approximately 425 individuals a week are serving intermittent sentences in correctional institutions. More than half of this number are being accommodated at the Mimico Correctional Centre, with the remainder being held in jails and detention centres across the province. Many of these individuals have been convicted of alcohol-related offences, such as impaired driving. They have been permitted by the judiciary to remain in the community in order to work at gainful employment during the week. They complete their sentences on the instalment plan by spending consecutive weekends at correctional facilities until the total sentence has been satisfied.
As honourable members will be aware under the ministry’s temporary absence programs, carefully selected inmates are also permitted to work at gainful employment in a community during the day, returning at night to a correctional facility. Participants in the temporary absence program help to support their families, pay taxes and are required to pay $35 a week towards the cost of maintaining them in an institution.
In most instances where intermittent sentences have been handed down by the courts, the main reason for allowing the person to remain at home during the week is to protect him or her from losing a job. It is my contention the person granted the opportunity to serve an intermittent sentence in order to retain a paying job should be treated in the same way as the inmate granted temporary absence to work at gainful employment. In other words, the person on intermittent sentence should be required to contribute toward his board in a correctional facility.
Effective July 7, all offenders serving intermittent sentences will be required to pay $5 for each full day served in an institution or $10 for the weekend. An exception will be made for full-time students attending secondary schools, colleges and universities. They will not be required to contribute toward their board.
This new policy is in keeping with the ministry’s desire to see offenders accept responsibility and to provide relief to the hard-pressed taxpayer who must bear the cost of operating correctional institutions. It is anticipated that this practice will bring in approximately $200,000 a year. This policy is also designed to complement other legislation being introduced by the government to deter drinking drivers.
In short, the days of the free ride are over and it’s now pay as you go.
Mr. Roy: Was that a free ride to Brampton last night?
Mr. S. Smith: I have a question for the Attorney General regarding this dreadful settlement which has been imposed on the fishermen of Lake St. Clair.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: That is nonsense.
Mr. Foulds: What do you do if they don’t pay? Lock them up?
Mr. Roy: That’s what they said. They said you threw in the towel.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: The difficulty with the Leader of the Opposition is that he can’t determine from day to day whether he is John Barrymore or Hamlet. What has Harold Greer decreed today?
An hon. member: You scuttled their claims, you didn’t settle them.
Mr. Foulds: On a point of order, he is Lady Macbeth.
Mr. S. Smith: I think I would prefer Hamlet because I have detected something rotten in the state of Denmark.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Don’t involve us with Denmark, we have enough problems. Take an interest here, never mind Denmark.
Mr. S. Smith: It smells a bit like rotten fish.
Could the Attorney General answer some questions?
On page nine of this carefully printed and very expensive retreat he said: “Counsel is of the opinion that the government’s provable damages would not exceed $1 million.” It is my understanding that the government sued for $35 million. Do I take it that $35 million was a number picked out of the air? Was it simply achieved at random? Was it designed for a maximum impact with environmental groups?
What did the $35 million mean, if counsel thinks the only provable damages were $1 million?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: The provable damages today as compared to the time the action commenced may or may not be two very different things. Of the $35 million, $10 million was the estimated cost of dredging the bed of the lakes and river. Everybody agrees now that although that was probably something that should be considered as a possible cost at that time, it would be most unwise to expend that $10 million, but it was included in the original claim --
Mr. Roy: That is not what the then minister (Mr. Kerr) said in 1972. He said we were going to dredge it.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- as it should properly have been included. As I also indicated in the statement, the original forecast for that body of water was very gloomy. Originally, it was anticipated that it would be at least 50 years before the water would be returned to the state where it would be safe to eat the fish. As I indicated in the report of March 1976, the original gloomy forecasts proved to be unnecessarily so. As a result of actions taken the forecast is a much more optimistic one. As I said, it would be within five years. Consequently, the damages are substantially less.
Mr. S. Smith: Supplementary: Even by the minister’s own figures the fishery has been destroyed for some 13 to 15 years before we can even hope that it might return. The fishermen have been without a livelihood during that time. How could the minister possibly encourage them to settle for a quarter of a million dollars, $5,000 per fisherman per year? What is he able to do now for these fishermen to help them to relocate in other industries? Is he going to meet the millions of dollars that basically have been lost as a consequence of this whole industry going down the drain due to pollution? Whether they knew anything about mercury or not is surely not the issue; they have destroyed an industry.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: They didn’t. Most of what the Leader of the Opposition has said in his question is simply not factual. First of all, we did not encourage or put any pressure on the fishermen to settle. As a matter of fact, the solicitor for the majority, I think 35 out of 37 of the fishermen involved, Mr. Leon McPherson in Windsor, had advised the association of fishermen some time ago that he didn’t think they had a provable case in court.
Mr. Renwick: That they couldn’t afford it, either.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: In fact, as recently as this morning he has advised my office that if it hadn’t been for the fact that we had kept our action outstanding, the quarter-million dollars that his clients received would, in his view, not have been obtained in court.
Ms. Gigantes: Some law, eh?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: That happens to be his view and that happens to be factual.
Mr. Nixon: It’s not factual if that is only what he thinks.
Mr. Roy: The lawyer said you threw in the towel.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: The other lawyer who is quoted in the press, a Mr. Taylor, had commenced an action on behalf of two of the fishermen, and it was his choice to settle.
Mr. Roy: He said you threw in the towel. You let him down again.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: If anybody threw in the towel, I am sorry, it was his decision whether to continue or not.
Mr. Roy: It was the government.
Mr. S. Smith: Why did you drop the suit, then? Why have you dropped the suit?
Mr. Renwick: I was really quite amazed this morning when the Attorney General was shouting at us. It reminded me of the saying of the bishop who leads the black nationalist movement in Rhodesia about “a toothless dog barking loudest.”
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Is that what we are going to hear now?
Mr. Renwick: By way of a supplementary question, will the Attorney General do two things for me: Will he now admit the total inadequacy of the laws of the province of Ontario to protect persons who suffer damage by the activities of such companies as Dow Chemical; and will he table each and every legal opinion, internal or external, that his ministry has ever received on this question since it was originally instituted?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: The answer to the first question is that I will certainly not make any such admission, because it would be totally misleading to do so. Secondly, the most comprehensive legal opinion, that is in writing was received from Mr. Robinette. I might say that when the member’s kissing cousins in Ottawa are in trouble, he’s the fellow they invariably turn to.
Mr. S. Smith: The polluter must pay.
Mr. Nixon: Talk about a toothless dog.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Mr. Speaker, I don’t know what our distinguished guests are going to think of the performance of these people. They might appreciate why they have been in the wilderness for so long.
Mr. Nixon: They are not going to think much of you.
Mr. Stong: They are not as naive as you think they are.
Mr. Sargent: They will appreciate how arrogant you are.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I had a letter from Mr. Robinette last fall that I think includes all of the relevant legal advice --
Mr. S. Smith: This has been going on for eight years. What about earlier opinions?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Will you just be quiet for a moment, please?
Mr. Speaker: Order, order. The Leader of the Opposition has had the original question and a supplementary.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: In order to assist my friend from Riverdale I am happy to provide him with a copy of this legal opinion -- or, indeed, the members of the House.
Mr. S. Smith: That is not what he asked for.
Mr. Sargent: A supplementary to the minister: In view of the fact that over the years I understand there have been very substantial donations to the Conservative fund by Dow Chemical --
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Nonsense.
Mr. Sargent: -- I would like to ask the minister -- I would suggest to him that the fee for Mr. Robinette was more than the fine. What was Mr. Robinette’s fee?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: The total legal fee charged by Mr. Robinette was something just under $15,000.
Hon. Mr. Davis: That’s what you make, Albert, in a day in Ottawa.
Mr. Roy: Fifteen thousand dollars? You’ve got to be kidding.
Mr. Foulds: I wonder if the Attorney General could let us know -- would you just be quiet for a few minutes, please? -- could he let us know if, as a representative of his government, he is satisfied that the settlements arrived at by the fishermen through their own process, separate from the government, is a satisfactory one in terms of the amounts of damage they have lost from their livelihood?
Is the government giving any further consideration to giving additional compensation to those fishermen in view of the totally inadequate amounts they have arrived at? Finally, could I ask the Attorney General why he has estimated that the recoverable amounts are less because the dredging of the river bottom and the lake is considered inappropriate when his government and the federal government have recently come to an agreement to explore that very same possibility in the English-Wabigoon River system?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: The answer to the last question first: That is the advice that we have from the environmentalists, that it would be inappropriate.
Mr. Foulds: Why is it inappropriate?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Secondly, so far as the wisdom of the settlements of the fishermen who are separately represented is concerned, it would be most improper of me, as the Attorney General, to second-guess or comment on the legal advice they received from their own counsel.
Mr. Mackenzie: It would be appropriate to see justice done.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: It would be highly improper for me to do so. I can repeat what I’ve already said about Mr. McPherson’s opinion that pending any final resolution of our action, he assisted his clients in recovering an additional $250,000 which, in his view, they would not have recovered had they proceeded to court. And there was some $500,000 in forgivable loans received by the fishermen who were affected, from this government I believe, and approximately an equal amount from the federal government.
Mr. Roy: If I may ask the Attorney General, who’s just furnished us an opinion which I have just started reading, dated October 19, 1977, from J. J. Robinette: Accepting the fact, and without being derogatory at all to the government’s counsel, and accepting his competence and his wisdom back in October 1977, how is it, in view of this opinion, that the government would launch a $35 million suit without having obtained comprehensive legal opinion? Did the government have an opinion at the time it launched this action in 1971 or was it merely a PR exercise?
This opinion talks of $10 million to dredge the river, which appears to be something that is unwise now. Can the minister explain the statements of the then Minister of the Environment (Mr. Kerr) back in 1971-72 in telling this Legislature that the $10 million was needed to dredge the river -- and that’s what they were going to do?
I’d finally like to ask the Attorney General, in view of this opinion in 1977 and his statement here today, isn’t it obvious that when the Premier made statements back in 1971 that they were serious and weren’t fooling with pollution, that that was basically a PR exercise?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I’d just reply that’s total nonsense.
Hon. Mr. Davis: That’s exactly it.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: It may be for partisan political purposes --
Mr. Nixon: That’s why it started.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- partisan and to some extent mindless -- you might understand that word, “mindless” -- that I reviewed in some detail what has been accomplished by the institution of the lawsuit. To try to tie in the settlement of the fishermen and the further contribution of Dow as the only result produced by this litigation is just nonsense.
Mr. Breithaupt: We didn’t say that.
Mr. S. Smith: You should. Did you have the legal opinion when you started? That’s the question.
Mr. Roy: Did you have the legal opinion?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: I’ve set out in some detail the benefits obtained by this litigation --
Mr. Warner: Say it right out. It’s a failure. You blew the whole thing.
Mrs. Campbell: Answer the question.
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: -- and these benefits have been very substantial, very substantial.
Mr. Roy: Did he have the legal opinion when he started?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: Of course, we had legal opinions.
Mr. Roy: Let’s see it.
Mr. Speaker: Order. The Leader of the Opposition with his second question.
Mr. Roy: You wouldn’t table that opinion in 1971, eh?
An hon. member: Did you miss your plane, Albert?
Hon. Mr. McMurtry: No.
Mr. S. Smith: It took six years to get a proper legal opinion?
Mr. Roy: It’s obvious, it was a PR exercise.
Mr. S. Smith: Table the earlier one.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Does the Leader of the Opposition have a second question?
HEAVY WATER PRODUCTION
Mr. S. Smith: Yes, I have a question. I will venture back into the area of energy, if I might. I have a question of the Minister of Energy.
Mr. Nixon: Did you ever see the Tories looking worse?
Mr. Roy: We’re not fooling around these days.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I suspect you are.
Mr. S. Smith: Could the minister explain why Hydro allowed the pooling agreement with AECL to go by the boards? Let me amplify that slightly because I don’t want to get into the problem we had yesterday.
Understanding there might have been an increase in the price of heavy water, because of the inefficient plants from elsewhere that would be part of the pool, nonetheless, is it the minister’s opinion that, had we stayed in the pooling arrangement, we would at least have had a guaranteed buyer for our heavy water? Was the reason for getting out of the pooling arrangement, and giving up that option, simply one of price or does it relate back to the opinion given in 1974 by Hydro that it was “unsuccessful” in its attempt to ensure supply by the extension of the agreement?
In other words, was it just a question of price, or was it the fear that by staying in the pool our heavy water would go into the pool but then we wouldn’t be able to get it back for our generators? Which one was it?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: It was something of both. We should recall that in the heavy water production program in this country, as in other countries through the --
Mr. Mackenzie: You’ve toned it down. Somebody must have talked to you last night.
Mr. McClellan: Be your usual unpleasant self.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: -- through the 1960s and the early 1970s, the overriding concern was shortage. There was a real fear that there would not be enough heavy water produced.
Mr. Mackenzie: It’s simply because the House leader is back.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: There were very few plants in the world producing it and those which had been established were showing very poor performance, as we indicated yesterday. The overriding characteristic in the pooling agreement that evolved out of the 1960s and terminated in December 1977 was concern that there would not be enough heavy water for Ontario Hydro’s own purposes. I suppose they felt they had to protect themselves first.
It was also, as you have indicated, a matter of cost. Ontario Hydro felt they could produce for less than the others and if they pooled their heavy water they were going to have to pay the average cost which, of course, was higher. Those were really the two reasons.
My impression, in talking with the officials of Hydro and with Atomic Energy of Canada, is there was a consensus that the agreement should be allowed to terminate. It was only set for a decade anyway. The whole thrust now, as we have tried to do in our statement and as we have tried to point out in our submission to the federal Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources is that we are going into a new phase, a new stage. We now know that we can produce heavy water and produce it efficiently. What we are looking forward to is an integrated, comprehensive rational, national heavy water production and marketing scheme.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: We are in a new era with a new look and we are trying to push this thing forward. With the tremendous advantage of hindsight, it is always easy at this point to say: “Why didn’t you make arrangements to get on with this two years ago or a year and a half ago?”
Ms. Gigantes: Last year.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: With the advantage of hindsight, it is easy to criticize but at that point that’s not the way the situation looked.
Mr. S. Smith: By way of supplementary, given the fact as the minister says, of the advantage of hindsight, it looks as though we gave up a guaranteed market and have a situation where we are now going to find ourselves in serious surplus supply. We gave that up in favour of security of our own supply as well as certain price considerations. Clearly the wisdom of that decision can only be judged, as he says, with hindsight and knowing what the premises were at the time the decision was made.
Mr. Speaker: There is no question yet.
Mr. S. Smith: Mr. Speaker, in all fairness, this is a difficult issue. I am getting to it.
Hon. W. Newman: You still make statements every day.
Mr. Speaker: You still should be able to know how to ask a question.
Mr. S. Smith: I know how to ask a question but this is a pretty complex issue.
Mr. MacDonald: You go on for 10 minutes and we are cut off after half a line.
Mr. Roy: That proves you don’t know how to ask a question.
Mr. S. Smith: The question, therefore, is why does the minister feel there are bits of information available to him now about the surplus possibilities that were not available to Hydro when it made the decision in the first place, given the fact that there has been no change in the number of reactors planned since at least February 1976? Surely the surplus situation must have been obvious then, had they bothered to look at it.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: I think perhaps it might be useful if I were to repeat two sentences out of the letter of April 14 from the chairman of the board of Hydro to me which was tabled in this House. This talks about their forecast or their view of the possible shortages of heavy water. It is very vague, I can tell the honourable members.
I am reading here from his April 14, 1978, letter to me. I will read the whole paragraph so that we will understand it better. “For the most part this letter has dealt with the consequences of the load forecast on generation programs up to 1987, but it is also necessary to deal with the consequences after that date” -- after Darlington, in other words, is on stream. “An analysis of the modifications that may be required is now in progress.” I had a report of this yesterday. They are now going through their detailed analyses.
He continues: “These will involve considerable revision to the in-service dates for uncommitted generating stations” -- in other words, those generating stations that at one time were foreseen to come on stream or to be built after 1987 -- “as well as in the amount of heavy water that will be required.” In other words, this whole thing looks beyond 1987.
There were at one time three or four generating stations planned. Among them, there were probably three or four nuclear stations. There is a big question now as to whether, after Darlington comes on stream, there will be one or none or three; or whatever. We don’t know. If there is a cutback at that time, and that study is going on right at this moment --
Ms. Gigantes: If there is a cutback, how long does it take you to see it?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: -- obviously it has implications for heavy water requirements after 1987.
Ms. Gigantes: That’s the answer?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: I can’t really give more details at this point because that study is still under way. We are going to be getting it, I hope, in a few weeks’ time.
Ms. Gigantes: Supplementary: Isn’t it true that the plans for generation of heavy water were based on a plan for installation of nuclear generating stations that had a new nuclear station being in place and on stream every 15 months into the future? Wouldn’t that have made Hydro and the Ministry of Energy suspicious long before now about the production of heavy water?
Regarding the minister’s outline of the position to be taken with the federal government, in our attempts to shuffle our way back into some pooling arrangement for marketing heavy water, if the federal government doesn’t agree, what bite is there to the minister’s bark? Or else what, Mr. Minister?
Mr. Roy: We all know he’s a paper tiger anyway.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: You should go back to your law practice. It’s going bankrupt, I hear.
Mr. Roy: You don’t like it when I’m around, eh?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: I hear you’re in financial trouble. Albert.
Mr. Yakabuski: He’s always up there on Friday, anyway. I don’t know why he’s playing hookey today.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: You’d better get back home.
Mr. MacDonald: You’d do better to answer the question.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Please, I’m trying to answer the member for Carleton East.
Ms. Speaker: Order, order. Just answer the question.
Mr. Roy: What a display.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Up until now, Ontario Hydro has never considered the possibility of selling heavy water, overseas or in Canada, on its own, without going through Atomic Energy of Canada Limited.
Ms. Gigantes: What about the schedule?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: However, there is no law to say they cannot do it.
Mr. Foulds: Answer the question.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: It could well be that unless we get the support from the parties opposite, the federal government may take a very hard line and say, “No, the La Prade plant is going to supply the heavy water for export.”
Mr. Roy: And you will run back here.
Mr. Mackenzie: In other words, you have no teeth.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: We may find ourselves in a somewhat difficult situation.
Ms. Gigantes: You’re going to need that support.
Mr. Roy: That’s right. All bark and no bite.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: However, the point I was trying to make yesterday is that if we stand together in this House -- even your kissing cousins --
Mr. J. Reed: This is the worst blunder in the history of Hydro.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: -- I would suspect the federal government would not dare to say Ontario Hydro cannot export heavy water and that only La Prade will do that. Once the party opposite hears from its trade union members that they may lose their jobs in Ontario, then I suspect that it too will support us. Okay?
Mr. Mackenzie: You’ve got terminal senility over there.
Mr. J. Reed: The minister has stated that the reasoning for ploughing ahead at the time was there were no other organizations in North America that had the capability. It would appear on pages eight and nine --
Mr. J. Reed: -- that in 1974 the Ontario Energy Board had advised an independent review of the heavy water supply requirements and Hydro had responded that it was not necessary, for the reasons outlined by the minister at that time.
I would like to ask the minister if there has ever been an independent review of the heavy water requirements, and if so, would the minister tell us when it was done and table it?
Ms. Gigantes: No, there was none.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Other than the Ontario Energy Board having taken a look at it, and the select committee which has, I suppose, taken a cursory look at it, there has not been an independent review.
Ms. Gigantes: I rang the alarm bells four years ago.
Hon. W. Newman: Oh, stop that over there.
Ms. Gigantes: Four years ago we were ringing the alarm bells.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: I wouldn’t rule out this possibility at all. As a matter of fact, the one thing we suggested to the federal minister in a letter of a few weeks ago was the time had come for us here in Canada --
Ms. Gigantes: It’s passed. It’s passed. The horses have gone.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: -- to take a very systematic and close look at the whole question of heavy water production and marketing. The time has come for such a review and I support it 100 per cent, but we’re moving into a different and a new era.
Mr. Mackenzie: You’re a disaster.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Port Arthur with his first question.
Mr. Sargent: Mr. Speaker, there are thousands of jobs in my riding affected here and I want to speak on it.
Mr. Speaker: We’ve spent 24 minutes on the first two questions.
Mr. Sargent: Thousands of jobs and he makes it look like peanuts.
Mr. Yakabuski: Welcome back, Eddie.
Mr. Speaker: The member for Port Arthur.
Mr. Foulds: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a feeling that it is Friday morning and things are a bit fractious. I’d like to ask the Minister of Energy a new question with regard to --
Mr. S. Smith: Darcy doesn’t even know what he’s talking about.
Hon. W. Newman: What side of the fence are you on, Stuart?
Mr. Nixon: You don’t believe that
Mr. Speaker: Order, order.
Hon. W. Newman: Oh, come on, Stuart.
Mr. S. Smith: How about discounts?
Mr. Speaker: Order, order.
Mr. S. Smith: Never heard of them.
Mr. Speaker: We’ve been from 10:20 to 10:49 on two questions.
Mr. Sargent: We should take all day on this one.
Mr. Speaker: That isn’t a fair allocation of the question period, having regard for the interests of all members.
The member for Port Arthur with his first question, without interruption, please.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Minister of Energy a new question with regard to his statement on Monday about nuclear waste disposal.
Can the minister indicate whether there is a formal, signed agreement between the federal and provincial governments, or whether there are letters of understanding, and would he be willing to table those documents, or what documentation does exist? I ask that question in view of the fact that members of the Geophysical and Geological Association of Canada have indicated that the two-year period that is set aside in the timetable in his statement for the examination of the rock of the 1,600 sites is totally inadequate in terms of examining the properties of that rock, because much of it has never been examined at all. Would that elongate the timetable for that part of the program? Would he consider that and does that affect the total program?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: First of all, to answer the first part first --
Mr. McClellan: Why not just answer it?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: -- the joint statement serves as the basis of our agreement, and there is an exchange of letters of understanding; they’re very brief.
Mr. Foulds: Will the minister table them?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: As far as the second part of the one question is concerned, the observations made by members of the geological society, or geophysical society, was it?
Ms. Gigantes: Geophysical, it is called. Get to know them.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: I think the honourable member is referring to a report that appeared in the press this morning or yesterday. I think it emanated from Thunder Bay. That’s where they had a meeting, apparently.
Of course, I have not seen the full text of that statement but, as we go ahead in this program, I would not only think but I encourage and make sure that scientific bodies like that are consulted and that their points of view are made known. I think that the scientists who will be working for us in this with Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, with our ministry, and with Ontario Hydro, should be in touch with other scientists in the country --
Ms. Gigantes: Paid scientists -- paid by the nuclear industry.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: -- but I think it’s rather dangerous, on the basis of one press statement, to assume that is what the scientists did say. I’d like to see the full text.
Ms. Gigantes: They are objective.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: In connection with that, the other day we were talking at length about this report that came out from the United States Geological Survey, and it was quoted as if it were holy writ. I now have a copy of it. It is rather interesting to see that the preface says: “Because the authors are confident that acceptable geological repositories can be constructed, this paper should not be construed as an attempt to discredit the concept of geological containment” --
Mr. J. Reed: Go on and read the rest.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: I’ll read the rest, sure -- “or the work done in the 1960s and early 1970s. However, the earth science problems associated with the disposal of radioactive wastes are not simple, nor are they completely understood. The main weaknesses in geological knowledge noted in this report warrant a conservative approach” -- which is what we’re getting in our whole plan, and I’m not playing with words there --
Mr. Kerrio: We know what we’re getting.
Mr. J. Reed: That’s what I asked for.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: -- “a conservative approach to the development of geological repositories in any medium.” That’s our whole concept. That’s the way we’re approaching this subject.
Mr. J. Reed: It is not complete and the minister knows it.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Anyway, I can only promise the member opposite that the views of these scientists that have been expressed are going to be fully explored; we will meet with them, and if they can convince our scientists that they have a point, then I think we can adjust our program.
Ms. Gigantes: Your scientists are paid by the nuclear industry.
Mr. Foulds: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Would it not be fair to ask the minister if he could table the evidence that he has and that has been given to him, that the two-year period is a sufficient period? Does he not think that in a matter as controversial as this it would be much better to do as I believe has been recommended by the AECB in recent months, and as was one of the Flowers recommendations with regard to the process in Britain: have the research done by an independent body such as possibly the Geophysical and Geological Association, rather than having it done by AECL, which -- and I don’t want to use a pejorative term -- does have a vested interest in that it is a producer and exporter along with Ontario Hydro?
Mr. Warner: Just say yes.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: I will certainly have any relevant material tabled, because basic to the success of this whole exercise is full disclosure and public discussion of all documents and all aspects and sides to the story.
Mr. Sargent: Mr. Speaker, in view of the unbelievable revelations that the competitive heavy water plant in Quebec, La Prade, now under construction, could cancel the hundreds of millions of dollars --
Mr. Speaker: Order. The original question dealt with the disposal of nuclear waste, If you have a supplementary along that line, would you please put it.
Mr. Sargent: No, I don’t.
Mr. J. Reed: Mr. Speaker. I would just like to ask the minister when is he going to table the documents and make full disclosure? We expected to have, for instance, the tabling of the document on the pooling agreement today. Where is it? Where are all these documents?
Hon. Mr. Baetz: The pooling agreement document is already a public document. It was filed with the Ontario Energy Board hearing a few years ago, so it is available there.
Mr. J. Reed: You promised to table it.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: However, in response to the member’s request yesterday, which I have dutifully tried to follow through on, I did have a copy of the pool agreement in my office this morning and I was about to bring it over and table it just for him, for his weekend reading. Then I found one of the attachments was missing, and I surely did not want to have the member feel that I was tampering with these documents. So I hope he will get that document on Monday.
Mr. Foulds: Final supplementary, Mr. Speaker: If the minister is not prepared -- I wasn’t quite sure from his answer -- if he is not prepared to go the full route and have an independent agency do the research plan that is outlined, is he prepared, in view of some of the mistakes that we have seen, with hindsight, made by Hydro and AECL, to find some additional government funding for groups such as the geological association to do independent research, which, in fact, would be well spent in terms of allaying fears? I am particularly curious about the research that might be done not only about the drilling but the transportation, which I understand is Ontario’s responsibility under the agreement according to a statement and which --
Mr. Speaker: The question is too long.
Mr. Foulds: -- Hydro has not been involved in.
Hon. Mr. Baetz: Mr. Speaker, I’m sure the honourable member opposite would understand that because there are really two partners in this now, the federal government and the provincial government, it would be premature for me in this House at this moment to give a direct yes or no answer to his request. I think in fairness to our partner we have to discuss this question with them, but certainly I will convey to them the point he has been making here and take a look at the appropriateness and the feasibility of it.
Mr. Foulds: Mr. Speaker, I have a Friday morning question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. I wonder if the minister could confirm statements made in an article called Snip, Snip, Drool, Drool, by Rone Base in Quest magazine about an agency that comes under the minister’s jurisdiction, the Ontario film censor board? Could he confirm the practice that the board makes a film from all of the clippings that it has excerpted for film showing in Ontario, and could he indicate what the purpose of such a film is? Do they update it from year to year, and who is invited to view it?
Mr. Kerrio: How much does it cost to see it?
Mr. Breithaupt: It is a training film.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The rumour was that it was made for the annual press Christmas party for the members of the assembly but I should disabuse you of that hope. I haven’t seen it. It is put together, I am told, from some pieces that were snipped out of movies from time to time in order I think to permit those who question the good works of the censor board and the need to have some sort of censor role in this province to have some idea of the things that would get through and would be shown on the screens in the event we didn’t have that function. I know from time to time certain members of the media, and I think before I got here certain members of the assembly, were invited out to the censor board to have a look at that outtake. It is still there and we would be happy to arrange for some members to go out and view that -- also some members of the press, as has been done previously in order to get some idea of what this dialogue is all about.
Mr. Foulds: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker: What is the cost of producing this film and do the facilities supply popcorn and cold showers?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Louis Malle was not invited to put together the next clip. It’s simply a process by which they take, off the floor of the projectionist’s room, the pieces they have snipped out and then splice them together so it is absolutely at no cost. They simply pick it off the floor, save the costs of disposal and splice them together and just put them on a roll. So there’s no cost. I am told, by the way, that a high percentage of those people who have viewed it have had to leave the room -- not to use the regular facilities, they just haven’t been able to stomach what was going on there. Hence I have chosen not to see it myself although over the summer I am thinking about it.
Mr. Breithaupt: It’s not a training film?
OWEN SOUND HOSPITAL TRANSFER
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Mr. Speaker, on May 30, 1978, the member for Hamilton Mountain (Mr. Charlton) stated in the House it was his understanding regarding the transfer of the Dr. MacKinnon Phillips Hospital in Owen Sound that the agreement of transfer included the condition that no existing program will be discontinued or altered without consultation with the Ministry of Health. The honourable member also asked if I was aware that the department of psychiatry at Owen Sound General and Marine Hospital plans to or has already discontinued the free drug program for psychiatric outpatients and did they consult with my ministry before making a change.
The honourable member’s understanding of the agreement is correct. By the terms of this agreement a condition exists which states that the hospital shall not delete, remove or modify any existing program unless instructed to do so by the province or unless prior consent is obtained in writing from the province.
My staff inform me that the free drug program has been modified. It has not been discontinued. This modification was instituted after the amalgamation and was a medical decision instituted by the director of psychiatry at the Owen Sound General and Marine Hospital in consultation with the medical staff of that facility and the public health nurses of Grey-Bruce counties. The previous procedure involved attending physicians in the community submitting prescriptions for refilling. Additionally every outpatient on free medication had their drug program reviewed by a psychiatrist every six months. The new procedure will ensure that all prescriptions for outpatients will be approved by the attending physician at the hospital as opposed to the local general practitioner.
This new procedure is still in its formative stages but the Owen Sound General and Marine Hospital --
Ms. Gigantes: Can’t hear you. Don’t mumble.
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I am sorry. I am trying to do it quickly.
This new procedure is still in its formative stages but the Owen Sound General and Marine Hospital has assured my staff that they in no way are cutting off medication to any psychiatric outpatient who cannot afford it.
The director further stated that no consultation with the ministry had been initiated by the hospital regarding this modification but that the medical staff informed the administration of the hospital that the change was to take place. The director has assured my staff that no one is being deprived of needed medication, that the medical care of outpatients is being improved. However, I have asked my staff to contact the Owen Sound General and Marine Hospital to ensure that the Ministry of Health is consulted on all future program changes.
ACID RAIN POLLUTION
Mr. Gaunt: Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the Minister of the Environment regarding acid rain and its devastating effect on the lakes and fish in the Muskoka-Haliburton area. Did the ministry first become aware that this was a problem in the area because of the April environment report on acid rain or was it known previously? Secondly, does the ministry know why Ontario’s acid rain problem is as severe as anywhere in the world?
Hon. Mr. McCague: On the first question, I think it was two years ago that the ministry started studying this. The second part of the question was -- is it more serious here?
Mr. Gaunt: No. Why is it as serious here as anywhere in the world?
Hon. Mr. McCague: That’s what we really don’t know, at this point.
Mr. Gaunt: Supplementary: Since the researchers are being dispatched to the area, will the minister report their findings to the House and indicate what the ministry proposes to do to correct the problem? Secondly, will the minister release the April 1978 environment report on acid rain?
Hon. Mr. McCague: The report the honourable member refers to is just some comments that one of the members of my staff made at a convention. Yes, as the studies become available we will certainly release them.
Ms. Bryden: Supplementary: I’d like to ask the Minister of the Environment if any of his staff were at the recent conference on acid rain sponsored by the NATO Advanced Research Institute, which was held just last month? From this conference there were some very alarming reports on both the aquatic and terrestrial effects of acid rain. The fact came out that acid rain has increased fortyfold in the northeastern United States and probably the same here. If the problem is so serious, would the minister consider asking the IJC to undertake a study of this particular problem? I understand they have to receive requests from governments before they will get into the field.
Hon. Mr. McCague: I’m not aware of anybody from our ministry having been at that conference, but I will check into it, and I will consider asking the IJC to investigate.
Mr. Eakins: Supplementary: Since the report in the newspaper refers to some of the lakes as being already dead, can the minister identify where these lakes are located? I know of no dead lakes in the Haliburton area, which was featured in this article.
Hon. Mr. McCague: I am not aware, either, of any dead lakes. I will check into that, and if there are any I will let the member know.
Mr. Cooke: In the absence of the Treasurer (Mr. McKeough), I will direct this question to the Premier. It concerns the announcement yesterday that the government will not be implementing property tax reform.
I would like to know why the government did not bring in property tax reform, market value assessment, for all areas of the province with the exception of Toronto in order to alleviate some of the inequities. Why should the rest of the province suffer because the government has not been able to solve the problems in Toronto? Secondly, has the government considered and will it bring in a bill to remove the freeze on the equalization factor in order to relieve some of the problems throughout the province?
Mr. Nixon: He is thinking about proposition 13.
Mr. Roy: No guts.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, after your admonitions this morning I won’t reply to the member for Ottawa East --
Mr. MacDonald: Answer the question.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I am getting around to it.
Mr. MacDonald: I know it, that’s the problem.
Hon. Mr. Davis: Listen, the member’s House leader today started out his questions with a lengthy speech --
Mr. McClellan: Order. Call him to order.
Mr. MacDonald: Oh no he didn’t. The Premier has already wasted one minute.
Mr. Speaker: The member for York South is contributing to that waste of time.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I think it would be improper to conclude that the only geographic area where there are potential difficulties with market value assessment is Metropolitan Toronto. That is not factually correct. There are a number of complicated areas, if I can phrase it that way, in the province. There are some that are less complicated than others.
Mr. J. Reed: Where the Tories have had their oar in.
Hon. Mr. Davis: There is no question that some in Windsor, while I am not sure whether they want market value assessment, would seek some change in the equalization factor or some way whereby they could get additional funding. I am not sure that they are that enthusiastic about property tax reform.
Mr. B. Newman: What about transitional grants?
Hon. Mr. Davis: It is the additional money. Because the member for Sarnia (Mr. Blundy) is not here to ask a supplementary, this also applies in Sarnia as well. We’re quite aware of these difficulties. We will continue to pursue it with those municipalities but I don’t want the member to feel that only Metro was a problem or is a problem as it relates to market value assessment.
Mr. Cooke: In view of the Treasurer’s statement yesterday in which he indicated no deadline for a new proposal to be brought forward to the Legislature, I wonder if the Premier and his government will now be reconsidering grants to cities like Windsor and Sarnia that are suffering from the inequities in the present system?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I thought I had already answered that question. We recognize there are some difficulties in some communities. We will continue to pursue those with those municipalities.
Ms. Gigantes: Pursue it? What does that mean?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I can’t give you any commitment this morning that we can find a solution to those problems, but we’re quite aware of it and we will continue to discuss it with them.
Mr. B. Newman: As the Premier knows, Windsor has been adversely affected for quite a few years now. Is the Premier prepared to provide some type of financial assistance so no longer will Windsor not receive its fair share of government grants?
Hon. Mr. Davis: I thought I had already answered that question but I shall try to answer it again. I’m quite familiar with the situation in Windsor. It has been brought to my attention by others and by the representatives from Windsor in this Legislature.
Mr. McClellan: Is the answer yes or no?
Mr. Cooke: When are we going to hear something.
Hon. Mr. Davis: I have some in-laws in Windsor. I’m quite familiar with it. I would only say to the member for Windsor-Walkerville that I can give no such commitment here this morning, quite obviously, but we do know that there is a problem.
Mr. Yakabuski: I have a question of the Minister of Revenue.
Mr. Haggerty: Ask him in caucus.
Mr. Yakabuski: In view of the fact that I have had a number of telephone calls in recent days, is the minister aware that Quebec tax officials were checking on Ontario truckers in the Pembroke area this past week with regard to gasoline tax, and is he aware that these truckers may travel into the province of Quebec only a distance of perhaps five or 10 miles and that the Quebec revenue branch is asking for tax in lieu of that mileage at something like five or 10 cents per mile?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Good question.
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I’m aware that this problem has existed for some time. I’m not aware of the recent problems the member has just mentioned.
The problem is simply this. The Quebec government has a different form of legislation than we do. Under their legislation, they have a fuel tax act which includes gasoline tax as well as fuel tax. Under their act they have the authority to stop vehicles in Quebec and determine whether or not they have purchased their fuel in Quebec. It’s a different program from any of the other provinces.
Ours is the opposite. We don’t have the same sort of legislation as they do. It’s a matter that has been discussed with the Quebec government from time to time by the Ministry of Revenue and others. I believe it was one of the items that the Premier discussed with the Premier of Quebec in his most recent meeting with him.
Ms. Gigantes: He’s pursuing that one too?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: We are still working on it. But at this point in time, under their legislation they are within their own laws to do exactly what they’re doing.
Mr. Haggerty: It’s the same answer you got in caucus, Paul.
Mr. Yakabuski: Is the minister aware that some of the Quebec truckers travel hundreds of miles on Ontario highways -- such as 17, new 17, and 417 -- and that our Ontario truckers are only going in a distance of five or 10 miles?
Mr. Roy: You see their trucks all over Ottawa, Paul.
Mr. Yakabuski: Has the Ontario government any formula at all whereby revenue can be collected from Quebec truckers and has any revenue been collected up to this time?
Mr. Kerrio: Why doesn’t the member say all truckers?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: We do collect revenue from fuel tax from Quebec truckers. There’s nothing in our legislation that would permit us to collect gasoline tax. It’s a separate piece of legislation. Our Gasoline Tax Act is very similar to the acts in eight of the other provinces in Canada. The one that’s out of line is in the province of Quebec. We are trying to convince them that they should perhaps change their legislation so it would be complementary to the legislation in the other provinces, but we haven’t been successful at this point.
Mr. Warner: Then they could give us another “I hate Quebec” speech.
Mr. Philip: Supplementary: I wonder if the minister could get together with the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow) and prepare a joint statement on reciprocity agreements involving trucking for members of the House, so that we have both the revenue section and the transportation section together and so that we can know how reciprocity agreements are going on. I understand the Minister of Transportation and Communications claimed in a statement recently in this House that there have been some successes in terms of reciprocity, but we just don’t have all of the pieces together. Would the minister do that, please?
Hon. Mr. Maeck: I could look into that for the member. I should mention while I’m on my feet that our ministry has negotiated four tentative agreements, which have not at this point been signed, between us and our counterparts in Quebec. They don’t get into the detail that we would like to see and that has to do, of course, with the gasoline tax problem as we see it. There is also a retail sales tax problem that we’re having some difficulty with.
The agreements we have drawn up and which I indicated have not yet been signed, cover such areas as co-operation and reciprocity and those kinds of things, but it doesn’t go as far as we would like to see it go in order to alleviate the problems that the member for Renfrew South has indicated.
WILKINSON FOUNDRY FACING
Hon. Mr. McCague: Mr. Speaker, on June 1 the Leader of the Opposition asked me a question on resource recovery. The answer is quite long and I would like to give it next week prior to question period.
Mr. Roy: That’s right, make a statement.
Hon. Mr. McCague: At this time I would like to reply to a question asked by the member for Dovercourt regarding Wilkinson Foundry Facing and Supply Company Limited in Toronto. On May 26 an incident occurred at this plant at approximately 2 p.m. A pipe used to transfer the material known as bentonite from a railcar to a silo ruptured and as a result the neighbouring properties to the east of the plant were blanketed with this material. The fallout extended approximately 400 feet downwind of the plant. An estimated 600 pounds of the material was released to the atmosphere.
My staff advise me that the unit was shut down within seconds of the incident. An onsite inspection was conducted by my staff in the afternoon of May 26, at which time samples of the material were taken for analysis and identification purposes. The follow-up inspection was conducted on May 29 and at that time staff advised company representatives that a violation notice under the Environmental Protection Act would be issued.
The violation notice was subsequently served on June 5. Further action will be considered pending a written submission by the company on the circumstances surrounding the incident. To prevent a recurrence of this incident the vent pipe which caused the incident was to be replaced with what is known as a bin vent filter by June 6. The company will also install additional five bin vent filters on each of the silos at the plant as soon as possible. Installation of this equipment will complete one phase of the company’s existing abatement program.
My staff advise me that the material released and known as bentonite is not a toxic material. However, the results of the analysis of the samples collected will confirm the company’s description of the material released.
Mr. Lupusella: Supplementary: In view of the minister’s statement today, I would like to ask the minister the following three-part question:
1. The minister stated that the material released and known as bentonite is not a toxic material, yet the book called Dangerous Properties of Industrial Materials, fourth edition, states clearly that the toxic hazard rating of bentonite is completely unknown. In view of this, what was the basis of the ministers analysis?
2. Given the fact that 600 pounds of the material was released in the atmosphere and that this company has been polluting the environment for over 25 years with coal dust, is it the minister’s intention to go beyond issuing a violation notice and actually prosecute the company in question?
3. Considering that the company has refused to comply with environmental regulations, why is the minister allowing the company to continue to pollute the residential area where the company is located?
Hon. Mr. McCague: As I said in the statement, we are doing an analysis of the product known as bentonite to find out the answers to the questions the honourable member is asking.
Ms. Gigantes: That’s not what you said. You said you were finding out.
Mr. Speaker: Order. Just ignore the interjections.
Hon. Mr. McCague: Secondly, the violation notice has been given and charges are being considered. On the third part, as to why the plant is allowed to stay there, the honourable member knows that my ministry has been looking at the performance of that company carefully for the past two or three months when the member raised it in estimates. I do appreciate the fact that he brought this matter to my attention, although our staff had already been there.
LINDSAY NURSING HOME
Mr. Eakins: My question is to the Minister of Health. As the minister is aware, the Nursing Homes Review Board revoked the licence of the Lindsay Nursing Home. On appeal to the Ontario Supreme Court, this decision was reversed and the court ruling restored the licence. What then is the status of the numerous replies he has received in response to a proposal call for a new facility? What happens now?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: I have indicated to my staff that I want to appeal that decision. So all those submissions are pending until that is resolved.
Mr. Eakins: Can the minister then give assurance that there will be no undue delay in providing adequate nursing home facilities in the Lindsay area?
Hon. Mr. Timbrell: Yes. The member will understand that we must resolve the matter in the courts. Otherwise, we would be in the position of having to allow the previous operator to do renovations which we had demanded for some considerable time and which we feel were not done in proper time. We do intend to appeal.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
CO-OPERATIVE CORPORATIONS AMENDMENT ACT
Hon. Mr. Grossman moved first reading of Bill 122, An Act to amend the Co-operative Corporations Amendment Act, 1973.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I thought I might take a moment to inform the House with regard to some of the changes being made in this bill. The bill results from a series of changes recommended by the United Cooperatives of Ontario and the Ontario Cooperative Development Association, which together represent the majority of co-operative members in the province.
These changes are mainly of a housekeeping nature and are designed to correct anomalies and reflect changed circumstances which have developed in accordance with our efforts to clean up, change and amend necessary and overdue legislation in our ministry. We are anxious to have this bill proceeded with.
Mr. Nixon: You are going to proceed with this in the fall, I understand.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The existing act exempts from audit requirements any co-ops which have less than $50,000 in assets, $15,000 in capital, $100,000 in sales and fewer than 15 members. There are currently an increasing number of nursery school co-ops which often have very little by way of assets, no capital and limited sales, although usually they have well in excess of 15 members. In such cases, it hardly makes sense to require an annual audit. Consequently, the amendment exempts co-ops which have never issued securities and have less than $5,000 in assets from the audit requirement.
In the existing legislation, the rate of interest on loan capital and dividends on share capital are limited to eight per cent. We feel this is not realistic in today’s money markets. We propose to raise that to 10 per cent. To ensure the incorporators will be members and users of goods and services of the co-op that they are incorporating rather than promoters, the legislation will be amended to permit incorporation by at least five members, including corporations “who shall be members” and to require verification by affidavit. This will remedy some abuses which have come to light recently.
The act now stipulates that before any securities are issued by a co-op with more than 15 members, the co-op must file with the minister an offering statement and obtain a receipt. This is to frustrate attempts by promoters to avoid disclosure. The amendment prevents a co-op from issuing a block of shares while it has fewer than 15 members and then transferring those shares to new shareholders, bringing the membership to more than 15, without filing an offering statement. It also prevents a co-op from accepting money on deposit from prospective security holders without obtaining a receipt for an offering statement.
In order to restore a right under the former legislation we propose to empower a co-op corporation to convert to a non-share corporation under part three of the Corporations Act.
Finally, there are also several amendments to ensure that co-op shares are issued or re-issued at not greater than par value so that the co-op principle of limited return on investment and return on investment on the basis of goods and services of co-ops will be followed. Of course, there are numerous other changes designed to clarify the intent of the original legislation, and to close loopholes which have developed over the past four years.
Mr. Nixon: Proceed with that in October, did you say?
DEBATE ON MOTION
Mr. Speaker: Before the orders of the day, I wish to comment on the incident of yesterday respecting the motion to adjourn the debate on the motion for the adoption of the report of the members’ services committee.
It was suggested to me that as there was an agreement between the House leaders, of which I had been informed, to the effect that the chairman of the committee should move the adjournment motion, I should have ruled the acting House leader out of order.
This, of course, is not correct. An agreement between the House leaders does not change the standing orders or the provisional standing orders unless moved in the House and adopted by the House. The House would expect that the House leaders would carry out the agreement at which they had arrived, but as no such procedural change had ever been adopted by the House, I point out that any member may move the adjournment of the debate, as the standing orders provide.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
SELECT COMMITI’EE ON THE OMBUDSMAN
Resumption of consideration of the fourth report of the select committee on the Ombudsman.
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise to enter the debate on the matter of the fourth report of the select committee on the Ombudsman. I have given a great deal of consideration to this particular debate because it does seem to me that somehow or other we have to come to grips with what seems to be an undercurrent in this House as it relates to this committee and to its functions.
I suppose perhaps the only way in this House to gain the attention of the assembly is to be somewhat abrasive, since nothing else works. If the members of this assembly do not wish to have a select committee on the Ombudsman, I think they ought to come forward and say so. If, in the alternative, they feel there should be a committee to engage in the review of the work of the Ombudsman, then it seems to me the reports of that select committee ought to be taken with some degree of seriousness by this House.
I am concerned that at this point in time we seem to use these periods as a sort of filler, like the old budget debates and the old throne debates. I, personally, am of the opinion that the work of this committee -- and I tell you it is work -- should not be treated in so cavalier a fashion.
Why did this committee undertake to go to look at the offices of ombudsmen in other parts of the world rather than stay home and make decisions here? Let me just point out to this assembly what we were asked to do, the obligations upon this committee:
The Ombudsman had asked for increased jurisdiction covering municipalities. We had, in effect, about two sets of authorities upon which to draw. One was all the written material about other ombudsmen. The other, Mr. Speaker, was the expertise of the Ombudsman and his staff, because they had already visited all of these offices, and it seemed to me that we ought, indeed, to take a look for ourselves. I want to tell you that in visiting these various jurisdictions -- you do not get the truth, that is you do not get the full picture of the operation; you can’t do it by reading, you’ve got to be there is what I’m saying.
Mr. Germa: You have got to get the flavour.
Mr. Haggerty: Ask the member for Sudbury, he knows.
Mr. Germa: Certainly, I am right with the member for St. George.
Mrs. Campbell: Mr. Speaker, we knew from written materials that the ombudsmen’s offices in the Scandinavian countries had jurisdiction over municipalities, but when we visited there, we found that what was written was not that which was in operation.
There were two basic factors: One, there was a very tentative approach of the ombudsmen in dealing with municipalities; and two, there was a very real situation that -- for example in Stockholm, Sweden -- when you talk about municipal functions, they were not all municipal functions but simply those which were carried out by a municipality as a direct agent, as it were, of the state government.
To my mind, the office of the Ombudsman in Ontario has somewhat similar jurisdiction only that his jurisdiction takes effect at a later stage than it does in Sweden, in that any appeal to the government of Ontario then fixes him with jurisdiction over that decision. Obviously, it relates to earlier decisions of the municipality.
We came to the conclusion that the jurisdiction should not be enlarged at this time. I would like to say that that is no reflection on the work of the Ombudsman of Ontario, but rather that as we sat in England and studied with the committee which relates to the municipal ombudsmen, we recognized the care with which that government had prepared and consulted with municipalities, both as to the personnel of the offices and also the function. It was the one place we visited where the committee which corresponds to our select committee, in fact showed signs of uneasiness with the office, and there was a sort of jealous regard of their authority. Of course, having seen that, having witnessed the experience in the Scandinavian counties, we came to the conclusion, that while an ombudsman’s function was appropriate to a large municipality, nevertheless, this was not the route to go.
Another reason we sought some knowledge and expertise was because we have been charged as a committee with drawing guidelines for the operation of the Ombudsman. Again, hindsight is a very fine thing, but we have learned that we ourselves in this Assembly made a serious mistake in not setting some guidelines before the office started, because that has contributed immeasurably to the problems which we have to acknowledge have arisen between the Ombudsman’s office and this Assembly.
We virtually told the Ombudsman to go out and create his own operation and he did. Ever since, some members in this House have been critical of him for doing just that. Now we are trying to work ex post facto on guidelines for that office.
Again, what did we have to go by? Very little, unless we saw the operation.
Very often it is only the civil servants and persons in an ombudsman’s office who have the expertise, and that is why we do make so many mistakes in government.
It is obvious to me, and I am speaking now only for myself, that when one gives an office to a person, with the sort of power that our Ombudsman has, it is very important that the Ombudsman follows in precise terms the act which puts that office into place.
As we visited, we saw that this was indeed the way in which the operation took place in the other jurisdictions, so we learned something which may be of benefit to the people of this province, to the Ombudsman and to the Assembly.
My friend the member for Lakeshore (Mr. Lawlor) in his recent debate on the subject spoke at some length about the problems between the Assembly and the Ombudsman. There has been a tendency to try and hush that down. I think it has to be out in the open. We have to face the facts and we have to resolve the difficulty.
I am very hopeful that with guidelines which we will be working on if we are permitted to sit in August, we may come to grips with these difficulties.
The third matter which had to engage us was that we ourselves have come to the conclusion there ought to be some kind of resolution to the way in which the budget of the Ombudsman is reviewed. I don’t think there’s anyone in the House who hasn’t been aware of the somewhat bitter interchanges that we had earlier on with reference to this matter. Our committee has recommended more than once that a committee such as ours, which has now some expertise in the field should be the appropriate committee to review that budget. This is one of the items which has been consistently ignored.
It’s interesting that in other jurisdictions the committees are actually performing that function. Perhaps they trust their committees more than we do. It is interesting too that in each case, save and except for the office of the Ombudsman in Edinburgh, there is a committee which works closely with the ombudsman and with which the ombudsman works closely and for the most part precisely. Here we seem to be labouring under all sorts of misapprehension.
I am very sorry that there are only two members of the government side in the House, one of whom is on the committee.
Mr. Mancini: Disgrace.
Mr. M. N. Davison: And an excellent member.
Mrs. Campbell: He is an excellent member without question, but I think I am preaching to the converted in his case. I would wish there could have been more government members who would stand up and frankly state their case --
Mr. Mancini: When the Minister of Revenue (Mr. Maeck) was the whip there were more government members here.
Mrs. Campbell: -- about the Ombudsman, the office and the committee itself. As we sit in our committee, there’s a great deal of work. I wonder at this point whether all we are doing is spinning our wheels. There are those who believe we shouldn’t be sitting too much. There are those who believe that somehow we are involved in a make-work program.
We have an obligation under our mandate to study the report of the Ombudsman. We have one which has been released. We have a second one which we are told is to be released by the end of this month. Then there is the Correctional Services report which is not officially before us at this point in time, but I have been advised by the staff of Correctional Services that their reply and the replies of those ministers who have been involved in that report had gone to cabinet. I wouldn’t expect that, if the response goes to the Ombudsman, he would sit on it for months; and so we face the inevitable with yet another report.
I suppose in a sense I have strayed from this report, although I trust I have covered the points which were made and the reasons for our study. It seemed to me that at this point in time somebody had to speak out and invite a debate on the realities.
Mr. G. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, I rise to discuss this report also, as my colleagues the member for St. George and the member for Lakeshore have done before me. In discussing this report and the office of the Ombudsman -- it becomes a very difficult task -- and we often had this problem when we toured the different offices throughout the world recently -- to distinguish between that office and the individual.
We have had the individual in this office for two to three years, and the office has taken on the personality of that individual -- it is natural that it would -- as we also found that the other offices we visited had taken on, in some respects, the personality of the individual holding that office.
I do not want to say that the report we are discussing today is just one dealing with personalities. There are some hard facts in that report. There are some hard realities that we discovered, some positions made and some opinions formed. A great deal of work was put into the report.
The report is not, as I have heard, a justification for the trip that was taken by the members of that committee. Throughout their endeavours in the different countries, speaking with and listening to and discussing with the people on the street, with members of committees that have a status similar to that of this Legislature’s committee on the Ombudsman and with the ombudsmen of those jurisdictions, the committee members learned a great deal. They were, as has been stated by the member for Sudbury, “getting the flavour” of the area. That is necessary.
One has to look, as the report states, at the culture, the parliamentary procedure and the traditions of the different jurisdictions where there are ombudsmen. One has to look at all those things before one can formulate the duties of an ombudsman in this area.
For our present Ombudsman, who is performing a gigantic task for the people of Ontario, we did insert into our legislative and governmental process an Ombudsman with no background or tradition of that office. We put him into a situation against an entrenched and long-standing civil service which had been in existence for many years and going about their business the way they felt they should.
We inserted an Ombudsman into a situation which immediately became adversarial, and we had some difficulties. As the report sets out in more figurative language, we spent many hours discussing the exact words that might be used in this report. It was done with painstaking accuracy and deliberation to get the precise words. When my friend from Lakeshore brought up the use of that term “delicate flower,” I think that is so figurative of the relationship between the Legislature and the ombudsman. It is very delicate. We have seen in other jurisdictions as we travelled, this very close relationship, almost admiration, between the two operations. There, again, it is that admiration and respect for the two offices that is yet to be developed, and maybe through the process of these reports, through the process of our committee bringing forth recommendations, that admiration and respect for each other’s position will come about.
In looking at our present office, it is said in the report that it will operate with a shadow of doubt because it does not have guidelines. It is those guidelines that this committee has been established to put forward. It is those guidelines we have tried to put forward. Those guidelines have not been acted upon by this Legislative Assembly and until they are acted upon that shadow of doubt will still exist.
The purpose of the committee will be meaningless unless they are acted upon, because that routine will continue -- report of the Ombudsman, report of the select committee; report of the Ombudsman, report of the select committee -- and we can go on with that procedure ad infinitum until the precise guidelines are formulated, put forth by this House and given to the Ombudsman as to how he is to conduct that office.
Otherwise, as the member for St. George has said, the Ombudsman will continue to operate the office as he feels it is necessary and within his interpretation of the statute that created that office. When I speak of that statute, it is a statutory office and statutory offices have to work within the framework of the statute they have been created by.
Indeed, and I’ve stated it before in this House on these reports, if the office is going to investigate bodies that have regulations to follow, bodies and civil servants that have administrative and statutory procedures to follow, and if they do not follow those procedures they are criticized by the Office of the Ombudsman, then that very office must follow its statutory procedures. That is very fundamental to that particular office.
Until this Legislature gives forth those guidelines and puts them down precisely, he will interpret them as it is most beneficial to that office. There may be some situations where it is beneficial to the individual he is serving, but, there again, is it the end that is justifying the means? It may continue that way.
Some may ask -- and it has been spoken of in the different media -- “Why did that committee have to travel so far?” The member for St. George has remarked on that very briefly. I can give you maybe a figurative situation. Yes, we had briefing material before we left. Yes, we could have read many articles on the ombudsman. In fact, when I read some of those articles I was amazed at the myths we had developed in this country and in this province as to the office of the ombudsman.
To emphasize that, I am sure no members in this House would play the game of hockey or would have even thought of the game of hockey had they picked up the rule book and read how it should be played. They’d say, “My God, that is a boring, boring game,” and think of what Harold Ballard would do now if he had also picked it up.
Mr. Nixon: The last chairman of the select committee said he thought it was more like reading about sex.
Mr. G. Taylor: He would have gone immediately to Hamilton and played football.
Mr. Nixon: I think his alliteration is more moving.
Mr. M. N. Davison: Not necessarily more accurate.
Mr. G. Taylor: When we get down, even more precisely, to the people we visited, there were some other questions as to why we didn’t bring them here. We saw in excess of some 60 individuals and I’m sure the cost of bringing those individuals here would have far outweighed the cost of that trip.
Mr. Nixon: How many were in your tour?
Mr. G. Taylor: There again, that’s trying to be apologetic, and I am not apologetic. I think the material we gained for this Legislature on the running and operation of the operation of the Ombudsman in this province was extremely beneficial, because prior to creating that office, there had been, as is not the usual practice for this Legislature, no study of similar operations. It was just created by a statute of this Legislature and it asked the person to continue on and good luck to him.
When I look at some of the recommendations of this particular report and some of the other ones, I find they have still not been acted upon. I must say that in working on this committee I have not seen, on any other committees I have been on in this Legislature, such unanimity in the report they bring forth, such unanimity of the feelings of all the members from all the parties on this particular subject. It is an unusual thing to see such unanimous support for the recommendations.
One might say we should make more recommendations. This report contains only two. One of the main and prime ones was that of increased jurisdiction. We have seen how increased jurisdiction has operated in other jurisdictions, and even though it was in the statute of the offices there how it was not acted upon. Particularly when we talk about the municipal field, some of the ombudsmen had the opportunity to delve into the municipal areas; but because they respected that municipal operation, they had the opportunity but they seldom exerted that opportunity, feeling that municipal operations were a very particular type of operation and should be left alone.
They had their particular elected officials who could perform those features of the ombudsman much more than expanding the present office and interfering with those operations and trying to solve the complaints of individual citizens. There again it was the personality, feeling and tradition of an office. Although it had the statutory power to get into the field it did not.
We have some very hard decisions to make on this, as we characterize many of the decisions we have to make. Are we going to get down to the point where these recommendations are going to be put into legislation and are we going to amend the legislation? That is very crucial to the functioning and performance of this very committee. If not, it might be that this committee can no longer serve its purpose and its terms of reference and maybe it should be wound down or discontinued; or asked not to sit if it is not going to carry out its functions, if the committee is going to report and the report will then gather dust.
We can add many recommendations -- I have set out a few that do not appear here, but some that I would like to make to this Legislature -- that may show even further consideration as to how this office should be operated. I’ve seen the correctional institutions report. There again, it’s a difference of opinion as to my interpretation of the statute and that of the Ombudsman, and even that of some members of the committee. It was initiated on his own volition, as he interpreted the statute, and we had a complete inspection of the correctional institutions of the province of Ontario.
Is that to continue? Do we have him then investigating other ministries at great cost? Is that not a policy of government or is he interfering with the policies of government? Is he then setting himself up to decide on the total operation of a ministry? Should that be spelled out? Specifically in the area of administration of boards, commissions and agencies, which ones should the Ombudsman have the right to look at?
Mr. Mancini: You don’t even know how many you have.
Mr. G. Taylor: Maybe he might find out how many we have if we were to allow him to do all of those. We have seen situations in some jurisdictions where they spelled out and had a precise list of those agencies, boards, commissions and bodies that the Ombudsman was responsible for. We don’t have that here. The office is still trying to decide what areas of jurisdiction it has.
We have seen numerous reports from the Ombudsman. They are down to approximately half-yearly. Some of the other jurisdictions have a situation where the reports came out on a precise day. One could expect when they are to be ready, again adding to the great advantage of the statistical data in those reports. It is no good if they’re not comparable in exact, precise terms and precise areas of the particular part of the year. Now we are down to a report every six months. Should the statutes spell out a report at a particular time of the year so that it will form a more useful comparison to other years?
Then there are the time limits within which complaints can be received. As a member of this committee, I see being resurrected complaints of citizens going back six years. Should there be a time limit on what the Ombudsman can start working on?
Mr. Nixon: You won’t get agreement on that.
Mr. M. N. Davison: Why don’t you sit there and listen? You might learn something.
Mr. Nixon: I have been sitting here and listening. It’s very interesting and a lot better than the last time when you were talking.
Mr. G. Taylor: Should there be a precise time limit? We have many statutes which we set up and where we put precise time limits in those statutes. If you don’t come forward with your complaint within a particular time limit, then goodbye. We have many of those in the litigious field. Maybe, that should be inserted into the Ombudsman’s field.
We have situations where the Ombudsman picks up the problem and continues it on, but where there is another form of alternative remedy, be it in the courts, which may be an expensive remedy. Should we insert into the Ombudsman act a situation where we say to the Ombudsman if there is an alternative remedy, do not carry on with that problem? If it is one where the person has an alternative remedy, let him take that route before the Ombudsman takes the problem in hand.
There are situations where we hear complaints about reports not getting out or the office not working swiftly enough. Some people say it’s insufficient staff. Some others would say put on some time limits. Maybe we should. When the Ombudsman makes a recommendation or goes to the ministry and says there’s a problem, maybe the ministry should have to reply within a certain time frame as well so that he and the office know that the ministry is cognizant of the problem and is going to act on the problem. Maybe we should come firmly forth with a recommendation that the ministry should be required to reply to the Ombudsman within a particular time frame.
Another feature that was very noticeable was the difference in the letters sent out by the office of our Ombudsman and that of the other offices on non-jurisdictional situations. Does it take a four to five-page letter to tell an applicant, wanting some relief that he cannot give him that relief, couched in words that many lawyers would not possibly understand. It is a very legalistic four-page letter telling him no.
Mr. Nixon: Surmounted on a rampant griffin.
Mr. G. Taylor: On three trilliums. We had seen very precise letters in other jurisdictions where letters from the ombudsman say: “No, it is not my jurisdiction,” or situations where they lift up the phone when the problem comes in and answer: “No, it is not our jurisdiction.” We have seen statistically where a great deal of the problems and complaints received by the ombudsman are non-jurisdictional problems.
We look at the cost and the time used up in that office, should that area be precisely delineated so that the Ombudsman can say:
“Sorry, that is not mine, goodbye. Go off to unemployment insurance where the answer to the problem is. Here’s the number,” instead of going into three or four pages to arrive at that conclusion.
There is one recommendation in this report about the budget staying with the Ombudsman committee. It is a recommendation of the committee. I may not entirely agree with it. I think there is some benefit in that budget being dealt with elsewhere, although I must say the committee itself has a greater knowledge of the operation of that particular office and thus can cast forth a greater degree of information on the cost and the running of that office.
I give forth some other suggestions, Mr. Speaker. There were different jurisdictions we went to where the ombudsman could, in effect, discipline civil servants or bureaucracies for their maladministration, one might call it, or their transgressions of the administrative procedure of a particular civil service that they were operating in. Maybe that might be something this Legislature might consider. In the situation we have presently, if there is an error made it goes up; and if it’s a type of ministerial responsibility, it’s the minister’s problem. There again, with very little discipline, maybe in conjunction with the civil service operation and its grievance procedure, it could come forward with the recommendations of the Ombudsman, so that some of these problems, which may be just strictly administrative, will not go unnoticed and continue in the future.
In some of the jurisdictions we visited the material that came forward -- the ombudsman’s report -- was a code of civil service practice, similar to legal precedents. Again, it was felt that when the civil servants read that report, they would say, “Oh my God. Look what happened to Harry. Let’s not have it happen to me. I want to correct my office so that I will not have any embarrassment come upon me or this administrative procedure that I’m carrying out.”
There are some other matters. We have secrecy in our Ombudsman’s reports and in the operation of the Ombudsman. Nobody knows who is being complained about, both on the administrative side and on the side of the complainant who is seeking some relief.
Mr. Haggerty: That’s got to be changed.
Mr. C. Taylor: In some jurisdictions, it was open. The reports came in each day and it was available to everybody. It was open to the press and other individuals to see this. Do we insert that or do we stay with our program of secrecy?
Mr. Haggerty: It’s got to be changed.
Mr. G. Taylor: Another area we found involved the informational process of the operation of the office itself. We have pamphlets. We have the Ombudsman going around speaking in different areas. We have members talking about it. Should we offer by, say the Ministry of Education, a program or a guideline saying, “Here is information about the office of the Ombudsman. Could you include that in your school program”; in your civics classes, or whatever other class it might be.
Mr. Haggerty: Civics would be good.
Mr. G. Taylor: The people would thereby be aware of the office and what it does for them and how it operates. If they knew its purpose, maybe the non-jurisdictional part of the workload would decrease if they were aware of the actual functions and duties of the Ombudsman in this province.
Undoubtedly the Ombudsman has received criticism from members of this House and members of the media as to its offices. We saw offices that were very close to the people in their physical location. Is the office of the Ombudsman as it is presently constituted physically removed from the people it primarily serves?
Our jurisdiction is no different from the other jurisdictions we visited. Without labelling him, the person was a person who generally needed the help of somebody. It wasn’t a person who could go and secure high-priced legal talent. It wasn’t someone who could pick up the phone and talk to the old school ties. It was the people who do not have the everyday advantage of high-priced legal talent or some other method. In the legal profession, we talk about giving people neighbourhood legal clinics, neighbourhood law offices. We put our constituency offices where people can find us. Maybe there again, the office of the Ombudsman could do the same. It might necessitate a larger budget, but maybe he should be required --
Mr. Haggerty: Put legal aid in with him.
Mr. G. Taylor: -- to put these neighbourhood offices about, rather than just having a phone system. There again, we saw the physical side of these operations. All of these features go to make up what is in this report. I recommend to you the features of this report. Sit and study it and get together in your own caucus with your own colleagues and maybe bring forth some recommendations.
One of the very tenuous things that was evident in some of the offices -- I’m not so sure it would operate here -- was that relationship between the office and the elected representatives. Some of the ombudsmen had to maintain the confidence of the Legislature. It was not a tenure appointment or for a period of time. Most of their terms related to the tenure of the Legislature that appointed them. There, again, that might be a very considered thing that we might do to implement a similar one. There are some who would say it would be difficult for them to get a person who would like the job for that short period of time, since we have more regular elections in this province, but the person who holds that office receives the support of the body that is elected by the people of the jurisdiction, and if he has that support he knows it is continuing support and, with the 10-year appointment that is presently there, he is not looking over his shoulder all the time wondering whether they’re going to be sniping at him.
Those are some of the recommendations I put forward to you besides the recommendations that appear in this formal report. I, like the member for St. George, and I’m sure some of my other colleagues on this committee, would hope that before too long the recommendations would be acted upon, or in the alternative give us directions and say that the work of the committee is no longer necessary, so that we are not sitting day after day, week after week, looking at these reports, because they are long reports, they are involved reports.
Indeed, we might even in the committee look at some other ways of dealing with these reports. I saw one jurisdiction where they had support staff who looked at the ombudsman’s report, went over the report, came back to the committee and highlighted it and said: “Here are the things that you must look at,” which significantly reduced the time spent by the legislators on the committee that is comparable to ours. Maybe that is a situation we might look at for our own use in this committee.
I will add one more feature to this report. Had I not gone on that trip, I would not have been given the opportunity. As we have seen around this Legislature --
Mr. Haggerty: You are well adapted to the labour, George.
Mr. G. Taylor: -- around this Legislature, there are certain mottoes inscribed in the wood, one that I’m sure is particular to the Ombudsman’s office and how he operates and they operate throughout the world. I noticed one very close at hand here, Audi Alteram Partem, which is indicative of the operation of the Ombudsman’s office, but my friend from the Lakeshore and I developed great feeling for this one in Denmark --
Mr. Nixon: Maybe you’d better translate that, please.
Mr. Haggerty: Ask the member for Lakeshore.
Mr. C. Taylor: No, I’m not going to. I’ll give you the translation. It has puzzled us for some time and I’ll give it to my colleagues here. This was in their legislative building, and it was: “The one who understands the language of the birds can become a minister.”
Mr. Ruston: That sounds right.
Mr. Nixon: That’s what happened to St. Francis. Most of the ministers over there are for the birds.
Mr. C. Taylor: I leave you with that. If you solve the problems, we might not have to continue travelling throughout the world studying other jurisdictions.
Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a few comments concerning the report on the Ombudsman which was presented to the Legislature by the members of the select committee.
It’s been three years now since we’ve had an Ombudsman for the province of Ontario and I was one of the people -- although I wasn’t a member of the House at that time -- who was very pleased to see that the government had taken the step to appoint an Ombudsman for this province. Although they kind of dragged their feet for a while, they finally came around and appointed an Ombudsman, which was needed for this province.
I would like to say that in my experience in the last three years, being a member of a legislative body and coming into contact with many people in the riding and across the province of Ontario, I’ve noticed that the people feel comfortable having someone they can go to with a problem or with a concern, someone who is at least an arm’s length away from the government and someone who is independent of the government.
As a matter of fact, I’ve had the privilege of using the services of the Ombudsman myself. I know, in one particular case, I don’t think we could have got any type of justice at all from the present government if it had not been for the Ombudsman.
Mr. Speaker, a great amount of the debate today has been centred around the need for guidelines for the Ombudsman. In my opinion, the Ombudsman should be able to investigate any matter which comes under the jurisdiction of the Ontario government, any of its boards, agencies or commissions. There should be absolutely no attempt to try to restrain the Ombudsman from investigating any of these matters which come under any of these agencies --
Mr. Haggerty: Open your books, Larry.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Close my eyes.
Mr. Mancini: -- boards and commissions. It should be stated in the regulations that a cabinet minister or chairman of a board, agency or commission, should reply to the Ombudsman within a certain amount of time. I can recall from personal experience a matter that I turned over to the Ombudsman and we waited endless days for the minister to respond. Possibly this type of response needed the length of time that he took and possibly it didn’t, but I think we would get a much fairer deal if it stated in the regulations that the members of the cabinet or the chairmen of these boards and agencies had to respond in a certain amount of time.
Also, I think there should be guidelines for the budget of the Ombudsman. I can well recall the bitter battle that took place last year between the members of the Legislature and the Ombudsman. Many of the points that the members brought up at those estimate hearings were good and valid points and they criticized the Ombudsman at that time for what they considered his excessive opulence. I believe that when any board or minister or anyone at all who is related to the government goes about the province and has his office furnished in a way people might consider excessively opulent, he should come under criticism. I believe he should be made to stop and I believe he should be made to operate under the rules of restraint just like any other arm of the government. I believe that the members of the committee were right in what they did.
Although the Ombudsman might have taken some of that criticism personally and he might have taken some of that criticism as unfair, I am one who believes that it was not. The members were not there to criticize the work that the Ombudsman had done, they were not there to criticize the areas of investigation that he wanted to undertake but they wanted the Ombudsman’s office to be a human and humble office, one that any person in the province of Ontario could approach without feeling inadequate.
At that particular committee hearing, the Ombudsman made a strong defence for himself and he mentioned to the members of the committee there that evening that he had wished to have a management consultant’s study done of his operation. He felt with this kind of study he would be able to make his large office more efficient and would be able to assist more people throughout the province of Ontario.
However he felt -- and he stated to us -- that the Board of Internal Economy had treated him shabbily and had treated him without due respect for his office. The way that I recall it, the Board of Internal Economy, which is controlled by the Tory government and which I believe has at least three cabinet ministers on it, had arranged for the internal audit to be done but had arranged for this in such a way that possibly the confidential files of the Ombudsman might be open to the present government; and I don’t think that we in this Legislature should ever compromise the office of the Ombudsman in that manner. I feel that if the Ombudsman felt it was necessary to have this management consultant’s study done on the funds which should have been appropriated, there should have been no sly move or attempt by this government to try to get into the files of the Ombudsman.
I can well recall how furious the Ombudsman was that evening, and he informed the committee members that the Board of Internal Economy could keep its money and the qualifications it had set down, and that under no circumstances was he going to have any kind of management consultant study done which might jeopardize the privacy of his files and the way he operates. I believe the Ombudsman did the right thing --
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Really?
Mr. Mancini: -- and that’s why I believe it is necessary that strict guidelines be set up as to how we budget for the office of the Ombudsman. I believe that the budget should be set by the select committee. These are the people who have worked with the Ombudsman over a number of years. They know how his office operates. They know his jurisdiction well. They have been around the world and they have seen the offices of other ombudsmen. They have had the opportunity to compare his operation with others. I have the confidence in them that they would be able to set a fair and equitable budget for the Ombudsman.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: How did your member on the Board of Internal Economy vote?
Mr. Mancini: I am giving my own personal opinion of the report of the select committee.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Then don’t accuse the three Tory cabinet ministers on that committee. Include your member on that committee.
Mr. Mancini: Mr. Speaker, when the member for Parry Sound was the government whip, there used to be dozens and dozens of members there; now we only have three, and one’s squawking.
Hon. Mrs. Birch: What has that got to do with it?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: How did your member vote on the Board of Internal Economy?
Mr. Gregory: If there were a competent speaker, there would be more members here.
Mr. Mancini: I’m sorry; I didn’t hear that.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: He said if there were a better speaker today, there would be more members over here.
Mr. Mancini: I wasn’t the only speaker today.
Mr. Eakins: The Tories should remember they had 31 away yesterday; so their record wasn’t very good.
Mr. Acting Speaker: Order. Will the member for Essex South please continue uninterrupted?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: How did your member vote?
Mr. Mancini: There is no way that anybody can defend three government members.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: You have got five of your colleagues to listen to you.
Mr. Mancini: There is no way anybody can defend that.
Mr. Ruston: Three out of 57.
Mr. Mancini: Yes, three out of 57.
Mr. Ruston: No, there are four.
Mr. Mancini: Four?
Mr. Ruston: The member for Simcoe Centre is down here on our side.
Mr. Mancini: Oh, I see. I welcome him aboard. We are glad to have him here. There’s a seat for him right back here next to me.
An hon. member: I don’t want to remind you, but at most you only had five in here this morning.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: In fact, there are as many Tories listening to you as there are Liberals.
Mr. Nixon: This whole place ought to close down.
Mr. Mancini: I can well recall the good job that the member for Parry Sound did, and the government whip’s office has suffered since he left.
One of the major duties charged to the select committee on the Ombudsman in the past few months was whether the responsibility of the Ombudsman and his jurisdiction should be expanded; he wanted to cover the municipal level and expand his office to do the same.
I am pleased to find out and I am pleased to hear that the members of the committee have opted against that proposal. I do not believe that it is necessary for the Ombudsman to investigate these local matters. I think that the Ombudsman’s office at this time needs more experience and more time to get its office together to find out exactly how and under what guidelines he wants to investigate the activities that are brought to his attention and come under the Ontario government and its agencies.
For the life of me I cannot understand at this particular time why the Ombudsman would want to investigate other areas. His staff at present is in the neighbourhood of 100 and I am sure, if he had to investigate these other areas, there would be a large increase in his staff and in his budget and pretty soon we would have a bureaucracy so big in the Ombudsman’s office that it might become inefficient. When that happened who would investigate the Ombudsman’s office for its inefficiency? I think we need a lean operation in the Ombudsman’s office and they should get on to the matters they have already been charged with. In the future, if the members of the assembly feel that his office should be expanded, then I say we can consider that step.
I would like to congratulate the members on the select committee on the Ombudsman for the work and time they have put into their project. I encourage them to continue to sit on this matter.
Mr. Nixon: Five days a week.
Mr. Gregory: Five days a week for 10 weeks.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: When the House isn’t sitting.
Mr. Eakins: Much has been said by the various speakers in regard to the report and I rise to speak very briefly, as the hour is getting along. I wanted to make a few comments as a member of that committee.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: John, there’s only two Liberals in the House today and there’s five Tories.
Mr. Eakins: Well I’ll tell the minister, the average of the Liberals in the House today is much greater than the average of the Conservative Party yesterday.
Mr. Nixon: And the quality is always better.
Mr. Eakins: And the quality is tops.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Not in ability.
Mr. Gregory: We will just have to admit that you are just average.
Mr. Mancini: Bring the member for Parry Sound (Mr. Maeck) back as whip.
Mr. Eakins: There was some comment made when the committee on the Ombudsman arranged a tour to look into the ombudsman function in various countries.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Now the member for Essex South (Mr. Mancini) is leaving; let the record show that.
Mr. Mancini: Let the record show he is going to talk to the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon).
Mr. Eakins: I support the trip the members took to look into these jurisdictions.
I remember when I served in municipal office, many people used to say, “don’t go to the convention, save the money.” Many of the people who did not take the time to attend the various conferences and conventions were the losers, because they were not keeping up with pending legislation and making their voice known to government. I feel the same way about this tour that the committee on the Ombudsman took.
As the Ombudsman has been in office for only three years, I think this was an appropriate time to visit some of the other jurisdictions to gain from the experience they had the benefit of receiving over a period of years, such as in Sweden where the ombudsman’s office has been in effect since the 1800’s, right down to Israel where it has only been in existence for the last seven years. There was a good variety of jurisdictions to visit and compare notes with.
I am supportive of the recommendations in the report, but I would like to express a couple of opinions. My colleagues have pointed out some of the differences in the various countries. For instance, in Sweden the complaints are received by the press. They can’t print the names of those involved but they are free to report on the type of complaint. In other countries, however, the press is not involved at all.
One jurisdiction, Israel, impressed me very much, and I am sure other members would join with me in that. It is a joint function where the state controller and ombudsman’s office is one office. It is given the status of a cabinet ministry, but is outside and independent. The state controller function has a staff of about 500, and the ombudsman function about 50. The ombudsman deals with anybody coming under the state controller’s jurisdiction.
Dr. Nebenzahl, the ombudsman, is selected by a committee and appointed by the state. He is in his fourth year as ombudsman and is the second person to hold this office. He has never had a strong political affiliation, which I found very interesting. He sees the combined function as having a very great advantage. In fact, I would say it is unique in the world.
Complaints in Israel may he received in writing or verbally. The members of the Knesset, unlike England, can contact the Ombudsman on behalf of a citizen. I noted that Dr. Nebenzahl said that he does not see anybody personally, because he feels it would be unfair unless he saw everyone. I was very much impressed with the operation in Israel. As a result of the visit to the various jurisdictions we will have an opportunity to put together their comments and views which I am sure will be very helpful to us here.
One complaint that I hear in Ontario is -- which I think sometimes is unfair in respect to the Ombudsman -- the Ombudsman’s office and, in many ways, his budget.
While the ombudsman’s office in some of the other countries was very small in comparison to our own, I feel the Ombudsman here is certainly entitled to an office comparable to that of a cabinet minister. I don’t think anyone should complain about that.
When I compared the ombudsmen and the members of the parliaments in other countries we visited, I found the members of this Legislature are physically better looked after, in many ways, than many of those members. I think this is comparable to the office of the ombudsman there.
One observation I made is the Ombudsman in Ontario, in three years, is perhaps better known, both in office and person, than in any other jurisdiction I visited.
Sometimes we hear complaints about the Ombudsman advertising the office and advertising for business. I found, in talking to some of the committee members and some of the ombudsmen’s staff, that many jurisdictions would like to do what the Ombudsman has been able to do here, that is make the office very well known throughout his jurisdiction.
One recommendation regarding jurisdiction over municipal matters: As one who has served in municipal affairs, I believe that somehow and some day the Ombudsman’s function should include municipal jurisdiction. However, I feel at this time the recommendation of the committee is proper. I feel the Ombudsman’s office should iron out a few of the problems they have before moving to a further jurisdiction.
Some comment has been made about the time the office spends on non-jurisdictional complaints. This can be dealt with in two ways. The Ombudsman can simply say it’s not our function, set it aside and let them look up the proper authority; or he can endeavour, as he is doing, to help out by referring them to the appropriate jurisdiction.
I think all members of this House realize that many people who contact us are confused as to jurisdiction, whether it’s municipal, provincial, or federal. As a member I personally endeavour to help them out whenever I can by steering them in the right direction, rather than saying this is not my function. This might be looked upon as one of the faults of the Ombudsman, if you wanted to look at it that way, that he is endeavouring to help everyone and as a result perhaps has got bogged down with a lot of complaints that perhaps he could have redirected to other jurisdictions.
I feel we all have a job to do in creating a good liaison with the Ombudsman’s office. I, for one, am going to do everything I can to create that good liaison, rather than have continual disharmony with the Ombudsman’s office. I’m supportive of the Ombudsman’s office and I think it’s been very helpful, certainly in the jurisdiction I represent.
I would like to see a speeding up in the processing of the cases so that complainants can get results much faster than at the present time. This is one of the main reasons I would not, at this time, like to see the Ombudsmen take on a municipal function.
These are just a few of the comments which I have had. I have found the visit to the other jurisdictions most helpful and as time goes on I hope we can draw on those experiences to help us here in the jurisdiction of Ontario.
Mr. Nixon: I thought I would make a few comments about the report. I feel very strongly about the matter pertaining to the Ombudsman, the committee, his jurisdiction, who’s going to look after his budget and so on.
It’s very difficult, really, for me to express my views as clearly and as thoroughly as I would like, because those views can very easily be misconstrued. I have a high regard for the members of the committee, and it goes without saying a high regard for the Ombudsman himself.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Okay.
Mr. Nixon: Frankly, I believe he would have served the province far better if he’d simply stood for nomination to election in this House for any of the three parties and would come into the House and express his views with his unmatched style. He’s obviously one of the brightest and ablest people in the law profession, perhaps in any profession, in the province. In some respects I think we have lost a good deal of his inherent and personal abilities by elevating him to this high office that is so easily misunderstood, and perhaps to some extent, in my view, is misunderstood even by the Ombudsman and the committee.
Frankly, in perspective, I am disappointed at what we have done in the establishment of the office and in our relatively brief experience with the office. I have felt that the argument or the public discussion over the expense and the trappings of the office has been unfortunate, but in my view as well the blame rests entirely with the individual who received the appointment. There is no question in my mind that he is and was the ablest person for it, but I personally feel that the expense of the office and its size and its ramifications have gone beyond what I as an individual member who voted for the formation of the office had envisaged.
Frankly, I feel the same way about the select committee dealing with the Ombudsman. I almost feel that with the length of time they spend in their deliberations, with the staff they want and have assembled around them, and with the seriousness in which they take their responsibilities --
Mr. M. N. Davison: How do you assemble one staff member around a committee?
Mr. Nixon: -- that we could very well do without the Ombudsman and let them deal with all of these problems. A person in the community who feels that he cannot be served by the government or be served by a private member could approach the Ombudsman’s committee. They’re in session all the time. Why can’t they deal with these things?
I just feel that we have somehow established a system and an office, and ramifications around it, which are far more complex and enveloped in mystery and expense than we ever envisaged. I certainly am not prepared to commend the committee for their decision to travel all over Europe. I have listened to the members of the committee and as far as I can tell there are only two or three people here who aren’t members of the committee. I’ve listened to them justify to themselves and anybody who would listen how important it was that they find out what is happening in all those countries.
I think, Mr. Speaker, you know my views on this. I travel at public expense myself from time to time, so I suppose I can be guilty of hypocrisy. But for that whole committee with all of their staff to assemble themselves and traipse through Europe finding about what Messrs. Ombudsmen are doing --
Mr. Lawlor: You are turning into a conservative.
Mr. Nixon: -- I just think was a classic waste of money. For us to stand here and try to justify it is just bloody ridiculous.
Mr. Lawlor: One of the most purblind members.
Mr. M. N. Davison: Nonsense. You don’t understand the process.
Mr. Nixon: Just ridiculous. All right, I have unburdened my views in that particular matter and I would certainly feel like a hypocrite if I stood here and nodded to the chairman and the other members of the committee and said, “What a fine job you’re doing.”
Mr. Lawlor: Neanderthal.
Mr. Nixon: I think the concept of sitting for five days a week all through the summer dealing with the four or five annual reports that we’ve had in the three years of the function of the Ombudsman is once again a very questionable exercise.
An hon. member: Why don’t you wait and see?
Mr. G. Taylor: No committee should sit. Cancel all the committees for the summer.
Mr. Jones: A waste of taxpayers’ money.
Mr. Lawlor: Why don’t you get on some committee and find out?
Mr. Nixon: Those are my views on those matters. As a private member, I put them forward. You see, it’s useless to say I have a high regard for all of the individuals involved in it because you’re bound to take it personally and I can’t help that.
One thing I suppose I should express a view on is the Ombudsman’s budget. I was listening with interest to my colleague the member for Essex South (Mr. Mancini) who indicated the Ombudsman had said that he was not treated with respect by the Board of Internal Economy. I wasn’t sure whether this was in the review of his most recent budget, which took place in my presence on the board I guess about two months ago now, or perhaps the review previously when there was more public and private controversy about it. I trust it was not the most recent review became frankly I could think of no reason why the Ombudsman would be concerned about his treatment at the board.
It may have referred to a previous occasion. I certainly hope that nobody comes before the board or is dealt by the board without adequate respect to the person’s office and the person as an individual. Anything else is obviously regrettable and should not be allowed to happen.
I think, really, the concept of the Ombudsman’s committee approving his budget is a good one. I think that it is the same sort of thing that should apply to the Provincial Auditor, that the public accounts committee -- which, once again, is chaired by a member of the opposition with representation from all parties -- may very well have the principal responsibility to review the budget with the official concerned. I see nothing wrong with that and there may be other public offices where that would be useful. Certainly for the Ombudsman and the Provincial Auditor, it would have usefulness. It seems to me that it would be quite possible for the select committee, or the standing committee concerned, to review the budget in detail with the officer and the office concerned and approve it with their resolution.
It is quite possible for convenience that it would then come before the Board of Internal Economy with the approval of the appropriate committee. Perhaps that step could be eliminated, I don’t know. I personally think that the Board of Internal Economy is the parallel or perhaps opposite construction to the Management Board of Cabinet. It is through the Board of Internal Economy and the Management Board of Cabinet that the recommendations for expenditure are printed in the estimate book and come before the Legislature, which of course has the final approval for the expenditure.
The Legislature does not have the power to increase the amounts by resolution, as we know, but does have the power to reduce them or give them basic approval. It seems to me that recommendation is one that ought to receive the consideration of the members of the House on all sides.
Mr. M. N. Davison: Will you argue that before the board?
Mr. Nixon: It was indicated by the member for Simcoe Centre (Mr. G. Taylor) that unless the House acts in a positive way in the recommendations that it may be that the committee ought to be wound down. Frankly, that idea is very much in my mind, not that my opinion will wind it down but at least it is an opinion which I have the right to express.
I personally think the involvement in the procedures of the Ombudsman by the committee have, in my view, had what you might call diminishing return. The Ombudsman concept, as I understood it, was that his office was there with sufficient research availabilities so that any citizen could approach him if he felt wronged by the bureaucracy or the powers of government.
I believe that we established, perhaps, too much machinery, too much review of the Ombudsman and his office. I, as a member of the Legislature, would offer my advice to the select committee on the Ombudsman: that they should review their own concepts of their job. If they feel that this is going to require a full-time operation by that committee, then there is one member who disagrees with them. I am going to say so whenever I am asked and even when I am not; that’s why I do so now.
I think that the controversy involving the Ombudsman has been unfortunate. I personally feel that our experience over the past three years has not indicated that we have had that many cases in the community that could not have been remedied in a good and useful way that justifies all of the expenditures and all of the involvement that we are getting ourselves into. The thing seems to be feeding on itself and growing in expense and complication to the point that its usefulness is, in my view, coming under question.
I simply say again -- I suppose so that I can send it out in Hansard -- to people who may feel that I have affronted them personally, that is not my intention. I have the highest regard for the individual and the individuals in the committee. Whether or not you accept that, I certainly say it sincerely. I believe that we have a problem involved with the committee and with the Ombudsman which we didn’t have to have.
It is unfortunate, perhaps, that we didn’t establish the office with more forethought. I was a member of the Legislature, and a leader of the party which was pressing for what we called a parliamentary commissioner in those days, and we had done a considerable amount of research which we felt would have been effective if our recommendations had been accepted. We have the best qualified person who could possibly have been found. We have a committee with the very best of intentions. I, for one, am not satisfied with the function of either of them.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Does any other honourable member wish to participate in the debate? This then concludes the debate on the consideration of the fourth report of the select committee on the Ombudsman.
LIQUOR LICENCE AMENDMENT ACT
Resumption of the adjourned debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 96, An Act to amend the Liquor Licence Act, 1975.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: They’re all gone.
Mr. Nixon: I’m quite prepared to speak.
Mr. Mancini: Yesterday we were debating Bill 96 which was introduced into this House by the Minister of Consumer and Commercial relations. The main and most important aspect of this bill is to raise the legal drinking age in the province of Ontario from 18 to 19 years of age.
I can recall last night how the Minister of Correctional Services (Mr. Drea) was citing how courageous this present Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations was for introducing such a bill, and how courageous he was to stand up in the House and say that the drinking age must be raised.
Mr. Nixon: Now that he is 20.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: I was waiting for the member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway).
Mr. Mancini: Where was the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations or his predecessor two years ago when the Jones report was tabled with the cabinet?
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Where were you?
Mr. Mancini: Where were the cabinet ministers who supported my private member’s bill back in November? Where was the strong government action? It was nowhere to be found. As a matter of fact, they had to wait until a private member’s bill forced them to act on such an important matter.
Mr. Gregory: Do you want a billboard?
Mr. Mancini: Not only that, they had a debate in cabinet numerous times, as was reported by the media.
Mr. Gregory: How do you know?
Mr. Nixon: We listen in. We have a tunnel.
Mr. Gregory: That’s how you know.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: You sure do. You’ve done that for years.
Mr. Mancini: On numerous times there was a debate in cabinet, not about whether the private member’s bill which I introduced would pass, but whether it would or would not be blocked.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: That’s not true at all.
Mr. Mancini: Where is the courage the Minister of Correctional Services was talking about last night? It’s nowhere. There was no courage at all. The government was backed into a corner and now this is its response.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Why didn’t you do it before the Jones report?
Mr. Mancini: It’s typical of the actions we have seen by the government since the fateful 1977 election when the people of Ontario said no way -- for a second consecutive time, as my good friend from Windsor-Walkerville points out.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: You have stolen your bill right from the report of the member for Mississauga North (Mr. Jones). Where was your courage before his report?
Mr. Gregory: You have built your whole career on a private member’s bill.
Mr. Mancini: Even though the government had recommendations from the select committee on highway safety to raise the drinking age to 19 --
Hon. Mr. Grossman: And Terry Jones.
Mr. Mancini: -- and all the statistics they had to back up their statements, still there was no government action. Not until they were backed into a corner on that fateful day on November 10, 1977, when they had to vote on private member’s Bill 76. That’s when it happened.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: You were here for two years. Where was your bill? You could have introduced a bill at any time.
Mr. Mancini: The private members’ lottery system did not start until last year. This was the first opportunity I had to do something about it and I took it.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: The member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) has been introducing bills for years.
An hon. member: That’s leadership.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: You’re riding on Terry Jones’ back.
Mr. Mancini: We also have to witness in this House the third party, which has been so disorganized and disunited for the last few months that --
Mr. Gregory: Members over there ought to hear this garbage.
Mr. Mancini: -- it can’t get together on a major policy such as raising the drinking age. What do they do? They call a free vote. They still think it’s private members’ hour. For their information it’s not private members’ hour --
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Did you hear Alf Stong last night?
Mr. Mancini: -- they should get together on this very important issue, because they do represent a lot of people in the province of Ontario --
Mr. G. Taylor: Remo, there’s only one of them here. To whom are you speaking? Wait until they are here to defend themselves.
Mr. Mancini: -- and they should give them the fine representation that they deserve.
Mr. Gregory: Pick on somebody your own size.
Mr. Mancini: I believe that we’re going to be seeing a lot of free votes from the third party in the near future. I can bring to the attention of the third party, and to the attention of this Legislature, that there is a socialist government in this country --
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Be careful.
Mr. Nixon: Red Tories.
Mr. Mancini: -- which has taken action on the drinking age. The socialist government of Saskatchewan lowered the drinking age from 21 to 19 then to 18, and after finding that the age of 18 was not satisfactory, they raised the drinking age back to 19. That’s their socialist colleagues in Saskatchewan who did that, sir.
Mr. Gregory: That’s where you got the idea from.
Mr. Mancini: This bill serves two good purposes, two very good purposes. It removes legal drinking from the high school age population of our province.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: We have been telling Stong that but he won’t listen.
Mr. Mancini: No longer will people in our high schools be able to take a liquid lunch and then go back to the classroom and be an undue influence on the other students in the class.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Page four of the Jones report.
Mr. Mancini: Whether it’s page four of the Jones report, or page five of the select committee on highway safety report, or page 18 of some other report, that’s not what’s important. What’s important is that the government had all those reports and didn’t do anything about them. They just dragged their feet. It’s a slow government. They had a problem and they didn’t do anything about it, that’s what’s important.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: What do you think this bill is; Bill 96?
Mr. Nixon: The minister was out observing drinking habits at the ball game.
Mr. Mancini: The second most important aspect of this bill is that it brings public debate on the whole issue of alcohol consumption. Over the last few months, with the attention that the news media have given this issue, it’s given everyone in this province and in this Legislature a good opportunity to discuss the whole problem of alcohol consumption, what it’s doing to our people here in the province and what we can do to minimize any of the great problems we foresee.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: You’re moralizing.
Mr. Mancini: No, I’m not moralizing. We heard statistics from the Minister of Correctional Services last night.
Mr. Nixon: He is telling it like it is.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, would the member for Essex South address his remarks to the chair and just disregard the interjections?
Mr. Mancini: Yes, I will. This is all very important. Fine, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Yes, come on.
Mr. Mancini: We heard statistics last night from the Minister of Correctional Services, who stated that 90 per cent --
Hon. Mr. Grossman: We’re going to continue, though.
Mr. Gregory: Trying to ignore you is difficult.
Mr. Mancini: -- of all his inmate population had alcohol abuse problems. He also stated that in the federal penal system 80 per cent of all the inmate population had alcohol problems. So we have all the statistics; we don’t need any more statistics. There is one thing that is very certain, the government had all these facts before it. They refused to act until they were backed into a corner and they didn’t even know until the very last day whether they were going to allow my bill to even have a vote.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: That is totally and completely false.
Mr. Mancini: The minister will have his chance to speak.
So, Mr. Speaker, without hesitation, I support this bill; and, without hesitation, I suppose I should congratulate the minister for having some courage, I guess -- not much, I don’t want to be too kind to him -- to bring this bill before the House.
I would like to say that subsection 4 of section 2, where the bill allows people who are 18 years of age to continue to work on premises that serve alcohol, I think was a good move by the minister, because in this time of high unemployment I think we should do everything we can to keep our young people working. I support that aspect of the bill.
I would like to make one final comment. Many of the regulations that we are going to enact are not included in the bill. I was always under the impression when the government side of the House talked about the package legislation and changing many of the rules that we had gone by before, that these things were going to be included in a bill.
I don’t think it gave the members of this House a fair opportunity to debate and to state our views on some of those changes, such as the new regulation which the minister proposes to open up drinking on Sundays and on voting day. I think he should have given the members a little more authority to speak on those subjects. When it is done by regulation, it really doesn’t matter because it is going to be done.
Hon. Mr. Grossman: Another private member’s bill.
Mr. Mancini: Oh, another private member’s bill for every government regulation that is made?
Finally, I would like to state once again my support for this bill and hope for a speedy passage so that the law can be enacted by December 31, 1978.
On motion by Mr. Young, the debate was adjourned.
On motion by Hon. Mr. Grossman, the House adjourned at 12:58 p.m.